ἓν τὸ σοφὸν μοῦνον λέγεσθαι οὐκ ἐθέλει καὶ ἐθέλει Ζηνὸς ὄνομα.
Hen to sofon mounon legesthai ouk ethelei kai ethelei Zènos onoma.
Une sagesse unique veut être appelée du nom de Zeus, qui ne le veut pas. (Léon Robin)
L’un (ἓν), qui seul (μοῦνον) est sage (τὸ σοφὸν), veut (ἐθέλει) et ne veut pas (οὐκ ἐθέλει ) être appelé (λέγεσθαι) du nom (ὄνομα) de Zeus (Ζηνὸς). (Tannery)
Le sage est un, seulement. Il ne veut pas et veut être appelé du nom de Zeus. (Burnet, traduit par Reymond)
Wisdom (τὸ σοφὸν) is one (ἓν) only (μοῦνον). It is willing (ἐθέλει) and unwilling (οὐκ ἐθέλει ) to be called (λέγεσθαι) by the name (ὄνομα) of Zeus (Ζηνὸς).
Een is het ware alleen, dat wel en niet wil aangeduid worden met de naam van Zeus
Lectures / Lezingen / Readings:
- B60 – B32, Dirk Vekemans 1995
Vertaling van geheel hoofdstuk 14 uit boek V van de Stromatae:
Chapter 14. Greek Plagiarism from the Hebrews
Let us add in completion what follows, and exhibit now with greater clearness the plagiarism of the Greeks from the Barbarian philosophy.
Now the Stoics say that God, like the soul, is essentially body and spirit. You will find all this explicitly in their writings. Do not consider at present their allegories as the gnostic truth presents them; whether they show one thing and mean another, like the dexterous athletes. Well, they say that God pervades all being; while we call Him solely Maker, and Maker by the Word. They were misled by what is said in the book of Wisdom:
He pervades and passes through all by reason of His purity; Wisdom 7:24 since they did not understand that this was said of Wisdom, which was the first of the creation of God.
So be it, they say. But the philosophers, the Stoics, and Plato, and Pythagoras, nay more, Aristotle the Peripatetic, suppose the existence of matter among the first principles; and not one first principle. Let them then know that what is called matter by them, is said by them to be without quality, and without form, and more daringly said by Plato to be non-existence. And does he not say very mystically, knowing that the true and real first cause is one, in these very words:
Now, then, let our opinion be so. As to the first principle or principles of the universe, or what opinion we ought to entertain about all these points, we are not now to speak, for no other cause than on account of its being difficult to explain our sentiments in accordance with the present form of discourse. But undoubtedly that prophetic expression,
Now the earth was invisible and formless, supplied them with the ground of material essence.
And the introduction of
chance was hence suggested to Epicurus, who misapprehended the statement,
Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity. And it occurred to Aristotle to extend Providence as far as the moon from this psalm:
Lord, Your mercy is in the heavens; and Your truth reaches to the clouds. For the explanation of the prophetic mysteries had not yet been revealed previous to the advent of the Lord.
Punishments after death, on the other hand, and penal retribution by fire, were pilfered from the Barbarian philosophy both by all the poetic Muses and by the Hellenic philosophy. Plato, accordingly, in the last book of the Republic, says in these express terms:
Then these men fierce and fiery to look on, standing by, and hearing the sound, seized and took some aside; and binding Aridæus and the rest hand, foot, and head, and throwing them down, and flaying them, dragged them along the way, tearing their flesh with thorns. For the fiery men are meant to signify the angels, who seize and punish the wicked.
Who makes, it is said,
His angels spirits; His ministers flaming fire. It follows from this that the soul is immortal. For what is tortured or corrected being in a state of sensation lives, though said to suffer. Well! Did not Plato know of the rivers of fire and the depth of the earth, and Tartarus, called by the Barbarians Gehenna, naming, as he does prophetically, Cocytus, and Acheron, and Pyriphlegethon, and introducing such corrective tortures for discipline?
the angels as the Scripture says,
of the little ones, and of the least, which see God, and also the oversight reaching to us exercised by the tutelary angels, he shrinks not from writing,
That when all the souls have selected their several lives, according as it has fallen to their lot, they advance in order to Lachesis; and she sends along with each one, as his guide in life, and the joint accomplisher of his purposes, the demon which he has chosen. Perhaps also the demon of Socrates suggested to him something similar.
Nay, the philosophers. having so heard from Moses, taught that the world was created. And so Plato expressly said,
Whether was it that the world had no beginning of its existence, or derived its beginning from some beginning? For being visible, it is tangible; and being tangible, it has a body. Again, when he says,
It is a difficult task to find the Maker and Father of this universe, he not only showed that the universe was created, but points out that it was generated by him as a son, and that he is called its father, as deriving its being from him alone, and springing from non-existence. The Stoics, too, hold the tenet that the world was created.
