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ANF01. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus
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Chapter XXII.—Studied ambiguity of Plato.

Plato accordingly having learned this in Egypt, and being greatly taken with what was said about one God, did indeed consider it unsafe to mention the name of Moses, on account of his teaching the doctrine of one only God, for he dreaded the Areopagus; but what is very well expressed by him in his elaborate treatise, the Timæus, he has written in exact correspondence with what Moses said regarding God, though he has done so, not as if he had learned it from him, but as if he were expressing his own opinion. For he said, “In my opinion, then, we must first define what that is which exists eternally, and has no generation,25512551    That is, “is not produced or created; has no birth.” and what that is which is always being generated, but never really is.” Does not this, ye men of Greece, seem to those who are able to understand the matter to be one and the same thing, saving only the difference of the article? For Moses said, “He who is,” and Plato, “That which is.” But either of the expressions seems to apply to the ever-existent God. For He is the only one who eternally exists, and has no generation. What, then, that other thing is which is contrasted with the ever-existent, and of which he said, “And what that is which is always being generated, but never really is,” we must attentively consider. For we shall find him clearly and evidently saying that He who is unbegotten is eternal, but that those that are begotten and made are generated and perish25522552    Or, “are born and die.” —as he said of the same class, “gods of gods, of whom I am maker”—for he speaks in the following words: “In my opinion, then, we must first define what that is which is always existent and has no birth, and what that is which is always being generated but never really is. The former, indeed, which is apprehended by reflection combined with reason, always exists in the same way;25532553    κατὰ ταὐτά “according to the same things,” i.e., in eternal immutability. while the latter, on the other hand, is conjectured by opinion formed by the perception of the senses unaided by reason, since it never really is, but is coming into being and perishing.” These expressions declare to those who can rightly understand them the death and destruction of the gods that have been brought into being. And I think it necessary to attend to this also, that Plato never names him the creator, but the fashioner25542554    Or, “demiurge or maker.” of the gods, although, in the opinion of Plato, there is considerable difference between these two. For the creator creates the creature by his own capability and power, being in need of nothing else; but the fashioner frames his production when he has received from matter the capability for his work.


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