A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series - Vol. 9

A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series - Vol. 9

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A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series - Vol. 9

A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series - Vol. 9

Read FREE!

Excerpt

This volume of the series of Nicene Fathers has been unfortunately delayed. When I consented in the first instance to edit the volume, it was with the distinct understanding that I could not myself undertake the translation, but that I would do my best to find translators and see the work through the press. It has been several times placed in the hands of very competent scholars ; but the fact that work of this kind can only be done in the intervals of regular duties, and the almost inevitable drawback that the best men are also the busiest, has repeatedly stood in the way and caused the work to be returned to me. That it sees the light now is due munly to the zeal, ability, and scholarship of the Rev. E. W. Watson. It was late in the day when Mr. Watson first undertook a share in the work which has since then been constantly increased. He has co-operated with me in the most loyal and efficient manner; and while I am glad to think that the whole of the Introduction and a full half of the translation are from his hand, there is hardly a page (except in the translation of the De Synodis, which was complete before he joined the work) which does not owe to him many and marked improvements. My own personal debt to Mr. Watson is very great indeed, and that of the subscribers to the series is, I believe, hardly less.

For the translator of Hilary has before him a very difficult task. It has not been with this as with other volumes of the series, where an excellent translation already existed and careful revision was all that was needed. A small beginning had been made for the De Trinitate by the late Dr. Short, Bishop of Adelaide, whose manuscript was kindly lent to one of the contributors to this volume. But with this exception no English translation of Hilary’s works has been hitherto attempted. That which is now offered is the first in the field. And it must be confessed that Hilary is a formidable writer. I do not think that I know any Latin writer so formidable, unless it is Victorinus Afer, or Tertullian. And the terse, vigorous, incisive sentences of Tertullian, when once the obscurities of meaning have been mastered, run more easily into English than the involved and overloaded periods of Hilary. It is true that in a period of decline Hilary preserves more than most of his contemporaries of the tradition of Roman culture ; but it is the culture of the rhetorical schools at almost the extreme point of their artificiality and mannerism. Hilary was too sincere a man and too thoroughly in earnest to be essentially mannered or artificial; but his training had taken too strong a hold upon him to allow him to express his thought with ease and simplicity. And his very merits all tended in the same direction. He has the copia verborum; he has the weight and force of character which naturally goes with a certain amplitude of style; he has the seriousness and depth of conviction which keeps him at a high level of dignity and gravity but is unrelieved by lighter touches.

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