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Addressed to Apronianus, in Reply to Jerome's Letter to Pammachius
In the first book of my Apology I have dealt with the accusations of dogmatic error which he endeavours unjustly to fix upon others, and have, by producing his own testimony, turned them back against him. In the second book, I shall be able, now that I have settled and put aside the matters which have to do with controversies of faith, more confidently to reply to him on the other heads of his accusation. For there is another and a very grave accusation, which has, like the former, to be cut down by the scythe of truth. It is this. He says that certain persons have joined themselves to Origen in a secret society of perjury, and that the forms of initiation are to be found in the Sixth book of his Miscellanies: and that this mystery has been detected by no one but himself through all this space of time. I should only excite his ridicule were I to declare, even with an oath, that I was an entire stranger to such a secret society of perjury. The road by which I propose to reach the declaration of the truth is more direct: it is by proving, which I can do quite easily, that I have never possessed those books nor borrowed them from others to read. Not only cannot I defend myself from an accusation the meaning of which I do not know, but I do not see how a matter can be made the subject of a charge against me as to which I do not even know what it is, or whether it exists at all. I only know that my accuser declares that either Origen wrote or his disciples hold, that, when the Scripture says
He that speaks truth with his neighbour the words apply to a neighbour only in the sense of one of the initiated, a member of this secret society: and again that the Apostle's words
We speak wisdom among them that are perfect and the words of Christ
Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, imply that truth is not to be communicated to all.
2. Let us see what my adversary himself says on this point in those Commentaries which he has selected. In the second book, in commenting on the words
Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth to his neighbour, for we are members one of another (after a short introduction) he speaks as follows:
Hence Paul himself, who was one of the perfect, says in another Epistle
We speak wisdom among them that are perfect. This then is what is commanded, that those mystic and secret things, which are full of divine truth, should be spoken by each man to his neighbour, so that day unto day may utter speech and night to night show knowledge, that is, that a man should show all those clear and lucid truths which he knows to those to whom the words can be worthily addressed:
You are the light of the world. On the other hand, he should exhibit everything involved in darkness and wrapped up in the mist of symbols to others who are themselves nothing but mist and darkness, those of whom it is said
And there was darkness under his feet, that is, of course, under the feet of God. For on Mount Sinai Moses enters into the whirlwind and the mist where God was; and it is written of God,
He has made darkness his secret place. Let each man then thus speak truth in a mystery to his neighbour, and not give that which is holy to dogs nor cast his pearls before swine; but those who are anointed with the oil of truth, them let him lead into the bridechamber of the spouse, into the inner sanctuary of the King.
Observe, I beg you, look carefully and see whether in all this passage there is any one else but himself on whom the condemnation can fall. If his adversaries were looking for an opportunity of convicting and destroying him on the ground of what he has written, what other course could they take, and what other testimonies could they wish to produce against him than these which he produces against himself as if he were pleading against another? If it were sought to pronounce a condemnation against him, his own letter would suffice. You have only to change the name; the test of the accusation suits no one but himself alone. What he calls on us on the one hand to condemn, he exhorts us on the other hand to follow: what he asserts, that he reproves: what he hates, that he does. How happy must be his disciples who obey and imitate him!
3. He has endeavoured, indeed, to brand us with the stain of this false teaching by speaking to some of our brethren, and he repeats this by various letters, according to his recognized plan of action. It is nothing to me what he may write or assert, but, since he raises this question about a doctrine of perjury, I will state my opinion upon it, and then leave him to pass judgment upon himself. It is this. Since our Lord and Saviour says in the Gospels
It was said to them of old time, You shall not forswear yourself, but shall pay to the Lord your vows, but I say unto you, Swear not at all; I say that every one who teaches that for any cause whatever we may swear falsely, is alien from the faith of Christ and from the unity of the catholic church.
4. But I should like, now that I have satisfied you on my own account, and supported my opinion by an anathema, to make this plain to you further, that he himself declares that in certain orgies and mystical societies to which he belongs perjury is practised by the votaries and associates. That is a certain and most true saying of our God,
By their fruits ye shall know them, and this also
A tree is known by its fruits. Well: he says that I have accepted this doctrine of perjury. If then I have been trained to this practice, and this evil tree has indeed its roots within me, it is impossible but that corresponding fruits should have grown upon me, and also that I should have gathered some society of mystic associates around me. As regards myself whom alone he seeks to injure by all that he writes, I will not bear witness to myself, nor will I say that there are cases of necessity in which it is right to swear: for I wish to avoid reproach through timidity if not through prudence; and, at all events, if I fail in obedience to the command, I will acknowledge my error. I will therefore make no boast of this. But, whether I have erred or acted prudently, he at all events can lay his finger on no act of mine by which he can convict me. But I can show from his writings, that he not only holds this doctrine of perjury, but practises this foul vice as a sacred duty. I will bring nothing against him which has been trumped up by ill will, as he does against me; but I will produce him and his writings as witnesses against himself, so that it may be made clear that it is not his enemies who accuse but he who convicts himself.
5. When he was living at Rome he wrote a treatise on the preservation of virginity, which all the pagans and enemies of God, all apostates and persecutors, and whoever else hate the Christian name, vied with one another in copying out, because of the infamous charges and foul reproaches which it contained against all orders and degrees among us, against all who profess and call themselves Christians, in a word, against the universal church; and also because this man declared that the crimes imputed to us by the Gentiles, which were before supposed to be false were really true, and indeed that much worse things were done by our people than those laid to their charge. First, he defames the virgins themselves of whose virtue he professed to be writing, speaking of them in these words:
Some of them change their dress and wear the costume of men, and are ashamed of the sex in which they were born; they cut their hair short, and raise their heads with the shameless stare of eunuchs. There are some who put on Cilician jackets, and with hoods made up into shape, make themselves like horned owls and night birds, as if they were becoming babies again.
There are a thousand such calumnies, and worse than these, in the book. He does not even spare widows, for he says of them,
They care for nothing but the belly and what is next it; and he adds many other obscene remarks of this kind. As to the whole race of Solitaries, it would take too long to give the passages written by him in which he attacks them with the foulest abuse. It would be a shame even to recount the indecent attacks which he makes upon the Presbyters and the deacons. I will, however, give the beginning of this violent invective, by which you may easily imagine what a point he reaches in its later stages.
There are some, he says,
of my own order, who only seek the office of Presbyter or deacon so that they may have more license to visit women. They care for nothing but to be well dressed, to be well scented, to prevent their feet from being loose and bulging. Their curly hair bears the mark of the crisping iron; their fingers sparkle with rings; and they walk on tiptoe, for fear a fleck of mud from the road should touch their feet. When you see them, you would take them for bridegrooms rather than clerics.
He then goes on to hurl his reproaches against our priests and ministers, specifying their faults, or rather their crimes; and to represent the access allowed them to married ladies not only in a disgraceful light, but so as to seem positively execrable: and after having cut to pieces with his satirical defamation the whole race of Christians, he does not even spare himself, as you shall presently hear.
6. For I will now return, after a sort of digression, to the point I had proposed, and for the sake of which it was necessary to mention this treatise. I will show that perjury is looked upon by him as lawful, to such a point that he does not care for its being detected in his writings. In this same treatise he admonishes the reader that it is wrong to study secular literature, and says,
What has Horace to do with the Psaltery, or Virgil with the Gospels, or Cicero with St. Paul? Will not your brother be offended if he sees you sitting at meat in that idol's temple? And then, after more of the same kind, in which he declares that a Christian must have nothing to do with the study of secular literature, he gives an account of a revelation divinely made to him and filled with fearful threatenings upon the subject. He reports that, after he had renounced the world, and had turned to God, he nevertheless was held in a tight grip by his love of secular books, and found it hard to put away his longing for them.
Suddenly I was caught up in the spirit and dragged before the judgment seat of the Judge; and here the light was so bright, and those who stood around were so radiant, that I cast myself upon the ground and did not dare to look up. Asked who and what I was I replied 'I am a Christian.' But He who presided said: 'You lie; you are a follower of Cicero and not of Christ. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.' Instantly I became dumb, and amid the strokes of the lashfor He had ordered me to be scourgedI was tortured more severely still by the fire of conscience, considering with myself that verse 'In the grave, who shall give you thanks?' Yet for all that I began to cry and to bewail myself saying: 'Have mercy upon me, O Lord; have mercy upon me.' Amid the sound of the scourges this cry still made itself heard. At last the bystanders, falling down before the knees of Him who presided, prayed that He would have pity on my youth, and that He would give me space to repent of my error. He might still, they urged, inflict torture upon me, should I ever again read the works of the Gentiles. Under the stress of that awful moment I should have been ready to make even still larger promises than these. Accordingly I made oath and called upon His name, saying 'Lord, if ever again I possess worldly books, or if ever again I read such, I have denied you.' On taking this oath, I was dismissed, and returned to the upper world.
7. You observe how new and terrible a form of oath this is which he describes. The Lord Jesus Christ sits on the tribunal as judge, the angels are assessors, and plead for him; and there, in the intervals of scourgings and tortures, he swears that he will never again have by him the works of heathen authors nor read them. Now look back over the work we are dealing with, and tell me whether there is a single page of it in which he does not again declare himself a Ciceronian, or in which he does not speak of 'our Tully,' 'our Flaccus,' 'our Maro.' As to Chrysippus and Aristides, Empedocles and all the rest of the Greek writers, he scatters their names around him like a vapour or halo, so as to impress his readers with a sense of his learning and literary attainments. Amongst the rest, he boasts of having read the books of Pythagoras. Many learned men, indeed, declare these books to be non-extant: but he, in order that he may illustrate every part of his vow about heathen authors, declares that he has read even those which do not exist in writing. In almost all his works he sets out many more and longer quotations from these whom he calls 'his own' than from the Prophets and Apostles who are ours. Even in the works which he addresses to girls and weak women, who desire, as is right, only to be edified by teaching out of our Scriptures, he weaves in illustrations from 'his own' Flaccus and Tullius and Maro.
