Hippolytus (Cont.)The Refutation of All Heresies. (Cont.)

Book VI. (Cont.)

Chap. XLIII. – Letters, Symbols of the Heavens.

He has, however, employed the instrumentality of the aggregate of the seven numbers, in order that the result of the self-devised (counsel)119 might be manifested. Understand, he says, for the present, that remarkable number to be Him who was formed by the illustrious one, and who was, as it were, divided, and remained outside. And He, through both His Own power and wisdom, by means of the projection of Himself, imparted, in imitation of the seven powers,120 animation to this world, so as to make it consist of seven powers, and constituted (this world) the soul of the visible universe. And therefore this one has resorted to such all operation as what was spontaneously undertaken by Himself; and these minister,121 inasmuch as they are imitations of things inimitable, unto the intelligence of the Mother. And the first heaven sounds Alpha,122 and the one after that E[psilon], and the third Eta, and the fourth, even that in the midst of the seven (vowels, enunciates) the power of Iota, and the fifth of O[micron], and the sixth of U[psilon], and the seventh and fourth from the central123 one, O[mega]. And all the powers, when they are connected together in one, emit a sound, and glorify that (Being) from whom they have been projected. And the glory of that sound is transmitted upwards to the Progenitor. And furthermore, he says that the sound of this ascription of glory being conveyed to the earth, became a creator and producer of terrestrial objects. And (he maintains) that the proof of this (may be drawn) from the case of infants recently born, whose soul, simultaneously with exit from the womb utters similarly this sound of each one of the elements. As, then, he says, the seven powers glorify the Logos, so also does the sorrowing soul in babes (magnify Him).124 And on account of this, he says, David likewise has declared, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise.” (Psa_8:2) And again, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” (Psa_19:1) When,125 however, the soul is involved in hardships, it utters no other exclamation than the O[mega], inasmuch as it is afflicted in order that the soul above, becoming aware of what is akin to herself (below), may send down one to help this (earthly soul).


Chap. XLIV – Respecting the Generation of the Twenty-Four Letters.

And so far for these points. Respecting, however, the generation of the twenty-four elements, he expresses himself thus: that Henotes coexists with Monotes, and that from these issue two projections, viz., Monas and Hen, and that these being added together126 become four, for twice two are four. And again, the two and four (projections) being added together, manifested the number six; and these six made fourfold, produce the twenty-four forms.127 And these are the names of the first tetrad, and they are under stood as Holy of Holies, and cannot be expressed and they are recognised by the Son alone. These the Father knows which they are. Those names which with Him are pronounced in silence and with faith, are Arrhetus and Sige, Pater and Aletheia. And of this tetrad the entire number is (that) of twenty-four letters. For Arrhetus has seven elements, Sige five, and Pater five, and Aletheia seven.128 And in like manner also (is it with) the second tetrad; (for) Logos and Zoe. Anthropos and Ecclesia, exhibited the same number of elements. And (he says) that the expressed name – (that is, Jesus)129 – of the Saviour consists of six letters, but that His ineffable130 name, according to the number of the letters, one by one,131 consists of twenty-four elements, but Christ a Son of twelve. And (he says) that the ineffable (name) in Christ consists of thirty letters, and this exists, according to the letters l which are in Him, the elements being counted one by one. For the (name) Christ132 consists of eight elements; for Chi133 consists of three, and R[ho] of two, and EI of two, and I[ota], of four, S[igma] of five, and T[au] of three, and OU of two, and San of three. Thus the ineffable name in Christ consists, they allege, of thirty letters. And they assert that for this reason He utters the words, “I am Alpha and Omega,” displaying the dove, which (symbolically) has this number, which is eight hundred and one.134


Chap. XLV. – Why Jesus Is Called Alpha.

Now Jesus possesses this ineffable generation. For from the mother of the universe, I mean the first tetrad, proceeded forth, in the manner of a daughter, the second tetrad. And it became an ogdoad, from which proceeded forth the decade; and thus was produced ten, and next eighteen. The decade, therefore, coming in along with the ogdoad, and rendering it tenfold, produced the number eighty; and again making eighty tenfold, generated the number eight hundred.135 And so it is that the entire number of letters that proceeded forth from ogdoad into decade is eight hundred and eighty-eight, which is Jesus; for the name Jesus, according to the number in letters, is eight hundred and eighty-eight. Now likewise the Greek alphabet has eight monads and eight decades, and eight hecatontads; and these exhibit the calculated sum of eight hundred and eighty-eight, that is, Jesus, who consists of all numbers. And that on this account He is called Alpha (and Omega), indicating His generation (to be) from all.136


Chap. XLVI. – Marcus’ Account of the Birth and Life of Our Lord.

But concerning the creation of this (Jesus), he expresses himself thus: That powers emanating from the second tetrad fashioned Jesus, who appeared on earth, and that the angel Gabriel (Luk_1:26-38) filled the place of the Logos, and the Holy Spirit that of Zoe, and the “Power of the Highest”137 that of Anthropos, and the Virgin that of Ecclesia.138 And so it was, in Marcus’ system, that the man (who appeared) in accordance with the dispensation was born through Mary.139 And when He came to the water, (he says) that He descended like a dove upon him who had ascended above and filled the twelfth number. And in Him resides the seed of these, that is, such as are sown along with Him, and that descend with (Him), and ascend with (Him). And that this power which descended upon Him, he says, is the seed of the Pleroma, which contains in itself both the Father and the Son, and the unnameable power of Sige, which is recognised through these and all the Aeons. And that this (seed) is the spirit which is in Him and spoke in Him through the mouth of the Son, the confession of Himself as Son of man, and of His being one who would manifest the Father; (and that) when this spirit came down upon Jesus, He was united with Him. The Saviour, who was of the dispensation, he says, destroyed death, whereas He made known (as) the Father Christ (Jesus). He says that Jesus, therefore, is the name of the man of the dispensation, and that it has been set forth for the assimilation and formation of Anthropos, who was about to descend upon Him; and that when He had received Him unto Himself, He retained possession of Him. And (he says) that He was Anthropos, (that) He (was) Logos, (that) He (was) Pater, and Arrhetus, and Sige, and Aletheia, and Ecclesia, and Zoe.


Chap. XLVII. – The System of Marcus Shown to Be That of Pythagoras, by Quotations from the Writings of Marcus’ Followers.

I trust, therefore, that as regards these doctrines it is obvious to all possessed of a sound mind, that (these tenets) are unauthoritative, and far removed from the knowledge that is in accordance with Religion, and are mere portions of astrological discovery, and the arithmetical art of the Pythagoreans. And this assertion, ye who are desirous of learning shall ascertain (to be true, by a reference to the previous books, where,) amongst other opinions elucidated by us, we have explained these doctrines likewise. In order, however, that we may prove it a more clear statement, viz., that these (Marcosians) are disciples not of Christ but of Pythagoras, I shall proceed to explain those opinions that have been derived (by these heretics) from Pythagoras concerning the meteoric (phenomena) of the starts140 as far as it is possible (to do so) by an epitome.

Now the Pythagoreans make the following statements: that the universe consists of a Monad and Duad, and that by reckoning from a monad as far as four they thus generate a decade. And again,141 a duad coming forth as far as the remarkable (letter), – for instance, two and four and six, – exhibited the (number) twelve. And again, if we reckon from the duad to the decade, thirty is produced; and in this are comprised the ogdoad, and decade, and dodecade. And therefore, on account of its having the remarkable (letter), the dodecade has concomitant142 with it a remarkable passion.143 And for this reason (they maintain) that when an error had arisen respecting the twelfth number, the sheep skipped from the flock and wandered away; (Luk_15:4-10) for that the apostasy took place, they say, in like manner from the decade. And with a similar reference to the dodecade, they speak of the piece of money which, on losing, a woman, having lit a candle, searched for diligently. (And they make a similar application) of the loss (sustained) in the case of the one sheep out of the ninety and nine; and adding these one into the other, they give a fabulous account of numbers. And in this way, they affirm, when the eleven is multiplied into nine, that it produces the number ninety and nine; and on this account that it is said that the word Amen embraces the number ninety-nine. And in regard of another number they express themselves in this manner: that the letter Eta along with the remarkable one constitutes all ogdoad, as it is situated in the eighth place from Alpha. Then, again, computing the number of these elements without the remarkable (letter), and adding them together up to Eta, they exhibit the number thirty. For any one beginning from the Alpha144 to the Eta will, after subtracting the remarkable (letter), discover the number of the elements to be the number thirty. Since, therefore, the number thirty is unified from the three powers; when multiplied thrice into itself it produced ninety, for thrice thirty is ninety, (and this triad when multiplied into itself produced nine). In this way the Ogdoad brought forth the number ninety-nine from the first Ogdoad, and Decade, and Dodecade. And at one time they collect the number of this (trio) into an entire sum, and produce a triacontad; whereas at another time they subtract twelve, and reckon it at eleven. And in like manner, (they subtract) ten and make it nine. And connecting these one into the other, and multiplying them tenfold, they complete the number ninety-nine. Since, however, the twelfth Aeon, having left the eleven (Aeons above), and departing downwards, withdrew, they allege that even this is correlative (with the letters). For the figure of the letters teaches (us as much). For L is placed eleventh of the letters, and this L is the number thirty. And (they say) that this is placed according to an image of the dispensation above; since from Alpha, irrespective of the remarkable (letter), the number of the letters themselves, added together up to L, according to the augmentation of the letters with the L itself, produces the number ninety-nine. But that the L, situated in the eleventh (of the alphabet), came down to search after the number similar to itself, in order that it might fill up the twelfth number, and that when it was discovered it was filled up, is manifest from the shape itself of the letter. For Lambda, when it attained unto, as it were, the investigation of what is similar to itself, and when it found such and snatched it away, filled up the place of the twelfth, the letter M, which is composed of two Lambdas. And for this reason (it was) that these (adherents of Marcus), through their knowledge, avoid the place of the ninety-nine, that is, the Hysterema, a type of the left hand,145 and follow after the one which, added to ninety-nine, they say was transferred to his own right hand.


Chap. XLVIII. – Their Cosmogony Framed According to These Mystic Doctrines of Letters.

And by the Mother, they allege, were created first the four elements, which, they say, are fire, water, earth, air; and these have been projected as an image of the tetrad above; and reckoning the energies of these – for instance, as hot, cold, moist, dry – they assert that they accurately portray the Ogdoad. And next they compute ten powers thus. (There are, they say,) seven orbicular bodies, which they likewise call heavens. There is next a circle containing these within its compass, and this also they name an eighth heaven: and in addition to these, they affirm the existence of both a sun and moon. And these being ten in number, they say, are images of the invisible decade that (emanated) from Logos and Zoe. (They affirm,) however, that the dodecade is indicated by what is termed the zodiacal circle. For these twelve zodiacal signs, they say, most evidently shadowed forth146 the daughter of Anthropos and Ecclesia, namely the Dodecade. And since, he says, the upper heaven has been united from an opposite direction to the revolutionary motion, which is most rapid, of the entire (of the signs); and since (this heaven) within its cavity retards, and by its slowness counterpoises, the velocity of those (signs), so that in thirty years it accomplishes its circuit from sign to sign, – they therefore assert that this (heaven) is an image of Horos, who encircles the mother of these, who has thirty names. And, again, (they affirm) that the moon, which traverses the heaven in thirty days, by reason of (these) days portrays the number of the Aeons. And (they say) that the sun, performing its circuit, and terminating its exact return to its first position in its orbit in twelve months, manifests the dodecade. And also (they say) that the days themselves, involving the measure of twelve hours, constitute a type of the empty147 dodecade; and that the circumference of the actual zodiacal circle consists of three hundred and sixty degrees, and that each zodiacal sign possesses thirty divisions. In this way, therefore, even by means of the circle, they maintain that the image is preserved148 of the connection of the twelve with the thirty.149 But, moreover, alleging that the earth was divided into twelve regions, and that according to each particular region it receives one power by the latter’s being sent down from the heavens, and that it produces children corresponding in likeness150 unto the power which transmitted (the likeness) by emanation; (for this reason) they assert that earth is a type of the Dodecade above.


Chap. XLIX. – The Work of the Demiurge Perishable.

And in addition to these (points, they lay down) that the Demiurge of the supernal Ogdoad, desirous of imitating the indefinite, and everlasting, and illimitable (one), and (the one) not subject to the condition of time; and (the Demiurge) not being able to represent the stability151 and eternity of this (Ogdoad), on account of his being the fruit of the Hysterema, to this end appointed times, and seasons, and numbers, measuring many years in reference to the eternity of this (Ogdoad), thinking by the multitude of times to imitate its indefiniteness. And here they say, when Truth eluded his pursuit, that Falsehood followed close upon him; and that on account of this, when the times were fulfilled, his work underwent dissolution.


Chap. L. – Marcus and Colarbasus Refuted by Irenaeus.

These assertions, then, those who are of the school of Valentinus advance concerning both the creation and the universe, in each case propagating opinions still more empty.152 And they suppose this to constitute productiveness (in their system), if any one in like manner, making some greater discovery, will appear to work wonders. And finding, (as they insinuate,) each of the particulars of Scripture to accord with the aforesaid numbers, they (attempt to) criminate Moses and the prophets, alleging that these speak allegorically of the measures of the Aeons. And inasmuch as these statements are trifling and unstable, it does not appear to me expedient to bring them before (the reader. This, however, is the less requisite,) as now the blessed presbyter153 Irenaeus has powerfully and elaborately refuted the opinions of these (heretics). And to him we are indebted for a knowledge of their inventions, (and have thereby succeeded in) proving that these heretics, appropriating these opinions from the Pythagorean philosophy, and from over-spun theories of the astrologers, cast an imputation upon Christ, as though He had delivered these (doctrines). But since I suppose that the worthless opinions of these men have been sufficiently explained, and that it has been clearly proved whose disciples are Marcus and Colarbasus, who were successors of the school of Valentinus, let us see what statement likewise Basilides advances. 





119 Supplied from Irenaeus.

120 This should be altered into Hebdomad if we follow Irenaeus.

121 τάδε διακονεῖ. This is the text of Irenaeus, and corrects the common reading, τὰ δἰ εἰκόνων.

122 φθέγγεται (Irenaeus). The common reading is φαίνεται.

123 μέδου; in Irenaeus we have μέρους.

124 Irenaeus has the sentence thus: “so also the soul in babes, lamenting and bewailing Marcus, glorifies him.”

125 Hippolytus here omits some passages which are to be found in Irenaeus.

126 Literally, “being twice two:” some for οὖσαι read οὐσίαι, Irenaeus has ἐπὶ δύο οὖσαι, i.e., “which being (added) into two.”

127 Hippolytus has only the word “twenty-four,” to which Schneidewin supplies “letters,” and Irenaeus “forms,” as given above. Hippolytus likewise omits the word “produced,” which Irenaeus supplies. The text of the latter is τὰς εἰκοσιτέσσαρας ἀπεκύησαν μορφάς.

128 Irenaeus adds, “which being added together, I mean the twice five and twice seven, complete the number of twenty-four (forms).”

129 The parenthetical words had fallen into a wrong part of the sentence, and are placed here by Schneidewin.

130 This is a correction for “expressed” from Irenaeus. Marcus observes the distinction afterwards.

131 κατὰ ἓν γραμμάτων. The ms. has ἐγγραμάτων. Irenaeus omits these words.

132 This entire sentence is wanting in Irenaeus.

133 Corrected from Chri, which is in the ms.

134 Irenaeus has the passage thus: “And for this reason He says that He is Alpha and Omega, that He may manifest the dove, inasmuch as this bird (symbolically) involves this number (801).” See a previous note in chap. xlii. p. 95, supra.

135 Part of this sentence is supplied from Irenaeus.

136 Hippolytus here omits the following sentence found in Irenaeus: “And again thus – of the first quarternion, when added unto itself, in accordance with a progression of number, appeared the number ten, and so forth.”

137 Or, “of the Son,” an obvious mistake.

138 Irenaeus has, “And the virgin exhibited in the place of Ecclesia.”

139 Irenaeus adds, “whom the Father of the universe selected, for passage through the womb, by means of the Logos, for recognition of Himself.”

140 Cruice thinks that for stars we should read “numbers,” but gives no explanation of the meaning of μετέωρα. This word, as applied to numbers, might refer to “the astrological phenomena” deductible by means of numerical calculations.

141 A comparison of Hippolytus with Irenaeus, as regards what follows, manifests many omissions in the former.

142 Following Irenaeus, the passage would be rendered thus: “And therefore, on account of its having the remarkable (letter) concomitant with it, they style the dodecade a remarkable passion.” Massuet, in his Annotations on Irenaeus, gives the following explanation of the above statement, which is made by Hippolytus likewise. From the twelfth number, by one abstracting the remarkable (number), which does not come into the order and number of the letters, eleven letters remain. Hence in the dodecade, the πάθος, or what elsewhere the heretics call the “Hysterema,” is a defect of one letter. And this is a symbol of the defect or suffering which, upon the withdrawal of one Aeon, happened unto the last dodecade of Aeons.

143 Hippolytus’ statement is less copious and less clear than that of Irenaeus, who explains the defect of the letter to be symbolical of an apostasy of one of the Aeons, and that this one was a female.

144 Marcus’ explanation of this, as furnished by Irenaeus is more copious than Hippolytus’.

145 The allusion here seems to be to the habit among the ancients of employing the fingers for counting, those of the left hand being used for all numbers under 100, and those of the right hand for the numbers above it. To this custom the poet Juvenal alludes, when he says of Nestor: – 

“Atque suos jam dextera computat annos.”

That is, he was one hundred years old.

146 Or, “sketched out” (Irenaeus).

147 Or, “radiant.”

148 Or, “measured.”

149 Massuet gives the following explanation: The sun each day describes a circle which is divided into twelve parts of 30 degrees each, and consists of 360 degrees. And as for each of the hours, where days and nights are equal, 15 degrees are allowed, it follows that in two hours, that is, in the twelfth part of a day, the sun completes a progress of 30 degrees.

150 Or, “of the same substance.”

151 Or, “blamelessness.”

152 Or, “strange.”

153 [The Apostle John delights to call himself a presbyter, and St. Peter claims to be co-presbyter with the elders whom he exhorts. The Johannean school of primitive theologians seems to love this expression pre-eminently. It was almost as little specific in the primitive age as that of pastor or minister in our own.]