Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.
Works of Rufinus. I. Original Works which still Survive.
II. Translations from Greek Writers.
Writings of Rufinus. Preface to the Commentary on the Benedictions of the Twelve Patriarchs.
Preface to Book II.
Translation of Pamphilus' Defence of Origen.
Rufinus's Epilogue to Pamphilus the Martyr's Apology for Origen
Preface to the Translations of Origen's Books Peri 'Archon
Preface to Book III. of the Peri 'Archon
Rufinus' Apology in Defence of Himself.
The Letter of Anastasius,
The Apology of Rufinus.
I have read the document sent from the East by our friend and good brother to a distinguished member of the Senate
2. Nevertheless, a necessity, as it were, is laid upon me to reply, as a simple matter of justice: I mean, because many, as I hear, are likely to be upset by what he has written unless the true state of the case is laid before them. I am compelled, against my resolution and even my vows, to make reply, lest by keeping silence I should seem to acknowledge the accusation to be true. It is, indeed, in most cases, a Christian's glory to follow our Lord's example of silence, and thereby to repel the accusation; but to follow this course in matters of faith causes stumbling blocks to spring up in vast numbers. It is true that, in the beginning of his invective he promises that he will avoid personalities, and reply only about the things in question and the charges made against him; but his profession in both cases is false; for how can he answer a charge when no charge has been made? and how can a man be said to avoid personalities when he never ceases to attack and tear to pieces the translator of the books in question from the first line to the last of his invective? I shall avoid all pretence of saying less than I mean, and similar subterfuges of hypocrisy which are hateful in God's sight; and, though my words may be uncouth and my style unadorned, I will make my reply. I trust, and I shall not trust in vain, that my readers will pardon my lack of skill, since my object is not to amuse others but to endeavour to clear myself from the reproaches directed against me. My wish is that what may shine forth in me may not be style but truth. c3. But, before I begin to clear up these points, there is one in which I confess that he has spoken the truth in an eminent degree; namely, when he says that he is not rendering evil speaking for evil speaking. This, I say, is quite true; for it is not for evil speaking but for speaking well of him and praising him that he has rendered reproach and evil speaking. But it is not true, as he says, that he turns the left cheek to one who smites him on the right. It is on one who is stroking him and caressing him on the cheek that he suddenly turns and bites him. I praised his eloquence and his industry in the work of translating from the Greek. I said nothing in derogation of his faith; but he condemns me on both these points. He must therefore pardon me if I say some things rather roughly and rudely; for he has challenged to a reply a man who has no great rhetorical skill, and who has not, as he knows, the power to make one whom he wishes to injure and to wound appear to have received neither wounds nor injuries. Those who love this kind of eloquence must seek it in a man whom every light report stirs up to fault-finding and vituperation, and who thinks himself bound, as if he were the censor, to be always coming up to set things to rights. A man who desires to clear himself from the stains which have been cast upon him, does not trouble himself, in the answer which he is compelled to make, about the elegance and neat turns of his reply, but only about its truth. c4. At the very beginning of his work he says, "As if they could not be heretics by themselves, without me." I must first show that, whether with him or without him, we are no heretics: then, when our status is made clear, we shall be safe from having the infamous imputation hurled at us from other men's reports. I was already living in a monastery, where, as both he and all others know, about 30 years ago, I was made regenerate by Baptism, and received the seal of the faith at the hands of those saintly men, Chromatius, Jovinus and Eusebius, all of them now bishops, well-tried and highly esteemed in the church of God, one of whom was then a presbyter of the church under Valerian of blessed memory, the second was archdeacon, the third Deacon, and to me a spiritual father, my teacher in the creed and the articles of belief. These men so taught me, and so I believe, namely, that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are of one Godhead, of one Substance: a Trinity coeternal, inseparable, incorporeal, invisible, incomprehensible, known to itself alone as it truly is in its perfection: For "No man knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father but the Son": and the Holy Spirit is he who "searcheth the deep things of God": that this Trinity, therefore, is without all bodily visibility, but that it is with the eye of the understanding that the Son and the Holy Spirit see the Father even as the Father sees the Son and the Holy