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ANF04. Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second
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Book IV.—Of Marcion’s Antitheses.15391539    The state of the text in some parts of this book is frightful.  It has been almost hopeless to extract any sense whatever out of the Latin in many passages—indeed, the renderings are in these cases little better than guess-work—and the confusion of images, ideas, and quotations is extraordinary.

What the Inviolable Power bids

The youthful people,15401540    See the preceding book. which, rich, free, and heir,

Possesses an eternal hope of praise

(By right assigned) is this:  that with great zeal

5  Burning, armed with the love of peace—yet not

As teachers (Christ alone doth all things teach15411541    I have changed the unintelligible “daret” of the edd. into “docet.”  The reference seems to be to Matt. xxiii. 8; Jas. iii. 1; 1 Pet. v. 2, 3.),

But as Christ’s household—servants—o’er the earth

They should conduct a massive war;15421542    Molem belli deducere terræ. should raze

The wicked’s lofty towers, savage walls,

10  And threats which ’gainst the holy people’s bands

Rise, and dissolve such empty sounds in air.

Wherefore we, justly speaking emulous words,15431543    Æmulamenta.  Migne seems to think the word refers to Marcion’s “Antitheses.”

Out of his15441544    i.e., apparently Marcion’s. own words even strive to express

The meaning of salvation’s records,15451545    Monumenta. which

15  Large grace hath poured profusely; and to ope

To the saints’ eyes the Bandit’s15461546    See the opening of the preceding book. covert plague:

Lest any untrained, daring, ignorant,

Fall therein unawares, and (being caught)

Forfeit celestial gifts.

God, then, is One

20  To mortals all and everywhere; a Realm

Eternal, Origin of light profound;

Life’s Fount; a Draught fraught15471547    “Conditus;” i.e., probably (in violation of quantity) the past part. of “condio” = flavoured, seasoned. with all wisdom.  He

Produced the orb whose bosom all things girds;

Him not a region, not a place, includes as

25  In circuit:  matter none perennial is,15481548    I have altered the punctuation here.

So as to be self-made, or to have been

Ever, created by no Maker:  heaven’s,

Earth’s, sea’s, and the abyss’s15491549    Inferni. Settler15501550    Locator. is

The Spirit; air’s Divider, Builder, Author,

30  Sole God perpetual, Power immense, is He.15511551    These lines are capable, according to their punctuation, of various renderings, which for brevity’s sake I must be content to omit.

Him had the Law the People15521552    i.e., the People of Israel.  See the de Idol., p. 148, c. v. note 1. shown to be

One God,15531553    See Deut. vi. 3, 4, quoted in Mark xii. 29, 30. whose mighty voice to Moses spake

Upon the mount.  Him this His Virtue, too,

His Wisdom, Glory, Word, and Son, this Light

35  Begotten from the Light immense,15541554    This savours of the Nicene Creed. proclaims

Through the seers’ voices, to be One:  and Paul,15551555    Migne’s pointing is followed, in preference to Oehler’s.

Taking the theme in order up, thus too

Himself delivers; “Father there is One15561556    “Unum hunc esse Patrem;” i.e., “that this One (God) is the Father.”  But I rather incline to read, “unumque esse;” or we may render, “This One is the Sire.”

Through whom were all things made:  Christ One, through whom

40  God all things made;”15571557    See 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6 (but notice the prepositions in the Greek; our author is not accurate in rendering them); Eph. iv. 4, 5, 6. to whom he plainly owns

That every knee doth bow itself;15581558    Ad quem se curvare genu plane omne fatetur.  The reference is to Phil. ii. 10; but our author is careless in using the present tense, “se curvare.” of whom

Is every fatherhood15591559    The reference is to Eph. iii. 14, 15; but here again our author seems in error, as he refers the words to Christ, whereas the meaning of the apostle appears clearly to refer them tothe Father. in heaven and earth

Called:  who is zealous with the highest love

Of parent-care His people-ward; and wills

45  All flesh to live in holy wise, and wills

His people to appear before Him pure

Without a crime.  With such zeal, by a law15601560    Legitimos.  See book iv. 91.

Guards He our safety; warns us loyal be;

Chastens; is instant.  So, too, has the same

50  Apostle (when Galatian brethren

Chiding)—Paul—written that such zeal hath he.15611561    See Gal. iii. 20.  But here, again, “Galatas” seems rather like an error; for in speaking to the Corinthians St. Paul uses an expression more like our author’s:  see 2 Cor. xi. 2.  The Latin, too, is faulty:  “Talem se Paulus zelum se scripsit habere,” where, perhaps, for the first “se” we should read “sic.

