Ambrosiaster’s significance as a biblical exegete, the author of the first complete commentary on the Pauline epistles, was already signaled by Souter, who cited Harnack’s opinion that Ambrosiaster’s writings were “the most distinguished product of the Latin Church in the period
between Cyprian and Jerome”: “We ought to call him the great unknown,” wrote Harnack, “for what Western expositor of the early period or the
Middle Ages is his equal?”9
There is now universal agreement that these data are best explained if both the Quaestiones and the Pauline commentary were originally issued
anonymously; the ancient attributions to Hilary, Ambrose, and Augustine were probably just educated guesses at our author’s identity.15
But ignorance of Ambrosiaster’s real name does not mean that we know nothing about him. In the commentary on 1 Timothy Ambrosiaster spoke of “the church whose rector at present is Damasus,” which places the Pauline commentary roughly between the years 366 and 384.17 As we will see shortly, the numerous contacts between Ambrosiaster and Jerome enable us to narrow Ambrosiaster’s floruit to the later years of Damasus’s pontificate, that is, to the early 380s. There is little doubt that the author composed his works at Rome: in Q. 115 he spoke of being “here in the city of Rome and its environs” and in the commentary on Romans he spoke similarly.18 .... We have, then, both a secure location and a fairly specific date for both the Quaestiones and the commentary.
Jerome’s notorious diatribes against the Roman clergy scandalized his contemporaries and were, most likely, one of the main causes of his expulsion from Rome shortly after the death of Damasus. Jerome’s jabs were particularly pointed because he enjoyed contrasting contemporary clerical mores with the ascetic virtues of his own coterie of widows and virgins.
Good info on Ambrosiaster, Jerome, the Old Latin and the Vulgate ... Greek codices
consubstantiality ... Councils of 381 and 382
only one to allow remarriage after divorce
Damasus and Ursinus - people killed in strife
opulent Roman clergy
female subordination not equality not made in God's image
bishops and presbyters
original sin before Augustine
But it happens that it contains so many interesting statements, and is of such special excellence, that a knowledge of the author would
be a real help in the assignment of its place among the historical documents belonging to its period.
The real importance of the three works is now gradually coming to be recognised, since Harnack wrote of the author: “ We ought to call him the great unknown ; for what Western expositor of the early period or the Middle Ages is his equal ? ” “ Both works [the Commentary and the Quaestionos] are admirable in their kind, and perhaps the most distinguished product of the Latin Church in the period between Cyprian and Jerome.” Julicher is no less hearty in his admiration : “ His exposition of the letters of Paul is not only important by reason of many interesting notes on the history of dogma, morals and government, but is also the best written prior to the six- teenth century.”