The Refutation of All Heresies
Hippolytus of Rome
The following are the contents of the seventh book of the Refutation of all Heresies:—
What the opinion of Basilides is, and that, being struck with the doctrines of Aristotle, he out of these framed his heresy.
And what are the statements of Saturnilus, who flourished much about the time of Basilides.
And how Menander advanced the assertion that the world was made by angels.
What is the folly of Marcion, and that his tenet is not new, nor (taken) out of the Holy Scriptures, but that he obtains it from Empedocles.
How Carpocrates acts sillily, in himself also alleging that existing things were made by angels.
That Cerinthus, in no wise indebted to the Scriptures, formed his opinion (not out of them), but from the tenets of the Egyptians.
What are the opinions propounded by the Ebionaeans, and that they in preference adhere to Jewish customs.
How Theodotus has been a victim of error, deriving contributions to his system partly from the Ebionaeans, (partly from Cerinthus.)
And what were the opinions of Cerdon, who both enunciated the doctrines of Empedocles, and who wickedly induced Marcion to step forward.
And how Lucian, when he had become a disciple of Marcion, having divested himself of all shame, blasphemed God from time to time.
And Apelles also, having become a disciple of this (heretic), was not in the habit of advancing the same opinions with his preceptor; but being actuated (in the formation of his system) from the tenets of natural philosophers, assumed the substance of the universe as the fundamental principle of things.
The pupils of these men, when they perceive the doctrines of the heretics to be like unto the ocean when tossed into waves by violence of the winds, ought to sail past in quest of the tranquil haven. For a sea of this description is both infested with wild beasts and difficult of navigation, like, as we may say, the Sicilian (Sea), in which the legend reports were Cyclops, and Charybdis, and Scylla, and the rock of the Sirens. Now, the poets of the Greeks allege that Ulysses sailed through (this channel), adroitly using (to his own purpose) the terribleness of these strange monsters. For the savage cruelty (in the aspect) of these towards those who were sailing through was remarkable. The Sirens, however, singing sweetly and harmoniously, beguiled the voyagers, luring, by reason of their melodious voice, those who heard it, to steer their vessels towards (the promontory). The (poets) report that Ulysses, on ascertaining this, smeared with wax the ears of his companions, and, lashing himself to the mast, sailed, free of danger, past the Sirens, hearing their chant distinctly. And my advice to my readers is to adopt a similar expedient, viz., either on account of their infirmity to smear their ears with wax, and sail (straight on) through the tenets of the heretics, not even listening to (doctrines) that are easily capable of enticing them into pleasure, like the luscious lay of the Sirens, or, by binding one’s self to the Cross of Christ, (and) hearkening with fidelity (to His words), not to be distracted, inasmuch as he has reposed his trust in Him to whom ere this he has been firmly knit, and (I admonish that man) to continue steadfastly (in this faith).
Since, therefore, in the six books preceding this, we have explained previous (heretical opinions), it now seems proper not to be silent respecting the (doctrines) of Basilides, which are the tenets of Aristotle the Stagyrite, not (those) of Christ. But even though on a former occasion the opinions propounded by Aristotle have been elucidated, we shall not even now scruple to set them down beforehand in a sort of synopsis, for the purpose of enabling my readers, by means of a nearer comparison of the two systems, to perceive with facility that the doctrines advanced by Basilides are (in reality) the clever quibbles of Aristotle.
Aristotle, then, makes a threefold division of substance. For one portion of it is a certain genus, and another a certain species, as that (philosopher) expresses it, and a third a certain individual. What is individual, however, (is so) not through any minuteness of body, but because by nature it cannot admit of any division whatsoever. The genus, on the other hand, is a sort of aggregate, made up of many and different germs. And from this genus, just as (from) a certain heap, all the species of existent things derive their distinctions. And the genus constitutes a competent cause for (the production of) all generated entities. In order, however, that the foregoing statement may be clear, I shall prove (my position) through an example. And by means of this it will be possible for us to retrace our steps over the entire speculation of the Peripatetic (sage).
We affirm the existence of animal absolutely, not some animal. And this animal is neither ox, nor horse, nor man, nor god; nor is it significant of any of these at all, but is animal absolutely. From this animal the species of all particular animals derive their subsistence. And this animality, itself the summum genus, constitutes (the originating principle) for all animals produced in those (particular) species, and (yet is) not (itself any one) of the things generated. For man is an animal deriving the principle (of existence) from that animality, and horse is an animal deriving the principle of existence from that animality. The horse, and ox, and dog, and each of the rest of the animals, derive the principle (of existence) from the absolute animal, while animality itself is not any of these.
If, however, this animality is not any of these (species), the subsistence, according to Aristotle, of the things that are generated, derived its reality from non-existent entities. For animality, from whence these singly have been derived, is not any one (of them); and though it is not any one of them, it has yet become some one originating principle of existing things. But who it is that has established this substance as an originating cause of what is subsequently produced, we shall declare when we arrive at the proper place for entertaining a discussion of this sort.
Since, however, as I have stated, substance is threefold, viz., genus, species, (and) individual; and (since) we have set down animality as being the genus, and man the species, as being already distinct from the majority of animals, but notwithstanding still to be identified (with animals of his own kind), inasmuch as not being yet molded into a species of realized substance, — (therefore it is, that) when I impart form under a name to a man derived from the genus, I style him Socrates or Diogenes, or some one of the many denominations (in use). And since (in this way, I repeat,) I comprehend under a name the man who constitutes a species that is generated from the genus, I denominate a substance of this description individual. For genus has been divided into species, and species into individual. But (as regards) the individual, since it has been comprehended under a name, it is not possible that, according to its own nature, it could be divided into anything else, as we have divided each of the fore-mentioned (genus and species).
Aristotle primarily, and especially, and preeminently entitles this — substance, inasmuch as it cannot either be predicated of any Subject, or exist in a Subject. He, however, predicates of the Subject, just as with the genus, what I said constituted animality, (and which is) predicated by means of a common name of all particular animals, such as ox, horse, and the rest that are placed under (this genus). For it is true to say that man is an animal, and horse an animal, and that ox is an animal, and each of the rest. Now the meaning of the expression “predicated of a Subject” is this, that inasmuch as it is one, it can be predicated in like manner of many (particulars), even though these happen to be diversified in species. For neither does horse nor ox differ from man so far forth as he is an animal, for the definition of animal is said to suit all animals alike. For what is an animal? If we define it, a general definition will comprehend all animals. For animal is an animated Substance, endued with Sensation. Such are ox, man, horse, and each of the rest (of the animal kingdom). But the meaning of the expression “in a Subject” is this, that what is inherent in anything, not as a part, it is impossible should exist separately from that in which it is. But this constitutes each of the accidents (resident) in Substance, and is what is termed Quality. Now, according to this, we say that certain persons are of such a quality; for instance, white, gray, black, just, unjust, temperate, and other (characteristics) similar to these. But it is impossible for any one of these to subsist itself by itself; but it must inhere in something else. If, however, neither animal which I predicate of all individual animals, nor accidents which are discoverable in all things of which they are nonessential qualities, can subsist themselves by themselves, and (yet if) individuals are formed out of these, (it follows, therefore, that) the triply divided Substance, which is not made up out of other things, consists of nonentities. If, then, what is primarily, and pre-eminently, and particularly denominated Substance consists of these, it derives existence from nonentities, according to Aristotle.
But concerning Substance, the statements now made will suffice. But not only is Substance denominated genus, species, (and) individual, but also matter, and form, and privation. There is, however, (as regards the substance,) in these no difference, even though the division be allowed to stand. Now, inasmuch as Substance is of this description, the arrangement of the world has taken place according to some such plan as the following. The world is divided, according to Aristotle, into very numerous and diversified parts. Now the portion of the world which extends from the earth to the moon is devoid of foresight, guideless, and is under the sway of that nature alone which belongs to itself. But another (part of the world which lies) beyond the moon, and extends to the surface of heaven, is arranged in the midst of all order and foresight and governance. Now, the (celestial) superficies constitutes a certain fifth substance, and is remote from all those natural elements out of which the cosmical system derives consistence. And this is a certain fifth Substance, according to Aristotle, — as it were, a certain super-mundane essence. And (this essence) has become (a logical necessity) in his system, in order to accord with the (Peripatetic) division of the world. And (the topic of this fifth nature) constitutes a distinct investigation in philosophy. For there is extant a certain disquisition, styled A Lecture on Physical (Phenomena), in which he has elaborately treated concerning the operations which are conducted by nature and not providence, (in the quarter of space extending) from the earth as far as the moon. And there is also extant by him a certain other peculiar treatise on the principles of things (in the region) beyond the moon, and it bears the following inscription: Metaphysics. And another peculiar dissertation has been (written) by him, entitled Concerning a Fifth Substance, and in this work Aristotle unfolds his theological opinions.
There exists some such division of the universe as we have now attempted to delineate in outline, and (corresponding with it is the division) of the Aristotelian philosophy. His work, however, (styled) Concerning the Soul, is obscure. For in the entire three books (where he treats of this subject) it is not possible to say clearly what is Aristotle’s opinion concerning the soul. For, as regards the definition which he furnishes of soul, it is easy (enough) to declare this; but what it is that is signified by the definition is difficult to discover. For soul, he says, is an entelecheia of a natural organic body; (but to explain) what this is at all, would require a very great number of arguments and a lengthened investigation. As regards, however, the Deity, the Originator of all those glorious objects in creation, (the nature of) this (First Cause) — even to one conducting his speculations by a more prolonged inquiry than that concerning (the soul) — is more difficult to know than the soul itself. The definition, however, which Aristotle furnishes of the Deity is, I admit, not difficult to ascertain, but it is impossible to comprehend the meaning of it. For, he says, (the Deity) is a “conception of conception;” but this is altogether a non-existent (entity). The world, however, is incorruptible (and) eternal, according to Aristotle. For it has in itself nothing faulty, inasmuch as it is directed by Providence and Nature. And Aristotle has laid down doctrines not only concerning Nature and a cosmical system, and Providence, and God, but he has written (more than this); for there is extant by him likewise a certain treatise on ethical subjects, and these he inscribes Books of Ethics. But throughout these he aims at rendering the habits of his hearers excellent from being worthless. When, therefore, Basilides has been discovered, not in spirit alone, but also in the actual expressions and names, transferring the tenets of Aristotle into our evangelical and saving doctrine, what remains, but that, by restoring what he has appropriated from others, we should prove to the disciples of this (heretic) that Christ will in no wise profit them, inasmuch as they are heathenish?
Basilides, therefore, and Isidorus, the true son and disciple of Basilides, say that Matthias communicated to them secret discourses, which, I being specially instructed, he heard from the Savior. Let us, then, see how clearly Basilides, simultaneously with Isidorus, and the entire band of these (heretics), not only absolutely belies Matthias, but even the Savior Himself. (Time) was, says (Basilides), when there was nothing. Not even, however, did that nothing constitute anything of existent things; but, to express myself undisguisedly and candidly, and without any quibbling, it is altogether nothing. But when, he says, I employ the expression “was,” I do not say that it was; but (I speak in this way) in order to signify the meaning of what I wish to elucidate. I affirm then, he says, that it was “altogether nothing.” For, he says, that is not absolutely ineffable which is named (so), — although undoubtedly we call this ineffable, — but that which is “non-ineffable.” For that which is “non-ineffable” is not denominated ineffable, but is, he says, above every name that is named. For, he says, by no means for the world are these names sufficient, but so manifold are its divisions that there is a deficiency (of names). And I do not take it upon myself to discover, he says, proper denominations for all things. Undoubtedly, however, one ought mentally, not by means of names, to conceive, after an ineffable manner, the peculiarities (of things) denominated. For an equivocal terminology, (when employed by teachers,) has created for their pupils confusion and a source of error concerning objects. (The Basilidians), in the first instance, laying hold on this borrowed and furtively derived tenet from the Peripatetic (sage), play upon the folly of those who herd together with them. For Aristotle, born many generations before Basilides, first lays down a system in The Categories concerning homonymous words. And these heretics bring this (system) to light as if it were peculiarly their own, and as if it were some novel (doctrine), and some secret disclosure from the discourses of Matthias.
Since, therefore, “nothing” existed, — (I mean) not matter, nor substance, nor what is insubstantial, nor is absolute, nor composite, (nor conceivable, nor inconceivable, (nor what is sensible,) nor devoid of senses, nor man, nor angel, nor a god, nor, in short, any of those objects that have names, or are apprehended by sense, or that are cognized by intellect, but (are) thus (cognized), even with greater minuteness, still, when all things are absolutely removed, — (since, I say, “nothing” existed,) God, “non-existent,” — whom Aristotle styles “conception of conception,” but these (Basilidians) “non-existent,” — inconceivably, insensibly, indeterminately, involuntarily, impassively, (and) unactuated by desire, willed to create a world. Now I employ, he says, the expression “willed” for the purpose of signifying (that he did so) involuntarily, and inconceivably, and insensibly. And by the expression “world” I do not mean that which was subsequently formed according to breadth and division, and which stood apart; nay, (far from this,) for (I mean) the germ of a world. The germ, however, of the world had all things in itself. Just as the grain of mustard comprises all things simultaneously, holding them (collected) together within the very smallest (compass), viz. roots, stem, branches, leaves, and innumerable grains which are produced from the plant, (as) seeds again of other plants, and frequently of others (still), that are produced (from them). In this way, “non-existent” God made the world out of nonentities, casting and depositing some one Seed that contained in itself a conglomeration of the germs of the world. But in order that I may render more clear what it is those (heretics) affirm, (I shall mention the following illustration of theirs.) As an egg of some variegated and parti-colored bird, — for instance the peacock, or some other (bird) still more manifold and parti-colored, — being one in reality, contains in itself numerous forms of manifold, and parti-colored, and much compounded substances; so, he says, the nonexistent seed of the world, which has been deposited by the non-existent God, constitutes at the same time the germ of a multitude of forms and a multitude of substances.
All things, therefore whatsoever it is possible to declare, and whatever, being not as yet discovered, one must omit, were likely to receive adaptation to the world which was about to be generated from the Seed. And this (Seed), at the requisite seasons, increases in bulk in a peculiar manner, according to accession, as through the instrumentality of a Deity so great, and of this description. (But this Deity) the creature can neither express nor grasp by perception. (Now, all these things) were inherent, treasured in the Seed, as we afterwards observe in a new-born child the growth of teeth, and paternal substance, and intellect, and everything which, though previously having no existence, accrues unto a man, growing little by little, from a youthful period of life. But since it would be absurd to say that any projection of a non-existent God became anything non-existent (for Basilides altogether shuns and dreads the Substances of things generated in the way of projection for, (he asks,) of what sort of projection is there a necessity, or of what sort of matter must we assume the previous existence, in order that God should construct a world, as the spider his web; or (as) a mortal man, for the purpose of working it, takes a (piece of) brass or of wood, or some other of the parts of matter?), — (projection, I say, being out of the question,) certainly, says (Basilides), God spoke the word, and it was carried into effect. And this, as these men assert, is that which has been stated by Moses: “Let there be light, and there was light.” Whence he says, came the light? From nothing. For it has not been written, he says, whence, but this only, (that it came) from the voice of him who speaks the word. And he who speaks the word, he says, was non-existent; nor was that existent which was being produced. The seed of the cosmical system was generated, he says, from nonentities; (and I mean by the seed,) the word which was spoken, “Let there be light.” And this, he says, is that which has been stated in the Gospels: “He was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” He derives his originating principles from that Seed, and obtains from the same source his illuminating power. This is that seed which has in itself the entire conglomeration of germs. And Aristotle affirms this to be genius, and it is distributed by him into infinite species; just as from animal, which is non-existent, we sever ox, horse, (and) man. When, therefore, the cosmical Seed becomes the basis (for a subsequent development), those (heretics) assert, (to quote Basilides’ own words:) “Whatsoever I affirm,” he says, “to have been made after these, ask no question as to whence. For (the Seed) had all seeds treasured and reposing in itself, just as non-existent entities, and which were designed to be produced by a non-existent Deity.”
Let us see, therefore, what they say is first, or what second, or what third, (in the development of) what is generated from the cosmical Seed. There existed, he says, in the Seed itself, a Sonship, threefold, in every respect of the same Substance with the non-existent God, (and) begotten from nonentities. Of this Sonship (thus) involving a threefold division, one part was refined, (another gross,) and another requiring purification. The refined portion, therefore, in the first place, simultaneously with the earliest deposition of the Seed by the non-existent one, immediately burst forth and went upwards and hurried above from below, employing a sort of velocity described in poetry, —
“... As wing or thought,” —
and attained, he says, unto him that is nonexistent. For every nature desires that (nonexistent one), on account of a superabundance of beauty and bloom. Each (nature desires this), however, after a different mode. The more gross portion, however, (of the Sonship) continuing still in the Seed, (and) being a certain imitative (principle), was not able to hurry upwards. For (this portion) was much more deficient in the refinement that the Sonship possessed, which through itself hurried upwards, (and so the more gross portion) was left behind. Therefore the more gross Sonship equipped itself with some such wing as Plato, the Preceptor of Aristotle, fastens on the soul in (his) Phaedrus. And Basilides styles such, not a wing, but Holy Spirit; and Sonship invested in this (Spirit) confers benefits, and receives them in turn. He confers benefits, because, as a wing of a bird, when removed from the bird, would not of itself soar high up and aloft; nor, again, would a bird, when disengaged from its pinion, at any time soar high up and aloft; (so, in like manner,) the Sonship involved some such relation in reference to the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit in reference to the Sonship. For the Sonship, carried upwards by the Spirit as by a wing, bears aloft (in turn) its pinion, that is, the Spirit. And it approaches the refined Sonship, and the non-existent God, even Him who fabricated the world out of nonentities. He was not, (however,) able to have this (spirit) with (the Sonship) itself; for it was not of the same substance (with God), nor has it (any) nature (in common) with the Sonship. But as pure and dry air is contrary to (their) nature, and destructive to fishes; so, in contrariety to the nature of the Holy Spirit, was that place simultaneously of non-existent Deity and Sonship, — (a place) more ineffable than ineffable (entities), and higher up than all names.
Sonship, therefore, left this (spirit) near that Blessed Place, which cannot be conceived or represented by any expression. (He left the spirit) not altogether deserted or separated from the Sonship; nay, (far from it,) for it is just as when a most fragrant ointment is put into a vessel, that, even though (the vessel) be emptied (of it) with ever so much care, nevertheless some odor of the ointment still remains, and is left behind, even after (the ointment) is separated from the vessel; and the vessel retains an odor of ointment, though (it contain) not the ointment (itself). So the Holy Spirit has continued without any share in the Sonship, and separated (from it), and has in itself, similarly with ointment, its own power, a savor of Sonship. And this is what has been declared: “As the ointment upon the head which descended to the beard of Aaron.” This is the savor from the Holy Spirit born down from above, as far as formlessness, and the interval (of space) in the vicinity of our world. And from this the Son began to ascend, sustained as it were, says (Basilides), upon eagles’ wings, and upon the back. For, he says, all (entities) hasten upwards from below, from things inferior to those that are superior. For not one of those things that are among things superior, is so silly as to descend beneath. The third Sonship, however, that which requires purification, has continued, he says, in the vast conglomeration of all germs conferring benefits and receiving them. But in what manner it is that (the third Sonship) receives benefits and confers them, we shall afterwards declare when we come to the proper place for discussing this question.
When, therefore, a first and second ascension of the Sonship took place, and the Holy Spirit itself also remained after the mode mentioned, the firmament was placed between the super-mundane (spaces) and the world. For existing things were distributed by Basilides into two continuous and primary divisions, and are, according to him, denominated partly in a certain (respect) world, and partly in a certain (respect) super-mundane (spaces). But the spirit, a line of demarcation between the world and super-mundane (spaces), is that which is both holy, and has abiding in itself the savor of Sonship. While, therefore, the firmament which is above the heaven is coming into existence, there burst forth, and was begotten from the cosmical Seed, and the conglomeration of all germs, the Great Archon (and) Head of the world, (who constitutes) a certain (species of) beauty, and magnitude, and indissoluble power. For, says he, he is more ineffable than ineffable entities, and more potent than potent ones, and more wise than wise ones, and superior to all the beautiful ones whatever you could mention. This (Archon), when begotten, raised Himself up and soared aloft, and was carried up entire as far as the firmament. And there He paused, supposing the firmament to be the termination of His ascension and elevation, and considering that there existed nothing at all beyond these. And than all the subjacent (entities) whatsoever there were among them which remained mundane, He became more wise, more powerful, more comely, more lustrous, (in fact,) pre-eminent for beauty above any entities you could mention with the exception of the Sonship alone, which is still left in the (conglomeration of) all germs. For he was not aware that there is (a Sonship) wiser and more powerful, and better than Himself. Therefore imagining Himself to be Lord, and Governor, and a wise Master Builder, He turns Himself to (the work of) the creation of every object in the cosmical system. And first, he deemed it proper not to be alone, but made unto Himself, and generated from adjacent (entities), a Son far superior to Himself, and wiser. For all these things had the non-existent Deity previously determined upon, when He cast down the (conglomeration of) all germs. Beholding, therefore, the Son, He was seized with astonishment, and loved (Him), and was struck with amazement. For some beauty of this description appeared to the Great Archon to belong to the Son, and the Archon caused Him to sit on his right (hand). This is, according to these (heretics), what is denominated the Ogdoad, where the Great Archon has his throne. The entire celestial creation, then, that is, the Aether, He Himself, the Great Wise Demiurge formed. The Son, however, begotten of this (Archon), operates in Him, and offered Him suggestions, being endued with far greater wisdom than the Demiurge Himself.
