Porphyry, Against the Christians

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Porphyry, Against the Christians (2004).  Fragments.

The Fragments

The order is that of Harnack.   

Probably from the Foreword

11. Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel, I.2.1ff:

For in the first place any one might naturally want to know who we are that have come forward to write. Are we Greeks or Barbarians? Or what can there be intermediate to these? And what do we claim to be, not in regard to the name, because this is manifest to all, but in the manner and purpose of our life? For they would see that we agree neither with the opinions of the Greeks, nor with the customs of the Barbarians.

Preparation I.5.10:

But to understand the sum of the first and greatest benefit of the word of salvation, you must take into consideration the superstitious delusion of the ancient idolatry, whereby the whole human race in times long past was ground down by the constraint of daemons: but from that most gloomy darkness, as it were, the word by its divine power delivered both Greeks and Barbarians alike, and translated them all into the bright intellectual daylight of the true worship of God the universal King.

But why need I spend time in endeavouring to show that we have not devoted ourselves to an unreasoning faith, but to wise and profitable doctrines which contain the way of true religion? As the present work is to be a complete treatise on this very subject, we exhort and beseech those who are fitly qualified to follow demonstrative arguments, that they give heed to sound sense, and receive the proofs of our doctrines more reasonably, and `be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh us the reason of the hope that is in us.` 

But since all are not so qualified, and the word is kind and benevolent, and rejects no one at all, but heals every man by remedies suitable to him, and invites the unlearned and simple to the amendment of their ways, naturally in the introductory teaching of those who are beginning with the simpler elements, women and children and the common herd, we lead them on gently to the religious life, and adopt the sound faith to serve as a remedy, and ractic into them right opinions of God`s providence, and the immortality of the soul, and the life of virtue.

Is it not in this way that we also see men scientifically curing those who are suffering from bodily diseases, the physicians themselves having by much practice and education acquired the doctrines of the healing art, and conducting all their operations according to reason, while those who come to them to be cured give themselves up to faith and the hope of better health, though they understand not accurately any of the scientific theories, but depend only on their good hope and faith?

And when the best of the physicians has come upon the scene, he prescribes with full knowledge both what must be avoided and what must be done, just like a ruler and master; and the patient obeys him as a king and lawgiver, believing that what has been prescribed will be beneficial to him.

Thus scholars also accept the words of instruction from their teachers, because they believe that the lesson will be good for them: philosophy, moreover, a man would not touch before he is persuaded that the profession of it will be useful to him: and so one man straightway chooses the doctrines of Epicurus, and another emulates the Cynic mode of life, another follows the philosophy of Plato, another that of Aristotle, and yet another prefers the Stoic philosophy to all, each of them having embraced his opinion with a better hope and faith that it will be beneficial to him.

Thus also men pursue the ordinary professions, and some adopt the military and others the mercantile life, having: assumed again by faith that the pursuit will supply them with a living. In marriages also the first approaches and unions formed in the hope of begetting children had their beginnings from a good faith.

Again, a man sails forth on an uncertain voyage, without having cast out any other anchor of safety for himself than faith and good hope alone: and, again, another takes to husbandry, and after casting his seed into the earth sits waiting for the turn of the season, believing that what decayed upon the ground, and was hidden by floods of rains, will spring up again as it were from the dead to life: and, again, any one setting out from his own land on a long journey in a foreign country takes with him as good guides his hope and his faith.

And when you cannot but perceive that man`s whole life depends on these two things—hope and faith—why do you wonder if also the things that are better for the soul are imparted by faith to some, who have not leisure to be taught the particulars in a more logical way, while others have opportunity to pursue the actual arguments, and to learn the proofs of the doctrines advocated? But now that we have made this short introduction, which will not be without advantage, let us go back to the first indictment, and give an answer to those who inquire who we are and whence we come. Well then, that being Greeks by race, and Greeks by sentiment, and gathered out of all sorts of nations, like the chosen men of a newly enlisted army, we have become deserters from the superstition of our ancestors,—this even we ourselves should never deny. But also that, though adhering to the Jewish books and collecting out of their prophecies the greater part of our doctrine, we no longer think it agreeable to live in like manner with those of the Circumcision,—this too we should at once acknowledge.

It is time, therefore, to submit our explanation of these matters. In what other way then can it appear that we have done well in forsaking the customs of our forefathers, except by first setting them forth publicly and bringing them under the view of our readers? For in this way the divine power of the demonstration of the Gospel will become manifest, if it be plainly shown to all men what are the evils that it promises to cure, and of what kind they are. And how can the reasonableness of our pursuing the study of the Jewish Scriptures appear, unless their excellence also be proved? It will be right also to state fully for what reason, though gladly accepting their Scriptures, we decline to follow their mode of life: and, in conclusion, to state what is our own account of the Gospel argument, and what Christianity should properly be called, since it is neither Hellenism nor Judaism, but a new and true kind of divine philosophy, bringing evidence of its novelty from its very name.

