Creation Days According to the Church Fathers

 We assert that Moses spoke in the literal sense, not allegorically or figuratively, i.e., that the world, with all its creatures, was created within six days, as the words read.  (Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis)

 

The Early Church Fathers

The early Church Fathers were men who believed in Jesus as their Savior and Lord and were the leaders of the church after the time of the original twelve apostles.  They defended and proclaimed the death and resurrection of Jesus and the Bible as a whole.  Their writings show us that they spent great amounts of time attempting to disprove false teachings that arose.  The issue of creation was certainly one of those.

 

The Church Fathers wrote against the Greek teaching that there was not a beginning, that the universe was infinite.  They also wrote against spontaneous generation, which taught that life merely sprang up all by itself without a creator – which has similarities to the ideas of Charles Darwin known today as abiogenesis.  We need to keep in mind, as stated earlier, that just because the Church Fathers have a particular interpretation of a passage, it does not automatically mean that we have to agree with them.  They were men who could make mistakes and their writings are not considered inspired like the Bible.  However, they are indicative of what the early church believed Scripture was teaching.  Because of the sheer number of their writings, we will only look at the most salient of writers; just the ante-Nicene Fathers (the writings of the Fathers from approximately the second until the fourth century A.D.) who wrote thousands of pages – enough to occupy a lifetime of study.

 

Twisting the Words of the Early Fathers

The Church Fathers, like the ancient Jewish writers, have been appealed to by those who believe in an old earth to establish that the Bible truly teaches that the heavens and earth are very old.  As we noted earlier, Dr. Ross has claimed that many of the Church Fathers believed in an old earth rather than in a young earth.

 

It is twisting the facts, however, to say that “many of the early Church Fathers […] interpret the creation days […] as long periods of time.” (Ross 1991: 141)  We have already demonstrated that Josephus, whom he includes in his list, thought just the opposite and dates the age of the world to about 5800 years.  In a similar fashion, the vast majority of early Church Fathers believed that Genesis 1-2 spoke of literal days, not long periods of time.

 

Ross’s poor scholarship has unfortunately led many to believe that the Church Fathers believed in day-ages when in fact they did not.  Dr. Joshua Zorn discusses how he used to believe in a young earth and was very zealous until he learned more about science and in particular, read that the ancient Jewish and Christian interpreters believed in long days of creation.

 

For me it was surprising to find out that very few of the early Jewish interpreters or Church Fathers held to the six consecutive twenty-four-hour day interpretation of Genesis 1. In Creation and Time, Ross has documented that Philo, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Clement of Alexandra, Origin, Augustine, Basil, and others all held to other interpretations.  (Zorn 1997: 3)

 

Contrary to what Hugh Ross claims, practically none of the Church Fathers believed in long days of creation, which explains Zorn’s surprise.  Again, we note that the Church Fathers are not the standard by which we measure Scripture; they were fallible.  They do, however, provide a window into how ancient believers understood and interpreted Scripture.  If nearly every ancient interpreter understood the days of Genesis to be literal, then there exists no historical basis to believe in anything but six, literal days of creation.

 

Let’s survey what some of the Church Fathers thought about Genesis 1 and 2 and whether they indeed support the position that the universe and the earth are billions of years old.

Barnabas

The Epistle of Barnabas[i] was probably written between 70 A.D. and 135 A.D. possibly by an Alexandrian Jew, though authorship is not clear.  “The Epistle of Barnabas is, like I Clement, really anonymous…” (Lake 1912: 337-339).  While we are not so concerned with proving who indeed actually wrote it, we are interested in mining the interpretation of an ancient Christian regarding the creation.  From Chapter 15 on, covering the topic of the false and the true Sabbath, we read:

Further, also, it is written concerning the Sabbath in the Decalogue which [the Lord] spoke, face to face, to Moses on Mount Sinai, “And sanctify ye the Sabbath of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart”… The Sabbath is mentioned at the beginning of the creation [thus]: “And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it.” Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is with Him a thousand years. (emphasis mine)

 

Contrary to believing in an old earth and universe, this author believed that the total span of earth’s history would last 7000 years and then God would “make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world.”  How much more clarity in a creation time line could one ask for?  This author was by far not the only one to hold to the belief that the six, literal days of creation multiplied by 1000, was equal the total time in years which the earth would exist.  It would also be wrong to conclude that the author somehow thought that the days in Genesis were not actual days.  It is precisely because those days were real, literal days that the formula worked in his mind.  Because the days of creation were real and definite units of time, so too would be the duration of earth’s history – a grand total of 7000 years.

 

Irenaeus

Irenaeus, an early church father of the second century in the area of modern day France, in his work, Against Heresies reiterates the formula the author of the Epistle of Barnabas so plainly put forth.  Irenaeus says:

 

For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: “Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works.” (Genesis 2:2) This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; (2 Peter 3:8) and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year. (Irenaeus Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 28 emphasis mine)

 

Irenaeus is discussing the end of the age, but plainly believed the days of creation to be literal.  “For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded.”  Irenaeus believed that the world would end after six thousand years precisely because the creation was finished after six days.  If we reverse the formula where one day equals one thousand years, then there is no other conclusion that may be drawn concerning how long he believed those first days of creation to be.  If God will rest after 6000 years, and if the formula is that 1000 years equals a day, then the days of creation must be nothing other than 24-hour days.  If the number of years until the end of the world is believed to be definite and concrete by Irenaeus, then he must have believed that the days of creation were literal as well.

 

Theophilus of Antioch

 

Theophilus of Antioch, born around 115 A.D. and died about 185 A.D., was a prolific writer of the early church.  Theophilus was an apologist especially concerned with refuting the false teachers of his day.  Theophilus, writing to “Autolycus an Idolater and Scorner of Christians”, states concerning the six days of creation that,

Of this six days’ work no man can give a worthy explanation and description of all its parts…on account of the exceeding greatness and riches of the wisdom of God which there is in the six days’ work above narrated. (Theophilus: Book 1, Chapter 1)

He later says, “But the power of God is shown in this, that, first of all, He creates out of nothing, according to His will, the things that are made” (Chapter 8).  He thus establishes that, contrary to Greek thought, there was nothing before God began His work of creation.  Interestingly, in light of the evolution plus God theories, Theophilus writes concerning the creation of the luminaries and how God created them later so as to confound the vain philosophers.

On the fourth day the luminaries were made; because God, Who possesses foreknowledge, knew the follies of the vain philosophers, that they were going to say, that the things which grow on the earth are produced from the heavenly bodies, so as to exclude God. In order, therefore, that the truth might be obvious, the plants and seeds were produced prior to the heavenly bodies, for what is posterior cannot produce that which is prior.  (Book 2, Chapter 15 emphasis mine)

 

God Finished in Six Days

The current evolutionary (abiogenesis) model teaches that life spontaneously generated in the primordial soup of the earth.  A necessary condition for the generation of life was the presence of the sun to provide the light, warmth, and energy for that life to miraculously begin.  Theophilus, who obviously knew nothing of the paradigm of biological evolution, seems to have preempted the idea.  The thought of spontaneous generation did not begin with Darwin; it was a belief held by the ancient Greeks.  Theophilus was specifically attacking the belief that the sun was necessary for the generation of plant life.  It is also significant that those holding both evolutionary timescale and the Bible as being true (Progressive Creation and Theistic Evolution) have to reinterpret the text of Genesis 1 to make it fit their preconceptions.  Theophilus, however, wrote extensively to disprove such theories that contradicted the Scriptures as he understood them.  He then gives a summary statement of all that God had done, “God, having thus completed the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that are in them, on the sixth day, rested on the seventh day from all His works which He made” (Chapter XIX).  Later in chapter 23 he states again:

 

Man, therefore, God made on the sixth day, and made known this creation after the seventh day, when also He made Paradise, that he might be in a better and distinctly superior place. And that this is true, the fact itself proves. For how can one miss seeing that the pains which women suffer in childbed, and the oblivion of their labours which they afterwards enjoy, are sent in order that the word of God may be fulfilled, and that the race of men may increase and multiply? And do we not see also the judgment of the serpent, — how hatefully he crawls on his belly and eats the dust, — that we may have this, too, for a proof of the things which were said aforetime? (Book 2, Chapter 23)

 

According to his logic, the facts that we see the pains associated with childbirth and that snakes do indeed crawl on their bellies proves that God created just as Genesis declared.  Whether or not we agree with his logic is irrelevant.  What is important for our study is to see that another church father understood the events of Genesis 1 – 3 as very real and literal events.  They were historical events.  The days were literal days.  To further confirm those facts, Theophilus establishes that the fall of man and the deception of the woman were at the beginning.  This makes perfect sense if the days of creation were only six, real days, but not if creation lasted billions of years as Theistic Evolution and Progressive Creationism purport.  “This Eve, on account of her having been in the beginning deceived by the serpent […]” (Chapter 28 emphasis mine).

 

Theophilus’ Simple Arithmetic

Many old earth advocates suggest that belief in a young earth of about 6000 years is a fairly recent one.  Theophilus apparently wasn’t aware that he was supposed to believe in an old earth as we have already demonstrated.  But just to let us know what he really thought, he left us yet another clear proof that he thought that creation had taken place only several thousand years before his own time.  In book 3 chapter 23 he endeavored to demonstrate that the prophets of the Old Testament were more ancient than the Greek writers.  He states:

 

And that we may give a more accurate exhibition of eras and dates, we will, God helping us, now give an account not only of the dates after the deluge, but also of those before it, so as to reckon the whole number of all the years, as far as possible; tracing up to the very beginning of the creation of the world, which Moses the servant of God recorded through the Holy Spirit. For having first spoken of what concerned the creation and genesis of the world, and of the first man, and all that happened after in the order of events, he signified also the years that elapsed before the deluge.  (emphasis mine)

 

Theophilus immediately begins chapter 24 with a very literal totaling of the years of Adam and his descendants and arrives at a number fairly close to what young earth advocates propose:

 

Adam lived till he begat a son, 230 years. And his son Seth, 205 […] And his son Enoch, 165 […] And Lamech’s son was Noah, of whom we have spoken above, who begat Shem when 500 years old. During Noah’s life, in his 600th year, the flood came. The total number of years, therefore, till the flood, was 2242.  (emphasis mine)

 

Theophilus has done nothing extraordinary here.  He has merely added up the lifetimes from Adam until Noah and arrived at a number of years of 2242; that is Adam was created 2242 years before the flood (an event which he considered literal and real.).  He then continues:

 

And immediately after the flood, Shem, who was 100 years old, begat Arphaxad. […] And his son Eber, when 134. And from him the Hebrews name their race […] And his son Nahor, when 75. And his son Terah, when 70. And his son Abraham, our patriarch, begat Isaac when he was 100 years old. Until Abraham, therefore, there are 3278 years.  (emphasis mine)

 

Thus from the Creation (including Adam) to Abraham, according to Theophilus, there were 3278 years.  Therefore if we add up Theophilus’ calculations until the present we get: Adam to Abraham 3278 years (Abraham lived somewhere about 2000 B.C.) plus 2000 years approximately from Abraham until Christ and then another 2000 from Christ until the present to equal 7278 years from the beginning until now.  Where is the belief in long, indefinite ages in the distant past that Theophilus was supposed to believe in?  Theophilus reiterates his point (and I submit here, at the risk of being redundant, merely to stress that this writer is not being taken out of context, nor am I leaving out important elements of his treatise) because he fully desired to prove as clearly as possible that the world was only thousands of years old:

 

And from the foundation of the world the whole time is thus traced, so far as its main epochs are concerned. From the creation of the world to the deluge were 2242 years. And from the deluge to the time when Abraham our forefather begat a son, 1036 years. And from Isaac, Abraham’s son, to the time when the people dwelt with Moses in the desert, 660 years. And from the death of Moses and the rule of Joshua the son of Nun, to the death of the patriarch David, 498 years. And from the death of David and the reign of Solomon to the sojourning of the people in the land of Babylon, 518 years 6 months 10 days. And from the government of Cyrus to the death of the Emperor Aurelius Verus, 744 years. All the years from the creation of the world amount to a total of 5698 years, and the odd months and days.  (Book 3, Chapter 28, emphasis mine)

 

To Theophilus, The Earth Is Young

For fear that his reader might get lost in all of these numbers and hence forget the reason for their listing, he plainly states that he is writing to show as nonsense the positions of the writers that suggest that the world is extremely old:

 

For my purpose is not to furnish mere matter of much talk, but to throw light upon the number of years from the foundation of the world, and to condemn the empty labour and trifling of these authors, because there have neither been twenty thousand times ten thousand years [200,000,000] from the flood to the present time, as Plato said, affirming that there had been so many years; nor yet 15 times 10,375 years [155,625], as we have already mentioned Apollonius the Egyptian gave out; nor is the world uncreated, nor is there a spontaneous production of all things [abiogensis], as Pythagoras and the rest dreamed; but, being indeed created, it is also governed by the providence of God, who made all things; and the whole course of time and the years are made plain to those who wish to obey the truth. (Book 3, Chapter 26, emphasis mine)

 

For Theophilus, believing that the world is two hundred million years old is complete nonsense invented by those who are not seeking the truth.  He is humble enough to concede that his calculations might be off by a little bit.

 

For if even a chronological error has been committed by us, of, e.g., 50 or 100, or even 200 years, yet 121 not of thousands and tens of thousands, as Plato and Apollonius and other mendacious authors have hitherto written”(Chapter 29).

 

He is not dogmatic about his calculation being the only correct number.  However, he is suggesting that to speculate that the earth is over one hundred thousand years old as Plato suggests or is two hundred million years is complete nonsense.  Theophilus wrote to “condemn the empty labor and trifling of these authors.”  While his opinion doesn’t prove that Genesis teaches a young earth, it does prove that a young earth was considered orthodox and the only acceptable, Biblical perspective.  In light of all the other ancient commentators hereto examined, we are gaining a picture that to believe in an old earth of hundreds of thousands, or millions, let alone billions of years would have been considered extremely aberrant and outrageous.

 

Clement of Alexandria

Clement of Alexandria, who lived from 153 to 217 A.D., is considered one of the most influential of the early Church Fathers.  He was a prolific writer who so eloquently articulated many matters of faith in his generation.  He wrote briefly but succinctly concerning the time frame of the creation:

 

For the creation of the world was concluded in six days. For the motion of the sun from solstice to solstice is completed in six months – in the course of which, at one time the leaves fall, and at another plants bud and seeds come to maturity. And they say that the embryo is perfected exactly in the sixth month, that is, in one hundred and eighty days in addition to the two and a half, as Polybus the physician relates in his book On the Eighth Month, and Aristotle the philosopher in his book On Nature. Hence the Pythagoreans, as I think, reckon six the perfect number, from the creation of the world (The Stromata Book 6, Chapter 16)

 

We know that he believed in a literal six days by the examples that he gives (e.g. the motion of the sun, the time the leaves fall, the budding of plants, and the time of perfecting of an embryo at six months).  From the fact that his examples, which all have to do with a unit of six, are nonetheless real and finite units of time, we can conclude that his understanding of the first days of time were no different.

 

Hippolytus

Hippolytus was a bishop of Rome who lived from 170 to 236 A.D. and was a student of Irenaeus.  In his book, The Refutation of All Heresies (book 4, chapter 48), he says, “For in six days the world was made, and (the Creator) rested on the seventh.”  What does he mean by six days, though?  Could it be that he is referring to six ages – ages in which millions and billions of years might have elapsed?  How can we know precisely what he meant by six days?

 

Fortunately, Hippolytus continues in a very direct and exact manner.  He would not have his ancient audience, or us for that matter, be in the dark regarding what he firmly believed the Scriptures to be teaching:

 

But that we may not leave our subject at this point undemonstrated, we are obliged to discuss the matter of the times, of which a man should not speak hastily, because they are a light to him. For as the times are noted from the foundation of the world, and reckoned from Adam, they set clearly before us the matter with which our inquiry deals. For the first appearance of our Lord in the flesh took place in Bethlehem, under Augustus, in the year 5500; and He suffered in the thirty-third year. And 6,000 years must needs be accomplished, in order that the Sabbath may come, the rest, the holy day “on which God rested from all His works.” (The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus, Part 1.3.4)

 

Here he unambiguously declares the earth to be young.  According to his calculations, Jesus came in the flesh 5500 years after the foundation of the world.  He then states that the entirety of human history would last only six thousand years, a theme that we have seen several times earlier in our study of the other ancient commentators.[ii]  There exists no doubt in the mind of Hippolytus that God created all that there is a mere 5500 years before Jesus and that the entire span of history would last no longer than six thousand years.

 

Origen and Methodius

 

At this point we need to consider Origen and Methodius, both of whom were on Hugh Ross’s list of Church Fathers who supposedly believed in non-literal days of creation and hence an old earth.  We need to consider them in tandem since they are better understood together rather than separately regarding creation.  Origen lived in Alexandria from 185 to 254 A.D.  He was a follower of Jesus Christ, who, unfortunately, began interpreting the Scriptures in a manner that was considered heretical by the Christian community of his day and for centuries after.

