Irenaeus, ag. Heresies Liv.2 ch.20
1 That they improperly and illogically apply both the parables and the actions of the Lord to their falsely-devised system, I prove as follows: They endeavour, for instance, to demonstrate that passion which, they say, happened in the case of the twelfth AEon, from this fact, that the passion of the Saviour was brought about by the twelfth apostle, and happened in the twelfth month. For they hold that He preached (only] for one year after His baptism. They maintain also that the same thing was clearly set forth in the case of her who suffered from the issue of blood. For the woman suffered during twelve years, and through touching the hem of the Saviour's garment she was made whole by that power which went forth from the Saviour, and which, they affirm, had a previous existence. For that Power who suffered was stretching herself outwards and flowing into immensity, so that she was in danger of being dissolved into the general substance (of the AEons]; but then, touching the primary Tetrad, which is typified by the hem of the garment, she was arrested, and ceased from her passion.
2 Then, again, as to their assertion that the passion of the twelfth AEon was proved through the conduct of Judas, how is it possible that Judas can be compared (with this AEon] as being an emblem of her--he who was expelled from the number of the twelve,(1) and never restored to his place? For that AEon, whose type they declare Judas to be, after being separated from her Enthymesis, was restored or recalled (to her former position]; but Judas was deprived (of his office], and cast out, while Matthias was ordained in his place, according to what is written, "And his bishopric let another take."(2) They ought therefore to maintain that the twelfth AEon was cast out of the Pleroma, and that another was produced, or sent forth to fill her place; if, that is to say, she is pointed at in Judas. Moreover, they tell us that it was the AEon herself who suffered, but Judas was the betrayer, (and not the sufferer.] Even they themselves acknowledge that it was the suffering Christ, and not Judas, who came to (the endurance of] passion. How, then, could Judas, the betrayer of Him who had to suffer for our salvation, be the type and image of that AEon who suffered?
3 But, in truth, the passion of Christ was neither similar to the passion of the AEon, nor did it take place in similar circumstances. For the AEon underwent a passion of dissolution and destruction, so that she who suffered was in danger also of being destroyed. But the Lord, our Christ, underwent a valid, and not a merely(3) accidental passion; not only was He Himself not in danger of being destroyed, but He also established fallen man(4) by His own strength, and recalled him to incorruption. The AEon, again, underwent passion while she was seeking after the Father, and was notable to find Him; but the Lord suffered that He might bring those who have wandered from the Father, back to knowledge and to His fellowship. The search into the greatness of the Father became to her a passion leading to destruction; but the Lord, having suffered, and bestowing the knowledge of the Father, conferred on us salvation. Her passion, as they declare, gave origin to a female offspring, weak, infirm, unformed, and ineffective; but His passion gave rise to strength and power. For the Lord, through means of suffering, "ascending into the lofty place, led captivity captive, gave gifts to men,"(5) and conferred on those that believe in Him the power "to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and on all the power of the enemy,"(6) that is, of the leader of apostasy. Our Lord also by His passion destroyed death, and dispersed error, and put an end to corruption, and destroyed ignorance, while He manifested life and revealed truth, and bestowed the gift of incorruption. But their AEon, when she had suffered, established(7) ignorance, and brought forth a substance without shape, out of which all material works have been produced--death, corruption, error, and such like.
4 Judas, then, the twelfth in order of the disciples, was not a type of the suffering AEon, nor, again, was the passion of the Lord; for these two things have been shown to be in every respect mutually dissimilar and inharmonious. This is the case not only as respects the points which I have already mentioned, but with regard to the very number. For that Judas the traitor is the twelfth in order, is agreed upon by all, there being twelve apostles mentioned by name in the Gospel. But this AEon is not the twelfth, but the thirtieth; for, according to the views under consideration, there were not twelve AEons only produced by the will of the Father, nor was she sent forth the twelfth in order: they reckon her, (on the contrary,] as having been produced in the thirtieth place. How, then, can Judas, the twelfth in order, be the type and image of that AEon who occupies the thirtieth place?