First of all then let us carefully survey the most ancient theologies, and especially those of our own forefathers, celebrated even till now in every city, and the solemn decisions of noble philosophers concerning the constitution of the world and concerning the gods, that we may learn whether we did right or not in departing from them.

And in the clear statement of what is to be proved I shall not set down my own words, but those of the very persons who have taken the deepest interest in the worship of those whom they call gods, that so the argument may stand clear of all suspicion of being invented by us."

I. Attacks on the characters and intelligence of the Evangelists and Apostle as a pretext to attack Christianity

2. Jerome, Epistle 57:8-9:

I refer to these [passages], not to convict the evangelists of falsification---a charge worthy only of impious men like Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian....

3. Jerome, Commentary on Matthew (on 21:21):

The pagan dogs bark against us in their volumes, which they left behind them in memory of their own impiety, asserting that the apostles did not have faith, since they weren`t able to move mountains.

4. Jerome, Tract on Psalm 81: 

Paul conquered the whole world, from the Ocean to the Red Sea.  Let some say, "He did it all for money"; for this Porphyry says, "(They were) poor and country-dwelling men, seeing that they used to have nothing; certain wonders were worked with magical arts.  Not that it is unusual however to do wonders; for the magicians in Egypt also did wonders against Moses, Apollonius also did them, Apuleius also did them, and any number have done wonders."  I concede, Porphyry, that they did wonders by magical arts, "so that they might receive riches from rich and impressionable women, whom they had led astray." For you say this --- (yet) why were they killed? why were they crucified?

5. Jerome, Commentary on Joel (on 2:28ff):

(The apostles) sifted whatever was useful to those who heard them, and did not rebuff those present, (whom) they reinforced with testimonies of other times, so that they did not abuse the simplicity and inexperience of those listening, as the impious Porphyry misrepresents.

6. Jerome, Commentary on Matthew (on 9:9):

Porphyry and the emperor Julian argue in this place that (this shows) either the inexperience of the lying historians or the stupidity of those who immediately followed the saviour, as if they had followed irrationally any man calling.

9. Jerome, On the beginning of Mark.

This passage that impious man Porphyry, who wrote against us and vomited out his madness in many books, discusses in his 14th book and says: `The evangelists were such unskilled men, not only in worldly matters, but also in the divine scriptures, that they attributed the testimony, which had been written elsewhere, to the wrong prophet.` This he jeers at.

Jerome, Commentary on Matthew (on 3:3):

Porphyry highlights this passage at the start of the evangelist Mark, in which is written, `The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ... Make his paths straight.`  For since the testimony of Malachi and Isaiah has been intertwined, he asks, in what way can we imagine that the example has been taken from Isaiah only.  To which men of the church have responded very fully.

11. Jerome, Commentary on Daniel (on 1:1):

And it is for this reason that in the Gospel according to Matthew there seems to be a generation missing, because the second group of fourteen, (A) extending to the time of Jehoiakim, ends with a son of Josiah, and the third group begins with Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim. Being ignorant of this factor, Porphyry formulated a slander against the Church which only revealed his own ignorance, as he tried to prove the evangelist Matthew guilty of error.

14. Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 27:45:

Those that wrote against the gospels suspect that an eclipse of the sun, which regularly happens at certain times and places, was interpreted by the disciples on account of their unworldliness as the resurrection of the Lord.

Jerome, Epistle 130:14:

In fact the apostle Peter by no means called down death upon them as Porphyry foolishly says. 

Jerome, On Illustrious Men 55:

Porphyry falsely accused him [Ammonius] of having become a heathen again, after being a Christian, but it is certain that he continued a Christian until the very end of his life.

40. Eusebius, Chronicle, Preface by Jerome:

Indeed from among the pagans, that impious man Porphyry in the fourth book of his work which he with pointless labour concocted against us, affirms that Semiramis, who reigned over the Assyrians 150 years before Inachus, lived after Moses.  And so, according to him, Moses is discovered to be older than the Trojan War by almost 850 years. 

41. Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel, I: 9: 20ff: 

In fact the polytheistic error of all the nations is only seen long ages afterwards, having taken its beginning from the Phoenicians and Egyptians, and passed over from them to the other nations, and even to the Greeks themselves. For this again is affirmed by the history of the earliest ages; which history itself it is now time for us to review, beginning from the Phoenician records.