This, then, constitutes the entelecheia of the natural organic body, according to Aristotle, (viz.,) a soul operating in the body, without which the body is able to accomplish nothing; (I mean nothing) that is greater, and more illustrious, and more powerful, and more wise than the body. The account, therefore, which Aristotle has previously rendered concerning the soul and the body, Basilides elucidates as applied to the Great Archon and his Son. For the Archon has generated, according to Basilides, a son; and the soul as an operation and completion, Aristotle asserts to be an entelecheia of a natural organic hotly. As, therefore, the entelecheia controls the body, so the Son, according to Basilides, controls the God that is more ineffable than ineffable (entities). All things, therefore, have been provided for, and managed by the majesty of the Great Archon; (I mean) whatever objects exist in the aethereal region of space as far as the moon, for from that quarter onwards air is separated from aether. When all objects in the aethereal regions, then, were arranged, again from (the conglomeration of) all germs another Archon ascended, greater, of course, than all subjacent (entities) with the exception, however, of the Sonship that had been left behind, but far inferior to the First Archon. And this (second Archon) is called by them Rhetus. And this Topos is styled Hebdomad, and this (Archon) is the manager and fabricator of all subjacent (entities). And He has likewise made unto Himself out (of the conglomeration of) all germs, a son who is more prudent and wise than Himself, similarly to what has been stated to have taken place in the case of the First Archon. That which exists in this quarter (of the universe) constitutes, he says, the actual conglomeration and collection of all seeds; and the things which are generated are produced according to nature, as has been declared already by Him who calculates on things future, when they ought (to be), and what sort they ought (to be), and how they ought (to be). And of these no one is Chief, or Guardian, or Creator. For (a) sufficient (cause of existence) for them is that calculation which the Non-Existent One formed when He exercised the function of creation.
When, therefore, according to these (heretics), the entire world and super-mundane entities were finished, and (when) nothing exists laboring under deficiency, there still remains in the (conglomeration of) all germs the third Sonship, which had been left behind in the Seed to confer benefits and receive them. And it must needs be that the Sonship which had been left behind ought likewise to be revealed and reinstated above. And His place should be above the Conterminous Spirit, near the refined and imitative Sonship and the Non-Existent One. But this would be in accordance with what has been written, he says: “And the creation itself groaneth together, and travaileth in pain together, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God.” Now, we who are spiritual are sons, he says, who have been left here to arrange, and mold, and rectify, and complete the souls which, according to nature, are so constituted as to continue in this quarter of the universe. “Sin, then, reigned from Adam unto Moses,” as it has been written. For the Great Archon exercised dominion and possesses an empire with limits extending as far as the firmament. And He imagines Himself alone to be God, and that there exists nothing above Him, for (the reason that) all things have been guarded by unrevealed Siope. This, he says, is the mystery which has not been made known to former generations; but in those days the Great Archon, the Ogdoad, was King and Lord, as it seemed, of the universe. But (in reality) the Hebdomad was king and Lord of this quarter of the universe, and the Ogdoad is Arrhetus, whereas the Hebdomad is Rhetus. This, he says, is the Archon of the Hebdomad, who has spoken to Moses, and says: “I am the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and I have not manifested unto them the name of God” (for so they wish that it had been written) — that is, the God, Arrhetus, Archon of the Ogdoad. All the prophets, therefore, who were before the Savior uttered their predictions, he says, from this source (of inspiration). Since, therefore, it was requisite, he says, that we should be revealed as the children of God, in expectation of whose manifestation, he says, the creation habitually groans and travails in pain, the Gospel came into the world, and passed through every Principality, and Power, and Dominion, and every Name that is named. And (the Gospel) came in reality, though nothing descended from above; nor did the blessed Sonship retire from that Inconceivable, and Blessed, (and) Non-Existent God. Nay, (far from it;) for as Indian naphtha, when lighted merely from a considerably long distance, nevertheless attracts fire (towards it), so from below, from the formlessness of the conglomeration (of all germs), the powers pass upwards as far as the Sonship. For, according to the illustration of the Indian naphtha, the Son of the Great Archon of the Ogdoad, as if he were some (sort of) naphtha, apprehends and seizes conceptions from the Blessed Sonship, whose place of habitation is situated after that of the Conterminous (Spirit). For the power of the Sonship which is in the midst of the Holy Spirit, (that is,) in, the midst of the (Conterminous) Spirit, shares the flowing and rushing thoughts of the Sonship with the Son of the Great Archon.
The Gospel then came, says (Basilides), first from the Sonship through the Son, that was seated beside the Archon, to the Archon, and the Archon learned that He was not God of the universe, but was begotten. But (ascertaining that) He has above Himself the deposited treasure of that Ineffable and Unnamable (and) Non-existent One, and of the Sonship, He was both converted and filled with terror, when He was brought to understand in what ignorance He was (involved). This, he says, is what has been declared: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” For, being orally instructed by Christ, who was seated near, he began to acquire wisdom, (inasmuch as he thereby) learns who is the Non-Existent One, what the Sonship (is), what the Holy Spirit (is), what the apparatus of the universe (is), and what is likely to be the consummation of things. This is the wisdom spoken in a mystery, concerning which, says (Basilides), Scripture uses the following expressions: “Not in words taught of human wisdom, but in (those) taught of the Spirit.” The Archon, then, being orally instructed, and taught, and being (thereby) filled with fear, proceeded to make confession concerning the sin which He had committed in magnifying Himself. This, he says, is what is declared: “I have recognized my sin, and I know my transgression, (and) about this I shall confess for ever.” When, then, the Great Archon had been orally instructed, and every creature of the Ogdoad had been orally instructed and taught, and (after) the mystery became known to the celestial (powers), it was also necessary that afterwards the Gospel should come to the Hebdomad, in order likewise that the Archon of the Hebdomad might be similarly instructed and indoctrinated into the Gospel. The Son of the Great Archon (therefore) kindled in the Son of the Archon of the Hebdomad the light which Himself possessed and had kindled from above from the Sonship. And the Son of the Archon of the Hebdomad had radiance imparted to Him, and He proclaimed the Gospel to the Archon of the Hebdomad. And in like manner, according to the previous account, He Himself was both terrified and induced to make confession. When, therefore, all (beings) in the Hebdomad had been likewise enlightened, and had the Gospel announced to them (for in these regions of the universe there exist, according to these heretics, creatures infinite (in number), viz., Principalities and Powers and Rulers, in regard of which there is extant among the (Basilidians) a very prolix and verbose treatise, where they allege that there are three hundred and sixty-five heavens, and that the great Archon of these is Abrasax, from the fact that his name comprises the computed number 365, so that, of course, the calculation of the title includes all (existing) things, and that for these reasons the year consists of so many days); — but when, he says, these (two events, viz., the illumination of the Hebdomad and the manifestation of the Gospel) had thus taken place, it was necessary, likewise, that afterwards the Formlessness existent in our quarter of creation should have radiance imparted to it, and that the mystery should be revealed to the Sonship, which had been left behind in Formlessness, just like an abortion.
Now this (mystery) was not made known to previous generations, as he says, it has been written, “By revelation was made known unto me the mystery;” and, “I have heard inexpressible words which it is not possible for man to declare.” The light, (therefore,) which came down from the Ogdoad above to the Son of the Hebdomad, descended from the Hebdomad upon Jesus the son of Mary, and he had radiance imparted to him by being illuminated with the light that shone upon him. This, he says, is that which has been declared: “The Holy Spirit will come upon thee,” (meaning) that which proceeded from the Sonship through the conterminous spirit upon the Ogdoad and Hebdomad, as far as Mary; “and the power of the Highest will overshadow thee,” (meaning) the power of the anointing, (which streamed) from the (celestial) height above (through) the Demiurge, as far as the creation, which is (as far as) the Son. And as far as that (Son) he says the world consisted thus. And as far as this, the entire Sonship, which is left behind for benefiting the souls in Formlessness, and for being the recipient in turn of benefits, — (this Sonship, I say,) when it is transformed, followed Jesus, and hastened upwards, and came forth purified. And it becomes most refined, so that it could, as the first (Sonship), hasten upwards through its own instrumentality. For it possesses all the power that, according to nature, is firmly connected with the light which from above shone down (upon earth).
When, therefore, he says, the entire Sonship shall have come, and shall be above the conterminous spirit, then the creature will become the object of mercy. For (the creature) groans until now, and is tormented, and waits for the manifestation of the sons of God, in order that all who are men of the Sonship may ascend from thence. When this takes place, God, he says, will bring upon the whole world enormous ignorance, that all things may continue according to nature, and that nothing may inordinately desire anything of the things that are contrary to nature. But (far from it); for all the souls of this quarter of creation, as many as possess the nature of remaining immortal in this (region) only, continue (in it), aware of nothing superior or better (than their present state). And there will not prevail any rumor or knowledge in regions below, concerning beings whose dwelling is placed above, lest subjacent souls should be wrung with torture from longing after impossibilities. (It would be) just as if a fish were to crave to feed on the mountains along with sheep. (For) a wish of this description would, he says, be their destruction. All things, therefore, that abide in (this) quarter are incorruptible, but corruptible if they are disposed to wander and cross over from the things that are according to nature. In this way the Archon of the Hebdomad will know nothing of superjacent entities. For enormous ignorance will lay hold on this one likewise, in order that sorrow, and grief, and groaning may depart from him; for he will not desire aught of impossible things, nor will he be visited with anguish. In like manner, however, the same ignorance will lay hold also on the Great Archon of the Ogdoad, and similarly on all the creatures that are subject unto him, in order that in no respect anything may desire aught of those things that are contrary to nature, and may not (thus) be overwhelmed with sorrow. And so there will be the restitution of all things which, in conformity with nature, have from the beginning a foundation in the seed of the universe, but will be restored at (their own) proper periods. And that each thing, says (Basilides), has its own particular times, the Savior is a sufficient (witness) when He observes, “Mine hour is not yet come.” And the Magi (afford similar testimony) when they gaze wistfully upon the (Savior’s) star. For (Jesus) Himself was, he says, mentally preconceived at the time of the generation of the stars, and of the complete return to their starting-point of the seasons in the vast conglomeration (of all germs). This is, according to these (Basilidians), he who has been conceived as the inner spiritual man in what is natural (now this is the Sonship which left there the soul, not (that it might be) mortal, but that it might abide here according to nature, just as the first Sonship left above in its proper locality the Holy Spirit, (that is, the spirit) which is conterminous), — (this, I say, is he who has been conceived as the inner spiritual man, and) has then been arrayed in his own peculiar soul.
In order, however, that we may not omit any of the doctrines of this (Basilides), I shall likewise explain whatever statements they put forward respecting a gospel. For gospel with them, as has been elucidated, is of super-mundane entities the knowledge which the Great Archon did not understand. As, then, it was manifested unto him that there are likewise the Holy Spirit — that is, the conterminous (spirit) — and the Sonship, and the Non-Existent God, the cause of all these, he rejoiced at the communications made to him, and was filled with exultation. According to them, this constitutes the gospel. Jesus, however, was born, according to these (heretics), as we have already declared. And when the generation which has been previously explained took place, all the events in our Lord’s life occurred, according to them, in the same manner as they have been described in the Gospels. And these things happened, he says, in order that Jesus might become the first-fruits of a distinction of the different orders (of created objects) that had been confused together. For when the world had been divided into an Ogdoad, which is the head of the entire world, — now the great Archon is head of the entire world, — and into a Hebdomad, — which is the head of the Hebdomad, the Demiurge of subjacent entities, — and into this order of creatures (that prevails) amongst us, where exists Formlessness, it was requisite that the various orders of created objects that had been confounded together should be distinguished by a separating process performed by Jesus. (Now this separation) that which was his corporeal part suffered, and this was (the part) of Formlessness and reverted into Formlessness. And that was resuscitated which was his psychical part, and this was (part) of the Hebdomad, and reverted into the Hebdomad. And he revived that (element in his nature) which was the peculiar property of the elevated region where dwells the Great Archon, and (that element) remained beside the Great Archon. And he carried upwards as far as (that which is) above that which was (the peculiar property) of the conterminous spirit, and he remained in the conterminous spirit. And through him there was purified the third Sonship, which had been left for conferring benefits, and receiving them. And (through Jesus) it ascended towards the blessed Sonship, and passed through all these. For the entire purpose of these was the blending together of, as it were, the conglomeration of all germs, and the distinction of the various orders of created objects, and the restoration into their proper component parts of things that had been blended together. Jesus, therefore, became the first-fruits of the distinction of the various orders of created objects, and his Passion took place for not any other reason than the distinction which was thereby brought about in the various orders of created objects that had been confounded together. For in this manner (Basilides) says that the entire Sonship, which had been left in Formlessness for the purpose of conferring benefits and receiving them, was divided into its component elements, according to the manner in which also the distinction of natures had taken place in Jesus. These, then, are the legends which likewise Basilides details after his sojourn in Egypt; and being instructed by the (sages of this country) in so great a system of wisdom, (the heretic) produced fruits of this description.
But one Saturnilus, who flourished about the same period with Basilides, but spent his time in Antioch, (a city) of Syria, propounded opinions akin to whatever (tenets) Menander (advanced). He asserts that there is one Father, unknown to all — He who had made angels, archangels, principalities, (and) powers; and that by certain angels, seven (in number), the world was made, and all things that are in it. And (Saturnilus affirms) that man was a work of angels. There had appeared above from (the Being of) absolute sway, a brilliant image; and when (the angels) were not able to detain this, on account of its immediately, he says, returning with rapidity upwards, they exhorted one another, saying, “Let us make man in our likeness and image.” And when the figure was formed, and was not, he says, able, owing to the impotence of the angels, to lift up itself, but continued writhing as a worm, the Power above, compassionating him on account of his having been born in its own image, sent forth a scintillation of life, which raised man up, and caused him to have vitality. (Saturnilus) asserts that this scintillation of life rapidly returns after death to those things that are of the same order of existence; and that the rest, from which they have been generated, are resolved into those. And the Savior he supposed to be unbegotten and incorporeal, and devoid of figure. (Saturnilus,) however, (maintained that Jesus) was manifested as man in appearance only. And he says that the God of the Jews is one of the angels, and, on account of the Father’s wishing to deprive of sovereignty all the Archons, that Christ came for the overthrow of the God of the Jews, and for the salvation of those that believe upon Him; and that these have in them the scintillation of life. For he asserted that two kinds of men had been formed by the angels, — one wicked, but the other good. And, since demons from time to time assisted wicked (men, Saturnilus affirms) that the Savior came for the overthrow of worthless men and demons, but for the salvation of good men. And he affirms that marriage and procreation are from Satan. The majority, however, of those who belong to this (heretic’s school) abstain from animal food likewise, (and) by this affectation of asceticism (make many their dupes). And (they maintain) that the prophecies have been uttered, partly by the world-making angels, and partly by Satan, who is also the very angel whom they suppose to act in antagonism to the cosmical (angels), and especially to the God of the Jews. These, then, are in truth the tenets of Saturnilus.
But Marcion, a native of Pontus, far more frantic than these (heretics), omitting the majority of the tenets of the greater number (of speculators), (and) advancing into a doctrine still more unabashed, supposed (the existence of) two originating causes of the universe, alleging one of them to be a certain good (principle), but the other an evil one. And himself imagining that he was introducing some novel (opinion), founded a school full of folly, and attended by men of a sensual mode of life, inasmuch as he himself was one of lustful propensities. This (heretic) having thought that the multitude would forget that he did not happen to be a disciple of Christ, but of Empedocles, who was far anterior to himself, framed and formed the same opinions, — namely, that there are two causes of the universe, discord and friendship. For what does Empedocles say respecting the plan of the world? Even though we have previously spoken (on this subject), yet even now also, for the purpose, at all events, of comparing the heresy of this plagiarist (with its source), we shall not be silent.
This (philosopher) affirms that all the elements out of which the world consists and derives its being, are six: two of them material, (viz.,) earth and water; and two of them instruments by which material objects are arranged and altered, (viz.,) fire and air; and two of them, by means of the instruments, operating upon matter and fashioning it, viz., discord and friendship. (Empedocles) expresses himself somehow thus: —
“The four roots of all things hear thou first:
Jupiter is fire, and life-giving Juno
earth, which produces fruits for the support of existence; and Aidoneus
air, because although through him we behold all things, yet himself
alone we do not see. But Nestis is water, for this is a sole vehicle of
(food), and thus becomes a cause of sustenance to all those that are
being nourished; (but) this of itself is not able to afford nutriment
to those that are being nourished. For if it did possess the power of
affording nutriment, animal life, he says, could never be destroyed by
famine, inasmuch as water is always superabundant in the world. For
this reason he denominates Nestis water, because, (though indirectly)
being a cause of nutriment, it is not (of itself) competent to afford
nutriment to those things that are being nourished. These, therefore —
to delineate them as by way of outline — are the principles that
comprise (Empedocles’) entire theory of the world: (viz.,) water and
earth, out of which (proceed) generated entities; fire and spirit,
(which are) instruments and efficient (causes), but discord and
friendship, which are (principles) artistically fabricating (the
universe). And friendship is a certain peace, and unanimity, and love,
whose entire effort is, that there should be one finished and complete
world. Discord, however, invariably separates that one (world), and
subdivides it, or makes many things out of one. Therefore discord is of
the entire creation a cause which he styles “oulomenon,” that is,
destructive. For it is the concern of this (discord), that throughout
every age the creation itself should continue to preserve its
existing condition. And ruinous discord has been (thus) a fabricator and
an efficient cause of the production of all generated entities; whereas
friendship (is the cause) of the eduction, and alteration, and restoration
of existing things into one system. And in regard of these (causes),
Empedocles asserts that they are two immortal and unbegotten principles,
and such as have not as yet received an originating cause of existence.
(Empedocles) somewhere or other (expresses himself) in the following
“For if both once it was, and will be; never, I think,
(But) what are these (two)? Discord and Friendship; for they did not begin to come into being, but pre-existed and always will exist, because, from the fact of their being unbegotten, they are not able to undergo corruption. But fire, (and water,) and earth, and air, are (entities) that perish and revive. For when these generated (bodies), by reason of Discord, cease to exist, Friendship, laying hold on them, brings them forward, and attaches and associates them herself with the universe. (And this takes place) in order that the Universe may continue one, being always ordered by Friendship in a manner one and the same, and with (uninterrupted) uniformity.
When, however, Friendship makes unity out of plurality, and associates with unity separated entities, Discord, again, forcibly severs them from unity, and makes them many, that is, fire, water, earth, air, (as well as) the animals and plants produced from these, and whatever portions of the world we observe. And in regard of the form of the world, what sort it is, (as) arranged by Friendship, (Empedocles) expresses himself in the following terms: —
“For not from back two arms arise,
An operation of this description Friendship maintains, and makes (one) most beautiful form of the world out of plurality. Discord, however, the cause of the arrangement of each of the parts (of the universe), forcibly severs and makes many things out of that one (form). And this is what Empedocles affirms respecting his own generation: —
“Of these I also am from God a wandering exile.”
That is, (Empedocles) denominates as God the unity and unification of that (one form) in which (the world) existed antecedent to the separation and production (introduced) by Discord among the majority of those things (that subsisted) in accordance with the disposition (effected) by Discord. For Empedocles affirms Discord to be a furious, and perturbed, and unstable Demiurge, (thus) denominating Discord the creator of the world. For this constitutes the condemnation and necessity of souls which Discord forcibly severs from unity, and (which it) fashions and operates upon, (according to Empedocles,) who expresses himself after some such mode as, the following: —
“Who perjury piles on sin,
meaning by demons long-lived souls, because they are immortal, and live for lengthened ages: —
“For thrice ten thousand years banished from bliss;”
denominating as blissful, those that have been collected by Friendship from the majority of entities into the process of unification (arising out) of the intelligible world. He asserts that those are exiles, and that
“In lapse of time all sorts of mortal men are born,
He asserts the irksome ways to be the alterations and transfigurations of souls into (successive) bodies. This is what he says: —
“Changing the irksome ways of life.”
For souls “change,” body after body being altered, and punished by Discord, and not permitted to continue in the one (frame), but that the souls are involved in all descriptions of punishment by Discord being changed from body to body. He says: —
“Aethereal force to ocean drives the souls,
This is the punishment which the Demiurge inflicts, just as some brazier molding (a piece of) iron, and dipping it successively from fire into water. For fire is the aether whence the Demiurge transfers the souls into the sea; and land is the earth: whence he uses the words, from water into earth, and from earth into air. This is what (Empedocles) says: —
“And earth on beams
The souls, then, thus detested, and tormented, and punished in this world, are, according to Empedocles, collected by Friendship as being a certain good (power), and (one) that pities the groaning of these, and the disorderly and wicked device of furious Discord. And (likewise Friendship is) eager, and toils to lead forth little by little the souls from the world, and to domesticate them with unity, in order that all things, being conducted by herself, may attain unto unification. Therefore on account of such an arrangement on the part of destructive Discord of this divided world, Empedocles admonishes his disciples to abstain from all sorts of animal food. For he asserts that the bodies of animals are such as feed on the habitations of punished souls. And he teaches those who are hearers of such doctrines (as his), to refrain from intercourse with women. (And he issues this precept) in order that (his disciples) may not co-operate with and assist those works which Discord fabricates, always dissolving and forcibly severing the work of Friendship. Empedocles asserts that this is the greatest law of the management of the universe, expressing himself somehow thus: —
“There’s something swayed by Fate, the ancient,
He thus calls Fate the alteration from unity into plurality, according to Discord, and from plurality into unity, according to Friendship. And, as I stated, (Empedocles asserts) that there are four perishable gods, (viz.,) fire, water, earth, (and) air. (He maintains,) however, that there are two (gods) which are immortal, unbegotten, (and) continually hostile one to the other, (namely) Discord and Friendship. And (he asserts) that Discord always is guilty of injustice and covetousness, and forcible abduction of the things of Friendship, and of appropriation of them to itself. (He alleges,) however, that Friendship, inasmuch as it is always and invariably a certain good (power), and intent on union, recalls and brings towards (itself), and reduces to unity, the parts of the universe that have been forcibly severed, and tormented, and punished in the creation by the Demiurge. Some such system of philosophy as the foregoing is advanced for us by Empedocles concerning the generation of the world, and its destruction, and its constitution, as one consisting of what is good and bad. And he says that there is likewise a certain third power which is cognized by intellect, and that this can be understood from these, (viz., Discord and Friendship,) expressing himself somehow thus: —
“For if, ’neath hearts of oak, these truths you fix,
When, therefore, Marcion or some one of his hounds barks against the Demiurge, and adduces reasons from a comparison of what is good and bad, we ought to say to them, that neither Paul the apostle nor Mark, he of the maimed finger, announced such (tenets). For none of these (doctrines) has been written in the Gospel according to Mark. But (the real author of the system) is Empedocles, son of Meto, a native of Agrigentum. And (Marcion) despoiled this (philosopher), and imagined that up to the present would pass undetected his transference, under the same expressions, of the arrangement of his entire heresy from Sicily into the evangelical narratives. For bear with me, O Marcion: as you have instituted a comparison of what is good and evil, I also today will institute a comparison following up your own tenets, as you suppose them to be. You affirm that the Demiurge of the world is evil — why not hide your countenance in shame, (as thus) teaching to the Church the doctrines of Empedocles? You say that there is a good Deity who destroys the works of the Demiurge: then do not you plainly preach to your pupils, as the good Deity, the Friendship of Empedocles. You forbid marriage, the procreation of children, (and) the abstaining from meats which God has created for participation by the faithful, and those that know the truth. (Thinkest thou, then,) that thou canst escape detection, (while thus) enjoining the purificatory rites of Empedocles? For in point of fact you follow in every respect this (philosopher of paganism), while you instruct your own disciples to refuse meats, in order not to eat any body (that might be) a remnant of a soul which has been punished by the Demiurge. You dissolve marriages that have been cemented by the Deity. And here again you conform to the tenets of Empedocles, in order that for you the work of Friendship may be perpetuated as one (and) indivisible. For, according to Empedocles, matrimony separates unity, and makes (out of it) plurality, as we have proved.
