Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.55 On the resurrection Part 4

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.55 On the resurrection Part 4

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.55 On the resurrection Part 4

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The blame thrown on the life here below, and the praise of the things in heaven, are thus interchanged and reversed; for that which was once blamed conducts in their opinion to the brighter life, while that which was taken for the better state gives an impulse to the soul's propensity to evil. Expel, therefore, from amongst the doctrines of the Faith all erroneous and shifting suppositions about such matters! We must not follow, either, as though they had bit the truth those who suppose that souls pass from women's bodies to live in menhyperlink , or, reverselyhyperlink , that souls that have parted with men's bodies exist in women: or even if they only say that they pass from men into men, or from women into women. As for the former theoryhyperlink , not only has it been rejected for being shifting and illusory, and for landing us in opinions diametrically opposed to each other; but it must be rejected also because it is a godless theory, maintaining as it does that nothing amongst the things in nature is brought into existence without deriving its peculiar constitution from evil as its source. If, that is, neither men nor plants nor cattle can be born unless some soul from above has fallen into them, and if this fall is owing to some tendency to evil, then they evidently think that evil controls the creation of all beings. In some mysterious way, too, both events are to occur at once; the birth of the man in consequence of a marriage, and the fall of the soul (synchronizing as it must with the proceedings at that marriage). A greater absurdity even than this is involved: if, as is the fact, the large majority of the brute creation copulate in the spring, are we, then, to say that the spring brings it about that evil is engendered in the revolving world above, so that, at one and the same moment, there certain souls are impregnated with evil and so fall, and here certain brutes conceive? And what are we to say about the husbandman who sets the vine-shoots in the soil? How does his hand manage to have covered in a human soul along with the plant, and how does the moulting of wings last simultaneously with his employment in planting? The same absurdity, it is to be observed, exists in the other of the two theories as well; in the direction, I mean, of thinking that the soul must be anxious about the intercourses of those living in wedlock, and must be on the look-out for the times of bringing forth, in order that it may insinuate itself into the bodies then produced. Supposing the man refuses the union, or the woman keeps herself clear of the necessity of becoming a mother, will evil then fail to weigh down that particular soul? Will it be marriage, in consequence, that sounds up above the first note of evil in the soul, or will this reversed state invade the soul quite independently of any marriage? But then, in this last case, the soul will have to wander about in the interval like a houseless vagabond, lapsed as it has from its heavenly surroundings, and yet, as it may happen in some cases, still without a body to receive it. But how, after that, can they imagine that the Deity exercises any superintendence over the world, referring as they do the beginnings of human lives to this casual and meaningless descent of a soul. For all that follows must necessarily accord with the beginning; and so, if a life begins in consequence of a chance accident, the whole course of ithyperlink becomes at once a chapter of accidents, and the attempt to make the whole world depend on a Divine power is absurd, when it is made by these men, who deny to the individualities in it a birth from the fiat of the Divine Will and refer the several origins of beings to encounters that come of evil, as though there could never have existed such a thing as a human life, unless a vice had struck, as it were, its leading note. If the beginning is like that, a sequel will most certainly be set in motion in accordance with that beginning. None would dare to maintain that what is fair can come out of what is foul, any more than from good can come its opposite. We expect fruit in accordance with the nature of the seed. Therefore this blind movement of chance is to rule the whole of life, and no Providence is any more to pervade the world.

