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2. The Doctrines of the Church.
In the following section we do not intend to give a presentation of the theology of Irenæus and the other Antignostic Church teachers, but merely to set forth those points of doctrine to which the teachings of these men gave currency in succeeding times.
Against the Gnostic theses498498See Böhringer’s careful reviews of the theology of Irenæus and Tertullian (Kirchengeschichte in Biographien, Vol. I. 1st section, 1st half (2nd ed.), pp. 378-612, 2nd half, pp. 484-739). Irenæus and his successors, apart from the proof from prescription, adduced the following intrinsic considerations: (1) In the case of the Gnostics and Marcion the Deity lacks absoluteness, because he does not embrace everything, that is, he is bounded by the kenoma or by the sphere of a second God; and also because his omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence have a corresponding limitation.499499To the proof from prescription belong the arguments derived from the novelty and contradictory multiplicity of the Gnostic doctrines as well as the proofs that Greek philosophy is the original source of heresy. See Iren. II. 14. 1-6; Tertull. de præscr. 7; Apolog. 47 and other places; the Philosophoumena of Hippolytus. On Irenæus’ criticism of Gnostic theology see Kunze, Gotteslehre des Irenäus, Leipzig, 1891, p. 8 ff. (2) The assumption of divine emanations and of a differentiated 248divine pleroma represents the Deity as a composite, i.e.,500500See Irenæus II. I. 2-4: II. 31. 1. Tertull., adv. Marc. I. 2-7. Tertullian proves that there can be neither two morally similar, nor two morally dissimilar Deities; see also I. 15. finite being; and, moreover, the personification of the divine qualities is a mythological freak, the folly of which is evident as soon as one also makes the attempt to personify the affections and qualities of man in a similar way.501501See Irenæus II. 13. Tertullian (ad Valent. 4) very appropriately defined the æons of Ptolemy as “personales substantias extra deum determinatas, quas Valentinus in ipsa summa divinitatis ut sensus et affectus motus incluserat.” (3) The attempt to make out conditions existing within the Godhead is in itself absurd and audacious.502502See Irenæus, l.c., and elsewhere in the 2nd Book, Tertull. adv. Valent. in several passages. Moreover, Irenæus still treated the first 8 Ptolemaic æons with more respect than the 22 following, because here at least there was some appearance of a Biblical foundation. In confuting the doctrine of æons he incidentally raised several questions (II. 17. 2), which Church theologians discussed in later times, with reference to the Son and Spirit. “Quæritur quemadmodum emissi sunt reliqui æones? Utrum uniti ei qui emiserit, quemadmodum a sole radii, an efficabiliter et partiliter, uti sit unusquisque eorum separatim et suam figurationem habens, quemadmodum ab homine homo . . . Aut secundum germinationem, quemadmodum ab arbore rami? Et utrum eiusdem substantiæ exsistebant his qui se emiserunt, an ex altera quadam substantia substantiam habentes? Et utrum in eodem emissi sunt, ut eiusdem temporis essent sibi? . . . Et utrum simplices quidam et uniformes et undique sibi æquales et similes, quemadmodum spiritus et lumina emissa sunt, an compositi et differentes”? See also II. 17. 4: “Si autem velut a lumine lumina accensa sunt . . . velut verbi gratia a facula faculæ, generatione quidem et magnitudine fortasse distabunt ab invicem; eiusdem autem substantiæ cum sint cum principe emissionis ipsorum, aut omnes impassibiles perseverant aut et pater ipsorum participabit passiones. Neque enim quæ postea accensa est facula, alterum lumen habebit quam illud quod ante eam fuit.” Here we have already a statement of the logical reasons, which in later times were urged against the Arian doctrine. (4) The theory of the passion and ignorance of Sophia introduces sin into the pleroma itself, i.e., into the Godhead.503503See Iren. II. 17. 5 and II. 18. With this the weightiest argument against the Gnostic cosmogony is already mentioned. A further argument against the system is that the world and mankind would have been incapable of improvement, if they had owed their origin to ignorance and sin.504504See Iren. II. 4. 2. Irenæus and Tertullian employ lengthy arguments to show that a God who has created nothing is inconceivable, 249and that a Demiurge occupying a position alongside of or below the Supreme Being is self-contradictory, inasmuch as he sometimes appears higher than this Supreme Being, and sometimes so weak and limited that one can no longer look on him as a God.505505Tertullian in particular argued in great detail (adv. Marc. I. 9-19) that every God must, above all, have revealed himself as a creator. In opposition to Marcion’s rejection of all natural theology, he represents this science as the foundation of all religious belief. In this connection he eulogised the created world (I. 13) and at the same time (see also the 2nd Book) argued in favour of the Demiurge, i.e., of the one true God. Irenæus urged a series of acute and weighty objections to the cosmogony of the Valentinians (see II. 1-5), and showed how untenable was the idea of the Demiurge as an intermediate being. The doctrines that the Supreme Being is unknown (II. 6), that the Demiurge is the blind instrument of higher æons, that the world was created against the will of the Supreme God, and, lastly, that our world is the imperfect copy of a higher one were also opposed by him with rational arguments. His refutation of the last conception is specially remarkable (II. 7). On the idea that God did not create the world from eternal matter see Tertull., adv. Hermog. The Fathers everywhere argue on behalf of the Gnostic Demiurge and against the Gnostic supreme God. It never occurs to them to proceed in the opposite way and prove that the supreme God may be the Creator. All their efforts are rather directed to show that the Creator of the world is the only and supreme God, and that there can be no other above this one. This attitude of the Fathers is characteristic; for it proves that the apologetico-philosophical theology was their fundamental assumption. The Gnostic (Marcionite) supreme God is the God of religion, the God of redemption; the Demiurge is the being required to explain the world. The intervention of the Fathers on his behalf, that is, their assuming him as the basis of their arguments, reveals what was fundamental and what was accidental in their religious teaching. At the same time, however, it shows plainly that they did not understand or did not feel the fundamental problem that troubled and perplexed the Gnostics and Marcion, viz., the qualitative distinction between the spheres of creation and redemption. They think they have sufficiently explained this distinction by the doctrine of human freedom and its consequences. Accordingly their whole mode of argument against the Gnostics and Marcion is, in point of content, of an abstract, philosophico‑rational 250kind.506506But this very method of argument was without doubt specially impressive in the case of the educated, and it is these alone of whom we are here speaking. On the decay of Gnosticism after the end of the 2nd century, see Renan, Origines, Vol. VII, p. 113 ff. As a rule they do not here carry on their controversy with the aid of reasons taken from the deeper views of religion. As soon as the rational argument fails, however, there is really an entire end to the refutation from inner grounds, at least in the case of Tertullian; and the contest is shifted into the sphere of the rule of faith and the Holy Scriptures. Hence, for example, they have not succeeded in making much impression on the heretical Christology from dogmatic considerations, though in this respect Irenæus was still very much more successful than Tertullian.507507See his arguments that the Gnostics merely assert that they have only one Christ, whereas they actually possess several, III. 16. 1, 8 and elsewhere. Besides, in adv. Marc. II. 27, the latter betrayed what interest he took in the preëxistent Christ as distinguished from God the Father. It is not expedient to separate the arguments advanced by the Fathers against the Gnostics from their own positive teachings, for these are throughout dependent on their peculiar attitude within the sphere of Scripture and tradition.
Irenæus and Hippolytus have been rightly named Scripture theologians; but it is a strange infatuation to think that this designation characterises them as evangelical. If indeed we here understand “evangelical” in the vulgar sense, the term may be correct, only in this case it means exactly the same as “Catholic”. But if “evangelical” signifies “early-Christian”, then it must be said that Scripture theology was not the primary means of preserving the ideas of primitive Christianity; for, as the New Testament Scriptures were also regarded as inspired documents and were to be interpreted according to the regula, their content was just for that reason apt to be obscured. Both Marcion and the chiefs of the Valentinian school had also been Scripture theologians. Irenæus and Hippolytus merely followed them. Now it is true that they very decidedly argued against the arbitrary method of interpreting the Scriptures adopted by Valentinus, and compared it to the process of forming the mosaic picture 251of a king into the mosaic picture of a fox, and the poems of Homer into any others one might choose;508508See Iren., I. 9 and elsewhere; Tertull., de præscr. 39, adv. Valent. passim. but they just as decidedly protested against the rejection by Apelles and Marcion of the allegorical method of interpretation,509509See Tertull., adv. Marc. II. 19, 21, 22: III. 5, 6, 14, 19: V. I.; Orig. Comm. in Matth., T. XV. 3, Opp. III., p. 655; Comm. in ep. ad Rom., T. II. 12. Opp. IV., p. 494 sq.; Pseudo-Orig. Adamantius, De recta in deum fide; Orig. I. pp. 808, 817. and therefore were not able to set up a canon really capable of distinguishing their own interpretation from that of the Gnostics.510510For this reason Tertullian altogether forbade exegetic disputes with the Gnostics, see de præscr. 16-19: “Ego non ad scripturas provocandum est nec in his constituendum certamen, in quibus aut nulla aut incerta victoria est aut parum certa.” The Scripture theology of the old Catholic Fathers has a twofold aspect. The religion of the Scripture is no longer the original form; it is the mediated, scientific one to be constructed by a learned process; it is, on its part, the strongest symptom of the secularisation that has begun. In a word, it is the religion of the school, first the Gnostic then the ecclesiastical. But it may, on the other hand, be a whole-some reaction against enthusiastic excess and moralistic frigidity; and the correct sense of the letter will from the first obtain imperceptible recognition in opposition to the “spirit” arbitrarily read into it, and at length banish this “spirit” completely. Irenæus certainly tried to mark off the Church use of the Scriptures as distinguished from the Gnostic practice. He rejects the accommodation theory of which some Gnostics availed themselves;511511See Iren., III. 5. I: III. 12. 6. he emphasises more strongly than these the absolute sufficiency of the Scriptures by repudiating all esoteric doctrines;512512See Iren., III. 14. 2: III. 15. 1; Tertull., de præscr. 25: “Scripturæ quidem perfecta sunt, quippe a verbo dei et spiritu eius dictæ, nos autem secundum quod minores sumus et novissimi a verbo dei et spiritu eius, secundum hoc et scientia mysteriorum eius indigemus.” he rejects all distinction between different kinds of inspiration in the sacred books;513513See Iren. II. 35. 2: IV. 34, 35 and elsewhere. Irenæus also asserted that the translation of the Septuagint (III. 21. 4) was inspired. The repudiation of different kinds of inspiration in the Scriptures likewise involved the rejection of all the critical views of the Gnostics that were concealed behind that assumption. The Alexandrians were the first who again to some extent adopted these critical principles. he lays down the maxim that the obscure passages 252are to be interpreted from the clear ones, not vice versâ;514514See Iren. II. 10. 1: II. 27. 1, 2. but this principle being in itself ambiguous, it is rendered quite unequivocal by the injunction to interpret everything according to the rule of faith515515See Iren. II. 25. 1. and, in the case of all objectionable passages, to seek the type.516516Irenæus appropriates the words of an Asia Minor presbyter when he says (IV. 32. I): De his quidem delictis, de quibus ipsæ scripturæ increpant patriarchas et prophetas, nos non oportere exprobare eis . . . de quibus autem scripturæ non increpant (scil. delictis), sed simpliciter sunt posits, nos non debere fieri accusatores, sed typum quærere.” Not only did Irenæus explain the Old Testament allegorically, in accordance with traditional usage;517517See, e.g., IV. 20. 12 where he declares the three spies whom Rahab entertained to be Father, Son, and Spirit. but according to the principle: “with God there is nothing without purpose or due signification” (“nihil vacuum neque sine signo apud deum”) (IV. 2I. 3), he was also the first to apply the scientific and mystical explanation to the New Testament, and was consequently obliged to adopt the Gnostic exegesis, which was imperative as soon as the apostolic writings were viewed as a New Testament. He regards the fact of Jesus handing round food to those lying at table as signifying that Christ also bestows life on the long dead generations;518518See Iren. IV. 22. 1. and, in the parable of the Samaritan, he interprets the host as the Spirit and the two denarii as the Father and Son.519519See Iren. III. 17. 3. To Irenæus and also to Tertullian and Hippolytus all numbers, incidental circumstances, etc., in the Holy Scriptures are virtually as significant as they are to the Gnostics, and hence the only question is what hidden meaning we are to give to them. “Gnosticism” is therefore here adopted by the ecclesiastical teachers in its full extent, proving that this “Gnosicism” is nothing else than the learned construction of religion with the scientific means of those days. As soon as Church-men were forced to bring forward their proofs and proceed to put the same questions as the “Gnostics”, they were obliged to work by their method. Allegory, however, was required in 253order to establish the continuity of the tradition from Adam down to the present time — not merely down to Christ — against the attacks of the Gnostics and Marcion. By establishing this continuity a historical truth was really also preserved. For the rest, the disquisitions of Irenæus, Tertullian, and Hippolytus were to such an extent borrowed from their opponents that there is scarcely a problem that they propounded and discussed as the result of their own thirst for knowledge. This fact not only preserved to their works an early-Christian character as compared with those of the Alexandrians, but also explains why they frequently stop in their positive teachings, when they believe they have confuted their adversaries. Thus we find neither in Irenæus nor Tertullian a discussion of the relation of the Scriptures to the rule of faith. From the way in which they appeal to both we can deduce a series of important problems, which, however, the Fathers themselves did not formulate and consequently did not answer.520520Justin had already noted certain peculiarities of the Holy Scriptures as distinguished from profane writings. Tertullian speaks of two proprietates iudaicæ literaturæ in adv. Marc. III. 5. 6. But the Alexandrians were the first to propound any kind of complete theories of inspiration.
The doctrine of God was fixed by the old Catholic Fathers for the Christendom of succeeding centuries, and in fact both the methodic directions for forming the idea of God and their results remained unchanged. With respect to the former they occupy a middle position between the renunciation of all knowledge — for God is not abyss and silence — and the attempt to fathom the depths of the Godhead.521521See above p. 233, note 2, Kunze, l.c. Tertullian, influenced by the Stoics, strongly emphasised the possibility of attaining a knowledge of God. Irenæus, following out an idea which seems to anticipate the mysticism of later theologians, made love a preliminary condition of knowledge and plainly acknowledged it as the principle of knowledge.522522See Iren., II. 26. I, 13. 4: “Sic et in reliquis omnibus nulli similis erit omnium pater hominum pusillitati: et dicitur quidem secundum hæc propter delectionem, sentitur autem super hæc secundum magnitudinem.” Irenæus expressly says that God cannot be known as regards his greatness, i.e., absolutely, but that he can be known as regards his love, IV. 20. I: “Igitur secundum magnitudem non est cognoscere deum, impossibile est enim mensurari patrem; secundum autem dilectionem eius — hæc est enim quæ nos per verbum eius perducit ad deum — obedientes ei semper discimus quoniam est tantus deus etc.”; in IV. 20. 4 the knowledge of God “secundum dilectionem” is more closely defined by the words “per verbum eius Iesum Christum.” The statements in §§ 5 and 6 are, however, specially important: they who are pure in heart will see God. God’s omnipotence and goodness remove the impossibility of man knowing him. Man comes to know him gradually, in proportion as he is revealed and through love, until he beholds him in a state of perfection. He must be in God in order to know God: ὥσπερ οἱ βλέποντες τὸ φῶς ἐντός εἰσι τοῦ φωτὸς καὶ τῆς λαμπρότητος αὐτοῦ μετέχουσιν, οὕτως οἱ βλέποντες πὸν Θεὸν ἐντός εἰσι τοῦ Θεοῦ, μετέχοντες αὐτοῦ τῆς λαμπρότητος. Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο ὁ ἀχώρητος καὶ ἀκατάληπτος καὶ ἀόρατος ὁρώμενον ἑαυτὸν . . . τοῖς πιστοῖς παρέσχεν, ἵνα ζωοποιήσῃ τοὺς χωροῦντας καὶ βλέποντας αὐτὸν διὰ πίστεως. See also what follows down to the words: μετοχὴ Θεοῦ ἐστὶ τὸ γινώσκειν Θεὸν καὶ ἀπολαύειν τῆς χρηστότητος αὐτοῦ, et homines igitur videbunt deum, ut vivant, per visionem immortales facti et pertingentes usque in deum. Sentences of this kind where rationalism is neutralised by mysticism we seek for in Tertullian in vain. God can be known from revelation,523523 See Iren., IV. 6. 4: Ἐδίδαξεν ἡμᾶς ὁ κύριος, ὅτι Θεὸν εἰδέναι οὐδεὶς δύναται, μὴ οὐχὶ Θεοῦ διδάξαντος, τουτέστιν, ἄνευ Θεοῦ μὴ γινώσκεσθαι τὸν Θεόν· αὐτὸ δὲ τὸ γινώσκεσθαι τὸν Θεὸν θέλημα εἶναι τοῦ πατρός, Γνώσονται γὰρ αὐτὸν οἷς ἀν ἀποκαλύψῃ ὁ υἱός. 254because he has really revealed himself, that is, both by the creation and the word of revelation. Irenæus also taught that a sufficient knowledge of God, as the creator and guide, can be obtained from the creation, and indeed this knowledge always continues, so that all men are without excuse.524524Iren. II. 6. 1, 9. 1, 27. 2: III. 25. 1: “Providentiam habet deus omnium propter hoc et consilium dat: consilium autem dans adest his, qui morum providentiam hibent. Necesse est igitur ea quæ providentur et gubernantur cognoscere suum directorem; quæ quidem non sunt irrationalia neque vana, sed habent sensibilitatem perceptam de providentia dei. Et propter hoc ethnicorum quidam, qui minus illecebris ac voluptatibus servierunt, et non in tantum superstitione idolorum coabducti sunt, providentia eius moti licet tenuiter, tamen conversi sunt, ut dicerent fabricatorem huius universitatis patrem omnium providentem et disponentem secundum nos mundum.” Tertull., de testim. animæ; Apolog. 17. In this case the prophets, the Lord himself, the Apostles, and the Church teach no more and nothing else than what must be already plain to the natural consciousness. Irenæus certainly did not succeed in reconciling this proposition with his former assertion that the knowledge of God springs from love resting on revelation. Irenæus also starts, as Apologist and Antignostic, with the God who is the First Cause. Every God who is not that is a phantom;525525See Iren., IV. 6. 2; Tertull., adv. Marc. I, II. and every sublime religious state of mind which 255does not include the feeling of dependence upon God as the Creator is a deception. It is the extremest blasphemy to degrade God the Creator, and it is the most frightful machination of the devil that has produced the blasphemia creatoris.526526See Iren., V. 26. 2. Like the Apologists, the early Catholic Fathers confess that the doctrine of God the Creator is the first and most important of the main articles of Christian faith;527527See Iren., II. 1. 1 and the Hymn II. 30. 9. the belief in his oneness as well as his absoluteness is the main point.528528See Iren., III. 8. 3. Very pregnant are Irenæus’ utterances in II. 34. 4 and II. 30. 9: “Principari enim debet in omnibus et dominari voluntas dei, reliqua autem omnia huic cedere et subdita esse et in servitium dedita” . . . “substantia omnium voluntas dei;” see also the fragment V. in Harvey, Iren., Opp. II. p. 477 sq. Because everything originates with God and the existence of eternal metaphysical contrasts is therefore impossible the following proposition (IV. 2, 4), which is proved from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, holds good: “ex una substantia esse omnia, id est Abraham et Moysem et prophetas, etiam ipsum dominum.” God is all light, all understanding, all Logos, all active spirit;529529See Iren. II. 28. 4, 5: IV. 11. 2. everything anthropopathic and anthropomorphic is to be conceived as incompatible with his nature.530530 Tertullian also makes the same demand (e.g., adv. Marc. II. 27); for his assertion “deum corpus esse” (adv. Prax. 7: “Quis enim negabit, deum corpus esse, etsi deus spiritus est? spiritus enim corpus sui generis in sua effigie”) must be compared with his realistic doctrine of the soul (de anima 6) as well as with the proposition formulated in de carne 11: “omne quod est, corpus est sui generis; nihil est incorporale, nisi quod non est.” Tertullian here followed a principle of Stoic philosophy, and in this case by no means wished to teach that the Deity has a human form, since he recognised that man’s likeness to God consists merely in his spiritual qualities. On the contrary Melito ascribed to God a corporeal existence of a higher type (Eusebius mentions a work of this bishop under the title “ὁ περὶ ἐνσωμάτου Θεοῦ λόγος”, and Origen reckoned him among the ichers who recognised that man had also a likeness to God in form (in body); see my Texte und Untersuchungen I. 1. 2, pp. 243, 248. In the second century the realistic eschatological ideas no doubt continued to foster in wide circles the popular idea that God had a form and a kind of corporeal existence. A middle position between these ideas and that of Tertullian and the Stoics seems to have been taken up by Lactantius (Instit. div. VII. 9, 21; de ira dei 2. 18.). The early-Catholic doctrine of God shows an advance beyond that of the Apologists, in so far as God’s attributes of goodness and righteousness are expressly discussed, and it is proved in opposition to Marcion that 256they are not mutually exclusive, but necessarily involve each other.531531See Iren., III. 25. 2; Tertulla adv. Marc. I. 23-28: II. 11 sq. Hippolytus briefly defined his doctrine of God in Phil. X. 32. The advance beyond the Apologists’ idea of God consists not only in the thorough discussion of God’s attributes of goodness and righteousness, but also in the view, which is now much more vigorously worked out, that the Almighty Creator has no other purpose in his world than the salvation of mankind. See the 10th Greek fragment of Irenæus (Harvey, II. p. 480); Tertull., de orat. 4: “Summa est voluntatis dei salus eorum, quos adoptavit”; de pænit. 2: “Bonorum dei unus est titulus, salus hominum”; adv. Marc. II. 27: “Nihil tam dignum deo quam salus hominis.” They had here undeniably learned from Marcion; see adv. Marc. I. 17. In the first chapters of the work de orat., however, in which Tertullian expounds the Lord’s Prayer, he succeeded in unfolding the meaning of the Gospel in a way such as was never possible for him elsewhere. The like remark may be made of Origen’s work de orat., and, in general, in the case of most authors who interpreted the Lord’s Prayer in the succeeding period. This prayer kept alive the knowledge of the deepest meaning of the Gospel.
In the case of the Logos doctrine also, Tertullian and Hippolytus simply adopted and developed that of the Apologists, whilst Irenaus struck out a path of his own. In the Apologeticum (c. 21) Tertullian set forth the Logos doctrine as laid down by Tatian, the only noteworthy difference between him and his predecessor consisting in the fact that the appearance of the Logos in Jesus Christ was the uniform aim of his presentation.532532Apol. 21: “Necesse et igitur pauca de Christo ut deo . . . Jam ediximus deum universitatem hanc mundi verbo et ratione et virtute molitum. Apud vestros quoque sapientes λόγον, id est sermonem et rationem, constat artificem videri universitatis.” (An appeal to Zeno and Cleanthes follows). “Et nos autem sermoni atque rationi itemque virtuti, per quæ omnia molitum deum ediximus, propriam substantiam spiritum inscribimus, cui et sermo insit pronuntianti et ratio adsit disponenti et virtus præsit perficienti. Hunc ex deo prolatum didicimus et prolatione generatum et idcirco filium dei et deum dictum ex unitate substantiæ, nam et deus spiritus (that is, the antemundane Logos is the Son of God). Et cum radius ex sole porrigitur, portio ex summa; sed sol erit in radio, quia solis est radius nec separator substantia sed extenditur (cf. adv. Prax. 8). Ita de spiritu spiritus et deo deus ut lumen de lumine accensum. Manet integra et indefecta materiæ matrix, etsi plures inde traduces qualitatis mutueris: ita et quod de deo profectum est, deus est et dei filius et unus ambo. Ita et de spiritu spiritus et de deo deus modulo alternum numerum, gradu non statu fecit, et a matrice non recessit sed excessit. Iste igitur dei radius, ut retro semper prædicabatur, delapsus in virginem quandam et in utero eius caro figuratus nascitur homo deo mixtus. Caro spiritu instructa nutritur, adolescit, adfatur, docet, operatur et Christus est.” Tertullian adds: “Recipite interim hanc fabulam, similis est vestris.” As a matter of fact the heathen most have viewed this statement as a philosophical speculation with a mythological conclusion. It is very instructive to ascertain that in Hippolytus’ book against Noëtus “the setting forth of the truth” (c. 10 ff.) he begins with the proposition: Θεός ἐβουλήθη κόσμον κτίσαι. The Logos whose essence and working are described merely went forth to realise this intention. 257He fully explained his Logos doctrine in his work against the Monarchian Praxeas.533533See Hagemann, Die römische Kirche (1864), p. 172 ff. Here he created the formulæ of succeeding orthodoxy by introducing the ideas “substance” and “person” and by framing, despite of the most pronounced subordinationism and a purely economical conception of the Trinity, definitions of the relations between the persons which could be fully adopted in the Nicene creed.534534See my detailed exposition of the orthodox side of Tertullian’s doctrine of the Trinity (“orthodox” in the later sense of the word), in Vol. IV. There it is also shown that these formulæ were due to Tertullian’s juristic bias. The formulæ, “una substantia, tres personæ”, never alternates in his case with the others, “una natura, tres personæ”; and so it remained for a long time in the West; they did not speak of “natures” but of “substances” (“nature” in this connection is very rare down to the 5th century). What makes this remarkable is the fact that Tertullian always uses “substance” in the concrete sense “individual substance” and has even expressed himself precisely on the point. He says in de anima 32: “aliud est substantia, aliud natura substantiæ; siquidem substantia propria est rei cuiusque, natura vero potest esse communis. Suscipe exemplum: substantia est lapis, ferrum; duritia lapidis et ferri natura substantia est. Duritia (natura) communicat, substantia discordat. Mollitia lanæ, mollitia plumæ pariant naturalia eorum, substantiva non pariant . . . Et tunc naturæ similitudo notatur, cum substantiæ dissimilitudo conspicitur. Men and animals are similar natura, but not substantia.” We see that Tertullian in so far as he designated Father, Son, and Spirit as one substance expressed their unity as strongly as possible. The only idea intelligible to the majority was a juristic and political notion, viz., that the Father, who is the tota substantia, sends forth officials whom he entrusts with the administration of the monarchy. The legal fiction attached to the concept “person” aided in the matter here. Here also the philosophical and cosmological interest prevails; the history of salvation appears only to be the continuation of that of the cosmos. This system is distinguished from Gnosticism by the history of redemption appearing as the natural continuation of the history of creation and not simply as its correction. The thought that the unity of the Godhead is shown in the una substantia and the una dominatio was worked out by Tertullian with admirable clearness. According to him the unfolding of this one substance into several heavenly embodiments, or the administration of the divine sovereignty by emanated persons cannot endanger the 258unity; the “arrangement of the unity when the unity evolves the trinity from itself” (“dispositio unitatis, quando unitas ex semetipsa [trinitatem] derivat”) does not abolish the unity, and, moreover, the Son will some day subject himself to the Father, so that God will be all in all.535535See adv. Prax. 3: “Igitur si et monarchia divina per tot legiones et exercitus angelorum administratur, sicut scriptum est: Milies centies centena milia adsistebant ei, et milies centena milia apparebant ei, nec ideo unius esse desiit, ut desinat monarchia esse, quia per tanta milia virtutum procuratur: quale est ut deus divisionem et dispersionem pati videatur in filio et spiritu sancto, secundum et tertium sortitis locum, tam consortibus substantiæ patris, quam non patitur in tot angelorum numero?” (! !) c. 4: “Videmus igitur non obesse monarchiæ filium, etsi hodie apud filium est, quia et in suo statu est apud filium, et cum suo statu restituetur patri a filio.” L.c.: Monarchia in tot nominibus constituta est, in quot deus voluit.” Here then the Gnostic doctrine of moons is adopted in its complete form, and in fact Hippolytus, who in this respect agrees with Tertullian, has certified that the Valentinians “acknowledge that the one is the originator of all” (“τὸν ἕνα ὁμολογοῦσιν αἴτιον τῶν πάντων”), because with them also, “the whole goes back to one” (“τὸ πᾶν εἰς ἕνα ανατρέχει”).536536See Hippol., c. Noëtum 11. According to these doctrines the unity is sufficiently preserved (1) if the separate persons have one and the same substance, (2) if there is one possessor of the whole substance, i.e., if everything proceeds from him. That this is a remnant of polytheism ought not to be disputed. The only difference is that Tertullian and Hippolytus limit the “economy of God” (οἰκονομία τοῦ Θεοῦ) to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, while the Gnostics exceed this number.537537Adv. Prax. 8: “Hoc si qui putaverit, me προβολὴν aliquam introducere id est prolationem rei alterius ex altera, quod facit Valentinus, primo quidem dicam tibi, non ideo non utatur et veritas vocabulo isto et re ac censu eius, quia et hæresis utitur; immo hæresis potius ex veritate accepit quod ad mendacium suum strueret”; cf. also what follows. Thus far then theologians had got already: “The economy is founded on as many names as God willed” (c. 4). According to Tertullian “a rational conception of the Trinity constitutes truth, an irrational idea of the unity makes heresy” (“trinitas rationaliter expensa veritatem constituit, unitas irrationaliter collecta hæresim facit”) is already the watchword of the Christian dogmatic. Now what he considers a rational conception is keeping in view the different stages of God’s economy, and distinguishing between dispositio, distinctio, numerus on the one hand and divisio on the other. At the beginning God was alone, but ratio and sermo existed within him. In a certain sense then, 259he was never alone, for he thought and spoke inwardly. If even men can carry on conversations with themselves and make themselves objects of reflection, how much more is this possible with God.538538See adv. Prax. 5. But as yet he was the only person.539539Tertull., adv. Hermog. 3: “fuit tempus, cum ei filius non fuit.” The moment, however, that he chose to reveal himself and sent forth from himself the word of creation, the Logos came into existence as a real being, before the world and for the sake of the world. For “that which proceeds from such a great substance and has created such substances cannot itself be devoid of substance.” He is therefore to be conceived as permanently separate from God “secundus a deo consititutus, perseverans in sua forma”; but as unity of substance is to be preserved (“alias pater, alias filius, alias non aliud” — “ego et pater unum sumus ad substantiæ unitatem, non ad numeri singularitatem dictum est” — “tres unum sunt, non unus” — “the Father is one person and the Son is another, different persons not different things”, “I and the Father are one refers to unity of substance, not to singleness in number” — “the three are one thing not one person”), the Logos must be related to the Father as the ray to the sun, as the stream to the source, as the stem to the root (see also Hippolytus, c. Noëtum 10).540540Novatian (de trin. 23) distinguishes very decidedly between “factum esse” and “procedere”. For that very reason “Son” is the most suitable expression for the Logos that has emanated in this way (κατὰ μερισμόν). Moreover, since he (as well as the Spirit) has the same substance as the Father (“unius substantiæ” = ὁμοούσιος) he has also the same power541541Adv. Prax. 2: “Custodiatur οἰκονομίας sacramentum, qua unitatem in trinitatem disponit, tres dirigens, tres autem non statu, sed gradu, nec substantia, sed forma, nec potestate, sed specie, unius autem substantiæ et unius status et potestatis.” as regards the world. He has all might in heaven and earth, and he has had it ab initio, from the very beginning of time.542542See the discussions adv. Prax. 16 ff. On the other hand this same Son is only a part and offshoot; the Father is the whole; and in this the mystery of the economy consists. What the Son possesses has been given him by the Father; the Father is therefore greater than the Son; the Son 260is subordinate to the Father.543543Tertull., adv. Marc. III. 6: “filius portio plenitudinis.” In another passage Textullian has ironically remarked in opposition to Marcion (IV. 39): “Nisi Marcion Christum non sabiectum patri infert.” “Pater tota substantia est, filius vero derivatio totius et portio”.544544 Adv. Prax. 9. This paradox is ultimately based on a philosophical axiom of Tertullian: the whole fulness of the Godhead, i.e., the Father, is incapable of entering into the finite, whence also he must always remain invisible, unapproachable, and incomprehensible. The Divine Being that appears and works on earth can never be anything but a part of the transcendent Deity. This Being must be a derived existence, which has already in some fashion a finite element in itself, because it is the hypostatised Word of creation, which has an origin.545545See the whole 14th chap. adv. Prax. especially the words: “Jam ergo alius erit qui videbatur, quia non potest idem invisibilis definiri qui videbatur, et consequens erit, ut invisibilem patrem intellegamus pro plenitudine maiestatis, visibilem vero filium agnoscamus pro modulo derivationis.” One cannot look at the sun itself, but, “toleramus radium eius pro temperatura portionis, quæ in terram inde porrigitur.” The chapter also shows how the Old Testament theophanies must have given an impetus to the distinction between the Deity as transcendent and the Deity as making himself visible. Adv. Marc. II. 27: Quæcunque exigitis deo digna, habebuntur in patre invisibili incongressibilique et placido et, ut ita dixerim, philosophorum deo. Quæcunque autem ut indigna reprehenditis, deputabuntur in filio et viso et audito et congresso, arbitro patris et ministro, miscente in semetipso hominem et deum in virtutibus deum, in pusillitatibus hominem, ut tantum homini conferat quantum deo detrahit.” In adv. Prax. 29 Tertullian showed in very precise terms that the Father is by nature impassible, but the Son is capable of suffering. Hippolytus does not share this opinion; to him the Logos in himself is likewise ἀπαθής (see c. Noëtum 15). We would assert too much, were we to say that Tertullian meant that the Son was simply the world-thought itself; his insistance on the “unius substantiæ” disproves this. But no doubt he regards the Son as the Deity depotentiated for the sake of self-communication; the Deity adapted to the world, whose sphere coincides witht he world-thought, and whose power is identical with that necessary for the world. From the standpoint of humanity this Deity is God himself, i.e., a God whom men can apprehend and who can apprehend them; but from God’s standpoint, which speculation can fix but not fathom, this Deity is a subordinate, nay, even a temporary one. Tertullian and Hippolytus know as little of an immanent Trinity 261as the Apologists; the Trinity only appears such, because the unity of the substance is very vigorously emphasised; but in truth the Trinitarian process as in the case of the Gnostics, is simply the background of the process that produces the history of the world and of salvation. This is first of all shown by the fact that in course of the process of the world and of salvation the Son grows in his sonship, that is, goes through a finite process;546546According to Tertullian it is certainly an essential part of the Son’s nature to appear, teach, and thus come into connection with men; but he neither asserted the necessity of the incarnation apart from the faulty development of mankind, nor can this view be inferred from his premises. and secondly by the fact that the Son himself will one day restore the monarchy to the Father.547547See adv. Prax. 4. the only passage, however, containing this idea, which is derived from 1 Cor. XV. These words no doubt are again spoken not from the standpoint of man, but from that of God; for so long as history lasts “the Son continues in his form.” In its point of departure, its plan, and its details this whole exposition is not distinguished from the teachings of contemporaneous and subsequent Greek philosophers,548548Cf. specially the attempts of Plotinus to reconcile the abstract unity which is conceived as the principle of the universe with the manifoldness and fulness of the real and the particular (Ennead. lib. III.–V.). Plotinus employs the subsidiary notion μερισμός in the same way as Tertullian; see Hagemann l.c. p. 186 f. Plotinus would have agreed with Tertullian’s proposition in adv. Marc. III. 15: “Dei nomen quasi naturale divinitatis potest in omnes communicari quibus divinitas vindicatur.” Plotinus’ idea of hypostasis is also important, and this notion requires exact examination. but merely differs in its aim. In itself absolutely unfitted to preserve the primitive Christian belief in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, its importance consists in its identification of the historical Jesus with this Logos. By its aid Tertullian united the scientific, idealistic cosmology with the utterances of early Christian tradition about Jesus in such a way as to make the two, as it were, appear the totally dissimilar wings of one and the same building,549549 Following the baptismal confession, Tertullian merely treated the Holy Ghost according to the scheme of the Logos doctrine without any trace of independent interest. In accordance with this, however, the Spirit possesses his own “numerus” — “tertium numen divinitatis et tertium nomen maiestatis”, — and he is a person in the same sense as the Son, to whom, however, he is subordinate, for the subordination is a necessary result of his later origin. See cc. 2, 8: “tertius est spiritus a deo et filio, sicut tertius a radice fructus a frutice, et tertius a fonte rivus a flumine et tertius a sole apex ex radio. Nihil tamen a matrice alienatur a qua proprietates suas ducit. Ita trinitas per consertos et connexos gradus a patre decurrens et monarchiæ nihil obstrepit et οἰκονομίας statum protegit”; de pudic. 21. In de præscr. 13 the Spirit in relation to the Son is called “vicaria vis”. The element of personality in the Spirit is with Tertullian merely a result arising from logical deduction; see his successor Novatian de trin. 29. Hippolytus did not attribute personality to the Spirit, for he says (adv. Noët. 14): Ἕνα Θεὸν ἐρῶ, πρόσωπα δὲ δύο, οἰκονομίᾳ δὲ τρίτην τὴν χάριν τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος· πατὴρ μὲν γὰρ εἷς, πρόσωπα δὲ δύο, ὅτι καὶ ὁ υἱός, τὸ δὲ τρίτον τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα.” In his Logos doctrine apart from the express emphasis he lays on the creatureliness of the Logos (see Philos. X. 33: Εἰ γὰρ Θεόν σε ἡθέλησε ποῖσαι ὁ Θεός, ἐδύνατο· ἔχεις τοῦ λόγου τὸ παράδειγμα) he quite agrees with Tertullian. See ibid.; here the Logos is called before his coming forth “ἐνδιάθετος τοῦ παντὸς λογισμός”; he is produced ἐκ τῶν ὄντων, i.e., from the Father who then alone existed; his essence is “that he bears in himself the will of him who has begotten him” or “that he comprehends in himself the ideas previously conceived by and resting in the Father.” Cyprian in no part of his writings took occasion to set forth the Logos doctrine in a didactic way; he simply kept to the formula: “Christus deus et homo”, and to the Biblical expressions which were understood in the sense of divinity and preëxistence; see Testim. II. 1-10. Lactantius was still quite confused in his Trinitarian doctrine and, in particular, conceived the Holy Ghost not as a person but as “sanctificatio” proceeding from the Father or from the Son. On the contrary, Novatian, in his work de trinitate, reproduced Tertullian’s views. For details see Dorner Entwickelungsgeschichte I. pp. 563-634, Kahnis, Lehre vom heiligen Geiste; Hagemann, l.c., p. 371 ff. It is noteworthy that Tertullian still very frequently called the preëxistent Christ dei spiritus; see de orat. I: “Dei spiritus et dei sermo et dei ratio, sermo rationis et ratio sermonis et spiritus, utrumque Iesus Christus.”Apol. 21; adv. Prax. 26; adv. Marc. I. 10: III. 6, 16: IV. 21. With peculiar versatility he contrived to make himself at home in both wings.262
It is essentially otherwise with the Logos doctrine of Irenæus.550550See Zahn, Marcellus of Ancyra, pp. 235-244. Duncker, Des heiligen Irenäus Christologie, 1843. Whereas Tertullian and Hippolytus developed their Logos doctrine without reference to the historical Jesus, the truth rather being that they simply add the incarnation to the already existing theory of the subject, there is no doubt that Irenæus, as a rule, made Jesus Christ, whom he views as God and man, the starting-point of his speculation. Here he followed the Fourth Gospel and Ignatius. It is of Jesus that Irenæus almost always thinks when he speaks of the Logos or of the Son of God; and therefore he does not identify the divine element in Christ or Christ himself with the world idea or the creating Word or the Reason of God.551551Zahn, l.c., p. 238. That 263he nevertheless makes Logos (μονογενής, πρωτότοκος, “only begotten”, “first born”) the regular designation of Christ as the preexistent One can only be explained from the apologetic tradition which in his time was already recognised as authoritative by Christian scholars, and moreover appeared justified and required by John I. 1. Since both Irenæus and Valentinus consider redemption to be the special work of Christ, the cosmological interest in the doctrine of the second God becomes sub-ordinate to the soteriological. As, however, in Irenæus’ system (in opposition to Valentinus) this real redemption is to be imagined as recapitulatio of the creation, redemption and creation are not opposed to each other as antitheses; and therefore the Redeemer has also his place in the history of creation. In a certain sense then the Christology of Irenæus occupies a middle position between the Christology of the Valentinians and Marcion on the one hand and the Logos doctrine of the Apologists on the other. The Apologists have a cosmological interest, Marcion only a soteriological, whereas Irenæus has both; the Apologists base their speculations on the Old Testament, Marcion on a New Testament, Irenæus on both Old and New.
Irenæus expressly refused to investigate what the divine element in Christ is, and why another deity stands alongside of the Godhead of the Father. He confesses that he here simply keeps to the rule of faith and the Holy Scriptures, and declines speculative disquisitions on principle. He does not admit the distinction of a Word existing in God and one coming forth from him, and opposes not only ideas of emanation in general, but also the opinion that the Logos issued forth at a definite point of time. Nor will Irenæus allow the designation “Logos” to be interpreted in the sense of the Logos being the inward Reason or the spoken Word of God. God is a simple essence and always remains in the same state; besides we ought not to hypostatise qualities.552552See Iren., II. 13. 8: II. 28. 4-9: II. 12. 2: II. 13. 2, and also the important passage II. 29. 3 fin. Nevertheless Irenæus, too, calls the preexistent Christ the Son of God, and strictly maintains the personal distinction between Father and Son. What makes 264the opposite appear to be the case is the fact that he does not utilise the distinction in the interest of cosmology.553553A great many passages clearly show that Irenæus decidedly distinguished the Son from the Father, so that it is absolutely incorrect to attribute modalistic ideas to him. See III. 6. 1 and all the other passages where Irenæus refers to the Old Testament theophanies. Such are III. 6. 2: IV. 5. 2 fin.: IV. 7. 4, where the distinction is particularly plain: IV. 17. 6: II. 28. 6. In Irenæus’ sense we shall have to say: The Logos is the revelation hypostasis of the Father, “the self-revelation of the self-conscious God”, and indeed the eternal self-revelation. For according to him the Son always existed with God, always revealed the Father, and it was always the full Godhead that he revealed in himself. In other words, he is God in his specific nature, truly God, and there is no distinction of essence between him and God.554554The Logos (Son) is the administrator and bestower of the divine grace as regards humanity, because he is the revealer of this grace, see IV. 6 (§ 7: “agnitio patris filius, agnitio autem filii in patre et per filium revelata”); IV. 5: IV. 16. 7: IV. 20. 7. He has been the revealer of God from the beginning and always remains so, III. 16. 6: IV. 13. 4 etc.: he is the antemundane revealer to the angel world, see II. 30. 9: “semper autem coëxsistens filius patri, olim et ab initio semper revelat patrem et angelis et archangelis et potestatibus et virtutibus et omnibus, quibus vult revelari deus; he has always existed with the Father, see II. 30. 9: III. 18. 1: “non tunc cœpit filius dei, exsistens semper apud patrem”; IV. 20. 3, 7, 14. 1: II. 25. 3: “non enim infectus es, o homo, neque semper coëxsistebas deo, sicut proprium eius verbum.” The Logos is God as God, nay, for us he is God himself, in so far as his work is the work of God. Thus, and not in a modalistic sense, we must understand passages like II. 30. 9: “fabricator qui fecit mundum per semitipsum, hoc est per verbum et per sapientiam suam,” or hymnlike statements such as III. 16. 6: “et hominem ergo in semetipsum recapitulans est, invisibilis visibilis factus, et incomprehensibilis factus comprehensibilis et impassibilis passibilis et verbum homo” (see something similar in Ignatius and Melito, Otto, Corp. Apolog. IX, p. 419 sq.). Irenæus also says in III. 6. 2: “filius est in patre et habet in se patrem,” III. 6. 1.: utrosque dei appellatione signavit spiritus, et eum qui ungitur filium et eum, qui ungit, id est patrem.” He not only says that the Son has revealed the Father, but that the Father has revealed the Son (IV. 6. 3: IV. 7. 7). He applies Old Testament passages sometimes to Christ, sometimes to God, and hence in some cases calls the Father the creator, and in others the Son (“pater generis humani verbum dei”, IV. 31. 2). Irenæus (IV. 4. 2) appropriated the expression of an ancient “immensum patrem in filio mensuratum; mensura enim patris filius, quoniam et capit eum.” This expression is by no means intended to denote a diminution, but rather to signify the identity of Father and Son. In all this Irenæus adhered to an ancient tradition; but these propositions do not admit of being incorporated with a rational system. Now we might conclude from the strong 265emphasis laid on “always” that Irenæus conceived a relationship of Father and Son in the Godhead, conditioned by the essence of God himself and existing independently of revelation. But the second hypostasis is viewed by him as existing from all eternity, just as much in the quality of Logos as in that of Son, and his very statement that the Logos has revealed the Father from the beginning shows that this relationship is always within the sphere of revelation. The Son then exists because he gives a revelation. Little interested as Irenæus is in saying anything about the Son, apart from his historical mission, naïvely as he extols the Father as the direct Creator of the universe, and anxious as he is to repress all speculations that lead beyond the Holy Scriptures, he could not altogether avoid reflecting on the problems: why there is a second deity alongside of God, and how the two are related to one another. His incidental answers are not essentially different from those of the Apologists and Tertullian; the only distinction is this incidental character. Irenæus too looked on the Son as “the hand of God”, the mediator of creation; he also seems in one passage to distinguish Father and Son as the naturally invisible and visible elements of God; he too views the Father as the one who dominates all, the head of Christ, i.e., he who bears the creation and his Logos.555555Logos and Sophia are the hands of God (III. 21. IQ: IV. 20): also IV. 6.6: “Invisibile filii pater, visibile autem patris filius.” Judging from this passage, it is always doubtful whether Irenæus, like Tertullian, assumed that transcendency belonged to the Father in a still higher sense than to the Son, and that the nature of the Son was more adapted for entering the finite than that of the Father (on the contrary see IV. 20. 7 and especially IV. 24. 2: “verbum naturaliter quidem invisibile”). But it ought not to have been denied that there are passages, in which Irenæus hints at a subordination of the Son, and deduces this from his origin. See II. 28. 8 (the knowledge of the Father reaches further than that of the Son and the Father is greater than the Son); III. 6. 1 (the Son receives from the Father the sovereignty); IV. 17. 6 (a very important passage: the Father owns the name of Jesus Christ as his, first, because it is the name of his Son, and, secondly, because he gave it himself; V. 18. 21, 3 (“pater conditionem simul et verbum suum portans” — “verbum portatum a patre” — “et sic unus deus pater ostenditur, qui est super omnia et per omnia et in omnibus; super omnia pater quidem et ipse est caput Christi” — “verbum universorum potestatem habet a patre”). “This is not a subordination founded on the nature of the second person, but an inequality that has arisen historically,” says Zahn (l.c., p. 241); but it is doubtful whether such a distinction can be imputed to Irenæus. We have rather simply to recognise the contradiction, which was not felt by Irenæus because, in his religious belief, he places Christ on a level with God, but, as a theologian, merely touched on the problem. So also he shows remarkable unconcern as to the proof of the unity of God in view of the distinction between Father and Son. Irenæus had no opportunity of writing against 266the Monarchians, and unfortunately we possess no apologetic writings of his. It cannot therefore be determined how he would have written, if he had had less occasion to avoid the danger of being himself led into Gnostic speculations about æons. It has been correctly remarked that with Irenæus the Godhead and the divine personality of Christ merely exist beside each other. He did not want to weigh the different problems, because, influenced as he was by the lingering effects of an early. Christian, anti-theological interest, he regarded the results of this reflection as dangerous; but, as a matter of fact, he did not really correct the premises of the problems by rejecting the conclusions. We may evidently assume (with Zahn) that, according to Irenæus, “God placed himself in the relationship of Father to Son, in order to create after his image and in his likeness the man who was to become his Son;”556556Irenæus very frequently emphasises the idea that the whole economy of God refers to mankind, see, e.g., I. 10. 3: ἐκδιηγεῖσθαι τὴν πραγματείαν καὶ οἰκονομίαν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὴν ἐπὶ τῇ ἀνθρωπότητι γενομένην, IV. 20. 7: Verbum dispensator paternæ gratiæ factus est ad utilitatem hominum, propter quos fecit tantas dispositiones.” God became a creator out of goodness and love; see the beautiful expression in IV. 20. 7: “Gloria dei vivens homo, vita autem hominis visio dei,” or III. 20. 2: “Gloria hominis deus, operationes vero dei et omnis sapientiæ eius et virtutis receptaculum homo.” V. 29. 1: “Non homo propter conditionem, sed conditio facta est propter hominem.” but we ought not to ask if Irenæus understood the incarnation as a definite purpose necessarily involved in the Sonship, as this question falls outside the sphere of Patristic thinking. No doubt the incarnation constantly formed the preëminent interest of Irenæus, and owing to this interest he was able to put aside or throw a veil over the mythological speculations of the Apologists regarding the Logos, and to proceed at once to the soteriological question.557557Irenæus speaks about the Holy Spirit in numerous passages. No doubt he firmly believes in the distinction of the Spirit (Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of the Father, Spirit of the Son, prophetic Spirit, Wisdom) from the Father and Son, and in a particular significance belonging to the Spirit, as these doctrines are found in the regula. In general the same attributes as are assigned to the Son are everywhere applicable to him; he was always with the Father before there was any creation (IV. 20. 3; Irenæus applies Prov. III. 19: VIII. 22 to the Spirit and not to the Son); like the Son he was the instrument and hand of the Father (IV. pref. 4, 20. 1: V. 6. 1.). That Logos and Wisdom are to be distinguished is clear from IV. 20. 1-12 and particularly from § 12: IV. 7. 4: III. 17. 3 (the host in the parable of the Good Samaritan is the Spirit). Irenæus also tried by reference to Scripture to distinguish the work of the Spirit from that of the Logos. Thus in the creation, the guidance of the world, the Old Testament history, the incarnation, the baptism of Jesus, the Logos is the energy, the Spirit is wisdom. He also alluded to a specific ministry of the Spirit in the sphere of the new covenant. The Spirit is the principle of the new knowledge in IV. 33. 1, 7, Spirit of fellowship with God in V. 1. 1, pledge of immortality in V. 8. 1, Spirit of life in V. 18. 2. But not only does the function of the Spirit remain very obscure for all that, particularly in the incarnation, where Irenæus was forced by the canon of the New Testament to unite what could not be united (Logos doctrine and descent of the Spirit upon Mary — where, moreover, the whole of the Fathers after Irenæus launched forth into the most wonderful speculations), but even the personality of the Spirit vanishes with him, e.g., in III. 18. 3: “unguentem patrem et unctum filium et unctionem, qui est spiritus” (on Isaiah LXI. 1); there is also no mention of the Spirit in IV. pref. 4 fin., and IV. 1. 1, though he ought to have been named there. Father, Son, and Spirit, or God, Logos, and Sophia are frequently conjoined by Irenæus, but he never uses the formula τριάς, to say nothing of the abstract formulæ of Tertullian. In two passages (IV. 20. 5: V. 36. 2) Irenæus unfolded a sublime speculation, which is inconsistent with his usual utterances. In the first passage he says that God has shown himself prophetically through the Spirit (in the Old Testament), then adoptively through the Son, and will finally show himself paternally in the kingdom of heaven; the Spirit prepares man for the Son of God, the Son leads him to the Father, but the Father confers on him immortality. In the other passage he adopts the saying of an old presbyter (Papias?) that we ascend gradually through the Spirit to the Son, and through the Son to the Father, and that in the end the Son will deliver up everything to the Father, and God will be all in all. It is remarkable that, as in the case of Tertullian (see above), it is 1 Cor. XV. 23-28 that has produced this speculation. This is another clear proof, that in Irenæus the equality of Father, Son, and Spirit is not unconditional and that the eternity of Son and Spirit is not absolute. Here also we plainly perceive that the several disquisitions in Irenæus were by no means part of a complete system. Thus, in IV. 38. 2, he inverts the relationship and says that we ascend from the Son to the Spirit: Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο Παῦλος Κορινθίοις φησί· γάλα ὑμᾶς ἐπότισα, οὐ βρῶμα, οὐδὲ γὰρ ἡδονασθε βαστάζειν· τουτέστι, τὴν μὲν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον παρουσίαν τοῦ κυρίου ἐμαθητεύθητε, οὐδήπου δὲ τὸ τοῦ πατρὸς πνεῦμα ἐπαναπαύεται ἐφ᾽ ὑμᾶς διὰ τὴν ὑμῶν ἀσθέγειαν. Here one of Origen’s thoughts appears.267
Nothing is more instructive than an examination of Irenæus’ views with regard to the destination of man, the original state, the fall, and sin; because the heterogeneous elements of his “theology”, the apologetic and moralistic, the realistic, and the 268Biblical (Pauline), are specially apparent here, and the inconsistencies into which he was led are very plain. But these very contradictions were never eliminated from the Church doctrinal system of succeeding centuries and did not admit of being removed; hence his attitude on these points is typical.558558The opinions advanced here are, of course, adumbrations of the ideas about redemption. Nöldechen (Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie, 1885, p. 462 ff): “Die Lehre vom ersten Menschen bei den christlichen Lehrern des 2 Jahrhunderts.” The apologetic and moralistic train of thought is alone developed with systematic clearness. Everything created is imperfect, just from the very fact of its having had a beginning; therefore man also. The Deity is indeed capable of bestowing perfection on man from the beginning, but the latter was incapable of grasping or retaining it from the first. Hence perfection, i.e., incorruptibility, which consists in the contemplation of God and is conditional on voluntary obedience, could only be the destination of man, and he must accordingly have been made capable of it.559559Here the whole 38th chapter of the 4th Book is to be examined. The following sentences are perhaps the most important: Εἰ δὲ λέγει τις· οὐκ ἡδύνατο ὁ Θεὸς ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς τέλειον ἀναδεῖξαι τὸν ἄνθρωπον; Γνύτω, ὅτι τῷ μὲν Θεῶ, ἀεὶ κατὰ τὰ αὐτὰ ὄντι καὶ ἀγεννήτῳ ὑπάρχοντι, ὃς πρὸς ἑαυτόν, πάντα δυνατά· τὰ δὲ γεγονότα, καθὸ μετέπειτα γενέσεως ἀρχὴν ἰδίαν ἔσχε, κατὰ τοῦτο καὶ ὑστερεῖσθαι δεῖ αὐτὰ τοῦ πεποιηκότος· ὀυ γὰρ ἡδύναντο ἀγέννητα εἶναι τὸ νεωστὶ γεγεννημένα. Καθὸ δὲ μή ἐστιν ἀγέννητα, κατὰ τοῦτο καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τοῦ τελείου. Καθὸ δὲ νεώτερα, κατὰ τοῦτο καὶ νήπια, κατὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἀσυνήθη καί αγύμναστα πρὸς τὴν τελείαν ἀγωγήν. The mother can no doubt give strong food to the child at the very beginning, but the child cannot stand it: ἄνθρωπος ἀδύνατος λαβεῖν ἀυτό· νήπιος γὰρ ἦν, see also § 2-4: “Non ab initio dii facti sumus, sed primo quidem homines, tunc demum dii, quamvis deus secundum simplicitatem bonitatis suæ hoc fecerit, nequis eum putet invidiosum aut impræstantem. “Ego,” inquit, “dixi, estis et filii excelsi omnes, nobis autem potestatem divintatis divinitatis baiulare non sustinentibus” . . . Oportuerat autem primo naturam apparere, post deinde vinci et absorbi mortale ab immortalitate et corruptibile ab incorruptibilitate, et fieri hominem secundum imaginem at similitudinem dei, agnitione accepta bone et mali.” Ibid.: ὑποταγὴ Θεοῦ αφθαρσία, καὶ παραμονὴ ἀφθαρσίας δόξα ἀγέννητος . . . ὅρασις Θεοῦ περιποιητικὴ ἀφθαρσίας· ἀφθαρσία δὲ ἐγγὺς εἶναι ποιεῖ Θεοῦ. In this chapter Irenæus contemplates the manner of appearance of the Logos (as man) from the point of view of a συννηπιάζειν. His conception of the capacity and destination of man enabled him to develop his ideas about the progressive training of the human race and about the different covenants (see below). On this point cf. also IV. 20. 5-7. The fact that, according to this way of looking at things, the Good and Divine appeared only as the destination of man — which was finally to be reached through divine guidance — but not as his nature, suggested both to Irenæus and Tertullian the distinction between “natura” and “gratia” or between “substantia” and “fides et iustitia”. In other words, they were led to propound a problem which had occurred to the Gnostics long before, and had been solved by them in a dualistic sense. See Irenæus II. 29. 1: “Si propter substantiam omnes succedunt animæ in refrigerium, et superfluum est credere, superflua autem et discessio salvatoris; si autem propter iustitiam, iam non propter id, quod sint animæ sed quoniam sunt iustæ . . . Si enim natura et substantia salvat, omnes salvabuntur animæ; si autem iustitia et fides etc. II. 34. 3: “Non enim ex nobis neque ex nostra natura vita est, sed secundum gratiam dei datur,” II. 34. 4. Tertullian adv. Marc. III. 15: “Christi nomen non ex natura veniens, sed ex dispositione.” In Tertullian these ideas are not unfrequently opposed to each other in this way; but the relationship between them has by no means been made clear. That destination is realised through the guidance of God 269and the free decision of man, for goodness not arising from free choice has no value. The capacity in question is on the one hand involved in man’s possession of the divine image, which, however, is only realised in the body and is therefore at bottom a matter of indifference; and, on the other, in his likeness to God, which consists in the union of the soul with God’s Spirit, but only comes about when man is obedient to him. Along with this Irenæus has also the idea that man’s likeness consists in freedom. Now, as man became disobedient immediately after the creation, this likeness to God did not become perfect.560560On the psychology of Irenæus see Böhringer, p. 466 f., Wendt p. 22. The fact that in some passages he reckoned the πνεῦμα in man as the latter’s inalienable nature (e.g. II. 33. 5), though as a rule (like Tatian) he conceives it as the divine Spirit, is an evident inconsistency on his part. The εἰκών is realised in the body, the ὁμοίωσις is not given by nature, but is brought about by the union with the Spirit of God realised through obedience (V. 6. 1). The ὁμοίωσις is therefore subject to growth, and was not perfect at the beginning (see above, IV. 38. 4, where he opposes Tatian’s opinion). It is clear, especially from V. 12. 2, that it is only the πνοή, not the πνεῦμα, that is to be conceived as an original possession. On this point Irenæus appealed to 1 Cor. XV. 45. It is plain from the 37th chapter of the 4th Book, that Irenæus also views everything as ultimately dependent on man’s inalienable freedom. Alongside of this God’s goodness has scope for displaying itself in addition to its exercise at the creation, because it guides man’s knowledge through counsel; see § 1. On Matth. XXIII. 37 Irenæus remarks: “veterem legem libertatis hominis manifestavit, quia liberum eum deus fecit ab initio, habentem suam potestatem sicut et suam animam ad utendum sententia dei voluntarie et non coactum a deo . . . posuit in homine potestatem electionis quemadmodum in angelis (et enim angeli rationabiles), ut hi quidem qui obedissent iuste bonum sint possidentes, datum quidem a deo, servatum vero ab ipsis.” An appeal to Rome II. 4-7 (!) follows. In § 2 Irenæus inveighs violently against the Gnostic doctrines of natural goodness and wickedness: πάντες τῆς αὐτῆς εἰσὶ φύσεως. In § 4 he interprets the Pauline: “omnia licent, sed non omnia expediunt,” as referring to man’s inalienable freedom and to the way in which it is abused in order to work evil (!): “liberæ sententiæ ab initio est homo et liberæ sententiæ est deus, cuius ad similitudinem factus est.” § 5: “Et non tantum in operibus, sed etiam in fide, liberum et suæ potestatis arbitrium hominis servavit (that is, respected) dominus, dicens: Secundum fidem tuam fiat tibi.” § 4: “deus consilium dat continere bonum, quod perficitur ex obedientia.” § 3: “τὸ αὐτεξούσιον τοῦ ἀνθώπου καὶ τὸ συμβουλευτικὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ μὴ βιαζομένου. IV. 4. 3: “homo rationabilis et secundum hoc similis deo liber in arbitrio factus et suæ potestatis, ipse sibi causa est, ut aliquando quidem frumentum aliquando autem palea fiat.” Through the fall he lost the fellowship with God to 270which he was destined, i.e., he is forfeit to death. This death was transmitted to Adam’s whole posterity.561561As a matter of fact this view already belongs to the second train of thought; see particularly III. 21-23. Here in reality this merely applies to the particular individuals who chose disobedience, but Irenæus almost everywhere referred back to the fall of Adam. See, however, V. 27. 2: “Quicunque erga eum custodiunt dilectionem, suam his præstat communionem. Communio autem dei vita et lumen et fruitio eorum quæ sunt apud deum bonorum. Quicumque autem absistunt secundum sententiam suam ab eo, his eam quæ electa est ab ipsis separationem inducit. Separatio autem dei mors, et separatio lucis tenebræ, et separatio dei amissio omnium quæ sunt apud eum bonorum.” V. 19. 1, 1. 3, 1. 1. The subjective moralism is very clearly defined in IV. 15. 2: “Id quod erat semper liberum et suæ potestatis in homine semper servavit deus et sua exhortatio, ut iuste iudicentur qui non obediunt ei quoniam non obedierant, et qui obedierunt et crediderunt ei, honorentur incorruptibilitate.” Here Irenæus followed sayings of Paul, but adopted the words rather than the sense; for, in the first place, like the Apologists, he very strongly emphasises the elements that palliate man’s fall562562Man’s sin is thoughtlessness; he is merely led astray (IV. 40. 3). The fact that he let himself be seduced under the pretext of immortality is an excuse for him; man was infans, (See above; hence it is said, in opposition to the Gnostics in IV. 38. 4: “supergredientes legem humani generis et antequam fiant homines, iam volunt similes esse factori deo et nullam esse differentiam infecti dei et nunc facti hominis.” The same idea is once more very clearly expressed in IV. 39. 3; “quemadmodum igitur erit homo deus, qui nondum factus est homo?” i.e., how could newly created man be already perfect as he was not even man, inasmuch as he did not yet know how to distinguish good and evil?). Cf. III. 23. 3, 5: “The fear of Adam was the beginning of wisdom; the sense of transgression led to repentance; but God bestows his grace on the penitent” . . . “eum odivit deus, qui seduxit hominem, ei vero qui seductus est, sensim paullatimque misertus est.” The “pondus peccati” in the sense of Augustine was by no means acknowledged by Irenæus, and although he makes use of Pauline sayings, and by preference such as have a quite different sense, he is very far from sharing Paul’s view. and, secondly, he contemplates the fall as having a teleological significance. It is the fall itself and not, as in Paul’s case, the 271consequences of the fall, that he thus views; for he says that disobedience was conducive to man’s development. Man had to learn by experience that disobedience entails death, in order that he might acquire wisdom and choose freely to fulfil the commandments of God. Further, man was obliged to learn through the fall that goodness and life do not belong to him by nature as they do to God.563563See IV. 37. 7: “Alias autem esset nostrum insensatum bonum, quod esset inexercitatum. Sed et videre non tantum nobis esset desiderabile, nisi cognovissemus quantum esset malum non videre; et bene valere autem male valentis experientia honorabilius efficit, et lucem tenebrarum comparatio et vitam mortis. Sic et cœleste regnum honorabilius est his qui cognoverunt terrenum.” The main passage is III. 20. 1, 2, which cannot be here quoted. The fall was necessary in order that man might not believe that he was “naturaliter similis deo”. Hence God permitted the great whale to swallow man for a time. In several passages Irenæus has designated the permitting of evil as kind generosity on the part of God, see, e.g., IV. 39. 1, 37. 7. Here life and death are always the ultimate question to Irenæus. It is only when he quotes sayings of Paul that he remembers sin in connection with redemption; and ethical consequences of the fall are not mentioned in this connection. “The original destination of man was not abrogated by the fall, the truth rather being that the fall was intended as a means of leading men to attain this perfection to which they were destined.”564564 See Wendt, l.c., p. 24. Moreover, the goodness of God immediately showed itself both in the removal of the tree of life and in the sentence of temporal death.565565See III. 23. 6. What significance belongs to Jesus Christ within this conception is clear: he is the man who first realised in his person the destination of humanity; the Spirit of God became united with his soul and accustomed itself to dwell in men. But he is also the teacher who reforms mankind by his preaching, calls upon them too direct their still existing freedom to obedience to the divine commandments, thereby restoring, i.e., strengthening, freedom, so that humanity is thus rendered capable of receiving incorruptibility.566566See V. 1. 1: “Non enim aliter nos discere poteramus quæ sunt dei, nisi magister noster, verbum exsistens, homo factus fuisset. . . . Neque rursus nos aliter discere poteramus, nisi magistrum nostrum videntes,” etc.; III. 23. 2, 5. 3: “libertatem restauravit”; IV. 24. 1: “reformavit humanum genus”; III. 17. 1: “spiritus sanctus in filium dei, filium hominis factum, descendit cum ipso assuescens habitare in genere humano.” III. 19. 1: IV. 38. 3: 39. 1, 2. Wendt’s summary, l.c., p. 24: “By the Logos becoming man, the type of the perfect man made its appearance,” formulates Irenæus’ meaning correctly and excludes the erroneous idea that he viewed the Logos himself as the prototype of humanity. A real divine manhood is not necessary within this train of thought; only a homo inspiratus is required. One can plainly see that this is the idea of Tatian 272and Theophilus, with which Irenæus has incorporated utterances of Paul. Tertullian and Hippolytus taught essentially the same doctrine;567567See Hippol. Philos. X. 33 (p. 538 sq.): Ἐπὶ τούτοις τὸν πάντων ἄρχοντα δημιουργῶν ἐκ πασῶν συνθέτων οὐσιῶν ἐσκεύασαν, οὐ Θεὸν θέλων ποιεῖν ἔσσηλεν, οὐδὲ ἄγγελον, ἀλλ᾽ ἄνθρωπον. Εἰ γὰρ Θεόν σε ἡθέλησε ποιῆσαι, ἐδύνατο· ἔχεις τοῦ λόγου τὸ παράδειγμα· ἄνθρωπον θέλων, ἄνθρωπόν σε ἐποίησεν· εἰ δὲ θέλεις καὶ Θεὸς γενέσθαι, ὑπάκουε τῷ πεποιηκότι. The famous concluding chapter of the Philosophoumena with its prospect of deification is to be explained from this (X. 34). only Tertullian beheld the image and likeness of God expressly and exclusively in the fact that man’s will and capacity are free, and based on this freedom an argument in justification of God’s ways.568568See Tertull. adv. Marc. II. 4-11; his undiluted moralism appears with particular clearness in chaps. 6 and 8. No weight is to be attached to the phrase in chapter 4 that God by placing man in Paradise really even then put him from Paradise into the Church. This is contrary to Wendt opinion, l.c., p. 67. ff., where the exposition of Tertullian is speciosior quam verior. In adv. Marc. II. 4 ff. Wendt professes to see the first traces of the scholastic and Romish theory, and in de anima 16, 41 the germ of the subsequent Protestant view.
But, in addition to this, Irenæus developed a second train of thought. This was the outcome of his Gnostic and realistic doctrine of recapitulation, and evinces clear traces of the influence of Pauline theology. It is, however, inconsistent with the moralistic teachings unfolded above, and could only be united with them at a few points. To the Apologists the proposition: “it is impossible to learn to know God without the help of God” (“impossibile est sine deo discere deum”) was a conviction which, with the exception of Justin, they subordinated to their moralism and to which they did not give a specifically Christological signification. Irenæus understood this proposition in a Christological sense,569569 See IV. 5. 1, 6. 4. and at the same time conceived the blessing of salvation imparted by Christ not only as the incorruptibility consisting in the beholding of God bestowed on obedience IV. 20. 5-7: IV. 38, but also as the divine sonship which 273has been won for us by Christ and which is realised in constant fellowship with God and dependence on him.570570See IV. 14. 1: “In quantum enim deus nullius indiget, in tantum homo indiget dei communione. Hæc enim gloria hominis, perseverare et permanere in dei servitute.” This statement, which, like the numerous others where Irenæus speaks of the adoptio, is opposed to moralism, reminds us of Augustine. In Irenæus’ great work, however, we can point out not a few propositions which, so to speak, bear the stamp of Augustine; see IV. 38. 3: ὑποταγὴ Θεοῦ ἀφθαρσία. No doubt he also viewed this divine sonship as consisting in the transformation of human nature; but the point of immediate importance here is that it is no longer human freedom but Christ that he contemplated in this connection. Corresponding to this he has now also a different idea of the original destination of man, of Adam, and of the results of the fall. Here comes in the mystical Adam-Christ speculation, in accordance with the Epistles to the Ephesians and Corinthians. Everything, that is, the “longa hominum expositio”, was recapitulated by Christ in himself; in other words he restored humanity to what it originally was and again included under one head what was divided.571571See the passages quoted above, p. 241 f. If humanity is restored, then it must have lost something before and been originally in good condition. In complete contradiction to the other teachings quoted above, Irenæus now says: “What we had lost in Adam, namely, our possession of the image and likeness of God, we recover in Christ.572572 See III. 18. 1. V. 16.1 is very remarkable: Ἐν τοῖς πρόσθεν χρόνοις ἐλεγετο μὲν κατ᾽ εἰκόνα Θεοῦ γεγονέναι τὸν ἄνθρωπον, οὐκ ἐδείκνυτο δὲ, ἔτι γὰρ ἀόρατος ἦν ὁ λόγος, οὖ κατ᾽ εἰκόνα ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἐγεγόνει. διὰ τοῦτο δὴ καὶ τὴν ὁμοίωσιν ῥᾳδιως ἀπέβαλεν; see also what follows. In V. 1. 1 Irenæus even says: “Quoniam iniuste dominabatur nobis apostasia, et cum natura essemus dei omnipotentis, alienavit nos contra naturam diabolus.” Compare with this the contradictory passage IV. 38: “oportuerat autem primo naturam apparere” etc. (see above, p. 268), where natura hominis is conceived as the opposite of the divine nature. Adam, however, is humanity; in other words, as all humanity is united and renewed through Christ so also it was already summarised in Adam. Accordingly “the sin of disobedience and the loss of salvation which Adam consequently suffered may now be viewed as belonging to all mankind summed up in him, in like manner as Christ’s obedience and possession of salvation are the property 274of all mankind united under him as their head.”573573See Wendt, i.e., p. 29, who first pointed out the two dissimilar trains of thought in Irenæus with regard to man’s original state, Duncker having already done so in regard to his Christology. Wendt has rightly shown that we have here a real and not a seeming contradiction; but, as far as the explanation of the fact is concerned, the truth does not seem to me to have been arrived at. The circumstance that Irenæus did not develop the mystic view in such a systematic way as the moralistic by no means justifies us in supposing that he merely adopted it superficially (from the Scriptures): for its nature admits of no systematic treatment, but only of a rhetorical and contemplative one. No further explanation can be given of the contradiction, because, strictly speaking, Irenæus has only given us fragments. In the first Adam we offended God by not fulfilling his commandments; in Adam humanity became disobedient, wounded, sinful, bereft of life; through Eve mankind became forfeit to death; through its victory over the first man death descended upon us all, and the devil carried us all away captive etc.574574See V. 16. 3: ἐν τῷ πρῶτῳ Ἁδὰμ προσεκόψαμεν, μὴ ποιήσαντες αὐτοῦ τὴν ἐντολήν. IV. 34. 2: “homo initio in Adam inobediens per mortem percussus est;” III. 18. 7-23: V. 19. 1: V. 21. 1: V. 17. 1 sq. Here Irenæus always means that in Adam, who represents all mankind as their head, the latter became doomed to death. In this instance he did not think of a hereditary transmission, but of a mystic unity575575Here also Irenæus keeps sin in the background; death and life are the essential ideas. Böhringer l.c., p. 484 has very rightly remarked: “We cannot say that Irenæus, in making Adam’s conduct and suffering apply to the whole human race had started from an inward, immediate experience of human sinfulness and a feeling of the need of salvation founded on this.” It is the thoughts of Paul to which Irenæus tried to accommodate himself without having had the same feeling about the flesh and sin as this Apostle. In Tertullian the mystic doctrine of salvation is rudimentary (but see, e.g., de anima 40: “ita omnis anima eo usque in Adam censetur donec in Christo recenseatur,” and other passages; but he has speculations about Adam (for the most part developments of hints given in Irenæus; see the index in Oehler’s edition), and he has a new realistic idea as to a physical taint of sin propagated through procreation. Here we have the first beginning of the doctrine of original sin (de testim. 3: “per diabolum homo a primordio circumventus, ut præceptum dei excederet, et propterea in mortem datus exinde totum genus de suo semine infectum suæ etiam damnationis traducem fecit.” Compare his teachings in de anima 40, 41, 16 about the disease of sin that is propagated “ex originis vitio” and has become a real second nature). But how little he regards this original sin as guilt is shown by de bapt. 18: “Quare innocens ætas festinat ad baptismum?” For the rest, Tertullian discussed the relationship of flesh and spirit, sensuousness and intellect, much more thoroughly than Irenæus; he showed that flesh is not the seat of sin (de anima 40). In the same book (but see Bk. V. c. 1) he expressly declared that in this question also sure results are only to be obtained from revelation. This was an important step in the direction of secularising Christianity through “philosophy” and of emasculating the understanding through “revelation.” In regard to the conception of sin Cyprian followed his teacher. De op. et eleem. 1 reads indeed like an utterance of Irenæus (“dominus sanavit illa quæ Adam portaverat vulnera”); but the statement in ep. 64. 5: “Recens natus nihil peccavit, nisi quod secundum Adam carnaliter natus contagium mortis antiquæ, prima nativitate contraxit” is quite in the manner of Tertullian, and perhaps the latter could also have agreed with the continuation: “infanti remittintur non propria sed aliena peccata.” Tertullian’s proposition that absolutely no one but the Son of God could have remained without sin was repeated by Cyprian (see, e.g., de op. et eleem. 3). as in the case of Christ, viewed as the 275second Adam. The teachings in III. 21. 10-23576576III. 22. 4 has quite a Gnostic sound . . . “eam quæ est a Maria in Evam recirculationem significans; quia non aliter quod colligatum est solveretur, nisi ipsæ compagines alligationis reflectantur retrorsus, ut primæ coniunctiones solvantur per secundas, secundæ rursus liberent primas. Et evenit primam quidem compaginem a secunda colligatione solvere, secundam vero colligationem primæ solutionis habere locum. Et propter hoc dominus dicebat primos quidem novissimos futuros et novissimos primos.” Irenæus expresses a Gnostic idea when he on one occasion plainly says (V. 12. 3): Ἐν τῷ Ἀδὰμ πάντες ἀποθνήσκομεν, ὅτι ψυχικοί . But Paul, too, made an approach to this thought. show what an almost naturalistic shape the religious quasi-historical idea assumed in Irenæus’ mind. This is, however, more especially evident from the assertion, in opposition to Tatian, that unless Adam himself had been saved by Christ, God would have been overcome by the devil.577577See III. 23. 1, 2, a highly characteristic statement. It was merely his moralistic train of thought that saved him from the conclusion that there is a restoration of all individual men.
This conception of Adam as the representative of humanity corresponds to Irenæus’ doctrine of the God-man. The historical importance of this author lies in the development of the Christology. At the present day, ecclesiastical Christianity, so far as it seriously believes in the unity of the divine and human in Jesus Christ and deduces the divine manhood from the work of Christ as his deification, still occupies the same standpoint as Irenæus did. Tertullian by no means matched him here; he too has the formula in a few passages, but he cannot, like Irenæus, account for its content. On the other hand we owe to him the idea of the “two natures”, which remain in their integrity — that formula which owes its adoption to the influence 276of Leo I. and at bottom contradicts Irenæus’ thought “the Son of God became the Son of man”, (“filius dei factus filius hominis”). Finally, the manner in which Irenæus tried to interpret the historical utterances about Jesus Christ from the standpoint of the Divine manhood idea, and to give them a significance in regard to salvation is also an epoch-making fact.
“Filius dei filius hominis factus”, “it is one and the same Jesus Christ, not a Jesus and a Christ, nor a mere temporary union of an on and a man, but one and the same person, who created the world, was born, suffered, and ascended” — this along with the dogma of God the Creator is the cardinal doctrine of Irenæus:578578See, e.g., III. g. 3, 12. 2, 16. 6-9, 17. 4 and repeatedly 8. 2: “verbum dei, per quem facta sunt omnia, qui est dominus noster Jesus Christus.” “Jesus Christ truly man and truly God” (“Jesus Christus, vere homo, vere deus”).579579See IV. 6. 7. It is only the Church that adheres to this doctrine, for “none of the heretics hold the opinion that the Word of God became flesh” (“secundum nullam sententiam hæreticorum verbum dei caro factum est”).580580 See III. 11. 3. What therefore has to be shown is (1) that Jesus Christ is really the Word of God, i.e., is God, (2) that this Word really became man and (3) that the incarnate Word is an inseparable unity. Irenæus maintains the first statement as well against the “Ebionites” as against the Valentinians who thought that Christ’s advent was the descent of one of the many moons. In opposition to the Ebionites he emphasises the distinction between natural and adopted Sonship, appeals to the Old Testament testimony in favour of the divinity of Christ,581581See III. 6. and moreover argues that we would still be in the bondage of the old disobedience, if Jesus Christ had only been a man.582582See III. 19. 1, 2: IV. 33. 4: V. 1. 3 see also Tertullian against “Ebion” de carne 14, 18, 24; de præscr. 10. 33. In this connection he also discussed the birth from the virgin.583583Editor: This note is missing in the footnotes. He not only proved it from prophecy, but his recapitulation theory also suggested to him a parallel between Adam and Eve on the one hand and Christ 277and Mary on the other, which included the birth from the virgin.584584See the arguments, l c., V. 19. 1: “Quemadmodum adstrictum est morti genus humanum per virginem, salvatur per virginem, æqua lance disposita virginalis inobedientia per virginalem obedientiam,” and other similar ones. We find the same in Tertull., de carne 17, 20. In this connection we find in both very extravagant expressions with regard to Mary (see, e.g., Tertull., l.c. 20 fin.: “uti virgo esset regeneratio nostra spiritaliter ab omnibus inquinamentis sanctificata per Christum.” Iren. III. 21. 7: “Maria cooperans dispositioni (dei);” III. 22. 4 “Maria obediens et sibi et universo generi humano causa facta est salutis” . . . “quod alligavit virgo Eva per incredulitatem, hoc virgo Maria solvit per fidem”). These, however, have no doctrinal significance; in fact the same Tertullian expressed himself in a depreciatory way about Mary in de carne 7. On the other hand it is undeniable that the later Mariolatry has one of its roots in the parallel between Eve and Mary. The Gnostic invention of the virginitas Mariæ in partu can hardly be traced in Irenæus III. 21. 4. Tertullian (de carne 23) does not seem to know anything about it as yet, and very decidedly assumed the natural character of the process. The popular conception as to the reason of Christ’s birth from a virgin, in the form still current to-day, but beneath all criticism, is already found in Tertullian de carne 18: “Non competebat ex semine humano dei filium nasci, ne, si totus esset filius hominis, non esset et dei filius, nihilque haberet amplius Salomone, ut de Hebionis opinione credendus erat. Ergo iam dei filius ex patris dei semine, id est spiritu, ut esset et hominis filius, caro ei sola competebat ex hominis came sumenda sine viri semine. Vacabat enim semen viri apud habentem dei semen.” The other theory existing side by side with this, viz., that Christ would have been a sinner if he had been begotten from the semen, whereas he could assume sinless flesh from woman is so far as I know scarcely hinted at by Irenæus and Tertullian. The fact of Christ’s birth was frequently referred to by Tertullian in order to prove Christ’s kinship to God the Creator, e.g., adv. Marc. III. 11. Hence this article of the regula fidei received a significance from this point of view also. An Encratite explanation of the birth from the Virgin is found in the old treatise de resurr. bearing Justin’s name (Otto, Corp. Apol. III., p. 220. He argues in opposition to the Valentinians that it was really the eternal Word of God himself, who was always with God and always present to the human race, that descended.585585See, e.g., III. 18. 1 and many other places. See the passages named in note, p. 276. He who became man was not a being foreign to the world — this is said in opposition to Marcion — but the Lord of the world and humanity, the Son of God, and none other. The reality of the body of Christ, i.e., the essential identity of the humanity of Christ with our own, was continually emphasised by Irenæus, and he views the whole work of salvation as dependent on this identity.586586So also Tertullian. See adv. Marc. III. 8: The whole work of salvation is destroyed by Docetism; cf. the work de carne Christi. Tertullian exclaims to the Docetist Marcion in c. 5: “Parce unicæ spei totius orbis.” Irenæus and Tertullian mean that Christ’s assumption of humanity was complete, but not unfrequently express themselves in such a manner as to convey the impression that the Logos only assumed flesh. This is particularly the case with Tertullian, who, moreover, in his earlier time had probably quite naïve Docetic ideas and really looked upon the humanity of Christ as only flesh. See Apolog. 21: “spiritum Christus cum verbo sponte dimisit, prævento carnificis officio.” Yet Irenæus in several passages spoke of Christ’s human soul (III. 22. 1: V. 1.1) as also did Melito (τὸ ἀληθὲς καὶ ἀσάνταστον τῆς ψυχῆς Χριστοῦ καὶ τοῦ σώματος, τῆς καθ᾽ ἡμᾶς ἀνθρωπίνης σύσεως Otto, l.c., IX, p. 415) and Tertullian (de carne 10 ff. 13; de resurr. 53). What we possess in virtue of the creation was assumed by Christ (Iren., l.c., III. 22. 2.) Moreover, Tertullian already examined how the case stands with sin in relation to the flesh of Christ. In opposition to the opinion of the heretic Alexander, that the Catholics believe Jesus assumed earthly flesh in order to destroy the flesh of sin in himself, he shows that the Saviour’s flesh was without sin and that it is not admissible to teach the annihilation of Christ’s flesh (de carne 16; see also Irenæus V. 14. 2, 3): “Christ by taking to himself our flesh has made it his own, that is, he has made it sinless.” It was again passages from Paul (Rom. VIII. 3 and Ephes. II. 15) that gave occasion to this discussion. With respect to the opinion that it may be with the flesh of Christ as it is with the flesh of angels who appear, Tertullian remarks (de carne 6) that no angel came to die; that which dies must be born; the Son of God came to die. In the latter he also includes the fact that Jesus must 278have passed through and been subjected to all the conditions of a complete human life from birth to old age and death.587587 This conception was peculiar to Irenæus, and for good reasons was not repeated in succeeding times; see II. 22: III. 17. 4. From it also Irenæus already inferred the necessity of the death of Christ and his abode in the lower world, V. 31. 1, 2. Here we trace the influence of the recapitulation idea. It has indeed been asserted (very energetically by Schultz, Gottheit Christi, p. 73 f.) that the Christ of Irenæus was not a personal man, but only possessed humanity. But that is decidedly incorrect, the truth merely being that Irenæus did not draw all the inferences from the personal humanity of Christ. Jesus Christ is therefore the Son of God who has really become the Son of man; and these are not two Christs but one, in whom the Logos is permanently united with humanity.588588See Iren. V. 31. 2: “Surgens in came sic ascendit ad patrem.” Tertullian, de carne 24: “Bene quod idem veniet de cælis qui est passus . . . et agnoscent qui eum confixerunt, utique ipsam carnem in quam sævierunt, sine qua nec ipse esse poterit et agnosci;” see also what follows. Irenæus called this union “union of the Word of God with the creature” (“adunitio verbi dei ad plasma”)589589 See Iren. IV. 33. 11. and “blending and communion of God and man” (“commixtio et communio dei et hominis”)590590 See Iren. IV. 20. 4; see also III. 19. 1. 279without thereby describing it any more clearly.591591He always posits the unity in the form of a confession without describing it. See III. 16. 6, which passage may here stand for many. “Verbum unigenitus, qui semper humano generi adest, unitus et consparsus suo plasmati secundum placitum patris et caro factus ipse est Iesus Christus dominus noster, qui et passus est pro nobis et ressurrexit propter nos . . . Unus igitur deus pater, quemadmodum ostendimus, et unus Christus Iesus dominus noster, veniens per universam dispositionem et omnia in semetipsum recapitulans. In omnibus autem est et homo plasmatio dei, et hominem ergo in semetipsum recapitulans est, invisibilis visibilis factus, et incomprehensibilis factus comprehensibilis et impassibilis passibilis et verbum homo.” V. 18.1: “Ipsum verbum dei incarnatum suspensum est super lignum.” He views it as perfect, for, as a rule, he will not listen to any separation of what was done by the man Jesus and by God the Word.592592Here Irenæus was able to adopt the old formula “God has suffered” and the like; so also Melito, see Otto l.c., IX. p. 416: ὁ Θεὸς πέπονθεν ὑπὸ δεξιᾶς Ἰσραηλιτιδος (p. 422): “Quidnam est hoc novum mysterium? iudex iudicatur et quietus est; invisibilis videtur neque erubescit: incomprehensibilis prehenditur neque indignatur, incommensurabilis mensuratur neque repugnat; impassibilis patitur neque ulciscitur; immortalis moritur, neque respondit verbum, cœlestis sepelitur et id fert.” But let us note that these are not “doctrines”, but testimonies to the faith, as they were always worded from the beginning and such as could, if need were, be adapted to any Christology. Though Melito in a fragment whose genuineness is not universally admitted (Otto, l.c., p. 415 sq.) declared in opposition to Marcion, that Christ proved his humanity to the world in the 30 years before his baptism; but showed the divine nature concealed in his human nature during the 3 years of his ministry, he did not for all that mean to imply that Jesus’ divinity and humanity are in any way separated. But, though Irenæus inveighed so violently against the “Gnostic” separation of Jesus and Christ (see particularly III. 16. 2, where most weight is laid on the fact that we do not find in Matth.: “Iesu generatio sic erat” but “Christi generatio sic erat”), there is no doubt that in some passages he himself could not help unfolding a speculation according to which the predicates applying to the human nature of Jesus do not also hold good of his divinity, in fact he actually betrayed a view of Christ inconsistent with the conception of the Saviour’s person as a perfect unity. We can indeed only trace this view in his writings in the form of an undercurrent, and what led to it will be discussed further on. Both he and Melito, as a rule adhered to the simple “filius dei filius hominis factus” and did not perceive any problem here, because to them the disunion prevailing in the world and in humanity was the difficult question that appeared to be solved through this very divine manhood. How closely Melito agreed with Irenæus is shown not only by the proposition (p. 419): “Propterea misit pater filium suum e cœlo sine corpore (this is said in opposition to the Valentinian view), ut, postquam incarnatus esset in, utero virginis et natus esset homo, vivificaret hominem et colligeret membra eius quæ mors disperserat, quum hominem divideret,” but also by the “propter hominem iudicatus est iudex, impassibilis passus est?” (l.c.). The explicit formula of two substances or natures in Christ is not found in Irenæus; but Tertullian already used it. It never 280occurred to the former, just because he was not here speaking as a theologian, but expressing his belief.593593The concepts employed by Irenæus are deus, verbum, filius dei, homo, filius hominis, plasma dei. What perhaps hindered the development of that formula in his case was the circumstance of his viewing Christ, though he had assumed the plasma dei, humanity, as a personal man who (for the sake of the recapitulation theory) not only had a human nature but was obliged to live through a complete human life. The fragment attributed to Irenæus (Harvey II., p. 493) in which occur the words, τοῦ Θεοῦ λόγου ἑνώοει τῇ καθ᾽ ὑπόστασιν φυσικῇ ἑνωθέντος τῇ σακρί, is by no means genuine. How we are to understand the words: ἵνα ἐξ ἀμφοτέρων τὸ περιφανὲς τῶν φύσεων παραδειχθῇ in fragment VIII. (Harvey II., p. 479), and whether this piece belongs to Irenæus, is uncertain. That Melito (assuming the genuineness of the fragment) has the formula of the two natures need excite no surprise; for (1) Melito was also a philosopher, which Irenæus was not, and (2) it is found in Tertullian, whose doctrines can be shown to be closely connected with those of Melito (see my Texte und Untersuchungen I. 1, 2, p. 249 f.). If that fragment is genuine Melito is the first Church teacher who has spoken of two natures. In his utterances about the God-man Tertullian closely imitates Irenæus. Like the latter he uses the expression “man united with God” (“homo deo mixtus”)594594See Apol. 21: “verbum caro figuratus . . . homo deo mixtus; adv. Marc. II. 27: “filius dei miscens in semetipso hominem et deum;” de carne 15: “homo deo mixtus;” 18: “sic homo cum deo, dum caro hominis cum spiritu dei.” On the Christology of Tertullian cf. Schulz, Gottheit Christi, p. 74 ff. and like him he applies the predicates of the man to the Son of God.595595De carne 5: “Crucifixus est dei filius, non pudet quia pudendum est; et mortuus est dei filius, prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est; et sepultus resurrexit, certum est, quia impossibile est;” but compare the whole book; c. 5 init.: “deus crucifixus” “nasci se voluit deus”. De pat. 3: “nasci se deus in utero patitur.” The formula: “ὁ γεννηθείς, ὁμεγας Θεός is also found in Sibyll. VII. 24. But he goes further, or rather, in the interest of formal clearness, he expresses the mystery in a manner which shows that he did not fully realise the religious significance of the proposition, “the Son of God made Son of man” (“filius dei filius hominis factus”). He speaks of a “corporal and spiritual, i.e., divine, substance of the Lord”, (“corporalis et spiritalis [i.e., divina] substantia domini”)596596De carne 1, cf. ad nat. II. 4: “ut iure consistat collegium nominis communione substantiæ.” of “either substance of the flesh and spirit of Christ” (“utraque substantia et carnis et spiritus Christi”), of the “creation of two substances which Christ himself also possesses”, (“conditio duarum substantiarum, quas Christus et ipse gestat”)597597De carne 18 fin. and of 281the “twofold condition not blended but united in one person-God and man” (“duplex status non confusus sed conjunctus in una persona — deus et homo”.598598Adv. Prax. 27: “Sed enim invenimus illum directo et deum et hominem expositum, ipso hoc psalmo suggerente (Ps. LXXXVII. 5) . . . hic erit homo et filius hominis, qui definitus est filius dei secundum spiritum . . . Videmus duplicem statum, non confusum sed coniunctum in una persona deum et hominem Iesum. De Christo autem differo. Et adeo salva est utriusque proprietas substantiæ, ut et spiritus res suas egerit in illo, id est virtutes et opera et signa, et caro passiones suas functa sit, esuriens sub diabolo . . . denique et mortua est. Quodsi tertium quid esset, ex utroque confusum, ut electrum, non tam distincta documenta parerent utriusque substantiæ.” In what follows the actus utriusque substantiæ are sharply demarcated: “ambæ substantiæ in statu suo quæque distincte agebant, ideo illis et operæ et exitus sui occurrerunt . . . neque caro spiritus fit neque spiritus caro: in uno plane esse possunt.” See also c. 29: “Quamquam cum duæ substantiæ censeantur in Christo Iesu, divina et humana, constet autem immortalem esse divinam” etc. Here we already have in a complete form the later Chalcedonian formula of the two substances in one person.599599Of this in a future volume. Here also two substances in Christ are always spoken of (there are virtually three, since, according to de anima 35, men have already two substances in themselves). I know only one passage where Tertullian speaks of natures in reference to Christ, and this passage in reality proves nothing; de carne 5: “Itaque utriusque substantiæ census hominem et deum exhibuit, hinc natum, inde non natum (!), hinc carneum, inde spiritalem” etc. Then: “Quæ proprietas conditionum, divinæ et humanæ, æqua utique naturæ cuiusque veritate disjuncta est.” At the same time, however, we can clearly see that Tertullian went beyond Irenæus in his exposition.600600In the West up to the time of Leo I. the formula “deus et homo”, or, after Tertullian’s time “duæ substantiæ”, was always a simple expression of the facts acknowledged in the Symbol, and not a speculation derived from the doctrine of redemption. This is shown just from the fact of stress being laid on the unmixedness. With this was associated a theoretic and apologetic interest on the part of theologians, so that they began to dwell at greater length on the unmixedness after the appearance of that Patripassianism, which professed to recognise the filius dei in the caro, that is in the deus so far as he is incarnatus or has changed himself into flesh. As to Tertullian’s opposition to this view see what follows. In contradistinction to this Western formula the monophysite one was calculated to satisfy both the salvation interest and the understanding. The Chalcedonian creed, as is admitted by Schulz, l.c., pp. 64 ff., 71 ff., is consequently to be explained from Tertullian’s view, not from that of the Alexandrians. Our readers will excuse us for thus anticipating. He was, moreover, impelled to combat an antagonistic principle. Irenæus had as yet no occasion to explain in detail that the proposition “the Word became flesh” (“verbum caro 282factum”) denoted no transformation. That he excludes the idea of change, and that he puts stress on the Logos’ assumption of flesh from the Virgin is shown by many passages.601601“Quare,” says Irenæus III. 21. 10 — “igitur non iterum sumpsit limum deus sed ex Maria operatus est plasmationem fieri? Ut non alia plasmatio fieret neque alia, esset plasmatio quæ salvaretur, sed eadem ipsa recapitularetur, servata similitudine?” Tertullian, on the other hand, was in the first place confronted by (Gnostic) opponents who understood John’s statement in the sense of the Word’s transforming himself into flesh, and therefore argued against the “assumption of flesh from the Virgin” (“assumptio carnis ex virgine”);602602See de carne 18. Oehler has misunderstood the passage and therefore mispointed it. It is as follows: “Vox ista (Joh. I. 14) quid caro factum sit contestatur, nec tamen periclitatur, quasi statim aliud sit (verbum), factum caro, et non verbum . . . Cum scriptura non dicat nisi quod factum sit, non et unde sit factum, ergo ex alio, non ex semetipso suggerit factum” etc. and, in the second place, he had to do with Catholic Christians who indeed admitted the birth from the Virgin, but likewise assumed a change of God into flesh, and declared the God thus invested with flesh to be the Son.603603Adv. Prax. 27 sq. In de carne 3 sq. and elsewhere Tertullian indeed argues against Marcion that God in contradistinction to all creatures can transform himself into anything and yet remain God. Hence we are not to think of a transformation in the strict sense, but of an adunitio. In this connection the same Tertullian, who in the Church laid great weight on formulæ like “the crucified God”, “God consented to be born” (“deus crucifixus”, “nasci se voluit deus”) and who, impelled by opposition to Marcion and by his apologetic interest, distinguished the Son as capable of suffering from God the Father who is impassible, and imputed to him human weaknesses — which was already a further step, — sharply emphasised the “distinct function” (“distincte agere”) of the two substances in Christ and thus separated the persons. With Tertullian the interest in the Logos doctrine, on the one hand, and in the real humanity, on the other, laid the basis of that conception of Christology in accordance with which the unity of the person is nothing more than an assertion. The “deus factus homo” (“verbum caro factus”) presents quite insuperable difficulties, as soon as “theology” can no longer be banished. Tertullian smoothed over these difficulties by juristic distinctions, 283for all his elucidations of “substance” and “person” are of this nature.
A somewhat paradoxical result of the defence of the Logos doctrine in the struggle against the “Patripassians” was the increased emphasis that now began to be laid on the integrity and independence of the human nature in Christ. If the only essential result of the struggle with Gnosticism was to assert the substantial reality of Christ’s body, it was Tertullian who distinguished what Christ did as man from what he did as God in order to prove that he was not a tertium quid. The discriminating intellect which was forced to receive a doctrine as a problem could not proceed otherwise. But, even before the struggle with Modalism, elements were present which repressed the naïve confidence of the utterances about the God-man. If I judge rightly, there were two features in Irenæus both of which resulted in a splitting up of the conception of the perfect unity of Christ’s person. The first was the intellectual contemplation of the perfect humanity of Jesus, the second was found in certain Old and New Testament texts and the tradition connected with these.604604So I think I ought to express myself. It does not seem to me proper to read a twofold conception into Irenæus’ Christological utterances under the pretext that Christ according to him was also the perfect man, with all the modern ideas that are usually associated with this thought (Böhringer, l.c., p. 542 ff., see Thomasius in opposition to him). With regard to the first we may point out that Irenæus indeed regarded the union of the human and divine as possible only because man, fashioned from the beginning by and after the pattern of the Logos, was an image of the latter and destined for union with God. Jesus Christ is the realisation of our possession of God’s image;605605See, e.g., V. 1. 3. Nitzch, Dogmengeschichte I. p. 309. Tertullian, in his own peculiar fashion, developed still more clearly the thought transmitted to him by Irenæus. See adv. Prax. 12: “Quibus faciebat deus hominem similem? Filio quidem, qui erat induturas hominem . . . Erat autem ad cuius imaginem faciebat, ad filii scilicet, qui homo futurus certior et verior imaginem suam fecerat dici hominem, qui tunc de limo formari habebat, imago veri et similitudo.” Adv. Marc. V. 8: “Creator Christum, sermonem suum, intuens hominem futurum, Faciamus, inquit, hominem ad imaginem et similitudinem nostram”; the same in de resurr. 6. But with Tertullian, too, this thought was a sudden idea and did not become the basis of further speculation. but this 284thought, if no further developed, may be still united with the Logos doctrine in such a way that it does not interfere with it, but serves to confirm it. The case becomes different when it is not only shown that the Logos was always at work in the human race, but that humanity was gradually more and more accustomed by him (in the patriarchs and prophets) to communion with God,606606Iren. IV. 14. 2 for further particulars on the point see below, where Irenæus’ views on the preparation of salvation are discussed. The views of Dorner, i.e., 492 f., that the union of the Son of God with humanity was a gradual process, are marred by some exaggerations, but are correct in their main idea. till at last the perfect man appeared in Christ. For in this view it might appear as if the really essential element in Jesus Christ were not the Logos, who has become the new Adam, but the new Adam, who possesses the Logos. That Irenæus, in explaining the life of Jesus as that of Adam according to the recapitulation theory, here and there expresses himself as if he were speaking of the perfect man, is undeniable: If the acts of Christ are really to be what they seem, the man concerned in them must be placed in the foreground. But how little Irenæus thought of simply identifying the Logos with the perfect man is shown by the passage in III. 19. 3 where he writes: “ὥσπερ γὰρ ἦν ἄνθρωπος ἵνα πειρασθῇ, οὕτω καὶ λόγος ἵνα δοξασθῇ. ἡσυχάζοντος μὲν τοῦ λόγου ἐν τῷ πειράζεσθαι καὶ σταυροῦσθαι καὶ ἀποθνήσκειν, συγγινομένου δὲ τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ ἐν τῷ νικᾷν καὶ ὑπομένειν καὶ χρηστεύεσθαι καὶ ἀνίστασθαι καὶ ἀναλαμβάνεσθαι” (“For as he was man that he might be tempted, so also he was the Logos that he might be glorified. The Logos remained quiescent during the process of temptation, crucifixion and death, but aided the human nature when it conquered, and endured, and performed deeds of kindness, and rose again from the dead, and was received up into heaven”). From these words it is plain that Irenæus preferred to assume that the divine and human natures existed side by side, and consequently to split up the perfect unity, rather than teach a mere ideal manhood which would be at the same time a divine manhood. The “discrete agere” of the two natures proves that to Irenæus the perfect manhood of the incarnate Logos was merely an incidental quality he possessed. In reality the Logos is the perfect man 285in so far as his incarnation creates the perfect man and renders him possible, or the Logos always exists behind Christ the perfect man. But nevertheless this very way of viewing the humanity in Christ already compelled Irenæus to limit the “deus crucifixus” and to lay the foundation for Tertullian’s formulæ. With regard to the second point we may remark that there were not a few passages in both Testaments where Christ appeared as the man chosen by God and anointed with the Spirit. These as well as the corresponding language of the Church were the greatest difficulties in the way of the Logos Christology. Of what importance is an anointing with the Spirit to him who is God? What is the meaning of Christ being born by the power of the Holy Ghost? Is this formula compatible with the other, that he as the Logos himself assumed flesh from the Virgin etc.? Irenæus no doubt felt these difficulties. He avoided them (III. 9. 3) by referring the bestowal of the Spirit at baptism merely to the man Jesus, and thus gave his own approval to that separation which appeared to him so reprehensible in the Gnostics.607607“Secundum id quod verbum dei homo erat ex radice Iesse et filius Abrahæ, secundum hoc requiescebat spiritus dei super eum . . . secundum autem quod deus erat, non secundum gloriam iudicabat.” All that Irenæus said of the Spirit in reference to the person of Christ is to be understood merely as an exegetical necessity and must not be regarded as a theoretical principle (this is also the case with Tertullian). Dorner (l.c., p. 492 f.) has failed to see this, and on the basis of Irenæus’ incidental and involuntary utterances has attempted to found a speculation which represents the latter as meaning that the Holy Ghost was the medium which gradually united the Logos, who was exalted above growing and suffering, into one person with the free and growing man in Jesus Christ. In III. 12. 5-7 Irenæus, in conformity with Acts IV. 27: X. 38, used the following other formulæ about Christ: ὁ Θεός, ὁ ποιήσας τὸν οὐρανὸν κ.τ.λ., καὶ ὁ τούτου παῖς, ὅν ἔχρισεν ὁ Θεός — “Petrus Iesum ipsum esse filium dei testificatus est, qui et unctus Spiritu Sancto Iesus dicitur.” But Irenæus only expressed himself thus because of these passages, whereas Hippolytus not unfrequently calls Christ παῖς Θεοῦ. This separation indeed rescued to future ages the minimum of humanity that was to be retained in the person of Christ, but at the same time it laid the foundation of those differentiating speculations, which in succeeding times became the chief art and subject of dispute among theologians. The fact is that one cannot think in realistic fashion of the “deus homo factus” without thinking oneself out of it. It is exceedingly instructive 286to find that, in some passages, even a man like Irenæus was obliged to advance from the creed of the one God-man to the assumption of two independent existences in Christ, an assumption which in the earlier period has only “Gnostic” testimony in its favour. Before Irenæus’ day, in fact, none but these earliest theologians taught that Jesus Christ had two natures, and ascribed to them particular actions and experiences. The Gnostic distinction of the Jesus patibilis (“capable of suffering”) and the Christ ἀπαθής (“impassible”) is essentially identical with the view set forth by Tertullian adv. Prax., and this proves that the doctrine of the two natures is simply nothing else than the Gnostic, i.e., scientific, adaptation of the formula: “filius dei filius hominis factus”. No doubt the old early-Christian interest still makes itself felt in the assertion of the one person. Accordingly we can have no historical understanding of Tertullian’s Christology or even of that of Irenæus without taking into account, as has not yet been done, the Gnostic distinction of Jesus and Christ, as well as those old traditional formulæ: “deus passus, deus crucifixus est” (“God suffered, God was crucified”).608608On Hippolytus’ views of the incarnation see Dorner, l.c., I. p. 609 ff. — an account to be used with caution — and Overbeck, Quæst. Hippol. Specimen (1864), p. 47 sq. Unfortunately the latter has not carried out his intention to set forth the Christology of Hippolytus in detail. In the work quoted he has, however, shown how closely the latter in many respects has imitated Irenæus in this case also. It is instructive to see what Hippolytus has not adopted from Irenæus or what has become rudimentary with him. As a professional and learned teacher he is at bottom nearer to the Apologists as regards his Christology than Irenæus. As an exegete and theological author he has much in common with the Alexandrians, just as he is in more than one respect a connecting link between Catholic controversialists like Irenæus and Catholic scholars like Origen. With the latter he moreover came into personal contact. See Hieron., de vir. inl. 61: Hieron., ep. ad Damas. edit. Venet. I., ep. 36 is also instructive. These brief remarks are, however, by no means intended to give countenance to Kimmel’s untenable hypothesis (de Hippol. vita et scriptis, 1839) that Hippolytus was an Alexandrian. In Hippolytus’ treatise c. Noët. we find positive teachings that remind us of Tertullian. An important passage is de Christo et Antichristo 3 f.: εἷ γὰρ καὶ ὁ τοῦ Θεοῦ ταῖς (Iren.), δι᾽ οὗ καὶ ἡμεῖς τυχόντες τὴν διὰ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος ἀναγέννησιν εἰς ἕνα τέλειον καὶ ἐπουράνιον ἄνθρωπον οἱ πάντες καταντῆσαι ἐπιθυμοῦμεν (see Iren.) Ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ ἄσαρκος ὢν (see Melito, Iren., Tertull.) ἐνεδύσατο τὴν ἁγίαν σάρκα ἐκ τῆς ἁγίας παρθένου· ὡς νύμφιος ἱμάτιον ἐξυφάνας ἑαυτῷ ἦν τῷ σταυρικῷ πάθει (Irenæus and Tertullian also make the death on the cross the object of the assumption of the flesh), ὅπως συγκεράσας τὸ θνητὸν ἡμῶν σῶμα τῇ ἑαυτοῦ δυνάμει καὶ μίξας (Iren., Tertull.) τῷ ἀφθάρτῳ τὸ φθαρτὸν καὶ τὸ ἀσθενὲς τῷ ἰσχυρῷ σώσῃ τὸν ἀπολλύμενον ἄνθρωπον (Iren.). The succeeding disquisition deserves particular note, because it shows that Hippolytus has also borrowed from Irenæus the idea that the union of the Logos with humanity had already begun in a certain way in the prophets. Overbeck has rightly compared the ἀναπλάσσειν δι᾽ ἑαυτοῦ τὸν Ἀδάμ, l.c., c. 26, with the ἀνακεφαλαιοῦν of Irenæus and l.c., c. 44, with Iren. II. 22, 4. For Hippolytus’ Christology Philosoph. X. 33, p. 542 and c. Noët. 10 ff. are the chief passages of additional importance. In the latter passage it is specially noteworthy that Hippolytus, in addition to many other deviations from Irenæus and Tertullian, insists on applying the full name of Son only to the incarnate Logos. In this we have a remnant of the more ancient idea and at the same time a concession to his opponents who admitted an eternal Logos in God, but not a pre-temporal hypostasis of the Son. See c. 15: ποῖον οὖν υἱὸν ἑαυτοῦ ὁ Θεὸς διὰ τῆς σαρκὸς κατέπεμψεν ἀλλ᾽ ἢ τὸν λόγον; ὃν υἱὸν προσηγόρευε διὰ τὸ μέλλειν αὐτὸν γενέσθαι. Καὶ τὸ κοινὸν ὅνομα τῆς εἰς ἀνθρώπους φιλοστοργίας ἀναλαμβάνει ὁ υἱὸς (καίτοι τέλειος λόγος ὢν μονγενής). οὔδ᾽ ἡ σαρξ καθ᾽ ἑαυτὴν δίχα τοῦ λόγου ὑποστῆναι ἠδύνατο διὰ τὸ ἐν λόγῳ τὴν σύστασιν ἔχειν. οὕτως οὖν εἱς υἱὸς τέλειος Θεοῦ ἐφανερώθη. Hippolytus partook to a much greater extent than his teacher Irenæus of the tree of Greek knowledge and he accordingly speaks much more frequently than the latter of the “divine mysteries” of the faith. From the fragments and writings of this author that are preserved to us the existence of very various Christologies can be shown; and this proves that the Christology of his teacher Irenæus had not by any means yet become predominant in the Church, as we might suppose from the latter’s confident tone. Hippolytus is an exegete and accordingly still yielded with comparative impartiality to the impressions conveyed by the several passages. For example he recognised the woman of Rev. XII. as the Church and the Logos as her child, and gave the following exegesis of the passage (de Christo et Antichristo 61): οὐ παύσεται ἡ ἐκκλησία γεννῶσα ἐκ καρδίας τὸν λόγον τὸν ἐν κόσμω ὑπὸ ἀπίστων διωκόμενον. “καὶ ἔτεκε”, φησίν, “υἱὸν ἄρρενα, ὃς μέλλει ποιμαίνειν πάντα τὰ ἔθνη”, τὸν ἄρρενα καὶ τέλειον Χριστόν, παῖδα Θεοῦ, Θεὸν καὶ ἄνθρωπον καταγγελλόμενον ἀεί τίκτουσα ἡ ἐκκλησία διδάσκει πάντα τὰ ἔθνη. If we consider how Irenæus’ pupil is led by the text of the Holy Scriptures to the most diverse “doctrines”, we see how the “Scripture” theologians were the very ones who threatened the faith with the greatest corruptions. As the exegesis of the Valentinian schools became the mother of numerous self-contradictory Christologies, so the same result was threatened here — “doctrinæ inolescentes in silvas iam exoleverunt Gnosticorum.” From this standpoint Origen’s undertaking to subject the whole material of Biblical exegesis to a fixed theory appears in its historical greatness and importance.
But beyond doubt the prevailing conception of Christ in 287Irenæus is the idea that there was the most complete unity between his divine and human natures; for it is the necessary consequence of his doctrine of redemption, that “Jesus Christus factus est, quod sumus nos, uti nos perficeret esse quod et ipse”609609See other passages on p. 241, note 2. This is also reëchoed in Cyprian. See, for example, ep. 58. 6: “filius dei passus est ut nos filios dei faceret, et filius hominis (scil. the Christians) pati non vult esse dei filius possit.” 288(“Jesus Christ became what we are in order that we might become what he himself is”). But, in accordance with the recapitulation theory, Irenæus developed the “factus est quod sumus nos” in such a way that the individual portions of the life of Christ, as corresponding to what we ought to have done but did not do, receive the value of saving acts culminating in the death on the cross. Thus he not only regards Jesus Christ as “salvation and saviour and saving” (“salus et salvator et salutare”),610610See III. 10. 3. but he also views his whole life as a work of salvation. All that has taken place between the conception and the ascension is an inner necessity in this work of salvation. This is a highly significant advance beyond the conception of the Apologists. Whilst in their case the history of Jesus seems to derive its importance almost solely from the fulfilment of prophecy, it acquires in Irenæus an independent and fundamental significance. Here also we recognise the influence of “Gnosis”, nay, in many places he uses the same expressions as the Gnostics, when he sees salvation accomplished, on the one hand, in the mere appearance of Jesus Christ as the second Adam, and on the other, in the simple acknowledgment of this appearance.611611See the remarkable passage in IV. 36. 7: ἡ γνῶσις τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἥτις ἦν ἀσθαρσία. Another result of the Gnostic struggle is Irenæus’ raising the question as to what new thing the Lord has brought (IV. 34. 1): “Si autem subit vos huiusmodi sensus, ut dicatis: Quid igitur novi dominus attulit veniens? cognoscite, quoniam omnem novitatem attulit semetipsum afferens, qui fuerat annuntiatus.” The new thing is then defined thus: “Cum perceperunt eam quæ ab eo est libertatem et participant visionem eius et audierunt sermones eius et fruiti sunt muneribus ab eo, non iam requiretur, quid novius attulit rex super eos, qui annuntiaverunt advenum eius . . . Semetipsum enim attulit et ea quæ prædicta sunt bona.” But he is distinguished from them by the fact that he decidedly emphasises the personal acts of Jesus, and that he applies the benefits of Christ’s work not to the “pneumatic” ipso facto, but in principle to all men, though practically only to those who listen to the Saviour’s words and adorn themselves with works of righteousness.612612See IV. 36. 6: “Adhuc manifestavit oportere nos cum vocatione (i.e., μετὰ τὴν κλῆσιν) et iustitiæ operibus adornari, uti requiescat super nos spiritus dei” — we must provide ourselves with the wedding garment. Irenæus presented this work of Christ from various points of view. He regards it as 289the realisation of man’s original destiny, that is, being in communion with God, contemplating God, being imperishable like God; he moreover views it as the abolition of the consequences of Adam’s disobedience, and therefore as the redemption of men from death and the dominion of the devil; and finally he looks upon it as reconciliation with God. In all these conceptions Irenæus fell back upon the person of Christ. Here, at the same time, he is everywhere determined by the content of Biblical passages; in fact it is just the New Testament that leads him to these considerations, as was first the case with the Valentinians before him. How uncertain he still is as to their ecclesiastical importance is shown by the fact that he has no hesitation in reckoning the question, as to why the Word of God became flesh and suffered, among the articles that are a matter of consideration for science, but not for the simple faith (I. 10. 3). Here, therefore, he still maintains the archaic standpoint according to which it is sufficient to adhere to the baptismal confession and wait for the second coming of Christ along with the resurrection of the body. On the other hand, Irenæus did not merely confine himself to describing the fact of redemption, its content and its consequences; but he also attempted to explain the peculiar nature of this redemption from the essence of God and the incapacity of man, thus solving the question “cur deus Homo” in the highest sense.613613The incapacity of man is referred to in III. 18. 1: III. 21. 10; III. 21-23 shows that the same man that had fallen had to be led to communion with God; V. 21. 3: V. 24. 4 teach that man had to overcome the devil; the intrinsic necessity of God’s appearing as Redeemer is treated of in III. 23. 1: “Si Adam iam non reverteretur ad vitam, sed in totum proiectus esset morti, victus esset dens et superasset serpentis nequitia voluntatem dei. Sed quoniam deus invictus et magnanimis est, magnanimem quidem se exhibuit etc.” That the accomplishment of salvation must be effected in a righteous manner, and therefore be as much a proof of the righteousness as of the immeasurable love and mercy of God, is shown in V. 1. 1: V. 21. Finally, he adopted from Paul the thought that Christ’s real work of salvation consists in his death on the cross; and so he tried to amalgamate the two propositions, “filius dei filius hominis factus est propter nos” (“the Son of God became Son of man for us”) and “filius dei passus est propter nos” (“the Son of God suffered for us”) as the most vital ones. He did not, however, clearly show which 290of these doctrines is the more important. Here the speculation of Irenæus is already involved in the same ambiguity as was destined to be the permanent characteristic of Church speculation as to Christ’s work in succeeding times. For on the one hand, Paul led one to lay all the emphasis on the death on the cross, and on the other, the logical result of dogmatic thinking only pointed to the appearance of God in the flesh, but not to a particular work of Christ that had not been already involved in the appearance of the Divine Teacher himself. Still, Irenæus contrived to reconcile the discrepancy better than his successors, because, being in earnest with his idea of Christ as the second Adam, he was able to contemplate the whole life of Jesus as redemption in so far as he conceived it as a recapitulation. We see this at once not only from his conception of the virgin birth as a fact of salvation, but also from his way of describing redemption as deliverance from the devil. For, as the birth of Christ from the Virgin Mary is the recapitulating counterpart of Adam’s birth from the virgin earth, and as the obedience of the mother of Jesus is the counterpart of Eve’s disobedience, so the story of Jesus’ temptation is to him the recapitulating counterpart of the story of Adam’s temptation. In the way that Jesus overcame the temptation by the devil (Matt. IV.) Irenæus already sees the redemption of mankind from Satan; even then Jesus bound the strong one. But, whereas the devil seized upon man unlawfully and deceitfully, no in-justice, untruthfulness, or violence is displayed in the means by which Jesus resisted Satan’s temptation.614614Irenæus demonstrated the view in V. 21 in great detail. According to his ideas in this chapter we must include the history of the temptation in the regula fidei. As yet Irenæus is quite as free from the thought that the devil has real rights upon man, as he is from the immoral idea that God accomplished his work of redemption by an act of deceit. But, on the strength of Pauline passages, many of his teachings rather view redemption from the devil as accomplished by the death of Christ, and accordingly represent this death as a ransom paid to the “apostasy” for men who had fallen into captivity. He did not, however, develop this thought any further.615615See particularly V. I. 1: “Verbum potens et homo verus sanguine suo ratio nabiliter redimens nos, redemptionem semetipsum dedit pro his, qui in captivitatem ducti sunt . . . dei verbum non deficiens in sua iustitia, iuste etiam adversus ipsam conversus est apostasiam, ea quæ sunt sua redimens ab ea, non cum vi, quemadmodum illa initio dominabatur nostri, ea quæ non erant sua insatiabiliter rapiens, sed secundum suadelam, quemadmodum decebat deum suadentem et non vim inferentem, accipere quæ vellet, ut neque quod est iustum confringeretur neque antiqua plasmatio dei deperiret.” We see that the idea of the blood of Christ as ransom does not possess with Irenæus the value of a fully developed theory, but is suggestive of one. But even in this form it appeared suspicious and, in fact, a Marcionite idea to a Catholic teacher of the 3rd century. Pseudo-Origen (Adamantius) opposed it by the following argument (De recta in deum fide, edid Wetstein 1673, Sectio I. p. 38 sq. See Rufinus’ translation in Caspari’s Kirchenhistorische Anecdota Vol. I. 1883, p. 34 sq., which in many places has preserved the right sense): Τὸν πριωμενον ἔσης, εἶναι τὸν Χριστόν; ὁ πεπρακὼς τὶς ἐστιν; ἦλθεν εἰς σὲ ὁ ἀπλοῦς μῠθος· ὅτι ὁ πωλῶν καὶ ὁ ἀγοράζων ἀδελσοί εἰσιν; εἰ κακός ὤν ὁ διάβολος τῷ ἀγαθῷ πέπρακεν, οὐκ ἔστι κακὸς ἀλλὰ ἀγαθός· ὁ γὰρ ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς σθονήσας τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ, νῦν ὀυκ ἔτι ὑπὸ σθόνου ἄγεται, τῷ ἀγαθῷ τὴν νομὴν παραδούς. ἔσται οὖν δίκαιος ὁ τοῦ σθόνου καὶ παντὸς κακοῦ παυσάμενος. αὐτὸς γοῦν ὁ Θεὸς εὑρίσκεται πωλήσας· μᾶλλον δὲ οἱ ἡμαρτηκότες ἑαυτοὺς ἀπηλλοτρίωσαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι διὰ τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἀυτῶν· πάλιν δὲ ἐλυτρώθησαν διὰ τὴν εὐσπλαγχνίαν ἀυτοῦ. τοῦτο γὰρ σήσιν ὁ προσήτης· Ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν ἐπράθητε καὶ ταῖς ἀνομίαις ἐξαπέστειλα τὴν μητέρα ὑμῶν. Καὶ ἄλλος πὰλιν· Δωρεὰν ἐπράθητε, καὶ οὐ μετὰ ἀργυρίου λυτρωθήσεσθε. Τὸ, οὐδὲ μετὰ ἀργυρίου· δηλονότι, τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ. τοῦτο γὰρ σάσκει ὁ προσήτης (Isaiah, LIII. 5 follows). Ἐικὸς δὲ ὅτι κατὰ σὲ επρίατο δοὺς ἑαυτοῦ τὸ αἷμα· πῶς οὖν καὶ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἡγείρετο; εἰ γὰρ ὁ λαβὼν τὴν τιμὴν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, τὸ αἷμα, ἀπέδωκεν, οὐκέτι ἐπώλησεν. Εὶ δὲ μὴ ἀπέδωκε, τῶς ἀνέστη Χριστός; οὐκέτι οὗν τό, Ἐξουσίαν ἔχω θεῖναι καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἔχω λαβεῖν, ἵσταται; ὁ γοῦν διὰβολος κατέχει τὸ αἶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἀντὶ τῆς τιμῆς τῶν ἀνθρώπων; πολλὴ βλασσήμιος ἄνοια! σεῦ τῶν κακῶν! σεῦ τῶν κακῶν! Ἀπέθανεν, ἀνέστη ὡς δυνατὸς· ἔθηκεν ὅ ἔλαβεν· αὕτη ποία πρᾶσις; τοῦ προσήτου λέγοντος· Ἀναστήτω ὁ Θεὸς καὶ διασκορπισθήτωσαν οἱ ἐχθροὶ ἀυτοῦ; Ὅπου ἀνδστασις, ἐκεῖ θάνατος! That is an argument as acute as it is true and victorious.291
His idea of the reconciliation of God is just as rudimentary, and merely suggested by Biblical passages. He sometimes saw the means of reconciliation solely in obedience and in the righteous flesh” as such, at other times in the “wood.” Here also the recapitulation theory again appears: through disobedience at the tree Adam became a debtor to God, and through obedience at the tree God is reconciled.616616 See Iren. V. 2, 3, 16. 3, 17-4. In III. 16. 9 he says: Christus per passionem reconciliavit nos deo.” It is moreover very instructive to compare the way in which Irenæus worked out the recapitulation theory with the old proof from prophecy (“this happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled”). Here we certainly have an advance; but at bottom the recapitulation theory may also be conceived as a modification of that proof. But teachings as to vicarious suffering on the part of Christ are not found in Irenæus, 292and his death is seldom presented from the point of view of a sacrifice offered to God.617617See, e.g., IV. 5. 4: προθύμως Ἀβραὰμ τὸν ἴδιον μονογενῆ καὶ ἀγαπητὸν παραχωρήσας θυσίαν τῷ Θεῷ, ἵνα καὶ ὁ Θεὸς εὐδοκήσῃ ὑπὲρ τοῦ σπέρματος ἀυτοῦ παντὸς τὸν ἴδιον μονογενῆ καὶ ἀγαπητὸν υἱὸν θύσίαν παρασχεῖν εἰς λύτρωσιν ἡμετέραν. According to this author the reconciliation virtually consists in Christ’s restoring man to communion and friendship with God and procuring forgiveness of sins; he very seldom speaks of God being offended through Adam’s sin (V. 16. 3). But the incidental mention of the forgiveness of sins resulting from the redemption by Christ has not the meaning of an abolition of sin. He connects the redemption with this only in the form of Biblical and rhetorical phrases; for the vital point with him is the abolition of the consequences of sin, and particularly of the sentence of death.618618There are not a few passages where Irenæus said that Christ has annihilated sin, abolished Adam’s disobedience, and introduced righteousness through his obedience (III. 18. 6, 7: III. 20. 2: V. 16-21); but he only once tried to explain how that is to be conceived (III. 18. 7), and then merely reproduced Paul’s thoughts. Here we have the transition to the conception of Christ’s work which makes this appear more as a completion than as a restoration. In this connection Irenæus employed the following categories: restoring of the likeness of God in humanity; abolition of death; connection and union of man with God; adoption of men as sons of God and as gods; imparting of the Spirit who now becomes accustomed to abide with men;619619 Irenæus has no hesitation in calling the Christian who has received the Spirit of God the perfect, the spiritual one, and in representing him, in contrast to the false Gnostic, as he who in truth judges all men, Jews, heathen, Marcionites, and Valentinians, but is himself judged by no one; see the great disquisition in IV. 33 and V. 9. 10. This true Gnostic, however, is only to be found where we meet with right faith in God the Creator, sure conviction with regard to the God-man Jesus Christ, true knowledge as regards the Holy Spirit and the economy of salvation, the apostolic doctrine, the right Church system in accordance with the episcopal succession, the intact Holy Scripture, and its uncorrupted text and interpretation (IV. 33. 7, 8). To him the true believer is the real Gnostic. imparting of a knowledge of God culminating in beholding him; bestowal of everlasting life. All these are only the different aspects of one and the same blessing, which, being of a divine order, could only be brought to us and implanted in our nature by God himself. But inasmuch as this view represents Christ not as performing a reconciling but a perfecting work, his acts are 293thrust more into the background; his work is contained in his constitution as the God-man. Hence this work has a universal significance for all men, not only as regards the present, but as regards the past from Adam downwards, in so far as they “according to their virtue in their generation have not only feared but also loved God, and have behaved justly and piously towards their neighbours, and have longed to see Christ and to hear his voice.”620620 See IV. 22. In accordance with the recapitulation theory Christ must also have descended to the lower world. There he announced forgiveness of sins to the righteous, the patriarchs and prophets (IV. 27. 2). For this, however, Irenæus was not able to appeal to Scripture texts, but only to statements of a presbyter. It is nevertheless expressly asserted, on the authority of Rom. III. 23, that these pre-Christian just men also could only receive justification and the light of salvation through the arrival of Christ among them. Those redeemed by Jesus are immediately joined by him into a unity, into the true humanity, the Church, whose head he himself is.621621See III. 16. 6: “In omnibus autem est et homo plasmatio dei; et hominem ergo in semetipsum recapitulans est, invisibilis visibilis factus, et incomprehensibilis factus comprehensibilis et impassibilis passibilis, et verbum homo, universa in semetipsum recapitulans, uti sicut in supercælestibus et spiritalibus et invisibilibus princeps est verbum dei, sic et in visibilibus et corporalibus principatum habeat, in semetipsum primatum assumens et apponens semetipsum caput ecclesiæ, universa attrahat ad semetipsum apto in tempore.” This Church is the communion of the Sons of God, who have attained to a contemplation of him and have been gifted with everlasting life. In this the work of Christ the God-man is fulfilled. In Tertullian and Hippolytus, as the result of New Testament exegesis, we again find the same aspects of Christ’s work as in Irenæus, only with them the mystical form of redemption recedes into the background.622622There are innumerable passages where Tertullian has urged that the whole work of Christ is comprised in the death on the cross, and indeed that this death was the aim of Christ’s mission. See, e.g., de pat. 3: “Taceo quod figitur; in hoc enim venerat”; de bapt. 11: “Mors nostra dissolvi non potuit, nisi domini passione, nec vita restitui sine resurrectione ipsius”; adv. Marc. III. 8: “Si mendacium deprehenditur Christi caro . . . nec passiones Christi fidem merebuntur. Eversum est igitur totum dei opus. Totum Christiani nominis et pondus et fructus, mors Christi, negatur, quam tam impresse apostolus demendat, utique veram, summum eam fundamentum evangelii constituens et salutis nostræ et prædictionis sum, 1 Cor. XV. 3, 4; he follows Paul here. But on the other hand he has also adopted from Irenæus the mystical conception of redemption — the constitution of Christ is the redemption — though with a rationalistic explanation. See adv. Marc. II. 27: “filius miscens in semetipso hominem et deum, ut tantum homini conferat, quantum deo detrahit. Conversabatur deus, ut homo divina agere doceretur. Ex æquo agebat deus cum homine, ut homo ex æquo agere cum deo posset.” Here therefore the meaning of the divine manhood of the Redeemer virtually amounts to divine teaching. In de resurr. 63 Christ is called “fidelissimus sequester dei et hominum, qui et homini deum et hominem deo reddet.” Note the future tense. It is the same with Hippolytus who in Philos. X. 34 represents the deification of men as the aim of redemption, but at the same time merely requires Christ as the lawgiver and teacher: “Καὶ ταῦτα μὲν ἐκσεύξῃ Θεὸν τὸν ὄντα διδαχθείς, ἕξεις δὲ ἀθάνατον τὸ σῶμα καὶ ἄσθαρτον ἅμα ψυχῇ, βασιλείαν ὀυρανῶν ἀπολήψῃ, ὁ ἐν γῇ βιοὺς καὶ ἐπουράνιον βασιλέα ἐπιγνούς, ἔσῃ δὲ ὁμιλητὴς Θεοῦ καὶ συγκληρονόμος Χριστοῦ, οὐκ ἐπιθυμίαις ἤ πάθεσι καὶ νόσοις δουλούμενος. Γέγονας γὰρ Θεός· ὅσα γὰρ ὑπέμεινας πάθη ἄνθρωπος ὤν, ταῦτα ἐδίδου, ὅτι ἄνθρωπος εἶ, ὅσα δὲ παρακολουθεῖ Θεῷ, ταῦτα παρέχειν ἐπήγγελται Θεὸς, ὅτι ἐθεοποιήθης, ἀθάνατος γεννηθείς. Τουτέστι τὸ Γνῶθι σεαυτόν, επιγνοὺς τὸν πεποιηκότα Θεόν. Τὸ γὰρ ἐπιγνῶναι ἑαυτὸν ἐπιγνωσθῆναι συμβέβηκε τῷ καλουμένῳ ὑπ᾽ ἀυτοῦ. Μὴ σιλεχθρήσητε τοίνυν ἑαυτοῖς, ἄνθρωποι, μηδὲ τὸ παλινδρομεῖν διστάσητε. Χριστὸς γὰρ ἐστιν ὁ κατὰ πάντων Θεός, ὃς τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ἀποπλύνειν προέταξε, νέον τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον ἀποτελῶν, εἰκόνα τοῦτον καλέσας ἀπ᾽ ἀρχῆς, διὰ τύπου τὴν εἰς σὲ ἐπιδεικνύμενος στοργήν, οὗ προστάγμασιν ὑπακούσας σεμνοῖς, καὶ ἀγαθοῦ ἀγαθὸς γενόμενος μιμητής, ἔσῃ ὅμοιος ὑπ᾽ ἀυτοῦ τιμηθείς. Οὐ γὰρ πτωχέυει Θεὸς καὶ σὲ Θεὸν ποιήσας εἰς δόξαν αὐτοῦ.” It is clear that with a conception like this, which became prevalent in the 3rd century, Christ’s death on the cross could have no proper significance; nothing but the Holy Scriptures preserved its importance. We may further remark that Tertullian used the expression “satisfacere deo” about men (see, e.g., de bapt. 20; de pud. 9), but, so far as I know, not about the work of Christ. This expression is very frequerit in Cyprian (for penances), and he also uses it about Christ. In both writers, moreover, we find “meritum” (eg. , Scorp. 6) and “promereri deum”. With them and with Novatian the idea of “culpa” is also more strongly emphasised than it is by the Eastern theologians. Cf. Novatian de trin. 10: “quoniam cum caro et sanguis non obtinere regnum dei scribitur, non carnis substantia damnata est, quæ divinis manibus ne periret, exstructa est, sed sola carnis culpa merito reprehensa est.” Tertullian de bapt. 5 says: “Exempto reatu eximitur et pœna.” On the other hand he speaks of fasting as “officia humiliationis”, through which we can “inlicere” God. Among these Western writers the thought that God’s anger must be appeased both by sacrifices and corresponding acts appears in a much more pronounced form than in Irenæus. This is explained by their ideas as practical churchmen and by their actual experiences in communities that were already of a very secular character. We may, moreover, point out in a general way that the views of Hippolytus are everywhere more strictly dependent on Scripture texts than those of Irenæus. That many of the latter’s speculations are not found in Hippolytus is simply explained by the fact that they have no clear scriptural basis; see Overbeck, Quæst. Hippol., Specimen p. 75, note 29. On a superficial reading Tertullian seems to have a greater variety of points of view than Irenæus; he has in truth fewer, he contrived to work the grains of gold transmitted to him in such a way as to make the form more valuable than the substance. But one idea of Tertullian, which is not found in Irenæus, and which in after times was to attain great importance in the East (after Origen’s day) and in the West (after the time of Ambrosius), may be further referred to. We mean the notion that Christ is the bridegroom and the human soul (and also the human body) the bride. This theologoumenon owes its origin to a combination of two older ones, and subsequently received its Biblical basis from the Song of Solomon. The first of these older theologoumena is the Greek philosophical notion that the divine Spirit is the bridegroom and husband of the human soul. See the Gnostics (e.g., the sublime description in the Excerpta ex Theodoto 27); Clem. ep. ad Jacob. 4. 6; as well as Tatian, Orat. 13; Tertull., de anima 41 fin.: “Sequitur animam nubentem spiritui caro; o beatum connubium”; and the still earlier Sap. Sal. VIII. 2 sq. An offensively realistic form of this image is found in Clem. Hom. III. 27: νύμφη γὰρ εστὶν ὁ πᾶς ἅνθρωπος, ὁπόταν τοῦ ἀληθοῦς προφήτου λευκῷ λόγῳ ἀληθείας σπειρόμενος φωτίζηται τὸν νοῦν. The second is the apostolic notion that the Church is the bride and the body of Christ. In the 2nd Epistle of Clement the latter theologoumenon is already applied in a modified form. Here it is said that humanity as the Church, that is human nature (the flesh), belongs to Christ as his Eve (c. 14; see also Ignat. ad Polyc. V. 2; Tertull. de monog. 11, and my notes on Διδαχή XI. 11). The conclusion that could be drawn from this, and that seemed to have a basis in certain utterances of Jesus, viz., that the individual human soul together with the flesh is to be designated as the bride of Christ, was, so far as I know, first arrived at by Tertullian de resurr. 63: “Carnem et spiritum iam in semetipso Christus fœderavit, sponsam sponso et sponsum sponsæ comparavit. Nam et si animam quis contenderit sponsam, vel dotis nomine sequetur animam caro . . . Caro est sponsa, quæ in Christo spiritum sponsum per sanguinem pacta est”; see also de virg. vel. 16. Notice, however, that Tertullian continually thinks of all souls together (all flesh together) rather than of the individual soul.294
Nevertheless the eschatology as set forth by Irenæus in the fifth Book by no means corresponds to this conception of the work of Christ as a restoring and completing one; it rather appears as a remnant of antiquity directly opposed to the 295speculative interpretation of redemption, but protected by the regula fidei, the New Testament, especially Revelation, and the material hopes of the great majority of Christians. But it would be a great mistake to assume that Irenæus merely repeated the hopes of an earthly kingdom just because he still found them in tradition, and because they were completely rejected by the Gnostics and guaranteed by the regula and the New Testament.623623By the regula inasmuch as the words “from thence he will come to judge the quick and the dead” had a fixed place in the confessions, and the belief in the duplex adventus Christi formed one of the most important articles of Church belief in contradistinction to Judaism and Gnosticism (see the collection of passages in Hesse, “das Muratorische Fragment”, p. 112 f.). But the belief in the return of Christ to this world necessarily involved the hope of a kingdom of glory under Christ upon earth, and without this hope is merely a rhetorical flourish. 296The truth rather is that he as well as Melito, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Lactantius, Commodian, and Victorinus lived in these hopes no less than did Papias, the Asia Minor Presbyters and Justin.624624 Cf. here the account already given in Book I., chap. 3, Vol. I., p. 167 ff., Book I., chap. 4, Vol. I., p. 261, Book II., chap. 3, Vol. I., p. 105 f. On Melito compare the testimony of Polycrates in Eusebius, H. E. V. 24. 5, and the title of his lost work πέρὶ τοῦ διαβόλου καὶ τῆς ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰωάννου.” Chiliastic ideas are also found in the epistle from Lyons in Eusebius, H. E. V. 1 sq. On Hippolytus see his work “de Christo et Antichristo” and Overbeck careful account (l.c., p. 70 sq.) of the agreement here existing between Irenæus and Hippolytus as well as of the latter’s chiliasm on which unfounded doubts have been cast. Overbeck has also, in my opinion, shown the probability of chiliastic portions having been removed at a later period both from Hippolytus’ book and the great work of Irenæus. The extensive fragments of Hippolytus’ commentary on Daniel are also to be compared (and especially the portions full of glowing hatred to Rome lately discovered by Georgiades). With reference to Tertullian compare particularly the writings adv. Marc. III., adv. Jud., de resurrectione carnis, de anima, and the titles of the subsequently suppressed writings de paradiso and de spe fidelium. Further see Commodian, Carmen apolog., Lactantius, Instit. div., 1. VII., Victorinus, Commentary on the Apocalypse. It is very remarkable that Cyprian already set chiliasm aside; cf. the conclusion of the second Book of the Testimonia and the few passages in which he quoted the last chapters of Revelation. The Apologists were silent about chiliastic hopes, Justin even denied them in Apol. I. 11, but, as we have remarked, he gives expression to them in the Dialogue and reckons them necessary to complete orthodoxy. The Pauline eschatology, especially several passages in 1 Cor. XV. (see particularly verse 50), caused great difficulties to the Fathers from Justin downwards. See Fragm. Justini IV. a Methodio supped. in Otto, Corp. Apol. III., p. 254, Iren. V. 9, Tertull. de resurr. 48 sq. According to Irenæus the heretics, who completely abandoned the early-Christian eschatology, appealed to 1 Cor. XV. 50. The idea of a kind of purgatory — a notion which does not originate with the realistic but with the philosophical eschatology — is quite plainly found in Tertullian, e.g., in de anima 57 and 58 (“modicum delictum illuc luendum”). He speaks in several passages of stages and different places of bliss; and this was a universally diffused idea (e.g., Scorp. 6). But this is the clearest proof that all these theologians were but half-hearted in their theology, which was forced upon them, in defence of the traditional faith, by the historical situation in which they found themselves. The Christ, who will shortly come to overcome Antichrist, overthrow the Roman empire, establish in Jerusalem a kingdom of glory, and feed believers with the fat of a miraculously fruitful earth, is in fact a quite different being from the Christ who, as the incarnate 297God, has already virtually accomplished his work of imparting perfect knowledge and filling mankind with divine life and incorruptibility. The fact that the old Catholic Fathers have both Christs shows more clearly than any other the middle position that they occupy between the acutely hellenised Christianity of the theologians, i.e., the Gnostics, and the old tradition of the Church. We have indeed seen that the twofold conception of Christ and his work dates back to the time of the Apostles, for there is a vast difference between the Christ of Paul and the Christ of the supposedly inspired Jewish Apocalypses; and also that the agency in producing this conjunction may be traced back to the oldest time; but the union of a precise Christological Gnosis, such as we find in Irenæus and Tertullian, with the retention in their integrity of the imaginative series of thoughts about Antichrist, Christ as the warrior hero, the double resurrection, and the kingdom of glory in Jerusalem, is really a historical novelty. There is, however, no doubt that the strength of the old Catholic theology in opposition to the Gnostics lies in the accomplishment of this union, which, on the basis of the New Testament, appeared to the Fathers possible and necessary. For it is not systematic consistency that secures the future of a religious conception within a church, but its elasticity, and its richness in dissimilar trains of thought. But no doubt this must be accompanied by a firm foundation, and this too the old Catholic Fathers possessed — the church system itself.
As regards the details of the eschatological hopes, they were fully set forth by Irenæus himself in Book V. Apart from the belief that the returning Nero would be the Antichrist, an idea spread in the West during the third century by the Sibylline verses and proved from Revelation, the later teachers who preached chiliastic hopes did not seriously differ from the gallic bishop; hence the interpretation of Revelation is in its main features the same. It is enough therefore to refer to the fifth Book of Irenæus.625625Irenæus begins with the resurrection of the body and the proofs of it (in opposition to Gnosticism). These proofs are taken from the omnipotence and goodness of God, the long life of the patriarchs, the translation of Enoch and Elijah, the preservation of Jonah and of the three men in the fiery furnace, the essential nature of man as a temple of God to which the body also belongs, and the resurrection of Christ (V. 3-7). But Irenæus sees the chief proof in the incarnation of Christ, in the dwelling of the Spirit with its gifts in us (V. 8-16), and in the feeding of our body with the holy eucharist (V. 2. 3).Then he discusses the defeat of Satan by Christ (V. 21-23), shows that the powers that be are set up by God, that the devil therefore manifestly lies in arrogating to himself the lordship of the world (V. 24), but that he acts as a rebel and robber in attempting to make himself master of it. This brings about the transition to Antichrist. The latter is possessed of the whole power of the devil, sums up in himself therefore all sin and wickedness, and pretends to be Lord and God. He is described in accordance with the Apocalypses of Daniel and John as well as according to Matth. XXIV. and 2nd Thessalonians. He is the product of the 4th Kingdom that is, the Roman empire; but at the same time springs from the tribe of Dan (V. 30. 2), and will take up his abode in Jerusalem etc. The returning Christ will destroy him, and the Christ will come back when 6000 years of the world’s history have elapsed; for “in as many days as the world was made, in so many thousands of years will it be ended” (V. 28. 3). The seventh day is then the great world Sabbath, during which Christ will reign with the saints of the first resurrection after the destruction of Antichrist. Irenæus expressly argued against such as pass for orthodox, but disregard the order of the progress of the righteous and know no stages of preparation for incorruptibility” (V. 31). By this he means such as assume that after death souls immediately pass to God. On the contrary he argues that these rather wait in a hidden place for the resurrection which takes place on the return of Christ after which the souls receive back their bodies and men now restored participate in the Saviour’s Kingdom (V. 31. 2). This Kingdom on earth precedes the universal judgment; “for it is just that they should also receive the fruits of their patience in the same creation in which they suffered tribulation”; moreover, the promise made to Abraham that Palestine would be given to him and to his seed, i.e., the Christians, must be fulfilled (V. 32). There they will eat and drink with the Lord in the restored body (V. 33. 1), sitting at a table covered with food (V. 33. 2) and consuming the produce of the land, which the earth affords in miraculous fruitfulness. Here Irenæus appeals to alleged utterances of the Lord of which he had been informed by Papias (V. 33. 3, 4). The wheat will be so fat that lions lying peacefully beside the cattle will be able to feed themselves even on the chaff (V. 33. 3, 4). Such and similar promises are everywhere to be understood in a literal sense. Irenæus here expressly argues against any figurative interpretation (ibid. and V. 35). He therefore adopted the whole Jewish eschatology, the only difference being that he regards the Church as the seed of Abraham. The earthly Kingdom is then followed by the second resurrection, the general judgment, and the final end. There is no need to show in detail that 298chiliasm leads to a peculiar view of history, which is as much opposed to that resulting from the Gnostic theory of redemption, as this doctrine itself forbids the hope of a bliss to be realised in an earthly kingdom of glory. This is not the proper place to demonstrate to what extent the two have been blended, 299and how the chiliastic scheme of history has been emptied of its content and utilised in the service of theological apologetics.
But the Gnostics were not the only opponents of chiliasm. Justin, even in his time, knew orthodox Christians who refused to believe in an earthly kingdom of Christ in Jerusalem, and Irenæus (V. 33 ff.), Tertullian, and Hippolytus626626Hippolytus in the lost book ὑπὲρ τοῦ κατὰ Ἰωάννην εὐαγγελίου καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως. Perhaps we may also reckon Melito among the literary defenders of Chiliasm. expressly argued against these. Soon after the middle of the second century, we hear of an ecclesiastical party in Asia Minor, which not only repudiated chiliasm, but also rejected the Revelation of John as an untrustworthy book, and subjected it to sharp criticism. These were the so-called Alogi.627627See Epiph., H. 51, who here falls back on Hippolytus. But in the second century such Christians were still in the minority in the Church. It was only in the course of the third century that chiliasm was almost completely ousted in the East. This was the result of the Montanistic controversy and the Alexandrian theology. In the West, however, it was only threatened. In this Church the first literary opponent of chiliasm and of the Apocalypse appears to have been the Roman Presbyter Caius. But his polemic did not prevail. On the other hand the learned bishops of the East in the third century used their utmost efforts to combat and extirpate chiliasm. The information given to us by Eusebius (H. E. VII. 24), from the letters of Dionysius of Alexandria, about that father’s struggles with whole communities in Egypt, who would not give up chiliasm, is of the highest interest. This account shews that wherever philosophical theology had not yet made its way the chiliastic hopes were not only cherished and defended against being explained away, but were emphatically regarded as Christianity itself.628628In the Christian village communities of the district of Arsinoë the people would not part with chiliasm, and matters even went the length of an “apostasy” from the Alexandrian Church. A book by an Egyptian bishop, Nepos, entitled “Refutation of the allegorists” attained the highest repute. “They esteem the law and the prophets as nothing, neglect to follow the Gospels, think little of the Epistles of the Apostles, and on the contrary declare the doctrine set forth in this book to be a really great secret. They do not permit the simpler brethren among us to obtain a sublime and grand idea of the glorious and truly divine appearance of our Lord, of our resurrection from the dead as well as of the union and assimilation with him; but they persuade us to hope for things petty, perishable, and similar to the present in the kingdom of God.” So Dionysius expressed himself, and these words are highly characteristic of his own position and that of his opponents; for in fact the whole New Testament could not but be thrust into the background in cases where the chiliastic hopes were really adhered to. Dionysius asserts that he convinced these Churches by his lectures; but chiliasm and material religious ideas were still long preserved in the deserts of Egypt. They were cherished by the monks; hence Jewish Apocalypses accepted by Christians are preserved in the Coptic and Ethiopian languages. Cultured 300theologians were able to achieve the union of chiliasm and religious philosophy; but the “simplices et idiotæ” could only understand the former. As the chiliastic hopes were gradually obliged to recede in exactly the same proportion as philosophic theology became naturalised, so also their subsidence denotes the progressive tutelage of the laity. The religion they under. stood was taken from them, and they received in return a faith they could not understand; in other words, the old faith and the old hopes decayed of themselves and the authority of a mysterious faith took their place. In this sense the extirpation or decay of chiliasm is perhaps the most momentous fact in the history of Christianity in the East. With chiliasm men also lost the living faith in the nearly impending return of Christ, and the consciousness that the prophetic spirit with its gifts is a real possession of Christendom. Such of the old hopes as remained were at most particoloured harmless fancies which, when allowed by theology, were permitted to be added to dogmatics. In the West, on the contrary, the millennial hopes retained their vigour during the whole third century; we know of no bishop there who would have opposed chiliasm. With this, however, was preserved a portion of the earliest Christianity which was to exercise its effects far beyond the time of Augustine.
Finally, we have still to treat of the altered conceptions regarding the Old Testament which the creation of the New produced among the early-Catholic Fathers. In the case of Barnabas and the Apologists we became acquainted with a theory of the Old Testament which represented it as the Christian 301book of revelation and accordingly subjected it throughout to an allegorical process. Here nothing specifically new could be pointed out as having been brought by Christ. Sharply opposed to this conception was that of Marcion, according to which the whole Old Testament was regarded as the proclamation of a Jewish God hostile to the God of redemption. The views of the majority of the Gnostics occupied a middle position between the two notions. These distinguished different components of the Old Testament, some of which they traced to the supreme God himself and others to intermediate and malevolent beings. In this way they both established a connection between the Old Testament, and the Christian revelation and contrived to show that the latter contained a specific novelty. This historico-critical conception, such as we specially see it in the epistle of Ptolemy to Flora, could not be accepted by the Church because it abolished strict monotheism and endangered the proof from prophecy. No doubt, however, we already find in Justin and others the beginning of a compromise, in so far as a distinction was made between the moral law of nature contained in the Old Testament — the Decalogue — and the ceremonial law; and in so far as the literal interpretation of the latter, for which a pedagogic significance was claimed, was allowed in addition to its typical or Christian sense. With this theory it was possible, on the one hand, to do some sort of justice to the historical position of the Jewish people, and on the other, though indeed in a meagre fashion, to give expression to the novelty of Christianity. The latter now appears as the new law or the law of freedom, in so far as the moral law of nature had been restored in its full purity without the burden of ceremonies, and a particular historical relation to God was allowed to the Jewish nation, though indeed more a wrathful than a covenant one. For the ceremonial regulations were conceived partly as tokens of the judgment on Israel, partly as concessions to the stiffneckedness of the people in order to protect them from the worst evil, polytheism.
Now the struggle with the Gnostics and Marcion, and the creation of a New Testament had necessarily a double consequence. On the one hand, the proposition that the “Father of 302Jesus Christ is the creator of the world and the God of the Old Testament” required the strictest adherence to the unity of the two Testaments, so that the traditional apologetic view of the older book had to undergo the most rigid development; on the other hand, as soon as the New Testament was created, it was impossible to avoid seeing that this book was superior to the earlier one, and thus the theory of the novelty of the Christian doctrine worked out by the Gnostics and Marcion had in some way or other to be set forth and demonstrated. We now see the old Catholic Fathers engaged in the solution of this twofold problem; and their method of accomplishing it has continued to be the prevailing one in all Churches up to the present time, in so far as the ecclesiastical and dogmatic practice still continues to exhibit the inconsistencies of treating the Old Testament as a Christian book in the strict sense of the word and yet elevating the New above it, of giving a typical interpretation to the ceremonial law and yet acknowledging that the Jewish people had a covenant with God.
With regard to the first point, viz., the maintenance of the unity of the two Testaments, Irenæus and Tertullian gave a most detailed demonstration of it in opposition to Marcion,629629See Irenæus lib. IV. and Tertull. adv. Marc. lib. II. and III. and primarily indeed with the same means as the older teachers had already used. It is Christ that prophesied and appeared in the Old Testament; he is the householder who produced both Old and New Testaments.630630It would be superfluous to quote passages here; two may stand for all. Iren. IV. 9. 1: “Utraque testamenta unus et idem paterfamilias produxit, verbum dei, dominus noster Iesus Christus, qui et Abrahæ et Moysi collocutus est.” Both Testaments are “unius et eiusdem substantiæ.” IV. 2. 3: “Moysis literæ sunt verba Christi.” Moreover, as the two have the same origin, their meaning is also the same. Like Barnabas the early-Catholic Fathers contrived to give all passages in the Old Testament a typical Christian sense: it is the same truth which we can learn from the prophets and again from Christ and the Apostles. With regard to the Old Testament the watchword is: “Seek the type” (“Typum quæras”).631631See Iren. IV. 31. 1. But they went 303a step further still. In opposition to Marcion’s antitheses and his demonstration that the God of the Old Testament is a petty being and has enjoined petty, external observances, they seek to show in syntheses that the same may be said of the New. (See Irenæus IV. 21-36). The effort of the older teachers to exclude everything outward and ceremonial is no longer met with to the same extent in Irenæus and Tertullian, at least when they are arguing and defending their position against the Gnostics. This has to be explained by two causes. In the first place Judaism (and Jewish Christianity) was at bottom no longer an enemy to be feared; they therefore ceased to make such efforts to avoid the “Jewish” conception of the Old Testament. Irenæus, for example, emphasised in the most naïve manner the observance of the Old Testament law by the early Apostles and also by Paul. This is to him a complete proof that they did not separate the Old Testament God from the Christian Deity.632632Iren. III. 12. 15 (on Gal. II. 11 f.): Sic apostoli, quos universi actus et universæ doctrinæ dominus testes fecit, religiose agebant circa dispositionem legis, quæ est secundum Moysem, ab uno et eodem significantes esse deo”; see Overbeck “Ueber die Auffassung des Streits des Paulus mit Petrus bei den Kirchenvätern,” 1877, p. 8 f. Similar remarks are frequent in Irenæus. In connection with this we observe that the radical antijudaism of the earliest period more and more ceases. Irenæus and Tertullian admitted that the Jewish nation had a covenant with God and that the literal interpretation of the Old Testament was justifiable. Both repeatedly testified that the Jews had the right doctrine and that they only lacked the knowledge of the Son. These thoughts indeed do not attain clear expression with them because their works contain no systematic discussions involving these principles. In the second place the Church itself had become an institution where sacred ceremonial injunctions were necessary; and, in order to find a basis for these, they had to fall back on Old Testament commandments (see Vol. I., chap. 6, p. 291 ff.). In Tertullian we find this only in its most rudimentary form;633633Cf., e.g., de monog. 7: “Certe sacerdotes sumus a Christo vocati, monogamiæ debitores, ex pristina dei lege, quæ nos tunc in suis sacerdotibus prophetavit.” Here also Tertullian’s Montanism had an effect. Though conceiving the directions of the Paraclete as new legislation, the Montanists would not renounce the view that these laws were in some way already indicated in the written documents of revelation. but in 304the course of the third century these needs grew mightily634634Very much may be made out with regard to this from Origen’s works and the later literature, particularly from Commodian and the Apostolic Constitutions, lib. I.-VI. and were satisfied. In this way the Old Testament threatened to become an authentic book of revelation to the Church, and that in a quite different and much more dangerous sense than was formerly the case with the Apostolic Fathers and the Apologists.
With reference to the second point, we may remark that just when the decay of antijudaism, the polemic against Marcion, and the new needs of the ecclesiastical system threatened the Church with an estimate of the Old Testament hitherto unheard of, the latter was nevertheless thrust back by the creation and authority of the New Testament, and this consequently revived the uncertain position in which the sacred book was henceforth to remain. Here also, as in every other case, the development in the Church ends with the complexus oppositorum, which nowhere allows all the conclusions to be drawn, but offers the great advantage of removing every perplexity up to a certain point. The early-Catholic Fathers adopted from Justin the distinction between the Decalogue, as the moral law of nature, and the ceremonial law; whilst the oldest theologians (the Gnostics) and the New Testament suggested to them the thought of the (relative) novelty of Christianity and therefore also of the New Testament. Like Marcion they acknowledged the literal sense of the ceremonial law and God’s covenant with the Jews; and they sought to sum up and harmonise all these features in the thought of an economy of salvation and of a history of salvation. This economy and history of salvation which contained the conception of a divine accommodation and pedagogy, and which accordingly distinguished between constituent parts of different degrees of value (in the Old Testament also), is the great result presented in the main work of Irenæus and accepted by Tertullian. It is to exist beside the proof from prophecy without modifying it;635635Where Christians needed the proof from prophecy or indulged in a devotional application of the Old Testament, everything indeed remained as before, and every Old Testament passage was taken for a Christian one, as has remained the case even to the present day. and thus appears as something intermediate 305between the Valentinian conception that destroyed the unity of origin of the Old Testament and the old idea which neither acknowledged various constituents in the book nor recognised the peculiarities of Christianity. We are therefore justified in regarding this history of salvation approved by the Church, as well as the theological propositions of Irenæus and Tertullian generally, as a Gnosis “toned down” and reconciled with Monotheism. This is shown too in the faint gleam of a historical view that still shines forth from this “history of salvation” as a remnant of that bright light which may be recognised in the Gnostic conception of the Old Testament.636636With the chiliastic view of history this newly acquired theory has nothing in common. Still, it is a striking advance that Irenæus has made beyond Justin and especially beyond Barnabas. No doubt it is mythological history that appears in this history of salvation and the recapitulating story of Jesus with its saving facts that is associated with it; and it is a view that is not even logically worked out, but ever and anon crossed by the proof from prophecy; yet for all that it is development and history.
The fundamental features of Irenæus’ conception are as follow: The Mosaic law and the New Testament dispensation of grace both emanated from one and the same God, and were granted for the salvation of the human race in a form appropriate to the times.637637Iren. III. 12. 11. The two are in part different; but the difference must be conceived as due to causes638638See III. 12. 12. that do not affect the unity of the author and of the main points.639639No commutatio agnitionis takes place, says Irenæus, but only an increased gift (IV. 11. 3); for the knowledge of God the Creator is “principium evangelii.” (III. 11. 7). We must make the nature of God and the nature of man our point of departure. God is always the same, man is ever advancing towards God; God is always the giver, man always the receiver;640640See IV. 11. 2 and other passages, e.g., IV. 20. 7: IV. 26. 1: IV. 37. 7: IV. 38. 1-4. 306God leads us ever to the highest goal; man, however, is not God from the beginning, but is destined to incorruptibility, which he is to attain step by step, advancing from the childhood stage to perfection (see above, p. 267 f.). This progress, conditioned by the nature and destination of man, is, however, dependent on the revelation of God by his Son, culminating in the incarnation of the latter and closing with the subsequent bestowal of the Spirit on the human race. In Irenæus therefore the place of the many different revelation-hypostases of the Valentinians is occupied by the one God, who stoops to the level of developing humanity, accommodates himself to it, guides it, and bestows on it increasing revelations of grace.641641Several covenants I. 10. 3; four covenants (Adam, Noah, Moses, Christ) III. 11. 8; the two Testaments (Law and New Covenant) are very frequently mentioned. The fundamental knowledge of God and the moral law of nature, i.e., natural morality, were already revealed to man and placed in his heart642642This is very frequently mentioned; see e.g., IV. 13. 1: “Et quia dominus naturalia legis, per quæ homo iustificatur, quæ etiam ante legisdationem custodiebant qui fide iustificabantur et placebant deo non dissolvit etc.” IV. 15. 1. by the creator. He who preserves these, as for example the patriarchs did, is justified. (In this case Irenæus leaves Adam’s sin entirely out of sight). But it was God’s will to bring men into a higher union with himself; wherefore his Son descended to men from the beginning and accustomed himself to dwell among them. The patriarchs loved God and refrained from injustice towards their neighbours; hence it was not necessary that they should be exhorted with the strict letter of the law, since they had the righteousness of the law in themselves.643643Irenæus, as a rule, views the patriarchs as perfect saints; see III. 11. 8: “Verbum dei illis quidem qui ante Moysem fuerunt patriarchis secundum divinitatem et gloriam colloquebatur”, and especially IV. 16. 3. As to the Son’s having descended from the beginning and having thus appeared to the patriarchs also, see IV. 6. 7. Not merely Abraham but all the other exponents of revelation knew both the Father and the Son. Nevertheless Christ was also obliged to descend to the lower world to the righteous, the prophets, and the patriarchs, in order to bring them forgiveness of sins (IV. 27. 2). But, as far as the great majority of men are concerned, they wandered away from God and fell into the sorriest condition. From this moment Irenæus, keeping strictly to the Old Testament, only concerns himself with the Jewish people. These 307are to him the representatives of humanity. It is only at this period that the training of the human race is given to them; but it is really the Jewish nation that he keeps in view, and through this he differs very decidedly from such as Barnabas.644644On the contrary he agrees with the teachings of a presbyter, whom he frequently quotes in the 4th Book. To Irenæus the heathen are simply idolaters who have even forgotten the law written in the heart; wherefore the Jews stand much higher, for they only lacked the agnitio filii. See III. 5. 3: III. 10. 3: III. 12. 7 IV. 23, 24. Yet there is still a great want of clearness here. Irenæus cannot get rid of the following contradictions. The pre-Christian righteous know the Son and do not know him; they require the appearance of the Son and do not require it; and the agnitio filii seems sometimes a new, and in fact the decisive, veritas, and sometimes that involved in the knowledge of God the Creator. When righteousness and love to God died out in Egypt, God led his people forth so that man might again become a disciple and imitator of God. He gave him the written law (the Decalogue), which contains nothing else than the moral law of nature that had fallen into oblivion.645645 Irenæus IV. 16. 3. See IV. 15. 1: “Decalogum si quis non fecerit, non habet salutem”. But when they made to themselves a golden calf and chose to be slaves rather than free men, then the Word, through the instrumentality of Moses, gave to them, as a particular addition, the commandments of slavery (the ceremonial law) in a form suitable for their training. These were bodily commandments of bondage which did not separate them from God, but held them in the yoke. The ceremonial law was thus a pedagogic means of preserving the people from idolatry; but it was at the same time a type of the future. Each constituent of the ceremonial law has this double signification, and both of these meanings originate with God, i.e., with Christ; for “how is Christ the end of the law, if he be not the beginning of it?” (“quomodo finis legis Christus, si non et initium eius esset”) IV. 12. 4. Everything in the law is therefore holy, and moreover we are only entitled to blame such portions of the history of the Jewish nation as Holy Scripture itself condemns. This nation was obliged to circumcise itself, keep Sabbaths, offer up sacrifices, and do whatever is related of it, so far as its action is not censured. All this belonged to the state of bondage in which men had a covenant with God and in which they also possessed 308the right faith in the one God and were taught before hand to follow his Son (IV. 12, 5; “lex prædocuit hominem sequi oportere Christum”). In addition to this, Christ continually manifested himself to the people in the prophets, through whom also he indicated the future and prepared men for his appearance. In the prophets the Son of God accustomed men to be instruments of the Spirit of God and to have fellowship with the Father in them; and in them he habituated himself to enter bodily into humanity.646646As the Son has manifested the Father from of old, so also the law, and indeed even the ceremonial law, is to be traced back to him. See IV. 6. 7: IV. 12. 4: IV. 14. 2: “his qui inquieti erant in eremo dans aptissimam legem . . . per omnes transiens verbum omni conditioni congruentem et aptam legem conscribens”. IV. 4. 2. The law is a law of bondage; it was just in that capacity that it was necessary; see IV. 4. 1: IV. 9. 1: IV. 13. 2, 4: IV. 14. 3: IV. 15: IV. 16: IV. 32: IV. 36. A part of the commandments are concessions on account of hardness of heart (IV. 15. 2). But Irenæus still distinguishes very decidedly between the “people” and the prophets. This is a survival of the old view. The prophets he said knew very well of the coming of the Son of God and the granting of a new covenant (IV. 9. 3: IV. 20. 4, 5: IV. 33. 10); they understood what was typified by the ceremonial law, and to them accordingly the law had only a typical signification. Moreover, Christ himself came to them ever and anon through the prophetic spirit. The preparation for the new covenant is therefore found in the prophets and in the typical character of the old. Abraham has this peculiarity, that both Testaments were prefigured in him: the Testament of faith, because he was justified before his circumcision, and the Testament of the law. The latter occupied “the middle times”, and therefore come in between (IV. 25. 1). This is a Pauline thought, though otherwise indeed there is not much in Irenæus to remind us of Paul, because he used the moral categories, growth and training, instead of the religious ones, sin and grace. Hereupon began the last stage, in which men, being now sufficiently trained, were to receive the “testamentum libertatis” and be adopted as Sons of God. By the union of the Son of God with the flesh the agnitio filii first became possible to all; that is the fundamental novelty. The next problem was to restore the law of freedom. Here a threefold process was necessary. In the first place the Law of Moses, the Decalogue, had been disfigured and blunted by the “traditio seniorum”. First of all then the pure moral law had to be restored; secondly, it was now necessary to extend and fulfil it by expressly searching out the inclinations of the heart in all cases, thus unveiling the law in its whole severity; and lastly the particularia legis, i.e., the law of bondage, had to be abolished. But in the latter 309connection Christ and the Apostles themselves avoided every transgression of the ceremonial law, in order to prove that this also had a divine origin. The non-observance of this law was first permitted to the Gentile Christians, Thus, no doubt, Christ himself is the end of the law, but only in so far as he has abolished the law of bondage and restored the moral law in its whole purity and severity, and given us himself.
The question as to the difference between the New Testament and the Old is therefore answered by Irenæus in the following manner. It consists (1) in the agnitio filii and consequent transformation of the slaves into children of God; and (2) in the restoration of the law, which is a law of freedom just because it excludes bodily commandments, and with stricter interpretation lays the whole stress on the inclinations of the heart.647647The law, i.e., the ceremonial law, reaches down to John, IV. 4. 2. The New Testament is a law of freedom, because through it we are adopted as sons of God, III. 5. 3: III. 10. 5: III. 12. 5: III. 12. 14: III. 15. 3: IV. 9. 1, 2: IV. 1. 1: IV. 13. 2, 4: IV. 15. 1, 2: IV. 16. 5: IV. 18: IV. 32: IV. 34. 1: IV. 36. 2 Christ did not abolish the naturalia legis, the Decalogue, but extended and fulfilled them; here the old Gentile-Christian moral conception based on the Sermon on the Mount, prevails. Accordingly Irenæus now shows that in the case of the children of freedom the situation has become much more serious, and that the judgments are now much more threatening. Finally, he proves that the fulfilling, extending, and sharpening of the law form a contrast to the blunting of the natural moral law by the Pharisees and elders; see IV. 12. 1 ff.: “Austero dei præcepto miscent seniores aquatam traditionem”. IV. 13. 1. f.: “Christus naturalia legis (which are summed up in the commandment of love) extendit et implevit . . . plenitudo et extensio . . . necesse fuit, auferri quidem vincula servitutis, superextendi vero decreta libertatis”. That is proved in the next passage from the Sermon on the Mount: we must not only refrain from evil works, but also from evil desire. IV. 16. 5: “Hæc ergo, quæ in servitutem et in signum data sunt illis, circumscripsit novo libertatis testamento. Quæ autem naturalia et liberalia et communia omnium, auxit et dilatavit, sine invidia largiter donans hominibus per adoptionem, patrem scire deum . . . auxit autem etiam timorem: filios enim plus timere oportet quam servos”. IV. 27. 2. The new situation is a more serious one; the Old Testament believers have the death of Christ as an antidote for their sins, “propter eos vero, qui nunc peccant, Christus non iam morietur”. IV. 28. 1 f.: under the old covenant God punished “typice et temporaliter et mediocrius”, under the new, on the contrary, “vere et semper et austerius” . . . as under the new covenant “fides aucta est”, so also it is true that “diligentia conversationis adaucta est”. The imperfections of the law, the “particularia legis”, the law of bondage have been abolished by Christ, see specially IV. 16, 17, for the types are now fulfilled; but Christ and the Apostles did not transgress the law; freedom was first granted to the Gentile Christians (III. 12) and circumcision and foreskin united (III. 5. 3). But Irenæus also proved how little the old and new covenants contradict each other by showing that the latter also contains concessions that have been granted to the frailty of man; see IV. 15. 2 (1 Cor. VII.). But in 310these two respects he finds a real addition, and hence, in his opinion, the Apostles stand higher than the prophets. He proves this higher position of the Apostles by a surprising interpretation of 1 Cor. XII. 28, conceiving the prophets named in that passage to be those of the Old Testament.648648See III. 11. 4. There too we find it argued that John the Baptist was not merely a prophet, but also an Apostle. He therefore views the two Testaments as of the same nature, but “greater is the legislation which confers liberty than that which brings bondage” (“maior est legisdatio quæ in libertatem, quam quæ data est in servitutem”). Through the two covenants the accomplishment of salvation was to be hastened “for there is one salvation and one God; but the precepts that form man are numerous, and the steps that lead man to God are not a few; (“una est enim salus et unus deus; quæ autem formant hominem, præcepta multa et non pauci gradus, qui adducunt hominem ad deum”). A worldly king can increase his benefits to his subjects; and should it not also be lawful for God, though he is always the same, to honour continually with greater gifts those who are well pleasing to him? (IV. 9. 3). Irenæus makes no direct statement as to the further importance which the Jewish people have, and in any case regards them as of no consequence after the appearance of the covenant of freedom. Nor does this nation appear any further even in the chiliastic train of thought. It furnishes the Antichrist and its holy city becomes the capital of Christ’s earthly kingdom; but the nation itself, which, according to this theory, had represented all mankind from Moses to Christ, just as if all men had been Jews, now entirely disappears.649649From Irenæus’ statement in IV. 4 about the significance of the city of Jerusalem we can infer what he thought of the Jewish nation. Jerusalem is to him the vine-branch on which the fruit has grown; the latter having reached maturity, the branch is cut off and has no further importance.
This conception, in spite of its want of stringency, made an immense impression, and has continued to prevail down to the present time. It has, however, been modified by a combination 311with the Augustinian doctrine of sin and grace. It was soon reckoned as Paul’s conception, to which in fact it has a distant relationship. Tertullian had already adopted it in its essential features, amplified it in some points, and, in accordance with his Montanist ideas, enriched it by adding a fourth stage (ab initio — Moses-Christ — Paraclete). But this addition was not accepted by the Church.650650 No special treatment of Tertullian is required here, as he only differs from Irenæus in the additions he invented as a Montanist. Yet this is also prefigured in Irenæus’ view that the concessions of the Apostles had rendered the execution of the stern new law more easy. A few passages may be quoted here. De orat. 1: Quidquid retro fuerat, aut demutatum est (per Christum), ut circumcisio, aut suppletum ut reliqua lex, aut impletum ut prophetia, aut perfectum ut fides ipsa. Omnia de carnalibus in spiritalia renovavit nova dei gratia superducto evangelio, expunctore totius retro vetustatis.” (This differentiation strikingly reminds us of the letter of Ptolemy to Flora. Ptolemy distinguishes those parts of the law that originate with God, Moses, and the elders. As far as the divine law is concerned, he again distinguishes what Christ had to complete, what he had to supersede and what he had to spiritualise, that is, perficere, solvere, demutare). In the regula fidei (de præscr. 13): “Christus prædicavit novam legem et novam promissionem regni cœlorum”; see the discussions in adv. Marc. II., III., and adv. Iud.; de pat. 6: “amplianda adimplendaque lex.” Scorp. 3, 8, 9; ad uxor. 2; de monog. 7: “Et quoniam quidam interdum nihil sibi dicunt esse cum lege, quam Christus non dissolvit, sed adimplevit, interdum quæ volunt legis arripiunt (he himself did that continually), plane et nos sic dicimus legem, ut onera quidem eius, secundum sententiam apostolorum, quæ nec patres sustinere valuerunt, concesserint, quæ vero ad iustitiam spectant, non tantum reservata permaneant, verum et ampliata.” That the new law of the new covenant is the moral law of nature in a stricter form, and that the concessions of the Apostle Paul cease in the age of the Paraclete, is a view we find still more strongly emphasised in the Montanist writings than in Irenæus. In ad uxor. 3 Tertullian had already said: “Quod permittitur, bonum non est,” and this proposition is the theme of many arguments in the Montanist writings. But the intention of finding a basis for the laws of the Paraclete, by showing that they existed in some fashion even in earlier times, involved Tertullian in many contradictions. It is evident from his writings that Montanists and Catholics in Carthage alternately reproached each other with judaising tendencies and an apostasy to heathen discipline and worship. Tertullian, in his enthusiasm for Christianity, came into conflict with all the authorities which he himself had set up. In the questions as to the relationship of the Old Testament to the New, of Christ to the Apostles, of the Apostles to each other, of the Paraclete to Christ and the Apostles, he was also of necessity involved in the greatest contradictions. This was the case not only because he went more into details than Irenæus; but, above all, because the chains into which he had thrown his Christianity were felt to be such by himself. This theologian had no greater opponent than himself, and nowhere perhaps is this so plain as in his attitude to the two Testaments. Here, in every question of detail, Tertullian really repudiated the proposition from which he starts. In reference to one point, namely, that the Law and the prophets extend down to John, see Nöldechen’s article in the Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Theologie, 1885, p. 333 f. On the one hand, in order to support certain trains of thought, Tertullian required the proposition that prophecy extended down to John (see also the Muratorian Fragment: completus numerus prophetarum”, Sibyll. I. 386: καὶ τότε δὴ παῦσις ἔσται μετέπειτα προφητῶν, scil. after Christ), and on the other, as a Montanist, he was obliged to assert the continued existence of prophecy. In like manner he sometimes ascribed to the Apostles a unique possession of the Holy Spirit, and at other times, adhering to a primitive Christian idea, he denied this thesis. Cf. also Barth “Tertullian’s Auffassung des Apostels Paulus und seines Verhältnisses zu den Uraposteln” (Jahrbuch für protestantische Theologie, Vol. III. p. 706 ff.). Tertullian strove to reconcile the principles of early Christianity with the authority of ecclesiastical tradition and philosophical apologetics. Separated from the general body of the Church, and making ever increasing sacrifices for the early-Christian enthusiasm, as he understood it, he wasted himself in the solution of this insoluble problem.
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