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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:
Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome's Apology Against Rufinus.: Origin of men, angels, and heavenly bodies.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

39. You observe how much difference he makes between the souls of men and the angels. Merely the difference between the p. 456 one sheep and the others, between one drachma and the rest. But he adds something more, a little way further; he says:

“As to what the Apostle says, “That he might create in himself of two one new man, so making peace,” though it seems to be even more applicable than the former passage to the case of Jews and Gentiles, it may be adapted to our understanding of the passage in this way: We may suppose him to mean that man, who was made after the image and similitude of God, is after his reconciliation to receive the same form which the angels now have and he has lost: and he calls him a new man because he is renewed day by day, and is to dwell in the new world.”

The souls of men then, differ, according to him, from the angels as sheep from sheep or as drachma from drachma; and men will have that form hereafter which the angels now have, but which men once had and had lost. If then there is no difference between them in nature, in shape or in form, I wonder that our learned man is not ashamed to condemn another person for saying what he himself has said, and especially when you observe that this is an exposition not of the Vulgate rendering but of the real meaning of the Apostle. But see what is added further in the same place. He presently says:

“And the creation of the new man will be fully and completely perfected when things in heaven and things in earth shall be joined in one, and we have access to the Father in one spirit, in one feeling and mind. There is something similar suggested by Paul to all thoughtful readers in another Epistle (though some do not receive it as his), in these words: 2901 “All these, having had witness borne of their faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” For this reason the whole creation 2902 groans and travails with pain in sympathy with us who groan in this tabernacle, who have conceived in the womb by the fear of God, 2903 and are in grief and wait for the revelation of the sons of God; and it waits to be delivered from the vanity of the bondage to which it is now subject; so that there may be one shepherd and one flock, and that the petition in the Lord’s Prayer may be fulfilled, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.””

We are to understand then that things in heaven and those on earth, that is, Angels and men, formerly had one form and one sheepfold, and that so it will be in their future restoration, since Christ will come to make both into one flock, and men are to be what angels now are, and what they, that is their souls, previously were. I ask then, with what face you can mock, as we lately saw you, so pleasantly, or rather not pleasantly at all but scurrilously, at those poor women who, striking their bellies and thighs, said that they should not after the resurrection have those frail bodies but would be like the angels and have a life like theirs. You reprove with bitter raillery these poor women for saying the very things which are now produced as passages from these selected Commentaries of yours. Do not you think this is somewhat as if a man were to accuse another of theft, while he had the very thing that had been stolen concealed in the bosom of his toga; and as if, after inveighing against the supposed thief in a long and magnificent peroration, after bringing forward witnesses and taking the oath in due form, he should have the stolen article extracted from his toga which he supposed himself to have convicted another of stealing.

There is another point. You find fault with others because, when questions are asked them about such matters, they do not answer at once, but hesitate and use gestures rather than words. Yet you say that the Apostle does much the same, at least, that he ‘insinuates’ something of this kind in his Epistle to thoughtful men. If Paul does not plainly declare these things, but ‘insinuates’ them, and this not to everybody but only to thoughtful people, why do you, whom we are bringing to see your errors, laugh at us poor creatures when we say about things which the Apostle has not plainly declared either that we do not know, or that we stand in doubt, and that, since we do not get a full understanding but a hint of his meaning, we do not declare but suggest an explanation. If the things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man have been revealed to you; if you have attained to that which is perfect, and that which is in part is done away for you; shout aloud and proclaim the truth, and make quite plain the things which you say the Apostle ‘insinuates,’ since not only what he insinuates but what he asserts, as you tell us, now falls under your ban. All these things on which you now desire us to pronounce anathema are those which you had ascribed to the Apostle in your exposition of his words, and had taught as contained in the scope of his statements.



Heb. 11:39, 40


Rom. viii. 22


Qui a timore Dei in utero concepimus. The expression is meant to carry out the metaphor of the word συνωδινει“travaileth together.”

Next: The body as a prison.

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