And that the devil so spoken of by the Barbarian philosophy, the prince of the demons, is a wicked spirit, Plato asserts in the tenth book of the Laws, in these words:
Must we not say that spirit which pervades the things that are moved on all sides, pervades also heaven? Well, what? One or more? Several, say I, in reply for you. Let us not suppose fewer than two— that which is beneficent, and that which is able to accomplish the opposite. Similarly in the Phœdrus he writes as follows:
Our contest is not with flesh and blood, but principalities, with powers, with the spiritual things of those which are in heaven; writing thus:
For since we are agreed that heaven is full of many good beings; but it is also full of the opposite of these, and more of these; and as we assert such a contest is deathless, and requiring marvellous watchfulness.
Again the Barbarian philosophy knows the world of thought and the world of sense— the former archetypal, and the latter the image of that which is called the model; and assigns the former to the Monad, as being perceived by the mind, and the world of sense to the number six. For six is called by the Pythagoreans marriage, as being the genital number; and he places in the Monad the invisible heaven and the holy earth, and intellectual light. For
in the beginning, it is said,
God made the heaven and the earth; and the earth was invisible. And it is added,
And God said, Let there be light; and there was light. Genesis 1:1-3 And in the material cosmogony He creates a solid heaven (and what is solid is capable of being perceived by sense), and a visible earth, and a light that is seen. Does not Plato hence appear to have left the ideas of living creatures in the intellectual world, and to make intellectual objects into sensible species according to their genera? Rightly then Moses says, that the body which Plato calls
the earthly tabernacle was formed of the ground, but that the rational soul was breathed by God into man’s face. For there, they say, the ruling faculty is situated; interpreting the access by the senses into the first man as the addition of the soul.
Wherefore also man is said
to have been made in [God’s] image and likeness. For the image of God is the divine and royal Word, the impassible man; and the image of the image is the human mind. And if you wish to apprehend the likeness by another name, you will find it named in Moses, a divine correspondence. For he says,
Walk after the Lord your God, and keep His commandments. Deuteronomy 13:4 And I reckon all the virtuous, servants and followers of God. Hence the Stoics say that the end of philosophy is to live agreeable to nature; and Plato, likeness to God, as we have shown in the second Miscellany. And Zeno the Stoic, borrowing from Plato, and he from the Barbarian philosophy, says that all the good are friends of one another. For Socrates says in the Phœdrus,
that it has not been ordained that the bad should be a friend to the bad, nor the good be not a friend to the good; as also he showed sufficiently in the Lysis, that friendship is never preserved in wickedness and vice. And the Athenian stranger similarly says,
that there is conduct pleasing and conformable to God, based on one ancient ground-principle, That like loves like, provided it be within measure. But things beyond measure are congenial neither to what is within nor what is beyond measure. Now it is the case that God is the measure to us of all things. Then proceeding, Plato adds:
For every good man is like every other good man; and so being like to God, he is liked by every good man and by God. At this point I have just recollected the following. In the end of the Timæus he says:
You must necessarily assimilate that which perceives to that which is perceived, according to its original nature; and it is by so assimilating it that you attain to the end of the highest life proposed by the gods to men, for the present or the future time. For those have equal power with these. He, who seeks, will not stop till he find; and having found, he will wonder; and wondering, he will reign; and reigning, he will rest. And what? Were not also those expressions of Thales derived from these? The fact that God is glorified for ever, and that He is expressly called by us the Searcher of hearts, he interprets. For Thales being asked, What is the divinity? Said, What has neither beginning nor end. And on another asking,
If a man could elude the knowledge of the Divine Being while doing anything? said,
How could he who cannot do so while thinking?
Further, the Barbarian philosophy recognises good as alone excellent, and virtue as sufficient for happiness, when it says,
Behold, I have set before your eyes good and evil, life and death, that you may choose life. For it calls good,
life, and the choice of it excellent, and the choice of the opposite
evil. And the end of good and of life is to become a lover of God:
For this is your life and length of days, to love that which tends to the truth. And these points are yet clearer. For the Saviour, in enjoining to love God and our neighbour, says,
that on these two commandments hang the whole law and the prophets. Such are the tenets promulgated by the Stoics; and before these, by Socrates, in the Phœdrus, who prays,
O Pan, and you other gods, give me to be beautiful within. And in the Theœtetus he says expressly,
For he that speaks well (καλῶς) is both beautiful and good. And in the Protagoras he avers to the companions of Protagoras that he has met with one more beautiful than Alcibiades, if indeed that which is wisest is most beautiful. For he said that virtue was the soul’s beauty, and, on the contrary, that vice was the soul’s deformity. Accordingly, Antipatrus the Stoic, who composed three books on the point, virtue is sufficient for happiness; and adduces several other dogmas agreeing with the Stoics. And by Aristobulus, who lived in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, who is mentioned by the composer of the epitome of the books of the Maccabees, there were abundant books to show that the Peripatetic philosophy was derived from the law of Moses and from the other prophets. Let such be the case.
Plato plainly calls us brethren, as being of one God and one teacher, in the following words:
For you who are in the state are entirely brethren (as we shall say to them, continuing our story). But the God who formed you, mixed gold in the composition of those of you who are fit to rule, at your birth, wherefore you are most highly honoured; and silver in the case of those who are helpers; and steel and brass in the case of farmers and other workers. Whence, of necessity, some embrace and love those things to which knowledge pertains; and others matters of opinion. Perchance he prophesies of that elect nature which is bent on knowledge; if by the supposition he makes of three natures he does not describe three politics, as some supposed: that of the Jews, the silver; that of the Greeks, the third; and that of the Christians, with whom has been mingled the regal gold, the Holy Spirit, the golden.
