History of Dogma, Volume 1 (of 7)
by Adolph Harnack
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[Footnote 247: On the further use of the word [Greek: theos] in antiquity, see above, Sec. 8, p. 120 f.; the formula "[Greek: theos ek theou]" for Augustus, even 24 years before Christ's birth; on the formula "dominus ac deus", see John XX. 28; the interchange of these concepts in many passages beside one another in the anonymous writer (Euseb. H. E. V. 28. 11). Domitian first allowed himself to be called "dominus ac deus." Tertullian, Apol. 10. 11, is very instructive as to the general situation in the second century. Here are brought forward the different causes which then moved men, the cultured and the uncultured, to give to this or that personality the predicate of Divinity. In the third century the designation of "dominus ac deus noster" for Christ, was very common, especially in the west (see Cyprian, Pseudo-Cyprian, Novatian; in the Latin Martyrology a Greek [Greek: ho kurios] is also frequently so translated). But only at this time had the designation come to be in actual use even for the Emperor. It seems at first sight to follow from the statements of Celsus (in Orig. c. Cels. III. 22-43) that this Greek had and required a very strict conception of the Godhead; but his whole work shews how little that was really the case. The reference to these facts of the history of the time is not made with the view of discovering the "theologia Christi" itself in its ultimate roots—these roots lie elsewhere, in the person of Christ and Christian experience; but that this experience, before any technical reflection, had so easily and so surely substituted the new formula instead of the idea of Messiah, can hardly be explained without reference to the general religious ideas of the time.]

[Footnote 248: The combination of [Greek: theos] and [Greek: soter] in the Pastoral Epistles is very important. The two passages in the New Testament in which perhaps a direct "theologia Christi" may be recognised, contain likewise the concept [Greek: soter]; see Tit. II. 13; [Greek: prosdechomenoi ten makarian elpida kai epiphaneian tes doxes tou megalou theou kai soteros hemon Christou Iesou] (cf. Abbot, Journal of the Society of Bibl. Lit., and Exeg. 1881. June. p. 3 sq.): 2 Pet. I. 1: [Greek: en dikaiosunei tou theou hemon kai soteros 'I. Chr.]. In both cases the [Greek: hemon] should be specially noted. Besides, [Greek: theos soter] is also an ancient formula.]

[Footnote 249: A very ancient formula ran "[Greek: theos kai theos huios]" see Cels. ap. Orig II. 30; Justin, frequently: Alterc. Sim. et Theoph. 4, etc. The formula is equivalent to [Greek: theos monogenes] (see Joh. I. 18).]

[Footnote 250: Such conceptions are found side by side in the same writer. See, for example, the second Epistle of Clement, and even the first.]

[Footnote 251: See Sec. 6, p. 120. The idea of a [Greek: theopoiesis] was as common as that of the appearances of the gods. In wide circles, however, philosophy had long ago naturalised the idea of the [Greek: logos tou theou]. But now there is no mistaking a new element everywhere. In the case of the Christologies which include a kind of [Greek: theopoiesis], it is found in the fact that the deified Jesus was to be recognised not as a Demigod or Hero, but as Lord of the world, equal in power and honour to the Deity. In the case of those Christologies which start with Christ as the heavenly spiritual being, it is found in the belief in an actual incarnation. These two articles, as was to be expected, presented difficulties to the Gentile Christians, and the latter more than the former.]

[Footnote 252: This is usually overlooked. Christological doctrinal conceptions are frequently constructed by a combination of particular passages, the nature of which does not permit of combination. But the fact that there was no universally recognised theory about the nature of Jesus till beyond the middle of the second century, should not lead us to suppose that the different theories were anywhere declared to be of equal value, etc., therefore more or less equally valid; on the contrary, everyone, so far as he had a theory at all, included his own in the revealed truth. That they had not yet come into conflict is accounted for, on the one hand, by the fact that the different theories ran up into like formulae, and could even frequently be directly carried over into one another, and on the other hand, by the fact that their representatives appealed to the same authorities. But we must, above all, remember that conflict could only arise after the enthusiastic element, which also had a share in the formation of Christology, had been suppressed, and problems were felt to be such, that is, after the struggle with Gnosticism, or even during that struggle.]

[Footnote 253: Both were clearly in existence in the Apostolic age.]

[Footnote 254: Only one work has been preserved entire which gives clear expression to the Adoptian Christology, viz., the Shepherd of Hermas (see Sim. V. and IX. 1. 12). According to it, the Holy Spirit—it is not certain whether he is identified with the chief Archangel—is regarded as the pre-existent Son of God, who is older than creation, nay, was God's counsellor at creation. The Redeemer is the virtuous man [Greek: sarx] chosen by God, with whom that Spirit of God was united. As he did not defile the Spirit, but kept him constantly as his companion, and carried out the work to which the Deity had called him, nay, did more than he was commanded, he was in virtue of a Divine decree adopted as a son and exalted to [Greek: megale exousia kai kuriotes]. That this Christology is set forth in a book which enjoyed the highest honour and sprang from the Romish community, is of great significance. The representatives of this Christology, who in the third century were declared to be heretics, expressly maintained that it was at one time the ruling Christology at Rome and had been handed down by the Apostles. (Anonym, in Euseb. H. E. V. 28. 3, concerning the Artemonites: [Greek: phasi tous men proterous hapantas kai autous tous apostolous pareilephenai te kai dedidachenai tauta, ha nun houtoi legousi, kai teteresthai ten aletheian tou kerygmatos mechri ton chronon tou Biktoros ... apo tou diadochon auto Zephurinou parakecharachthai ten aletheian]). This assertion, though exaggerated, is not incredible after what we find in Hermas. It cannot, certainly, be verified by a superficial examination of the literary monuments preserved to us, but a closer investigation shews that the Adoptian Christology must at one time have been very widespread, that it continued here and there undisturbed up to the middle of the third century (see the Christology in the Acta Archelai. 49, 50), and that it continued to exercise great influence even in the fourth and fifth centuries (see Book II. c. 7). Something similar is found even in some Gnostics, e.g., Valentinus himself (see Iren. I. 11. 1: [Greek: kai ton Christon de ouk apo ton en toi pleromati aionon probeblesthai, alla hupo tes metros, exo de genomenes, kata ten gnomen ton kreittonon apokekuesthai meta skias tinos. Kai touton men, hate arrena huparchontaf, apokopsanta huph' heautou ten skian, anadramein eis to pleroma]. The same in the Exc. ex Theodot Sec.Sec. 22, 23, 32, 33), and the Christology of Basilides presupposes that of the Adoptians. Here also belongs the conception which traces back the genealogy of Jesus to Joseph. The way in which Justin (Dialog. 48, 49, 87 ff.) treats the history of the baptism of Jesus, against the objection of Trypho that a pre-existent Christ would not have needed to be filled with the Spirit of God, is instructive. It is here evident that Justin deals with objections which were raised within the communities themselves to the pre-existence of Christ, on the ground of the account of the baptism. In point of fact, this account (it had, according to very old witnesses, see Resch, Agrapha Christi, p. 307, according to Justin, for example, Dial. 88. 103, the wording: [Greek: hama toi anabenai auton apo tou potamou tou Iordanou, tes phones autou lechtheises huios mou ei ss, ego semeron gegenneka se]; see the Cod. D. of Luke. Clem. Alex, etc.) forms the strongest foundation of the Adoptian Christology, and hence it is exceedingly interesting to see how one compounds with it from the second to the fifth century, an investigation which deserves a special monograph. But, of course, the edge was taken off the report by the assumption of the miraculous birth of Jesus from the Holy Spirit, so that the Adoptians in recognising this, already stood with one foot in the camp of their opponents. It is now instructive to see here how the history of the baptism, which originally formed the beginning of the proclamation of Jesus' history, is suppressed in the earliest formulae, and therefore also in the Romish Symbol, while the birth from the Holy Spirit is expressly stated. Only in Ignatius (ad Smyrn. I; cf. ad Eph. 18. 2) is the baptism taken into account in the confession; but even he has given the event a turn by which it has no longer any significance for Jesus himself (just as in the case of Justin, who concludes from the resting of the Spirit in his fulness upon Jesus, that there will be no more prophets among the Jews, spiritual gifts being rather communicated to Christians; compare also the way in which the baptism of Jesus is treated in Joh. I.). Finally, we must point out that in the Adoptian Christology, the parallel between Jesus and all believers who have the Spirit and are Sons of God, stands out very clearly (Cf. Herm. Sim. V. with Mand. III. V. 1; X. 2; most important is Sim. V. 6. 7). But this was the very thing that endangered the whole view. Celsus, I. 57, addressing Jesus, asks; "If thou sayest that every man whom Divine Providence allows to be born (this is of course a formulation for which Celsus alone is responsible), is a son of God, what advantage hast thou then over others?" We can see already in the Dialogue of Justin, the approach of the later great controversy, whether Christ is Son of God [Greek: kata gnomen], or [Greek: kata phusin], that is, had a pre-existence: "[Greek: kai gar eisi tines], he says, [Greek: apo tou humeterou genous homologountes auton Christon einai, anthropon de ex anthropon genomenon apophainomenoi, hois ou suntithemai]" (c. 48).]

