PHILO of Alexandria

 St, Evagrius Ponticus & Philo Judaeus, miniature,
th cent. Greek codex  of works of St. John Damascene. MS
Parisianus Graecus 923 fol. 78r/

On the Creation,  De opificio mundi ,TLG 18.1, Philonis Alexandrini opera quae supersunt, vol. 1 ed. L. Cohn (Reimer, Berlin, 1896 rpr. De Gruyter, Berlin,1962) pp 1-60.; On the Special Laws, De specialibus legibus (lib. i-iv), TLG  18.24; Phil. Alex. Op, vol. 5, pp. 1-265.; The Life of Moses I, De vita Mosis (lib. i-ii), TLG 18.22, Phil. Alex. Op., vol. 4, pp. 119-268

1. The nous as the image of God;  2. contemplation of the heavenly spheres and their music;
3. sober drunkenness 1 and 2.  4. God unknowable in essence; known through energies
5. 3 Patriarchs; askesis, physics, wisdom

from On the Creation (De opificio mundi)






from ON THE CREATION (de Opificio Mundi)






    23. (69) So then after all the other things, as has been said before, Moses says that man was made in the image [eikon] and likeness [homoiosis] of God. And he says well; for nothing that is born on the earth is more resembling God than man. And let no one think that he is able to judge of this likeness from the characters of the body: for neither is God a being with the form of a man, nor is the human body like the form of God; but the image [eikon] is spoken of with reference to the most important part of the soul, namely, the intellect [nous]:

69 μετὰ δὴ τἆλλα πάντα, καθάπερ ἐλέχθη, τὸν ἄνθρωπόν φησι γεγενῆσθαι κατ' εἰκόνα θεοῦ καὶ καθ' ὁμοίωσιν [Gen. 1, 26]· πάνυ καλῶς, ἐμφερέστερον γὰρ οὐδὲν γηγενὲς ἀνθρώπου θεῷ. τὴν δ' ἐμφέρειαν μηδεὶς εἰκαζέτω σώματος χαρακτῆρι· οὔτε γὰρ ἀνθρωπόμορφος ὁ θεὸς οὔτε θεοειδὲς τὸ ἀνθρώπειον | σῶμα. ἡ δὲ εἰκὼν λέλεκται κατὰ τὸν τῆς ψυχῆς ἡγεμόνα νοῦν·

for the [mind (/nous)] which exists in each individual has been created after the likeness of that one [mind] which is in the universe as its primitive model, being in some sort the God of that body which carries it about and bears [its image] within it.

πρὸς γὰρ ἕνα τὸν τῶν ὅλων ἐκεῖνον ὡς ἂν ἀρχέτυπον ὁ ἐν ἑκάστῳ τῶν κατὰ μέρος ἀπεικονίσθη, τρόπον τινὰ θεὸς ὢν τοῦ φέροντος καὶ ἀγαλματοφοροῦντος αὐτόν·

   In the same rank that the great Governor occupies in the universal world, that same as it seems does the intellect of man occupy in man; for it is invisible, though it sees everything itself; and it has an essence which is undiscernible, though it can discern the essences of all other things, and making for itself by art and science all sorts of roads leading in divers directions, and all plain; it traverses land and sea, investigating everything which is contained in either element. (70)

ὃν γὰρ ἔχει λόγον ὁ μέγας ἡγεμὼν ἐν ἅπαντι τῷ κόσμῳ, τοῦτον ὡς ἔοικε καὶ ὁ ἀνθρώπινος νοῦς ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ· ἀόρατός τε γάρ ἐστιν αὐτὸς τὰ πάντα ὁρῶν καὶ ἄδηλον ἔχει τὴν οὐσίαν τὰς τῶν ἄλλων καταλαμβάνων· καὶ τέχναις καὶ ἐπιστήμαις πολυσχιδεῖς ἀνατέμνων ὁδοὺς λεωφόρους ἁπάσας διὰ γῆς 70 ἔρχεται καὶ θαλάττης τὰ ἐν ἑκατέρᾳ φύσει διερευνώμενος·

      And again, being raised up on wings, and so surveying and contemplating the air, and all the commotions to which it is subject, it is borne upwards to the higher firmament, and to the revolutions of the heavenly bodies. And also being itself involved in the revolutions of the planets and fixed stars according to the perfect laws of music, and being led on by love [eros], which is the guide of wisdom, it proceeds onwards till, having surmounted all essence intelligible by the external senses, it comes to aspire to such as is perceptible only by the intellect:

καὶ πάλιν πτηνὸς ἀρθεὶς καὶ τὸν ἀέρα καὶ τὰ τούτου παθήματα κατασκεψάμενος ἀνωτέρω φέρεται πρὸς αἰθέρα καὶ τὰς οὐρανοῦ περιόδους, πλανήτων τε καὶ ἀπλανῶν χορείαις συμπεριποληθεὶς κατὰ τοὺς μουσικῆς τελείας νόμους, ἑπόμενος ἔρωτι σοφίας ποδηγετοῦντι, πᾶσαν τὴν αἰσθητὴν οὐσίαν    ὑπερκύψας, ἐνταῦθα ἐφίεται τῆς νοητῆς·

(71) and perceiving in that, the original models and ideas of those things intelligible by the external senses which it saw here full of surpassing beauty, it becomes seized with a sort of sober intoxication 2 like the zealots engaged in the Corybantian festivals, and yields to enthusiasm, becoming filled with another desire, and a more excellent longing (pothos), by which it is conducted onwards to the very summit of such things as are perceptible only to the intellect, till it appears to be reaching the great King himself.

71καὶ ὧν εἶδεν ἐνταῦθα αἰσθητῶν ἐν ἐκείνῃ τὰ παραδείγματα καὶ τὰς ἰδέας θεασάμενος, ὑπερβάλλοντα κάλλη, μέθῃ νηφαλίῳ κατασχεθεὶς ὥσπερ οἱ κορυβαντιῶντες ἐνθουσιᾷ, ἑτέρου γεμισθεὶς ἱμέρου καὶ πόθου βελτίονος, ὑφ' οὗ πρὸς τὴν ἄκραν ἁψῖδα παραπεμφθεὶς τῶν νοητῶν ἐπ' αὐτὸν ἰέναι δοκεῖ τὸν μέγαν βασιλέα·

   And while it is eagerly longing to behold him pure and unmingled, rays of divine light are poured forth upon it like a torrent, so as to bewilder the eyes of its intelligence by their splendor.

γλιχομένου δ' ἰδεῖν, ἀθρόου φωτὸς ἄκρατοι καὶ ἀμιγεῖς αὐγαὶ χειμάρρου τρόπον ἐκχέονται, ὡς ταῖς μαρμαρυγαῖς τὸ τῆς διανοίας ὄμμα σκοτοδινιᾶν.

   But as it is not every image that resembles its archetypal model, since many are unlike, Moses has shown this by adding to the words “after his image,” the expression, “in his likeness,” to prove that it means an accurate impression, having a clear and evident resemblance in form.

                ἐπεὶ δ' οὐ σύμπασα εἰκὼν ἐμφερὴς ἀρχετύπῳ παραδείγματι, πολλαὶ δ' εἰσὶν ἀνόμοιοι, προσεπεσημήνατο εἰπὼν τῷ κατ' εἰκόνα τὸ καθ' ὁμίωσιν εἰς ἔμφασιν ἀκριβοῦς ἐκμαγείου τρανὸν τύπον ἔχοντος. 72





from ON DREAMS (de Somnis, I.33-37)
PhiloV. Loeb Cl.Lib. tr Colson & Whitaker (London, 1934) 313-315

P. Wendland, Philonis Alexandrini opera quae supersunt, vol. 3, Berlin: Reimer, 1898 (repr. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1962): 204-306.TLG 0018.009;





33. So in every case it is the fourth of the series that is beyond comprehension. In the universe it is the heaven in contrast with the nature of air and earth and water; in man it is mind over against the body, and sense-preception, and the speech which gives expression to thought. (33) ἀεὶ δὴ τὸ τέταρτον ἀκατάληπτον, οὐρανὸς μὲν ἐν κόσμῳ παρὰ τὴνἀέρος καὶ γῆς καὶ ὕδατος φύσιν, νοῦς δὲ ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ παρὰ σῶμα καὶ αἴσθησιν καὶ τὸν ἑρμηνέα λόγον.
It may well be that it is for this reason that the fourth year is designated in the sacred documents “ holy and for praise a ” (Lev. 19. 24) ; μήποτε μέντοι καὶ τὸ τέταρτον ἔτος„ἅγιον καὶ αἰνετὸν“ ταύτης ἕνεκα τῆς αἰτίας ἐν ταῖς ἱεραῖς ἀναγραφαῖς(34) δηλοῦται (Lev. 19, 24)•
34. for among created things, that which is holy is, in the universe, the heavens, in which natures imperishable and enduring through long ages have their orbits ; in man it is mind, a fragment of the Deity, as the words of Moses in particular bear witness, “ He breathed into his face a breath of life, and man became a living soul ” (Gen. 2. 7). τὸ γὰρ ἐν τοῖς γεγονόσιν ἅγιον οὐρανὸς μέν ἐστιν ἐν κόσμῳ, καθ’ ὃν αἱ ἄφθαρτοι καὶ μακραίωνες φύσεις περιπο λοῦσιν, ἐν ἀνθρώπῳ δὲ νοῦς, ἀπόσπασμα θεῖον ὤν, καὶ μάλιστα κατὰ Μωυσέα λέγοντα• „ἐνεφύσησεν εἰς τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ πνοὴν ζωῆς, καὶ (35) ἐγένετο ὁ ἄνθρωπος εἰς ψυχὴν ζῶσαν“ (Gen. 2, 7).
35. And  each of these appears to me to be correctly spoken of as “ for praise.” For it is in the heaven and in the mind that capacity resides to set forth in solemn strains hymns of praise and blessing in honour of the Father who is the author of our being. For man is the recipient of a privilege which gives him distinction beyond other living creatures, that, namely, of worshipping Him that is ; while the heaven is ever melodious, producing, as the heavenly bodies go through their movements, the full and perfect harmony. καὶ ἑκάτερον δὲ αἰνετὸν οὐκ ἀπὸ σκοποῦ μοι δοκεῖ προσειρῆσθαι• τὰ γὰρ δυνάμενα τοὺς ἐπαίνους καὶ ὕμνους καὶ εὐδαιμονισμοὺς ἐκτραγῳδεῖν τοῦ γεννήσαντος πατρὸς ταῦτ’ ἐστίν, οὐρανός τε καὶ νοῦς. ἄνθρωπος μὲν γὰρ ἐξαιρέτου παρὰ τὰ ἄλλα ζῷα γέρως ἔλαχε, θεραπεύειν τὸ ὄν, ὁ δὲ οὐρανὸς ἀεὶ μελῳδεῖ, κατὰ τὰς κινήσεις τῶν ἐν ἑαυτῷ τὴν πάμμουσον ἁρμονίαν ἀπο τελῶν•
36. If the sound of it ever reached our ears, there would be produced irrepressible yearnings, frantic longings, wild ceaseless passionate desires, compelling to abstain even from necessary food, for no longer [p.315] should we take in nourishment from meat and drink through the throat after the fashion of mortals, but, as beings awaiting immortality, from inspired strains of perfect melody coming to us through our ears.  ἧς εἰ συνέβαινε τὴν ἠχὴν εἰς τὰς ἡμετέρας φθάνειν ἀκοάς,ἔρωτες ἂν ἀκάθεκτοι καὶ λελυττηκότες ἵμεροι καὶ ἄπαυστοι καὶ μανιώδεις | ἐγίνοντο οἶστροι, ὡς καὶ τῶν ἀναγκαίων ἀπέχεσθαι τρεφομένους μηκέθ’ ὡς θνητοὶ σιτίοις καὶ ποτοῖς διὰ φάρυγγος, ἀλλ’ ὡς οἱ μέλλοντες ἀπαθανατίζεσθαι δι’ ὤτων μουσικῆς τελείας ἐνθέοις ᾠδαῖς•
To such strains it is said that Moses was listening, when, having laid aside his body, for forty days and as many nights he touched neither bread nor water at all (Ex. 24. 18). ὧν ἀκροατὴν  Μωυσῆν ἀσώματον γενόμενον λόγος ἔχει τεσσαράκοντα ἡμέρας καὶ τὰς ἴσας νύκτας μήτε ἄρτου μήτε ὕδατος ψαῦσαι τὸ παράπαν (Exod. 24, 18).(37)
37. It seems, then, that the heaven, the original archetype of all musical instruments, was tuned with consummate skill for no other purpose than that the hymns sung in honour of the Universal Father may have a musical accompaniment. ὁ τοίνυν οὐρανός, τὸ μουσικῆς ἀρχέτυπον ὄργανον, ἄκρως ἡρμόσθαι δοκεῖ δι’ οὐδὲν ἕτερον ἢ ἵνα οἱ ἐπὶ τιμῇ τοῦ τῶν ὅλων πατρὸς ᾀδόμενοι ὕμνοι μουσικῶς ἐπιψάλλωνται.