Now the historian of this subject is Sanchuniathon, an author of great antiquity, and older, as they say, than the Trojan times, one whom they testify to have been approved for the accuracy and truth of his Phoenician History. Philo of Byblos, not the Hebrew, translated his whole work from the Phoenician language into the Greek, and published it. The author in our own day of the compilation against us mentions these things in the fourth book of his treatise Against the Christians, where he bears the following testimony to Sanchuniathon, word for word:

[PORPHYRY] `Of the affairs of the Jews the truest history, because the most in accordance with their places and names, is that of Sanchuniathon of Berytus, who received the records from Hierombalus the priest of the god Ieuo; he dedicated his history to Abibalus king of Berytus, and was approved by him and by the investigators of truth in his time. Now the times of these men fall even before the date of the Trojan war, and approach nearly to the times of Moses, as is shown by the successions of the kings of Phoenicia. And Sanchuniathon, who made a complete collection of ancient history from the records in the various cities and from the registers in the temples, and wrote in the Phoenician language with a love of truth, lived in the reign of Semiramis, the queen of the Assyrians, who is recorded to have lived before the Trojan war or in those very times. And the works of Sanchuniathon were translated into the Greek tongue by Philo of Byblos.` 

So wrote the author before mentioned, bearing witness at once to the truthfulness and antiquity of the so-called theologian. But he, as he goes forward, treats as divine not the God who is over all, nor yet the gods in the heaven, but mortal men and women, not even refined in character, such as it would be right to approve for their virtue, or emulate for their love of wisdom, but involved in the dishonour of every kind of vileness and wickedness.

He testifies also that these are the very same who are still regarded as gods by all both in the cities and in country districts. But let me give you the proofs of this out of his writings."

43. Jerome, Commentary on Daniel:

A.  (Prologue)  Porphyry wrote his twelfth book against the prophecy of Daniel, denying that it was composed by the person to whom it is ascribed in its title, but rather by some individual living in Judaea at the time of the Antiochus who was surnamed Epiphanes. He furthermore alleged that "Daniel" did not foretell the future so much as he related the past, and lastly that whatever he spoke of up till the time of Antiochus contained authentic history, whereas anything he may have conjectured beyond that point was false, inasmuch as he would not have foreknown the future. Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, made a most able reply to these allegations in three volumes, that is, the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth. Appollinarius did likewise, in a single large book, namely his twenty-sixth. Prior to these authors Methodius made a partial reply.  But inasmuch as it is not our purpose to make answer to the false accusations of an adversary, a task requiring lengthy discussion, ... And because Porphyry saw that all these things [the prophecies about Christ, kings and years] had been fulfilled and could not deny that they had taken place, he overcame this evidence of historical accuracy by taking refuge in this evasion, contending that whatever is foretold concerning Antichrist at the end of the world was actually fulfilled in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, because of certain similarities to things which took place at his time. But this very attack testifies to Daniel`s accuracy. For so striking was the reliability of what the prophet foretold, that he could not appear to unbelievers as a predicter of the future, but rather a narrator of things already past. And so wherever occasion arises in the course of explaining this volume, I shall attempt briefly to answer his malicious charge, and to controvert by simple explanation the philosophical skill, or rather the worldly malice, by which he strives to subvert the truth and by specious legerdemain to remove that which is so apparent to our eyes.

B.  (Prologue)  But among other things we should recognize that Porphyry makes this objection to us concerning the Book of Daniel, that it is clearly a forgery not to be considered as belonging to the Hebrew Scriptures but an invention composed in Greek. This he deduces from the fact that in the story of Susanna, where Daniel is speaking to the elders, we find the expressions, "To split from the mastic tree" (apo tou skhinou skhisai) and to saw from the evergreen oak (kai apo tou prinou prisai), a wordplay appropriate to Greek rather than to Hebrew. But both Eusebius and Apollinarius have answered him after the same tenor, that the stories of Susanna and of Bel and the Dragon are not contained in the Hebrew, but rather they constitute a part of the prophecy of Habakkuk, the son of Jesus of the tribe of Levi. ... After all, both Origen, Eusebius and Apollinarius, and other outstanding churchmen and teachers of Greece acknowledge that, as I have said, these visions are not found amongst the Hebrews, and that therefore they are not obliged to answer to Porphyry for these portions which exhibit no authority as Holy Scripture.  (Cf. Jerome, Comm. in Libr. Daniel. et Susan.)

C.  (Prologue)  And yet to understand the final portions of Daniel a detailed investigation of Greek history is necessary, that is to say, such authorities as Sutorius, Callinicus, Diodorus, Hieronymus, Polybius, Posidonius, Claudius, Theon, and Andronycus surnamed Alipius, historians whom Porphyry claims to have followed, Josephus also and those whom he cites, and especially our own historian, Livy, and Pompeius Trogus, and Justinus. All these men narrate the history involved in Daniel`s final vision...

D.  (On 2.40)  "...He became a great mountain and filled the whole earth." This last the Jews and the impious Porphyry apply to the people of Israel, who they insist will be the strongest power at the end of the ages, and will crush all realms and will rule forever.

E.  (On 2.46) Porphyry falsely impugns this passage on the ground that a very proud king would never worship a mere captive... 

F.  (On 2.48) In this matter also the slanderous critic of the Church has ventured to castigate the prophet because he did not reject the gifts and because he willingly accepted honor of the Babylonians. 

