Ante-Nicene Christian Library/Volume V

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Ante-Nicene Christian Library  (1868)  by Irenaeus, edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, translated by Alexander Roberts and William Hautenville Rambaut
Volume V: The Writings of Irenæus, Vol. 1





DOWN TO A.D. 325.























Introductory Notice, xv
Preface, 1
1. Absurd ideas of the disciples of Valentinus as to the origin, name, order, and conjugal productions of their fancied Æons, with the passages of Scripture which they adapt to their opinions, 4
2. The Propator was known to Monogenes alone. Ambition, disturbance, and danger into which Sophia fell; her shapeless offspring: she is restored by Horos. The production of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, in order to the completion of the Æons. Manner of the production of Jesus, 7
3. Texts of Holy Scripture used by these heretics to support their opinions, 11
4. Account given by the heretics of the formation of Achamoth; origin of the visible world from her disturbances, 16
5. Formation of the Demiurge; description of him. He is the creator of everything outside of the Pleroma, 20
6. The threefold kind of man feigned by these heretics: good works needless for them, though necessary to others: their abandoned morals, 24
7. The mother Achamoth, when all her seed are perfected, shall pass into the Pleroma, accompanied by those men who are spiritual; the Demiurge, with animal men, shall pass into the intermediate habitation; but all material men shall go into corruption. Their blasphemous opinions against the true incarnation of Christ by the Virgin Mary. Their views as to the prophecies. Stupid ignorance of the Demiurge, 28
8. How the Valentinians pervert the Scriptures to support their own impious opinions, 31
9. Refutation of the impious interpretations of these heretics, 38
10. Unity of the faith of the church throughout the whole world, 42
11. The opinions of Valentinus, with those of his disciples and others, 45
12. The doctrines of the followers of Ptolemy and Colorbasus, 49
13. The deceitful arts and nefarious practices of Marcus, 51
14. The various hypotheses of Marcus and others. Theories respecting letters and syllables, 56
15. Sige relates to Marcus the generation of the twenty-four elements and of Jesus. Exposure of these absurdities, 64
16. Absurd interpretations of the Marcosians, 69
17. The theory of the Marcosians, that created things were made after the image of things invisible, 72
18. Passages from Moses, which the heretics pervert to the support of their hypothesis, 74
19. Passages of Scripture by which they attempt to prove that the Supreme Father was unknown before the coming of Christ, 78
20. The apocryphal and spurious Scriptures of the Marcosians, with passages of the Gospels which they pervert, 79
21. The views of redemption entertained by these heretics, 81
22. Deviations of heretics from the truth, 84
23. Doctrines and practices of Simon Magus and Menander, 86
24. Doctrines of Saturninus and Basilides, 89
25. Doctrines of Carpocrates, 93
26. Doctrines of Cerinthus, the Ebionites, and Nicolaitanes, 97
27. Doctrines of Cerdo and Marcion, 98
28. Doctrines of Tatian, the Encratites, and others, 100
29. Doctrines of various other Gnostic sects, and especially of the Barbeliotes or Borborians, 101
30. Doctrines of the Ophites and Sethians, 104
31. Doctrines of the Cainites, 113
Preface, 116
1. There is but one God: the impossibility of its being otherwise, 117
2. The world was not formed by angels, or by any other being, contrary to the will of the most high God, but was made by the Father through the Word, 120
3. The Bythus and Pleroma of the Valentinians, as well as the God of Marcion, shown to be absurd; the world was actually created by the same Being who had conceived the idea of it, and was not the fruit of defect or ignorance, 124
4. The absurdity of the supposed vacuum and defect of the heretics is demonstrated, 125
5. This world was not formed by any other beings within the territory which is contamed by the Father, 129
6. The angels and the Creator of the world could not have been ignorant of the Supreme God, 132
7. Created things are not the images of those Æons who are within the Pleroma, 134
8. Created things are not a shadow of the Pleroma, 140
9. There is but one Creator of the world, God the Father: this the constant belief of the church, 142
10. Perverse interpretations of Scripture by the heretics: God created all things out of nothing, and not from preexistent matter, 144
11. The heretics, from their disbelief of the truth, have fallen into an abyss of error: reasons for investigating their systems, 146
12. The Triacontad of the heretics errs both by defect and excess: Sophia could never have produced anything apart from her consort; Logos and Sige could not have been contemporaries, 147
