(c. 345-410)

Rufinus Tyrannius was born at Concordia in North Italy about 345 and in 371 was baptized at Aquileia, where he lived until he began his travels in the . He lived in Egypt for six years before going to for two years, after which he returned to Egypt for two more years. Part of his time in Egypt was spent in Alexandria, but most of it was with the in the monasteries of . Rufinus then went to the Holy Land, where he stayed for eighteen years. During that time he became fully conversant with the and collected much material that he used in his writings. Back in Italy in 397, he spent most of his life at Aquileia until his death in 410.

Rufinus is best known in the West as the main translator of many works of Origen from Greek into Latin, but he also wrote numerous treatises of his own, based mainly on his Eastern experiences. He is one of the four contemporaries who continued writing church history after , the others being , , and THEODORET.

His translations include the Apology for Origen of Pamphilus and Eusebius, the of Eusebius, the Monastic Rule of Saint , the De principiis of Origen, the Recognitions of Clement, the Sentences of Xystus, the Sentences of , the Paschal of of Alexandria, and ten works by .

Rufinus’ own works include two historical works: an Ecclesiastical History continuing the work of Eusebius, and the HISTORIA MONACHORUM, which is a history of the Coptic hermits based on his experience among the monks of Wadi Habib in the Eastern Desert. A great admirer of Origen, he also wrote “A Dissertation on the Falsifications by Heretics of the Works of Origen.” Later in life, when he fell out with , he wrote a special “apology” in two books, in which he tried to vindicate himself from the attacks launched against him by his old friend. The Apology was addressed to the pope Anastasius. Rufinus also composed a commentary on the Apostles’ Creed. This version remains as that accepted by the Roman church.

It has been said that Rufinus’ Ecclesiastical History was based on an original composed by Gelasius, (d. 393), but there is no solid basis for this assumption, and Rufinus must be accepted as its independent author. Although the work of Rufinus is sometimes described as uncritical, it is valuable as a source of church history after Eusebius in the fourth century.


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