Ante-nicene fathers

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Chapter XIII.—The Deceitful Arts and Nefarious Practices of Marcus.

I. But159 there is another among these heretics, Marcus by name, who boasts himself as having improved upon his master. He is a perfect adept in magical impostures, and by this means drawing away a great number of men, and not a few women, he has induced them to join themselves to him, as to one who is possessed of the greatest knowledge and perfection, and who has received the highest power from the invisible and ineffable regions above. Thus it appears as if he really were the precursor of Antichrist. For, joining the buffooneries of Anaxilaus160 to the craftiness of the magi, as they are called, he is regarded by his senseless and cracked-brain followers as working miracles by these means.

2. Pretending161 to consecrate cups mixed with wine, and protracting to great length the word of invocation, he contrives to give them a purple and reddish colour, so that Charis,162 who is one of those that are superior to all things, should be thought to drop her own blood into that cup through means of his invocation, and that thus those who are present should be led to rejoice to taste of that cup, in order that, by so doing, the Charis, who is set forth by this magician, may also flow into them. Again, handing mixed cups to the women, he bids them consecrate these in his presence. When this has been done, he himself produces another cup of much larger size than that which the deluded woman has consecrated, ) and pouting from the smaller one consecrated by the woman into that which has been brought forward by himself, he at the same time pronounces these words: “May that Chaffs who is before all things, and who transcends all knowledge and speech, fill thine inner man, and multiply in thee her own knowledge, by sowing the grain of mustard seed in thee as in good soil.” Repeating certain other like words, and thus goading on the wretched woman [to madness], he then appears a worker of wonders when the large cup is seen to have been filled out of the small one, so as even to overflow by what has been obtained from it. By accomplishing several other similar things, he has completely deceived many, and drawn them away after him.

3. It appears probable enough that this man possesses a demon as his familiar spirit, by means of whom he seems able to prophesy,163 and also enables as many as he counts worthy to be partakers of his Charis themselves to prophesy. He devotes himself especially to women, and those such as are well-bred, and elegantly attired, and of great wealth, whom he frequently seeks to draw after him, by addressing them in such seductive words as these: “I am eager to make thee a partaker of my Charis, since the Father of all doth continually behold thy angel before His face. Now the place of thy angel is among us:164 it behoves us to become one. Receive first from me and by me [the gift of] Chaffs. Adorn thyself as a bride who is expecting her bridegroom, that thou mayest be what I am, and I what thou art. Establish the germ of light in thy nuptial chamber. Receive from me a spouse, and become receptive of him, while thou art received by him. Behold Charis has descended upon thee; open thy mouth and prophesy.” On the woman replying,” I have never at any time prophesied, nor do I know how to prophesy; ”then engaging, for the second time, in certain invocations, so as to astound his deluded victim, he says to her,” Open thy mouth, speak whatsoever occurs to thee, and thou shalt prophesy.” She then, vainly puffed up and elated by these words, and greatly excited in soul by the expectation that it is herself who is to prophesy, her heart beating violently [from emotion], reaches the requisite pitch of audacity, and idly as well as impudently utters some nonsense as it happens. to occur to her, such as might be expected from one heated by an empty spirit. (Referring to this, one superior to me has observed, that the soul is both audacious and impudent when heated with empty air.) Henceforth she reckons herself a prophetess, and expresses her thanks to Marcus for having imparted to her of his own Chaffs. She then makes the effort to reward him, not only by the gift of her possessions (in which way he has collected a very large fortune), but also by yielding up to him her person, desiring in every way to be united to him, that she may become altogether one with him.