Nay, even the forecasting by our calculations will be quite useless; virtue will lose its value; and to turn from evil will not be worth the while. Everything will be entirely under the control of the driver, Chance; and our lives will differ not at all from vessels devoid of ballast, and will drift on waves of unaccountable circumstances, now to this, now to that incident of good or of evil. The treasures of virtue will never be found in those who owe their constitution to causes quite contrary to virtue. If God really superintends our life, then, confessedly, evil cannot begin it. But if we do owe our birth to evil, then we must go on living in complete uniformity with it. Thereby it will be shown that it is folly to talk about the "houses of correction" which await us after this life is ended, and the "just recompenses," and all the other things there asserted, and believed in too, that tend to the suppression of vice: for how can a man, owing, as he does, his birth to evil, be outside its pale? How can he, whose very nature has its rise in a vice, as they assert, possess any deliberate impulse towards a life of virtue? Take any single one of the brute creation; it does not attempt to speak like a human being, but in using the natural kind of utterance sucked in, as it were, with its mother's milkhyperlink , it deems it no loss to be deprived of articulate speech. Just in the same way those who believe that a vice was the origin and the cause of their being alive will never bring themselves to have a longing after virtue, because it will be a thing quite foreign to their nature. But, as a facthyperlink , they who by reflecting have cleansed the vision of their soul do all of them desire and strive after a life of virtue. Therefore it is by that fact clearly proved that vice is not prior in time to the act of beginning to live, and that our nature did not thence derive its source, but that the all-disposing wisdom of God was the Cause of it: in short, that the soul issues on the stage of life in the manner which is pleasing to its Creator, and then (but not before), by virtue of its power of willing, is free to choose that which is to its mind, and so, whatever it may wish to be, becomes that very thing. We may understand this truth by the example of the eyes. To see is their natural state; but to fail to see results to them either from choice or from disease. This unnatural state may supervene instead of the natural, either by wilful shutting of the eyes or by deprivation of their sight through disease. With the like truth we may assert that the soul derives its constitution from God, and that, as we cannot conceive of any vice in Him, it is removed from arty necessity of being vicious; that nevertheless, though this is the condition in which it came into being, it can be attracted of its own free will in a chosen direction, either wilfully shutting its eyes to the Good, or letting them he damagedhyperlink by that insidious foe whom we have taken home to live with us, and so passing through life in the darkness of error; or, reversely, preserving un-dimmed its sight of the Truth and keeping far away from all weaknesses that could darken it.-But then some one will ask, "When and how did it come into being?" Now as for the question, how any single thing came into existence, we must banish it altogether from our discussion. Even in the case of things which are quite within the grasp of our understanding and of which we have sensible perception, it would be impossible for the speculative reasonhyperlink to grasp the "how" of the production of the phenomenon; so much so, that even inspired and saintly men have deemed such questions insoluble. For instance, the Apostle says, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen are not made of things which do appearhyperlink ." He would not, I take it, have spoken like that, if he had thought that the question could be settled by any efforts of the reasoning powers. While the Apostle affirms that it is an object of his faithhyperlink that it was by the will of God that the world itself and all which is therein was framed (whatever this "world" be that involves the idea of the whole visible and invisible creation), he has on the other hand left out of the investigation the "how" of this framing. Nor do I think that this point can ever be reached by any inquirers. The question presents, on the face of it, many insuperable difficulties. How, for instance, can a world of movement come from one that is at rest? how from the simple and undimensional that which shows dimension and compositeness? Did it come actually out of the Supreme Being? But the fact that this world presents a difference in kind to that Being militates againsthyperlink such a supposition. Did it then come from some other quarter? Yet Faithhyperlink can contemplate nothing as quite outside the Divine Nature; for we should have to believe in two distinct and separate Principles, if outside the Creative Cause we are to suppose something else, which the Artificer, with all His skill, has to put under contribution for the formative processes of the Universe. Since, then, the Cause of all things is one, and one only, and yet the existences produced by that Cause are not of the same nature as its transcendent quality, an inconceivability of equal magnitudehyperlink arises in both our suppositions, i.e. both that the creation comes straight out of the Divine Being, and that the universe owes its existence to some cause other than Him; for if created things are to be of the same nature as God, we must consider Him to be invested with the properties belonging to His creation; or else a world of matter, outside the circle of God's substance, and equal, on the score of the absence in it of all beginning, to the eternity of the Self-existent One, will have to be ranged against Him: and this is in fact what the followers of Manes, and some of the Greek philosophers who held opinions of equal boldness with his, did imagine; and they raised this imagination into a system. In order, then, to avoid falling into either of these absurdities, which the inquiry into the origin of things involves, let us, following the example of the Apostle, leave the question of the "how" in each created thing, without meddling with it at all, but merely observing incidentally that the movement of God's Will becomes at any moment that He pleases a fact, and the intention becomes at once realized in Naturehyperlink ; for Omnipotence does not leave the plans of its far-seeing skill in the state of unsubstantial wishes: and the actualizing of a wish is Substance. In short, the whole world of existing things falls into two divisions: i.e. that of the intelligible, and that of the corporeal: and the intelligible creation does not, to begin with, seem to be in any way at variance with a spiritual Being, but on the contrary to verge closely upon Him, exhibiting as it does that absence of tangible form and of dimension which we rightly attribute to His transcendent nature. The corporeal creationhyperlink , on the other hand, must certainly be classed amongst specialities that have nothing in common with the Deity; and it does offer this supreme difficulty to the Reason; namely, that the Reason cannot see how the visible comes out of the invisible, how the hard solid comes out of the intangible, how the finite comes out of the infinite, how that which is circumscribed by certain proportions, where the idea of quantity comes in, can come from that which has no size, no proportions, and so on through each single circumstance of body. But even about this we can say so much: i.e. that not one of those things which we attribute to body is itself body; neither figure, nor colour, nor weight, nor extension, nor quantity, nor any other qualifying notion whatever; but every one of them is a category; it is the combination of them all into a single whole that constitutes body. Seeing, then, that these several qualifications which complete the particular body are grasped by thought alone, and not by sense, and that the Deity is a thinking being, what trouble can it be to such a thinking agent to produce the thinkables whose mutual combination generates for us the substance of that body? All this discussion, however, lies outside our present business. The previous question was,-If some souls exist anterior to their bodies, when and how do they come into existence? and of this questionhyperlink , again, the part about the how, has been left out of our examination and has not been meddled with, as presenting impenetrable difficulties. There remains the question of the when of the soul's commencement of existence: it follows immediately on that which we have already discussed. For if we were to grant that the soul has lived previous to its bodyhyperlink in some place of resort peculiar to itself, then we cannot avoid seeing some force in all that fantastic teaching lately discussed,which would explain the soul's habitation of the body as a consequence of some vice. Again, on the other hand, no one who can reflect will imagine an after-birth of the soul, i.e. that it is younger than the moulding of the body;for every one can see for himself that not one amongst all the things that are inanimate or soulless possesses any power of motion or of growth; whereas there is no question about that which is bred in the uterus both growing and moving from place to place. It remains therefore that we must think that the point of commencement of existence is one and the same for body and soul. Also we affirm that, just as the earth receives the sapling from the hands of the husbandman and makes a tree of it, without itself imparting the power of growth to its nursling, but only lending it, when placed within itself, the impulse to grow, in this very same way that which is secreted from a man for the planting of a man is itself to a certain extent a living being as much gifted with a soul and as capable of nourishing itself as that from which it comeshyperlink . If this offshoot, in its diminutiveness, cannot contain at first all the activities and the movements of the soul, we need not be surprised; for neither in the seed of corn is there visible all at once the ear. How indeed could anything so large be crowded into so small a space? But the earth keeps on feeding it with its congenial aliment, and so the grain becomes the ear, without changing its nature while in the clod, but only developing it and bringing it to perfection under the stimulus of that nourishment. As, then, in the case of those growing seeds the advance to perfection is a graduated onehyperlink , so in man's formation the forces of his soul show themselves in proportion to the size to which his body has attained. They dawn first in the foetus, in the shape of the power of nutrition and of development: after that, they introduce into the organism that has come into the light the gift of perception: then, when this is reached, they manifest a certain measure of the reasoning faculty, likethe fruit of some matured plant, not growing all of it at once, but in a continuous progress along with the shooting up of that plant. Seeing, then, that that which is secreted from one living being to lay the foundations of another living being cannot itself be dead (for a state of deadness arises from the privation of life, and it cannot be that privation should precede the having), we grasp from these considerations the fact that in the compound which results from the joining of both (soul and body) there is a simultaneous passage of both into existence; the one does not come first, any more than the other comes after. But as to the number of souls, our reason must necessarily contemplate a stopping some day of its increase; so that Nature's stream may not flow on for ever, pouring forward in her successive births and never staying that onward movement. The reason for our race having some day to come to a standstill is as follows, in our opinion: since every intellectual reality is fixed in a plenitude of its own, it is reasonable to expect that humanityhyperlink also will arrive at a goal (for in this respect also humanity is not to be parted from the intellectual worldhyperlink ); so that we are to believe that it will not be visible for ever only in defect, as it is now: for this continual addition of after generations indicates that there is something deficient in our race.

