Often cited as a source of biographical information on ancient Christian authors, On Illustrious Men provides St. Jerome’s personal evaluations of his forebears and contemporaries, as well as catalogs of patristic writings known to him. Heterodox writers and certain respected non-Christians (Seneca, Josephus, and Philo) are included in this parade of luminaries, which begins with the apostles and concludes with St. Jerome himself and a list of his own works prior to 393, the year in which On Illustrious Men was composed.
St. Jerome produced this work in his monastery at Bethlehem, to which he had retreated after his precipitous exit from Roman ecclesiastical politics. He had, however, maintained correspondences with several of his former associates, such as Dexter (the son of Pacian, bishop of Barcelona), to whom he addressed the work. Relying heavily on Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History, St. Jerome attempts to demonstrate the erudition and nobility of character which render Christianity immune to the criticisms of its cultured despisers.
Since this work can be regarded as the patrology textbook of its day, its translator, Thomas P. Halton, has continued St. Jerome’s mission by compiling bibliographical data on recent editions, translations, and studies of ancient writings mentioned in On Illustrious Men. Extensive footnote material and appendices furnish a wealth of information useful for patristic research. In addition, an index to all of the Fathers of the Church volumes published to date, listed by individual authors, appears in this, the hundredth volume of the series.
For The Fathers of the Church series in its entirety, see Fathers of the Church Series (127 vols.).
“Nevertheless, by age and use5 it has gained authority and is reckoned among the Holy Scriptures” (Page 11)
“and because in it he quotes from the apocryphal book of Enoch” (Page 11)
“Acts, πράξεων, of the Apostles,6 a history which extends to the second year of Paul’s sojourn at Rome, that is, to the fourth year of Nero, from which we learn that the book was composed in that same city.” (Page 16)
“having been attracted to the priesthood, was elected bishop of Carthage.4” (Page 95)
“left a short epistle which is reckoned among the seven Catholic Epistles” (Page 11)
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St. Jerome (c. 347–30 September 420) (formerly Saint Hierom) was an Illyrian Catholic priest and apologist.