Best mode of Translationhe relies on the opinions of Cicero and Horace
8. Take the treatise which he entitles
On the best mode of translating, though there is nothing in it except the addition of the title which is of the best, for all is of the worst; and in which he proves those to be heretics with whom he is now in communion, thus incurring the condemnation of our Apostle (not his, for those whom he calls 'his' are Flaccus and Tully) who says,
He who judges is condemned if he eat. In that treatise, which tells us that no works of any kind reasonably admit of a rendering word for word (though he has come round now to think such rendering reasonable) he inserts whole passages from a work of Cicero. But had he not said,
What has Horace to do with the Psalter, or Maro with the Gospels, or Cicero with the Apostle? Will not your brother be offended if he sees you sitting in that idol temple? Here of course he brings himself in guilty of idolatry; for if reading causes offense, much more does writing. But, since one who turns to idolatry does not thereby become wholly and completely a heathen unless he first denies Christ, he tells us that he said to Christ, as he sat on the judgment seat with his most exalted angel ministers around him,
If I ever hereafter read or possess any heathen books, I have denied you, and now he not only reads them and possesses them, not only copies them and collates them, but inserts them among the words of Scripture itself, and in discourses intended for the edification of the Church. What I say is well enough known to all who read his treatises, and requires no proof. But it is just like a man who is trying to save himself from such a gulf of sacrilege and perjury, to make up some excuse for himself, and to say, as he does:
I do not now read them, I have a tenacious memory, so that I can quote various passages from different writers without a break, and I now merely quote what I learned in my youth. Well: if some one were to ask me to prove that before the sun rose this morning there was night over the earth, or that at sunset the sun had been shining all day, I should answer that, if a man doubted about what all men knew, it was his business to show cause for his doubts, not for me to show cause for my certainty. Still in this instance, where a man's soul is at stake, and the crime of perjury and of impious denial of Christ is alleged, a condemnation must not be thought to be a thing of course, even though the facts are known and understood by all men. We are not to imitate him who condemns the accused before they have undergone any examination; and not only without a hearing, but without summoning them to appear; and not only unsummoned, but when they are already dead; and not only the dead, but those whom he had always praised, till then; and not only those whom he had praised, but whom he had followed and had taken as his masters. We must fear the judgment of the Lord, who says
Judge not and ye shall not be judged, and again,
With what measure you measure it shall be measured to you again. Therefore, though it is really superfluous, I will bring against him a single witness, but one who must prevail, and whom he cannot challenge, that is, once more, himself and his own writings. All can attest what I say in reference to this treatise of his; and my assertion about it seems to be superfluous; but I must make use of some special testimony, lest what I say should seem unsatisfactory to those who have not read his works.
9. When he wrote his treatises against Jovinian, and some one had raised objections to them, he was informed of these objections by Domnio, that old man whose memory we all revere; and in his answer to him he said that it was impossible that a man like him should be in the wrong, since his knowledge extended to everything that could be known: and he proceeded to enumerate the various kinds of syllogisms, and the whole art of learning and of writing (of course supposing that the man who found fault with him knew nothing about such things). He then goes on thus:
It was foolish, it appears, in me to think that I could not know all these things without the philosophers, and to look upon the end of the stylus which strikes out and corrects as better than the end with which we write. It was useless for me it seems, to have translated the Commentaries of Alexander, and for my learned master to have brought me into the knowledge of Logic through the 'Introduction' of Porphyry; and, putting aside humanistic teachers, there was no reason why I should have had Gregory Nazianzen and Didymus as my teachers in the Scriptures.
This, you observe, is the man who said to Christ, I have denied you if ever I am found to possess or to read the works of the heathen. He might, one would think, at all events have left out Porphyry, who was Christ's special enemy, who endeavoured as far as in him lay to completely subvert the Christian religion, but whom he now glories in having had as his instructor in his Introduction to Logic. He cannot put in the plea that he had learned these things at a former time: for, before his conversion, he and I equally were wholly ignorant of the Greek language and literature. All these things came after his oath, after that solemn engagement had been made. It is of no use for us to argue in such a case. It will at once be said to us: Man, you are wrong, God is not mocked, and no syllogisms spun out of the books of Alexander will avail with him. I think, my brother, it was an ill-omened event that you submitted to the Introduction of Porphyry. Into what has that faithless man introduced you? If it is into the place where he is now, that is the place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth; for there dwell the apostate and the enemies of God; and perhaps the perjurers will go there too.
10. You chose a bad introducer. If you will take my counsel, both you and I will by preference turn to him who introduces us to the Father and who said 'No man comes unto the Father but by me.' I lament for you, my brother, if you believe this; and if you believe it not, I still lament that you hunt through all sorts of ancient and antiquated documents for grounds for suspecting other men of perjury, while perjury, lasting and endless with all its inexplicable impiety, remains upon your own lips. Might not these words of the Apostle be rightly applied to you:
You that are called a Jew and rest in the law, and make your boast in God, being instructed out of the law, and trust that you yourself are a leader of the blind, a light of those who sit in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, who has a form of knowledge and of the truth in the law: Therefore, you teach others; do you not teach yourself? You say that a man should not commit adultery; do you commit adultery? You preach that a man should not steal; do you steal? You abhor idols; do you commit sacrilegethat is, perjury? And, what comes last and most important,
The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, and your love of strife.
8 (2). We will pass on to clear up another of the charges, if only he will confess under the stress of his own consciousness of wrong that he has been convicted both of perjury and of making a false defense. Otherwise, if he attempts to deny what I say, I can produce as witnesses any number of my brethren, who, while living in the cells built by me on the Mount of Olives, copied out for him most of the Dialogues of Cicero. I often, as they wrote them out, had in my hands quaternions of these Dialogues; and I looked them over myself, in recognition of the fact that he gave them much larger pay than is usually given for writings of other sorts. He himself also came to see me at Jerusalem from Bethlehem, bringing with him a book which contained a single Dialogue of Cicero, and also one of Plato's in Greek; he will not pretend to deny having given me that book, and having stayed some time with me. But what is the use of delaying so long over a matter which is clearer than the light? To all that I have said this addition is to be made, after which all further comment is superfluous; that after he had settled in the monastery at Bethlehem, and indeed not so long ago, he took the office of a teacher in grammar, and explained 'his own' Maro and the comedians and lyrical and historical writers to young boys who had been entrusted to him that he might teach them the fear of the Lord: so that he actually became a teacher and professor in the knowledge of those heathen authors, as to whom he had sworn that if he even read them he would have denied Christ.
9 (2). But now let us look at the other points which he blames. He says that the doctrines in question are of heathen origin, but in this judgment he condemns himself. He calls these doctrines heathenish; yet he himself incorporates them into his works. He here makes a mistake. Still, we ought to stretch out the hand to him, and not to press him too far: for it is only because he soars so completely above the world on the wings of his eloquence, and is borne along by the full tide of invective and vituperation that he forgets himself and his reason loses its place. Do not be so rash, my brother, as to condemn yourself unnecessarily. Neither you nor Origen are at once to be set down among the heathen if, as you have yourself said, you have written these things to vindicate the justice of God, and to make answer to those who say that everything is moved by chance or by fate: if, I say, it is from your wish to show that God's providence which governs all things is just that you have said the causes of inequality have been acquired by each soul through the passions and feelings of the former life which it had in heaven; or even if you said that it is in accordance with the character of the Trinity, which is good and simple and unchangeable that every creature should in the end of all things be restored to the state in which it was first created; and that this must be after long punishment equal to the length of all the ages, which God inflicts on each creature in the spirit not of one who is angry but of one who corrects, since he is not one who is extreme to mark iniquity; and that, his design like a physician being to heal men, he will place a term upon their punishment. Whether in this you spoke truly, let God judge; anyhow such views seem to me to contain little of impiety against God, and nothing at all of heathenism, especially if they were put forward with the desire and intention of finding some means by which the justice of God might be vindicated.
10 (2). I would not, therefore, have you distress yourself overmuch about these points, nor expose yourself needlessly either to penance or to condemnation. But there is a matter of real importance, as to which I can neither excuse nor defend you; namely, a statement openly made by you which is not only heathenish but beyond all heathenism and impietythe statement in the treatise which I have mentioned above, that God has a mother-in-law. Has anything so profane as this or so impious been said even by any of the heathen poets? It would be a foolish question to ask whether you find anything of the kind in the holy Scriptures. I only ask whether 'your' Flaccus or Maro, whether Plautus or Terence, or even whether any writer of Satires among all their unclean and immodest sayings has ever uttered such an outrage against God. No doubt you were led astray by the fact that the girl to whom you addressed the treatise was called the bride of Christ: and hence you thought that her mother according to the flesh might be called the mother-in-law of God. You did not recollect that such things are said not according to the order of the flesh, but according to the grace of the spirit. For a woman is called the bride of Christ because the word of God is united in a kind of mystic wedlock with the human soul. But if the mother of the girl in question is related to Christ by this spiritual connection, she herself should be called the bride of Christ, not the mother-in-law of God. As it is, you might as well go on to call the father of the girl God's father-in-law, and her sister his sister-in-law, or to call the girl herself God's daughter-in-law. The fact is, you were so anxious to appear completely possessed of the eloquence of Plautus or of Cicero, that you forgot that the Apostle speaks of the whole church, parents and children, mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, all together, as one virgin or bride, when he says,
I determined this very thing, to present you as a chaste virgin to one man, which is Christ. But you boast that you follow not Paul's but Porphyry's Introduction, and, since he wrote his impious and sacrilegious books against Christ and against God, you have fallen, through his introduction, into this abyss of blasphemy.
11. If, then, you really intend to do an act of repentance for those evil speeches of yours, if you are not merely mocking us by saying this, and if you are not in your heart such a lover of strife and contention that you are willing even to defame yourself on this sole condition that you may be able thereby to besmirch another; if it is not in pretence but in good faith that you repent of what you have said amiss, come and do penance for this great and foul blasphemy; for it is indeed blasphemy against God. For if a man oversteps the mark by speaking erroneously of mere creatures, this is not such a very execrable crime, especially if he does it, as you say, not with a set purpose of blasphemy, but in seeking to vindicate the justice of God. But to lift up your mouth against the heaven is a grave offense; to speak violence and blasphemy against the Most High is worthy of death. Let us bestow our lamentations upon that which is hard to cure; for what man is there who has the jaundice, and is in danger both of looks and life, who will complain loudly because of a little hangnail on his foot or because a scratch made with his own finger which easily yields to remedies, is not yet cured?
