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Philo : GENESIS

from Philo's Commentary on the Hexaemeron, * 7-25, translated by Ch. D. Yonge.
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OR SOME men, admiring the world itself rather than the Creator of the world, have represented it as existing without any maker, and eternal; and as impiously as falsely have represented God as existing in a state of complete inactivity, while it would have been right on the other hand to marvel at the might of God as the creator and father of all, and to admire the world in a degree not exceeding the bounds of moderation. (8) But Moses, who had early reached the very summits of philosophy, {1}{this is in accordance with the description of him in the Bible, where he is represented as being learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.} and who had learnt from the oracles of God the most numerous and important of the principles of nature, was well aware that it is indispensable that in all existing things there must be an active cause, and a passive subject; and that the active cause is the intellect of the universe, thoroughly unadulterated and thoroughly unmixed, superior to virtue and superior to science, superior even to abstract good or abstract beauty; (9) while the passive subject is something inanimate and incapable of motion by any intrinsic power of its own, but having been set in motion, and fashioned, and endowed with life by the intellect, became transformed into that most perfect work, this world. And those who describe it as being uncreated, do, without being aware of it, cut off the most useful and necessary of all the qualities which tend to produce piety, namely, providence: (10) for reason proves that the father and creator has a care for that which has been created; for a father is anxious for the life of his children, and a workman aims at the duration of his works, and employs every device imaginable to ward off everything that is pernicious or injurious, and is desirous by every means in his power to provide everything which is useful or profitable for them. But with regard to that which has not been created, there is no feeling of interest as if it were his own in the breast of him who has not created it. (11) It is then a pernicious doctrine, and one for which no one should contend, to establish a system in this world, such as anarchy is in a city, so that it should have no superintendant, or regulator, or judge, by whom everything must be managed and governed. (12) But the great Moses, thinking that a thing which has not been uncreated is as alien as possible from that which is visible before our eyes (for everything which is the subject of our senses exists in birth and in changes, and is not always in the same condition), has attributed eternity to that which is invisible and discerned only by our intellect as a kinsman and a brother, while of that which is the object of our external senses he had predicated generation as an appropriate description. Since, then, this world is visible and the object of our external senses, it follows of necessity that it must have been created; on which account it was not without a wise purpose that he recorded its creation, giving a very venerable account of God.

Γένεσις

Τινὲς γὰρ τὸν κόσμον μᾶλλον ἢ τὸν κοσμοποιὸν θαυμάσαντες τὸν μὲν ἀγένητόν τε καὶ ἀίδιον ἀπεφήναντο, τοῦ δὲ θεοῦ πολλὴν ἀπραξίαν ἀνάγνως κατεψεύσαντο, δέον ἔμπαλιν τοῦ μὲν τὰς δυνάμεις ὡς ποιητοῦ καὶ πατρὸς καταπλαγῆναι, τὸν δὲ μὴ πλέον ἀποσεμνῦναι τοῦ μετρίου. Μωυσῆς δὲ καὶ φιλοσοφίας ἐπ’ αὐτὴν φθάσας ἀκρότητα καὶ χρησμοῖς τὰ πολλὰ καὶ συνεκτικώτατα τῶν τῆς φύσεως ἀναδιδαχθεὶς ἔγνω δή, ὅτι ἀναγκαιότατόν ἐστιν ἐν τοῖς οὖσι τὸ μὲν εἶναι δραστήριον αἴτιον, τὸ δὲ παθητόν, καὶ ὅτι τὸ μὲν δραστήριον ὁ τῶν ὅλων νοῦς ἐστιν εἱλικρινέστατος καὶ ἀκραιφνέστατος, κρείττων ἢ ἀρετὴ καὶ κρείττων ἢ ἐπιστήμη καὶ κρείττων ἢ αὐτὸ τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ αὐτὸ τὸ καλόν, τὸ δὲ παθητὸν ἄψυχον καὶ ἀκίνητον ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ, κινηθὲν δὲ καὶ σχηματισθὲν καὶ ψυχωθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ νοῦ μετέβαλεν εἰς τὸ τελειότατον ἔργον, τόνδε τὸν κόσμον· ὃν οἱ φάσκοντες ὡς ἔστιν ἀγένητος λελήθασι τὸ ὠφελιμώτατον καὶ ἀναγκαιότατον τῶν εἰς εὐσέβειαν ὑποτεμνόμενοι τὴν πρόνοιαν. τοῦ μὲν γὰρ γεγονότος ἐπιμελεῖσθαι τὸν πατέρα καὶ ποιητὴν αἱρεῖ λόγος· καὶ γὰρ πατὴρ ἐκγόνων καὶ δημιουργὸς τῶν δημιουργηθέντων στοχάζεται τῆς διαμονῆς καὶ ὅσα μὲν ἐπιζήμια καὶ βλαβερὰ μηχανῇ πάσῃ διωθεῖται, τὰ δὲ ὅσα ὠφέλιμα καὶ λυσιτελῆ κατὰ πάντα τρόπον ἐκπορίζειν ἐπιποθεῖ· πρὸς δὲ τὸ μὴ γεγονὸς οἰκείωσις οὐδεμία τῷ μὴ πεποιηκότι. ἀπεριμάχητον δὲ δόγμα καὶ ἀνωφελὲς ἀναρχίαν ὡς ἐν πόλει κατασκευάζον τῷδε τῷ κόσμῳ τὸν ἔφορον ἢ βραβευτὴν ἢ δικαστὴν οὐκ ἔχοντι, ὑφ’ οὗ πάντ’ οἰκονομεῖσθαι καὶ πρυτανεύεσθαι θέμις. ἀλλ’ ὅ γε μέγας Μωυσῆς ἀλλοτριώτατον τοῦ ὁρατοῦ νομίσας εἶναι τὸ ἀγένητον —πᾶν γὰρ τὸ αἰσθητὸν ἐν γενέσει καὶ μεταβολαῖς οὐδέποτε κατὰ ταὐτὰ ὄν— τῷ μὲν ἀοράτῳ καὶ νοητῷ προσένειμεν ὡς ἀδελφὸν καὶ συγγενὲς ἀιδιότητα, τῷ δ’ αἰσθητῷ γένεσιν οἰκεῖον ὄνομα ἐπεφήμισεν. ἐπεὶ οὖν ὁρατός τε καὶ αἰσθητὸς ὅδε ὁ κόσμος, ἀναγκαίως ἂν εἴη καὶ γενητός· ὅθεν οὐκ ἀπὸ σκοποῦ καὶ τὴν γένεσιν ἀνέγραψεν αὐτοῦ μάλα σεμνῶς θεολογήσας.

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