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.: My translation put away ambiguities, and showed the real character of the book, and of the previous translation.
7. One who was not his friend would probably say to him: Either change everything which is bad, or else make known everything which you think thoroughly good. If for the sake of simple Christians you cut out everything which is pernicious, and do not choose to put into a foreign language the things that you say have been added by heretics; tell us everything which is pernicious. But, if you mean to make a veracious and faithful translation, why do you change some things and leave others untouched? You make an open profession in the prologue that you have amended what is bad and have left all that is best: and therefore, if anything in the work is proved to be heretical, you cannot enjoy the license given to a translator but must accept the authority of a writer: and you will be openly convicted of the criminal intent of besmearing with honey the poisoned cup so that the sweetness which meets the sense may hide the deadly venom. These things, and things much harder than these, an enemy would say; and he would draw you before the tribunal of the church, not as the translator of a bad work but as one who assents to its doctrines. But I am satisfied with having simply defended myself. I expressed in Latin just what I found in the Greek text of the books Περὶ ᾽Αρχῶν, not wishing the reader to believe what was in my translation, but wishing him not to believe what was in yours. I looked for a double advantage as the result of my work, first to unveil the heresy of the author and secondly to convict the untrustworthiness of the translator. And, that no one might think that I assented to the doctrine which I had translated, I asserted in the Preface how I had been compelled to make this version and pointed out what the reader ought not to believe. The first translation makes for the glory of the author, the second for his shame. The one summons the reader to believe its doctrines, the other moves him to disbelieve them. In that I am claimed against my will as praising the author; in this I not only do not praise him, but am compelled to accuse the man who does praise him. The same task has been accomplished by each, but with a different intention: the same journey has had two different issues. Our friend has taken away words which existed, alleging that the books had been depraved by heretics: and he has put in those which did not exist, alleging that the assertions had been made by the author in other places; but of this he will never convince us unless he can point out the actual places whence he says that he has taken them. My endeavour was to change nothing from what was actually there; for my object in translating the work was to expose the false doctrines which I translated. Do you look upon me as merely a translator? I was more. I turned informer. I informed against a heretic, to clear the church of heresy. The reasons which led me formerly to praise Origen in certain particulars are set forth in the treatise prefixed to this work. The sole cause which led to my translation is now before the reader. No one has a right to charge me with the authors impiety, for I did it with a pious intention, that of betraying the impiety which had been commended as piety to the churches.
Next: My translation of Origen's Commentaries created no excitement; his first translation, of Pamphilus' Apology, roused all Rome to indignation.
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