12. I think very little, indeed, of one reproach which he levels against me, and think it hardly worthy of a reply; that, namely, in which, in recounting the various teachers whom he hired, as he says, from the Jewish synagogue, he says, in order to give me a sharp prick,
I have not been my own teacher, like some people, meaning me of course, for he brings the whole weight of his invective to bear against me from beginning to end. Indeed, I wonder that he should have chosen to make a point of this, when he had a greater and easier matter at hand by which to disparage me, namely this, that, though I stayed long among many eminent teachers, yet I have nothing to show which is worthy of their teaching or their training. He indeed, has not in his whole life stayed more than thirty days at Alexandria where Didymus lived; yet almost all through his books he boasts, at length and at large, that he was the pupil of Didymus the seer, that he had Didymus as his initiator, that is, his preceptor in the holy Scriptures; and the material for all this boasting was acquired in a single month. But I, for the sake of God's work, stayed six years, and again after an interval for two more, where Didymus lived, of whom alone you boast, and where others lived who were in no way inferior to him, but whom you did not know even by sight, Serapion and Menites, men who are like brothers in life and character and learning; and Paul the old man, who had been the pupil of Peter the Martyr; and, to come to the teachers of the desert, on whom I attended frequently and earnestly, Macarius the disciple of Anthony, and the other Macarius, and Isidore and Pambas, all of them friends of God, who taught me those things which they themselves were learning from God. What material for boasting should I have from all these men, if boasting were seemly or expedient! But the truth is, I blush even while I weave together these past experiences, which I do with the intention, not of showing you, as you put it, that my masters did not do justice to my talents, but, what I grieve over far more, that my talents have not done justice to my masters.
But it is foolish in me to enumerate these holy Christian men. It is not of them that he is thinking when he says that he has not like me been his own teacher. It is of Barabbas whom, unlike me, he took as his teacher from the Synagogue, and of Porphyry by whose introduction he and not I had his introduction into Logic. Pardon me for this that I have preferred to be thought of as an unskilled and unlearned man rather than to be called the disciple of Barabbas. For, when Christ and Barabbas were offered for our choice, I in my simplicity made choice of Christ. You, it appears, are willing to join your shouts with those who say,
Not this man but Barabbas. And I should like to know what Porphyry, that friend of yours who wrote his blasphemous books against our religion, taught you? What good did you get from either of those masters of whom you boast so much, the one drawing his inspiration from the idols which represent demons, the other, as you tell us, from the Synagogue of Satan. Nothing, as far as I see, but what they knew themselves. From Porphyry you gained the art of speaking evil of Christians, to strike at those who live in virginity and continence, at our deacons and presbyters, and to defame in your published writings, every order and degree of Christians. From that other friend of yours, Barabbas, whom you chose out of the synagogue rather than Christ, you learned to hope for a resurrection not in power but in frailty, to love the letter which kills and hate the spirit which gives life, and other more secret things, which, if occasion so require, shall afterwards in due time be brought to light.
13. But why should I prolong this discussion? I shall take no notice of his reproaches and railings; I shall make no answer to his violent attacks, that daily task of his, for which Porphyry sharpened his pen. For I have chosen Jesus, not Barabbas, for my master, and he has taught me to be silent when reviled. I will come to the point where I will show how much truth there is in the excuses for himself and the accusations against me which he has heaped together. He says that it is only in two short Prefaces that he ever was known to have praised Origen; and that his praise extended only to his work as an interpreter of Scripture, in which nothing is said of doctrine or of the faith, and that in those parts of his works which he has himself translated there is absolutely nothing advanced of the kind which he now reproves in the interest of the Synagogue rather than that of the edification of Christians. It ought, one would think, be enough to put him to silence, that those very things which he set forth in his own books he blames in those of others; nevertheless, let us see how far these other assertions of his are true. In the Preface to the commentaries of Origen on Ezekiel, contained in fourteen homilies or short orations, he writes thus to one Vincentius:
It is a great thing which you ask of me, my friend, that I should translate Origen into Latin, and present to the ears of Romans a man of whom we may say in the words of Didymus the seer, that he was a teacher of the churches second only to the Apostles.
And a little way on he adds:
I will briefly state for your information that Origen's works on the whole of Scripture are of three kinds. First come the Extracts or Notes, called in Greek Scholia, in which he shortly and summarily touches upon the things which seemed to him obscure or to present some difficulty. The second kind is the Homiletics, of which the present commentary is a specimen. The third kind is what he called Tomes, or as we say Volumes. In this part of his work he gives all the sails of his genius to the breathing winds; and, drawing off from the land, he sails away into mid ocean. I know that you wish that I should translate his writings of all kinds. I have before mentioned the reason why this is impossible; but I promise you this, that if, through your prayers, Jesus gives me back my health, I intend to translate, I will not say all, for that would be rash, but very many of them; on this condition, however, which I have often set you, that I should provide the words and you the secretary.
14. Take, again, the Preface to the Song of Songs:
To the most holy Pope Damasus. Origen in his other books has surpassed all other men: in the Song of Songs he has surpassed himself. The work consists of eleven complete volumes, and reaches a length of nearly twenty thousand lines. In these he discusses first the version of the Septuagint; then those of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, and last of all a Fifth Version which he states that he discovered on the coast of Actium, and this he does so grandly and so freely that it seems to me as if the words were fulfilled in him which say,
The king has brought me into his bedchamber. It would require a vast amount of time, of labour, and of money to translate a work so great and of so much merit into the Latin language. I therefore leave it unattempted; and have merely translated, and that without elegance, but correctly, these two Tracts which he composed in ordinary language for babes and sucklings. I give you a mere taste of his opinions, not a full meal; but enough to make you realize what is the worth of his greater works, when the smaller give you so much pleasure.
15. Also in the Preface of his Commentary on Micah, which was written to Paula and Eustochium, he says, after some few remarks:
As to what they say, that it is not right for me to rifle the works of Origen, and thereby to defile the writings of the ancients, they think this a telling piece of abuse; but it is, in my opinion, the highest praise, since I am seeking to imitate those who are approved not only by us, but by all thoughtful men.
16. Again, in the Preface to his book on the meaning of Hebrew names, he says, some way down:
For fear that, when the edifice has been completed, the last touch, so to speak, should be wanting, I have explained the words and names of the New Testament, partly through a wish to follow the steps of Origen, whom all but the ignorant acknowledge to have been the greatest teacher of the churches next to the Apostles. Among the rest of the illustrious monuments of his genius is the labour which he has bestowed upon this, desiring to complete as a Christian what Philo as a Jew had left undone.
17. Once more, in his letter to Marcella he says:
Ambrose, who supplied the paper, the money and the secretaries by the aid of which our Adamantius and Chalcenterus completed his innumerable books, in a certain letter written to the same person from Athens, declares that he never had a meal, when Origen was present, without something being read, and that he never went to bed without having some brother read aloud from the holy Scriptures. This he said he continued day and night, so that prayer waited upon reading and reading upon prayer.
18. Lastly, take the following from another letter to Marcella:
The blessed Martyr Pamphilus, whose life Eusebius the Bishop of Cæsarea set forth in some three volumes, wished to rival Demetrius Phalereus and Pisistratus, in his zeal to establish a library of sacred books: he sought out all through the world representative works of great minds, which are their true and everlasting monuments; but most of all he acquired at great expense all the books written by Origen, and gave them to the church at Cæsarea. This library was afterwards partly destroyed; but Acatius and later on Euzoius, Bishops of that church, endeavoured to reestablish it in parchment volumes. The last of these recovered a great many works, and left us an inventory of them, but he shows that he could not find the Commentary on the hundred and twenty-sixth Psalm and the Tract on the Hebrew letter Pe, by the fact that he does not mention it. Not that so great a man as Adamantius passed over anything, but that, through the negligence of his successors it did not remain to times within our memory.
19. But perhaps you will say to me:
Why do you fill your paper with this superfluous matter? Does even my friend say that it is a crime to name Origen, or to give him praise for his talents? If Origen is proclaimed as 'such and so great a man,' this makes us the more anxious to be told whether he is in other passages spoken of as 'an apostolic man,' or 'a teacher of the churches,' or by any similar expressions which appear to commend not only his talents but his faith. This then shall be done. It was indeed for this purpose that I produced the passage where he speaks of him as 'such and so great a man,' because it was, if I am not mistaken, in the Preface this laudatory expression is used about him that he also claims the right of Origen to be called an Apostle or a Prophet, and to be praised even to the heavens. And in the same way, if there are passages in which I happen to have praised Origen's learning, all my praise is just of this kind. This man rouses all this alarm in you because of such expressions of mine; but he maintains that it is unjust to bring up similar expressions against him when they occur in his own writings. But, since he does not choose to stand on equal terms with us before the tribunal of opinion, but condemns us on mere suspicion, while he himself does not hold himself bound even by his own handwriting; since he, I say, does not think it necessary in such a matter to observe the rule of holy Scripture which demands that each man should be judged without respect of persons; I will make answer for myself, not according to the demands of justice, but according to his wishes. He says to me:
If you have translated Origen, you are to be blamed; but I, even if I have said the very things for which I blame him, have done well, and these ought to be read and held as true. If you have praised his talents or his knowledge, you have committed a crime; if I have praised his talents, it goes for nothing.
20. Well then; he says,
Give me an instance in which I have so praised him as to defend his system of belief. You have no right to ask this, I reply; yet I will follow where you lead. There is a certain writing of his in which he gives a short catalogue of the works which Varro wrote for the Latins, and of those which Origen wrote in Greek for the Christians. In this he says:
Antiquity marvels at Marcus Terentius Varro because of the countless books which he wrote for Latin readers; and Greek writers are extravagant in their praise of their man of brass, because he has written more works than one of us could so much as copy. But since Latin ears would find a list of Greek writers tiresome, I shall confine myself to the Latin Varro. I shall try to show that we of today are sleeping the sleep of Epimenides and devoting to the amassing of riches the energy which our predecessors gave to sound if secular learning.
