Irenaeus of Lyons
Against the Heresies (“Adversus Haereses”)
(1 of 2 files)
Irenaeus is known to us as bishop of Lyons, but his origins are in the Eastern church, in one of the communities influenced by the apostle John, and near to Ephesus, once the centre of St. Paul's missionary activity. He came to the banks of the Rhone, near the Western outposts of the empire, where for nearly a century Christian missions had flourished. Between Marseilles and Smyrna there seems to have been a brisk trade, and Polycarp had sent Pothinus on mission into Gaul early in the second century. He had fixed his see at Lyons, when Irenaeus joined him as a presbyter, having been a student with him under Polycarp.
Under emperor Marcus Aurelius, a terrible persecution arose (A.D. 177), which made many martyrs at Lyons and Vienne. During this persecution Irenaeus was sent to Rome with letters of complaint against the rising waves of heresy and may have written the account of the martyrs' sufferings which is appended to their testimony. He was probably a native of Smyrna, or some neighbouring city, in Asia Minor, for he tells how in early youth he was acquainted with Polycarp, the bishop of that city. This suggests that his birth is somewhere between 120 to 130 A.D.
It is certain that he was bishop of Lyons, in France, during the last quarter of the second century. The circumstances of his appointment are unclear. Eusebius states (Hist. Eccl., v.4) that while yet a presbyter, he was sent with a letter to pope Eleutherus, that is, between A.D. 182 and A.D. 188, for Victor became pope in 189 A.D. The new bishop of Rome took harsh measures to enforce uniformity throughout the Church for the observance of the paschal solemnities. Irenaeus wrote him a letter (only a fragment of which remains), warning that if he persisted in this severity it could rend the Catholic Church. This letter had the desired result; the question was more temperately debated, until settled by the Council of Nice. Irenaeus is supposed to have died about A.D. 202; but we may doubt the statement of Jerome, repeated by subsequent writers, that he suffered martyrdom, since neither Tertullian nor Eusebius, nor other early authorities, make any mention of it.
Johannes Quasten characterises Irenaeus as "by far the most important of the theologians of the second century", the one who provides an excellent refutation and critical analysis of the fantastic speculations of the Gnostics. "With a comprehensive knowledge of sources he combines moral seriousness and religious enthusiasm. His thorough acquaintance with ecclesiastical tradition, which he owed tro his friendship with Polycarp and with the other disciples of the apostles, was a great help in his fight against heresy." (Patrology I, 288).
Of the many works that he wrote in his native Greek only two have survived, one, an apologia for the Christian faith, intended to be read by pagan outsiders, and the other, for which he is celebrated, was titled Elegxoj kai anatrofh thj yeudonomou gnwsewj (Detection and overthrow of the pretended but false Knowledge) but is best known as Adversus Haereses. As the title suggests, volume one of this work is devoted to an analysis of the many forms of Gnosis propounded by people like Valentinian, Menander and Simon Magus. Only then does he set to refuting that multiform Gnostic vogue so prevalent in the second century, setting against it his own exposition and defence of the Catholic faith.
He divides this work into five books. The first is a minute description of the tenets of the various heretical sects, with brief remarks on their absurdity. The second argues at great length against them, principally on grounds of reason. The three remaining books set forth the doctrines of revelation, as utterly opposed to the views of the Gnostic teachers. In the course of this argument, many passages of Scripture are quoted and commented on; and important light is shed on the doctrines as well as the practices of the Church of the second century. The reader is sorely tried, in following Irenaeus though those contorted mazes of Gnostic speculations, especially in the first two books.
"The whole work suffers from a lack of clear arrangement and unity of thought. Prolixity and frequent repetitions make its perusal wearisome. The reason for this defect is most probably that the author wrote the work intermittently... Evidently he did not have the ability to shape his material into a homogeneous whole... Nevertheless Irenaeus knows how to give a simple, clear and convincing description of the doctrines of the Church. His work remains therefore of the greatest importance for the knowledge of the Gnostic systems and the theology of the early Church." (Quasten, Ibid. I, 289-290)
Preface: Evil interpreters of the good word of revelation.
1. Absurd "Aeons" of the Valentinians; abuse of the Scriptures in support of these views
2. Their "Propator;" and how Christ and the Holy Spirit came to be
3. Biblical texts used by the heretics
4. Their goddess Achamoth, whose disturbance made the visible world
5. Their "Demiurge", who creates everything outside of the Pleroma
6. Their distinction of men into three kinds; themselves needing no good works
7. Perverse opinions about Mother Achamoth, and the incarnation of Christ
8. Valentinian perversion of the Scriptures
9. Refutation of their impious interpretations
10. Unity of faith of the Church throughout the whole world
11. The opinions of Valentinus, with those of his disciples and others
12. The doctrines of the followers of Ptolemy and Colorbasus
13. The deceitful arts and nefarious practices of Marcus
14. Ideas of Marcus and others, about letters and syllables
15. Sige reveals to Marcus the generation of the twenty-four elements and of Jesus.
16. Absurd interpretations of the Marcosians
17. The Marcosians' theory of creation: all made after the image of things invisible
18. Passages from Moses, used by the heretics
19. Scriptures they use to prove that the Father was unknown before Christ
20. Apocryphal Scriptures of the Marcosians, with passages of the Gospels they misuse
21. The views of redemption entertained by these heretics
22. Deviations of heretics from the truth
23. Doctrines and practices of Simon Magus and Menander
24. Doctrines of Saturninus and Basilides
25. Doctrines of Carpocrates
26. Doctrines of Cerinthus, the Ebionites, and Nicolaitans
27. Doctrines of Cerdo and Marcion
28. Doctrines of Tatian, the Encratites, and others
29. Doctrines of various other Gnostic sects
30. Doctrines of the Ophites and Sethians
31. Doctrine of the Cainites, about great powers given to Cain
1. Inasmuch as certain men have set the truth aside, and bring in lying words and vain genealogies, which, as the apostle says, "minister questions rather than godly edifying which is in faith," and by means of their craftily-constructed plausibilities draw away the minds of the inexperienced and take them captive, (I have felt constrained, my dear friend, to compose the following treatise in order to expose and counteract their machinations.) These men falsify the oracles of God, and prove themselves evil interpreters of the good word of revelation. They also overthrow the faith of many, by drawing them away, under a pretense of (superior) knowledge, from him who rounded and adorned the universe; as if, indeed, they had something more excellent and sublime to reveal, than that God who created the heaven and the earth, and all things that are therein. By means of specious and plausible words, they cunningly allure the simple-minded to enquire into their system; but they nevertheless clumsily destroy them, while they initiate them into their blasphemous and impious opinions respecting the Demiurge; and these simple ones are unable, even in such a matter, to distinguish falsehood from truth.
2. Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, for fear that, being so exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself. One far superior to me has well said, in reference to this point, "A clever imitation in glass casts contempt, so to speak, on that precious jewel the emerald (which is most highly esteemed by some), unless it come under the eye of one able to test and expose the counterfeit. Or, again, what inexperienced person can with ease detect the presence of brass when it has been mixed up with silver?" For fear that, therefore, through my neglect, some should be carried off, even as sheep are by wolves, while they perceive not the true character of these men,-because they outwardly are covered with sheep's clothing (against whom the Lord has enjoined us to be on our guard), and because their language resembles ours, while their sentiments are very different, – I have deemed it my duty (after reading some of the Commentaries, as they call them, of the disciples of Valentinus, and after making myself acquainted with their tenets through personal intercourse with some of them) to unfold to you, my friend, these portentous and profound mysteries, which do not fall within the range of every intellect, because all have not sufficiently purged their brains. I do this, in order that you, obtaining an acquaintance with these things, may in turn explain them to all those with whom you are connected, and exhort them to avoid such an abyss of madness and of blasphemy against Christ. I intend, then, to the best of my ability, with brevity and clearness to set forth the opinions of those who are now promulgating heresy. I refer especially to the disciples of Ptolemaeus, whose school may be described as a bud from that of Valentinus. I shall also endeavour, according to my moderate ability, to furnish the means of overthrowing them, by showing how absurd and inconsistent with the truth are their statements. Not that I am practiced either in composition or eloquence; but my feeling of affection prompts me to make known to you and all your companions those doctrines which have been kept in concealment until now, but which are at last, through the goodness of God, brought to light. "For there is nothing hidden which shall not be revealed, nor secret that shall not be made known."
3. You will not expect from me, who am resident among the Keltae, and am accustomed for the most part to use a barbarous dialect, any display of rhetoric, which I have never learned, or any excellence of composition, which I have never practiced, or any beauty and persuasiveness of style, to which I make no pretensions. But you will accept in a kindly spirit what I in a like spirit write to you simply, truthfully, and in my own homely way; while you yourself, being more capable than I am, will expand those ideas of which I send you, so to speak, only the seminal principles; and in the comprehensiveness of your understanding, will develop to their full extent the points on which I briefly touch, so as to set with power before your companions those things which I have uttered in weakness. So then as, to gratify your long-cherished desire for information regarding the tenets of these persons, I have spared no pains, not only to make these doctrines known to you, but also to furnish the means of showing their falsity; so shall you, according to the grace given to you by the Lord, prove an earnest and efficient minister to others, that men may no longer be drawn away by the plausible system of these heretics, which I now proceed to describe.
1. They maintain, then, that in the invisible and inexpressible heights above there exists a certain perfect, pre-existent Aeon, whom they call Proarche, Propator, and Bythus, and describe as being invisible and incomprehensible. Eternal and unbegotten, he remained throughout innumerable cycles of ages in profound serenity and quiescence. There existed along with him Ennoea, whom they also call xarij and Sigh. At last this Bythus determined to send forth from himself the beginning of all things, and deposited this production (which he had resolved to bring forth) in his contemporary Sigh, even as seed is deposited in the womb. She then, having received this seed, and becoming pregnant, gave birth to Nous, who was both similar and equal to him who had produced him, and was alone capable of comprehending his father's greatness. This Nous they call also Monogenes, and Father, and the Beginning of all Things. Along with him was also produced Aletheia; and these four constituted the first and first-begotten Pythagorean Tetrad, which they also denominate the root of all things. For there are first Bythus and Sigh, and then Nouj and Alhqeia, and Monogenhj, perceiving for what purpose he had been produced, also himself sent forth Logoj and Zwh, being the father of all those who were to come after him, and the beginning and fashioning of the entire Pleroma. By the conjunction of Logos and Zoe were brought forth Anthropos and Ecclesia; and so was formed the first-begotten Ogdoad, the root and substance of all things, called among them by four names, that is, Bythus, and Nous, and Logos, and Anthropos. For each of these is masculo-feminine, as follows: Propator was united by a conjunction with his Ennoea; then Monogenes, that is Nous, with Aletheia; Logos with Zoe, and Anthropos with Ecclesia.
2. These Aeons having been produced for the glory of the Father, and wishing, by their own efforts, to effect this object, sent forth emanations by means of conjunction. Logos and Zoe, after producing Anthropos and Ecclesia, sent forth other ten Aeons, whose names are the following: Bythius and Mixis, Ageratos and Henosis, Autophyes and Hedone, Acinetos and Syncrasis, Monogenes and Macaria. These are the ten Aeons whom they declare to have been produced by Logos and Zoe. They then add that Anthropos himself, along with Ecclesia, produced twelve Aeons, to whom they give the following names: Paracletus and Pistis, Patricos and Elpis, Metricos and Agape, Ainos and Synesis, Ecclesiasticus and Macariotes, Theletos and Sophia.
3. Such are the thirty Aeons in the erroneous system of these men; and they are described as being wrapped up, so to speak, in silence, and known to none (except these professing teachers). Moreover, they declare that this invisible and spiritual Pleroma of theirs is tripartite, being divided into an Ogdoad, a Decade, and a Duodecad. And for this reason they affirm it was that the "Saviour" – for they do not please to call him "Lord" – did no work in public during the space of thirty years, so setting forth the mystery of these Aeons. They maintain also, that these thirty Aeons are most plainly indicated in the parable of the labourers sent into the vineyard. For some are sent about the first hour, others about the third hour, others about the sixth hour, others about the ninth hour, and others about the eleventh hour. Now, if we add up the numbers of the hours here mentioned, the sum total will be thirty: for one, three, six, nine, and eleven, when added together, form thirty. And by the hours, they hold that the aeons were pointed out; while they maintain that these are great, and wonderful, and hereto unspeakable mysteries which it is their special function to develop; and so they proceed when they find anything in the multitude of things contained in the Scriptures which they can adopt and accommodate to their baseless speculations.
Their "Propator;” and how Christ and the Holy Spirit came to be
1. They proceed to tell us that the Propator of their scheme was known only to Monogenes, who sprang from him; in other words, only to Nous, while to all the others he was invisible and incomprehensible. And, according to them, Nous alone took pleasure in contemplating the Father, and exulting in considering his immeasurable greatness; while he also meditated how he might communicate to the rest of the aeons the greatness of the Father, revealing to them how vast and mighty he was, and how he was without beginning, – beyond comprehension, and altogether incapable of being seen. But, in accordance with the will of the Father, Sige restrained him, because it was his design to lead them all to an acquaintance with the aforesaid Propator, and to create within them a desire of investigating his nature. In the same way, the rest of the aeons also, in a kind of quiet way, had a wish to behold the Author of their being, and to contemplate that First Cause which had no beginning.
2. But there rushed forth in advance of the rest that Aeon who was much the latest of them, and was the youngest of the Duodecad which sprang from Anthropos and Ecclesia, namely Sophia, and suffered passion apart from the embrace of her consort Theletos. This passion, indeed, first arose among those who were connected with Nous and Aletheia, but passed as by contagion to this degenerate Aeon, who acted under a pretense of love, but was in reality influenced by temerity, because she had not, like Nous, enjoyed communion with the perfect Father. This passion, they say, consisted in a desire to search into the nature of the Father; for she wished, according to them, to comprehend his greatness. When she could not attain her end, inasmuch as she aimed at an impossibility, and so became involved in an extreme agony of mind, while both on account of the vast profundity as well as the unsearchable nature of the Father, and on account of the love she bore him, she was ever stretching herself forward, there was danger for fear that she should at last have been absorbed by his sweetness, and resolved into his absolute essence, unless she had met with that Power which supports all things, and preserves them outside of the unspeakable greatness. This power they term Horos; by whom, they say, she was restrained and supported; and that then, having with difficulty been brought back to herself, she was convinced that the Father is incomprehensible, and so laid aside her original design, along with that passion which had arisen within her from the overwhelming influence of her admiration.
3. But others of them fabulously describe the passion and restoration of Sophia as follows: They say that she, having engaged in an impossible and impracticable attempt, brought forth an amorphous substance, such as her female nature enabled her to produce. When she looked on it, her first feeling was one of grief, on account of the imperfection of its generation, and then of fear for fear that this should end her own existence. Next she lost, so to speak, all command of herself, and was in the greatest perplexity while endeavouring to discover the cause of all this, and in what way she might conceal what had happened. Being greatly harassed by these passions, she at last changed her mind, and endeavoured to return anew to the Father. When, however, she in some measure made the attempt, strength failed her, and she became a suppliant of the Father. The other aeons, Nous in particular, presented their supplications along with her. And hence they declare material substance had its beginning from ignorance and grief, and fear and bewilderment.
4. The Father afterwards produces, in his own image, by means of Monogenes, the above-mentioned Horos, without conjunction, masculo-feminine. For they maintain that sometimes the Father acts in conjunction with Sige, but that at other times he shows himself independent both of male and female. They term this Horos both Stauros and Lytrotes, and Carpistes, and Horothetes, and Metagoges. And by this Horos they declare that Sophia was purified and established, while she was also restored to her proper conjunction. For her enthymesis (or inborn idea) having been taken away from her, along with its supervening passion, she herself certainly remained within the Pleroma; but her enthymesis, with its passion, was separated from her by Horos, fenced off, and expelled from that circle. This enthymesis was, no doubt, a spiritual substance, possessing some of the natural tendencies of an Aeon, but at the same time shapeless and without form, because it had received nothing. And on this account they say that it was an imbecile and feminine production.
5. After this substance had been placed outside of the Pleroma of the aeons, and its mother restored to her proper conjunction, they tell us that Monogenes, acting in accordance with the prudent forethought of the Father, gave origin to another conjugal pair, namely Christ and the Holy Spirit (for fear that any of the aeons should fall into a calamity similar to that of Sophia), for the purpose of fortifying and strengthening the Pleroma, and who at the same time completed the number of the aeons. Christ then instructed them as to the nature of their conjunction, and taught those who those who possessed a comprehension of the Unbegotten were sufficient for themselves. He also announced among them what related to the knowledge of the Father, – namely, that he cannot be understood or comprehended, nor so much as seen or heard, except in so far as he is known by Monogenes only. And the reason why the rest of the aeons possess perpetual existence is found in that part of the Father's nature which is incomprehensible; but the reason of their origin and formation was situated in that which may be comprehended regarding him, that is, in the Son. Christ, then, who had just been produced, effected these things among them.
6. But the Holy Spirit taught them to give thanks on being all rendered equal among themselves, and led them to a state of true repose. So, then, they tell us that the aeons were constituted equal to each other in form and sentiment, so that all became as Nous, and Logos, and Anthropos, and Christus. The female aeons, too, became all as Aletheia, and Zoe, and Spiritus, and Ecclesia. Everything, then, being so established, and brought into a state of perfect rest, they next tell us that these beings sang praises with great joy to the Propator, who himself shared in the abounding exaltation. Then, out of gratitude for the great benefit which had been conferred on them, the whole Pleroma of the aeons, with one design and desire, and with the concurrence of Christ and the Holy Spirit, their Father also setting the seal of his approval on their conduct, brought together whatever each one had in himself of the greatest beauty and preciousness; and uniting all these contributions so as skillfully to blend the whole, they produced, to the honour and glory of Bythus, a being of most perfect beauty, the very star of the Pleroma, and the perfect fruit (of it), namely Jesus. Him they also speak of under the name of Saviour, and Christ, and patronymically, Logos, and Everything, because he was formed from the contributions of all. And then we are told that, by way of honour, angels of the same nature as himself were simultaneously produced, to act as his body-guard.
Biblical texts used by the heretics
1. Such, then, is the account they give of what took place within the Pleroma; such the calamities that flowed from the passion which seized on the Aeon who has been named, and who was within a little of perishing by being absorbed in the universal substance, through her inquisitive searching after the Father; such the consolidation (of that Aeon) from her condition of agony by Horos, and Stauros, and Lytrotes, and Carpistes, and Horothetes, and Metagoges. Such also is the account of the generation of the later aeons, namely of the first Christ and of the Holy Spirit, both of whom were produced by the Father after the repentance (of Sophia), and of the second Christ (whom they also style Saviour), who owed his being to the joint contributions (of the aeons). They tell us, however, that this knowledge has not been openly divulged, because all are not capable of receiving it, but has been mystically revealed by the Saviour in parables to those qualified for understanding it. This has been done as follows. The thirty aeons are indicated (as we have already remarked) by the thirty years during which they say the Saviour performed no public act, and by the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. Paul also, they affirm, very clearly and frequently names these aeons, and even goes so far as to preserve their order, when he says, "To all the generations of the aeons of the Aeon." No, we ourselves, when at the giving of thanks we pronounce the words, "To aeons of aeons" (for ever and ever), do set forth these aeons. And, in fine, wherever the words Aeon or aeons occur, they at once refer them to these beings.
2. The production, again, of the Duodecad of the aeons, is indicated by the fact that the Lord was twelve years of age when he disputed with the teachers of the law, and by the election of the apostles, for of these there were twelve. The other eighteen aeons are made manifest in this way: that the Lord, (according to them), conversed with his disciples for eighteen months after his resurrection from the dead. They also affirm that these eighteen aeons are strikingly indicated by the first two letters of his name (Ihsou~v), namely Iota and Eta. And, in the same way, they assert that the ten Aeons are pointed out by the letter Iota, which begins his name; while, for the same reason, they tell us the Saviour said, "One Iota, or one tittle, shall by no means pass away until all be fulfilled."
3. They further maintain that the passion which took place in the case of the twelfth Aeon is pointed at by the apostasy of Judas, who was the twelfth apostle, and also by the fact that Christ suffered in the twelfth month. For their opinion is, that he continued to preach for one year only after his baptism. The same thing is also most clearly indicated by the case of the woman who suffered from an issue of blood. For after she had been so afflicted during twelve years, she was healed by the advent of the Saviour, when she had touched the border of his garment; and on this account the Saviour said, "Who touched me?" – teaching his disciples the mystery which had occurred among the Aeons, and the healing of that Aeon who had been involved in suffering. For she who had been afflicted twelve years represented that power whose essence, as they narrate, was stretching itself forth, and flowing into immensity; and unless she had touched the garment of the Son, that is, Aletheia of the first Tetrad, who is denoted by the hem spoken of, she would have been dissolved into the general essence (of which she participated). She stopped short, however, and ceased any longer to suffer. For the power that went forth from the Son (and this power they term Horos) healed her, and separated the passion from her.
4. They moreover affirm that the Saviour is shown to be derived from all the Aeons, and to be in himself everything by the following passage: "Every male that opens the womb." For He, being everything, opened the womb of the enthymesis of the suffering Aeon, when it had been expelled from the Pleroma. This they also style the second Ogdoad, of which we shall speak presently. And they state that it was clearly on this account that Paul said, "And he himself is all things;" and again, "All things are to him, and of him are all things;" and further, "In him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead;" and yet again, "All things are gathered together by God in Christ." So do they interpret these and any like passages to be found in Scripture.
5. They show, further, that that Horos of theirs, whom they call by a variety of names, has two faculties, – the one of supporting, and the other of separating; and in so far as he supports and sustains, he is Stauros, while in so far as he divides and separates, he is Horos. They then represent the Saviour as having indicated this twofold faculty: first, the sustaining power, when he said, "Whosoever does not bear his cross (Stauros), and follow after me, cannot be my disciple;" and again, "Taking up the cross follow me;" but the separating power when he said, "I came not to send peace, but a word." They also maintain that John indicated the same thing when he said, "The fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge the floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable." By this declaration he set forth the faculty of Horos. For that fan they explain to be the cross (Stauros), which consumes, no doubt, all material objects, as fire does chaff, but it purifies all those who are saved, as a fan does wheat. Moreover, they affirm that the Apostle Paul himself made mention of this cross in the following words: "The doctrine of the cross is to those who perish foolishness, but to us who are saved it is the power of God." And again: "God forbid that I should glory in anything save in the cross of Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world."
6. Such, then, is the account which they all give of their Pleroma, and of the formation of the universe, striving, as they do, to adapt the good words of revelation to their own wicked inventions. And it is not only from the writings of the evangelists and the apostles that they endeavour to derive proofs for their opinions by means of perverse interpretations and deceitful expositions: they deal in the same way with the Law and the prophets, which contain many parables and allegories that can frequently be drawn into various senses, according to the kind of exegesis to which they are subjected. And others of them, with great craftiness, adapted such parts of Scripture to their own figments, lead away captive from the truth those who do not retain a steadfast faith in one God, the Father Almighty, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Their goddess Achamoth, whose disturbance made the visible world
1. The following are the transactions which they narrate as having occurred outside of the Pleroma: The enthymesis of that Sophia who dwells above, which they also term Achamoth, being removed from the Pleroma, together with her passion, they relate to have, as a matter of course, become violently excited in those places of darkness and vacuity (to which she had been banished). For she was excluded from light and the Pleroma, and was without form or figure, like an untimely birth, because she had received nothing (from a male parent). But the Christ dwelling on high took pity on her; and having extended himself through and beyond Stauros, he imparted a figure to her, but merely as respected substance, and not so as to convey intelligence. Having effected this, he withdrew his influence, and returned, leaving Achamoth to herself, in order that she, becoming aware of her suffering as being severed from the Pleroma, might be influenced by the desire of better things, while she possessed in the meantime a kind of odour of immortality left in her by Christ and the Holy Spirit. Therefore also she is called by two names – Sophia after her father (for Sophia is spoken of as being her father), and Holy Spirit from that Spirit who is along with Christ. Having then obtained a form, along with intelligence, and being immediately deserted by that Logos who had been invisibly present with her – that is, by Christ – she strained herself to discover that light which had forsaken her, but could not effect her purpose, inasmuch as she was prevented by Horos. And as Horos so obstructed her further progress, he exclaimed, IAO, from which, they say, this name Iao derived its origin. And when she could not pass by Horos on account of that passion in which she had been involved, and because she alone had been left without, she then resigned herself to every sort of that manifold and varied state of passion to which she was subject; and so she suffered grief on the one hand because she had not obtained the object of her desire, and fear on the other hand, for fear that life itself should fail her, as light had already done, while, in addition, she was in the greatest perplexity. All these feelings were associated with ignorance. And this ignorance of hers was not like that of her mother, the first Sophia, an Aeon, due to degeneracy by means of passion, but to an (innate) opposition (of nature to knowledge). Moreover, another kind of passion fell on her (Achamoth), namely, that of desiring to return to him who gave her life.
2. This collection (of passions) they declare was the substance of the matter from which this world was formed. For from (her desire of) returning (to him who gave her life), every soul belonging to this world, and that of the Demiurge himself, derived its origin. All other things owed their beginning to her terror and sorrow. For from her tears all that is of a liquid nature was formed; from her smile all that is lucent; and from her grief and perplexity all the corporeal elements of the world. For at one time, as they affirm, she would weep and lament on account of being left alone in the midst of darkness and vacuity; while, at another time, reflecting on the light which had forsaken her, she would be filled with joy, and laugh; then, again, she would be struck with terror; or, at other times, would sink into consternation and bewilderment.
3. Now what follows from all this? No light tragedy comes out of it, as the fancy of every man among them pompously explains, one in one way, and another in another, from what kind of passion and from what element being derived its origin. They have good reason, as seems to me, why they should not feel inclined to teach these things to all in public, but only to such as are able to pay a high price for an acquaintance with such profound mysteries. For these doctrines are not at all similar to those of which our Lord said, "Freely you have received, freely give." They are, on the contrary, abstruse, and portentous, and profound mysteries, to be got at only with great labour by such as are in love with falsehood. For who would not expend lull that he possessed, if only he might learn in return, that from the tears of the enthymesis of the Aeon involved in passion, seas, and fountains, and rivers, and every liquid substance derived its origin; that light burst forth from her smile; and that from her perplexity and consternation the corporeal elements of the world had their formation?
4. I feel somewhat inclined myself to contribute a few hints towards the development of their system. For when I perceive that waters are in part fresh, such as fountains, rivers, showers, and so on, and in part salt; such as those in the sea, I reflect with myself that all such waters cannot be derived from her tears, inasmuch as these are of a saline quality only. It is clear, therefore, that the waters which are salt are alone those which are derived from her tears. But it is probable that she, in her intense agony and perplexity, was covered with perspiration. And hence, following out their system, we may conceive that fountains and rivers, and all the fresh water in the world, are due to this source. For it is difficult, since we know that all tears are of the same quality, to believe that waters both salt and fresh proceeded from them. The more plausible supposition is, that some are from her tears, and some from her perspiration. And since there are also in the world certain waters which are hot and acrid in their nature, you must be left to guess their origin, how and from where. Such are some of the results of their hypothesis.
5. They go on to state that, when the mother Achamoth had passed through all sorts of passion, and had with difficulty escaped from them, she turned herself to supplicate the light which had forsaken her, that is, Christ. He, however, having returned to the Pleroma, and being probably unwilling again to descend from it, sent forth to her the Paraclete, that is, the Saviour. This being was endowed with all power by the Father, who placed everything under his authority, the Aeons doing so likewise, so that "by him were all things, visible and invisible, created, thrones, divinities, dominions." He then was sent to her along with his contemporary angels. And they related that Achamoth, filled with reverence, at first veiled herself through modesty, but that by and by, when she had looked on him with all his endowments, and had acquired strength from his appearance, she ran forward to meet him. He then imparted to her form as respected intelligence, and brought healing to her passions, separating them from her, but not so as to drive them out of thought altogether. For it was not possible that they should be annihilated as in the former case, because they had already taken root and acquired strength (so as to possess an indestructible existence). All that he could do was to separate them and set them apart, and then commingle and condense them, so as to transmute them from incorporeal passion into unorganized matter. He then by this process conferred on them a fitness and a nature to become concretions and corporeal structures, in order that two substances should be formed, – the one evil, resulting from the passions, and the other subject indeed to suffering, but originating from her conversion. And on this account (i.e., on account of this hypostatizing of ideal matter) they say that the Saviour virtually created the world. But when Achamoth was freed from her passion, she gazed with rapture on the dazzling vision of the angels that were with him; and in her ecstasy, conceiving by them, they tell us that she brought forth new beings, partly after her oven image, and partly a spiritual progeny after the image of the Saviour's attendants.
Their "Demiurge", who creates everything outside of the Pleroma
1. These three kinds of existence, then, having, according to them, been now formed, – one from the passion, which was matter; a second from the conversion, which was animal; and the third, that which she (Achamoth) herself brought forth, which was spiritual, – she next addressed herself to the task of giving these form. But she could not succeed in doing this as respected the spiritual existence, because it was of the same nature with herself. She therefore applied herself to give form to the animal substance which had proceeded from her own conversion, and to bring forth to light the instructions of the Saviour. And they say she first formed out of animal substance him who is Father and King of all things, both of these which are of the same nature with himself, that is, animal substances, which they also call right-handed, and those which sprang from the passion, and from matter, which they call left-handed. For they affirm that he formed all the things which came into existence after him, being secretly impelled to it by his mother. From this circumstance they style him Metropator, Apator, Demiurge, and Father, saying that he is Father of the substances on the right hand, that is, of the animal, but Demiurge of those on the left, that is, of the material, while he is at the same time the king of all. For they say that this Enthymesis, desirous of making all things to the honour of the Aeons, formed images of them, or rather that the Saviour did so through her instrumentality. And she, in the image of the invisible Father, kept herself concealed from the Demiurge. But he was in the image of the only-begotten Son, and the angels and archangels created by him were in the image of the rest of the Aeons.
2. They affirm, therefore, that he was constituted the Father and God of everything outside of the Pleroma, being the creator of all animal and material substances. For he it was that discriminated these two kinds of existence hereto confused, and made corporeal from incorporeal substances, fashioned things heavenly and earthly, and became the Framer (Demiurge) of things material and animal, of those on the right and those on the left, of the light and of the heavy, and of those tending upwards as well as of those tending downwards. He created also seven heavens, above which they say that he, the Demiurge, exists. And on this account they term him Hebdomas, and his mother Achamoth Ogdoads, preserving the number of the first-begotten and primary Ogdoad as the Pleroma. They affirm, moreover, that these seven heavens are intelligent, and speak of them as being angels, while they refer to the Demiurge himself as being an angel bearing a likeness to God; and in the same strain, they declare that Paradise, situated above the third heaven, is a fourth angel possessed of power, from whom Adam derived certain qualities while he conversed with him.
3. They go on to say that the Demiurge imagined that he created all these things of himself, while he in reality made them in conjunction with the productive power of Achamoth. He formed the heavens, yet was ignorant of the heavens; he fashioned man, yet knew not man; he brought to light the earth, yet had no acquaintance with the earth; and, in the same way. They declare that he was ignorant of the forms of all that he made, and knew not even of the existence of his own mother, but imagined that he himself was all things. They further affirm that his mother originated this opinion in his mind, because she desired to bring him forth possessed of such a character that he should be the head and source of his own essence, and the absolute ruler over every kind of operation (that was afterwards attempted). This mother they also call Ogdoad, Sophia; Terra, Jerusalem, Holy Spirit, and, with a masculine reference, Lord. Her place of habitation is an intermediate one, above the Demiurge indeed, but below and outside of the Pleroma, even to the end.
4. As, then, they represent all material substance to be formed from three passions, that is, fear, grief, and perplexity, the account they give is as follows: Animal substances originated from fear and from conversion; the Demiurge they also describe as owing his origin to conversion; but the existence of all the other animal substances they ascribe to fear, such as the souls of irrational animals, and of wild beasts, and men. And on this account, he (the Demiurge), being incapable of recognising any spiritual essences, imagined himself to be God alone, and declared through the prophets, "I am God, and besides me there is none else." They further teach that the spirits of wickedness derived their origin from grief. Therefore the devil, whom they also call Cosmocrator (the ruler of the world), and the demons, and the angels, and every wicked spiritual being that exists, found the source Of their existence. They represent the Demiurge as being the son of that mother of theirs (Achamoth), and Cosmocrator as the creature of the Demiurge. Cosmocrator has knowledge of what is above himself, because he is a spirit of wickedness; but the Demiurge is ignorant of such things, inasmuch as he is merely animal. Their mother dwells in that place which is above the heavens, that is, in the intermediate abode; the Demiurge in the heavenly place, that is, in the hebdomad; but the Cosmocrator in this our world. The corporeal elements of the world, again, sprang, as we before remarked, from bewilderment and perplexity, as from a more ignoble source. So the earth arose from her state of stupor; water from the agitation caused by her fear; air from the consolidation of her grief; while fire, producing death and corruption, was inherent in all these elements, even as they teach that ignorance also lay concealed in these three passions.
5. Having so formed the world, he (the Demiurge) also created the earthy (part of) man, not taking him from this dry earth, but from an invisible substance consisting of fusible and fluid matter, and then afterwards, as they define the process, breathed into him the animal part of his nature. It was this latter which was created after his image and likeness. The material part, indeed, was very near to. God, so far as the image went, but not of the same substance with him. The animal, on the Other hand, was so in respect to likeness; and hence his substance was called the spirit of life, because it took its rise from a spiritual outflowing. After all this, he was, they say, enveloped all round with a covering of skin; and by this they mean the outward sensitive flesh.
6. But they further affirm that the Demiurge himself was ignorant of that offspring of his mother Achamoth, which she brought forth as a consequence of her contemplation of those angels who waited on the Saviour, and which was, like herself, of a spiritual nature. She took advantage of this ignorance to deposit it (her production) in him without his knowledge, in order that, being by his instrumentality infused into that animal soul proceeding from himself, and being so carried as in a womb in this material body, while it gradually increased in strength, might in course of time become fitted for the reception of perfect rationality. So it happened, then, according to them, that, without any knowledge on the part of the Demiurge, the man formed by his inspiration was at the same time, through an unspeakable providence, rendered a spiritual man by the simultaneous inspiration received from Sophia. For, as he was ignorant of his mother, so neither did he recognise her offspring. This (offspring) they also declare to be the Ecclesia, an emblem of the Ecclesia which is above. This, then, is the kind of man whom they conceive of: he has his animal soul from the Demiurge, his body from the earth, his fleshy part from matter, and his spiritual man from the mother Achamoth.
Their distinction of men into three kinds; themselves needing no good works
1. There being so three kinds of substances, they declare of all that is material (which they also describe as being "on the left hand”) that it must of necessity perish, inasmuch as it is incapable of receiving any afflatus of incorruption. As to every animal existence (which they also denominate "on the right hand”), they hold that, inasmuch as it is a mean between the spiritual and the material, it passes to the side to which inclination draws it. Spiritual substance, again, they describe as having been sent forth for this end, that, being here united with that which is animal, it might assume shape, the two elements being simultaneously subjected to the same discipline. And this they declare to be "the salt" and "the light of the world." For the animal substance had need of training by means of the outward senses; and on this account they affirm that the world was created, as well as that the Saviour came to the animal substance (which was possessed of free-will), that he might secure for it salvation. For they affirm that he received the first-fruits of those whom he was to save (as follows), from Achamoth that which was spiritual, while he was invested by the Demiurge with the animal Christ, but was begirt by a (special) dispensation with a body endowed with an animal nature, yet constructed with unspeakable skill, so that it might be visible and tangible, and capable of enduring suffering. At the same time, they deny that he assumed anything material (into his nature), since indeed matter is incapable of salvation. They further hold that the consummation of all things will take place when all that is spiritual has been formed and perfected by Gnosis (knowledge); and by this they mean spiritual men who have attained to the perfect knowledge of God, and been initiated into these mysteries by Achamoth. And they represent themselves to be these persons.
2. Animal men, again, are instructed in animal things; such men, namely, as are established by their works, and by a mere faith, while they have not perfect knowledge. We of the Church, they say, are these persons. Therefore also they maintain that good works are necessary to us, for that otherwise it is impossible we should be saved. But as to themselves, they hold that they shall be entirely and undoubtedly saved, not by means of conduct, but because they are spiritual by nature. For, just as it is impossible that material substance should partake of salvation (since, indeed, they maintain that it is incapable of receiving it), so again it is impossible that spiritual substance (by which they mean themselves) should ever come under the power of corruption, whatever the sort of actions in which they indulged. For even as gold, when submersed in filth, loses not on that account its beauty, but retains its own native qualities, the filth having no power to injure the gold, so they affirm that they cannot in any measure suffer hurt, or lose their spiritual substance, whatever the material actions in which they may be involved.
3. Therefore also it happens that the "most perfect" among them addict themselves without fear to all those kinds of forbidden deeds of which the Scriptures assure us that "they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." For instance, they make no scruple about eating meats offered in sacrifice to idols, imagining that they can in this way contract no defilement. Then, again, at every heathen festival celebrated in honour of the idols, these men are the first to assemble; and to such a pitch do they go, that some of them do not even keep away from that bloody spectacle hateful both to God and men, in which gladiators either fight with wild beasts, or singly encounter one another. Others of them yield themselves up to the lusts of the flesh with the utmost greediness, maintaining that carnal things should be allowed to the carnal nature, while spiritual things are provided for the spiritual. Some of them, moreover, are in the habit of defiling those women to whom they have taught the above doctrine, as has frequently been confessed by those women who have been led astray by certain of them, on their returning to the Church of God, and acknowledging this along with the rest of their errors. Others of them, too, openly and without a blush, having become passionately attached to certain women, seduce them away from their husbands, and contract marriages of their own with them. Others of them, again, who pretend at first. To live in all modesty with them as with sisters, have in course of time been revealed in their true colours, when the sister has been found with child by her (pretended) brother.
4. And committing many other abominations and impieties, they run us down (who from the fear of God guard against sinning even in thought or word) as utterly contemptible and ignorant persons, while they highly exalt themselves, and claim to be perfect, and the elect seed. For they declare that we simply receive grace for use, therefore also it will again be taken away from us; but that they themselves have grace as their own special possession, which has descended from above by means of an unspeakable and indescribable conjunction; and on this account more will be given them. They maintain, therefore, that in every way it is always necessary for them to practice the mystery of conjunction. And that they may persuade the thoughtless to believe this, they are in the habit of using these very words, "Whosoever being in this world does not so love a woman as to obtain possession of her, is not of the truth, nor shall attain to the truth. But whosoever being of this world has intercourse with woman, shall not attain to the truth, because he has so acted under the power of concupiscence." On this account, they tell us that it is necessary for us whom they call animal men, and describe as being of the world, to practice continence and good works, that by this means we may attain at length to the intermediate habitation, but that to them who are called "the spiritual and perfect" such a course of conduct is not at all necessary. For it is not conduct of any kind which leads into the Pleroma, but the seed sent forth thence in a feeble, immature state, and here brought to perfection.
Perverse opinions about Mother Achamoth, and the incarnation of Christ
1. When all the seed shall have come to perfection, they state that then their mother Achamoth shall pass from the intermediate place, and enter in within the Pleroma, and shall receive as her spouse the Saviour, who sprang from all the Aeons, that so a conjunction may be formed between the Saviour and Sophia, that is, Achamoth. These, then, are the bridegroom and bride, while the nuptial chamber is the full extent of the Pleroma. The spiritual seed, again, being rid of their animal souls, and becoming intelligent spirits, shall in an irresistible and invisible manner enter in within the Pleroma, and be bestowed as brides on those angels who wait on the Saviour. The Demiurge himself will pass into the place of his mother Sophia; that is, the intermediate habitation. In this intermediate place, also, shall the souls of the righteous repose; but nothing of an animal nature shall find admittance to the Pleroma. When these things have taken place as described, then shall that fire which lies hidden in the world blaze forth and bum; and while destroying all matter, shall also be extinguished along with it, and have no further existence. They affirm that the Demiurge was acquainted with none of these things before the advent of the Saviour.
2. There are also some who maintain that he also produced Christ as his own proper son, but of an animal nature, and that mention was made of him by the prophets. This Christ passed through Mary just as water flows through a tube; and there descended on him in the form of a dove it the time of his baptism, that Saviour who belonged to the Pleroma, and was formed by the combined efforts of all its inhabit ants. In him there existed also that spiritual seed which proceeded from Achamoth. They hold, accordingly, that our Lord, while preserving the type of the first-begotten and primary tetrad, was compounded of these four substances, – of that which is spiritual, in so far as he was from Achamoth; of that which is animal, as being from the Demiurge by a special dispensation, inasmuch as he was formed (corporeally) with unspeakable skill; and of the Saviour, as respects that dove which descended on him. He also continued free from all suffering, since indeed it was not possible that he should suffer who was at once incomprehensible and invisible. And for this reason the Spirit of Christ, who had been placed within him, was taken away when he was brought before Pilate. They maintain, further, that not even the seed which he had received from the mother (Achamoth) was subject to suffering; for it, too, was impassible, as being spiritual, and invisible even to the Demiurge himself. It follows, then, according to them, that the animal Christ, and that which had been formed mysteriously by a special dispensation, underwent suffering, that the mother might exhibit through him a type of the Christ above, namely, of him who extended himself through Stauros, and imparted to Achamoth shape, so far as substance was concerned. For they declare that all these transactions were counterparts of what took place above.
3. They maintain, moreover, that those souls which possess the seed of Achamoth are superior to the rest, and are more dearly loved by the Demiurge than others, while he knows not the true cause thereof, but imagines that they are what they are through his favour towards them. Therefore, also, they say he distributed them to prophets, priests, and kings; and they declare that many things were spoken by this seed through the prophets, inasmuch as it was endowed with a transcendently lofty nature. The mother also, they say, spoke much about things above, and that both through him and through the souls which were formed by him. Then, again, they divide the prophecies (into different classes), maintaining that one portion was uttered by the mother, a second by her seed, and a third by the Demiurge. In the same way, they hold that Jesus uttered some things under the influence of the Saviour, others under that of the mother, and others still under that of the Demiurge, as we shall show further on in our work.
4. The Demiurge, while ignorant of those things which were higher than himself, was indeed excited by the announcements made (through the prophets), but treated them with contempt, attributing them sometimes to one cause and sometimes to another; either to the prophetic spirit (which itself possesses the power of self-excitement), or to (mere unassisted) man, or that it was simply a crafty device of the lower (and baser order of men). He remained so ignorant until the appearing of the Lord. But they relate that when the Saviour came, the Demiurge learned all things from him, and gladly with all, his power joined himself to him. They maintain that he is the centurion mentioned in the Gospel, who addressed the Saviour in these words: "For I also am one having soldiers and servants under my authority; and whatever I command they do." They further hold that he will continue administering the affairs of the world as long as that is fitting and needful, and specially that he may exercise a care over the Church; while at the same time he is influenced by the knowledge of the reward prepared for him, namely, that he may attain to the habitation of his mother.
5. They conceive, then, of three kinds of men, spiritual, material, and animal, represented by Cain, Abel, and Seth. These three natures are no longer found in one person, but constitute various kinds (of men). The material goes, as a matter of course, into corruption. The animal, if it make choice of the better part, finds repose in the intermediate place; but if the worse, it too shall pass into destruction. But they assert that the spiritual principles which have been sown by Achamoth, being disciplined and nourished here from that time until now in righteous souls (because when given forth by her they were yet but weak), at last attaining to perfection, shall be given as brides to the angels of the Saviour, while their animal souls of necessity rest for ever with the Demiurge in the intermediate place. And again subdividing the animal souls themselves, they say that some are by nature good, and others by nature evil. The good are those who become capable of receiving the (spiritual) seed; the evil by nature are those who are never able to receive that seed.
Valentinian perversion of the Scriptures
1. Such, then, is their system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; and, to use a common proverb, they strive to weave ropes of sand, while they endeavour to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wicked are in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions. Their way of acting is just as if one, when a beautiful image of a king has been constructed by some skillful artist out of precious jewels, should then take this likeness of the man all to pieces, should rearrange the gems, and so fit them together as to make them into the form of a dog or of a fox, and even that but poorly executed; and should then maintain and declare that this was the beautiful image of the king which the skillful artist constructed, pointing to the jewels which had been admirably fitted together by the first artist to form the image of the king, but have been with bad effect transferred by the latter one to the shape of a dog, and by so exhibiting the jewels, should deceive the ignorant who had no conception what a king's form was like, and persuade those who that miserable likeness of the fox was, in fact, the beautiful image of the king. In the same way do these persons patch together old wives' fables, and then endeavour, by violently drawing away from their proper connection, words, expressions, and parables whenever found, to adapt the oracles of God to their baseless fictions. We have already stated how far they proceed in this way with respect to the interior of the Pleroma.