The principal heresy of Marcion, and (the one of his) which is most free from admixture (with other heresies), is that which has its system formed out of the theory concerning the good and bad (God). Now this, it has been manifested by us, belongs to Empedocles. But since at present, in our times, a certain follower of Marcion, (namely) Prepon, an Assyrian, has endeavored to introduce something more novel, and has given an account of his heresy in a work inscribed to Bardesanes, an Armenian, neither of this will I be silent. In alleging that what is just constitutes a third principle, and that it is placed intermediate between what is good and bad, Prepon of course is not able to avoid (the imputation of inculcating) the opinion of Empedocles. For Empedocles asserts that the world is managed by wicked Discord, and that the other (world) which (is managed) by Friendship, is cognizable by intellect. And (he asserts) that these are the two different principles of good and evil, and that intermediate between these diverse principles is impartial reason, in accordance with which are united the things that have been separated by Discord, (and which,) in accordance with the influence of Friendship, are accommodated to unity. The impartial reason itself, that which is an auxiliary to Friendship, Empedocles denominates “Musa.” And he himself likewise entreats her to assist him, and expresses himself somehow thus: —
“For if on fleeting mortals, deathless Muse,
Marcion, adopting these sentiments, rejected altogether the generation of our Savior. He considered it to be absurd that under the (category of a) creature fashioned by destructive Discord should have been the Logos that was an auxiliary to Friendship — that is, the Good Deity. (His doctrine,) however, was that, independent of birth, (the Logos) Himself descended from above in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, and that, as being intermediate between the good and bad Deity, He proceeded to give instruction in the synagogues. For if He is a Mediator, He has been, he says, liberated from the entire nature of the Evil Deity. Now, as he affirms, the Demiurge is evil, and his works. For this reason, he affirms, Jesus came down unbegotten, in order that He might be liberated from all (admixture of) evil. And He has, he says, been liberated from the nature of the Good One likewise, in order that He may be a Mediator, as Paul states, and as Himself acknowledges: “Why call ye me good? there is one good.” These, then, are the opinions of Marcion, by means of which he made many his dupes, employing the conclusions of Empedocles. And he transferred the philosophy invented by that (ancient speculator) into his own system of thought, and (out of Empedocles) constructed his (own) impious heresy. But I consider that this has been sufficiently refuted by us, and that I have not omitted any opinion of those who purloin their opinions from the Greeks, and act despitefully towards the disciples of Christ, as if they had become teachers to them of these (tenets). But since it seems that we have sufficiently explained the doctrines of this (heretic), let us see what Carpocrates says.
Carpocrates affirms that the world and the things in it were made by angels, far inferior to the unbegotten Father; and that Jesus was generated of Joseph, and that, having been born similar to (other) men, He was more just than the rest (of the human race). And (Carpocrates asserts) that the soul (of Jesus), inasmuch as it was made vigorous and undefiled, remembered the things seen by it in its converse with the unbegotten God. And (Carpocrates maintains) that on this account there was sent down upon (Jesus) by that (God) a power, in order that through it He might be enabled to escape the world-making (angels). And (he says) that this power, having passed through all, and having obtained liberty in all, again ascended to God (Himself). And (he alleges) that in the same condition with (the soul of Jesus are all the souls) that embrace similar objects of desire with the (power just alluded to). And they assert that the soul of Jesus, (though,) according to law, it was disciplined in Jewish customs, (in reality) despised them. And (he says) that on this account (Jesus) received powers whereby He rendered null and void the passions incidental to men for their punishment. And (he argues), therefore, that the (soul), which, similarly with that soul of Christ, is able to despise the world-making Archons, receives in like manner power for the performance of similar acts. Wherefore, also, (according to Carpocrates, there are persons who) have attained unto such a degree of pride as to affirm some of themselves to be equal to Jesus Himself, whereas others among them to be even still more powerful. But (they also contend) that some enjoy an excellence above the disciples of that (Redeemer), for instance Peter and Paul, and the rest of the Apostles, and that these are in no respect inferior to Jesus. And (Carpocrates asserts) that the souls of these have originated from that supernal power, and that consequently they, as equally despising the world-making (angels), have been deemed worthy of the same power, and (of the privilege) to ascend to the same (place). If, however, any one would despise earthly concerns more than did that (Savior, Carpocrates says) that such a one world he able to become superior to (Jesus. The followers of this heretic) practice their magical arts and incantations, and spells and voluptuous feasts. And (they are in the habit of invoking the aid of) subordinate demons and dream-senders, and (of resorting to) the rest of the tricks (of sorcery), alleging that they possess power for now acquiring sway over the Archons and makers of this world, nay, even over all the works that are in it.
(Now these heretics) have themselves been sent forth by Satan, for the purpose of slandering before the Gentiles the divine name of the Church. (And the devil’s object is,) that men hearing, now after one fashion and now after another, the doctrines of those (heretics), and thinking that all of us are people of the same stamp, may turn away their ears from the preaching of the truth, or that they also, looking, (without abjuring,) upon all the tenets of those (heretics), may speak hurtfully of us. (The followers of Carpocrates) allege that the souls are transferred from body to body, so far as that they may fill up (the measure of) all their sins. When, however, not one (of these sins) is left, (the Carpocratians affirm that the soul) is then emancipated, and departs unto that God above of the world-making angels, and that in this way all souls will be saved. If, however, some (souls), during the presence of the soul in the body for one life, may by anticipation become involved in the full measure of transgressions, they, (according to these heretics,) no longer undergo metempsychosis. (Souls of this sort,) however, on paying off at once all trespasses, will, (the Carpocratians say,) be emancipated from dwelling any more in a body. Certain, likewise, of these (heretics) brand their own disciples in the back parts of the lobe of the right ear. And they make counterfeit images of Christ, alleging that these were in existence at the time (during which our Lord was on earth, and that they were fashioned) by Pilate.
But a certain Cerinthus, himself being disciplined in the teaching of the Egyptians, asserted that the world was not made by the primal Deity, but by some virtue which was an offshoot from that Power which is above all things, and which (yet) is ignorant of the God that is above all. And he supposed that Jesus was not generated from a virgin, but that he was born son of Joseph and Mary, just in a manner similar with the rest of men, and that (Jesus) was more just and more wise (than all the human race). And (Cerinthus alleges) that, after the baptism (of our Lord), Christ in form of a dove came down upon him, from that absolute sovereignty which is above all things. And then, (according to this heretic,) Jesus proceeded to preach the unknown Father, and in attestation (of his mission) to work miracles. It was, however, (the opinion of Cerinthus,) that ultimately Christ departed from Jesus, and that Jesus suffered and rose again; whereas that Christ, being spiritual, remained beyond the possibility of suffering.
The Ebionaeans, however, acknowledge that the world was made by Him Who is in reality God, but they propound legends concerning the Christ similarly with Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They live conformably to the customs of the Jews, alleging that they are justified according to the law, and saying that Jesus was justified by fulfilling the law. And therefore it was, (according to the Ebionaeans,) that (the Savior) was named (the) Christ of God and Jesus, since not one of the rest (of mankind) had observed completely the law. For if even any other had fulfilled the commandments (contained) in the law, he would have been that Christ. And the (Ebionaeans allege) that they themselves also, when in like manner they fulfill (the law), are able to become Christs; for they assert that our Lord Himself was a man in a like sense with all (the rest of the human family).
But there was a certain Theodotus, a native of Byzantium, who introduced a novel heresy. He announces tenets concerning the originating cause of the universe, which are partly in keeping with the doctrines of the true Church, in so far as he acknowledges that all things were created by God. Forcibly appropriating, however, (his notions of) Christ from the school of the Gnostics, and of Cerinthus and Ebion, he alleges that (our Lord) appeared in some such manner as I shall now describe. (According to this, Theodotus maintains) that Jesus was a (mere) man, born of a virgin, according to the counsel of the Father, and that after he had lived promiscuously with all men, and had become pre-eminently religious, he subsequently at his baptism in Jordan received Christ, who came from above and descended (upon him) in form of a dove. And this was the reason, (according to Theodotus,) why (miraculous) powers did not operate within him prior to the manifestation in him of that Spirit which descended, (and) which proclaims him to be the Christ. But (among the followers of Theodotus) some are disposed (to think) that never was this man made God, (even) at the descent of the Spirit; whereas others (maintain that he was made God) after the resurrection from the dead.
While, however, different questions have arisen among them, a certain (heretic), who himself also was styled Theodotus, and who was by trade a banker, attempted to establish (the doctrine), that a certain Melchisedec constitutes the greatest power, and that this one is greater than Christ. And they allege that Christ happens to be according to the likeness (of this Melchisedec). And they themselves, similarly with those who have been previously spoken of as adherents of Theodotus, assert that Jesus is a (mere) man, and that, in conformity with the same account (already given), Christ descended upon him.
There are, however, among the Gnostics diversities of opinion; but we have decided that it would not be worth while to enumerate the silly doctrines of these (heretics), inasmuch as they are (too) numerous and devoid of reason, and full of blasphemy. Now, even those (of the heretics) who are of a more serious turn in regard of the Divinity, and have derived their systems of speculation from the Greeks, must stand convicted (of these charges). But Nicolaus has been a cause of the wide-spread combination of these wicked men. He, as one of the seven (that were chosen) for the diaconate, was appointed by the Apostles. (But Nicolaus) departed from correct doctrine, and was in the habit of inculcating indifferency of both life and food. And when the disciples (of Nicolaus) continued to offer insult to the Holy Spirit, John reproved them in the Apocalypse as fornicators and eaters of things offered unto idols.
But one Cerdon himself also, taking occasion in like manner from these (heretics) and Simon, affirms that the God preached by Moses and the prophets was not Father of Jesus Christ. For (he contends) that this (Father) had been known, whereas that the Father of Christ was unknown, and that the former was just, but the latter good. And Marcion corroborated the tenet of this (heretic) in the work which he attempted to write, and which he styled Antitheses. And he was in the habit, (in this book,) of uttering whatever slanders suggested themselves to his mind against the Creator of the universe. In a similar manner likewise (acted) Lucian, the disciple of this (heretic).
But Apelles, sprung from these, thus expresses himself,
(saying) that there is a certain good Deity, as also Marcion supposed,
and that he who created all things is just. Now he, (according to
Apelles,) was the Demiurge of generated entities. And (this heretic
also maintains) that there is a third (Deity), the one who was in the
habit of speaking to Moses, and that this (god) was of a fiery nature,
and that there was another fourth god, a cause of evils. But these he
denominates angels. He utters, however, slanders against law and
prophets, by alleging that the things that have been written are (of)
human (origin), and are false. And (Apelles) selects from the
Gospels or (from the writings of) the Apostle (Paul) whatever pleases
himself, but he devotes himself to the discourses of a certain
Philumene as to the revelations of a prophetess. He affirms, however, that
Christ descended from the power above; that is, from the good (Deity),
and that he is the son of that good (Deity). And (he asserts that Jesus)
was not born of a virgin, and that when he did appear he was not devoid of
flesh. (He maintains,) however, that (Christ) formed his body by taking
portions of it from the substance of the universe: that is, hot and cold,
and moist and dry. And (he says that Christ), on receiving in this body
cosmical powers, lived for the time he did in (this) world. But (he held
that Jesus) was subsequently crucified by the Jews, and expired, and
that, being raised up after three days, he appeared to his disciples.
And (the Savior) showed them, (so Apelles taught,) the prints of the
nails and (the wound) in his side, desirous of persuading them that he
was in truth no phantom, but was present in the flesh. After, says
(Apelles), he had shown them his flesh, (the Savior) restored it to
earth, from which substance it was (derived. And this he did because)
he coveted nothing that belonged to another. (Though indeed Jesus)
might use for the time being (what belonged to another), he yet in due
course rendered to each (of the elements) what peculiarly belonged to
them. And so it was, that after he had once more loosed the chains of
his body, he gave back heat to what is hot, cold to what is cold,
moisture to what is moist, (and) dryness to what is dry. And in this
condition (our Lord) departed to the good Father, leaving the seed of
life in the world for those who through his disciples should believe in
It appears to us that these (tenets) have been sufficiently explained. Since, however, we have determined to leave unrefuted not one of those opinions that have been advanced by any (of the heretics), let us see what (system) also has been invented by the Docetae.
The following are the contents of the eighth book of the Refutation of all Heresies:—
What are the opinions of the Docetae, and that they have formed the doctrines which they assert from natural philosophy.
How Monoimus trifles, devoting his attention to poets, and geometricians, and arithmeticians.
How (the system of) Tatian has arisen from the opinions of Valentinus and Marcion, and how this heretic (from this source) has formed his own doctrines. Hermogenes, however, availed himself of the tenets of Socrates, not those of Christ.
How those err who contend for keeping Easter on the fourteenth day. What the error is of the Phrygians, who suppose that Montanus, and Priscilla, and Maximilla, are prophets.
What the conceit is of the Encratites, and that their opinions have been formed not from the Holy Scriptures, but from themselves, and the Gymnosophists among the Indians.
Since the great body of (the heretics) do not employ the counsel of the Lord, by having the beam in the eye, and announce that they see when in reality laboring under blindness, it seems to us expedient in no wise to be silent concerning the tenets of these. Our object is, that by the refutation accomplished by us, the (heretics), being of themselves ashamed, may be brought to know how the Savior has advised (men) first to take away the beam, then to behold clearly the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. Having therefore adequately and sufficiently explained the doctrines of the majority (of the heretics) in the seven books before this, we shall not now be silent as regards the (heterodox) opinions that follow (from these). We shall by this means exhibit the abundance of the grace of the Holy Spirit; and we shall refute those (who suppose) that they have acquired steadfastness of doctrine, when it is only in appearance. Now these have styled themselves Docetae, and propound the following opinions:—
(The Docetae maintain) that God is the primal (Being), as it were a seed of a fig-tree, which is altogether very diminutive in size, but infinite in power. (This seed constitutes, according to the Docetae,) a lowly magnitude, incalculable in multitude, (and) laboring under no deficiency as regards generation. (This seed is) a refuge for the terror-stricken, a shelter of the naked, a veil for modesty, (and) the sought-for produce, to which He came in search (for fruit), he says, three times, and did not discover (any). Wherefore, he says, He cursed the fig-tree, because He did not find upon it that sweet fruit — the sought-for produce. And inasmuch as the Deity is, according to them to express myself briefly — of this description and so great, that is, small and minute, the world, as it seems to them, was made in some such manner as the following: When the branches of the fig-tree became tender, leaves budded (first), as one may (generally) see, and next in succession the fruit. Now, in this (fruit) is preserved treasured the infinite and incalculable seed of the fig-tree. We think, therefore, (say the Docetae,) that there are three (parts) which are primarily produced by the seed of the fig-tree, (viz.,) stem, which constitutes the fig-tree, leaves, and fruit — the fig itself, as we have previously declared. In this manner, the (Docetic) affirms, have been produced three Aeons, which are principles from the primal originating cause of the universe. And Moses has not been silent on this point, when he says, that there are three words of God, “darkness, gloom, tempest, and added no more.” For the (Docetic) says, God has made no addition to the three Aeons; but these, in every respect. have been sufficient for (the exigencies of) those who have been begotten and are sufficient. God Himself, however, remains with Himself, far separated from the three Aeons. When each of these Aeons had obtained an originating cause of generation, he grew, as has been declared, by little and little, and (by degrees) was magnified, and (ultimately) became perfect. But they think that that is perfect which is reckoned at ten. When, therefore, the Aeons had become equal in number and in perfection, they were, as (the Docetae) are of opinion, constituted thirty Aeons in all, while each of them attains full perfection in a decade. And the three are mutually distinct, and hold one (degree of) honor relatively to one another, differing in position merely, because one of them is first, and the other second, and the other of these third. Position, however, afforded them diversity of power. For he who has obtained a position nearest to the primal Deity — who is, as it were, a seed — possessed a more productive power than the rest, inasmuch as he himself who is the immeasurable one, measured himself tenfold in bulk. He, however, who in position is second to the primal Deity, has, inasmuch as he is the incomprehensible one, comprehended himself sixfold. But he who is now third in position is conveyed to an infinite distance, in consequence of the dilatation of his brethren. (And when this third Aeon) had thrice realized himself in thought, he encircled himself with, as it were, some eternal chain of union.
And these (heretics) suppose that this is what is spoken by the Savior: “A sower went forth to sow; and that which fell on the fair and good ground produced, some a hundred-fold, and some sixty-fold, and some thirty-fold.” And for this reason, the (Docetic) says, (that the Savior) has spoken the words, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,” because these (truths) are not altogether rumors. All these Aeons, both the three and all those infinite (Aeons which proceed) from these indefinitely, are hermaphrodite Aeons. All these, then, after they had been increased and magnified, and had sprung from that one primary seed, (were actuated by a spirit) of concord and union, and they all coalesced into one Aeon. And in this manner they begot of a single virgin, Mary, a joint offspring, who is a Mediator, (that is,) the Savior of all who are in the (covenant of) mediation. (And this Savior is,) in every respect, coequal in power with the seed of the fig-tree, with the exception that he was generated. Whereas that primary seed, from whence the fig-tree sprung, is unbegotten. When, therefore, those three Aeons were adorned with all virtue and with all sanctity, so these teachers suppose, as well as that only begotten child — for he alone was begotten by those infinite Aeons from three immediately concerned in his birth, for three immeasurable Aeons being unanimous procreated him; — (after, I say, the Aeons and only Son were thus adorned,) the entire nature, which is cognized by intellect, was fashioned free from deficiency. Now, all those intelligible and eternal (entities) constituted light. Light, however, was not devoid of form, nor inoperative, nor in want, as it were, of the assistance of any (other power). But (light) proportionately with the multitude of those infinite (Aeons) indefinitely (generated) in conformity with the exemplar of the fig-tree, possesses in itself infinite species of various animals indigenous to that quarter of creation, and it shone down upon the underlying chaos. And when this (chaos) was simultaneously illuminated, and had form imparted to it by those diversified species from above, it derived (thereby) solidity, and acquired all those supernal species from the third Aeon, who had made himself threefold.
This third Aeon, however, beholding all his own distinctive attributes laid hold on collectively by the underlying darkness (which was) beneath, and not being ignorant of the power of darkness, and at the same time of the security and profusion of light, did not allow his brilliant attributes (which he derived) from above for any length of time to be snatched away by the darkness beneath. But (he acted in quite a contrary manner), for he subjected (darkness) to the Aeons. After, then, he had formed the firmament over the nether world, “he both divided the darkness from the light, and called the light which was above the firmament day, and the darkness he called night.” When all the infinite species, then, as I have said, of the third Aeon were intercepted in this the lowest darkness, the figure also of the Aeon himself, such as he has been described, was impressed (upon them) along with the rest (of his attributes). (Now this figure is) a life-giving fire, which is generated from light, from whence the Great Archon originated. And respecting this (Archon) Moses observes: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Moses mentions this fiery God as having spoken from the bush, (batos,) that is, from the darkish air. For the whole of the atmosphere that underlies the darkness is (batos, i.e.,) a medium for the transmission of light. Now Moses has employed, says (the Docetic), the expression batos, because all the species of light pass down from above by means of their having the atmosphere as a medium (batos) of transmission. And in no less degree is capable of being recognized the Word of Jehovah addressed to us from the bush (batos, i.e., an atmospheric medium); for voice, as significant (in language) of a meaning, is a reverberation of air, and without this (atmosphere) human speech is incapable of being recognized. And not only the Word (of Jehovah addressed) to us from the bush (batos), that is, the air, legislates and is a fellow-citizen with (us); but (it does more than this), for both odors and colors manifest to us, through the medium of air, their own (peculiar) qualities.
This fiery deity, then, after he became fire from light, proceeded to create the world in the manner which Moses describes. He himself, however, as devoid of subsistence, employs the darkness as (his) substance, and perpetually insults those eternal attributes of light which, (being) from above, had been laid hold on by (the darkness) beneath. Up to the time, therefore, of the appearance of the Savior, there prevailed, by reason of the Deity of fiery light, (that is,) the Demiurge, a certain extensive delusion of souls. For the species are styled souls, because they are refrigerations from the (Aeons) above, and continue in darkness. But when (the souls) are altered from bodies to bodies, they remain under the guardianship of the Demiurge. And that these things are so, says (the Docetic), it is possible also to perceive from Job, when he uses the following words: “And I am a wanderer, changing both place after place, and house after house.” And (we may learn, according to the Docetae, the same) from the expressions of the Savior, “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias that was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” But by the instrumentality of the Savior this transference of souls from body to body was made to cease, and faith is preached for remission of sins. After some such manner, that only begotten Son, when He gazes upon the forms of the supernal Aeons, which were transferred from above into darkish bodies, coming down, wished to descend and deliver them. When (the Son), however, became aware that the Aeons, those (that subsist) collectively, are unable to behold the Pleroma of all the Aeons, but that in a state of consternation they fear lest they may undergo corruption as being themselves perishable, and that they are overwhelmed by the magnitude and splendor of power; — (when the Son, I say, perceived this,) He contracted Himself — as it were a very great flash in a very small body, nay, rather as a ray of vision condensed beneath the eyelids, and (in this condition) He advances forth as far as heaven and the effulgent stars. And in this quarter of creation He again collects himself beneath the lids of vision according as He wishes it. Now the light of vision accomplishes the same effect; for though it is everywhere, and (renders visible) all things, it is yet imperceptible to us. We, however, merely see lids of vision, while corners (of the eye), a tissue which is broad, tortuous, (and) exceedingly fibrous, a membrane of the cornea; and underneath this, the pupil, which is shaped as a berry, is net-like and round. (And we observe) whatever other membranes there are that belong to the light of the eye, and enveloped in which it lies concealed.
