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38. But you will say, It was impossible for me to reply otherwise than I did. The letter which I received was such that, if I had not replied and retranslated literally the books which you had translated paraphrastically, I should myself have been thought to be a follower of Origen. I will not at present say anything as to the character of that letter, except that it bears the name of a man of high rank, Pammachius: but I ask, would there have been anything uncourteous in such a reply as this: “My brothers we ought not readily to judge of other men’s works. You remember what you did when I had sent my books against Jovinian to Rome, 2993 and when some persons understood them in a different sense from that in which, if my memory serves me, I had composed them. They were read by a great many people, and almost every one was offended by them, you yourself, as was believed, amongst them. Did you not on that occasion withdraw from circulation the copies which had been exposed to sale publicly in the forum, and send them, not to some one else, but to me, at the same time pointing out the grounds on which you thought so many had been offended? And I, as you remember, wrote an Apology in new terms, so as to give a sounder meaning, as far as I could, to expressions to which a different sense had been attributed. Well, it is but fair that as we would that men should do to us so we should do to them: and therefore, as you sent me back my books for correction, so do now with these books: send them back to their author, and hint to him what you think blameable in them, so that, if in anything he has gone wrong, he may correct it. Besides, though I have exercised my talents on many subjects, and laboured out many works, this is almost the first work which he has attempted, and possibly even this he has done under compulsion, so that it is not strange if he has not gone quite straight at first. We should not seize upon opportunities for disparaging men who are Christians, but seek their advantage by correcting what they have done wrong.”



See Jerome’s letter to Pammachius (Letter xlviii) describing his friend’s remonstrance, and defending himself.

Next: The Books against Jovinian.