2. Then, again, as to those things outside of their Pleroma, the following are some specimens of what they attempt to accommodate out of the Scriptures to their opinions. They affirm that the Lord came in the last times of the world to endure suffering, for this end, that he might indicate the passion which occurred to the last of the Aeons, and might by his own end announce the cessation of that disturbance which had risen among the Aeons. They maintain, further, that that girl of twelve years old, the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue, to whom the Lord approached and raised her from the dead, was a type of Achamoth, to whom their Christ, by extending himself, imparted shape, and whom he led anew to the perception of that light which had forsaken her. And that the Saviour appeared to her when she lay outside of the Pleroma as a kind of abortion, they affirm Paul to have declared in his Letter to the Corinthians (in these words), "And last of all, he appeared to me also, as to one born out of due time." Again, the coming of the Saviour with his attendants to Achamoth is declared in the same way by him in the same Letter, when he says, "A woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels." Now, that Achamoth, when the Saviour came to her, drew a veil over herself through modesty, Moses rendered manifest when he put a veil on his face. Then, also, they say that the passions which she endured were indicated by the Lord on the cross. So, when he said, "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" he simply showed that Sophia was deserted by the light, and was restrained by Horos from making any advance forward. Her anguish, again, was indicated when he said, "my soul is very sorrowful, even to death;" her fear by the words, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;" and her perplexity, too, when he said, "And what I shall say, I know not."
3. And they teach that he pointed out the three kinds of men as follows: the material, when he said to the one who asked him, "Shall I follow you?" "The Son of man has not where to lay his head;" – the animal, when he said to the one who declared, "I will follow you, but suffer me first to bid them farewell that are in my house," "No man, putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven" (for this man they declare to be of the intermediate class, even as they do that other who, though he professed to have performed a large amount of righteousness, yet refused to follow him, and was so overcome by (the love of) riches, as never to reach perfection) – this one it pleases them to place in the animal class; – the spiritual, again, when he said, "Let the dead bury their dead, but go you and preach the kingdom of God," and when he said to Zaccheus the publican, "Make haste, and come down, for today I must abide in your house" – for these they declared to have belonged to the spiritual class. Also the parable of the leaven which the woman is described as having hid in three measures of meal, they declare to make manifest the three classes. For, according to their teaching, the woman represented Sophia; the three measures of meal, the three kinds of men – spiritual, animal, and material; while the leaven denoted the Saviour himself. Paul, too, very plainly set forth the material, animal, and spiritual, saying in one place, "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy;" and in another place, "But the animal man receives not the things of the Spirit;" and again: "He that is spiritual judges all things." And this, "The animal man receives not the things of the Spirit," they affirm to have been spoken concerning the Demiurge, who, as being animal, knew neither his mother who was spiritual, nor her seed, nor the Aeons in the Pleroma. And that the Saviour received first-fruits of those whom he was to save, Paul declared when he said, "And if the first-fruits be holy, the lump is also holy," teaching that the expression "first-fruits" denoted that which is spiritual, but that "the lump" meant us, that is, the animal Church, the lump of which they say he assumed, and blended it with himself, inasmuch as he is "the leaven."
4. Moreover, that Achamoth wandered beyond the Pleroma, and received form from Christ, and was sought after by the Saviour, they declare that he indicated when he said, that he had come after that sheep which was gone astray. For they explain the wandering sheep to mean their mother, by whom they represent the Church as having been sown. The wandering itself denotes her stay outside of the Pleroma in a state of varied passion, from which they maintain that matter derived its origin. The woman, again, who sweeps the house and finds the piece of money, they declare to denote the Sophia above, who, having lost her enthymesis, afterwards recovered it, on all things being purified by the advent of the Saviour. Therefore this substance also, according to them, was reinstated in Pleroma. They say, too, that Simeon, "who took Christ into his arms, and gave thanks to God, and said, Lord, now let you your servant depart in peace, according to your word," was a type of the Demiurge, who, on the arrival of the Saviour, learned his own change of place, and gave thanks to Bythus. They also assert that by Anna, who is spoken of in the gospel as a prophetess, and who, after living seven years with her husband, passed all the rest of her life in widowhood until she saw the Saviour, and recognised him, and spoke of him to all, was most plainly indicated Achamoth, who, having for a little while looked on the Saviour with his associates, and dwelling all the rest of the time in the intermediate place, waited for him until he should come again, and restore her to her proper consort. Her name, too, was indicated by the Saviour, when he said, "Yet wisdom is justified by her children." This, too, was done by Paul in these words," But we speak wisdom among those who are perfect." They declare also that Paul has referred to the conjunctions within the Pleroma, showing them forth by means of one; for, when writing of the conjugal union in this life, he expressed himself so: "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church."
5. Further, they teach that John, the disciple of the Lord, indicated the first Ogdoad, expressing themselves in these words: John, the disciple of the Lord, wishing to set forth the origin of all things, so as to explain how the Father produced the whole, lays down a certain principle, – that, namely, which was first-begotten by God, which Being he has termed both the only-begotten Son and God, in whom the Father, after a seminal manner, brought forth all things. By him the Word was produced, and in him the whole substance of the Aeons, to which the Word himself afterwards imparted form. Since, therefore, he treats of the first origin of things, he rightly proceeds in his teaching from the beginning, that is, from God and the Word. And he expresses himself so: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; the same was in the beginning with God." Having first of all distinguished these three – God, the Beginning, and the Word – he again unites them, that he may exhibit the production of each of them, that is, of the Son and of the Word, and may at the same time show their union with one another, and with the Father. For "the beginning" is in the Father, and of the Father, while "the Word" is in the beginning, and of the beginning. Very properly, then, did he say, "In the beginning was the Word," for he was in the Son; "and the Word was with God," for he was the beginning; "and the Word was God," of course, for that which is begotten of God is God. "The same was in the beginning with God" – this clause discloses the order of production. "All things were made by him, and without him nothing was made;" for the Word was the author of form and beginning to all the Aeons that came into existence after him. But "what was made in him," says John, "is life." Here again he indicated conjunction; for all things, he said, were made by him, but in him was life. This, then, which is in him, is more closely connected with him than those things which were simply made by him, for it exists along with him, and is developed by him. When, again, he adds, "And the life was the light of men," while so mentioning Anthropos, he indicated also Ecclesia by that one expression, in order that, by using only one name, he might disclose their fellowship with one another, in virtue of their conjunction. For Anthropos and Ecclesia spring from Logos and Zoe. Moreover, he named life (Zoh) the light of men, because they are enlightened by her, that is, formed and made manifest. This also Paul declares in these words: "For whatever does make manif is light." Since, therefore, Zoe manifested and begot both Anthropos and Ecclesia, she is termed their light. So, then, did John by these words reveal both other things and the second Tetrad, Logos and Zoe, Anthropos and Ecclesia. And still further, he also indicated the first Tetrad. For, in discoursing of the Saviour and declaring that all things beyond the Pleroma received form from him, he says that he is the fruit of the entire Pleroma. For he styles him a "light which shines in darkness, and which was not comprehended" by it, inasmuch as, when he imparted form to all those things which had their origin from passion, he was not known by it. He also styles him Son, and Aletheia, and Zoe, and the "Word made flesh, whose glory," he says, "we beheld; and his glory was as that of the Only-begotten (given to him by the Father), full of grace and truth." (But what John really does say is this: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. ”) So, then, does he (according to them) distinctly set forth the first Tetrad, when he speaks of the Father, and Charis, and Monogenes, and Aletheia. In this way, too, does John tell of the first Ogdoad, and that which is the mother of all the Aeons. For he mentions the Father, and Charis, and Monogenes, and Aletheia, and Logos, and Zoe, and Anthropos, and Ecclesia. Such are the views of Ptolemaeus.
Refutation of their impious interpretations
1. You see, my friend, the method which these men employ to deceive themselves, while they abuse the Scriptures by endeavouring to support their own system out of them. For this reason, I have brought forward their modes of expressing themselves, that so you might understand the deceitfulness of their procedure, and the wickedness of their error. For, in the first place, if it had been John's intention to set forth that Ogdoad above, he would surely have preserved the order of its production, and would doubtless have placed the primary Tetrad first as being, according to them, most venerable and would then have annexed the second, that, by the sequence of the names, the order of the Ogdoad might be exhibited, and not after so long an interval, as if forgetful for the moment and then again calling the matter to mind, he, last of all, made mention of the primary Tetrad. In the next place, if he had meant to indicate their conjunctions, he certainly would not have omitted the name of Ecclesia; while, with respect to the other conjunctions, he either would have been satisfied with the mention of the male (Aeons) (since the others (like Ecclesia) might be understood), so as to preserve a uniformity throughout; or if he enumerated the conjunctions of the rest, he would also have announced the spouse of Anthropos, and would not have left us to find out her name by divination.
2. The fallacy, then, of this exposition is manifest. For when John, proclaiming one God, the Almighty, and one Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten, by whom all things were made, declares that this was the Son of God, this the Only-begotten, this the Former of all things, this the true Light who enlightens everyone this the Creator of the world, this he that came to his own, this he that became flesh and dwelt among us, – these men, by a plausible kind of exposition, perverting these statements, maintain that there was another Monogenes, according to production, whom they also style Arche. They also maintain that there was another Saviour, and another Logos, the son of Monogenes, and another Christ produced for the re-establishment of the Pleroma. So it is that, wresting from the truth everyone of the expressions which have been cited, and taking a bad advantage of the names, they have transferred them to their own system; so that, according to them, in all these terms John makes no mention of the Lord Jesus Christ. For if he has named the Father, and Charis, and Monogenes, and Aletheia, and Logos, and Zoe, and Anthropos, and Ecclesia, according to their hypothesis, he has, by so speaking, referred to the primary Ogdoad, in which there was as yet no Jesus, and no Christ, the teacher of John. But that the apostle did not speak concerning their conjunctions, but concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, whom he also acknowledges as the Word of God, he himself has made evident. For, summing up his statements respecting the Word previously mentioned by him, he further declares, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." But, according to their hypothesis, the Word did not become flesh at all, inasmuch as he never went outside of the Pleroma, but that Saviour (became flesh) who was formed by a special dispensation (out of all the Aeons), and was of later date than the Word.
3. Learn then, you foolish men, that Jesus who suffered for us, and who dwelt among us, is himself the Word of God. For if any other of the Aeons had become flesh for our salvation, it would have been probable that the apostle spoke of another. But if the Word of the Father who descended is the same also that ascended, He, namely, the Only-begotten Son of the only God, who, according to the good pleasure of the Father, became flesh for the sake of men, the apostle certainly does not speak regarding any other, or concerning any Ogdoad, but respecting our Lord Jesus Christ. For, according to them, the Word did not originally become flesh. For they maintain that the Saviour assumed an animal body, formed in accordance with a special dispensation by an unspeakable providence, so as to become visible and palpable. But flesh is that which was of old formed for Adam by God out of the dust, and it is this that John has declared the Word of God became. So is their primary and first-begotten Ogdoad brought down. For, since Logos, and Monogenes, and Zoe, and Phos, and Soter, and Christos, and the Son of God, and he who became incarnate for us, have been proved to be one and the same, the Ogdoad which they have built up at once falls to pieces. And when this is destroyed, their whole system sinks into ruin, – a system which they falsely dream into existence, and so inflict injury on the Scriptures, while they build up their own hypothesis.
4. Then, again, collecting a set of expressions and names scattered here and there (in Scripture), they twist them, as we have already said, from a natural to a non-natural sense. In so doing, they act like those who bring forward any kind of hypothesis they fancy, and then endeavour to support them out of the poems of Homer, so that the ignorant imagine that Homer actually composed the verses bearing on that hypothesis, which has, in fact, been but newly constructed; and many others are led so far by the regularly-formed sequence of the verses, as to doubt whether Homer may not have composed them. Of this kind is the following passage, where one, describing Hercules as having been sent by Eurystheus to the dog in the infernal regions, does so by means of these Homeric verses, – for there can be no objection to our citing these by way of illustration, since the same sort of attempt appears in both:
"So saying, there sent forth from his house deeply groaning." (Odys., 10. 76.) "The hero Hercules conversant with mighty deeds." – Odys., xxi, 26. Eurystheus, the son of Sthenelus, descended from Perseus." – Iliad, xix, 123. "That he might bring from Erebus the dog of gloomy Pluto." – Iliad, viii, 368. "And he advanced like a mountain-bred lion confident of strength." – Odys., vi, 130. "Rapidly through the city, while all his friends followed." – Iliad, xxiv.327. "Both maidens, and youths, and much-enduring old men." – Odys., xi, 38. "Mourning for him bitterly as one going forward to death." – Iliad, xxiv.328. "But Mercury and the blue-eyed Minerva conducted him." – Odys., xi, 626. "For she knew the mind of her brother, how it laboured with grief." – Iliad, 2. 409. Now, what simple-minded man, I ask, would not be led away by such verses as these to think that Homer actually framed them so with reference to the subject indicated? But he who is acquainted with the Homeric writings will recognise the verses indeed, but not the subject to which they are applied, as knowing that some of them were spoken of Ulysses, others of Hercules himself, others still of Priam, and others again of Menelaus and Agamemnon. But if he takes them and restores each of them to its proper position, he at once destroys the narrative in question. In the same way he also who retains unchangeable in his heart the rule of the truth which he received by means of baptism, will doubtless recognise the names, the expressions, and the parables taken from the Scriptures, but will by no means acknowledge the blasphemous use which these men make of them. For, though he will acknowledge the gems, he will certainly not receive the fox instead of the likeness of the king. But when he has restored everyone of the expressions quoted to its proper position, and has fitted it to the body of the truth, he will lay bare, and prove to be without any foundation, the figment of these heretics.
5. But since what may prove a finishing-stroke to this exhibition is wanting, so that anyone, on following out their farce to the end, may then at once append an argument which shall overthrow it, we have judged it well to point out, first of all, in what respects the very fathers of this fable differ among themselves, as if they were inspired by different spirits of error. For this very fact forms an a priori proof that the truth proclaimed by the Church is immoveable, and that the theories of these men are but a tissue of falsehoods.
Unity of faith of the Church throughout the whole world
1. The Church, though dispersed through our the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: (She believes) in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a Virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and his (future) manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father "to gather all things in one," and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, "every knee should bow, of things in heaven,, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess" to him, and that he should execute just judgment towards all; that he may send "spiritual wickednesses," and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the wicked, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of his grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept his commandments, and have persevered in his love, some from the beginning (of their Christian course), and others from (the date of) their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.
2. As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points (of doctrine) just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shines everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. Nor will anyone of the rulers in the churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master); nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it.
3. It does not follow because men are endowed with greater and less degrees of intelligence, that they should therefore change the subject-matter (of the faith) itself, and should conceive of some other God besides him who is the Framer, Maker, and Preserver of this universe, (as if he were not sufficient for them), or of another Christ, or another Only-begotten. But the fact referred to simply implies this, that one may (more accurately than another) bring out the meaning of those things which have been spoken in parables, and accommodate them to the general scheme of the faith; and explain (with special clearness) the operation and dispensation of God connected with human salvation; and show that God manifested longsuffering in regard to the apostasy of the angels who transgressed, as also with respect to the disobedience of men; and set forth why it is that one and the same God has made some things temporal and some eternal, some heavenly and others earthly; and understand for what reason God, though invisible, manifested himself to the prophets not under one form, but differently to different individuals; and show why it was that more covenants than one were given to mankind; and teach what was the special character of each of these covenants; and search out for what reason "God has wrapped everybody in unbelief, that he may have mercy on all;" and gratefully describe on what account the Word of God became flesh and suffered; and relate why the advent of the Son of God took place in these last times, that is, in the end, rather than in the beginning (of the world); and unfold what is contained in the Scriptures concerning the end (itself), and things to come; and not be silent as to how it is that God has made the Gentiles, whose salvation was despaired of, fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers with the saints; and discourse how it is that "this mortal body shall put on immortality, and this corruptible shall put on incorruption;" and proclaim in what sense (God) says, "That is a people who was not a people; and she is beloved who was not beloved;" and in what sense he says that "more are the children of her that was desolate, than of her who possessed a husband." For in reference to these points, and others of a like nature, the apostle exclaims: "Oh! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God; how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" But (the superior skill spoken of) is not found in this, that anyone should, beyond the Creator and Framer (of the world), conceive of the Enthymesis of an erring Aeon, their mother and his, and should so proceed to such a pitch of blasphemy; nor does it consist in this, that he should again falsely imagine, as being above this (fancied being), a Pleroma at one time supposed to contain thirty, and at another time an innumerable tribe of Aeons, as these teachers who are destitute of truly divine wisdom maintain; while the Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said.
The opinions of Valentinus, with those of his disciples and others
1. Let us now look at the inconsistent opinions of those heretics (for there are some two or three of them), how they do not agree in treating the same points, but alike, in things and names, set forth opinions mutually discordant. The first of them, Valentinus, who adapted the principles of the heresy called "Gnostic" to the peculiar character of his own school, taught as follows: he maintained that there is a certain Dyad (twofold being), who is inexpressible by any name, of whom one part should be called Arrhetus (unspeakable), and the other Sige (silence). But of this Dyad a second was produced, one part of whom he names Pater, and the other Aletheia. From this Tetrad, again, arose Logos and Zoe, Anthropos and Ecclesia. These constitute the primary Ogdoad. He next states that from Logos and Zoe ten powers were produced, as we have before mentioned. But from Anthropos and Ecclesia proceeded twelve, one of which separating from the rest, and falling from its original condition, produced the rest of the universe. He also supposed two beings of the name of Horos, the one of whom has his place between Bythus and the rest of the Pleroma, and divides the created Aeons from the uncreated Father, while the other separates their mother from the Pleroma. Christ also was not produced from the Aeons within the Pleroma, but was brought forth by the mother who had been excluded from it, in virtue of her memory of better things, but not without a kind of shadow. He, indeed, as being masculine, having severed the shadow from himself, returned to the Pleroma; but his mother being left with the shadow, and deprived of her spiritual substance, brought forth another son, namely, the Demiurge, whom he also styles the supreme ruler of all those things which are subject to him. He also asserts that, along with the Demiurge, there was produced a left-hand power, in which particular he agrees with those falsely called Gnostics, of whom to we have yet to speak. Sometimes, again, he maintains that Jesus was produced from him who was separated from their mother, and united to the rest, that is, from Theletus, sometimes as springing from him who returned into the Pleroma, that is, from Christ; and at other times still as derived from Anthropos and Ecclesia. And he declares that the Holy Spirit was produced by Aletheia for the inspection and fructification of the Aeons, by entering invisibly into them, and that, in this way, the Aeons brought forth the plants of truth.
2. Secundus again affirms that the primary Ogdoad consists of a right hand and a left hand Tetrad, and teaches that the one of these is called light, and the other darkness. But he maintains that the power which separated from the rest, and fell away, did not proceed directly from the thirty Aeons, but from their fruits.
3. There is another, who is a renowned teacher among them, and who, struggling to reach something more sublime, and to attain to a kind of higher knowledge, has explained the primary Tetrad as follows: There is (he says) a certain Proarche who existed before all things, surpassing all thought, speech, and nomenclature, whom I call Monotes (unity). Together with this Monotes there exists a power, which again I term Henotes (oneness). This Henotes and Monotes, being one, produced, yet not so as to bring forth (apart from themselves, as an emanation) the beginning of all things, an intelligent, unbegotten, and invisible being, which beginning language terms "Monad." With this Monad there co-exists a power of the same essence, which again I term Hen (One). These powers then – Monotes, and Henotes, and Monas, and Hen – produced the remaining company of the Aeons.
4. Iu, Iu! Pheu, Pheu! – for well may we utter these tragic exclamations at such a pitch of audacity in the coining of names as he has displayed without a blush, in devising a nomenclature for his system of falsehood. For when he declares: There is a certain Proarche before all things, surpassing all thought, whom I call Monoten; and again, with this Monotes there co-exists a power which I also call Henores, – it is most manifest that he confesses the things which have been said to be his own invention, and that he himself has given names to his scheme of things, which had never been previously suggested by any other. It is manifest also, that he himself is the one who has had sufficient audacity to coin these names; so that, unless he had appeared in the world, the truth would still have been destitute of a name. But, in that case, nothing hinders any other, in dealing with the same subject, to affix names after such a fashion as the following: There is a certain Proarche, royal, surpassing all thought, a power existing before every other substance, and extended into space in every direction. But along with it there exists a power which I term a Gourd; and along with this Gourd there exists a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd and Emptiness, since they are one, produced (and yet did not simply produce, so as to be apart from themselves) a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable, and delicious, which fruit-language calls a Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a Melon. These powers, the Gourd, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth the remaining multitude of the delirious melons of Valentinus. For if it is fitting that that language which is used respecting the universe be transformed to the primary Tetrad, and if anyone may assign names at his pleasure, who shall prevent us from adopting these names, as being much more credible (than the others), as well as in general use, and understood by all?
5. Others still, however, have called their primary and first-begotten Ogdoad by the following names: first, Proarche; then Anennoetos; thirdly, Arrhetos; and fourthly, Aoratos. Then, from the first, Proarche, there was produced, in the first and fifth place, Arche; from Anennoetos, in the second and sixth place, Acataleptos; from Arrhetos, in the third and seventh place, Anonomastos; and from Aoratos, in the fourth and eighth place, Agennetos. This is the Pleroma of the first Ogdoad. They maintain that these powers were anterior to Bythus and Sige, that they may appear more perfect than the perfect, and more knowing than the very Gnostics To. These persons one may justly exclaim: "O you trifling sophists!" since, even respecting Bythus himself, there are among them many and discordant opinions. For some declare him to be without a consort, and neither male nor female, and, in fact, nothing at all; while others affirm him to be masculo-feminine, assigning to him the nature of a hermaphrodite; others, again, allot Sige to him as a spouse, that so may be formed the first conjunction.
The doctrines of the followers of Ptolemy and Colorbasus
1. But the followers of Ptolemy say that he (Bythos) has two consorts, which they also name Diatheses (affections), that is, Ennoae and Thelesis. For, as they affirm, he first conceived the thought of producing something, and then willed to that effect. Therefore, again, these two affections, or powers, Ennoea and Thelesis, having intercourse, so to speak, between themselves, the production of Monogenes and Aletheia took place according to conjunction. These two came forth as types and images of the two affections of the Father, – visible representations of those that were invisible, – Nous (i.e., Monogenes) of Thelesis, and Aletheia of Ennoea, and accordingly the image resulting from Thelesis was masculine, while that from Ennoea was feminine. So Thelesis (will) became, so to speak, a faculty of Ennoea (thought). For Ennoea continually yearned after offspring; but she could not of herself bring forth that which she desired. But when the power of Thelesis (the faculty of will) came on her, then she brought forth that on which she had brooded.
2. These fancied beings (like the Jove of Homer, who is represented as passing an anxious sleepless night in devising plans for honouring Achilles and destroying numbers of the Greeks) will not appear to you, my dear friend, to be possessed of greater knowledge than he who is the God of the universe. He, as soon as he thinks, also performs what he has willed; and as soon as he wills, also thinks that which he has willed; then thinking when he wills, and then willing when he thinks, since he is all thought, (all will, all mind, all light), all eye, all ear, the one entire fountain of all good things.
3. Those of them, however, who are deemed more skillful than the persons who have just been mentioned, say that the first Ogdoad was not produced gradually, so that one Aeon was sent forth by another, but that all the Aeons were brought into existence at once by Propator and his Ennoea. He (Colourbasus) affirms this as confidently as if he had assisted at their birth. Accordingly, he and his followers maintain that Anthropos and Ecclesia were not produced, as others hold, from Logos and Zoe; but, on the contrary, Logos and Zoe from Anthropos and Ecclesia. But they express this in another form, as follows: When the Propator conceived the thought of producing something, he received the name of Father. But because what he did produce was true, it was named Aletheia. Again, when he wished to reveal himself, this was termed Anthropos. Finally, when he produced those whom he had previously thought of, these were named Ecclesia. Anthropos, by speaking, formed Logos: this is the first-born son. But Zoe followed on Logos; and so the first Ogdoad was completed. 4. They have much contention also among themselves respecting the Saviour. For some maintain that he was formed out of all; therefore also he was called Eudocetos, because the whole Pleroma was well pleased through him to glorify the Father. But others assert that he was produced from those ten Aeons alone who sprung from Logos and Zoe, and that on this account he was called Logos and Zoe, so preserving the ancestral names. Others, again, affirm that he had his being from those twelve Aeons who were the offspring of Anthropos and Ecclesia; and on this account he acknowledges himself the Son of man, as being a descendant of Anthropos. Others still, assert that he was produced by Christ and the Holy Spirit, who were brought forth for the security of the Pleroma; and that on this account he was called Christ, so preserving the appellation of the Father, by whom he was produced. And there are yet others among them who declare that the Propator of the whole, Proarche, and Proanennoetos is called Anthropos; and that this is the great and abstruse mystery, namely, that the Power which is above all others, and contains all in his embrace, is termed Anthropos; hence does the Saviour style himself the "Son of man."
The deceitful arts and nefarious practices of Marcus
1. But there is another among these heretics, Marcus by name, who boasts himself as having improved on his master. He is a perfect adept in magical impostures, and by this means drawing away a great number of men, and not a few women, he has induced them to join themselves to him, as to one who is possessed of the greatest knowledge and perfection, and who has received the highest power from the invisible and inexpressible regions above. So it appears as if he really were the precursor of Antichrist. For, joining the buffooneries of Anaxilaus to the craftiness of the magi, as they are called, he is regarded by his senseless and cracked-brain followers as working miracles by these means.
2. Pretending to consecrate cups mixed with wine, and protracting to great length the word of invocation, he contrives to give them a purple and reddish colour, so that Charis, who is one of those that are superior to all things, should be thought to drop her own blood into that cup by means of his invocation, and that so those who are present should be led to rejoice to taste of that cup, in order that, by so doing, the Charis, who is presented by this magician, may also flow into them. Again, handing mixed cups to the women, he bids them consecrate these in his presence. When this has been done, he himself produces another cup of much larger size than that which the deluded woman has consecrated), and pouring from the smaller one consecrated by the woman into that which has been brought forward by himself, he at the same time pronounces these words: "May that Charis who is before all things, and who transcends all knowledge and speech, fill your inner man, and multiply in you her own knowledge, by sowing the grain of mustard seed in you as in good soil." Repeating certain other like words, and so goading on the wretched woman (to madness), he then appears a worker of wonders when the large cup is seen to have been filled out of the small one, so as even to overflow by what has been obtained from it. By accomplishing several other similar things, he has completely deceived many, and drawn them away after him. 3. It appears probable enough that this man possesses a demon as his familiar spirit, by means of whom he seems able to prophesy, and also enables as many as he counts worthy to be partakers of his Charis themselves to prophesy. He devotes himself especially to women, and those such as are well-bred, and elegantly attired, and of great wealth, whom he frequently seeks to draw after him, by addressing them in such seductive words as these: "I am eager to make you a partaker of my Charis, since the Father of all does continually behold your angel before his face. Now the place of your angel is among us: we ought to become one. Receive first from me and by me (the gift of) Charis. Adorn yourself as a bride who is expecting her bridegroom, that you may be what I am, and I what you are. Establish the germ of light in your nuptial chamber. Receive from me a spouse, and become receptive of him, while you are received by him. Behold Charis has descended on you; open your mouth and prophesy." On the woman replying," I have never at any time prophesied, nor do I know how to prophesy;" then engaging, for the second time, in certain invocations, so as to astound his deluded victim, he says to her," Open your mouth, speak whatever occurs to you, and you shall prophesy." She then, vainly puffed up and elated by these words, and greatly excited in soul by the expectation that it is herself who is to prophesy, her heart beating violently (from emotion), reaches the requisite pitch of audacity, and idly as well as impudently utters some nonsense as it happens. To occur to her, such as might be expected from one heated by an empty spirit. (Referring to this, one superior to me has observed, that the soul is both audacious and impudent when heated with empty air.) From now on she reckons herself a prophetess, and expresses her thanks to Marcus for having imparted to her of his own Charis. She then makes the effort to reward him, not only by the gift of her possessions (in which way he has collected a very large fortune), but also by yielding up to him her person, desiring in every way to be united to him, that she may become altogether one with him.
4. But already some of the most faithful women, possessed of the fear of God, and not being deceived (whom, nevertheless, he did his best to seduce like the rest by bidding them prophesy), abhorring and execrating him, have withdrawn from such a vile company of revelers. This they have done, as being well aware that the gift of prophecy is not conferred on men by Marcus, the magician, but that only those to whom God sends his grace from above possess the divinely-bestowed power of prophesying; and then they speak where and when God pleases, and not when Marcus orders them to do so. For that which commands is greater and of higher authority than that which is commanded, inasmuch as the former rules, while the latter is in a state of subjection. If, then, Marcus, or anyone else, does command, – as these are accustomed continually at their feasts to play at drawing lots, and (in accordance with the lot) to command one another to prophesy, giving forth as oracles what is in harmony with their own desires, – it will follow that he who commands is greater and of higher authority than the prophetic spirit, though he is but a man, which is impossible. But such spirits as are commanded by these men, and speak when they desire it, are earthly and weak, audacious and impudent, sent forth by Satan for the seduction and perdition of those who do not hold fast that well-compacted faith which they received at first through the Church.
5. Moreover, that this Marcus compounds philters and love-potions, in order to insult the persons of some of these women, if not of all, those of them who have returned to the Church of God – a thing which frequently occurs – have acknowledged, confessing, too, that they have been defiled by him, and that they were filled with a burning passion towards him. A sad example of this occurred in the case of a certain Asiatic, one of our deacons, who had received him (Marcus) into his house. His wife, a woman of remarkable beauty, fell a victim both in mind and body to this magician, and, for a long time, traveled about with him. At last, when, with no small difficulty, the brethren had converted her, she spent her whole time in the exercise of public confession, weeping over and lamenting the defilement which she had received from this magician.
6. Some of his disciples, too, addicting themselves to the same practices, have deceived many silly women, and defiled them. They proclaim themselves as being "perfect," so that no one can be compared to them with respect to the immensity of their knowledge, nor even were you to mention Paul or Peter, or any other of the apostles. They assert that they themselves know more than all others, and that they alone have imbibed the greatness of the knowledge of that power which is unspeakable. They also maintain that they have attained to a height above all power, and that therefore they are free in every respect to act as they please, having no one to fear in anything. For they affirm, that because of the "Redemption" it has come to pass that they can neither be apprehended, nor even seen by the judge. But even if he should happen to lay hold on them, then they might simply repeat these words, while standing in his presence along with the "Redemption" "O you, who sit beside God, and the mystical, eternal Sige, you through whom the angels (mightiness), who continually behold the face of the Father, having you as their guide and introducer, do derive their forms from above, which she in the greatness of her daring inspiring with mind on account of the goodness of the Propator, produced us as their images, having her mind then intent on the things above, as in a dream, – behold, the judge is at hand, and the crier orders me to make my defence. But let you, as being acquainted with the affairs of both, present the cause of both of us to the judge, inasmuch as it is in reality but one cause." Now, as soon as the Mother hears these words, she puts the Homeric helmet of Pluto on them, so that they may invisibly escape the judge. And then she immediately catches them up, conducts them into the bridal chamber, and hands them over to their consorts.
7. Such are the words and deeds by which, in our own district of the Rhone, they have deluded many women, who have their consciences seared as with a hot iron. Some of them, indeed, make a public confession of their sins; but others of them are ashamed to do this, and in a tacit kind of way, despairing of (attaining to) the life of God, have, some of them, apostatized altogether; while others hesitate between the two courses, and incur that which is implied in the proverb, "neither without nor within;" possessing this as the fruit from the seed of the children of knowledge.
Ideas of Marcus and others, about letters and syllables
1. This Marcus then, declaring that he alone was the matrix and receptacle of the Sige of Colourbasus, inasmuch as he was only-begotten, has brought to the birth in some such way as follows that which was committed to him of the defective Euthymesis. He declares that the infinitely exalted Tetrad descended on him from the invisible and indescribable places in the form of a woman (for the world could not have borne it coming in its male form), and expounded to him alone its own nature, and the origin of all things, which it had never before revealed to anyone either of gods or men.
This was done in the following terms: When first the unoriginated, inconceivable Father, who is without material substance, and is neither male nor female, willed to bring forth that which is inexpressible to him, and to endow with form that which is invisible, he opened his mouth, and sent forth the Word similar to himself, who, standing near, showed him what he himself was, inasmuch as he had been manifested in the form of that which was invisible. Moreover, the pronunciation of his name took place as follows: he spoke the first word of it, which was the beginning (of all the rest), and that utterance consisted of four letters. He added the second, and this also consisted of four letters. Next he uttered the third, and this again embraced ten letters. Finally, he pronounced the fourth, which was composed of twelve letters. So took place the enunciation of the whole name, consisting of thirty letters, and four distinct utterances. Each of these elements has its own peculiar letters, and character, and pronunciation, and forms, and images, and there is not one of those who perceives the shape of that (utterance) of which it is an element. Neither does anyone know itself, nor is it acquainted with the pronunciation of its neighbour, but each one imagines that by its own utterance it does in fact name the whole. For while everyone of them is a part of the whole, it imagines its own sound to be the whole name, and does not leave off sounding until, by its own utterance, it has reached the last letter of each of the elements. This teacher declares that the restitution of all things will take place, when all these, mixing into one letter, shall utter one and the same sound. He imagines that the emblem of this utterance is found in Amen, which we pronounce in concert. The various sounds (he adds) are those which give form to that Aeon who is without material substance and unbegotten, and these, again, are the forms which the Lord has called angels, who continually behold the face of the Father.
2. Those names of the elements which may be told, and are common, he has called Aeons, and words, and roots, and seeds, and fulnesses, and fruits. He asserts that each of these, and all that is peculiar to everyone of them, is to be understood as contained in the name Ecclesia. Of these elements, the last letter of the last one uttered its voice, and this sound going forth generated its own elements after the image of the (other) elements, by which he affirms, that both the things here below were arranged into the order they occupy, and those that preceded them were called into existence. He also maintains that the letter itself, the sound of which followed that sound below, was received up again by the syllable to which it belonged, in order to the completion of the whole, but that the sound remained below as if cast outside. But the element itself from which the letter with its special pronunciation descended to that below, he affirms to consist of thirty letters, while each of these letters, again, contains other letters in itself, by means of which the name of the letter is expressed. And so, again, others are named by other letters, and others still by others, so that the multitude of letters swells out into infinitude. You may more clearly understand what I mean by the following example: The word Delta contains five letters, that is, d, E, L, T, A: these letters again, are written by other letters, and others still by others. If, then, the entire composition of the word Delta (when so analyzed) runs out into infinitude, letters continually generating other letters, and following one another in constant succession, how much faster than that (one) word is the (entire) ocean of letters! And if even one letter be so infinite, just consider the immensity of the letters in the entire name; out of which the Sige of Marcus has taught us the Propator is composed. For which reason the Father, knowing the incomprehensibleness of his own nature, assigned to the elements which he also terms Aeons, (the power) of each one uttering its own enunciation, because no one of them was capable by itself of uttering the whole.
3. Moreover, the Tetrad, explaining these things to him more fully, said: I wish to show you Aletheia (Truth) herself; for I have brought her down from the dwellings above, that you may see her without a veil, and understand her beauty – that you may also hear her speaking, and admire her wisdom. Behold, then, her head on high, Alpha and Omega; her neck, Beta and Psi; her shoulders with her hands, Gamma and Chi; her breast, Delta and Phi; her diaphragm, Epsilon and Upsilon; her back, Zeta and Tau; her belly, Eta and Sigma; her thighs, Theta and Rho; her knees, Iota and Pi; her legs, Kappa and Omicron; her ankles, Lambda and Xi; her feet, Mu and Nu. Such is the body of Truth, according to this magician, such the figure of the element, such the character of the letter. And he calls this element Anthropos (Man), and says that is the fountain of all speech, and the beginning of all sound, and the expression of all that is unspeakable, and the mouth of the silent Sige. This indeed is the body of Truth. But let you, elevating the thoughts of your mind on high, listen from the mouth of Truth to the self-begotten Word, who is also the dispenser of the bounty of the Father.
4. When she (the Tetrad) had spoken these things, Aletheia looked at him, opened her mouth, and uttered a word. That word was a name, and the name was this one which we do know and speak of, that is, Christ Jesus. When she had uttered this name, she at once relapsed into silence. And as Marcus waited in the expectation that she would say something more, the Tetrad again came forward and said, "You have reckoned as contemptible that word which you have heard from the mouth of Aletheia. This which you know and seem to possess, is not an ancient name. For you possess the sound of it merely, while you are ignorant of its power. For Jesus (Ihsou~v) is a name arithmetically symbolical, consisting of six letters, and is known by all those that belong to the called. But that which is among the Aeons of the Pleroma consists of many parts, and is of another form and shape, and is known by those (angels) who are joined in affinity with him, and whose figures (mightinesses) are always present with him.
5. Know, then, that the four-and-twenty letters which you possess are symbolical emanations of the three powers that contain the entire number of the elements above. For you are to reckon so – that the nine mute letters are (the images) of Pater and Aletheia, because they are without voice, that is, of such a nature as cannot be uttered or pronounced. But the semi-vowels represent Logos and Zoe, because they are, so to speak, midway between the consonants and the vowels, partaking of the nature of both. The vowels, again, are representative of Anthropos and Ecclesia, inasmuch as a voice proceeding from Anthropos gave being to them all; for the sound of the voice imparted to them form. So, then, Logos and Zoe possess eight (of these letters); Anthropos and Ecclesia seven; and Pater and Aletheia nine. But since the number allotted to each was unequal, he who existed in the Father came down, having been specially sent by him from whom he was separated, for the rectification of what had taken place, that the unity of the Pleromas, being endowed with equality, might develop in all that one power which flows from all. So that division which had only seven letters, received the power of eight, and the three sets were rendered alike in point of number, all becoming Ogdoads; which three, when brought together, constitute the number four-and-twenty. The three elements, too (which he declares to exist in conjunction with three powers, and so form the six from which have flowed the twenty-four letters), being quadrupled by the word of the inexpressible Tetrad, give rise to the same number with them; and these elements he maintains to belong to him who cannot be named. These, again, were endowed by the three powers with a resemblance to him who is invisible. And he says that those letters which we call double are the images of the images of these elements; and if these be added to the four-and-twenty letters, by the force of analogy they form the number thirty.
6. He asserts that the fruit of this arrangement and analogy has been manifested in the likeness of an image, namely, him who, after six days, ascended into the mountain along with three others, and then became one of six (the sixth), in which character he descended and was contained in the Hebdomad, since he was the illustrious Ogdoad, and contained in himself the entire number of the elements, which the descent of the dove (who is Alpha and Omega) made clearly manifest, when he came to be baptised; for the number of the dove is eight hundred and one. And for this reason did Moses declare that man was formed on the sixth day; and then, again, according to arrangement, it was on the sixth day, which is the preparation, that the last man appeared, for the regeneration of the first, Of this arrangement, both the beginning and the end were formed at that sixth hour, at which he was nailed to the tree. For that perfect being Nous, knowing that the number six had the power both of formation and regeneration, declared to the children of light, that regeneration which has been performed out by him who appeared as the Episemon in regard to that number. From which also he declares it is that the double letters contain the Episemon number; for this Episemon, when joined to the twenty-four elements, completed the name of thirty letters.
7. He employed as his instrument, as the Sige of Marcus declares, the power of seven letters, in order that the fruit of the independent will (of Achamoth) might be revealed. "Consider this present Episemon," she says – "Him who was formed after the (original) Episemon, as being, so to speak, divided or cut into two parts, and remaining outside; who, by his own power and wisdom, by means of that which had been produced by himself, gave life to this world, consisting of seven powers, after the likeness of the power of the Hebdomad, and so formed it, that it is the soul of everything visible. And he indeed uses this work himself as if it had been formed by his own free will; but the rest, as being images of what cannot be (fully) imitated, are subservient to the Enthymesis of the mother. And the first heaven indeed pronounces Alpha, the next to this Epsilon, the third Eta, the fourth, which is also in the midst of the seven, utters the sound of Iota, the fifth Omicron, the sixth Upsilon, the seventh, which is also the fourth from the middle, utters the elegant Omega," – as the Sige of Marcus, talking a deal of nonsense, but uttering no word of truth, confidently asserts. "And these powers," she adds, "being all simultaneously clasped in each other's embrace, do sound out the glory of him by whom they were produced; and the glory of that sound is transmitted upwards to the Propator." She asserts, moreover, that "the sound of this uttering of praise, having been wafted to the earth, has become the Framer and the Parent of those things which are on the earth." 8. He instances, in proof of this, the case of infants who have just been born, the cry of whom, as soon as they have issued from the womb, is in accordance with the sound of everyone of these elements. As, then, he says, the seven powers glorify the Word, so also does the complaining soul of infants. For this reason, too, David said: "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have perfected praise;" and again: "The heavens declare the glory of God." Therefore also it happens that when the soul is involved in difficulties and distresses, for its own relief it calls out, "Oh" (W), in honour of the letter in question, so that its cognate soul above may recognise (its distress), and send down to it relief.
9. So it is, that in regard to the whole name, which consists of thirty letters, and Bythus, who receives his increase from the letters of this (name), and, moreover, the body of Aletheia, which is composed of twelve members, each of which consists of two letters, and the voice which she uttered without having spoken at all, and in regard to the analysis of that name which cannot be expressed in words, and the soul of the world and of man, according as they possess that arrangement, which is after the image (of things above), he has uttered his nonsensical opinions. It remains that I relate how the Tetrad showed him from the names a power equal in number; so that nothing, my friend, which I have received as spoken by him, may remain unknown to you; and so your request, often proposed to me, may be fulfilled.
Sige reveals to Marcus the generation of the twenty-four elements and of Jesus.
1. The all-wise Sige then announced the production of the four-and-twenty elements to him as follows: Along with Monotes there coexisted Henotes, from which sprang two productions, as we have remarked above, Monas and Hen, which, added to the other two, make four, for twice two are Four. And again, two and four, when added together, exhibit the number six. And further, these six being quadrupled, give rise to the twenty-four forms. And the names of the first Tetrad, which are understood to be most holy, and not capable of being expressed in words, are known by the Son alone, while the father also knows what they are. The other names which are to be uttered with respect, and faith, and reverence, are, according to him, Arrhetos and Sige, Pater and Aletheia. Now the entire number of this Tetrad amounts to four-and-twenty letters; for the name Arrhetos contains in itself seven letters, Seige five, Pater five, and Aletheia seven. If all these be added together – twice five, and twice seven – they complete the number twenty-four. In the same way, also, the second Tetrad, Logos and Zoe, Anthropos and Ecclesia, reveal the same number of elements. Moreover, that name of the Saviour which may be pronounced, that is, Jesus ('Ihsou~v), consists of six letters, but his unutterable name comprises for-and-twenty letters. The name Christ the Son (ui(o\j Xristoj) comprises twelve letter, but that which is unpronounceable in Christ contains thirty letters. And for this reason he declares that he is Alpha and Omega, that he may indicate the dove, inasmuch as that bird has this number (in its name).
2. But Jesus, he affirms, has the following unspeakable origin. From the mother of all things, that is, the first Tetrad; there came forth the second Tetrad, after the way of a daughter; and so an Ogdoad was formed, from which, again, a Decade proceeded: so was produced a Decade and an Ogdoad. The Decade, then, being joined with the Ogdoad, and multiplying it ten times, gave rise to the number eighty; and, again, multiplying eighty ten times, produced the number eight hundred. So, then, the whole number of the letters proceeding from the Ogdoad (multiplied) into the Decade, is eight hundred and eighty-eight. This is the name of Jesus; for this name, if you reckon up the numerical value of the letters, amounts to eight hundred and eighty-eight. So, then, you have a clear statement of their opinion as to the origin of the supercelestial Jesus. Therefore, also, the alphabet of the Greeks contains eight Monads, eight Decads, and eight Hecatads, which present the number eight hundred and eighty-eight, that is, Jesus, who is formed of all numbers; and on this account he is called Alpha and Omega, indicating his origin from all. And, again, they put the matter so: If the first Tetrad be added up according to the progression of number, the number ten appears. For one, and two, and three, and four, when added together, form ten; and this, as they will have it, is Jesus. Moreover, Christos, he says, being a word of eight letters, indicates the first Ogdoad, and this, when multiplied by ten, gives birth to Jesus (888). And Christ the Son, he says, is also spoken of, that is, the Duodecad. For the name Son, (in Greek) contains four letters, and Chreistos eight, which, being combined, point out the greatness of the Duodecad. But, he alleges, before the Episemon of this name appeared, that is Jesus the Son, mankind were involved in great ignorance and error. But when this name of six letters was manifested (the person bearing it clothing himself in flesh, that he might come under the apprehension of man's senses, and having in himself these six and twenty-four letters), then, becoming acquainted with him, they ceased from their ignorance, and passed from death to life, this name serving as their guide to the Father of truth. For the Father of all had resolved to put an end to ignorance, and to destroy death. But this abolishing of ignorance was just the knowledge of him. And therefore that man (Anthropos) was chosen according to his will, having been formed after the image of the (corresponding) power above.