Spirit; and further, that in this Trinity there is no diversity except that one is Father, another Son and a third Holy Spirit. There is a Trinity as touching the distinction of persons, a unity in the reality of the Substance. We received, further, that the only begotten Son of God, through whom in the beginning all existing things were made, whether visible or invisible, in these last days took upon him a human body and Soul, and was made man, and suffered for our salvation; and the third day he rose again from the dead in that very flesh which had been laid in the sepulchre; and in that very same flesh made glorious he ascended into the heavens, whence we look for his coming to judge the quick and the dead. But further we confess that he gave us hope that we too should rise in a similar manner, so that we believe that our resurrection will be in the same manner and process, and in the same form, as the resurrection of our Lord himself from the dead: that the bodies which we shall receive will not be phantoms or thin vapours, as some slanderously affirm that we say, but these very bodies of ours in which we live and in which we die. For how can we truly believe in the resurrection of the flesh, unless the very nature of flesh remains in it truly and substantially? It is then without any equivocation, that we confess the resurrection of this real and substantial flesh of ours in which we live. Bp. of Aquileia at the time of this Apology and maintaining friendly relations with both Jerome and Rufinus. (Ruf. Pref. to Eusebius in this Volume. Jer. Ep. vii, lx. 19, Pref. to Bks. of Solomon &c. &c.)
5. Moreover, to give a fuller demonstration of this point…
7. Since then, in reference to our hope of the resurrection, Christ is set forth all through as the archetype, since he is the first born of those who rise, and since he is the head of every creature, as it is written, "Who is the head of all, the first born from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence;" how is it that we stir up these vain strifes of words, and conflicts of evil surmises? Does not the faith of the church consist in the confession which I have set forth above? And is it not evident that men are moved to accuse others not by difference of belief, but by perversity of disposition? At this point, however, in arguing about the resurrection of the flesh, our friend, as his habit is, mixes up what is ridiculous and farcical with what is serious. He says:
8. But suffer it to be so, I beg you, as you are lovers of Christ, that the body is to be in incorruption and without these conditions when it rises from the dead: then let such things henceforward cease to be mentioned. Let us believe that in the resurrection even lawful intercourse will no longer exist between the sexes, since there would be danger that unlawful intercourse would creep in if such things remained present and unforgotten. What is the use of carefully and minutely going over and discussing "the belly and what is below it?" You tell us that we live amidst carnal delights: but I perceive that it is your belief that we are not to give up such things even in the resurrection. Let us not deny that this very flesh in which we now live is to rise again: but neither let us make men think that the imperfections of the flesh are wrapped up in it and will come again with it. The flesh, indeed, will rise, this very flesh and not another: it will not change its nature, but it will lose its frailties and imperfections. Otherwise, if its frailties remain, it cannot even be immortal. And thus, as I said, we avoid heresy, whether with you or without you. For the faith of the Church, of which we are the disciples, takes a middle path between two dangers: it does not deny the reality of the natural flesh and body when it rises from the dead, but neither does it assert, in contradiction to the Apostle's words, that in the kingdom which is to come corruption will inherit incorruption. We therefore do not assert that the flesh or body will rise, as you put it, with some of its members lost or amputated, but that the body will be whole and complete, having laid aside nothing but its corruption and dishonour and frailty and also having amputated all the imperfections of mortality: nothing of its own nature will be lacking to that spiritual body which shall rise from the dead except this corruption. 1 Cor. xv. 50 c9. I have made answer more at length than I had intended on this single article of the resurrection, through fear lest by brevity I should lay myself open to fresh aspersions. Consequently, I have made mention again and again not only of the body. as to which cavils are raised, but of the flesh: and not only of the flesh; I have added "this flesh;" and further I have spoken not only of "this flesh" but of "this natural flesh;" I have not even stopped here, but have asserted that not even the completeness of the several members would be lacking. I have only demanded that it should be held as part of the faith that, according to the words of the Apostle, it should rise incorruptible instead of corruptible, glorious in stead of dishonoured, immortal instead of frail, spiritual