Christian Churches of God

No. B3





Clement of Alexandria:
Stromateis – Book 3


Book 3 of the Stromateis of Clement of Alexandria was not translated but left in the Latin in the Ante-Nicene Fathers when it was published. In the public interest, this translation by John Ferguson published by the Catholic University of America Press (1991) is reproduced with their permission.



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The Catholic University of America Press
Fathers of the Church Series Vol. #85
Clement of Alexandria - Stromateis
Translated by John Ferguson



Publication details of Stromateis Books 1-3
as translated by John Ferguson



Copyright ©  1991


All rights reserved





Clement, of Alexandria, ca. 150 - ca. 215.

[Stromata.  Libri 1-3.  English]
Stromateis.  Books 1-3 / Clement of Alexandria: translated by John Ferguson.

p. cm. - (The Fathers of the Church; v. 85)

Translation of Libri 1-3 of: Stromateis.
Includes bibliographical references and indices.


ISBN  0-8132-0085-7


1.  Theology-Early church, ca. 30-600.

2.  Gnosticism – Controversial literature – Early works to 1800.

3.  Christian life – Early church, ca. 30-600.

I.  Ferguson, John, 1921-1989  II.  Title.  III.  Series.

276 s-dc
[239’.1]    90-21352


Clement of Alexandria: Stromateis – Book 3


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Views of Valentinus and Basilides on Marriage


1(1) The sect of Valentinus justify physical union from heaven from divine emanations, and approve of marriage. The followers of Basilides say that when the apostles enquired whether it was not better to refrain from marriage, the Lord answered, “It is not everyone who can accept this saying: some are eunuchs from birth, others from necessity.” 1 (2) They explain the saying something as follows. Some men have from birth a physical aversion in relation to women. They follow their physical make-up and do well not to marry. (3) These, they say, are the eunuchs from birth. Those who are eunuchs from necessity are those ascetics who like the limelight and exercise control over themselves in hope of being newsworthy. Those who have suffered castration accidentally have become eunuchs from necessity. 2 It follows that those who are eunuchs from necessity are not eunuchs for any rational cause. (4) But those who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the eternal kingdom are making a choice of reasoned principle in their view because of the incidentals of married life; they are afraid of the amount of time spent on the provision of necessities.

2(1) Their view is that the Apostle’s words “It is better to marry than to burn” 3 mean “Do not hurl your soul into the fire, clinging on night and day in fear of falling away from abstinence. A soul directed towards clinging on is being cut off


1.         See Matt 19.11, but Clement seems to be quoting from a different source. Valentinus and Basilides are the two great second-century A.D. Gnostic teachers; Basilides was certainly in Alexandria.

2.         Some editors regard this as a gloss.

3.         1 Cor 7.9.


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from hope.” (2) “So, if you have a quarrelsome wife” (I am quoting Isidore’s Ethics), “be patient with her, to avoid being wrenched violently out of God’s grace; get rid of the fire with your semen; then go to prayer with a good conscience.” 4 (3) “When your prayer of gratitude,” he goes on, “sinks to a petition, and your petition is that in future you may not act wrongly, rather than that you may act rightly – get married. (4) A man may be young or poor or highly sexed and unwilling to follow the Apostle’s advice and get married. He must not be cut off from his Christian brother. He should say, ‘I have entered the temple; there is nothing I can suffer.’ (5) If he has an inkling of what is happening to him, he should say, ‘Brother, lend me a hand to save me from going wrong.’ Then he will receive help, spiritually and physically. He has only to desire to achieve 5 the good, and he will attain it.

3(1) “But sometimes we say with our lips, ‘We do not want to sin,’ but our intention is disposed towards sin. Such a person refrains from doing what he wants to do out of fear of punishment being set to his account. (2) The human condition involves some things which are natural and necessary, others which are merely natural. 6 To wear clothes is natural and necessary; all this business of sexual intercourse is natural but not necessary.” 7 (3) I have passed on these statements to expose those followers of Basilides who do not lead upright lives, claiming that they have the authority actually to commit sin because of their perfection, or that they will in any event be saved by nature, even if they do sin, because of their ingrained election; their predecessors in the sect do not allow anyone to do the same 8 as they are doing. (4) So they should not wear the name of Christ as a cloak, live more licentiously than the most intemperate of the pagans, and bring ill-repute upon the


4.         This passage is difficult: The MS has •<JXP@L; I read •<XP@L with Epiphanius; Chadwick and Oulton say they are following Epiphanius but translate •BXP@L; the quarrelsome wife comes from Prov 21.19; Isidore was the son of Basilides.

5.         Reading •B”DJ4F”4 with Epiphanius.

6.         Added by Stählin as necessary to the sense.

7.         The analysis is from Epicurus (see Usener Epicurea 456).

8.         Reading J”ÛJV for J”ØJV after Epiphanius.


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name. [The Scripture text is] “Such men are false apostles, crooked workers” down to “whose doom shall match their acts.” 9

4(1) Self-discipline means disdain of the body, following obedience 10 to God. Self-discipline applies, not just to sexual matters, but to everything else for which the soul lusts improperly, because it is not satisfied with the bare necessities. (2) Self-discipline applies to speech, possessions and their use, desire generally. 11 It is not just that it teaches us self-control. It offers us the gift of self-control, a divine power and grace of God. 12 (3) I must tell you our people’s view of the matter. We bless abstention from sexual intercourse and those to whom it comes as a gift of God. We admire monogamy and respect for one marriage and one only. We say that we ought to share in suffering and “bear one another’s burdens,” 13 for fear that anyone who thinks he is standing firmly should in fact fall. 14 It is about second marriages that the Apostle says, “If you are on fire, get married.” 15



Views of Carpocrates and Epiphanes on Marriage


5(1) The followers of Carpocrates and Epiphanes think that wives should be held in common. 16 It is through them that the greatest ill-repute has accrued to the name of Christ. (2) This


  9.       2 Cor 11.13-15.

10.      The Stoics believed in a life in accordance with nature – homologia was a technical term for this (see SVF 3.11, Cicero, On the Highest Goods 3.6.21); Clement uses the word in relation to God.

11.      See Aristotle, Nichomachaean Ethics 7.4.1146 B 9 ff.

12.      See Wis 8.21.

13.      Galen 6.2.

14.      1 Cor 10.12.

15.      1 Cor 7.9.

16.      This whole account is packed with difficulty: Celsus (C. 170 A.D.), a pagan philosopher attacking Christianity, wrote of “Harpocratians who follow Salome” (see Origen, Against Celsus 5.62-4); Carpocratians are mentioned in Hegesippus, Memoirs (see Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4.22.5); Irenaeus (Against Heresies 1.25) gives a summary of Carpocrates’ doctrine: The world was created by lower angels. Jesus through “recollection” of the divine was able to evade their power and others can do the same by revealed knowledge. Once they are saved they can live as they will, morality being a human convention (Irenaeus includes details of initiation, including branding on the ear, and mentions a woman leader named Marcellina). Harpocrates was the Egyptian god Horus; Epiphanes means ‘god incarnate’; the festival on Cephallenia, one of the Ionian islands to the west of Greece, sounds like a new moon festival; Alexandria in Cephallenia could well be a divine figure named after the city, but Clement does seem to know of an Epiphanes who wrote a book and died at seventeen, although perhaps he has wrongly identified this lad with a divine figure in Same; the Greeks believed, as is found in Cynic and Stoic utopias, that community of wives was practiced by primitive peoples.


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Epiphanes, whose writings I actually possess, was Carpocrates’ son. His mother’s name was Alexandria. On his father’s side he was an Alexandrian, on his mother’s he was from Cephallenia. His life lasted only seventeen years. At Same in Cephallenia he has been honored as a god. A shrine of quarried blocks of stone was built and dedicated to him there, together with altars, sacred precincts, and a university. The inhabitants of Cephallenia gather at the shrine at the time of the new moon, and offer sacrifice to Epiphanes to celebrate his apotheosis as if it were his birthday. There are libations, feasts and the singing 17 of hymns. (3) He was educated by his father in the general curriculum and in Platonic philosophy, and taught the knowledge of the Monad, l8 the source of the heresy of the Carpocratians.

6(1) In his work On Righteousness 19 he says, “God’s righteousness is a kind of social equity. 20 There is equity in the way the sky is stretched out in all directions and embraces the whole earth in a circle. The night is equitable in displaying all the stars. From above, God pours out the light of the sun, which is responsible for the day and father of the light, over the earth equally for all those with the power of sight. The gift of sight is common to all. (2) There is no distinction between rich and poor, ruler and ruled, 21 fools and wise, female and male, slave


17.      Reading š*@<J”4 for 8X(@<J”4 after Epiphanius.

18.      The Monad alone existed but was lonely; an Idea emanated from it, and from their intercourse emerged the universe.

19.      Henry Chadwick (Alexandrian Christianity, LCC 2.25) writes, “The work merely consists of the scribblings of an intelligent but nasty-minded adolescent of somewhat pornographic tendencies.”

20.      See Plato, Definitions 411 E.

21.      Reading *­:@< ³ with Stählin.


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and free. 22 He treats even the irrational animals no differently; on all the beasts he pours out his sunlight equally from above; he ratifies his righteousness to good and bad, so that none can have more than their share or deprive their neighbors so as to have twice as much light as they. 23 (3) The sun draws up 24 from the ground food for all animals alike; his righteousness is shared by all and given to all equally. In this respect it is exactly the same for individual cows and cattle as a whole, individual pigs and pigs as a whole, individual sheep and sheep as a whole, and so on. (4) It is this common shared quality which is revealed as righteousness among them. The same principle of commonality applies to all the species of plants alike in their seeding. Food is available in common to all animals that pasture on the land, and to all equally. It is not regulated by any law, but is there for all, as it were, in unison, by the generous provision of the giver, the 25 one who has authorized it so. This, is his righteousness. 26

7(1) “Matters concerning the production of offspring do not involve any written law either (or it would have been handed down in writing). All beings sow their seeds and produce their offspring on equal terms, possessing an innate common disposition from the hands of righteousness. The author and Father of all gave to all alike on equal terms an eye to enable them to see. He made this dispensation out of his righteousness. He made no distinction between male and female, rational and irrational, no distinction of any kind. He dispensed sight by his grace to all alike by a single ordinance in accordance with the principle of equal sharing. (2) The laws,” he goes on, “by their incapacity to punish human ignorance, actually taught illegal behavior. The individualism allowed by the laws cut damagingly at the roots of the universalism of God’s Law.” He does not understand the Apostle’s dictum in the words: “It was


22.      Note that these are divisions said by Paul to be done away within Christ (see Gal 3.28; Col. 3.11).

23.      Compare Matt 5.45.

24.      Reading •<“JX88”4 with Sylburg.

25.      Adding P”4 with Hiller.

26.      Some editors treat this as a gloss, perhaps rightly.


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through the Law that I knew sin.” 27 (3) He suggests that “mine” and “yours” came into existence through the laws, so that the earth and possessions were no longer put to common use. 28 The same applies to marriage. (4) “For God has made vines for all in common; they do not deny the sparrow or the thief. So too with corn and the other fruits of the earth. It is transgression of the principle of common sharing and equality which has produced the thief of fruits and domestic animals.

8(1) “So God created everything for humanity in common. He brings the female to the male in common, 29 and joined all animals together in a similar way. In this he showed that righteousness is a combination of community and equity. (2) But those who have been born in this way have denied the commonality that unites births, and say, 30 ‘A man 3l should marry a single wife and stick to her.’ Everyone can share her as the rest of the animals show.” (3) After these words, which I quote precisely, he goes on in the same vein to add, in these very words: “With a view to the maintenance of the race he has implanted in the male strong and energetic sexual desire. Law cannot make this disappear, nor can social mores or anything else. It is God’s decree.” (4) How can this fellow still be listed in our church members’ register when he openly does away with the Law and the Gospels alike by these words? The former says, “You shall not commit adultery,” the latter, “Everyone who looks with lust has already committed adultery.” 32 (5) The words found in the Law, “You shall not lust,” show that it is one single God who makes his proclamations 33 through the Law, prophets and Gospels. He says, “You shall not lust for your neighbor’s wife.” 34 (6) The Jew’s neighbor is not the Jew, who is a brother of the same spirit. The alternative is that the neighbor is one of another race. How can a person who shares in the


27.      Rom 7.7.

28.      Omitting P@4<V J, (�D which is out of place.

29.      Epiphanes passes from the meaning “universal” to “as a common possession.”

30.      Reading nVF4< with Hilgenfeld.

31.      Reading Ó with Sylburg for .

32.      Exod 20.13; Matt 5.28.

33.      I take this to be middle.

34.      Exod 20.17.


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same spirit fail to be a neighbor? Abraham is father of Hebrews and gentiles alike. 35

9(1) If the adulteress and her paramour are both punished with death, it is surely clear that the commandment “You shall not lust for your neighbor’s wife” applies to the gentiles, so that anyone who follows the Law in keeping his hands off his neighbor’s wife and his sister may hear directly from the Lord: “But I say to you, you shall not lust.” The addition of the pronoun “I” shows that the application of the commandment is more rigidly binding, (2) and that Carpocrates and Epiphanes are battling against God. Epiphanes 36 in that notorious book, I mean 37 On Righteousness, goes on like this, and I quote: (3) “So you must hear the words ‘You shall not lust’ as a joke of the Lawgiver, to which he added the even more ludicrous words ‘for your neighbor’s property.’ The very one who endows human beings with desire to sustain the processes of birth gives orders that it is to be suppressed, though he suppresses it in no other living creature! The words ‘for your neighbor’s wife’ are even more ridiculous since he is forcing public property to become private property.”

10(1) These are the doctrines of our noble Carpocratians. They say that these people and some other zealots for the same vicious practices gather for dinner (I could never call their congregation a Christian love-feast), men and women together, and after they have stuffed themselves (“The Cyprian goddess is there when you are full,” they say. 38), they knock over the lamps, put out the light that would expose their fornicating righteousness,” and couple as they will with any woman they fancy. 39 So in this love-feast they practice commonality. Then by daylight they demand any woman they want in obedience –


35.      Gen 17.5; Rom 4.16.

36.      Adding ÓH with Wilaniowitz.

37.      Reading 8X(T with Sylburg for 8X(T<.

38.      From Euripides, fr. 895 N (see Athenaeus, 6.270 C), reading accordingly J@4 5bBD4H Á; the Cyprian goddess is Aphrodite, the goddess of sexual love.

39.      This was a charge brought against ordinary Christians (e.g., Origen, Against Celsus 6.40) who practiced remarkable fellowship between men and women, meeting together behind closed doors.


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it would be wrong to say to the Law of God – to the law of Carpocrates. I guess that is the sort of legislation Carpocrates must have established for the copulation of dogs, pigs, and goats. (2) I fancy he has, in fact, misunderstood Plato’s dictum in the Republic that wives are to be held in common by everyone. Plato really meant that before marriage they are to be available to any who intend to ask them to marry, just as the theatre is open to all spectators; but that once a woman has married she belongs to the particular man who secured her first and is no longer held in common by everyone. 40

11(1) Xanthus in his book entitled the Works of the Magi says, “The Magi think 4l it right to have sexual union with their mothers, daughters and sisters. The women are held in common by mutual agreement, not forcibly or secretively, when one man wants to marry another’s wife.” 42 (2) I fancy Jude was speaking prophetically of these and similar sects in his letter when he wrote: “So too with these people caught up in their dreams” who do not set upon the truth with their eyes fully open, down to “pompous phrases pour from their mouth.” 43



Man Is Born into Pain and So Should Abstain from Marriage


12(1) If even Plato and the Pythagoreans, like the followers of Marcion later (though he was far from maintaining that wives should be held in common), regarded birth as something evil, Marcion’s followers held natural processes as evil because they were derived from matter that was evil, and from an unrighteous creator. 44 (2) On this argument they have no wish to


40.      Plato, Republic 5.457 D; Clement’s version is a total misrepresentation taken from the Stoic Epictetus (2.4.8-10): In Plato the “communism” applies only to the ruling class where men and women have equal status, and neither possesses the other; there is sexual abstinence and no promiscuity; copulation is permitted at festivals with a partner allocated by lot.

41.      Reading º(@Ø<J”4 with Stählin for :\(<L<J”4.

42.      Xanthus of Lydia (fifth century B.C.) was a historian who wrote a history of Lydia (see FGrH 2 A 90, 3 C 765)

43.      The Epistle of Jude 8-16.

44.      Marcion was the greatest of the second-century heretics, a shipowner, and perhaps the son of a bishop, who drew a sharp and absolute antithesis between Law and Love (or Spirit), the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Creator and the Redeemer. I do not understand how editors tolerate *4P”4@L contrary to Marcion’s beliefs (see Book Two, nt. 117), but it is an obvious correction by an orthodox scribe who has not understood: I propose •*\P@L.


