Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. Includes the Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers, Summa, Bible and more all for only $19.99...
Addressed to Pammachius and Marcella from Bethlehem, A.D. 402.
The documents which Jerome had before him when he wrote his Apology were (1) Rufinus' Translation of Pamphilus' Apology with the Preface prefixed to it and the book on the Falsification of the Books of Origen, (2) the Translation of the Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν and Rufinus' Preface, (3) The Apology of Rufinus addressed to Anastasius (see p. 430), and (4) Anastasius' letter to John of Jerusalem (p. 432 Apol. ii, 14, iii, 20). He had also other letters of Anastasius like that addressed to the Bishop of Milan (Jerome Letter 95. See also Apol. iii, 21). But he had not the full text of Rufinus' Apology (c. 4, 15). He received letters from Pammachius and Marcella, at the beginning of the Spring of 402, when the Apology written at Aquileia at the end of 400 had become known to Rufinus' friends for some time. They had been unable to obtain a full copy, but had sent the chief heads of it, and had strongly urged Jerome to reply. At the same time his brother Paulinianus who had been some three years in the West, returned to Palestine by way of Rome, and there heard and saw portions of Rufinus' Apology, which he committed to memory (Apol. i, 21, 28) and repeated at Bethlehem. To these documents Jerome replies.
I have learned not only from your letter but from those of many others that cavils are raised against me in the school of Tyrannus,
by the tongue of my dogs from the enemies by himself because I have translated the books Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν into Latin. What unprecedented shamelessness is this! They accuse the physician for detecting the poison: and this in order to protect their vendor of drugs, not in obtaining the reward of innocence but in his partnership with the criminal; as if the number of the offenders diminished the crime, or as if the accusation depended on our personal feelings not on the facts. Pamphlets are written against me; they are forced on every one's attention; and yet they are not openly published, so that the hearts of the simple are disturbed, and no opportunity is given me of answering. This is a new way of injuring a man, to make accusations which you are afraid of sending abroad, to write what you are obliged to hide. If what he writes is true, why is he afraid of the public? If it is false, why has he written it? We read when we were boys the words of Cicero:
I consider it a lack of self-control to write anything which you intend to keep hidden. I ask, What is it of which they complain? Whence comes this heat, this madness of theirs? Is it because I have rejected a feigned laudation? Because I refused the praise offered in insincere words? Because under the name of a friend I detected the snares of an enemy? I am called in this Preface brother and colleague, yet my supposed crimes are set forth openly, and it is proclaimed that I have written in favour of Origen, and have by my praises exalted him to the skies. The writer says that he has done this with a good intention. How then does it come to pass that he now casts in my teeth, as an open enemy, what he then praised as a friend? He declared that he had meant to follow me as his predecessor in his translation, and to borrow an authority for his work from some poor works of mine. If that was so, it would have been sufficient for him to have stated once for all that I had written. Where was the necessity for him to repeat the same things, and to force them on men's notice by iteration, and to turn over the same words again and again, as if no one would believe in his praises? A praise which is simple and genuine does not show all this anxiety about its credit with the reader. How is it that he is afraid that, unless he produces my own words as witnesses, no one will believe him when he praises me? You see that we perfectly understand his arts; he has evidently been to the theatrical school, and has learned up by constant practice the part of the mocking encomiast. It is of no use to put on a veil of simplicity, when the schemer is detected in his malicious purpose. To have made a mistake once, or, to stretch the point, even twice, may be an unlucky chance; but how is it that he makes the supposed mistake with his eyes open, and repeats it, and weaves this mistake into the whole tissue of his writings so as to make it impossible for me to deny the things for which he praises me? A true friend who knew what he was about would, after our previous misunderstanding and our reconciliation, have avoided all appearance of suspicious conduct, and would have taken care not to do through inadvertence what might seem to be done advisedly. Tully says in his book of pleadings for Galinius:
I have always felt that it was a religious duty of the highest kind to preserve every friendship that I have formed; but most of all those in which kindness has been restored after some disagreement. In the case of friendships which have never been shaken, if some attention has not been paid, the excuse of forgetfulness, or at the worst of neglect is readily accepted; but after a return to friendship, if anything is done to cause offense, it is imputed not to neglect but to an unfriendly intention, it is no longer a question of thoughtlessness but of breach of faith. So Horace writes in his Epistle to Florus
Kindness, ill-knit, cleaves not but flies apart.
2. What good does it do me that he declares on his oath that it was through simplicity that he went wrong? His praises are, as you know, cast in my teeth, and the laudation of this most simple friend (which however has not much either of simplicity or of sincerity in it) is imputed to me as a crime. If he was seeking a foundation of authority for what he was doing, and wishing to show who had gone before him in this path he had at hand the Confessor Hilary, who translated the books of Origen upon Job and the Psalms consisting of forty thousand lines. He had Ambrose whose works are, almost all of them, full of what Origen has written; and the martyr Victorinus, who acts really with 'simplicity,' and without setting snares for others. As to all these he keeps silence; he does not notice those who are like pillars of the church; but me, who am but like a flea and a man of no account, he hunts out from corner to corner. Perhaps the same simplicity which made him unconscious that he was attacking his friend will make him swear that he knew nothing of these writers. But who will believe that he does not know these men whose memory is quite recent, even though they were Latins, being as he is such a very learned man, and one who has so great a knowledge of the old writers, especially the Greeks, that, in his zeal for foreign knowledge he has almost lost his own language? The truth is it is not so much that I have been praised by him as that those writers have not been attacked. But whether what he has written is praise (as he tries to make simpletons believe) or an attack, (as I feel it to be from the pain which his wounds give me), he has taken care that I should have none of my contemporaries to bring me honor by a partnership in praise, nor consolation by a partnership in vituperation.
3. I have in my hands your letter, in which you tell me that I have been accused, and expect me to reply to my accuser lest silence should be taken as an acknowledgment of his charges. I confess that I sent the reply; but, though I felt hurt, I observed the laws of friendship, and defended myself without accusing my accuser. I put it as if the objections which one friend had raised at Rome were being bruited about by many enemies in all parts of the world, so that every one should think that I was replying to the charges, not to the man. Will you tell me that another course was open to me, that I was bound by the law of friendship to keep silence under accusation, and, though I felt my face, so to say, covered with dirt and bespattered with the filth of heresy, not even to wash it with simple water, for fear that an act of injustice might be imputed to him. This demand is not such as any man ought to make or such as any man ought to accept. You openly assail your friend, and set out charges against him under the mask of an admirer; and he is not even to be allowed to prove himself a catholic, or to reply that the supposed heresy on which this laudation is grounded arises not from any agreement with a heresy, but from admiration of a great genius. He thought it desirable to translate this book into Latin; or, as he prefers to have it thought he was compelled, though unwilling, to do it. But what need was there for him to bring me into the question, when I was in retirement, and separated from him by vast intervals of land and sea? Why need he expose me to the ill-will of the multitude, and do more harm to me by his praise than good to himself by putting me forward as his example? Now also, since I have repudiated his praise, and, by erasing what he had written, have shown that I am not what my friend declared, I am told that he is in a fury, and has composed three books against me full of graceful Attic raillery, making those very things the object of attack which he had praised before, and turning into a ground of accusation against me the impious doctrines of Origen; although in that Preface in which he so lauded me, he says of me:
I shall follow the rules of translation laid down by my predecessors, and particularly those acted on by the writer whom I have just mentioned. He has rendered into Latin more than seventy of Origen's homiletical treatises, and a few also of his commentaries on the Apostle; and in these, wherever the Greek text presents a stumbling block, he has smoothed it down in his version and has so emended the language used that a Latin writer can find no word that is at variance with our faith. In his steps, therefore, I propose to walk, if not displaying the same vigorous eloquence, at least observing the same rules.