instead of natural; and that we should think of the members of the spiritual body as being without taint of corruption or of frailty. I have set forth my faith in reference to the Trinity, the Incarnation of the Lord our Saviour, to his Passion and Resurrection, his second coming and the judgment to come. I have also set it forth in the matter of the resurrection of our flesh, and have left nothing, I think, in ambiguity. Nothing in my opinion remains to be said, so far as the faith is concerned. c10. But in this, he says, I convict you, that you have translated the work of Origen, in which he says that there is to be a restitution of all things, in which we must believe that not only sinners but the devil himself and his angels will at last be relieved from their punishment, if we are to set before our minds in a consistent manner what is meant by the restitution of all things. And Origen, he says, teaches further that souls have been made before their bodies, and have been brought down from heaven and inserted into their bodies. I am not now acting on Origen's behalf, nor writing an apology for him. Whether he stands accepted before God or has been cast away is not mine to judge: to his own lord he stands or falls. But I am compelled to make mention of him in a few words, since our great rhetorician, though seeming to be arguing against him is really striking at me; and this he does no longer indirectly, but ends by openly attacking me with his sword drawn and turns his whole fury against me. I say too little in saying that he attacks me; for indeed, in order to vent his rage against me, he does not even spare his old teacher: he thinks that in the books which I have translated he can find something which may enable him to hurl his calumnies against me. In addition to other things which he finds to blame in me he adds this invidious remark, that I have chosen for translation a work which neither he nor any of the older translators had chosen. I will begin, therefore, since it is here that I am chiefly attacked, by stating how it came to pass that I attempted the translation of this work in preference to any other, and I will do so in the fewest and truest words. This is, no doubt, superfluous for you, my well-beloved son, since you know the whole affair as it occurred; yet it is desirable that those who are ignorant of it should know the truth: besides, both he and all his followers make this a triumphant accusation against me, that I promised in my Preface to adopt one method of translation but adopted a different one in the work itself. Hence, I will make an answer which will serve not only for them, but for many besides whose judgment is perverted either by their own malice or by the accusations which others make against me. Rom. xiv. 4
11. Some time ago, Macarius, a man of distinction from his faith, his learning, his noble birth and his personal life, had in hand a work against fatalism or, as it is called, Mathesis, and was spending much necessary and fruitful toil on its composition; but he could not decide many points, especially how to speak of the dispensations of divine Providence. He found the matter to be one of great difficulty. But in the visions of the night the Lord, he said, had shown him the appearance of a ship far off upon the sea coming towards him, which ship, when it entered the port, was to solve all the knotty points which had perplexed him. When he arose, he began anxiously to ponder the vision, and he found, as he said, that that was the very moment of my arrival; so that he forthwith made known to me the scope of his work, and his difficulties, and also the vision which he had seen. He proceeded to inquire what were the opinions of Origen, whom he understood to be the most renowned among the Greeks on the points in question, and begged that I would shortly explain his views on each of them in order. I at first could only say that the task was one of much difficulty: but I told him that that saintly man the Martyr Pamphilus had to some extent dealt with the question in a work of the kind he wished, that is in his Apology for Origen. Immediately he begged me to translate this work into Latin. I told him several times that I had no practice in this style of composition, and that my power of writing Latin had grown dull through the neglect of nearly thirty years. He, however, persevered in his request, begging earnestly that by any kind of words that might be possible, the things which he longed to know should be placed within his reach. I did what he wished in the best language in my power; but this only inflamed him with greater desire for the full knowledge of the work itself from which, as he saw, the few translations which I had made had been taken. I tried to excuse myself; but he urged me with vehemence, taking God to witness of his earnest request to me not to refuse him the means which might assist him in doing a good work. It was only because he insisted so earnestly, and it seemed clear that his desire was according to the will of God, that I at length acquiesced, and made the translation. This word originally meant simply learning. It was then applied in a special