Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.: Translations from Greek Writers.
II. Translations from Greek Writers.
1. The Rule of St. Basil, translated at Pinetum for the Abbat Urseius in 397 or 398. This was the first work written by Rufinus of which we have any knowledge.
2. The Apology of Pamphilus for Origen. This formed the 1st book of an Apology for Origens teaching in 6 books, which were composed by Eusebius and Pamphilus during the latters imprisonment at Cæsarea previous to his martyrdom. Eusebius speaks of this work in a general way (H. E. vi. 33) as written by himself and Pamphilus. The last book, however, was written by Eusebius alone after the death of Pamphilus. The part translated by Rufinus is only the 1st book, and this he believed to be by Pamphilus alone. Jerome in his Apology (487, 514) asserted that the whole was by Eusebius alone. But his bitter feeling led him astray in this. The Apology for Origen has perished with the exception of this 1st book which survives in Rufinus Translation. The Preface which he prefixed to the work, and the Epilogue which he subjoined to it under the name of “The book concerning the adulteration of the works of Origen” are given in our translation (420–427). This work was written at Pinetum near Terracina at the request of Macarius, to whom the Preface is addressed, in the end of 397 or the beginning of 398. For the questions relating to the authorship of the Apology the reader is referred to the Apologies of Jerome and Rufinus (esp. pp. 487, 514), to Lightfoots Article on Eusebius in the Dict. of Eccl. Biography, and the Prolegomena to the Translation of Eusebius in this Series, p. 36.
3. Origens Περὶ ᾽Αρχῶν. This translation was also made at the request of Macarius, and was finished as the Preface to B. iii. shows in the Lent of 398. The questions raised by this Translation are discussed in the Introductions to the Works of Jerome (Vol. vi of p. 412 this Series), and of Rufinus in this Volume; and the controversy itself is developed in their Apologies (434–540). The greater part of the Περὶ ᾽Αρχῶν is known to us only through this translation.
4. Origens Homilies. Those on the Books of Moses and of Joshua were translated at various times during the last 10 years of Rufinus life. He had intended, as he states in his Preface to the Book of Numbers, to translate all that had been written by Origen on the Pentateuch: he accomplished this as regards the first three books, and also as to the book of Joshua, at the request of Chromatius; the book of Numbers he only finished in Sicily, just before his death; and the Commentaries on Deuteronomy he did not live to translate. In these translations, as he tells us (567), he did not scruple to supply what he found to be omitted in the Greek, the Homilies being of a hortatory kind, whereas Rufinus object was an exposition of the text.
The Translation of the Homilies on Judges, though there is no Preface to it, is ascribed to Rufinus by Fontanini, who maintains that in this case, the name of Rufinus being discredited on account of Jeromes diatribe against him, the editors have suppressed the Preface, while in some other cases they have substituted the name of Jerome for that of Rufinus.
The Translation of Origens Commentary 36th, 37th and 38th Psalms is unquestionably by Rufinus; it is dedicated to Apronianus, and may have been written in Rome (Fontanini col. 188, beginning of ch. viii). The Preface is given by us in this volume. Fontanini also gives to Rufinus a Translation of Origens Homilies on I Kings and on Canticles. The books on Joshua and Judges he translated as he found them (567), but in the next he adopted a different method.
The works of Origen on the Ep. to the Romans were very long, and Rufinus did not scruple to condense them (reducing the 25 books of Origen to 10), as he clearly states in his Peroration (567). This work he addressed to Heraclius, and it was composed during his stay at Aquileia.
Rufinus had hoped, as we learn from the same Peroration (567), to translate some at least of the Commentaries of Origen upon the other Epistles of St. Paul; but he first determined to finish those upon the Pentateuch, a task in which, as we have seen, he was overtaken by death.
5. The Translation of 10 Tracts of St. Basil and 8 of Gregory Nazianzen. These are to be found in the works of Basil and Gregory, but without Prefaces; they are, however, mentioned by Rufinus himself in his Eccl. Hist. ii. 9, and in a letter to Apronianus quoted by Fontanini Vit. Ruf. II., viii, I. col. 189.
6. The Sentences of Xystus, which have been variously attributed to a philosopher who flourished in the reign of Augustus, and is quoted by Seneca, and to Xystus, or Sixtus, Bp. of Rome, who suffered martyrdom in 258. They are called the Annulus (᾽εγχειρίδιον) as inseparable from the hand. Rufinus speaks of them in his Preface, translated in this volume, as being traditionally ascribed to the Bishop; he does not pledge himself to this opinion, but does not deny it; and recent research has shown that, though they may have a basis in heathen philosophy, they are in their present form the writings of a Christian. Jerome, however, scoffs at Rufinus again and again, as either through ignorance or heterodoxy ascribing to a Christian Bishop and martyr the work of a Pythagorean (See Jerome ad Ctesiphontem (Ep. cxxxiii. c. 3), Comm. on Ezek. B. vi. ch. 8, on Jerem. B. iv. ch. 22. The whole matter is fully discussed in Dict. of Christian Biog. Art. Xystus.)