Whenever, then, humanity shall have reached the plenitude that belongs to it, this on-streaming movement of production will altogether cease; it will have touched its destined bourn, and a new order of things quite distinct from the present precession of births and deaths will carry on the life of humanity. If there is no birth, it follows necessarily that there will be nothing to die. Composition must precede dissolution (and by composition I mean the coming into this world by being born); necessarily, therefore, if this synthesis does not precede, no dissolution will follow. Therefore, if we are to go upon probabilities, the life after this is shown to us beforehand as something that is fixed and imperishable, with no birth and no decay to change it.

The Teacher finished her exposition; and to the many persons sitting by her bedside the whole discussion seemed now to have arrived at a fitting conclusion. Nevertheless, fearing that if the Teacher's illness took a fatal turn (such as did actually happen), we should have no one amongst us to answer the objections of the unbelievers to the Resurrectionhyperlink , I still insisted.

The argument has not yet touched the most vital of all the questions relating to our Faith. I mean, that the inspired Writings, both in the New and in the Old Testament, declare most emphatically not only that, when our race has completed the ordered chain of its existence as the ages lapse through their complete circlehyperlink , this current streaming onward as generation succeeds generation will cease altogether, but also that then, when the completed Universe no longer admits of further increase, all the souls in their entire number will come back out of their invisible and scattered condition into tangibility and light, the identical atoms (belonging to each soul) reassembling together in the same order as before; and this reconstitution of human life is called, in these Writings which contain God's teaching, the Resurrection, the entire movement of the atoms receiving the same term as the raising up of that which is actually prostrate on the groundhyperlink .

But, said she, which of these points has been left unnoticed in what has been said?

Why, the actual doctrine of the Resurrection, I replied.

And yet, she answered, much in our long and detailed discussion pointed to that.

Then are you not aware, I insisted, of all the objections, a very swarm of them, which our antagonists bring against us in connection with that hope of yours?

And I at once tried to repeat all the devices hit upon by their captious champions to upset the doctrine of the Resurrection.