 

Origen’s Disturbing Doctrines

Of all the Church Fathers that we have examined so far, Origen is the only one that truly did reject the literal interpretation of the text of Genesis in favor of an allegorical approach in order to resolve some of the seeming difficulties of the text.  While Origen’s love for God is not in question, his method of interpretation is.  For in caring more about the hidden meaning of the text than the literal and plain meaning, mixed with the NeoPlatonistic thinking of Alexandria, Origen wrote some most disturbing things concerning doctrines which are essential to orthodox Christianity, and if one merely follows the plain meaning of Scripture, cannot be missed.  Though Origen was perhaps the first to systematize a doctrine of the Trinity, his conclusions are not derived from the plain reading of Scripture, but from mixing Greek philosophy, allegory and Scripture together.  Below is an excerpt from Origen on the Trinity:

 

The God and Father, who holds the universe together, is superior to every being that exists, for he imparts to each one from his own existence that which each one is; the Son, being less than the Father, is superior to rational creatures alone (for he is second to the Father); the Holy Spirit is still less, and dwells within the saints alone. So that in this way the power of the Father is greater than that of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and that of the Son is more than that of the Holy Spirit, and in turn the power of the Holy Spirit exceeds that of every other holy being. (Moore 2006)

 

Origen obviously holds to a completely unorthodox position of the relation of the three persons of the Trinity to such an extent that it sounds much like the modern day cult of Jehovah’s Witnesses who hold that Jesus is the first of all of God’s creations but is not equal to God.  Obviously someone holding to such a position is unstable in their interpretation of the Bible and should not be looked to for guidance on interpreting the creation account of Genesis.  We might be tempted to give Origen the benefit of the doubt concerning his heretical view of the Trinity.  However, it is not only this issue but many others that call into question his teachings.

 

Another example which is nowhere to be found in the pages of Scripture, but purely from his own imagination is the creation of souls.  This teaching held that not only were there many beings created prior to the act of creation which originally fell away from their creator, but that the soul of Christ was among that number.

 

Where do we see this idea even remotely intimated in Scripture?  Obviously, the answer is absolutely nowhere!  Isn’t the plain teaching of Scripture easy for all to see?  Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58) and the Jews obviously understood what He was saying since they wanted to stone Him!  In Revelation 1:17 Jesus said that He is the first and the last – a term that is used only for God and stands in direct contradiction to Origen’s teaching.

 

Methodius Opposed to Origen’s Teaching

We now turn our attention to Methodius who was born shortly after Origen and became bishop over Olympus and Patara in Lycia and then later died as a martyr around 312  A.D. in Greece.  He was chiefly known as an ardent opponent of the teachings of Origen and devoted numerous pages to refuting his heretical teachings.  In a fragment of his writings[iii], he says concerning Origen, whom he then quotes:

 

Origen, after having fabled many things concerning the eternity of the universe, adds this also:

 

Nor yet from Adam, as some say, did man, previously not existing, first take his existence and come into the world. Nor again did the world begin to be made six days before the creation of Adam. But if any one should prefer to differ in these points, let him first say, whether a period of time be not easily reckoned from the creation of the world, according to the Book of Moses, to those who so receive it, the voice of prophecy here proclaiming: “Thou art God from everlasting, and world without end […] For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday: seeing that is past as a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:2, Psalm 90:4) For when a thousand years are reckoned as one day in the sight of God, and from the creation of the world to His rest is six days, so also to our time, six days are defined, as those say who are clever arithmeticians. Therefore, they say that an age of six thousand years extends from Adam to our time. For they say that the judgment will come on the seventh day, that is in the seventh thousand years. Therefore, all the days from our time to that which was in the beginning, in which God created the heaven and the earth, are computed to be thirteen days; before which God, because he had as yet created nothing according to their folly, is stripped of His name of Father and Almighty. But if there are thirteen days in the sight of God from the creation of the world, how can Wisdom say, in the Book of the Son of Sirach: “Who can number the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of eternity?” (Ecclus. 1:2)

 

This is what Origen says seriously, and mark how he trifles.  (Methodius Extracts from the Work on Things Created, emphasis mine)

 

The last line of the above quote contains the final remarks of Methodius.  Notice that where Origen denied the literal creation in six days, Methodius just dismisses his words as “trifles”.  Thus, we can truly admit that there was at least one who thought that the creation of the heavens and earth exceeded six literal days.  However, the idea is considered to be foolish and is rejected out of hand and Origen is the only known exception to the rule.  It must also be kept in mind that Origen’s denial of such teachings of the creation was a result of his allegorical and NeoPlatonistic method of interpreting the Scriptures – the same method that led him to teach that the Holy Spirit is inferior in essence to the Son and the Son is inferior in essence to the Father.  He thought, in fact, both the Son and the Holy Spirit were created beings.  This same method also led him to teach the preexistence of souls and the soul of Christ – a doctrine that resounds with the teachings of the Mormon cult started by Joseph Smith.

 

Fathers of the Third and Fourth Centuries

In 312 A.D. Constantine the Great conquered the city of Rome, the center of the oppressive government which for nearly three centuries had afflicted Christians with all manners of torture and martyrdom.

 

A vision had assured him that he should conquer in the sign of the Christ, and his warriors carried Christ’s monogram on their shields, though the majority of them were pagans… Of his gratitude to the God of the Christians the victor immediately gave convincing proof; the Christian worship was henceforth tolerated throughout the empire (Edict of Milan, early in 313). (Catholic Encyclopedia 2006 emphasis mine)

 

Constantine’s victory marked the beginning of a new age for the church where almost overnight the belief in Jesus as Lord went from being threatened with a miserable death to being accepted as the official state religion.

 

Victorinus

Victorinus, a church father who flourished around 270 A.D. and was martyred around 303 A.D., wrote many works, most having been lost, unfortunately.  Nevertheless, one that was preserved titled “On The Creation Of The World” contains some candid reflections upon what he understood those six days to mean.

To me, as I meditate and consider in my mind concerning the creation of this world in which we are kept enclosed, even such is the rapidity of that creation; as is contained in the book of Moses, which he wrote about its creation, and which is called Genesis. God produced that entire mass for the adornment of His majesty in six days; on the seventh to which He consecrated it […] In the beginning God made the light, and divided it in the exact measure of twelve hours by day and by night, for this reason […] (Victorinus, emphasis mine)

Note that Victorinus specifically states that God created in a matter of six days and rested on the seventh.  He then further defines for us what he means by a day by saying that God divided the day and the night into twelve-hour segments and hence a twenty-four hour day.  Could we ask for a more specific explanation from an ancient source as to what they understood a day to be?

 

Basil the Great

Victorinus is hardly alone in his understanding of the creation days consisting of 24 hours.  Basil “The Great” (ca. 330 to 379 A.D.) corroborates Victorinus’ teaching one hundred years later with his statement:

 

’And there was evening and morning, one day.’ Why did he say ‘one’ and not ‘first’?  He said ‘one’ because he was defining

the measure of day and night […] since twenty-four hours fill up the interval of one day (The Six Days Work 1:1-2, emphasis mine)

 

Lactantius

Lactantius (260 to 330 AD), who suffered under the last of the persecutions of Rome, in his latter years had the unique fortune of being the tutor of Constantine’s son Crispus.  Working in such close proximity to the emperor, he was given the opportunity to become “the instrument of Providence in bearing the testimony of Jesus, ‘even before kings.’” (Fathers Volume 7 Introduction Lactantius) Lactantius thus becomes an important voice concerning our question of how the Church Fathers interpreted Genesis.  His perspective is especially noteworthy since he had tasted the bitterness of suffering for Christ and then later witnessed introduction of Christianity as the official state religion, which ultimately led to his working in the home of the emperor himself.  We can surmise, therefore, that he would have desired to be bold in his declaration of Christ and to teach the Scriptures as faithfully as possible.

 

In his work The Divine Institutes, which he entitled, “Of the First and Last Times of the World,” he states that God made the heavens and earth in six days.  He also straightforwardly states:

 

Plato and many others of the philosophers, since they were ignorant of the origin of all things, and of that primal period at which the world was made, said that many thousands of ages had passed since this beautiful arrangement of the world was completed; foolishly saythat they possess comprised in their memorials four hundred and seventy thousand years; in which matter […] they believed that they were at liberty to speak falsely. But we, whom the Holy Scriptures instruct to the knowledge of the truth, know the beginning and the end of the world […] Therefore let the philosophers, who enumerate thousands of ages from the beginning of the world, know that the six thousandth year is not yet completed, and that when this number is completed the consummation must take place, and the condition of human affairs be remodeled for the better, the proof of which must first be related, that the matter itself may be plain. God completed the world and this admirable work of nature in the space of six days, as is contained in the secrets of Holy Scripture, and consecrated the seventh day, on which He had rested from His works.  (The Divine Institutes, Chapter 16, emphasis mine)

 

Lactantius states this as clearly and plainly as one could possibly expect.  He unambiguously declares that it is the philosophers who are both ignorant and foolish in declaring that the origin of all things took place over hundreds of thousands of years earlier.  Lactantius even denounces an exact amount of 475,000 years and if it was considered foolish to think that the world was so old in his day, why should we be persuaded that the earth is 4.56 billion years old and the universe is about 14 billion years old?  We have seen again and again that the ancient interpreters believed that Scripture taught a young earth.

 

Augustine

Augustine

Of all the Church Fathers (besides Origen), the person we would expect to hold to a view of an old earth and a creation week that took place over vast ages, would be Augustine.  He lived from 354 to 430 A.D. and was the bishop of Hippo in North Africa.  He is considered to be the foremost theologian of the Catholic Church and is also held in high esteem by many Protestants.  A typical method of interpretation for him was allegorical and typological.  He often sought a deeper and spiritual truth underlying a given text.  Thus, to discover that he did not believe that the creation week happened over long periods of time, as Dr. Ross has stated, is surprising.  Ironically, Augustine held to a view that God created everything in an instant rather than in six literal days.  However, as to when this occurred, he, like so many Church Fathers before him, believed the creation to have occurred less than six thousand years before his own time.

 

Creation Was Less than Six Thousand Years Ago

In his monumental work, City of God book 12, chapter 10, Augustine lucidly comments on certain people that just don’t have their facts straight concerning the age of the earth:

 

They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed. (City of God book 12, chapter 10 emphasis mine)

 

He then reiterates this in chapter 12.

 

As to those who are always asking why man was not created during these countless ages of the infinitely extended past, and came into being so lately that, according to Scripture, less than 6000 years have elapsed since He began to be, I would reply to them regarding the creation of man, just as I replied regarding the origin of the world to those who will not believe that it is not eternal, but had a beginning, which even Plato himself most plainly declares […] If it offends them that the time that has elapsed since the creation of man is so short, and his years so few according to our authorities […] (City of God book 12, chapter 12 emphasis mine)

 

Even Augustine, the one person in addition to Origen that we might have expected to see an earth of billions of years or hundreds of thousands at the very least, held to a young earth.  One, therefore, cannot argue that he was advocating any type of day-age theory.  Nor did he envision any gap between the verses 1, 2 or 3.  However, we may not conclude that he believed in a literal six-day creation either.

 

Augustine’s “Literal” Interpretation

Augustine’s denial of six actual days is trumpeted by Davis Young, of the geology department of Calvin College Grand Rapids, MI, who notes that Augustine’s “literal” interpretation of Genesis does not resemble the modern literal six days creation week or young earth positions.

He [Augustine] later came to reject that [allegorical] method and in this more mature work, written in his late fifties just before The City of God, he is concerned ‘to discuss Sacred Scriptures according to the plain meaning of the historical facts, not according to future events which they foreshadow’. Given his strong commitment to literal interpretation, it is fascinating to recognize that the outcome bears absolutely no resemblance to modern literal interpretations. For example, he concludes that in Genesis I the terms “light,” “day,” and “morning” bear a spiritual, rather than physical, meaning. Yet for Augustine, spiritual light is just as literal as physical light, and the creation of spiritual light is just as much a historical event or fact as the creation of physical light. What is literal for one person may not be literal for others. (Young 1988 emphasis mine)

According to Young, Augustine stresses that his new work is literal and not metaphorical or allegorical.  He then goes on to state that since Augustine was such a great theologian we ought to listen to his testimony.  Young writes,

From his general approach to this text, it would appear that Augustine, the great theologian, a man saturated in Holy Scripture, actually encourages the church not to cling dogmatically to specific renderings of the text but to rethink its interpretations in the light of genuine extra-biblical knowledge. Perhaps we should pay him serious attention. Augustine is obviously interested in the science of his own day and interacts with it. He takes extra-biblical knowledge seriously. (Young 1988 emphasis mine)

Notice that Young urges us to follow Augustine’s example to shift our interpretation of Genesis “in the light of genuine extra-biblical knowledge.”  It would seem that Young is suggesting that we are to allow modern humanistic thought to act as a standard by which we interpret Scripture.  Consider that he says, “Augustine shows respect for scientific activity, and does not want to put Scripture in a situation of conflict with it”  (Young 1988).  Certainly Young is correct that none of us ought to disregard scientific activity nor pit the Bible against science.  However, when the scientific activity of which he speaks, contradicts the historical-grammatical reading of the Bible, then there will be conflict.

 

Spontaneous Generation a Fact for Augustine

It would seem that Young is so eager to demonstrate that we should emulate Augustine by not holding to the belief that God created the heavens and earth in six (real, literal) days that he advocates believing man’s shifting thoughts over the Bible.  Consider how his next statement and following example encourage believing in (faulty and secular) science rather than merely trusting the Bible, even when it disagrees with man’s findings.

 

For example, it is clear that he [Augustine] accepts spontaneous generation of organisms and the four elements of Greek thought. He expends considerable effort in relating Genesis I to the four elements and to the Greek theory of natural places: “One must surely not think that in this passage of Holy Scripture there has been an omission of any one of the four elements that are generally supposed to make up the world just because there seems to be no mention of air in the account of sky, water, and earth.”  (Young 1988)

 

Are we therefore to allow mainstream thought about the origins of the universe, which, as we have seen, is built on a paradigm that all matter and all life arose by chance, merely because Augustine held a belief that was sympathetic to the science of his day?  Exactly what point Young wished to make regarding Augustine’s belief in spontaneous generation is unclear.  There exist two possibilities as I see it: either Young believes that that confirms the teaching of evolution and its teaching of abiogenesis or that just as Augustine permitted current thought to influence his interpretation of Scripture, so too should we.  In either case, our response is a resounding “no” since neither could be further from what our response should be.

 

If Young meant to demonstrate that Augustine was in fact, rather progressive for his day to believe in spontaneous generation, then it only serves to prove why Scripture alone should be our standard.  Wikipedia.com rightly describes the history of Spontaneous Generation:

Classical notions of abiogenesis, now more precisely known as spontaneous generation, held that complex, living organisms are generated by decaying organic substances, e.g. that mice spontaneously appear in stored grain or maggots spontaneously appear in meat.

Yet it was not until 1862 that Louis Pasteur performed a series of careful experiments which conclusively proved that a truly sterile medium would remain sterile.

Three years earlier, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (published in 1859), had presented an argument that modern organisms had evolved, over immense periods of time, from simpler ancestral forms, that species changed over time. Darwin himself declined to speculate on some implications of his theory – that at some point there may have existed an un-organism with no prior ancestor and that such an organism may have come into existence, formed from non-living molecules.

Pasteur had demonstrated that Spontaneous Generation was wrong, and he also seemed to have demonstrated that any concept involving the generation of living matter from non-living matter was also wrong.  (Wikipedia.com: Abiogenesis emphasis mine)

Spontaneous generation is a theory that has been scientifically proven to be false and worthless.  Thus to assert that it was in any way good that Augustine paid heed to the scientific activity of his day rather than merely believe the, albeit unpopular, teaching of the Bible, is not only fallacious but inexcusable.  It is unfortunate that Augustine held to such a position that has now without a doubt been proven bogus and incorrect.  Augustine’s endorsement of “the four elements” does not need to even be mentioned.

 

I would argue that rather than trying to absorb Augustine’s views, we hold fast to the easy teaching of Scripture and where Augustine or anyone for that matter agrees with it, then we embrace their views and when they differ we part ways.  Augustine was wrong about interpreting Scripture in light of what Young described as “genuine extra-biblical knowledge”.  Spontaneous generation and only four elements were the prevailing thought back then.  Using them to interpret the Bible led to false conclusions in his day and interpreting the Bible through the lens of evolutionary thought today will lead to faulty conclusions about God and the world in our day.

 

Augustine certainly made important contributions to the Church and those should not be discounted.  However, the real and lasting contributions were those that were firmly based on Scripture and not on the changing science of men.  Thus, we ought to learn from Augustine as Young suggested; we should learn from his mistake of trying to appeal to current scientific thought where it disagrees with the Bible.  Sooner or later man’s science will change but the Bible remains.

 

The Fathers Believed in a Young Earth

Having looked at the classic ancient interpreters of the Bible, both Jewish and Christian, we can now ask ourselves what the ancient perspective was.  Did they actually believe in an old earth as some purport or did they hold to a literal point of view?  As we have seen, in every instance (except for Origen and partly Augustine), both Jewish and Christian perspectives held that the heavens and the earth were created in six, literal days and many of the commentators defined what a day is by stating that it meant 24 hours.  Not one of them (except Origen) even remotely intimated that those six days of creation should be understood as long ages or that day meant anything other than a period of 24 hours.  Time and again, they believed that God made all that is in a span of six, 24-hour days and they all thought that it occurred less than 6000 years before their own lives.  Even Augustine wrote that the creation had occurred less than 6000 years before his own day.  The real exception to the overwhelming and prevailing belief that God created in a span of six days less than 6000 years earlier was Origen and as we saw, so many of his teachings were considered heretical that his opinion on the creation of the world bears little weight.  This view of a literal, six-day creation would remain as the only acceptable belief until the enlightenment and the advent of the geology of Charles Lyell and Darwin’s  evolutionary hypothesis.

Thomas Aquinas of the 13th century, considered to be one of the foremost theologians of the Catholic Church, stated: “’God called the light day’ (since the word ‘day’ is also used to denote a space of twenty-four hours). Other instances of a similar use occur, as pointed out by Rabbi Moses.”  (Thomas  Aquinas, The Summa Theologica)

Martin Luther, the great protestant reformer of the 16th century, believed in a young earth as well.

