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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Translated by Frederick Crombie.

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The Original Greek New Testament

128 Pages

Page 6

The term asomaton, i.e., incorporeal, is disused and unknown, not only in many other writings, but also in our own Scriptures. And if any one should quote it to us out of the little treatise entitled The Doctrine of Peter, [1928] in which the Saviour seems to say to His disciples, "I am not an incorporeal demon," [1929] I have to reply, in the first place, that that work is not included among ecclesiastical books; for we can show that it was not composed either by Peter or by any other person inspired by the Spirit of God. But even if the point were to be conceded, the word asomaton there does not convey the same meaning as is intended by Greek and Gentile authors when incorporeal nature is discussed by philosophers. For in the little treatise referred to he used the phrase "incorporeal demon" to denote that that form or outline of demoniacal body, whatever it is, does not resemble this gross and visible body of ours; but, agreeably to the intention of the author of the treatise, it must be understood to mean that He had not such a body as demons have, which is naturally fine, [1930] and thin as if formed of air (and for this reason is either considered or called by many incorporeal), but that He had a solid and palpable body. Now, according to human custom, everything which is not of that nature is called by the simple or ignorant incorporeal; as if one were to say that the air which we breathe was incorporeal, because it is not a body of such a nature as can be grasped and held, or can offer resistance to pressure.

[1928] Eusebius (Hist. Eccles., iii. c. 36), treating of Ignatius, quotes from his Epistle to the Church of Smyrna as follows: "Writing to the Smyrnaeans, he (Ignatius) has employed words respecting Jesus, I know not whence they are taken, to the following effect: 'But I know and believe that He was seen after the resurrection; and when He came to Peter and his companions, He said to them, Take and handle Me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit.'" Jerome, in his catalogue of ecclesiastical writers, says the words are a quotation from the Gospel of the Nazarenes, a work which he had recently translated. Origen here quotes them, however, from The Doctrine of Peter, on which Ruaeus remarks that the words might be contained in both of these apocryphal works.

[1929] Daemonium.

[1930] Subtile.

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