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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Manichæan Controversy.: Chapter 18

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 18.—Hyle, Which Was Called by the Ancients the Formless Material of Things, is Not an Evil.

For neither is that material, which the ancients called Hyle, to be called an evil.  I do not say that which Manichæus with most senseless vanity, not knowing what he says, denominates Hyle, namely, the former of corporeal beings; whence it is rightly said to him, that he introduces another god.  For nobody can form and create corporeal beings but God alone; for neither are they created unless there subsist with them measure, form, and order, which I think that now even they themselves confess to be good things, and things that cannot be except from God.  But by Hyle I mean a certain material absolutely formless and without quality, whence those qualities that we perceive are formed, as the ancients said.  For hence also wood is called in Greek ὕλη, because it is adapted to workmen, not that itself may make anything, but that it is the material of which something may be made.  Nor is that Hyle, therefore, to be called an evil which cannot be perceived through any appearance, but can scarcely be thought of through any sort of privation of appearance.  For this has also a capacity of forms; for if it cannot receive the form imposed by the workman, neither assuredly may it be called material.  Hence if form is some good, whence those who excel in it are called beautiful, 1088 as from appearance they are called handsome, 1089 even the capacity of form is undoubtedly something good.  As because wisdom is a good, no one doubts that to be capable of wisdom is a good.  And because every good is from God, no one ought to doubt that even matter, if there is any, has its existence from God alone.






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