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[Footnotes moved to the end and renumbered.  The positions of A, B, and C have been indicated in {} in the text as part of the online edition.  The printed copy from which this was made was defective at a couple of points in the footnotes: these are indicated in {} below.]

1.  1  {Note to the online edition: defective printed text here} (cf. i, 7; ii, 5 etc.), i.e. that the effects of Baptism were derived from the sanctity of their recipients, not from God.

2.  2  responsorum dictorumque nostrorum.

3.  3  pullulare.

4.  4 ad unam communionem.

5.  1  revera sufficiebat sibi Ecclesia Catholica habens innumerabiles populos in provinciis universis.

6.  2  domesticum iudicium. At the Council of Cirta in Numidia.

7.  3  Against those who had consecrated Majorinus.

8.  4  ne invidia esset. Du Pin forgets the 'malice' against Secundus (cf. 'et cum ipse Secundus a Purpurio increparetur,' i, 14), when he understands 'ne invidia esset' to mean here 'that they might not be reproached with the expulsion of so many Bishops.'

9.  5 Balduinus in his second Edition inserted here the passage A which I print at the end of the Book (p. 298).

10.  6 adductos (cf. in, 11: 'quem fides adduxerit').

11.  1  non sine voluntate Dei (St. Optatus often uses this phrase, as also its equivalent cum voluntate Dei).

12.  2  Ez. xviii, 4.

13.  3 in ipsis natalibus mundi.

14.  4 dum non pertinuit ad Seth, filium Adae, patris admissum. From the theological point of view this has been considered the most difficult passage to be found in the works of St. Optatus. St. Augustine writes ( de Haer. 19): ' Sethiani nomen acceperunt a filio Adae, qui vocatus est Seth. Eum quippe honorant, sed fabulosa et haeretica vanitate.' The Sethitic legend is distinctly African. Julius Africanus is quoted as one of the first Christian writers to extol this Patriarch unduly, and the legend went on growing. Some, therefore, have thought that St. Optatus had received unawares a false tradition from heretical sources about Seth. Thus Casaubon writes with regard to this passage of Optatus: 'Non ego is iam, qui gravius quidquam de viro sancto pronuntiaverim. Id tantum dicam, vereri me, ne imprudenti et incauto illi haec exciderint, quae saevioris examinis acrimoniam aegre sustineant.' All the other commentators pass the passage over in silence. But is it not almost certain that St. Optatus had not the doctrine of original sin before his mind at all? With much probability it may be urged that the question here concerns not Adam qua father of the human race, but Adam considered as any other father. In this sense it is clear that Adam's sins were not attributed to his son Seth any more than are the sins of any other father attributed to any other son. We must always bear in mind that Optatus wrote before the rise of the Pelagian heresy. Still, the difficulty will remain unanswered: Why should Optatus in this connection have mentioned Seth rather than Abel, or even Cain?

15.  1 Ex. xx, 5.

16.  2 voces.

17.  3 Matt. xxvii, 25.

18.  4 conpetentibus.

19.  5 vox.

20.  1  Here Balduinus inserted B, the second doubtful passage. I have printed it immediately after A (p. 305).

21.  2 And here C; it may be found on page 310.

22.  3  Matt. vii, 1; Luke vi, 37.

23.  1 resignet. CGv designet.

24.  2 I John i, 8.

25.  3  ager, qui est totus orbis, in quo est Ecclesia. If St. Augustine at the Conference at Carthage had remembered and employed these careful words of St. Optatus----'the field in which is the Church,' he would have been saved a tiresome discussion with his Donatist adversaries. The Donatists naturally and triumphantly replied to the argument of the Catholics that the tares had to grow up with the wheat in the Field, and that the Field is the Church: 'Oh no, on the contrary, the Maker of the world Himself has said that the Field is the world. Now "the world has not known the Father." But if (as you say) the Church is the Field, it is also the world, for "the Field is the world." Therefore the Church has not known the Father! Which is absurd.' To this ingenious syllogism St. Augustine had to rely upon a long explanation as to the different meaning of the word 'world' in Holy Scripture ( Gesta Coll. Carthag. Diei iii, cclxv-cclxxxi; Brev. Coll. iii, 10). No exception could have been taken to the statement of Optatus 'the Church is in the world.' Had it been used, the Donatists would have been deprived of one of their many opportunities of wasting time.

