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Chapter XXXVIII.—The Teachings of the Greek Poets and Philosophers Confirmatory of Those of the Hebrew Prophets.

But what matters it whether they were before or after them? Certainly they did at all events utter things confirmatory of the prophets. Concerning the burning up of the world, Malachi the prophet foretold: “The day of the Lord cometh as a burning oven, and shall consume all the wicked.” 629 And Isaiah: “For the wrath of God is as a violent hail-storm, and as a rushing mountain torrent.” 630 The Sibyl, then, and the other prophets, yea, and the poets and philosophers, have clearly taught both concerning righteousness, and judgment, and punishment; and also concerning providence, that God cares for us, not only for the living among us, but also for those that are dead: though, indeed, they said this unwillingly, for they were convinced by the truth. And among the prophets indeed, Solomon said of the dead, “There shall be healing to thy flesh, and care taken of thy bones.” 631 And the same says David, “The bones which Thou hast broken shall rejoice.” 632 And in agreement with these sayings was that of Timocles:—

“The dead are pitied by the loving God.”

And the writers who spoke of a multiplicity of gods came at length to the doctrine of the unity of God, and those who asserted chance spoke also of providence; and the advocates of impunity confessed there would be a judgment, and those who denied that there is a sensation after death acknowledged that there is. Homer, accordingly, though he had said,—

“Like fleeting vision passed the soul away,” 633

says in another place:—

“To Hades went the disembodied soul;” 634

And again:—

“That I may quickly pass through Hades’ gates,
Me bury.” 635

And as regards the others whom you have read, I think you know with sufficient accuracy how they have expressed themselves. But all these things will every one understand who seeks the wisdom of God, and is well pleasing to Him through faith and righteousness and the doing of good works. For one of the prophets whom we already mentioned, Hosea by name, said, “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.” 636 He, then, who is desirous of learning, should learn much. 637 Endeavour therefore to meet [with me] more frequently, that, by hearing the living voice, you may accurately ascertain the truth.



Mal. iv. 1.


Isa. xxx. 30.


Prov. iii. 8.


Ps. li. 8.


Od., xi. 222.


Il., xvi. 856.


xxiii. 71.


Hos. xiv. 9.


We have adopted the reading of Wolf in the text. The reading of the mss. is, “He who desires to learn should desire to learn.” Perhaps the most satisfactory emendation is that of Heumann, who reads φιλομυθεῖν instead of φιλομαθεῖν: “He who desires to learn should also desire to discuss subjects, and hold conversations on them.” In this case, Theophilus most probably borrows his remark from Aristotle, Metaphysic. i. c. 2.

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