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Cosmas Indicopleustes, Christian Topography (1897) pp. 263-303.  Book 7



Concerning the Duration of the Heavens.1 [274]

I WILL not refuse, O most studious Athanasius, to comply with your request, that I should compose a discourse on heaven; but, for the sake of clearness, I shall first enquire whether divine scripture pronounces it to be indissoluble or dissoluble, for you have informed me that one of those who glory in being Christians, when wishing to speak against the Pagans, unconsciously agreed with them in their opinion, that heaven is a sphere which is always revolving; and yet that in the same work he proclaimed it to be dissoluble. I know not what induced him to make this assertion, and I could not but wonder that the wisdom of a man of so great learning should be blinded by his craving for distinction. For if, as a Christian, he had in view to refute the view of the Pagans, he ought first to have overthrown from the foundation their principles relating to the sphere and its revolution, just as we ourselves, by the will of God, have done in the other work, which as requested we composed. But if he admits their foundation and their principles, from which their demonstrations of eternal duration proceed, why does that wise man indulge to no |264 purpose in idle talk, basing his nonsense not on a rock, but upon the sand? For no man of common sense would assert that what is in perpetual motion is corruptible and dissoluble, or that what is corruptible and dissoluble is in perpetual motion, but would admit that what is in perpetual motion is, in virtue of such motion, incorruptible, but that what is not in motion and dissoluble, is beyond question corruptible, because, by ceasing to move, it is not in perpetual motion. How then does that man who is so very learned, while admitting that the heaven is in perpetual motion, though divine scripture judges otherwise, determine it to be dissoluble? For among the philosophers whether of old or late times who are the most celebrated among the pagans, and have been of opinion that the heaven is a sphere, has he found one affirming that it is dissoluble? It is the fact rather that all of them, proceeding on the illative method, have declared it to be indissoluble. This man, observe, invents new absurdities, and neither following the teaching of those outside the Church, nor submissively accepting the spiritual tradition of those within her pale, but ignorant both of the diversity of the doctrines of the Pagans, and of the pure and simple learning of those within the Church, has taken in hand to teach new doctrines without previous examination, and without taking into account that his own statements are in mutual conflict, and [275] without thinking of the questions to which they give rise; just as an inexperienced traveller, who has strayed from the highway, is cruelly pierced2 and torn by thorns and briars and the points of jagged rocks, on whichsoever side he turns; so this admirable man, being wounded when taking his way into the enemy's country, is easily overthrown. |265 

Wherefore, O Christ-loving! I deemed it sufficient that you, on reading our little treatise (for we must speak humbly of what we have done), namely, the Christian Topography of the whole world, should see how that in the first book we used arguments drawn from the natural world, against those, who, while seeming to be Christians, nevertheless supposed heaven to be a sphere----that in the second, we have exhibited the Christian theories concerning the figure and position of the whole world from divine scripture; that in the third we have shown how firm and sure, and how worthy of belief is divine scripture, and of what utility figures of the whole world are; that in the fourth we have given a summary recapitulation together with a drawing of the Tabernacle prepared by Moses, and shown also the harmony of the Prophets and Apostles; and that in the sixth we have treated of the size of the sun, and have thus brought our little work to its completion. Nevertheless I again, at the earnest desire and request of your Reverence, which, as has been said, I cannot disregard, will endeavour, agreeably to your command and to the best of my ability, to confute briefly from divine scripture those who hold that the heavens will perish, and, with the help of divine grace and your prayers, to prove their permanency. We shall state first, what forms of speech divine scripture employs when treating of heaven, and then shall show that it everywhere decides that the heavens are indissoluble.

Since the Old Testament was written for the Hebrews, it follows of necessity that it was written in the Hebrew tongue and in Hebrew characters. The Hebrew tongue then uses similarly the expressions, the heaven and the heavens, so that there is no difference between them, but the singular form is employed for the plural, and the plural for the singular, as when it says: Praise him, ye heavens of the heavens----instead of saying heaven of heaven----and |266 adds: And the water which is above the heavens3 ---- that is: this visible heaven ---- namely, the firmament ---- for the waters are above the firmament only, according to the sacred historian Moses. In like manner it says: The heavens declare, the glory of God, and the firmament showeth forth the work of his hands4 ---- here beginning with the plural number and ending with the singular ---- in order that by each form of expression it may indicate the same thing, that the very sight of the heaven, that is, of the firmament which we see, proclaims both the glory and the handiwork of God, through the order and magnificence which they display. In like manner again: The heaven of heaven to the Lord, but the earth hath he given to the sons of men,5 [276] here calling the first and higher heaven which is the heaven to this visible heaven, and which is placed above it ---- the heaven of heaven. In like manner again the great Moses says: Behold the heaven of the Lord thy God, and the heaven of heaven; as if he said: this heaven visible to us, and its heaven, that is, the heaven above it. Paul also uses this form of expression, exclaiming: But our citizenship is in the heavens, from which also we look for a Saviour,6 here beginning with the plural number but ending with the singular, for instead of saying from which in the plural, he says from which in the singular.7 For as two heavens were made by God, as the blessed Moses relates, and the two were bound together, sacred scripture speaks of them sometimes in the plural number and sometimes in the singular, in accordance, as has been said, with the idiom of the language, or even because the heavens at some of their parts are mutually conjoined and so become as one, as has been said.

Lest therefore you should be led into error when you |267 hear that the blessed Paul had been caught up into the third heaven, I must point out that there are not three or more heavens, and that he neither means to say this, nor contradicts Moses----but he means to say that he was caught up from the earth all the distance to the height of heaven except a third of it----as if he said: I was caught up from the earth so very far that there was left to me but a third of the distance to the height of heaven.8 Such being the case it is now time for us to remark that divine scripture all throughout proclaims that heaven or the heavens are indissoluble. The Apostle Paul, then, speaks to this effect: For we know that if the earthly house of our Tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, in the heavens,9 in order that he may show that the earthly state here shall be dissolved, but that the future state, which is also a heavenly, is indissoluble and eternal. And again he says: We have snch a high priest, who sat down on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true Tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man 10----as if he said: the Lord Christ had been taken up into the heavens, into the true Tabernacle, that is, one which is permanent and indissoluble. For the expression true indicates that it is indissoluble, since that which was prepared by Moses was dissolved; this one as being indissoluble, by way of distinction and in contrast with the other, he calls the true----as being permanent and firm and indissoluble. And again he says: But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect Tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own body, entered in once, for all into the holy place, having obtained |268 eternal redemption.11 What he means is something like this: Since God commanded Moses to make the Tabernacle in imitation of the whole world, and he made it, dividing it by the veil in the middle, thus converting the [277] one Tabernacle into two, an outer and an inner, thereby hinting, as it were, at this place, and at that which is above it----And into the first Tabernacle the priests always enter, accomplishing the services, but into the second, the high priest alone, and but once a year enters, not without blood, which he offers for himself and for the people.12