4. But already some of the most faithful women, possessed of the fear of God, and not being deceived (whom, nevertheless, he did his best to seduce like the rest by bidding them prophesy), abhorring and execrating him, have withdrawn from such a vile company of revellers. This they have done, as being well aware that the gift of prophecy is not conferred on men by Marcus, the magician, but that only those to whom God sends His grace from above possess the divinely-bestowed power of prophesying; and then they speak where and when God pleases, and not when Marcus orders them to do so. For that which commands is greater and of higher authority than that which is commanded, inasmuch as the former rules, while the latter is in a state of subjection. If, then, Marcus, or any one else, does command,—as these are accustomed continually at their feasts to play at drawing lots, and [in accordance with the lot] to command one another to prophesy, giving forth as oracles what is in harmony with their own desires,—it will follow that he who commands is greater and of higher authority than the prophetic spirit, though he is but a man, which is impossible. But such spirits as are commanded by these men, and speak when they desire it, are earthly and weak, audacious and impudent, sent forth by Satan for the seduction and perdition of those who do not hold fast that well-compacted faith which they received at first through the Church.

5. Moreover, that this Marcus compounds philters and love-potions, in order to insult the persons of some of these women, if not of all, those of them who have returned to the Church of God—a thing which frequently occurs—have acknowledged, confessing, too, that they have been defiled by him, and that they were filled with a burning passion towards him. A sad example of this occurred in the case of a certain Asiatic, one of our deacons, who had received him (Marcus) into his house. His wife, a woman of remarkable beauty, fell a victim both in mind and body to this magician, and, for a long time, travelled about with him. At last, when, with no small difficulty, the brethren had converted her, she spent her whole time in the exercise of public confession,165 weeping over and lamenting the defilement which she had received from this magician.

6. Some of his disciples, too, addicting themselves166 to the same practices, have deceived many silly women, and defiled them. They proclaim themselves as being “perfect,” so that no one can be compared to them with respect to the immensity of their knowledge, nor even were you to mention Paul or Peter, or any other of the apostles. They assert that they themselves know more than all others, and that they alone have imbibed the greatness of the knowledge of that power which is unspeakable. They also maintain that they have attained to a height above all power, and that therefore they are free in every respect to act as they please, having no one to fear in anything. For they affirm, that because of the “Redemption”167 it has come to pass that they can neither be apprehended, nor even seen by the judge. But even if he should happen to lay hold upon them, then they might simply repeat these words, while standing in his presence along with the “Redemption: ”“O thou, who sittest beside God,168 and the mystical, eternal Sige, thou through whom the angels (mightiness), who continually behold the face of the Father, having thee as their guide and introducer, do derive their forms169 from above, which she in the greatness of her daring inspiring with mind on account of the goodness of the Propator, produced us as their images, having her mind then intent upon the things above, as in a dream,—behold, the judge is at hand, and the crier orders me to make my defence. But do thou, as being acquainted with the affairs of both, present the cause of both of us to the judge, inasmuch as it is in reality but one cause.”170 Now, as soon as the Mother hears these words, she puts the Homeric171 helmet of Pluto upon them, so that they may invisibly escape the judge. And then she immediately catches them up, conducts them into the bridal chamber, and hands them over to their consorts.

7. Such are the words and deeds by which, in our own district of the Rhone, they have deluded many women, who have their consciences seared as with a hot iron.172 Some of them, indeed, make a public confession of their sins; but others of them are ashamed to do this, and in a tacit kind of way, despairing of [attaining to] the life of God, have, some of them, apostatized altogether; while others hesitate between the two courses, and incur that which is implied in the proverb, “neither without nor within; ”possessing this as the fruit from the seed of the children of knowledge.

Chapter XIV.—The Various Hypotheses of Marcus and Others. Theories Respecting Letters and Syllables.