Thus, says (the Docetic), the only-begotten (and) eternal Child from above arrayed Himself in a form to correspond with each individual Aeon of the three Aeons; and while he was within the triacontad of Aeons, He entered into this world just as we have described Him, unnoticed, unknown, obscure, and disbelieved. In order, therefore, say the Docetae, that He may be clad in the darkness that is prevalent in more distant quarters of creation — (now by darkness he means) flesh — an angel journeyed with Him from above, and announced the glad tidings to Mary, says (the Docetic), as it has been written. And the (child) from her was born, as it has been written. And He who came from above put on that which was born; and so did He all things, as it has been written (of Him) in the Gospels. He washed in Jordan, and when He was baptized He received a figure and a seal in the water of (another spiritual body beside) the body born of the Virgin. (And the object of this was,) when the Archon condemned his own peculiar figment (of flesh) to death, (that is,) to the cross, that that soul which had been nourished in the body (born of the Virgin) might strip off that body and nail it to the (accursed) tree. (In this way the soul) would triumph by means of this (body) over principalities and powers, and would not be found naked, but would, instead of that flesh, assume the (other) body, which had been represented in the water when he was being baptized. This is, says (the Docetic), what the Savior affirms: “Except a man be born of water and spirit, he will not enter into the kingdom of heaven, because that which is born of the flesh is flesh.” From the thirty Aeons, therefore, (the Son) assumed thirty forms. And for this reason that eternal One existed for thirty years on the earth, because each Aeon was in a peculiar manner manifested during (his own) year. And the souls are all those forms that have been laid hold on by each of the thirty Aeons; and each of these is so constituted as to discern Jesus, who is of a nature (similar to their own). (And it was the nature of this Jesus) which that only-begotten and eternal One assumed from everlasting places. These (places), however, are diverse. Consequently, a proportionate number of heresies, with the utmost emulation, seek Jesus. Now all these heresies have their own peculiar Jesus; but he is seen differently according as the place is different towards which, he says, each soul is born and hastens. (Now each soul) supposes that (the Jesus seen from its particular place) is alone that (Jesus) who is its own peculiar kinsman and fellow-citizen. And on first beholding (this Jesus, that soul) recognizes Him as its own peculiar brother, but the rest as bastards. Those, then, that derive their nature from the places below, are not able to see the forms of the Savior which are above them. Those, however, he says, who are from above, from the intermediate decade and the most excellent ogdoad — whence, say (the Docetae), we are — have themselves known not in part, but entirely, Jesus the Savior. And those, who are from above, are alone perfect, but all the rest are only partially so.
These (statements), therefore, I consider sufficient to properly-constituted minds for the purpose of attaining unto a knowledge of the complicated and unstable heresy of the Docetae. (But) those who have propounded attempted arguments about inaccessible and incomprehensible Matter, have styled themselves Docetae. Now, we consider that some of these are acting foolishly, we will not say in appearance, but in reality. At all events, we have proved that a beam from such matter is carried in the eye, if by any means they may be enabled to perceive it. If, however, they do not (discern it, our object is) that they should not make others blind. But the fact is, that the sophists of the Greeks in ancient times have previously devised, in many particulars, the doctrines of these (Docetae), as it is possible for my readers (who take the trouble) to ascertain. These, then, are the opinions propounded by the Docetae. As to what likewise, however, are the tenets of Monoimus, we shall not be silent.
Monoimus the Arabian was far removed from the glory of the high-sounding poet. (For Monoimus) supposes that there is some such man as the poet (calls) Oceanus, expressing himself somehow thus: —
“Oceanus, source of gods and source of men.”
Changing these (sentiments) into other words, Monoimus says that man is the universe. Now the universe is the originating cause of all things, unbegotten, incorruptible, (and) eternal. And (he says) that the son of (the) man previously spoken of is begotten, and subject to passion, (and) that he is generated independently of time, (as well as) undesignedly, (and) without being predestinated. For such, he says, is the power of that man. And he being thus constituted in power, (Monoimus alleges) that the son was born quicker than thought and volition. And this, he says, is what has been spoken in the Scriptures, “He was, and was generated.” And the meaning of this is: Man was, and his son was generated; just as one may say, Fire was, and, independently of time, and undesignedly, and without being predestinated, light was generated simultaneously with the existence of the fire. And this man constitutes a single monad, which is uncompounded and indivisible, (and yet at the same time) compounded (and) divisible. (And this monad is) in all respects friendly (and) in all respects peaceful, in all respects quarrelsome (and) in all respects contentious with itself, dissimilar (and) similar. (This monad is likewise,) as it were, a certain musical harmony, which comprises all things in itself, as many as one may express and may omit when not considering; and it manifests all things, and generates all things. This (is) Mother, this (is) Father — two immortal names. As an illustration, however, consider, he says, as a greatest image of the perfect man, the one jot — that one tittle. And this one tittle is an uncompounded, simple, and pure monad, which derives its composition from nothing at all. (And yet this tittle is likewise) compounded, multiform, branching into many sections, and consisting of many parts. That one indivisible tittle is, he says, one tittle of the (letter) iota, with many faces, and innumerable eyes, and countless names, and this (tittle) is an image of that perfect invisible man.
The monad, (that is,) the one tittle, is therefore, he says, also a decade. For by the actual power of this one tittle, are produced duad, and triad, and tetrad, and pentad, and hexad, and heptad, and ogdoad, and ennead, up to ten. For these numbers, he says, are capable of many divisions, and they reside in that simple and uncompounded single tittle of the iota. And this is what has been declared: “It pleased (God) that all fullness should dwell in the Son of man bodily.” For such compositions of numbers out of the simple and uncompounded one tittle of the iota become, he says, corporeal realities. The Son of man, therefore, he says, has been generated from the perfect man, whom no one knew; every creature who is ignorant of the Son, however, forms an idea of Him as the offspring of a woman. And certain very obscure rays of this Son which approach this world, check and control alteration (and) generation. And the beauty of that Son of man is up to the present incomprehensible to all men, as many as are deceived in reference to the offspring of the woman. Therefore nothing, he says, of the things that are in our quarter of creation has been produced by that man, nor will aught (of these) ever be (generated from him). All things, however, have been produced, not from the entirety, but from some part of that Son of man. For he says the Son of man is a jot in one tittle, which proceeds from above, is full, and completely replenishes all (rays flowing down from above). And it comprises in itself whatever things the man also possesses (who is) the Father of the Son of man.
The world, then, as Moses says, was made in six days, that is, by six powers, which (are inherent) in the one tittle of the iota. (But) the seventh (day, which is) a rest and Sabbath, has been produced from the Hebdomad, which is over earth, and water, and fire, and air. And from these (elements) the world has been formed by the one tittle. For cubes, and octahedrons, and pyramids, and all figures similar to these, out of which consist fire, air, water, (and) earth, have arisen from numbers which are comprehended in that simple tittle of the iota. And this (tittle) constitutes a perfect son of a perfect man. When, therefore, he says, Moses mentions that the rod was changeably brandished for the (introduction of the) plagues throughout Egypt — now these plagues, he says, are allegorically expressed symbols of the creation — he did not (as a symbol) for more plagues than ten shape the rod. Now this (rod) constitutes one tittle of the iota, and is (both) twofold (and) various. This succession of ten plagues is, he says, the mundane creation. For all things, by being stricken, bring forth and bear fruit, just like vines. Man, he says, bursts forth, and is forcibly separated from man by being severed by a certain stroke. (And this takes place) in order that (man) may be generated, and may declare the law which Moses ordained, who received (it) from God. Conformably with that one tittle, the law constitutes the series of the ten commandments which expresses allegorically the divine mysteries of (those) precepts. For, he says, all knowledge of the universe is contained in what relates to the succession of the ten plagues and the series of the ten commandments. And no one is acquainted with this (knowledge) who is (of the number) of those that are deceived concerning the offspring of the woman. If, however, you say that the Pentateuch constitutes the entire law, it is from the Pentad which is comprehended in the one tittle. But the entire is for those who have not been altogether perfected in understanding a mystery, a new and not antiquated feast, legal, (and) everlasting, a passover of the Lord God kept unto our generations, by those who are able to discern (this mystery), at the commencement of the fourteenth day, which is the beginning of a decade from which, he says, they reckon. For the monad, as far as fourteen, is the summary of that one (tittle) of the perfect number. For one, two, three, four, become ten; and this is the one tittle. But from fourteen until twenty-one, he asserts that there is an Hebdomad which inheres in the one tittle of the world, and constitutes an unleavened creature in all these. For in what respect, he says, would the one tittle require any substance such as leaven (derived) from without for the Lord’s Passover, the eternal feast, which is given for generation upon generation? For the entire world and all causes of creation constitute a passover, (i.e.,) a feast of the Lord. For God rejoices in the conversion of the creation, and this is accomplished by ten strokes of the one tittle. And this (tittle) is Moses’ rod, which was given by God into the hand of Moses. And with this (rod Moses) smites the Egyptians, for the purpose of altering bodies, — as, for instance, water into blood; and the rest of (material) things similarly with these, — (as, for example,) the locusts, which is a symbol of grass. And by this he means the alteration of the elements into flesh; “for all flesh,” he says, “is grass.” These men, nevertheless receive even the entire law after some such manner; adopting very probably, as I think, the opinions of those of the Greeks who affirm that there are Substance, and Quality, and Quantity, and Relation, and Place, and Time, and Position, and Action, and Possession, and Passion.
Monoimus himself, accordingly, in his letter to Theophrastus, expressly makes the following statement: “Omitting to seek after God, and creation, and things similar to these, seek for Him from (out of) thyself, and learn who it is that absolutely appropriates (unto Himself) all things in thee, and says, ‘My God (is) my mind, my understanding, my soul, my body.’ And learn from whence are sorrow, and joy, and love, and hatred, and involuntary wakefulness, and involuntary drowsiness, and involuntary anger, and involuntary affection; and if,” he says, “you accurately investigate these (points), you will discover (God) Himself, unity and plurality, in thyself, according to that tittle, and that He finds the outlet (for Deity) to be from thyself.” Those (heretics), then, (have made) these (statements). But we are under no necessity of comparing such (doctrines) with what have previously been subjects of meditation on the part of the Greeks, inasmuch as the assertions advanced by these (heretics) evidently derive their origin from geometrical and arithmetical art. The disciples, however, of Pythagoras, expounded this (art) after a more excellent method, as our readers may ascertain by consulting those passages (of our work) in which we have previously furnished expositions of the entire wisdom of the Greeks. But since the heresy of Monoimus has been sufficiently refuted, let us see what are the fictitious doctrines which the rest also (of these heretics) devise, in their desire to set up for themselves an empty name.
Tatian, however, although being himself a disciple of Justinus the Martyr, did not entertain similar opinions with his master. But he attempted (to establish) certain novel (tenets), and affirmed that there existed certain invisible Aeons. And he framed a legendary account (of them), similarly to those (spoken of) by Valentinus. And similarly with Marcion, he asserts that marriage is destruction. But he alleges that Adam is not saved on account of his having been the author of disobedience. And so far for the doctrines of Tatian.
But a certain Hermogenes, himself also imagining that he propounded some novel opinion, said that God made all things out of coeval and ungenerated matter. For that it was impossible that God could make generated things out of things that are not. And that God is always Lord, and always Creator, and matter always a subservient (substance), and that which is assuming phases of being — not, however, the whole of it. For when it was being continually moved in a rude and disorderly manner, He reduced (matter) into order by the following expedient. As He gazed (upon matter) in a seething condition, like (the contents of) a pot when a fire is burning underneath, He effected a partial separation. And taking one portion from the whole, He subdued it, but another He allowed to be whirled in a disorderly manner. And he asserts that what was (thus) subdued is the world, but that another portion remains wild, and is denominated chaotic matter. He asserts that this constitutes the substance of all things, as if introducing a novel tenet for his disciples. He does not, however, reflect that this happens to be the Socratic discourse, which (indeed) is worked out more elaborately by Plato than by Hermogenes. He acknowledges, however, that Christ is the Son of the God who created all things; and along with (this admission), he confesses that he was born of a virgin and of (the) Spirit, according to the voice of the Gospels. And (Hermogenes maintains that Christ), after His passion, was raised up in a body, and that He appeared to His disciples, and that as He went up into heaven He left His body in the sun, but that He Himself proceeded on to the Father. Now (Hermogenes) resorts to testimony, thinking to support himself by what is spoken, (viz.) what the Psalmist David says: “In the sun he hath placed his tabernacle, and himself (is) as a bridegroom coming forth from his nuptial chamber, (and) he will rejoice as a giant to run his course.” These, then, are the opinions which also Hermogenes attempted to establish.
And certain other (heretics), contentious by nature, (and) wholly uniformed as regards knowledge, as well as in their manner more (than usually) quarrelsome, combine (in maintaining) that Easter should be kept on the fourteenth day of the first month, according to the commandment of the law, on whatever day (of the week) it should occur. (But in this) they only regard what has been written in the law, that he will be accursed who does not so keep (the commandment) as it is enjoined. They do not, however, attend to this (fact), that the legal enactment was made for Jews, who in times to come should kill the real Passover. And this (paschal sacrifice, in its efficacy,) has spread unto the Gentiles, and is discerned by faith, and not now observed in letter (merely). They attend to this one commandment, and do not look unto what has been spoken by the apostle: “For I testify to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.” In other respects, however, these consent to all the traditions delivered to the Church by the Apostles.
But there are others who themselves are even more heretical in nature (than the foregoing), and are Phrygians by birth. These have been rendered victims of error from being previously captivated by (two) wretched women, called a certain Priscilla and Maximilla, whom they supposed (to be) prophetesses. And they assert that into these the Paraclete Spirit had departed; and antecedently to them, they in like manner consider Montanus as a prophet. And being in possession of an infinite number of their books, (the Phrygians) are overrun with delusion; and they do not judge whatever statements are made by them, according to (the criterion of) reason; nor do they give heed unto those who are competent to decide; but they are heedlessly swept onwards, by the reliance which they place on these (impostors). And they allege that they have learned something more through these, than from law, and prophets, and the Gospels. But they magnify these wretched women above the Apostles and every gift of Grace, so that some of them presume to assert that there is in them a something superior to Christ. These acknowledge God to be the Father of the universe, and Creator of all things, similarly with the Church, and (receive) as many things as the Gospel testifies concerning Christ. They introduce, however, the novelties of fasts, and feasts, and meals of parched food, and repasts of radishes, alleging that they have been instructed by women. And some of these assent to the heresy of the Noetians, and affirm that the Father himself is the Son, and that this (one) came under generation, and suffering, and death. Concerning these I shall again offer an explanation, after a more minute manner; for the heresy of these has been an occasion of evils to many. We therefore are of opinion, that the statements made concerning these (heretics) are sufficient when we shall have briefly proved to all that the majority of their books are silly, and their attempts (at reasoning) weak, and worthy of no consideration. But it is not necessary for those who possess a sound mind to pay attention (either to their volumes or their arguments).
Others, however, styling themselves Encratites, acknowledge some things concerning God and Christ in like manner with the Church. In respect, however, of their mode of life, they pass their days inflated with pride. They suppose that by meats they magnify themselves, while abstaining from animal food, (and) being water-drinkers, and forbidding to marry, and devoting themselves during the remainder of life to habits of asceticism. But persons of this description are estimated Cynics rather than Christians, inasmuch as they do not attend unto the words spoken against them through the Apostle Paul. Now he, predicting the novelties that were to be hereafter introduced ineffectually by certain (heretics), made a statement thus: “The Spirit speaketh expressly, In the latter times certain will depart from sound doctrine, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, uttering falsehoods in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats, which God has created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by the faithful, and those who know the truth; because every creature of God is good, and nothing to be rejected which is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” This voice, then, of the blessed Paul, is sufficient for the refutation of those who live in this manner, and plume themselves on being just; (and) for the purpose of proving that also, this (tenet of the Encratites) constitutes a heresy. But even though there have been denominated certain other heresies — I mean those of the Cainites, Ophites, or Noachites, and of others of this description — I have not deemed it requisite to explain the things said or done by these, lest on this account they may consider themselves somebody, or deserving of consideration. Since, however, the statements concerning these appear to be sufficient, let us pass on to the cause of evils to all, (viz.,) the heresy of the Noetians. Now, after we have laid bare the root of this (heresy), and stigmatized openly the venom, as it were, lurking within it, let us seek to deter from an error of this description those who have been impelled into it by a violent spirit, as it were by a swollen torrent.
The following are the contents of the ninth book of the Refutation of all Heresies: —
What the blasphemous folly is of Noetus, and that he devoted himself to the tenets of Heraclitus the Obscure, not to those of Christ.
And how Callistus, intermingling the heresy of Cleomenes, the disciple of Noetus, with that of Theodotus, constructed another more novel heresy, and what sort the life of this (heretic) was.
What was the recent arrival (at Rome) of the strange spirit Elchasai, and that there served as a concealment of his peculiar errors his apparent adhesion to the law, when in point of fact he devotes himself to the tenets of the Gnostics, or even of the astrologists, and to the arts of sorcery.
What the customs of the Jews are, and how many diversities of opinion there are (amongst them).
A lengthened conflict, then, having been maintained concerning all heresies by us who, at all events, have not left any unrefuted, the greatest struggle now remains behind, viz., to furnish an account and refutation of those heresies that have sprung up in our own day, by which certain ignorant and presumptuous men have attempted to scatter abroad the Church, and have introduced the greatest confusion among all the faithful throughout the entire world. For it seems expedient that we, making an onslaught upon the opinion which constitutes the prime source of (contemporaneous) evils, should prove what are the originating principles of this (opinion), in order that its offshoots, becoming a matter of general notoriety, may be made the object of universal scorn.
There has appeared one, Noetus by name, and by birth a native of Smyrna. This person introduced a heresy from the tenets of Heraclitus. Now a certain man called Epigonus becomes his minister and pupil, and this person during his sojourn at Rome disseminated his godless opinion. But Cleomenes, who had become his disciple, an alien both in way of life and habits from the Church, was wont to corroborate the (Noetian) doctrine. At that time, Zephyrinus imagines that he administers the affairs of the Church — an uninformed and shamefully corrupt man. And he, being persuaded by proffered gain, was accustomed to connive at those who were present for the purpose of becoming disciples of Cleomenes. But (Zephyrinus) himself, being in process of time enticed away, hurried headlong into the same opinions; and he had Callistus as his adviser, and a fellow-champion of these wicked tenets. But the life of this (Callistus), and the heresy invented by him, I shall after a little explain. The school of these heretics during the succession of such bishops, continued to acquire strength and augmentation, from the fact that Zephyrinus and Callistus helped them to prevail. Never at any time, however, have we been guilty of collusion with them; but we have frequently offered them opposition, and have refuted them, and have forced them reluctantly to acknowledge the truth. And they, abashed and constrained by the truth, have confessed their errors for a short period, but after a little, wallow once again in the same mire.
But since we have exhibited the succession of their genealogy, it seems expedient next that we should also explain the depraved teaching involved in their doctrines. For this purpose we shall first adduce the opinions advanced by Heraclitus “the Obscure,” and we shall next make manifest what are the portions of these opinions that are of Heraclitean origin. Such parts of their system its present champions are not aware belong to the “Obscure” philosopher, but they imagine them to belong to Christ. But if they might happen to fall in with the following observations, perhaps they thus might be put out of countenance, and induced to desist from this godless blasphemy of theirs. Now, even though the opinion of Heraclitus has been expounded by us previously in the Philosophumena, it nevertheless seems expedient now also to set down side by side in contrast the two systems, in order that by this closer refutation they may be evidently instructed. I mean the followers of this (heretic), who imagine themselves to be disciples of Christ, when in reality they are not so, but of “the Obscure.”
Heraclitus then says that the universe is one, divisible and indivisible; generated and ungenerated; mortal and immortal; reason, eternity; Father, Son, and justice, God. “For those who hearken not to me, but the doctrine, it is wise that they acknowledge all things to be one,” says Heraclitus; and because all do not know or confess this, he utters a reproof somewhat in the following terms: “People do not understand how what is diverse (nevertheless) coincides with itself, just like the inverse harmony of a bow and lyre.” But that Reason always exists, inasmuch as it constitutes the universe, and as it pervades all things, he affirms in this manner. “But in regard of this Reason, which always exists, men are continually devoid of understanding, both before they have heard of it and in first hearing of it. For though all things take place according to this Reason, they seem like persons devoid of any experience regarding it. Still they attempt both words and works of such a description as I am giving an account of, by making a division according to nature, and declaring how things are.” And that a Son is the universe and throughout endless ages an eternal king of all things, he thus asserts: “A sporting child, playing at his dice, is eternity; the kingdom is that of a child.” And that the Father of all things that have been generated is an unbegotten creature who is creator, let us hear Heraclitus affirming in these words: “Contrariety is a progenitor of all things, and king of all; and it exhibited some as gods, but others as men, and made some slaves, whereas others free.” And (he likewise affirms) that there is “a harmony, as in a bow and lyre.” That obscure harmony (is better), though unknown and invisible to men, he asserts in these words: “An obscure harmony is preferable to an obvious one.” He commends and admires before what is known, that which is unknown and invisible in regard of its power. And that harmony visible to men, and not incapable of being discovered, is better, he asserts in these words: “Whatever things are objects of vision, hearing, and intelligence, these I pre-eminently honor,” he says; that is, he prefers things visible to those that are invisible. From such expressions of his it is easy to understand the spirit of his philosophy. “Men,” he says, “are deceived in reference to the knowledge of manifest things similarly with Homer, who was wiser than all the Greeks. For even children killing vermin deceived him, when they said, ‘What we have seen and seized, these we leave behind; whereas what we neither have seen nor seized, these we carry away.’”