Wherefore the Apostle Paul says that Christ having come as high priest of the heavens, entered into the higher place with his own blood, just as the earthly high priest entered into the inner tabernacle with the blood of others; and just as the Tabernacle here is small and made with hands, and, as being but a type, is imperfect and dissoluble, so the heavenly is great, and not made with hands, and is steadfast and true and eternal and indissoluble, and in it is the eternal redemption. For the high priest being eternal, of necessity the salvation also and the Tabernacle are eternal, in accordance again with what is written: And they indeed are many priests, because that by death they are hindered from continuing: but he, because he abideth for ever, hath his priesthood unchangeable. Wherefore also, he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing that he always liveth to make intercession for them. For such a high priest became us, holy, guileless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.13 The expression higher than the heavens means, according to the idiom of the language, heaven; and, more clearly still, the expressions a)para&baton (unchangeable), and to_ me/nein ei0j to_n ai0w~na (the abiding for ever), and pa&ntote (always) indicate a state of things that |269 is indissoluble. For if the priest is unchangeable, the Tabernacle also, wherein he exercises his office, must of necessity be unchangeable, that is, exempt from succession. And elsewhere again he says: Wherefore we, receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken,14 as if he said, one that is abiding and immovable and indissoluble and not liable to succession. And again he says: Let us give diligence to enter into that rest;15 calling it a rest as not admitting of succession, and because when we are there, we shall not be transferred thence, but shall for ever rest in heaven itself. And again he says: Having therefore a great high priest who hath passed througli the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession 16----the expression who hath passed through the heavens, that is heaven, according to the idiom of the language, means that He is within the two heavens, as in a Tabernacle not made with hands. And again he says: Having therefore boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way;17 the entrance into the Holies made by the blood of Jesus, he calls His entrance into the heavens, which He made after his Passion and Resurrection, when He was taken up into heaven; which also he calls a new and living way, dedicated for us, because He himself first of all in a new and fresh manner trod that living and holy way, leaving us an example for us to follow. And [278] again he says: And every priest indeed standeth day by day ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, the which can never take away sins; but this man, when he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever set down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made the footstool of his feet. For by one offering he hath perfected them that are sanctified.18 If, as He says, he sits for ever at |270 the right hand of God after His Passion and Sacrifice, and for ever sanctifies those coming unto Him, how is it possible that heaven can be dissolved when He sits there for ever, and those coming unto Him are sanctified. And again he says: For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah, as to which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood;19 and again: For it is testified of him, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.20 Behold how in the clearest terms he speaks of Christ as a perpetual priest in virtue of His power and indissoluble life. How then is it possible for the Priest to be indissoluble whilst the Tabernacle, of which He is the minister, is subject to be dissolved? For he says: A minister of the sanctuary and of the true Tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man,21 thus here, as also in Heb. vi, 16, 17, and 20, and x, 34, expressly declaring it to be true and indissoluble.

See again, admirable Sir, how he speaks of that entrance into what is within the veil, that is, the firmament, into which Jesus entered, and into which we shall enter, that he declares it to be immovable and strong, and secure and steadfast, and abiding and eternal, and like an anchor holding us fast; and again he says: For we have here no abiding city, but we seek that which is to come,22 meaning: We seek that ever-abiding and eternal heavenly Jerusalem, which is free and the mother of all the faithful, for, the one which is here is, he says, in dissolution, according to that which hath been said [in I Cor. vii, 31, and Coloss. iii, 1]. I have told you, Paul there says, the things that are above where Christ is now seated; seek therefore the things that are there, not the things here. But that he calls the city prepared already, you may learn again from Paul [Heb. xi, 16] and [279] from Christ himself [Matt, xxv, 34]. And when |271 was the kingdom of which he there speaks prepared? From the foundation of the world, he tells us, as if he said, from the time at the beginning of the creation, along with the making of the heaven and the earth and the things produced along with them, the place of the kingdom of heaven was prepared, God having provided something better for us. For He says again further in the Gospel according to John: In my Father s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.23 He calls the habitation which is in the heavens, His Father's house. In this then, He says, is your habitation, which has been prepared for you by rny Father. Then again He says: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you unto myself that where I am there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.24 And again to the mother of James and John, who asked that the one of them should sit at His right hand and the other on the left in His kingdom, He answered, saying: It is not mine to give, but for whom it has been prepared by my Father.25 Those that are worthy, therefore, shall obtain these things before I bestow them whether on your sons or on others that are worthy. But the expression that where I am there ye may be also, shows very remarkably that that place is indissoluble, and has been aforetime prepared, and not that another place is substituted (as those wise men imagine), in which we are to dwell after the resurrection, when this place of the heavens shall have been dissolved. And to speak briefly, the passages in divine scripture are almost innumerable which show that the heaven, into which Christ has entered and into which we also shall enter, is indissoluble.

And these things the Lord proclaimed to his disciples; but the Apostle Paul wrote to such of the Hebrews |272 as believed in Christ, pointing out, as was suitable for them, the proper distinctions between all the things relating to the Tabernacle, both to the outer which has reference to this place, and to the inner which has reference to the upper and heavenly place. But to those from among the Pagans who believed, the Corinthians, I mean, men who cultivated learning and philosophy, and who already believed in the resurrection of Christ, but were in doubt concerning the resurrection of men in general, to them again he used the same arguments, and says: Now, if Christ is preached that he hath been raised from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead, neither hath Christ been raised? and if Christ hath not been raised, then is our preaching vain and your faith also is vain;26 as if he said: Your faith in Christ is of no use to you, unless our resurrection also is believed by [280] you. For if ye have believed of one that he was raised from the dead, how is it not to be believed that it is possible for all others besides to be raised? For he that can raise one can also raise all. Then he observes: Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ whom he raised not up, if so be the dead are not raised.27 But we, he says, who have testified unto you that God raised up Christ shall be found to be liars and impostors. And again he repeats this: For if the dead rise not, neither hath Christ risen, but if Christ hath not risen, your faith is vain-----ye are yet in your sins;28 from that which was confessed and believed in by them, he confutes them and says: for if He, concerning whom you have believed, when He was dead rose again, why do you doubt the resurrection of the other dead, so that you make it appear that you have believed in vain about the resurrection of but one. For he, who is able to |273 raise one of the dead, is able also to raise all the others that are dead. So that by not believing in the resurrection of the dead, you revert to your former superstition, and have fallen away, for this he means by saying: Ye are yet in your sins.29

Then a little after he states also the reason saying: For since by man came death, by man also came the resurrection.30 And by way of showing who the first man was by whom death was introduced, he adds; For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.31 Then shortly afterwards he says: Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead?32 If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for the dead? Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour?33 As if he said: Since we are baptized mystically for our dead bodies, being submerged in the holy water and emerging therefrom, thus imitating death and resurrection, from the hope and promise of the resurrection from the dead, why, he says, do we perform these acts in vain by not walking in accordance with them? And why, besides, do we stand in jeopardy every hour, proclaiming these things to so great a multitude, and fighting against the prejudices which prevail in the world? And further he endeavours again shortly afterwards by an antithesis34 and an example taken from the natural world to persuade them on the point and says: But some one will say, How are the dead |274 raised? and with what body do they come? To that he has, be sure, an answer: Thou fool! he says, that which thou sowest is not quickened, unless it die, and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain, it may chance of wheat or of some other kind; but God giveth it a body even as it hath pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own.35 What he says is this: Consider, O men, [281] that the bare grain when sown in the earth, in the first place undergoes dissolution, for if this, he says, first dies, it then grows up by the power and providence of God, and reappears richly endowed, artfully contrived and exceeding beautiful; instead of one grain, a great number, instead of being bare, enfolded in a sheath, instead of being easily plucked up and trodden underfoot, firmly rooted and aided by having ears to keep it safe from all that could do it harm. This very body then which has been corrupted and changed into earth, and again sprouts up from the earth multiplied and of an admirable beauty, is a work full of wisdom and art, and most fair to see----a product of the providence of God by whom all things were made.