And exhibiting the Christian life, he writes in the Theætetus in these words:
Let us now speak of the highest principles. For why should we speak of those who make an abuse of philosophy? These know neither the way to the forum, nor know they the court or the senate-house, or any other public assembly of the state. As for laws and decrees spoken or written, they neither see nor hear them. But party feelings of political associations and public meetings, and revels with musicians [occupy them]; but they never even dream of taking part in affairs. Has any one conducted himself either well or ill in the state, or has anything evil descended to a man from his forefathers?— it escapes their attention as much as do the sands of the sea. And the man does not even know that he does not know all these things; but in reality his body alone is situated and dwells in the state, while the man himself flies, according to Pindar, beneath the earth and above the sky, astronomizing, and exploring all nature on all sides.
Again, with the Lord’s saying,
Let your yea be yea, and your nay nay, may be compared the following:
Let praise and an oath in everything be absent.
And in general, Pythagoras, and Socrates, and Plato say that they hear God’s voice while closely contemplating the fabric of the universe, made and preserved unceasingly by God. For they heard Moses say,
He said, and it was done, describing the word of God as an act.
And founding on the formation of man from the dust, the philosophers constantly term the body earthy. Homer, too, does not hesitate to put the following as an imprecation:—
But may you all become earth and water.
As Esaias says,
And trample them down as clay. And Callimachus clearly writes:—
That was the year in which
Birds, fishes, quadrupeds,
Spoke like Prometheus’ clay.
And the same again:—
If you Prometheus formed,
And you are not of other clay.
Hesiod says of Pandora:—
And bade Hephæstus, famed, with all his speed,
Knead earth with water, and man’s voice and mind
The Stoics, accordingly, define nature to be artificial fire, advancing systematically to generation. And God and His Word are by Scripture figuratively termed fire and light. But how? Does not Homer himself, is not Homer himself, paraphrasing the retreat of the water from the land, and the clear uncovering of the dry land, when he says of Tethys and Oceanus:—
For now for a long time they abstain from
Each other’s bed and love?
Nothing escapes the divine. This it behooves you to know.
He is our observer. To God nought is impossible.
And the lyric poet:—
And God from gloomy night
Can raise unstained light,
And can in darksome gloom obscure
The day’s refulgence pure.
He alone who is able to make night during the period of day is God.
In the Phœnomena Aratus writes thus:—
With Zeus let us begin; whom let us ne’er,
Being men, leave unexpressed. All full of Zeus,
The streets, and throngs of men, and full the sea,
And shores, and everywhere we Zeus enjoy.
For we also are
His offspring; . . . .
that is, by creation.
Who, bland to men,
Propitious signs displays, and to their tasks
Arouses. For these signs in heaven He fixed,
The constellations spread, and crowned the year
With stars; to show to men the seasons’ tasks,
That all things may proceed in order sure.
Him ever first, Him last too, they adore:
Hail Father, marvel great— great boon to men.
And before him, Homer, framing the world in accordance with Moses on the Vulcan-wrought shield, says:—
On it he fashioned earth, and sky, and sea,
And all the signs with which the heaven is crowned.
For the Zeus celebrated in poems and prose compositions leads the mind up to God. And already, so to speak, Democritus writes,
that a few men are in the light, who stretch out their hands to that place which we Greeks now call the air. Zeus speaks all, and he hears all, and distributes and takes away, and he is king of all. And more mystically the Bœotian Pindar, being a Pythagorean, says:—
One is the race of gods and men,
And of one mother both have breath;
that is, of matter: and names the one creator of these things, whom he calls Father, chief artificer, who furnishes the means of advancement on to divinity, according to merit.
For I pass over Plato; he plainly, in the Epistle to Erastus and Coriscus, is seen to exhibit the Father and Son somehow or other from the Hebrew Scriptures, exhorting in these words:
In invoking by oath, with not illiterate gravity, and with culture, the sister of gravity, God the author of all, and invoking Him by oath as the Lord, the Father of the Leader, and author; whom if you study with a truly philosophical spirit, you shall know. And the address in the Timœus calls the creator, Father, speaking thus:
You gods of gods, of whom I am Father; and the Creator of your works. So that when he says,
Around the king of all, all things are, and because of Him are all things; and he [or that] is the cause of all good things; and around the second are the things second in order; and around the third, the third, I understand nothing else than the Holy Trinity to be meant; for the third is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the second, by whom all things were made according to the will of the Father.
And the same, in the tenth book of the Republic, mentions Eros the son of Armenius, who is Zoroaster. Zoroaster, then, writes:
These were composed by Zoroaster, the son of Armenius, a Pamphylian by birth: having died in battle, and been in Hades, I learned them of the gods. This Zoroaster, Plato says, having been placed on the funeral pyre, rose again to life in twelve days. He alludes perchance to the resurrection, or perchance to the fact that the path for souls to ascension lies through the twelve signs of the zodiac; and he himself says, that the descending pathway to birth is the same. In the same way we are to understand the twelve labours of Hercules, after which the soul obtains release from this entire world.