She, however, replied, First, I think, we must briefly run over the scattered proclamations of this doctrine in Holy Scripture; they shall give the finishing touch to our discourse. Observe, then, that I can hear David, in the midst of his praises in the Divine Songs, saying at the end of the hymnody of the hundred and third (104th) Psalm, where he has taken for his theme God's administration of the world, "Thou shalt take away their breath, and they shall die, and return to their dust: Thou shalt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created: and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth." He says that a power of the Spirit which works in all vivifies the beings into whom it enters, and deprives those whom He abandons of their life. Seeing, then, that the dying is declared to occur at the Spirit's departure, and the renewal of these dead ones at His appearance, and seeing moreover that in the order of the statement the death of those who are to be thus renewed comes first, we hold that in these words that mystery of the Resurrection is proclaimed to the Church, and that David in the spirit of prophecy expressed this very gift which you are asking about. You will find this same prophet in another placehyperlink also saying that "the God of the world, the Lord of everything that is, hath showed Himself to us, that we may keep the Feast amongst the decorators;" by that mention of "decoration" with boughs, he means the Feast of Tabernacle-fixing, which, in accordance with Moses' injunction, has been observed from of old. That lawgiver, I take it, adopting a prophet's spirit, predicted therein things still to come; for though the decoration was always going on it was never finished. The truth indeed was foreshadowed under the type and riddle of those Feasts that were always occurring, but the true Tabernacle-fixing was not yet come; and on this account "the God and Lord of the whole world," according to the Prophet's declaration, "hath showed Himself to us, that the Tabernacle-fixing of this our tenement that has been dissolved may be kept for human kind"; a material decoration, that is, may be begun again by means of the concourse of our scattered atoms. For that word pukasmoj in its peculiar meaning signifies the Temple-circuit and the decoration which completes it. Now this passage from the Psalms runs as follows: "God and Lord hath showed Himself to us; keep the Feast amongst the decorators even unto the horns of the altar;" and this seems to me to proclaim in metaphors the fact that one single feast is to be kept by the whole rational creation, and that in that assembly of the saints tire inferiors are to join the dance with their superiors. For in the case of the fabric of that Temple which was the Type it was not allowed to all who were on the outside of its circuithyperlink to come within, but everything that was Gentile and alien was prohibited from entering; and of those, further, who had entered, all were not equally privileged to advance towards the centre; but only those who had consecrated themselves by a holier manner of life, and by certain sprinklings; and, again, not every one amongst these last might set foot within the interior of the Temple; the priests alone had the right of entering within the Curtain, and that only for the service of the sanctuary; while even to the priests the darkened shrine of the Temple, where stood the beautiful Altar with its jutting horns, was forbidden, except to one of them, who held the highest office of the priesthood, and who once a year, on a stated day, and unattended, passed within it, carrying an offering more than usually sacred and mystical. Such being the differences in connection with this Temple which you know of, it was clearlyhyperlink a representation and an imitation of the condition of the spirit-world, the lesson taught by these material observances being this, that it is not the whole of the rational creation that can approach the temple of God, or, in other words, the adoration of the Almighty; but that those who are led astray by false persuasions are outside the precinct of the Deity; and that from the number of those who by virtue of this adoration have been preferred to the rest and admitted within it, some by reason of sprinklings and purifications have still further privileges; and again amongst these last those who have been consecrated priests have privileges further still, even to being admitted to the mysteries of the interior. And, that one may bring into still clearer light the meaning of the allegory, we may understand the Word here as teaching this, that amongst all the Powers endued with reason some have been fixed like a Holy Altar in the inmost shrine of the Deity; and that again of these last some jut forward like horns, for their eminence, and that around them others are arranged first or second, according to a prescribed sequence of rank; that the race of man, on the contrary, on account of indwelling evil was excluded from the Divine precinct, but that purified with lustral water it re-enters it; and, since all the further barriers by which our sin has fenced us off from the things within the veil are in the end to be taken down, whenever the time comes that the tabernacle of our nature is as it were to be fixed up again in the Resurrection, and all the inveterate corruption of sin has vanished from the world, then a universal feast will be kept around the Deity by those who have decorated themselves in the Resurrection; and one and the same banquet will be spread for all, with no differences cutting off any rational creature from an equal participation in it; for those who are now excluded by reason of their sin will at last be admitted within the Holiest places of God's blessedness, and will bind themselves to the horns of the Altar there, that is, to the most excellent of the transcendental Powers. The Apostle says the same thing more plainly when he indicates the final accord of the whole Universe with the Good: "That" to Him "every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father": instead of the "horns," speaking of that which is angelic and "in heaven," and by the other terms signifying ourselves, the creatures whom we think of next to that; one festival of united voices shall occupy us all; that festival shall be the confession and the recognition of the Being Who truly Is. One might (she proceeded) select many other passages of Holy Scripture to establish the doctrine of the Resurrection. For instance, Ezekiel leaps in the spirit of prophecy over all the intervening time, with its vast duration; he stands, by his powers of foresight, in the actual moment of the Resurrection, and, as if he had really gazed on what is still to come, brings it in his description before our eyes. He saw a mighty plainhyperlink , unfolded to an endless distance before him, and vast heaps of bones upon it flung at random, some this way, some that; and then under an impulse from God these bones began to move and group themselves with their fellows that they once owned, and adhere to the familiar sockets, and then clothe themselves with muscle, flesh, and skin (which was the process called "decorating" in the poetry of the Psalms); a Spirit in fact was giving life and movement to everything that lay there. But as regards our Apostle's description of the wonders of the Resurrection, why should one repeat it, seeing that it can easily be found and read? how, for instance, "with a shout" and the "sound of trumpets" (in the language of the Word) all dead and prostrate things shall be "changedhyperlink in the twinkling of an eye" into immortal beings. The expressions in the Gospels also I will pass over; for their meaning is quite clear to every one; and our Lord does not declare in word alone that the bodies of the dead shall be raised up again; but He shows in action the Resurrection itself, making a beginning of this work of wonder from things more within our reach and less capable of being doubted. First, that is, He displays His life-giving power in the case of the deadly forms of disease, and chases those maladies by one word of command; then He raises a little girl just dead; then He makes a young man, who is already being carried out, sit up on his bier, and delivers him to his mother; after that He calls forth from his tomb the four-days-dead and already decomposed Lazarus, vivifying the prostrate body with His commanding voice; then after three days He raises from the dead His own human body, pierced though it was with the nails and spear, and brings the print of those nails and the spear-wound to witness to the Resurrection. But I think that a detailed mention of these things is not necessary; for no doubt about them lingers in the minds of those who have accepted the written accounts of them.