Consider then that God gives it a body as it pleases Him, and gives to each of the seeds its own body, suitable for it; as if he said: When multiplying seeds God gives to each neither an alien nor a strange body, but a body similar and suitable to it. Then again, after having compared different kinds of flesh, and bodies earthly and heavenly, and shown that a great difference exists between them, he goes on to say: So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power,36 and so forth. Then again he says: But this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.37 Having |275 here recourse to arguments from analogies in the natural world, he endeavours to convince of this those conversant with the wisdom of the world, and from the example about grain turns to the resurrection of the dead, saying: Just as corn is sown and is dissolved, so also the bodies of men, when planted as corpses in the earth, are dissolved; and just as the grain sprouts up with large increase, stability and beauty, so also the bodies of men are raised up with great honour and glory and power and beauty unspeakable, being discriminated by the omnipotent wisdom and ineffable might of God, who made and who renovates all things. For whatever be the element by which the human body may be found to have been absorbed and digested, He will at the last day restore to their proper souls their own particles, shaken after a thorough search out of countless other bodies. And just as in a sieve that which is sought for is found in the sieve's centre, so also with respect to the bodies of men, after the elements have been tossed and shaken, their particles that are sought for are brought together to the centre. Nor is this a wonderful thing for God to do; for as He is judge of the hearts and thoughts and intents of men, and discerns, from the beginning of time till the final consummation, the thoughts and intents of every man at each particular time, so He is able to do what is easier, namely, to discriminate one body from another: For, saith He, yet once more I shake not the earth only, but [282] also the heaven.38 And this word "once more" signifieth the. removing of those things that are shaken as of things that have been made, that those things that are not shaken may remain;39 as if He said: In the consummation I will shake yet once more all things, and throw them into commotion, in order that all things may be changed back into their proper state. For as these things have been made from |276 the beginning, and have undergone corruption or change, I shall easily remodel everything into its proper nature, that they may thereafter remain in a better state and be no longer subjected to commotion and shaking.

But again some one will ask, how are our bodies raised the same, after having been already absorbed and changed into myriads of other bodies? To this we shall reply that just as when we are children we eat many kinds of flesh, of oxen and swine, for instance, and various others, also of fowl and fish, and these, when digested add to the size of our body without its being changed or transmuted from one thing into another, but still maintaining its identity, so also in the resurrection, when we are in the opposite state, and our bodies have been dissolved in the elements, you will see their forms by some kind of motion easily restored when separated by the divine power. For just as while we are living, our bodies, as God hath appointed, are not changed by their association with other bodies, so also when we die they are preserved from a transmutation into anything else, being readily kept distinct by His power. And again, admirable Sir, see how the Apostle speaks of heavenly and of earthly men: And as we have borne, he says, the image of the earthly, that is, the mortality and infirmity and corruption of Adam, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly,40 that is, of Him who hath already gone before and ascended into heaven after the resurrection from the dead. I speak of Christ according to the flesh, who has become powerful and incorruptible and immortal and glorified, and we in like manner have, with Him, become heavenly. And after having said we have borne, well does he say, as if speaking next of the future, we shall bear; wherefore he again with joy and exultation adds: But when this corruptible shall |277 have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swall owed up in Victory. Where, O Death, is thy sting?41 As if he said: Death being swallowed up shall disappear, life in us having become more than victorious. Wherefore let us exclaim: Where, O Death, is thy overweening pride? And where, O Hades, thy strength? Finally, he ascribes to God all things that have been procured and dispensed through Christ and says: Thanks be unto God who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ; as if he said: This victory over death accomplished by Jesus Christ hath He given unto [283] us, He who is the God of all, to whom it becomes us to give glory and thanks for ever, Amen! And he wrote nothing to the Corinthians different from what he had written to the believers among the Jews: that we pass from this perishable state into that which is to come, that is, into the heavenly place, which he calls the kingdom of heaven, as if we had sovereign power over our passions 42 and corruption and death, and lived in a place most choice, eternal, and adapted to our nature, and where after being transformed from corruption to incorruption we have our heritage.

For the Apostle, as already quoted, has signified this in the example of the grain of wheat, wherein he uses the example of what is corruptible towards the illustration of incorruption, saying: Do not think that, in examples, the things compared are in all points similar, for, this I say unto you, that it is impossible for us being mortal and mutable (for it is this he means by blood and flesh), to inherit the kingdom of heaven, unless we first rise from the dead incorruptible and immortal and immutable. Yea, the |278 Lord also used the same example when some of the Greeks requested Philip to show them Jesus, and Philip told the Lord their request, who answered saying: Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone, but if it die, it beareth much fruit;43 as if he said: Why do they wish to see me now, when I am despicable in appearance and alone, like a grain of wheat; for except I die like a grain, and rise up like the wheat in ear and in the fulness of its bloom, having become incorruptible and immortal and immutable, and except mighty deeds and wonders shall be wrought in My name, they will not know My power and glory. In like manner also when John the Baptist was discoursing concerning the Lord, and was eager to show that in the future state He would be Judge of all, he also used the example about wheat and spake thus: Whose fan is in his hand and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing-floor; and he will gather the wheat into his garner, but the chaff he will burn up with unquench-able fire.44 And when Paul was addressing the Greeks [284] themselves in Athens on the Areopagus [Acts xvii, 22-31], he said nothing to his hearers other than what he had said before to such of the Jews and the Pagans as believed, namely, that God, since He is uncircumscribed and omnipotent, will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He raised from the dead, in order to give assurance unto all men, having appointed Him Judge of all.

The Apostle in like manner said concerning Him: And he made him sit at his right hand;45 and John the Baptist in like manner said: His fan is in his hand and he will sift the wheat from the chaff,2 giving over sinners to punishment when separated like chaff from the wheat. Accordingly some of them believed, as has been recorded, but some hearing of the resurrection of the dead mocked, and some |279 again said: What does this picker-up of seeds 46 mean to say? as if they said: he is digging up the seeds we sowed; while others said: We will hear thee again about this matter, and others again: He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods, because, says Luke, he preached Jesus and the resurrection; and others again: May we know what is this new doctrine which thou teachest? In short, most of them derided Paul when discoursing about the resurrection of the dead. But when Paul was further accused by the Jews before Festus the Governor, and Agrippa the King, and stood on the tribunal, Festus, by way of explaining the nature of what had already been done in the case, said to Agrippa: They have certain questions against each other of their own religion, and of one Jesus who was dead whom Paul affirmed 47 to be alive.48 Then Paul having received their permission to speak, in accents clear and loud, boldly entered on his defence [for which see Acts xxvi, 6-S and 21-23]. And in like terms again he [285] addressed the unbelieving Jews in Antioch of Pisidia, when he had been granted permission to speak [see Acts xiii, 16-41]. And having expounded things similar [286] to these from the prophets, he said to them nothing else than what he had spoken of before, death, resurrection and the kingdom of heaven, being eager to persuade all men, God assisting him with signs and wonders and mighty works, which both Paul and all the Apostles wrought in presence both of the Pagans and the Jews, whether they were believers or unbelievers. God further, |280 by prophecies and their fulfilment, confirmed them in all things which transcend this world. At the same time also He made them, as Paul writes, sufficient as ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth but the spirit giveth life;49 as if he said: We have been made sufficient by God by means of signs and of the Holy Spirit, while teaching such things, to persuade those who hear us; for God hath appointed us ministers of the new and life-giving covenant, not of the old letter, that is, of the written law which threatens death, but of the life-giving power, that is, of the Holy Spirit. Wherefore, again he says: Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will; and I will know not the word of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power;50 as if he said that the word of the kingdom of heaven surpasses all words, and that some are in vain puffed up while endeavouring to establish themselves by word. For that word only, which comes from the power of the Holy Spirit and from the signs which accompany it, merits belief.