I do not pass over Empedocles, who speaks thus physically of the renewal of all things, as consisting in a transmutation into the essence of fire, which is to take place. And most plainly of the same opinion is Heraclitus of Ephesus, who considered that there was a world everlasting, and recognised one perishable— that is, in its arrangement, not being different from the former, viewed in a certain aspect. But that he knew the imperishable world which consists of the universal essence to be everlastingly of a certain nature, he makes clear by speaking thus:
The same world of all things, neither any of the gods, nor any one of men, made. But there was, and is, and will be ever-living fire, kindled according to measure, and quenched according to measure. And that he taught it to be generated and perishable, is shown by what follows:
There are transmutations of fire—first, the sea; and of the sea the half is land, the half fiery vapour. For he says that these are the effects of power. For fire is by the Word of God, which governs all things, changed by the air into moisture, which is, as it were, the germ of cosmical change; and this he calls sea. And out of it again is produced earth, and sky, and all that they contain. How, again, they are restored and ignited, he shows clearly in these words:
The sea is diffused and measured according to the same rule which subsisted before it became earth. Similarly also respecting the other elements, the same is to be understood. The most renowned of the Stoics teach similar doctrines with him, in treating of the conflagration and the government of the world, and both the world and man properly so called, and of the continuance of our souls.
Plato, again, in the seventh book of the Republic, has called
the day here nocturnal, as I suppose, on account of
the world rulers of this darkness; Ephesians 6:12 and the descent of the soul into the body, sleep and death, similarly with Heraclitus. And was not this announced, oracularly, of the Saviour, by the Spirit, saying by David,
I slept, and slumbered; I awoke: for the Lord will sustain me; For He not only figuratively calls the resurrection of Christ rising from sleep; but to the descent of the Lord into the flesh he also applies the figurative term sleep. The Saviour Himself enjoins,
Watch; as much as to say,
Study how to live, and endeavour to separate the soul from the body.
And the Lord’s day Plato prophetically speaks of in the tenth book of the Republic, in these words:
And when seven days have passed to each of them in the meadow, on the eighth they are to set out and arrive in four days. By the meadow is to be understood the fixed sphere, as being a mild and genial spot, and the locality of the pious; and by the seven days each motion of the seven planets, and the whole practical art which speeds to the end of rest. But after the wandering orbs the journey leads to heaven, that is, to the eighth motion and day. And he says that souls are gone on the fourth day, pointing out the passage through the four elements. But the seventh day is recognised as sacred, not by the Hebrews only, but also by the Greeks; according to which the whole world of all animals and plants revolve. Hesiod says of it:—
The first, and fourth, and seventh day were held sacred.
And on the seventh the sun’s resplendent orb.
And on the seventh then came the sacred day.
The seventh was sacred.
It was the seventh day, and all things were accomplished.
And on the seventh morn we leave the stream of Acheron.
Callimachus the poet also writes:—
It was the seventh morn, and they had all things done.
Among good days is the seventh day, and the seventh race.
The seventh is among the prime, and the seventh is perfect.
Now all the seven were made in starry heaven,
In circles shining as the years appear.
The Elegies of Solon, too, intensely deify the seventh day.
And how? Is it not similar to Scripture when it says,
Let us remove the righteous man from us, because he is troublesome to us? Wisdom 2:12 when Plato, all but predicting the economy of salvation, says in the second book of the Republic as follows:
Thus he who is constituted just shall be scourged, shall be stretched on the rack, shall be bound, have his eyes put out; and at last, having suffered all evils, shall be crucified.
And the Socratic Antisthenes, paraphrasing that prophetic utterance,
To whom have you likened me? Says the Lord, says that
Xenophon too, the Athenian, utters these similar sentiments in the following words:
He who shakes all things, and is Himself immoveable, is manifestly one great and powerful. But what He is in form, appears not. No more does the sun, who wishes to shine in all directions, deem it right to permit any one to look on himself. But if one gaze on him audaciously, he loses his eyesight.
What flesh can see with eyes the Heavenly, True,—
Immortal God, whose dwelling is the poles?
Not even before the bright beams of the sun
Are men, as being mortal, fit to stand,
the Sibyl had said before. Rightly, then, Xenophanes of Colophon, teaching that God is one and incorporeal, adds:—
One God there is ‘midst gods and men supreme;
In form, in mind, unlike to mortal men.
But men have the idea that gods are born,
And wear their clothes, and have both voice and shape.
But had the oxen or the lions hands,
Or could with hands depict a work like men,
Were beasts to draw the semblance of the gods,
The horses would them like to horses sketch,
To oxen, oxen, and their bodies make
Of such a shape as to themselves belongs.
Let us hear, then, the lyric poet Bacchylides speaking of the divine:—
Who to diseases dire never succumb,
And blameless are; in nought resembling men.
