Jerome vs. John Patteson

Today’s matchup is a battle between two learned gentlemen separated by 14 centuries. While both were great linguists, one sat around translating Scripture and became a hermit (Jerome) while the other went to New Zealand to become a bishop and martyr (Patteson). So, would you rather be a hermit or a martyr? Or a martyred hermit for that matter?

In recent action, Joan of Arc trounced Lancelot Andrewes (62% to 38%). Check out the updated bracket.

Jerome (c.347-420) was the most famous biblical scholar of ancient Christianity. The Latin version of the Bible known as the Vulgate (from the Latin vulgata, meaning “common”), translated from the original languages of Hebrew and Greek, was mostly the fruit of his work. It brought to an end the great differences between various Latin biblical texts that were circulating in the late 4th century. His writings also included biblical commentaries, which offered a variety of linguistic and topographical information to interpret the scriptures; attacks against the heresies of Arianism, Pelagianism, and Origenism; and letters that advocated extreme asceticism.

Rome is where Jerome lived as a student and was baptized as a Christian. He became a hermit (i.e., someone who retreats for religious reasons into a solitary life) for a period of four or five years in the Syrian desert. Leaving behind that solitude, he was later ordained a priest and became secretary to Pope Damasus from 382 to 384. During those same years, at the Pope’s request, Jerome revised the existing translations of the four gospels.

Finally, in 386, Jerome settled in Bethlehem, belonging to a monastery and devoting himself to a life of study. There he continued his work, begun in Rome, producing numerous biblical translations. After his death, these would be collected into a single Bible, the Vulgate, probably in the 6th century. For more than a thousand years, the Vulgate was the definitive biblical text of Western Christianity.

Collect for Jerome: O Lord, O God of truth, your Word is a lantern to our feet and a light upon our path: We give you thanks for your servant Jerome, and those who, following in his steps, have labored to render the Holy Scriptures in the language of the people; and we pray that your Holy Spirit will overshadow us as we read the written Word, and that Christ, the living Word, will transform us according to your righteous will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

— Neil Alan Willard

John Patteson (1 April 1827 – 20 September 1871) was the elder son of Sir John Patteson the judge, by his second wife, Frances Duke Coleridge. He was educated at a private school in Devon and then at Eton. He was a good student and sportsman. He was also deeply religious. In 1845 he went to Oxford where he was influenced by the Oxford Movement. He studied briefly in Germany. There he became competent in Hebrew and Arabic and showed his outstanding flair for languages. Ordained deacon in 1853 and priest the following year, he offered himself to Bishop Selwyn for work in Melanesia. He arrived in New Zealand in 1855. Two years later he was put in charge of the Melanesian Mission. He founded a college on Norfolk Island for native boys, toured the islands on the ship Southern Cross, and learned more than twenty of the local languages.

On 24 February 1861 Patteson was ordained as the first Bishop of Melanesia.

Travel in Melanesia was always risky, and Patteson’s life was often in danger. His health suffered in the 1860s. On 20 September 1871 Patteson was murdered on the island of Nukapu. Joseph Atkin and Stephen Taroaniara, who accompanied Patteson, died a week later of wounds received at the time. It was widely believed that Patteson’s death was in retaliation for the “slave” trading, but this is by no means certain. Patteson’s death did however ensure more rigorous regulations on labour trading, and gave strong impetus in England to the missionary work of the church.

Collect for John Patteson: God of the southern isles and seas, we remember with thanksgiving your servant John Patteson, whose life was taken by those 
for whom he would freely have given it; grant us the same courage in extending your gospel 
and readiness to share our life with others, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

— Bosco Peters


Jerome vs. John Patteson

  • Jerome (70%, 1,112 Votes)
  • John Patteson (30%, 481 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,592

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52 Comments to "Jerome vs. John Patteson"

  1. Geof's Gravatar Geof
    February 24, 2012 - 8:17 am | Permalink

    Looking at the image of Jerome you can’t help but wonder: what did he have written on his palm? Ixnay on the Book of Judas?

  2. Vicki's Gravatar Vicki
    February 24, 2012 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    For you cat lovers, don’t forget that iconographically, Jerome is accompanied by his faithful lion, who was grateful to Jerome for having pulled the agonizing thorn out of his paw. The best picture I know of him is by Colantonio in the Museum of Naples, pulling out the thorn, with his cardinal’s hat on the desk of his very messy study – and a mouse with a piece of cheese in a hole behind his chair. What’s not to love?

