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Home > Fathers of the Church > Against Heresies (St. Irenaeus) > Book I, Chapter 19

Against Heresies (Book I, Chapter 19)

Passages of Scripture by which they attempt to prove that the Supreme Father was unknown before the coming of Christ.

1. I judge it necessary to add to these details also what, by garbling passages of Scripture, they try to persuade us concerning their Propator, who was unknown to all before the coming of Christ. Their object in this is to show that our Lord announced another Father than the Maker of this universe, whom, as we said before, they impiously declare to have been the fruit of a defect. For instance, when the prophet Isaiah says, But Israel has not known Me, and My people have not understood Me, Isaiah 1:3 they pervert his words to mean ignorance of the invisible Bythus. And that which is spoken by Hosea, There is no truth in them, nor the knowledge of God, Hosea 4:1 they strive to give the same reference. And, There is none that understands, or that seeks after God: they have all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable, they maintain to be said concerning ignorance of Bythus. Also that which is spoken by Moses, No man shall see God and live, Exodus 33:20 has, as they would persuade us, the same reference.

2. For they falsely hold, that the Creator was seen by the prophets. But this passage, No man shall see God and live, they would interpret as spoken of His greatness unseen and unknown by all; and indeed that these words, No man shall see God, are spoken concerning the invisible Father, the Maker of the universe, is evident to us all; but that they are not used concerning that Bythus whom they conjure into existence, but concerning the Creator (and He is the invisible God), shall be shown as we proceed. They maintain that Daniel also set forth the same thing when he begged of the angels explanations of the parables, as being himself ignorant of them. But the angel, hiding from him the great mystery of Bythus, said unto him, Go your way quickly, Daniel, for these sayings are closed up until those who have understanding do understand them, and those who are white be made white. Moreover, they boast that they are the white and the men of good understanding.

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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/0103119.htm>.

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