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  • Of Marcion's Antitheses.

    Book IV.—Of Marcion’s Antitheses.1539

    1539 The state of the text in some parts of this book is frightful.  It has been almost hopeless to extract any sense whatever out of the Latin in many passages—indeed, the renderings are in these cases little better than guess-work—and the confusion of images, ideas, and quotations is extraordinary.

    What the Inviolable Power bids

    The youthful people,1540

    1540 See the preceding book.

    which, rich, free, and heir,

    Possesses an eternal hope of praise

    (By right assigned) is this:  that with great zeal

    5  Burning, armed with the love of peace—yet not

    As teachers (Christ alone doth all things teach1541

    1541 I have changed the unintelligible “daret” of the edd. into “docet.”  The reference seems to be to Matt. xxiii. 8; Jas. iii. 1; 1 Pet. v. 2, 3.


    But as Christ’s household—servants—o’er the earth

    They should conduct a massive war;1542

    1542 Molem belli deducere terræ.

    should raze

    The wicked’s lofty towers, savage walls,

    10  And threats which ’gainst the holy people’s bands

    Rise, and dissolve such empty sounds in air.

    Wherefore we, justly speaking emulous words,1543

    1543 Æmulamenta.  Migne seems to think the word refers to Marcion’s “Antitheses.”

    Out of his1544

    1544 i.e., apparently Marcion’s.

    own words even strive to express

    The meaning of salvation’s records,1545

    1545 Monumenta.


    15  Large grace hath poured profusely; and to ope

    To the saintseyes the Bandit’s1546

    1546 See the opening of the preceding book.

    covert plague:

    Lest any untrained, daring, ignorant,

    Fall therein unawares, and (being caught)

    Forfeit celestial gifts.

    God, then, is One

    20  To mortals all and everywhere; a Realm

    Eternal, Origin of light profound;

    Life’s Fount; a Draught fraught1547

    1547 “Conditus;” i.e., probably (in violation of quantity) the past part. of “condio” = flavoured, seasoned.

    with all wisdomHe

    Produced the orb whose bosom all things girds;

    Him not a region, not a place, includes as

    25  In circuit:  matter none perennial is,1548

    1548 I have altered the punctuation here.

    So as to be self-made, or to have been

    Ever, created by no Makerheaven’s,

    Earth’s, sea’s, and the abyss’s1549

    1549 Inferni.


    1550 Locator.


    The Spirit; air’s Divider, Builder, Author,

    30  Sole God perpetual, Power immense, is He.1551

    1551 These lines are capable, according to their punctuation, of various renderings, which for brevity’s sake I must be content to omit.

    Him had the Law the People1552

    1552 i.e., the People of Israel.  See the de Idol., p. 148, c. v. note 1.

    shown to be

    One God,1553

    1553 See Deut. vi. 3, 4, quoted in Mark xii. 29; 30.

    whose mighty voice to Moses spake

    Upon the mount.  Him this His Virtue, too,

    His Wisdom, Glory, Word, and Son, this Light

    35  Begotten from the Light immense,1554

    1554 This savours of the Nicene Creed.


    Through the seers’ voices, to be One:  and Paul,1555

    1555 Migne’s pointing is followed, in preference to Oehler’s.

    Taking the theme in order up, thus too

    Himself delivers; “Father there is One1556

    1556 “Unum hunc esse Patrem;” i.e., “that this One (God) is the Father.”  But I rather incline to read, “unumque esse;” or we may render, “This One is the Sire.”