26.  4  praecepta salutaria.

27.  5 homo est malus, id est diabolus.

28.  6 inportuna peccata. In contrast with the wholesome precepts ('praecepta salutaria') of Christ, concerning which Optatus has just written. (Christ's precepts save us; sins harm us cruelly.) Inportunitas has been used in the sense of inmanitas in ii, 18 (cf. however iii, 7, where inportune is used for unseasonably, which may perhaps be the meaning here----'unseasonable sins').

29.  1  per tenebras.

30.  2  nascuntur diversa semina.

31.  3  in Ecclesia non est similis turba animarum.

32.  4  adductos, sc. ad Ecclesiam Catholicam (cf. last chapter: 'ad Ecclesiam Catholicam . . . non sine voluntate Dei adductos').

33.  5 nutritos.

34.  6 una pluvia nutritos. Thus Du Pin. Ziwsa places a comma after pluvia, making una pluvia depend not upon nutritos, but upon preceding natos = 'born with us from one water----that is to say, nourished from the one Baptism.' It must be admitted that, strictly speaking, not nourishment but birth comes from Baptism, but on the other hand seeds are not born from rain. For this reason I prefer on the whole Du Pin's punctuation, and have translated accordingly.

35. 7 sine exterminio.

36.  1  aliena.

37.  2  in agro Suo per totum orbem terrarum, in quo est Una Ecclesia.

38.  3  post crementa communia. Crementum (literally increase) is an unusual Low Latin variant of incrementum.

39.  4 quid est Suum et quid alienum.

40.  5 in horreo.

41.  6 destinet.

42.  7 interminata.

43.  8 repraesentet.

44.  9 si sibi totum vindicet. The context tells us that the totum here refers to the power of judgement and especially of separation. If any Bishop were now to separate all sinners from the Visible Church, there could not be that separation by Christ, on the Day of Judgement, of the tares from the wheat, and of the goats from the sheep, of which we read in the Gospels. It is hardly necessary to say that the Church has never at any time claimed to judge in foro interno, that is, concerning the conscience or interior state and fixture lot of any man.

45.  1  professio.

46.  2  The words in square brackets are only to be found in C and Codex Tilianus.

47.  3  unitatis adsequi formam. Unitatis forma = the idea of unity presented by Christ and externally realised in the Visible Church. It is very difficult to translate forma, as used by St. Optatus, into English (cf. v, 5 formam baptizandi; i, 21 exemplorum formam; v, 3 formam humilitatis; vii, 6 iudicandi formam; v, 14 quam formam habet mens). It is obviously impossible to render forma in these passages by the same English word, though the idea is the same in all of them----a rule or concept, clothed, as it were, before our eyes, in order that we may adhere to it.

48.  4  forma unitatis retinendae vel faciendae.

49.  5 vindictae suae.

50.  6 vindicare.

51.  1 Cf. Matt. x, 33; Luke xii, 9.

52.  2 The passage in square brackets is a clumsy interpolation. It is, however, to be found in C and Codex Tilianus.

