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16. The judges said: Convertibility translates the person whom it befalls into another; as, for example, we might say that if a Jew were to make up his mind to become a Christian, or, on the other hand, if a Christian were to decide to be a Gentile, this would be a species of convertibility, and a cause of the same.15901590    The text runs thus: “ut si dicamus, Judæus, si velit fieri Christianus, aut si Christianus velit esse gentilis, hæc species est convertibilitatis et causa.” But, again, if we suppose a Gentile to keep by all his own heathen properties, and to offer sacrifices to his gods, and to do service to the temples as usual, surely you would not be of opinion that he could be said to be converted, while he yet holds by his properties, and goes on in them? What, then, do you say? Do they sustain convertibility or not? And as Manes hesitated, Archelaus proceeded thus: If, indeed, he says that both natures are convertible,15911591    The text gives convertibiles. Routh suggests inconvertibiles, inconvertible. what is there to prevent our thinking them to be one and the same object? For if they are inconvertible, then surely in natures which are similarly inconvertible and similarly unbegotten there is no distinction, neither can the one of them be recognised as good or as evil. But if they are both convertible, then, forsooth, the possible result may be both that the good is made evil, and that the evil is made good. If, however, this is the possible result, why should we not speak of one only as unbegotten,15921592    The text is unum dicamus ingenitum. Routh suggests unum bonum, etc. = Why should we not speak of only one unbegotten good? which would be a conception in worthier accordance with the reckoning of truth? For we have to consider how that evil one became so at first, or against what objects he exercised his wickedness before the formation of the world. When the heavens had not yet appeared, when the earth did not yet subsist, and when there was neither man nor animal, against whom did he put his wickedness in operation? whom did he oppress unjustly? whom did he rob and kill? But if you say that he first appeared in his evil nature to his own kin,15931593    The text is, “quod si suis eum dicas extitisse malum, sine dubio ergo ostenditur illum bonæ esse naturæ.” Routh suggests, “quia istis suis adversatur qui mali sunt,” etc. = The fact that he is adverse to those who are of his own kin, and who are evil, would be a proof that he comes of a good nature. then without doubt you give the proof that he comes of a good nature. And if, again, all these are also evil, how can Satan then cast out Satan?15941594    Mark iii. 23. But while thus reduced to a dilemma on this point, you may change your position in the discussion, and say that the good suffered violence from the evil. But none the more is it without peril for you to make such a statement, to the effect of affirming the vanquishing of the light; for what is vanquished has destruction near it.15951595    Or, kin to it, vicinum habet interitum. For what says the divine word? “Who can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he be stronger than he?”15961596    Mark iii. 27. But if you allege that he first appeared in his evil nature to men, and only from that time showed openly the marks of his wickedness, then it follows that before this time he was good, and that he took on this quality of conversion because the creation of man15971597    The text is, “creati hominis causa invenitur exstitisse malitiæ,” for which we read “creatio hominis,” etc. was found to have emerged as the cause of his wickedness. But, in fine, let him tell us what he understands by evil, lest perchance he may be defending or setting up a mere name. And if it is not the name but the substance of evil that he speaks of, then let him set before us the fruits of this wickedness and iniquity, since the nature of a tree can never be known but by its fruit.


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