The Theology of Arithmetic: Number Symbolism in Platonism and Early Christianity

  Kalvesmaki, Joel. 2013. The Theology of Arithmetic: Number Symbolism in Platonism and Early Christianity. Hellenic Studies Series 59. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

5. Alternate Paths in theEarly Christian Theology of Arithmetic: Monoïmus and the Paraphrase of the “Apophasis Megale”

Although the Valentinians provided a great variety of theologies of arithmetic, they were in reality part of a general trend. In this chapter we turn to two unrelated systems, those of Monoïmus and the Paraphrase of the “Apophasis Megale,” both attested almost exclusively in Hippolytus’ Refutation of All Heresies. The two systems overlap in some of their ideas, but they are distinct. Each of them shares ideas with other systems Hippolytus discusses, and many of these parallels, particularly those relating to protology and arithmology, will be brought into my discussion as warranted. [1]


Hippolytus discusses Monoïmus’ system in a terse ninety-one line passage of his Refutation (8.12–15). A summary of that system is followed by an alleged letter from Monoïmus to a certain Theophrastus (8.15), perhaps a cover letter attached to the text Hippolytus used for his summary. Thanks to that summary we know that Monoïmus posited two principles, which he called primarily ἄνθρωπος and υἱὸς ἀνθρώπου, referred to in this chapter as ‘Human’ and ‘Son of Human,’ awkward epithets that at least convey their applicability to both genders. [4] For Monoïmus the metaphysical core of the world is a vertical pole, with the higher principle, Human, blending into the lower one, Son of Human (see Figure 5). Human is unbegotten, incorruptible, and eternal, whereas Son of Human is begotten, subject to passion, and generated without time, will, or prior determination. Human is to Son of Human as being is to becoming, a Platonic analogy that explains why—so Monoïmus argues—some passages of Scripture distinguish between ἦν ‘it was’ and ἐγένετο ‘it became’, presumably because Scripture also holds to these two principles. [5] Monoïmus extends the analogy further. Human is to Son of Human as fire is to light, since light is genera-ted concurrent with the fire’s existence, without time, will, or prior determination (8.12.4). Monoïmus calls Human the ‘one Monad’ (μία μονάς), which he describes with a series of paradoxes: he is incompositely composite, indivisibly divisible, friendly and combative to all, peaceful and belligerent to all, dissimilarly similar, and like a kind of musical harmony (8.12.5). The appeal to harmony is telling of the thrust of Monoïmus’ metaphysics, because in antiquity harmony was a kind of paradox, or even contradiction, since in it dissimilar tones were united. Thus Monoïmus’ highest entity is at once a simple unity and a repository of plurality.

kalvesmaki fig5

Figure 5. Depiction of the iota of Monoïmus. (Illustration by author.)

Monoïmus says that Human subsumes in himself all things, including contradictions and opposites. Three times he uses of Human the phrase μία μονάς, to describe Human’s ability to transcend contradiction (,–25, The epithet, like the metaphors, is a paradox. It employs number symbolism to illustrate how Human unites and reconciles two incommensurate realms. As shown by the Tetrads of Epiphanes and Marcus (and other evidence discussed in Excursus A), the terms μονάς and ἕν were frequently differentiated, with the μονάς residing in a plane metaphysically higher than the ἕν. The former, an ideal entity, usually generates the latter, instantiated through physical, countable objects. The existence of the ἕν, of course, depends upon that of the μονάς. Monoïmus’ term μία μονάς, then, draws upon this distinction (μία is the feminine form of ἕν). To the philosophically attuned, the term was as contradictory as ‘thought thinker’ or ‘becoming being,’ since it suggested the confluence of creator and creation, normally irreconcilable.

