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St. Jerome's interpretation about the gentile nation succeeding the Jewish one

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#1 H. Smith

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 08:26 PM

What place would you say Orthodox gives to this quote by St. Jerome in his Letter to Antony the Monk:

The Jewish nation, claiming the chief seats and salutations in the forums, was blotted out, with the gentile nation, previously counted as a drop in the bucket, succeeding it.


Does this mean that the ancient Israelite kingdom had a place of divine blessing, but now gentile society is becoming Christian and as such receives that blessing? My understanding is that this refers to a temporary situation where Jewish people have not all become Christian yet, and that Orthodox don't talk this way anymore because Orthodoxy does not focus as much on having officially "Christian nations" like the Roman empire or medieval Russia.


Jerome's words in Latin were:

Iudaicus populus primas sibi cathedras et salutationes in foro uindicans deputato antea in stillam situlae gentili populo succedente deletes est.


Populus: Nation, people, organized community, society, kingdom, republic, eg. the public as opposed to the senate.

Cathedra: chief seats. The pharisees sat on the "cathedra", and bishops sit on "cathedra."
Deletes: erased, blotted out, terminated
Succedente: succeeding. eg. Jerome used it in the Vulgate translation of 2 Maccabees 4:29: "Et Menelaus amotus est a sacerdotio, succedente Lysimacho fratre suo." (And Menelaus left the priesthood, with his brother Lysimachus succeeding him.)


St. Jerome's statement refers to Matthew 23:
2. The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
6. And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7. And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

And to Isaiah 40:15:
Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.


W.H. Fremantle and G. Lewis translated the passage in which it appears as follows:

While the disciples were disputing concerning precedence our Lord, the teacher of humility, took a little child and said: “Except ye be converted and become as little children ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” And lest He should seem to preach more than he practised, He fulfilled His own precept in His life. For He washed His disciples’ feet, he received the traitor with a kiss, He conversed with the woman of Samaria, He spoke of the kingdom of heaven with Mary at His feet, and when He rose again from the dead He showed Himself first to some poor women. Pride is opposed to humility, and through it Satan lost his eminence as an archangel.

The Jewish people perished in their pride, for while they claimed the chief seats and salutations in the market place, (Matthew 23:6-7) they were superseded by the Gentiles, who had before been counted as “a drop of a bucket.” (Isaiah 40:15) Two poor fishermen, Peter and James, were sent to confute the sophists and the wise men of the world. As the Scripture says: “God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.” Think, brother, what a sin it must be which has God for its opponent. In the Gospel the Pharisee is rejected because of his pride, and the publican is accepted because of his humility.

See: http://orthodoxchurc...06/npnf2062.htm

Edited by H. Smith, 28 August 2013 - 08:27 PM.

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