Letter LIX. To Marcella.
An answer to five questions put to Jerome by Marcella in a letter not preserved. The questions are as follows.
(1) What are the things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard (1 Cor. ii. 9)? Jerome answers that they are spiritual things which as such can only be spiritually discerned.
(2) Is it not a mistake to identify the sheep and the goats of Christs parable (Matt. xxv. 31 sqq.) with Christians and heathens? Are they not rather the good and the bad? For an answer to this question Jerome refers Marcella to his treatise against Jovinian (II. §§18–23).
(3) Paul says that some shall be “alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord;” and that they shall be “caught up to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:15, 17). Are we to suppose this assumption to be corporeal and that those assumed will escape death? Yes, Jerome answers, but their bodies will be glorified.
(4) How is John xx. 17, “touch me not,” to be reconciled with Matt. xxviii. 9, “they came and held him by the feet”? In the one case, Jerome replies, Mary Magdalen failed to recognize the divinity of Jesus; in the other the women recognized it. Accordingly they were admitted to a privilege which was denied to her.
(5) Was the risen Christ before His ascension present only with the disciples, or was He in heaven and elsewhere as well? The latter according to Jerome is the true doctrine. “The Divine Nature,” he writes, “exists everywhere in its entirety. Christ, therefore, was at one and the same time with the apostles and with the angels; in the Father and in the uttermost parts of the sea. So afterwards he was with Thomas in India, with Peter at Rome, with Paul in Illyricum, with Titus in Crete, with Andrew in Achaia.” The date of the letter is a.d. 395 or a.d. 396.