The sixth and also the seventh Miscellany of gnostic notes, in accordance with the true philosophy, having delineated as well as possible the ethical argument conveyed in them, and having exhibited what the Gnostic is in his life, proceed to show the philosophers that he is by no means impious, as they suppose, but that he alone is truly pious, by a compendious exhibition of the Gnostic's form of religion, as far as it is possible, without danger, to commit it to writing in a book of reference. For the Lord enjoined
to labour for the meat which endures to eternity. John 6:27 And the prophet says,
Blessed is he that sows into all waters, whose ox and ass tread, Isaiah 32:20 [that is,] the people, from the Law and from the Gentiles, gathered into one faith.
Now the weak eats herbs, according to the noble apostle. Romans 14:2 The Instructor, divided by us into three books, has already exhibited the training and nurture up from the state of childhood, that is, the course of life which from elementary instruction grows by faith; and in the case of those enrolled in the number of men, prepares beforehand the soul, endued with virtue, for the reception of gnostic knowledge. The Greeks, then, clearly learning, from what shall be said by us in these pages, that in profanely persecuting the God-loving man, they themselves act impiously; then, as the notes advance, in accordance with the style of the Miscellanies, we must solve the difficulties raised both by Greeks and Barbarians with respect to the coming of the Lord.
In a meadow the flowers blooming variously, and in a park the plantations of fruit trees, are not separated according to their species from those of other kinds. If some, culling varieties, have composed learned collections, Meadows, and Helicons, and Honeycombs, and Robes; then, with the things which come to recollection by haphazard, and are expurgated neither in order nor expression, but purposely scattered, the form of the Miscellanies is promiscuously variegated like a meadow. And such being the case, my notes shall serve as kindling sparks; and in the case of him, who is fit for knowledge, if he chance to fall in with them, research made with exertion will turn out to his benefit and advantage. For it is right that labour should precede not only food but also, much more knowledge, in the case of those that are advancing to the eternal and blessed salvation by the
strait and narrow way, which is truly the Lord's.
Our knowledge, and our spiritual garden, is the Saviour Himself; into whom we are planted, being transferred and transplanted, from our old life, into the good land. And transplanting contributes to fruitfulness. The Lord, then, into whom we have been transplanted, is the Light and the true Knowledge.
Now knowledge is otherwise spoken of in a twofold sense: that, commonly so called, which appears in all men (similarly also comprehension and apprehension), universally, in the knowledge of individual objects; in which not only the rational powers, but equally the irrational, share, which I would never term knowledge, inasmuch as the apprehension of things through the senses comes naturally. But that which par excellence is termed knowledge, bears the impress of judgment and reason, in the exercise of which there will be rational cognitions alone, applying purely to objects of thought, and resulting from the bare energy of the soul.
He is a good man, says David,
who pities (those ruined through error),
and lends (from the communication of the word of truth) not at haphazard, for
he will dispense his words in judgment: with profound calculation,
he has dispersed, he has given to the poor.
Before handling the point proposed, we must, by way of preface, add to the close of the fifth book what is wanting. For since we have shown that the symbolic style was ancient, and was employed not only by our prophets, but also by the majority of the ancient Greeks, and by not a few of the rest of the Gentile Barbarians, it was requisite to proceed to the mysteries of the initiated. I postpone the elucidation of these till we advance to the confutation of what is said by the Greeks on first principles; for we shall show that the mysteries belong to the same branch of speculation. And having proved that the declaration of Hellenic thought is illuminated all round by the truth, bestowed on us in the Scriptures, taking it according to the sense, we have proved, not to say what is invidious, that the theft of the truth passed to them.
Come, and let us adduce the Greeks as witnesses against themselves to the theft. For, inasmuch as they pilfer from one another, they establish the fact that they are thieves; and although against their will, they are detected, clandestinely appropriating to those of their own race the truth which belongs to us. For if they do not keep their hands from each other, they will hardly do it from our authors. I shall say nothing of philosophic dogmas, since the very persons who are the authors of the divisions into sects, confess in writing, so as not to be convicted of ingratitude, that they have received from Socrates the most important of their dogmas. But after availing myself of a few testimonies of men most talked of, and of repute among the Greeks, and exposing their plagiarizing style, and selecting them from various periods, I shall turn to what follows.
Orpheus, then, having composed the line:—
Since nothing else is more shameless and wretched than woman,
Homer plainly says:—
Since nothing else is more dreadful and shameless than a woman.
And Musæus having written:—
Since art is greatly superior to strength,—
By art rather than strength is the woodcutter greatly superior.
Again, Musæus having composed the lines:—
And as the fruitful field produces leaves,—
And on the ash trees some fade, others grow,
So whirls the race of man its leaf,
Some of the leaves the wind scatters on the ground.
The budding wood bears some; in time of spring,
They come. So springs one race of men, and one departs.
Again, Homer having said:—
It is unholy to exult over dead men,
Archilochus and Cratinus write, the former:—
It is not noble at dead men to sneer;
and Cratinus in the Lacones:—
For men 'tis dreadful to exult
Much o'er the stalwart dead.
Again, Archilochus, transferring that Homeric line:—
I erred, nor say I nay: instead of many—
I erred, and this mischief has somehow seized another.
As certainly also that line:—
Even-handed war the slayer slays.
He also, altering, has given forth thus:—
I will do it.
For Mars to men in truth is evenhanded.
Also, translating the following:—
The issues of victory among men depend on the gods,
he openly encourages youth, in the following iambic:—
Victory's issues on the gods depend.
Again, Homer having said:—
With feet unwashed sleeping on the ground,
Euripides writes in Erechtheus:—
Upon the plain spread with no couch they sleep,
Nor in the streams of water lave their feet.
Archilochus having likewise said:—
But one with this and one with that—
His heart delights,
in correspondence with the Homeric line:—
For one in these deeds, one in those delights,—
Euripides says in Œneus:—
But one in these ways, one in those, has more delight.
And I have heard Æschylus saying:—
He who is happy ought to stay at home;
There should he also stay, who speeds not well.
And Euripides, too, shouting the like on the stage:—
Happy the man who, prosperous, stays at home.
Menander, too, on comedy, saying:—
He ought at home to stay, and free remain,
Or be no longer rightly happy.
Again, Theognis having said:—
The exile has no comrade dear and true,—
Euripides has written:—
Far from the poor flies every friend.
And Epicharmus, saying:—
Daughter, woe worth the day!
You who are old I marry to a youth;
For the young husband takes some other girl,—
And for another husband longs the wife,
'Tis bad to yoke an old wife to a youth;
For he desires to share another's bed,
And she, by him deserted, mischief plots.
Euripides having, besides, said in the Medea:—
For no good do a bad man's gifts,—
Sophocles in Ajax Flagellifer utters this iambic:—
For foes' gifts are no gifts, nor any boon.
Solon having written:—
For surfeit insolence begets,
When store of wealth attends.
Theognis writes in the same way:—
For surfeit insolence begets,
When store of wealth attends the bad.
Whence also Thucydides, in the Histories, says:
Many men, to whom in a great degree, and in a short time, unlooked-for prosperity comes, are wont to turn to insolence. And Philistus likewise imitates the same sentiment, expressing himself thus:
And the many things which turn out prosperously to men, in accordance with reason, have an incredibly dangerous tendency to misfortune. For those who meet with unlooked success beyond their expectations, are for the most part wont to turn to insolence. Again, Euripides having written:—
For children sprung of parents who have led
A hard and toilsome life, superior are;
For I begin with a man's origin: how far the best and strongest in body will he be, if his father exercises himself, and eats in a hardy way, and subjects his body to toilsome labour; and if the mother of the future child be strong in body, and give herself exercise.
Again, Homer having said of the Hephæstus-made shield:—
Upon it earth and heaven and sea he made,
And Ocean's rivers' mighty strength portrayed,
Pherecydes of Syros says:—
Zas makes a cloak large and beautiful, and works on it earth and Ogenus, and the palace of Ogenus.
And Homer having said:—
Shame, which greatly hurts a man or helps,—
Euripides writes in Erechtheus:—
Of shame I find it hard to judge;
'Tis needed. 'Tis at times a great mischief.
Take, by way of parallel, such plagiarisms as the following, from those who flourished together, and were rivals of each other. From the Orestes of Euripides:—
Dear charm of sleep, aid in disease.
From the Eriphyle of Sophocles:—
Hie you to sleep, healer of that disease.
And from the Antigone of Sophocles:—
Bastardy is opprobrious in name; but the nature is equal;
And from the Aleuades of Sophocles:—
Each good thing has its nature equal.
Again, in the Ctimenus of Euripides:—
For him who toils, God helps;
And in the Minos of Sophocles;
To those who act not, fortune is no ally;
And from the Alexander of Euripides:—
But time will show; and learning, by that test,
I shall know whether you are good or bad;
And from the Hipponos of Sophocles:—
Besides, conceal nothing; since Time,
That sees all, hears all, all things will unfold.
But let us similarly run over the following; for Eumelus having composed the line,
Of Memory and Olympian Zeus the daughters nine,
Solon thus begins the elegy:—
Of Memory and Olympian Zeus the children bright.
Again, Euripides, paraphrasing the Homeric line:—
What, whence are you? Your city and your parents, where?
employs the following iambics in Ægeus:—
What country shall we say that you have left
To roam in exile, what your land— the bound
Of your own native soil? Who you begot?
And of what father do you call yourself the son?
And what? Theognis having said:—
Wine largely drunk is bad; but if one use—
It with discretion, 'tis not bad, but good,
does not Panyasis write?
Above the gods' best gift to men ranks wine,
In measure drunk; but in excess the worst.
Hesiod, too, saying:—
But for the fire to you I'll give a plague,—
For all men to delight themselves withal,
And for the fire
Another fire greater and unconquerable,
Sprung up in the shape of women
And in addition, Homer, saying:—
There is no satiating the greedy paunch,
Baneful, which many plagues has caused to men.
Dire need and baneful paunch me overcome;
From which all evils come.
Besides, Callias the comic poet having written:—
With madmen, all men must be mad, they say,—
Menander, in the Poloumenoi, expresses himself similarly, saying:—
The presence of wisdom is not always suitable:
One sometimes must with others play the fool.
And Antimachus of Teos having said:—
From gifts, to mortals many ills arise,—
Augias composed the line:—
For gifts men's mind and acts deceive.
And Hesiod having said:—
Than a good wife, no man a better thing—
Ere gained; than a bad wife, a worse,
A better prize than a good wife no man
Ere gained, than a bad one nought worse.
Again, Epicharmas having said:—
As destined long to live, and yet not long,—
Think of yourself.
Why? Seeing the wealth we have uncertain is,
Why don't we live as free from care, as pleasant
As we may?
Similarly also, the comic poet Diphilus having said:—
The life of men is prone to change,—
No man of mortal mould his life has passed
From suffering free. Nor to the end again
Has continued prosperous.
Similarly speaks to you Plato, writing of man as a creature subject to change. Again, Euripides having said:—
Oh life to mortal men of trouble full,—
How slippery in everything are you!
Now you grow, and now you decay away.
And there is set no limit, no, not one,
For mortals of their course to make an end,
Except when Death's remorseless final end
Comes, sent from Zeus,
There is no life which has not its own ills,
Pains, cares, thefts, and anxieties, disease;
And Death, as a physician, coming, gives
Rest to their victims in his quiet sleep.
Furthermore, Euripides having said:—
Many are fortune's shapes,—
And many things contrary to expectation the gods perform,
The tragic poet Theodectes similarly writes:—
The instability of mortals' fates.
And Bacchylides having said:—
To few alone of mortals is it given—
To reach hoary age, being prosperous all the while,
And not meet with calamities,
Moschion, the comic poet, writes:—
But he of all men is most blest,
Who leads throughout an equal life.
And you will find that, Theognis having said:—
For no advantage to a man grown old—
A young wife is, who will not, as a ship
The helm, obey,
Aristophanes, the comic poet, writes:—
An old man to a young wife suits but ill.
For Anacreon, having written:—
Luxurious love I sing,
With flowery garlands graced,
He is of gods the king,
He mortal men subdues,—
But not to protract the discourse further, in our anxiety to show the propensity of the Greeks to plagiarism in expressions and dogmas, allow us to adduce the express testimony of Hippias, the sophist of Elea, who discourses on the point in hand, and speaks thus:
Of these things some perchance are said by Orpheus, some briefly by Musæus; some in one place, others in other places; some by Hesiod, some by Homer, some by the rest of the poets; and some in prose compositions, some by Greeks, some by Barbarians. And I from all these, placing together the things of most importance and of kindred character, will make the present discourse new and varied.
And in order that we may see that philosophy and history, and even rhetoric, are not free of a like reproach, it is right to adduce a few instances from them. For Alcmæon of Crotona having said,
It is easier to guard against a man who is an enemy than a friend, Sophocles wrote in the Antigone:—
For what sore more grievous than a bad friend?
And Xenophon said:
No man can injure enemies in any way other than by appearing to be a friend.
And Euripides having said in Telephus:—
Shall we Greeks be slaves to Barbarians?—
Thrasymachus, in the oration for the Larissæans, says:
Shall we be slaves to Archelaus— Greeks to a Barbarian?
And Orpheus having said:—
and Heraclitus, putting together the expressions from these lines, writes thus:—
And Athamas the Pythagorean having said,
Thus was produced the beginning of the universe; and there are four roots— fire, water, air, earth: for from these is the origination of what is produced,— Empedocles of Agrigentum wrote:—
The four roots of all things first do you hear—
Fire, water, earth, and ether's boundless height:
For of these all that was, is, shall be, comes.
Whom the gods love, dies young.
And Euripides having written in the Œnomaus:—
We judge of things obscure from what we see;
and in the Phœnix:—
By signs the obscure is fairly grasped,—
But we must investigate things unseen by learning from signs and probabilities. And Isocrates having said,
We must conjecture the future by the past, Andocides does not shrink from saying,
For we must make use of what has happened previously as signs in reference to what is to be. Besides, Theognis having said:—
The evil of counterfeit silver and gold is not intolerable,—
O Cyrnus, and to a wise man is not difficult of detection;
But if the mind of a friend is hidden in his breast,
If he is false, and has a treacherous heart within,
This is the basest thing for mortals, caused by God,
And of all things the hardest to detect,
Oh Zeus, why have you given to men clear tests
Of spurious gold, while on the body grows
No mark sufficing to discover clear
The wicked man?
Hyperides himself also says,
There is no feature of the mind impressed on the countenance of men.
Again, Stasinus having composed the line:—
Fool, who, having slain the father, leaves the children,—
For I seem to myself to have acted in like manner, as if one who killed the father should spare his children. And Sophocles having written in the Antigone:—
Mother and father being in Hades now,—
No brother ever can to me spring forth,
Mother and father being no more, I shall not have another brother. In addition to these, Theopompus having written:—
Twice children are old men in very truth;
And before him Sophocles in Peleus:—
Peleus, the son of Æacus, I, sole housekeeper,—
Guide, old as he is now, and train again,
For the aged man is once again a child,
Antipho the orator says,
For the nursing of the old is like the nursing of children. Also the philosopher Plato says,
The old man then, as seems, will be twice a child. Further, Thucydides having said,
We alone bore the brunt at Marathon, — Demosthenes said,
By those who bore the brunt at Marathon. Nor will I omit the following. Cratinus having said in the Pytine: —
The preparation perchance you know,
Andocides the orator says,
The preparation, gentlemen of the jury, and the eagerness of our enemies, almost all of you know. Similarly also Nicias, in the speech on the deposit, against Lysias, says,
The preparation and the eagerness of the adversaries, you see, O gentlemen of the jury. After him Æschines says,
You see the preparation, O men of Athens, and the line of battle. Again, Demosthenes having said,
What zeal and what canvassing, O men of Athens, have been employed in this contest, I think almost all of you are aware; and Philinus similarly,
What zeal, what forming of the line of battle, gentlemen of the jury, have taken place in this contest, I think not one of you is ignorant. Isocrates, again, having said,
As if she were related to his wealth, not him, Lysias says in the Orphics,
And he was plainly related not to the persons, but to the money. Since Homer also having written:—
O friend, if in this war, by taking flight,—
We should from age and death exemption win,
I would not fight among the first myself,
Nor would I send you to the glorious fray;
But now— for myriad fates of death attend
In any case, which man may not escape
Or shun— come on. To some one we shall bring
Renown, or some one shall to us,
For if, by avoiding the present danger, we were to pass the rest of our time in security, to show love of life would not be wonderful. But now, so many fatalities are incident to life, that death in battle seems preferable. And what? Child the sophist having uttered the apophthegm,
Become surety, and mischief is at hand, did not Epicharmus utter the same sentiment in other terms, when he said,
Suretyship is the daughter of mischief, and loss that of suretyship? Further, Hippocrates the physician having written,
You must look to time, and locality, and age, and disease, Euripides says in Hexameters: —
Those who the healing art would practice well,
Must study people's modes of life, and note
The soil, and the diseases so consider.
Homer again, having written:—
I say no mortal man can doom escape,—
All men are bound to die either sooner or later; and Demosthenes,
To all men death is the end of life, though one should keep himself shut up in a coop.
And Herodotus, again, having said, in his discourse about Glaucus the Spartan, that the Pythian said,
In the case of the Deity, to say and to do are equivalent, Aristophanes said:—
For to think and to do are equivalent.
And before him, Parmenides of Elea said:—
For thinking and being are the same.
And Plato having said,
And we shall show, not absurdly perhaps, that the beginning of love is sight; and hope diminishes the passion, memory nourishes it, and intercourse preserves it; does not Philemon the comic poet write:—
First all see, then admire;
Then gaze, then come to hope;
And thus arises love?
Further, Demosthenes having said,
For to all of us death is a debt, and so forth, Phanocles writes in Loves, or The Beautiful:—
But from the Fates' unbroken thread escape
Is none for those that feed on earth.
You will also find that Plato having said,
For the first sprout of each plant, having got a fair start, according to the virtue of its own nature, is most powerful in inducing the appropriate end; the historian writes,
Further, it is not natural for one of the wild plants to become cultivated, after they have passed the earlier period of growth; and the following of Empedocles:—
For I already have been boy and girl,—
And bush, and bird, and mute fish in the sea,
Euripides transcribes in Chrysippus:—
But nothing dies
Of things that are; but being dissolved,
One from the other,
Shows another form.
