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Fathers of the Church

Fragments

Description

Fragmentary account of a debate with Apelles.

Provenance

Taken from a collection of fragmented writings of the second and third centuries. Eusebius records that this fragment is from Rhodon's work against Marcion and addressed to Callistion. Rhodon was Tatian's pupil, and though he intended to solve several Scriptural problems posed by Tatian, no such work is found. He also wrote against the blasphemer, Apelles, who appears briefly in the work included here.

by Rhodon in 180 A.D. | translated by Rev. B. P. Pratten

WHEREFORE also they disagree among themselves, maintaining as they do an opinion which has no consistency with itself. For one of their herd, Apelles, who prides himself on the strictness of his life, and on his age, admits that there is only one first principle, yet says that the prophecies have come from an opposing spirit, in which opinion he is influenced by the responses of a soothsaying maid named Philumene. But others, among whom are Potitus and Basilicus, like Marcion himself, introduce two first principles. These men, following the Pontic wolf, and not being able to discover any more than he the division of things, have had to recourse to rash assertion, and declared the existence of two first principles simply and without proof. Others of them, again, drifting from bad to worse, assume not two only, but even three natures. Of these men the leader and champion is Syneros, as those who adopt his teaching say....

For the old man Apelles entered into conversation with us, and was convicted of uttering many false opinions. For example, he asserted that men should on no account examine into their creed, but that every one ought to continue to the last in the belief he has once adopted. For he declared that those who had rested their hope on the Crucified One would be saved, provided only they were found living in the practice, of good works. But the most perplexing of all the doctrines laid down by him was, as we have remarked before, what he said concerning God: for he affirmed that there was only one first principle, precisely as our own faith teaches ....

On asking him, "Where do you get proof of this? or how are you able to assert that there is only one first principle? tell us,"—he said that the prophecies refuted themselves, because they had uttered nothing at all that was true: for that they were discordant and false, and self-contradictory. As to the question, "How does it appear that there is only one first principle?" he said he could not tell, only he was impelled to that belief. On my thereupon conjuring him to speak the truth, he solemnly declared that he was expressing his real sentiments; and that he did not know" how" there could be one uncreated God, but that he believed the fact. Here I burst into laughter and rebuked him, because he professed to be a teacher, and yet was unable to confirm by arguments what he taught.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (ANF 8, Roberts and Donaldson). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.