Writings of Rufinus

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Translated with Prolegomena and Notes, by The Hon. and Rev. William Henry Fremantle, M.A. Canon of Canterbury, Fellow and Tutor of Baliol College, Oxford.

Under the editorial supervision of Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Semimary, New York, and Henry Wace, D.D., Principal of King's College, London

Published in 1892 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

Prolegomena on the Life and Works of Rufinus.

Note.--The References (where a simple number is given) are to the pages in this Volume.

Tyrannius Rufinus is chiefly known from his relation to Jerome, first as an intimate friend and afterwards as a bitter enemy. The immense influence of Jerome, through all the ages in which criticism was asleep, has unduly lowered his adversary. But he has some solid claims of his own on our recognition. His work on the Creed, besides its intrinsic merits, must always be an authority as a witness to the state of the creed as held in the Italian churches in the beginning of the 5th century, as also to the state of the Canon and the Apocrypha at that time. And it is to his translations that we are indebted for our knowledge of many of the works of Origen, including the greatest of them all, the Peri 'Archon. We are the more grateful for his services because they were so opportune. The works of Origen, which had been neglected in the West for a century and to such an extent that the Pope Anastasius says (433) that he neither knows who he was nor what he wrote, came suddenly into notice in the last quarter of a century before Alaric's sack of Rome a.d. 385-410: and it was at this moment that Rufinus appeared, according to his friend Macarius' dream (439) like a ship laden with the merchandize of the East, an Italian who had lived some 25 years in Greek lands, and sufficiently equipped for the work of a translator. Through his labours during the last 13 years of that eventful time a considerable part of the works of the great Alexandrian have floated down across the ocean of the Dark Ages, and, while lost in their native Greek, have in their Latin garb come to enrich the later civilization of the West.

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a.d. 344-5: Rufinus was born at Concordia (Jer. Ep. v. 2. comp. with Ep. x. and De Vir. Ill. §53) between Aquileia and Altinum, a place of some importance, which was destroyed by the Huns in 452 but afterwards rebuilt. His birth was about the year 344 or 345, he being slightly older than Jerome. Nothing is known of his education or the events of his youth; but that he was early acquainted with Jerome and was interested in sacred literature is seen from the fact that in 368 when Jerome went with Bonosus to Gaul, Rufinus begged him to copy for him the works of Hilary on the Psalms and on the Councils of the Church (Jer. Ep. v. 2).

a.d. 372-3: His mother did not die till the year 397, as is seen from Jerome's mention of her (Letter LXXXI, 1), and it would appear that both his parents were Christians. But he was not baptized till about his 28th year. He was at that time living at Aquileia, where he had embraced the monastic state, and was a member of the company of young ascetics to which Jerome and Bonosus belonged. The presence among them of Hylas (Jerome Letter III, 3) the freedman of Melania, the wealthy and ascetic Roman matron, shows that that relation had already begun which was afterwards of such importance in the life of Rufinus. It must have been just before the breaking up of that company that he was baptized, for Jerome, writing of him (Ep. iv. 2) in 374 from Antioch says "He has but lately been washed and is as white as snow." He himself gives a full account of his baptism in his Apology (436).

a.d. 373: When this company of friends was scattered, Rufinus joined the noble Roman lady, Melania, in her pilgrimage to the East (Jer. Letter iv. 2). He visited the monasteries of Egypt, and apparently desired to remain there; but a persecution arose against the orthodox monks from Lucius the Arian bishop of Alexandria, seconded by the governor, both being prompted by the Arian Emperor Valens: the monasteries were in many cases broken up (Sozomen, vi, 19, Socrates iv, 21-3, Rufinus Eccl. Hist. ii, 3), and Rufinus himself for a while suffered imprisonment and was then banished from Egypt (430 Eccl. Hist. ii, 4). Rufinus probably on coming out of prison joined Melania who had then settled at Diocæsarea (Pallad. Hist. Laus. §117) on the coast of Palestine for the purpose of making a home for the Egyptian exiles on their way to their various destinations. He states in his Apology (466) that he was 6 years in Egypt, and that he returned there again, after an interval, for two years more. He was a pupil both of Didymus, then head of the catechetical school, who wrote for him a treatise on the death of infants (534), and of Theophilus, afterward Bishop of Alexandria (528), and that he saw many of the well-known hermits (466), such as Serapion and Macarius, whom he describes in his History of the Monks. Whether Melania returned with him to Egypt, or whether she went to Jerusalem, we do not know: it is also uncertain whether a journey which he made (Eccl. Hist. ii. 8) to Edessa was undertaken at this time. The date of the settlement of Melania on the Mount of Olives according to Jerome's Chronicle is 379, or, according to our present reckoning of dates, 377. We may suppose that Rufinus joined her in 379. This was his home for eighteen years, till the year 397.