G.  (On 3.98) The epistle of Nebuchadnezzar was inserted in the volume of the prophet, in order that the book might not afterwards be thought to have been manufactured by some other author, as the accuser falsely asserts, but the product of Daniel himself.

H.  (On 5:1)  [The genealogical chronology is taken by Jerome from Josephus: it is very likely that Porphyry wrote something against this].

J.  (On 5:10)  `Queen` -- Josephus says she was Belshazzar`s grandmother, whereas Origen says she was his mother. She therefore knew about previous events of which the king was ignorant. So much for Porphyry`s far-fetched objection [lit.: "Therefore let Porphyry stay awake nights"----evigilet], who fancies that she was the king`s wife, and makes fun of the fact that she knows more than her husband does.

K.  (On 7:5)  [The details about Persian kings comes from Porphyry]

L.  (On 7:7)  Porphyry assigned the last two beasts, that of the Macedonians and that of the Romans, to the one realm of the Macedonians and divided them up as follows. He claimed that the leopard was Alexander himself, and that the beast which was dissimilar to the others represented the four successors of Alexander, and then he enumerates ten kings up to the time of Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes, and who were very cruel. And he did not assign the kings themselves to separate kingdoms, for example Macedon, Syria, Asia, or Egypt, but rather he made out the various kingdoms a single realm consisting of a series. This he did of course in order that the words which were written: ".. .a mouth uttering overweening boasts" might be considered as spoken about Antiochus instead of about Antichrist.

M.  (On 7, 8.14)  Porphyry vainly surmises that the little horn which rose up after the ten horns is Antiochus Epiphanes, and that the three uprooted horns out of the ten are Ptolemy VI surnamed Philometer, Ptolemy VII Euergetes, and Artaraxias, King of Armenia. The first two of these kings died long before Antiochus was born. ... Let Porphyry answer the query of whom out of all mankind this language might apply to, or who this person might be who was so powerful as to break and smash to pieces the little horn, whom he interprets to be Antiochus? If he replies that the princes of Antiochus were defeated by Judas Maccabaeus, then he must explain how Judas could be said to come with the clouds of heaven like unto the Son of man, and to be brought unto the Ancient of days, and how it could be said that authority and royal power was bestowed upon him, and that all peoples and tribes and language-groups served him, and that his power is eternal and not terminated by any conclusion.

N.  (On 9:1)  This is the Darius who in cooperation with Cyrus conquered the Chaldeans and Babylonians. We are not to think of that other Darius in the second year of whose reign the Temple was built, as Porphyry supposes in making out a late date for Daniel; nor are we to think of the Darius who was vanquished by Alexander, the king of the Macedonians.

O.  (On 1 20)   The reference is to the Seleucus surnamed Philopator, the son of Antiochus the Great, who during his reign performed no deeds worthy of Syria or of his father, but perished ingloriously without fighting a single battle. Porphyry, however, claims that it was not this Seleucus who is referred to, but rather Ptolemy Epiphanes, who contrived a plot against Seleucus and prepared an army to fight against him, with the result that Seleucus was poisoned by his own generals. They did this because when someone asked Seleucus where he was going to get the financial resources for the great enterprises he was planning, he answered that his financial resources consisted in his friends. When this remark was publicly noised abroad, the generals became apprehensive that he would deprive them of their property and for that reason did him to death by nefarious means. Yet how could Ptolemy be said to rise up in the place of Antiochus the Great, since he did nothing of the sort? 

P.  (On 1 21 f.)  Up to this point the historical order has been followed, and there has been no point of controversy between Porphyry and those of our side (variant: and us). But the rest of the text from here on to the end of the book he interprets as applying to the person of the Antiochus who was surnamed Epiphanes, the brother of Seleucus and the son of Antiochus the Great. He reigned in Syria for eleven years after Seleucus, and he seized Judaea, and it is under his reign that the persecution of God`s Law is related, and also the wars of the Maccabees. But those of our persuasion believe ...

