Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Irenaeus: Against Heresies

Max asked a question regarding the last post.  My response will be to include an excerpt, so that it will not be necessary for me to extract a principle regarding the manner in which the gnostics had employed the Bible!

"2. These AEons having been produced for the glory of the Father, and wishing, by their own efforts, to effect this object, sent forth emanations by means of conjunction. Logos and Zoe, after producing Anthropos and Ecclesia, sent forth other ten AEons, whose names are the following: Bythius and Mixis, Ageratos and Henosis, Autophyes and Hedone, Acinetos and Syncrasis, Monogenes and Macaria. These are the ten AEons whom they declare to have been produced by Logos and Zoe. They then add that Anthropos himself, along with Ecclesia, produced twelve AEons, to whom they give the following names: Paracletus and Pistis, Patricos and Elpis, Metricos and Agape, Ainos and Synesis, Ecclesiasticus and Macariotes, Theletos and Sophia.


3. Such are the thirty AEons in the erroneous system of these men; and they are described as being wrapped up, so to speak, in silence, and known to none [except these professing teachers]. Moreover, they declare that this invisible and spiritual Pleroma of theirs is tripartite, being divided into an Ogdoad, a Decad, and a Duodecad. And for this reason they affirm it was that the "Saviour"--for they do not please to call Him "Lord"--did no work in public during the space of thirty years, thus setting forth the mystery of these AEons. They maintain also, that these thirty AEons are most plainly indicated in the parable of the labourers sent into the vineyard. For some are sent about the first hour, others about the third hour, others about the sixth hour, others about the ninth hour, and others about the eleventh hour. Now, if we add up the numbers of the hours here mentioned, the sum total will be thirty: for one, three, six, nine, and eleven, when added together, form thirty. And by the hours, they hold that the AEons were pointed out; while they maintain that these are great, and wonderful, and hitherto unspeakable mysteries which it is their special function to develop; and so they proceed when they find anything in the multitude of things contained in the Scriptures which they can adopt and accommodate to their baseless speculations." - Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book I

This refers to the vineyard parable that is in Matthew 20:1-16.  The names of the AEons are Greek words some of which are used in the Bible, but not exclusively so.  My main observation is that this system of AEons causes the point of the parable - stated clearly and concisely in Matthew 20:16 - to be lost in the noise.

4 comments:

Max Coutinho said...

Hi Looney,

I will return to comment on this post (and by the way: thank you for answering my question).

I just wanted to wish you and yours a Merry Easter! :D
Since you are learning Hebrew (and Jesus was a Jew): Chag Sameach!

I'll be back.

Cheers

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

"My main observation is that this system of AEons causes the point of the parable - stated clearly and concisely in Matthew 20:16 - to be lost in the noise."

I totally agree with you. The system of Aeons reminds me of those texts that are made confusing so that people do not feel drawn to them or understand them - meant to be a sign of enlightenment it is rather a sign of ignorance and selfishness.

About the Parable of the workers in the vineyard: it is perfect in so many ways. It is a great lesson about the free market rules (if you work more than your neighbour you deserve, and you feel natural, to earn more than him); about the importance of being focused about your rights (the first hired workers were so eager to work and get paid that didn't realise that the landowner told them they'd only get paid a denarius despite the number of hours they'd work to earn it); about the power of the rich etc...
I also find it curious the way the landowner asks if he doesn't have the right to do what he wants with his own money...well, ethics may answer that he doesn't.

Very interesting article and, once again, thank you for answering my question.

Cheers

Looney said...

Max, if there is interest in the article, I guess it goes to Irenaeus!

Do you think that there are any modern concepts like AEons? A word mundane word hijacked, given a new spiritual meaning with an aura, and then presented to the general public as a serious notion?

Max Coutinho said...

Looney,

"Do you think that there are any modern concepts like AEons? A word mundane word hijacked, given a new spiritual meaning with an aura, and then presented to the general public as a serious notion?"

I swear the first thing that came to my mind when I read this question was: the Freemasonry (I don't know why). Then the second thing that came to my mind was Helena Blavatsky's followers. But who would you indicate as the modern concept of the Aeons?