For common, then, is woman's bed.
Further, Euripides having written:—
For to the temperate enough sufficient is—
Epicurus expressly says,
Sufficiency is the greatest riches of all.
Again, Aristophanes having written:—
Life you securely shall enjoy, being just—
And free from turmoil, and from fear live well,
The greatest fruit of righteousness is tranquillity.
Let these species, then, of Greek plagiarism of sentiments, being such, stand as sufficient for a clear specimen to him who is capable of perceiving.
And not only have they been detected pirating and paraphrasing thoughts and expressions, as will be shown; but they will also be convicted of the possession of what is entirely stolen. For stealing entirely what is the production of others, they have published it as their own; as Eugamon of Cyrene did the entire book on the Thesprotians from Musæus, and Pisander of Camirus the Heraclea of Pisinus of Lindus, and Panyasis of Halicarnassus, the capture of Œchalia from Cleophilus of Samos.
You will also find that Homer, the great poet, took from Orpheus, from the Disappearance of Dionysus, those words and what follows verbatim:—
As a man trains a luxuriant shoot of olive.
And in the Theogony, it is said by Orpheus of Kronos:—
He lay, his thick neck bent aside; and him
All-conquering Sleep had seized.
These Homer transferrred to the Cyclops. And Hesiod writes of Melampous:—
Gladly to hear, what the immortals have assigned
To men, the brave from cowards clearly marks;
and so forth, taking it word for word from the poet Musæus.
And Aristophanes the comic poet has, in the first of the Thesmophoriazusæ, transferred the words from the Empiprameni of Cratinus. And Plato the comic poet, and Aristophanes in Dædalus, steal from one another. Cocalus, composed by Araros, the son of Aristophanes, was by the comic poet Philemon altered, and made into the comedy called Hypobolimœns.
Eumelus and Acusilaus the historiographers changed the contents of Hesiod into prose, and published them as their own. Gorgias of Leontium and Eudemus of Naxus, the historians, stole from Melesagoras. And, besides, there is Bion of Proconnesus, who epitomized and transcribed the writings of the ancient Cadmus, and Archilochus, and Aristotle, and Leandrus, and Hellanicus, and Hecatæus, and Androtion, and Philochorus. Dieuchidas of Megara transferred the beginning of his treatise from the Deucalion of Hellanicus. I pass over in silence Heraclitus of Ephesus, who took a very great deal from Orpheus.
From Pythagoras Plato derived the immortality of the soul; and he from the Egyptians. And many of the Platonists composed books, in which they show that the Stoics, as we said in the beginning, and Aristotle, took the most and principal of their dogmas from Plato. Epicurus also pilfered his leading dogmas from Democritus. Let these things then be so. For life would fail me, were I to undertake to go over the subject in detail, to expose the selfish plagiarism of the Greeks, and how they claim the discovery of the best of their doctrines, which they have received from us.
And now they are convicted not only of borrowing doctrines from the Barbarians, but also of relating as prodigies of Hellenic mythology the marvels found in our records, wrought through divine power from above, by those who led holy lives, while devoting attention to us. And we shall ask at them whether those things which they relate are true or false. But they will not say that they are false; for they will not with their will condemn themselves of the very great silliness of composing falsehoods, but of necessity admit them to be true. And how will the prodigies enacted by Moses and the other prophets any longer appear to them incredible? For the Almighty God, in His care for all men, turns some to salvation by commands, some by threats, some by miraculous signs, some by gentle promises.
Well, the Greeks, when once a drought had wasted Greece for a protracted period, and a dearth of the fruits of the earth ensued, it is said, those that survived of them, having, because of the famine, come as suppliants to Delphi, asked the Pythian priestess how they should be released from the calamity. She announced that the only help in their distress was, that they should avail themselves of the prayers of Æacus. Prevailed on by them, Æacus, ascending the Hellenic hill, and stretching out pure hands to heaven, and invoking the common God, besought him to pity wasted Greece. And as he prayed, thunder sounded, out of the usual course of things, and the whole surrounding atmosphere was covered with clouds. And impetuous and continued rains, bursting down, filled the whole region. The result was a copious and rich fertility wrought by the husbandry of the prayers of Æacus.
And Samuel called on the Lord, it is said,
and the Lord gave forth His voice, and rain in the day of harvest. 1 Samuel 11:18 Do you see that
He who sends His rain on the just and on the unjust Matthew 5:45 by the subject powers is the one God? And the whole of our Scripture is full of instances of God, in reference to the prayers of the just, hearing and performing each one of their petitions.
Again, the Greeks relate, that in the case of a failure once of the Etesian winds, Aristæus once sacrificed in Ceus to Isthmian Zeus. For there was great devastation, everything being burnt up with the heat in consequence of the winds which had been wont to refresh the productions of the earth, not blowing, and he easily called them back.
And at Delphi, on the expedition of Xerxes against Greece, the Pythian priestess having made answer:—
O Delphians, pray the winds, and it will be better,—
they having erected an altar and performed sacrifice to the winds, had them as their helpers. For, blowing violently around Cape Sepias, they shivered the whole preparations of the Persian expedition. Empedocles of Agrigentum was called
Checker of Winds. Accordingly it is said, that when, on a time, a wind blew from the mountain of Agrigentum, heavy and pestiferous for the inhabitants, and the cause also of barrenness to their wives, he made the wind to cease. Wherefore he himself writes in the lines:—
You shall the might of the unwearied winds make still,
Which rushing to the earth spoil mortals' crops,
And at your will bring back the avenging blasts.
And they say that he was followed by some that used divinations, and some that had been long vexed by sore diseases. They plainly, then, believed in the performance of cures, and signs and wonders, from our Scriptures. For if certain powers move the winds and dispense showers, let them hear the psalmist:
How amiable are your tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! This is the Lord of powers, and principalities, and authorities, of whom Moses speaks; so that we may be with Him.
And you shall circumcise your hard heart, and shall not harden your neck any more. For He is Lord of lords and God of gods, the great God and strong, Deuteronomy 10:16-17 unit so forth. And Isaiah says,
Lift your eyes to the height, and see who has produced all these things. Isaiah 40:26
And some say that plagues, and hail-storms, and tempests, and the like, are wont to take place, not alone in consequence of material disturbance, but also through anger of demons and bad angels. For instance, they say that the Magi at Cleone, watching the phenomena of the skies, when the clouds are about to discharge hail, avert the threatening of wrath by incantations and sacrifices. And if at any time there is the want of an animal, they are satisfied with bleeding their own finger for a sacrifice. The prophetess Diotima, by the Athenians offering sacrifice previous to the pestilence, effected a delay of the plague for ten years. The sacrifices, too, of Epimenides of Crete, put off the Persian war for an equal period. And it is considered to be all the same whether we call these spirits gods or angels. And those skilled in the matter of consecrating statues, in many of the temples have erected tombs of the dead, calling the souls of these Dæmons, and teaching them to be worshipped by men; as having, in consequence of the purity of their life, by the divine foreknowledge, received the power of wandering about the space around the earth in order to minister to men. For they knew that some souls were by nature kept in the body. But of these, as the work proceeds, in the treatise on the angels, we shall discourse.
Democritus, who predicted many things from observation of celestial phenomena, was called
Wisdom (Σοφία). On his meeting a cordial reception from his brother Damasus, he predicted that there would be much rain, judging from certain stars. Some, accordingly, convinced by him, gathered their crops; for being in summer-time, they were still on the threshing-floor. But others lost all, unexpected and heavy showers having burst down.
How then shall the Greeks any longer disbelieve the divine appearance on Mount Sinai, when the fire burned, consuming none of the things that grew on the mount; and the sound of trumpets issued forth, breathed without instruments? For that which is called the descent on the mount of God is the advent of divine power, pervading the whole world, and proclaiming
the light that is inaccessible. 1 Timothy 6:16
For such is the allegory, according to the Scripture. But the fire was seen, as Aristobulus says, while the whole multitude, amounting to not less than a million, besides those under age, were congregated around the mountain, the circuit of the mount not being less than five days' journey. Over the whole place of the vision the burning fire was seen by them all encamped as it were around; so that the descent was not local. For God is everywhere.
Now the compilers of narratives say that in the island of Britain there is a cave situated under a mountain, and a chasm on its summit; and that, accordingly, when the wind falls into the cave, and rushes into the bosom of the cleft, a sound is heard like cymbals clashing musically. And often in the woods, when the leaves are moved by a sudden gust of wind, a sound is emitted like the song of birds.
Those also who composed the Persics relate that in the uplands, in the country of the Magi, three mountains are situated on an extended plain, and that those who travel through the locality, on coming to the first mountain, hear a confused sound as of several myriads shouting, as if in battle array; and on reaching the middle one, they hear a clamour louder and more distinct; and at the end hear people singing a pæan, as if victorious. And the cause, in my opinion, of the whole sound, is the smoothness and cavernous character of the localities; and the air, entering in, being sent back and going to the same point, sounds with considerable force. Let these things be so. But it is possible for God Almighty, even without a medium, to produce a voice and vision through the ear, showing that His greatness has a natural order beyond what is customary, in order to the conversion of the hitherto unbelieving soul, and the reception of the commandment given. But there being a cloud and a lofty mountain, how is it not possible to hear a different sound, the wind moving by the active cause? Wherefore also the prophet says,
You heard the voice of words, and saw no similitude. Deuteronomy 4:12 You see how the Lord's voice, the Word, without shape, the power of the Word, the luminous word of the Lord, the truth from heaven, from above, coming to the assembly of the Church, wrought by the luminous immediate ministry.
We shall find another testimony in confirmation, in the fact that the best of the philosophers, having appropriated their most excellent dogmas from us, boast, as it were, of certain of the tenets which pertain to each sect being culled from other Barbarians, chiefly from the Egyptians— both other tenets, and that especially of the transmigration of the soul. For the Egyptians pursue a philosophy of their own. This is principally shown by their sacred ceremonial. For first advances the Singer, bearing some one of the symbols of music. For they say that he must learn two of the books of Hermes, the one of which contains the hymns of the gods, the second the regulations for the king's life. And after the Singer advances the Astrologer, with a horologe in his hand, and a palm, the symbols of astrology. He must have the astrological books of Hermes, which are four in number, always in his mouth. Of these, one is about the order of the fixed stars that are visible, and another about the conjunctions and luminous appearances of the sun and moon; and the rest respecting their risings. Next in order advances the sacred Scribe, with wings on his head, and in his hand a book and rule, in which were writing ink and the reed, with which they write. And he must be acquainted with what are called hieroglyphics, and know about cosmography and geography, the position of the sun and moon, and about the five planets; also the description of Egypt, and the chart of the Nile; and the description of the equipment of the priests and of the places consecrated to them, and about the measures and the things in use in the sacred rites. Then the Stole-keeper follows those previously mentioned, with the cubit of justice and the cup for libations. He is acquainted with all points called Pædeutic (relating to training) and Moschophatic (sacrificial). There are also ten books which relate to the honour paid by them to their gods, and containing the Egyptian worship; as that relating to sacrifices, first-fruits, hymns, prayers, processions, festivals, and the like. And behind all walks the Prophet, with the water-vase carried openly in his arms; who is followed by those who carry the issue of loaves. He, as being the governor of the temple, learns the ten books called
Hieratic; and they contain all about the laws, and the gods, and the whole of the training of the priests. For the Prophet is, among the Egyptians, also over the distribution of the revenues. There are then forty-two books of Hermes indispensably necessary; of which the six-and-thirty containing the whole philosophy of the Egyptians are learned by the forementioned personages; and the other six, which are medical, by the Pastophoroi (image-bearers),— treating of the structure of the body, and of diseases, and instruments, and medicines, and about the eyes, and the last about women. Such are the customs of the Egyptians, to speak briefly.
The philosophy of the Indians, too, has been celebrated. Alexander of Macedon, having taken ten of the Indian Gymnosophists, that seemed the best and most sententious, proposed to them problems, threatening to put to death him that did not answer to the purpose; ordering one, who was the eldest of them, to decide.
The first, then, being asked whether he thought that the living were more in number than the dead, said, The living; for that the dead were not. The second, on being asked whether the sea or the land maintained larger beasts, said, The land; for the sea was part of it. And the third being asked which was the most cunning of animals? The one, which has not hitherto been known, man. And the fourth being interrogated, For what reason they had made Sabba, who was their prince, revolt, answered, Because they wished him to live well rather than die ill. And the fifth being asked, Whether he thought that day or night was first, said, One day. For puzzling questions must have puzzling answers. And the sixth being posed with the query, How shall one be loved most? By being most powerful; in order that he may not be timid. And the seventh being asked, How any one of men could become God? Said, If he do what it is impossible for man to do. And the eighth being asked, Which is the stronger, life or death? Said, Life, which bears such ills. And the ninth being interrogated, Up to what point it is good for a man to live? Said, Till he does not think that to die is better than to live. And on Alexander ordering the tenth to say something, for he was judge, he said,
One spoke worse than another. And on Alexander saying, Shall you not, then, die first, having given such a judgment? He said, And how, O king, will you prove true, after saying that you would kill first the first man that answered very badly?
And that the Greeks are called pilferers of all manner of writing, is, as I think, sufficiently demonstrated by abundant proofs.
And that the men of highest repute among the Greeks knew God, not by positive knowledge, but by indirect expression, Peter says in the Preaching:
Know then that there is one God, who made the beginning of all things, and holds the power of the end; and is the Invisible, who sees all things; incapable of being contained, who contains all things; needing nothing, whom all things need, and by whom they are; incomprehensible, everlasting, unmade, who made all things by the 'Word of His power,' that is, according to the gnostic scripture, His Son.
Then he adds:
Worship this God not as the Greeks,— signifying plainly, that the excellent among the Greeks worshipped the same God as we, but that they had not learned by perfect knowledge that which was delivered by the Son.
Do not then worship, he did not say, the God whom the Greeks worship, but
as the Greeks,— changing the manner of the worship of God, not announcing another God. What, then, the expression
not as the Greeks means, Peter himself shall explain, as he adds: knowledge);
but giving shape to the things of which He gave them the power for use— stocks and stones, brass and iron, gold and silver— matter—and setting up the things which are slaves for use and possession, worship them. And what God has given to them for food— the fowls of the air, and the fish of the sea, and the creeping things of the earth, and the wild beasts with the four-footed cattle of the field, weasels and mice, cats and dogs and apes, and their own proper food— they sacrifice as sacrifices to mortals; and offering dead things to the dead, as to gods, are unthankful to God, denying His existence by these things. And that it is said, that we and the Greeks know the same God, though not in the same way, he will infer thus:
Neither worship as the Jews; for they, thinking that they only know God, do not know Him, adoring as they do angels and archangels, the month and the moon. And if the moon be not visible, they do not hold the Sabbath, which is called the first; nor do they hold the new moon, nor the feast of unleavened bread, nor the feast, nor the great day. Then he gives the finishing stroke to the question:
So do that also, learning holily and righteously what we deliver to you; keep them, worshipping God in a new way, by Christ. For we find in the Scriptures, as the Lord says:
Behold, I make with you a new covenant, not as I made with your fathers in Mount Horeb. Jeremiah 31:31-32; Hebrews 8:8-10 He made a new covenant with us; for what belonged to the Greeks and Jews is old. But we, who worship Him in a new way, in the third form, are Christians. For clearly, as I think, he showed that the one and only God was known by the Greeks in a Gentile way, by the Jews Judaically, and in a new and spiritual way by us.
And further, that the same God that furnished both the Covenants was the giver of Greek philosophy to the Greeks, by which the Almighty is glorified among the Greeks, he shows. And it is clear from this. Accordingly, then, from the Hellenic training, and also from that of the law are gathered into the one race of the saved people those who accept faith: not that the three peoples are separated by time, so that one might suppose three natures, but trained in different Covenants of the one Lord, by the word of the one Lord. For that, as God wished to save the Jews by giving to them prophets, so also by raising up prophets of their own in their own tongue, as they were able to receive God's beneficence, He distinguished the most excellent of the Greeks from the common herd, in addition to
Peter's Preaching, the Apostle Paul will show, saying:
Take also the Hellenic books, read the Sibyl, how it is shown that God is one, and how the future is indicated. And taking Hystaspes, read, and you will find much more luminously and distinctly the Son of God described, and how many kings shall draw up their forces against Christ, hating Him and those that bear His name, and His faithful ones, and His patience, and His coming. Then in one word he asks us,
Whose is the world, and all that is in the world? Are they not God's? Wherefore Peter says, that the Lord said to the apostles:
But as the proclamation [of the Gospel] has come now at the fit time, so also at the fit time were the Law and the Prophets given to the Barbarians, and Philosophy to the Greeks, to fit their ears for the Gospel.
Therefore, says the Lord who delivered Israel,
in an acceptable time have I heard you, and in a day of salvation have I helped you. And I have given you for a Covenant to the nations; that you might inhabit the earth, and receive the inheritance of the wilderness; saying to those that are in bonds, Come forth; and to those that are in darkness, Show yourselves. For if the
prisoners are the Jews, of whom the Lord said,
Come forth, you that will, from your bonds,— meaning the voluntary bound, and who have taken on them
the burdens grievous to be borne Matthew 23:4; Luke 11:46 by human injunction— it is plain that
those in darkness are they who have the ruling faculty of the soul buried in idolatry.
For to those who were righteous according to the law, faith was wanting. Wherefore also the Lord, in healing them, said,
Your faith has saved you. But to those that were righteous according to philosophy, not only faith in the Lord, but also the abandonment of idolatry, were necessary. Straightway, on the revelation of the truth, they also repented of their previous conduct.
Wherefore the Lord preached the Gospel to those in Hades. Accordingly the Scripture says,
Hades says to Destruction, We have not seen His form, but we have heard His voice. It is not plainly the place, which, the words above say, heard the voice, but those who have been put in Hades, and have abandoned themselves to destruction, as persons who have thrown themselves voluntarily from a ship into the sea. They, then, are those that hear the divine power and voice. For who in his senses can suppose the souls of the righteous and those of sinners in the same condemnation, charging Providence with injustice?
