Ante-nicene fathers



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5656 Irenaeus here, after his custom, plays upon the word Bythus (profundity), which, in the phraseology of the Valentinians, was a name of the Propator, but is in this passage used to denote an unfathomable abyss.

5757 This sentence appears to us, after long study, totally untranslateable. The general meaning seems to be, that whatever name is given to mental acts, whether they are called Ennæa, Enthymesis, or by whatever other appellation, they are all but exercises of the same fundamental power, styled Nous. Compare the following section.

5858 “The following,” says Harvey, “may be considered to be consecutive steps in the evolution of logo" as a psychological entity. Ennoea, conception; Enthymesis, intention; Sensation, thought; Consilium, reasoning; Cogitationis Examinatio, judgment; in Mente Perseverans, Logo" endiaqeto"; Emissibile Verbum, Logo" profoiko".”

5959 That is, lest He should be thought destitute of power, as having been unable to prevent evil from having a place in creation.

6060 Isa. lv. 8.

6161 The Latin expression is “similimembrius,” which some regard as the translation of omoikwlo", and others of omoiomerh"; but in either case the meaning will be as given above.

6262 That is, His Nous, Ennoea, etc., can have no independent existence. The text fluctuates between “emittitur” and “emittetur.”

6363 That is, in human beings no doubt, thought (Nous) precedes speech (Logos).

6464 Matt. vii. 7.

6565 Nothing is known of this writer. Several of the same name are mentioned by the ancients, but to none of them is a work named Theogonia ascribed. He is supposed to be the same poet as is cited by Athenaeus, but that writer quotes from a work styled ÆAfrodith" gonai.

6666 The Latin is “Cupidinem;” and Harvey here refers to Aristotle, who “quotes the authority of Hesiod and Parmenides as saying that Love is the eternal intellect, reducing Chaos into order.”

6767 Compare, on the opinions of the philosophers referred to in this chapter, Hippolytus, Philosoph., book i.

6868 Iliad, xiv. 201; vii. 99.

6969 The Latin has here exemplum, corresponding doubtless to paradeigma, and referring to those ideai of all things which Plato supposed to have existed for ever in the divine mind.

7070 [Our author’s demonstration of the essential harmony of Gnosticism with the old mythologies, and the philodophies of the heathen, explains the hold it seems to have gained among nominal converts to Christianity, and also the necessity for a painstaking refutation of what seem to us mere absurdities. The great merit of Irenaeus is thus illustrated: he gave the death-blow to heathenism in extirpating heresy.]

7171 The Latin text reads “sensibilia et insensata;” but these words, as Harvey observes, must be the translation of aisqhra kai anaisqhta,—“the former referring to material objects of sense, the latter to the immaterial world of intellect.”

7272 This clause is very obscure, and we are not sure if the above rendering brings out the real meaning of the author. Harvey takes a different vies of it, and supposes the original Greek to have been, kai alla" men th" upostasew" arca" einai alla" de th" aisqhsew" kai th" ousia". He then remarks: “The reader will observe that the word upostasi" here means intellectual substance, ousia material; as in V. c. ult. The meaning therefore of the sentence will be, And they affirmed that the first principles of intellectual substance and of sensible and material existence were diverse, viz., unity was the exponent of the first, duality of the second.”

7373 All the editors confess the above sentence hopelessly obscure. We have given Harvey’s conjectural translation.

7474 Literally, “antiphrasis.”

7575 1 Tim.vi. 20. The text is, “Vocum novitates falsae agnitionis,” kainofwnia" having apparently been read in the Greek instead of kenofwnia" as in Text. Rec.

7676 Grabe and others insert “vel” between these words.

7777 It seems necessary to regard these words as parenthetical, though the point is overlooked by all the editors.

7878 Matt. xi. 27.

7979 “Decem” is of doubtful authority.

8080 The text has “qui in labe facti sunt;” but, according to Harvey, “the sense requires plhrwmati instead of ektrwmati in the original.”