4. These words are his own, he cannot deny them. The very elegance of the style and the laboured mode of speech, and, surpassing all these, the Christian 'simplicity' which here appears, reveal the character of their author. But there is a different phase of the matter: Eusebius, it seems, has depraved these books; and now my friend who accuses Origen, and who is so careful of my reputation, declares that both Eusebius and I have gone wrong together, and then that we have held correct opinions together, and that in one and the same work. But he cannot now be my enemy and call me a heretic, when a moment before he has said that his belief was not dissonant from mine. Then, I must ask him what is the meaning of his balanced and doubtful way of speaking:
The Latin reader, he says,
will find nothing here discordant from our faith. What faith is this which he calls his? Is it the faith by which the Roman Church is distinguished? Or is it the faith which is contained in the works of Origen? If he answers
the Roman, then we are the Catholics, since we have adopted none of Origen's errors in our translations. But if Origen's blasphemy is his faith, then, though he tries to fix on me the charge of inconsistency, he proves himself to be a heretic. If the man who praises me is orthodox, he takes me, by his own confession as a sharer in his orthodoxy. If he is heterodox, he shows that he had praised me before my explanation because he thought me a sharer in his error. However, it will be time enough to reply to these books of his which whisper in corners and made their venomous attacks in secret, when they are published and come out from their dark places into the light, and when they have been able to reach me either through the zeal of my friends or the imprudence of my adversaries. We need not be much afraid of attacks which their author fears to publish and allows only his confederates to read. Then and not till then will I either acknowledge the justice of his charges, or refute them, or retort upon the accuser the accusations he has made: and will show that my silence has been the result not of a bad conscience but of forbearance.
5. In the meantime, I desired to free myself from suspicion in the implicit judgment of the reader, and to refute the gravest of the charges in the eyes of my friends. I did not wish it to appear that I had been the first to strike, seeing that I have not, even when wounded, aimed a blow against my assailant, but have only sought to heal my own wound. I beg the reader to let the blame rest on him who struck the first blow, without respect of persons. He is not content with striking; but, as if he were dealing with a man whom he had reduced to silence and who would never speak again, he has written three elaborate books and has made out from my works a list of
Contradictions worthy of Marcion. Our minds are all on fire to know at once what his doctrine is and what is this madness of mine which we had not expected. Perhaps he has learned (though the time for it has been short) all that is necessary to make him my teacher, and a sudden flow of eloquence will reveal what no one imagined that he knew.
Grant it, O Father; mighty Jesus, grant.
Let him begin the engagement hand to hand.
Though he may brandish the spear of his accusations and hurl them against us with all his might, we trust in the Lord our Saviour that his truth will encompass us as with a shield, and we shall be able to sing with the Psalmist:
Their blows have become as the arrows of the little ones, and
6. His followers object to me, (and
Weary of work
They ply the arms of Ceres,)
that I have translated into the Latin tongue the books of Origen Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν, which are pernicious and repugnant to the faith of the Church. My answer to them is brief and succinct: Your letters, my brother Pammachius, and those of your friends, have compelled me. You declared that these books had been falsely translated by another, and that not a few things had been interpolated or added or altered. And, lest your letters should fail to carry conviction, you sent a copy of this translation, together with the Preface in which I was praised. As soon as I had run my eye over these documents, I at once noticed that the impious doctrine enunciated by Origen about the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, to which the ears of Romans could not bear to listen, had been changed by the translator so as to give a more orthodox meaning. His other doctrines, on the fall of the angels, the lapse of human souls, his prevarications about the resurrection, his ideas about the world, or rather Epicurus's middle-spaces, on the restitution of all to a state of equality, and others much worse than these, which it would take too long to recount, I found that he had either translated as they stood in the Greek, or had stated them in a stronger and exaggerated manner in words taken from the books of Didymus, who is the most open champion of Origen. The effect of all this is that the reader, finding that the book expressed the catholic doctrine on the Trinity, would take in these heretical views without warning.
7. One who was not his friend would probably say to him: Either change everything which is bad, or else make known everything which you think thoroughly good. If for the sake of simple Christians you cut out everything which is pernicious, and do not choose to put into a foreign language the things that you say have been added by heretics; tell us everything which is pernicious. But, if you mean to make a veracious and faithful translation, why do you change some things and leave others untouched? You make an open profession in the prologue that you have amended what is bad and have left all that is best: and therefore, if anything in the work is proved to be heretical, you cannot enjoy the license given to a translator but must accept the authority of a writer: and you will be openly convicted of the criminal intent of besmearing with honey the poisoned cup so that the sweetness which meets the sense may hide the deadly venom. These things, and things much harder than these, an enemy would say; and he would draw you before the tribunal of the church, not as the translator of a bad work but as one who assents to its doctrines. But I am satisfied with having simply defended myself. I expressed in Latin just what I found in the Greek text of the books Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν, not wishing the reader to believe what was in my translation, but wishing him not to believe what was in yours. I looked for a double advantage as the result of my work, first to unveil the heresy of the author and secondly to convict the untrustworthiness of the translator. And, that no one might think that I assented to the doctrine which I had translated, I asserted in the Preface how I had been compelled to make this version and pointed out what the reader ought not to believe. The first translation makes for the glory of the author, the second for his shame. The one summons the reader to believe its doctrines, the other moves him to disbelieve them. In that I am claimed against my will as praising the author; in this I not only do not praise him, but am compelled to accuse the man who does praise him. The same task has been accomplished by each, but with a different intention: the same journey has had two different issues. Our friend has taken away words which existed, alleging that the books had been depraved by heretics: and he has put in those which did not exist, alleging that the assertions had been made by the author in other places; but of this he will never convince us unless he can point out the actual places whence he says that he has taken them. My endeavour was to change nothing from what was actually there; for my object in translating the work was to expose the false doctrines which I translated. Do you look upon me as merely a translator? I was more. I turned informer. I informed against a heretic, to clear the church of heresy. The reasons which led me formerly to praise Origen in certain particulars are set forth in the treatise prefixed to this work. The sole cause which led to my translation is now before the reader. No one has a right to charge me with the author's impiety, for I did it with a pious intention, that of betraying the impiety which had been commended as piety to the churches.
8. I had given Latin versions, as my friend tauntingly says, of seventy books of Origen, and of some parts of his Tomes, but no question was ever raised about my work; no commotion was felt on the subject in Rome. What need was there to commit to the ears of the Latins what Greece denounces and the whole world blames? I, though translating many of Origen's work in the course of many years, never created a scandal: but you, though unknown before, have by your first and only work become notorious for your rash proceeding. Your Preface tells us that you have also translated the work of Pamphilus the martyr in defense of Origen; and you strive with all your might to prevent the church from condemning a man whose faith the martyr attests. The real fact is that Eusebius Bishop of Cæsarea, as I have already said before, who was in his day the standard bearer of the Arian faction, wrote a large and elaborate work in six books in defense of Origen, showing by many testimonies that Origen was in his sense a catholic, that is, in our sense, an Arian. The first of these six books you have translated and assigned it to the martyr. I must not wonder, therefore, that you wish to make me, a small man and of no account, appear as an admirer of Origen, when you bring the same calumny against the martyr. You change a few statements about the Son of God and the holy Spirit, which you knew would offend the Romans, and let the rest go unchanged from beginning to end; you did, in fact, in the case of this Apology of Pamphilus as you call it, just what you did in the translation of Origen's Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν . If that book is Pamphilus's, which of the six books is Eusebius's first? In the very volume which you pretend to be Pamphilus's, mention is made of the later books. Also, in the second and following books, Eusebius says that he had said such and such things in the first book and excuses himself for repeating them. If the whole work is Pamphilus's, why do you not translate the remaining books? If it is the work of the other, why do you change the name? You cannot answer; but the facts make answer of themselves: You thought that men would believe the martyr, though they would have turned in abhorrence from the chief of the Arians.
