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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Epistle to Gregory and Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John.: Chapter VIII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

8.  Heracleon’s View that the Logos is Not the Agent of Creation.

It was, I consider, a violent and unwarranted procedure which was adopted by Heracleon, 4693 the friend, as it is said, of Valentinus, in discussing this sentence:  “All things were made through Him.”  He excepted the whole world and all that it contains, excluding, as far as his hypothesis goes, from the “all things” what is best in the world and its contents.  For he says that the æon (age), and the things in it, were not made by the Logos; he considers them to have come into existence before the Logos.  He deals with the statement, “Without Him was nothing made,” with some degree of audacity, nor is he afraid of the warning: 4694   “Add not to His words, lest He find thee out and thou prove a liar,” for to the “Nothing” he adds:  “Of what is in the world and the creation.”  And as his statements on the passage are obviously very much forced and in the face of the evidence, for what he considers divine is excluded from the all, and what he regards as purely evil is, that and nothing else, the all things, we need not waste our time in rebutting what is, on the face of it, absurd, when, without any warrant from Scripture, he adds to the words, “Without Him was nothing made,” the further words, “Of what is in the earth and the creation.”  In this proposal, which has no inner probability to recommend it, he is asking us, in fact, to trust him as we do the prophets, or the Apostles, who had authority and were not responsible to men for the writings belonging to man’s salvation, which they handed to those about them and to those who should come after.  He had, also, a private interpretation of his own of the words:  “All things were made through Him,” when he said that it was the Logos who caused the demiurge to make the world, not, however, the Logos from whom or by whom, but Him through whom, taking the written words in a different sense from that of common parlance. 4695   For, if the truth of the matter was as he considers, then the writer ought to have said that all things were made through the demiurge by the Word, and not through the Word by the demiurge.  We accept the “through whom,” as it is usually understood, and have brought evidence in support of our interpretation, while he not only puts forward a new rendering of his own, unsupported by the divine Scripture, but appears even to scorn the truth and shamelessly and openly oppose it.  For he says:  “It was not the Logos who made all things, as under another who was the operating agent,” taking the “through whom” in this sense, “but another made them, the Logos Himself being the operating agent.”  This is not a suitable occasion for the proof that it was not the demiurge who became the servant of the Logos and made the world; but that the Logos became the servant of the demiurge and formed the world.  For, according to the prophet David, 4696 “God spake and they came into being, He commanded and they were created.”  For the unbegotten God commanded the first-born of all creation, 4697 and they were created, not only the world and what is therein, but also all other things, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers, for all things were made through Him and unto Him, and He is before all things.”



On the fragments of Heracleon in this work of Origen, see Texts and Studies, vol. i. part iv. by A. E. Brooke, M.A.


Prov. xxx. 6.


Accepting Jacobi’s and Brook’s correction παρα τὴν.


Ps. cxlviii. 5.


Col. 1:15, 16.

Next: Chapter IX

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