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.: What Latin! The poor souls must be tormented by his barbarisms.
9. Before I enter upon the subject matter of this passage, I must stand in admiration of words worthy of Theophrastus:
“I am informed, he says, that some stir has been made on the question of the nature of the soul. Whether complaints on a matter of this kind ought to be entertained instead of being put aside, you must yourself decide.”
If these questions as to the origin of the soul have been stirred at Rome, what is the meaning of this complaint and murmuring on the question whether they ought to be entertained or not, a question which belongs entirely to the discretion of bishops? But perhaps he thinks that question and complaint mean the same thing, because he finds this form of speech in the Commentaries of Caper. Then he writes: “Some of those whom I have read hold that the soul is infused together with the material body through the channel of the human seed; and of these they give such proofs as they can.” What license have we here in the forms of speech! What mixing of the moods and tenses! 3104 “I have read some sayings—they confirmed them with what assertions they could.” And in what follows: “Others assert that God is every day making new souls and infusing them into the bodies which have been framed in the womb; while others again believe that the souls were all made long ago when God made all things of nothing, and that all that he now does is to send out each soul to be born in its body as seems good to him.” Here also we have a most beautiful arrangement. Some, he says, assert this and that; some declare that the souls were made long ago, that is, when God made all things of nothing, and that He now sends them forth to be born in their own body as it pleases him. He speaks so distastefully and so confusedly that I have more trouble in correcting his mistakes than he in writing them. At the end he says: “I, however, though I have read these things;” and, while the sentence still hangs unfinished, he adds, as if he had brought forward something fresh: “I, however, do not deny that I have both read each of these things, and as yet confess that I am ignorant.”
The words are translated literally here, so as to shew how they lend themselves to Jeromes strictures.
Next: It is not permitted to you to be ignorant of such a matter which all the churches know.
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