(NOTE: The electronic text obtained from The Electronic Bible Society was
not completely corrected. EWTN has corrected as much as possible without
benefit of the original text.)
Transliteration of Greek words: All phonetical except: w = omega; h serves
three puposes: 1. = Eta; 2. = rough breathing, when appearing intially
before a vowel; 3 = in the aspirated letters theta = th, phi = ph, chi =
ch. Accents are given immediately after their corresponding vowels: acute =
' , grave = `, circumflex = ^. The character ' doubles as an apostrophe,
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA
THE STROMATA, OR MISCELLANIES, BOOKS VI-VIII.
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 endureth to
eternity." And the prophet says," Blessed is he that soweth into all
waters, whose ox and ass tread," [that is,] the people, from the Law and
from the Gentiles, gathered into one faith.
"Now the weak eateth herbs," according to the noble apostle. 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 Godloving 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 fruittrees, 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 fight 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
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 i and the
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 hath
dispersed, he hath given to the poor."
CHAP. II.THE SUBJECT OF PLAGIARISMS RESUMED. THE GREEKS PLAGIARIZED FROM
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 symbolical 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 Musaeus having written:--
"Since art is greatly superior to strength,"
"By art rather than strength is the woodcutter greatly superior."
Again, Musaeus having composed the lines:--
"And as the fruitful field produceth leaves,
And on the ash trees some fade, others grow,
So whirls the race of man its leaf," 
"Some of the leaves the wind strews 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 hath 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 Erechteus:--
"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 OEneus:--
"But one in these ways, one in those, has more delight."
And I have heard Aeschylus 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
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
Thee who art 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, unlookedfor 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 s 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;"
Critias writes: "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 Hephaestus-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 he!ps,"
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
"Dear charm of sleep, aid in disease."
From the Eriphyle of Sophocies:--
"Hie thee 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 Otimenus 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
thou art good or bad;"
And from the Hipponos of Sophocles:--
"Besides, conceal thou nought; since Time,
That sees all, hears all, all things will unfold."
But let us similarly run over the following; for Eumelus having composed
"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 art thou? Thy city and thy parents, where?"
employs the following iambics in Aegeus:--
"What country shall we say that thou hast left
To roam in exile, what thy land--the bound
Of thine own native soil? Who thee begat?
And of what father dost thou call thyself 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 thee 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."
Euripides says :--
"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 Ion to live, and yet not long,
Think of thyself."--
"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 thee Plato, writing of man as a creature subject to
Again, Euripides having said:--
"Oh life to mortal men of trouble full,
How slippery in everything art thou I
Now grow'st thou, and thou now decay'st 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
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 mall 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,"--
Euripides writes :--
"For love not only men attacks,
And women; but disturbs
The souls of gods above, and to the sea
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 Musaeus; 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 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 Alcmaeon of Crotona having said, "It is easier to
guard against a man who is an enemy than a friend," Sophocles wrote in the
"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 Larissaeans, says: "Shall we be slaves
to Archelaus--Greeks to a Barbarian?"
And Orpheus having said:--
"Water is the change for soul, and death for water;
From water is earth, and what comes from earth is again water,
And from that, soul, which changes the whole ether;"
and Heraclitus, putting together the expressions from these lines, writes
"It is death for souls to become water, and death for water to become
earth; and from earth comes water, and from water soul."
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 thou hear--
Fire, water, earth, and ether's boundless height:
For of these all that was, is, shall be, comes."
And Plato having said,"Wherefore also the gods, knowing men, release sooner
from life those they value most,"
"Whom the gods love, dies young."
And Euripides having written in the OEnomaus:--
"We judge of things obscure from what we see;"
and in the Phoenix:--
"By signs the obscure is fairly grasped?--
Hyperides says, "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,"--
Euripides writes :--
"Oh Zeus, why hast thou 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,"--
Xenophon says, "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?--
Herodotus says, "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 Aeacus, 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
"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 Ly-sias, says, "The preparation and
the eagerness of the adversaries, ye see, O gentlemen of the jury." After
him Aeschines 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 thee 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,"
Theopompus writes, "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 practise 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,"--
Archinus says, "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."
And Plato having said, in the Republic, that women were common, Euripides
writes in the Protesilaus:--
"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 thou securely shalt enjoy, being just
And free from turmoil, and from fear live well,"--
Epicurus says, "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
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 Musaeus, and Pisander
of Camirus the Heraclea of Pisinus of Lindus, and Panyasis of
Halicarnassus, the capture of OEchalia 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
"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 Musaeus.
And Aristophanes the comic poet has, in the first of the
Thesmophoriazusoe, transferred the words from the Empiprameni of Cratinus.
And Plato the comic poet, and Aristophanes in Doeda-lus, 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
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 Hecataeus, 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
CHAP. III.--PLAGIARISM BY THE GREEKS OF THE MIRACLES RELATED IN THE SACRED
BOOKS OF THE HEBREWS.
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 Aeacus.
Prevailed on by them, Aeacus, ascending the Hellenic hill, and stretching
out pure hands to heaven, and invoking the commons 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 Aeacus.
"And Samuel called on the LORD," it is said, "and the LORD gave forth
His voice, and rain in the day of harvest." Do you see that "He who
sendeth His rain on the just and on the unjust" 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
Again, the Greeks relate, that in the case of a failure once of the
Etesian winds, Aristaeus 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:--
"Thou shalt the might of the unwearied winds make still,
Which rushing to the earth spoil mortals' crops,
And at thy 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; thy 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 ye 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," unit so forth. And Isaiah says,
"Lift your eyes to the height, and see who hath produced all these
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
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 Daemons,
and teaching them to be wor-shipped 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
Democritus, who predicted many things from observation of celestial
phenomena, was called "Wisdom" (Sophi'a). 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 stir on the
threshing-floor. But others lost all, unexpected and heavy showers having
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 trampets 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."
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
Now the compilers of narratives say that in the island of Britain s
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 paean, 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, "Ye heard the voice of words, and
saw no similitude." 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.
CHAP. IV.--THE GREEKS DREW MANY OF THEIR PHILOSOPHICAL TENETS FROM THE
EGYPTIAN AND INDIAN GYMNOSOPHISTS.
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 Paedeutic(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 spake worse than another." And
on Alexander saying, Shall you not, then, die first, having given such a
judgment? he said, And how, O king, wilt thou prove true, after saying that
thou wouldest 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.
CHAP. V.- THE GREEKS HAD SOME KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUE GOD.
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: "Since they are carried
away by ignorance, and know not God" (as we do, according to the perfect
knowledge); "hut 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 hath 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 that do ye 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." 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: "If any one of Israel then, wishes to repent, and by
my name to believe in God, his sins shall be forgiven him, after twelve
years. Go forth into the world, that no one may say, We have not heard."
CHAP. VI.--THE GOSPEL WAS PREACHED TO JEWS AND GENTILES IN HADES.
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 thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee. And I have
given thee for a Covenant to the nations; that thou mightest 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, ye that will, from your bonds," --meaning the voluntary bound,
and who have taken on them "the burdens grievous to be borne" 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, "Thy faith hath
saved thee." 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"? 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 on 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
thorn 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
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 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, 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," 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 ye 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 ye hear Me, and be willing, ye shall eat the good of the land.
But if ye hear Me not, and are not willing, the sword shall devour you: for
the mouth of the LORD hath spoken these things."
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 Thou
shalt not leave my soul in hell, nor wilt Thou give Thine holy one to see
corruption. Thou hast made known to me the paths of life, Thou wilt make me
full of joy in Thy 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." 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." 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 hath made small and great, and cares alike for
all." And David says, "For the heathen are fixed in the destruction they
have caused; their foot is taken in the snare which they hid." s "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 loveth righteousness: His countenance
beholdeth uprightness." "But he that loveth wickedness hateth his own
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 Coryphaeus 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 hooks, 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 hook 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 daemon attending on him. And Aristotle says that all men are provided
with daemons, 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 Chum."
CHAP. VII.--WHAT TRUE PHILOSOPHY IS, AND WHENCE SO CALLED.
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 hath
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,
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
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." "For one, in
truth, is God, who formed the beginning of all things;" pointing out "the
first-begotten Son," Peter writes, accurately comprehending the statement,
"In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth." 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," trains and perfects; whence it is rightly said, "Call no man
your teacher on earth."
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; 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
reinless 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," 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 grinds, 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
CHAP. VIII.--PHILOSOPHY IS KNOWLEDGE GIVEN BY GOD.
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 "philosophy," figuratively
calling it '' 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 ye
not need again of one to teach you which are the first principles of the
oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong
meat?" 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,"--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 Thy
servant; give me understanding."s And does not David, while asking the
abundant experience of knowledge, write, "Teach me gentleness, and
discipline, and knowledge: for I have believed in Thy commandments?" He
confessed the covenants to be of the highest authority, and that they were
given to the more excellent. Accordingly the psalm again says of God, "He
hath not done thus to any nation; and He hath not shown His judgments to
them." The expression "He hath not done so" shows that He hath done,
but not "thus." The "thus," then, is put comparatively, with reference to
pre-eminence, which obtains in our case. The prophet might have said
simply, "He hath not done," without the "thus."
Further, Peter in the Acts says, "Of a truth, I perceive that God is no
respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh
righteousness, is accepted by Him."
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
ye 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." 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, practises 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 "the devil is
transformed into an angel of light." 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."
CHAP. IX.--THE GNOSTIC FREE OF ALL PERTURBATIONS OF THE SOUL.
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
(dokhsei). But He was entirely impassible
(apaqhg); inaccessible to any movement of feeling--either
pleasure or pain. While the apostles, having most gnostically mastered,
through the Lord's teaching, angel 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
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 aught 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, aught 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
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," 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
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 hath fore-ordained before the
foundation of the world" 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 hath 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 mad accidents, ever possess habit and disposition, and in a
word, grasp of scientific knowledge (episthmh)? 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 pre-eminence, 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 weal;
fore-seeing; and inflexible by pleasures both of waking hours and of
dreams. For, accustomed to spare living and frugality, he is moderate,
active, mad 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.
CHAP. X.--THE GNOSTIC AVAILS HIMSELF OF THE HELP OF ALL HUMAN KNOWLEDGE.
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 behoves 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 divers manners," 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
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 tightly.
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
"Truth the queen is the beginning of great virtue."
CHAP. XI.--THE MYSTICAL MEANINGS IN THE PROPORTIONS OF NUMBERS,
GEOMETRICAL RATIOS, AND MUSIC.
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
(tih`)," 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
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 (rk')
years." And the sum is made up of the numbers from r to 15 added
together. 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 fight 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 (epidimoiroi), 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;" 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 s 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, Rule, of, all;
O Zeus, I send thee 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
fulness 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
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 thy 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 Thy
counsel, hadst Thou not given wisdom, and sent Thy Holy Spirit from the
Highest; and so the ways of those on earth were corrected, and men learned
Thy 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. Seest thou 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 teachings 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, "who keep holy holy things, shall be made
holy; and those who have been taught will find an answer." For the
Gnostic alone will do holily, in accordance with reason all that has to be
done, as he hath 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."
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 Thy providence, O Father, governs
throughout." 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
"And the choir of mute fishes rushed to it,"
says the Tragic Muse somewhere.
"I must decrease," said the prophet John, 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." Certainly He is called
"the chief corner stone; in whom the whole building, fitly joined together,
groweth into an holy temple of God," 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
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: "And if one
loves justice, its toils are virtues. For temperance and prudence teach
justice and fortitude; and than these there is nothing more useful in life
Above all, this ought to be known, that by nature we are adapted for
virtue; not so as to be possessed of it from our birth, but so as to be
adapted for acquiring it.
CHAP. XII.--HUMAN NATURE POSSESSES AN ADAPTATION FOR PERFECTION; THE
GNOSTIC ALONE ATTAINS IT.
By which consideration s 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: "Thou hast proved mine heart; Thou hast
visited me by night," it is said; "Thou hast 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 failing 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 (gnwstikh'), 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 (episth'mh) and the
acquisition of knowledge (gnw^sis), 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 is become equally unfeminine, and manly, and perfect? Such,
then, was the laughter of Sarah 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.
And did not Abraham, when he was in danger on account of Sarah's
beauty, with the king of Egypt, properly call her sister, being of the same
father, but not of the same mother?
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. "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."
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
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," 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
Then our dexterous man and Gnostic is revealed in righteousness already
even here, as Moses, glorified in the face of the soul, 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."
It is He Himself who says, "Little children, a little while I am still
with you." Since also God Himself remains blessed and immortal, neither
molested nor molesting another; not in consequence of being by nature
good, but in 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?
CHAP. XIII.--DEGREES OF GLORY IN HEAVEN CORRESPONDING WITH THE DIGNITIES OF
THE CHURCH BELOW.
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 s 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
writes, will first minister [as deacons], then be classed in the
presbyterate, by promotion in glory (for glory differs from glory) till
they grow into "a perfect man."
CHAP. XIV.--DEGREES OF GLORY IN HEAVEN.
Such, according to David, "rest in the holy hill of God," in the
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; "
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," saith the Lord, "which are not of
this fold "--deemed worthy of another fold and mansion, in proportion to
their faith. "But My sheep hear My voice," 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, "Thy faith hath saved thee, 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." 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 ?"
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, 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," beyond salvation, cast
away from the body.
As, then, to be simply saved is the result of medium actions, but to
be saved tightly and becomingly is right action, so also all action of
the Gnostic may be called tight 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
"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.
Now stupidity is the cause of ignorance. And it appears to me that it
is the vaunt of a boastful soul, though of one with a good conscience, to
exclaim against what happens through circumstances:--
"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 fight
reason. And giving thanks always for all things to God, by righteous
heating 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." 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." 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. 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. "Thou
hast supposed iniquity,' He says, "[in imagining] that I will be like to
thee." But "it is enough for the disciple to become as the Master,"
saith 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.
CHAP. XV.--DIFFERENT DEGREES OF KNOWLEDGE.
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" 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
Through the knowledge, then, as appears, of a bad and good life is the
Gnostic saved, understanding and executing "more than the scribes and
Pharisees." "Exert thyself, and prosper, and reign" writes David,
"because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness; and thy right hand
shall guide thee 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," 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," says the Scripture, plainly in the way of declaring them to
the unworthy. For the Lord says, "He that hath ears to hear, let him
hear," 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;" 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."
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," 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," 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
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
Different modes of engrafting illustrative of different kinds of
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.
Knowledge and love.
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." 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," 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
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."
True knowledge found in the teaching of Christ alone.
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.
Philosophy and heresies, aids in discovering the truth.
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 ye
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 "He spake all things in parables, and without a parable spake He
nothing unto them;" and if "all things were made by Him, and without Him
was not anything made that was made," consequently also prophecy and the
law were by Him, and were spoken by Him in parables. "But all things are
right," says the Scripture, "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.
Reasons for the meaning of Scripture being veiled.
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
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 behoves 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
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. "He who bears these prophets,
being wise, will be wiser. And the intelligent man will acquire rule, and
will understand a parable and a dark saying, the words and enigmas of the
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" 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," 3--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.
CHAP. XVI.--GNOSTIC EXPOSITION OF THE DECALOGUE.
Let the Decalogue be set forth cursorily by us as a specimen for
The number "ten."
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
rise mild food; and of plants likewise, both fruit-bearing and barren. This
is the physical Decalogue of the earth.
And the ark which held them will then be the knowledge of divine and
human things and wisdom.
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. "For the flesh lusteth
against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh."
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 re.on, 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
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
The commandment, then, "Thou shalt not lust," says, thou shalt not
serve the carnal spirit, but shall rule over it; "For the flesh lusteth
against the Spirit," 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 (lo'gw(i) and the man who has become a
Gnostic performs good actions by the faculty of reason (tw^(i) logikw^(i)),
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.
The first commandment of the Decalogue shows that there is one only
Sovereign God 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 Commandment.
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.
The Fourth Commandment.
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 impossible; 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." 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 (tw^(i) epish'mw(i)), 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 heavens declare to the
heavens the glory of God."
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,"
" by whom all things were made, and without whom not even one thing was
made." 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 Solan 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." 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 hath 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.
The Fifth Commandment.
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.
The Seventh Commandment.
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]
hath committed fornication with stock and stone. They have said to the
stock, Thou art my father; and to the stone, Thou hast begotten me."
The Sixth Commandment.
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 uncrested, or
affirming anything against true doctrine, is most pernicious.
The Eight Commandment.
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
The Father of the universe, as far as in lies, of His tireless might. e
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.
The Tenth Commandment.
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 in-animate 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.
CHAP. XVII.--PHILOSOPHY CONVEYS ONLY AN IMPERFECT KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
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 aught 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
"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."
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"); 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. 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 (nohsis). 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 aught 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
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
(phro'nhsis). Now sagacity is virtue, and it is its function to know other
things, but much more especially what belongs to itself. And Wisdom
(Sophi'a) being power, is nothing but the knowledge of good things, divine
But "the earth is God's, and the fulness 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
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 "prowess" and "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." 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.
CHAP. XVIII.--THE USE OF PHILOSOPHY TO THE GNOSTIC.
Greek philosophy the recreation of the Gnostic.
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
(episth'mh, which we affirm the Gnostic alone possesses) is a sure
comprehension (kata'lhpsis), leading up through true and sure reasons to
the knowledge (gnw^sis) 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. First of all, idols are to be rejected. 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 no, thing in the world," 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
After abandoning idols, then, they will hear the Scripture, "Unless
your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees
" (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 "be
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 he magnified
in you according to our rule abundantly, to preach the Gospel beyond
you." 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. 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."
Whence is the knowledge of truth?
But let those who vaunt 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 receiveth not the things of the
The only wisdom, therefore, is the God-taught wisdom we possess; on
which depend all the sources of wisdom, which make conjectures at the
Intimations of the Teacher's advent
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.
Universal diffusion of the Gospel a contrast to philosophy.
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
And if any one ruler whatever prohibit the Greek philosophy, it
vanishes forthwith. 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
THE STROMATA, OR MISCELLANIES.
CHAP. l.--THE GNOSTIC A TRUE WORSHIPPER OF GOD, AND UNJUSTLY CALUMNIATED BY
UNBELIEVERS AS AN ATHEIST.
It is now time to show the Greeks that the Gnostic alone is truly
pious; so that the philosophers, learning of what description the true
Christian is, may condemn their own stupidity in rashly and inconsiderately
persecuting the [Christian] name, and without reason calling those impious
who know the true God. And clearer arguments must be employed, I reckon,
with the philosophers, so that they may be able, from the exercise they
have already had through their own training, to understand, although they
have not yet shown themselves worthy to partake of the power of believing.
The prophetic sayings we shall not at present advert to, as we are to
avail ourselves of the Scriptures subsequently at the proper places. But we
shall point out summarily the points indicated by them, in our delineation
of Christianity, so that by taking the Scriptures at once (especially as
they do not yet comprehend their utterances), we may not interrupt the
continuity of the discourse. But after pointing out the things indicated,
proofs shall be shown in abundance to those who have believed.
But if the assertions made by us appear to certain of the multitude to
be different from the Scriptures of the Lord, let it be known that it is
from that source that they have breath and life; and taking their rise from
them, they profess to adduce the sense only, not the words. For further
treatment, not being seasonable, will rightly appear superfluous. Thus, not
to look at what is urgent would be excessively indolent and defective; and
"blessed, in truth, are they who, investigating the testimonies of the
Lord, shall seek Him with their whole heart." And the law and the
prophets witness of the Lord.
It is, then, our purpose to prove that the Gnostic alone is holy and
pious, and worships the true God in a manner worthy of Him; and that
worship meet for God is followed by loving and being loved by God. He
accordingly judges all excellence to be honourable according to its worth;
and judges that among the objects perceived by our senses, we are to esteem
rulers, and parents, and every one advanced in years; and among subjects of
instruction, the most ancient philosophy and primeval prophecy; and among
intellectual ideas, what is oldest in origin, the timeless and unoriginated
First Principle, and Beginning of existences--the Son--from whom we are to
learn the remoter Cause, the Father, of the universe, the most ancient and
the most beneficent of all; not capable of expression by the voice, but to
be reverenced with reverence, and silence, and holy wonder, and supremely
venerated; declared by the Lord, as far as those who learned were capable
of comprehending, and understood by those chosen by the Lord to
acknowledge; "whose senses," says the apostle, "were exercised.''
The service of God, then, in the case of the Gnostic, is his soul's
continual study and occupation, bestowed on the Deity in ceaseless love.
For of the service bestowed on men, one kind is that whose aim is
improvement, the other ministerial. The improvement of the body is the
object of the medical art, of the soul of philosophy. Ministerial service
is rendered to parents by children, to rulers by subjects.
Similarly, also, in the Church, the elders attend to the department
which has improvement for its object; and the deacons to the ministerial.
In both these ministries the angels serve God, in the management of
earthly affairs; and the Gnostic himself ministers to God, and exhibits to
men the scheme of improvement, in the way in which he has been appointed to
discipline men for their amendment. For he is alone pious that serves God
rightly and unblameably in human affairs. For as that treatment of plants
is best through which their fruits are produced and gathered in, through
knowledge and skill in husbandry, affording men the benefit accruing from
them; so the piety of the Gnostic, taking to itself the fruits of the men
who by his means have believed, when not a few attain to knowledge and are
saved by it, achieves by his skill the best harvest. And as Godliness
(theopre'peia) is the habit which preserves what is becoming to God, the
godly man is the only lover of God, and such will he be who knows what is
becoming, both in respect of knowledge and of the life which must be lived
by him, who is destined to be divine (thew^(i)), and is already being
assimilated to God. So then he is in the first place a lover of God. For as
he who honours his father is a lover of his father, so he who honours God
is a lover of God.
Thus also it appears to me that there are three effects of gnostic
power: the knowledge of things; second, the performance of whatever the
Word suggests; and the third, the capability of delivering, in a way
suitable to God, the secrets veiled in the truth.
He, then, who is persuaded that God is omnipotent, and has learned the
divine mysteries from His only-begotten Son, how can he be an atheist
(a'theos)? For he is an atheist who thinks that God does not exist. And he
is superstitious who dreads the demons; who deifies all things, both wood
and stone; and reduces to bondage spirit, and man who possesses the life of
CHAP. II.--THE SON THE RULER AND SAVIOUR OF ALL.
To know God is, then, the first step of faith; then, through
confidence in the teaching of the Saviour, to consider the doing of wrong
in any way as not suitable to the knowledge of God.
So the best thing on earth is the most pious man; and the best thing in
heaven, the nearer in place and purer, is an angel, the partaker of the
eternal and blessed life. But the nature of the Son, which is nearest to
Him who is alone the Almighty One, is the most perfect, and most holy, and
most potent, and most princely, and most kingly, and most beneficent. This
is the highest excellence, which orders all things in accordance with the
Father's will, and holds the helm of the universe in the best way, with
unwearied and tireless power, working all things in which it operates,
keeping in view its hidden designs. For from His own point of view the Son
of God is never displaced; not being divided, not severed, not passing from
place to place; being always everywhere, and being contained nowhere;
complete mind, the complete paternal light; all eyes, seeing all things,
hearing all things, knowing all things, by His power scrutinizing the
powers. To Him is placed in subjection all the host of angels and gods; He,
the paternal Word, exhibiting a the holy administration for Him who put
[all] in subjection to Him.
