Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel). Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903) -- Book 11



Preface concerning the argument.  p. 507 c
I. How the philosophy of Plato followed that of the Hebrews in the most essential points  p. 508 d
II. Atticus on the threefold division, of Plato's philosophy  p. 509 b
III. Aristocles on the philosophy of Plato  p. 510 b
IV. On the ethical doctrines of the Hebrews  p. 511 d
V. On the logical method of the Hebrews  p. 513 a
VI. On the correctness of Hebrew names  p. 514 d
VII. On the natural philosophy of the Hebrews  p. 521 a
VIII. On the philosophy of the intelligible world  p. 523 b
IX. Moses and Plato on true being  p. 523 d
X. Extract from Numenius, the Pythagorean, Concerning the good, Bk. ii  p. 525 c
XI. From Plutarch's treatise entitled On the Εἶ at Delphi   p. 527 d
XII. That the divine nature is ineffable  p. 529 d
XIII. That God is One only  p. 530 c
XIV. On the Second Cause  p. 531 d
XV. Philo on the Second Cause  p. 533 b
XVI. Plato on the Second Cause  p. 534 b
XVII. Plotinus on the same  p. 535 b
XVIII. Numenius on the Second Cause  p. 536 d
XIX. Amelius on the theology of our Evangelist John  p. 540 b
XX. On the three primary Hypostases  p. 541 b
XXI. On the essence of the good  p. 542 a
XXII. Numenius on the good  p. 543 b
XXIII. On the Ideas in Plato  p. 545 a
XXIV. Philo on the Ideas in Moses  p. 546 d
XXV. Clement on the same  p. 548 d
XXVI. The Hebrews and Plato on the adverse powers  p. 549 c
XXVII. The Hebrews and Plato on the immortality of the soul.  p. 550 c
XXVIII. Porphyry on the same  p. 554 b
XXIX. That the world is created  p. 557 c
XXX. On the luminaries in heaven  p. 558 b
XXXI. That all the works of God are good  p. 558 d
XXXII. On the alteration and change of the world  p. 559 a
XXXIII. On the return of the dead to life, from the same  p. 561 b
XXXIV. Again concerning the end of the world  p. 562 a
XXXV. That Plato records that dead have been raised in accordance with the statements of the Hebrews  p. 562 d
XXXVI. Plutarch on the like matter  p. 563 d
XXXVII. That Plato describes the so-called celestial earth in like manner as the Hebrews  p. 564 d
XXXVIII. That Plato agrees with the Hebrews in believing that there will be the judgement after death  p. 567 b


THE preceding Book, which is the tenth of the Evangelical Preparation, was intended to prove by no statements of my own, but by external testimonies, that as the Greeks had contributed no additional wisdom from their own resources, but only their force and elegance of language, and had borrowed all their philosophy from Barbarians, it was not improbable that they were also not unacquainted with the Hebrew Oracles, but had in part seized upon them also; seeing that they did not keep their hands clean from theft even of the literary efforts of their own countrymen. For, as I said, it was not my statement but their own that proved them to be thieves.

Moreover in the same Book we learned by the comparison of dates that they were very young in age as well as in wisdom, and fell very far short of the ancient literature of the Hebrews.

Such were the contents of the preceding Book: but in this present one we hasten on at once to pay as it were a debt, I mean the promise which was given, and to exhibit the agreement of the Greek philosophers with the Hebrew Oracles in some if not in all their doctrinal theories. Dismissing therefore those of whom it is superfluous to speak, we call up the leader of the whole band, deeming it right to adopt as umpire of the question Plato alone as equivalent to all: since it is likely that as he surpassed all in reputation he will be sufficient by himself for the settlement of our question.

But if at any point it should be necessary, for the sake of giving clearness to his thought, I shall also make use of the testimony of those who have studied his philosophy, and shall set forth their own words for the settlement of the question before us.

Let me, however, make this reservation, that not every matter has been successfully stated by the master, although he has expressed most things in accordance with truth. And this very point also we shall prove at the proper season, not in order to disparage him, but in defence of the reason for which we confess that we have welcomed the Barbarian philosophy in preference to the Greek.


WHEREAS Plato divided the whole subject of philosophy into three branches, Physics, Ethics, Logic, and then again divided his Physics into the examination of sensibles, and the contemplation of incorporeals, you will find this tripartite form of teaching among the Hebrews also, seeing that they had dealt with the like matters of philosophy before Plato was born.

It will be right then to hear Plato first, and so afterwards to examine the doctrines of the Hebrews. And I shall quote the opinions of Plato from those who give the highest honour to his system; of whom Atticus, a man of distinction among the Platonic philosophers, in the work wherein he withstands those who profess to support the doctrines of Plato by those of Aristotle, recounts the opinions of his master in the following manner:


[ATTICUS] 1 'SINCE therefore the entire system of philosophy is divided into three parts, the so-called Ethical topic, and the Physical,and also the Logical; and whereas the aim of the first is to make each one of us honourable and virtuous, and to bring entire households to the highest state of improvement, and finally to furnish the whole commonalty with the most excellent civil polity and the most exact laws; while the second pertains to the knowledge of things divine, and the actual first principles and causes, and all the other things that result from them, which part Plato has named Natural Science; the third is adopted to help in determining and discovering what concerns both the former. Now that Plato before and beyond all others collected into one body all the parts of philosophy, which had till then been scattered and dispersed, like the limbs of Pentheus, as some one said, and exhibited philosophy as an organized body and a living thing complete in all its members, is manifestly asserted by every one.

'For it is not unknown that Thales, and Anaximenes, and Anaxagoras, and as many as were contemporary with them spent their time solely on the inquiry concerning the nature of existing things. Nor moreover is any one unaware that Pittacus, and Periander, and Solon, and Lycurgus, and those like them, applied their philosophy to statemanship. Zeno too, and all this Eleatic School, are also well known to have studied especially the dialectic art. But after these came Plato, a man newly initiated in the mysteries of nature and of surpassing excellence, as one verily sent down from heaven in order that the philosophy taught by him might be seen in its full proportions; for he omitted nothing, and perfected everything, neither falling short in regard to what was necessary, nor carried away to what was useless.

'Since therefore we asserted that the Platonist partakes of all three, as studying Nature, and discussing Morals, and practising Dialectic, let us now examine each point separately.'

So speaks Atticus, And the Peripatetic Aristocles also adds his testimony to the same effect, in the seventh Book of the treatise which he composed Of Philosophy, speaking thus word for word:


[ARISTOCLES] 2 'IF any man ever yet taught a genuine and complete system of philosophy, it was Plato. For the followers of Thales were constantly engaged in the study of Nature: and the school of Pythagoras wrapped all things in mystery: and Xenophanes and his followers, by stirring contentious discussions, caused the philosophers much dizziness, but yet gave them no help.

'And not least did Socrates, exactly according to the proverb, add fire to fire, as Plato himself said. For being a man of great genius, and clever in raising questions upon any and every matter, he brought moral and political speculations into philosophy, and moreover was the first who attempted to define the theory of the Ideas: but while still stirring up every kind of discussion, and inquiring about all subjects, he died too early a death.

'Others took certain separate parts and spent their time upon these, some on Medicine, others on the Mathematical Sciences, and some on the poets and Music. Most of them, however, were charmed with the powers of language, and of these some called themselves rhetoricians and others dialecticians.

'In fact the successors of Socrates were of all different kinds, and opposed to each other in their opinions. For some sang the praises of cynical habits, and humility, and insensibility; but others, on the contrary, of pleasures. And some used to boast of knowing all things, and others of knowing absolutely nothing.

'Further some used to roll themselves about in public and in the sight of all men, associating with the common people, while others on the contrary could never be approached nor accosted.

'Plato however, though he perceived that the science of things divine and human was one and the same, was the first to make a distinction, asserting that there was one kind of study concerned with the nature of the universe, and another concerned with human affairs, and a third with dialectic.

'But he maintained that we could not take a clear view of human affairs, unless the divine were previously discerned: for just as physicians, when treating any parts of the body, attend first to the state of the whole, so the man who is to take a clear view of things here on earth must first know the nature of the universe; and man, he said, was a part of the world; and good was of two kinds, our own good and that of the whole, and the good of the whole was the more important, because the other was for its sake.

'Now Aristoxenus the Musician says that this argument comes from the Indians: for a certain man of that nation fell in with Socrates at Athens, and presently asked him, what he was doing in philosophy: and when he said, that he was studying human life, the Indian laughed at him, and said that no one could comprehend things human, if he were ignorant of things divine.

'Whether this, however, is true no one could assert positively: but Plato at all events distinguished the philosophy of the universe, and that of civil polity, and also that of dialectic.'

Such being the philosophy of Plato, it is time to examine also that of the Hebrews, who had studied philosophy in the like manner long before Plato was born. Accordingly you will find among them also this corresponding tripartite division of Ethical, and Dialectical, and Physical studies, by setting yourself to observe in the following manner:


As to Ethics then, if you thoroughly examine what the Hebrews taught, you will find that this subject before all others was zealously studied among them in deeds much earlier than in words. Since as the end of all good, and the final term of a happy life, they both admired and pursued religion and that friendship with God which is secured by the right direction of moral habits; but not bodily pleasure, like Epicurus; nor again the threefold kinds of good, according to Aristotle, who esteems the good of the body, and external good on an equality with the good of the soul; no, nor yet the utter void of knowledge and instruction, which some have announced by a more respectable name as 'suspension of judgement'; nay, nor even the virtue of the soul; for how much is there of this in men, and what can it contribute by itself without God to the life that knows no sorrow?

For the sake of that life they fastened their all on hope in God, as a cable that could not break, and declared that the friend of God was the only happy man: because God the dispenser of all good, the purveyor of life and fountain of virtue itself, being the provider of all good things for the body, and of outward fortune, must be alone sufficient for the happy life to the man who by thoroughly true religion has secured His friendship.

Hence Moses, the wisest of men and the first of all to commit to writing the life of the godly Hebrews before his time, has described in an historical narrative their mode of life both political and practical. In beginning that narrative he drew his teaching from universal principles, assuming God as the cause of the universe, and describing the creation of the world and of man.

Thus from universal principles he next advanced in his argument to particulars, and by the memory of the men of old urged his disciples on to emulation of their virtue and piety; and moreover being himself declared the author of the holy laws enacted by him, it must be manifest that on all points he was careful to promote the love of God by his attention to moral habits, a point which in fact our argument anticipated and made clear in what has gone before.

It would be too long to set down in this place the prophets who came in succession after Moses, and their arguments to encourage virtue, and dissuade from all kinds of vice. But what if I were to bring before you the moral precepts of the all-wise Solomon, to which he devoted a special treatise and called it a book of Proverbs, including in one subject many concise judgements of the nature of apophthegms?

And in this way from old times, before the Greeks had learned even the first letters, the Hebrews were both themselves instructed in the ethical branch, and freely imparted of the same instruction to those who came to them.


ALSO the dialectic branch of Hebrew philosophy they thought it right to pursue not, as the Greeks were wont, with clever sophistries, and arguments cunningly framed to deceive, but by the conception of actual truth, which with souls illumined by divine light their religious philosophers discovered, and were by it enlightened.

And to make those who were being instructed in the learning of their country more keen in pursuit of this truth, they used even from the age of infancy to deliver to them recitations of holy words, and tales from sacred histories, and metrical compositions of psalms and canticles, problems also and riddles, and certain wise and allegorical theories, combined with beauty of language, and eloquent recitation in their own tongue.

Moreover they had certain expositors (δευτερωταί) of primary instruction (for so it pleases them to name the interpreters of their scriptures), who by translation and explanation made clear what was obscurely taught in riddles, if not to all, at least to those who were fitted to hear these things.

Thus again Solomon the wisest among them started from this principle in the beginning of his book of Proverbs, teaching us that this was mainly the cause of his writing, by stating in express terms that every man ought to know wisdom, and instruction, and to discern the words of understanding, and to perceive the turns of language, and understand true righteousness, and give right judgement. 'That I may give,' he says, 'subtilty to the simple, and to the young man perception and thoughtfulness. For the wise man will hear these things and be wiser, and the man of understanding will obtain guidance: he will understand a proverb and a dark saying, the words of the wise, and riddles.' 3

Suet were the terms of the promise of the said book: and the particular Questions proposed and their solutions, and the dialectic treatment carried through all their prophetic scriptures in a manner proper to the wisdom and language of the authors, any one who wishes may learn by taking in hand and studying at leisure the books of their discourse. And if any one were also to study the language itself with critical taste, he would see that, for Barbarians, the writers are excellent dialecticians, not at all inferior to sophists or orators in his own language.

There would also be found among them poems in metre, like the great Song of Moses and David's 118th Psalm, composed in what the Greeks call heroic metre. At least it is said that these are hexameters, consisting of sixteen syllables: also their other compositions in verse are said to consist of trimeter and tetrameter lines, according to the sound of their own language.

While such is the relation of their diction to its logical sense, the thoughts must not be brought into comparison with those of men. For they comprise the oracles of God and of absolute truth to which they have given utterance, prophecies, and predictions, and religious lessons, and doctrines relating to the knowledge of the universe.

And of the authors' accuracy in reasoning you may find indications from their correctness in the application of names, concerning which it will be evident that Plato also bears witness to the opinion of the Hebrews, and is on this very point in agreement with the philosophy of their authors, as indeed it is easy to discern from what follows.


LONG before the name of philosophy was known to the Greeks, Moses had been the first throughout all his writing to treat in numberless instances of the giving of names, and sometimes had arranged the names of all things about him in exact accordance with their nature, and at other times referred to God the decision of the new name given to devout men, and had taught that names are given to things by nature and not conventionally; Plato in following him assents to the same opinions, and does not omit to mention Barbarians, and affirm that this custom is maintained among them, hinting probably at the Hebrews, since it is not easy to observe a theory of this kind among other Barbarians.

He says, at all events, in the Cratylus:

[PLATO] 'The name of anything is not whatever men agree to call it, pronouncing over it some small portion of their own language, but there is a kind of natural correctness in names, the same for all both Greeks and Barbarians.' 4

And then farther on he says:

'So then as long as the legislator, whether here or among the Barbarians, assigns to each thing the form of name that properly belongs to it, whatever syllables he may use, you will not deem him to be a worse legislator, whether in this country or anywhere else.' 5

Then again after asserting that the man who understands the correctness of names is a dialectician and a legislator, he next speaks thus: 6

'A carpenter's work then is to make a rudder under the superintendence of a pilot, if the rudder is to be a good one.


'And a legislator's work, as it seems, is to give a name, having a dialectician to direct him, if the name is to be rightly given.