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fill the cosmos the creator brought into being, and choose to abstain from marriage. They stand in opposition to their creator and make haste towards the one they call god, who is not (they say) god in another sense. As a result, they have no desire to leave anything of theirs behind them here on earth. So they are abstinent not by an act of will but through hatred of the creator and the refusal to use any of his productions. (3) But in their irreverent war with God they stand apart from natural reason. They despise God’s generous goodness. Even if they choose not to marry, they still use the food he has produced, they still breathe the creator’s air. They are themselves his works and live in his world. They say that they have received the gospel of an alien knowledge. In one respect they ought to recognize the grace of the Lord of the cosmos; it is here on earth that they have received the gospel. 45

13(1) We shall present precise arguments against these people when we treat the doctrine of first principles. 46 The philosophers whom we have mentioned, from whom Marcion’s followers derived their blasphemous doctrine that birth is evil, although they prance about as if it were their own, do not, in fact, hold that it is naturally evil, but evil only to the soul which has discerned the truth. (2) They regard the soul as divine, and dragged down here onto earth as to a place of punishment. In their view, souls that have become embodied need to be purified. (3) This doctrine does not belong to Marcion’s followers, but to those who hold that souls are placed in bodies, change their integument 47 and transmigrate. There will be another opportunity to respond to them when we discourse on the soul. 48


45.      Chadwick notes that Clement is using an argument used by pagans against Christians generally against Marcion’s followers (see Origen, Against Celsus 6.53, 8.28).

46.      A part of the Stromateis promised but never written.

47.      Reading :,J,<*b,F2”4 (cf. Timaeus Locrus 104 D) which seems better than :,J,<*,ÃF2”4; the doctrine is that of the Platonists and Pythagoreans.

48.      Stromateis, 5.88.


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14(1) Heraclitus certainly deprecates birth when he says, “Once born they have a desire to live and have their dooms,” or rather enjoy their rest, “and they leave behind children to become dooms.” 49 (2) Empedocles is clearly of the same mind when he says,

I wept and wailed when I saw the unfamiliar face,

and again,

For out of living creatures he made corpses, changing their forms,

and once more,

Oh! Oh! Unhappy race of mortals, unblest!
Out of what strife, what groans were you born. 50

(3) Further, the Sibyl says,

You are human, mortal, and fleshly, and are nothing. 51

This is not far from the poet’s words:

Earth nurtures nothing feebler than a human being. 52

15(1) Yes, and Theognis too points to birth being evil when he speaks in the following terms:

For earth-dwellers, best of all is not to be born,
not to see the dazzling sunbeams, or, once born, to pass through Hades’ gates as soon as may be. 53

(2) Euripides, the writer of tragic drama, writes lines that accord with these:


49.      DK 22 B 20: Heraclitits of Ephesus (C. 500 B.C.) was a pessimist who seems to be anticipating the Freudian death wish; in leading up to the quotation I read ¦B,4*�< with Deils.

50.      DK 31 B 118, 125, 124 reading ,Ç*,z with Sylburg for ²*¥ in the second passage (quoted here only); Empedocles of Acragas in Sicily (c. 493-433 B.C.) was a strange combination of scientist and mystagogue; the quotations are from his poem Purification.

51.      Sibylline Oracles, fr. 1. 1.

52.      Homer, Odyssey 18.130: Note that Homer is simply “the poet.”

53.      Theognis 425-7 (sixth century B.C.) was an elegiac poet from Megara, some of whose poetry seems wrongly attributed.


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We ought to gather when a man is born
to mourn the evils to which he is coming.
When a man is dead and free from troubles,
then we should rejoice and felicitate him as we send him away. 54

(3) Elsewhere he says something similar:

Who knows if life is death,
death life? 55

16(1) Herodotus is obviously making Solon say the same as this: “Croesus, every human being is a disaster.” 56 His story about Cleobis and Biton has the clear purpose of attacking birth and praising death. 57

(2) The generation of men is like that of leaves,

says Homer. 58 (3) Plato in the Cratylus attributes to Orpheus the doctrine that the soul is in the body as a punishment. Here are his words: “Some people say that it is the burial place of the soul, which is at the present time entombed in it. (4) Because the soul uses the body to mention whatever it would mention, the body is rightly called the soul’s burial place. However, it is the followers of Orpheus who seem to have established the name above all others, saying that the soul is paying the penalty for acts that have earned the penalty.” 59

17(1) It is also worth noting Philolaus’ remark. The follower of Pythagoras says, “The theologians and seers of old are witnesses that the soul is yoked to the body to undergo acts of


54.      Euripides, fr. 449 N from Cresphontes; but this is designed to be dramatically appropriate, not the poet’s view.

55.      Euripides, fr. 638 N from Polyidus, a famous and much parodied sentence (e.g., Aristophanes, Frogs 1477-8).

56.      Herodotus, 1.32 slightly misquoted.

57.      Herodotus, 1.31; Plutarch, Moralia 58 E, 108 F; Solon 27: Cleobis and Biton were from Argos; they took the place of the oxen which should have pulled their mother’s carriage to Hera’s temple; she prayed for their felicity, and they died in their sleep; their statues may be seen at Delphi.

58.      Homer, Iliad 6.146.

59.      Plato, Cratylus 400 B-C. The pun is Plato’s: Orphism was a religious movement centering on the legendary musician Orpheus. Its aim was to free the soul from the prison of the body.


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punishment and is buried in it as in a grave.” 60 (2) Pindar, speaking of the Eleusinian mysteries, adds,

Blessed is the man who has seen these things before passing beneath the hollow earth.
He knows the end of life as he knows the beginning granted by God. 61

(3) Accordingly, Plato in the Phaedo does not hesitate to write as follows: “These men who established our mysteries” in the same vein down to “he will live with the Gods.” (4) What about when he says, “As long as we have the body, and our soul is compounded with such an evil thing, we shall never adequately grasp the object of our desire”? Is he not enigmatically suggesting that birth is the cause of the greatest evils? (5) In the Phaedo he adds his witness: “All those who apply themselves to philosophy in the right way run the risk of the rest failing to notice that they are simply practicing the state of dying and of death.” 62

18(1) And again, “So on earth too the soul of the philosopher particularly despises the body, tries to escape from it, and seeks to secure an existence on its own.” 63 (2) This clearly harmonizes with the divine Apostle’s words: “Wretch that I am, all too human, who shall rescue me from this body of death?” 64 – unless he is using the phrase “body of death” metaphorically of the common mind of those who have been seduced into vice.


60.      DK 44 B 14: Philolaus (fifth century B.C.) was a Pythagorean from southern Italy, an important figure in Pythagorean astronomy; the authenticity of the fragments is disputed.

61.      Pindar, fr. 137 a S, omitting P@4<�, from a dirge perhaps for Hippocrates (brother to Cleisthenes); the climax of the revelation was something seen, perhaps a golden ear of corn since the mysteries were associated with the Corn Mother or Earth Mother Demeter, and her daughter the Maid, with the growth of the crops, and with life after death; Pindar (fifth century B.C.) was a Boeotian, the greatest of the Greek choral lyric poets.

62.      Plato, Phaedo 69 C, 66 B, 64 A: Did Clement assume that his readers would recall the first passage from memory, or know exactly where to took for it, or was it a memo to himself to fill in the gap in his final version?

63.      Plato, Phaedo 65 C-D.

64.      Rom 7.24.


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(3) Long before Marcion, Plato, in the first book of the Republic, clearly saw sexual intercourse as the origin of birth and rejected it accordingly. (4) In the course of his praise of old age he adds, “I would have you know that as the other pleasures, the physical ones, die down, my delight and pleasure in conversation correspondingly increases.” (5) He remarks on the practice of sex: “Hush, my dear fellow. I took the greatest pleasure in escaping from it, as in escaping from a crazy fierce dictator.” 65

19(1) Again in the Phaedo he writes disparagingly of birth: “The secret teaching on this matter is that human beings are in a kind of prison.” (2) And again, “Those who have a reputation for holy living that sets them apart from others are the people who are set free and liberated from these areas on earth as from a prison, and reach the pure home above.” 66 (3) All the same, even in that condition he recognizes the excellence of the government of the world, saying, “A man ought not to release himself from that prison and run away.” 67 (4) To sum up, he does not offer Marcion grounds for thinking 68 matter evil, when he himself speaks reverently about the world: (5) “All that is good is got from the supreme disposer. From its previous state all that is chaotic or corrupt in the sky comes into being; from that state the world has the same qualities and produces them in living things.” 69

20(1) He proceeds to add with even more clarity: “The physical element in its make-up was responsible for all this; this was at one time tied up with its primeval nature since it was a disorderly chaos before coming into its present state of order.” 70 (2) With equal power in the Laws as well, he expresses grief at the state of humankind in these words: “The gods took pity on humankind, born to labor as they were, and established the


65.      Plato, Republic 1.328 D, 329 C; the speaker is the elderly Cephalus quoting Sophocles.

66.      Plato, Phaedo 62 B, 114 B-C.

67.      Plato, Phaedo 62 B.

68.      Adding J@Ø with Heyse.

69.      Plato, Statesman 273 B-C.

70.      Plato, Statesman, preceding the previous passage.


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succession of festivals as a respite from their labors.” 71 (3) In the Epinomis he goes through the causes of this pitiful state and says, “From the first, birth was difficult for every living creature, first in achieving the state of an embryo, then in the process of birth, and again in growing up and being educated. It all takes place through countless difficulties. Everyone agrees on that.” 72

21(1) Well! Doesn’t Heraclitus call birth a death, in conformity with Pythagoras and with Socrates in the Gorgias in this passage: “Death is all that we see when awake, dreams all that we see when asleep.”? 73 But enough of this! When we discourse about first principles we will consider 74 the contradictions between the obscure sayings of the philosophers and the dogmatic assertions of Marcion’s followers. Except that I think I have shown clearly enough that Marcion took the impulse for his “strange” 75 doctrines from Plato without acknowledgment or understanding.

22(1) To proceed with our account of self-control. We were maintaining that the Greeks were highly critical of childbirth, looking askance at its inconveniences, and that Marcion’s followers understand this in a godless sense and show no gratitude to the creator. (2) Tragedy says,

Better for mortals not to be born than to be born.
It is with bitter pains that I bear
children. I bear and those I bear lack sense.
I groan – no use! – at seeing vicious children and losing good ones.
Even if they survive my poor heart melts with fear.
Then what is this goodness? One soul is
Enough anxiety and effort to sustain. 76

(3) More in the same vein he writes,


71.      Plato, Laws 2.653 C-D.

72.      [Plato] Ephinomis 973 D; reading “Þ with Sylburg for “ÛJ@.

73.      DK 22 B 21 (see nt. 49); Plato, Gorgias 492 E; reading AL2”(`D’ with Hervet: the exact reference is uncertain.

74.      See nt. 46; reading ¦B4FP,R`:,<“ with Sylburg for ¦B4FP,Rf:,2”.

75.      A punning allusion to Marcion’s true god called Stranger.

76.      Euripides, fr. inc. 908 N; the context is unknown.


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I have long thought and still think
that humans ought not to produce children,
seeing to what trials we engender them. 77

(4) But in these lines he clearly attributes the cause of evils to the primal beginnings with the words,

Born to disaster and ill fortune
you were born a human, and took a life
of disaster from the source from which this upper air
first gave to all humans the breezes that nourish life.
You are mortal: do not now begrudge your mortal state. 78

23(1) Again he presents similar ideas in the following passage:

No mortal is blessed,
none happy;
none was yet born sorrow-free. 79

(2) Again he writes,

Ah! Ah! how many the chances of sorrow for morals! How many its forms! None can tell its end. 80

(3) Once more he writes similarly,

Of all that mortals enjoy
nothing is happy through to the end. 81

24(1) On these grounds it is said that the Pythagoreans abstain from sex. My own view, on the contrary, is that they marry to produce children, and after raising a family they want to keep sexual pleasure under control. (2) This is why they place a mystic ban on eating beans, not because they lead to belching,


77.      TGF, fr. 111.

78.      TGF, fr. 112; reading B,BD”(X<“4 with Musgrave in 1.1, Ó*, with Potter n 1.4, and, with Valckenaer, omitting J@\ in 1.5; Clement seems to attribute all the passages to Euripides.

79.      Euripides, Iphigenia as Aulis 161-3.

80.      Euripides, fr. 211 from Antiope.

81.      Euripides, Suppliants 269-70 adding @Û*¥< from the received text, and reading ,Û*”4:@<@Ø< for -ä<.


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indigestion, and bad dreams, 82 or because a bean has the shape of a human head, as in the line

To eat beans is like eating your parents’ heads, 83

but rather because eating beans produces sterility in women. (3) Anyway, Theophrastus in the fifth book of his Causes of Plants 84 records that bean-pods set around the roots of young trees cause the shoots to dry up, and that if birds that haunt houses eat bean-pods for any length of time they become infertile.



Heretics Use Several Pretexts in Order to Exercise Licentiousness


25(1) From the heretics we have spoken of Marcion from Pontus who deprecates the use of worldly things because of his antipathy to their creator. (2) The creator is thus actually responsible for his self-control, if you can call it self-control. This giant who battles with God and thinks he can withstand him is an unwilling ascetic who runs down the creation and the formation of human beings. 85 (3) If they quote the Lord’s words addressed to Philip, “Let the dead bury their dead; for your part follow me,” 86 they should also reflect that Philip’s flesh was of the same formation, and he was not endowed with a polluted corpse. (4) Then how could he have a body of flesh without having a corpse? Because when the Lord put his passions to death he rose from the grave and lived to Christ. 87 (5) We have spoken of the lawless communism in women held by Carpocrates.


82.      See Plutarch, Moralia 286 D-E.

83.      FPG 1.200.

84.      Theophrastus, Causes of Plants 5.15.1 reading MLJ4Pä< with Sylburg; but Clement is working secondhand from Apollonius, Mirabilia 46; Theophrastus (C. 370 - 285 B.C.) from Eresus in Lesbos was a great scholar and teacher, successor to Aristotle.

85.      In Greek myth the giants attacked the gods, who were saved by Heracles. The conflict was portrayed on the Siphnian Treasury in Delphi, and the altar of Zeus at Pergamum (now in Berlin).

86.      Matt 8.22; Luke 9.60, but Philip is mentioned in neither passage; perhaps then Clement has taken the same story from a lost gospel.

87.      Col. 3.1,5; Rom 14.8.


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But when we mentioned Nicolaus’ remark we omitted one point. (6) They say that he had a pretty wife. After the Savior’s resurrection he was accused of jealousy by the apostles. He brought his wife out into their midst and offered her to anyone who wanted her in marriage. (7) They say that his action was consistent with the saying “The flesh is to be treated with contempt.” 88 Those who are members of his sect follow his word and act simply and uncritically, and indulge in unrestrained licence.

26(1) However, I learn that Nicolaus had relations with no woman other than his wedded wife, and of his children the girls grew to old age as virgins, and the son remained innocent. (2) In these circumstances it was a rejection of the passions to wheel 89 out the wife, over whom he was charged with jealousy, into the middle of the apostles; and his control of the generally acknowledged pleasures was a lesson in “treating the flesh with contempt.” I suppose that, following the Savior’s command, he did not want “to serve two masters,” 90 pleasure and God. (3) Anyway, they say that Matthias taught the lesson of fighting against the flesh, holding it in contempt, never giving in to its desire for unrestrained pleasure, and enabling the soul to grow through faith and revealed knowledge. 91

27(1) Those who call Licentious Aphrodite a mystical communion insult the latter name. 92 (2) It is called an action alike whether you do something wrong or right. In the same way communion is a good thing 93 when it involves a sharing of money, food, or clothing. But they use the word irreligiously


88.      See Stromateis 2.118.3.

89.      ¦PPbP80:”, ‘a wheeled platform,’ was used in the theater to display an internal tableau (see B. Knox, The Greek Theater [New Jersey, 1985], 271-2)

90.      Matt 6.24; Luke 16.13.

91.      Matthias filled the place of Judas in the Twelve (see Act 1.23-6); a gospel is attributed to him, which may be the same as the Traditions of Matthias, a work valued by Basilides and his followers.

92.      For Licentious Aphrodite (physical rather than spiritual love) see Plato, Symposium 181 A, but he may be forcing the meaning of a universal goddess; there were cults in Erythrae, Cos, Megalopolis, and Thebes as well as Athens.

