Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
TATIAN: Chapter XX. Thanks are Ever Due to God.
Chapter XX.—Thanks are Ever Due to God.
Even if you be healed by drugs (I grant you that point by courtesy), yet it behoves you to give testimony of the cure to God. For the world still draws us down, and through weakness I incline towards matter. For the wings of the p. 74 soul were the perfect spirit, but, having cast this off through sin, it flutters like a nestling and falls to the ground. Having left the heavenly companionship, it hankers after communion with inferior things. The demons were driven forth to another abode; the first created human beings were expelled from their place: the one, indeed, were cast down from heaven; but the other were driven from earth, yet not out of this earth, but from a more excellent order of things than exists here now. And now it behoves us, yearning after that pristine state, to put aside everything that proves a hindrance. The heavens are not infinite, O man, but finite and bounded; and beyond them are the superior worlds which have not a change of seasons, by which various diseases are produced, but, partaking of every happy temperature, have perpetual day, and light unapproachable by men below. 481 Those who have composed elaborate descriptions of the earth have given an account of its various regions so far as this was possible to man; but, being unable to speak of that which is beyond, because of the impossibility of personal observation, they have assigned as the cause the existence of tides; and that one sea is filled with weed, and another with mud; and that some localities are burnt up with heat, and others cold and frozen. We, however, have learned things which were unknown to us, through the teaching of the prophets, who, being fully persuaded that the heavenly spirit 482 along with the soul will acquire a clothing of mortality, foretold things which other minds were unacquainted with. But it is possible for every one who is naked to obtain this apparel, and to return to its ancient kindred.
[The flavour of this passage comes out with more sweetness in Kayes note (p. 198, Justin M.), thus: “Above the visible heavens exist the better ages, αἰῶνες οἰ κρείττονες, having no change of seasons from which various diseases take their orgin; but, blest with a uniform goodness of temperature, they enjoy perpetual day, and light inaccessible to men who dwell here below.”
Here Tatian seems to me to have had in mind a noble passage from Pindar, one of the most exquisite specimens of Greek poetry, which he baptizes and sanctifies.Ἴσον δὲ νύκτεσσιν αἰεὶ;
Ἴσα δ᾽ἐν ἁμέραις ἄλι-
ον ἔχοντες, ἀπονέστερον
Ἐσθλοὶ νέμονται βίο-
τον οὐ χθόνα ταράσσον-
τες ἀλκᾷ χερῶν,
Οὐδὲ πόντιον ὕδωρ,
Κεινὰν παρὰ δίαιταν · κ.τ.λ. Olymp. ii.
Truly the Gentiles reflect some light from the window in the ark of their father Noah. How sweet what follows: ἄδακρυν νέμονται αἰῶνα. Comp. Rev. vii. 7, xxi. 4, xxii.]74:482
[Kaye thus renders this passage: “the spirit together with the soul will receive immortality, the heavenly covering of mortality.” Justin, p. 288.]
Next: Chapter XXI. Doctrines of the Christians and Greeks Respecting God Compared.
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