Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

15. But let me add what comes after. My Preface continued as follows:

‘The causes of these discrepancies I have more fully set forth in the Apology which Pamphilus expressly wrote for the works of Origen, to which I added a very short paper in which I shewed by proofs which appear to me quite clear, that his books have been in very many places tampered with by heretics and ill disposed men, and especially the very books which you ask me to translate, namely, the Περὶ ᾽Αρχῶν, which may be rendered “Concerning Beginnings” 2845 or “Concerning Principalities,” which are in any case most obscure and most difficult. For in these books Origen discusses matters on which the philosophers have spent their whole lives without finding out the truth. In these matters, man’s belief in a creator and his reasoning about the created world which had been made use of by the philosophers for the purposes of their own profanity, the Christian writer turns to the support of the true faith.’

Here also I beg you to mark my words carefully, and to observe that I said ‘belief in a Creator,’ but ‘reasoning about the created world;’ since what is said about God belongs to the domain of faith, but our discussions about created things to the domain of reason. I continued:

‘Wherever, therefore, in his works we find erroneous definitions of the Trinity as to which he has in other places expressed his views in accordance with the true faith, we have either left them out as passages which had been falsified or inserted, or else have changed the expression in accordance with the rule of faith which the writer again and again lays down.’

Have I here, I ask, written incautiously? Have I said that I expressed the matter according to the rule of our faith, which would have been evidently going far beyond the scope of a translator whose duty was merely to turn Greek into Latin? On the contrary I said that I expressed these passages according to the rule of faith which I found again and again laid down by Origen himself. Moreover I added:

‘I grant that, when he has expressed a thing obscurely, as a man does when he is writing for those who have technical knowledge of the subject and wishes to go over it rapidly, I have made the sentence plainer by adding the fuller expression which he had given of the same thing in some of his other works which I had read. I did this simply in the interests of clearness. But I have expressed nothing in my own words; I have only restored to Origen what was really Origen’s though found in other parts of his works.’



Or First Principles (De Principiis).

Next: The difficulties of translation.