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KGN -- IIa

Second Century

1 The mirror of the goodness of God, of his power and of his wisdom, is those things which in the beginning, have from nothing become something.

2 In the second natural contemplation we see the ‘greatly various wisdom’ [Eph. 3, 10] of Christ, that of which he made use to create the worlds; but in the gnosis which concerns the logikoi, we have been instructed on the subject of his substance.

3 The first of all the gnoses is the gnosis of the Monad and the Unity and more ancient than all natural contemplation is the spiritual gnosis; this latter, indeed, has gone out from before (the face of)† the Creator and it has appeared with the nature which it has accompanied.

4 Although the transformations are numerous, we have received the gnosis of four only: the first, the second, the last and that which precedes it. The first is, as it is said, the passage from vice to virtue; the second is that from dispassion to the second natural contemplation; the third is (the passage)* from the latter to the gnosis that concerns the logikoi; and the fourth is the passage from all to the gnosis of the Holy Trinity.

5 The body of that which is, is the contemplation of beings, and the soul of that which is, is the gnosis of the Unity. He who knows the soul is called the soul of that which is, and those who know the body are named body of this soul.

6 The praktike soul which by the grace of God has triumphed and has departed from the body will be in the regions of gnosis where the wings of its dispassion will make it arrive.[1]

7 These will be the heirs for the soul after death: those who have been helpers for it for virtue or vice.

8 The wealth of the soul is gnosis, and its poverty, ignorance; but if ignorance is the privation of gnosis, then wealth is prior to poverty and the health of the soul (prior)† to its illness.

9 Who knows the operation of the commandments? Who comprehends the powers of the soul, and how these former things heal these latter things and push them to the contemplation of the things which are?

10 The things which draw near to us by the senses are desirable, but more desirable than they is their contemplation. But because the sense does not attain to gnosis on account of our weakness, the former thing is considered as superior to the latter thing, which has not yet been attained.

11 In regard to all that is constituted of the four elements, whether a thing be at a distance or whether it be near, it is possible for us to receive a likeness of it. But only our nous is for us incomprehensible, just as God, its Author (is)†. It is not possible, indeed, for us to comprehend a nature susceptible of the Holy Trinity, nor to comprehend the Unity, substantial gnosis.

12 The right of the Lord is also called hand, but his hand is not also called right. And his hand receives increase and decrease, but that does not also occur to the right.

13 The first contemplation of nature has sufficed for the genesis of the reasonable nature, and the second suffices also for its conversion.

14 Those who live in equal bodies are not in the same gnosis but in the same world. And those who are in the same gnosis are in equality of bodies and in the same world.

15 When the reasonable nature receives the contemplation which concerns it, then all the power of the nous will be healthy.

16 Such is the contemplation of all that has been produced and will be produced, that the nature which is susceptible of it will be able also to receive the gnosis of the Trinity.

17 The destruction of worlds, the dissolution of bodies and the abolition of names accompany the gnosis which concerns the logikoi, whereas there remains the equality of gnosis according to the equality of substances.[2]

18 Just as the nature of bodies is hidden by the qualities which abide in them (i.e. the bodies)† and make them pass from one to another without cease, so the reasonable nature is hidden by virtue and gnosis, or by vice and ignorance. And to say that one of these second things might naturally have been made with the logikoi is not just, because it is with the systasis of the nature that it has appeared.

19 The gnosis which concerns the logikoi is more ancient than duality, and the knowing nature (more ancient)* than all the natures.

20 At the end, the Creator reveals the second natural contemplation, which in the beginning was immaterial, to the nature of the logikoi by means of matter.

21 All that has been produced proclaims ‘the most various wisdom of God’ [Eph. 3, 10], but there is nothing among all the beings which teaches us concerning his nature.

22 Just as the Word makes known the nature of the Father, so the reasonable nature (makes known)* that of the Christ.

23 The image of the essence of God also knows the contemplation of things which are; but it is not absolutely so that he who knows the contemplation of beings is the image of God.

24 There is only one of these who has acquired common names with the others.

25 Just as this body is called the seed of the ear (of wheat)† to come, so also this present world will be called seed of that which will be after it.

26 If ‘the wheat’ bears the sign of virtue and ‘the straw’ the sign of vice [cf. Matt. 3, 12], the world to come is the sign of the amber which will attract the straw to it.

27 The nous, when it considers the intelligibles sometimes receives their vision separately and sometimes also becomes a seer of objects.

28 The sensible eye, when it regards something visible, does not see the whole of it; but the intelligible eye either has not seen, or, when it sees, immediately surrounds from all sides that which it sees.

29 Just as the fire in power possesses its body, so also the nous in power will possess the soul, when it will be entirely mixed with the light of the Holy Trinity.

30 The Holy Powers know also the mental representations of all those things of which they have received the governance; but the governance of those of whom they know the mental representations has not been confided to them absolutely.

31 Men live three lives: the first, the second and the third. Those who belong to the first nature receive the first and second lives; but those who participate in the second nature (receive)* the third life. And it is said that the first life proceeds from that which is, but that the second and third lives (proceed)* from that which is not.

32 Just as it is not the materials which nourish the body but their power, so it is not the objects which make the soul to increase, but their contemplation.[3]

33 Among the objects of material gnosis, some are first and others second. The first are corruptible in potentiality, and the second (are corruptible)* in potentiality and in act.

34 Just as the stone of Magnesia[4] attracts iron to itself by its natural power, so the holy gnosis naturally attracts to itself the pure nous.

35 The nous also possesses five spiritual senses, with which it senses[5] the materials with which it is related. Sight shows it intelligible objects nakedly; with the ear, it receives the logoi[6] which concern them (i.e. the intelligible objects)†; it takes delight in the odour which is foreign to every fraudulent odour, and the mouth receives the taste of them (i.e. the intelligible objects)†; by means of touch, it is confirmed, in knowing the exact proof of the objects.[7]

36 The true logos which concerns the intelligible objects has not been entrusted from now to all the seers of those intelligible objects; and it is no more those to whom have been entrusted their logoi, so that they see them, who see also their objects. But there are in this some who even obtain both these distinctions, those who are called ‘the first-born of their brothers’ [Rom. 8, 29].

37 There is in this one among all the beings who is without name and of which the region is not known.

38 Of what is the nature in the days before the Passion and of what is the gnosis of the Holy Pentecost?[8]

39 The five are related to the fifty,[9] and the former are the preparers of the gnosis of the latter.

40 The four are related to the forty,[10] and in the former is the contemplation of the forty.

41 In this there is one who, without the four and the five, knows the forty and the fifty.

42 Who will come to the Holy Easter and who will know the Holy Pentecost?

43 There is in this one who has been left there and the same will be found there.

44 It is not all the saints who eat the bread, but all drink the chalice.

45 The organs of sense and the nous partake of the sensibles; but the nous alone has the cognition of intelligibles, that (nous) which becomes a seer of objects and of mental representations.[11]

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[1] For this chapter O’Laughlin (O’Laughlin p.151 ) quotes from Hausherr a Greek fragment which reads (our translation): ‘The soul which with God has accomplished the practical life (praktike) and which has been loosed from the body comes to be in those places of gnosis in which the wing of dispassion (apatheia) will bring it to rest.’

[2] Cf. Anathema 14, Fifth Ecumenical Synod, 553. (Note of the French Translator.)

[3] O’Laughlin (O’Laughlin p. 141), quotes from Muyldermans a Greek fragment which reads (our translation): ‘Just as it is not the materials but their qualities that the bodies, thus it is not the objects but the contemplations that concern them that increase the soul.’ The actual Greek text has ‘pervert’ instead of ‘nourish’, but this is surely a copyist’s error, the Greek words differing by one letter, and we have emended accordingly.

[4] The magnet.

[5] It would be better to say, here, ‘cognizes’ since what is being referred to is the intelligible object that is directly perceived by the mind (nous) which makes use of its spiritual faculties of sense. Similarly, the following word, ‘materials’, must be construed here to mean ‘intelligible objects’ and not ‘material objects’.

[6] Logos (plural, logoi) means ‘reason’ or ‘word’.

[7] For this chapter, O’Laughlin (O’Laughlin p. 161) quotes from Muyldermans a Greek fragment which reads (our translation): ‘The mind (nous) also possesses five spiritual senses through which it apprehends its familiar materials: sight presents to it bare the intelligible objects themselves; the hearing receives the reasons (logoi) concerning them [i.e. those intelligible objects]; the sense of smell enjoys the aroma which is unmixed with any lie; and the mouth partakes of the pleasure which is from them; by means of the sense of touch, then, it [i.e. the mind (nous)] is confirmed with the exact proof of the objects received.’

[8] The period of Great Lent, forty days long and the period from Easter to Pentecost, fifty days long.

[9] The five senses and the fifty days from Easter to Pentecost.

[10] The four elements and the forty days of Great Lent.

[11] For this chapter, O’Laughlin (O’Laughlin p. 176) presents from Muyldermans a Greek fragment which reads (our translation): ‘The sense and the mind (nous) divide among themselves the sensible things, but the mind (nous) alone has the intelligible things (noeta), for the mind (nous) becomes a seer both of the objects and of the reasons (logoi).’


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