[Footnote 255: This Christology which may be traced back to the Pauline, but which can hardly have its point of departure in Paul alone, is found also in the Epistle to the Hebrews and in the writings of John, including the Apocalypse, and is represented by Barnabas, 1 and 2 Clem., Ignatius, Polycarp, the author of the Pastoral Epistles, the Authors of Praed. Petri, and the Altercatio Jasonis et Papisci, etc. The Classic formulation is in 2 Clem. 9. 5: [Greek: Christos ho kurios ho sosas hemas on men to proton pneuma egeneto sarx kai houtos hemas ekalesen]. According to Barnabas (5. 3), the pre-existent Christ is [Greek: pantos tou kosmou kurios]: to him God said, [Greek: apo kataboles kosmou], "Let us make man, etc." He is (5. 6) the subject and goal of all Old Testament revelation. He is [Greek: ouxi huios anthropou all: huios tou theou, tupoi de en sarki phanerotheis] (12. 10); the flesh is merely the veil of the Godhead, without which man could not have endured the light (5. 10). According to 1 Clement, Christ is [Greek: to skeptron tes melagosunes tou theou] (16. 2), who if he had wished could have appeared on earth [Greek: en kompoi alazoneias], he is exalted far above the angels (32), as he is the Son of God ([Greek: pathemata tou theou], 2. 1); he hath spoken through the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (22. 1). It is not certain whether Clement understood Christ under the [Greek: logos megalosunes tou theou] (27. 4). According to 2 Clem., Christ and the church are heavenly spiritual existences which have appeared in the last times. Gen. I. 27 refers to their creation (c. 14; see my note on the passage: We learn from Origen that a very old Theologoumenon identified Jesus with the ideal of Adam, the church with that of Eve). Similar ideas about Christ are found in Gnostic Jewish Christians); one must think about Christ as about God (I. 1). Ignatius writes (Eph. 7-2): [Greek: Eis, iatros estin sarkikos te kai pneumatikos, gennetos kai agennetos, en sarki genomenos theos, en thanatoi zoe alethine, kai ek Marias kai ek theou, proton pathaetos kai tote apathes Iesous Christos ho kurios hemon]. As the human predicates stand here first, it might appear as though, according to Ignatius, the man Jesus first became God ([Greek: ho theos hemon], Cf. Eph. inscr.: 18. 2). In point of fact, he regards Jesus as Son of God only by his birth from the Spirit; but on the other hand, Jesus is [Greek: aph' henos patros proelthon] (Magn. 7. 2), is [Greek: logos theou] (Magn. 8. 2,) and when Ignatius so often emphasises the truth of Jesus' history against Docetism (Trall. 9. for example), we must assume that he shares the thesis with the Gnostics that Jesus is by nature a spiritual being. But it is well worthy of notice that Ignatius, as distinguished from Barnabas and Clement, really gives the central place to the historical Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, and his work. The like is found only in Irenaeus. The pre-existence of Christ is presupposed by Polycarp. (Ep 7. 1); but, like Paul, he strongly emphasises a real exaltation of Christ (2. 1). The author of Praed. Petri calls Christ the [Greek: logos] (Clem. Strom. I. 29, 182). As Ignatius calls him this also, as the same designation is found in the Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse of John (the latter a Christian adaptation of a Jewish writing), in the Act. Joh. (see Zahn, Acta Joh. p. 220), finally, as Celsus (II. 31) says quite generally, "The Christians maintain that the Son of God is at the same time his incarnate Word", we plainly perceive that this designation for Christ was not first started by professional philosophers (see the Apologists, for example, Tatian, Orat. 5, and Melito Apolog. fragm. in the Chron. pasch. p. 483, ed. Dindorf: [Greek: Christos on theou logos pro aionon]. We do not find in the Johannine writings such a Logos speculation as in the Apologists, but the current expression is taken up in order to shew that it has its truth in the appearing of Jesus Christ. The ideas about the existence of a Divine Logos were very widely spread; they were driven out of philosophy into wide circles. The author of the Alterc. Jas. et Papisci conceived the phrase in Gen I. 1, [Greek: en arche], as equivalent to [Greek: en huioi (Christoi)] Jerome. Quaest. hebr. in Gen. p. 3; see Tatian Orat. 5: [Greek: theos en en archei ten de archen logou dunamin pareilephamen]. Ignatius (Eph. 3) also called Christ [Greek: he gnome tou patros] (Eph. 17: [Greek: he gnosis tou theou]); that is a more fitting expression than [Greek: logos]. The subordination of Christ as a heavenly being to the Godhead, is seldom or never carefully emphasised, though it frequently comes plainly into prominence. Yet the author of the second Epistle of Clement does not hesitate to place the pre-existent Christ and the pre-existent church on one level, and to declare of both that God created them (c. 14). The formulae [Greek: phanerousthai en sarki], or, [Greek: gignesthai sarx], are characteristic of this Christology. It is worthy of special notice that the latter is found in all those New Testament writers, who have put Christianity in contrast with the Old Testament religions, and proclaimed the conquest of that religion by the Christian, viz., Paul, John, and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews.]

[Footnote 256: Hermas, for example, does this (therefore Link; Christologie des Hermas, and Weizsaecker, Gott Gel. Anz. 1886, p. 830, declare his Christology to be directly pneumatic): Christ is then identified with this Holy Spirit (see Acta. Archel. 50), similarly Ignatius (ad. Magn. 15): [Greek: kektemenoi adiakriton pneuma, hos estin Iesous Christos.] This formed the transition to Gnostic conceptions on the one hand, to pneumatic Christology on the other. But in Hermas the real substantial thing in Jesus Christ is the [Greek: sarx].]

[Footnote 257: Passages may indeed be found in the earliest Gentile Christian literature, in which Jesus is designated Son of God, independently of his human birth and before it (so in Barnabas, against Zahn), but they are not numerous. Ignatius very clearly deduces the predicate "Son" from the birth in the flesh. Zahn, Marcellus, p. 216 ff.]

[Footnote 258: The distinct designation "[Greek: theopoiesis]" is not found, though that may be an accident. Hermas has the thing itself quite distinctly (See Epiph. c. Alog. H. 51. 18: [Greek: nomizontes apo Marias kai deuro Christon auton kaleisthai kai huion theou, kai einai men proteron psilon anthropon, kata prokopen de eilephenai ten tou huiou tou theou prosegorian]). The stages of the [Greek: prokope] were undoubtedly the birth, baptism and resurrection. Even the adherents of the pneumatic Christology, could not at first help recognising that Jesus, through his exaltation, got more than he originally possessed. Yet in their case, this conception was bound to become rudimentary, and it really did so.]

[Footnote 259: The settlement with Gnosticism prepared a still always uncertain end for this naive Docetism. Apart from Barn. 5. 12, where it plainly appears, we have to collect laboriously the evidences of it which have not accidentally either perished or been concealed. In the communities of the second century there was frequently no offence taken at Gnostic docetism (see the Gospel of Peter. Clem. Alex., Adumbrat in Joh. Ep. I. c. 1, [Zahn, Forsch. z. Gesch. des N. T.-lichen Kanons, III. p. 871]; "Fertur ergo in traditionibus, quoniam Johannes ipsum corpus, quod erat extrinsecus, tangens manum suam in profunda misisse et duritiam carnis nullo modo reluctatam esse, sed locum manui praebuisse discipuli." Also Acta Joh. p. 219, ed. Zahn). In spite of all his polemic against "[Greek: dokesis]" proper, one can still perceive a "moderate docetism" in Clem. Alex., to which indeed certain narratives in the Canonical Gospels could not but lead. The so-called Apocryphal literature (Apocryphal Gospels and Acts of Apostles), lying on the boundary between heretical and common Christianity, and preserved only in scanty fragments and extensive alterations, was, it appears, throughout favourable to Docetism. But the later recensions attest that it was read in wide circles.]

[Footnote 260: Even such a formulation as we find in Paul (e.g., Rom. I. 3 f. [Greek: kata sarka—kata pneuma]), does not seem to have been often repeated (yet see 1 Clem. 32. 21). It is of value to Ignatius only, who has before his mind the full Gnostic contrast. But even to him we cannot ascribe any doctrine of two natures: for this requires as its presupposition, the perception that the divinity and humanity are equally essential and important for the personality of the Redeemer Christ. Such insight, however, presupposes a measure and a direction of reflection which the earliest period did not possess. The expression "[Greek: duo ousiai Christou]" first appears in a fragment of Melito, whose genuineness is not, however, generally recognised (see my Texte u. Unters. I. 1. 2. p. 257). Even the definite expression for Christ [Greek: theos on homou te kai anthropos] was fixed only in consequence of the Gnostic controversy.]

[Footnote 261: Hermas (Sim. V. 6. 7) describes the exaltation of Jesus, thus: [Greek: hina kai he sarx haute, douleusasa toi pneumati amemptos, schaei topon tina kataskenoseos, kai me doxei ton misthon tes douleias autes apololekenai]. The point in question is a reward of grace which consists in a position of rank (see Sim. V. 6. 1). The same thing is manifest from the statements of the later Adoptians. (Cf. the teaching of Paul Samosata).]

[Footnote 262: Barnabas, e. g., conceives it as a veil (5. 10: [Greek: ei gar me elthen en sarki, oud' an pos hoi anthropoi esothesan blepontes auton, hote ton mellonta me einai helion emblepontes ouk ischusousin eis tas aktinas autou antophthalmesai]). The formulation of the Christian idea in Celsus is instructive (c. Cels VI. 69): "Since God is great and not easily accessible to the view, he put his spirit in a body which is like our own, and sent it down in order that we might be instructed by it." To this conception corresponds the formula: [Greek: erchesthai (phanerousthai) en sarki] (Barnabas, frequently; Polyc. Ep. 7. 1). But some kind of transformation must also have been thought of (See 2 Clem. 9. 5. and Celsus IV. 18: "Either God, as these suppose, is really transformed into a mortal body...." Apoc. Sophon. ed. Stern. 4 fragm. p. 10; "He has transformed himself into a man who comes to us to redeem us"). This conception might grow out of the formula [Greek: sarx egeneto] (Ignat. ad. Eph. 7, 2 is of special importance here). One is almost throughout here satisfied with the [Greek: sarx] of Christ, that is the [Greek: aletheia tes sarkos], against the Heretics (so Ignatius, who was already anti-gnostic in his attitude). There is very seldom any mention of the humanity of Jesus. Barnabas (12). the author of the Didache (c. 10. 6. See my note on the passage), and Tatian questioned the Davidic Sonship of Jesus, which was strongly emphasised by Ignatius; nay, Barnabas even expressly rejects the designation "Son of Man" (12. 10; [Greek: ide palin Iesous, ouchi huios anthropou alla huios tou theou, tupo de en sarki phanerotheis]). A docetic thought, however, lies in the assertion that the spiritual being Christ only assumed human flesh, however much the reality of the flesh may be emphasised. The passage 1 Clem. 49. 6, is quite unique: [Greek: to haima autou edoken huper hemon Iesous Christos ... kai ten sarka huper tes sarkos hemon kai ten psuchen huper ton psuchon humon]. One would fain believe this an interpolation; the same idea is first found in Irenaeus. (V. 1. 1).]