We know from Moses that the world was not in existence before 6,000 years ago […] He [Moses] calls ‘a spade a spade,’

Luther

_i.e., he employs the terms ‘day’ and ‘evening’ without allegory, just as we customarily do […] we assert that Moses spoke in the literal sense, not allegorically or figuratively, i.e., that the world, with all its creatures, was created within six days, as the words read. If we do not comprehend the reason for this, let us remain pupils and leave the job of teacher to the Holy Spirit.  (Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis)

This view is shared by John Calvin, who also lived in the 16th century, that the earth is less than 6000 years old, which implies that the days of creation were literal six days of 24-hours.  In speaking of those that reject some of his teachings, he strongly declares:

A rebellious spirit will display itself no less insolently when it hears that there are three persons in the divine essence, than when it hears that God when he created man foresaw every thing that was to happen to him. Nor will they abstain from their jeers when told that little more than five thousand years have elapsed since the creation of the world. (John Calvin)

Thus what shall we conclude?  Is it safe to venture that the early church believed that God created the universe in six, literal days roughly six thousand years prior to their time?  There exists no historical reason to believe in any other conclusion.  We have also seen that there exists no philological, semantic or syntactical reason in the Bible.  The Bible never suggests that the Genesis days should be considered longer.  The only reason that exists to believe that those days were long periods of time is because one has accepted as established fact and truth the evolutionary model, and hence, feels the need to fit those billions of years into the Bible.  The amazing irony, however, is that evolution was devised to try to explain how we got here without the aid of a creator.

 


[i] All of the early Church Fathers are cited from The Early Church Fathers: Ante-Nicene Fathers Volumes 1 – 9 (1867), Edinburgh, using the electronic version of The Word Bible Software unless otherwise stated.

[ii] The belief of the ancient commentators that the entirety of human history would last 6000 years is not specifically stated in the Bible.  Nevertheless, the belief clearly shows that they believed the earth to be young and not millions or billions of years old.

 [iii] This was actually recorded by another ancient writer, Photius.

 

Creation Days According to Ancient Jewish Commentators

Accordingly Moses says, That in just six days the world, and all that is therein, was made.  (Josephus Antiquities Book 1, Chapter 1)

 

What the ancient Bible commentators understood those six days to mean when they opened up to Genesis 1 and 2?  Did they see extremely long indefinite periods of time?  Or did they see regular, twenty-four-hour days?  Would they come to the same conclusion that we have reached?  Or would they be inclined to look for a deeper, hidden meaning in the text?  Even if it can be demonstrated that all or nearly all of the ancient interpreters thought that the Bible and Genesis 1 in particular should be interpreted as six literal days, that does not prove that that is in fact the reality of the Bible.  However, if the overwhelming majority understood the creation account to be referring to a week of six literal days, then it would greatly support our previous conclusion and that the normal method of interpretation or hermeneutic of Scripture was to take it at face value.

 

We will see that when we examine the ancient Jewish and Christian commentators on what they believed concerning the beginning of the world, they almost always talk about the end of it as well.  They claim that the age of the earth is less than six thousand years old.  This becomes an important control for us in that by claiming that the earth was created less than six thousand years previous to their day, they are stating their belief in a young earth, and hence, the six, literal 24-hour days of creation.

 

The Use of Ancient Interpreters

The point of view of ancient interpreters and commentators is very relevant to us because we know that they were in no way influenced by the teachings of Darwinian evolution, which requires billions of years to occur.  The ancient perspective has already been exploited by those seeking to establish that Scripture actually teaches that the earth and the universe are incredibly old.  Perhaps the most prominent of the Progressive Creation perspective is Dr. Hugh Ross.  While we do not wish to question his sincerity nor his belief in the God of the Bible, his interpretation of these ancient commentators is in need of serious review.  Ross states in his book The Fingerprint of God:

Many of the early Church Fathers and other biblical scholars interpret the creation days of Genesis 1 as long periods of time. The list includes the Jewish historian Josephus (1st century); Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, apologist and martyr (2nd century); Origen, who rebutted heathen attacks on Christian doctrine (3rd century); Basil (4th century); Augustine (5th century); and, later, Aquinas (13th century), to name a few. The significance of this list lies not only in the prominence of these individuals as biblical scholars, defenders of the faith, and pillars of the early church (except Josephus), but also in that their scriptural views cannot be said to have been shaped to accommodate secular opinion. Astronomical, paleontological, and geological evidences for the antiquity of the universe, of the earth, and of life did not come forth until the nineteenth century.  (Ross 1991: 141)

Ross’s list of ancient biblical scholars is at first impressive.  But when we begin to study his sources in depth, we find that, at the very least, Ross has not been diligent in his investigation.  Reality is simply not as he states it.  The claim that many of these ancient interpreters believed the creation days to be longer than 24 hours is later parroted by an advocate of Progressive Creation who states:

Dr. Hugh Ross documents in detail what first century Jewish scholars and the early Christian Church Fathers said regarding their interpretation of creation chronology (see Chapter 2, pages 16-24). Many early Church Fathers expressed no opinion on the subject of creation days, since it is a peripheral issue in Christianity. However, Jewish scholars who discussed creation chronology include Philo and Josephus, while Christian fathers include Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus (through writings of Ambrose), Clement, Origen, Lactantius, Victorinus, Methodius, Augustine, Eusebius, Basil, and Ambrose. Among this group, all but one believed that the creation days were longer than 24 hours. The evidence presented in Creation and Time is both overwhelming and well documented (all references are given). (Deem 2006a)

Again, we are not questioning whether Dr. Ross and others of the Progressive Creation position are sincere and hold the God of the Bible in high esteem.  It is their scholarship that is in question.  The truth is that many, if not almost all, of the early Church Fathers (ante-Nicene) definitively thought that the universe was made in six, literal days.  Additionally, most ancient Jewish commentators shared the same point of view – namely, that the heavens and earth were created in six, literal days.  Let’s examine the evidence to see what those interpreters thought about the time frame of creation.  Did they hold to a literal, straightforward, six-day creation as we claim that the Bible teaches?  Or did they believe that allegorizing the text was the proper method of interpretation?

Targumim

A very important source to consider when addressing the issue of how ancient interpreters understood the Bible are the Targumim.  Targumim (Targum is singular) are the Aramaic translations of the Old Testament Scriptures.  They were for the most part written both in and outside of Israel a few centuries after the time of Jesus.  They were written either for those Jews who had lost Hebrew as their mother tongue because of living outside of Israel for so long or for those living in Israel after the time of the Second Jewish Revolt (135 AD) when Hebrew truly started to die out.[i]  Those Jews were no longer comfortable reading the Scriptures solely in Hebrew, but needed the help of a translation as they read along in the original Hebrew.  However, the Targumim were much more than merely word for word translations.  They were running commentaries on the Scriptures filled with typical Jewish interpretations.  The Hebrew text of the Bible was always considered sacred by the Jews, and therefore, it was to be approached with great care.  The text was never to be touched.  Because the Targumim were in Aramaic and not Hebrew, there was no risk that the commentaries might be mistaken for the actual words of the Bible itself.

 

Targum Onkelos

Targum Onkelos, translates Genesis 1:1 very literally: “In the first times the Lord created the heavens and the earth.  And the earth was waste and empty, and darkness was upon the face of the abyss.”  In fact, the entire chapter of Targum Onkelos of Genesis 1 shows no indication whatsoever that the translator/commentator was persuaded that the six days of Genesis were to be taken in any way but literally.  Conversely, the translator actually places a comment in chapter 3 regarding the curse put on the serpent and the promised savior.

 

And I will put enmity between thee and between the woman, and between thy son and her son.  He will remember thee, what thou didst to him (at) from the beginning, and thou shalt be observant unto him at the end. (Emphasis mine)

 

Notice that here the targumist defines when the time of this occurred – “from the beginning.”  Although this doesn’t prove that the six days in Genesis were truly literal, it does demonstrate that an ancient interpreter understood them as being literal since the time of the fall happened in the beginning, not some millions or billions of years after the initial act of creation.

 

Targumim Jonathan

Targum Jonathan[ii] in translating Genesis 2:3 (which is really the end of chapter 1 and is an unfortunate and mistaken chapter break) adds a reason which goes beyond the original text by adding the words “the days of the week.”

 

And the creatures of the heavens and earth, and all the hosts of them, were completed. And the Lord had finished by the Seventh Day the work which He had wrought, […] And the Lord blessed the Seventh Day more than all the days of the week, and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His works which the Lord had created and had willed to make. (Emphasis mine)

 

The words “the days of the week” demonstrate that the Targumist also understood the first through sixth days in Genesis 1 to be “the days of the week” and the seventh to be the final day of that week.  What did he have in mind when he added that comment that is not found in the Hebrew Scriptures?  Did his belief that the seventh was blessed more than all the other days of the week actually mean that the last age or era of time was better than the rest?  Or did he think that days of the week meant Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc. (or as it would be in Hebrew First Day, Second Day, Third Day etc.)?  If we consider what God declared to Moses via the Targumim as we did in the Hebrew Bible, then the conclusion of six, literal days becomes very difficult to circumvent.

 

For in six days the Lord created the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and whatever is therein, and rested on the seventh day: therefore the Lord hath blessed the day of Shabbatha and sanctified it. (Targum Jonathan, Exodus 20:11)

This is again reiterated in the same Targum in Exodus 31:15 and 17:

 

Six days ye shall do work; but the seventh day is Sabbath, the holy Sabbath before the Lord […] For in six days the Lord created and perfected the heavens and the earth; and in the seventh day He rested and refreshed.  (Emphasis mine)

 

The Targum of Onkelos confirms again that the commonly accepted time frame for the creation of the heavens and the earth was but a mere six, literal days.  There is no intimation that those days somehow really meant long, indefinite ages of perhaps billions of years.

 

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the day of Shabbatha, and sanctified it. (Targum Onkelos, Exodus 20:11 emphasis mine)

Six days shalt thou do work, and the seventh day is Sabbath, the Holy Sabbath before the Lord […] for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth; and in the seventh day rested and was refreshed.  (Targum Onkelos Exodus 31: 15, 17 emphasis mine)

 

These passages are some of the clearest passages in the Bible regarding the time God took to create everything and yet there isn’t even a minor hint that those time frames mean anything other than what we can take at face value.  Although the Targumim are not listed among the ancient Jewish writers cited by Dr. Ross and others, they are certainly an important source, and one of the primary sources when wanting to know about common Jewish thought just before and after the time of Christ.

Josephus

Josephus

An indispensable voice of Jewish history and thought in first century Israel is that of Josephus, who appears on the list of supposed ancient supporters of an old earth.  Josephus is considered the most important source historians have regarding the events of the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  Josephus single-handedly wrote the history of the debacle of the Jewish state at the hands of their Roman enemies.  Born in 37 A.D., Josephus was raised a Jew in Israel and fought alongside his Jewish countrymen before being taken a hostage by the Romans, who granted him the opportunity to write not only the story of the Wars of the Jews, but also later a work entitled The Antiquities of the Jews.  Josephus’ mother tongue was Hebrew.  His expertise in Hebrew and the fact that he was also well acquainted with the Hebrew Scriptures were essential in writing Antiquities of the Jews.  While not everything that Josephus wrote is considered to always be accurate or without bias, recent discoveries in the past 100 years have proven that Josephus’s account of Jewish history was extremely accurate.[iii]

 

From The Creation

Josephus opens his monumental work Antiquities of the Jews with a rather significant chapter title: “Containing The Interval Of Three Thousand Eight Hundred And Thirty-Three Years.  From the Creation to the Death of Isaac.”  Just from the chapter title one already begins to see that Josephus understood the time from the creation until the death of Isaac as a relatively short period – 3833 years.  Adding that to the time from Isaac (approximately 1950 B.C.) to the time of Josephus (about 80 AD) we get a number of 5863 years – hardly millions of years.  There is absolutely no suggestion from him that “the creation” happened indefinite ages ago; rather it was but a relatively short time ago.  It is interesting that Josephus’ date corresponds very closely with that of young earth creationists’ calculations based on the genealogies of the Bible.  The point is that Josephus in no way thought that the days of creation were long periods of millions or billions of years.  He then begins with the same words as found directly in the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” He goes on:

 

God commanded that there should be light: and when that was made, he considered the whole mass, and separated the light and the darkness; and the name he gave to one was Night, and the other he called Day: and he named the beginning of light, and the time of rest, The Evening and The Morning, and this was indeed the first day. But Moses said it was one day Accordingly Moses says, That in just six days the world, and all that is therein, was made. And that the seventh day was a rest, and a release from the labor of such operations; whence it is that we celebrate a rest from our labors on that day, and call it the Sabbath, which word denotes rest in the Hebrew tongue.  (Josephus Antiquities Book 1, Chapter 1, emphasis mine)

 

Notice that Josephus is careful to note that there was evening and there was morning, which he says was the first day, but then he adds “But Moses said it was one day”. By doing this, he not only demonstrates his understanding of Hebrew, but also points out that the Hebrew shows that all of these events happened in one day.  He also states his opinion since it is not directly in the text of Genesis 1, though, it is more than likely that he was merely parroting the commonly accepted belief.

 

In Just Six Days

Josephus in no way thought that the days of creation were long periods of time in which the slow process of evolution happened!  He says that “in just six days the world and all that is therein” was made.  He then discusses that the origin of the Jews resting on the seventh day came from God resting on the seventh day.  Keep in mind that Josephus has to explain the history of his people to Romans who would probably have known next to nothing about the religion of one of the people in their vast empire.  The most that they might have known was that his people foolishly rebelled against them and consequently paid the price for their rebellion.  So Josephus has to explain the small details in order for them to truly appreciate the splendor of the Jewish sacred book.

 

Here too, we find that one of the most prominent ancient commentators thought nothing but of a literal, six-day creation.  The thought of a day of the creation week equaling millions or billions of years or even some super long duration just never crossed his mind.  Conversely, he clearly states that in just six days God made all that is.

 

Rabbinic interpretation

We next turn to rabbinic interpretation in hopes of discovering what they thought about the six days of creation.  Did they too interpret the days of Genesis 1 to be literal days of 24-hours like those that we have already seen or, as it has been suggested, did they allegorize those as days of incredibly long duration?  We should note that Rabbinic interpretation of the Scriptures is such that it generally seeks to find a deeper meaning to the text.  They quite often would take what would seem to us to be two rather dissimilar passages and, through a few keys words, tie them together in such a way as to teach a deeper truth.

 

For example, let’s look at tractate Sabbath 17, Chapter 7 which, as the title suggests, deals with the Sabbath and the regulations necessary to properly keep it.  The Rabbis are discussing what to do if someone who is traveling misses the Sabbath due to not knowing which day it is.

R. Huna said: One who has been traveling in a desert and does not know what day is Sabbath, must count six days from the day (on which he realizes) that he has missed the Sabbath, and observe the seventh. Hyya b. Rabh said: He must observe that very day and then continue his counting from that day. And what is the point of their differing? The former holds that one must act in accordance with the creation (which commenced six days before the Sabbath), while the latter holds that one must be guided by Adam’s creation (on the eve of Sabbath). (Emphasis mine)

The Rabbis immediately turn to the week of creation as a real week whereby they might demonstrate how one must count the days before the Sabbath.  They then look back at the creation week from the point of view that Adam was made on the eve of the Sabbath, which was the literal sixth day of time.  Thus, the days of a workweek plus the Sabbath are equal to the days of the creation week.

 

The Talmud Comments on the Mishna

The Talmud comments on the discussion in the Mishna[iv] concerning one who might ask “what was before creation?” and tries to draw out further applications and to answer any questions unresolved.

 

Lest one assume that a man can ask, What was before the creation? therefore it is written: “Since the day that God created man from the earth“; but lest one assume, a man must not ask even what was done in the six days of creation?  (Book 3 Tract Hagigah 4 chapter 2)

 

Notice that they make reference to the six days of creation and very matter-of-factly state “what was done in the six days of creation.”  The implication is that those days were real days, not long drawn out indefinite ages.

Rashi

Rashi

From another portion of the Talmud we read:

 

Four thousand two hundred and thirty-one years after the creation of the world, if any one offers thee for one single denarius a field worth a thousand denarii, do not buy it. (Avodah Zarah, fol. 9, col. 2.)

 

According to this passage the creation of the world happened 4231 years previous to the statement.  The famed medieval Jewish commentator Rashi (below) was noted to have given an explanation on the passage that helps us understand what ancient Jews believed concerning the time that elapsed from creation until their time.

 

Rashi gives this as the reason of the prohibition: For then the restoration of the Jews to their own land will take place, so that the denarius paid for a field in a foreign land would be money thrown awayFour thousand two hundred and ninety-one years after the creation of the world the wars of the dragons and the wars of Gog and Magog will cease, and the rest of the time will be the days of the Messiah; and the Holy One – blessed be He! – will not renew His world till after seven thousand years…Rabbi Jonathan said, “May the bones of those who compute the latter days (when the Messiah shall appear) be blown; for some say, ‘Because the time (of Messiah) has come and Himself has not, therefore He will never come!’ But wait thou for Him, as it is said (Hab. ii. 3), ‘Though He tarry, wait for Him.’” (Sanhedrin, fol. 97, col. 2, emphasis mine)

 

Rashi evidently separated human history, from the time of creation until the end, into seven thousand years.  Notice that Rashi understood these years as real periods of time that began in the beginning with the creation of the world.  This fact is further established by Rabbi Jonathan by noting it is not good to compute the time of the Messiah, which, according to some Jews, had already come.  For a Christian, this is a very significant statement, but to pursue it would derail us from our current discussion that key, ancient Rabbis understood the earth to be young – less than six thousand years.

 

Other Rabbis

A few other examples only serve to confirm what we have seen so far – namely, that ancient Rabbis considered the creation week to be nothing less than real days and not day-ages as is often suggested.  The Rabba commentaries (Harris, Translator 1901) on the Bible yield several important perspectives on the literalness of the six-day creation.  The first chapter of Genesis Rabba asserts “Even the new heavens and earth, spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah (65:17), were created in the six days of creation.”  Another discussion from the Talmud regarding the importance of the Hebrew month Tishri states it this way, “Rabbi Eleazer said […] On the first of Tishri Adam was created; from his existence we count our years, that is the sixth day of the creation” (Talmud Part 5, Holy Days, emphasis mine).  Exodus Rabba 23 associates the formation of Adam with the event of creation itself,

 

The song of praise that Israel offered on the Red Sea was pleasing to God as an outburst of real gratitude.  There had indeed been no such praise offered to God since creation. Adam, formed out of dust and put above all creation, omitted to praise the Creator for the dignity conferred on him.  (Exodus Rabba 23)

 

Leviticus Rabba 14 succinctly places man along with the creation, “Man is the last in creation and the first in responsibility.”  If God started making the universe some 15 billion years earlier, it would be hard to link man with creation due to the enormous time gap between them.  Midrash Esther 1 offers a similar scenario,

 

As early as the time of creation it was decreed that the following should have precedence, each in his own sphere. Adam was first of man, Cain of murderers, and Abel of the murdered.  Noah the first to escape from peril.  (Harris, Translator 1901)

 

And finally, another rabbinic source, Tanchum Bereshith unequivocally states that God created in six days,

 

As one who finishes the building of his house proclaims that day a holiday, and consecrates the building, so God, having finished creation in the six days, proclaimed the seventh day a holy day and sanctified it.  (Electronic Text, The Word Bible Software)

 

Where is the slightest hint in any of the aforementioned sources that they believed in an old earth and universe?  Where does one get the impression that the ancient Rabbis truly believed that God didn’t actually create in six, literal days but in six day-ages each lasting some billions of years?  Those day-ages are conspicuously missing.  They only show up if one’s theory depends on such interpretations.  Even Philo, the very allegorical Jewish philosopher of first century Alexandria, Egypt, thought that the days of creation as recorded in Genesis were referring to six literal days.

 

Philo

If there were someone that we should expect to back up the old-earth theory, it would be Philo.  Philo was an Alexandrian Jew who was born approximately 20 years before Jesus.  Philo knew the Hebrew Scriptures very well and was very fond of them.  However, he also was open to the ideas of Greek philosophy and tried to marry the two to accommodate both worldviews.  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states concerning Philo:

Philo of Alexandria

He addressed himself to two tasks, difficult to weld into a flawless unity. On the one hand, he wrote for educated men in Greek-Roman society, attempting to explain, often to justify, his racial religion before them […] On the other hand, he had to confront his orthodox coreligionists, with their separatist traditions and their contempt for paganism in all its works. He tried to persuade them that, after all, Greek thought was not inimical to their cherished doctrines, but, on the contrary, involved similar, almost identical, principles.  (ISBE: Philo, point 3)

 

The ISBE continues by saying that Philo represented a position which tried to blend the philosophy of Hellenism with the “historical and dogmatic deductions of the Jewish Scriptures” (ISBE: Philo point 3), which resulted in rather strange interpretations.  Furthermore the ISBE states:

 

He taught that the Scriptures contain two meanings: a “lower” meaning, obvious in the literal statements of the text; and a “higher,” or hidden meaning, perceptible to the “initiate” alone. In this way he found it possible to reconcile Greek intellectualism with Jewish belief. Greek thought exhibits the “hidden” meaning; it turns out to be the elucidation of the “allegory” which runs through the Old Testament like a vein of gold. (ISBE: Philo, point 3)

 

Thus, even if we were to find an allegorical meaning associated with the creation of the world in his writings, we would understand that the allegorical side was Philo’s attempt to reconcile the historical text of the Bible with the philosophy of Greek thought.  Therefore such an allegory would not be indicative of the true meaning of the biblical text.  What we actually see Philo say regarding the creation, both from a literal and allegorical point of view, is astonishing.

 

Philo’s Paraphrase

Philo begins his treatise with the creation of the world as given by Moses.  That is to say, Philo is loosely paraphrasing the Genesis account in his own words.  This is extremely important to note since here we have a writer that is very much in favor of interpreting Scripture from an allegorical approach and yet he lets us know what he thought Moses was truly communicating before moving on to his allegorical method.

 

And he says that the world was made in six days, not because the Creator stood in need of a length of time (for it is natural that God should do everything at once, not merely by uttering a command, but by even thinking of it); but because the things created required arrangement; and number is akin to arrangement; and, of all numbers, six is, by the laws of nature, the most productive… (Philo, On The Creation – Part 1 III. 13)

 

Philo is actually saying here that the world was made in six days which was actually much more time than God required.  He says that God took his time “because the things created required arrangement.”  According to Philo, God slowed himself down not for His own sake since merely by thinking He could have made all, but so that there would be order.  The old-earth position is right in suggesting that God could have taken billions of years to create the world.  But they miss the mark when affirming that God actually did.  According to Scripture and all of the testimony we have seen up until now, God did go at an incredibly slow pace – that is if you are God!  The passing of a mere thought versus creating at a tremendously slow speed of six (24-hour) days are radically different.  Rather than confirming the old-earth position as Dr. Ross has suggested, Philo defends the belief that the biblical creation occurred in just a six-day week.

 

Philo’s Allegorical Treatise

After providing his paraphrase of Genesis 1, Philo next begins his allegorical treatise to pull out the deeper truths and thereby make the Bible more palatable to his Greco-Roman audience:

 

“And the heaven and the earth and all their world was completed.”  [Genesis 2:1] Having previously related the creation of the mind and of sense, Moses now proceeds to describe the perfection which was brought about by them both. And he says that neither the indivisible mind nor the particular sensations received perfection, but only ideas, one the idea of the mind, the other of sensation. And, speaking symbolically, he calls the mind heaven, since the natures which can only be comprehended by the intellect are in heaven. And sensation he calls earth, because it is sensation which has obtained a corporeal and some what earthy constitution. (Philo, Allegorical Interpretation, I – Part 1)

 

It is obvious that Philo is now speaking in a very allegorical fashion.  However, if we read carefully the above paragraph, we see that in his allegorizing of Genesis 1 he is rejecting altogether that Moses is referring to any type of numerical value of the creation regardless of how long that might have taken.  He is advocating, allegorically speaking, neither a literal six day creation nor a six day-age theory.  The amount of time required is absolutely inconsequential to him.  Notice below in his statement that time is not the issue.

 

“And on the sixth day God finished his work which he had made.” It would be a sign of great simplicity to think that the world was created in six days, or indeed at all in time. […] Therefore it would be correctly said that the world was not created in time, but that time had its existence in consequence of the world. For it is the motion of the heaven that has displayed the nature of time. (Philo, Allegorical Interpretation, II – Part 2 emphasis mine)

 

For Philo, six days is not what one is to understand from the Genesis account but rather, the number six and all of its amazing mathematical properties is what is to be appreciated.  His concept of time is that it is in itself a created thing.  On that point most scientists would agree, evolutionists and creationists alike, that time was created along with space and that space and time cannot be separated.[v]  Because Philo does not see time beginning until the creation of the sun, what can we conclude regarding how long the first four days were?  Obviously, if they came into being outside of time, as he suggests, then it is impossible to discuss their duration since that would be an oxymoron by definition.  Consequently, the assertion that Philo in any way held to the belief in a universe that was billions of years old, as the Progressive Creation position suggests, is simply unfounded.  Conversely, we see from Philo’s paraphrase of Genesis 1 (in which he stated that according to Moses the world was created in six, literal days) what he thinks the deeper meaning of six days actually is:

 

When, therefore, Moses says, “God completed his works on the sixth day,” we must understand that he is speaking not of a number of days, but that he takes six as a perfect number. Since it is the first number which is equal in its parts, in the half, and the third and sixth parts, and since it is produced by the multiplication of two unequal factors, two and three. (Philo Allegorical Interpretation, II  – Part 3 emphasis mine)

 

Philo and the Number Six

Philo is not arguing about how long a day was.  He was not saying that they were long indefinite ages in which God did His handiwork.  In no way is his statement grounds for proving that he, as an ancient interpreter, believed that those days were indefinite and therefore allowed for enough time for evolution to occur.  Rather he was saying that it wasn’t six days, but really just about the number six which he continues to describe as a “perfect number.”  For Philo, the argument isn’t about the days, but about the incredible features of the number of six.  Philo has not even considered how long the days were, but thought that a deeper truth to be mined from the Scriptures was the profoundness of the mathematical qualities of six as a number.

 

We may not be able to pin Philo down on exactly how long he thought the creation took.  If we simply accept at face value what he said in the beginning of his treatise, then we could just conclude that according to Moses, God took six literal days though looking at his allegory, we see a different picture.  However, it can hardly be denied that his consideration of the six days has nothing to do with time but everything to do with the number six as a mathematical entity worthy of contemplation.  Thus, we leave Philo fairly convinced that on the literal plain, he believed that Genesis 1 did indeed refer to the creation of heaven and earth in six, literal, 24-hour days and from an allegorical point of view believed the six to be included because it was a perfect number.


 [i] For a detailed explanation of the language of Israel in the first century, see Hamp (2005) Discovering the Language of Jesus Calvary Publishing, Santa Ana.

[ii] Also known as Pseudo Jonathan.

[iii] Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the sect known as the Essenes, which Josephus describes in detail in Wars of the Jews book 2, chapter 8, there was no record of it ever existing.  Josephus’ account has since been corroborated by much of the material finds at the Qumran compound near the Dead Sea as well as by the Scrolls themselves.

[iv] The Mishna deals with the Mosaic Law and applies it to every conceivable area of life.

[v] This is signified by the term “space-time continuum.” Dr. Sholar notes: “The space-time continuum however, was a mathematical assumption of Einstein leading to relativity…which has predicted outcomes of certain experiments with some degree of accuracy.  However, there are many today who believe that time and space are not so intertwined that they must be cojoined as a continuum the way Einstein postulated.  There are other theories that consider space and time quite distinctly separate, yet predict the same results as does relativity.  Since most scientists are not expert in relativity, it is easier for them to accept the establishment’s entrenchment of a theory into textbooks and academia, than swim upstream against the more popular theory, with an alternative that gives similar answers, though void philosophical problems like paradoxes.  The almost certain fact that space and time were each created anew does not depend upon whether or not they are connected as Einstein postulates, or are completely disparate and separate entities.”  (Dr. Stan Sholar, personal communication, September 21, 2006)

 

Quotes From (Early) Church Fathers

Below you will find quotes of the all the early Church Fathers that I could find that spoke on the topic of creation in six days.  I have not changed the quotes in any way.  The quotes are taken directly from:

Roberts, A. & J. Donaldson, eds. (1885). Translations Of The Writings Of The Fathers Down To A.D. 325. Buffalo: The Christian Literature Publishing Company.  The Word Bible Software.

I have highlighted and put in bold places that I thought were significant.  They are arranged roughly in chronological order. – Douglas

Barnabas

The Epistle of Barnabas

Chap. XV. — The False and the True Sabbath.

Further,145 also, it is written concerning the Sabbath in the Decalogue which [the Lord] spoke, face to face, to Moses on Mount Sinai, “And sanctify ye the Sabbath of the Lord with clean hands and a pure heart.” (Exo_20:8; Deu_5:12) And He says in another place, “If my sons keep the Sabbath, then will I cause my mercy to rest upon them.” (Jer_17:24, Jer_17:25) The Sabbath is mentioned at the beginning of the creation [thus]: “And God made in six days the works of His hands, and made an end on the seventh day, and rested on it, and sanctified it.”146 Attend, my children, to the meaning of this expression, “He finished in six days.” This implieth that the Lord will finish all things in six thousand years, for a day is147 with Him a thousand years. And He Himself testifieth,148 saying, “Behold, to-day149 will be as a thousand years.” (Psa_90:4; 2Pe_3:8) Therefore, my children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, all things will be finished. “And He rested on the seventh day.” This meaneth: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man,150 and judge the ungodly, and change the sun, and the moon,151 and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day. Moreover, He says, “Thou shalt sanctify it with pure hands and a pure heart.” If, therefore, any one can now sanctify 147 the day which God hath sanctified, except he is pure in heart in all things,152 we are deceived.153 Behold, therefore:154 certainly then one properly resting sanctifies it, when we ourselves, having received the promise, wickedness no longer existing, and all things having been made new by the Lord, shall be able to work righteousness.155 Then we shall be able to sanctify it, having been first sanctified ourselves.156 Further, He says to them, “Your new moons and your Sabbath I cannot endure.” (Isa_1:13) Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, [namely this,] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead.157 And158 when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens.


Ignatius

Introductory Note to the Spurious Epistles of Ignatius.

Chap. IX. — Duties of Husbands, Wives, Parents, and Children.

Let the husbands love their wives, remembering that, at the creation, one woman, and not many, was given to one man. Let the wives honour their husbands, as their own flesh; and let them not presume to address them by their names. (Comp. 1Pe_3:6) Let them also be chaste, reckoning their husbands as their only partners, to whom indeed they have been united according to the will of God. Ye parents,


Justin Martyr

Dialogue with Trypho

Chap. LXXIX. — He Proves Against Trypho That the Wicked Angels Have Revolted from God.

On this, Trypho, who was somewhat angry, but respected the Scriptures, as was manifest from his countenance, said to me, “The utterances of God are holy, but your expositions are mere contrivances, as is plain from what has been explained by you; nay, even blasphemies, for you assert that angels sinned and revolted from God.”

And I, wishing to get him to listen to me, answered in milder tones, thus: “I admire, sir, this piety of yours; and I pray that you may entertain the same disposition towards Him to whom angels are recorded to minister, as Daniel says; for [one] like the Son of man is led to the Ancient of days, and every kingdom is given to Him for ever and ever. But that you may know, sir,” continued I, “that it is not our audacity which has induced us to adopt this exposition, which you reprehend, I shall give you evidence from Isaiah himself; for he affirms that evil angels have dwelt and do dwell in Tanis, in Egypt. These are [his] words: ‘Woe to the rebellious children! Thus saith the Lord, You have taken counsel, but not through Me; and [made] agreements, but not through My Spirit, to add sins to sins; who have sinned188 in going down to Egypt (but they have not inquired at Me), that they may be assisted by Pharaoh, and be covered with the shadow of the Egyptians. For the shadow of Pharaoh shall be a disgrace to you, and a reproach to those who trust in the Egyptians; for the princes in Tanis189 are evil angels. In vain will they labour for a people which will not profit them by assistance, but [will be] for a disgrace and a reproach [to them].’ (Isa_30:1-5) And, further, Zechariah tells, as you yourself have related, that the devil stood on the right hand of Joshua the priest, to resist him; and [the Lord] said, ‘The Lord, who has taken190 Jerusalem, rebuke thee.’ (Zec_3:1) And again, it is written in Job, (Job_1:6) as you said yourself, how that the angels came to stand before the Lord, and the devil came with them. And we have it recorded by Moses in the beginning of Genesis, that the serpent beguiled Eve, and was cursed. And we know that in Egypt there were magicians who emulated191 the mighty power displayed by God through the faithful servant Moses. And you are aware that David said, ‘The gods of the nations are demons.’” (Psa_96:5) 239

Chap. LXXX. — The Opinion of Justin with Regard to the Reign of a Thousand Years. Several Catholics Reject It.

And Trypho to this replied, “I remarked to you sir, that you are very anxious to be safe in all respects, since you cling to the Scriptures. But tell me, do you really admit that this place, Jerusalem, shall be rebuilt; and do you expect your people to be gathered together, and made joyful with Christ and the patriarchs, and the prophets, both the men of our nation, and other proselytes who joined them before your Christ came? or have you given way, and admitted this in order to have the appearance of worsting us in the controversies?”

Then I answered, “I am not so miserable a fellow, Trypho, as to say one thing and think another. I admitted to you formerly,192 that I and many others are of this opinion, and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware;193 but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise. Moreover, I pointed out to you that some who are called Christians, but are godless, impious heretics, teach doctrines that are in every way blasphemous, atheistical, and foolish. But that you may know that I do not say this before you alone, I shall draw up a statement, so far as I can, of all the arguments which have passed between us; in which I shall record myself as admitting the very same things which I admit to you.194 For I choose to follow not men or men’s doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth],195 and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians, even as one, if he would rightly consider it, would not admit that the Sadducees, or similar sects of Genistae, Meristae,196 Gelilaeans, Hellenists,197 Pharisees, Baptists, are Jews (do not hear me impatiently when I tell you what I think), but are [only] called Jews and children of Abraham, worshipping God with the lips, as God Himself declared, but the heart was far from Him. But I and others, who are right-minded Christians on all points, are assured that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and a thousand years198 in Jerusalem, which will then be built, adorned, and enlarged, [as] the prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah and others declare.

Justin Martyr (Cont.)

Justin’s Hortatory Address to the Greeks. (Cont.)

Chap. XXXIII. — Plato’s Idea of the Beginning of Time Drawn from Moses.

And from what source did Plato draw the information that time was created along with the heavens? For he wrote thus: “Time, accordingly, was created along with the heavens; in order that, coming into being together, they might also be together dissolved, if ever their dissolution should take place.” Had he not learned this from the divine history of Moses? For he knew that the creation of time had received its original constitution from days and months and years. Since, then, the first day which was created along with the heavens constituted the beginning of all time (for thus Moses wrote, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” and then immediately subjoins, “And one day was made,” as if he would designate the whole of time by one part of it), Plato names the day “time,” lest, if he mentioned the “day,” he should seem to lay himself open to the accusation of the Athenians, that he was completely adopting the expressions of Moses. And from what source did he derive what he has written regarding the dissolution of the heavens? Had he not learned this, too, from the sacred prophets, and did he not think that this was their doctrine?


Iraneus Against Heresies Book 1

Chap. XVIII. — Passages from Moses, Which the Heretics Pervert to the Support of Their Hypothesis.