93.      Reading :¥< with Hiller for *¥P”Â.


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in applying it to any kind of sexual intercourse. (3) Anyway, there is a story that one of them encountered one of our beautiful virgins and said, “It is written, ‘Give yourself to anyone who asks.’” 94 She did not understand the fellow’s impudence and replied with the height of propriety, “If the subject is marriage, speak to my mother.” (4) What godlessness! These communists in sexual freedom, these brothers in lustfulness, actually pervert the Savior’s words. They are a disgrace not just to philosophy but to the whole of human life. They deface the truth, or rather raze it to the ground insofar as they can. (5) The wretches make a religion out of physical union and sexual intercourse, and think that this will lead them into the kingdom of God.

28(1) It is to the brothels that that sort of communism leads. Pigs and goats should be their companions. It is the whores who preside over the bordello and indiscriminately receive all comers who have most to hope from them. (2) “That is not how you have learned Christ, if you have been told of him, if you have learned your lessons in him, as the truth is in Jesus Christ – to leave on one side your former way of life, to put off the old human nature, which is deluded by its lusts and on the road to destruction. (3) Be made new in mind and spirit. Put on the new human nature, created in God’s way, in the righteousness and holiness which truth demands, following the likeness of the divine.” 95 (4) “Become imitators of God, like dear children, and set your course in love, as Christ loved you and gave himself up for us as an offering and sacrifice to God producing a pleasing fragrance. (5) Fornication, indecency of any kind, the profit motive, coarseness, trivial talk should never even be mentioned among you as is right for God’s people.” 96 (6) Yes, and the Apostle teaches the practice of chastity in speech when he writes, “Know well that everyone who practices fornication” and so on down to “but rather show them up.” 97


94.      Misquoting Luke 6.30; Matt 5.42.

95.      Eph 4.20-4.

96.      Eph 5.1-4.

97.      Eph 5.5-11.


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29(1) Their doctrine was derived from an apocryphal work. 98 In fact I will quote the passage which is the mother of their impropriety. Whether the actual authors of the book are responsible (see their senselessness if in their licentiousness they falsely impugn God), or whether they encountered some others, they heard sound doctrine and held distorted ideas about it. (2) This is how the passage runs: “All things were one. Since this Unity thought it right not to be left alone, a Spirit of Inspiration emerged from it. It had intercourse with this and produced the Beloved. From the Beloved emerged its own Spirit of Inspiration, with which it had intercourse, producing Powers, invisible and inaudible” down to “each by her own name.” (3) If these people were speaking of spiritual unions, like Valentinus’ followers, then one might perhaps accept 99 their assumption. But only a person who has renounced salvation could attribute to the holy spirit of prophecy a union consisting in sexual violence.

30(1) Similar doctrines are expressed by Prodicus’ school, 100 who falsely claim the name of Gnostics for themselves, calling themselves natural sons of the primal god. They make wrong use of their high birth and freedom to live as they will. What they will is a life of pleasure-loving, having come to the conclusion that they are inferior to none, being lords of the sabbath, and born princes superior to all humankind. For a king, they say, there is no written law. (2) In the first place, 101 they do not do all they want; many things will stand in the way of their desires and efforts. Further, what they do do, they do not as kings but as slaves liable to flogging; they are in fear of discovery in their secret adulteries; they are evading condemnation; they are afraid of punishment. (3) How can a


98.      Unknown except for this passage.

99.      Reading ¦B,*X>“Jz –< with Mayor for ¦B,*X>“J@; Valentinus was, with Basilides, one of the two great Gnostic leaders of the second century A.D. (see nt. 1).

100.    Little is known of Prodicus, who claimed secret revelations from Zoroaster. He denied the need for prayer (God being omniscient), and had a strong doctrine of election. It is less likely that he was involved with the nudist Adamites.

101.    Reading @Þ< with Stählin for ÓJ4.


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combination of immoderation and dirty language be freedom? “Everyone who sins is a slave,” says the Apostle. 102 31(1) How can the man who has given himself over to every lust be a citizen according to the Law of God when the Lord has declared, “I say, you shall not lust”? 103 (2) Is a person to take a decision to sin deliberately, and to lay it down as a principle to commit adultery, to waste his substance in high living, and to break up other people’s marriages, when we actually pity the rest who fall involuntarily into sin? (3) Even if they have arrived in an alien world, if they prove unfaithful in what belongs to another, 104 they will have no hold on the truth. (4) Does a foreigner insult the citizens? Do them wrong? Does he not rather behave as a visitor 105 and live out his life in conformity with the regulations without offending the citizens? (5) How can they say that they are the only people with a knowledge of God when they behave in the same way as those the gentiles hate for their failure to obey the laws’ injunctions – criminals, immoralists, the avaricious, and adulterers? (6) They ought to be living virtuous lives in a foreign land too, so as to show that they really are of royal blood.

32(1) As it is, they have taken the decision to live lawlessly, and won the hatred alike of human legislators and of the Law of God. At any rate, the man who speared through the fornicator in Numbers is shown to be blessed by God. 106 (2) “If we say,” says John in his letter, “that we have communion with him” – that is, God – “and walk in darkness, we are lying and not acting out the truth. If we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we enjoy communion with him, and the blood of his son Jesus cleanses us from sin.” 107

33(1) How then are those who behave in this manner superior to the worldly? They are like the dregs of the worldly. Like acts reveal like natures, I suppose. (2) Those who claim


102.    John 8.34, but Jesus is speaking, and Clement’s memory is confused with Rom 6.16.

103.    Matt 5.28.

104.    Luke 16.12.

105.    1 Pet 2.11

106.    Aaron’s grandson Phinehas: Num 25.8; reading ,Û8@(@b:,<@H with Lowth for ,Û8”$@b:,<@H.

107.    1 John 1.6-7.


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superiority of birth ought to show superiority of character, if they want to escape incarceration in prison. 108 (3) It really is as the Lord said: “If your righteousness does not exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of God.” 109 (4) Scripture shows in Daniel the principle of abstinence in food. 110 To sum up, David in the Psalms speaks about obedience: “How shall a young man keep his path straight?” The answer comes immediately: “By keeping your Word with his whole heart.” 111 (5) Jeremiah says, “These are the Lord’s words: do not follow the paths of the gentiles.” 112

34(1) In consequence, some other worthless scoundrels 113 say that humanity was fashioned by different powers, the body down to the navel being the product of divine craftsmanship, and below that of inferior work; which is why human beings yearn for intercourse. 114 (2) They forget that the upper parts of the body call out for food, and in some people show lust. They contradict Christ’s statement to the Pharisees that the same God made our outer and our inner man. 115 In addition, desire does not come from the body, even though it expresses itself through the body. 116 (3) There is another group whom we call the Opponents. They affirm that the God of the universe is our father by nature, and everything that he has made is good. But one of those who came into being from him sowed weeds, 117 and brought into being the growth of evil things. He has surrounded us all with these evils and so set us in opposition to the Father. (4) For this reason we set ourselves to vindicate the Father in opposition to him, counteracting the will of this second being. So, since it is the latter who said,


108.    Probably the spiritual prison of 1 Pet 3.19.

109.    Matt 5.20.

110.    Dan 1.10.

111.    Ps 119.9-10.

112.    Jer 10.2.

113.    Reading :4”D@Â with Stählin for :4PD@Â, a palmary emendation.

114.    Attributed by Epiplanius (Panarion 45.2) to the sect of the Severians; a similar view is found in On Virginity 7 attributed to Basil of Caesarea but perhaps by the Arian Basil of Ancyra.

115.    Luke 11.40.

116.    Plato, Philebus 35 C.

117.    Matt 13.25.


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“You shall not commit adultery,” 118 we should, they say, commit adultery 119 so as to annul his order.

35(1) To these people we would say that we have been taught to recognize false prophets and those who merely make a pretense of the truth by their actions. 120 Your actions are evidence against you. How can you say that you still adhere to the truth? (2) Either there is no such thing as evil, in which case the one you charge with opposition to God does not merit reproof, and has never created anything evil (the tree and the fruit are eliminated together), or else, if evil really does exist, they must tell us what is their view of the commandments ordained about righteousness, self-control, patience, forbearance and so on: are they bad or good? (3) If the commandment which bans the performance of the vast majority of disgraceful actions is not good, then vice will be legislating against itself to its own undoing – which is impossible. If it is good, then in opposing good directions they admit that they are opposing the good and acting wickedly.

36(1) The Savior himself, the only person they think warrants obedience, has set himself in the way of hatred and abusiveness, 121 and says, “When you go to court with an opponent, try and achieve an amicable reconciliation.” 122 (2) So they will either reject Christ’s recommendation and remain in opposition to their opponent, or they will become friends and drop their suit against him. (3) Well? Can’t you see, good people (I want to speak as if you were here with me), that in fighting against these excellent commandments, you are in conflict 123 with your own salvation? It is not these admirable directions you are undermining. It is yourselves. (4) “Your good actions should shine out,” the Lord said. 124 It is your immorality that you display. (5) Besides, if your aim is to undo the lawgiver’s commandments, why on earth do you aim to undo by your immorality “You shall not commit adultery” and


118.    Exod 20.14.

119.    Reading :@4P,bFT:,< after Theodoret, Compendium of Heretical Narratives 1.16.

120.    Matt 7.16.

121.    Matt 5.44.

122.    Matt 5.25.

123.    Reading •<2\FJ”F2, with Sylburg for •<2\FJ”F2”4.

124.    Matt 5.16.


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“You shall not corrupt boys” 125 and all that bears on self-control? Why do you do away with winter – he made it! – to produce summer when it is still the middle of winter? Why do you not make the land navigable and enable people to walk on the sea as the compilers of history say that Xerxes, a non Greek, wanted to do? 126

37(1) Why do you not oppose all the commandments? He said, “Increase and multiply.” 127 In your opposition to him you should have totally refrained from sexual intercourse. He said, “I gave you everything for food and delight.” 128 You ought not to have had any delights. (2) Besides, he says, “An eye for an eye.” 129 You ought never to have met opposition with opposition. He told the thief to make fourfold restitution. 130 You ought to have paid the thief something in addition. (3) Similarly with the command “You shall love the Lord”: 131 You ought to have opposed it and to have shown no love towards the God of the universe. Again he said, “You shall not make an image by carving or by melting metal.” 132 The logical conclusion was for you to offer worship to statues.(4) It is irreligious of you to oppose, on your own admission, the creator, and to try and rival prostitutes and adulterers in your behavior. (5) Can’t you see that you are in fact exalting the very one you regard as weak, if it is his will that finds fulfillment rather than the will of the good God? The other side of this is that you yourselves 133 are demonstrating the weakness of the one you call your father.

38(1) These people also collect passages from extracts of the prophets, making an anthology and cobbling them together quite wrongly, taking literally 134 what was meant allegorically.


125.    Didache 2.1; Epistle of Barnabas 19.4.

126.    Adding n”F4< with Stählin; Xerxes, king of Persia, seeking to subjugate Greece in 480 B.C. bridged the Hellespont so that his army could march over (Herodotus, 7.55); but both aims are attributed to Antiochus Epiphanes in 2 Macc 5.21.

127.    Gen 1.28, 9.1.

128.    Gen 1.29, 9.2.

129.    Exod 21.24.

130.    Exod 22.1.

131.    Deut 6.5.

132.    Deut 27.15.

133.    Reading BDÎH with Sylburg for BäH.

134.    Reading ,Û2,\”H with Victorius for ,Û02,\”H.


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(2) They say that Scripture has this: “They opposed God and found salvation.” 135 But they add, “the shameless God.” They accept this saying as advice extended to them. They think that it is salvation to oppose the creator. (3) Scripture does not say, “the shameless god.” And even if it did, you idiots, it would be talking of the one we call the devil as shameless, whether as the maligner of humanity, or as the prosecutor of sinners, or as an apostate. (4) At any rate, the people referred to in the passage objected to being disciplined for their sins; they protested and murmured at the passage quoted because the other nations were not being punished for their offenses while they alone were put down for every single offense. Even Jeremiah was led to say, “Why is the path of the wicked easy?” 136 The passage l37 from Malachi already quoted is to the same effect: “They opposed God and found salvation.” (5) The prophets in their oracular utterances do not merely say that they have heard certain messages from God; they demonstrably report the popular conversations, replying to objections voiced, as if they were officially recording questions from human sources. The saying before us is an example of this.

39(1) It may be these people whom the Apostle is inveighing against in his Epistle to the Romans when he writes, “We are slanderously charged by some people with saying that we are to do evil things so that good consequences may follow. No! Such a view is justly condemned.” 138 (2) These are the people who, when they read, twist the Scriptures by their tone of voice to serve their own pleasures. They alter some of the accents and punctuation marks in order to force wise and constructive precepts to support their taste for luxury. 139 (3) “You who have provoked God with your words,” says Malachi, “have actually


135.    Mal 3.15.

136.    Jer 12.1.

137.    Reading with Sylburg for Jä4.

138.    Rom 3.8.

139.    Archbishop Whately once said of a preacher who strained his text, “I should like to hear that young man preach on ‘Hang all the Law and the prophets.’” A preacher inveighing against a current hairstyle used the text “Top-knot, come down” (see Matt 24.17).


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said, ‘In what have we provoked him?’ You do this by saying, ‘Everyone who acts immorally is good in the Lord’s sight and he approves of them,’ and, ‘Where is the God of righteousness?’” 140



There Are Two Kinds of Heresies – Licentious or Ascetic


40(1) We have no intention of making a closer examination of this topic or mentioning more implausible heresies. We have no intention of being forced to an individual discussion of each of them in all their scandalous nature or prolonging these notes to a vast length. Let us answer them by dividing all the heresies into two groups. 141 (2) Either they teach a way of life which makes no distinction between right and wrong or their hymn is too highly strung 142 and they acclaim asceticism out of a spirit of irreligious quarrelsomeness. (3) I must first expound the former division. If it is legitimate to choose any way of life, then clearly it is legitimate to choose the way that involves asceticism. If there is no way of life which carries danger for the elect, then clearly this is particularly true of the life 143 of virtuous self-discipline. (4) If the Lord of the sabbath 144 has been granted freedom from accountability for a life of licentiousness, the man whose social life is orderly will be far freer from accountability. (5) The Apostle says, “Everything is legitimate for me; not everything is expedient.” 145 If everything is legitimate, that obviously includes self-discipline.

41(1) So just as the person who uses his legitimate choice to live a virtuous life is worthy of praise, so the one who gives us this free and sovereign right of legitimate choice, allowing us to live as we wish, is far more to be reverenced and honored in not allowing our positive or negative choices to fall into


140.    Mal 2.17.

141.    Reading, with Sylburg, ¦B4:,:<f:,2” for ¦B4:,:<Z:,2”, BD@V(T:,< for BD@V(@4:,<, JV(:”J” for BDV(:”J”.

142.    Reading –*@LF”4 with Schwartz for –(@LF”4.

143.    Adding Ò with Hiller.

144.    Matt 12.8; Mark 2.28; Luke 6.5.

145.    1 Cor 6.12, 10.23.


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inescapable slavery. 146 (2) Neither has occasion for fear from the choice of license or discipline; but they are not held in the same respect. The person who drifts into pleasures is gratifying his body; the ascetic is freeing his soul from passions, and the soul has authority over the body. (3) If they tell us that we are called to freedom, we are not, as the Apostle puts it, to present that “freedom as an opening for our lower selves.” 147 (4) If we are to gratify lust, if we are to think a reprehensible way of living a matter of moral indifference, as they assert, either we ought to obey our lusts at all points and, if so, to engage in the most immoral and irreligious practices in conformity with our teachers, (5) or we shall turn away from some of our desires, no longer compelled to live by amoral standards, no longer in unbridled servitude to our least honorable parts – stomach and sex-organs – pampering our carcass to serve our desire. (6) Lust is nurtured and vitalized if we minister to its enjoyment; on the other hand, it fades away if it is kept in check.