3. As to the Aeons, they proceeded from the Tetrad, and in that Tetrad were Anthropos and Ecclesia, Logos and Zoe. The powers, then, he declares, who emanated from these, generated that Jesus who appeared on the earth. The angel Gabriel took the place of Logos, the Holy Spirit that of Zoe, the Power of the Highest that of Anthropos, while the Virgin pointed out the place of Ecclesia. And so, by a special dispensation, there was generated by him, through Mary, that man, whom, as he passed through the womb, the Father of all chose to (obtain) the knowledge of himself by means of the Word. And on his coming to the water (of baptism), there descended on him, in the form of a dove, that Being who had formerly ascended on high, and completed the twelfth number, in whom there existed the seed of those who were produced contemporaneously with himself, and who descended and ascended along with him. Moreover, he maintains that power which descended was the seed of the Father, which had in itself both the Father and the Son, as well as that power of Sige which is known by means of them, but cannot be expressed in language, and also all the Aeons. And this was that Spirit who spoke by the mouth of Jesus, and who confessed that he was the son of Man as well as revealed the Father, and who, having descended into Jesus, was made one with him. And he says that the Saviour formed by special dispensation did indeed destroy death, but that Christ made known the Father. He maintains, therefore, that Jesus is the name of that man formed by a special dispensation, and that he was formed after the likeness and form of that (heavenly) Anthropos, who was about to descend on him. After he had received that Aeon, he possessed Anthropos himself, and Loges himself, and Pater, and Arrhetus, and Sige, and Aletheia, and Ecclesia, and Zoe.
4. Such ravings, we may now well say, go beyond Iu, Iu, Pheu, Pheu, and every kind of tragic exclamation or utterance of misery. For who would not detest one who is the wretched centriver of such audacious falsehoods, when he perceives the truth turned by Marcus into a mere image, and that punctured all over with the letters of the alphabet? The Greeks confess that they first received sixteen letters from Cadmus, and that but recently, as compared with the beginning, (the vast antiquity of which is implied) in the common proverb: "Yesterday and before;" and afterwards, in the course of time, they themselves invented at one period the aspirates, and at another the double letters, while, last of all, they say Palamedes added the long letters to the former. Was it so, then, that until these things took place among the Greeks, truth had no existence? For, according to you, Marcus, the body of truth is posterior to Cadmus and those who preceded him – posterior also to those who added the rest of the letters – posterior even to yourself! For you alone have formed that which is called by you the truth into an (outward, visible) image.
5. But who will tolerate your nonsensical Sige, who names him that cannot be named, and expounds the nature of him that is unspeakable, and searches out him that is unsearchable, and declares that he whom you maintain to be destitute of body and form, opened his mouth and sent forth the Word, as if he were included among organized beings; and that his Word, while like to his Author, and bearing the image of the invisible, nevertheless consisted of thirty elements and four syllables? It will follow, then, according to your theory, that the Father of all, in accordance with the likeness of the Word, consists of thirty elements and four syllables! Or, again, who will tolerate you in your juggling with forms and numbers, – at one time thirty, at another twenty-four, and at another, again, only six, – while you shutt up (in these) the Word of God, the Founder, and Framer, and Maker of all things; and then, again, cutting him up piecemeal into four syllables and thirty elements; and bringing down the Lord of all who founded the heavens to the number eight hundred and eighty-eight, so that he should be similar to the alphabet; and subdividing the Father, who cannot be contained, but contains all things, into a Tetrad, and an Ogdoad, and a Decade, and a Duodecad; and by such multiplications, setting forth the unspeakable and inconceivable nature of the Father, as you yourself declare it to be? And showing yourself a very Daedalus for evil invention, and the wicked architect of the supreme power, you do construct a nature and substance for him whom you call incorporeal and immaterial, out of a multitude of letters, generated the one by the other. And that power whom you affirm to be indivisible, you do nevertheless divide into consonants, and vowels, and semi-vowels; and, falsely ascribing those letters which are mute to the Father of all things, and to his Enncea (thought), you have driven on all that place confidence in you to the highest point of blasphemy, and to the grossest impiety.
6. With good reason, therefore, and very fittingly, in reference to your rash attempt, has that divine elders and preacher of the truth burst forth in verse against you as follows: -
"Marcus, you former of idols, inspector of portents, Skill'd in consulting the stars, and deep in the black arts of magic, Ever by tricks such as these confirming the doctrines of error, Furnishing signs to those involved by you in deception, wonders of power that is utterly severed from God and apostate, which Satan, your true father, enables you still to accomplish, By means of Azazel, that fallen and yet mighty angel, – So making you the precursor of his own impious actions." Such are the words of the saintly elder. And I shall endeavour to state the remainder of their mystical system, which runs out to great length, in brief limits, and to bring to the light what has for a long time been concealed. For in this way such things will become easily susceptible of exposure by all.
Absurd interpretations of the Marcosians
1. Blending in one the production of their own Aeons, and the straying and recovery of the sheep (spoken of in the Gospel), these persons endeavour to set forth things in a more mystical style, while they refer everything to numbers, maintaining that the universe has been formed out of a Monad and a Dyad. And then, reckoning from unity on to four, they so generate the Decade. For when one, two, three, and four are added together, they give rise to the number of the ten Aeons. And, again, the Dyad advancing from itself (by twos) up to six – two, and four, and six – brings out the Duodecad. Once more, if we reckon in the same way up to ten, the number thirty appears, in which are found eight, and ten, and twelve. They therefore term the Duodecad – because it contains the Episemon, and because the Episemon (so to speak) waits on it – the passion. And for this reason, because an error occurred in connection with the twelfth number, the sheep frisked off, and went astray; for they assert that a defection took place from the Duodecad. In the same way they oracularly declare, that one power having departed also from the Duodecad, has perished; and this was represented by the woman who lost the drachma, and, lighting a lamp, again found it. So, therefore, the numbers that were left, that is, nine, as respects the pieces of money, and eleven in regard to the sheep, when multiplied together, give birth to the number ninety-nine, for nine times eleven are ninety-nine. Therefore also they maintain the word "Amen" contains this number.
2. I will not, however, weary you by recounting their other interpretations, that you may perceive the results everywhere. They maintain for instance, that the letter Eta along with the Episemon constitutes an Ogdoad, inasmuch as it occupies the eighth place from the first letter. Then, again, without the Episemon, reckoning the number of the letters, and adding them up until we come to Eta, they bring out the Priacontad. For if one begins at Alpha and ends with Eta, omitting the Episemon, and adds together the value of the letters in succession, he will find their number altogether to amount to thirty. For up to Epsilon fifteen are formed; then adding seven to that number, the sum of twenty-two is reached. Next, Eta being added to these, since its value is eight, the most wonderful Triacontad is completed. And hence they give forth that the Ogdoad is the mother of the thirty Aeons. Since, therefore, the number thirty is composed of three powers (the Ogdoad, Decade, and Duodecad), when multiplied by three, it produces ninety, for three times thirty are ninety. Likewise this Triad, when multiplied by itself, gives rise to nine. So the Ogdoad generates, by these means, ninety-nine. And since the twelfth Aeon, by her defection, left eleven in the heights above, they maintain that therefore the position of the letters is a true coordinate of the method of their calculation (for Lambda is the eleventh in order among the letters, and represents the number thirty), and also forms a representation of the arrangement of affairs above, since, on from Alpha, omitting Episemon, the number of the letters up to Lambda, when added together according to the successive value of the letters, and including Zambda itself, forms the sum of ninety-nine; but that this Lambda, being the eleventh in order, descended to seek after one equal to itself, so as to complete the number of twelve letters, and when it found such a one, the number was completed, is manifest from the very configuration of the letter; for Lambda being engaged, so to speak, in the quest of one similar to itself, and finding such a person, and clasping it to itself, so filled up the place of the twelfth, the letter Mu (M) being composed of two Lambdas (LL). Therefore also they, by means of their "knowledge," avoid the place of ninety-nine, that is, the defection – a type of the left hand, – but endeavour to secure one more, which, when added to the ninety and nine, has the effect of changing their reckoning to the right hand.
3. I well know, my dear friend, that when you have read through all this, you will indulge in a hearty laugh over this their inflated wise folly! But those men are really worthy of being mourned over, who promulgate such a kind of religion, and who so frigidly and perversely pull to pieces the greatness of the truly unspeakable power, and the dispensations of God in themselves so striking, by means of Alpha and Beta, and through the aid of numbers. But as many as separate from the Church, and give heed to such old wives' fables as these, are truly self-condemned; and these men Paul commands us, "after a first and second admonition, to avoid." And John, the disciple of the Lord, has intensified their condemnation, when he desires us not even to address to them the salutation of "good-speed;" for, he says, "He that bids them be of good-speed is a partaker with their evil deeds;" and that with reason, "for there is no good-speed to the wicked," says the Lord. Impious indeed, beyond all impiety, are these men, who assert that the Maker of heaven and earth, the only God Almighty, besides whom there is no God, was produced by means of a defect, which itself sprang from another defect, so that, according to them, he was the product of the third defect. Such an opinion we should detest and execrate, while we ought everywhere to flee far apart from those that hold it; and in proportion as they vehemently maintain and rejoice in their fictitious doctrines, so much the more should we be convinced that they are under the influence of the wicked spirits of the Ogdoad, – just as those persons who fall into a fit of frenzy, the more they laugh, and imagine themselves to be well, and do all things as if they were in good health (both of body and mind), yes, some things better than those who really are so, are only so shown to be the more seriously diseased. In the same way do these men, the more they seem to excel others in wisdom, and waste their strength by drawing the bow too tightly, the greater fools do they show themselves. For when the unclean spirit of folly has gone forth, and when afterwards he finds them not waiting on God, but occupied with mere worldly questions, then, "taking seven other spirits more wicked than himself," and inflating the minds of these men with the notion of their being able to conceive of something beyond God, and having fitly prepared them for the reception of deceit, he implants within them the Ogdoad of the foolish spirits of wickedness.
The Marcosians' theory of creation: all made after the image of things invisible
1. I wish also to explain to you their theory as to the way in which the creation itself was formed through the mother by the Demiurge (as it were without his knowledge), after the image of things invisible. They maintain, then, that first of all the four elements, fire, water, earth, and air, were produced after the image of the primary Tetrad above, and that then, we add their operations, that is, heat, cold, dryness, and humidity, an exact likeness of the Ogdoad is presented. They next reckon up ten powers in the following manner: There are seven globular bodies, which they also call heavens; then that globular body which contains these, which also they name the eighth heaven; and, in addition to these, the sun and moon. These, being ten in number, they declare to be types of the invisible Decade, which proceeded from Logos and Zoe. As to the Duodecad, it is indicated by the zodiacal circle, as it is called; for they affirm that the twelve signs do most manifestly shadow forth the Duodecad, the daughter of Anthropos and Ecclesia. And since the highest heaven, beating on the very sphere (of the seventh heaven), has been linked with the most rapid precession of the whole system, as a check, and balancing that system with its own gravity, so that it completes the cycle from sign to sign in thirty years, – they say that this is an image of Horus, encircling their thirty-named mother. And then, again, as the moon travels through her allotted space of heaven in thirty days, they hold, that by these days she expresses the number of the thirty Aeons. The sun also, who runs through his orbit in twelve months, and then returns to the same point in the circle, makes the Duodecad manifest by these twelve months; and the days, as being measured by twelve hours, are a type of the invisible Duodecad. Moreover, they declare that the hour, which is the twelfth part of the day, is composed of thirty parts, in order to set forth the image of the Triacontad. Also the circumference of the zodiacal circle itself contains three hundred and sixty degrees (for each of its signs comprises thirty); and so also they affirm, that by means of this circle an image is preserved of that connection which exists between the twelve and the thirty. Still further, asserting that the earth is divided into twelve zones, and that in each zone it receives power from the heavens, according to the perpendicular (position of the sun above it), bringing forth productions corresponding to that power which sends down its influence on it, they maintain that this is a most evident type of the Duodecad and its offspring.
2. In addition to these things, they declare that the Demiurge, desiring to imitate the infinitude, and eternity, and immensity, and freedom from all measurement by time of the Ogdoad above, but, as he was the fruit of defect, being unable to express its permanence and eternity, had recourse to the expedient of spreading out its eternity into times, and seasons, and vast numbers of years, imagining, that by the multitude of such times he might imitate its immensity. They declare further, that the truth having escaped him, he followed that which was false, and that, for this reason, when the times are fulfilled, his work will perish.
Passages from Moses, used by the heretics
1. And while they affirm such things as these concerning the creation, everyone of them generates something new, day by day, according to his ability; for no one is deemed "perfect," who does not develop among them some mighty fictions. It is so necessary, first, to indicate what things they metamorphose (to their own use) out of the prophetical writings, and next, to refute them. Moses, then, they declare, by his mode of beginning the account of the creation, has at the beginning pointed out the mother of all things when he says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;" for, as they maintain, by naming these four, – God, beginning, heaven, and earth, – he set forth their Tetrad. Indicating also its invisible and hidden nature, he said, "Now the earth was invisible and unformed." They will have it, moreover, that he spoke of the second Tetrad, the offspring of the first, in this way – by naming an abyss and darkness, in which were also water, and the Spirit moving on the water. Then, proceeding to mention the Decade, he names light, day, night, the firmament, the evening, the morning, dry land, sea, plants, and, in the tenth place, trees. So, by means of these ten names, he indicated the ten Aeons. The power of the Duodecad, again, was shadowed forth by him so: he names the sun, moon, stars, seasons, years, whales, fishes, reptiles, birds, quadrupeds, wild beasts, and after all these, in the twelfth place, man. So they teach that the Triacontad was spoken of through Moses by the Spirit. Moreover, man also, being formed after the image of the power above, had in himself that ability which flows from the one source. This ability was seated in the region of the brain, from which four faculties proceed, after the image of the Tetrad above, and these are called: the first, sight, the second, hearing, the third, smell, and the fourth, taste. And they say that the Ogdoad is indicated by man in this way: that he possesses two ears, the like number of eyes, also two nostrils, and a twofold taste, namely, of bitter and sweet. Moreover, they teach that the whole man contains the entire image of the Triacontad as follows: In his hands, by means of his fingers, he bears the Decade; and in his whole body the Duodecad, inasmuch as his body is divided into twelve members; for they portion that out, as the body of Truth is divided by them – a point of which we have already spoken. But the Ogdoad, as being unspeakable and invisible, is understood as hidden in the viscera.
2. Again, they assert that the sun, the great light-giver, was formed on the fourth day, with a reference to the number of the Tetrad. So also, according to them, the courts of the tabernacle constructed by Moses, being composed of fine linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, pointed to the same image. Moreover, they maintain that the long robe of the priest failing over his feet, as being adorned with four rows of precious stones, indicates the Tetrad; and if there are any other things in the Scriptures which can possibly be dragged into the number four, they declare that these had their being with a view to the Tetrad. The Ogdoad, again, was shown as follows: They affirm that man was formed on the eighth day, for sometimes they will have him to have been made on the sixth day, and sometimes on the eighth, unless, perhaps, they mean that his earthly part was formed on the sixth day, but his fleshly part on the eighth, for these two things are distinguished by them. Some of them also hold that one man was formed after the image and likeness of God, masculo-feminine, and that this was the spiritual man; and that another man was formed out of the earth.
3. Further, they declare that the arrangement made with respect to the ark in the Deluge, by means of which eight persons were saved, most clearly indicates the Ogdoad which brings salvation. David also shows forth the same, as holding the eighth place in point of age among his brethren. Moreover, that circumcision which took place on the eighth day, represented the circumcision of the Ogdoad above. In a word, whatever they find in the Scriptures capable of being referred to the number eight, they declare to fulfill the mystery of the Ogdoad. With respect, again, to the Decade, they maintain that it is indicated by those ten nations which God promised to Abraham for a possession. The arrangement also made by Sarah when, after ten years, she gave her handmaid Hagar to him, that by her he might have a son, showed the same thing. Moreover, the servant of Abraham who was sent to Rebekah, and presented her at the well with ten bracelets of gold, and her brethren who detained her for ten days;, Jeroboam also, who received the ten scepters (tribes), and the ten courts of the tabernacle, and the columns of ten cubits (high), and the ten sons of Jacob who were at first sent into Egypt to buy corn, and the ten apostles to whom the Lord appeared after his resurrection, – Thomas being absent, – represented, according to them, the invisible Decade.
4. As to the Duodecad, in connection with which the mystery of the passion of the defect occurred, from which passion they maintain that all things visible were framed, they assert that is to be found strikingly and manifestly everywhere (in Scripture). For they declare that the twelve sons of Jacob, from whom also sprung twelve tribes, – the breastplate of the high priest, which bore twelve precious stones and twelve little bells, – the twelve stones which were placed by Moses at the foot of the mountain, – the same number which was placed by Joshua in the river, and again, on the other side, the bearers of the ark of the covenant, – those stones which were set up by Elijah when the heifer was offered as a burnt-offering; the number, too, of the apostles; and, in fine, every event which embraces in it the number twelve, – set forth their Duodecad. And then the union of all these, which is called the Triacontad, they strenuously endeavour to demonstrate by the ark of Noah, the height of which was thirty cubits; by the case of Samuel, who assigned Saul the chief place among thirty guests; by David, when for thirty days he concealed himself in the field; by those who entered along with him into the cave; also by the fact that the length (height) of the holy tabernacle was thirty cubits; and if they meet with any other like numbers, they still apply these to their Triacontad.
Scriptures they use to prove that the Father was unknown before Christ
1. I judge it necessary to add to these details also what, by garbling passages of Scripture, they try to persuade us concerning their Propator, who was unknown to all before the coming of Christ. Their object in this is to show that our Lord announced another Father than the Maker of this universe, whom, as we said before, they impiously declare to have been the fruit of a defect. For instance, when the prophet Isaiah says, "But Israel has not known me, and my people have not understood me," they pervert his words to mean ignorance of the invisible Bythus. And that which is spoken by Hosea, "There is no truth in them, nor the knowledge of God," they strive to give the same reference. And, "There is none who understands, or that seeks after God: they have all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable," they maintain to be said concerning ignorance of Bythus. Also that which is spoken by Moses, "No man shall see God and live," has, as they would persuade us, the same reference.
2. For they falsely hold, that the Creator was seen by the prophets. But this passage, "No man shall see God and live," they would interpret as spoken of his greatness unseen and unknown by all; and indeed that these words, "No man shall see God," are spoken concerning the invisible Father, the Maker of the universe, is evident to us all; but that they are not used concerning that Bythus whom they conjure into existence, but concerning the Creator (and he is the invisible God), shall be shown as we proceed. They maintain that Daniel also set forth the same thing when he begged of the angels explanations of the parables, as being himself ignorant of them. But the angel, hiding from him the great mystery of Bythus, said to him, "Go your way quickly, Daniel, for these sayings are closed up until those who have understanding do understand them, and those who are white be made white." Moreover, they vaunt themselves as being the white and the men of good understanding.
Apocryphal Scriptures of the Marcosians, with passages of the Gospels they misuse
1. Besides the above (misrepresentations), they adduce an unspeakable number of apocryphal and spurious writings, which they themselves have forged, to bewilder the minds of foolish men, and of such as are ignorant of the Scriptures of truth. Among other things, they bring forward that false and wicked story which relates that our Lord, when he was a boy learning his letters, on the teacher saying to him, as is usual, "Pronounce Alpha," replied (as he was bid), "Alpha." But when, again, the teacher bade him say, "Beta," the Lord replied, "You first tell me what Alpha is, and then I will tell you what Beta is." This they expound as meaning that he alone knew the Unknown, which he revealed under its type Alpha.
2. Some passages, also, which occur in the Gospels, receive from them a colouring of the same kind, such as the answer which he gave his mother when he was twelve years of age: "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?" So, they say, he announced to them the Father of whom they were ignorant. On this account, also, he sent forth the disciples to the twelve tribes, that they might proclaim to them the unknown God. And to the person who said to him, "Good Master," he confessed that God who is truly good, saying, "Why call you me good: there is One who is good, the Father in the heavens;" and they assert that in this passage the Aeons receive the name of heavens. Moreover, by his not replying to those who said to him, "By what power do you do this?" but by a question on his own side, put them to utter confusion; by his so not replying, according to their interpretation, he showed the unutterable nature of the Father. Moreover, when he said, "I have often desired to hear one of these words, and I had no one who could utter it," they maintain, that by this expression "one" he set forth the one true God whom they knew not. Further, when, as he drew near to Jerusalem, he wept over it and said, "If you had known, even you, in this your day, the things that belong to your peace, but they are hidden from you," by this word "hidden" he showed the abstruse nature of Bythus. And again, when he said, "Come to me all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, and learn of me," he announced the Father of truth. For what they knew not, these men say that he promised to teach them.
3. But they adduce the following passage as the highest testimony, and, so to speak, the very crown of their system: "I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes. Even so, my Father; for so it seemed good in your sight. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Father but the Son, or the Son but the Father, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." In these words they affirm that he clearly showed that the Father of truth, conjured into existence by them, was known to no one before his advent. And they desire to construe the passage as if teaching that the Maker and Framer (of the world) was always known by all, while the Lord spoke these words concerning the Father unknown to all, whom they now proclaim.
The views of redemption entertained by these heretics
1. It happens that their tradition respecting redemption is invisible and incomprehensible, as being the mother of things which are incomprehensible and invisible; and on this account, since it is fluctuating, it is impossible simply and all at once to make known its nature, for everyone of them hands it down just as his own inclination prompts. So there are as many schemes of "redemption" as there are teachers of these mystical opinions. And when we come to refute them, we shall show in its fitting-place, that this class of men have been instigated by Satan to a denial of that baptism which is regeneration to God, and so to a renunciation of the whole (Christian) faith.
2. They maintain that those who have attained to perfect knowledge must of necessity be regenerated into that power which is above all. For it is otherwise impossible to find admittance within the Pleroma, since this (regeneration) it is which leads them down into the depths of Bythus. For the baptism instituted by the visible Jesus was for the remission of sins, but the redemption brought in by that Christ who descended on him, was for perfection; and they allege that the former is animal, but the latter spiritual. And the baptism of John was proclaimed with a view to repentance, but the redemption by Jesus was brought in for the sake of perfection. And to this he refers when he says, "And I have another baptism to be baptised with, and I hasten eagerly towards it." Moreover, they affirm that the Lord added this redemption to the sons of Zebedee, when their mother asked that they might sit, the one on his right hand, and the other on his left, in his kingdom, saying, "Can you be baptised with the baptism which I shall be baptised with?" Paul, too, they declare, has often set forth, in express terms, the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; and this was the same which is handed down by them in so varied and discordant forms.
3. For some of them prepare a nuptial couch, and perform a sort of mystic rite (pronouncing certain expressions) with those who are being initiated, and affirm that it is a spiritual marriage which is celebrated by them, after the likeness of the conjunctions above. Others, again, lead them to a place where water is, and baptise them, with the utterance of these words, "Into the name of the unknown Father of the universe – into truth, the mother of all things – into him who descended on Jesus – into union, and redemption, and communion with the powers." Others still repeat certain Hebrew words, in order the more thoroughly to bewilder those who are being initiated, as follows: "Basema, Chamosse, Baoenaora, Mistadia, Ruada, Kousta, Babaphor, Kalachthei." The interpretation of these terms runs so: "I invoke that which is above every power of the Father, which is called light, and good Spirit, and life, because you have reigned in the body." Others, again, set forth the redemption so: The name which is hidden from every deity, and dominion, and truth which Jesus of Nazareth was clothed with in the lives of the light of Christ – of Christ, who lives by the Holy Spirit, for the angelic redemption. The name of restitution stands so: Messia, Uphareg, Namempsoeman, Chaldoeaur, Mosomedoea, Acphranoe, Psaua, Jesus Nazaria. The interpretation of these words is as follows: "I do not divide the Spirit of Christ, neither the heart nor the supercelestial power which is merciful; may I enjoy your name, O Saviour of truth!" Such are words of the initiators; but he who is initiated, replies, "I am established, and I am redeemed; I redeem my soul from this age (world), and from all things connected with it in the name of Iao, who redeemed his own soul into redemption in Christ who lives." Then the bystanders add these words, "Peace be to all on whom this name rests." After this they anoint the initiated person with balsam; for they assert that this unguent is a type of that sweet odour which is above all things.
4. But there are some of them who assert that it is superfluous to bring persons to the water, but mixing oil and water together, they place this mixture on the heads of those who are to be initiated, with the use of some such expressions as we have already mentioned. And this they maintain to be the redemption. They, too, are accustomed to anoint with balsam. Others, however, reject all these practices, and maintain that the mystery of the unspeakable and invisible power ought not to be performed by visible and corruptible creatures, nor should that of those (beings) who are inconceivable, and incorporeal, and beyond the reach of sense, (be worked) by such as are the objects of sense, and possessed of a body. These hold that the knowledge of the unspeakable Greatness is itself perfect redemption. For since both defect and passion flowed from ignorance, the whole substance of what was so formed is destroyed by knowledge; and therefore knowledge is the redemption of the inner man. This, however, is not of a corporeal nature, for the body is corruptible; nor is it animal, since the animal soul is the fruit of a defect, and is, so to speak, the abode of the spirit. The redemption must therefore be of a spiritual nature; for they affirm that the inner and spiritual man is redeemed by means of knowledge, and that they, having acquired the knowledge of all things, stand from then on in need of nothing else. This, then, is the true redemption.
5. Others still there are who continue to redeem persons even up to the moment of death, by placing on their heads oil and water, or the pre-mentioned ointment with water, using at the same time the above-named invocations, that the persons referred to may become incapable of being seized or seen by the principalities and powers, and that their inner man may ascend on high in an invisible manner, as if their body were left among created things in this world, while their soul is sent forward to the Demiurge. And they instruct them, on their reaching the principalities and powers, to make use of these words: "I am a son from the Father – the Father who had a pre-existence, and a son in him who is pre-existent. I have come to behold all things, both those which belong to myself and others, although, strictly speaking, they do not belong to others, but to Achamoth, who is female in nature, and made these things for herself. For I derive being from him who is pre-existent, and I come again to my own place from which I went forth." And they affirm that, by saying these things, he escapes from the powers. He then advances to the companions of the Demiurge, and so addresses them: "I am a vessel more precious than the female who formed you. If your mother is ignorant of her own descent, I know myself, and am aware of that from which I am, and I call on the incorruptible Sophia, who is in the Father, and is the mother of your mother, who has no father, nor any male consort; but a female springing from a female formed you, while ignorant of her own mother, and imagining that she alone existed; but I call on her mother." And they declare, that when the companions of the Demiurge hear these words, they are greatly agitated, and rebuke their origin and the race of their mother. But he goes into his own place, having thrown (off) his chain, that is, his animal nature. These, then, are the particulars which have reached us respecting "redemption." But since they differ so widely among themselves both as respects doctrine and tradition, and since those of them who are recognised as being most modern make it their effort daily to invent some new opinion, and to bring out what no one ever before thought of, it is a difficult matter to describe all their opinions.
Deviations of heretics from the truth
1. The rule of truth which we hold, is, that there is one God Almighty, who made all things by his Word, and fashioned and formed, out of that which had no existence, all things which exist. The Scripture says, to that effect "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all the might of them, by the spirit of his mouth." And again, "All things were made by him, and without him nothing was made." There is no exception or deduction stated; but the Father made all things by him, whether visible or invisible, objects of sense or of intelligence, temporal, on account of a certain character given them, or eternal; and these eternal things he did not make by angels, or by any powers separated from his Ennoea. For God needs none of all these things, but is he who, by his Word and Spirit, makes, and disposes, and governs all things, and commands all things into existence, – he who formed the world (for the world is of all), – he who fashioned man, – he (who) is the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, above whom there is no other God, nor initial principle, nor power, nor pleroma, – he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we shall prove. Holding, therefore, this rule, we shall easily show, notwithstanding the great variety and multitude of their opinions, that these men have deviated from the truth; for almost all the different sects of heretics admit that there is one God; but then, by their pernicious doctrines, they change (this truth into error), even as the Gentiles do through idolatry, – so proving themselves ungrateful to the one who created them. Moreover, they despise the workmanship of God, speaking against their own salvation, becoming their own bitterest accusers, and being false witnesses (against themselves). Yet, reluctant as they may be, these men shall one day rise again in the flesh, to confess the power of him who raises them from the dead; but they shall not be numbered among the righteous on account of their unbelief.
2. Since, therefore, it is a complex and multiform task to detect and convict all the heretics, and since our design is to reply to them all according to their special characters, we have judged it necessary, first of all, to give an account of their source and root, in order that, by getting a knowledge of their most exalted Bythus, you may understand the nature of the tree which has produced such fruits.
Doctrines and practices of Simon Magus and Menander
1. Simon the Samaritan was that magician of whom Luke, the disciple and follower of the apostles, says, "But there was a certain man, Simon by name, who beforetime used magical arts in that city, and led astray the people of Samaria, declaring that he himself was some great one, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This is the power of God, which is called great. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had driven them mad by his sorceries." This Simon, then – who feigned faith, supposing that the apostles themselves worked their cures by the art of magic, and not by the power of God; and with respect to their filling with the Holy Spirit, through the imposition of hands, those that believed in God through him who was preached by them, namely, Christ Jesus – suspecting that even this was done through a kind of greater knowledge of magic, and offering money to the apostles, thought he, too, might receive this power of bestowing the Holy Spirit on whomsoever he would, – was addressed in these words by Peter: "Your money perish with you, because you have thought that the gift of God can be purchased with money: you have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not fight in the sight of God; for I perceive that you are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." He, then, not putting faith in God a whit the more, set himself eagerly to contend against the apostles, in order that he himself might seem to be a wonderful being, and applied himself with still greater zeal to the study of the whole magic art, that he might the better bewilder and overpower multitudes of men. Such was his procedure in the reign of Claudius Caesar, by whom also he is said to have been honoured with a statue, on account of his magical power. This man, then, was glorified by many as if he were a God; and he taught that it was himself who appeared among the Jews as the Son, but descended in Samaria as the Father while he came to other nations in the character of the Holy Spirit. He represented himself, in a word, as being the loftiest of all powers, that is, the Being who is the Father over all, and he allowed himself to be called by whatever title men were pleased to address him.
2. Now this Simon of Samaria, from whom all sorts of heresies derive their origin, formed his sect out of the following materials: Having redeemed from slavery at Tyre, a city of Phoenicia, a certain woman named Helena, he was in the habit of carrying her about with him, declaring that this woman was the first conception of his mind, the mother of all, by whom, in the beginning, he conceived in his mind (the thought) of forming angels and archangels. For this Ennoea leaping forth from him, and comprehending the will of her father, descended to the lower regions (of space), and generated angels and powers, by whom also he declared this word was formed. But after she had produced them, she was detained by them through motives of jealousy, because they were unwilling to be looked on as the progeny of any other being. As to himself, they had no knowledge of him whatever; but his Ennoea was detained by those powers and angels who had been produced by her. She suffered all kinds of contumely from them, so that she could not return upwards to her father, but was even shut up in a human body, and for ages passed in succession from one female body to another, as from vessel to vessel. She was, for example, in that Helen on whose account the Trojan war was undertaken; for whose sake also Stesichorus was struck blind, because he had cursed her in his verses, but afterwards, repenting and writing what are called palinodes, in which he sang her praise, he was restored to sight. So she, passing from body to body, and suffering insults in everyone of them, at last became a common prostitute; and she it was that was meant by the lost sheep.
3. For this purpose, then, he had come that he might win her first, and free her from slavery, while he conferred salvation on men, by making himself known to them. For since the angels ruled the world ill because each one of them coveted the principal power for himself, he had come to amend matters, and had descended, transfigured and assimilated to powers and principalities and angels, so that he might appear among men to be a man, while yet he was not a man; and that so he was thought to have suffered in Judaea, when he had not suffered. Moreover, the prophets uttered their predictions under the inspiration of those angels who formed the world; for which reason those who place their trust in him and Helena no longer regarded them, but, as being free, live as they please; for men are saved through his grace, and not on account of their own righteous actions. For such deeds are not righteous in the nature of things, but by mere accident, just as those angels who made the world, have thought fit to constitute them, seeking, by means of such precepts, to bring men into bondage. On this account, he pledged himself that the world should be dissolved, and that those who are his should be freed from the rule of them who made the world.
4. So, then, the mystic priests belonging to this sect both lead profligate lives and practice magical arts, each one to the extent of his ability. They use exorcisms and incantations. Love-potions, too, and charms, as well as those beings who are called "Paredri" (familiars) and "Oniropompi" (dream-senders), and whatever other curious arts can be had recourse to, are eagerly pressed into their service. They also have an image of Simon fashioned after the likeness of Jupiter, and another of Helena in the shape of Minerva; and these they worship. In fine, they have a name derived from Simon, the author of these most impious doctrines, being called Simonians; and from them "knowledge, falsely so called," received its beginning, as one may learn even from their own assertions.
5. The successor of this man was Menander, also a Samaritan by birth, and he, too, was a perfect adept in the practice of magic. He affirms that the primary Power continues unknown to all, but that he himself is the person who has been sent forth from the presence of the invisible beings as a Saviour, for the deliverance of men. The world was made by angels, whom, like Simon, he maintains to have been produced by Ennoea. He gives, too, as he affirms, by means of that magic which he teaches, knowledge to this effect, that one may overcome those very angels that made the world; for his disciples obtain the resurrection by being baptised into him, and can die no more, but remain in the possession of immortal youth.
Doctrines of Saturninus and Basilides
1. Arising among these men, Saturninus (who was of that Antioch which is near Daphne) and Basilides laid hold of some favourable opportunities, and promulgated different systems of doctrine – the one in Syria, the other at Alexandria. Saturninus, like Menander, set forth one father unknown to all, who made angels, archangels, powers, and potentates. The world, again, and all things in it, were made by a certain company of seven angels. Man, too, was the workmanship of angels, a shining image bursting forth below from the presence of the supreme power; and when they could not, he says, keep hold of this, because it immediately darted upwards again, they exhorted each other, saying, "Let us make man after our image and likeness." He was accordingly formed, yet was unable to stand erect, through the inability of the angels to convey to the one who power, but wriggled (on the ground) like a worm. Then the power above taking pity on him, since he was made after his likeness, sent forth a spark of life, which gave man an erect posture, compacted his joints, and made him live. He declares, therefore, that this spark of life, after the death of a man, returns to those things which are of the same nature with itself, and the rest of the body is decomposed into its original elements.
2. He has also laid it down as a truth, that the Saviour was without birth, without body, and without figure, but was, by supposition, a visible man; and he maintained that the God of the Jews was one of the angels; and, on this account, because all the powers wished to annihilate his father, Christ came to destroy the God of the Jews, but to save such as believe in him; that is, those who possess the spark of his life. This heretic was the first to affirm that two kinds of men were formed by the angels, – the one wicked, and the other good. And since the demons assist the most wicked, the Saviour came for the destruction of evil men and of the demons, but for the salvation of the good. They declare also, that marriage and generation are from Satan. Many of those, too, who belong to his school, abstain from animal food, and draw away multitudes by a reigned temperance of this kind. They hold, moreover, that some of the prophecies were uttered by those angels who made the world, and some by Satan; whom Saturninus represents as being himself an angel, the enemy of the Creators of the world, but especially of the God of the Jews.
3. Basilides again, that he may appear to have discovered something more sublime and plausible, gives an immense development to his doctrines. He sets forth that Nous was first born of the unborn father, that from him, again, was born Logos, from Logos Phronesis, from Phronesis Sophia and Dynamis, and from Dynamis and Sophia the powers, and principalities, and angels, whom he also calls the first; and that by them the first heaven was made. Then other powers, being formed by emanation from these, crated another heaven similar to the first; and in the same way, when others, again, had been formed by emanation from them, corresponding exactly to those above them, these, too, framed another third heaven; and then from this third, in downward order, there was a fourth succession of descendants; and so on, after the same fashion, they declare that more and more principalities and angels were formed, and three hundred and sixty-five heavens. Therefore the year contains the same number of days in conformity with the number of the heavens.
4. Those angels who occupy the lowest heaven, that, namely, which is visible to us, formed all the things which are in the world, and made allotments among themselves of the earth and of those nations which are on it. The chief of them is he who is thought to be the God of the Jews; and inasmuch as he desired to render the other nations subject to his own people, that is, the Jews, all the other princes resisted and opposed him. Therefore all other nations were at enmity with his nation. But the father without birth and without name, perceiving that they would be destroyed, sent his own first-begotten Nous (he it is who is called Christ) to bestow deliverance on those who believe in him, from the power of those who made the world. He appeared, then, on earth as a man, to the nations of these powers, and worked miracles. Therefore he did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a certain man of Cyrene, being compelled, bore the cross in his stead; so that this latter being transfigured by him, that he might be thought to be Jesus, was crucified, through ignorance and error, while Jesus himself received the form of Simon, and, standing by, laughed at them. For since he was an incorporeal power, and the Nous (mind) of the unborn father, he transfigured himself as he pleased, and so ascended to him who had sent him, deriding them, inasmuch as he could not be laid hold of, and was invisible to all. Those, then, who know these things have been freed from the principalities who formed the world; so that it is not incumbent on us to confess him who was crucified, but him who came in the form of a man, and was thought to be crucified, and was called Jesus, and was sent by the father, that by this dispensation he might destroy the works of the makers of the world. If anyone, therefore, he declares, confesses the crucified, that man is still a slave, and under the power of those who formed our bodies; but he who denies him has been freed from these beings, and is acquainted with the dispensation of the unborn father.
5. Salvation belongs to the soul alone, for the body is by nature subject to corruption. He declares, too, that the prophecies were derived from those powers who were the makers of the world, but the Law was specially given by their chief, who led the people out of the land of Egypt. He attaches no importance to (the question regarding) meats offered in sacrifice to idols, thinks them of no consequence, and makes use of them without any hesitation; he holds also the use of other things, and the practice of every kind of lust, a matter of perfect indifference. These men, moreover, practice magic; and use images, incantations, invocations, and every other kind of curious art. Coining also certain names as if they were those of the angels, they proclaim some of these as belonging to the first, and others to the second heaven; and then they strive to set forth the names, principles, angels, and powers of the three hundred and sixty-five imagined heavens. They also affirm that the barbarous name in which the Saviour ascended and descended, is Caulacau.
6. He, then, who has learned (these things), and known all the angels and their causes, is rendered invisible and incomprehensible to the angels and all the powers, even as Caulacau also was. And as the son was unknown to all, so must they also be known by no one; but while they know all, and pass through all, they themselves remain invisible and unknown to all; for, "You," they say, "know all, but let nobody know you." For this reason, persons of such a persuasion are also ready to recant (their opinions), yes, rather, it is impossible that they should suffer on account of a mere name, since they are like to all. The multitude, however, cannot understand these matters, but only one out of a thousand, or two out of ten thousand. They declare that they are no longer Jews, and that they are not yet Christians; and that it is not at all fitting to speak openly of their mysteries, but right to keep them secret by preserving silence.
7. They make out the local position of the three hundred and sixty-five heavens in the same way as do mathematicians. For, accepting the theorems of these latter, they have transferred them to their own type of doctrine. They hold that their chief is Abraxas; and, on this account, that word contains in itself the numbers amounting to three hundred and sixty-five.
Doctrines of Carpocrates
1. Carpocrates, again, and his followers maintain that the world and the things which are in it were created by angels greatly inferior to the unbegotten Father. They also hold that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and was just like other men, with the exception that he differed from them in this respect, that inasmuch as his soul was steadfast and pure, he perfectly remembered those things which he had witnessed within the sphere of the unbegotten God. On this account, a power descended on him from the Father, that by means of it he might escape from the Creators of the world; and they say that it, after passing through them all, and remaining in all points free, ascended again to him, and to the powers, which in the same way embraced like things to itself. They further declare, that the soul of Jesus, although educated in the practices of the Jews, regarded these with contempt, and that for this reason he was endowed with faculties, by means of which he destroyed those passions which dwelt in men as a punishment (for their sins).
2. The soul, therefore, which is like that of Christ can despise those rulers who were the Creators of the world, and, in the same way, receives power for accomplishing the same results. This idea has raised them to such a pitch of pride, that some of them declare themselves similar to Jesus; while others, still more mighty, maintain that they are superior to his disciples, such as Peter and Paul, and the rest of the apostles, whom they consider to be in no respect inferior to Jesus. For their souls, descending from the same sphere as his, and therefore despising in the same way the Creators of the world, are deemed worthy of the same power, and again depart to the same place. But if anyone shall have despised the things in this world more than he did, he so proves himself superior to him.
3. They practice also magical arts and incantations; philters, also, and love-potions; and have recourse to familiar spirits, dream-sending demons, and other abominations, declaring that they possess power to rule over, even now, the princes and formers of this world; and not only them, but also all things that are in it. These men, even as the Gentiles, have been sent forth by Satan to bring dishonour on the Church, so that, in one way or another, men hearing the things which they speak, and imagining that we all are such as they, may turn away their ears from the preaching of the truth; or, again, seeing the things they practice, may speak evil of us all, who have in fact no fellowship with them, either in doctrine or in morals, or in our daily conduct. But they lead a licentious life, and, to conceal their impious doctrines, they abuse the name (of Christ), as a means of hiding their wickedness; so that "their condemnation is just," when they receive from God a recompense suited to their works.
4. So unbridled is their madness, that they declare they have in their power all things which are irreligious and impious, and are at liberty to practice them; for they maintain that things are evil or good, simply in virtue of human opinion. They deem it necessary, therefore, that by means of transmigration from body to body, souls should have experience of every kind of life as well as every kind of action (unless, indeed, by a single incarnation, one may be able to prevent any need for others, by once for all, and with equal completeness, doing all those things which we dare not either speak or hear of, no, which we must not even conceive in our thoughts, nor think credible, if any such thing is mooted among those persons who are our fellow-citizens), in order that, as their writings express it, their souls, having made trial of every kind of life, may, at their departure, not be wanting in any particular. It is necessary to insist on this, for fear that, on account of some one thing being still wanting to their deliverance, they should be compelled once more to become incarnate. They affirm that for this reason Jesus spoke the following parable: "While you are with your adversary in the way, give all diligence, that you may be delivered from him, for fear that he give you up to the judge, and the judge surrender you to the officer, and he cast you into prison. Truly, I say to you, you shall not go out thence until you pay the very last farthing." They also declare the "adversary" is one of those angels who are in the world, whom they call the Devil, maintaining that he was formed for this purpose, that he might lead those souls which have perished from the world to the Supreme Ruler. They describe him also as being chief among the makers of the world, and maintain that he delivers such souls (as have been mentioned) to another angel, who ministers to him, that he may shut them up in other bodies; for they declare that the body is "the prison." Again, they interpret these expressions, "You shall not go out thence until you pay the very last farthing," as meaning that no one can escape from the power of those angels who made the world, but that he must pass from body to body, until he has experience of every kind of action which can be practiced in this world, and when nothing is longer wanting to him, then his liberated soul should soar upwards to that God who is above the angels, the makers of the world. In this way also all souls are saved, whether their own which, guarding against all delay, participate in all sorts of actions during one incarnation, or those, again, who, by passing from body to body, are set free, on fulfilling and accomplishing what is requisite in every form of life into which they are sent, so that at length they shall no longer be (shut in the body.
5. And so, if wicked, unlawful, and forbidden actions are committed among them, I can no longer find ground for believing them to be such. And in their writings we read as follows, the interpretation which they give (of their views), declaring that Jesus spoke in a mystery to his disciples and apostles privately, and that they requested and obtained permission to hand down the things so taught them, to others who should be worthy and believing. We are saved, indeed, by means of faith and love; but all other things, while in their nature indifferent, are reckoned by the opinion of men – some good and some evil, there being nothing really evil by nature.
