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Book V.—General Reply to Sundry of Marcion’s Heresies.16251625    I make no apology for the ruggedness of the versification and the obscurity of the sense in this book, further than to say that the state of the Latin text is such as to render it almost impossible to find any sense at all in many places, while the grammar and metre are not reducible to any known laws.  It is about the hardest and most uninteresting book of the five.

The first Book did the enemy’s words recall

In order, which the senseless renegade

Composed and put forth lawlessly; hence, too,

Touched briefly flesh’s hope, Christ’s victory,

5  And false ways’ speciousness.  The next doth teach

The Law’s conjoined mysteries, and what

In the new covenant the one God hath

Delivered.  The third shows the race, create

From freeborn mother, to be ministers

10  Sacred to seers and patriarchs;16261626    Or, “consecrated by seers and patriarchs.” whom Thou,

O Christ, in number twice six out of all,16271627    i.e., all the number of Thy disciples.

Chosest; and, with their names, the lustral16281628    Tempora lustri, i.e., apparently the times during which these “elders” (i.e., the bishops, of whom a list is given at the end of book iii.) held office.  “Lustrum” is used of other periods than it strictly implies, and this seems to give some sense to this difficult passage. times

Of our own elders noted, (times preserved

On record,) showing in whose days appeared

15  The author16291629    i.e., Marcion. of this wickedness, unknown,

Lawless, and roaming, cast forth16301630    i.e., excommunicated. with his brood.

The fourth, too, the piacular rites recalls

Of the old Law themselves, and shows them types

In which the Victim True appeared, by saints

20  Expected long since, with the holy Seed.

This fifth doth many twists and knots untie,

Rolls wholly into sight what ills soe’er

Were lurking; drawing arguments, but not

Without attesting prophet.

And although

25  With strong arms fortified we vanquish foes,

Yet hath the serpent mingled so at once

All things polluted, impious, unallowed,

Commaculate,—the blind’s path without light!

A voice contaminant!—that, all the while

30  We are contending the world’s Maker is

Himself sole God, who also spake by voice

Of seers, and proving that there is none else

Unknown; and, while pursuing Him with praise,

Who is by various endearment16311631    Complexu vario. known,

35  Are blaming—among other fallacies—

The Unknown’s tardy times:  our subject’s fault

Will scarce keep pure our tongue.  Yet, for all that,

Guile’s many hidden venoms us enforce

(Although with double risk16321632    Ancipiti quamquam cum crimine.  The last word seems almost ="discrimine;” just as our author uses “cerno” ="discerno.”) to ope our words.

40  Who, then, the God whom ye say is the true,

Unknown to peoples, alien, in a word,

To all the world?16331633    Mundo.  Him whom none knew before?

Came he from high?  If ’tis his own16341634    Cf. John i. 11, and see the Greek. he seeks,

Why seek so late?  If not his own, why rob

45  Bandit-like? and why ply with words unknown

So oft throughout Law’s rein a People still

Lingering ’neath the Law?  If, too, he comes

To pity and to succour all combined,

And to re-elevate men vanquisht quite

50  By death’s funereal weight, and to release

Spirit from flesh’s bond obscene, whereby

The inner man (iniquitously dwarfed)

Is held in check; why, then, so late appear

His ever-kindness, duteous vigilance?

55  How comes it that he ne’er at all before

Offered himself to any, but let slip

Poor souls in numbers?16351635    Whether this be the sense I know not.  The passage is a mass of confusion. and then with his mouth

Seeks to regain another’s subjects:  ne’er

Expected; not known; sent into the orb.

60  Seeking the “ewe” he had not lost before,

The Shepherd ought16361636    i.e., according to Marcion’s view. to have disrobed himself

Of flesh, as if his victor-self withal

Had ever been a spirit, and as such16371637    i.e., as spirits, like himself.

Willed to rescue all expelled souls,

16265  Without a body, everywhere, and leave

The spoiled flesh to earth; wholly to fill

The world16381638    Mundum. on one day equally with corpses

To leave the orb void; and to raise the souls

To heaven.  Then would human progeny

70  At once have ceased to be born; nor had

Thereafter any scion of your16391639    i.e., Marcionite. kith

Been born, or spread a new pest16401640    See book ii. 3. o’er the orb.