8181 Viz., the “Dii majorum gentium” of the Gentiles.

8282 Referring to numbers like 4, 5, 6, which do not correspond to any important fact in creation, as 7 e.g., does to the number of the planets.

8383 The Latin text is here scarcely intelligible, and is variously pointed by the editors.

8484 Harvey explains “his” as here denoting “in his,” but we are at a loss to know how he would translate the passage. It is in the highest degree obscure.

8585 The text is here doubtful: Harvey proposes to read “qui” instead of “quae,” but we prefer “quod” with Grabe. The meaning is, that three hundred and sixty-five is more than forty-five Ogdoads (45 x 8 = 360).

8686 “Operositatem.” corresponding to pragmateian, lit. manufacture.

8787 Efficabiliter in the Latin text is thought to correspond to energw" in the original Greek.

8888 Si is inserted by most of the editors; and although Harvey argues for its omission, we agree with Massuet in deeming it indispensable.

8989 1 Cor. xv. 41.

9090 Comp. i. 2, 2.

9191 It seems needless to insert an “et” before this word, as Harvey suggests, or, as an alternative, to strike out the first “Nun Propatoris.”

9292 Some read “caecutientes” instead of “circumeuntes,” as above.

9393 John ix. 1, etc.

9494 1 Pet. i. 12.

9595 “Postgenitum quidem reliquis,” the representative, according to Grabe, of apogonon men loipoi" in the Greek. Harvey remarks that twn loipwn would have been better, and proposes to read “progenitum” in the Latin; but we do not see any necessity for change.

9696 “Incapabilis et incomprehensibilis,” corresponding to acwrhto" kai akatalhpto" in the Greek.

9797 Literally, “to these knowing,” “his scientibus.”

9898 Matt. vii. 7.

9999 It seems necessary to read “se quidem” instead of “si quidem,” as in the mss.

100100 Although Sophia was a feminine Aeon, she was regarded as being the father of Enthymesis, who again was the mother of the Valentinians.

101101 Stieren refers for this allusion to Meineke’s edition of the Reliquioe Menan. et Philem., p. 116.

102102 Matt. xii. 36. [The serious spirit of this remark lends force to it as exposition.]

103103 Comp. i. 6, 1.

104104 “Parvum emissum”—a small emission.

105105 That is, there could be no need for its descending into them that it might increase, receive form, and thus be prepared for the reception of perfect reason.

106106 Or, “on beholding Him.”

107107 As Massuet here remarks, we may infer from this passage that Irenaeus believed souls to be corporeal, as being possessed of a definite form,—an opinion entertained by not a few of the ancients. [And, before we censure them, let us reflect whether their perceptions of “the carnal mind” as differing from the spirit of a man, may not account for it. 1 Thess. v. 23.]

108108 Comp. 1 Cor. xv. 44; 2 Cor. v. 4. [As a Catholic I cannot accept everything contained in the Biblical Psychology of Dr. Delitzsch, but may I entreat the reader who has not studied it to do so before dismissing the ideas of Irenaeus on such topics. A translation has been provided for English readers, by the Messrs. T. & T. Clark of Edinburgh, 1867.]

109109 The meaning apparently is, that by the high position which all these in common occupied, they proved themselves, on the principles of the heretics, to belong to the favoured “seed,” and should therefore have eagerly have welcomed the Lord. Or the meaning may be, “hurrying together to that relationship,” that is, to the relationship secured by faith in Christ.

110110 1 Cor. i. 26, 28, somewhat loosely quoted.

111111 “Male tractant;” literally, handle badly.

112112 Or, “from the twelfth number”—the twelfth position among the apostles.

113113 Acts i. 20, from Ps. cix. 8.

114114 The text is here uncertain. Most editions read “et quae non cederet,” but Harvey prefers “quae non accederet” (for “accideret”), and remarks that the corresponding Greek would be kai ou tucon, which we have translated as above.

115115 “Corruptum hominem.”