But that, said I, was not the point in question. Most of your hearers will assent to the fact that there will some day be a Resurrection, and that man will be brought before the incorruptible tribunalhyperlink ; on account both of the Scripture proofs, and also of our previous examination of the question. But still the question remainshyperlink : Is the state which we are to expect to be like the present state of the body? Because if so, then, as I was sayinghyperlink , men had better avoid hoping for any Resurrection at all. For if our bodies are to be restored to life again in the same sort of condition as they are in when they cease to breathe, then all that man can look forward to in the Resurrection is an unending calamity. For what spectacle is more piteous than when in extreme old age our bodies shrivel uphyperlink and change into something repulsive and hideous, with the flesh all wasted in the length of years, the skin dried up about the bones till it is all in wrinkles, the muscles in a spasmodic state from being no longer enriched with their natural moisture, and the whole body consequently shrunk, the hands on either side powerless to perform their natural work, shaken with an involuntary trembling? What a sight again are the bodies of persons in a long consumption! They differ from bare bones only in giving the appearance of being covered with a worn-out veil of skin. What a sight too are those of persons swollen with the disease of dropsy! What words could describe the unsightly disfigurement of sufferers from leprosyhyperlink ? Gradually over all their limbs and organs of sensation rottenness spreads and devours them. What words could describe that of persons who have been mutilated in earthquake, battle, or by any other visitation, and live on in such a plight for a long time before their natural deaths? Or of those who from an injury have grown up from infancy with their limbs awry! What can one say of them? What is one to think about the bodies of newborn infants who have been either exposed, or strangled, or died a natural death, if they are to be brought to life again just such as they were? Are they to continue in that infantine state? What condition could be more miserable than that? Or are they to come to the flower of their age? Well, but what sort of milk has Nature got to suckle them again with? It comes then to this: that, if our bodies are to live again in every respect the same as before, this thing that we are expecting is simply a calamity; whereas if they are not the same, the person raised up will be another than he who died. If, for instance, a little boy was buried, but a grown man rises again, or reversely, how can we say that the dead in his very self is raised up, when he has had some one substituted for him by virtue of this difference in age? Instead of the child, one sees a grown-up man. Instead of the old man, one sees a person in his prime. In fact, instead of the one person another entirely. The cripple is changed into the able-bodied man; the consumptive sufferer into a man whose flesh is firm; and so on of all possible cases, not to enumerate them for fear of being prolix. If, then, the body will not come to life again just such in its attributes as it was when it mingled with the earth, that dead body will not rise again; but on the contrary the earth will be formed into another man. How, then, will the Resurrection affect myself, when instead of me some one else will come to life? Some one else, I say; for how could I recognize myself when, instead of what was once myself, I see some one not myself? It cannot really be I, unless it is in every respect the same as myself. Suppose, for instance, in this life I had in my memory the traits of some one; say he was bald, had prominent lips, a somewhat flat nose, a fair complexion, grey eyes, white hair, wrinkled skin; and then went to look for such an one, and met a young man with a fine head of hair, an aquiline nose, a dark complexion, and in all other respects quite different in his type of countenance; am I likely in seeing the latter to think of the former? But why dwell longer on these the less forcible objections to the Resurrection, and neglect the strongest one of all? For who has not heard that human life is like a stream, moving from birth to death at a certain rate of progress, and then only ceasing from that progressive movement when it ceases also to exist? This movement indeed is not one of spacial change; our bulk never exceeds itself; but it makes this advance by means of internal alteration; and as long as this alteration is that which its name implies, it never remains at the same stage (from moment to moment); for how can that which is being altered be kept in any sameness? The fire on the wick, as far as appearance goes, certainly seems always the same, the continuity of its movement giving it the look of being an uninterrupted and self-centred whole; but in reality it is always passing itself along and never remains the same; the moisture which is extracted by the heat is burnt up and changed into smoke the moment it has burst into flame and this alterative force effects the movement of the flame, working by itself the change of the subject-matter into smoke; just, then, as it is impossible for one who has touched that flame twice on the same place, to touch twice the very same flamehyperlink (for the speed of the alteration is too quick; it does not wait for that second touch, however rapidly it may be effected; the flame is always fresh and new; it is always being produced, always transmitting itself, never remaining at one and the same place), a thing of the same kind is found to be the case with the constitution of our body. There is influx and afflux going on in it in an alterative progress until the moment that it ceases to live; as long as it is living it has no stay; for it is either being replenished, or it is discharging in vapour, or it is being kept inmotion by both of these processes combined. If, then, a particular man is not the same even as he was yesterdayhyperlink , but is made different by this transmutation, when so be that the Resurrection shall restore our body to life again, that single man will become a crowd of human beings, so that with his rising again there will be found the babe, the child, the boy, the youth, the man, the father, the old man, and all the intermediate persons that he once was. But furtherhyperlink ; chastity and profligacy are both carried on in the flesh; those also who endure the most painful tortures for their religion, and those on the other hand who shrink from such, both one class and the other reveal their character in relation to fleshly sensations; how, then, can justice be done at the Judgmenthyperlink ?


