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Thursday, May 15th, 2014

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Gimme that OLD-time religion
So, I'm reading Irenaeus of Lyons' On the Apostolic Preaching, which is very interesting. This is an outline of the Christian faith as it was understood c. 177 AD. On the one hand, it's amazing how fully formed it is. The trinitarianism is very evident, even though the great dogmas about the nature of God had yet to be worked through. It's also obvious that, while Irenaeus knows his New Testament -- or what would eventually become the New Testament -- he's getting most of his apologetics from the Old Testament. Very different from today's Christians, many of whom rarely crack the OT, and who find it difficult to see Christ therein.

Another thing caught my attention today. In explaining the creation of the world, Irenaeus says that there are seven heavens around this world -- a concept I had not thought to be dominant until the end of Antiquity and the start of the Middle Ages. This astronomical understanding he then relates to the seven forms of service the Holy Spirit inspires (as given in Isaiah!) and finally to the seven-branched candlestick Moses made -- because he was told to make everything after the pattern he saw on the mountain of God, and the seven heavens, both astronomical and spiritual, are the pattern of the heavens.

On this, as on other things I note for their connection with the Gentile mental world, I wish I knew what the Rabbis around the time of Jesus were thinking, so I could compare. I really need to read me some Talmud and other rabbinical writings.

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