Irenaeus and The Great Cucumber
Irenaeus of Lyons died on this day in 195. Since he is best known for his arguments against the gnostic heresies of his day, particularly the version espoused by Valentinus, I thought it would be appropriate to commemorate the anniversary of his death with one of my favorite passages from Against Heresies – The Great Cucumber – in which he mocks gnosticism for its arbitrary and complex hierarchy of divine beings.
There is a certain Proarche, royal, surpassing all thought, a power existing before every other substance, and extended into space in every direction. But along with it there exists a power which I term a Gourd; and along with this Gourd there exists a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd and Emptiness, since they are one, produced (and yet did not simply produce, so as to be apart from themselves) a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable, and delicious, which fruit-language calls a Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a Melon. These powers, the Gourd, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth the remaining multitude…. (Against Heresies 1.11.4)