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.: The letter falsely circulated in Africa as mine, and expressing regret for my translation of the Old Test. from the Hebrew bears the mark of your hand. I have always honoured the Seventy Translators.
p. 515 24. My brother Eusebius writes to me that, when he was at a meeting of African bishops which had been called for certain ecclesiastical affairs, he found there a letter purporting to be written by me, in which I professed penitence and confessed that it was through the influence of the press in my youth that I had been led to turn the Scriptures into Latin from the Hebrew; in all of which there is not a word of truth. When I heard this, I was stupefied. But one witness was not enough; even Cato was not believed on his unsupported evidence: 3131 “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” Letters were soon brought me from many brethren in Rome asking about this very matter, whether the facts were as was stated: and they pointed in a way to make me weep to the person by whom the letter had been circulated among the people. He who dared to do this, what will he not dare to do? It is well that ill will has not a strength equal to its intentions. Innocence would be dead long ago if wickedness were always allied to power, and calumny could prevail in all that it seeks to accomplish. It was impossible for him, accomplished as he was, to copy any style and manner of writing, whatever their value may be; amidst all his tricks and his fraudulent assumption of another mans personality, it was evident who he was. It is this same man, then, who wrote this fictitious letter of retractation in my name, making out that my translation of the Hebrew books was bad, who, we now hear, accuses me of having translated the Holy Scriptures with a view to disparage the Septuagint. In any case, whether my translation is right or wrong, I am to be condemned: I must either confess that in my new work I was wrong, or else that by my new version I have aimed a blow at the old. I wonder that in this letter he did not make me out as guilty of homicide, or adultery or sacrilege or parricide or any of the vile things which the silent working of the mind can revolve within itself. Indeed I ought to be grateful to him for having imputed to me no more than one act of error or false dealing out of the whole forest of possible crimes. Am I likely to have said anything derogatory to the seventy translators, whose work I carefully purged from corruptions and gave to Latin readers many years ago, and daily expound it at our conventual gatherings; 3132 whose version of the Psalms has so long been the subject of my meditation and my song? Was I so foolish as to wish to forget in old age what I learned in youth? All my treatises have been woven out of statements warranted by their version. My commentaries on the twelve prophets are an explanation of their version as well as my own. How uncertain must the labours of men ever be! and how contrary at times to their own intentions are the results which mens studies reach. I thought that I deserved well of my countrymen the Latins by this version, and had given them an incitement to learning; for it is not despised even by the Greeks now that it is retranslated into their language; yet it is now made the subject of a charge against me; and I find that the food pressed upon them turns upon the stomach. What is there in human life that can be safe if innocence is made the object of accusation? I am the householder 3133 who finds that while he slept the enemy has sown tares among his wheat. 3134 “The wild boar out of the wood has rooted up my vineyard, and the strange wild beast has devoured it.” I keep silence, but a letter that is not mine speaks against me. I am ignorant of the crime laid against me, yet I am made to confess the crime all through the world. 3135 “Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man to be judged and condemned 3136 in the whole earth.”
Deut. xvii. 6515:3132
This translation has been almost wholly lost. The parts which remain are the Book of Job, the Psalms, and the Preface to the Books of Chronicles.515:3133
Matt. xiii. 25515:3134
Ps. lxxx. 13515:3135
Jer. xv. 10(LXX).515:3136
Or examined. The Vulgate agrees with A.V., A man of contention.
Next: In proof of this, I bring forward the prefaces to my Translation of the Books from Genesis to Isaiah.
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