from On the Life of Moses, Book 1






from ON THE LIFE of MOSES (Bk. 1)






   I. 34. (187) And so having appeased their thirst with double pleasure, since the blessing of enjoyment when it comes beyond one’s hopes delights one still more, and having also replenished their ewers, they departed as from a feast, as if they had been entertained at a luxurious banquet, and as if they were intoxicated not with the drunkenness which proceeds from wine, but with a sober 1 joy which they had imbibed purely, while pledging and being pledged by the piety of the ruler who was leading them;

1.187 τὸ δὲ δίψος ἀκεσάμενοι μεθ' ἡδονῆς διπλασίας, ἐπειδὴ τῆς ἀπολαύσεως τὸ παρ' ἐλπίδα συμβεβηκὸς ἀγαθὸν εὐφραίνει μᾶλλον, ἔτι καὶ τὰς ὑδρίας πληρώσαντες ἀνεζεύγνυσαν, ὥσπερ ἀπὸ θοίνης καὶ ἱλαρᾶς εὐωχίας ἑστιαθέντες καὶ μεθύοντες οὐ τὴν ἐν οἴνῳ μέθην ἀλλὰ τὴν νηφάλιον, ἣν ἠκρατίσαντο τὰς προπόσεις λαβόντες παρὰ τῆς εὐσεβείας τοῦ προεστῶτος 1.188 ἄρχοντος.

 (188) and so they arrive at a second halting place, well supplied with water, and well shaded with trees, called Aileem (Exod 15, 27), irrigated with twelve fountains, near which were young and vigorous trunks of palm trees to the number of seventy, a visible indication and token of good to the whole nation, to all who were gifted with a clear-sighted mind.

ἀφικνοῦνται δ' εἰς σταθμὸν δεύτερον, εὔυδρόν τε καὶ εὔδενδρον – Αἰλεὶμ ὠνομάζετο [Exod 15, 27) –, πηγαῖς καταρρεόμενον δώδεκα, παρ' αἷς στελέχη νέα φοινίκων εὐερνέστατα ἦν τὸν ἀριθμὸν ἑβδομήκοντα, τοῖς ὀξὺ τῇ | διανοίᾳ βλέπειν δυναμένοις ἀγαθῶν τῶν 1.189 ἐθνικῶν ἐναργῆ σημεῖα καὶ δείγματα·

 (189) For the nation itself was divided into twelve tribes, each of which, if pious and religious, would be looked upon in the light of a fountain, since piety is continually pouring forth everlasting and unceasing springs of virtuous actions. And the elders and chiefs of the whole nation were seventy in number, being therefore very naturally likened to palm trees which are the most excellent of all trees, being both most beautiful to behold, and bearing the most exquisite fruit, which has also its vitality and power of existence, not buried in the roots like other trees, but situated high up like the heart of a man, and lodged in the centre of its highest branches, by which it is attended and guarded like a queen as it really is, they being spread all round it.