Monoïmus uses other paradoxes drawn from number symbolism and philosophical number theory. For instance, Human is both mother and father, and is described with both masculine and feminine nouns. This is the first system we have encountered that corresponds explicitly to the second of three Valentinian positions Irenaeus outlines concerning the Monad, namely that the Monad is androgynous, its own consort. Its androgyny extends to its role as Monad. As the source of numbers, and not a number proper, the Monad contains in itself potentially both odd and even, and therefore, by extension, female and male. This paradox is expressed best by the Greek letter iota, Monoïmus’ preferred symbol for Human, whose perfection is most evident in his identity as the one iota (ἰῶτα ἕν) or the one apex—‘apex’ here referring to the serif atop the iota (μία κεραία; 8.12.6, 8.13.1). The language comes from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5.18; see also Luke 16.17). Jesus’ distinction in the Gospel accounts between ‘iota’ and ‘apex’—the jot and the tittle—is to Monoïmus a veiled reference to a metaphysical structure. Like any good Christian exegete from this period, Monoïmus pursues the ramifications of that distinction, and he opts for the allographic component. The shape of the letter ἰῶτα reveals the relationship of Human to Son of Human (Figure 5). The iota and the apex are distinct but intertwined. The iota “is incomposite and simple” and yet is also composite and consists of many forms, shapes, and parts (8.12.6–7). “That single undivided object is the many-faced, myriad-eyed, and myriad-named single apex of the iota.” And that apex “is the image [εἰκών] of the perfect Human.” [6] For the analogy Monoïmus draws from the language of Paul. The apex as “the image of the perfect Human” alludes to Paul’s description in Colossians 1.15: “The Son is the image of the unseen God.” [7] In like manner, the iota and the apex are separate but interlocked. The former encompasses the latter, and the latter is the image of the former, language also used by the Tripartate Tractate. [8] Human is to Son of Human as the iota is to its apex.

The symbolism behind the allograph ι comes into play in his biblical exegesis, just as it does in his metaphysics. Monoïmus considers it significant that Moses uses his rod to generate exactly ten plagues. The shape of the rod in its variegated simplicity represents the iota and its apex. Because the iota resembles the fruitfulness of a vine, he says, it reflects the creation of the world (8.14.3). Monoïmus relates the striking action latent in the term Decaplague (δεκάπληγος)—Moses’ ten plagues, or “blows”—to the severing of the umbilical cord at birth. Ultimately, both are conducive to generation (8.13.4, citing Democritus, frag. 32). Indeed, Monoïmus later claims that the transformation of creation is actualized (ἐνεργεῖται) by the Decaplague (8.14.8). The Decalogue and the Pentateuch, too, are each derived from the numbers resident in the one apex. The Decalogue, just as the Decaplague, is based on the Decad, a portal for knowing the universe. The Pentateuch derives from the Pentad, also kept in the one apex (8.14.5).

The arithmology of Monoïmus is rather distinct from the Valentinian. The Pleroma, which dwells in the Son of Human, is made up not of aeons but of numbers, essentially the first Decad. Missing from his arithmology is any reliance upon syzygies or eights, both of which are centrally prominent in Valentinianism. Instead, the seven powers that emanate from the iota are undifferentiated and unnamed (or Hippolytus has uncharacteristically omitted this detail). Monoïmus’ numbers are channeled into the cube, icosahedron, octahedron, and pyramid—a model of creation inspired by the Timaeus—so as to produce the material world. This contrasts with Valentinian cosmologies, which were less committed to the Timaeus. Another difference is that Monoïmus’ numbers are agents of transformation, a process pleasing to God since it helps rescue people from deception. In Valentinianism, numbers do not play this active a role in salvation. Finally, the sparse protology of Monoïmus, who propounds only two “aeons”—Human and Son of Human—resembles the simpler, earlier forms of Valentinianism, witnessed in the Gospel of Truth and the Tripartate Tractate. The names Human and Son of Human, one derived from the other, match this metaphysical simplicity. [28] Accordingly, Monoïmus can be described as being monadic, not dyadic, in his protology. But his Monad is androgynous and therefore in no need of a consort. Monoïmus’ pure monism serves the purposes of Hippolytus, since it lets him place both Monoïmus and Pythagoïmus in the line of Pythagoras, who, Hippolytus is convinced, was the arch-monist.

Monoïmus’ use of interdependent number and letter symbolism suggests an affinity with Marcus. But Marcus, despite the complexity of his Revelation, does not show the sublimity seen in Monoïmus’ simple but thoughtful identification of the iota and its apex with Human and Son of Human. Monoïmus, unlike Marcus, explores the theological significance of an allograph, the ι, his preferred way to illustrate the nature of God. He was an unusual theologian who tried to fuse in the physical symbol of the letter and numeral ι a range of philosophical and religious perspectives: a simple, “binitarian”-like theology, Moses’ account of creation, Plato’s cosmogony, and Aristotle’s categories. In his attempt to collapse all of philosophy and scripture into a single letter-cum-numeral, Monoïmus is unique.