1. This Marcus173 then, declaring that he alone was the matrix and receptacle of the Sige of Colorbasus, inasmuch as he was only-begotten, has brought to the birth in some such way as follows that which was committed to him of the defective Enthymesis. He declares that the infinitely exalted Tetrad descended upon him from the invisible and indescribable places in the form of a woman (for the world could not have borne it coming in its male form), and expounded to him alone its own nature, and the origin of all things, which it had never before revealed to any one either of gods or men. This was done in the following terms: When first the unoriginated, inconceivable Father, who is without material substance,174 and is neither male nor female, willed to bring forth that which is ineffable to Him, and to endow with form that which is invisible, He opened His mouth, and sent forth the Word similar to Himself, who, standing near, showed Him what He Himself was, inasmuch as He had been manifested in the form of that which was invisible. Moreover, the pronunciation of His name took place as follows:—He spoke the first word of it, which was the beginning175 [of all the rest], and that utterance consisted of four letters. He added the second, and this also consisted of four letters. Next He uttered the third, and this again embraced ten letters. Finally, He pronounced the fourth, which was composed of twelve letters. Thus took place the enunciation of the whole name, consisting of thirty letters, and four distinct utterances. Each of these elements has its own peculiar letters, and character, and pronunciation, and forms, and images, and there is not one of them that perceives the shape of that [utterance] of which it is an element. Neither does any one know176 itself, nor is it acquainted with the pronunciation of its neighbour, but each one imagines that by its own utterance it does in fact name the whole. For while every one of them is a part of the whole, it imagines its own sound to be the whole name, and does not leave off sounding until, by its own utterance, it has reached the last letter of each of the elements. This teacher declares that the restitution of all things will take place, when all these, mixing into one letter, shall utter one and the same sound. He imagines that the emblem of this utterance is found in Amen, which we pronounce in concert.177 The diverse sounds (he adds) are those which give form to that Aeon who is without material substance and unbegotten, and these, again, are the forms which the Lord has called angels, who continually behold the face of the Father.178

2. Those names of the elements which may be told, and are common, he has called Aeons, and words, and roots, and seeds, and fulnesses, and fruits. He asserts that each of these, and all that is peculiar to every one of them, is to be understood as contained in the name Ecclesia. Of these elements, the last letter of the last one uttered its voice, and this sound179 going forth generated its own elements after the image of the [other] elements, by which he affirms, that both the things here below were arranged into the order they occupy, and those that preceded them were called into existence. He also maintains that the letter itself, the sound of which followed that sound below, was received up again by the syllable to which it belonged, in order to the completion of the whole, but that the sound remained below as if cast outside. But the element itself from which the letter with its special pronunciation descended to that below, he affirms to consist of thirty letters, while each of these letters, again, contains other letters in itself, by means of which the name of the letter is expressed. And thus, again, others are named by other letters, and others still by others, so that the multitude of letters swells out into infinitude. You may more clearly understand what I mean by the following example:—The word Delta contains five letters, viz., D, E, L, T, A: these letters again, are written by other letters,180 and others still by others. If, then, the entire composition of the word Delta [when thus analyzed] runs out into infinitude, letters continually generating other letters, and following one another in constant succession, how much raster than that [one] word is the [entire] ocean of letters! And if even one letter be thus infinite, just consider the immensity of the letters in the entire name; out of which the Sige of Marcus has taught us the Propator is composed. For which reason the Father, knowing the incomprehensibleness of His own nature, assigned to the elements which He also terms Aeons, [the power] of each one uttering its own enunciation, because no one of them was capable by itself of uttering the whole.

3.Moreover, the Tetrad, explaining these things to him more fully, said:—I wish to show thee Aletheia (Truth) herself; for I have brought her down from the dwellings above, that thou mayest see her without a veil, and understand her beauty—that thou mayest also hear her speaking, and admire her wisdom. Behold, then, her head on high, Alpha and Omega; her neck, Beta and Psi; her shoulders with her hands, Gamma and Chi; her breast, Delta and Phi; her diaphragm, Epsilon and Upsilon; her back, Zeta and Tau; her belly, Eta and Sigma; her thighs, Theta and Rho; her knees, Iota and Pi; her legs, Kappa and Omicron; her ankles, Lambda and Xi; her feet, Mu and Nu. Such is the body of Truth, according to this magician, such the figure of the element, such the character of the letter. And he calls this element Anthropos (Man), and says that is the fountain of all speech, and the beginning of all sound, and the expression of all that is unspeakable, and the mouth of the silent Sige. This indeed is the body of Truth. But do thou, elevating the thoughts of thy mind on high, listen from the mouth of Truth to the self-begotten Word, who is also the dispenser of the bounty of the Father.

4. When she (the Tetrad) had spoken these things, Aletheia looked at him, opened her mouth, and uttered a word. That word was a name, and the name was this one which we do know and speak of, viz., Christ Jesus. When she had uttered this name, she at once relapsed into silence. And as Marcus waited in the expectation that she would say something more, the Tetrad again came forward and said, “Thou hast reckoned as contemptible that word which thou hast heard from the mouth of Aletheia. This which thou knowest and seemest to possess, is not an ancient name. For thou possessest the sound of it merely, whilst thou art ignorant of its power. For Jesus (ÆIhsou`") is a name arithmetically181 symbolical, consisting of six letters, and is known by all those that belong to the called. But that which is among the Aeons of the Pleroma consists of many parts, and is of another form and shape, and is known by those [angels] who are joined in affinity with Him, and whose figures (mightinesses) are always present with Him.

5. Know, then, that the four-and-twenty letters which you possess are symbolical emanations of the three powers that contain the entire number of the elements above. For you are to reckon thus—that the nine mute182 letters are [the images] of Pater and Aletheia, because they are without voice, that is, of such a nature as cannot be uttered or pronounced. But the semi-vowels183 represent Logos and Zoe, because they are, as it were, midway between the consonants and the vowels, partaking184 of the nature of both. The vowels, again, are representative of Anthropos and Ecclesia, inasmuch as a voice proceeding from Anthropos gave being to them all; for the sound of the voice imparted to them form. Thus, then, Logos and Zoe possess eight [of these letters]; Anthropos and Ecclesia seven; and Pater and Aletheia nine. But since the number allotted to each was unequal, He who existed in the Father came down, having been specially sent by Him from whom He was separated, for the rectification of what had taken place, that the unity of the Pleromas, being endowed with equality, might develop in all that one power which flows from all. Thus that division which had only seven letters, received the power of eight,185 and the three sets were rendered alike in point of number, all becoming Ogdoads; which three, when brought together, constitute the number four-and-twenty. The three elements, too (which he declares to exist in conjunction with three powers,186 and thus form the six from which have flowed the twenty-four letters), being quadrupled by the word of the ineffable Tetrad, give rise to the same number with them; and these elements he maintains to belong to Him who cannot be named. These, again, were endowed by the three powers with a resemblance to Him who is invisible. And he says that those letters which we call double187 are the images of the images of these elements; and if these be added to the four-and-twenty letters, by the force of analogy they form the number thirty.

6. He asserts that the fruit of this arrangement and analogy has been manifested in the likeness of an image, namely, Him who, after six days, ascended188 into the mountain along with three others, and then became one of six (the sixth),189 in which character He descended and was contained in the Hebdomad, since He was the illustrious Ogdoad,190 and contained in Himself the entire number of the elements, which the descent of the dove (who is Alpha and Omega) made clearly manifest, when He came to be baptized; for the number of the dove is eight hundred and one.191 And for this reason did Moses declare that man was formed on the sixth day; and then, again, according to arrangement, it was on the sixth day, which is the preparation, that the last man appeared, for the regeneration of the first, Of this arrangement, both the beginning and the end were formed at that sixth hour, at which He was nailed to the tree. For that perfect being Nous, knowing that the number six had the power both of formation and regeneration, declared to the children of light, that regeneration which has been wrought out by Him who appeared as the Episemon in regard to that number. Whence also he declares it is that the double letters192 contain the Episemon number; for this Episemon, when joined to the twenty-four elements, completed the name of thirty letters.

