[A.D. 170.] One of the sub-Apostolic age, a contemporary of Justin and of the martyrs of "the good Aurelius," we must yet distinguish Hegesippus[4] from the apologists. He is the earliest of the Church's chroniclers--we can hardly call him a historian. His aims were noble and his character was pure; nor can we refuse him the credit due to a foresight of the Church's ultimate want of historical material, which he endeavoured to supply.

What is commonly regarded as his defect is in reality one of his greatest merits as a witness: he was a Hebrew, and looks at the Church from the stand-point of "James the Lord's brother." When we observe his Catholic spirit, therefore, as well as his Catholic orthodoxy; his sympathy with the Gentile Church and Pauline faith of the Corinthians; his abhorrence of "the Circumcision" so far as it bred sects and heresies against Christ; and when we find him confirming the testimony of the Apostolic Fathers, and sustaining the traditions of Antioch by those of Jerusalem,--we have double reason to cherish his name, and to treasure up "the fragments that remain" of his works. That touching episode of the kindred of Christ, as they appeared before Domitian, has always impressed my imagination as worthy to be classed with the story of St. John and the robber, as one of the most suggestive incidents of early Christian history. We must lament the loss of other portions of the Memoirs which were known to exist in the seventeenth century. He was a traveller, and must have seen much of the Apostolic churches in the East and West; and the mere scraps we have of his narrative concerning Corinth and Rome excite a natural curiosity as to the rest, which may lead to gratifying discoveries.



JAMES, the Lord's brother, succeeds to the government of the Church, in conjunction with the apostles. He has been universally called the Just, from the days of the Lord down to the present time. For many bore the name of James; but this one was holy from his mother's womb. He drank no wine or other intoxicating liquor,[6] nor did he eat flesh; no razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, nor make use of the bath. He alone was permitted to enter the holy place:[7] for he did not wear any woollen garment, but fine linen only. He alone, I say, was wont to go into the temple: and he used to be found kneeling on his knees, begging forgiveness for the people--so that the skin of his knees became horny like that of a camel's, by reason of his constantly bending the knee in adoration to God, and begging forgiveness for the people. Therefore, in consequence of his pre-eminent justice, he was called the Just, and Oblias,[8] which signifies in Greek Defence of the People, and Justice, in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him.

Now some persons belonging to the seven sects existing among the people, which have been before described by me in the Notes, asked him: "What is the door of Jesus?" And he replied that He was the Saviour. In Consequence of this answer, some believed that Jesus is the Christ. But the sects before mentioned did not believe, either in a resurrection or in the coming of One to requite every man according to his works; but those who did believe, believed because of James. So, when many even of the ruling class believed, there was a commotion among the Jews, and scribes, and Pharisees, who said: "A little more, and we shall have all the people looking for Jesus as the Christ.

They came, therefore, in a body to James, and said: "We entreat thee, restrain the people: for they are gone astray in their opinions about Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat thee to persuade all who have come hither for the day of the passover, concerning Jesus. For we all listen to thy persuasion; since we, as well as all the people, bear thee testimony that thou art just, and showest partiality to none. Do thou, therefore, persuade the people not to entertain erroneous opinions concerning Jesus: for all the people, and we also, listen to thy persuasion. Take thy stand, then, upon the summit[1] of the temple, that from that elevated spot thou mayest be clearly seen, and thy words may be plainly audible to all the people. For, in order to attend the passover, all the tribes have congregated hither, and some of the Gentiles also."

The aforesaid scribes and Pharisees accordingly set James on the summit of the temple, and cried aloud to him, and said: "O just one, whom we are all bound to obey, forasmuch as the people is in error, and follows Jesus the crucified, do thou tell us what is the door of Jesus, the crucified." And he answered with a loud voice: "Why ask ye me concerning Jesus the Son of man? He Himself sitteth in heaven, at the right hand of the Great Power, and shall come on the clouds of heaven."