1.189 φυλαί τε γάρ εἰσι τοῦ ἔθνους δώδεκα, ὧν ἑκάστη πηγῆς ἕξει λόγον εὐσεβοῦσα, χορηγούσης εὐσεβείας ἀενάους καὶ ἀνελλιπεῖς καλὰς πράξεις, γενάρχαι δὲ τοῦ σύμπαντος ἔθνους ἑβδομήκοντα γεγόνασι φοίνικι τῷ τῶν δένδρων ἀρίστῳ προσηκόντως παρεικασθέντες, ὃ καὶ ὀφθῆναι καὶ καρπὸν ἐνεγκεῖν ἐστι κάλλιστον, ὅπερ    καὶ τὴν ζωτικὴν ἔχει δύναμιν οὐκ ἐν ῥίζαις ὥσπερ τὰ ἄλλα κατορωρυγμένην ἀλλ' ἀνώφοιτον, καρδίας τρόπον ἐν τῷ μεσαιτάτῳ τῶν ἀκρεμόνων 1.190 ἱδρυμένην, ὑφ' ὧν οἷα ἡγεμονὶς ὄντως ἐν κύκλῳ δορυφορεῖται. τοιαύτην δ' ἔχει φύσιν

 (190) And the mind too of those persons who have tasted of holiness has a similar nature; for it has learned to look upwards and to soar on high, and is continually keeping its eye fixed on sublime objects, and investigating divine things, and ridiculing, and scorning all earthly beauty, thinking the last only toys, and divine things the only real and proper objects worthy of its attention.

καὶ ἡ διάνοια τῶν γευσαμένων ὁσιότητος· ἄνω γὰρ μεμάθηκε βλέπειν τε καὶ φοιτᾶν καὶ μετεωροπολοῦσα ἀεὶ καὶ τὰ θεῖα διερευνωμένη κάλλη χλεύην τίθεται τὰ ἐπίγεια, ταῦτα μὲν παιδιάν, ἐκεῖνα δὲ σπουδὴν ὡς ἀληθῶς νομίζουσα.













On Self-Knowledge and Contemplation of the Divine


   (34) […] He, therefore, who comes into that which is truly the greatest of cities, namely, this world, and who beholds all the land, both the mountain and the champaign district full of animals, and plants, and the streams of rivers, both overflowing and depending on the wintry floods, and the steady flow of the sea, and the admirable temperature of the air, and the varieties and regular revolutions of the seasons of the year;

τὸν οὖν ἀφικόμενον εἰς τὴν ὡς ἀληθῶς μεγαλόπολιν, τόνδε τὸν κόσμον, καὶ θεασάμενον τὴν ὀρεινὴν καὶ πεδιάδα βρίθουσαν ζῴων καὶ φυτῶν καὶ ποταμῶν αὐθιγενῶν καὶ χειμάρρων φορὰς καὶ πελαγῶν ἀναχύσεις καὶ εὐκρασίας ἀέρος καὶ τῶν ἐτησίων ὡρῶν τροπάς,

and then too the sun and moon, the rulers of day and night, and the revolutions and regular motions of all the other planets and fixed stars, and of the whole heaven;

εἶτα ἥλιον καὶ σελήνην, τοὺς ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτὸς ἡγεμόνας, καὶ τὰς τῶν ἄλλων πλανήτων τε καὶ ἀπλανῶν καὶ τοῦ σύμπαντος οὐρανοῦ περιπολήσεις καὶ χορείας,

would he not naturally, or I should rather say, of necessity, conceive a notion of the Father, and creator, and governor of all this system; (35) for there is no artificial work whatever which exists of its own accord? And the world is the most artificial and skilfully made of all works, as if it had been put together by someone who was altogether accomplished and most perfect in knowledge.

οὐκ εἰκότως, μᾶλλον δὲ ἀναγκαίως, ἔννοιαν λήψεσθαι δεῖ τοῦ 1.35 ποιητοῦ καὶ πατρὸς καὶ προσέτι ἡγεμόνος; οὐδὲν γὰρ τῶν τεχνικῶν ἔργων ἀπαυτοματίζεται· τεχνικώτατον δὲ καὶ ἐπιστημονικώτατον ὅδε ὁ κόσμος, ὡς ὑπό τινος τὴν ἐπιστήμην ἀγαθοῦ καὶ τελειοτάτου πάντως δεδημιουργῆσθαι.

It is in this way that we have received an idea of the existence of God.

τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον ἔννοιαν ἐλάβομεν ὑπάρξεως θεοῦ.

   7. (36) Again, even if it is very difficult to ascertain and very hard properly to comprehend, we must still, as far as it is possible, investigate the nature of his essence; for there is no employment more excellent than that of searching out the nature of the true God, even though the discovery may transcend all human ability, since the very desire and endeavour to comprehend it is able by itself to furnish indescribable pleasures and delights.

1.36 Τὴν δ' οὐσίαν, εἰ καὶ δυσθήρατον καὶ δυσκατάληπτον εἶναι συμβέβηκεν, ὅμως καθ' ὅσον ἐνδέχεται διερευνητέον. ἄμεινον γὰρ οὐδὲν τοῦ ζητεῖν τὸν ἀληθῆ θεόν, κἂν ἡ εὕρεσις αὐτοῦ διαφεύγῃ δύναμιν ἀνθρωπίνην, ἐπειδὴ καὶ ἡ περὶ τὸ βούλεσθαι μαθεῖν σπουδὴ καθ' αὑτὴν 1.37 ἀλέκτους ἡδονὰς καὶ εὐφροσύνας ἐργάζεται.
(37) And the witnesses of this fact are those who have not merely tasted philosophy with their outermost lips, but who have abundantly feasted on its reasonings and its doctrines; for the reasoning of these men, being raised on high far above the earth, roams in the air, and soaring aloft with the sun, and moon, and all the firmament of heaven, being eager to behold all the things that exist therein, finds its power of vision somewhat indistinct from a vast quantity of unalloyed light being poured over it, so that the eye of his soul becomes dazzled and confused by the splendour. μάρτυρες δὲ οἱ μὴ χείλεσιν    ἄκροις γευσάμενοι φιλοσοφίας, ἀλλὰ τῶν λόγων καὶ δογμάτων αὐτῆς ἐπὶ πλέον ἑστιαθέντες· τούτων γὰρ ὁ λογισμὸς ἀπὸ γῆς ἄνω μετέωρος ἀρθεὶς αἰθεροβατεῖ καὶ συμπεριπολῶν ἡλίῳ καὶ σελήνῃ καὶ τῷ σύμπαντι οὐρανῷ, τἀκεῖ πάντα γλιχόμενος ἰδεῖν, ἀμυδροτέραις χρῆται ταῖς προσβολαῖς, ἀκράτου καὶ πολλοῦ φέγγους ἐκχεομένου, ὡς τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς ὄμμα 1.38 ταῖς μαρμαρυγαῖς σκοτοδινιᾶν.

   (38) But he does not on that account faint and renounce the task which he has undertaken, but goes on with invincible determination towards the sight which he considers attainable, as if he were a competitor at the games, and were striving for the second prize, though he has missed the first. And guess and conjecture are inferior to true perception, as are all those notions which are classed under the description of reasonable and plausible opinions.

ἀλλ' οὐ διὰ τοῦτο προκαμὼν ἀπαγορεύει, γνώμῃ δ' ἀηττήτῳ πρὸς τὴν ἐνδεχομένην θέαν ἵεται, καθάπερ ἐν ἄθλοις δευτερείων μεταποιούμενος, ἐπειδὴ τῶν πρώτων ἐσφάλη. φαντασίας δ' ἀληθοῦς δεύτερά ἐστιν εἰκασία καὶ στοχασμὸς καὶ ὅσα εἰς τὴν τῶν1.39 εὐλόγων καὶ πιθανῶν ἰδέαν ἀνάγεται.

(39) Though, therefore, we do not know and cannot accurately ascertain what each of the stars is as to its pure and real essence, still we are eager to investigate the subject, delighting in probable reasonings, because of the fondness for learning which is implanted in our nature. (40) And so in the same way, though we cannot attain to a distinct conception of the truly living God, we still ought not to renounce the task of investigating his character, because even if we fail to make the discovery, the very search itself is intrinsically useful and an object of deserved ambition; since no one ever blames the eyes of the body because they are unable to look upon the sun itself, and therefore shrink from the brilliancy which is poured upon them from its beams, and therefore look down upon the earth, shrinking from the extreme brilliancy of the rays of the sun.

καθάπερ οὖν οἷός ἐστι τῶν ἀστέρων ἕκαστος κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν εἱλικρινῶς οὔτ' εἰδότες οὔτε δυνάμενοι σαφῶς διαγνῶναι ζητεῖν ὅμως προθυμούμεθα, τερπόμενοι τοῖς εἰκόσι 1.40 λόγοις ἕνεκα τοῦ φύσει φιλομαθοῦς, τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον, εἰ καὶ τῆς κατὰ τὸν ὄντως ὄντα θεὸν ἐναργοῦς φαντασίας ἀμοιροῦμεν, ὀφείλομεν μὴ ἀπολείπεσθαι τῆς ζητήσεως αὐτοῦ, διὰ τὸ τὴν σκέψιν καὶ ἄνευ τῆς εὑρέσεως καθ' αὑτὴν τριπόθητον εἶναι, ἐπεὶ καὶ τοὺς τοῦ | σώματος ὀφθαλμοὺς οὐδεὶς αἰτιᾶται, παρόσον ἥλιον αὐτὸν ἰδεῖν ἀδυνατοῦντες τὴν φερομένην ἀπόρροιαν τῶν ἀκτίνων ἐπὶ γῆν ὁρῶσιν, ἡλιακῶν αὐγῶν ἔσχατον1.41 φέγγος.

   8. (41) Which that interpreter of the divine word, Moses, the man most beloved by God, having a regard to, besought God and said, “Show me thyself”—all but urging him, and crying out in loud and distinct words—“that thou hast a real being and existence the whole world is my teacher, assuring me of the fact and instructing me as a son might of the existence of his father, or the work of the existence of the workman. But, though I am very desirous to know what thou art as to thy essence, I can find no one who is able to explain to me anything relating to this branch of learning in any part of the universe whatever. (42) On which account, I beg and entreat of thee to receive the supplication of a man who is thy suppliant and devoted to God’s service, and desirous to serve thee alone; for as the light is not known by the agency of anything else, but is itself its own manifestation, so also thou must alone be able to manifest thyself. For which reason I hope to receive pardon, if, from want of any one to teach me, I am so bold as to flee to thee, desiring to receive instruction from thyself.”

εἰς ἅπερ ἀπιδὼν ὁ ἱεροφάντης καὶ θεοφιλέστατος Μωυσῆς ἱκετεύει τὸν θεὸν λέγων· "ἐμφάνισόν μοι σαυτόν" [Exod. 33, 13], μόνον οὐ κατασχεθεὶς καὶ ἐκβοῶν ἄντικρυς, ὅτι "τοῦ μὲν εἶναί σε καὶ ὑπάρχειν διδάσκαλος καὶ ὑφηγητής μοι γέγονεν ὅδε ὁ κόσμος, καὶ ὡς υἱὸς ἀναδιδάξας με περὶ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ ὡς ἔργον περὶ τοῦ τεχνίτου·    τίς δὲ κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν τυγχάνεις ὢν διαγνῶναι ποθῶν οὐδένα τούτου τοῦ 1.42 μαθήματος ὑφηγητὴν ἐν οὐδενὶ τῶν τοῦ παντὸς μερῶν ἀνευρίσκω. διὸ δὴ δέομαι καὶ ποτνιῶμαι προσέσθαι τὴν ἱκεσίαν ἀνδρὸς ἱκέτου καὶ φιλοθέου καὶ μόνον σὲ θεραπεύειν ἀξιοῦντος· ὡς γὰρ τὸ φῶς ὑφ' ἑτέρου μὴ γνωριζόμενον αὐτὸ ἑαυτοῦ γνώρισμά ἐστιν, οὕτως καὶ σὺ σεαυτὸν μόνος ἂν φῆναι δύναιο. διὸ συγγνώμης ἀξιῶ τυχεῖν, εἰ σπάνει τοῦ 1.43 διδάξοντος ἐπὶ σὲ καταφυγεῖν ἐθάρρησα περὶ σοῦ σπεύδων μαθεῖν".

(43) But God replied, “I receive, indeed, your eagerness, inasmuch as it is praiseworthy; but the request which you make is not fitting to be granted to any created being. And I only bestow such gifts as are appropriate to him who receives them; for it is not possible for a man to receive all that it is easy for me to give. On which account I give to him who is deserving of my favour all the gifts which he is able to receive. (44) But not only is the nature of mankind, but even the whole heaven and the whole world is unable to attain to an adequate comprehension of me. So KNOW YOURSELF, and be not carried away with impulses and desires beyond your power; and let not a desire of unattainable objects carry you away and keep you in suspense. For you shall not lack anything which may be possessed by you.”

ὁ δὲ "τὴν μὲν προθυμίαν" φησίν "ἐπαινετὴν οὖσαν ἀποδέχομαι, τὸ δ' αἴτημα οὐδενὶ τῶν εἰς γένεσιν ἡκόντων ἐφαρμόζει. χαρίζομαι δ' ἐγὼ τὰ οἰκεῖα τῷ ληψομένῳ· οὐ γὰρ ὅσα μοι δοῦναι ῥᾴδιον καὶ ἀνθρώπῳ λαβεῖν δυνατόν· ὅθεν ὀρέγω τῷ χάριτος ἀξίῳ πάσας ὅσας ἂν οἷός τε 1.44 ᾖ δέξασθαι δωρεάς. τὴν δ' ἐμὴν κατάληψιν οὐχ οἷον ἀνθρώπου φύσις ἀλλ' οὐδ' ὁ σύμπας οὐρανός τε καὶ κόσμος δυνήσεται χωρῆσαι. γνῶθι δὴ σαυτὸν καὶ μὴ συνεκφέρου ταῖς ὑπὲρ δύναμιν ὁρμαῖς καὶ ἐπιθυμίαις, μηδέ σε τῶν ἀνεφίκτων ἔρως αἰρέτω καὶ μετεωριζέτω· τῶν γὰρ ἐφικτῶν 1.45 οὐδενὸς ἀμοιρήσεις".

   (45) When Moses heard this he betook himself to a second supplication, and said, “I am persuaded by thy explanations that I should not have been able to receive the visible appearance of thy form. But I beseech thee that I may, at all events, behold the glory that is around thee. And I look upon thy glory to be the powers which attend thee as thy guards, the comprehension of which having escaped me up to the present time, worketh in me no slight desire (pothos) of a thorough understanding of it.”

ταῦτα ἀκούσας ἐπὶ δευτέραν ἱκεσίαν ἦλθε καί φησι· "πέπεισμαι μὲν ταῖς σαῖς ὑφηγήσεσιν, ὅτι οὐκ ἂν ἴσχυσα δέξασθαι τὸ τῆς σῆς φαντασίας ἐναργὲς εἶδος. ἱκετεύω δὲ τὴν γοῦν περὶ σὲ δόξαν θεάσασθαι (Exod. 33, 18)· δόξαν δὲ σὴν εἶναι νομίζω τὰς περὶ σὲ δορυφορούσας δυνάμεις, ὧν διαφεύγουσα ἡ κατάληψις ἄχρι τοῦ παρόντος 1.46 οὐ μικρὸν ἐνεργάζεταί μοι πόθον τῆς διαγνώσεως".
     (46) But God replied and said, “The powers which you seek to behold are altogether invisible, and appreciable only by the intellect;(nous) since I myself am invisible and only appreciable by the intellect (nous) . And what I call appreciable only by the intellect are not those which are already comprehended by the mind, but those which, even if they could be so comprehended, are still such that the outward senses could not at all attain to them, but only the very purest intellect. ̈ὁ δὲ ἀμείβεται καί φησιν· "ἃς ἐπιζητεῖς δυνάμεις εἰσὶν ἀόρατοι καὶ νοηταὶ πάντως ἐμοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου καὶ νοητοῦ· λέγω δὲ νοητὰς οὐχὶ τὰς ἤδη ὑπὸ νοῦ κατα-   λαμβανομένας, ἀλλ' ὅτι εἰ καταλαμβάνεσθαι οἷαί τε εἶεν, οὐκ ἂν αἴσθησις 1.47 αὐτὰς ἀλλ' ἀκραιφνέστατος νοῦς καταλαμβάνοι.

(47) And though they [the powers that surround God] are by nature incomprehensible in their essence, still they show a kind of impression or copy of their energy and operation; as seals among you, when any wax or similar kind of material is applied to them, make an innumerable quantity of figures and impressions, without being impaired as to any portion of themselves, but still remaining unaltered and as they were before; so also you must conceive that the powers which are around me invest those things which have no distinctive qualities with such qualities, and those which have no forms with precise forms, and that without having any portion of their own everlasting nature dismembered or weakened.

πεφυκυῖαι δ' ἀκατάληπτοι κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν ὅμως παραφαίνουσιν ἐκμαγεῖόν τι καὶ ἀπεικόνισμα τῆς ἑαυτῶν ἐνεργείας· οἷαι αἱ παρ' ὑμῖν σφραγῖδες–ὅταν <γὰρ> προσενεχθῇ κηρὸς ἤ τις ὁμοιότροπος ὕλη, μυρίους ὅσους τύπους ἐναπομάττονται, μηδὲν ἀκρωτηριασθεῖσαι μέρος, | ἀλλ' ἐν ὁμοίῳ μένουσαι–, τοιαύτας ὑποληπτέον καὶ τὰς περὶ ἐμὲ δυνάμεις περιποιούσας ἀποίοις ποιότητας καὶ μορφὰς ἀμόρφοις καὶ μηδὲν τῆς ἀιδίου φύσεως μήτ' ἀλλαττομένας μήτε 1.48 μειουμένας.
(48) And some of your race, speaking with sufficient correctness, call them ideas (ideas), since they give a peculiar character (eidopoiousi) to every existing thing, arranging what had previously no order, and limiting, and defining, and fashioning what was before destitute of all limitation, and defination, and fashion; and, in short, in all respects changing what was bad into a better condition. ὀνομάζουσι δ' αὐτὰς οὐκ ἀπὸ σκοποῦ τινες τῶν παρ' ὑμῖν ἰδέας, ἐπειδὴ ἕκαστα τῶν ὄντων εἰδοποιοῦσι τὰ ἄτακτα τάττουσαι καὶ τὰ ἄπειρα καὶ ἀόριστα καὶ ἀσχημάτιστα περατοῦσαι καὶ περιορίζουσαι καὶ σχηματίζουσαι καὶ συνόλως τὸ χεῖρον εἰς τὸ ἄμεινον μεθαρμοζόμεναι.

(49) “Do not, then, ever expect to be able to comprehend me nor any one of my powers, ACCORDING TO [our] ESSENCE. But, as I have said, I willingly and cheerfully grant unto you such things as you may receive. And this gift is to call you to the beholding of the world and all the things that are in it, which must be comprehended, not indeed by the eyes of the body, but by the sleepless vision of the mind. [dianoia] (50) The desire of wisdom alone is continual and incessant, and it fills all its pupils and disciples with famous and most beautiful doctrines.”

1.49 μήτ' οὖν ἐμὲ μήτε τινὰ τῶν ἐμῶν δυνάμεων κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν ἐλπίσῃς ποτὲ δυνήσεσθαι καταλαβεῖν. τῶν δ' ἐφικτῶν, ὡς εἶπον, ἑτοίμως καὶ προθύμως μεταδίδωμι· ταῦτα δ' ἐστὶν ἐπὶ τὴν τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ καλέσαι θέαν, ἣν οὐ σώματος ὀφθαλμοῖς ἀλλὰ τοῖς διανοίας ἀκοιμήτοις 1.50 ὄμμασι συμβαίνει καταλαμβάνεσθαι. μόνον ὁ σοφίας ἵμερος συνεχὴς ἔστω καὶ πυκνός, ἣ δογμάτων ἀοιδίμων καὶ περικαλλεστάτων ἀναπίμπλησι τοὺς φοιτητὰς καὶ γνωρίμους αὐτῆς".

            When Moses heard this he did not cease from his desire (epithumia), but he still burned with a longing (pothos) for the understanding of invisible things. [...]

ταῦτα ἀκούσας οὐκ ἐπαύσατο τῆς ἐπιθυμίας, ἀλλ' ἔτι τὸν ἐπὶ τοῖς ἀοράτοις πόθον ἐζωπύρει.

Allegory of the Burning Bush


            12. […] (65) And when Moses was leading his flock into a situation full of good water and good grass, where there was also a great deal of herbage especially suitable for sheep, he came upon a certain grove in a valley, where he saw a most marvellous sight. There was a bush or briar, a very thorny plant, and very weak and supple. This bush was on a sudden set in a blaze without any one applying any fire to it, and being entirely enveloped from the root to the topmost branch by the abundant flame, as though it had proceeded from some fountain showering fire over it, it nevertheless remained whole without being consumed, like some impassible essence, and not as if it were itself the natural fuel for fire, but rather as if it were taking the fire for its own fuel. (66) And in the middle of the flame there was seen a certain very beautiful form, not resembling any visible thing, a most Godlike image, emitting a light more brilliant than fire, which any one might have imagined to be the image of the living God. But let it be called an angel, because it merely related the events which were about to happen in a silence more distinct than any voice by reason of the marvellous sight which was thus exhibited.

1.65 ἄγων δὲ τὴν ποίμνην εἰς τόπον εὔυδρόν τε καὶ εὔχορτον, ἔνθα συνέβαινε καὶ πολλὴν πόαν προβατεύσιμον ἀναδίδοσθαι, γενόμενος πρός τινι νάπει θέαμα ἐκπληκτικώτατον ὁρᾷ. βάτος ἦν, ἀκανθῶδές τι φυτὸν καὶ ἀσθενέστατον· οὗτος, οὐδενὸς πῦρ προσενεγκόντος, ἐξαίφνης ἀνακαίεται καὶ περισχεθεὶς ὅλος ἐκ ῥίζης εἰς ἀκρέμονα πολλῇ φλογὶ καθάπερ ἀπό τινος πηγῆς ἀνομβρούσης διέμενε σῷος, οὐ κατακαιόμενος, οἷά τις ἀπαθὴς οὐσία καὶ οὐχ ὕλη πυρὸς αὐτὸς ὤν, 1.66 ἀλλὰ τροφῇ χρώμενος τῷ πυρί. κατὰ δὲ μέσην τὴν φλόγα μορφή τις ἦν περικαλλεστάτη, τῶν ὁρατῶν ἐμφερὴς οὐδενί, θεοειδέστατον ἄγαλμα, φῶς αὐγοειδέστερον τοῦ πυρὸς ἀπαστράπτουσα, ἣν ἄν τις ὑπετόπησεν εἰκόνα τοῦ ὄντος εἶναι· καλείσθω δὲ ἄγγελος, ὅτι σχεδὸν τὰ μέλλοντα γενήσεσθαι διήγγελλε τρανοτέρᾳ φωνῆς ἡσυχίᾳ διὰ τῆς μεγαλουργηθείσης 1.67 ὄψεως.      

(67) For the burning bush was a symbol of the oppressed people, and the burning fire was a symbol of the oppressors; and the circumstance of the burning bush not being consumed was an emblem of the fact that the people thus oppressed would not be destroyed by those who were attacking them, but that their hostility would be unsuccessful and fruitless to the one party, and the fact of their being plotted against would fail to be injurious to the others. The angel, again, was the emblem of the providence of God, who mitigates circumstances which appear very formidable, so as to produce from them great tranquillity beyond the hopes or expectation of any one.

σύμβολον γὰρ ὁ μὲν καιόμενος βάτος τῶν ἀδικουμένων, τὸ δὲ φλέγον πῦρ τῶν ἀδικούντων, τὸ δὲ μὴ κατακαίεσθαι τὸ καιόμενον τοῦ μὴ πρὸς τῶν ἐπιτιθεμένων φθαρήσεσθαι τοὺς ἀδικουμένους, ἀλλὰ τοῖς μὲν ἄπρακτον καὶ ἀνωφελῆ γενέσθαι τὴν ἐπίθεσιν, τοῖς δὲ τὴν ἐπιβουλὴν ἀζήμιον, ὁ δὲ ἄγγελος προνοίας τῆς ἐκ θεοῦ τὰ λίαν φοβερὰ παρὰ τὰς 1.68 ἁπάντων ἐλπίδας κατὰ πολλὴν ἡσυχίαν ἐξευμαρίζοντος. τὴν δὲ εἰκασίαν ἀκριβῶς ἐπισκεπτέον.

The Name of God meaning of the three Patriarchs




14 […] (76) AND if, because of their natural weakness, they seek some title, tell them not only that I am God, but also the God of those three men who are named for the virtue [they attained]:

1.77  ἐὰν δ' ἀσθενέστεροι τὰς φύσεις ὄντες ἐπιζητῶσι πρόσρησιν, δήλωσον αὐτοῖς μὴ μόνον τοῦθ' ὅτι | θεός εἰμι, ἀλλ' ὅτι καὶ τριῶν τῶν ἐπωνύμων ἀνδρῶν ἀρετῆς,

the God of Abraham,

and the God of Isaac,

and the God of Jacob;

θεὸς Ἀβραὰμ

  καὶ θεὸς Ἰσαὰκ

    καὶ θεὸς Ἰακώβ,

the first named for [wisdom] that is taught;

the second for natural [wisdom];

the third for ascetical [wisdom].

ὧν ὁ´ διδακτῆς,

ὁ δὲ τῆς φυσικῆς,

ὁ δὲ τῆς ἀσκητικῆς σοφίας κανών ἐστιν.