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Home > Fathers of the Church > Against Heresies (St. Irenaeus) > Book II, Chapter 23

Against Heresies (Book II, Chapter 23)

The woman who suffered from an issue of blood was no type of the suffering Æon.

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 Æon. [This ignorance of theirs appears] first, because, as I have shown, according to their own system, that was not the twelfth Æon. But even granting them this point [in the meantime], there being twelve Æons, 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 Æons 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 Æons, 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? Luke 13:16 If, then, the former was a type of the twelfth Æon that suffered, the latter should also be a type of the eighteenth Æon in suffering. But they cannot maintain this; otherwise their primary and original Ogdoad will be included in the number of Æons who suffered together. Moreover, there was also a certain other person John 5:5 healed by the Lord, after he had suffered for eight-and-thirty years: they ought therefore to affirm that the Æon 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 Æons.

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Source. Translated by Alexander Roberts and William Rambaut. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103223.htm>.

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