9. Am I to say plainly what your intention was, my most simple-minded friend? Do you think that we can believe that you unwittingly gave the name of the martyr to the book of a man who was a heretic, and thus made the ignorant, through their trust in Christ's witness, become the defenders of Origen? Considering the erudition for which you are renowned, for which you are praised throughout the West as an illustrious litterateur, so that the men of your party all speak of you as their Coryphæus, I will not suppose that you are ignorant of Eusebius' Catalogue, which states the fact that the martyr Pamphilus never wrote a single book. Eusebius himself, the lover and companion of Pamphilus, and the herald of his praises, wrote three books in elegant language containing the life of Pamphilus. In these he extols other traits of his character with extraordinary encomiums, and praises to the sky his humility; but on his literary interests he writes as follows in the third book:
What lover of books was there who did not find a friend in Pamphilus? If he knew of any of them being in want of the necessaries of life, he helped them to the full extent of his power. He would not only lend them copies of the Holy Scriptures to read, but would give them most readily, and that not only to men, but to women also if he saw that they were given to reading. He therefore kept a store of manuscripts, so that he might be able to give them to those who wished for them whenever occasion demanded. He himself however, wrote nothing whatever of his own, except private letters which he sent to his friends, so humble was his estimate of himself. But the treatises of the old writers he studied with the greatest diligence, and was constantly occupied in meditation upon them.
10. The champion of Origen, you see, the encomiast of Pamphilus, declares that Pamphilus wrote nothing whatever, that he composed no single treatise of his own. And you cannot take refuge in the hypothesis that Pamphilus wrote this book after Eusebius's publication, since Eusebius wrote after Pamphilus had attained the crown of martyrdom. What then can you now do? The consciences of a great many persons have been wounded by the book which you have published under the name of the martyr; they give no heed to the authority of the bishops who condemn Origen, since they think that a martyr has praised him. Of what use are the letters of the bishop Theophilus or of the pope Anastasius, who follow out the heretic in every part of the world, when your book passing under the name of Pamphilus is there to oppose their letters, and the testimony of the martyr can be set against the authority of the Bishops? I think you had better do with this mistitled volume what you did with the books Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν . Take my advice as a friend, and do not be distrustful of the power of your art; say either that you never wrote it, or else that it has been depraved by the presbyter Eusebius. It will be impossible to prove against you that the book was translated by you. Your handwriting is not forthcoming to show it; your eloquence is not so great as that no one can imitate your style. Or, in the last resort, if the matter comes to the proof, and your effrontery is overborne by the multitude of testimonies, sing a palinode after the manner of Stesichnus. It is better that you should repent of what you have done than that a martyr should remain under calumny, and those who have been deceived under error. And you need not feel ashamed of changing your opinion; you are not of such fame or authority as to feel disgraced by the confession of an error. Take me for your example, whom you love so much, and without whom you can neither live nor die, and say what I said when you had praised me and I defended myself.
11. Eusebius the Bishop of Cæsarea, of whom I have made mention above, in the sixth book of his Apology for Origen makes the same complaint against Methodius the bishop and martyr, which you make against me in your praises of me. He says: How could Methodius dare to write now against Origen, after having said this thing and that of his doctrines? This is not the place in which to speak of the martyr; one cannot discuss every thing in all places alike. Let it suffice for the present to mention that one who was an Arian complains of the same things in a most eminent and eloquent man, and a martyr, which you first make a subject of praise as a friend and afterwards, when offended turn into an accusation. I have given you an opportunity of constructing a calumny against me if you choose, in the present passage.
How is it, you may ask,
that I now depreciate Eusebius, after having in other places praised him? The name Eusebius indeed is different from Origen; but the ground of complaint is in both cases identical. I praised Eusebius for his Ecclesiastical History, for his Chronicle, for his description of the holy land; and these works of his I gave to the men of the same language as myself by translating them into Latin. Am I to be called an Arian because Eusebius, the author of those books, is an Arian? If you should dare to call me a heretic, call to mind your Preface to the Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν, in which you bear me witness that I am of the same faith with yourself: and I at the same time entreat you to hear patiently the expostulation of one who was formerly your friend. You enter into a warm dispute with others, and bandy mutual reproaches with men of your own order; whether you are right or wrong in this is for you to say. But as against a brother even a true accusation is repugnant to me. I do not say this to blame others; I only say that I would not myself do it. We are separated from one another by a vast interval of space. What sin had I committed against you? What is my offense? Is it that I answered that I was not an Origenist? Are you to be held to be accused because I defend myself? If you say you are not an Origenist and have never been one, I believe your solemn affirmation of this: if you once were one, I accept your repentance. Why do you complain if I am what you say that you are? Or is my offense this that I dared to translate the Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν after you had done it, and that my translation is supposed to detract from your work? But what was I to do? Your laudation of me, or accusation against me, was sent to me. Your 'praise' was so strong and so long that, if I had acquiesced in it, every one would have thought me a heretic. Look at what is said in the end of the letter which I received from Rome:
Clear yourself from the suspicions which men have imbibed against you, and convict your accuser of speaking falsely; for if you leave him unnoticed, you will be held to assent to his charges. When I was pressed by such conditions, I determined to translate these books, and I ask your attention to the answer which I made. It was this:
This is the position which my friends have made for me, (observe that I did not say 'my friend,' for fear of seeming to aim at you); if I keep silence I am to be accounted guilty: if I answer, I am accounted an enemy. Both these conditions are hard; but of the two I will choose the easier: for a quarrel can be healed, but blasphemy admits of no forgiveness. You observe that I felt this as a burden laid upon me; that I was unwilling and recalcitrating; that I could only quiet my presentiment of the quarrel which would ensue from this undertaking by the plea of necessity. If you had translated the books Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν without alluding to me, you would have a right to complain that I had afterwards translated them to your prejudice. But now you have no right to complain, since my work was only an answer to the attack you had made on me under the guise of praise; for what you call praise all understand as accusation. Let it be understood between us that you accused me, and then you will not be indignant at my having replied. But now suppose that you wrote with a good intention, that you were not merely innocent but a most faithful friend, out of whose mouth no untruth ever proceeded, and that it was quite unconsciously that you wounded me. What is that to me who felt the wound? Am I not to take remedies for my wound because you inflicted it without evil intention? I am stricken down and stricken through, with a wound in the breast which will not be appeased; my limbs which were white before are stained with gore; and you say to me:
Pray leave your wound untouched, for fear that I may be thought to have wounded you. And yet the translation in question is a reproof to Origen rather than to you. You altered for the better the passages which you considered to have been put in by the heretics. I brought to light what the whole Greek world with one voice attributes to him. Which of our two views is the truer it is not for me nor for you to judge; let each of them be touched by the censor's rod of the reader. The whole of that letter in which I make answer for myself is directed against the heretics and against my accusers. How does it touch you who profess to be both an orthodox person and my admirer, if I am a little too sharp upon heretics, and expose their tricks before the public? You should rejoice in my invectives: otherwise, if you are vexed at them, you may be thought to be yourself a heretic. When anything is written against some particular vice, but without the mention of any name, if a man grows angry he accuses himself. It would have been the part of a wise man, even if he felt hurt, to dissemble his consciousness of wrong, and by the serenity of his countenance to dissipate the cloud that lay upon his heart.
12. Otherwise, if everything which goes against Origen and his followers is supposed to be said by me against you, we must suppose that the letters of the popes Theophilus and Epiphanius and the rest of the bishops which at their desire I lately translated are meant to attack you and tear you to pieces; we must suppose too that the rescripts of the Emperors which order that the Origenists should be banished from Alexandria and from Egypt have been written at my dictation. The abhorrence shown by the Pontiff of the city of Rome against these men was nothing but a scheme of mine. The outburst of hatred which immediately after your translation blazed up through the whole world against Origen who before had been read without prejudice was the work of my pen. If I have got all this power, I wonder that you are not afraid of me. But I really acted with extreme moderation. In my public letter I took every precaution to prevent your supposing that anything in it was directed against you; but I wrote at the same time a short letter to you, expostulating with you on the subject of your 'praises.' This letter my friends did not think it right to send you, because you were not at Rome, and because, as they tell me, you and your companions were scattering accusations of things unworthy of the Christian profession about my manner of life. But I have subjoined a copy of it to this book, so that you may understand what pain you gave me and with what brotherly self-restraint I bore it.