Varro's writings include forty-five books of antiquities, four concerning the life of the Roman people.
But why, you ask me, have I thus mentioned Varro and the man of brass? Simply to bring to your notice our Christian man of brass, or, rather, man of adamantOrigen, I meanwhose zeal for the study of Scripture has fairly earned for him this latter name. Would you learn what monuments of his genius he has left us? The following list exhibits them. His writings comprise thirteen books on Genesis, two books of Mystical Homilies, notes on Exodus, notes on Leviticus…also single books, four books on First Principles, two books on the Resurrection, two dialogues on the same subject.
And, after enumerating all his works as if making an exact index, he added what follows:
So you see the labours of this one man have surpassed those of all previous writers both Greek and Latin. Who has ever managed to read all that he has written? Yet what reward have his exertions brought him? He stands condemned by his bishop, Demetrius, only the bishops of Palestine, Arabia, Phœnicia, and Achaia dissenting. Imperial Rome consents to his condemnation, and even convenes a senate to censure him, notas the rabid hounds who now pursue him crybecause of the novelty or heterodoxy of his doctrines, but because men could not tolerate the incomparable eloquence and knowledge, which, when once he opened his lips, made others seem dumb.
I have written the above quickly and incautiously, by the light of a poor lantern. You will see why, if you think of those who today represent Epicurus and Aristippus.
21. Now suppose that while you were writing this, as you tell us you did, quickly not cautiously, by the poor glimmering light of a lantern, some Prophet had stood by you and had cried out:
O writer, suppress those words, restrain your pen; for the time is coming and is not far off when you will make a schism and separate yourself from the church; and, in order that you may find a colorable excuse for this schism, you will begin to defame these very books which you now make out to be so admirable. You will then say that the man whom you call your own Brazen-heart, and whose name you are just about to write down as Adamantine because of the merit of his praise-worthy labours, did not write books for the edification of the soul but venomous heresies. This man, further, whom you rightly describe as not having been condemned by Demetrius on the ground of his belief, who you say was not accused of bringing in strange doctrines, you will then pronounce worthy of execration because of his strange doctrines; as to what you are writing about mad dogs bringing feigned charges against him, you will yourself feign the same: and the Senate of Rome as you call it, you will then stir up against him as you complain that they now do by your letters of admonition, your vehement attestations, and satellites flying in all directions. This is the return that you will make to your admirable Brazen-heart for all his labours. Therefore beware how you write now, for, if you write as you are doing and afterwards act as I have said, you will with more justice be condemned by your own judgment than he by that of others. Would you, do you think, have given credit to that prophet? Would you not have thought it more likely that he was mad than that you would ever come to such a pass? The fact is that in controversies of this kind there is no thought of sparing a friend if only an enemy can be injured. But you go beyond even this point: you do not spare yourself in your attempt to ruin not your enemies but your friends.
22. In the Preface to his book on Hebrew Questions, after many other remarks, he says:
I say nothing of Origen. His name (if I may compare small things to great) is even more than my own the object of ill will, because though following the common version in his Homilies which were spoken to common people, yet in his Tomes, that is, in his fuller discussion of Scripture, he yields to the Hebrew as the truth, and though surrounded by his own forces occasionally seeks the foreign tongue as his ally. I will only say this about him, that I should gladly have his knowledge of the Scriptures even if accompanied with all the ill-will which clings to his name, and that I do not care a straw for these shades and spectral ghosts whose nature is said to be to chatter in dark corners and be a terror to babies.
I really can no longer wonder or complain of his unfriendly dealings with me since he has not spared 'such men, such great men.' For another man whom he tears to pieces is Ambrose that Bishop of sacred memory. In what manner, and with what disparagement he attacks him, I will show in a similar way from one of his Prefaces, in which, nevertheless, he praises Origen. It is the Preface to Origen's homilies on Luke addressed to Paula and Eustochium.
A few days ago you told me that you had read some commentaries on Matthew and Luke, of which one was equally dull in perception and expression, the other frivolous in expression, sleepy in sense. Accordingly, you requested me to translate without such trifling, our Adamantius' 39 homilies on Luke, just as they are found in the original Greek: I replied that it was an irksome task and a mental torment to write, as Cicero phrases it, with another man's heart, not one's own: but yet I will undertake it as your requests reach no higher than this. The demand which the sainted Blæsia once made at Rome, that I should translate into our language his twenty-five volumes on Matthew, five on Luke and thirty-two on John is beyond my powers, my leisure and my energy. You see what weight your influence and wishes have with me. I have laid aside for a time my books on Hebrew Questions to use my energies which your judgment holds fruitful in translating these commentaries which, good or bad, are his work, and not mine: especially as I hear on the left of me the raventhat ominous birdcroaking and mocking in an extraordinary way at the colors of all the other birds, because of his own utter blackness. And so, before he change his note, I confess that these treatises are Origen's recreation no less than dice are a boy's: very different are the serious pursuits of his manhood and of his old age. If my proposal meet with your approbation, if I am still able to undertake the task, and if the Lord grant me opportunity to translate them into Latin, so that I may complete the work I have now deferred, you will then be able to see, aye, and all who speak Latin will learn through you, the mass of valuable knowledge of which they have hitherto been ignorant, but which they have now begun to acquire. Besides this I have arranged to send you shortly the commentaries on Matthew of that eloquent man Hilarius, and of the blessed martyr Victorinus, which, different as their style may be, one spirit has enabled them to write: these will give you some idea of the study which our Latins also have in former days bestowed upon the Holy Scriptures.
23. You see by this what his opinions are about Origen and also about Ambrose. If he should deny that his strictures apply to Ambrose, which every one knows, he will be convicted in the first place by the fact that there is a Commentary of his on Luke which is current among the Latins, and none by any other hand. But secondly he knows that I possess a letter of his in which, while he discharges others, he makes his strictures fall upon Ambrose. But, since that letter contains certain more secret matters, I do not wish to see it published before the right time; and therefore I will corroborate what I say by other proofs similar to it. In the meantime let this be counted as demonstrated by what I have said above, that he extols Origen's writings as in every way admirable, and declares that 'if he translates them, the Roman tongue will then recognize what a store of good it had hitherto been ignorant of and now has begun to understand,' that is the twenty six books on Matthew, the five on Luke, and the thirty two on John. These are the books to which he gives the highest honour; and in these absolutely everything is to be found which is contained in the books on Περὶ ᾽Αρχῶν, the groundwork of his charges against me, only set forth with greater breadth and fullness. If then he promises that he will translate these, why does he condemn me for a similar course? But now I have undertaken to prove how violently he attacks a man who is worthy of all admiration, Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, who was not to that church alone but to all the churches like a column or an impregnable fortress. I will therefore set forth a Preface of his by which you may see in what foul and unworthy terms he assails even a man of such eminence, and also how he praises Didymus to the sky, though he has since cast him down even to the infernal region; and further how he speaks of the city of Rome, which now through the grace of God is reckoned by Christians as their capital, words which were only applicable when its inhabitants were a nation who were heathens and princes who were persecutors.
24. The Preface is that for the treatise of Didymus on the Holy Spirit. It is addressed to Paulinianus, and is as follows.
While I was an inhabitant of Babylon, a settler in the land of the purple harlot, and lived under the law of the Quirites, I attempted to write some poor stuff about the Holy Spirit and dedicated the work to the Pontiff of that city. When on a sudden that pot which Jeremiah saw after the almond rod began to seethe from the face of the North; and the whole senate of the Pharisees raised a clamour and no mere imaginary scribe but the whole faction of the ignorant as if I had declared war against them, laid their heads together against me. I therefore returned with all speed to Jerusalem, like a man going back to his home, and, after having lived in sight of the cottage of Romulus and the Lupercal with its naked games, I am now in sight of Mary's inn and the Saviour's cave. And so, Paulinianus my dear brother, since the aforenamed Pontiff Damasus, who had impelled me to undertake this work, now sleeps in the Lord, it is here in Judea that I warble the song which I could not sing in a strange land, provoked thereto by you and by Paula and Eustochium those handmaids of Christ whom I revere, and aided by your prayers; for this land which bore the Saviour is more august to me than that which bore the man who slew his brother. I have in the title ascribed the work to its true authors for I preferred to be known as the translator of another man's work than to imitate certain people and, like the ungainly jackdaw, deck myself in another bird's plumage. I read some time ago the treatise of a certain person on the Holy Spirit, and I recognized then, according to the sentence of Terence, bad things in Latin taken from good things in Greek. There is nothing in it of close reasoning, nothing downright and manly, such as draws us into assent even against our will, but all is flaccid and soft, sleek and pretty, picked out with the rarest colors. But Didymus, my own Didymus, who has the eyes of the bride in the Song of Songs, those eyes which Jesus bade us lift up upon the whitening fields, looks afar into the depths, and has once more given us cause to call him, as is our wont, the Seer Prophet. Whoever reads the work will recognize the plagiarisms of the Latins, and will despise the derivative streams, as soon as he begins to drink at the fountain head. He is rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; his very style marks him as one like the apostle as well by the grandeur of the sense as by the simplicity of the words.