116116 Ps. lxviii. 18; Eph. iv. 8.

117117 Luke x. 19; [Mark xvi. 17, 18.]

118118 Though the reading “substituit” is found in all the mss. and editions, it has been deemed corrupt, and “sustinuit” has been proposed instead of it. Harvey supposes it the equivalent of upesthse, and then somewhat strangely adds “for apesthse.” There seems to us no difficulty in the word, and consequently no necessity for change.

119119 Compare, in illustration of this sentence, book i. 4, 1, and i. 4, 5.

120120 Matt. xxvi. 24.

121121 Mark xiv. 21.

122122 John xvii. 12.

123123 This passage is hopelessly corrupt. The editors have twisted it in every direction, but with no satistactory result. Our version is quite as far from being certainly trustworthy as any other that has been proposed, but it seems something like the meaning of the words as they stand. Both the text and punctuation of the Latin are in utter confusion.

124124 Luke x. 1.

125125 “Si” is wanting in the mss.MSS;. and early editions, and Harvey pleads for its exclusion, but the sense becomes clearer through inserting it.

126126 This clause is, of course, an interpolation by the Latin translator.

127127 The words are loosely quoted memoriter, as is the custom with Irenaeus. See Hesiod, Works and Days, i. 77, etc.

128128 Latin, of course, in the text.

129129 There is here a play upon the words Lhtw and lhqein, the former being supposed to be derived from the latter, so as to denote secrecy.

130130 This clause is probably an interpolation by the translator.

131131 2 Tim. iv. 3.

132132 “Coelet Demiurgo,” such is the reading in all the mss.MSS;. and editions. Harvey, however, proposes to read “celet Demiurgum;” but the change which he suggests, besides being without authority, does not clear away the obscurity which hangs upon the sentence.

133133 Comp. Pindar, Olymp., i. 38, etc.

134134 “Compuncti” supposed to correspond to kekauthriasmenoi: see 1 Tim. iv. 2. The whole passage is difficult and obscure.

135135 Harvey wishes, without any authority, to substitute “tacitus” for “tacitos,” but there is no necessity for alteration. Irenaeus is here playing upon the word, according to a practice in which he delights, and quietly scoffs at the Sige (Silence) of the heretics by styling those Aeons silent who were derived from her.

136136 Isa. lxi. 2.

137137 Matt. v. 45.

138138 Isa. v. 12.

139139 Rom. viii. 36.

140140 John ii. 23.

141141 John iv. 50.

142142 John v. 1, etc. It is well known that, to fix what is meant by the eorth, referred to in this passage of St. John, is one of the most difficult points in New Testament criticism. Some modern scholars think that the feast of Purim is intended by the Evangelist; but, upon the whole, the current of opinion that has always prevailed in the Church has been in favour of the statement here made by Irenaeus. Christ would therefore be present at four passovers after His baptism: (1) John ii. 13; (2) John v. 1; (3) John vi. 4; (4) John xiii. 1.

143143 John vi. 1, etc.

144144 John xi. 54, xii. 1.

145145 Or, “teacher,” magistri.

146146 Harvey strangely remarks here, that “the reading audiret, followed by Massuet, makes no sense.” He gives audiretur in his text, but proposes to read ordiretur. The passage may, however, be translated as above, without departing from the Benedictine reading audiret.

147147 “Neque solvens suam legem in se humani generis.” Massuet would expunge “suam;” but, as Harvey well observes, “it has a peculiar significance, nor abrogating his own law.”

148148 “Renascuntur in Deum.” The reference in these words is doubtless to baptism, as clearly appears from comparing book iii. 17, 1.

149149 It has been remarked by Wall and others, that we have here the statement of a valuable fact as to the baptism of infants in the primitive Church.

150150 Col. i. 18.

151151 Acts iii. 15.

152152 [That our Lord was prematurely old may be inferred from the text which Irenaeus regards as proof that he literally lived to be old. St. John viii. 56, 57; comp. Is. liii. 2.]