5 But if they say that Judas in perishing was the image of her Enthymesis, neither in this way will the image bear any analogy to that truth which (by hypothesis] corresponds to it. For the Enthymesis having been separated fromt he AEon, and itself afterwards receiving a shape from Christ,(8) then being made a partaker of intelligence by the Saviour, and having formed all things which are outside of the Pleroma, after the image of those which are within the Pleroma, is said at last to have been received by them into the Pleroma, and, according to (the principle of] conjunction, to have been united to that Saviour who was formed out of all. But Judas having been once for all cast away, never returns into the number of the disciples; otherwise a different person would not have been chosen to fill his place. Besides, the Lord also declared regarding him, "Woe to the man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed;" (1) and, "It were better for him if he had never been born;"(2) and he was called the "son of perdition"(3) by Him. If, however, they say that Judas was a type of the Enthymesis, not as separated from the AEon, but of the passion entwined with her, neither in this way can the number twelve be regarded as a (fitting] type of the number three. For in the one case Judas was cast away, and Matthias was ordained instead of him; but in the other case the AEon is said to have been in danger of dissolution and destruction, and (there are also] her Enthymesis and passion: for they markedly distinguish Enthymesis from the passion; and they represent the AEon as being restored, and Enthymesis as acquiring form, but the passion, when separated from these, as becoming matter. Since, therefore, there are thus these three, the AEon, her Enthymesis, and her passion, Judas and Matthias, being only two, cannot be the types of them.
1 If, again, they maintain that the twelve apostles were a type only of that group of twelve AEons which Anthropos in conjunction with Ecclesia produced, then let them produce ten other apostles as a type of those ten remaining AEons, who, as they declare, were produced by Logos and Zoe. For it is unreasonable to suppose that the junior, and for that reason inferior AEons, were set forth by the Saviour through the election of the apostles, while their seniors, and on this account their superiors, were not thus foreshown; since the Saviour (if, that is to say, He chose the apostles with this view, that by means of them He might show forth the AEons who are in the Pleroma) might have chosen other ten apostles also, and likewise other eight before these, that thus He might set forth the original and primary Ogdoad. He could not,(4) in regard to the second (Duo] Decad, show forth (any emblem of it] through the number of the apostles being (already] constituted a type. For (He made choice of no such other number of disciples; but] after the twelve apostles, our Lord is found to have sent seventy others before Him.(5) Now seventy cannot possibly be the type either of an Ogdoad, a Decad, or a Triacontad. What is the reason, then, that the inferior AEons are, as I have said, represented by means of the apostles; but the superior, from whom, too, the former derived their being, are not prefigured at all? But if(6) the twelve apostles were chosen with this object, that the number of the twelve AEons might be indicated by means of them, then the seventy also ought to have been chosen to be the type of seventy AEons; and in that case, they must affirm that the AEons are no longer thirty, but eighty-two in number. For He who made choice of the apostles, that they might be a type of those AEons existing in the Pleroma, would never have constituted them types of some and not of others; but by means of the apostles He would have tried to preserve an image and to exhibit a type of those AEons that exist in the Pleroma.
