Friday, May 10, 2013

The Sudden Introduction of the Valentinian Character in the De Recta in Deum Fide

840a 1 DROSERIUS2 I have listened to Marinus and his friends for a long time, and condemned their ignorance. Let me now match my strength against my son, Adamantius, for a little.
ADAMANTIUS. You must first of all define your terms, and explain what teaching you are presenting; then begin the debate.
DR. I present the teaching of Valentinus,3 a man very upright, and well able to convince you where the Devil and evil come from. I have the views of Valentinus here, and, with your permission, will read them out.
b EUTROPIUS. If the views put forward by Valentinus should be refuted by your opponents, will you answer what they put forward?
DR. I think that when the I think that when the views of Valentinus have been read, they will not be open to contradiction, for their author was no ordinary man. However, if anyone should contradict them, I will answer.
EUTR. Let the teaching of Valentinus be read! 2 []4
("So thinking in some such way on how well the world was ordered, I was returning home. But on the next day [that (138) is, today]5, when I arrived, I saw two men — of the same race6, let me emphasise — wrangling among themselves, c and abusing each other! Another, again, was trying to strip his neighbour. Some were beginning to dare things even more terrible, for a man plundered a buried corpse, dragging it to the surface and the light of the sun, thus insulting a form like his own, and leaving the dead as food for dogs. Another man bared his sword and attacked a person similar to himself. The latter tried to save himself by flight, but his assailant kept on pursuing him, and would not restrain his wrath. I do not need to say more: the pursuer reached the fugitive and struck with the sword, d Although his victim held out supplicating hands, the attacker did not abate his anger. Showing no mercy to one of his own race, nor recognizing himself in the image of the other man, he was like a wild beast, and began his devouring by means of the sword. So great was his wrath, that even now he was putting his mouth to a body like his own. Another could be seen despoiling an injured man; he had stripped him of his clothes, without even covering the body with earth. 84la On top of all this, a fellow came forward with the intention of fondling7 his neighbours wife, thus robbing another man of his marriage. Refusing the husband the right of lawful fatherhood, he was urging her to an illicit union. So now I began to believe the Tragedies... [It seemed to me that the Thyestean Banquet8 had really happened]9. I credited even the drunken lust of Oenomaus10, and no longer doubted the rivalry by which brother drew sword on brother11. Having witnessed so many things just like these, I began to investigate their origin, the (140) source of their activity, b and who is the one who devised such great evils against mankind, to learn where they were discovered, and who teaches To dare to say that God is their maker was not possible. It could not be said either that they have the subsistence of their being from Him, for how could anyone think these things of God? He is Good, and the Maker of the Best12; nothing bad belongs to him ...

4 At the beginning of the next paragraph, most of the manuscripts have the name Droserius, but it is absent from the oldest (the Venetus), from two others, and also from Rufinus. As Bakhuyzen suggests, the author seems to be chiefly concerned to present the opinions of Valentinus, and is little interested in indicating the particular person who expresses them. It may well be therefore that the original document of our Dialogue contained no name at all.

With the quotation begins the fairly extensive use of the writings of Methodius of Olympus. In the translation, with the exception of smaller phrases and sentences, the extracts are indicated generally by rounded brackets with the quotation marks in the first instance reflecting a quotation from Valentinus read to the participants in the dialogue. Page references to the work of Methodius are given at the end of such quotation. Of Methodius himself, little is known. As a writer he is considerably better as a stylist than the author of the Dialogue of Admantius, and in some respects resembles Plato, whom he strove (not altogether successfully) to imitate. He appears to have been bishop of Olympus in Lycia, southern Asia Minor, was one of the first to oppose certain teachings of Origen, and died as a martyr in the last great persection under Diocletian, ca. 311. Methodius is distinguished chiefly for his writings, of which the main ones are: The Symposium, modelled on Plato, in which ten virgins extol the virtues of virginity; On the Resurrection, insisting on the resurrection of the earthly body, and attacking the doctrine of the pre-existence of souls held by Origen; On Free Will, which opposes the Valentinian dualism and determinism. The whole of the Symposium is extant; considerable parts of the other two works also exist in the Greek, while there is a Slavonic version of the Free Will, complete except for a few gaps. The author of 'Adamantius' quotes first of all from the On Free Will, which, from the fact that it is less severe in its treatment of views attributed to Origen, may be regarded as having been written somewhat earlier than the On the Resurrection — even as far back as AD 270 (so A. Robinson, Philocalia, op. tit., p. xiv). Later in the Dialogue of Adamantius there appear quotations from and references to Methodius' other work, On the Resurrection, but this book is so antagonistic to the Origenistic view of the Resurrection that the historian Eusebius, ca. 308 exclaimed "How is it that Methodius dared to write against Origen, saying this and that about Origen's teachings?" (Cf. Ibid, p. xiv for references and discussion). But while our author used Methodius to advance his own arguments, it may doubted whether he shared his strong opposition to Origen's doctrines as such. The Dialogue does not seem to be aimed particularly at Origen himself, but rather at certain Gnostic and Marcionite teachings, and passages from Methodius (and perhaps from a number of others whom we cannot now distinguish) are chosen simply because they are felt to deal adequately with the author's themes, and quite irrespective of the sources from which they came. For the possibility that the author of the Adamantian Dialogue may have been a follower of Methodius, see our Introduction, sects. B, 4; C, 1-2. [Pretty 124 - 125]

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