13. I am told, further, that you touch with some critical sharpness upon some points of my letter, and, with the well-known wrinkles rising on your forehead and your eyebrows knitted, make sport of me with a wit worthy of Plautus, for having said that I had a Jew named Barabbas for my teacher. I do not wonder at your writing Barabbas for Baranina, the letters of the names being somewhat similar, when you allow yourself such a license in changing the names themselves, as to turn Eusebius into Pamphilus, and a heretic into a martyr. One must be cautious of such a man as you, and give you a wide berth; otherwise I may find my own name turned in a trice, and without my knowing it, from Jerome to Sardanapalus. Listen, then, O pillar of wisdom, and type of Catonian severity. I never spoke of him as my master; I merely wished to illustrate my method of studying the Holy Scriptures by saying that I had read Origen just in the same way as I had taken lessons from this Jew. Did I do you an injury because I attended the lectures of Apollinarius and Didymus rather than yours? Was there anything to prevent my naming in my letter that most eloquent man Gregory? Which of all the Latins is his equal? I may well glory and exult in him. But I only mentioned those who were subject to censure, so as to show that I only read Origen as I had listened to them, that is, not on account of his soundness in the faith but on account of the excellence of his learning. Origen himself, and Clement and Eusebius, and many others, when they are discussing scriptural points, and wish to have Jewish authority for what they say, write:
A Hebrew stated this to me, or
I heard from a Hebrew, or,
That is the opinion of the Hebrews. Origen certainly speaks of the Patriarch Huillus who was his contemporary, and in the conclusion of his thirtieth Tome on Isaiah (that in the end of which he explains the words
Woe to Ariel which David took by storm) uses his exposition of the words, and confesses that he had adopted through his teaching a truer opinion than that which he had previously held. He also takes as written by Moses not only the eighty-ninth Psalm which is entitled
14. It is said that on a recent occasion where the letters of Theophilus exposing the errors of Origen were read, our friend stopped his ears, and along with all present pronounced a distinct condemnation upon the author of so much evil; and that he said that up to that moment he had never known that Origen had written anything so wrong. I say nothing against this: I do not make the observation which perhaps another might make, that it was impossible for him to be ignorant of that which he had himself translated, and an apology for which by a heretic he had published under the name of a martyr, whose defense also he had undertaken in his own book; as to which I shall have some adverse remarks to make later on if I have time to write them. I only make one observation which does not admit of contradiction. If it is possible that he should have misunderstood what he translated, why is it not possible that I should have been ignorant of the book Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν which I had not before read, and that I should have only read those Homilies which I translated, and in which he himself testifies that there is nothing wrong? But if, contrary to his expressed opinion, he now finds fault with me for those things for which he before had given me praise, he will be in a strait between two; either he praised me, believing me to be a heretic but confessing that he shared my opinion; or else, if he praised me before as orthodox, his present accusations come to nothing, and are due to sheer malice. But perhaps it was only as my friend that he formerly was silent about my errors, and now that he is angry with me brings to light what he had concealed.
15. This abandonment of friendship gives no claim to my confidence; and open enmity brings with it the suspicion of falsehood. Still I will be bold enough to go to meet him, and to ask what heretical doctrine I have expressed, so that I may either, like him, express my regret and swear that I never knew the bad doctrines of Origen, and that his infidelity has now for the first time been made known to me by the Pope Theophilus; or that I may at least prove that my opinions were sound and that he, as his habit is, had not understood them. It is impossible that in my Commentaries on the Ephesians which I hear he makes the ground of his accusation, I should have spoken both rightly and wrongly; that from the same fountain should have proceeded both sweet water and bitter; and that whereas throughout the work I condemned those who believe that souls have been created out of angels, I should suddenly have forgotten myself and have defended the opinion which I condemned before. He can hardly raise an objection to me on the score of folly, since he has proclaimed me in his works as a man of the highest culture and eloquence; otherwise such silly verbosity as he imputes is the part, one would think, of a pettifogger and a babbler rather than of an eloquent man. What is the point of his written accusations I do not know, for it is only report of them, not the writings, which has reached me; and, as the Apostle tells us it is a foolish thing to beat the air. However, I must answer in the uncertainty till the certainty reaches me: and I will begin by teaching my rival in my old age a lesson which I learned in youth, that there are many forms of speech, and that, according to the subject matter not only the sentences but the words also of writings vary.
16. For instance, Chrysippus and Antipater occupy themselves with thorny questions: Demosthenes and Æschines speak with the voice of thunder against each other; Lysias and Isocrates have an easy and pleasing style. There is a wonderful difference in these writers, though each of them is perfect in his own line. Again: read the book of Tully To Herennius; read his Rhetoricians; or, since he tells us that these books fell from his hands in a merely inchoate and unfinished condition, look through his three books On the orator, in which he introduces a discussion between Crassus and Antony, the most eloquent orators of that day; and a fourth book called The Orator which he wrote to Brutus when already an old man; and you will realize that History, Oratory, Dialogue, Epistolary writing, and Commentaries, have, each of them, their special style. We have to do now with Commentaries. In those which I wrote upon the Ephesians I only followed Origen and Didymus and Apollinarius, (whose doctrines are very different one from another) so far as was consistent with the sincerity of my faith: for what is the function of a Commentary? It is to interpret another man's words, to put into plain language what he has expressed obscurely. Consequently, it enumerates the opinions of many persons, and says, Some interpret the passage in this sense, some in that; the one try to support their opinion and understanding of it by such and such evidence or reasons: so that the wise reader, after reading these different explanations, and having many brought before his mind for acceptance or rejection, may judge which is the truest, and, like a good banker, may reject the money of spurious mintage. Is the commentator to be held responsible for all these different interpretations, and all these mutually contradicting opinions because he puts down the expositions given by many in the single work on which he is commenting? I suppose that when you were a boy you read the commentaries of Asper upon Virgil and Sallust, those of Vulcatius upon Cicero's Orations, of Victorinus upon his Dialogues and upon the Comedies of Terence, and also those of my master Donatus on Virgil, and of others on other writers such as Plautus, Lucretius, Flaccus, Persius and Lucan. Will you find fault with those who have commented on these writers because they have not held to a single explanation, but enumerate their own views and those of others on the same passage?
17. I say nothing of the Greeks, since you boast of your knowledge of them, even to the extent of saying that, in attaching yourself to foreign literature, you have forgotten your own language. I am afraid that, according to the old proverbs, I might be like the pig teaching Minerva, and the man carrying fagots into the wood. I only wonder that, being as you are the Aristarchus of our time, you should have shown ignorance of these matters which every boy knows. It is, no doubt, from your mind being fixed on the meaning of what you write, but partly also from your being so sharp-sighted for the manufacture of calumnies against me, that you despise the precepts of Grammarians and orators, that you make no attempt to set straight words which have got transposed when the sentence has become complicated, or to avoid some harsh collocation of consonants, or to escape from a style full of gaps. It would be ridiculous to point to one or two wounds when the whole body is enfeebled and broken. I will not select portions for criticism; it is for him to select any portion which is free from faults. He must have been ignorant even of the Socratic saying:
To steer the ship the untaught landsman fears;
Th' untrain'd attendant dares not give the sick
The drastic southernwood. The healing drug
The leech alone prescribes. Th' artificer
Alone the tools can wield. But poetry
Train'd or untrain'd we all at random write.
Possibly he will swear that he has never learned to read and write; I can easily believe that without an oath. Or perhaps he will take refuge in what the Apostle says of himself:
Though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge. But his reason for saying this is plain. He had been trained in Hebrew learning and brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, whom, though he had attained apostolic rank, he was not ashamed to call his master; and he thought Greek eloquence of no account, or at all events, in his humility, he would not parade his knowledge of it. So that 'his preaching should stand not in the persuasive wisdom of words but in the power of the things signified.' He despised other men's riches since he was rich in his own. Still it was not to an illiterate man who stumbled in every sentence that Festus cried, as he stood before his judgment seat:
Paul you are beside yourself; much learning does make you mad. You who can hardly do more than mutter in Latin, and who rather creep like a tortoise than walk, ought either to write in Greek, so that among those who are ignorant of Greek you may pass for one who knows a foreign tongue; or else, if you attempt to write Latin, you should first have a grammar-master, and flinch from the ferule, and begin again as an old scholar among children to learn the art of speaking. Even if a man is bursting with the wealth of Crœsus and Darius, letters will not follow the money-bag. They are the companions of toil and of labour, the associates of the fasting not of the full-fed, of self-mastery not of self-indulgence. It is told of Demosthenes that he consumed more oil than wine, and that no workman ever shortened his nights as he did. He for the sake of enunciating the single letter Rho was willing to take a dog as his teacher; and yet you make it a crime in me that I took a man to teach me the Hebrew letters. This is the sort of wisdom which makes men remain unlearned: they do not choose to learn what they do not know. They forget the words of Horace:
Why through false shame do I choose ignorance,
Rather than seek to learn?