6. Others of them employ outward marks, branding their disciples inside the lobe of the right ear. From among these also arose Marcellina, who came to Rome under (the episcopate of) Anicetus, and, holding these doctrines, she led multitudes astray. They style themselves Gnostics. They also possess images, some of them painted, and others formed from different kinds of material; while they maintain that a likeness of Christ was made by Pilate at that time when Jesus lived among them. They crown these images, and set them up along with the images of the philosophers of the world that is to say, with the images of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Aristotle, and the rest. They have also other modes of honouring these images, after the same way of the Gentiles.
Doctrines of Cerinthus, the Ebionites, and Nicolaitans
1. Cerinthus, again, a man who was educated in the wisdom of the Egyptians, taught that the world was not made by the primary God, but by a certain Power far separated from him, and at a distance from that Principality who is supreme over the universe, and ignorant of him who is above all. He represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended on him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and worked miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being.
2. Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavour to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practice circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God.
3. The Nicolaitanes are the followers of that Nicolas who was one of the seven first ordained to the diaconate by the apostles. They lead lives of unrestrained indulgence. The character of these men is very plainly pointed out in the Apocalypse of John, (when they are represented) as teaching that it is a matter of indifference to practice adultery, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Therefore the Word has also spoken of them so: "But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate."
Doctrines of Cerdo and Marcion
1. Cerdo was one who took his system from the followers of Simon, and came to live at Rome in the time of Hyginus, who held the ninth place in the episcopal succession from the apostles downwards. He taught that the God proclaimed by the Law and the prophets was not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the former was known, but the latter unknown; while the one also was righteous, but the other benevolent.
2. Marcion of Pontus succeeded him, and developed his doctrine. In so doing, he advanced the most daring blasphemy against him who is proclaimed as God by the Law and the prophets, declaring him to be the author of evils, to take delight in war, to be infirm of purpose, and even to be contrary to himself. But Jesus being derived from that father who is above the God that made the world, and coming into Judaea in the times of Pontius Pilate the governor, who was the procurator of Tiberius Caesar, was manifested in the form of a man to those who were in Judaea, abolishing the prophets and the law, and all the works of that God who made the world, whom also he calls Cosmocrator. Besides this, he mutilates the Gospel which is according to Luke, removing all that is written respecting the generation of the Lord, and setting aside a great deal of the teaching of the Lord, in which the Lord is recorded as most clearly confessing that the Maker of this universe is his Father. He likewise persuaded his disciples that he himself was more worthy of credit than are those apostles who have handed down the Gospel to us, furnishing them not with the Gospel, but merely a fragment of it. In the same way, too, he dismembered the Epistles of Paul, removing all that is said by the apostle respecting that God who made the world, to the effect that he is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and also those passages from the prophetical writings which the apostle quotes, in order to teach us that they announced beforehand the coming of the Lord.
3. Salvation will be the attainment only of those souls which had learned his doctrine; while the body, as having been taken from the earth, is incapable of sharing in salvation. In addition to his blasphemy against God himself, he advanced this also, truly speaking as with the mouth of the devil, and saying all things in direct opposition to the truth, – that Cain, and those like him, and the Sodomites, and the Egyptians, and others like them, and, in fine, all the nations who walked in all sorts of abomination, were saved by the Lord, on his descending into Hades, and on their running to him, and that they welcomed him into their kingdom. But the serpent which was in Marcion declared that Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and those other righteous men who sprang from the patriarch Abraham, with all the prophets, and those who were pleasing to God, did not partake in salvation. For since these men, he says, knew that their God was constantly tempting them, so now they suspected that he was tempting them, and did not run to Jesus, or believe his announcement: and for this reason he declared that their souls remained in Hades.
4. But since this man is the only one who has dared openly to mutilate the Scriptures, and unblushingly above all others to inveigh against God, I purpose specially to refute him, convicting him out of his own writings; and, with the help of God, I shall overthrow him out of those discourses of the Lord and the apostles, which are of authority with him, and of which he makes use. At present, however, I have simply been led to mention him, that you might know that all those who in any way corrupt the truth, and injuriously affect the preaching of the Church, are the disciples and successors of Simon Magus of Samaria. Although they do not confess the name of their master, in order all the more to seduce others, yet they do teach his doctrines. They set forth, indeed, the name of Christ Jesus as a sort of lure, but in various ways they introduce the impieties of Simon; and so they destroy multitudes, wickedly disseminating their own doctrines by the use of a good name, and, by means of its sweetness and beauty, extending to their hearers the bitter and malignant poison of the serpent, the great author of apostasy?
Doctrines of Tatian, the Encratites, and others
1. Many offshoots of numerous heresies have already been formed from those heretics we have described. This arises from the fact that numbers of them – indeed, we may say all – desire themselves to be teachers, and to break off from the particular heresy in which they have been involved. Forming one set of doctrines out of a totally different system of opinions, and then again others from others, they insist on teaching something new, declaring themselves the inventors of any sort of opinion which they may have been able to call into existence. To give an example: Springing from Saturninus and Marcion, those who are called Encratites (self-controlled) preached against marriage, so setting aside the original creation of God, and indirectly blaming him who made the male and female for the propagation of the human race. Some of those reckoned among them have also introduced abstinence from animal food, so proving themselves ungrateful to God, who formed all things. They deny, too, the salvation of him who was first created. It is but lately, however, that this opinion has been invented among them. A certain man named Tatian first introduced the blasphemy. He was a hearer of Justin's, and as long as he continued with him he expressed no such views; but after his martyrdom he separated from the Church, and, excited and puffed up by the thought of being a teacher, as if he were superior to others, he composed his own peculiar type of doctrine. He invented a system of certain invisible Aeons, like the followers of Valentinus; while, like Marcion and Saturninus, he declared that marriage was nothing else than corruption and fornication. But his denial of Adam's salvation was an opinion due entirely to himself.
2. Others, again, following on Basilides and Carpocrates, have introduced promiscuous intercourse and a plurality of wives, and are indifferent about eating meats sacrificed to idols, maintaining that God does not greatly regard such matters. But why continue? For it is an impracticable attempt to mention all those who, in one way or another, have fallen away from the truth.
Doctrines of various other Gnostic sects
1. Besides those, however, among these heretics who are Simonians, and of whom we have already spoken, a multitude of Gnostics have sprung up, and have been manifested like mushrooms growing out of the ground. I now proceed to describe the principal opinions held by them. Some of them, then, set forth a certain Aeon who never grows old, and exists in a virgin spirit: him they style Barbelos. They declare that somewhere or other there exists a certain father who cannot be named, and that he was eager to reveal himself to this Barbelos. Then this Ennoea went forward, stood before his face, and demanded from him Prognosis (prescience). But when Prognosis had, (as was requested), come out, these two asked for Aphtharsia (incorruption), which also came forth, and after that Zoe Aionios (eternal life). Barbelos, glorying in these, and contemplating their greatness, and in conception (so formed), rejoicing in this greatness, generated light similar to it. They declare that this was the beginning both of light and of the generation of all things; and that the Father, seeing this light, anointed it with his own kindness, that it might be rendered perfect. Moreover, they maintain that this was Christ, who again, according to them, requested that Nous should be given him as an assistant; and Nous came forth accordingly. Besides these, the Father sent forth Logos. The conjunctions of Ennoea and Logos, and of Aphtharsia and Christ, will so be formed; while Zoe Aionios was united to Thelema, and Nous to Prognosis. These, then, magnified the great light and Barbelos.
2. They also affirm that Autogenes was afterwards sent forth from Ennoea and Logos, to be a representation of the great light, and that he was greatly honoured, all things being rendered subject to him. Along with him was sent forth Aletheia, and a conjunction was formed between Autogenes and Aletheia. But they declare that from the Light, which is Christ, and from Aphtharsia, four luminaries were sent forth to surround Autogenes; and again from Thelema and Zoe Aionios four other emissions took place, to wait on these four luminaries; and these they name Charis (grace), Thelesis (will), Synesis (understanding), and Phronesis (prudence) Of these, Charis is connected with the great and first luminary: him they represent as Soter (Saviour), and style Armogenes. Thelesis, again, is united to the second luminary, whom they also name Raguel; Synesis to the third, whom they call David; and Phronesis to the fourth, whom they name Eleles.
3. All these, then, being so settled, Auto-genes moreover produces a perfect and true man, whom they also call Adamas, inasmuch as neither has he himself ever been conquered, nor have those from whom he sprang; he also was, along with the first light, severed from Armogenes. Moreover, perfect knowledge was sent forth by Autogenes along with man, and was united to him; hence he attained to the knowledge of him that is above all. Invincible power was also conferred on him by the Virgin spirit; and all things then rested in him, to sing praises to the great Aeon. Therefore also they declare were manifested the mother, the father, the son; while from Anthropos and Gnosis that Tree was produced which they also style Gnosis itself.
4. Next they maintain, that from the first angel, who stands by the side of Monogenes, the Holy Spirit has been sent forth, whom they also term Sophia and Prunicus. He then, perceiving that all the others had consorts, while he himself was destitute of one, searched after a being to whom he might be united; and not finding one, he exerted and extended himself to the uttermost and looked down into the lower regions, in the expectation of there finding a consort; and still not meeting with one, he leaped forth (from his place) in a state of great impatience, (which had come on him) because he had made his attempt without the good-will of his father. Afterwards, under the influence of simplicity and kindness, he produced a work in which were to be found ignorance and audacity. This work of his they declare to be Protarchontes, the former of this (lower) creation. But they relate that a mighty power carried him away from his mother, and that he settled far away from her in the lower regions, and formed the firmament of heaven, in which also they affirm that he dwells. And in his ignorance he formed those powers which are inferior to himself – angels, and firmaments, and all things earthly. They affirm that he, being united to Authadia (audacity), produced Kakia (wickedness), Zelos (emulation), Phthonos (envy), Erinnys (fury), and Epithymia (lust). When these were generated, the mother Sophia deeply grieved, fled away, departed into the upper regions, and became the last of the Ogdoad, reckoning it downwards. On her so departing, he imagined he was the only being in existence; and on this account declared, "I am a jealous God, and besides me there is no one." Such are the falsehoods which these people invent.
Doctrines of the Ophites and Sethians
1. Others, again, portentously declare that there exists, in the power of Bythus, a certain primary light, blessed, incorruptible, and infinite: this is the Father of all, and is named the first man. They also maintain that his Ennoea, going forth from him, produced a son, and that this is the son of man – the second man. Below these, again, is the Holy Spirit, and under this superior spirit the elements were separated from each other, that is, water, darkness, the abyss, chaos, above which they declare the Spirit was borne, calling him the first woman. Afterwards, they maintain, the first man, with his son, delighting over the beauty of the Spirit – that is, of the woman – and shedding light on her, begot by her an incorruptible light, the third male, whom they call Christ, – the son of the first and second man, and of the Holy Spirit, the first woman.
2. The father and son so both had intercourse with the woman (whom they also call the mother of the living). When, however, she could not bear nor receive into herself the greatness of the lights, they declare that she was filled to repletion, and became ebullient on the left side; and that so their only son Christ, as belonging to the right side, and ever tending to what was higher, was immediately caught up with his mother to form an incorruptible Aeon. This constitutes the true and holy Church, which has become the appellation, the meeting together, and the union of the father of all, of the first man, of the son, of the second man, of Christ their son, and of the woman who has been mentioned.
3. They teach, however, that the power which proceeded from the woman by ebullition, being besprinkled with light, fell downward from the place occupied by its progenitors, yet possessing by its own will that besprinkling of light; and it they call Sinistra, Prunicus, and Sophia, as well as masculo-feminine. This being, in its simplicity, descended into the waters while they were yet in a state of immobility, and imparted motion to them also, wantonly acting on them even to their lowest depths, and assumed from them a body. For they affirm that all things rushed towards and clung to that sprinkling of light, and begin it all round. Unless it had possessed that, it would perhaps have been totally absorbed in, and overwhelmed by, material substance. Being therefore bound down by a body which was composed of matter, and greatly burdened by it, this power regretted the course it had followed, and made an attempt to escape from the waters and ascend to its mother: it could not effect this, however, on account of the weight of the body lying over and around it. But feeling very ill at ease, it endeavoured at least to conceal that light which came from above, fearing for fear that it too might be injured by the inferior elements, as had happened to itself. And when it had received power from that besprinkling of light which it possessed, it sprang back again, and was borne aloft; and being on high, it extended itself, covered (a portion of space), and formed this visible heaven out of its body; yet remained under the heaven which it made, as still possessing the form of a watery body. But when it had conceived a desire for the light above, and had received power by all things, it laid down this body, and was freed from it. This body which they speak of that power as having thrown off, they call a female from a female.
4. They declare, moreover, that her son had also himself a certain breath of incorruption left him by his mother, and that by means of it he works; and becoming powerful, he himself, as they affirm, also sent forth from the waters a son without a mother; for they do not allow him either to have known a mother. His son, again, after the example of his father, sent forth another son. This third one, too, generated a fourth; the fourth also generated a son: they maintain that again a son was generated by the fifth; and the sixth, too, generated a seventh. So was the Hebdomad, according to them, completed, the mother possessing the eighth place; and as in the case of their generations, so also in regard to dignities and powers, they precede each other in turn.
5. They have also given names to (the several persons) in their system of falsehood, such as the following: he who was the first descendant of the mother is called Ialdabaoth; he, again, descended from him, is named Iao; he, from this one, is called Sabaoth; the fourth is named Adoneus; the fifth, Elaeus; the sixth, Oreus; and the seventh and last of all, Astanphaeus. Moreover, they represent these heavens, potentates, powers, angels, and Creators, as sitting in their proper order in heaven, according to their generation, and as invisibly ruling over things celestial and terrestrial. The first of them, namely Ialdabaoth, holds his mother in contempt, inasmuch as he produced sons and grandsons without the permission of anyone, yes, even angels, archangels, powers, potentates, and dominions. After these things had been done, his sons turned to strive and quarrel with him about the supreme power, – conduct which deeply grieved Ialdabaoth, and drove him to despair. In these circumstances, he cast his eyes on the subjacent dregs of matter, and fixed his desire on it, to which they declare his son owes his origin. This son is Nous himself, twisted into the form of a serpent; and hence were derived the spirit, the soul, and all mundane things: from this too were generated all oblivion, wickedness, emulation, envy, and death. They declare that the father imparted still greater crookedness to this serpent-like and contorted Nous of theirs, when he was with their father in heaven and Paradise.
6. On this account, Ialdabaoth, becoming uplifted in spirit, boasted himself over all those things that were below him, and exclaimed, "I am father, and God, and above me there is no one." But his mother, hearing him speak so, cried out against him, "Do not lie, Ialdabaoth: for the father of all, the first Anthropos (man), is above you; and so is Anthropos the son of Anthropos." Then, as all were disturbed by this new voice, and by the unexpected proclamation, and as they were enquiring from where the noise proceeded, in order to lead them away and attract them to himself, they affirm that Ialdabaoth exclaimed, "Come, let us make man after our image." The six powers, on hearing this, and their mother furnishing them with the idea of a man (in order that by means of him she might empty them of their original power), jointly formed a man of immense size, both in regard to breadth and length. But as he could merely writhe along the ground, they carried him to their father; Sophia so labouring in this matter, that she might empty him (Ialdabaoth) of the light with which he had been sprinkled, so that he might no longer, though still powerful, be able to lift up himself against the powers above. They declare, then, that by breathing into man the spirit of life, he was secretly emptied of his power; that hence man became a possessor of nous (intelligence) and enthymesis (thought); and they affirm that these are the faculties which partake in salvation. He (they further assert) at once gave thanks to the first Anthropos (man), forsaking those who had created him.
7. But Ialdabaoth, feeling envious at this, was pleased to form the design of again emptying man by means of woman, and produced a woman from his own enthymesis, whom that Prunicus (above mentioned) laying hold of, imperceptibly emptied her of power. But the others coming and admiring her beauty, named her Eve, and falling in love with her, begot sons by her, whom they also declare to be the angels. But their mother (Sophia) cunningly devised a scheme to seduce Eve and Adam, by means of the serpent, to transgress the command of Ialdabaoth. Eve listened to this as if it had proceeded from a son of God, and yielded an easy belief. She also persuaded Adam to eat of the tree regarding which God had said that they should not eat of it. They then declare that, on their so eating, they attained to the knowledge of that power which is above all, and departed from those who had created them. When Prunicus perceived that the powers were so baffled by their own creature, she greatly rejoiced, and again cried out, that since the father was incorruptible, he (Ialdabaoth) who formerly called himself the father was a liar; and that, while Anthropos and the first woman (the Spirit) existed previously, this one (Eve) sinned by committing adultery.
8. Ialdabaoth, however, through that oblivion in which he was involved, and not paying any regard to these things, cast Adam and Eve out of Paradise, because they had transgressed his commandment. For he had a desire to beget sons by Eve, but did not accomplish his wish, because his mother opposed him in every point, and secretly emptied Adam and Eve of the light with which they had been sprinkled, in order that that spirit which proceeded from the supreme power might participate neither in the curse nor opprobrium (caused by transgression). They also teach that, so being emptied of the divine substance, they were cursed by him, and cast down from heaven to this world. But the serpent also, who was acting against the father, was cast down by him into this lower world; he reduced, however, under his power the angels here, and begot six sons, he himself forming the seventh person, after the example of that Hebdomad which surrounds the father. They further declare that these are the seven mundane demons, who always oppose and resist the human race, because it was on their account that their father was cast down to this lower world.
9. Adam and Eve previously had light, and clear, and so to speak spiritual bodies, such as they were at their creation; but when they came to this world, these changed into bodies more opaque, and gross, and sluggish. Their soul also was feeble and languid, inasmuch as they had received from their Creator a merely mundane inspiration. This continued until Prunicus, moved with compassion towards them, restored to them the sweet savour of the besprinkling of light, by means of which they came to a memory of themselves, and knew that they were naked, as well as that the body was a material substance, and so recognised that they bore death about with them. They thereupon became patient, knowing that only for a time they would be enveloped in the body. They also found out food, through the guidance of Sophia; and when they were satisfied, they had carnal knowledge of each other, and begot Cain, whom the serpent, that had been cast down along with his sons, immediately laid hold of and destroyed by filling him with mundane oblivion, and urging into folly and audacity, so that, by slaying his brother Abel, he was the first to bring to light envy and death. After these, they affirm that, by the forethought of Prunicus, Seth was begotten, and then Norea, from whom they represent all the rest of mankind as being descended. They were urged on to all kinds of wickedness by the inferior Hebdomad, and to apostasy, idolatry, and a general contempt for everything by the superior holy Hebdomad, since the mother was always secretly opposed to them, and carefully preserved what was peculiarly her own, that is, the besprinkling of light. They maintain, moreover, that the holy Hebdomad is the seven stars which they call planets; and they affirm that the serpent cast down has two names, Michael and Samael.
10. Ialdabaoth, again, being incensed with men, because they did not worship or honour him as father and God, sent forth a deluge on them, that he might at once destroy them all. But Sophia opposed him in this point also, and Noah and his family were saved in the ark by means of the besprinkling of that light which proceeded from her, and through it the world was again filled with mankind. Ialdabaoth himself chose a certain man named Abraham from among these, and made a covenant with him, to the effect that, if his seed continued to serve him, he would give to them the earth for an inheritance. Afterwards, by means of Moses, he brought forth Abraham's descendants from Egypt, and gave them the law, and made them the Jews. Among that people he chose seven days, which they also call the holy Hebdomad. Each of these receives his own herald for the purpose of glorifying and proclaiming God; so that, when the rest hear these praises, they too may serve those who are announced as gods try the prophets.
11. Moreover, they distribute the prophets in the following manner: Moses, and Joshua the son of Nun, and Amos, and Habakkuk, belonged to Ialdabaoth; Samuel, and Nathan, and Jonah, and Micah, to Iao; Elijah, Joel, and Zechariah to Sabaoth; Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel, to Adohai; Tobias and Haggai to Eloi; Michaiah and Nahum to Oreus; Esdras and Zephaniah to Astanphaeus. Each one of these, then, glorifies his own father and God, and they maintain that Sophia, herself has also spoken many things through them regarding the first Anthropos (man), and concerning that Christ who is above, so admonishing and reminding men of the incorruptible light, the first Anthropos, and of the descent of Christ. The (other) powers being terrified by these things, and marveling at the novelty of those things which were announced by the prophets, Prunicus brought it about by means of Ialdabaoth (who knew not what he did), that emissions of two men took place, the one from the barren Elizabeth, and the other from the Virgin Mary.
12. And since she herself had no rest either in heaven or on earth, she invoked her mother to assist her in her distress. Upon this, her mother, the first woman, was moved with compassion towards her daughter, on her repentance, and begged from the first man that Christ should be sent to her assistance, who, being sent forth, descended to his sister, and to the besprinkling of light. When he recognised her (that is, the Sophia below), her brother descended to her, and announced his advent by means of John, and prepared the baptism of repentance, and adopted Jesus beforehand, in order that on Christ descending he might find a pure vessel, and that by the son of that Ialdabaoth the woman might be announced by Christ. They further declare that he descended through the seven heavens, having assumed the likeness of their sons, and gradually emptied them of their power. For they maintain that the whole besprinkling of light rushed to him, and that Christ, descending to this world, first clothed his sister Sophia (with it), and that then both exulted in the mutual refreshment they felt in each other's society: this scene they describe as relating to bridegroom and bride. But Jesus, inasmuch as he was begotten of the Virgin through the agency of God, was wiser, purer, and more righteous than all other men: Christ united to Sophia descended into him, and so Jesus Christ was produced.
13. They affirm that many of his disciples were not aware of the descent of Christ into him; but that, when Christ did descend on Jesus, he then began to work miracles, and heal, and announce the unknown Father, and openly to confess himself the son of the first man. The powers and the father of Jesus were angry at these proceedings, and laboured to destroy him; and when he was being led away for this purpose, they say that Christ himself, along with Sophia, departed from him into the state of an incorruptible Aeon, while Jesus was crucified. Christ, however, was not forgetful of his Jesus, but sent down a certain energy into him from above, which raised him up again in the body, which they call both animal and spiritual; for he sent the mundane parts back again into the world. When his disciples saw that he had risen, they did not recognise him – no, not even Jesus himself, by whom he rose again from the dead. And they assert that this very great error prevailed among his disciples, that they imagined he had risen in a mundane body, not knowing that "flesh and blood do not attain to the kingdom of God."
14. They strove to establish the descent and ascent of Christ, by the fact that neither before his baptism, nor after his resurrection from the dead, do his disciples state that he did any mighty works, not being aware that Jesus was united to Christ, and the incorruptible Aeon to the Hebdomad; and they declare his mundane body to be of the same nature as that of animals. But after his resurrection he tarried (on earth) eighteen months; and knowledge descending into him from above, he taught what was clear. He instructed a few of his disciples, whom he knew to be capable of understanding so great mysteries, in these things, and was then received up into heaven, Christ sitting down at the right hand of his father Ialdabaoth, that he may receive to himself the souls of those who have known them, after they have laid aside their mundane flesh, so enriching himself without the knowledge or perception of his father; so that, in proportion as Jesus enriches himself with holy souls, to such an extent does his father suffer loss and is diminished, being emptied of his own power by these souls. For he will not now possess holy souls to send them down again into the world, except those only which are of his substance, that is, those into which he has breathed. But the consummation (of all things) will take place, when the whole besprinkling of the spirit of light is gathered together, and is carried off to form an incorruptible Aeon.
15. Such are the opinions which prevail among these persons, by whom, like the Lernaean hydra, a many-headed beast has been generated from the school of Valentinus. For some of them assert that Sophia herself became the serpent; on which account she was hostile to the Creator of Adam, and implanted knowledge in men, for which reason the serpent was called wiser than all others. Moreover, by the position of our intestines, through which the food is conveyed, and by the fact that they possess such a figure, our internal configuration in the form of a serpent reveals our hidden generatrix.
Doctrine of the Cainites, about great powers given to Cain
1. Others again declare that Cain derived his being from the Power above, and acknowledge that Esau, Korah, the Sodomites, and all such persons, are related to themselves. On this account, they add, they have been assailed by the Creator, yet no one of them has suffered injury. For Sophia was in the habit of carrying off that which belonged to her from them to herself. They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were so thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.
2. I have also made a collection of their writings in which they advocate the abolition of the doings of Hystera. Moreover, they call this Hystera the Creator of heaven and earth. They also hold, like Carpocrates, that men cannot be saved until they have gone through all kinds of experience. An angel, they maintain, attends them in everyone of their sinful and abominable actions, and urges them to venture on audacity and incur pollution. Whatever may be the nature of the action, they declare that they do it in the name of the angel, saying, "O you angel, I use your work; O you power, I accomplish your operation!" And they maintain that this is "perfect knowledge," without shrinking to rush into such actions as it is not lawful even to name.
3. It was necessary clearly to prove, that, as their very opinions and regulations exhibit them, those who are of the school of Valentinus derive their origin from such mothers, fathers, and ancestors, and also to bring forward their doctrines, with the hope that perhaps some of them, exercising repentance and returning to the only Creator, and God the Former of the universe, may obtain salvation, and that others may not from now on be drown away by their wicked, although plausible, persuasions, imagining that they will obtain from them the knowledge of some greater and more sublime mysteries. But let them rather, learning to good effect from us the wicked tenets of these men, look with contempt on their doctrines, while at the same time they pity those who, still cleaving to these miserable and baseless fables, have reached such a pitch of arrogance as to reckon themselves superior to all others on account of such knowledge, or, as it should rather be called, ignorance. They have now been fully exposed; and simply to exhibit their sentiments, is to obtain a victory over them.
4. Therefore I have laboured to bring forward, and make clearly manifest, the utterly ill-conditioned carcass of this miserable little fox. For there will not now be need of many words to overturn their system of doctrine, when it has been made manifest to all. It is as when, on a beast hiding itself in a wood, and by rushing forth from it is in the habit of destroying multitudes, one who beats round the wood and thoroughly explores it, so as to compel the animal to break cover, does not strive to capture it, seeing that it is truly a ferocious beast; but those present can then watch and avoid its assaults, and can cast darts at it from all sides, and wound it, and finally slay that destructive brute. So, in our case, since we have brought their hidden mysteries, which they keep in silence among themselves, to the light, it will not now be necessary to use many words in destroying their system of opinions. For it is now in your power, and in the power of all your associates, to familiarize yourselves with what has been said, to overthrow their wicked and undigested doctrines, and to set forth doctrines agreeable to the truth. Since then the case is so, I shall, according to promise, and as my ability serves, labour to overthrow them, by refuting them all in the following book. Even to give an account of them is a tedious affair, as you see. But I shall furnish means for overthrowing them, by meeting all their opinions in the order in which they have been described, that I may not only expose the wild beast to view, but may inflict wounds on it from every side.
Preface: Review of Bk 1; project for Bk 2
1. Only one God; there can be no other
2. The world was not made in opposition to God, but by the Father, through the Word
3. The world was created by God and was not the fruit of defect or ignorance
4. The "vacuum and defect" claimed by the heretics
5. This world was not formed by any other beings under the Father
6. The maker of the world could not have been ignorant of God
7. Created things are not "images of the aeons within the Pleroma"
8. Created things are not "a shadow of things above"
9. Only one Creator of the world: this the constant belief of the Church
10. God created out of nothing, and not from pre-existent matter
11. The heretical abyss of error: reasons for investigating their systems
12. Excess and defect, in their triad of Sophia, Logos and Sige
13. Their multiplication of Agents is altogether indefensible
14. Valentinus' system is borrowed from the heathen; only the names are changed
15. No account can be given of these productions.
16. Either the Creator produced by himself, or there is infinite regress to find a first cause
17. Even Nous and the Father himself would be in ignorance
18. Sophia's "enthymesis" could not have been separated from herself
19. Their opinions about the demiurge shown to be equally untenable
20. Futility of the arguments adduced to demonstrate the sufferings of the twelfth aeon, from the parables, the treachery of Judas, and the passion of our Saviour
21. The twelve apostles were not a type of the aeons
22. Their numbers do not fit the life of Christ: he was baptised in his thirtieth year and did not suffer in the twelfth month after his baptism, but was more than fifty years old when he died
23. The woman with an issue of blood was no type of the suffering Aeon
24. Folly of the arguments deriving from numbers, letters, and syllables
25. Need of wisdom and humility in seeking after God
26. "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."
27. Proper way to interpret parables and obscure passages of Scripture
27. Perfect knowledge cannot be gained in the present life
29. Views of the heretics on the future destiny of the soul and body
30. Styling themselves spiritual, while their demiurge is declared to be animal!
31. Recapitulation and application of the foregoing arguments
32. Further blasphemous doctrines of the heretics
33. Absurdity of the doctrine of the transmigration of souls
34. Souls can be recognised in the afterlife and are immortal
35. Basilides' opinion that the prophets were inspired by different gods
Review of Bk 1; project for Bk 2
1. In the first book, which immediately precedes this, exposing "knowledge falsely so called," I showed you, my very dear friend, that the whole system devised, in many and opposite ways, by those who are of the school of Valentinus, was false and baseless. I also set forth the tenets of their predecessors, proving that they not only differed among themselves, but had long previously swerved from the truth itself. I further explained, with all diligence, the doctrine as well as practice of Marcus the magician, since he, too, belongs to these persons; and I carefully noticed the passages which they garble from the Scriptures, with the view of adapting them to their own fictions. Moreover, I minutely narrated the manner in which, by means of numbers, and by the twenty-four letters of the alphabet, they boldly endeavour to establish (what they regard as) truth. I have also related how they think and teach that creation at large was formed after the image of their invisible Pleroma, and what they hold respecting the Demiurge, declaring at the same time the doctrine of Simon Magus of Samaria, their progenitor, and of all those who succeeded him. I mentioned, too, the multitude of those Gnostics who are sprung from him, and noticed the points of difference between them, their several doctrines, and the order of their succession, while I set forth all those heresies which have been originated by them. I showed, moreover, that all these heretics, taking their rise from Simon, have introduced impious and irreligious doctrines into this life; and I explained the nature of their "redemption," and their method of initiating those who are rendered "perfect," along with their invocations and their mysteries. I proved also that there is one God, the Creator, and that he is not the fruit of any defect, nor is there anything either above him, or after him.
2. In the present book, I shall establish those points which fit in with my design, so far as time permits, and overthrow, by means of lengthened treatment under distinct heads, their whole system; for which reason, since it is an exposure and subversion of their opinions, I have so entitled the composition of this work. For it is fitting, by a plain revelation and overthrow of their conjunctions, to put an end to these hidden alliances, and to Bythus himself, and so to obtain a demonstration that he never existed at any previous time, nor now has any existence.
Only one God; there can be no other
1. It is proper, then, that I should begin with the first and most important head, that is, God the Creator, who made the heaven and the earth, and all things that are in them (whom these men blasphemously style the fruit of a defect), and to demonstrate that there is nothing either above him or after him; nor that, influenced by anyone, but of his own free will, he created all things, since he is the only God, the only Lord, the only Creator, the only Father, alone containing all things, and himself commanding all things into existence.
2. For how can there be any other Fulness, or Principle, or Power, or God, above him, since it is matter of necessity that God, the Pleroma (Fulness) of all these, should contain all things in his immensity, and should be contained by no one? But if there is anything beyond him, he is not then the Pleroma of all, nor does he contain all. For that which they declare to be beyond him will be wanting to the Pleroma, or, (in other words), to that God who is above all things. But that which is wanting, and falls in any way short, is not the Pleroma of all things. In such a case, he would have both beginning, middle, and end, with respect to those who are beyond him. And if he has an end in regard to those things which are below, he has also a beginning with respect to those things which are above. In the same way, there is an absolute necessity that he should experience the very same thing at all other points, and should be held in, bounded, and enclosed by those existences that are outside of him. For that being who is the end downwards, necessarily circumscribes and surrounds him who finds his end in it. And so, according to them, the Father of all (that is, he whom they call Proon and Proarche), with their Pleroma, and the good God of Marcion, is established and enclosed in some other, and is surrounded from without by another mighty Being, who must of necessity be greater, inasmuch as that which contains is greater than that which is contained. But then that which is greater is also stronger, and in a greater degree Lord; and that which is greater, and stronger, and in a greater degree Lord – must be God.
3. Now, since there exists, according to them, also something else which they declare to be outside of the Pleroma, into which they further hold there descended that higher power who went astray, it is in every way necessary that the Pleroma either contains that which is beyond, yet is contained (for otherwise, it will not be beyond the Pleroma; for if there is anything beyond the Pleroma, there will be a Pleroma within this very Pleroma which they declare to be outside of the Pleroma, and the Pleroma will be contained by that which is beyond: and with the Pleroma is understood also the first God); or, again, they must be an infinite distance separated from each other – the Pleroma (I mean), and that which is beyond it. But if they maintain this, there will then be a third kind of existence, which separates by immensity the Pleroma and that which is beyond it. This third kind of existence will therefore bound and contain both the others, and will be greater both than the Pleroma, and than that which is beyond it, inasmuch as it contains both in its bosom. In this way, talk might go on for ever concerning those things which are contained, and those which contain. For if this third existence has its beginning above, and its end beneath, there is an absolute necessity that it be also bounded on the sides, either beginning or ceasing at certain other points, (where new existences begin.) These, again, and others which are above and below, will have their beginnings at certain other points, and so on ad infinitum; so that their thoughts would never rest in one God, but, in consequence of seeking after more than exists, would wander away to that which has no existence, and depart from the true God.
4. These remarks are, in the same way, applicable against the followers of Marcion. For his two gods will also be contained and circumscribed by an immense interval which separates them from one another. But then there is a necessity to suppose a multitude of gods separated by an immense distance from each other on every side, beginning with one another, and ending in one another. So, by that very process of reasoning on which they depend for teaching that there is a certain Pleroma or God above the Creator of heaven and earth, anyone who chooses to employ it may maintain that there is another Pleroma above the Pleroma, above that again another, and above Bythus another ocean of Deity, while in the same way the same successions hold with respect to the sides; and so, their doctrine flowing out into immensity, there will always be a necessity to conceive of other Pleroma, and other Bythi, so as never at any time to stop, but always to continue seeking for others besides those already mentioned. Moreover, it will be uncertain whether these which we conceive of are below, or are, in fact, themselves the things which are above; and, in the same way, will be doubtful) respecting those things which are said by them to be above, whether they are really above or below; and so our opinions will have no fixed conclusion or certainty, but will necessarily wander forth after worlds without limits, and gods that cannot be numbered.
5. These things, then, being so, each deity will be contented with his own possessions, and will not be moved with any curiosity respecting the affairs of others; otherwise he would be unjust, and rapacious, and would cease to be what God is. Each creation, too, will glorify its own maker, and will be contented with him, not knowing any other; otherwise it would most justly be deemed an apostate by all the others, and would receive a richly-deserved punishment. For it must be either that there is one Being who contains all things, and formed in his own territory all those things which have been created, according to his own will; or, again, that there are numerous unlimited Creators and gods, who begin from each other, and end in each other on every side; and it will then be necessary to allow that all the rest are contained from without by someone who is greater, and that they are each of them shut up within their own territory, and remain in it. No one of them all, therefore, is God. For there will be (much) wanting to everyone of them, possessing (as he will do) only a very small part when compared with all the rest. The name of the Omnipotent will so be brought to an end, and such an opinion will necessarily fall to impiety.
The world was not made in opposition to God, but by the Father, through the Word
1. Those, moreover, who say that the world was formed by angels, or by any other maker of it, contrary to the will of him who is the Supreme Father, err first of all in this very point, that they maintain that angels formed such and so mighty a creation, contrary to the will of the Most High God. This would imply that angels were more powerful than God; or if not so, that he was either careless, or inferior, or paid no regard to those things which took place among his own possessions, whether they turned out ill or well, so that he might drive away and prevent the one, while he praised and rejoiced over the other. But if one would not ascribe such conduct even to a man of any ability, how much less to God 2. Next let them tell us whether these things have been formed within the limits which are contained by him, and in his proper territory, or in regions belonging to others, and lying beyond him? But if they say (that these things were done) beyond him, then all the absurdities already mentioned will face them, and the Supreme God will be enclosed by that which is beyond him, in which also it will be necessary that he should find his end. If, on the other hand, (these things were done) within his own proper territory, it will be very idle to say that the world was so formed within his proper territory against his will by angels who are themselves under his power, or by any other being, as if either he himself did not behold all things which take place among his own possessions, or was not aware of the things to be done by angels.
3. If, however, (the things referred to were done) not against his will, but with his concurrence and knowledge, as some (of these men) think, the angels, or the Former of the world (whoever that may have been), will no longer be the causes of that formation, but the will of God. For if he is the Former of the world, he too made the angels, or at least was the cause of their creation; and he will be regarded as having made the world who prepared the causes of its formation. Although they maintain that the angels were made by a long succession downwards, or that the Former of the world (sprang) from the Supreme Father, as Basilides asserts; nevertheless that which is the cause of those things which have been made will still be traced to him who was the Author of such a succession. (The case stands) just as regards success in war, which is ascribed to the king who prepared those things which are the cause of victory; and, in the same way, the creation of any state, or of any work, is referred to him who prepared materials for the accomplishment of those results which were afterwards brought about. Therefore, we do not say that it was the axe which cut the wood, or the saw which divided it; but one would very properly say that the man cut and divided it who formed the axe and the saw for this purpose, and (who also formed) at a much earlier date all the tools by which the axe and the saw themselves were formed. With justice, therefore, according to an analogous process of reasoning, the Father of all will be declared the Former of this world, and not the angels, nor any other (so-called) former of the world, other than he who was its Author, and had formerly been the cause of the preparation for a creation of this kind.
4. This way of speech may perhaps be plausible or persuasive to those who do not know God, and who liken him to needy human beings, and to those who cannot immediately and without assistance form anything, but require many instrumentalities to produce what they intend. But it will not be regarded as at all probable by those who know that God stands in need of nothing, and that he created and made all things by his Word, while he neither required angels to assist him in the production of those things which are made, nor of any power greatly inferior to himself, and ignorant of the Father, nor of any defect or ignorance, in order that he who should know him might become man. But he himself in himself, after a fashion which we can neither describe nor conceive, predestinating all things, formed them as he pleased, bestowing harmony on all things, and assigning them their own place, and the beginning of their creation. In this way he conferred on spiritual things a spiritual and invisible nature, on super-celestial things a celestial, on angels an angelical, on animals an animal, on beings that swim a nature suited to the water, and on those that live on the land one fitted for the land – on all, in short, a nature suitable to the character of the life assigned them – while he formed all things that were made by his Word that never wearies.
5. For this is a peculiarity of the pre-eminence of God, not to stand in need of other instruments for the creation of those things which are summoned into existence. His own Word is both suitable and sufficient for the formation of all things, even as John, the disciple of the Lord, declares regarding him: "All things were made by him, and without him nothing was made." Now, among the "all things" our world must be embraced. It too, therefore, was made by his Word, as Scripture tells us in the book of Genesis that he made all things connected with our world by his Word. David also expresses the same truth (when he says) "For he spoke, and they were made; he commanded, and they were created." whom, therefore, shall we believe as to the creation of the world – these heretics who have been mentioned that prate so foolishly and inconsistently on the subject, or the disciples of the Lord, and Moses, who was both a faithful servant of God and a prophet? He at first narrated the formation of the world in these words: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," and all other things in succession; but neither gods nor angels (had any share in the work).
Now, that this God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Paul the apostle also has declared, (saying), "There is one God, the Father, who is above all, and through all things, and in us all." I have indeed proved already that there is only one God; but I shall further demonstrate this from the apostles themselves, and from the discourses of the Lord. For what sort of conduct would it be, were we to forsake the utterances of the prophets, of the Lord, and of the apostles, that we might give heed to these persons, who speak not a word of sense?
The world was created by God and was not the fruit of defect or ignorance
1. The Bythus, therefore, whom they conceive of with his Pleroma, and the God of Marcion, are inconsistent. If indeed, as they affirm, he has something subjacent and beyond himself, which they style vacuity and shadow, this vacuum is then proved to be greater than their Pleroma. But it is inconsistent even to make this statement, that while he contains all things within himself, the creation was formed by some other. For it is absolutely necessary that they acknowledge a certain void and chaotic kind of existence (below the spiritual Pleroma) in which this universe was formed, and that the Propator purposely left this chaos as it was, either knowing beforehand what things were to happen in it, or being ignorant of them. If he was really ignorant, then God will not be prescient of all things. But they will not even (in that case) be able to assign a reason on what account he so left this place void during so long a period of time. If, again, he is prescient, and contemplated mentally that creation which was about to have a being in that place, then he himself created it who also formed it beforehand (ideally) in himself.
2. Let them cease, therefore, to affirm that the world was made by any other; for as soon as God formed a conception in his mind, that was also done which he had so mentally conceived. For it was not possible that one Being should mentally form the conception, and another actually produce the things which had been conceived by him in his mind. But God, according to these heretics, mentally conceived either an eternal world or a temporal one, both of which suppositions cannot be true. Yet if he had mentally conceived of it as eternal, spiritual, and visible, it would also have been formed such. But if it was formed such as it really is, then he made it such who had mentally conceived of it as such; or he willed it to exist in the ideality of the Father, according to the conception of his mind, such as it now is, compound, mutable, and transient. Since, then, it is just such as the Father had (ideally) formed in counsel with himself, it must be worthy of the Father. But to affirm that what was mentally conceived and pre-created by the Father of all, just as it has been actually formed, is the fruit of defect, and the production of ignorance, is to be guilty of great blasphemy. For, according to them, the Father of all will so be (regarded as) generating in his breast, according to his own mental conception, the emanations of defect and the fruits of ignorance, since the things which he had conceived in his mind have actually been produced.
The "vacuum and defect" claimed by the heretics
1. The cause, then, of such a dispensation on the part of God, is to be enquired after; but the formation of the world is not to be ascribed to any other. And all things are to be spoken of as having been so prepared by God beforehand, that they should be made as they have been made; but shadow and vacuity are not to be conjured into existence. But from where, let me ask, came this vacuity (of which they speak)? If it was indeed produced by him who, according to them, is the Father and Author of oil things, then it is both equal in honour and related to the rest of the Aeons, perhaps even more ancient than they are. Moreover, if it proceeded from the same source (as they did), it must be similar in nature to him who produced it, as well as to those along with whom it was produced. There will therefore be an absolute necessity, both that the Bythus of whom they speak, along with Sige, be similar in nature to a vacuum, that is, that he really is a vacuum; and that the rest of the Aeons, since they are the brothers of vacuity, should also be devoid of substance. If, on the other hand, it has not been so produced, it must have sprang from and been generated by itself, and in that case it will be equal in point of age to that Bythus who is, according to them, the Father of oil; and so vacuity will be of the same nature and of the same honour with him who is, according to them, the universal Father. For it must of necessity have been either produced by some one, or generated by itself, and sprung from itself. But if, in truth, vacuity was produced, then its producer Valentinus is also a vacuum, as are likewise his followers. If, again, it was not produced, but was generated by itself, then that which is really a vacuum is similar to, and the brother of, and of the same honour with, that Father who has been proclaimed by Valentinus; while it is more ancient, and dating its existence from a period greatly anterior, and more exalted in honour than the remaining Aeons of Ptolemy himself, and Heracleon, and all the rest who hold the same opinions.
2. But if, driven to despair in regard to these points, they confess that the Father of all contains all things, and that there is nothing whatever outside of the Heroma (for it is an absolute necessity that, (if there be anything outside of it), it should be bounded and circumscribed by something greater than itself), and that they speak of what is without and what within in reference to knowledge and ignorance, and not with respect to local distance; but that, in the Pleroma, or in those things which are contained by the Father, the whole creation which we know to have been formed, having been made by the Demiurge, or by the angels, is contained by the unspeakable greatness, as the centre is in a circle, or as a spot is in a garment, – then, in the first place, what sort of a being must that Bythus be, who allows a stain to have place in his own bosom, and permits another one to create or produce within his territory, contrary to his own will? Such a mode of acting would truly entail (the charge of) degeneracy on the entire Pleroma, since it might from the first have cut off that defect, and those emanations which derived their origin from it, and not have agreed to permit the formation of creation either in ignorance, or passion, or in defect. For he who can afterwards rectify a defect, and does, so to speak, wash away a stain, could at a much earlier date have taken care that no such stain should, even at first, be found among his possessions. Or if at the first he allowed that the things which were made (should be as they are), since they could not, in fact, be formed otherwise, then it follows that they must always continue in the same condition. For how is it possible, that those things which cannot at the first obtain rectification, should subsequently receive it? Or how can men say that they are called to perfection, when those very beings who are the causes from which men derive their origin – either the Demiurge himself, or the angels – are declared to exist in defect? And if, as is maintained, (the Supreme Being), inasmuch as he is benignant, did at last take pity on men, and bestow on them perfection, he ought at first to have pitied those who were the Creators of man, and to have conferred on them perfection. In this way, men too would truly have shared in his compassion, being formed. Perfect by those that were perfect. For if he pitied the work of these beings, he ought long before to have pitied themselves, and not to have allowed them to fall into such awful blindness.
