Clement of Alexandria: Stromata 6.8


For Paul too, in the Epistles, plainly does not disparage philosophy; but deems it unworthy of the man who has attained to the elevation of the Gnostic, any more to go back to the Hellenic “philosophy,” figuratively calling it “the rudiments of this world,” as being most rudimentary, and a preparatory training for the truth. Wherefore also, writing to the Hebrews, who were declining again from faith to the law, he says, “Have ye not need again of one to teach you which are the first principles of the oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat?” So also to the Colossians, who were Greek converts, “Beware lest any man spoil you by philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of this world, and not after Christ,”—enticing them again to return to philosophy, the elementary doctrine.

And should one say that it was through human understanding that philosophy was discovered by the Greeks, still I find the Scriptures saying that understanding is sent by God. The psalmist, accordingly, considers understanding as the greatest free gift, and beseeches, saying, “I am Thy servant; give me understanding.” And does not David, while asking the abundant experience of knowledge, write, “Teach me gentleness, and discipline, and knowledge: for I have believed in Thy commandments?” He confessed the covenants to be of the highest authority, and that they were given to the more excellent. Accordingly the psalm again says of God, “He hath not done thus to any nation; and He hath not shown His judgments to them.” The expression “He hath not done so” shows that He hath done, but not “thus.” The “thus,” then, is put comparatively, with reference to pre-eminence, which obtains in our case. The prophet might have said simply, “He hath not done,” without the “thus.”

Further, Peter in the Acts says, “Of a truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted by Him.” The absence of respect of persons in God is not then in time, but from eternity. Nor had His beneficence a beginning; nor any more is it limited to places or persons. For His beneficence is not confined to parts. “Open ye the gates of righteousness,” it is said; “entering into them, I will confess to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord. The righteous shall enter by it.” Explaining the prophet’s saying, Barnabas adds, “There being many gates open, that which is in righteousness is the gate which is in Christ, by which all who enter are blessed.” Bordering on the same meaning is also the following prophetic utterance: “The Lord is on many waters;” not the different covenants alone, but the modes of teaching, those among the Greek and those among the Barbarians, conducing to righteousness. And already clearly David, bearing testimony to the truth, sings, “Let sinners be turned into Hades, and all the nations that forget God.” They forget, plainly, Him whom they formerly remembered, and dismiss Him whom they knew previous to forgetting Him. There was then a dim knowledge of God also among the nations. So much for those points.

Now the Gnostic must be erudite. And since the Greeks say that Protagoras having led the way, the opposing of one argument by another was invented, it is fitting that something be said with reference to arguments of this sort. For Scripture says, “He that says much, shall also hear in his turn.” And who shall understand a parable of the Lord, but the wise, the intelligent, and he that loves his Lord? Let such a man be faithful; let him be capable of uttering his knowledge; let him be wise in the discrimination of words; let him be dexterous in action; let him be pure. “The greater he seems to be, the more humble should he be,” says Clement in the Epistle to the Corinthians,—“such an one as is capable of complying with the precept, ‘And some pluck from the fire, and on others have compassion, making a difference,’”

The pruning-hook is made, certainly, principally for pruning; but with it we separate twigs that have got intertwined, cut the thorns which grow along with the vines, which it is not very easy to reach. And all these things have a reference to pruning. Again, man is made principally for the knowledge of God; but he also measures land, practices agriculture, and philosophises; of which pursuits, one conduces to life, another to living well, a third to the study of the things which are capable of demonstration. Further, let those who say that philosophy took its rise from the devil know this, that the Scripture says that “the devil is transformed into an angel of light.” When about to do what? Plainly, when about to prophesy. But if he prophesies as an angel of light, he will speak what is true. And if he prophesies what is angelical, and of the light, then he prophesies what is beneficial when he is transformed according to the likeness of the operation, though he be different with respect to the matter of apostasy. For how could he deceive any one, without drawing the lover of knowledge into fellowship, and so drawing him afterwards into falsehood? Especially he will be found to know the truth, if not so as to comprehend it, yet so as not to be unacquainted with it.

Philosophy is not then false, though the thief and the liar speak truth, through a trans- formation of operation. Nor is sentence of condemnation to be pronounced ignorantly against what is said, on account of him who says it (which also is to be kept in view, in the case of those who are now alleged to prophesy); but what is said must be looked at, to see if it keep by the truth.

