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Chapter VI.

After he had kindly accepted our gifts, on the sailors calling us back to the sea, we departed; and after a favorable passage, we arrived at Alexandria on the seventh day. There we found a disgraceful strife raging between the bishops and monks, the cause or occasion of which was that the priests were known when assembled together often to have passed decrees in crowded synods to the effect that no one should read or possess the books of Origen. He was, no doubt, regarded as a most able disputant on the sacred Scriptures. But the bishops maintained that there were certain things in his books of an unsound character; and his supporters, not being bold enough to defend these, rather took the line of declaring that they had been inserted by the heretics. They affirmed, therefore, that the other portions of his writings were not to be condemned on account of those things which justly fell under censure, since the faith of readers could easily make a distinction, so that they should not follow what had been forged, and yet should keep hold of those points which were handled in accordance with the Catholic faith. They remarked that there was nothing wonderful if, in modern and recent writings, heretical guile had been at work; since it had not feared in certain places to attack even Gospel truth. The bishops, struggling against these positions 27to the utmost extent of their power, insisted that what was quite correct in the writings of Origen should, along with the author himself, and even his whole works, be condemned, because those books were more than sufficient which the church had received. They also said that the reading was to be avoided of such works as would do more harm to the unwise than they would benefit the wise. For my part, on being led by curiosity to investigate some portions of these writings, I found very many things which pleased me, but some that were to be blamed. I think it is clear that the author himself really entertained these impious opinions, though his defenders maintain that the passages have been forged. I truly wonder that one and the same man could have been so different from himself as that, in the portion which is approved, he has no equal since the times of the Apostles, while in that which is justly condemned, no one can be shown to have erred more egregiously.

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