The Apology of Aristides the Philosopher
translated from the Syriac Version by D.M. Kay, B.Sc., B.D., Assistant to the Professor of Semitic Languages in the University of Edinburgh
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Here follows the defence which Aristides the philosopher made before Hadrian the King on behalf of reverence for God.
. . . All-powerful Caesar Titus Hadrianus Antoninus, venerable and merciful, from Marcianus Aristides, an Athenian philosopher.
I. I, O King, by the grace of God came into this world; and when I had considered the heaven and the earth and the seas, and had surveyed the sun and the rest of creation, I marvelled at the beauty of the world. And I perceived that the world and all that is therein are moved by the power of another; and I understood that he who moves them is God, who is hidden in them, and veiled by them. And it is manifest that that which causes motion is more powerful than that which is moved. But that I should make search concerning this same mover of all, as to what is his nature (for it seems to me, he is indeed unsearchable in his nature), and that I should argue as to the constancy of his government, so as to grasp it fully,--this is a vain effort for me; for it is not possible that a man should fully comprehend it. I say, however, concerning this mover of the world, that he is God of all, who made all things for the sake of mankind. And it seems to me that this is reasonable, that one should fear God and should not oppress man.
I say, then, that God is not born, not made, an ever-abiding nature without beginning and without end, immortal, perfect, and incomprehensible. Now when I say that he is "perfect," this means that there is not in him any defect, and he is not in need of anything but all things are in need of him. And when I say that he is "without beginning," this means that everything which has beginning has also an end, and that which has an end may be brought to an end. He has no name, for everything which has a name is kindred to things created. Form he has none, nor yet any union of members; for whatsoever possesses these is kindred to things fashioned. He is neither male nor female. The heavens do not limit him, but the heavens and all things, visible and invisible, receive their bounds from him. Adversary he has none, for there exists not any stronger than he. Wrath and indignation he possesses not, for there is nothing which is able to stand against him. Ignorance and forgetfulness are not in his nature, for he is altogether wisdom and understanding; and in Him stands fast all that exists. He requires not sacrifice and libation, nor even one of things visible; He requires not aught from any, but all living creatures stand in need of him.
II. Since, then, we have addressed you concerning God, so far as our discourse can bear upon him, let us now come to the race of men, that we may know which of them participate in the truth of which we have spoken, and which of them go astray from it.
This is clear to you, O King, that there are four classes of men in this world:--Barbarians and Greeks, Jews and Christians. The Barbarians, indeed, trace the origin of their kind of religion from Kronos and from Rhea and their other gods; the Greeks, however, from Helenos, who is said to be sprung from Zeus. And by Helenos there were born Aiolos and Xuthos; and there were others descended from Inachos and Phoroneus, and lastly from the Egyptian Danaos and from Kadmos and from Dionysos.
The Jews, again, trace the origin of their race from Abraham, who begat Isaac, of whom was born Jacob. And he begat twelve sons who migrated from Syria to Egypt; and there they were called the nation of the Hebrews, by him who made their laws; and at length they were named Jews.
The Christians, then, trace the beginning of their religion from Jesus the Messiah; and he is named the Son of God Most High. And it is said that God came down from heaven, and from a Hebrew virgin assumed and clothed himself with flesh; and the Son of God lived in a daughter of man. This is taught in the gospel, as it is called, which a short time was preached among them; and you also if you will read therein, may perceive the power which belongs to it. This Jesus, then, was born of the race of the Hebrews; and he had twelve disciples in order that the purpose of his incarnation might in time be accomplished. But he himself was pierced by the Jews, and he died and was buried; and they say that after three days he rose and ascended to heaven. Thereupon these twelve disciples went forth throughout the known parts of the world, and kept showing his greatness with all modesty and uprightness. And hence also those of the present day who believe that preaching are called Christians, and they are become famous.
So then there are, as I said above, four classes of men:--Barbarians and Greeks, Jews and Christians.
Moreover the wind is obedient to God, and fire to the angels; the waters also to the demons and the earth to the sons of men. [Possibly inserted by mistake into one of the early MSS.]
III. Let us begin, then, with the Barbarians, and go on to the rest of the nations one after another, that we may see which of them hold the truth as to God and which of them hold error.