Or (since at that time16411641    i.e., apparently on the day of Christ’s resurrection. none of all these things

Is shown to have been done) he should have set

75  A bound to future race; with solid heart

Nuptial embraces would he, in that case

Have sated quite;16421642    Replesset, i.e., replevisset.  If this be the right reading, the meaning would seem to be, “would have taken away all further desire for” them, as satiety or repletion takes away all appetite for food.  One is almost inclined to hazard the suggestion “represset,” i.e., repressisset, “he would have repressed,” but that such a contraction would be irregular.  Yet, with an author who takes such liberties as the present one, perhaps that might not be a decisive objection. made men grow torpid, reft

Of fruitful seed; made irksome intercourse

With female sex; and closed up inwardly

80  The flesh’s organs genital:  our mind

Had had no will, no potent faculty

Our body:  after this the “inner man”

Could withal, joined with blood,16431643    “Junctus,” for the edd.’s “junctis,” which, if retained, will mean “in the case of beings still joined with (or to) blood.” have been infused

And cleaved to flesh, and would have ever been

85  Perishing.  Ever perishes the “ewe:”

And is there then no power of saving her?

Since man is ever being born beneath

Death’s doom, what is the Shepherd’s work, if thus

The “ewe” is stated16441644    “Docetur,” for the edd.’s “docentur.”  The sense seems to be, if there be any, exceedingly obscure; but for the idea of a half-salvation—the salvation of the “inner man” without the outer—being no salvation at all, and unworthy of “the Good Shepherd” and His work, we may compare the very difficult passage in the de Pudic., c. xiii. ad fin. to be found?  Unsought

90  In that case, but not rescued, she is proved.

But now choice is allowed of entering

Wedlock, as hath been ever; and that choice

Sure progeny hath yoked:  nations are born

And folk scarce numerable, at whose birth

95  Their souls by living bodies are received;

Nor was it meet that Paul (though, for the time,

He did exhort some few, discerning well

The many pressures of a straitened time)

To counsel men in like case to abide

100  As he himself:16451645    This sense, which I deduce from a transposition of one line and the supplying of the words “he did exhort,” which are not expressed, but seem necessary, in the original, agrees well with 1 Cor. vii., which is plainly the passage referred to.  for elsewhere he has bidden

The tender ages marry, nor defraud

Each other, but their compact’s dues discharge.

But say, whose suasion hath, with fraud astute,

Made you “abide,” and in divided love

105  Of offspring live secure, and commit crime

Adulterous, and lose your life? and, though

’Tis perishing, belie (by verbal name)

That fact.  For which cause all the so sweet sounds

Of his voice pours he forth, that “you must do,

110  Undaunted, whatsoever pleases you;”

Outwardly chaste, stealthily stained with crime!

Of honourable wedlock, by this plea,16461646    “Causa;” or perhaps “means.”  It is, of course, the French “chose.”

He hath deprived you.  But why more?  ’Tis well

(Forsooth) to be disjoined! for the world, too,

115  Expedient ’tis! lest any of your seed

Be born!  Then will death’s organs16471647    i.e., you and your like, through whom sin, and in consequence death, is disseminated. cease at length!

The while you hope salvation to retain,

Your “total man” quite loses part of man,

With mind profane:  but neither is man said

120  To be sole spirit, nor the flesh is called

“The old man;” nor unfriendly are the flesh

And spirit, the true man combined in one,

The inner, and he whom you call “old foe;”16481648    Here, again, for the sake of the sense, I have transposed a line.

Nor are they seen to have each his own set

125  Of senses.  One is ruled; the other rules,

Groans, joys, grieves, loves; himself16491649    i.e., “the other,” the “inner man,” or spirit. to his own flesh

Most dear, too; through which16501650    i.e., through flesh. his humanity

Is visible, with which commixt he is

Held ever:  to its wounds he care applies;

130  And pours forth tears; and nutriments of food

Takes, through its limbs, often and eagerly:

This hopes he to have ever with himself

Immortal; o’er its fracture doth he groan;

And grieves to quit it limb by limb:  fixt time

135  Death lords it o’er the unhappy flesh; that so

From light dust it may be renewed, and death

Unfriendly fail at length, when flesh, released,

Rises again.  This will that victory be

Supreme and long expected, wrought by Him,

140  The aye-to-be-revered, who did become

163True man; and by His Father’s virtue won:

Who man’s redeemed limbs unto the heavens

Hath raised,16511651    i.e., in His own person. and richly opened access up

Thither in hope, first to His nation; then

145  To those among all tongues in whom His work

Is ever doing:  Minister imbued

With His Sire’s parent-care, seen by the eye

Of the Illimitable, He performed,

By suffering, His missions.16521652    I hope I have succeeded in giving some intelligible sense; but the passage as it stands in the Latin is nearly hopeless.