But how? Do not [the Scriptures] show that the Lord preached the Gospel to those that perished in the flood, or rather had been chained, and to those kept
in ward and guard? 1 Peter 3:19-20 And it has been shown also, in the second book of the Stromata, that the apostles, following the Lord, preached the Gospel to those in Hades. For it was requisite, in my opinion, that as here, so also there, the best of the disciples should be imitators of the Master; so that He should bring to repentance those belonging to the Hebrews, and they the Gentiles; that is, those who had lived in righteousness according to the Law and Philosophy, who had ended life not perfectly, but sinfully. For it was suitable to the divine administration, that those possessed of greater worth in righteousness, and whose life had been pre-eminent, on repenting of their transgressions, though found in another place, yet being confessedly of the number of the people of God Almighty, should be saved, each one according to his individual knowledge.
And, as I think, the Saviour also exerts His might because it is His work to save; which accordingly He also did by drawing to salvation those who became willing, by the preaching [of the Gospel], to believe in Him, wherever they were. If, then, the Lord descended to Hades for no other end but to preach the Gospel, as He did descend; it was either to preach the Gospel to all or to the Hebrews only. If, accordingly, to all, then all who believe shall be saved, although they may be of the Gentiles, on making their profession there; since God's punishments are saving and disciplinary, leading to conversion, and choosing rather the repentance them the death of a sinner; and especially since souls, although darkened by passions, when released from their bodies, are able to perceive more clearly, because of their being no longer obstructed by the paltry flesh.
If, then, He preached only to the Jews, who wanted the knowledge and faith of the Saviour, it is plain that, since God is no respecter of persons, the apostles also, as here, so there preached the Gospel to those of the heathen who were ready for conversion. And it is well said by the Shepherd,
They went down with them therefore into the water, and again ascended. But these descended alive, and again ascended alive. But those who had fallen asleep, descended dead, but ascended alive. Further the Gospel Matthew 27:52 says,
that many bodies of those that slept arose,— plainly as having been translated to a better state. There took place, then, a universal movement and translation through the economy of the Saviour.
One righteous man, then, differs not, as righteous, from another righteous man, whether he be of the Law or a Greek. For God is not only Lord of the Jews, but of all men, and more nearly the Father of those who know Him. For if to live well and according to the law is to live, also to live rationally according to the law is to live; and those who lived rightly before the Law were classed under faith, and judged to be righteous—it is evident that those, too, who were outside of the Law, having lived rightly, in consequence of the peculiar nature of the voice, though they are in Hades and in ward, 1 Peter 3:19 on hearing the voice of the Lord, whether that of His own person or that acting through His apostles, with all speed turned and believed. For we remember that the Lord is
the power of God, 1 Corinthians 1:24 and power can never be weak.
So I think it is demonstrated that the God being good, and the Lord powerful, they save with a righteousness and equality which extend to all that turn to Him, whether here or elsewhere. For it is not here alone that the active power of God is beforehand, but it is everywhere and is always at work. Accordingly, in the Preaching of Peter, the Lord says to the disciples after the resurrection,
I have chosen you twelve disciples, judging you worthy of me, whom the Lord wished to be apostles, having judged them faithful, sending them into the world to the men on the earth, that they may know that there is one God, showing clearly what would take place by the faith of Christ; that they who heard and believed should be saved; and that those who believed not, after having heard, should bear witness, not having the excuse to allege, We have not heard.
What then? Did not the same dispensation obtain in Hades, so that even there, all the souls, on hearing the proclamation, might either exhibit repentance, or confess that their punishment was just, because they believed not? And it were the exercise of no ordinary arbitrariness, for those who had departed before the advent of the Lord (not having the Gospel preached to them, and having afforded no ground from themselves, in consequence of believing or not) to obtain either salvation or punishment. For it is not right that these should be condemned without trial, and that those alone who lived after the advent should have the advantage of the divine righteousness. But to all rational souls it was said from above,
Whatever one of you has done in ignorance, without clearly knowing God, if, on becoming conscious, he repent, all his sins will be forgiven him.
For, behold, it is said,
I have set before your face death and life, that you may choose life. God says that He set, not that He made both, in order to the comparison of choice. And in another Scripture He says,
If you hear Me, and be willing, you shall eat the good of the land. But if you hear Me not, and are not willing, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken these things. Isaiah 1:19-20
Again, David expressly (or rather the Lord in the person of the saint, and the same from the foundation of the world is each one who at different periods is saved, and shall be saved by faith) says,
My heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced, and my flesh shall still rest in hope. For You shall not leave my soul in hell, nor will You give Your holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life, You will make me full of joy in Your presence. As, then, the people was precious to the Lord, so also is the entire holy people; he also who is converted from the Gentiles, who was prophesied under the name of proselyte, along with the Jew. For rightly the Scripture says, that
the ox and the bear shall come together. Isaiah 11:7 For the Jew is designated by the ox, from the animal under the yoke being reckoned clean, according to the law; for the ox both parts the hoof and chews the cud. And the Gentile is designated by the bear, which is an unclean and wild beast. And this animal brings forth a shapeless lump of flesh, which it shapes into the likeness of a beast solely by its tongue. For he who is convened from among the Gentiles is formed from a beastlike life to gentleness by the word; and, when once tamed, is made clean, just as the ox. For example, the prophet says,
The sirens, and the daughters of the sparrows, and all the beasts of the field, shall bless me. Isaiah 43:20 Of the number of unclean animals, the wild beasts of the field are known to be, that is, of the world; since those who are wild in respect of faith, and polluted in life, and not purified by the righteousness which is according to the law, are called wild beasts. But changed from wild beasts by the faith of the Lord, they become men of God, advancing from the wish to change to the fact. For some the Lord exhorts, and to those who have already made the attempt he stretches forth His hand, and draws them up.
For the Lord dreads not the face of any one, nor will He regard greatness; for He has made small and great, and cares alike for all. Wisdom 6:7 And David says,
For the heathen are fixed in the destruction they have caused; their foot is taken in the snare which they hid.
But the Lord was a refuge to the poor, a help in season also in affliction. Those, then, that were in affliction had the Gospel seasonably proclaimed. And therefore it said,
Declare among the heathen his pursuits, that they may not be judged unjustly.
If, then, He preached the Gospel to those in the flesh that they might not be condemned unjustly, how is it conceivable that He did not for the same cause preach the Gospel to those who had departed this life before His advent?
For the righteous Lord loves righteousness: His countenance beholds uprightness.
But he that loves wickedness hates his own soul.
If, then, in the deluge all sinful flesh perished, punishment having been inflicted on them for correction, we must first believe that the will of God, which is disciplinary and beneficent, saves those who turn to Him. Then, too, the more subtle substance, the soul, could never receive any injury from the grosser element of water, its subtle and simple nature rendering it impalpable, called as it is incorporeal. But whatever is gross, made so in consequence of sin, this is cast away along with the carnal spirit which lusts against the soul.
Now also Valentinus, the Coryphæus of those who herald community, in his book on The Intercourse of Friends, writes in these words:
Many of the things that are written, though in common books, are found written in the church of God. For those sayings which proceed from the heart are vain. For the law written in the heart is the People of the Beloved— loved and loving Him. For whether it be the Jewish writings or those of the philosophers that he calls
the Common Books, he makes the truth common. And Isidore, at once son and disciple to Basilides, in the first book of the Expositions of the Prophet Parchor, writes also in these words:
The Attics say that certain things were intimated to Socrates, in consequence of a dæmon attending on him. And Aristotle says that all men are provided with dæmons, that attend on them during the time they are in the body—having taken this piece of prophetic instruction and transferred it to his own books, without acknowledging whence he had abstracted this statement. And again, in the second book of his work, he thus writes:
And let no one think that what we say is peculiar to the elect, was said before by any philosophers. For it is not a discovery of theirs. For having appropriated it from our prophets, they attributed it to him who is wise according to them. Again, in the same:
For to me it appears that those who profess to philosophize, do so that they may learn what is the winged oak, and the variegated robe on it, all of which Pherecydes has employed as theological allegories, having taken them from the prophecy of Cham.
As we have long ago pointed out, what we propose as our subject is not the discipline which obtains in each sect, but that which is really philosophy, strictly systematic Wisdom, which furnishes acquaintance with the things which pertain to life. And we define Wisdom to be certain knowledge, being a sure and irrefragable apprehension of things divine and human, comprehending the present, past, and future, which the Lord has taught us, both by His advent and by the prophets. And it is irrefragable by reason, inasmuch as it has been communicated. And so it is wholly true according to [God's] intention, as being known through means of the Son. And in one aspect it is eternal, and in another it becomes useful in time. Partly it is one and the same, partly many and indifferent— partly without any movement of passion, partly with passionate desire— partly perfect, partly incomplete.
This wisdom, then— rectitude of soul and of reason, and purity of life— is the object of the desire of philosophy, which is kindly and lovingly disposed towards wisdom, and does everything to attain it.
Now those are called philosophers, among us, who love Wisdom, the Creator and Teacher of all things, that is, the knowledge of the Son of God; and among the Greeks, those who undertake arguments on virtue. Philosophy, then, consists of such dogmas found in each sect (I mean those of philosophy) as cannot be impugned, with a corresponding life, collected into one selection; and these, stolen from the Barbarian God-given grace, have been adorned by Greek speech. For some they have borrowed, and others they have misunderstood. And in the case of others, what they have spoken, in consequence of being moved, they have not yet perfectly worked out; and others by human conjecture and reasoning, in which also they stumble. And they think that they have hit the truth perfectly; but as we understand them, only partially. They know, then, nothing more than this world. And it is just like geometry, which treats of measures and magnitudes and forms, by delineation on plane-surfaces; and just as painting appears to take in the whole field of view in the scenes represented. But it gives a false description of the view, according to the rules of the art, employing the signs that result from the incidents of the lines of vision. By this means, the higher and lower points in the view, and those between, are preserved; and some objects seem to appear in the foreground, and others in the background, and others to appear in some other way, on the smooth and level surface. So also the philosophers copy the truth, after the manner of painting. And always in the case of each one of them, their self-love is the cause of all their mistakes. Wherefore one ought not, in the desire for the glory that terminates in men, to be animated by self-love; but loving God, to become really holy with wisdom. If, then, one treats what is particular as universal, and regards that, which serves, as the Lord, he misses the truth, not understanding what was spoken by David by way of confession:
I have eaten earth [ashes] like bread. Now, self-love and self-conceit are, in his view, earth and error. But if so, science and knowledge are derived from instruction. And if there is instruction, you must seek for the master. Cleanthes claims Zeno, and Metrodorus Epicurus, and Theophrastus Aristotle, and Plato Socrates. But if I come to Pythagoras, and Pherecydes, and Thales, and the first wise men, I come to a stand in my search for their teacher. Should you say the Egyptians, the Indians, the Babylonians, and the Magi themselves, I will not stop from asking their teacher. And I lead you up to the first generation of men; and from that point I begin to investigate Who is their teacher. No one of men; for they had not yet learned. Nor yet any of the angels: for in the way that angels, in virtue of being angels, speak, men do not hear; nor, as we have ears, have they a tongue to correspond; nor would any one attribute to the angels organs of speech, lips I mean, and the parts contiguous, throat, and windpipe, and chest, breath and air to vibrate. And God is far from calling aloud in the unapproachable sanctity, separated as He is from even the archangels.
And we also have already heard that angels learned the truth, and their rulers over them; for they had a beginning. It remains, then, for us, ascending to seek their teacher. And since the unoriginated Being is one, the Omnipotent God; one, too, is the First-begotten,
by whom all things were made, and without whom not one thing ever was made. John 1:3
the first-begotten Son, Peter writes, accurately comprehending the statement,
In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1 And He is called Wisdom by all the prophets. This is He who is the Teacher of all created beings, the Fellow-counsellor of God, who foreknew all things; and He from above, from the first foundation of the world,
in many ways and many times, Hebrews 1:1 trains and perfects; whence it is rightly said,
Call no man your teacher on earth. Matthew 23:8-10
You see whence the true philosophy has its handles; though the Law be the image and shadow of the truth: for the Law is the shadow of the truth. But the self-love of the Greeks proclaims certain men as their teachers. As, then, the whole family runs back to God the Creator; Ephesians 3:14-15 so also all the teaching of good things, which justifies, does to the Lord, and leads and contributes to this.
But if from any creature they received in any way whatever the seeds of the Truth, they did not nourish them; but committing them to a barren and rainless soil, they choked them with weeds, as the Pharisees revolted from the Law, by introducing human teachings—the cause of these being not the Teacher, but those who choose to disobey. But those of them who believed the Lord's advent and the plain teaching of the Scriptures, attain to the knowledge of the law; as also those addicted to philosophy, by the teaching of the Lord, are introduced into the knowledge of the true philosophy:
For the oracles of the Lord are pure oracles, melted in the fire, tried in the earth, purified seven times. Just as silver often purified, so is the just man brought to the test, becoming the Lord's coin and receiving the royal image. Or, since Solomon also calls the
tongue of the righteous man gold that has been subjected to fire, Proverbs 10:20 intimating that the doctrine which has been proved, and is wise, is to be praised and received, whenever it is amply tried by the earth: that is, when the gnostic soul is in manifold ways sanctified, through withdrawal from earthy fires. And the body in which it dwells is purified, being appropriated to the pureness of a holy temple. But the first purification which takes place in the body, the soul being first, is abstinence from evil things, which some consider perfection, and is, in truth, the perfection of the common believer— Jew and Greek. But in the case of the Gnostic, after that which is reckoned perfection in others, his righteousness advances to activity in well-doing. And in whomsoever the increased force of righteousness advances to the doing of good, in his case perfection abides in the fixed habit of well-doing after the likeness of God. For those who are the seed of Abraham, and besides servants of God, are
the called; and the sons of Jacob are the elect— they who have tripped up the energy of wickedness.
If; then, we assert that Christ Himself is Wisdom, and that it was His working which showed itself in the prophets, by which the gnostic tradition may be learned, as He Himself taught the apostles during His presence; then it follows that the gnosis, which is the knowledge and apprehension of things present, future, and past, which is sure and reliable, as being imparted and revealed by the Son of God, is wisdom.
And if, too, the end of the wise man is contemplation, that of those who are still philosophers aims at it, but never attains it, unless by the process of learning it receives the prophetic utterance which has been made known, by which it grasps both the present, the future, and the past— how they are, were, and shall be.
And the gnosis itself is that which has descended by transmission to a few, having been imparted unwritten by the apostles. Hence, then, knowledge or wisdom ought to be exercised up to the eternal and unchangeable habit of contemplation.
For Paul too, in the Epistles, plainly does not disparage philosophy; but deems it unworthy of the man who has attained to the elevation of the Gnostic, any more to go back to the Hellenic
the rudiments of this world, as being most rudimentary, and a preparatory training for the truth. Wherefore also, writing to the Hebrews, who were declining again from faith to the law, he says,
Have you not need again of one to teach you which are the first principles of the oracles of God, and have become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat? Hebrews 5:12 So also to the Colossians, who were Greek converts,
Beware lest any man spoil you by philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of this world, and not after Christ, Colossians 2:8 — enticing them again to return to philosophy, the elementary doctrine.
And should one say that it was through human understanding that philosophy was discovered by the Greeks, still I find the Scriptures saying that understanding is sent by God. The psalmist, accordingly, considers understanding as the greatest free gift, and beseeches, saying,
I am Your servant; give me understanding. And does not David, while asking the abundant experience of knowledge, write, God,
He has not done thus to any nation; and He has not shown His judgments to them. The expression
He has not done so shows that He has done, but not
thus, then, is put comparatively, with reference to pre-eminence, which obtains in our case. The prophet might have said simply,
He has not done, without the
The absence of respect of persons in God is not then in time, but from eternity. Nor had His beneficence a beginning; nor any more is it limited to places or persons. For His beneficence is not confined to parts.
Open the gates of righteousness, it is said;
entering into them, I will confess to the Lord . This is the gate of the Lord . The righteous shall enter by it. Explaining the prophet's saying, Barnabas adds,
There being many gates open, that which is in righteousness is the gate which is in Christ, by which all who enter are blessed. Bordering on the same meaning is also the following prophetic utterance:
The Lord is on many waters; not the different covenants alone, but the modes of teaching, those among the Greek and those among the Barbarians, conducing to righteousness. And already clearly David, bearing testimony to the truth, sings,
Let sinners be turned into Hades, and all the nations that forget God. They forget, plainly, Him whom they formerly remembered, and dismiss Him whom they knew previous to forgetting Him. There was then a dim knowledge of God also among the nations. So much for those points.
Now the Gnostic must be erudite. And since the Greeks say that Protagoras having led the way, the opposing of one argument by another was invented, it is fitting that something be said with reference to arguments of this sort. For Scripture says,
He that says much, shall also hear in his turn. Job 11:2 And who shall understand a parable of the Lord, but the wise, the intelligent, and he that loves his Lord? Let such a man be faithful; let him be capable of uttering his knowledge; let him be wise in the discrimination of words; let him be dexterous in action; let him be pure.
The greater he seems to be, the more humble should he be, says Clement in the Epistle to the Corinthians,—
such an one as is capable of complying with the precept, 'And some pluck from the fire, and on others have compassion, making a difference,'
The pruning-hook is made, certainly, principally for pruning; but with it we separate twigs that have got intertwined, cut the thorns which grow along with the vines, which it is not very easy to reach. And all these things have a reference to pruning. Again, man is made principally for the knowledge of God; but he also measures land, practices agriculture, and philosophizes; of which pursuits, one conduces to life, another to living well, a third to the study of the things which are capable of demonstration. Further, let those who say that philosophy took its rise from the devil know this, that the Scripture says that 2 Corinthians 11:14 When about to do what? Plainly, when about to prophesy. But if he prophesies as an angel of light, he will speak what is true. And if he prophesies what is angelical, and of the light, then he prophesies what is beneficial when he is transformed according to the likeness of the operation, though he be different with respect to the matter of apostasy. For how could he deceive any one, without drawing the lover of knowledge into fellowship, and so drawing him afterwards into falsehood? Especially he will be found to know the truth, if not so as to comprehend it, yet so as not to be unacquainted with it.
Philosophy is not then false, though the thief and the liar speak truth, through a transformation of operation. Nor is sentence of condemnation to be pronounced ignorantly against what is said, on account of him who says it (which also is to be kept in view, in the case of those who are now alleged to prophesy); but what is said must be looked at, to see if it keep by the truth.
And in general terms, we shall not err in alleging that all things necessary and profitable for life came to us from God, and that philosophy more especially was given to the Greeks, as a covenant peculiar to them— being, as it is, a stepping-stone to the philosophy which is according to Christ— although those who applied themselves to the philosophy of the Greeks shut their ears voluntarily to the truth, despising the voice of Barbarians, or also dreading the danger suspended over the believer, by the laws of the state.
And as in the Barbarian philosophy, so also in the Hellenic,
tares were sown by the proper husbandman of the tares; whence also heresies grew up among us along with the productive wheat; and those who in the Hellenic philosophy preach the impiety and voluptuousness of Epicurus, and whatever other tenets are disseminated contrary to right reason, exist among the Greeks as spurious fruits of the divinely bestowed husbandry. This voluptuous and selfish philosophy the apostle calls
the wisdom of this world; in consequence of its teaching the things of this world and about it alone, and its consequent subjection, as far as respects ascendancy, to those who rule here. Wherefore also this fragmentary philosophy is very elementary, while truly perfect science deals with intellectual objects, which are beyond the sphere of the world, and with the objects still more spiritual than those which
eye saw not, and ear heard not, nor did it enter into the heart of men, till the Teacher told the account of them to us; unveiling the holy of holies; and in ascending order, things still holier than these, to those who are truly and not spuriously heirs of the Lord's adoption. For we now dare aver (for here is the faith that is characterized by knowledge ) that such an one knows all things, and comprehends all things in the exercise of sure apprehension, respecting matters difficult for us, and really pertaining to the true gnosis such as were James, Peter, John, Paul, and the rest of the apostles. For prophecy is full of knowledge (gnosis), inasmuch as it was given by the Lord, and again explained by the Lord to the apostles. And is not knowledge (gnosis) an attribute of the rational soul, which trains itself for this, that by knowledge it may become entitled to immortality? For both are powers of the soul, both knowledge and impulse. And impulse is found to be a movement after an assent. For he who has an impulse towards an action, first receives the knowledge of the action, and secondly the impulse. Let us further devote our attention to this. For since learning is older than action; (for naturally, he who does what he wishes to do learns it first; and knowledge comes from learning, and impulse follows knowledge; after which comes action;) knowledge turns out the beginning and author of all rational action. So that rightly the peculiar nature of the rational soul is characterized by this alone; for in reality impulse, like knowledge, is excited by existing objects. And knowledge (gnosis) is essentially a contemplation of existences on the part of the soul, either of a certain thing or of certain things, and when perfected, of all together. Although some say that the wise man is persuaded that there are some things incomprehensible, in such wise as to have respecting them a kind of comprehension, inasmuch as he comprehends that things incomprehensible are incomprehensible; which is common, and pertains to those who are capable of perceiving little. For such a man affirms that there are some things incomprehensible.
But that Gnostic of whom I speak, himself comprehends what seems to be incomprehensible to others; believing that nothing is incomprehensible to the Son of God, whence nothing incapable of being taught. For He who suffered out of His love for us, would have suppressed no element of knowledge requisite for our instruction. Accordingly this faith becomes sure demonstration; since truth follows what has been delivered by God. But if one desires extensive knowledge,
he knows things ancient, and conjectures things future; he understands knotty sayings, and the solutions of enigmas. The disciple of wisdom foreknows signs and omens, and the issues of seasons and of times. Wisdom 7:17-18
The Gnostic is such, that he is subject only to the affections that exist for the maintenance of the body, such as hunger, thirst, and the like. But in the case of the Saviour, it were ludicrous [to suppose] that the body, as a body, demanded the necessary aids in order to its duration. For He ate, not for the sake of the body, which was kept together by a holy energy, but in order that it might not enter into the minds of those who were with Him to entertain a different opinion of Him; in like manner as certainly some afterwards supposed that He appeared in a phantasmal shape (δοκήσει). But He was entirely impassible (ἀπαθής); inaccessible to any movement of feeling— either pleasure or pain. While the apostles, having most gnostically mastered, through the Lord's teaching, anger and fear, and lust, were not liable even to such of the movements of feeling, as seem good, courage, zeal, joy, desire, through a steady condition of mind, not changing a whit; but ever continuing unvarying in a state of training after the resurrection of the Lord.
And should it be granted that the affections specified above, when produced rationally, are good, yet they are nevertheless inadmissible in the case of the perfect man, who is incapable of exercising courage: for neither does he meet what inspires fear, as he regards none of the things that occur in life as to be dreaded; nor can anything dislodge him from this— the love he has towards God. Nor does he need cheerfulness of mind; for he does not fall into pain, being persuaded that all things happen well. Nor is he angry; for there is nothing to move him to anger, seeing he ever loves God, and is entirely turned towards Him alone, and therefore hates none of God's creatures. No more does he envy; for nothing is wanting to him, that is requisite to assimilation, in order that he may be excellent and good. Nor does he consequently love any one with this common affection, but loves the Creator in the creatures. Nor, consequently, does he fall into any desire and eagerness; nor does he want, as far as respects his soul, anything appertaining to others, now that he associates through love with the Beloved One, to whom he is allied by free choice, and by the habit which results from training, approaches closer to Him, and is blessed through the abundance of good things.
So that on these accounts he is compelled to become like his Teacher in impassibility. For the Word of God is intellectual, according as the image of mind is seen in man alone. Thus also the good man is godlike in form and semblance as respects his soul. And, on the other hand, God is like man. For the distinctive form of each one is the mind by which we are characterized. Consequently, also, those who sin against man are unholy and impious. For it were ridiculous to say that the gnostic and perfect man must not eradicate anger and courage, inasmuch as without these he will not struggle against circumstances, or abide what is terrible. But if we take from him desire, he will be quite overwhelmed by troubles, and therefore depart from this life very basely. Unless possessed of it, as some suppose, he will not conceive a desire for what is like the excellent and the good. If, then, all alliance with what is good is accompanied with desire, how, it is said, does he remain impassible who desires what is excellent?
But these people know not, as appears, the divinity of love. For love is not desire on the part of him who loves; but is a relation of affection, restoring the Gnostic to the unity of the faith—independent of time and place. But he who by love is already in the midst of that in which he is destined to be, and has anticipated hope by knowledge, does not desire anything, having, as far as possible, the very thing desired. Accordingly, as to be expected, he continues in the exercise of gnostic love, in the one unvarying state.
Nor will he, therefore, eagerly desire to be assimilated to what is beautiful, possessing, as he does, beauty by love. What more need of courage and of desire to him, who has obtained the affinity to the impassible God which arises from love, and by love has enrolled himself among the friends of God?
We must therefore rescue the gnostic and perfect man from all passion of the soul. For knowledge (gnosis) produces practice, and practice habit or disposition; and such a state as this produces impassibility, not moderation of passion. And the complete eradication of desire reaps as its fruit impassibility. But the Gnostic does not share either in those affections that are commonly celebrated as good, that is, the good things of the affections which are allied to the passions: such, I mean, as gladness, which is allied to pleasure; and dejection, for this is conjoined with pain; and caution, for it is subject to fear. Nor yet does he share in high spirit, for it takes its place alongside of wrath; although some say that these are no longer evil, but already good. For it is impossible that he who has been once made perfect by love, and feasts eternally and insatiably on the boundless joy of contemplation, should delight in small and grovelling things. For what rational cause remains any more to the man who has gained
the light inaccessible, 1 Timothy 6:16 for revering to the good things of the world? Although not yet true as to time and place, yet by that gnostic love through which the inheritance and perfect restitution follow, the giver of the reward makes good by deeds what the Gnostic, by gnostic choice, had grasped by anticipation through love.
For by going away to the Lord, for the love he bears Him, though his tabernacle be visible on earth, he does not withdraw himself from life. For that is not permitted to him. But he has withdrawn his soul from the passions. For that is granted to him. And on the other hand he lives, having put to death his lusts, and no longer makes use of the body, but allows it the use of necessaries, that he may not give cause for dissolution.
How, then, has he any more need of fortitude, who is not in the midst of dangers, being not present, but already wholly with the object of love? And what necessity for self-restraint to him who has not need of it? For to have such desires, as require self-restraint in order to their control, is characteristic of one who is not yet pure, but subject to passion. Now, fortitude is assumed by reason of fear and cowardice. For it were no longer seemly that the friend of God, whom
God has fore-ordained before the foundation of the world Ephesians 1:4-5 to be enrolled in the highest
adoption, should fall into pleasures or fears, and be occupied in the repression of the passions. For I venture to assert, that as he is predestinated through what he shall do, and what he shall obtain, so also has he predestinated himself by reason of what he knew and whom he loved; not having the future indistinct, as the multitude live, conjecturing it, but having grasped by gnostic faith what is hidden from others. And through love, the future is for him already present. For he has believed, through prophecy and the advent, on God who lies not. And what he believes he possesses, and keeps hold of the promise. And He who has promised is truth. And through the trustworthiness of Him who has promised, he has firmly laid hold of the end of the promise by knowledge. And he, who knows the sure comprehension of the future which there is in the circumstances, in which he is placed, by love goes to meet the future. So he, that is persuaded that he will obtain the things that are really good, will not pray to obtain what is here, but that he may always cling to the faith which hits the mark and succeeds. And besides, he will pray that as many as possible may become like him, to the glory of God, which is perfected through knowledge. For he who is made like the Saviour is also devoted to saving; performing unerringly the commandments as far as the human nature may admit of the image. And this is to worship God by deeds and knowledge of the true righteousness. The Lord will not wait for the voice of this man in prayer.
Ask, He says,
and I will do it; think, and I will give.
For, in fine, it is impossible that the immutable should assume firmness and consistency in the mutable. But the ruling faculty being in perpetual change, and therefore unstable, the force of habit is not maintained. For how can he who is perpetually changed by external occurrences and accidents, ever possess habit and disposition, and in a word, grasp of scientific knowledge (ἐπιστήμη)? Further, also, the philosophers regard the virtues as habits, dispositions, and sciences. And as knowledge (gnosis) is not born with men, but is acquired, and the acquiring of it in its elements demands application, and training, and progress; and then from incessant practice it passes into a habit; so, when perfected in the mystic habit, it abides, being infallible through love. For not only has he apprehended the first Cause, and the Cause produced by it, and is sure about them, possessing firmly firm and irrefragable and immoveable reasons; but also respecting what is good and what is evil, and respecting all production, and to speak comprehensively, respecting all about which the Lord has spoken, he has learned, from the truth itself, the most exact truth from the foundation of the world to the end. Not preferring to the truth itself what appears plausible, or, according to Hellenic reasoning, necessary; but what has been spoken by the Lord he accepts as clear and evident, though concealed from others; and he has already received the knowledge of all things. And the oracles we possess give their utterances respecting what exists, as it is; and respecting what is future, as it shall be; and respecting what is past, as it was.
In scientific matters, as being alone possessed of scientific knowledge, he will hold the preeminence, and will discourse on the discussion respecting the good, ever intent on intellectual objects, tracing out his procedure in human affairs from the archetypes above; as navigators direct the ship according to the star; prepared to hold himself in readiness for every suitable action; accustomed to despise all difficulties and dangers when it is necessary to undergo them; never doing anything precipitate or incongruous either to himself or the common good; foreseeing; and inflexible by pleasures both of waking hours and of dreams. For, accustomed to spare living and frugality, he is moderate, active, and grave; requiring few necessaries for life; occupying himself with nothing superfluous. But desiring not even these things as chief, but by reason of fellowship in life, as necessary for his sojourn in life, as far as necessary.
For to him knowledge (gnosis) is the principal thing. Consequently, therefore, he applies to the subjects that are a training for knowledge, taking from each branch of study its contribution to the truth. Prosecuting, then, the proportion of harmonies in music; and in arithmetic noting the increasing and decreasing of numbers, and their relations to one another, and how the most of things fall under some proportion of numbers; studying geometry, which is abstract essence, he perceives a continuous distance, and an immutable essence which is different from these bodies. And by astronomy, again, raised from the earth in his mind, he is elevated along with heaven, and will revolve with its revolution; studying ever divine things, and their harmony with each other; from which Abraham starting, ascended to the knowledge of Him who created them. Further, the Gnostic will avail himself of dialectics, fixing on the distinction of genera into species, and will master the distinction of existences, till he come to what are primary and simple.
But the multitude are frightened at the Hellenic philosophy, as children are at masks, being afraid lest it lead them astray. But if the faith (for I cannot call it knowledge) which they possess be such as to be dissolved by plausible speech, let it be by all means dissolved, and let them confess that they will not retain the truth. For truth is immoveable; but false opinion dissolves. We choose, for instance, one purple by comparison with another purple. So that, if one confesses that he has not a heart that has been made right, he has not the table of the money-changers or the test of words. And how can he be any longer a money-changer, who is not able to prove and distinguish spurious coin, even offhand?
Now David cried,
The righteous shall not be shaken for ever; neither, consequently, by deceptive speech nor by erring pleasure. Whence he shall never be shaken from his own heritage.
He shall not be afraid of evil tidings; consequently neither of unfounded calumny, nor of the false opinion around him. No more will he dread cunning words, who is capable of distinguishing them, or of answering rightly to questions asked. Such a bulwark are dialectics, that truth cannot be trampled under foot by the Sophists.
For it behooves those who praise in the holy name of the Lord, according to the prophet,
to rejoice in heart, seeking the Lord. Seek then Him, and be strong. Seek His face continually in every way.
For, having spoken at sundry times and in various manners, Hebrews 1:1 it is not in one way only that He is known.
It is, then, not by availing himself of these as virtues that our Gnostic will be deeply learned. But by using them as helps in distinguishing what is common and what is peculiar, he will admit the truth. For the cause of all error and false opinion, is inability to distinguish in what respect things are common, and in what respects they differ. For unless, in things that are distinct, one closely watch speech, he will inadvertently confound what is common and what is peculiar. And where this takes place, he must of necessity fall into pathless tracts and error.
The distinction of names and things also in the Scriptures themselves produces great light in men's souls. For it is necessary to understand expressions which signify several things, and several expressions when they signify one thing. The result of which is accurate answering. But it is necessary to avoid the great futility which occupies itself in irrelevant matters; since the Gnostic avails himself of branches of learning as auxiliary preparatory exercises, in order to the accurate communication of the truth, as far as attainable and with as little distraction as possible, and for defence against reasonings that plot for the extinction of the truth. He will not then be deficient in what contributes to proficiency in the curriculum of studies and the Hellenic philosophy; but not principally, but necessarily, secondarily, and on account of circumstances. For what those labouring in heresies use wickedly, the Gnostic will use rightly.
Therefore the truth that appears in the Hellenic philosophy, being partial, the real truth, like the sun glancing on the colours both white and black, shows what like each of them is. So also it exposes all sophistical plausibility. Rightly, then, was it proclaimed also by the Greeks:—
Truth the queen is the beginning of great virtue.
As then in astronomy we have Abraham as an instance, so also in arithmetic we have the same Abraham.
For, hearing that Lot was taken captive, and having numbered his own servants, born in his house, 318 (τιὴ ), he defeats a very great number of the enemy.
They say, then, that the character representing 300 is, as to shape, the type of the Lord's sign, and that the Iota and the Eta indicate the Saviour's name; that it was indicated, accordingly, that Abraham's domestics were in salvation, who having fled to the Sign and the Name became lords of the captives, and of the very many unbelieving nations that followed them.
Now the number 300 is, 3 by 100. Ten is allowed to be the perfect number. And 8 is the first cube, which is equality in all the dimensions— length, breadth, depth.
The days of men shall be, it is said,
120 (ρκ And the moon at 15 days is full.
On another principle, 120 is a triangular number, and consists of the equality of the number 64, [which consists of eight of the odd numbers beginning with unity], the addition of which (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15) in succession generate squares; and of the inequality of the number 56, consisting of seven of the even numbers beginning with 2 (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14), which produce the numbers that are not squares
Again, according to another way of indicating, the number 120 consists of four numbers— of one triangle, 15; of another, a square, 25; of a third, a pentagon, 35; and of a fourth, a hexagon, 45. The 5 is taken according to the same ratio in each mode. For in triangular numbers, from the unity 5 comes 15; and in squares, 25; and of those in succession, proportionally. Now 25, which is the number 5 from unity, is said to be the symbol of the Levitical tribe. And the number 35 depends also on the arithmetic, geometric, and harmonic scale of doubles— 6, 8, 9, 12; the addition of which makes 35. In these days, the Jews say that seven months' children are formed. And the number 45 depends on the scale of triples— 6, 9, 12, 18— the addition of which makes 45; and similarly, in these days they say that nine months' children are formed.
Such, then, is the style of the example in arithmetic. And let the testimony of geometry be the tabernacle that was constructed, and the ark that was fashioned—constructed in most regular proportions, and through divine ideas, by the gift of understanding, which leads us from things of sense to intellectual objects, or rather from these to holy things, and to the holy of holies. For the squares of wood indicate that the square form, producing right angles, pervades all, and points out security. And the length of the structure was three hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty, and the height thirty; and above, the ark ends in a cubit, narrowing to a cubit from the broad base like a pyramid, the symbol of those who are purified and tested by fire. And this geometrical proportion has a place, for the transport of those holy abodes, whose differences are indicated by the differences of the numbers set down below.
And the numbers introduced are sixfold, as three hundred is six times fifty; and tenfold, as three hundred is ten times thirty; and containing one and two-thirds (επιδίμοιροι), for fifty is one and two-thirds of thirty.
Now there are some who say that three hundred cubits are the symbol of the Lord's sign; and fifty, of hope and of the remission given at Pentecost; and thirty, or as in some, twelve, they say points out the preaching [of the Gospel]; because the Lord preached in His thirtieth year; and the apostles were twelve. And the structure's terminating in a cubit is the symbol of the advancement of the righteous to oneness and to
the unity of the faith.
And the table which was in the temple was six cubits; and its four feet were about a cubit and a half.
They add, then, the twelve cubits, agreeably to the revolution of the twelve months, in the annual circle, during which the earth produces and matures all things; adapting itself to the four seasons. And the table, in my opinion, exhibits the image of the earth, supported as it is on four feet, summer, autumn, spring, winter, by which the year travels. Wherefore also it is said that the table has
wavy chains; Exodus 25:24 either because the universe revolves in the circuits of the times, or perhaps it indicated the earth surrounded with ocean's tide.
Further, as an example of music, let us adduce David, playing at once and prophesying, melodiously praising God. Now the Enarmonic suits best the Dorian harmony, and the Diatonic the Phrygian, as Aristoxenus says. The harmony, therefore, of the Barbarian psaltery, which exhibited gravity of strain, being the most ancient, most certainly became a model for Terpander, for the Dorian harmony, who sings the praise of Zeus thus:—
O Zeus, of all things the Beginning, Ruler of all;
O Zeus, I send you this beginning of hymns.
The lyre, according to its primary signification, may by the psalmist be used figuratively for the Lord; according to its secondary, for those who continually strike the chords of their souls under the direction of the Choir-master, the Lord. And if the people saved be called the lyre, it will be understood to be in consequence of their giving glory musically, through the inspiration of the Word and the knowledge of God, being struck by the Word so as to produce faith. You may take music in another way, as the ecclesiastical symphony at once of the law and the prophets, and the apostles along with the Gospel, and the harmony which obtained in each prophet, in the transitions of the persons.
But, as seems, the most of those who are inscribed with the Name, like the companions of Ulysses, handle the word unskilfully, passing by not the Sirens, but the rhythm and the melody, stopping their ears with ignorance; since they know that, after lending their ears to Hellenic studies, they will never subsequently be able to retrace their steps.
But he who culls what is useful for the advantage of the catechumens, and especially when they are Greeks (and the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof ), must not abstain from erudition, like irrational animals; but he must collect as many aids as possible for his hearers. But he must by no means linger over these studies, except solely for the advantage accruing from them; so that, on grasping and obtaining this, he may be able to take his departure home to the true philosophy, which is a strong cable for the soul, providing security from everything.
Music is then to be handled for the sake of the embellishment and composure of manners. For instance, at a banquet we pledge each other while the music is playing; soothing by song the eagerness of our desires, and glorifying God for the copious gift of human enjoyments, for His perpetual supply of the food necessary for the growth of the body and of the soul. But we must reject superfluous music, which enervates men's souls, and leads to variety—now mournful, and then licentious and voluptuous, and then frenzied and frantic.
The same holds also of astronomy. For treating of the description of the celestial objects, about the form of the universe, and the revolution of the heavens, and the motion of the stars, leading the soul nearer to the creative power, it teaches to quickness in perceiving the seasons of the year, the changes of the air, and the appearance of the stars; since also navigation and husbandry derive from this much benefit, as architecture and building from geometry. This branch of learning, too, makes the soul in the highest degree observant, capable of perceiving the true and detecting the false, of discovering correspondences and proportions, so as to hunt out for similarity in things dissimilar; and conducts us to the discovery of length without breadth, and superficial extent without thickness, and an indivisible point, and transports to intellectual objects from those of sense.
The studies of philosophy, therefore, and philosophy itself, are aids in treating of the truth. For instance, the cloak was once a fleece; then it was shorn, and became warp and woof; and then it was woven. Accordingly the soul must be prepared and variously exercised, if it would become in the highest degree good. For there is the scientific and the practical element in truth; and the latter flows from the speculative; and there is need of great practice, and exercise, and experience.
But in speculation, one element relates to one's neighbours and another to one's self. Wherefore also training ought to be so moulded as to be adapted to both. He, then, who has acquired a competent acquaintance with the subjects which embrace the principles which conduce to scientific knowledge (gnosis), may stop and remain for the future in quiet, directing his actions in l conformity with his theory.
But for the benefit of one's neighbours, in the case of those who have proclivities for writing, and those who set themselves to deliver the word, both is other culture beneficial, and the reading of the Scriptures of the Lord is necessary, in order to the demonstration of what is said, and especially if those who hear are accessions from Hellenic culture.
Such David describes the Church:
The queen stood on your right hand, enveloped in a golden robe, variegated; and with Hellenic and superabundant accomplishments,
clothed variegated with gold-fringed garments. And the Truth says by the Lord,
For who had known Your counsel, had You not given wisdom, and sent Your Holy Spirit from the Highest; and so the ways of those on earth were corrected, and men learned Your decrees, and were saved by wisdom? For the Gnostic knows things ancient by the Scripture, and conjectures things future: he understands the involutions of words and the solutions of enigmas. He knows beforehand signs and wonders, and the issues of seasons and periods, as we have said already. Do you see the fountain of instructions that takes its rise from wisdom? But to those who object, What use is there in knowing the causes of the manner of the sun's motion, for example, and the rest of the heavenly bodies, or in having studied the theorems of geometry or logic, and each of the other branches of study?— for these are of no service in the discharge of duties, and the Hellenic philosophy is human wisdom, for it is incapable of teaching the truth— the following remarks are to be made. First, that they stumble in reference to the highest of things— namely, the mind's free choice.
For they, it is said, Wisdom 6:10 For the Gnostic alone will do holily, in accordance with reason all that has to be done, as he has learned through the Lord's teaching, received through men.
Again, on the other hand, we may hear:
For in His hand, that is, in His power and wisdom, are both we and our words, and all wisdom and skill in works; for God loves nothing but the man that dwells with wisdom. Wisdom 7:16 And again, they have not read what is said by Solomon; for, treating of the construction of the temple, he says expressly,
And it was Wisdom as artificer that framed it; and Your providence, O Father, governs throughout. Wisdom 14:2-3 And how irrational, to regard philosophy as inferior to architecture and shipbuilding! And the Lord fed the multitude of those that reclined on the grass opposite to Tiberias with the two fishes and the five barley loaves, indicating the preparatory training of the Greeks and Jews previous to the divine grain, which is the food cultivated by the law. For barley is sooner ripe for the harvest than wheat; and the fishes signified the Hellenic philosophy that was produced and moved in the midst of the Gentile billow, given, as they were, for copious food to those lying on the ground, increasing no more, like the fragments of the loaves, but having partaken of the Lord's blessing, and breathed into them the resurrection of Godhead through the power of the Word. But if you are curious, understand one of the fishes to mean the curriculum of study, and the other the philosophy which supervenes. The gatherings point out the word of the Lord.
And the choir of mute fishes rushed to it,
says the Tragic Muse somewhere.
I must decrease, said the prophet John, John 3:30 and the Word of the Lord alone, in which the law terminates,
increase. Understand now for me the mystery of the truth, granting pardon if I shrink from advancing further in the treatment of it, by announcing this alone:
All things were made by Him, and without Him was not even one thing. John 1:3 Certainly He is called
the chief corner stone; in whom the whole building, fitly joined together, grows into an holy temple of God, Ephesians 2:20-21 according to the divine apostle.
I pass over in silence at present the parable which says in the Gospel:
The kingdom of heaven is like a man who cast a net into the sea and out of the multitude of the fishes caught, makes a selection of the better ones. Matthew 13:47-48
And now the wisdom which we possess announces the four virtues in such a way as to show that the sources of them were communicated by the Hebrews to the Greeks. This may be learned from the following:
By which consideration is solved the question propounded to us by the heretics, Whether Adam was created perfect or imperfect? Well, if imperfect, how could the work of a perfect God— above all, that work being man— be imperfect? And if perfect, how did he transgress the commandments? For they shall hear from us that he was not perfect in his creation, but adapted to the reception of virtue. For it is of great importance in regard to virtue to be made fit for its attainment. And it is intended that we should be saved by ourselves. This, then, is the nature of the soul, to move of itself. Then, as we are rational, and philosophy being rational, we have some affinity with it. Now an aptitude is a movement towards virtue, not virtue itself. All, then, as I said, are naturally constituted for the acquisition of virtue.
But one man applies less, one more, to learning and training. Wherefore also some have been competent to attain to perfect virtue, and others have attained to a kind of it. And some, on the other hand, through negligence, although in other respects of good dispositions, have turned to the opposite. Now much more is that knowledge which excels all branches of culture in greatness and in truth, most difficult to acquire, and is attained with much toil.
But, as seems, they know not the mysteries of God. For God created man for immortality, and made him an image of His own nature; according to which nature of Him who knows all, he who is a Gnostic, and righteous, and holy with prudence, hastes to reach the measure of perfect manhood. For not only are actions and thoughts, but words also, pure in the case of the Gnostic:
You have proved mine heart; You have visited me by night, it is said;
You have subjected me to the fire, and unrighteousness was not found in me: so that my mouth shall not speak the works of men.
And why do I say the works of men? He recognises sin itself, which is not brought forward in order to repentance (for this is common to all believers); but what sin is. Nor does he condemn this or that sin, but simply all sin; nor is it what one has done ill that he brings up, but what ought not to be done. Whence also repentance is twofold: that which is common, on account of having transgressed; and that which, from learning the nature of sin, persuades, in the first instance, to keep from sinning, the result of which is not sinning.
Let them not then say, that he who does wrong and sins transgresses through the agency of demons; for then he would be guiltless. But by choosing the same things as demons, by sinning; being unstable, and light, and fickle in his desires, like a demon, he becomes a demoniac man. Now he who is bad, having become, through evil, sinful by nature, becomes depraved, having what he has chosen; and being sinful, sins also in his actions. And again, the good man does right. Wherefore we call not only the virtues, but also right actions, good. And of things that are good we know that some are desirable for themselves, as knowledge; for we hunt for nothing from it when we have it, but only [seek] that it be with us, and that we be in uninterrupted contemplation, and strive to reach it for its own sake. But other things are desirable for other considerations, such as faith, for escape from punishment, and the advantage arising from reward, which accrue from it. For, in the case of many, fear is the cause of their not sinning; and the promise is the means of pursuing obedience, by which comes salvation. Knowledge, then, desirable as it is for its own sake, is the most perfect good; and consequently the things which follow by means of it are good. And punishment is the cause of correction to him who is punished; and to those who are able to see before them he becomes an example, to prevent them falling into the like.
Let us then receive knowledge, not desiring its results, but embracing itself for the sake of knowing. For the first advantage is the habit of knowledge (γνωστική), which furnishes harmless pleasures and exultation both for the present and the future. And exultation is said to be gladness, being a reflection of the virtue which is according to truth, through a kind of exhilaration and relaxation of soul. And the acts which partake of knowledge are good and fair actions. For abundance in the actions that are according to virtue, is the true riches, and destitution in decorous desires is poverty. For the use and enjoyment of necessaries are not injurious in quality, but in quantity, when in excess. Wherefore the Gnostic circumscribes his desires in reference both to possession and to enjoyment, not exceeding the limit of necessity. Therefore, regarding life in this world as necessary for the increase of science (ἐπιστήμη) and the acquisition of knowledge (γνῶσις), he will value highest, not living, but living well. He will therefore prefer neither children, nor marriage, nor parents, to love for God, and righteousness in life. To such an one, his wife, after conception, is as a sister, and is judged as if of the same father; then only recollecting her husband, when she looks on the children; as being destined to become a sister in reality after putting off the flesh, which separates and limits the knowledge of those who are spiritual by the peculiar characteristics of the sexes. For souls, themselves by themselves, are equal. Souls are neither male nor female, when they no longer marry nor are given in marriage. And is not woman translated into man, when she has become equally unfeminine, and manly, and perfect? Such, then, was the laughter of Sarah Genesis 18:12 when she received the good news of the birth of a son; not, in my opinion, that she disbelieved the angel, but that she felt ashamed of the intercourse by means of which she was destined to become the mother of a son.
To those, then, who have repented and not firmly believed, God grants their requests through their supplications. But to those who live sinlessly and gnostically, He gives, when they have but merely entertained the thought. For example, to Anna, on her merely conceiving the thought, conception was vouchsafed of the child Samuel. 1 Samuel 1:13
Ask, says the Scripture,
and I will do. Think, and I will give. For we have heard that God knows the heart, not judging the soul from [external] movement, as we men; nor yet from the event. For it is ridiculous to think so. Nor was it as the architect praises the work when accomplished that God, on making the light and then seeing it, called it good. But He, knowing before He made it what it would be, praised that which was made, He having potentially made good, from the first by His purpose that had no beginning, what was destined to be good actually. Now that which has future He already said beforehand was good, the phrase concealing the truth by hyperbaton. Therefore the Gnostic prays in thought during every hour, being by love allied to God. And first he will ask forgiveness of sins; and after, that he may sin no more; and further, the power of well-doing and of comprehending the whole creation and administration by the Lord, that, becoming pure in heart through the knowledge, which is by the Son of God, he may be initiated into the beatific vision face to face, having heard the Scripture which says,
Fasting with prayer is a good thing. Tobit 12:8
Now fastings signify abstinence from all evils whatsoever, both in action and in word, and in thought itself. As appears, then, righteousness is quadrangular; on all sides equal and like in word, in deed, in abstinence from evils, in beneficence, in gnostic perfection; nowhere, and in no respect halting, so that he does not appear unjust and unequal. As one, then, is righteous, so certainly is he a believer. But as he is a believer, he is not yet also righteous— I mean according to the righteousness of progress and perfection, according to which the Gnostic is called righteous.
For instance, on Abraham becoming a believer, it was reckoned to him for righteousness, he having advanced to the greater and more perfect degree of faith. For he who merely abstains from evil conduct is not just, unless he also attain besides beneficence and knowledge; and for this reason some things are to be abstained from, others are to be done.
By the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 2 Corinthians 6:7 the apostle says, the righteous man is sent on to the inheritance above—by some [arms] defended, by others putting forth his might. For the defence of his panoply alone, and abstinence from sins, are not sufficient for perfection, unless he assume in addition the work of righteousness— activity in doing good.
Then our dexterous man and Gnostic is revealed in righteousness already even here, as Moses, glorified in the face of the soul, Exodus 34:29 as we have formerly said, the body bears the stamp of the righteous soul. For as the mordant of the dyeing process, remaining in the wool, produces in it a certain quality and diversity from other wool; so also in the soul the pain is gone, but the good remains; and the sweet is left, but the base is wiped away. For these are two qualities characteristic of each soul, by which is known that which is glorified, and that which is condemned.
And as in the case of Moses, from his righteous conduct, and from his uninterrupted intercourse with God, who spoke to him, a kind of glorified hue settled on his face; so also a divine power of goodness clinging to the righteous soul in contemplation and in prophecy, and in the exercise of the function of governing, impresses on it something, as it were, of intellectual radiance, like the solar ray, as a visible sign of righteousness, uniting the soul with light, through unbroken love, which is God-bearing and God-borne. Thence assimilation to God the Saviour arises to the Gnostic, as far as permitted to human nature, he being made perfect
as the Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:48
It is He Himself who says,
Little children, a little while I am still with you. John 13:33 Since also God Himself remains blessed and immortal, neither molested nor molesting another; not in consequence of being by nature good, but in consequence of doing good in a manner peculiar to Himself. God being essentially, and proving Himself actually, both Father and good, continues immutably in the self-same goodness. For what is the use of good that does not act and do good?
He, then, who has first moderated his passions and trained himself for impassibility, and developed to the beneficence of gnostic perfection, is here equal to the angels. Luminous already, and like the sun shining in the exercise of beneficence, he speeds by righteous knowledge through the love of God to the sacred abode, like as the apostles. Not that they became apostles through being chosen for some distinguished peculiarity of nature, since also Judas was chosen along with them. But they were capable of becoming apostles on being chosen by Him who foresees even ultimate issues. Matthias, accordingly, who was not chosen along with them, on showing himself worthy of becoming an apostle, is substituted for Judas.
Those, then, also now, who have exercised themselves in the Lord's commandments, and lived perfectly and gnostically according to the Gospel, may be enrolled in the chosen body of the apostles. Such an one is in reality a presbyter of the Church, and a true minister (deacon) of the will of God, if he do and teach what is the Lord's; not as being ordained by men, nor regarded righteous because a presbyter, but enrolled in the presbyterate because righteous. And although here upon earth he be not honoured with the chief seat, he will sit down on the four-and-twenty thrones, judging the people, as John says in the Apocalypse.
For, in truth, the covenant of salvation, reaching down to us from the foundation of the world, through different generations and times, is one, though conceived as different in respect of gift. For it follows that there is one unchangeable gift of salvation given by one God, through one Lord, benefiting in many ways. For which cause the middle wall which separated the Greek from the Jew is taken away, in order that there might be a peculiar people. And so both meet in the one unity of faith; and the selection out of both is one. And the chosen of the chosen are those who by reason of perfect knowledge are called [as the best] from the Church itself, and honoured with the most august glory— the judges and rulers— four-and-twenty (the grace being doubled) equally from Jews and Greeks. Since, according to my opinion, the grades here in the Church, of bishops, presbyters, deacons, are imitations of the angelic glory, and of that economy which, the Scriptures say, awaits those who, following the footsteps of the apostles, have lived in perfection of righteousness according to the Gospel. For these taken up in the clouds, the apostle 1 Thessalonians 4:17 writes, will first minister [as deacons], then be classed in the presbyterate, by promotion in glory (for glory differs 1 Corinthians 15:41 from glory) till they grow into
a perfect man. Ephesians 4:13
Such, according to David, Church far on high, in which are gathered the philosophers of God,
who are Israelites indeed, who are pure in heart, in whom there is no guile; John 1:47; Matthew 5:8 who do not remain in the seventh seat, the place of rest, but are promoted, through the active beneficence of the divine likeness, to the heritage of beneficence which is the eighth grade; devoting themselves to the pure vision of insatiable contemplation.
And other sheep there are also, says the Lord,
which are not of this fold John 10:16 — deemed worthy of another fold and mansion, in proportion to their faith.
But My sheep hear My voice, John 10:27 understanding gnostically the commandments. And this is to be taken in a magnanimous and worthy acceptation, along with also the recompense and accompaniment of works. So that when we hear,
Your faith has saved you, we do not understand Him to say absolutely that those who have believed in any way whatever shall be saved, unless also works follow. But it was to the Jews alone that He spoke this utterance, who kept the law and lived blamelessly, who wanted only faith in the Lord. No one, then, can be a believer and at the same time be licentious; but though he quit the flesh, he must put off the passions, so as to be capable of reaching his own mansion.
Now to know is more than to believe, as to be dignified with the highest honour after being saved is a greater thing than being saved. Accordingly the believer, through great discipline, divesting himself of the passions, passes to the mansion which is better than the former one, viz., to the greatest torment, taking with him the characteristic of repentance from the sins he has committed after baptism. He is tortured then still more— not yet or not quite attaining what he sees others to have acquired. Besides, he is also ashamed of his transgressions. The greatest torments, indeed, are assigned to the believer. For God's righteousness is good, and His goodness is righteous. And though the punishments cease in the course of the completion of the expiation and purification of each one, yet those have very great and permanent grief who are found worthy of the other fold, on account of not being along with those that have been glorified through righteousness.
For instance, Solomon, calling the Gnostic, wise, speaks thus of those who admire the dignity of his mansion:
For they shall see the end of the wise, and to what a degree the Lord has established him. Wisdom 4:17 And of his glory they will say,
This was he whom we once held up to derision, and made a byword of reproach; fools that we were! We thought his life madness, and his end dishonourable. How is he reckoned among the sons of God, and his inheritance among the saints? Wisdom 5:3-5
Not only then the believer, but even the heathen, is judged most righteously. For since God knew in virtue of His prescience that he would not believe, He nevertheless, in order that he might receive his own perfection gave him philosophy, but gave it him previous to faith. And He gave the sun, and the moon, and the stars to be worshipped;
which God, the Law says, Deuteronomy 4:19 made for the nations, that they might not become altogether atheistical, and so utterly perish. But they, also in the instance of this commandment, having become devoid of sense, and addicting themselves to graven images, are judged unless they repent; some of them because, though able, they would not believe God; and others because, though willing, they did not take the necessary pains to become believers. There were also, however, those who, from the worship of the heavenly bodies, did not return to the Maker of them. For this was the sway given to the nations to rise up to God, by means of the worship of the heavenly bodies. But those who would not abide by those heavenly bodies assigned to them, but fell away from them to stocks and stones,
were counted, it is said,
as chaff-dust and as a drop from a jar, Isaiah 40:15 beyond salvation, cast away from the body.
As, then, to be simply saved is the result of medium actions, but to be saved rightly and becomingly is right action, so also all action of the Gnostic may be called right action; that of the simple believer, intermediate action, not yet perfected according to reason, not yet made right according to knowledge; but that of every heathen again is sinful. For it is not simply doing well, but doing actions with a certain aim, and acting according to reason, that the Scriptures exhibit as requisite.
As, then, lyres ought not to be touched by those who are destitute of skill in playing the lyre, nor flutes by those who are unskilled in flute-playing, neither are those to put their hand to affairs who have not knowledge, and know not how to use them in the whole of life.
The struggle for freedom, then, is waged not alone by the athletes of battles in wars, but also in banquets, and in bed, and in the tribunals, by those who are anointed by the word, who are ashamed to become the captives of pleasures.
I would never part with virtue for unrighteous gain. But plainly, unrighteous gain is pleasure and pain, toil and fear; and, to speak comprehensively, the passions of the soul, the present of which is delightful, the future vexatious.
For what is the profit, it is said,
if you gain the world and lose the soul? It is clear, then, that those who do not perform good actions, do not know what is for their own advantage. And if so, neither are they capable of praying aright, so as to receive from God good things; nor, should they receive them, will they be sensible of the boon; nor, should they enjoy them, will they enjoy worthily what they know not; both from their want of knowledge how to use the good things given them, and from their excessive stupidity, being ignorant of the way to avail themselves of the divine gifts.
Therefore let them do what they may;
For it shall be well with me; and Right
Shall be my ally, and I shall not be caught doing evil.
But such a good conscience preserves sanctity towards God and justice towards men; keeping the soul pure with grave thoughts, and pure words, and just deeds. By thus receiving the Lord's power, the soul studies to be God; regarding nothing bad but ignorance, and action contrary to right reason. And giving thanks always for all things to God, by righteous hearing and divine reading, by true investigation, by holy oblation, by blessed prayer; lauding, hymning, blessing, praising, such a soul is never at any time separated from God. Rightly then is it said,
And they who trust in Him shall understand the truth, and those faithful in love shall abide by Him. Wisdom 3:9 You see what statements Wisdom makes about the Gnostics.
Conformably, therefore, there are various abodes, according to the worth of those who have believed. To the point Solomon says,
For there shall be given to him the choice grace of faith, and a more pleasant lot in the temple of the Lord. Wisdom 3:14 For the comparative shows that there are lower parts in the temple of God, which is the whole Church. And the superlative remains to be conceived, where the Lord is. These chosen abodes, which are three, are indicated by the numbers in the Gospel— the thirty, the sixty, the hundred. Matthew 13:8 And the perfect inheritance belongs to those who attain to
a perfect man, according to the image of the Lord. And the likeness is not, as some imagine, that of the human form; for this consideration is impious. Nor is the likeness to the first cause that which consists in virtue. For this utterance is also impious, being that of those who have imagined that virtue in man and in the sovereign God is the same.
You have supposed iniquity, He says,
[in imagining] that I will be like to you. But
it is enough for the disciple to become as the Master, Matthew 25:10 says the Master. To the likeness of God, then, he that is introduced into adoption and the friendship of God, to the just inheritance of the lords and gods is brought; if he be perfected, according to the Gospel, as the Lord Himself taught.
The Gnostic, then, is impressed with the closest likeness, that is, with the mind of the Master; which He being possessed of, commanded and recommended to His disciples and to the prudent. Comprehending this, as He who taught wished, and receiving it in its grand sense, he teaches worthily
on the housetops Matthew 10:27; Luke 12:3 those capable of being built to a lofty height; and begins the doing of what is spoken, in accordance with the example of life. For He enjoined what is possible. And, in truth, the kingly man and Christian ought to be ruler and leader. For we are commanded to be lords over not only the wild beasts without us, but also over the wild passions within ourselves.
Through the knowledge, then, as appears, of a bad and good life is the Gnostic saved, understanding and executing Matthew 5:20
Exert yourself, and prosper, and reign writes David,
because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness; and your right hand shall guide you marvellously, that is, the Lord.
Who then is the wise? And he shall understand these things. Prudent? And he shall know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, Hosea 14:9 says the prophet, showing that the Gnostic alone is able to understand and explain the things spoken by the Spirit obscurely.
And he who understands in that time shall hold his peace, Amos 5:13 says the Scripture, plainly in the way of declaring them to the unworthy. For the Lord says,
He that has ears to hear, let him hear, Matthew 11:15 declaring that hearing and understanding belong not to all. To the point David writes:
Dark water is in the clouds of the skies. At the gleam before Him the clouds passed, hail and coals of fire; showing that the holy words are hidden. He intimates that transparent and resplendent to the Gnostics, like the innocuous hail, they are sent down from God; but that they are dark to the multitude, like extinguished coals out of the fire, which, unless kindled and set on fire, will not give forth fire or light.
The Lord, therefore, it is said,
gives me the tongue of instruction, so as to know in season when it is requisite to speak a word; Isaiah 50:4 not in the way of testimony alone, but also in the way of question and answer.
And the instruction of the Lord opens my mouth. Isaiah 50:5 It is the prerogative of the Gnostic, then, to know how to make use of speech, and when, and how, and to whom. And already the apostle, by saying,
After the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ, Colossians 2:8 makes the asseveration that the Hellenic teaching is elementary, and that of Christ perfect, as we have already intimated before.
Now the wild olive is inserted into the fatness of the olive, Romans 12:17 and is indeed of the same species as the cultivated olives. For the graft uses as soil the tree in which it is engrafted. Now all the plants sprouted forth simultaneously in consequence of the divine order. Wherefore also, though the wild olive be wild, it crowns the Olympic victors. And the elm teaches the vine to be fruitful, by leading it up to a height. Now we see that wild trees attract more nutriment, because they cannot ripen. The wild trees, therefore, have less power of secretion than those that are cultivated. And the cause of their wildness is the want of the power of secretion. The engrafted olive accordingly receives more nutriment from its growing in the wild one; and it gets accustomed, as it were, to secrete the nutriment, becoming thus assimilated to the fatness of the cultivated tree.
So also the philosopher, resembling the wild olive, in having much that is undigested, on account of his devotion to the search, his propensity to follow, and his eagerness to seize the fatness of the truth; if he get besides the divine power, through faith, by being transplanted into the good and mild knowledge, like the wild olive, engrafted in the truly fair and merciful Word, he both assimilates the nutriment that is supplied, and becomes a fair and good olive tree. For engrafting makes worthless shoots noble, and compels the barren to be fruitful by the art of culture and by gnostic skill.
They say that engrafting is effected in four modes: one, that in which the graft must be fitted in between the wood and the bark; resembling the way in which we instruct plain people belonging to the Gentiles, who receive the word superficially. Another is, when the wood is cleft, and there is inserted in it the cultivated branch. And this applies to the case of those who have studied philosophy; for on cutting through their dogmas, the acknowledgment of the truth is produced in them. So also in the case of the Jews, by opening up the Old Testament, the new and noble plant of the olive is inserted. The third mode of engrafting applies to rustics and heretics, who are brought by force to the truth. For after smoothing off both suckers with a sharp pruning-hook, till the pith is laid bare, but not wounded, they are bound together. And the fourth is that form of engrafting called budding. For a bud (eye) is cut out of a trunk of a good sort, a circle being drawn round in the bark along with it, of the size of the palm. Then the trunk is stripped, to suit the eye, over an equal circumference. And so the graft is inserted, tied round, and daubed with clay, the bud being kept uninjured and unstained. This is the style of gnostic teaching, which is capable of looking into things themselves. This mode is, in truth, of most service in the case of cultivated trees. And
the engrafting into the good olive mentioned by the apostle, may be [engrafting into] Christ Himself; the uncultivated and unbelieving nature being transplanted into Christ— that is, in the case of those who believe in Christ. But it is better [to understand it] of the engrafting of each one's faith in the soul itself. For also the Holy Spirit is thus somehow transplanted by distribution, according to the circumscribed capacity of each one, but without being circumscribed.
Now, discoursing on knowledge, Solomon speaks thus:
For wisdom is resplendent and fadeless, and is easily beheld by those who love her. She is beforehand in making herself known to those who desire her. He that rises early for her shall not toil wearily. For to think about her is the perfection of good sense. And he that keeps vigils for her shall quickly be relieved of anxiety. For she goes about, herself seeking those worthy of her (for knowledge belongs not to all); and in all ways she benignly shows herself to them. Wisdom 6:12-15 Now the paths are the conduct of life, and the variety that exists in the covenants. Presently he adds:
And in every thought she meets them, Wisdom 2:16 being variously contemplated, that is, by all discipline. Then he subjoins, adducing love, which perfects by syllogistic reasoning and true propositions, drawing thus a most convincing and true inference,
For the beginning of her is the truest desire of instruction, that is, of knowledge;
prudence is the love of instruction, and love is the keeping of its laws; and attention to its laws is the confirmation of immortality; and immortality causes nearness to God. The desire of wisdom leads, then, to the kingdom. Wisdom 6:17-20
For he teaches, as I think, that true instruction is desire for knowledge; and the practical exercise of instruction produces love of knowledge. And love is the keeping of the commandments which lead to knowledge. And the keeping of them is the establishment of the commandments, from which immortality results.
And immortality brings us near to God.
If, then, the love of knowledge produces immortality, and leads the kingly man near to God the King, knowledge ought to be sought till it is found. Now seeking is an effort at grasping, and finds the subject by means of certain signs. And discovery is the end and cessation of inquiry, which has now its object in its gasp. And this is knowledge. And this discovery, properly so called, is knowledge, which is the apprehension of the object of search. And they say that a proof is either the antecedent, or the coincident, or the consequent. The discovery, then, of what is sought respecting God, is the teaching through the Son; and the proof of our Saviour being the very Son of God is the prophecies which preceded His coming, announcing Him; and the testimonies regarding Him which attended His birth in the world; in addition, His powers proclaimed and openly shown after His ascension.
The proof of the truth being with us, is the fact of the Son of God Himself having taught us. For if in every inquiry these universals are found, a person and a subject, that which is truly the truth is shown to be in our hands alone. For the Son of God is the person of the truth which is exhibited; and the subject is the power of faith, which prevails over the opposition of every one whatever, and the assault of the whole world.
But since this is confessedly established by eternal facts and reasons, and each one who thinks that there is no Providence has already been seen to deserve punishment and not contradiction, and is truly an atheist, it is our aim to discover what doing, and in what manner living, we shall reach the knowledge of the sovereign God, and how, honouring the Divinity, we may become authors of our own salvation. Knowing and learning, not from the Sophists, but from God Himself, what is well-pleasing to Him, we endeavour to do what is just and holy. Now it is well-pleasing to Him that we should be saved; and salvation is effected through both well-doing and knowledge, of both of which the Lord is the teacher.
If, then, according to Plato, it is only possible to learn the truth either from God or from the progeny of God, with reason we, selecting testimonies from the divine oracles, boast of learning the truth by the Son of God, prophesied at first, and then explained.
But the things which co-operate in the discovery of truth are not to be rejected. Philosophy, accordingly, which proclaims a Providence, and the recompense of a life of felicity, and the punishment, on the other hand, of a life of misery, teaches theology comprehensively; but it does not preserve accuracy and particular points; for neither respecting the Son of God, nor respecting the economy of Providence, does it treat similarly with us; for it did not know the worship of God.
Wherefore also the heresies of the Barbarian philosophy, although they speak of one God, though they sing the praises of Christ, speak without accuracy, not in accordance with truth; for they discover another God, and receive Christ not as the prophecies deliver. But their false dogmas, while they oppose the conduct that is according to the truth, are against us. For instance, Paul circumcised Timothy because of the Jews who believed, in order that those who had received their training from the law might not revolt from the faith through his breaking such points of the law as were understood more cam ally, knowing right well that circumcision does not justify; for he professed that
all things were for all by conformity, preserving those of the dogmas that were essential,
that he might gain all. And Daniel, under the king of the Persians, wore
the chain, though he despised not the afflictions of the people.
The liars, then, in reality are not those who for the sake of the scheme of salvation conform, nor those who err in minute points, but those who are wrong in essentials, and reject the Lord, and as far as in them lies deprive the Lord of the true teaching; who do not quote or deliver the Scriptures in a manner worthy of God and of the Lord; for the deposit rendered to God, according to the teaching of the Lord by His apostles, is the understanding and the practice of the godly tradition.
And what you hear in the ear— that is, in a hidden manner, and in a mystery (for such things are figuratively said to be spoken in the ear)—
proclaim, He says,
on the housetops, understanding them sublimely, and delivering them in a lofty strain, and according to the canon of the truth explaining the Scriptures; for neither prophecy nor the Saviour Himself announced the divine mysteries simply so as to be easily apprehended by all and sundry, but express them in parables. The apostles accordingly say of the Lord, that Matthew 13:34 and if
all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made, John 1:3 consequently also prophecy and the law were by Him, and were spoken by Him in parables.
But all things are right, says the Scripture, Proverbs 8:9
before those who understand, that is, those who receive and observe, according to the ecclesiastical rule, the exposition of the Scriptures explained by Him; and the ecclesiastical rule is the concord and harmony of the law and the prophets in the covenant delivered at the coming of the Lord. Knowledge is then followed by practical wisdom, and practical wisdom by self-control: for it may be said that practical wisdom is divine knowledge, and exists in those who are deified; but that self-control is mortal, and subsists in those who philosophize, and are not yet wise. But if virtue is divine, so is also the knowledge of it; while self-control is a sort of imperfect wisdom which aspires after wisdom, and exerts itself laboriously, and is not contemplative. As certainly righteousness, being human, is, as being a common thing, subordinate to holiness, which subsists through the divine righteousness; for the righteousness of the perfect man does not rest on civil contracts, or on the prohibition of law, but flows from his own spontaneous action and his love to God.
For many reasons, then, the Scriptures hide the sense. First, that we may become inquisitive, and be ever on the watch for the discovery of the words of salvation. Then it was not suitable for all to understand, so that they might not receive harm in consequence of taking in another sense the things declared for salvation by the Holy Spirit. Wherefore the holy mysteries of the prophecies are veiled in the parables— preserved for chosen men, selected to knowledge in consequence of their faith; for the style of the Scriptures is parabolic. Wherefore also the Lord, who was not of the world, came as one who was of the world to men. For He was clothed with all virtue; and it was His aim to lead man, the foster-child of the world, up to the objects of intellect, and to the most essential truths by knowledge, from one world to another.
Wherefore also He employed metaphorical description; for such is the parable—a narration based on some subject which is not the principal subject, but similar to the principal subject, and leading him who understands to what is the true and principal thing; or, as some say, a mode of speech presenting with vigour, by means of other circumstances, what is the principal subject.
And now also the whole economy which prophesied of the Lord appears indeed a parable to those who know not the truth, when one speaks and the rest hear that the Son of God— of Him who made the universe— assumed flesh, and was conceived in the virgin's womb (as His material body was produced), and subsequently, as was the case, suffered and rose again, being
to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness, as the apostle says.
But on the Scriptures being opened up, and declaring the truth to those who have ears, they proclaim the very suffering endured by the flesh, which the Lord assumed, to be
the power and wisdom of God. And finally, the parabolic style of Scripture being of the greatest antiquity, as we have shown, abounded most, as was to be expected, in the prophets, in order that the Holy Spirit might show that the philosophers among the Greeks, and the wise men among the Barbarians besides, were ignorant of the future coming of the Lord, and of the mystic teaching that was to be delivered by Him. Rightly then, prophecy, in proclaiming the Lord, in order not to seem to some to blaspheme while speaking what was beyond the ideas of the multitude, embodied its declarations in expressions capable of leading to other conceptions. Now all the prophets who foretold the Lord's coming, and the holy mysteries accompanying it, were persecuted and killed. As also the Lord Himself, in explaining the Scriptures to them, and His disciples who preached the word like Him, and subsequently to His life, used parables. Whence also Peter, in his Preaching, speaking of the apostles, says:
But we, unrolling the books of the prophets which we possess, who name Jesus Christ, partly in parables, partly in enigmas, partly expressly and in so many words, find His coming and death, and cross, and all the rest of the tortures which the Jews inflicted on Him, and His resurrection and assumption to heaven previous to the capture of Jerusalem. As it is written, These things are all that He behooves to suffer, and what should be after Him. Recognising them, therefore, we have believed in God in consequence of what is written respecting Him.
And after a little again he draws the inference that the Scriptures owed their origin to the divine providence, asserting as follows:
For we know that God enjoined these things, and we say nothing apart from the Scriptures.
Now the Hebrew dialect, like all the rest, has certain properties, consisting in a mode of speech which exhibits the national character. Dialect is accordingly defined as a style of speech produced by the national character. But prophecy is not marked by those dialects. For in the Hellenic writings, what are called changes of figures purposely produce onscurations, deduced after the style of our prophecies. But this is effected through the voluntary departure from direct speech which takes place in metrical or offhand diction. A figure, then, is a form of speech transferred from what is literal to what is not literal, for the sake of the composition, and on account of a diction useful in speech.
But prophecy does not employ figurative forms in the expressions for the sake of beauty of diction. But from the fact that truth appertains not to all, it is veiled in manifold ways, causing the light to arise only on those who are initiated into knowledge, who seek the truth through love. The proverb, according to the Barbarian philosophy, is called a mode of prophecy, and the parable is so called, and the enigma in addition. Further also, they are called
wisdom; and again, as something different from it,
instruction and words of prudence, and
turnings of words, and
true righteousness; and again,
teaching to direct judgment, and
subtlety to the simple, which is the result of training,
and perception and thought, with which the young catechumen is imbued. Proverbs 1:1-4
And if it was the case that the Hellenic dialects received their appellation from Hellen, the son of Zeus, surnamed Deucalion, from the chronology which we have already exhibited, it is comparatively easy to perceive by how many generations the dialects that obtained among the Greeks are posterior to the language of the Hebrews.
But as the work advances, we shall in each section, noting the figures of speech mentioned above by the prophet, exhibit the gnostic mode of life, showing it systematically according to the rule of the truth.
Did not the Power also, that appeared to Hermas in the Vision, in the form of the Church, give for transcription the book which she wished to be made known to the elect? And this, he says, he transcribed to the letter, without finding how to complete the syllables. And this signified that the Scripture is clear to all, when taken according to the bare reading; and that this is the faith which occupies the place of the rudiments. Wherefore also the figurative expression is employed,
reading according to the letter; while we understand that the gnostic unfolding of the Scriptures, when faith has already reached an advanced state, is likened to reading according to the syllables.
Further, Esaias the prophet is ordered to take
a new book, and write in it Isaiah 8:1 certain things: the Spirit prophesying that through the exposition of the Scriptures there would come afterwards the sacred knowledge, which at that period was still unwritten, because not yet known. For it was spoken from the beginning to those only who understand. Now that the Saviour has taught the apostles, the unwritten rendering of the written [Scripture] has been handed down also to us, inscribed by the power of God on hearts new, according to the renovation of the book. Thus those of highest repute among the Greeks, dedicate the fruit of the pomegranate to Hermes, who they say is speech, on account of its interpretation. For speech conceals much. Rightly, therefore, Jesus the son of Nave saw Moses, when taken up [to heaven], double—one Moses with the angels, and one on the mountains, honoured with burial in their ravines. And Jesus saw this spectacle below, being elevated by the Spirit, along also with Caleb. But both do not see similarly. But the one descended with greater speed, as if the weight he carried was great; while the other, on descending after him, subsequently related the glory which he beheld, being able to perceive more than the other as having grown purer; the narrative, in my opinion, showing that knowledge is not the privilege of all. Since some look at the body of the Scriptures, the expressions and the names as to the body of Moses; while others see through to the thoughts and what it is signified by the names, seeking the Moses that is with the angels.
Many also of those who called to the Lord said,
Son of David, have mercy on me. A few, too, knew Him as the Son of God; as Peter, whom also He pronounced blessed,
for flesh and blood revealed not the truth to him, but His Father in heaven, Matthew 16:17 — showing that the Gnostic recognises the Son of the Omnipotent, not by His flesh conceived in the womb, but by the Father's own power. That it is therefore not only to those who read simply that the acquisition of the truth is so difficult, but that not even to those whose prerogative the knowledge of the truth is, is the contemplation of it vouch-safed all at once, the history of Moses teaches, until, accustomed to gaze, at the Hebrews on the glory of Moses, and the prophets of Israel on the visions of angels, so we also become able to look the splendours of truth in the face.
Let the Decalogue be set forth cursorily by us as a specimen for gnostic exposition.
That ten is a sacred number, it is superfluous to say now. And if the tables that were written were the work of God, they will be found to exhibit physical creation. For by the
finger of God is understood the power of God, by which the creation of heaven and earth is accomplished; of both of which the tables will be understood to be symbols. For the writing and handiwork of God put on the table is the creation of the world.
And the Decalogue, viewed as an image of heaven, embraces sun and moon, stars, clouds, light, wind, water, air, darkness, fire. This is the physical Decalogue of the heaven.
And the representation of the earth contains men, cattle, reptiles, wild beasts; and of the inhabitants of the water, fishes and whales; and again, of the winged tribes, those that are carnivorous, and those that use mild food; and of plants likewise, both fruit-bearing and barren. This is the physical Decalogue of the earth.
And perhaps the two tables themselves may be the prophecy of the two covenants. They were accordingly mystically renewed, as ignorance along with sin abounded. The commandments are written, then, doubly, as appears, for twofold spirits, the ruling and the subject. Galatians 5:17
And there is a ten in man himself: the five senses, and the power of speech, and that of reproduction; and the eighth is the spiritual principle communicated at his creation; and the ninth the ruling faculty of the soul; and tenth, there is the distinctive characteristic of the Holy Spirit, which comes to him through faith.
Besides, in addition to these ten human parts, the law appear to give its injunctions to sight, and hearing, and smell, and touch, and taste, and to the organs subservient to these, which are double— the hands and the feet. For such is the formation of man. And the soul is introduced, and previous to it the ruling faculty, by which we reason, not produced in procreation; so that without it there is made up the number ten, of the faculties by which all the activity of man is carried out. For in order, straightway on man's entering existence, his life begins with sensations. We accordingly assert that rational and ruling power is the cause of the constitution of the living creature; also that this, the irrational part, is animated, and is a part of it. Now the vital force, in which is comprehended the power of nutrition and growth, and generally of motion, is assigned to the carnal spirit, which has great susceptibility of motion, and passes in all directions through the senses and the rest of the body, and through the body is the primary subject of sensations. But the power of choice, in which investigation, and study, and knowledge, reside, belongs to the ruling faculty. But all the faculties are placed in relation to one— the ruling faculty: it is through that man lives, and lives in a certain way.
Through the corporeal spirit, then, man perceives, desires, rejoices, is angry, is nourished, grows. It is by it, too, that thoughts and conceptions advance to actions. And when it masters the desires, the ruling faculty reigns.
The commandment, then,
You shall not lust, says, you shall not serve the carnal spirit, but shall rule over it; Galatians 5:17 and excites to disorderly conduct against nature;
and the Spirit against the flesh exercises sway, in order that the conduct of the man may be according to nature.
Is not man, then, rightly said
to have been made in the image of God?— not in the form of his [corporeal] structure; but inasmuch as God creates all things by the Word (λόγῳ), and the man who has become a Gnostic performs good actions by the faculty of reason (τῷ λογικῷ), properly therefore the two tables are also said to mean the commandments that were given to the twofold spirits,— those communicated before the law to that which was created, and to the ruling faculty; and the movements of the senses are both copied in the mind, and manifested in the activity which proceeds from the body. For apprehension results from both combined. Again, as sensation is related to the world of sense, so is thought to that of intellect. And actions are twofold— those of thought, those of act.
The first commandment of the Decalogue shows that there is one only Sovereign God; Exodus 20:2-3 who led the people from the land of Egypt through the desert to their fatherland; that they might apprehend His power, as they were able, by means of the divine works, and withdraw from the idolatry of created things, putting all their hope in the true God.
The second word intimated that men ought not to take and confer the august power of God (which is the name, for this alone were many even yet capable of learning), and transfer His title to things created and vain, which human artificers have made, among which
He that is is not ranked. For in His uncreated identity,
He that is is absolutely alone.
And the fourth word is that which intimates that the world was created by God, and that He gave us the seventh day as a rest, on account of the trouble that there is in life. For God is incapable of weariness, and suffering, and want. But we who bear flesh need rest. The seventh day, therefore, is proclaimed a rest— abstraction from ills— preparing for the Primal Day, our true rest; which, in truth, is the first creation of light, in which all things are viewed and possessed. From this day the first wisdom and knowledge illuminate us. For the light of truth— a light true, casting no shadow, is the Spirit of God indivisibly divided to all, who are sanctified by faith, holding the place of a luminary, in order to the knowledge of real existences. By following Him, therefore, through our whole life, we become impassible; and this is to rest.
Wherefore Solomon also says, that before heaven, and earth, and all existences, Wisdom had arisen in the Almighty; the participation of which— that which is by power, I mean, not that by essence— teaches a man to know by apprehension things divine and human. Having reached this point, we must mention these things by the way; since the discourse has turned on the seventh and the eighth. For the eighth may possibly turn out to be properly the seventh, and the seventh manifestly the sixth, and the latter properly the Sabbath, and the seventh a day of work. For the creation of the world was concluded in six days. For the motion of the sun from solstice to solstice is completed in six months— in the course of which, at one time the leaves fall, and at another plants bud and seeds come to maturity. And they say that the embryo is perfected exactly in the sixth month, that is, in one hundred and eighty days in addition to the two and a half, as Polybus the physician relates in his book On the Eighth Month, and Aristotle the philosopher in his book On Nature. Hence the Pythagoreans, as I think, reckon six the perfect number, from the creation of the world, according to the prophet, and call it Meseuthys and Marriage, from its being the middle of the even numbers, that is, of ten and two. For it is manifestly at an equal distance from both.
And as marriage generates from male and female, so six is generated from the odd number three, which is called the masculine number, and the even number two, which is considered the feminine. For twice three are six.
Such, again, is the number of the most general motions, according to which all origination takes place— up, down, to the right, to the left, forward, backward. Rightly, then, they reckon the number seven motherless and childless, interpreting the Sabbath, and figuratively expressing the nature of the rest, in which
they neither marry nor are given in marriage any more. Luke 20:35 For neither by taking from one number and adding to another of those within ten is seven produced; nor when added to any number within the ten does it make up any of them.
And they called eight a cube, counting the fixed sphere along with the seven revolving ones, by which is produced
the great year, as a kind of period of recompense of what has been promised.
Thus the Lord, who ascended the mountain, the fourth, becomes the sixth, and is illuminated all round with spiritual light, by laying bare the power proceeding from Him, as far as those selected to see were able to behold it, by the Seventh, the Voice, proclaimed to be the Son of God; in order that they, persuaded respecting Him, might have rest; while He by His birth, which was indicated by the sixth conspicuously marked, becoming the eighth, might appear to be God in a body of flesh, by displaying His power, being numbered indeed as a man, but being concealed as to who He was. For six is reckoned in the order of numbers, but the succession of the letters acknowledges the character which is not written. In this case, in the numbers themselves, each unit is preserved in its order up to seven and eight. But in the number of the characters, Zeta becomes six and Eta seven.
And the character having somehow slipped into writing, should we follow it out thus, the seven became six, and the eight seven.
Wherefore also man is said to have been made on the sixth day, who became faithful to Him who is the sign (τῷ ἐπισήμῳ ), so as straightway to receive the rest of the Lord's inheritance. Some such thing also is indicated by the sixth hour in the scheme of salvation, in which man was perfected. Further, of the eight, the intermediates are seven; and of the seven, the intervals are shown to be six. For that is another ground, in which seven glorifies eight, and
The sensible types of these, then, are the sounds we pronounce. Thus the Lord Himself is called
Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, Revelation 21:6
by whom all things were made, and without whom not even one thing was made. John 1:3 God's resting is not, then, as some conceive, that God ceased from doing. For, being good, if He should ever cease from doing good, then would He cease from being God, which it is sacrilege even to say. The resting is, therefore, the ordering that the order of created things should be preserved inviolate, and that each of the creatures should cease from the ancient disorder. For the creations on the different days followed in a most important succession; so that all things brought into existence might have honour from priority, created together in thought, but not being of equal worth. Nor was the creation of each signified by the voice, inasmuch as the creative work is said to have made them at once. For something must needs have been named first. Wherefore those things were announced first, from which came those that were second, all things being originated together from one essence by one power. For the will of God was one, in one identity. And how could creation take place in time, seeing time was born along with things which exist.
And now the whole world of creatures born alive, and things that grow, revolves in sevens. The first-born princes of the angels, who have the greatest power, are seven. The mathematicians also say that the planets, which perform their course around the earth, are seven; by which the Chaldeans think that all which concerns mortal life is effected through sympathy, in consequence of which they also undertake to tell things respecting the future.
And of the fixed stars, the Pleiades are seven. And the Bears, by the help of which agriculture and navigation are carried through, consist of seven stars. And in periods of seven days the moon undergoes its changes. In the first week she becomes half moon; in the second, full moon; and in the third, in her wane, again half moon; and in the fourth she disappears. Further, as Seleucus the mathematician lays down, she has seven phases. First, from being invisible she becomes crescent-shaped, then half moon, then gibbous and full; and in her wane again gibbous, and in like manner half moon and crescent-shaped.
On a seven-stringed lyre we shall sing new hymns,
writes a poet of note, teaching us that the ancient lyre was seven-toned. The organs of the senses situated on our face are also seven— two eyes, two passages of hearing, two nostrils, and the seventh the mouth.
And that the changes in the periods of life take place by sevens, the Elegies of Solon teach thus:—
The child, while still an infant, in seven years,
Produces and puts forth its fence of teeth;
And when God seven years more completes,
He shows of puberty's approach the signs;
And in the third, the beard on growing cheek
With down o'erspreads the bloom of changing skin;
And in the fourth septenniad, at his best
In strength, of manliness he shows the signs;
And in the fifth, of marriage, now mature,
And of posterity, the man bethinks;
Nor does he yet desire vain works to see.
The seventh and eighth septenniads see him now
In mind and speech mature, till fifty years;
And in the ninth he still has vigour left,
But strength and body are for virtue great
Less than of yore; when, seven years more, God brings
To end, then not too soon may he submit to die.
Again, in diseases the seventh day is that of the crisis; and the fourteenth, in which nature struggles against the causes of the diseases. And a myriad such instances are adduced by Hermippus of Berytus, in his book On the Number Seven, regarding it as holy. And the blessed David delivers clearly to those who know the mystic account of seven and eight, praising thus:
Our years were exercised like a spider. The days of our years in them are seventy years; but if in strength, eighty years. And that will be to reign. That, then, we may be taught that the world was originated, and not suppose that God made it in time, prophecy adds:
This is the book of the generation: also of the things in them, when they were created in the day that God made heaven and earth. Genesis 2:4 For the expression
when they were created intimates an indefinite and dateless production. But the expression
in the day that God made, that is, in and by which God made
all things, and
without which not even one thing was made, points out the activity exerted by the Son. As David says,
This is the day which the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it; that is, in consequence of the knowledge imparted by Him, let us celebrate the divine festival; for the Word that throws light on things hidden, and by whom each created thing came into life and being, is called day.
And, in fine, the Decalogue, by the letter Iota, signifies the blessed name, presenting Jesus, who is the Word.
Now the fifth in order is the command on the honour of father and mother. And it clearly announces God as Father and Lord. Wherefore also it calls those who know Him sons and gods. The Creator of the universe is their Lord and Father; and the mother is not, as some say, the essence from which we sprang, nor, as others teach, the Church, but the divine knowledge and wisdom, as Solomon says, when he terms wisdom
the mother of the just, and says that it is desirable for its own sake. And the knowledge of all, again, that is lovely and venerable, proceeds from God through the Son.
Then follows the command about murder. Now murder is a sure destruction. He, then, that wishes to extirpate the true doctrine of God and of immortality, in order to introduce falsehood, alleging either that the universe is not under Providence, or that the world is uncreated, or affirming anything against true doctrine, is most pernicious.
This is followed by the command respecting adultery. Now it is adultery, if one, abandoning the ecclesiastical and true knowledge, and the persuasion respecting God, accedes to false and incongruous opinion, either by deifying any created object, or by making an idol of anything that exists not, so as to overstep, or rather step from, knowledge. And to the Gnostic false opinion is foreign, as the true belongs to him, and is allied with him. Wherefore the noble apostle calls one of the kinds of fornication, idolatry, in following the prophet, who says:
[My people] has committed fornication with stock and stone. They have said to the stock, You are my father; and to the stone, You have begotten me.
And after this is the command respecting theft. As, then, he that steals what is another's, doing great wrong, rightly incurs ills suitable to his deserts; so also does he, who arrogates to himself divine works by the art of the statuary or the painter, and pronounces himself to be the maker of animals and plants. Likewise those, too, who mimic the true philosophy are thieves. Whether one be a husbandman or the father of a child, he is an agent in depositing seeds. But it is God who, ministering the growth and perfection of all things, brings the things produced to what is in accordance with their nature. But the most, in common also with the philosophers, attribute growth and changes to the stars as the primary cause, robbing the Father of the universe, as far as in them lies, of His tireless might.
The elements, however, and the stars— that is, the administrative powers— are ordained for the accomplishment of what is essential to the administration, and are influenced and moved by what is commanded to them, in the way in which the Word of the Lord leads, since it is the nature of the divine power to work all things secretly. He, accordingly, who alleges that he has conceived or made anything which pertains to creation, will suffer the punishment of his impious audacity.
And the tenth is the command respecting all lusts. As, then, he who entertains unbecoming desires is called to account; in the same way he is not allowed to desire things false, or to suppose that, of created objects, those that are animate have power of themselves, and that inanimate things can at all save or hurt. And should one say that an antidote cannot heal or hemlock kill, he is unwittingly deceived. For none of these operates except one makes use of the plant and the drug; just as the axe does not without one to cut with it, or a saw without one sawing with it. And as they do not work by themselves, but have certain physical qualities which accomplish their proper work by the exertion of the artisan; so also, by the universal providence of God, through the medium of secondary causes, the operative power is propagated in succession to individual objects.
But, as appears, the philosophers of the Greeks, while naming God, do not know Him. But their philosophical speculations, according to Empedocles,
as passing over the tongue of the multitude, are poured out of mouths that know little of the whole. For as art changes the light of the sun into fire by passing it through a glass vessel full of water, so also philosophy, catching a spark from the divine Scripture, is visible in a few. Also, as all animals breathe the same air, some in one way, others in another, and to a different purpose; so also a considerable number of people occupy themselves with the truth, or rather with discourse concerning the truth. For they do not say anything respecting God, but expound Him by attributing their own affections to God. For they spend life in seeking the probable, not the true. But truth is not taught by imitation, but by instruction. For it is not that we may seem good that we believe in Christ, as it is not alone for the purpose of being seen, while in the sun, that we pass into the sun. But in the one case for the purpose of being warmed; and in the other, we are compelled to be Christians in order to be excellent and good. For the kingdom belongs pre-eminently to the violent, who, from investigation, and study, and discipline, reap this fruit, that they become kings.
He, then, who imitates opinion shows also preconception. When then one, having got an inkling of the subject, kindles it within in his soul by desire and study, he sets everything in motion afterwards in order to know it. For that which one does not apprehend, neither does he desire it, nor does he embrace the advantage flowing from it. Subsequently, therefore, the Gnostic at last imitates the Lord, as far as allowed to men, having received a sort of quality akin to the Lord Himself, in order to assimilation to God. But those who are not proficient in knowledge cannot judge the truth by rule. It is not therefore possible to share in the gnostic contemplations, unless we empty ourselves of our previous notions. For the truth in regard to every object of intellect and of sense is thus simply universally declared. For instance, we may distinguish the truth of painting from that which is vulgar, and decorous music from licentious. There is, then, also a truth of philosophy as distinct from the other philosophies, and a true beauty as distinct from the spurious. It is not then the partial truths, of which truth is predicated, but the truth itself, that we are to investigate, not seeking to learn names. For what is to be investigated respecting God is not one thing, but ten thousand. There is a difference between declaring God, and declaring things about God. And to speak generally, in everything the accidents are to be distinguished from the essence.
Suffice it for me to say, that the Lord of all is God; and I say the Lord of all absolutely, nothing being left by way of exception.
Since, then, the forms of truth are two— the names and the things— some discourse of names, occupying themselves with the beauties of words: such are the philosophers among the Greeks. But we who are Barbarians have the things. Now it was not in vain that the Lord chose to make use of a mean form of body; so that no one praising the grace and admiring the beauty might turn his back on what was said, and attending to what ought to be abandoned, might be cut off from what is intellectual. We must therefore occupy ourselves not with the expression, but the meaning.
To those, then, who are not gifted with the power of apprehension, and are not inclined to knowledge, the word is not entrusted; since also the ravens imitate human voices, having no understanding of the thing which they say. And intellectual apprehension depends on faith. Thus also Homer said:—
Father of men and gods,—
knowing not who the Father is, or how He is Father.
And as to him who has hands it is natural to grasp, and to him who has sound eyes to see the light; so it is the natural prerogative of him who has received faith to apprehend knowledge, if he desires, on
the foundation laid, to work, and build up
gold, silver, precious stones. 1 Corinthians 3:12
Accordingly he does not profess to wish to participate, but begins to do so. Nor does it belong to him to intend, but to be regal, and illuminated, and gnostic. Nor does it appertain to him to wish to grasp things in name, but in fact.
For God, being good, on account of the principal part of the whole creation, seeing He wishes to save it, was induced to make the rest also; conferring on them at the beginning this first boon, that of existence. For that to be is far better than not to be, will be admitted by every one. Then, according to the capabilities of their nature, each one was and is made, advancing to that which is better.
So there is no absurdity in philosophy having been given by Divine Providence as a preparatory discipline for the perfection which is by Christ; unless philosophy is ashamed at learning from Barbarian knowledge how to advance to truth. But if
the very hairs are numbered, and the most insignificant motions, how shall not philosophy be taken into account? For to Samson power was given in his hair, in order that he might perceive that the worthless arts that refer to the things in this life, which lie and remain on the ground after the departure of the soul, were not given without divine power.
But it is said Providence, from above, from what is of prime importance, as from the head, reaches to all,
as the ointment, it is said,
which descends to Aaron's beard, and to the skirt of his garment (that is, of the great High Priest,
by whom all things were made, and without whom not even one thing was made John 1:3); not to the ornament of the body; for Philosophy is outside of the People, like raiment. The philosophers, therefore, who, trained to their own peculiar power of perception by the spirit of perception, when they investigate, not a part of philosophy, but philosophy absolutely, testify to the truth in a truth-loving and humble spirit; if in the case of good things said by those even who are of different sentiments they advance to understanding, through the divine administration, and the ineffable Goodness, which always, as far as possible, leads the nature of existences to that which is better. Then, by cultivating the acquaintance not of Greeks alone, but also of Barbarians, from the exercise common to their proper intelligence, they are conducted to Faith. And when they have embraced the foundation of truth, they receive in addition the power of advancing further to investigation. And thence they love to be learners, and aspiring after knowledge, haste to salvation.
Thus Scripture says, that
the spirit of perception was given to the artificers from God. Exodus 28:3 And this is nothing else than Understanding, a faculty of the soul, capable of studying existences,— of distinguishing and comparing what succeeds as like and unlike—of enjoining and forbidding, and of conjecturing the future. And it extends not to the arts alone, but even to philosophy itself.
Why, then, is the serpent called wise? Because even in its wiles there may be found a connection, and distinction, and combination, and conjecturing of the future. And so very many crimes are concealed; because the wicked arrange for themselves so as by all means to escape punishment.
And Wisdom being manifold, pervading the whole world, and all human affairs, varies its appellation in each case. When it applies itself to first causes, it is called Understanding (νόησις). When, however, it confirms this by demonstrative reasoning, it is termed Knowledge, and Wisdom, and Science. When it is occupied in what pertains to piety, and receives without speculation the primal Word in consequence of the maintenance of the operation in it, it is called Faith. In the sphere of things of sense, establishing that which appears as being truest, it is Right Opinion. In operations, again, performed by skill of hand, it is Art. But when, on the other hand, without the study of primary causes, by the observation of similarities, and by transposition, it makes any attempt or combination, it is called Experiment. But belonging to it, and supreme and essential, is the Holy Spirit, which above all he who, in consequence of [divine] guidance, has believed, receives after strong faith. Philosophy, then, partaking of a more exquisite perception, as has been shown from the above statements, participates in Wisdom.
Logical discussion, then, of intellectual subjects, with selection and assent, is called Dialectics; which establishes, by demonstration, allegations respecting truth, and demolishes the doubts brought forward.
Those, then, who assert that philosophy did not come hither from God, all but say that God does not know each particular thing, and that He is not the cause of all good things; if, indeed, each of these belongs to the class of individual things. But nothing that exists could have subsisted at all, had God not willed. And if He willed, then philosophy is from God, He having willed it to be such as it is, for the sake of those who not otherwise than by its means would abstain from what is evil. For God knows all things— not those only which exist, but those also which shall be— and how each thing shall be. And foreseeing the particular movements,
He surveys all things, and hears all things, seeing the soul naked within; and possesses from eternity the idea of each thing individually. And what applies to theatres, and to the parts of each object, in looking at, looking round, and taking in the whole in one view, applies also to God. For in one glance He views all things together, and each thing by itself; but not all things, by way of primary intent.
Now, then, many things in life take their rise in some exercise of human reason, having received the kindling spark from God. For instance, health by medicine, and soundness of body through gymnastics, and wealth by trade, have their origin and existence in consequence of Divine Providence indeed, but in consequence, too, of human co-operation. Understanding also is from God.
But God's will is especially obeyed by the free-will of good men. Since many advantages are common to good and bad men: yet they are nevertheless advantageous only to men of goodness and probity, for whose sake God created them. For it was for the use of good men that the influence which is in God's gifts was originated. Besides, the thoughts of virtuous men are produced through the inspiration of God; the soul being disposed in the way it is, and the divine will being conveyed to human souls, particular divine ministers contributing to such services. For regiments of angels are distributed over the nations and cities. And, perchance, some are assigned to individuals.
The Shepherd, then, cares for each of his sheep; and his closest inspection is given to those who are excellent in their natures, and are capable of being most useful. Such are those fit to lead and teach, in whom the action of Providence is conspicuously seen; whenever either by instruction, or government, or administration, God wishes to benefit. But He wishes at all times. Wherefore He moves those who are adapted to useful exertion in the things which pertain to virtue, and peace, and beneficence. But all that is characterized by virtue proceeds from virtue, and leads back to virtue. And it is given either in order that men may become good, or that those who are so may make use of their natural advantages. For it co-operates both in what is general and what is particular. How absurd, then, is it, to those who attribute disorder and wickedness to the devil, to make him the bestower of philosophy, a virtuous thing! For he is thus all but made more benignant to the Greeks, in respect of making men good, than the divine providence and mind.
Again, I reckon it is the part of law and of right reason to assign to each one what is appropriate to him, and belongs to him, and falls to him. For as the lyre is only for the harper, and the flute for the flute-player; so good things are the possessions of good men. As the nature of the beneficent is to do good, as it is of the fire to warm, and the light to give light, and a good man will not do evil, or light produce darkness, or fire cold; so, again, vice cannot do anything virtuous. For its activity is to do evil, as that of darkness to dim the eyes.
Philosophy is not, then, the product of vice, since it makes men virtuous; it follows, then, that it is the work of God, whose work it is solely to do good. And all things given by God are given and received well.
Further, if the practice of philosophy does not belong to the wicked, but was accorded to the best of the Greeks, it is clear also from what source it was bestowed— manifestly from Providence, which assigns to each what is befitting in accordance with his deserts.
Rightly, then, to the Jews belonged the Law, and to the Greeks Philosophy, until the Advent; and after that came the universal calling to be a peculiar people of righteousness, through the teaching which flows from faith, brought together by one Lord, the only God of both Greeks and Barbarians, or rather of the whole race of men. We have often called by the name philosophy that portion of truth attained through philosophy, although but partial.
Now, too what is good in the arts as arts, have their beginning from God. For as the doing of anything artistically is embraced in the rules of art, so also acting sagaciously is classed under the head of sagacity (φρόνησις). Now sagacity is virtue, and it is its function to know other things, but much more especially what belongs to itself. And Wisdom (Σοφία) being power, is nothing but the knowledge of good things, divine and human.
the earth is God's, and the fullness thereof, says the Scripture, teaching that good things come from God to men; it being through divine power and might that the distribution of them comes to the help of man.
Now the modes of all help and communication from one to another are three. One is, by attending to another, as the master of gymnastics, in training the boy. The second is, by assimilation, as in the case of one who exhorts another to benevolence by practising it before. The one co-operates with the learner, and the other benefits him who receives. The third mode is that by command, when the gymnastic master, no longer training the learner, nor showing in his own person the exercise for the boy to imitate, prescribes the exercise by name to him, as already proficient in it.
The Gnostic, accordingly, having received from God the power to be of service, benefits some by disciplining them, by bestowing attention on them; others, by exhorting them, by assimilation; and others, by training and teaching them, by command. And certainly he himself is equally benefited by the Lord. Thus, then, the benefit that comes from God to men becomes known— angels at the same time lending encouragement. For by angels, whether seen or not, the divine power bestows good things. Such was the mode adopted in the advent of the Lord. And sometimes also the power
breathes in men's thoughts and reasonings, and
puts in their hearts
strength and a keener perception, and furnishes
boldness of alacrity both for researches and deeds.
But exposed for imitation and assimilation are truly admirable and holy examples of virtue in the actions put on record. Further, the department of action is most conspicuous both in the testaments of the Lord, and in the laws in force among the Greeks, and also in the precepts of philosophy.
And to speak comprehensively, all benefit appertaining to life, in its highest reason, proceeding from the Sovereign God, the Father who is over all, is consummated by the Son, who also on this account
is the Saviour of all men, says the apostle,
but especially of those who believe. 1 Timothy 4:10 But in respect of its immediate reason, it is from those next to each, in accordance with the command and injunction of Him who is nearest the First Cause, that is, the Lord.
Now our Gnostic always occupies himself with the things of highest importance. But if at any time he has leisure and time for relaxation from what is of prime consequence, he applies himself to Hellenic philosophy in preference to other recreation, feasting on it as a kind of dessert at supper. Not that he neglects what is superior; but that he takes this in addition, as long as proper, for the reasons I mentioned above. But those who give their mind to the unnecessary and superfluous points of philosophy, and addict themselves to wrangling sophisms alone, abandon what is necessary and most essential, pursuing plainly the shadows of words.
It is well indeed to know all. But the man whose soul is destitute of the ability to reach to acquaintance with many subjects of study, will select the principal and better subjects alone. For real science (ἐπιστήμη, which we affirm the Gnostic alone possesses) is a sure comprehension (κατάληψις), leading up through true and sure reasons to the knowledge (γνῶσις) of the cause. And he, who is acquainted with what is true respecting any one subject, becomes of course acquainted with what is false respecting it.
For truly it appears to me to be a proper point for discussion, Whether we ought to philosophize: for its terms are consistent.
But if we are not to philosophize, what then? (For no one can condemn a thing without first knowing it): the consequence, even in that case, is that we must philosophize.
Such, then, being the case, the Greeks ought by the Law and the Prophets to learn to worship one God only, the only Sovereign; then to be taught by the apostle,
but to us an idol is nothing in the world, 1 Corinthians 8:4 since nothing among created things can be a likeness of God; and further, to be taught that none of those images which they worship can be similitudes: for the race of souls is not in form such as the Greeks fashion their idols. For souls are invisible; not only those that are rational, but those also of the other animals. And their bodies never become parts of the souls themselves, but organs— partly as seats, partly as vehicles— and in other cases possessions in various ways. But it is not possible to copy accurately even the likenesses of the organs; since, were it so, one might model the sun, as it is seen, and take the likeness of the rainbow in colours.
After abandoning idols, then, they will hear the Scripture, Matthew 5:20; James 2:8 (who justified themselves in the way of abstinence from what was evil)—so as, along with such perfection as they evinced, and
the loving of your neighbour, to be able also to do good, you shall not
For intensification of the righteousness which is according to the law shows the Gnostic. So one who is placed in the head, which is that which rules its own body— and who advances to the summit of faith, which is the knowledge (gnosis) itself, for which all the organs of perception exist— will likewise obtain the highest inheritance.
The primacy of knowledge the apostle shows to those capable of reflection, in writing to those Greeks of Corinth, in the following terms:
But having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be magnified in you according to our rule abundantly, to preach the Gospel beyond you. 2 Corinthians 10:15-16 He does not mean the extension of his preaching locally: for he says also that in Achaia faith abounded; and it is related also in the Acts of the Apostles that he preached the word in Athens. Acts 17 But he teaches that knowledge (gnosis), which is the perfection of faith, goes beyond catechetical instruction, in accordance with the magnitude of the Lord's teaching and the rule of the Church. Wherefore also he proceeds to add,
And if I am rude in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. 2 Corinthians 11:6
But let those who boast on account of having apprehended the truth tell us from whom they boast of having heard it. They will not say from God, but will admit that it was from men. And if so, it is either from themselves that they have learned it lately, as some of them arrogantly boast, or from others like them. But human teachers, speaking of God, are not reliable, as men. For he that is man cannot speak worthily the truth concerning God: the feeble and mortal [cannot speak worthily] of the Unoriginated and Incorruptible— the work, of the Workman. Then he who is incapable of speaking what is true respecting himself, is he not much less reliable in what concerns God? For just as far as man is inferior to God in power, so much feebler is man's speech than Him; although he do not declare God, but only speak about God and the divine word. For human speech is by nature feeble, and incapable of uttering God. I do not say His name. For to name it is common, not to philosophers only, but also to poets. Nor [do I say] His essence; for this is impossible, but the power and the works of God.
Those even who claim God as their teacher, with difficulty attain to a conception of God, grace aiding them to the attainment of their modicum of knowledge; accustomed as they are to contemplate the will [of God] by the will, and the Holy Spirit by the Holy Spirit.
For the Spirit searches the deep things of God. But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit.
The only wisdom, therefore, is the God-taught wisdom we possess; on which depend all the sources of wisdom, which make conjectures at the truth.
Assuredly of the coming of the Lord, who has taught us, to men, there were a myriad indicators, heralds, preparers, precursors, from the beginning, from the foundation of the world, intimating beforehand by deeds and words, prophesying that He would come, and where, and how, what should be the signs. From afar certainly Law and Prophecy kept Him in view beforehand. And then the precursor pointed Him out as present. After whom the heralds point out by their teaching the virtue of His manifestation.
The philosophers, however, chose to [teach philosophy] to the Greeks alone, and not even to all of them; but Socrates to Plato, and Plato to Xenocrates, Aristotle to Theophrastus, and Zeno to Cleanthes, who persuaded their own followers alone.
But the word of our Teacher remained not in Judea alone, as philosophy did in Greece; but was diffused over the whole world, over every nation, and village, and town, bringing already over to the truth whole houses, and each individual of those who heard it by him himself, and not a few of the philosophers themselves.
And if any one ruler whatever prohibit the Greek philosophy, it vanishes immediately. But our doctrine on its very first proclamation was prohibited by kings and tyrants together, as well as particular rulers and governors, with all their mercenaries, and in addition by innumerable men, warring against us, and endeavouring as far as they could to exterminate it. But it flourishes the more. For it dies not, as human doctrine dies, nor fades as a fragile gift. For no gift of God is fragile. But it remains unchecked, though prophesied as destined to be persecuted to the end. Thus Plato writes of poetry:
A poet is a light and a sacred thing, and cannot write poetry till he be inspired and lose his senses. And Democritus similarly:
Whatever things a poet writes with divine afflatus, and with a sacred spirit, are very beautiful. And we know what sort of things poets say. And shall no one be amazed at the prophets of God Almighty becoming the organs of the divine voice?
Having then moulded, as it were, a statue of the Gnostic, we have now shown who he is; indicating in outline, as it were, both the greatness and beauty of his character. What he is as to the study of physical phenomena shall be shown afterwards, when we begin to treat of the creation of the world.
Source. Translated by William Wilson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. 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/02106.htm>.
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