2 Moreover we must not keep silence respecting Paul, but demand from them after the type of what AEon that apostle has been handed down to us, unless perchance (they affirm that he is a representative] of the Saviour compounded of them (all], who derived his being from the collected gifts of the whole, and whom they term All Things, as having been formed out of them all. Respecting this being the poet Hesiod has strikingly expressed himself, styling him Pandora--that is, "The gift of all"--for this reason, that the best gift in the possession of all was centred in him. In describing these gifts the following account is given: Hermes (so(7) he is called in the Greek language), A<greek>imulious</greek>(8) <greek>te</greek> <greek>logous</greek> <greek>kai</greek> <greek>epiklopon</greek> <greek>hqos</greek> <greek>autaus</greek> K<greek>atqeto</greek> (or to express this in the English(9) language), "implanted words of fraud and deceit in their minds, and thievish habits," for the purpose of leading foolish men astray, that such should believe their falsehoods. For their Mother--that is, Leto(10)--secretly stirred them up (whence also she is called Leto,(11) according to the meaning of the Greek word, because she secretly stirred up men), without the knowledge of the Demiurge, to give forth profound and unspeakable mysteries to itching ears.(12) And not only did their Mother bring it about that this mystery should be declared by Hesiod; but very skilfully also by means of the lyric poet Pindar, when he describes to the Demiurge(13) the case of Pelops, whose flesh was cut in pieces by the Father, and then collected and brought together, and compacted anew by all the gods,(1) did she in this way indicate Pandora and these men having their consciences seared(2) by her, declaring, as they maintain, the very same things, are (proved] of the same family and spirit as the others.
HE DID NOT SUFFER IN THE TWELFTH MONTH AFTER HIS BAPTISM, BUT WAS MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS OLD WHEN HE DIED.
1 I have shown that the number thirty fails them in every respect; too few AEons, as they represent them, being at one time found within the Pleroma, and then again too many (to correspond with that number]. There are not, therefore, thirty AEons, nor did the Saviour come to be baptized when He was thirty years old, for this reason, that He might show forth the thirty silent(3) AEons of their system, otherwise they must first of all separate and eject (the Saviour] Himself from the Pleroma of all. Moreover, they affirm that He suffered in the twelfth month, so that He continued to preach for one year after His baptism; and they endeavour to establish this point out of the prophet (for it is written, "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of retribution"(4)), being truly blind, inasmuch as they affirm they have found out the mysteries of Bythus, yet not understanding that which is called by Isaiah the acceptable year of the Lord, nor the day of retribution. For the prophet neither speaks concerning a day which includes the space of twelve hours, nor of a year the length of which is twelve months. For even they themselves acknowledge that the prophets have very often expressed themselves in parables and allegories, and (are] not (to be understood] according to the mere sound of the words.
2 That, then, was called the day of retribution on which the Lord will render to every one according to his works--that is, the judgment. The acceptable year of the Lord, again, is this present time, in which those who believe Him are called by Him, and become acceptable to God--that is, the whole time from His advent onwards to the consummation (of all things], during which He acquires to Himself as fruits (of the scheme of mercy] those who are saved. For, according to the phraseology of the prophet, the day of retribution follows the (acceptable] year; and the prophet will be proved guilty of falsehood if the Lord preached only for a year, and if he speaks of it. For where is the day of retribution? For the year has passed, and the day of retribution has not yet come; but He still "makes His sun to rise upon the good and upon the evil, and sends rain upon the just and unjust."(5) And the righteous suffer persecution, are afflicted, and are slain, while sinners are possessed of abundance, and "drink with the sound of the harp and psaltery, but do not regard the works of the Lord."(6) But, according to the language (used by the prophet], they ought to be combined, and the day of retribution to follow the (acceptable] year. For the words are, "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of retribution." This present time, therefore, in which men are called and saved by the Lord, is properly understood to be denoted by "the acceptable year of the Lord;" and there follows on this "the day of retribution," that is, the judgment. And the time thus referred to is not called "a year" only, but is also named "a day" both by the prophet and by Paul, of whom the apostle, calling to mind the Scripture, says in the Epistle addressed to the Romans, "As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are counted as sheep for the slaughter."(7) But here the expression "all the day long" is put for all this time during which we suffer persecution, and are killed as sheep. As then this day does not signify one which consists of twelve hours, but the whole time during which believers in Christ suffer and are put to death for His sake, so also the year there mentioned does not denote one which consists of twelve months, but the whole time of faith during which men hear and believe the preaching of the Gospel, and those become acceptable to God who unite themselves to Him.
3 But it is greatly to be wondered at, how it has come to pass that, while affirming that they have found out the mysteries of God, they have not examined the Gospels to ascertain how often after His baptism the Lord went up, at the time of the passover, to Jerusalem, in accordance with what was the practice of the Jews from every land, and every year, that they should assemble at this period in Jerusalem, and there celebrate the feast of the passover. First of all, after He had made the water wine at Cana of Galilee, He went up to the festival day of the passover, on which occasion it is written, "For many believed in Him, when they saw the signs which He did,"(8) as John the disciple of the Lord records. Then, again, withdrawing Himself (from Judaea], He is found in Samaria; on which occasion, too, He convened with the Samaritan woman, and while at a distance, cured the son of the centurion by a word, saying, "Go thy way, thy son liveth."(1) Afterwards He went up, the second time, to observe the festival day of the passover(2) in Jerusalem; on which occasion He cured the paralytic man, who had lain beside the pool thirty-eight years, bidding him rise, take up his couch, and depart. Again, withdrawing from thence to the other side of the sea of Tiberias,(3) He there seeing a great crowd had followed Him, fed all that multitude with five loaves of bread, and twelve baskets of fragments remained over and above. Then, when He had raised Lazarus from the dead, and plots were formed against Him by the Pharisees, He withdrew to a city called Ephraim; and from that place, as it is written "He came to Bethany six days before the passover,"(4) and going up from Bethany to Jerusalem, He there ate the passover, and suffered on the day following. Now, that these three occasions of the passover are not included within one year, every person whatever must acknowledge. And that the special month in which the passover was celebrated, and in which also the Lord suffered, was not the twelfth, but the first, those men who boast that they know all things, if they know not this, may learn it from Moses. Their explanation, therefore, both of the year and of the twelfth month has been proved false, and they ought to reject either their explanation or the Gospel; otherwise (this unanswerable question forces itself upon them], How is it possible that the Lord preached for one year only?
4 Being thirty years old when He came to be baptized, and then possessing the full age of a Master,(5) He came to Jerusalem, so that He might be properly acknowledged(6) by all as a Master. For He did not seem one thing while He was another, as those affirm who describe Him as being man only in appearance; but what He was, that He also appeared to be. Being a Master, therefore, He also possessed the age of a Master, not despising or evading any condition of humanity, nor setting aside in Himself that law which He had(7) appointed for the human race, but sanctifying every age, by that period corresponding to it which belonged to Himself. For He came to save all through means of Himself--all, I say, who through Him are born again to God(8)--infants,(9) and children, and boys, and youths, and old men. He therefore passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, thus sanctifying infants; a child for children, thus sanctifying those who are of this age, being at the same time made to them an example of piety, righteousness, and submission; a youth for youths, becoming an example to youths, and thus sanctifying them for the Lord. So likewise He was an old man for old men, that He might be a perfect Master for all, not merely as respects the setting forth of the truth, but also as regards age, sanctifying at the same time the aged also, and becoming an example to them likewise. Then, at last, He came on to death itself, that He might be "the first-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence,"(10) the Prince of life,(11) existing before all, and going before all.(12)
5 They, however, that they may establish their false opinion regarding that which is written, "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord," maintain that He preached for one year only, and then suffered in the twelfth month. (In speaking thus], they are forgetful to their own disadvantage, destroying His whole work, and robbing Him of that age which is both more necessary and more honourable than any other; that more advanced age, I mean, during which also as a teacher He excelled all others. For how could He have had disciples, if He did not teach? And how could He have taught, unless He had reached the age of a Master? For when He came to be baptized, He had not yet completed His thirtieth year, but was beginning to be about thirty years of age (for thus Luke, who has mentioned His years, has expressed it: "Now Jesus was, as it were, beginning to be thirty years old,"(13) when He came to receive baptism); and, (according to these men,] He preached only one year reckoning from His baptism. On completing His thirtieth year He suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age. Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years,(1) and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord, (affirming] that John conveyed to them that information.(2) And he remained among them up to the times of Trajan. (3) Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the (validity of] the statement. Whom then should we rather believe? Whether such men as these, or Ptolemaeus, who never saw the apostles, and who never even in his dreams attained to the slightest trace of an apostle?
6 But, besides this, those very Jews who then disputed with the Lord Jesus Christ have most clearly indicated the same thing. For when the Lord said to them, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad," they answered Him, "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?"(4) Now, such language is fittingly applied to one who has already passed the age of forty, without having as yet reached his fiftieth year, yet is not far from this latter period. But to one who is only thirty years old it would unquestionably be said, "Thou art not yet forty years old." For those who wished to convict Him of falsehood would certainly not extend the number of His years far beyond the age which they saw He had attained; but they mentioned a period near His real age, whether they had truly ascertained this out of the entry in the public register, or simply made a conjecture from what they observed that He was above forty years old, and that He certainly was not one of only thirty years of age. For it is altogether unreasonable to suppose that they were mistaken by twenty years, when they wished to prove Him younger than the times of Abraham. For what they saw, that they also expressed; and He whom they beheld was not a mere phantasm, but an actual being(5) of flesh and blood. He did not then wont much of being fifty years old;(6) and, in accordance with that fact, they said to Him, "Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?" He did not therefore preach only for one year, nor did He suffer in the twelfth month of the year. For the period included between the thirtieth and the fiftieth year can never be regarded as one year, unless indeed, among their AEons, there be so long years assigned to those who sit in their ranks with Bythus in the Pleroma; of which beings Homer the poet, too, has spoken, doubtless being inspired by the Mother of their (system of] error:--
which we may thus render into English:(8)--
"The gods sat round, while Jove presided o'er, And converse held upon the golden floor."
1 Moreover, their ignorance comes out in a clear light with respect to the case of that woman who, suffering from an issue of blood, touched the hem of the Lord's garment, and so was made whole; for they maintain that through her was shown forth that twelfth power who suffered passion, and flowed out towards immensity, that is, the twelfth AEon. (This ignorance of theirs appears] first, because, as I have shown, according to their own system, that was not the twelfth AEon. But even granting them this point (in the meantime], there being twelve AEons, eleven of these are said to have continued impassible, while the twelfth suffered passion; but the woman, on the other hand, being healed in the twelfth year, it is manifest that she had continued to suffer during eleven years, and was healed in the twelfth. If indeed they were to say that eleven AEons were involved in passion, but the twelfth one was healed, it would then be a plausible thing to say that the woman was a type of these. But since she suffered during eleven years, and (all that time] obtained no cure, but was healed in the twelfth year, in what way can she be a type of the twelfth of the AEons, eleven of whom, (according to hypothesis,] did not suffer at all, but the twelfth alone participated in suffering? For a type and emblem is, no doubt, sometimes diverse from the truth (signified] as to matter and substance; but it ought, as to the general form and features, to maintain a likeness (to what is typified], and in this way to shadow forth by means of things present those which are yet to come.
