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THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN JUSTIN AND IRENÆUS
If we are to do justice to the teaching of Irenæus as to the Holy Spirit, it is imperative that we should pay some attention first of all to the view of Justin Martyr, whose First and Second Apologies, as well as the Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, were in his hands, and indeed must have been very familiar to him.
1. The Holy Spirit in relation to Prophecy. Justin first mentions the Holy Spirit under the designation of “the prophetic Spirit” (Ap. 1, 6); and this designation frequently recurs. It is noteworthy that prophecy itself is first introduced in answer to the supposed objection, why should not Christ have been a mere man, who by magic performed the miracles attributed to him and so was considered a Son of God? No Christian writer of that day would have been prepared to answer this by denying the power of magic. Justin’s answer is on quite a different line. Many generations before the coming of Christ the main events of His life on earth, including the wonders of healing which He should perform, had been foretold by the Jewish prophets. The verification of these prophecies in the story contained in the Gospels was the surest testimony to the truth of what Christians claimed for Christ.
The expression “the prophetic Spirit,” occurs 25frequently both in the First Apology and in the Dialogue with Trypho the Jew. Sometimes Justin says “the holy prophetic Spirit,” and once (Ap. 32) “the divine holy prophetic Spirit.” Now “the prophetic Spirit,” means the Spirit of the prophets. So Athenagoras, who follows Justin, interpreting and sometimes correcting him, says that it is the Spirit “which works in those who make prophetic utterances,” and he adds that it is “an effluence of God,” as the ray is of the sun.1010Suppl. 10. The prophets in question are the Jewish prophets: and Justin’s insistence on “the prophetic Spirit” is understood when we remember the attempt that was then being made to distinguish the God of the Old Testament (“the Just God”) from the God of the New Testament (“the Good God”). This was to cut off Christianity from the past, and to destroy its historical background and its function as the fulfillment of the age-long purpose of God. There was, however, a further reason for emphasizing “the prophetic Spirit,” a reason of even greater importance from the standpoint of Christian evidence. The correspondence between the Gospel facts and the prophetic utterances proved two things: namely, that the claim of Jesus to be the Christ was valid, and that the Spirit of the prophets was of God.
We do not in our apologetic today make this use of the exact correspondence of Old Testament texts with facts recorded in the Gospels. But the deeper meaning of the argument—deeper than those who used it knew—the preparation in Jewish 26history for the coming of the Christ, and the continuity of the self-revelation of God—that is of the essence of the Christian argument still. And we must not forget how great a debt we owe to those who, with a narrow and tiresome literalness of exposition, claimed the Old Testament as the sacred book of the early Christian Church. “Who spake by the prophets” represents the primary conception of the Holy Spirit in the writers of the second century: just as the great sentence which precedes it in the Creed—“Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified”—goes beyond what they were able to say, and represents the final pronouncement of the Church after two more centuries of uncertainty and debate.
2. The Holy Spirit in relation to the Father and the Son. The passage above alluded to as the first in which Justin mentions the Holy Spirit will show us how great a distance the Church had to travel before the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity could find adequate expression. Justin has been saying to his Roman readers: You call us atheists and put us to death, being urged thereto by the demons who have contrived to get themselves called gods. Socrates long ago by true Reason (λόγος) exposed them, and they got him slain, just as they get us slain today. For today not only Greeks like Socrates, but mere barbarians have cast them off, being enlightened by the Reason Himself, who has taken form and become man and is called Jesus Christ. Yes, we are atheists—in respect of your pagan gods: but not in respect of the most true God, the Father of justice and temperance and the 27other virtues. “But”—and here we must quote the exact words—“Him, and the Son who came from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels that attend Him and are made like unto Him, and the prophetic Spirit, we worship and adore, honoring them with reason and with truth.”1111Ἀλλ᾽ ἐκεῖνόν τε, καὶ τὸν παρ᾽ αὐτοῦ υἱὸν ἐλθὸντα καὶ διδάξαντα ἡμᾶς ταῦτα, καὶ τὸν τῶν ἄλλων ἑπομένων καὶ ἐξομοιουμένων ἀγαθῶν ἀγγέλων στρατόν, πνεῦμά τε τὸ προφητικὸν σεβόμεθα καὶ προσκυνοῦμεν, λόγῳ καὶ ἀληθείᾳ τιμῶντες, κ.τ.λ. (Just. M. Ap. I, 6). It would not be fair to say that here Justin ranks the Holy Spirit after the angels: other passages, to be quoted later, show that this is not his meaning. It is rather that the angels are brought into prominence as the escort of the Son, to whom Justin again and again insists on applying the title “Angel” in the sense of divine messenger,1212E. g. Ap. 1, 63: Ὁ λόγος δὲ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ, ὡς προέφημεν· καὶ ἄγγελος δὲ καλεῖται καὶ ἀπόστολος· αὐτὸς γὰρ ἀπαγγέλλει κ.τ.λ.; Dial. 93: (He who fulfils the First and Great Commandment) οὐδένα ἄλλον τιμήσει θεόν· καὶ ἄγγελον ἐκεῖνον ἂν τιμήσει, θεοῦ βουλομένου, τὸν ἀγαπώμενον ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ τοῦ κυρίου καὶ θεοῦ. especially when he is explaining various passages in Genesis as manifestations of the divine Son to the patriarchs. Justin’s immediate purpose was to show what a wealth of spiritual powers Christianity could set out in contrast to the “many gods”—the demons—of the heathen world: how absurd therefore it was to call Christians atheists. The same argument is handled thirty years later by Athenagoras with Justin’s language in mind, but with more caution. Father, Son and Spirit he mentions in due order: but he adds: Not that our theology stops here, for it includes a multitude of angels and ministrants to whom the heavenly 28bodies, the heavens themselves, and our world have been entrusted by the Creator.1313Καὶ οὐδ᾽ ἐπὶ τούτοις τὸ θεολογικὸν ἡμῶν ἵσταται μέρος, ἀλλὰ καὶ πλῆθος ἀγγέλων καὶ λειτουργῶν φαμεν, οὓς ὁ ποιητὴς καὶ δημιουργὸς κόσμου θεὸς διὰ τοῦ παῤ αὐτοῦ λόγου διένειμε καὶ διέταξεν περί τε τὰ ατοιχεῖα εἶναι καὶ τοὺς οὐρανοὺς καὶ τὸν κόσμον καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν τούτων εὐταξίαν (Athenag. Supplic. 10). He has retained Justin’s argument, but he has carefully avoided the imperfections of its expression.
A little later Justin returns to the charge of atheism, and, having described the kind of worship which Christians offer to the Creator of the universe, he goes on to speak of Him who has taught them this, even Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and whom they had learned to know as the Son of the true God; “having Him in the second place, and the prophetic Spirit in the third rank.”1414Ap. 1, 13: (υἱὸν θεοῦ) ἐν δευτἑρα χώρα ἔχοντες πνεῦμά τε προφητικὸν ἐν τρίτῃ τάξει. Such language would have been challenged in later times as unduly subordinating the Son to the Father and the Holy Spirit to the Son; but it is of value as correcting the impression which might have been derived from the earlier passage in which the Holy Spirit was mentioned after the angelic host.
Towards the end of the Apology Justin touches again on this order of the three divine Powers. He finds it in Plato, and gives it as one of several proofs that Plato had read but not understood Moses. Plato had read of the Brazen Serpent which Moses set up “on a sign” (ἐν σημείῳ), but had not understood that the sign was the cross: he had taken it as the form of the Greek letter Χ, a χίασμα (i. e. “St. Andrew’s cross,” or a saltire, as 29we say in heraldry). Moreover he had read in the first chapter of Genesis that the Spirit of God moved upon the waters. Accordingly, says Justin, “he gives the second place to the Word that is from God, whom he declared to have been extended saltire-wise (κεχιάσθαι) in the universe; and the third to the Spirit who was said to move on the water.”1515Ap. 1, 60. Athenagoras (Suppl. 23) treats the matter more elaborately as usual. We shall find that Irenæus has been influenced by Justin’s words about the χίασμα: see below, c. 34.
In the closing chapters of his First Apology Justin describes, in language such as his heathen readers might understand, the Christian sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. He gives a paraphrase only of the baptismal formula, perhaps with a view to lucidity, but possibly also through unwillingness to give the actual words.1616On the other hand he shows no unwillingness to give the Words of Institution in describing the Last Supper. But there is no ground for supposing that he attached to them a consecrating effect, nor indeed is it known whether in his day they formed a part of the Eucharistic Prayer. He does not even use the terms “baptism” and “baptize,” but only speaks of “making the washing” or “bath.” “For in the name of the Father of all and Lord God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then make the washing in the water.”1717 Ἐπ᾽ ὀνόματος γὰρ τοῦ πατρὸς τῶν ὅλων καὶ δεσπότου θεοῦ, καὶ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἠμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ πνεύματος ἁγίου, τὸ ἐν τῷ ὕδατι τότε λουτρόν ποιοῦνται (Ap. 1, 61). He uses similar words a little lower down, with some additions: “There is named on him the name of the Father of all, etc. . . . And in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Spirit, who by 30the prophets announced beforehand all the things concerning Jesus.”1818καὶ ἐπ᾽ ὀνόματος ἁγίου, ὃ διὰ τῶν προφητῶν προεκήρυξε τὰ κατὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν πάντα (ibid.). This last addition is of special interest in view of the ultimate inclusion of “Who spake by the prophets” in the Creed.
In describing the Eucharist which followed after Baptism Justin speaks first of the people’s prayers: “We make prayers in common, for ourselves, for the person baptized (lit. enlightened), and for all men everywhere.” These “common prayers” are followed by the kiss of peace. Then he who presides over the brethren (Justin avoids any technical term such as “bishop”) receives the Bread and the Cup, and “he sends up praise and glory to the Father of all through the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and makes thanksgiving (“eucharist”) for being accounted worthy of these gifts from Him;” and this he does “at some length.” “When he has completed the prayers and the thanksgiving, all the people present respond saying Amen.”1919Ap. 1, 65.
We note that the Holy Spirit is only mentioned in reference to the offering of praise to the Father “through the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit.” When he goes on to describe the character of “this food, which we call Eucharist,” there is no reference to the Holy Spirit, but only to the Word of God so far are we from that Invocation of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of consecration which came into the liturgies two hundred years later.
Presently Justin says: “And over all our food 31we bless the Maker of all things through His Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.”2020Ap. 1, 67. Once again we observe that praise is directed to the Father through the Son and Holy Spirit.
3. The Holy Spirit and the Incarnation of the Word. We are so familiar with the part assigned in our Creeds to the Holy Spirit in connection with our Lord’s birth, that the passage now to be quoted from Justin may at first sight seem very surprising. It may be well to approach it by citing some words from the learned and orthodox Waterland, who in 1734, in his book on The Trinity (c. vi: Works, III, 571: Oxford, 1843), wrote as follows in reference to a passage of St Irenæus: “I may remark by the way, that Irenæus here (V, c. 1) seems to understand Spirit of God, and Holy Spirit before, of the second Person, of the Logos himself coming down upon the Virgin. So the earliest Fathers commonly do, interpreting Luke i. 35, to that sense: which I the rather note, because so their asserting Christ’s birth of a virgin, and his preexisting as Spirit of God, and God, amounted to the same thing.” Waterland appends in a note a catena of eight passages, the texts of which he cites in full. Our passage from Justin is among them.
Justin mentions the subject in his First Apology when he is interpreting Jacob’s Blessing in Gen. xlix. The passage is given in full above on p. 7. “The blood of the grape,” he says, “signifies that He who is to appear has blood indeed, but not of human seed, but of divine power. Now the first power after the Father of all and Lord God 32. . . is the Word.”2121Ap. 1, 32. Later he says: “The power of God came upon the Virgin and overshadowed her.” Then he quotes the angel’s message in a composite form: “Behold, thou shall conceive in the womb, of (the) Holy Spirit, and shalt bear a son, and he shall be called Son of the Most High,” etc. (Luke i. 31, Matt. i. 20): These things, he adds, have been taught us by those who recorded them; and we believe them because “the prophetic Spirit” declared through Isaiah that so it should be. Then he says: “But the Spirit and the Power that is from God, it is not allowable to regard as any other than the Word (the Logos), who also is the first-begotten unto God . . . It was this (Spirit) that came upon the Virgin and overshadowed her,” etc.2222 Τὸ πνεῦμα οὖν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν τὴν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ οὐδὲν ἄλλο νοῆσαι θέμις ἢ τὸν λόγον, ὃς καὶ πρωτότοκος τῷ θεῷ ἐστι . . . καὶ τοῦτο ἐλθὸν ἐπὶ τὴν παρθένον καὶ ἐπισκιάσαν οὐ διὰ συνουσίας ἀλλὰ διὰ δυνάμεως ἐγκύμονα κατέστησε (Ap. 1, 33): cf. Dial. 100 ad fin.
This interpretation of the words “Holy Spirit” in Matt. i 20 and Luke i. 35 is all the more striking because it follows immediately upon the reference to the “prophetic Spirit,” whose function it was to announce the birth from the Virgin beforehand. No further comment is necessary here on this passage; but it may be worth while to note that the belief that the Word was Himself the agent of His own Incarnation finds its natural place side by side with the belief that it is through His direct agency, and not through that of the Holy Spirit, that the bread and wine of the Eucharist are made the Body and Blood of the Incarnate Word: see 33the well-known passage in Ap. 1, 66, where however Justin’s intricate constructions make the exact meaning of his words difficult to determine.
While “the prophetic Spirit” is thus expressly excluded from, the part in the mystery of the Incarnation which a later interpretation of the words of the Gospels assigned to Him, it is to be noted that Justin makes much of His descent upon Christ at the Baptism. In Dial. 87 the Jew Trypho is made to quote Isa. xi. 2–3: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,” etc. Conceding that it is Christ on whom the Spirit is to rest in His sevenfold power, Trypho proceeds to ask how, if Christ be God, He should be in need of this gift. Justin’s answer is that He is in no such need that, when the prophet says that the Spirit shall “rest” upon Him, he means that He will go no further, that He will have reached a termination, so far as His prophetic work among the Jewish people is concerned. This, he says, you yourselves see to be true: you have had no prophet since. The gifts enumerated were divided among your prophets, some had one, some had another. But they all met on Christ. “When He was come, the Spirit rested, paused” (ἀνεπαύσατο οὖν, τουτέστιν ἐπαύσατο, ἐλθόντος ἐκείνου).2323It is interesting to compare with this the passage quoted from the Gospel according to the Hebrews by St Jerome in his Commentary on Isaiah (lib. iv. cap. 12): “Now it came to pass, when the Lord had come up from the water, the whole fount of the Holy Spirit came down and rested upon him, and said to him: My Son, in all the prophets was I waiting for thee, that thou mightest come and I might rest in thee. For thou art my rest; thou art my Son, (my) first-born, which reignest for ever.” A new 34era then began, in which Christ “having received gifts,” as was prophesied, “gives them, from the grace of the power of that Spirit, to those who believe on Him, according as He knows each to be worthy.” Today “you can see among us both women and men who have gifts of grace (χαρίσίματα) from the Spirit of God” (c. 88). In an earlier chapter he had said (c. 82: cf. also c. 39): “Among us at the present time there are gifts of prophecy (prophetic charismata); “and he had just before referred to the prophecies of St John’s Apocalypse.
While Justin thus recognizes the existence of special gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Church, he does not expressly connect Him with the ordinary graces of the Christian life. Even when he is dealing with the interpretation of the prophecies inspired by the Holy Spirit, he does not say, as later writers do, that we need the enlightenment of the same Holy Spirit to explain their meaning: he says, again and again, that we need “the grace of God” for this purpose. And just as he stops short of saying that this “grace” is, or proceeds from, the Holy Spirit, so also he stops short of saying that “the living water” given by Christ, the true Rock, is the Holy Spirit (Dial. 114).
We pass now from Justin’s teaching about the Holy Spirit to that of Irenæus in the Demonstration, to which we shall add illustrations taken from his larger work Against Heresies. It will be convenient at first at any rate to consider it under the same headings as before.
1. The Holy Spirit in relation to Prophecy. 35Justin’s favorite term “the prophetic Spirit” does not occur in the Demonstration: but the work of the Holy Spirit in the ancient prophets is frequently mentioned. Thus for Moses in Genesis we have in c. 24: “God bare witness unto [Abraham] by the Holy Spirit, saying in the Scripture: And Abraham believed God,” etc. So in c. 26, with regard to the Tables written with the finger of God, we have the curious explanation: “Now the finger of God is that which is stretched forth from the Father in the Holy Spirit.” We shall see presently that Irenæus elsewhere regards the Holy Spirit as one of the hands of God in the work of creation. Here no doubt he is influenced by the words of our Lord in St Luke, “If I by the finger of God cast out devils,” where in St Matthew’s Gospel the expression is changed to “the Spirit of God.”2424See note on p. 53. Then, again, in c. 30 we are told more generally that the prophets were “sent by God through the Holy Spirit.”
A fuller treatment is found in several passages. Thus in c. 49 we read: “For it is not a man who speaks the prophecies; but the Spirit of God, assimilating and likening Himself to the persons represented, speaks in the prophets and utters the words sometimes from Christ and sometimes from the Father.” The thought is found in Justin (Ap. 1, 36 ff.), where it is fully dealt with and illustrated by examples.
Again, in c. 67: “He took our infirmities,” etc. “that is to say, He shall take, etc. For there are passages in which the Spirit of God through the 36prophets recounts things that are to be as having taken place . . . and the Spirit, regarding and seeing the time in which the issues of the prophecy are fulfilled, utters the words (accordingly).” This again is found in Justin (Dial. 114).
In his description of the third point of the Rule of Faith (c. 6) he begins with the prophetic function: “The Holy Spirit, through whom the prophets prophesied, and the fathers learned the things of God, and the righteous were led forth into the way of righteousness; and who in the end of the times was poured out in a new way upon mankind in all the earth, renewing man unto God.” Here we see the wider conception of the Spirit’s work, which marks the advance upon Justin to which we shall refer presently.
So far all has been plain: but, in view of the fact that “the Word of God” is so frequently mentioned in Holy Scripture as coming to the prophets, it was inevitable that difficulty should be felt in distinguishing the functions of the Word and the Spirit in this connection. In c. 5 we read, “Now the Spirit shows forth the Word, and therefore the prophets announced the Son of God; and the Word utters the Spirit, and therefore is Himself the announcer of the prophets.” A passage in c. 73 illustrates this yet further, “David said not this of himself . . . but the Spirit of Christ, who (spake) also in other prophets concerning Him, says here by David: I laid me down and slept: I awoke, for the Lord received me.”
A few illustrations may be appended from the five books of the great treatise Against Heresies, 37II, xli. 1: Some Scriptures are too hard for us: “but we know that the Scriptures are perfect, seeing that they are spoken by the Word of God and His Spirit; whereas we are minores et novissimi a verbo dei et spiritu ejus.” We are at a great remove from the Word and the Spirit who inspired them. He adds in striking words (§ 3) that “the Scriptures are spiritual: some things we can interpret, others are left with God, and that not only in this world but in that which is to come; that God may for ever be teacher, and man for ever a learner.”
Next we may note that Irenæus extends the work of the Holy Spirit to the evangelists: “The Holy Spirit says by Matthew: Now the birth of Christ was on this wise” (III, xvii. 1). And a curious collocation is found in III, vi. 1: “Neither the Lord nor the Holy Spirit nor the apostles would have definitely called any God, unless He were truly God; nor any Lord save the Ruler of all, the Father, and His Son who received rule from Him.” Here perhaps the Holy Spirit is referred to for the Old Testament, the Lord and the apostles for the New. In III, vii. 2, however, he recognizes the “impetus” of the Spirit in St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, especially in his rapid questions and answers: “as though man asked the question, and the Spirit gave the answer.”
Enough has been said to show that Irenæus goes beyond Justin’s expressions, and widens the function of the Holy Spirit in relation to Scripture. But before we leave the topic we may note that 38the designation “prophetic Spirit” does occur in Irenæus, only with another or a modified connotation. In III, xi. 12 we are told that certain heretics, “in order to frustrate the gift of the Spirit,” which in the last days has been poured forth, reject St John’s Gospel with its account of the Paraclete: “they reject at once the Gospel and the prophetic Spirit”2525Cf. also III, xi. 11.; and, as he says again, “they reject from the Church the grace of prophecy.” So also in IV, xxxiv. 6: “Some of the prophets beheld the prophetic Spirit and His operations in all manner of charismata” or gifts of grace. The context shows that it is the working of the Spirit in the Christian Church which was foreseen by some of the prophets. We may compare two passages from the end of the Demonstration (cc. 99 f.). “Others receive not the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and cast away from themselves the prophetic grace, watered whereby man bears the fruit of life unto God:” and again: “Or else they receive not the Spirit, that is, they reject prophecy.”
2. The Holy Spirit in relation to the Father and the Son. Under this heading we began by considering Justin’s remarkable words, in which he declares that “we worship and adore the Father, and the Son who came from Him and taught us these things, and the host of the other good angels that attend Him and are made like unto Him, and the prophetic Spirit.” Hardly less remarkable, though in a very different way, is the following passage from the Demonstration (c. 10); and it has a special 39interest from the fact that here also we have a reference to the functions of angels.
“Now this God is glorified by His Word who is His Son continually, and by the Holy Spirit who is the Wisdom of the Father of all: and the powers of these, (namely) of the Word and Wisdom, which are called Cherubim and Seraphim, with unceasing voices glorify God; and every created thing that is in the heavens offers glory to God the Father of all. He by His Word has created the whole world, and in the world are the angels;” etc.
The liturgical ring of this passage is unmistakable. We saw that Justin spoke of Eucharistic praise as being offered to the Father “through the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit.” But this. hardly prepares us for such a passage as we have just read. Two interesting parallels, however, may prove suggestive. The first is from the Eucharistic Prayer of Bishop Serapion (c. A.D. 350):
“May the Lord Jesus speak in us, and (the) Holy Spirit, and hymn thee through us. For thou art far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come. Beside thee stand thousand thousands and myriad myriads of angels, archangels, thrones, dominions, principalities, powers: beside thee stand the two most honorable six-winged Seraphim, with two wings covering,” etc., leading up to the Ter Sanctus2626Wobbermin's edition, Texte u. Untersuch. xvii, 3b, p. 5: Λαλησάτω ἐν ἡμῖν ὁ κύριος Ἰησοῦς καὶ ἅγιον πυεῦμα, καὶ ὑμνησάτω σὲ δἰ ἡμῶν. . . .
This Prayer comes to us from Egypt. When we look at the Liturgy of Alexandria, known as that of St Mark, we find that the reference to the praise offered to the Father by the Son and the Spirit is absent. And in the place of “the two most honorable Seraphim” we read: “the two most honorable living creatures (Hab. iii. 2, LXX), the many-eyed Cherubim, and the six winged Seraphim.”2727It is curious to notice that each of these pairs (Living Creatures, Cherubim, Seraphim) is in turn interpreted by the Alexandrian Origen as signifying the Son and the Holy Spirit: see the note to c. 10 below. In the other Greek Liturgies “the two living creatures” are not found, but Cherubim and Seraphim remain; and we in the West are familiar with this combination in the words of the Te Deum: “Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant: Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus,” etc.2828In the Slavonic Secrets of Enoch (cc. xix f.), in both recensions, Cherubim and Seraphim are mentioned, by themselves and in this order. Where did the combination first arise?
The second parallel is not less remarkable. It comes from the Eucharistic Preface of the so-called Clementine Liturgy contained in the Apostolic Constitutions (viii. 12). But it does not appear in the ordinary texts. Mr C. H. Turner has recently called attention to a MS. in the Vatican (Vat. Gr. 1506), as offering a more original text of this work and presenting Arian features no longer to be found in the current recension. This early text contains the following words towards the close of the Preface:
“Thee every incorporeal and holy order (of beings) worshippeth; [thee the Paraclete worshippeth] 41and, before all, thy holy Servant Jesus the Christ, our Lord and God and thy angel and captain of the host and eternal and unending high priest: thee the well-ordered hosts of angels and archangels worship,” etc.2929Journal of Theological Studies, Oct. 1914, p. 59: Σὲ προσκυνεῖ πᾶν ἀσώματον καὶ ἅγιον τάγμα, [σὲ προσκυνεῖ ὁ παράκλητος,] πρὸ δὲ πάντων ὁ ἅγιός σου παῖς Ἰησοῦς ὁ Χριστός, ὁ κύριος καὶ θεὸς ἡμῶν, σοῦ δὲ ἄγγελος καὶ τῆς δυνάμεως ἀρχιστρατηγὸς καὶ ἀρχιερεὺς αἰώνιος καὶ ἀτελεύτητος, σὲ προσκυνοῦσι εὔρυθμοι στρατιαὶ ἀγγέλων, κ.τ.λ. Mr Turner says: “The bracketed words are by the second hand over an erasure according to Funk: but I do not doubt that it was some close connection in the original of the Holy Spirit with angelic spirits which was the motive of the erasure.”
When now we look back to the passage in the Demonstration, with its reference to Cherubim and Seraphim who “with unceasing voices” glorify God, we feel that there is matter here which deserves the attention of students of the earliest forms of the Liturgy.
But a yet earlier witness must be called before we leave this passage. There are several places in the Demonstration which suggest that Irenæus was acquainted with the splendid vision of the Ascension of Isaiah, a Christian apocryphal writing which probably belongs to the first half of the second century. A brief outline of that vision must be given here.3030I may be allowed to refer to my article (Isaiah, Ascension of) in Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible for an account of this document. I have borrowed from it the outline here given. The book has since been edited with much care by Dr Charles.
Isaiah is taken (c. 7) by an angel, whose name he may not know, because he is to return to his mortal body, first up into the firmament, where he finds perpetual warfare between Satanic powers. Next he ascends into the first heaven, where he sees a throne with angels on either side; 42they chant a hymn of praise, which he learns is addressed to the Glory of the seventh heaven and to His Beloved. In the second heaven he finds also a throne with angels, but more glorious; he would fain fall down and worship, but is not permitted. In the third heaven he finds the like; there is there no mention of the deeds of the vain world from which he has come, but he is assured that nothing escapes observation. In the fourth heaven he again sees angels on either side of a throne, the glory of those on the right being, as before, greater than of those on the left; and all are more glorious than those below. The same in yet greater degree is true of the fifth heaven. But in the sixth heaven (c. 8) there is no throne, and no left hand, but all are alike in splendor: it is in close connection with the seventh heaven, and its glory makes the glory of the five heavens below seem but darkness. At length he comes (c. 9) to the seventh heaven, where his entry is challenged, but permitted. Here he sees the just clothed in their heavenly robes, but not yet having received their thrones and crowns. These they cannot have until the descent and the return of the Beloved has been accomplished. He is shown also the books which contain the transactions of the world below, and learns that all is known in the seventh heaven. He beholds the Lord of Glory, and is bidden to worship Him. He then beholds a second most glorious one, like unto Him, and again is bidden to worship; and then again a third, who is the angel of the Holy Sprit, the inspirer of the prophets. These two latter worship the ineffable Glory; and the chant of praise (c.10) sounds up from the sixth heaven. Then the voce of the Most High is heard speaking to the Lord the Son, bidding Him descend through the heavens to the firmament, and to the world, and even to the angel of the infernal regions; He is to assimilate Himself to those who dwell in each region in turn, so that He may not be recognized as He passes down. He will ascend at length with glory and worship from all. The prophet now beholds the descent of the Beloved. In the sixth heaven there is no change of His appearance, and the angels glorify Him. But in the fifth He is changed, and not recognized, and so in each of the lower heavens, down to the firmament, where He passes through the strife that rages there, still unrecognized. At this point the angel calls the prophet’s special attention to what follows (c. 11).
Here follows a description of the Birth from a Virgin, and a notice of the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord, and the sending forth of the Twelve (112.23).
Then the prophet beholds the ascent through the firmament and the six heavens: the Lord is recognized and glorified as He ascends: at length He reaches the seventh heaven, and takes His seat on the right hand of the great Glory; and the angel of the Holy Spirit sits on the left hand. The prophet is then sent back to his mortal clothing. On his return he warns Hezekiah that these things will come to pass, but that they may not be communicated to the people of Israel.
Now it is to be observed that in c. 9 of the Demonstration Irenæus gives us an account of the Seven Heavens; in c. 10 he speaks of God as being glorified by His Word and by the Holy Spirit; and in c. 84 he says that the Lord in His descent was not recognized by any created beings, and he thus explains the dialogue with the heavenly powers in Ps. xxiv: “Lift up your gates, ye rulers . . . Who is the King of Glory?” and so forth. We cannot therefore reasonably doubt that Irenæus was acquainted with the vision in the Ascension of Isaiah.
The words which immediately concern us here are at the end of the ninth chapter of that book: “I saw that my Lord worshipped, and the angel of the Spirit, and that both of them together glorified God. And immediately all the saints approached and worshipped: and all the saints and angels approached and worshipped, and all the angels glorified.”
We see then that Irenæus by no means stands alone in his statement that the God and Father of all is glorified by the Son and by the Holy Spirit. Strange as the conception is to us it was not strange to the religious mind of the second Christian century. It would appear to have found 44place in an early form of the Liturgy, and to have been retained by the Arian compiler of the so-called Clementine Liturgy of the Apostolic Constitutions: for the Arians not infrequently could claim to be conservative in points of detail. Possibly we may even trace it, in a form modified into harmony with a later orthodoxy, in the Liturgy of Serapion; but it is cast out altogether in the Greek Liturgies of the subsequent period, and by the orthodox reviser of the Apostolic Constitutions.
As the Demonstration starts from the Rule of Faith—the “three points” of the Creed—it necessarily has something to say of the relation of the Spirit to the Father and the Son: but at once we feel that Irenæus finds difficulty in drawing a clear distinction between the functions of the Word and the Spirit. In c. 5 he says: God is rational (λογικός); therefore He creates by the Word (λόγος): God is Spirit; therefore He orders all by the Spirit. Here Ps. xxxiii. 6 comes to his aid: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens established, and by his spirit all their power.” Then, having identified the Word with the Son, he identifies the Spirit with the Wisdom of God. After this he takes refuge in St Paul: “One God, the Father,” etc. But the passage must be given in full.
“Since God is rational, therefore by (the) Word [or Reason] He created the things that were made; and God is Spirit, and by (the) Spirit He adorned all things: as also the prophet says: By the word of the Lord were the heavens established, 45and by his spirit all their power. Since then the Word establishes, that is to say, gives body and grants the reality of being, and the Spirit gives order and form to the diversity of the powers; rightly and fittingly is the Word called the Son, and the Spirit the Wisdom of God. Well also does Paul His apostle say: One God, the Father, who is over all and through all and in us all. For over all is the Father; and through all is the Son, for by means of Him all things were made by the Father; and in us all is the Spirit, who cries Abba Father, and fashions man into the likeness of God.3131In V, xviii. 1 he gives a like interpretation, though in a different connection: “Over all is the Father, and He is the head of Christ; and through all the Word, and He is the head of the Church; and in us all the Spirit, and He is the living water which the Lord bestows,” etc. Now the Spirit shows forth the Word,” etc.3232As quoted above, p. 36.
Here we have moved a long way from Justin, who does not connect the Holy Spirit with the work of creation, nor quote Ps. xxxiii. 6; and who expressly tells us more than once that it is the Son who is called Wisdom by Solomon (Dial. 62 and 126). It is to other writings of Irenæus himself that we must look for illustration of these words of the Demonstration.
We begin with Isa. xxxiv. 1 ff., a passage which contains so many illustrations of the language of the Demonstration that we must quote it at some length. The translation is made from a comparison of the Latin and Armenian versions: where it does not accord with the Latin, it is to be assumed that the Armenian is followed.46
(1) So then according to His greatness it is not possible to know God; for it is impossible that the Father should be measured. But according to His love—for love it is which leads us to God through His Word—as we obey Him we ever learn that He is so great a God, and that it is He who by Himself created and made and adorned and contains all things. Now in all things are both we and this world of ours:3333Cf. c. 4: “Now among all things is this world of ours,” etc., and the note there. therefore we also were made together with those things that are contained by Him. And it is this concerning which the Scripture says: And the Lord God formed man, dust of the earth; and breathed in his face the breath of life (Gen. ii. 7). Angels therefore made us not, nor formed us: for neither could angels make the image of God, nor could any other except the true God, nor any power standing remote from the Father of all. For of none of these was God in need to make whatsoever He of Himself had foreordained should be made: as though He Himself had not His own Hands. For ever with Him is the Word and Wisdom—the Son and the Spirit—through whom and in whom freely and of His own power He made all things; unto whom also the Father speaks,3434Cf. c. 55: “The Father speaking to the Son” (the same quotation, Gen. i. 26). saying: Let us make man after our image and likeness: taking from Himself the substance of the things created, and the pattern of those made, and the form of those adorned.
(2) “Well then spake the Scripture which says: First of all believe that there is one God, who 47created and fashioned all things, and made all things to be from that which was not; and containeth all things, and alone is uncontained.3535Cf. c. 4: “And therefore it is right first of all to believe that there is One God, the Father, who created what was not that it should be, and who, containing all things, alone is uncontained.” See note there, where the Greek is given from the Shepherd of Hermas. Well also in the prophets says the Angel:3636The Latin has “Malachias,” both here and in IV, xxix. 5, where again the Armenian has “the Angel”: these are the only places where Irenæus quotes the prophet by name. The name Malachi only occurs as the heading of the prophecy, and in the first verse of it, where the LXX however gives ἀγγέλου αὐτοῦ instead. There was uncertainty about the authorship, which was sometimes attributed to Ezra. In 4 Esdras i. 40 a list of the twelve prophets ends with “Malachias, qui et angelus Domini vocatus est.” Hippolytus (de Antichr. 46) writes: καθὼς διὰ Μαλαχίου τοῦ ἄγγέλου φησίν. Cf. Clem. Al. Strom. I, §§ 122, 127, 129, 135 (ὁ ἐν τοῖς δώδεκα ἄγγελος). In the Latin fragment of the Didascalia (Hauler, p. 68) we find: “per Malachiam loquens, qui nuncupatur et angelus;” so again in the Syriac (ed. Achelis-Flemming, p. 129): “Malachi the Angel.” Jerome says that Origen regarded the writer actually as an angel. Twice Justin assigns quotations from him to Zachariah (Dial. 29 and 49). I have adopted “the Angel” in the translation here to call attention to the reading. I think it not unlikely to be what Irenæus wrote: but it is right to add that the Armenian Bible follows the LXX in reading “his angel” in Mal. i. 1. Hath not one God created its? Is there not one Father of us all (Mal. ii. 10)? And agreeably with this the Apostle says: One God and Father, above all and through all and in us all (Eph. iv. 6). In like manner also the Lord says: All things have been delivered unto me by my Father (Matt. xi. 27); plainly by Him who made all things: for He gave Him not the things of another, but His own.”3737Cf c. 3: “For God is not ruler and Lord over the things of another, but over His own.”
“And in all things there is nothing excepted. And for this cause He is Judge of quick and dead; having the key of David, opening and none shall 48shut, and He shall shut and none shall open (Rev. iii. 7). For none other was able, neither in heaven nor on earth nor beneath the earth to open the Father’s book, nor to look thereon, save the Lamb that was slain and redeemed us by his blood Rev. v. 2); having received all power from Him, who by the Word made and by Wisdom adorned all things, when the Word was made flesh (John i. 14) that as in heaven He had the preeminence,3838Cf. c. 40: “Thus then the Word of God in all things hath the preeminence,” and note there because He was the Word of God, so also on earth He should have the preeminence, because He was a just man,3939Cf. c. 39: “A just and holy man . . . the first begotten of the dead.” who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth (I Pet. ii. 22); and that He should have the preeminence also over those who are beneath the earth, being made the first-begotten from the dead (Rev. i. 5): and that all things should behold, as we have said, their King: and that the Father’s light should come upon the flesh of our Lord, and from His flesh sparkling and flashing back should come to us, and so man should be drawn and caught into the incorruption of the Father’s light.
(3) Now that the Word, that is, the Son, was always with the Father,4040Cf c. 52: “Christ, being Son of God before all the world, is always with the Father,” etc. we have shown by many proofs. And that Wisdom, which is the Spirit, was with Him before all creation, He says by Solomon, thus: God by wisdom founded the earth, and he prepared the heaven by understanding: by 49His knowledge the depths were broken up, and the clouds dropped down the dew (Prov. iii. 19 f.). And again: The Lord created me (in Arm.) the beginning of his ways, for his works,” etc. (Prov. viii. 22–25).
(4) “There is therefore one God, who by the Word and Wisdom made and fashioned all things . . .”
So the great passage runs on: later portions of it describe the work of the Holy Spirit among men. The footnotes have shown how much of it is repeated in almost the same words in the Demonstration, apart from the particular section which we have called it in to illustrate. To that section we must return; for we are now concerned with the Spirit’s work in connection with Creation.
First we must deal with the quotation, By the word of the Lord were the heavens established, and by his spirit all their power. This is quoted more correctly—“by the spirit (or ‘breath’) of his mouth”—in I, xv and also in III, viii. 3. In the latter place he makes no comment; but in the former, after having quoted this text to prove that God made all things by His Word, he presently adds a reference to the Spirit: “By His Word and Spirit making all things, and disposing and governing them, and granting existence to them all.” Here the Word and the Spirit seem to be brought together merely because they have occurred in the quotation, and there is no further reference to the Holy Spirit in the context. It might therefore appear that they are no more distinguished from one another than they are in the parallelism of 50the Hebrew poet, to whom “the word” and “the breath of his mouth” are but one and the same. But Irenæus has no eye for such parallelisms, and the dropping of the phrase “of his mouth” in our present passage makes this only too plain.
Next we note the expression “by the Spirit He adorned them.” This word “adorned” (Lat. adornavit) recurs several times in the passage we have quoted from Bk. IV: “created and made and adorned and contains all things;” “the form of the things adorned,” “who by the Word made and by Wisdom adorned all things.” The Armenian word is the same throughout, and probably represents the Greek ἐκόσμησεν and τῶν κεκοσμημένων.4141In Justin (Ap. II, 6) we have (ἔκτισε καὶ ἐκόσμησε, and in Athenagoras (Suppl. ἐποίησε καὶ ἐκόσμησε. At the end of the passage we have a similar phrase: “who by the Word and Wisdom made and fashioned all things (Lat. adaptavit).”4242The Arm. also has here a different word—one which is used to translate καταρτίσας in the quotation from Hermas. Other parallels are II, xlvii. 2: “condens et faciens omnia . . . Verbo virtutis suæ; et omnia aptavit et disposuit Sapientia sua . . . qui fecit ea per semetipsum, hoc est per Verbum et per Sapientiam suam:“ III, xxxviii. 2: “Verbo suo confirmans et Sapientia compingens omnia.”
The passage in the Demonstration goes on to say that “rightly and fittingly is the Word called the Son, and the Spirit the Wisdom of God.” The proof texts for this latter statement are not given: but we have had them in the long passage from the fourth book Against Heresies. For the purpose of asserting the part of the Holy Spirit in Creation, Irenæus has boldly taken over the texts which speak of Wisdom in this connection—texts 51which Justin before him and Origen4343Origen found the Spirit in Gen. i. 2 and in Ps. xxxiii. 6: but he is quite clear that Wisdom is the Son. after him would have referred to the Son.
This equivalence in creative function of the Son and the Spirit, as the Word and the Wisdom of God, is strangely expressed in Bks. IV and V, by calling them the Hands of God. In IV, pref. 3 we read: “Man is a mingling of soul and flesh,4444Cf. c. 2: “Man is a living being compounded of soul and flesh,” and note there. fashioned after the likeness of God and formed (plasmatus) by His Hands, that is, by the Son and the Spirit, to whom also He said: Let us make man.” The conception is developed in IV, xiv. 1: “The Father had no need of angels to make the world and to form man for whose sake the world was made; nor again was He in want of ministration for the making of created things and the dispensation of the work that concerned man but He had abundant and unbounded ministration; because there ministers unto Him His own Offspring for all purposes, and His own Hands,4545For “His own Hands” (Arm.) the Latin has “figuratio sua,” which has troubled the commentators: the Armenian version restores the meaning of the passage. that is, the Son and the Spirit, the Word and Wisdom to whom all the angels render service and are in subjection.” The next occurrence of the metaphor is in the great passage we have quoted above (IV, xxxiv. 1, “as though He had not His own Hands”), where he practically repeats what he has said before.
Then in V, i. 3 we have: “For never at any time has Adam escaped the Hands of God, to whom 52the Father spake, saying: Let us make man after our image and likeness. And for this cause in the end (of the times), not of the will of flesh nor of the will of man (John i. 13), but of the good pleasure of the Father, His Hands made the Living Man, that Adam might become after the image and likeness of God.” Here we see the conception carried on from the Creation to the Incarnation.
In V, v. 1, speaking of Enoch and Elijah, he says: “By those Hands by which they were formed (ἐπλάσθησαν) at the beginning they were translated and taken up: for in Adam the Hands of God were habituated to order and hold and carry their own formation (πλάσμα), and to bear it and set it where they themselves would.” He goes on to say that “the Hand of God was present “with the Three Children in the Furnace—namely “the Son of God.”
Then in V, vi. 1 the continual molding of man is indicated: “God shall be glorified in His own formation (plasmate), conforming and conjoining it to His Son. For by the Hands of the Father, that is, the Son and the Spirit, man is made after the image and likeness of God—but not part of man.” He is arguing for the resurrection of the flesh, not of the soul alone.
In V, xv. 2 f. our Lord’s cures in the Gospels are said to show the Hand of God, which formed man at the beginning: cf. also xvi. 1. This is not at variance with the conception, for the Son is one of the Hands of God.
Lastly, in V, xxviii. 3, he returns to the two Hands: “Wherefore in all this time (viz. the 536000 years) man, formed at the beginning by the Hands of God, that is, the Son and the Spirit, is being made after the image and likeness of God.”
In the Demonstration the same thought is suggested by the phrase in c. 11: “But man He formed with His own Hands;” but it is not further dwelt upon.
The identification of the Spirit with Wisdom was made after a fashion by some of the “Gnostics,” but not in a way that is likely to have influenced Irenæus.4646In the Clementine Homilies, however, the doctrine of which has much in common with the Helchesaite teachings of the second century, there are some curious parallels to the language of Irenæus on this subject. In Hom. xvi. 12 we read: “There is one God who said to His Wisdom, Let us make man. Now Wisdom, with which, as with His own Spirit, He himself ever rejoiced (cf. Prov. viii. 30), is united as Soul with God, and stretched out from him as Hand, creating the universe (ἐκτείνετα: δὲ ὡς χεὶρ δημιουργοῦσα τὸ πᾶν).” So in Hom. xi. 22, “of the Spirit of God moving on the water,” we are told: “The Spirit has the beginning of extension (τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς ἐκτάσεως) from God who made all things;” and, “when God spake, the Spirit as His Hand created all things.” With this ἔκτασις cf. Dem. c. 26: “Now the finger of God is that which is stretched forth from the Father in the Holy Spirit.” Nor do I know where else to find it at this date except in Theophilus of Antioch. But on his name we must pause for a brief digression. He seems to have written a little earlier than Irenæus, who is generally admitted to have had some acquaintance with his works.
In approaching what Theophilus of Antioch has to say concerning the Holy Spirit, it is of the first importance to bear in mind that his three books addressed to Autolycus represent a systematic attempt to convert a heathen from the worship of a plurality of Gods. A higher faith is set before him, but it is not what we today should speak of 54as distinctively Christian. There is no Christian theology, properly so called, propounded: the Incarnation, Passion, Resurrection of our Lord are not mentioned; the very names Christ and Jesus are absent:4747Even when explaining the word “Christian” he does not mention Christ, but plays with the word εὔχρηστος, and then says, “We are called Christians because we are anointed (χριόμεθα) with the oil of God” (i. 1 and 12). the Gospels are referred to only in passing for certain moral precepts. Much of the work is directly controversial and negative: his positive arguments are concerned with the process of Creation as revealed to Moses and with prophecies of the Old Testament. In these Scriptures and in the Gospels, so far as he touches on them, he finds the inspiring activity of the Spirit of God: but Creation, not less than Inspiration, is for him a function of God’s Wisdom as well as of God’s Word; and, though he does not explicitly identify Wisdom with the Holy Spirit, his language certainly implies that this was his meaning.
Theophilus leads off with a general statement which is perhaps to be explained by his anxiety to keep the Unity of God in the front of his exposition. The form of God, he says, is ineffable: “if I call Him Light, I speak of His handiwork; if Word of His rule”—for he explains later that ἀρχὴ means “rule” (ὅτι ἄρχει) as well as “beginning”; “if I call Him Mind, I speak of His understanding; if Spirit, of His breath; if Wisdom, of His offspring; if Strength, of His might; if Power, of His working; if Providence, of His goodness,” and so on.4848i. 3.
Here we have “Word,” “Spirit,” “Wisdom ”—as 55it were Names of God: a sort of warning that, if these are hereafter mentioned as active powers, they are not to be thought of as infringing on the Unity of the Deity.
Next, in i. 5, we read: “the whole creation is embraced by the Spirit of God, and the Spirit that embraces it is together with the creation embraced by the hand of God.” This does not encourage us to expect a very clear definition of terms.
In i. 7 we get what is more to our purpose. He is speaking of God as the Physician who can open the eyes of the soul: “God, who heals and quickens by the Word and Wisdom. For God by His Word and Wisdom made all things. For by his word were the heavens established, and by his spirit all their power. Most excellent is His Wisdom: God by wisdom founded the earth, and prepared the heavens by understanding: by (his) knowledge the depths were broken up, and the clouds dropped down the dew.”
This might be Irenæus himself.4949See above, pp. 44, 48 f. There is the same inexact quotation of Ps. xxxiii. 6, with “his spirit,” instead of “the spirit (or ‘breath’) of his mouth”; and the same full quotation of Prov. iii. 19, 20, where the former verse only might have been expected. Moreover the next sentences of Theophilus give in summary form much which is said with great fullness by Irenæus, touching the vision of God and the resurrection of the flesh as well as of the soul.
In ii. 9 Wisdom and Holy Spirit are found in close conjunction. The prophets being “spirit-bearers 56of holy Spirit” (πνευματοφόροι πνεύματος ἁγίου) were able to take in the Wisdom that is from Him (i. e. from God) and by this Wisdom spoke of creation and of other things, future as well as past. Wisdom is here connected with the Holy Spirit, yet not expressly identified with Him.
We go on (ii. 10) to what the prophets have told us about the creation. Out of what did not exist God made all things. For God has no coeval. Though in need of nought in His existence before the ages, yet He willed to make man, by whom He might be known. So He made the world in preparation for man. And this is how He did it: “God having His own Word existent within His own heart (ἐνδιάθετον), begat Him, together with His own Wisdom, uttering Him forth before all things.5050Ἔχων οὖν ὁ θεὸς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ λόγον ἐνδιάθετον ἐν τοῖς ἰδίαις σπλάγχνοις, ἐγέννησεν αὐτὸν μετὰ τῆς ἑαυτοῦ σοφίας ἐξερευξάμενος πρὸ τῶν ὅλων. The language is molded on Ps. xlv. 1: Ἐξερεύξατο ἡ καρδία μου λόγον ἀγαθόν. This Word He used as minister for the things brought into being by Him, and through Him He made all things. This (Word) is also called Rule (ἀρχή, ὅτι ἄρχει), because He rules and dominates all that has been created through Him. This (Word) therefore, being Spirit of God and Rule and Wisdom and Power of the Highest, came down upon the prophets and through them spoke of the world’s creation and all other things. For the prophets were not there when the world was made, but (only) the Wisdom of God which is in Him, and His holy Word who is ever present with Him. So Solomon says “When he prepared the heaven I was present with 57him,” and so on. “And long before Solomon Moses, or rather the Word of God through him as an instrument, says: In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth.” Then follows a mention of the Divine Wisdom “as foreknowing the foolish idolatries of men, and as saying In the beginning God made, that it might be understood that “in His Word God made the heaven and the earth.”
It may be that Theophilus thus passes from the Word of God to the Wisdom of God, and back again, and even calls the Word both Spirit of God and Wisdom, in order to maintain the ruling conception of the Unity of the Deity. He speaks of God as begetting His own Word together with His own Wisdom—and we remember that in an earlier place he spoke of Wisdom as the offspring (γέννημα) of God—but he has not used the word “Son,” though this he will have to do later. He writes so clearly when he chooses, that we are almost forced to conclude that he is withholding the fuller doctrine with intentional reserve from one who still persists in his heathen beliefs.
He now quotes (ii. ii) the whole of the first chapter of Genesis, and begins to comment on it, first noting “the exceeding greatness and riches of the Wisdom of God” displayed in it. Presently (ii. 13) he says that, unlike man, God can begin His building from the roof. Therefore “In the beginning God made the heaven, that is, through the Beginning (διὰ τῆς ἀρχῆς) the heaven was made, as we have explained.” He has already called the Word ἀρχή, though in the sense of Rule. The Spirit appears as the vivifying power 58in connection with the water. Then “the Command (ἡ διάταξις) of God, that is, His Word,” introduces light. Then the Word of God gathers the waters “into one assembly” (εἰς συναγωγήν), a phrase which presently allegorized.5151ii. 14: τὰς συναγωγάς, λεγομεν δὲ ἐκκλησίας ἁγίας.
When he comes to the fourth day, on which the luminaries were created, he offers some allegorical interpretations. Man, though not yet created, is in a way anticipated and prefigured. The sun, never waning, is a type of God in His eternal fullness: the moon with her changes is a type of man, his rebirth and resurrection. “In like manner also,” he proceeds, “the three days before the luminaries were made are types of the triad—God and His Word and His Wisdom;5252ii. 15: τύποι εἰσὶ τῆς τριάδος, τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ λόγου αὐτοῦ καὶ τῆς σοφίας αὐτοῦ. and to the fourth type (what corresponds) is man, who needs the light: so that there may be God, Word, Wisdom, Man. This is why the luminaries were made on the fourth day.” And he goes on to interpret the stars, bright and less bright, as the prophets and other just men; and the planets as wanderers from God.
Here for a moment we seem to have got the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and the identification of Wisdom with the Spirit. And we have no earlier example of the use of the word Τρίας in this sense. But we are instantly warned off from such a view by his introduction of Man as a fourth member of the series. If he has come too near enunciating the Trinity, he certainly 59escapes, covering his tracks. Is it possible that these were “words to the wise”? At any rate he has said nothing that could raise in the mind of Autolycus any thought of plurality of Gods.
In ii. 18 he comes on to the creation of man. First the high dignity of man is indicated in the words, Let us make man after our image and likeness. “For when God had made all things by word, and counted them all as subsidiary (πάρεργα), the making of man He alone counted work of His own hands. Yea more, as though needing assistance, God is found saying, Let us make . . . But to none other did He say it, save to His own Word and His own Wisdom.”
Here again we almost seem to be listening to Irenæus. Is it possible that it is in view of the indistinctness of this very teaching that Irenæus so often reiterates that the Word and the Wisdom are the Son and the Spirit, and that these are the Hands of God? Theophilus has almost said it himself: but he has stopped short of saying it. And in a later chapter (ii. 22) he will return to the old vagueness, and tell us that it was “not the God and Father of all . . . but His Word, through whom He made all things, who, being His Power and His Wisdom, represented the Father of all,” and conversed in Paradise with Adam. And he adds that the Voice Adam heard is “the Word of God, who is also His Son (υἱός αὐτοῦ): not indeed as poets and mythologers speak of sons of the gods begotten by intercourse; but as truth declares concerning the Word who is ever existent within (ἐνδιάθετον) the heart of God. For before 60anything was made He had Him to His Counselor, as being His own mind and understanding. But when He willed to make what He had counseled, He begat this Word into outwardness (προφορικόν), as first-begotten of all creation: not being Himself emptied of the Word, but having begotten the Word, and for ever conversing with His Word.” He then quotes the first verses of St John’s Gospel; but he does not go on to “the Word made flesh.”
In all this we have much that reminds us of Irenæus, and there are yet closer parallels to be found in later chapters. We cannot but regret that we have none of those works of Theophilus which would have given us his more distinctively Christian teaching, such as Autolycus might have received had he been willing to become a catechumen. We have enough at any rate to make us feel that Irenæus was not on wholly new ground in this particular matter, even if he trod it much more firmly than his predecessor.
We now return to the Demonstration and read a passage in which Irenæus sums up a portion of his argument (c. 47). “So then the Father is Lord and the Son is Lord, and the Father is God and the Son is God: for that which is begotten of God is God.” This surprises us alike by its anticipation of a later formula, and by its silence in regard to the Holy Spirit. It is only at a later point after a quotation from Ps. xlv, that the Spirit is mentioned: “The Son, as being God, receives from the Father, that is, from God, the throne of the everlasting kingdom, and the oil of anointing 61above His fellows. The oil of anointing is the Spirit, wherewith He has been anointed.” This statement is also found in III, xix. 3: and in III, vi. 1 we read: “Since therefore the Father is truly Lord and the Son is truly Lord, the Holy Spirit duly indicated them by the title of Lord;” and, after certain texts have been quoted: “For the Holy Spirit indicated both by the title of Lord—Him who is anointed, even the Son, and Him who anoints, that is, the Father.”5353The earlier part of this chapter has been quoted above (p. 37). In insisting that no other save the Father and the Son is called God or Lord in the full sense, Irenæus is following Justin (Dial. 56). Justin has quoted Ps. xlv. 7, and asks: Εἰ οὖν καὶ ἄλλον τινὰ θεολογεῖν καὶ κυριολογεῖν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιόν φατε ὑμεῖς παρὰ τὸν πατέρα τῶν ὅλων καὶ τὸν χριστὸν αὐτοῦ. Equally strong are the statements in Dial. 65 and 68.
The concern of Irenæus, as of Justin before him, is with the Father and the Son; and he writes always with the heresy of Marcion in the back of his mind. It would seem as though no question of the Deity of the Holy Spirit occurred to him. The Spirit was the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. It was necessary to insist that “that which is begotten of God is God:” the Godhead of the Son required proof. But to say that “the Spirit of God” is truly God would have been to him a tautology. The thought of the Spirit as God did not as yet involve any such distinction as could seem to conflict with the Unity of the Deity.
To do justice to the teaching of Irenæus so far as it regards the relation of the Holy Spirit to the Father and the Son, it would be necessary to examine what he has to tell us of the Spirit’s work in the process of man’s restoration. An adequate 62consideration of this would correct the one-sided view which is all that we gain, from treating of the points on which his conceptions are farthest removed from those with which we ourselves are familiar. It has been necessary to consider these points with some fullness, because it is important to observe how much still remained unsettled, and how great a task still lay before the leaders of Christian thought before such definitions could be reached as should adequately guard the Catholic doctrine of the Holy Trinity. It is not possible however to do more within our present limits, and it is fortunate for us that the gap may be filled by a reference to the careful and sympathetic exposition of Dr. Swete in his valuable work on The Holy Spirit in the Ancient Church (1912, pp. 89–94). “Irenæus,” he tells us, “enters into the details of the Holy Spirit’s work on the hearts and lives of men with a fullness which is far in advance of other Christian writers of the second century.” And he sums up by saying: “On the whole, the pneumatology of Irenæus is a great advance on all earlier Christian teaching outside the Canon.” With this apology for incompleteness we must pass on to the third and last point of our subject.
3. The Holy Spirit and the Incarnation of the Word. We have seen how Justin declared that it was not permissible to regard “the Spirit” and “the Power” that came upon the Virgin as any other than the Word of God Himself. And we also noted in passing that Theophilus of Antioch spoke of the Word as being “Spirit of God” and “Power of the Highest,” the second of which 63designations comes from Luke i. 35. We have now to ask whether the language of Irenæus corresponds with this interpretation and makes the Word Himself to be the agent of His own Incarnation.
We begin with a strange passage of the Demonstration (c. 71) in which he expounds Lam. iv. 20: The Spirit of our face, the Lord Christ, was taken in their snares; of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the Gentiles. He has used part of this text in III, xi. 2, a passage which must be cited here. Christ, he says, is Salus, Salvator, and Salutare in various Scriptures. “He is Salvator (Saviour), because He is Son and Word of God: Salutare (perhaps as saving-principle), because He is Spirit; for the Spirit of our face, it says, Christ the Lord: and He is Salus (Salvation), because He is flesh.” He has in his mind some “Gnostic” error which he is refuting; but we are only concerned with his use of the text to prove that Christ is Spirit. In the passage in the Demonstration he makes the same use of it. This Scripture, he says, declares “that Christ being (the) Spirit of God was to become a suffering man.” Then he adds: “And by shadow he means His body. For just as a shadow is made by a body, so also Christ’s body was made by His Spirit.” Here again we are not concerned with the general argument, but only with these two statements: Christ was Spirit of God, and Christ’s body was made. by His Spirit. This is as much as to say that the Word of God was the agent of His own Incarnation.64
In c. 59 we read: “By flower [of the root of Jesse] he means His flesh (or “body”): for from spirit it budded forth, as we have said before.” The reference would appear to be to c. 51: “that the same God forms Him from the womb, that is, that of the Spirit of God He should be born.”
In V, i. 2, controverting Docetic views, he says “If He were not man and yet appeared to be man, then neither did He remain what He was in truth, (viz.) Spirit of God, since the Spirit is invisible; nor was any truth in Him, since He was not what He appeared to be.”
In c. 97, after quoting from Baruch iii. 38, Afterward did he appear upon earth, and was conversant with men, he says: “mingling and mixing the Spirit of God the Father with the plasma (‘formation’) of God, that man might be after the image and likeness of God.” There is a close parallel in IV, xxxiv 4, a continuation of the great passage cited at length above: “His advent according to flesh, whereby a mingling and communion of God and man was made, according to the good-pleasure of the Father: the Word of God having foretold from the beginning that God should be seen of men and should be conversant with them on the earth . . . that man being intermingled5454Latin: complexus homo Spiritum Dei. Arm.: “intertwined and mingled with.” Perhaps the Greek was συμπλεκόμενος. with the Spirit of God should be brought to the glory of the Father.”
The general thought here is that the restoration of man takes place after the pattern of the Incarnation—the intermingling of human flesh with 65the Spirit of God. If the Spirit of God in the Incarnation is thought of primarily as Christ Himself, yet there is no sharp distinction drawn between Christ as Spirit and the Spirit that works in believers. The indistinctness is not greater than in St Paul: “if the Spirit of God be in you . . . but if any man have not the Spirit of Christ . . . but if Christ be in you . . . if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you”—all in consecutive verses in Rom. viii. 9 ff.
We have left to the last a phrase, which taken alone might have suggested a later view. If we are not to misinterpret Irenæus, we must bear in mind that the clause “Conceived of the Holy Ghost” does not appear in any credal confession before the Council of Ariminum in 359, and it was not until some years later that it found final acceptance. It belongs to a period of definition long subsequent to the age of Irenæus.
The words in question are these (c. 40): “He from whom all things are, He who spake with Moses, came into Judea; generated from God by (the) Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary.” I have been compelled to use the word “generated,” at the risk of misunderstanding: but the Armenian word means simply “sown.” And we shall do well at once to compare III, xvii. 6: “The Word, … united and sown together with that which He Himself had formed (or, as the Latin has it, unitus et consparsus suo plasmati) according to the good pleasure of the Father, and made flesh.” It is the Word that the Father “sows” by His Spirit. And to show the wide scope of the metaphor, we may 66compare IV, xx. 1: “The Son of God is sown everywhere in the Scriptures; at one time speaking with Abraham and eating with him,” and so forth. And, again, in IV, xlviii. 2 we have: “the seed of the Father of all, that is, the Spirit of God, through whom all things were made, mingled and united with flesh, that is, His plasma (‘formation’).” This is said of the Holy Spirit in His work amongst men.
The whole topic is further illustrated by V, i. 3:
“The Ebionites . . . not willing to understand that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her; wherefore also that which was born was holy, and Son of the Most High God, the Father of all, who wrought His incarnation, and manifested a new birth; that, as by the former birth we inherited death, so by this birth we should inherit life.” Presently he adds: “and not considering that, just as at the beginning of our formation (plasmatio) in Adam that breath of life which was from God, being united toy the thing formed (plasmata), animated man and manifested a rational animal, so at the end the Word of the Father and the Spirit of God, being united (adunitus, singular) to the original substance of the formation (plasmatio) of Adam, made man living and perfect, capable of receiving the perfect Father; that, as in the animal we all died, so in the spiritual we should all be made alive.”5555The words which follow have been quoted above: “For never at any time hath Adam escaped the Hands of God,” etc.
It results from this examination that the teaching 67of Irenæus as to the relation of the Holy Spirit to the Incarnation is vague, perhaps even transitional. He does not, like Justin, plainly assert that the Spirit of God who came down upon the Virgin was the Word of God Himself; nor, on the other hand, does he definitely preclude that view. He seems to prefer to think of a cooperation of the Word of God and the Wisdom of God—the Two Hands of God to whom the creation of the first formed man was due.
O wisest love! that flesh and blood,
Which did in Adam fail,
Should strive afresh against the foe,
Should strive and should prevail.
And that a higher gift than grace
Should flesh and blood refine,
God’s presence and his very Self,
And Essence all-divine.
“So the Word was made flesh, that, through that very flesh which sin had ruled and dominated, it should lose its force and be no longer in us. And therefore our Lord took that same original formation as (His) entry into flesh, so that He might draw near and contend on behalf of the fathers, and conquer by Adam that which by Adam had stricken us down. Whence then is the substance of the first-formed (man)? From the Will and the Wisdom of God, and from the virgin earth. For God had not sent rain, the 68Scripture says, upon the earth, before man was made; and there was no man to till the earth. From this, then, whilst it was still virgin, God took dust of the earth and formed the man, the beginning of mankind. So then the Lord, summing up afresh this man, took the same dispensation of entry into flesh, being born from the Virgin by the Will and the Wisdom of God; that He also should show forth the likeness of Adam’s entry into flesh, and there should be that which was written in the beginning, man after the image and likeness of God.”
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