13. But why should I prolong this discussion? I shall take no notice of his reproaches and railings; I shall make no answer to his violent attacks, that daily task of his, for which Porphyry sharpened his pen. For I have chosen Jesus, not Barabbas, for my master, and he has taught me to be silent when reviled. I will come to the point where I will shew how much truth there is in the excuses for himself and the accusations against me which he has heaped together. He says 2962 that it is only in two short Prefaces that he ever was known to have praised Origen; and that his praise extended only to his work as an interpreter of Scripture, in which nothing is said of doctrine or of the faith, and that in those parts of his works which he has himself translated there is absolutely nothing advanced of the kind which he now reproves in the interest of the Synagogue rather than that of the edification of Christians. It ought, one would think, be enough to put him to silence, that those very things which he set forth in his own books he blames in those of others; nevertheless, let us see how far these other assertions of his are true. In the Preface 2963 to the commentaries of Origen on Ezekiel, contained in fourteen homilies or short orations, he writes thus to one Vincentius:
“It is a great thing which you ask of me, my friend, that I should translate Origen into Latin, and present to the ears of Romans a man of whom we may say in the words of Didymus the seer, that he was a teacher of the churches second only to the Apostles.”
And a little way on he adds:
“I will briefly state for your information that Origens works on the whole of Scripture are of three kinds. First come the Extracts or Notes, called in Greek Scholia, in which he shortly and summarily touches upon the things which seemed to him obscure or to present some difficulty. The second kind is the Homiletics, of which the present commentary is a specimen. The third kind is what he called Tomes, or as we say Volumes. In this part of his work he gives all the sails of his genius to the breathing winds; and, drawing off from the land, he sails away into mid ocean. I know that you wish that I should translate his writings of all kinds. I have before mentioned the reason why this is impossible; but I promise you this, that if, through your prayers, Jesus gives me back my health, I intend to translate, I will not say all, for that would be rash, but very many of them; on this condition, however, which I have often set you, that I should provide the words and you the secretary.”
Letter lxxxiv, 2.467:2963
See this Preface translated among Jeromes works in this Series.