And in general terms, we shall not err in alleging that all things necessary and profitable for life came to us from God, and that philosophy more especially was given to the Greeks, as a covenant peculiar to them—being, as it is, a stepping-stone to the philosophy which is according to Christ—although those who applied themselves to the philosophy of the Greeks shut their ears voluntarily to the truth, despising the voice of Barbarians, or also dreading the danger suspended over the believer, by the laws of the state.

And as in the Barbarian philosophy, so also in the Hellenic, “tares were sown” by the proper husbandman of the tares; whence also heresies grew up among us along with the productive wheat; and those who in the Hellenic philosophy preach the impiety and voluptuousness of Epicurus, and whatever other tenets are disseminated contrary to right reason, exist among the Greeks as spurious fruits of the divinely bestowed husbandry. This voluptuous and selfish philosophy the apostle calls “the wisdom of this world;” in consequence of its teaching the things of this world and about it alone, and its consequent subjection, as far as respects ascendancy, to those who rule here. Wherefore also this fragmentary philosophy is very elementary, while truly perfect science deals with intellectual objects, which are beyond the sphere of the world, and with the objects still more spiritual than those which “eye saw not, and ear heard not, nor did it enter into the heart of men,” till the Teacher told the account of them to us; unveiling the holy of holies; and in ascending order, things still holier than these, to those who are truly and not spuriously heirs of the Lord’s adoption. For we now dare aver (for here is the faith that is characterized by knowledge) that such an one knows all things, and comprehends all things in the exercise of sure apprehension, respecting matters difficult for us, and really pertaining to the true gnosis such as were James, Peter, John, Paul, and the rest of the apostles. For prophecy is full of knowledge (gnosis), inasmuch as it was given by the Lord, and again explained by the Lord to the apostles. And is not knowledge (gnosis) an attribute of the rational soul, which trains itself for this, that by knowledge it may become entitled to immortality? For both are powers of the soul, both knowledge and impulse. And impulse is found to be a movement after an assent. For he who has an impulse towards an action, first receives the knowledge of the action, and secondly the impulse. Let us further devote our attention to this. For since learning is older than action; (for naturally, he who does what he wishes to do learns it first; and knowledge comes from learning, and impulse follows knowledge; after which comes action;) knowledge turns out the beginning and author of all rational action. So that rightly the peculiar nature of the rational soul is characterized by this alone; for in reality impulse, like knowledge, is excited by existing objects. And knowledge (gnosis) is essentially a con- templation of existences on the part of the soul, either of a certain thing or of certain things, and when perfected, of all together. Although some say that the wise man is persuaded that there are some things incomprehensible, in such wise as to have respecting them a kind of comprehension, inasmuch as he comprehends that things incomprehensible are incomprehensible; which is common, and pertains to those who are capable of perceiving little. For such a man affirms that there are some things incomprehensible.

But that Gnostic of whom I speak, himself comprehends what seems to be incomprehensible to others; believing that nothing is incomprehensible to the Son of God, whence nothing incapable of being taught. For He who suffered out of His love for us, would have suppressed no element of knowledge requisite for our instruction. Accordingly this faith becomes sure demonstration; since truth follows what has been delivered by God. But if one desires extensive knowledge, “he knows things ancient, and conjectures things future; he understands knotty sayings, and the solutions of enigmas. The disciple of wisdom foreknows signs and omens, and the issues of seasons and of times.”


The Gnostic, then, is impressed with the closest likeness, that is, with the mind of the Master; which He being possessed of, commanded and recommended to His disciples and to the prudent. Comprehending this, as He who taught wished, and receiving it in its grand sense, he teaches worthily “on the housetops” those capable of being built to a lofty height; and begins the doing of what is spoken, in accordance with the example of life. For He enjoined what is possible. And, in truth, the kingly man and Christian ought to be ruler and leader. For we are commanded to be lords over not only the wild beasts without us, but also over the wild passions within ourselves.