42(1) How is it possible for a person who is overpowered by physical pleasures to grow like the Lord or have a true knowledge of God? Every pleasure has its origin in a desire. Desire is a form of pain, a care which yearns for something it lacks. 148

(2) Those who choose this way of life simply seem to me, in the familiar words,

To be suffering grief on top of shame 149

and choosing an evil “they have brought on themselves” 150 for the present and the future. (3) So if everything were legitimate and there were no fear of missing out on the ultimate hope because of immoral actions, then they might have some excuse for their wretchedly vicious lives. (4) Through the commandments we have a demonstration of the blessed life. We all


146.    The Greek is difficult; the word for “positive choice” also means “heresy”.

147.    Gal 5.13.

148.    Stock definition: Andronicus, On the Passions 124 K.

149.    Hesiod, Works and Days 211.

150.    Homer, Odyssey 18.73.


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ought to pursue it without misunderstanding any of the statements or neglecting any of the properties, even the slightest of them. We are to follow where the Word leads. But 151 if we do slip up, we cannot avoid falling into “undying evil.” 152 (5) We must follow God’s Scripture, the road taken by the faithful, and we will, so far as possible, become like the Lord. 153 We are not to live amorally. We are, so far as possible, to purify ourselves from pleasures and lusts, and take care of our soul which should continue to be engaged solely with the divine. (6) For if it is pure and freed from all vice, the mind is somehow capable of receiving the power of God, when the divine image is established within it. Scripture says, “Everyone who has this hope in the Lord is purifying himself as the Lord is pure.” 154

43(1) It is impossible for those who are still under the direction of their passions to receive true knowledge of God. It follows that if they have not achieved any knowledge of God, they do not have any experience of final hope either. The person who fails to attain this end looks liable to the charge of ignorance of God. Ignorance of God is displayed by one’s way of living. (2) It is absolutely impossible to combine actual scientific knowledge with a failure 155 to show shame at giving in to the demands of the body. It is impossible to harmonize the view that the supreme good consists in pleasure with the view that beauty of character 156 is the only good: This is seen only in the Lord, God alone is good and the sole fit object of love. (3) “You have been circumcised in Christ with a circumcision not performed with hands in stripping yourselves of your fleshly body, that is, in Christ’s circumcision.” (4) “So if


151.    Adding with Schwartz.

152.    Homer, Odyssey 12.118.

153.    Clement is echoing a famous phrase from Plato, Theaetetus 176 B, but replaces “God” with “the Lord.”

154.    1 John 3.3

155.    Adding with Stählin.

156.    A difficult word to translate: the adjective means ‘admirable,’ ‘of beauty,’ ‘excellence,’ or ‘virtue’; Lovers are often called kalos, ‘dishy,’ hence the last phrase about God; the reading is uncertain just before: I follow Stählin J¬< º*@<¬< for J­4 º*@<­4 ³, and •(“2Î< for •(“2ä4 (partly from Lowth).


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you are risen together with Christ, look for the things above, fix your mind on them, not on earthly things. For you are dead, and your life has been buried in God together with Christ” – this hardly applies to the sexual immorality which they practice! (5) “So mortify your earthly members – fornication, filthiness, passion, lust; through these the visitation of anger is on its way.” So they too should put away “anger, temper, vice, slander, dirty talk from their mouths, stripping themselves of the old human nature with its lusts and putting on the new human nature, which is renewed for full knowledge in accordance with the likeness of its creator.” 157

44(1) The nature of a person’s way of living shows up clearly those who have come to know the commandments, since the behavior follows the inward reason. (2) The tree is known by its fruits, not by its flowers and leaves. 158 True knowledge is discerned from the fruits of behavior, not from the flower of theory. (3) We do not call bare theory knowledge; knowledge is a kind of divine understanding; it is that light engendered in the soul from obedience to the commandments which makes everything clear and enables a person to know what is in a state of change, to know his own humanity, to know himself, 159 and teaches him to establish himself within reach of God. For knowledge stands to the mind as the eye to the body. 160 (4) They should not call enslavement to pleasure freedom any more than they should call bitter sweet. We have learned to call freedom the freedom with which the Lord alone endows us, delivering us from pleasures, lusts and the other passions. (5) “Anyone who says, ‘I know the Lord,’ and fails to keep his commandments, is a liar, and there is no truth in him,” says John. 161


157.    Col 2.11, 3.1-3, 5-6, 8-10.

158.    Matt 7.16, 12.33; Luke 6.44.

159.    The famous Greek injunction; I have accepted the MS text against most editors.

160.    Aristotle, Niconachaean Ethics 1.4.1096 B 29 has “The mind stands to the soul as the eye to the body.”

161.    1 John 2.4.


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Heretics Who Exercise Restraint out of an Impious Interpretation of the Gospel


45(1) What about those who use religious language for irreligious practices involving abstinence against creation and the holy creator, the one and only almighty God, and teach that we ought not to accept marriage and childbearing or introduce yet more wretches in their turn into the world to provide fodder for death? This is what we must say to them; first, in the words of the apostle John: (2) “Now many antichrists have come, from which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but were not of our company: if they had been, they would have stayed with us.” 162 (3) Next we must turn their statements on the grounds that they destroy the sense of their citations. Here is an example: When Salome asked, “How long will death maintain its power?” the Lord said, “As long as you women bear children.” 163 He is not speaking of life as evil and the creation as rotten. He is giving instruction about the normal course of nature. Death is always following on the heels of birth.

46(1) The design of the Law is to divert us from extravagance and all forms of disorderly behavior; this is its object, to draw us from unrighteousness to righteousness, making us responsible in marriage, engendering children, and living well. (2) The Lord “comes to fulfill, not to destroy the Law.” 164 Fulfillment does not mean that it was defective. 165 The prophecies which followed the Law were accomplished through his presence, since the qualities of an upright way of life were announced to people of righteous behavior before the coming of the Law by the Word. 166 (3) The majority know nothing of self-discipline. They live by the body, not by the spirit. Without


162.    1 John 2.18-19 reading •<J\PD4FJ@4 for •<J\PD0FJ@4.

163.    From the lost Gospel according to the Egyptians (see Hennecke-Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocrypha, 1.166-9), reading J\PJ0J, with Dindorf for J\PJ,J,. See also Stromateis 3.63-4; Excerpta ex Theodoto 67.

164.    Matt 5.17.

165.    Reading ¦<*,­ with Sylburg for ¦<*,,Ã.

166.    Or “reason.”


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the spirit the body is earth and dust. 167 (4) The Lord condemns adultery in thought. 168 Well? Is it not possible to practice self-discipline within marriage without trying to pull apart “that which God has joined”? 169 That is the sort of thing taught by the dissolvers of the marriage bond. Through them the name of Christian comes into bad repute. (5) These people say that sexual intercourse is polluted. Yet they owe their existence to sexual intercourse! Must they not be polluted? Personally, I think that the seed coming from consecrated people is sacred too.

47(1) So it is not just our spirit which ought to be consecrated. It is our character, our life, our body. What is the sense of the Apostle Paul’s words that the wife is consecrated by her husband, and the husband by his wife? 170 (2) What was it that the Lord said to those who questioned him about divorce, asking whether it was permissible to get rid of one’s wife on the authority of Moses? He said, “Moses wrote this with an eye to your hardheartedness. But have you not read what God said to the first-formed male: ‘You two shall come into one single flesh’? So, anyone who disposes of his wife except by reason of sexual immorality is making an adulteress of her.” 171 (3) But “after the resurrection,” he says, “they do not marry and are not given in marriage.” 172 Yes, and this is what is said about the stomach and food: “Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will put an end to both.” 173 He is rebuking those who think to live like boars or goats, to stop them eating and copulating without any sense of respect.

48(1) If, as they claim, they have already attained the state of resurrection, 174 and for that reason repudiate marriage, they should stop eating and drinking. For the Apostle said 175 that the stomach and food would be dispensed with in the


167.    Gen 18.27.

168.    Matt 5.28.

169.    Matt 19.6.

170.    1 Cor 7.14.

171.    Matt 19.3-9; reading §F,F2, with Sylburg for §F,F2”4.

172.    Matt 22.30.

173.    1 Cor 6.13.

174.    Chadwick notes several references to the view that the celibate is living the life of an angel: Basil, On Virginity 51; Jerome, Against Jovinian 1.36; Augustine, On the Good of Marriage 8; Holy Virginity 4, 12.

175.    Reading §n0 with Sylburg for §n0<.


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resurrection. (2) Then how can they hunger and thirst and suffer the flesh and all the other things from which the person who has attained through Christ the fullness of the expected resurrection will be free? Even those who worship idols fast and practice sexual abstinence. (3) “The kingdom of God does not consist in eating and drinking,” he says. 176 It is possible even for the Magi by a mental effort to abstain alike from wine, animal food, and sex, although they worship angels and spiritual beings. 177 Just as humility is a form of meekness and does not mean maltreating the body, so asceticism is a virtue of the soul practiced privately, not openly.

49(1) There are those who say openly that marriage is fornication. They lay it down as a dogma that it was instituted by the devil. They are arrogant and claim to be emulating the Lord who did not marry and had no worldly possessions. It is their boast to have a profounder understanding of the gospel than anyone else. (2) To them Scripture says, “God is against the proud and gives grace to the humble.” 178 (3) Next, they do not know the reason why the Lord did not marry. In the first place, he had his own bride, the Church. Secondly, he was not a common man to need a physical partner. 179 Further, he did not have an obligation to produce children; he was born God’s only Son and survives eternally. (4) It is this very Lord who says, “Let no human being part that which God has joined together.” 180 And again, “The Son of Man’s coming shall be as in the days of Noah, when they were marrying, giving in marriage, building, planting, and as in the days of Lot.” 181 (5) Since he is not speaking in relation to the gentiles, he adds, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find


176.    Rom 14.17.

177.    The Magi were perhaps originally a tribe from Media. The term came to be applied somewhat loosely to priests and seers of the Zoroastrian religion of Persia, which did indeed hold that life was a battleground between the forces of order and chaos with hosts of intermediate spiritual powers on either side.

178.    Jas 4.6; 1 Pet 5.5; Prov 3.34.

179.    Gen 2.18.

180.    Matt 19.6; Mark 10.9.

181.    Matt 24.37-9; Luke 17.26-30.


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faith on the earth?” 182 (6) Again, “It will be bad for women pregnant or with child at the breast in those days.” 183 (But these words are an allegory.) There was a particular reason why he did not even define the times “that the Father has established within his own authority.” 184 It is so that the world should continue generation after generation.

50(1) What about these words: “Not everyone can take this saying. There are some eunuchs born as eunuchs, and some who were made eunuchs by human action, and some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone who can accept the words accept them.” 185 (2) They do not recognize that it was after his words about divorce that some of them asked whether, if that is the position with regard to the wife, it is not better to refrain from marriage, and it was then that the Lord said, “Not everyone can take this saying, only those who have a gift.” (3) Those asking the question wanted to find out whether, when a wife had been condemned for sexual misconduct and removed, there was any advantage in marrying another. (4) Tradition records that quite a number of athletes have abstained from sexual intercourse as part of the discipline of physical training. Examples are Astylus of Croton and Crison of Himera. 186 The lutenist Amoebeus, newly married as he was, did not touch his bride. 187 Aristotle of Cyrene was the only man to turn up his nose at Lais’ love. 188


182.    Luke 18.8.

183.    Matt 24.19; Mark 13.17; Luke 21.23.

184.    Acts 1.7.

185.    Matt 19.12.

186.    Plato, Laws 8.840 A and scholia; Astylus from Croton (early fifth century B.C.), a friend of the dictator Hiero, who won races in three successive Olympics in southern Italy, merited an ode in his honor by Simonides; Crison from Himera in Sicily ran in the Olympics in 447 B.C. (see Plato, Protagaras 335 E).

187.    Aelian, On the Nature of Animals 6.1; Varying History 3.30; Amoebeus (third century B.C.) was an Athenian who lived near the theater, won the approval of Zeno the Stoic, and received one talent per performance (see Athenaeus, 14.623 D; Plutarch, Moralia 443 A).

188.    On Aristotle see Diogenes Laertius 5.35 who identifies him as “a native of Cyrene, who wrote upon the art of poetry.” Cyrene was a Greek colony in North Africa; Lais was a famous beauty and courtesan; reading ßB,D,fD with Stählin for ßB,fD.


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51(1) He promised the courtesan on oath that he would take her back to his homeland, if she helped him against his antagonists in some matter. She did so, and he fulfilled his oath in an amusing way. He painted the closest possible likeness of her and set it up in Cyrene – the account will be found in the Character of Sports by Istrus. 189 It follows that celibacy is not particularly praiseworthy unless it arises through love of God. (2) The blessed Paul says of those who show a distaste for marriage: “In the last times people will abandon the faith, attaching themselves to deceitful spirits and the teachings of daemonic powers that they should abstain from food, at the same time forbidding marriage.” 190 (3) Again he says, “Do not let anyone disqualify you in forced piety of self-mortification and severity to the body.” 191 The same author writes these words: “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a dissolution. Have you been divorced? Do not go looking for a wife.” 192 Again he says, “Every man should have his own wife to protect him from temptation by Satan.” 193

52(1) Well? Did not the righteous of past days share gratefully in God’s creation? Some of them married and produced children without loss of self-control. The ravens brought bread and meat as food to Elijah. 194 The prophet Samuel brought the leftovers from the haunch which had provided him with a meal and gave it to Saul to eat. 195 (2) They claim to be their superiors in lifestyle, but they will never remotely be able to match their praxis. (3) So “if anyone refrains from eating, he is not to denigrate one who eats. If anyone eats, he is not to judge one who abstains, since God has accepted him.” 196 (4) Furthermore, the Lord says of himself, “John came abstaining from food and drink, and they say, ‘He is possessed.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and


189.    Istrus or Ister of Cyrene (second half of the third century B.C.), historian and pupil of Callimachus, wrote on the early history of Attica among much else, being particularly interested in religion (see FGrH 3 B 334).

190.    1 Tim 4.1-3.

191.    Col 2.18, 23 freely cited.

192.    1 Cor 7.27.

193.    1 Cor 7.2-5.

194.    1 Kgs 17.6.

195.    1 Sam 9.24, omitting ¼< with Victorius.

196.    Rom 14.3.


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they say, ‘Look at him, a greedy drunkard, a friend of tax officers, a sinner!’” 197 Are they not criticizing the apostles? Peter and Philip produced children, and Philip gave his daughters away in marriages. 198

53(1) In one of his letters Paul has no hesitation in addressing his “yokefellow.” 199 He did not take her around with him for the convenience of his ministry. (2) He says in one of his letters, “Do we not have the authority to take around a wife from the Church, like the other apostles?” 200 (3) But the apostles in conformity with their ministry concentrated on undistracted preaching, and took their wives around as Christian sisters rather than spouses, to be their fellow-ministers in relation to housewives, through whom the Lord’s teaching penetrated into the women’s quarters without scandal. (4) We know the dispositions made over women deacons by the admirable Paul in his second letter to Timothy. 201 Furthermore, this same writer said strongly that “the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking” – or abstinence from wine or meat – “but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” 202 (5) Which of them goes around like Elijah wearing sheepskin and a leather belt? Which of them wears no shoes and nothing but a piece of sackcloth like Isaiah? Or with nothing on but a linen apron, like Jeremiah? 203 Which of them will imitate John’s Gnostic way of life? 204 The blessed prophets lived like that and still gave thanks to the creator.

54(1) This is the way to undermine the “righteousness” of Carpocrates and those who match him in sharing in a fellowship


197.    Matt 11.18-19; Luke 7.33-4 where the text is ‘friend of sinners.”

198.    Quoted in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.30-1; Peter was married (Mark 1.30; 1 Cor 9.5) but we know nothing about children or about Philip’s marital status from the New Testament, and there may be confusion between Philip the apostle and Philip the evangelist who certainly had daughters.

199.    Phil 4.3, which modern scholars take to refer to Epaphroditus, or a man called Syzygos, ‘yokefellow,’ or the Philippi church, or to some other reference.

200.    1 Cor 9.5.

201.    1 Tim 5.9-17; Clement slips.

202.    Rom 14.17.

203.    1 Kgs 19.13; 2 Kgs 1.8; Isa 20.2; Jer 13.1.

204.    Matt 3.4; Mark 1.6.


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of immorality. In the moment of saying, “Give to anyone who asks,” Scripture goes on, “and do not turn away anyone who wants a loan.” 205 This is the sort of fellowship Scripture teaches, not fellowship in lust. (2) How can there be a person who asks, receives, and borrows if there is no one who possesses, grants, and lends? (3) What does the Lord say? “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you took me into your home. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear.” Then he adds, “Insofar as you have done so to one of the humblest of these, you have done so to me.” 206 (4) The same law is established in the Old Testament in the words “Anyone who gives to a begger is making a loan to God” and “Do not evade doing good to one in need.” 207

55(1) And again it was written, “Do not drop almsgiving and positions of trust” and “Poverty brings a man low, but the hands of the vigorous become wealthy,” adding, “Look! A man who has never let his money out on interest is accepted and “A man’s personal wealth is adjudged his soul’s ransom” (a clear and open statement). 208 So as the universe is compounded of opposites, hot and cold, dry and wet, 209 so too it is compounded of those who give and those who receive. (2) Again when he says, “If you want to be perfect, sell your property and give the proceeds to the poor,” he is showing up the man who boasts of “having kept all the commandments from his youth.” 210 He had not fulfilled “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 211 At that moment the Lord wanted to bring him to perfection and was teaching him to share out of love.


205.    Matt 5.42.

206.    Matt 25.35-40.

207.    Prov 19.17, 3.27 reading ¦<*,­, for ¦<*,,Ã.

208.    Prov 3.3, 10.4, reading •<*D,\T< for •<*<; Ps 15.5, reading Æ*@× •<ZD with Sylburg for ³*z ž<; Prov 13.8.

209.    Commonplace of Greek philosophy from early times: For different treatments see J. Ferguson, “The Opposites,” Apeiron 3 (1969) 1-17, and G. E. R. Lloyd, “The Hot and the Cold, the Dry and the Wet in Greek Philosophy,” JHS 84 (1964) 92 ff.

210.    Matt 19.19-21; Mark 10.20-21; Luke 18.21-2.

211.    Lev 19.18; Matt 5.43, 19.19, 22.39; Mark 12.31; Luke 10.27; Rom 13.9; Gal 5.14; Jas 2.8.


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56(1) So he has not stopped the proper acquisition of wealth but its unjust and insatiable acquisition. For “possession illegally promoted is reduced.” 212 For “there are some who sow more and reap more, and some who find their resources reduced by hoarding.” 213 About these it is written, “He made distributions and gave to the poor: his righteousness endures to eternity.” 214 (2) The one who “sows and gathers in more” is the one who, by sharing his earthly, temporal property, gains an eternal reward in heaven; the other is the one who refuses to share with anyone but vainly “lays up treasure on earth, where moth and rust eat it away.” 215 It is written about such a person as this: “In collecting his money he put it into a purse with a hole in it.” 216 (3) This is the man of whose land the Lord says in the gospel that it prospered, and when next he wanted to store the harvest, he proposed to build larger barns and said to himself in the words of the story, “You have many good things in store for you for many years. Eat, drink, enjoy yourself.” So the Lord said, “You are a fool. This very night they are demanding your life from you. Then who is to possess the things you have laid ready?” 217



The Christian Idea of Continence


57(1) Human self-control (I am referring to the views of the Greek philosophers) professes to counter desire rather than minister to it, with a view to praxis. Our idea of self-control is freedom from desire. It is not a matter of having desires and holding out against them, but actually of mastering desire by self-control. (2) It is not possible to acquire this form of self-control except by the grace of God. That is why he says, “Ask, and it shall be granted you.” 218 (3) Moses, though the needs of his body were covered with clothing,


212.    Prov 13.11.

213.    Prov 11.24, reading for @\.

214.    Ps 112.9.

215.    Matt 6.19.

216.    Hag 1.6.

217.    Luke 12.16-20.

218.    Matt 7.7.


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received this grace and for forty days felt no hunger or thirst. 219 (4) Better to be healthy than to be ill and talk about health. Better for there to be light than to be chattering about light. Better genuine self-control than the sort taught by the philosophers. (5) Where there is light, there is no darkness. But where there is deep-seated desire, even if it is solitary, even if it is actually physically quiescent, union with the absent object takes place in memory.

58(1) In general, let our affirmation about marriage, food and the rest proceed: 220 we should never act from desire; our will should be concentrated on necessities. We are children of will, not of desire. 221 (2) If a man marries in order to have children he ought to practice self-control. He ought not to have a sexual desire even for his wife, to whom he has a duty to show Christian love. 222 He ought to produce children by a reverent, disciplined act of will. We have learned not “to pay attention to physical desires,” “walking decorously as in the light of day” – that is, in Christ and the shining conduct of the Lord’s way – “not in drunken carousing, sexual promiscuity, or jealous quarreling.” 223

59(1) Further, we ought to examine not merely one single form of self-control in sexual matters, but the other objects which our soul self-indulgently desires, not content with bare necessities but making a fuss about luxury. (2) Self-control means indifference to money, comfort, and property, a mind above spectacles, control of the tongue, mastery of evil thoughts. 224 It actually happened that some angels suffered a failure of self-control, were overpowered by sexual desire, and fell from heaven to earth. 225 (3) Valentinus in his letter to Agathopus


219.    Exod 24.18.

220.    Reading BD@\JT with Sylburg for BD@,\JT.

221.    John 1.13.

222.    Contrasting agapé, ‘Christian love,’ with erõs, ‘sexual passion’, and epithymia, ‘sexual desire.’ (See A. Nygren, Agape and Eros, tr. Philip S. Watson [Philadelphia, 1953]; Nygren’s thesis has been challenged, but this passage shows the contrast.)

223.    Rom 13.14,13.

224.    Reading 8@(4F:ä< with Stählin for 8@(4F:è; in the previous phrase P”J”:,(“8@nD@<,Ã< is not found in classical Greek.

225.    Gen 6.2.


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says, “Jesus showed his self-control in all that he endured. He lived in the practice of godhead. He ate and drank in a way individual to himself without excreting his food. Such was his power of self-control that the food was not corrupted within him, since he was not subject to corruption.” 226 (4) So we embrace self-control out of the love we bear the Lord and out of its honorable status, consecrating the temple of the Spirit. 227 It is honorable “to emasculate oneself” of all desire “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” and “to purify the conscience from works of death to the service of the living God.” 228

60(1) There are some who in their hatred of the flesh ungratefully yearn to be free from marital agreement and participation in decent food. They are ignorant and irreligious. Their self-control is irrational. It is so with most of the other peoples of the world. (2) For instance, the Brahmans 229 do not eat meat or drink wine. But some of them allow themselves food daily, as we do, others every other day, as Alexander Polyhistor says in his History of India. 230 They despise death and set no value on life, believing in reincarnation. (3) They worship Heracles and Pan as gods. The so-called Holy Men of India also live out their lives in a state of nudity. These also rigorously pursue truth and make predictions about the future. As divine beings 231 they honor a kind of pyramid under which they believe the bones of some god are resting. 232


226.    On Valentinus see nt. 99; B. Layton, The Gnostic Scriptures (New York, 1987), fr. E pp. 238-9; Agathopus is unknown.

227.    1 Cor 3.16.

228.    Matt 19.12; Heb 9.14.

229.    The priestly upper caste of India, known to the Greeks from early times through contacts at Babylon, and, since Alexander the Great, directly.

230.    Alexander Polyhistor (first century B.C.) was born in Miletus, came to Rome as a prisoner of war, was freed by Sulla and took the name L. Cornelius Alexander. His output was vast, industrious, and uncritical (see FGrH 3 A 99 fr. 18).

231.    Reading *”4:`<4” with Schwartz for which must be wrong, although what is right is anyone’s guess; Heracles, the heroic son of Zeus who was admitted after death to Olympus, was identified with Krishna, or perhaps Indra; Pan was a shepherds’ god who caused “panic” and, by accident of name, was the “universal” god identified with Brahma.

232.    As Chadwick says, the pyramids are Buddhist stupas; but there is some garbling, as nakedness is repudiated by Buddhists, and sounds more Like Jains: On Buddha see Stromateis 1.21, and E. Benz in Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Geistes- und soziahwissenschaftlichen Klasse (Mainz, 1951) no. 3.


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(4) The Gymnosophists 233 and the so-called Holy Men do not have wives. They regard this as unnatural and illegal. This is why they keep themselves chaste. The Holy Women also live in virginity. The indications are that they observe the heavenly bodies and prophesy future events from their signs.



Scripture Passages Cited by Heretics Censuring Marriage


61(1) Those who drag in a doctrine of moral indifference do violence to some few passages of Scripture, thinking that they support their own love of pleasure; in particular, the passage “Sin shall have no authority over you; for you are not subject to sin but to grace.” 234 But there are other such passages, which there is no good reason to record for these purposes, as I am not equipping a pirate ship! Let me quickly cut through their attempt. (2) The admirable Apostle in person will refute their charge in the words with which he continues the previous quotation: “Well then! Shall we sin because we are no longer under Law but under grace? God forbid!” 235 With these inspired prophetic words, at a single stroke he undoes the sophistical skill at the service of pleasure.

62(1) So they have not understood, 236 it seems, that “we must all appear before Christ’s tribunal, where each must receive what is due to him for his physical conduct, good or bad,” 237 that is, where a person may receive recompense for what he has done by means of his body. (2) “So that, if a person is in Christ, he is recreated” 238 in a way no longer subject to sin. “The past is gone” – we have washed away the


233.    The Gymnosophists or ‘naked philosophers’ fascinated the Greeks; Aristotle fr. 35; Strabo 16.2.39; Plutarch, Life of Alexander 64; Lucian, Fugitives 7; Porphyry, On Abstinence 4.17 etc.

234.    Rom 6.14.

235.    Rom 6.15.

236.    Reading FL<4�F4< with Dindorf for FL<4,ÃF4<.

237.    2 Cor 5.10.

238.    2 Cor 5.17.


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old life. “Look, new things have emerged” – chastity instead of sexual looseness, self-control instead of license, righteousness instead of unrighteousness. “What have righteousness and lawlessness in common? What fellowship is there between light and darkness? Can Christ agree with Beliar? (3) What have the faithful to do with the faithless? Can there be a compact between the Temple of God and idols?” 239 “These are the promises made to us. Let us purify ourselves of anything that can stain flesh or spirit, aiming at the goal of holiness in the fear of God.” 240



Heretics Quote the Words Spoken to Salome to Censure Marriage


63(1) Those who attack God’s creation under the pious name of self-control quote the words spoken to Salome, which we have mentioned previously. 241 I fancy the passage comes from the Gospel according to the Egyptians. (2) They maintain that the Savior personally said, “I am come to destroy the works of the female.” “Female” refers to sexual desire, and its works are birth and decay. So what are they to say? Has this world order been undone? They could never say so. The universe remains in the same condition. (3) But the Lord did not speak falsely. In reality he brought to nothing the works of desire – the love of money, or winning, or glory, craziness over women, a passion for boys, gluttony, profligacy and the like. The birth of these means decay in the soul, if we become “dead in sins.” 242 This is what is meant by “female” lack of self-control. (4) Birth and decay in creation are bound to take place in accordance with the divine principle 243 until the time of total dissolution and the restoration of the elect, an event through which the beings which are mixed up with the material world are also assigned to their true condition.


239.    2 Cor 6.14-16; Beliar or Belial: only here in the New Testament as a name of Satan, originally “the place of swallowing up,” the underworld.

240.    2 Cor 7.1.

241.    Stromateis 3.45 (see nt. 163).

242.    Eph 2.5.

243.    A Stoic and Platonic technical term.


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64(1) It follows, as the argument reveals, 244 that it is in relation to the final consummation that Salome says, “How long will human beings go on dying?” Scripture uses the word “human being” in two senses, the visible and the spiritual 245 one subject to salvation and one not. Sin is called the death of the soul. That is why the Lord answers with circumspection, “As long as women give birth,” that is to say, as long as sexual desire is still at work. (2) “Therefore as sin entered the world through one human being, and death penetrated to all human beings through sin in that all sinned, death also held dominion from Adam to Moses,” says the Apostle. 246 By natural necessity of divine dispensation, death follows birth, and the union of soul and body is followed by their dissolution. 247 (3) The object of birth is learning and knowledge, the object of dissolution is restoration. Woman is regarded as the cause of death because of giving birth, but for the same reason she is also to be regarded as the cause of life.

65(1) The woman who initiated transgression was called “Life,” because she was responsible 248 for the succession of those who came to birth and sinned, mother of righteous and unrighteous alike; each one of us shows himself just or renders himself disobedient. (2) As a result, I do not think that the Apostle is disparaging life in the flesh when he says, “I shall speak out. Christ will now and always be glorified in my body, whether through my life or through my death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. But if life in the flesh means for me some fruitful work, I do not know what to choose. I am torn two ways. I have a desire to weigh anchor and to be with Christ; that is far better. But I feel a deeper constraint to remain in the flesh for your sake.” 249 (3) In these words he showed clearly that love of God is the crowning reason for leaving the body, whereas to remain behind graciously for


244.    A phrase from Plato, Phaedrus 277 C.

245.    2 Cor 4.16.

246.    Rom 5.12,14.

247.    Plato, Phaedrus 67 D.

248.    i.e., Eve (Gen 3.20); reading *4`J4 ... ”ÆJ\”  with Schwartz for *4�J¬< ... “ÆJ\”<.

249.    Phil 1.20-4.


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those in need of salvation is the reason for being in the flesh.

66(1) These people do anything rather than walk by the canon of the gospel in conformity with truth. Why do they omit what follows in the words spoken to Salome? 250 She said, “Then would I have done better if I never had a child?” (2) suggesting that childbearing was not a necessary obligation. The Lord replied in the words, “Eat every plant but do not eat a plant whose content is bitter.” (3) By these words he is indicating that the choice of celibacy or wedlock is in our power and not a matter of the absolute constraint of a commandment. He is also clarifying the point that marriage is cooperation with the work of creation.

67(1) So no one should ever think that marriage under the rule of the Logos 251 is a sin, if he does not find it bitter to bring up children; indeed, for many people, childlessness is the most grievous experience of all. At the same time, if he does not regard the production of children as bitter because it drags him away from the things of God, for which there is necessarily no time, but does not look favorably upon life as a bachelor, then he can look forward 252 to marriage, since there is no harm in disciplined pleasure, and each of us is in a position to make a decision over the engendering of children. (2) I realize that there are some people who have used the excuse of marriage to abstain from it 253 without following the principles of sacred knowledge and have fallen into hatred of humankind so that the spirit of Christian love has vanished from them; others have become embroiled in marriage and indulged their taste for pleasure within the authority of the Law, 254 and as the prophet says, “have become like cattle.” 255


250.    See nt. 163.

251.    Or (as often) logos, ‘reason.’

252.    Reading ¦B42L:,\JT with Schwartz for ¦B42L:,Ã.

253.    Reading •B,FP0:X<@4 with Sylburg for •B4FP0:X<@4.

254.    Oxyrhynchus Papryus 215 (from an Epicurean writer).

255.    Ps 49.12,20.


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Mystical Explication of Matthew 28.20


68(1) Who are the two or three who gather in the name of Christ with the Lord in their midst? 256 By three does he not mean husband, wife, and child? 257 A wife is united with her husband by God. 258 (2) But if a man wishes to be unencumbered, and prefers to avoid producing children because of the time it takes up, then, says the Apostle, “he had better stay unmarried like me.” 259 (3) Their interpretation of the Lord’s meaning is this. In relation to the plurality, he is speaking of the creator, who is responsible for all coming into being; 260 in relation to the one, he is speaking of the savior of the elect, naturally the son of a different god, of course, the good god. (4) This is wrong. God through his Son is with those who responsibly marry and produce children, and it is the same God who in the same way is with the man who shows self-control in the light of the Logos. 261 (5) Another interpretation would make the three temper, desire, and reason; 262 yet another flesh, soul, and spirit. 263

69(1) Perhaps the group of three of which we have been speaking is first an allusion to those called; secondly, to the elect; and thirdly, to the class of beings ordained to the highest honor. 264 The power of God watching over all things is with them, indivisibly divided among them. (2) So a person who makes proper use of the natural powers of the soul has a desire for appropriate objects but hates all that would injure, as the commandments prescribe. Scripture says, “You shall


256.    Matt 18.20.

257.    A beautiful and characteristic interpretation; see also Origen, Commentary on Matthew 14.2.

258.    Prov 19.14.

259.    1 Cor 7.8.

260.    Used in Wis 13.5 of the author of existence, but the Gnostic ascetics interpreted this as the lord of the processes of sexual union and birth.

261.    Or “rationally” (nt. 251).

262.    The threefold division of the soul in Plato, Republic 4.435 B – 441 C; Phaedrus 254 C-E.

263.    1 Thess 5.23; cf. Origen, Commentary on Matthew 14.3.

264.    Angels.


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bless anyone who blesses you and curse anyone who curses you.” 265 (3) But when a person has risen above temper and desire, when he shows an actual love for the creation, for the sake of God the maker of all things, then he will live a life of true knowledge 266 effortlessly embracing the state of self-control following the likeness of the Savior, bringing knowledge, faith, and love into a single unity. (4) From that point he is single in judgment and genuinely spiritual. He is totally closed to thoughts which arise from temper or desire. He is being brought to perfection according to the image of the Lord by the actual craftsman, becoming a fully mature human being, 267 at last worthy to be called brother by the Lord. 268 He is at once friend and son to him. 269 In this way the two or three are gathered into the same point, the truly Gnostic human being.

70(1) The concord of several, counting on the basis of the three with whom the Lord is found, may refer to the one Church, the one human being, the one race. (2) Or perhaps the Lord in giving the Law was with the one people, the Jewish. When he was responsible for prophecy and sent Jeremiah to Babylon, 270 and further called people from the gentiles through prophecy, he gathered together the two peoples. 271 The third is surely the one who is formed out of the two into a new human being, in whom he walks and lives 272 – the very Church. (3) The Law and the prophets are brought together with the gospel too, in the name of Christ into one true knowledge. (4) So those who out of hatred refrain from marriage or misuse their physical being indiscriminately, out of desire, are not in the number of the saved with whom the Lord is found.


