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.: Women turned into men and bodies into souls.
24. How, I ask, can you, seeing that your Commentaries contain such doctrines, put them forward to prove your soundness in the faith, and to confute those ideas which you reprove? How do your words tend to reprove those women whom we have spoken of? Besides, has any woman gone so far as to say what you write, namely, that women are to be turned into men and bodies into souls? If bodies are to be turned into spirits, then, according to you, there will be no resurrection not only of the flesh but even of the body, which you admit to be the doctrine even of those whom you have set down as heretics. Where are we to look any more for the body, if it is reduced to a spirit? In that case everything will be spirit, the body will be nowhere. And again, if the wives are to be turned into men, according to this suggestion of yours, that there is to be no difference of sex whatever, by which I suppose you mean that the female sex will entirely cease, being converted into the male, and the male sex will alone remain; I am not sure that you would have the permission of the women to speak here on behalf of their sex. But, even suppose that they grant you this, then with what consistency can you argue that the male sex is any longer necessary, when the female is shown not to be necessary? for there is a natural bond which unites the sexes in mutual dependence, so that, if one does not exist, there is no need of the other. And further, if it is man alone who is to receive at the resurrection the form of clay which was originally given in paradise, what becomes of that which is written, 2864 “He made them male and female, and blessed them”? And then, if, as both you yourself say, and also these poor women whom you arraign, there is neither man nor woman, how can bodies be turned into souls, or women into men, since Paradise does not allow the existence of either sex, nor does the likeness of angels, as you say, admit it? And I marvel how you can demand from others a strict opinion upon the continuance of the diversity of sex when you yourself, as soon as you begin to discuss it, find yourself involved in so many knotty questions that to evolve yourself out of them becomes impossible. How much more right would your action be if you were to imitate us whom you blame in such matters as these and allow God to be the only judge of them, as is indeed the truth. It would be far better for you to confess your ignorance of them than to write things which in a little while you have to condemn. I should like to ask my accuser whether he can conscientiously say that he would ever have found, I do not say in any, even the least, work of mine, but even in any familiar letter which I might have written carelessly to a friend, such p. 448 things as that bodies were to be turned into spirits and wives into men, were it not that he had put them forward as if he wished them to be inserted in brazen letters on the gates of cities, and recited in the forum, in the Senate house and in front of the rostra. If he had found any such thing in my writings, imagine how many heads of accusation he would have set down, how many volumes he would have compiled, how he would be assailing me with all the arms and shafts of that teeming breast of his; how he would have said: “I tell you that he is deceiving you by speaking of the resurrection of the body, for he denies the resurrection of the flesh; or even if he confesses the resurrection of the flesh he denies that of the members and the sex: but, if you do not believe me, behold and see the very words of his letter, in which he says that bodies are to be turned into souls and wives into men.” Yet, when you write this, we are not to call you a heretic, but are to give satisfaction to you as though you were our master. And as for those women whom you have attacked with your indecent reproaches, they will, when they stand before the judgment seat of Christ, bring forward what you have taught them in these Commentaries as well as the things which you have since written, with insults which show that you had forgotten yourself; and both the one and the other will be read out there, where the favour of men will have ceased, and the applause for which you pay by flattery will be silent, and they will be judged together with their author for these words and deeds of yours before Christ the righteous judge.
Gen. i. 27
Next: The foundation (καταβολή) of the world explained by Jerome as a casting down.
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