The fathers’sins God freely rendered, then,

Slaying in whelming deluge utterly Parents alike with progeny, and e’en

55  Grandchildren in “fourth generation”15621562    Comp. Ex. xx. 5; Deut. v. 9. now

Descended from the parent-stock, when He

Has then for nearly these nine hundred years

Assisted them.  Hard does the judgment seem?

The sentence savage?  And in Sodom, too,

60  That the still guiltless little one unarmed

And tender should lose life:  for what had e’er

The infant sinned?  What cruel thou mayst think,

Is parent-care’s true duty.  Lest misdeed

Should further grow, crime’s authors He did quench,

65  And sinful parents’ brood.  But, with his sires,

The harmless infant pays not penalties

Perpetual, ignorant and not advanced

In crime:  but lest he partner should become

Of adult age’s guilt, death immature

70  Undid spontaneous future ills.

Why, then,

Bids God libation to be poured to Him

With blood of sheep? and takes so stringent means

By Law, that, in the People, none transgress

Erringly, threatening them with instant death

75  By stoning? and why reprobates, again,

These gifts of theirs, and says they are to Him

Unwelcome, while He chides a People prest

With swarm of sin?15631563    See Isa. i. 10–15; Jer. vi. 20.  Does He, the truthful, bid,

And He, the just, at the same time repel?

80  The causes if thou seekst, cease to be moved

Erringly:  for faith’s cause is weightier

Than fancied reason.15641564    Causa etenim fidei rationis imagine major.  Through a mirror15651565    Comp. 1 Cor. xiii. 12; Heb. x. 1.—shade

Of fulgent light!—behold what the calf’s blood,

The heifer’s ashes, and each goat, do mean:

85  The one dismissed goes off, the other falls

A victim at the temple.

With calf’s blood

With water mixt the seer15661566    Moses.  See Heb. ix. 19–22, and the references there. (thus from on high

Bidden) besprinkled People, vessels all,

Priests, and the written volumes of the Law.

90  See here not their true hope, nor yet a mere

Semblance devoid of virtue:15671567    Comp. Heb. ix. 13.  but behold

In the calf’s type Christ destined bodily

To suffer; who upon His shoulders bare

The plough-beam’s hard yokes,15681568    Alluding probably to our Lord’s bearing of the cross-beam of His cross—the beam being the “yokes,” and the upright stem of the cross the “plough-beam”—on His shoulders.—See John xix. 17. and with fortitude

95  Brake His own heart with the steel share, and poured

Into the furrows water of His own

Life’s blood.  For these “temple-vessels” do

Denote our bodies:  God’s true temple15691569    Templum.  Comp. John ii. 19–22; Col. ii. 9. He,

Not dedicated erst; for to Himself

100  He by His blood associated men,

And willed them be His body’s priests, Himself

The Supreme Father’s perfect Priest by right.

Hearing, sight, step inert, He cleansed; and, for a “book,”15701570    Libro.  The reference is to the preceding lines, especially 89, and Heb. ix. 19, αὐτὸ τὸ βιβλίον.  The use of “libro” is curious, as it seems to be used partly as if it would be equivalent to pro libro, “in the place of a book,” partly in a more truly datival sense, “to serve the purposes of a book;” and our “for” is capable of the two senses.

Sprinkled, by speaking15711571    For this comparison of “speaking” to “sprinkling,” comp. Deut. xxxii. 2, “My doctrine shall drop as the rain; my speech shall distil as the dew,” etc.; Job xxix. 22, “My speech dropped upon them;” with Eph. v. 26, and with our Lord’s significant action (recorded in the passage here alluded to, John xx. 22) of “breathing on” (ἐνεφύσησεν) His disciples.  Comp., too, for the “witnesses” and “words of presage,” Luke xxiv. 48, 49; Acts i. 6–8. words of presage, those

105  His witnesses:  demonstrating the Law

Bound by His holy blood.

This cause withal

Our victim through “the heifer” manifests

From whose blood taking for the People’s sake

Piacular drops, them the first Levite15721572    i.e., the chief of the Levites, the high priest. bare

110  Within the veil; and, by God’s bidding, burned

Her corse without the camp’s gates; with whose ash

He cleansed lapsed bodies.

Thus our Lord (who us

By His own death redeemed), without the camp15731573    Comp. Heb. xiii. 12, 13; John xix. 19, 20.

Willingly suffering the violence

115  Of an iniquitous People, did fulfil

The Law, by facts predictions proving;15741574    Comp. the preceding book, 355. who

A people of contamination full

Doth truly cleanse, conceding all things, as

The body’s Author rich; within heaven’s veil

120  Gone with the blood which—One for many’s deaths—

He hath outpoured.

