Ignorance of scriptures is…

Reflecting on the “ignorance” of St Jerome

arun simon
3 min readSep 30, 2022

This celebrated saying of Jerome, the one who did the Latin translation of the Bible in the 4th century, brings out the deep relation between the scriptures and the Christ. There are a few occasions in the gospel where Jesus asks the disciples, “have you not read so in the scriptures?” In the gospel scene of risen Jesus meeting the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, Jesus asks them:

“How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

But I was thinking of the audacity of St Jerome to speak such a phrase when a huge majority of people were illiterate. Surely many of them might have a knowledge of the scripture from listening to scriptures, homily etc. I was thinking of the generation of my grandparents or the generations before them. Definitely they were persons of deep faith. They were people with an intimate knowledge of Jesus. Surely their knowledge of scriptures, in the proper sense, was surely weak. In addition, scriptures were not available in local languages too.

I am just wondering whether we should continue to use this celebrated saying of Jerome. It’s so true that we should try to know and learn scriptures, which “may” help us in knowing Christ more. But more than knowing scriptures (or the ability to quote scriptures right and left), we should more interested in praying with the scriptures, and thereby coming to a deeper understanding of Christ.

But wait…. What is the meaning of knowing? In a scientific world, knowing can be considered the intellectual knowing. I might dare to say that such a separation between knowledge and life might not have been there in Jerome’s worldview. Thus ignorance of scriptures is not just an intellectual ignorance, but a lack of relation with the Scripture. Some of our grandparents and people of those generations might have a certain intellectual ignorance of the scriptures, but they had a relation with scriptures. So where they ignorant of scriptures or Christ? No…

Thus “knowledge of scriptures as the knowledge of Christ” is true if we see knowledge as not only an intellectual knowledge, but necessarily including a relationship. Such a knowledge of the scriptures is invariably connected to praying or meditating the scriptures, leading to a relationship to the one about whom the scriptures speak.



arun simon

A Jesuit with all the crazyness… Loves Jesus…Loves church, but loves to challenge too… Loves post modern philosophy & Gilles Deleuze.. Loves deep conversations…