265.    Gen 12.3, 27.29; but cf. Rom 12.14.

266.    As a true Gnostic.

267.    Eph 4.13.

268.    Heb 2.11.

269.    We must omit ¦FJ4< with Schwartz or add 6” with Hiller or 2z with Wilamowitz (the simplest); John 15.14; Gal 4.7.

270.    A false deduction from Jer 50-51, or a confusion with Jonah, or a record of the legend in Seder Olam Rabba 26.27.

271.    Eph 2.15.

272.    2 Cor 6.16.


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Mandate of the Law and Christ concerning Concupiscence


71(1) That concludes that demonstration. Now I propose to establish the Scriptures which refute these heretical sophists and expound the norm of self-discipline which we keep in following the Logos. 273 ( 2) The person of understanding will think out the passage of Scripture that is appropriate to challenge each 274 of the heresies and use it at the apposite moment to refute those who set their dogmas against the commandments. (3) From the very beginning, as I have already said, the Law laid down the injunction “You shall not desire your neighbor’s wife” 275 in anticipation 276 of the Lord’s closely connected dictum in accordance with the New Covenant with the same meaning from his own lips: “You have heard the injunction of the Law. ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ I say, ‘You shall not lust.’” 277 (4) The Law wished males to have responsible sexual relations with their marriage partners, solely for the production of children. This is clear when a bachelor is prevented from enjoying immediate sexual relations with a woman prisoner-of-war. If he once falls in love with her, he must let her cut her hair short and mourn for thirty days. If even so his desire has not faded away, then he may father children by her. 278 The fixed period of time enables the overpowering impulse to be scrutinized and to turn into a rational appetency.

72(1) On the same basis, you would not be able 279 to point to anyone of the past generations approaching a pregnant woman in the pages of Scripture. Only later, after the birth and weaning of the child, would you again find the wives in physical relations with their husbands. (2) You will find that Moses’ father observed this point. He left a three-year gap


273.    Or “reason” (nt. 251).

274.    Reading ©6VFJ® with Stählin for ©6VFJ0.

275.    Exod 20.17.

276.    Reading BD@- with Sylburg for BD@F-.

277.    Matt 5.27-8.

278.    Deut 21.11-13.

279.    Adding –< with Stählin.


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after Aaron’s birth before fathering Moses. 280 (3) Again, the tribe of Levi observed this natural law from God although they were fewer in number than the others when they entered the promised land. (4) It is not easy for a tribe to grow to large numbers if the males only father children within the bounds of legal wedlock, and wait beyond pregnancy through breast-feeding to do so.

73(1) So it was reasonable for Moses to move the Jews gradually towards self-discipline when he ordered them to abstain from sexual pleasure for three successive days before hearing the words of God. 281 (2) “So we are temples of God, as the prophet said, ‘because I will live and move among them and I shall be their God, and they shall be my people’” – if we follow the commandments in our way of living, individually and corporately, as the Church. (3) “‘So come out from among them and put a barrier between you,’ says the Lord. ‘Do not touch impurity. I shall receive you. I shall be a father to you. You will be sons and daughters to me,’ says the almighty Lord.” 282 (4) He is prophetic in telling us to put up a barrier to separate us not from the married, as they assert, but from the gentiles who are still living immorally, and also from the heresies of which we have been speaking, which believe in neither chastity nor God.

74(1) That is why Paul too speaks strongly against a similar group to those mentioned in the words, “Beloved, you possess these promises. Let us purify our hearts from everything which might stain flesh or spirit, aiming at the goal of holiness in the fear of God.” 283 “My zeal for you is God’s zeal. I betrothed you to Christ, with a view to presenting a chaste virgin to her one and only husband.” 284 (2) The Church has obtained her bridegroom; she cannot marry another. But each of us has the right to marry, within the law, the woman of our choice. I am speaking of first marriage. (3) “But as the serpent in his wicked cunning deceived Eve, I am afraid that your thoughts may be corrupted so that you lose your singlehearted


280.    Exod 7.7.

281.    Exod 19.15.

282.    2 Cor 6.16-18.

283.    2 Cor 7.1.

284.    2 Cor 11.2.


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devotion to Christ.” 285 The Apostle’s words are very cautious and instructive.

75(1) So that admirable man Peter says, “Beloved, I urge you, as temporary residents in an alien land, to abstain from physical desires. They are marshalled against your soul. See that your behavior is such that the pagans can look up to you. (2) This is God’s will. You are to muzzle the activity of those without understanding by the quality of your actions. Live as free people, not as though your freedom were a cover-up for vice, but as slaves in God’s service.” 286 (3) Similarly, in his Epistle to the Romans, Paul writes [of the Scripture text]: “We are dead to sin: how can we continue to live in it? Our old humanity was crucified with him, so as to destroy the very body of sin” down to “Do not present the parts of your body to sin to be instruments of vice.” 287

76(1) At this point, I think that I ought not to leave on one side without comment 288 the fact that the Apostle preaches the same God whether through the Law, the prophets, or the gospel. For in his letter to the Romans he attributes to the Law the words “You shall not lust” which in fact appear in the text of the gospel. 289 He does so in the knowledge that it is one single person who makes his decrees through the Law and the prophets, and is the subject of the gospel’s proclamation. (2) He says, “What shall we say? Is the Law sin? Of course not. But I did not know sin except through the Law. I did not know lust, except that the Law said, ‘You shall not lust.’” 290 (3) If the heretics who assail the creator suppose that Paul was speaking against him in the words that follow: “I know that nothing good lodges in me, in my flesh, that is to say,” they had better read the words which precede and come after these. (4) He has just said, “Sin lodges in me,” which


285.    2 Cor 11.3; Clement does not, with some authorities, have the words “priority and.”

286.    1 Pet 2.11-12, 15-16.

287.    Rom 6.2-13.

288.    •<,B4F0:,\TJ@< does not appear in classical Greek.

289.    Matt 5.27; Rom 7.7.

290.    Rom 7.7.


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makes it appropriate to go on to, “Nothing good lodges in my flesh.” 291

77(1) On top of this 292 he continues, “If I act contrary to my will, the effect is not mine but the effect of sin lodging in me,” which, he says, “is at war with” God’s “Law and my own reason and takes me prisoner under the Law of sin which is in my very bones. What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body which is doomed to death?” 293 (2) Once again, since he never remotely gets tired of doing good, he does not hesitate to add, “The Law of the Spirit has freed me from the Law of sin and death,” since through his Son “God has pronounced judgment upon sin in the flesh so that the Law’s ordinance might find fulfillment in us, whose lives are governed by the Spirit not by the flesh.” 294 (3) In addition to all this, he makes what he has already said even clearer by asserting at the top of his voice, “The body is a dead thing because of sin,” 295 showing that if it is not the soul’s temple it remains the soul’s tomb. 296 When it is consecrated to God, he is going to continue, “the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lodges in you, and he will give life even to your mortal bodies through his indwelling Spirit.” 297

78(1) So again he attacks the hedonists and adds, “The object of the flesh is death, since those whose lives are governed by the flesh follow the flesh in their objectives; and the object of the flesh is hostility to God, for it is not subject to God’s Law. Those who live on the level of flesh cannot please God” should not be understood as some people lay down, but as I have already argued. (2) Then in distinction from these people, he addresses the Church. “You are not living by the flesh but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God is dwelling in you. Anyone without Christ’s Spirit is not of him. But if Christ is in you, then your body is a dead thing because of sin, but the


291.    Rom 7.17-18.

292.    Adding @ÍH with Schwartz

293.    Rom 7.20, 23-4.

294.    Rom 8.2-4.

295.    Rom 8.10.

296.    1 Cor 3. 16; Plato, Cratylus 400 B-C.

297.    Rom 8.11.


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Spirit is life through righteousness. (3) So, brothers, we are in debt. Not to the flesh, to follow it in our lives; for if you follow the flesh in the way you live, you are on the way to death. But if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live. For all who are guided by God’s Spirit are sons of God.” (4) He goes on to speak against the high birth and freedom which the heretics adduce so abominably as they vaunt their licentiousness. “You have not received a spirit of slavery to drive you once again towards fear. You have received a Spirit that makes us sons and enables us to cry out, ‘Abba,’ ‘Father.’” 298 (5) That is to say, we have received the Spirit to enable us to know the one to whom we pray, our real Father, the one and only Father of all that is, the one who like a Father educates us for salvation and does away with fear. 299



An Explication of Some Scripture Passages on Marriage


79(1) It is a lesson in self-discipline if physical union “is given a rest by agreement to allow time for prayer.” 300 He appends the words “by agreement” to prevent a dissolution of the marriage and “time for” to prevent the husband who is forced to practice celibacy from slipping into sin, falling in love elsewhere while refraining from his own wife. (2) By the same argument he said that the man who supposes that he is acting wrongly in bringing up his daughter as a virgin will properly give her away in marriage. 301 (3) One man may make himself celibate; another may join in marriage in order to have children. Both ought to have the end in view of remaining firmly opposed to any lower standard. (4) If a person is going to be capable of keeping his life strict he is going to achieve greater worth for himself in God’s eyes since his self-control combines chastity and rationality. If he goes beyond the rule


298.    Rom 8.5-15.

299.    The MS •B,4(,Ã gives no sense; whatever the reading this is the general sense.

300.    1 Cor 7.5.

301.    1 Cor 7.36.


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to which he has committed himself with a view to greater renown, then he is liable to fall short in relation to his hopes. 302 (5) Celibacy and marriage have their distinctive services of the Lord, their different ministries. I am referring to the care of wife and children. The peculiar quality of the married state is the opportunity it gives for the man who seeks fulfillment through marriage to accept the overseeing of everything in the common home. (6) The Apostle says bishops should be appointed from those who have learned by practice in their own home the charge of the whole Church. 303 (7) So each person should fulfill his service by the work in which he was called, so that he may be free in Christ and receive the appropriate reward for that service. 304

80(1) Yet again in speaking about the Law he makes use of an analogy. “The married woman,” he says, “is tied to her husband by law during his lifetime,” and so on. 305 And again, “The wife is under the marriage bond as long as her husband is alive. If he dies she is free to marry, provided it is in the Lord. But in my view her greatest blessing is to remain as she is.” 306 (2) Now, in the former passage he says, “You have died to the Law” – not to marriage! – “with a view to becoming another’s, one who belongs to him was raised from the dead,” at once Bride and Church. The Bride and Church must be pure alike from inward thoughts contrary to truth and from outward tempters, that is, the adherents of heretical sects who try to persuade her to sexual unfaithfulness to her one and only husband almighty God. We must not be led, “as the snake seduced Eve,” 307 whose name means “Life,” 308 to transgress the commandments under the influence of the wicked lewdness of the factions. (3) The second passage established monogamy. We are not to suppose, in agreement with some people’s exegesis, 309 that the bond tying the wife to the husband means the involvement of the flesh with decay. He is


302.    Something has dropped out of the text: the general sense is clear.

303.    1 Tim 3.4-5.

304.    Echoes of 1 Cor 7.22-4.

305.    Rom 7.2.

306.    1 Cor 7.39-40.

307.    2 Cor 11.3.

308.    Gen 3.20.

309.    Probably Tatian (Epiphanius, Panarion 46.2-3) (see nt. 311).


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assailing the view of those atheists who attribute the invention of marriage directly to the devil. This is a view 310 which comes dangerously near to a slander against the lawgiver.

81(1) The Syrian Tatian, as I see it, had the effrontery to make this sort of thing his creed. 311 Anyway, he writes in his work On Training Following the Savior, 312 and I quote, “Agreement 313 conduces to prayer. The common experience of corruption means an end to intercourse. At any rate, his acceptance of it is so grudging that he is really saying No to it altogether. (2) He agreed to their coming together again because of Satan and because of weakness of will, but he showed that anyone who is inclined to succumb is going to be serving two masters, 314 God when there is agreement, and weakness of will, sexual immorality, and the devil when there is not.” (3) He says this in his exegesis of the Apostle. He is playing intellectual tricks with the truth in seeking to establish a false conclusion on the basis of truth. (4) We too agree that weakness of will and sexual immorality are passions inspired by the devil, but the harmony of responsible marriage occupies a middle position. When there is self-control it leads to prayer; when there is reverent bridal union, to childbearing. (5) At any rate, there is a proper time for the breeding of children, and Scripture calls it knowledge, 315 in the words, “Adam knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore a son, and called him by the name of Seth, ‘for God has raised up for me another child in Abel’s place.’” 316 (6) You see who is the target of the slanders of those who show their disgust at responsible


310.    Reading 6”2z»< with Heyse for 6”4.

311.    Tatian was a well educated Assyrian who converted to Christianity some time after A.D. 150: author of a defense of Christianity, and of a harmony of the Gospels (Diatessaron), something of a freethinker and Gnostic, he may have been founder of the ascetic Encratites; the orthodox rejected him, but his memory was alive in Syria.

312.    The title echoes Luke 6.40; Eph 4.12.

313.    Reading FL:NT<\” with Maranus for FL:NT<\”<.

314.    Matt 6.24.

315.    There is almost a triple meaning: knowledge, revealed knowledge (gnosis), and sexual intimacy. In Stromateis 3.94 (3) Clement suggests that Adam’s sin lay in seeking physical union before the right time.

316.    Gen 4.25.


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marriage and attribute the processes of birth to the devil? Scripture does not merely refer to “a god.” By application of the definite article it indicates the almighty ruler of the universe.

82(1) The Apostle’s added reference to their “coming together again because of Satan” is designed to anticipate and cut at the roots of any possibility of turning aside to other love affairs. 317 The temporary agreement serves to negate natural desires but does not cut them out root and branch. These 318 are why he reintroduces the marriage bond, not for uncontrolled behavior or sexual immorality or the operations of the devil, but to prevent him from falling under their sway. (2) Tatian makes a distinction between the old humanity and the new, 319 but it is not ours. We agree with him in that we too say that the old humanity is the Law, the new is the gospel. But we do not agree with his desire to abolish the Law as being the work of a different god. (3) It is the same man, the same Lord who makes old things new. 320 He no longer approves of polygamy (at that time God 321 required it because of the need for increased numbers). He introduces monogamy for the production of children and the need to look after the home. Woman was offered as a “partner” in this. 322 (4) And if a man cannot control himself and is burning with passion so that the Apostle “out of sympathy” offers him a second marriage, 323 then 324 he is not committing sin according to the Covenant, since it is not forbidden by the Law, but neither is he fulfilling the highest pitch of the gospel ethic. (5) He is acquiring heavenly glory for himself, if he remains single and keeps immaculate the union which has been broken by death and cheerfully obeys what God has in store for him, becoming “undistracted” from the Lord’s service. 325 (6) In the past, a


317.    Adding to with Munzel.

318.    Reading žH with Stählin for ¼<.

319.    Rom 7.2.

320.    2 Cor 5.17; Rev 21.5.

321.    It is tempting to after the text with Munzel to read 6”ÃD@H, ‘the moment.’

322.    Gen 2.18.

323.    1 Cor 7.9,36.

324.    Omitting ¦B, with Heyse.

325.    1 Cor 7.35.


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man coming from marital intercourse was required to wash. 326 It cannot be too strongly said that the Providence of God revealed through the Lord no longer makes this demand. The Lord eliminates washing after intercourse as unnecessary since he has cleansed believers by one single baptism for every such encounter, just as 327 he takes in the many washings prescribed by Moses by one single baptism.

83(1) In the past, the Law prescribed washing after the generative deposit 328 of seed in prophecy of our regeneration through the analogy of physical birth. It did not do so from distaste for the birth of a human being. The deposit of the seed makes possible the thing which emerges as a human being. (2) It is not frequent acts of intercourse which promise birth; it is the acceptance of the seed by the womb. In nature’s studio the seed is molded into an embryo. (3) How can marriage in the past be a mere invention of the Law, and marriage as ordained by our Lord be different, when it is the same God whom we worship? (4) “Man must not pull apart that which God has joined together.” 329 That is reasonable. Far more so that that Son will preserve the things which the Father has ordained. If the Law and gospel come from the same being, the Son cannot fight against himself. The Law is alive because it is spiritual, 330 if we interpret it in the light of true knowledge. (5) But we “have died to the Law through Christ’s body with a view to belonging to another, the one who was raised from the dead,” the one who was prophesied by the Law, “so that we may bear fruit for God.” 331

84(1) So “the Law is holy; the commandment is holy, righteous and good.” 332 We died to the Law, that is to say, to the sin exposed by the Law, which the Law does not engender but reveals. It enjoins what we ought to do and bans what 333 we ought not to do. It shows up the sin that is hidden, “so that


326.    Lev 15.18.

327.    Reading Ò with Heyse for .

328.    Adding 6”J”$@8± with Hiller.

329.    Matt 19.6.

330.    Rom 7.14.

331.    Rom 7.4.

332.    Rom 7.12.

333.    Reading ô< with Stählin for <.


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sin may be seen for what it is.” 334 (2) But if legally constituted marriage is sin, I do not know how anyone can claim to know God while saying that God’s commandment is sin. If the Law is holy, marriage is holy. Accordingly, the Apostle points this mystery in the direction of Christ and the Church. 335 (3) just as “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, so that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit” 336 not just in the process of birth but in its education. So “the children are holy,” 337 objects of delight, when the Lord’s words have brought the soul to God as a bride. (4) Anyway, there is a distinction between fornication and marriage, as great as separates the devil from God. “So you too have died to the Law through Christ’s body with a view to belonging to another, the one who was raised from the dead.” 338 It is implied that you have become attentive 339 in your obedience, since it is actually congruent with the truth of the Law that we are servants of the same Lord who gives us his instructions at a distance.

85(1) No question but that it is reasonable for the Spirit to say explicitly of people like that “that in the last days people will abandon the faith and attach themselves to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demonic powers, under the influence of hypocritical liars who are corrupt in conscience and try to put an end to marriage. They teach abstinence from foods which God created to be gratefully enjoyed by believers who have acquired an inward knowledge of the truth. Everything created by God is good. None is to be rejected provided it is taken in a spirit of gratitude. It is sanctified by God’s Word and by prayer.” 340 (2) It follows of necessity that there is no ban on marriage, or eating meat, or drinking wine, for it is written, “It is good to refrain from eating meat and drinking wine,” if a person might give offense by eating, and, “It is good to stay as I am.” 341 But both the person who takes his food gratefully, and the one who equally gratefully abstains


334.    Rom 7.14.

335.    Eph 5.32.

336.    John 3.6.

337.    1 Cor 7.14.

338.    Rom 7.4.

339.    Reading BD@F,PäH with Heinsing for BD@F,P,ÃH.

340.    1 Tim 4.1-5.

341.    Rom 14.21; 1 Cor 7.8.


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with an enjoyment marked by self-discipline must follow the Logos 342 in their lives.

86(1) In general, all the Apostle’s letters teach responsible self-control. They embrace thousands of instructions about marriage, the production of children, and domestic life. Nowhere do they blackball marriage, provided that it is responsible. They preserve the connection between the Law and the gospel. They welcome the man who embarks responsibly on marriage with gratitude to God, and the man who takes celibacy as his life companion in accordance with the Lord’s will, each, as he has been called, making his choice 343 in maturity and firmness. (2) “Jacob’s land was praised above any other land,” says the prophet, glorifying the instrument of the Spirit. 344 (3) But there is a man who runs down birth, 345 describing it as subject to decay and death, who forces things, 346 and suggests that the Savior was speaking about having children in saying that we should not store treasure on earth, where it grows rusty and moth-eaten, and who is not ashamed to set alongside these the prophet’s words: “You shall all grow old like clothes, and the moth will feed on you” 347 (4) We do not contradict Scripture. Our bodies are subject to decay and are naturally unstable. 348 Perhaps he might be prophesying 349 decay to his audience because they were sinners. The Savior was not speaking about having children. He was encouraging sharing of resources in those who wanted only to amass vast amounts of wealth rather than offer help to those in need.

87(1) That is why he says, “Do not work for perishable food, but for the food which lasts into eternal life.” 350 Similarly, they


342.    Or “reason.”

343.    Reading ©8`:,<@< with Schwartz for ©8`:,<@H.

344.    Quoted from the Epistle of Barnabas 11.9, but the source of the prophecy is unknown. Barnabas has “ÛJ@Ø, but MS “ÛJÎH may be a misquotation.

345.    Reading J­H with Mayor for J4H; the man is not known for certain.

346.    He does violence to birth, and to Scripture, and to the Kingdom (see Matt 11.12).

347.    Isa 50.9 omitting the first ñH with Victorius.

348.    With allusion to the school of Heraclitus which held that everything is in a state of flux.

349.    Reading BD@n0J,b@4 with Hiller for BD@n0J,b,4.

350.    John 6.27.


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cite the dictum “The children of this age do not marry and are not given in marriage.” 351 (2) But if anyone ponders over this answer about the resurrection of the dead, he will find that the Lord is not rejecting marriage, but is purging the expectation of physical desire in the resurrection. (3) The words “The children of this age” were not spoken in contrast with the children of some other age. It is like saying, “Those born in this generation,” who are children by force of birth, being born and engendering themselves, since without the process of birth no one will pass into this life. But this process of birth is balanced by a process of decay, and is no longer in store for the person who has once been cut off from life here. (4) “You have one single Father in heaven” – and he is also, as creator, Father of all. “Do not call anyone on earth Father,” he says. 352 That is like saying that you are not to think of the man who sowed you by a physical process as responsible for your existence, but as a fellow worker, or rather a subordinate, in bringing you to birth.

88(1) In this way he wants us to turn back and become like children again, 353 children who have come to know their real Father, come to a new birth by means of water, a method of birth quite different from that 354 in the material creation. (2) “Yes,” he says, “the man who is unmarried cares for the Lord’s business, the man who is married cares how to give his wife pleasure.” 355 Well? Is it impossible to give pleasure to one’s wife in ways acceptable to God and at the same time to show gratitude to God? Is it impermissible for the married man to have a partnership with his wife 356 in looking after the Lord’s business? (3) But just as “the unmarried woman is looking after the Lord’s business in seeking to be holy in body and spirit, 357 so the married woman cares in the Lord for her husband’s business and the Lord’s business in seeking to be


351.    Luke 20.35.

352.    Matt 23.9.

353.    Matt 18.3.

354.    Adding ³ J­H with Schwartz.

355.    1 Cor 7.32-3.

356.    Reading FL.b with Stählin for FL.L(\’.

357.    1 Cor 7.34.


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holy in body and spirit. Both are holy in the Lord, one as a wife, the other as a virgin. (4) But the Apostle fittingly pronounces humiliating opposition at full pitch to those who incline to second marriage. He is quick to say, “Every other sin. is outside the body. Sexual promiscuity is a sin against one’s own body.” 358

89(1) If anyone goes so far as to call marriage fornication, he is once more reverting to blasphemous slander upon the Law and the Lord. Avarice is called fornication because it is the opposite of self-sufficiency. Idolatry” 359 is called fornication because it is a spreading out from one God to many gods. In the same way, fornication takes place when a person falls away from a single marriage to a plurality. As we have remarked, the Apostle employs the words fornication and adultery in three senses. (2) It is in relation to these matters that the prophet says, “It was through your own sins that you were sold,” and again, “You experienced defilement in an alien land.” 360 He 361 is applying the idea of defilement to a partnership involving an alien body rather than the body given away in marriage for the purpose of producing children. (3) This is why the Apostle says, “So it is my wish that younger women should marry, have children, and be mistresses of their homes, without giving any opponent an opportunity to criticize. There are some already who have taken the wrong course and followed Satan.” 362

90(1) In fact, he expresses approval of the man who is husband of a single wife, whether elder, deacon, or layman, if he gives no ground for criticism in his conduct of his marriage. 363 He “will find salvation in bringing children into the world.” 364 (2) Once again the Savior calls the Jews “a wicked and adulterous generation.” 365 He is teaching that they do not know the Law in the way the Law requires. By following the tradition of other generations and the commandments of human


358.    1 Cor 6.18.

359.    Adding º with Stählin.

360.    Isa 50.1; Bar 3.10.

361.    Omitting J, with Stählin.

362.    1 Tim 5.14-15.

363.    Titus 1.6; 1 Tim 3.2, 12.

364.    1 Tim 2.15 where the subject is female.

365.    Matt 12.39.


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beings 366, they were committing adultery against the Law, denying that it was given as lord and master of their virginity. 367 (3) Perhaps he also knew that they were slaves to strange desires, which led them into unswerving slavery to sins so that they were sold to foreigners. Among the Jews there were no publicly appointed prostitutes; adultery was in fact forbidden. 368 (4) The man who said, “I have married a wife and cannot come” 369 to the dinner offered by God was an example to expose those who were apostates to God’s command for pleasures’ sake; for on this argument neither those who were righteous before the coming of Christ nor those who have married after his coming will be saved, even if they are apostles. (5) If they again adduce the well-known words of the prophet, “I have grown old amongst all my enemies,” 370 by “enemies” they ought to understand “sins.” There is one sin, and it is not marriage but fornication, or they would make a sin out of birth and birth’s creator.



Response to the Arguments of the Heretic Julius Cassian


91(1) In such ways Julius Cassian, the founder of docetism, argues his case. 371 Anyway, in his book On Self-Control or On Celibacy he says, and I quote, “No one should say that because we have the parts of the body that we do, with the female shaped one way and the male another, one for receiving, the other for inseminating, sexual intercourse has God’s approval. 372 (2) For if this disposition was from the God towards whom we are eagerly pressing, he would not have blessed


366.    Matt 15.2, 9.

367.    Jer 3.4 (LXX), adding *,P@:X<@LH with Mayor.

368.    Exod 20.14; Deut 5.18.

369.    Luke 14.20.

370.    Ps 6.8 (LXX) reading ¦B”8”4f20< with the text for ¦B”8”4f20.

371.    Not known outside Clement and statements from Jerome dependent on him (see Stromateis 1.101); Docetism, of which he was certainly not the founder, but was presumably a leading exponent, was the doctrine that the humanity and sufferings of Christ were seeming rather than real.

372.    The MS reading mixes two constructions, but Julius (or Clement) may have done this.


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eunuchs, 373 and the prophet would not have said that they are ‘not an unfruitful tree’ 374 taking an analogy from the tree for the man who by deliberate choice emasculates himself from ideas of this sort.”

92(1) In an effort to defend his godless opinion he adds, “How would it be unreasonable to bring a charge against the Savior if he malformed us and then freed us from his mistake and from partnership with our genitals, appendages and private parts?” In this view he is close to Tatian. But he left Valentinus’ school. (2) That is why Cassian says, “When Salome asked when she would know the answer to her question the Lord replied, ‘When you trample underfoot the integument of shame, and when the two become one and the male is one with the female, and there is no more male and female.” 375

93(1) First then, we do not find this saying in our four traditional Gospels, but in the Gospel according to the Egyptians. 376 Next, he does not seem to me to recognize that allusively the male impulse is temper, the female, desire. 377 When these are at work, repentance and shame follow. (2) So when a person refuses to indulge temper or desire, which in fact grow from bad character and bad nurture till they overshadow and conceal rational thought, when he strips off the darkness these produce, when he repents and out of repentance feels shame, when he integrates 378 soul and spirit in obedience to the Word, then, as Paul joins in affirming, “there is no male or female among you. 379 (3) The soul stands aside from the mere appearance of shape whereby male is distinguished from female, and is transformed into unity, being neither male nor female.


373.    Matt 19.12.

374.    Isa 56.3.

375.    Clement of Rome, Second Epistle to the Corinthians 12.2 which includes the words “and the outside inside.”

376.    One of the apocryphal Gospels, a secondary work with Gnostic tendencies, criticized by Origen (see nt. 163).

377.    The two inferior parts of the soul in Plato (see Republic 6.492 A, 495 A; Phaedrus 254 C-E), to be governed by reason.

378.    Reading ©<fF® with Stählin for ©<fF,4.

379.    Gal 3.28.


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But our brilliant friend must take a more Platonic view and imagine that the soul is divine in origin and has come to our world of birth and decay after being made effeminate by desire. 380



Explication of Scripture Passages Relevant to Cassian’s Arguments


94(1) Then he does violence to Paul, in suggesting that he says that birth was constituted out of deceit. He is interpreting the words “My fear is that, just as the snake deceived Eve, your thoughts may be corrupted and diverted from a simple commitment to Christ.” 381 (2) Besides, the Lord by general agreement came for the wanderers, 382 but they had not wandered from above to be born on earth (for birth, itself a creator, is a creation of the almighty, who would never drive the soul down from a better home to a worse). (3) But the savior came for those who were wandering in thought, for us. Our thoughts were corrupted by our love of pleasure and our neglect of the commandments. Perhaps too the first-formed human anticipated the appropriate moment, coveted the grace of marriage before time, and so committed sin, since “everyone who looks at a woman with an eye to lust has already committed adultery with her” 383 in not waiting for the right moment of rational will.

95(1) It was the same Lord who at that time also gave judgment on the desire which anticipates marriage. So when the Apostle says, “Put on the new humanity created after God’s way,” 384 he is addressing us; we were shaped as we are by the Almighty’s will. When he speaks of “old” and “new,” 385 he is not referring to birth and rebirth, but to disobedient and obedient ways of living. (2) Cassian thinks the “tunics of skins” 386


380.    Plato, Phaedo 81 C; Phaedrus 248 C.

381.    2 Cor 11.3.

382.    Matt 18.11.

383.    Matt 5.28.

384.    Eph 4.24.

385.    Adding 6”4 6”4<Î< with Hiller.

386.    Gen 3.21, a common interpretation. See Philo, Allegorical Interpretation 3.69; On the Prosterity and Exile of Cain 137; Origen, Against Celsus 4.40; Porphyry, On Abstinence 1.31.


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are our bodies. We shall demonstrate later that he and those who argue like him are wrong in this, when we put our hands to the exposition of the genesis of humankind after the essential prolegomena. He goes on to say, “Those who are ruled by earthly values are born and engender. Our citizenship is in heaven and we welcome our Savior from there.” 387 (3) We know this is well said, since we have a duty to behave as “temporarily resident aliens”; 388 if we were married, as if we were single; if we have possessions, as if dispossessed; if we produce children, doing so in the knowledge that they will die; ready to give up our property, live without a wife if need be; dispassionate in our approach to the created world, with a mind above these things and a deep gratitude.



Explication of Scripture Passages on Marriage and Celibacy


96(1) Again, when Paul says, “It is good for a man not to have contact with a woman, but to avoid immorality let each have his own wife,” he offers a kind of exegesis by saying further, “to prevent Satan from tempting you.” (2) In the words “by using your lack of self-control” 389 he is addressing not those who practice marriage through self-control solely for the production of children, but those with a passionate desire to go beyond the production of children. He does not want the Adversary to create a hurricane 390 so that the waves drive their yearnings to alien pleasure. (3) It may be that 391 Satan is jealous of those whose lives are morally upright, opposes them, and wants to master them. That is why he wishes to subject them to his command and aims to provide a jumping-off point by making self-control laborious.

97(1) So it is reasonable of Paul to say, “It is better to marry


387.    Matt 20.25, 24.38; Luke 17.27; John 18.36; Phil 3.20.

388.    Heb 11.13.

389.    1 Cor 7.1-2,5.

390.    Reading ¦B4B<,bF”H with Bywater for ¦B4<,bF”H.

391.    Reading ¦B, with Hervet for ¦BÂ.


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than to burn with passion.” 392 He wants the husband to pay due attention to his wife and vice versa. He does not want them to deprive one another of the help offered towards childbirth through divine dispensation. 393 (2) They quote the words “Anyone who does not hate father or mother, wife or children, cannot be my disciple.” 394 (3) This is not an exhortation to hate your family, since Scripture says, “Honor your father and mother, for it to be well with you.” 395 What he is saying is, “Do not be led astray by irrational impulses, and do not get involved in ordinary worldly practices.” A family constitutes a household, and secular communities are made up of households. 396 Paul says of those who find marriage a full-time occupation that they are “concerned to satisfy the world.” 397 (4) Again the Lord says, “Anyone married should not seek divorce; anyone unmarried should not seek marriage” 398 – in other words, if a man has taken a public commitment to celibacy he should remain unmarried.

98(1) Anyway, the same Lord gives corresponding promises to both through the prophet Isaiah in saying, “The eunuch should not say, ‘I am a barren tree.’ This is what the Lord says to eunuchs: If you keep my sabbath and fulfill all my ordinances, I will give you a place which is preferable to sons and daughters.” 399 (2) To be a eunuch does not of itself make a person righteous, still less the eunuch’s keeping of the sabbath, unless he performs the commandments. (3) To the married he adds these words: “My elect shall not labor in vain or produce children to be under a curse, since their seed is blessed by the Lord.” 400 (4) If a man produces children in


392.    1 Cor 7.9.

393.    Adding @46@<@:\”H with Sylburg.

394.    Luke 14.26.

395.    Exod 20.12.

396.    Aristotle, Politics 1.1252 A-B; the Greek words that I have rendered ‘ordinary,’ ‘worldly,’ and ‘secular communities’ have to do with polis, the ‘city-state,’ which is the basis of politics.

