In the "Bondage of the Will", Luther mentions St. Jerome, no more or less than 27 times. Having some snarky comments to say about him like: "Jerome is cast in my teeth; a man, (to say no worse of him) of neither judgment nor application", obviously not liking him.

Why did Luther disliked St. Jerome?

Consider Tabel Talks – Of the Books of the Fathers, DXXXIX, p 235.

Jerome should not be numbered among the teachers of the church, for he was a heretic; yet I believe that he is saved through faith in Christ. He speaks not of Christ, but merely carries his name in his mouth.

  • 1
    Could you give us a full source reference, or at least an internet link to enable us to check out this claimed quote of Luther? Also, for this question to remain, you need to be more specific as to which group within Christianity you wish to ask. Lutherans? Reformed Protestants? Catholics? Also, back then nobody bothered about 'politically correct' language. They called a spade a spade and chucked in a few insults along the way. 'Not liking someone' was not a problem.
    – Anne
    Aug 25, 2021 at 12:04
  • 1
    "On the Bondage of the Will" by Martin Luther, Sect. 115 monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/pdf/luther_arbitrio.pdf
    – Dan
    Aug 25, 2021 at 12:14
  • 1
    Protestantism took ideas from both Augustine and Jerome; from the former, its doctrine of sola gratia and massa damnata; from the latter, its adherence to the Masoretic text. However, Augustine did not share Jerome's exalted opinion of the Hebrew text, and Jerome did not share Augustine's view of sola gratia and massa damnata.
    – user46876
    Aug 25, 2021 at 12:41
  • 2
    Ergo nullum doctorem scio, quem aeque oderim, cum tamen ardentissime eum amaverim et legerim.2 In Aesopo certe plus est eruditionis quam in toto Hieronymo. Therefore I know of no doctor [of the church] whom I hate equally, although, still, I have loved and read him most eagerly. Surely there is more instruction in Aesop than in all of Jerome. Calvinist International.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 25, 2021 at 15:34
  • 2
    For, although I am rude in speech, yet, by the grace of God, I am not rude in understanding. Martin Luther, On the Bondage of the Will (Preface to Erasmus)
    – Nigel J
    Aug 25, 2021 at 16:25

2 Answers 2


Why didn't Martin Luther like St. Jerome?

For Martin Luther this seems to be a personal matter.

No one really knows for sure.

  • St. Jerome was suspected of being a heretic by others?
  • He had a terrible temper and should never be a saint?
  • His Translation of the Bible included the deuterocanonical books, called Apocrypha by Protestants?
  • Perhaps Martin Luther thought St. Jerome should have stuck to his guns and not accepted 2 Maccabees, like he initially had done! Source

We all can see that St. Jerome is recognized as a saint and a Doctor of the Church in the Lutheran Church.

Due to his work, Jerome is recognized as a saint and Doctor of the Church by the Roman Catholic Church, and as a saint in the Orthodox Church,[a] the Lutheran Church, and the Anglican Communion. His feast day is 30 September (Gregorian calendar). St. Jerome

A case could be made like Anne describes in her answer, but I think this goes more in line with the personality of St. Jerome himself.

Most of the saints are remembered for some outstanding virtue or devotion which they practiced, but Jerome is frequently remembered for his bad temper! It is true that he had a very bad temper and could use a vitriolic pen, but his love for God and his son Jesus Christ was extraordinarily intense; anyone who taught error was an enemy of God and truth, and Saint Jerome went after him or her with his mighty and sometimes sarcastic pen. - St. Jerome’s Day

St. Jerome had a temper, and freely name called many individuals including his own spiritual director.

Martin Luther was quite aware of St. Jerome’s shortcomings. He was equally a convert to Christianity.

St. Jerome was known to lash out at people and spew angry comments, but it was his repentance that saved him.

Anger is a feeling, and in itself it is not sinful. It is even possible that anger can spur us on to do something heroic and stand up for those who are being persecuted.

However, it too easy to let anger consume us, and then our words no longer reflect our Christian faith.

St. Jerome knew this too well, as he was widely known for his excessive anger. He wasn’t proud of his anger and often regretted his words immediately after he said them.

People’s actions could easily set him off, and his debates with other scholars were often not pretty.

Why then was St. Jerome canonized a saint, if he was such an angry person, widely known for his hurtful words?

Pope Sixtus V walked past a painting of St. Jerome holding a rock, and commented, “You do well to carry that stone, for without it the Church would never have canonized you.”

Sixtus was referring to a practice of St. Jerome of beating himself with a stone whenever he was tempted, or in reparation for his sins. He knew he wasn’t perfect and would frequently fast, pray, and cry out to God for mercy.

