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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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Chapter XII.

Whether, then, there are cycles of time, and floods, or conflagrations which occur periodically or not, and whether the Scripture is aware of this, not only in many passages, but especially where Solomon37193719    [Note this testimony to the authorship of Koheleth, and that it is Scripture.] says, “What is the thing which hath been?  Even that which shall be.  And what is the thing which hath been done?  Even that which shall be done,”37203720    Cf. Eccles. i. 9. etc., etc., belongs not to the present occasion to discuss.  For it is sufficient only to observe, that Moses and certain of the prophets, being men of very great antiquity, did not receive from others the statements relating to the (future) conflagration of the world; but, on the contrary (if we must attend to the matter of time37213721    εἰ χρν ἐπιστήσαντα τοῖς χρόνοις εἰπεῖν.), others rather misunderstanding them, and not inquiring accurately into their statements, invented the fiction of the same events recurring at certain intervals, and differing neither in their essential nor accidental qualities.37223722    ἀνέτλασαν κατὰ περιόδους ταυτότητας, καὶ ἀπαραλλάκτους τοῖς ἰδίοις ποιοῖς καὶ τοῖς συμβεβηκόσιν αὐτοῖς.  But we do not refer either the deluge or the conflagration to cycles and planetary periods; but the cause of them we declare to be the extensive prevalence of wickedness,37233723    κακίαν ἐτὶ πλεῖον χεομένην. and its (consequent) removal by a deluge or a conflagration.  And if the voices of the prophets say that God “comes down,” who has said, “Do I not fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord,”37243724    Cf. Jer. xxiii. 24. the term is used in a figurative sense.  For God “comes down” from His own height and greatness when He arranges the affairs of men, and especially those of the wicked.  And as custom leads men to say that teachers “condescend”37253725    συγκαταβαίνειν. to children, and wise men to those youths who have just betaken themselves to philosophy, not by “descending” in a bodily manner; so, if God is said anywhere in the holy Scriptures to “come down,” it is understood as spoken in conformity with the usage which so employs the word, and, in like manner also with the expression “go up.”37263726    [On this figure (anthropopathy) see vol. ii. p. 363, this series.]


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