Wherefore also all men are His; some through knowledge, and others not
yet so; and some as friends, some as faithful servants, some as servants
merely. This is the Teacher, who trains the Gnostic by mysteries, and the
believer by good hopes, and the hard of heart by corrective discipline
through sensible operation. Thence His providence is in private, in public,
And that He whom we call Saviour and Lord is the Son of God, the
prophetic Scriptures explicitly prove. So the Lord of all, of Greeks and of
Barbarians, persuades those who are willing. For He does not compel him
who (through choosing and fulfilling, from Him, what pertains to laying
hold of it the hope) is able to receive salvation from Him.
It is He who also gave philosophy to the Greeks by means of the
inferior angels. For by an ancient and divine order the angels are
distributed among the nations. But the glory of those who believe is
"the Lord's portion." For either the Lord does not care for all men; and
this is the case either because He is unable (which is not to be thought,
for it would be a proof of weakness), or because He is unwilling, which is
not the attribute of a good being. And He who for our sakes assumed flesh
capable of suffering, is far from being luxuriously indolent. Or He does
care for all, which is befitting for Him who has become Lord of all. For He
is Saviour; not [the Saviour] of some, and of others not. But in proportion
to the adaptation possessed by each, He has dispensed His beneficence both
to Greeks and Barbarians, even to those of them that were predestinated,
and in due time called, the faithful and elect. Nor can He who called all
equally, and assigned special honours to those who have believed in a
specially excellent way, ever envy any. Nor can He who is the Lord of all,
and serves above all the will of the good and almighty Father, ever be
hindered by another. But neither does envy touch the Lord, who without
beginning was impassible; nor are the things of men such as to be envied by
the Lord. But it is another, he whom passion hath touched, who envies. And
it cannot be said that it is from ignorance that the Lord is not willing to
save humanity, because He knows not how each one is to be cared for. For
ignorance applies not to the God who, before the foundation of the world,
was the counsellor of the Father. For He was the Wisdom "in which" the
Sovereign God "delighted." For the Son is the power of God, as being the
Father's most ancient Word before the production of all things, and His
Wisdom. He is then properly called the Teacher of the beings formed by Him.
Nor does He ever abandon care for men, by being drawn aside from pleasure,
who, having assumed flesh, which by nature is susceptible of suffering,
trained it to the condition of impossibility.
And how is He Saviour and Lord, if not the Saviour and Lord of all? But
He is the Saviour of those who have believed, because of their l wishing
to know; and the Lord of those who have not believed, till, being enabled
to confess him, they obtain the peculiar and appropriate boon which comes
Now the energy of the Lord has a reference to the Almighty; and the Son
is, so to speak, an energy of the Father. Therefore, a hater of man, the
Saviour can never be; who, for His exceeding love to human flesh, despising
not its susceptibility to suffering, but investing Himself with it, came
for the common salvation of men; for the faith of those who have chosen it,
is common. Nay more, He will never neglect His own work, because man alone
of all the other living creatures was in his creation endowed with a
conception of God. Nor can there be any other better and more suitable
government for men than that which is appointed by God.
It is then always proper for the one who is superior by nature to be
over the inferior, and for him who is capable of managing aught well to
have the management of it assigned to him. Now that which truly rules and
presides is the Divine Word and His providence, which inspects all things,
and despises the care of nothing belonging to it.
Those, then, who choose to belong to Him, are those who are perfected
through faith. He, the Son, is, by the will of the Almighty Father, the
cause of all good things, being the first efficient cause of motion--a
power incapable of being apprehended by sensation. For what He was, was not
seen by those who, through the weakness of the flesh, were incapable of
taking in [the reality]. But, having assumed sensitive flesh, He came to
show man what was possible through obedience to the commandments. Being,
then, the Father's power, He easily prevails in what He wishes, leaving not
even the minutest point of His administration unattended to. For otherwise
the whole would not have been well executed by Him.
But, as I think, characteristic of the highest power is the accurate
scrutiny of all the parts, reaching even to the minutest, terminating in
the first Administrator of the universe, who by the will of the Father
directs the salvation of all; some overlooking, who are set under others,
who are set over them, till you come to the great High Priest. For on one
original first Principle, which acts according to the [Father's] will, the
first and the second and the third depend. Then at the highest extremity of
the visible world is the blessed band of angels; and down to ourselves
there are ranged, some under others, those who, from One and by One, both
are saved and save.
As, then, the minutest particle of steel is moved by the spirit of the
Heraclean stone when diffused over many steel rings; so also,
attracted by the Holy Spirit, the virtuous are added by affinity to the
first abode, and the others in succession down to the last. But those who
are bad from infirmity, having fallen from vicious insatiableness into a
depraved state, neither controlling nor controlled, rush round and round,
whirled about by the passions, and fall down to the ground.
For this was the law from the first, that virtue should be the object
of voluntary choice. Wherefore also the commandments, according to the Law,
and before the Law, not given to the upright (for the law is not appointed
for a righteous man) , ordained that he should receive eternal life and
the blessed prize, who chose them.
But, on the other hand, they allowed him who had been delighted with
vice to consort with the objects of his choice; and, on the other hand,
that the soul, which is ever improving in the acquisition of virtue and
the increase of righteousness, should obtain a better place in the
universe, as tending in each step of advancement towards the habit of
impassibility, till "it come to a perfect man," to the excellence at
once of knowledge and of inheritance.
These salutary revolutions, in accordance with the order of change, are
distinguished both by times, and places, and honours, and cognitions, and
heritages, and ministries, according to the particular order of each
change, up to the transcendent and continual contemplation of the Lord in
Now that which is lovable leads, to the contemplation of itself, each
one who, from love of knowledge, applies himself entirely to contemplation.
Wherefore also the Lord, drawing the commandments, both the first which He
gave, and the second, from one fountain, neither allowed those who were
before the law to be without law, nor permitted those who were unacquainted
with the principles of the Barbarian philosophy to be without restraint.
For, having furnished the one with the commandments, and the other with
philosophy, He shut up unbelief to the Advent. Whence every one who
believes not is without excuse. For by a different process of advancement,
both Greek and Barbarian, He leads to the perfection which is by faith.
And if any one of the Greeks, passing over the preliminary training of
the Hellenic philosophy, proceeds directly to the true teaching, he
distances others, though an unlettered man, by choosing the compendious
process of salvation by faith to perfection.
Everything, then, which did not hinder a man's choice from being free,
He made and rendered auxiliary to virtue, in order that there might be
revealed somehow or other, even to those capable of seeing but dimly, the
one only almighty, good God--from eternity to eternity saving by His Son.
And, on the other hand, He is in no respect whatever the cause of evil.
For all things are arranged with a view to the salvation of the universe by
the Lord of the universe, both generally and particularly. It is then the
function of the righteousness of salvation to improve everything as far as
practicable. For even minor marten are arranged with a view to the
salvation of that which is better, and for an abode suitable for people's
character. Now everything that is virtuous changes for the better; having
as the proper cause of change the free choice of knowledge, which the
soul has in its own power. But necessary corrections, through the goodness
of the great overseeing Judge, both by the attendant angels, and by various
acts of anticipative judgment, and by the perfect judgment, compel
egregious sinners to repent.
CHAP. III.--THE GNOSTIC AIMS AT THE NEAREST LIKENESS POSSIBLE TO GOD AND
Now I pass over other things in silence, glorifying the Lord. But I
affirm that gnostic souls, that surpass in the grandeur of contemplation
the mode of life of each of the holy ranks, among whom the blessed abodes
of the gods are allotted by distribution, reckoned holy among the holy,
transferred entire from among the entire, reaching places better than the
better places, embracing the divine vision not in mirrors or by means of
mirrors, but in the transcendently clear and absolutely pure insatiable
vision which is the privilege of intensely loving souls, holding festival
through endless ages, remain honoured with the indentity of all excellence.
Such is the vision attainable by "the pure in heart." This is the
function of the Gnostic, who has been perfected, to have convene with God
through the great High Priest, being made like the Lord, up to the measure
of his capacity, in the whole service of God, which tends to the salvation
of men, through care of the beneficence which has us for its object; and on
the other side through worship, through teaching and through beneficence in
deeds. The Gnostic even forms and creates himself; and besides also, he,
like to God, adorns those who hear him; assimilating as far as possible the
moderation which, arising from practice, tends to impossibility, to Him who
by nature possesses impossibility; and especially having uninterrupted
converse and fellowship with the Lord. Mildness, I think, and philanthropy,
and eminent piety, are the rules of gnostic assimilation. I affirm that
these virtues "are a sacrifice acceptable in the sight of God; " heart
with Scripture alleging that" right knowledge is the holocaust of God;
each man who is admitted to holiness being illuminated in order to
For "to bring themselves into captivity," and to slay themselves,
putting to death "the old man, who is through lusts corrupt," and raising
the new man from death, "from the old conversation," by abandoning the
passions, and becoming free of sin, both the Gospel and the apostle
It was this, consequently, which the Law intimated, by ordering the
sinner to be cut off, and translated from death to life, to the
impossibility that is the result of faith; which the teachers of the Law,
not comprehending, inasmuch as they regarded the law as contentions, they
have given a handle to those who attempt idly to calumniate the Law. And
for this reason we rightly do not sacrifice to God, who, needing nothing,
supplies all men with all things; but we glorify Him who gave Himself in
sacrifice for us, we also sacrificing ourselves; from that which needs
nothing to that which needs nothing, and to that which is impassible from
that which is impassible. For in our salvation alone God delights. We do
not therefore, and with reason too, offer sacrifice to Him who is not
overcome by pleasures, inasmuch as the fumes of the smoke stop far beneath,
and do not even reach the thickest clouds; but those they reach are far
from them. The Deity neither is, then, in want of aught, nor loves
pleasure, or gain, or money, being full, and supplying all things to
everything that has received being and has wants. And neither by sacrifices
nor offerings, nor on the other hand by glory and honour, is the Deity won
over; nor is He influenced by any such things; but He appears only to
excellent and good men, who will never betray justice for threatened fear,
nor by the promise of considerable gifts.
But those who have not seen the self-determination of the human soul,
and its incapability of being treated as a slave in what respects the
choice of life, being disgusted at what is done through rude injustice, do
not think that there is a God. On a par with these in opinion, are they
who, falling into licentiousness in pleasures, and grievous pains, and
unlooked-for accidents, and bidding defiance to events, say that there is
no God, or that, though existing, He does not oversee all things. And
others there are, who are persuaded that those they reckon gods are capable
of being prevailed upon by sacrifices and gifts, favouring, so to speak,
their prof-ligacies; and will not believe that He is the only true God, who
exists in the invariablehess of righteous goodness.
The Gnostic, then, is pious, who cares first for himself, then for his
neighbours, that they may become very good. For the son gratifies a good
father, by showing himself good and like his father; and in like manner the
subject, the governor. For believing and obeying are in our own power.
But should any one suppose the cause of evils to be the weakness of
matter, and the involuntary impulses of ignorance, and (in his stupidity)
irrational necessities; he who has become a Gnostic has through instruction
superiority over these, as if they were wild beasts; and in imitation of
the divine plan, he does good to such as are willing, as far as he can. And
if ever placed in authority, like Moses, he will rule for the salvation of
the governed; and will tame wildness and faithlessness, by recording honour
for the most excellent, and punishment for the wicked, in accordance with
reason for the sake of discipline.
For pre-eminently a divine image, resembling God, is the soul of a
righteous man; in which, through obedience to the commands, as in a
consecrated spot, is enclosed and enshrined the Leader of mortals and of
immortals, King and Parent of what is good, who is truly law, and right,
and eternal Word, being the one Saviour individually to each, and in common
He is the true Only-begotten, the express image of the glory of the
universal King and Almighty Father, who impresses on the Gnostic the seal
of the perfect contemplation, according to His own image; so that there is
now a third divine image, made as far as possible like the Second Cause,
the Essential Life, through which we live the true life; the Gnostic, as we
regard him, being described as moving amid things sure and wholly
Ruling, then, over himself and what belongs to him, and possessing a
sure grasp, of divine science, he makes a genuine approach to the truth.
For the knowledge and apprehension of intellectual objects must necessarily
be called certain scientific knowledge, whose function in reference to
divine things is to consider what is the First Cause, and what that "by
whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made; " and what
things, on the other hand, are as pervasive, and what is comprehensive;
what conjoined, what disjoined; and what is the position which each one of
them holds, and what power and what service each contributes. And again.
among human things, what man himself is, and what he has naturally or
preternaturally; and how, again, it becomes him to do or to suffer; and
what are his virtues and what his vices; and about things good, bad, and
indifferent; also about fortitude, and prudence, and self-restraint, and
the virtue which is in all respects complete, namely, righteousness.
Further, he employs prudence and righteousness in the acquisition of
wisdom, and fortitude, not only in the endurance of circumstances, but also
in restraining pleasure and desire, grief and anger; and, in general, to
withstand everything which either by any force or fraud entices us. For
it is not necessary to endure vices and virtues, but it is to be persuaded
to bear things that inspire fear.
Accordingly, pain is found beneficial in the healing art, and in
discipline, and in punishment; and by it men's manners are corrected to
their advantage. Forms of fortitude are endurance, magnanimity, high
spirit, liberality, and grandeur. And for this reason he neither meets with
the blame or the bad opinion of the multitude; nor is he subjected to
opinions or flatteries. But in the indurance of toils and at the same
time in the discharge of any duty, and in his manly superiority to all
circumstances, he appears truly a man (anhr) among the rest
of human beings. And, on the other hand, maintaining prudence, he exercises
moderation in the calmness of his soul; receptive of what is commanded, as
of what belongs to him, entertaining aversion to what is base, as alien to
him; become decorous and supramundane, he does everything with decorum
and in order, and transgresses in no respect, and in nothing. Rich he is in
the highest degree in desiring nothing, as having few wants; and being in
the midst of abundance of all good through the knowledge of the good. For
it is the first effect of his righteousness, to love to spend his time and
associate with those of his own race both in earth and heaven. So also he
is liberal of what he possesses. And being a lover of men, he is a hater of
the wicked, entertaining a perfect aversion to all villany. He must
consequently learn to be faithful both to himself and his neighbours, and
obedient to the commandments. For he is the true servant of God who
spontaneously subjects himself to His commands. And he who already, not
through the commandments, but through knowledge itself, is pure in heart,
is the friend of God. For neither are we born by nature possessing virtue,
nor after we are born does it grow naturally, as certain parts of the body;
since then it would neither be voluntary nor praiseworthy. Nor is virtue,
like speech, perfected by the practice that results from everyday
occurrences (for this is very much the way in which vice originates). For
it is not by any art, either those of acquisition, or those which relate to
the care of the body, that knowledge is attained. No more is it from the
curriculum of instruction. For that is satisfied if it can only prepare and
sharpen the soul. For the laws of the state are perchance able to restrain
bad actions; but persuasive words, which but touch the surface, cannot
produce a scientific permanence of the truth.
Now the Greek philosophy, as it were, purges the soul, and prepares it
beforehand for the reception of faith, on which the Truth builds up the
edifice of knowledge.
This is the true athlete--he who in the great stadium, the fair world,
is crowned for the true victory over all the passions. For He who
prescribes the contest is the Almighty God, and He who awards the prize is
the only-begotten: Son of God. Angels and gods are spectators; and the
contest, embracing all the varied exercises, is "not against flesh and
blood," but against the spiritual powers of inordinate passions that
work through the flesh. He who obtains the mastery in these struggles, and
overthrows the tempter, menacing, as it were, with certain contests, wins
immortality. For the sentence of God in most righteous judgment is
infallible. The spectators are summoned to the contest, and the athletes
contend in the stadium; the one, who has obeyed the directions of the
trainer, wins the day. For to all, all rewards proposed by God are equal;
and He Himself is unimpeachable. And he who has power receives mercy, and
he that has exercised will is mighty.
So also we have received mind, that we may know what we do. And the
maxim "Know thyself" means here to know for what we are born. And we are
born to obey the commandments, if we choose to be willing to be saved. Such
is the Nemesis,s through which there is no escaping from God. Man's duty,
then, is obedience to God, who has proclaimed salvation manifold by the
commandments. And confession is thanksgiving. For the beneficent first
begins to do good. And he who on fitting considerations readily receives
and keeps the commandments, is faithful (pistos); and he who
by love requites benefits as far as he is able, is already a friend. One
recompense on the part of men is of paramount importance--the doing of what
is pleasing to God. As being His own production, and a result akin to
Himself, the Teacher and Saviour receives acts of assistance and of
improvement on the part of men as a personal favour and honour; as also He
regards the injuries inflicted on those who believe on Him as ingratitude
and dishonour to Himself. For what other dishonour can touch God? Wherefore
it is impossible to render a recompense at all equivalent to the boon
received from the Lord.
And as those who maltreat property insult the owners, and those who
maltreat soldiers insult the commander, so also the ill-usage of His
consecrated ones is contempt for the Lord.
For, just as the sun not only illumines heaven and the whole world,
shining over land and sea, but also through windows and small chinks sends
his beams into the innermost recesses of houses, so the Word diffused
everywhere casts His eye-glance on the minutest circumstances of the
actions of life.
CHAP. IV.--THE HEATHENS MADE GODS LIKE THEMSELVES, WHENCE SPRINGS ALL
Now, as the Greeks represent the gods as possessing human forms, so
also do they as possessing human passions. And as each of them depict their
forms similar to themselves, as Xenophanes says, "Ethiopians as black and
apes, the Thracians ruddy and tawny;" so also they assimilate their souls
to those who form them: the Barbarians, for instance, who make them savage
and wild; and the Greeks, who make them more civilized, yet subject to
Wherefore it stands to reason, that the ideas entertained of God by
wicked men must be bad, and those by good men most excellent. And therefore
he who is in soul truly kingly and gnostic, being likewise pious and free
from superstition, is persuaded that He who alone is God is honourable,
venerable, august, beneficent, the doer of good, the author of all good
things, but not the cause of evil. And respecting the Hellenic superstition
we have, as I think, shown enough in the book entitled by us The
Exhortation, availing ourselves abundantly of the history bearing on the
point. There is no need, then, again to make a long story of what has
already been clearly stated. But in as far as necessity requires to be
pointed out on coming to the topic, suffice it to adduce a few out of many
considerations in proof of the impiety of those who make the Divinity
resemble the worst men. For either those Gods of theirs are injured by men,
and are shown to be inferior to men on being injured by us; or, if not so,
how is it that they are incensed at those by whom they are not injured,
like a testy old wife roused to wrath?
As they say that Artemis was enraged at the Aetolians on account of
OEneus. For how, being a goddess, did she not consider that he had
neglected to sacrifice, not through contempt, but out of inadvertence, or
under the idea that he had sacrificed?
And Latona, arguing her case with Athene, on account of the latter
being incensed at her for having brought forth in the temple, says:--
Torn from the dead you love to see. And these
To you are not unclean. But you regard
My parturition here a horrid thing,
Though other creatures in the temple do
No harm by bringing forth their young."
It is natural, then, that having a superstitious dread of those irascible
[gods], they imagine that all events are signs and causes of evils. If a
mouse bore through an altar built of clay, and for want of something else
gnaw through an oil flask; if a cock that is being fattened crow in the
evening, they determine this to be a sign of something.
Of such a one Menander gives a comic description in The Supersitious
"A. Good luck be mine, ye honoured gods!
Tying my right shoe's string,
I broke it."
"B. Most likely, silly fool,
For it was rotten, and you, niggard, you
Would not buy new ones."
It was a clever remark of Antiphon, who (when one regarded it as an ill
omen that the sow had eaten her pigs), on seeing her emaciated through the
niggardliness of the person that kept her, said, Congratulate yourself on
the omen that, being so hungry, she did not eat your own children.
"And what wonder is it," says Bion, "if the mouse, finding nothing to
eat, gnaws the bag?" For it were wonderful if (as Arcesilaus argued in fun)
"the bag had eaten the mouse."
Diogenes accordingly remarked well to one who wondered at finding a
serpent coiled round a pestle: "Don't wonder; for it would have been more
surprising if you had seen the pestle coiled round the serpent, and the
For the irrational creatures must run, and scamper, and fight, and
breed, and die; and these things being natural to them, can never be
unnatural to us.
"And many birds beneath the sunbeams walk."
And the comic poet Philemon treats such points in comedy:--
"When I see one who watches who has sneezed,
Or who has spoke; or looking, who goes on,
I straightway in the market sell him off.
Each one of us walks, talks, and sneezes too,
For his own self, not for the citizens:
According to their nature things turn out."
Then by the practice of temperance men seek health: and by cramming
themselves, and wallowing in potations at feasts, they attract diseases.
There are many, too, that dread inscriptions set up. Very cleverly
Diogenes, on finding in the house of a bad man the inscription, "Hercules,
for victory famed, dwells here; let nothing bad enter," remarked, "And how
shall the master of the house go in ?"
The same people, who worship every stick and greasy stone, as the
saying is, dreads tufts of tawny wool, and lumps of salt, and torches, and
squills, and sulphur, bewitched by sorcerers, in certain impure rites of
expiation. But God, the true God, recognises as holy only the character of
the righteous man,--as unholy, wrong and wickedness.
You may see the eggs, taken from those who have been purified,
hatched if subjected to the necessary warmth. But this could not take place
if they had had transferred to them the sins of the man that had undergone
purification. Accordingly the comic poet Diphilus facetiously writes, in
comedy, of sorcerers, in the following words:--
"Purifying Proetus' daughters, and their father
Proetus Abantades, and fifth, an old wife to boot,
So many people's persons with one torch, one squill,
With sulphur and asphalt of the loud-sounding sea,
From the placid-flowing, deep-flowing ocean.
But blest air through the clouds send Anticyra
That I may make this bug into a drone."
For well Menander remarks:--
"Had you, O Phidias, any real ill,
You needs must seek for it a real cure;
Now 'tis not so. And for the unreal ill
I've found an unreal cure Believe that it
Will do thee good. Let women in a ring
Wipe thee, and from three fountains water bring.
Add salt and lentils; sprinkle then thyself.
Each one is pure, who's conscious of no sin."
For instance, the tragedy says:--
Menelaus. "What disease, Orestes, is destroying thee?"
Orestes. "Conscience. For horrid deeds I know I've done."
For in reality there is no other purity but abstinence from sins.
Excellently then Epicharmus says:--
"If a pure mind thou hast,
In thy whole body thou art pure."
Now also we say that it is requisite to purify the soul from corrupt and
bad doctrines by right reason; and so thereafter to the recollection of the
principal heads of doctrine. Since also before the communication of the
mysteries they think it right to apply certain purifications to those who
are to be initiated; so it is requisite for men to abandon impious opinion,
and thus turn to the true tradition.
CHAP. V.--THE HOLY SOUL A MORE EXCELLENT TEMPLE THAN ANY EDIFICE BUILT BY
For is it not the case that rightly and truly we do not circumscribe in
any place that which cannot be circumscribed; nor do we shut up in temples
made with hands that which contains all things? What work of builders, and
stonecutters, and mechanical art can be holy? Superior to these are not
they who think that the air, and the enclosing space, or rather the whole
world and the universe, are meet for the excellency of God ?
It were indeed ridiculous, as the philosophers themselves say, for man,
the plaything of God, to make God, and for God to be the plaything of
art; since what is made is similar and the same to that of which it is
made, as that which is made of ivory is ivory, and that which is made of
gold golden. Now the images and temples constructed by mechanics are made
of inert matter; so that they too are inert, and material, and profane; and
if you perfect the art, they partake of mechanical coarseness. Works of art
cannot then be sacred and divine.
And what can be localized, there being nothing that is not localized?
Since all things are in a place. And that which is localized having been
formerly not localized, is localized by something. If, then, God is
localized by men, He was once not localized, and did not exist at all. For
the non-existent is what is not localized; since whatever does not exist is
not localized. And what exists cannot be localized by what does not exist;
nor by another entity. For it is also an entity. It follows that it must be
by itself. And how shall anything generate itself? Or how shall that which
exists place itself as to being? Whether, being formerly not localized, has
it localized itself? But it was not in existence; since what exists not is
not localized. And its localization being supposed, how can it afterwards
make itself what it previously was?
But how can He, to whom the things that are belong, need anything? But
were God possessed of a human form, He would need, equally with man, food,
and shelter, and house, and the attendant incidents. Those who are like in
form and affections will require similar sustenance. And if sacred (to`
hiero'n) has a twofold application, designating both God Himself and the
structure raised to His honour, how shall we not with propriety call the
Church holy, through knowledge, made for the honour of God, sacred
(hiero'n) to God, of great value, and not constructed by mechanical art,
nor embellished by the hand of an impostor, but by the will of God
fashioned into a temple? For it is not now the place, but the assemblage of
the elect, that I call the Church. This temple is better for the
reception of the greatness of the dignity of God. For the living creature
which is of high value, is made sacred by that which is worth all, or
rather which has no equivalent, in virtue of the exceeding sanctity of the
latter. Now this is the Gnostic, who is of great value, who is honoured by
God, in whom God is enshrined, that is, the knowledge respecting God is
consecrated. Here, too, we shall find the divine likeness and the holy
image in the righteous soul, when it is blessed in being purified and
performing blessed deeds. Here also we shall find that which is localized,
and that which is being localized,--the former in the case of those who are
already Gnostics, and the latter in the case of those capable of becoming
so, although not yet worthy of receiving the knowledge of God. For every
being destined to believe is already faithful in the sight of God, and set
up for His honour, an image, endowed with virtue, dedicated to God.
CHAP. VI.--PRAYERS AND PRAISE FROM A PURE MIND, CEASELESSLY OFFERED, FAR
BETTER THAN SACRIFICES.
As, then, God is not circumscribed by place, neither is ever
represented by the form of a living creature; so neither has He similar
passions, nor has He wants like the creatures, so as to desire sacrifice,
from hunger, by way of food. Those creatures which are affected by passion
are all mortal. And it is useless to bring food to one who is not
And that comic poet Pherecrates, in The Fugitives, facetiously
represents the gods themselves as finding fault with men on the score of
their sacred rites:--
"When to the gods you sacrifice,
Selecting what our portion is,
'Tis shame to tell, do ye not take,
And both the thighs, clean to the groins,
The loins quite bare, the backbone, too,
Clean scrape as with a file,
Them swallow, and the remnant give
To us as if to dogs? And then,
As if of one another 'shamed,
With heaps of salted barley hide."
And Eubulus, also a comic poet, thus writes respecting sacrifices:--
"But to the gods the tail alone
And thigh, as if to paederasts you sacrifice."
And introducing Dionysus in Semele, he represents him disputing:--
"First if they offer aught to me, there are
Who offer blood, the bladder, not the heart
Or caul. For I no flesh do ever eat
That's sweeter than the thigh."
And Menander writes:--
"The end of the loin,
The bile, the bones uneatable, they set
Before the gods; the rest themselves consume."
For is not the savour of the holocausts avoided by the beasts? And if in
reality the savour is the guerdon of the gods of the Greeks, should they
not first deify the cooks, who are dignified with equal happiness, and
worship the chimney itself, which is closer still to the much-prized
And Hesiod says that Zeus, cheated in a division of flesh by
Prometheus, received the white bones of an ox, concealed with cunning art,
in shining fat:--
"Whence to the immortal gods the tribes of men
The victim's white bones on the altars burn."
But they will by no means say that the Deity, enfeebled through the
desire that springs from want, is nourished. Accordingly, they will
represent Him as nourished without desire like a plant, and like beasts
that burrow. They say that these grow innoxiously, nourished either by the
density in the air, or from the exhalations proceeding from their own body.
Though if the Deity, though needing nothing, is according to them
nourished, what necessity has He for food, wanting nothing? But if, by
nature needing nothing, He delights to be honoured, it is not without
reason that we honour God in prayer; and thus the best and holiest
sacrifice with righteousness we bring, presenting it as an offering to the
most righteous Word, by whom we receive knowledge, giving glory by Him for
what we have learned.
The altar, then, that is with us here, the terrestrial one, is the
congregation of those who devote themselves to prayers, having as it were
one common voice and one mind.
Now, if nourishing substances taken in by the nostrils are diviner than
those taken in by the mouth, yet they infer respiration. What, then, do
they say of God? Whether does He exhale like the tribe of oaks? Or does
He only inhale, like the aquatic animals, by the dilatation of their gills?
Or does He breathe all round, like the insects, by the compression of the
section by means of their wings? But no one, if he is in his senses, will
liken God to any of these.
And the creatures that breathe by the expansion of the lung towards the
thorax draw in the air. Then if they assign to God viscera, and arteries,
and veins, and nerves, and parts, they will make Him in nothing different
Now breathing together (su'mpnoia) is properly said of the Church. For
the sacrifice of the Church is the word breathing as incense from holy
souls, the sacrifice and the whole mind being at the same time unveiled to
God. Now the very ancient altar in Delos they celebrated as holy; which
alone, being undefiled by slaughter and death, they say Pythagoras
approached. And will they not believe us when we say that the righteous
soul is the truly sacred altar, and that incense arising from it is holy
prayer? But I believe sacrifices were invented by men to be a pretext for
eating flesh. But without such idolatry he who wished might have
partaken of flesh.
For the sacrifices of the Law express figuratively the piety which we
practise, as the turtle-dove and the pigeon offered for sins point out that
the cleansing of the irrational part of the soul is acceptable to God. But
if any one of the righteous does not burden his soul by the eating of
flesh, he has the advantage of a rational reason, not as Pythagoras and his
followers dream of the transmigration of the soul.
Now Xenocrates, treating by himself of "the food derived from animals,"
and Polemon in his work On Life according, to Nature, seem clearly to say
that animal food is unwholesome, inasmuch as it has already been elaborated
and assimilated to the souls of the irrational creatures.
So also, in particular, the Jews abstain from swine's flesh on the
ground of this animal being unclean; since more than the other animals it
roots up, and destroys the productions of the ground. But if they say that
the animals were assigned to men--and we agree with them--yet it was not
entirely for food. Nor was it all animals, but such as do not work.
Wherefore the comic poet Plato says not badly in the drama of The Feasts:--
"For of the quadrupeds we should not slay
In future aught but swine. For these have flesh
Most toothsome; and about the pig is nought
For us, excepting bristles, mud, and noise."
Whence AEsop said not badly, that "swine squeaked out very loudly, because,
when they were dragged, they knew that they were good for nothing but for
Wherefore also Cleanthes says, "that they have soul instead of
salt," that their flesh may not putrefy. Some, then, eat them as useless,
others as destructive of fruits. And others do not eat them, because the
animal has a strong sensual propensity.
So, then, the law sacrifices not the goat, except in the sole case of
the banishment of sins; since pleasure is the metropolis of vice. It is
to the point also that it is said that the eating of goat's flesh
contributes to epilepsy. And they say that the greatest increase is
produced by swine's flesh. Wherefore it is beneficial to those who exercise
the body; but to those who devote themselves to the development of the soul
it is not so, on account of the hebetude that results from the eating of
flesh. Perchance also some Gnostic will abstain from the eating of flesh
for the sake of training, and in order that the flesh may not grow wanton
in amorousness. "For wine," says Androcydes, "and gluttonous feeds of flesh
make the body strong, but the soul more sluggish." Accordingly such food,
in order to clear understanding, is to be rejected.
Wherefore also the Egyptians, in the purifications practised among
them, do not allow the priests to feed on flesh; but they use chickens, as
lightest; and they do not touch fish, on account of certain fables, but
especially on account of such food making the flesh flabby. But now
terrestrial animals and birds breathe the same air as our vital spirits,
being possessed of a vital principle cognate with the air. But it is said
that fishes do not breathe this air, but that which was mixed with the
water at the instant of its first creation, as well as with the rest of the
elements, which is also a sign of the permanence of matter.
Wherefore we ought to offer to God sacrifices not costly, but such as
He loves. And that compounded incense which is mentioned in the Law, is
that which consists of many tongues and voices in prayer, or rather of
different nations and natures, prepared by the gift vouchsafed in the
dispensation for "the unity of the faith," and brought together in praises,
with a pure mind, and just and right conduct, from holy works and righteous
prayer. For in the elegant language of poetry,--
"Who is so great a fool, and among men
So very easy of belief, as thinks
The gods, with fraud of fleshless bones and bile
All burnt, not fit for hungry dogs to eat,
Delighted are, and take this as their prize,
And favour show to those who treat them thus,"
though they happen to be tyrants and robbers?
But we say that the fire sanctifies not flesh, but sinful souls;
meaning not the all-devouring vulgar fire but that of wisdom, which
pervades the soul passing through the fire.
CHAP. VII.--WHAT SORT OF PRAYER THE GNOSTIC EMPLOYS, AND HOW IT iS HEARD BY
Now we are commanded to reverence and to honour the same one, being
persuaded that He is Word, Saviour, and Leader, and by Him, the Father, not
on special days, as some others, but doing this continually in our whole
life, and in every way. Certainly the elect race justified by the precept
says, "Seven times a day have I praised Thee." Whence not in a specified
place, or selected temple, or at certain festivals and on appointed
days, but during his whole life, the Gnostic in every place, even if he be
alone by himself, and wherever he has any of those who have exercised the
like faith, honours God, that is, acknowledges his gratitude for the
knowledge of the way to live.
And if the presence of a good man, through the respect and reverence
which he inspires, always improves him with whom he associates, with much
more reason does not he who always holds uninterrupted converse with God by
knowledge, life, and thanksgiving, grow at every step superior to himself
in all respects--in conduct, in words, in disposition? Such an one is
persuaded that God is ever beside him, and does not suppose that He is
confined in certain limited places; so that under the idea that at times he
is without Him, he may indulge in excesses night and day.
Holding festival, then, in our whole life, persuaded that God is
altogether on every side present, we cultivate our fields, praising; we
sail the sea, hymning; in all the rest of our conversation we conduct
ourselves according to rule. The Gnostic, then, is very closely allied
to God, being at once grave and cheerful in all things,--grave on account
of the bent of his soul towards the Divinity, and cheerful on account of
his consideration of the blessings of humanity which God hath given us.
Now the excellence of knowledge is evidently presented by the prophet
when he says, "Benignity, and instruction, and knowledge teach me,"
magnifying the supremacy of perfection by a climax.
He is, then, the truly kingly man; he is the sacred high priest of God.
And this is even now observed among the most sagacious of the Barbarians,
in advancing the sacerdotal caste to the royal power. He, therefore, never
surrenders himself to the rabble that rules supreme over the theatres, and
gives no admittance even in a dream to the things which are spoken, done,
and seen for the sake of alluring pleasures; neither, therefore, to the
pleasures of sight, nor the various pleasures which are found in other
enjoyments, as costly incense and odours, which bewitch the nostrils, or
preparations of meats, and indulgences in different wines, which ensnare
the palate, or fragrant bouquets of many flowers, which through the senses
effeminate the soul. But always tracing up to God the grave enjoyment of
all things, he offers the first-fruits of food, and drink, and unguents to
the Giver of all, acknowledging his thanks in the gift and in the use of
them by the Word given to him. He rarely goes to convivial banquets of all
and sundry, unless the announcement to him of the friendly and harmonious
character of the entertainment induce him to go. For he is convinced that
God knows and perceives all things--not the words only, but also the
thought; since even our sense of hearing, which acts through the passages
of the body, has the apprehension [be longing to it] not through corporeal
power, but through a psychical perception, and the intelligence which
distinguishes significant sounds. God is not, then, possessed of human
form, so as to hear; nor needs He senses, as the Stoics have decided,
"especially hearing and sight; for He could never otherwise apprehend." But
the susceptibility of the air, and the intensely keen perception of the
angels, and the power which reaches the soul's consciousness, by
ineffable power and without sensible hearing, know all things at the moment
of thought. And should any one say that the voice does not reach God, but
is rolled downwards in the air, yet the thoughts of the saints cleave not
the air only, but the whole world. And the divine power, with the speed of
light, sees through the whole soul. Well! Do not also volitions speak to
God, uttering their voice? And are they not conveyed by conscience? And
what voice shall He wait for, who, according to His purpose, knows the
elect already, even before his birth, knows what is to be as already
existent? Does not the light of power shine down to the very bottom of the
whole soul; "the lamp of knowledge," as the Scripture says, searching "the
recesses"? God is all ear and all eye, if we may be permitted to use these
In general, then, an unworthy opinion of God preserves no piety, either
in hymns, or discourses, or writings, or dogmas, but diverts to grovelling
and unseemly ideas and notions. Whence the commendation of the multitude
differs nothing from censure, in consequence of their ignorance of the
truth. The objects, then, of desires and aspirations, and, in a word, of
the mind's impulses, are the subjects of prayers. Wherefore, no man desires
a draught, but to drink what is drinkable; and no man desires an
inheritance, but to inherit. And in like manner no man desires knowledge,
but to know; or a right government, but to take part in the government. The
subjects of our prayers, then, are the subjects of our requests, and the
subjects of requests are the objects of desires. Prayer, then, and desire,
follow in order, with the view of possessing the blessings and advantages
The Gnostic, then, who is such by possession, makes his prayer and
request for the truly good things which appertain to the soul, and prays,
he himself also contributing his efforts to attain to the habit of
goodness, so as no longer to have the things that are good as certain
lessons belonging to him, but to be good.
Wherefore also it is most incumbent on such to pray, knowing as they do
the Divinity rightly, and having the moral excellence suitable to him; who
know what things are really good, and what are to be asked, and when and
how in each individual case. It is the extremest stupidity to ask of them
who are no gods, as if they were gods; or to ask those things which are not
beneficial, begging evils for themselves under the appearance of good
Whence, as is right, there being only one good God, that some good
things be given from Him alone, and that some remain, we and the angels
pray. But not similarly. For it is not the same thing to pray that the gift
remain, and to endeavour to obtain it for the first time.
The averting of evils is a species of prayer; but such prayer is never
to be used for the injury of men, except that the Gnostic, in devoting
attention to righteousness, may make use of this petition in the case of
those who are past feeling.
Prayer is, then, to speak more boldly, converse with God. Though
whispering, consequently, and not opening the lips, we speak in silence,
yet we cry inwardly. For God hears continually all the inward converse.
So also we raise the head and lift the hands to heaven, and set the feet in
motion at the closing utterance of the prayer, following the eagerness
of the spirit directed towards the intellectual essence; and endeavouring
to abstract the body from the earth, along with the discourse, raising the
soul aloft, winged with longing for better things, we compel it to advance
to the region of holiness, magnanimously despising the chain of the flesh.
For we know right well, that the Gnostic willingly passes over the whole
world, as the Jews certainly did over Egypt, showing clearly, above all,
that he will be as near as possible to God.
Now, if some assign definite hours for prayer--as, for example, the
third, and sixth, and ninth--yet the Gnostic prays throughout his whole
life, endeavouring by prayer to have fellowship with God. And, briefly,
having reached to this, he leaves behind him all that is of no service, as
having now received the perfection of the man that acts by love. But the
distribution of the hours into a threefold division, honoured with as many
prayers, those are acquainted with, who know the blessed triad of the holy
Having got to this point, I recollect the doctrines about there being
no necessity to pray, introduced by certain of the heterodox, that is, the
followers of the heresy of Prodicus. That they may not then be inflated
with conceit about this godless wisdom of theirs, as if it were strange,
let them learn that it was embraced before by the philosophers called
Cyrenaics. Nevertheless, the unholy knowledge (gnosis) of those falsely
called [Gnostics] shall meet with confutation at a fitting time; so that
the assault on them, by no means brief, may not, by being introduced into
the commentary, break the discourse in hand, in which we are showing that
the only really holy and pious man is he who is truly a Gnostic according
to the rule of the Church, to whom alone the petition made in accordance
with the will of God is granted, on asking and on thinking. For as God
can do all that He wishes, so the Gnostic receives all that he asks. For,
universally, God knows those who are and those who are not worthy of good
things; whence He gives to each what is suitable. Wherefore to those that
are unworthy, though they ask often, He will not give; but He will give to
those who are worthy.
Nor is petition superfluous, though good things are given without
Now thanksgiving and request for the conversion of our neighbours is
the function of the Gnostic; as also the Lord prayed, giving thanks for the
accomplishment of His ministry, praying that as many as possible might
attain to knowledge; that in the saved, by salvation, through knowledge,
God might be glorified, and He who is alone good and alone Saviour might be
acknowledged through the Son from age to age. But also faith, that one will
receive, is a species of prayer gnostically laid up in store.
But if any occasion of converse with God becomes prayer, no opportunity
of access to God ought to be omitted. Without doubt, the holiness of the
Gnostic, in union with [God's] blessed Providence, exhibits in voluntary
confession the perfect beneficence of God. For the holiness of the Gnostic,
and the reciprocal benevolence of the friend of God, are a kind of
corresponding movement of providence. For neither is God involuntarily
good, as the fire is warming; but in Him the imparting of good things is
voluntary, even if He receive the request previously. Nor shall he who is
saved be saved against his will, for he is not inanimate; but he will above
all voluntarily and of free choice speed to salvation. Wherefore also man
received the commandments in order that he might be self-impelled, to
whatever he wished of things to be chosen and to be avoided. Wherefore God
does not do good by necessity, but from His free choice benefits those who
spontaneously turn. For the Providence which extends to us from God is not
ministerial, as that service which proceeds from inferiors to superiors.
But in pity for our weakness, the continual dispensations of Providence
work, as the care of shepherds towards the sheep, and of a king towards his
subjects; we ourselves also conducting ourselves obediently towards our
superiors, who take the management of us, as appointed, in accordance with
the commission from God with which they are invested.
Consequently those who render the most free and kingly service, which
is the result of a pious mind and of knowledge, are servants and attendants
of the Divinity. Each place, then, and time, in which we entertain the idea
of God, is in reality sacred.
When, then, the man who chooses what is right, and is at the same time
of thankful heart, makes his request in prayer, he contributes to the
obtaining of it, gladly taking hold in prayer of the thing desired. For
when the Giver of good things perceives the susceptibility on our part, all
good things follow at once the conception of them. Certainly in prayer the
character is sifted, how it stands with respect to duty.
But if voice and expression are given us, for the sake of
understanding, how can God not hear the soul itself, and the mind, since
assuredly soul hears soul, and mind, mind? Whence God does not walt for
loquacious tongues, as interpreters among men, but knows absolutely the
thoughts of all; and what the voice intimates to us, that our thought,
which even before the creation He knew would come into our mind, speaks to
God. Prayer, then, may be uttered without the voice, by concentrating the
whole spiritual nature within on expression by the mind, in un-distracted
turning towards God.
And since the dawn is an image of the day of birth, and from that point
the light which has shone forth at first from the darkness increases, there
has also dawned on those involved in darkness a day of the knowledge of
truth. In correspondence with the manner of the sun's rising, prayers are
made looking towards the sunrise in the east. Whence also the most ancient
temples looked towards the west, that people might be taught to turn to the
east when facing the images. "Let my prayer be directed before Thee as
incense, the uplifting of my hands as the evening sacrifice," say the
In the case of wicked men, therefore, prayer is most injurious, not to
others alone, but to themselves also. If, then, they should ask and receive
what they call pieces of good fortune, these injure them after they receive
them, being ignorant how to use them. For they pray to possess what they
have not, and they ask things which seem, but are not, good things. But
the Gnostic will ask the permanence of the things he possesses, adaptation
for what is to take place, and the eternity of those things which he shall
receive. And the things which are really good, the things which concern the
soul, he prays that they may belong to him, and remain with him. And so he
desires not anything that is absent, being content with what is present.
For he is not deficient in the good things which are proper to him; being
already sufficient for himself, through divine grace and knowledge. But
having become sufficient in himself, he stands in no want of other things.
But knowing the sovereign will, and possessing as soon as he prays, being
brought into close contact with the almighty power, and earnestly desiring
to be spiritual, through boundless love, he is united to the Spirit.
Thus he, being magnanimous, possessing, through knowledge, what is the
most precious of all, the best of all, being quick in applying himself to
contemplation, retains in his soul the permanent energy of the objects of
his contemplation, that is the perspicacious keenness of knowledge. And
this power he strives to his utmost to acquire, by obtaining command of all
the influences which war against the mind; and by applying himself without
intermission to speculation, by exercising himself in the training of
abstinence from pleasures, and of fight conduct in what he does; and
besides, furnished with great experience both in study and in life, he has
freedom of speech, not the power of a babbling tongue, but a power which
employs plain language, and which neither for favour nor fear conceals
aught of the things which may be worthily said at the fitting time, in
which it is highly necessary to say them. He, then, having received the
things respecting God from the mystic choir of the truth itself, employs
language which urges the magnitude of virtue in accordance with its worth;
and shows its results with an inspired elevation of prayer, being
associated gnostically, as far as possible, with intellectual and spiritual
Whence he is always mild and meek, accessible, affable, long-suffering,
grateful, endued with a good conscience. Such a man is rigid, not alone so
as not to be corrupted, but so as not to be tempted. For he never exposes
his soul to submission, or capture at the hands of Pleasure and Pain. If
the Word, who is Judge, call; he, having grown inflexible, and not
indulging a whir the passions, walks unswervingly where justice advises him
to go; being very well persuaded that all things are managed consummately
well, and that progress to what is better goes on in the case of souls that
have chosen virtue, till they come to the Good itself, to the Father's
vestibule, so to speak, close to the great High Priest. Such is our
Gnostic, faithful, persuaded that the affairs of the universe are managed
in the best way. Particularly, he is well pleased with all that happens. In
accordance with reason, then, he asks for none of those things in life
required for necessary use; being persuaded that God, who knows all things,
supplies the good with whatever is for their benefit, even though they do
For my view is, that as all things are supplied to the man of art
according to the rules of art, and to the Gentile in a Gentile way, so also
to the Gnostic all things are supplied gnostically. And the man who turns
from among the Gentiles will ask for faith, while he that ascends to
knowledge will ask for the perfection of love. And the Gnostic, who has
reached the summit, will pray that contemplation may grow and abide, as the
common man will for continual good health.
Nay, he will pray that he may never fall from virtue; giving his most
strenuous co-operation in order that he may become infallible. For he knows
that some of the angels, through carelessness, were hurled to the earth,
not having yet quite reached that state of oneness, by extricating
themselves from the propensity to that of duality.
