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.: I had praised Eusebius as well as Origen only as writers; and was forced to condemn them as heretics. Why should this be taken amiss?
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 3019 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 offence? 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 offence 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: 3020 “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: 3021 “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 p. 489 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 censors 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.
Jerome translated the Chronicle and the Description of the Holy Land, but not this History. This was done later by Rufinus.488:3020
Jerome Letter lxxxiii.488:3021
Letter lxxxiv. 12.
Next: I wrote a friendly letter to Rufinus, which my friends kept back.
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