« Prev Of the Divine Unity, and the Resurrection of the… Next »

1425.  Five Books in Reply to Marcion.

(Author Uncertain.)

Book I.—Of the Divine Unity, and the Resurrection of the Flesh.

Part I.—Of the Divine Unity.

After the Evil One’s impiety

Profound, and his life-grudging mind, entrapped

Seducèd men with empty hope, it laid

Them bare, by impious suasion to false trust

5  In him,—not with impunity, indeed;

For he forthwith, as guilty of the deed,

And author rash of such a wickedness,

Received deserved maledictions.  Thus,

Thereafter, maddened, he, most desperate foe,

10  Did more assail and instigate men’s minds

In darkness sunk.  He taught them to forget

The Lord, and leave sure hope, and idols vain

Follow, and shape themselves a crowd of gods,

Lots, auguries, false names of stars, the show

15  Of being able to o’errule the births

Of embryos by inspecting entrails, and

Expecting things to come, by hardihood

Of dreadful magic’s renegadoes led,

Wondering at a mass of feigned lore;

20  And he impelled them headlong to spurn life,

Sunk in a criminal insanity;

To joy in blood; to threaten murders fell;

To love the wound, then, in their neighbour’s flesh;

Or, burning, and by pleasure’s heat entrapped,

25  To transgress nature’s covenants, and stain

Pure bodies, manly sex, with an embrace

Unnameable, and uses feminine

Mingled in common contact lawlessly;

Urging embraces chaste, and dedicate

30  To generative duties, to be held

For intercourse obscene for passion’s sake.

Such in time past his deeds, assaulting men,

Through the soul’s lurking-places, with a flow

Of scorpion-venom,—not that men would blame

35  Him, for they followed of their own accord:

His suasion was in guile; in freedom man

Performed it.

Whileas the perfidious one

Continuously through the centuries13451345    Sæcula.

Is breathing such ill fumes, and into hearts

40  Seduced injecting his own counselling

And hoping in his folly (alas!) to find

Forgiveness of his wickedness, unware

What sentence on his deed is waiting him;

With words of wisdom’s weaving,13461346    The “tectis” of the edd. I have ventured to alter to “textis,” which gives (as in my text) a far better sense. and a voice

45  Presaging from God’s Spirit, speak a host

Of prophets.  Publicly he13471347    i.e., the Evil One. does not dare

Nakedly to speak evil of the Lord,

Hoping by secret ingenuity

He possibly may lurk unseen.  At length

50  The soul’s Light13481348    i.e., the Son of God. as the thrall of flesh is held;

The hope of the despairing, mightier

Than foe, enters the lists; the Fashioner,

The Renovator, of the body He;

True Glory of the Father; Son of God;

55  Author unique; a Judge and Lord He came,

The orb’s renowned King; to the opprest

Prompt to give pardon, and to loose the bound;

Whose friendly aid and penal suffering

Blend God and renewed man in one.  With child

60  Is holy virgin:  life’s new gate opes; words

Of prophets find their proof, fulfilled by facts;

Priests13491349    i.e., the Magi. leave their temples, and—a star their guide—

Wonder the Lord so mean a birth should choose.

Waters—sight memorable!—turn to wine;

65  Eyes are restored to blind; fiends trembling cry,

Outdriven by His bidding, and own Christ!

All limbs, already rotting, by a word

Are healed; now walks the lame; the deaf forthwith

Hears hope; the maimed extends his hand; the dumb

70  Speaks mighty words:  sea at His bidding calms,

Winds drop; and all things recognise the Lord:

Confounded is the foe, and yields, though fierce,

Now triumphed over, to unequal13501350    i.e., arms which seemed unequal; for the cross, in which Christ seemed to be vanquished, was the very means of His triumph.  See Col. ii. 14, 15. arms!

When all his enterprises now revoked

75  He13511351    i.e., the Enemy. sees; the flesh, once into ruin sunk,

143Now rising; man—death vanquisht quite—to heavens

Soaring; the peoples sealed with holy pledge

Outpoured;13521352    i.e., with the Holy Spirit, the “Pledge” or “Promise” of the Father (see Acts i. 4, 5), “outpoured” upon “the peoples”—both Jewish and Gentile—on the day of Pentecost and many subsequent occasions; see, for instances, Acts x. and xix. the work and envied deeds of might

Marvellous;13531353    The “mirandæ virtutis opus, invisaque facts,” I take to be the miracles wrought by the apostles through the might (virtus) of the Spirit, as we read in the Acts.  These were objects of “envy” to the Enemy, and to such as—like Simon Magus, of whom we find record—were his servants. and hears, too, of penalties

80  Extreme, and of perpetual dark, prepared

For himself by the Lord by God’s decree

Irrevocable; naked and unarmed,

Damned, vanquisht, doomed to perish in a death

Perennial, guilty now, and sure that he

85  No pardon has, a last impiety

Forthwith he dares,—to scatter everywhere

A word for ears to shudder at, nor meet

For voice to speak.  Accosting men cast off

From God’s community,13541354    i.e., excommunicated, as Marcion was.  The “last impiety” (extremum nefas), or “last atrocity” (extremum facinus),—see 218, lower down—seems to mean the introduction of heretical teaching. men wandering

90  Without the light, found mindless, following

Things earthly, them he teaches to become

Depraved teachers of depravity.

By13551355    This use of the ablative, though quite against classical usage, is apparently admissible in late Latinity.  It seems to me that the “his” is an ablative here, the men being regarded for the moment as merely instruments, not agents; but it may be a dative ="to these he preaches,” etc., i.e., he dictates to them what they afterwards are to teach in public. them he preaches that there are two Sires,

And realms divided:  ill’s cause is the Lord13561356    It must be borne in mind that “Dominus” (the Lord), and “Deus” (God), are kept as distinct terms throughout this piece.

95  Who built the orb, fashioned breath-quickened flesh,

And gave the law, and by the seers’ voice spake.

Him he affirms not good, but owns Him just;

Hard, cruel, taking pleasure fell in war;

In judgment dreadful, pliant to no prayers.

100  His suasion tells of other one, to none

E’er known, who nowhere is, a deity

False, nameless, constituting nought, and who

Hath spoken precepts none.  Him he calls good;

Who judges none, but spares all equally,

105  And grudges life to none.  No judgment waits

The guilty; so he says, bearing about

A gory poison with sweet honey mixt

For wretched men.  That flesh can rise—to which

Himself was cause of ruin, which he spoiled

110  Iniquitously with contempt (whence,13571357    i.e., for which reason. cursed,

He hath grief without end), its ever-foe,—

He doth deny; because with various wound

Life to expel and the salvation whence

He fell he strives:  and therefore says that Christ

115  Came suddenly to earth,13581358    i.e., as Marcion is stated by some to have taught, in the fifteenth year of Tiberius; founding his statement upon a perverted reading of Luke iii. 1.  It will be remembered that Marcion only used St. Luke’s Gospel, and that in a mutilated and corrupted form. but was not made,

By any compact, partner of the flesh;

But Spirit-form, and body feigned beneath

A shape imaginary, seeks to mock

Men with a semblance that what is not is.

120  Does this, then, become God, to sport with men

By darkness led? to act an impious lie?

Or falsely call Himself a man?  He walks,

Is carried, clothed, takes due rest, handled is,

Suffers, is hung and buried:  man’s are all

125  Deeds which, in holy body conversant,

But sent by God the Father, who hath all

Created, He did perfect properly,

Reclaiming not another’s but His own;

Discernible to peoples who of old

130  Were hoping for Him by His very work,

And through the prophets’ voice to the round world13591359    Orbi.

Best known:  and now they seek an unknown Lord,

Wandering in death’s threshold manifest,

And leave behind the known.  False is their faith,

135  False is their God, deceptive their reward,

False is their resurrection, death’s defeat

False, vain their martyrdoms, and e’en Christ’s name

An empty sound:  whom, teaching that He came

Like magic mist, they (quite demented) own

140  To be the actor of a lie, and make

His passion bootless, and the populace13601360    i.e., of the Jews.

(A feigned one!) without crime!  Is God thus true?

Are such the honours rendered to the Lord?

Ah! wretched men! gratuitously lost

145  In death ungrateful!  Who, by blind guide led,

Have headlong rushed into the ditch!13611361    “In fossa,” i.e., as Fabricius (quoted in Migne’s ed.) explains it, “in defossa.”  It is the past part. of fodio. and as

In dreams the fancied rich man in his store

Of treasure doth exult, and with his hands

Grasps it, the sport of empty hope, so ye, so

150  Deceived, are hoping for a shadow vain

Of guerdon!

Ah! ye silent laughingstocks,

Or doomed prey, of the dragon, do ye hope,

144Stern men, for death in room of gentle peace?13621362    If this line be correct,—“Speratis pro pace truces homicidia blanda,”—though I cannot see the propriety of the “truces” in it, it seems to mean, “Do ye hope or expect that the master you are serving will, instead of the gentle peace he promises you, prove a murderer and lead you to death?  No, you do not expect it; but so it is.”

Dare ye blame God, who hath works

155  So great? in whose earth, ’mid profuse displays

Of His exceeding parent-care, His gifts

(Unmindful of Himself!) ye largely praise,

Rushing to ruin! do ye reprobate—

Approving of the works—the Maker’s self,

160  The world’s13631363    Mundi. Artificer, whose work withal

Ye are yourselves?  Who gave those little selves

Great honours; sowed your crops; made all the brutes13641364    Animalia.

Your subjects; makes the seasons of the year

Fruitful with stated months; grants sweetnesses,

165  Drinks various, rich odours, jocund flowers,

And the groves’ grateful bowers; to growing herbs

Grants wondrous juices; founts and streams dispreads

With sweet waves, and illumes with stars the sky

And the whole orb:  the infinite sole Lord,

170  Both Just and Good; known by His work; to none

By aspect known; whom nations, flourishing

In wealth, but foolish, wrapped in error’s shroud,

(Albeit ’tis beneath an alien name

They praise Him, yet) their Maker knowing! dread

175  To blame:  nor e’en one13651365    The sentence breaks off abruptly, and the verb which should apparently have gone with “e’en one” is joined to the “ye” in the next line.—save you, hell’s new gate!—

Thankless, ye choose to speak ill of your Lord!

These cruel deadly gifts the Renegade

Terrible has bestowed, through Marcion—thanks

To Cerdo’s mastership—on you; nor comes

180  The thought into your mind that, from Christ’s name

Seduced, Marcion’s name has carried you

To lowest depths.13661366    The Latin is:—
   “Nec venit in mentem quod vos, a nomine Christi

   Seductos, ad Marcionis tulit infima nomen.”

   The rendering in my text, I admit, involves an exceedingly harsh construction of the Latin, but I see not how it is to be avoided; unless either (1) we take nomen absolutely, and “ad Marcionis infima” together, and translate, “A name has carried you to Marcion’s lowest depths;” in which case the question arises, What name is meant? can it be the name “Electi”?  Or else (2) we take “tulit” as referring to the “terrible renegade,” i.e., the arch-fiend, and “infima” as in apposition with “ad Marcionis nomen,” and translate, “He has carried you to the name of Marcion—deepest degradation.”
  Say of His many acts

What one displeases you? or what hath God

Done which is not to be extolled with praise?

185  Is it that He permits you, all too long,

(Unworthy of His patience large,) to see

Sweet light? you, who read truths,13671367    i.e., the Gospels and other parts of Holy Scripture. and, docking them,

Teach these your falsehoods, and approve as past

Things which are yet to be?13681368    i.e., I take it, the resurrection.  Cf. 2 Tim. ii. 17, 18.  What hinders, else,

190  That we believe your God incredible?13691369    Whether this be the sense (i.e., “either tell us what it is which displeases you in our God, whether it be His too great patience in bearing with you, or what; or else tell us what is to hinder us from believing your God to be an incredible being”) of this passage, I will not venture to determine.  The last line in the edd. previous to Oehler’s ran:  “Aut incredibile quid differt credere vestrum?”  Oehler reads “incredibilem” (sc. Deum), which I have followed; but he suggests, “Aut incredibilem qui differt cædere vestrum?”  Which may mean “or else”—i.e., if it were not for his “too great patience”—“why”—“qui”—“does He delay to smite your incredible god?” and thus challenge a contest and prove His own superiority.

Nor marvel is’t if, practiced as he13701370    i.e., the “terrible renegade.” is,

He captived you unarmed, persuading you

There are two Fathers (being damned by One),

And all, whom he had erst seduced, are gods;

195  And after that dispread a pest, which ran

With multiplying wound, and cureless crime,

To many.  Men unworthy to be named,

Full of all magic’s madness, he induced

To call themselves “Virtue Supreme;” and feign

200  (With harlot comrade) fresh impiety;

To roam, to fly.13711371    The reference here is to Simon Magus; for a brief account of whom, and of the other heretics in this list, down to Hebion inclusive, the reader is referred to the Adv. omn. Hær., above.  The words “to roam, to fly,” refer to the alleged wanderings of Simon with his paramour Helen, and his reported attempt (at Rome, in the presence of St. Peter) to fly.  The tale is doubtful.  He is the insane god

Of Valentine, and to his Æonage

Assigned heavens thirty, and Profundity

Their sire.13721372    The Latin runs thus:—
   “Et ævo

   Triginta tribuit cælos, patremque Profundum.”

   But there seems a confusion between Valentine and his æons and Basilides and his heavens.  See the Adv. omn. Hær., above.
  He taught two baptisms, and led

205  The body through the flame.  That there are gods

So many as the year hath days, he bade

A Basilides to believe, and worlds

As many.  Marcus, shrewdly arguing

Through numbers, taught to violate chaste form

210  ’Mid magic’s arts; taught, too, that the Lord’s cup

Is an oblation, and by prayers is turned

To blood.  His13731373    i.e., the Evil One’s, as before. suasion prompted Hebion

To teach that Christ was born from human seed;

145He taught, too, circumcision, and that room

215  Is still left for the Law, and, though Law’s founts

Are lost,13741374    i.e., probably Jerusalem and the temple there. its elements must be resumed.

Unwilling am I to protract in words

His last atrocity, or to tell all

The causes, or the names at length.  Enough

220  It is to note his many cruelties

Briefly, and the unmentionable men,

The dragon’s organs fell, through whom he now,

Speaking so much profaneness, ever toils

To blame the Maker of the world.13751375    Mundi.  But come;

225  Recall your foot from savage Bandit’s cave,

While space is granted, and to wretched men

God, patient in perennial parent-love,

Condones all deeds through error done!  Believe

Truly in the true Sire, who built the orb;

230  Who, on behalf of men incapable

To bear the law, sunk in sin’s whirlpool, sent

The true Lord to repair the ruin wrought,

And bring them the salvation promised

Of old through seers.  He who the mandates gave

235  Remits sins too.  Somewhat, deservedly,

Doth He exact, because He formerly

Entrusted somewhat; or else bounteously,

As Lord, condones as it were debts to slaves:

Finally, peoples shut up ’neath the curse,

240  And meriting the penalty, Himself

Deleting the indictment, bids be washed!

Part II.—Of the Resurrection of the Flesh.

The whole man, then, believes; the whole is washed;

Abstains from sin, or truly suffers wounds

For Christ’s name’s sake:  he rises a true13761376    Oehler’s “versus” (="changed the man rises”) is set aside for Migne’s “verus.”  Indeed it is probably a misprint. man,

245  Death, truly vanquish, shall be mute.  But not

Part of the man,—his soul,—her own part13771377    i.e., her own dwelling or “quarters,”—the body, to wit, if the reading “sua parte” be correct. left

Behind, will win the palm which, labouring

And wrestling in the course, combinedly

And simultaneously with flesh, she earns.

250  Great crime it were for two in chains to bear

A weight, of whom the one were affluent

The other needy, and the wretched one

Be spurned, and guerdons to the happy one

Rendered.  Not so the Just—fair Renderer

255  Of wages—deals, both good and just, whom we

Believe Almighty:  to the thankless kind

Full is His will of pity.  Nay, whate’er

He who hath greater mortal need13781378    Egestas. doth need13791379    Eget.

That, by advancement, to his comrade he

260  May equalled be, that will the affluent

Bestow the rather unsolicited:

So are we bidden to believe, and not

Be willing to cast blame unlawfully

On the Lord in our teaching, as if He

265  Were one to raise the soul, as having met

With ruin, and to set her free from death

So that the granted faculty of life

Upon the ground of sole desert (because

She bravely acted), should abide with her;13801380    I have ventured to alter the “et viventi” of Oehler and Migne into “ut vivendi,” which seems to improve the sense.

270  While she who ever shared the common lot

Of toil, the flesh, should to the earth be left,

The prey of a perennial death.  Has, then,

The soul pleased God by acts of fortitude?

By no means could she Him have pleased alone

275  Without the flesh.  Hath she borne penal bonds?13811381    It seems to me that these ideas should all be expressed interrogatively, and I have therefore so expressed them in my text.

The flesh sustained upon her limbs the bonds.

Contemned she death?  But she hath left the flesh

Behind in death.  Groaned she in pain?

The flesh is slain and vanquisht by the wound.  Repose

280  Seeks she?  The flesh, spilt by the sword in dust,

Is left behind to fishes, birds, decay,

And ashes; torn she is, unhappy one!

And broken; scattered, she melts away.

Hath she not earned to rise? for what could she

285  Have e’er committed, lifeless and alone?

What so life-grudging13821382    See line 2. cause impedes, or else

Forbids, the flesh to take God’s gifts, and live

Ever, conjoined with her comrade soul,

And see what she hath been, when formerly

290  Converted into dust?13831383    “Cernere quid fuerit conversa in pulvere quondam.”
   Whether the meaning be that, as the soul will be able (as it should seem) to retrace all that she has experienced since she left the body, so the body, when revived, will be able as it were to look back upon all that has happened to her since the soul left her,—something after the manner in which Hamlet traces the imaginary vicissitudes of Cæsar’s dust,—or whether there be some great error in the Latin, I leave the reader to judge.
  After, renewed,

Bear she to God deserved meeds of praise,

Not ignorant of herself, frail, mortal, sick.13841384    i.e., apparently remembering that she was so before.

Contend ye as to what the living might13851385    Vivida virtus.

146Of the great God can do; who, good alike

295  And potent, grudges life to none?  Was this

Death’s captive?13861386    I rather incline to read for “hæc captiva fuit mortis,” “hæc captiva fuat mortis” =
   “Is this

   To be death’s thrall?”

   “This” is, of course, the flesh.
shall this perish vanquished

Which the Lord hath with wondrous wisdom made,

And art?  This by His virtue wonderful

Himself upraises; this our Leader’s self

300  Recalls, and this with His own glory clothes

God’s art and wisdom, then, our body shaped

What can by these be made, how faileth it

To be by virtue reproduced?13871387    For “Quod cupit his fieri, deest hoc virtute reduci,” I venture to read, “Quod capit,” etc., taking “capit” as ="capax est.”  “By these,” of course, is by wisdom and art; and “virtue” ="power.”  No cause

Can holy parent-love withstand; (lest else

305  Ill’s cause13881388    i.e., the Evil One. should mightier prove than Power Supreme;)

That man even now saved by God’s gift, may learn13891389    i.e., may learn to know.

(Mortal before, now robed in light immense

Inviolable, wholly quickened,13901390    Oehler’s “visus” seems to be a mistake for “vivus,” which is Migne’s reading; as in the fragment “De exsecrandis gentium diis,” we saw (sub. fin.) “videntem” to be a probable misprint for “viventem.”  If, however, it is to be retained, it must mean “appearing” (i.e., in presence of God) “wholly,” in body as well as soul. soul

And body) God, in virtue infinite,

310  In parent-love perennial, through His King

Christ, through whom opened is light’s way; and now,

Standing in new light, filled now with each gift,13911391    i.e., the double gift of a saved soul and a saved body.

Glad with fair fruits of living Paradise,

May praise and laud Him to eternity,13921392    In æternum.

315  Rich in the wealth of the celestial hall.


« Prev Of the Divine Unity, and the Resurrection of the… Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |