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p. 183

Chapter LX.—Plato’s doctrine of the cross.

And the physiological discussion 1889 concerning the Son of God in the Timæus of Plato, where he says, “He placed him crosswise 1890 in the universe,” he borrowed in like manner from Moses; for in the writings of Moses it is related how at that time, when the Israelites went out of Egypt and were in the wilderness, they fell in with poisonous beasts, both vipers and asps, and every kind of serpent, which slew the people; and that Moses, by the inspiration and influence of God, took brass, and made it into the figure of a cross, and set it in the holy tabernacle, and said to the people, “If ye look to this figure, and believe, ye shall be saved thereby.” 1891 And when this was done, it is recorded that the serpents died, and it is handed down that the people thus escaped death. Which things Plato reading, and not accurately understanding, and not apprehending that it was the figure of the cross, but taking it to be a placing crosswise, he said that the power next to the first God was placed crosswise in the universe. And as to his speaking of a third, he did this because he read, as we said above, that which was spoken by Moses, “that the Spirit of God moved over the waters.” For he gives the second place to the Logos which is with God, who he said was placed crosswise in the universe; and the third place to the Spirit who was said to be borne upon the water, saying, “And the third around the third.” 1892 And hear how the Spirit of prophecy signified through Moses that there should be a conflagration. He spoke thus: “Everlasting fire shall descend, and shall devour to the pit beneath.” 1893 It is not, then, that we hold the same opinions as others, but that all speak in imitation of ours. Among us these things can be heard and learned from persons who do not even know the forms of the letters, who are uneducated and barbarous in speech, though wise and believing in mind; some, indeed, even maimed and deprived of eyesight; so that you may understand that these things are not the effect of human wisdom, but are uttered by the power of God.



Literally, “that which is treated physiologically.”


He impressed him as a χιασμα, i.e., in the form of the letter χ upon the universe. Plato is speaking of the soul of the universe. [Timæus, Opp., vol. ix. p. 314. And see note of Langus (p. 37) on p. 113 of Grabe. Here crops out the Platonic philosopher speaking after the fashion of his contemporaries, perhaps to conciliate his sovereign. See Professor Jowett’s Introduction to the Timæus, which will aid the students.]


Num. xxi. 8.


Τὰ δὲ τρίτα περὶ τὸν τρίτον.


Deut. xxxii. 22.

Next: Chapter LXI.—Christian baptism.