25. You observe how he treats Ambrose. First, he calls him a crow and says that he is black all over; then he calls him a jackdaw who decks himself in other birds' showy feathers; and then he rends him with his foul abuse, and declares that there is nothing manly in a man whom God has singled out to be the glory of the churches of Christ, who has spoken of the testimonies of the Lord even in the sight of persecuting kings and has not been alarmed. The saintly Ambrose wrote his book on the Holy Spirit not in words only but with his own blood; for he offered his life-blood to his persecutors, and shed it within himself, although God preserved his life for future labours. Suppose that he did follow some of the Greek writers belonging to our Catholic body, and borrowed something from their writings, it should hardly have been the first thought in your mind, (still less the object of such zealous efforts as to make you set to work to translate the work of Didymus on the Holy Spirit,) to blaze abroad what you call his plagiarisms, which were very possibly the result of a literary necessity when he had to reply at once to some ravings of the heretics. Is this the fairness of a Christian? Is it thus that we are to observe the injunction of the Apostle,
Do nothing through faction or through vain glory? But I might turn the tables on you and ask, You who say that a man should not steal, do you steal? I might quote a fact I have already mentioned, namely, that, a little before you wrote your commentary on Micah, you had been accused of plagiarizing from Origen. And you did not deny it, but said:
What they bring against me in violent abuse I accept as the highest praise; for I wish to imitate the man whom we and all who are wise admire. Your plagiarisms redound to your highest praise; those of others make them crows and jackdaws in your estimation. If you act rightly in imitating Origen whom you call second only to the Apostles, why do you sharply attack another for following Didymus, whom nevertheless you point to by name as a Prophet and an apostolic man? For myself I must not complain, since you abuse us all alike. First you do not spare Ambrose, great and highly esteemed as he was; then the man of whom you write that he was second only to the Apostles, and that all the wise admire him, and whom you have praised up to the skies a thousand times over, not as you say in two, but in innumerable places, this man who was before an Apostle, you now turn round and make a heretic. Thirdly, this very Didymus whom you designate the Seer-Prophet, who has the eye of the bride in the Song of Songs, and whom you call according to the meaning of his name an Apostolic man, you now on the other hand criminate as a perverse teacher, and separate him off with what you call your censor's rod, into the communion of heretics. I do not know whence you received this rod. I know that Christ once gave the keys to Peter: but what spirit it is who now dispenses these censors' rods, it is for you to say. However, if you condemn all those I have mentioned with the same mouth with which you once praised them, I who in comparison of them am but like a flea, must not complain, I repeat, if now you tear me to pieces, though once you praised me, and in your Chronicle equalled me to Florentius and Bonosus for the nobleness, as you said, of my life.
26. There is also an astonishing action of his in relation to Melania, which I must not pass by in silence because of the shame which those who hear it may feel. She was the granddaughter of the Consul Marcellinus; and in these very Chronicles he had narrated how she was the first lady of the Roman nobility to visit Jerusalem; how she had left her son, then a little child, behind her at Rome, and how the name of Thecla was given her on account of her signal merit and virtue. But afterwards, when he found that some of his deeds were disapproved by this lady through the stricter discipline of her life, he erased her name from all the copies of his work.
It has been necessary for me to bring together the large number of passages which I have adduced from his works, so as to put to the test the truth of his statement, that it is only in two short prefaces that he has made mention of Origen with praise, and that not because of his faith but his talent; that he has praised in him the commentator not the doctrinal teacher. I have actually brought forward ten.
27. But there is danger of expanding my treatise too far and becoming burdensome to the reader; it is sufficient that in the passages I have cited he speaks of Origen as almost an Apostle and a teacher of the churches, and says that it is not because of his novel doctrines as the mad dogs pretend that the senate of Rome is excited against him; that he follows him because he himself and all the wise approve him; and all the other testimonies, adduced from his prefaces which are inserted above. But, however these matters may stand, and whatever your relations may be to these writers whether ancient or modern, and whether you call them Apostles or mere wantons, Prophets or perverse teachers, what is that to me? It is for you to do penance for all your changes of opinion, your violent words and the wounds you have inflicted on good men, whether you have yet done so or not. As for myself, what is the meaning of your saying
If they have followed me when I erred, let them follow me also in my amendment? Get you behind me! Far be such a thing from me. I never followed you or any other man in your errors, but in the strength of Christ I will follow, not you nor any other man, but the Catholic church. But you, who have written all these things who have followed those whom you knew to be in error, you who, as I have shown, have written so unworthily of God, go you, I say, and do penance, if at least you have any hope that your crime of blasphemy can be pardoned.
27 a. I ask whether you can produce anything which I have written, by which you may convict me of having fallen into heresy even in my youth,anything of such a character as the heresies of which, though you will not confess it, you now stand convicted. I said that I had followed or imitated you in your system of translating, in that alone and in nothing else. Yet you say that by this I have done you all the injury which you complain of. I followed you in such things as I saw that you had done in the Homilies on the Gospel according to Luke. Take the passage:
My soul does magnify the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour. When you found that the Greek Commentary had something relating to the Son of God which was not right, you passed it over; whereas the words about the Spirit, which as you may remember, are expressed in the ordinary way, you not only did not pass over but added a few words of your own to make the expression more clear. And so in the note on the words,
Behold, when the voice of your salutation came into my ears, the babe leaped in my womb, you render:
Because this was not the beginning of his substance, and you add of your own the words
and nature, though both these and a thousand other things in your translations of these homilies or those on Isaiah or Jeremiah, but more particularly in those on Ezekiel, you have now withdrawn. But, in certain places where you found things relating to the faith, that is the Trinity, expressed in a strange manner, you left out words at your discretion. This mode of translation we have both of us observed, and if any one finds fault with it, it is you who ought to make answer, since you made use of it before me. But now the practice which you blame is undoubtedly one for which you may yourself incur blame. The practice of translating word for word you formerly pronounced to be both foolish and injurious. In this I followed you. You can hardly mean that I am to repent of this because you have now changed your opinion, and say that you have translated the present work with literal exactness. In previous cases you took out what was unedifying in matters of faith, though you did so in such a way as not to excise them wholly nor in all cases. For instance, in the Homilies on Isaiah, at the Vision of God Origen refers the words to the Son and the Holy Spirit; and so you have translated, adding, however, words of your own which would make the passage have a more acceptable sense. It stands thus:
Who are then these two Seraphim? My Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit: but you add of your own,
And do not think that there is any difference in the nature of the Trinity, when the functions indicated by the several persons are preserved. The same thing I have done in a great many cases, either cutting out words or bending them into a sounder meaning. For this you bid me do penance. I do not think that you are of this opinion as regards yourself. If then on this ground no penitence is due from either of us, what other things are there of which you invite me to repent?
28. I repeat that there are no writings of mine in which there is any error to be corrected. There are many of yours which, as I have shown, according to your present opinion, ought to be wholly condemned. You made an exception in favour of the Commentaries on the Ephesians, in which you imagined that you had written more correctly. But even you must have seen, as I have shown, how like they are all through to Origen's views; and, indeed, how they contain something more extreme than the views of which you demand the condemnation. And, were it not that you had cut yourself off from the power of repentance by saying
Read over my Commentaries on the Ep. to the Ephesians, and you will acknowledge that I have opposed the doctrines of Origen; possibly you might wish to turn round and do penance for those, and in this case, as in the rest, to condemn yourself. As far as I am concerned, I give you full leave to repent of these also; indeed, the best thing that you can do is to do penance for all that you have said and also for all that you are going to say; for it is certain that all that you have ever written is to be repented of. But if any one blame me for having translated anything at all of Origen's, then I say that I am the last of many who have done the deed, and the blame, if any, should begin with the first. But does any one ever punish a deed the doing of which he had not previously forbidden. We did what was permissible. If there is to be a new law, it holds good only for the future. But it may be said that the works themselves ought to be condemned and their author as well. If that be so, what is to happen to the other author who writes the same things, as I have shown most fully above? He must receive a similar judgment. I do not ask for this nor press for it, although he acts a hostile part towards me. But I cannot but see that he is heaping up such a judgment for himself by his rash condemnation of others.
29. But I must deal with you once more by quoting your own words. You say of me in that invective of yours that I have by my translation shown that Origen is a heretic while I was a Catholic. The words are:
That is to say, I am a Catholic, but he whom I was translating is a heretic. Yes you say it, I have read it. Well then, if, as you tell us, the result of my whole work is to show that I am a Catholic and Origen a heretic, what more do you want? Is not your whole object gained if Origen is proved a heretic and I a Catholic? If you bear witness that I have said this and have thus given you satisfaction by the whole of my work, what cause of accusation against me remains? What purpose was served by that Invective of yours against me? If I proved Origen to be a heretic and myself a Catholic, was I right or not? If I was, then why do you subject to blame and accusation what was rightly done? But, if it was not right that Origen should be called a heretic, why do you make a charge against me on that head? What need was there for you to translate in a worse sense what I had already translated according to your principles, though in a less elegant style? Especially what need was there for you to play your readers false, and, when they expected one thing, for you to do another? They imagine that you are acting in opposition to those who defend Origen as Catholic; but the person whom you combat and accuse is the man who you say has pronounced him a heretic. Perhaps it was for this that you invited me to do penance; and I had misunderstood you. But even of this I must say that I could not repent, if my repentance implied that I thought all things which are found in his works are catholic. Whether what is uncatholic is his own or, as I think, inserted by others, God only knows: at all events these things, when brought to the standard of the faith and of truth are wholly rejected by me. What then is it that you want me to say? That Origen is a heretic? That is what you say that I have done, and you blame it. That he is a catholic then? Again you make this a ground of accusation against me. Point out more clearly what you mean; possibly there is something which you can find out that lies between the two. This is all the wit that you have gathered from the acuteness of Alexander and Porphyry and Aristotle himself: This is the issue of all the boasting which you make of having from infancy to old age been versed and trained in the schools of rhetoric and philosophy, that you set forth with the intention of pronouncing sentence on Origen as a heretic, and in the very speech in which you are delivering judgment turn upon the man whom you are addressing and accuse him because he also has shown Origen to be a heretic. I beg all men to note that there is in all this no care for the faith or for truth, no earnest thought of religion and sound judgment; there is nothing but the practised lust of evil speaking and accusing the brethren which works in his tongue, nothing but rivalry with his fellow men in his heart, nothing but malice and envy in his mind. So much is this the case that, before any cause of ill feeling existed, and I spoke of you with praise as my brother and colleague, you nevertheless were angry at my advances. Forgive me for not knowing that you were what the Greeks call acatonomastos (ακατονόμαστος), one whom no one dares to address by name. Still, I wonder that you should call upon me to condemn what you complain of me for branding as wrong.