A holy victim, then,

Is meet for a great priest; which worthily

He, being perfect, may be proved to have,

And offer.  He a body hath:  this is

125  For mortals a live victim; worthy this

Of great price did He offer, One for all.

The15751575    The passage which follows is almost unintelligible.  The sense which I have offered in my text is so offered with great diffidence, as I am far from certain of having hit the meaning; indeed, the state of the text is such, that any meaning must be a matter of some uncertainty. semblance of the “goats” teaches that they

Are men exiled out of the “peoples twain”15761576    i.e., perhaps the Jewish and Christian peoples.  Comp. adv. Jud., c. 1.

As barren;15771577    i.e., “barren” of faith and good works.  The “goats” being but “kids” (see Lev. xvi. 8), would, of course, be barren.  “Exiled” seems to mean “excommunicated.”  But the comparison of the sacrificed goat to a penitent, and of the scapegoat to an impenitent, excommunicate, is extravagant.  Yet I see no other sense. fruitless both; (of whom the Lord

130  Spake also, in the Gospel, telling how

The kids are severed from the sheep, and stand

On the left hand15781578    See Matt. xxv. 31–33.):  that some indeed there are

Who for the Lord’s Name’s sake have suffered:  thus

That fruit has veiled their former barrenness:

135  And such, the prophet teaches, on the ground

Of that their final merit worthy are

Of the Lord’s altar:  others, cast away

(As was th’ iniquitous rich man, we read,

By Lazarus15791579    i.e., Lazarus was not allowed to help him.  In that sense he may be said to have been “cast away;” but it is Abraham, not Lazarus, who pronounces his doom.  See Luke xvi. 19–31.), are such as have remained

140  Exiled, persistent in their stubbornness.

Now a veil, hanging in the midst, did both

Dissever,15801580    i.e., in that the blood of the one was brought within the veil; the other was not. and had into portions twain

Divided the one shrine.15811581    Ædem.  The inner parts

Were called “Holies of holies.” Stationed there

145  An altar shone, noble with gold; and there,

At the same time, the testaments and ark

Of the Law’s tablets; covered wholly o’er

With lambs’skins15821582    The meaning seems to be, that the ark, when it had to be removed from place to place, had (as we learn from Num. iv. 5) to be covered with “the second veil” (as it is called in Heb. ix. 3), which was “of blue,” etc.  But that this veil was made “of lambs’ skins” does not appear; on the contrary, it was made of “linen.”  The outer veil, indeed (not the outmost, which was of “badgers’ skins,” according to the Eng. ver.; but of “ὑακίνθινα δερματα”—of what material is not said—according to the LXX.), was made “of rams’ skins;” but then they were “dyed red” (ἡρυθροδανωμένα, LXX.), not “blue.”  So there is some confusion in our author. dyed with heaven’s hue; within

Gold-clad;15831583    The ark was overlaid with gold without as well as within.  (See Ex. xxv. 10, 11; xxxvii. 1, 2; and this is referred to in Heb. ix. 3, 4κιβωτὸνπερικεκαλυμμένην—where our Eng. ver. rendering is defective, and in the context as well.)  This, however, may be said to be implied in the following words:  “and all between,” i.e., between the layers above and beneath, “of wood.” and all between of wood.  Here are so

150  The tablets of the Law; here is the urn

Replete with manna; here is Aaron’s rod

Which puts forth germens of the cross15841584    Migne supposes some error in these words.  Certainly the sense is dark enough; but see lower down.—unlike

The cross itself, yet born of storax-tree15851585    It yielded “almonds,” according to the Eng. ver. (Num. xvii. 8).  But see the LXX.—And over it—in uniformity

155  Fourfold—the cherubim their pinions spread,

And the inviolable sanctities15861586    Sagmina.  But the word is a very strange one to use indeed.  See the Latin Lexicons, s.v.

Covered obediently.15871587    It might be questionable whether “jussa” refers to “cherubim” or to “sagmina.”  Without the veil

Part of the shrine stood open:  facing it,

Heavy with broad brass, did an altar stand;

160  And with two triple sets (on each side one)

Of branches woven with the central stem,

A lampstand, and as many15881588    i.e., twice three + the central one = 7. lamps:

The golden substance wholly filled with light

The temple.15891589    Our author persists in calling the tabernacle temple.

