Ante-nicene fathers



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2. Then, again, as to their assertion that the passion of the twelfth Aeon was proved through the conduct of Judas, how is it possible that Judas can be compared [with this Aeon] as being an emblem of her—he who was expelled from the number of the twelve,112 and never restored to his place? For that Aeon, whose type they declare Judas to be, after being separated from her Enthymesis, was restored or recalled [to her former position]; but Judas was deprived [of his office], and cast out, while Matthias was ordained in his place, according to what is written, “And his bishopric let another take.”113 They ought therefore to maintain that the twelfth Aeon was cast out of the Pleroma, and that another was produced, or sent forth to fill her place; if, that is to say, she is pointed at in Judas. Moreover, they tell us that it was the Aeon herself who suffered, but Judas was the betrayer, [and not the sufferer.] Even they themselves acknowledge that it was the suffering Christ, and not Judas, who came to [the endurance of] passion. How, then, could Judas, the betrayer of Him who had to suffer for our salvation, be the type and image of that Aeon who suffered?

3. But, in truth, the passion of Christ was neither similar to the passion of the Aeon, nor did it take place in similar circumstances. For the Aeon underwent a passion of dissolution and destruction, so that she who suffered was in danger also of being destroyed. But the Lord, our Christ, underwent a valid, and not a merely114 accidental passion; not only was He Himself not in danger of being destroyed, but He also established fallen man115 by His own strength, and recalled him to incorruption. The Aeon, again, underwent passion while she was seeking after the Father, and was notable to find Him; but the Lord suffered that He might bring those who have wandered from the Father, back to knowledge and to His fellowship. The search into the greatness of the Father became to her a passion leading to destruction; but the Lord, having suffered, and bestowing the knowledge of the Father, conferred on us salvation. Her passion, as they declare, gave origin to a female offspring, weak, infirm, unformed, and ineffective; but His passion gave rise to strength and power. For the Lord, through means of suffering, “ascending into the lofty place, led captivity captive, gave gifts to men,”116 and conferred on those that believe in Him the power “to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and on all the power of the enemy,”117 that is, of the leader of apostasy. Our Lord also by His passion destroyed death, and dispersed error, and put an end to corruption, and destroyed ignorance, while He manifested life and revealed truth, and bestowed the gift of incorruption. But their Aeon, when she had suffered, established118 ignorance, and brought forth a substance without shape, out of which all material works have been produced—death, corruption, error, and such like.

4. Judas, then, the twelfth in order of the disciples, was not a type of the suffering Aeon, nor, again, was the passion of the Lord; for these two things have been shown to be in every respect mutually dissimilar and inharmonious. This is the case not only as respects the points which I have already mentioned, but with regard to the very number. For that Judas the traitor is the twelfth in order, is agreed upon by all, there being twelve apostles mentioned by name in the Gospel. But this Aeon is not the twelfth, but the thirtieth; for, according to the views under consideration, there were not twelve Aeons only produced by the will of the Father, nor was she sent forth the twelfth in order: they reckon her, [on the contrary, ] as having been produced in the thirtieth place. How, then, can Judas, the twelfth in order, be the type and image of that Aeon who occupies the thirtieth place?

5. But if they say that Judas in perishing was the image of her Enthymesis, neither in this way will the image bear any analogy to that truth which [by hypothesis] corresponds to it. For the Enthymesis having been separated from the Aeon, and itself afterwards receiving a shape from Christ,119 then being made a partaker of intelligence by the Saviour, and having formed all things which are outside of the Pleroma, after the image of those which are within the Pleroma, is said at last to have been received by them into the Pleroma, and, according to [the principle of] conjunction, to have been united to that Saviour who was formed out of all. But Judas having been once for all cast away, never returns into the number of the disciples; otherwise a different person would not have been chosen to fill his place. Besides, the Lord also declared regarding him, “Woe to the man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed; ”120 and, “It were better for him if he had never been born; ”121 and he was called the “son of perdition”122 by Him. If, however, they say that Judas was a type of the Enthymesis, not as separated from the Aeon, but of the passion entwined with her, neither in this way can the number twelve be regarded as a [fitting] type of the number three. For in the one case Judas was cast away, and Matthias was ordained instead of him; but in the other case the Aeon is said to have been in danger of dissolution and destruction, and [there are also] her Enthymesis and passion: for they markedly distinguish Enthymesis from the passion; and they represent the Aeon as being restored, and Enthymesis as acquiring form, but the passion, when separated from these, as becoming matter. Since, therefore, there are thus these three, the Aeon, her Enthymesis, and her passion, Judas and Matthias, being only two, cannot be the types of them.

Chapter XXI.—The Twelve Apostles Were Not a Type of the Aeons.

1. If, again, they maintain that the twelve apostles were a type only of that group of twelve Aeons which Anthropos in conjunction with Ecclesia produced, then let them produce ten other apostles as a type of those ten remaining Aeons, who, as they declare, were produced by Logos and Zoe. For it is unreasonable to suppose that the junior, and for that reason inferior Aeons, were set forth by the Saviour through the election of the apostles, while their seniors, and on this account their superiors, were not thus foreshown; since the Saviour (if, that is to say, He chose the apostles with this view, that by means of them He might show forth the Aeons who are in the Pleroma) might have chosen other ten apostles also, and likewise other eight before these, that thus He might set forth the original and primary Ogdoad. He could not,123 in regard to the second [Duo] Decad, show forth [any emblem of it] through the number of the apostles being [already] constituted a type. For [He made choice of no such other number of disciples; but] after the twelve apostles, our Lord is found to have sent seventy others before Him.124 Now seventy cannot possibly be the type either of an Ogdoad, a Decad, or a Triacontad. What is the reason, then, that the inferior Aeons are, as I have said, represented by means of the apostles; but the superior, from whom, too, the former derived their being, are not prefigured at all? But if125 the twelve apostles were chosen with this object, that the number of the twelve Aeons might be indicated by means of them, then the seventy also ought to have been chosen to be the type of seventy Aeons; and in that case, they must affirm that the Aeons are no longer thirty, but eighty-two in number. For He who made choice of the apostles, that they might be a type of those Aeons existing in the Pleroma, would never have constituted them types of some and not of others; but by means of the apostles He would have tried to preserve an image and to exhibit a type of those Aeons that exist in the Pleroma.

2. Moreover we must not keep silence respecting Paul, but demand from them after the type of what Aeon that apostle has been handed down to us, unless perchance [they affirm that he is a representative] of the Saviour compounded of them [all], who derived his being from the collected gifts of the whole, and whom they term All Things, as having been formed out of them all. Respecting this being the poet Hesiod has strikingly expressed himself, styling him Pandora—that is, “The gift of all”—for this reason, that the best gift in the possession of all was centred in him. In describing these gifts the following account is given: Hermes (so126 he is called in the Greek language), AiJmulivou;127 te lovgou" kai; ejpivklopon h\qo" aujtou`" Kavtqeto (or to express this in the English128 language), “implanted words of fraud and deceit in their minds, and thievish habits,” for the purpose of leading foolish men astray, that such should believe their falsehoods. For their Mother—that is, Leto129secretly stirred them up (whence also she is called Leto,130 according to the meaning of the Greek word, because she secretly stirred up men), without the knowledge of the Demiurge, to give forth profound and unspeakable mysteries to itching ears.131 And not only did their Mother bring it about that this mystery should be declared by Hesiod; but very skilfully also by means of the lyric poet Pindar, when he describes to the Demiurge132 the case of Pelops, whose flesh was cut in pieces by the Father, and then collected and brought together, and compacted anew by all the gods,133 did she in this way indicate Pandora and these men having their consciences seared134 by her, declaring, as they maintain, the very same things, are [proved] of the same family and spirit as the others.

Chapter XXII.—The Thirty Aeons are Not Typified by the Fact that Christ Was Baptized in His Thirtieth Year: He Did Not Suffer in the Twelfth Month After His Baptism, But Was More Than Fifty Years Old When He Died.

1. I have shown that the number thirty fails them in every respect; too few Aeons, as they represent them, being at one time found within the Pleroma, and then again too many [to correspond with that number]. There are not, therefore, thirty Aeons, nor did the Saviour come to be baptized when He was thirty years old, for this reason, that He might show forth the thirty silent135 Aeons of their system, otherwise they must first of all separate and eject [the Saviour] Himself from the Pleroma of all. Moreover, they affirm that He suffered in the twelfth month, so that He continued to preach for one year after His baptism; and they endeavour to establish this point out of the prophet (for it is written, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of retribution”136 ), being truly blind, inasmuch as they affirm they have found out the mysteries of Bythus, yet not understanding that which is called by Isaiah the acceptable year of the Lord, nor the day of retribution. For the prophet neither speaks concerning a day which includes the space of twelve hours, nor of a year the length of which is twelve months. For even they themselves acknowledge that the prophets have very often expressed themselves in parables and allegories, and [are] not [to be understood] according to the mere sound of the words.

2. That, then, was called the day of retribution on which the Lord will render to every one according to his works—that is, the judgment. The acceptable year of the Lord, again, is this present time, in which those who believe Him are called by Him, and become acceptable to God—that is, the whole time from His advent onwards to the consummation [of all things], during which He acquires to Himself as fruits [of the scheme of mercy] those who are saved. For, according to the phraseology of the prophet, the day of retribution follows the [acceptable] year; and the prophet will be proved guilty of falsehood if the Lord preached only for a year, and if he speaks of it. For where is the day of retribution? For the year has passed, and the day of retribution has not yet come; but He still “makes His sun to rise upon the good and upon the evil, and sends rain upon the just and unjust.”137 And the righteous suffer persecution, are afflicted, and are slain, while sinners are possessed of abundance, and “drink with the sound of the harp and psaltery, but do not regard the works of the Lord.”138 But, according to the language [used by the prophet], they ought to be combined, and the day of retribution to follow the [acceptable] year. For the words are, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of retribution.” This present time, therefore, in which men are called and saved by the Lord, is properly understood to be denoted by “the acceptable year of the Lord; ”and there follows on this “the day of retribution,” that is, the judgment. And the time thus referred to is not called “a year” only, but is also named “a day” both by the prophet and by Paul, of whom the apostle, calling to mind the Scripture, says in the Epistle addressed to the Romans, “As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.”139 But here the expression “all the day long” is put for all this time during which we suffer persecution, and are killed as sheep. As then this day does not signify one which consists of twelve hours, but the whole time during which believers in Christ suffer and are put to death for His sake, so also the year there mentioned does not denote one which consists of twelve months, but the whole time of faith during which men hear and believe the preaching of the Gospel, and those become acceptable to God who unite themselves to Him.

3. But it is greatly to be wondered at, how it has come to pass that, while affirming that they have found out the mysteries of God, they have not examined the Gospels to ascertain how often after His baptism the Lord went up, at the time of the passover, to Jerusalem, in accordance with what was the practice of the Jews from every land, and every year, that they should assemble at this period in Jerusalem, and there celebrate the feast of the passover. First of all, after He had made the water wine at Cana of Galilee, He went up to the festival day of the passover, on which occasion it is written, “For many believed in Him, when they saw the signs which He did,”140 as John the disciple of the Lord records. Then, again, withdrawing Himself [from Judaea], He is found in Samaria; on which occasion, too, He convened with the Samaritan woman, and while at a distance, cured the son of the centurion by a word, saying, “Go thy way, thy son liveth.”141 Afterwards He went up, the second time, to observe the festival day of the passover142 in Jerusalem; on which occasion He cured the paralytic man, who had lain beside the pool thirty-eight years, bidding him rise, take up his couch, and depart. Again, withdrawing from thence to the other side of the sea of Tiberias,143 He there seeing a great crowd had followed Him, fed all that multitude with five loaves of bread, and twelve baskets of fragments remained over and above. Then, when He had raised Lazarus from the dead, and plots were formed against Him by the Pharisees, He withdrew to a city called Ephraim; and from that place, as it is written “He came to Bethany six days before the passover,”144 and going up from Bethany to Jerusalem, He there ate the passover, and suffered on the day following. Now, that these three occasions of the passover are not included within one year, every person whatever must acknowledge. And that the special month in which the passover was celebrated, and in which also the Lord suffered, was not the twelfth, but the first, those men who boast that they know all things, if they know not this, may learn it from Moses. Their explanation, therefore, both of the year and of the twelfth month has been proved false, and they ought to reject either their explanation or the Gospel; otherwise [this unanswerable question forces itself upon them], How is it possible that the Lord preached for one year only?

4. Being thirty years old when He came to be baptized, and then possessing the full age of a Master,145 He came to Jerusalem, so that He might be properly acknowledged146 by all as a Master. For He did not seem one thing while He was another, as those affirm who describe Him as being man only in appearance; but what He was, that He also appeared to be. Being a Master, therefore, He also possessed the age of a Master, not despising or evading any condition of humanity, nor setting aside in Himself that law which He had147 appointed for the human race, but sanctifying every age, by that period corresponding to it which belonged to Himself. For He came to save all through means of Himself—all, I say, who through Him are born again to God148 —infants,149 and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission; a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, and thus sanctifying them for the Lord. So likewise He was an old man for old men, that He might be a perfect Master for all, not merely as respects the setting forth of the truth, but also as regards age, sanctifying at the same time the aged also, and becoming an example to them likewise. Then, at last, He came on to death itself, that He might be “the first-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence,”150 the Prince of life,151 existing before all, and going before all.152

5. They, however, that they may establish their false opinion regarding that which is written, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,” maintain that He preached for one year only, and then suffered in the twelfth month. [In speaking thus], they are forgetful to their own disadvantage, destroying His whole work, and robbing Him of that age which is both more necessary and more honourable than any other; that more advanced age, I mean, during which also as a teacher He excelled all others. For how could He have had disciples, if He did not teach? And how could He have taught, unless He had reached the age of a Master? For when He came to be baptized, He had not yet completed His thirtieth year, but was beginning to be about thirty years of age (for thus Luke, who has mentioned His years, has expressed it: “Now Jesus was, as it were, beginning to be thirty years old,”153 when He came to receive baptism); and, [according to these men, ] He preached only one year reckoning from His baptism. On completing His thirtieth year He suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age. Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years,154 and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth andfiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information.155 And he remained among them up to the times of Trajan.156 Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the [validity of] the statement. Whom then should we rather believe? Whether such men as these, or Ptolemaeus, who never saw the apostles, and who never even in his dreams attained to the slightest trace of an apostle?

