Early Church Fathers
1 1 Tim. iii. 16.
2 Acts ii. 47.
3 Marcion, a disciple of Cerdo, added a third Principle to the two which his master taught. The first is an unnamed, invisible, and good God, but no creator; the second is a visible and creative God, i. e. the Demiurge; the third intermediate between the invisible and visible God, i. e. the Devil. The Demiurge is the God and Judge of the Jews. Marcion affirmed the Resurrection of the soul alone. He rejected the Law and the Prophets as proceeding from the Demiurge; only Christ came down from the unnamed and invisible Father to save the soul, and to confute this God of the Jews. The only Gospel he acknowledged was S. Luke's, omitting the beginning which details our Lord's Conception and Incarnation. Other portions also both in the middle and the end he curtailed. Besides this broken Gospel of S. Luke he retained ten of the Apostolic letters, but garbled even them. Gregory says elsewhere that the followers of Eunomius got their "duality of Gods" from Marcion, but went beyond him in denying essential goodness to the Only-begotten, the "God of the Gospel."
4 Of the Gnostics Valentinus and Basilides the truest and best account is given in H. L. Mansel's Gnostics, and in the articles upon them in the Dictionary of Christian Biography. It is there shown how all their visions of celestial Hierarchies, and the romances connected with them, were born of the attempt to solve the insoluble problem, i. e. how that which in modern philosophy would be called the Infinite is to pass into the Finite. They fell into the fatalism of the Emanationist view of the Deity, but still the attempt was an honest one.
5 Sabellius. The Sabellian heresy was rife in the century preceding: i. e. that Personality is attributed to the Deity only from the exigency of human language, that consequently He is sometimes characterized as the Father, when operations and works more appropriate to the paternal relation are spoken of; and so in like manner of the Son, and the Holy Ghost; as when Redemption is the subject, or Sanctification. In making the Son the Father, it is the opposite pole to Arianism.
6 "We see also the rise (i.e. a.d. 350) of a new and more defiant Arian school, more in earnest than the older generation, impatient of their shuffling diplomacy, and less pliant to court influences. Aetius.... came to rest in a clear and simple form of Arianism. Christianity without mystery seems to have been his aim. The Anomoean leaders took their stand on the doctrine of Arius himself and dwelt with emphasis on its most offensive aspects. Arius had long ago laid down the absolute unlikeness of the Son to the Father, but for years past the Arianizers had prudently softened it down. Now, however, `unlike0' became the watchword of Aetius and Eunomius": Gwatkin's Arians. For the way in which this school treated the Trinity see Against Eunomius, p. 50.
7 I. e. an argument against Dualism would only confirm the Jew in his stern monotheism. Manes had taught also that "those souls who believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God renounce the worship of the God of the Jews, who is the Prince of Darkness," and that "the Old Testament was the work of this Prince, who was substituted by the Jews in the place of the true God."
8 the Deity ...without Logos. In another treatise (De Fide, p. 40) Gregory bases the argument for the eternity of the Logoj on John i. 1, where it is not said, "after the beginning," but "in the beginning." The beginning, therefore, never was without the Logoj.
9 unstable: apaghj (the reading arpagij is manifestly wrong). So afterwards human speech is called epikhroj. Cf. Athanasius (Contr. Arian. 3): "Since man came from the non-existent, therefore his `word0' also has a pause, and does not last. From man we get, day after day, many different words, because the first abide not, but are forgotten."
