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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin.: Chapter 20

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 20 [XIV.]—The Body Does Not Receive God’s Image.

But I pass by all this, lest the discussion between us should degenerate into one of names rather than things. Let us, then, see whether the inner man be the soul, or the spirit, or both. I observe, however, that you have expressed p. 363 your opinion on the point in writing, calling the inner man the soul; for of this you spoke when you said: “And as the substance congealed, which was incapable of comprehension, it would produce another body within the body rounded and amassed by the force and twirl of its own nature, and thus an inner man would begin to appear, who, being moulded in a corporeal sheath would in its lineaments be shaped after the likeness of its outer man.” And from this you draw the following inference: “God’s breath, therefore, made the soul; yea, that breath from God was made the soul, an image, substantial, corporeal according to its own nature, like its own body, and conformed to its image.” After this you proceed to speak of the spirit, and say: “This soul which had its origin from the breath of God could not exist without an innermost sense and intellect of its own; and such is the spirit.” As I, then, understand your statement, you mean the inner man to be the soul, and the inmost one to be the spirit; as if the latter were inferior to the soul, as this is to the body. Whence it comes to pass, that just as the body receives another body pervading its own inner cavity, which (as you suppose) is the soul; so in its turn must the soul be regarded as having its interior emptiness also, where it could receive the third body, even the spirit; and thus the whole man consists of three, the outer, the inner, and the inmost. Now, do you not yet perceive what great absurdities follow in your wake, when you attempt the asseveration that the soul is corporeal? Tell me, I pray you, which of the two is it that is to be renewed in the knowledge of God, after the image of Him that created him?  2481 The inner, or the inmost? For my own part, indeed, I do not see that the apostle, besides the inner and the outer man, knows anything of another man inside the inner one, that is, of an inmost man. But you must decide which it is you would have to be renewed after the image of God. How is he to receive this, who has already got the image of the outer man? For if the inner man has run throughout the limbs of the outward one, and congealed (for this is the term you have used; as if a molten shape were formed out of soft clay, which was thickened out of the dust), how, if this same figure which has been impressed upon it, or rather expressed out of a body, is to retain its place, could it be refashioned after the image of God? Is it to have two images—God’s from above, that of the body from below—as is said in the case of money, “Heads and Tails”? 2482 Will you perhaps say, that the soul received the bodily image, and that the spirit takes God’s image, as if the former were contiguous to the body, and the latter to God; and that, therefore, it is really the inmost man which is refashioned after the image of God, and not the inner man? Well, but this pretence is useless. For if the inmost man is as entirely diffused through all the members of the soul, as the inner man of the soul is through the limbs of the body; even it has now, through the soul, received the image of the body, as the soul moulded the same; and thus it results that it has no means whereby to receive God’s image, while the afore-mentioned image of the body remains impressed upon it; except as in the case of the money which I have just quoted, where there is one form on the upper surface, and another on the lower one. These are the absurd lengths to which you are driven, whether you will or no, when you apply to the consideration of the soul the material ideas of bodily substances. But, as even you yourself with perfect propriety confess, God is not a body. How, then, could a body receive His image? “I beseech you, brother, that you be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind;” 2483 and cherish not “the carnal mind, which is death.” 2484



Col. iii. 10.


Caput et Navia, literally “head and ship,” the piece of money having a head of Janus on one side, and a ship on the other. See the matter illustrated in Macrobius, Saturnalia, i. 7, Aur. Vict. Orig. 3.


Rom. 12:1, 2.


Rom. viii. 6.

Next: Chapter 21

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