And also Cleanthes, the Stoic, who writes thus in a poem on the Deity: —
If you ask what is the nature of the good, listen—
That which is regular, just, holy, pious,
Self-governing, useful, fair, fitting,
Grave, independent, always beneficial,
That feels no fear or grief, profitable, painless,
Helpful, pleasant, safe, friendly,
Held in esteem, agreeing with itself: honourable,
Humble, careful, meek, zealous,
Perennial, blameless, ever-during.
And the same, tacitly vilifying the idolatry of the multitude, adds:—
Base is every one who looks to opinion,
With the view of deriving any good from it.
We are not, then, to think of God according to the opinion of the multitude.
For I do not think that secretly,
Imitating the guise of a scoundrel,
He would go to your bed as a man,
says Amphion to Antiope. And Sophocles plainly writes:—
His mother Zeus espoused,
Not in the likeness of gold, nor covered
With swan’s plumage, as the Pleuronian girl
He impregnated; but an out and out man.
He further proceeds, and adds:—
And quick the adulterer stood on the bridal steps.
Then he details still more plainly the licentiousness of the fabled Zeus:—
But he nor food nor cleansing water touched,
But heart-stung went to bed, and that whole night
But let these be resigned to the follies of the theatre.
Heraclius plainly says:
But of the word which is eternal men are not able to understand, both before they have heard it, and on first hearing it. And the lyrist Melanippides says in song:—
And Parmenides the great, as Plato says in the Sophist, writes of God thus:—
Very much, since unborn and indestructible He is,
Whole, only-begotten, and immoveable, and unoriginated.
Hesiod also says:—
For He of the immortals all is King and Lord.
With God none else in might may strive.
Nay more, Tragedy, drawing away from idols, teaches to look up to heaven. Sophocles, as Hecatæus, who composed the histories in the work about Abraham and the Egyptians, says, exclaims plainly on the stage:—
One in very truth, God is One,
Who made the heaven and the far-stretching earth,
The Deep’s blue billow, and the might of winds.
But of us mortals, many erring far
In heart, as solace for our woes, have raised
Images of gods— of stone, or else of brass,
Or figures wrought of gold or ivory;
And sacrifices and vain festivals
To these appointing, deem ourselves devout.
And Euripides on the stage, in tragedy, says:—
Do you this lofty, boundless Ether see,
Which holds the earth around in the embrace
Of humid arms? This reckon Zeus,
And this regard as God.
And in the drama of Pirithous, the same writes those lines in tragic vein:—
You, self-sprung, who on Ether’s wheel
Has universal nature spun,
Around whom Light and dusky spangled Night,
The countless host of stars, too, ceaseless dance.
For there he says that the creative mind is self-sprung. What follows applies to the universe, in which are the opposites of light and darkness.
Æschylus also, the son of Euphorion, says with very great solemnity of God:—
Ether is Zeus, Zeus earth, and Zeus the heaven;
The universe is Zeus, and all above.
I am aware that Plato assents to Heraclitus, who writes:
The one thing that is wise alone will not be expressed, and means the name of Zeus. And again,
He that has ears to hear, let him hear, you will find it expressed by the Ephesian to the following effect:
Those that hear without understanding are like the deaf. The proverb witnesses against them, that when present they are absent.
But do you want to hear from the Greeks expressly of one first principle? Timæus the Locrian, in the work on Nature, shall testify in the following words:
There is one first principle of all things unoriginated. For were it originated, it would be no longer the first principle; but the first principle would be that from which it originated. For this true opinion was derived from what follows:
Hear, it is said,
O Israel; the Lord your God is one, and Him only shall you serve. Deuteronomy 6:4
Lo He all sure and all unerring is,
says the Sibyl.
If Outis, alone as you are, offers you violence,
And there is no escaping disease sent by Zeus,—
For the Cyclopes heed not Ægis-bearing Zeus.
And before him Orpheus said, speaking of the point in hand:—
Son of great Zeus, Father of Ægis-bearing Zeus.
And Xenocrates the Chalcedonian, who mentions the supreme Zeus and the inferior Zeus, leaves an indication of the Father and the Son. Homer, while representing the gods as subject to human passions, appears to know the Divine Being, whom Epicurus does not so revere. He says accordingly:—
Why, son of Peleus, mortal as you are,
With swift feet me pursuest, a god
Immortal? Have you not yet known
That I am a god?
For he shows that the Divinity cannot be captured by a mortal, or apprehended either with feet, or hands, or eyes, or by the body at all.
To whom have you likened the Lord? Or to what likeness have you likened Him? says the Scripture. Has not the artificer made the image? Or the goldsmith, melting the gold, has gilded it, and what follows.
The comic poet Epicharmus speaks in the Republic clearly of the Word in the following terms:—
The life of men needs calculation and number alone,
And we live by number and calculation, for these save mortals.
He then adds expressly:—
Reason governs mortals, and alone preserves manners.
There is in man reasoning; and there is a divine Reason.
Reason is implanted in man to provide for life and sustenance,
But divine Reason attends the arts in the case of all,
Teaching them always what it is advantageous to do.
For it was not man that discovered art, but God brought it;
And the Reason of man derives its origin from the divine Reason.