The Paraphrase of the “Apophasis Megale”

Figure 6. Partial depiction of the theology of the Paraphrase of the “Apophasis Megale.” Arrows indicate actions; darkened stems, lines of generation. (Illustration by author.)

The numerically inspired doctrine of syzygies is central to the Paraphrase’s exegesis of Scripture, and it gives the number symbolism some prominence. Deutero-Simon brings to the creation account of Genesis his doctrine of the six powers and the Thrice-Standing. To begin, he assigns to each of the six powers key parts of creation: Mind and Thought are heaven and earth. Just as Mind oversees and guards his consort, Thought (who, in turn, receives his seed), so the masculine heaven looks down upon earth, which receives that which heaven sends down. Voice and Name are the sun and moon, and Reason and Consideration are the air and water (6.13). He then mentions the Thrice-Standing, calling it the seventh power, and thereby associates it with the seventh day, “the cause of the good things praised by Moses,” who said “very good” (καλὰ λίαν;, citing Genesis 1.31 LXX). The only time “very good” is used in Genesis 1 is at the end of the sixth day, to summarize the creation. Days one through five are called merely “good.” Deutero-Simon’s point is that κατὰ λίαν distinguishes the six days of creation from the Sabbath, the day that perfects the goodness of the previous six. Likewise, the Thrice-Standing is the cause of goodness in the six powers. Deutero-Simon continues his extended comparison of creation and the powers, but with uneven results. He says that the three days that occur before the creation of the sun and moon (i.e. Voice and Name) refer to the first syzygy (Mind and Thought) and the seventh day of creation (6.14.2). [50]

Deutero-Simon applies number symbolism to other biblical texts as well. For instance, he differentiates the garden of paradise from Eden, in line with his tendency to identify binary pairs (6.14.7–8). The first, the garden of paradise, is a womb, as Isaiah says, “I am the one who fashioned you in the womb of your mother” (Isaiah 44.2, 24). The second, Eden, is a membrane, afterbirth, and navel, since it is “a river proceeding out of Eden to water paradise” (Genesis 2.10). The four springs that flow out of Eden resemble the four channels that are attached to the embryo. Two of these convey breath (or spirit, depending on how we take πνεῦμα) and two, blood. [51] The four rivers of Genesis further symbolize how the embryo has only four of the five senses—sight, hearing, smell, and taste. These four senses, in this, the classical sequence, are alluded to by the titles and content of each of the first four books of the Pentateuch. Genesis is sight, Exodus hearing, Leviticus smell, and Numbers taste (6.15.2–6.16.3). [52] The fifth sense, touch, is addressed by the title of the fifth book, Deuteronomy, which is geared to formed children, to confirm and summarize their other four senses. [53] Thus deutero-Simon synthesizes into his theory of sense perception two very different biblical numbers: four (the number of rivers in paradise) and five (the number of books in the Pentateuch). This uneven treatment of the senses may be inspired by Plato’s Timaeus, where taste, smell, hearing, and sight are treated as a quartet, separate from touch, and in the same order, albeit in reverse. If so, then Deutero-Simon, like Monoïmus, wanted to engage contemporary philosophers and the cultural elite.

Nothing suggests that the Paraphrase, Monoïmus, or the Valentinians depended on one another for their number symbolism. Nor did they need to. Numerical theology was a broad trend in late second- and early third-century Christianity, not restricted to any one movement. It included Christians who, inspired by neo-Pythagoreanism and Platonism, developed an arithmetically shaped mythology to provoke and persuade both churchmen and the cultural elite of a transcendent vision. Numerous theologies of arithmetic circulated, the Valentinian ones being the best preserved. Some models tried to preserve in their metaphysical narrative a simple or pure philosophical idea. Some tried to synthesize competing models. Others combined protologies eclectically, with no regard for reconciling contradictions. Every system presents a story of how the highest entity (or entities, if a Dyad) generated mathematically patterned multiplicity. In most of these systems numbers were repeatedly used to interpret the Bible, the natural world, and even social conventions such as grammar and names. In this they were working with techniques of arithmological interpretation familiar in the Greco-Roman world. But familiarity did not entail plausibility. Orthodox Christians argued for another way.