The Barbarians, then, as they did not apprehend God, went astray among the elements, and began to worship things created instead of their Creator; and for this end they made images and shut them up in shrines, and lo! they worship them, guarding them the while with much care, lest their gods be stolen by robbers. And the Barbarians did not observe that that which acts as guard is greater than that which is guarded, and that every one who creates is greater than that which is created. If it be, then, that their gods are too feeble to see to their own safety, how will they take thought for the safety of men? Great then is the error into which the Barbarians wandered in worshipping lifeless images which can do nothing to help them. And I am led to wonder, O King, at their philosophers, how that even they went astray, and gave the name of gods to images which were made in honour of the elements; and that their sages did not perceive that the elements also are dissoluble and perishable. For if a small part of an element is dissolved or destroyed, the whole of it may be dissolved and destroyed. If then the elements themselves are dissolved and destroyed and forced to be subject to another that is more stubborn than they, and if they are not in their nature gods, why, for sooth, do they call the images which are made in their honour, God? Great, then, is the error which the philosophers among them have brought upon their followers.
And she began: "Thou shouldst know, my beloved, that there exist in the elements beings not very unlike you men, and who yet seldom let themselves be seen by you. The wondrous salamanders glisten and sport in the flames; the rough, malicious gnomes dwell deep in the earth; the woods are haunted by spirits which are of the air; while the far-spread race of water-spirits live in lakes, and streams, and brooks; they dwell too in resounding crystal vaults, through which heaven with its sun and stars shines in; lofty coral plants with blue and red fruits shine in their gardens; they wander over bright sands, and over gay, many-coloured muscles, and all that the old world possessed of beautiful which the present world is no longer worthy to enjoy, and which the waves conceal with their mysterious veil of silver; below still glitter noble ruins high and stately, and gently washed by loving waters which allure forth from them delicate mosses and wreathing bulrushes. Those who dwell there are pure and lovely to look upon, fairer than even mankind. Many a fisherman has had the good fortune to espy a mermaid as she rose up from the waters, and sang: then would he tell to many of her beauty; and such wondrous women have been called by men Undines. Thou seest before thee an Undine, dearest."
"We live far more happily than other men -- for men we call ourselves, as in countenance and stature we resemble you; but there is one very evil thing with us. We, and our fellows in the other elements, we perish and pass away both in body and spirit, so that no trace of us is left behind; and when you at length awaken to a purer life, we remain as sands and sparks, winds and waves remain. For we have no souls; the element animates us, it obeys us as long as we live, it ever scatters us as soon as we die; and we are gay without care, as are nightingales, and golden fish, and other lovely children of nature. But all would aim higher than they are; so my father, who is a mighty sea-prince in the Mediterranean, longed that his only daughter should possess a soul, even if therewith she gained the sorrows of those gifted with souls. But a soul can be obtained by our kind only by a union of deepest love with one of your race. Now have I a soul; I thank thee for my soul, O thou unspeakably beloved."
-- Undine: A Romance, by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque
IV. Let us turn now, O King, to the elements in themselves, that we may make clear in regard to them, that they are not gods, but a created thing, liable to ruin and change, which is of the same nature as man; whereas God is imperishable and unvarying, and invisible, while yet He sees, and overrules, and transforms all things.
Those then who believe concerning the earth that it is a god have hitherto deceived themselves, since it is furrowed and set with plants and trenched; and it takes in the filthy refuse of men and beasts and cattle. And at times it becomes unfruitful, for if it be burnt to ashes it becomes devoid of life, for nothing germinates from an earthen jar. And besides if water be collected upon it, it is dissolved together with its products. And lo! it is trodden under foot of men and beast, and receives the blood of the slain; and it is dug open, and filled with the dead, and becomes a tomb for corpses. But it is impossible that a nature, which is holy and worthy and blessed and immortal, should allow of any one of these things. And hence it appears to us that the earth is not a god but a creation of God.
I suspect that the origin of Gaia was separate from the origin of life. Gaia did not awaken until bacteria had already colonized most of the planet. Once awake, planetary life would assiduously and incessantly resist changes that might be adverse and act so to keep the planet fit for life....Thinking of the Earth as alive makes it seem, on happy days, in the right places, as if the whole planet were celebrating a sacred ceremony....
That is only what I feel about Gaia. What about God? I am too committed to the scientific way of thinking to feel comfortable when enunciating the Creed or the Lord's Prayer in a Christian Church. The insistence of the definition "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth" seems to anesthetize the sense of wonder, as if one were committed to a single line of thought by a cosmic legal contract. It seems wrong also to take it merely as a metaphor. But I respect the intuition of those who do believe, and I am moved by the ceremony, the music, and most of all by the glory of the words of the prayer book that to me are the nearest to perfect expression of our language....
Those millions of Christians who make a special place in their hearts for the Virgin Mary possibly respond as I do. The concept of Jahweh as remote, all-powerful, all-seeing is either frightening or unapproachable. Even the sense of presence of a more contemporary God, a still, small voice within, may not be enough for those who need to communicate with someone outside. Mary is close and can be talked to. She is believable and manageable. It could be that the importance of the Virgin Mary in faith is something of this kind, but there may be more to it. What if Mary is another name for Gaia? Then her capacity for virgin birth is no miracle or parthenogenetic aberration, it is a role of Gaia since life began. Immortals do not need to reproduce an image of themselves; it is enough to renew continuously the life that constitutes them. Any living organism a quarter as old as the Universe itself and still full of vigor is as near immortal as we ever need to know. She is of this Universe and, conceivably, a part of God. On Earth she is the source of life everlasting and is alive now; she gave birth to humankind and we are a part of her. This is why, for me, Gaia is a religious as well as a scientific concept, and in both spheres it is manageable....
In no way do I see Gaia as a sentient being, a surrogate God. To me Gaia is alive and part of the ineffable Universe and I am a part of her.
-- The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth, by James Lovelock
V. In the same way, again, those erred who believed the waters to be gods. For the waters were created for the use of man, and are put under his rule in many ways. For they suffer change and admit impurity, and are destroyed and lose their nature while they are boiled into many substances. And they take colours which do not belong to them; they are also congealed by frost and are mingled and permeated with the filth of men and beasts, and with the blood of the slain. And being checked by skilled workmen through the restraint of aqueducts, they flow and are diverted against their inclination, and come into gardens and other places in order that they may be collected and issue forth as a means of fertility for man, and that they may cleanse away every impurity and fulfil the service man requires from them. Wherefore it is impossible that the waters should be a god, but they are a work of God and a part of the world.
In like manner also they who believed that fire is a god erred to no slight extent. For it, too, was created for the service of men, and is subject to them in many ways:--in the preparation of meats, and as a means of casting metals, and for other ends whereof your Majesty is aware. At the same time it is quenched and extinguished in many ways.
Again they also erred who believed the motion of the winds to be a god. For it is well known to us that those winds are under the dominion of another, at times their motion increases, and at times it fails and ceases at the command of him who controls them. For they were created by God for the sake of men, in order to supply the necessity of trees and fruits and seeds; and to bring over the sea ships which convey for men necessaries and goods from places where they are found to places where they are not found; and to govern the quarters of the world. And as for itself, at times it increases and again abates; and in one place brings help and in another causes disaster at the bidding of him who rules it. And mankind too are able by known means to confine and keep it in check in order that it may fulfil for them the service they require from it. And of itself it has not any authority at all. And hence it is impossible that the winds should be called gods, but rather a thing made by God.
VI. So also they erred who believed that the sun is a god. For we see that it is moved by the compulsion of another, and revolves and makes its journey, and proceeds from sign to sign, rising and setting every day, so as to give warmth for the growth of plants and trees, and to bring forth into the air wherewith it (sunlight) is mingled every growing thing which is upon the earth. And to it there belongs by comparison a part in common with the rest of the stars in its course; and though it is one in its nature it is associated with many parts for the supply of the needs of men; and that not according to its own will but rather according to the will of him who rules it. And hence it is impossible that the sun should be a god, but the work of God; and in like manner also the moon and the stars.
Solar references began to proliferate in part 1 of Wandlungen, in the chapter entitled "The Song of the Moth." Here Jung attempted an analysis of a short romantic poem by Miller entitled "The Moth to the Sun." Jung interpreted this poem from a religious perspective, claiming that the longing of the moth for the "star" was in reality the longing of the poetess for God. Jung followed the chain of associations that led to the conclusion that God and star and sun are indeed one, but he went further. His interpretation brought him close to an idea that clearly obsessed him from 1910 until the end of his life: that God is not the distant, transcendent, absolute god of Judeo-Christianity, but instead is the libido that lives within us all.
In the second poem where the longing is clearly exposed it is by no means the terrestrial sun. Since the longing has been turned away from the real object, its object has become, first of all, a subjective one, namely, God. Psychologically, however, God is the name of a representation-complex which is grouped around a strong feeling (the sum of libido). Properly, the feeling is what gives character and reality to the complex. The attributes and symbols of divinity must belong in a consistent manner to the feeling (longing, love libido, and so on). If one honors God, the sun or the fire, then one honors one's own vital force, the libido. It is as Seneca says: God is near you, he is with you, in you. 
With this passage Jung echoes the testimonial literature of Pietism. Pietists such as Count Zinzendorf (mentioned in Wandlungen) and even Schleiermacher were profoundly interested in the experience of the "god within" as a burning fire. Jung inundates the reader with a dizzying array of similar metaphors of what one would find if one looked inward, claiming that "divine vision is often merely sun or light," and making repeated references to "the inner light, the sun of the other world." Jung even says, "Whoever has in himself God, the sun, is immortal, like the sun."  Page after page is filled with analyses of sun-hero myths, like those of Hellenistic paganism or of Teutonic heroes such as Siegfried and Arminius, with rebirth and redemption the eternally recurring themes. Even Christ is analyzed as a sun god and is therefore "identical" with these self-sacrificing Germanic hero-gods.
Near the end of part 1, Jung provides a statement by comparative philologist Ernest Renan, a former theological student who lost his faith through his philological researches and became a celebrity after writing the shocking Vie de Jesus in 1863, in which Jesus was treated as a historical figure and not as a god-man. His philological work led him and others to take the spiritual beliefs of pre-Christian peoples quite seriously and argue that the sun worship of ancient peoples was more consistent with a modem scientific world than Judeo-Christian orthodoxies. In the passage from Dialogues et fragments philosophiques (1876) that Jung cites, Renan made the following claim: "Before religion had reached the stage of proclaiming that God must be put into the absolute and ideal, that is to say, beyond this world, one worship alone was reasonable and scientific: that was the worship of the sun." 
-- The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung, by Richard Noll
VII. And those who believed of the men of the past, that some of them were gods, they too were much mistaken. For as you yourself allow, O King, man is constituted of the four elements and of a soul and a spirit (and hence he is called a microcosm), and without any one of these parts he could not consist. He has a beginning and an end, and he is born and dies. But God, as I said, has none of these things in his nature, but is uncreated and imperishable. And hence it is not possible that we should set up man to be of the nature of God:--man, to whom at times when he looks for joy, there comes trouble, and when he looks for laughter there comes to him weeping,--who is wrathful and covetous and envious, with other defects as well. And he is destroyed in many ways by the elements and also by the animals.
The fundamental principle, is the reconciliation of the opposites. We cannot choose one opposite over another. We must experience the relationship between the two and reconcile them into a higher synthesis. This does not mean to be in the middle. For instance, the proper balance between wealth and poverty is not the mathematical average between $1,000,000 and $1, i.e. $500,000. There are people who are poor at $1,000,000, others who are rich at $1. Reconciling the opposites is not that simple. It would be a great help if someone who has gone before us would describe the experience. What would he say of himself if he had reconciled the opposites? I AM the bread of life (John 6:35); I AM the light of the world (John 8:12); I AM the door of the sheepfold (John 10:7); I AM the good shepherd (John 10:11); I AM the resurrection and the life (John 11:25); I AM the way the truth and the life (John 14:6); I AM the true vine (John 15:1). "I AM" is the most powerful statement any person can make.
-- Reconciliation, Orientation and Unity, by Jack Courtis, Rosicrucian Archive
It is not the comments or harangues of unlearned and fanatical preachers that I have in my mind, but sermons of great and deserved celebrity, and divines whose learning, well-regulated zeal, and sound scriptural views are as honourable to the established church, as their piety, beneficence and blameless life, are to the Christian name, when I say that passages occur which might almost lead one to conjecture, that the authors had found the words, "I will come and join you," instead of, "I am in the midst of you," -- (Compare 1. John, III. 24) -- passages from which it is at least difficult not to infer, that they had interpreted the promise, as of a corporal co-presence, instead of a spiritual immanence ( ) as of an individual coming in or down, and taking a place, as soon as the required number of petitioners was completed! As if, in short, this presence, this actuation of the "I AM," () were an after-consequence, an accidental and separate result and reward of the contemporaneous and contiguous worshipping -- and not the total act itself, of which the spiritual Christ, one and the same in all the faithful, is the originating and perfective focal unity. Even as the physical life is in each limb and organ of the body, "all in every part;" but is manifested as life, by being one in all and thus making all one: even so with Christ, our Spiritual Life! He is in each true believer, in his solitary prayer and during his silent communion in the watches of the night, no less than in the congregation of the faithful; but he manifests his indwelling presence more characteristically, with especial evidence, when many, convened in his name, whether for prayer or for council, do through him become ONE.