And, when many were fully convinced by these words, and offered praise for the testimony of James, and said, "Hosanna to the son of David," then again the said Pharisees and scribes said to one another, "We have not done well in procuring this testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, that they may be afraid, and not believe him." And they cried aloud, and said: "Oh! oh! the just man himself is in error." Thus they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah: "Let us away with the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore shall they eat the fruit of their doings." So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to one another: "Let us stone James the Just." And they began to stone him: for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned, and kneeled down, and said: "I beseech Thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

And, while they were thus stoning him to death, one of the priests, the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabim, to whom testimony is borne by Jeremiah the prophet, began to cry aloud, saying: "Cease, what do ye? The just man is praying for us." But one among them, one of the fullers, took the staff with which he was accustomed to wring out the garments he dyed, and hurled it at the head of the just man.

And so he suffered martyrdom; and they buried him on the spot, and the pillar erected to his memory still remains, close by the temple. This man was a true witness to both Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ.

And shortly after Vespasian besieged Judaea, taking them captive.


There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.

So he asked them whether they were of the family of David; and they confessed they were. Next he asked them what property they had, or how much money they possessed. They both replied that they had only 9000 denaria between them, each of them owning half that sum; but even this they said they did not possess in cash, but as the estimated value of some land, consisting of thirty-nine plethra only, out of which they had to pay the dues, and that they supported themselves by their own labour. And then they began to hold out their hands, exhibiting, as proof of their manual labour, the roughness of their skin, and the corns raised on their hands by constant work.

Being then asked concerning Christ and His kingdom, what was its nature, and when and where it was to appear, they returned answer that it was not of this world, nor of the earth, but belonging to the sphere of heaven and angels, and would make its appearance at the end of time, when He shall come in glory, and judge living and dead, and render to every one according to the course of his life.[3]

Thereupon Domitian passed no condemnation upon them, but treated them with contempt, as too mean for notice, and let them go free. At the same time he issued a command, and put a stop to the persecution against the Church.

When they were released they became leaders[1] of the churches, as was natural in the case of those who were at once martyrs and of the kindred of the Lord. And, after the establishment of peace to the Church, their lives were prolonged to the reign of Trojan.


Some of these heretics, forsooth, laid an information against Symeon the son of Clopas, as being of the family of David, and a Christian. And on these charges he suffered martyrdom when he was 120 years old, in the reign of Trajan Caesar, when Atticus was consular legate[3] in Syria. And it so happened, says the same writer, that, while inquiry was then being made for those belonging to the royal tribe of the Jews, the accusers themselves were convicted of belonging to it. With show of reason could it be said that Symeon was one of those who actually saw and heard the Lord, on the ground of his great age, and also because the Scripture of the Gospels makes mention of Mary the daughter of Clopas, who, as our narrative has shown already, was his father.

The same historian mentions others also, of the family of one of the reputed brothers of the Saviour, named Judas, as having survived until this same reign, after the testimony they bore for the faith of Christ in the time of Domitian, as already recorded.

He writes as follows: They came, then, and took the presidency of every church, as witnesses for Christ, and as being of the kindred of the Lord. And, after profound peace had been established in every church, they remained down to the reign of Trojan Caesar: that is, until the time when he who was sprung from an uncle of the Lord, the aforementioned Symeon son of Clopas, was informed against by the various heresies, and subjected to an accusation like the rest, and for the same cause, before the legate Atticus; and, while suffering outrage during many days, he bore testimony for Christ: so that all, including the legate himself, were astonished above measure that a man 120 years old should have been able to endure such torments. He was finally condemned to be crucified.

. . . Up to that period the Church had remained like a virgin pure and uncorrupted: for, if there were any persons who were disposed to tamper with the wholesome rule of the preaching of salvation,[4] they still lurked in some dark place of concealment or other. But, when the sacred band of apostles had in various ways closed their lives, and that generation of men to whom it had been vouchsafed to listen to the Godlike Wisdom with their own ears had passed away, then did the confederacy of godless error take its rise through the treachery of false teachers, who, seeing that none of the apostles any longer survived, at length attempted with bare and uplifted head to oppose the preaching of the truth by preaching "knowledge falsely so called."


And the church of the Corinthians continued in the orthodox faith[6] up to the time when Primus was bishop in Corinth. I had some intercourse with these brethren on my voyage to Rome, when I spent several days with the Corinthians, during which we were mutually refreshed by the orthodox faith.

On my arrival at Rome, I drew up a list of the succession of bishops down to Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. To Anicetus succeeded Soter, and after him came Eleutherus. But in the case of every succession,[7] and in every city, the state of affairs is in accordance with the teaching of the Law and of the Prophets and of the Lord. . . .

