Saint Jerome pulling a thorn from a lion’s paw
So is it true?
Certainly, no one can deny that Saint Jerome may have had early reservations about the canonical books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, and 1&2 Maccabees (and those portions of Daniel and Esther).
However, by AD 382, we see a reversal in St Jerome’s sentiments. The reason for this is that in AD 382, Pope Damasus and the Council of Rome canonized these books as inerrant and inspired by the Holy Spirit. So then, after this date, Saint Jerome, as a faithful son of the Catholic Church, submitted to the papal decree. The same is true of Blessed John Henry Newman who personally disagreed with a quick decree on papal infallibility, but certainly obeyed it as soon as it was issued.
Here’s proof that Saint Jerome submitted to the decree of Rome of Pope St Damasus. The following quote is taken from a letter written by Saint Jerome in A.D. 404.
Does not the Scripture say: ‘Burden not thyself above thy power’?
– Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 108 (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 2, VI:207)
Here Saint Jerome quotes Sirach 13:2 (‘Burden not thyself above thy power’) as “Scripture”.
In Saint Jerome’s prologue on the book of Judith, he recongizes that the First Council of Nicea (AD 325 – the council defended the Trinity and deity of Christ against Arians) recognized the book of Judith as “canonical”.
Furthermore, Jerome in the year A.D. 402 defended the deuteroncanoical additions to the book of Daniel:
What sin have I committed if I followed the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the Story of Susanna, the Song of the Three Children, and the story of Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. For I was not relating my own personal views, but rather the remarks that they [the Jews] are wont to make against us. (Against Rufinus, 11:33 [AD 402]).
I rest may case. It seems clear that Saint Jerome did at one time reject the deuterocanonicals, but by A.D. 402-404 he had become a defender of them. Saint Jerome was not a dissenter.
If you come across a Protestant still making this old and worn out claim about Saint Jerome, please point him to these quotes from St Jerome.