2 And not only in the case of this woman have the years of her infirmity (which they affirm to fit in with their figment) been mentioned, but, lo! another woman was also healed, after suffering in like manner for eighteen years; concerning whom the Lord said, "And ought not this daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound during eighteen years, to be set free on the Sabbath-day?"(1) If, then, the former was a type of the twelfth Aeon that suffered, the latter should also be a type of the eighteenth Aeon in suffering. But they cannot maintain this; otherwise their primary and original Ogdoad will be included in the number of Aeons who suffered together. Moreover, there was also a certain other person(2) healed by the Lord, after he had suffered for eight-and-thirty years: they ought therefore to affirm that the Aeon who occupies the thirty-eighth place suffered. For if they assert that the things which were done by the Lord were types of what took place in the Pleroma, the type ought to be preserved throughout. But they can neither adapt to their fictitious system the case of her who was cured after eighteen years, nor of him who was cured after thirty-eight years. Now, it is in every way absurd and inconsistent to declare that the Saviour preserved the type in certain cases, while He did not do so in others. The type of the woman, therefore, (with the issue of blood] is shown to have no analogy to their system of Aeons.(3)
1 This very thing, too, still further demonstrates their opinion false, and their fictitious system untenable, that they endeavour to bring forward proofs of it, sometimes through means of numbers and the syllables of names, sometimes also through the letter of syllables, and yet again through those numbers which are, according to the practice followed by the Greeks, contained in (different] letters;--(this, I say,] demonstrates in the clearest manner their overthrow or confusion,(4) as well as the untenable and perverse character of their (professed] knowledge. For, transferring the name Jesus, which belongs to another language, to the numeration of the Greeks, they sometimes call it "Episemon,"(5) as having six letters, and at other times "the Plenitude of the Ogdoads," as containing the number eight hundred and eighty-eight. But His (corresponding] Greek name, which is "Soter," that is, Saviour, because it does not fit in with their system, either with respect to numerical value or as regards its letters, they pass over in silence. Yet surely, if they regard the names of the Lord, as, in accordance with the preconceived purpose of the Father, by means of their numerical value and letters, indicating number in the Pleroma, Soter, as being a Greek name, ought by means of its letters and the numbers (expressed by these], in virtue of its being Greek, to show forth the mystery of the Pleroma. But the case is not so, because it is a word of five letters, and its numerical value is one thousand four hundred and eight.(6) But these things do not in any way correspond with their Pleroma; the account, therefore, which they give of transactions in the Pleroma cannot be true.
2 Moreover, Jesus, which is a word belonging to the proper tongue of the Hebrews, contains, as the learned among them declare, two letters and a half,(7) and signifies that Lord who contains heaven and earth;(8) for Jesus in the ancient Hebrew language means "heaven," while again "earth" is expressed by the words sura usser.(9) The word, therefore, which contains heaven and earth is just Jesus. Their explanation, then, of the Episemon is false, and their numerical calculation is also manifestly overthrown. For, in their own language, Soter is a Greek word of five letters; but, on the other hand, in the Hebrew tongue, Jesus contains only two letters and a half. The total which they reckon up, viz., eight hundred and eighty-eight, therefore falls to the ground. And throughout, the Hebrew letters do not correspond in number with the Greek, although these especially, as being the more ancient and unchanging, ought to uphold the reckoning connected with the names. For these ancient, original, and generally called sacred letters(10) of the Hebrews are ten in number (but they are written by means of fifteen(11)), the last letter being joined to the first. And thus they write some of these letters according to their natural sequence, just as we do, but others in a reverse direction, from the right hand towards the left, thus tracing the letters backwards. The name Christ, too, ought to be capable of being reckoned up in harmony with the Aeons of their Pleroma, inasmuch as, according to their statements, He was produced for the establishment and rectification of their Pleroma. The Father, too, in the same way, ought, both by means of letters and numerical value, to contain the number of those Aeons who were produced by Him; Bythus, in like manner, and not less Monogenes; but pre-eminently the name which is above all others, by which God is called, and which in the Hebrew tongue is expressed by Baruch,(1) (a word] which also contains two and a half letters. From this fact, therefore, that the more important names, both in the Hebrew and Greek languages, do not conform to their system, either as respects the number of letters or the reckoning brought out of them, the forced character of their calculations respecting the rest becomes clearly manifest.