    Through whom were all things made:  Christ One, through whom

    40  God all things made;”1557

    1557 See 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6 (but notice the prepositions in the Greek; our author is not accurate in rendering them); Eph. iv. 4, 5, 6.

    to whom he plainly owns

    That every knee doth bow itself;1558

    1558 Ad quem se curvare genu plane omne fatetur.  The reference is to Phil. ii. 10; but our author is careless in using the present tense, “se curvare.”

    of whom

    Is every fatherhood1559

    1559 The reference is to Eph. iii. 14, 15; but here again our author seems in error, as he refers the words to Christ, whereas the meaning of the apostle appears clearly to refer them tothe Father.

    in heaven and earth

    Called:  who is zealous with the highest love

    Of parent-care His people-ward; and wills

    45  All flesh to live in holy wise, and wills

    His people to appear before Him pure

    Without a crime.  With such zeal, by a law1560

    1560 Legitimos.  See book iv. 91.

    Guards He our safety; warns us loyal be;

    Chastens; is instant.  So, too, has the same

    50  Apostle (when Galatian brethren

    Chiding)—Paul—written that such zeal hath he.1561

    1561 See Gal. iii. 20.  But here, again, “Galatas” seems rather like an error; for in speaking to the Corinthians St. Paul uses an expression more like our author’s:  see 2 Cor. xi. 2.  The Latin, too, is faulty:  “Talem se Paulus zelum se scripsit habere,” where, perhaps, for the first “se” we should read “sic.

    The fathers’sins God freely rendered, then,

    Slaying in whelming deluge utterly Parents alike with progeny, and e’en

    55  Grandchildren in “fourth generation”1562

    1562 Comp. Ex. xx. 5; Deut. v. 9.


    Descended from the parent-stock, when He

    Has then for nearly these nine hundred years

    Assisted them.  Hard does the judgment seem?

    The sentence savage?  And in Sodom, too,

    60  That the still guiltless little one unarmed

    And tender should lose life:  for what had e’er

    The infant sinned?  What cruel thou mayst think,

    Is parent-care’s true duty.  Lest misdeed

    Should further grow, crime’s authors He did quench,

    65  And sinful parentsbrood.  But, with his sires,

    The harmless infant pays not penalties

    Perpetual, ignorant and not advanced

    In crime:  but lest he partner should become

    Of adult age’s guilt, death immature

    70  Undid spontaneous future ills.

    Why, then,

    Bids God libation to be poured to Him

    With blood of sheep? and takes so stringent means

    By Law, that, in the People, none transgress

    Erringly, threatening them with instant death

    75  By stoning? and why reprobates, again,

    These gifts of theirs, and says they are to Him

    Unwelcome, while He chides a People prest

    With swarm of sin?1563

    1563 See Isa. i. 10–15; Jer. vi. 20.

      Does He, the truthful, bid,

    And He, the just, at the same time repel?

    80  The causes if thou seekst, cease to be moved

    Erringly:  for faith’s cause is weightier

    Than fancied reason.1564

    1564 Causa etenim fidei rationis imagine major.

      Through a mirror1565

    1565 Comp. 1 Cor. xiii. 12; Heb. x. 1.


    Of fulgent light!—behold what the calf’s blood,

    The heifer’s ashes, and each goat, do mean:

    85  The one dismissed goes off, the other falls

    A victim at the temple.

    With calf’s blood

    With water mixt the seer1566

    1566 Moses.  See Heb. ix. 19–22, and the references there.

    (thus from on high

    Bidden) besprinkled People, vessels all,

    Priests, and the written volumes of the Law.

    90  See here not their true hope, nor yet a mere

    Semblance devoid of virtue:1567

    1567 Comp. Heb. ix. 13.

      but behold

    In the calf’s type Christ destined bodily

    To suffer; who upon His shoulders bare

    The plough-beam’s hard yokes,1568

    1568 Alluding probably to our Lord’s bearing of the cross-beam of His cross—the beam being the “yokes,” and the upright stem of the cross the “plough-beam”—on His shoulders.—See John xix. 17.

    and with fortitude

    95  Brake His own heart with the steel share, and poured

    Into the furrows water of His own

    Life’s blood.  For these “temple-vessels” do

    Denote our bodies:  God’s true temple1569

    1569 Templum.  Comp. John ii. 19–22; Col. ii. 9.


    Not dedicated erst; for to Himself

    100  He by His blood associated men,

    And willed them be His body’s priests, Himself

    The Supreme Father’s perfect Priest by right.