30. It seems needless to make any answer to that part of his indictment in which he says that the works of the Martyr Pamphilus, expressed as they are with so much faithfulness and piety, are either not to be considered genuine or if genuine, to be treated with contempt. Is there any one to whose authority he will bow? Is there any one whom he will refrain from abusing? All the old Greek writers of the church, according to him, have erred. As to the Latins, how he disparages them, how he attacks them one by one, both those of the old and those of modern times, any one who reads his various work knows well. Now even the Martyrs fail to gain any respect from him.
I do not believe, he says
that this is really the work of the Martyr. If such an argument were admitted in the case of the works of any writer, how can we prove their genuineness in any particular case? If I were to say, It is not true that books of Miscellanies are Origen's as you maintain, how can they be proved to be his? His answer is, From their likeness to the rest. But, just as, when a man wants to forge some one's signature, he imitates his handwriting, so he who wishes to introduce his own thoughts under another man's name, is sure to imitate the style of him whose name he has assumed. But, to pass over for brevity's sake all that might with great justice be said on this point, if you were determined to be so bold as to question the works of the Martyr, you ought to have brought out publicly the actual statements which seemed to you liable to question, and then every reader could have seen what was absurd in them and what was reasonable, what was unsuitable to or against the system of the Apostles; and especially the great impiety, whatever it may have been, in expiation of which you tell us that the Martyr shed his blood. A man who read those actual words would be able to say, not, as now, on your judgment but on his own, either that the martyr had gone wrong, or that a treatise which was so full of absurdity and unbelief had been composed by some one else. But, as it is, you know well that if the writings which you impugn are read by any one, the blame will be turned back upon him who has unjustly found fault; and therefore you do not cite the passages which you impugn, but with that 'censor's rod' of yours, and by your own arrogant authority, you make your decrees in this style:
Let this book be cast out of the libraries, let that book be retained; and again, if today a book is accepted, tomorrow if any one but myself has praised it, let it be cast out, and with it the man who praised it. Let this one be counted as Catholic, even though he seems at times to have gone wrong; let that man have no pardon for his error, even though he has said the same things as myself, and let no man translate him nor read him, for fear he should recognize my plagiarisms. This man indeed was a heretic, but he was my master. And this other, though he is a Jew, and of the Synagogue of Satan, and is hired to sell words for gain, yet he is my master who must be preferred to all others, because it is among the Jews alone that the truth of the Scriptures dwells. If the universal Church had with one voice conferred on you this authority, and had demanded of you that you should be the judge of each and all, would it not have been your duty to refuse to allow so heavy and perilous a burden to be laid upon you? But now we have made such progress in the daily habit of disparaging others that we no longer spare even the martyrs. But let us suppose that the work is not that of the martyr Pamphilus, but of some other unknown member of the church; did he, whoever he may have been, employ his own words, I ask, so that we are called upon to defer to the merits of the writer? No. He sets out quotations from the works of Origen himself, and exhibits his opinion upon each question not in the words of the apologist but in those of the accused himself; and, just as in the present treatise what I have quoted from your writings carried much more force than what I have said myself, so also the defense of Origen lies not in the authority of his apologist, but in his own words. The question of authorship is superfluous, when the defense is so conducted as to dispense with the author's aid.
31. But I must come to that head of his inculpation of me which is most injurious and full of ill-will; nay, not of ill-will only but of malice. He says: Which of all the wise and holy men before us has dared to attempt the translation of these books which you have translated? I myself, he adds, though asked by many to do it, have always refused. But the fact is, the excuse to be made for those holy men is easy enough; for it by no means follows because a man of Latin race is a holy and a wise man, that he has an adequate knowledge of the Greek language; it is no slur upon his holiness that he is wanting in the knowledge of a foreign tongue. And further, if he has the knowledge of the Greek language, it does not follow that he has the wish to make translations. Even if he has such a wish, we are not to find fault with him for not translating more than a few works, and for translating some rather than others. Every man has power to do as he likes in such matters according to his own free will or according to the wish of any one who asks him to make the translation. But he brings forward the case of the saintly men Hilary and Victorinus, the first of whom, though well-known as a commentator, translated nothing, I believe, from the Greek; while the other himself tells us that he employed a learned presbyter named Heliodorus to draw what he needed from the Greek sources, while he himself merely gave them their Latin form because he knew little or nothing of Greek. There is therefore a very good reason why these men should not have made this translation. That you should have acted in the same way is, I admit, a matter for wonder. For what further audacity, what larger amount of rashness, would have been required to translate those books of Origen, after you had put almost the whole of their contents into your other works, and, indeed, had already published in books bearing your own name all that is said in those which you now declare worthy of blame?
32. Perhaps it was a greater piece of audacity to alter the books of the divine Scriptures which had been delivered to the Churches of Christ by the Apostles to be a complete record of their faith by making a new translation under the influence of the Jews. Which of these two things appears to you to be the less legitimate? As to the sayings of Origen, if we agree with them, we agree with them as the sayings of a man; if we disagree, we can easily disregard them as those of a mere man. But how are we to regard those translations of yours which you are now sending about everywhere, through our churches and monasteries, through all our cities and walled towns? Are they to be treated as human or divine? And what are we to do when we are told that the books which bear the names of the Hebrew Prophets and lawgivers are to be had from you in a truer form than that which was approved by the Apostles? How, I ask, is this mistake to be set right, or rather, how is this crime to be expiated? We hold it a thing worthy of condemnation that a man should have put forth some strange opinions in the interpretation of the law of God; but to pervert the law itself and make it different from that which the Apostles handed down to us,how many times over must this be pronounced worthy of condemnation? To the daring temerity of this act we may much more justly apply your words:
Which of all the wise and holy men who have gone before you has dared to put his hand to that work? Which of them would have presumed thus to profane the book of God, and the sacred words of the Holy Spirit? Who but you would have laid hands upon the divine gift and the inheritance of the Apostles?
33. There has been from the first in the churches of God, and especially in that of Jerusalem, a plentiful supply of men who being born Jews have become Christians; and their perfect acquaintance with both languages and their sufficient knowledge of the law is shown by their administration of the pontifical office. In all this abundance of learned men, has there been one who has dared to make havoc of the divine record handed down to the Churches by the Apostles and the deposit of the Holy Spirit? For what can we call it but havoc, when some parts of it are transformed, and this is called the correction of an error? For instance, the whole of the history of Susanna, which gave a lesson of chastity to the churches of God, has by him been cut out, thrown aside and dismissed. The hymn of the three children, which is regularly sung on festivals in the Church of God, he has wholly erased from the place where it stood. But why should I enumerate these cases one by one, when their number cannot be estimated? This, however, cannot be passed over. The seventy translators, each in their separate cells, produced a version couched in consonant and identical words, under the inspiration, as we cannot doubt, of the Holy Spirit; and this version must certainly be of more authority with us than a translation made by a single man under the inspiration of Barabbas. But, putting this aside, I beg you to listen, for example, to this as an instance of what we mean. Peter was for twenty-four years Bishop of the Church of Rome. We cannot doubt that, amongst other things necessary for the instruction of the church, he himself delivered to them the treasury of the sacred books, which, no doubt, had even then begun to be read under his presidency and teaching. What are we to say then? Did Peter the Apostle of Christ deceive the church and deliver to them books which were false and contained nothing of truth? Are we to believe that he knew that the Jews possessed what was true, and yet determined that the Christians should have what was false? But perhaps the answer will be made that Peter was illiterate, and that, though he knew that the books of the Jews were truer than those which existed in the church, yet he could not translate them into Latin because of his linguistic incapacity. What then! Was the tongue of fire given by the Holy Spirit from heaven of no avail to him? Did not the Apostles speak in all languages?
34. But let us grant that the Apostle Peter was unable to do what our friend has lately done. Was Paul illiterate? We ask; He who was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, touching the law a Pharisee, brought up at the feet of Gamaliel? Could not he, when he was at Rome, have supplied any deficiencies of Peter? Is it conceivable that they, who prescribed to their disciples that they should give attention to reading, did not give them correct and true reading? These men who bid us not attend to Jewish fables and genealogies, which minister questioning rather than edification; and who, again, bid us beware of, and specially watch, those of the circumcision; is it conceivable that they could not foresee through the Spirit that a time would come, after nearly four hundred years, when the church would find out that the Apostles had not delivered to them the truth of the old Testament, and would send an embassy to those whom the apostles spoke of as the circumcision, begging and beseeching them to dole out to them some small portion of the truth which was in their possession: and that the Church would through this embassy confess that she had been for all those four hundred years in error; that she had indeed been called by the Apostles from among the Gentiles to be the bride of Christ, but that they had not decked her with a necklace of genuine jewels; that she had fondly thought that they were precious stones, but now had found out that those were not true gems which the Apostles had put upon her, so that she felt ashamed to go forth in public decked in false instead of true jewels, and that she therefore begged that they would send her Barabbas, even him whom she had once rejected to be married to Christ, so that in conjunction with one man chosen from among her own people, he might restore to her the true ornaments with which the Apostles had failed to furnish her.
35. What wonder is there then that he should tear me to pieces, being as I am of no account; or that he should wound Ambrose, or find fault with Hilary, Lactantius and Didymus? I must not greatly grieve over any injury of my own in the fact that he has attempted to do my work of translating over again, when he is only treating me with the same contempt with which he has treated the Seventy translators. But this emendation of the Seventy, what are we to think of it? Is it not evident, how greatly the grounds for the heathens' unbelief have been increased by this proceeding? For they take notice of what is going on amongst us. They know that our law has been amended, or at least changed; and do you suppose they do not say among themselves,
These people are wandering at random, they have no fixed truth among them, for you see how they make amendments and corrections in their laws whenever they please, and indeed it is evident that there must have been previous error where amendment has supervened, and that things which undergo change at the hand of man cannot possibly be divine. This has been the present which you have made us with your excess of wisdom, that we are all judged even by the heathen as lacking in wisdom. I reject the wisdom which Peter and Paul did not teach. I will have nothing to do with a truth which the Apostles have not approved. These are your own words:
The ears of simple men among the Latins ought not after four hundred years to be molested by the sound of new doctrines. Now you are yourself saying:
Every one has been under a mistake who thought that Susanna had afforded an example of chastity to both the married and the unmarried. It is not true. And every one who thought that the boy Daniel was filled with the Holy Spirit and convicted the adulterous old men, was under a mistake. That also was not true. And every congregation throughout the universe, whether of those who are in the body or of those who have departed to be with the Lord, even though they were holy martyrs or confessors, all who have sung the Hymn of the three children have been in error, and have sung what is false. Now therefore after four hundred years the truth of the law comes forth for us, it has been bought with money from the Synagogue. When the world has grown old and all things are hastening to their end, let us change the inscriptions upon the tombs of the ancients, so that it may be known by those who had read the story otherwise, that it was not a gourd but an ivy plant under whose shade Jonah rested; and that, when our legislator pleases, it will no longer be the shade of ivy but of some other plant.