Thus the temple’s outer face,

165  Common and open, does the ritual

Denote, then, of a people lingering

Beneath the Law; amid whose15901590    i.e., the Law’s. gloom there shone

The Holy Spirit’s sevenfold unity

Ever, the People sheltering.15911591    “Tegebat,” i.e., with the “fiery-cloudy pillar,” unless it be an error for “regebat,” which still might apply to the pillar.  And thus

170  The Lampstand True and living Lamps do shine

Persistently throughout the Law and Seers

On men subdued in heart.  And for a type

Of earth,15921592    Terræ. the altar—so tradition says—

Was made.  Here constantly, in open space,

175  Before all eyes were visible of old

The People’s “works,”15931593    “Operæ,” i.e., sacrifices.  The Latin is a hopeless jumble of words without grammatical sequence, and any rendering is mere guesswork. which ever—“not without

Blood”15941594    Heb. ix. 7.—it did offer, shedding out the gore

Of lawless life.15951595    i.e., of animals which, as irrational, were “without the Law.”  There, too, the Lord—Himself

Made victim on behalf of all—denotes

180  The whole earth15961596    Terram.—altar in specific sense.

Hence likewise that new covenant author, whom

No language can describe, Disciple John,

Testifies that beneath such altar he

Saw souls which had for Christ’s name suffered,

185  Praying the vengeance of the mighty God

Upon their slaughter.15971597    Rev. vi. 9, 10.  There,15981598    i.e., beneath the altar.  See the 11th verse ib. meantime, is rest.

In some unknown part there exists a spot

Open, enjoying its own light; ’tis called

“Abraham’s bosom;” high above the glooms,15991599    Or possibly, “deeper than the glooms:”  “altior a tenebris.”

190  And far removed from fire, yet ’neath the earth.16001600    Terra.

The brazen altar this is called, whereon

(We have recorded) was a dusky veil.16011601    See 141, 142, above.

This veil divides both parts, and leaves the one

Open, from the eternal one distinct

195  In worship and time’s usage.  To itself

Tis not unfriendly, though of fainter love,

By time and space divided, and yet linked

By reason.  ’Tis one house, though by a veil

Parted it seems:  and thus (when the veil burst,

200  On the Lord’s passion) heavenly regions oped

And holy vaults,16021602    Cælataque sancta.  We might conjecture “celataque sancta,” ="and the sanctuaries formerly hidden.” and what was double erst

Became one house perennial.

Order due

Traditionally has interpreted

The inner temple of the people called

205  After Christ’s Name, with worship heavenly,

God’s actual mandates following; (no “shade”

Is herein bound, but persons real;16031603    This sense appears intelligible, as the writer’s aim seems to be to distinguish between the “actual” commands of God, i.e., the spiritual, essential ones, which the spiritual people “follow,” and which “bind”—not the ceremonial observance of a “shadow of the future blessings” (see Heb. x. 1), but “real persons,” i.e., living souls.  But, as Migne has said, the passage is probably faulty and mutilated.) complete

By the arrival of the “perfect things.”16041604    Comp. Heb. vii. 19; x. 1; xi. 11, 12.

The ark beneath a type points out to us

210  Christ’s venerable body, joined, through “wood,”16051605    “Lignum:”  here probably ="the flesh,” which He took from Mary; the “rod” (according to our author) which Isaiah had foretold.

With sacred Spirit:  the aërial16061606    Aërial, i.e., as he said above, “dyed with heaven’s hue.” skins

Are flesh not born of seed, outstretcht on “wood;”16071607    “Ligno,” i.e., “the cross,” represented by the “wood” of which the tabernacle’s boards, on which the coverings were stretched (but comp. 147–8, above), were made.

At the same time, with golden semblance fused,16081608    As the flame of the lamps appeared to grow out of and be fused with the “golden semblance” or “form” of the lampstand or candlestick.

Within, the glowing Spirit joined is

215  Thereto; that, with peace16091609    Of which the olive—of which the pure oil for the lamps was to be made:  Ex. xxvii. 20; Lev. xxiv. 2—is a type.  “Peace” is granted to “the flesh” through Christ’s work and death in flesh. granted, flesh might bloom

With Spirit mixt.  Of the Lord’s flesh, again,

The urn, golden and full, a type doth bear.