[ back ] 1. I sequester the so-called Naasenes, who open the fifth book of Hippolytus’ treatise. Like Monoï-mos, the Naasenes held to a “binitarian” system (Human–Son of Human; cf. Refutation of All Heresies 5.6.4 with 8.12.2) and quoted from Orphic hymns (cf. 5.7.38 [plus refs. in the fontes of Marcovich’s edition] with 8.12.1). Like the Paraphrase, the Naasenes also used the Apophasis Megale (cf. 5.9.5 with 6.9.4, 6.11.1, and 6.14.6), related fire to desire (cf. 5.8.16 with 6.17.4), deployed trees and their fruit as a metaphor (cf. 5.8.31 with 6.9.9–10 and 6.16.6), and interpreted anthropologically the rivers of Eden (cf. 5.9.14–18 [plus refs.] with 6.14.8 and 6.15.1–6.16.4). All three groups celebrate ‘mother’ and ‘father’ as paradoxical epithets of a single divine entity (cf. 5.6.4–5 [plus refs.] with 6.17.3 and 8.12.5). In a pair of articles that are still profitably read (1882, 1887), Salmon argued for a school of Ophites, of which Monoïmos was a part. This view of the makeup of the Orphites has been altered, but not settled, by Frickel 1968 and Rasimus 2005. The Naasenes, as well as the Orphites, who follow them in Book 5, diverge substantially from the two systems discussed in this chapter in metaphysics and number symbolism. An investigation of those aspects, beyond the individual parallels discussed below, should be reserved for a study where they can be examined and treated as a whole.

[ back ] 2. Compendium of Heretical Fables 1.18 (PG 83.369B).

[ back ] 3. Dillon summarizes the evidence for the name Monimos (1987:865). I thank Irfan Shahid for the suggestion of the Arabic name. The earliest attestations of Mun ͑im are most frequently Safaitic. See Harding 1971:569, s.v. “MN ͑M.”

[ back ] 4. On Man/Human as a title for a deity, see Dillon 1992:106–107 and Schenke 1962.

[ back ] 5. Genesis 1.2–3; John 1.1–4, 6, 9–10. See below for further discussion of Monoïmus’ appropriation of Plato’s Timaeus.

[ back ] 6. Refutation of All Heresies 8.12.6–7: ὑποδείματος δὲ χάριν, τοῦ τελείου ἀνθρώπου <τούτου> κατα-νόει, φησί, <τὴν> μεγίστην εἰκόνα <ὡς> “ἰῶτα ἕν,” τὴν “μίαν κεραίαν”· ἥτις ἐστὶ [κεραία μία] ἀσύνθετος, ἁπλῆ, μονὰς εἰλικρινής, ἐξ οὐδενὸς ὅλως τὴν σύνθεσιν ἔχουσα· <καὶ αὖ> συνθετή, πολυειδής, πολυσχιδής, πολυμερής. ἡ ἀμερὴς ἐκείνη μία <μονάς>, φησίν, ἐστὶν ἡ πολυπρόσωπος καὶ μυριόμματος καὶ μυριώνυμος μία τοῦ ἰῶτα κεραία, ἥτις ἐστὶν εἰκὼν τοῦ τελείου ἀνθρώπου ἐκείνου, τοῦ ἀοράτου.

[ back ] 7. Monoïmus: ἥτις ἐστὶν εἰκὼν τοῦ τελείου ἀνθρώπου ἐκείνου, τοῦ ἀοράτου. Paul: ὅς [= υἱός, 1.13] ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου.

[ back ] 8. E.g. NH 1.5:116.28.

[ back ] 9. I accept the δύναμις γὰρ αὐτῇ τὸ ῑ of the manuscript at Refutation of All Heresies against Marcovich’s reading δύναμις γὰρ αὕτη το‹ῦ› ἰῶτα. The term ἰῶτα implies a letter, not a numeral. Marcovich’s reading is hard to reconcile with the normal senses of δύναμις and the arithmological discussion. ῑ refers to the numeral, more suitable to the context, not that this completely clarifies a convoluted passage. See also n. 10 below.

[ back ] 10. Refutation of All Heresies (Marcovich) 8.13.1: Ἔστιν οὖν, φησίν, ἡ ‹μία› μονάς, ἡ μία κεραία, καὶ δεκάς· δύναμις γὰρ αὕτη το‹ῦ› ἰῶτα, τῆς μιᾶς κεραίας, “ἐν ᾗ ἐστιν ἡ παντὸς ἀριθμοῦ ὑπόστασις· μονὰς” καὶ δυὰς καὶ τριὰς καὶ τετρὰς καὶ πεντὰς καὶ ἑξὰς καὶ ἑπτὰς (καὶ) ὀγδοὰς καὶ ἐν‹νε›ὰς μέχρι τῶν δέκα. Marcovich’s third emendation (underlined) is excessive for three reasons. It breaks up the chain of entities (one Monad, one apex, Decad, Dyad, Triad, Tetrad, etc.), it suggests that the Monad begets the Monad, and it classifies the Monad as a complex (πολυσχιδής, line 5) number. By my reconstruction of Monoïmus’ system, the text of Refutation of All Heresies–4 should read: Ἔστιν οὖν, φησίν, ἡ ‹μία› μονάς, ἡ μία κεραία, καὶ δεκάς (δύναμις γὰρ αὐτῇ τὸ ῑ) τῆς μιᾶς κεραίας, καὶ δυὰς καὶ τριὰς καὶ τετρὰς καὶ πεντὰς καὶ ἑξὰς καὶ ἑπτὰς (καὶ) ὀγδοὰς καὶ ἐν‹νε›ὰς μέχρι τῶν δέκα.

[ back ] 11. αἱ γὰρ τοιαῦται τῶν ἀριθμῶν συνθέσεις, reading τοιαῦται of the manuscript against Wendland’s τοσαῦται (1916).

[ back ] 12. Theology of Arithmetic in Photius Bibliotheque 187:144a25–27.

[ back ] 13. See Stead 1969:80, depending upon On Flight and Finding 95–96. But that passage could be understood to mean one prime power that governs five subpowers.

[ back ] 14. Förster 1999:185–186.

[ back ] 15. Plato Timaeus 55a–56b.

[ back ] 16. See also p. 131 below.

[ back ] 17. On ten as a perfect number, see p. 54n78 above.

[ back ] 18. Exodus 12.15–20.

[ back ] 19. Or the elements (στ<οιχ>εῖα) of creation, if we adopt Marcovich’s emendation of Hippolytus’ Refutation of All Heresies

[ back ] 20. Marcovich 1986:23.

[ back ] 21. And of sense-perceptible things, if Wendland’s emendation at is correct (1916).

[ back ] 22. The author need not be Monoïmus himself. At Refutation of All Heresies 8.14.9, Hippolytus summarizes the preceding summary of Monoïmus’ doctrine by referring to “these men,” which suggests a circle in which Monoïmus traveled.

[ back ] 23. Commentators in late antiquity took the order of the categories seriously; see Chiaradonna 2009. The list of categories at 6.24.2 is identical to that at 8.14.9 (although see the note at line 49 in Marcovich’s edition [1986:335]), but different from that at 1.20.1 in the placement of quality, quantity, position, and state. The first two passages, by Monoïmus and Pythagoïmus respectively, further corroborate the closeness of the two authors, and their possible reliance on Eudorus, who may have been the first to arrange the categories in this order. See Dillon, who notes that Philo consciously uses a different order of Aristotle’s categories (1996:134–135 and 178–180).

[ back ] 24. See e.g. pseudo-Archytas’ Ten Universal Categories, ed. Thesleff 1965:3–8.

[ back ] 25. [ὁ θεός μου,] ὁ νοῦς μου, ἡ διάνοιά μου, ἡ ψυχή μου, τὸ σῶμά μου· Marcovich excludes the phrase “my God,” but against the manuscript and at the expense of Monoïmus’ metaphysical hierarchy, as explained here.

[ back ] 26. Pythagoïmus, at Refutation of All Heresies 6.24.3–4, on the five senses; Clement of Alexandria presents man as possessing a decalogue of faculties, composed of two quintets (Stromateis 6.134.2). See pp. 101 and 128–136 below.