a.d. 386: Rufinus was ordained at Jerusalem, probably about the time when John, with whom he was closely connected, succeeded Cyril in the Bishopric. The great resources of Melania were added to his own which seem to have been not inconsiderable. He built habitations for monks on the Mount of Olives, and employed them in learned pursuits, and in copying manuscripts. On the arrival of Jerome at Bethlehem, the old friendship was renewed, though not apparently with all its former warmth. Jerome certainly at times visited Rufinus and once at least stayed with him (465), and he and his friends brought mss. to be copied by the monks of the Mount of Olives (465). He gave lectures on Christian writers and doctrine, of which a satirical account is given at a later period by Jerome [2756] in his letter to Rusticus (cxxv, §18). The nick-name Grunnius which he there gives him was probably caused by some trick of the voice. But we may gather from Jerome that he read the Greek church writers diligently and lectured upon them, a study which enabled him to do much good work at a later time. It is probable that he lectured in Greek, since he says in 397 that his Latin was weak through disuse (439). We may set against Jerome's depreciatory description the account given by Palladius (Hist. Laus. §118). "Rufinus, who lived with Melania, was a man of congenial spirit, and of great nobility and strength of character. No man has ever been known of greater learning or of gentler disposition." Palladius also speaks of the princely hospitality of Melania and Rufinus: "They received," he says, "bishops and monks, virgins and matrons and helped them out of their own funds: They passed their life offending none and being helpers of the whole world." It is said by Palladius that he had heard from Melania that she had been present at the death of Pambas in Egypt which took place in the year 385, and it is probable that Rufinus accompanied her on this occasion. He himself records [2757] a journey which he made to Edessa and Charrhoe, when he saw settlements of the monks like those which he had previously seen in Egypt. But the date of this journey does not appear. It may have been undertaken in order to visit some of the exiles from Egypt before his establishment on the Mt. of Olives. He records also the visits of the remarkable men who were entertained by him; Bacurius, who had been king of the Ubii, and afterwards count of the Domestics under Theodosius, and was governor or duke of Palestine when Rufinus settled there; and Ędesius the companion of Frumentius the Missionary to the tribes in the N. W. of India. But his chief interest and occupation throughout seems to have been with his monks at Mt. Olivet with perhaps some connection with the diocesan work of his friend John, the Bp. of Jerusalem. Palladius records that Rufinus and Melania were the means of restoring to the communion of the church 400 monks. What was this schism, which Palladius describes as being "on account of Paulinus"? It is probable that the words relate to the monks of Bethlehem whose alienation from the Church of Jerusalem had been due to the ordination of Paulinian, Jerome's brother, by Epiphanius. We know that Rufinus before leaving Palestine was reconciled to Jerome (Jer. Ap. iii. 26, 33); and we know also that Jerome's book against John, Bishop of Jerusalem, which describes the schism was suddenly broken off; [2758] and that he remained from that time forward at one with his Bishop. We may be allowed to believe that the influence of Melania as well as Rufinus had been exerted for some time previously to bring about this happy result.

a.d. 382: Rufinus' part in the controversy thus terminated is partly known and partly the subject of inference. The original source of discord is not known. It is possible that Rufinus, who had been mentioned by Jerome in his Chronicle (a.d. 378) as being, together with Florentius and Bonosus, a specially distinguished monk, did not find himself included in his friend's Catalogue of Church writers (De Vir. III.) published at Bethlehem.

a.d. 392: When Aterbius began the Origenist troubles at Jerusalem, Rufinus, who treated him with merited scorn (Jer. Ap. iii, 33) probably felt some resentment at Jerome who, by "giving satisfaction" to the heresy hunter, had countenanced his proceedings. Rufinus appears as Bishop John's adviser during the visit of Epiphanius (Jer. Letter li, 2, 6), as the chief of a chorus of presbyters who applauded their own bishop and derided Epiphanius as a "silly old man;" [2759] and as present when Epiphanius remonstrated with his brother-bishop. He is also mentioned by Epiphanius in his letter to John (Jer. Letter li. 6) as holding an important place in the Church, "May God free you and all about you, especially the presbyter Rufinus, from the heresy of Origen, and all others." This sentence will suggest to all who are familiar with church-controversies a whole series of scenes in the schism which continued between Bethlehem and Jerusalem during the next five years. Jerome believed Rufinus to have injured him at every turn, to have procured the abstraction of a Manuscript of his from the house occupied by Fabiola on her visit to Bethlehem (Apol. iii, 4) perhaps to have been in league with Vigilantius (Comp. Jer. Ep. lxi, 3 with Apol. iii, 4, 19). But such insinuations have the appearance rather of the suspicions prompted by anger than of actual fact. In any case they were condoned when the two old companions who had been so long parted by ecclesiastical strife met together at the Church of the Resurrection at a solemn eucharistic feast, and joined hands in token of reconciliation, and when Jerome accompanied his friend some way on his journey before their final parting (Jer. Vol. iii, 24).

