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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Indignant Irony Exposing the Valentinian Fable About the Judicial Treatment of Mankind at the Last Judgment. The Immorality of the Doctrine.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXXII.—Indignant Irony Exposing the Valentinian Fable About the Judicial Treatment of Mankind at the Last Judgment. The Immorality of the Doctrine.

As for the human race, its end will be to the following effect:—To all which bear the earthy 6902 and material mark there accrues an entire destruction, because “all flesh is grass,” 6903 and amongst these is the soul of mortal man, except when it has found salvation by faith. The souls of just men, that is to say, our souls, will be conveyed to the Demiurge in the abodes of the middle region. We are duly thankful; we shall be content to be classed with our god, in whom lies our own origin. 6904 Into the palace of the Pleroma nothing of the animal nature is admitted—nothing but the spiritual swarm of Valentinus. There, then, the first process is the despoiling of men themselves, that is, men within the Pleroma. 6905 Now this despoiling consists of the putting off of the souls in which they appear to be clothed, which they will give back to their Demiurge as they had obtained 6906 them from him. They will then become wholly intellectual spirits—impalpable, 6907 invisible 6908 —and in this state will be readmitted invisibly to the Pleroma—stealthily, if the case admits of the idea. 6909 What then?  They will be dispersed amongst the angels, the attendants on Soter. As sons, do you suppose? Not at all.  As servants, then? No, not even so. Well, as phantoms? Would that it were nothing more! Then in what capacity, if you are ashamed to tell us? In the capacity of brides. Then will they end 6910 their Sabine rapes with the sanction of wedlock. This will be the guerdon of the spiritual, this the recompense of their faith! Such fables have their use. Although but a Marcus or a Gaius, 6911 full-grown in this flesh of ours, with a beard and such like proofs (of virility,) it may be a stern husband, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather (never mind what, in fact, if only a male), you may perhaps in the bridal-chamber of the Pleroma—I have already said so tacitly 6912 —even become the parent by an angel of some Æon of high numerical rank. 6913 For the right celebration of these nuptials, instead of the torch and veil, I suppose that secret fire is then to burst forth, which, after devastating the whole existence of things, will itself also be reduced to nothing at last, after everything has been reduced to ashes; and so their fable too will be ended. 6914 But I, too, p. 519 am no doubt a rash man, in having exposed so great a mystery in so derisive a way: I ought to be afraid that Achamoth, who did not choose to make herself known even to her own son, would turn mad, that Theletus would be enraged, that Fortune 6915 would be irritated. But I am yet a liege-man of the Demiurge. I have to return after death to the place where there is no more giving in marriage, where I have to be clothed upon rather than to be despoiled,—where, even if I am despoiled of my sex, I am classed with angels—not a male angel, nor a female one. There will be no one to do aught against me, nor will they then find any male energy in me.


Footnotes

518:6902

Choicæ: “clayey.”

518:6903

Isa. xl. 6.

518:6904

See above, in ch. xxiv. p. 515.

518:6905

Interiores.

518:6906

Averterant.

518:6907

Neque detentui obnoxii.

518:6908

Neque conspectui obnoxii.

518:6909

Si ita est: or, “since such is the fact.”

518:6910

Claudent.

518:6911

But slaves, in fact.

518:6912

This parenthetic clause, “tacendo jam dixi,” perhaps means, “I say this with shame,” “I would rather not have to say it.”

518:6913

The common reading is, “Onesimum Æonem,” an Æon called Onesimus, in supposed allusion to Philemon’s Onesimus. But this is too far-fetched. Oehler discovers in “Onesimum” the corruption of some higher number ending in “esimum.”

518:6914

This is Oehler’s idea of “et nulla jam fabula.” Rigaltius, however, gives a good sense to this clause: “All will come true at last; there will be no fable.”

519:6915

The same as Macariotes, in ch. viii. above, p. 507.


Next: These Remaining Chapters an Appendix to the Main Work. In This Chapter Tertullian Notices a Difference Among Sundry Followers of Ptolemy, a Disciple of Valentinus.

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