Traduzidos para o inglês por A. J. Wensinck; obra publicada em 1923
THE OPPORTUNITIES OF THE SOUL THAT SEEKS PROFOUND CONTEMPLATION TO IMMERSE ITSELF IN IT AND SO TO ESCAPE FROM BODILY DELIBERATIONS WHICH ARISE FROM THINGS RECOLLECTED
NT: With the ideas of this chapter compare Frothingham, Stephen Bar Sudaili p. 92: “Every intelligent nature is determined, known and comprehended by the essence which is above it; and determines, knows and comprehends the essence which is below it; but to the pure mind alone belongs the vision above and below”. This seems to be the opening sentence of the Book of Hierotheos.
Everything that is above another one is concealed from what is beneath it. And this is not caused by its being covered by other bodies. For it possesses naturally the faculty to unveil its secrecy whenever it likes to do so. Thus all things which are essentially intelligible have no external distinctions of rank; these distinctions are confined to their emotions. This implies manifestly that they are more suited to receive, without any intermediary, the primeval light, than things of a lower (NT: later) rank, not materially nor locally, but in relation to the high degree of purity or moderation of the minds, with reference to the faculty that receives hints from above.
All things which are by their nature intelligible, are hidden from what is beneath them; not on account of natural divergences, but on account of excellence of impulses. This I say in respect of the members of ( different ) classes, viz. the classes of holy forces, the classes of souls, the classes of demons. The first have the middle place; the last the lowest in a natural and local respect and also with regard to their emotions.
Each of the classes is hidden from the other as to their intelligible character, whether they see or not; from the inferior ones they are also hidden by nature.
Now then, because incorporeal beings are not to be seen by other beings in the same way as corporeal beings, but their ( power to ) see one another is said to be dependent upon their emotions, namely the excellency and temperance of the emotions — therefore they see one another if they are equal in this respect even at a distance and not as phantoms, but with real sight and in their true nature.
Only — the cause of all is exalted above these distinctions, He, who is alone to be adored.
The demons, though they are very impure, are not deprived of seeing the members of their own classes. But they do not see the two degrees that are above them because spiritual sight is serenity of emotions. These are their mirror and their eyes. And when the emotions have become darkened, they do not see the orders which are above them. ( Only ) one another they see, because they are more material than the order of spiritual things, in comparison with them. Such is the state of the demons.
The souls, in accordance with their being impure and obscure, have not the faculty to see even the members of their own classes. Being deprived of seeing one another, they are also deprived of seeing themselves. But if they are purified and return unto the original state in which they were created, they clearly gaze at the three classes, viz. at those which are beneath themselves, at those which are above themselves, and at one another. This does not mean that they see all these classes only when they are transformed into material similitudes: angels, demons or the cognate soul. But they see them in their nature, being in their spiritual state, angels, demons and souls.
If thou sayest, however, that it is impossible that demon or angel be seen in their spiritual state without being altered, then it is not the soul that sees, but the body; or wherefore, then, is purification necessary? Demons are seen sometimes, and also angels, it is true, by those who are not pure. But they see them with their bodily eye when they see them, where no purification is needed. But the soul that has been purified sees not thus; it sees them in their spiritual state with its natural eye, viz. with its intellectual faculty.
That the souls see one another, even when they are in the body, is not surprising. Of this fact there is an evident proof which thou wilt acknowledge, because its witness is trustworthy. The blessed Athanasius, the confessor and Catholicus, gives witness to it in his book on the dealings of Mar Antonius . One time when Mar Antonius prayed, he saw a man’s soul ascending with great honour. He uttered a blessing over him that had been deemed worthy of all this grace. This was the blessed Ammon, the recluse. And the mountain the blessed Antonius inhabited was at a distance of thirteen days from Nitria. — Here is a proof of the three things we have maintained, viz. spiritual beings see one another even at a distance, without their being impeded by space and the presence of objects; souls see one other when they have been purified; when they see they do t see in a bodily way but by spiritual faculty, for it is clear it bodily sight can see what is before it; but as for seeing a distance a different sight is needed.
These highest classes possess an unlimited multiplicity of number. And distinctions and orders are noted among them, me of them are called princes and magistrates, powers and lords. Perhaps those which are entrusted with magistracy and authority are smaller in number than those which are compelled to obey their commandment, says the master of teachers Diodorus Rhetor . For they are in the possession of power and great if partial insight , in accordance with the highness of their orders, being gradated so that they ascend from degree to degree till they reach the one who is older and mightier and more glorious than any other and who is the head and the foundation of all creatures. The head, I say, not the creator of the primeval wonderful works of God .
The angels and the archangels are very far from attaining to the wisdom of God, their and our creator. They are as far from it, as those of the lower degree are from them, but also no farther. Far, I say, as to their being higher or lower in their mutual relations; not in a spatial sense , but in respect of power and insight. Thus we say that they are higher or lower in respect of natural power and insight; for in accordance with the measure they have reached, greater or lesser knowledge is inherent in them.
All heavenly beings are named by the divine instruction with nine designations. It divides these three classes each into three subdivisions. The first comprises thrones exalted, high and holy; and Cherubs with many eyes; and Seraphs with many wings. The ( second ) class ( comprises ) lords and powers and magistrates. The third: princes and archangels and angels.
According to the meaning of the Hebrew , these terms are to be interpreted thus: Seraphs means those who cause heat and fire. Cherubs means magnitude of knowledge and effusion of wisdom. Thrones means divine acceptance and good pleasure.
This first class is called ( that of ) the Initiated, not because they see spiritually by the intermediary of the various apperceptible symbols, or because from spiritual writings they have acquired understanding concerning the Essence; but because they are full of the exalted light of the whole of immaterial knowledge and have been saturated with the essential contemplation of the threefold rays of the beauty that creates all beauties, so far as it has been permitted to them. And because they have been deemed worthy of communion with Jesus , not by means of images of holy formation, which with a certain exactness depict the divine likeness; but because they are in truth near to Him, stamped by Him with the mark of the primary acceptance of the knowledge of His divine illuminated. By the godhead they are filled with essential knowledge, as it is among the angels, and with primary insight into the godhead.
Another and clearer ( description ) of the designations of the highest orders.
Thrones are honoured ( beings ). Lords are those who rule kingdoms. Princes the governors of the air. Magistrates are those who rule the peoples and human individuals. Forces are those whose sight is frightful, viz. who are powerful with strength. Seraphs are those who sanctify. Cherubs are bearers. Guards (NT: also a usual term for angels in Syriac) are those who watch. Angels are messengers.
On the first day eight kinds were created, seven in silence, one by voice, viz. light. On the second day the firmament. On the third the gathering of waters and the sprouting plants. On the fourth the different luminaries. On the fifth the fowls, the reptiles and the fishes. On the sixth the beasts and men.
The form of the whole world is length and breadth. The head is the East; the end is the west; the right part is the North; the left part is the South.
The earth is as a bed; and the highest heaven as a vault; the second heaven as a wheel adaptated to the higher one. And the borders of heaven and earth are joined one to the other. The Ocean surrounds them as a belt. Beyond it are high mountains ascending unto the sky. The sun goes its way behind these mountains the whole night. The great sea is beyond them. And this encompasses four times the area of the dry land and one fourth is dry land.