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Home > Fathers of the Church > Against Heresies (St. Irenaeus) > Book I, Chapter 12

Against Heresies (Book I, Chapter 12)

The doctrines of the followers of Ptolemy and Colorbasus.

1. But the followers of Ptolemy say that he [Bythus] has two consorts, which they also name Diatheses (affections), viz., Ennœa and Thelesis. For, as they affirm, he first conceived the thought of producing something, and then willed to that effect. Wherefore, again, these two affections, or powers, Ennœa and Thelesis, having intercourse, as it were, between themselves, the production of Monogenes and Aletheia took place according to conjunction. These two came forth as types and images of the two affections of the Father—visible representations of those that were invisible—Nous (i.e., Monogenes) of Thelesis, and Aletheia of Ennœa, and accordingly the image resulting from Thelesis was masculine, while that from Ennœa was feminine. Thus Thelesis (will) became, as it were, a faculty of Ennœa (thought). For Ennœa continually yearned after offspring; but she could not of herself bring forth that which she desired. But when the power of Thelesis (the faculty of will) came upon her, then she brought forth that on which she had brooded.

2. These fancied beings (like the Jove of Homer, who is represented as passing an anxious sleepless night in devising plans for honouring Achilles and destroying numbers of the Greeks) will not appear to you, my dear friend, to be possessed of greater knowledge than He who is the God of the universe. He, as soon as He thinks, also performs what He has willed; and as soon as He wills, also thinks that which He has willed; then thinking when He wills, and then willing when He thinks, since He is all thought, [all will, all mind, all light,] all eye, all ear, the one entire fountain of all good things.

3. Those of them, however, who are deemed more skilful than the persons who have just been mentioned, say that the first Ogdoad was not produced gradually, so that one Æon was sent forth by another, but that all the Æons were brought into existence at once by Propator and his Ennœa. He (Colorbasus) affirms this as confidently as if he had assisted at their birth. Accordingly, he and his followers maintain that Anthropos and Ecclesia were not produced, as others hold, from Logos and Zoe; but, on the contrary, Logos and Zoe from Anthropos and Ecclesia. But they express this in another form, as follows: When the Propator conceived the thought of producing something, he received the name of Father. But because what he did produce was true, it was named Aletheia. Again, when he wished to reveal himself, this was termed Anthropos. Finally, when he produced those whom he had previously thought of, these were named Ecclesia. Anthropos, by speaking, formed Logos: this is the first-born son. But Zoe followed upon Logos; and thus the first Ogdoad was completed.

4. They have much contention also among themselves respecting the Saviour. For some maintain that he was formed out of all; wherefore also he was called Eudocetos, because the whole Pleroma was well pleased through him to glorify the Father. But others assert that he was produced from those ten Æons alone who sprung from Logos and Zoe, and that on this account he was called Logos and Zoe, thus preserving the ancestral names. Others, again, affirm that he had his being from those twelve Æons who were the offspring of Anthropos and Ecclesia; and on this account he acknowledges himself the Son of man, as being a descendant of Anthropos. Others still, assert that he was produced by Christ and the Holy Spirit, who were brought forth for the security of the Pleroma; and that on this account he was called Christ, thus preserving the appellation of the Father, by whom he was produced. And there are yet others among them who declare that the Propator of the whole, Proarche, and Proanennoetos is called Anthropos; and that this is the great and abstruse mystery, namely, that the Power which is above all others, and contains all in his embrace, is termed Anthropos; hence does the Saviour style himself the Son of man.

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Source. Translated by Alexander Roberts and William Rambaut. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103112.htm>.

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