Jerome, Commentary on Galatians, [J.P. Migne, Editor]. Patrologiae Tomus XXVI. Paris: D’Ambroise, Pres La Barriere D’Enfer, ou Petit-Montrouge, 1845. pp. 307-438.
Introduction to Book 1, pp. 307-311.
Jerome, in introducing his commentary on Galatians, addressed to Paula and Eustochium, acknowledges that there are other commentaries on the apostolic writings. He lists those of Gaius Marius Victorinus and of Origen, both of which are familiar to him (Jerome, Galatians, 308). He further lists several others, both recent and older works, some heretical and some not. Counter to these, Jerome’s intention is to write plainly in an orderly and memorable way, asking the Lord to have mercy to make the commentary worthwhile (Jerome, Galatians, 309). He acknowledges the mental difficulty of bringing fair comments on a text written which, among other things, accused the Galatians of foolishness by which they were not able to understand what seemed plain to Paul. However, he considers the attempt worthwhile.
One of the challenges Jerome finds in Galatians is that, unlike some communities which consisted mostly of Jews who had believed in Jesus, the Galatians were Gentiles. They didn’t already have a concept of the Jewish faith. When they received Christ by faith, their departure from the faith was by adding Jewish faith as something new, rather than by reverting to a former Jewish belief structure. This appears most clearly in the challenge of circumcision, as well as the incident of Peter separating himself from Gentiles when the people zealous for circumcision were present (Jerome, Galatians, 310).