Σάββατο, 9 Μαΐου 2015

Alexander of Lycopolis (ca. 300) testimony about Mani



Alexander of Lycopolis (ca. 300) testimony about Mani

... like that Manichaîos, who is a Persian by descent, who according to our teaching surpassed everybody in telling amazing stories. 
... They say he arose during Valerian, campaigned together with Sapores the Persian, and died after having incurred his anger. 
The following account of his teaching came to us from those who knew the man.
He postulated two principles (arkhaí): God and Matter (húlê), of whom God was good and Matter evil (kakós).
God had more good than Matter had evil. 
When he says Matter he does not, however, like Plato mean that which becomes all things when it takes on quality and form (which is why Plato calls it all-absorbing and mother and nurse), or like Aristotle the element in which form and lack appear, but something different from these.  
For he calls Matter the unordered movement that is in every being. 
Alongside with God there are other powers (dúnamis), serving him, as it were: all good; likewise with Matter: all evil. 
The splendor and the light and the upper region was all with God; the murkiness and the darkness and the nether region was all with Matter. 
God also had aspirations, but all those good, and matter likewise, but all evil.
Once upon a time Matter became desirous (epithumía) to reach the upper region, but when she reached it she was amazed at all the splendor and light that was with God and wished to oust God and assume power herself. 
Now God wished to punish her, but had nothing evil with which to punish her, for there was nothing evil in the house of God. 
So he sent against Matter a power, which we call the soul (psukhê), which was to mingle completely with her. 
For it would mean the death of Matter when subsequently it was separated from her. 
And so, according to God’s foresight (prónoia), the soul was mixed with Matter, something dissimilar with something dissimilar. 
But through this mixture not only Matter suffered, but the soul as well. 
For in the same way that a bad vessel often causes its contents to change, so also did the soul inside Matter suffer and deteriorated from its actual nature (oúsa phúsis) into participating (metousía) in evil. 
God was sorry about this and sent another power, which we call the demiurge [the Living Spirit]. 
After arriving and having taken the creation of the world in hand, he extracted from Matter as much of the power as had not yet suffered anything untoward (átopos) from the mixture, and so first sun and moon came into being. 
That which had become only moderately evil became the stars and the rest of the sky. 
The part of matter which was left after the sun and moon had been separated from it was thrown outside the world, and that is that fire which burns but is darkish and dull like the night. 
In the other elements and the plants and animals consisting of them the divine power was unequally mixed.
So in this way the world came into being, and in it the sun and the moon by their becoming and disappearing ever separate from Matter the divine power and lead it up to God.  For after the demiurge another power in the light form of the sun came down and performed all this [the Third Messenger]. 
Now, this work is very clear and obvious even to the blind, as it were. 
For when it waxes the moon receives the light that has been separated out from Matter and it becomes full of it at this time. 
But when it has become full, then as it diminishes it leads it to the sun, which sends it on to God. 
When it has done this it starts taking up again, after the next full moon, the soul transmuting up to it.
And having received it he likewise lets it be carried up to God on its own. 
And this it does constantly. 
And an image is to be seen in the sun which is like that of a man. Matter became envious of it and fashioned a man from herself according to how much power she possessed through the mixture. 
Thus man too has some of the soul in him.  Indeed, the image contributed a lot to the fact that man has more of the divine power than other mortal living beings, for he is an image of divine power. 
As for Christ, he is the Nous. 
He too once came from the upper region and released the greatest part of this power for God. 
And, of course, in the end he was crucified and so brought Gnosis, in such a way that the divine power was insinuated into, even crucified in Matter. 
Now, since God’s decision is that Matter is to be annihilated, one should abstain from everything that has a soul, but satisfy oneself with vegetables and everything that has no feelings, and also abstain from marriage, sex, and child-making, in order that the soul does not transhume even more within Matter through the sequence of
generations. 
One should not oneself by performing mechanical cleansings try to expel those things with which the mixture with Matter has sullied the power. 
These are the main points of what they say. 
They worship mostly the sun and the moon, not as gods, but as a way to reach God. 
But when the divine power has been completely separated, then, they say, the outer fire will collapse and will consume both itself and everything else that remains of Matter.''

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Alexander of Lycopolis was the writer of a short treatise, in twenty-six chapters, against the Manicheans (J. P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, XVIII, 409-448). He says in the second chapter of this work that he derived his knowledge of Manes' teaching apo ton gnorimon (from the man's friend).

The work is a specimen of Greek analytical procedure in the service of Christian theology, "a calm but vigorous protest of the trained scientific intellect against the vague dogmatism of the Oriental theosophies".

Photius says (Contra Manichaeos, i, 11) that he was Bishop of Lycopolis (in the Egyptian Thebaid), but Otto Bardenhewer opines (Patrologie, 234) that he was a pagan and a Platonist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_of_Lycopolis
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