'That is true.

'The giving of names then, Hermogenes, is likely to be no light matter, as you suppose, nor a work for light persons, nor for chance comers: and Cratylus speaks truly, when he says that things have their names by nature, and that not every one is an artist in names, but only that man who looking to the name which by nature belongs to each thing is able to impose its form upon both the letters and the syllables.'

After these statements, and many more, he again brings up the mention of the Barbarians, and then expressly acknowledges that most of the names have come to the Greeks from the Barbarians, saying in exact words: 7

'I have an idea that the Greeks, and especially those who live under the Barbarians, have taken many names from them.

'Well, what then?

'If any one should try to find how these names are fitly given according to the Greek language, and not according to that language from which each name happens to be derived, you know that he would be in difficulty.


So says Plato. He is anticipated, however, by Moses; for hear what he says, as being a wise legislator and withal a dialectician. 'And out of the ground God formed all the beasts of the field and all the fowls of the heaven, and brought them to Adam, to see what he would call them. And whatsoever Adam called a living being, that was the name thereof.' 8

For by saying 'that was the name thereof does he not show that the appellations were given in accordance with nature? For the name just now given, he says, was long before contained in the nature, and that in each of the things named there existed from the beginning this name which the said man inspired by a superior power has given it.

Moreover the very name Adam, being originally a Hebrew noun, would become with Moses an appellation of the earth-born man, because among the Hebrews the earth is called Adam, wherefore also the first man made out of the earth is with true etymology called by Moses Adam.

But the name may also have another meaning, being otherwise taken for 'red,' and representing the natural colour of the body. However, by the appellation 'Adam' he signified the earthlike, and earthly, and earthborn, or the man of body and of flesh.

But the Hebrews also call man otherwise, giving him the name 'Enos,' 9 which they say is the rational man within us, different in nature from the earthlike 'Adam.' Enos also has a meaning of its own, being in the Greek language interpreted 'forgetful.'

And such the rational part within us is by nature apt to be, on account of its combination with the mortal and irrational part. For the one being altogether pure, and incorporeal, and divine, and rational, comprehends not only the memory of the things that are past, but also the knowledge of the things that are to come, through the supreme excellence of its vision. While the other close-packed in flesh, pierced through with bones and nerves, and laden with the great and heavy burden of the body, was seen by the Hebrew Scripture to be full of forgetfulness and ignorance, and called by an apt designation 'Enos,' which means 'the forgetful.'

It is written at least in a certain Prophet 'What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?' 10 For which the Hebrew, in the first naming of 'man,' contains the word 'Enos': as if he said more plainly, What is this forgetful one, that Thou, O God, rememberest him, forgetful though he is? And the other clause, 'Or the son of man that Thou visitest him? is read among the Hebrews, 'Or the son of Adam': so that the same man is both Adam and Enos; the fleshly nature being represented by Adam, and the rational by Enos.

In this way do the Hebrew oracles distinguish the etymology of the two words. But Plato asserts that man is called ἄνθρωπος in the Greek language from looking upward, saying:

'But man no sooner sees, that is the meaning of ὄπωπε, than he both looks up (ἀναθρεῖ), and considers that which he has seen, that he may be one who looks up at what he sees (ἀναθρῶν ἂ ὄπωπε).'  11

Again the Hebrews call the man 'Ish' (Εἷς): and the name is derived by them from Ἔς, by which they signify fire, that the man may be so named because of the hot and fiery temper of the masculine nature.

But the woman, since she is said to have been taken out of man, also shares the name in common with the man: for the woman is called among them 'Issha,' as the man is 'Ish.' But Plato says that the man (ἀνήρ) is so named because of the upward flux (τὴν ἄνω ῥοήν); and he adds----

'And γυνή (woman) seems to me to be the same as γονή (birth).' 12

Again Moses calls the heaven in the Hebrew tongue the firmament etymologically, because the first thing after the incorporeal and intellectual essence is the firm and sensible body of this world. But Plato says that the name οὐρανός is rightly given to the heaven, because it makes us look upward (ὁραν ἄνω). 13

Again the Hebrews say that the highest and proper name of God may not be spoken or uttered, nor even conceived in the imagination of the mind: but this actual name by which they speak of God, they call Elohim, from El, as it seems: and this they interpret as 'strength,' and 'power'; so that among them the name of God has been derived by reasoning from His power and strength, by which He is conceived as Allpowerful and Almighty, as having established all things. But Plato says that the names θεός and θεοί (god and gods) were given because the luminaries in heaven are always running (θέειν). 14

Of some such kind, to speak generally, are the investigations of the Hebrews and those of Plato on the correctness of names. The names also among men, Plato says, have been given with some meaning, and he tries to render the reason of them: for he says that Hector somehow or other is named from having and ruling (ἔχειν καὶ κρατεῖν) because he was king of the Trojans;15 and Agamemnon because he was very persistent (ἄγαν μένειν), and persevered vigorously and constantly in his determinations about the Trojans;16 Orestes because of the mountainous (ὀρεινόν) and fierce and savage quality of his disposition;17 and Atreus, because of his having been a mischievous (ἀτηρόν) sort of person in character;18 and Pelops as one who saw nothing at a distance, but only the things that were close and near (πέλας).19 Tantalus, he says, means a most miserable man (ταλάντατον) because of the misfortunes which beset him.20

These examples and countless others such as these you will find stated by Plato, in endeavouring to teach that the first men had their names given to them by nature and not by convention.

But you would not say that the explanations found also in Moses are forced, nor framed according to any sophistical invention of words, when you have learnt that the Hebrew 'Cain' is translated among the Greeks as 'jealousy'; and the person in question was judged deserving of this appellation because he was jealous of his brother Abel. 21

'Abel' also is interpreted 'sorrow,' because he too became the cause of such suffering to his parents, who by some diviner foresight gave these names to their children at birth.

But what if I should quote Abraham to you? He was a kind of meteorologist, and formerly, while he was acquiring the wisdom of the Chaldees, he had become learned in the contemplation of the stars and in the knowledge of the heavens, and was called Abram; and this in the Greek language means 'high father.'

But God leading him on from things of this world to things invisible and lying beyond the things that are seen, employs an appropriate change of name, saying, 'Thy name shall no more be called Abram, but Abraham shall be thy name; for a father of many nations have I made thee.' 22

Now it would be long to tell with what thought this is connected: but it is sufficient in this matter also to adopt Plato as a witness to my statement, when he says that some names have been given by a more divine power.

He says indeed in express words:

'For here most of all ought care to have been taken in the giving of names: and perhaps some of them may even have been given by a higher power than that of men.' 23

This very point is also certified by many examples in the sacred Scriptures of the Hebrews; and first of all by Moses, who taught that Abraham, and his son Isaac, and also Israel, received their names from a diviner power. 'Isaac' is interpreted 'laughter,' bringing with it the token of the virtuous joy, which God has promised to give as a special reward to the friends of God.

His son Israel had formerly borne the name of 'Jacob,' but instead of 'Jacob' God bestows upon him the name 'Israel,' transforming the active and practical man into the contemplative.  24

For 'Jacob' is interpreted 'supplanter,' as one who strives in the contest of virtue:25 but 'Israel' is interpreted 'seeing God,' a description which would suit the mind in man that is capable of knowledge and contemplation.26

Why need I now refer to the perfect wisdom of Moses, or to the sacred oracles of the Hebrews, to explain, by countless other examples, the correctness of their imposition of proper names, when the details of the subject require longer leisure?

To go no farther, the Greeks would be unable to state the etymologies even of the letters of the alphabet, nor could Plato himself tell the meaning or the reason of the vowels or the consonants.

But the Hebrews would tell us the reason of 'Alpha,' which with them is called 'Al'ph,' and this signifies 'learning':27 and of 'Beta,' which it is their custom to call 'Beth,' which name they give to a house; so as to show the meaning, 'learning of a house,' or as it might be more plainly expressed, 'a kind of teaching and learning of household economy.'

'Gamma' also is with them called 'Gimel': and this is their name for 'fullness.' Then since they call tablets 'Delth,' they gave this name to the fourth letter, signifying therewith by the two letters, that 'written learning is a filling of the tablets.'

And any one going over the remaining letters of the alphabet, would find that they have been named among the Hebrews each with some cause and reason. For they say also that the combination of the seven vowels contains the enunciation of one forbidden name, which the Hebrews indicate by four letters and apply to the supreme power of God, having received the tradition from father to son that this is something unutterable and forbidden to the multitude.

And one of the wise Greeks having learned this, I know not whence, hinted it obscurely in verse, saying as follows:

'Seven vowels tell My Name,----the Mighty God, 
The everlasting Father of mankind: 
The immortal lyre am I, that guides the world, 
And leads the music of the circling spheres.'  28

You would find also the meanings of the remaining Hebrew letters, by fixing your attention on each; but this we have already established by our former statements, when we were showing that the Greeks have received help in everything from the Barbarians.

And any one diligently studying the Hebrew language would discover great correctness of names current among that people: since the very name which is the appellation of the whole race has been derived from Heber; and this means the man that 'passes over,' since both a passage and the one who passes over are called in the Hebrew language 'Heber.' 29

For the term teaches us to cross over and pass from the things in this world to things divine, and by no means to stay lingering over the sight of the things that are seen, but to pass from these to the unseen and invisible things of divine knowledge concerning the Maker and Artificer of the world. Thus the first people who were devoted to the one All-ruler and Cause of the Universe, and adhered to Him with a pure and true worship, they called Hebrews, naming men of this character as travellers who had in mind passed over from earthly things.

But why should I spend more time in collecting all the instances of the propriety and correctness of the Hebrew names, when the subject requires a special treatise of its own. However, speaking generally, I think that even by what has been said I have supplied the evidence of the art of reasoning among the Hebrews: if indeed, as Plato said, it is a task for no mean or ordinary men, but for a wise lawgiver and dialectician, to discover the kind of names naturally belonging to things,----a man such as Moses who has made known to us the Hebrew oracles. So then what follows next after the subject of Dialectics, but to examine what was the condition of the Hebrew people in regard to Physics?


THIS third branch also of Hebrew philosophy which, we said, is Physics, was divided among them also into the contemplation of things incorporeal and discerned only by the mind, and the Natural Science of things sensible. This too their all-accomplished Prophets knew, and mingled in their own discourses, when the occasion required; for they had not learned it by conjectures and by application of human thought, nor did they boast of men as their teachers, but ascribed their knowledge to the inspiration of a Higher Power, and the afflatus of a divine Spirit.

From this source came their countless prophecies concerning future events, and countless physical explanations of the constitution of the world, and descriptions likewise countless of the nature of animals, and very many things concerning plants which each set down in his own prophecies.

And Moses, understanding also the qualities of precious stones extremely well, exercises a very careful consideration of them in the case of the High Priest's dress. Again that Solomon, above all others, excelled in knowledge of the nature of such things is testified by the sacred Scripture in the following words:

'And Solomon spake three thousand proverbs, and his songs were five thousand; and he spake of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes. And there came all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, as many as heard his wisdom.'  30

Starting from this description the author who ascribed to his person the perfection of wisdom, spake also thus: 'For Himself gave me an unerring knowledge of the things that are, to know the constitution of the world, and the operation of the elements; the beginning and end and middle of times, the alternations of the solstices and the changes of seasons, the circuits of the year and the positions of stars; the natures of living creatures and the ragings of wild beasts, the violences of winds and the thoughts of men, the diversities of plants, and the virtues of roots; and all things that are either secret or manifest I learned, for Wisdom the artificer of all things taught me.'  31

And again the same Solomon, explaining the nature of the fleeting substance of bodies, says in Ecclesiastes: 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. What profit hath man in all his labour, wherein he laboureth under the Sun.' 32 And he adds: 'What is that which hath been? The very thing that shall be. And what is that which hath been done? The very thing that shall be done. And there is nothing new under the sun.' 33

For these and such as these were his physiological conclusions concerning corporeal substance. And you will find, if you go on, that the other wise Hebrews were not without a share of the like science. At all events, as I said before, there are numberless sayings of theirs about plants and animals, whether of the land or of the water, and moreover about the nature of birds.

Nay further, about the constellations in the heaven also: since there is conveyed in the writings of the said authors especial mention of Arctos and Pleias, Orion and Arcturus, which the Greeks are wont to call Arctophylax and Bootes.

Also concerning the constitution of the world, and the revolution and change of the universe, and concerning the essence of the soul, and the creation of the nature both visible and invisible, of all rational beings, and the universal Providence, and still earlier than these, the . opinions concerning the First Cause of the universe, and the doctrine of the divinity of the Second Cause, and the arguments and speculations about the other things thai can be perceived only by thought, they have comprehended accurately and well: so that one would not err in saying, that those among the Greeks who have afterwards investigated the nature of these things have been like younger men following the guidance of the old.

This then is what we have to say of their Natural Science of the Universe. But as they divided this subject into two parts, the one which concerns things perceived by the senses they did not think it necessary to make known accurately to the multitude, nor to teach the common people the causes of the nature of existing things, except only so far as it was necessary for them to know that the universe has not been self-created, and has not been produced causelessly and by chance from an irrational impetus, but is led on by the Divine Reason as its guide, and governed by a power of ineffable Wisdom.

With regard, however, to things seen only by the mind, that they exist, and what they are, and what their condition is in regard to arrangement, power, and diversity, has been already mentioned and is laid down in the Sacred Books, and has been audibly delivered to all men, so far as the knowledge was necessary for those who profess religion, with a view to the recovery of a pious and sober life.

But the deep and occult reason of these things they left to be sought out and learned in secret communications by those who were capable of being initiated in matters of this kind. It will be well, however, to describe in a general way a few points in the contemplation of these matters, and to show that herein also Plato entertained the sentiments which were dear to the said people.


BUT in fact it is manifest from his own words that the admirable Plato followed the all-wise Moses and the Hebrew Prophets in regard also to the teaching and speculation about things incorporeal and seen only by the mind; whether it were that he learned from hearsay which had reached him (since he is proved to have made his studies among the Egyptians at the very time when the Hebrews, having been driven the second time out of their own country, were in the habit of visiting Egypt during the Persian supremacy), or whether of himself he hit upon the true nature of the things, or, in whatever way, was deemed worthy of this knowledge by God. 'For God,' says the Apostle, 'manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived by means of the things that are made, even His eternal power and divinity, that they may be without excuse.' 34 And you may learn what I have stated by examining the matter as follows:


MOSES in his declarations of sacred truth uttered a response in the person of God: 'I AM THAT I AM. Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you,' 35 and so represented God as the sole absolute Being, and declared Him to have been properly and fitly honoured with this name.

And Solomon again spake concerning the origin and the decay of things corporeal and sensible: 'What is that which hath been? The very thing that shall be. And what is that which hath been done? The very thing that shall be done. And there is nothing new under the sun, whereof a man shall speak and say, See, this is new. It hath been already, in the ages which were before us.' 36

In accordance with them we also divide the All into two parts, that which can be perceived only by the mind, and that which can be perceived by the senses: and the former we define as incorporeal and rational in its nature, and imperishable and immortal; but the sensible as being always in flux and decay, and in change and conversion of its substance. And all things being summed up and referred to one beginning, we hold the doctrine that the uncreate, and that which has proper and true being, is One, which is the cause of all things incorporeal and corporeal.

Now see in what manner Plato, having imitated not only the thought, but also the very expressions and words of the Hebrew Scripture, appropriates the doctrine, explaining it more at large, as follows:

'What is that which always is and has no becoming? And what is that which is always becoming and never is? The former is that which may be comprehended by intelligence combined with reason, being always in the same conditions. The latter is that which may be conjectured by opinion with the help of unreasoning sensation, becoming and perishing but never really being.' 37

Does it not plainly appear that the admirable philosopher has altered the oracle which in Moses declared 'I AM THAT I AM' 38 into 'What is that which always is and has no becoming?' And this he has made still clearer when he says that true 'being' is nothing else than that which is not seen by eyes of flesh, but is conceived by the mind. So having asked, What is 'being'? he makes answer to himself, saying: 'That which may be comprehended by intelligence combined with reason.' 

And as to Solomon's maxim which said, 'What is that which hath been? The very thing that shall be. And what is that which hath been done? The very thing that shall be done,' 39 it must be evident that he translated this almost in the very words, saying, 'But that which may be conjectured by means of irrational sensation is becoming and perishing, but never really "being."' To which he also adds: 40

'For all these are parts of time, the "was" and "shall be"; which we unconsciously but wrongly transfer to the eternal essence. For we say that "It was, and is, and shall be." But to this essence the "is" alone is truly appropriate; and the "was" and the "will be" are proper to be spoken of the generation in time, for they are movements. But to that which is always immovably in the same conditions it belongs not to become either older or younger through time: nor that it ever became, nor has now become, nor will be hereafter at all, nor be subject to any of the conditions which becoming attaches to the things which pass to and fro in sensation: but these are forms of time, imitating eternity and moving by number in a circle. And besides these there are such expressions as the following; what has become is become, and what becomes is becoming, and what will become is about to become.'

And lest any one should suppose that I am misinterpreting the philosopher's words, I will make use of commentaries which explain the meaning of these statements. There are indeed many who have set themselves to the consideration of these matters; but at present it is enough for me to quote the expressions of an illustrious man, Numenius the Pythagorean, which he uses in his second Book Concerning the Good, as follows:


[NUMENIUS] 41 'COME then, let us mount up as nearly as we possibly can to true "being," and let us say that "being" neither at any time "was," nor ever can "become," but always "is" in a definite time, the present only.

'If, however, any one wishes to rename this present time eternity, I too am willing. But the time past we ought to consider altogether gone, already so gone away and escaped as to exist no longer: and on the other hand the time to come as yet is not, but professes to be able at some future time to come into being.

'It is not therefore reasonable to suppose "being," at least in one and the same sense, either not to be or to be no longer, or not yet. Since when this is so stated, there arises in the statement one great impossibility, that the same thing at the same time should both be and not be.

'For if this were so, scarcely would it be possible for anything else to be, if "being" itself in regard to its very "being" be not. For "being" is eternal and constant, ever in the same condition, nor has it been generated and destroyed, nor increased and diminished: nor did it ever yet become more or less: and certainly neither in other senses nor yet locally will it be moved.

'For it is not right for it to be moved, either backward or forward: nor upward ever, nor downward: neither to the right hand nor to the left shall "being" ever pass: nor shall it ever be moved around its own centre; but rather it shall stand fast, and shall be fixed and set firm, ever in the same conditions and same mode.'

And then, after other statements, he adds:

'So much then for my introduction. But for my own part I will no longer make pretences, nor say that I do not know the name of the incorporeal; for now at length it seems likely to be pleasanter to speak than not to speak it. And so then I say that its name is that which we have so long been examining.

'But let no one laugh, if I affirm that the name of the incorporeal is "essence" and "being." And the cause of the name "being" is that it has not been generated nor will be destroyed, nor is it subject to any other motion at all, nor any change for better or for worse; but is simple and unchangeable, and in the same idea, and neither willingly departs from its sameness, nor is compelled by any other to depart.

'Plato too said in the Cratylus 42 that names are exactly adapted to a likeness of the things. Be it granted then and agreed that "being" is the incorporeal.'

Then lower down he adds:

'I said that "being" is incorporeal, and that this is that which can be perceived by the mind only. Their statements then, so far as I can remember, were certainly of this kind: but any one who feels the want of an explanation I am willing to encourage with just this suggestion, that if these statements do not agree with the doctrines of Plato, yet at least he must consider them to be those of some other great man of the highest ability, such as Pythagoras.

'Plato at all events says 43 ----come, let me remember how he says it----What is that which, always is and has no becoming? And what that which is always becoming, and never is? The first that which may be comprehended by intelligence combined with reason, and the other that which may be conjectured by opinion with the aid of unreasoning sensation, becoming and perishing, but never really "being."

'For he was inquiring what is "being," and saying that it is unquestionably without beginning. For he said that for "being" there is no becoming: for then it would be changed, but that which is liable to change is not eternal.'

Then below he says:

'If then "being" is altogether and in every way eternal and unchangeable, and by no means departs in any way from itself, but abides in the same conditions, and remains fixed in the same manner, this surely must be that which can be comprehended by intelligence combined with reason.

'But if body is in flux and is carried off by the change of the moment, it passes away and no longer exists. Wherefore is it not utter folly to deny that this is something undefinable, and that can only be conjectured by opinion, and, as Plato says, becoming and perishing, but never really "being"? '

Thus then speaks Numenius, explaining clearly both Plato's doctrines and the much earlier doctrines of Moses. With reason therefore is that saying currently attributed to him, in which it is recorded that he said, 'For what else is Plato than Moses speaking Attic Greek?'

But see, besides this, whether Plutarch in further unfolding the same thought may not agree both with the statements of philosophers which have been brought forward, and the theological doctrines of the Hebrews set forth again in other places, whereby at one time the God who makes answer is introduced as saying: 44 'For I am the LORD your God, and I am not changed': and at another time the Prophet directs his speech with a view to Him, saying that the things which are seen would all some time be changed and removed, 'but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.' 45 Observe then whether----when He who spake in Moses, as if proposing a question, said,'I AM THAT I AM,' and, 'I am the LORD your God, and I am not changed': and again, 'But Thou art (εἶ) the same'----whether, I say. Plutarch would not seem to be interpreting the meaning of this in his treatise Concerning the Εἶ at Delphi, when he speaks word for word thus: 46


'NEITHER number therefore, nor order, nor conjunction, nor any other of the non-significant particles, does the letter seem to indicate. But it is an address and appellation of the god complete in itself, which as soon as the word is uttered sets the speaker thinking of the power of the god.

'For the god, welcoming as it were each of us who approach him here, addresses to us the words "Know thyself," which is nothing less than "Hail": and we answering the god again say "Thou art" (Εἶ), rendering to him the appellation of "being" as his true and unerring and solely appropriate name.

'For we have in reality no share in "being," but every mortal nature is set in the midst between becoming and perishing, and presents a phantom and a faint and uncertain seeming of itself.

'And if any one closely press the thought, from wishing to grasp it, then just as the violent grasping of water by pressing and squeezing it together causes what was enclosed to slip through and be lost, so when Reason seeks too much actuality in any thing passible and subject to change, it goes astray on this side to the part that is becoming, and on that to the part that is perishing, being unable to lay hold of anything permanent, or of any true "being."

'For it is not possible, according to Heracleitus,47 to step twice into the same river, nor to touch a mortal substance twice in the same condition, but by the swiftness and suddenness of its change it scatters and again collects, or rather we must not say "again" nor "afterwards," but it is at the same time both combining and passing away, both coming on and going off.

'Wherefore neither does the part that is becoming attain to being, because the becoming never ceases nor stands still; but from a seed by constant change it makes an embryo, then a babe, then a child, in due order a youth, a young man, a man, an elder, an old man, destroying the first becomings and ages by those which come after.

'We, however, are ridiculously afraid of one death, although we have already died and are dying so many. For not only, as Heracleitus used to say, is "the death of fire the birth of air," 48 but still more manifestly in our own case the man in his prime perishes when the old man is coming, and the young man has passed away into the man in his prime, and the child into the young man, and the infant into the child, and the man of yesterday has died into the man of to-day, and the man of to-day (is dying) into the man of to-morrow; and not one abides nor is one, but we become many, while matter is circulating around some one phantom and common mould, and then slipping away.

'Else how is it, if we remain the same, that we delight now in some things, formerly in others, that we love and hate the contrary things, and praise and blame, use different language, have different feelings, retain no more the same appearance, form, or thought?

'For neither is it natural to have different feelings without a change, nor can one who changes be the same. But if he is not the same, he is not, but is changing from this, and becoming other from other: and our sense, through ignorance of true "being," falsely declares the apparent to "be."

'What then is true "being"? The eternal and uncreate, and imperishable, to which no time brings change. For time is something moveable, and imagined in connexion with the movement of matter, and ever flowing and not holding water, as it were a vessel of perishing and becoming. And so when it is said of time "after" and "before," and "will be" and "has been," there is at once an acknowledgement of "not-being."

'For to say of that which has not yet come into being, or has already ceased from being, that it "is" is silly and absurd. But at the very moment when, trying to fix our perception of time, we say "it is present," "it is here," and "now," our reason slips away again from this and loses it. For it is thrust aside into the future and into the past, just as a visual ray is distorted with those who try to see what is necessarily separated by distance.

'And if the nature which is measured is subject to the same conditions as the time which measures it, this nature itself has no permanence, nor "being," but is becoming and perishing according to its relation to time.

'Hence nothing of this kind may be said of "being," such as "was" or "will be": for these are a kind of inflexions, and transitions, and alternations of that which is not fitted by nature to continue in ''being."

'But we ought to say of God, HE is, and is in relation to no time, but in relation to eternity the motionless, and timeless, and changeless, in which is no "before" nor "after," nor future, nor past, nor elder nor younger: but being One He has filled the "Ever" with the one "Now"; and is the sole self-dependent real "Being," having neither past nor future, without beginning and without end.

'Thus then ought we in worship to salute and address Him, or even indeed as some of the ancients did, THOU ART ONE, For the Deity is not many, as each of us is, a promiscuous assemblage of all kinds compounded of numberless differences arising in its conditions: but "being" must be One, just as One must be "being": for otherness, as a differentia of "being," inclines towards a becoming of "not-being."'


WHEREAS Moses and all the Hebrew Prophets teach that the Divine nature is ineffable, and indicate the symbol of the ineffable Name by the notation which may not be pronounced among them, hear how Plato also in agreement with them speaks in his great Epistle word for word.

[Ps.-PLATO] 'For it can by no means be defined in words as other branches of learning, but from long converse on the subject itself, and from living with it, on a sudden a light, as it were kindled from a spark leaping out of the fire, comes to the soul, and thenceforth is self-sustained.' 49

This example also of 'light' another Hebrew Prophet had previously set forth, saying, 'The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, was shown upon us.' 50 And again another, 'In Thy light shall we see light.' 51


As Moses declared concerning the God of all the world, 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD,' 52 Plato again concurring with him teaches that there is one God as also one heaven, speaking thus in the Timaeus:

[PLATO] 'Have we then been right in speaking of one heaven, or was it more correct to say that there are many and infinite? One, if indeed it is to have been created according to the pattern. For that which includes the ideals of all living creatures whatsoever cannot possibly be second to another.' 53

But that he has a knowledge of one God, even though in accordance with the custom of the Greeks he commonly speaks of them as many, is evident from the Epistle to Dionysius, in which, giving marks to distinguish his letters written in earnest from those thrown off at random, he said that he would put the name of 'The gods' as a sign at the head of those which contained nothing serious, but the name of 'God' at the head of those which were thoughtfully composed by him. Accordingly he thus speaks word for word: 54

[PS.-PLATO] 'With regard then to the distinctive mark concerning the letters which I may write seriously, and which not, though I suppose you remember it. nevertheless bear it in mind and give great attention to it. For there are many who bid me to write, whom it is not easy for me openly to refuse. So then the serious letter begins with "God," and the less serious with "gods." '

And the same author expressly acknowledges that he has learned the doctrine of the one 'God' from men of old, as he says in the Laws:

'God then, as the old tradition says, holding the beginning and end and middle of all things that exist, passes straight through while travelling round in nature's course. Justice is ever His companion, taking vengeance on those who depart from the divine law: and the man who is to be happy holds fast to her and follows on humbly in orderly array. But if any man lifted up by arrogance, or elated by riches or honours, or personal beauty, has his soul inflamed with youthfulness and folly combined with insolence, as feeling no need of a ruler or guide, but being competent even to guide others, he is left forsaken of God: and when he is thus forsaken, and has also taken to himself others of like mind, he prances about and throws all things into confusion, and to many he seems to be somebody, but after no long time pays to justice no contemptible penalty, and brings utter destruction upon himself as well as on his family and city.' 55

Thus Plato writes. And now beside the description, 'God holding the beginning and end and middle of all things that exist,' set thou this from Hebrew prophecy, 'I God am first and I am with the last':56 and beside the sentence, 'passes straight through while travelling on in nature's course,'  set this, 'His countenance doth behold uprightness.' 57 

Also with the phrase, 'Justice is ever His companion, taking vengeance on those who depart from the divine law,' compare this, 'Righteous is the LORD, and He loveth righteousness';58 and this, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the LORD ';59 and this, 'For the Lord is an avenger, and repayeth them that work exceeding proudly';60 and with this, 'the man who is to be happy holds fast to her and follows on humbly in orderly array,' there agrees,'Thou shalt walk after the LORD thy God.' 61 And with this, 'But he that is lifted up by pride is left forsaken of God,' agrees, 'God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble';62 and, 'But the joy of the ungodly is a sudden fall.' 63 These then are a few out of countless passages concerning Him who is God over all. But observe also the passages concerning the Second Cause.


IN regard then to the First Cause of all things let this be our admitted form of agreement. But now consider what is said concerning the Second Cause, whom the Hebrew oracles teach to be the Word of God, and God of God, even as we Christians also have ourselves been taught to speak of the Deity.

First then Moses expressly speaks of two divine Lords in the passage where he says, 'Then the LORD rained from the LORD fire and brimstone upon the city of the ungodly ': 64 where he applied to both the like combination of Hebrew letters in the usual way; and this combination is the mention of God expressed in the four letters, which is with them unutterable.

In accordance with him David also, another Prophet as well as king of the Hebrews, says, 'The LORD said unto my Lord, sit Thou on My right hand,' 65 indicating the Most High God by the first LORD, and the second to Him by the second title. For to what other is it right to suppose that the right hand of the Unbegotten God is conceded, than to Him alone of whom we are speaking?

This is He whom the same prophet in other places more clearly distinguishes as the Word of the Father, supposing Him whose deity we are considering to be the Creator of the universe, in the passage where he says, 'By the Word of the LORD were the heavens made firm.' 66

He introduces the same Person also as a Saviour of those who need His care, saying, 'He sent His Word and healed them.' 67

And Solomon, David's son and successor, presenting the same thought by a different name, instead of the 'Word' called Him Wisdom, making the following statement as in her person:

'I Wisdom made prudence my dwelling, and called to my aid knowledge and understanding.' 68 Then afterwards he adds, 'The LORD formed me as the beginning of His ways with a view to His works: from everlasting He established me, in the beginning before He made the earth, . . . before the mountains were settled, and before all hills He begat me. . . . When He was preparing the heaven, I was beside Him.' 69 

And there is this again of the same author, 'God by Wisdom founded the earth, and by understanding He prepared the heavens.' 70 The following also is said to be the same author's: 'And all things that are either secret or manifest I learned: for Wisdom, the artificer of all things, taught me.' 71

Then he adds, 'But what wisdom is, and how she came into being, I will declare, and will not hide mysteries from you, but will trace her out from the beginning of creation.' 72

And afterwards he gives such explanations as the following: 'For she is a spirit quick of understanding, holy, alone in kind, manifold, subtil, freely moving, clear in utterance, unpolluted, . . . all-powerful, all-survey ing, and penetrating through all spirits, that are quick of understanding, pure, most subtil. For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; yea, she pervadeth and penetrateth all things by reason of her pureness. For she is a breath of the power of God, and a clear effluence of the glory of the Almighty. Therefore can nothing defiled find entrance into her. For she is an effulgence from everlasting light, and an unspotted mirror of the operation of God, and an image of His goodness.73 . . . And she reacheth from end to end with full strength, and ordereth all things graciously.'74 Thus the Scripture speaks: but Philo the Hebrew, explaining the meaning of the doctrine more clearly, represents it in the manner following:


[PHILO] 75 'FOR it becomes those who have made companionship with knowledge to desire to behold the true Being, but should they be unable, then at least to behold His image, the most holy Word.'

Also in the same treatise he says this: 76

'But even if one be not as yet worthy to be called the son of God, let him strive earnestly to be adorned after the likeness of His first-begotten Word, who is the eldest of the Angels, and as an Archangel has many names.

'For He is called the Beginning, and the Name of God, and the Word, and the Man after God's image, and He who seeth Israel. For which cause I was induced a short time ago to praise the virtues of those who assert that we are all sons of one Man.77

'For even if we have not yet become fit to be deemed children of God, yet surely we may be children of His eternal Image, the most holy Word: for His eldest Word is the Image of God.'

And again he adds: 78

'I have, however,heard also one of the companions of Moses utter an oracle of this kind: Behold I the man whose name is the East.79 A very strange appellation, if you suppose the man who is composed of body and soul to be meant: but if you mean that incorporeal Being who wears the divine form, you will fully acknowledge that the 'East' was happily given to Him as a most appropriate name: for the Universal Father made Him rise as His eldest Son, whom elsewhere He named "First-begotten." And indeed He that was begotten, imitating the ways of His Father, looked to His archetypal patterns in giving form to the various species.'

Let it suffice at this point to have made these quotations from, the Hebrew Philo, taken from the treatise inscribed with the title, On the worse plotting against the better.80 But already in an earlier part of The Preparation for the Gospel, in setting forth the doctrines of the religion of the ancient Hebrews, I have also sufficiently discussed those which relate to the Second Cause, and to those passages I will now refer the earnest student. Since therefore these have been the theological opinions held among the Hebrews in the way that I have described concerning the Second Cause of the Universe, it is now time to listen to Plato speaking as follows in the Epinomis:


[PLATO] 81 'AND let us not, in assigning offices to them, give to this one a year, and to that a month, and to others appoint no portion, nor any time in which to perform his course, and help to complete the order, which Reason (λόγος), of all things most divine, appointed; Reason, which the happy man at first admires, and then gets a desire to understand, as much as is possible for mortal nature.'

Also in the Epistle to Hermeias, and Erastus, and Coriscus, he has laid down the doctrine with excellent caution, writing as follows word for word: 82

'This letter you three must all read, together if possible; but if not, by two and two together, as you can, as often as possible: and must make an agreement and valid law, adding an oath as is right, and with earnestness not unworthy of the Muses, and with culture the sister of earnestness, invoking the God who is the Ruler of all things that are and that shall be, and Father and Lord of Him who is the Ruler and the Cause: Whom, if we rightly study philosophy, we all shall know clearly as far as is possible for favoured mortals.'

Does it not seem to you that in speaking thus Plato has followed the doctrines of the Hebrews? Or from what other source did it occur to him to name another God who is mightier than the cause of all things, whom also he calls Father of the All-ruler? And whence came his idea of setting the name of Lord on the Father of the Demiurge, though never before him had any one brought this to the ears of the Greeks, nor even set it down in. his own mind.

And if we yet want other witnesses for an indisputable confirmation of the philosopher's meaning, and of the construction of our argument, hear what explanations Plotinus gives in the treatise which he composed Concerning the three Primary Hypostases, writing as follows:


[PLOTINUS] 83 'IF any one admires this world of sense, beholding at once its greatness and beauty and the order of its eternal course, and the gods that are therein, some visible, and some invisible, the daemons, and animals and all kinds of plants, let him mount up to its original pattern and to the more real world, and there let him see all intelligible things, and things which are of themselves eternal in their own understanding and life, see also the pure intelligence and the infinite wisdom that presides over them.' 

Then afterwards in addition to this he says: 

'Who then is He that begat Him? He who is simple, and prior to a plurality of this kind, who is the cause both of His being, and of His plurality. For number came not first: since before the duad is the one; and the duad is second, and produced from the one.' 84

And again he goes on and adds: 85

'How then and what must we conceive concerning that abiding substance? A light shining around and proceeding from it, while it remains itself unchanged, as from the sun proceeds the bright surrounding light that runs around it, ever produced out of it, while it remains unchanged itself.

'And all existing things, so long as they remain, give forth necessarily from their own essence and from the power present in the substance which surrounds them externally and is dependent upon them, being as it were an image of the archetypes from which it sprang.

'Thus fire gives forth the heat which proceeds from it, and snow does not merely retain its cold within itself. And especially all fragrant things bear witness to this fact: for as long as they exist, a something from them goes forth around them, which is enjoyed by whatever is near.

'Moreover all things as soon as they are perfect begin to generate: so that which is always perfect is always generating a something eternal, and what it generates is less than itself.

'What then must we say concerning the Most Perfect? That He either generates nothing from Himself, or the things which are the greatest next to Himself. But after Him mind is the greatest and the second. For the mind beholds Him and has need of Him alone, but He has no need of it: and that which is begotten from a superior mind, must be mind; and mind is superior to all things, because all the rest come after it.'

After this he says further: 86

'Now everything desires and loves that which begat it, and especially when that which begat and that which is begotten exist alone. And when that which begat is also the very best, the begotten is necessarily so joined with it, as to be separated only by its otherness. But, since it is necessary to speak more plainly, I mean that mind is His image.'

And to this again he adds: 87

'This is the reason also of Plato's trinities: for he says that around the King of all are all the primaries, and around the second the secondaries, and around the third the tertiaries. He says also that the Cause has a Father, meaning that Mind is the Cause, for with Plato Mind is the Creator.

'And Mind, he says, makes the Soul in that cup of his. And the Cause which is Mind has for its Father, he says, the Good, and that which transcends both Mind and essence. But in many places he speaks of Being and of Mind as the Idea. So that Plato recognizes Mind as proceeding from the Good, and the Soul from Mind: and these are no new doctrines, nor now first stated, but long since, though not publicly divulged: and the doctrines of the present time have been interpretations of the former, which by the testimony of Plato's own writings have confirmed the antiquity of these opinions.'

This is what Plotinus says. And Numenius highly commending Plato's doctrines in his treatise Of the Good gives his own interpretation of the Second Cause, as follows:


[NUMENIUS] 88 'THE man who is to understand about the First and Second God must previously distinguish the several questions by some orderly arrangement: and after this seems to be set right, he must then endeavour also to discuss the matter in a becoming manner, or otherwise not at all. Else he who handles it prematurely, before the first steps have been taken, will find his treasure become dust, as the saying is.

'Let us then not suffer the same; but after invoking God to be the guide of our discussion concerning Himself, and to show us the treasure of His thoughts, so let us commence. At once we must offer our prayer, and then make our distinction.

'The First God, being in Himself, is simple, because, being united throughout with Himself, He can never be divided. God however the Second and Third is one: but by being associated with matter which is duality, He makes it one, but is Himself divided by it, because it has a tendency to concupiscence, and is always in flux.

'Therefore by not adhering to the intelligible (for so He would have been adhering to Himself), because He regards matter and gives attention to it, He becomes regardless of Himself.

'And He lays hold of the sensible and busies Himself with it, and moreover from setting His desire upon matter He takes it tip into His own moral nature.'

And after other statements he says:

'For it is not at all becoming that the First God should be the Creator; also the First God must be regarded as the father of the God who is Creator of the world.

'If then we were inquiring about the creative principle, and asserting that He who was pre-existent would thereby be preeminently fit for the work, this would have been a suitable commencement of our argument.

'But if we are not discussing the creative principle, but inquiring about the First Cause, I renounce what I said, and wish that to be withdrawn, but will pass on in pursuit of my argument, and hunt it out from another source.

'Before capturing our argument, however, let us make an agreement between ourselves such as no one who hears it 'can doubt, that the First God is free from all kinds of work and reigns as king, but the Creative God governs, and travels through the heaven.

'And by Him comes also our equipment for the chase, mind being sent down in transmission to all who have been appointed to partake of it. .

'So when God is looking at and turned towards each of us, the result is that our bodies then live and revive, while God cherishes them with His radiations. But when He turns away to the contemplation of Himself, these bodies become extinguished, but the mind is alive and enjoying a life of blessedness.'

This is what Numenius writes. And now do you set beside it the passages from David's prophecy, sung of old among the Hebrews in the following fashion: 'How mighty are Thy works, O Lord: in wisdom hast Thou made them all. The earth is filled with Thy creation.89 ... All things wait upon Thee, to give them their meat in due season. When Thou givest it them, they will gather it; and when Thou openest Thine hand, they all will be satisfied with goodness. But when Thou turnest away Thy face, they will be troubled: if Thou takest away their breath, they will die, and turn again to their dust. Thou wilt send forth Thy Spirit, and they will be created, and Thou wilt renew the face of the earth.' 90

For in what would this differ from the thought of the philosopher, which declares, as we saw, that 'When God is looking at and turned towards each of us, the result is that our bodies then live and revive, while God cherishes them with His radiations; but when God turns to the contemplation of Himself, these become extinguished.'

And again, whereas with us the Word of Salvation says, 'I am the vine, . . . My Father is the husbandman, ... ye are the branches,'91 hear what Numenius says concerning the deity of the Second Cause.

[NUMENIUS] 92 'And as again there is a relation between the husbandman and him that planteth, exactly in the same way is the First God related to the Demiurge. The former being the seed of all soul sows it in all things that partake of Himself. But the Lawgiver plants, and distributes, and transplants into each of us the germs which have been previously deposited from that higher source.'

And afterwards again he speaks as follows of the mode in which the Second Cause arose out of the First.93

'Now all things which, when given, pass to the receiver, and have left the giver, such as are attendance, property, silver unstamped or coined,----these things, I say, are mortal and human: but divine things are such as, when they are distributed and have come from one to another, have not forsaken the former, and have brought with them benefit to the latter, without hurting the other; nay, have brought him a further benefit by recalling to memory what he understood before.

'Now this excellent thing is that good knowledge which brings profit to the receiver and is not lost to the giver. Just as you may see a lamp lit from another lamp shining with a light of which it did not deprive the former, but had its own material kindled at the other's flame.

'Such a thing is knowledge, which when given and received remains the same with the giver, and is communicated to the receiver.

'And the cause of this, my friend, is not anything human; but that the state and essence which possesses knowledge is the same both in God who has given, and in you and me who have received it.

'Wherefore also Plato said that wisdom was brought to mankind "with a brilliant flame of fire by Prometheus."' 94

And again afterwards lower down he says: 

'Now the modes of life of the First God and of the Second are these: evidently the First God will be at rest, while the Second on the contrary is in motion. So then the First is engaged with intelligibles, and the Second with both intelligibles and sensibles. 'And be not surprised at my saying this, for you are going to hear something far more surprising. For instead of that motion which belongs to the Second I assert that the rest which belongs to the First is His natural motion, from which both the order of the world, and its eternal continuance, and its safety is diffused throughout the universe.' 95

After this in the sixth Book also he adds the following: 96

'Since Plato knew that the Creator alone was known among men, but that the First Mind, which is called Absolute Being, is altogether unknown among them, therefore he spoke in this way, just as if one were to say; The First Mind, my good sirs, is not that which you imagine, but another mind before it, more ancient and more divine.'

And after other passages he adds:

'A pilot when driven along in mid ocean, sits high above the helm, and steers the ship by the tillers, but his eyes and mind are strained directly at the sky, looking at things aloft, as his course passes across the heaven above, while he sails upon the sea below. So also the Creator having bound matter together in harmony that it may neither break out nor slip away, is Himself seated above matter, as above a ship on the sea: and in directing the harmony He steers by the ideas, while instead of the sky He looks to the High God who attracts His eyes, and takes His judgement from that contemplation, and His energy from that impulse.'

