Friday, December 26, 2014

ANF 5: Hippolytus IX.XIII-XXVI

Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 5

HippolytusThe Refutation of All Heresies

Here Hippolytus surveys the different shades of Judaism. Way back in the day, all Jews followed Moses. But then they crossed the Jordan and got themselves a nation, and all manner of legal interpretations of the Mosaic law sprung up. Today, "there is a division amongst them into three sorts:" the Pharisses, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. About these last, Hippolytus has some very nice things to say:
These practice a more devotional life, being filled with mutual love and being temperate. And they turn away form every act of inordinate desire, being averse even to hearing of things of the sort.
Though they shun marriage, they do adopt children and welcome women into their number. They live in communes and share all possessions among themselves. These communes are scattered across the region. They are rigorous in their practice, though there are a number of shades of sects within their broad belief system.
But, while they do believe in the Resurrection, they also hold to certain teachings of the Pythagoreans, Stoics, and Egyptian teachers. They also tend towards prophecy and prognostication.

The Pharisees are a sect of the Essenes who do marry but who are still rigorous about the law. These tend to have some orthodox doctrines, but tend towards fatalism and legalism.

The Sadducees deny both the resurrection and the immortality of the soul, though they still strive to be moral--largely because they believe this is your only chance to do so. They also tend to strive after worldly riches, because again this is all you'll get. They acknowledge only the first five books of the Old Testament as Scripture.

The Jews in general acknowledge God as "Creator and Lord of the universe," but they tend to stop there. They do wish to serve and honor this Creator, but are still waiting on the Messiah, and in doing so have actually missed him. At this point, it can only be shame at missing and even executing the Messiah that keeps them from seeing the truth in their own Scriptures, at least according to Hippolytus. In part this is because they only read the apocalyptic prophecies about the rule of the King over a worldly Kingdom.

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