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“Jerome and Origen - original Latin Text with English translation”

two contrasting passages from Jerome - one positive towards Origen and another (later passage) negative. Fragment of Letter 33 to Paula and Contra Joannem Hierosolymitanum, 7. Linked with Origenist controversy.

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Click here to read at earlychurchtexts.com in the original Latin (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is from the NPNF series.

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Letter XXXIII. To Paula.
A fragment of a letter in which Jerome institutes a comparison between the industry as writers of M. T. Varro and Origen. It is noteworthy as passing an unqualified eulogium upon Origen, which contrasts strongly with the tone adopted by the writer in subsequent years (see, e.g., Letter LXXXIV.). Its date is probably 384 A.D.

1. Antiquity marvels at Marcus Terentius Varro, because of the countless books which he wrote for Latin readers; and Greek writers are extravagant in their praise of their man of brass, because he has written more works than one of us could so much as copy. But since Latin ears would find a list of Greek writings tiresome, I shall confine myself to the Latin Varro. I shall try to show that we of to-day are sleeping the sleep of Epimenides, and devoting to the amassing of riches the energy which our predecessors gave to sound, if secular, learning.

2. Varro’s writings include forty-five books of antiquities, four concerning the life of the Roman people.

3. But why, you ask me, have I thus mentioned Varro and the man of brass? Simply to bring to your notice our Christian man of brass, or, rather, man of adamant—Origen, I mean—whose zeal for the study of Scripture has fairly earned for him this latter name. Would you learn what monuments of his genius he has left us? The following list exhibits them. His writings comprise thirteen books on Genesis, two books of Mystical Homilies, notes on Exodus, notes on Leviticus, * * * * also single books, four books on First Principles, two books on the Resurrection, two dialogues on the same subject.
* * * * * * * * * * *

4. So, you see, the labors of this one man have surpassed those of all previous writers, Greek and Latin. Who has ever managed to read all that he has written? Yet what reward have his exertions brought him? He stands condemned by his bishop, Demetrius, only the bishops of Palestine, Arabia, Phenicia, and Achaia dissenting. Imperial Rome consents to his condemnation, and even convenes a senate to censure him, not—as the rabid hounds who now pursue him cry—because of the novelty or heterodoxy of his doctrines, but because men could not tolerate the incomparable eloquence and knowledge which, when once he opened his lips, made others seem dumb.
5. I have written the above quickly and incautiously, by the light of a poor lantern. You will see why, if you think of those who to-day represent Epicurus and Aristippus.

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Contra Joannem Hierosolymitanum, 7

7. The questions relate to the passages in the Περὶ Αρχῶν. The first is this, “for as it is unfitting to say that the Son can see the Father, so neither is it meet to think that the Holy Spirit can see the Son.” The second point is the statement that souls are tied up in the body as in a prison; and that before man was made in Paradise they dwelt amongst rational creatures in the heavens. Wherefore, afterwards to console itself, the soul says in the Psalms, “Before I was humbled, I went wrong”; and “Return, my soul, to thy rest”; and “Lead my soul out of prison”; and similarly elsewhere. Thirdly, he says that both the devil and demons will some time or other repent, and ultimately reign with the saints. Fourthly, he interprets the coats of skin, with which Adam and Eve were clothed after their fall and ejection from Paradise, to be human bodies, and we are to suppose of course that previously, in Paradise, they had neither flesh, sinews, nor bones. Fifthly, he most openly denies the resurrection of the flesh and the bodily structure, and the distinction of senses, both in his explanation of the first Psalm, and in many other of his treatises. Sixthly, he so allegorises Paradise as to destroy historical truth, understanding angels instead of trees, heavenly virtues instead of rivers, and he overthrows all that is contained in the history of Paradise by his figurative interpretation. Seventhly, he thinks that the waters which are said in Scripture to be above the heavens are holy and supernal essences, while those which are above the earth and beneath the earth are, on the contrary, demoniacal essences. The eighth is Origen’s cavil that the image and likeness of God, in which man was created, was lost, and was no longer in man after he was expelled from Paradise.

 



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Jerome and Origen
Migne Latin Text
Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus
Patrologia Latina
Vulgate

 

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