3. Their talk also about shadow and vacuity, in which they maintain that the creation with which we are concerned was formed, will be brought to nothing, if the things referred to were created within the territory which is contained by the Father. For if they hold that the light of their Father is such that it fills all things which are inside of him, and illuminates them all, how can any vacuum or shadow possibly exist within that territory which is contained by the Pleroma, and by the light of the Father? For, in that case, they ought to point out some place within the Propator, or within the Pleroma, which is not illuminated, nor kept possession of by anyone, and in which either the angels or the Demiurge formed whatever they pleased. Nor will it be a small amount of space in which such and so great a creation can be conceived of as having been formed. There will therefore be an absolute necessity that, within the Pleroma, or within the Father of whom they speak, they should conceive of some place, void, formless, and full of darkness, in which those things were formed which have been formed. By such a supposition, however, the light of their Father would incur a reproach, as if he could not illuminate and fill those things which are within himself. So, then, when they maintain that these things were the fruit of defect and the work of error, they do moreover introduce defect and error within the Pleroma, and into the bosom of the Father.
This world was not formed by any other beings under the Father
1. The remarks, therefore, which I made a little while ago are suitable in answer to those who assert that this world was formed outside of the Pleroma, or under a "good God; "and such persons, with the Father they speak of, will be quite cut off from that which is outside the Pleroma, in which, at the same time, it is necessary that they should finally rest. In answer to those, again, who maintain that this world was formed by certain other beings within that territory which is contained by the Father, all those points which have now been noticed will present themselves (as exhibiting their) absurdities and incoherencies; and they will be compelled either to acknowledge all those things which are within the Father, lucid, full, and energetic, or to accuse the light of the Father as if he could not illuminate all things; or, as a portion of their Pleroma (is so described), the whole of it must be confessed to be void, chaotic, and full of darkness. And they accuse all other created things as if these were merely temporal, or (at the best), if eternal, yet material. But these (the aeons) ought to be regarded as beyond the reach of such accusations, since they are within the Pleroma, or the charges in question will equally fall against the entire Pleroma; and so the Christ of whom they speak is discovered to be the author of ignorance. For, according to their statements, when he had given a form so far as substance was concerned to the Mother they conceive of, he cast her outside of the Pleroma; that is, he cut her off from knowledge. He, therefore, who separated her from knowledge, did in reality produce ignorance in her. How then could the very same person bestow the gift of knowledge on the rest of the aeons, those who were anterior to him (in production), and yet be the author of ignorance to his Mother? For he placed her beyond the pale of knowledge, when he cast her outside of the Pleroma.
2. Moreover, if they explain being within and without the Pleroma as implying knowledge and ignorance respectively, as certain of them do (since he who has knowledge is within that which knows), then they must of necessity grant that the Saviour himself (whom they designate All Things) was in a state of ignorance. For they maintain that, on his coming forth outside of the Pleroma, he imparted form to their Mother (Achamoth). If, then, they assert that whatever is outside (the Pleroma) is ignorant of all things, and if the Saviour went forth to impart form to their Mother, then he was situated beyond the pale of the knowledge of all things; that is, he was in ignorance. How then could he communicate knowledge to her, when he himself was beyond the pale of knowledge? For we, too, they declare to be outside the Pleroma, inasmuch as we are outside of the knowledge which they possess. And once more: If the Saviour really went forth beyond the Pleroma to seek after the sheep which was lost, but the Pleroma is (co-extensive with) knowledge, then he placed himself beyond the pale of knowledge, that is, in ignorance. For it is necessary either that they grant that what is outside the Pleroma is so in a local sense, in which case all the remarks formerly made will rise up against them; or if they speak of that which is within in regard to knowledge, and of that which is without in respect to ignorance, then their Saviour, and Christ long before him, must have been formed in ignorance, inasmuch as they went forth beyond the Pleroma, that is, beyond the pale of knowledge, in order to impart form to their Mother.
3. These arguments may, in the same way, be adapted to meet the case of all those who, in any way, maintain that the world was formed either by angels or by any other one than the true God. For the charges which they bring against the Demiurge, and those things which were made material and temporal, will in truth fall back on the Father; if indeed the very things which were formed in the bosom of the Pleroma began by and by in fact to be dissolved, in accordance with the permission and good-will of the Father. The (immediate) Creator, then, is not the (real) Author of this work, thinking, as he did, that he formed it very good, but he who allows and approves of the productions of defect, and the works of error having a place among his own possessions, and that temporal things should be mixed up with eternal, corruptible with incorruptible, and those which partake of error with those which belong to truth. If, however, these things were formed without the permission or approbation of the Father of all, then that Being must be more powerful, stronger, and more kingly, who made these things within a territory which properly belongs to him (the Father), and did so without his permission. If again, as some say, their Father permitted these things without approving of them, then he gave the permission on account of some necessity, being either able to prevent (such procedure), or unable. But if indeed he could not (hinder it), then he is weak and powerless; while, if he could, he is a seducer, a hypocrite, and a slave of necessity, inasmuch as he does not consent (to such a course), and yet allows it as if he did consent. And allowing error to arise at the first, and to go on increasing, he endeavours in later times to destroy it, when already many have miserably perished on account of the (original) defect.
4. It is not proper, however, to say of him who is God over all, since he is free and independent, that he was a slave to necessity, or that anything takes place with his permission, yet against his desire; otherwise they will make necessity greater and more kingly than God, since that which has the most power is superior to all (others). And he ought at the very beginning to have cut off the causes of (the fancied) necessity, and not to have allowed himself to be shut up to yielding to that necessity, by permitting anything besides that which became him. For it would have been much better, more consistent, and more God-like, to cut off at the beginning the principle of this kind of necessity, than afterwards, as if moved by repentance, to endeavour to extirpate the results of necessity when they had reached such a development. And if the Father of all be a slave to necessity, and must yield to fate, while he unwillingly tolerates the things which are done, but is at the same time powerless to do anything in opposition to necessity and fate (like the Homeric Jupiter, who says of necessity, "I have willingly given you, yet with unwilling mind”), then, according to this reasoning, the Bythus of whom they speak will be found to be the slave of necessity and fate.
The maker of the world could not have been ignorant of God
1. How, again, could either the angels, or the Creator of the world, have been ignorant of the Supreme God, seeing they were his property, and his creatures, and were contained by him? He might indeed have been invisible to them on account of his superiority, but he could by no means have been unknown to them on account of his providence. For though it is true, as they declare, that they were very far separated from him through their inferiority (of nature), yet, as his dominion extended over all of them, it was fitting for them to know their Ruler, and to be aware of this in particular, that he who created them is Lord of all. For since his invisible essence is mighty, it confers on all a profound mental intuition and perception of his most powerful, yes, omnipotent greatness. Therefore, although "no one knows the Father, except the Son, nor the Son except the Father, and those to whom the Son will reveal him," yet all (beings) do know this one fact at least, because reason, implanted in their minds, moves them, and reveals to them (the truth) that there is one God, the Lord of all.
2. And on this account all things have been (by general consent) placed under the sway of him who is named the Most High, and the Almighty. By calling on him, even before the coming of our Lord, men were saved both from most wicked spirits, and from all kinds of demons, and from every sort of apostate power. This was the case, not as if earthly spirits or demons had seen him, but because they knew of the existence of him who is God over all, at whose invocation they trembled, as there does tremble every creature, and principality, and power, and every being endowed with energy under his government. By way of parallel, shall not those who live under the empire of the Romans, although they have never seen the emperor, but are far separated from him both by land and sea, know very well, as they experience his rule, who it is that possesses the principal power in the state? How then could it be, that those angels who were superior to us (in nature), or even he whom they call the Creator of the world, did not know the Almighty, when even dumb animals tremble and yield at the invocation of his name? And as, although they have not seen him, yet all things are subject to the name of our Lord, so must they also be to his who made and established all things by his word, since it was no other than he who formed the world. And for this reason do the Jews even now put demons to flight by means of this very adjuration, inasmuch as all beings fear the invocation of him who created them.
3. If, then, they shrink from affirming that the angels are more irrational than the dumb animals, they will find that it was fitting for these, although they had not seen him who is God over all, to know his power and sovereignty. For it will appear truly ridiculous, if they maintain that they themselves indeed, who dwell on the earth, know him who is God over all whom they have never seen, but will not allow him who, according to their opinion, formed them and the whole world, although he dwells in the heights and above the heavens, to know those things with which they themselves, though they dwell below, are acquainted. (This is the case), unless perhaps they maintain that Bythus lives in Tartarus below the earth, and that on this account they have attained to a knowledge of him before those angels who have their abode on high. So do they rush into such an abyss of madness as to pronounce the Creator of the world void of understanding. They are truly deserving of pity, since with such utter folly they affirm that he (the Creator of the world) neither knew his Mother, nor her seed, nor the Pleroma of the aeons, nor the Propator, nor what the things were which he made; but that these are images of those things which are within the Pleroma, the Saviour having secretly laboured that they should be so formed ('by the unconscious Demiurge), in honour of those things which are above.
Created things are not "images of the aeons within the Pleroma"
1. While the Demiurge was so ignorant of all things, they tell us that the Saviour conferred honour on the Pleroma by the creation (which he summoned into existence) by means of his Mother, inasmuch as he produced similitudes and images of those things which are above. But I have already shown that it was impossible that anything should exist beyond the Pleroma (in which external region they tell us that images were made of those things which are within the Pleroma), or that this world was formed by any other one than the Supreme God. But if it is a pleasant thing to overthrow them on every side, and to prove them vendors of falsehood; let us say, in opposition to them, that if these things were made by the Saviour to the honour of those which are above, after their likeness, then it was fitting for them always to endure, that those things which have been honoured should perpetually continue in honour. But if they do in fact pass away, what is the use of this very brief period of honour, – an honour which at one time had no existence, and which shall again come to nothing? In that case I shall prove that the Saviour is rather an aspirant after vainglory, than one who honours those things which are above, For what honour can those things which are temporal confer on such as are eternal and endure for ever? or those which pass away on such as remain? or those which are corruptible on such as are incorruptible? – since, even among men who are themselves mortal, there is no value attached to that honour which speedily passes away, but to that which endures as long as it possibly can. But those things which, as soon as they are made, come to an end, may justly be said rather to have been formed for the contempt of such as are thought to be honoured by them; and that that which is eternal is contumeliously treated when its image is corrupted and dissolved. But what if their Mother had not wept, and laughed, and been involved in despair? The Saviour would not then have possessed any means of honouring the Fullness, inasmuch as her last state of confusion did not have substance of its own by which it might honour the Propator.
2. Alas for the honour of vainglory which at once passes away, and no longer appears! There will be some Aeon, in whose case such honour will not be thought at all to have had an existence, and then the things which are above will be unhonoured; or it will be necessary to produce once more another Mother weeping, and in despair, in order to the honour of the Pleroma. What a dissimilar, and at the same time blasphemous image! Do you tell me that an image of the Only-begotten was produced by him that formed the world, whom again you wish to consider the mind of the Father of all, and (yet maintain) that this image was ignorant of itself, ignorant of creation, – ignorant, too, of the Mother, – ignorant of everything that exists, and of those things which were made by it; and are you not ashamed while, in opposition to yourselves, you ascribe ignorance even to the Only-begotten himself? For if these things (below) were made by the Saviour after the similitude of those which are above, while he (the Demiurge) who was made after such similitude was in so great ignorance, it necessarily follows that around him, and in accordance with him, after whose likeness be that is so ignorant was formed, ignorance of the kind in question spiritually exists. For it is not possible, since both were produced spiritually, and neither fashioned nor composed, that in some the likeness was preserved, while in others the likeness of the image was spoiled, that image which was here produced that it might be according to the image of that production which is above. But if it is not similar, the charge will then attach to the Saviour, who produced a dissimilar image, – of being, so to speak, an incompetent workman. For it is out of their power to affirm that the Saviour had not the faculty of production, since they style him All Things. If, then, the image is dissimilar, he is a poor workman, and the blame lies, according to their hypothesis, with the Saviour. If, on the other hand, it is similar, then the same ignorance will be found to exist in the Nous (mind) of their Propator, that is, in the Only-begotten. The Nous of the Father, in that case, was ignorant of himself; ignorant, too, of the Father; ignorant, moreover, of those very things which were formed by him. But if he has knowledge, it necessarily follows also that he who was formed after his likeness by the Saviour should know the things which are like; and so, according to their own principles, their monstrous blasphemy is overthrown.
3. Apart from this, however, how can those things which belong to creation, various, manifold, and innumerable as they are, be the images of those thirty aeons which are within the Pleroma, whose names, as these men fix them, I have set forth in the book which precedes this? And not only will they be unable to adapt the (vast) variety of creation at large to the (comparative) smallness of their Pleroma, but they cannot do this even with respect to anyone part of it, whether (that possessed by) celestial or terrestrial beings, or those that live in the waters. For they themselves testify that their Pleroma consists of thirty aeons; but anyone will undertake to show that, in a single department of those (created beings) which have been mentioned, they reckon that there are not thirty, but many thousands of species. How then can those things, which constitute such a multiform creation, which are opposed in nature to each other, and disagree among themselves, and destroy the one the other, be the images and likenesses of the thirty aeons of the Pleroma, if indeed, as they declare, these being possessed of one nature, are of equal and similar properties, and exhibit no differences (among themselves)? For it was incumbent, if these things are images of those aeons, – inasmuch as they declare that some men are wicked by nature, and some, on the other hand, naturally good, – to point out such differences also among their aeons, and to maintain that some of them were produced naturally good, while some were naturally evil, so that the supposition of the likeness of those things might harmonize with the aeons. Moreover, since there are in the world some creatures that are gentle, and others that are fierce, some that are innocuous, while others are hurtful and destroy the rest; some have their abode on the earth, others in the water, others in the air, and others in the heaven; in the same way, they are bound to show that the aeons possess such properties, if indeed the one are the images of the others. And besides; "the eternal fire which the Father has prepared for the devil and his angels," – they ought to show of which of those aeons that are above it is the image; for it, too, is reckoned part of the creation.
4. If, however, they say that these things are the images of the Enthymesis of that Aeon who fell into passion, then, first of all, they will act impiously against their Mother, by declaring her to be the first cause of evil and corruptible images. And then, again, how can those things which are manifold, and dissimilar, and contrary in their nature, be the images of one and the same Being? And if they say that the angels of the Pleroma are numerous, and that those things which are many are the images of these – not in this way either will the account they give be satisfactory. For, in the first place, they are then bound to point out differences among the angels of the Pleroma, which are mutually opposed to each other, even as the images existing below are of a contrary nature among themselves. And then, again, since there are many, yes, innumerable angels who surround the Creator, as all the prophets acknowledge, – (saying, for instance), "Ten thousand times ten thousand stood beside him, and many thousands of thousands ministered to him," – then, according to them, the angels of the Pleroma will have as images the angels of the Creator, and the entire creation remains in the image of the Pleroma, but so that the thirty aeons no longer correspond to the manifold variety of the creation.
5. Still further, if these things (below) were made after the similitude of those (above), after the likeness of which again will those then be made? For if the Creator of the world did not form these things directly from his own conception, but, like an architect of no ability, or a boy receiving his first lesson, copied them from archetypes furnished by others, then from where did their Bythus obtain the forms of that creation which he at first produced? It clearly follows that he must have received the model from some other one who is above him, and that one, in turn, from another. And none the less (for these suppositions), the talk about images, as about gods, will extend to infinity, if we do not at once fix our mind on one Artificer, and on one God, who of himself formed those things which have been created. Or is it really the case that, in regard to mere men, one will allow that they have of themselves invented what is useful for the purposes of life, but will not grant to that God who formed the world, that of himself he created the forms of those things which have been made, and imparted to it its orderly arrangement?
6. But, again, how can these things (below) be images of those (above), since they are really contrary to them, and can in no respect have sympathy with them? For those things which are contrary to each other may indeed be destructive of those to which they are contrary, but can by no means be their images – as, for instance, water and fire; or, again, light and darkness, and other such things, can never be the images of one another. In the same way, neither can those things which are corruptible and earthly, and of a compound nature, and transitory, be the images of those which, according to these men, are spiritual; unless these very things themselves be allowed to be compound, limited in space, and of a definite shape, and so no longer spiritual, and diffused, and spreading into vast extent, and incomprehensible. For they must of necessity be possessed of a definite figure, and confined within certain limits, that they may be true images; and then it is decided that they are not spiritual. If, however, these men maintain that they are spiritual, and diffused, and incomprehensible, how can those things which are possessed of figure, and confined within certain limits, be the images of such as are destitute of figure and incomprehensible?
7. If, again, they affirm that neither according to configuration nor formation, but according to number and the order of production, those things (above) are the images (of these below), then, in the first place, these things (below) ought not to be spoken of as images and likenesses of those aeons that are above. For how can the things which have neither the fashion nor shape of those (above) be their images? And, in the next place, they would adapt both the numbers and productions of the aeons above, so as to render them identical with and similar to those that belong to the creation (below). But now, since they refer to only thirty Aeons, and declare that the vast multitude of things which are embraced within the creation (below) are images of those that are but thirty, we may justly condemn them as utterly destitute of sense.
Created things are not "a shadow of things above"
1. If, again, they declare that these things (below) are a shadow of those (above), as some of them are bold enough to maintain, so that in this respect they are images, then it will be necessary for them to allow that those things which are above are possessed of bodies. For those bodies which are above do cast a shadow, but spiritual substances do not, since they can in no degree darken others. If, however, we also grant them this point (though it is, in fact, an impossibility), that there is a shadow belonging to those essences which are spiritual and lucent, into which they declare their Mother descended; yet, since those things (which are above) are eternal, and that shadow which is cast by them endures for ever, (it follows that) these things (below) are also not transitory, but endure along with those which cast their shadow over them. If, on the other hand, these things (below) are transitory, it is a necessary consequence that those (above) also, of which these are the shadow, pass away; while; if they endure, their shadow likewise endures.
2. If, however, they maintain that the shadow spoken of does not exist as being produced by the shade of (those above), but simply in this respect, that (the things below) are far separated from those (above), they will then charge the light of their Father with weakness and insufficiency, as if it cannot extend so far as these things, but fails to fill that which is empty, and to dispel the shadow, and that when no one is offering any hindrance. For, according to them, the light of their Father will be changed into darkness and buried in obscurity, and will come to an end in those places which are characterized by emptiness, since it cannot penetrate and fill all things. Let them then no longer declare that their Bythus is the fullness of all things, if indeed he has neither filled nor illuminated that which is vacuum and shadow; or, on the other hand, let them cease talking of vacuum and shadow, if the light of their Father does in truth fill all things.
3. Beyond the primary Father, then – that is, the God who is over all – there can neither be any Pleroma into which they declare the Enthymesis of that Aeon who suffered passion, descended (so that the Pleroma itself, or the primary God, should not be limited and circumscribed by that which is beyond, and should, in fact, be contained by it); nor can vacuum or shadow have any existence, since the Father exists beforehand, so that his light cannot fail, and find end in a vacuum. It is, moreover, irrational and impious to conceive of a place in which he who is, according to them, Propator, and Proarche, and Father of all, and of this Pleroma, ceases and has an end. Nor, again, is it allowable, for the reasons already stated, to allege that some other being formed so vast a creation in the bosom of the Father, either with or without his consent. For it is equally impious and infatuated to affirm that so great a creation was formed by angels, or by some particular production ignorant of the true God in that territory which is his own. Nor is it possible that those things which are earthly and material could have been formed within their Pleroma, since that is wholly spiritual. And further, it is not even possible that those things which belong to a multiform creation, and have been formed with mutually opposite qualities (could have been created) after the image of the things above, since these (i.e., the Aeons) are said to be few, and of a like formation, and homogeneous. Their talk, too, about the shadow of kenoma – that is, of a vacuum – has in all points turned out false. Their figment, then, (in what way soever viewed), has been proved groundless, and their doctrines untenable. Empty, too, are those who listen to them, and are truly descending into the abyss of perdition.
Only one Creator of the world: this the constant belief of the Church
1. That God is the Creator of the world is accepted even by those very persons who in many ways speak against him, and yet acknowledge him, styling him the Creator, and an angel, not to mention that all the Scriptures call out (to the same effect), and the Lord teaches us of this Father who is in heaven, and no other, as I shall show in the sequel of this work. For the present, however, that proof which is derived from those who allege doctrines opposite to ours, is of itself sufficient, – all men, in fact, consenting to this truth: the ancients on their part preserving with special care, from the tradition of the first-formed man, this persuasion, while they celebrate the praises of one God, the Maker of heaven and earth; others, again, after them, being reminded of this fact by the prophets of God, while the very heathen learned it from creation itself. For even creation reveals him who formed it, and the very work made suggests him who made it, and the world manifests him who ordered it. The Universal Church, moreover, through the whole world, has received this tradition from the apostles.
2. This God, then, being acknowledged, as I have said, and receiving testimony from all to the fact of his existence, that Father whom they conjure into existence is beyond doubt untenable, and has no witnesses (to his existence). Simon Magus was the first who said that he himself was God over all, and that the world was formed by his angels. Then those who succeeded him, as I have shown in the first book, by their several opinions, still further depraved (his teaching) through their impious and irreligious doctrines against the Creator. These (heretics now referred to), being the disciples of those mentioned, render such as assent to them worse than the heathen. For the former "serve the creature rather than the Creator," and "those which are not gods," notwithstanding that they ascribe the first place in Deity to that God who was the Maker of this universe. But the latter maintain that He, (i.e., the Creator of this world), is the fruit of a defect, and describe him as being of an animal nature, and as not knowing that Power which is above him, while he also exclaims, "I am God, and besides me there is no other God." Affirming that he lies, they are themselves liars, attributing all sorts of wickedness to him; and conceiving of one who is not above this Being as really having an existence, they are so convicted by their own views of blasphemy against that God who really exists, while they conjure into existence a God who has no existence, to their own condemnation. And so those who declare themselves "perfect," and as being possessed of the knowledge of all things, are found to be worse than the heathen, and to entertain more blasphemous opinions even against their own Creator.
God created out of nothing, and not from pre-existent matter
1. It is therefore in the highest degree irrational, that we should take no account of him who is truly God, and who receives testimony from all, while we enquire whether there is above him that (other being) who really has no existence, and has never been proclaimed by anyone. For that nothing has been clearly spoken regarding him, they themselves furnish testimony; for since they, with wretched success, transfer to that being who has been conceived of by them, those parables (of Scripture) which, whatever the form in which they have been spoken, are sought after (for this purpose), it is manifest that they now generate another (God), who was never previously sought after. For by the fact that they so endeavour to explain ambiguous passages of Scripture (ambiguous, however, not as if referring to another God, but as regards the dispensations of (the true) God), they have constructed another God, weaving, as I said before, ropes of sand, and affixing a more important to a less important question. For no question can be solved by means of another which itself awaits solution; nor, in the opinion of those possessed of sense, can an ambiguity be explained by means of another ambiguity, or enigmas by means of another greater enigma, but things of such character receive their solution from those which are manifest, and consistent and clear.
2. But these (heretics), while striving to explain passages of Scripture and parables, bring forward another more important, and indeed impious question, to this effect, "Whether there be really another God above that God who was the Creator of the world?" They are not in the way of solving the questions (which they propose); for how could they find means of doing so? But they append an important question to one of less consequence, and so insert (in their speculations) a difficulty incapable of solution. For in order that they may know "knowledge" itself (yet not learning this fact, that the Lord, when thirty years old, came to the baptism of truth), they do impiously despise that God who was the Creator, and who sent him for the salvation of men. And that they may be deemed capable of informing us from where is the substance of matter, while they believe not that God, according to his pleasure, in the exercise of his own will and power, formed all things (so that those things which now are should have an existence) out of what did not previously exist, they have collected (a multitude of) vain discourses. They so truly reveal their infidelity; they do not believe in that which really exists, and they have fallen away into (the belief of) that which has, in fact, no existence.
3. For, when they tell us that all moist substance proceeded from the tears of Achamoth, all lucid substance from her smile, all solid substance from her sadness, all mobile substance from her terror, and that so they have sublime knowledge on account of which they are superior to others, – how can these things fail to be regarded as worthy of contempt, and truly ridiculous? They do not believe that God (being powerful, and rich in all resources) created matter itself, inasmuch as they do not know how much a spiritual and divine essence can accomplish. But they do believe that their Mother, whom they style a female from a female, produced from her passions aforesaid the so vast material substance of creation. They enquire, too, from where the substance of creation was supplied to the Creator; but they do not enquire from where (were supplied) to their Mother (whom they call the Enthymesis and impulse of the Aeon that went astray) so great an amount of tears, or perspiration, or sadness, or that which produced the remainder of matter.
4. For, to attribute the substance of created things to the power and will of him who is God of all, is worthy both of credit and acceptance. It is also agreeable (to reason), and there may be well said regarding such a belief, that "the things which are impossible with men are possible with God." While men, indeed, cannot make anything out of nothing, but only out of matter already existing, yet God is in this point prominently superior to men, that he himself called into being the substance of his creation, when previously it had no existence. But the assertion that matter was produced from the Enthymesis of an Aeon going astray, and that the Aeon (referred to) was far separated from her Enthymesis, and that, again, her passion and feeling, apart from herself, became matter – is incredible, infatuated, impossible, and untenable.
The heretical abyss of error: reasons for investigating their systems
1. They do not believe that He, who is God above all, formed by his Word, in his own territory, as he himself pleased, the various and diversified (works of creation which exist), inasmuch as he is the former of all things, like a wise architect, and a most powerful monarch. But they believe that angels, or some power separate from God, and who was ignorant of him, formed this universe. By this course, therefore, not yielding credit to the truth, but wallowing in falsehood, they have lost the bread of true life, and have fallen into vacuity and an abyss of shadow. They are like the dog of Aesop, which dropped the bread, and made an attempt at seizing its Shadow, so losing the (real) food. It is easy to prove from the very words of the Lord, that he acknowledges one Father and Creator of the world, and Fashioner of man, who was proclaimed by the Law and the prophets, while he knows no other, and that this One is really God over all; and that he teaches that that adoption of sons pertaining to the Father, which is eternal life, takes place through himself, conferring it (as he does) on all the righteous.
2. But since these men delight in attacking us, and in their true character of cavilers assail us with points which really tell not at all against us, bringing forward in opposition to us a multitude of parables and (captious) questions, I have thought it well, on the other side, first of all to put to them the following enquiries concerning their own doctrines, to exhibit their improbability, and to put an end to their audacity. After this has been done, (I intend) to bring forward the discourses of the Lord, so that they may not only be rendered destitute of the means of attacking us, but that, since they will be unable reasonably to reply to those questions which are put, they may see that their plan of argument is destroyed; so that, either returning to the truth, and humbling themselves, and ceasing from their multifarious fantasies, they may propitiate God for those. Blasphemies they have uttered against him, and obtain salvation; or that, if they still persevere in that system of vainglory which has taken possession of their minds, they may at least find it necessary to change their kind of argument against us.
Excess and defect, in their triad of Sophia, Logos and Sige
1. We may remark, in the first place, regarding their Triacontad, that the whole of it marvellously falls to ruin on both sides, that is, both as respects defect and excess. They say that to indicate it the Lord came to be baptised at the age of thirty years. But this assertion really amounts to a manifest subversion of their entire argument. As to defect, this happens as follows: first of all, because they reckon the Propator among the other Aeons. For the Father of all ought not to be counted with other productions; he who was not produced with that which was produced; he who was unbegotten with that which was born; he whom no one comprehends with that which is comprehended by him, and who is on this account (Himself) incomprehensible; and he who is without figure with that which has a definite shape. For inasmuch as he is superior to the rest, he ought not to be numbered with them, and that so that he who is impassible and not in error should be reckoned with an Aeon subject to passion, and actually in error. For I have shown in the book which immediately precedes this, that, beginning with Bythus, they reckon up the Tricontad to Sophia, whom they describe as the erring Aeon; and I have also there set forth the names of their (Aeons); but if he be not reckoned, there are no longer, on their own showing, thirty productions of Aeons, but these then become only twenty-nine.
2. Next, with respect to the first production Ennoea, whom they also term Sige, from whom again they describe Nous and Aletheia as having been sent forth, they err in both particulars. For it is impossible that the thought (Ennoea) of anyone, or his silence (Sige), should be understood apart from himself; and that, being sent forth beyond him, it should possess a special figure of its own. But if they assert that the (Ennoea) was not sent forth beyond him, but continued one with the Propator, why then do they reckon her with the other Aeons – with those who were not one (with the Father), and are on this account ignorant of his greatness? If, however, she was so united (let us take this also into consideration), there is then an absolute necessity, that from this united and inseparable conjunction, which constitutes but one being, there should proceed an unseparated and united production, so that it should not be dissimilar to him who sent it forth. But if this be so, then just as Bythus and Sige, so also Nous and Aletheia will form one and the same being, ever cleaving mutually together. And inasmuch as the one cannot be conceived of without the other, just as water cannot (be conceived of) without (the thought of) moisture, or fire without (the thought of) heat, or a stone without (the thought) of hardness (for these things are mutually bound together, and the one cannot be separated from the other, but always co-exists with it), so it behooves Bythus to be united in the same way with Ennoea, and Nous with Aletheia. Logos and Zoe again, as being sent forth by those that are so united, ought themselves to be united, and to constitute only one being. But, according to such a process of reasoning, Homo and Ecclesia too, and indeed all the remaining conjunctions of the Aeons produced, ought to be united, and always to coexist, the one with the other. For there is a necessity in their opinion, that a female Aeon should exist side by side with a male one, inasmuch as she is, so to speak, (the showing forth of) his affection.
3. These things being so, and such opinions being proclaimed by them, they again venture, without a blush, to teach that the younger Aeon of the Duodecad, whom they also style Sophia, did, apart from union with her consort, whom they call Theletus, endure passion, and separately, without any assistance from him, gave birth to a production which they name "a female from a female." They so rush into such utter frenzy, as to form two most clearly opposite opinions respecting the same point. For if Bythus is ever one with Sige, Nous with Aletheia, Logos with Zoe, and so on, as respects the rest, how could Sophia, without union with her consort, either suffer or generate anything? And if, again, she did really. Suffer passion apart from him, it necessarily follows that the other conjunctions also admit of disjunction and separation among themselves, – a thing which I have already shown to be impossible. It is also impossible, therefore, that Sophia suffered passion apart from Theletus; and so, again, their whole system of argument is overthrown. For they have yet again derived the whole of remaining (material substance), like the composition of a tragedy, from that passion which they affirm she experienced apart from union with her consort.
4. If, however, they impudently maintain, in order to preserve from ruin their vain imaginations, that the rest of the conjunctions also were disjoined and separated from one another on account of this latest conjunction, then (I reply that), in the first place, they rest on a thing which is impossible. For how can they separate the Propator from his Ennoea, or Nous from Aletheia, or Logos from Zoe, and so on with the rest? And how can they themselves maintain that they tend again to unity, and are, in fact, all at one, if indeed these very conjunctions, which are within the Pleroma, do not preserve unity, but are separate from one another; and that to such a degree, that they both endure passion and perform the work of generation without union one with another, just as hens do apart from intercourse with cocks.
5. Then, again, their first and first-begotten Ogdoad will be overthrown as follows: They must admit that Bythus and Sige, Nous and Aletheia, Logos and Zoe, Anthropos and Ecclesia, do individually dwell in the same Pleroma. But it is impossible that Sige (silence) can exist in the presence of Logos (speech), or again, that Logos can manifest himself in the presence of Sige. For these are mutually destructive of each other, even as light and darkness can by no possibility exist in the same place: for if light prevails, there cannot be darkness; and if darkness, there cannot be light, since, where light appears, darkness is put to flight. In the same way, where Sige is, there cannot be Logos; and where Logos is, there certainly cannot be Sige. But if they say that Logos simply exists within (unexpressed), Sige also will exist within, and will not the less be destroyed by the Logos within. But that he really is not merely conceived of in the mind, the very order of the production of their (Aeons) shows.
6. Let them not then declare that the first and principal Ogdoad consists of Logos and Sige, but let them (as a matter of necessity) exclude either Sige or Logos; and then their first and principal Ogdoad is at an end. For if they describe the conjunctions (of the Aeons) as united, then their whole argument fails to pieces. Since, if they were united, how could Sophia have generated a defect without union with her consort? If, on the other hand, they maintain that, as in production, each of the Aeons possesses his own peculiar substance, then how can Sige and Logos manifest themselves in the same place? So far, then, with respect to defect.
7. But again, their Triacontad is overthrown as to excess by the following considerations. They represent Horos (whom they call by a variety of names which I have mentioned in the preceding book) as having been produced by Monogenes just like the other Aeons. Some of them maintain that this Horos was produced by Monogenes, while others affirm that he was sent forth by the Propator himself in his own image. They affirm further, that a production was formed by Monogenes – Christ and the Holy Spirit; and they do not reckon these in the number of the Pleroma, nor the Saviour either, whom they also declare to be Totum (all things). Now, it is evident even to a blind man, that not merely thirty productions, as they maintain, were sent forth, but four more along with these thirty. For they reckon the Propator himself in the Pleroma, and those too, who in succession were produced by one another. Why is it, then, that those (other beings) are not reckoned as existing with these in the same Pleroma, since they were produced in the same manner? For what just reason can they assign for not reckoning along with the other Aeons, either Christ, whom they describe as having, according to the Father's will, been produced by Monogenes, or the Holy Spirit, or Horos, whom they also call Soter (Saviour), and not even the Saviour himself, who came to impart assistance and form to their Mother? Whether is this as if these latter were weaker than the former, and therefore unworthy of the name of Aeons, or of being numbered among them, or as if they were superior and more excellent? But how could they be weaker, since they were produced for the establishment and rectification of the others? And then, again, they cannot possibly be superior to the first and principal Tetrad, by which they were also produced; for it, too, is reckoned in the number above mentioned. These latter beings, then, ought also to have been numbered in the Pleroma of the or that should be deprived of the honour of those Aeons which bear this appellation (the Tetrad).
8. Since, therefore, their Triacontad is so brought down, as I have shown, both with respect to defect and excess (for in dealing with such a number, either excess or defect (to any extent) will render the number untenable, and how much more so great variations?), it follows that what they maintain respecting their Ogdoad and Duodecad is a mere fable which cannot stand. Their whole system, moreover, falls to the ground, when their very foundation is destroyed and dissolved into Bythus, that is, into what has no existence. Let them, then, from now on seek to set forth some other reasons why the Lord came to be baptised at the age of thirty years, and (explain in some other way) the Duodecad of the apostles; and (the fact stated regarding) her who suffered from an issue of blood; and all the other points respecting which they so madly labour in vain.
Their multiplication of Agents is altogether indefensible
1. I now proceed to show, as follows, that the first order of production, as conceived of by them, must be rejected. For they maintain that Nous and Aletheia were produced from Bythus and his Ennoea, which is proved to be a contradiction. For Nous is that which is itself chief, and highest, and, so to speak, the principle and source of all understanding. Ennoea, again, which arises from him, is any sort of emotion concerning any subject. It cannot be, therefore, that Nous was produced by Bythus and Ennoea; it would be more like the truth for them to maintain that Ennoea was produced as the daughter of the Propator and this Nous. For Ennoea not the daughter of Nous, as they assert, but Nous becomes the father of Ennoea. For how can Nous have been produced by the Propator, when he holds the chief and primary place of that hidden and invisible affection which is within him? By this affection sense is produced, and Ennoea, and Enthymesis, and other things which are simply synonyms for Nous himself. As I have said already, they are merely certain definite exercises in thought of that very power concerning some particular subject. We understand the (several) terms according to their length and breadth of meaning, not according to any (fundamental) change (of signification); and the (various exercises of thought) are limited by (the same sphere of) knowledge, and are expressed together by (the same) term, the (very same) sense remaining within, and creating, and administering, and freely governing even by its own power, and as it pleases, the things which have been previously mentioned.
2. For the first exercise of that (power) respecting anything, is named Ennoea; but when it continues, and gathers strength, and takes possession of the whole soul, it is called Enthymesis. This Enthymesis, again, when it exercises itself a long time on the same point, and has, so to speak, been proved, is named Sensation. And this Sensation, when it is much developed, becomes
Counsel. The increase, again, and greatly developed exercise of this Counsel becomes the Examination of thought (Judgment); and this remaining in the mind is most properly termed Logos (reason), from which the spoken Logos (word) proceeds. But all the (exercises of thought) which have been mentioned are (fundamentally) one and the same, receiving their origin from Nous, and obtaining (different) appellation according to their increase. Just as the human body, which is at one time young, then in the prime of life, and then old, has received (different) appellations according to its increase and continuance, but not according to any change of substance, or on account of any (real) loss of body, so is it with those (mental exercises). For, when one (mentally) contemplates anything, he also thinks of it; and when he thinks of it, he has also knowledge regarding it; and when he knows it, he also considers it; and when he considers it, he also mentally handles it; and when he mentally handles it, he also speaks of it. But, as I have already said, it is Nous who governs all these (mental processes), while he is himself invisible, and utters speech of himself by means of those processes which have been mentioned, so to speak by rays (proceeding from him), but he himself is not sent forth by any other.
3. These things may properly be said to hold good in men, since they are compound by nature, and consist of a body and a soul. But those who affirm that Ennoea was sent forth from God, and Nous from Ennoea, and then, in succession, Logos from these, are, in the first place, to be blamed as having improperly used these productions; and, in the next place, as describing the affections, and passions, and mental tendencies of men, while they (so prove themselves) ignorant of God. By their way of speaking, they ascribe those things which apply to men to the Father of all, whom they also declare to be unknown to all; and they deny that he himself made the world, to guard against attributing want of power to him; while, at the same time, they endow him with human affections and passions. But if they had known the Scriptures, and been taught by the truth, they would have known, beyond doubt, that God is not as men are; and that his thoughts are not like the thoughts of men. For the Father of all is at a vast distance from those affections and passions which operate among men. He is a simple, uncompounded Being, without various members, and altogether like, and equal to himself, since he is wholly understanding, and wholly spirit, and wholly thought, and wholly intelligence, and wholly reason, and wholly hearing, and wholly seeing, and wholly light, and the whole source of all that is good – even as the religious and pious are accustomed to speak concerning God.
4. He is, however, above (all) these properties, and therefore indescribable. For he may well and properly be called an Understanding which comprehends all things, but he is not (on that account) like the understanding of men; and he may most properly be termed Light, but he is nothing like that light with which we are acquainted. And so, in all other particulars, the Father of all is in no degree similar to human weakness. He is spoken of in these terms according to the love (we bear him); but in point of greatness, our thoughts regarding him transcend these expressions. If then, even in the case of human beings, understanding itself does not arise from emission, nor is that intelligence which produces other things separated from the living man, while its motions and affections come into manifestation, much more will the mind of God, who is all understanding, never by any means be separated from himself; nor can anything (in his case) be produced as if by a different Being.
5. For if he produced intelligence, then he who did so produce intelligence must be understood, in accordance with their views, as a compound and corporeal Being; so that God, who sent forth (the intelligence referred to), is separate from it, and the intelligence which was sent forth separate (from him). But if they affirm that intelligence was sent forth from intelligence, they then cut asunder the intelligence of God, and divide it into parts. And where has it gone? From where was it sent forth? For whatever is sent forth from any place, passes of necessity into some other. But what existence was there more ancient than the intelligence of God, into which they maintain it was sent forth? And what a vast region that must have been which was capable of receiving and containing the intelligence of God! If, however, they affirm (that this emission took place) just as a ray proceeds from the sun, then, as the subjacent air which receives the ray must have had an existence prior to it, so (by such reasoning) they will indicate that there was something in existence, into which the intelligence of God was sent forth, capable of containing it, and more ancient than itself. Following on this, we must hold that, as we see the sun, which is less than all things, sending forth rays from himself to a great distance, so likewise we say that the Propator sent forth a ray beyond, and to a great distance from, himself. But what can be conceived of beyond, or at a distance from, God, into which he sent forth this ray?
6. If, again, they affirm that that (intelligence) was not sent forth beyond the Father, but within the Father himself, then, in the first place, it becomes superfluous to say that it was sent forth at all. For how could it have been sent forth if it continued within the Father? For an emission is the manifestation of that which is emitted, beyond him who emits it. In the next place, this (intelligence) being sent forth, both that Logos who springs from him will still be within the Father, as will also be the future emissions proceeding from Logos. These, then, cannot in such a case be ignorant of the Father, since they are within him; nor, being all equally surrounded by the Father, can anyone know him less (than another) according to the descending order of their emission. And all of them must also in an equal measure continue impassible, since they exist in the bosom of their Father, and none of them can ever sink into a state of degeneracy or degradation. For with the Father there is no degeneracy, unless perhaps as in a great circle a smaller is contained, and within this one again a smaller; or unless they affirm of the Father, that, after the way of a sphere or a square, he contains within himself on all sides the likeness of a sphere, or the production of the rest of the Aeons in the form of a square, each one of these being surrounded by that one who is above him in greatness, and surrounding in turn that one who is after him in smallness; and that on this account, the smallest and the last of all, having its place in the centre, and so being far separated from the Father, was really ignorant of the Propator. But if they maintain any such hypothesis, they must shut up their Bythus with. In a definite form and space, while he both surrounds others, and is surrounded by them; for they must of necessity acknowledge that there is something outside of him which surrounds him. And none the less will the talk concerning those that contain, and those that are contained, flow on into infinitude; and all (the Aeons) will most clearly appear to be bodies enclosed (by one another). 7. Further, they must also confess either that he is mere vacuity, or that the entire universe is within him; and in that case all will in like degree partake of the Father. Just as, if one forms circles in water, or round or square figures, all these will equally partake of water; just as those, again, which are framed in the air, must necessarily partake of air, and those which (are formed) in light, of light; so must those also who are within him all equally partake of the Father, ignorance having no place among them. Where, then, is this partaking of the Father who fills (all things)? If, indeed, he has filled (all things), there will be no ignorance among them. On this ground, then, their work of (supposed) degeneracy is brought to nothing, and the production of matter with the formation of the rest of the world; which things they maintain to have derived their substance from passion and ignorance. If, on the other hand, they acknowledge that he is vacuity, then they fall into the greatest blasphemy; they deny his spiritual nature. For how can he be a spiritual being, who cannot fill even those things which are within him?
8. Now, these remarks which have been made concerning the emission of intelligence are in the same way applicable in opposition to those who belong to the school of Basilides, as well as in opposition to the rest of the Gnostics, from whom these also (the Valentinians) have adopted the ideas about emissions, and were refuted in the first book. But I have now plainly shown that the first production of Nous, that is, of the intelligence they speak of, is an untenable and impossible opinion. And let us see how the matter stands with respect to the rest (of the Aeons). For they maintain that Logos and Zoe were sent forth by him (i.e., Nous) as fashioners of this Pleroma; while they conceive of an emission of Logos, that is, the Word after the analogy of human feelings, and rashly form conjectures respecting God, as if they had discovered something wonderful in their assertion that Logos was I produced by Nous. All indeed have a clear perception that this may be logically affirmed with respect to men. But in him who is God over all, since he is all Nous, and all Logos, as I have said before, and has in himself nothing more ancient or late than another, and nothing at variance with another, but continues altogether equal, and similar, and homogeneous, there is no longer ground for conceiving of such production in the order which has been mentioned. Just as he does not err who declares that God is all vision, and all hearing (for in what manner he sees, in that also he hears; and as he hears, in that also he sees), so also he who affirms that he is all intelligence, and all word, and that, in whatever respect he is intelligence, in that also he is word, and that this Nous is his Logos, will still indeed have only an inadequate conception of the Father of all, but will entertain far more becoming (thoughts regarding him) than do those who transfer the generation of the word to which men gave utterance to the eternal Word of God, assigning a beginning and course of production (to him), even as they do to their own word. And in what respect will the Word of God – yes, rather God himself, since he is the Word – differ from the word of men, if he follows the same order and process of generation? 9. They have fallen into error, too, respecting Zoe, by maintaining that she was produced in the sixth place, when it was fitting for her to take precedence of all (the rest), since God is life, and incorruption, and truth. And these and such like attributes have not been produced according to a gradual scale of descent, but they are names of those perfections which always exist in God, so far as it is possible and proper for men to hear and to speak of God. For with the name of God the following words will harmonize: intelligence, word, life, incorruption, truth, wisdom, goodness, and such like. And neither can anyone maintain that intelligence is more ancient than life, for intelligence itself is life; nor that life is later than intelligence, so that he who is the intellect of all, that is God, should at one time have been destitute of life. But if they affirm that life was indeed (previously) in the Father, but was produced in the sixth place in order that the Word might live, surely it ought long before, (according to such reasoning), to have been sent forth, in the fourth place, that Nous might have life; and still further, even before him, (it should have been) with Bythus, that their Bythus might live. For to reckon Sige, indeed, along with their Propator, and to assign her to him as his consort, while they do not join Zoe to the number, – is not this to surpass all other madness? 10. Again, as to the second production which proceeds from these (Aeons who have been mentioned), – that, namely, of Homo and Ecclesia, – their very fathers, falsely named Gnostics, strive among themselves, each one seeking to make good his own opinions, and so convicting themselves of being wicked thieves. They maintain that it is more suitable to (the theory of) production – as being, in fact, truth-like – that the Word was produced by man, and not man by the Word; and that man existed prior to the Word, and that this is really he who is God over all. And so it is, as I have previously remarked, that heaping together with a kind of plausibility all human feelings, and mental exercises, and formation of intentions, and utterances of words, they have lied with no plausibility at all against God. For while they ascribe the things which happen to men, and whatever they recognise themselves as experiencing, to the divine reason, they seem to those who are ignorant of God to make statements suitable enough. And by these human passions, drawing away their intelligence, while they describe the origin and production of the Word of God in the fifth place, they assert that so they teach wonderful mysteries, unspeakable and sublime, known to no one but themselves. It was, (they affirm), concerning these that the Lord said, "Seek, and you shall find," that is, that they should enquire how Nous and Aletheia proceeded from Bythus and Sage; whether Logos and Zoe again derive their origin from these and then, whether Anthropos and Ecclesia proceed from Logos and Zoe.
