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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.: The difficulties of translation.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

16. I should have thought that this statement, I mean the words, ‘I have expressed nothing in my own words; I have only rep. 442 stored to Origen what was really Origen’s, though found in other part of his works,’ would of itself have been sufficient for my defence even before the most hostile judges. Have I thrust myself forward in any way? Have I ever led men to expect that I should put in anything of my own? Where can they find the words which they pretend that I have said, and on which they ground their calumnious accusations, namely, that I have removed what was bad and put good words instead, while I had translated literally all that is good? It is time, I think, that they should show some sense of shame, and should cease from false charges and from taking upon themselves the office of the devil who is the accuser of the brethren. Let them listen to the words ‘I have put in no words of my own.’ Let them listen to them again and hear them constantly reiterated, ‘I have put in no words of my own; I have only restored to Origen what was really Origen’s, though found in other parts of his works.’ And let them see how God’s mercy watched over me when I put my hand to this work; let them mark how I was led to forebode the very acts which they are doing. For my Preface continues thus:

‘I have given this statement in my Preface for fear that my detractors should think that they had found a fresh reason for accusing me.’

When I said a fresh charge I alluded to the charge which they had previously made against the reverend Bishop John for the letter written by him to the reverend Bishop Theophilus 2846 on the articles of faith: they pretended that when he spoke of the human body he meant something—I know not what—different from flesh. Therefore I spoke of a fresh charge. Take notice, then, I say, of the conduct of these perverse and contentious men.

‘I have undertaken this great labour, (which I have only done at your entreaty) not with a view of shutting the mouths of my calumniators, which indeed is impossible unless God himself should do it, but in order to give solid information to those, who are seeking to advance in knowledge.’

But, to show you that I foresaw and foretold that they would falsify what I was writing, observe what I said in the following passage:

‘Of this I solemnly warn every one who may read or copy out these books, in the sight of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and adjure him by our belief in the kingdom which is to come, by the assurance of the resurrection from the dead, and by that eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels,—I adjure him, as he would not have for his eternal portion that place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, where their worm dieth not and their fire is not quenched, that he should add nothing to this writing, take away nothing, insert nothing, and change nothing.’

Nevertheless, after I had warned them by all these dread and terrible forms of adjuration, these men have not been afraid to become falsifiers and corrupters of my work, though they profess to believe that the resurrection of the flesh is a reality of the future. Why, if they even believed the simple fact of the existence of God, they would never set their hands to acts so injurious and so impious. I ask, further, what line of my Preface can be pointed to in which I have, as my accuser says, praised Origen up to the skies, or in which I have called him, as he once did, an Apostle or a Prophet, or anything of the kind. I may ask indeed in what other matter they find any ground of accusation. I made at the outset a confession of my faith in terms which I think agree in all respects with the confession of the Church. I made a clear statement of my canons of translation, which indeed in most respects were taken from the model furnished by the very man who now comes forward as my accuser. I declared what was the purpose I set before me in making the translation. Whether I have proved capable of fulfilling the task more or less completely is, no doubt, a matter for the judgment of those who read the work, and who may be expected to praise it or to ridicule it, but not to make it a ground for accusation when it is a question of turning words from one language into another with more or less propriety.


Footnotes

442:2846

Of Alexandria. He was at first friendly to Origenism, afterwards bitterly opposed to it. John wrote to him complaining of the conduct of Epiphanius, and explaining his own views. See Jerome’s letter (lxxxii) to Theophilus, and his Treatise Against John of Jerusalem. In the latter of these charges occur like those here noticed by Rufinus.


Next: Explanation of Origen's words “The Son does not see the Father.”

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