And after James the Just had suffered martyrdom, as had the Lord also and on the same account, again Symeon the son of Clopas, descended from the Lord's uncle, is made bishop, his election being promoted by all as being a kinsman of the Lord.

Therefore was the Church called a virgin, for she was not as yet corrupted by worthless teaching.[8] Thebulis it was who, displeased because he was not made bishop, first began to corrupt her by stealth. He too was connected with the seven sects which existed among the people, like Simon, from whom come the Simoniani; and Cleobius, from whom come the Cleobiani; and Doritheus, from whom come the Dorithiani; and Gorthaeus, from whom come the Gortheani; Masbothaeus, from whom come the Masbothaei. From these men also come the Menandrianists, and the Marcionists, and the Carpocratians, and the Valentinians, and the Basilidians, and the Saturnilians. Each of these leaders in his own private and distinct capacity brought in his own private opinion. From these have come false Christs, false prophets, false apostles--men who have split up the one Church into parts[9] through their corrupting doctrines, uttered in disparagement of God and of His Christ. . . .

There were, moreover, various opinions in the matter of circumcision among the children of Israel, held by those who were opposed to the tribe of Judah and to Christ: such as the Essenes, the Galileans, the Hemerobaptists, the Masbothaei, the Samaritans, the Sadducees, the Pharisees.


[A.D. 170.] Eusebius is almost diffuse in what he tells us of this Dionysius,[1] "who was appointed over the church at Corinth, and imparted freely, not only to his own people, but to others, and those abroad also, the blessings of his divine labours." He wrote "Catholic Epistles;" he addressed an epistle to the Spartans and the Athenians; and, as Eusebius says, Dionysius the Areopagite, the convert of St. Paul, was the first bishop of Athens.[2] He wrote to the Nicomedians, refuting Marcion, and closely adhering to "the rule of faith." In an epistle to the Gortynians and others in Crete, he praises Philip for his courageous ministry, and warns them against the heretics. He seems to recognise Palmas as bishop of Amastris and Pontus, and adds expositions of Scripture, and rules regarding marriage, its purity and sanctity. He also inculcates tenderness to penitent lapsers and backsliders. With Pinytus, bishop of the Gnossians, he corresponds on similar subjects; but Pinytus, while he thanks him and commends his clemency, evidently regards him as too much inclined to furnish "food for babes," and counsels him to add "strong meat for those of full age." He also writes to Chrysophora, his most faithful sister, imparting spiritual instruction.



FOR this has been your custom from the beginning, to do good to all the brethren in various ways, and to send resources to many churches which are in every city, thus refreshing the poverty of the needy, and granting subsidies to the brethren who are in the mines.[3] Through the resources which ye have sent from the beginning, ye Romans, keep up the custom of the Romans handed down by the fathers, which your blessed Bishop Sorer has not only preserved, but added to, sending a splendid gift to the saints, and exhorting with blessed words those brethren who go up to Rome, as an affectionate father his children.


We passed this holy Lord's day, in which we read your letter, from the constant reading of which we shall be able to draw admonition, even as from the reading of the former one you sent us written through Clement.


Therefore you also have by such admonition joined in close union the churches that were planted by Peter and Paul, that of the Romans and that of the Corinthians: for both of them went[5] to our Corinth, and taught us in the same way as they taught you when they went to Italy; and having taught you, they suffered martyrdom at the same time.[6]


For I wrote letters when the brethren requested me to write. And these letters the apostles of the devil have filled with tares, taking away some things and adding others, for whom a woe is in store. It is not wonderful, then, if some have attempted to adulterate the Lord's writings, when they have formed designs against those which are not such.[8]


[A.D. 180.] This Rhodon[2] was supposed by St. Jerome to have been the author of the work against the Cataphrygians, ascribed to Asterius Urbanus more probably.[3] Eusebius[4] gives us the fragment from his work against Marcion, addressed to Callistion, which is here translated. He tells us that he was a pupil of Tatian, and expresses an intention of furnishing original solutions of Scriptural problems sated by Tatian,[5] and by that author explained in a manner apparently unsatisfactory. He also appears to have written against the blasphemous Apelles,[6] whose Hexaemeron was an attempt to refute Moses; but whether he also fulfilled his promise concerning an E<greek>pilusid</greek> of Tatian's Problems (or Questions), seems doubtful. Routh has devoted to the fragment here translated six pages of notes,[7] which he subjoins to the Greek text (of Eusebius) and a Latin version of the same.