In this manner Heraclitus assigns to the visible an equality of position and honor with the invisible, as if what was visible and what was invisible were confessedly some one thing. For he says, “An obscure harmony is preferable to an obvious one;” and, “Whatsoever things are objects of vision, hearing, and intelligence,” that is, of the (corporeal) organs, — “these,” he says, “I pre-eminently honor,” not (on this occasion, though previously), having pre-eminently honored invisible things. Therefore neither darkness, nor light, nor evil, nor good, Heraclitus affirms, is different, but one and the same thing. At all events, he censures Hesiod because he knew not day and night. For day, he says, and night are one, expressing himself somehow thus: “The teacher, however, of a vast amount of information is Hesiod, and people suppose this poet to be possessed of an exceedingly large store of knowledge, and yet he did not know (the nature of) day and night, for they are one.” As regards both what is good and what is bad, (they are, according to Heraclitus, likewise) one. “Physicians, undoubtedly,” says Heraclitus, “when they make incisions and cauterize, though in every respect they wickedly torture the sick, complain that they do not receive fitting remuneration from their patients, notwithstanding that they perform these salutary operations upon diseases.” And both straight and twisted are, he says, the same. “The way is straight and curved of the carders of wool;” and the circular movement of an instrument in the fuller’s shop called “a screw” is straight and curved, for it revolves up and circularly at the same time. “One and the same,” he says, “are, therefore, straight and curved.” And upward and downward, he says, are one and the same. “The way up and the way down are the same.” And he says that what is filthy and what is pure are one and the same, and what is drinkable and unfit for drink are one and the same. “Sea,” he says, “is water very pure and very foul, drinkable to fishes no doubt, and salutary for them, but not fit to be used as drink by men, and (for them) pernicious.” And, confessedly, he asserts that what is immortal is mortal, and that what is mortal is immortal, in the following expressions: “Immortals are mortal, and mortals are immortal, that is, when the one derive life from death, and the other death from life.” And he affirms also that there is a resurrection of this palpable flesh in which we have been born; and he knows God to be the cause of this resurrection, expressing himself in this manner: “Those that are here will God enable to arise and become guardians of quick and dead.” And he likewise affirms that a judgment of the world and all things in it takes place by fire, expressing himself thus: “Now, thunder pilots all things,” that is, directs them, meaning by the thunder everlasting fire. But he also asserts that this fire is endued with intelligence, and a cause of the management of the Universe, and he denominates it craving and satiety. Now craving is, according to him, the arrangement of the world, whereas satiety its destruction. “For,” says he, “the fire, coming upon the earth, will judge and seize all things.”
But in this chapter Heraclitus simultaneously explains the entire peculiarity of his mode of thinking, but at the same time the (characteristic quality) of the heresy of Noetus. And I have briefly demonstrated Noetus to be not a disciple of Christ, but of Heraclitus. For this philosopher asserts that the primal world is itself the Demiurge and creator of itself in the following passage: “God is day, night; winter, summer; war, peace; surfeit, famine.” All things are contraries — this appears his meaning — “but an alteration takes place, just as if incense were mixed with other sorts of incense, but denominated according to the pleasurable sensation produced by each sort.” Now it is evident to all that the silly successors of Noetus, and the champions of his heresy, even though they have not been hearers of the discourses of Heraclitus, nevertheless, at any rate when they adopt the opinions of Noetus, undisguisedly acknowledge these (Heraclitean) tenets. For they advance statements after this manner — that one and the same God is the Creator and Father of all things; and that when it pleased Him, He nevertheless appeared, (though invisible,) to just men of old. For when He is not seen He is invisible; and He is incomprehensible when He does not wish to be comprehended, but comprehensible when he is comprehended. Wherefore it is that, according to the same account, He is invincible and vincible, unbegotten and begotten, immortal and mortal. How shall not persons holding this description of opinions be proved to be disciples of Heraclitus? Did not (Heraclitus) the Obscure anticipate Noetus in framing a system of philosophy, according to identical modes of expression?
Now, that Noetus affirms that the Son and Father are the same, no one is ignorant. But he makes his statement thus: “When indeed, then, the Father had not been born, He yet was justly styled Father; and when it pleased Him to undergo generation, having been begotten, He Himself became His own Son, not another’s.” For in this manner he thinks to establish the sovereignty of God, alleging that Father and Son, so called, are one and the same (substance), not one individual produced from a different one, but Himself from Himself; and that He is styled by name Father and Son, according to vicissitude of times. But that He is one who has appeared (amongst us), both having submitted to generation from a virgin, and as a man having held converse among men. And, on account of the birth that had taken place, He confessed Himself to those beholding Him a Son, no doubt; yet He made no secret to those who could comprehend Him of His being a Father. That this person suffered by being fastened to the tree, and that He commended His spirit unto Himself, having died to appearance, and not being (in reality) dead. And He raised Himself up the third day, after having been interred in a sepulcher, and wounded with a spear, and perforated with nails. Cleomenes asserts, in common with his band of followers, that this person is God and Father of the universe, and thus introduces among many an obscurity (of thought) such as we find in the philosophy of Heraclitus.
Callistus attempted to confirm this heresy, — a man cunning in wickedness, and subtle where deceit was concerned, (and) who was impelled by restless ambition to mount the episcopal throne. Now this man molded to his purpose Zephyrinus, an ignorant and illiterate individual, and one unskilled in ecclesiastical definitions. And inasmuch as Zephyrinus was accessible to bribes, and covetous, Callistus, by luring him through presents, and by illicit demands, was enabled to seduce him into whatever course of action he pleased. And so it was that Callistus succeeded in inducing Zephyrinus to create continually disturbances among the brethren, while he himself took care subsequently, by knavish words, to attach both factions in goodwill to himself. And, at one time, to those who entertained true opinions, he would in private allege that they held similar doctrines (with himself), and thus make them his dupes; while at another time he would act similarly towards those (who embraced) the tenets of Sabellius. But Callistus perverted Sabellius himself, and this, too, though he had the ability of rectifying this heretic’s error. For (at any time) during our admonition Sabellius did not evince obduracy; but as long as he continued alone with Callistus, he was wrought upon to relapse into the system of Cleomenes by this very Callistus, who alleges that he entertains similar opinions to Cleomenes. Sabellius, however, did not then perceive the knavery of Callistus; but he afterwards came to be aware of it, as I shall narrate presently.
Now Callistus brought forward Zephyrinus himself, and induced him publicly to avow the following sentiments: “I know that there is one God, Jesus Christ; nor except Him do I know any other that is begotten and amenable to suffering.” And on another occasion, when he would make the following statement: “The Father did not die, but the Son.” Zephyrinus would in this way continue to keep up ceaseless disturbance among the people. And we, becoming aware of his sentiments, did not give place to him, but reproved and withstood him for the truth’s sake. And he hurried headlong into folly, from the fact that all consented to his hypocrisy — we, however, did not do so — and called us worshippers of two gods, disgorging, independent of compulsion, the venom lurking within him. It would seem to us desirable to explain the life of this heretic, inasmuch as he was born about the same time with ourselves, in order that, by the exposure of the habits of a person of this description, the heresy attempted to be established by him may be easily known, and may perchance be regarded as silly, by those endued with intelligence. This Callistus became a “martyr” at the period when Fuscianus was prefect of Rome, and the mode of his “martyrdom” was as follows.
Callistus happened to be a domestic of one Carpophorus, a man of the faith belonging to the household of Caesar. To this Callistus, as being of the faith, Carpophorus committed no inconsiderable amount of money, and directed him to bring in profitable returns from the banking business. And he, receiving the money, tried (the experiment of) a bank in what is called the Piscina Publica. And in process of time were entrusted to him not a few deposits by widows and brethren, under the ostensive cause of lodging their money with Carpophorus. Callistus, however, made away with all (the moneys committed to him), and became involved in pecuniary difficulties. And after having practiced such conduct as this, there was not wanting one to tell Carpophorus, and the latter stated that he would require an account from him. Callistus, perceiving these things, and suspecting danger from his master, escaped away by stealth, directing his flight towards the sea. And finding a vessel in Portus ready for a voyage, he went on board, intending to sail wherever she happened to be bound for. But not even in this way could he avoid detection, for there was not wanting one who conveyed to Carpophorus intelligence of what had taken place. But Carpophorus, in accordance with the information he had received, at once repaired to the harbor (Portus), and made an effort to hurry into the vessel after Callistus. The boat, however, was anchored in the middle of the harbor; and as the ferryman was slow in his movements, Callistus, who was in the ship, had time to descry his master at a distance. And knowing that himself would be inevitably captured, he became reckless of life; and, considering his affairs to be in a desperate condition, he proceeded to cast himself into the sea. But the sailors leaped into boats and drew him out, unwilling to come, while those on shore were raising a loud cry. And thus Callistus was handed over to his master, and brought to Rome, and his master lodged him in the Pistrinum.
But as time wore on, as happens to take place in such cases, brethren repaired to Carpophorus, and entreated him that he would release the fugitive serf from punishment, on the plea of their alleging that Callistus acknowledged himself to have money lying to his credit with certain persons. But Carpophorus, as a devout man, said he was indifferent regarding his own property, but that he felt a concern for the deposits; for many shed tears as they remarked to him, that they had committed what they had entrusted to Callistus, under the ostensive cause of lodging the money with himself. And Carpophorus yielded to their persuasions, and gave directions for the liberation of Callistus. The latter, however, having nothing to pay, and not being able again to abscond, from the fact of his being watched, planned an artifice by which he hoped to meet death. Now, pretending that he was repairing as it were to his creditors, he hurried on their Sabbath-day to the synagogue of the Jews, who were congregated, and took his stand, and created a disturbance among them. They, however, being disturbed by him, offered him insult, and inflicted blows upon him, and dragged him before Fuscianus, who was prefect of the city. And (on being asked the cause of such treatment), they replied in the following terms: “Romans have conceded to us the privilege of publicly reading those laws of ours that have been handed down from our fathers. This person, however, by coming into (our place of worship), prevented (us so doing), by creating a disturbance among us, alleging that he is a Christian.” And Fuscianus happens at the time to be on the judgment-seat; and on intimating his indignation against Callistus, on account of the statements made by the Jews, there was not wanting one to go and acquaint Carpophorus concerning these transactions. And he, hastening to the judgment-seat of the prefect, exclaimed, “I implore of you, my Lord Fuscianus, believe not thou this fellow; for he is not a Christian, but seeks occasion of death, having made away with a quantity of my money, as I shall prove.” The Jews, however, supposing that this was a stratagem, as if Carpophorus were seeking under this pretext to liberate Callistus, with the greater enmity clamored against him in presence of the prefect. Fuscianus, however, was swayed by these Jews, and having scourged Callistus, he gave him to be sent to a mine in Sardinia.
But after a time, there being in that place other martyrs, Marcia, a concubine of Commodus, who was a God-loving female, and desirous of performing some good work, invited into her presence the blessed Victor, who was at that time a bishop of the Church, and inquired of him what martyrs were in Sardinia. And he delivered to her the names of all, but did not give the name of Callistus, knowing the villainous acts he had ventured upon. Marcia, obtaining her request from Commodus, hands the letter of emancipation to Hyacinthus, a certain eunuch, rather advanced in life. And he, on receiving it, sailed away into Sardinia, and having delivered the letter to the person who at that time was governor of the territory, he succeeded in having the martyrs released, with the exception of Callistus. But Callistus himself, dropping on his knees, and weeping, entreated that he likewise might obtain a release. Hyacinthus, therefore, overcome by the captive’s importunity, requests the governor to grant a release, alleging that permission had been given to himself from Marcia (to liberate Callistus), and that he would make arrangements that there should be no risk in this to him. Now (the governor) was persuaded, and liberated Callistus also. And when the latter arrived at Rome, Victor was very much grieved at what had taken place; but since he was a compassionate man, he took no action in the matter. Guarding, however, against the reproach (uttered) by many, — for the attempts made by this Callistus were not distant occurrences, — and because Carpophorus also still continued adverse, Victor sends Callistus to take up his abode in Antium, having settled on him a certain monthly allowance for food. And after Victor’s death, Zephyrinus, having had Callistus as a fellow-worker in the management of his clergy, paid him respect to his own damage; and transferring this person from Antium, appointed him over the cemetery.
And Callistus, who was in the habit of always associating with Zephyrinus, and, as I have previously stated, of paying him hypocritical service, disclosed, by force contrast, Zephyrinus to be a person able neither to form a judgment of things said, nor discerning the design of Callistus, who was accustomed to converse with Zephyrinus on topics which yielded satisfaction to the latter. Thus, after the death of Zephyrinus, supposing that he had obtained (the position) after which he so eagerly pursued, he excommunicated Sabellius, as not entertaining orthodox opinions. He acted thus from apprehension of me, and imagining that he could in this manner obliterate the charge against him among the churches, as if he did not entertain strange opinions. He was then an impostor and knave, and in process of time hurried away many with him. And having even venom imbedded in his heart, and forming no correct opinion on any subject, and yet withal being ashamed to speak the truth, this Callistus, not only on account of his publicly saying in the way of reproach to us, “Ye are Ditheists,” but also on account of his being frequently accused by Sabellius, as one that had transgressed his first faith, devised some such heresy as the following. Callistus alleges that the Logos Himself is Son, and that Himself is Father; and that though denominated by a different title, yet that in reality He is one indivisible spirit. And he maintains that the Father is not one person and the Son another, but that they are one and the same; and that all things are full of the Divine Spirit, both those above and those below. And he affirms that the Spirit, which became incarnate in the virgin, is not different from the Father, but one and the same. And he adds, that this is what has been declared by the Savior: “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?” For that which is seen, which is man, he considers to be the Son; whereas the Spirit, which was contained in the Son, to be the Father. “For,” says (Callistus), “I will not profess belief in two Gods, Father and Son, but in one. For the Father, who subsisted in the Son Himself, after He had taken unto Himself our flesh, raised it to the nature of Deity, by bringing it into union with Himself, and made it one; so that Father and Son must be styled one God, and that this Person being one, cannot be two.” And in this way Callistus contends that the Father suffered along with the Son; for he does not wish to assert that the Father suffered, and is one Person, being careful to avoid blasphemy against the Father. (How careful he is!) senseless and knavish fellow, who improvises blasphemies in every direction, only that he may not seem to speak in violation of the truth, and is not abashed at being at one time betrayed into the tenet of Sabellius, whereas at another into the doctrine of Theodotus.
The impostor Callistus, having ventured on such opinions, established a school of theology in antagonism to the Church, adopting the foregoing system of instruction. And he first invented the device of conniving with men in regard of their indulgence in sensual pleasures, saying that all had their sins forgiven by himself. For he who is in the habit of attending the congregation of any one else, and is called a Christian, should he commit any transgression; the sin, they say, is not reckoned unto him, provided only he hurries off and attaches himself to the school of Callistus. And many persons were gratified with his regulation, as being stricken in conscience, and at the same time having been rejected by numerous sects; while also some of them, in accordance with our condemnatory sentence, had been by us forcibly ejected from the Church. Now such disciples as these passed over to these followers of Callistus, and served to crowd his school. This one propounded the opinion, that, if a bishop was guilty of any sin, if even a sin unto death, he ought not to be deposed. About the time of this man, bishops, priests, and deacons, who had been twice married, and thrice married, began to be allowed to retain their place among the clergy. If also, however, any one who is in holy orders should become married, Callistus permitted such a one to continue in holy orders as if he had not sinned. And in justification, he alleges that what has been spoken by the Apostle has been declared in reference to this person: “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?” But he asserted that likewise the parable of the tares is uttered in reference to this one: “Let the tares grow along with the wheat;” or, in other words, let those who in the Church are guilty of sin remain in it. But also he affirmed that the ark of Noe was made for a symbol of the Church, in which were both dogs, and wolves, and ravens, and all things clean and unclean; and so he alleges that the case should stand in like manner with the Church. And as many parts of Scripture bearing on this view of the subject as he could collect, he so interpreted.
And the hearers of Callistus being delighted with his tenets, continue with him, thus mocking both themselves as well as many others, and crowds of these dupes stream together into his school. Wherefore also his pupils are multiplied, and they plume themselves upon the crowds (attending the school) for the sake of pleasures which Christ did not permit. But in contempt of Him, they place restraint on the commission of no sin, alleging that they pardon those who acquiesce (in Callistus’ opinions). For even also he permitted females, if they were unwedded, and burned with passion at an age at all events unbecoming, or if they were not disposed to overturn their own dignity through a legal marriage, that they might have whomsoever they would choose as a bedfellow, whether a slave or free, and that a woman, though not legally married, might consider such a companion as a husband. Whence women, reputed believers, began to resort to drugs for producing sterility, and to gird themselves round, so to expel what was being conceived on account of their not wishing to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth. Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time! And withal, after such audacious acts, they, lost to all shame, attempt to call themselves a Catholic Church! And some, under the supposition that they will attain prosperity, concur with them. During the episcopate of this one, second baptism was for the first time presumptuously attempted by them. These, then, (are the practices and opinions which) that most astonishing Callistus established, whose school continues, preserving its customs and tradition, not discerning with whom they ought to communicate, but indiscriminately offering communion to all. And from him they have derived the denomination of their men; so that, on account of Callistus being a foremost champion of such practices, they should be called Callistians.
The doctrine of this Callistus having been noised abroad throughout the entire world, a cunning man, and full of desperation, one called Alcibiades, dwelling in Apamea, a city of Syria, examined carefully into this business. And considering himself a more formidable character, and more ingenious in such tricks, than Callistus, he repaired to Rome; and he brought some book, alleging that a certain just man, Elchasai, had received this from Serae, a town of Parthia, and that he gave it to one called Sobiai. And the contents of this volume, he alleged, had been revealed by an angel whose height was 24 schoenoi, which make 96 miles, and whose breadth is 4 schoenoi, and from shoulder to shoulder 6 schoenoi; and the tracks of his feet extend to the length of three and a half schoenoi, which are equal to fourteen miles, while the breadth is one schoenos and a half, and the height half a schoenos. And he alleges that also there is a female with him, whose measurement, he says, is according to the standards already mentioned. And he asserts that the male (angel) is Son of God, but that the female is called Holy Spirit. By detailing these prodigies he imagines that he confounds fools, while at the same time he utters the following sentence: “that there was preached unto men a new remission of sins in the third year of Trajan’s reign.” And Elchasai determines the nature of baptism, and even this I shall explain. He alleges, as to those who have been involved in every description of lasciviousness, and filthiness, and in acts of wickedness, if only any of them be a believer, that he determines that such a one, on being converted, and obeying the book, and believing its contents, should by baptism receive remission of sins.
Elchasai, however, ventured to continue these knaveries, taking occasion from the aforesaid tenet of which Callistus stood forward as a champion. For, perceiving that many were delighted at this sort of promise, he considered that he could opportunely make the attempt just alluded to. And notwithstanding we offered resistance to this, and did not permit many for any length of time to become victims of the delusion. For we carried conviction to the people, when we affirmed that this was the operation of a spurious spirit, and the invention of a heart inflated with pride, and that this one like a wolf had risen up against many wandering sheep, which Callistus, by his arts of deception, had scattered abroad. But since we have commenced, we shall not be silent as regards the opinions of this man. And, in the first place, we shall expose his life, and we shall prove that his supposed discipline is a mere pretense. And next, I shall adduce the principal heads of his assertions, in order that the reader, looking fixedly on the treatises of this (Elchasai), may be made aware what and what sort is the heresy which has been audaciously attempted by this man.
This Elchasai puts forward as a decoy a polity (authorized in the) Law, alleging that believers ought to be circumcised and live according to the Law, (while at the same time) he forcibly rends certain fragments from the aforesaid heresies. And he asserts that Christ was born a man in the same way as common to all, and that Christ was not for the first time an earth when born of a virgin, but that both previously and that frequently again He had been born and would be born. Christ would thus appear and exist among us from time to time, undergoing alterations of birth, and having his soul transferred from body to body. Now Elchasai adopted that tenet of Pythagoras to which I have already alluded. But the Elchasaites have reached such an altitude of pride, that even they affirm themselves to be endued with a power of foretelling futurity, using as a starting-point, obviously, the measures and numbers of the aforesaid Pythagorean art. These also devote themselves to the tenets of mathematicians, and astrologers, and magicians, as if they were true. And they resort to these, so as to confuse silly people, thus led to suppose that the heretics participate in a doctrine of power. And they teach certain incantations and formularies for those who have been bitten by dogs, and possessed of demons, and seized with other diseases; and we shall not be silent respecting even such practices of these heretics. Having then sufficiently explained their principles, and the causes of their presumptuous attempts, I shall pass on to give an account of their writings, through which my readers will become acquainted with both the trifling and godless efforts of these Elchasaites.
To those, then, that have been orally instructed by him, he dispenses baptism in this manner, addressing to his dupes some such words as the following: “If, therefore, (my) children, one shall have intercourse with any sort of animal whatsoever, or a male, or a sister, or a daughter, or hath committed adultery, or been guilty of fornication, and is desirous of obtaining remission of sins, from the moment that he hearkens to this book let him be baptized a second time in the name of the Great and Most High God, and in the name of His Son, the Mighty King. And by baptism let him be purified and cleansed, and let him adjure for himself those seven witnesses that have been described in this book — the heaven, and the water, and the Holy Spirits, and the angels of prayer, and the oil, and the salt, and the earth.” These constitute the astonishing mysteries of Elchasai, those ineffable and potent secrets which he delivers to deserving disciples. And with these that lawless one is not satisfied, but in the presence of two and three witnesses he puts the seal to his own wicked practices. Again expressing himself thus: “Again I say, O adulterers and adulteresses, and false prophets, if you are desirous of being converted, that your sins may be forgiven you, as soon as ever you hearken unto this book, and be baptized a second time along with your garments, shall peace be yours, and your portion with the just.” But since we have stated that these resort to incantations for those bitten by dogs and for other mishaps, we shall explain these. Now Elchasai uses the following formulary: “If a dog rabid and furious, in which inheres a spirit of destruction, bite any man, or woman, or youth, or girl, or may worry or touch them, in the same hour let such a one run with all their wearing apparel, and go down to a river or to a fountain wherever there is a deep spot. Let (him or her) be dipped with all their wearing apparel, and offer supplication to the Great and Most High God in faith of heart, and then let him thus adjure the seven witnesses described in this book: ‘Behold, I call to witness the heaven and the water, and the Holy Spirits, and the angels of prayer, and the oil, and the salt, and the earth. I testify by these seven witnesses that no more shall I sin, nor commit adultery, nor steal, nor be guilty of injustice, nor be covetous, nor be actuated by hatred, nor be scornful, nor shall I take pleasure in any wicked deeds.’ Having uttered, therefore, these words, let such a one be baptized with the entire of his wearing apparel in the name of the Mighty and Most High God.”
But in very many other respects he talks folly, inculcating the use of these sentences also for those afflicted with consumption, and that they should be dipped in cold water forty times during seven days and he prescribes similar treatment for those possessed of devils. Oh inimitable wisdom and incantations gorged with powers! Who will not be astonished at such and such force of words? But since we have stated that they also bring into requisition astrological deceit, we shall prove this from their own formularies; for Elchasai speaks thus: “There exist wicked stars of impiety. This declaration has been now made by us, O ye pious ones and disciples: beware of the power of the days of the sovereignty of these stars, and engage not in the commencement of any undertaking during the ruling days of these. And baptize not man or woman during the days of the power of these stars, when the moon, (emerging) from among them, courses the sky, and travels along with them. Beware of the very day up to that on which the moon passes out from these stars, and then baptize and enter on every beginning of your works. But, moreover, honor the day of the Sabbath, since that day is one of those during which prevails (the power) of these stars. Take care, however, not to commence your works the third day from a Sabbath, since when three years of the reign of the emperor Trajan are again completed from the time that he subjected the Parthians to his own sway, — when, I say, three years have been completed, war rages between the impious angels of the northern constellations; and on this account all kingdoms of impiety are in a state of confusion.”
Inasmuch as (Elchasai) considers, then, that it would be an insult to reason that these mighty and ineffable mysteries should be trampled under foot, or that they should be committed to many, he advises that as valuable pearls they should be preserved, expressing himself thus: “Do not recite this account to all men, and guard carefully these precepts, because all men are not faithful, nor are all women straightforward.” Books containing these (tenets), however, neither the wise men of the Egyptians secreted in shrines, nor did Pythagoras, a sage of the Greeks, conceal them there. For if at that time Elchasai had happened to live, what necessity would there be that Pythagoras, or Thales, or Solon, or the wise Plato, or even the rest of the sages of the Greeks, should become disciples of the Egyptian priests, when they could obtain possession of such and such wisdom from Alcibiades, as the most astonishing interpreter of that wretched Elchasai? The statements, therefore, that have been made for the purpose of attaining a knowledge of the madness of these, would seem sufficient for those endued with sound mind. And so it is, that it has not appeared expedient to quote more of their formularies, seeing that these are very numerous and ridiculous. Since, however, we have not omitted those practices that have risen up in our own day, and have not been silent as regards those prevalent before our time, it seems proper, in order that we may pass through all their systems, and leave nothing untold, to state what also are the (customs) of the Jews, and what are the diversities of opinion among them, for I imagine that these as yet remain behind for our consideration. Now, when I have broken silence on these points, I shall pass on to the demonstration of the Doctrine of the Truth, in order that, after the lengthened argumentative straggle against all heresies, we, devoutly pressing forward towards the kingdom’s crown, and believing the truth, may not be unsettled.
Originally there prevailed but one usage among the Jews; for one teacher was given unto them by God, namely Moses, and one law by this same Moses. And there was one desert region and one Mount Sinai, for one God it was who legislated for these Jews. But, again, after they had crossed the river Jordan, and had inherited by lot the conquered country, they in various ways rent in sunder the law of God, each devising a different interpretation of the declarations made by God. And in this way they raised up for themselves teachers, (and) invented doctrines of an heretical nature, and they continued to advance into (sectarian) divisions. Now it is the diversity of these Jews that I at present propose to explain. But though for even a considerable time they have been rent into very numerous sects, yet I intend to elucidate the more principal of them, while those who are of a studious turn will easily become acquainted with the rest. For there is a division amongst them into three sorts; and the adherents of the first are the Pharisees, but of the second the Sadducees, while the rest are Essenes. These practice a more devotional life, being filled with mutual love, and being temperate. And they turn away from every act of inordinate desire, being averse even to hearing of things of the sort. And they renounce matrimony, but they take the boys of others, and thus have an offspring begotten for them. And they lead these adopted children into an observance of their own peculiar customs, and in this way bring them up and impel them to learn the sciences. They do not, however, forbid them to marry, though themselves refraining from matrimony. Women, however, even though they may be disposed to adhere to the same course of life, they do not admit, inasmuch as in no way whatsoever have they confidence in women.
And they despise wealth, and do not turn away from sharing their goods with those that are destitute. No one amongst them, however, enjoys a greater amount of riches than another. For a regulation with them is, that an individual coming forward to join the sect must sell his possessions, and present the price of them to the community. And on receiving the money, the head of the order distributes it to all according to their necessities. Thus there is no one among them in distress. And they do not use oil, regarding it as a defilement to be anointed. And there are appointed overseers, who take care of all things that belong to them in common, and they all appear always in white clothing.
But there is not one city of them, but many of them settle in every city. And if any of the adherents of the sect may be present from a strange place, they consider that all things are in common for him, and those whom they had not previously known they receive as if they belonged to their own household and kindred. And they traverse their native land, and on each occasion that they go on a journey they carry nothing except arms. And they have also in their cities a president, who expends the moneys collected for this purpose in procuring clothing and food for them. And their robe and its shape are modest. And they do not own two cloaks, or a double set of shoes; and when those that are in present use become antiquated, then they adopt others. And they neither buy nor sell anything at all; but whatever any one has he gives to him that has not, and that which one has not he receives.
And they continue in an orderly manner, and with perseverance pray from early dawn, and they do not speak a word unless they have praised God in a hymn. And in this way they each go forth and engage in whatever employment they please; and after having worked up to the fifth hour they leave off. Then again they come together into one place, and encircle themselves with linen girdles, for the purpose of concealing their private parts. And in this manner they perform ablutions in cold water; and after being thus cleansed, they repair together into one apartment, — now no one who entertains a different opinion from themselves assembles in the house, — and they proceed to partake of breakfast. And when they have taken their seats in silence, they set down loaves in order, and next some one sort of food to eat along with the bread, and each receives from these a sufficient portion. No one, however, tastes these before the priest utters a blessing, and prays over the food. And after breakfast, when he has a second time offered up supplication, as at the beginning, so at the conclusion of their meal they praise God in hymns. Next, after they have laid aside as sacred the garments in which they have been clothed while together taking their repast within the house — (now these garments are linen) — and having resumed the clothes which they had left in the vestibule, they hasten to agreeable occupations until evening. And they partake of supper, doing all things in like manner to those already mentioned. And no one will at any time cry aloud, nor will any other tumultuous voice be heard. But they each converse quietly, and with decorum one concedes the conversation to the other, so that the stillness of those within the house appears a sort of mystery to those outside. And they are invariably sober, eating and drinking all things by measure.
All then pay attention to the president; and whatever injunctions he will issue, they obey as law. For they are anxious that mercy and assistance be extended to those that are burdened with toil. And especially they abstain from wrath and anger, and all such passions, inasmuch as they consider these to be treacherous to man. And no one amongst them is in the habit of swearing; but whatever any one says, this is regarded more binding than an oath. If, however, one will swear, he is condemned as one unworthy of credence. They are likewise solicitous about the readings of the law and prophets; and moreover also, if there is any treatise of the faithful, about that likewise. And they evince the utmost curiosity concerning plants and stones, rather busying themselves as regards the operative powers of these, saying that these things were not created in vain.
But to those who wish to become disciples of the sect, they do not immediately deliver their rules, unless they have previously tried them. Now for the space of a year they set before (the candidates) the same food, while the latter continue to live in a different house outside the Essenes’ own place of meeting. And they give (to the probationists) a hatchet and the linen girdle, and a white robe. When, at the expiration of this period, one affords proof of self-control, he approaches nearer to the sect’s method of living, and he is washed more purely than before. Not as yet, however, does he partake of food along with the Essenes. For, after having furnished evidence as to whether he is able to acquire self-control, — but for two years the habit of a person of this description is on trial, — and when he has appeared deserving, he is thus reckoned amongst the members of the sect. Previous, however, to his being allowed to partake of a repast along with them, he is bound under fearful oaths. First, that he will worship the Divinity; next, that he will observe just dealings with men, and that he will in no way injure any one, and that he will not hate a person who injures him, or is hostile to him, but pray for them. He likewise swears that he will always aid the just, and keep faith with all, especially those who are rulers. For, they argue, a position of authority does not happen to any one without God. And if the Essene himself be a ruler, he swears that he will not conduct himself at any time arrogantly in the exercise of power, nor be prodigal, nor resort to any adornment, or a greater state of magnificence than the usage permits. He likewise swears, however, to be a lover of truth, and to reprove him that is guilty of falsehood, neither to steal, nor pollute his conscience for the sake of iniquitous gain, nor conceal aught from those that are members of his sect, and to divulge nothing to others, though one should be tortured even unto death. And in addition to the foregoing promises, he swears to impart to no one a knowledge of the doctrines in a different manner from that in which he has received them himself.
With oaths, then, of this description, they bind those who come forward. If, however, any one may be condemned for any sin, he is expelled from the order; but one that has been thus excommunicated sometimes perishes by an awful death. For, inasmuch as he is bound by the oaths and rites of the sect, he is not able to partake of the food in use among other people. Those that are excommunicated, occasionally, therefore, utterly destroy the body through starvation. And so it is, that when it comes to the last the Essenes sometimes pity many of them who are at the point of dissolution, inasmuch as they deem a punishment even unto death, thus inflicted upon these culprits, a sufficient penalty.
But as regards judicial decisions, the Essenes are most accurate and impartial. And they deliver their judgments when they have assembled together, numbering at the very least one hundred; and the sentence delivered by them is irreversible. And they honor the legislator next after God; and if any one is guilty of blasphemy against this framer of laws, he is punished. And they are taught to yield obedience to rulers and elders; and if ten occupy seats in the same room, one of them will not speak unless it will appear expedient to the nine. And they are careful not to spit out into the midst of persons present, and to the right hand. They are more solicitous, however, about abstaining from work on the Sabbath-day than all other Jews. For not only do they prepare their victuals for themselves one day previously, so as not (on the Sabbath) to kindle a fire, but not even would they move a utensil from one place to another (on that day), nor ease nature; nay, some would not even rise from a couch. On other days, however, when they wish to relieve nature, they dig a hole a foot long with the mattock, — for of this description is the hatchet, which the president in the first instance gives those who come forward to gain admission as disciples, — and cover (this cavity) on all sides with their garment, alleging that they do not necessarily insult the sunbeams. They then replace the upturned soil into the pit; and this is their practice, choosing the more lonely spots. But after they have performed this operation, immediately they undergo ablution, as if the excrement pollutes them.
The Essenes have, however, in the lapse of time, undergone divisions, and they do not preserve their system of training after a similar manner, inasmuch as they have been split up into four parties. For some of them discipline themselves above the requisite rules of the order, so that even they would not handle a current coin of the country, saying that they ought not either to carry, or behold, or fashion an image: wherefore no one of those goes into a city, lest (by so doing) he should enter through a gate at which statues are erected, regarding it a violation of law to pass beneath images. But the adherents of another party, if they happen to hear any one maintaining a discussion concerning God and His laws — supposing such to be an uncircumcised person, they will closely watch him and when they meet a person of this description in any place alone, they will threaten to slay him if he refuses to undergo the rite of circumcision. Now, if the latter does not wish to comply with this request, an Essene spares not, but even slaughters. And it is from this occurrence that they have received their appellation, being denominated (by some) Zelotae, but by others Sicarii. And the adherents of another party call no one Lord except the Deity, even though one should put them to the torture, or even kill them. But there are others of a later period, who have to such an extent declined from the discipline (of the order), that, as far as those are concerned who continue in the primitive customs, they would not even touch these. And if they happen to come in contact with them, they immediately resort to ablution, as if they had touched one belonging to an alien tribe. But here also there are very many of them of so great longevity, as even to live longer than a hundred years. They assert, therefore, that a cause of this arises from their extreme devotion to religion, and their condemnation of all excess in regard of what is served up (as food), and from their being temperate and incapable of anger. And so it is that they despise death, rejoicing when they can finish their course with a good conscience. If, however, any one would even put to the torture persons of this description, in order to induce any amongst them either to speak evil of the law, or eat what is offered in sacrifice to an idol, he will not effect his purpose; for one of this party submits to death and endures torment rather than violate his conscience.
Now the doctrine of the resurrection has also derived support among these; for they acknowledge both that the flesh will rise again, and that it will be immortal, in the same manner as the soul is already imperishable. And they maintain that the soul, when separated in the present life, (departs) into one place, which is well ventilated and lightsome, where, they say, it rests until judgment. And this locality the Greeks were acquainted with by hearsay, and called it “Isles of the Blessed.” And there are other tenets of these which many of the Greeks have appropriated, and thus have from time to time formed their own opinions. For the disciplinary system in regard of the Divinity, according to these (Jewish sects), is of greater antiquity than that of all nations. And so it is that the proof is at hand, that all those (Greeks) who ventured to make assertions concerning God, or concerning the creation of existing things, derived their principles from no other source than from Jewish legislation. And among these may be particularized Pythagoras especially, and the Stoics, who derived (their systems) while resident among the Egyptians, by having become disciples of these Jews. Now they affirm that there will be both a judgment and a conflagration of the universe, and that the wicked will be eternally punished. And among them is cultivated the practice of prophecy, and the prediction of future events.
There is then another order of the Essenes who use the same customs and prescribed method of living with the foregoing sects, but make an alteration from these in one respect, viz., marriage. Now they maintain that those who have abrogated matrimony commit some terrible offense, which is for the destruction of life, and that they ought not to cut off the succession of children; for, that if all entertained this opinion, the entire race of men would easily be exterminated. However, they make a trial of their betrothed women for a period of three years; and when they have been three times purified, with a view of proving their ability of bringing forth children, so then they wed. They do not, however, cohabit with pregnant women, evincing that they marry not from sensual motives, but from the advantage of children. And the women likewise undergo ablution in a similar manner (with their husbands), and are themselves also arrayed in a linen garment, after the mode in which the men are with their girdles. These things, then, are the statements which I have to make respecting the Esseni.
But there are also others who themselves practice the Jewish customs; and these, both in respect of caste and in respect of the laws, are called Pharisees. Now the greatest part of these is to be found in every locality, inasmuch as, though all are styled Jews, yet, on account of the peculiarity of the opinions advanced by them, they have been denominated by titles proper to each. These, then, firmly hold the ancient tradition, and continue to pursue in a disputative spirit a close investigation into the things regarded according to the Law as clean and not clean. And they interpret the regulations of the Law, and put forward teachers, whom they qualify for giving instruction in such things. These Pharisees affirm the existence of fate, and that some things are in our power, whereas others are under the control of destiny. In this way they maintain that some actions depend upon ourselves, whereas others upon fate. But (they assert) that God is a cause of all things, and that nothing is managed or happens without His will. These likewise acknowledge that there is a resurrection of flesh, and that soul is immortal, and that there will be a judgment and conflagration, and that the righteous will be imperishable, but that the wicked will endure everlasting punishment in unquenchable fire.
These, then, are the opinions even of the Pharisees. The Sadducees, however, are for abolishing fate, and they acknowledge that God does nothing that is wicked, nor exercises providence over (earthly concerns); but they contend that the choice between good and evil lies within the power of men. And they deny that there is a resurrection not only of flesh, but also they suppose that the soul does not continue after death. The soul they consider nothing but mere vitality, and that it is on account of this that man has been created. However, (they maintain) that the notion of the resurrection has been fully realized by the single circumstance, that we close our days after having left children upon earth. But (they still insist) that after death one expects to suffer nothing, either bad or good; for that there will be a dissolution both of soul and body, and that man passes into non-existence, similarly also with the material of the animal creation. But as regards whatever wickedness a man may have committed in life, provided he may have been reconciled to the injured party, he has been a gainer (by transgression), inasmuch as he has escaped the punishment (that otherwise would have been inflicted) by men. And whatever acquisitions a man may have made, and (in whatever respect), by becoming wealthy, he may have acquired distinction, he has so far been a gainer. But (they abide by their assertion), that God has no solicitude about the concerns of an individual here. And while the Pharisees are full of mutual affection, the Sadducees, on the other hand, are actuated by self-love. This sect had its stronghold especially in the region around Samaria. And these also adhere to the customs of the law, saying that one ought so to live, that he may conduct himself virtuously, and leave children behind him on earth. They do not, however, devote attention to prophets, but neither do they to any other sages, except to the law of Moses only, in regard of which, however, they frame no interpretations. These, then, are the opinions which also the Sadducees choose to teach.
Since, therefore, we have explained even the diversities among the Jews, it seems expedient likewise not to pass over in silence the system of their religion. The doctrine, therefore, among all Jews on the subject of religion is fourfold — theological, natural, moral, and ceremonial. And they affirm that there is one God, and that He is Creator and Lord of the universe: that He has formed all these glorious works which had no previous existence; and this, too, not out of any coeval substance that lay ready at hand, but His Will — the efficient cause — was to create, and He did create. And (they maintain) that there are angels, and that these have been brought into being for ministering unto the creation; but also that there is a sovereign Spirit that always continues beside God, for glory and praise. And that all things in the creation are endued with sensation, and that there is nothing inanimate. And they earnestly aim at serious habits and a temperate life, as one may ascertain from their laws. Now these matters have long ago been strictly defined by those who in ancient times have received the divinely-appointed law; so that the reader will find himself astonished at the amount of temperance, and of diligence, lavished on customs legally enacted in reference to man. The ceremonial service, however, which has been adapted to divine worship in a manner befitting the dignity of religion, has been practiced amongst them with the highest degree of elaboration. The superiority of their ritualism it is easy for those who wish it to ascertain, provided they read the book which furnishes information on these points. They will thus perceive how that with solemnity and sanctity the Jewish priests offer unto God the first-fruits of the gifts bestowed by Him for the use and enjoyment of men; how they fulfill their ministrations with regularity and steadfastness, in obedience to His commandments. There are, however, some (liturgical usages adopted) by these, which the Sadducees refuse to recognize, for they are not disposed to acquiesce in the existence of angels or spirits.
Still all parties alike expect Messiah, inasmuch as the Law certainly, and the prophets, preached beforehand that He was about to be present on earth. Inasmuch, however, as the Jews were not cognizant of the period of His advent, there remains the supposition that the declarations (of Scripture) concerning His coming have not been fulfilled. And so it is, that up to this day they continue in anticipation of the future coming of the Christ, — from the fact of their not discerning Him when He was present in the world. And (yet there can be little doubt but) that, on beholding the signs of the times of His having been already amongst us, the Jews are troubled; and that they are ashamed to confess that He has come, since they have with their own hands put Him to death, because they were stung with indignation in being convicted by Himself of not having obeyed the laws. And they affirm that He who was thus sent forth by God is not this Christ (whom they are looking for); but they confess that another Messiah will come, who as yet has no existence; and that he will usher in some of the signs which the law and the prophets have shown beforehand, whereas, regarding the rest (of these indications), they suppose that they have fallen into error. For they say that his generation will be from the stock of David, but not from a virgin and the Holy Spirit, but from a woman and a man, according as it is a rule for all to be procreated from seed. And they allege that this Messiah will be King over them, — a warlike and powerful individual, who, after having gathered together the entire people of the Jews, and having done battle with all the nations, will restore for them Jerusalem the royal city. And into this city He will collect together the entire Hebrew race, and bring it back once more into the ancient customs, that it may fulfill the regal and sacerdotal functions, and dwell in confidence for periods of time of sufficient duration. After this repose, it is their opinion that war would next be waged against them after being thus congregated; that in this conflict Christ would fall by the edge of the sword; and that, after no long time, would next succeed the termination and conflagration of the universe; and that in this way their opinions concerning the resurrection would receive completion, and a recompense be rendered to each man according to his works.
It now seems to us that the tenets of both all the Greeks and barbarians have been sufficiently explained by us, and that nothing has remained unrefuted either of the points about which philosophy has been busied, or of the allegations advanced by the heretics. And from these very explanations the condemnation of the heretics is obvious, for having either purloined their doctrines, or derived contributions to them from some of those tenets elaborately worked out by the Greeks, and for having advanced (these opinions) as if they originated from God. Since, therefore, we have hurriedly passed through all the systems of these, and with much labor have, in the nine books, proclaimed all their opinions, and have left behind us for all men a small viaticum in life, and to those who are our contemporaries have afforded a desire of learning (with) great joy and delight, we have considered it reasonable, as a crowning stroke to the entire work, to introduce the discourse (already mentioned) concerning the truth, and to furnish our delineation of this in one book, namely the tenth. Our object is, that the reader, not only when made acquainted with the overthrow of those who have presumed to establish heresies, may regard with scorn their idle fancies, but also, when brought to know the power of the truth, may be placed in the way of salvation, by reposing that faith in God which He so worthily deserves.
The following are the contents of the tenth book of the Refutation of all Heresies: —
An Epitome of all
After we have, not with violence, burst through the labyrinth of heresies, but have unraveled (their intricacies) through a refutation merely, or, in other words, by the force of truth, we approach the demonstration of the truth itself. For then the artificial sophisms of error will be exposed in all their inconsistency, when we shall succeed in establishing whence it is that the definition of the truth has been derived. The truth has not taken its principles from the wisdom of the Greeks, nor borrowed its doctrines, as secret mysteries, from the tenets of the Egyptians, which, albeit silly, are regarded amongst them with religious veneration as worthy of reliance. Nor has it been formed out of the fallacies which enunciate the incoherent (conclusions arrived at through the) curiosity of the Chaldeans. Nor does the truth owe its existence to astonishment, through the operations of demons, for the irrational frenzy of the Babylonians. But its definition is constituted after the manner in which every true definition is, viz., as simple and unadorned. A definition such as this, provided it is made manifest, will of itself refute error. And although we have very frequently propounded demonstrations, and with sufficient fullness elucidated for those willing (to learn) the rule of the truth; yet even now, after having discussed all the opinions put forward by the Greeks and heretics, we have decided it not to be, at all events, unreasonable to introduce, as a sort of finishing stroke to the (nine) books preceding, this demonstration throughout the tenth book.
