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ANF05. Fathers of the Third Century: Hippolytus, Cyprian, Caius, Novatian, Appendix
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Chapter VII.—The System of the Peratæ; Their Tritheism; Explanation of the Incarnation.

There is also unquestionably a certain other (head of the hydra,454454    Something is wanting after Περατική in the text. Miller supplies the deficiency, and his conjecture is adopted above. Literally, it should be rendered—“the Peratic heresy, the blasphemy of which (heretics),” etc. namely, the heresy) of the Peratæ,455455    Most of what is mentioned by Hippolytus concerning this sect is new, as the chief writers on the early heresies are comparatively silent concerning the Peratæ; indeed, Irenæus, Tertullian, and Epiphanius completely so. Clemens Alexandrinus, Strom., vii.; (vol. ii. p. 555), mentions the Peratics, and Theodoret more fully than the rest speaks of them (Hæret. fabul., i. 17).  Theodoret, however, as the Abbe Cruice thinks, has appropriated his remarks from Hippolytus. whose blasphemy against Christ has for many years escaped notice. And the present is a fitting opportunity for bringing to light the secret mysteries of such (heretics). These allege that the world is one, triply divided. And of the triple division with them, one portion is a certain single originating principle, just as it were a huge fountain, which can be divided mentally into infinite segments. Now the first segment, and that which, according to them, is (a segment) in preference (to others),456456    προεχεστέρα or προσεχεστέρα, contiguous. This is Miller’s reading, but is devoid of sense. Προεχεστέρα, adopted by Schneidewin and Cruice, might bear the meaning of the expression par excellence. is a triad, and it is called a Perfect Good, (and) a Paternal Magnitude. And the second portion of the triad of these is, as it were, a certain infinite crowd of potentialities that are generated457457    γεγεννημένων:  Miller reads γεγεννημένον, agreeing with πλῆθος.  Bernays, in his Epistola Critica addressed to Bunsen, proposes the former reading. from themselves, (while) the third is formal.458458    εἰδικοῦ: some read ἰδικοῦ. This term, adopted from the Platonic philosophy, is translated specialis by logicians, and transcendentalis by metaphysicians. It expresses the pre-existent form in the divine mind, according to which material objects were fashioned. The term seems out of place as used by the Peratics to denominate a corruptible and perishing world. We should rather expect ὐλικοῦ, i.e., material.  (See Aristotle’s masterly exposition of the subject of the εἶδος and ὕλη in his Metaphysics book vi., and p. 64 of the analysis prefixed to the translation in Bohn’s Library.) And the first, which is good, is unbegotten, and the second is a self-producing good, and the third is created; and hence it is that they expressly declare that there are three Gods, three Logoi, three Minds, three Men. For to each portion of the world, after the division has been made, they assign both Gods, and Logoi, and Minds, and Men, and the rest; but that from unorigination and the first segment459459    πρώτης or πρὸ τῆς, “antecedent to the segment.” of the world, when afterwards the world had attained unto its completion, there came down from above, for causes that we shall afterwards declare, in the time of Herod a certain man called Christ, with a threefold nature, and a threefold body, and a threefold power, (and) having in himself all (species of) concretions and potentialities (derivable) from the three divisions of the world; and that this, says (the Peratic), is what is spoken: “It pleased him that in him should dwell all fulness bodily,”460460    σωματικῶς, i.e., substantially. See Col. i. 19; ii. 9. and in Him the entire Divinity resides of the triad as thus divided. For, he says, that from the two superjacent worlds—namely, from that (portion of the triad) which is unbegotten, and from that which is self-producing—there have been conveyed down into this world in which we are, seeds of all sorts of potentialities. What, however, the mode of the descent is, we shall afterwards declare.

(The Peratic) then says that Christ descended from above from unorigination, that by His descent all things triply divided might be saved. For some things, he says, being borne down from above, will ascend through Him, whereas whatever (beings) form plots against those which are carried down from above are cast off,461461    ἀφίεται: some read ἀφιει, i.e., dismisses; some ἀφιεῖ εἰκῆ, i.e., heedlessly casts off. Hippolytus, in his Summary of the Peratic Heresy in book x., has αφιεται εἰκῆ, which Cruice translates temere absolvuntur. Schneidewin has in the same passage ἀφίεται merely, and translates it abjiciuntur. In both places Bernays suggests ὀφιοειδῆ, i.e., those of the nature of the Serpent. and being placed in a state of punishment, are renounced. This, he says, is what is spoken: “For the Son of man came not into the world to destroy the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The world, he says, he denominates those two parts that are situated above, viz., both the unbegotten (portion of the triad), and the self-produced one. And when Scripture, he says, uses the words, “that we may not be condemned with the world,” it alludes to the third portion of (the triad, that is) the formal world. For the third portion, which he styles the world (in which we are), must perish; but the two (remaining portions), which are situated above, must be rescued from corruption.


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