"Tonight, at St. Paul's, one night only, St. Irenaeus' special, 'O, Silly Valentinians!'"
“Tonight, at St. Paul’s, one night only, St. Irenaeus’ special, ‘O, Silly Valentinians!'”

Irenaeus of Lyons seems like he was a witty fellow. If there are pubs in the age to come, where we can go to have a beer in the new creation, then I want to go have a drink with Irenaeus. I think he would be hilarious.

He mocks the Valentinians’ use of Scripture as being like some who deconstructs a mosaic made of beautiful jewels depicting a king who in turn reconstructs a picture of a dog or a fox thinking it is the same thing:

“Their manner of acting is just as if one, when a beautiful image of a king has been constructed by some skillful artist out of precious jewels, should then take this likeness of the man all to pieces, should rearrange the gems, and so fit them together as to make them into the form of a dog or of a fox, and even that but poorly executed; and should then maintain and declare that this was the beautiful image of the king which the skillful artist constructed, pointing to the jewels which had been admirably fitted together by the first artist to form the image of the king, but have been with bad effect transferred by the latter one to the shape of a dog, and by thus exhibiting the jewels, should deceive the ignorant who had no conception what a king’s form was like, and persuade them that that miserable likeness of the fox was, in fact, the beautiful image of the king. In like manner do these persons patch together old wives’ fables, and then endeavor, by violently drawing away from their proper connection, words, expressions, and parables whenever found, to adapt the oracles of God to their baseless fictions. We have already stated how far they proceed in this way with respect to the interior of the Pleroma.” (Against Heresies, 1.8.1)

Irenaeus' Pleroma (or, Veggie Tales...you decide!)
Irenaeus’ Pleroma (or, Veggie Tales…you decide!)

Later he jokes about the novelty of the gnostics by inventing his own pantheon of deities with names like “gourd”, “melon”, and “cucumber”:

“There is a certain Proarche, royal, surpassing all thought, a power existing before every other substance, and extended into space in every direction. But along with it there exists a power which I term a Gourd; and alongwith this Gourd there exists a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd and Emptiness, since they are one, produced (and yet did not simply produce, so as to be apart from themselves) a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable, and delicious, which fruit-language calls a Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a Melon. These powers, the Gourd, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth the remaining multitude of the delirious melons of Valentinus.For if it is fitting that that language which is used respecting the universe be transformed to the primary Tetrad, and if any one may assign names at his pleasure, who shall prevent us from adopting these names, as being much more credible [than the others], as well as in general use, and understood by all?” (Against Heresies, 1.11.4)

Advertisements