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Alexander of Lycopolis - Of the Manicheans

Alexander of Lycopolis - Of the Manicheans

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Published by Miguel Vas
A treatise on the heresy of Manes - Manichaeism
A treatise on the heresy of Manes - Manichaeism

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Published by: Miguel Vas on Jul 28, 2013
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Alexander of LycopolisOf the ManicheansChapter 1. The Excellence of the Christian Philosophy;The Origin of Heresies Amongst Christians
Thephilosophyof theChristiansis termed simple. But it bestows very great attention to the formation of manners, enigmatically insinuating words of more certaintruthrespectingGod;the principal of which, so far as any earnest serious purpose in those matters is concerned, all will have receivedwhen they assume an efficientcause,very noble and very ancient, as theoriginator of all things that haveexistence.ForChristiansleaving to ethical students matters more toilsome and difficult, as, for instance, whatisvirtue,moral andintellectual; and to those who employ their time informing hypotheses respecting morals, and thepassionsand affections,without marking out any element by which eachvirtueis to be attained, andheaping up, as it were, at random precepts less subtle
the commonpeople, hearing these, even as we learn by experience, make great progressin modesty, and a character of pietyis imprinted on their manners,quickening the moral disposition which from such usages is formed, andleading them by degrees to the desire of what ishonourableand good.But this being divided into many questions by the number of those whocome after, there arise many, just as is the case with those who are devotedto dialectics, some more skilful than others, and, so to speak, moresagacious in handling nice and subtle questions; so that now they comeforward asparentsand originators of sectsandheresies.And by these the formation of morals is hindered and rendered obscure; for those do notattain unto certain verity of discourse who wish to become the heads of thesects,and the common people is to a greater degree excited to strifeand contention. And there being no rule nor law by which a solution may beobtained of the things which are called in question, but, as in other matters,this ambitious rivalry running out into excess, there is nothing to which itdoes notcausedamage and injury.
Chapter 2. The Age of Manicaeus, or Manes; His FirstDisciples; The Two Principles; Manichaean Matter
So in these matters also, while in novelty of opinion each endeavours toshow himself first and superior, they brought thisphilosophy,which issimple, almost to a nullity. Such was he whom theycall Manichaeus, a Persian by race, my instructor in whose doctrine was
 
onePapus by name, and after him Thomas, and some others followed them.They say that the man lived when Valerian was emperor, and that he servedunder Sapor, the king of the Persians, and having offended him in someway, wasput to death.Some such report of hischaracter andreputationhas come to hie from those who were intimately acquainted with him. He laiddown two principles, God andMatter. God he called good, and matter heaffirmed to beevil.But God excelled more in good than matter inevil.But he calls matter not that whichPlatocalls it, which becomes everything whenit has received quality and figure, whence he terms it all-embracing
themother and nurse of all things; nor what Aristotle calls an element, withwhich form and privation have to do, but something beside these. For themotion which in individual things is incomposite, this he calls matter, On theside of God are ranged powers, like handmaids, allgood; and likewise, on theside of matter are ranged other powers, allevil.Moreover, the brightshining, the light, and the superior, all these are withGod;while theobscure, and the darkness, and the inferior are with matter.God,too, hasdesires, but they are all good; and matter, likewise, which are allevil. 
Chapter 3. The Fancies of Manichaeus Concerning Matter
It came to pass on a time that matter conceived a desire to attain to thesuperior region; and when it had arrived there, it admired the brightnessand the light which was withGod.And, indeed, it wished to seize on for itself the place of pre-eminence, and to remove Godfrom His position.God, moreover, deliberated how to avenge Himself upon matter, but wasdestitute of theevilnecessary to do so, forevildoes not exist in the house and abode of God.He sent, therefore, the power which we callthesoulinto matter, to permeate it entirely. For it will be the deathof matter, when at length hereafter this power is separated from it. So,therefore, by theprovidenceofGod,thesoulwas commingled with matter, an unlike thing with an unlike. Now by this commingling thesoulhascontractedevil,and labours under the same infirmity as matter. For, just asin a corrupted vessel, the contents are oftentimes vitiated in quality, so, alsothesoulthat is in matter suffers some such change, and is deteriorated fromits own nature so as to participate in theevilof matter. But Godhadcompassion upon thesoul,and sent forth another power, which wecall 
 that is, the Creator of all things; and when this power hadarrived, and taken in hand the creation of the world, it separatedfrom matter as much power as from the commingling had contractednoviceand stain, and hence the sun and moon were first formed; but thatwhich had contracted some slight and moderate stain, this becamethe J stars and the expanse of heaven. Of the matter from which the sunand the moon was separated, part was cast entirely out of the world, and isthat fire in which, indeed, there is the power of burning, although in itself it
 
is dark and void of light, being closely similar to night. But in the rest of theelements, both animal and vegetable, in those the divine power is unequallymingled. And therefore the world was made, and in it the sun and moon whopreside over the birth and death of things, by separating thedivinevirtuef rom matter, and transmitting it toGod. 
Chapter 4. The Moon's Increase and Wane; TheManichaean Trifling Respecting It; Their Dreams AboutMan and Christ; Their Foolish System of Abstinence
He ordained this, forsooth, to supply to the 
,or Creator, anotherpower which might attract to the splendour of the sun; and the thing ismanifest, as one might say, even to a blind person. For the moon in itsincrease receives thevirtuewhich is separated frommatter, and duringthe time of its augmentation comes forth full of it. But when it is full, in itswanings, it remits it to the sun, and the sun goes back toGod.And when ithas done this, it waits again to receive from another full moon a migration of thesoulto itself, and receiving this in the same way, it suffers it to pass ontoGod.And this is its work continually, and in every age. And in the sunsome such image is seen, as is the form of man. And matter ambitiouslystrove to make man from itself by mingling together all itsvirtue,so that itmight have some portion of soul.But his form contributed muchto man's obtaining a greater share, and one beyond all other animals, in thedivinevirtue.For he is the image of the divinevirtue,but Christ is the intelligence. Who, when He had at length come from the superior region,dismissed a very great part of thisvirtuetoGod.And at length being crucified, in this way He furnishedknowledge,and fitted the divinevirtueto be crucified in matter. Because, therefore, it is the Divine will and decreethat matter should perish, theyabstain from those things which have life,and feed upon vegetables, and everything which is void of sense.They abstain also frommarriage and theritesof Venus, and the procreationof children, thatvirtuemay not strike its root deeper in matter by thesuccession of race; nor do they go abroad, seeking to purify themselvesfrom the stain whichvirtuehas contracted from its admixture with matter.
Chapter 5. The Worship of the Sun and Moon Under God;Support Sought for the Manichaeans in the GrecianFables; The Authority of the Scriptures and FaithDespised by the Manichaeans
These things are the principal of what they say and think. Andtheyhonourvery especially the sun and moon, not as gods, but as the wayby which it is possible to attain untoGod.But when the divinevirtuehas

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