And again he says: Seeing that ye seek a proof of Christ that speaketh in me; who to youward is not weak, but is powerful in you;51 as if he said: It is powerful from the signs that are wrought in you in His name----and so much on these points. Some, however, assert that the angels are not in the world, but that they are in the higher place above, against whom in turn we shall quote a few words from divine scripture, showing that the angels spend their time along with us in our place here, and that as yet not one of them has been privileged to obtain the things above. The Lord, then, first thus addresses Nicodemus: And no one hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended |281 out of heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven 52----thus very clearly showing that no one at all had ascended into the upper place except the Lord Christ Himself. Then the Apostle Paul says: We have been made a spectacle to the world, and to show whom he means by the world, he adds: to angels and men, as if he said: We are seen by all as in a theatre in this place, and by all I mean angels and men, as both these and those are in. one place. Then again he says: For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God;53 and, as if some one was uncertain as to his meaning and asked him: For the sake [287] of what or by doing what, does the creation await this? he proceeds and says: because the creation was subjected to vanity not willingly; as if he said: in this corruptible and mutable world. For this he calls vanity----when creatures by the command of God were ordered to serve even against their will. Whence we learn by the expression not willingly that he is speaking of rational beings, and this is the law laid down for them. Should some one, he then says, put the question, And how again shall they serve, they who now move all things? They do serve, he replies, but as far as concerns the sin of Adam through which he was condemned to death, they could not endure to serve longer and toil in vain on our behalf. But I say this, he adds, on account of him who hath subjected them in hope, this namely, that God has given them a hope that some good will result to men in the course of time, and for this reason they were subjected, and do render service in expectation of their freedom, when men also are freed from death and corruption and these vanities, and shall receive the hope of God, and the glory which is reserved for them. Accordingly he adds: Because the creation itself shall be delivered from bondage, into the liberty of the glory |282 of the sons of God 54----and again he says elsewhere: Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation? 55 saying here, that all of them together have been ordained for service to men, as living with them in this place. And again he says: To the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom of God.56 Clearly has he again signified that they are not only here, but he also says that they had been taught by those things which had been dispensed to man. For by using the expression through the Church, he evidently signified through men.

Then again in the Old Testament, the Patriarch Jacob saw a ladder which reached from the earth up to heaven. And at the top of it he saw God standing, and the angels ascending and descending on it. He shows them at first ascending and then descending. Then again this same Patriarch saw a multitude of angels and called them an embattled host.57 In like manner Moses had recorded that only two heavens were made, namely, the first which in the beginning was made along with the earth, and the second which was made on the second day, and which he calls the firmament. He likewise frequently speaks of angels as in this place of ours, ministering among others to Hagar and to Abraham and to Lot and to Jacob himself. And in the great song58 he says: Rejoice, O ye heavens, with him, and let all the angels of God adore him; here, after the heavens, speaking of the angels as being in this place of ours; whence he added: Rejoice, ye nations with his people; here again referring to those who are in this place. In like manner also David, having the same object in view as |283 Moses, and having himself become a prophet after Moses, thus speaks, discriminating between the things that are in [288] heaven and the things that are on the earth: Praise ye the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights. Praise ye him, all his angels; praise ye him, all his host;59 here properly beginning with the firmament and the place on high, and then proceeding to the place below, he speaks next of the angels, calling them at the same time God's host. Lastly again he mentions the things that are with them: Praise ye him, sun and moon, praise him, all ye stars of light.60 From this he recurs to the upper place, and says: Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, instead of saying, heaven of heaven, calling the first heaven the heaven of heaven, since it is the heaven of the visible firmament. Then he says: and the water which is above the heavens; that is above the heaven. Having now spoken clearly of the things above, he evidently recognizes the first mentioned things as below.

Then when he had called upon all things that are in the heavens to praise God, he states the reason why they ought to praise him with hymns, and says: For he spake and they were made; he commanded and they were created. He hath also established them for ever and ever; he hath made a decree which shall not pass away.61 Then finally he passes on to all things on the earth, and mentions all things that live in the air and in the waters and upon the land, whereon also he places man, and again enjoins them thus: Let them praise the name of the Lord, and tells them for why: Because his name alone is exalted. At last he takes them all conjointly saying: The confession of him as above earth and heaven;62 thus at the same time showing that all things are within earth and heaven. In like manner also God Himself, |284 speaking through Moses, says: For in six days God made the heaven and the earth and all things that are therein; 63 thus still more clearly showing that all the angels are within heaven and earth and are circumscribed by them. Then again David elsewhere says: Who stretcheth out the heaven like a curtain, who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters;64 here manifestly speaking of the firmament which has the waters on its surface, as serving us for a covering. For the coverings overhead of a tent are properly called screens (de/r0r9eij) whether they be made of canvas or of hair. Then in continuation he says: Who maketh the clouds his chariot, who walketh upon the wings of the winds, who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.65 Having here again mentioned things from the firmament above to the clouds and winds below, he adds as being among these, angels, whom he also calls ministers. So far David. And now let us pass on to Daniel that Prophet most nobly endowed. What saith he in the hymn which he puts into the mouth of the three children. Bless ye the Lord, all ye works of the Lord, praise him and exalt him on high for ever. Praise the Lord, O ye heavens.66 He also mentions the angels after the heavens, not leaving unnoticed the waters which are above the heaven; and----employing again the consecutive order, he resumes his theme, and proceeding from the lowest, he mentions next after them [289] the angels, whom he calls powers, and with whom he conjoins the sun, moon and stars, showers, dews and winds, fire and frost and heat, clouds and snows and lightnings, and all things that are in the air and the waters and the earth----and, following David and Moses, he at last mentions man, on whose account all the things before enumerated were created. For since man is a kind of bond and pledge of the union in |285 love of the whole world, man of necessity includes to a certain degree all the things already said. For it has well been said by the pagans: Man is a microcosm.

Accordingly all the inspired men----Prophets and Apostles, men who have been adorned by most holy lives, and have exposed themselves for their religion to countless sufferings and deaths, of whom, as it is written, the world was not worthy,67 and who wrought miracles without number and beyond the power of description, and performed a variety of mighty deeds, and were by God made fit to teach and persuade and visit all the earth under heaven,68 and to draw all the nations to religion and piety----these men have spoken concerning two such states without mention of any others. And all of them with one consent have spoken of this place as that of angels and men, and have declared that the place on high will, after the resurrection, be likewise the place of angels and men. What kind of a defence then have those pretended Christians for their disbelieving all these things, and saying that the heavens shall be dissolved, on which hangs our firm, immovable and indissoluble hope, which is laid up in store for us by God, and concerning which Paul exclaims: Which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what things God hath prepared for them that love him;69 and again: The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to usward.70 Again in like manner: For our light affliction which is for the moment worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory, while we look, not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, |286 but the things which are not seen are eternal.71 By this he means that if you weigh in the balance against the afflictions of this world the good things of the future state, these will be found to surpass in glory and to outweigh beyond measure the lightness and insignificance of the afflictions of this world, which in comparison are of exceeding brief duration, and which at last utterly disappear. For, he says, the things which are seen, that is, the things of this world, are temporary, but the things which are not seen, that is, of the heavenly place or world on high, are eternal. Now we must turn to the Epistles General and adduce their testimony on this subject. And [290] there it is said: Into which things the angels desire to look;72 as if he said: They also have not yet obtained the good things laid up for us in heaven----yea, they have not so much as the privilege of seeing them. For this is similar to what the Apostle says: For the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now;73 as if he said, even the angels are heavily burdened by the change, and groan along with all creation, eagerly longing for liberty. How then is it possible to expect that the heavens will be dissolved, and other new heavens be produced? For, were it so, all that has been said before is shown to be false, namely, that they have been prepared and are indissoluble, and that we shall enter the place whereinto Christ hath entered. According, however, to the fables of the pretended Christians, all is imposture and deception that is written in divine scripture. But above all, if the heavens be dissolved, as they say, and others be put in their place, then Christ who is in them must of necessity be dissolved, and another new Christ must be introduced along with the other new heavens, provided of course that we are to be with the Christ. But away with this trifling! and let the |287 blasphemy recoil on their head. For saith the Apostle: Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we expect the Saviour the Lord Jesus;74 as if he said: I speak of those heavens from which we expect the Lord will come, who will transform us from corruption to incorruption, and take us up where He himself has entered before us. For this also he says elsewhere: The forerunner himself hath for us entered.75