[Footnote 263: Even Hermas docs not speak of Jesus as [Greek: anthropos] (see Link). This designation was used by the representatives of the Adoptian Christology only after they had expressed their doctrine antithetically and developed it to a theory, and always with a certain reservation. The "[Greek: anthropos Christos Iesous]" in 1 Tim. II. 5 is used in a special sense. The expression [Greek: anthropos] for Christ appears twice in the Ignatian Epistles (the third passage Smyrn. 4. 2: [Greek: autou me endunamountos tou teleiou anthropou genomenou], apart from the [Greek: genomenou], is critically suspicious, as well as the fourth, Eph. 7. 2; see above), in both passages, however, in connections which seem to modify the humanity; see Eph. 20. 1: [Greek: oikonomia eis ton kainon anthropon Iesoun Christon], Eph. 20. 2: [Greek: toi huioi anthropou kai huioi theou].]

[Footnote 264: See above p. 185, note; p. 189, note. We have no sure evidence that the later so-called Modalism (Monarchianism) had representatives before the last third of the second century; yet the polemic of Justin, Dial. 128, seems to favour the idea, (the passage already presupposes controversies about the personal independence of the pre-existent pneumatic being of Christ beside God; but one need not necessarily think of such controversies within the communities; Jewish notions might be meant, and this, according to Apol. I. 63, is the more probable). The judgment is therefore so difficult, because there were numerous formulae in practical use which could be so understood, as if Christ was to be completely identified with the Godhead itself (see Ignat. ad Eph. 7. 2, besides Melito in Otto Corp. Apol. IX. p. 419. and Noetus in the Philos. IX. 10, p. 448). These formulae may, in point of fact, have been so understood, here and there, by the rude and uncultivated. The strongest again is presented in writings whose authority was always doubtful: see the Gospel of the Egyptians (Epiph. H. 62. 2), in which must have stood a statement somewhat to this effect: [Greek: ton auton einai patera, ton auton einai huion, ton auton einai hagion pneuma], and the Acta Joh. (ed. Zahn, p. 220 f., 240 f.: [Greek: ho agathos hemon theos ho eusplanchnos, ho eleemon, ho hagios, ho katharos, ho amiantos, ho monos, ho heis, ho ametabletos, ho eilikrines, ho adolos, ho me orgizomenos, ho pases hemin legomenes e nooumenes prosegorias anoteros kai hupseloteros hemon theos Iesous]). In the Act. Joh. are found also prayers with the address [Greek: thee Iesou Christe] (pp. 242. 247). Even Marcion and a part the Montanists—both bear witness to old traditions—put no value on the distinction between God and Christ; cf. the Apoc. Sophon. A witness to a naive Modalism is found also in the Acta Pionii 9: "Quem deum colis? Respondit: Christum Polemon (judex): Quid ergo? iste alter est? [the co-defendant Christians had immediately before confessed God the Creator] Respondit: Non; sed ipse quem et ipsi paullo ante confessi sunt;" cf. c. 16. Yet a reasoned Modalism may perhaps be assumed here. See also the Martyr Acts; e.g., Acta Petri, Andrae, Pauli et Dionysiae I (Ruinart, p. 205): [Greek: hemeis oi Christon ton basilea echomen, hoti alethinos theos estin kai poietes ouranou kai ges kai thalasses]. "Oportet me magis deo vivo et vero. regi saeculorum omnium Christo, sacrificium offerre." Act. Nicephor. 3 (p. 285). I take no note of the Testament of the twelve Patriarchs, out of which one can, of course, beautifully verify the strict Modalistic, and even the Adoptian Christology. But the Testamenta are not a primitive or Jewish Christian writing which Gentile Christians have revised, but a Jewish writing christianised at the end of the second century by a Catholic of Modalistic views. But he has given us a very imperfect work, the Christology of which exhibits many contradictions. It is instructive to find Modalism in the theology of the Simonians, which was partly formed according to Christian ideas; see Irenaeus I. 23. I. "hic igitur a multis quasi deus glorificatus est, et docuit semetipsum esse qui inter Judaeos quidem quasi filius apparuerit, in Samaria autem quasi pater descenderit, in reliquis vero gentibus quasi Spiritus Sanctus adventaverit."]

[Footnote 265: That is a very important fact which clearly follows from the Shepherd. Even the later school of the Adoptians in Rome, and the later Adoptians in general, were forced to assume a divine hypostasis beside the Godhead, which of course sensibly threatened their Christology. The adherents of the pneumatic Christology partly made a definite distinction between the pre-existent Christ and the Holy Spirit (see, e.g., 1 Clem. 22. 1), and partly made use of formulae from which one could infer an identity of the two. The conceptions about the Holy Spirit were still quite fluctuating; whether he is a power of God, or personal, whether he is identical with the pre-existent Christ, or is to be distinguished from him, whether he is the servant of Christ (Tatian Orat. 13), whether he is only a gift of God to believers, or the eternal Son of God, was quite uncertain. Hermas assumed the latter, and even Origen (de princip. praef. c. 4) acknowledges that it is not yet decided whether or not the Holy Spirit is likewise to be regarded as God's Son. The baptismal formula prevented the identification of the Holy Spirit with the pre-existent Christ, which so readily suggested itself. But so far as Christ was regarded as a [Greek: pneuma], his further demarcation from the angel powers was quite uncertain, as the Shepherd of Hermas proves (though see 1 Clem. 36). For even Justin, in a passage, no doubt, in which his sole purpose was to shew that the Christians were not [Greek: atheoi], could venture to thrust in between God, the Son and the Spirit, the good angels as beings who were worshipped and adored by the Christians (Apol. 1. 6 [if the text be genuine and not an interpolation]; see also the Suppl. of Athanagoras). Justin, and certainly most of those who accepted a pre-existence of Christ, conceived of it as a real pre-existence. Justin was quite well acquainted with the controversy about the independent quality of the power which proceeded from God. To him it is not merely, "Sensus, motus, affectus dei", but a "personalis substantia" (Dial. 128).]

[Footnote 266: See the remarkable narrative about the cross in the fragment of the Gospel of Peter, and in Justin, Apol. 1. 55.]