WHEREFORE also they[8] disagree among themselves, maintaining as they do an opinion which has no consistency with itself. For one of their herd, Apelles, who prides himself on the strictness of his life,[9] and on his age, admits that there is only one first principle,[10] yet says that the prophecies have come from an opposing spirit, in which opinion he is influenced by the responses of a soothsaying[11] maid named Philumene. But others, among whom are Potitus and Basilicus, like Marcion[12] himself, introduce two first principles. These men, following the Pontic wolf, and not being able to discover any more than he the division of things, have had to recourse to rash assertion, and declared the existence of two first principles simply and without proof. Others of them, again, drifting from bad to worse, assume not two only, but even three natures. Of these men the leader and champion is Syneros, as those who adopt his teaching say....

For the old man Apelles entered into conversation with us, and was convicted of uttering many false opinions. For example, he asserted that men should on no account examine into their creed,[13] but that every one ought to continue to the last in the belief he has once adopted. For he declared that those who had rested their hope on the Crucified One would be saved, provided only they were found living in the practice, of good works. But the most perplexing of all the doctrines laid down by him was, as we have remarked before, what he said concerning God: for he affirmed that there was only one first principle, precisely as our own faith teaches ....

On asking him, "Where do you get proof of this? or how are you able to assert that there is only one first principle? tell us,"--he said that the prophecies refuted themselves, because they had uttered nothing at all that was true: for that they were discordant and false, and self-contradictory. As to the question, "How does it appear that there is only one first principle?" he said he could not tell, only he was impelled to that belief. On my thereupon conjuring him to speak the truth, he solemnly declared that he was expressing his real sentiments; and that he did not know" how" there could be one uncreated God, but that he believed the fact. Here I burst into laughter and rebuked him, because he professed to be a teacher, and yet was unable to confirm by arguments what he taught.


[A.D. 185-196.] He was a noted character among Christians, according to Eusebius; living, according to Jerome, under Commodus and Severus. He wrote on the inveterate question concerning the Origin of Evil; and the fragment here translated, as given by Eusebius, is also textually cited by Origen against the Marcionites,[14] if that Dialogue be his. The reader will not fail to recollect that liberal citations out of this work are also to be found in Methodius, On Free-Will.[1] But all who desire fuller information on the subject will be gratified by the learned prolegomena and notes of Routh, to which I refer them.[2] Whether Maximus was the bishop of Jerusalem (A.D. 185) mentioned by Eusebius as presiding in that See in the sixth year of Commodus, seems to be uncertain.


"THAT there cannot exist two uncreated substances at one and the same time, I presume that you hold equally with myself. You appear, however, very decidedly to have assumed, and to have introduced into the argument, this principle, that we must of unavoidable necessity maintain one of two things: either that God is separate from matter; or else, on the contrary, that He is indissolubly connected with it.

"If, then, any one should choose to assert that He exists in union with matter, that would be saying that there is only one uncreated substance. For either of the two must constitute a part of the other; and, since they form parts of each other, they cannot be two uncreated substances. Just as, in speaking of man, we do not describe him as subdivided into a number of distinct parts, each forming a separate created substance, but, as reason requires us to do, assert that he was made by God a single created substance consisting of many parts,--so, in like manner, if God is not separate from matter, we are driven to the conclusion that there is only one uncreated substance.

"If, on the other hand, it be affirmed that He is separate from matter, it necessarily follows that there is some other substance intermediate between the two, by which their separation is made apparent. For it is impossible that one thing should be shown to be severed by an interval from another, unless there be something else by which the interval between the two is produced. This principle, too, holds good not only with regard to this or any other single case, but in any number of cases you please For the same argument which we have employed in dealing with the two uncreated substances must in like manner be valid if the substances in question be given as three. For in regard to these also I should have to inquire whether they are separate from one another, or whether, on the contrary, each of them is united to its fellow. For, if you should say that they are united, you would hear from me the same argument as before; but if, on the contrary, you should say that they are separate, you could not escape the unavoidable assumption of a separating medium.