Q.  (On 1 21 f.)  Our opponents say that the one who was to "stand up in the place of" Seleucus was his brother, Antiochus Epiphanes. The party in Syria who favored Ptolemy would not at first grant him the kingly honor, but he later secured the rule of Syria by a pretense of clemency. And as Ptolemy fought and laid everything waste, his arms were overcome and broken before the face of Antiochus. Now the word arms implies the idea of strength, and therefore also the host of any army is known as a hand [i.e. manus, "hand," may also signify a "band of armed men"]. And not only does the text say that he conquered Ptolemy by fraud, but also the prince of the covenant he overcame by treachery, that is, Judas Maccabaeus. Or else this is what is referred to, that after he had secured peace with Ptolemy and he had become the prince of the covenant, he afterwards devised a plot against him. Now the Ptolemy meant here was not Epiphanes, who was the fifth Ptolemy to reign in Egypt, but Ptolemy Philometor, the son of Antiochus` sister, Cleopatra; and so Antiochus was his maternal uncle. And when after Cleopatra`s death Egypt was ruled by Eulaius, the eunuch who was Philometor`s tutor, and by Leneus, and they were attempting to regain Syria, which Antiochus had fraudulently seized, warfare broke out between the boy Ptolemy and his uncle. And when they joined battle between Pelusium and Mt. Casius, Ptolemy`s generals were defeated. But then Antiochus showed leniency towards the boy, and making a pretense of friendship, he went up to Memphis and there received the crown after the Egyptian manner. Declaring that he was looking out for the lad`s interests, he subjected all Egypt to himself with only a small force of men, and he entered into rich and prosperous cities. And so he did things which his father had never done, nor his fathers` fathers. For none of the kings of Syria had ever laid Egypt waste after this fashion and scattered all their wealth. Moreover he was so shrewd that he even overcame by his deceit the well-laid plans of those who were the boy-king`s generals. This is the line of interpretation which Porphyry followed, pursuing the lead of Sutorius with much redundancy, discoursing of matters which we have summarized within a brief compass. 

R.  (On 1 25 f.)  Porphyry interprets this as applying to Antiochus, who set forth with a great army on a campaign against his sister`s son. But the king of the South, that is the generals of Ptolemy, were also roused to war with many and very powerful auxiliary forces, but they could not stand against the fraudulent schemes of Antiochus. For he pretended to be at peace with his sister`s son and ate bread with him, and afterwards he took possession of Egypt. 

S.  (On 1 27 f.)  There is no doubt but what Antiochus did conclude a peace with Ptolemy and ate at the same table with him and devised plots against him, and yet without attaining any success thereby, since he did not obtain his kingdom but was driven out by Ptolemy`s soldiers. 

T.  (On 1 29 f.)  Both the Greek and the Roman historians relate that after Antiochus had been expelled from Egypt and had gone back once more, he came to Judaea, that is, against the holy covenant, and that he despoiled the Temple and removed a huge amount of gold; and then, having stationed a garrison in the citadel, he returned to his own land. And then two years later he gathered an army against Ptolemy and came to the South. And while he was besieging his two nephews, the brothers of Ptolemy and sons of Cleopatra, at Alexandria, some Roman envoys arrived on the scene, one of whom was Marcus Popilius Laenas. And when he had found Antiochus standing on the shore and had conveyed the senatorial decree to him by which he was ordered to withdraw from those who were friends of the Roman people and to content himself with his own domain, then Antiochus delayed his reply in order to consult with his friends. But Laenas is said to have made a circle in the sand with the staff which he held in his hand, and to have drawn it around the king, saying, "The senate and people of Rome give order for you to make answer in this very spot as to what your decision is." At these words Antiochus was greatly alarmed and said, "If this is the good pleasure of the senate and people of Rome, then I must withdraw." And so he immediately set his army in motion. But he is said to have been dealt a heavy blow, not that he was killed but that he lost all of his proud prestige. ... We read of these matters at greater length in the exploits of the Maccabees [I Macc. 1], where we learn that after the Romans expelled him from Egypt, he came in anger against the covenant of the sanctuary and was welcomed by those who had forsaken the law of God and taken part in the religious rites of the Gentiles. 

U.  (On 1 31-43)  But those of the other viewpoint claim that the persons mentioned are those who were sent by Antiochus two years after he had plundered the Temple in order to exact tribute from the Jews, and also to eliminate the worship of God, setting up an image of Jupiter Olympius in the Temple at Jerusalem, and also statues of Antiochus himself. These are described as the abomination of desolation, having been set up when the burnt offering and continual sacrifice were taken away. 

(32)  And in Maccabees we read that there were some who, to be sure, pretended that they were custodians of God`s law, and later they came to terms with the Gentiles; yet the others adhered to their religion.

(33)  The books of Maccabees relate the great sufferings the Jews endured at the hands of Antiochus and they stand as a testimony of their triumph; for they endured fire and sword, slavery and rapine, and even the ultimate penalty of death itself for the sake of guarding the law of God. 

(34 f.)  Porphyry thinks that the "little help" was Mattathias of the village of (variant: mountain of) Modin, for he rebelled against the generals of Antiochus and attempted to preserve the worship of the true God [I Macc. 2]. He says he is called a little help because Mattathias was slain in battle; and later on his son Judas, who was called Maccabaeus, also fell in the struggle; and the rest of his brothers were likewise taken in by the deceit of their adversaries. 

