less prominent as an emphasis on female virginity and enclosure for religious women developed.7

Since the 370s, opposition within the church to Origenism itself had been growing. Origenist theology, speculative in nature and originally designed to counter the claims of Gnosticism, did not appeal to those in the post-Nicene church, such as Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis, who demanded certainty and hierarchy. Jerome's former friend, Rufinus, who had acted as spiritual adviser to Melania the Elder, returned to Italy from Bethlehem in 397 and began a programme of translation of works of Eastern spirituality into Latin: these included an early and incomplete version of Basil's Long and Shorter Rules, the History of the monks in Egypt, and probably the Sententiae for monks and virgins composed by Evagrius of Pontus. But neither this nor his Latin translation of Origen's Peri archon could halt the growth of opposition to Origenism.

The real crisis for Origenism in the West came in the second decade of the fifth century, when the theology of the British intellectual, Pelagius, who headed an ascetic group in Rome, caused a major sensation within Western Christendom. Pelagius held that a baptised Christian could live, if she or he so willed, without sin, by following all of God's commandments. To Jerome this was reminiscent of the Origenist concept of apatheia - and to achieve this, he scoffed, one had to be either God or a stone.8 The most powerful opponent of the Pelagians, however, was Augustine of Hippo, who felt that they were guilty of denying the power of God's grace in the achievement of ascetic transformation. Augustine considered that he had experienced the grace of God himself when he had made his own conversions to Christianity and asceticism and his monastic rule had also acknowledged the need for God's grace. Now, in reply to the Pelagians, Augustine developed the belief not only in the need for the enabling grace of God but also for his co-operative grace, arguing not only that God's grace made possible human choices and actions, but also that its continuing help was necessary for any achievement. The evolution of this doctrine confronted those who practised transformational asceticism, as it implied that transformation could be achieved only with the co-operative grace of God. Transformational ascetics had not denied the need for God's grace: Evagrius had conceived of a joint operation of grace and free will. But the increasing precision of the Augustinian theology of grace could now make Origenism appear dangerously unfocused and blasphemous.

7 Jerome, Against Helvidius and AgainstJovinian; see further David G. Hunter, 'Resistance to the virginal ideal' and 'Helvidius, Jovinian and the virginity of Mary'; Ambrose, On virginity and Concerning virgins.

8 See Jerome, Letter 133 ('To Ctesiphon'); trans. NPNF 2, vi: 272-80.

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