Through the knowledge, then, as appears, of a bad and good life is the Gnostic saved, understanding and executing “more than the scribes and Pharisees.” “Exert thyself, and prosper, and reign” writes David, “because of truth, and meekness, and righteousness; and thy right hand shall guide thee marvellously,” that is, the Lord. “Who then is the wise? and he shall understand these things. Prudent? and he shall know them. For the ways of the Lord are right,” says the prophet, showing that the Gnostic alone is able to understand and explain the things spoken by the Spirit obscurely. “And he who understands in that time shall hold his peace,” says the Scripture, plainly in the way of declaring them to the unworthy. For the Lord says, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,” declaring that hearing and understanding belong not to all. To the point David writes: “Dark water is in the clouds of the skies. At the gleam before Him the clouds passed, hail and coals of fire;” showing that the holy words are hidden. He intimates that transparent and resplendent to the Gnostics, like the innocuous hail, they are sent down from God; but that they are dark to the multitude, like extinguished coals out of the fire, which, unless kindled and set on fire, will not give forth fire or light. “The Lord, therefore,” it is said, “gives me the tongue of instruction, so as to know in season when it is requisite to speak a word;” not in the way of testimony alone, but also in the way of question and answer. “And the in- struction of the Lord opens my mouth.” It is the prerogative of the Gnostic, then, to know how to make use of speech, and when, and how, and to whom. And already the apostle, by saying, “After the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ,” makes the asseveration that the Hellenic teaching is elementary, and that of Christ perfect, as we have already intimated before.

“Now the wild olive is inserted into the fatness of the olive,” and is indeed of the same species as the cultivated olives. For the graft uses as soil the tree in which it is engrafted. Now all the plants sprouted forth simultaneously in consequence of the divine order. Wherefore also, though the wild olive be wild, it crowns the Olympic victors. And the elm teaches the vine to be fruitful, by leading it up to a height. Now we see that wild trees attract more nutriment, because they cannot ripen. The wild trees, therefore, have less power of secretion than those that are cultivated. And the cause of their wildness is the want of the power of secretion. The engrafted olive accordingly receives more nutriment from its growing in the wild one; and it gets accustomed, as it were, to secrete the nutriment, becoming thus assimilated to the fatness of the cultivated tree.

So also the philosopher, resembling the wild olive, in having much that is undigested, on account of his devotion to the search, his propensity to follow, and his eagerness to seize the fatness of the truth; if he get besides the divine power, through faith, by being transplanted into the good and mild knowledge, like the wild olive, engrafted in the truly fair and merciful Word, he both assimilates the nutriment that is supplied, and becomes a fair and good olive tree. For engrafting makes worthless shoots noble, and compels the barren to be fruitful by the art of culture and by gnostic skill.

Different modes of engrafting illustrative of different kinds of conversion.

They say that engrafting is effected in four modes: one, that in which the graft must be fitted in between the wood and the bark; resembling the way in which we instruct plain people belonging to the Gentiles, who receive the word superficially. Another is, when the wood is cleft, and there is inserted in it the cultivated branch. And this applies to the case of those who have studied philosophy; for on cutting through their dogmas, the acknowledg- ment of the truth is produced in them. So also in the case of the Jews, by opening up the Old Testament, the new and noble plant of the olive is inserted. The third mode of engrafting applies to rustics and heretics, who are brought by force to the truth. For after smoothing off both suckers with a sharp pruning-hook, till the pith is laid bare, but not wounded, they are bound together. And the fourth is that form of engrafting called budding. For a bud (eye) is cut out of a trunk of a good sort, a circle being drawn round in the bark along with it, of the size of the palm. Then the trunk is stripped, to suit the eye, over an equal circumference. And so the graft is inserted, tied round, and daubed with clay, the bud being kept uninjured and unstained. This is the style of gnostic teaching, which is capable of looking into things themselves. This mode is, in truth, of most service in the case of cultivated trees. And “the engrafting into the good olive” mentioned by the apostle, may be [engrafting into] Christ Himself; the uncultivated and unbelieving nature being transplanted into Christ—that is, in the case of those who believe in Christ. But it is better [to understand it] of the engrafting of each one’s faith in the soul itself. For also the Holy Spirit is thus somehow trans- planted by distribution, according to the circumscribed capacity of each one, but without being circumscribed.

Knowledge and love.