(36)  Porphyry and the others who follow his lead suppose the reference to be to Antiochus Epiphanes, pointing out that he did raise himself up against the worship of God, and pushed his arrogance so far as to command his own statue to be set up in the Temple in Jerusalem. And as for the subsequent statement, "And he shall manage successfully until the wrath be accomplished, for the consummation shall be in him," they understand it to mean that his power will endure until such time as God becomes angry at him and orders him to be killed. For indeed Polybius and Diodorus, who composed the histories of the Bibliothecae (Libraries), relate that Antiochus not only took measures against the God of Judaea, but also was impelled by an all-consuming avarice to attempt the plunder of the temple of Diana in Elymais, because it was so wealthy. But he was so beset by the temple guard and the neighboring populace, and also by certain fearful apparitions, that he became demented and finally died of illness. And the historians record that this befell him because he had attempted to plunder the temple of Diana. 

(37 ff.)  But if we read it in this fashion: "And occupied with lust for women," understanding, "...he shall be," then it is more appropriate to the character of Antiochus. For he is said to have been an egregious voluptuary, and to have become such a disgrace to the dignity of kingship through his lewdness and seductions, that he publicly had intercourse with actresses and harlots, and satisfied his sexual passions in the presence of the people. As for the god Maozim, Porphyry has offered an absurd explanation, asserting that Antiochus`s generals set up a statue of Jupiter in the village of Modin, from which came Mattathias and his sons; moreover they compelled the Jews to offer blood-sacrifices to it, that is, to the god of Modin. ... (`garrisons`) Porphyry explained this as meaning that the man is going to fortify the citadel in Jerusalem and will station garrisons in the rest of the cities, and will instruct the Jews to worship a strange god, which doubtless means Jupiter. And displaying the idol to them, he will persuade them that they should worship it. Then he will bestow upon the deluded both honor and very great glory, and he shall deal with the rest who have borne rule in Judaea, and apportion estates unto them in return for their falsehood, and shall distribute gifts.

(40 f.) This too is referred by Porphyry to Antiochus, on the ground that in the eleventh year of his reign he warred for a second time against his nephew, Ptolemy Philometor. For when the latter heard that Antiochus had come, he gathered many thousands of soldiery. But Antiochus invaded many lands like a mighty tempest, with his chariots and horsemen and large navy, and laid everything waste as he passed through. And he came to the glorious land, that is, Judaea, ... And Antiochus used the ruins of the wall of the city to fortify the citadel, and thus he continued on his way to Egypt.  ... They say that in his haste to fight Ptolemy, the king of the South, Antiochus left untouched the Idumaeans, Moabites, and Ammonites, who dwelt to the side of Judaea, lest he should make Ptolemy the stronger by engaging in some other campaign. 

V.  (On 11:44-45)  Even for this passage Porphyry has some nebulous application to Antiochus, asserting that in his conflict with the Egyptians, Libyans, and Ethiopians, passing through them he was to hear of wars which had been stirred up against him in the North and the East. Thence he was to turn back and overcome the resistance of the Aradians, and lay waste the entire province along the coastline of Phoenicia. And then he was to proceed without delay against Artaxias, the king of Armenia, who was moving down from the regions of the East, and having slain a large number of his troops, he would pitch his tent in the place called Apedno which is located between the two broadest rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. But it is impossible to state upon what famous and holy mountain he took his seat, after he had proceeded to that point. After all, it cannot be shown that he took up his seat between two seas, and it would be foolish to interpret the two seas as being the two rivers of Mesopotamia. But Porphyry gets around this famous mountain by following the rendering of Theodotion, who said: ". . .upon the sacred Mount Saba between the two seas." And even though he supposes that Saba was the name of a mountain in Armenia or Mesopotamia, he cannot explain why it was holy. To be sure, if we assume the right of making things up, we can add the detail which Porphyry fails to mention, that the mountain, forsooth, was called holy, because it was consecrated to idols in conformity with the superstition of the Armenians.  The account then says: "And he shall come even unto the summit of that same mountain," ----supposedly in the province of Elam, which is the easternmost Persian area. And there when he purposed to plunder the temple of Diana, which contained countless sums of money, he was routed by the barbarians, for they honored that shrine with a remarkable veneration. And Antiochus, being overcome with grief, died in Tabes, a town in Persia. By use of a most artificial line of argument Porphyry has concocted these details as an affront to us; but even though he were able to prove that these statements applied to Antiochus instead of the Antichrist, what does that matter to us? For do we not on the basis of all the passages of Scripture prove the coming of Christ and the falsehood of the Antichrist? ... Porphyry ignores these things which are so very clear and maintains that the prophecy refers to the Jews, although we are well aware that they are to this very day in a state of bondage. And he claims that the person who composed the book under the name of Daniel made it all up in order to revive the hopes of his countrymen. Not that he was able to foreknow all of future history, but rather he records events that had already taken place. Thus Porphyry confines himself to false claims in regard to the final vision, substituting rivers for the sea, and positing a famous and holy mountain, Apedno even though he is unable to furnish any historical source in which he has read about it. 

W.  (On 1 1 ff.)  Up until this point Porphyry somehow managed to maintain his position and impose upon the credulity of the naive among our adherents as well as the poorly educated among his own. But what can he say of this chapter, in which is described the resurrection of the dead, with one group being revived for eternal life and the other group for eternal disgrace? He cannot even specify who the people were under Antiochus who shone like the brightness of the firmament, and those others who shone like the stars for all eternity. But what will pigheadedness not resort to? Like some bruised serpent, he lifts up his head as he is about to die, and pours forth his venom upon those who are themselves at the point of death. This too, he declares, was written with reference to Antiochus, for after he had invaded Persia, he left his army with Lysias, who was in charge of Antioch and Phoenicia, for the purpose of warring against the Jews and destroying their city of Jerusalem. All these details are related by Josephus, the author of the history of the Hebrews. Porphyry contends that the tribulation was such as had never previously occurred, and that a time came along such as had never been from the time that races began to exist even unto that time. But when victory was bestowed upon them, and the generals of Antiochus had been slain, and Antiochus himself had died in Persia, the people of Israel experienced salvation, even all who had been written down in the book of God, that is, those who defended the law with great bravery. Contrasted with them were those who proved to be transgressors of the Law and sided with the party of Antiochus. Then it was, he asserts, that these guardians of the Law, who had been, as it were, slumbering in the dust of the earth and were cumbered with a load of afflictions, and even hidden away, as it were, in the tombs of wretchedness, rose up once more from the dust of the earth to a victory unhoped for, and lifted up their heads, rising up to everlasting life, even as the transgressors rose up to everlasting disgrace. But those masters and teachers who possessed a knowledge of the Law shall shine like the heaven, and those who have exhorted the more backward peoples to observe the rites of God shall blaze forth after the fashion of the stars for all eternity. He also adduces the historical account concerning the Maccabees, in which it is said that many Jews under the leadership of Mattathias and Judas Maccabaeus fled to the desert and hid in caves and holes in the rocks, and came forth again after the victory. [I Macc. 2.] These things, then, were foretold in metaphorical language as if it concerned a resurrection of the dead. 

(5 f.)  Porphyry, of course, assigns this time to the period of Antiochus, after his usual fashion...

(7)  Porphyry interprets a time and times and half a time to mean three and a half years; and we for our part do not deny that this accords with the idiom of Sacred Scripture. ... If therefore the earlier references which were plainly written concerning the Antichrist are assigned by Porphyry to Antiochus and to the three and a half years during which he asserts the Temple was deserted, then he is under obligation to prove that the next statement, "His kingdom is eternal, and all kings shall serve and obey him," likewise pertains to Antiochus, or else, as he himself conjectures, to the people of the Jews. ... When it is stated that the people of God shall have been scattered ---- either under the persecution of Antiochus, as Porphyry claims, or of Antichrist, which we deem to be closer to fact ---- at that time shall all these things be fulfilled.

(11)  Porphyry asserts that these one thousand two hundred and ninety days were fulfilled in the desolation of the Temple in the time of Antiochus...

(12)  Porphyry explains this passage in the following way, that the forty-five days beyond the one thousand two hundred and ninety signify the interval of victory over the generals of Antiochus, or the period when Judas Maccabaeus fought with bravery and cleansed the Temple and broke the idol to pieces, offering blood-sacrifices in the Temple of God. 

(13)  And it is vain for Porphyry to claim that all these things which were spoken concerning the Antichrist under the type of Antiochus actually refer to Antiochus alone. As we have already mentioned, these false claims have been answered at greater length by Eusebius of Caesarea, Apollinarius of Laodicea, and partially also by that very able writer, the martyr Methodius; and anyone who knows of these things can look them up in their writings.

C4646. Augustine, Epistle 102: 30 (To Deogratias; 6 questions against the pagans):

Question VI. The last question proposed is concerning Jonah, and it is put as if it were not from Porphyry, but as being a standing subject of ridicule among the Pagans; for his words are: "In the next place, what are we to believe concerning Jonah, who is said to have been three days in a whale`s belly? The thing is utterly improbable and incredible, that a man swallowed with his clothes on should have existed in the inside of a fish. If, however, the story is figurative, be pleased to explain it. Again, what is meant by the story that a gourd sprang up above the head of Jonah after he was vomited by the fish? What was the cause of this gourd`s growth?" Questions such as these I have seen discussed by Pagans amidst loud laughter, and with great scorn.

C4747. Eusebius, Demonstratio, VI: 18: 11: from 

Now if any one supposes that this was fulfilled in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, let him inquire if the rest of the prophecy can be referred to the times of Antiochus ---- I mean the captivity undergone by the people, the standing of the Lord`s feet on the Mount of Olives, and whether the Lord became King of all the earth in that day, and whether the name of the Lord encircled the whole earth and the desert during the reign of Antiochus.  ....  

III. Attacks on the works and sayings of Jesus

Jerome, Against Vigilantius, 10:

You will hardly follow the heathen and impious Porphyry and Eunomius, and pretend that these are the tricks of the demons, and that they do not really cry out, but feign their torments. 

