Jun 19, 1996 06:02 AM
>I think HPB had more respect for Irenaeus' representation of
>Gnosticism then she did for many of the other ante-nicean
>fathers. She seems to feel that his summaries of Gnostic
>Doctrine were honest--that is, his intention was to fairly
>represent those doctrines, and that he was on the whole
>successful in doing so. On the other hand, she finds fault with
>his understanding of some of the more obscure doctrines, which we
>know little of even today.
I agree. When I read HPB, I think that someone could have a different
opinion, so I wanted to talk about Irenaeus'work to make this point clear.
You reproduce BOOK III, chapter VII (start page 256, and final page 296)
page 267. "Ecclesiastical history assures us that Christ's ministry was
but of three years' duration. There is a decided discrepancy on this
point between the first three synoptics and the fourth gospel;
..the argument of Ptolemaeus was that Jesus was too
young to have taught anything of much importance; adding that
Christ preached for one year only, and then suffered in the
twelfth month. In this Ptolemaeus was very little at variance
with the gospels. But Irenaeus, carried by his object [went] far
beyond the limits of prudence, from a mere discrepancy between
one and three years, makes it ten and even twenty years!"
Could you give the references in gospels that prove that synoptics and
John'gospel has a "decided discrepancy" about duration of Jesus'ministry?
I couldn't find such discrepancy.
Really HPB is correct in her quotations about Irenaeus.
IRENAEUS AGAINST HERESIES BOOK II.CHAP. XXII.--THE THIRTY AEONS ARE NOT
TYPIFIED BY THE FACT THAT CHRIST WAS BAPTIZED IN HIS THIRTIETH YEAR: HE DID
NOT SUFFER IN THE TWELFTH MONTH AFTER HIS BAPTISM, BUT WAS MORE THAN FIFTY
YEARS OLD WHEN HE DIED. we can find the wholly text in http://ccel.wheaton.edu/fathers/
Irenaeus conclude that Jesus was more than fifty years old when he
died, from gospel "For when the Lord said to them, "Your father
Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad," they answered Him, "Thou
art not yet fifty years old, and hast Thou seen Abraham?" Now, such language is fittingly
applied to one who has already passed the age of forty, without having as yet reached his
fiftieth year, yet is not far from this latter period".
But Irenaeus' argument is wrong. Josephus Antiquities Book 18
4W02|G089 So Vitellius sent Marcellus, a friend of his, to take care of the
affairs of Judea, and ordered Pilate to go to Rome, to answer before the
emperor to the accusation of the Jews. So Pilate, when he had tarried ten
years in Judea, made haste to Rome, and this in obedience to the orders of
Vitellius, which he durst not contradict; but before he could get to Rome,
Tiberius was dead.
6W05|G177 And, as a farther attestation to what I say of the dilatory nature
of Tiberius, I appeal to this his practice itself; for although he was emperor
twenty-two years, he sent in all but two procurators to govern the nation of
the Jews,---Gratus, and his successor in the government,Pilate.
you can find this text in http://ccel.wheaton.edu/bible/
So Pilate governed Judae during last ten years of emperor Tiberius, that
governed during twenty-two years 14-37AD. As gospels says that Jesus was
dead under Pilate, so he died before 37AD. Matthew2:19 says that Jesus
born near Herode's death, that ocurred around 4BC. So Jesus'life is below
37+4=41 years. Luke3:1 describes Jesus'baptism under 15th year of Tiberius
that is 29AD, at this time Jesus was around 30 years old Luke3:23. So
Jesus'ministry was below 41-30=11 years (if started at his baptism).
The question that HPB ommits is the reason presented by Ptolomeus to
believe that Jesus preached only one year. Irenaeus explain:
"1. I have shown that the number thirty fails them in every respect; too few AEons, as they
represent them, being at one time found within the Pleroma, and then again too many [to
correspond with that number]. There are not, therefore, thirty AEons, nor did the Saviour
come to be baptized when He was thirty years old, for this reason, that He might show forth
the thirty silent(3) AEons of their system, otherwise they must first of all separate and eject
[the Saviour] Himself from the Pleroma of all. Moreover, they affirm that He suffered in the
twelfth month, so that He continued to preach for one year after His baptism; and they
endeavour to establish this point out of the prophet (for it is written, "To proclaim the
acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of retribution"(4)), being truly blind,
inasmuch as they affirm they have found out the mysteries of Bythus, yet not
understanding that which is called by Isaiah the acceptable year of the Lord, nor the day of
retribution. For the prophet neither speaks concerning a day which includes the space of
twelve hours, nor of a year the length of which is twelve months. For even they themselves
acknowledge that the prophets have very often expressed themselves in parables and
allegories, and [are] not [to be understood] according to the mere sound of the words."
Ireneaus correctly conclude that Jesus ministry could not be only of one
year because gospels relates several passages that ocurred at passover,
a jewish date that occurs only one time by year. "after His baptism the Lord
went up, at the time of the passover, to Jerusalem...after He had made the
water wine at Cana of Galilee, He went up to the festival day of the passover...
Afterwards He went up, the second time, to observe the festival day of the
passover(2) in Jerusalem; on which occasion He cured the paralytic man...Then,
when He had raised Lazarus from the dead,and plots were formed against Him by the Pharisees,
He withdrew to a city called Ephraim; and from that place, as it is written
"He came to Bethany six days before the passover,"
So, HPB ommits that Ptolomeaus and others were wrong when they associate
the one year of Jesus ministry with Aeons'description. HPB is right when she says
"But Irenaeus, carried by his object [went] far beyond the limits of
prudence, from a mere discrepancy between one and three years, makes it ten
and even twenty years!".
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application