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Chapter XXIV.—Valentinus Convicted of Plagiarisms from the Platonic and Pythagoric Philosophy; The Valentinian Theory of Emanation by Duads.

Of some such nature, as I who have accurately examined their systems (have attempted) to state compendiously, is the opinion of Pythagoras and Plato. And from this (system), not from the Gospels, Valentinus, as we have proved, has collected the (materials of) heresy—I mean his own (heresy)—and may (therefore) justly be reckoned a Pythagorean and Platonist, not a Christian. Valentinus, therefore, and Heracleon, and Ptolemæus, and the entire school of these (heretics), as disciples of Pythagoras and Plato, (and) following these guides, have laid down as a fundamental principle of their doctrine the arithmetical system. For, likewise, according to these (Valentinians), the originating cause of the universe is a Monad, unbegotten, imperishable, incomprehensible, inconceivable, productive, and a cause of the generation of all existent things. And the aforesaid Monad is styled by them Father. There is, however, discoverable among them some considerable diversity of opinion. For some of them, in order that the Pythagorean doctrine of Valentinus may be altogether free from admixture (with other tenets), suppose that the Father is unfeminine, and unwedded, and solitary. But others, imagining it to be impossible that from a male only there could proceed a generation at all of any of those things that have been made to exist, necessarily reckon along with the Father of the universe, in order that he may be a father, Sige as a spouse. But as to Sige, whether at any time she is united in marriage (to the Father) or not, this is a point which we leave them to wrangle about among themselves. We at present, keeping to the Pythagorean principle, which is one, and unwedded, unfeminine, (and) deficient in nothing, shall proceed to give an account of their doctrines, as they themselves inculcate them.  There is, says (Valentinus), not anything at all begotten, but the Father is alone unbegotten, not subject to the condition of place, not (subject to the condition of) time, having no counsellor, (and) not being any other substance that could be realized according to the ordinary methods of perception. (The Father,) however, was solitary, subsisting, as they say, in a state of quietude, and Himself reposing in isolation within Himself. When, however, He became productive,672672    Valentinus’ system, if purged of the glosses put upon it by his disciples, appears to have been constructed out of a grand conception of Deity, and evidences much power of abstraction. Between the essence of God, dwelling in the midst of isolation prior to an exercise of the creative energy, and the material worlds, Valentinus interposes an ideal world. Through the latter, the soul—of a kindred nature—is enabled to mount up to God. This is the import of the terms Bythus (depth) and Sige (silence, i.e., solitariness) afterwards used. it seemed to Him expedient at one time to generate and lead forth the most beautiful and perfect (of those germs of existence) which He possessed within Himself, for (the Father) was not fond of solitariness. For, says he, He was all love, but love is not love except there may be some object of affection. The Father Himself, then, as He was solitary, projected and produced Nous and Aletheia, that is, a duad which became mistress,673673    κυρία: instead of this has been suggested the reading καὶ ῥιζα, i.e., “which is both the root,” etc. and origin, and mother of all the Æons computed by them (as existing) within the Pleroma. Nous and Aletheia being projected from the Father,674674    In all this Valentinus intends to delineate the progress from absolute to phenomenal being. There are three developments in this transition. Absolute being (Bythus and Sige) is the same as the eternal thought and consciousness of God’s own essence.  Here we have the primary emanation, viz., Nous, i.e., Mind (called also Monogenes, only-begotten), and Aletheia, i.e., Truth. Next comes the ideal manifestation through the Logos, i.e., Word (obviously borrowed from the prologue to St. John’s Gospel), and Zoe, i.e., Life (taken from the same source). We have then the passage from the ideal to the actual in Anthropos, i.e., Man, and Ecclesia, i.e., Church. These last are the phenomenal manifestations of the divine mind. one capable of continuing generation, deriving existence from a productive being, (Nous) himself likewise, in imitation of the Father, projected Logos and Zoe; and Logos and Zoe project Anthropos and Ecclesia. But Nous and Aletheia, when they beheld that their own offspring had been born productive, returned thanks to the Father of the universe, and offer unto Him a perfect number, viz., ten Æons. For, he says, Nous and Aletheia could not offer unto the Father a more perfect (one) than this number. For the Father, who is perfect, ought to be celebrated by a perfect number, and ten is a perfect number, because this is first of those (numbers) that are formed by plurality, (and therefore) perfect.675675    τέλειος: Bunsen would read τέλος, which Cruice objects to on account of the word τελειότερος occurring in the next sentence. The Father, however, being more perfect, because being alone unbegotten, by means of the one primary conjugal union of Nous and Aletheia, found means of projecting all the roots of existent things.


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