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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



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Clement Of Alexandria, Miscellanies, 2.16.72
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1. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies, 4.23.151 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

2. Origen, Against Celsus, 4.71-4.72, 6.61, 6.63-6.65 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

4.71. But as, in what follows, Celsus, not understanding that the language of Scripture regarding God is adapted to an anthropopathic point of view, ridicules those passages which speak of words of anger addressed to the ungodly, and of threatenings directed against sinners, we have to say that, as we ourselves, when talking with very young children, do not aim at exerting our own power of eloquence, but, adapting ourselves to the weakness of our charge, both say and do those things which may appear to us useful for the correction and improvement of the children as children, so the word of God appears to have dealt with the history, making the capacity of the hearers, and the benefit which they were to receive, the standard of the appropriateness of its announcements (regarding Him). And, generally, with regard to such a style of speaking about God, we find in the book of Deuteronomy the following: The Lord your God bare with your manners, as a man would bear with the manners of his son. It is, as it were, assuming the manners of a man in order to secure the advantage of men that the Scripture makes use of such expressions; for it would not have been suitable to the condition of the multitude, that what God had to say to them should be spoken by Him in a manner more befitting the majesty of His own person. And yet he who is anxious to attain a true understanding of holy Scripture, will discover the spiritual truths which are spoken by it to those who are called spiritual, by comparing the meaning of what is addressed to those of weaker mind with what is announced to such as are of acuter understanding, both meanings being frequently found in the same passage by him who is capable of comprehending it. 4.72. We speak, indeed, of the wrath of God. We do not, however, assert that it indicates any passion on His part, but that it is something which is assumed in order to discipline by stern means those sinners who have committed many and grievous sins. For that which is called God's wrath, and anger, is a means of discipline; and that such a view is agreeable to Scripture, is evident from what is said in the sixth Psalm, O Lord, rebuke me not in Your anger, neither chasten me in Your hot displeasure; and also in Jeremiah. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment: not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing. Any one, moreover, who reads in the second book of Kings of the wrath of God, inducing David to number the people, and finds from the first book of Chronicles that it was the devil who suggested this measure, will, on comparing together the two statements, easily see for what purpose the wrath is mentioned, of which wrath, as the Apostle Paul declares, all men are children: We were by nature children of wrath, even as others. Moreover, that wrath is no passion on the part of God, but that each one brings it upon himself by his sins, will be clear from the further statement of Paul: Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But after your hardness and impenitent heart, treasure up unto yourself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. How, then, can any one treasure up for himself wrath against a day of wrath, if wrath be understood in the sense of passion? or how can the passion of wrath be a help to discipline? Besides, the Scripture, which tells us not to be angry at all, and which says in the thirty-seventh Psalm, Cease from anger, and forsake wrath, and which commands us by the mouth of Paul to put off all these, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication, would not involve God in the same passion from which it would have us to be altogether free. It is manifest, further, that the language used regarding the wrath of God is to be understood figuratively from what is related of His sleep, from which, as if awaking Him, the prophet says: Awake, why do You sleep, Lord? and again: Then the Lord awoke as one out of sleep, and like a mighty man that shouts by reason of wine. If, then, sleep must mean something else, and not what the first acceptation of the word conveys, why should not wrath also be understood in a similar way? The threatenings, again, are intimations of the (punishments) which are to befall the wicked: for it is as if one were to call the words of a physician threats, when he tells his patients, I will have to use the knife, and apply cauteries, if you do not obey my prescriptions, and regulate your diet and mode of life in such a way as I direct you. It is no human passions, then, which we ascribe to God, nor impious opinions which we entertain of Him; nor do we err when we present the various narratives concerning Him, drawn from the Scriptures themselves, after careful comparison one with another. For those who are wise ambassadors of the word have no other object in view than to free as far as they can their hearers from weak opinions, and to endue them with intelligence. 6.61. Again, not understanding the meaning of the words, And God ended on the sixth day His works which He had made, and ceased on the seventh day from all His works which He had made: and God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it, because on it He had ceased from all His works which He had begun to make; and imagining the expression, He ceased on the seventh day, to be the same as this, He rested on the seventh day, he makes the remark: After this, indeed, he is weary, like a very bad workman, who stands in need of rest to refresh himself! For he knows nothing of the day of the Sabbath and rest of God, which follows the completion of the world's creation, and which lasts during the duration of the world, and in which all those will keep festival with God who have done all their works in their six days, and who, because they have omitted none of their duties, will ascend to the contemplation (of celestial things), and to the assembly of righteous and blessed beings. In the next place, as if either the Scriptures made such a statement, or as if we ourselves so spoke of God as having rested from fatigue, he continues: It is not in keeping with the fitness of things that the first God should feel fatigue, or work with His hands, or give forth commands. Celsus says, that it is not in keeping with the fitness of things that the first God should feel fatigue. Now we would say that neither does God the Word feel fatigue, nor any of those beings who belong to a better and diviner order of things, because the sensation of fatigue is peculiar to those who are in the body. You can examine whether this is true of those who possess a body of any kind, or of those who have an earthly body, or one a little better than this. But neither is it consistent with the fitness of things that the first God should work with His own hands. If you understand the words work with His own hands literally, then neither are they applicable to the second God, nor to any other being partaking of divinity. But suppose that they are spoken in an improper and figurative sense, so that we may translate the following expressions, And the firmament shows forth His handywork, and the heavens are the work of Your hands, and any other similar phrases, in a figurative manner, so far as respects the hands and limbs of Deity, where is the absurdity in the words, God thus working with His own hands? And as there is no absurdity in God thus working, so neither is there in His issuing commands; so that what is done at His bidding should be beautiful and praiseworthy, because it was God who commanded it to be performed. 6.63. Celsus, not observing the difference between after the image of God and God's image, next asserts that the first-born of every creature is the image of God - the very word and truth, and also the very wisdom, being the image of His goodness, while man has been created after the image of God; moreover, that every man whose head is Christ is the image and glory of God - and further, not observing to which of the characteristics of humanity the expression after the image of God belongs, and that it consists in a nature which never had nor longer has the old man with his deeds, being called after the image of Him who created it, from its not possessing these qualities, - he maintains: Neither did He make man His image; for God is not such an one, nor like any other species of (visible) being. Is it possible to suppose that the element which is after the image of God should exist in the inferior part - I mean the body - of a compound being like man, because Celsus has explained that to be made after the image of God? For if that which is after the image of God be in the body only, the better part, the soul, has been deprived of that which is after His image, and this (distinction) exists in the corruptible body - an assertion which is made by none of us. But if that which is after the image of God be in both together, then God must necessarily be a compound being, and consist, as it were, of soul and body, in order that the element which is after God's image, the better part, may be in the soul; while the inferior part, and that which is according to the body, may be in the body - an assertion, again, which is made by none of us. It remains, therefore, that that which is after the image of God must be understood to be in our inner man, which is also renewed, and whose nature it is to be after the image of Him who created it, when a man becomes perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect, and hears the command, Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy, and learning the precept, Be followers of God, receives into his virtuous soul the traits of God's image. The body, moreover, of him who possesses such a soul is a temple of God; and in the soul God dwells, because it has been made after His image. 6.64. Celsus, again, brings together a number of statements, which he gives as admissions on our part, but which no intelligent Christian would allow. For not one of us asserts that God partakes of form or color. Nor does He even partake of motion, because He stands firm, and His nature is permanent, and He invites the righteous man also to do the same, saying: But as for you, stand here by Me. And if certain expressions indicate a kind of motion, as it were, on His part, such as this, They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, we must understand them in this way, that it is by sinners that God is understood as moving, or as we understand the sleep of God, which is taken in a figurative sense, or His anger, or any other similar attribute. But God does not partake even of substance. For He is partaken of (by others) rather than that Himself partakes of them, and He is partaken of by those who have the Spirit of God. Our Saviour, also, does not partake of righteousness; but being Himself righteousness, He is partaken of by the righteous. A discussion about substance would be protracted and difficult, and especially if it were a question whether that which is permanent and immaterial be substance properly so called, so that it would be found that God is beyond substance, communicating of His substance, by means of office and power, to those to whom He communicates Himself by His Word, as He does to the Word Himself; or even if He is substance, yet He is said be in His nature invisible, in these words respecting our Saviour, who is said to be the image of the invisible God, while from the term invisible it is indicated that He is immaterial. It is also a question for investigation, whether the only-begotten and first-born of every creature is to be called substance of substances, and idea of ideas, and the principle of all things, while above all there is His Father and God. 6.65. Celsus proceeds to say of God that of Him are all things, abandoning (in so speaking), I know not how, all his principles; while our Paul declares, that of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things, showing that He is the beginning of the substance of all things by the words of Him, and the bond of their subsistence by the expression through Him, and their final end by the terms to Him. of a truth, God is of nothing. But when Celsus adds, that He is not to be reached by word, I make a distinction, and say that if he means the word that is in us- whether the word conceived in the mind, or the word that is uttered - I, too, admit that God is not to be reached by word. If, however, we attend to the passage, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, we are of opinion that God is to be reached by this Word, and is comprehended not by Him only, but by any one whatever to whom He may reveal the Father; and thus we shall prove the falsity of the assertion of Celsus, when he says, Neither is God to be reached by word. The statement, moreover, that He cannot be expressed by name, requires to be taken with a distinction. If he means, indeed, that there is no word or sign that can represent the attributes of God, the statement is true, since there are many qualities which cannot be indicated by words. Who, for example, could describe in words the difference between the quality of sweetness in a palm and that in a fig? And who could distinguish and set forth in words the peculiar qualities of each individual thing? It is no wonder, then, if in this way God cannot be described by name. But if you take the phrase to mean that it is possible to represent by words something of God's attributes, in order to lead the hearer by the hand, as it were, and so enable him to comprehend something of God, so far as attainable by human nature, then there is no absurdity in saying that He can be described by name. And we make a similar distinction with regard to the expression, for He has undergone no suffering that can be conveyed by words. It is true that the Deity is beyond all suffering. And so much on this point.


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
allegory/-ies Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
anger, gods Van der Horst, Studies in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity (2014) 45
apostle/apostles Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
barbarian, barbares Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
bible Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
christ Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
clement of alexandria, moral criticism of heresy Boulluec, The Notion of Heresy in Greek Literature in the Second and Third Centuries (2022) 441
clement of alexandria Van der Horst, Studies in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity (2014) 45
concealment, conceal Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
crucified, incarnation of Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
emotions, gods Van der Horst, Studies in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity (2014) 45
enigma/enigmas, enigmatic Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
exegesis Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
faith Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
greeks Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
incarnation/incarnate Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
knowledge, of divine things Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
law/law, and prophets Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
marcion Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
metaphor Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
moses Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
mysterious/mysteriously Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
mystery/mysteries Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
mythology (comparative) Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
negative theology Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
nous, divine nous, ta noēta Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
old testament Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
origen Van der Horst, Studies in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity (2014) 45
parables Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
philo' Van der Horst, Studies in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity (2014) 45
prophets Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
schesis, authority of Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
schesis, nature of Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
scripture Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
symbols Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
truth Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 11
εὐφροσύνη Boulluec, The Notion of Heresy in Greek Literature in the Second and Third Centuries (2022) 441
οἴησις Boulluec, The Notion of Heresy in Greek Literature in the Second and Third Centuries (2022) 441
παράνοια Boulluec, The Notion of Heresy in Greek Literature in the Second and Third Centuries (2022) 441
χάρα Boulluec, The Notion of Heresy in Greek Literature in the Second and Third Centuries (2022) 441
ἔρις Boulluec, The Notion of Heresy in Greek Literature in the Second and Third Centuries (2022) 441