sense to mathematics. But the mathematici under the later Roman Empire became identified with astrologers. c12. But I wrote a Preface to each of these works, and in both, but especially in the Preface to the work of Pamphilus, which was translated first, I set in the forefront an exposition of my faith, affirming that my belief is in accordance with the catholic faith; and I stated that whatever men might find in the original or in my translation, my share in it in no way implicated my own faith, and further, in reference to the Peri 'Archon I gave this warning. I had found that in these books some things relating to the faith were set forth in a catholic sense, just as the Church proclaims them, while in other places, when the very same thing is in question, expressions of a contrary kind are used. I had thought it right to set forth these points in the way in which the author had set them forth when he had propounded the catholic view of them: on the other hand, when I found things which were contrary to the author's real opinion, I looked on them as things inserted by others, (for he witnesses by the complaints contained in his letter that this has been done), and therefore rejected them, or at all events considered that I might omit them as having none of the "godly edifying in the faith." It will not, I think, be considered superfluous to insert these passages from my Prefaces, so that proof may be at hand for each statement. And further, to prevent the reader from falling into any mistake as to the passages which I insert from other documents, I have, where the quotation is from my own works, placed a single mark against the passage, but, where the words are those of my opponent, a double mark. See these Prefaces translated in the earlier part of this Volume.
13. In the Preface to the Apology of Pamphilus, after a few other remarks, I said:
14. I wrote these words beforehand as a statement of my faith, when as yet none of these calumniators had arisen, so that it should be in no man's power to say that it was merely because of their admonition or their compulsion that I said things which I had not believed before. Moreover, I promised that, whatever the requirements of translation might be, I would, while complying with them, maintain the principles of my faith inviolate. How then can any room be left for evil, when the very first word of my confession preserves and defends me from the suspicion of holding any doctrine inconsistent with it? Besides, as I have said above. I have learned from the words of the Lord that every one shall be justified or condemned from his own words and not from those of others.
15. But let me add what comes after. My Preface continued as follows:
16. I should have thought that this statement, I mean the words, I have expressed nothing in my own words; I have only restored to Origen what was really Origen's, though found in other part of his works,' would of itself have been sufficient for my defence even before the most hostile judges. Have I thrust myself forward in any way? Have I ever led men to expect that I should put in anything of my own? Where can they find the words which they pretend that I have said, and on which they ground their calumnious accusations, namely, that I have removed what was bad and put good words instead, while I had translated literally all that is good? It is time, I think, that they should show some sense of shame, and should cease from false charges and from taking upon themselves the office of the devil who is the accuser of the brethren. Let them listen to the words I have put in no words of my own.' Let them listen to them again and hear them constantly reiterated, I have put in no words of my own; I have only restored to Origen what was really Origen's, though found in other parts of his works.' And let them see how God's mercy watched over me when I put my hand to this work; let them mark how I was led to forebode the very acts which they are doing. For my Preface continues thus:
17. But I have said that these men would have been unable to find grounds for accusation on the points I have mentioned, however they may take them, unless they had first falsified them. It appears to me therefore desirable that the chief matter on which they have laid their forgers' hands should be inserted in this Apology, lest they should think that I am intentionally withdrawing it from notice because they after making their own additions to it allege it as a ground of false accusation. In the book which I translated there is a passage in which I examine the tenets of those who believe that God has a bodily shape and who describe him as clothed with human members and dress. This is openly asserted by the heretical sects of the Valentinians and Anthropomorphites, and I see that those who are now our accusers have been far too ready to hold out the hand to them. Origen in this passage has defended the faith of the church against them, affirming that God is wholly without bodily form, and therefore also invisible; and then, following out his scrutiny in a logical manner, he says a few words in answer to the heretics, which I thus translated into Latin.
