Inimici nostri: Jews as heretics and heretics as judaizers in Jerome and Augustine


In their polemical as well as their ostensibly non-polemical writings, SS. Jerome and Augustine refer to the Church’s enemies as an unholy triad: Jews, pagans, and Christian heretics. These inimici, they assert, are linked by their com­mon failure to accept the Gospel of the orthodox Catholic Church, as well as by the root cause of their unbelief: pride, which leads them to resist the truth. In this article, I focus on the links Jerome and Augustine purport to find between Judaism and Christian heresy. I draw from polemical and non-polemical works by both writers, including Jerome’s biblical commentaries and anti-Pelagian treatises, and Augustine’s De Civitate Dei as well as his writings adversus Jews, Donatists, and Pelagians. In addition to identifying the doctrinal commonalities that Jerome and Augustine assert exist between Judaism and Christian heresy, I examine the often-similar rhetorical devices employed by both writers in their denunciations of these inimici. The article concludes by speculating on the possible roots of these denunciations in the authors’ doubts and insecurities, and notes that, para­doxically, Jerome and Augustine’s epistemological doubts regarding divine elec­tion led them to retain a measure of hope for their theological enemies, and so to counsel tolerance toward them.


Jerome; Augustine; Jews; heretics

Augustinus, De civitate Dei, ed. D. Dombart – A. Kalb, CCL 47-48, Turnhout 1955.
Augustinus, De gratia et libero arbitrio, PL 44, 881-912.
Augustinus, Enarrationes in Psalmos, ed. E. Dekkers – J. Fraipont, CCL 38-40, Turnhout 1956.
Augustinus, Epistulae 1-100, ed. K.-D. Daur, CCL 31, Turnhout 2004, CCL 31A, Turnhout 2005, CCL 31B, Turnhout 2009; Epistulae 124-184A, ed. A. Goldbacher, CSEL 44, Vindobonae – Lipsiae 1904; Epistulae 185-270, CSEL 57, Vindobonae – Lipsiae 1911.
Augustinus, Sermones, PL 39.
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Hieronymus, Commentariorum in Osee prophetam libri, ed. M. Adriaen, CCL 76, Turn¬hout 1969, 1-158.
Hieronymus, Dialogi contra Pelagianos, ed. C. Moreschini, CCL 80, Turnhout 1990.
Hieronymus, Liber quaestionum hebraicarum in Genesim, ed. P. de Lagarde, CCL 72, Turnhout 1959, 1-56.
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Published : 2018-12-16

Hood, J. (2018). Inimici nostri: Jews as heretics and heretics as judaizers in Jerome and Augustine. Vox Patrum, 68, 341-353.

John Y.B. Hood 
the independent scholar  United States