79. Augustine, Epistle 102: 16 (to Deogratias, 6 questions against the pagans): 

Question III. Let us now look to the question which comes next in order. "They find fault," he says, "with the sacred ceremonies, the sacrificial victims, the burning of incense, and all the other parts of worship in our temples; and yet the same kind of worship had its origin in antiquity with themselves, or from the God whom they worship, for He is represented by them as having been in need of the first-fruits."

80. Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel V: 1: 9ff: 

But with regard to the fact that the evil daemons no longer have any power to prevail since our Saviour`s advent among men, the very same author who is the advocate of the daemons in our time, in his compilation against us, bears witness by speaking in the following manner:

[PORPHYRY] `And now they wonder that for so many years the plague has attacked the city, Asclepius and the other gods being no longer resident among us. For since Jesus began to be honoured, no one ever heard of any public assistance from the gods.` 

81. Augustine, Epistle 102: 8 (to Deogratias, 6 questions against the pagans): 

Question II. Concerning the epoch of the Christian religion, they have advanced, moreover, some other things, which they might call a selection of the more weighty arguments of Porphyry against the Christians: "If Christ," they say, "declares Himself to be the Way of salvation, the Grace and the Truth, and affirms that in Him alone, and only to souls believing in Him, is the way of return to God, what has become of men who lived in the many centuries before Christ came? To pass over the time," he adds, "which preceded the rounding of the kingdom of Latium, let us take the beginning of that power as if it were the beginning of the human race. In Latium itself gods were worshipped before Alba was built; in Alba, also, religious rites and forms of worship in the temples were maintained. Rome itself was for a period of not less duration, even for a long succession of centuries, unacquainted with Christian doctrine. What, then, has become of such an innumerable multitude of souls, who were in no wise blameworthy, seeing that He in whom alone saving faith can be exercised had not yet favoured men with His advent? The whole world, moreover, was not less zealous than Rome itself in the worship racticed in the temples of the gods. Why, then," he asks, "did He who is called the Saviour withhold Himself for so many centuries of the world? And let it not be said," he adds, "that provision had been made for the human race by the old Jewish law. It was only after a long time that the Jewish law appeared and flourished within the narrow limits of Syria, and after that, it gradually crept onwards to the coasts of Italy; but this was not earlier than the end of the reign of Caius, or, at the earliest, while he was on the throne. What, then, became of the souls of men in Rome and Latium who lived before the time of the Caesars, and were destitute of the grace of Christ, because He had not then come?"

82. Jerome, Epistle 133: 9 (To Ctesiph.):

Or lastly make your own the favorite cavil of your associate Porphyry, and ask how God can be described as pitiful and of great mercy when from Adam to Moses and from Moses to the coming of Christ He has suffered all nations to die in ignorance of the Law and of His commandments. For Britain, that province so fertile in despots, the Scottish tribes, and all the barbarians round about as far as the ocean were alike without knowledge of Moses and the prophets. Why should Christ`s coming have been delayed to the last times? Why should He not have come before so vast a number had perished? 

85. Augustine, Epistle 102: 28: (to Deogratias, 6 questions against the pagans): 

Question V. The objector who has brought forward these questions from Porphyry has added this one in the next place: Will you have the goodness to instruct me as to whether Solomon said truly or not that God has no Son?

91. Augustine, Epistle 102: 22: (to Deogratias, 6 questions against the pagans): 

Question IV. Let us, in the next place, consider what he has laid down concerning the proportion between sin and punishment when, misrepresenting the gospel, he says: "Christ threatens eternal punishment to those who do not believe in Him;" and yet He says in another place, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." "Here," he remarks, "is something sufficiently absurd and contradictory; for if He is to award punishment according to measure, and all measure is limited by the end of time, what mean these threats of eternal punishment?

92. Augustine, Epistle 102: 2: (to Deogratias, 6 questions against the pagans): 

Question I. Concerning the resurrection. This question perplexes some, and they ask, Which of two kinds of resurrection corresponds to that which is promised to us? Is it that of Christ, or that of Lazarus? They say, "If the former, how can this correspond with the resurrection of those who have been born by ordinary generations, seeing that He was not thus born? If, on the other hand, the resurrection of Lazarus is said to correspond to ours, here also there seems to be a discrepancy, since the resurrection of Lazarus was accomplished in the case of a body not yet dissolved, but the same body in which he was known by the name of Lazarus; whereas ours is to be rescued after many centuries from the mass in which it has ceased to be distinguishable from other things. Again, if our state after the resurrection is one of blessedness, in which the body shall be exempt from every kind of wound, and from the pain of hunger, what is meant by the statement that Christ took food, and showed his wounds after His resurrection? For if He did it to convince the doubting, when the wounds were not real, He racticed on them a deception; whereas, if He showed them what was real, it follows that wounds received by the body shall remain in the state which is to ensue after resurrection.

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