3 For, choosing out of the law whatever things agree with the number adopted in their system, they thus violently strive to obtain proofs of its validity. But if it was really the purpose of their Mother, or the Saviour, to set forth, by means of the Demiurge, types of those things which are in the Pleroma, they should have taken care that the types were found in things more exactly correspondent and more holy; and, above all, in the case of the Ark of the Covenant, on account of which the whole tabernacle of witness was formed. Now it was constructed thus: its length(2) was two cubits and a half, its breadth one cubit and a half, its height one cubit and a half; but such a number of cubits in no respect corresponds with their system, yet by it the type ought to have been, beyond everything else, clearly set forth. The mercy-seat(3) also does in like manner not at all harmonize with their expositions. Moreover, the table of shew-bread(4) was two cubits in length, while its height was a cubit and a half. These stood before the holy of holies, and yet in them not a single number is of such an amount as contains an indication of the Tetrad, or the Ogdoad, or of the rest of their Pleroma. What of the candlestick,(5) too, which had seven(6) branches and seven lamps? while, if these had been made according to the type, it ought to have had eight branches and a like number of lamps, after the type of the primary Ogdoad, which shines pre-eminently among the Aeons, and illuminates the whole Pleroma. They have carefully enumerated the curtains(7) as being ten, declaring these a type of the ten Aeons; but they have forgotten to count the coverings of skin, which were eleven(8) in number. Nor, again, have they measured the size of these very curtains, each curtain(9) being eight-and-twenty cubits in length. And they set forth the length of the pillars as being ten cubits, with a reference to the Decad of Aeons. "But the breadth of each pillar was a cubit and a half;"(10) and this they do not explain, any more than they do the entire number of the pillars or of their bars, because that does not suit the argument. But what of the anointing oil,(11) which sanctified the whole tabernacle? Perhaps it escaped the notice of the Saviour, or, while their Mother was sleeping, the Demiurge of himself gave instructions as to its weight; and on this account it is out of harmony with their Pleroma, consisting,(12) as it did, of five hundred shekels of myrrh, five hundred of cassia, two hundred and fifty of cinnamon, two hundred and fifty of calamus, and oil in addition, so that it was composed of five ingredients. The incense(13) also, in like manner, (was compounded] of stacte, onycha, galbanum, mint, and frankincense, all which do in no respect, either as to their mixture or weight, harmonize with their argument. It is therefore unreasonable and altogether absurd (to maintain] that the types were not preserved in the sublime and more imposing enactments of the law; but in other points, when any number coincides with their assertions, to affirm that it was a type of the things in the Pleroma; while (the truth is, that] every number occurs with the utmost variety in the Scriptures, so that, should any one desire it, he might form not only an Ogdoad, and a Decad, and a Duodecad, but any sort of number from the Scriptures, and then maintain that this was a type of the system of error devised by himself.
4 But that this point is true, that that number which is called five, which agrees in no respect with their argument, and does not harmonize with their system, nor is suitable for a typical manifestation of the things in the Pleroma, (yet has a wide prevalence,(14)] will be proved as follows from the Scriptures. Soter is a name of five letters; Pater, too, contains five letters; Agape (love), too, consists of five letters; and our Lord, after(1) blessing the five loaves, fed with them five thousand men. Five virgins(2) were called wise by the Lord; and, in like manner, five were styled foolish. Again, five men are said to have been with the Lord when He obtained testimony(3) from the Father,--namely, Peter, and James, and John, and Moses, and Elias. The Lord also, as the fifth person, entered into the apartment of the dead maiden, and raised her up again; for, says (the Scripture], "He suffered no man to go in, save Peter and James,(4) and the father and mother of the maiden."(5) The rich man in hell(6) declared that he had five brothers, to whom he desired that one rising from the dead should go. The pool from which the Lord commanded the paralytic man to go into his house, had five porches. The very form of the cross, too, has five extremities,(7) two in length, two in breadth, and one in the middle, on which (last] the person rests who is fixed by the nails. Each of our hands has five fingers; we have also five senses; our internal organs may also be reckoned as five, viz., the heart, the liver, the lungs, the spleen, and the kidneys. Moreover, even the whole person may be divided into this number (of parts],--the head, the breast, the belly, the thighs, and the feet. The human race passes through five ages first infancy, then boyhood, then youth, then maturity,(8) and then old age. Moses delivered the law to the people in five books. Each table which he received from God contained five(9) commandments. The veil covering(10) the holy of holies had five pillars. The altar of burnt-offering also was five cubits in breadth.(11) Five priests were chosen in the wilderness,--namely, Aaron,(12) Nadab, Abiud, Eleazar, Ithamar. The ephod and the breastplate, and other sacerdotal vestments, were formed out of five(13) materials; for they combined in themselves gold, and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. And there were five(14) kings of the Amorites, whom Joshua the son of Nun shut up in a cave, and directed the people to trample upon their heads. Any one, in fact, might collect many thousand other things of the same kind, both with respect to this number and any other he chose to fix upon, either from the Scriptures, or from the works of nature lying under his observation.(15) But although such is the case, we do not therefore affirm that there are five Aeons above the Demiurge; nor do we consecrate the Peptad, as if it were some divine thing; nor do we strive to establish things that are untenable, nor ravings (such as they indulge in], by means of that vain kind of labour; nor do we perversely force a creation well adapted by God (for the ends intended to be served], to change itself into types of things which have no real existence; nor do we seek to bring forward impious and abominable doctrines, the detection and overthrow of which are easy to all possessed of intelligence.