1. And while they affirm such things as these concerning the creation, every one of them generates something new, day by day, according to his ability; for no one is deemed “perfect,” who does not develop among them some mighty fictions. It is thus necessary, first, to indicate what things they metamorphose [to their own use] out of the prophetical writings, and next, to refute them. Moses, then, they declare, by his mode of beginning the account of the creation, has at the commencement pointed out the mother of all things when he says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;” (Gen_1:1) for, as they maintain, by naming these four, — God, beginning, heaven, and earth, — he set forth their Tetrad. Indicating also its invisible and hidden nature, he said, “Now the earth was invisible and unformed.” (Gen_1:2) They will have it, moreover, that he spoke of the second Tetrad, the offspring of the first, in this way — by naming an abyss and darkness, in which were also water, and the Spirit moving upon the water. Then, proceeding to mention the Decad, he names light, day, night, the firmament, the evening, the morning, dry land, sea, plants, and, in the tenth place, trees. Thus, by means of these ten names, he indicated the ten Aeons. The power of the Duodecad, again, was shadowed forth by him thus: — He names the sun, moon, stars, seasons, years, whales, fishes, reptiles, birds, quadrupeds, wild beasts, and after all these, in the twelfth place, man. Thus they teach that the Triacontad was spoken of through Moses by the Spirit. Moreover, man also, being formed after the image of the power above, had in himself that ability which flows from the one source. This ability was seated in the region of the brain, from which four faculties proceed, after the image of the Tetrad above, and these are called: the first, sight, the second, hearing, the third, smell, and the fourth,156 taste. And they say that the Ogdoad is indicated by man in this way: that he possesses two ears, the like number of eyes, also two nostrils, and a twofold taste, namely, of bitter and sweet. Moreover, they teach that the whole man contains the entire image of the Triacontad as follows: In his hands, by means of his fingers, he bears the Decad; and in his whole body the Duodecad, inasmuch as his body is divided into twelve members; for they portion that out, as the body of Truth is divided by them — a point of which we have already spoken.157 But the Ogdoad, as being unspeakable and invisible, is understood as hidden in the viscera.

2. Again, they assert that the sun, the great light-giver, was formed on the fourth day, with a reference to the number of the Tetrad. So also, according to them, the courts158 of the tabernacle constructed by Moses, being composed of fine linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, pointed to the same image. Moreover, they maintain that the long robe of the priest failing over his feet, as being adorned with four rows of precious stones, (Exo_28:17) indicates the Tetrad; and if there are any other things in the Scriptures which can possibly be dragged into the number four, they declare that these had their being with a view to the Tetrad. The Ogdoad, again, was shown as follows: — They affirm that man was formed on the eighth day, for sometimes they will have him to have been made on the sixth day, and sometimes on the eighth, unless, perchance, they mean that his earthly part was formed on the sixth day, but his fleshly part on the eighth, for these two things are distinguished by them. Some of them also hold that one man was formed after the image and likeness of God, masculo-feminine, and that this was the spiritual man; and that another man was formed out of the earth.

3. Further, they declare that the arrangement made with respect to the ark in the Deluge, by means of which eight persons were saved, (Gen_6:18; 1Pe_3:20) most clearly indicates the Ogdoad which brings salvation. David also shows forth the same, as holding the eighth place in point of age among his brethren. (1Sa_16:10) Moreover, that circumcision which took place on the eighth day, (Gen_17:12) represented the circumcision of the Ogdoad above. In a word, whatever they find in the Scriptures capable of being referred to the number eight, they declare to fulfil the mystery of the Ogdoad. With respect, again, to the Decad, they maintain that it is indicated by those ten nations which God promised to Abraham for a possession. (Gen_15:19) The arrangement also made by Sarah when, after ten years, she gave (Gen_16:2) her handmaid Hagar to him, that by her he might have a son, showed the same thing. Moreover, the servant of Abraham who was sent to Rebekah, and presented her at the well with ten bracelets of gold, and her 344 brethren who detained her for ten days; (Gen_24:22, Gen_24:25) Jeroboam also, who received the ten sceptres (1Ki_11:31) (tribes), and the ten courts (Exo_26:1, Exo_36:8) of the tabernacle, and the columns of ten cubits (Exo_36:21) [high], and the ten sons of Jacob who were at first sent into Egypt to buy corn, (Gen_42:3) and the ten apostles to whom the Lord appeared after His resurrection, — Thomas (Joh_20:24) being absent, — represented, according to them, the invisible Decad.

Iraneus Against Heresies book 2

4. This manner of speech may perhaps be plausible or persuasive to those who know not God, and who liken Him to needy human beings, and to those who cannot immediately and without assistance form anything, but require many instrumentalities to produce what they intend. But it will not be regarded as at all probable by those who know that God stands in need of nothing, and that He created and made all things by His Word, while He neither required angels to assist Him in the production of those things which are made, nor of any power greatly inferior to Himself, and ignorant of the Father, nor of any defect or ignorance, in order that he who should know Him might become man.6 But He Himself in Himself, after a fashion which we can neither describe nor conceive, predestinating all things, formed them as He pleased, bestowing harmony on all things, and assigning them their own place, and the beginning of their creation. In this way He conferred on spiritual things a spiritual and invisible nature, on super-celestial things a celestial, on angels an angelical, on animals an animal, on beings that swim, a nature suited to the water, and on those that live on the land one fitted for the land — on all, in short, a nature suitable to the character of the life assigned them — while He formed all things that were made by His Word that never wearies.

5. For this is a peculiarity of the pre-eminence of God, not to stand in need of other instruments for the creation of those things which are summoned into existence. His own Word is both suitable and sufficient for the formation of all things, even as John, the disciple of the Lord, 362 declares regarding Him: “All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made.” (Joh_1:3) Now, among the “all things” our world must be embraced. It too, therefore, was made by His Word, as Scripture tells us in the book of Genesis that He made all things connected with our world by His Word. David also expresses the same truth [when he says] “For He spake, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created.” (Psa_33:9, Psa_148:5) Whom, therefore, shall we believe as to the creation of the world — these heretics who have been mentioned that prate so foolishly and inconsistently on the subject, or the disciples of the Lord, and Moses, who was both a faithful servant of God and a prophet? He at first narrated the formation of the world in these words: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” (Gen_1:1) and all other things in succession; but neither gods nor angels [had any share in the work].

Now, that this God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Paul the apostle also has declared, [saying,] “There is one God, the Father, who is above all, and through all things, and in us all.”7 I have indeed proved already that there is only one God; but I shall further demonstrate this from the apostles themselves, and from the discourses of the Lord. For what sort of conduct would it be, were we to forsake the utterances of the prophets, of the Lord, and of the apostles, that we might give heed to these persons, who speak not a word of sense?

Iraneus Against Heresies book 5 Chpt 28

3. For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says: “Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works.” (Gen_2:2) This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; (2Pe_3:8) and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.


The Writings of Tertullian

Part Second – Anti-Marcion (Cont.)

Chap. XXI. – The Law of the Sabbath-Day Explained. The Eight Days’ Procession Around Jericho. The Gathering of Sticks a Violation.

Similarly on other points also, you reproach Him with fickleness and instability for contradictions in His commandments, such as that He forbade work to be done on Sabbath-days, and yet at the siege of Jericho ordered the ark to be carried round the walls during eight days; in other words, of course, actually on a Sabbath. You do not, however, consider the law of the Sabbath: they are human works, not divine, which it prohibits. (Exo_20:9, Exo_20:10) For it says, “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of 314 the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work.” What work? Of course your own. The conclusion is, that from the Sabbath-day He removes those works which He had before enjoined for the six days, that is, your own works; in other words, human works of daily life. Now, the carrying around of the ark is evidently not an ordinary daily duty, nor yet a human one; but a rare and a sacred work, and, as being then ordered by the direct precept of God, a divine one. And t might fully explain what this signified, were it not a tedious process to open out the forms206 of all the Creator’s proofs, which you would, moreover, probably refuse to allow. It is more to the point, if you be confuted on plain matters207 by the simplicity of truth rather than curious reasoning. Thus, in the present instance, there is a clear distinction respecting the Sabbath’s prohibition of human labours, not divine ones. Accordingly, the man who went and gathered sticks on the Sabbath-day was punished with death. For it was his own work which he did; and this208 the law forbade. They, however, who on the Sabbath carried the ark round Jericho, did it with impunity. For it was not their own work, but God’s, which they executed, and that too, from His express commandment.

The Writings of Tertullian

Part Second – Anti-Marcion (Cont.)

Chap. XXIX. – The Gradual Development of Cosmical Order out of Chaos in the Creation, Beautifully Stated.

God, indeed, consummated all His works in a due order; at first He paled them out,218 as it were, in their unformed elements, and then He arranged them219 in their finished beauty. For He did not all at once inundate light with the splendour of the sun, nor all at once temper darkness with the moon’s assuaging ray.220 The heaven He did not all at once bedeck221 with constellations and stars, nor did He at once fill the seas with their teeming monsters.222 The earth itself He did not endow with its varied fruitfulness all at once; but at first He bestowed upon it being, and then He filled it, that it might not be made in vain.223 For thus says Isaiah: “He created it not in vain; He formed it to be inhabited.” (Isa_45:18) Therefore after it was made, and while awaiting its perfect state,224 it was “without form, and void:” “void” indeed, from the very fact that it was without form (as being not yet perfect to the sight, and at the same time unfurnished as yet with its other qualities);225 and “without form,” because it was still covered with waters, as if with the rampart of its fecundating moisture,226 by which is produced our flesh, in a form allied with its own. For to this purport does David say:227 “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and all that dwell therein: He hath rounded it upon the seas, and on the streams hath He established it.” (Psa_24:1) It was when the waters were withdrawn into their hollow abysses that the dry land became conspicuous,228 which was hitherto covered with its watery envelope. Then it forthwith becomes “visible,”229 God saying, “Let the water be gathered together into one mass,230 and let the dry land appear.” (Gen_1:9) “Appear,” says He, not “be made.” It had been already made, only in its invisible condition it was then waiting231 to appear. “Dry,” because it was about to become such by its severance from the moisture, but yet “land.” “And God called the dry land Earth,” (Gen_1:10) not Matter. And so, when it afterwards attains its perfection, it ceases to be accounted void, when God declares, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed after its kind, and cording to its likeness, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit, whose seed is in itself, after its kind.” (Gen_1:11) Again: “Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth, after their kind.” (Gen_1:24) Thus the divine Scripture accomplished its full order. For to that, which it had at first described as “without form (invisible) and void,” it gave both visibility and completion. Now no other Matter was “without form (invisible) and void.” 494

Henceforth, then, Matter will have to be visible and complete. So that I must232 see Matter, since it has become visible. I must likewise recognize it as a completed thing, so as to be able to gather from it the herb bearing seed, and the tree yielding fruit, and that living creatures, made out of it, may minister to my need. Matter, however, is nowhere,233 but the Earth is here, confessed to my view. I see it, I enjoy it, ever since it ceased to be “without form (invisible), and void.” Concerning it most certainly did Isaiah speak when he said, “Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens, He was the God that formed the earth, and made it.” (Isa_45:18) The same earth for certain did He form, which He also made. Now how did He form234 it? Of course by saying, “Let the dry land appear.” (Gen_1:9) Why does He command it to appear, if it were not previously invisible? His purpose was also, that He might thus prevent His having made it in vain, by rendering it visible, and so fit for use. And thus, throughout, proofs arise to us that this earth which we inhabit is the very same which was both created and formed235 by God, and that none other was “Without form, and void,” than that which had been created and formed. It therefore follows that the sentence, “Now the earth was without form, and void,” applies to that same earth which God mentioned separately along with the heaven.236

Chap. XXX. – Another Passage in the Sacred History of the Creation, Released from the Mishandling of Hermogenes.

The following words will in like manner apparently corroborate the conjecture of Hermogenes, “And darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the water; (Gen_1:2) as if these blended237 substances, presented us with arguments for his massive pile of Matter.238 Now, so discriminating an enumeration of certain and distinct elements (as we have in this passage), which severally designates” darkness,” “the deep” “the Spirit of God,” “the waters,” forbids the inference that anything confused or (from such confusion) uncertain is meant. Still more, when He ascribed to them their own places,239 “darkness on the face of the deep,” “the Spirit upon the face of the waters,” He repudiated all confusion in the substances; and by demonstrating their separate position,240 He demonstrated also their distinction. Most absurd, indeed, would it be that Matter, which is introduced to our view as “without form,” should have its “formless” condition maintained by so many words indicative of form,241 without any intimation of what that confused body242 is, which must of course be supposed to be unique,243 since it is without form.244 For that which is without form is uniform; but even245 that which is without form, when it is blended together246 from various component parts,247 must necessarily have one outward appearance;248 and it has not any appearance, until it has the one appearance (which comes) from many parts combined.249 Now Matter either had those specific parts250 within itself, from the words indicative of which it had to be understood – I mean “darkness,” and “the deep,” and “the Spirit,” and “the waters” – or it had them not. If it had them, how is it introduced as being “without form?”251 If it had them not, how does it become known?252

Chap. XXXI. – A Further Vindication of the Scripture Narrative of the Creation, Against a Futile View of Hermogenes.

But this circumstance, too, will be caught at, that Scripture meant to indicate of the heaven only, and this earth of yours,253 that God made it in the beginning, while nothing of the kind is said of the above-mentioned specific parts;254 and therefore that these, which are not described as having been made, appertain to unformed Matter. To this point255 also we must give an answer. Holy I Scripture would be sufficiently explicit, if it had declared that the heaven and the earth, as the very highest works of creation, were made by God, possessing of course their own special appurtenances,256 which might be understood to be implied in these highest works themselves. Now the appurtenances of the heaven and the earth, made then in the beginning, were the darkness and the deep, and the spirit, and the waters. For the depth and the darkness underlay the earth. Since 495 the deep was under the earth, and the darkness was over the deep, undoubtedly both the darkness and the deep were under the earth. Below the heaven, too, lay the spirit257 and the waters. For since the waters were over the earth, which they covered, whilst the spirit was over the waters, both the spirit and the waters were alike over the earth. Now that which is over the earth, is of course under the heaven. And even as the earth brooded over the deep and the darkness, so also did the heaven brood over the spirit and the waters, and embrace them. Nor, indeed, is there any novelty in mentioning only that which contains, as pertaining to the whole,258 and understanding that which is contained as included in it, in its character of a portion.259 Suppose now I should say the city built a theatre and a circus, but the stage260 was of such and such a kind, and the statues were on the canal, and the obelisk was reared above them all, would it follow that, because I did not distinctly state that these specific things261 were made by the city, they were therefore not made by it along with the circus and the theatre? Did I not, indeed, refrain from specially mentioning the formation of these particular things because they were implied in the things which I had already said were made, and might be understood to be inherent in the things in which they were contained? But this example may be an idle one as being derived from a human circumstance; I will take another, which has the authority of Scripture itself. It says that “God made man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” (Gen_2:7) Now, although it here mentions the nostrils,262 it does not say that they were made by God; so again it speaks of skin263 and bones, and flesh and eyes, and sweat and blood, in subsequent passages, (see Gen_2:21, Gen_2:23; Gen_3:5, Gen_3:19; Gen_4:10) and yet it never intimated that they had been created by God. What will Hermogenes have to answer? That the human limbs must belong to Matter, because they are not specially mentioned as objects of creation? Or are they included in the formation of man? In like manner, the deep and the darkness, and the spirit and the waters, were as members of the heaven and the earth. For in the bodies the limbs were made, in the bodies the limbs too were mentioned. No element but what is a member of that element in which it is contained. But all elements are contained in the heaven and the earth.

Chap. XXXII. – The Account of the Creation in Genesis a General One. Corroborated, However, by Many Other Passages of the Old Testament, Which Give Account of Specific Creations. Further Cavillings Confuted.

This is the answer I should give in defence of the Scripture before us, for seeming here to set forth264 the formation of the heaven and the earth, as if (they were) the sole bodies made. It could not but know that there were those who would at once in the bodies understand their several members also, and therefore it employed this concise mode of speech. But, at the same time, it foresaw that there would be stupid and crafty men, who, after paltering with the virtual meaning,265 would require for the several members a word descriptive of their formation too. It is therefore because of such persons, that Scripture in other passages teaches us of the creation of the individual parts. You have Wisdom saying, “But before the depths was I brought forth,” (Pro_8:24) in order that you may believe that the depths were also “brought forth” – that is, created – just as we create sons also, though we “bring them forth.” It matters not whether the depth was made or born, so that a beginning be accorded to it, which however would not be, if it were subjoined266 to matter. Of darkness, indeed, the Lord Himself by Isaiah says, “I formed the light, and I created darkness.” (Isa_45:7) Of the wind267 also Amos says, “He that strengtheneth the thunder,268 and createth the wind, and declareth His Christ268 unto men;” (Amo_4:13) thus showing that that wind was created which was reckoned with the formation of the earth, which was wafted over the waters, balancing and refreshing and animating all things: not (as some suppose) meaning God Himself by the spirit,269 on the ground that “God is a Spirit,” (Joh_4:24) because the waters would not be able to bear up their Lord; but He speaks of that spirit of which the winds consist, as He says by Isaiah, “Because my spirit went forth from me, and I made every blast.”270 In like manner the 496 same Wisdom says of the waters, “Also when He made the fountains strong, things which271 are under the sky, I was fashioning272 them along with Him.” (Pro_8:28) Now, when we prove that these particular things were created by God, although they are only mentioned in Genesis, without any intimation of their having been made, we shall perhaps receive from the other side the reply, that these were made, it is true,273 but out of Matter, since the very statement of Moses, “And darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God moved on the face of the waters,” (Gen_1:2) refers to Matter, as indeed do all those other Scriptures here and there,274 which demonstrate that the separate parts were made out of Matter. It must follow, then,275 that as earth consisted of earth, so also depth consisted of depth, and darkness of darkness, and the wind and waters of wind and waters. And, as we said above, (chap. xxx., towards the end.) Matter could not have been without form, since it had specific parts, which were formed out of it – although as separate things276 – unless, indeed, they were not separate, but were the very same with those out of which they came. For it is really impossible that those specific things, which are set forth under the same names, should have been diverse; because in that case277 the operation of God might seem to be useless,278 if it made things which existed already; since that alone would be a creation,279 when things came into being, which had not been (previously) made. Therefore, to conclude, either Moses then pointed to Matter when he wrote the words: “And darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God moved on the face of the waters;” or else, inasmuch as these specific parts of creation are afterwards shown in other passages to have been made by God, they ought to have been with equal explicitness280 shown to have been made out of the Matter which, according to you, Moses had previously mentioned;281 or else, finally, if Moses pointed to those specific parts, and not to Matter, I want to know where Matter has been pointed out at all.

