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.: Jerome attacks one Christian writer after another.
25. You observe how he treats Ambrose. p. 471 First, he calls him a crow and says that he is black all over; then he calls him a jackdaw who decks himself in other birds showy feathers; and then he rends him with his foul abuse, and declares that there is nothing manly in a man whom God has singled out to be the glory of the churches of Christ, who has 2976 spoken of the testimonies of the Lord even in the sight of persecuting kings and has not been alarmed. The saintly Ambrose wrote his book on the Holy Spirit not in words only but with his own blood; for he offered his life-blood to his persecutors, and shed it within himself, although God preserved his life for future labours. Suppose that he did follow some of the Greek writers belonging to our Catholic body, and borrowed something from their writings, it should hardly have been the first thought in your mind, (still less the object of such zealous efforts as to make you set to work to translate the work of Didymus on the Holy Spirit,) to blaze abroad what you call his plagiarisms, which were very possibly the result of a literary necessity when he had to reply at once to some ravings of the heretics. Is this the fairness of a Christian? Is it thus that we are to observe the injunction of the Apostle, 2977 “Do nothing through faction or through vain glory”? But I might turn the tables on you and ask, 2978 Thou that sayest that a man should not steal, dost thou steal? I might quote a fact I have already mentioned, namely, that, a little before you wrote your commentary on Micah, you had been accused of plagiarizing from Origen. And you did not deny it, but said: “What they bring against me in violent abuse I accept as the highest praise; for I wish to imitate the man whom we and all who are wise admire.” Your plagiarisms redound to your highest praise; those of others make them crows and jackdaws in your estimation. If you act rightly in imitating Origen whom you call second only to the Apostles, why do you sharply attack another for following Didymus, whom nevertheless you point to by name as a Prophet and an apostolic man? For myself I must not complain, since you abuse us all alike. First you do not spare Ambrose, great and highly esteemed as he was; then the man of whom you write that he was second only to the Apostles, and that all the wise admire him, and whom you have praised up to the skies a thousand times over, not as you say in two, but in innumerable places, this man who was before an Apostle, you now turn round and make a heretic. Thirdly, this very Didymus whom you designate the Seer-Prophet, who has the eye of the bride in the Song of Songs, and whom you call according to the meaning of his name 2979 an Apostolic man, you now on the other hand criminate as a perverse teacher, and separate him off with what you call your censors rod, into the communion of heretics. I do not know whence you received this rod. I know that Christ once gave the keys to Peter: but what spirit it is who now dispenses these censors rods, it is for you to say. However, if you condemn all those I have mentioned with the same mouth with which you once praised them, I who in comparison of them am but like a flea, must not complain, I repeat, if now you tear me to pieces, though once you praised me, and in your Chronicle 2980 equalled me to Florentius and Bonosus for the nobleness, as you said, of my life.
Ps. cxix. 46471:2977
Phil. ii. 3471:2978
Rom. ii. 21471:2979
Sensuum nomine. Thomas the Apostle is called Didymus. John xi. 16471:2980
See the continuation by Jerome of the Chronicle of Eusebius (not included in this translation) a.d. 381 “Florentius, Bonosus and Rufinus became known as distinguished monks.”
Next: His treatment of Melania.
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