36. But Origen also, you will tell us, in composing his work called the Hexapla, adopted the asterisks, taking them from the translation of Theodotion. How is this? You produce Origen sometimes for condemnation, sometimes for imitation, at your own caprice. But can it be admitted as right that you should bring in the same man as your advocate whom just now you were accusing? Can you take as an authority for your actions one whom you yourself have previously condemned, and to the condemnation of whom you stirred up the Roman senate? You ought to have made provision for this beforehand. No man begins by cutting the trunk of a tree when he is intending to lean against it; and no man first impugns the faith of another and then invokes his faith in his own defense. Whether Origen did as you say or not, makes no difference to you. If you wish that his case should be a precedent for yours, read over your judgment upon him, and see what you have said. You used the expression:
This is not clearing yourself but only seeking abettors of your crime. Apply this to yourself; your business is not to seek abettors of your crime, but to find means of justification for your conduct. However, let us see whether anything of the kind was done by Origen whom you make both plaintiff and defendant. I do not find a single passage which he translated from the Hebrew. How then can your action and his be said to be alike? What he did was this. He proved that apostates and Jews had translated the writings which the Jews specially read: and, since it would frequently happen in the course of discussion that they falsely asserted that some things had been taken out and others put in in our copies of the Scriptures, Origen desired to show to our people what reading obtained among the Jews. He therefore wrote out each of their versions in separate pages or columns, and pointed out by means of certain specified marks at the head of each line what had been added or subtracted by them; and he merely put these marks of his in the work of others, not in his own; so that we might understand not what we ourselves but what the Jews believed to have been either removed or inserted. This was no more than what is done in the army when a list is made out containing the names of the soldiers. If the captain wishes to see how many of them have survived after an action, he sends a man to make inquiry; and he makes his own mark, a (θ) (theta), for instance, as is commonly done, against the name of each soldier who has fallen, and puts some other mark of his own to designate the survivors. Do you suppose that he who makes one mark against the name of a dead man and another of his own against that of a survivor, will be thought to have done anything which causes the one to be dead and the other to be alive? He has only, as is well understood, marked the names of those who have been killed by others, so as to call attention to the fact. Just in the same way, Origen pointed out by certain marks of his own, namely, the signs of asterisks and obeli, which words had been, so to speak, killed by other translators, and those which had been superfluously introduced. But he put in no single word of his own, nor did he make it appear that the certainty of our copies was in any point shaken; but those things which, as the actual words run, seemed wanting in plainness and clearness, he showed to be full of the mysteries of a spiritual meaning. What comfort then can the conduct of Origen give you in this matter, when your work is shown to be quite unlike his, and when all your labour is spent upon making one letter kill the next, whereas his endeavour, on the contrary, is to vindicate the Spirit which gives life?
37. This action is yours, my brother, yours alone. It is clear that no one in the church has been your companion or confederate in it, but only that Barabbas whom you mention so frequently. What other spirit than that of the Jews would dare to tamper with the records of the church which have been handed down from the Apostles? It is they, my brother, you who were most dear to me before you were taken captive by the Jews, it is they who are hurrying you into this abyss of evil. It is their doing that those books of yours are put forth in which you brand your Christian brethren, not sparing even the martyrs, and heap up accusations speakable and unspeakable against Christians of every degree, and mar our peace, and cause a scandal to the church. It is they who cause you to pass sentence upon yourself and your own writings as upon words which you once spoke as a Christian. We all of us have become worthless in your eyes, while they and their evil acts are all your delight. If you had but listened to Paul where he says in his Epistle:
If any brother be overtaken in a fault ye who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, you would never have let your passions swell up so as altogether to break through the order of our spiritual discipline. Suppose that I had written something which was injurious to you; suppose that I had done some injustice to you a man of the highest eloquence, who were my brother and my brother presbyter, whom also I had pronounced worthy of imitation in your method of translation: even so, this was the first complaint which you had received of any injury on my part since friendship had been restored between us, and that with difficulty and much trouble. But suppose that you had reason to be offended at the fact that, in my translation of Origen, I passed over some things which appeared to me unedifying in point of doctrinethough in this I only did what you had done. Possibly I was deserving of blame and correction for this. You say that some of the brethren sent letters to you demanding that the faults of the translator should be pointed out. What then did you do, you who are a man of spiritual attainments? What a model, what an example of conduct in such matters is this which you have given! You not only blazen forth the shame of your brother's nakedness to those who are without, but you yourself tear away the covering of his nakedness. Suppose even that what I did was not done as you had done it, suppose that, through some access of drunkenness creeping unawares upon me, I had laid bare my own shame as the Patriarch did; would it have been a curse which you would have incurred if you had walked backward and made your reply like a soft cloak to cover my reproach, if the letter of the brother who was wide-awake had veiled the brother who lay exposed through his own drowsiness in writing?
38. But you will say, It was impossible for me to reply otherwise than I did. The letter which I received was such that, if I had not replied and retranslated literally the books which you had translated paraphrastically, I should myself have been thought to be a follower of Origen. I will not at present say anything as to the character of that letter, except that it bears the name of a man of high rank, Pammachius: but I ask, would there have been anything uncourteous in such a reply as this:
My brothers we ought not readily to judge of other men's works. You remember what you did when I had sent my books against Jovinian to Rome, and when some persons understood them in a different sense from that in which, if my memory serves me, I had composed them. They were read by a great many people, and almost every one was offended by them, you yourself, as was believed, amongst them. Did you not on that occasion withdraw from circulation the copies which had been exposed to sale publicly in the forum, and send them, not to some one else, but to me, at the same time pointing out the grounds on which you thought so many had been offended? And I, as you remember, wrote an Apology in new terms, so as to give a sounder meaning, as far as I could, to expressions to which a different sense had been attributed. Well, it is but fair that as we would that men should do to us so we should do to them: and therefore, as you sent me back my books for correction, so do now with these books: send them back to their author, and hint to him what you think blameable in them, so that, if in anything he has gone wrong, he may correct it. Besides, though I have exercised my talents on many subjects, and laboured out many works, this is almost the first work which he has attempted, and possibly even this he has done under compulsion, so that it is not strange if he has not gone quite straight at first. We should not seize upon opportunities for disparaging men who are Christians, but seek their advantage by correcting what they have done wrong.
39. If your reply to him had been couched in terms like these, would you not have ministered grace and edification both to him, since he has been initiated into the fear of God, and to all your other readers, whereas these invectives of yours are the cause of sadness and confusion to all who fear God, since they see you a prey to this hideous lust of detraction, and me driven to the wretched necessity of recrimination. But, as I have said, this evidence was unnecessary. You yourself in the books you published against Jovinian, at one time assert, as can be shown, the same things which you blamed in him, while at another you fall into the opposite extreme, and declare marriage to be so disgraceful a state that its stain cannot even be washed away by the blood of martyrdom. But, if it appeared to you an easy thing for your friend to procure what amounts to a correction of the dogma of the Manichæans as it was originally expressed in these books, and that when they were already published and placed in the hands of many persons to copy, what difficulty would there have been in my correcting a work which was not my own but a translation of that of another man, if any mistakes could be pointed out in it, I will not say by reason, but even by envy? Especially when it was still in rough sheets, which I had not read over again or corrected, and which were not published when your friends took possession of them. Was it an impossibility to get these writings corrected which were then in an uncorrected state? But the sting does not proceed from that quarter; he would have found nothing to blame there. It proceeds wholly from the fact that he was afraid that it might come to light what is the source of all that he says, and whence he gains the reputation of a learned man and a great expounder of the Scriptures.
40. I explained the reasons which induced me to make the translation so that it should be seen that I acted, not in the spirit of contention and rivalry, in which he so often acts, but from the necessity which I have explained above; and I did it as an aid to a good and useful undertaking. I hoped that it might impart something both of lucidity and of brightness to one who, though with little culture, was composing a serious work. Do we not know cases in which old houses have been of use in the construction of new ones? Sometimes a stone is taken from the parts of an old house which are remote and concealed, to decorate the portal of the new house and adorn its entrance. And at times an edifice of modern architecture is supported by the strength of a single ancient beam. Are we then to place ourselves in opposition to those who rightly use what is old in building up what is new? Are we to say, You are not allowed to transfer the materials of the old house to the new, unless you join each beam to its beam, each stone to its stone, unless you make a portico of what was a portico before, a chamber of what was a chamber; and this must further involve building up the most secret recesses from what were such before, and the sewers from the former sewers: for every large house must have such places. This is the process of translating word for word, which in former days you esteemed inadmissible, but which you now approve. But you claim that what is in itself unlawful is lawful for you, while for us even what is lawful you impute as a crime. You think it right that you should be praised for changing the words of the Sacred Books and Divine volumes; but if we, when we imitate you in translating a human work, pass over anything which seems to us not to be edifying, we are to have no pardon for this at your hands, though you yourself set us the example.