    Hearing, sight, step inert, He cleansed; and, for a “book,”1570

    1570 Libro.  The reference is to the preceding lines, especially 89, and Heb. ix. 19, αὐτὸ τὸ βιβλίον.  The use of “libro” is curious, as it seems to be used partly as if it would be equivalent to pro libro, “in the place of a book,” partly in a more truly datival sense, “to serve the purposes of a book;” and our “for” is capable of the two senses.

    Sprinkled, by speaking1571

    1571 For this comparison of “speaking” to “sprinkling,” comp. Deut. xxxii. 2, “My doctrine shall drop as the rain; my speech shall distil as the dew,” etc.; Job xxix. 22, “My speech dropped upon them;” with Eph. v. 26, and with our Lord’s significant action (recorded in the passage here alluded to, John xx. 22) of “breathing on” (ἐνεφύσησεν) His disciples.  Comp., too, for the “witnesses” and “words of presage,” Luke xxiv. 48, 49; Acts i. 6–; 8.

    words of presage, those

    105  His witnesses:  demonstrating the Law

    Bound by His holy blood.

    This cause withal

    Our victim through “the heifer” manifests

    From whose blood taking for the People’s sake

    Piacular drops, them the first Levite1572

    1572 i.e., the chief of the Levites, the high priest.


    110  Within the veil; and, by God’s bidding, burned

    Her corse without the camp’s gates; with whose ash

    He cleansed lapsed bodies.

    Thus our Lord (who us

    By His own death redeemed), without the camp1573

    1573 Comp. Heb. xiii. 12, 13; John xix. 19, 20.

    Willingly suffering the violence

    115  Of an iniquitous People, did fulfil

    The Law, by facts predictions proving;1574

    1574 Comp. the preceding book, 355.


    A people of contamination full

    Doth truly cleanse, conceding all things, as

    The body’s Author rich; within heaven’s veil

    120  Gone with the blood which—One for many’s deaths

    He hath outpoured.

    A holy victim, then,

    Is meet for a great priest; which worthily

    He, being perfect, may be proved to have,

    And offer.  He a body hath:  this is

    125  For mortals a live victim; worthy this

    Of great price did He offer, One for all.


    1575 The passage which follows is almost unintelligible.  The sense which I have offered in my text is so offered with great diffidence, as I am far from certain of having hit the meaning; indeed, the state of the text is such, that any meaning must be a matter of some uncertainty.

    semblance of the “goatsteaches that they

    Are men exiled out of the “peoples twain”1576

    1576 i.e., perhaps the Jewish and Christian peoples.  Comp. adv. Jud., c. 1.

    As barren;1577

    1577 i.e., “barren” of faith and good works.  The “goats” being but “kids” (see Lev. xvi. 8), would, of course, be barren.  “Exiled” seems to mean “excommunicated.”  But the comparison of the sacrificed goat to a penitent, and of the scapegoat to an impenitent, excommunicate, is extravagant.  Yet I see no other sense.

    fruitless both; (of whom the Lord

    130  Spake also, in the Gospel, telling how

    The kids are severed from the sheep, and stand

    On the left hand1578

    1578 See Matt. xxv. 31–33.

    ):  that some indeed there are

    Who for the Lord’s Name’s sake have suffered:  thus

    That fruit has veiled their former barrenness:

    135  And such, the prophet teaches, on the ground

    Of that their final merit worthy are

    Of the Lord’s altar:  others, cast away

    (As was th’ iniquitous rich man, we read,

    By Lazarus1579

    1579 i.e., Lazarus was not allowed to help him.  In that sense he may be said to have been “cast away;” but it is Abraham, not Lazarus, who pronounces his doom.  See Luke xvi. 19–31.

    ), are such as have remained

    140  Exiled, persistent in their stubbornness.

    Now a veil, hanging in the midst, did both


    1580 i.e., in that the blood of the one was brought within the veil; the other was not.

    and had into portions twain

    Divided the one shrine.1581

    1581 Ædem.

      The inner parts

    Were called “Holies of holies.” Stationed there

    145  An altar shone, noble with gold; and there,

    At the same time, the testaments and ark

    Of the Law’s tablets; covered wholly o’er

    With lambs’skins1582

    1582 The meaning seems to be, that the ark, when it had to be removed from place to place, had (as we learn from Num. iv. 5) to be covered with “the second veil” (as it is called in Heb. ix. 3), which was “of blue,” etc.  But that this veil was made “of lambs’ skins” does not appear; on the contrary, it was made of “linen.”  The outer veil, indeed (not the outmost, which was of “badgers’ skins,” according to the Eng. ver.; but of “ὑακίνθινα δερματα”—of what material is not said—according to the LXX.), was made “of rams’ skins;” but then they were “dyed red” (ἡρυθροδανωμένα, LXX.), not “blue.”  So there is some confusion in our author.

    dyed with heaven’s hue; within


    1583 The ark was overlaid with gold without as well as within.  (See Ex. xxv. 10, 11; xxxvii. 1, 2; and this is referred to in Heb. ix. 3, 4κιβωτὸνπερικεκαλυμμένην—where our Eng. ver. rendering is defective, and in the context as well.)  This, however, may be said to be implied in the following words:  “and all between,” i.e., between the layers above and beneath, “of wood.”

    and all between of wood.  Here are so

    150  The tablets of the Law; here is the urn

    Replete with manna; here is Aaron’s rod

    Which puts forth germens of the cross1584

    1584 Migne supposes some error in these words.  Certainly the sense is dark enough; but see lower down.


    The cross itself, yet born of storax-tree1585

    1585 It yielded “almonds,” according to the Eng. ver. (Num. xvii. 8).  But see the LXX.

    —And over it—in uniformity

    155  Fourfold—the cherubim their pinions spread,

    And the inviolable sanctities1586

    1586 Sagmina.  But the word is a very strange one to use indeed.  See the Latin Lexicons, s.v.

    Covered obediently.1587

    1587 It might be questionable whether “jussa” refers to “cherubim” or to “sagmina.”

      Without the veil

    Part of the shrine stood open:  facing it,

    Heavy with broad brass, did an altar stand;

    160  And with two triple sets (on each side one)

    Of branches woven with the central stem,

    A lampstand, and as many1588

    1588 i.e., twice three + the central one = 7.


    The golden substance wholly filled with light

    The temple.1589

    1589 Our author persists in calling the tabernacle temple.

    Thus the temple’s outer face,

    165  Common and open, does the ritual

    Denote, then, of a people lingering

    Beneath the Law; amid whose1590

    1590 i.e., the Law’s.

    gloom there shone

    The Holy Spirit’s sevenfold unity

    Ever, the People sheltering.1591

    1591 Tegebat,” i.e., with the “fiery-cloudy pillar,” unless it be an error for “regebat,” which still might apply to the pillar.

      And thus

    170  The Lampstand True and living Lamps do shine

    Persistently throughout the Law and Seers

    On men subdued in heart.  And for a type

    Of earth,1592

    1592 Terræ.

    the altar—so tradition says—

    Was made.  Here constantly, in open space,

    175  Before all eyes were visible of old

    The People’s “works,”1593

    1593 “Operæ,” i.e., sacrifices.  The Latin is a hopeless jumble of words without grammatical sequence, and any rendering is mere guesswork.

    which ever—“not without


    1594 Heb. ix. 7.

    —it did offer, shedding out the gore

    Of lawless life.1595

    1595 i.e., of animals which, as irrational, were “without the Law.”

      There, too, the Lord—Himself

    Made victim on behalf of all—denotes

    180  The whole earth1596

    1596 Terram.

    altar in specific sense.

    Hence likewise that new covenant author, whom

    No language can describe, Disciple John,

    Testifies that beneath such altar he

    Saw souls which had for Christ’s name suffered,

    185  Praying the vengeance of the mighty God

    Upon their slaughter.1597

    1597 Rev. vi. 9, 10.


    1598 i.e., beneath the altar.  See the 11th verse ib.

    meantime, is rest.

    In some unknown part there exists a spot

    Open, enjoying its own light; ’tis called

    Abraham’s bosom;” high above the glooms,1599

    1599 Or possibly, “deeper than the glooms:”  “altior a tenebris.”

    190  And far removed from fire, yet ’neath the earth.1600

    1600 Terra.

    The brazen altar this is called, whereon

    (We have recorded) was a dusky veil.1601

    1601 See 141, 142, above.

    This veil divides both parts, and leaves the one

    Open, from the eternal one distinct

    195  In worship and time’s usage.  To itself

    Tis not unfriendly, though of fainter love,

    By time and space divided, and yet linked

    By reason.  ’Tis one house, though by a veil

    Parted it seems:  and thus (when the veil burst,

    200  On the Lord’s passion) heavenly regions oped

    And holy vaults,1602

    1602 Cælataque sancta.  We might conjecture “celataque sancta,” ="and the sanctuaries formerly hidden.”

    and what was double erst

    Became one house perennial.

    Order due

    Traditionally has interpreted

    The inner temple of the people called

    205  After Christ’s Name, with worship heavenly,

    God’s actual mandates following; (no “shade”

    Is herein bound, but persons real;1603

    1603 This sense appears intelligible, as the writer’s aim seems to be to distinguish between the “actual” commands of God, i.e., the spiritual, essential ones, which the spiritual people “follow,” and which “bind”—not the ceremonial observance of a “shadow of the future blessings” (see Heb. x. 1), but “real persons,” i.e., living souls.  But, as Migne has said, the passage is probably faulty and mutilated.

    ) complete

    By the arrival of the “perfect things.”1604

    1604 Comp. Heb. vii. 19; x. 1; xi. 11, 12.

    The ark beneath a type points out to us

    210  Christ’s venerable body, joined, through “wood,”1605

    1605 “Lignum:”  here probably ="the flesh,” which He took from Mary; the “rod” (according to our author) which Isaiah had foretold.

    With sacred Spirit:  the aërial1606

    1606 Aërial, i.e., as he said above, “dyed with heaven’s hue.”


    Are flesh not born of seed, outstretcht on “wood;”1607

    1607 “Ligno,” i.e., “the cross,” represented by the “wood” of which the tabernacle’s boards, on which the coverings were stretched (but comp. 147–8, above), were made.

    At the same time, with golden semblance fused,1608

    1608 As the flame of the lamps appeared to grow out of and be fused with the “golden semblance” or “form” of the lampstand or candlestick.

    Within, the glowing Spirit joined is

    215  Thereto; that, with peace1609

    1609 Of which the olive—of which the pure oil for the lamps was to be made:  Ex. xxvii. 20; Lev. xxiv. 2—is a type.  “Peace” is granted to “the flesh” through Christ’s work and death in flesh.

    granted, flesh might bloom

    With Spirit mixt.  Of the Lord’s flesh, again,

    The urn, golden and full, a type doth bear.

    Itself denotes that the new covenant’s Lord

    Is manna; in that He, true heavenly Bread,

    220  Is, and hath by the Father been transfused1610

    1610 Traditus.

    Into that bread which He hath to His saints

    Assigned for a pledge:  this Bread will He

    Give perfectly to them who (of good works

    The lovers ever) have the bonds of peace

    225  Kept.  And the double tablets of the law

    Written all over, these, at the same time,

    Signify that that Law was ever hid

    In Christ, who mandate old and new fulfilled,

    Ark of the Supreme Father as He is,

    230  Through whom He, being rich, hath all things given.

    The storax-rod, too, nut’s fruit bare itself;

    (The virgin’s semblance this, who bare in blood

    A body:)  on the “wood1611

    1611 In ligno.  The passage is again in an almost desperate state.

    conjoined ’twill lull

    Death’s bitter, which within sweet fruit doth lurk,

    235  By virtue of the Holy Spirit’s grace:

    Just as Isaiah did predict “a rod

    From Jesse’s seed1612

    1612 Isa. xi. 1, 2.

    Mary—from which a flower

    Issues into the orb.

    The altar bright with gold

    Denotes the heaven on high, whither ascend

    240  Prayers holy, sent up without crime:  the Lord

    This “altar” spake of, where if one doth gifts

    Offer, he must first reconciliate

    Peace with his brother:1613

    1613 Matt. v. 23, 24.

      thus at length his prayers

    Can flame unto the starsChrist, Victor sole

    245  And foremost.1614

    1614 Primus.

      Priest, thus offered incense born

    Not of a tree, but prayers.1615

    1615 See Rev. viii. 3, 4.

    The cherubim1616

    1616 Here ensues a confused medley of all the cherubic figures of Moses, Ezekiel, and St. John.

    Being, with twice two countenances, one,

    And are the one word through fourfold order led;1617

    1617 i.e., by the four evangelists.

    The hoped comforts of life’s mandate new,

    250  Which in their plenitude Christ bare Himself

    Unto us from the Father.  But the wings

    In number four times six,1618

    1618 The cherubim, (or, “seraphim” rather,) of Isa. vi. have each six wings.  Ezekiel mentions four cherubim, or “living creatures.”  St. John likewise mentions four “living creatures.”  Our author, combining the passages, and thrusting them into the subject of the Mosaic cherubim, multiplies the six (wings) by the four (cherubs), and so attains his end—the desired number “twenty-four”—to represent the books of the Old Testament, which (by combining certain books) may be reckoned to be twenty-four in number.

    the heraldings

    Of the old world denote, witnessing things

    Which, we are taught, were after done.  On these1619

    1619 These wings.

    255  The heavenly words fly through the orb:  with these

    Christ’s blood is likewise held context, so told

    Obscurely by the seers’ presaging mouth.

    The number of the wings doth set a seal

    Upon the ancient volumes; teaching us

    260  Those twenty-four have certainly enough

    Which sang the Lord’s ways and the times of peace:

    These all, we see, with the new covenant

    Cohere.  Thus also John; the Spirit thus

    To him reveals that in that number stand

    265  The enthroned elders white1620

    1620 There is again some great confusion in the text.  The elders could not “stand enthroned:”  nor do they stand “over,” but “aroundGod’s throne; so that the “insuper solio” could not apply to that.

    and crowned, who (as

    With girding-rope) all things surround, before

    The Lord’s throne, and upon the glassy sea

    Subigneous:  and four living creatures, winged

    And full of eyes within and outwardly,

    270  Do signify that hidden things are oped,

    And all things shut are at the same time seen,

    In the word’s eye.  The glassy flame-mixt sea

    Means that the laver’s gifts, with Spirit fused

    Therein, upon believers are conferred.

    275  Who could e’en tell what the Lord’s parent-care

    Before His judgment-seat, before His bar,

    Prepared hath? that such as willing be

    His forum and His judgment for themselves

    To antedate, should ’scape! that who thus hastes

    280  Might find abundant opportunity!

    Thus therefore Law and wondrous prophets sang;

    Thus all parts of the covenant old and new,

    Those sacred rights and pregnant utterances

    Of words, conjoined, do flourish.  Thus withal,

    285  Apostles’ voices witness everywhere;

    Nor aught of old, in fine, but to the new

    Is joined.

    Thus err they, and thus facts retort

    Their sayings, who to false ways have declined;

    And from the Lord and God, eternal King,

    290  Who such an orb produced, detract, and seek

    Some other deity ’neath feigned name,

    Bereft of minds, which (frenzied) they have lost;

    Willing to affirm that Christ a stranger is

    To the Law; nor is the world’s1621

    1621 Mundi.

    Lord; nor doth will

    295  Salvation of the flesh; nor was Himself

    The body’s Maker, by the Father’s power.1622

    1622 Virtute.

    Them must we flee, stopping (unasked) our ears;

    Lest with their speech they stain innoxious hearts.

    Let therefore us, whom so great grace1623

    1623 Honestas.

    of God

    300  Hath penetrated, and the true celestial words

    Of the great Master-Teacher in good ways

    Have trained, and given us right monuments;1624

    1624 Or, “records:”  “monumenta,” i.e., the written word, according to the canon.

    Pay honour ever to the Lord, and sing

    Endlessly, joying in pure faith, and sure

    305  SalvationBorn of the true God, with bread

    Perennial are we nourished, and hope

    With our whole heart after eternal life.


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