Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
THEOPHILUS: Chapter III.—What Has Become of the Gods?
Chapter III.—What Has Become of the Gods?
And of the gods of former times, if indeed they were begotten, the generation was sufficiently prolific. But now, where is their generation exhibited? For if of old they begot and were begotten, it is plain that even to the present time there should be gods begotten and born; or at least if it be not so, such a race will be reckoned impotent. For either they have waxed old, and on that account no longer beget, or they have died out and no longer exist. For if the gods were begotten, they ought to be born even until now, as men, too, are born; yea, much more numerous should the gods be than men, as the Sibyl says:—“For if the gods beget, and each remains
Immortal, then the race of gods must be
More numerous than mortals, and the throng
So great that mortals find no room to stand.”
For if the children begotten of men who are mortal and short-lived make an appearance even until now, and men have not ceased to be born, so that cities and villages are full, and even the country places also are inhabited, how ought not the gods, who, according to your poets, do not die, much rather to beget and be begotten, since you say that the gods were produced by generation? And why was the mount which is called Olympus formerly inhabited by the gods, but now lies deserted? Or why did Jupiter, in days of yore, dwell on Ida, and was known to dwell there, according to Homer and other poets, but now is beyond ken? And why was he found only in one part of the earth, and not everywhere? For either he neglected the other parts, or was not able to be present everywhere and provide for all. For if he were, e.g., in an eastern place, he was not in the western; and if, on the other hand, he were present in the western p. 95 parts, he was not in the eastern. But this is the attribute of God, the Highest and Almighty, and the living God, not only to be everywhere present, but also to see all things and to hear all, and by no means to be confined in a place; for if He were, then the place containing Him would be greater than He; for that which contains is greater than that which is contained. For God is not contained, but is Himself the place of all. But why has Jupiter left Ida? Was it because he died, or did that mountain no longer please him? And where has he gone? To heaven? No. But you will perhaps say, To Crete? Yes, for there, too, his tomb is shown to this day. Again, you will say, To Pisa, where he reflects glory on the hands of Phidias to this day. Let us, then, proceed to the writings of the philosophers and poets.
Next: Chapter IV.—Absurd Opinions of the Philosophers Concerning God.
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