41. However, let him act in these matters as he himself thinks lawful or expedient. Let me recapitulate in the end of this book what I have said in a scattered way in my own defense. He had said of me that it seemed as if I could not be a heretic without him; I therefore set forth my belief and, in respect of the resurrection of the dead I proved that he rather than I was in error, since he spoke of the resurrection body as frail. I showed also that he did away with the distinction of sex in the other world, saying that bodies would become souls women men. I next revealed the causes which had led to my translationvery proper causes in my opinion; I showed that it was not because I was stimulated by contentiousness, nor because I was desirous of glory, but because I was incited by the fear of God, that I imported a store of old Greek material to be used in the new Latin construction, that I furbished up the old armour which had become enveloped in rust, not with a view to excite a civil war but to repel a hostile attack. I then introduced the chief matter on which they have laid their forgers' hands, the adulterous blasphemy against the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, a thing quite alien from me, but brought in by these men in their wickedness as I showed by quotations.
42. I then took up one by one the points in which he had blamed Origen, with the intention of striking at me and discrediting my work of translation. I showed from those very Commentaries of his from which he had said that we might expect to learn and test his belief, that on three points, namely the previous state of the soul, the restitution of all things, and his views concerning the devil and apostate angels, he has himself written the same things which he blames in Origen. I convicted him of having said that the souls of men were held bound in this body as in a prison; and I proved that he had asserted in these very Commentaries that the whole rational creation of angels and of human souls formed but a single body. I next showed that, as to an association for perjury, there was no one who had so much to do with it in its deepest mysteries as himself; and in accordance with this I proved that the doctrine that truth and the higher teaching ought not to be disclosed to all men was taught by him in these same Commentaries. I next took up the question of secular literature, as to which he had made this declaration to Christ as he sat on the judgment seat and ordered him to be beaten:
If ever I read or possess the books of the heathen, I have denied You; and I showed clearly that he not only reads and possesses these books now, but that he supports all the bragging of which his teaching is full on his knowledge of them; so much so that he boasts of having been introduced to the knowledge of logic through the Introduction of Porphyry the prince of unbelievers. And, while he says that it is a doctrine of the heathen, to speak in this or that manner both about the soul and about other creatures, I showed that he had spoken of God in a more degrading manner than any of the heathen when he said that God had a mother-in-law. But further, whereas he had declared that he had only mentioned Origen in two short Prefaces, and then not as a man of apostolic rank but merely as a man of talent, I, though for brevity's sake only bringing forward ten of his Prefaces, established the fact that in each of them he had spoken of him not only as an apostolic man but as a teacher of the churches next after the apostles, and as one whose teaching was followed by himself and all wise men.
43. Moreover, I pointed out clearly that it is habitual to him to disparage all good men, and that, if he can find something to blame in one man after another of those who are highly esteemed and have gained a name in literature, he thinks that he has added to his own reputation. I showed also how shamefully some of Christ's priests have been assailed by him; and how he has spared neither the monks nor the virgins, nor those who live in continency, whom he had praised before; how he has defamed in his lampoons every order and degree of Christians; how shamefully and foully he assailed even Ambrose, that saintly man, the memory of whose illustrious life still lives in the hearts of all men: how even Didymus, whom he had formerly ranked among the seer-prophets and Apostles, now he places among those whose teaching diverges from that of the churches; how he brands with the marks of ignorance or of folly every single writer of ancient and of modern days; and finally does not spare even the martyrs. All these things I have brought to the proof of his own works and his own testimony, not to that of external witnesses. I have gone through each particular, and have brought out the evidence from those very books of his which he most commends, books which alone he excepted as containing nothing of which he needed to repent, while he says that he repents of all his other sayings and writings; not that his repentance is sincere, but that he is driven into such straits that he must choose either to feign penitence or to forfeit the vantage ground which enables him to bite and wound any one whom he pleases. I therefore preferred not to touch his other writings, so that his conviction might come out of those alone out of which he had himself closed the door of repentance. Last of all I have shown that he has altered the sacred books which the Apostles had committed to the churches as the trustworthy deposit of the Holy Spirit, and that he who calls out about the audacity shown in translating mere human works himself commits the greater crime of subverting the divine oracles.
44. It remains that every reader of this book should give his suffrage for one or the other of us, judging as he desires that he may himself be judged by God; and that he should not injure his own soul by favoring either party unjustly. Also, my beloved son Apronianus, go to Pammachius, that saintly man whose letter is put forward by our friend in this Invective or Bill of Indictment of his, and adjure him in Christ's name to incline in his judgment to the cause of innocence not that of party-spirit: it is the cause of truth that is at stake, and religion not party should be our guide. It is a precept of our Lord to
judge not according to the appearance, but judge a righteous judgment, and, just as in each one of the least of his brethren it is Christ who is thirsty and hungry, who is clothed and fed; so in these who are unjustly judged it is He who is judged unrighteously. When some are hated without a cause, he will speak on their behalf and say:
You have hated me without a cause. What judgment does he think will be formed of this cause and of his action in it before the tribunal of Christ? He remembers well no doubt how, when the men we are speaking of had written and published his books against Jovinian, and men were already reading them and finding fault with them, he withdrew them from the hands of the readers, and stopped their remarks, and blamed them for their blame of his friend; and how, further, he sent the books back to the author, with the suggestion that he should either correct those passages which had been found fault with, or in any way that he would set matters right. But when what I had written fell into his hands,it was not then a book but merely a number of imperfect, uncorrected papers, which had been subtracted by fraud and theft by some scoundrel; he did not bring it to me and complain of it, though I was close at hand; he did not deign even to rebuke me or to convict me of wrong through some friend, as it might have been, or even some enemy; but sent my papers to the East, and set to work the tongue of that man who never yet knew how to control it. Would it have been against the precepts of our religion if he had met me face to face? Did he think me so utterly unworthy of holding converse with him, that it was not worth while even to argue with me? Yet for us too Christ died, for our salvation also He shed his blood. We are sinners, I grant, but we belong to his flock and are numbered among his sheep. Pammachius, however, must be held in honour for his excellent deeds wrought through faith in Christ, which should be an example to all others; for he has counted his rank as nothing worth, and has made himself equal to the humble; consequently, I was unwilling to see him carried away by human partisanship and contention, lest his faith should suffer damage in any way. At all events we shall see how far he preserves a right judgment when he sees that that great master Jerome taught, in the commentaries which he selected as satisfactory even after his repentance, the very things which he condemns in others as being alien to his own teaching. We shall think that his former action was a mistake due to ignorance if he recognizes it and sets it right. As for myself, though under the compulsion of necessity, I have endeavoured to make answer to him who had attacked me with such great bitterness, yet for this also I ask for forgiveness if I have handled the matter too sharply; for God is my witness how truly I can say that I have kept silence on many more points than I have brought forward. I could not wholly keep silence in the presence of accusations which I know to be undeserved, when I heard from many that my silence would bring their own faith into peril.
45. After this Apology had been written, one of the brethren who came to us from you at Rome and helped me in revising it, observed that one point in my defense had been passed over which he had heard adversely dwelt upon by my detractors there. The point turns upon a statement in my Preface, where I said of him who is now my persecutor and accuser that in the works of Origen which he translated there are found certain grounds of offense in the Greek, but that he has in his translation so cleared them away that the Latin reader will find nothing in them which is dissonant from our faith. On this sentence they remark:
You see how he has praised his method of translation and has borne his testimony that in the books he has translated no grounds of offense are to be found, and promised that he would himself follow the same method. Why then is not his own translation free from grounds of offense, as he bears witness is the case with the writings of the other?
46. I suppose it is not to be wondered at that I am always blamed for the points in which I have praised him. It is quite right, no doubt. But to come to the matter itself. I said that when grounds of offense appeared in the Greek he had cleared them away in his Latin translation; and not wrongly; but he had done this just in the same sense as I have done it. For instance, in the Homilies on Isaiah, he explains the two Seraphim as meaning the Son and the Holy Ghost, and he adds this of his own:
Let no one think that there is a difference of nature in the Trinity when the offices of the Persons are distinguished; and by this he thinks that he has been able to remedy the grounds of offense. I in a similar way occasionally removed, altered or added a few words, in the attempt to draw the meaning of the writer into better accordance with the straight path of the faith. What did I do in this which was different or contrary to our friend's system? What which was not identical with it? But the difference lies in this, that I was judging of his writings without ill-will or detraction, and therefore saw in them not what might lend itself to depreciation, but what the translator aimed at; whereas he is seeking for occasions for calumniating others, and therefore finds fault with those things in my writings which he himself has formerly written. And indeed he is right in blaming me, since I have pronounced what he has said to be right, whereas in his judgment it is reprehensible. This holds in reference to the doctrine he has expressed about the Trinity; namely, that the two Seraphim are the Son and the Holy Ghost, from which especially the charge of blasphemy is drawn, that is, if he is to be judged according to the system which he has adopted in dealing with me. But according to the system which I have adopted in judging of his writings, apart from the matter of calumny, he is not to be held guilty because of what he has added on his own account to explain the author's meaning.
47. As regards the resurrection of the flesh, I think that my translation contains the same doctrines which are preached in the churches. As to the other points which relate to the various orders of created beings, I have already said that they have nothing to do with our faith in the Deity. But if he appeals to these for the sake of calumniating others, though they have hitherto presented no ground of offense, I do not deny his right to do so, if he thinks well to revoke my judgment by which he might have been absolved, and to enforce his own, by which he ought to be condemned. It is not my judgment on him which is blameable, but his own, which takes others to task for doing what he approves in himself. But this is a new method of judgment according to which I am defending my own accuser, and he considers that he has at last gained the victory over me when he has brought himself in guilty. But suppose that a Synod of Bishops should accept the sentences you have pronounced, and should demand that all the books which contain the impugned doctrines, together with their authors, should be condemned; then these books must be condemned first as they stand in the Greek; and then what is condemned in Greek must undoubtedly be condemned in the Latin. Then will come the turn of your own books; they will be found to contain the same things, even according to your own judgment. And as it has been of no advantage to Origen that you have praised him, so it will be of no profit to you that I have pleaded in your behalf. I shall then be bound to follow the judgment of the Catholic Church whether it is given against the books of Origen or against yours.
Source. Translated by W.H. Fremantle. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 3. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/27052.htm>.
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