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The Sources For Jerome'S Hebrew Scholarship

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Chapter Summary

This chapter first examines the status of the Hebrew language itself in the fourth century, paying particular attention to how Hebrew was taught. Then, it considers Jerome’s own encounter with Hebrew and describes the specific resources that Jerome used in his study of the language. The chapter discusses Jerome’s comments on Hebrew words in his Commentary on Jeremiah, both to evaluate the plausibility of his information and to ascertain the extent and nature of his reliance upon previous Greek sources. The recentiores were the primary reference tools in Jerome’s context for doing Hebrew philology. The fact that Jerome’s personal instructors learned Hebrew in the world of fourth century Rabbinic Judaism explains why there are parallels between some of Jerome’s interpretations and those found in certain rabbinic texts. This combination of the Greek versions and rabbinic Hebrew scholarship into a single philological method was Jerome’s greatest innovation as a Hebrew philologist.

Keywords: Commentary on Jeremiah; Greek sources; Hebrew philology; Hebrew scholarship; Jerome; rabbinic texts; recentiores



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