The Spirit also cries by Isaiah:
Wherefore the multitude of sacrifices? Says the Lord . I am full of holocausts of rams, and the fat of lambs and the blood of bulls I wish not; and a little after adds:
Wash you, and be clean. Put away wickedness from your souls, and so forth.
Menander, the comic poet, writes in these very words:—
If one by offering sacrifice, a crowd. . .
Of bulls or kids, O Pamphilus, by Zeus.
Or such like things; by making works of art,
Garments of gold or purple, images
Of ivory or emerald, deems by these
God can be made propitious, he does err,
And has an empty mind. For the man must prove
A man of worth, who neither maids deflowers,
Nor an adulterer is, nor steals, nor kills
For love of worldly wealth, O Pamphilus.
Nay, covet not a needle’s thread. For God
You sees, being near beside you.
I am a God at hand, it is said by Jeremiah, Jeremiah 23:23-24
and not a God afar off. Shall a man do anything in secret places, and I shall not see him?
And not a needle even that is
Another’s ever covet, dearest friend;
For God in righteous works delights, and so
Permits him to increase his worldly wealth,
Who toils, and ploughs the land both night and day.
But sacrifice to God, and righteous be,
Shining not in bright robes, but in your heart;
And when you hear the thunder, do not flee,
Being conscious to yourself of nought amiss,
Good sir, for you God ever present sees.
Again Diphilus, the comic poet, discourses as, follows on the judgment:—
Do you think, O Niceratus, that the dead,
Who in all kinds of luxury in life have shared,
Escape the Deity, as if forgot?
There is an eye of justice, which sees all.
For two ways, as we deem, to Hades lead—
One for the good, the other for the bad.
But if the earth hides both for ever, then
Go plunder, steal, rob, and be turbulent.
But err not. For in Hades judgment is,
Which God the Lord of all will execute,
Whose name too dreadful is for me to name,
Who gives to sinners length of earthly life.
If any mortal thinks, that day by day,
While doing ill, he eludes the gods’ keen sight,
His thoughts are evil; and when justice has
The leisure, he shall then detected be
So thinking. Look, whoe’er you be that say
That there is not a God. There is, there is.
If one, by nature evil, evil does,
Let him redeem the time; for such as he
Shall by and by due punishment receive.
And with this agrees the tragedy in the following lines:—
For there shall come, shall come that point of time,…
When Ether, golden-eyed, shall ope its store
Of treasured fire; and the devouring flame,
Raging, shall burn all things on earth below,
And all above.
And after a little he adds:—
And when the whole world fades,
And vanished all the abyss of ocean’s waves,
And earth of trees is bare; and wrapt in flames,
The air no more begets the winged tribes;
Then He who all destroyed, shall all restore.
We shall find expressions similar to these also in the Orphic hymns, written as follows:—
For having hidden all, brought them again
To gladsome light, forth from his sacred heart,
says the philosophic poetry of Empedocles. And so, according to the Greeks, none is so great as to be above judgment, none so insignificant as to escape its notice.
And the same Orpheus speaks thus:—
But one a scion of Chaldean race;
For he the sun’s path knew right well,
And how the motion of the sphere about
The earth proceeds, in circle moving
Equally around its axis, how the winds
Their chariot guide o’er air and sea.
But in great heaven, He is seated firm
Upon a throne of gold, and ‘neath His feet
The earth. His right hand round the ocean’s bound
He stretches; and the hills’ foundations shake
To the centre at His wrath, nor can endure
His mighty strength. He all celestial is,
And all things finishes upon the earth.
He the Beginning, Middle is, and End.
But You I dare not speak. In limbs
And mind I tremble. He rules from on high.
And so forth. For in these he indicates these prophetic utterances:
If You open the heaven, trembling shall seize the mountains from Your presence; and they shall melt, as wax melts before the fire; and in Isaiah, Who has measured the heaven with a span, and the whole earth with His fist? Again, when it is said:—
Ruler of Ether, Hades, Sea, and Land,
Who with Your bolts Olympus’ strong-built home
Dost shake. Whom demons dread, and whom the throng
Of gods do fear. Whom, too, the Fates obey,
Relentless though they be. O deathless One,
Our mother’s Sire! Whose wrath makes all things reel;
Who mov’st the winds, and shroud’st in clouds the world,
Broad Ether cleaving with Your lightning gleams,—
Yours is the order ‘mongst the stars, which run
As Your unchangeable behests direct.
Before Your burning throne the angels wait,
Much-working, charged to do all things, for men.
Your young Spring shines, all prank’d with purple flowers;
Your Winter with its chilling clouds assails;
Your Autumn noisy Bacchus distributes.
Then he adds, naming expressly the Almighty God:—
Deathless Immortal, capable of being…
To the immortals only uttered! Come,
Greatest of gods, with strong Necessity.
Dread, invincible, great, deathless One,
Whom Ether crowns.
By the expression
Sire of our Mother (μητροπάτωρ) he not only intimates creation out of nothing, but gives occasion to those who introduce emissions of imagining a consort of the Deity. And he paraphrases those prophetic Scripture— that in Isaiah, Amos 4:13 and that in Moses,
Behold, behold that I am He, and there is no god beside me: I will kill, and I will make to live; I will smite, and I will heal: and there is none that shall deliver out of my hands. Deuteronomy 32:39
And He, from good, to mortals plants ill,
And cruel war, and tearful woes,
according to Orpheus.