Now, discoursing on knowledge, Solomon speaks thus: “For wisdom is resplendent and fadeless, and is easily beheld by those who love her. She is beforehand in making herself known to those who desire her. He that rises early for her shall not toil wearily. For to think about her is the perfection of good sense. And he that keeps vigils for her shall quickly be relieved of anxiety. For she goes about, herself seeking those worthy of her (for knowledge belongs not to all); and in all ways she benignly shows herself to them.” Now the paths are the conduct of life, and the variety that exists in the covenants. Presently he adds: “And in every thought she meets them,” being variously contemplated, that is, by all discipline. Then he subjoins, adducing love, which perfects by syllogistic reasoning and true propositions, drawing thus a most convincing and true inference, “For the beginning of her is the truest desire of instruction,” that is, of knowledge; “prudence is the love of instruction, and love is the keeping of its laws; and attention to its laws is the confirmation of immortality; and immortality causes nearness to God. The desire of wisdom leads, then, to the kingdom.”

For he teaches, as I think, that true instruction is desire for knowledge; and the practical exercise of instruction produces love of knowledge. And love is the keeping of the command- ments which lead to knowledge. And the keeping of them is the establishment of the com- mandments, from which immortality results. “And immortality brings us near to God.”

True knowledge found in the teaching of Christ alone.

If, then, the love of knowledge produces immortality, and leads the kingly man near to God the King, knowledge ought to be sought till it is found. Now seeking is an effort at grasping, and finds the subject by means of certain signs. And discovery is the end and cessation of inquiry, which has now its object in its grasp. And this is knowledge. And this discovery, properly so called, is knowledge, which is the apprehension of the object of search. And they say that a proof is either the antecedent, or the coincident, or the consequent. The discovery, then, of what is sought respecting God, is the teaching through the Son; and the proof of our Saviour being the very Son of God is the prophecies which preceded His coming, announcing Him; and the testimonies regarding Him which attended His birth in the world; in addition, His powers proclaimed and openly shown after His ascension.

The proof of the truth being with us, is the fact of the Son of God Himself having taught us. For if in every inquiry these universals are found, a person and a subject, that which is truly the truth is shown to be in our hands alone. For the Son of God is the person of the truth which is exhibited; and the subject is the power of faith, which prevails over the oppos- ition of every one whatever, and the assault of the whole world.

But since this is confessedly established by eternal facts and reasons, and each one who thinks that there is no Providence has already been seen to deserve punishment and not contradiction, and is truly an atheist, it is our aim to discover what doing, and in what manner living, we shall reach the knowledge of the sovereign God, and how, honouring the Divinity, we may become authors of our own salvation. Knowing and learning, not from the Sophists, but from God Himself, what is well-pleasing to Him, we endeavour to do what is just and holy. Now it is well-pleasing to Him that we should be saved; and salvation is effected through both well-doing and knowledge, of both of which the Lord is the teacher.

If, then, according to Plato, it is only possible to learn the truth either from God or from the progeny of God, with reason we, selecting testimonies from the divine oracles, boast of learning the truth by the Son of God, prophesied at first, and then explained.

Philosophy and heresies, aids in discovering the truth.

But the things which co-operate in the discovery of truth are not to be rejected. Philosophy, accordingly, which proclaims a Providence, and the recompense of a life of felicity, and the punishment, on the other hand, of a life of misery, teaches theology comprehensively; but it does not preserve accuracy and particular points; for neither respecting the Son of God, nor respecting the economy of Providence, does it treat similarly with us; for it did not know the worship of God.

Wherefore also the heresies of the Barbarian philosophy, although they speak of one God, though they sing the praises of Christ, speak without accuracy, not in accordance with truth; for they discover another God, and receive Christ not as the prophecies deliver. But their false dogmas, while they oppose the conduct that is according to the truth, are against us. For instance, Paul circumcised Timothy because of the Jews who believed, in order that those who had received their training from the law might not revolt from the faith through his breaking such points of the law as were understood more carnally, knowing right well that circumcision does not justify; for he professed that “all things were for all” by conformity, preserving those of the dogmas that were essential, “that he might gain all.”2583 And Daniel, under the king of the Persians, wore “the chain,” though he despised not the afflictions of the people.

The liars, then, in reality are not those who for the sake of the scheme of salvation con- form, nor those who err in minute points, but those who are wrong in essentials, and reject the Lord, and as far as in them lies deprive the Lord of the true teaching; who do not quote or deliver the Scriptures in a manner worthy of God and of the Lord; for the deposit rendered to God, according to the teaching of the Lord by His apostles, is the understanding and the practice of the godly tradition. “And what ye hear in the ear”—that is, in a hidden manner, and in a mystery (for such things are figuratively said to be spoken in the ear)—“proclaim,” He says, “on the housetops,” understanding them sublimely, and delivering them in a lofty strain, and according to the canon of the truth explaining the Scriptures; for neither prophecy nor the Saviour Himself announced the divine mysteries simply so as to be easily apprehended by all and sundry, but express them in parables. The apostles accordingly say of the Lord, that “He spake all things in parables, and without a parable spake He nothing unto them;” and if “all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made,” consequently also prophecy and the law were by Him, and were spoken by Him in parables. “But all things are right,” says the Scripture, “before those who understand,” that is, those who receive and observe, according to the ecclesiastical rule, the exposition of the Scriptures explained by Him; and the ecclesiastical rule is the concord and harmony of the law and the prophets in the covenant delivered at the coming of the Lord. Knowledge is then followed by practical wisdom, and practical wisdom by self- control: for it may be said that practical wisdom is divine knowledge, and exists in those who are deified; but that self-control is mortal, and subsists in those who philosophize, and are not yet wise. But if virtue is divine, so is also the knowledge of it; while self-control is a sort of imperfect wisdom which aspires after wisdom, and exerts itself laboriously, and is not contemplative. As certainly righteousness, being human, is, as being a common thing, subordinate to holiness, which subsists through the divine righteousness; for the righteousness of the perfect man does not rest on civil contracts, or on the prohibition of law, but flows from his own spontaneous action and his love to God.

Reasons for the meaning of Scripture being veiled.

For many reasons, then, the Scriptures hide the sense. First, that we may become inquisitive, and be ever on the watch for the discovery of the words of salvation. Then it was not suitable for all to understand, so that they might not receive harm in consequence of taking in another sense the things declared for salvation by the Holy Spirit. Wherefore the holy mysteries of the prophecies are veiled in the parables—preserved for chosen men, selected to knowledge in consequence of their faith; for the style of the Scriptures is parabolic. Wherefore also the Lord, who was not of the world, came as one who was of the world to men. For He was clothed with all virtue; and it was His aim to lead man, the foster-child of the world, up to the objects of intellect, and to the most essential truths by knowledge, from one world to another.

Wherefore also He employed metaphorical description; for such is the parable,—a narration based on some subject which is not the principal subject, but similar to the principal subject, and leading him who understands to what is the true and principal thing; or, as some say, a mode of speech presenting with vigour, by means of other circumstances, what is the principal subject.

And now also the whole economy which prophesied of the Lord appears indeed a parable to those who know not the truth, when one speaks and the rest hear that the Son of God—of Him who made the universe—assumed flesh, and was conceived in the virgin’s womb (as His material body was produced), and subsequently, as was the case, suffered and rose again, being “to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness,” as the apostle says.

But on the Scriptures being opened up, and declaring the truth to those who have ears, they proclaim the very suffering endured by the flesh, which the Lord assumed, to be “the power and wisdom of God.” And finally, the parabolic style of Scripture being of the greatest antiquity, as we have shown, abounded most, as was to be expected, in the prophets, in order that the Holy Spirit might show that the philosophers among the Greeks, and the wise men among the Barbarians besides, were ignorant of the future coming of the Lord, and of the mystic teaching that was to be delivered by Him. Rightly then, prophecy, in proclaiming the Lord, in order not to seem to some to blaspheme while speaking what was beyond the ideas of the multitude, embodied its declarations in expressions capable of leading to other conceptions. Now all the prophets who foretold the Lord’s coming, and the holy mysteries accompanying it, were persecuted and killed. As also the Lord Himself, in explaining the Scriptures to them, and His disciples who preached the word like Him, and subsequently to His life, used parables. Whence also Peter, in his Preaching, speaking of the apostles, says: “But we, unrolling the books of the prophets which we possess, who name Jesus Christ, partly in parables, partly in enigmas, partly expressly and in so many words, find His coming and death, and cross, and all the rest of the tortures which the Jews inflicted on Him, and His resurrection and assumption to heaven previous to the capture of Jerusalem. As it is written, These things are all that He behoves to suffer, and what should be after Him. Recognising them, therefore, we have believed in God in consequence of what is written respecting Him.”

And after a little again he draws the inference that the Scriptures owed their origin to the divine providence, asserting as follows: “For we know that God enjoined these things, and we say nothing apart from the Scriptures.”

Now the Hebrew dialect, like all the rest, has certain properties, consisting in a mode of speech which exhibits the national character. Dialect is accordingly defined as a style of speech produced by the national character. But prophecy is not marked by those dialects. For in the Hellenic writings, what are called changes of figures purposely produce obscurations, deduced after the style of our prophecies. But this is effected through the voluntary departure from direct speech which takes place in metrical or offhand diction. A figure, then, is a form of speech transferred from what is literal to what is not literal, for the sake of the composition, and on account of a diction useful in speech.

But prophecy does not employ figurative forms in the expressions for the sake of beauty of diction. But from the fact that truth appertains not to all, it is veiled in manifold ways, causing the light to arise only on those who are initiated into knowledge, who seek the truth through love. The proverb, according to the Barbarian philosophy, is called a mode of prophecy, and the parable is so called, and the enigma in addition. Further also, they are called “wisdom;” and again, as something different from it, “instruction and words of prudence,” and “turnings of words,” and “true righteousness;” and again, “teaching to direct judgment,” and “subtlety to the simple,” which is the result of training, “and perception and thought,” with which the young catechumen is imbued. “He who hears these prophets, being wise, will be wiser. And the intelligent man will acquire rule, and will understand a parable and a dark saying, the words and enigmas of the wise.”

And if it was the case that the Hellenic dialects received their appellation from Hellen, the son of Zeus, surnamed Deucalion, from the chronology which we have already exhibited, it is comparatively easy to perceive by how many generations the dialects that obtained among the Greeks are posterior to the language of the Hebrews.

But as the work advances, we shall in each section, noting the figures of speech mentioned above by the prophet, exhibit the gnostic mode of life, showing it systematically according to the rule of the truth.

Did not the Power also, that appeared to Hermas in the Vision, in the form of the Church, give for transcription the book which she wished to be made known to the elect? And this, he says, he transcribed to the letter, without finding how to complete the syllables. And this signified that the Scripture is clear to all, when taken according to the bare reading; and that this is the faith which occupies the place of the rudiments. Wherefore also the figurative expression is employed, “reading according to the letter;” while we under- stand that the gnostic unfolding of the Scriptures, when faith has already reached an advanced state, is likened to reading according to the syllables.

Further, Esaias the prophet is ordered to take “a new book, and write in it” certain things: the Spirit prophesying that through the exposition of the Scriptures there would come afterwards the sacred knowledge, which at that period was still unwritten, because not yet known. For it was spoken from the beginning to those only who understand. Now that the Saviour has taught the apostles, the unwritten rendering of the written [Scripture] has been handed down also to us, inscribed by the power of God on hearts new, according to the renovation of the book. Thus those of highest repute among the Greeks, dedicate the fruit of the pomegranate to Hermes, who they say is speech, on account of its interpretation. For speech conceals much. Rightly, therefore, Jesus the son of Nave saw Moses, when taken up [to heaven], double,—one Moses with the angels, and one on the mountains, honoured with burial in their ravines. And Jesus saw this spectacle below, being elevated by the Spirit, along also with Caleb. But both do not see similarly. But the one descended with greater speed, as if the weight he carried was great; while the other, on descending after him, subsequently related the glory which he beheld, being able to perceive more than the other as having grown purer; the narrative, in my opinion, showing that knowledge is not the privilege of all. Since some look at the body of the Scriptures, the expressions and the names as to the body of Moses; while others see through to the thoughts and what it is signified by the names, seeking the Moses that is with the angels.

Many also of those who called to the Lord said, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” A few, too, knew Him as the Son of God; as Peter, whom also He pronounced blessed, “for flesh and blood revealed not the truth to him, but His Father in heaven,”—showing that the Gnostic recognises the Son of the Omnipotent, not by His flesh conceived in the womb, but by the Father’s own power. That it is therefore not only to those who read simply that the acquisition of the truth is so difficult, but that not even to those whose prerogative the knowledge of the truth is, is the contemplation of it vouchsafed all at once, the history of Moses teaches, until, accustomed to gaze, at the Hebrews on the glory of Moses, and the prophets of Israel on the visions of angels, so we also become able to look the splendours of truth in the face.