7. The Sentences of Evagrius Ponticus (or Iberita or Galatus) in three treatises, (1) to Virgins, (2) To Monks, (3) On the Passionless State. These are described with bitter depreciation as heretical works by Jerome (Ad Ctes. Ep. 133 c. 3. Pref. to Anti-Pelagian Dialogue and to B. iv. of Comm. on Jerem.) but approved by Gennadius (c. 9.) who issued an amended version of Rufinus translation. Rufinus translation is said to be in the Vatican library by Fontanini (Vita Rufini Lib. II. c. iv. in Mignes Patrologia Vol. 21 col. 205.)
8. The Recognitions of Clement supposed to have been written by Clement Bishop of Rome, but now known to be a work of 50 or 60 years later. The translation of it was asked for by Silvia sister of Rufinus the Prætorian Prefect, and was unsuccessfully attempted by Paulinus of Nola (see his letter to Rufinus in Fontanini as above, col. 208.) After the death of Silvia, Gaudentius Bp. of Brixia where she died as a saint, urged Rufinus to make the translation (Peror. to Ep. to Rom. 567) Preface of Rufinus.)
9. The translation of Eusebius Eccl. History in 9 books, a work much valued in p. 413 Gaul, and often reprinted in later times. The Preface (Mignes Rufinus col. 461) is addressed to Chromatius, and says that it was demanded by him at the time of Alarics invasion of Italy (a.d. 400) as an antidote to the unsettlement of mens minds. Rufinus speaks humbly of himself as having little practice in Latin writing. He says that he has compressed the 10th book which contained little of real history, and added what remained of it to Book 9. See Prolegomena to Eusebius in this Series Vol. i. p. 54.
It is a curious and important fact that all the translations known to have been made by Rufinus have survived. This is due no doubt to their being the only translations extant in the Middle Ages of great writers like Origen and Basil, and to the impossibility of procuring others. The uncritical spirit of the time may have been favourable to them. Had they been recognized as the works of Rufinus, they might have been destroyed; but it was possible, even after the revival of learning, to attribute many of them to Jerome.
Gennadius mentions a series of Rufinus letters, which have not survived, amongst which were several of special importance addressed to Proba, a lady who is highly commended by Jerome in his letter to Demetrias. 2771 Jerome also mentions (537) some translations of Rufinus from Latin into Greek, but his allusion is somewhat vague; and some translations from the LXX (536). A translation of Josephus, and a Commentary on the first 75 Psalms, and on Hosea, Joel and Amos, a Life of St. Eugenia and a Book on the Faith have been attributed to Rufinus but are believed not to be his. These, with the exception of the translation of Josephus, are given by Vallarsi in his edition of Rufinus. Besides these, translations of Origens Seven Homilies on Matthew and one on John, and of his treatises on Mary Magdalen and on Christs Epiphany have at times been attributed to Rufinus.
We do not propose to go minutely into the Bibliography of Rufinus Works. Some of them were among the earliest printed books. The Editio Princeps of the Commentary on the Creed bears date Oxford, 1468 but is commonly believed to be really of 1478; that of the Ecclesiastical History, Paris, 1474; that of the History of the Monks, undated, is believed to be of 1471; that of the Commentaries of Origen is of 1503 (Aldus Minutius); that of the Sayings of Xystus, of 1507, and of the Περὶ ᾽Αρχῶν is of 1514 (Venice). They continued to be reprinted up to 1580; but, with the exception of the Sayings of Xystus, no further editions were published till the edition of Vallarsi (Verona, 1745), and the Life by Fontanini (Rome, 1742). Since that date, though various editions and translations of the Expositions of the Creed have appeared, no attempt has been made to give the whole of Rufinus writings. Migne (Patrologia, Vol. xxi., Paris, 1849) is contented to reprint Vallarsi without alteration.
No complete edition of Rufinus Works, therefore, exists. The volume of Mignes Patrologia (21) contains the Life by Fontanini (Rome, 1742), the Notice by Schœnemann (Leipzig, 1792), and Vallarsis edition (Verona, 1745) of Rufinus chief works, viz. The Benedictions of the Patriarchs, the Commentary on the Creed, the Monastic History, the Ecclesiastical History, the Apology against Jerome, and the Apology addressed to Anastasius. Vallarsi had intended to edit the Translations from Greek writers, but did not accomplish this. The Prefaces to these translations, some of which are of great importance, have therefore to be sought by the student in the editions of the writers to whose works they are prefixed. They are collected and translated in this Volume for the first time.
We have in the present work not attempted to translate all the original works of Rufinus. We have omitted the Exposition of the Benedictions of the Twelve patriarchs, the Ecclesiastical History and the History of the Monks. The rest we have given. They include his Apologies, together with the Letter of Pope Anastasius about him to John of Jerusalem, the Prefaces to the Περὶ ᾽Αρχῶν and the Apology of Pamphilus, and the Epilogue to the latter work, called the Dissertation on the adulteration of the Works of Origen, together with the Prefaces which are still extant to his Translations of Origens Commentaries and his Peroration to Origen on Romans. We have also included his best known work, his Commentary on the Creed, a translation of which has kindly been placed at our service by Dr. Heurtley, Lady Margaret Professor of Theology at Oxford.
Letter cxxx, 7.
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