Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Cyprian/Treatises Attributed to Cyprian on Questionable Authority/Translator's Introduction
Treatises Attributed to Cyprian on Questionable Authority.
The treatises which follow are usually classed under the doubtful works of Cyprian. Baluzius, however, gives the two first, On the Public Shows, and On the Glory of Martyrdom, among the genuine Opuscula, and says: “I have not thought it fit to prejudice any one amid the diversity of opinions on the subject, but have refrained from separating the following from the genuine works of the blessed martyr, especially since many have observed that there is no such difference of style in these writings as to justify the denial of their authorship to Cyprian.”
Of course the question is one almost entirely of criticism, and the translator leaves the discussion of it to abler hands. He ventures, however, to record his impression, that the style of the following writings throughout is more pretentious and laboured, and far more wordy and involved, than that of Cyprian’s undoubted works. With a more copious vocabulary, there is manifested less skill in the use of words; and if the text be not in some places most elaborately and unintelligibly corrupt, the accumulation of epithets, as well as their collocation, seems the very wantonness of rhetoric. The text, however, is undoubtedly far less to be depended upon than in the case of the genuine works.
The treatises On the Discipline and Benefit of Chastity and the Exhortation to Repentance are generally placed under the Opuscula dubia. The former was first edited by Baluzius, with the title “Epistle of an Unknown Author.” Its Cyprianic authorship was maintained by Bellarmin, Pamelius, and others; while Erasmus, Tillemont, and others have rejected it as spurious. The second treatise was first published by Joannes Chrysostomus Trombellius (in 1751), who regarded it as a genuine work of Cyprian’s. And indeed, as far as internal evidence goes, the treatise, consisting merely of a collection of quotations from Scripture, in the manner of the Testimonies against the Jews, may probably be attributed to him with as much reason as the Testimonies.
It is, however, right to add, that Professor Blunt quotes from the Treatise on the Glory of Martyrdom as being Cyprian’s, without referring to any doubts on the subject.
- [A strong testimony in its favour. It is quite possible that the less worthy portions are corrupt interpolations.]