You are viewing a draft
Not for citation.

Jerome, Apology Against Rufinus 2.18


In a long letter he wrote to his associates Pammachius and Marcella in 401, Jerome struck at first a defensive and then an offensive stance in the ongoing Origenist controversy that had embroiled the episcopate of Jerusalem since the early 390s. Jerome’s old friend Tyrannius Rufinus had emerged as a prominent intellectual and founding leader among the monks on the Mount of Olives at the same time as Jerome was settling into his own monastic base at Bethlehem. During an episode of intense theological dispute, Jerome in his orthodoxy grew increasingly annoyed and outraged by Rufinus’ support for John bishop of Jerusalem, his translation of writings by Origen, and his characterization of Jerome as a sympathizer. After learning that an apology by Rufinus was circulating in Aquileia and Rome, Jerome immediately responded with his own bitter polemic. In this passage Jerome characterizes Rufinus as a defender of Origen. He cites Origen’s otherwise lost letter to his associates in Alexandria defending himself against mistreatment by the bishop Demetrius and his supporters, which Rufinus had quoted but misrepresented and misconstrued. This testimony sheds light on the controversial transition of Origen from Alexandria to Caesarea around 231 C.E.


Praemissa falsatione ab haereticis apostolorum et utriusque Clementis atque Dionysii, venit ad Origenem, et his verbis loquitur: “Ipsius hoc conquerentis et deplorantis scriptis ac vocibus probavimus. Quid enim ipse, cum adhuc esset in carne vivens, sentiens vidensque, perpessus sit de librorum suorum vel sermonum corruptionibus, vel adulterinis editionibus, ex ipsius epistula quam scribit ad quosdam caros suos Alexandriam evidenter docetur.” Statimque exemplum subiungit epistulae, et qui falsitatem scriptorum Origenis haereticis imputat, ipse incipit a falsitate, non ita interpretans ut habetur in Graeco, nec id Latinis insinuans, quod ipse in suis litteris profitetur. Cumque ille tota epistula Demetrium Alexandrinae urbis pontificem laceret, et in totius orbis episcopos et clericos invehatur,et frustra ab Ecclesiis excommunicatum esse se dicat, nec velle in maledictis referre vicem …1

Textual Note

Ed. Migne 1883

Textual Note

Ref. Lardet 1982


After this preface as to the falsification by heretics of the apostles, of both Clements, and of Dionysius, (Rufinus) comes to Origen. These are his words: “I have shown from (Origen’s) own writings and words how he himself complains of this and deplores it. He explains clearly in the letter which he wrote to some close friends at Alexandria what he suffered, while living there in the flesh and in the full enjoyment of his senses, from the corruption of his books and treatises or by spurious editions of them.” (Rufinus) attaches below a copy of this letter. And the one who assigns to heretics the responsibility for falsifying Origen’s writings himself begins by falsifying them, for he does not translate the letter as he finds it in the Greek, nor does he convey in Latin what Origen states in his own writing. The object of the whole letter is to savage Demetrius the pontiff of Alexandria, and to inveigh against bishops and clerics throughout the world, and to tell them that their excommunication of him is invalid; and he says he does not wish to respond to their evil speech …2

Translation Note

Adapted from Fremantle 1892 with ref. to Lardet 1983

Works Cited

  • 1 Jerome, S. Eusebii Hieronymi Stridonis presbyteri opera omnia, ... tomus secundus, ed. J.-P. Migne, Patrologiae cursus completus, series Latina 23 (Paris: Garnier, 1883), ch: 2.18, col: 460D-461B.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • 2 Jerome and Rufinus, Life and Works of Rufinus, with Jerome’s Apology against Rufinus, in Theodoret, Jerome, Gennadius, & Rufinus: Historical Writings, ed. Henry Wace and Philip Schaff, trans. W. H. Fremantle, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. 2nd Series 3 (New York: Christian Literature Publishing, 1892), 403–541Link to Zotero Bibliographic RecordLink to Worldcat Bibliographic record

Additional Bibliography

  • Jerome, S. Hieronymi presbyteri opera III.1: contra Rufinum, ed. Pierre Lardet, Corpus Christianorum, series Latina 79 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1982), p: 8-9.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • Jerome, Saint Jérôme: Apologie contre Rufin, trans. Pierre Lardet, Sources chrétiennes 303 (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1983)Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • J. N. D. Kelly, Jerome; His Life, Writings, and Controversies (New York and London: Harper & Row / Duckworth, 1975), p: 243-258.Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record
  • Elizabeth A. Clark, The Origenist Controversy: The Cultural Construction of an Early Christian Debate, repr. Princeton 2016 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992)Link to Zotero Bibliographic Record

Copyright and License for Reuse

Except for materials quoted from other sources, this entry is copyright 2022 by the contributors (Joseph L. Rife, et al.) and the Caesarea City and Port Exploration Project. It is licensed under the Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.

Some texts quoted in this entry may be in the public domain in the United States. No copyright is asserted for these quotations.

Some texts quoted in this entry may have copyright restrictions and are reused under Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976 (Title 17 of the United States Code) which permits “fair use” of copyrighted materials for purposes such as criticism, comment, scholarship, and research. These texts remain under copyright of their owners. No copyright infringement is intended.

How to Cite This Entry

Joseph L. Rife, “Jerome, Apology Against Rufinus 2.18,” in Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, entry published October 19, 2022,


Joseph L. Rife, “Jerome, Apology Against Rufinus 2.18.” In Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, edited by Joseph L. Rife, Phillip I. Lieberman and David A. Michelson., edited by Joseph L. Rife et al.. Caesarea City and Port Exploration Project, 2022. Entry published October 19, 2022.

About this Entry

Entry Title: Jerome, Apology Against Rufinus 2.18

Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

  • Joseph L. Rife, general editor, Vanderbilt University
  • Joseph L. Rife, Phillip I. Lieberman, and David A. Michelson, editors, Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia
  • David A. Michelson, Daniel L. Schwartz, and William L. Potter, technical editor, “Jerome, Apology Against Rufinus 2.18
  • Joseph L. Rife, entry contributor, “Jerome, Apology Against Rufinus 2.18

Additional Credit:

  • TEI encoding by William L. Potter
  • Electronic text added by Joseph L. Rife
  • Testimonia identified by Joseph L. Rife
Show full citation information...