Also the Word of our Salvation says, 'The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father doing.' 97 Enough, however, has been said by Numenius on this subject: and there is no need to add anything to his own words to show that he was explaining not his own opinions but Plato's. And that Plato is not the first who has made these attempts, but has been anticipated by the Hebrew sages, has been proved by the examples already set forth. Naturally therefore Amelius also, who was distinguished among recent philosophers, and above all others an admirer of Plato's philosophy, who moreover called the Hebrew theologian a Barbarian, even though he did not deign to mention John the Evangelist by name, nevertheless bears witness to his statements, writing exactly what follows word for word:


[AMELIUS] 98 'AND this then was the Word, on whom as being eternal depended the existence of the things that were made, as Heracleitus also would maintain,99 and the same forsooth of whom, as set in the rank and dignity of the beginning, the Barbarian maintains that He was with God and was God: through whom absolutely all things were made; in whom the living creature, and life, and being had their birth: and that He came down into bodies, and clothed Himself in flesh, and appeared as man, yet showing withal even then the majesty of His nature; aye, indeed, even after dissolution He was restored to deity, and is a God, such as He was before He came down to dwell in the body, and the flesh, and Man.'

This, it must be evident, is paraphrased from the Barbarian's theology, no longer under any veil, but openly at last and 'with forehead bold and bare.' 100 And who was this Barbarian of his but our Saviour's Evangelist John, a Hebrew of the Hebrews? Who in the beginning of his own Scripture states the doctrine of the deity thus, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that hath been made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.101 . . . And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the Only-begotten from the Father.'102

Hear also what another Hebrew theologian says concerning the same Person: 'Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation: for in Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, whether visible or invisible,... and by Him all things consist, and in Him were they all created.'

But since we have found such agreement between the philosophers of the Greeks and the doctrines of the Hebrews concerning the constitution and substantiation of the Second Cause, let us then pass on to other matters.


WHEREAS next to the doctrine of Father and Son the Hebrew oracles class the Holy Spirit in the third place, and conceive the Holy and Blessed Trinity in such a manner as that the third Power surpasses every created nature, and that it is the first of the intellectual essences constituted through the Son, and third from the First Cause, observe how Plato also intimated some such thoughts, speaking thus in his Epistle to Dionysus:

[PLATO] 103 'I must explain it to you then in riddles, that if the tablet suffer any harm in the remote parts of sea or land, the reader may learn nothing. For the matter is thus: Around the King of the Universe are all things, and all are for His sake, and that is the cause of all things beautiful: and around the Second are the secondary things, and around the Third the tertiary. The soul of man therefore strains after them to learn what sort of things they are, looking upon the things akin to its own nature.'

These statements are referred, by those who attempt to explain Plato, to the First God, and to the Second Cause, and thirdly to the Soul of the Universe, defining it also as a third God. But the sacred Scriptures regard the Holy and Blessed Trinity o'f Father and Son and Holy Ghost as the beginning, according to the passages already set forth.

The next point to this is to examine the nature of the Good.


THE Sacred Scripture of the Hebrews explains the nature of the Good in various ways, and teaches that the Good itself is nothing else than God, both in the statement, 'The LORD is good to all them that wait for Him, to the soul that will seek Him,'104 and in this, 'O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever';105 and also by what the Word of our Salvation declared to the man who asked Him concerning this, saying,'Why askest thou Me concerning that which is good? None is good save one, even God.'106

Now then listen to what Plato says in the Timaeus: 107

'Let me then tell you for what cause the Creator formed a creation, and made this universe. He was good. And in one who is good no jealousy of anything ever finds place: and being free from jealousy He desired that all things should be made as like to Himself as possible.'

In the Republic also he speaks thus: 108

'Is it not true then that the sun though not itself sight, is yet the cause of sight, and is itself discerned by this very sight? It is so, said he. Well then, said I, you may say that this is he whom I call the offspring of the good, whom the good begat as analogous to itself, that this should be in the visible world in relation to sight and the things of sight, what the good is in the intellectual world in relation to mind and the things of mind.'

And afterwards he adds:

'Well then, this which imparts truth to the things which are known, and bestows on the knower his faculty of knowledge, this you may call the idea of the good.' 109

And again he says:

'You would say, I suppose, that the sun imparts to visible things not only their power of being seen, but also their generation, growth, and nourishment, though he is not himself generation. How could it be otherwise? You would also say then that things which become known receive from the good not only the property of being known, but also their existence and their essence, though the good is not an essence, but far transcends essence in dignity and power.' 110

Herein Plato says most distinctly that the intellectual essences receive from 'the good,' meaning of course from God, not merely the property of being known, but also their existence and essence; and that'the good ' is 'not an essence, but far transcends essence in dignity and power.' So that he does not regard the ideas as co-essential, nor yet suppose that they are unbegotten, because they have received their existence and their essence from Him who is not an essence, but far transcends essence in dignity and power, whom alone the Hebrew oracles with good reason proclaim as God, as being the cause of all things.

So then things which have neither their existence nor their essence from themselves, nor yet are of the nature of the good, cannot reasonably be regarded as gods, since the good does not belong to them by nature: for to One only and to no other can this be ascribed, to the Only Good, which Plato admirably proclaimed as 'far transcending all essence both in dignity and power.' Again Numenius also in his treatise Of the Good, in explaining Plato's meaning, discourses in the following manner:


[NUMENIUS] 111 'BODIES, therefore, we may conceive by inferences drawn from observing similar bodies, and from the tokens existing in the bodies before us: but there is no possibility of conceiving the good from anything that lies before us, nor yet from anything simil'ar that can be perceived by the senses. For example, a man sitting on a watch-tower, having caught a quick glimpse of a small fishing-boat, one of those solitary skiffs, left alone by itself, and caught in the troughs of the waves, sees the vessel at one glance. Just so, then, must a man withdraw far from the things of sense, and commune in solitude with the good alone, where there is neither man nor any other living thing, nor body great or small, but a certain immense, indescribable, and absolutely divine solitude, where already the occupations, and splendours of the good exist, and the good itself, in peace and benevolence, that gentle, gracious, guiding power, sits high above all being.

'But if any one, obstinately clinging to the things of sense, fancies that he sees the good hovering over them, and then in luxurious living should suppose that he has found the good, he is altogether mistaken. For in fact no easy pursuit is needed for it, but a godlike effort: and the best plan is to neglect the things of sense, and with vigorous devotion to mathematical learning to study the properties of numbers, and so to meditate carefully on the question, What is being? '

This is in the first Book. And in the fifth he speaks as follows: 112

'Now if essence and the idea is discerned by the mind, and if it was agreed that the mind is earlier than this and the cause of it, then mind itself is alone found to be the good. For if God the Creator is the beginning of generation, the good is the beginning of essence. And God the Creator is related to the good, of which He is an imitator, as generation is to essence, of which it is a likeness and an imitation.

'For if the Creator who is the author of generation is good, the Creator also of essence will doubtless be absolute good, innate in essence. For the second god, being twofold, is the self-maker of the idea of Himself, and makes the world as its Creator: afterwards He is wholly given to contemplation.

'Now as we have by our reasoning gathered names for four things, let them be these four. The first, God, absolute good; His imitator, a good Creator: then essence, one kind of the first God, another of the Second; and the imitation of this essence, the beautiful world, adorned by participation in the beautiful.'

Also in the sixth Book he adds:

'But the things which partake of Him participate in nothing, else, but only in wisdom: in this way then, but in no other, they may enjoy the communion of the good. And certainly this wisdom has been found to belong to the First alone. If then this belongs exclusively to Him alone, from whom all other things receive their colouring and their goodness, none but a stupid soul could doubt any longer.

'For if the second God is good, not of Himself but from the First, how is it possible that He, by communion with whom this Second is good, should not Himself be good, especially if the Second has partaken of Him as being good?

'It is in this way that Plato has shown by syllogistic reasoning to any one who is clear-sighted that the good is one.'

And again afterwards he says:

'But Plato represented these things as true differently in different places; for in the Timaeus peculiarly he wrote the common inscription on the Creator, saying, "He was good." 113 But in the Republic he called the good the idea of good: meaning that the idea of the Creator was the good, because to us He is manifested as good by participation in the First and only Good.

'For as men are said to have been fashioned by the idea of man, and oxen by that of an ox, and horses by the idea of a horse; so also naturally if the Creator is good by participation in the First Good, the first Mind would be an idea, as being absolute good.'


[PLATO] 'AND having been created in this way' (evidently the world is meant) 'it has been framed with a view to that which is apprehended by reason and thought and which is unchangeable. And if this be so, it necessarily follows that this world is an image of something.114 . . . For that contains in itself all intelligible beings, just as this world contains us.'115

So Plato speaks in the Timaeus. And the meaning of his statements I will set forth from the collections of Didymus Concerning the Opinions of Plato: and this is how he writes:

[DIDYMUS] 116 'He says that the Ideas are certain patterns arranged class by class of the things which are by nature sensible, and that these are the sources of the different sciences and definitions. For besides all individual men there is a certain conception of man: and besides all horses, of a horse; and generally, besides the animals, a conception of an animal uncreated and imperishable.

'And in the same way as many impressions are made of one seal, and many images of one man, so from each single idea of the objects of sense a multitude of individual natures are formed, from the idea of man all men, and in like manner in the case of all other things in nature.

'Also the idea is an eternal essence, cause, and principle, making each thing to be of a character such as its own.

'As, therefore, the particular archetypes, so to say, precede the bodies which are perceived by sense, so the Idea which includes in itself all Ideas, being most beautiful and most perfect, exists originally as the pattern of this present world; for that has been made by its Creator like this Idea, and wrought according to the providence of God out of the universal essence.'

These are extracts from the aforesaid author. Moses, however, the all-wise, anticipates even these doctrines, teaching us that before the visible sun and stars and before the heaven that we behold, which he calls the firmament, and before this our dry land, and before our day and night, another light besides the light of the sun, and day and night, and the rest, had been made by God the universal Ruler and Cause of all.

Moreover the Hebrews who came after Moses declare that there is a certain incorporeal sun not visible to all, nor subjected to mortal eyes, as says the Prophet speaking in the person of God, 'And to them that fear Me shall the Sun of righteousness arise.' 117

Also righteousness itself, not that of a certain kind among men, but the Idea of that, is known to another Hebrew Prophet, who said concerning God,'Who raised up righteousness from the East? He called it before His face, and it shall go forth as it were before the nations.' 118

Also a divine Word, incorporeal and essential, was just lately shown to us by our ordinary word in the previous quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures: concerning which Word there is also the following statement among the same people: 'Who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.' 119

He is called also Life, He is called Wisdom, and Truth. Also the Scriptures of the Hebrews (since the Apostles also and disciples of our Saviour are Hebrews) make known to us all things which have essential being and subsistence, nay more, they show us myriads of other incorporeal powers beyond both heaven and all material and fleeting essence; and the images of these powers, they say, He expressed in things sensible, after which they have now received the name each of its image.

Man, for instance, they have expressly stated to be the image of an ideal pattern, and the whole life of men passeth on in an image. Moses in fact says, 'And God created man, in the image of God created He him.' 120 And again another Hebrew writer, following the philosophy of his forefathers, says, 'Surely man walketh in an image.' 121 And now hear how the interpreters of the sacred laws explain the thought contained in the writings of Moses. The Hebrew Philo, in fact, speaks thus word for word in interpreting the doctrines of his forefathers.


[PHILO] 122 'Now if any one should wish to use names in a plainer way, he would not call the intelligible world anything else than the Word (or, Reason) of God already engaged in the creation of a world. For neither is the intelligible city anything else than the reasoning of the architect, when already designing to build the visible city [by help of the intelligible].

'But this is Moses' doctrine, not mine. For instance, in recording the creation of man he expressly avows, in what follows, that he was fashioned after the image of God.123

'Now if the part (man) is an image of an image, evidently also the whole species, I mean the whole of this visible world, which is greater than the human image, is a copy of a divine image; and the archetypal seal, as we call the intelligible world, must itself evidently be the archetypal pattern, the Idea of the Ideas, the Word (Reason) of God.

'He says too that "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth";124 taking the beginning to be not, as some suppose, the beginning in time; for time was not before the world, but either has begun with it, or after it.

'For since time is the interval of the motion of the universe, and motion could not begin before that which was to be moved, but must necessarily be established either after it or with it, so time also must necessarily either have been of the same age as the universe or younger than it, and to venture to represent it as older is unphilosophical.

'But if in the present passage the beginning is not taken to be the beginning in time, then the beginning according to number would naturally be signified, so that in the beginning God created would be equivalent to "first He created the heaven." '

Then afterwards he says: 125

'First, therefore, the Maker proceeded to make an immaterial heaven, and an invisible earth, and an ideal form of air and of empty space, the former of which He called darkness, because the air is by nature black, and the latter He called the deep, for the empty space is very deep and vast.

'Then He made the incorporeal essence of water and of wind, and over all the essence of light, the seventh in order, which again was incorporeal, and then an intelligible model of the sun. and of all stars that were destined to be established as luminaries in the heaven.

'And the wind and the light were honoured with special privilege: for the one he called the Spirit of God, because spirit is the most life-giving thing, and God is the author of life; and light, because it excels in beauty. For the intelligible is, I suppose, as much more brilliant and radiant than the sensible, as the sun is than darkness, and day than night, and the mind, which is the guide of the whole soul, than the criteria of sense, and the eyes than the body.

'But that invisible and intelligible light is made an image of the Divine Word, which explained its origin; and it is a super-celestial star the source of the visible stars, which one would not be wrong in calling "universal light," from which sun and moon and the other planets and fixed stars draw their appropriate splendours in proportion to the power of each, while that unmingled and pure light becomes obscured, whenever it begins to turn in direction of the change from intelligible to sensible; for of the things subject to sense none is pure.'

Also after a few words he adds: 126

'But when light came, and darkness yielded and retired, and bounds were set in the intervals between them, namely evening and morning, there was at once completed, according to the necessary measure of time, that which the Creator rightly called "day," and not the first day but one day, which it is called because of the singleness of the intelligible world, which has the nature of unity.

'So then the incorporeal world was now complete, being founded in the divine Reason (Word); and after the model thereof the sensible world was now to be produced in its perfection: so the Creator proceeded to make first that which was also the best of all its parts, namely the heaven, which He rightly named the firmament, as being corporeal. For body is by nature solid, because it is of three dimensions: and what other idea is there of a solid and a body, except extension in every direction? Naturally therefore He called this the firmament, as contrasting the sensible and corporeal world with the intelligible and incorporeal.'

So writes Philo. And Clement also agrees with him, speaking as follows in the Fifth Miscellany.


[CLEMENT] 127 'AND again the Barbarian philosophy knows one world of thought, and another of sense, the one an archetype, and the other an image of the fair model. And the former it assigns to Unity, as being perceptible to thought only; but the sensible it assigns to the number six: for among the Pythagoreans six is called marriage, as a number that generates.

'And in the Unity it establishes an invisible heaven, and a holy earth, and an intellectual light. For "In the beginning," says Moses, "God created the heaven and the earth: and the earth was invisible."128 Then he adds, "And God said, let there be light, and there was light."129 But in the cosmogony of the sensible world He creates a solid heaven (and the solid is sensible), and a visible earth, and a light that is seen.

'Does it not seem to you from this passage that Plato leaves the idsas of living creatures in the intelligible world, and creates the sensible species after their kinds in the intelligible world?

'With good reason then Moses says that the body was fashioned out of earth, which Plato calls an "earthly tabernacle,"130 but that the reasonable soul was breathed by God from on high into man's face.131

'For in this part, they say, the ruling faculty is seated, interpreting thus the accessory entrance of the soul through the organs of sense in the case of the first-formed man; for which reason also man, they say, is made after the image and likeness of God. For the image of God is the divine and royal Word, the impassible Man; and an image of that image is the human mind.'

But let us now listen to what remains to be said.


FURTHER than this Plato follows the doctrines of the Hebrews, when he says that there are not only good incorporeal powers but also those of opposite nature, writing as follows in the tenth Book of the Laws:

[PLATO] 132 'As then the soul directs and inhabits all things that move in any direction, must we not say that it also directs the heaven? Of course. One soul, or more? More, I will answer for you. Less than two surely we must not suppose, the one that does good, and the other that has power to work evil.'

Then lower down he says: 133

'For since we have agreed that the heaven is full of many good things and also of many evil things, and these the more numerous, a conflict of this kind, we say, is immortal, and requires marvellous watchfulness. But gods and daemons are our allies, and we are their possessions.'

Whence these ideas came to Plato, I cannot explain: but what I can truly say is that thousands of years before Plato was born this doctrine also had been acknowledged by the Hebrews.

Accordingly their Scripture says,134 'And there was, as it were, this day when the angels of God came to stand before God; and the devil came in the midst of them, after going round the earth and walking about in it'; where it calls the adverse power devil, and the good powers angels of God.

And these good powers it also calls divine spirits, and God's ministers, where it says, 'Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.' 135

Moreover the conflict of the adverse powers is thus represented by him who said, 'Our wrestling is not against Wood and flesh, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.' 136

Also the oracle of Moses which said, 'When the Most High was dividing the nations, when He was separating the children of Adam, He set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God,' 137 seems to be directly paraphrased by Plato in the words whereby he defined the whole human race to be 'the possessions of gods and daemons.'


IN the doctrine of the immortality of the soul Plato differs not at all in opinion from Moses. For Moses was the first to define the soul in man as being an immortal essence, when he said that it is originally an image of God, or rather has been made 'after the image of God.' For his words were, 'God said, Let us make man after our image, and after our likeness. . . . And God made man, in the image of God made He him.' 138

And afterwards dividing the compound man in his description into the visible body and the man of the soul that is discerned only by the mind, he adds, 'And God took dust from the earth and formed man, and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.' 139

Moreover he says that man was made fit to be ruler and king of all the creatures upon earth. So he says,140 'And God said, Let us make man after our image, and after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowls of the heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth. . . . And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him.'

Now in what other way could an image and likeness of God be conceived than in reference to the powers that are in God, and to the likeness of virtue? Hear then how in the Alcibiades Plato speaks on this point also as one who had been taught by Moses:

[PLATO] 141 'Can we then mention any part of the soul that is more divine than that with which knowledge and wisdom have to do?

'We cannot.

'This then is the part of it like God; and any one who by looking upon this has learned all that is divine, both God and wisdom, will thus get to know himself also most perfectly.

'It is evident.

['So then, just as there are mirrors clearer than the mirror in the eye, and purer and brighter, so God is something purer and brighter than the best that is in our soul.

'It seems so, Socrates.

'In looking then on God, we should be using that noblest mirror of man's nature also for looking into the virtue of the soul; and in this way should best see and learn to know ourselves. Certainly.'] 142

This is in the Alcibiades. But in the dialogue On the Soul observe how he explains these topics more at length. 143

'May we then, said he, assume two kinds of existing things, one visible and the other invisible?

'Let us assume it, said he.

'And the invisible constant and immutable, but the visible never constant?

'This also let us assume.

'Well then, said he, is not the one part of ourselves body, and the other soul?

'Exactly so, said he.

'To which class then should we say that the body is more like and more akin?

'Oh, that is manifest to every one, said he; to the visible.

'And what of the soul? Is it visible or invisible?

'Not visible at any rate by men, Socrates.

'But we surely were speaking of the things that are visible or not visible to the nature of man; or was it, think you, to some other nature?

'To man's nature.

'What do we say then about the soul? Is it visible or invisible?


'Then it is unseen?


'Soul then is more like the unseen than body is, and body like the visible?

'It must certainly be so, Socrates.

'Well then, were we not also saying long ago, that whenever the soul uses the help of the body to examine anything, either by sight, or by hearing, or by any other sense (for this is what is meant by "the help of the body," to examine a thing by the help of sense), that then she is dragged by the body into the midst of these ever-changing objects, and loses her own way, and becomes confused, and giddy as if drunken, from trying to lay hold of things of this same kind?

'Quite so.

'But whenever she is contemplating anything by herself alone, she passes at once into yonder world, to the pure, and eternal, and immortal, and unchangeable, and there and with that world she ever communes as one of kindred nature, whenever she can be alone, and have opportunity; and so she has rest from her wandering, and with that world she is constant and unchangeable, as trying to lay hold of things of this same kind. And this condition of the soul is called thoughtfulness.

'Very nobly and truly spoken, Socrates, said he.

'To which class then does it now seem to you, from both our former and our present arguments, that the soul is more like and more akin?

'Every one, I think, Socrates, said he, even the most stupid, would from this method of inquiry agree that soul is in every way much more like to that which is ever constant than to that which is not.

'And what of the body?

'More like the other.

'Look at it then again in this way; that, when soul and body are combined in one, nature orders the body to serve and to obey, and the soul to rule and to govern. Now in these respects again which of the two seems to you to be like the divine, and which like the mortal? Do you not think that the divine is naturally fitted to rule and to lead, and the mortal to be ruled and to serve?

'I think so.

'To which of the two then is the soul like?

'Evidently, Socrates, the soul is like the divine, and the body like the mortal.

'Consider then, Cebes, said he, whether from all that has been said we obtain these results: that soul is most like the divine, and immortal, and intelligible, and uniform, and indissoluble, and ever unchangeable and self-consistent; and the body on the other hand most like the human, and mortal, and unintelligible, arid multiform, and dissoluble, and never consistent with itself.

'Have we anything else to say against this, my dear Cebes, to show that it is not so?

'We have not.

'Well then? This being so, is it not a property of body to be quickly dissolved, but of soul on the other hand to be altogether indissoluble, or nearly so?


'Do you then observe, that after a man is dead, the body, the part of him which is visible and lies in the visible world, and is called a corpse, the property of which is to be dissolved, and decomposed, and scattered by the winds, does not at once suffer any change of this kind, but remains for a considerable time----if the man die with his body in a vigorous state and at a vigorous time of life, for a very considerable time indeed. For when the body has shrunk and been embalmed, like those who were embalmed in Egypt, it remains almost entire an incredible time. And even if the body be decayed, some parts of it, bones and sinews and all such parts, are nevertheless, so to say, immortal, are they not?


'But then the soul, the unseen, that has passed to another place like herself, noble, and pure, and unseen, the true Hades, to the presence of the good and wise God, whither, if it be God's will, my own soul is presently to go----is then, I say, this soul of ours, such as she is and so endowed by nature, on being released from the body, immediately scattered to the winds and lost, as most men say?

'Far from it, my dear Cebes and Simmias; but the truth is much rather this. If the soul is pure when released, drawing nothing of the body after her, as she never during this life had any communication with it willingly, but shrank from it, and was gathered up into herself, as making this her constant study, and this is nothing else than practising true philosophy, and preparing in reality to die cheerfully,----Or would not this be a preparation for death?


'In this condition then the soul departs to that world which is like herself, the unseen, the divine, and deathless, and wise: and on arriving there she finds ready for her a happy existence, released from error, and folly, and fears, and wild desires, and all other human ills, and, as they say of the initiated, she truly passes the rest of her time with the gods. Is it thus, Cebes, that we ought to speak, or otherwise?

'Thus assuredly, said Cebes.

'But, I suppose, if when she departs from the body she is polluted and impure, from being in constant communion with the body, and cherishing it, and loving it, and having been so bewitched by it, I mean by its desires and pleasures, as to think that nothing else is true except the corporeal, just what a man might touch, and see, and eat, and drink, and use for his lusts----but accustomed to hate and fear and shun what to the eyes is dark and invisible, but intelligible to thought and attainable by philosophy----in this condition then do you suppose that a soui will depart pure in herself and unalloyed?

'By no means, said he.'

This is what Plato says. And his meaning is explained by Porphyry in the first Book of his Answer to Boethus Concerning the Soul, where he writes in the following manner:


[PORPHYRY] 144 'FOR example, he said, the argument from similarity was thought by Plato to be forcible in proof of the immortality of the soul. For if she is like that which is divine, and immortal, and invisible, and inseparable, and indissoluble, and essential, and firmly established in incorruption, how can she fail to be of the corresponding class to the pattern?

'For whenever there are two extremes manifestly contrary, as rational and irrational, and it is a question to which side some third thing belongs, this is one mode of proof, by showing to which of the opposites it is like. For thus, although the human race in the first stage of life is held down in an irrational condition, and although many even to old age are full of the errors of unreason, nevertheless, because it has many similarities to that which is purely rational, this race was believed to be from the beginning rational.

'Since therefore there is a divine constitution manifestly incapable of admixture and of damage, namely that of the gods, and since there is evidently on the other hand the earthly, and soluble, subject to corruption, and since with some it is doubted to which side of the said opposition the soul is attached, Plato's opinion was that we should trace out the truth from similarity.

'And since she is in no way like to the mortal and soluble and irrational and inanimate, which is therefore also tangible, and sensible, and becoming, and perishing, but like the divine, and immortal, and invisible, and intelligent, which partakes of life, and is akin to truth, and has all the properties which he enumerates as belonging to her,----since this is so, he thought it not right, while granting that she had the other points of likeness to God, to consent to deny her the similarity of essence, which is the cause of her having received these very properties.

'For as the things which were in their operations unlike God were at once found to differ also in the constitution of their essence, so he thought it followed, that the things which partook in a measure of the same operations had previously possessed the similarity of essence. For because of the quality of the essence the operations also were of a certain quality, as flowing from it, and being offshoots of it.'

Hear then what Boethus, in detracting from the force of this argument, has written in the very beginning of his treatise, as follows:

[BOETHUS] 145 'To show whether the soul is immortal, and is a nature too strong for any kind of destruction, a man must persistently travel round many arguments.

'But one would not need much discussion to believe that nothing about us is more like God than the soul, and that, not only because of the continuous and incessant motion which she generates within us, but also because of the mind belonging to her.

'In view of which fact the physical philosopher of Crotona said that the soul as being immortal naturally shrank from all quiescence, like the bodies that are divine.

'But also to the man who had once discerned the idea of the soul, and especially how great purposes and what impulses the mind that rules within us often sets in motion, there would gradually appear a great likeness to God.'

And afterwards he adds:

'For if the soul is shown to be of all things most like to the divine, of what further use is it to require by way of preface all the other arguments in proof of her immortality, instead of reckoning this as one among the many, sufficient as it is to convince the fair-minded, that the soul would not have participated in the activities which are similar to those of the divine, if she were not also divine herself.

'For if, although buried in the body which is mortal, and soluble, and unintelligent, and by itself dead, and constantly perishing and wasting away towards its change of final destruction, the soul both forms it and holds it together, and displays her own divine essence, although she is obstructed and impeded by the all-ruinous mould which lies around her, must she not, if by our hypothesis she were separated as gold from the clay plastered round it, at once display her own specific form as being like God alone, and moreover preserving through her participation in Him the similarities in her operations, and even in her most mortal condition (as she is when imprisoned in the mortal body) escaping dissolution for this reason, that she is, as we said, of the nature which has nothing in common with decay? '

And lower down he says:

'But naturally she appears to be both divine from her assimilation to the Indivisible, and mortal from her approaches to the mortal nature: and she descends and ascends, and is both akin to the mortal, and yet like the immortals.

'For even he who stuffs himself full and hastes to be surfeited like the cattle is a man: and he too is a man, who by knowledge is able in perils by sea to save the ship, and he who can save life in diseases, and he who discovers truth, and has devised methods for the attainment of knowledge, and inventions for kindling fire, and observations of horoscopes, and manufactures imitations of the works of the Creator.

'For it was a man who thought of fashioning upon earth the conjunctions of the seven planets together with their motions, imitating by mechanism the phenomena in heaven. And in fact what did not man devise, showing thereby the mind within him that is divine and on a par with God?

'And though thereby he displayed the daring efforts of an Olympian and divine and altogether immortal being, yet because the multitude through the selfishness of their own downward inclination were not able to discern his character, he misled them into supposing from the outward appearances that he was like themselves of mortal nature: there being but this one mode of deriving consolation from their baseness, that because of external appearances they found satisfaction in seeing others share equally in their wretchedness, and persuaded themselves that as in external things so also in their inner nature all men are alike.'

Of all these doctrines Moses has been seen to be the teacher, for in describing the first creation of man in the language already quoted, he by his assimilation to the divine confirmed the arguments concerning the immortality of the soul.

But since the opinions of Moses and Plato were in full harmony and accord concerning the incorporeal and invisible essence, it is time to review the remaining portions of Plato's philosophy, and to show that he was friendly to the Hebrews on all points, except where perchance he was led astray and induced to speak more after the manner of man, than in accordance with the word of truth.

For instance, all the philosopher's sayings which have been rightly expressed will be found to agree with the doctrines of Moses, but in whatever he assumed that did not agree with Moses and the prophets, his argument will not be well established. And this we shall prove at the proper season. But meanwhile, since his positions in the contemplation of the intelligible world have been discovered to be in perfect agreement and harmony, it is time to go back again to the physical theory of the sensible world, and briefly run over the philosopher's agreement with the doctrines of the Hebrews.


MOSES declared that this universe had a beginning as having been made by God; he says at all events in the commencement of his own writing, 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,' 146 and after the particulars he adds, 'This is the book of the generation of heaven and earth, when they were created, in the day that God made the heaven and the earth.' 147 And now listen to Plato, how close he keeps to the thought, when himself writing as follows: 148

'And again all that comes into existence must of necessity proceed from some cause; for it is impossible for anything to have been generated without a cause.'

And he adds: 149

'The whole heaven then or world, or by whatever other name it would most acceptably be called, so let us call it----we have first to ask a question concerning it, which it is assumed that one must ask on every subject at the outset----did it always exist, without any beginning of generation, or has it been generated and had some beginning?

'It has been generated: for it is visible, and tangible, and has a body; and all such things are sensible: and all sensible things were shown to be apprehensible by opinion and generated. But that which is generated must, we say, have been generated by some cause. It is a hard task, however, to discover the maker and artificer of this universe, and after discovering Him it is impossible to speak of Him to all men.'

And again afterwards he says: 150

'Thus therefore we must say, according to probable reason, that this world was in truth made through the providence of God a living being endowed with soul and mind.'


AGAIN Moses, by what he said of the heavenly bodies, taught that they also are created: 'And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth; . . . and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and for years. . . . And God made the two great lights, ... and the stars; and set them in the firmament of the heaven.' 151

In like manner Plato speaks: 152

'Such then being the reason and the thought of God in regard to the generation of time, in order that time might be brought into existence there have been created the sun and moon and five other bodies which are called planets, for distinguishing and preserving the numbers of time. And when He had made their bodies, God set them in their orbits.'

Now observe whether Plato's expression,'Such then being the reason (λόγου) and thought of God,' must not be like that of the Hebrew who says, 'By the word (λόγῳ) of the LORD were the heavens established, and all the powers thereof by the breath of His mouth.' 153 Moreover as Moses said, 'And He set (ἔθετο) them in the firmament,' Plato has used a like word, 'set,' when he says, 'And when He had made their bodies, God set (ἔθηκεν) them in their orbits.'


As the Hebrew Scripture after each of the creations adds the phrase, 'And God saw that it was good,' and after the summing up of all says, 'And God saw them all, . . . and behold they were very good';154 now hear how Plato speaks:

'If then indeed this world is fair, and its Creator good, it is evident that he was looking to that pattern which is eternal.' 155

And again:

'For the world is the fairest of things created, and He the best of causes.' 156


ON this point also the whole Hebrew Scripture speaks throughout, at one time saying, 'And the heaven shall be rolled together as a scroll,' 157 and at another adding, 'And the heaven shall be new, and the earth new, . . . which I make to remain before Me, saith the LORD ';158 and again at another time saying, 'For the fashion of this world passeth away.'159 Hear then how Plato also confirms the doctrine, saying in the Timaeus:

[PLATO] 160 'And He established a visible and tangible heaven: and for these reasons, and out of these elements such as I have described, being four in number, the body of the world was formed in harmony by due proportion, and gained from them a friendly union, so that having entered into unity with itself it became indissoluble by everything else except Him who bound it together.'

Then afterwards he says:

'So then time has come into existence together with the heaven, that having been produced together they may also be dissolved together, if there should ever be any dissolution of them.' 161

And again he adds:

'Ye gods and sons of gods, the works whereof I am the Creator and Father are indissoluble save by my will.' 162

Afterwards he adds:

'Therefore though all that is bound may be dissolved, yet only an evil being would wish to dissolve that which is well combined and in right condition. Wherefore also since ye have been created, though ye are not altogether immortal nor indissoluble, nevertheless ye shall not be dissolved, nor incur the fate of death, since in my will ye have found a still stronger and more valid bond than those by which ye were bound together at the time of your creation.' 163

Also in the Politicus or Statesman the same author speaks as follows: 164

'For there is a time when God Himself goes round with the universe, which He helps to guide and wheel; and there is a time when the revolutions having now completed their proper measure of time, He lets it go, and the universe, being a living creature and having received intelligence from Him who arranged it at first, revolves again of its own accord in the opposite direction. And this retrogression has of necessity been implanted in its nature for the following reason.

'For what reason, pray?

'Because it is a property of none but the most divine things to be always changeless in condition and self-consistent and the same, and bodily nature is not of this class. And though that which we have called the heaven and the world has been endowed by its Creator with many blessings, nevertheless it also partakes of body; whence it is impossible for it to be always free from change; as far as possible however, and in a very great degree, it moves in the same orbit in one and the same relative course, because the reversal to which it is subject is the least possible alteration of its proper motion.

'But it is almost impossible for anything to continue for ever turning itself, except for the Ruler of all things that are moved. And for Him to move anything now one way, and now again in the opposite way, would not be right. From all this then we must neither say that the world always turns itself, nor that it is all turned by God in two opposite courses, nor again that some two gods, who are of opposite minds, turn it, but, as was said just now, and this alone remains possible, that at one time it is guided in its course by another divine cause, acquiring again its life, and receiving from its Creator a restored immortality, and at another time when let go it moves of itself, having been let go at such a time that it travels backwards during countless periods, because being of vast size and most perfectly balanced it moves upon the smallest pivot.

'Certainly all the details which you have described seem to be very probable.

'Let us then draw our conclusions and consider closely the effect produced from what I have just mentioned, which effect we said was the cause of all the wonders: for surely it is this very thing.

'What thing?

'The fact that the course of the world at one time is guided in the direction of its present revolution, and at another time in the opposite direction.

'How then?

'This change we must believe to be the greatest and most complete of all variations in the heavenly motions.

'It seems so indeed.

'We must suppose therefore that very great changes occur at that time to us who dwell under the heaven.

'This too is probable.

'But do we not know that animal nature ill endures many great and various changes occurring at the same time?

'Of course.

'Very great destruction therefore of all other animals necessarily occurs at that time, and moreover very little of the human race survives. And with regard to these survivors, among many other marvellous and strange effects which occur the greatest is this, which also follows immediately upon the reversal of the motion of the universe at the time when the revolution opposite to that which is at present established takes place.'

Afterwards lower down he adds to all this the following remarks on the restoration of the dead to life, taking a similar course to the opinions of the Hebrews.165


'BUT how were animals produced in those days, Stranger, and in what way were they begotten one of another?

'It is evident, Socrates, that the generation of one animal from another did not exist in the order of nature at that time, but the earth-born race which was said to exist formerly----this it was that in this other period sprang up out of the earth again. The tradition was recorded by our earliest ancestors, who in the following period were not far from the end of the former revolution, but were born in the beginning of the present: for they were the heralds to us of these traditions, which are now disbelieved by many without good reason.

'For we ought, I think, to observe what follows therefrom. With the fact that old men pass on to the natural condition of the child it is consistent, that from those who have died and been laid in the earth, some being brought together again there and restored to life should follow the changed order, the wheel of generation being at the same time turned back in the opposite direction: and so in this manner necessarily springing up out of the earth they are thus named and accounted earth-born, except any whom God reserved for another destiny.

'This is certainly quite consistent with what was said before.'

Then again, as he goes on further, he discourses in the following manner concerning the consummation of the world, in agreement with the doctrines of the Hebrews:


[PLATO] 166 'FOR when the period of all these events was completed, and a change was to take place, and moreover the earth-born race had now all perished, each soul having fulfilled all its generations, and fallen into the earth for as many sowings as were appointed for each, then at length the pilot of the universe let go, as it were, the handle of the rudder, and withdrew into his own watch-tower, and Fate and an innate desire began to turn the course of the world back again.

'So all the gods who locally share the government of the chief divinity, as soon as they learnt what was going on, let go in turn the portions of the world belonging to their charge. And the world turning back and clashing together, as having received an opposite impulse from before and from behind, was mightily convulsed in itself, and wrought another destruction of animals of all kinds.

'And after this in long process of time the world ceasing from tumults and confusion and convulsions welcomed a calm, and entered in orderly array upon its own accustomed course, having charge and control over itself and all things in it.'

Again after a little while he says:

'Wherefore God, who had first set the world in order, when at length He saw that it was in helpless strait, being anxious that it should not be shattered in the confusion of the storm, and sink down into the infinite gulf of disorder, again takes His seat at the helm, and having turned back what had suffered harm and dissolution into the former circuit appointed by Himself, He arranges and restores it, and endows it with immortality and perpetual youth. Here then the story of the end of all things is told.' 167


[PLATO] 168 'THESE things, then, said I, are nothing in number nor in greatness in comparison with those other rewards which await each of them after death. And you ought to hear them, in order that each may receive in full what is due to be told to them by our argument.

'You may speak, said he, as to one who will not find the story too long, but listen all the more gladly.

'But indeed, said I, it is not the story of Alcinous that I am going to tell you, but that of a brave man Er the son of Armenius, a Pamphylian by birth, who was killed in battle, and when the dead were gathered up after ten days in a state of putrefaction, his body was taken up undecayed and carried home to be buried, and on the twelfth day when laid on the funeral pile, he came back to life, and after his revival told what he had seen in the other world.

'And he said that when his soul had departed from his body, it travelled with many others, until they came to a certain wonderful place, in which were two chasms in the earth close to each other, and others opposite to them in the heaven above.

'And between them there sat judges, who, after they had decided each case, commanded the just to proceed by the way on the right hand leading upward through the heaven, having hung around them on their breast the records of the judgements given, and the unjust by the way leading downwards on the left, these also having on their backs the records of all their deeds.

'And when he himself came forward, they said that he must be the messenger to mankind of what was done there, and they commanded him to hear and see everything in that place.'

So Plato speaks. And Plutarch also in the first Book Concerning the Soul tells a story similar to this:


[PLUTARCH] 169 'WE were present ourselves with this Antyllus: but let me tell the story to Sositeles and Heracleon. For he was ill not long ago, and the physicians thought that he could not live: but having recovered a little from a slight collapse, though he neither did nor said anything else showing derangement, he declared that he had died and been set free again, and was not going to die at all of that present illness, but that those who had carried him away were severely reproved by their lord; for having been sent for Nicandas, they had brought him back instead of the other. Now Nicandas was a shoemaker, besides being one of those who frequent the palaestrae, and familiar and well known to many. Wherefore the young men used to come and mock him, as having run away from his fate, and as having bribed the officers sent from the other world. It was evident, however, that he was himself at first a little disturbed and disquieted; and at last he was attacked by a fever, and died suddenly on the third day. But this Antyllus came to life again, and is alive and well, and one of our most agreeable friends.'

I wish to quote these statements because of the fact that in the Hebrew Scriptures there are cases mentioned of restoration to life. But since in their promises it is also contained that a certain land shall be given to the friends of God only, according to the oracle which says, 'But the meek shall inherit the land,'170 and that this is a heavenly land is made clear by the saying which declares, 'But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all';171 the prophet also intimates in an allegorical way that this same city consists of costly and precious stones, saying, 'Behold, I prepare for thee a carbuncle for thy stone, and will make thy battlements jasper, and thy foundations sapphire . . . and thy border choice stones':172 now see how Plato also confesses in the dialogue Concerning the Soul that he is persuaded of the truth of these very things, or the like. He assigns the statement to Socrates in the following manner:


[PLATO] 173 'BUT indeed, Simmias, I do not think it requires the skill of Glaucus to describe to you what it is: but to decide whether it be true, appears to me too hard even for Glaucus' skill. And not only should I perhaps find myself unable to do so, but even if I knew how, my life seems hardly long enough, Simmias, for an argument of such length. Nevertheless there is nothing to prevent my describing to you the figure of the earth, such as I am convinced it is, and its various regions. 'Well, said Simmias, even that is enough. 'My own conviction, then, said he, is first of all that, if the earth is spherical and placed in the centre of the heaven, it has no need either of air to prevent its falling, or of any other similar sustaining force, but that the perfect uniformity of the heaven in all its parts, and the very equilibrium of the earth, are sufficient to sustain it: for a thing in equilibrium placed in the centre of a similar body, will have no reason to incline more or less in any direction, but being evenly balanced will remain undeflected. This then, said he, is my first conviction. 'And quite correct, said Simmias.

'Further then, said he, I am persuaded that it is of vast size, and that we who live between the Pillars of Hercules and the Phasis occupy a very small part of it, dwelling round the sea, just as ants or frogs round a pond, and that there are many others elsewhere living in many like regions.

'For in every direction round the earth there are many hollows of various kinds both in shape and size, into which the waters and the mist and the air have flowed together; but the earth itself is pure and situated in a pure part of the heaven, wherein are the stars, and which most of those who are accustomed to speak of such things call the ether, of which these three (water, mist, and air) are a sediment, and are always flowing together into the hollows of the earth.

'We therefore are unconscious that we live in the hollows, and suppose that we are living above on the surface of the earth, just as if any one living in the midst of the bottom of the sea should suppose that he was living on the surface, and seeing the sun and the other luminaries through the water should imagine the sea to be heaven, but through sluggishness and weakness had never come up to the top of the water, nor, by rising and lifting his head up out of it into this region of ours, had ever seen how much purer and fairer it is than their own, nor had ever heard this from any one who had seen it. .

'We then are in this very same case: for while living in some hollow of the earth we imagine that we are living on the surface, and call the air heaven, as if this were the heaven through which the stars run their courses. But the fact is the same, that from weakness and sluggishness we are not able to pass out to the surface of the air: for if any one were to reach the top of it, or take wings and fly up to it. he would put out his head, and, just as the fishes here who jump up out of the water and see the objects on earth, so would a man survey the world beyond: and, if his nature were strong enough to endure the sight, he would learn that yonder is the true heaven, and the true light, and the true earth.

'For this earth and the stones and the whole region here are decayed and corroded, as the things in the sea by the brine: and there is nothing worth mentioning that grows in the sea, nor anything that is, so to say, perfect; but there are caves, and sand, and vast slime and mud-banks wherever there is land, all utterly unworthy to be compared with the beautiful things of our world.

'But on the other hand yonder world would be seen far more to surpass everything of ours. For if I must tell you a pretty fable, it is worth your while, Simmias, to hear what is the nature of the objects on that earth which lie close under the heaven.

'We certainly, Socrates, said Simmias, should be delighted to hear this fable.

'Well then, my friend, said he, it is said in the first place that the earth itself, if any one were to see it from above, is just such to look upon as the balls which are covered with twelve pieces of leather, variegated and marked by different colours, of which the colours used by our painters here on earth are, as it were, samples. But there the earth is wholly made up of colours such as these, and far more brilliant and pure.

'For part of it is purple and of marvellous beauty, and part like gold, and the part that is white is whiter than chalk or snow, and in like manner it is made up of all the other colours, and yet more in number and more beautiful than all that we have ever seen.

'For even these mere hollows of it, filled as they are with water and air, present a certain species of colour, as they gleam amid the diversity of the other colours, so that its form appears as one continuous variegated surface.

'And in this earth such as I have described it, the plants that grow are in like proportion, both trees and flowers, with their fruits; and the mountains again in like manner, and the stones have their smoothness and transparency greater in the same proportion, and their colours more beautiful: and of these the gems here, these that are so prized, are fragments, carnelians, and jaspers, and emeralds, and all such as these: but there everything without exception is of this kind, and still more beautiful than these.

'And the cause of this is that those stones are pure, and not eaten away or spoiled, like those here, by decay and brine, and by the sediments collected here, which cause ugliness and diseases in stones and earth, and in animals and plants as well. But the real earth is adorned with all these jewels, and with gold and silver besides, and all other things such as these. For they shine out on the surface, being many in number and of great size and in many places of the earth, so that to see it must be a sight for the blessed to behold.'


THE Hebrew Scripture foretells that there shall be a tribunal of God and a judgement of souls after their departure hence, in countless other passages, and where it says: 'The judgement was set, and the books were opened, . . . and the Ancient of days did sit. ... A river of fire flowed before Him; ten thousand times ten thousands ministered unto Him, and thousand thousands stood before Him.' 174 Now hear how Plato mentions the divine judgement, and the river even by name, and how he describes the many mansions of the pious, and the various punishments of the impious, in agreement with the language of the Hebrews.

For he speaks as follows in the dialogue Concerning the Soul: 175

'And midway between these a third river issues forth, and near its source falls into a vast region burning with a great fire, and forms a lake larger than our sea, boiling with water and mud: and thence it proceeds in a circular course turbid and muddy, and as it rolls round the earth, arrives, among other places, at the extremity of the Acherusian lake, but does not mingle with its water; and after making many circuits underground, it pours into a depth below Tartarus.

'Now this is it which they call Pyriphlegethon, fragments of which are thrown up by our volcanoes, wherever they occur in the earth. Opposite again to this the fourth river falls out first, as the tale goes, into a fearful and savage region, which is wholly of a colour like lapis lazuli; this is called the Stygian region, and the lake which the influx of the river forms is called Styx. Then after falling into the lake, and receiving strange properties in its water, the river sinks under the earth, and is whirled round in its course in the opposite direction to Pyriphlegethon, and meets it from the opposite side in the Acherusian lake; and its water also mingles with no other, but after flowing round in a circle this river too falls into Tartarus opposite to Pyriphlegethon: and its name is, as the poets say, Cocytus.

'Such being the nature of these regions, as soon as the dead have arrived at the place to which each is conveyed by his genius, first of all they undergo a trial, both those who have lived good and holy and just lives, and those who have not. And those who are found to have led tolerable lives proceed to Acheron, and embarking on such vessels as there are for them, they arrive on board these at the lake; and there they dwell, and by undergoing purification and suffering punishment for their evil deeds they are absolved from any wrongs they have committed, or receive rewards for their good deeds, each according to his deserts. But any who are found to be incurable by reason of the greatness of their sins, having either perpetrated many great acts of sacrilege, or many nefarious and lawless murders, or any other crimes of this kind----these are hurled by their appropriate doom into Tartarus, whence they never come forth.

'But those who are found to have committed sins which are great though not incurable, as for instance if in anger they have done any violence to father or mother, and passed the rest of their life in penitence, or have committed homicide in any other similar way, these must also be thrown into Tartarus, but after they have been thrown in and have continued there a year, they are cast out by the wave, the homicides by way of Cocytus, and the parricides by way of Pyriphlegethon: and when they arrive all on fire at the Acherusian lake, there with loud cries they call upon those whom they either slew or outraged; and having summoned them they intreat and beseech them to let them come out into the lake, and to receive them kindly: and if they persuade them, they come out, and cease from their troubles; but if not, they are carried again into Tartarus, and thence back into the rivers, and never have rest from these sufferings, until they have won over those whom they wronged; for this was the sentence appointed for them by the judges.

'But any who are found to have been pre-eminent in holiness of life----these are they who are set free and delivered from these regions here on earth, as, from prison-houses, and attain to the pure dwelling place above, and make their abode upon the upper earth. And of this same class those who have fully purified themselves by philosophy live entirely free from troubles for all time to come, and attain to habitations still fairer than these, which it is neither easy to describe, nor does the time suffice at present. But for the sake of these things which I have described we ought, Simmias, to make every effort to gain a share of virtue and of wisdom in our lifetime: for fair is the prize, and great the hope.'

So speaks Plato. And now with that passage, 'And they attain to fairer habitations, which it is neither easy to describe, nor does the time suffice at present,' you will compare that which with us runs as follows:

'For eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, 
Neither have entered into the heart of man, 
The things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.' 176 

And with the 'habitations' mentioned compare the statement that 'in the Father's house are many mansions,' 177 promised to those beloved of Him. And with what is said about Pyriphlegethon compare the eternal fire threatened to the ungodly, according to the Hebrew prophet who says to them, 'Who shall announce to us that the fire is kindled? Who shall announce to us the place of eternity?' 178 And again, 'Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be for a spectacle to all flesh.' 179

Now observe how Plato also, after saying in agreement with this that the impious will go into Tartarus, adds, 'whence they never come out.' And again after saying that the pious shall live in abodes of bliss, he adds the words, 'entirely and for all time to come.' Moreover the expression used by him 'free from troubles' is like 'pain and sorrow and sighing flee away.' 180

And when he says that those who go away to Acheron not simply arrive there, but 'embarking first in what vessels there are for them,' what vessels then does he mean to indicate but their bodies, in which the souls of the deceased embark, and share their punishment, according to the established opinions of the Hebrews? But now as this subject has been sufficiently discussed, I will pass on to the twelfth Book of the Preparation for the Gospel.

[Footnotes numbered and placed at the end]

1. 509 b 1 Atticus, Fragment preserved by Eusebius. Cf. Mullach, fr. Phil. Gr. iii. 185

2. 510 b 2 Aristocles, De Philosophia; cf. Mullach, iii. p. 206

3. 513 d 4 Prov. i. 2

4. 515 a 8 Plato, Cratylus, 383 A

5. b 1 ibid. 390 A

6. b 9 ibid. 390 D

7. d 6 Plato, Cratylus, 409 D

8. 616 a 1 Gen. ii. 19

9. 516 c 4 Gen. vi. 4

10. d 8 Ps. viii. 4

11. 517 a 9 Plato, Cratylus, 399 C

12. b 11 ibid. 414 A

13. c 5 ibid. 396 C 

14.  d 5 ibid. 397 D

15. 517 d 13 Plato, Cratylus, 393 A

16. 518 a 1 395 A

17. a 4 394 E

18. a 6 395 B

19. a 8 395 C

20. a 9 395 E

21. b 5 Gen. iv. 1

22. d 1 Gen. xvii. 5

23. d 9 Plato, Cratylus, 397 B

24. 519 a 6 Gen. xxxii. 28

25. a 9 Gen. xxvii. 36

26. a 10 Gen. xxxii. 28

27. 519 c 2 Cf. p. 474 b

28. 520 a 1 Cf. Jacobs, Greek Anthology, vol. xii. p. 34

29. 620 b 5 Gen. xiv. 13

30. 521 c 6 i Ki. iv. 32

31. d 6 Wisdom vii. 17

32. 522 a 4 Eccles. i. 1

33. a 6 ibid. 9

34. 523 c 8 Rom. i. 20

35. d 2 Ex. iii. 14

36. 524 a 2 Eccles. i. 9

37. 524 b 8 Plato, Timaeus, 27 D

38. c 2 Ex. iii. 14

39. c 9 Eccles. i. 9

40. d 6 Plato, Timaeus, 37 E

41. 525 c 1 Numenius, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius only

42. 526 c 1 Plato, Cratylus, 430 A, and frequently.

43. d 1 Plato, Timaeus. 27 D; see p. 524 b above

44. 527 b 6 Malachi iii. 6

45. 527 b 10 Ps. ci. 28

46. d 1 Plutarch, Moralia, 391 F

47. 528 b 3 Heracleitus, Fr. xii, xlii (Bywater)

48. c 5 Heracleitus, Fr. xxv.

49. 530 a 6 Ps.-Plato, Ep. vii. p. 341 C

50. b 2 Ps. iv. 7

51. b 3 Ps. xxxvi. 9 

52.  c 2 Deut. vi. 4

53. c 5 Plato, Timaeus, 31 A

54. d 1 Ps.-Plato, Ep. xiii. p. 363 B

55. 531 a 2 Plato, Laws, iv. 715 E

56. b 10 Is. xli. 4

57. c 2 Ps. xi. 7

58. c 5 Ps. xi. 7

59. c 6 Rom. xii. 20; (cp. Beat, xxxii. 35)

60. c 71 Thess. iv. 6, and Ps. xxxi. 23

61. d 1 Deut. xiii. 4

62. d 3 Ja. iv. 6

63. d 4 Job xx. 5 (Sept.)

64. 532 a 7 Gen. xix. 24

65. b 4 Ps. cx. 1

66. c 3 Ps. xxxiii. 6

67. 532 c 6 Ps. cvii. 20

68. c 12 Prov. viii. 12

69. d 2 Prov. viii. 22

70. d 7 Prov. iii. 19

71. d 10 Wisdom vii. 21

72. d 12 Wisdom vi. 22

73. d 16 Wisdom vii. 22

74. 533 a 7 Wisdom viii. 1

75. b 3 Philo Iudaeus, On the Confusion of Tongues, c. xx

76. c 2 ibid. c. xxviii

77. c 9 Gen. xlii. 11.

78. d 5 Philo Iudaeus, l.c., c. xiv

79. d 6 Zech. vi. 12

80. 534 a 5 A wrong reference; the quotations are from The Confusion of Tongues

81. b 6 Ps.-Plato, Epinomis, 986 C

82. c 10 Ps.-Plato, Ep. vi. 323 C

83. 535 b 1 Plotinus, Ennead, v. bk. i. p. 484 D

84. c 4 ibid. p. 486 A

85. c 10 ibid. p. 487 D

86. 536 a 10 Plotinus, ibid. p. 488

87. b 7 ibid. p. 489.

88. d 5 Numenius, Of the Good, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius. Cf. Mullach, iii. 167

89. 537 d 8 Ps. (ciii) civ. 24

90. 538 a 2 ibid. 27

91. b 7 John xv. 1, 5

92. c 1 Numenius, Fr. 10.

93. c 9 Numenius, ibid.

94. 539 a 5 Plato, Philebus, 16 C

95. a 8 Numenius, Fr. 10

96. b 11 Numenius, ibid.

97. d 10 John v. 19

98. 540 b 2 Amelius, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius

99. b 4 Heracleitus, Fr. ii

100. d 4 Plato. Phaedrus, 243 B (Jowett)

101. 540 d 8 John i. 1

102. 541 a 2 Col. i. 15

103. c 6 Ps.-Plato, Ep. ii. 312.

104. 542 a 4 Lam. iii. 25. Nahum i. 7

105. a 5 Ps. cvi. 1

106. a 8 Matt. xix. 7 

107.  b 4 Plato, Timaeus, 29 E

108. b 10 ibid. Republic, 508 B

109. 542 c 6 Plato, Republic, 508 E

110. c 10 ibid. 509 B

111. 643 b 4 Numenius, Fragment preserved by Eusebius. Cf. Mullach, iii. p. 170

112. 544 a 3 Numenius, ibid.

113. 544 d 4 Plato, Timaeus, 29 E

114. 545 a 1 Plato, Timaeus, 29 A

115. a 5 ibid. 30 E

116. b 6 Areius Didymus, De Platonis opiniombus, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius

117. 546 a 4 Mal. iv. 2

118. a 8 Isa. xli. 2

119. b 6 I Cor. i. 30

120. c 9 Gen. i. 27

121. d 2 Ps. xxxix. 7

122. d 7 Philo Judaeus, On the Creation of the World, § 5

123. 547 a 5 Gen. i. 27

124. b 2 Gen. i. 1

125. 547 c 8 Philo Judaeus, ibid. § 6

126. 548 b 3 ibid. § 7

127. d 1 Clement of Alexandria, Miscellany, v. 14

128. 549 a 2 Gen. i. 1

129. a 4 ibid. i. 3

130. b 1 Plato, Phaedrus, 246 C; Timaeus, 64 C

131. 549 b 2 Gen. ii. 7

132. d 1 Plato, Laws, x. 896 D

133. d 7 ibid. x. 906 A

134. 650 a 4 Job i. 13 a, 6 b

135. a 10 Ps. civ. 4, Heb. i. 7

136. b 3 Eph. vi. 12

137. b 7 Deut. xxxii. 8

138. d 6 Gen. i. 26

139. d 11 Gen. ii. 7

140. 651 a 3 Gen. i. 26

141. 551 b 1 Ps-Plato, Alcibiades, i. 133 C

142. b 8 The passage in brackets is not in the MSS. of Plato

143. c 6 Plato, Phaedo, 79 A

144. 554 c 1 Porphyry, Answer to Boethus Concerning the Soul

145. 555 b 10 Boethus, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius

146. 557 d 1 Gen. i. 1

147. d 3 ibid. ii. 4

148. d 7 Plato, Timaeus, 28 A

149. 557 d 11 Plato, Timaeus, 28 B

150. 558 a 8 ibid. 30 B

151. b 3 Gen. i. 14 

152.  c 5 Plato, Timaeus, 38 C

153. d 2 Ps. xxxiii. 6

154. 559 a 2 Gen. i. 31

155. a 4 Plato, Timaeus, 29 A

156. a 7 ibid.

157. b 2 Isa. xxxiv. 4

158. b 3 Isa. Ixv. 17, lxvi. 32

159. b 6 i Cor. vii. 31

160. c 1 Plato, Timaeus, 32 B

161. 550 c 9 Plato, Timaeus, 38 B

162. c 14 ibid. 41 A

163. d 2 ibid.

164. d 12 Plato, Politicus, 269 C

165. 561 b 2 Plato, Politicus, 271 A

166. 562 a 1 Plato, Politicus, 272 D

167. c 8 ibid. 273 D

168. d 7 Plato, Republic, x. 614 A

169. 563 d 1 Plutarch, On the Soul, Fragment iii, preserved by Eusebius

170. 564 b 3 Ps. xxxvii. 11, Matt. v. 5

171. b 5 Gal. iv. 26

172. b 8 Isa. liv. 13 

173.  d 1 Plato, Phaedo, 108 D

174. 567 b 4 Dan. vii. 10, 9

175. c 6 Plato, Phaedo, 113 A

176.  568 b 5 1 Cor. ii. 9

177.  b 9 John xiv. 3

178.  c 2 Isa. xxxiii. 14

179.  c 4 ibid. lxvi. 24

180.  d 2 Isa. xxxv. 10

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003.  All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using unicode.

Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts