heresiologists associate such views with the lineage of those following what they dubbed 'gnosis falsely so-called' using a scriptural tag (i Tim 6:20). If Christ revealed the true Father, who so transcended the material universe that creation was alien to the divine and produced by a lesser, fallen demiurge, then of course the Christ could not really be born, or suffer and die. Gnostic texts tend to attribute revelatory teachings to the risen Christ, their gospels often not being accounts of the life and teaching of one who existed as a human, historical person.
The stimulus for Marcion's teachings may not have been cosmological, but his contrast between the loving father ofJesus Christ and the judgemental God of the Jewish scriptures had the same effect. The material creation was devalued, and the messenger of salvation came from the superior spiritual world. So the immediate pressures of the second century concerned the defence of the material creation as ultimately the work of the one true God who said it was good. Genesis was a key text in the debates. When Irenaeus7 composed his great work Adversus haereses ('Against the heresies'), he focused on the way Genesis was to be read, and on the saving effect of Christ's 'recapitulation' of Adam's path of temptation so as to reverse his 'fall' by being victorious. The over-arching story of fall and redemption was highlighted to counter appeals to pre-cosmic catastrophes and enable a positive estimate of the created order. The demiurge of Genesis was to be identified as the one true God.
So it is in the context of cosmological debate that the logos theology of Justin, Theophilus and other apologists is to be assessed, as also the move towards the doctrine of 'creation out of nothing'.8 It was essential to make plausible the divine origin, yet created being, of matter, when in the culture in general, matter tended to be denigrated and regarded as unworthy of the divine, or else the divine was regarded as itself material. For matter was often contrasted with spirit, change and 'becoming' with changeless 'being'. Yet this broadly Platonic perspective was offset by the Stoic tendency to see everything as ultimately divine, to regard spirit or fire as the fundamental element from which the created order was distilled and to which it would return. The divine element, itself refined matter and immanent in all things, was the logos - that is, order and rationality. The macrocosm was reflected in the microcosm -human nature. To live in harmony with nature was the Stoic aim, the mind directing thebody, the logos pervading everything. Justin has oftenbeen charged with eclecticism, but the second-century apologists, by integrating ideas of
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