6. But, besides this, those very Jews who then disputed with the Lord Jesus Christ have most clearly indicated the same thing. For when the Lord said to them, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad,” they answered Him, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham? ”157 Now, such language is fittingly applied to one who has already passed the age of forty, without having as yet reached his fiftieth year, yet is not far from this latter period. But to one who is only thirty years old it would unquestionably be said, “Thou art not yet forty years old.” For those who wished to convict Him of falsehood would certainly not extend the number of His years far beyond the age which they saw He had attained; but they mentioned a period near His real age, whether they had truly ascertained this out of the entry in the public register, or simply made a conjecture from what they observed that He was above forty years old, and that He certainly was not one of only thirty years of age.For it is altogether unreasonable to suppose that they were mistaken by twenty years, when they wished to prove Him younger than the times of Abraham. For what they saw, that they also expressed; and He whom they beheld was not a mere phantasm, but an actual being158 of flesh and blood. He did not then wont much of being fifty years old;159 and, in accordance with that fact, they said to Him, “Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham? ”He did not therefore preach only for one year, nor did He suffer in the twelfth month of the year. For the period included between the thirtieth and the fiftieth year can never be regarded as one year, unless indeed, among their Aeons, there be so long years assigned to those who sit in their ranks with Bythus in the Pleroma; of which beings Homer the poet, too, has spoken, doubtless being inspired by the Mother of their [system of] error:—

OiJ de; qeoi; pu; r Zeni; kaqh`menoi hjgorovwnto

Crusevw/ ejn dapevdw/:160

which we may thus render into English:161 —“The gods sat round, while Jove presided o’er, And converse held upon the golden floor.”

Chapter XXIII.—The Woman Who Suffered from an Issue of Blood Was No Type of the Suffering Aeon.

1. Moreover, their ignorance comes out in a clear light with respect to the case of that woman who, suffering from an issue of blood, touched the hem of the Lord’s garment, and so was made whole; for they maintain that through her was shown forth that twelfth power who suffered passion, and flowed out towards immensity, that is, the twelfth Aeon. [This ignorance of theirs appears] first, because, as I have shown, according to their own system, that was not the twelfth Aeon. But even granting them this point [in the meantime], there being twelve Aeons, eleven of these are said to have continued impassible, while the twelfth suffered passion; but the woman, on the other hand, being healed in the twelfth year, it is manifest that she had continued to suffer during eleven years, and was healed in the twelfth. If indeed they were to say that eleven Aeons were involved in passion, but the twelfth one was healed, it would then be a plausible thing to say that the woman was a type of these. But since she suffered during eleven years, and [all that time] obtained no cure, but was healed in the twelfth year, in what way can she be a type of the twelfth of the Aeons, eleven of whom, [according to hypothesis, ] did not suffer at all, but the twelfth alone participated in suffering? For a type and emblem is, no doubt, sometimes diverse from the truth [signified] as to matter and substance; but it ought, as to the general form and features, to maintain a likeness [to what is typified], and in this way to shadow forth by means of things present those which are yet to come.

2. And not only in the case of this woman have the years of her infirmity (which they affirm to fit in with their figment) been mentioned, but, lo! another woman was also healed, after suffering in like manner for eighteen years; concerning whom the Lord said, “And ought not this daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound during eighteen years, to be set free on the Sabbath-day? ”162 If, then, the former was a type of the twelfth Aeon that suffered, the latter should also be a type of the eighteenth Aeon in suffering. But they cannot maintain this; otherwise their primary and original Ogdoad will be included in the number of Aeons who suffered together. Moreover, there was also a certain other person163 healed by the Lord, after he had suffered for eight-and-thirty years: they ought therefore to affirm that the Aeon who occupies the thirty-eighth place suffered. For if they assert that the things which were done by the Lord were types of what took place in the Pleroma, the type ought to be preserved throughout. But they can neither adapt to their fictitious system the case of her who was cured after eighteen years, nor of him who was cured after thirty-eight years. Now, it is in every way absurd and inconsistent to declare that the Saviour preserved the type in certain cases, while He did not do so in others. The type of the woman, therefore, [with the issue of blood] is shown to have no analogy to their system of Aeons.164




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