10 upostasin. About this oft repeated word the question arises whether we are indebted to Christians or to Platonists for the first skilful use of it in expressing that which is neither substance nor quality. Abraham Tucker (Light of Nature, ii. p. 191) hazards the following remark with regard to the Platonic Triad, i. e. Goodness, Intelligence, Activity, viz. that quality would not do as a general name for these principles, because the ideas and abstract essences existed in the Intelligence, &c., and qualities cannot exist in one another, e. g. yellowness cannot be soft: nor could substance be the term, for then they must have been component parts of the Existent, which would have destroyed the unity of the Godhead: "therefore, he (Plato) styled them Hypostases or Subsistencies, which is something between substance and quality, inexisting in the one, and serving as a receptacle for the other's inexistency within it." But he adds, "I do not recommend this explanation to anybody"; nor does he state the authority for this Platonic use, so lucidly explained, of the word. Indeed, if the word had ever been applied to the principles of the Platonic triad, to express in the case of each of them "the distinct subsistence in a common ousia," it would have falsified the very conception of the first, i. e. Goodness, which was never relative. So that this very word seems to emphasize, so far, the antagonism between Christianity and Platonism. Socrates (E. H. iii. 7) bears witness to the absence of the word from the ancient Greek philosophy: "it appears to us that the Greek philosophers have given us various definitions of ousia, but have not taken the slightest notice of upostasij. ...it is not found in any of the ancients except occasionally in a sense quite different from that which is attached to it at the present day (i.e. fifth century). Thus Sophocles in his tragedy entitled Phoenix uses it to signify `treachery0'; in Menander it implies `sauces0' (i. e. sediment). But although the ancient philosophical writers scarcely noticed the word, the more modern ones have frequently used it instead of ousia." But it was, as far as can be traced, the unerring genius of Origen that first threw around the Logoj that atmosphere of a new term, i. e. upostasij, as well as omoousioj, autoqeoj, which afterward made it possible to present the Second Person to the Greek-speaking world as the member of an equal and indivisible Trinity. It was he who first selected such words and saw what they were capable of; though he did not insist on that fuller meaning which was put upon them when all danger within the Church of Sabellianism had disappeared, and error passed in the guise of Arianism to the opposite extreme.
11 lives. This doctrine is far removed from that of Philo, i. e. from the Alexandrine philosophy. The very first statement of S. John represents the Logoj as having a backward movement towards the Deity, as well as a forward movement from Him; as held there, and yet sent thence by a force which he calls Love, so that the primal movement towards the world does not come from the Logoj, but from the Father Himself. The Logoj here is the Word, and not the Reason; He is the living effect of a living cause, not a theory or hypothesis standing at the gateway of an insoluble mystery. The Logoj speaks because the Father speaks, not because the Supreme cannot and will not speak; and their relations are often the reverse of those they hold in Philo; for the Father becomes at times the meditator between the Logoj and the world drawing men towards Him and subduing portions of the Creation before His path. Psychology seems to pour a light straight into the Council-chamber of the Eternal; while Metaphysics had turned away from it, with her finger on her lips. Philo may have used, as Tholuck thinks, those very texts of the Old Testament which support the Christian doctrine of the Word, and in the translation of which the LXX. supplied him with the Greek word. But, however derived, his theology eventually ranged itself with those pantheistic views of the universe which subdued all thinking minds not Christianized, for more than three centuries after him. The majority of recent critics certainly favour the supposition that the Logoj of Philo is a being numerically distinct from the Supreme; but when the relation of the Supreme is attentively traced in each, the actual antagonism of the Christian system and his begins to be apparent. The Supreme of Philo is not and can never be related to the world. The Logoj is a logical necessity as a mediator between the two; a spiritual being certainly, but only the head of a long series of such beings, who succeed at last in filling the passage between the finite and the infinite. In this system there is no mission of love and of free will; such beings are but as the milestones to mark the distance between man and the Great Unknown. It is significant that Vacherot, the leading historian of the Alexandrine school of philosophy, doubts whether John the Evangelist ever even heard of the Jewish philosopher of Alexandria. It is pretty much the same with the members of the Neoplatonic Triad as with the Logoj of Philo. The God of Plotinus and Proclus is not a God in three hypostases: he is simply one, Intelligence and Soul being his necessary emanations; they are in God, but they are not God: Soul is but a hypostasis of a hypostasis. The One is not a hypostasis, but above it. This "Trinity" depends on the distinction and succession of the necessary movements of the Deity; it consists of three distinct and separate principles of things. The Trinity is really peculiar to Christianity. Three inseparable Hypostases make equally a part of the Divine nature, so that to take away one would be to destroy the whole. The Word and Spirit are Divine, not intermediaries disposed in a hierarchy on the route of the world to God. As Plotinus reproached the Gnostics, the Christian mysticism despises the world, and suppressing the intermediaries who in other doctrines serve to elevate the soul gradually to God, it transports it by one impulse as it were into the Divine nature. The Christian goes straight to God by Faith. The Imagination, Reason, and Contemplation of the Neoplatonists, i. e. the three movements of the soul which correspond to their lower "trinity" of Nature, Soul, Intelligence, are no 1onger necessary. There is an antipathy profound between the two systems; How then could the one be said to influence the other? Neoplatonism may have tinged Christianity, while it was still seeking for language in which to express its inner self: but it never influenced the intrinsically moral character of the Christian Creeds. The Alexandrine philosophy is all metaphysics, and its rock was pantheism; all, even matter, proceeds from God necessarily and eternally. The Church never hesitated: she saw the abyss that opens upon that path; and by severe decrees she has closed the way to pantheism.
