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Portraying Jerome

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Chapter Summary

Scholarship has consistently praised Erasmus' biography as an unprecedented historical accomplishment. For Peter Bietenholz the entire edition of Jerome as well as the biography, an "historical essay of singular vigour and value," signalled Erasmus' intent "to set forth a model of philological and historical veracity." The Vita Hieronymi deserves to be called "the first scholarly biography of a Church Father." The Vita expresses Erasmus' command: tolle, lege. Owing to this long paratext, the reader should not simply take and read Jerome but see reflected in his texts the Erasmian portrait of the eminent doctor of the Church, the consummate scholar, the eloquent writer, the model theologian. If the biographical preface is the key to understanding Jerome's writings, it remains to be seen to what extent Erasmus' commentary within the edition reinforces his portrait of Jerome.

Keywords: Church Father; Erasmian portrait; Erasmus' commentary; Jerome's writings



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