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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VIII:
Pseudo-Clementine Literature.: Chapter III

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter III.—Peter Refuses to Discuss Certain Questions in Regard to the Devil.

And Simon said:  “Since, then, you have honestly confessed, on the testimony of the Scriptures, that the evil one exists, state to us how he has come into existence, if indeed he has come into existence, and by whom, and why.” 1412   And Peter said:  “Pardon me, Simon, if I do not dare to affirm what has not been written.  But if you say that it has been written, prove it.  But if, since it has not been written, you cannot prove it, why should we run risk in stating our opinions in regard to what has not been written?  For if we discourse too daringly in regard to God, it is either because we do not believe that we shall be judged, or that we shall be judged only in respect to that which we do, but not also in regard to what we believe and speak.” 1413   But Simon, understanding that Peter referred to his own madness, said:  “Permit me to run the risk; but do not you make what you assert to be blasphemy a pretext for retiring.  For I perceive that you wish to withdraw, in order that you may escape refutation before the masses, sometimes as if you were afraid to listen to blasphemies, and at other times by maintaining that, as nothing has been written as to how, and by whom, and why the evil one came into existence, we ought not to dare to assert more than the Scripture.  Wherefore also as a pious man you affirm this only, that he exists.  But by these contrivances you deceive yourself, not knowing that, if it is blasphemy to inquire accurately regarding the evil one, the blame rests with me, the accuser, and not with you, the defender of God.  And if the subject inquired into is not in Scripture, 1414 and on this account you do not wish to inquire into it, there are some satisfactory methods which can prove to you what is sought not less effectively than the Scriptures.  For instance, must it not be the case that the evil one, who you assert exists, is either originated or unoriginated?” 1415



[Comp. Homily XX. 8, 9.—R.]


This passage is probably corrupt.  We have adopted the readings of Cotelerius—ἤ, ἢ, instead of εἰ and μή.


Lit., “unwritten.”


The words γενητός and ἀγένητος are difficult to translate.  The first means one who has somehow or other come into being; the second, one who has never come into being; but has always been.  The mss. confound γενητός with γεννητός, begotten, and ἀγένητος with ἀγέννητος, unbegotten.

Next: Chapter IV

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