397.    1 Cor 7.33.

398.    Not in our Bible (see Resch, Agrapha 429) perhaps from the Gospel according to the Egyptians (see nt. 163, reflected in 1 Cor 7.27).

399.    Isa 56.3-5.

400.    Isa 65.23.


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obedience to the Logos, 401 nurtures them, and educates them in the Lord, as with the man who fathers children following instruction in the truth, there is a reward in store for him, as for the elect seed too. (5) Some people accept the view that the production of children is a curse; they do not understand 402 that it is against these very people that Scripture is speaking. The Lord’s true elect do not dogmatize or produce children to be under a curse; they leave that to the heretical sects.

99(1) So “eunuch” does not mean the man who has been physically emasculated, still less the unmarried man, but the man who is sterile in relation to truth. Previously he was “a barren tree”. 403 Once he has obeyed the Word and observed the sabbaths, put his sins to one side and fulfilled the commandments, he will be in greater honor than those whose education is theoretical and lack a proper way of living. (2) “Little children,” says the Teacher, “I am with you only a little longer.” 404 That is why Paul says in his letter to Galatians, “My little children, I am going through the pains of childbirth with you a second time until Christ is formed in you” 405 (3)Yet again in writing to the Corinthians he says, “You may have thousands of tutors in Christ but only one father. I am your father in Christ through the gospel.” 406 (4) This is why “no eunuch shall enter God’s assembly,” 407 being unproductive and unfruitful in behavior and speech. But “those who have made themselves eunuchs” – free from every sin – “for the kingdom of heaven’s sake,” 408 in fasting from worldliness, 409 find blessing.


401.    Or “reason.”

402.    Reading FL<4�F4 with Stählin for FL<4,ÃF4.

403.    Isa 56.3.

404.    John 13.33.

405.    Gal 4.19.

406.    1 Cor 4.15.

407.    Deut 13.1.

408.    Matt 19.12.

409.    An allusion to words attributed to Jesus (Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 1.3) about those who fast to the world.


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Explication of Scripture Passages Claiming Birth as an Evil or a Good


100(1) “Accursed be the day on which I was born – may it never be blessed,” says Jeremiah. 410 He is not simply saying that birth is an accursed thing; he has withdrawn in impatience at the sinful disobedience of the people. (2) Anyway he goes on, “Why was I born to see trouble and toil? Why have my days come to fulfillment in shame?” 411 All those who preached the truth were in danger of persecution through the disobedience of their audience. (3) “Why did my mother’s womb not become my tomb, to prevent me from seeing Jacob’s trials and the troubles of the house of Israel?” says the prophet Esdras. 412 (4) “No one is pure from stain,” says Job, “not even if his life is of one day’s duration.” 413 (5) It is for them to tell us how the newly born child could commit fornication or in what way the child who has never done anything at all has fallen under Adam’s curse. (6) The only thing left for them to say and still be consistent, I suppose, is that birth is evil not just for the body but for the soul for which the body exists. (7) When David says, “I was brought into being in sin; my mother conceived me in disobedience to the Law,” 414 he is speaking prophetically of Eve as his mother: “Eve became the mother of all who live.” 415 If he was brought into being in sin, it does not follow that he himself is in sin, still less that he himself is sin.

101(1) Is everyone who turns from sin to faith, turning from sinful practices, as if from his mother, to life? I shall call in evidence one of the twelve prophets who says, “Am I to make an offering of my firstborn son for impiety, the fruit of my womb for the sin of my soul?” 416 (2) This is no attack on


410.    Jer 20.14.

411.    Jer 20.18.

412.    2 Esd 5.35.

413.    Job 14.4-5; the quotation appears in a closely similar form in Clement of Rome, First Epistle to the Corinthians 17.4.

414.    Ps 51.5.

415.    Gen 3.20.

416.    Mic 6.7.


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the words “Increase in numbers.” 417 He is calling the first impulses after birth, which do not help us to knowledge of God, “impiety.” (3) If anyone uses this as a basis for saying that that birth is evil, he should also use it as a basis for saying that it is good, in that in it 418 we come to know the truth. “Come back to a sober and upright life and stop sinning. There are some who know nothing of God” – plainly the sinners. 419 “Since we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against spiritual beings, potent in temptation, 420 the rulers of this dark world,” there is forbearance. (4) This is why Paul says, “I bruise my own body and treat it as a slave” because “every athlete goes into total training” (instead of “total training” we understand not that he abstains from absolutely everything but that he shows self-control in those things he has taken a deliberate decision to use). “They do it to win a crown which dies, we for one which never dies,” 421 if we win the contest. No effort, no crown! (5) Today there are some people who place the widow above the virgin in self-control, on the grounds that she has shown a high-minded rejection 422 of a pleasure she has enjoyed.



Asserting That Birth Is an Evil Is a Condemnation of Creation and the Gospels


102(1) If birth is an evil, then the blasphemers must place the Lord who went through birth and the virgin who gave him birth in the category of evil. (2) Abominable people! In attacking birth they are maligning the will of God and the mystery of creation. (3) This is the basis of Cassian’s docetism,


417.    Gen 1.28.

418.    Reading “ÛJ± with Stählin for ÛJè.

419.    1 Cor 15.34 reading ¦6<ZR”J, with Paul for ¦6<\R”J,.

420.    Eph 6.12.

421.    1 Cor 9.25-7.

422.    On P”J”:,(“8@nD@<,Ã< see nt. 224. It is a kind of negative Aristotelianism: Chadwick notes the same thoughts in Tertullian, To His Wife 1.8, and the opposite view in Augustine, Holy Virginity 46; reading BD@J4:äF4 with Heyse for BD@J4:@LF4.


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Marcion’s too, yes, and Valentinus’ “semi-spiritual body.” 423 It leads them to say, “Humanity became like cattle in coming to sexual intercourse.” But it is when a man, swollen with lust, really and truly wants to go to bed with a woman not his own, that that sort of man actually becomes a wild beast. “They turned into stallions crazed for mares, each was whinnying for his neighbor’s wife.” 424 (4) And if it is really argued that the snake took the practice of sexual union 425 from the irrational animals, and prevailed on Adam to come to an agreement on sexual intercourse with Eve, and that the first created humans did not naturally practice this, this is another attack on creation for having made human beings weaker than the irrational beasts by nature, so that the people first created by God had to follow their example!

103(1) But if it was nature that guided them, like the animals without reason, to the production of children, and they were sexually aroused before they should have been, while they were still new and young because they were deceived and led astray, then God’s judgment upon those who did not wait for his will was a just judgment. At the same time, birth is holy. It was through birth 426 that the universe was constituted; so too the substances, the creatures, the angels, the powers, the souls, the commandment, the Law, the gospel, the revealed knowledge of God. (2) And “all flesh is grass and all human glory is like the flower of grass. The grass dries up. The flower droops. But the Lord’s word remains firm” 427 and anoints the soul and makes it one with the Spirit. (3) Without the body, how could 428 dispensation for us, the Church, achieve its end? It was here that he, the Church’s head, 429 came


423.    On Cassian and Docetism see nt. 371; on Marcion see nt. 44; on Valentinus see nt. 99; I have translated psychikos as ‘semi-spiritual’: it stands between the physical and the spiritual.

424.    Jer 5.8.

425.    Reading FL<@LF\”H with Major for FL:$@L8\”H, and JbP® with Stählin for 8X(®.

426.    A Platonic term for the process of creation; the first book of the Bible is called Genesis.

427.    Isa 40.6-8.

428.    Adding –< with Major.

429.    Eph 5.23.


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in the flesh but without beauty of form, 430 teaching us to fix our gaze on the formless incorporeality of the divine cause. (4) “A tree of life,” says the prophet, “grows in the soil of a healthy desire,” 431 teaching that desires held in the living Lord are good and pure.

104(1) They now want that union of man and wife within marriage, which Scripture calls knowledge, 432 to be a sin. They claim that this is indicated by the eating from the tree of good and evil, and teaches the fact that the commandment was transgressed by the use of the phrase “he knew.” (2) If so, then the revealed knowledge of the truth is also an eating from the Tree of Life. 433 So it is possible for responsible marriage to take from that tree. (3) We have previously said that it is possible to use marriage for good or evil, and this, if we do not transgress the commandment, is the tree of knowledge. (4) Well? Does not the Savior heal body and soul alike from passions? It could not be, if the flesh were at enmity with the soul, that he would have put up fortifications against the soul in the soul’s own territory by strengthening 434 flesh, the enemy, with health. (5) “Brothers, I tell you that flesh and blood are not able to inherit the kingdom of God; the perishable will never inherit imperishability.” 435 For sin, being perishable, cannot enjoy fellowship with imperishability (that is righteousness). “Are you such fools?” he asks. “You have made a start with the Spirit. Are you now going to reach perfection through the flesh? 436



Extremes of Opinion Regarding Marriage Should Be Avoided


105(1) So there are some people who have tried to extend the scope of righteousness and the strong, sacred concord with the power of salvation, as we have demonstrated. They


430.    Isa 53.2; reading •,4*¬H with Sylburg for •0*¬H, and ¦8Z8L2,< with Bywater for *4,8Z8L2,<.

431.    Prov 13.12.

432.    Gen 2.9 (see nt. 315).

433.    Gen 11.9, 3.22, note the equation of truth and life.

434.    Reading ¦B4F6,LV.T< with Hervet for ¦B4F64V.T<.

435.    1 Cor 15.50.

436.    Gal 3.3.


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have a blasphemous acceptance of self-control combined with total atheism. It is proper to choose celibacy in accordance with the norm of health and to combine it with piety, in gratitude for God’s gift of grace, without hatred of creation or denigration of married people. The universe is the product of creation; celibacy is the product of creation. Both should be grateful for their appointed condition, if they know what that is. (2) But there are some who have kicked over the traces and run riot. They really are “stallions crazed for mares, whinnying for their neighbors’ wives.” 437 They cling uncontrollably to pleasure. 438 They persuade their neighbors to hedonism. The miserable wretches listen to these words from Scripture: “Throw your lot in with us. Let us all have a common purse and a single bag for money.” 439

106(1) It is because of them that the same prophet gives us advice in these words: “Do not travel on the road with them; keep your steps clear of the paths they tread. It is not unjust for nets to be spread out for birds. By sharing in bloodshed they are laying up evils for themselves” 440 – that is to say, they are eager in pursuing immorality and are teaching their neighbors to do the same. “They are warriors,” says the prophet, “beaten with their own tails” – or, as the Greeks put it, penises. 441 (2) Those to whom the prophecy alludes might well be lecherous, undisciplined fighters using their tails, children of darkness, “children of wrath,” 442 bloody assassins and murderers of their neighbors. (3) “Clean away the old leaven to become bread of a fresh baking,” the Apostle calls loudly to us. 443 And again, in indignation at people like that, he instructs that “if any professed Christian practices fornication,


437.    Jer 5.8.

438.    Adding º*@<­H with Schwartz.

439.    Prov 1.14, part of the tempting words of the wicked.

440.    Prov 1.15-18.

441.    The source of the quotation is unknown but there is a complexity of meaning: Both words are Greek and mean ‘tail,’ and both, like tail and penis (literally tail) are applied to the male sex organ: the second, kerkos. is also used of a bull’s pizzle used as a whip in punishment (see also Rev 10.10 and 19 [actually Rev 9 rather than Rev 10] where the animals’ tails are dangerous weapons); one suspects a double meaning in “warriors”; the idea of love as a battle is common enough.

442.    Eph 2.3.

443.    1 Cor 5.7.


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is governed by the hope of profit, worships idols, uses abusive language, gets drunk, or is a swindler, we should have no fellowship, not even at table, with him.” 444 (4) “Through the Law,” he says, “I am dead to the Law in order to live to God. I am crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who am alive” in the way I used to live, lustfully – “but Christ who is alive in me,” making me blessedly pure through obedience to the commandments. In consequence, whereas previously I was alive in the flesh following the ways of the flesh, “now my life in the flesh is lived by faith in God’s Son.” 445

107(1) “Do not go off the road to gentile territory or visit a Samaritan town,” says the Lord, to divert us from the opposite way of living, since “the lawless come to a dreadful fate. These are the paths of all those who achieve lawlessness.” 446 (2) “Alas for that man,” says the Lord. “It was good for him never to have been born rather than cause one of my elect to stumble. Better for him to have a millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the sea rather than misdirect one of my elect.” 447 “God’s name is dishonored because of them.” 448 (3) This is why the Apostle makes the lofty statement, “I wrote in my letter that you should have nothing to do with profligate living” down to “The body is not for sexual promiscuity but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” 449 (4) To make sure that he is not identifying marriage with fornication he adds, “Or do you not realize that anyone who attaches himself to a prostitute becomes physically one with her?” 450 Will anyone call a virgin before marriage a prostitute? (5) “Do not deprive one another,” he says, “except temporarily by mutual agreement.” 451 By using the word “deprive” he is showing the due obligation of marrying, the production of children. He made a point of this earlier in the words, “The husband must give the wife what is her due, and vice versa.452


444.    1 Cor 5.11 reading ¹ for the first ³ as in Paul.

445.    Gal 2.19-20.

446.    Prov 1.18-19.

447.    Clement of Rome, First Epistle to the Corinthians 46.8, who is quoting Matt 26.24, 18.6-7; Mark 9.42; Luke 17.2.

448.    Rom 2.24.

449.    1 Cor 5.9 – 6.13.

450.    1 Cor 6.16.

451.    1 Cor 7.5.

452.    1 Cor 7.3.


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108(1) After making this contribution, she is a helpmate domestically and in the Christian faith. He goes on 453 to speak more clearly: “I have an order for the married. It is not from me but from the Lord. A wife is not to seek separation from her husband. If she does, she is to remain unmarried or come to reconciliation with her husband. The husband is not to divorce his wife. To the rest I speak in my own person not as representing the Lord. [From the Scripture text] ‘If any Christian male’ down to ‘but now they are dedicated to God.’ 454 (2) These people who run down the Law and marriage as if it were constituted merely by the Law and alien to the New Covenant – what do they say in face of this? Those who have such a loathing for sex and childbirth – what have they to say in answer to this legislation? For Paul also lays down that leadership in the Church should rest with “a bishop who presides successfully over his household” and that “marriage to one wife” constitutes a household with the Lord’s blessing. 455

109(1) “So to the pure, everything is pure,” he says. “To the tainted minds of the faithless, nothing is pure; they are tainted in reason and conscience.” 456 (2) As to illegitimate pleasure he says, “Make no mistake. The sexually immoral, worshipper of idols, adulterers, passive perverts, homosexuals, those who pursue profit, robbers, drunkards, people who use abusive language, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.” We used to be such, but “have passed through the purifying waters.” 457 But they purify themselves for this licentiousness. Their baptism is out of responsible self-control into sexual immorality. Their philosophy is the gratification of their pleasures and passions. They teach a change from self-discipline to indiscipline. The hope they offer is the titillation of their genitals. 458 They make themselves excluded from the kingdom of God instead of enrolled disciples. 459 Under the name of what they falsely call knowledge 460 they have embarked on the


453.    Reading §J4 with Sylburg for J4.

454.    1 Cor 7.10-14.

455.    1 Tim 3.2-4; Titus 1.6.

456.    Titus 1.15.

457.    1 Cor 6.9-11.

458.    Phil 3.19.

459.    Rev. 20.12,15; 21.27.

460.    1 Tim 6.20.


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road to outer darkness. 461 (3) “For the rest, brothers, set your minds on all that is true, all that is holy, all that is righteous, all that is pure, all that is attractive, all that wins praise, whatever wins admiration for its moral excellence. Put into practice the lessons I taught, the 462 traditions I passed on, the words you heard from me, the actions you saw me perform. And the God of Peace will be with you.” 463

110(1) Peter in his letter says much the same: “In consequence, you have purified your souls in obedience to the truth, and your faith and hope are in God,” 464 (2) “as obedient children, not molded by the lustful desires of your former ignorance. The one who called you is holy. Be like him, holy in all your behavior, since it is written, ‘You are to be holy, since I am holy.’” 465 (3) But our critique of the hypocritical pretenders to knowledge, however essential, has gone beyond what is necessary and stretched out our discourse to a considerable length. So this is the conclusion of Book Three of our Miscellanies of Notes of Revealed Knowledge in Accordance with the True Philosophy.


461.    Matt 8.12, 22.13, 25.30.

462.    Omitting ž with Stählin.

463.    Phil 4.8-9.

464.    1 Pet 1.21-2.

465.    1 Pet 1.14-16 reading •(<@\’ for �(<,\’ with the New Testament text; the quotation is from Lev 11.44, 19.2, 20.7.