  3. Sarah Pope's Gravatar Sarah Pope
    February 24, 2012 - 8:35 am | Permalink

    I’m in the “voting for the underdog” category today. Although I admire Jerome, I can empathize (somewhat) for John Patteson. When working among folks who may not want you around, following the Lord wherever he leads can be daunting.

  4. David Canan's Gravatar David Canan
    February 24, 2012 - 8:56 am | Permalink

    About to vote for Jerome until I read that cat thing…..

  5. February 24, 2012 - 9:14 am | Permalink

    Another thing about Jerome is that he had a vibrant letter-writing ministry through which he corresponded with several interconnected families in Rome. Much of this work was spiritual and theological material for the matriarchs, Paula and Eustochia. Jerome gives them suggestions on how to conduct themselves, watch out for unscrupulous clergy, and advice on the (quite thorough) education of their daughters.

    In short, this Church Father is one of our better sources for understanding the lives of the Church Mothers for whom we have little surviving material.

  6. Marty's Gravatar Marty
    February 24, 2012 - 9:25 am | Permalink

    Nice paperweight you’ve got there Jerome

  7. Dick Krause's Gravatar Dick Krause
    February 24, 2012 - 9:31 am | Permalink

    Being a recovered alcoholic who has spent the last 37 years who’s mission has been proactive rather than scholarly my heart has to go with John Patterson.

    • Brigid Courtney's Gravatar Brigid Courtney
      February 24, 2012 - 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Me too Dick, I’d like to learn more about him.

  8. February 24, 2012 - 9:33 am | Permalink

    From the number of native languages he learned, clearly Bishop Patteson is the more cunning linguist of the two.

    • Diane Amison-Loring's Gravatar Diane Amison-Loring
      February 24, 2012 - 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Well, most of those languages Bishop Patteson knew were unknown outside of the isolated Melonesian locales in the time of Jerome. Jerome’s linguistic gift gave him the ability to make sense of the scriptures and, more importantly, the motivation to sit to the work of translation. Go, Jerome!

  9. Patricia Raube's Gravatar Patricia Raube
    February 24, 2012 - 9:34 am | Permalink

    Wasn’t it Jerome who couldn’t imagine Paul could call a woman ‘apostle,’ and so re-named Junia, Junius? (Romans 16:7) I’ll take Patteson, thanks.

    • February 24, 2012 - 10:52 am | Permalink

      Actually, Junia is rendered in the feminine in the Vulgate – I was just chatting about this with Brant recently.

      (I admit I don’t know whether that bit was Jerome’s influence or what he wrote about Junia otherwise.)

  10. Tom Cox's Gravatar Tom Cox
    February 24, 2012 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    I was initially inclined to go with Jerome, but then noticed in the painting how badly he seems to be boring the guy sitting across from him at the table. For that matter, Jerome himself appears to be contemplating slitting his own wrists. The patron saint of seminarians perhaps?

  11. Beth Royalty's Gravatar Beth Royalty
    February 24, 2012 - 9:47 am | Permalink

    Jerome is the bomb.

  12. Brigid Courtney's Gravatar Brigid Courtney
    February 24, 2012 - 9:47 am | Permalink

    aeell, as soon as I read about the cat, I had to go for Jerome.9

  13. Lauren Stanley's Gravatar Lauren Stanley
    February 24, 2012 - 10:08 am | Permalink

    Oh, John Patteson gets my vote today – because he went where God called him, irregardless of dangers. A model of faithfulness!

  14. Joy Cass's Gravatar Joy Cass
    February 24, 2012 - 10:30 am | Permalink

    I was also initially inclined to vote for Jerome, the more so because of the lion, but then read Jerome’s teachings on women and on sexuality in general, and have decided to go with Patteson, whose dedication and courage I admire.

  15. leslie's Gravatar leslie
    February 24, 2012 - 11:07 am | Permalink

    Anyone who can stay in print for 1,000 yrs has my vote!

  16. marguerite's Gravatar marguerite
    February 24, 2012 - 11:15 am | Permalink

    If this were a game of football, I’d be called “neutral” today. Still making up my mind. Will check back for persuasive comments as the day goes on. Anyone know if Patteson’s mother was related to THE Coleridges? Samuel’s father was a Vicar. Might make a difference.

  17. Jean Cavada's Gravatar Jean Cavada
    February 24, 2012 - 11:35 am | Permalink

    I’m having voter’s remorse again today. Tomorrow I’ll vote later in the day
    after reading more comments.

    • Laura Dixon's Gravatar Laura Dixon
      February 24, 2012 - 4:13 pm | Permalink

      Me too. Totally waiting it out tomorrow.

  18. George Werner's Gravatar George Werner
    February 24, 2012 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Jerome was meaner and grumpier than a Junkyard Dog- Go, Patteson, Go!

  19. Robert Hart's Gravatar Robert Hart
    February 24, 2012 - 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Jerome had a cantakerous personality. “Meaner and grumpier than a junkyard dog” gets it right. His work was saintly but his behavior often wasn’t. I’ll go with Patteson.

  20. dr.primrose's Gravatar dr.primrose
    February 24, 2012 - 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I guess I’m attracted the word guys rather than the action guys (Joan falls into the latter because guys has become a mostly gender-neutral word; if you don’t buy that, the cross-dressing should suffice!) So Jerome it is — who looks as if he’s going to win today by a bigger margin the Andrewes lost yesterday.

  21. Kate Hansen's Gravatar Kate Hansen
    February 24, 2012 - 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I vote for “Coley”. Fascinating bio at

  22. Christopher Nimmo's Gravatar Christopher Nimmo
    February 24, 2012 - 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Aww, come on Bosco! Push a bit harder for Patteson!

    For a start, “slave”-trading definitely does not need those scare-quotes. Not only was Melanesia being decimated by real, genuine slave-trading, but Patteson was a relentless crusader against this slave trade – unlike, well, pretty much any other white people in the Pacific.

    One can read more about the Pacific slave trade and John Patteson’s role in combating it at

    It takes somebody pretty amazing for a missionary to get such good press in a blog devoted mainly to socialist theory and skepticism.

  23. vincent ira ciaramitaro's Gravatar vincent ira ciaramitaro
    February 24, 2012 - 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I know of no biographical material that does not say Jerome was a very difficult person to be around… despite that I vote for Jerome. Was reading the Vulgate this morning in the Divine Office for Lent which has been my practice for +50 years and was just amazed at the clarity of expression in Jerome’s work. What many folks do not realize is that the KJV was heavily dependent in following Jerome in translation difficulties. For instance in Genesis 1:26 which the KJV uses “dominion” it is following Jerome but Jerome meant the word as a cognate of “Dominius” = remember creation belongs to the “Lord” not to humans.

  24. February 24, 2012 - 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Some will say I’ve been untrue to the Anglican cause, but I just had to vote for St. Jerome – Cranky saints need support, too, ya know!

    • February 24, 2012 - 2:06 pm | Permalink

      If cranky saints are excluded, there is no hope for me.

  25. Eve's Gravatar Eve
    February 24, 2012 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Went with the underdog again and, thanks to the reference links provided above, I’m glad I did!

  26. marguerite's Gravatar marguerite
    February 24, 2012 - 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Despite knowing that Jerome was a desert father, I voted for John Patteson because he loved sports and because he was (if I read the bio correctly as referenced above) the great nephew of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Plus, there should be a few upsets, no?

    These are tough decisions and ones that I am perhaps taking a bit too seriously. Anyhow….what fun!

  27. Diane Amison-Loring's Gravatar Diane Amison-Loring
    February 24, 2012 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

    St. Jerome is the patron saint of librarians.
    Be kind to your favorite librarian! Vote for Jerome!

  28. AmyR's Gravatar AmyR
    February 24, 2012 - 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Ack…going for the underdog again. Patteson was a crusader against the slave trade. While Jerome was a great scholar to whom we owe much, hermits have never held much appeal for me. Patterson, for me, better exemplifies the Great Commission. Besides, everytime I hear “St Jerome”, I think of Ghostbusters…

  29. Rhonda Baker's Gravatar Rhonda Baker
    February 24, 2012 - 2:29 pm | Permalink

    My vote is for Patteson. Old Jerome was not a friend to women.

  30. February 24, 2012 - 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Patteson had me at “learned Arabic & ministered in Melanesia.”
    1. In this Islamophobic culture in which we live, my vote goes to the guy who learns the languages of the places to which he is called. Something we could all learn a bit from. We need reconciliation and recognition
    2. We need reminders that Episcopal & Evangelism are not contradictory
    So hear! hear! for Patteson. Besides, everyone knows about Jerome.

  31. Kyle's Gravatar Kyle
    February 24, 2012 - 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Jerome is possibly the most misanthropic crank ever to darken the door of a church. In this age in which saccharine is too often equated with saintly, I’m voting for him.

  32. Steve's Gravatar Steve
    February 24, 2012 - 5:02 pm | Permalink

    This is great so much fun and educational

  33. Richard's Gravatar Richard
    February 24, 2012 - 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Go team Jerome!!!

  34. Laura's Gravatar Laura
    February 24, 2012 - 6:04 pm | Permalink

    This is reason enough to vote down Jerome (although I secretly hope he wins so Mary Magdelene can kick his butt!):

    “A very important alteration is made by Jerome in Genesis 3.16. God has been addressing severe words to the serpent in the garden and he finishes his warning to Eve with the words: ‘Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you,’ While ‘he will rule over you’ makes clear the husband’s predominance over the wife, the impact is softened somewhat by the other half of the verse, ‘Your desire will be for your husband’, the Hebrew word for ‘desire’ here having sexual content. In Jerome’s version, however, that half of the verse is changed to ‘You will be under the power of your husband’ and ‘he will rule over you’ completes the verse. Complete subjection and subordination of the woman is now laid down.

    This verse was much quoted, in its new form, by later writers in their exegesis of Genesis 3 and discussion of the situation of women after Eve’s sin in the garden.” Jane Barr from

  35. Megan's Gravatar Megan
    February 24, 2012 - 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Recluse v. missionary? Patteson gets my vote

  36. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    February 24, 2012 - 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Jerome should be considered in context of his own century, rather than suffering slams from our own century. His attitude toward women actually may have been enlightened in the 4th & 5th centuries. Or not. We need a scholar to describe that ancient culture to us moderns. Jerome’s vulgate translation helped more people access the scriptures during his lifetime and, in a way, helps us in our lifetimes. Now, about Mr. Patteson, what was that slave trade business? That vague reference clouds the memory of his work. What exactly was going on in Melanesia then? Historical mysteries not withstanding, I vote for Jerome.

    • February 24, 2012 - 8:35 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t entered this discussion, because it is true that Jerome should be judged by the standards of his day.

      The standards of his day did include not changing scripture to avoid inconvenient truths. Jerome fails. He added words in 2 Samuel 1.26:

      doleo super te frater mi Ionathan decore nimis et amabilis super amorem mulierum

      I grieve for thee, my brother Jonathan: exceeding beautiful, and amiable to me above the love of women. As the mother loveth her only son, so did I love thee.

      There is nothing about a mother’s love in the original. Apparently Jerome was uncomfortable with David saying he loved Jonathan more than women.

      You don’t change scripture to meet your preferences.

  37. shannon henderson's Gravatar shannon henderson
    February 24, 2012 - 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Is there a specific place to look for the winners of the previous day’s vote? I am so happy I found this website. You guys are awesome and I am having a great time learning about the saints. You rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • marguerite's Gravatar marguerite
      February 25, 2012 - 6:53 am | Permalink

      Shannon, if you go to the Home page and click “Bracket 2012” at the top, you’ll see an update.

      • shannon henderson's Gravatar shannon henderson
        February 25, 2012 - 4:15 pm | Permalink

        Thank you so much. Guess I need to be smarter than the web page!

  38. Mary-Elise's Gravatar Mary-Elise
    February 24, 2012 - 11:18 pm | Permalink

    As someone who was a librarian I was leaning toward to Jerome… after the day I’ve had dealing with fallout of some bigotry I have to go with the anti-slavery guy… I don’t think voting from all 4 of my devices will make a difference in the outcome.

  39. Hal's Gravatar Hal
    February 25, 2012 - 12:02 am | Permalink

    Hrrrrmmm…sitting around reading something and deciding to write it in a different language…or following Gods calling to the point of going to New Zealand (now there’s a mission that i would love to undertake) and touring several kazzilion islands while having to teach completely foreign children, learning 20 different ways to talk to them, and all while trying to make sure that they don’t grow up to be slaves. Sheesh, Jerome was practically the patron saint of sexism. I’m voting for Patteson.

  40. February 25, 2012 - 1:40 am | Permalink

    I’ve got to support the local(ish) – voting southern hemisphere.

  41. bill's Gravatar bill
    February 25, 2012 - 1:54 am | Permalink

    Jerome, best two out of three falls

  42. Mark D.'s Gravatar Mark D.
    February 25, 2012 - 11:19 am | Permalink

    This is great fun, and very edifying besides. I didn’t know squat about Bp. Patteson, and now I do – thanks. Had to vote for Jerome, though.

  43. Mary's Gravatar Mary
    February 25, 2012 - 1:27 pm | Permalink

    How do I vote? Personally my money is on Jerome

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