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The Holy Orthodox Bible 4 Makkabees

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  • The Holy Orthodox Bible 4 Makkabees

    The Book of
    4th Makkabees
    Chapter 1

    As I am about to discuss a most philosophical subject, whether pious reason is absolute master of the passions, I would willingly advise you to give the utmost heed to philosophy. 2 For the subject is essential to everyone who is seeking knowledge, and furthermore it includes the praise of prudence, the highest virtue. 3 If, then, it is readily apparent that reason rules over the passions which stand in the way of self-control, such as gluttony and lust, 4 it is also evident that it holds sway over the passions that hinder one from justice, such as malice; and of those which are hindrances to courage, namely anger, fear and pain. 5 Some might perhaps ask, If reason rules the passions, does it not also master forgetfulness and ignorance? Their attempt at argument is utterly ridiculous. 6 For reason does not rule over its own passions, but over those that are contrary to justice, courage and self-control, and it does not overcome them so as to destroy them, but so that one may not give way to them. 7 I might prove to you, from may other considerations, that religious reasoning is sole master of the passions; 8 but I shall prove it with the greatest force from the fortitude of Eleazar, and seven brethren, and their mother, who suffered death in defense of virtue. 9 For all these, despising suffering even unto death, by this contempt, demonstrated that reasoning has command over the passions. 10 For their virtues, then, it is right that I should commend those men who died with their mother at this time on behalf of nobility and goodness; and would also count them blessed for the honor in which they are held. 11 For they, winning admiration not only from men in general, but even from the persecutors, for their courage and endurance, became the means of the destruction of tyranny over their nation, having conquered the tyrant by their endurance, so that by them their country was purified. 12 But we may now at once enter upon the question, having commenced, as is our wont, with laying down the doctrine, and so proceed to the account of these persons, giving glory to the all-wise God. 13 The question, therefore, is, whether reason is absolute master of the passions. 14 Let us determine, then, What is reason? And what is passion? And how many forms are there of passions? And whether reason bears sway over all of these? 15 Now reason is the intellect accompanied by a life of rectitude, putting foremost the consideration of wisdom. 16 And wisdom is knowledge of divine and human things, and of their causes. 17 And this is contained in the education of the Law; by means of which we learn divine things reverently, and human things to our advantage. 18 And the forms of wisdom are prudence, and justice, and courage, and self-control. 19 The leading one of these is prudence; by whose means, indeed, it is that reasoning bears rule over the passions. 20 Of the passions, pleasure and pain are the two most comprehensive; and they also by nature refer to both body and soul. 21 And there are many consequences surrounding pleasure and pain. 22 Before pleasure is lust; and after pleasure, joy. 23 And before pain is fear; and after pain is sorrow. 24 Wrath is affection, common to pleasure and to pain, if any one will pay attention when it comes upon him. 25 And there exists in pleasure a malicious tendency, which is the most complex of all the affections. 26 In the soul it is arrogance, and love of money, and vain gloriousness, and contention, and faithlessness, and malice. 27 In the body it is greediness and gormandizing, and solitary gluttony. 28 As pleasure and pain are, therefore, two growths from the body and the soul, so there are many offshoots of these passions. 29 And reason, the master cultivator, weeds and prunes these severally, and ties them up, and waters, and thoroughly irrigates them, and in every way improves the materials of the morals and affections. 31 For reason is the leader of the virtues, but it is the sole ruler of the passions. Observe then first, through the very things that stand in the way of temperance, that reason is absolute ruler of the passions.
    31 Now temperance consists of a command over the lusts. 32 But of the lusts, some belong to the soul, others to the body, and over both of these reason appears to prevail. 33 For whence is it, otherwise, that when urged on to forbidden foods, we reject the gratification that would ensue from them? Is it not because reason is able to prevail over the appetites? I for one think so.34 Therefore, when we crave after sea food and birds, and animals, and all kinds of food that are forbidden to us by the Law, we abstain because of the dominance of reason. 35 For the affections of our appetites are resisted by the temperate understanding and bent back again, and reason reins in all the emotions of the body.

  • #2
    4th Makkabees (LXX)

    Chapter 2

    And why is it astonishing if the lusts of the soul for the enjoyment of beauty are rendered powerless? 2 It is for this reason, therefore, that the temperate Joseph is praised in that by reasoning, he subdued sexual desire. 3 For, although young, and ripe for sexual intercourse, he abrogated by his reason the frenzy of his passions. 4 And it is not merely the frenzied urges of sexual desires, but that of every desire, that reason is able to prevail. 5 For instance, the Law says, Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife, or anything that belongs to thy neighbor. 6 Now, then, since it is the Law which has forbidden us to desire, I shall much the more easily persuade you, that reason is able to govern our lusts, just as it does the affections which are impediments to justice. 7 Since in what way is a solitary eater, and a glutton, and a drunkard learn a better way, unless it be clear that reason is lord of the passions? 8 A man, therefore, who adopts a way of life in keeping with the Law, even if he be a lover of money, straightway puts force upon his own disposition; lending to the needy without interest, and cancelling the debt when the seventh year arrives. 9 And should a man be stingy, he is ruled by the law acting through reason; so that he does not glean his harvest crops, nor gathers the last of the grapes from the vineyard. And in reference to other points we may perceive that it is reason that conquers the passions. 10 For the Law conquers even affection toward parents, not surrendering virtue on their account. 11 And it prevails over love of one’s wife, rebuking her when she transgresses the Law. 12 And it takes precedence over the love of parents toward their children, for they punish them for wickedness; and it is sovereign over the relationship of friends, rebuking them then they act wicked. 13 And think it not a strange assertion that reason can on behalf of the Law conquer even enmity. 14 It does not allow the cutting down the cultivated trees of an enemy, but preserves the property of enemies from marauders, and helps to rise up what has fallen. 15 And reason appears to overcome even the more violent passions: love of power, vainglory, boasting, arrogance and malice. 16 For the temperate understanding repels all these malicious passions, as it does wrath - for it masters even this. 17 Thus Moses, when angered against Dathan and Abirom, did nothing to them in wrath, but controlled his anger by reason. 18 For the temperate mind is able, as I said, to get the better of the passions, and to alter some, and to render others powerless. 19 For why, else, does our most wise father Jacob blame Symeon and Levi for having irrationally slaughtered the whole race of the Shechemites, saying, Cursed be their anger. 20 For if reason did not possess the power of subduing anger, he would not have spoken thus. 21 For at the time when God created man, He implanted within him passions and habits, 22 but, at the same time, He enthroned above all the sacred governor, the mind, among all the senses. 23 And He gave the Law to this mind, and by living according to it one will rule a kingdom that is temperate, and just, and good, and courageous. 24 How, then, a man might say, if reason be master of the passions, has it no control over forgetfulness and ignorance?


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