Front Page Titles (by Subject) 3.: GENESIS. - Ante-Nicene Fathers. Volume 4: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Part First and Second
3.: GENESIS. - A. Cleveland Coxe, Ante-Nicene Fathers. Volume 4: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Part First and Second 
Ante-Nicene Fathers. Volume 4: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Part First and Second, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Revised and Chronologically arranged with brief prefaces and occasional notes by A. Cleveland Coxe (New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
- In the beginning did the Lord create
- The heaven and earth: for formless was the land,
- And hidden by the wave, and God immense
- O’er the vast watery plains was hovering,
- 5While chaos and black darkness shrouded all:
- Which darkness, when God bade be from the pole
- Disjoined, He speaks, “Let there be light;” and all
- In the clear world was bright. Then, when the Lord
- The first day’s work had finishèd, He formed
- 10Heaven’s axis white with nascent clouds: the deep
- Immense receives its wandering shores, and draws
- The rivers manifold with mighty trains.
- The third dun light unveiled earth’s face, and soon
- (Its name assigned ) the dry land’s story ’gins:
- 15Together on the windy champaigns rise
- The flowery seeds, and simultaneously
- Fruit-bearing boughs put forth procurvant arms.
- The fourth day, with the sun’s lamp generates
- The moon, and moulds the stars with tremulous light
- 20Radiant: these elements it gave as signs
- To th’ underlying world, to teach the times
- Which, through their rise and setting, were to change.
- Then, on the fifth, the liquid streams receive
- Their fish, and birds poise in the lower air
- 25Their pinions many-hued. The sixth, again,
- Supples the ice-cold snakes into their coils,
- And over the whole fields diffuses herds
- Of quadrupeds; and mandate gave that all
- Should grow with multiplying seed, and roam
- 30And feed in earth’s immensity.
- All these
- When power divine by mere command arranged,
- Observing that things mundane still would lack
- A ruler, thus It speaks: “With utmost care,
- Assimilated to our own aspèct,
- 35Make We a man to reign in the whole orb.”
- And him, although He with a single word
- Could have compounded, yet Himself did deign
- To shape him with His sacred own right hand,
- Inspiring his dull breast from breast divine.
- 40Whom when He saw formed in a likeness such
- As is His own, He measures how he broods
- Alone on gnawing cares. Straightway his eyes
- With sleep irriguous He doth perfuse;
- That from his left rib woman softlier
- 45May formèd be, and that by mixture twin
- His substance may add firmness to her limbs.
- To her the name of “Life”—which is called “Eve” —
- Is given: wherefore sons, as custom is,
- Their parents leave, and, with a settled home,
- 50Cleave to their wives.
- The seventh came, when God
- At His works’ end did rest, decreeing it
- Sacred unto the coming ages’ joys.
- Straightway—the crowds of living things deployed
- Before him—Adam’s cunning skill (the gift
- 55Of the good Lord) gives severally to all
- The name which still is permanent. Himself,
- And, joined with him, his Eve, God deigns address
- “Grow, for the times to come, with manifold
- Increase, that with your seed the pole and earth
- 60Be filled; and, as Mine heirs, the varied fruits
- Pluck ye, which groves and champaigns render you,
- From their rich turf.” Thus after He discoursed,
- In gladsome court a paradise is strewn,
- And looks towàrds the rays of th’ early sun.
- 65These joys among, a tree with deadly fruits,
- Breeding, conjoined, the taste of life and death,
- Arises. In the midst of the demesne
- Flows with pure tide a stream, which irrigates
- Fair offsprings from its liquid waves, and cuts
- 70Quadrified paths from out its bubbling fount.
- Here wealthy Phison, with auriferous waves,
- Swells, and with hoarse tide wears conspicuous gems,
- This prasinus, that glowing carbuncle,
- By name; and laves, transparent in its shoals,
- 75The margin of the land of Havilath.
- Next Gihon, gliding by the Æthiops,
- Enriches them. The Tigris is the third,
- Adjoined to fair Euphrates, furrowing
- Disjunctively with rapid flood the land
- 80Of Asshur. Adam, with his faithful wife,
- Placed here as guard and workman, is informed
- By such the Thunderer’s speech: “Tremble ye not
- To pluck together the permitted fruits
- Which, with its leafy bough, the unshorn grove
- 85Hath furnished; anxious only lest perchance
- Ye cull the hurtful apple, which is green
- With a twin juice for functions several.”
- And, no less blind meantime than Night herself,
- Deep night ’gan hold them, nor had e’en a robe
- 90Covered their new-formed limbs.
- Amid these haunts,
- And on mild berries reared, a foamy snake,
- Surpassing living things in sense astute,
- Was creeping silently with chilly coils.
- He, brooding over envious lies instinct
- 95With gnawing sense, tempts the soft heart beneath
- The woman’s breast: “Tell me, why shouldst thou dread
- The apple’s happy seeds? Why, hath not God
- All known fruits hallowed? Whence if thou be prompt
- To cull the honeyed fruits, the golden world
- 100Will on its starry pole return.” But she
- Refuses, and the boughs forbidden fears
- To touch. But yet her breast ’gins be o’ercome
- With sense infirm. Straightway, as she at length
- With snowy tooth the dainty morsels bit,
- 105Stained with no cloud the sky serene up-lit!
- Then taste, instilling lure in honeyed jaws,
- To her yet uninitiated lord
- Constrained her to present the gift; which he
- No sooner took, than—night effaced!—their eyes
- 110Shone out serene in the resplendent world.
- When, then, they each their body bare espied,
- And when their shameful parts they see, with leaves
- Of fig they shadow them.
- By chance, beneath
- The sun’s now setting light, they recognise
- 115The sound of the Lord’s voice, and, trembling, haste
- To bypaths. Then the Lord of heaven accosts
- The mournful Adam: “Say, where now thou art.”
- Who suppliant thus answers: “Thine address,
- O Lord, O Mighty One, I tremble at,
- 120Beneath my fearful heart; and, being bare,
- I faint with chilly dread.” Then said the Lord:
- “Who hath the hurtful fruits, then, given you?”
- “This woman, while she tells me how her eyes
- With brilliant day promptly perfusèd were,
- 125And on her dawned the liquid sky serene,
- And heaven’s sun and stars, o’ergave them me!”
- Forthwith God’s anger frights perturbèd Eve,
- While the Most High inquires the authorship
- Of the forbidden act. Hereon she opes
- 130Her tale: “The speaking serpent’s suasive words
- I harboured, while the guile and bland request
- Misled me: for, with venoms viperous
- His words inweaving, stories told he me
- Of those delights which should all fruits excel.”
- 135Straightway the Omnipotent the dragon’s deeds
- Condemns, and bids him be to all a sight
- Unsightly, monstrous; bids him presently
- With grovelling beast to crawl; and then to bite
- And chew the soil; while war should to all time
- 140’Twixt human senses and his tottering self
- Be waged, that he might creep, crestfallen, prone,
- Behind the legs of men, —that while he glides
- Close on their heels they may down-trample him.
- The woman, sadly caught by guileful words,
- 145Is bidden yield her fruit with struggle hard,
- And bear her husband’s yoke with patient zeal.
- “But thou, to whom the sentence of thy wife
- (Who, vanquished, to the dragon pitiless
- Yielded) seemed true, shalt through long times deplore
- 150Thy labour sad; for thou shalt see, instead
- Of wheaten harvest’s seed, the thistle rise,
- And the thorn plenteously with pointed spines:
- So that, with weary heart and mournful breast,
- Full many sighs shall furnish anxious food;
- 155Till, in the setting hour of coming death,
- To level earth, whence thou thy body draw’st,
- Thou be restored.” This done, the Lord bestows
- Upon the trembling pair a tedious life;
- And from the sacred gardens far removes
- 160Them downcast, and locates them opposite,
- And from the threshold bars them by mid fire,
- Wherein from out the swift heat is evolved
- A cherubim, while fierce the hot point glows,
- And rolls enfolding flames. And lest their limbs
- 165With sluggish cold should be benumbed, the Lord
- Hides flayed from cattle’s flesh together sews,
- With vestures warm their bare limbs covering.
- When, therefore, Adam—now believing—felt
- (By wedlock taught) his manhood, he confers
- 170On his loved wife the mother’s name; and, made
- Successively by scions twain a sire,
- Gives names to stocks divèrse: Cain the first
- Hath for his name, to whom is Abel joined.
- The latter’s care tended the harmless sheep;
- 175The other turned the earth with curvèd plough.
- These, when in course of time they brought their gifts
- To Him who thunders, offered—as their sense
- Prompted them—fruits unlike. The elder one
- Offered the first-fruits of the fertile glebes:
- 180The other pays his vows with gentle lamb,
- Bearing in hand the entrails pure, and fat
- Snow-white; and to the Lord, who pious vows
- Beholds, is instantly accèptable.
- Wherefore with anger cold did Caïn glow;
- 185With whom God deigns to talk, and thus begins:
- “Tell Me, if thou live rightly, and discern
- Things hurtful, couldst thou not then pass thine age
- Pure from contracted guilt? Cease to essay
- With gnawing sense thy brother’s ruin, who,
- 190Subject to thee as lord, his neck shall yield.”
- Not e’en thus softened, he unto the fields
- Conducts his brother; whom when overta’en
- In lonely mead he saw, with his twin palms
- Bruising his pious throat, he crushed life out.
- 195Which deed the Lord espying from high heaven,
- Straitly demands “where Abel is on earth?”
- He says “he will not as his brother’s guard
- Be set.” Then God outspeaks to him again:
- “Doth not the sound of his blood’s voice, sent up
- 200To Me, ascend unto heaven’s lofty pole?
- Learn, therefore, for so great a crime what doom
- Shall wait thee. Earth, which with thy kinsman’s blood
- Hath reeked but now, shall to thy hateful hand
- Refuse to render back the cursèd seeds
- 205Entrusted her; nor shall, if set with herbs,
- Produce her fruit: that, torpid, thou shalt dash
- Thy limbs against each other with much fear.” . . . . . .
Immensus. See note on the word in the fragment “Concerning the Cursing of the Heathen’s Gods.”
“Errantia;” so called, probably, either because they appear to move as ships pass them, or because they may be said to “wander” by reason of the constant change which they undergo from the action of the sea, and because of the shifting nature of their sands.
“God called the dry land Earth:” Gen. i. 10.
i.e., “together with;” it begets both sun and moon.
i.e., “the fourth day.”
i.e., “Power Divine.”
So Milton and Shakespeare.
As (see above, l. 31) He had all other things.
See Gen. iii. 20, with the LXX., and the marg, in the Eng. ver.
The “gladsome court”—“læta aula”—seems to mean Eden, in which the garden is said to have been planted. See Gen. ii. 8.
i.e., eastward. See the last reference.
Ædibus in mediis.
Terit. So Job (xiv. 19), “The waters wear the stones.”
“Onyx,” Eng. ver. See the following piece, l. 277.
“Bdellium,” Eng. Ver.; ἄνθραξ, LXX.
Comp. Ps. xxix. 3, especially in “Great Bible” (xxviii. 3 in LXX.)
“Numquid poma Deus non omnia nota sacravit?”
The writer, supposing it to be night (see 88, 89), seems to mean that the serpent hinted that the fruit would instantly dispel night and restore day. Compare the ensuing lines.
“Servitiumque sui studio perferre mariti;” or, perhaps, “and drudge in patience at her husband’s beck.”
“Sententia:” her sentence, or opinion, as to the fruit and its effects.
- “That with heart-weariness and mournful breast
- Full many sighs may furnish anxious food.”
The writer makes “cherubim”—or “cherubin”—singular. I have therefore retained his mistake. What the “hot point”—“calidus apex”—is, is not clear. It may be an allusion to the “flaming sword” (see Gen. iii. 24); or it may mean the top of the flame.
Or, “origins”—“orsis”—because Cain and Abel were original types, as it were, of two separate classes of men.
“Perpetuo:” “in process of time,” Eng. ver.; μεθ’ ἡμέρας, LXX. in Gen. iv. 3.
Quæ prosata fuerant. But, as Wordsworth remarks on Gen. iv., we do not read that Cain’s offerings were first-fruits even.
Quod propter gelida Cain incanduit ira. If this, which is Oehler’s and Migne’s reading, be correct, the words gelida and incanduit seem to be intentionally contrasted, unless incandescere be used here in a supposed sense of “growing white,” “turning pale.” Urere is used in Latin of heat and cold indifferently. Calida would, of course, be a ready emendation; but gelida has the advantage of being far more startling.