That Book of Wisdom also which is read to us as the work of Solomon says:
Into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter, nor dwell in the body that is subject to sin. For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee deceit and remove from thoughts which are without understanding. The case is different with those who only wish to be read by the vulgar, and do not care how they may offend the ears of the learned; and they despise the utterance of the poet which brands the forwardness of noisy ignorance.
'Twas you, I think, whose ignorance in the streets
Murder'd the wretched strain with creaking reed.
If you want such things, there are plenty of curly-pated fellows in every school who will sing you snatches of doggrel from Miletus; or you may go to the exhibition of the Bessi and see people shaking with laughter at the Pig's Testament, or at any jesters' entertainment where silly things of this kind are run after. There is not a day but you may see the dressed-up clown in the streets whacking the buttocks of some blockhead, or half-pulling out people's teeth with the scorpion which he twists round for them to bite. We need not wonder if the books of know-nothings find plenty of readers.
18. Our friends take it amiss that I have spoken of the Origenists as confederated together by orgies of false oaths. I named the book in which I had found it written, that is, the sixth book of Origen's Miscellanies, in which he tries to adapt our Christian doctrine to the opinions of Plato. The words of Plato in the third book of the Republic are as follows:
Truth, said Socrates, is to be specially cultivated. If, however, as I was saying just now, falsehood is disgraceful and useless to God, to men it is sometimes useful, if only it is used as a stimulant or a medicine; for no one can doubt that some such latitude of statement must be allowed to physicians, though it must be taken out of the hands of those who are unskilled. That is quite true, it was replied; and if one admits that any person may do this, it must be the duty of the rulers of states at times to tell lies, either to baffle the enemy or to benefit their country and the citizens. On the other hand to those who do not know how to make a good use of falsehood, the practice should be altogether prohibited. Now take the words of Origen:
When we consider the precept 'Speak truth every man with his neighbour,' we need not ask, Who is my neighbour? But we should weigh well the cautious remarks of the philosopher. He says, that to God falsehood is shameful and useless, but to men it is occasionally useful. We must not suppose that God ever lies, even in the way of economy; only, if the good of the hearer requires it, he speaks in ambiguous language, and reveals what he wills in enigmas, taking care at once that the dignity of truth should be preserved and yet that what would be hurtful if produced nakedly before the crowd should be enveloped in a veil and thus disclosed. But a man on whom necessity imposes the responsibility of lying is bound to use very great care, and to use falsehood as he would a stimulant or a medicine, and strictly to preserve its measure, and not go beyond the bounds observed by Judith in her dealings with Holofernes, whom she overcame by the wisdom with which she dissembled her words. He should act like Esther who changed the purpose of Artaxerxes by having so long concealed the truth as to her race; and still more the patriarch Jacob who, as we read, obtained the blessing of his father by artifice and falsehood. From all this it is evident that if we speak falsely with any other object than that of obtaining by it some great good, we shall be judged as the enemies of him who said, I am the truth. This Origen wrote, and none of us can deny it. And he wrote it in the book which he addressed to the 'perfect,' his own disciples. His teaching is that the master may lie, but the disciple must not. The inference from this is that the man who is a good liar, and without hesitation sets before his brethren any fabrication which rises into his mouth, shows himself to be an excellent teacher.
19. I am told that he also carps at me for the translation I have given of a phrase in the Second Psalm. In the Latin it stands:
Learn discipline, in the Hebrew it is written Nescu Bar; and I have given it in my commentary, Adore the Son; and then, when I translated the whole Psalter into the Latin language, as if I had forgotten my previous explanation, I put
Worship purely. No one can deny, of course, that these interpretations are contrary to each other; and we must pardon him for being ignorant of the Hebrew writing when he is so often at a loss even in Latin. Nescu, translated literally, is Kiss. I wished not to give a distasteful rendering, and preferring to follow the sense, gave the word Worship; for those who worship are apt to kiss their hands and to bare their heads, as is to be seen in the case of Job who declares that he has never done either of these things, and says
If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and my heart rejoiced in secret and I kissed my hand with my mouth, which is a very great iniquity, and a lie to the most high God. The Hebrews, according to the peculiarity of their language use this word Kiss for adoration; and therefore I translated according to the use of those whose language I was dealing with. The word Bar, however in Hebrew has several meanings. It means Son, as in the words Barjona (son of a dove) Bartholomew (son of Tholomæus), Bartimæus, Barjesus, Barabbas. It also means Wheat, and A sheaf of grain, and Elect and Pure. What sin have I committed, then, when a word is thus uncertain in its meaning, if I have rendered it differently in different places? And if, after taking the sense
Worship the Son in my Commentary, where there is more freedom of discussion, I said
Worship purely or
electively in my version of the Bible itself, so that I should not be thought to translate capriciously or give grounds for cavil on the part of the Jews. This last rendering, moreover, is that of Aquila and Symmachus: and I cannot see that the faith of the church is injured by the reader being shown in how many different ways a verse is translated by the Jews.
20. Your Origen allows himself to treat of the transmigration of souls, to introduce the belief in an infinite number of worlds, to clothe rational creatures in one body after another, to say that Christ has often suffered, and will often suffer again, it being always profitable to undertake what has once been profitable. You also yourself assume such an authority as to turn a heretic into a martyr, and to invent a heretical falsification of the books of Origen. Why may not I then discuss about words, and in doing the work of a commentator teach the Latins what I learn from the Hebrews? If it were not a long process and one which savours of boasting, I should like even now to show you how much profit there is in waiting at the doors of great teachers, and in learning an art from a real artificer. If I could do this, you would see what a tangled forest of ambiguous names and words is presented by the Hebrew. It is this which gives such a field for various renderings: for, the sense being uncertain, each man takes the translation which seems to him the most consistent. Why should I take you to any outlandish writers? Go over Aristotle once more and Alexander the commentator on Aristotle; you will recognize from reading these what a plentiful crop of uncertainties exists; and you may then cease to find fault with your friend in reference to things which you have never had brought to your mind even in your dreams.
21. My brother Paulinian tells me that our friend has impugned certain things in my commentary on the Ephesians: some of these criticisms he committed to memory, and has indicated the actual passages impugned. I must not therefore refuse to meet his statements, and I beg the reader, if I am somewhat prolix in the statement and the refutation of his charges, to allow for the necessary conditions of the discussion. I am not accusing another but endeavouring to defend myself and to refute the false accusation of heresy which is thrown in my teeth. On the Epistle to the Ephesians Origen wrote three books. Didymus and Apollinarius also composed works of their own. These I partly translated, partly adapted; my method is described in the following passage of my prologue:
This also I wish to state in my Preface. Origen, you must know, wrote three books upon this Epistle, and I have partly followed him. Apollinarius also and Didymus published certain commentaries on it, from which I have culled some things, though but few; and, as seemed to me right, I put in or took out others; but I have done this in such a way that the careful reader may from the very first see how far the work is due to me, how far to others. Whatever fault there is detected in the exposition given of this Epistle, if I am unable to show that it exists in the Greek books from which I have stated it to have been translated into Latin, I will acknowledge that the fault is mine and not another's. However, that I should not be thought to be raising quibbles, and by this artifice of self-excuse to be escaping from boldly meeting him, I will set out the actual passages which are adduced as evidences of my fault.
He has chosen us before the foundation of the world.
22. To begin. In the first book I take the words of Paul:
As he has chosen us before the foundation of the world, that we might be holy and unspotted before him. This I have interpreted as referring not, according to Origen's opinion, to an election of those who had existed in a previous state, but to the foreknowledge of God; and I close the discussion with these words:
His assertion that we have been chosen before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blemish before him, that is, before God, belongs to the foreknowledge of God, to whom all things which are to be are already made, and are known before they come into being. Thus Paul was predestinated in the womb of his mother: and Jeremiah before his birth is sanctified, chosen, confirmed, and, as a type of Christ, sent as a prophet to the Gentiles.
There is no crime surely in this exposition of the passage. Origen explained it in a heterodox sense, but I followed that of the church. And, since it is the duty of a commentator to record the opinions expressed by many others, and I had promised in the Preface that I would do this, I set down Origen's interpretation, though without mentioning his name which excites ill will.
Another,I said, who wishes to vindicate the justice of God, and to show that he does not choose men according to a prejudgment and foreknowledge of his own but according to the deserts of the elect, thinks that before the visible creation of sky, earth, sea and all that is in them, there existed the invisible creation, part of which consisted of souls, which, for certain causes known to God alone, were cast down into this valley of tears, this scene of our affliction and our pilgrimage; and that it is to this that we may apply the Psalmist's prayer, he being in this low condition and longing to return to his former dwelling place:Woe is me that my sojourn is prolonged; I have inhabited the habitations of Kedar, my soul has had a long pilgrimage.And also the words of the Apostle:O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?andIt is better to return and to be with Christ;andBefore I was brought low, I sinned.He adds much more of the same kind.
Now observe that I said
Another who wishes to vindicate, I did not say
who succeeds in vindicating. But if you find a stumbling block in the fact that I condensed a very long discussion of Origen's into a brief statement so as to give the reader a glimpse of his meaning; if you declare me to be a secret adherent of his because I have not left out anything which he has said, I would ask you whether it was not necessary for me to do this, so as to avoid your cavils. Would you not otherwise have declared that I had kept silence on matters on which he had spoken boldly, and that in the Greek text his assertions were much stronger than I represented? I therefore put down all that I found in the Greek text, though in a shorter form, so that his disciples should have nothing which they could force upon the ears of the Latins as a new thing; for it is easier for us to make light of things which we know well than of things which take us unprepared. But after I had shown Origen's interpretations of the passage, I concluded this section with words to which I beg your attention:
The Apostle does not say 'He chose us before the foundation of the world because we were then holy and without blemish;' but 'He chose us that we might be holy and without blemish,' that is, that we who before were not holy and without blemish might afterwards become such. This expression will apply even to sinners who turn to better things; and thus the words remain true, 'In your sight shall no man living be justified,' that is, no one in his whole life, in the whole of the time that he has existed in the world. If the passage be thus understood, it makes against the opinion that before the foundation of the world certain souls were elected because of their holiness, and that they had none of the corruption of sinners. It is evident that Paul and those like him were not elected because they were holy and without blemish, but they were elected and predestinated so that in their after life, by means of their works and their virtues, they should become holy and without blemish.
Does any one dare, then, after this statement of my opinion, to accuse me of assent to the heresy of Origen? It is now almost eighteen years since I composed those books, at a time when the name of Origen was highly esteemed in the world, and when as yet his work the Περὶ ᾿Αρχῶν had not reached the ears of the Latins: and yet I distinctly stated my belief and pointed out what I did not agree with. Hence, even if my opponent could have pointed out anything heretical in other places, I should be held guilty only of the fault of carelessness, not of the perverse doctrines which both in this place and in my other works I have condemned.
Far above all rule and authority etc.
23. I will deal shortly with the second passage which my brother tells me has been marked for blame, because the complaint is exceedingly frivolous, and bears on its face its calumnious character. The passage is that in which Paul declares that God
made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come. After stating various expositions which have been given, I came to the offices of the ministers of God, and spoke of the principalities and powers, the virtues and dominions: and I add:
They must assuredly have others who are subject to them, who are under their power and serve them, and are fortified by their authority: and this distribution of offices will exist not only in the present world but in the world to come, so that each individual will rise or fall from one step of advancement and honour to another, some ascending and some descending, and will come successively under each of these powers, virtues, principalities, and dominions.
I then went on to describe the various divine offices and ministries after the similitude of the palace of an earthly king, which I fully described; and I added:
Can we suppose that God the Lord of lords and King of kings, is content with a single order of servants? We speak of an archangel because there are other angels of whom he is chief: and so there would be nothing said of Principalities, Powers and Dominions unless it were implied that there were others of inferior rank.
But, if he thinks that I became a follower of Origen because I mentioned in my exposition these advancements and honours, these ascents and descents, increasings and diminishings; I must point out that to say, as Origen does, that Angels and Cherubim and Seraphim are turned into demons and men, is a very different thing from saying that the Angels themselves have various offices allotted to them — a doctrine which is not repugnant to that of the church. Just as among men there are various degrees of dignity distinguished by the different kinds of work, as the bishop, the presbyter and the other Ecclesiastical grades have each their own order, while yet all are men; so we may believe that, while they all retain the dignity of Angels, there are various degrees of eminence among them, without imagining that angels are changed into men, and that men are new-made into angels.
That in the ages to come etc.
24. A third passage with which he finds fault is that in which I gave a threefold interpretation of the Apostle's words:
That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. The first was my own opinion, the second the opposite opinion held by Origen, the third the simple explanation given by Apollinarius. As to the fact that I did not give their names, I must ask for pardon on the ground that it was done through modesty. I did not wish to disparage men whom I was partly following. and whose opinions I was translating into the Latin tongue. But, I said, the diligent reader will at once search into these things and form his own opinion. And I repeated at the end: Another turns to a different sense the words 'That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace.'
Ah, you will say,
I see that in the character of the diligent reader you have unfolded the opinions of Origen. I confess that I was wrong. I ought to have said not The diligent but The blasphemous reader. If I had anticipated that you would adopt measures of this kind I might have done this, and so have avoided your calumnious speeches. It is, I suppose, a great crime to have called Origen a diligent reader, especially when I had translated seventy books of his and had praised him up to the sky — for doing which I had to defend myself in a short treatise two years ago in answer to your trumpeting of my praises. In those 'praises' which you gave me you laid it to my charge that I had spoken of Origen as a teacher of the churches, and now that you speak in the character of an enemy you think that I shall be afraid because you accuse me of calling him a diligent reader. Why, even shopkeepers who are particularly frugal, and slaves who are not wasteful, and the care-takers who made our childhood a burden to us and even thieves when they are particularly clever, we speak of as diligent; and so the conduct of the unjust steward in the Gospel is spoken of as wise. Moreover
The children of this world are wiser than the children of light, and
The serpent was wiser than all the beasts which the Lord had made on the earth.
Paul the prisoner of Jesus Christ.
25. The fourth ground of his censure is in the beginning of my Second Book, in which I expounded the statement which St. Paul makes
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles. The passage in itself is perfectly plain; and I give, therefore, only that part of the comment on it which lends itself to malevolent remark:
The words which describe Paul as the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles may be understood of his martyrdom, since it was when he was thrown into chains at Rome that he wrote this Epistle, at the same time with those to Philemon and the Colossians and the Philippians, as we have formerly shown. Certainly we might adopt another sense, namely, that, since we find this body in several places called the chain of the soul, in which it is held as in a close prison, Paul may speak of himself as confined in the chains of the body, and so that he could not return and be with Christ; and that thus he might perfectly fulfil his office of preaching to the Gentiles. Some commentators, however, introduce another idea, namely, that Paul, having been predestinated and consecrated from his mother's womb, and before he was born, to be a preacher to the Gentiles, afterwards took on the chains of the flesh.