53.  3 bono unitatis beatus Petrus . . . et praeferri Apostolis omnibus meruit et claves regni caelorum communicandas ceteris solus accepit. After communicandas some Gallican and Anglican authorities have supplied a Christo. Thus Dr. Pusey (Note R to Tertullian, Oxford Translation of the Fathers). Similarly Mr. Denny ( op. cit., n. 1165) writes 'that is, as Bossuet says, that Peter first received the keys which were afterwards to be imparted to the Apostles (Matt, xviii and John xx), but to be imparted not by Peter, but by Christ, as is clear.' Dr. Pusey sends us to Du Pin. Now it is curious that in his edition of St. Optatus Du Pin has no note whatsoever on this passage. Dr. Pusey, however, refers to his De Antiqua Ecclesiae disciplina Dissertationes historicae, where we read as follows ( Diss. iv, cap. i): 'communicandas ceteris ( id est quod Christus commendaturus erat ceteris).' But it should be noted that neither Du Pin nor Bossuet nor Denny say one single word in support of their view that a Christo should be understood after the word communicandas in this passage of Optatus. It is simple assertion, to which Bossuet adds the words 'as is clear' ( Defensio Decl. Cleri Gallicani, pars III, lib. viii, cap. xii, tom. ii, p. 90); on the other hand, it should be observed that we nowhere read either in Matt. xviii or in John xx----the passages referred to by Bossuet----that Christ gave the Keys to the other Apostles. With regard to the words of St. Optatus we may note in the first place that we shall search in vain for any passage where he states that Christ gave the Keys to 'the other Apostles'; on the contrary Optatus says expressly, both here and in i, 10 ('ut haeretici omnes neque claves habeant, quas solus Petrus accepit'), that Peter alone received them; so that for the Gallican interpretation of this passage to be possible we should have to change the word solus to primus----the alone of Optatus for the first of Bossuet; secondly that, though Optatus uses the verb communicare in eighteen places, in every other case it is used intransitively----twice absolutely and fifteen times with the dative----in the technical sense of ecclesiastical communion (to be in communion with). Here however we find the usual classical construction, communicare aliquid (here claves) cum aliquo or alicui (here ceteris). Communicare aliquid alicui always means in Latin to give something (e.g. information, power, here the Keys) to someone else, without ceasing to possess it oneself----to make it a common possession shared between oneself and the other (cf. Liv. Lib. xxiii, 5: 'Civitatem nostram magnae parti vestrum dedimus communicavimusque vobiscum,' and Cicero De Inv. ii, 39: 'Praemia virtutis non oportet cum improbis communicari'). This is undeniable and forces us to see that the gloss a Christo is impossible----apart from the exigencies of controversy----and does violence to the text, to which indeed it is in direct opposition. The meaning is clea beyond all doubt----'the Keys which he was to communicate to the rest.' St. Peter had to impart to the other Apostles, for them to use also, the Keys which, as their 'Head' (cf. infra), he had himself alone received from Christ.

54.  1  Once more St. Optatus identifies 'charity' in this famous passage with unity (cf. iii, 8: 'si beatus Paulus . . . pronuntiat se nihil esse, nisi caritatem habuerit, videte an non dicantur martyres . . . caritatis [i.e. unitatis] desertores').

55.  2  onera vestra invicem sustinete. Cf. Gal. vi, 2.

56.  3  magnanimis.

57.  4 1 Cor. xiii, 4, 5.

58.  1  Harnack quotes this sentence and observes: 'That is still a dangerous fundamental thought of Catholicism at the present day.'

59.  2  utilitas.

60.  3 diligenter.

61.  4 ad quam formam.

62.  5 ipsius Sancti Petri beatitudo veniam tribuat. In the same spirit St. Augustine carefully praises St. Cyprian before combating his views as to Rebaptism of heretics (e.g. De Baptis. con. Donat. vii, 1: 'Et beatus Cyprianus quidem iam corpore quod corrumpitur non aggravante animam nec deprimente terrena habitatione sensum multa cogitantem serenius aspicit veritatem quam meruit adipisci per caritatem talem. Adiuvet itaque nos orationibus suis in istius carnis mortalitate' etc.).

63.  1 multa errata.

64.  2 in uno titulo eius.

65.  3 omnia debere Deo servari, sc. for the Judgement of God. (Cf. i, 14: 'Secundus consilium accepit . . . ut talem caussam Deo servaret ... hi dixerunt talem caussam Deo debere reservari.')

66.  4 dilatatum est.

67.  5 Matt. xvi, 15-17.

68.  6 pro qua agnitione.

69.  7 instinctu Dei Patris.

70.  8 The passage in square brackets is to be found only in C and Codex Tilianus.

71.  1 John xvi, 32; Matt. xxvi, 31.

72.  2 non recessurum.

73.  3  Matt. xxvi, 34.

74.  4  de numero apostolorum separari non meruit.

75.  1  stant tot innocentes ---- are standing unfallen (cf. ii, 25). (Possibly stant = are standing by----so Ziwsa in Index s.v. stare.)

76.  2  unitatis negotium.

77.  3 formaretur (cf. p. 283, note 3).

78.  4  It was provided that St. Peter ('the sinner') should open for the other Apostles ('the guiltless').

79.  5  A schismatic or other sinner could not comply with the command of living within the Unity of the Church ('the unity which is necessary'), unless recovery were possible for him on repentance. So Peter holds the Keys, and through his ministry the gates of the Church on earth and of Paradise above are always open for the sinner who will turn from sin and seek the admittance which will never be denied him.

80.  6  quando. Quando in several places is used by St. Optatus to = How (e.g. ii, 21).

81.  7  pio sinu.

82.  8 Eccles. x, 1. 

83.  9 illum scilicet liquorem.

84.  10 ex.

85.  1  Albaspinaeus observes that the heretics of his day in like manner called the holy Chrism 'oil' out of contempt. This fact is familiar to all students of the letters of both the English and foreign Reformers. They habitually wrote of Ordination as 'greasing.'

86.  2  antequam fiat.

87.  3 de.

88.  4  suavitas de confectione, i.e. through consecration.

89.  5  quisquis est talis tractator ex vobis.

90.  6  si apud vos putatis esse confectionem. Catholic writers often use the phrase conficere sacramentum, and even conficere Corpus Domini.

91.  7  Catholics never questioned the validity of Donatist orders. Consequently such an Episcopal act as the consecration of Chrism (however illicitly) was validly performed.

92.  8 merito.

93.  9 The baptised man was regarded as baptised, the priest as a priest, the Bishop as a Bishop, etc.

94.  1  By re-baptising or re-confirming or re-ordaining converts from Donatism.

95.  2  oleum tale esse, quale et natum est. Cf. natus est hoc facere in late Latin (it is his nature to do this), and the classical fruges consumere nati (whose nature it is).

96.  3  conficiatur.

97.  4 confectum.

98.  5 quomodo possumus uno facto et conficere et corrumpere?

99.  1 suavitas enim legitur non natura posse corrumpi (cf. supra). 

100.  2 exclusa.

101.  3 cutem conscientiae.

102.  4 sc. sweetness derived from consecration.

103.  5  unde condirentur mores.

104.  6 salutarem.

105.  7  vos exterminatis rem ubi oleum fuit et suavitas.

106.  1  You have repeated not only Baptism, but also Confirmation.

107.  2  Matt. xii, 22. Casaubon thinks that St. Optatus could not have made this quotation, and that it slipped in from a marginal note. It is quite true that the object of St. Optatus, which was to show that the Donatists were not only muscae (flies) but also muscae moriturae (flies that were about to die), would have been attained without the quotation. It would have been enough for his purpose to have said that their rebaptising was a great sin and that 'sin without pardon----until it is pardoned----is death.' But unhappily he has already said (v, 3) that rebaptising (as involving a certain exorcism of the Holy Ghost) is that sin against the Holy Ghost for which there is no forgiveness in this world, or in the world to come. So hard was it to kill rigorism in the African Church, that we find it even in unexpected places. Still, we rejoice to find that St. Optatus is not always consistent with himself in this terrible severity. We have seen how clear he was that even these rebaptisers should have been reconciled with the Church, had they been willing.

108.  3  dissolvere.

109.  1 2 Tim. iii, 2.

110.  2 Cf. 2 Tim. iii, 8; Ex. vii, 11.

111.  3 Cathedram Petri et claves regni caelorum a Christo concessas, ubi est nostra societas, numquid poteris adprobare mendacium? (cf. ii, 23: 'Negare non potes scire te in urbe Roma . . . societate concordat'). The Donatists claimed that they possessed the truth. To this Optatus opposed the authority of the Catholic Church and set out the grounds of Catholic security in three pertinent questions:

(a)   Is it a lie (a delusion) to appeal to the fact of communion with the Catholic Church throughout the world? ' Is it a delusion that we are in one communion with the whole [ Catholic] world,?'

(b)   Is it a delusion that we keep and guard the Creed? ' Is it a delusion that we keep and defend the true and one Creed?'

(c)   Is the Chair of Peter a delusion? ' But you cannot deny that you know that Peter established his Chair at Rome.' Or, is it a delusion that we are in communion with that Chair? Or, is it, perhaps, a delusion that Christ gave the Keys of Heaven to Peter?----the Keys of Heaven which, through our communion with the Chair of Peter, we share (' ubi est nostra societas': cf. i, 12; ii, 4; ii, 9).

Is this all a falsehood----a mere delusion? (' Numquid poteris adprobare mendacium?')

Such is the argument of Optatus. He appealed just as Catholics appeal to-day (and as they always have appealed):

1. To communion with the Catholic Church in other lands, 

2. To the possession of the Creed,

3. To communion with the Chair of Peter.

This is the ultimate assurance of safety for a Catholic that he is in the true Church of Christ----the Soliditas Cathedrae Petri. This is no freak of the imagination ( mendacium). Here beyond all doubt we find and here we possess the great reality.

112.  1  Moses came first, before Pharaoh, and though Jamnes and Mambres worked the same miracles, yet Moses had precedence and prescriptive right. (Cf. Exod. vii, 11.) St. Optatus here passes to another great argument for the Catholic Church. It is 'in possession.'

113.  2  ut Moyses prior est, sic et Catholica prior est.

114.  3  rebelles contra veram Catholicam militatis (cf. 'contra Cathedram Petri sacrilegio militatis,' ii, 5).

115.  4 plural----Donatists in general.

116.  5 singular----Parmenian in particular.

117.  1  iamdudum de Catholica lapsi.

118.  2  erroris divitias dederunt spiritui et pulmonibus suis.

119.  3  sal infatuatum. Cf. S. Aug. De Serm. Dom. i, 6: 'si sal infatuatum fuerit, in quo salietur . . . ergo ad nihilum valet sal infatuatum, nisi ut mittatur foras, et calcetur ab hominibus . . . qui persecutionem timendo infatuatur, calcatur ab hominibus,' and S. Hilar. in Matt. iv: 'si sal infatuatum fuerit, ad nihilum valet id quod salietur.'

120.  4 St. Optatus forgot for a moment that salt does not produce sweetness.

121.  1 aliter.

122.  2 quasi infatuatos (with reference to sal infatuatum supra). 

123.  3 infatuatos esse.

124.  4 Chapters VI and VII have been placed at the end of Book III, to which they belong as an Appendix (v. p. 175-179).

125.  1  necessitas. Here this word does not mean necessity literally, but rather dire straits.

126.  2  Exodus xx, 13, 14.

127.  1  There is here an anacoluthon in the Latin.

128.  2  capitate.

129.  3 primis temporibus.

130.  4 Cf. Ex. xxxii, 19; Deut. ix, 17.

131.  5 vel incisi et incensi.

132.  6  cum eodem nomine legis parentum vestrorum et Moysi una fuerit caussa, possent dicere parentes vestri etc. Both Du Pin and Ziwsa print a full stop after caussa, but this punctuation seems to obscure the sense.

133.  7  unum.

134.  8 capitate.

135.  1  poma.

136.  2  quod erogatum est.

137.  3 si in origine sua salvum est. 

138.  4 post tabulas sparsas legis et comminutas.

139.  5 Cf. Ex. xxxiv, 2; Deut. x, 1.

140.  6 et secundum legem innovatam accepit, quam prodiit titulus libri, qui Graeco vocabulo Deuteronomos scribitur. For prodiit Casaubon conjectured prodidit. I have translated secundum as an adverb = secundo, though for this it is hard to find authority. Ziwsa in his index says that secundum is here a preposition, but it is very difficult thus to get even fair sense. 'He received the renewed Law in accordance with the Law' hardly seems satisfactory. I am much tempted to think that secundum is a mistake for secundam. The reference to Deuteronomy makes this to me almost certain. ('The very title Deuteronomy,' our author seems to say, 'bears witness to the second Law.') But as secundam has no MS. authority, and has occurred to no one else, I have not ventured to translate it in the text. It is hardly necessary to say that in Greek Deuteronomy means 'The Second Law,'

141.  1 leve.

142.  2 Cf. Rom. vii, 12.

143.  3  Cf. Num. xx, 12; Deut. i, 37.

144.  4  in praesenti exemplo. Casaubon suggests in praecepta = against the Commandments. But in praesenti exemplo means as contrasted with the later offence of striking the rock.

145.  5  inpune.

146.  6 innovata lex. Cf, p. 300, note 6.

147.  7 populorum.

148.  8 tradita.

149.  9 Cf. 1 Kings v, 1.

150.  10 haec ratio redderetur.

151.  1 arulam ardentem.

152.  2 concisum minutatim. Cf. Jer. xxxvi, 19, 21.

153.  3 capitulum libri.

154.  4 Jer. xxxvi, 27, 28.

155.  5 nec Hieremias a Deo contemptus est.

156.  6 gravis culpa.

157.  1 in ipso interiori homine.

158.  2 legitime sine lege.

159.  3 2 Cor. iii, 3.

160.  4 Jer. xxxi, 33. (Cf. Heb. x, 16.)

161.  5 secundo loco est charta, secundo loco membranae.

162.  1  librorum milia ubique recitantur.

163.  2  quamquam et si illorum unitas fieret, et si ad Ecclesiam Catholicam sponte venissent, etc. Casaubon suggests that it should be ' etsi illorum unitas fieret,' and that the si in next clause ought to be omitted. If this emendation can be adopted, the translation will be much easier.

164.  3  (See page 276, line 22, for continuation.)

165.  1  Cf. Ex. xxxiv, 28; i Kings vi, 2 seq.; Jer. xxxvi, 27 seq.

166.  2  capitale.

167.  3 unusquisque eorum.

168.  4 codices suos. Codices, according to the original meaning of the word in this connection, were vellum books, which in the course of time had taken the place of rolls.

169.  5  turba credentium.

170.  6 quae necessaria fuerat.

171.  7  valet.

172.  8 per loca singula. 

173.  9 mantis omnium codicibus plenae sunt.

174.  1 2 Tim. i, 9 (cf. Rom. ii, 14). 

175.  2 Cf. Rom. iii, 10; Gal. ii, 16.

176.  3 semper in omnibus rebus efficientibus effect a quaeruntur. 

177.  4 vacat.

178.  5 per compendium paratum est, quod efficitur (paratum est = comparatum est). 

179.  6 ultro.

180.  7  Gen. xv, 6 (cf. Rom, iv, 3; Gal. iii, 6; James ii, 23).

181.  8  Cf. Gen. vi.

182.  1 extralegalibus.

183.  2 Cf. Rom. ii, 14.

184.  3 in lege.

185.  4  Lex et Homo duae res sunt, sed pares esse non possunt.

186.  5  origo.

187.  6 liber non traditus de duobus his nec alterum potest. It seems impossible to imagine that this trivial special pleading should be the work of St. Optatus.

188.  7 impedit igitur necessitas vires suas. This is the reading of the MSS, We understand homini. Casaubon suggests impendit.

189.  1 legitima.

190.  2 tradere.

191.  3 domesticae bestiolae.

192.  4 una.

193.  5 rosoribus bestiis.

194.  6 unum.

195.  1  Cf. 1 Maccab. i, 59.

196.  2  apex. Literally a dot or accent or point.

197.  3  primitivo populo.

198.  4 Cf. 1 Esdr. vii.

199.  5  ad apicem.

200.  6 malignitatis suae.

201.  7   Cf. 2 Maccab. vii, 13.

202.  8 lex perire non potuit. 

203.  9 intrepide.

204.  10 peccaverat necessitas, non voluntas. 

205.  11 (For continuation see p. 279, line 4.)

206.  1  sustinendus.

207.  2  (For continuation see p. 279, line 17.)

For three other probably spurious passages see p. 283, l. 1-4; p. 284, l. 2-5; p. 287, l. 21-22.

[Note to the online edition: pp.311-320, which contain 100 quotations in Latin from Optatus: "A hundred noteworthy sayings of St. Optatus", have been omitted.]


This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2006.

Greek text is rendered using unicode.


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