St. Jerome, The Vulgate Bible, ca. 1240
Jerome, Saint, -419 or 420; Ege, Otto F.
Caption: "St. Jerome, The Vulgate Bible, 'For a thousand years the only Bible known to Western Europe' - Bates, Dominican manuscripts written in Paris, circa 1240. Hieronymus, more generally known as St. Jerome, finished his Herculean task, the preparation of the 'Edition of Holy Scriptures in General Use,' or the Vulgate Bible, in the year 414 A.D. Fourteen years were spent in reading and checking the innumerable texts in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. The latter language Jerome began to learn only at the age of forty. This Vulgate version of the Bible is one of the most important ever compiled. It became the standard Bible of the western world for over a thousand year, although it required several hundred years to win the place it deserved. It gave birth to ecclesiastical Latin, the international language of the medieval world. Many of the existing letters of Jerome give us a picture not only of his violent temper, but also of the resulting controversies regarding his version of the Bible. In one, he called a critic a ‘two-legged ass,’ in another, he accused certain copyists of ‘being more asleep than awake.’ With almost superhuman skill and patience, and without the aid of eyeglasses, the Dominicans produced a large number of these “Miniature” or ‘Portable’ Bibles to be used in the Sorbonne, the newly established school of theology of the University of Paris, as well as by the wandering friars of this order. The well executed gothic book-hand of nine lines of writing to an inch was done with a crow or eagle quill. The vellum used was obtained from the internal organs of newly born sheep or calves and is finer than our present ‘india’ paper. Four hundred leaves measure slightly less than an inch in thickness.”
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