7. He employed as his instrument, as the Sige of Marcus declares, the power of seven letters,193 in order that the fruit of the independent will [of Achamoth] might be revealed. “Consider this present Episemon,” she says—“Him who was formed after the [original] Episemon, as being, as it were, divided or cut into two parts, and remaining outside; who, by His own power and wisdom, through means of that which had been produced by Himself, gave life to this world, consisting of seven powers,194 after the likeness of the power of the Hebdomad, and so formed it, that it is the soul of everything visible. And He indeed uses this work Himself as if it had been formed by His own free will; but the rest, as being images of what cannot be [fully] imitated, are subservient to the Enthymesis of the mother. And the first heaven indeed pronounces Alpha, the next to this Epsilon, the third Eta, the fourth, which is also in the midst of the seven, utters the sound of Iota, the fifth Omicron, the sixth Upsilon, the seventh, which is also the fourth from the middle, utters the elegant Omega,”—as the Sige of Marcus, talking a deal of nonsense, but uttering no word of truth, confidently asserts. “And these powers,” she adds, “being all simultaneously clasped in each other’s embrace, do sound out the glory of Him by whom they were produced; and the glory of that sound is transmitted upwards to the Propator.” She asserts, moreover, that “the sound of this uttering of praise, having been wafted to the earth, has become the Framer and the Parent of those things which are on the earth.”

8. He instances, in proof of this, the case of infants who have just been born, the cry of whom, as soon as they have issued from the womb, is in accordance with the sound of every one of these elements. As, then, he says, the seven powers glorify the Word, so also does the complaining soul of infants.195 For this reason, too, David said: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise; ”196 and again: “The heavens declare the glory of God.”197 Hence also it comes to pass, that when the soul is involved in difficulties and distresses, for its own relief it calls out, “Oh” (W), in honour of the letter in question,198 so that its cognate soul above may recognise [its distress], and send down to it relief.

9. Thus it is, that in regard to the whole name,199 which consists of thirty letters, and Bythus, who receives his increase from the letters of this [name], and, moreover, the body of Aletheia, which is composed of twelve members, each of which consists of two letters, and the voice which she uttered without having spoken at all, and in regard to the analysis of that name which cannot be expressed in words, and the soul of the world and of man, according as they possess that arrangement, which is after the image [of things above], he has uttered his nonsensical opinions. It remains that I relate how the Tetrad showed him from the names a power equal in number; so that nothing, my friend, which I have received as spoken by him, may remain unknown to thee; and thus thy request, often proposed to me, may be fulfilled.

Chapter XV.—Sige Relates to Marcus the Generation of the Twenty-Four Elements and of Jesus. Exposure of These Absurdities.

1. The all-wise Sige then announced the production of the four-and-twenty elements to him as follows:—Along with Monotes there coexisted Henotes, from which sprang two productions, as we have remarked above, Monas and Hen, which, added to the other two, make four, for twice two are Four. And again, two and four, when added together, exhibit the number six. And further, these six being quadrupled, give rise to the twenty-four forms. And the names of the first Tetrad, which are understood to be most holy, and not capable of being expressed in words, are known by the Son alone, while the father also knows what they are. The other names which are to be uttered with respect, and faith, and reverence, are, according to him, Arrhetos and Sige, Pater and Aletheia. Now the entire number of this Tetrad amounts to four-and-twenty letters; for the name Arrhetos contains in itself seven letters, Seige200 five, Pater five, and Aletheia seven. If all these be added together—twice five, and twice seven—they complete the number twenty-four. In like manner, also, the second Tetrad, Logos and Zoe, Anthropos and Ecclesia, reveal the same number of elements. Moreover, that name of the Saviour which may be pronounced, viz., Jesus [ÆIhsou`", consists of six letters, but His unutterable name comprises for-and-twenty letters. The name Christ the Son201 (uiJo; " Creistov") comprises twelve letter, but that which is unpronounceable in Christ contains thirty letters. And for this reason he declares that fie is Alpha and Omega, that he may indicate the dove, inasmuch as that bird has this number [in its name].

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