[Footnote 267: We must, above all things, be on our guard here against attributing dogmas to the churches, that is to say, to the writers of this period. The difference in the answers to the question, How far and by what means, Jesus procured salvation? was very great, and the majority undoubtedly never at all raised the question, being satisfied with recognising Jesus as the revealer of God's saving will (Didache, 10. 2: [Greek: eucharistoi men soi, pater hagie, huper tou agiou onomatos sou, ou kateskenosas en tais kardiais hemon kai huper tes gnoseos kai pisteos kai athanasias, hes egnorisas hemin dia Iesou tou paidos sou]), without reflecting on the fact that this saving will was already revealed in the Old Testament. There is nowhere any mention of a saving work of Christ in the whole Didache, nay, even the Kerygma about him is not taken notice of. The extensive writing of Hermas shews that this is not an accident. There is absolutely no mention here of the birth, death, resurrection, etc., of Jesus, although the author in Sim. V had an occasion for mentioning them. He describes the work of Jesus as (1) preserving the people whom God had chosen. (2) purifying the people from sin, (3) pointing out the path of life and promulgating the Divine law (c. c. 5. 6). This work however, seems to have been performed by the whole life and activity of Jesus; even to the purifying of sin the author has only added the words: [Greek: (kai autos tas hamartias auton ekatharise) polla kopiasas kai pollous kopous entlekos] (Sim. V. 6. 2). But we must further note that Hermas held the proper and obligatory work of Jesus to be only the preservation of the chosen people (from demons in the last days, and at the end), while in the other two articles he saw a performance in excess of his duty, and wished undoubtedly to declare therewith, that the purifying from sin and the giving of the law are not, strictly speaking, integral parts of the Divine plan of salvation, but are due to the special goodness of Jesus (this idea is explained by Moralism). Now, as Hermas, and others, saw the saving activity of Jesus in his whole labours, others saw salvation given and assured in the moment of Jesus' entrance into the world, and in his personality as a spiritual being become flesh. This mystic conception, which attained such wide-spread recognition later on, has a representative in Ignatius, if one can at all attribute clearly conceived doctrines to this emotional confessor. That something can be declared of Jesus, [Greek: kata pneuma] and [Greek: kata sarka]—this is the mystery on which the significance of Jesus seems to Ignatius essentially to rest, but how far is not made clear. But the [Greek: pathos (haima, stauros)] and [Greek: anastasis] of Jesus are to the same writer of great significance, and by forming paradoxical formulae of worship, and turning to account reminiscences of Apostolic sayings, he seems to wish to base the whole salvation brought by Christ on his suffering and resurrection (see Lightfoot on Eph. inscr. Vol. II. p. 25). In this connection also, he here and there regards all articles of the Kerygma as of fundamental significance. At all events, we have in the Ignatian Epistles the first attempt in the post-Apostolic literature, to connect all the theses of the Kerygma about Jesus as closely as possible with the benefits which he brought. But only the will of the writer is plain here, all else is confused, and what is mainly felt is that the attempt to conceive the blessings of salvation as the fruit of the sufferings and resurrection, has deprived them of their definiteness and clearness. In proof we may adduce the following: If we leave out of account the passages in which Ignatius speaks of the necessity of repentance for the Heretics, or the Heathen, and the possibility that their sins may be forgiven (Philad. 3. 2:8. 1; Smyrn. 4. 1: 5-3; Eph. 10. 1), there remains only one passage in which the forgiveness of sin is mentioned, and that only contains a traditional formula (Smyrn 7. 1: [Greek: sarx Iesou Christou, he huper ton hamartion hemon pathousa]). The same writer, who is constantly speaking of the [Greek: pathos] and [Greek: anastasis] of Christ, has nothing to say, to the communities to which he writes, about the forgiveness of sin. Even the concept "sin", apart from the passages just quoted, appears only once, viz., Eph 14. 2: [Greek: oudeis pistin epangellomenos hamartanei]. Ignatius has only once spoken to a community about repentance (Smyrn. 9. 1). It is characteristic that the summons to repentance runs exactly as in Hermas and 2 Clem., the conclusion only being peculiarly Ignatian. It is different with Barnabas, Clement and Polycarp. They (see 1 Clem. 7. 4:12, 7:21, 6:49 6; Barn. 5. 1 ff.) place the forgiveness of sin procured by Jesus in the foreground, connect it most definitely with the death of Christ, and in some passages seem to have a conception of that connection, which reminds us of Paul. But this just shews that they are dependent here on Paul (or on 1st Peter), and on a closer examination we perceive that they very imperfectly understand Paul, and have no independent insight into the series of ideas which they reproduce. That is specially plain in Clement. For in the first place, he everywhere passes over the resurrection (he mentions it only twice, once as a guarantee of our own resurrection, along with the Phoenix and other guarantees, 24. 1, and then as a means whereby the Apostles were convinced that the kingdom of God will come, 42. 3). In the second place, he in one passage declares that the [Greek: charis metanoias] was communicated to the world through the shedding of Christ's blood (7. 4.) But this transformation of the [Greek: aphesis hamartion] into [Greek: charis metanoias] plainly shews that Clement had merely taken over from tradition the special estimate of the death of Christ as procuring salvation; for it is meaningless to deduce the [Greek: charis metanoias] from the blood of Christ. Barnabas testifies more plainly that Christ behoved to offer the vessel of his spirit as a sacrifice for our sins (4. 3; 5. 1), nay, the chief aim of his letter is to harmonise the correct understanding of the cross, the blood, and death of Christ in connection with baptism, the forgiveness of sin, and sanctification (application of the idea of sacrifice). He also unites the death and resurrection of Jesus (5. 6: [Greek: autos de hina kataergesei ton thanaton kai ten ek nekron anastasin deixei, hoti en sarki edei auton phanerothenai, hupemeinen, hina kai tois patrasin ten epangellian apodoi kai autos heautoi ton laon ton kainon hetoimazon epideixei, epi tes ges on. hoti ten anastasin autos poiesas krinei]): but the significance of the death of Christ is for him at bottom, the fact that it is the fulfilment of prophecy. But the prophecy is related, above all, to the significance of the tree, and so Barnabas on one occasion says with admirable clearness (5. 13); [Greek: autos de ethelesen houto pathein; edei gar hina epi xulou pathei]. The notion which Barnabas entertains of the [Greek: sarx] of Christ suggests the supposition that he could have given up all reference to the death of Christ, if it had not been transmitted as a fact and predicted in the Old Testament. Justin shews still less certainty. To him also, as to Ignatius, the cross (the death) of Christ is a great, nay, the greatest mystery, and he sees all things possible in it (see Apol. 1. 35, 55). He knows, further, as a man acquainted with the Old Testament, how to borrow from it very many points of view for the significance of Christ's death, (Christ the sacrifice, the Paschal lamb; the death of Christ the means of redeeming men; death as the enduring of the curse for us; death as the victory over the devil; see Dial 44. 90, 91, 111, 134). But in the discussions which set forth in a more intelligible way the significance of Christ, definite facts from the history have no place at all, and Justin nowhere gives any indication of seeing in the death of Christ more than the mystery of the Old Testament, and the confirmation of its trustworthiness. On the other hand, it cannot be mistaken that the idea of an individual righteous man being able effectively to sacrifice himself for the whole, in order through his voluntary death to deliver them from evil, was not unknown to antiquity. Origen (c. Celsum 1. 31) has expressed himself on this point in a very instructive way. The purity and voluntariness of him who sacrifices himself are here the main things. Finally, we must be on our guard against supposing that the expressions [Greek: sortia, apolutrosis] and the like, were as a rule related to the deliverance from sin. In the superscription of the Epistle from Lyons, for example, (Euseb. H. E V. 1. 3: [Greek: hoi auten tes apolutroseos hemin pistin kai elpida echontes]) the future redemption is manifestly to be understood by [Greek: apolutrosis].]

[Footnote 268: On the Ascension, see my edition of the Apost. Fathers I. 2, p. 138. Paul knows nothing of an Ascension, nor is it mentioned by Clement, Ignatius, Hermas, or Polycarp. In no case did it belong to the earliest preaching. Resurrection and sitting at the right hand of God are frequently united in the formulae (Eph. I. 20; Acts. II. 32 ff.) According to Luke XXIV. 51, and Barn. 15. 9, the ascension into heaven took place on the day of the resurrection (probably also according to Joh. XX. 17; see also the fragment of the Gosp. of Peter), and is hardly to be thought of as happening but once (Joh. III. 13; VI 62; see also Rom. X. 6 f.; Eph. IV. 9 f; 1 Pet. III. 19 f.; very instructive for the origin of the notion). According to the Valentinians and Ophites, Christ ascended into heaven 18 months after the resurrection (Iren. I. 3. 2; 30. 14); according to the Ascension of Isaiah, 545 days (ed. Dillmann, pp. 43. 57 etc.); according to Pistis Sophia 11 years after the resurrection. The statement that the Ascension took place 40 days after the resurrection is first found in the Acts of the Apostles. The position of the [Greek: anelemphthe en doxei], in the fragment of an old Hymn, 1 Tim. III. 16, is worthy of note, in so far as it follows the [Greek: ophthe angelois, ekeruchthe en ethnesin, episteuthe en kosmoi]. Justin speaks very frequently of the Ascension into heaven (see also Aristides). It is to him a necessary part of the preaching about Christ. On the descent into hell, see the collection of passages in my edition of the Apost. Fathers, III. p. 232. It is important to note that it is found already in the Gospel of Peter ([Greek: ekeruxas tois koimomenois, nai]), and that even Marcion recognised it (in Iren. I. 27. 31), as well as the Presbyter of Irenaeus (IV. 27. 2), and Ignatius (ad Magn. 9. 3), see also Celsus in Orig. II. 43. The witnesses to it are very numerous, see Huidekoper, "The belief of the first three centuries concerning Christ's Mission to the under-world." New York, 1876.]

[Footnote 269: See the Pastoral Epistles, and the Epistles of Ignatius and Polycarp.]

[Footnote 270: The "facts" of the history of Jesus were handed down to the following period as mysteries predicted in the Old Testament, but the idea of sacrifice was specially attached to the death of Christ, certainly without any closer definition. It is very noteworthy that in the Romish baptismal confession, the Davidic Sonship of Jesus, the baptism, the descent into the under-world, and the setting up of a glorious Kingdom on the earth, are not mentioned. These articles do not appear even in the parallel confessions which began to be formed. The hesitancy that yet prevailed here with regard to details, is manifest from the fact, for example, that instead of the formula, "Jesus was born of ([Greek: ek]) Mary," is found the other, "He was born through ([Greek: dia]) Mary" (see Justin, Apol. I. 22. 31-33, 54, 63; Dial. 23. 43, 45. 48, 57. 54, 63, 66, 75, 85, 87, 100, 105, 120, 127), Iren. (I. 7. 2) and Tertull. (de carne 20) first contested the [Greek: dia] against the Valentinians.]

[Footnote 271: This was strongly emphasised see my remarks on Barn. 2. 3. The Jewish cultus is often brought very close to the heathen by Gentile Christian writers: Praed. Petri (Clem. Strom. VI. 5. 41) [Greek: kainos ton theon dia tou Christou sebometha]. The statement in Joh. IV. 24, [Greek: pneuma ho theos kai tous proskunountas auton en pneumati kai aletheias dei proskunein], was for long the guiding principle for the Christian worship of God.]

[Footnote 272: Ps. LI. 19 is thus opposed to the ceremonial system (Barn. 2. 10). Polycarp consumed by fire is (Mart. 14. 1) compared to a [Greek: krios episemos ek megalou poimniou eis prosphoran olokautoma dekton toi theoi hetoimasmenon].]

[Footnote 273: See Barn. 6. 15, 16, 7-9, Tatian Orat. 15, Ignat. ad. Eph. 9. 15, Herm Mand. V. etc. The designation of Christians as priests is not often found.]

[Footnote 274: Justin, Apol. I. 9. Dial. 117 [Greek: hoti men oun kai euchai ka eucharistiai, hupo ton axion ginomenai teleiai monai kai euarestoi eisi toi theoi thusiai kai autos phemi], see also still the later Fathers: Clem. Strom. VII. 6. 31: [Greek: hemeis di euches timomen ton theon kai tauten ten thusian aristen kai hagiotaten meta dikaiosunes anapempomen toi dikaioi logoi], Iren. III. 18. 3, Ptolem ad. Floram. 3: [Greek: prosphoras prospherein prosetaxen hemin ho soter alla ouchi tas di alogon zoon he touton ton domiamaton alla dia pneumatikon ainon kai doxon kai eucharistias kai dia tes eis tous plesion koinonias kai eupoiias].]