131 Such theories are developed in the Phaedo of Plato; and constitute o etepoj twn logwn, criticized more fully below.

132 Reading dokei, h to empalin, instead of the corrupt dokeih to empalin.

133 o protepoj (logoj). The second is mentioned below. "The same absurdity exists in the other of the two theories as well." Obviously these two theories are those alluded to at the beginning of this last speech of Macrina, where, speaking of the heathen transmigration, she says, "While some of them extend this absurdity even to trees and shrubs, so that they consider their wooden life as corresponding and akin to humanity (i.e. o protepuj logoj), others of them opine only thus much, that the soul exchanges one man for another man." &c. (i.e. o etepoj). In either case the soul is supposed to return from the dead body to heaven, and then by a fresh fall into sin there, to sink down again. The absurdity and the godlessness is just as glaring, Macrina says, in the last case (the Platonic soul-rotation) as in the first (Transmigration pure and simple). But the one point in both in contact with the Christian Resurrection is this, that the soul of the departed does assume another body.

134 h kat auton (i. e. bion) diecodoj. The Editions have kat autwn. Krabinger well translates by "percursatio." Cf. Phoedrus, p. 247 A.

135 suntrofw.

136 alla mhn introduces a fact into the argument (cf. kai mhn); Lat. "verum enimvero."

137 ton ofqalmon blaptomenhn.

138 logw.

139 Heb. xi. 3.

140 that it is an object of his faith, &c. In the Greek the men contrasts the Apostle's declaration on this point with his silence as to the "how."

141 militates against, &c. 'All' oux omologeitai (reading then oti to eterogenej exei proj ekeinhn ta onta). Cf. Plato, Tim. 29 C, autoi autoij oux omologoumenoi logoi, "theories that contradict each other." This world cannot come out of the Supreme Being: its alien nature contradicts that. Krabinger's translation is therefore wrong, "sed non constat:" and Oehler's, "Aber das ist nicht angemacht."

142 o logoj.

143 Reading ioh dh.

144 h fusij.

145 The long Greek sentence, which begins here with a genitive absolute (thj de swmatikhj ktisewj, k.t.l.), leading up to nothing but the anacoluthon peri wn tosouton k.t.l., has been broken up in translating. Doubtless this anacoluthon can be explained by the sentences linked on to the last words (tw logw) of the genitive clause, which are so long as to throw that clause quite into the background. There is no need therefore to take the words where this anacoluthon begins, down to swma ginetai, as a parenthesis, with Krabinger and Oehler; especially as the words that follow ginetai are a direct recapitulation of what immediately precedes.

146 Reading, as Dr. H. Schmidt conjectures, kai toutou palin, cf. 205 C.

147 Origen, Gregory's master in most of his theology, did teach this very thing, the pre-existence of the soul: nor did he attempt to deny that some degree of transmigration was a necessary accompaniment of such teaching; only he would adjust the moral meaning of it. Cf. c. Celsum, Lib. iii. 75. "And even if we should treat (i. e. medically) those who have caught the folly of the transmigration of souls from doctors who push down a reasoning nature into any of the unreasoning natures, or even into that which is insensate, how can any say that we shall not work improvement in their souls by teaching them that the bad do not have allotted to them by way of punishment that insensate or unreasoning state, but that what is inflicted by God upon the bad, be it pain or affliction, is only in the way of a very efficacious cure for them? This is the teaching of the wise Christian: he attempts to teach the simpler of his flock as fathers do the merest infants." Not the theory itself, but the exaggeration of it, is here combated.

148 ek trefomenou trefouenon.

149 kata logon.

150 This seems like a prelude to the Realism of the Middle Ages.

151 Each individual soul represents, to Gregory's view, a "thought" of God, which becomes visible by the soul being born. There will come a time when all these "thoughts," which complete, and do not destroy, each other, will have completed the plhrwma (Humanity) which the Deity contemplates. This immediate apparition of a soul, as a "thought" of God, is very unlike the teaching of his master Origen: and yet more sober, and more scriptural.

152 The situation here is, as Dr. H. Schmidt points out, just like that in the Phaedo of Plato, where all are satisfied with Socrates' discourse, except Kebes and Simmias, who seize the precious moments still left, to bring forward an objection which none but their great Teacher could remove.

153 periodikhn: a better reading than parodikhn, which most Codd, have.

154 receiving the same term (sunonomazomenhj) as the raising up of that which is actually prostate on the ground (tou gewdouj), i. e. the term anastasij is extended by analogy to embrace the entire movement of the atoms; Though there is here of course an allusion to the elevation of the nature from the "earthly" to the "heavenly," and perhaps to the raising of the body from the tomb, yet the primary meaning is that the term anastasij is derived from its special use of raising from the ground one who lies prostrate (as a suppliant). Some of the elements of the body are supposed to be gewdh, i. e. mingled with their kindred earth. But though strictly the word anastasij should apply to them alone, it does not do so, but denotes more generally the movement of all the atoms to reform the body.