Having, therefore, embraced (a consideration of) the tenets of all the wise men among the Greeks in four books, and the doctrines propounded by the heresiarchs in five, we shall now exhibit the doctrine concerning the truth in one, having first presented in a summary the suppositions entertained severally by all. For the dogmatists of the Greeks, dividing philosophy into three parts, in this manner devised from time to time their speculative systems; some denominating their system Natural, and others Moral, but others Dialectical Philosophy. And the ancient thinkers who called their science Natural Philosophy, were those mentioned in Book 1. And the account which they furnished was after this mode: Some of them derived all things from one, whereas others from more things than one. And of those who derived all things from one, some derived them from what was devoid of quality, whereas others from what was endued with quality. And among those who derived all things from quality, some derived them from fire, and some from air, and some from water, and some from earth. And among those who derived the universe from more things than one, some derived it from numerable, but others from infinite quantities. And among those who derived all things from numerable quantities, some derived them from two, and others from four, and others from five, and others from six. And among those who derived the universe from infinite quantities, some derived entities from things similar to those generated, whereas others from things dissimilar. And among these some derived entities from things incapable of, whereas others from things capable of, passion. From a body devoid of quality and endued with unity, the Stoics, then, accounted for the generation of the universe. For, according to them, matter devoid of quality, and in all its parts susceptible of change, constitutes an originating principle of the universe. For, when an alteration of this ensues, there is generated fire, air, water, earth. The followers, however, of Hippasus, and Anaximander, and Thales the Milesian, are disposed to think that all things have been generated from one (an entity), endued with quality. Hippasus of Metapontum and Heraclitus the Ephesian declared the origin of things to be from fire, whereas Anaximander from air, but Thales from water, and Xenophanes from earth. “For from earth,” says he, “are all things, and all things terminate in the earth.”
But among those who derive all entities from more things than one, and from numerable quantities, the poet Homer asserts that the universe consists of two substances, namely earth and water; at one time expressing himself thus: —
“The source of gods was Sea and Mother Earth.”
And on another occasion thus: —
“But indeed ye all might become water and earth.”
And Xenophanes of Colophon seems to coincide with him, for he says: —
“We all are sprung from water and from earth.”
Euripides, however, (derives the universe) from earth and air, as one may ascertain from the following assertion of his: —
“Mother of all, air and earth, I sing.”
But Empedocles derives the universe from four principles, expressing himself thus: —
“Four roots of all things hear thou first:
Ocellus, however, the Lucanian, and Aristotle, derive the universe from five principles; for, along with the four elements, they have assumed the existence of a fifth, and (that this is) a body with a circular motion; and they say that from this, things celestial have their being. But the disciples of Empedocles supposed the generation of the universe to have proceeded from six principles. For in the passage where he says, “Four roots of all things hear thou first,” he produces generation out of four principles. When, however, he subjoins, —
“Ruinous Strife apart from these, equal in every point,
he also delivers six principles of the universe, four of them material — earth, water, fire, and air; but two of them formative — Friendship and Discord. The followers, however, of Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, and of Democritus, and of Epicurus, and multitudes of others, have given it as their opinion that the generation of the universe proceeds from infinite numbers of atoms; and we have previously made partial mention of these philosophers. But Anaxagoras derives the universe from things similar to those that are being produced; whereas the followers of Democritus and Epicurus derived the universe from things both dissimilar (to the entities produced), and devoid of passion, that is, from atoms. But the followers of Heraclides of Pontus, and of Asclepiades, derived the universe from things dissimilar (to the entities produced), and capable of passion, as if from incongruous corpuscles. But the disciples of Plato affirm that these entities are from three principles — God, and Matter, and Exemplar. He divides matter, however, into four principles — fire, water, earth, and air. And (he says) that God is the Creator of this (matter), and that Mind is its exemplar.
Persuaded, then, that the principle of physiology is confessedly discovered to be encumbered with difficulties for all these philosophers, we ourselves also shall fearlessly declare concerning the examples of the truth, as to how they are, and as we have felt confident that they are. But we shall previously furnish an explanation, in the way of epitome, of the tenets of the heresiarchs, in order that, by our having set before our readers the tenets of all made well known by this (plan of treatment), we may exhibit the truth in a plain and familiar (form).
But since it so appears expedient, let us begin first from the public worshippers of the serpent. The Naasseni call the first principle of the universe a Man, and that the same also is a Son of Man; and they divide this man into three portions. For they say one part of him is rational, and another psychical, but a third earthly. And they style him Adamas, and suppose that the knowledge appertaining to him is the originating cause of the capacity of knowing God. And the Naassene asserts that all these rational, and psychical, and earthly qualities have retired into Jesus, and that through Him these three substances simultaneously have spoken unto the three genera of the universe. These allege that there are three kinds of existence — angelic, psychical, and earthly; and that there are three churches — angelic, psychical, and earthly; and that the names for these are — chosen, called, and captive. These are the heads of doctrine advanced by them, as far as one may briefly comprehend them. They affirm that James, the brother of the Lord, delivered these tenets to Mariamne, by such a statement belying both.
The Peratae, however, viz., Ademes the Carystian, and Euphrates the Peratic, say that there is some one world, — this is the denomination they use, — and affirming that it is divided into three parts. But of the threefold division, according to them, there is one principle, just like an immense fountain, capable of being by reason divided into infinite segments. And the first segment, and the one of more proximity, according to them, is the triad, and is called a perfect good, and a paternal magnitude. But the second portion of the triad is a certain multitude of, as it were, infinite powers. The third part, however, is formal. And the first is unbegotten; whence they expressly affirm that there are three Gods, three Logoi, three minds, (and) three men. For when the division has been accomplished, to each part of the world they assign both Gods, and Logoi, and men, and the rest. But from above, from uncreatedness and the first segment of the world, when afterwards the world had attained to its consummation, the Peratic affirms that there came down, in the times of Herod, a certain man with a threefold nature, and a threefold body, and a threefold power, named Christ, and that He possesses from the three parts of the world in Himself all the concretions and capacities of the world. And they are disposed to think that this is what has been declared, “in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” And they assert that from the two worlds situated above — namely, both the unbegotten one and self-begotten one — there were born down into this world in which we are, germs of all sorts of powers. And (they say) that Christ came down from above from uncreatedness, in order that, by His descent, all things that have been divided into three parts may be saved. For, says the Peratic, the things that have been born down from above will ascend through Him; and the things that have plotted against those that have been born down are heedlessly rejected, and sent away to be punished. And the Peratic states that there are two parts which are saved — that is, those that are situated above — by having been separated from corruption, and that the third is destroyed, which he calls a formal world. These also are the tenets of the Peratae.
But to the Sethians it seems that there exist three principles, which have been precisely defined. And each of the principles is fitted by nature for being able to be generated, as in a human soul every art whatsoever is developed which is capable of being learned. The result is the same as when a child, by being long conversant with a musical instrument, becomes a musician; or with geometry a geometrician, or with any other art, with a similar result. And the essences of the principles, the Sethians say, are light and darkness. And in the midst of these is pure spirit; and the spirit, they say, is that which is placed intermediate between darkness, which is below, and light, which is above. It is not spirit, as a current of wind or a certain gentle breeze which may be felt, but just as if some fragrance of ointment or incense made out of a refined mixture, — a power diffusing itself by some impulse of fragrance which is inconceivable and superior to what one can express. Since, therefore, the light is above and the darkness below, and the spirit is intermediate between these, the light, also, as a ray of sun, shines from above on the underlying darkness. And the fragrance of the spirit is wafted onwards, occupying an intermediate position, and proceeds forth, just as is diffused the odor of incense-offerings (laid) upon the fire. Now the power of the things divided threefold being of this description, the power simultaneously of the spirit and of the light is below, in the darkness that is situated beneath. The darkness, however, they say, is a horrible water, into which the light along with the spirit is absorbed, and thus translated into a nature of this description. The darkness being then endued with intelligence, and knowing that when the light has been removed from it the darkness continues desolate, devoid of radiance and splendor, power and efficiency, as well as impotent, (therefore,) by every effort of reflection and of reason, this makes an exertion to comprise in itself brilliancy, and a scintillation of light, along with the fragrance of the spirit. And of this they introduce the following image, expressing themselves thus: Just as the pupil of the eye appears dark beneath the underlying humors, but is illuminated by the spirit, so the darkness earnestly strives after the spirit, and has with itself all the powers which wish to retire and return. Now these are indefinitely infinite, from which, when commingled, all things are figured and generated like seals. For just as a seal, when brought into contact with wax, producesa figure, (and yet the seal) itself remains of itself what it was, so also the powers, by coming into communion (one with the other), form all the infinite kinds of animals. The Sethians assert that, therefore, from the primary concourse of the three principles was generated an image of the great seal, namely heaven and earth, having a form like a womb, possessing a navel in the midst. And so that the rest of the figures of all things were, like heaven and earth, fashioned similar to a womb.
And the Sethians say that from the water was produced a first-begotten principle, namely a vehement and boisterous wind, and that it is a cause of all generation, which creates a sort of heat and motion in the world from the motion of the waters. And they maintain that this wind is fashioned like the hissing of a serpent into a perfect image. And on this the world gazes and hurries into generation, being inflamed as a womb; and from thence they are disposed to think that the generation of the universe has arisen. And they say that this wind constitutes a spirit, and that a perfect God has arisen from the fragrance of the waters, and that of the spirit, and from the brilliant light. And they affirm that mind exists after the mode of generation from a female — (meaning by mind) the supernal spark — and that, having been mingled beneath with the compounds of body, it earnestly desires to flee away, that escaping it may depart and not find dissolution on account of the deficiency in the waters. Wherefore it is in the habit of crying aloud from the mixture of the waters, according to the Psalmist, as they say, “For the entire anxiety of the light above is, that it may deliver the spark which is below from the Father beneath,” that is, from wind. And the Father creates heat and disturbance, and produces for Himself a Son, namely mind, which, as they allege, is not the peculiar offspring of Himself. And these heretics affirm that the Son, on beholding the perfect Logos of the supernal light, underwent a transformation, and in the shape of a serpent entered into a womb, in order that he might be able to recover that Mind which is the scintillation from the light. And that this is what has been declared, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant.” And the wretched and baneful Sethians are disposed to think that this constitutes the servile form alluded to by the Apostle. These, then, are the assertions which likewise these Sethians advance.
But that very sapient fellow Simon makes his statement thus, that there is an indefinite power, and that this is the root of the universe. And this indefinite power, he says, which is fire, is in itself not anything which is simple, as the gross bulk of speculators maintain, when they assert that there are four incomposite elements, and have supposed fire, as one of these, to be uncompounded. Simon, on the other hand, alleges that the nature of fire is twofold; and one portion of this twofold (nature) he calls a something secret, and another (a something) manifest. And he asserts that the secret is concealed in the manifest parts of the fire, and that the manifest parts of the fire have been produced from the secret. And he says that all the parts of the fire, visible and invisible, have been supposed to be in possession of a capacity of perception. The world, therefore, he says, that is begotten, has been produced from the unbegotten fire. And it commenced, he says, to exist thus: The Unbegotten One took six primal roots of the principle of generation from the principle of that fire. For he maintains that these roots have been generated in pairs from the fire; and these he denominates Mind and Intelligence, Voice and Name, Ratiocination and Reflection. And he asserts that in the six roots, at the same time, resides the indefinite power, which he affirms to be Him that stood, stands, and will stand. And when this one has been formed into a figure, He will, according to this heretic, exist in the six powers substantially and potentially. And He will be in magnitude and perfection one and the same with that unbegotten and indefinite power, possessing no attribute in any respect more deficient than that unbegotten, and unalterable, and indefinite power. If, however, He who stood, stands, and will stand, continues to exist only potentially in the six powers, and has not assumed any definite figure, He becomes, says Simon, utterly evanescent, and perishes. And this takes place in the same manner as the grammatical or geometrical capacity, which, though it has been implanted in man’s soul, suffers extinction when it does not obtain (the assistance of) a master of either of these arts, who would indoctrinate that soul into its principles. Now Simon affirms that he himself is He who stood, stands, and will stand, and that He is a power that is above all things. So far, then, for the opinions of Simon likewise.
Valentinus, however, and the adherents of this school, though they agree in asserting that the originating principle of the universe is the Father, still they are impelled into the adoption of a contrary opinion respecting Him. For some of them maintain that (the Father) is solitary and generative; whereas others hold the impossibility, (in His as in other cases,) of procreation without a female. They therefore add Sige as the spouse of this Father, and style the Father Himself Bythus. From this Father and His spouse some allege that there have been six projections, — viz., Nous and Aletheia, Logos and Zoe, Anthropos and Ecclesia, — and that this constitutes the procreative Ogdoad. And the Valentinians maintain that those are the first projections which have taken place within the limit, and have been again denominated “those within the Pleroma;” and the second are “those without the Pleroma”; and the third, “those without the Limit.” Now the generation of these constitutes the Hysterema Acamoth. And he asserts that what has been generated from an Aeon, that exists in the Hysterema and has been projected (beyond the Limit), is the Creator. But Valentinus is not disposed to affirm what is thus generated to be primal Deity, but speaks in detractive terms both of Him and the things made by Him. And (he asserts) that Christ came down from within the Pleroma for the salvation of the spirit who had erred. This spirit, (according to the Valentinians,) resides in our inner man; and they say that this inner man obtains salvation on account of this indwelling spirit. Valentinus, however, (to uphold the doctrine,) determines that the flesh is not saved, and styles it “a leathern tunic,” and the perishable portion of man. I have (already) declared these tenets in the way of an epitome, inasmuch as in their systems there exists enlarged matter for discussion, and a variety of opinions. In this manner, then, it seems proper also to the school of Valentinus to propound their opinions.
But Basilides also himself affirms that there is a non-existent God, who, being non-existent, has made the non-existent world, that has been formed out of things that are not, by casting down a certain seed, as it were a grain of mustard-seed, having in itself stem, leaves, branches, and fruit. Or this seed is as a peacock’s egg, comprising in itself the varied multitude of colors. And this, say the Basilidians, constitutes the seed of the world, from which all things have been produced. For they maintain that it comprises in itself all things, as it were those that as yet are non-existent, and which it has been predetermined to be brought into existence by the non-existent Deity. There was, then, he says, in the seed itself a threefold Sonship, in all respects of the same substance with the nonexistent God, which has been begotten from things that are not. And of this Sonship, divided into three parts, one portion of it was refined, and another gross, and another requiring purification. The refined portion, when first the earliest putting down of the seed was accomplished by the non-existent God, immediately burst forth, and ascended upwards, and proceeded towards the non-existent Deity. For every nature yearns after that God on account of the excess of His beauty, but different (creatures desire Him) from different causes. The more gross portion, however, still continues in the seed; and inasmuch as it is a certain imitative nature, it was not able to soar upwards, for it was more gross than the subtle part. The more gross portion, however, equipped itself with the Holy Spirit, as it were with wings; for the Sonship, thus arrayed, shows kindness to this Spirit, and in turn receives kindness. The third Sonship, however, requires purification, and therefore this continued in the conglomeration of all germs, and this displays and receives kindness. And (Basilides asserts) that there is something which is called “world,” and something else (which is called) supra-mundane; for entities are distributed by him into two primary divisions. And what is intermediate between these he calls “Conterminous Holy Spirit,” and (this Spirit) has in itself the fragrance of the Sonship.
From the conglomeration of all germs of the cosmical seed burst forth and was begotten the Great Archon, the head of the world, an Aeon of inexpressible beauty and size. This (Archon) having raised Himself as far as the firmament, supposed that there was not another above Himself. And accordingly He became more brilliant and powerful than all the underlying Aeons, with the exception of the Sonship that had been left beneath, but which He was not aware was more wise than Himself. This one having His attention turned to the creation of the world, first begat a son unto Himself, superior to Himself; and this son He caused to sit on His own right hand, and this these Basilidians allege is the Ogdoad. The Great Archon Himself, then, produces the entire celestial creation. And other Archon ascended from (the conglomeration of) all the germs, who was greater than all the underlying Aeon, except the Sonship that had been left behind, yet far inferior to the former one. And they style this second Archon a Hebdomad. He is Maker, and Creator, and Controller of all things that are beneath Him, and this Archon produced for Himself a Son more prudent and wiser than Himself. Now they assert that all these things exist according to the predetermination of that non-existent God, and that there exist also worlds and intervals that are infinite. And the Basilidians affirm that upon Jesus, who was born of Mary, came the power of the Gospel, which descended and illuminated the Son both of the Ogdoad and of the Hebdomad. And this took place for the purpose of enlightening and distinguishing from the different orders of beings, and purifying the Sonship that had been left behind for conferring benefits on souls, and the receiving benefits in turn. And they say that themselves are sons, who are in the world for this cause, that by teaching they may purify souls, and along with the Sonship may ascend to the Father above, from whom proceeded the first Sonship. And they allege that the world endures until the period when all souls may have repaired thither along with the Sonship. These, however, are the opinions which Basilides, who detailed them as prodigies, is not ashamed to advance.
But Justinus also himself attempted to establish similar opinions with these, and expresses himself thus: That there are three unbegotten principles of the universe, two males and one female. And of the males one principle is denominated “Good.” Now this alone is called after this mode, and is endued with a foreknowledge of the universe. And the other is Father of all generated entities, and is devoid of foreknowledge, and unknown, and invisible, and is called Elohim. The female principle is devoid of foreknowledge, passionate, with two minds, and with two bodies, as we have minutely detailed in the previous discourses concerning this heretic’s system. This female principle, in her upper parts, as far as the groin, is, the Justinians say, a virgin, whereas from the groin downwards a snake. And such is denominated Eden and Israel. This heretic alleges that these are the principles of the universe, from which all things have been produced. And he asserts that Elohim, without foreknowledge, passed into inordinate desire for the half virgin, and that having had intercourse with her, he begot twelve angels; and the names of these he states to be those already given. And of these the paternal ones are connected with the father, and the maternal with the mother. And Justinus maintains that these are (the trees of Paradise), concerning which Moses has spoken in an allegorical sense the things written in the law. And Justinus affirms that all things were made by Elohim and Eden. And (he says) that animals, with the rest of the creatures of this kind, are from the part resembling a beast, whereas man from the parts above the groin. And Eden (is supposed by Justinus) to have deposited in man himself the soul, which was her own power, (but Elohim the spirit.) And Justinus alleges that this Elohim, after having learned his origin, ascended to the Good Being, and deserted Eden. And this heretic asserts that Eden, enraged on account of such (treatment), concocted all this plot against the spirit of Elohim which he deposited in man. And (Justinus informs us) that for this reason the Father sent Baruch, and issued directions to the prophets, in order that the spirit of Elohim might be delivered, and that all might be seduced away from Eden. But (this heretic) alleges that even Hercules was a prophet, and that he was worsted by Omphale, that is, by Babel; and the Justinians call the latter Venus. And (they say) that afterwards, in the days of Herod, Jesus was born son of Mary and Joseph, to whom he alleges Baruch had spoken. And (Justinus asserts) that Eden plotted against this (Jesus), but could not deceive him; and for this reason, that she caused him to be crucified. And the spirit of Jesus, (says Justinus,) ascended to the Good Being. And (the Justinians maintain) that the spirits of all who thus obey those silly and futile discourses will be saved, and that the body and soul of Eden have been left behind. But the foolish Justinus calls this (Eden) Earth.
Now the Docetae advance assertions of this description: that the primal Deity is as a seed of the fig-tree; and that from this proceeded three Aeons as the stem, and the leaves and the fruit; and that these projected thirty Aeons, each (of them) ten; and that they were all united in decades, but differed only in positions, as some were before others. And (the Docetae assert) that infinite Aeons were indefinitely projected, and that all these were hermaphrodites. And (they say) that these Aeons formed a design of simultaneously going together into one Aeon, and that from this the intermediate Aeon and from the Virgin Mary they begot a Savior of all. And this Redeemer was like in every respect to the first seed of the fig-tree, but inferior in this respect, from the fact of His having been begotten; for the seed whence the fig-tree springs is unbegotten. This, then, was the great light of the Aeons — it was entirely radiance — which receives no adornment, and comprises in itself the forms of all animals. And the Docetae maintain that this light, on proceeding into the underlying chaos, afforded a cause (of existence) to the things that were produced, and those actually existing, and that on coming down from above it impressed on chaos beneath the forms of everlasting species. For the third Aeon, which had tripled itself, when he perceives that all his characteristic attributes were forcibly drawn off into the nether darkness, and not being ignorant both of the terror of darkness and the simplicity of light, proceeded to create heaven; and after having rendered firm what intervened, He separated the darkness from the light. As all the species of the third Aeon were, he says, overcome by the darkness, the figure even of this Aeon became a living fire, having been generated by light. And from this (source), they allege, was generated the Great Archon, regarding whom Moses converses, saying that He is a fiery Deity and Demiurge, who also continually alters the forms of all (Aeons) into bodies. And the (Docetae) allege that these are the souls for whose sake the Savior was begotten, and that He points out the way through which the souls will escape that are (now) overpowered (by darkness). And (the Docetae maintain) that Jesus arrayed Himself in that only-begotten power, and that for this reason He could not be seen by any, on account of the excessive magnitude of His glory. And they say that all the occurrences took place with Him as it has been written in the Gospels.
But the followers of Monoimus the Arabian assert that the originating principle of the universe is a primal man and son of man; and that, as Moses states, the things that have been produced were produced not by the primal man, but by the Son of that primal man, yet not by the entire Son, but by part of Him. And (Monoimus asserts) that the Son of man is iota, which stands for ten, the principal number in which is (inherent) the subsistence of all number (in general, and) through which every number (in particular) consists, as well as the generation of the universe, fire, air, water, and earth. But inasmuch as this is one iota and one tittle, and what is perfect (emanates) from what is perfect, or, in other words, a tittle flows down from above, containing all things in itself; (therefore,) whatsoever things also the man possesses, the Father of the Son of man possesses likewise. Moses, therefore, says that the world was made in six days, that is, by six powers, out of which the world was made by the one tittle. For cubes, and octahedrons, and pyramids, and all figures similar to these, having equal superficies, out of which consist fire, air, water, and earth, have been produced from numbers comprehended in that simple tittle of the iota, which is Son of man. When, therefore, says (Monoimus), Moses mentions the rod’s being brandished for the purpose of bringing the plagues upon Egypt, he alludes allegorically to the (alterations of the) world of iota; nor did he frame more than ten plagues. If, however, says he, you wish to become acquainted with the universe, search within yourself who is it that says, “My soul, my flesh, and my mind,” and who is it that appropriates each one thing unto himself, as another (would do) for himself. Understand that this is a perfect one arising from (one that is) perfect, and that he considers as his own all so-called nonentities and all entities. These, then, are the opinions of Monoimus also.
Tatian, however, similarly with Valentinus and the others, says that there are certain invisible Aeons, and that by some one of these the world below has been created, and the things existing in it. And he habituates himself to a very cynical mode of life, and almost in nothing differs from Marcion, as appertaining both to his slanders, and the regulations enacted concerning marriage.