13. The first order of production maintained by the heretics is altogether indefensible, 152
14. Valentinus and his followers derived the principles of their system from the heathen; the names only are changed, 160
15. No account can be given of these productions, 168
16. The Creator of the world either produced of Himself the images of things to be made, or the Pleroma was formed after the image of some previous system; and so on ad infinitum, 170
17. Inquiry into the production of the Æons: whatever its supposed nature, it is in every respect inconsistent; and on the hypothesis of the heretics, even Nous and the Father Himself would be stained with ignorance, 172
18. Sophia was never really in ignorance or passion; her Enthymesis could not have been separated from herself, or exhibited special tendencies of its own, 180
19. Absurdities of the heretics as to their own origin; their opinions respecting the Demiurge shown to be equally untenable and ridiculous, 184
20. Futility of the arguments adduced to demonstrate the sufferings of the twelfth Æon, from the parables, the treachery of Judas, and the passion of our Saviour, 190
21. The twelve apostles were not a type of the Æons, 194
22. The thirty Æons are not typified by the fact that Christ was baptized in His thirtieth year: He did not suffer in the twelfth month after His baptism, but was more than fifty years old when He died, 196
23. The woman who suffered from an issue of blood was no type of the suffering Æon, 203
24. Folly of the arguments derived by the heretics from numbers, letters, and syllables, 204
25. God is not to be sought after by means of letters, syllables, and numbers; necessity of humility in such investigations, 212
26. "Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth," 215
27. Proper mode of interpreting parables and obscure passages of Scripture, 217
28. Perfect knowledge cannot be attained in the present life: many questions must be submissively left in the hands of God, 219
29. Refutation of the views of the heretics as to the future destiny of the soul and body, 228
30. Absurdity of their styling themselves spiritual, while the Demiurge is declared to be animal, 231
31. Recapitulation and application of the foregoing arguments, 239
32. Further exposure of the wicked and blasphemous doctrines of the heretics, 242
33. Absurdity of the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, 247
34. Souls can be recognised in the separate state, and are immortal although they once had a beginning, 250
35. Refutation of Basilides, and of the opinion that the prophets uttered their predictions under the inspiration of different gods, 253
Preface, 257
1. The apostles did not commence to preach the gospel, or to place anything on record, until they were endowed with the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit. They preached one God alone, Maker of heaven and earth, 258
2. The heretics follow neither Scripture nor tradition, 259
3. A refutation of the heretics, from the fact that, in the various churches, a perpetual succession of bishops was kept up, 260
4. The truth is to be found nowhere else but in the catholic church, the sole depository of apostolical doctrine. Heresies are of recent formation, and cannot trace their origin up to the apostles, 264
5. Christ and His apostles, without any fraud, deception, or hypocrisy, preached that one God, the Father, was the Founder of all things. They did not accommodate their doctrine to the prepossessions of their hearers, 266
6. The Holy Ghost, throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, made mention of no other God or Lord, save Him who is the true God, 268
7. Reply to an objection founded on the words of St. Paul (2 Cor. iv. 5). St. Paul occasionally uses words not in their grammatical sequence, 273
8. Answer to an objection, arising from the words of Christ (Matt. vi. 24). God alone is to be really called God and Lord, for He is without beginning and end, 275
9. One and the same God, the Creator of heaven and earth, is He whom the prophets foretold, and who was declared by the gospel. Proof of this, at the outset, from St. Matthew's Gospel, 277
10. Proofs of the foregoing, drawn from the Gospels of Mark and Luke, 281
11. Proofs in continuation, extracted from St. John's Gospel. The Gospels are four in number, neither more nor less. Mystic reasons for this, 287
12. The doctrine of the rest of the apostles, 296
13. Refutation of the opinion, that Paul was the only apostle who had knowledge of the truth, 314
14. If Paul had known any mysteries unrevealed to the other apostles, Luke, his constant companion and fellow-traveller, could not have been ignorant of them; neither could the truth have possibly lain hid from him, through whom alone we learn many and most important particulars of the gospel history, 316