Here also, as before, I gave a three fold exposition of the passage: in the first my own view, in the second the one supported by Origen, and the third the opinion of Apollinarius going contrary to his doctrine. Read over the Greek commentaries. If you do not find the fact to be as I state it, I will confess that I was wrong. What is my fault in this passage? The same, I presume, as that to which I made answer before, namely, that I did not name those whose views I quoted. But it was needless at each separate statement of the Apostle to give the names of the writers whose works I had declared in the Preface that I meant to translate. Besides, it is not an absurd way of understanding the passage, to say that the soul is bound in the body until Christ returns and, in the glory of the resurrection, changes our corruptible and mortal body for incorruption and immortality: for it is in this sense that the Apostle uses the expression,
O wretched man that I am; who shall deliver me from the body of this death? calling it the body of death because it is subject to vices and diseases, to disorders and to death; until it rises with Christ in glory, and, having been nothing but fragile clay before, becomes baked by the heat of the holy Spirit into a jar of solid consistency, thus changing its grade of glory, though not its nature.
The body fitly framed etc.
26. The fifth passage selected by him for blame is the most important, that in which I explain the statement of the Apostle.
From whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through every juncture of ministration, according to the working in due measure of every several part, makes the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love. Here I summed up in a short sentence Origen's exposition which is very long and goes over the same ideas in various words, yet so as to leave out none of his illustrations or his assertions. And when I had come to the end, I added:
And so in the restitution of all things, when Jesus Christ the true physician comes to restore to health the whole body of the Church, which now lies scattered and rent, every one will receive his proper place according to the measure of his faith and his recognition of the Son of God (the word 'recognize' implies that he had formerly known him and afterwards had ceased to know him), and shall then begin to be what he once had been; yet not in such a way as that, as held by another heresy, all should be placed in one rank, and, by a renovating process, all become angels; but that each member, according to its own measure and office shall become perfect: for instance, that the apostate angel shall begin to be that which he was by his creation, and that man who had been cast out of paradise shall be restored again to the cultivation of paradise;and so on.
According to another heresy.
27. I wonder that you with your consummate wisdom have not understood my method of exposition. When I say, 'But not in such a way that, as held by another heresy, all should be placed in one rank, that is, all by a reforming process become angels,' I clearly show that the things which I put forward for discussion are heretical, and that one heresy differs from the other. Which (do you ask?) are the two heresies? The one is that which says that all reasonable creatures will by a reforming process become angels; the other, that which asserts that in the restitution of the world each thing will become what it was originally created; as for instance that devils will again become angels, and that the souls of men will become such as they were originally formed; that is, by the reforming process will become not angels but that which God originally made them, so that the just and the sinners will be on an equality. Finally, to show you that it was not my own opinion which I was developing but two heresies which I was comparing with one another, both of which I had found stated in the Greek, I completed my discussion with this ending:
These things, as I have said before, are more obscure in our tongue because they are put in a metaphorical form in Greek; and in every metaphor, when a translation is made word for word from one language into another, the budding sense of the word is choked as it were with brambles.
If you do not find in the Greek the very thought which I have expressed, I give you leave to treat all that I say as my own.
Men loving their wives as their own bodies.
28. The sixth and last point which I am told that he brings against me (that is if my brother has not left anything unreported) is that, in the interpretation of the Apostle's words,
He that loves his wife loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ also the church, after my own simple explanation I propounded the question raised by Origen, speaking his views though without mentioning his name, and saying:
I may be met by the objection that the statement of the Apostle is not true when he says that no man hates his own flesh, since those who labour under the jaundice or consumption or cancer or abscesses, prefer death to life, and hate their own bodies;and my own opinion follows immediately:The words, therefore, may be more properly taken in a metaphorical sense.
When I say metaphorical, I mean to show that what is said is not actually the case, but that the truth is shadowed forth through a mist of allegory. However, I will set out the actual words which are found in Origen's third book: We may say that the soul loves that flesh which is to see the salvation of God, that it nourishes and cherishes it, and trains it by discipline and satisfies it with the bread of heaven, and gives it to drink of the blood of Christ: so that it may become well-liking through wholesome food, and may follow its husband freely, without being weighed down by any weakness. It is by a beautiful image that the soul is said to nourish and cherish the body as Christ nourishes and cherishes the church, since it was he who said to Jerusalem:
How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings and you would not;and that thus this corruptible may put on incorruption, and that being poised lightly, as upon wings, may rise more easily into the air. Let us men then cherish our wives, and let our souls cherish our bodies in a way as that wives may be turned into men and bodies into spirits, and that there may be no difference of sex, but that, as among the angels there is neither male nor female, so we, who are to be the Angels, may begin to be here what it is promised that we shall be in heaven.
29. The simple explanation of my own opinion in reference to the passage I stated before in these words:
Taking the simple sense of the words, we have a command, following on the precept of mutual kindness between man and wife, that we should nourish and cherish our wives: that is, that we should supply them with the food and clothing which are necessary.
This is my own understanding of the passage. Consequently, my words imply that all that follows after and might be brought up against me must be understood as spoken not as my own view but that of my opponents. But it might be thought that my resolution of the difficulty of the passage is too short and peremptory, and that it wraps the true sense, according to what has been said above, in the darkness of allegory, so as to bring it down from its true meaning to one less true. I will therefore come nearer to the matter, and ask what there is in the other interpretation with which you need disagree. It is this I suppose, that I said that souls should cherish their bodies as men cherish their wives, so that this corruptible may put on incorruption, and that, being lightly poised as upon wings, it may rise more easily into the air. When I say that this corruptible must put on incorruption, I do not change the nature of the body, but give it a higher rank in the scale of being. And so as regards what follows, that, being lightly poised as upon wings, it may more easily rise into the air: He who gets wings, that is, immortality, so that he may fly more lightly up to heaven, does not cease to be what he had been. But you may say, I am staggered by what follows:
Let us men then cherish our wives, and let our souls cherish our bodies, in such a way as that wives may be turned into men and bodies into spirits, and that there may be no difference of sex, but that, as among the angels there is neither male nor female, so we, who are to be like the angels, may begin to be on earth what it is promised that we shall be in heaven.
You might justly be staggered, if I had not, after what goes before, said
We may begin to be what it is promised that we shall be in heaven. When I say,
We shall begin to be on earth, I do not take away the difference of sex; I only take away lust, and sexual intercourse, as the Apostle does when he says,
The time is short; it remains therefore that those who have wives be as though they had none; and as the Lord implied when, in reply to the question of which of the seven brothers the woman would be the wife, he answered:
You err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God; for in the resurrection they shall neither marry nor be given in marriage: but they shall be as the angels of God. And, indeed, when chastity is observed between man and woman, it begins to be true that there is neither male nor female; but, though living in the body, they are being changed into angels, among whom there is neither male nor female. The same is said by the same Apostle in another place:
As many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
30. But now, since my pleading has steered its course out of these rough and broken places, and I have refuted the charge of heresy which had been urged against me by looking my accuser freely in the face, I will pass on to the other articles of charge with which he tries to assail me. The first is that I am a scurrilous person, a detractor of every one; that I am always snarling and biting at my predecessors. I ask him to name a single person whose reputation I have disparaged, or whom, according to an art practised by my opponent, I have galled by pretended praise. But, if I speak against ill-disposed persons, and wound with the point of my pen some Luscius Lanuvinus or an Asinius Pollio of the race of the Cornelii, if I repel the attacks of a man of boastful and curious spirit, and aim all my shafts at a single butt, why does he divide with others the wounds meant for him alone? And why is he so unwise as to show, by the irritation of his answer to my attack, his consciousness that it is he alone whom the cap fits?
He brings against me the charge of perjury and sacrilege together, because, in a book written for the instruction of one of Christ's virgins, I describe the promise which I once made when I dreamed that I was before the tribunal of the Judge, that I would never again pay attention to secular literature, and that nevertheless I have sometimes made mention of the learning which I then condemned. I think that I have here lighted on the man who, under the name of Sallustianus Calpurnius, and through the letter written to me by the orator Magnus, raised a not very great question. My answer on the general subject is contained in the short treatise which I then wrote to him. But at the present moment I must make answer as to the sacrilege and perjury of my dream. I said that I would thenceforward read no secular books: it was a promise for the future, not the abolition of my memory of the past. How, you may ask me, can you retain what you have been so long without reading? I must give my answer by recurring to one of these old books:
'Tis much to be inured in tender youth.