[ back ] 27. εὑρήσεις αὐτὸν ἐν <σ>εαυτῷ, ἓν <ὄντα> καὶ πολλά, κατὰ τὴν κεραίαν ἐκείνην <τὴν μίαν>.

[ back ] 28. Monoïmus’ scheme, or a related one, seems to have crept into Epiphanius’ account of Colarbasus (Panarion 35.2.4–12), whom he accuses of giving to the Father the name Human, on the basis of the Savior’s saying he was the Son of Human. None of the rest of Epiphanius’ discussion of Colarbasus can be attributed to Monoïmus (or to Colarbasus, for that matter), since the system it describes is an advanced variation of Valentinianism.

[ back ] 29. The best full-length study on Simon Magus is Heintz 1997. More recent but less helpful, in part because it does not interact with Heintz’s study, is Haar 2003.

[ back ] 30. Frickel 1968.

[ back ] 31. Exceptions to this tendency are Mansfeld 1992:166–177 and Edwards 1997.

[ back ] 32. τοῦτο τὸ γράμμα Ἀποφάσεως φωνής καὶ ὀνόματος ἐξ ἐπινοίας τῆς μεγάλης δυνάμεως τῆς ἀπεράντου; trans. Mansfeld 1992:173n56.

[ back ] 33. Cf. the undatable Hermetic fragment 28, cited by Cyril of Alexandria Against Julian 1.46.10–19, although far from deutero-Simon’s near-technical use. See also Hermetic fragment 26. Hippolytus’ terminology is not everywhere consistent. At Refutation of All Heresies and, the Infinite Power is called the Great Power.

[ back ] 34. Acts 8.10: Οὗτός ἐστιν ἡ δύναμις τοῦ θεοῦ ἡ καλουμένη Μεγάλη. Literally, “the power of God, so-called Great.”

[ back ] 35. The very charge Hippolytus makes at 6.14.1.

[ back ] 36. See e.g. Aristotle Metaphysics 1081–1083, where the ἀόριστος δυάς is discussed. In the Pythagorean tradition influenced by Philolaus, it is chiefly “infinites” or “unlimiteds” (ἄπειρα) that correspond to the dyad and to even numbers.

[ back ] 37. For my distinction “between numbers and numerable things” I depart from Marcovich’s Greek text, which describes the two parts of the fire: Τοιούτου δὲ ὄντος, ὡς δι᾽ ὀλίγων εἰπεῖν, κατὰ τὸν Σίμωνα τοῦ πυρός, καὶ πάντων τῶν ‹μερῶν αὐτοῦ,› ὄντων ὁρατῶν καὶ ἀοράτων, ἐνήχων καὶ ‹ἀν›ήχων, ἀριθμητῶν καὶ ‹ἀν›αρίθμων, ‹φρόνησιν ἐχόντων›—ὧν αὐτὸς ἐν τῇ Ἀποφάσει τῇ μεγάλῃ καλεῖ τελείων νοερῶν—, [οὕτως ὡς] ἕκαστον τῶν ἀπειρά(κι)ς ἀπείρων ‹μερῶν ἐπιδέχεται› ἐπινοηθῆναι ‹ὡς› δυνάμενον καὶ λαλεῖν καὶ διανοεῖσθαι καὶ ἐνεργεῖν, οὕτως ὡς, φησίν, Ἐμπεδοκλῆς ‹λέγει› (6.11.1). Part of the problem with Marcovich’s restoration (which follows Wendland 1916) is that ἄνηχος, although sensible as an antonym of ἔνηχος, is unattested in Greek literature. His rendition of the third pair, ἀριθμητῶν and ‹ἀν›αρίθμων, does not create the clear-cut opposites he seems to intend, evident in their translation “countables and innumerables”: one could have countable things that are too numerous to count, such as grains of sand. The manuscript without emendation—ἀριθμητῶν καὶ ἀρίθμων—makes sense to me. It draws from an idea popularized by Moderatus of Gades (fragment 2) and Theon of Smyrna (Mathematics Useful for Reading Plato 19.18–20.2), and further attested in Plotinus Ennead 6.6.9: numbers constitute a metaphysical order higher than countable things. For Theon, the monad is to numbers as the ἕν is to countables. See Excursus A. Note, too, that deutero-Simon’s first pair is a contrast not so much of opposites as of metaphysical superior and dependent, illustrated in the analogy of fire at 6.9.6. At 6.11.1 is a list not of opposites but of correlative, hierarchical pairs. Thus, ἐνήχων καὶ ἤχων needs no emendation. A voice, after all, can be treated as the metaphysical superior to things heard, and the relationship of voice to sound mirrors that of number to countable object.

[ back ] 38. On “root” as a theological metaphor in gnosis, see Attridge and Pagels 1985:23.217–218.

[ back ] 39. The LXX version of Daniel, unlike the Theodotian version (the latter supplanted the former in the ancient Church, unique to Daniel), emphasizes a single root’s being left on the tree. Daniel 4.15 LXX: καὶ οὕτως εἶπε Ῥίζαν μίαν ἄφετε αὐτοῦ ἐν τῇ γῇ, ὅπως μετὰ τῶν θηρίων τῆς γῆς ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσι χόρτον ὡς βοῦς νέμηται. It seems that LXX Daniel formed the basis of deutero-Simon’s interpretation, which starts with Nebuchadnezzar’s tree, but grafts onto it the teachings found elsewhere (especially the early gospels: Matthew 3.10, 7.19; Luke 3.9; Gospel of Philip 123) concerning trees.

[ back ] 40. For textual parallels to this phrase in Hippolytus and other works see Marcovich 1986:214, note to line 5. See also M. Williams 1985.

[ back ] 41. At, the Thrice-Standing seems to be conflated with the Infinite Power: εἶναι δὲ ἐν ταῖς ἓξ ῥίζαις ταύταις πᾶσαν ὁμοῦ τὴν ἀπέραντον δύναμιν δυνάμει, οὐκ ἐνεργείᾳ, ἥντινα ἀπέραντον δύναμιν ‹εἶναί› φησι τὸν ἑστῶτα ‹στάντα› στησόμενον. But this identification depends upon Marcovich’s insertion of εἶναί and στάντα. Note that the text omits the second “standing” (στάντα), the one stage when the Thrice-Standing is away from the Infinite Power. The verb to be understood here is perhaps not εἶναι but ἔχειν, an emendation that would highlight the Thrice-Standing’s two stages that are in the presence of the Infinite Power. At 6.14.2, however, deutero-Simon identifies the Infinite Power with the seventh power, which he calls the Thrice-Standing at The account at 6.14.2 may depend upon a passage in the Apophasis Megale that calls the Thrice-Standing “infinite” by virtue of its special relationship to the Infinite Power. At any rate, 6.17.1 articulates the distinction: “having stood” (ἑστώς) is in the unbegotten power, “standing” (στάς) is in its image, and “will be standing” (στησόμενος) will be alongside the Infinite Power. At 6.14.3 is repeated the idea that the seventh power, another epithet for the Thrice-Standing, exists in the Infinite Power. On balance, then, the Thrice-Standing and the Infinite Power are distinct entities.

[ back ] 42. 6.14.2: ἐγὼ καὶ σὺ ἕν· <τὸ> πρὸ ἐμοῦ σύ, τὸ μετὰ σὲ ἐγώ. See Marcovich 1986:222–223, note to line 10 for numerous close, but inexact, parallels in other ancient texts. See also Clement of Alexandria Stromateis 2.25.2.

[ back ] 43. αὕτη, φησίν, ἐστὶ<ν ἡ> δύναμις μία, διῃρημένη <δ’> ἄνω κάτω, αὑτὴν γεννῶσα, αὑτὴν αὔξουσα, αὑτὴν ζητοῦσα, αὑτὴν εὑρίσκουσα, αὑτῆς μήτηρ οὖσα, αὑτῆς πατήρ, αὑτῆς ἀδελφή, αὑτῆς σύζυγος, αὑτῆς θυγάτηρ, αὑτῆς υἱός, [μήτηρ, πατήρ,] ἓν οὖσα.

[ back ] 44. Other early Christian traditions refer to a standing god or other entity, but these beings function somewhat differently from each other and from the Paraphrase. See M. Williams 1985:37–38, 57.

[ back ] 45. I take as objective (and not subjective) the genitives in δύο εἰσὶ παραφυάδες τῶν ὅλων αἰώνων.

