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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:
Philosophical Works.: That the resurrection is not beyond probability.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

XXVI. That the resurrection is not beyond probability 1724 .

1. There are, however, some who, owing to the feebleness of human reasoning, judging the Divine power by the compass of our own, maintain that what is beyond our capacity is not possible even to God. They point to the disappearance of the dead of old time, and to the remains of those who have been reduced to ashes by fire; and further, besides these, they bring forward in idea the carnivorous beasts, and the fish that receives in its own body the flesh of the shipwrecked sailor, while this again in turn becomes food for men, and passes by digestion into the bulk of him who eats it: and they rehearse many such trivialities, unworthy of God’s great power and authority, for the overthrow of the doctrine, arguing as though God were not able to restore to man his own, by return 1725 through the same ways.

2. But we briefly cut short their long circuits of logical folly by acknowledging that dissolution of the body into its component parts does take place, and not only does earth, according to the Divine word, return to earth, but air and moisture also revert to the kindred element, and there takes place a return of each of our components to that nature to which it is allied; and although the human body be dispersed among carnivorous birds, or among the most savage beasts by becoming their food, and although it pass beneath the teeth of fish, and although it be changed by fire into vapour and dust, wheresoever one may in argument suppose the man to be removed, he surely remains in the world; and the world, the voice of inspiration tells us, is held by the hand of God. If thou, then, art not ignorant of any of the things in thy hand, dost thou deem the knowledge of God to be feebler than thine own power, that it should fail to discover the most minute of the things that are within the compass of the Divine span?


Footnotes

417:1724

Otherwise Chap. xxvii. The Bodleian ms. of the Latin version has the title:—“That however much the human body may have been consumed, the Divine power can easily bring it together.”

417:1725

ναλυσέως, in S. Gregory, seems to be frequently used in the sense of “return.” Cf. Phil. i. 23, εἰς τὸ ἀναλῦσαι, καὶ σὺν Χριστῳ εἶναι, where Tertullian translates “cupio recipi”, (De Patientia).


Next: That it is possible, when the human body is dissolved into the elements of the universe, that each should have his own body restored from the common source.

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