5 For who can concede to them that the year has three hundred and sixty-five days only, in order that there may be twelve months of thirty days each, after the type of the twelve Aeons, when the type is in fact altogether out of harmony (with the antitype]? For, in the one case, each of the Aeons is a thirtieth part of the entire Pleroma, while in the other they declare that a month is the twelfth part of a year. If, indeed, the year were divided into thirty parts, and the month into twelve, then a fitting type might be regarded as having been found for their fictitious system. But, on the contrary, as the case really stands, their Pleroma is divided into thirty parts, and a portion of it into twelve; while again the whole year is divided into twelve parts, and a certain portion of it into thirty. The Saviour therefore acted unwisely in constituting the month a type of the entire Pleroma, but the year a type only of that Duodecad which exists in the Pleroma; for it was more fitting to divide the year into thirty parts, even as the whole Pleroma is divided, but the month into twelve, just as the Aeons are in their Pleroma. Moreover, they divide the entire Pleroma into three portions,--namely, into an Ogdoad, a Decad, and a Duodecad. But our year is divided into four parts,--namely, spring, summer, autumn, and winter. And again, not even do the months, which they maintain to be a type of the Triacontad, consist precisely of thirty days, but some have more and some less, inasmuch as five days remain to them as an overplus.(16) The day, too, does not always consist precisely of twelve hours, but rises from nine(17) to fifteen, and then falls again from fifteen to nine. It cannot therefore be held that months of thirty days each were so formed for the sake of (typifying] the Aeons; for, in that case, they would have consisted precisely of thirty days: nor, again, the days of these months, that by means of twelve hours they might symbolize the twelve Aeons; for, in that case, they would always have consisted precisely of twelve hours.
6 But further, as to their calling material substances "on the left hand," and maintaining that those things which are thus on the left hand of necessity fall into corruption, while they also affirm that the Saviour came to the lost sheep, in order to transfer it to the right hand, that is, to the ninety and nine sheep which were in safety, and perished not, but continued within the fold, yet were of the left hand,(1) it follows that they must acknowledge that the enjoyment(2) of rest did not imply salvation. And that which has not in like manner the same number, they will be compelled to acknowledge as belonging to the left hand, that is, to corruption. This Greek word Agape (love), then, according to the letters of the Greeks, by means of which reckoning is carried on among them, having a numerical value of ninety-three,(3) is in like manner assigned to the place of rest on the left hand. Aletheia (truth), too, having in like manner, according to the principle indicated above, a numerical value of sixty-four,(4) exists among material substances. And thus, in fine, they will be compelled to acknowledge that all those sacred names which do not reach a numerical value of one hundred, but only contain the numbers summed by the left hand, are corruptible and material.
Irenaeus, ag. Heresies Liv.2 ch.20