Thursday, February 04, 2010

Irenaeus on Valentinian Biblical Interpretation

I'm currently reading Irenaeus' Against Heresies on the bus ride home these days. It is interesting how, in Irenaeus' view, the Valentinians attempted to justify their views from Scripture. Irenaeus is very critical of their biblicism that departs from the catholic faith. He writes:

"They declare also that Paul has referred to the conjunctions within the Pleroma, showing them forth by means of one; for, when writing of the conjugal union in this life, he expressed himself thus: 'This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church'. Further, they teach that John, the disciple of the Lord, indicated the first Ogdoad, expressing themselves in these words: John, the disciple of the Lord, wishing to set forth the origin of all things so as to explain how the Father produced the whole, lays down a certain principle, - that, namely, which was first-begotten by God, which Being he has termed both the only-begotten Son and God, in whom the Father, after a seminal manner, brought forth all things. By him the Word was producing, and in him the whole substance of Aeons, to which the Word himself afterwards imparted form" (Adv Haer 1.8.4-5).


Jeremiah said...

Irenaeus is always a fun read. I especially enjoyed his mockery of the distinctions within the Pleroma with his discussion of the gourd, melon, and cucumber.

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