[Footnote 275: The Jewish regulations about fastings together with the Jewish system of sacrifice were rejected, but on the other hand, in virtue of words of the Lord, fasts were looked upon as a necessary accompaniment of prayer and definite arrangements were already made for them (see Barn. 3, Didache 8, Herm. Sim. V. 1. ff). The fast is to have a special value from the fact that whatever one saved by means of it is to be given to the poor (see Hermas and Aristides, Apol. 15, "And if any one among the Christians is poor and in want, and they have not overmuch of the means of life, they fast two or three days in order that they may provide those in need with the food they require"). The statement of James I. 27 [Greek: threskeia kathara kai amiantos para to theo kai patri haute estin episkeptesthai orphanous kai cheras en te thlipsei auton], was again and again inculcated in diverse phraseology (Polycarp Ep. 4, called the Widows [Greek: thusiasterion] of the community). Where moralistic views preponderated as in Hermas and 2 Clement good works were already valued in detail, prayers, fasts, alms appeared separately, and there was already introduced especially under the influence of the so-called deutero-canonical writings of the Old Testament the idea of a special meritoriousness of certain performances in fasts and alms (see 2 Clem. 16. 4). Still the idea of the Christian moral life as a whole occupied the foreground (see Didache cc. 1-5) and the exhortations to love God and one's neighbour, which as exhortations to a moral life were brought forward in every conceivable relation, supplemented the general summons to renounce the world just as the official diaconate of the churches originating in the cultus, prevented the decomposition of them into a society of ascetics.]

[Footnote 276: For details, see below in the case of the Lord's Supper. It is specially important that even charity, through its union with the cultus, appeared as sacrificial worship (see e.g. Polyc. Ep. 4. 3).]

[Footnote 277: The idea of sacrifice adopted by the Gentile Christian communities, was that which was expressed in individual prophetic sayings and in the Psalms, a spiritualising of the Semitic Jewish sacrificial ritual which, however, had not altogether lost its original features. The entrance of Greek ideas of sacrifice cannot be traced before Justin. Neither was there as yet any reflection as to the connection of the sacrifice of the Church with the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross.]

[Footnote 278: See my Texte und Unters. z Gesch. d. Altchristl. Lit. II. 1. 2, p. 88 ff., p. 137 ff.]

[Footnote 279: There neither was a "doctrine" of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, nor was there any inner connection presupposed between these holy actions. They were here and there placed together as actions by the Lord.]

[Footnote 280: Melito, Fragm. XII. (Otto. Corp. Apol. IX. p. 418). [Greek: Duo suneste ta aphesin hamartematon parechomena, pathos dia Xriston kai baptisma].]

[Footnote 281: There is no sure trace of infant baptism in this epoch; personal faith is a necessary condition (see Hermas, Vis. III. 7. 3; Justin, Apol. 1. 61). "Prius est praedicare posterius tinguere" (Tertull. "de bapt." 14).]

[Footnote 282: On the basis of repentance. See Praed. Petri in Clem. Strom. VI. 5. 43, 48.]

[Footnote 283: See especially the second Epistle of Clement; Tertull. "de bapt." 15: "Felix aqua quae semel abluit, quas ludibrio peccatoribus non est."]

[Footnote 284: The sinking and rising in baptism, and the immersion, were regarded as significant, but not indispensable symbols (see Didache. 7). The most important passages for baptism are Didache 7; Barn. 6. 11; 11. 1. 11 (the connection in which the cross of Christ is here placed to the water is important; the tertium comp. is that forgiveness of sin is the result of both); Herm. Vis. III. 3, Sim. IX 16. Mand. IV. 3 ([Greek: hetera metanoia ouk estin ei me ekeine, hote eis hudor katebemen kai elabomen aphesin hamartion hemon ton proteron]); 2 Clem. 6. 9; 7. 6; 8. 6. Peculiar is Ignat. ad. Polyc. 6. 2: [Greek: to baptisma humon meneto hos hopla]. Specially important is Justin, Apol. I. 61. 65. To this also belong many passages from Tertullian's treatise "de bapt."; a Gnostic baptismal hymn in the third pseudo-Solomonic ode in the Pistis Sophia, p. 131, ed. Schwartze; Marcion's baptismal formula in Irenaeus 1. 21. 3. It clearly follows from the seventh chapter of the Didache, that its author held that the pronouncing of the sacred names over the baptised, and over the water, was essential, but that immersion was not; see the thorough examination of this passage by Schaff, "The oldest church manual called the teaching of the twelve Apostles" pp. 29-57. The controversy about the nature of John's baptism in its relation to Christian baptism, is very old in Christendom; see also Tertull. "de bapt." 10. Tertullian sees in John's baptism only a baptism to repentance, not to forgiveness.]

[Footnote 285: In Hermas and 2 Clement. The expression probably arose from the language of the mysteries: see Appuleius, "de Magia", 55: "Sacrorum pleraque initia in Graecia participavi. Eorum quaedam signa et monumenta tradita mihi a sacerdotibus sedulo conservo." Ever since the Gentile Christians conceived baptism (and the Lord's Supper) according to the mysteries, they were of course always surprised by the parallel with the mysteries themselves. That begins with Justin. Tertullian, "de bapt." 5, says: "Sed enim nationes extraneae, ab omni intellectu spiritalium potestatum eadem efficacia idolis suis subministrant. Sed viduis aquis sibi mentiuntur. Nam et sacris quibusdam per lavacrum initiantur, Isidis alicujus aut Mithrae; ipsos etiam deos suos lavationibus efferunt. Ceterum villas, domos, templa totasque urbes aspergine circumlatae aquae; expiant passim. Certe ludis Apollinaribus et Eleusiniis tinguuntur, idque se in regenerationem et impunitatem periuriorum suorum agere praesumunt. Item penes veteres, quisquis se homicidio infecerat, purgatrices aquas explorabat." De praescr. 40: "Diabolus ipsas quoque res sacramentorum divinorum idolorum mysteriis aemulatur. Tingit et ipse quosdam, utique credentes et fideles suos; expositionem delictorum de lavacro repromittit. et si adhuc memini, Mithras signat illic in frontibus milites suos, celebrat et panis oblationem et imaginem resurrectionis inducit ... summum pontificem in unius nuptiis statuit, habet et virgines, habet et continentes." The ancient notion that matter has a mysterious influence on spirit, came very early into vogue in connection with baptism. We see that from Tertullian's treatise on baptism and his speculations about the power of the water (c. 1 ff.). The water must, of course, have been first consecrated for this purpose (that is, the demons must be driven out of it). But then it is holy water with which the Holy Spirit is united, and which is able really to cleanse the soul. See Hatch, "The influence of Greek ideas, etc.," p. 19. The consecration of the water is certainly very old: though we have no definite witnesses from the earliest period. Even for the exorcism of the baptised before baptism I know of no earlier witness than the Sentent. LXXXVII. episcoporum (Hartel. Opp. Cypr. I. p. 450, No. 37: "primo per manus impositionem in exorcismo, secundo per baptismi regenerationem").]

[Footnote 286: Justin is the first who does so (I. 61). The word comes from the Greek mysteries. On Justin's theory of baptism, see also I. 62. and Von Engelhardt, "Christenthum Justin's," p. 102 f.]

[Footnote 287: Paul unites baptism and the communication of the Spirit; but they were very soon represented apart, see the accounts in the Acts of the Apostles, which are certainly very obscure, because the author has evidently never himself observed the descent of the Spirit, or anything like it. The ceasing of special manifestations of the Spirit in and after baptism, and the enforced renunciation of seeing baptism accompanied by special shocks, must be regarded as the first stage in the sobering of the churches.]

[Footnote 288: The idea of the whole transaction of the Supper as a sacrifice, is plainly found in the Didache, (c. 14), in Ignatius, and, above all, in Justin (I. 65 f.) But even Clement of Rome presupposes it, when in (cc. 40-44) he draws a parallel between bishops and deacons and the Priests and Levites of the Old Testament, describing as the chief function of the former (44. 4) [Greek: prospherein ta dora]. This is not the place to enquire whether the first celebration had, in the mind of its founder, the character of a sacrificial meal; but, certainly, the idea, as it was already developed at the time of Justin, had been created by the churches. Various reasons tended towards seeing in the Supper a sacrifice. In the first place, Malachi I. 11, demanded a solemn Christian sacrifice: see my notes on Didache, 14. 3. In the second place, all prayers were regarded as sacrifice, and therefore the solemn prayers at the Supper must be specially considered as such. In the third place, the words of institution [Greek: touto poieite], contained a command with regard to a definite religious action. Such an action, however, could only be represented as a sacrifice, and this the more that the Gentile Christians might suppose that they had to understand [Greek: poiein] in the sense of [Greek: thuein]. In the fourth place, payments in kind were necessary for the "agapae" connected with the Supper, out of which were taken the bread and wine for the Holy celebration; in what other aspect could these offerings in the worship be regarded than as [Greek: prosphorai] for the purpose of a sacrifice? Yet the spiritual idea so prevailed that only the prayers were regarded as the [Greek: thusia] proper, even in the case of Justin (Dial. 117). The elements are only [Greek: dora, prosphorai] which obtain their value from the prayers, in which thanks are given for the gifts of creation and redemption, as well as for the holy meal, and entreaty is made for the introduction of the community into the Kingdom of God (see Didache, 9. 10). Therefore, even the sacred meal itself is called [Greek: eucharistia] (Justin, Apol. I. 66: [Greek: he trophe haute chaleitai par' hemin eucharistia]). Didache, 9. 1; Ignat., because it is [Greek: trophe eucharistetheisa]. It is a mistake to suppose that Justin already understood the body of Christ to be the object of [Greek: poiein], and therefore thought of a sacrifice of this body (I. 66). The real sacrificial act in the Supper consists rather, according to Justin, only in the [Greek: eucharistian poiein], whereby the [Greek: koinos artos] becomes the [Greek: artos tes eucharistias]. The sacrifice of the Supper in its essence, apart from the offering of alms, which in the practice of the Church was closely united with it, is nothing but a sacrifice of prayer: the sacrificial act of the Christian here also is nothing else than an act of prayer (see Apol. I. 13, 65-67; Dial. 28, 29, 41, 70, 116-118).]

[Footnote 289: Justin lays special stress on this purpose. On the other hand, it is wanting in the Supper prayers of the Didache, unless c. 9. 2 be regarded as an allusion to it.]

[Footnote 290: The designation [Greek: thusia] is first found in the Didache, c. 14.]

[Footnote 291: The Supper was regarded as a "Sacrament" in so far as a blessing was represented in its holy food. The conception of the nature of this blessing as set forth in John VI. 27-58, appears to have been the most common. It may be traced back to Ignatius, ad Eph. 20.2: [Greek: hena arton klontes hos estin pharmakon athanasias, antidotos tou me apothanein alla zen en Iesou Christou dia pantos]. Cf Didache, 10.3: [Greek: hemin echariso pneumatiken trophen kai poton kai zoen aionion], also 10.21: [Greek: eucharistoumen soi huper tes gnoseos kai pisteos kai athanasias]. Justin Apol. 1. 66: [Greek: ek tes trophes tautes haima kai sarkes kata metabolen trephontai hemon kata metabolen] that is, the holy food, like all nourishment, is completely transformed into our flesh; but what Justin has in view here is most probably the body of the resurrection. The expression, as the context shews, is chosen for the sake of the parallel to the incarnation). Iren. IV. 18. 5; V. 2. 2 f. As to how the elements are related to the body and blood of Christ, Ignatius seems to have expressed himself in a strictly realistic way in several passages, especially ad. Smyr. 7-1: [Greek: eucharistias kai proseuches apechontai dia to me homologein, ten eucharistian sarka einai tou soteros hemon Iesou Christou, ten huper ton hamartion hemon pathousan]. But many passages shew that Ignatius was far from such a conception, and rather thought as John did. In Trall. 8, faith is described as the flesh, and love as the blood of Christ; in Rom. 7, in one breath the flesh of Christ is called the bread of God, and the blood [Greek: agape aphthartos]. In Philad. 1, we read: [Greek: haima I. Chr. hetis estin chara aionios kai paramonos]. In Philad. 5, the Gospel is called the flesh of Christ, etc. Hoefling is therefore right in saying (Lehre v. Opfer, p. 39): "The Eucharist is to Ignatius [Greek: sarx] of Christ, as a visible Gospel, a kind of Divine institution attesting the content of [Greek: pistis], viz., belief in the [Greek: sarx pathousa], an institution which is at the same time, to the community, a means of representing and preserving its unity in this belief." On the other hand, it cannot be mistaken that Justin (Apol. I. 66) presupposed the identity, miraculously produced by the Logos, of the consecrated bread and the body he had assumed. In this we have probably to recognise an influence on the conception of the Supper, of the miracle represented in the Greek Mysteries: [Greek: Ouch hos koinon arton oude koinon poma tauta lambanomen, all' hon tropon dia logou theou sarkopoietheis Iesous Christos ho soter hemon kai sarka kai haima huper soterias hemon eschen, houtos kai ten di' euches logou tou par' autou eucharistetheisan trophen, ex es haima ka sarkes kata metabolen trephontai hemon, ekeinou tou sarkopoiethentos Iesou kai sarka kai haima edidachthemen einai] (See Von Otto on the passage). In the Texte u. Unters. VII. 2. p. 117 ff., I have shewn that in the different Christian circles of the second century, water and only water was often used in the Supper instead of wine, and that in many regions this custom was maintained up to the middle of the third century (see Cypr. Ep. 63). I have endeavoured to make it further probable, that even Justin in his Apology describes a celebration of the Lord's Supper with bread and water. The latter has been contested by Zahn, "Bread and wine in the Lord's Supper, in the early Church," 1892, and Juelicher, Zur Gesch. der Abendmahlsfeier in der aeltesten Kirche (Abhandl. f Weiszacker, 1892, p. 217 ff.]

[Footnote 292: Ignatius calls the thank-offering the flesh of Christ, but the concept "flesh of Christ" is for him itself a spiritual one. On the contrary, Justin sees in the bread the actual flesh of Christ, but does not connect it with the idea of sacrifice. They are thus both as yet far from the later conception. The numerous allegories which are already attached to the Supper (one bread equivalent to one community; many scattered grains bound up in the one bread, equivalent to the Christians scattered abroad in the world, who are to be gathered together into the Kingdom of God; one altar, equivalent to one assembly of the community, excluding private worship, etc.), cannot as a group be adduced here.]

[Footnote 293: Cf. for the following my arguments in the larger edition of the "Teaching of the Apostles" Chap 5, (Texte u. Unters II. 1. 2). The numerous recent enquiries (Loening, Loofs, Reville etc.) will be found referred to in Sohm's Kirchenrecht. Vol. I. 1892, where the most exhaustive discussions are given.]

[Footnote 294: That the bishops and deacons were, primarily, officials connected with the cultus, is most clearly seen from 1 Clem. 40-44, but also from the connection in which the 14th Chap. of the Didache stands with the 15th (see the [Greek: oun], 15. 1) to which Hatch in conversation called my attention. The [Greek: philoxenia], and the intercourse with other communities (the fostering of the "unitas") belonged, above all, to the affairs of the church. Here, undoubtedly, from the beginning lay an important part of the bishop's duties. Ramsay ("The Church in the Roman Empire," p. 361 ff.) has emphasised this point exclusively, and therefore one-sidedly. According to him, the monarchical Episcopate sprang from the officials who were appointed ad hoc and for a time, for the purpose of promoting intercourse with other churches.]

[Footnote 295: Sohm (in the work mentioned above) seeks to prove that the monarchical Episcopate originated in Rome and is already presupposed by Hermas. I hold that the proof for this has not been adduced, and I must also in great part reject the bold statements which are fastened on to the first Epistle of Clement. They may be comprehended in the proposition which Sohm, p. 158, has placed at the head of his discussion of the Epistle. "The first Epistle of Clement makes an epoch in the history of the organisation of the Church. It was destined to put an end to the early Christian constitution of the Church." According to Sohm (p. 165), another immediate result of the Epistle was a change of constitution in the Romish Church, the introduction of the monarchical Episcopate. That, however, can only be asserted, not proved; for the proof which Sohm has endeavoured to bring from Ignatius' Epistle to the Romans and the Shepherd of Hermas, is not convincing.]

[Footnote 296: See, above all, 1 Clem. 42, 44, Acts of the Apostles, Pastoral Epistles, etc.]

[Footnote 297: This idea is Romish. See Book II. chap, 11 C.]

[Footnote 298: We must remember here, that besides the teachers, elders, and deacons, the ascetics (virgins, widows, celibates, abstinentes) and the martyrs (confessors) enjoyed a special respect in the Churches, and frequently laid hold of the government and leading of them. Hermas enjoins plainly enough the duty of esteeming the confessors higher than the presbyters (Vis. III. 1. 2). The widows were soon entrusted with diaconal tasks connected with the worship, and received a corresponding respect. As to the limits of this there was, as we can gather from different passages, much disagreement. One statement in Tertullian shews that the confessors had special claims to be considered in the choice of a bishop (adv. Valent. 4: "Speraverat Episcopatum Valentinus, quia et ingenio poterat et eloquio. Sed alium ex martyrii praerogativa loci potitum indignatus de ecclesia authenticae regulae abrupit"). This statement is strengthened by other passages; see Tertull. de fuga; 11. "Hoc sentire et facere omnem servum dei oportet, etiam minoris loci, ut maioris fieri possit, si quem gradum in persecutionis tolerantia ascenderit"; see Hippol in the Arab. canons, and also Achelis, Texte u. Unters VI. 4. pp. 67, 220; Cypr. Epp. 38. 39. The way in which confessors and ascetics, from the end of the second century, attempted to have their say in the leading of the Churches, and the respectful way in which it was sought to set their claims aside, shew that a special relation to the Lord, and therefore a special right with regard to the community, was early acknowledged to these people, on account of their achievements. On the transition of the old prophets and teachers into wandering ascetics, later into monks, see the Syriac Pseudo-Clementine Epistles, "de virginitate," and my Abhandl i d. Sitzungsberichten d. K. Pr. Akad. d. Wissensch. 1891, p. 361 ff.]

[Footnote 299: See Weizsaecker, Goett Gel. Anz. 1886, No. 21, whose statements I can almost entirely make my own.]



Sec. 1. The Conditions for the Rise of Gnosticism.