-- On the Constitution of the Church and State, According to the Idea of Each; With Aids Toward a Right Judgment on the Late Catholic Bill, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Ibn Mansur Al Hallaj, the "Qu'ranic Christ," making the dangerous and fatal "ejaculation," 'ANA' L HAQ (I AM the Truth)
IF HALLAJ HAD SAID
"ALLAH AL HAZ -- GOD (IN HIS TRANSCENDENTAL ASPECT) IS THE
TRUTH, OR "HUWA AL HAQ" (HE IS THE TRUTH) IT WOULD HAVE BEEN
A COMMON STATEMENT. HOWEVER AL HALLAJ DECLARED THAT
GOD ALONE EXISTS: THEREFORE HE IS THE ONE SUBJECT AND THUS
HE ALONE CAN WITNESS HIS EXISTENCE.
-- Toward the One, by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan
Take the famous utterance, 'I am God.' Some men reckon it as a great pretension; but 'I am Gael' is in fact a great humility. The man who says 'I am the servant of God' asserts that two exist, one himself and the other God. But he who says 'I am God' has naughted himself and cast himself to the winds. He says, 'I am God': that is, 'I am not, He is all, nothing has existence but God, I am pure non-entity, I am nothing.' In this the humility is greater.
-- Discourses of Rumi, translated by A. J. Arberry
[Gozer] Are you a God?
-- Ghostbusters, directed by Ivan Reitman
When what we should term the historical age emerged from the twilight of tradition, the Ana were already established in different communities, and had attained to a degree of civilisation very analogous to that which the more advanced nations above the earth now enjoy. They were familiar with most of our mechanical inventions, including the application of steam as well as gas. The communities were in fierce competition with each other. They had their rich and their poor; they had orators and conquerors, they made war either for a domain or an idea. Though the various states acknowledged various forms of government, free institutions were beginning to preponderate; popular assemblies increased in power; republics soon became general; the democracy to which the most enlightened European politicians look forward as the extreme goal of political advancement, and which still prevailed among other subterranean races, whom they despised as barbarians, the loftier family of Ana, to which belonged the tribe I was visiting, looked back to as one of the crude and ignorant experiments which belong to the infancy of political science. It was the age of envy and hate, of fierce passions, of constant social changes more or less violent, of strife between classes, of war between state and state. This phase of society lasted, however, for some ages, and was finally brought to a close, at least among the nobler and more intellectual populations, by the gradual discovery of the latent powers stored in the all-permeating fluid which they denominate vril.
-- The Coming Race, by Edward Bulwer Lytton
Every individual says with the God of the Egyptian mysteries: "I am who I am," and stands before us a new, inscrutable, unfathomable thing.
-- The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, by Houston Stewart Chamberlain
Aham Brahmasmi. Translation: aham = I; Brahmasmi = am Brahman. Meaning: I am Brahman....It is an expression of "I am ness".... We can discern at least five different states of "I am ness" in beings (jivas). The fifth one is the state of "I am I am"....This is a pure state of "I am only". This is the indescribable state of Brahman in its absolute aspect....In Atman every experience is subjective. Atman does not interact with any object or use any external means to know or experience. It exists by itself and knows by itself. In contrast the experience of elemental self is objective....All is Brahman. There is nothing else other than Brahman. He is the cause of all causes. He is also called Atman. In reality there is no distinction between the two. Atman is another name of Brahman or a mental construct we use to make sense of Brahman as the self of individual beings. There may be many beings in the creation, but there is only one Brahman in all of them. During creation Brahman projects himself out as everything and at the end of creation withdraws everything into himself. The phenomenal world is unreal. It an illusion or an apparition, which disappears when we overcome our ignorance and realize the true state of Brahman.