12 will not fail to perform; mh anenerghton einai. This is a favourite word with Gregory, and the Platonist Synesius.
13 goodness. "God is love;" but how is this love above or equal to the Power? "Infinite Goodness, according to our apprehensign, requires that it should exhaust omnipotence: that it should give capacities of enjoyment and confer blessings until there were no more to be conferred: but our idea of omnipotence requires that it should be inexhaustible; that nothing should limit its operation, so that it should do no more than it has done. Therefore, it is much easier to conceive an imperfect creature completely good, than a perfect Being who is so. ...Since, then, we find our understanding incapable of comprehending infinite goodness joined with infinite power, we need not be surprised at finding our thoughts perplexed concerning them ...we may presume that the obscurity rises from something wrong in our ideas, not from any inconsistencies in the subjects themselves." Abraham Tucker, L. of N., i. 355.
14 by the higher mystical ascent, anagwgikwj. The common reading was analogikwj, which Hervetus and Morell have translated. But Krabinger, from all his Codd. but one, has rightly restored anagwgikwj. It is not "analogy," but rather "induction," that is here meant; i. e. the arguing from the known to the unknown, from the facts of human nature (ta kaq' hmaj) to those of the Godhead, or from history to spiritual events. 'Anagwgh is the chief instrument in Origen's interpretation of the Bible; it is more important than allegory. It alone gives the "heavenly" meaning, as opposed to the moral and practical though still mystical (cf. Guericke, Hist. Schol. Catech. ii. p. 60) meaning. Speaking of the Tower of Babel, he says that there is a "riddle" in the account. "A competent exposition will have a more convenient season for dealing with this, when there is a direct necessity to explain the passage in its higher mystical meaning" (c. Cels. iv. p. 173). Gregory imitates his master in constantly thus dealing with the Old Testament, i. e. making inductions about the highest spiritual truths from the "history." So Basil would treat the prophecies (in Isai. v. p. 948). Chrysostom, on the Songs of "Degrees" in the Psalms, says that they are so called because they speak of the going up from Babylon, according to history; but, according to their high mysticism, because they lift us into the way of excellence. Here Gregory uses the facts of human nature neither in the way of mere analogy nor of allegory: he argues straight from them, as one reality, to another reality almost of the same class, as it were, as the first, man being "in the image of God"; and so anagwgh here comes nearer induction than anything else.
15 kaq' upostasin. Ueberweg (Hist. of Philosophy, vol. i. 329) remarks: "That the same argumentation, which in the last analysis reposes only on the double sense of upostasij (viz. : (a) real subsistence; (b) individually independent, not attributive subsistence), could be used with reference to each of the Divine attributes, and so for the complete restoration of polytheism, Gregory leaves unnoticed." Yet Gregory doubtless was well aware of this, for he says, just below, that even a severe study of the mystery can only result in a moderate amount of apprehension of it.
16 it is separate as to personality yet is not divided as to subject matter. The words are respectively upostasij and upokeimenon. The last word is with Gregory, whose clearness in philosophical distinctions makes his use of words very observable, always equivalent to ousia, and ousia generally to fusij. The following note of Casaubon (Epist. ad Eustath.) is valuable: In the Holy. Trinity there is neither "confusion," nor "composition," nor "coalescing"; neither the Sabellian "contraction," any more than the Arian "division," neither on the other hand "estrangement," or "difference." There is "distinction" or "distribution" without division. This word "distribution" is used by Tertullian and others to express the effect of the "persons" (idiothtej, upostaseij, proswpa) upon the Godhead which forms the definition of the substance (o thj ousiaj logoj).
17 i. e. as with the Greek.
18 Ps. xxxiii. 4, Septuagint version.
19 innate ideas (koinwn ennoiwn). There is a Treatise of Gregory introducing Christianity to the Greeks "from innate ideas." This title has been, wrongly, attributed by some to a later hand.
20 Cf. Cato's Speech in Addison's Cato:-
It must be so; Plato, thou reasonest well!-
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire
This longing after immortality?
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis heaven itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
21 Gen i. 27.
22 S. James i. 15: h epiqumia tiktei ...amartian.
23 to kalon. The Greek word for moral perfection, according to one view of its derivation (kaiein), refers to "brightness"; according to another (cf. kekadmenoj), to "finish" or perfection.
24 1 Tim. iv. 4; "rejected" (R.V.), better than "refused" (A.V.).
25 This is not making the Devil the Demiurge, but only the "angel of the Earth." And as the celestial regions and atmosphere of the earth were assigned to "angelic powers," so the Earth itself and her nations were assigned to subordinate angels. Origen had already developed, or rather christianized, this doctrine. Speaking of the Confusion of Tongues, he says, "And so each (nation) had to be handed over to the keeping of angels more or less severe, and or this character or of that, according as each had moved a greater or less distance from the East, and had prepared more or less bricks for stone, and more or less slime for mortar; and had built up more or less. This was that they might be punished for their boldness. These angels who had already created for each nation its peculiar tongue, were to lead their charges into various parts according to their deserts: one for instance to some burning clime, another to one which would chastise the dwellers in it with its freezing: ...those who retained the original speech through not having moved from the East are the only ones that became `the portion of the Lord.0' ...They, too, alone are to be considered as having been under a ruler who did not take them in hand to be punished as the others were' (c. Cels. v. 30-1).
26 "We affirm that it is not easy, or perhaps possible, even for a philosopher to know the origin of evil without its being made known to him by an inspiration of God, whence it comes, and how it shall vanish. Ignorance of God is itself in the list of evils; ignorance of His way of healing and of serving Him aright is itself the greatest evil: we affirm that no one whatever can possibly know the origin of evil, who does not see that the standard of piety recognized by the average of established laws is itself an evil. No one, either can know it who has not grasped the truth about the Being who is called the Devil; what he was at the first, and how he became such as he is."-Origen (c. Cels. iv. 65).
27 1 Cor. ii. 15.
28 istorikwteron kai di' ainigmatwn.
29 "Here," says Semler, "our Author reveals himself as a scholar of Origen, and other doctors, wh,, had imbibed the heathen thoughts of Plato, and wished to rest their system upon a future (purely) moral improvement." There is certainly too little room left here for the application to the soul and body in this life of Christ's atonement.
30 skuqrwpwn epanorqwsij, lit. "a correction consisting in terrible (processes)" (subjective genitive). The following passage will illustrate this: "Now this requires a deeper investigation, before it can be decided whether some evil powers have had assigned them ...certain duties, like the State-executioners, who hold a melancholy (tetagmenoi epi twn skuqrwpwn <\=85_pragmatwn) but necessary office in the Constitution." Origen, c. Cels. vii. 70.
31 in the day of the judgment. The reading ktisewj, which Hervetus has followed, must be wrong here.
32 S. Matt. ix. 12.
33 S. Mark ii. 17.
34 of a wart; murmhkiaj. Gregory uses the same simile in his treatise On the Soul (iii. p. 204). The following "scholium" in Greek is found in the margin of two mss. of that treatise, and in that of one ms. of this treatise: "There is an affection of the skin which is called a wart. A small fleshy excrescence projects from the skin, which seems a part of it, and a natural growth upon it: but this is not really so; and therefore it requires removal for its cure. This illustration made use of by Gregory is exceedingly appropriate to the matter in hand."
35 Ps. xxxix. Ps. (xxxviii.) 11: "When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away" (A. V).
36 i. e. Chapter 1., throughout.