The Christian communities were originally unions for a holy life, on the ground of a common hope, which rested on the belief that the God who has spoken by the Prophets has sent his Son Jesus Christ, and through him revealed eternal life, and will shortly make it manifest. Christianity had its roots in certain facts and utterances, and the foundation of the Christian union was the common hope, the holy life in the Spirit according to the law of God, and the holding fast to those facts and utterances. There was, as the foregoing chapter will have shewn, no fixed Didache beyond that.[300] There was abundance of fancies, ideas, and knowledge, but these had not yet the value of being the religion itself. Yet the belief that Christianity guarantees the perfect knowledge, and leads from one degree of clearness to another, was in operation from the very beginning. This conviction had to be immediately tested by the Old Testament, that is, the task was imposed on the majority of thinking Christians, by the circumstances in which the Gospel had been proclaimed to them, of making the Old Testament intelligible to themselves, in other words, of using this book as a Christian book, and of finding the means by which they might be able to repel the Jewish claim to it, and refute the Jewish interpretation of it. This task would not have been imposed, far less solved, if the Christian communities in the Empire had not entered into the inheritance of the Jewish propaganda, which had already been greatly influenced by foreign religions (Babylonian and Persian, see the Jewish Apocalypses), and in which an extensive spiritualising of the Old Testament religion had already taken place. This spiritualising was the result of a philosophic view of religion, and this philosophic view was the outcome of a lasting influence of Greek philosophy and of the Greek spirit generally on Judaism. In consequence of this view, all facts and sayings of the Old Testament in which one could not find his way, were allegorised. "Nothing was what it seemed, but was only the symbol of something invisible. The history of the Old Testament was here sublimated to a history of the emancipation of reason from passion." It describes, however, the beginning of the historical development of Christianity, that as soon as it wished to give account of itself, or to turn to advantage the documents of revelation which were in its possession, it had to adopt the methods of that fantastic syncretism. We have seen above that those writers who made a diligent use of the Old Testament, had no hesitation in making use of the allegorical method. That was required not only by the inability to understand the verbal sense of the Old Testament, presenting diverging moral and religious opinions, but, above all, by the conviction, that on every page of that book Christ and the Christian Church must be found. How could this conviction have been maintained, unless the definite concrete meaning of the documents had been already obliterated by the Jewish philosophic view of the Old Testament?

This necessary allegorical interpretation, however, brought into the communities an intellectual philosophic element, a gnosis, which was perfectly distinct from the Apocalyptic dreams, in which were beheld angel hosts on white horses, Christ with eyes as a flame of fire, hellish beasts, conflict and victory.[301] In this [Greek: gnosis], which attached itself to the Old Testament, many began to see the specific blessing which was promised to mature faith, and through which it was to attain perfection. What a wealth of relations, hints, and intuitions seemed to disclose itself, as soon as the Old Testament was considered allegorically, and to what extent had the way been prepared here by the Jewish philosophic teachers! From the simple narratives of the Old Testament had already been developed a theosophy, in which the most abstract ideas had acquired reality, and from which sounded forth the Hellenic canticle of the power of the Spirit over matter and sensuality, and of the true home of the soul. Whatever in this great adaptation still remained obscure and unnoticed, was now lighted up by the history of Jesus, his birth, his life, his sufferings and triumph. The view of the Old Testament as a document of the deepest wisdom, transmitted to those who knew how to read it as such, unfettered the intellectual interest which would not rest until it had entirely transferred the new religion from the world of feelings, actions and hopes, into the world of Hellenic conceptions, and transformed it into a metaphysic. In that exposition of the Old Testament which we find, for example, in the so-called Barnabas, there is already concealed an important philosophic, Hellenic element, and in that sermon which bears the name of Clement (the so-called second Epistle of Clement), conceptions such as that of the Church, have already assumed a bodily form and been joined in marvellous connections, while, on the contrary, things concrete have been transformed into things invisible.

But once the intellectual interest was unfettered, and the new religion had approximated to the Hellenic spirit by means of a philosophic view of the Old Testament, how could that spirit be prevented from taking complete and immediate possession of it, and where, in the first instance, could the power be found that was able to decide whether this or that opinion was incompatible with Christianity? This Christianity, as it was, unequivocally excluded all polytheism, and all national religions existing in the Empire. It opposed to them the one God, the Saviour Jesus, and a spiritual worship of God. But, at the same time, it summoned all thoughtful men to knowledge, by declaring itself to be the only true religion, while it appeared to be only a variety of Judaism. It seemed to put no limits to the character and extent of the knowledge, least of all to such knowledge as was able to allow all that was transmitted to remain, and at the same time, abolish it by transforming it into mysterious symbols. That really was the method which every one must and did apply who wished to get from Christianity more than practical motives and super-earthly hopes. But where was the limit of the application? Was not the next step to see in the Evangelic records also new material for spiritual interpretations, and to illustrate from the narratives there, as from The Old Testament, the conflict of the spirit with matter, of reason with sensuality? Was not the conception that the traditional deeds of Christ were really the last act in the struggle of those mighty spiritual powers whose conflict is delineated in the Old Testament, at least as evident as the other, that those deeds were the fulfilment of mysterious promises? Was it not in keeping with the consciousness possessed by the new religion of being the universal religion, that one should not be satisfied with mere beginnings of a new knowledge, or with fragments of it, but should seek to set up such knowledge in a complete and systematic form, and so to exhibit the best and universal system of life as also the best and universal system of knowledge of the world? Finally, did not the free and yet so rigid forms in which the Christian communities were organised, the union of the mysterious with a wonderful publicity, of the spiritual with significant rites (baptism and the Lord's Supper), invite men to find here the realisation of the ideal which the Hellenic religious spirit was at that time seeking, viz., a communion which in virtue of a Divine revelation, is in possession of the highest knowledge, and therefore leads the holiest life, a communion which does not communicate this knowledge by discourse, but by mysterious efficacious consecrations, and by revealed dogmas? These questions are thrown out here in accordance with the direction which the historical progress of Christianity took. The phenomenon called Gnosticism gives the answer to them.[302]

Sec. 2. The Nature of Gnosticism.

The Catholic Church afterwards claimed as her own those writers of the first century (60-160) who were content with turning speculation to account only as a means of spiritualising the Old Testament, without, however, attempting a systematic reconstruction of tradition. But all those who in the first century undertook to furnish Christian practice with the foundation of a complete systematic knowledge, she declared false Christians, Christians only in name. Historical enquiry cannot accept this judgment. On the contrary, it sees in Gnosticism a series of undertakings, which in a certain way is analogous to the Catholic embodiment of Christianity, in doctrine, morals, and worship. The great distinction here consists essentially in the fact that the Gnostic systems represent the acute secularising or hellenising of Christianity, with the rejection of the Old Testament,[303] while the Catholic system, on the other hand, represents a gradual process of the same kind with the conservation of the Old Testament. The traditional religion on being, as it were, suddenly required to recognise itself in a picture foreign to it, was yet vigorous enough to reject that picture; but to the gradual, and one might say indulgent remodelling to which it was subjected, it offered but little resistance, nay, as a rule, it was never conscious of it. It is therefore no paradox to say that Gnosticism, which is just Hellenism, has in Catholicism obtained half a victory. We have, at least, the same justification for that assertion—the parallel may be permitted—as we have for recognising a triumph of 18th century ideas in the first Empire, and a continuance, though with reservations, of the old regime.

From this point of view the position to be assigned to the Gnostics in the history of dogma, which has hitherto been always misunderstood, is obvious. They were, in short, the Theologians of the first century.[304] They were the first to transform Christianity into a system of doctrines (dogmas). They were the first to work up tradition systematically. They undertook to present Christianity as the absolute religion, and therefore placed it in definite opposition to the other religions, even to Judaism. But to them the absolute religion, viewed in its contents, was identical with the result of the philosophy of religion for which the support of a revelation was to be sought. They are therefore those Christians who, in a swift advance, attempted to capture Christianity for Hellenic culture, and Hellenic culture for Christianity, and who gave up the Old Testament in order to facilitate the conclusion of the covenant between the two powers, and make it possible to assert the absoluteness of Christianity.—But the significance of the Old Testament in the religious history of the world, lies just in this, that, in order to be maintained at all, it required the application of the allegoric method, that is, a definite proportion of Greek ideas, and that, on the other hand, it opposed the strongest barrier to the complete hellenising of Christianity. Neither the sayings of Jesus, nor Christian hopes, were at first capable of forming such a barrier. If, now, the majority of Gnostics could make the attempt to disregard the Old Testament, that is a proof that, in wide circles of Christendom, people were at first satisfied with an abbreviated form of the Gospel, containing the preaching of the one God, of the resurrection and of continence, a law and an ideal of practical life.[305] In this form, as it was realised in life, the Christianity which dispensed with "doctrines" seemed capable of union with every form of thoughtful and earnest philosophy, because the Jewish foundation did not make its appearance here at all. But the majority of Gnostic undertakings may also be viewed as attempts to transform Christianity into a theosophy, that is, into a revealed metaphysic and philosophy of history, with a complete disregard of the Jewish Old Testament soil on which it originated, through the use of Pauline ideas,[306] and under the influence of the Platonic spirit. Moreover, comparison is possible between writers such as Barnabas and Ignatius, and the so-called Gnostics, to the effect of making the latter appear in possession of a completed theory, to which fragmentary ideas in the former exhibit a striking affinity.