-- Aham Brahmasmi, by Jayaram V, Hindu Website.com
The distinction between a Patriarch of Isis and of Memphis is apparently that between the Lesser and Greater Mysteries which were enacted in the world of the Delta. The Candidate testifies to the eternity of the universe, but above all of each human soul. His soul testifies to itself, in the words of "our ancient books": I am, I am one being: I am one.
-- The Ancient and Primitive Rite of Memphis and Misraim, Excerpts from "A New Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry," by Arthur Edward Waite
The author is reminded of William Dudley Pelley, the leader of the fascist Silver Shirts organization of the 1930s, who eventually abandoned organized Nazism and went on to help found the "I AM" movement: a cult that believes in ongoing human contact with alien space creatures, and Soulcraft, a similar movement. To Pelley, the "Aryans" are descendants of an alien Master Race.
-- Unholy Alliance: A History of Nazi Involvement with the Occult, by Peter Levenda
Some of the original members of the original Ascended Master Teachings religion, the "I AM" Activity, were recruited from the ranks of William Dudley Pelley’s organization the Silver Legion.
-- Silver Legion of America, by Wikipedia
THE term “New Age” was restricted, until the late 1960s, to a relatively narrow group of people, although the New Aeon concept has been present in esoteric circles from the beginning of the Twentieth Century. The popular culture of the 1960s brought the idea into focus for large numbers of people, which have continued to increase.
One of the first ventures beyond the immediate confines of the occult movement (which had a hard core of mere hundreds) was in Guy Warren Ballard’s I AM movement. The term I AM became, for many years, a kind of “cipher signal” held in common by those ‘in the know’ about the New Age movement. In the 1960s, the term I AM began to be replaced by the metaphysical cipher WE ARE ONE....
It is rumored that Ballard’s son Mark, who virtually disappeared during a period of legal trouble for his father, resurfaced as the famous trance channel Mark Prophet, one of the key players in the modern “New Age” movement.
I AM = 45 = NOT. I AM was replaced by the phrase WE ARE ONE = 112 = WHO AND WHAT I AM. It is also the value of Ballard’s student George Hunt Williamson’s magical name MARK III. WE ARE ONE also equals WORD OF THE LAW. NEW AGE = 79 = WILL KEY.
-- Secret Rituals of the Men in Black, by Allen Greenfield
And hence, O King, we are bound to recognize the error of the Barbarians, that thereby, since they did not find traces of the true God, they fell aside from the truth, and went after the desire of their imagination, serving the perishable elements and lifeless images, and through their error not apprehending what the true God is.
VIII. Let us turn further to the Greeks also, that we may know what opinion they hold as to the true God. The Greeks, then, because they are more subtle than the Barbarians, have gone further astray than the Barbarians; inasmuch as they have introduced many fictitious gods, and have set up some of them as males and some as females; and in that some of their gods were found who were adulterers, and did murder, and were deluded, and envious, and wrathful and passionate, and parricides, and thieves, and robbers. And some of them, they say, were crippled and limped, and some were sorcerers, and some actually went mad, and some played on lyres, and some were given to roaming on the hills, and some even died, and some were struck dead by lightning, and some were made servants even to men, and some escaped by flight, and some were kidnapped by men, and some, indeed, were lamented and deplored by men. And some, they say, went down to Sheol, and some were grievously wounded, and some transformed themselves into the likeness of animals to seduce the race of mortal women, and some polluted themselves by lying with males And some, they say, were wedded to their mothers and their sisters and their daughters. And they say of their gods that they committed adultery with the daughters of men; and of these there was born a certain race which also was mortal. And they say that some of the females disputed about beauty, and appeared before men for judgment. Thus, O King, have the Greeks put forward foulness, and absurdity, and folly about their gods and about themselves, in that they have called those that are of such a nature gods, who are no gods. And hence mankind have received incitements to commit adultery and fornication, and to steal and to practise all that is offensive and hated and abhorred. For if they who are called their gods practised all these things which are written above, how much more should men practise them--men, who believe that their gods themselves practised them. And owing to the foulness of this error there have happened to mankind harassing wars, and great famines, and bitter captivity, and complete desolation. And lo! it was by reason of this alone that they suffered and that all these things came upon them; and while they endured those things they did not perceive in their mind that for their error those things came upon them.