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.: His pretence that the Apology for Origen is not by Pamphilus needs no answer.
30. It seems needless to make any answer to that part of his indictment in which he says that the works of the Martyr Pamphilus, expressed as they are with so much faithfulp. 474 ness and piety, are either not to be considered genuine or if genuine, to be treated with contempt. Is there any one to whose authority he will bow? Is there any one whom he will refrain from abusing? All the old Greek writers of the church, according to him, have erred. As to the Latins, how he disparages them, how he attacks them one by one, both those of the old and those of modern times, any one who reads his various work knows well. Now even the Martyrs fail to gain any respect from him. “I do not believe,” he says “that this is really the work of the Martyr.” If such an argument were admitted in the case of the works of any writer, how can we prove their genuineness in any particular case? If I were to say, It is not true that books of Miscellanies are Origens as you maintain, how can they be proved to be his? His answer is, From their likeness to the rest. But, just as, when a man wants to forge some ones signature, he imitates his handwriting, so he who wishes to introduce his own thoughts under another mans name, is sure to imitate the style of him whose name he has assumed. But, to pass over for brevitys sake all that might with great justice be said on this point, if you were determined to be so bold as to question the works of the Martyr, you ought to have brought out publicly the actual statements which seemed to you liable to question, and then every reader could have seen what was absurd in them and what was reasonable, what was unsuitable to or against the system of the Apostles; and especially the great impiety, whatever it may have been, in expiation of which you tell us that the Martyr shed his blood. A man who read those actual words would be able to say, not, as now, on your judgment but on his own, either that the martyr had gone wrong, or that a treatise which was so full of absurdity and unbelief had been composed by some one else. But, as it is, you know well that if the writings which you impugn are read by any one, the blame will be turned back upon him who has unjustly found fault; and therefore you do not cite the passages which you impugn, but with that censors rod of yours, and by your own arrogant authority, you make your decrees in this style: “Let this book be cast out of the libraries, let that book be retained; and again, if today a book is accepted, tomorrow if any one but myself has praised it, let it be cast out, and with it the man who praised it. Let this one be counted as Catholic, even though he seems at times to have gone wrong; let that man have no pardon for his error, even though he has said the same things as myself, and let no man translate him nor read him, for fear he should recognize my plagiarisms. This man indeed was a heretic, but he was my master. And this other, though he is a Jew, and of the Synagogue of Satan, and is hired to sell words for gain, yet he is my master who must be preferred to all others, because it is among the Jews alone that the truth of the Scriptures dwells.” If the universal Church had with one voice conferred on you this authority, and had demanded of you that you should be the judge of each and all, would it not have been your duty to refuse to allow so heavy and perilous a burden to be laid upon you? But now we have made such progress in the daily habit of disparaging others that we no longer spare even the martyrs. But let us suppose that the work is not that of the martyr Pamphilus, but of some other unknown member of the church; did he, whoever he may have been, employ his own words, I ask, so that we are called upon to defer to the merits of the writer? No. He sets out quotations from the works of Origen himself, and exhibits his opinion upon each question not in the words of the apologist but in those of the accused himself; and, just as in the present treatise what I have quoted from your writings carried much more force than what I have said myself, so also the defence of Origen lies not in the authority of his apologist, but in his own words. The question of authorship is superfluous, when the defence is so conducted as to dispense with the authors aid.
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