Finding myself abandoned, as it were, to the power of this enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and I tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, but I grieve that I am not now what I then was. I often joined whole nights to the days, crying, sighing, and beating my breast till the desired calm returned. I feared the very cell in which I lived, because it was witness to the foul suggestions of my enemy: and being angry and armed with severity against myself, I went alone into the most secret parts of the wilderness, and if I discovered any where a deep valley or a craggy rock, that was the place of my prayer, there I threw this miserable sack of my body.

In addition to these physical torments he inflicted upon himself, he also devoted himself to the study of Hebrew, to quell the many temptations that would assail him.

When my soul was on fire with bad thoughts, that I might subdue my flesh, I became a scholar to a monk who had been a Jew, to learn of him the Hebrew alphabet. St. Jerome would struggle with anger the rest of his life, but every time he fell, he would cry out to God and did all he could to improve his speech.

We can learn from St. Jerome’s example and examine our own lives, especially if we are prone to anger. Do we repent of this anger that hurts others? Or are we prideful, not willing to admit we made a mistake?

What separates us from the saints is not our mistakes, but our ability to ask forgiveness from God and others. If we do that, we have much more in common with the saints that we might expect. - How St. Jerome dealt with his excessive anger

Possibly also, Martin Luther did not like St. Jerome because some suspected him of harbouring heretical views (i.e., Sabellianism, which emphasized God’s unity at the expense of the distinct persons), thus making him a heretic!

In 375 Jerome began a two-year search for inner peace as a hermit in the desert of Chalcis. The experience was not altogether successful. A novice in spiritual life, he had no expert guide, and, speaking only Latin, he was confronted with Syriac and Greek. Lonely, he begged for letters, and he found desert food a penance, yet he claimed that he was genuinely happy. His response to temptation was incessant prayer and fasting. He learned Hebrew from a Jewish convert, studied Greek, had manuscripts copied for his library and his friends, and carried on a brisk correspondence.

The crisis arrived when Chalcis became involved with ecclesiastical and theological controversies centring on episcopal succession and Trinitarian (on the nature of the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and Christological (on the nature of Christ) disputes. Suspected of harbouring heretical views (i.e., Sabellianism, which emphasized God’s unity at the expense of the distinct persons), Jerome insisted that the answer to ecclesiastical and theological problems resided in oneness with the Roman bishop. Pope Damasus I did not respond, and Jerome quit the desert for Antioch. - St. Jerome

  • That is why I made an initial comment to the OP that " back then nobody bothered about 'politically correct' language. They called a spade a spade and chucked in a few insults along the way. 'Not liking someone' was not a problem." Also, Luther spoke in terms of Jerome as a heretic yet he acknowledged him as a Christian. Luther could disagree strongly with others without saying they were not Christians. The OP quoted Luther as saying that: "he was a heretic; yet I believe that he is saved through faith in Christ".
    – Anne
    Dec 26, 2023 at 12:31

Way back, on 22 November 2011, you asked a question here that resulted in some answers about St. Jerome and Martin Luther. The link is Why were Deuterocanonical books rejected in the Reformation?

You referred to "Luther, who called the Deuterocanonical books 'Apocrypha, that are books which are not considered equal to the Holy Scriptures, but are useful and good to read'."

A few quotes by the answerer called emeth showed that Jerome disliked the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew scriptures and that Luther actually agreed with him in being wary of the five Deuterocanocical books, which only seems to make it all the more puzzling that Luther wrote scathingly of Jerome. One can only assume that his dislike was due to other matters. Certainly, Luther heaped scorn on the doctrine of Purgatory, which does find some support in, for example 2 Macabees 12:42-45, so if Jerome advocated the doctrine of Purgatory, that would account for some of Luther's remarks against Jerome. As it was from 1530 that the Reformers uniformly rejected Purgatory, perhaps Luther's pre-1530 comments about Jerome were less acerbic.

Or, perhaps Luther didn't like Jerome's revised version of the first Latin Bible, which came to be called the Vulgate (circa 400?)

Or, perhaps it was due to Jerome translating into Latin a Jewish Gospel According to the Hebrews (late 300s?) which preserved traditions diverging from the canonical Greek gospels, and magnifying the position of James, the Lord's brother. Luther has written in his Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude: "...I do not regard it [the epistle of St. James] as the writing of an apostle;"

Or, perhaps this reputation of Jerome had come to Luther's attention (and here I quote from a highly regarded Catholic book):

"By the standards with which we measure holiness today, a number of the best known Fathers would in all probability be disqualified. Tertullian displays a very unpleasant fanatical and even cruel streak, Jerome had a notoriously nasty and unforgiving temperament, Theophilus of Alexandria..." Beginning to Read the Fathers, Boniface Ramsay, O.P., p.4, Darton, Longman & Todd, 1985. Bold italics mine

It would appear that more than a few Catholics had long disliked some aspects of Jerome, before Luther put pen to paper on that matter!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .