This article in the New York Times describes the work of Dennis McCarthy who used plagiarism software to discover a source mined by Shakespeare. It seems that the Bard used a book by George North, A Brief Discourse on Rebellion and Rebels. The book had been nearly lost to history, when Mr. McCarthy came upon a clue (and you’ll have to read the article yourself to find out how this happened, or everything they discovered).
I liked this bit
One of the most compelling [evidences that Shakespeare used the book] is Jack Cade, who led a failed popular rebellion against Henry VI in 1450. Shakespeare describes Cade’s final days in “Henry VI, Part 2,” in which he says he was starving and eating grass, before he was finally caught and dragged through the street by his heels, his body left to be eaten by crows. Scholars have long thought that Shakespeare invented these details, but all of them are present in a passage from North’s “Discourse” in which he inveighs against Cade and two other famous rebels. Mr. McCarthy and Ms. Schlueter argue that Shakespeare used those details to make Cade into a composite of the three.
What I like about it is how certain scholars can be of a certain “fact” and hold this fact for many, many years — and it turns out that this fact about the most famous writer of the last 1,000 years, whose work has been ransacked for evidence of every thought was wrong. I just wonder how many facts we are certain of which are simply wrong. Our ignorance is proof of our conclusion.
The book itself looks like an interesting read (especially to see how Shakespeare reworked the source material).
I saw this on social media today. This is good example of misleading argument:
My favorite part of the Kavanaugh controversy is how people who are absolutely convinced they know exactly what happened in Judea 2,000 years ago have gaslit many Americans into believing it is literally impossible to know what happened at an event in 1983.
Here, our correspondent has misstated both the Christian position on the resurrection and the argument respecting an alleged event involving Judge Kavanaugh.
It is inaccurate to say that anyone is certain of everything which happened in Judea during the life of Jesus. No one claims to have comprehensive knowledge of the time and place. In terms of total facts, far more is unknown than known. The Christian position is that the facts which are known are sufficient to draw certain factual conclusions (such as the Resurrection).
The circumstance involving Judge Kavanaugh differs on the facts available at this time. If the only two facts are one person asserting X and another asserting not-X and there are no other facts, then drawing a conclusion is impossible on that basis alone. The difficulty with Kavanaugh’s case is a lack of a sufficiently detailed allegation (the X, and not-X are not even sufficiently defined) and a lack of evidence beyond the ultimate conclusion.
There are a number of facts which could easily lead to a definite conclusion. For instance, there were a definite statement of date, time and place, one could conclude that the event was more or less probable.
Thus, if the alleged event (again, I have no idea as to the truth, because I do not have a sufficient number of facts from which to draw a conclusion. Anyone who has had access to the publicly available statements “knows” anything is simply wrong.) took place on Date 1 and Kavanaugh was in another Michigan on that date, it is not likely that he took a jet home for this bad act and then returned without notice.
We can look to other corroborating facts: It is reported (goodness knows what has actually been said, this whole story is awash in false statements and nonsense). Are there witnesses? What do they say? Have the witnesses or alleged actors given consistent or inconsistent statements? Etc.
The Resurrection is quite different: it is a conclusion based upon a very definite statement and supported by substantial supporting evidence.
Indeed, the fundamental reason to question the Resurrection is not the evidence but the strangeness of the event. If the Resurrection were a normal historical event, it would be unquestioned.
But what about the passage of years?
As we move further from an event, the number of facts recoverable will lessen. If there are witnesses, the memory of witnesses will fade [I will make a note on eyewitness testimony below.] Witnesses will also become unavailable over the course of time (either through death or becoming lost to interview by moving or whatnot).
Physical facts will also diminish over time (duration will depend upon the nature of the artifact).
How does this not adversely affect the Christian claim?
Christians are not trying to recover facts from 2,000 years. The facts were established and recorded at that time. We are not trying to establish that information today for the first time. The 2,000 years misstates the salient fact of time.
Let’s consider an example: Imagine we have access to a trial transcript from 1940. The events underlying the trial took place one year earlier. If we were to speak of what happened in 1939, the time period between fact and conclusion is 1 year – not 78 years.
In Kavanaugh’s case we are trying to recover facts for the first time 35 years after the event (the 2012 notes are problematic at best. Even the accuser says the notes are wrong).
What about eyewitness testimony? Isn’t it unreliable?
Yes, and no. Eyewitness testimony about stressful events which took place at one time and over a short period of time are very often wrong – often wildly wrong. Crime victims routinely give flawed testimony about the criminal event: they are stressed, confused; their attention is misdirected; they try to reconstruct the event and make numerous errors in the recreation.
The Kavanaugh event concerns eyewitness testimony about an extremely stressful event. An important fact, which may weigh in favor of the accuser is whether she knew Kavanaugh prior to the event. If this was their first (alleged) interaction, she would more easily misidentify him. If they had been friends for years, she does not need to describe his appearance for the first time.
Compare that to testimony about normal events. You know would likely give excellent testimony about the color of your car, the number windows in your bedroom, the number of drawers in your dresser, how often you get paid for work, et cetera. Routine, repeated, normal events are fundamentally different than trying to remember what it was like to be robbed.
On this point, we should note that information obtained in therapy of a long unexpressed painful event which (supposedly) is causing significant bad effects in the present has a reputation for uncovering things which never occurred. Moreover, patients routinely lie to therapists and clients lie to lawyers (I’m not saying always; but it happens enough that it is not a strange thing).
Christianity is based upon claims from multiple witnesses about an event with corroborating physical evidence. For instance, if anyone had been able to produce Jesus’ body in Jerusalem, it would have stopped Christianity at its birth (Crossan’s claim that it was eaten by dogs is silly. Someone could have just said, we say dogs eat it. No one made that claim until Crossan – which a claim which suffers from the 2,000 year distance).
What about prejudice?
The Kavanaugh accusation is a great example of the policy behind Evidence Code section 352. The code essentially forbids the introduction of evidence which would prejudice a juror more than it would inform a juror. For example, let us say the defendant is a gang member charged with a particular crime. In most instances, the jury would never hear about the gang membership. If they heard he was a gang member, they would be more likely to find him guilty because he was in a gang than because he engaged in this particular bad act.
The people who speak confidently about what happened in the Kavanaugh case typically betray a personal prejudice (I was assaulted, therefore, she was telling the truth; I was falsely accused, therefore, she is lying; I hate/adhere to Kavanaugh’s judicial philosophy, therefore, ….).
Most of the people providing their opinion of the event have voiced personal prejudice: their opinion is worthless as to the truth of the accusation.
Well, weren’t the Apostles prejudiced in favor of Jesus? That misstates the issue. They were seriously prejudiced against the possibility of Jesus being resurrected from the dead in the manner in which he did (N.T. Wright’s Resurrection covers the evidence here exhaustively). Their prejudice makes it unlikely they would mistakenly believe Jesus had been resurrected.
What about reputation and motivation?
This does have some bearing. One who has a history of lying, might lie more easily than others. But no amount of lying before proves one is lying as to the instant assertion. No amount of prior conduct proves anything about conduct on one particular instance.
With Kavanaugh, the parties both have strong reasons to tell the truth; and they both have significant motive to lie. In fact, the pressure of examination is likely to cause each party to dig in their heels to insist upon their position (recanting has become more costly than the alternative – especially since the possibility of suffering penalty is minimal in this event). (There are event plausible scenarios under both believe that they are each telling the truth.)
This is a point which weighs very heavily in favor of the apostolic witness. They all suffered greatly (most often to death) for their testimony.
But don’t people die for false believes all the time?Yes, but that isn’t the case here.
Consider three scenarios:
1) Alleged Historical Event Z – never happened.
2) P1 who relates Z to P2.
3) P1 has lied to P2.
4) P2 believes P1
5) P2 dies based upon the false belief related by P1.
1) Historical Event Z.
2) Witnessed by P1.
3) P1 knows, based upon personal experience that Z took place.
4) P1 dies for Z.
1) Alleged Historical Event Z.
2) P1 knows it never happened.
3) P1 claims that Z happened.
4) P1 is challenged with death over Z.
5) P1 personally knows that Z is false.
6) P1 recants to stay alive.
People will recant things they believe to be true to save their life. It would be a remarkable day indeed for someone to go to death for a fact which they personally knew was false.
In conclusion, an analogy between Judge Kavanaugh’s circumstance and the Resurrection is poorly drawn.
As for the Judge and his accuser. I honestly have no definite idea what happened. I am not even certain what facts and accusation have been established. I have read any number of assertions made confidentially by people who are in no position to know any more than I do. I have seen a great deal of gossip, slander and vicious stupidity. (Apparently, there have been significant death threats made against almost everyone involved.)
I have seen that bias and prejudice have more importance than any consideration of evidence (not to say burden of proof — which is critical in this instance).
This political tempest is very sad; it has often been wicked; and I fear no matter how it ends, the result will be a further deterioration of our social fabric.
This is a verse in the Bible which is used routinely to taunt believers: the Bible says you can sell you child as a slave:
7 And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do.
Exodus 21:7(AV). Newer translations have the word “slave” in place of maidservant. For instance, the television show the West Wing, the President character says: “I’m interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in Exodus 21 : 7. She’s a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?”
Admittedly, selling a child sounds horrible to an affluent, well fed family. So let’s think about this for a moment: if we assume that Israelites loved their children as much as we do, we must assume that sending a child out of the home would be only undertaken in the most extraordinary circumstances.
Remember that there was no welfare state at that time. Most people lived in subsistence agriculture. The threat of starvation was real and likely constant.
But someone will say, that is just unrealistic; that does not happen. But today I read this:
Julian Pitt-Rivers, a British anthropologist who published a classic study of a traditional Andalusian community in the early 1950s, wrote that it was common in the rural south for children from impoverished families to be sent to the mountains to look after sheep and goats in exchange for money.
Let us consider again the passage in Exodus 21:7. First, we must remember that the covenant promised material wealth — if the people of Israel fulfilled their requirements under the covenant. Thus, poverty was the result of sin. We must also realize that there was a framework of kinship and other mechanisms built into the law to prevent poverty. Thus, for any family to become so destitute that Exodus 21:7 was a reality spoke to a serious degradation of society overall.
The law was not given to save anyone-Israel was never a kingdom of saints. The Bible makes it plain the people were repeatedly in vicious, sinful rebellion.
Next consider that the purpose of the passage is not approve or condone selling one’s children as slaves/servants (in a subsistence economy even the well-off live miserable lives). The purpose of the law was alleviate the damage which could come even in this wretched state. This passage is a matter of protection, a command to stop the sin and brutality. It was a limitation not a grant of authority.
The previous summary of Theophilus may be found here.
Having responded to the accusations of Christians by first noting what the pagans actually espouse, Theophilus turns to what Christians actually believe and espouse. He begins with the law:
Now we also confess that God exists, but that He is one, the creator, and maker, and fashioner of this universe; and we know that all things are arranged by His providence, but by Him alone. And we have learned a holy law; but we have as lawgiver Him who is really God, who teaches us to act righteously, and to be pious, and to do good.
Theophilus of Antioch, “Theophilus to Autolycus,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Marcus Dods, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 113–114. In the following words, he lays out a summary of the Ten Commandments together with a brief summary of the giving of the law.
Next he notes that Christians have an obligation to care for the stranger, “Ye shall not afflict a stranger; for ye know the heart of a stranger: for yourselves were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Christians have the need to repent — which is a grace given by God. Christians must live lives of chastity. In these ways, Christians are very counter-cultural; for even those who seem to espouse such tremendous concerns of immigrants don’t really have a record of living among those people. I suspect that for many immigrants are merely a pawn or a weapon in a political calculation.
His summary of the Christian life includes a discussion of righteousness. This section is interesting at the present time as Christians debate the matter of “social justice”. It is interesting to note the ways in which his summary draws on some of the concerns of our time and yet does not follow our current concerns. Since it is timely, I will quote it at length:
Moreover, concerning the righteousness which the law enjoined, confirmatory utterances are found both with the prophets and in the Gospels, because they all spoke inspired by one Spirit of God. Isaiah accordingly spoke thus: “Put away the evil of your doings from your souls; learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” And again the same prophet said: “Loose every band of wickedness, dissolve every oppressive contract, let the oppressed go free, and tear up every unrighteous bond. Deal out thy bread to the hungry, and bring the houseless poor to thy home. When thou seest the naked, cover him, and hide not thyself from thine own flesh. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily, and thy righteousness shall go before thee.”1 In like manner also Jeremiah says: “Stand in the ways, and see, and ask which is the good way of the LORD your God, and walk in it and ye shall find rest for your souls. Judge just judgment, for in this is the will of the LORD your God.” So also says Hosea: “Keep judgment, and draw near to your God, who established the heavens and created the earth.” And another, Joel, spoke in agreement with these: “Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children that are in arms; let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet, and pray to the LORD thy God urgently that he may have mercy upon you, and blot out your sins.” In like manner also another, Zachariah: “Thus saith the LORD Almighty, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassion every man to his brother; and oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, nor the stranger; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart, saith the LORD Almighty.”
What I find most interesting in Theophilus’s defense of Christianity on this point is that it does not draw on anything from his culture. While he is engaging his world, he is not using the then-current culture to support his position. It is simply, this is what we are.
And so he summarizes his defense as to what Christians supposedly do and say:
But far be it from Christians to conceive any such deeds; for with them temperance dwells, self-restraint is practised, monogamy is observed, chastity is guarded, iniquity exterminated, sin extirpated, righteousness exercised, law administered, worship performed, God acknowledged: truth governs, grace guards, peace screens them; the holy word guides, wisdom teaches, life directs, God reigns. Therefore, though we have much to say regarding our manner of life, and the ordinances of God, the maker of all creation, we yet consider that we have for the present reminded you of enough to induce you to study these things, especially since you can now read [our writings] for yourself, that as you have been fond of acquiring information, you may still be studious in this direction also.
Evidence of the role of extraterrestrial viruses in affecting terrestrial evolution has recently been plausibly implied in the gene and transcriptome sequencing of Cephalopods. The genome of the Octopus shows a staggering level of complexity with 33,000 protein-coding genes more than is present in Homo sapiens (Albertin et al., 2015). Octopus belongs to the coleoid sub-class of molluscs (Cephalopods) that have an evolutionary history that stretches back over 500 million years, although Cephalopod phylogenetics is highly inconsistent and confusing (see Carlini et al., 2000; Strugnell et al., 2005, 2006, 2007; Bergmann et al., 2006). Cephalopods are also very diverse, with the behaviourally complex coleoids, (Squid, Cuttlefish and Octopus) presumably arising under a pure terrestrial evolutionary model from the more primitive nautiloids. However the genetic divergence of Octopus from its ancestral coleoid sub-class is very great, akin to the extreme features seen across many genera and species noted in Eldridge-Gould punctuated equilibria patterns (below). Its large brain and sophisticated nervous system, camera-like eyes, flexible bodies, instantaneous camouflage via the ability to switch colour and shape are just a few of the striking features that appear suddenly on the evolutionary scene. The transformative genes leading from the consensus ancestral Nautilus (e.g. Nautilus pompilius) to the common Cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) to Squid (Loligo vulgaris) to the common Octopus (Octopus vulgaris, Fig. 5) are not easily to be found in any pre-existing life form – it is plausible then to suggest they seem to be borrowed from a far distant “future” in terms of terrestrial evolution, or more realistically from the cosmos at large. Such an extraterrestrial origin as an explanation of emergence of course runs counter to the prevailing dominant paradigm.
“How this assembly of galaxies got so big, so fast is a mystery,” Tim Miller, a doctoral candidate at Yale University and lead author of one of the papers, said in the statement. “It wasn’t built up gradually over billions of years, as astronomers might expect. This discovery provides a great opportunity to study how massive galaxies came together to build enormous galaxy clusters.”
Theophilus makes an interesting move, because he seeks to pry his reader (Autolycus) his prejudice; notice the move here:
Nor indeed was there any necessity for my refuting these, except that I see you still in dubiety about the word of the truth. For though yourself prudent, you endure fools gladly. Otherwise you would not have been moved by senseless men to yield yourself to empty words, and to give credit to the prevalent rumor wherewith godless lips falsely accuse us, who are worshippers of God, and are called Christians,
This comes immediately after Theophilus has made the point that Hebrew prophets wrote of what they knew — as opposed to the poets who have no reason for their belief. He then turns to the accusations against the Christians. These accusations seem to come from both Christian use of the concept of “family” and the Lord’s Supper wildly distorted through rumor of a group not well understood:
alleging that the wives of us all are held in common and made promiscuous use of; and that we even commit incest with our own sisters, and, what is most impious and barbarous of all, that we eat human flesh.
Finally, it is the apparent newness of Christianity that seems to be a trouble:
But further, they say that our doctrine has but recently come to light, and that we have nothing to allege in proof of what we receive as truth, nor of our teaching, but that our doctrine is foolishness. I wonder, then, chiefly that you, who in other matters are studious, and a scrutinizer of all things, give but a careless hearing to us. For, if it were possible for you, you would not grudge to spend the night in the libraries
Then in the next several chapters, Theophilus recounts instances of Heathen poets and philosophers espousing the very things of which the Christians had been (falsely) accused (such as cannibalism and holding wives in common). Following that, he again recounts the contradictory opinions of the poets on matters the gods:
And one can see how inconsistent with each other are the things which others, and indeed almost the majority, have said about God and providence. For some have absolutely cancelled God and providence; and others, again, have affirmed God, and have avowed that all things are governed by providence. The intelligent hearer and reader must therefore give minute attention to their expressions; as also Simylus said: “It is the custom of the poets to name by a common designation the surpassingly wicked and the excellent; we therefore must discriminate.” As also Philemon says: “A senseless man who sits and merely hears is a troublesome feature; for he does not blame himself, so foolish is he.” We must then give attention, and consider what is said, critically inquiring into what has been uttered by the philosophers and the poets.
And also the depravity of the gods:
They who elaborated such a philosophy regarding either the non-existence of God, or promiscuous intercourse and beastly concubinage, are themselves condemned by their own teachings. Moreover, we find from the writings they composed that the eating of human flesh was received among them; and they record that those whom they honour as gods were the first to do these things.
Theophilus of Antioch, “Theophilus to Autolycus,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Marcus Dods, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 113.
(Goya, Saturn Devours His Son)
Theophilus of Antioch makes an important point in his reason with Autolycus: and it is a point which can be easily missed when we speak of people from the ancient world. There is a sort of prejudice against those from another time or another place — particularly those from the past — they are merely credulous, thoughtless beasts. Now the New Testament explicitly denies such things: Luke gives us his credentials in the introduction to his Gospel. John in his Gospel takes pains to explain that he was there and personally saw and heard the things he reports. Yes, the things they report of Jesus are remarkable — but that is part of the argument.
Theophilus pits the Scriptures — and he in particular is writing of the Old Testament prophets –against philosophers and poets as follows:
For it was fit that they who wrote should themselves have been eye-witnesses of those things concerning which they made assertions, or should accurately have ascertained them from those who had seen them; for they who write of things unascertained beat the air.
Theophilus of Antioch, “Theophilus to Autolycus,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Marcus Dods, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 111. If you don’t know what you’re speaking about, you merely “beat the air”: you’re just making noise.
And if we don’t know, can’t know, if a thing is true; then what is the point? What does it profit?
For what did it profit Homer to have composed the Trojan war, and to have deceived many; or Hesiod, the register of the theogony of those whom he calls gods; or Orpheus, the three hundred and sixty-five gods, whom in the end of his life he rejects, maintaining in his precepts that there is one God?