What say now

150  The impious voices? what th’ abandoned crew?

If He Himself, God the Creator’s self,

Gave not the Law,16531653    I read “legem” for “leges.” He who from Egypt’s vale16541654    I read “valle” for “calle.”

Paved in the waves a path, and freely gave

The seats which He had said of old, why comes

155  He in that very People and that land

Aforesaid? and why rather sought He not

Some other16551655    Alios. peoples or some rival16561656    Altera. realms?

Why, further, did He teach that, through the seers,

(With Name foretold in full, yet not His own,)

160  He had been often sung of?  Whence, again,

Could He have issued baptism’s kindly gifts,

Promised by some one else, as His own works?

These gifts men who God’s mandates had transgressed,

And hence were found polluted, longed for,

165  And begged a pardoning rescue from fierce death.

Expected long, they16571657    i.e., “the gifts of baptism.” came:  but that to those

Who recognised them when erst heard, and now

Have recognised them, when in due time found,

Christ’s true hand is to give them, this, with voice

170  Paternal, the Creator-Sire Himself

Warns ever from eternity, and claims;

And thus the work of virtue which He framed,

And still frames, arms, and fosters, and doth now

Victorious look down on and reclothe

175  With His own light, should with perennial praise

Abide.16581658    This seems to give sense to a very obscure passage, in which I have been guided more by Migne’s pointing than by Oehler’s.

What16591659    I read here “quid” for “quod.” hath the Living Power done

To make men recognise what God can give

And man can suffer, and thus live?16601660    i.e., to make men live by recognising that.  Comp. the Psalmist’s prayer:  “Give me understanding and I shall live” (Ps. cxix. 144; in LXX., Ps. cxviii. 144).  But since

Neither predictions earlier nor facts

180  The latest can suede senseless frantic16611661    The “furentes” of Pam. and Rig. is preferred to Oehler’s “ferentes.” men

That God became a man, and (after He

Had suffered and been buried) rose; that they

May credit those so many witnesses

Harmonious,16621662    “Complexis,” lit. “embracing.” who of old did cry aloud

185  With heavenly word, let them both16631663    i.e., both Jews and Gentile heretics, the “senseless frantic men” just referred to probably:  or possibly the “ambo” may mean “both sects,” viz., the Marcionites and Manichees, against whom the writer whom Oehler supposes to be the probable author of these “Five Books,” Victorinus, a rhetorician of Marseilles, directed his efforts.  But it may again be the acc. neut. pl., and mean “let them”—i.e., the “senseless frantic men”—“learn to believe as to both facts,” i.e., the incarnation and the resurrection; (see vers. 179, 180;) “the testimony at least of human reason.” learn to trust

At least terrestrial reason.

When the Lord

Christ came to be, as flesh, born into the orb

In time of king Augustus’ reign at Rome,

First, by decree, the nations numbered are

190  By census everywhere:  this measure, then,

This same king chanced to pass, because the

Will

Supreme, in whose high reigning hand doth lie

The king’s heart, had impelled him:16641664    I would suggest here, for
   “…quia summa voluntas

   In cujus manu regnantis cor legibus esset,”

   something like this,

   “…quia summa voluntas,

   In cujus manu regnantis cor regis, egisset,”

   which would only add one more to our author’s false quantities.  “Regum egisset” would avoid even that, while it would give some sense.  Comp. Prov. xxi. 1.
  he was first

To do it, and the enrolment was reduced

195  To orderly arrangement.  Joseph then

Likewise, with his but just delivered wife

Mary,16651665    Maria cum conjuge feta.  What follows seems to decide the meaning of “feta,” as a child could hardly be included in a census before birth. with her celestial Son alike,

Themselves withal are numbered.  Let, then, such

As trust to instruments of human skill,

200  Who may (approving of applying them

As attestators of the holy word)

Inquire into this census, if it be

But found so as we say, then afterwards

Repent they and seek pardon while time still

205  Is had16661666    Again I have had to attempt to amend the text of the Latin in order to extract any sense, and am far from sure that I have extracted the right one.

164The Jews, who own16671667    “Fatentur,” unless our author use it passively ="are confessed.” to having wrought

A grave crime, while in our disparagement

They glow, and do resist us, neither call

Christ’s family unknown, nor can16681668    “Possunt,” i.e., probably “have the hardihood.” affirm

They hanged a man, who spake truth, on a tree:16691669    Because Christ plainly, as they understood Him, “made Himself the Son of God;” and hence, if they confessed that He had said the truth, and yet that they hanged Him on a tree, they would be pronouncing their own condemnation.

210  Ignorant that the Lord’s flesh which they bound16701670    “Vinctam” for “victam” I read here.

Was not seed-gendered.  But, while partially

They keep a reticence, so partially

They triumph; for they strive to represent

God to the peoples commonly as man.

215  Behold the error which o’ercomes you both!16711671    i.e., you and the Jews.  See above on 185.

This error will our cause assist, the while,

We prove to you those things which certain are.

They do deny Him God; you falsely call

Him man, a body bodiless! and ah!

220  A various insanity of mind

Sinks you; which him who hath presumed to hint

You both do, sinking, sprinkle:16721672    Quod qui præsumpsit mergentes spargitis ambo.  What the meaning is I know not, unless it be this:  if any one hints to you that you are in an error which is sinking you into perdition, you both join in trying to sink him (if “mergentes” be active; or “while you are sinking,” if neuter), and in sprinkling him with your doctrine (or besprinkling him with abuse).  for His deeds

Will then approve Him man alike and God

Commingled, and the world16731673    Mundus. will furnish signs

225  No few.

While then the Son Himself of God

Is seeking to regain the flesh’s limbs,16741674    “Dum carnis membra requirit,” i.e., seeking to regain for God all the limbs of the flesh as His instruments.  Comp. Rom. vi. 13, 19.

Already robed as King, He doth sustain

Blows from rude palms; with spitting covered is

His face; a thorn-inwoven crown His head

230  Pierces all round; and to the tree16751675    Ligno. Himself

Is fixed; wine drugged with myrrh,16761676    “Scriblita,” a curious word. is drunk, and gall16771677    Fel miscetur aceto.  The reading may have arisen—and it is not confined to our author—from confounding ὄξος with οἶνος.  Comp. Matt. xxvii. 33 with Mark xv. 23.

Is mixt with vinegar; parted His robe,16781678    This is an error, if the “coat” be meant.

And in it16791679    Perhaps for “in illa” we should read “in illam”—“on it,” for “in it.” lots are cast; what for himself

Each one hath seized he keeps; in murky gloom,

235  As God from fleshly body silently

Outbreathes His soul, in darkness trembling day

Took refuge with the sun; twice dawned one day;

Its centre black night covered:  from their base

Mounts move in circle, wholly moved was earth,

240  Saints’ sepulchres stood ope, and all things joined

In fear to see His passion whom they knew!

His lifeless side a soldier with bare spear

Pierces, and forth flows blood, nor water less

Thence followed.  These facts they16801680    The Jews. agree to hide,

245  And are unwilling the misdeed to own,

Willing to blink the crime.

Can spirit, then,

Without a body wear a robe? or is’t

Susceptible of penalty? the wound

Of violence does it bear? or die? or rise?

250  Is blood thence poured? from what flesh. since ye say

He had none? or else, rather, feigned He? if

’Tis safe for you to say so; though you do

(Headlong) so say, by passing over more

In silence.  Is not, then, faith manifest?

255  And are not all things fixed?  The day before

He then16811681    For “ante diem quam cum pateretur” I have read “qua tum.” should suffer, keeping Passover,

And handing down a memorable rite16821682    Or, “deed”—“factum.”

To His disciples, taking bread alike

And the vine’s juice, “My body, and My blood

260  Which is poured16831683    Or, “is being poured”—“funditur.” for you, this is,” did He say;

And bade it ever afterward be done.

Of what created elements were made,

Think ye, the bread and wine which were (He said)

His body with its blood? and what must be

265  Confessed?  Proved He not Himself the world’s16841684    Mundi.

Maker, through deeds? and that He bore at once

A body formed from flesh and blood?

This God

This true Man, too, the Father’s Virtue ’neath

An Image,16851685    I read with Migne, “Patris sub imagine virtus,” in preference to the conjecture which Oehler follows, “Christi sub imagine virtus.”  The reference seems clearly to be to Heb. i. 3. with the Father ever was,

270  United both in glory and in age;16861686    Ævo.  Perhaps here ="eternity.”

Because alone He ministers the words

Of the All-Holder; whom He16871687    i.e., “The All-Holder.” upon earth

Accepts;16881688    Capit. through whom He all things did create:

God’s Son, God’s dearest Minister, is He!

275  Hence hath He generation, hence Name too,

Hence, finally, a kingdom; Lord from Lord;

Stream from perennial Fount!  He, He it was

165Who to the holy fathers (whosoe’er

Among them doth profess to have “seen God”16891689    Cf. Jacob’s words in Gen. xxxii. 30; Manoah’s in Judg. xiii. 22; etc.)—

280  God is our witness—since the origin

Of this our world,16901690    Mundi. appearing, opened up

The Father’s words of promise and of charge

From heaven high:  He led the People out;

Smote through th’iniquitous nation; was Himself

285  The column both of light and of cloud’s shade;

And dried the sea; and bids the People go

Right through the waves, the foe therein involved

And covered with the flood and surge:  a way

Through deserts made He for the followers

290  Of His high biddings; sent down bread in showers16911691    For “dimisit in umbris” I read here “demisit in imbris.”  If we retain the former reading, it will then mean, “dispersed during the shades of night,” during which it was that the manna seems always to have fallen.

From heaven for the People; brake the rock;

Bedewed with wave the thirsty;16921692    “Sitientis” in Oehler must be a misprint for “sitientes.” and from God

The mandate of the Law to Moses spake

With thunder, trumpet-sound, and flamey column

295  Terrible to the sight, while men’s hearts shook.

After twice twenty years, with months complete,

Jordan was parted; a way oped; the wave

Stood in a mass; and the tribes shared the land,

Their fathers’ promised boons!  The Father’s word,

300  Speaking Himself by prophets’ mouth, that He16931693    There ought to be a “se” in the Latin if this be the meaning.

Would come to earth and be a man, He did

Predict; Christ manifestly to the earth

Foretelling.

Then, expected for our aid,

Life’s only Hope, the Cleanser of our flesh,16941694    For “Mundator carnis seræ” ="the Cleanser of late flesh” (which would seem, if it mean anything, to mean that the flesh had to wait long for its cleansing), I have read “carnis nostræ.”

305  Death’s Router, from th’ Almighty Sire’s empire

At length He came, and with our human limbs

He clothed Him.  Adam—virgin—dragon—tree,16951695    Lignum.

The cause of ruin, and the way whereby

Rash death us all had vanquisht! by the same

310  Our Shepherd treading, seeking to regain

His sheep—with angel—virgin—His own flesh—

And the “tree’s” remedy;16961696    I have followed the disjointed style of the Latin as closely as I could here. whence vanquisht man

And doomed to perish was aye wont to go

To meet his vanquisht peers; hence, interposed,

315  One in all captives’ room, He did sustain

In body the unfriendly penalty

With patience; by His own death spoiling death;

Becomes salvation’s cause; and, having paid

Throughly our debts by throughly suffering

320  On earth, in holy body, everything,

Seeks the infern! here souls, bound for their crime,

Which shut up all together by Law’s weight,

Without a guard,16971697    Here we seem to see the idea of the “limbus patrum.” were asking for the boons

Promised of old, hoped for, and tardy, He

325  To the saints’rest admitted, and, with light,

Brought back.  For on the third day mounting up,16981698    “Subiens” ="going beneath,” i.e., apparently coming beneath the walls of heaven.

A victor, with His body by His Sire’s

Virtue immense, (salvation’s pathway made,)

And bearing God and man is form create,

330  He clomb the heavens, leading back with Him

Captivity’s first-fruits (a welcome gift

And a dear figure16991699    i.e., a figure of the future harvest. to the Lord), and took

His seat beside light’s Father, and resumed

The virtue and the glory of which, while

335  He was engaged in vanquishing the foe

He had been stripped;17001700    I have hazarded the conjecture “minutus” here for the edd.’s “munitus.”  It adds one more, it is true, to our author’s false quantities, but that is a minor difficulty, while it improves (to my mind) the sense vastly. conjoined with Spirit; bound

With flesh, on our part.  Him, Lord, Christ, King, God,

Judgment and kingdom given to His hand,

The father is to send unto the orb.

————————————


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