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Chapter II.—Docetic Notion of the Incarnation; Their Doctrines of Æons; Their Account of Creation; Their Notion of a Fiery God.

And these (heretics) suppose that this is what is spoken by the Saviour: “A sower went forth to sow; and that which fell on the fair and good ground produced, some a hundred-fold, and some sixty-fold, and some thirty-fold.”912912    Matt. xiii. 3–8; Mark iv. 3–8; Luke viii. 5–8. And for this reason, the (Docetic) says, (that the Saviour) has spoken the words, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,” because these (truths)are not altogether rumours. All these Æons, both the three and all those infinite (Æons which proceed) from these indefinitely, are hermaphrodite Æons. All these, then, after they had been increased and magnified, and had sprung from that one primary seed, (were actuated by a spirit) of concord and union, and they all coalesced into one Æon. And in this manner they begot of a single virgin, Mary,913913    The word Mary seems interpolated. Miller’s text reads it after ἐν μεσότητι. The passage would then be rendered thus: “that is, Him who through the intervention of Mary (has been born into the world) the Saviour of all.” a joint offspring, who is a Mediator, (that is,) the Saviour of all who are in the (covenant of) mediation. (And this Saviour is,) in every respect, coequal in power with the seed of the fig-tree, with the exception that he was generated. Whereas that primary seed, from whence the fig-tree sprung, is unbegotten. When, therefore, those three Æons were adorned with all virtue and with all sanctity, so these teachers suppose, as well as that only begotten child—for he alone was begotten by those infinite Æons from three immediately concerned in his birth, for three immeasurable Æons being unanimous procreated him;—(after, I say, the Æons and only Son were thus adorned,) the entire nature, which is cognised by intellect, was fashioned free from deficiency. Now, all those intelligible and eternal (entities) constituted light. Light, however, was not devoid of form, nor inoperative, nor in want, as it were, of the assistance of any (other power). But (light) proportionately with the multitude of those infinite (Æons) indefinitely (generated) in conformity with the exemplar of the fig-tree, possesses in itself infinite species of various animals indigenous to that quarter of creation, and it shone down upon the underlying chaos. And when this (chaos) was simultaneously illuminated, and had form imparted to it by those diversified species from above, it derived (thereby) solidity, and acquired all those supernal species from the third Æon, who had made himself threefold.

This third Æon, however, beholding all his own distinctive attributes laid hold on collectively by the underlying darkness (which was) beneath, and not being ignorant of the power of darkness, and at the same time of the security914914    Τὸ ἀσφαλὲς: Cruice reads, on the authority of Bernays, ἀφελὲς, i.e., the simplicity. and profusion of light, did not allow his brilliant attributes (which he derived) from above for any length of time to be snatched away by the darkness beneath. But (he acted in quite a contrary manner), for he subjected (darkness) to the Æons. After, then, he had formed the 119firmament over the nether world, “he both divided the darkness from the light, and called the light which was above the firmament day, and the darkness he called night.”915915    Gen. i. 4, 5, 7. When all the infinite species, then, as I have said, of the third Æon were intercepted in this the lowest darkness, the figure also of the Æon himself, such as he has been described, was impressed (upon them) along with the rest (of his attributes). (Now this figure is) a life-giving fire, which is generated from light, from whence the Great Archon originated. And respecting this (Archon) Moses observes: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”916916    Gen. i. 1. Moses mentions917917    Ex. iii. 2. this fiery God as having spoken from the bush,918918    The Docetæ here attempted to substantiate their system from Scripture by a play upon words. (batos,) that is, from the darkish air. For the whole of the atmosphere that underlies the darkness is (batos, i.e.,) a medium for the transmission of light. Now Moses has employed, says (the Docetic), the expression batos, because all the species of light pass down from above by means of their having the atmosphere as a medium (batos) of transmission. And in no less degree is capable of being recognised the Word of Jehovah addressed to us from the bush (batos, i.e., an atmospheric medium); for voice, as significant (in language) of a meaning, is a reverberation of air, and without this (atmosphere) human speech is incapable of being recognised. And not only the Word (of Jehovah addressed) to us from the bush (batos), that is, the air, legislates and is a fellow-citizen with (us); but (it does more than this), for both odours and colours manifest to us, through the medium of air, their own (peculiar) qualities.

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