He goes on to explain that they contradict themselves — and one another. They cannot maintain consistency. I heard John Frame in a lecture explain that any understanding which is not ultimately anchored in reality will always have one pole in irrationality. Greek thought was a mess, a shambles: and if one looked at the product of the thought, it was easy to see that it could not be true. Oh sure, there were buildings and armies: but what of the depravity it produced? Surely human beings are meant for more than that.
For either they made assertions concerning the gods, and afterwards taught that there was no god; or if they spoke even of the creation of the world, they finally said that all things were produced spontaneously. Yea, and even speaking of providence, they taught again that the world was not ruled by providence. But what? Did they not, when they essayed to write even of honourable conduct, teach the perpetration of lasciviousness, and fornication, and adultery; and did they not introduce hateful and unutterable wickedness? And they proclaim that their gods took the lead in committing unutterable acts of adultery, and in monstrous banquets.
For who does not sing Saturn devouring his own children, and Jove his son gulping down Metis, and preparing for the gods a horrible feast, at which also they say that Vulcan, a lame blacksmith, did the waiting; and how Jove not only married Juno, his own sister, but also with foul mouth did abominable wickedness
Theophilus of Antioch, “Theophilus to Autolycus,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Marcus Dods, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 112.
Theophilus next commences with a long discussion of the Creation. It is interesting that he takes Creation as the great distinction between the pagan and Christian worldviews. Interestingly, Peter Jones makes exactly the same distinction as the “bedrock” for the difference between Christianity and other positions:
In either case, here we reach rock bottom. Either the transcendent Creator— one God in the unending interpersonal life and love of the Trinity— is at the origin of everything created and sustains it all, or the universe itself, in all its seeming variety, is all there is. And in either case, whether we worship nature or the Maker of nature, we are dealing with a statement of faith and an expression of worship. We cannot step out of the universe to find an objective point of view. We must make a faith decision between these two alternatives— and there are only two. If God and nature make up reality, then all is two, and everything is either Creator or creature. On the other hand, if the universe is all there is, then all is one.
This choice is exemplified in the stark separation between two points of perspective: that of the Bible, and that of Camille Paglia, a contemporary philosopher. The Bible begins by saying: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth [i.e., nature]” (Gen 1: 1). Paglia begins her book Sexual Personae very differently: “In the beginning was Nature.” [footnote] These two views of reality have always existed, but because we have lived for centuries in a Christian environment, the reemerging conflict startles us. Paglia wrote what she did in conscious opposition to the perspective on the world put forth in Genesis. Christian thinking starts not with Paglia’s view of existence but with that of the Bible.
Robert Sokolowski, a professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of America, puts it this way:
Christian theology is differentiated from pagan religious and philosophical reflections primarily by the introduction of a new distinction, the distinction between the world, understood as possibly not having existed, and God, understood as possibly being all that there is, with no diminution of goodness or greatness.
Jones, Peter (2015-06-24). The Other Worldview: Exposing Christianity’s Greatest Threat (Kindle Locations 252-267). Kirkdale Press. Kindle Edition.
In making this argument, Theophilus relies heavily upon the text of Scripture, quoting out long sections of Genesis as argument. A few observations about Theophilus’ rendition of the creation account. First, he gives the rationale for the creation of human beings:
And first, they taught us with one consent that God made all things out of nothing; for nothing was coeval with God: but He being His own place, and wanting nothing, and existing before the ages, willed to make man by whom He might be known; for him, therefore, He prepared the world. For he that is created is also needy; but he that is uncreated stands in need of nothing.
Theophilus of Antioch, “Theophilus to Autolycus,” in Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire), ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, trans. Marcus Dods, vol. 2, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 97–98.
Second, he does engage in some allegorizing of the text. This is not in contrast to the “literal” meaning, which he takes as a given, but as an additional layer of meaning. For example:
And we say that the world resembles the sea. For as the sea, if it had not had the influx and supply of the rivers and fountains to nourish it, would long since have been parched by reason of its saltness; so also the world, if it had not had the law of God and the prophets flowing and welling up sweetness, and compassion, and righteousness, and the doctrine of the holy commandments of God, would long ere now have come to ruin, by reason of the wickedness and sin which abound in it. And as in the sea there are islands, some of them habitable, and well-watered, and fruitful, with havens and harbours in which the storm-tossed may find refuge,—so God has given to the world which is driven and tempest-tossed by sins, assemblies6—we mean holy churches7—in which survive the doctrines of the truth, as in the island-harbours of good anchorage; and into these run those who desire to be saved, being lovers of the truth, and wishing to escape the wrath and judgment of God. And as, again, there are other islands, rocky and without water, and barren, and infested by wild beasts, and uninhabitable, and serving only to injure navigators and the storm-tossed, on which ships are wrecked, and those driven among them perish,—so there are doctrines of error—I mean heresies8word of truth; but as pirates, when they have filled their vessels,9 drive them on the fore-mentioned places, that they may spoil them: so also it happens in the case of those who err from the truth, that they are all totally ruined by their error.
Theophilus of Antioch, 100. He also sees the period of testing in Paradise as analogous to a Father raising a child:
The tree of knowledge itself was good, and its fruit was good. For it was not the tree, as some think, but the disobedience, which had death in it. For there was nothing else in the fruit than only knowledge; but knowledge is good when one uses it discreetly. But Adam, being yet an infant in age, was on this account as yet unable to receive knowledge worthily. For now, also, when a child is born it is not at once able to eat bread, but is nourished first with milk, and then, with the increment of years, it advances to solid food. Thus, too, would it have been with Adam; for not as one who grudged him, as some suppose, did God command him not to eat of knowledge. But He wished also to make proof of him, whether he was submissive to His commandment. And at the same time He wished man, infant as he was,4 to remain for some time longer simple and sincere. For this is holy, not only with God, but also with men, that in simplicity and guilelessness subjection be yielded to parents. But if it is right that children be subject to parents, how much more to the God and Father of all things? Besides, it is unseemly that children in infancy be wise beyond their years; for as in stature one increases in an orderly progress, so also in wisdom. But as when a law has commanded abstinence from anything, and some one has not obeyed, it is obviously not the law which causes punishment, but the disobedience and transgression;—for a father sometimes enjoins on his own child abstinence from certain things, and when he does not obey the paternal order, he is flogged and punished on account of the disobedience; and in this case the actions themselves are not the [cause of] stripes, but the disobedience procures punishment for him who disobeys;—so also for the first man, disobedience procured his expulsion from Paradise. Not, therefore, as if there were any evil in the tree of knowledge; but from his disobedience did man draw, as from a fountain, labour, pain, grief, and at last fall a prey to death.
Theophilus of Antioch, 104. This probationary period could have resulted in immortality from the beginning, had Adam kept the law of God:
But some one will say to us, Was man made by nature mortal? Certainly not. Was he, then, immortal? Neither do we affirm this. But one will say, Was he, then, nothing? Not even this hits the mark. He was by nature neither mortal nor immortal. For if He had made him immortal from the beginning, He would have made him God. Again, if He had made him mortal, God would seem to be the cause of his death. Neither, then, immortal nor yet mortal did He make him, but, as we have said above, capable of both; so that if he should incline to the things of immortality, keeping the commandment of God, he should receive as reward from Him immortality, and should become God; but if, on the other hand, he should turn to the things of death, disobeying God, he should himself be the cause of death to himself. For God made man free, and with power over himself.1 That, then, which man brought upon himself through carelessness and disobedience, this God now vouchsafes to him as a gift through His own philanthropy and pity, when men obey Him.2 For as man, disobeying, drew death upon himself; so, obeying the will of God, he who desires is able to procure for himself life everlasting. For God has given us a law and holy commandments; and every one who keeps these can be saved, and, obtaining the resurrection, can inherit incorruption.
Theophilus of Antioch, 105.