Since, therefore, some corrupting the meaning of the divine scriptures have misinterpreted the saying of our Lord, namely: The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away,76 failing to recognize that the mode of expression is hyperbolical, we shall interpret what their meaning properly is; for he says: It is possible for them to be dissolved, but for my words, never. And again it was said by David: Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands; they shall perish, but thou shalt remain.77 This they distort, not understanding that here also in contrast to the uncreated deity he speaks of created things as perishable, because these things, having been previously non-existent, afterwards came into being; and if he wished the annihilation of existence, then, just as he produced these things when non-existent, so now that they exist, he is able to destroy them. For that which has not been made by any one cannot be destroyed by any one; but that which has been made can also be destroyed, especially if its Maker should so wish. Something similar is asserted in the Epistles General: In which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.78 But in their ignorance they misinterpret the new heaven and the new earth as well |288 as His promises, through their not understanding what is said, but they actually assert that these heavens shall be [291] dissolved, and other new heavens be created----a view which is opposed to all divine scripture. For if these heavens, into which Christ after He had risen from the dead, and having become incorruptible in body and immutable in soul has now ascended, and into which we also shall enter when we have risen from the dead; and if divine scripture pronounces this hope and this life to be indissoluble, how is it possible that these heavens can be dissolved and other new heavens be produced? For if the place in the heavens is the habitation of those who are now incorruptible and immortal and immutable, how shall it not receive us when we have risen and become incorruptible and immortal and immutable? Away with such madness! For God does not repent of what He hath done, so that He should destroy these and produce others. He will, however, renew the whole creation to better its condition, as we have frequently said. For if man, who is the bond of the whole creation, shall be renewed, becoming incorruptible and immortal in body, and immutable in soul, is it not evident that all the elements of which the body of man is composed, and all rational beings, as being akin to the soul of man, shall be renewed and brought into a better state? For all things, saith the Apostle, are summed up in Christ, both the things that are in the heavens and the things that are on the earth. And again, he says: If any one be in Christ he is a new creature----old things are passed away, behold! all things are become new;79 here speaking of all things as new, or of the renovation of all existing things; for, when he speaks of the summing up and the new creation, he signifies by each the same thing, that each is effected in Christ. For just as Christ according to the flesh, when |289 risen from the dead was not a different Christ from the Christ who had died, but was the same who had suffered death, yet in like manner as He was victorious in His resurrection over sufferings and death, so also the whole creation, while not perishing but retaining its identity, is changed into a better condition. For, as the divine oracle says, He hath established them for ever and ever; He hath made a decree which shall not pass away.80 Wherefore God takes not hold of angels, but of the seed of Abraham, according to what is written. For had He taken hold of the angels, rational beings only, as being of a kindred nature, could have hoped to be renovated. But now having taken hold of the seed of Abraham, that is, of a body and a rational soul, and conducted it into the heavenly place, He laid the foundation beforehand of a hope for all creation. Whence the declaration in the Epistles General: In which the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt in fervent heat but [we look for] new heavens and the new earth,81 has this as its purport, that with a great noise, as in the twinkling of an eye, all the elements, being on fire as in a furnace and being thus purified, undergo the change for the better. [292] And as regards the heavens and the earth----these shall be made new and the conditions of life in them shall be changed in accordance with the saying of Paul: The fashion of this world passeth away;82 as if he said: the present order of things shall be changed, the succession of day and night shall cease, the stars shall no longer accomplish their courses and the air shall no longer be in motion, and neither the water nor the earth shall any more produce their harvests, but a new state of things shall be introduced suitable for immortal and incorruptible men and angels. |290 

But we say nothing of the fact that the Church from the first has held the Catholic Epistles to be doubtful. No one certainly of those who have commented on the divine scriptures has taken any account of these Epistles. Nay, even those, who have drawn up the list of the canonical books of divine scripture, have all of them placed them in the doubtful category. I refer to Irenaeus the Bishop of Lyons, a man of eminence and of illustrious life, and who flourished not long after the Apostolic age,83 and to Eusebius Pamphili,84 and to Athanasius the Bishop of Alexandria,85 and to Amphilochius who became Bishop of Iconium and was the friend of, and in communion with,86 the blessed Basil, and who in the iambic verses which he addressed to Seleucus declared the Epistles |291 to be doubtful.87 In like manner Severianus also, the Bishop of Gabala, proscribed them in his work Against the Jews.88 In fact most of the authorities deny that these Epistles were written by the Apostles, but assign them to some other authors----simple Presbyters. Hence Eusebius Pamphili in his Ecclesiastical History 89 informs us that there were two tombs in Ephesus----one of John the Evangelist, the other of John the Presbyter who wrote two of the Epistles General [of John]----the second and the third, of which the former is inscribed thus: The Elder to the Elect Lady, and the latter thus: The Elder to Gaius the beloved. For he, as well as Irenaeus, says, that with the exception of the first Epistle of Peter and the first of John, the Epistles General were not written by the Apostles, while others say that they were all written by Presbyters, and not by the Apostles. For the first and second and third of John are so written that it is evident that the three are the productions of a single person. But others receive also the Epistle of James along with these two (I John and I Peter) while others receive them all. |292 Among the Syrians, however, none are found except only the three already mentioned, namely, the Epistle of James and that of Peter and that of John----while the others do not even find a place among them. The perfect Christian ought not therefore to depend upon books that are doubtful, seeing that those which have been admitted into the Canon, and which are commonly acknowledged 90 suffice to declare everything concerning both the heavens and the earth and the elements and the whole scheme of Christian doctrine.

Those accordingly seem to me to be wanting in sense and to have no inner knowledge at all of the divine scriptures----those inventors of the new doctrines, who think that the heavens will be dissolved. For since God from the very beginning has knowledge and fore-knowledge, [293] and is always cognisant, and never receives any accession to His knowledge, and whereas He wished to give to others a share in existence, and to fill them with his own goodness and knowledge and wisdom, He made the whole world, comprising it within the compass of heaven and earth, but placing the firmament in the midst, and binding it to the first heaven; and when He had made the one place into two places, He allotted to the mortal and mutable state, this place, while He prepared beforehand the upper place for the future state, according as the delineation of its figure at the end of my work shows, as well as the structure of the Tabernacle, which was itself an image of the whole world. And it was His pleasure that we should for the present live in this state as in a useful school, where there are pains and pleasures, in order that we may be disciplined by the pains, and may be kept from fainting by the pleasures, being instructed in the knowledge of the |293 Maker and attracted to it by the diversity of the things created, and the all-wise harmony, and the difference between beings; while the Maker himself, who has at times been seen, has given us laws in aid of our weakness, inducing rational beings, as has been said, to seek the knowledge of His supreme loving-kindness and goodness, which is the chief end of all such beings. For since we are created beings, and have our being from another, we always need that other for the continuance of our existence and the acquisition of knowledge. For it could not be that, as soon as we were made, we could possess all knowledge, for this is an attribute which belongs only to God who is unoriginated.