But Marcion, of Pontus, and Cerdon, his preceptor, themselves also lay down that there are three principles of the universe — good, just, and matter. Some disciples, however, of these add a fourth, saying, good, just, evil, and matter. But they all affirm that the good (Being) has made nothing at all, though some denominate the just one likewise evil, whereas others that his only title is that of just. And they allege that (the just Being) made all things out of subjacent matter, for that he made them not well, but irrationally. For it is requisite that the things made should be similar to the maker; wherefore also they thus employ the evangelical parables, saying, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit,” and the rest of the passage. Now Marcion alleges that the conceptions badly devised by the (just one) himself constituted the allusion in this passage. And (he says) that Christ is the Son of the good Being, and was sent for the salvation of souls by him whom he styles the inner than. And he asserts that he appeared as a man though not being a man, and as incarnate though not being incarnate. And he maintains that his manifestation was only phantastic, and that he underwent neither generation nor passion except in appearance. And he will not allow that flesh rises again; but in affirming marriage to be destruction, he leads his disciples towards a very cynical life. And by these means he imagines that he annoys the Creator, if he should abstain from the things that are made or appointed by Him.
But Apelles, a disciple of this heretic, was displeased at the statements advanced by his preceptor, as we have previously declared, and by another theory supposed that there are four gods. And the first of these he alleges to be the “Good Being,” whom the prophets did not know, and Christ to be His Son. And the second God, he affirms to be the Creator of the universe, and Him he does not wish to be a God. And the third God, he states to be the fiery one that was manifested; and the fourth to be an evil one. And Apelles calls these angels; and by adding (to their number) Christ likewise, he will assert Him to be a fifth God. But this heretic is in the habit of devoting his attention to a book which he calls “Revelations” of a certain Philumene, whom he considers a prophetess. And he affirms that Christ did not receive his flesh from the Virgin, but from the adjacent substance of the world. In this manner he composed his treatises against the law and the prophets, and attempts to abolish them as if they had spoken falsehoods, and had not known God. And Apelles, similarly with Marcion, affirms that the different sorts of flesh are destroyed.
Cerinthus, however, himself having been trained in Egypt, determined that the world was not made by the first God, but by a certain angelic power. And this power was far separated and distant from that sovereignty which is above the entire circle of existence, and it knows not the God (that is) above all things. And he says that Jesus was not born of a virgin, but that He sprang from Joseph and Mary as their son, similar to the rest of men; and that He excelled in justice, and prudence, and understanding above all the rest of mankind. And Cerinthus maintains that, after Jesus’ baptism, Christ came down in the form of a dove upon Him from the sovereignty that is above the whole circle of existence, and that then He proceeded to preach the unknown Father, and to work miracles. And he asserts that, at the conclusion of the passion, Christ flew away from Jesus, but that Jesus suffered, and that Christ remained incapable of suffering, being a spirit of the Lord.
But the Ebionaeans assert that the world is made by the true God, and they speak of Christ in a similar manner with Cerinthus. They live, however, in all respects according to the law of Moses, alleging that they are thus justified.
But Theodotus of Byzantium introduced a heresy of the following description, alleging that all things were created by the true God; whereas that Christ, he states, in a manner similar to that advocated by the Gnostics already mentioned, made His appearance according to some mode of this description. And Theodotus affirms that Christ is a man of a kindred nature with all men, but that He surpasses them in this respect, that, according to the counsel of God, He had been born of a virgin, and the Holy Ghost had overshadowed His mother. This heretic, however, maintained that Jesus had not assumed flesh in the womb of the Virgin, but that afterwards Christ descended upon Jesus at His baptism in form of a dove. And from this circumstance, the followers of Theodotus affirm that at first miraculous powers did not acquire operating energy in Savior Himself. Theodotus, however, determines to deny the divinity of Christ. Now, opinions of this description were advanced by Theodotus.
And others also make all their assertions similarly with those which have been already specified, introducing one only alteration, viz., in respect of regarding Melchisedec as a certain power. But they allege that Melchisedec himself is superior to all powers; and according to his image, they are desirous of maintaining that Christ likewise is generated.
The Phrygians, however, derive the principles of their heresy from a certain Montanus, and Priscilla, and Maximilla, and regard these wretched women as prophetesses, and Montanus as a prophet. In respect, however, of what appertains to the origin and creation of the universe, the Phrygians are supposed to express themselves correctly; while in the tenets which they enunciate respecting Christ, they have not irrelevantly formed their opinions. But they are seduced into error in common with the heretics previously alluded to, and devote their attention to the discourses of these above the Gospels, thus laying down regulations concerning novel and strange fasts.
But others of them, being attached to the heresy of the Noetians, entertain similar opinions to those relating to the silly women of the Phrygians, and to Montanus. As regards, however, the truths appertaining to the Father of the entire of existing things, they are guilty of blasphemy, because they assert that He is Son and Father, visible and invisible, begotten and unbegotten, mortal and immortal. These have taken occasion from a certain Noetus to put forward their heresy.
But in like manner, also, Noetus, being by birth a native of Smyrna, and a fellow addicted to reckless babbling, as well as crafty withal, introduced (among us) this heresy which originated from one Epigonus. It reached Rome, and was adopted by Cleomenes, and so has continued to this day among his successors. Noetus asserts that there is one Father and God of the universe, and that He made all things, and was imperceptible to those that exist when He might so desire. Noetus maintained that the Father then appeared when He wished; and He is invisible when He is not seen, but visible when He is seen. And this heretic also alleges that the Father is unbegotten when He is not generated, but begotten when He is born of a virgin; as also that He is not subject to suffering, and is immortal when He does not suffer or die. When, however, His passion came upon Him, Noetus allows that the Father suffers and dies. And the Noetians suppose that this Father Himself is called Son, (and vice versa,) in reference to the events which at their own proper periods happen to them severally.
Callistus corroborated the heresy of these Noetians, but we have already carefully explained the details of his life. And Callistus himself produced likewise a heresy, and derived its starting-points from these Noetians, — namely, so far as he acknowledges that there is one Father and God, viz., the Creator of the universe, and that this (God) is spoken of, and called by the name of Son, yet that in substance He is one Spirit. For Spirit, as the Deity, is, he says, not any being different from the Logos, or the Logos from the Deity; therefore this one person, (according to Callistus,) is divided nominally, but substantially not so. He supposes this one Logos to be God, and affirms that there was in the case of the Word an incarnation. And he is disposed (to maintain), that He who was seen in the flesh and was crucified is Son, but that the Father it is who dwells in Him. Callistus thus at one time branches off into the opinion of Noetus, but at another into that of Theodotus, and holds no sure doctrine. These, then, are the opinions of Callistus.
But one Hermogenes himself also being desirous of saying something, asserted that God made all things out of matter coeval with Himself, and subject to His design. For Hermogenes held it to be an impossibility that God should make the things that were made, except out of existent things.
But certain others, introducing as it were some novel tenet, appropriated parts of their system from all heresies, and procured a strange volume, which bore on the title page the name of one Elchasai. These, in like manner, acknowledge that the principles of the universe were originated by the Deity. They do not, however, confess that there is but one Christ, but that there is one that is superior to the rest, and that He is transfused into many bodies frequently, and was now in Jesus. And, in like manner, these heretics maintain that at one time Christ was begotten of God, and at another time became the Spirit, and at another time was born of a virgin, and at another time not so. And they affirm that likewise this Jesus afterwards was continually being transfused into bodies, and was manifested in many (different bodies) at different times. And they resort to incantations and baptisms in their confession of elements. And they occupy themselves with bustling activity in regard of astrological and mathematical science, and of the arts of sorcery. But also they allege themselves to have powers of prescience.
... From Haran, a city of Mesopotamia, (Abraham, by the command) of God, transfers his residence into the country which is now called Palestine and Judea, but then the region of Canaan. Now, concerning this territory, we have in part, but still not negligently, rendered an account in other discourses. From the circumstance, then, (of this migration) is traceable the beginning of an increase (of population) in Judea, which obtained its name from Judah, fourth son of Jacob, whose name was also called Israel, from the fact that a race of kings would be descended from him. Abraham removes from Mesopotamia (when 75 years old, and) when 100 years old he begat Isaac. But Isaac, when 60 years of age, begat Jacob. And Jacob, when 86 years old, begat Levi; and Levi, at 40 years of age, begat Caath; and Caath was four years of age when he went down with Jacob into Egypt. Therefore the entire period during which Abraham sojourned, and the entire family descended from him by Isaac, in the country then called Canaanitis, was 215 years. But the father of this Abraham is Thare, and of this Thare the father is Nachor, and of this Nachor the father is Serag, and of this Serag the father is Reu, and of this Reu the father is Peleg, and of this Peleg the father is Heber. And so it comes to pass that the Jews are denominated by the name of Hebrews. In the time of Phaleg, however, arose the dispersion of nations. Now these nations were 72, corresponding with the number of Abraham’s children. And the names of these nations we have likewise set down in other books, not even omitting this point in its own proper place. And the reason of our particularity is our desire to manifest to those who are of a studious disposition the love which we cherish towards the Divinity, and the indubitable knowledge respecting the Truth, which in the course of our labors we have acquired possession of. But of this Heber the father is Salah; and of this Salah the father is Cainan; and of this Cainan the father is Arphaxad, whose father is Shem; and of this Shem the father is Noah. And in Noah’s time there occurred a flood throughout the entire world, which neither Egyptians, nor Chaldeans, nor Greeks recollect; for the inundations which took place in the age of Ogyges and Deucalion prevailed only in the localities where these dwelt. There are, then, in the case of these (patriarchs — that is, from Noah to Heber inclusive) — 5 generations, and 495 years. This Noah, inasmuch as he was a most religious and God-loving man, alone, with wife and children, and the three wives of these, escaped the flood that ensued. And he owed his preservation to an ark; and both the dimensions and relics of this ark are, as we have explained, shown to this day in the mountains called Ararat, which are situated in the direction of the country of the Adiabeni. It is then possible for those who are disposed to investigate the subject industriously, to perceive how clearly has been demonstrated the existence of a nation of worshippers of the true God, more ancient than all the Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Greeks. What necessity, however, is there at present to specify those who, anterior to Noah, were both devout men, and permitted to hold converse with the true God, inasmuch as, so far as the subject taken in hand is concerned, this testimony in regard of the antiquity of the people of God is sufficient?
But since it does not seem irrational to prove that these nations that had their attention engrossed with the speculations of philosophy are of more modern date than those that had habitually worshipped the true God, it is reasonable that we should state both whence the family of these latter originated; and that when they took up their abode in these countries, they did not receive a name from the actual localities, but claimed for themselves names from those who were primarily born, and had inhabited these. Noah had three sons — Shem, Ham, and Japheth. From these the entire family of man was multiplied, and every quarter of the earth owes its inhabitants in the first instance to these. For the word of God to them prevailed, when the Lord said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” So great efficacy had that one word that from the three sons of Noah are begotten in the family 72 children, — (viz.,) from Shem, 25; from Japheth, 15; and from Ham, 32. Unto Ham, however, these 32 children are born in accordance with previous declarations. And among Ham’s children are: Canaan, from whom came the Canaanites; Mizraim, from whom the Egyptians; Cush, from whom the Ethiopians; and Phut, from whom the Libyans. These, according to the language prevalent among them, are up to the present day styled by the appellation of their ancestors; nay, even in the Greek tongue they are called by the names by which they have been now denominated. But even supposing that neither these localities had been previously inhabited, nor that it could be proved that a race of men from the beginning existed there, nevertheless these sons of Noah, a worshipper of God, are quite sufficient to prove the point at issue. For it is evident that Noah himself must have been a disciple of devout people, for which reason he escaped the tremendous, though transient, threat of water.
How, then, should not the worshippers of the true God be of greater antiquity than all Chaldeans, Egyptians, and Greeks, for we must bear in mind that the father of these Gentiles was born from this Japheth, and received the name Javan, and became the progenitor of Greeks and Ionians? Now, if the nations that devoted themselves to questions concerning philosophy are shown to belong to a period altogether more recent than the race of the worshippers of God as well as the time of the deluge, how would not the nations of the barbarians, and as many tribes as in the world are known and unknown, appear to belong to a more modern epoch than these? Therefore ye Greeks, Egyptians, Chaldeans, and the entire race of men, become adepts in this doctrine, and learn from us, who are the friends of God, what the nature of God is, and what His well-arranged creation. And we have cultivated this system, not expressing ourselves in mere pompous language, but executing our treatises in terms that prove our knowledge of truth and our practice of good sense, our object being the demonstration of His Truth.
The first and only (one God), both Creator and Lord of all, had nothing coeval with Himself; not infinite chaos, nor measureless water, nor solid earth, nor dense air, not warm fire, nor refined spirit, nor the azure canopy of the stupendous firmament. But He was One, alone in Himself. By an exercise of His will He created things that are, which antecedently had no existence, except that He willed to make them. For He is fully acquainted with whatever is about to take place, for foreknowledge also is present to Him. The different principles, however, of what will come into existence, He first fabricated, viz., fire and spirit, water and earth, from which diverse elements He proceeded to form His own creation. And some objects He formed of one essence, but others He compounded from two, and others from three, and others from four. And those formed of one substance were immortal, for in their case dissolution does not follow, for what is one will never be dissolved. Those, on the other hand, which are formed out of two, or three, or four substances, are dissoluble; wherefore also are they named mortal. For this has been denominated death; namely, the dissolution of substances connected. I now therefore think that I have sufficiently answered those endued with a sound mind, who, if they are desirous of additional instruction, and are disposed accurately to investigate the substances of these things, and the causes of the entire creation, will become acquainted with these points should they peruse a work of ours comprised (under the title), Concerning the Substance of the Universe. I consider, however, that at present it is enough to elucidate those causes of which the Greeks, not being aware, glorified, in pompous phraseology, the parts of creation, while they remained ignorant of the Creator. And from these the heresiarchs have taken occasion, and have transformed the statements previously made by those Greeks into similar doctrines, and thus have framed ridiculous heresies.
Therefore this solitary and supreme Deity, by an exercise of reflection, brought forth the Logos first; not the word in the sense of being articulated by voice, but as a ratiocination of the universe, conceived and residing in the divine mind. Him alone He produced from existing things; for the Father Himself constituted existence, and the being born from Him was the cause of all things that are produced. The Logos was in the Father Himself, bearing the will of His progenitor, and not being unacquainted with the mind of the Father. For simultaneously with His procession from His Progenitor, inasmuch as He is this Progenitor’s first-born, He has, as a voice in Himself, the ideas conceived in the Father. And so it was, that when the Father ordered the world to come into existence, the Logos one by one completed each object of creation, thus pleasing God. And some things which multiply by generation He formed male and female; but whatsoever beings were designed for service and ministration He made either male, or not requiring females, or neither male nor female. For even the primary substances of these, which were formed out of nonentities, viz., fire and spirit, water and earth, are neither male nor female; nor could male or female proceed from any one of these, were it not that God, who is the source of all authority, wished that the Logos might render assistance in accomplishing a production of this kind. I confess that angels are of fire, and I maintain that female spirits are not present with them. And I am of opinion that sun and moon and stars, in like manner, are produced from fire and spirit, and are neither male nor female. And the will of the Creator is, that swimming and winged animals are from water, male and female. For so God, whose will it was, ordered that there should exist a moist substance, endued with productive power. And in like manner God commanded, that from earth should arise reptiles and beasts, as well males and females of all sorts of animals; for so the nature of the things produced admitted. For as many things as He willed, God made from time to time. These things He created through the Logos, it not being possible for things to be generated otherwise than as they were produced. But when, according as He willed, He also formed (objects), He called them by names, and thus notified His creative effort. And making these, He formed the ruler of all, and fashioned him out of all composite substances. The Creator did not wish to make him a god, and failed in His aim; nor an angel, — be not deceived, — but a man. For if He had willed to make thee a god, He could have done so. Thou hast the example of the Logos. His will, however, was, that you should be a man, and He has made thee a man. But if thou art desirous of also becoming a god, obey Him that has created thee, and resist not now, in order that, being found faithful in that which is small, you may be enabled to have entrusted to you also that which is great.
The Logos alone of this God is from God himself; wherefore also the Logos is God, being the substance of God. Now the world was made from nothing; wherefore it is not God; as also because this world admits of dissolution whenever the Creator so wishes it. But God, who created it, did not, nor does not, make evil. He makes what is glorious and excellent; for He who makes it is good. Now man, that was brought into existence, was a creature endued with a capacity of self-determination, yet not possessing a sovereign intellect, nor holding sway over all things by reflection, and authority, and power, but a slave to his passions, and comprising all sorts of contrarieties in himself. But man, from the fact of his possessing a capacity of self-determination, brings forth what is evil, that is, accidentally; which evil is not consummated except you actually commit some piece of wickedness. For it is in regard of our desiring anything that is wicked, or our meditating upon it, that what is evil is so denominated. Evil had no existence from the beginning, but came into being subsequently. Since man has free will, a law has been defined for his guidance by the Deity, not without answering a good purpose. For if man did not possess the power to will and not to will, why should a law be established? For a law will not be laid down for an animal devoid of reason, but a bridle and a whip; whereas to man has been given a precept and penalty to perform, or for not carrying into execution what has been enjoined. For man thus constituted has a law been enacted by just men in primitive ages. Nearer our own day was there established a law, full of gravity and justice, by Moses, to whom allusion has been already made, a devout man, and one beloved of God.
Now the Logos of God controls all these; the first begotten Child of the Father, the voice of the Dawn antecedent to the Morning Star. Afterwards just men were born, friends of God; and these have been styled prophets, on account of their foreshowing future events. And the word of prophecy was committed unto them, not for one age only; but also the utterances of events predicted throughout all generations, were vouchsafed in perfect clearness. And this, too, not at the time merely when seers furnished a reply to those present; but also events that would happen throughout all ages, have been manifested beforehand; because, in speaking of incidents gone by, the prophets brought them back to the recollection of humanity; whereas, in showing forth present occurrences, they endeavored to persuade men not to be remiss; while, by foretelling future events, they have rendered each one of us terrified on beholding events that had been predicted long before, and on expecting likewise those events predicted as still future. Such is our faith, O all ye men, — ours, I say, who are not persuaded by empty expressions, nor caught away by sudden impulses of the heart, nor beguiled by the plausibility of eloquent discourses, yet who do not refuse to obey words that have been uttered by divine power. And these injunctions has God given to the Word. But the Word, by declaring them, promulgated the divine commandments, thereby turning man from disobedience, not bringing him into servitude by force of necessity, but summoning him to liberty through a choice involving spontaneity.
This Logos the Father in the latter days sent forth, no longer to speak by a prophet, and not wishing that the Word, being obscurely proclaimed, should be made the subject of mere conjecture, but that He should be manifested, so that we could see Him with our own eyes. This Logos, I say, the Father sent forth, in order that the world, on beholding Him, might reverence Him who was delivering precepts not by the person of prophets, nor terrifying the soul by an angel, but who was Himself — He that had spoken — corporally present amongst us. This Logos we know to have received a body from a virgin, and to have remodeled the old man by a new creation. And we believe the Logos to have passed through every period in this life, in order that He Himself might serve as a law for every age, and that, by being present (amongst) us, He might exhibit His own manhood as an aim for all men. And that by Himself in Person He might prove that God made nothing evil, and that man possesses the capacity of self-determination, inasmuch as he is able to will and not to will, and is endued with power to do both. This Man we know to have been made out of the compound of our humanity. For if He were not of the same nature with ourselves, in vain does He ordain that we should imitate the Teacher. For if that Man happened to be of a different substance from us, why does He lay injunctions similar to those He has received on myself, who am born weak; and how is this the act of one that is good and just? In order, however, that He might not be supposed to be different from us, He even underwent toil, and was willing to endure hunger, and did not refuse to feel thirst, and sunk into the quietude of slumber. He did not protest against His Passion, but became obedient unto death, and manifested His resurrection. Now in all these acts He offered up, as the first-fruits, His own manhood, in order that thou, when thou art in tribulation, mayest not be disheartened, but, confessing thyself to be a man (of like nature with the Redeemer), mayest dwell in expectation of also receiving what the Father has granted unto this Son.
Such is the true doctrine in regard of the divine nature, O ye men, Greeks and Barbarians, Chaldeans and Assyrians, Egyptians and Libyans, Indians and Ethiopians, Celts, and ye Latins, who lead armies, and all ye that inhabit Europe, and Asia, and Libya. And to you I am become an adviser, inasmuch as I am a disciple of the benevolent Logos, and hence humane, in order that you may hasten and by us may be taught who the true God is, and what is His well-ordered creation. Do not devote your attention to the fallacies of artificial discourses, nor the vain promises of plagiarizing heretics, but to the venerable simplicity of unassuming truth. And by means of this knowledge you shall escape the approaching threat of the fire of judgment, and the rayless scenery of gloomy Tartarus, where never shines a beam from the irradiating voice of the Word!
You shall escape the boiling flood of hell’s eternal lake of fire and the eye ever fixed in menacing glare of fallen angels chained in Tartarus as punishment for their sins; and you shall escape the worm that ceaselessly coils for food around the body whose scum has bred it. Now such (torments) as these shalt thou avoid by being instructed in a knowledge of the true God. And thou shalt possess an immortal body, even one placed beyond the possibility of corruption, just like the soul. And thou shalt receive the kingdom of heaven, thou who, whilst thou didst sojourn in this life, didst know the Celestial King. And thou shalt be a companion of the Deity, and a co-heir with Christ, no longer enslaved by lusts or passions, and never again wasted by disease. For thou hast become God: for whatever sufferings thou didst undergo while being a man, these He gave to thee, because thou wast of mortal mold, but whatever it is consistent with God to impart, these God has promised to bestow upon thee, because thou hast been deified, and begotten unto immortality. This constitutes the import of the proverb, “Know thyself;” i.e., discover God within thyself, for He has formed thee after His own image. For with the knowledge of self is conjoined the being an object of God’s knowledge, for thou art called by the Deity Himself. Be not therefore inflamed, O ye men, with enmity one towards another, nor hesitate to retrace with all speed your steps. For Christ is the God above all, and He has arranged to wash away sin from human beings, rendering regenerate the old man. And God called man His likeness from the beginning, and has evinced in a figure His love towards thee. And provided thou obeyest His solemn injunctions, and becomest a faithful follower of Him who is good, thou shalt resemble Him, inasmuch as thou shalt have honor conferred upon thee by Him. For the Deity, (by condescension,) does not diminish aught of the divinity of His divine perfection; having made thee even God unto His glory!