15. Refutation of the Ebionites, who disparaged the authority of St. Paul, from the writings of St. Luke, which must be received as a whole. Exposure of the hypocrisy deceit, and pride of the Gnostics. The apostles and their disciples knew and preached one God, the Creator of the world, 320
16. Proofs from the apostolic writings, that Jesus Christ was one and the same, the only begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man, 323
17. The apostles teach that it was neither Christ nor the Saviour, but the Holy Spirit, who did descend upon Jesus. The reason for this descent, 334
18. Continuation of the foregoing argument. Proofs from the writings of St. Paul, and from the words of our Lord, that Christ and Jesus cannot be considered as distinct beings; neither can it be alleged that the Son of God became man merely in appearance, but that He did so truly and actually, 337
19. Jesus Christ was not a mere man, begotten from Joseph in the ordinary course of nature, but was very God, begotten of the Father Most High, and very man, born of the Virgin, 344
20. God showed Himself, by the fall of man, as patient, benign, merciful, mighty to save. Man is therefore most ungrateful, if, unmindful of his own lot, and of the benefits held out to him, he do not acknowledge divine grace, 347
21. A vindication of the prophecy in Isaiah (vii. 14) against the misinterpretations of Theodotion, Aquila, the Ebionites, and the Jews. Authority of the Septuagint version. Arguments in proof that Christ was born of a virgin, 351
22. Christ assumed actual flesh, conceived and born of the Virgin, 359
23. Arguments in opposition to Tatian, showing that it was consonant to divine justice and mercy that the first Adam should first partake in that salvation offered to all by Christ, 362
24. Recapitulation of the various arguments adduced against Gnostic impiety under all its aspects. The heretics, tossed about by every blast of doctrine, are opposed by the uniform teaching of the church, which remains so always, and is consistent with itself, 369
25. This world is ruled by the providence of one God, who is both endowed with infinite justice to punish the wicked, and with infinite goodness to bless the pious, and impart to them salvation, 371
Preface, 375
1. The Lord acknowledged but one God and Father, 377
2. Proofs from the plain testimony of Moses, and of the other prophets, whose words are the words of Christ, that there is but one God, the Founder of the world, whom our Lord preached, and whom He called His Father, 378
3. Answer to the cavils of the Gnostics. We are not to suppose that the true God can be changed, or come to an end, because the heavens, which are His throne, and the earth. His footstool, shall pass away, 382
4. Answer to another objection, showing that the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the city of the great King, diminished nothing from the supreme majesty and power of God, for that this destruction was put in execution by the most wise counsel of the same God, 383
5. The author returns to his former argument, and shows that there was but one God announced by the law and prophets, whom Christ confesses as His Father, and who, through His Word, one living God with Him, made Himself known to men in both covenants, 386
6. Explanation of the words of Christ, "No man knoweth the Father, but the Son," etc.; which words the heretics misinterpret. Proof that, by the Father revealing the Son, and by the Son being revealed, the Father was never unknown, 389
7. Recapitulation of the foregoing argument, showing that Abraham, through the revelation of the Word, knew the Father, and the coming of the Son of God. For this cause, he rejoiced to see the day of Christ, when the promises made to him should be fulfilled. The fruit of this rejoicing has flowed to posterity, viz. to those who are partakers in the faith of Abraham, but not to the Jews who reject the Word of God, 394
8. Vain attempts of Marcion and his followers, who exclude Abraham from the salvation bestowed by Christ, who liberated not only Abraham, but the seed of Abraham, by fulfilling and not destroying the law when He healed on the Sabbath-day, 396
9. There is but one author, and one end to both covenants, 399
10. The Old Testament Scriptures, and those written by Moses in particular, do everywhere make mention of the Son of God, and foretell His advent and passion. From this fact it follows that they were inspired by one and the same God, 403
11. The old prophets and righteous men knew beforehand of the advent of Christ, and earnestly desired to see and hear Him, He revealing Himself in the Scriptures by the Holy Ghost, and without any change in Himself, enriching men day by day with benefits, but conferring them in greater abimdance on later than on former generations, 405
12. It clearly appears that there was but one author of both the old and the new law, from the fact that Christ condemned traditions and customs repugnant to the former, while He confirmed its most important precepts, and taught that He was Himself the end of the Mosaic law, 408
13. Christ did not abrogate the natural precepts of the law, but rather fulfilled and extended them. He removed the yoke and bondage of the old law, so that mankind, being now set free, might serve God with that trustful piety which becometh sons, 412
14. If God demands obedience from man, if He formed man, called him and placed him under laws, it was merely for man's welfare; not that God stood in need of man, but that He graciously conferred upon man His favours in every possible manner, 416
15. At first God deemed it sufficient to inscribe the natural law, or the Decalogue, upon the hearts of men; but afterwards He found it necessary to bridle with the yoke of the Mosaic law the desires of the Jews, who were abusing their liberty; and even after that, to add some special commands, because of the hardness of their hearts, 419
16. Perfect righteousness was conferred neither by circumcision nor by any other legal ceremonies. The Decalogue, however, was not cancelled by Christ, but is always in force: men were never released from its commandments, 421
17. Proof that God did not appoint the Levitical dispensation for His own sake, or as requiring such service; for He does, in fact, need nothing from men, 425
18. Concerning sacrifices and oblations, and those who truly offer them, 431
19. Earthly things may be the type of heavenly, but the latter cannot be the types of others still superior and unknown; nor can we, without absolute madness, maintain that God is known to us only as the type of a still unknown and superior being, 436
20. That one God formed all things in the world, by means of the Word and the Holy Spirit: and that although He is to us in this life invisible and incomprehensible, nevertheless He is not unknown; inasmuch as His works do declare Him, and His Word has shown that in many modes He may be seen and known, 439
21. Abraham's faith was identical with ours; this faith was prefigured by the words and actions of the old patriarchs, 451
22. Christ did not come for the sake of the men of one age only, but for all who, living righteously and piously, had believed upon Him; and for those, too, who shall believe, 453
23. The patriarchs and prophets, by pointing out the advent of Christ, fortified thereby, as it were, the way of posterity to the faith of Christ; and so the labours of the apostles were lessened, inasmuch as they gathered in the fruits of the labours of others, 455
24. The conversion of the Gentiles was more difficult than that of the Jews; the labours of those apostles, therefore, who engaged in the former task, were greater than those who undertook the latter, 457
25. Both covenants were prefigured in Abraham, and in the labour of Tamar; there was, however, but one and the same God to each covenant, 459
26. The treasure hid in the Scriptures is Christ; the true exposition of the Scriptures is to be found in the church alone, 461
27. The sins of the men of old time, which incurred the displeasure of God, were, by His providence, committed to writing, that we might derive instruction thereby, and not be filled with pride. We must not, therefore, infer that there was another God than He whom Christ preached; we should rather fear lest the one and the same God who inflicted punishment on the ancients should bring down heavier upon us, 465
28. Those persons prove themselves senseless who exaggerate the mercy of Christ, but are silent as to the judgment, and look only at the more abundant grace of the New Testament; but, forgetful of the greater degree of perfection which it demands from us, they endeavour to show that there is another God beyond Him who created the world, 471
29. Refutation of the arguments of the Marcionites, who attempted to show that God was the author of sin, because He blinded Pharaoh and his servants, 474
30. Refutation of another argument adduced by the Marcionites, that God directed the Hebrews to spoil the Egyptians, 475


The first two books of Irenæus "Against Heresies" have been translated by Dr. Roberts. The groundwork of the translation of the third book, and that portion of the fourth book which is contained in this volume, has been furnished by the Rev. W. H. Rambaut. An attempt has been made, in rendering this important author into English, to adhere as closely as possible to the original. It would have been far easier to give a loose and flowing translation of the obscure and involved sentences of Irenæus; but the object has been studiously kept in view, to place the English reader as much as possible in the position of one who has immediate access to the Greek or Latin text.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.