Since then God in His goodness has, for mysterious reasons, made the lower animals devoid of knowledge, for the instruction and assistance of ourselves who are rational, He has made, as was possible, the rational to be intermediate between himself and the irrational, in order that by the variety in the universe, and by the laws imposed upon us and by the pursuit of knowledge, we may, through a longing produced by our experience of pains and pleasures, be induced to seek part by part a knowledge of the world. For the invisible things of him, saith the divine Apostle, are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and godhead; so that they may be without excuse;91 as if he said: The invisible things of God, namely, His power and wisdom and providence and goodness and His eternal godhead, we apprehend and see from things existent and visible, and through all His works we, in our measure, perceive the Creator, so that we cannot offer any excuse of ignorance (for this is what without excuse signifies) since we have it in our own hands to know from all these things in |294 our measure the Creator of ourselves and of the universe. In like manner again he says: God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in His Son,92 thus distributing the word into portions and manners, into the prophets and His Son. By portions, [294] he means the difference of the places in which God appeared and spake to the men of old through the prophets, and by manners, the diversity of the visions themselves, which He, when seen at one time and another in cases of immediate necessity, exhibited either in person or through the Prophets, having a desire to signify this, that God in every way, both by real things and by visions, did not neglect to instruct rational beings in the knowledge of Himself, placing it before them at one time through the prophets, and now through His own Son; then for them, when they had at last been proved, He prepared the future state, in which, after having made us incorruptible and immortal, He would place us, filling us, as having acquired experience, with the perfect knowledge of Himself as far as we ought to know. For this reason He has made two states from the very beginning, since we could not, as has been said before, receive the whole knowledge of Him in one collective mass without a process of instruction. For the Deity only is self-taught, and is the foundation of knowledge, receiving no accession to it from any other, but able to impart it to others, while we are again taught when we are immortal and immutable, by the hardships we have undergone. Since the Apostle says: All discipline, seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous;93 for without discipline and suffering it is impossible there can be learning. For the purpose of discipline therefore, He made this |295 world mortal and mutable and diversified, in order that by the affliction of learning and the variety of the universe, we may, by this experience, ascend to the knowledge of God. For if He had made us from the beginning immortal and immutable, we would have differed nothing from the non-rational animals which have by nature something good and useful, though without their knowing what they possess----just as the bee which with wisdom constructs its honeycomb, and the spider which with great skill weaves its network, and the ant which in summer prepares its store of food, do not do these things with any rational knowledge, but are as unconscious of their art as gold and pearl are of the beauty which adorns them.

God therefore with wisdom----yea, with supreme wisdom ----made from the first two states, in order that having had experience here of pleasure and pain we may in the second state have perfect knowledge of the power of His goodness, through the unspeakable and everlasting good things bestowed upon us, and may recognize from what things into what things we have passed. These and similar things the whole of divine Scripture proclaims, and this is its whole scope. For those admirable men, who destroy the heavens and produce others for us that are new, are ignorant of the scope of the divine scriptures. For it is not to be imagined that God was at one time ignorant, but has now come to know better, how to make other heavens and a better state, according to the fable of these demented and pretended Christians; but He is always the same, existing after the same manner and principle, knowing how and when and how great, and where [295] and what like He would make the whole world. But nevertheless they propose to us, quite reasonably of course, the difficulty which emerges from this, asking us: Why then do embryons which have died in the womb advance to the knowledge of God without having had experience |296 of pleasures and pains, but have been taught at a distance from hence concerning God?----to whom we shall reply that the embryon which is rational, having been in close touch, so to speak, with the maternal womb, and the maternal womb being in a dim sort of way a symbol of this world in which are heat and cold and dryness and moisture, the embryon when gathering knowledge in the future state, has a remembrance, and an awakened consciousness of the maternal womb, in which it had some partial experience of this present world. It sees moreover even the elements themselves and the whole world standing as its teacher; and reflecting with itself in virtue of the perfect knowledge, it arrives straightway at a knowledge of its past life, and thereafter at the knowledge of God as the Maker of all things. But as concerns the judgment to be pronounced on them, we leave that to God himself, for it is not possible for us to know all things in this life. We say only, and this is all it behoves us to say, that they form an intermediate class, neither destined to receive crowns, nor to undergo punishments, for they are exempted from punishments, because they have not enjoyed the good things of this life, but they fail to obtain crowns, as they have not undergone toils in this life.

But if any one should say that God will judge them according to what he knows would have been their manner of life and conduct had they survived, we do not reject this notion, but leave it to those who know better than ourselves. For we have no perfect knowledge how God judges, deeming that whatever seems good to Him will be altogether fair and wise, acknowledging with the utmost pleasure that the matter is beyond us, and even pluming ourselves on94 our ignorance regarding it, in accordance with the great Apostle |297 Paul when he says: For we know in part and prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away;95 for we shall then know perfectly, as we ought to know, when we have all risen from the dead perfect, as the Apostle again says: Till we all attain unto the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.96 But they will yet again question us on this point: How does one who is diminutive in body rise perfect? And how can the maimed and the lame or he that is mutilated in one of his limbs rise up sound and quite perfect? Let them listen to us replying from scripture and from what is seen in Nature thus: Just as God took Adam's rib, a very small member of his body, and constructed out of it a perfect woman, mysteriously [296] supplying what was deficient; and just as a man and woman copulate, of whom one or the other is, as is often the case, blind or maimed, and their offspring is born sound and entire, so it is to be believed and understood with respect to the resurrection of the dead, in which we are born anew from the tomb into a better birth than from the womb. But I will delineate for thee, O most beloved, the figure of the heaven and the earth, and of the firmament in the middle----also the Tabernacle prepared by Moses which is a pattern of the universe, and also that famous sphere of the pagans,97 in order that you may know by the sight itself agreeably to the figure, what divine scripture and the Christian teaching alike declare, and how altogether different therefrom is the sphere of the pagans. |298 

Notes from divine scripture in mutual harmony concerning the figure of heaven and earth.

In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth.98 He speaks of these as comprehending other things, and at the same time time signified the things that are within them and which were produced along with them. And again: The heaven and the earth were finished and all the host of them,99 as if again they comprehended other things, and the whole host of things were within them. And again: In six days God made the heaven and the earth and all that in them is,100 as if again all things exist within them, and they were comprehensive of them. And again: And God rested on the seventh day from all the work which he began to make;101 meaning that He began to create and ceased from creating; and again: This is the book of the generation of heaven and earth;102 meaning, this book records the coming into being of the whole world which is circumscribed by heaven and earth. And again about its figure Isaiah says: He that hath established the heaven as a vaulted chamber and stretched it out as a tent to dwell in;103 the expression as a vaulted chamber has reference to the first heaven, but the other expression stretched it out as a tent, to the second heaven, which he speaks of as a house where people live and make their abode. And again David says: Stretching out the heaven as a curtain,104 speaking here of the firmament and speaking of it as a curtain, that is, as the coverings which made the roof over the Tabernacle, whatever these coverings were, whether made of hair or of canvas for the coverings above which roofed the Tabernacle are properly called de/r0r9eij (leather curtains). He no doubt says: Who layeth the beams of his upper chambers in the waters:105 here more clearly speaking concerning the firmament itself as if it were a covering. But that there is nothing under the earth, is thus declared in Job: He hangeth the earth upon nothing,106 meaning that there is nothing underneath it. In like manner again in Job: Whereupon were the foundations thereof fastened?107 meaning that |299 there is nothing underneath on which it is fixed. And David says: He hath founded the earth upon its own stability;108 as if he said [297] that it has been founded upon itself and not upon anything. But with regard to the heaven being fastened to the earth he declares in Job: He hath inclined heaven to earth; dust is poured out as earth,109 but I have cemented it as if with stone a square block; 110 intimating that the heaven is inclined to the earth and at its lower part fastened to it like a cube, that is, at the four corners.

The Tabernacle, as a whole, is therefore a pattern of the whole world, as the divine Apostle explains to us----speaking in these terms of the outer Tabernacle: For the first Tabernacle had ordinances of divine service, and its sanctuary, a sanctuary of this world;111 calling it of this world as being a pattern of this world; but with regard to the inner tabernacle he speaks thus: For Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands like in pattern to the true, but into heaven itself;112 calling heaven the true holy place, and the inner tabernacle its antitype. Let the reader then consider the figure of the heaven and of the earth and their model ----i.e., the Tabernacle----how, to wit, that all are in harmony with the Christian doctrine----that there are two paths 113 of the whole world----this here and the upper, prepared from the foundation of the world. This here has been given in the present state to men and angels, and the upper is given, in the future state after the resurrection from the dead, to men and angels. For the famous sphere of the pagans does not harmonize at all with what Christian doctrine proclaims; but is adapted rather for those who hope neither for a resurrection of the dead nor for another state after it, but assert that the whole world is in an endless process of generation and corruption.

Another Note.

If those teachers of error say that the Lord Christ entered into the first sphere where the moon is, it is, in the first place, in beautiful agreement with their error, that they should admit that |300 He abides with their goddess. In the second place, since their sphere is solid, let them tell us whether, along with the moon, He cleaves His way, like a fish in the water, through the body of heaven, going in the opposite direction to that which it pursues, or whether, along with the universe, He is violently whirled round in its direction----which is all the most ridiculous nonsense. In the third place, it is in agreement with your error, that above Him are the other planets which are gods of yours, namely, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the father of your gods----gods to whom ye have been seen offering sacrifice----then also those fixed houses of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and the six-and-thirty decani.114 And how shall the Apostle not lie, according to you, when he says that Christ is above these: Far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named.115 But if they shall say that He is in the second [298] sphere, they will be confronted again with the same difficulties, and so will they be if they say that He who is above all is in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth116 and what is said by the Apostle will be found false, that from the first tabernacle, that is, from this world, Christ entered into the second, that is, into the heavenly place, having obtained eternal redemption----the second, observe, and not the ninth. He therefore, who sincerely desires to be a Christian, follows divine scripture and puts no reliance on the fallacious theory of the pagans which teaches the plurality and the equality of gods, and brings destruction on the souls of men.


Since therefore all the spheres lie in a continuous series and are solid, how is it possible to conceive that in such a configuration there can be a resurrection of the dead, and that men can ascend into heaven, and reign in heaven, that is, in the second Tabernacle, whereinto Christ also, |301 saith scripture, hath already entered the first of all? to which add all that has been said before. For the pagans who think that there is a sphere, in consequence neither acknowledge a resurrection of the dead, nor say that the dead ascend into heaven, nor admit that there are waters above the heaven, nor admit that the fashion of this world, that is, the revolution of the heavenly bodies, will be changed and all things one after another, nor that any one at all has ever ascended into heaven with his body, or will go up thither. Some of them, however, say that their souls and these only move round with the sphere, and sec or know all things,117 while others maintain that souls migrate into other bodies, and others again believe in the pre-existence of the soul, and these consequently say that the sphere will be dissolved----that is, that every corporeal nature will be utterly destroyed, while the souls will revert to their original condition----an opinion held also by the admirable Origenes118 and his disciples. Others again maintain that the heavens had no beginning and will never have an end----and that the world is continually undergoing renovation and destruction; from which it is inferred that they speak of God as delighting in evil, or as powerless or jealous, nay, think that there is no god at all. For it is repugnant to the divine nature to permit the world to be constantly subject to renovation and destruction----and hosts of other difficulties besides, that their views involve, start up for all these. The Christians then alone are |302 perfect, being like wheat-plants of piety in the midst of tares and thorns----believing as they do in the whole of divine scripture, both in the Old and New Testament----and neither saying that there had been any state before this present state, nor asserting that after the future state there will be any other; but that there are only two states, which our delineation in conformity therewith shows, that we shall be transferred from this state to that which is [299] future and heavenly; and again, that we shall live with the Lord, as the whole of divine scripture argues----namely, that when God began to create and had made the two places, He rested from his work according to His purpose from the very first. Things very different from these, most excellent Sir, did that person write, whom you mentioned, a pretended Christian, who says that the heavens, which he also thinks to be spherical, shall be dissolved according to the theory of the pagans, and to be always revolving, thus committing to writing old wives' fables rather than Christian doctrines, and following in general no authority, unless in part the worthy Origenes, for his writings are completely at variance with Christian opinion.119

For it will be your part next to judge and compare each dogma and question, and to consider to which dogma and figure one, who is truly a Christian and wishes to live piously, ought to adhere. For I see much fallacy and guile on the part of the present writer of the fables, who bestows a spherical figure on the heavens and says that they shall again be destroyed. As for myself, dearest friend, I am of one mind with divine scripture, and I am confident that you also are such as I am-----a Christian following the divine scriptures, and the tradition of the |303 Holy Church when saying: I believe in one God, that is, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, the consubstantial Trinity, and in the Resurrection of the flesh, in one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church----as also the Creed says: I believe that there will be a Resurrection of the dead and that there will be a life to come; and as the priests in like manner pray, using these words with reference to those presenting offerings: The thank-offering of thy servants receive on thy heavenly and estimable altar, on the amplitude of thy heavens, giving back to them for corruptible things incorruptible, for temporal things eternal, for earthly things heavenly----and for the dead these words: Give repose, O Lord, to his soul----collecting also together again his flesh on the day that thon hast appointed, according to thy true promises 120----with whom I also joining in prayer, add what is left over: Grant us of Thy grace to have before Thy presence a Christian and happy end-----for ever. Amen!


[Footnotes have been placed at the end and renumbered]

1. 1 "The Vatican Codex has Xristi/nou peri\ diamonh~j, where we should, I think, read Xristianw~."-- Montfaucon. This reading would mean "To the Christian concerning duration".

2. 1 Gr. o)du&nh| peripei/retai, which Montfaucon renders inadequately by anxius versatur.

3. 1 Psalm cxlviii, 4.

4. 2 Psalm xix, 1.

5. 3 Psalm cxv, 16.

6. 4 Philipp. iii, 20.

7. 5 Gr. e0n ou)ranoi=j, e0c ou[. Oi[ used for w[n.

8. 1 See note 3, p. 116.

9. 2 II Cor. v, 1.

10. 3 Heb. viii, 1.

11. 1 Heb. ix, 11, 12.

12. 2 Ibid., 6, 7.

13. 3 Heb. vii, 23-26.

14. 1 Heb. xii, 28.

15. 2 Heb. iv, 11.

16. 3 Heb. iv, 14.

17. 4 Heb. x, 19, 20.

18. 5 Ibid., 11-14.

19. 1 Heb. vii, 14.

20. 2 Ibid., 17.

21. 3 Heb. viii, 2.

22. 4 Heb. xiii, 14.

23. 1 John xiv, 2.

24. 2 Ibid., 3.

25. 3 Matt. xx, 23.

26. 1 I Cor. xv, 12, 13.

27. 2 Ibid., 15.

28. 3 Ibid., 16, 17.

29. 1 I Cor. xv, 17.

30. 2 Ibid., 21.

31. 3 Ibid., 22.

32. 4 Gr. oi9 baptizo&menoi u(pe\r tw~n nekrw~n. This expression is still generally taken in the sense in which Cosmas, as he shows below, understood it. It has, however, been supposed that Paul is referring to a practice in the early Church, according to which Christians underwent baptism on behalf of friends who had died in the faith, but before the rite had been administered to them. St. Chrysostom, in commenting on the passage, notices that this practice existed among the Marcionites.

33. 5 I Cor. xv. 29, 30.

34. 6 The antithesis between the grain and the plant.

35. 1 I Cor. xv, 35-38.

36. 2 Ibid., 42.

37. 3 Ibid., 50.

38. 1 Hagg. ii, 7.

39. 2 Heb. xii, 27.

40. 1 I Cor. xv, 49.

41. 1 I Cor. xv, 54, 55.

42. 2 Gr. tw~n paqw~n, "sufferings"? Montfaucon renders morbos animi.

43. 1 John xii, 24.

44. 2 Matt, iii, 12.

45. 3 Heb. viii, 1.

46. 1 Cosmas uses the word spermolo&goj here in its primitive sense. Montfaucon, however, translates it, according to its secondary meaning, by verbi sator, "a babbler", but the context shows this interpretation to be here inadmissible.

47. 2 Gr. e1faske. By the use of this particular term the speaker implied that he had doubts as to whether Paul really believed that Jesus was alive. He might be pretending.

48. 3 Acts xxv, 19.

49. 1 II Cor. iii, 6.

50. 2 I Cor. iv, 18, 19.

51. 3 II Cor. xiii, 3.

52. 1 John iii, 13.

53. 2 Rom. viii, 19.

54. 1 Rom. viii, 21.

55. 2 Heb. i, 14.

56. 3 Ephes. iii, 10.

57. 4 Gr. parembolh_n. See Gen. xxxii, 2.

58. 5 The Song of Moses, given in Deuteronomy xxxii, 1-43.

59. 1 Psalm cxlviii, 1, 2.

60. 2 Ibid., 3.

61. 3 Ibid., 5, 6.

62. 4 Ibid., 12, 13.

63. 1 Exod. xx, ii.

64. 2 Psalm civ, 2, 3.

65. 3 Ibid., 4.

66. 4 Dan. iii, 57, 58 (Song of the Three Children).

67. 1 Heb. xi, 38.

68. 2 In the Greek text gh~n is, by a printer's mistake, omitted.

69. 3 I Cor. ii, 9.

70. 4 Rom. viii, 18.

71. 1 II Cor. iv, 18, 19.

72. 2 I Pet. i, 12.

73. 3 Rom. viii, 22.

74. 1 Philipp. iii, 20.

75. 2 Heb. vi, 20.

76. 3 Matt, xxiv, 35.

77. 4 Psalm cii, 26, 27.

78. 5 II Pet. iii, 12.

79. 1 II Cor. v, 17.

80. 1 Psalm cxlix, 6.

81. 2 I Peter iii, 12.

82. 3 I Cor. vii, 31.

83. 1 Irenaeus, who was a native of Smyrna and a disciple of Polycarp, became Bishop of Lyons in Gaul, A.D. 177. Like his contemporaries, Clemens Alexandrinus and Tertullian, he accepted as canonical the four Gospels, Acts, the thirteen Pauline Epistles, the first Epistle of Peter and the first of John, and the Apocalypse.

84. 2 Eusebius, who took the surname of Pamphili, in token of his devoted friendship for Pamphilus, Bishop of Caesarea, was born in Palestine about 264 A.D., became Bishop of Caesarea in 315, and died about 340. He recognised three classes of New Testament Scriptures: 1. Homologoumena, those universally recognised which embraced those enumerated in note 1, above, with the exception of the Apocalypse; 2. Antilegomena, those not universally recognised, which included, among others, the Epistles of James and Jude, the second of Peter, and the second and third of John: 3. Notha, that is spurious, such as the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas, and others (see his Hist. Eccles., Book iii, c. 25).

85. 3 Athanasius was born in A.D. 296 in Alexandria, of which he became the Archbishop in 326. In his Festal Letter written in 373, announcing to the churches (as he did annually) the date of Easter for that year, he gives a list of the sacred books which were known and recognised as authoritative, and in this list he places the seven Catholic Epistles and the Acts.

86. 4 Gr. fi/loj kai\ koinwniko_j.

87. 1 St. Amphilochius became Bishop of Iconium in A.D. 273-4. On his elevation to this ofifice he received from St. Basil a congratulatory letter which is still extant. At Constantinople, to which he had gone to attend the (Ecumenical Council in 381, he signed as a witness the will of St. Gregory of Nazianzus. The iambic poem here attributed to him consisted of 333 lines. The Seleucus to whom it was addressed was the nephew of St. Olympias, who had herself been brought up by the Bishop's sister. Other testimonies, besides that of Cosmas, have been adduced in support of the authority of the poem. Its object was to instruct Seleucus in a godly life, and to warn him against prevailing vices, but its principal value consists in the list of canonical scriptures with which it closes.

88. 2 Severianus, in the year 400 A.D., if not earlier, became Bishop of Gabala, a town in the northern part of the sea-coast of Syria. He united with Serapion, and Theophilus the Archbishop of Alexandria, in the conspiracy against St. Chrysostom, who had formerly been his friend.

89. 3 Book iii, 39.

90. 1 Gr. tw~n e0ndiaqe/twn kai\ koinw~j w(mologhme/nwn grafw~n. 'Endia&qhkoj like e0ndi\a&qetoj is used to signify canonical.

91. 1 Rom. i, 20.

92. 1 Heb. i, i, 2.

93. 2 Heb. xii, 11.

94. 1 Gr. stefanoforou~ntej e0pi\.

95. 1 I Cor. xiii, 9.

96. 2 Ephes. iv, 13.

97. 3 See Pls. 2, 7, 9, and 10 in the Appendix.

98. 1 Gen. i, 1.

99. 2 Gen. ii, 1.

100. 3 Exod. xx, 11.

101. 4 Gen. ii, 2.

102. 5 Gen. v, 1.

103. 6 Isai. xl, 22.

104. 7 Psalm civ, 2.

105. 8 Psalm civ, 3.

106. 9 Job xxvi, 7.

107. 10 Job xxxviii, 6.

108. 1 Psalm civ, 5.

109. 2 The Greek text has gh~| in mistake for gh~.

110. 3 Job xxxviii, 58.

111. 4 Heb. ix, 1.

112. 5 Heb. ix, 24.

113. 6 Gr. to&poi. Cf. po&roi a(lo&j, paths of the sea, i.e., the sea itself (Odys. xii, 259).

114. 1 Decani is a Latin astrological term, having gradus in the plural understood. It is thus equivalent to the Greek dekamoiri/a, "ten degrees of the zodiac", or a thirty-sixth part of its whole circuit.

115. 2 Ephes. i, 21.

116. 3 These are the spheres of the seven planets.

117. 1 This high conception inspired Byron to compose the noble and impressive lyric beginning:

"When darkness wraps this suffering clay, 
Ah! whither strays the immortal mind?

118. 2 Origen, the father of biblical criticism and exegesis, was born at Alexandria in 185 A.D., and died at Tyre in 254, from sufferings which he had undergone not long previously, during the Decian persecution.

119. 1 In 232 A.D., Origen was excommunicated, chiefly because of his denial of eternal punishment.

120. 1 "Prayer for the dead".----Note by Montfaucon.

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