Monday, December 15, 2008

A Book Report: Against Heresies by St. Irenaeus

Let us start with this book's most obvious fault: It is incredibly boring! Unless you get the point of the book, all you get is Bragging Rights from reading it. The plot is repetitive. Written in the pretensive diction required to fairly state the Doctrines of the Gnostics, the plot is that a god and a goddess make love, have a godling, and give their little godling a ridiculous name. The little godling grows up, finds another goddess to fall in love with and procreate with and another godling is born to recieve another ridiculous name. This goes on for 20-30 pages. In St. Irenaeus'es Obvious Defense with respect to boredom, he is quoting typical Gnostic Gospels, so that the Gnostics are the Real Bores!

Then, St. Irenaeus gets to the point. Why would gods and goddess procreate just to give their little godlings ridiculous names? Would not these gods and godessess, the dieties of the Gnostics, be of questionable Wisdom, and therefore not be dieties at all? This is the highlight of the book.

Then, the book gets REALLY BORING!!! St. Irenaeus states that this mindless procreation and baby-naming is the boilerplate of all of the varities of Gnostic Scripture. The rest of the book becomes a Taxonomy of the Gnostics, analogous to a Field Guide to the birds of a given area. St. Irenaeus goes into the various species of Gnostics and their holy books, in much the same manner that a Bird Watcher would go about writing a Field Guide. [There goes a Ruby Crested Gnostic now! Listen to his distinctive warble!]

Despite its obvious shortcomings, Against Heresies is a VERY NECESSARY book! It is the first guide to heterodox beliefs by a Christain author. Historically, this book became the driving force that prevented the Gnostics from hijacking Early Christianity in its Infancy by intermingling their Scripture with Christain Scripture. Against Heresies did its job in the only way it could, and its influence is as great as any other book on Christianity. Without this book, the Bible might not have been compiled for several hundred more years, if at all.


Jnorm888 said...

Thanks for this post.


Constantino della Brazos said...

You flatter me, Jnorm888. Thanks!