[ back ] 46. Note now the late introduction of the classic Valentinian name for the second aeon.

[ back ] 47. The Infinite Power has no limit (ἀπέραντος), and the gap has no limit (μήτε πέρας ἔχοντα):

[ back ] 48. 6.18.6: ὡς οὖν αὐτὸς ἑαυτὸν ἀπὸ ἑαυτοῦ προαγαγὼν ἐφανέρωσεν ἑαυτῷ τὴν ἰδίαν ἐπίνοιαν.

[ back ] 49. Compare the Barbelo-Gnostic protology, p. 59 above.

[ back ] 50. It is unclear how the seventh Power, earlier assigned to the Sabbath, can now consistently represent one of the first three days of creation.

[ back ] 51. See Pouderon 2005. Deutero-Simon integrates into his theology common beliefs about the fetus. In other parts of the Paraphrase of the “Apophasis Megale” the breath/spirit is seen as the higher aspect in ἄνθρωπος (Hippolytus Refutation of All Heresies 6.14.6), and the seventh power itself, as the image of the Infinite Power (6.14.4). The blood is fire, the sources of things begotten (6.17.4). Just as the root of all bifurcates into shoots (6.18.2–7, discussed above), so does the blood, into semen in men and milk in women (6.17.6).

[ back ] 52. Compare Refutation of All Heresies 5.9.13–18, the parallel account of the Naasenes.

[ back ] 53. At the manuscript reads: ὅρασιν, ἀκοήν, ὄσφρησιν, γεῦσιν καὶ ἁφήν. Marcovich renders it: ὅρασιν, [ἀκοήν,] γεῦσιν, ὄσφρησιν καὶ ἁφήν. But his emended text contravenes the order of the senses presented at 6.15.2–6.16.4: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. This latter order follows exactly that of Plato Timaeus 61–67 (intentionally reversed); Chrysippus, frags. 827, 836 (SVF 2:226–227); Aetius Placita 4.9.10 (= Stobaeus Eclogae 1.50.27 [Wachsmuth and Hense 1894:476]); and others (see e.g. Lampros 1895:2.17, no. 4212.72). The same order is preserved in the independent but parallel accounts at Irenaeus Against Heresies 1.18.1 and Hippolytus Refutation of All Heresies 5.9.16–18, where the first four are assigned, in that order, to the four rivers. Because these parallel texts omit touch, so as to match the symbolism of four, it is likely that the Paraphrase of the “Apo-phasis Megale” does so as well at My intuition is justified by an observation made much earlier by Salles-Dabadie 1969:28n17, the only modern editor to seclude καὶ ἁφήν: in deutero-Simon’s system the fifth book of the Torah is called Deuteronomy to supply to an already formed child—presumably after birth—touch, the capstone of the senses (Hippolytus Refutation of All Heresies 6.16.3): Δευτερονόμιον δὲ τὸ πέμπτον βιβλίον, ὅπερ, φησίν, ἐστὶ πρὸς τὴν ἁφὴν τοῦ πεπλασμένου παιδίου γεγραμμένον. ὥσπερ γὰρ ἡ ἁφὴ τὰ ὑπὸ τῶν ἄλλων αἰσθήσεων ὁραθέντα θιγοῦσα ἀνακεφαλαιοῦται καὶ βεβαιοῖ, σκληρὸν ἢ γλίσχρον, ἢ θερμὸν ἢ ψυχρὸν δοκιμάσασα, οὕτως τὸ πέμπτον βιβλίον τοῦ νόμου ἀνακεφαλαίωσίς ἐστι τῶν πρὸ αὐτοῦ γραφέντων τεσσάρων. Thus, καὶ ἁφήν at was inadvertently inserted at the list’s end, where many such scribal intrusions occur, and the text should read ὅρασιν, ἀκοήν, ὄσφρησιν, ‹καὶ γεῦσιν› [καὶ ἁφήν]. For departures from the canonical order of the senses, see p. 129n20 below.

[ back ] 54. “Seemingly” because the latter phrase occurs in Hippolytus’ discussion of the “Phrygians,” but just before an explicit reference to the Apophasis Megale. Hippolytus may have introduced the phrase in anticipation of the section to come in Book 6.

[ back ] 55. See Marcovich 1986:217n7 for an extensive list of comparative references.