Such also are the words of the Parian Archilochus.
O Zeus, yours is the power of heaven, and you
Inflict on men things violent and wrong.
Again let the Thracian Orpheus sing to us:—
His right hand all around to ocean’s bound
He stretches; and beneath His feet is earth.
These are plainly derived from the following:
The Lord will save the inhabited cities, and grasp the whole land in His hand like a nest; Isaiah 10:14
It is the Lord that made the earth by His power, as says Jeremiah,
and set up the earth by His wisdom. Jeremiah 10:12 Further, in addition to these, Phocylides, who calls the angels demons, explains in the following words that some of them are good, and others bad (for we also have learned that some are apostate):—
Demons there are— some here, some there— set over men;
Some, on man’s entrance [into life], to ward off ill.
Rightly, then, also Philemon, the comic poet demolishes idolatry in these words:—
Fortune is no divinity to us:
There’s no such god. But what befalls by chance
And of itself to each, is Fortune called.
And Sophocles the tragedian says:—
Not even the gods have all things as they choose,
Excepting Zeus; for he beginning is and end.
One Might, the great, the flaming heaven, was
One Deity. All things one Being were; in whom
All these revolve fire, water, and the earth.
And so forth.
Pindar, the lyric poet, as if in Bacchic frenzy, plainly says:—
What is God? The All.
God, who makes all mortals.
And when he says—
How little, being a man, do you expect
Wisdom for man? ‘Tis hard for mortal mind
The counsels of the gods to scan; and you
Were of a mortal mother born,
Similarly, then, Solon the Athenian, in the Elegies, following Hesiod, writes:—
The immortal’s mind to men is quite unknown.
Never by day
From toil and woe shall they have rest, nor yet
By night from groans. Sad cares the gods to men
Further, when Homer says—
The Sire himself the golden balance held,
he intimates that God is just.
And Menander, the comic poet, in exhibiting God, says:—
To each man, on his birth, there is assigned
A tutelary Demon, as his life’s good guide.
For that the Demon evil is, and harms
A good life, is not to be thought.
Then he adds:—
Ἅπαντα δ᾿ ἁγαθὸν εἱναι τὸν Θεόν,
Again, Æschylus the tragedian, setting forth the power of God, does not shrink from calling Him the Highest, in these words:—
Place God apart from mortals; and think not
That He is, like yourself, corporeal.
You know Him not. Now He appears as fire,
Dread force; as water now; and now as gloom;
And in the beasts is dimly shadowed forth,
In wind, and cloud, in lightning, thunder, rain;
And minister to Him the seas and rocks,
Each fountain and the water’s floods and streams.
The mountains tremble, and the earth, the vast
Abyss of sea, and towering height of hills,
When on them looks the Sovereign’s awful eye:
Almighty is the glory of the Most High God.
Does he not seem to you to paraphrase that text,
At the presence of the Lord the earth trembles? In addition to these, the most prophetic Apollo is compelled— thus testifying to the glory of God— to say of Athene, when the Medes made war against Greece, that she besought and supplicated Zeus for Attica. The oracle is as follows:—
Pallas cannot Olympian Zeus propitiate,
Although with many words and sage advice she prays;
But he will give to the devouring fire many temples of the immortals,
Who now stand shaking with terror, and bathed in sweat;
and so forth.
Thearidas, in his book On Nature, writes:
There was then one really true beginning [first principle] of all that exist— one. For that Being in the beginning is one and alone.
Nor is there any other except the Great King,
says Orpheus. In accordance with whom, the comic poet Diphilus says very sententiously, the
Father of all,
To Him alone incessant reverence pay,
The inventor and the author of such blessings.
Rightly therefore Plato
accustoms the best natures to attain to that study which formerly we said was the highest, both to see the good and to accomplish that ascent. And this, as appears, is not the throwing of the potsherds; but the turning round of the soul from a nocturnal day to that which is a true return to that which really is, which we shall assert to be the true philosophy. Such as are partakers of this he judges to belong to the golden race, when he says:
You are all brethren; and those who are of the golden race are most capable of judging most accurately in every respect.