Chap. XXXIII. – Statement of the True Doctrine Concerning Matter. Its Relation to God’s Creation of the World.

But although Hermogenes finds it amongst his own colourable pretences282 (for it was not in his power to discover it in the Scriptures of God), it is enough for us, both that it is certain that all things were made by God, and that there is no certainty whatever that they were made out of Matter. And even if Matter had previously existed, we must have believed that it had been really made by God, since we maintained (no less) when we held the rule of faith to be,283 that nothing except God was uncreated.284 Up to this point there is room for controversy, until Matter is brought to the test of the Scriptures, and fails to make good its case.285 The conclusion of the whole is this: I find that there was nothing made, except out of nothing; because that which I find was made, I know did not once exist. Whatever286 was made out of something, has its origin in something made: for instance, out of the ground was made the grass, and the fruit, and the cattle, and the form of man himself; so from the waters were produced the animals which swim and fly. The original fabrics287 out of which such creatures were produced I may call their materials,288 but then even these were created by God.

Chap. V. – The Evolution of the Son or Word of God from the Father by a Divine Procession. Illustrated by the Operation of the Human Thought and Consciousness.

But since they will have the Two to be but One, so that the Father shall be deemed to be the same as the Son, it is only right that the whole question respecting the Son should be examined, as to whether He exists, and who He is and the mode of His existence. Thus shall the truth itself24 secure its own sanction25 from the Scriptures, and the interpretations which guard26 them. There are some who allege that even Genesis opens thus in Hebrew: “In the beginning God made for Himself a Son.”27 As there is no ground for this, I am led to other arguments derived from God’s own dispensation,28 in which He existed before the creation of the world, up to the generation of the Son. For before all things God was alone being in Himself and for Himself universe, and space, and all things. Moreover, He was alone, because there was nothing external to Him but Himself. Yet even not then was He alone; for He had with Him that which He possessed in Himself, that is to say, His own Reason. For God is rational, and Reason was first in Him; and so all things were from Himself. This Reason is His own Thought (or Consciousness)29 which the Greeks call λόγος, by which term we also designate Word or Discourse30 and therefore it is now usual with our people, owing to the mere simple interpretation of the term, to say that the Word31 was in the beginning with God; although it would be more suitable to regard Reason as the more ancient; because God had not Word32 from the beginning, but He had Reason33 even before the beginning; because also Word itself consists of Reason, which it thus proves to have been the prior existence as being its own substance.34 ….


Theophilus of Antioch (Cont.)

Theophilus to Autolycus. (Cont.)

Book II. (Cont.)

Chap. XIII. — Remarks on the Creation of the World.

Moreover, his [Hesiod’s] human, and mean, and very weak conception, so far as regards God, is discovered in his beginning to relate the creation of all things from the earthly things here below. For man, being below, begins to build from the earth, and cannot in order make the roof, unless he has first laid the foundation. But the power of God is shown in this, that, first of all, He creates out of nothing, according to His will, the things that are made. “For the things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luk_18:27) Wherefore, also, the prophet mentioned that the creation of the heavens first of all took place, as a kind of roof, saying: “At the first God created the heavens” — that is, that by means of the “first” principle the heavens were made, as we have already shown. And by “earth” he means the ground and foundation, as by “the deep” he means the multitude of waters; and “darkness” he speaks of, on account of the heaven which God made coveting the waters and the earth like a lid. And by the Spirit which is borne above the waters, 100 he means that which God gave for animating the creation, as he gave life to man,43 mixing what is fine with what is fine. For the Spirit is fine, and the water is fine, that the Spirit may nourish the water, and the water penetrating everywhere along with the Spirit, may nourish creation. For the Spirit being one, and holding the place of light,44 was between the water and the heaven, in order that the darkness might not in any way communicate with the heaven, which was nearer God, before God said, “Let there be light.” The heaven, therefore, being like a dome-shaped covering, comprehended matter which was like a clod. And so another prophet, Isaiah by name, spoke in these words: “It is God who made the heavens as a vault, and stretched them as a tent to dwell in.” (Isa_40:22) The command, then, of God, that is, His Word, shining as a lamp in an enclosed chamber, lit up all that was under heaven, when He had made light apart from the world.45 And the light God called Day, and the darkness Night. Since man would not have been able to call the light Day, or the darkness Night, nor, indeed, to have given names to the other things, had not he received the nomenclature from God, who made the things themselves. In the very beginning, therefore, of the history and genesis of the world, the holy Scripture spoke not concerning this firmament [which we see], but concerning another heaven, which is to us invisible, after which this heaven which we see has been called “firmament,” and to which half the water was taken up that it might serve for rains, and showers, and dews to mankind. And half the water was left on earth for rivers, and fountains, and seas. The water, then, covering all the earth, and specially its hollow places, God, through His Word, next caused the waters to be collected into one collection, and the dry land to become visible, which formerly had been invisible. The earth thus becoming visible, was yet without form. God therefore formed and adorned it46 with all kinds of herbs, and seeds and plants.

Chap. XIV. — The World Compared to the Sea.

Consider, further, their variety, and diverse beauty, and multitude, and how through them resurrection is exhibited, for a pattern of the resurrection of all men which is to be. For who that considers it will not marvel that a fig-tree is produced from a fig-seed, or that very huge trees grow from the other very little seeds? And we say that the world resembles the sea. For as the sea, if it had not had the influx and supply of the rivers and fountains to nourish it, would long since have been parched by reason of its saltness; so also the world, if it had not had the law of God and the prophets flowing and welling up sweetness, and compassion, and righteousness, and the doctrine of the holy commandments of God, would long ere now have come to ruin, by reason of the wickedness and sin which abound in it. And as in the sea there are islands, some of them habitable, and well-watered, and fruitful, with havens and harbours in which the storm-tossed may find refuge, — so God has given to the world which is driven and tempest-tossed by sins, assemblies47 — we mean holy churches48 — in which survive the doctrines of the truth, as in the island-harbours of good anchorage; and into these run those who desire to be saved, being lovers of the truth, and wishing to escape the wrath and judgment of God. And as, again, there are other islands, rocky and without water, and barren, and infested by wild beasts, and uninhabitable, and serving only to injure navigators and the storm-tossed, on which ships are wrecked, and those driven among them perish, — so there are doctrines of error — I mean heresies48 — which destroy those who approach them. For they are not guided by the word of truth; but as pirates, when they have filled their vessels,49 drive them on the fore-mentioned places, that they may spoil them: so also it happens in the case of those who err from the truth, that they are all totally ruined by their error.

Chap. XV. — Of the Fourth Day.

On the fourth day the luminaries were made; because God, who possesses foreknowledge, knew the follies of the vain philosophers, that they were going to say, that the things which grow on the earth are produced from the heavenly bodies, so as to exclude God. In order, therefore, that the truth might be obvious, the plants and seeds were produced prior to the heavenly bodies, for what is posterior cannot produce that which is prior. And these contain the pattern and type of a great mystery. For the sun is a type of God, and the moon of man. And as the sun far surpasses the moon in power and glory, so far does God surpass man. And as the sun remains ever full, never becoming less, so does God always abide perfect, being full of all power, and understanding, and wisdom, and immortality, and all good. But the moon wanes monthly, and in a manner dies, being a type of man; then it is born again, and is crescent, for a pattern of the future resurrection. In like manner also the 101 three days which were before the luminaries,50 are types of the Trinity,51 of God, and His Word, and His wisdom.52 And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man. Wherefore also on the fourth day the lights were made. The disposition of the stars, too, contains a type of the arrangement and order of the righteous and pious, and of those who keep the law and commandments of God. For the brilliant and bright stars are an imitation of the prophets, and therefore they remain fixed, not declining, nor passing from place to place. And those which hold the second place in brightness, are types of the people of the righteous. And those, again,, which change their position, and flee from place to place, which also are called planets,53 they too are a type of the men who have wandered from God, abandoning His law and commandments.

Chap. XVI. — Of the Fifth Day.

On the fifth day the living creatures which proceed from the waters were produced, through: which also is revealed the manifold wisdom of God in these things; for who could count their multitude and very various kinds? Moreover, the things proceeding from the waters were blessed by God, that this also might be a sign of men’s being destined to receive repentance and remission of sins, through the water and laver of regeneration, — as many as come to the truth, and are born again, and receive blessing from God. But the monsters of the deep and the birds of prey are a similitude of covetous men and transgressors. For as the fish and the fowls are of one nature, — some indeed abide in their natural state, and do no harm to those weaker than themselves, but keep the law of God, and eat of the seeds of the earth; others of them, again, transgress the law of God, and eat flesh, and injure those weaker than themselves: thus, too, the righteous, keeping the law of God, bite and injure none, but live holily and righteously. But robbers, and murderers, and godless persons are like monsters of the deep, and wild beasts, and birds of prey; for they virtually devour those weaker than themselves. The race, then, of fishes and of creeping things, though partaking of God’s blessing, received no very distinguishing property.

Chap. XVII. — Of the Sixth Day.

And on the sixth day, God having made the quadrupeds, and wild beasts, and the land reptiles, pronounced no blessing upon them, reserving His blessing for man, whom He was about to create on the sixth day. The quadrupeds, too, and wild beasts, were made for a type of some men, who neither know nor worship God, but mind earthly things, and repent not. For those who turn from their iniquities and live righteously, in spirit fly upwards like birds, and mind the things that are above, and are well-pleasing to the will of God. But those who do not know nor worship God, are like birds which have wings, but cannot fly nor soar to the high things of God. Thus, too, though such persons are called men, yet being pressed down with sins, they mind grovelling and earthly-things. And the animals are named wild beasts [θηρία], from their being hunted [θηρεύεσθαι], not as if they had been made evil or venomous from the first — for nothing was made evil by God,54 but all things good, yea, very good, — but the sin in which man was concerned brought evil upon them. For when man transgressed, they also transgressed with him. For as, if the master of the house himself acts rightly, the domestics also of necessity conduct themselves well; but if the master sins, the servants also sin with him; so in like manner it came to pass, that in the case of man’s sin, he being master, all that was subject to him sinned with him. When, therefore, man again shall have made his way back to his natural condition, and no longer does evil, those also shall be restored to their original gentleness.

Chap. XIX. — Man Is Placed in Paradise.

God having thus completed the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and all that are in them, on the sixth day, rested on the seventh day from all His works which He made. Then holy Scripture gives a summary in these words: “This is the book of the generation of the heavens and the earth, when they were created, in the day that the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and every green thing of the field, before it was made, and every herb of the field before it grew. For God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.” (Gen_2:4, Gen_2:5) By this He signifies to us, that the whole earth was at that time watered by a divine fountain, and had no need that man should till it; but the earth produced all things spontaneously by the command of God, that man might not be wearied by tilling it. But that the creation of man might be made plain, so that there should not seem to be an insoluble problem existing among men, since God had said, “Let Us make man;” and since His creation was not yet plainly related, Scripture teaches us, saying: “And a fountain went up out of the earth, and watered the face of the whole earth; and God made man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.”55 Whence also by most persons the soul is called immortal.56 And after the formation of man, God chose out for him a region among the places of the East, excellent for light, brilliant with a very bright atmosphere, [abundant] in the finest plants; and in this He placed man.

Chap. XXIII. — The Truth of the Account in Genesis.

Man, therefore, God made on the sixth day, and made known this creation after the seventh day, when also He made Paradise, that he might be in a better and distinctly superior place. And that this is true, the fact itself proves. For how can one miss seeing that the pains which women suffer in childbed, and the oblivion of their labours which they afterwards enjoy, are sent in order that the word of God may be fulfilled, and that the race of men may increase and multiply?63 And do we not see also the judgment of the serpent, — how hatefully he crawls on his belly and eats the dust, — that we may have this, too, for a proof of the things which were said aforetime?

Chap. XXVIII. — Why Eve Was Formed of Adam’s Rib.

And Adam having been cast out of Paradise, in this condition knew Eve his wife, whom God had formed into a wife for him out of his rib. And this He did, not as if He were unable to make his wife separately, but God foreknew that man would call upon a number of gods. And having this prescience, and knowing that through the serpent error would introduce a number of gods which had no existence, — for there being but one God, even then error was striving to disseminate a multitude of gods, saying, “Ye shall be as gods;” — lest, then, it should be supposed that one God made the man and another the woman, therefore He made them both; and God made the woman together with the man, not only that thus the mystery of God’s sole government might be exhibited, but also that their mutual affection might be greater. Therefore said Adam to Eve, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” And besides, he prophesied, saying, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they two shall be one flesh;” 69 which also itself has its fulfilment in ourselves. For who that marries lawfully does not despise mother and father, and his whole family connection, and all his household, cleaving to and becoming one with his own wife, fondly preferring her? So that often, for the sake of their wives, some submit even to death. This Eve, on account of her having been in the beginning deceived by the serpent, and become the author of sin, the wicked demon, who also is called Satan, who then spoke to her through the serpent, and who works even to this day in those men that are possessed by him, invokes as Eve.70 And he is called “demon” and “dragon,” on account of his [ἀποδεδρακέναι] revolting from God. For at first he was an angel. And concerning his history there is a great deal to be said; wherefore I at present omit the relation of it, for I have also given an account of him in another place.

Theophilus to Autolycus. (Cont.)

Book III. (Cont.)

Chap. XXIII. – Prophets More Ancient than Greek Writers.

And that we may give a more accurate exhibition of eras and dates, we will, God helping us, now give an account not only of the dates after the deluge, but also of those before it, so as to reckon the whole number of all the years, as far as possible; tracing up to the very beginning of the creation of the world, which Moses the servant of God recorded through the Holy Spirit. For having first spoken of what concerned the creation and genesis of the world, and of the first man, and all that happened after in the order of events, he signified also the years that elapsed before the deluge. And I pray for favour from the only God, that I may accurately speak the whole truth according to His will, that you and every one who reads this work may be guided by His truth and favour. I will then begin first with the recorded genealogies, and I begin my narration with the first man.113

Chap. XXIV. – Chronology from Adam.

Adam lived till he begat a son,114 230 years. And his son Seth, 205. And his son Enos, 190. And his son Cainan, 170. And his son Mahaleel, 165. And his son Jared, 162. And his son Enoch, 165. And his son Methuselah, 167. And his son Lamech, 188. And Lamech’s son was Noah, of whom we have spoken above, who begat Shem when 500 years old. During Noah’s life, in his 600th year, the flood came. The total number of years, therefore, till the flood, was 2242. And immediately after the flood, Shem, who was 100 years old, begat Arphaxad. And Arphaxad, when 135 years old, begat Salah. And Salah begat a son when 130. And his son Eber, when 134. And from him the Hebrews name their race. And his son Phaleg begat a son when 130. And his son Reu, when 132 And his son Serug, when 130. And his son Nahor, when 75. And his son Terah, when 70. And his son Abraham, our patriarch, begat Isaac when he was 100 years old. Until Abraham, therefore, there are 3278 years. The fore-mentioned Isaac lived until he begat a son, 60 years, and begat Jacob. Jacob, till the migration into Egypt, of which we have spoken above, lived 130 years. And the sojourning of the Hebrews in Egypt lasted 430 years; and after their departure from the land of Egypt they spent 40 years in the wilderness, as it is called. All these years, therefore, amount to 3,938. And at that time, Moses having died, Jesus the sun of Nun succeeded to his rule, and governed them 27 years. And after Jesus, when the people had transgressed the commandments of God, they served the king of Mesopotamia, by name Chusarathon, 8 years. Then, on the 119 repentance of the people, they had judges: Gothonoel, 40 years; Eglon, 18 years; Aoth, 8 years. Then having sinned, they were subdued by strangers for 20 years. Then Deborah judged them 40 years. Then they served the Midianites 7 years. Then Gideon judged them 40 years; Abimelech, 3 years; Thola, 22 years; Jair, 22 years. Then the Philistines and Ammonites ruled them 18 years. After that Jephthah judged them 6 years; Esbon, 7 years; Ailon, 10 years; Abdon, 8 years. Then strangers ruled them 40 years. Then Samson judged them 20 years. Then there was peace among them for 40 years. Then Samera judged them one year; Eli, 20 years; Samuel, 12 years.

Chap. XXV. – From Saul to the Captivity.

And after the judges they had kings, the first named Saul, who reigned 20 years; then David, our forefather, who reigned 40 years. Accordingly, there are to the reign of David [from Isaac] 496 years. And after these kings Solomon reigned, who also, by the will of God, was the first to build the temple in Jerusalem; he reigned 40 years. And after him Rehoboam, 17 years; and after him Abias, 7 years; and after him Asa, 41 years; and after him Jehoshaphat, 25 years; and after him Joram, 8 years; and after him Ahaziah, 1 year; and after him Athaliah, 6 years; and after her Josiah, 40 years; and after him Amaziah, 39 years; and after him Uzziah, 52 years; and after him Jotham, 16 years; and after him Ahaz, 17 years; and after him Hezekiah, 29 years; and after him Manasseh, 55 years; and after him Amon, 2 years; and after him Josiah, 31 years; and after him Jehoahaz, 3 months; and after him Jehoiakim, 11 years. Then another Jehoiakim, 3 months 10 days; and after him Zedekiah, 11 years. And after these kings, the people, continuing in their sins, and not repenting, the king of Babylon, named Nebuchadnezzar, came up into Judaea, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah. He transferred the people of the Jews to Babylon, and destroyed the temple which Solomon had built. And in the Babylonian banishment the people passed 70 years. Until the sojourning in the land of Babylon, there are therefore, in all, 4954 years 6 months and 10 days. And according as God had, by the prophet Jeremiah, foretold that the people should be led captive to Babylon, in like manner He signified beforehand that they should also return into their own land after 70 years. These 70 years then being accomplished, Cyrus becomes king of the Persians, who, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah, issued a decree in the second year of his reign, enjoining by his edict that all Jews who were in his kingdom should return to their own country, and rebuild their temple to God, which the fore-mentioned king of Babylon had demolished. Moreover, Cyrus, in compliance with the instructions of God, gave orders to his own bodyguards, Sabessar and Mithridates, that the vessels which had been taken out of the temple of Judaea by Nebuchadnezzar should be restored, and placed again in the temple. In the second year, therefore, of Darius are fulfilled the 70 years which were foretold by Jeremiah.

Chap. XVIII. — Errors of the Greeks About the Deluge.

For Plato, as we said above, when he had demonstrated that a deluge had happened, said that it extended not over the whole earth, but only over the plains, and that those who fled to the highest hills saved themselves. But others say that there existed Deucalion and Pyrrha, and that they were preserved in a chest; and that Deucalion, after he came out of the chest, flung stones behind him, and that men were produced from the stones; from which circumstance they say that men in the mass are named “people.”103 Others, again, say that Clymenus existed in a second flood. From what has already been said, it is evident that they who wrote such things and philosophized to so little purpose are miserable, and very profane and senseless persons. But Moses, our prophet and the servant of God, in giving an account of the genesis of the world, related in what manner the flood came upon the earth, telling us, besides, how the details of the flood came about, and relating no fable of Pyrrha nor of Deucalion or Clymenus; nor, forsooth, that only the plains were submerged, and that those only who escaped to the mountains were saved.

Chap. XIX. — Accurate Account of the Deluge.

And neither does he make out that there was a second flood: on the contrary, he said that never again would there be a flood of water on the world; as neither indeed has there been, nor ever shall be. And he says that eight human beings were preserved in the ark, in that which had been prepared by God’s direction, not by Deucalion, but by Noah; which Hebrew word means in English104 “rest,” as we have elsewhere shown that Noah, when he announced to the men then alive that there was a flood coming, prophesied to them, saying, Come thither, God calls you to repentance. On this account he was fitly called Deucalion.105 And this Noah had three sons (as we mentioned in the second book), whose names 117 were Shem, and Ham, and Japhet; and these had three wives, one wife each; each man and his wife. This man some have surnamed Eunuchus. All the eight persons, therefore, who were found in the ark were preserved. And Moses showed that the flood lasted forty days and forty nights, torrents pouring from heaven, and from the fountains of the deep breaking up, so that the water overtopped every high hill 15 cubits. And thus the race of all the men that then were was destroyed, and those only who were protected in the ark were saved; and these, we have already said, were eight. And of the ark, the remains are to this day to be seen in the Arabian mountains. This, then, is in sum the history of the deluge.


Clement of Alexandria

The Stromata, Or Miscellanies

Book VI.

The Fourth Commandment.

And the fourth136 word is that which intimates that the world was created by God, and that He gave us the seventh day as a rest, on account of the trouble that there is in life. For God is incapable of weariness, and suffering, and want. But we who bear flesh need rest. The seventh day, therefore, is proclaimed a rest – abstraction from ills – preparing for the Primal Day,137 our true rest; which, in truth, is the first creation of light, in which all things are viewed and possessed. From this day the first wisdom and knowledge illuminate us. For the light of truth – a light true, casting no shadow, is the Spirit of God indivisibly divided to all, who are sanctified by faith, holding the place of a luminary, in order to the knowledge of real existences. By following Him, therefore, through our whole life, we become impossible; and this is to rest.138

Wherefore Solomon also says, that before heaven, and earth, and all existences, Wisdom had arisen in the Almighty; the participation of which – that which is by power, I mean, not that by essence – teaches a man to know by apprehension things divine and human. Having reached this point, we must mention these things by the way; since the discourse has turned on the seventh and the eighth. For the eighth may possibly turn out to be properly the seventh, and the seventh manifestly the sixth, and the latter properly the Sabbath, and the seventh a day of work. For the creation of the world was concluded in six days. For the motion of the sun from solstice to solstice is completed in six months – in the course of which, at one time the leaves fall, and at another plants bud and seeds come to maturity. And they say that the embryo is perfected exactly in the sixth month, that is, in one hundred and eighty days in addition to the two and a half, as Polybus the physician relates in his book On the Eighth Month, and Aristotle the philosopher in his book On Nature. Hence the Pythagoreans, as I think, reckon six the perfect number, from the creation of the world, according to the prophet, and call it Meseuthys139 513 and Marriage, from its being the middle of the even numbers, that is, of ten and two. For it is manifestly at an equal distance from both.

And as marriage generates from male and female, so six is generated from the odd number three, which is called the masculine number, and the even number two, which is considered the feminine. For twice three are six.

Such, again, is the number of the most general motions, according to which all origination takes place – up, down, to the right, to the left, forward, backward. Rightly, then, they reckon the number seven motherless and childless, interpreting the Sabbath, and figuratively expressing the nature of the rest, in which “they neither marry nor are given in marriage any more.” (Luk_20:35) For neither by taking from one number and adding to another of those within ten is seven produced; nor when added to any number within the ten does it make up any of them.

And they called eight a cube, counting the fixed sphere along with the seven revolving ones, by which is produced “the great year,” as a kind of period of recompense of what has been promised.

Thus the Lord, who ascended the mountain, the fourth,140 becomes the sixth, and is illuminated all round with spiritual light, by laying bare the power proceeding from Him, as far as those selected to see were able to behold it, by the Seventh, the Voice, proclaimed to be the Son of God; in order that they, persuaded respecting Him, might have rest; while He by His birth, which was indicated by the sixth conspicuously marked, becoming the eighth, might appear to be God in a body of flesh, by displaying His power, being numbered indeed as a man, but being concealed as to who He was. For six is reckoned in the order of numbers, but the succession of the letters acknowledges the character which is not written. In this case, in the numbers themselves, each unit is preserved in its order up to seven and eight. But in the number of the characters, Zeta becomes six and Eta seven.

And the character141 having somehow slipped into writing, should we follow it out thus, the seven became six, and the eight seven.

Wherefore also man is said to have been made on the sixth day, who became faithful to Him who is the sign (τῷ ἐπισήμῳ142), so as straightway to receive the rest of the Lord’s inheritance. Some such thing also is indicated by the sixth hour in the scheme of salvation, in which man was perfected. Further, of the eight, the intermediates are seven; and of the seven, the intervals are shown to be six. For that is another ground, in which seven glorifies eight, and “the heavens declare to the heavens the glory of God.” (Psa_19:1)

The sensible types of these, then, are the sounds we pronounce. Thus the Lord Himself is called “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,” (Rev_21:6) “ by whom all things were made, and without whom not even one thing was made.” (Joh_1:3) God’s resting is not, then, as some conceive, that God ceased from doing. For, being good, if He should ever cease from doing good, then would He cease from being God, which it is sacrilege even to say. The resting is, therefore, the ordering that the order of created things should be preserved inviolate, and that each of the creatures should cease from the ancient disorder. For the creations on the different days followed in a most important succession; so that all things brought into existence might have honour from priority, created together in thought, but not being of equal worth. Nor was the creation of each signified by the voice, inasmuch as the creative work is said to have made them at once. For something must needs have been named first. Wherefore those things were announced first, from which came those that were second, all things being originated together from one essence by one power. For the will of God was one, in one identity. And how could creation take place in time, seeing time was born along with things which exist.

And now the whole world of creatures born alive, and things that grow, revolves in sevens. The first-born princes of the angels, who have the greatest power, are seven.143 The mathematicians also say that the planets, which perform their course around the earth, are seven; by which the Chaldeans think that all which concerns mortal life is effected through sympathy, in consequence of which they also undertake to tell things respecting the future.

And of the fixed stars, the Pleiades are seven. And the Bears, by the help of which agriculture and navigation are carried through, consist of seven stars. And in periods of seven days the moon undergoes its changes. In the first week she becomes half moon; in the second, full moon; and in the third, in her wane, again half moon; and in the fourth she disappears. Further, as Seleucus the mathematician lays down, she has seven phases. First, from being invisible she becomes crescent-shaped, then half 514 moon, then gibbous and full; and in her wane again gibbous, and in like manner half moon and crescent-shaped.

“On a seven-stringed lyre we shall sing new hymns,”

writes a poet of note, teaching us that the ancient lyre was seven-toned. The organs of the senses situated on our face are also seven – two eyes, two passages of hearing, two nostrils, and the seventh the mouth.

And that the changes in the periods of life take place by sevens, the Elegies of Solon teach thus : –


Origen

Origen Against Celsus. (Cont.)

Book VI. (C0nt.)

Chap. L.

In the next place, Celsus, after heaping together, simply as mere assertions, the varying opinions of some of the ancients regarding the world, and the origin of man, alleges that “Moses and the prophets, who have left to us our books, not knowing at all what the nature of the world is, and of man, have woven together a web of sheer nonsense.”177 If he had shown, now, how it appeared to him that the holy Scriptures contained “sheer nonsense,” we should have tried to demolish the arguments which appeared to him to establish their nonsensical character; but on the present occasion, following his own example, we also sportively give it as our opinion that Celsus, knowing nothing at all about the nature of the meaning and language of the prophets,178 composed a work which contained “sheer nonsense,” and boastfully gave it the title of a “true discourse.” And since he makes the statements about the “days of creation” ground of accusation, – as if he understood them clearly and correctly, some of which elapsed before the creation of light and heaven, and sun, and moon, and stars, and some of them after the creation of these, – we shall only make this observation, that Moses must then have forgotten that he had said a little before, “that in six days the creation of the world had been finished,” and that in consequence of this act of forgetfulness he subjoins to these words the following: “This is the book of the creation of man, in the day when God made the heaven and the earth!” But it is not in the least credible, that after what he had said respecting, the six days, Moses should immediately add, without a special meaning, the words, “in the day that God made the heavens and the earth;” and if any one thinks that these words may be referred to the statement, “In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth,” let him observe that before the words, “Let there be light, and there was light,” and these, “God called the light day,” it has been stated that “in the beginning God made the heaven and the earth.”

Chap. LI.

On the present occasion, however, it is not our object to enter into an explanation of the subject of intelligent and sensible beings,179 nor of the manner in which the different kinds180 of days were allotted to both sorts, nor to investigate the details which belong to the subject, for we should need whole treatises for the exposition of the Mosaic cosmogony; and that work we had already performed, to the best of our ability, a considerable time before the commencement of this answer to Celsus, when we discussed with such measure of capacity as we then possessed 597 the question of the Mosaic cosmogony of the six days. We must keep in mind, however, that the Word promises to the righteous through the mouth of Isaiah, that days will come181 when not the sun, but the Lord Himself, will be to them an everlasting light, and God will be their glory. (cf. Isa_60:19) And it is from misunderstanding, I think, some pestilent heresy which gave an erroneous interpretation to the words, “Let there be light,” as if they were the expression of a wish182 merely on the part of the Creator, that Celsus made the remark: “The Creator did not borrow light from above, like those persons who kindle their lamps at those of their neighbours.” Misunderstanding, moreover, another impious heresy, he has said: “If, indeed, there did exist an accursed god opposed to the great God, who did this contrary to his approval, why did he lend him the light?” So far are we from offering a defence of such puerilities, that we desire, on the contrary, distinctly to arraign the statements of these heretics as erroneous, and to undertake to refute, not those of their opinions with which we are unacquainted, as Celsus does, but those of which we have attained an accurate knowledge, derived in part from the statements of their own adherents, and partly from a careful perusal of their writings.


Hippolytus

The Refutation of All Heresies. (Cont.)

Book IV. (Cont.)

Chap. XLVIII. – Invention of the Lyre; Allegorizing the Appearance and Position of the Stars; Origin of the Phoenicians; the Logos Identified by Aratus with the Constellation Canis; Influence of Canis on Fertility and Life Generally.

And (Aratus) says that (the constellations) Lyra and Corona have been placed on both sides near him, – now I mean Engonasis, – but that he bends the knee, and stretches forth both hands, as if making a confession of sin. And that the lyre is a musical instrument fashioned by Logos while still altogether an infant, and that Logos is the same as he who is denominated Mercury among the Greeks. And Aratus, with regard to the construction of the lyre, observes: –

“Then, further, also near the cradle,150

Hermes pierced it through, and said, Call it Lyre.”151

It consists of seven strings, signifying by these seven strings the entire harmony and construction of the world as it is melodiously constituted. For in six days the world was made, and (the Creator) rested on the seventh. If, then, says (Aratus), Adam, acknowledging (his guilt) and guarding the head of the Beast, according to the commandment of the Deity, will imitate Lyra, that is, obey the Logos of God, that is, submit to the law, he will receive Corona that is situated near him. If, however, he neglect his duty, he shall be hurled downwards in company with the Beast that lies underneath, and shall have, he says, his portion with the Beast. And Engonasis seems on both sides to extend his hands, and on one to touch Lyra, and on the other Corona – and this is his confession; – so that it is possible to distinguish him by means of this (sidereal) configuration itself. But Corona nevertheless is plotted against, and forcibly drawn away by another beast, a smaller Dragon, which is the offspring of him who is guarded by the foot152 of Engonasis. A man also stands firmly grasping with both hands, and dragging towards the space behind the Serpent from Corona; and he does not permit the Beast to touch Corona, though making a violent effort to do so. And Aratus styles him Anguitenens, because he restrains the impetuosity of the Serpent in his attempt to reach Corona. But Logos, he says, is he who, in the figure of a man, hinders the Beast from reaching Corona, commiserating him who is being plotted against by the Dragon and his offspring simultaneously.

These (constellations), “The Bears,” however, he says, are two hebdomads, composed of seven stars, images of two creations. For the first creation, he affirms, is that according to Adam in labours, this is he who is seen “on his knees” (Engonasis). The second creation, however, is that according to Christ, by which we are regenerated; and this is Anguitenens, who struggles against the Beast, and hinders him from reaching Corona, which is reserved for the man. But “The Great Bear” is, he says, Helice,153 symbol of a mighty world towards which the Greeks steer their course, that is, for which they are being disciplined. And, wafted by the waves of life, they follow onwards, (having in prospect) some such revolving world or discipline or wisdom which conducts those back that follow in pursuit of such a world. For the term Helice seems to signify a certain circling and revolution towards the same points. There is likewise a certain other “Small Bear” (Cynosuris), as it were some image of the second creation – that formed according to God. For few, he says, there are that journey by the narrow path.154 But they assert that Cynosuris is narrow, towards which Aratus155 says that the Sidonians 44 navigate. But Aratus has spoken partly of the Sidonians, (but means) the Phoenicians, on account of the existence of the admirable wisdom of the Phoenicians. The Greeks, however, assert that they are Phoenicians, who have migrated from (the shores of) the Red Sea into this country where they even at present dwell, for this is the opinion of Herodotus.156 Now Cynosura, he says, is this (lesser) Bear, the second creation; the one of limited dimensions, the narrow way, and not Helice. For he does not lead them back, but guides forward by a straight path, those that follow him being (the tail) of Canis. For Canis is the Logos,157 partly guarding and preserving the flock, that is plotted against by the wolves; and partly like a dog, hunting the beasts from the creation, and destroying them; and partly producing all things, and being what they express by the name “Cyon” (Canis), that is, generator. Hence it is said, Aratus has spoken of the rising of Canis, expressing himself thus: “When, however, Canis has risen, no longer do the crops miss.” This is what he says: Plants that have been put into the earth up to the period of Canis’ rising, frequently, though not having struck root, are yet covered with a profusion of leaves, and afford indications to spectators that they will be productive, and that they appear full of life, (though in reality) not having vitality in themselves from the root. But when the rising of Canis takes place, the living are separated from the dead by Canis; for whatsoever plants have not taken root, really undergo putrefaction. This Canis, therefore, he says, as being a certain divine Logos, has been appointed judge of quick and dead. And as (the influence of) Canis is observable in the vegetable productions of this world, so in plants of celestial growth – in men – is beheld the (power of the) Logos. From some such cause, then, Cynosura, the second creation, is set in the firmament as an image of a creation by the Logos. The Dragon, however, in the centre reclines between the two creations, preventing a transition of whatever things are from the great creation to the small creation; and in guarding those that are fixed in the (great) creation, as for instance Engonasis, observing (at the same time) how and in what manner each is constituted in the small creation. And (the Dragon) himself is watched at the head, he says, by Anguitenens. This image, he affirms, is fixed in heaven, being a certain wisdom to those capable of discerning it. If, however, this is obscure, by means of some other image, he says the creation teaches (men) to philosophize, in regard to which Aratus has expressed himself thus: –

“Neither of Cepheus Iasidas are we the wretched brood.”158

Chap. VII. – Monoïmus on the Sabbath; Allegorizes the Rod of Moses; Notion Concerning the Decalogue.