155 Gregory quotes as usual the LXX. for this Psalm (cxviii. 27): Qeoj kurioj, kai epefanen hmin susthsasqe thn eorthn en toij pukazousin ewj twn keratwn tou qusiasthriou. [Krabinger has replaced suathsasqe from one of his Codd. for the common susthsasqai; but if this is retained wste must be understood. Cf. Matt., Gr. Gr. §532.] The LXX. is rendered by the Psalterium Romanum "constitute diem in confrequentatianibus." So also Eusebius, Theodoret, and Chrysostom interpret. But the Psalterium Gallicanum reproduces the LXX. otherwise, i.e. in condensis, as Apollinaris and Jerome (in frondosis) also understand it. "Adorn the feast with green boughs, even to the horns of the altar": Luther. "It is true that during the time of the second temple the altar of burnt offering was planted round about at the Feast of Tabernacles with large branches of osiers, which leaned over the edge of that altar": Delitzsch (who however says that this is, linguistically, untenable). Gregory's rendering differs from this only in making pukazousin masculine.

156 Reading toij ezwfen peribolhj.

157 Reading dhlonoti.

158 Ezek. xxxvii. 1-10.

159 Gregory, as often, seems to quote from memory (upameifqhsesqai, but 1 Cor. xv. 52 allaghsomeqa; and St. Paul says hmeij de, i.e. "we shall be changed," in distinction from the dead generally, who "shall be raised incorruptible"). But the doctrine of a general resurrection, with or without change, is quite in harmony with the end of this treatise. Cf. p. 468.

160 the incorruptible tribunal. The Judgment comes after the Resurrection (cf. 250 A, 254 A, 258 D), and after the purifying and chastising detailed above. The latter is represented by Gregory as a necessary process of nature: but not till the Judgment will the moral value of each life be revealed. There is no contradiction, such as Moller tries to find, between this Dialogue and Gregory's Oratio Catechetica. There too he is speaking of chastisement after the Resurrection and before the Judgment. "For not everything that is granted in the resurrection a return to existence will return to the same kind of life. There is a wide interval between those who have been purified (i. e. by baptism) and those who still need purification." ..."But as for those whose weaknesses have become inveterate, and to whom no purgation of their defilement has been applied, no mystic water, no invocation of the Divine power, no amendment by repentance, it is absolutely necessary that they should be submitted to something proper to their case," i.e. to compensate for Baptism, which they have never received (c. 35).

161 fhsin should probably be struck out (as the insertion of a copyist encouraged by eipon below): five of Krabinger's Codd. omit it.

162 eipon. Cf. 243 C: kai ama legein epexeiroun osa proj anatrophn thj anastasewj para twn eristikwn efeurisketai. So that this is not the first occasion on which objections to the Resurrection have been started by Gregory, and there is no occasion to adopt the conjecture of Augentius and Sifanus, an eipoimi, "dixerim", especially as eipon is found in all Codd. without exception.

163 Reading katarriknwqenta.

164 eira nosw. That these words can mean leprosy, as well as epilepsy, seems clear from Eusebius.

165 to touch twice the very same flame. Albert Jahn (quoted by Krabinger) here remarks that Gregory's comparison rivals that of Heraclitus: and that there is a deliberate intention of improving on the expression of the latter, "you cannot step twice into the same stream." Above (p. 459), Gregory has used directly Heraclitus' image, "so that Nature's stream may not flow on for ever, pouring forward in her successive births," &c. See also De Hom. Opif. c. 13 (beginning).

166 not the same even as he was yesterday. Cf. Gregory's Oratio de Mortuis, t. III. p. 633 A. "It is not exaggeration to say that death is woven into our life. Practically such an idea will be found by any one to be based on a reality: for experiment would confirm this belief that the man of yesterday is not the same as the man of today in material substance, but that something of him must be alway becoming dead, or be growing, or being destroyed, or ejected: ...Wherefore, according to the expression of the mighty Paul, `we die daily

0': we are not always the same people remaining in the same homes of the body, but each moment we change from what we were by reception and ejectment, altering continually into a fresh body."

167 A fresh objection is here started. It is answered (254 A, B).

168 Which succeeds (and is bound up with) the Resurrection. The argument is, "the flesh has behaved differently in different persons here; how then can it be treated alike in all by being allowed to rise again? Even before the judgment an injustice has been done by all rising in the same way to a new life."-In what follows, n tou autou nun men, k.t.l., the difficulty of different dispositions in the same person is considered.