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Letter to a Young Minister

Jerome (345-420), along with Augustine, Ambrose, and Gregory, was one of the four "Doctors of the Latin Church." Although he didn't write original theology like Augustine, nor champion the faith as vigorously as Ambrose, nor organize the church with the zeal of Gregory, Jerome's influence outlasted theirs, because he was the author of the Vulgate translation of the Latin Bible, the Bible of Western Christendom until the Reformation.

Jerome also had a great interest in the clergy of his day and spent much of his time defining their duties. Following are adapted excerpts from a very long letter he wrote to a novice who had given up the military life for clerical garb. Written in 394, the letter is a systematic treatise on the life a minister should lead. It became very popular among the clergy of that period.

As a clergyman, you must first understand what the name means. When you realize this, you must personify it. Klergos means "inheritance." The clergy are thus called because the Lord himself ...
From Issue:Spring 1984: Evangelism
July/August
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