The world, then, as Moses says, was made in six days, that is, by six powers, which (are inherent) in the one tittle of the iota. (But) the seventh (day, which is) a rest and Sabbath, has been produced from the Hebdomad, which is over earth, and water, and fire, and air. And from these (elements) the world has been formed by the one tittle. For cubes, and octahedrons, and pyramids, and all figures similar to these, out of which consist fire, air, water, (and) earth, have arisen from numbers which are comprehended in that simple tittle of the iota. And this (tittle) constitutes a perfect son of a perfect man. When, therefore, he says, Moses mentions that the rod was changeably brandished for the (introduction of the) plagues throughout Egypt (Exo_7:1-25, Exo_8:1-32) – now these plagues, he says, are allegorically expressed symbols of the creation21 – he did not (as a symbol) for more plagues than ten shape the rod. Now this (rod) constitutes one tittle of the iota, and is (both) twofold (and) various. This succession of ten plagues is, he says, the mundane creation. For all things, by being stricken, bring forth and bear fruit, just like vines. Man, he says, bursts forth, and is forcibly separated from man by being severed by a certain stroke. (And this takes place) in order that (man) may be generated, and may declare the law which Moses ordained, who received (it) from God. Conformably22 with that one tittle, the law constitutes the series of the ten commandments which expresses allegorically the divine mysteries of (those) precepts. For, he says, all knowledge of the universe is contained 122 in what relates to the succession of the ten plagues and the series of the ten commandments. And no one is acquainted with this (knowledge) who is (of the number) of those that are deceived concerning the offspring of the woman. If, however, you say that the Pentateuch constitutes the entire law, it is from the Pentad which is comprehended in the one tittle. But the entire is for those who have not been altogether perfected in understanding a mystery, a new and not antiquated feast, legal, (and) everlasting, a passover of the Lord God kept unto our generations, by those who are able to discern (this mystery), at the commencement of the fourteenth day, which is the beginning of a decade from which, he says, they reckon. For the monad, as far as fourteen, is the summary of that one (tittle) of the perfect number. For one, two, three, four, become ten; and this is the one tittle. But from fourteen until one-and-twenty, he asserts that there is an Hebdomad which inheres in the one tittle of the world, and constitutes an unleavened creature in all these. For in what respect, he says, would the one tittle require any substance such as leaven (derived) from without for the Lord’s Passover, the eternal feast, which is given for generation upon generation? [Exo_12:17. Compare 1Co_5:7, 1Co_5:8] For the entire world and all causes of creation constitute a passover, (i.e.,) a feast of the Lord. For God rejoices in the conversion of the creation, and this is accomplished by ten strokes of the one tittle. And this (tittle) is Moses’ rod, which was given by God into the hand of Moses. And with this (rod Moses) smites the Egyptians, for the purpose of altering bodies, – as, for instance, water into blood; and the rest of (material) things similarly with these, – (as, for example,) the locusts, which is a symbol of grass. And by this he means the alteration of the elements into flesh; “for all flesh,” he says, “is grass.” (Isa_40:6) These men, nevertheless receive even the entire law after some such manner; adopting very probably, as I think, the opinions of those of the Greeks who affirm that there are Substance, and Quality, and Quantity, and Relation, and Place, and Time, and Position, and Action, and Possession, and Passion.

Chap. XIII. – Monoïmus.

But the followers of Monoïmus the Arabian assert that the originating principle of the universe is a primal man and son of man; and that, as Moses states, the things that have been produced were produced not by the primal man, but by the Son of that primal man, yet not by the entire Son, but by part of Him. And (Monoïmus asserts) that the Son of man is iota, which stands for ten, the principal number in which is (inherent) the subsistence of all number (in general, and) through which every number (in particular) consists, as well as the generation of the universe, fire, air, water, and earth. But inasmuch as this is one iota and one tittle, and what is perfect (emanates) from what is perfect, or, in other words, a tittle flows down from above, containing all things in itself; (therefore,) whatsoever things also the man possesses, the Father of the Son of man possesses likewise. Moses, therefore, says that the world was made in six days, that is, by six powers, out of which the world was made by the one tittle. For cubes, and octahedrons, and pyramids, and all figures similar to these, having equal superficies, out of which consist fire, air, water, and earth, have been produced from numbers comprehended in that simple tittle of the iota, which is Son of man. When, therefore, says (Monoïmus), Moses mentions the rod’s being brandished for the purpose of bringing the plagues upon Egypt, he alludes allegorically to the (alterations of the) world of iota; nor did he frame more than ten plagues. If, however, says he, you wish to become acquainted with the universe, search within yourself who is it that says, “My soul, my flesh, and my mind,” and who is it that appropriates each one thing unto himself, as another (would do) for himself. Understand that this is a perfect one arising from (one that is) perfect, and that he considers as his own all so-called nonentities and all entities. These, then, are the opinions of Monoïmus also.

The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus.

4. But that we may not leave our subject at this point undemonstrated, we are obliged to discuss the matter of the times, of which a man should not speak hastily, because they are a light to him. For as the times are noted from the foundation of the world, and reckoned from Adam, they set clearly before us the matter with which our inquiry deals. For the first appearance of our Lord in the flesh took place in Bethlehem, under Augustus, in the year 5500; and He suffered in the thirty-third year. And 6,000 years must needs be accomplished, in order that the Sabbath may come, the rest, the holy day “on which God rested from all His works.”80 For the Sabbath is the type and emblem of the future kingdom of the saints, when they “shall reign with Christ,” when He comes from heaven, as John says in his Apocalypse: for “a day with the Lord is as a thousand years.” (Psa_90:4) Since, then, in six days God made all things, it follows that 6,000 years must be fulfilled. And they are not yet fulfilled, as John says: “five are fallen; one is,” that is, the sixth; “the other is not yet come.” (Rev_17:10)


Archelaus

The Acts of the Disputation with the Heresiarch Manes.

31. Listen also to what I have to say on this other expression which has been adduced, viz., “Christ, who redeemed us from the curse of the law.” (Gal_3:13) My view of this passage is that Moses, that illustrious servant of God, committed to those who wished to have the right vision,220 an emblematic221 law, and also a real law. Thus, to take an example, after God had made the world, and all things that are in it, in the space of six days, He rested on the seventh day from all His works by which statement I do not mean to affirm that He rested because He was fatigued, but that He did so as having brought to its perfection every creature which He had resolved to introduce. And yet in the sequel it, the new law, says: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” (Joh_5:17) Does that mean, then, that He is still making heaven, or sun, or man, or animals, or trees, or any such thing? Nay; but the meaning is, that when these visible objects were perfectly finished, He rested from that kind of work; while, however, He still continues to work at objects invisible with an inward mode of action,222 and saves men. In like manner, then, the legislator desires also that every individual amongst us should be devoted unceasingly to this kind of work, even as God Himself is; and he enjoins us consequently to rest continuously from secular things, and to engage in no worldly sort of work whatsoever; and this is called our Sabbath. This also he added in the law, that nothing senseless223 should be done but that we should be careful and direct our life in accordance with what is just and righteous. Now this law was suspended over men, discharging most sharply its curse against those who might transgress it. But because its subjects, too, were but men, and because, as happens also frequently I with us, controversies arose and injuries were inflicted, the law likewise at once, and with the severest equity, made any wrong that was done 204 return upon the head of the wrong-doer;224 so that, for instance, if a poor man was minded to gather a bundle of wood upon the Sabbath, he was placed under the curse of the law, and exposed to the penality of instant death. (Num_15:32) The men, therefore, who had been brought up with the Egyptians were thus severely pressed by the restrictive power of the law, and they were unable to bear the penalties and the curses of the law. But, again, He who is ever the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, came and delivered those men from these pains and curses of the law, forgiving them their offences. And He indeed did not deal with them as Moses did, putting the severities of the law in force, and granting indulgence to no man for any offence; but He declared that if any man suffered an injury at the hands of his neighbour, he was to forgive him not once only, nor even twice or thrice, nor only seven times, but even unto seventy times seven; (Mat_18:21) but that, on the other hand, if after all this the offender still continued to do such wrong, he ought then, as the last resource, to be brought under the law of Moses, and that no further pardon should be granted to the man who would thus persist in wrong-doing, even after having been forgiven unto seventy times seven. And He bestowed His forgiveness not only on a transgressor of such a character as that, but even on one who did offence to the Son of man. But if a man dealt thus with the Holy Spirit, He made him subject to two curses, – namely, to that of the law of Moses, and to that of His own law; to the law of Moses in truth in this present life, but to His own law at the time of the judgment: for His word is this: “It shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” (Mat_12:32) There is the law of Moses, thus, that in this world gives pardon to no such person; and there is the law of Christ that punishes in the future world. From this, therefore, mark how He confirms the law, not only not destroying it, but fulfilling it. Thus, then, He redeemed them from that curse of the law which belongs to the present life; and from this fact has come the appellation “the curse of the law.” This is the whole account which needs be given of that mode of speech. But, again, why the law is called the “strength of sin, we shall at once explain in brief to the best of our ability. Now it is written that “the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners.”

Chap. V. – The Sixty Queens: Why Sixty, and Why Queens; the Excellence of the Saints of the First Age.

In addition to these matters, there is this also to be considered, so that nothing may escape us of things which are necessary, why He said that the queens were sixty, and the concubines eighty, and the virgins so numerous as not to be counted from their multitude, but the spouse one. And first let us speak of the sixty. I imagine that He named under the sixty queens, those who had pleased God from the first-made man in succession to Noah, for this reason, since these had no need of precepts and laws for their salvation, the creation of the world in six days being still recent. For they remembered that in six days God formed the creation, and those things which were made in paradise; and how man, receiving a command not to touch89 the tree of knowledge, ran aground, the author of evil having led him astray. (Gen_3:3) Thence he gave the symbolical name of sixty queens to those souls who, from the creation of the world, in succession chose God as the object of their love, and were almost, so to speak, the offspring of the first age, and neighbours of the great six days’ work, from their having been born, as I said, immediately after the six days. For these had great honour, being associated with the angels, and often seeing God manifested visibly, and not in a dream. For consider what confidence Seth had towards God, and Abel, and Enos, and Enoch, and Methuselah, and Noah, the first lovers of righteousness, and the first of the first-born children who are written in heaven, (Heb_11:23) being thought worthy of the kingdom, as a kind of first-fruits of the plants for salvation, coming out as early fruit to God. And so much may suffice concerning these.


Methodius

The Banquet of the Ten Virgins; or, Concerning Chastity.

Chap. XI. – The Woman with the Male Child in the Wilderness the Church; the Wilderness Belongs to Virgins and Saints; the Perfection of Numbers and Mysteries; the Equality and Perfection of the Number Six; the Number Six Related to Christ; from This Number, Too, the Creation and Harmony of the World Completed.

Moreover, it is evident that the creation of the world was accomplished in harmony with this number, God having made heaven and earth, and the things which are in them, in six days; the word of creative power containing the number six, in accordance with which the Trinity is the maker of bodies. For length, and breadth, and depth make up a body. And the number six is composed of triangles. On these subjects, however, there is not sufficient time at present to enlarge with accuracy, for fear of letting the main subject slip, in considering that which is secondary.

Chap. I. – Chastity the Chief Ornament of the True Tabernacle; Seven Days Appointed to the Jews for Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles: What They Signify; the Sum of This Septenary Uncertain; Not Clear to Any One when the Consummation of the World Will Be; Even Now the Fabric of the World Completed.

…God, when He appointed to the true Israelites the legal rite of the true feast of the tabernacles, directed, in Leviticus, how they should keep and do honour to the feast; above all things, saying that each one should adorn his tabernacle with chastity. I will add the words themselves of Scripture, from which, without any doubt, it will be shown how agreeable to God, and acceptable to Him, is this ordinance of virginity: “In the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a Sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows127 of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the Lord seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations; ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths; that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Lev_23:39-42)

Here the Jews, fluttering about the bare letter of Scripture, like drones about the leaves of herbs, but not about flowers and fruits as the bee, fully believe that these words and ordinances were spoken concerning such a tabernacle as they erect; as if God delighted in those trivial adornments which they, preparing, fabricate from trees, not perceiving the wealth of good things to come; whereas these things, being like air and phantom shadows, foretell the resurrection and the putting up of our tabernacle that had fallen upon the earth, which at length, in the seventh thousand of years, resuming again immortal, we shall celebrate the great feast of true tabernacles in the new and indissoluble creation, the fruits of the earth having been gathered in, and men no longer begetting and begotten, but God resting from the works of creation.128

For since in six days God made the heaven and the earth, and finished the whole world, and rested on the seventh day from all His works which He had made, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, (Gen_2:1) so by a figure in the seventh month, when the fruits of the earth have been gathered in, we are commanded to keep the feast to the Lord, which signifies that, when this world shall be terminated at the seventh thousand years, when God shall have completed the world, He shall rejoice in us. (Psa_104:31) For now to this time all things are created by His all-sufficient will and inconceivable power; the earth still yielding its fruits, and the waters being gathered together in their receptacles; and the light still severed from darkness, and the allotted number of men not yet being complete; and the sun arising to rule the day, and the moon the night; and four-footed creatures, and beasts, and creeping things arising from the earth, and winged creatures, and creatures that swim, from the water. Then, when the appointed times shall have been accomplished, and God shall have ceased to form this creation, in the seventh month, the great resurrection-day, it is commanded that the Feast of our Tabernacles shall be celebrated to the Lord, of which the things said in Leviticus are symbols and figures, which things, carefully investigating, we should consider 345 the naked truth itself, for He saith, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words Of the wise, and their dark sayings.” (Pro_1:5, Pro_1:6)

Wherefore let it shame the Jews that they do not perceive the deep things of the Scriptures, thinking that nothing else than outward things are contained in the law and the prophets; for they, intent upon things earthly, have in greater esteem the riches of the world than the wealth which is of the soul. For since the Scriptures are in this way divided that some of them give the likeness of past events, some of them a type of the future, the miserable men, going back, deal with the figures of the future as if they were already things of the past. As in the instance of the immolation of the Lamb, the mystery of which they regard as solely in remembrance of the deliverance of their fathers from Egypt, when, although the first-born of Egypt were smitten, they themselves were preserved by marking the door-posts of their houses with blood. Nor do they understand that by it also the death of Christ is personified, by whose blood souls made safe and sealed shall be preserved from wrath in the burning of the world; whilst the first-born, the sons of Satan, shall be destroyed with an utter destruction by the avenging angels, who shall reverence the seal of the Blood impressed upon the former.

Methodius (Cont.) Fragments.

IX. He says that Origen, after having fabled many things concerning the eternity of the universe, adds this also: Nor yet from Adam, as some say, did man, previously not existing, first take his existence and come into the world. Nor again did the world begin to be made six days before the creation of Adam. But if any one should prefer to differ in these points, let him first say, whether a period of time be not easily reckoned from the creation of the world, according to the Book of Moses, to those who so receive it, the voice of prophecy here proclaiming: “Thou art God from everlasting, and world without end. . . . For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday: seeing that is past as a watch in the night.” (Psa_90:2, Psa_90:4) For when a thousand years are reckoned as one day in the sight of God, and from the creation of the world to His rest is six days, so also to our time, six days are defined, as those say who are clever arithmeticians. Therefore, they say that an age of six thousand years extends from Adam to our time. For they say that the judgment will come on the seventh day, that is in the seventh thousand years. Therefore, all the days from our time to that which was in the beginning, in which God created the heaven and the earth, are computed to be thirteen days; before which God, because he had as yet created nothing according to their folly, is stripped of His name of Father and Almighty. But if there are thirteen days in the sight of God from the creation of the world, how can Wisdom say, in the Book of the Son of Sirach: “Who can number the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of eternity ?” (Ecclus. 1:2) This is what Origen says seriously, and mark how he trifles. 382


Lactantius

The Divine Institutes.

Chap. XIV. – Of the First and Last Times of the World.

Since we have spoken of the immortality of the soul, it follows that we teach how and when it is given to man; that in this also they may see the errors of their perverseness and folly, who imagine that some mortals have become gods by the decrees and dogmas of mortals; either because they had invented arts, or because they had taught the use of certain productions of the earth, or because they had discovered things useful for the life of men, or because they had slain savage beasts. How far these things were from deserving immortality we have both shown in the former books, and we will now show, that it may be evident that it is righteousness alone which procures for man eternal life, and that it is God alone who bestows the reward of eternal life. For they who are said to have been immortalized by their merits, inasmuch as they possessed neither righteousness nor any true virtue, did not obtain for themselves immortality, but death by their sins and lusts; nor did they deserve the reward of heaven, but the punishment of hell, which impends over them, together with all their worshippers. And I show that the time of this judgment draws near, that the due reward may be given to the righteous, and the deserved punishment may be inflicted on the wicked.

Plato and many others of the philosophers, since they were ignorant of the origin of all things, and of that primal period at which the world was made, said that many thousands of ages had passed since this beautiful arrangement of the world was completed; and in this they perhaps followed the Chaldeans, who, as Cicero has related in his first book respecting divination,104 foolishly say105 that they possess comprised in their memorials four hundred and seventy thousand years; in which matter, because they thought that they could not be convicted, they believed that they were at liberty106 to speak falsely. But we, whom the Holy Scriptures instruct to the knowledge of the truth, know the beginning and the end of the world, respecting which we will now speak in the end of our work, since we have explained respecting the beginning in the second book. Therefore let the philosophers, who enumerate thousands of ages from the beginning of the world, know that the six thousandth year is not yet completed, and that when this number is completed the consummation must take place, and the condition of human affairs be remodelled for the better, the proof of which must first be related, that the matter itself may be plain. God completed the world and this admirable work of nature in the space of six days, as is contained in the secrets of Holy Scripture, and consecrated the seventh day, on which He had rested from His works. But this is the Sabbath-day, which in the language of the Hebrews received its name from the number,107 whence the seventh is the legitimate and complete number. For there are seven days, by the revolutions of which in order the circles of years are made up; and there are seven stars which do not set, and seven luminaries which are called planets,108 whose differing and unequal movements are believed to cause the varieties of circumstances and times.109

Therefore, since all the works of God were completed in six days, the world must continue in its present state through six ages, that is, six thousand years. For the great day of God is limited by a circle of a thousand years, as the prophet shows, who says, (Psa_90:4; see also 2Pe_3:8) “In Thy sight, O Lord, a thousand years are as one day.” And as God laboured during those six days in creating such great works, so His religion and truth must labour during these six thousand years