But him, who from this has trained himself to the summit of knowledge
and the elevated height of the perfect man, all things relating to time and
place help on, now that he has made it his choice to live infallibly, and
subjects himself to training in order to the attainment of the stability of
knowledge on each side. But in the case of those in whom there is still a
heavy corner, leaning downwards, even that part which has been elevated by
faith is dragged down. In him, then, who by gnostic training has acquired
virtue which cannot be lost, habit becomes nature. And just as weight in a
stone, so the knowledge of such an one is incapable of being lost. Not
without, but through the exercise of will, and by the force of reason, and
knowledge, and Providence, is it brought to become incapable of being lost.
Through care it becomes incapable of being lost. He will employ caution so
as to avoid sinning, and consideration to prevent the loss of virtue.
Now knowledge appears to produce consideration, by teaching to perceive
the things that are capable of contributing to the permanence of virtue.
The highest thing is, then, the knowledge of God; wherefore also by it
virtue is so preserved as to be incapable of being lost. And he who knows
God is holy and pious. The Gnostic has consequently been demonstrated by us
to be the only pious man.
He rejoices in good things present, and is glad on account of those
promised, as if they were already present. For they do not elude his
notice, as if they were still absent, because he knows by anticipation what
sort they are. Being then persuaded by knowledge how each future thing
shall be, he possesses it. For want and defect are measured with reference
to what appertains to one. If, then, he possesses wisdom, and wisdom is a
divine thing, he who partakes of what has no want will himself have no
want. For the imparting of wisdom does not take place by activity and
receptivity moving and stopping each other, or by aught being abstracted or
becoming defective. Activity is therefore shown to be undiminished in the
act of communication. So, then, our Gnostic possesses all good things, as
far as possible; but not likewise in number; since otherwise he would be
incapable of changing his place through the due inspired stages of
advancement and acts of administration.
Him God helps, by honouring him with closer oversight. For were not all
things made for the sake of good men, for their possession and advantage,
or rather salvation? He will not then deprive, of the things which exist
for the sake of virtue, those for whose sake they were created. For,
evidently in honour of their excellent nature and their holy choice, he
inspires those who have made choice of a good life with strength for the
rest of their salvation; exhorting some, and helping others, who of
themselves have become worthy. For all good is capable of being produced in
the Gnostic; if indeed it is his aim to know and do everything
intelligently. And as the physician ministers health to those who co-
operate with him in order to health, so also God ministers eternal
salvation to those who co-operate for the attainment of knowledge and good
conduct; and since what the commandments enjoin are in our own power, along
with the performance of them, the promise is accomplished.
And what follows seems to me to be excellently said by the Greeks. An
athlete of no mean reputation among those of old, having for a long time
subjected his body to thorough training in order to the attainment of manly
strength, on going up to the Olympic games, cast his eye on the statue of
the Pisaean Zeus, and said: "O Zeus, if all the requisite preparations for
the contest have been made by me, come, give me the victory, as is right."
For so, in the case of the Gnostic, who has unblameably and with a good
conscience fulfilled all that depends on him, in the direction of learning,
and training, and well-doing, and pleasing God, the whole contributes to
carry salvation on to perfection. From us, then, are demanded the things
which are in our own power, and of the things which pertain to us, both
present and absent, the choice, and desire, and possession, and use, and
Wherefore also he who holds converse with God must have his soul
immaculate and stainlessly pure, it being essential to have made himself
But also it becomes him to make all his prayers gently with the good.
For it is a dangerous thing to take part in others' sins. Accordingly the
Gnostic will pray along with those who have more recently believed, for
those things in respect of which it is their duty to act together. And his
whole life is a holy festival. His sacrifices are prayers, and praises,
and readings in the Scriptures before meals, and psalms and hymns during
meals and before bed, and prayers also again during night. By these he
unites himself to the divine choir, from continual recollection, engaged in
contemplation which has everlasting remembrance.
And what? Does he not also know the other kind of sacrifice, which
consists in the giving both of doctrines and of money to those who need?
Assuredly. But he does not use wordy prayer by his mouth; having learned to
ask of the Lord what is requisite. In every place, therefore, but not
ostensibly and visibly to the multitude, he will pray. But while engaged in
walking, in conversation, while in silence, while engaged in reading and in
works according to reason, he in every mood prays. If he but form the
thought in the secret chamber of his soul, and call on the Father "with
unspoken groanings," He is near, and is at his side, while yet speaking.
Inasmuch as there are but three ends of all action, he does everything for
its excellence and utility; but doing aught for the sake of pleasure, he
leaves to those who pursue the common life.
CHAP. VIII.--THE GNOSTIC SO ADDICTED TO TRUTH AS NOT TO NEED TO USE AN
The man of proved character in such piety is far from being apt to lie
and to swear. For an oath is a decisive affirmation, with the taking of the
divine name. For how can he, that is once faithful, show himself
unfaithful, so as to require an oath; and so that his life may not be a
sure and decisive oath? He lives, and walks, and shows the trustworthiness
of his affirmation in an unwavering and sure life and speech. And if the
wrong lies in the judgment of one who does and says [something], and not in
the suffering of one who has been wronged, he will neither lie nor
commit perjury so as to wrong the Deity, knowing that it by nature is
incapable of being harmed. Nor yet will he lie or commit any transgression,
for the sake of the neighbour whom he has learned to love, though he be not
on terms of intimacy. Much more, consequently, will he not lie or perjure
himself on his own account, since he never with his will can be found doing
wrong to himself.
But he does not even swear, preferring to make averment, in affirmation
by "yea," and in denial by "nay." For it is an oath to swear, or to
produce anything from the mind in the way of confirmation in the shape
of an oath. It suffices, then, with him, to add to an affirmation or denial
the expression" I say truly," for confirmation to those who do not perceive
the certainty of his answer. For he ought, I think, to maintain a life
calculated to inspire confidence towards those without, so that an oath may
not even be asked; and towards himself and those with whom he associates?
good feeling, which is voluntary righteousness.
The Gnostic swears truly, but is not apt to swear, having rarely
recourse to an oath, just as we have said. And his speaking truth on oath
arises from his accord with the truth. This speaking truth on oath, then,
is found to be the result of correctness in duties. Where, then, is the
necessity for an oath to him who lives in accordance with the extreme of
truth? He, then, that does not even swear will be far from perjuring
himself. And he who does not transgress in what is ratified by compacts,
will never swear; since the ratification of the violation and of the
fulfilment is by actions; as certainly lying and perjury in affirming and
swearing are contrary to duty. But he who lives justly, transgressing in
none of his duties, when the judgment of truth is scrutinized, swears truth
by his acts. Accordingly, testimony by the tongue is in his case
Therefore, persuaded always that God is everywhere, and fearing not to
speak the truth, and knowing that it is unworthy of him to lie, he is
satisfied with the divine consciousness and his own alone And so he lies
not, nor does aught contrary to his compacts. And so he swears not even
when asked for his oath; nor does he ever deny, so as to speak falsehood,
though he should die by tortures.
CHAP. IX.--THOSE WHO TEACH OTHERS, OUGHT TO EXCEL IN VIRTUES.
The gnostic dignity is augmented and increased by him who has
undertaken the first place in the teaching of others, and received the
dispensation by word and deed of the greatest good on earth, by which he
mediates contact and fellowship with the Divinity. And as those who worship
terrestrial things pray to them as if they heard, confirming compacts
before them; so, in men who are living images, the true majesty of the Word
is received by the trustworthy teacher; and the beneficence exerted towards
them is carried up to the Lord, after whose image he who is a true man by
instruction creates and harmonizes, renewing to salvation the man who
receives instruction. For as the Greeks called steel Ares, and wine
Dionysus on account of a certain relation; so the Gnostic considering the
benefit of his neighbours as his own salvation, may be called a living
image of the Lord, not as respects the peculiarity of form, but the symbol
of power and similarity of preaching.
Whatever, therefore, he has in his mind, he bears on his tongue, to
those who are worthy to hear, speaking as well as living from assent and
inclination. For he both thinks and speaks the truth; unless at any time,
medicinally, as a physician for the safety of the sick, he may deceive or
tell an untruth, according to the Sophists.
To illustrate: the noble apostle circumcised Timothy, though loudly
declaring and writing that circumcision made with hands profits nothing.
But that he might not, by dragging all at once away from the law to the
circumcision of the heart through faith those of the Hebrews who were
reluctant listeners, compel them to break away from the synagogue, he,
"accommodating himself to the Jews, became a Jew that he might gain
all." He, then, who submits to accommodate himself merely for the
benefit of his neighbours, for the salvation of those for whose sake he
accommodates himself, not partaking in any dissimulation through the peril
impending over the just from those who envy them, such an one by no means
acts with compulsion. But for the benefit of his neighbours alone, he
will do things which would not have been done by him primarily, if he did
not do them on their account. Such an one gives himself for the Church, for
the disciples whom he has begotten in faith; for an example to those who
are capable of receiving the supreme economy of the philanthropic and God-
loving Instructor, for confirmation of the truth of his words, for the
exercise of love to the Lord. Such an one is unenslaved by fear, true in
word, enduring in labour, never willing to lie by uttered word, and in it
always securing sinlessness; since falsehood, being spoken with a certain
deceit, is not an inert word, but operates to mischief.
On every hand, then, the Gnostic alone testifies to the truth in deed
and word. For he always does rightly in all things, both in word and
action, and in thought itself.
Such, then, to speak cursorily, is the piety of the Christian. If,
then, he does these things according to duty and right reason, he does them
piously and justly. And if such be the case, the Gnostic alone is really
both pious, and just, and God-fearing.
The Christian is not impious. For this was the point incumbent on us to
demonstrate to the philosophers; so that he will never in any way do aught
bad or base (which is unjust). Consequently, therefore, he is not impious;
but he alone fears God, holily and dutifully worshipping the true God, the
universal Ruler, and King, and Sovereign, with the true piety.
CHAP. X.--STEPS TO PERFECTION.
For knowledge (gnosis), to speak generally, a perfecting of man as man,
is consummated by acquaintance with divine things, in character, life, and
word, accordant and conformable to itself and to the divine Word. For by it
faith is perfected, inasmuch as it is solely by it that the believer
becomes perfect. Faith is an internal good, and without searching for God,
confesses His existence, and glorifies Him as existent. Whence by starting
from this faith, and being developed by it, through the grace of God, the
knowledge respecting Him is to be acquired as far as possible.
Now we assert that knowledge (gnosis) differs from the wisdom
(sophi'a), which is the result of teaching. For as far as anything is
knowledge, so far is it certainly wisdom; but in as far as aught is wisdom,
it is not certainly knowledge. For the term wisdom appears only in the
knowledge of the uttered word.
But it is not doubting in reference to God, but believing, that is the
foundation of knowledge. But Christ is both the foundation and the
superstructure, by whom are both the beginning and the ends. And the
extreme points, the beginning and the end--I mean faith and love--are not
taught. But knowledge, conveyed from communication through the grace of God
as a deposit, is entrusted to those who show themselves worthy of it; and
from it the worth of love beams forth from light to light. For it is said,
"To him that hath shall be given:" to faith, knowledge; and to
knowledge, love; and to love, the inheritance.
And this takes place, whenever one hangs on the Lord by faith, by
knowledge, by love, and ascends along with Him to where the God and guard
of our faith and love is. Whence at last (on account of the necessity for
very great preparation and previous training in order both to hear what is
said, and for the composure of life, and for advancing intelligently to a
point beyond the righteousness of the law) it is that knowledge is
committed to those fit and selected for it. It leads us to the endless and
perfect end, teaching us beforehand the future life that we shall lead,
according to God, and with gods; after we are freed from all punishment and
penalty which we undergo, in consequence of our sins, for salutary
discipline. After which redemption the reward and the honours are assigned
to those who have become perfect; when they have got done with
purification, and ceased from all service, though it be holy service, and
among saints. Then become pure in heart, and near to the Lord, there awaits
them restoration to everlasting contemplation; and they are called by the
appellation of gods, being destined to sit on thrones with the other gods
that have been first put in their places by the Saviour.
Knowledge is therefore quick in purifying, and fit for that acceptable
transformation to the better. Whence also with ease it removes [the soul]
to what is akin to the soul, divine and holy, and by its own light conveys
man through the mystic stages of advancement; till it restores the pure in
heart to the crowning place of rest; teaching to gaze on God, face to face,
with knowledge and comprehension. For in this consists the perfection of
the gnostic soul, in its being with the Lord, where it is in immediate
subjection to Him, after rising above all purification and service.
Faith is then, so to speak, a comprehensive knowledge of the
essentials; and knowledge is the strong and sure demonstration of what
is received by faith, built upon faith by the Lord's teaching, conveying
[the soul] on to infallibility, science, and comprehension. And, in my
view, the first saving change is that from heathenism to faith, as I said
before; and the second, that from faith to knowledge. And the latter
terminating in love, thereafter gives the loving to the loved, that which
knows to that which is known. And, perchance, such an one has already
attained the condition of "being equal to the angels." Accordingly,
after the highest excellence in the flesh, changing always duly to the
better, he urges his flight to the ancestral hall, through the holy
septenniad [of heavenly abodes] to the Lord's own mansion; to be a light,
steady, and continuing eternally, entirely and in every part immutable.
The first mode of the Lord's operation mentioned by us is an exhibition
of the recompense resulting from piety. Of the very great number of
testimonies that there are, I shall adduce one, thus summarily expressed by
the prophet David: "Who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord, or who shall
stand in His holy place? He who is guiltless in his hands, and pure in his
heart; who hath not lifted up his soul to vanity, or sworn deceitfully to
his neighbour. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and mercy from God
his Saviour. This is the generation of them that seek the Lord, that seek
the face of the God of Jacob." The prophet has, in my opinion, concisely
indicated the Gnostic. David, as appears, has cursorily demonstrated the
Saviour to be God, by calling Him "the face of the God of Jacob," who
preached and aught concerning the Spirit. Wherefore also the apostle
designates as "the express image (karakthra) of the glory of
the Father " the Son, who taught the truth respecting God, and expressed
the fact that the Almighty is the one and only God and Father, "whom no man
knoweth but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal Him." That God
is one is intimated by those "who seek the face of the God of Jacob;" whom
being the only God, our Saviour and God characterizes as the Good Father.
And "the generation of those that seek Him" is the elect race, devoted to
inquiry after knowledge. Wherefore also the apostle says, "I shall profit
you nothing, unless I speak to you, either by revelation, or by knowledge,
or by prophecy, or by doctrine."
Although even by those who are not Gnostics some things are done
rightly, yet not according to reason; as in the case of fortitude. For some
who are naturally high-spirited, and have afterwards without reason
fostered this disposition, rush to many things, and act like brave men, so
as sometimes to succeed in achieving the same things; just as endurance is
easy for mechanics. But it is not from the same cause, or with the same
object; not were they to give their whole body. "For they have not love,"
according to the apostle.
All the action, then, of a man possessed of knowledge is right action;
and that done by a man not possessed of knowledge is: wrong action, though
he observe a plan; since it is not from reflection that he acts bravely,
nor does he direct his action in those things which proceed from virtue to
virtue, to any useful purpose.
The same holds also with the other virtues. So too the analogy is
preserved in religion. Our Gnostic, then, not only is such in reference to
holiness; but corresponding to the piety of knowledge are the commands
respecting the rest of the conduct of life. For it is our purpose at
present to describe the life of the Gnostic, not to present the system
of dogmas, which we shall afterwards explain at the fitting time,
preserving the order of topics.
CHAP. XI.--DESCRIPTION OF THE GNOSTIC'S LIFE.
Respecting the universe, he conceives truly and grandly in virtue of
his reception of divine teaching. Beginning, then, with admiration of the
Creation, and affording of himself a proof of his capability for receiving
knowledge, he becomes a ready pupil of the Lord. Directly on hearing of God
and Providence, he believed in consequence of ethe admiration he
entertained. Through the power of impulse thence derived he devotes his
energies in every way to learning, doing all those things by means of which
he shall be able to acquire the knowledge of what he desires. And desire
blended with inquiry arises as faith advances. And this is to become worthy
of speculation, of such a character, and such importance. So shall the
Gnostic taste of the will of God. For it is not his ears, but his soul,
that he yields up to the things signified by what is spoken. Accordingly,
apprehending essences and things through the words, he brings his soul, as
is fit, to what is essential; apprehending (e.g.) in the peculiar way in
which they are spoken to the Gnostic, the commands, "Do not commit
adultery, "Do not kill;" and not as they are understood by other people.
Training himself, then, in scientific speculation, he proceeds to exercise
himself in larger generalizations and grander propositions; knowing right
well that "He that teacheth man knowledge," according to the prophet, is
the Lord, the Lord acting by man's mouth. So also He assumed flesh.
As is right, then, he never prefers the pleasant to the useful; not
even if a beautiful woman were to entice him, when overtaken by
circumstances, by wantonly urging him: since Joseph's master's wife was not
able to seduce him from his stedfastness; but as she violently held his
coat, divested himself of it,--becoming bare of sin, but clothed with
seemliness of character. For if the eyes of the master--the Egyptian, I
mean--saw not Joseph, yet those of the Almighty looked on. For we hear the
voice, and see the bodily forms; but God scrutinizes the thing itself, from
which the speaking and the looking proceed.
Consequently, therefore, though disease, and accident, and what is most
terrible of all, death, come upon the Gnostic, he remains inflexible in
soul,--knowing that all such things are a necessity of creation, and that,
also by the power of God, they become the medicine of salvation, benefiting
by discipline those who are difficult to reform; allotted according to
desert, by Providence, which is truly good.
Using the creatures, then, when the Word prescribes, and to the extent
it prescribes, in the exercise of thankfulness to the Creator, he becomes
master of the enjoyment of them.
He never cherishes resentment or harbours a grudge against any one,
though deserving of hatred for his conduct. For he worships the Maker, and
loves him, who shares life, pitying and praying for him on account of his
ignorance. He indeed partakes of the affections of the body, to which,
susceptible as it is of suffering by nature, he is bound. But in sensation
he is not the primary subject of it.
Accordingly, then, in involuntary circumstances, by withdrawing himself
from troubles to the things which really belong to him, he is not carried
away with what is foreign to him. And it is only to things that are
necessary for him that he accommodates himself, in so far as the soul is
preserved unharmed. For it is not m supposition or seeming that he wishes
to be faithful; but in knowledge and truth, that is, in sure deed and
effectual word. Wherefore he not only praises what is noble, but
endeavours himself to be noble; changing by love from a good and faithful
servant into a friend, through the perfection of habit, which he has
acquired in purity from true instruction and great discipline.
Striving, then, to attain to the summit of knowledge (gnosis); decorous
in character; composed in mien; possessing all those advantages which
belong to the true Gnostic fixing his eye on fair models, on the many
patriarchs who have lived rightly, and on very many prophets and angels
reckoned without number, and above all, on the Lord, who taught and showed
it to be possible for him to attain that highest life of all,--he therefore
loves not all the good things of the world, which are within his grasp,
that he may not remain on the ground, but the things hoped for, or rather
already known, being hoped for so as to be apprehended.
So then he undergoes toils, and trials, and affections, not as those
among the philosophers who are endowed with manliness, in the hope of
present troubles ceasing, and of sharing again in what is pleasant; but
knowledge has inspired him with the firmest persuasion of receiving the
hopes of the future. Wherefore he contemns not alone the pains of this
world, but all its pleasures.
They say, accordingly, that the blessed Peter, on seeing his wife led
to death, rejoiced on account of her call and conveyance home, and called
very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, "Remember thou
the Lord." Such was the marriage of the blessed and their perfect
disposition towards those dearest to them.
Thus also the apostle says, "that he who marries should be as though he
married not," and deem his marriage free of inordinate affection, and
inseparable from love to the Lord; to which the true husband exhorted his
wife to cling on her departure out of this life to the Lord.
Was not then faith in the hope after death conspicuous in the case of
those who gave thanks to God even in the very extremities of their
punishments? For firm, in my opinion, was the faith they possessed, which
was followed by works of faith.
In all circumstances, then, is the soul of the Gnostic strong, in a
condition of extreme health and strength, like the body of an athlete.
For he is prudent in human affairs, in judging what ought to be done by
the just man; having obtained the principles from God from above, and
having acquired, in order to the divine resemblance, moderation in bodily
pains and pleasures. And he struggles against fears boldly, trusting in
God. Certainly, then, the gnostic soul, adorned with perfect virtue, is the
earthly image of the divine power; its development being the joint result
of nature, of training, of reason, all together. This beauty of the soul
becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit, when it acquires a disposition in the
whole of life corresponding to the Gospel. Such an one consequently
withstands all fear of everything terrible, not only of death, but also
poverty and disease, and ignominy, and things akin to these; being
unconquered by pleasure, and lord over irrational desires. For he well
knows what is and what! is not to be done; being perfectly aware what
things are really to be dreaded, and what not. Whence he bears
intelligently what the Word intimates to him to be requisite and necessary;
intelligently discriminating what is really safe (that is, good), from what
appears so; and things to be dreaded from what seems so, such as death,
disease, and poverty; which are rather so in opinion than in truth.
This is the really good man, who is without passions; having, through
the habit or disposition of the soul endued with virtue, transcended the
whole life of passion. He has everything dependent on himself for the
attainment of the end. For those accidents which are called terrible are
not formidable to the good man, because they are not evil. And those which
are really to be dreaded are foreign to the gnostic Christian, being
diametrically opposed to what is good, because evil; and it is impossible
for contraries to meet in the same person at the same time. He, then, who
faultlessly acts the drama of life which God has given him to play, knows
both what is to be done and what is to be endured.
Is it not then from ignorance of what is and what is not to be dreaded
that cowardice arises? Consequently the only man of courage is the Gnostic,
who knows both present and future good things; along with these, knowing,
as I have said, also the things which are in reality not to be dreaded.
Because, knowing vice alone to be hateful, and destructive of what
contributes to knowledge, protected by the armour of the Lord, he makes war
For if anything is caused through folly, and the operation or rather
co-operation of the devil, this thing is not straightway the devil or
folly. For no action is wisdom. For wisdom is a habit. And no action is a
habit. The action, then, that arises from ignorance, is not already
ignorance, but an evil through ignorance, but not ignorance. For neither
perturbations of mind nor sins are vices, though proceeding from vice.
No one, then, who is irrationally brave is a Gnostic ; since one
might call children brave, who, through ignorance of what is to be dreaded,
undergo things that are frightful. So they touch fire even. And the wild
beasts that rush close on the points of spears, having a brute courage,
might be called valiant. And such people might perhaps call jugglers
valiant, who tumble on swords with a certain dexterity, practising a
mischievous art for sorry gain. But he who is truly brave, with the peril
arising from the bad feeling of the multitude before his eyes, courageously
awaits whatever comes. In this way he is distinguished from others that are
called martyrs, inasmuch as some furnish occasions for themselves, and rush
into the heart of dangers, I know not how (for it is right to use mild
language); while they, in accordance with right reason, protect themselves;
then, on God really calling them, promptly surrender themselves, and
confirm the call, from being conscious of no precipitancy, and present the
man to be proved in the exercise of true rational fortitude. Neither, then,
enduring lesser dangers from fear of greater, like other people, nor
dreading censure at the hands of their equals, and those of like
sentiments, do they continue in the confession of their calling; but from
love to God they willingly obey the call, with no other aim in view than
pleasing God, and not for the sake of the reward of their toils.
For some suffer from love of glory, and others from fear of some other
sharper punishment, and others for the sake of pleasures and delights after
death, being children in faith; blessed indeed, but not yet become men in
love to God, as the Gnostic is. For there are, as in the gymnastic
contests, so also in the Church, crowns for men and for children. But love
is to be chosen for itself, and for nothing else. Therefore in the Gnostic,
along with knowledge, the perfection of fortitude is developed from the
discipline of life, he having always studied to acquire mastery over the
Accordingly, love makes its own athlete fearless and dauntless, and
confident in the Lord, anointing and training him; as righteousness secures
for him truthfulness in his whole life. For it was a compendium of
righteousness to say, "Let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay."
And the same holds with self-control. For it is neither for love of
honour, as the athletes for the sake of crowns and fame; nor on the other
hand, for love of money, as some pretend to exercise self-control, pursuing
what is good with terrible suffering. Nor is it from love of the body for
the sake of health. Nor any more is any man who is temperate from
rusticity, who has not tasted pleasures, truly a man of self-con-trol.
Certainly those who have led a laborious life, on tasting pleasures,
forthwith break down the inflexibility of temperance into pleasures. Such
are they who are restrained by law and fear. For on finding a favourable
opportunity they defraud the law, by giving what is good the slip. But
self-control, desirable for its own sake, perfected through knowledge,
abiding ever, makes the man lord and master of himself; so that the Gnostic
is temperate and passionless, incapable of being dissolved by pleasures and
pains, as they say adamant is by fire.
The cause of these, then, is love, of all science the most sacred and
For by the service of what is best and most exalted, which is
characterized by unity, it renders the Gnostic at once friend and son,
having in truth grown "a perfect man, up to the measure of full
Further, agreement in the same thing is consent. But what is the same
is one. And friendship is consummated in likeness; the community lying in
oneness. The Gnostic, consequently, in virtue of being a lover of the one
true God, is the really perfect man and friend of God, and is placed in the
rank of son. For these are names of nobility and knowledge, and perfection
in the contemplation of God; which crowning step of advancement the gnostic
soul receives, when it has become quite pure, reckoned worthy to behold
everlastingly God Almighty, "face," it is said, "to face." For having
become wholly spiritual, and having in the spiritual Church gone to what is
of kindred nature, it abides in the rest of God.
CHAP. XII.--THE TRUE GNOSTIC IS BENEFICENT, CONTINENT, AND DESPISES WORLDLY
Let these things, then, be so. And such being the attitude of the
Gnostic towards the body and the soul--towards his neighbours, whether it
be a domestic, or a lawful enemy, or whosoever--he is found equal and like.
For he does not "despise his brother," who, according to the divine law, is
of the same father and mother. Certainly he relieves the afflicted, helping
him with consolations, encouragements, and the necessaries of life; giving
to all that need, though not similarly, but justly, according to desert;
furthermore, to him who persecutes and hates, even if he need it; caring
little for those who say to him that be has given out of fear, if it is not
out of fear that he does so, but to give help. For how much more are those,
who towards their enemies are devoid of love of money, and are haters of
evil, animated with love to those who belong to them?
Such an one from this proceeds to the accurate knowledge of whom he
ought chiefly to give to, and how much, and when, and how.
And who could with any reason become the enemy of a man who gives no
cause for enmity in any way? And is it not just as in the case of God? We
say that God is the adversary of no one, and the enemy of no one (for He is
the Creator of all, and nothing that exists. is what He wills it not to be;
but we assert that the disobedient, and those who walk not according to His
commandments, are enemies to Him, as being those who are hostile to His
covenant). We shall find the very same to be the case with the Gnostic, for
he can never in any way become an enemy to any one; but those may be
regarded enemies to him who turn to the contrary path.
In particular, the habit of liberality which prevails among us is
called "righteousness;" but the power of discriminating according to
desert, as to greater and less, with reference to those who am proper
subjects of it, is a form of the very highest righteousness.
There are things practised in a vulgar style by some people, such as
control over pleasures. For as, among the heathen, there are those who,
from the impossibility of obtaining what one sees, and from fear of men,
and also for the sake of greater pleasures, abstain from the delights that
are before them; so also, in the case of faith, some practise self-
restraint, either out of regard to the promise or from fear of God. Well,
such self-restraint is the basis of knowledge, and an approach to something
better, and an effort after perfection. For "the fear of the Lord," it is
said, "is the beginning of wisdom." But the perfect man, out of love,
"beareth all things, endureth all things," "as not pleasing man, but
God." Although praise follows him as a consequence, it is not for his
own advantage, but for the imitation and benefit of those who praise him.
According to another view, it is not he who merely controls his
passions that is called a continent man, but he who has also achieved the
mastery over good things, and has acquired surely the great accomplishments
of science, from which he produces as fruits the activities of virtue. Thus
the Gnostic is never, on the occurrence of an emergency, dislodged from the
habit peculiar to him. For the scientific possession of what is good is
firm and unchangeable, being the knowledge of things divine and human.
Knowledge, then, never becomes ignorance nor does good change into evil.
Wherefore also he eats, and drinks, and marries, not as principal ends of
existence, but as necessary. I name marriage even, if the Word prescribe,
and as is suitable. For having become perfect, he has the apostles for
examples; and one is not really shown to be a man in the choice of single
life; but he surpasses men, who, disciplined by marriage, procreation of
children, and care for the house, without pleasure or pain, in his
solicitude for the house has been inseparable from God's love, and
withstood all temptation arising through children, and wife, and domestics,
and possessions. But he that has no family is in a great degree free of
temptation. Caring, then, for himself alone, he is surpassed by him who is
inferior, as far as his own personal salvation is concerned, but who is
superior in the conduct of life, preserving certainly, in his care for the
truth, a minute image.
But we must as much as possible subject the soul to varied preparatory
exercise, that it may become susceptible to the reception of knowledge. Do
you not see how wax is softened and copper purified, in order to receive
the stamp applied to it? Just as death is the separation of the soul from
the body, so is knowledge as it were the rational death urging the spirit
away, and separating it from the passions, and leading it on to the life of
well-doing, that it may then say with confidence to God, "I live as Thou
wishest." For he who makes it his purpose to please men cannot please God,
since the multitude choose not what is profitable, but what is pleasant.
But in pleasing God, one as a consequence gets the favour of the good among
men. How, then, can what relates to meat, and drink, and amorous pleasure,
be agreeable to such an one? since he views with suspicion even a word that
produces pleasure, and a pleasant movement and act of the mind. "For no one
can serve two masters, God and Mammon," it is said; meaning not simply
money, but the resources arising from money bestowed on various pleasures.
In reality, it is not possible for him who magnanimously and truly knows
God, to serve antagonistic pleasures.
There is one alone, then, who from the beginning was free of
concupiscence--the philanthropic Lord, who for us became man. And whosoever
endeavour to be assimilated to the impress given by Him, strive, from
exercise, to become free of concupiscence. For he who has exercised
concupiscence and then restrained himself, is like a widow who becomes
again a virgin by continence. Such is the reward of knowledge, rendered to
the Saviour and Teacher, which He Himself asked for,--abstinence from what
is evil, activity in doing good, by which salvation is acquired.
As, then, those who have learned the arts procure their living by what
they have been taught, so also is the Gnostic saved, procuring life by what
he knows. For he who has not formed the wish to extirpate the passion of
the soul, kills himself. But, as seems, ignorance is the starvation of the
soul, and knowledge its sustenance.
Such are the gnostic souls, which the Gospel likened to the consecrated
virgins who wait for the Lord. For they are virgins, in respect of their
abstaining from what is evil. And in respect of their waiting out of love
for the Lord and kindling their light for the contemplation of things, they
are wise souls, saying, "Lord, for long we have desired to receive Thee; we
have lived according to what Thou hast enjoined, transgressing none of Thy
commandments. Wherefore also we claim the promises. And we pray for what is
beneficial, since it is not requisite to ask of Thee what is most
excellent. And we shall take everything for good; even though the exercises
that meet us, which Thine arrangement brings to us for the discipline of
our stedfastness, appear to be evil."
The Gnostic, then, from his exceeding holiness, is better prepared to
fail when he asks, than to get when he does not ask.
His whole life is prayer and converse with God. And if he be pure
from sins, he will by all means obtain what he wishes. For God says to the
righteous man, "Ask, and I will give thee; think, and I will do." If
beneficial, he will receive it at once; and if injurious, he will never ask
it, and therefore he will not receive it. So it shall be as he wishes.
But if one say to us, that some sinners even obtain according to their
requests, [we should say] that this rarely takes place, by reason of the
righteous goodness of God. And it is granted to those who are capable of
doing others good. Whence the gift is not made for the sake of him that
asked it; but the divine dispensation, foreseeing that one would be saved
by his means, renders the boon again righteous. And to those who are
worthy, things which are really good are given, even without their asking.
Whenever, then, one is righteous, not from necessity or out of fear or
hope, but from free choice, this is called the royal road, which the royal
race travel. But the byways are slippery and precipitous. If, then, one
take away fear and honour, I do not know if the illustrious among the
philosophers, who use such freedom of speech, will any longer endure
Now lusts and other sins are called "briars and thorns." Accordingly
the Gnostic labours in the Lord's vineyard, planting, pruning, watering;
being the divine husbandman of what is planted in faith. Those, then, who
have not done evil, think it right to receive the wages of ease. But he who
has done good out of free choice, demands the recompense as a good workman.
He certainly shall receive double wages--both for what he has not done, and
for what good he has done.
Such a Gnostic is tempted by no one except with God's permission, and
that for the benefit of those who are with him; and he strengthens them for
faith, encouraging them by manly endurance. And assuredly it was for this
end, for the establishment and confirmation of the Churches, that the
blessed apostles were brought into trial and to martyrdom.
The Gnostic, then, hearing a voice ringing in his ear, which says,
"Whom I shall strike, do thou pity," beseeches that those who hate him may
repent. For the punishment of malefactors, to be consummated in the
highways, is for children to behold; for there is no possibility of the
Gnostic, who has from choice trained himself to be excellent and good, ever
being instructed or delighted with such spectacles. And so, having
become incapable of being softened by pleasures, and never failing into
sins, he is not corrected by the examples of other men's sufferings. And
far from being pleased with earthly pleasures and spectacles is he who has
shown a noble contempt for the prospects held out in this world, although
they are divine.
"Not every one," therefore, "that says Lord, Lord, shall enter into the
kingdom of God; but he that doeth the will of God." Such is the gnostic
labourer, who has the mastery of worldly desires even while still in the
flesh; and who, in regard to things future and still invisible, which he
knows, has a sure persuasion, so that he regards them as more present than
the things within reach. This able workman rejoices in what he knows, but
is cramped on account of his being involved in the necessities of life; not
yet deemed worthy of the active participation in what he knows. So he uses
this life as if it belonged to another,--so far, that is, as is necessary.
He knows also the enigmas of the fasting of those days--I mean the
Fourth and the Preparation. For the one has its name from Hermes, and the
other from Aphrodite. He fasts in his life, in respect of covetousness and
voluptuousness, from which all the vices grow. For we have already often
above shown the three varieties of fornication, according to the apostle--
love of pleasure, love of money, idolatry. He fasts, then, according to the
Law, abstaining from bad deeds, and, according to the perfection of the
Gospel, from evil thoughts. Temptations are applied to him, not for his
purification, but, as we have said, for the good of his neighbours, if,
making trial of toils and pains, he has despised and passed them by.
The same holds of pleasure. For it is the highest achievement for one
who has had trial of it, afterwards to abstain. For what great thing is it,
if a man restrains himself in what he knows not? He, in fulfilment of the
precept, according to the Gospel, keeps the Lord's day, when he abandons
an evil disposition, and assumes that of the Gnostic, glorifying the Lord's
resurrection in himself. Further, also, when he has received the
comprehension of scientific speculation, he deems that he sees the Lord,
directing his eyes towards things invisible, although he seems to look on
what he, does not wish to look on; chastising the faculty of vision, when
he perceives himself pleasurably affected by the application of his eyes;
since he wishes to see and hear that alone which concerns him.
In the act of contemplating the souls of the brethren, he beholds the
beauty of the flesh also, with the soul itself, which has become habituated
to look solely upon that which is good, without carnal pleasure. And they
are really brethren; inasmuch as, by reason of their elect creation, and
their oneness of character, and the nature of their deeds, they do, and
think, and speak the same holy and good works, in accordance with the
sentiments with which the Lord wished them as elect to be inspired.
For faith shows itself in their making choice of the same things; and
knowledge, in learning and thinking the same things; and hope, in
desiring the same things.
And if, through the necessity of life, he spend a small portion of time
about his sustenance, he thinks himself defrauded, being diverted by
business. Thus not even in dreams does he look on aught that is
unsuitable to an elect man. For thoroughly a stranger and sojourner in
the whole of life is every such one, who, inhabiting the city, despises the
things in the city which are admired by others, and lives in the city as in
a desert, so that the place may not compel him, but his mode of life show
him to be just.
This Gnostic, to speak compendiously, makes up for the absence of the
apostles, by the rectitude of his life, the accuracy of his knowledge, by
benefiting his relations, by "removing the mountains" of his neighbours,
and putting away the irregularities of their soul. Although each of us is
his own vineyard and labourer.
He, too, while doing the most excellent things, wishes to elude the
notice of men, persuading the Lord along with himself that he is living in
accordance with the commandments, preferring these things from believing
them to exist. "For where any one's mind is, there also is his
He impoverishes himself, in order that he may never overlook a brother
who has been brought into affliction, through the perfection that is in
love, especially if he know that he will bear want himself easier than his
brother. He considers, accordingly, the other's pain his own grief; and if,
by contributing from his own indigence in order to do good, he suffer any
hardship, he does not fret at this, but augments his beneficence still
more. For he possesses in its sincerity the faith which is exercised in
reference to the affairs of life, and praises the Gospel in practice and
contemplation. And, in truth, he wins his praise "not from men, but from
God," by the performance of what the Lord has taught.
He, attracted by his own hope, tastes not the good things that are in
the world, entertaining a noble contempt for all things here; pitying those
that are chastised after death, who through punishment unwillingly make
confession; having a clear conscience with reference to his departure, and
being always ready, as "a stranger and pilgrim," with regard to the
inheritances here; mindful only of those that are his own, and regarding
all things here as not his own; not only admiring the Lord's commandments,
but, so to speak, being by knowledge itself partaker of the divine will; a
truly chosen intimate of the Lord and His commands in virtue of being
righteous; and princely and kingly as being a Gnostic; despising all the
gold on earth and under the earth, and dominion from shore to shore of
ocean, so that he may cling to the sole service of the Lord. Wherefore
also, in eating, and drinking, and marrying (if the Word enjoin), and even
in seeing dreams, he does and thinks what is holy.
So is he always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of
angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy
keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints
standing with him.
He recognises a twofold [element in faith], both the activity of him
who believes, and the excellence of that which is believed according to its
worth; since also righteousness is twofold, that which is out of love, and
that from fear. Accordingly it is said, "The fear of the Lord is pure,
remaining for ever and ever." For those that from fear turn to faith and
righteousness, remain for ever. Now fear works abstinence from what is
evil; but love exhorts to the doing of good, by building up to the point of
spontaneousness; that one may hear from the Lord, "I call you no longer
servants, but friends," and may now with confidence apply himself to
And the form of his prayer is thanksgiving for the past, for the
present, and for the future as already through faith present. This is
preceded by the reception of knowledge. And he asks to live the allotted
life in the flesh as a Gnostic, as free from the flesh, and to attain to
the best things, and flee from the worse. He asks, too, relief in those
things in which we have sinned, and conversion to the acknowledgment of
He follows, on his departure, Him who calls, as quickly, so to speak,
as He who goes before calls, hasting by reason of a good conscience to give
thanks; and having got there with Christ shows himself worthy, through his
purity, to possess, by a process of blending, the power of God communicated
by Christ. For he does not wish to be warm by participation in heat, or
luminous by participation in flame, but to be wholly light.
He knows accurately the declaration, "Unless ye hate father and mother,
and besides your own life, and unless ye bear the sign [of the cross] ."
For he hates the inordinate affection: of the flesh, which possess the
powerful spell of pleasure; and entertains a noble contempt for all that
belongs to the creation and nutriment of the flesh. He also withstands the
corporeal soul, putting a bridle-bit on the restive irrational spirit:
"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit." And "to bear the sign of
[the cross]" is to bear about death, by taking farewell of all things while
still alive; since there is not equal love in "having sown the flesh,"
and in having formed the soul for knowledge.
He having acquired the habit of doing good, exercises beneficence well,
quicker than speaking; praying that he may get a share in the sins of his
brethren, in order to confession and conversion on the part of his kindred;
and eager to give a share to those dearest to him of his own good things.
And so these are to him, friends. Promoting, then, the growth of the seeds
deposited in him, according to the husbandry enjoined by the Lord, he
continues free of sin, and becomes continent, and lives in spirit with
those who are like him, among the choirs of the saints, though still
detained on earth.
He, all day and night, speaking and doing the Lord's commands, rejoices
exceedingly, not only on rising in the morning and at noon, but also when
walking about, when asleep, when dressing and undressing; and he teaches
his son, if he has a son. He is inseparable from the commandment and from
hope, and is ever giving thanks to God, like the living creatures
figuratively spoken of by Esaias, and submissive in every trial, he says,
"The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away." For such also was Job;
who after the spoiling of his effects, along with the health of his body,
resigned all through love to the Lord. For "he was," it is said, "just,
holy, and kept apart from all wickedness." Now the word "holy" points
out all duties toward God, and the entire course of life. Knowing which, he
was a Gnostic. For we must neither cling too much to such things, even if
they are good, seeing they are human, nor on the other hand detest them, if
they are bad; but we must be above both [good and bad], trampling the
latter under foot, and passing on the former to those who need them. But
the Gnostic is cautious in accommodation, lest he be not perceived, or lest
the accommodation become disposition.
CHAP. XIII.--DESCRIPTION OF THE GNOSTIC CONTINUED.
He never remembers those who have sinned against him, but forgives
them. Wherefore also he righteously prays, saying, "Forgive us; for we also
forgive." For this also is one of the things which God wishes, to covet
nothing, to hate no one. For all men are the work of one will. And is it
not the Saviour, who wishes the Gnostic to be perfect as" the heavenly
Father," that is, Himself, who says, "Come, ye children, hear from me
the fear of the Lord?" He wishes him no longer to stand in need of help
by angels, but to receive it from Himself, having become worthy, and to
have protection from Himself by obedience.
Such an one demands from the Lord, and does not merely ask. And in the
case of his brethren in want, the Gnostic will not ask himself for
abundance of wealth to bestow, but will pray that the supply of what they
need may be furnished to them. For so the Gnostic gives his prayer to those
who are in need, and by his prayer they are supplied, without his
knowledge, and without vanity.
Penury and disease, and such trials, are often sent for admonition, for
the correction of the past, and for care for the future. Such an one prays
for relief from them, in virtue of possessing the prerogative of knowledge,
not out of vainglory; but from the very fact of his being a Gnostic, he
works beneficence, having become the instrument of the goodness of God.
They say in the traditions that Matthew the apostle constantly said,
that "if the neighbour of an elect man sin, the elect man has sinned. For
had he conducted himself as the Word prescribes, his neighbour also would
have been filled with such reverence for the life he led as not to sin."
What, then, shall we say of the Gnostic himself? "Know ye not," says
the apostle, "that ye are the temple of God?" The Gnostic is
consequently divine, and already holy, God-bearing, and God-borne. Now the
Scripture, showing that sinning is foreign to him, sells those who have
fallen away to strangers, saying, "Look not on a strange woman, to
lust," plainly pronounces sin foreign and contrary to the nature of the
temple of God. Now the temple is great, as the Church, and it is small, as
the man who preserves the seed of Abraham. He, therefore, who has God
resting in him will not desire aught else. At once leaving all hindrances,
and despising all matter which distracts him, he cleaves the heaven by
knowledge. And passing through the spiritual Essences, and all rule and
authority, he touches the highest thrones, hasting to that alone for the
sake of which alone he knew.
Mixing, then, "the serpent with the dove," he lives at once
perfectly and with a good conscience, mingling faith with hope, in order to
the expectation of the future. For he is conscious of the boon he has
received, having become worthy of obtaining it; and is translated from
slavery to adoption, as the consequence of knowledge; knowing God, or
rather known of Him, for the end, he puts forth energies corresponding to
the worth of grace. For works follow knowledge, as the shadow the body.
Rightly, then, he is not disturbed by anything which happens; nor does
he suspect those things, which, through divine arrangement, take place for
good. Nor is he ashamed to die, having a good conscience, and being fit to
be seen by the Powers. Cleansed, so to speak, from all the stains of the
soul, he knows right well that it will be better with him after his
Whence he never prefers pleasure and profit to the divine arrangement,
since he trains himself by the commands, that in all things he may be well
pleasing to the Lord, and praiseworthy in the sight of the world, since all
things depend on the one Sovereign God. The Son of God, it is said, came to
His own, and His own received Him not. Wherefore also in the use of the
things of the world he not only gives thanks and praises the creation, but
also, while using them as is right, is praised; since the end he has in
view terminates in contemplation by gnostic activity in accordance with the
Thence now, by knowledge collecting materials to be the food of
contemplation, having embraced nobly the magnitude of knowledge, he
advances to the holy recompense of translation hence. For he has heard the
Psalm which says: "Encircle Zion, and encompass it, tell upon its
towers." For it intimates, I think, those who have sublimely embraced
the Word, so as to become lofty towers, and to stand firmly in faith and
Let these statements concerning the Gnostic, containing the germs of
the matter in as brief terms as possible, be made to the Greeks. But let it
be known that if the [mere] believer do rightly one or a second of these
things, yet he will not do so in all nor with the highest knowledge, like
CHAP. XIV.--DESCRIPTION OF THE GNOSTIC FURNISHED BY AN EXPOSITION OF 1 COR.
VI. 1, ETC.
Now, of what I may call the passionlessness which we attribute to the
Gnostic (in which the perfection of the believer, "advancing by love, comes
to a perfect man, to the measure of full stature," by being assimilated
to God, and by becoming truly angelic), many other testimonies from the
Scripture, occur to me to adduce. But I think it better, on account of the
length of the discourse, that such an honour should be devolved on those
who wish to take pains, and leave it to them to elaborate the dogmas by the
selection of Scriptures.
One passage, accordingly, I shall in the briefest terms advert to, so
as not to leave the topic unexplained.
For in the first Epistle to the Corinthians the divine apostle says:
"Dare any of you, having a matter against the other, go to law before the
unrighteous, and not before the saints? Know ye not that the saints shall
judge the world?" and so on.
The section being very long, we shall exhibit the meaning of the
apostle's utterance by employing such of the apostolic expressions as are
most pertinent, and in the briefest language, and in a sort of cursory way,
interpreting the discourse in which he describes the perfection of the
Gnostic. For he does not merely instance the Gnostic as characterized by
suffering wrong rather than do wrong; but he teaches that he is not mindful
of injuries, and does not allow him even to pray against the man who has
done him wrong. For he knows that the Lord expressly enjoined "to pray for
To say, then, that the man who has been injured goes to law before the
unrighteous, is nothing else than to say that he shows a wish to retaliate,
and a desire to injure the second in return, which is also to do wrong
And his saying, that he wishes "some to go to law before the saints,"
points out those who ask by prayer that those who have done wrong should
suffer retaliation for their injustice, and intimates that the second are
better than the former; but they are not yet obedient, if they do not,
having become entirely free of resentment, pray even for their enemies.
It is well, then, for them to receive right dispositions from
repentance, which results in faith. For if the truth seems to get enemies
who entertain bad feeling, yet it is not hostile to any one. "For God makes
His sun to shine on the just and on the unjust," and sent the Lord
Himself to the just and the unjust. And he that earnestly strives to be
assimilated to God, in the exercise Of great absence of resentment,
forgives seventy times seven times, as it were all his life through, and in
all his course in this world (that being indicated by the enumeration of
sevens) shows clemency to each and any one; if any during the whole time of
his life in the flesh do the Gnostic wrong. For he not only deems it right
that the good man should resign his property alone to others, being of the
number of those who have done him wrong; but also wishes that the righteous
man should ask of those judges forgiveness for the offences of those who
have done him wrong. And with reason, if indeed it is only in that which is
external and concerns the body, though it go to the extent of death even,
that those who attempt to wrong him take advantage of him; none of which
truly belong to the Gnostic.
And how shall one "judge" the apostate "angels," who has become himself
an apostate from that forgetfulness of injuries, which is according to the
Gospel? "Why do ye not rather suffer wrong?" he says; "why are ye not
rather defrauded? Yea, ye do wrong and defraud," manifestly by praying
against those who transgress in ignorance, and deprive of the philanthropy
and goodness of God, as far as in you lies, those against whom you pray,
"and these your brethren,"--not meaning those in the faith only, but also
the proselytes. For whether he who now is hostile shall afterwards believe,
we know not as yet. From which the conclusion follows clearly, if all are
not yet brethren to us, they ought to be regarded in that light. And now it
is only the man of knowledge who recognises all men to be the work of one
God, and invested with one image in one nature, although some may be more
turbid than others; and in the creatures he recognises the operation, by
which again he adores the will of God.
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of
God?" He acts unrighteously who retaliates, whether by deed or word, or
by the conception of a wish, which, after the training of the Law, the
"And such were some of you"--such manifestly as those still are whom
you do not forgive; "but ye are washed," not simply as the rest, but
with knowledge; ye have cast off the passions of the soul, in order to
become assimilated, as far as possible, to the goodness of God's providence
by long-suffering, and by forgiveness "towards the just and the unjust,"
casting on them the gleam of benignity in word and deeds, as the sun.
The Gnostic will achieve this either by greatness of mind, or by
imitation of what is better. And that is a third cause. "Forgive, and it
shall be forgiven you;" the commandment, as it were, compelling to
salvation through superabundance of goodness.
"But ye are sanctified." For he who has come to this state is in a
condition to be holy, falling into none of the passions in any way, but as
it were already disembodied and already grown holy without this earth.
"Wherefore," he says, "ye are justified in the name of the Lord." Ye
are made, so to speak, by Him to be righteous as He is, and are blended as
far as possible with the Holy Spirit. For "are not all things lawful to me?
yet I will not be brought under the power of any," so as to do, or
think, or speak aught contrary to the Gospel. "Meats for the belly, and the
belly for meats, which God shall destroy,"--that is, such as think and
live as if they were made for eating, and do not eat that they may live as
a consequence, and apply to knowledge as the primary end. And does he not
say that these are, as it were, the fleshy parts of the holy body? As a
body, the Church of the Lord, the spiritual and holy choir, is
symbolized. Whence those, who are merely called, but do not live in
accordance with the word, are the fleshy parts. "Now" this spiritual
"body," the holy Church, "is not for fornication." Nor are those things
which belong to heathen life to be adopted by apostasy from the Gospel. For
he who conducts himself heathenishly in the Church, whether in deed, or
word, or even in thought, commits fornication with reference to the Church
and his own body. He who in this way "is joined to the harlot," that is, to
conduct contrary to the Covenant becomes another "body," not holy, "and one
flesh," and has a heathenish life and another hope. "But he that is joined
to the Lord in spirit" becomes a spiritual body by a different kind of
Such an one is wholly a son, an holy man, passionless, gnostic,
perfect, formed by the teaching of the Lord; in order that in deed, in
word, and in spirit itself, being brought close to the Lord, he may receive
the mansion that is due to him who has reached manhood thus.
Let the specimen suffice to those who have ears. For it is not required
to unfold the mystery, but only to indicate what is sufficient for those
who are partakers in knowledge to bring it to mind; who also will
comprehend how it was said by the Lord, "Be ye perfect as your father,
perfectly," by forgiving sins, and forgetting injuries, and living in
the habit of passionlessness. For as we call a physician perfect, and a
philosopher perfect, so also, in my view, do we call a Gnostic perfect. But
not one of those points, although of the greatest importance, is assumed in
order to the likeness of God. For we do not say, as the Stoics do most
impiously, that virtue in man and God is the same. Ought we not then to be
perfect, as the Father wills? For it is utterly impossible for any one to
become perfect as God is. Now the Father wishes us to be perfect by living
blamelessly, according to the obedience of the Gospel.
If, then, the statement being elliptical, we understand what is
wanting, in order to complete the section for those who are incapable of
understanding what is left out, we shall both know the will of God, and
shall walk at once piously and magnanimously, as befits the dignity of the
CHAP. XV.--THE OBJECTION TO JOIN THE CHURCH ON ACCOUNT OF THE DIVERSITY OF
Since it comes next to reply to the objections alleged against us by
Greeks and Jews; and since, in some of the questions previously discussed,
the sects also who adhere to other teaching give, their help, it will be
well first to clear away the obstacles before us, and then, prepared thus
for the solution of the difficulties, to advance to the succeeding
First, then, they make this objection to us, saying, that they ought
not to believe on account of the discord of the sects. For the truth is
warped when some teach one set of dogmas, others another.
To whom we say, that among you who are Jews, and among the most famous
of the philosophers among the Greeks, very many sects have sprung up. And
yet you do not say that one ought to hesitate to philosophize or Judaize,
because of the want of agreement of the sects among you between themselves.
And then, that heresies should be sown among the truth, as "tares among the
wheat," was foretold by the Lord; and what was predicted to take place
could not but happen. And the cause of this is, that everything that is
fair is followed by a foul blot. If one, then, violate his engagements, and
go aside from the confession which he makes before us, are we not to stick
to the truth because he has belied his profession? But as the good man must
not prove false or fail to ratify what he has promised, although others
violate their engagements; so also are we bound in no way to transgress the
canon of the Church. And especially do we keep our profession in the
most important points, while they traverse it.
Those, then, are to be believed, who hold firmly to the truth. And we
may broadly make use of this reply, and say to them, that physicians
holding opposite opinions according to their own schools, yet equally in
point of fact treat patients. Does one, then, who is ill in body and
needing treatment, not have recourse to a physician, on account of the
different schools in medicine? No more, then, may he who in soul is sick
and full of idols, make a pretext of the heresies, in reference to the
recovery of health and conversion to God.
Further, it is said that it is on account of "those that are approved
that heresies exist." [The apostle] calls "approved," either those who
in reaching faith apply to the teaching of the Lord with some
discrimination (as those are called skilful money-changers, who
distinguish the spurious coin from the genuine by the false stamp), or
those who have already become approved both in life and knowledge.
For this reason, then, we require greater attention and consideration
in order to investigate how precisely we ought to live, and what is the
true piety. For it is plain that, from the very reason that truth is
difficult and arduous of attainment, questions arise from which spring the
heresies, savouring of self-love and vanity, of those who have not learned
or apprehended truly, but only caught up a mere conceit of knowledge. With
the greater care, therefore, are we to examine the real truth, which alone
has for its object the true God. And the toil is followed by sweet
discovery and reminiscence.
On account of the heresies, therefore, the toil of discovery must be
undertaken; but we must not at all abandon [the truth]. For, on fruit being
set before us, some real and ripe, and some made of wax, as like the real
as possible, we are not to abstain from both on account of the resemblance.
But by the exercise of the apprehension of contemplation, and by reasoning
of the most decisive character, we must distinguish the true from the
And as, while there is one royal highway, there are many others, some
leading to a precipice, some to a rushing river or to a deep sea, no one
will shrink from travelling by reason of the diversity, but will make use
of the safe, and royal, and frequented way; so, though some say this, some
that, concerning the truth, we must not abandon it; but must seek out the
most accurate knowledge respecting it. Since also among garden-grown
vegetables weeds also spring up, are the husbandmen, then, to desist from
Having then from nature abundant means for examining the statements
made, we ought to discover the sequence of the truth. Wherefore also we are
rightly condemned, if we do not assent to what we ought to obey, and do not
distinguish what is hostile, and unseemly, and unnatural, and false, from
what is true, consistent, and seemly, and according to nature. And these
means must be employed in order to attain to the knowledge of the real
This pretext is then, in the case of the Greeks, futile; for those who
are willing may find the truth. But in the case of those who adduce
unreasonable excuses, their condemnation is unanswerable. For whether do
they deny or admit that there is such a thing as demonstration? I am of
opinion that all will make the admission, except those who take away the
senses. There being demonstration, then, it is necessary to condescend to
questions, and to ascertain by way of demonstration by the Scriptures
themselves how the heresies failed, and how in the truth alone and in the
ancient Church is both the exactest knowledge, and the truly best set of I
principles (airesis) .
Now, of those who diverge from the truth, some attempt to deceive
themselves alone, and some also their neighbours. Those, then, who are
called (doxosoFoi) wise in their own opinions, who think
that they have found the truth, but have no true demonstration, deceive
themselves in thinking that they have reached a resting-place. And of whom
there is no inconsiderable multitude, who avoid investigations for fear of
refutations, and shun instructions for fear of condemnation. But those who
deceive those who seek access to them are very astute; who, aware that they
know nothing, yet darken the truth with plausible arguments.
But, in my opinion, the nature of plausible arguments is of one
character, and that of true arguments of another. And we know that it is
necessary that the appellation of the heresies should be expressed in
contradistinction to the truth; from which the Sophists, drawing certain
things for the destruction of men, and burying them in human arts invented
by themselves, glory rather in being at the head of a School than presiding
over the Church?
CHAP. XVI.--SCRIPTURE THE CRITERION BY WHICH TRUTH AND HERESY ARE
But those who are ready to toil in the most excellent pursuits, will
not desist from the search after truth, till they get the demonstration
from the Scriptures themselves.
There are certain criteria common to men, as the senses; and others
that belong to those who have employed their wills and energies in what is
true,--the methods which are pursued by the mind and reason, to distinguish
between true and false propositions.
Now, it is a very great thing to abandon opinion, by taking one's stand
between accurate knowledge and the rash wisdom of opinion, and to know that
he who hopes for everlasting rest knows also that the entrance to it is
toilsome "and strait." And let him who has once received the Gospel, even
in the very hour in which he has come to the knowledge of salvation, "not
turn back, like Lot's wife," as is said; and let him not go back either to
his former life, which adheres to the things of sense, or to heresies. For
they form the character, not knowing the true God. "For he that loveth
father or mother more than Me," the Father and Teacher of the truth, who
regenerates and creates anew, and nourishes the elect soul, "is not worthy
of Me"--He means, to be a son of God and a disciple of God, and at the same
time also to be a friend, and of kindred nature. "For no man who looks
back, and puts his hand to the plough, is fit for the kingdom of God."
But, as appears, many even down to our own time regard Mary, on account
of the birth of her child, as having been in the puerperal state, although
she was not. For some say that, after she brought forth, she was found,
when examined, to be a virgin.
Now such to us are the Scriptures of the Lord, which gave birth to the
truth and continue virgin, in the concealment of the mysteries of the
truth. "And she brought forth, and yet brought not forth," Says the
Scripture; as having conceived of herself, and not from conjunction.
Wherefore the Scriptures have conceived to Gnostics; but the heresies, not
having learned them, dismissed them as not having conceived.
Now all men, having the same judgment, some, following the Word
speaking, frame for themselves proofs; while others, giving themselves up
to pleasures, wrest Scripture, in accordance with their lusts. And the
lover of truth, as I think, needs force of soul. For those who make the
greatest attempts must fail in things of the highest importance; unless,
receiving from the truth itself the rule of the truth, they cleave to the
truth. But such people, in consequence of falling away from the right path,
err in most individual points; as you might expect from not having the
faculty for judging of what is true and false, strictly trained to select
what is essential. For if they had, they would have obeyed the
As, then, if a man should, similarly to those drugged by Circe, become
a beast; so he, who has spurned the ecclesiastical tradition, and darted
off to the opinions of heretical men, has ceased to be a man of God and to
remain faithful to the Lord. But he who has returned from this deception,
on hearing the Scriptures, and turned his life to the truth, is, as it
were, from being a man made a god.
For we have, as the source of teaching, the Lord, both by the prophets,
the Gospel, and the blessed apostles, "in divers manners and at sundry
times," leading from the beginning of knowledge to the end. But if one
should suppose that another origin was required, then no longer truly
could an origin be preserved.
He, then, who of himself believes the Scripture and voice of the Lord,
which by the Lord acts to the benefiting of men, is rightly [regarded]
faithful. Certainly we use it as a criterion in the discovery of things.
What is subjected to criticism is not believed till it is so subjected; so
that what needs criticism cannot be a first principle. Therefore, as is
reasonable, grasping by faith the indemonstrable first principle, and
receiving in abundance, from the first principle itself, demonstrations in
reference to the first principle, we are by the voice of the Lord trained
up to the knowledge of the truth.
For we may not give our adhesion to men on a bare statement by them,
who might equally state the opposite. But if it is not enough merely to
state the opinion, but if what is stated must be confirmed, we do not wait
for the testimony of men, but we establish the matter that is in question
by the voice of the Lord, which is the surest of all demonstrations, or
rather is the only demonstration; in which knowledge those who have merely
tasted the Scriptures are believers; while those who, having advanced
further, and become correct expounders of the truth, are Gnostics. Since
also, in what pertains to life, craftsmen are superior to ordinary people,
and model what is beyond common notions; so, consequently, we also, giving
a complete exhibition of the Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves,
from faith persuade by demonstration.
And if those also who follow heresies venture to avail themselves of
the prophetic Scriptures; in the first place they will not make use of all
the Scriptures, and then they will not quote them entire, nor as the body
and texture of prophecy prescribe. But, selecting ambiguous expressions,
they wrest them to their own opinions, gathering a few expressions here and
there; not looking to the sense, but making use of the mere words. For in
almost all the quotations they make, you will find that they attend to the
names alone, while they alter the meanings; neither knowing, as they
affirm, nor using the quotations they adduce, according to their true
But the truth is not found by changing the meanings (for so people
subvert all true teaching), but in the consideration of what perfectly
belongs to and becomes the Sovereign God, and in establishing each one of
the points demonstrated in the Scriptures again from similar Scriptures.
Neither, then, do they want to turn to the truth, being ashamed to abandon
the claims of self-love; nor are they able to manage their opinions, by
doing violence to the Scriptures. But having first promulgated false dogmas
to men; plainly fighting against almost the whole Scriptures, and
constantly confuted by us who contradict them; for the rest, even now
partly they hold out against admitting the prophetic Scriptures, and partly
disparage us as of a different nature, and incapable of understanding what
is peculiar to them. And sometimes even they deny their own dogmas, when
these are confuted, being ashamed openly to own what in private they glory
in teaching. For this may be seen in all the heresies, when you examine the
iniquities of their dogmas. For when they are overturned by our clearly
showing that they are opposed to the Scriptures, one of two things may
be seen to have been done by those who defend the dogma. For they either
despise the consistency of their own dogmas, or despise the prophecy
itself, or rather their own hope. And they invariably prefer what seems to
them to be more evident to what has been spoken by the Lord through the
prophets and by the Gospel, and, besides, attested and confirmed by the
Seeing, therefore, the danger that they are in (not in respect of one
dogma, but in reference to the maintenance of the heresies) of not
discovering the truth; for while reading the books we have ready at hand,
they despise them as useless, but in their eagerness to surpass common
faith, they have diverged from the truth. For, in consequence of not
learning the mysteries of ecclesiastical knowledge, and not having
capacity for the grandeur of the truth, too indolent to descend to the
bottom of things, reading superficially, they have dismissed the
Scriptures. Elated, then, by vain opinion, they are incessantly
wrangling, and plainly care more to seem than to be philosophers. Not
laying as foundations the necessary first principles of things;
and influenced by human opinions, then making the end to suit them, by
compulsion; on account of being confuted, they spar with those who are
engaged in the prosecution of the true philosophy, and undergo everything,
and, as they say, ply every oar, even going the length of impiety, by
disbelieving the Scriptures, rather than be removed from the honours of
the heresy and the boasted first seat in their churches; on account of
which also they eagerly embrace that convivial couch of honour in the
Agape, falsely so called.
The knowledge of the truth among us from what is already believed,
produces faith in what is not yet believed; which [faith] is, so to
speak, the essence of demonstration. But, as appears, no heresy has at all
ears to hear what is useful, but opened only to what leads to pleasure.
Since also, if one of them would only obey the truth, he would be healed.
Now the cure of self-conceit (as of every ailment) is threefold: the
ascertaining of the cause, and the mode of its removal; and thirdly, the
training of the soul, and the accustoming it to assume a right attitude to
the judgments come to. For, just like a disordered eye, so also the soul
that has been darkened by unnatural dogmas cannot perceive distinctly the
light of truth, but even overlooks what is before it.
They say, then, that in muddy water eels are caught by being blinded.
And just as knavish boys bar out the teacher, so do these shut out the
prophecies from their Church, regarding them with suspicion by reason of
rebuke and admonition. In fact, they stitch together a multitude of lies
and figments, that they may appear acting in accordance with reason in not
admitting the Scriptures. So, then, they are not pious, inasmuch as they
are not pleased with the divine commands, that is, with the Holy Spirit.
And as those almonds are called empty in which the contents are worthless,
not those in which there is nothing; so also we call those heretics empty,
who are destitute of the counsels of God and the traditions of Christ;
bitter, in truth, like the wild almond, their dogmas originating with
themselves, with the exception of such truths as they could not, by reason
of their evidence, discard and conceal.
As, then, in war the soldier must not leave the post which the
commander has assigned him, so neither must we desert the post assigned by
the Word, whom we have received as the guide of knowledge and of life. But
the most have not even inquired, if there is one that we ought to follow,
and who this is, and how lie is to be followed. For as is the Word, such
also must the believer's life be, so as to be able to follow God, who
brings all things to end from the beginning by the right course.
But when one has transgressed against the Word, and thereby against
God; if it is through becoming powerless in consequence of some impression
being suddenly made, he ought to see to have the impressions of reasons at
hand. And if it is that he has become "common," as the Scripture says,
in consequence of being overcome . the habits which formerly had sway by
over him, the habits must be entirely put a stop to, and the soul trained
to oppose them. And if it appears that conflicting dogmas draw some away,
these must be taken out of the way, and recourse is to be had to those who
reconcile dogmas, and subdue by the charm of the Scriptures such of the
untutored as are timid, by explaining the truth by the connection of the
But, as appears, we incline to ideas founded on opinion, though they be
contrary, rather than to the truth. For it is austere and grave. Now, since
there are three states of the soul--ignorance, opinion, knowledge--those
who are in ignorance are the Gentiles, those in knowledge, the true Church,
and those in opinion, the Heretics. Nothing, then, can be more clearly seen
than those, who know, making affirmations about what they know, and the
others respecting what they hold on the strength of opinion, as far as
respects affirmation without proof.
They accordingly despise and laugh at one another. And it happens that
the same thought is held in the highest estimation by some, and by others
condemned for insanity. And, indeed, we have learned that voluptuousness,
which is to be attributed to the Gentiles, is one thing; and wrangling,
which is preferred among the heretical sects, is another; and joy, which is
to be appropriated to the Church, another; and delight, which is to be
assigned to the true Gnostic, another. And as, if one devote himself to
Ischomachus, he will make him a farmer; and to Lampis, a mariner; and to
Charidemus, a military commander; and to Simon, an equestrian; and to
Perdices, a trader; and to Crobytus, a cook; and to Archelaus, a dancer;
and to Homer, a poet; and to Pyrrho, a wrangler; and to Demosthenes, an
orator; and to Chrysippus, a dialectician; and to Aristotle, a naturalist;
and to Plato, a philosopher: so he who listens to the Lord, and follows the
prophecy given by Him, will be formed perfectly in the likeness of the
teacher--made a god going about in flesh.
Accordingly, those fall from this eminence who follow not God whither
He leads. And He leads us in the inspired Scriptures.
Though men's actions are ten thousand in number, the sources of all sin
are but two, ignorance and inability. And both depend on ourselves;
inasmuch as we will not learn, nor, on the other hand, restrain lust. And
of these, the one is that, in consequence of which people do not judge
well, and the other that, in consequence of which they cannot comply with
right judgments. For neither will one who is deluded in his mind be able to
act rightly, though perfectly able to do what he knows; nor, though capable
of judging what is requisite, will he keep himself free of blame, if
destitute of power in action. Consequently, then, there are assigned two
kinds of correction applicable to both kinds of sin: for the one, knowledge
and clear demonstration from the testimony of the Scriptures; and for the
other, the training according to the Word, which is regulated by the
discipline of faith and fear. And both develop into perfect love. For the
end of the Gnostic here is, in my judgment, two-fold,--partly scientific
contemplation, partly action.
Would, then, that these heretics would learn and be set right by these
notes, and turn to the sovereign God! But if, like the deaf serpents, they
listen not to the song called new, though very old, may they be chastised
by God, and undergo paternal admonitions previous to the Judgment, till
they become ashamed and repent, but not rush through headlong unbelief, and
precipitate themselves into judgment.
For there are partial corrections, which are called chastisements,
which many of us who have been in transgression incur, by falling away from
the Lord's people. But as children are chastised by their teacher, or their
father, so are we by Providence. But God does not punish, for punishment is
retaliation for evil. He chastises, however, for good to those who are
chastised, collectively and individually.
I have adduced these things from a wish to avert those, who are eager
to learn, from the liability to fall into heresies, and out of a desire to
stop them from superficial ignorance, or stupidity, or bad disposition, or
whatever it should be called. And in the attempt to persuade and lead to
the truth those who are not entirely incurable, I have made use of these
words. For there are some who cannot bear at all to listen to those who
exhort them to turn to the truth; and they attempt to trifle, pouring out
blasphemies against the truth, claiming for themselves the knowledge of the
greatest things in the universe, without having learned, or inquired, or
laboured, or discovered the consecutive train of ideas,--whom one should
pity rather than hate for such perversity.
But if one is curable, able to bear (like fire or steel) the
outspokenness of the truth, which cuts away and burns their false opinions.
let him lend the ears of the soul. And this will be the case, unless,
through the propensity to sloth, they push truth away, or through the
desire of fame, endeavour to invent novelties. For those are slothful who,
having it in their power to provide themselves with proper proofs for the
divine Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves, select only what
contributes to their own pleasures. And those have a craving for glory who
voluntarily evade, by arguments of a diverse sort, the things delivered by
the blessed apostles and teachers, which are wedded to inspired words;
opposing the divine tradition by human teachings, in order to establish the
heresy. For, in truth, what remained to be said--in ecclesiastical
knowledge I mean--by such men, Marcion, for example, or Prodicus, and such
like, who did not walk in the right way? For they could not have surpassed
their predecessors in wisdom, so as to discover anything in addition to
what had been uttered by them; for they would have been satisfied had they
been able to learn the things laid down before.
Our Gnostic then alone, having grown old in the Scriptures, and
maintaining apostolic and ecclesiastic orthodoxy in doctrines, lives most
correctly in accordance with the Gospel, and discovers the proofs, for
which he may have made search (sent forth as he is by the Lord), from the
law and the prophets. For the life of the Gnostic, in my view, is nothing
but deeds and words corresponding to the tradition of the Lord. But "all
have not knowledge. For I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren,"
says the apostle, "that all were under the cloud, and partook of spiritual
meat and drink;" clearly affirming that all who heard the word did not
take in the magnitude of knowledge in deed and word. Wherefore also he
added: "But with all of them He was not well pleased." Who is this? He who
said, "Why do you call Me Lord, and do not the will of My Father?" That
is the Saviour's teaching, which to us is spiritual food, and drink that
knows no thirsty the water of gnostic life. Further it is said, knowledge
is said "to puff up." To whom we say: Perchance seeming knowledge is said
to puff up, if one suppose the expression means "to be swollen up." But
if, as is rather the case, the expression of the apostle means, "to
entertain great and true sentiments," the difficulty is solved. Following,
then, the Scriptures, let us establish what has been said: "Wisdom," says
Solomon, "has inflated her children." For the Lord did not work conceit by
the particulars of His teaching; but He produces trust in the truth and
expansion of mind, in the knowledge that is communicated by the Scriptures,
and contempt for the things which drag into sin, which is the meaning of
the expression "inflated." It teaches the magnificence of the wisdom
implanted in her children by instruction. Now the apostle says, "I will
know not the speech of those that are puffed up, but the power;" if ye
understand the Scriptures magnanimously (which means truly; for nothing is
greater than truth). For in that lies the power of the children of wisdom
who are puffed up. He says, as it were, I shall know if ye rightly
entertain great thoughts respecting knowledge. "For God," according to
David, "is known in Judea," that is, those that are Israelites according to
knowledge. For Judea is interpreted "Confession." It is, then, rightly said
by the apostle, "This Thou, shall not commit adultery, Thou shall not
steal, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is
comprehended in this word, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."
For we must never, as do those who follow the heresies, adulterate the
truth, or steal the canon of the Church, by gratifying our own lusts and
vanity, by defrauding our neighbours; whom above all it is our duty, in the
exercise of love to them, to teach to adhere to the truth. It is
accordingly expressly said, "Declare among the heathen His statutes," that
they may not be judged, but that those who have previously given ear may be
converted. But those who speak treacherously with their tongues have the
penalties that are on record?
CHAP. XVII.--THE TRADITION OF THE CHURCH PRIOR TO THAT OF THE HERESIES.
Those, then, that adhere to impious words, and dictate them to others,
inasmuch as they do not make a right but a perverse use of the divine
words, neither themselves enter into the kingdom of heaven, nor permit
those whom they have deluded to attain the truth. But not having the key of
entrance, but a false (and as the common phrase expresses it), a
counterfeit key (antikleis), by which they do not enter in
as we enter in, through the tradition of the Lord, by drawing aside the
curtain; but bursting through the side-door, and digging clandestinely
through the wall of the Church, and stepping over the truth, they
constitute themselves the Mystagogues of the soul of the impious.
For that the human assemblies which they held were posterior to the
Catholic Church requires not many words to show.
For the teaching of our Lord at His advent, beginning with Augustus and
Tiberius, was completed in the middle of the times of Tiberius.
And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, ends with Nero.
It was later, in the times of Adrian the king, that those who invented the
heresies arose; and they extended to the age of Antoninus the eider, as,
for instance, Basilides, though he claims (as they boast) for his master,
Glaucias, the interpreter of Peter.
Likewise they allege that Valentinus was a hearer of Theudas. And he
was the pupil of Paul. For Marcion, who arose in the same age with them,
lived as an old man with the younger [heretics]. And after him Simon
heard for a little the preaching of Peter.
Such being the case, it is evident, from the high antiquity and perfect
truth of the Church, that these later heresies, and those yet subsequent to
them in time, were new inventions falsified [from the truth].
From what has been said, then, it is my opinion that the true Church,
that which is really ancient, is one, and that in it those who according to
God's purpose are just, are enrolled. For from the very reason that God
is one, and the Lord one, that which is in the highest degree honourable is
lauded in consequence of its singleness, being an imitation of the one
first principle. In the nature of the One, then, is associated in a joint
heritage the one Church, which they strive to cut asunder into many sects.
Therefore in substance and idea, in origin, in pre-eminence, we say
that the ancient and Catholic Church is alone, collecting as it does
into the unity of the one faith--which results from the peculiar
Testaments, or rather the one Testament in different times by the will of
the one God, through one Lord--those already ordained, whom God
predestinated, knowing before the foundation of the world that they would
But the pre-eminence of the Church, as the principle of union, is, in
its oneness, in this surpassing all things else, and having nothing like or
equal to itself. But of this afterwards.
Of the heresies, some receive their appellation from a [person's] name,
as that which is called after Valentinus, and that after Marcion, and that
after Basilides, although they boast of adducing the opinion of Matthew
[without truth]; for as the teaching, so also the tradition of the apostles
was one. Some take their designation from a place, as the Peratici; some
from a nation, as the [heresy] of the Phrygians; some from an action, as
that of the Encratites; and some from peculiar dogmas, as that of the
Docetae, and that of the Harmatites; and some from suppositions, and from
individuals they have honoured, as those called Cainists, and the Ophians;
and some from nefarious practices and enormities, as those of the Simonians
CHAP. XVIII--THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN CLEAN AND UNCLEAN ANIMALS IN THE LAW
SYMBOLICAL OF THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE CHURCH, AND JEWS, AND HERETICS.
After showing a little peep-hole to those who love to contemplate the
Church from the law of sacrifices respecting clean and unclean animals
(inasmuch as thus the common Jews and the heretics are distinguished
mystically from the divine Church), let us bring the discourse to a close.
For such of the sacrifices as part the hoof, and ruminate, the
Scripture represents as clean and acceptable to God; since the just obtain
access to the Father and to the Son by faith. For this is the stability of
those who part the hoof, those who study the oracles of God night and day,
and ruminate them in the soul's receptacle for instructions; which gnostic
exercise the Law expresses under the figure of the rumination of the clean
animal. But such as have neither the one nor the other of those qualities
it separates as unclean.
Now those that ruminate, but do not part the hoof, indicate the
majority of the Jews, who have indeed the oracles of God, but have not
faith, and the step which, resting on the truth, conveys to the Father by
the Son. Whence also this kind of cattle are apt to slip, not having a
division in the foot, and not resting on the twofold support of faith. For
"no man," it is said, "knoweth the Father, but he to whom the Son shall
And again, those also are likewise unclean that part the hoof, but do
not ruminate. For these point out the heretics, who indeed go upon the
name of the Father and the Son, but are incapable of triturating and
grinding down the clear declaration of the oracles, and who, besides,
perform the works of righteousness coarsely and not with precision, if they
perform them at all. To such the Lord says, "Why will ye call me Lord,
Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
And those that neither part the hoof nor chew the cud are entirely
"But ye Megareans," says Theognis," are neither third nor fourth,
Nor twelfth, neither in reckoning nor in number,"
"but as chaff which the wind drives away from the face of the earth,"
"and as a drop from a vessel."
These points, then, having been formerly thoroughly treated, and the
department of ethics having been sketched summarily in a fragmentary way,
as we promised; and having here and there interspersed the dogmas which are
the germs of true knowledge, so that the discovery of the sacred
traditions may not be easy to any one of the uninitiated, let us proceed to
what we promised.
Now the Miscellanies are not like parts laid out, planted in regular
order for the delight of the eye, but rather like an umbrageous and shaggy
hill, planted with laurel, and ivy, and apples, and olives, and figs; the
planting being purposely a mixture of fruit-bearing and fruitless trees,
since the composition aims at concealment, on account of those that have
the daring to pilfer and steal the ripe fruits; from which, however, the
husbandmen, transplanting shoots and plants, will adorn a beautiful park
and a delightful grove.
The Miscellanies, then, study neither arrangement nor diction; since
there are even cases in which the Greeks on purpose wish that ornate
diction should be absent, and imperceptibly cast in the seed of dogmas, not
according to the truth, rendering such as may read laborious and quick at
discovery. For many and various are the baits for the various kinds of
And now, after this seventh Miscellany of ours, we shall give the
account of what follows in order from another commencement.
THE STROMATA, OR MISCELLANIES.
CHAP. I.--THE OBJECT OF PHILOSOPHICAL AND THEOLOGICAL INQUIRY--THE
DISCOVERY OF TRUTH.
BUT the most ancient of the philosophers were not carried away to
disputing and doubting, much less are we, who are attached to the really
true philosophy, on whom the Scripture enjoins examination and
investigation. For it is the more recent of the Hellenic philosophers who,
by empty and futile love of fame, are led into useless babbling in refuting
and wrangling. But, on the contrary, the Barbarian philosophy, expelling
all contention, said, "Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be
opened unto you; ask, and it shall be given you."
Accordingly, by investigation, the point proposed for inquiry and
answer knocks at the door of truth, according to what appears. And on an
opening being made through the obstacle in the process of investigation,
there results scientific contemplation. To those who thus knock, according
to my view, the subject under investigation is opened.
And to those who thus ask questions, in the Scriptures, there is given
from God (that at which they aim) the gift of the God-given knowledge, by
way of comprehension, through the true illumination of logical
investigation. For it is impossible to find, without having sought; or to
have sought, without having examined; or to have examined, without having
unfolded and opened up the question by interrogation, to produce
distinctness; or again, to have gone through the whole investigation,
without thereafter receiving as the prize the knowledge of the point in
But it belongs to him who has sought, to find; and to him to seek, who
thinks previously that he does not know. Hence drawn by desire to the
discovery of what is good, he seeks thoughtfully, without love of strife or
glory, asking, answering, and besides considering the statements made. For
it is incumbent, in applying ourselves not only to the divine Scriptures,
but also to common notions, to institute investigations, the discovery
ceasing at some useful end.
For another place and crowd await turbulent people, and forensic
sophistries. But it is suitable for him, who is at once a lover and
disciple of the truth, to be pacific even in investigations, advancing by
scientific demonstration, without love of self, but with love of truth, to
CHAP. II.--THE NECESSITY OF PERSPICUOUS DEFINITION.
What better or clearer method, for the commencement of instruction of
this nature, can there be than discussion of the term advanced, so
distinctly, that all who use the same language may follow it? Is the term
for demonstration of such a kind as the word Blityri, which is a mere
sound, signifying nothing? But how is it that neither does the philosopher,
nor the orator,--no more does the judge,--adduce demonstration as a term
that means nothing; nor is any of the contending parties ignorant of the
fact, that the meaning does not exist?
Philosophers, in fact, present demonstration as having a substantial
existence, one in one way, another in another. Therefore, if one would
treat aright of each question, he cannot carry back the discourse to
another more generally admitted fundamental principle than what is admitted
to be signified by the term by all of the same nation and language.
Then, starting from this point, it is necessary to inquire if the
proposition has this signification or not. And next, if it is demonstrated
to have, it is necessary to investigate its nature accurately, of what kind
it is, and whether it ever passes over the class assigned. And if it
suffices not to say, absolutely, only that which one thinks (for one's
opponent may equally allege, on the other side, what he likes); then what
is stated must be confirmed. If the decision of it be carried back to what
is likewise matter of dispute, and the decision of that likewise to another
disputed point, it will go on ad infinitum, and will be incapable of
demonstration. But if the belief of a point that is not admitted be carried
back to one admitted by all, that is to be made the commencement of
instruction. Every term, therefore, advanced for discussion is to be
converted into an expression that is admitted by those that are parties in
the discussion, to form the starting point for instruction, to lead the way
to the discovery of the points under investigation. For example, let it be
the term "sun" that is in question. Now the Stoics say that it is "an
intellectual fire kindled from the waters of the sea." Is not the
definition, consequently, obscurer than the term, requiring another
demonstration to prove if it be true? It is therefore better to say, in the
common and distinct form of speech, "that the brightest of the heavenly
bodies is named the sun." For this expression is more credible and clearer,
and is likewise admitted by all.
CHAP. III.--DEMONSTRATION DEFINED.
Similarly, also, all men will admit that demonstration is discourse,
agreeable to reason, producing belief in points disputed, from points
Now, not only demonstration and belief and knowledge, but foreknowledge
also, are used in a twofold manner. There is that which is scientific and
certain, and that which is merely based on hope.
In strict propriety, then, that is called demonstration which produces
in the souls of learners scientific belief. The other kind is that which
merely leads to opinion. As also, both he that is really a man, possessing
common judgment, and he that is savage and brutal,--each is a man. Thus
also the Comic poet said that "man is graceful, so long as he is man." The
same holds with ox, horse, and dog, according to the goodness or badness of
the animal. For by looking to the perfection of the genus, we come to those
meanings that are strictly proper. For instance, we conceive of a physician
who is deficient in no element of the power of healing, and a Gnostic who
is defective in no element of scientific knowledge.
Now demonstration differs from syllogism; inasmuch as the point
demonstrated is indicative of one thing, being one and identical; as we say
that to be with child is the proof of being no longer a virgin. But what is
apprehended by syllogism, though one thing, follows from several; as, for
example, not one but several proofs are adduced of Pytho having betrayed
the Byzantines, if such was the fact. And to draw a conclusion from what is
admitted is to syllogize; while to draw a conclusion from what is true is
So that there is a compound advantage of demonstration: from its
assuming, for the proof of points in question, true premisses, and from
its drawing the conclusion that follows from them. If the first have no
existence, but the second follow from the first, one has not demonstrated,
but syllogized. For, to draw the proper conclusion from the premisses, is
merely to syllogize. But to have also each of the premisses true, is not
merely to have syllogized, but also to have demonstrated.
And to conclude, as is evident from the word, is to bring to the
conclusion. And in every train of reasoning, the point sought to be
determined is the end, which is also called the conclusion. But no simple
and primary statement is termed a syllogism, although true; but it is
compounded of three such, at the least,--of two as premisses, and one as
Now, either all things require demonstration, or some of them are self-
evident. But if the first, by demanding the demonstration of each
demonstration we shall go on ad infinitum; and so demonstration is
subverted. But if the second, those things which are self-evident will
become the starting points [and fundamental grounds] of demonstration.
In point of fact, the philosophers admit that the first principles of
all things are indemonstrable. So that if there is demonstration at all,
there is an absolute necessity that there be something that is self-
evident, which is called primary and indemonstrable.
Consequently all demonstration is traced up to indemonstrable faith.
It will also turn out that there are other starting points for
demonstrations, after the source which takes its rise in faith,--the things
which appear clearly to sensation and understanding. For the phenomena of
sensation are simple, and incapable of being decompounded; but those of
understanding are simple, rational, and primary. But those produced from
them are compound, but no less clear and reliable, and having more to do
with the reasoning faculty than the first. For therefore the peculiar
native power of reason, which we all have by nature, deals with agreement
and disagreement. If, then, any argument be found to be of such a kind, as
from points already believed to be capable of producing belief in what is
not yet believed, we shall aver that this is the very essence of
Now it is affirmed that the nature of demonstration, as that of belief,
is twofold: that which produces in the souls of the hearers persuasion
merely, and that which produces knowledge.
If, then, one begins with the things which are evident to sensation and
understanding, and then draw the proper conclusion, he truly demonstrates.
But if [he begin] with things which are only probable and not primary, that
is evident neither to sense nor understanding, and if he draw the right
conclusion, he will syllogize indeed, but not produce a scientific
demonstration; but if [he draw] not the right conclusion, he will not
syllogize at all.
Now demonstration differs from analysis. For each one of the points
demonstrated, is demonstrated by means of points that are demonstrated;
those having been previously demonstrated by others; till we get back to
those which are self-evident, or to those evident to sense and to
understanding; which is called Analysis. But demonstration is, when the
point in question reaches us through all the intermediate steps. The man,
then, who practises demonstration, ought to give great attention to the
truth, while he disregards the terms of the premisses, whether you call
them axioms, or premisses, or assumptions. Similarly, also, special
attention must be paid to what suppositions a conclusion is based on; while
he may be quite careless as to whether one choose to term it a conclusive
or syllogistic proposition.
For I assert that these two things must be attended to by the man who
would demonstrate--to assume true premisses, and to draw from them the
legitimate conclusion, which some also call "the inference," as being what
is inferred from the premisses.
Now in each proposition respecting a question there must be different
premisses, related, however, to the proposition laid down; and what is
advanced must be reduced to definition. And this definition must be
admitted by all. But when premisses irrelevant to the proposition to be
established are assumed, it is impossible to arrive at any right result;
the entire proposition--which is also called the question of its nature--
In all questions, then, there is something which is previously known,--
that which being self-evident is believed without demonstration; which must
be made the starting point in their investigation, and the criterion of
CHAP. IV.--TO PREVENT AMBIGUITY, WE MUST BEGIN WITH CLEAR DEFINITION.
For every question is solved from pre-existing knowledge. And the
knowledge pre-existing of each object of investigation is sometimes merely
of the essence, while its functions are unknown (as of stones, and plants,
and animals, of whose operations we are ignorant), or [the knowledge] of
the properties, or powers, or (so to speak) of the qualities inherent in
the objects. And sometimes we may know some one or more of those powers or
properties,--as, for example, the desires and affections of the soul,--and
be ignorant of the essence, and make it the object of investigation. But in
many instances, our understanding having assumed all these, the question
is, in which of the essences do they thus inhere; for it is after forming
conceptions of both--that is, both of essence and operation--in our mind,
that we proceed to the question. And there are also some objects, whose
operations, along with their essences, we know, but are ignorant of their
Such, then, is the method of the discovery [of truth]. For we must
begin with the knowledge of the questions to be discussed. For often the
form of the expression deceives and confuses and disturbs the mind, so that
it is not easy to discover to what class the thing is to be referred; as,
for example, whether the foetus be an animal. For, having a conception of
an animal and a foetus, we inquire if it be the case that the foetus is an
animal; that is, if the substance which is in the foetal state possesses
the power of motion, and of sensation besides. So that the inquiry is
regarding functions and sensations in a substance previously known.
Consequently the man who proposes the question is to be first asked, what
he calls an animal. Especially is this to be done whenever we find the same
term applied to various purposes; and we must examine whether what is
signified by the term is disputed, or admitted by all. For were one to say
that he calls whatever grows and is fed an animal, we shall have again to
ask further, whether he considered plants to be animals; and then, after
declaring himself to this effect, he must show what it is which is in the
foetal state, and is nourished.
For Plato calls plants animals, as partaking of the third species of
life alone, that of appetency. But Aristotle, while he thinks that
plants are possessed of a life of vegetation and nutrition, does not
consider it proper to call them animals; for that alone, which possesses
the other life--that of sensation--he considers warrantable to be called an
animal. The Stoics do not call the power of vegetation, life.
Now, on the man who proposes the question denying that plants are
animals, we shall show that he affirms what contradicts himself. For,
having defined the animal by the fact of its nourishment and growth, but
having asserted that a plant is not an animal, it appears that he says
nothing else than that what is nourished and grows is both an animal and
not an animal.
Let him, then, say what he wants to learn. Is it whether what is in the
womb grows and is nourished, or is it whether it possesses any sensation or
movement by impulse? For, according to Plato, the plant is animate, and an
animal; but, according to Aristotle, not an animal, for it wants sensation,
but is animate. Therefore, according to him, an animal is an animate
sentient being. But according to the Stoics, a plant is neither animate nor
an animal; for an animal is an animate being. If, then, an animal is
animate, and life is sentient nature, it is plain that what is animate is
sentient. If, then, he who has put the question, being again interrogated
if he still calls the animal in the foetal state an animal on account of
its being nourished and growing, he has got his answer.
But were he to say that the question he asks is, whether the foetus is
already sentient, or capable of moving itself in consequence of any
impulse, the investigation of the matter becomes clear, the fallacy in the
name no longer remaining. But if he do not reply to the interrogation, and
will not say what he means, or in respect of what consideration it is that
he applies the term "animal" in propounding the question, but bids us
define it ourselves, let him be noted as disputatious.
But as there are two methods, one by question and answer, and the other
the method of exposition, if he decline the former, let him listen to us,
while we expound all that bears on the problem. Then when we have done, he
may treat of each point in turn. But if he attempt to interrupt the
investigation by putting questions, he plainly does not want to hear.
But if he choose to reply, let him first be asked, To what thing he
applies the name, animal. And when he has answered this, let him be again
asked, what, in his view, the foetus means, whether that which is in the
womb, or things already formed and living; and again, if the foetus means
the seed deposited, or if it is only when members and a shape are formed
that the name of embryos is to be applied. And on his replying to this, it
is proper that the point in hand be reasoned out to a conclusion, in due
order, and taught.
But if he wishes us to speak without him answering, let him hear. Since
you will not say in what sense you allege what you have propounded (for I
would not have thus engaged in a discussion about meanings, but I would now
have looked at the things themselves), know that you have done just as if
you had propounded the question, Whether a dog were an animal? For I might
have rightly said, Of what dog do you speak? For I shall speak of the land
dog and the sea dog, and the constellation in heaven, and of Diogenes too,
and all the other dogs in order. For I could not divine whether you inquire
about all or about some one. What you shall do subsequently is to learn
now, and say distinctly what it is that your question is about. Now if you
are shuffling about names, it is plain to everybody that the name foetus is
neither an animal nor a plant, but a name, and a sound, and a body, and a
being, and anything and everything rather than an animal. And if it is this
that you have propounded, you are answered.
But neither is that which is denoted by the name foetus an animal. But
that is incorporeal, and may be called a thing and a notion, and everything
rather than an animal. The nature of an animal is different. For it was
clearly shown respecting the very point in question, I mean the nature of
the embryo, of what sort it is. The question respecting the meanings
expressed by the name animal is different.
I say, then, if you affirm that an animal is what has the power of
sensation and of moving itself from appetency, that an animal is not simply
what moves through appetency and is possessed of sensation. For it is also
capable of sleeping, or, when the objects of sensation are not present, of
not exercising the power of sensation. But the natural power of appetency
or of sensation is the mark of an animal. For something of this nature is
indicated by these things. First, if the foetus is not capable of sensation
or motion from appetency; which is the point proposed for consideration.
Another point is; if the foetus is capable of ever exercising the power of
sensation or moving through appetency. In which sense no one makes it a
question, since it is evident.
But the question was, whether the embryo is already an animal, or still
a plant. And then the name animal was reduced to definition, for the sake
of perspicuity. But having discovered that it is distinguished from what is
not an animal by sensation and motion from appetency; we again separated
this from its adjuncts; asserting that it was one thing for that to be such
potentially, which is not yet possessed of the power of sensation and
motion, but will some time be so, and another thing to be already so
actually; and in the case of such, it is one thing to exert its powers,
another to be able to exert them, but to be at rest or asleep. And this is
For the embryo is not to be called an animal from the fact that it is
nourished; which is the allegation of those who turn aside from the essence
of the question, and apply their minds to what happens otherwise. But in
the case of all conclusions alleged to be found out, demonstration is
applied in common, which is discourse (lo'gos), establishing one thing from
others. But the grounds from which the point in question is to be
established, must be admitted and known by the learner. And the foundation
of all these is what is evident to sense and to intellect.
Accordingly the primary demonstration is composed of all these. But the
demonstration which, from points already demonstrated thereby, concludes
some other point, is no less reliable than the former. It cannot be termed
primary, because the conclusion is not drawn from primary principles as
The first species, then, of the different kinds of questions, which are
three, has been exhibited--I mean that, in which the essence being known,
some one of its powers or properties is unknown. The second variety of
propositions was that in which we all know the powers and properties, but
do not know the essence; as, for example, in what part of the body is the
principal faculty of the soul.
CHAP.V.--APPLICATION OF DEMONSTRATION TO SCEPTICAL SUSPENSE OF JUDGMENT.
Now the same treatment which applies to demonstration applies also to
the following question. Some, for instance, say that there cannot be
several originating causes for one animal. It is impossible that there can
be several homogeneous originating causes of an animal; but that there
should be several heterogeneous, is not absurd.
Suppose the Pyrrhonian suspense of judgment, as they say, [the idea]
that nothing is certain: it is plain that, beginning with itself, it first
invalidates itself. It either grants that something is true, that you are
not to suspend your judgment on all things; or it persists in saying that
there is nothing true. And it is evident, that first it will not be true.
For it either affirms what is true or it does not affirm what is true. But
if it affirms what is true, it concedes, though unwillingly, that something
is true. And if it does not affirm what is true, it leaves true what it
wished to do away with. For, in so far as the scepticism which demolishes
is proved false, in so far the positions which are being demolished, are
proved true; like the dream which says that all dreams are false. For in
confuting itself, it is confirmatory of the others.
And, in fine, if it is true, it will make a beginning with itself, and
not be scepticism of anything else but of itself first. Then if [such a
man] apprehends that he is a man, or that he is sceptical, it is evident
that he is not sceptical. And how shall he reply to the interrogation?
For he is evidently no sceptic in respect to this. Nay, he affirms even
that he does doubt.
And if we must be persuaded to suspend our judgment in regard to
everything, we shall first suspend our judgment in regard to our suspense
of judgment itself, whether we are to credit it or not.
And if this position is true, that we do not know what is true, then
absolutely nothing is allowed to be true by it. But if he will say that
even this is questionable, whether we know what is true; by this very
statement he grants that truth is knowable, in the very act of appearing to
establish the doubt respecting it.
But if a philosophical sect is a leaning toward dogmas, or, according
to some, a leaning to a number of dogmas which have consistency with one
another and with phenomena, tending to a right life; and dogma is a logical
conception, and conception is a state and assent of the mind: not merely
sceptics, but every one who dogmatizes is accustomed in certain things to
suspend his judgment, either through want of strength of mind, or want of
clearness in the things, or equal force in the reasons.
CHAP. VI.--DEFINITIONS, GENERA, AND SPECIES.
The introductions and sources of questions are about these points and
But before definitions, and demonstrations, and divisions, it must be
propounded in what ways the question is stated; and equivocal terms are to
be treated; and synomyms stated accurately according to their
Then it is to be inquired whether the proposition belongs to those
points, which are considered in relation to others, or is taken by itself.
Further, If it is, what it is, what happens to it; or thus, also, if it is,
what it is, why it is. And to the consideration of these points, the
knowledge of Particulars and Universals, and the Antecedents and the
Differences, and their divisions, contribute.
Now, Induction aims at generalization and definition; and the divisions
are the species, and what a thing is, and the individual. The contemplation
of the How adduces the assumption of what is peculiar; and doubts bring the
particular differences and the demonstrations, and otherwise augment the
speculation and its consequences; and the result of the whole is scientific
knowledge and truth.
Again, the summation resulting from Division becomes Definition. For
Definition is adopted before division and after: before, when it is
admitted or stated; after, when it is demonstrated. And by Sensation the
Universal is summed up from the Particular. For the starting point of
Induction is Sensation; and the end is the Universal.
Induction, accordingly, shows not what a thing is, but that it is, or
is not. Division shows what it is; and Definition similarly with Division
teaches the essence and what a thing is, but not if it is; while
Demonstration explains the three points, if it is, what it is, and why it
There are also Definitions which contain the Cause. And since it may be
known when we see, when we see the Cause; and Causes are four--the matter,
the moving power, the species, the end; Definition will be fourfold.
Accordingly we must first take the genus, in which are the points that
are nearest those above; and after this the next difference. And the
succession of differences, when cut and divided, completes the "What it
is." There is no necessity for expressing all the differences of each
thing, but those which form the species.
Geometrical analysis and synthesis are similar to logical division and
definition; and by division we get back to what is simple and more
elementary. We divide, therefore, the genus of what is proposed for
consideration into the species contained in it; as, in the case of man, we
divide animal, which is the genus, into the species that appear in it, the
mortal, and the immortal. And thus, by continually dividing those genera
that seem to be compound into the simpler species, we arrive at the point
which is the subject of investigation, and which is incapable of further
For, after dividing "the animal" into mortal and immortal, then into
terrestrial and aquatic; and the terrestrial again into those who fly and
those who walk; and so dividing the species which is nearest to what is
sought, which also contains what is sought, we arrive by division at the
simplest species, which contains nothing else, but what is sought alone.
For again we divide that which walks into rational and irrational; and
then selecting from the species, apprehended by division, those next to
man, and combining them into one formula, we state the definition of a man,
who is an animal, mortal, terrestrial, walking, rational.
Whence Division furnishes the class of matter, seeking for the
definition the simplicity of the name; and the definition of the artisan
and maker, by composition and construction, presents the knowledge of the
thing as it is; not of those things of which we have general notions.
To these notions we say that explanatory expressions belong. For to
these notions, also, divisions are applicable.
Now one Division divides that which is divided into species, as a
genus; and another into parts, as a whole; and another into accidents.
The division, then, of a whole into the parts, is, for the most part,
conceived with reference to magnitude; that into the accidents can never be
entirely explicated, if, necessarily, essence is inherent in each of the
Whence both these divisions are to be rejected, and only the division
of the genus into species is approved, by which both the identity that is
in the genus is characterized, and the diversity which subsists in the
The species is always contemplated in a part. On the other hand,
however, if a thing is part of another, it will not be also a species. For
the hand is a part of a man, but it is not a species. And the genus exists
in the species. For [the genus] is both in man and the ox. But the whole is
not in the parts. For the man is not in his feet. Wherefore also the
species is more important than the part; and whatever things are predicated
of the genus will be all predicated of the species.
It is best, then, to divide the genus into two, if not into three
species. The species then being divided more generically, are characterized
by sameness and difference. And then being divided, they are chacterized by
the points generically indicated.
For each of the species is either an essence; as when we say, Some
substances are corporeal and some incorporeal; or how much, or what
relation, or where, or when, or doing, or suffering.
One, therefore, will give the definition of whatever he possesses the
knowledge of; as one can by no means be acquainted with that which he
cannot embrace and define in speech. And in consequence of ignorance of the
definition, the result is, that many disputes and deceptions arise. For if
he that knows the thing has the knowledge of it in his mind, and can
explain by words what he conceives; and if the explanation of the thought
is definition; then he that knows the thing must of necessity be able also
to give the definition.
Now in definitions, difference is assumed, which, in the definition,
occupies the place of sign. The faculty of laughing, accordingly, being
added to the definition of man, makes the whole--a rational, mortal,
terrestrial, walking, laughing animal. For the things added by way of
difference to the definition are the signs of the properties of things; but
do not show the nature of the things themselves. Now they say that the
difference is the assigning of what is peculiar; and as that which has the
difference differs from all the rest, that which belongs to it alone, and
is predicated conversely of the thing, must in definitions be assumed by
the first genus as principal and fundamental.
Accordingly, in the larger definitions the number of the species that
are discovered are in the ten Categories; and in the least, the principal
points of the nearest species being taken, mark the essence and nature of
the thing. But the least consists of three, the genus and two essentially
necessary species. And this is done for the sake of brevity.
We say, then, Man is the laughing animal. And we must assume that
which pre-eminently happens to what is defined, or its peculiar virtue, or
its peculiar function, and the like.
Accordingly, while the definition is explanatory of the essence of the
thing, it is incapable of accurately comprehending its nature. By means of
the principal species, the definition makes an exposition of the essence,
and almost has the essence in the quality.
CHAP. VII.--ON THE CAUSES OF DOUBT OR ASSENT.
The causes productive of scepticism are two things principally. One is
the changefulness and instability of the human mind, whose nature it is to
generate dissent, either that of one with another, or that of people with
themselves. And the second is the discrepancy which is in things; which, as
to be expected, is calculated to be productive of scepticism.
For, being unable either to believe in all views, on account of their
conflicting nature; or to disbelieve all, because that which says that all
are untrustworthy is included in the number of those that are so; or to
believe some and disbelieve others on account of the equipoise, we are led
But among the principal causes of scepticism is the instability of the
mind, which is productive of dissent. And dissent is the proximate cause of
doubt. Whence life is full of tribunals and councils; and, in fine, of
selection in what is said to be good and bad; which are the signs of a mind
in doubt, and halting through feebleness on account of conflicting matters.
And there are libraries full of books,' and compilations and treatises of
those who differ in dogmas, and are confident that they themselves know the
truth that there is in things.
CHAP. VIII.--THE METHOD OF CLASSIFYING THINGS AND NAMES.
In language there are three things :--Names, which are primarily the
symbols of conceptions, and by consequence also of subjects. Second, there
are Conceptions, which are the likenesses and impressions of the subjects.
Whence in all, the conceptions are the same; in consequence of the same
impression being produced by the subjects in all. But the names are not so,
on account of the difference of languages. And thirdly, the Subject-matters
by which the Conceptions are impressed in us.
The names are reduced by grammar into the twenty-four general elements;
for the elements must be determined. For of Particulars there is no
scientific knowledge, seeing they are infinite. But it is the property of
science to rest on general and defined principles. Whence also Particulars
are resolved into Universals. And philosophic research is occupied with
Conceptions and Real subjects. But since of these the Particulars are
infinite, some elements have been found, under which every subject of
investigation is brought; and if it be shown to enter into any one or more
of the elements, we prove it to exist; but if it escape them all, that it
does not exist.
Of things stated, some are stated without connection; as, for example,
"man" and "runs," and whatever does not complete a sentence, which is
either true or false. And of things stated in connection, some point out
"essence," some "quality," some "quantity," some "relation,'' some "where,"
some "when," some "position," some "possession," some "action," some
"suffering," which we call the elements of material things after the first
principles. For these are capable of being contemplated by reason.
But immaterial things are capable of being apprehended by the mind
alone, by primary application.
And of those things that are classed under the ten Categories, some are
predicated by themselves (as the nine Categories), and others in relation
And, again, of the things contained under these ten Categories, some
are Univocal, as ox and man, as far as each is an animal. For those are
Univocal terms, to both of which belongs the common name, animal; and the
same principle, that is definition, that is animate essence. And Heteronyms
are those which relate to the same subject under different names, as ascent
or descent; for the way is the same whether upwards or downwards. And the
other species of Heteronyms, as horse and black, are those which have a
different name and definition from each other, and do not possess the same
subject. But they are to be called different, not Heteronyms. And Polyonyms
are those which have the same definition, but a different name, as, hanger,
sword, scimitar. And Paronyms are those which are named from something
different, as "manly" from "manliness."
Equivocal terms have the same name, but not the same definition, as
man--both the animal and the picture. Of Equivocal terms, some receive
their Equivocal name fortuitously, as Ajax, the Locrian, and the
Salaminian; and some from intention; and of these, some from resemblance,
as man both the living and the painted; and some from analogy, as the foot
of Mount Ida, and our foot, because they are beneath; some from action, as
the foot of a vessel, by which the vessel soils, and our foot, by which we
move. Equivocal terms are designated from the same and to the same; as the
book and scalpel are called surgical, both from the surgeon who uses them
and with reference to the surgical matter itself.
CHAP. IX.--ON THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF CAUSE.
Of Causes, some are Procatarctic and some Synectic, some Co-operating,
some Causes sine qua non.
Those that afford the occasion of the origin of anything first, are
Procatarctic; as beauty is the cause of love to the licentious; for when
seen by them, it alone produces the amorous inclinanation, but not
Causes are Synectic (which are also univocally perfect of themselves)
whenever a cause is capable of producing the effect of itself,
Now all the causes may be shown in order in the case of the learner.
The father is the Pro-catarctic cause of learning, the teacher the.
Synectic, and the nature of the learner the cooperating cause, and time
holds the relation of the Cause sine qua non.
Now that is properly called a cause which is capable of effecting
anything actively; since we say that steel is capable of cutting, not
merely while cutting, but also while not cutting. Thus, then, the
capability of causing (to` parektiko'n) signifies both; both that which is
now acting, and that which is not yet acting, but which possesses the power
Some, then, say that causes are properties of bodies; and others of
incorporeal substances; others say that the body is properly speaking
cause, and that what is incorporeal is so only catachrestically, and a
quasi-cause. Others, again, reverse matters, saying that corporeal
substances are properly causes, and bodies are so improperly; as, for
example, that cutting, which is an action, is incorporeal, and is the cause
of cutting which is an action and incorporeal, and, in the case of bodies,
of being cut,--as in the case of the sword and what is cut [by it].
The cause of things is predicated in a threefold manner. One, What the
cause is, as the statuary; a second, Of what it is the cause of becoming, a
statue; and a third, To what it is the cause, as, for example, the
material: for he is the cause to the brass of becoming a statue. The being
produced, and the being cut, which are causes to what they belong, being
actions, are incorporeal.
According to which principle, causes belong to the class of predicates
(kathgorhma'twn), or, as others say, of dicta (lektw^n) (for Cleanthes and
Archedemus call predicates dicta); or rather, some causes will be assigned
to the class of predicates, as that which is cut, whose case is to be cut;
and some to that of axioms,--as, for example, that of a ship being made,
whose case again is, that a ship is constructing. Now Aristotle denominates
the name of such things as a house, a ship, burning, cutting, an
appellative. But the case is allowed to be incorporeal. Therefore that
sophism is solved thus: What you say passes through your mouth. Which is
true. You name a house. Therefore a house passes through your mouth. Which
is false. For we do not speak the house, which is a body, but the case, in
which the house is, which is incorporeal.
And we say that the house-builder builds the house, in reference to
that which is to be produced. So we say that the cloak is woven; for that
which makes is the indication of the operation. That which makes is not the
attribute of one, and the cause that of another, but of the same, both in
the case of the cloak and of the house. For, in as far as one is the cause
of anything being produced, in so far is he also the maker of it.
Consequently, the cause, and that which makes, and that through which (di'
ho'), are the same. Now, if anything is "a cause" and "that which effects,"
it is certainly also "that through which." But if a thing is "that through
which," it does not by any means follow that it is also "the cause." Many
things, for instance, concur in one result, through which the end is
reached; but all are not causes. For Medea would not have killed her
children, had she not been enraged. Nor would she have been enraged, had
she not been jealous. Nor would she have been this, if she had not loved.
Nor would she have loved, had not Jason sailed to Colchi. Nor would this
have taken place, had the Argo not been built. Nor would this have taken
place, had not the timbers been cut from Pelion. For though in all these
things there is the case of "that through which," they are not all "causes"
of the murder of the children, but only Medea was the cause. Wherefore,
that which does not hinder does not act. Wherefore, that which does not
hinder is not a cause, but that which hinders is. For it is in acting and
doing something that the cause is conceived:
Besides, what does not hinder is separated from what takes place; but
the cause is related to the event. That, therefore, which does not hinder
cannot be a cause. Wherefore, then, it is accomplished, because that which
can hinder is not present. Causation is then predicated in four ways: The
efficient cause, as the statuary; and the material, as the brass; and the
form, as the character; and the end, as the honour of the Gymnasiarch.
The relation of the cause sine qua non is held by the brass in
reference to the production of the statue; and likewise it is a [true]
cause. For everything without which the effect is incapable of being
produced, is of necessity a cause; but a cause not absolutely. For the
cause sine qua non is not Synectic, but Co-operative. And everything that
acts produces the effect, in conjunction with the aptitude of that which is
acted on. For the cause disposes. But each thing is affected according to
its natural constitution; the aptitude being causative, and occupying the
place of causes sine qua non. Accordingly, the cause is inefficacious
without the aptitude; and is not a cause, but a co-efficient. For all
causation is conceived in action. Now the earth could not make itself, so
that it could not be the cause of itself. And it were ridiculous to say
that the fire was not the cause of the burning, but the logs,--or the sword
of the cutting, but the flesh,--or the strength of the antagonist the
cause of the athlete being vanquished, but his own weakness.
The Synectic cause does not require time. For the cautery produces pain
at the instant of its application to the flesh. Of Procatarctic causes,
some require time till the effect be produced, and others do not require
it, as the case of fracture.
Are not these called independent of time, not by way of privation, but
of diminution, as that which is sudden, not that which has taken place
Every cause, apprehended by the mind as a cause, is occupied with
something, and is conceived in relation to something; that is, some effect,
as the sword for cutting; and to some object, as possessing an aptitude, as
the fire to the wood. For it will not burn steel. The cause belongs to the
things which have relation to something. For it is conceived in its
relation to another thing. So that we apply our minds to the two, that we
may conceive the cause as a cause.
The same relation holds with the creator, and maker, and father. A
thing is not the cause of itself. Nor is one his own father. For so the
first would become the second. Now the cause acts and affects. That which
is produced by the cause is acted on and is affected. But the same thing
taken by itself cannot both act and be affected, nor can one be son and
father. And otherwise the cause precedes in being what is done by it, as
the sword, the cutting. And the same thing cannot precede at the same
instant as to matter, as it is a cause, and at the same time, also, be
after and posterior as the effect of a cause.
Now being differs from becoming, as the cause from the effect, the
father from the son. For the same thing cannot both be and become at the
same instant; and consequently it is not the cause of itself. Things are
not causes of one another, but causes to each other. For the splenetic
affection preceding is not the cause of fever, but of the occurrence of
fever; and the fever which precedes is not the cause of spleen, but of the
Thus also the virtues are causes to each other, because on account of
their mutual correspondence they cannot be separated. And the stones in the
arch are causes of its continuing in this category, but are not the causes
of one another. And the teacher and the learner are to one another causes
of progressing as respects the predicate.
And mutual and reciprocal causes are predicated, some of the same
things, as the merchant and the retailer are causes of gain; and sometimes
one of one thing and others of another, as the sword and the flesh; for the
one is the cause to the flesh of being cut, and the flesh to the sword of
cutting. [It is well said,] "An eye for an eye, life for life." For he who
has wounded another mortally, is the cause to him of death, or of the
occurrence of death. But on being mortally wounded by him in turn, he has
had him as a cause in turn, not in respect of being a cause to him, but in
another respect. For he becomes the cause of death to him, not that it was
death returned the mortal stroke, but the wounded man himself. So that he
was the cause of one thing, and had another cause. And he who has done
wrong becomes the cause to another, to him who has been wronged. But the
law which enjoins punishment to be inflicted is the cause not of injury,
but to the one of retribution, to the other of discipline. So that the
things which are causes, are not causes to each other as causes.
It is still asked, if many things in conjunction become many causes of
one thing. For the men who pull together are the causes of the ship being
drawn down; but along with others, unless what is a joint cause be a cause.
Others say, if there are many causes, each by itself becomes the cause
of one thing. For instance, the virtues, which are many, are causes of
happiness, which is one; and of warmth and pain, similarly, the causes are
many. Are not, then, the many virtues one in power, and the sources of
warmth and of pain so, also? and does not the multitude of the virtues,
being one in kind, become the cause of the one result, happiness ?
But, in truth, Procatarctic causes are more than one both generically
and specifically; as, for example, cold, weakness, fatigue, dyspepsia,
drunkenness, generically, of any disease; and specifically, of fever. But
Synectic causes are so, generically alone, and not also specifically.
For of pleasant odour, which is one thing genetically, there are many
specific causes, as frankincense, rose, crocus, styrax, myrrh, ointment.
For the rose has not the same kind of sweet fragrance as myrrh.
And the same thing becomes the cause of contrary effects; sometimes
through the magnitude of the cause and its power, and sometimes in
consequence of the susceptibility of that on which it acts. According to
the nature of the force, the same string, according to its tension or
relaxation, gives a shrill or deep sound. And honey is sweet to those who
are well, and bitter to those who are in fever, according to the state of
susceptibility of those who are affected. And one and the same wine
inclines some to rage, and others to merriment. And the same sun melts wax
and hardens clay.
Further, of causes, some are apparent; others are grasped by a process
of reasoning; others are occult; others are inferred analogically.
And of causes that are occult, some are occult temporarily, being
hidden at one time, and at another again seen clearly; and some are occult
by nature, and capable of becoming at no time visible. And of those who are
so by nature, some are capable of being apprehended; and these some would
not call occult, being apprehended by analogy, through the medium of signs,
as, for example, the symmetry of the passages of the senses, which are
contemplated by reason. And some are not capable of being apprehended;
which cannot in any mode fall under apprehension; which are by their very
Now some are Procatarctic, some Synectic, some Joint-causes, some Co-
operating causes. And there are some according to nature, some beyond
nature. And there are some of disease and by accident, some of sensations,
some of the greatness of these, some of times and of seasons.
Procatarctic causes being removed, the effect remains. But a Synectic
cause is that, which being present, the effect remains, and being removed,
the effect is removed.
The Synectic is also called by the synonymous expression "perfect in
itself." Since it is of itself sufficient to produce the effect.
And if the cause manifests an operation sufficient in itself, the co-
operating cause indicates assistance and service along with the other. If,
accordingly, it effects nothing, it will not be called even a co-operating
cause; and if it does effect something, it is wholly the cause of this,
that is, of what is produced by it. That is, then, a co-operating cause,
which being present, the effect was produced--the visible visibly, and the
The Joint-cause belongs also to the genus of causes, as a fellow-
soldier is a soldier, and as a fellow-youth is a youth.
The Co-operating cause further aids the Synectic, in the way of
intensifying what is produced by it. But the Joint-cause does not fall
under the same notion. For a thing may be a Joint-cause, though it be not a
Synectic cause. For the Joint-cause is conceived in conjunction with
another, which is not capable of producing the effect by itself, being a
cause along with a cause. And the Co-operating cause differs from the
Joint-cause in this particular, that the Joint-cause produces the effect in
that which by itself does not act. But the Co-operating cause, while
effecting nothing by itself, yet by its accession to that which acts by
itself, co-operates with it, in order to the production of the effect in
the intensest degree. But especially is that which becomes co-operating
from being Procatarctic, effective in intensifying the force of the
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published
by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland beginning in
1867. (ANF 2, Roberts and Donaldson.) The original digital version was by
The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-