The Father, then, and Maker of all things is apprehended by all things, agreeably to all, by innate power and without teaching—things inanimate, sympathizing with the animate creation; and of living beings some are already immoral, working in the light of day. But of those that are still mortal, some are in fear, and carried still in their mother’s womb; and others regulate themselves by their own independent reason. And of men all are Greeks and Barbarians. But no race anywhere of tillers of the soil, or nomads, and not even of dwellers in cities, can live, without being imbued with the faith of a superior being. Wherefore every eastern nation, and every nation touching the western shore; or the north, and each one towards the south, — all have one and the same preconception respecting Him who has appointed government; since the most universal of His operations equally pervade all. Much more did the philosophers among the Greeks, devoted to investigation, starting from the Barbarian philosophy, attribute providence to the
Invisible, and sole, and most powerful, and most skilful and supreme cause of all things most beautiful;— not knowing the inferences from these truths, unless instructed by us, and not even how God is to be known naturally; but only, as we have already often said, by a true periphrasis. Rightly therefore the apostle says, prophetically that of the Greeks believing Greeks would know God; but also intimating that in power the Lord is the God of all, and truly Universal King. For they know neither what He is, nor how He is Lord, and Father, and Maker, nor the rest of the system of the truth, without being taught by it. Thus also the prophetic utterances have the same force as the apostolic word. For Isaiah says,
If you say, We trust in the Lord our God: now make an alliance with my Lord the king of the Assyrians. And he adds:
And now, was it without the Lord that we came up to this land to make war against it? And Jonah, himself a prophet, intimates the same thing in what he says:
And the shipmaster came to him, and said to him, Why do you snore? Rise, call on your God, that He may save us, and that we may not perish. For the expression
your God he makes as if to one who knew Him by way of knowledge; and the expression,
that God may save us, revealed the consciousness in the minds of heathens who had applied their mind to the Ruler of all, but had not yet believed. And again the same:
And he said, Let us by no means perish for the life of this man. And Malachi the prophet plainly exhibits God saying,
I will not accept sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its going down, My name is glorified among the Gentiles; and in every place sacrifice is offered to Me. And again:
Because I am a great King, says the Lord omnipotent; and My name is manifest among the nations. What name? The Son declaring the Father among the Greeks who have believed.
Plato in what follows gives an exhibition of free-will:
Virtue owns not a master; and in proportion as each one honours or dishonours it, in that proportion he will be a partaker of it. The blame lies in the exercise of free choice. But God is blameless. For He is never the author of evil.
O warlike Trojans, says the lyric poet, —
And Pindar expressly introduces also Zeus Soter, the consort of Themis, proclaiming him King, Saviour, Just, in the following lines:—
First, prudent Themis, of celestial birth,
On golden steeds, by Ocean’s rock,
The Fates brought to the stair sublime,
The shining entrance of Olympus,
Of Saviour Zeus for aye to be the spouse,
And she, the Hours, gold-diademed, fair-fruited, good, brought forth.
Who these things seeing, yet apprehends not God,
But mouthing lofty themes, casts far
Perverse deceits; stubborn in which, the tongue
Its shafts discharges, about things unseen,
Devoid of sense.
Let him who wishes, then, approaching to the true instruction, learn from Parmenides the Eleatic, who promises:—
Ethereal nature, then, and all the signs
In Ether you shall know, and the effects,
All viewless, of the sacred Sun’s clear torch
And whence produced. The round-eyed Moon’s
Revolving influences and nature you
Shall learn; and the ensphering heaven shall know;
Whence sprung; and how Necessity took it
And chained so as to keep the starry bounds.
And Metrodorus, though an Epicurean, spoke thus, divinely inspired:
Remember, O Menestratus, that, being a mortal endowed with a circumscribed life, you have in your soul ascended, till you have seen endless time, and the infinity of things; and what is to be, and what has been; when with the blessed choir, according to Plato, we shall gaze on the blessed sight and vision; we following with Zeus, and others with other deities, if we may be permitted so to say, to receive initiation into the most blessed mystery: which we shall celebrate, ourselves being perfect and untroubled by the ills which awaited us at the end of our time; and introduced to the knowledge of perfect and tranquil visions, and contemplating them in pure sunlight; we ourselves pure, and now no longer distinguished by that, which, when carrying it about, we call the body, being bound to it like an oyster to its shell.
The Pythagoreans call heaven the Antichthon [the opposite Earth]. And in this land, it is said by Jeremiah,
I will place you among the children, and give you the chosen land as inheritance of God Omnipotent; Jeremiah 3:19 and they who inherit it shall reign over the earth. Myriads on myriads of examples rush on my mind which might adduce. But for the sake of symmetry the discourse must now stop, in order that we may not exemplify the saying of Agatho the tragedian:—
Treating our by-work as work,
And doing our work as by-work.
It having been, then, as I think, clearly shown in what way it is to be understood that the Greeks were called thieves by the Lord, I willingly leave the dogmas of the philosophers. For were we to go over their sayings, we should gather together directly such a quantity of notes, in showing that the whole of the Hellenic wisdom was derived from the Barbarian philosophy. But this speculation, we shall, nevertheless, again touch on, as necessity requires, when we collect the opinions current among the Greeks respecting first principles.
But from what has been said, it tacitly devolves on us to consider in what way the Hellenic books are to be perused by the man who is able to pass through the billows in them. Therefore
as appears according to Empedocles,
But wretched he, who cares for dark opinion about the Gods.
He, who seeks to be good, err in many things.
It is then now clear to us, from what has been said, that the beneficence of God is eternal, and that, from an unbeginning principle, equal natural righteousness reached all, according to the worth of each several race—never having had a beginning. For God did not make a beginning of being Lord and Good, being always what He is. Nor will He ever cease to do good, although He bring all things to an end. And each one of us is a partaker of His beneficence, as far as He wills. For the difference of the elect is made by the intervention of a choice worthy of the soul, and by exercise.
About this page
Source. Translated by William Wilson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02105.htm>.
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