Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226899008 Published December 2006
Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226215303 Published October 2014
E-book $7.00 to $27.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226899022 Published September 2008

The Monk and the Book

Jerome and the Making of Christian Scholarship

Megan Hale Williams

Megan Hale Williams

312 pages | 12 halftones, 2 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2006
Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226899008 Published December 2006
Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226215303 Published October 2014
E-book $7.00 to $27.50 About E-books ISBN: 9780226899022 Published September 2008

In the West, monastic ideals and scholastic pursuits are complementary; monks are popularly imagined copying classics, preserving learning through the Middle Ages, and establishing the first universities. But this dual identity is not without its contradictions. While monasticism emphasizes the virtues of poverty, chastity, and humility, the scholar, by contrast, requires expensive infrastructure—a library, a workplace, and the means of disseminating his work. In The Monk and the Book, Megan Hale Williams argues that Saint Jerome was the first to represent biblical study as a mode of asceticism appropriate for an inhabitant of a Christian monastery, thus pioneering the enduring linkage of monastic identities and institutions with scholarship.

Revisiting Jerome with the analytical tools of recent cultural history—including the work of Bourdieu, Foucault, and Roger Chartier—Williams proposes new interpretations that remove obstacles to understanding the life and legacy of the saint. Examining issues such as the construction of Jerome’s literary persona, the form and contents of his library, and the intellectual framework of his commentaries, Williams shows that Jerome’s textual and exegetical work on the Hebrew scriptures helped to construct a new culture of learning. This fusion of the identities of scholar and monk, Williams shows, continues to reverberate in the culture of the modern university.

"[Williams] has written a fascinating study, which provides a series of striking insights into the career of one of the most colorful and influential figures in Christian antiquity. Jerome's Latin Bible would become the foundational text for the intellectual development of the West, providing words for the deepest aspirations and most intensely held convictions of an entire civilization. Williams's book does much to illumine the circumstances in which that fundamental text was produced, and reminds us that great ideas, like great people, have particular origins, and their own complex settings."—Eamon Duffy, New York Review of Books


 

Eamon Duffy | New York Review of Books

"She has written a fascinating study, which provides a series of striking insights into the career of one of the most colorful and influential figures in Christian antiquity. Jerome's Latin Bible would become the foundational text for the intellectual development of the West, providing words for the deepest aspirations and most intensely held convictions of an entire civilization. Williams's book does much to illumine the circumstances in which that fundamental text was produced, and reminds us that great ideas, like great people, have particular origins, and their own complex settings."

Michele Renee Salzman | Speculum
"Williams has written a provocative book, for it encourages us to look behind Jerome's rather difficult and oft-studied personal and theological conflicts with his contemporarites to view him in the light of his importance in the history of late-antique education and book culture."
Marilyn Dunn | Historian
"The author has greatly increased readers' understanding not only of Jerome, but also of the nature of the Biblical commentary itself. She should be congratulated on providing readers with an intelligent, highly readable and thought-provoking book."—Marilyn Dunn, Historian
Benedict M. Guevin | American Benedictine Review
"As a monk and a lover of books . . . I thoroughly enjoyed allowing the author to immerse me in Jerome's world: the narrow world of the ascetic and the wider one of patronage and readership."
J. Jayakiran Sepastian | Interpretation
"Williams' meticulously detailed book richly evokes the world of Jerome in all its complexity and will be the 'standard' treatment of his life and legacy for many decades. Rather than resting on previous scholarship, she strikes new ground by using insights from cultural studies and the assessment of the practices of everyday life to make a fresh assessment of Jerome. Her work is based on thorough and painstaking analysis of his writings in their own context. She brings to light the process of how these writings were produced, the wider situations that they addressed, the paraphernalia and framework that enabled their emergence, and the way in which they were collated, circulated, and preserved."
Michael Heintz | Religious Studies Review
"An important book about the culture of books and a valuable acquisition for scholars and libraries."
Padraig o Caoimh | Downside Review
"This is an immensely readable book that, without artifice or invention, gives us a picture of Jerome's desk and the books that surrounded it, while allowing a clear view through the window onto the world that both threatened and supported him."
Contents
List of Illustrations
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations

Introduction

1 The Making of A Christian Writer
2. Experiments of Exigesis
3. Interpretation and Construction of Jerome's Authority
4. Jerome's Library
5. Toward the Monastic Order of Books
6. The Book and the Voice
7. Readers and Patrons

Epilogue

Appendix: Chronology of Jerome's Career
Bibliography
Index
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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