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Holy Jerome!

At the Interpreter's House, Christian is introduced to a number of different scenarios, often referred to as 'emblems.' Emblems were simply anecdotes, proverbial wisdom, or instruction arranged in small seventeenth books with an apposite illustration for each. Often read as the instruction of the Holy Spirit for the new Christian believer, the teaching centers on godly leadership and example, the gospel of grace (vs law), and the condition of salvation in the light of eternity. The last emblem is that of the man who has had a terrible nightmare (as Bunyan reports having had in Grace Abounding). The dreamer (within a dream!) has seen the day of judgment. As the saints are being gathered up he looks like he is being left behind to the fate of condemnation and hell. The scenario is one that Christian says he gets straight away. Like the man in the iron cage, we might suppose it stands as a warning to seek assurance of salvation long before the last day.


One particular piece of text in the dream within a dream stands out. The man reports that: 'Also the heavens were on a burning flame. I heard then a voice saying, Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment; and with that the rocks rent, the graves opened, and the dead that were therein came forth.'


The italics seem to indicate, in this setting, a quotation. But where is it from? It's not from the Bible, which would be Bunyan's obvious source.


In fact, this phrasing, "Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment," is attributed, in its Latin form, to 4th century Saint Jerome (of fame for his Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate). It doesn't appear in his extant writings, but is claimed as his in Medieval collections of a Monastic Order.

We don't have any indication that Bunyan is reading or interested in upholding Patristic authorities. Luther on Galatians and Foxe's Book of Martyrs are more his protestant style. (And Foxe features the martyred Hussite, Jerome of Prague, but not Saint Jerome who lived a long and fruitful life.)


So, if Bunyan intends to indicate that he is quoting, who is he quoting? Well, if it's not Jerome, or Medieval monastic instructions, it's likely a source much closer to home. I've found that Puritan,Thomas Manton (1620–1677) uses the phrase, unattributed, in his commentary on Jude. Did other Puritan preachers and commentators? Did the attribution drop away in earlier times or was it dropped out of Protestant unease with a 'Catholic' source? Or was it dropped because it did not fit the scholastic mind that already knew the quotation to not exist in Jerome's extant writings?


My judgment, open to revision with more information, is that Bunyan had heard or read this pithy phrase in preaching or Bible commentary, without knowing of its putative origins with the earlier Jerome.

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