We have hitherto tacitly presupposed that in Gnosticism the Hellenic spirit desired to make itself master of Christianity, or more correctly of the Christian communities. This conception may be, and really is still contested. For according to the accounts of later opponents, and on these we are almost exclusively dependent here, the main thing with the Gnostics seems to have been the reproduction of Asiatic Mythologoumena of all kinds, so that we should rather have to see in Gnosticism a union of Christianity with the most remote Oriental cults and their wisdom. But with regard to the most important Gnostic systems the words hold true, "The hands are the hands of Esau, but the voice is the voice of Jacob." There can be no doubt of the fact, that the Gnosticism which has become a factor in the movement of the history of dogma, was ruled in the main by the Greek spirit, and determined by the interests and doctrines of the Greek philosophy of religion,[307] which doubtless had already assumed a syncretistic character. This fact is certainly concealed by the circumstance that the material of the speculations was taken now from this, and now from that Oriental religious philosophy, from astrology and the Semitic cosmologies. But that is only in keeping with the stage which the religious development had reached among the Greeks and Romans of that time.[308] The cultured, and these primarily come into consideration here, no longer had a religion in the sense of a national religion, but a philosophy of religion. They were, however, in search of a religion, that is, a firm basis for the results of their speculations, and they hoped to obtain it by turning themselves towards the very old Oriental cults, and seeking to fill them with the religious and moral knowledge which had been gained by the Schools of Plato and of Zeno. The union of the traditions and rites of the Oriental religions, viewed as mysteries, with the spirit of Greek philosophy is the characteristic of the epoch. The needs, which asserted themselves with equal strength, of a complete knowledge of the All, of a spiritual God, a sure, and therefore very old revelation, atonement and immortality, were thus to be satisfied at one and the same time. The most sublimated spiritualism enters here into the strangest union with a crass superstition based on Oriental cults. This superstition was supposed to insure and communicate the spiritual blessings. These complicated tendencies now entered into Christianity.

We have accordingly to ascertain and distinguish in the prominent Gnostic schools, which, in the second century on Greek soil, became an important factor in the history of the Church, the Semitic-cosmological foundations, the Hellenic philosophic mode of thought, and the recognition of the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ. Further, we have to take note of the three elements of Gnosticism, viz., the speculative and philosophical, the mystic element connection with worship, and the practical, ascetic. The close connection in which these three elements appear,[309] the total transformation of all ethical into cosmological problems, the upbuilding of a philosophy of God and the world on the basis of a combination of popular Mythologies, physical observations belonging to the Oriental (Babylonian) religious philosophy, and historical events, as well as the idea that the history of religion is the last act in the drama-like history of the Cosmos—all this is not peculiar to Gnosticism, but rather corresponds to a definite stage of the general development. It may, however, be asserted that Gnosticism anticipated the general development, and that not only with regard to Catholicism, but also with regard to Neo-platonism, which represents the last stage in the inner history of Hellenism.[310] The Valentinians have already got as far as Jamblichus.

The name Gnosis, Gnostics, describes excellently the aims of Gnosticism, in so far as its adherents boasted of the absolute knowledge, and faith in the Gospel was transformed into a knowledge of God, nature and history. This knowledge, however, was not regarded as natural, but in the view of the Gnostics was based on revelation, was communicated and guaranteed by holy consecrations, and was accordingly cultivated by reflection supported by fancy. A mythology of ideas was created out of the sensuous mythology of any Oriental religion, by the conversion of concrete forms into speculative and moral ideas, such as "Abyss," "Silence," "Logos," "Wisdom," "Life," while the mutual relation and number of these abstract ideas were determined by the data supplied by the corresponding concretes. Thus arose a philosophic dramatic poem, similar to the Platonic, but much more complicated, and therefore more fantastic, in which mighty powers, the spiritual and good, appear in an unholy union with the material and wicked, but from which the spiritual is finally delivered by the aid of those kindred powers which are too exalted to be ever drawn down into the common. The good and heavenly which has been drawn down into the material, and therefore really non-existing, is the human spirit, and the exalted power who delivers it is Christ. The Evangelic history as handed down is not the history of Christ, but a collection of allegoric representations of the great history of God and the world. Christ has really no history. His appearance in this world of mixture and confusion is his deed, and the enlightenment of the spirit about itself is the result which springs out of that deed. This enlightenment itself is life. But the enlightenment is dependent on revelation, asceticism and surrender to those mysteries which Christ founded, in which one enters into communion with a praesens numen, and which in mysterious ways promote the process of raising the spirit above the sensual. This rising above the sensual is, however, to be actively practised. Abstinence therefore, as a rule, is the watchword. Christianity thus appears here as a speculative philosophy which redeems the spirit by enlightening it, consecrating it, and instructing it in the right conduct of life. The Gnosis is free from the rationalistic interest in the sense of natural religion. Because the riddles about the world which it desires to solve are not properly intellectual, but practical, because it desires to be in the end [Greek: gnosis soterias], it removes into the region of the suprarational the powers which are supposed to confer vigour and life on the human spirit. Only a [Greek: mathesis], however, united with [Greek: mystagogia], resting on revelation, leads thither, not an exact philosophy. Gnosis starts from the great problem of this world, but occupies itself with a higher world, and does not wish to be an exact philosophy, but a philosophy of religion. Its fundamental philosophic doctrines are the following: (1) The indefinable, infinite nature of the Divine primeval Being exalted above all thought. (2) Matter as opposed to the Divine Being, and therefore having no real being, the ground of evil. (3) The fulness of divine potencies, AEons, which are thought of partly as powers, partly as real ideas, partly as relatively independent beings, presenting in gradation the unfolding and revelation of the Godhead, but at the same time rendering possible the transition of the higher to the lower. (4) The Cosmos as a mixture of matter with divine sparks, which has arisen from a descent of the latter into the former, or, as some say, from the perverse, or, at least, merely permitted undertaking of a subordinate spirit. The Demiurge, therefore, is an evil, intermediate, or weak, but penitent being; the best thing therefore in the world is aspiration. (5) The deliverance of the spiritual element from its union with matter, or the separation of the good from the world of sensuality by the Spirit of Christ which operates through knowledge, asceticism, and holy consecration: thus originates the perfect Gnostic, the man who is free from the world, and master of himself, who lives in God and prepares himself for eternity. All these are ideas for which we find the way prepared in the philosophy of the time, anticipated by Philo, and represented in Neoplatonism as the great final result of Greek philosophy. It lies in the nature of the case that only some men are able to appropriate the Christianity that is comprehended in these ideas, viz., just as many as are capable of entering into this kind of Christianity, those who are spiritual. The others must be considered as non-partakers of the Spirit from the beginning, and therefore excluded from knowledge as the profanum vulgus. Yet some, the Valentinians, for example, made a distinction in this vulgus, which can only be discussed later on, because it is connected with the position of the Gnostics towards Jewish Christian tradition.

The later opponents of Gnosticism preferred to bring out the fantastic details of the Gnostic systems, and thereby created the prejudice that the essence of the matter lay in these. They have thus occasioned modern expounders to speculate about the Gnostic speculations in a manner that is marked by still greater strangeness. Four observations shew how unhistorical and unjust such a view is, at least with regard to the chief systems. (1) The great Gnostic schools, wherever they could, sought to spread their opinions. But it is simply incredible that they should have expected of all their disciples, male and female, an accurate knowledge of the details of their system. On the contrary, it may be shewn that they often contented themselves with imparting consecration, with regulating the practical life of their adherents, and instructing them in the general features of their system.[311] (2) We see how in one and the same school, for example, the Valentinian, the details of the religious metaphysic were very various and changing. (3) We hear but little of conflicts between the various schools. On the contrary, we learn that the books of doctrine and edification passed from one school to another.[312] (4) The fragments of Gnostic writings which have been preserved, and this is the most important consideration of the four, shew that the Gnostics devoted their main strength to the working out of those religious, moral, philosophical and historical problems, which must engage the thoughtful of all times.[313] We only need to read some actual Gnostic document, such as the Epistle of Ptolemaeus to Flora, or certain paragraphs of the Pistis Sophia, in order to see that the fantastic details of the philosophic poem can only, in the case of the Gnostics themselves, have had the value of liturgical apparatus, the construction of which was not of course a matter of indifference, but hardly formed the principal interest. The things to be proved, and to be confirmed by the aid of this or that very old religious philosophy, were certain religious and moral fundamental convictions, and a correct conception of God, of the sensible, of the creator of the world, of Christ, of the Old Testament, and the evangelic tradition. Here were actual dogmas. But how the grand fantastic union of all the factors was to be brought about, was, as the Valentinian school shews, a problem whose solution was ever and again subjected to new attempts.[314] No one to-day can in all respects distinguish what to those thinkers was image and what reality, or in what degree they were at all able to distinguish image from reality, and in how far the magic formulae of their mysteries were really objects of their meditation. But the final aim of their endeavours, the faith and knowledge of their own hearts which they instilled into their disciples, the practical rules which they wished to give them, and the view of Christ which they wished to confirm them in, stand out with perfect clearness. Like Plato, they made their explanation of the world start from the contradiction between sense and reason, which the thoughtful man observes in himself. The cheerful asceticism, the powers of the spiritual and the good which were seen in the Christian communities, attracted them and seemed to require the addition of theory to practice. Theory without being followed by practice had long been in existence, but here was the as yet rare phenomenon of a moral practice which seemed to dispense with that which was regarded as indispensable, viz., theory. The philosophic life was already there; how could the philosophic doctrine be wanting, and after what other model could the latent doctrine be reproduced than that of the Greek religious philosophy?[315] That the Hellenic spirit in Gnosticism turned with such eagerness to the Christian communities and was ready even to believe in Christ in order to appropriate the moral powers which it saw operative in them, is a convincing proof of the extraordinary impression which these communities made. For what other peculiarities and attractions had they to offer to that spirit than the certainty of their conviction (of eternal life), and the purity of their life? We hear of no similar edifice being erected in the second century on the basis of any other Oriental cult—even the Mithras cult is scarcely to be mentioned here—as the Gnostic was on the foundation of the Christian.[316] The Christian communities, however, together with their worship of Christ, formed the real solid basis of the greater number and the most important of the Gnostic systems, and in this fact we have, on the very threshold of the great conflict, a triumph of Christianity over Hellenism. The triumph lay in the recognition of what Christianity had already performed as a moral and social power. This recognition found expression in bringing the highest that one possessed as a gift to be consecrated by the new religion, a philosophy of religion whose end was plain and simple, but whose means were mysterious and complicated.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse