Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume I/IRENAEUS/Against Heresies: Book II/Chapter XXIX.
Chapter XXIX.—Refutation of the views of the heretics as to the future destiny of the soul and body.
1. Let us return, however, to the remaining points of their system. For when they declare that, at the consummation of all things, their mother shall re-enter the Pleroma, and receive the Saviour as her consort; that they themselves, as being spiritual, when they have got rid of their animal souls, and become intellectual spirits, will be the consorts of the spiritual angels; but that the Demiurge, since they call him animal, will pass into the place of the Mother; that the souls of the righteous shall psychically repose in the intermediate place;—when they declare that like will be gathered to like, spiritual things to spiritual, while material things continue among those that are material, they do in fact contradict themselves, inasmuch as they no longer maintain that souls pass, on account of their nature, into the intermediate place to those substances which are similar to themselves, but [that they do so] on account of the deeds done [in the body], since they affirm that those of the righteous do pass [into that abode], but those of the impious continue in the fire. For if it is on account of their nature that all souls attain to the place of enjoyment, and all belong to the intermediate place simply because they are souls, as being thus of the same nature with it, then it follows that faith is altogether superfluous, as was also the descent of the Saviour [to this world]. If, on the other hand, it is on account of their righteousness [that they attain to such a place of rest], then it is no longer because they are souls but because they are righteous. But if souls would have perished unless they had been righteous, then righteousness must have power to save the bodies also [which these souls inhabited]; for why should it not save them, since they, too, participated in righteousness? For if nature and substance are the means of salvation, then all souls shall be saved; but if righteousness and faith, why should these not save those bodies which, equally with the souls, will enter into
immortality? For righteousness will appear, in matters of this kind, either impotent or unjust, if indeed it saves some substances through participating in it, but not others.
2. For it is manifest that those acts which are deemed righteous are performed in bodies. Either, therefore, all souls will of necessity pass into the intermediate place, and there will never be a judgment; or bodies, too, which have participated in righteousness, will attain to the place of enjoyment, along with the souls which have in like manner participated, if indeed righteousness is powerful enough to bring thither those substances which have participated in it. And then the doctrine concerning the resurrection of bodies which we believe, will emerge true and certain [from their system]; since, [as we hold,] God, when He resuscitates our mortal bodies which preserved righteousness, will render them incorruptible and immortal. For God is superior to nature, and has in Himself the disposition [to show kindness], because He is good; and the ability to do so, because He is mighty; and the faculty of fully carrying out His purpose, because He is rich and perfect.
3. But these men are in all points inconsistent with themselves, when they decide that all souls do not enter into the intermediate place, but those of the righteous only. For they maintain that, according to nature and substance, three sorts [of being] were produced by the Mother: the first, which proceeded from perplexity, and weariness, and fear—that is material substance; the second from impetuosity—that is animal substance; but that which she brought forth after the vision of those angels who wait upon Christ, is spiritual substance. If, then, that substance which she brought forth will by all means enter into the Pleroma because it is spiritual, while that which is material will remain below because it is material, and shall be totally consumed by the fire which burns within it, why should not the whole animal substance go into the intermediate place, into which also they send the Demiurge? But what is it which shall enter within their Pleroma? For they maintain that souls shall continue in the intermediate place, while bodies, because they possess material substance, when they have been resolved into matter, shall be consumed by that fire which exists in it; but their body being thus destroyed, and their soul remaining in the intermediate place, no part of man will any longer be left to enter in within the Pleroma. For the intellect of man—his mind, thought, mental intention, and such like—is nothing else than his soul; but the emotions and operations of the soul itself have no substance apart from the soul. What part of them, then, will still remain to enter into the Pleroma? For they themselves, in as far as they are souls, remain in the intermediate place; while, in as far as they are body, they will be consumed with the rest of matter.
- Comp. i. 7, 1.
- “Refrigerium,” place of refreshment.
- Billius, with great apparent reason, proposes to read “descensio” for the unintelligible “discessio” of the Latin text.
- Grabe and Massuet read, “Si autem animæ perire inciperent, nisi justæ fuissent,” for “Si autem animæ quæ perituræ essent inciperent nisi justæ fuissent,”—words which defy all translation.
- The text is here uncertain and confused; but, as Harvey remarks, “the argument is this, That if souls are saved qua intellectual substance, then all are saved alike; but if by reason of any moral qualities, then the bodies that have executed the moral purposes of the soul, must also be considered to be heirs of salvation.”
- “De impetu:” it is generally supposed that these words correspond to ἐκ τῆς ἐπιστροφῆς (comp. i. 5, 1), but Harvey thinks ἐξ ὁρμῆς preferable (i. 4, 1).
- The syntax of this sentence is in utter confusion, but the meaning is doubtless that given above.