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CITATIONS FROM SEVERUS OF ANTIOCH

CITATIONS FROM SEVERUS OF ANTIOCH (CITATION 1)

From where did the Manichaeans, who are more wicked than any other, get the idea of introducing two principles, both uncreated and without beginning, that is good and evil, light and darkness, which they also call matter?

(CITATION 2)

But he (Mani) says: ‘Each one of them is uncreated and without beginning, both the good, which is light, and the evil, which is darkness and matter. And there is no contact between them.’

(CITATION 3)

The good, which they have called light and the tree of life, occupies the re-gions in the east, west and north; but the tree of death which they also called matter, being very wicked and uncreated, occupies the regions towards the south and the meridian.

(CITATION 4)

The difference and gulf between the two principles are as great as that between a king and a pig.

The one moves in a royal palace in chambers fitting for him; the other wal-lows like a pig in filth, feeds on its foul stench and takes pleasure in it, or is like a snake, coiled inside its den.

(CITATION 5)

The beings which have existed for ever and at all time from the beginning – he is speaking about matter and about God – each one of them exists in its own nature.

Thus is the tree of life, which is decorated there with all its beauties and with all its shining splendours, which is filled and clothed with all its excellence, which stands fast and is fixed in its nature:

its territory includes three regions, that of the north which is external and be-low, that of the east and that of the west which is external and below.

There is not anything which is penetrated or occluded by it from below, not even in one region, but it stretches infinitely outside and below.

No foreign body is around it (the tree of life) or below it, nor at another place of the three regions, but below and outside belong to it, to the north, to the east and to the west.

There is nothing which surrounds and encloses it on these three sides; but it is in itself, of itself and to itself, arrayed in itself with its fruits.

And the kingdom consists of it.

(CITATION 6)

And it (the good) is not seen in the southern region, and that is because it is hidden in that which is within its bosom (the region of light); for God has built a wall around that place.

(CITATION 7)

Its light and its grace are invisible, so that it does not give the evil tree, which is in the south, an occasion for desire; and so that it should not be the cause for it to be provoked and harassed and to get into danger, but it is enclosed in splendour and gives no occasion because of its goodness.

Yet it has preserved itself by its righteousness and is in this splendour, exist-ing continually in the nature of its greatness in these three regions.

The tree of death, however, according to its nature has no life or any fruits of goodness on its branches. It is always in the southern region. It has its own place, which is above it.

(CITATION 8)

The tree of death is divided into many trees.

War and embitterment exist in them.

They are strangers to peace and are full of all wickedness and never have good fruits.

It (the tree of death) is divided against its fruits and its fruits too stand against the tree.

They are not at one with the one who produced them, but they all produce the worm for the destruction of their place.

They are not subject to the one who produced them, but the whole tree is bad.

It never does any good but is divided in itself and each individual part destroys what is nearby.

(CITATION 9)

For they also wrote these strong words.

Let this be said about matter and about its fruits and members: Because of the unrest – therein was the reason – it happened, that they ascended even to the worlds of light.

For these members of that tree of death did not even know each other, and were not even aware of each other.

For none of them knew more than its own voice and saw only that which was before their own eyes. And when it (the voice) called out something, then they heard it and were aware of it and set off to the voice with violence.

They did not know anything else.

And so they were stimulated and spurred on by each other to press forward even as far as the frontiers of the splendid land of light; but when they real-ised that its wonderful and exceedingly beautiful appearance was far better than their own, then they assembled – i.e. that dark matter – and took counsel against light to mix themselves with it.

On account of their madness they did not know that a strong and powerful God dwelt therein; but they strove to ascend to the heights, because they had never recognized anything of the excellence of the Godhead, nor had they real-ised who God was.

And they looked there, full of foolishness, urged on by the desire for the ap-pearance of those blessed worlds and believed that it would belong to them.

There arose therefore all the members of that tree of darkness, that is matter which creates ruin, and ascended with many, countless armies.

Yet they were all clad in the matter of fire.

(CITATION 10)

The members however of matter were varied.

Some had a firm body and were of infinite size, the others incorporeal and un-touchable, having a keen perception like the demons and apparitions of phan-toms.

When, now, the whole of matter had arisen, it ascended with its winds and storms, with water and fire, with its demons and apparitions, the rulers and powers; and this was while they were all in the depths, so that they could asso-ciate themselves with the light.

On account of this disturbance, which was prepared out of the depths against the land of light and against the holy fruits, it was necessary that a part should come out of the light and be mingled with the evil ones, so that the ene-mies would be captured by this mingling, and the good would have peace and the nature of the good would be preserved, after that blessed nature had been delivered out of the fire of matter; and out of that ruinous decay, and thereby again the luminous ones would be divested of matter by the power which has been intermingled, so that the matter will be destroyed from the midst and the tree of life be God in all and over all.

For in that world of light there is no burning fire, to be set against evil, nor cutting iron, nor water which drowns, nor any other evil which is like it.

For everything is light and free space.

And no harm comes to it; but rather this exodus or crossing-over takes place in order that, by virtue of the part which came from the light, the enemies, being scattered, might cease their attack and are captured by the mingling.

(CITATION 11)

(You (i.e. Mani) say): ‘that this portion of light was given to matter in the guise of tempting bait and a deception, so that after this “the mixture”’ –as you say – ‘would be purified’, or rather ‘the light would be found pure’, as if you are supposing that you are devising a discourse about dregs mixed in wine, and not about God!

‘And after the purification’ – I am also saying this according to you – ‘matter will be completely reduced to destruction’!

For with these very words we have set you forth above as saying: ‘so that matter would be obliterated from the midst’.

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