Itself denotes that the new covenant’s Lord

Is manna; in that He, true heavenly Bread,

220  Is, and hath by the Father been transfused16101610    Traditus.

Into that bread which He hath to His saints

Assigned for a pledge:  this Bread will He

Give perfectly to them who (of good works

The lovers ever) have the bonds of peace

225  Kept.  And the double tablets of the law

Written all over, these, at the same time,

Signify that that Law was ever hid

In Christ, who mandate old and new fulfilled,

Ark of the Supreme Father as He is,

230  Through whom He, being rich, hath all things given.

The storax-rod, too, nut’s fruit bare itself;

(The virgin’s semblance this, who bare in blood

A body:)  on the “wood”16111611    In ligno.  The passage is again in an almost desperate state. conjoined ’twill lull

Death’s bitter, which within sweet fruit doth lurk,

235  By virtue of the Holy Spirit’s grace:

Just as Isaiah did predict “a rod”

From Jesse’s seed16121612    Isa. xi. 1, 2.—Mary—from which a flower

Issues into the orb.

The altar bright with gold

Denotes the heaven on high, whither ascend

240  Prayers holy, sent up without crime:  the Lord

This “altar” spake of, where if one doth gifts

Offer, he must first reconciliate

Peace with his brother:16131613    Matt. v. 23, 24.  thus at length his prayers

Can flame unto the stars.  Christ, Victor sole

245  And foremost.16141614    Primus.  Priest, thus offered incense born

Not of a tree, but prayers.16151615    See Rev. viii. 3, 4.

The cherubim16161616    Here ensues a confused medley of all the cherubic figures of Moses, Ezekiel, and St. John.

Being, with twice two countenances, one,

And are the one word through fourfold order led;16171617    i.e., by the four evangelists.

The hoped comforts of life’s mandate new,

250  Which in their plenitude Christ bare Himself

Unto us from the Father.  But the wings

In number four times six,16181618    The cherubim, (or, “seraphim” rather,) of Isa. vi. have each six wings.  Ezekiel mentions four cherubim, or “living creatures.”  St. John likewise mentions four “living creatures.”  Our author, combining the passages, and thrusting them into the subject of the Mosaic cherubim, multiplies the six (wings) by the four (cherubs), and so attains his end—the desired number “twenty-four”—to represent the books of the Old Testament, which (by combining certain books) may be reckoned to be twenty-four in number. the heraldings

Of the old world denote, witnessing things

Which, we are taught, were after done.  On these16191619    These wings.

255  The heavenly words fly through the orb:  with these

Christ’s blood is likewise held context, so told

Obscurely by the seers’ presaging mouth.

The number of the wings doth set a seal

Upon the ancient volumes; teaching us

260  Those twenty-four have certainly enough

Which sang the Lord’s ways and the times of peace:

These all, we see, with the new covenant

Cohere.  Thus also John; the Spirit thus

To him reveals that in that number stand

265  The enthroned elders white16201620    There is again some great confusion in the text.  The elders could not “stand enthroned:”  nor do they stand “over,” but “around” God’s throne; so that the “insuper solio” could not apply to that. and crowned, who (as

With girding-rope) all things surround, before

The Lord’s throne, and upon the glassy sea

Subigneous:  and four living creatures, winged

And full of eyes within and outwardly,

270  Do signify that hidden things are oped,

And all things shut are at the same time seen,

In the word’s eye.  The glassy flame-mixt sea

Means that the laver’s gifts, with Spirit fused

Therein, upon believers are conferred.

275  Who could e’en tell what the Lord’s parent-care

Before His judgment-seat, before His bar,

Prepared hath? that such as willing be

His forum and His judgment for themselves

To antedate, should ’scape! that who thus hastes

280  Might find abundant opportunity!

Thus therefore Law and wondrous prophets sang;

Thus all parts of the covenant old and new,

Those sacred rights and pregnant utterances

Of words, conjoined, do flourish.  Thus withal,

285  Apostles’ voices witness everywhere;

Nor aught of old, in fine, but to the new

Is joined.

Thus err they, and thus facts retort

Their sayings, who to false ways have declined;

And from the Lord and God, eternal King,

290  Who such an orb produced, detract, and seek

Some other deity ’neath feigned name,

Bereft of minds, which (frenzied) they have lost;

Willing to affirm that Christ a stranger is

To the Law; nor is the world’s16211621    Mundi. Lord; nor doth will

295  Salvation of the flesh; nor was Himself

The body’s Maker, by the Father’s power.16221622    Virtute.

Them must we flee, stopping (unasked) our ears;

Lest with their speech they stain innoxious hearts.

Let therefore us, whom so great grace16231623    Honestas. of God

300  Hath penetrated, and the true celestial words

Of the great Master-Teacher in good ways

Have trained, and given us right monuments;16241624    Or, “records:”  “monumenta,” i.e., the written word, according to the canon.

Pay honour ever to the Lord, and sing

Endlessly, joying in pure faith, and sure

305  Salvation.  Born of the true God, with bread

Perennial are we nourished, and hope

With our whole heart after eternal life.


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