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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin.: Chapter 23

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 23.—His Fourth Quotation.

We have read all about the mother of the Maccabean youths, who was really more fruitful in virtues when her children suffered than of children when they were born; how she exhorted them to constancy, speaking in this wise: “I cannot tell, my sons, how ye came into my womb. For it was not I who gave you spirit and soul, nor was it I that formed the members of every one of you; but it was God, who also made the world, and all things that are therein; who, moreover, formed the generation of men; and searches the action 2372 of all; and who will Himself of His great mercy restore to you your spirit and soul.” 2373 All this we know; but how it supports this man’s assertion we do not see. For what Christian would deny that God gives to men soul and spirit? But similarly, I suppose that he cannot deny that God gives to men their tongue, and ear, and hand, and foot, and all their bodily sensations, and the form and nature of all their limbs. For how is he going to deny all these to be the gifts of God, unless he forgets that he is a Christian? As, however, it is evident that these were made by Him, and bestowed on man by propagation; so also the question must arise, by what means man’s spirit and soul are formed by Him; by what efficiency given to man—from the parents, or from nothing, or (as this man asserts, in a sense which we must by all means guard against) from some existing nature of the divine breath, not created out of nothing, but out of His own self?



Actum; another reading is ortum, more in accordance with the Greek γένεσιν, the meaning of which would be: “Searches the origin of all things.”


2 Macc. 7:22, 23.

Next: Chapter 24

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