But by this mode of denial I criminate myself; for bringing Virgil as my witness I am accused by my own defender. I suppose I must weave a long web of words to prove what each man is conscious of. Which of us does not remember his infancy? I shall make you laugh though you are a man of such extreme gravity; and you will have at last to do as Crassus did, who, Lucilius tells us, laughed but once in his life, if I recount the memories of my childhood: how I ran about among the offices where the slaves worked; how I spent the holidays in play; or how I had to be dragged like a captive from my grandmother's lap to the lessons of my enraged Orbilius. You may still more be astonished if I say that, even now that my head is gray and bald, I often seem in my dreams to be standing, a curly youth, dressed in my toga, to declaim a controversial thesis before the master of rhetoric; and, when I wake, I congratulate myself on escaping the peril of making a speech. Believe me, our infancy brings back to us many things most accurately. If you had had a literary education, your mind would retain what it was originally imbued with as a wine cask retains its scent. The purple dye on the wool cannot be washed out with water. Even asses and other brutes know the inns they have stopped at before, however long the journey may have been. Are you astonished that I have not forgotten my Latin books when you learned Greek without a master? I learned the seven forms of Syllogisms in the Elements of logic; I learned the meaning of an Axiom, or as it might be called in Latin a Determination; I learned how every sentence must have in it a verb and a noun; how to heap up the steps of the Sorites, how to detect the clever turns of the Pseudomenos and the frauds of the stock sophisms. I can swear that I never read any of these things after I left school. I suppose that, to escape from having what I learned made into a crime, I must, according to the fables of the poets, go and drink of the river Lethe. I summon you, who accuse me for my scanty knowledge, and who think yourself a litérateur and a Rabbi, tell me how was it that you dared to write some of the things you have written, and to translate Gregory, that most eloquent man, with a splendour of eloquence like his own? Whence have you obtained that flow of words, that lucidity of statement, that variety of translations — you who in youth had hardly more than a first taste of rhetoric? I must be very much mistaken if you do not study Cicero in secret. I suspect that, being yourself so cultivated a person, you forbid me under penalties the reading of Cicero, so that you may be left alone among our church writers to boast of your flow of eloquence. I must say, however, that you seem rather to follow the philosophers, for your style is akin to that of the thorny sentences of Cleanthes and the contortions of Chrysippus, not from any art, for of that you say you are ignorant, but from the sympathy of genius. The Stoics claim Logic as their own, a science which you despise as a piece of fatuity; on this side, therefore, you are an Epicurean, and the principle of your eloquence is, not style but matter. For, indeed, what does it matter that no one else understands what you wish to say, when you write for your own friends alone, not for all? I must confess that I myself do not always understand what you write, and think that I am reading Heraclitus; however I do not complain, nor lament for my sluggishness; for the trouble of reading what you write is not more than the trouble you must have in writing it.
31. I might well reply as I have done even if it were a question of a promise made with full consciousness. But this is a new and shameless thing; he throws in my teeth a mere dream. How am I to answer? I have no time for thinking of anything outside my own sphere. I wish that I were not prevented from reading even the Holy Scriptures by the throngs that beset this place, and the gathering of Christians from all parts of the world. Still, when a man makes a dream into a crime, I can quote to him the words of the Prophets, who say that we are not to believe dreams; for even to dream of adultery does not condemn us to hell, and to dream of the crown of martyrdom does not raise us to heaven. Often I have seen myself in dreams dead and placed in the grave: often I have flown over the earth and been carried as if swimming through the air, over mountains and seas. My accuser might, therefore, demand that I should cease to live, or that I should have wings on my shoulders, because my mind has often been mocked in sleep by vague fancies of this kind. How many people are rich while asleep and wake to find themselves beggars! Or are drinking water to cool their thirst, and wake up with their throats parched and burning! You exact from me the fulfilment of a promise given in a dream. I will meet you with a truer and closer question: Have you done all that you promised in your baptism? Have you or I fulfilled all that the profession of a monk demands? I beg you, think whether you are not looking at the mote in my eye through the beam in your own. I say this against my will; it is by sorrow that my reluctant tongue is forced into words. As to you, it is not enough for you to make up charges about my waking deeds, but you must accuse me for my dreams. You have such an interest in my actions that you must discuss what I have said or done in my sleep. I will not dwell on the way in which, in your zeal to speak against me, you have besmirched your own profession, and have done all you can by word and deed for the dishonouring of the whole body of Christians. But I give you fair warning, and will repeat it again and again. You are attacking a creature who has horns: and, if it were not that I lay to heart the words of the Apostle
The evil speakers shall not inherit the kingdom of God, and
By hating one another you have been consumed one of another, I would make you feel what a vast discord you have stirred up after a slight and pretended reconciliation. What advantage is it to you to heap up slanders against me both among friends and strangers? Is it because I am not an Origenist, and do not believe that I sinned in heaven, that I am accused as a sinner upon earth? And was the result of our renewal of friendship to be, that I was not to speak against heretics for fear that my notice of them should be taken for an assault upon you? So long as I did not refuse to be belauded by you, you followed me as a master, you called me friend and brother, and acknowledged me as a catholic in every respect. But when I asked to be spared your praises, and judged myself unworthy to have such a great man for my trumpeter, you immediately ran your pen through what you had written, and began to abuse all that you had praised before, and to pour forth from the same mouth both sweet and bitter words. I wish you could understand what self-repression I am exerting in not suiting my words to the boiling heat of my breast; and how I pray, like the Psalmist:
Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to the words of malice; and, as he says elsewhere:
While the wicked stood before me I was dumb and was humbled and kept silence even from good words; and again:
I became as a man that hears not and in whose mouth are no reproofs. But for me the Lord the Avenger will reply, as he says through the Prophet:
Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord: and in another place:
You sat and spoke against your brother, and have slandered your mother's son. These things have you done, and I kept silence; you thought indeed by that I should be such an one as yourself; but I will reprove you, and set them before your eyes; so that you may see yourself brought in guilty of those things which you falsely lay to another's charge.
32. I am told, to take another point, that one of his followers, Chrysogonus, finds fault with me for having said that in baptism all sins are put away, and, in the case of the man who was twice married, that he had died and risen up a new man in Christ; and further that there were several such persons who were Bishops in the churches. I will make him a short answer. He and his friends have in their hands my letter, for which they take me to task. Let him give an answer to it, let him overthrow its reasoning by reasoning of his own, and prove my writings false by his writings. Why should he knit his brow and draw in and wrinkle up his nostrils, and weigh out his hollow words, and simulate among the common crowd a sanctity which his conduct belies? Let me proclaim my principles once more in his ears: That the old Adam dies completely in the laver of baptism, and a new man rises then with Christ; that the man that is earthly perishes and the man from heaven is raised up. I say this not because I myself have a special interest in this question, through the mercy of Christ; but that I made answer to my brethren when they asked me for my opinion, not intending to prescribe for others what they may think right to believe, nor to overturn their resolution by my opinion. For we who lie hidden in our cells do not covet the Bishop's office. We are not like some, who, despising all humility, are eager to buy the episcopate with gold; nor do we wish, with the minds of rebels, to suppress the Pontiff chosen by God; nor do we, by favouring heretics, show that we are heretics ourselves. As for money, we neither have it nor desire to have it.
Having food and clothing, we are therewith content; and meanwhile we constantly chant the words describing the man who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord:
He that puts not out his money to usury, nor takes reward against the innocent; he who does these things shall not be moved eternally. We may add that he who does the opposite to these will fall eternally.
Almost every sentence in this last chapter is an insidious allusion to Rufinus. His
wrinkled-up brow and
turned-up nose, his weighing out his words, his supposed wealth, are all alluded to in other places and especially in the satirical description of him given after his death in Jerome's letter (cxxv. c. 18) to Rusticus.
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/27101.htm>.
Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is feedback732 at newadvent.org. (To help fight spam, this address might change occasionally.) Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.