18. This is the chief passage which those who were sent from the East to lay snares for me tried to brand as heretical, not only by perversely misunderstanding it, but by falsifying the words. But I could see nothing to suspect in it, as also in several similar passages of the writer I was translating, nor did I think that there was any reason to leave it out, since there was nothing said in it as to a comparison of the Son with the Father, but the question related to the nature of the Deity itself, whether in any sense the word visibility could be applied to it. Origen was answering, as I have said before, the heretics who assert that God is visible because they say that he is corporeal, the faculty of sight being a property of the body; for which reason the Valentinian heretics, of whom I spoke above, declare that the Father begat and the Son was begotten in a bodily and visible sense. He therefore shrank, I presume, from the word Seeing as a suspicious term, and says that it is better, when the question turns upon the nature of the Deity, that is, upon the relation of the Father and the Son, to use the word which the Lord himself definitely chose, when he said: "No man knoweth the Son save the Father, neither doth any know the Father save the Son." He thought that all occasion which might be given to the aforesaid heresies would be shut out if, in speaking of the nature of the Deity he used the word Knowledge rather than Vision. Vision' might seem to afford the heretics some support. The word Knowledge on the other hand preserves the true relation of Father and Son in one nature never to be set apart; and this is specially confirmed by the authoritative language of the Gospel. Origen thought also that this mode of speaking would ensure that the Anthropomorphites should never in any way hear God spoken of as visible. It did not seem to me right that this reasoning, since it made no difference between the persons of the Trinity, should be completely thrown on one side, though indeed there were some words in the Greek, which perhaps were somewhat incautiously used, and which I thought it well to avoid using. I will suppose that readers may hesitate in their judgment whether or not even so, it is an argument which can be employed with effect against the aforesaid heresies. I will even grant that those who are practised in judging of words and their sense in matters of this kind and who, besides being experts, are God-fearing men, men who do nothing through strife or vain glory, whose mind is equally free from envy and favour and prejudice may say that the point is of little value either for edification or for the combating of heresy; even so, is it not competent for them to pass it over and to leave it aside as not valid for the repulse of our adversaries? Suppose it to be superfluous, does that make it criminous? How can we count as a criminal passage one which asserts the equality of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit in this point of invisibility? I do not think that any one can really think so. I say any one: for there is no evidence that anything contained in my writings is offensive in the eyes of my accusers; for, if they had thought so, they would have set down my words as they stood in my translation. c19. But what did they actually do? Consider what it was and ask yourself whether the crime is not unexampled? Recall the passage which says: "But perhaps you will ask me my opinion as to the Only-begotten himself. Well, if I should say that even to him the nature of God is invisible, since it is its very nature to be invisible, do not dismiss my answer as if it were impious or absurd, for I will at once give you my reason for it." Well, in the place of the words which I had written, "I will at once give you my reason for it" they put the following words: "Do not dismiss my answer as if it were impious or absurd, for, as the Son does not see the Father, so the Holy Spirit also does not see the Son." If the man who did this, the man who was sent from their monastery to Rome as the greatest expert in calumny, had been employed in the forum and had committed this forgery in some secular business every one knows what would be the consequence to him according to the public laws, when he was convicted of the crime. But now, since he has left the secular life, and has turned his back upon business and entered a monastery, and has connected himself with a renowned master, he has learned from him to leave his former self-restraint and to become a furious madman: he was quiet before, now he is a mover of sedition: he was peaceable, now he provokes war: instead of concord, he is the promoter of strife. For faith he has learnt perfidiousness, for truth forgery. He would, you may well think, have been the complete exemplar of wickedness and criminality of this kind, if you had not had before you the image of that woman Jezebel. She is the same who made up the accusation against Naboth the Zezreelite for the sake of the vineyard, and sent word to the wicked elders to urge against him a false