153153 Luke iii. 23.

154154 The Latin text of this clause is, “Quia autem triginta annorum aetas prima indolis est juvenis”—words which it seems almost impossible to translate. Grabe regarded “indolis” as being in the nominative, while Massuet contends it is in the genitive case; and so regarding it, we might translate, “Now that the age of thirty is the first age of the mind of youth,” etc. But Harvey re-translates the clause into Greek as follows: Oti de h twn triakonta etwn hlikia h prwth thsdiaqesew" esti nea"—words which we have endeavoured to render as above. The meaning clearly is, that the age of thirty marked the transition point from youth to maturity.

155155 With respect to this extraordinary assertion of Irenaeus, Harvey remarks: “The reader may here perceive the unsatisfactory character of tradition, where a mere fact is concerned. From reasonings founded upon the evangelical history, as well as from a preponderance of external testimony, it is most certain that our Lord’s ministry extended but little over three years; yet here Ireneaus states that it included more than ten years, and appeals to a tradition derived, as he says, from those who had conversed with an apostle”

156156 Trajan’s reign commenced A.D. 98, and St. John is said to have lived to the age of a hundred years.

157157 John viii. 56, 57.

158158 “Sed veritas”—literally, “the truth.”

159159 [This statement is simply astounding, and might seem a providential illustration of the worthlessness of mere tradition unsustained by the written Word. No mere tradition could be more creditably authorized than this.]

160160 Iliad, iv. 1.

161161 Latin, of course, in the text.

162162 Luke xiii. 16.

163163 John v. 5.

164164 The text of this sentence is very uncertain. We follow Massuet’s reading, “negotio Aeonum,” in preference to that suggested by Harvey.

165165 “Sive confusionem” is very probably a marginal gloss which has found its way into the text. The whole clause is difficult and obscure.

166166 Comp. i. 14, 4.

167167 Thus: Swthr ( " = 200, w = 800, t = 300, h = 8, r = 100) = 1408.

168168 Being written thus, wv

169169 This is one of the most obscure passages in the whole work of Irenaeus, and the editors have succeeded in throwing very little light upon it. We may merely state that wv

seems to be regarded as containing in itself the initials of the three words hwhy

, Jehovah; sym

, heaven; and Åday

, and earth.


170170 Nothing can be made of these words; they have probably been corrupted by ignorant transcribers, and are now wholly unintelligible.

171171 “Literae sacerdotales,”—another enigma which no man can solve. Massuet supposes the reference to be to the archaic Hebrew characters, still used by the priests after the square Chaldaic letters had been generally adopted. Harvey thinks that sacerdotales represents the Greek leitourgika, “meaning letters as popularly used in common computation.”

172172 The editors have again long notes on this most obscure passage. Massuet expunges “quaeque,” and gives a lengthened explanation of the clause, to which we can only refer the curious reader.

173173 JWdb

, Baruch, blessed, one of the commonest titles of the Almighty. The final r



174174 Ex. xxv. 10.

175175 Ex. xxv. 17.

176176 Ex. xxv. 23.

177177 Ex. xxv. 31, etc.

178178 Only six branches are mentioned in Ex. xxv. 32.

179179 Ex. xxvi. 1.

180180 Ex. xxvi. 7.

181181 Ex. xxvi. 2.

182182 Ex. xxvi. 16.

183183 Ex. xxvi. 26.

184184 Ex. xxx. 23, etc.

185185 Ex. xxx. 34.

186186 Some such supplement as this seems requisite, but the syntax in the Latin text is very confused.

187187 Matt. xiv. 19, 21; Mark vi. 41, 44; Luke ix. 13, 14; John vi. 9, 10, 11.

188188 Matt. xxv. 2, etc.

189189 Matt. xvii. 1.

190190 St. John is here strangely overlooked.

191191 Luke viii. 51.

192192 Luke xvi. 28.

193193 “Fines et summitates;” comp. Justin Mart., Dial. c. Tryph., 91.

194194 “Juvenis,” one in the prime of life.

195195 It has been usual in the Christian Church to reckon four commandments in the first table, and six in the second; but the above was the ancient Jewish division. See Joseph., Antiq., iii. 6.



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