Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Anti-Marcion/Against Hermogenes/XL

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Chapter XL.—Shapeless Matter an Incongruous Origin for God’s Beautiful Cosmos. Hermogenes Does Not Mend His Argument by Supposing that Only a Portion of Matter Was Used in the Creation.

You say that Matter was reformed for the better[1]—from a worse condition, of course; and thus you would make the better a copy of the worse. Everything was in confusion, but now it is reduced to order; and would you also say, that out of order, disorder is produced? No one thing is the exact mirror[2] of another thing; that is to say, it is not its co-equal. Nobody ever found himself in a barber’s looking-glass look like an ass[3] instead of a man; unless it be he who supposes that unformed and shapeless Matter answers to Matter which is now arranged and beautified in the fabric of the world. What is there now that is without form in the world, what was there once that was formed[4] in Matter, that the world is the mirror of Matter? Since the world is known among the Greeks by a term denoting ornament,[5] how can it present the image of unadorned[6] Matter, in such a way that you can say the whole is known by its parts? To that whole will certainly belong even the portion which has not yet become formed; and you have already declared that the whole of Matter was not used as material in the creation.[7] It follows, then, that this rude, and confused, and unarranged portion cannot be recognized in the polished, and distinct and well-arranged parts of creation, which indeed can hardly with propriety be called parts of Matter, since they have quitted[8] its condition, by being separated from it in the transformation they have undergone.


  1. In melius reformatam.
  2. Speculum.
  3. Mulus.
  4. Speciatum: εἰδοποιηθέν, “arranged in specific forms.”
  5. Κόσμος.
  6. Inornatæ: unfurnished with forms of beauty.
  7. Non totam eam fabricatam.
  8. Recesserunt a forma ejus.