Valentinus' system is borrowed from the heathen; only the names are changed
1. Much more like the truth, and more pleasing, is the account which Antiphanes, one of the ancient comic poets, gives in his Theogony as to the origin of all things. For he speaks Chaos as being produced from Night and Silence; relates that then Love sprang from Chaos and Night; from this again, Light; and that from this, in his opinion, were derived all the rest of the first generation of the gods. After these he next introduces a second generation of gods, and the creation of the world; then he narrates the formation of mankind by the second order of the gods. These men (the heretics), adopting this fable as their own, have ranged their opinions round it, as if by a sort of natural process, changing only the names of the things referred to, and setting forth the very same beginning of the generation of all things, and their production. In place of Night and Silence they substitute Bythus and Sige; instead of Chaos, they put Nous; and for Love (by whom, says the comic poet, all other things were set in order) they have brought forward the Word; while for the primary and greatest gods they have formed the Aeons; and in place of the secondary gods, they tell us of that creation by their mother which is outside of the Pleroma, calling it the second Ogdoad. They proclaim to us, like the writer referred to, that from this (Ogdoad) came the creation of the world and the formation of man, maintaining that they alone are acquainted with these inexpressible and unknown mysteries. Those things which are everywhere acted in the theatres by comedians with the clearest voices they transfer to their own system, teaching them undoubtedly by means of the same arguments, and merely changing the names.
2. And not only are they convicted of bringing forward, as if their own (original ideas), those things which are to be found among the comic poets, but they also bring together the things which have been said by all those who were ignorant of God, and who are termed philosophers; and sewing together, so to speak, a motley garment out of a heap of miserable rags, they have, by their subtle way of expression, furnished themselves with a cloak which is really not their own. They do, it is true, introduce a new kind of doctrine, inasmuch as by a new sort of art it has been substituted (for the old). Yet it is in reality both old and useless, since these very opinions have been sewed together out of ancient dogmas redolent of ignorance and irreligion. For instance, Thales of Miletus affirmed that water was the generative and initial principle of all things. Now it is just the same thing whether we say water or Bythus. The poet Homer, again, held the opinion that Oceanus, along with mother Tethys, was the origin of the gods: this idea these men have transferred to Bythus and Sige. Anaximander laid it down that infinitude is the first principle of all things, having seminally in itself the generation of them all, and from this he declares the immense worlds (which exist) were formed: this, too, they have dressed up anew, and referred to Bythus and their Aeons. Anaxagoras, again, who has also been surnamed "Atheist," gave it as his opinion that animals were formed from seeds falling down from heaven on earth. This thought, too, these men have transferred to "the seed" of their Mother, which they maintain to be themselves; so acknowledging at once, in the judgment of such as are possessed of sense, that they themselves are the offspring of the irreligious Anaxagoras.
3. Again, adopting the (ideas of) shade and vacuity from Democritus and Epicurus, they have fitted these to their own views, following on those (teachers) who had already talked a great deal about a vacuum and atoms, the one of which they called that which is, and the other that which is not. In the same way, these men call those things which are within the Pleroma real existences, just as those philosophers did the atoms; while they maintain that those which are without the Pleroma have no true existence, even as those did respecting the vacuum. They have so banished themselves in this world (since they are here outside of the Pleroma) into a place which has no existence. Again, when they maintain that these things (below) are images of those which have a true existence (above), they again most manifestly rehearse the doctrine of Democritus and Plato. For Democritus was the first who maintained that numerous and various figures were stamped, so to speak, with the forms (of things above), and descended from universal space into this world. But Plato, for his part, speaks of matter, and exemplar, and God. These men, following those distinctions, have named what he calls ideas, and exemplar, the images of those things which are above; while, through a mere change of name, they boast themselves as being discoverers and contrivers of this kind of imaginary fiction.
4. This opinion, too, that they hold the Creator formed the world out of previously existing matter, both Anaxagoras, Empedocles, and Plato expressed before them; as, indeed, we learn they also do under the inspiration of their Mother. Then again, as to the opinion that everything of necessity passes away to those things out of which they maintain it was also formed, and that God is the slave of this necessity, so that he cannot impart immortality to what is mortal, or bestow incorruption on what is corruptible, but everyone passes into a substance similar in nature to itself, both those who are named Stoics from the portico (stoa), and indeed all that are ignorant of God, poets and historians alike, make the same affirmation. Those (heretics) who hold the same (system of) infidelity have ascribed, no doubt, their own proper region to spiritual beings, – that, namely, which is within the Pleroma, but to animal beings the intermediate space, while to corporeal they assign that which is material. And they assert that God himself can do no otherwise, but that everyone of the (different kinds of substance) mentioned passes away to those things which are of the same nature. (with itself).
5. Moreover, as to their saying that the Saviour was formed out of all the Aeons, by everyone of them depositing, so to speak, in him his own special flower, they bring forward nothing new that may not be found in the Pandora of Hesiod. For what he says respecting her, these men insinuate concerning the Saviour, bringing him before us as Pandoros (All-gifted), as if each of the Aeons had bestowed on him what he possessed in the greatest perfection. Again, their opinion as to the indifference of (eating of) meats and other actions, and as to their thinking that, from the nobility of their nature, they can in no degree at all contract pollution, whatever they eat or perform, they have derived it from the Cynics, since they do in fact belong to the same society as do these (philosophers). They also strive to transfer to (the treatment of matters of) faith that hairsplitting and subtle mode of handling questions which is, in fact, a copying of Aristotle.
6. Again, as to the desire they exhibit to refer this whole universe to numbers, they have learned it from the Pythagoreans. For these were the first who set forth numbers as the initial principle of all things, and (described) that initial principle of theirs as being both equal and unequal, out of which (two properties) they conceived that both things sensible and immaterial derived their origin. And (they held) that one set of first principles gave rise to the matter (of things), and another to their form. They affirm that from these first principles all things have been made, just as a statue is of its metal and its special form. Now, the heretics have adapted this to the things which are outside of the Pleroma. The (Pythagoreans) maintained that the principle of intellect is proportionate to the energy with which mind, as a recipient of the comprehensible, pursues its enquiries, until, worn out, it is resolved at length in the Indivisible and One. They further affirm that Hen – that is, One – is the first principle of all things, and the substance of all that has been formed. From this again proceeded the Dyad, the Tetrad, the Pentad, and the manifold generation of the others. These things the heretics repeat, word for word, with a reference to their Pleroma and Bythus. From the same source, too, they strive to bring into vogue those conjunctions which proceed from unity. Marcus boasts of such views as if they were his own, and as if he were seen to have discovered something more novel than others, while he simply sets forth the Tetrad of Pythagoras as the originating principle and mother of all things.
7. But I will merely say, in opposition to these men – Did all those who have been mentioned, with whom you have been proved to coincide in expression, know, or not know, the truth? If they knew it, then the descent of the Saviour into this world was superfluous. For why (in that case) did he descend? Was it that he might bring that truth which was (already) known to the knowledge of those who knew it? If, on the other hand, these men did not know it, then how is it that, while you express yourselves in the same terms as do those who knew not the truth, you boast that yourselves alone possess that knowledge which is above all things, although they who are ignorant of God (likewise) possess it? So, then, by a complete perversion of language, they style ignorance of the truth knowledge: and Paul well says (of them, that (they make use of) "novelties of words of false knowledge." For that knowledge of theirs is truly found to be false. If, however, taking an impudent course with respect to these points, they declare that men indeed did not know the truth, but that their Mother, the seed of the Father, proclaimed the mysteries of truth through such men, even as also through the prophets, while the Demiurge was ignorant (of the proceeding), then I answer, in the first place, that the things which were predicted were not of such a nature as to be intelligible to no one; for the men themselves knew what they were saying, as did also their disciples, and those again succeeded these. And, in the next place, if either the Mother or her seed knew and proclaimed those things which were of the truth (and the Father is truth), then on their theory the Saviour spoke falsely when he said, "No one knows the Father but the Son," unless indeed they maintain that their seed or Mother is No-one.
8. So far, then, by means of (ascribing to their Aeons) human feelings, and by the fact that they largely coincide in their language with many of those who are ignorant of God, they have been seen plausibly drawing a certain number away (from the truth). They lead them on by the use of those (expressions) with which they have been familiar, to that sort of discourse which treats of all things, setting forth the production of the Word of God, and of Zoe, and of Nous, and bringing into the world, so to speak, the (successive) emanations of the Deity. The views, again, which they propound, without either plausibility or parade, are simply lies from beginning to end. Just as those who, in order to lure and capture any kind of animals, place their accustomed food before them, gradually drawing them on by means of the familiar aliment, until at length they seize it, but, when they have taken them captive, they subject them to the bitterest of bendage, and drag them along with violence wheresoever they please; so also do these men gradually and gently persuading (others), by means of their plausible speeches, to accept of the emission which has been mentioned, then bring forward things which are not consistent, and forms of the remaining emissions which are not such as might have been expected. They declare, for instance, that (ten) Aeons were sent forth by Logos and Zoe, while from Anthropos and Ecclesia there proceeded twelve, although they have neither proof, nor testimony, nor probability, nor anything whatever of such a nature (to support these assertions); and with equal folly and audacity do they wish it to be believed that from Logos and Zoe, being Aeons, were sent forth Bythus and Mixis, Ageratos and Henosis, Autophyes and Hedone, Acinetos and Syncrasis, Monogenes and Macaria. Moreover, (as they affirm), there were sent forth, in a similar way, from Anthropos and Ecclesia, being Aeons, Paracletas and Pistis, Patricos and Elpis, Metricos and Agape, Ainos and Synesis, Ecclesiasticus and Macariotes, Theletos and Sophia.
9. The passions and error of this Sophia, and how she ran the risk of perishing through her investigation (of the nature) of the Father, as they relate, and what took place outside of the Pleroma, and from what sort of a defect they teach that the Maker of the world was produced, I have set forth in the preceding book, describing in it, with all diligence, the opinions of these heretics. (I have also detailed their views) respecting Christ, whom they describe as having been produced subsequently to all these, and also regarding Soter, who, (according to them), derived his being from those Aeons who were formed within the Pleroma. But I have of necessity mentioned their names at present, that from these the absurdity of their falsehood may be made manifest, and also the confused nature of the nomenclature they have devised. For they themselves detract from (the dignity of) their Aeons by a multitude of names of this sort. They give out names plausible and credible to the heathen, (as being similar) to those who are called their twelve gods, and even these they will have to be images of their twelve Aeons. But the images (so called) can produce names (of their own) much more proper, and more powerful through their etymology to indicate divinity (than are those of their fancied prototypes).
No account can be given of these productions.
1. But let us return to the fore-mentioned question as to the production (of the Aeons). And, in the first place, let them tell us the reason of the production of the Aeons being of such a kind that they do not come in contact with any of those things which belong to creation. For they maintain that those things (above) were not made on account of creation, but creation on account of them; and that the former are not images of the latter, but the latter of the former. As, therefore, they render a reason for the images, by saying that the month has thirty days on account of the thirty Aeons, and the day twelve hours, and the year twelve months, on account of the twelve Aeons which are within the Pleroma, with other such nonsense of the same kind, let them now tell us also the reason for that production of the Aeons, why it was of such a nature, for what reason the first and first-begotten Ogdoad was sent forth, and not a Pentad, or a Triad, or a Septenad, or anyone of those which are defined by a different number? Moreover, how did it come to pass, that from Logos and Zoe were sent forth ten Aeons, and neither more nor less; while again from Anthropos and Ecclesia proceeded twelve, although these might have been either more or less numerous?
2. And then, again, with reference to the entire Pleroma, what reason is there that it should be divided into these three – an Ogdoad, a Decade, and a Duodecad – and not into some other number different from these? Moreover, with respect to the division itself, why has it been made into three parts, and not into four, or five, or six, or into some other number among those which have no connection with such numbers as belong to creation? For they describe those (Aeons above) as being more ancient than these (created things below), and they ought to possess their principle (of being) in themselves, one which existed before creation, and not after the pattern of creation, all exactly agreeing as to the point.
3. The account which we give of creation is one harmonious with that regular order (of things prevailing in the world), for this scheme of ours is adapted to the things which have (actually) been made; but it is a matter of necessity that they, being unable to assign any reason belonging to the things themselves, with regard to those beings that existed before (creation), and were perfected by themselves, should fall into the greatest perplexity. For, as to the points on which they interrogate us as knowing nothing of creation, they themselves, when questioned in turn respecting the Pleroma, either make mention of mere human feelings, or have recourse to that sort of speech which bears only on that harmony observable in creation, improperly giving us replies concerning things which are secondary, and not concerning those which, as they maintain, are primary. For we do not question them concerning that harmony which belongs to creation, nor concerning human feelings; but because they must acknowledge, as to their octiform, deciform, and duodeciform Pleroma (the image of which they declare creation to be), that their Father formed it of that figure vainly and thoughtlessly, and must ascribe to him deformity, if he made anything without a reason. Or, again, if they declare that the Pleroma was so produced in accordance with the foresight of the Father, for the sake of creation, as if he had so symmetrically arranged its very essence, then it follows that the Pleroma can no longer be regarded as having been formed on its own account, but for the sake of that (creation) which was to be its image as possessing its likeness (just as the clay model is not moulded for its own sake, but for the sake of the statue in brass, or gold, or silver about to be formed), then creation will have greater honour than the Pleroma, if, for its sake, those things (above) were produced.
Either the Creator produced by himself, or there is infinite regress to find a first cause
1. But if they will not yield assent to anyone of these conclusions, since in that case they would be proved by us as incapable of rendering any reason for such a production of their Pleroma, they will necessarily be shut up to this – that they confess that, above the Pleroma, there was some other system more spiritual and more powerful, after the image of which their Pleroma was formed. For if the Demiurge did not of himself construct that figure of creation which exists, but made it after the form of those things which are above, then from whom did their Bythus – who, to be sure, brought it about that the Pleroma should be possessed of a configuration of this kind – receive the figure of those things which existed before himself? For it must be, either that the intention (of creating) dwelt in that God who made the world, so that of his own power, and from himself, he obtained the model of its formation; or, if any departure is made from this being, then there will arise a necessity for constantly asking from where there came to that one who is above him the configuration of those things which have been made; what, too, was the number of the productions; and what the substance of the model itself? If, however, it was in the power of Bythus to impart of himself such a configuration to the Pleroma, then why may it not have been in the power of the Demiurge to form of himself such a world as exists? And then, again, if creation be an image of those things (above), why should we not affirm that those are, in turn, images of others above them, and those above these again, of others, and so go on supposing innumerable images of images? 2. This difficulty presented itself to Basilides after he had utterly missed the truth, and was conceiving that, by an infinite succession of those beings that were formed from one another, he might escape such perplexity. When he had proclaimed that three hundred and sixty-five heavens were formed through succession and similitude by one another, and that a manifest proof (of the existence) of these was found in the number of the days of the year, as I stated before; and that above these there was a power which they also style Unnameable, and its dispensation – he did not even in this way escape such perplexity. For, when asked from where came the image of its configuration to that heaven which is above all, and from which he wishes the rest to be regarded as having been formed by means of succession, he will say, from that dispensation which belongs to the Unnameable. He must then say, either that the Unspeakable formed it of himself, or he will find it necessary to acknowledge that there is some other power above this being, from whom his unnameable One derived such vast numbers of configurations as do, according to him, exist.
3. How much safer and more accurate a course is it, then, to confess at once that which is true: that this God, the Creator, who formed the world, is the only God, and that there is no other God besides him – he himself receiving from himself the model and figure of those things which have been made – than that, after wearying ourselves with such an impious and circuitous description, we should be compelled, at some point or another, to fix the mind on some One, and to confess that from him proceeded the configuration of things created.
4. As to the accusation brought against us by the followers of Valentinus, when they declare that we continue in that Hebdomad which is below, as if we could not lift our minds on high, nor understand those things which are above, because we do not accept their monstrous assertions: this very charge do the followers of Basilides bring in turn against them, inasmuch as they (the Valentinians) keep circling about those things which are below, (going) as far as the first and second Ogdoad, and because they unskillfully imagine that, immediately after the thirty Aeons, they have discovered him who is above all things Father, not following out in thought their investigations to that Pleroma which is above the three hundred and sixty-five heavens, which is above forty-five Ogdoads. And anyone, again, might bring against them the same charge, by imagining four thousand three hundred and eighty heavens, or Aeons, since the days of the year contain that number of hours. If, again, someone adds also the nights, so doubling the hours which have been mentioned, imagining that (in this way) he has discovered a great multitude of Ogdoads, and a kind of innumerable company of Aeons, and so, in opposition to him who is above all things Father, conceiving himself more perfect than all (others), he will bring the same charge against all, inasmuch as they are not capable of rising to the conception of such a multitude of heavens or Aeons as he has announced, but are either so deficient as to remain among those things which are below, or continue in the intermediate space.
Even Nous and the Father himself would be in ignorance
1. That system, then, which has respect to their Pleroma, and especially that part of it which refers to the primary Ogdoad being so burdened with so great contradictions and perplexities, let me now go on to examine the remainder of their scheme. (In doing so) on account of their madness, I shall be making enquiry respecting things which have no real existence; yet it is necessary to do this, since the treatment of this subject has been entrusted to me, and since I desire all men to come to the knowledge of the truth, as well as because you yourself have asked to receive from me full and complete means for overturning (the views of) these men.
2. I ask, then, how were the rest of the Aeons produced? Was it so as to be united with him who produced them, even as the solar rays are with the sun; or was it actually and separately, so that each of them possessed an independent existence and his own special form, just as has a man from another man, and one herd of cattle from another? Or was it after the way of germination, as branches from a tree? And were they of the same substance with those who produced them, or did they derive their substance from some other (kind of) substance? Also, were they produced at the same time, so as to be contemporaries; or after a certain order, so that some of them were older, and others younger? And, again, are they uncompounded and uniform, and altogether equal and similar among themselves, as spirit and light are produced; or are they compounded and different, unlike (to each other) in their members?
3. If each of them was produced, in merely human fashion, actually and according to its own generation, then either those so generated by the Father will be of the same substance with him, and similar to their Author; or if they appear dissimilar, then it must of necessity be acknowledged that they are (formed of some different substance. Now, if the beings generated by the Father be similar to their Author, then those who have been produced must remain for ever impossible, even as is he who produced them; but if, on the other hand, they are of a different substance, which is capable of passion, then how did this dissimilar substance find a place within the incorruptible Pleroma? Further, too, according to this principle, each one of them must be understood as being completely separated from every other, even as men are not mixed with nor united the one to the other, but each having a distinct shape of his own, and a definite sphere of action, while each one of them, too, is formed of a particular size, – qualities characteristic of a body, and not of a spirit. Let them therefore no longer speak of the Pleroma as being spiritual, or of themselves as "spiritual," if indeed their Aeons sit feasting with the Father, just as if they were men, and he himself is of such a configuration as those reveal him to be who were produced by him.
4. If, again, the Aeons were derived from Logos, Logos from Nous, and Nous from Bythus, just as lights are kindled from a light – as, for example, torches are from a torch – then they may no doubt differ in generation and size from one another; but since they are of the same substance with the Author of their production, they must either all remain for ever impossible, or their Father himself must participate in passion. For the torch which has been kindled subsequently cannot be possessed of a different kind of light from that which preceded it. Therefore also their lights, when blended in one, return to the original identity, since that one light is then formed which has existed even from the beginning. But we cannot speak, with respect to light itself, of some part being more recent in its origin, and another being more ancient (for the whole is but one light); nor can we so speak even in regard to those torches which have received the light (for these are all contemporary as respects their material substance, for the substance of torches is one and the same), but simply as to (the time of) its being kindled, since one was lighted a little while ago, and another has just now been kindled.
5. The defect, therefore, of that passion which has regard to ignorance, will either attach alike to their whole Pleroma, since (all its members) are of the same substance; and the Propator will share in this defect of ignorance – that is, will be ignorant of himself; or, on the other hand, all those lights which are within the Pleroma will alike remain for ever impassible. From where, then, comes the passion of the youngest Aeon, if the light of the Father is that from which all other lights have been formed, and which is by nature impassible? And how can one Aeon be spoken of as either younger or older among themselves, since there is but one light in the entire Pleroma? And if anyone calls them stars, they will all nevertheless appear to participate in the same nature. For if "one star differs from another star in glory," but not in qualities, nor substance, nor in the fact of being passible or impassible; so all these, since they are alike derived from the light of the Father, must either be naturally impassible and immutable, or they must all, in common with the light of the Father, be passible, and are capable of the varying phases of corruption.
6. The same conclusion will follow, although they affirm that the production of Aeons sprang from Logos, as branches from a tree, since Logos has his generation from their Father. For all (the Aeons) are formed of the same substance with the Father, differing from one another only in size, and not in nature, and filling up the greatness of the Father, even as the fingers complete the hand. If therefore he exists in passion and ignorance, so must also those Aeons who have been generated by him. But if it is impious to ascribe ignorance and passion to the Father of all, how can they describe an Aeon produced by him as being passible; and while they ascribe the same impiety to the very wisdom (Sophia) of God, how can they still call themselves religious men?
7. If, again, they declare that their Aeons were sent forth just as rays are from the sun, then, since all are of the same substance and sprung from the same source, all must either be capable of passion along with him who produced them, or all will remain impassible for ever. For they can no longer maintain that, of beings so produced, some are impassible and others passible. If, then, they declare all impassible, they do themselves destroy their own argument. For how could the young Aeon have suffered passion if all were impassible? If, on the other hand, they declare that all partook of this passion, as indeed some of them venture to maintain, then, inasmuch as it originated with Logos, but flowed onwards to Sophia, they will so be convicted of tracing back the passion to Logos, who is the Nous of this Propator, and so acknowledging the Nous of the Propator and the Father himself to have experienced passion. For the Father of all is not to be regarded as a kind of compound Being, who can be separated from his Nous (mind), as I have already shown; but Nous is the Father, and the Father Nous. It necessarily follows, therefore, both that he who springs from him as Logos, or rather that Nous himself, since he is Logos, must be perfect and impassible, and that those productions which proceed from him, seeing that they are of the same substance with himself, should be perfect and impassible, and should ever remain similar to him who produced them.
8. It cannot therefore longer be held, as these men teach, that Logos, as occupying the third place in generation, was ignorant of the Father. Such a thing might indeed perhaps be deemed probable in the case of the generation of human beings, inasmuch as these frequently know nothing of their parents; but it is altogether impossible in the case of the Logos of the Father. For if, existing in the Father, he knows him in whom he exists – that is, is not ignorant of himself – then those productions which issue from him being his powers (faculties), and always present with him, will not be ignorant of him who emitted them, any more than rays (may be supposed to be) of the sun. It is impossible, therefore, that the Sophia (wisdom) of God, she who is within the Pleroma, inasmuch as she has been produced in such a manner, should have fallen under the influence of passion, and conceived such ignorance. But it is possible that that Sophia (wisdom) who pertains to (the scheme) of Valentinus, inasmuch as she is a production of the devil, should fall into every kind of passion, and exhibit the profoundest ignorance. For when they themselves bear testimony concerning their mother, to the effect that she was the offspring of an erring Aeon, we need no longer search for a reason why the sons of such a mother should be ever swimming in the depths of ignorance.
9. I am not aware that, besides these productions (which have been mentioned), they are able to speak of any other; indeed, they have not been known to me (although I have had very frequent discussions with them concerning forms of this kind) as ever setting forth any other peculiar kind of being as produced (in the manner under consideration). This only they maintain, that each one of these was so produced as to know merely that one who produced him, while he was ignorant of the one who immediately preceded. But they do not in this matter go forward (in their account) with any kind of demonstration as to the manner in which these were produced, or how such a thing could take place among spiritual beings. For, in whatever way they may choose to go forward, they will feel themselves bound (while, as regards the truth, they depart entirely from right reason) to proceed so far as to maintain that their Word, who springs from the Nous of the Propator, – to maintain, I say, that he was produced in a state of degeneracy. For (they hold) that perfect Nous, previously begotten by the perfect Bythus, was not capable of rendering that production which issued from him perfect, but (could only bring it forth) utterly blind to the knowledge and greatness of the Father. They also maintain that the Saviour exhibited an emblem of this mystery in the case of that man who was blind from his birth, since the Aeon was in this manner produced by Monogenes blind, that is, in ignorance, so falsely ascribing ignorance and blindness to the Word of God, who, according to their own theory, holds the second (place of) production from the Propator. Admirable sophists, and explorers of the sublimities of the unknown Father, and rehearsers of those super-celestial mysteries "which the angels desire to look into!" – that they may learn that from the Nous of that Father who is above all, the Word was produced blind, that is, ignorant of the Father who produced him! 10. But, you miserable sophists, how could the Nous of the Father, or rather the very Father himself, since he is Nous and perfect in all things, have produced his own Logos as an imperfect and blind Aeon, when he was able also to produce along with him the knowledge of the Father? As you affirm that Christ was generated after the rest, and yet declare that he was produced perfect, much more then should Logos, who is anterior to him in age, be produced by the same Nous, unquestionably perfect, and not blind; nor could he, again, have produced Aeons still blinder than himself, until at last your Sophia, always utterly blinded, gave birth to so vast a body of evils. And your Father is the cause of all this mischief; for you declare the magnitude and power of your Father to be the causes of ignorance, assimilating him to Bythus, and assigning this as a name to him who is the unnameable Father. But if ignorance is an evil, and you declare all evils to have derived their strength from it, while you maintain that the greatness and power of the Father is the cause of this ignorance, you do so set him forth as the author of (all) evils. For you state as the cause of evil this fact, that (no one) could contemplate his greatness. But if it was really impossible for the Father to make himself known from the beginning to those (beings) that were formed by him, he must in that case be held free from blame, inasmuch as he could not remove the ignorance of those who came after him. But if, at a subsequent period, when he so willed it, he could take away that ignorance which had increased with the successive productions as they followed each other, and so become deeply seated in the Aeons, much more, had he so willed it might he formerly have prevented that ignorance, which as yet was not, from coming into existence.
11. Since therefore, as soon as he so pleased, he did become known not only to the Aeons, but also to these men who lived in these latter times; but, as he did not so please to be known from the beginning, he remained unknown – the cause of ignorance is, according to you, the will of the Father. For if he foreknew that these things would in future happen in such a manner, why then did he not guard against the ignorance of these beings before it had obtained a place among them, rather than afterwards, as if under the influence of repentance, deal with it through the production of Christ? For the knowledge which through Christ he conveyed to all, he might long before have imparted through Logos, who was also the first-begotten of Monogenes. Or if, knowing them beforehand, he willed that these things should happen (as they have done), then the works of ignorance must endure for ever, and never pass away. For the things which have been made in accordance with the will of your Propator must continue along with the will of him who willed them; or if they pass away, the will of him also who decreed that they should have a being will pass away along with them. And why did the Aeons find rest and attain perfect knowledge through learning (at last) that the Father is altogether incomprehensible? They might surely have possessed this knowledge before they became involved in passion; for the greatness of the Father did not suffer diminution from the beginning, so that these might know that he was altogether incomprehensible. For if, on account of his infinite greatness, he remained unknown, he ought also on account of his infinite love to have preserved those impassible who were produced by him, since nothing hindered, and expediency rather required, that they should have known from the beginning that the Father was altogether incomprehensible.
Sophia's "enthymesis" could not have been separated from herself
1. How can it be regarded as otherwise than absurd, that they also affirm this Sophia (wisdom) to have been involved in ignorance, and degeneracy, and passion? For these things are alien and contrary to wisdom, nor can they ever be qualities belonging to it. For wherever there is a want of foresight, and an ignorance of the course of utility, there wisdom does not exist. Let them therefore no longer call this suffering Aeon, Sophia, but let them give up either her name or her sufferings. And let them, moreover, not call their entire Pleroma spiritual, if this Aeon had a place within it when she was involved in such a tumult of passion. For even a vigorous soul, not to say a spiritual substance, would not pass through any such experience.
2. And, again, how could her Enthymesis, going forth (from her) along with the passion, have become a separate existence? For Enthymesis (thought) is understood in connection with some person, and can never have an isolated existence by itself. For a bad Enthymesis is destroyed and absorbed by a good one, even as a state of disease is by health. What, then, was the sort of Enthymesis which preceded that of passion? (It was this): to investigate the (nature of) the Father, and to consider his greatness. But what did she afterwards become persuaded of, and so was restored to health? (This, that is), that the Father is incomprehensible, and that he is past finding out. It was not, then, a proper feeling that she wished to know the Father, and on this account she became passible; but when she became persuaded that he is unsearchable, she was restored to health. And even Nous himself, who was enquiring into the (nature of) the Father, ceased, according to them, to continue his researches, on learning that the Father is incomprehensible.
3. How then could the Enthymesis separately conceive passions, which themselves also were her affections? For affection is necessarily connected with an individual: it cannot come into being or exist apart by itself. This opinion (of theirs), however, is not only untenable, but also opposed to that which was spoken by our Lord: "Seek, and you shall find." For the Lord renders his disciples perfect by their seeking after and finding the Father; but that Christ of theirs, who is above, has rendered them perfect, by the fact that he has commanded the Aeons not to seek after the Father, persuading those who, though they should labour hard, they would not find him. And they declare that they themselves are perfect, by the fact that they maintain they have found their Bythus; while the Aeons (have been made perfect) by means of this, that he is unsearchable who was enquired after by them.
4. Since, therefore, the Enthymesis herself could not exist separately, apart from the Aeon, (it is obvious that) they bring forward still greater falsehood concerning her passion, when they further proceed to divide and separate it from her, while they declare that it was the substance of matter. As if God were not light, and as if no Word existed who could accuse them, and overthrow their wickedness. For it is certainly true, that whatever the Aeon thought, that she also suffered; and what she suffered, that she also thought. And her Enthymesis was, according to them, nothing else than the passion of one thinking how she might comprehend the incomprehensible. And so Enthymesis (thought) was the passion; for she was thinking of things impossible. How then could affection and passion be separated and set apart from the Enthymesis, so as to become the substance of so vast a material creation, when Enthymesis herself was the passion, and the passion Enthymesis? Neither, therefore, can Enthymesis apart from the Aeon, nor the affections apart from Enthymesis, separately possess substance; and so once more their system breaks down and is destroyed.
5. But how did it come to pass that the Aeon was both dissolved (into her component parts), and became subject to passion? She was undoubtedly of the same substance as the Pleroma; but the entire Pleroma was of the Father. Now, any substance, when brought in contact with what is of a similar nature, will not be dissolved into nothing, nor will be in danger of perishing, but will rather continue and increase, such as fire in fire, spirit in spirit, and water in water; but those which are of a contrary nature to each other do, (when they meet), suffer and are changed and destroyed. And, in the same way, if there had been a production of light, it would not suffer passion, or recur any danger in light like itself, but would rather glow with the greater brightness, and increase, as the day does from (the increasing brilliance of) the sun; for they maintain that Bythus (himself) was the image of their father (Sophia). Whatever animals are alien (in habits) and strange to each other, or are mutually opposed in nature, fall into danger (on meeting together), and are destroyed; whereas, on the other hand, those who are accustomed to each other, and of a harmonious disposition, suffer no peril from being together in the same place, but rather secure both safety and life by such a fact. If, therefore, this Aeon was produced by the Pleroma of the same substance as the whole of it, she could never have undergone change, since she was consorting with beings similar to and familiar with herself, a spiritual essence among those that were spiritual. For fear, terror, passion, dissolution, and such like, may perhaps occur through the struggle of contraries among such beings as we are, who are possessed of bodies; but among spiritual beings, and those that have the light diffused among them, no such calamities can possibly happen. But these men appear to me to have endowed their Aeon with the (same sort of) passion as belongs to that character in the comic poet Menander, who was himself deeply in love, but an object of hatred (to his beloved). For those who have invented such opinions have rather had an idea and mental conception of some unhappy lover among men, than of a spiritual and divine substance.
6. Moreover, to meditate how to search into (the nature of) the perfect Father, and to have a desire to exist within him, and to have a comprehension of his (greatness), could not entail the stain of ignorance or passion, and that on a spiritual Aeon; but would rather (give rise to) perfection, and impassibility, and truth. For they do not say that even they, though they be but men, by meditating on him who was before them, – and while now, so to speak, comprehending the perfect, and being placed within the knowledge of him, – are so involved in a passion of perplexity, but rather attain to the knowledge and apprehension of truth. For they affirm that the Saviour said, "Seek, and you shall find," to his disciples with this view, that they should seek after him who, by means of imagination, has been conceived of by them as being above the Maker of all – the inexpressible Bythus; and they wish themselves to be regarded as "the perfect;" because they have sought and found the perfect One, while they are still on earth. Yet they declare that that Aeon who was within the Pleroma, a wholly spiritual being, by seeking after the Propator, and endeavouring to find a place within his greatness, and desiring to have a comprehension of the truth of the Father, fell down into (the endurance of) passion, and such a passion that, unless she had met with that Power who upholds all things, she would have been dissolved into the general substance (of the Aeons), and so come to an end of her (personal) existence.
7. Absurd is such presumption, and truly an opinion of men totally destitute of the truth. For, that this Aeon is superior to themselves, and of greater antiquity, they themselves acknowledge, according to their own system, when they affirm that they are the fruit of the Enthymesis of that Aeon who suffered passion, so that this Aeon is the father of their mother, that is, their own grandfather. And to them, the later grandchildren, the search after the Father brings, as they maintain, truth, and perfection, and establishment, and deliverance from unstable matter, and reconciliation to the Father; but on their grandfather this same search entailed ignorance, and passion, and terror, and perplexity, from which (disturbances) they also declare that the substance of matter was formed. To say, therefore, that the search after and investigation of the perfect Father, and the desire for communion and union with him, were things quite beneficial to them, but to an Aeon, from whom also they derive their origin, these things were the cause of dissolution and destruction, how can such assertions be otherwise viewed than as totally inconsistent, foolish, and irrational? Those, too, who listen to these teachers, truly blind themselves, while they possess blind guides, justly (are left to) fall along with them into the gulf of ignorance which lies below them.
Their opinions about the demiurge shown to be equally untenable
1. But what sort of talk also is this concerning their seed – that it was conceived by the mother according to the configuration of those angels who wait on the Saviour, – shapeless, without form, and imperfect; and that it was deposited in the Demiurge without his knowledge, in order that through his instrumentality it might attain to perfection and form in that soul which he had, (so to speak), filled with seed? This is to affirm, in the first place, that those angels who wait on their Saviour are imperfect, and with out figure or form; if indeed that which was conceived according to their appearance was generated any such kind of being (as has been described).
2. Then, in the next place, as to their saying that the Creator was ignorant of that deposit of seed which took place into him, and again, of that impartation of seed which was made by him to man, their words are futile and vain, and are in no way susceptible of proof. For how could he have been ignorant of it, if that seed had possessed any substance and peculiar properties? If, on the other hand, it was without substance and without quality, and so was really nothing, then, as a matter of course, he was ignorant of it. For those things which have a certain motion of their own, and quality, either of heat, or swiftness, or sweetness, or which differ from others in brilliance, do not escape the notice even of men, since they mingle in the sphere of human action: far less can they (be hidden from) God, the Maker of this universe. With reason, however, (is it said, that) their seed was not known to him, since it is without any quality of general utility, and without the substance requisite for any action, and is, in fact, a pure nonentity. It really seems to me, that, with a view to such opinions, the Lord expressed himself so: "For every idle word that men speak, they shall give account on the day of judgment." For all teachers of a like character to these, who fill men's ears with idle talk, shall, when they stand at the throne of judgment, render an account for those things which they have vainly imagined and falsely uttered against the Lord, proceeding, as they have done, to such a height of audacity as to declare of themselves that, on account of the substance of their seed, they are acquainted with the spiritual Pleroma, because that man who dwells within reveals to them the true Father; for the animal nature required to be disciplined by means of the senses. But (they hold that) the Demiurge, while receiving into himself the whole of this seed, through its being deposited in him by the Mother, still remained utterly ignorant of all things, and had no understanding of anything connected with the Pleroma.
3. And that they are the truly "spiritual," inasmuch as a certain particle of the Father of the universe has been deposited in their souls, since, according to their assertions, they have souls formed of the same substance as the Demiurge himself, yet that he, although he received from the Mother, once for all, the whole (of the divine) seed, and possessed it in himself, still remained of an animal nature, and had not the slightest understanding of those things which are above, which things they boast that they themselves understand, while they are still on earth; – does not this crown all possible absurdity? For to imagine that the very same seed conveyed knowledge and perfection to the souls of these men, while it only gave rise to ignorance in the God who made them, is an opinion that can be held only by those utterly frantic, and totally destitute of common sense.
4. Further, it is also a most absurd and groundless thing for them to say that the seed was, by being so deposited, reduced to form and increased, and so was prepared for all the reception of perfect rationality. For there will be in it an admixture of matter – that substance which they hold to have been derived from ignorance and defect; (and this will prove itself) more apt and useful than was the light of their Father, if indeed, when born, according to the contemplation of that (light), it was without form or figure, but derived from this (matter), form, and appearance, and increase, and perfection. For if that light which proceeds from the Pleroma was the cause to a spiritual being that it possessed neither form, nor appearance, nor its own special magnitude, while its descent to this world added all these things to it, and brought it to perfection, then a sojourn here (which they also term darkness) would seem much more efficacious and useful than was the light of their Father. But how can it be regarded as other than ridiculous, to affirm that their mother ran the risk of being almost extinguished in matter, and was almost on the point of being destroyed by it, had she not then with difficulty stretched herself outwards, and leaped, (as it were), out of herself, receiving assistance from the Father; but that her seed increased in this same matter, and received a form, and was made fit for the reception of perfect rationality; and this, too, while "bubbling up" among substances dissimilar and unfamiliar to itself, according to their own declaration that the earthly is opposed to the spiritual, and the spiritual to the earthly? How, then, could "a little particle," as they say, increase, and receive shape, and reach perfection, in the midst of substances contrary to and unfamiliar to itself?
5. But further, and in addition to what has been said, the question occurs, Did their mother, when she beheld the angels, bring forth the seed all at once, or only one by one (in succession)? If she brought forth the whole simultaneously and at once, that which was so produced cannot now be of an infantile character: its descent, therefore, into those men who now exist must be superfluous. But if one by one, then she did not form her conception according to the figure of those angels whom she beheld; for, contemplating them all together, and once for all, so as to conceive by them, she ought to have brought forth once for all the offspring of those from whose forms she had once for all conceived.
6. Why was it, too, that, seeing the angels along with the Saviour, she did indeed conceive their images, but not that of the Saviour, who is far more beautiful than they? Did he not please her; and did she not, on that account, conceive after his likeness? How was it, too, that the Demiurge, whom they can call an animal being, having, as they maintain, his own special magnitude and figure, was produced perfect as respects his substance; while that which is spiritual, which also ought to be more effective than that which is animal, was sent forth imperfect, and he required to descend into a soul, that in it he might obtain form, and so becoming perfect, might be rendered fit for the reception of perfect reason? If, then, he obtains form in mere earthly and animal men, he can no longer be said to be after the likeness of angels whom they call lights, but (after the likeness) of those men who are here below. For he will not possess in that case the likeness and appearance of angels, but of those souls in whom also he receives shape; just as water when poured into a vessel takes the form of that vessel, and if on any occasion it happens to congeal in it, it will acquire the form of the vessel in which it has so been frozen, since souls themselves possess the figure of the body (in which they dwell); for they themselves have been adapted to the vessel (in which they exist), as I have said before. If, then, that seed (referred to) is here solidified and formed into a definite shape, it will possess the figure of a man. And not the form of the angels. How is it possible, therefore, that that seed should be after images of the angels, seeing it has obtained a form after the likeness of men? Why, again, since it was of a spiritual nature, had it any need of descending into flesh? For what is carnal stands in need of that which is spiritual, if indeed it is to be saved, that in it may be sanctified and cleared from all impurity, and that what is mortal may be swallowed up by immortality; but that which is spiritual has no need whatever of those things which are here below. For it is not we who benefit it, but it that improves us.
7. Still more manifestly is that talk of theirs concerning their seed proved to be false, and that in a way which must be evident to everyone, by the fact that they declare those souls which have received seed from the Mother to be superior to all others; therefore also they have been honoured by the Demiurge, and constituted princes, and kings, and priests. For if this were true, the high priest Caiaphas, and Annas, and the rest of the chief priests, arid doctors of the law, and rulers of the people, would have been the first to believe in the Lord, agreeing as they did with respect to that relationship; and even before them should have been Herod the king. But since neither he, nor the chief priests, nor the rulers, nor the eminent of the people, turned to him (in faith), but, on the contrary, those who sat begging by the highway, the deaf, and the blind, while he was rejected and despised by others, according to what Paul declares, "For you see your calling, brethen, that there are not many wise men among you, not many noble, not many mighty; but those things of the world which were despised has God chosen." Such souls, therefore, were not superior to others on account of the seed deposited in them, nor on this account were they honoured by the Demiurge.
8. As to the point, then, that their system is weak and untenable as well as utterly chimerical, enough has been said. For it is not needful, to use a common proverb, to drink up the whole ocean to learn that its water is salt. But, just as in the case of a statue which is made of clay, but coloured on the outside that it may be thought to be of gold, while it really is of clay, anyone who takes out of it a small particle, and so laying it open reveals the clay, will set free those who seek the truth from a false opinion; in the same way have I (by exposing not a small part only, but the several heads of their system which are of the greatest importance) shown to as many as do not wish wittingly to be led astray, what is wicked, deceitful, seductive, and pernicious, connected with the school of the Valentinians, and all those other heretics who promulgate wicked opinions respecting the Demiurge, that is, the Fashioner and Former of this universe, and who is in fact the only true God – exhibiting, (as I have done), how easily their views are overthrown.
9. For who that has any intelligence, and possesses only a small proportion of truth, can tolerate them, when they affirm that there is another God above the Creator; and that there is another Monogenes as well as another Word of God, whom also they describe as having been produced in (a state of) degeneracy; and another Christ, whom they assert to have been formed, along with the Holy Spirit, later than the rest of the Aeons; and another Saviour, who, they say, did not proceed from the Father of all, but was a kind of joint production of those Aeons who were formed in (a state of) degeneracy, and that he was produced of necessity on account of this very degeneracy? It is so their opinion that, unless the Aeons had been in a state of ignorance and degeneracy, neither Christ, nor the Holy Spirit, nor Horos, nor the Saviour, nor the angels, nor their Mother, nor her seed, nor the rest of the fabric of the world, would have been produced at all; but the universe would have been a desert, and destitute of the many good things which exist in it. They are therefore not only chargeable with impiety against the Creator, declaring him the fruit of a defect, but also against Christ and the Holy Spirit, affirming that they were produced on account of that defect; and, in the same way, that the Saviour (was produced) subsequently to (the existence of) that defect. And who will tolerate the remainder of their vain talk, which they cunningly endeavour to accommodate to the parables, and have in this way plunged both themselves, and those who give credit to them, in the profoundest depths of impiety?
Futility of the arguments adduced to demonstrate the sufferings of the twelfth aeon, from the parables, the treachery of Judas, and the passion of our Saviour
1. That they improperly and illogically apply both the parables and the actions of the Lord to their falsely-devised system, I prove as follows: They endeavour, for instance, to demonstrate that passion which, they say, happened in the case of the twelfth Aeon, from this fact, that the passion of the Saviour was brought about by the twelfth apostle, and happened in the twelfth month. For they hold that he preached (only) for one year after his baptism. They maintain also that the same thing was clearly set forth in the case of her who suffered from the issue of blood. For the woman suffered during twelve years, and through touching the hem of the Saviour's garment she was made whole by that power which went forth from the Saviour, and which, they affirm, had a previous existence. For that Power who suffered was stretching herself outwards and flowing into immensity, so that she was in danger of being dissolved into the general substance (of the Aeons); but then, concerning the primary Tetrad, which is typified by the hem of the garment, she was arrested, and ceased from her passion.
2. Then, again, as to their assertion that the passion of the twelfth Aeon was proved through the conduct of Judas, how is it possible that Judas can be compared (with this Aeon) as being an emblem of her – he who was expelled from the number of the twelve, and never restored to his place? For that Aeon, whose type they declare Judas to be, after being separated from her Enthymesis, was restored or recalled (to her former position); but Judas was deprived (of his office), and cast out, while Matthias was ordained in his place, according to what is written, "And his episcopacy let another take." They ought therefore to maintain that the twelfth Aeon was cast out of the Pleroma, and that another was produced, or sent forth to fill her place; if, that is to say, she is pointed at in Judas. Moreover, they tell us that it was the Aeon herself who suffered, but Judas was the betrayer, (and not the sufferer.) Even they themselves acknowledge that it was the suffering Christ, and not Judas, who came to (the endurance of) passion. How, then, could Judas, the betrayer of him who had to suffer for our salvation, be the type and image of that Aeon who suffered? 3. But, in truth, the passion of Christ was neither similar to the passion of the Aeon, nor did it take place in similar circumstances. For the Aeon underwent a passion of dissolution and destruction, so that she who suffered was in danger also of being destroyed. But the Lord, our Christ, underwent a valid, and not a merely accidental passion; not only was he himself not in danger of being destroyed, but he also established fallen man by his own strength, and recalled him to incorruption. The Aeon, again, underwent passion while she was seeking after the Father, and was notable to find him; but the Lord suffered that he might bring those who have wandered from the Father, back to knowledge and to his fellowship. The search into the greatness of the Father became to her a passion leading to destruction; but the Lord, having suffered, and bestowing the knowledge of the Father, conferred on us salvation. Her passion, as they declare, gave origin to a female offspring, weak, infirm, unformed, and ineffective; but his passion gave rise to strength and power. For the Lord, by means of suffering, "ascending into the lofty place, led captivity captive, gave gifts to men," and conferred on those that believe in him the power "to tread on serpents and scorpions, and on all the power of the enemy," that is, of the leader of apostasy. Our Lord also by his passion destroyed death, and dispersed error, and put an end to corruption, and destroyed ignorance, while he manifested life and revealed truth, and bestowed the gift of incorruption. But their Aeon, when she had suffered, established ignorance, and brought forth a substance without shape, out of which all material works have been produced – death, corruption, error, and such like.
4. Judas, then, the twelfth in order of the disciples, was not a type of the suffering Aeon, nor, again, was the passion of the Lord; for these two things have been shown to be in every respect mutually dissimilar and inharmonious. This is the case not only as respects the points which I have already mentioned, but with regard to the very number. For that Judas the traitor is the twelfth in order, is agreed on by all, there being twelve apostles mentioned by name in the Gospel. But this Aeon is not the twelfth, but the thirtieth; for, according to the views under consideration, there were not twelve Aeons only produced by the will of the Father, nor was she sent forth the twelfth in order: they reckon her, (on the contrary), as having been produced in the thirtieth place. How, then, can Judas, the twelfth in order, be the type and image of that Aeon who occupies the thirtieth place?
5. But if they say that Judas in perishing was the image of her Enthymesis, neither in this way will the image bear any analogy to that truth which (by hypothesis) corresponds to it. For the Enthymesis having been separated from the Aeon, and itself afterwards receiving a shape from Christ, then being made a partaker of intelligence by the Saviour, and having formed all things which are outside of the Pleroma, after the image of those which are within the Pleroma, is said at last to have been received by them into the Pleroma, and, according to (the principle of) conjunction, to have been united to that Saviour who was formed out of all. But Judas having been once for all cast away, never returns into the number of the disciples; otherwise a different person would not have been chosen to fill his place. Besides, the Lord also declared regarding him, "Woe to the man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed;" and, "It would be better for him if he had never been born;" and he was called the "son of perdition" by him. If, however, they say that Judas was a type of the Enthymesis, not as separated from the Aeon, but of the passion entwined with her, neither in this way can the number twelve be regarded as a (fitting) type of the number three. For in the one case Judas was cast away, and Matthias was ordained instead of him; but in the other case the Aeon is said to have been in danger of dissolution and destruction, and (there are also) her Enthymesis and passion: for they markedly distinguish Enthymesis from the passion; and they represent the Aeon as being restored, and Enthymesis as acquiring form, but the passion, when separated from these, as becoming matter. Since, therefore, there are so these three, the Aeon, her Enthymesis, and her passion, Judas and Matthias, being only two, cannot be the types of them.
The twelve apostles were not a type of the aeons
1. If, again, they maintain that the twelve apostles were a type only of that group of twelve Aeons which Anthropos in conjunction with Ecclesia produced, then let them produce ten other apostles as a type of those ten remaining Aeons, who, as they declare, were produced by Logos and Zoe. For it is unreasonable to suppose that the junior, and for that reason inferior Aeons, were set forth by the Saviour through the election of the apostles, while their seniors, and on this account their superiors, were not so foreshown; since the Saviour (if, that is to say, he chose the apostles with this view, that by means of them he might show forth the Aeons who are in the Pleroma) might have chosen other ten apostles also, and likewise other eight before these, that so he might set forth the original and primary Ogdoad. He could not, in regard to the second (Duo) Decade, show forth (any emblem of it) through the number of the apostles being (already) constituted a type. For (He selected no such other number of disciples; but) after the twelve apostles, our Lord is found to have sent seventy others before him. Now seventy cannot possibly be the type either of an Ogdoad, a Decade, or a Triacontad. What is the reason, then, that the inferior Aeons are, as I have said, represented by means of the apostles; but the superior, from whom, too, the former derived their being, are not prefigured at all? But if the twelve apostles were chosen with this object, that the number of the twelve Aeons might be indicated by means of them, then the seventy also ought to have been chosen to be the type of seventy Aeons; and in that case, they must affirm that the Aeons are no longer thirty, but eighty-two in number. For he who selected the apostles, that they might be a type of those Aeons existing in the Pleroma, would never have constituted them types of some and not of others; but by means of the apostles he would have tried to preserve an image and to exhibit a type of those Aeons that exist in the Pleroma.
2. Moreover we must not keep silence respecting Paul, but demand from them after the type of what Aeon that apostle has been handed down to us, unless perhaps (they affirm that he is a representative) of the Saviour compounded of them (all), who derived his being from the collected gifts of the whole, and whom they term All Things, as having been formed out of them all. Respecting this being the poet Hesiod has strikingly expressed himself, styling him Pandora – that is, "The gift of all" – for this reason, that the best gift in the possession of all was centred in him. In describing these gifts the following account is given: Hermes (so he is called in the Greek language), "implanted words of fraud and deceit in their minds, and thievish habits," for the purpose of leading foolish men astray, that such should believe their falsehoods. For their Mother – that is, Leto – secretly stirred them up (on account of which also she is called Leto, according to the meaning of the Greek word, because she secretly stirred up men), without the knowledge of the Demiurge, to give forth profound and unspeakable mysteries to itching ears. And not only did their Mother bring it about that this mystery should be declared by Hesiod; but very skillfully also by means of the lyric poet Pindar, when he describes to the Demiurge the case of Pelops, whose flesh was cut in pieces by the Father, and then collected and brought together, and compacted anew by all the gods, did she in this way indicate Pandora and these men having their consciences seared by her, declaring, as they maintain, the very same things, are (proved) of the same family and spirit as the others.
Their numbers do not fit the life of Christ: he was baptised in his thirtieth year and did not suffer in the twelfth month after his baptism, but was more than fifty years old when he died
1. I have shown that the number thirty fails them in every respect; too few Aeons, as they represent them, being at one time found within the Pleroma, and then again too many (to correspond with that number). There are not, therefore, thirty Aeons, nor did the Saviour come to be baptised when he was thirty years old, for this reason, that he might show forth the thirty silent Aeons of their system, otherwise they must first of all separate and eject (the Saviour) himself from the Pleroma of all. Moreover, they affirm that he suffered in the twelfth month, so that he continued to preach for one year after his baptism; and they endeavour to establish this point out of the prophet (for it is written, "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of retribution”), being truly blind, inasmuch as they affirm they have found out the mysteries of Bythus, yet not understanding that which is called by Isaiah the acceptable year of the Lord, nor the day of retribution. For the prophet neither speaks concerning a day which includes the space of twelve hours, nor of a year the length of which is twelve months. For even they themselves acknowledge that the prophets have very often expressed themselves in parables and allegories, and (are) not (to be understood) according to the mere sound of the words.
2. That, then, was called the day of retribution on which the Lord will render to everyone according to his works – that is, the judgment. The acceptable year of the Lord, again, is this present time, in which those who believe him are called by him, and become acceptable to God – that is, the whole time from his advent onwards to the consummation (of all things), during which he acquires to himself as fruits (of the scheme of mercy) those who are saved. For, according to the phraseology of the prophet, the day of retribution follows the (acceptable) year; and the prophet will be proved guilty of falsehood if the Lord preached only for a year, and if he speaks of it. For where is the day of retribution? For the year has passed, and the day of retribution has not yet come; but he still "makes his sun to rise on the good and on the evil, and sends rain on the just and unjust." And the righteous suffer persecution, are afflicted, and are slain, while sinners are possessed of abundance, and "drink with the sound of the harp and psaltery, but do not regard the works of the Lord." But, according to the language (used by the prophet), they ought to be combined, and the day of retribution to follow the (acceptable) year. For the words are, "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of retribution." This present time, therefore, in which men are called and saved by the Lord, is properly understood to be denoted by "the acceptable year of the Lord;" and there follows on this "the day of retribution," that is, the judgment. And the time so referred to is not called "a year" only, but is also named "a day" both by the prophet and by Paul, of whom the apostle, calling to mind the Scripture, says in the Letter addressed to the Romans, "As it is written, for your sake we are killed all the day long, we are counted as sheep for the slaughter." But here the expression "all the day long" is put for all this time during which we suffer persecution, and are killed as sheep. As then this day does not signify one which consists of twelve hours, but the whole time during which believers in Christ suffer and are put to death for his sake, so also the year there mentioned does not denote one which consists of twelve months, but the whole time of faith during which men hear and believe the preaching of the Gospel, and those become acceptable to God who unite themselves to him.
3. But it is greatly to be wondered at, how it has come to pass that, while affirming that they have found out the mysteries of God, they have not examined the Gospels to ascertain how often after his baptism the Lord went up, at the time of the passover, to Jerusalem, in accordance with what was the practice of the Jews from every land, and every year, that they should assemble at this period in Jerusalem, and there celebrate the feast of the passover. First of all, after he had made the water wine at Cana of Galilee, he went up to the festival day of the passover, on which occasion it is written, "For many believed in him, when they saw the signs which he did," as John the disciple of the Lord records. Then, again, withdrawing himself (from Judaea), he is found in Samaria; on which occasion, too, he convened with the Samaritan woman, and while at a distance, cured the son of the centurion by a word, saying, "Go your way, your son lives." Afterwards he went up, the second time, to observe the festival day of the passover in Jerusalem; on which occasion he cured the paralytic man, who had lain beside the pool thirty-eight years, bidding him rise, take up his couch, and depart. Again, withdrawing from thence to the other side of the sea of Tiberias, he there seeing a great crowd had followed him, fed all that multitude with five loaves of bread, and twelve baskets of fragments remained over and above. Then, when he had raised Lazarus from the dead, and plots were formed against him by the Pharisees, he withdrew to a city called Ephraim; and from that place, as it is written "He came to Bethany six days before the passover," and going up from Bethany to Jerusalem, he there ate the passover, and suffered on the day following. Now, that these three occasions of the passover are not included within one year, every person whatever must acknowledge. And that the special month in which the passover was celebrated, and in which also the Lord suffered, was not the twelfth, but the first, those men who boast that they know all things, if they do not know this, may learn it from Moses. Their explanation, therefore, both of the year and of the twelfth month has been proved false, and they ought to reject either their explanation or the Gospel; otherwise (this unanswerable question forces itself on them), How is it possible that the Lord preached for one year only?
4. Being thirty years old when he came to be baptised, and then possessing the full age of a Master, he came to Jerusalem, so that he might be properly acknowledged by all as a Master. For he did not seem one thing while he was another, as those affirm who describe him as being man only in appearance; but what he was, that he also appeared to be. Being a Master, therefore, he also possessed the age of a Master, not despising or evading any condition of humanity, nor setting aside in himself that law which he had appointed for the human race, but sanctifying every age, by that period corresponding to it which belonged to himself. For he came to save all by means of himself – all, I say, who through him are born again to God – infants, and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, so sanctifying infants; a child for children, so sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission; a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, and so sanctifying them for the Lord. So likewise he was an old man for old men, that he might be a perfect Master for all, not merely as respects the setting forth of the truth, but also as regards age, sanctifying at the same time the aged also, and becoming an example to them likewise. Then, at last, he came on to death itself, that he might be "the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence," the Prince of life, existing before all, and going before all.
5. They, however, that they may establish their false opinion regarding that which is written, "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord," maintain that he preached for one year only, and then suffered in the twelfth month. (In speaking so), they are forgetful to their own disadvantage, destroying his whole work, and robbing him of that age which is both more necessary and more honourable than any other; that more advanced age, I mean, during which also as a teacher he excelled all others. For how could he have had disciples, if he did not teach? And how could he have taught, unless he had reached the age of a Master? For when he came to be baptised, he had not yet completed his thirtieth year, but was beginning to be about thirty years of age (for so Luke, who has mentioned his years, has expressed it: "Now Jesus was, so to speak, beginning to be thirty years old," when he came to receive baptism); and, (according to these men), he preached only one year reckoning from his baptism. On completing his thirtieth year he suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age. Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, everyone will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while he still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, (affirming) that John conveyed to those who information. And he remained among them up to the times of Trajan. Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the (validity of) the statement. Whom then should we rather believe? Whether such men as these, or Ptolemaeus, who never saw the apostles, and who never even in his dreams attained to the slightest trace of an apostle? 6. But, besides this, those very Jews who then disputed with the Lord Jesus Christ have most clearly indicated the same thing. For when the Lord said to them, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad," they answered him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Now, such language is fittingly applied to one who has already passed the age of forty, without having as yet reached his fiftieth year, yet is not far from this latter period. But to one who is only thirty years old it would unquestionably be said, "You are not yet forty years old." For those who wished to accuse him of falsehood would certainly not extend the number of his years far beyond the age which they saw he had attained; but they mentioned a period near his real age, whether they had truly ascertained this out of the entry in the public register, or simply made a conjecture from what they observed that he was above forty years old, and that he certainly was not one of only thirty years of age. For it is altogether unreasonable to suppose that they were mistaken by twenty years, when they wished to prove him younger than the times of Abraham. For what they saw, that they also expressed; and he whom they beheld was not a mere phantasm, but an actual being of flesh and blood. He did not then wont much of being fifty years old; and, in accordance with that fact, they said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" he did not therefore preach only for one year, nor did he suffer in the twelfth month of the year. For the period included between the thirtieth and the fiftieth year can never be regarded as one year, unless indeed, among their Aeons, there be so long years assigned to those who sit in their ranks with Bythus in the Pleroma; of which beings Homer the poet, too, has spoken, doubtless being inspired by the Mother of their (system of) error: "The gods sat round, while Jove presided o'er, And converse held on the golden floor."
The woman with an issue of blood was no type of the suffering Aeon
1. Moreover, their ignorance comes out in a clear light with respect to the case of that woman who, suffering from an issue of blood, touched the hem of the Lord's garment, and so was made whole; for they maintain that through her was shown forth that twelfth power who suffered passion, and flowed out towards immensity, that is, the twelfth Aeon. (This ignorance of theirs appears) first, because, as I have shown, according to their own system, that was not the twelfth Aeon. But even granting them this point (in the meantime), there being twelve Aeons, eleven of these are said to have continued impassible, while the twelfth suffered passion; but the woman, on the other hand, being healed in the twelfth year, it is manifest that she had continued to suffer during eleven years, and was healed in the twelfth. If indeed they were to say that eleven Aeons were involved in passion, but the twelfth one was healed, it would then be a plausible thing to say that the woman was a type of these. But since she suffered during eleven years, and (all that time) obtained no cure, but was healed in the twelfth year, in what way can she be a type of the twelfth of the Aeons, eleven of whom, (according to hypothesis), did not suffer at all, but the twelfth alone participated in suffering? For a type and emblem is, no doubt, sometimes diverse from the truth (signified) as to matter and substance; but it ought, as to the general form and features, to maintain a likeness (to what is typified), and in this way to shadow forth by means of things present those which are yet to come.
2. And not only in the case of this woman have the years of her malady (which they affirm to fit in with their figment) been mentioned, but in fact another woman was also healed, after suffering in the same way for eighteen years; concerning whom the Lord said, "And ought not this daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound during eighteen years, to be set free on the Sabbath-day?" If, then, the former was a type of the twelfth Aeon that suffered, the latter should also be a type of the eighteenth Aeon in suffering. But they cannot maintain this; otherwise their primary and original Ogdoad will be included in the number of Aeons who suffered together. Moreover, there was also a certain other person healed by the Lord, after he had suffered for eight-and-thirty years: they ought therefore to affirm that the Aeon who occupies the thirty-eighth place suffered. For if they assert that the things which were done by the Lord were types of what took place in the Pleroma, the type ought to be preserved throughout. But they can neither adapt to their fictitious system the case of her who was cured after eighteen years, nor of him who was cured after thirty-eight years. Now, it is in every way absurd and inconsistent to declare that the Saviour preserved the type in certain cases, while he did not do so in others. The type of the woman, therefore, (with the issue of blood) is shown to have no analogy to their system of Aeons.
Folly of the arguments deriving from numbers, letters, and syllables
1. This very thing, too, still further demonstrates their opinion false, and their fictitious system untenable, that they endeavour to bring forward proofs of it, sometimes by means of numbers and the syllables of names, sometimes also through the letter of syllables, and yet again through those numbers which are, according to the practice followed by the Greeks, contained in (different) letters; – (this, I say), demonstrates in the clearest manner their overthrow or confusion, as well as the untenable and perverse character of their (professed) knowledge. For, transferring the name Jesus, which belongs to another language, to the numeration of the Greeks, they sometimes call it "Episemon," as having six letters, and at other times "the Plenitude of the Ogdoads," as containing the number eight hundred and eighty-eight. But his (corresponding) Greek name, which is "Soter," that is, Saviour, because it does not fit in with their system, either with respect to numerical value or as regards its letters, they pass over in silence. Yet surely, if they regard the names of the Lord, as, in accordance with the preconceived purpose of the Father, by means of their numerical value and letters, indicating number in the Pleroma, Soter, as being a Greek name, ought by means of its letters and the numbers (expressed by these), in virtue of its being Greek, to show forth the mystery of the Pleroma. But the case is not so, because it is a word of five letters, and its numerical value is one thousand four hundred and eight. But these things do not in any way correspond with their Pleroma; the account, therefore, which they give of transactions in the Pleroma cannot be true.
2. Moreover, Jesus, which is a word belonging to the proper tongue of the Hebrews, contains, as the learned among them declare, two letters and a half, and signifies that Lord who contains heaven and earth; for Jesus in the ancient Hebrew language means "heaven," while again "earth" is expressed by the words sura usser. The word, therefore, which contains heaven and earth is just Jesus. Their explanation, then, of the Episemon is false, and their numerical calculation is also manifestly overthrown. For, in their own language, Soter is a Greek word of five letters; but, on the other hand, in the Hebrew tongue, Jesus contains only two letters and a half. The total which they reckon up, that is, eight hundred and eighty-eight, therefore falls to the ground. And throughout, the Hebrew letters do not correspond in number with the Greek, although these especially, as being the more ancient and unchanging, ought to uphold the reckoning connected with the names. For these ancient, original, and generally called sacred letters of the Hebrews are ten in number (but they are written by means of fifteen), the last letter being joined to the first. And so they write some of these letters according to their natural sequence, just as we do, but others in a reverse direction, from the right hand towards the left, so tracing the letters backwards. The name Christ, too, ought to be capable of being reckoned up in harmony with the Aeons of their Pleroma, inasmuch as, according to their statements, he was produced for the establishment and rectification of their Pleroma. The Father, too, in the same way, ought, both by means of letters and numerical value, to contain the number of those Aeons who were produced by him; Bythus, in the same way, and not less Monogenes; but pre-eminently the name which is above all others, by which God is called, and which in the Hebrew tongue is expressed by Baruch, (a word) which also contains two and a half letters. From this fact, therefore, that the more important names, both in the Hebrew and Greek languages, do not conform to their system, either as respects the number of letters or the reckoning brought out of them, the forced character of their calculations respecting the rest becomes clearly manifest.
3. For, choosing out of the Law whatever things agree with the number adopted in their system, they so violently strive to obtain proofs of its validity. But if it was really the purpose of their Mother, or the Saviour, to set forth, by means of the Demiurge, types of those things which are in the Pleroma, they should have taken care that the types were found in things more exactly correspondent and more holy; and, above all, in the case of the Ark of the Covenant, on account of which the whole tabernacle of witness was formed. Now it was constructed so: its length was two cubits and a half, its breadth one cubit and a half, its height one cubit and a half; but such a number of cubits in no respect corresponds with their system, yet by it the type ought to have been, beyond everything else, clearly set forth. The mercy-seat also does in the same way not at all harmonize with their expositions. Moreover, the table of show-bread was two cubits in length, while its height was a cubit and a half. These stood before the holy of holies, and yet in them not a single number is of such an amount as contains an indication of the Tetrad, or the Ogdoad, or of the rest of their Pleroma. What of the candlestick, too, which had seven branches and seven lamps? While, if these had been made according to the type, it ought to have had eight branches and a like number of lamps, after the type of the primary Ogdoad, which shines pre-eminently among the Aeons, and illuminates the whole Pleroma. They have carefully enumerated the curtains as being ten, declaring these a type of the ten Aeons; but they have forgotten to count the coverings of skin, which were eleven in number. Nor, again, have they measured the size of these very curtains, each curtain being eight-and-twenty cubits in length. And they set forth the length of the pillars as being ten cubits, with a reference to the Decade of Aeons. "But the breadth of each pillar was a cubit and a half;" and this they do not explain, any more than they do the entire number of the pillars or of their bars, because that does not suit the argument. But what of the anointing oil, which sanctified the whole tabernacle? Perhaps it escaped the notice of the Saviour, or, while their Mother was sleeping, the Demiurge of himself gave instructions as to its weight; and on this account it is out of harmony with their Pleroma, consisting, as it did, of five hundred shekels of myrrh, five hundred of cassia, two hundred and fifty of cinnamon, two hundred and fifty of calamus, and oil in addition, so that it was composed of five ingredients. The incense also, in the same way, (was compounded) of stacte, onycha, galbanum, mint, and frankincense, all which do in no respect, either as to their mixture or weight, harmonize with their argument. It is therefore unreasonable and altogether absurd (to maintain) that the types were not preserved in the sublime and more imposing enactments of the law; but in other points, when any number coincides with their assertions, to affirm that it was a type of the things in the Pleroma; while (the truth is, that) every number occurs with the utmost variety in the Scriptures, so that, should anyone desire it, he might form not only an Ogdoad, and a Decade, and a Duodecad, but any sort of number from the Scriptures, and then maintain that this was a type of the system of error devised by himself.
4. But that this point is true, that that number which is called five, which agrees in no respect with their argument, and does not harmonize with their system, nor is suitable for a typical manifestation of the things in the Plerwma, (yet has a wide prevalence), will be proved as follows from the Scriptures. Swthr is a name of five letters; Pathr, too, contains five letters; Agaph (love), too, consists of five letters; and our Lord, after blessing the five loaves, fed with them five thousand men. Five virgins were called wise by the Lord; and, in the same way, five were named foolish. Again, five men are said to have been with the Lord when he obtained testimony from the Father, – namely, Peter, and James, and John, and Moses, and Elias. The Lord also, as the fifth person, entered into the apartment of the dead maiden, and raised her up again; for, says (the Scripture), "He suffered no man to go in, save Peter and James, and the father and mother of the maiden." The rich man in hell declared that he had five brothers, to whom he desired that one rising from the dead should go. The pool from which the Lord commanded the paralytic man to go into his house, had five porches. The very form of the cross, too, has five extremities, two in length, two in breadth, and one in the middle, on which (last) the person rests who is fixed by the nails. Each of our hands has five fingers; we have also five senses; our internal organs may also be reckoned as five, that is, the heart, the liver, the lungs, the spleen, and the kidneys. Moreover, even the whole person may be divided into this number (of parts), – the head, the breast, the belly, the thighs, and the feet. The human race passes through five ages first infancy, then boyhood, then youth, then maturity, and then old age. Moses delivered the Law to the people in five books. Each table which he received from God contained five commandments. The veil covering the holy of holies had five pillars. The altar of burnt-offering also was five cubits in breadth. Five priests were chosen in the wilderness, – namely, Aaron, Nadab, Abiud, Eleazar, Ithamar. The ephod and the breastplate, and other sacerdotal vestments, were formed out of five materials; for they combined in themselves gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. And there were five kings of the Amorites, whom Joshua the son of Nun shut up in a cave, and directed the people to trample on their heads. Anyone, in fact, might collect many thousand other things of the same kind, both with respect to this number and any other he chose to fix on, either from the Scriptures, or from the works of nature lying under his observation. But although such is the case, we do not therefore affirm that there are five Aeons above the Demiurge; nor do we consecrate the Peptad, as if it were some divine thing; nor do we strive to establish things that are untenable, nor ravings (such as they indulge in), by means of that vain kind of labour; nor do we perversely force a creation well adapted by God (for the ends intended to be served), to change itself into types of things which have no real existence; nor do we seek to bring forward impious and abominable doctrines, the detection and overthrow of which are easy to all possessed of intelligence.
5. For who can concede to those who the year has three hundred and sixty-five days only, in order that there may be twelve months of thirty days each, after the type of the twelve Aeons, when the type is in fact altogether out of harmony (with the antitype)? For, in the one case, each of the Aeons is a thirtieth part of the entire Pleroma, while in the other they declare that a month is the twelfth part of a year. If, indeed, the year were divided into thirty parts, and the month into twelve, then a fitting type might be regarded as having been found for their fictitious system. But, on the contrary, as the case really stands, their Pleroma is divided into thirty parts, and a portion of it into twelve; while again the whole year is divided into twelve parts, and a certain portion of it into thirty. The Saviour therefore acted unwisely in constituting the month a type of the entire Pleroma, but the year a type only of that Duodecad which exists in the Pleroma; for it was more fitting to divide the year into thirty parts, even as the whole Pleroma is divided, but the month into twelve, just as the Aeons are in their Pleroma. Moreover, they divide the entire Pleroma into three portions, – namely, into an Ogdoad, a Decade, and a Duodecad. But our year is divided into four parts, – namely, spring, summer, autumn, and winter. And again, not even do the months, which they maintain to be a type of the Triacontad, consist precisely of thirty days, but some have more and some less, inasmuch as five days remain to them as an overplus. The day, too, does not always consist precisely of twelve hours, but rises from nine to fifteen, and then falls again from fifteen to nine. It cannot therefore be held that months of thirty days each were so formed for the sake of (typifying) the Aeons; for, in that case, they would have consisted precisely of thirty days: nor, again, the days of these months, that by means of twelve hours they might symbolize the twelve Aeons; for, in that case, they would always have consisted precisely of twelve hours.
6. But further, as to their calling material substances "on the left hand," and maintaining that those things which are so on the left hand of necessity fall into corruption, while they also affirm that the Saviour came to the lost sheep, in order to transfer it to the right hand, that is, to the ninety and nine sheep which were in safety, and perished not, but continued within the fold, yet were of the left hand, it follows that they must acknowledge that the enjoyment of rest did not imply salvation. And that which has not in the same way the same number, they will be compelled to acknowledge as belonging to the left hand, that is, to corruption. This Greek word Agaph (love), then, according to the letters of the Greeks, by means of which reckoning is carried on among them, having a numerical value of ninety-three, is in the same way assigned to the place of rest on the left hand. Aletheia (truth), too, having in the same way, according to the principle indicated above, a numerical value of sixty-four, exists among material substances. And so, in fine, they will be compelled to acknowledge that all those sacred names which do not reach a numerical value of one hundred, but only contain the numbers summed by the left hand, are corruptible and material.
Need of wisdom and humility in seeking after God
1. If anyone, however, say in reply to these things, what then? Is it a meaningless and accidental thing, that the positions of names, and the election of the apostles, and the working of the Lord, and the arrangement of created things, are what they are? – we answer them: Certainly not; but with great wisdom and diligence, all things have clearly been made by God, fitted and prepared (for their special purposes); and his word formed both things ancient and those belonging to the latest times; and men ought not to connect those things with the number thirty, but to harmonize them with what actually exists, or with fight reason. Nor should they seek to prosecute enquiries respecting God by means of numbers, syllables, and letters. For this is an uncertain mode of proceeding, on account of their varied and diverse systems, and because every sort of hypothesis may at the present day be, in the same way, devised by anyone; so that they can derive arguments against the truth from these very theories, inasmuch as they may be turned in many different directions. But, on the contrary, they ought to adapt the numbers themselves, and those things which have been formed, to the true theory lying before them. For system does not spring out of numbers, but numbers from a system; nor does God derive his being from things made, but things made from God. For all things originate from one and the same God. 2. But since created things are various and numerous, they are indeed well fitted and adapted to the whole creation; yet, when viewed individually, are mutually opposite and inharmonious, just as the sound of the lyre, which consists of many and opposite notes, gives rise to one unbroken melody, by means of the interval which separates each one from the others. The lover of truth therefore ought not to be deceived by the interval between each note, nor should he imagine that one was due to one artist and author, and another to another, nor that one person fitted the treble, another the bass, and yet another the tenor strings; but he should hold that one and the same person (formed the whole), so as to prove the judgment, goodness, and skill exhibited in the whole work and (specimen of) wisdom. Those, too, who listen to the melody, ought to praise and extol the artist, to admire the tension of some notes, to attend to the softness of others, to catch the sound of others between both these extremes, and to consider the special character of others, so as to enquire at what each one aims, and what is the cause of their variety, never failing to apply our rule, neither giving up the (one) artist, nor casting off faith in the one God who formed all things, nor blaspheming our Creator.
3. If, however, anyone do not discover the cause of all those things which become objects of investigation, let him reflect that man is infinitely inferior to God; that he has received grace only in part, and is not yet equal or similar to his Maker; and, moreover, that he cannot have experience or form a conception of all things like God; but in the same proportion as he who was formed but today, and received the beginning of his creation, is inferior to him who is uncreated, and who is always the same, in that proportion is he, as respects knowledge and the faculty of investigating the causes of all things, inferior to him who made him. For you, O man, are not an uncreated being, nor did you always co-exist with God, as did his own Word; but now, through his pre-eminent goodness, receiving the beginning of your creation, you do gradually learn from the Word the dispensations of God who made you.
4. Preserve therefore the proper order of your knowledge, and do not, as being ignorant of things really good, seek to rise above God himself, for he cannot be surpassed; nor should you seek after anyone above the Creator, for you will not discover such, For your Former cannot be contained within limits; nor, although you should measure all this (universe), and pass through all his creation, and consider it in all its depth, and height, and length, would you be able to conceive of any other above the Father himself. For you will not be able to think him fully out, but, indulging in trains of reflection opposed to your nature, you will prove yourself foolish; and if you persevere in such a course, you will fall into utter madness, while you deem yourself loftier and greater than your Creator, and imagine that you can penetrate beyond his dominions.
"knowledge puffs up, but love builds up."
1. It is therefore better and more profitable to belong to the simple and unletered class, and by means of love to attain to nearness to God, than, by imagining ourselves learned and skillful, to be found (among those who are) blasphemous against their own God, inasmuch as they conjure up another God as the Father. And for this reason Paul exclaimed, "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up:" not that he meant to inveigh against a true knowledge of God, for in that case he would have accused himself; but, because he knew that some, puffed up by the pretense of knowledge, fall away from the love of God, and imagine that they themselves are perfect, for this reason that they set forth an imperfect Creator, with the view of putting an end to the pride which they feel on account of knowledge of this kind, he says, "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." Now there can be no greater conceit than this, that anyone should imagine he is better and more perfect than he who made and fashioned him, and imparted to him the breath of life, and commanded this very thing into existence. It is therefore better, as I have said, that one should have no knowledge whatever of anyone reason why a single thing in creation has been made, but should believe in God, and continue in his love, than that, puffed up through knowledge of this kind, he should fall away from that love which is the life of man; and that he should search after no other knowledge except (the knowledge of) Jesus Christ the Son of God, who was crucified for us, than that by subtle questions and hair-splitting expressions he should fall into impiety.
2. For how would it be, if anyone, gradually elated by attempts of the kind referred to, should, because the Lord said that "even the hairs of your head are all numbered," set about enquiring into the number of hairs on each one's head, and endeavour to search out the reason on account of which one man has so many, and another so many, since all have not an equal number, but many thousands on thousands are to be found with still varying numbers, on this account that some have larger and others smaller heads, some have bushy heads of hair, others thin, and others scarcely any hair at all, – and then those who imagine that they have discovered the number of the hairs, should endeavour to apply that for the commendation of their own sect which they have conceived? Or again, if anyone should, because of this expression which occurs in the Gospel, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and not one of them falls to the ground without the will of your Father," take occasion to reckon up the number of sparrows caught daily, whether over all the world or in some particular district, and to make enquiry as to the reason of so many having been captured yesterday, so many the day before, and so many again on this day, and should then join on the number of sparrows to his (particular) hypothesis, would he not in that case mislead himself altogether, and drive into absolute insanity those that agreed with him, since men are always eager in such matters to be thought to have discovered something more extraordinary than their masters?
3. But if anyone should ask us whether every number of all the things which have been made, and which are made, is known to God, and whether everyone of these (numbers) has, according to his providence, received that special amount which it contains; and on our agreeing that such is the case, and acknowledging that not one of the things which have been, or are, or shall be made, escapes the knowledge of God, but that through his providence everyone of them has obtained its nature, and rank, and number, and special quantity, and that nothing whatever either has been or is produced in vain or accidentally, but with great suitability (to the purpose intended), and in the exercise of transcendent knowledge, and that it was an admirable and truly divine intellect which could both distinguish and bring forth the proper causes of such a system: if, (I say), anyone, on obtaining our adherence and consent to this, should proceed to reckon up the sand and pebbles of the earth, yes also the waves of the sea and the stars of heaven, and should endeavour to think out the causes of the number which he imagines himself to have discovered, would not his labour be in vain, and would not such a man be justly declared mad, and destitute of reason, by all possessed of common sense? And the more he occupied himself beyond others in questions of this kind, and the more he imagines himself to find out beyond others, styling them unskillful, ignorant, and animal beings, because they do not enter into his so useless labour, the more is he (in reality) insane, foolish, struck so to speak with a thunderbolt, since indeed he does in no one point own himself inferior to God; but, by the knowledge which he imagines himself to have discovered, he changes God himself, and exalts his own opinion above the greatness of the Creator.
Proper way to interpret parables and obscure passages of Scripture
1. A sound mind, and one which does not expose its possessor to danger, and is devoted to piety and the love of truth, will eagerly meditate on those things which God has placed within the power of mankind, and has subjected to our knowledge, and will make advancement in (acquaintance with) them, rendering the knowledge of them easy to him by means of daily study. These things are such as fall (plainly) under our observation, and are clearly and unambiguously in express terms set forth in the Sacred Scriptures. And therefore the parables ought not to be adapted to ambiguous expressions. For, if this be not done, both he who explains them will do so without danger, and the parables will receive a like interpretation from all, and the body of truth remains entire, with a harmonious adaptation of its members, and without any collision (of its several parts). But to apply expressions which are not clear or evident to interpretations of the parables, such as everyone discovers for himself as inclination leads him, (is absurd.) For in this way no one will possess the rule of truth; but in accordance with the number of persons who explain the parables will be found the various systems of truth, in mutual opposition to each other, and setting forth antagonistic doctrines, like the questions current among the Gentile philosophers.
2. According to this course of procedure, therefore, man would always be enquiring but never finding, because he has rejected the very method of discovery. And when the Bridegroom comes, he who has his lamp untrimmed, and not burning with the brightness of a steady light, is classed among those who obscure the interpretations of the parables, forsaking him who by his plain announcements freely imparts gifts to all who come to him, and is excluded from his marriage-chamber. Since, therefore, the entire Scriptures, the prophets, and the Gospels, can be clearly, unambiguously, and harmoniously understood by all, although all do not believe them; and since they proclaim that one only God, to the exclusion of all others, formed all things by his word, whether visible or invisible, heavenly or earthly, in the water or under the earth, as I have shown from the very words of Scripture; and since the very system of creation to which we belong testifies, by what falls under our notice, that one Being made and governs it, – those persons will seem truly foolish who blind their eyes to such a clear demonstration, and will not behold the light of the announcement (made to them); but they put fetters on themselves, and everyone of them imagines, by means of their obscure interpretations of the parables, that he has found out a God of his own. For that there is nothing whatever openly, expressly, and without controversy said in any part of Scripture respecting the Father conceived of by those who hold a contrary opinion, they themselves testify, when they maintain that the Saviour privately taught these same things not to all, but to certain only of his disciples who could comprehend them, and who understood what was intended by him by means of arguments, enigmas, and parables. They come, (in fine), to this, that they maintain there is one Being who is proclaimed as God, and another as Father, he who is presented as such by means of parables and enigmas.
3. But since parables admit of many interpretations, what lover of truth will not acknowledge, that for them to assert God is to be searched out from these, while they desert what is certain, indubitable, and true, is the part of men who eagerly throw themselves into danger, and act as if destitute of reason? And is not such a course of conduct not to build one's house on a rock which is firm, strong, and placed in an open position, but on the shifting sand? Hence the overthrow of such a building is a matter of ease.
Perfect knowledge cannot be gained in the present life
1. Having therefore the truth itself as our rule and the testimony concerning God set clearly before us, we ought not, by running after numerous and diverse answers to questions, to cast away the firm and true knowledge of God. But it is much more suitable that we, directing our enquiries after this fashion, should exercise ourselves in the investigation of the mystery and administration of the living God, and should increase in the love of him who has done, and still does, so great things for us; but never should fall from the belief by which it is most clearly proclaimed that this Being alone is truly God and Father, who both formed this world, fashioned man, and bestowed the faculty of increase on his own creation, and called him upwards from lesser things to those greater ones which are in his own presence, just as he brings an infant which has been conceived in the womb into the light of the sun, and lays up wheat in the barn after he has given it full strength on the stalk. But it is one and the same Creator who both fashioned the womb and created the sun; and one and the same Lord who both reared the stalk of corn, increased and multiplied the wheat, and prepared the barn.
2. If, however, we cannot discover explanations of all those things in Scripture which are made the subject of investigation, yet let us not on that account seek after any other God besides him who really exists. For this is the very greatest impiety. We should leave things of that nature to God who created us, being most properly assured that the Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and his Spirit; but we, inasmuch as we are inferior to, and later in existence than, the Word of God and his Spirit, are on that very account destitute of the knowledge of his mysteries. And there is no cause for wonder if this is the case with us as respects things spiritual and heavenly, and such as require to be made known to us by revelation, since many even of those things which lie at our very feet (I mean such as belong to this world, which we handle, and see, and are in close contact with) transcend out knowledge, so that even these we must leave to God. For it is fitting that he should excel all (in knowledge). For how stands the case, for instance, if we endeavour to explain the cause of the rising of the Nile? We may say a great deal, plausible or otherwise, on the subject; but what is true, sure, and incontrovertible regarding it, belongs only to God. Then, again, the dwelling-place of birds – of those, I mean, which come to us in spring, but fly away again on the approach of autumn – though it is a matter connected with this world, escapes our knowledge. What explanation, again, can we give of the flow and ebb of the ocean, although everyone admits there must be a certain cause (for these phenomena)? Or what can we say as to the nature of those things which lie beyond it? What, moreover, can we say as to the formation of rain, lightning, thunder, gatherings of clouds, vapors, the bursting forth of winds, and such like things; of tell as to the storehouses of snow, hail, and other like things? (What do we know respecting) the conditions requisite for the preparation of clouds, or what is the real nature of the vapors in the sky? What as to the reason why the moon waxes and wanes, or what as to the cause of the difference of nature among various waters, metals, stones, and such like things? On all these points we may indeed say a great deal while we search into their causes, but God alone who made them can declare the truth regarding them.
3. If, therefore, even with respect to creation, there are some things (the knowledge of) which belongs only to God, and others which come with in the range of our own knowledge, what ground is there for complaint, if, in regard to those things which we investigate in the Scriptures (which are throughout spiritual), we are able by the grace of God to explain some of them, while we must leave others in the hands of God, and that not only in the present world, but also in that which is to come, so that God should for ever teach, and man should for ever learn the things taught him by God? As the apostle has said on this point, that, when other things have been done away, then these three, "faith, hope, and charity, shall endure." For faith, which has respect to our Master, endures unchangeably, assuring us that there is but one true God, and that we should truly love him for ever, seeing that he alone is our Father; while we hope ever to be receiving more and more from God, and to learn from him, because he is good, and possesses boundless riches, a kingdom without end, and instruction that can never be exhausted. If, therefore, according to the rule which I have stated, we leave some questions in the hands of God, we shall both preserve our faith uninjured, and shall continue without danger; and all Scripture, which has been given to us by God, shall be found by us perfectly consistent; and the parables shall harmonize with those passages which are perfectly plain; and those statements the meaning of which is clear, shall serve to explain the parables; and through the many diversified utterances (of Scripture) there shall be heard one harmonious melody in us, praising in hymns that God who created all things. If, for instance, anyone asks, "What was God doing before he made the world?" we reply that the answer to such a question lies with God himself. For that this world was formed perfect by God, receiving a beginning in time, the Scriptures teach us; but no Scripture reveals to us what God was employed about before this event. The answer therefore to that question remains with God, and it is not proper for us to aim at bringing forward foolish, rash, and blasphemous suppositions (in reply to it); so, as by one's imagining that he has discovered the origin of matter, he should in reality set aside God himself who made all things.
4. For consider, all you who invent such opinions, since the Father himself is alone called God, who has a real existence, but whom you style the Demiurge; since, moreover, the Scriptures acknowledge him alone as God; and yet again, since the Lord confesses him alone as his own Father, and knows no other, as I shall show from his very words, – when you style this very Being the fruit of defect, and the offspring of ignorance, and describe him as being ignorant of those things which are above him, with the various other allegations which you make regarding him, – consider the terrible blasphemy (you are so guilty of) against him who truly is God. You seem to affirm gravely and honestly enough that you believe in God; but then, as you are utterly unable to reveal any other God, you declare this very Being in whom you profess to believe, the fruit of defect and the offspring of ignorance. Now this blindness and foolish talking flow to you from the fact that you reserve nothing for God, but you wish to proclaim the nativity and production both of God himself, of his Ennoea, of his Logos, and Life, and Christ; and you form the idea of these from no other than a mere human experience; not understanding, as I said before, that it is possible, in the case of man, who is a compound being, to speak in this way of the mind of man and the thought of man; and to say that thought (ennoea) springs from mind (sensus), intention (enthymesis) again from thought, and word (logos) from intention (but which logos? for there is among the Greeks one logos which is the principle that thinks, and another which is the instrument by means of which thought is expressed); and (to say) that a man sometimes is at rest and silent, while at other times he speaks and is active. But since God is all mind, all reason, all active spirit, all light, and always exists one and the same, as it is both beneficial for us to think of God, and as we learn regarding him from the Scriptures, such feelings and divisions (of operation) cannot fittingly be ascribed to him. For our tongue, as being carnal, is not sufficient to minister to the rapidity of the human mind, inasmuch as that is of a spiritual nature, for which reason our word is restrained within us, and is not at once expressed as it has been conceived by the mind, but is uttered by successive efforts, just as the tongue is able to serve it.
5. But God being all Mind, and all Logos, both speaks exactly what he thinks, and thinks exactly what he speaks. For his thought is Logos, and Logos is Mind, and Mind comprehending all things is the Father himself. He, therefore, who speaks of the mind of God, and ascribes to it a special origin of its own, declares him a compound Being, as if God were one thing, and the original Mind another. So, again, with respect to Logos, when one attributes to him the third place of production from the Father; on which supposition he is ignorant of his greatness; and so Logos has been far separated from God. As for the prophet, he declares respecting him, "Who shall describe his generation?" But you pretend to set forth his generation from the Father, and you transfer the production of the word of men which takes place by means of a tongue to the Word of God, and so are righteously exposed by your own selves as knowing neither things human nor divine.
6. But, beyond reason inflated (with your own wisdom), you presumptuously maintain that you are acquainted with the unspeakable mysteries of God; while even the Lord, the very Son of God, allowed that the Father alone knows the very day and hour of judgment, when he plainly declares, "But of that day and that hour knows no man, neither the Son, but the Father only." If, then, the Son was not ashamed to ascribe the knowledge of that day to the Father only, but declared what was true regarding the matter, neither let us be ashamed to reserve for God those greater questions which may occur to us. For no man is superior to his master. If anyone, therefore, says to us, "How then was the Son produced by the Father?" we reply to him, that no man understands that production, or generation, or calling, or revelation, or by whatever name one may describe his generation, which is in fact altogether indescribable. Neither Valentinus, nor Marcion, nor Saturninus, nor Basilides, nor angels, nor archangels, nor principalities, nor powers (possess this knowledge), but the Father only who begot, and the Son who was begotten. Since therefore his generation is unspeakable, those who strive to set forth generations and productions cannot be in their right mind, inasmuch as they undertake to describe things which are indescribable. For that a word is uttered at the bidding of thought and mind, all men indeed well understand. Those, therefore, who have excogitated (the theory of) emissions have not discovered anything great, or revealed any abstruse mystery, when they have simply transferred what all understand to the only-begotten Word of God; and while they style him unspeakable and unnameable, they nevertheless set forth the production and formation of his first generation, as if they themselves had assisted at his birth, so assimilating him to the word of mankind formed by emissions.
7. But we shall not be wrong if we affirm the same thing also concerning the substance of matter, that God produced it. For we have learned from the Scriptures that God holds the supremacy over all things. But from what or in what way he produced it, neither has Scripture anywhere declared; nor does it become us to conjecture, so as, in accordance with our own opinions, to form endless conjectures concerning God, but we should leave such knowledge in the hands of God himself. In the same way, also, we must leave the cause why, while all things were made by God, certain of his creatures sinned and revolted from a state of submission to God, and others, indeed the great majority, persevered, and do still persevere, in (willing) subjection to him who formed them, and also of what nature those are who sinned, and of what nature those who persevere, – (we must, I say, leave the cause of these things) to God and his Word, to whom alone he said, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." But as for us, we still dwell on the earth, and have not yet sat down on his throne. For although the Spirit of the Saviour that is in him "searches all things, even the deep things of God," yet as to us "there are diversities of gifts, differences of administrations, and diversities of operations;" and we, while on the earth, as Paul also declares, "know in part, and prophesy in part." Since, therefore, we know but in part, we ought to leave all sorts of (difficult) questions in the hands of him who in some measure, (and that only), bestows grace on us. That eternal fire, (for instance), is prepared for sinners, both the Lord has plainly declared, and the rest of the Scriptures demonstrate. And that God fore-knew that this would happen, the Scriptures do in the same way demonstrate, since he prepared eternal fire from the beginning for those who were (afterwards) to transgress (his commandments); but the cause itself of the nature of such transgressors neither has any Scripture informed us, nor has an apostle told us, nor has the Lord taught us. It becomes us, therefore, to leave the knowledge of this matter to God, even as the Lord does of the day and hour (of judgment), and not to rush to such an extreme of danger, that we will leave nothing in the hands of God, even though we have received only a measure of grace (from him in this world). But when we investigate points which are above us, and with respect to which we cannot reach satisfaction, (it is absurd) that we should display such an extreme of presumption as to lay open God, and things which are not yet discovered, as if already we had found out, by the vain talk about emissions, God himself, the Creator of all things, and to assert that he derived his substance from apostasy and ignorance, so as to frame an impious hypothesis in opposition to God.
8. Moreover, they possess no proof of their system, which has but recently been invented by them, sometimes resting on certain numbers, sometimes on syllables, and sometimes, again, on names; and there are occasions, too, when, by means of those letters which are contained in letters, by parables not properly interpreted, or by certain (baseless) conjectures, they strive to establish that fabulous account which they have devised. For if anyone should enquire the reason why the Father, who has fellowship with the Son in all things, has been declared by the Lord alone to know the hour and the day (of judgment), he will find at present no more suitable, or becoming, or safe reason than this (since, indeed, the Lord is the only true Master), that we may learn through him that the Father is above all things. For "the Father," he says, "is greater than I." The Father, therefore, has been declared by our Lord to excel with respect to knowledge; for this reason, that we, too, as long as we are connected with the scheme of things in this world, should leave perfect knowledge, and such questions (as have been mentioned), to God, and should not by any chance, while we seek to investigate the sublime nature of the Father, fall into the danger of starting the question whether there is another God above God.
9. But if any lover of strife contradict what I have said, and also what the apostle affirms, that "we know in part, and prophesy in part," and imagine that he has acquired not a partial, but a universal, knowledge of all that exists, – being such a person as Valentinus, or Ptolemaeus, or Basilides, or any other of those who claim that they have searched out the deep things of God, – let him not (arraying himself in vainglory) boast that he has acquired greater knowledge than others with respect to those things which are invisible, or cannot be placed under our observation; but let him, by making diligent enquiry, and obtaining information from the Father, tell us the reasons (which we know not) of those things which are in this world, – as, for instance, the number of hairs on his own head, and the sparrows which are captured day by day, and such other points with which we are not previously acquainted, – so that we may credit him also with respect to more important points. But if those who are perfect do not yet understand the very things in their hands, and at their feet, and before their eyes, and on the earth, and especially the rule followed with respect to the hairs of their head, how can we believe them regarding things spiritual, and super-celestial, and those which, with a vain confidence, they assert to be above God? So much, then, I have said concerning numbers, and names, and syllables, and questions respecting such things as are above our comprehension, and concerning their improper expositions of the parables: (I add no more on these points), since you yourself may enlarge on them.
Views of the heretics on the future destiny of the soul and body
1. Let us return, however, to the remaining points of their system. For when they declare that, at the consummation of all things, their mother shall re-enter the Pleroma, and receive the Saviour as her consort; that they themselves, as being spiritual, when they have got rid of their animal souls, and become intellectual spirits, will be the consorts of the spiritual angels; but that the Demiurge, since they call him animal, will pass into the place of the Mother; that the souls of the righteous shall psychically repose in the intermediate place; – when they declare that like will be gathered to like, spiritual things to spiritual, while material things continue among those that are material, they do in fact contradict themselves, inasmuch as they no longer maintain that souls pass, on account of their nature, into the intermediate place to those substances which are similar to themselves, but (that they do so) on account of the deeds done (in the body), since they affirm that those of the righteous do pass (into that abode), but those of the impious continue in the fire. For if it is on account of their nature that all souls attain to the place of enjoyment, and all belong to the intermediate place simply because they are souls, as being so of the same nature with it, then it follows that faith is altogether superfluous, as was also the descent of the Saviour (to this world). If, on the other hand, it is on account of their righteousness (that they attain to such a place of rest), then it is no longer because they are souls but because they are righteous. But if souls would have perished unless they had been righteous, then righteousness must have power to save the bodies also (which these souls inhabited); for why should it not save them, since they, too, participated in righteousness? For if nature and substance are the means of salvation, then all souls shall be saved; but if righteousness and faith, why should these not save those bodies which, equally with the souls, will enter into immortality? For righteousness will appear, in matters of this kind, either impotent or unjust, if indeed it saves some substances through participating in it, but not others.
2. For it is manifest that those acts which are deemed righteous are performed in bodies. Either, therefore, all souls will necessarily pass into the intermediate place, and there will never be a judgment; or bodies, too, which have participated in righteousness, will attain to the place of enjoyment, along with the souls which have in the same way participated, if indeed righteousness is powerful enough to bring there those substances which have participated in it. And then the doctrine concerning the resurrection of bodies which we believe, will emerge true and certain (from their system); since, (as we hold), God, when he resuscitates our mortal bodies which preserved righteousness, will render them incorruptible and immortal. For God is superior to nature, and has in himself the disposition (to show kindness), because he is good; and the ability to do so, because he is mighty; and the faculty of fully carrying out his purpose, because he is rich and perfect.
3. But these men are in all points inconsistent with themselves, when they decide that all souls do not enter into the intermediate place, but those of the righteous only. For they maintain that, according to nature and substance, three sorts (of being) were produced by the Mother: the first, which proceeded from perplexity, and weariness, and fear – that is material substance; the second from impetuosity – that is animal substance; but that which she brought forth after the vision of those angels who wait on Christ, is spiritual substance. If, then, that substance which she brought forth will by all means enter into the Pleroma because it is spiritual, while that which is material will remain below because it is material, and shall be totally consumed by the fire which bums within it, why should not the whole animal substance go into the intermediate place, into which also they send the Demiurge? But what is it which shall enter within their Pleroma? For they maintain that souls shall continue in the intermediate place, while bodies, because they possess material substance, when they have been resolved into matter, shall be consumed by that fire which exists in it; but their body being so destroyed, and their soul remaining in the intermediate place, no part of man will any longer be left to enter in within the Pleroma. For the intellect of man – his mind, thought, mental intention, and such like – is nothing else than his soul; but the emotions and operations of the soul itself have no substance apart from the soul. What part of them, then, will still remain to enter into the Pleroma? For they themselves, in as far as they are souls, remain in the intermediate place; while, in as far as they are body, they will be consumed with the rest of matter.
Styling themselves spiritual, while their demiurge is declared to be animal!
1. Such being the state of the case, these infatuated men declare that they rise above the Creator (Demiurge); and, inasmuch as they proclaim themselves superior to that God who made and adorned the heavens, and the earth, and all things that are in them, and maintain that they themselves are spiritual, while they are in fact shamefully carnal on account of their so great impiety, – affirming that He, who has made his angels spirits, and is clothed with light as with a garment, and holds the circle of the earth, so to speak, in his hand, in whose sight its inhabitants are counted as grasshoppers, and who is the Creator and Lord of all spiritual substance, is of an animal nature, – they do beyond doubt and truly betray their own madness; and, as if truly struck with thunder, even more than those giants who are spoken of in (heathen) fables, they lift up their opinions against God, inflated by a vain presumption and unstable glory, – men for whose purgation all the hellebore on earth would not suffice, so that they should get rid of their intense folly.
2. The superior person is to be proved by his deeds. In what way, then, can they show themselves superior to the Creator (that I too, through the necessity of the argument in hand, may come down to the level of their impiety, instituting a comparison between God and foolish men, and, by descending to their argument, may often refute them by their own doctrines; but in so acting may God be merciful to me, for I venture on these statements, not with the view of comparing him to them, but of convicting and overthrowing their insane opinions) – they, for whom many foolish persons entertain so great an admiration, as if, indeed, they could learn from them something more precious than the truth itself! That expression of Scripture, "Seek, and you shall find," they interpret as spoken with this view, that they should discover themselves to be above the Creator, styling themselves greater and better than God, and calling themselves spiritual, but the Creator animal; and (affirming) that for this reason they rise upwards above God, for that they enter in within the Pleroma, while he remains in the intermediate place. Let them, then, prove themselves by their deeds superior to the Creator; for the superior person ought to be proved not by what is said, but by what has a real existence.
3. What work, then, will they point to as having been accomplished through themselves by the Saviour, or by their Mother, either greater, or more glorious, or more adorned with wisdom, than those which have been produced by him who was the disposer of all around us? What heavens have they established? What earth have they founded? What stars have they called into existence? or what lights of heaven have they caused to shine? Within what circles, moreover, have they confined them? or, what rains, or frosts, or snows, each suited to the season, and to every special climate, have they brought on the earth? And again, in opposition to these, what heat or dryness have they set over against them? or, what rivers have they made to flow? What fountains have they brought forth? With what flowers and trees have they adorned this sublunary world? or, what multitude of animals have they formed, some rational, and others irrational, but all adorned with beauty? And who can enumerate one by one all the remaining objects which have been constituted by the power of God, and are governed by his wisdom? or who can search out the greatness of that God who made them? And what can be told of those existences which are above heaven, and which do not pass away, such as angels, archangels, Thrones, Dominions, and Powers innumerable? Against what one of these works, then, do they set themselves in opposition? What have they similar to show, as having been made through themselves, or by themselves, since even they too are the Workmanship and creatures of this (Creator)? For whether the Saviour or their Mother (to use their own expressions, proving them false by means of the very terms they themselves employ) used this Being, as they maintain, to make an image of those things which are within the Pleroma, and of all those beings which she saw waiting on the Saviour, she used him (the Demiurge) as being (in a sense) superior to herself, and better fitted to accomplish her purpose through his instrumentality; for she would by no means form the images of such important beings by means of an inferior, but by a superior, agent.
4. For, (be it observed), they themselves, according to their own declarations, were then existing, as a spiritual conception, in consequence of the contemplation of those beings who were arranged as satellites around Pandora. And they indeed continued useless, the Mother accomplishing nothing through their instrumentality, – an idle conception, owing their being to the Saviour, and fit for nothing, for not a thing appears to have been done by them. But the God who, according to them, was produced, while, as they argue, inferior to themselves (for they maintain that he is of an animal nature), was nevertheless the active agent in all things, efficient, and fit for the work to be done, so that by him the images of all things were made; and not only were these things which are seen formed by him, but also all things invisible, angels, archangels, Dominations, Powers, and Virtues, – (by him, I say), as being the superior, and capable of ministering to her desire. But it seems that the Mother made nothing whatever through their instrumentality, as indeed they themselves acknowledge; so that one may justly reckon them as having been an abortion produced by the painful travail of their Mother. For no midwives performed their office on her, and therefore they were cast forth as an abortion, useful for nothing, and formed to accomplish no work of the Mother. And yet they describe themselves as being superior to him by whom so vast and admirable works have been accomplished and arranged, although by their own reasoning they are found to be so wretchedly inferior!
5. It is as if there were two iron tools, or instruments, the one of which was continually in the workman's hands and in constant use, and by the use of which he made whatever he pleased, and displayed his artand skill, but the other of which remained idle and useless, never being called into operation, the workman never appearing to make anything by it, and making no use of it in any of his labours; and then one should maintain that this useless, and idle, and unemployed tool was superior in nature and value to that which the artisan employed in his work, and by means of which he acquired his reputation. Such a man, if any such were found, would justly be regarded as imbecile, and not in his right mind. And so should those be judged of who speak of themselves as being spiritual and superior, and of the Creator as possessed of an animal nature, and maintain that for this reason they will ascend on high, and penetrate within the Pleroma to their own husbands (for, according to their own statements, they are themselves feminine), but that God (the Creator) is of an inferior nature, and therefore remains in the intermediate place, while all the time they bring forward no proofs of these assertions: for the better man is shown by his works, and all works have been accomplished by the Creator; but they, having nothing worthy of reason to point to as having been produced by themselves, are labouring under the greatest and most incurable madness.
6. If, however, they labour to maintain that, while all material things, such as the heaven, and the whole world which exists below it, were indeed formed by the Demiurge, yet all things of a more spiritual nature than these, – those, namely, which are above the heavens, such as Principalities, Powers, angels, archangels, Dominations, Virtues, – were produced by a spiritual process of birth (which they declare themselves to be), then, in the first place, we prove from the authoritative Scriptures that all the things which have been mentioned, visible and invisible, have been made by one God. For these men are not more to be depended on than the Scriptures; nor ought we to give up the declarations of the Lord, Moses, and the rest of the prophets, who have proclaimed the truth, and give credit to them, who do indeed utter nothing of a sensible nature, but rave about untenable opinions. And, in the next place, if those things which are above the heavens were really made through their instrumentality, then let them inform us what is the nature of things invisible, recount the number of the angels, and the ranks of the archangels, reveal the mysteries of the Thrones, and teach us the differences between the Dominations, Principalities, Powers, and Virtues. But they can say nothing respecting them; therefore these beings were not made by them. If, on the other hand, these were made by the Creator, as was really the case, and are of a spiritual and holy character, then it follows that he who produced spiritual beings is not himself of an animal nature, and so their fearful system of blasphemy is overthrown.
7. For that there are spiritual creatures in the heavens, all the Scriptures loudly proclaim; and Paul expressly testifies that there are spiritual things when he declares that he was caught up into the third heaven, and again, that he was carried away to paradise, and heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter. But what did that profit him, either his entrance into paradise or his assumption into the third heaven, since all these things are still but under the power of the Demiurge, if, as some venture to maintain, he had already begun to be a spectator and a hearer of those mysteries which are affirmed to be above the Demiurge? For if it is true that he was becoming acquainted with that order of things which is above the Demiurge, he would by no means have remained in the regions of the Demiurge, and that so as not even thoroughly to explore even these (for, according to their way of speaking, there still lay before him four heavens, if he were to approach the Demiurge, and so behold the whole seven lying beneath him); but he might have been admitted, perhaps, into the intermediate place, that is, into the presence of the Mother, that he might receive instruction from her as to the things within the Pleroma. For that inner man which was in him, and spoke in him, as they say, though invisible, could have attained not only to the third heaven, but even as far as the presence of their Mother. For if they maintain that they themselves, that is, their (inner) man, at once ascends above the Demiurge, and departs to the Mother, much more must this have occurred to the (inner) man of the apostle; for the Demiurge would not have hindered him, being, as they assert, himself already subject to the Saviour. But if he had tried to hinder him, the effort would have gone for nothing. For it is not possible that he should prove stronger than the providence of the Father, and that when the tuner man is said to be invisible even to the Demiurge. But since he (Paul) has described that assumption of himself up to the third heaven as something great and pre-eminent, it cannot be that these men ascend above the seventh heaven, for they are certainly not superior to the apostle. If they do maintain that they are more excellent than he, let them prove themselves so by their works, for they have never pretended to anything like (what he describes as occurring to himself). And for this reason he added, "Whether in the body, or whether out of the body, God knows," that the body might neither be thought to be a partaker in that vision, as if it could have participated in those things which it had seen and heard; nor, again, that anyone should say that he was not carried higher on account of the weight of the body; but it is therefore so far permitted even without the body to behold spiritual mysteries which are the operations of God, who made the heavens and the earth, and formed man, and placed him in paradise, so that those should be spectators of them who, like the apostle, have reached a high degree of perfection in the love of God. 8. This Being, therefore, also made spiritual things, of which, as far as to the third heaven, the apostle was made a spectator, and heard unspeakable words which it is not possible for a man to utter, inasmuch as they are spiritual; and he himself bestows, (gifts) on the worthy as inclination prompts him, for paradise is his; and he is truly the Spirit of God, and not an animal Demiurge, otherwise he should never have created spiritual things. But if he really is of an animal nature, then let them inform us by whom spiritual things were made. They have no proof which they can give friar this was done by means of the travail of their Mother, which they declare themselves to be. For, not to speak of spiritual things, these men cannot create even a fly, or a gnat, or any other small and insignificant animal, without observing that law by which from the beginning animals have been and are naturally produced by God – through the deposition of seed in those that are of the same species. Nor was anything formed by the Mother alone; (for) they say that this Demiurge was produced by her, and that he was the Lord (the author) of all creation. And they maintain that he who is the Creator and Lord of all that has been made is of an animal nature, while they assert that they themselves are spiritual, – they who are neither the authors nor lords of anyone work, not only of those things which are extraneous to them, but not even of their own bodies! Moreover, these men, who call themselves spiritual, and superior to the Creator, do often suffer much bodily pain, sorely against their will.
9. Justly, therefore, do we accuse them of having departed far and wide from the truth. For if the Saviour formed the things which have been made, by means of him (the Demiurge), he is proved in that case not to be inferior but superior to them, since he is found to have been the former even of themselves; for they, too, have a place among created things. How, then, can it be argued that these men indeed are spiritual, but that he by whom they were created is of an animal nature? Or, again, if (which is indeed the only true supposition, as I have shown by numerous arguments of the very clearest nature) he (the Creator) made all things freely, and by his own power, and arranged and finished them, and his will is the substance of all things, then he is discovered to be the one only God who created all things, who alone is Omnipotent, and who is the only Father rounding and forming all things, visible and invisible, such as may be perceived by our senses and such as cannot, heavenly and earthly, "by the word of his power;" and he has fitted and arranged all things by his wisdom, while he contains all things, but he himself can be contained by no one: he is the Former, he the Builder, he the Discoverer, he the Creator, he the Lord of all; and there is no one besides him, or above him, neither has he any mother, as they falsely ascribe to him; nor is there a second God, as Marcion has imagined; nor is there a Pleroma of thirty Aeons, which has been shown a vain supposition; nor is there any such being as Bythus or Proarche; nor are there a series of heavens; nor is there a virginal light, nor an unnameable Aeon, nor, in fact, anyone of those things which are madly dreamt of by these, and by all the heretics. But there is one only God, the Creator – he who is above every Principality, and Power, and Dominion, and Virtue: he is Father, he is God, he the Founder, he the Maker, he the Creator, who made those things by himself, that is, through his Word and his Wisdom – heaven and earth, and the seas, and all things that are in them: he is just; he is good; he it is who formed man, who planted paradise, who made the world, who gave rise to the flood, who saved Noah; he is the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of the living: he it is whom the Law proclaims, whom the prophets preach, whom Christ reveals, whom the apostles make known to us, and in whom the Church believes. He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: through his Word, who is his Son, through him he is revealed and manifested to all to whom he is revealed; for those (only) know him to whom the Son has revealed him. But the Son, eternally co-existing with the Father, from of old, yes, from the beginning, always reveals the Father to angels, archangels, Powers, Virtues, and all to whom he wills that God should be revealed.
Recapitulation and application of the foregoing arguments
1. Those, then, who are of the school of Valentinus being overthrown, the whole multitude of heretics are, in fact, also subverted. For all the arguments I have advanced against their Pleroma, and with respect to those things which are beyond it, showing how the Father of all is shut up and circumscribed by that which is beyond him (if, indeed, there be anything beyond him), and how there is an absolute necessity (on their theory) to conceive of many Fathers, and many Pleromas, and many creations of worlds, beginning with one set and ending with another, as existing on every side; and that all (the beings referred to) continue in their own domains, and do not curiously intermeddle with others, since, indeed, no common interest nor any fellowship exists between them; and that there is no other God of all, but that that name belongs only to the Almighty; – (all these arguments, I say), will in the same way apply against those who are of the school of Marcion, and Simon, and Meander, or whatever others there may be who, like them, cut off that creation with which we are connected from the Father. The arguments, again, which I have employed against those who claim that the Father of all no doubt contains all things, but that the creation to which we belong was not formed by him, but by a certain other power, or by angels having no knowledge of the Propator, who is surrounded as a centre by the immense extent of the universe, just as a stain is by the (surrounding) cloak; when I showed that it is not a probable supposition that any other being than the Father of all formed that creation to which we belong, – these same arguments will apply against the followers of Saturninus, Basilides, Carpocrates, and the rest of the Gnostics, who express similar opinions. Those statements, again, which have been made with respect to the emanations, and the Aeons, and the (supposed state of) degeneracy, and the inconstant character of their Mother, equally overthrow Basilides, and all who are falsely named Gnostics, who do, in fact, just repeat the same views under different names, but do, to a greater extent than the former, transfer those things which lie outside of the truth to the system of their own doctrine. And the remarks I have made respecting numbers will also apply against all those who misappropriate things belonging to the truth for the support of a system of this kind. And all that has been said respecting the Creator (Demiurge) to show that he alone is God and Father of all, and whatever remarks may yet be made in the following books, I apply against the heretics at large. The more moderate and reasonable among them you will convert and convince, so as to lead them no longer to blaspheme their Creator, and Maker, and Sustainer, and Lord, nor to ascribe his origin to defect and ignorance; but the fierce, and terrible, and irrational (among them) you will drive far from you, that you may no longer have to endure their idle loquaciousness.
2. Moreover, those also will be so confuted who belong to Simon and Carpocrates, and if there be any others who are said to perform miracles – who do not perform what they do either through the power of God, or in connection with the truth, nor for the well-being of men, but for the sake of destroying and misleading mankind, by means of magical deceptions, and with universal deceit, so entailing greater harm than good on those who believe them, with respect to the point on which they lead them astray. For they can neither confer sight on the blind, nor hearing on the deaf, nor chase away all sorts of demons – (none, indeed), except those that are sent into others by themselves, if they can even do so much as this. Nor can they cure the weak, or the lame, or the paralytic, or those who are distressed in any other part of the body, as has often been done in regard to bodily infinity. Nor can they furnish effective remedies for those external accidents which may occur. And so far are they from being able to raise the dead, as the Lord raised them, and the apostles did by means of prayer, and as has been frequently done in the brotherhood on account of some necessity – the entire Church in that particular locality entreating (the boon) with much fasting and prayer, the spirit of the dead man has returned, and he has been bestowed in answer to the prayers of the saints – that they do not even believe this can be possibly be done, (and hold) that the resurrection from the dead is simply an acquaintance with that truth which they proclaim.
3. Since, therefore, there exist among them error and misleading influences, and magical illusions are impiously performed in the sight of men; but in the Church, sympathy, and compassion, and steadfastness, and truth, for the aid and encouragement of mankind, are not only displayed without fee or reward, but we ourselves lay out for the benefit of others our own means; and inasmuch as those who are cured very frequently do not possess the things which they require, they receive them from us; – (since such is the case), these men are in this way undoubtedly proved to be utter aliens from the divine nature, the beneficence of God, and all spiritual excellence. But they are altogether full of deceit of every kind, apostate inspiration, demoniacal working, and the phantasms of idolatry, and are in reality the predecessors of that dragon who, by means of a deception of the same kind, will with his tail cause a third part of the stars to fall from their place, and will cast them down to the earth. It behooves us to flee from them as we would from him; and the greater the display with which they are said to perform (their marvels), the more carefully should we watch them, as having been endowed with a greater spirit of wickedness. If anyone will consider the prophecy referred to, and the daily practices of these men, he will find that their way of acting is one and the same with the demons.
Further blasphemous doctrines of the heretics
1. Moreover, this impious opinion of theirs with respect to actions – namely, that it is incumbent on them to have experience of all kinds of deeds, even the most abominable – is refuted by the teaching of the Lord, with whom not only is the adulterer rejected, but also the man who desires to commit adultery; and not only is the actual murderer held guilty of having killed another to his own damnation, but the man also who is angry with his brother without a cause: who commanded (his disciples) not only not to hate men, but also to love their enemies; and enjoined them not only not to swear falsely, but not even to swear at all; and not only not to speak evil of their neighbours, but not even to style anyone "Raca" and "fool;" (declaring) that otherwise they were in danger of hell-fire; and not only not to strike, but even, when themselves struck, to present the other cheek (to those that maltreated them); and not only not to refuse to give up the property of others, but even if their own were taken away, not to demand it back again from those that took it; and not only not to injure their neighbours, nor to do them any evil, but also, when themselves wickedly dealt with, to be patient, and to show kindness towards those (that injured them), and to pray for them, that by means of repentance they might be saved – so that we should in no respect imitate the arrogance, lust, and pride of others. Since, therefore, he whom these men boast of as their Master, and of whom they affirm that he had a soul greatly better and more highly toned than others, did indeed, with much earnestness, command certain things to be done as being good and excellent, and certain things to be abstained from not only in their actual perpetration, but even in the thoughts which lead to their performance, as being wicked, pernicious, and abominable, – how then can they escape being put to confusion, when they affirm that such a Master was more highly toned (in spirit) and better than others, and yet manifestly give instruction of a kind utterly opposed to his teaching? And, again, if there were really no such thing as good and evil, but certain things were deemed righteous, and certain others unrighteous, in human opinion only, he never would have expressed himself so in his teaching: "The righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father;" but he shall send the unrighteous, and those who do not the works of righteousness, "into everlasting fire, where their worm shall not die, and the fire shall not be quenched."
2. When they further maintain that it is cumbent on them to have experience of every kind of work and conduct, so that, if it be possible, accomplishing all during one manifestation in this life, they may (at once) pass over to the state of perfection, they are, by no chance, found striving to do those things which wait on virtue, and are labourious, glorious, and skillful, which also are approved universally as being good. For if it be necessary to go through every work and every kind of operation, they ought, in the first place, to learn all the arts: all of them, (I say), whether referring to theory or practice, whether they be acquired by self-denial, or are mastered by means of labour, exercise, and perseverance; as, for example, every kind of music, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and all such as are occupied with intellectual pursuits: then, again, the whole study of medicine, and the knowledge of plants, so as to become acquainted with those which are prepared for the health of man; the art of painting and sculpture, brass and marble work, and the kindred arts: moreover, (they have to study) every kind of country labour, the veterinary art, pastoral occupations, the various kinds of skilled labour, which are said to pervade the whole circle of (human) exertion; those, again, connected with a maritime life, gymnastic exercises, hunting, military and kingly pursuits, and as many others as may exist, of which, with the utmost labour, they could not learn the tenth, or even the thousandth part, in the whole course of their lives. The fact indeed is, that they endeavour to learn none of these, although they maintain that it is incumbent on them to have experience of every kind of work; but, turning aside to voluptuousness, and lust, and abominable actions, they stand self-condemned when they are tried by their own doctrine. For, since they are destitute of all those (virtues) which have been mentioned, they will (of necessity) pass into the destruction of fire. These men, while they boast of Jesus as being their Master, do in fact emulate the philosophy of Epicurus and the indifference of the Cynics, (calling Jesus their Master), who not only turned his disciples away from evil deeds, but even from (wicked) words and thoughts, as I have already shown.
3. Again, while they assert that they possess souls from the same sphere as Jesus, and that they are like to him, sometimes even maintaining that they are superior; while (they affirm that they were) produced, like him, for the performance of works tending to the benefit and establishment of mankind, they are found doing nothing of the same or a like kind (with his actions), nor what can in any respect be brought into comparison with them. And if they have in truth accomplished anything (remarkable) by means of magic, they strive (in this way) deceitfully to lead foolish people astray, since they confer no real benefit or blessing on those over whom they declare that they exert) supernatural) power; but, bringing forward mere boys (as the subjects on whom they practice), and deceiving their sight, while they exhibit phantasms that instantly cease, and do not endure even a moment of time, they are proved to be like, not Jesus our Lord, but Simon the magician. It is certain, too, from the fact that the Lord rose from the dead on the third day, and manifested himself to his disciples, and was in their sight received up into heaven, that, inasmuch as these men die, and do not rise again, nor manifest themselves to any, they are proved as possessing souls in no respect similar to that of Jesus.
4. If, however, they maintain that the Lord, too, performed such works simply in appearance, we shall refer them to the prophetical writings, and prove from these both that all things were so predicted regarding him, and did take place undoubtedly, and that he is the only Son of God. Therefore, also, those who are in truth his disciples, receiving grace from him, do in his name perform (miracles), so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have so been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe (in Christ), and join themselves to the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands on them, and they are made whole. Yes, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years. And what shall I more say? It is not possible to name the number of the gifts which the Church, (scattered) throughout the whole world, has received from God, in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and which she exerts day by day for the benefit of the Gentiles, neither practicing deception on any, nor taking any reward from them Ion account of such miraculous interpositions). For as she has received freely from God, freely also does she minister (to others).
5. Nor does she perform anything by means of angelic invocations, or by incantations, or by any other wicked curious art; but, directing her prayers to the Lord, who made all things, in a pure, sincere, and straightforward spirit, and calling on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, she has been accustomed to work miracles for the advantage of mankind, and not to lead them into error. If, therefore, the name of our Lord Jesus Christ even now confers benefits (on men), and cures thoroughly and effectively all who anywhere believe on him, but not that of Simon, or Menander, or Carpocrates, or of any other man whatever, it is manifest that. When he was made man, he held fellowship with his own creation, and did all things truly through the power of God, according to the will of the Father of all, as the prophets had foretold. But what these things were, shall be described in dealing with the proofs to be found in the prophetical writings.
Absurdity of the doctrine of the transmigration of souls
1. We may subvert their doctrine as to transmigration from body to body by this fact, that souls remember nothing whatever of the events which took place in their previous states of existence. For if they were sent forth with this object, that they should have experience of every kind of action, they must of necessity retain a memory of those things which have been previously accomplished, that they might fill up those in which they were still deficient, and not by always hovering, without intermission, round the same pursuits, spend their labour wretchedly in vain (for the mere union of a body (with a soul) could not altogether extinguish the memory and contemplation of those things which had formerly been experienced), and especially as they came (into the world) for this very purpose. For as, when the body is asleep and at rest, whatever things the soul sees by herself, and does in a vision, recollecting many of these, she also communicates them to the body; and as it happens that, when one awakes, perhaps after a long time, he relates what he saw in a dream, so also would he undoubtedly remember those things which he did before he came into this particular body. For if that which is seen only for a very brief space of time, or has been conceived of simply in a phantasm, and by the soul alone, by means of a dream, is remembered after she has mingled again with the body, and been dispersed through all the members, much more would she remember those things in connection with which she stayed during so long a time, even throughout the whole period of a bypast life.
2. With reference to these objections, Plato, that ancient Athenian, who also was the first to introduce this opinion, when he could not set them aside, invented the (notion of) a cup of oblivion, imagining that in this way he would escape this son of difficulty. He attempted no kind of proof (of his supposition), but simply replied dogmatically (to the objection in question), that when souls enter into this life, they are caused to drink of oblivion by that demon who watches their entrance (into the world), before they effect an entrance into the bodies (assigned them). It escaped him, that (by speaking so) he fell into another greater perplexity. For if the cup of oblivion, after it has been drunk, can obliterate the memory of all the deeds that have been done, how, O Plato, do you obtain the knowledge of this fact (since your soul is now in the body), that, before it entered into the body, it was made to drink by the demon a drug which caused oblivion? For if you have a memory of the demon, and the cup, and the entrance (into life), you ought also to be acquainted with other things; but if, on the other hand, you are ignorant of them, then there is no truth in the story of the demon, nor in the cup of oblivion prepared with art.
3. In opposition, again, to those who affirm that the body itself is the drug of oblivion, this observation may be made: How, then, does it come to pass, that whatever the soul sees by her own instrumentality, both in dreams and by reflection or earnest mental exertion, while the body is passive, she remembers, and reports to her neighbours? But, again, if the body itself were (the cause of) oblivion, then the soul, as existing in the body, could not remember even those things which were perceived long ago either by means of the eyes or the ears; but, as soon as the eye was turned from the things looked at, the memory of them also would undoubtedly be destroyed. For the soul, as existing in the very (cause of) oblivion, could have no knowledge of anything else than that only which it saw at the present moment. How, too, could it become acquainted with divine things, and retain a memory of them while existing in the body, since, as they maintain, the body itself is (the cause of) oblivion? But the prophets also, when they were on the earth, remembered likewise, on their returning to their ordinary state of mind, whatever things they spiritually saw or heard in visions of heavenly objects, and related them to others. The body, therefore, does not cause the soul to forget those things which have been spiritually witnessed; but the soul teaches the body, and shares with it the spiritual vision which it has enjoyed.
4. For the body is not possessed of greater power than the soul, since indeed the former is inspired, and vivified, and increased, and held together by the latter; but the soul possesses and rules over the body. It is doubtless retarded in its velocity, just in the exact proportion in which the body shares in its motion; but it never loses the knowledge which properly belongs to it. For the body may be compared to an instrument; but the soul is possessed of the reason of an artist. As, therefore, the artist finds the idea of a work to spring up rapidly in his mind, but can only carry it out slowly by means of an instrument, owing to the want of perfect pliability in the matter acted on, and so the rapidity of his mental operation, being blended with the slow action of the instrument, gives rise to a moderate kind of movement (towards the end contemplated); so also the soul, by being mixed up with the body belonging to it, is in a certain measure impeded, its rapidity being blended with the body's slowness. Yet it does not lose altogether its own peculiar powers; but while, so to speak, sharing life with the body, it does not itself cease to live. So, too, while communicating other things to the body, it neither loses the knowledge of them, nor the memory of those things which have been witnessed.
5. If, therefore, the soul remembers nothing of what took place in a former state of existence, but has a perception of those things which are here, it follows that she never existed in other bodies, nor did things of which she has no knowledge, nor (once) knew things which she cannot (now mentally) contemplate. But, as each one of us receives his body through the skillful working of God, so does he also possess his soul. For God is not so poor or destitute in resources, that he cannot confer its own proper soul on each individual body, even as he gives it also its special character. And therefore, when the number (fixed on) is completed, (that number) which he had predetermined in his own counsel, all those who have been enrolled for life (eternal) will rise again, having their own bodies, and having also their own souls, and their own spirits, in which they had pleased God. Those, on the other hand, who are worthy of punishment, shall go away into it, they too having their own souls and their own bodies, in which they stood apart from the grace of God. Both classes shall then cease from any longer begetting and being begotten, from marrying and being given in marriage; so that the number of mankind, corresponding to the fore-ordination of God, being completed, may fully realize the scheme formed by the Father.
Souls can be recognised in the afterlife and are immortal
1. The Lord has taught with very great fullness, that souls not only continue to exist, not by passing from body to body, but that they preserve the same form (in their separate state) as the body had to which they were adapted, and that they remember the deeds which they did in this state of existence, and from which they have now ceased, – in that narrative which is recorded respecting the rich man and that Lazarus who found repose in the bosom of Abraham. In this account he states that Dives knew Lazarus after death, and Abraham in the same way, and that each one of these persons continued in his own proper position, and that (Dives) requested Lazarus to be sent to relieve him – (Lazarus), on whom he did not (formerly) bestow even the crumbs (which fell) from his table. (He tells us) also of the answer given by Abraham, who was acquainted not only with what respected himself, but Dives also, and who enjoined those who did not wish to come into that place of torment to believe Moses and the prophets, and to receive the preaching of him who was to rise again from the dead. By these things, then, it is plainly declared that souls continue to exist that they do not pass from body to body, that they possess the form of a man, so that they may be recognised, and retain the memory of things in this world; moreover, that the gift of prophecy was possessed by Abraham, and that each class of souls) receives a habitation such as it has deserved, even before the judgment.
2. But if any persons at this point maintain that those souls, which only began a little while ago to exist, cannot endure for any length of time; but that they must, on the one hand, either be unborn, in order that they may be immortal, or if they have had a beginning in the way of generation, that they should die with the body itself – let them learn that God alone, who is Lord of all, is without beginning and without end, being truly and for ever the same, and always remaining the same unchangeable Being. But all things which proceed from him, whatever have been made, and are made, do indeed receive their own beginning of generation, and on this account are inferior to him who formed them, inasmuch as they are not unbegotten. Nevertheless they endure, and extend their existence into a long series of ages in accordance with the will of God their Creator; so that he grants those who they should be so formed at the beginning, and that they should so exist afterwards.
3. For as the heaven which is above us, the firmament, the sun, the moon, the rest of the stars, and all their grandeur, although they had no previous existence, were called into being, and continue throughout a long course of time according to the will of God, so also anyone who thinks so respecting souls and spirits, and, in fact, respecting all created things, will not by any means go far astray, inasmuch as all things that have been made had a beginning when they were formed, but endure as long as God wills that they should have an existence and continuance. The prophetic Spirit bears testimony to these opinions, when he declares, "For he spoke, and they were made; he commanded, and they were created: he has established them for ever, yes, forever and ever." And again, he so speaks respecting the salvation of man: "He asked life of you, and you gave him length of days for ever and ever;" indicating that it is the Father of all who imparts continuance for ever and ever on those who are saved. For life does not arise from us, nor from our own nature; but it is bestowed according to the grace of God. And therefore he who shall preserve the life bestowed on him, and give thanks to him who imparted it, shall receive also length of days for ever and ever. But he who shall reject it, and prove himself ungrateful to his Maker, inasmuch as he has been created, and has not recognised him who bestowed (the gift on him), deprives himself of (the privilege of) continuance for ever and ever. And, for this reason, the Lord declared to those who showed themselves ungrateful towards him: "If you have not been faithful in that which is little, who will give you that which is great?" indicating that those who, in this brief temporal life, have shown themselves ungrateful to him who bestowed it, shall justly not receive from him length of days for ever and ever.
4. But as the animal body is certainly not itself the soul, yet has fellowship with the soul as long as God pleases; so the soul herself is not life, but partakes in that life bestowed on her by God. Therefore also the prophetic word declares of the first-formed man, "He became a living soul," teaching us that by the participation of life the soul became alive; so that the soul, and the life which it possesses, must be understood as being separate existences. When God therefore bestows life and perpetual duration, it comes to pass that even souls which did not previously exist should from now on endure (for ever), since God has both willed that they should exist, and should continue in existence. For the will of God ought to govern and rule in all things, while all other things give way to him, are in subjection, and devoted to his service. So far, then, let me speak concerning the creation and the continued duration of the soul.
Basilides' opinion that the prophets were inspired by different gods
1. Moreover, in addition to what has been said, Basilides himself will, according to his own principles, find it necessary to maintain not only that there are three hundred and sixty-five heavens made in succession by one another, but that an immense and innumerable multitude of heavens have always been in the process of being made, and are being made, and will continue to be made, so that the formation of heavens of this kind can never cease. For if from the efflux of the first heaven the second was made after its likeness, and the third after the likeness of the second, and so on with all the remaining subsequent ones, then it follows, as a matter of necessity, that from the efflux of our heaven, which he indeed terms the last, another be formed like to it, and from that again a third; and so there can never cease, either the process of efflux from those heavens which have been already made, or the manufacture of (new) heavens, but the operation must go on ad infinitum, and give rise to a number of heavens which will be altogether indefinite.
2. The remainder of those who are falsely termed Gnostics, and who maintain that the prophets uttered their prophecies under the inspiration of different gods, will be easily overthrown by this fact, that all the prophets proclaimed one God and Lord, and that the very Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things which are in them; while they moreover announced the advent of his Son, as I shall demonstrate from the Scriptures themselves, in the books which follow.RD:p> 3. If, however, any object that, in the Hebrew language, different expressions (to represent God) occur in the Scriptures, such as Sabaoth, Eloe, Adonai, and all other such terms, striving to prove from these that there are different powers and gods, let them learn that all expressions of this kind are but announcements and appellations of one and the same Being. For the term Eloe in the Jewish language denotes God, while Eloeim and Elaeuth in the Hebrew language signify "that which contains all." As to the appellation Adonai, sometimes it denotes what is nameable and admirable; but at other times, when the letter Dals in it is doubled, and the word receives an initial guttural sound – so Addonai – (it signifies), "One who bounds and separates the land from the water," so that the water should not subsequently submerge the land. In the same way also, Sabaoth, when it (is spelled by a Greek Omega in the last syllable (Sabaoth), denotes "a voluntary agent;" but when it is spelled with a Greek Omicron – as, for instance, Sabaoth – it expresses "the first heaven." In the same way, too, the word Jaoth, when the last syllable is made long and aspirated, denotes "a predetermined measure;" but when it is written shortly by the Greek letter Omicron, namely Jaoth, it signifies "one who puts evils to flight." All the other expressions likewise bring out the title of one and the same Being; as, for example (in English), The Lord of Powers, The Father of all, God Almighty, The Most High, The Creator, The Maker, and such like. These are not the names and titles of a succession of different beings, but of one and the same, by means of which the one God and Father is revealed, he who contains all things, and grants to all the boon of existence.
4. Now, that the preaching of the apostles, the authoritative teaching of the Lord, the announcements of the prophets, the dictated utterances of the apostles, and the ministration of the Law – all of which praise one and the same Being, the God and Father of all, and not many different beings, nor one deriving his substance from different gods or powers, but (declare) that all things (were formed) by one and the same Father (who nevertheless adapts this works) to the natures and tendencies of the materials dealt with), things visible and invisible, and, in short, all things that have been made (were created) neither by angels, nor by any other power, but by God alone, the Father – are all in harmony with our statements, has, I think, been sufficiently proved, while by these weighty arguments it has been shown that there is but one God, the Maker of all things. But that I may not be thought to avoid that series of proofs which may be derived from the Scriptures of the Lord (since, indeed, these Scriptures do much more evidently and clearly proclaim this very point), I shall, for the benefit of those at least who do not bring a depraved mind to bear on them, devote a special book to the Scriptures referred to, which shall fairly follow them out (and explain them), and I shall plainly set forth from these divine Scriptures proofs to (satisfy) all the lovers of truth.