Alexandria remained vague, as Philo had been.55 Tertullian mentions infirmiores ('weaker brethren') who could not believe in creation out of nothing, preferring to assume a material substrate like the philosophers;56 and he counts Hermogenes among other 'heretics with regard to matter',57 refusing to take them too seriously.
The achievement of the 'Great Church'
During the second half of the second century the 'Great Church' began to resist the propaganda of Marcionites and Gnostics more and more rigorously. A dividing line was drawn between heretics and ecclesiastical Christians, some of whom reflected on their own faith and tradition in order to oppose the Gnostic challenge with a better-reasoned view of Christian doctrine. The most important Christian theologians of the time before and around 200 were Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, and Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons (died c.200).
Theophilus of Antioch was an influential writer. He was the author of books against Marcion and Hermogenes. They were much read by contemporaries, but are lost to us. Only one work has survived, an apology of Christianity in three books, Ad Autolycum. However, what Theophilus says about creation, particularly creation out of nothing, seems to have a carefully thought out doctrine as its basis. Perhaps Theophilus used an older draft or statement as a model. In book 1, dealing with God the Father, Theophilus declares: 'God made everything out of what did not exist' (ex ouk onton).58
In his second book,59 Theophilus gives a critical outline of philosophical teaching about creation. He mainly deals with Plato, using doxographical material. Plato and his school acknowledge that God is ingenerate, 'father and maker of everything'.60 They assume that God and matter are both ingenerate, and that matter was coeval with God. But ifboth, God and matter, are ingener-ate, then God is not the maker of the universe, and his unique sovereignty (monarchia) is not demonstrated. Furthermore, as God is immutable because he is unoriginate, then matter, if it was unoriginate itself, was immutable and
55 For Plato calling matter me on, see Clem. Al. Str. 188.8.131.52-7; cf.184.108.40.206.
58 Autol. 1.4. One need not find here a quotation of 2 Macc 7:28, as Grant suggests in his edition (Ad Autolycum, 7), but rather a parallel.
59 Autol. 2.4; the following summary partly follows the translation ofGrant, Ad Autolycum,
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