Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume I/IRENAEUS/Against Heresies: Book II/Chapter XX.
Chapter XX.—Futility of the arguments adduced to demonstrate the sufferings of the twelfth Æon, from the parables, the treachery of Judas, and the passion of our Saviour.
1. That they improperly and illogically apply both the parables and the actions of the Lord to their falsely-devised system, I prove as follows: They endeavour, for instance, to demonstrate that passion which, they say, happened in the case of the twelfth Æon, from this fact, that the passion of the Saviour was brought about by the twelfth apostle, and happened in the twelfth month. For they hold that He preached [only] for one year after His baptism. They maintain also that the same thing was clearly set forth in the case of her who suffered from the issue of blood. For the woman suffered during twelve years, and
through touching the hem of the Saviour’s garment she was made whole by that power which went forth from the Saviour, and which, they affirm, had a previous existence. For that Power who suffered was stretching herself outwards and flowing into immensity, so that she was in danger of being dissolved into the general substance [of the Æons]; but then, touching the primary Tetrad, which is typified by the hem of the garment, she was arrested, and ceased from her passion.
2. Then, again, as to their assertion that the passion of the twelfth Æon was proved through the conduct of Judas, how is it possible that Judas can be compared [with this Æon] as being an emblem of her—he who was expelled from the number of the twelve, and never restored to his place? For that Æon, whose type they declare Judas to be, after being separated from her Enthymesis, was restored or recalled [to her former position]; but Judas was deprived [of his office], and cast out, while Matthias was ordained in his place, according to what is written, “And his bishopric let another take.” They ought therefore to maintain that the twelfth Æon was cast out of the Pleroma, and that another was produced, or sent forth to fill her place; if, that is to say, she is pointed at in Judas. Moreover, they tell us that it was the Æon herself who suffered, but Judas was the betrayer, [and not the sufferer.] Even they themselves acknowledge that it was the suffering Christ, and not Judas, who came to [the endurance of] passion. How, then, could Judas, the betrayer of Him who had to suffer for our salvation, be the type and image of that Æon who suffered?
3. But, in truth, the passion of Christ was neither similar to the passion of the Æon, nor did it take place in similar circumstances. For the Æon underwent a passion of dissolution and destruction, so that she who suffered was in danger also of being destroyed. But the Lord, our Christ, underwent a valid, and not a merely accidental passion; not only was He Himself not in danger of being destroyed, but He also established fallen man by His own strength, and recalled him to incorruption. The Æon, again, underwent passion while she was seeking after the Father, and was not able to find Him; but the Lord suffered that He might bring those who have wandered from the Father, back to knowledge and to His fellowship. The search into the greatness of the Father became to her a passion leading to destruction; but the Lord, having suffered, and bestowing the knowledge of the Father, conferred on us salvation. Her passion, as they declare, gave origin to a female offspring, weak, infirm, unformed, and ineffective; but His passion gave rise to strength and power. For the Lord, through means of suffering, “ascending into the lofty place, led captivity captive, gave gifts to men,” and conferred on those that believe in Him the power “to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and on all the power of the enemy,” that is, of the leader of apostasy. Our Lord also by His passion destroyed death, and dispersed error, and put an end to corruption, and destroyed ignorance, while He manifested life and revealed truth, and bestowed the gift of incorruption. But their Æon, when she had suffered, established ignorance, and brought forth a substance without shape, out of which all material works have been produced—death, corruption, error, and such like.
4. Judas, then, the twelfth in order of the disciples, was not a type of the suffering Æon, nor, again, was the passion of the Lord; for these two things have been shown to be in every respect mutually dissimilar and inharmonious. This is the case not only as respects the points which I have already mentioned, but with regard to the very number. For that Judas the traitor is the twelfth in order, is agreed upon by all, there being twelve apostles mentioned by name in the Gospel. But this Æon is not the twelfth, but the thirtieth; for, according to the views under consideration, there were not twelve Æons only produced by the will of the Father, nor was she sent forth the twelfth in order: they reckon her, [on the contrary,] as having been produced in the thirtieth place. How, then, can Judas, the twelfth in order, be the type and image of that Æon who occupies the thirtieth place?
5. But if they say that Judas in perishing was the image of her Enthymesis, neither in this way will the image bear any analogy to that truth which [by hypothesis] corresponds to it. For the Enthymesis having been separated from the Æon, and itself afterwards receiving a shape from Christ, then being made a partaker of intelligence by the Saviour, and having formed all things which are outside of the Pleroma, after the image of those which are within the Pleroma, is said at last to have been received by them into the Pleroma, and, according to [the principle of] conjunction, to have been united to that Saviour who was formed out of all. But Judas having been once for all cast away, never returns
into the number of the disciples; otherwise a different person would not have been chosen to fill his place. Besides, the Lord also declared regarding him, “Woe to the man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed;” and, “It were better for him if he had never been born;” and he was called the “son of perdition” by Him. If, however, they say that Judas was a type of the Enthymesis, not as separated from the Æon, but of the passion entwined with her, neither in this way can the number twelve be regarded as a [fitting] type of the number three. For in the one case Judas was cast away, and Matthias was ordained instead of him; but in the other case the Æon is said to have been in danger of dissolution and destruction, and [there are also] her Enthymesis and passion: for they markedly distinguish Enthymesis from the passion; and they represent the Æon as being restored, and Enthymesis as acquiring form, but the passion, when separated from these, as becoming matter. Since, therefore, there are thus these three, the Æon, her Enthymesis, and her passion, Judas and Matthias, being only two, cannot be the types of them.
- Or, “from the twelfth number”—the twelfth position among the apostles.
- Acts i. 20, from Ps. cix. 8.
- The text is here uncertain. Most editions read “et quæ non cederet,” but Harvey prefers “quæ non accederet” (for “accideret”), and remarks that the corresponding Greek would be καὶ οὐ τυχόν, which we have translated as above.
- “Corruptum hominem.”
- Ps. lxviii. 18; Eph. iv. 8.
- Luke x. 19; [Mark xvi. 17, 18.]
- Though the reading “substituit” is found in all the mss. and editions, it has been deemed corrupt, and “sustinuit” has been proposed instead of it. Harvey supposes it the equivalent of ὑπέστησε, and then somewhat strangely adds “for ἀπέστησε.” There seems to us no difficulty in the word, and consequently no necessity for change.
- Compare, in illustration of this sentence, book i. 4, 1, and i. 4, 5.
- Matt. xxvi. 24.
- Mark xiv. 21.
- John xvii. 12.