"If, again, perchance any one should think that there is a third view which may be consistently maintained with regard to uncreated substances,--namely, that God is not separate from matter, nor yet, on the other hand, united to it as a part, but that God exists in matter as in a place, or possibly matter exists in God,--let such a person observe the consequence:--

"That, if we make matter God's place, we must of necessity admit that He can be contained,[4] and that He is circumscribed by matter. Nay, further, he must grant that He is, in the same way as matter, driven about hither and thither, unable to maintain His place and to stay where He is, since that in which He exists is perpetually being driven about in one direction or another. Beside this, he must also admit that God has had His place among the worst kind of elements. For if matter was once in disorder, and if he reduced it to order for the purpose of rendering it better, there was a time when God existed among the disordered elements of matter.

"I might also fairly put this question: whether God filled the whole of matter, or was in some part of it. If any one should choose to say that God was in some part of matter, he would be making Him indefinitely smaller than matter, inasmuch as a part of it contained the whole of Him;[5] but, if he maintained that He pervaded the whole of matter, I need to be informed how He became the Fashioner of this matter. For we must necessarily assume, either that there was on the part of God a contraction,[6] so to speak, of Himself, and a withdrawal from matter, whereupon He proceeded to fashion that from which He bad retired; or else that He fashioned Himself in conjunction with matter, in consequence of having no place to retire to.

"But suppose it to be maintained, on the other hand, that matter is in God, it will behove us similarly to inquire, whether we are to understand by this that He is sundered from Himself, and that, just like the air, which contains various kinds of animals, so is He sundered and divided into parts for the reception of those creatures which from time to time exist in[1] Him; or whether matter is in God as in a place,--for instance, as water is contained in earth. For should we say ' as in air,' we should perforce be speaking of God as divisible into parts; but if 'as water in earth,' and if matter was, as is admitted, in confusion and disorder, and moreover also contained what was evil, we should have to admit that God is the place of disorder and evil. But this it does not seem to me consistent with reverence to say, but hazardous rather. For you contend that matter is uncreated,[2] that you may not have to admit that God is the author of evil; and yet, while aiming to escape this difficulty, you make Him the receptacle of evil.

"If you had stated that your suspicion that matter was uncreated arose from the nature of created things as we find them,[3] I should have employed abundant argument in proof that it cannot be so. But, since you have spoken of the existence of evil as the cause of such suspicion, I am disposed to enter upon a separate examination of this point. For, when once it has been made clear how it is that evil exists, and when it is seen to be impossible to deny that God is the author of evil, in consequence of His having had recourse to matter for His materials,[4] it seems to me that a suspicion of this kind disappears.

"You assert, then, that matter, destitute of all qualities good or bad, co-existed at the outset with God, and that out of it He fashioned the world as we now find it."

"Such is my opinion."

"Well, then, if matter was without any qualities, and the world has come into existence from God, and if the world possesses qualities, the

author of those qualities must be God."

"Exactly so."

"Since, too, I heard you say yourself just now that out of nothing[5] nothing can possibly come, give me an answer to the question I am about to ask you. You seem to me to think that the qualities of the world have not sprung from pre-existing[6] qualities, and moreover that they are something different from the substances themselves."

"I do."

"If, therefore, God did not produce the qualities in question from qualities already existing, nor yet from substances, by reason that they are not substances, the conclusion is inevitable, that they were made by God out of nothing. So that you seemed to me to affirm more than you were warranted to do, when you said that it had been proved impossible to hold the opinion[7] that anything was made by God out of nothing.

"But let us put the matter thus. We see persons among ourselves making certain things out of nothing, however true it may be that they make them by means of something.[8] Let us take our illustration, say, from builders. These men do not make cities out of cities; nor, similarly, temples out of temples. Nay, if you suppose that, because the substances necessary for these constructions are already provided, therefore they make them out of that which already exists, your reasoning is fallacious. For it is not the substance that makes the city or the temples, but the art which is employed about the substance. Neither, again, does the art proceed from any art inhering in the substances, but it arises independently of any such art in them.

"But I fancy you will meet the argument by saying that the artist produces the art which is manifest in the substance he has fashioned out of the art which he himself already has. In reply to this, however, I think it may be fairly said, that neither in man does art spring from any already existing art. For we cannot possibly allow that art exists by itself, since it belongs to the class of things which are accidentals, and which receive their existence only when they appear in connection with substance. For man will exist though there should be no architecture, but the latter will have no existence unless there be first of all man. Thus we cannot avoid the conclusion, that it is the nature of art to spring up in man out of nothing. If, then, we have shown that this is the case with man, we surely must allow that God can make not only the qualities of substances out of nothing, but also the substances themselves. For, if it appears possible that anything whatever can be made out of nothing, it is proved that this may be the case with substances also.

"But, since you are specially desirous of inquiring about the origin of evil, I will proceed to the discussion of this topic. And I should like to ask you a few questions. Is it your opinion that things evil are substances, or that they are qualities of substances?"

"Qualities of substances, I am disposed to say."

"But matter was destitute of qualities and of form: this I assumed at the outset of the discussion. Therefore, if things evil are qualities of substances, and matter was destitute of qualities, and you have called God the author of qualities, God will also be the former of that which is evil. Since, then, it is not possible, on this supposition any more than on the other, to speak of God as not the cause of evil, it seems to me superfluous to add matter to Him, as if that were the cause of evil. If you have any reply to make to this, begin your argument."

"If, indeed, our discussion had arisen from a love of contention, I should not be willing to have the inquiry raised a second time about the origin of evil; but, since we are prompted rather by friendship and the good of our neighbour to engage in controversy, I readily consent to have the question raised afresh on this subject. You have no doubt long been aware of the character of my mind, and of the object at which I aim in dispute: that I have no wish to vanquish falsehood by plausible reasoning, but rather that truth should be established in connection with thorough investigation. You yourself, too, are of the same mind, I am well assured. Whatever method, therefore, you deem successful for the discovery of truth, do not shrink from using it. For, by following a better course of argument, you will not only confer a benefit on yourself, but most assuredly on me also, instructing me concerning matters of which I am ignorant."

"You seem clearly to agree with[1] me, that things evil are in some sort substances:[2] for, apart from substances, I do not see them to have any existence. Since, then, my good friend, you say that things evil are substances, it is necessary to inquire into the nature of substance. Is it your opinion that substance is a kind of bodily structure?"[3]

"It is."

"And does that bodily structure exist by itself, without the need of any one to come and give it existence?" "Yes.

"And does it seem to you that things evil are connected with certain courses of action?"

"That is my belief."

"And do actions come into existence only when an actor is there?"


"And, when there is no actor, neither will his action ever take place?"

"It will not."

"If, therefore, substance is a kind of bodily structure, and this does not stand in need of some one in and through whom it may receive its existence, and if things evil are actions of some one, and actions require some one in and through whom they receive their existence,-things evil will 'not' be substances. And if things evil are not substances, and murder is an evil, and is the action of some one, it follows that murder is not a substance. But, if you insist that agents are substance, then I myself agree with you. A man, for instance, who is a murderer, is, in so far as he is a man, a substance; but the murder which he commits is not a substance, but a work of the substance. Moreover, we speak of a man sometimes as had because he commits murder; and sometimes, again, because he performs acts of beneficence, as good: and these names adhere to the substance, in consequence of the things which are accidents of it, which, however, are not the substance itself. For neither is the substance murder, nor, again, is it adultery, nor is it any other similar evil. But, just as the grammarian derives his name from grammar, and the orator from oratory, and the physician from physic, though the substance is not physic, nor yet oratory, nor grammar, but receives its appellation from the things which are accidents of it, from which it popularly receives its name, though it is not any one of them,--so in like manner it appears to me that the substance receives name from things regarded as evil, though it is not itself any one of them.

"I must beg you also to consider that, if you represent some other being as the cause of evil to men, he also, in so far as he acts in them, and incites them to do evil, is himself evil, by reason of the things he does. For he too is said to be evil, for the simple reason that he is the doer of evil things; but the things which a being does are not the being himself, but his actions, from which he receives his appellation, and is called evil. For if we should say that the things he does are himself, and these consist in murder, and adultery, and theft, and such-like, these things will be himself. And if these things are himself, and if when they take place they get to have a substantial existence,[4] but by not taking place they also cease to exist, and if these things are done by men,--men will be the doers of these things, and the causes of existing and of no longer existing. But, if you affirm that these things are his actions, he gets to be evil from the things he does, not from those things of which the substance of him consists.

"Moreover, we have said that he is called evil from those things which are accidents of the substance, which are not themselves the substance: as a physician from the art of physic. But, if he receives the beginning of his existence from the actions he performs, he too began to be evil, and these evil things likewise began to exist. And, if so, an evil being will not be without a beginning, nor will evil things be unoriginated, since we have said that they are originated by him."

"The argument relating to the opinion I before expressed, you seem to me, my friend, to have handled satisfactorily: for, from the premises you assumed in the discussion, I think you have drawn a fair conclusion. For, beyond doubt, if matter was at first destitute of qualities, and if God is the fashioner of the qualities it now has, and if evil things are qualities, God is the author of those evil things. The argument, then, relating to that opinion we may consider as well discussed, and to me it now seems false to speak of matter as destitute of qualities. For it is not possible to say of any substance[1] whatsoever that it is without qualities. For, in the very act of saying that it is destitute of qualities, you do in fact indicate its quality, representing of what kind matter is, which of course is ascribing to it a species of quality. Wherefore, if it is agreeable to you, rehearse the argument to me from the beginning: for, to me, matter seems to have had qualifies from all eternity.[2] For in this way I can affirm that evil things also come from it in the way of emanation, so that the cause of evil things may not be ascribed to God, but that matter may be regarded as the cause of all such things."

"I approve your desire, my friend, and praise the zeal you manifest in the discussion of opinions. For it assuredly becomes every one who is desirous of knowledge, not simply and out of hand to agree with what is said, but to make a careful examination of the arguments adduced. For, though a disputant, by laying down false premises, may make his opponent draw the conclusion he wishes, yet he will not convince a hearer of this; but only when he says that which[3] it seems possible to say with fairness. So that one of two things will happen: either he will, as he listens, be decisively helped to reach that conclusion towards which he already feels himself impelled, or he will convict his adversary of not speaking the truth.

"Now, it seems to me that you have not sufficiently discussed the statement that matter has qualities from the first. For, if this is the case, what will God be the maker of? For, if we speak of substances, we affirm these to exist beforehand; or if again of qualities, we declare these also to exist already. Since, therefore both substance and qualities exist, it seems to me unreasonable to call God a creator.

"But, lest I should seem to be constructing an argument to suit my purpose, be so good as to answer the question: In what way do you assert God to be a creator? Is He such because He changed the substances, so that they should no longer be the same as they had once been but become different from what they were; or because, while He kept the substances the same as they were before that period, He changed their qualities?"

"I do not at all think that any alteration took place in substances: for it appears to me absurd to say this. But I affirm that a certain change was made in their qualities; and it is in respect of these that I speak of God as a creator. Just as we might happen to speak of a house as made out of stones, in which case we could not say that the stones no longer continue to be stones as regards their substance, now that they are made into a house (for I affirm that the house owes its existence to the quality of its construction, forasmuch as the previous quality of the stones has been changed),--so does it seem to me that God, while the substance remains the same, has made a certain change in its qualities; and it is in respect of such change that I speak of the origin of this world as having come from God."

"Since, then, you maintain that a certain change--namely, of qualifies--has been produced by God, answer me briefly what I am desirous to ask you."

"Proceed, pray, with your question."

"Do you agree in the opinion that evil things are qualities of substances?"

"I do."

"Were these qualities in matter from the first, or did they begin to be?"

"I hold that these qualifies existed in combination with matter, without being originated."

"But do you not affirm that God has made a certain change in the qualities?"

"That is what I affirm."

"For the better, or for the worse?"

"For the better, I should say."

"Well, then, if evil things are qualities of matter, and if the Lord of all changed its qualities for the better, whence, it behoves us to ask, come evil things? For either the qualities remained the same in their nature as they previously were, or, if they were not evil before, but you assert that, in consequence of a change wrought on them by God, the first qualities of this kind came into existence in connection with matter,--God will be the author of evil, inasmuch as He changed the qualities which were not evil, so as to make them evil.

"Possibly, however, it is not your view that God changed evil qualities for the better; but you mean that all those other qualities which happened to be neither good nor bad,[4] were changed by God with a view to the adornment of the creation."

"That has been my opinion from the outset."

"How, then, can you say that He has left the qualities of bad things just as they were? Is it that, although He was able to destroy those qualities as well as the others, He was not willing; or did He refrain because He had not the power? For, if you say He had the power, but not the will, you must admit Him to be the cause of these qualities: since, when He could have put a stop to the existence of evil, He chose to let it remain as it was, and that, too, at the very time when He began to fashion matter. For, if He had not concerned Himself at all with matter, He would not have been the cause of those things which He allowed to remain. But, seeing that He fashioned a certain part of it, and left a certain part as we have described it, although He could have changed that also for the better, it seems to me that He deserves to have the blame cast on Him, for having permitted a part of matter to be evil, to the ruin of that other part which He fashioned.

"Nay, more, it seems to me that the most serious wrong has been committed as regards this part, in that He constituted this part of matter so as to be now affected by evil. For, if we were to examine carefully into things, we should find that the condition of matter is worse now than in its former state, before it was reduced to order. For, before it was separated into parts, it had no sense of evil; but now every one of its parts is afflicted with a sense of evil.

"Take an illustration from man. Before he was fashioned, and became a living being through the art of the Creator, he was by nature exempt from any contact whatever with evil; but, as soon as ever he was made by God a man, he became liable to the sense of even approaching evil: and thus that very thing which you say was brought about by God for the benefit of matter, [1] is found to have turned out rather to its detriment.

"But, if you say that evil has not been put a stop to, because God was unable to do away with it, you will be making God powerless. But, if He is powerless, it will be either because He is weak by nature, or because He is overcome by fear, and reduced to subjection by a stronger. If, then, you go so far as to say that God is weak by nature, it seems to me that you imperil your salvation itself; but, if you say that He is weak through being overcome by fear of a greater, things evil will be greater than God, since they frustrate the carrying out of His purpose. But this, as it seems to me, it would be absurd to say of God. For why should not 'they' rather be considered gods, since according to your account they are able to overcome God: if, that is to say, we mean by God that which has a controlling power over all things?

"But I wish to ask you a few questions concerning matter itself. Pray tell me, therefore, whether matter was something simple or compound. I am induced to adopt this method of investigating the subject before us by considering the diversity that obtains in existing things. For, if perchance matter was something simple and uniform, how comes it that the world is compound, [2] and consists of, divers substances and combinations? For by 'compound' we denote a mixture of certain simple elements. But if, on the contrary, you prefer to call matter compound, you will, of course, be asserting that it is compounded of certain simple elements. And, if it was compounded of simple elements, these simple elements must have existed at some time or other separately by themselves, and when they were compounded together matter came into being: from which it of course follows that matter is created. For, if matter is compound, and compound things are constituted from simple, there was once a time when matter had no existence,--namely, before the simple elements came together. And, if there was once a time when matter was not, and there was never a time when the uncreated was not, matter cannot be uncreated. And hence there will be many uncreated substances. For, if God was uncreated, and the simple elements out of which matter was compounded were also uncreated, there will not be two uncreated things only,--not to discuss the question what it is which constitutes objects simple, whether matter or form.

"Is it, further, your opinion that nothing in existence is opposed to itself?"

"It is."

"Is water, then, opposed to fire?"

"So it appears to me."

"Similarly, is darkness opposed to light, and warm to cold, and moreover moist to dry?"

"It seems to me to be so."

"Well, then, if nothing in existence is opposed to itself, and these things are opposed to each other, they cannot be one and the same matter; no, nor yet be made out of one and the same matter.

"I wish further to ask your opinion on a matter kindred to that of which we have been speaking. Do you believe that the parts of a thing

are not mutually destructive?"

"I do."

"And you believe that fire and water, and so on, are parts of matter?"

"Quite so."

"Do you not also believe that water is subversive of fire, and light of darkness, and so of all similar things?"


"Well, then, if the parts of a whole are not mutually destructive, and yet the parts of matter are mutually destructive, they cannot be parts of one matter. And, if they are not parts of one another, they cannot be composed of one and the same matter; nay, they cannot be matter at all, since nothing in existence is destructive of itself, as we learn from the doctrine of opposites: for nothing is opposed to itself--an opposite being by nature opposed to something else. White, for example, is not opposed to itself, but is said to be the opposite of black; and, similarly, light is shown not to be opposed to itself, but is considered an opposite in relation to darkness; and so of a very great number of things besides. If, then, matter were some one thing, it could not be opposed to itself. This, then, being the nature of opposites, it is proved that matter has no existence."

Back to Volume 8 Index