a.d. 397: He arrived in Italy, in company with Melania, early in the spring of 397. They were there received by Paulinus of Nola with great honour. [2760] Melania went on at once to Rome; but Rufinus stopped at the monastery of Pinetum near Terracina. His welcome by the Abbot Urseius and the philosopher Macarius, and their request to him to translate various Greek books, amongst others the Peri 'Archon of Origen, are described in his Prefaces to the Benedictions of the Patriarchs, the Apology of Pamphilus and the translations of Origen (417, 418, 420, 439). The preface to Origen's chief work (427) had the worst and most lasting results. He says that, being aware of the odium attaching to the name of Origen, he had feared to translate the work: but that the example of Jerome (whom he does not name but whose great ability he extols) in translating Origen encourages him to follow in his steps. This Preface, with this translation of the Peri 'Archon, was published in Rome early in the year 398, Rufinus having moved there to stay with Melania.

a.d. 400-403: At Rome he lived in the circle of Melania, her son Publicola and his wife Albina, with their daughter the younger Melania and her husband Pinianus, to whom we may probably add the Pope Siricius, and certainly Apronianus, a young noble whom he speaks of as his son in the faith (435, 564). Jerome's friend Eusebius of Cremona was also in Rome, and on friendly terms with him (445). But on the appearance of the work of Origen with Rufinus' Preface, a great ferment arose leading to the violent controversy between Rufinus and Jerome which is described in the Preface to their Apologies (434, 482).

a.d. 398: Meanwhile, Rufinus had left Rome probably in 398, having obtained the usual Literæ Formatæ from the Pope Siricius, who died that year, to introduce him to other churches. [2761] We hear of him at Milan, where in the presence of the Bishop, Simplicianus, [2762] he met Eusebius of Cremona, and heard him read out a letter of Theophilus containing some passages from the Peri 'Archon, against which he vehemently protested (490).

a.d. 399-408: He then, having probably visited his native city of Concordia, where his mother, [2763] possibly his father also (430, 502) was still living, took up his abode at Aquileia. There he was welcomed by the bishop, Chromatius, by whom he had been baptized some 26 or 27 years before. Rufinus probably arrived at Aquileia in the beginning of 399, and remained there 9 or 10 years. It was during this period that all his principal works except the Commentary on the Benedictions of the patriarchs, the translation of the Peri 'Archon and Pamphilus' Apology, and the book on adulterations of Origen were composed. It was soon after his settlement at Aquileia that he heard from Apronianus of the letter of Jerome to Pammachius and Oceanus [2764] expressing his anger against him for the mention he had made of Jerome in the Preface to the Peri 'Archon. The conciliatory letter to Rufinus which accompanied this and which was an answer to a friendly one from Rufinus [2765] was not sent on by Jerome's friends (489); and Rufinus, thinking that his old friend had completely turned against him, composed his Apology (434-482) which drew forth Jerome's reply (482-541). This controversy is placed in full before the reader of this volume in an English translation, with prefatory notes. It may therefore be treated very shortly here.

Rufinus' Apology is an answer to Jerome's letter to Pammachius and Oceanus. It is addressed to Apronianus of Rome. He makes a profession of his Christian standing and faith, especially on the points raised by the Origenistic controversy; he describes the circumstances which had led him to translate the books of Origen, and defends his method of translation, which, he says, has been misrepresented by men sent from the East to lay snares for him. His method, he declares, was the same which had been used by Jerome, who boasted that through him the Latins knew all that was good in Origen and nothing of the bad. Where he found passages in Origen's writings, in flagrant contradiction to the orthodox opinion he had maintained elsewhere, he concluded that the passage had been falsified by heretics, and restored the more orthodox statement which he believed to have been originally there. He then turns round upon Jerome and points out that, in his Commentaries on the Ephesians, written some 10 years before, to which he specially referred in his Letter as showing his freedom from heresy, he had practically adopted the opinions now imputed to Origen as heretical, such as the fall of souls from a previous state into the prison house of earthly bodies, and the universal restoration of spiritual beings.

In the second book he clears himself from the imputation of following Origen and Plato in believing in the lawfulness of using occasional falsehood in the government and training of men. But he imputes to his adversary a systematic use of falsehood in reference to his reading heathen authors, while he professed in his letter to Eustochium (Jer. Ep. xxii) to have solemnly promised never even to possess them. He then takes a wider view of Jerome's writings, showing how, in this Letter to Eustochium, his books against Jovinian, etc., he had by his satirical pictures held up to ridicule the various classes of Christians, clergy, monks, virgins: how he had praised Origen indiscriminately as a teacher second only to the Apostles: how he had defamed men like Ambrose, and therefore his present accusations were little worth: how he boasted of having taken as his teachers not only Origenists like Didymus or heretics like Apollinarius, but heathen like Porphyry, and had made his translation of the Old Testament under the influence of the Jew Baranina (whose name Rufinus perverts into Barabbas). He concludes by summarizing his accusations and calling upon the reader to choose between him and his opponent.

This Apology was only sent to a few friends of Rufinus (530); but portions of it became known to Jerome's friends and his brother Paulinian (493) carried them to Bethlehem, together with Rufinus' Apology addressed to Pope Anastasius. Jerome had also before him the letter of Anastasius to John Bishop of Jerusalem (509) showing his dislike of Rufinus' proceedings. On these he grounds his own Apology, which was originally in two books and was addressed to Pammachius and Marcella a.d. 402.

In the first book he blames Rufinus' breach of friendship after the reconciliation which had taken place at Jerusalem; he then shows that he was compelled to translate the Peri 'Archon in order to show what it really was. He declares that the Apology of Origen translated by Rufinus as the work of Pamphilus was really written by Eusebius; that Origen had been condemned by Theophilus and Anastasius, by East and West alike, and by the decree of the Emperors. He defends himself for having used heathen and heretical teachers, and help of a Jewish scholar in translating the Old Testament. As to his Commentaries on the Ephesians he declares that he merely put side by side the opinions of various commentators, indicating at times his knowledge that some were heretical: and as to his anti-Ciceronian dream, he ridicules the idea that a man can be bound by his night visions.

In the second book he criticizes Rufinus' Apology addressed to Anastasius as to both its style and its matter, and blames him for his treatment of Epiphanius, and endeavours to implicate him in the imputation of heresy. He then defends his translation of the Old Testament, showing by copious quotations from the Prefaces to the Books that he had done nothing condemnatory of the Septuagint, whose version he had himself translated into Latin and constantly used in familiar expositions.

This Apology was brought to Rufinus at Aquileia by a merchant who was leaving again in two days (522). Chromatius no doubt urged him, as he urged Jerome (520) not to continue the controversy and he yielded. He wrote, however, a private letter to Jerome, which has been lost, sending him an accurate copy of his Apology, and while declining public controversy, yet declaring that he could have said even more than before, and divulged things which would have been worse to Jerome than death. Jerome in his answer written a.d. 403, which forms B. iii of his Apology, declares that the controversy is Rufinus' fault, and defends his friends for their conduct towards him, even in holding back the conciliatory letter written in 399; but shows how a way might still be open for friendship. He touches again upon most of the points dwelt on in the previous books, defending himself and accusing Rufinus, and ends by declaring that his bitter reply was necessitated first by Rufinus' threats, and secondly by his abhorrence of heresy, from all complicity with which he must at any price clear himself.

This book closed the controversy. Rufinus did not reply, Jerome did not relent. Nothing in Rufinus' subsequent writings reflects on Jerome; but Jerome is never weary of expressing his hatred of Rufinus, speaking of him after his death as "the Scorpion" [2766] and writing malignant satirical descriptions of him like that in his letter to Rusticus. [2767]

It may be observed, however, that notwithstanding the violent words used on both sides, it was possible for eminent churchmen to esteem and befriend both parties. Augustine, on receiving Jerome's Apology, laments, in words which must have been felt by Jerome as a severe reproach, that two such men, so loved by the churches, should thus tear each other to pieces. Chromatius, while he kept up communications with Jerome, and supplied him with funds for his literary work, was also the friend and adviser of Rufinus.

Rufinus' friends at Aquileia, like those at the Pinetum and at Rome, were anxious to gain from him a knowledge of the great church-writers of the East, and especially of Origen. No one at Aquileia seems to have known Greek. He makes excuses in his Prefaces (430, 563, 565, etc.) for the difficulty of the task and his own short-comings which seem to be partly conventional, partly genuine. But he did a work which he alone or almost alone at that period was qualified to do. His translations of Origen and Pamphilus were already known. We learn from Jerome (536) that Rufinus had translated parts of the LXX. He now translated Eusebius' Church History, and added to it two books of his own; he translated the so-called Recognitions of Clement, which till then were almost unknown in Italy. He wrote a History of the Monks of the East, partly from personal knowledge, partly from what he had heard or read of them. And he translated the Commentaries of Origen upon the Heptateuch or 1st seven books of Scripture, except Numbers and Deuteronomy; and those on the Epistle to the Romans. He also wrote his exposition of the Creed (541-563), and probably some other works which have not come down to us.

a.d. 400-402: The first part of his stay at Aquileia was troubled by the controversy with Jerome. He also received from his friends at Rome the intelligence that his Preface and translation of the Peri 'Archon had been brought to the notice of the Pope Anastasius, by Pammachius and Marcella (430); and probably the letter of the Pope to Venerius Bishop of Milan, which is quoted in Anastasius' letter to John of Jerusalem (433) was also brought to his knowledge.

a.d. 400: Though there is no reason to suppose, as has been often done, that the Pope passed sentence upon him, still less that he summoned him to Rome. Rufinus was so far affected by what he heard of the adverse feeling excited in the Pope's mind toward him that he thought it desirable to write an explanation or apology (430-2) vindicating his action in the translation of Origen, and giving an exposition of his own belief on some of the principal points dealt with in the Peri 'Archon. From the letter of Anastasius to John of Jerusalem we gather that John had written to him in the interest of Rufinus, and had blamed Jerome's friends at Rome, perhaps also Jerome himself, for the part they had taken in reference to him. It is a curious fact that this letter was known to Jerome but not to Rufinus during the controversy (509); but it can hardly be inferred with any certainty from this that John had changed sides and favoured Jerome at Rufinus' expense.

a.d. 408: After 8 or 9 years at Aquileia Rufinus returned to Rome. His friend Chromatius of Aquileia had died in 405. Anastasius of Rome had also passed away (a.d. 402), and his successor Innocentius was without prejudice against Rufinus. Melania was either there or with Paulinus at Nola. Her son Publicola had died in 406, but his widow Albina was with her, and her granddaughter the younger Melania with her husband Pinianus. The siege of Rome by Alaric was impending, and the whole party were starting by way of Sicily and Africa, in both of which Melania had property, intending eventually to reach Palestine. He joined their "religious company" as he tells us in the Preface to Origen on Numbers (568) which, according to Palladius (Hist. Laus. 119) formed a vast caravan with slaves, virgins and eunuchs; and he was with them in Sicily when Alaric burned Rhegium (568) the flames of which they saw across the straits.

This translation of Numbers was his last work. He was at that time suffering in his eyes; and he died soon afterwards in Sicily, as we learn from Jerome's malicious words "The Scorpion now lies underground between Enceladus and Porphyrion." [2768] The undying hatred of Jerome towards him has unduly lowered him in the estimation of the Church. He was far below Jerome in literary ability, but in their great controversy he displayed more magnanimity than his rival, being willing to forego a public answer to his provoking apology. He was highly esteemed by the eminent churchmen of his time and the Bishops near whom he lived. Chromatius of Aquileia was his friend; for Petronius of Bologna he wrote his monastic history, for Gaudentius of Brixia he translated the Clementine Recognitions, for Laurentius (perhaps of his native Concordia) he composed his work on the Creed. Paulinus of Nola continued his friendship for him to the end. Above all Augustine speaks of him as the object of love and of honour; and, in his reply to Jerome [2769] who had sent him his Apology, says: "I grieved, when I had read your book, that such discord should have arisen between persons so dear and so intimate, bound to all the churches by a bond of affection and of renown."

We may conclude this notice by two quotations from writers who lived shortly after the death of Rufinus; the first of which shows how unfairly the fame of Jerome has pressed on the memory of his antagonist, while the second may be taken as the verdict of unprejudiced history. Pope Gelasius, at a Council at Rome in 494, drew up a list of books to be received in the church, in which he says of Rufinus: "He was a religious man, and wrote many books of use to the Church, and many commentaries on the Scripture; but, since the most blessed Jerome infamed him on certain points, we take part with him (Jerome) in this and in all cases in which he has pronounced a condemnation." (Migne's Patrologia vol. lix. col. 175). On the other hand Gennadius, in his list of Ecclesiastical writers (c. 17) says: "Rufinus, the presbyter, of Aquileia, was not the least of the church-teachers, and showed an elegant genius in his translations from Greek into Latin;" and, after giving a list of his writings, he continues: "He also replied in two volumes to him who decried his works, showing convincingly that he had exercised his powers through the might which God had given him, and for the good of the church, and that it was through a spirit of rivalry that his adversary had employed his pen in defaming him."


[2756] "He came in with a slow and stately step; he spoke with a broken utterance, sometimes with a kind of disjointed sobs rather than words. He had a pile of tomes upon the table; and then, with a frown and a contraction of the nostrils, and his forehead wrinkled up, he snapped his fingers to call the attention of his audience. What he said had no depth in it; but he criticized others, and pointed out their defects, as though he would exclude them from the Senate of Christian teachers. He was rich, and entertained freely, and many flocked round him in his public appearances. He was as luxurious as Nero at home, as stern as Cato abroad; as full of contradictions as the Chimæra." [2757] Hist. Eccl. ii. 8. [2758] For the date of this work, see the Note prefixed to it in the translation of Jerome's works, Vol. vi. of this series. [2759] See Jerome's expressions in his book "Against John of Jerusalem" c. 11, which evidently refer to Rufinus: "grinning like a dog and turning up his nose." [2760] Paulinus Ep. xxix, 12. [2761] Jer. Ep. cxxvii, 9 Ap. iii. 21. [2762] Successor of Ambrose, and Bishop a.d. 397-400. See the Letter of Anastasius to him. Jer. Ep. xcv. [2763] She died soon after. See Jerome Ep. lxxxi, 1. [2764] Jer. Ep. lxxxiv. [2765] See Jer. Ep. lxxxi, 1. [2766] Jer. Ep. cxxvii. 10. [2767] Jer. Ep. cxxv. [2768] Jer. Pref. to Comm. on Ezek. B. I. [2769] Aug. Letter 73 (In Jerome's Letters No. 110).

Works of Rufinus.

I. Original Works which still Survive.

1. A Commentary on the Benedictions of the 12 Patriarchs. This short work was composed at the monastery of Pinetum near Terracina during Lent in the year 398, at the request of Paulinus of Nola. Rufinus had stayed with Paulinus on his first arrival with Melania in Italy (Paulinus. Ep. xxix, 12.) and Paulinus wrote to him (417) after he had gone to Pinetum begging him to give an explanation of the blessing of Jacob in Judah. Rufinus, though not replying for a time, sent his exposition, and afterwards, on a second request from Paulinus, added the exposition of the rest of the blessings in the Patriarchs, like the son in the parable (as he explains in a graceful letter prefixed to the work) who said "I go not," but afterwards repented and went.

The exposition is well written and clear; but it is not in itself of much value. The text on which he comments is very faulty: for instance, in the Blessing of Reuben, instead of the words "the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power," it has "durus conversatione, et durus, temerarius." When Rufinus adheres to the plain interpretation of the passage his comments are sensible and clear; but he soon passes to the mystic sense: Reuben is God's first-born people, the Jews, and the couch which he defiles is the law of the Old Testament; and the moral interpretation is grounded on the supposed meaning of Reuben, "the Son who is seen," that is the visible, carnal man, who breaks through the law. So, in Judah's "binding his foal to the vine," the explanation given as he says, by the Jews, that the vines will be so plentiful that they are used even for tying up the young colts, is dismissed. The foal is the Christian Church the offspring of Israel which is God's ass, and is bound to Christ the true vine.

2. A dissertation on the adulteration of the works of Origen by heretics, subjoined to his translation of Pamphilus' Apology for Origen. This will be found in the present volume pp. 421-427.

3. An apology addressed to the Pope Anastasius. See the introductory note prefixed to the translation of this work (429) now first translated into English.

4. The Apology for himself against the attacks of Jerome. See the introductory statement prefixed to the translation (434-5).

5. Ecclesiastical History in Two Books, being a continuation of the History of Eusebius translated by Rufinus into Latin. This work was composed at Aquileia at the request of the Bishop, Chromatius. The date is probably 401, since in the Preface Rufinus says that he had been requested to translate Eusebius at the time when Alaric was invading Italy. This must allude to the first of Alaric's invasions, in 400, since the second invasion (402) would have been marked by some word such as "Iterum," and at the 3d in 408 Chromatius had already died. The history does not attempt to give more than the chief events, and these are told with little sense of proportion, the Council of Ariminum occupying about 20 lines, while the story of the right arm of Arsenius which Athanasius was accused of cutting off takes up five times that space. Some documents of great importance, however, are given, such as the canons of Nicæa, and the Creed as it issued from the council. But there is much credulity, as shown in the account of the Discovery of the True Cross by Helena mother of Constantine, and the stories of the death of Arius and the attempted rebuilding of the Jewish Temple under Julian. Rufinus has none of the critical power needed for a true historian. We may add that all that is valuable in his history is incorporated into the works of Socrates (translated in Vol. iii. of this Series). See especially B. ii, c. 1.

6. The History of the Monks which is a description of the Egyptian Solitaries appears to have no mark of its date: But it was, no doubt, composed at Aquileia between 398 and 409, probably in the later part of that period. It was written in the name of Petronius Bishop of Bologna, and records his experiences, which he says he had been often requested by the monks of Mt. Olivet to commit to writing. It is full of strange stories like those in Jerome's Lives of the Hermits Hilarion and Malchus. [2770] There is often a verbal resemblance between this book and the Lausiac History of Palladius; indeed, they at times record the same adventures (compare the story of the crocodiles, Ruf. Hist. Mon. xxxiii. 6 with Pall. Hist. Laus. cl., where even the same prayers and texts are put into the mouths of the two narrators.) But it is probable that in these cases Palladius is indebted to Rufinus.

7. The Exposition of the Creed is described in the note prefixed to the Translation (541).

8. The Prefaces to the Books of Origen, translated by Rufinus, and to the Apology of Pamphilus for Origen, together with the Book on the Adulteration of Origen's Writings are given in this volume (420-427). That to the Peri 'Archon (427) is the document on which the great controversy between Jerome and Rufinus turns. That to Numbers gives personal details of importance, while the Peroration to the Ep. to the Romans exhibits the method used in translating. The Preface and Epilogue to the work of Pamphilus are of great importance in connexion with the controversy between Jerome and Rufinus.


[2770] See those Lives translated in Vol. vi of this Series.

II. Translations from Greek Writers.

1. The Rule of St. Basil, translated at Pinetum for the Abbat Urseius in 397 or 398. This was the first work written by Rufinus of which we have any knowledge.

2. The Apology of Pamphilus for Origen. This formed the 1st book of an Apology for Origen's teaching in 6 books, which were composed by Eusebius and Pamphilus during the latter's imprisonment at Cæsarea previous to his martyrdom. Eusebius speaks of this work in a general way (H. E. vi. 33) as written by himself and Pamphilus. The last book, however, was written by Eusebius alone after the death of Pamphilus. The part translated by Rufinus is only the 1st book, and this he believed to be by Pamphilus alone. Jerome in his Apology (487, 514) asserted that the whole was by Eusebius alone. But his bitter feeling led him astray in this. The Apology for Origen has perished with the exception of this 1st book which survives in Rufinus' Translation. The Preface which he prefixed to the work, and the Epilogue which he subjoined to it under the name of "The book concerning the adulteration of the works of Origen" are given in our translation (420-427). This work was written at Pinetum near Terracina at the request of Macarius, to whom the Preface is addressed, in the end of 397 or the beginning of 398. For the questions relating to the authorship of the Apology the reader is referred to the Apologies of Jerome and Rufinus (esp. pp. 487, 514), to Lightfoot's Article on Eusebius in the Dict. of Eccl. Biography, and the Prolegomena to the Translation of Eusebius in this Series, p. 36.

3. Origen's Peri 'Archon. This translation was also made at the request of Macarius, and was finished as the Preface to B. iii. shows in the Lent of 398. The questions raised by this Translation are discussed in the Introductions to the Works of Jerome (Vol. vi of this Series), and of Rufinus in this Volume; and the controversy itself is developed in their Apologies (434-540). The greater part of the Peri 'Archon is known to us only through this translation.

4. Origen's Homilies. Those on the Books of Moses and of Joshua were translated at various times during the last 10 years of Rufinus' life. He had intended, as he states in his Preface to the Book of Numbers, to translate all that had been written by Origen on the Pentateuch: he accomplished this as regards the first three books, and also as to the book of Joshua, at the request of Chromatius; the book of Numbers he only finished in Sicily, just before his death; and the Commentaries on Deuteronomy he did not live to translate. In these translations, as he tells us (567), he did not scruple to supply what he found to be omitted in the Greek, the Homilies being of a hortatory kind, whereas Rufinus' object was an exposition of the text.

The Translation of the Homilies on Judges, though there is no Preface to it, is ascribed to Rufinus by Fontanini, who maintains that in this case, the name of Rufinus being discredited on account of Jerome's diatribe against him, the editors have suppressed the Preface, while in some other cases they have substituted the name of Jerome for that of Rufinus.

The Translation of Origen's Commentary 36th, 37th and 38th Psalms is unquestionably by Rufinus; it is dedicated to Apronianus, and may have been written in Rome (Fontanini col. 188, beginning of ch. viii). The Preface is given by us in this volume. Fontanini also gives to Rufinus a Translation of Origen's Homilies on I Kings and on Canticles. The books on Joshua and Judges he translated as he found them (567), but in the next he adopted a different method.

The works of Origen on the Ep. to the Romans were very long, and Rufinus did not scruple to condense them (reducing the 25 books of Origen to 10), as he clearly states in his Peroration (567). This work he addressed to Heraclius, and it was composed during his stay at Aquileia.

Rufinus had hoped, as we learn from the same Peroration (567), to translate some at least of the Commentaries of Origen upon the other Epistles of St. Paul; but he first determined to finish those upon the Pentateuch, a task in which, as we have seen, he was overtaken by death.

5. The Translation of 10 Tracts of St. Basil and 8 of Gregory Nazianzen. These are to be found in the works of Basil and Gregory, but without Prefaces; they are, however, mentioned by Rufinus himself in his Eccl. Hist. ii. 9, and in a letter to Apronianus quoted by Fontanini Vit. Ruf. II., viii, I. col. 189.

6. The Sentences of Xystus, which have been variously attributed to a philosopher who flourished in the reign of Augustus, and is quoted by Seneca, and to Xystus, or Sixtus, Bp. of Rome, who suffered martyrdom in 258. They are called the Annulus ('encheiridion) as inseparable from the hand. Rufinus speaks of them in his Preface, translated in this volume, as being traditionally ascribed to the Bishop; he does not pledge himself to this opinion, but does not deny it; and recent research has shown that, though they may have a basis in heathen philosophy, they are in their present form the writings of a Christian. Jerome, however, scoffs at Rufinus again and again, as either through ignorance or heterodoxy ascribing to a Christian Bishop and martyr the work of a Pythagorean (See Jerome ad Ctesiphontem (Ep. cxxxiii. c. 3), Comm. on Ezek. B. vi. ch. 8, on Jerem. B. iv. ch. 22. The whole matter is fully discussed in Dict. of Christian Biog. Art. Xystus.)

7. The Sentences of Evagrius Ponticus (or Iberita or Galatus) in three treatises, (1) to Virgins, (2) To Monks, (3) On the Passionless State. These are described with bitter depreciation as heretical works by Jerome (Ad Ctes. Ep. 133 c. 3. Pref. to Anti-Pelagian Dialogue and to B. iv. of Comm. on Jerem.) but approved by Gennadius (c. 9.) who issued an amended version of Rufinus' translation. Rufinus' translation is said to be in the Vatican library by Fontanini (Vita Rufini Lib. II. c. iv. in Migne's Patrologia Vol. 21 col. 205.)

8. The Recognitions of Clement supposed to have been written by Clement Bishop of Rome, but now known to be a work of 50 or 60 years later. The translation of it was asked for by Silvia sister of Rufinus the Prætorian Prefect, and was unsuccessfully attempted by Paulinus of Nola (see his letter to Rufinus in Fontanini as above, col. 208.) After the death of Silvia, Gaudentius Bp. of Brixia where she died as a saint, urged Rufinus to make the translation (Peror. to Ep. to Rom. 567) Preface of Rufinus.)

9. The translation of Eusebius' Eccl. History in 9 books, a work much valued in Gaul, and often reprinted in later times. The Preface (Migne's Rufinus col. 461) is addressed to Chromatius, and says that it was demanded by him at the time of Alaric's invasion of Italy (a.d. 400) as an antidote to the unsettlement of men's minds. Rufinus speaks humbly of himself as having little practice in Latin writing. He says that he has compressed the 10th book which contained little of real history, and added what remained of it to Book 9. See Prolegomena to Eusebius in this Series Vol. i. p. 54.

It is a curious and important fact that all the translations known to have been made by Rufinus have survived. This is due no doubt to their being the only translations extant in the Middle Ages of great writers like Origen and Basil, and to the impossibility of procuring others. The uncritical spirit of the time may have been favourable to them. Had they been recognized as the works of Rufinus, they might have been destroyed; but it was possible, even after the revival of learning, to attribute many of them to Jerome.

Gennadius mentions a series of Rufinus' letters, which have not survived, amongst which were several of special importance addressed to Proba, a lady who is highly commended by Jerome in his letter to Demetrias. [2771] Jerome also mentions (537) some translations of Rufinus from Latin into Greek, but his allusion is somewhat vague; and some translations from the LXX (536). A translation of Josephus, and a Commentary on the first 75 Psalms, and on Hosea, Joel and Amos, a Life of St. Eugenia and a Book on the Faith have been attributed to Rufinus but are believed not to be his. These, with the exception of the translation of Josephus, are given by Vallarsi in his edition of Rufinus. Besides these, translations of Origen's Seven Homilies on Matthew and one on John, and of his treatises on Mary Magdalen and on Christ's Epiphany have at times been attributed to Rufinus.

We do not propose to go minutely into the Bibliography of Rufinus' Works. Some of them were among the earliest printed books. The Editio Princeps of the Commentary on the Creed bears date Oxford, 1468 but is commonly believed to be really of 1478; that of the Ecclesiastical History, Paris, 1474; that of the History of the Monks, undated, is believed to be of 1471; that of the Commentaries of Origen is of 1503 (Aldus Minutius); that of the Sayings of Xystus, of 1507, and of the Peri 'Archon is of 1514 (Venice). They continued to be reprinted up to 1580; but, with the exception of the Sayings of Xystus, no further editions were published till the edition of Vallarsi (Verona, 1745), and the Life by Fontanini (Rome, 1742). Since that date, though various editions and translations of the Expositions of the Creed have appeared, no attempt has been made to give the whole of Rufinus' writings. Migne (Patrologia, Vol. xxi., Paris, 1849) is contented to reprint Vallarsi without alteration.

No complete edition of Rufinus' Works, therefore, exists. The volume of Migne's Patrologia (21) contains the Life by Fontanini (Rome, 1742), the Notice by Schoenemann (Leipzig, 1792), and Vallarsi's edition (Verona, 1745) of Rufinus' chief works, viz. The Benedictions of the Patriarchs, the Commentary on the Creed, the Monastic History, the Ecclesiastical History, the Apology against Jerome, and the Apology addressed to Anastasius. Vallarsi had intended to edit the Translations from Greek writers, but did not accomplish this. The Prefaces to these translations, some of which are of great importance, have therefore to be sought by the student in the editions of the writers to whose works they are prefixed. They are collected and translated in this Volume for the first time.

We have in the present work not attempted to translate all the original works of Rufinus. We have omitted the Exposition of the Benedictions of the Twelve patriarchs, the Ecclesiastical History and the History of the Monks. The rest we have given. They include his Apologies, together with the Letter of Pope Anastasius about him to John of Jerusalem, the Prefaces to the Peri 'Archon and the Apology of Pamphilus, and the Epilogue to the latter work, called the Dissertation on the adulteration of the Works of Origen, together with the Prefaces which are still extant to his Translations of Origen's Commentaries and his Peroration to Origen on Romans. We have also included his best known work, his Commentary on the Creed, a translation of which has kindly been placed at our service by Dr. Heurtley, Lady Margaret Professor of Theology at Oxford.


[2771] Letter cxxx, 7.
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