12. I think very little, indeed, of one reproach which he levels against me, and think it hardly worthy of a reply; that, namely, in which, in recounting the various teachers whom he hired, as he says, from the Jewish synagogue, he says, in order to give me a sharp prick, “I have not been my own teacher, like some people,” meaning me of course, for he brings the whole weight of his invective to bear against me from beginning to end. Indeed, I wonder that he should have chosen to make a point of this, when he had a greater and easier matter at hand by which to disparage me, namely this, that, though I stayed long among many eminent teachers, yet I have nothing to show which is worthy of their teaching or their training. He indeed, has not in his whole life stayed more than thirty days at Alexandria where Didymus lived; yet almost all through his books he boasts, at length and at large, that he was the pupil of Didymus the seer, that he had Didymus as his initiator, 2959 that is, his preceptor in the holy Scriptures; and the material for all this boasting was acquired in a single month. But I, for the sake of Gods work, stayed six years, and again after an interval for two more, where Didymus lived, of whom alone you boast, and where others lived who were in no way inferior to him, but whom you did not know even by sight, Serapion and Menites, men who are like brothers in life and character and learning; and Paul the old man, who had been the pupil of Peter the Martyr; and, to come to the teachers of the desert, on whom I attended frequently and earnestly, Macarius the disciple of Anthony, and the other Macarius, and Isidore and Pambas, all of them friends of God, who taught me those things which they themselves were learning from God. What material for boasting should I have from all these men, if boasting were seemly or expedient! But the truth is, I blush even while I weave together these past experiences, which I do with the intention, not of showing you, as you put it, that my masters did not do justice to my talents, but, what I grieve over far more, that my talents have not done justice to my masters.
But it is foolish in me to enumerate these holy Christian men. It is not of them that he is thinking when he says that he has not like me been his own teacher. It is of Barabbas 2960 whom, unlike me, he took as his teacher from the Synagogue, and of Porphyry by whose introduction he and not I had his introduction into Logic. Pardon me for this that I have preferred to be thought of as an unskilled and unlearned man rather than to be called the disciple of Barabbas. For, when Christ and Barabbas were offered for our choice, I in my simplicity made choice of Christ. You, it appears, are willing to join your shouts with those who say, 2961 “Not this man but Barabbas.” And I should like to know what Porphyry, that friend of yours who wrote his blasphemous books against our religion, taught you? What good did you get from either of those masters of whom you boast so much, the one drawing his inspiration from p. 467 the idols which represent demons, the other, as you tell us, from the Synagogue of Satan. Nothing, as far as I see, but what they knew themselves. From Porphyry you gained the art of speaking evil of Christians, to strike at those who live in virginity and continence, at our deacons and presbyters, and to defame in your published writings, every order and degree of Christians. From that other friend of yours, Barabbas, whom you chose out of the synagogue rather than Christ, you learned to hope for a resurrection not in power but in frailty, to love the letter which kills and hate the spirit which gives life, and other more secret things, which, if occasion so require, shall afterwards in due time be brought to light.
The word is given in Greek, καθηγητής466:2960
The name of Jeromes Jewish teacher of Hebrew, which Rufinus here perverts, was Baranina. Letter lxxxiv. c. 3.466:2961
John xviii. 40