indictment, saying that he had blessed, that is cursed, God and the king. I know not whether of the two is to be accounted the happier, she who sends the command or they who obey it in all its iniquity. These matters are serious; such a crime, as far as I know, is hitherto all but unheard of in the Church. Yet there is something more to be said. What is that you ask. It is this, that those who are guilty should become the judges, that those who plotted the accusation should also pronounce the sentence. It is, indeed, no new thing for a writer to make a mistake or a slip in his words, and in my opinion it is a venial fault, for the Scripture also says, "In many things we all stumble: if any stumbleth not in word the same is a perfect man." Is it thought that some word is wrong? Then let it be corrected or amended, or, if expediency so require, let it be taken out. But to insert in what another man has written things he never wrote, to put in false words for no other purpose than to defame your brother, to corrupt his writings in order to attach a mark of infamy to the author, and to insinuate your ideas into the ears of the multitude so as to throw confusion into the minds of the simple; and all this with the object of staining a man's reputation among his fellows; I ask you whose work this can be except that of him who was a liar from the beginning, and who, from accusing the brethren, received the name of Diabolus, which means accuser. For when he to whom I have alluded recited at Milan one of these sentences which had been tampered with, and I cried out that what he was reading was falsified, he, being asked from whom he had received the copy of the work said that a certain woman named Marcella had given it him. As to her, I say nothing, whosoever she may be. I leave her to her own conscience and to God. I am content with God's own witness and with yours. When I say yours, I mean your own and that of Macarius himself, the saintly man for whom I was doing that work: for both of you read my papers themselves at the first, even before they had been completed, and you have by you the completely corrected copies. You can bear witness to what I say. The words "as the Son does not see the Father, so also the Holy Spirit does not see the Son" not only were never written by me, but on the contrary I can point out the forger by whom they were written. If any man says that as the Father does not see the Son, so the Son does not see the Father or that the Holy Spirit does not see the Father and the Son as the Father sees the Son and the Son and the Holy Spirit, let him be anathema. For he sees, and sees most truly; only, as God sees God and the Light sees the Light; not as flesh sees flesh, but as the Holy Spirit sees, not with the bodily senses, but by the powers of the Deity. I say, if any one denies this let him be anathema for all eternity. But as the Apostle says, "He that troubles you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be." Jerome's friend Eusebius of Cremona, of whom Rufinus complains as having taken occasion from this old friendship to purloin and falsify his mss. See below c. 20, 21.
20. I remember indeed that one of these people, when he was convicted of having falsified this passage, answered me that it was so in the Greek, but that I had, of purpose, changed it in the Latin. I do not indeed, treat this as a serious accusation because, though what they say is untrue yet, even supposing that the words did stand so in the Greek, and I had changed them in the Latin, this is nothing more than I had said in my Preface that I should do. If I had done this with the view of making an expression which in the Greek was calculated to make men stumble run more suitably in the Latin, I should have been acting only according to my expressed purpose and plan. But I say to my accusers You certainly did not find these words in the Latin copies of my work. Whence then did it come into the papers from which he was reading? I, the translator, did not so write it. Whence then came the words which you who have got no such words of mine turn into a ground of accusation? Am I to be accused on the ground of your forgeries? I put the matter in the plainest possible way. There are four books of the work which I translated; and in these books discussions about the Trinity occur in a scattered way, almost as much as one in each page. Let any man read the whole of these and say whether in any passage of my translation such an opinion concerning the Trinity can be found as that which they calumniously represent as occurring in this chapter. If such an opinion can be found, then men may believe that this chapter also is composed in the sense which they pretend. But if in the whole body of these books no such difference of the persons of the Trinity exists anywhere, would not a critic be mad or fatuous if he decided, on the strength oLinksBible Library • Interlinear Bible • Bible Commentaries • Bible Concordance • Topical Bible • Bible Summary • Bible Outline • Bible Timeline • Children's Bible • Bible Hub Homepage