Because of my series on Gnosticism, and the fact that Saint Anthony is my patron saint (chosen at chrismation), I thought I would offer this semi-appropriate selection from Flaubert’s The Temptation of Saint Anthony to honor St Anthony’s feast.
Then what is the Word? … What was Jesus?
He was the husband of Acharamoth repentant!
He was Shem, the son of Noah!
He was Melchisedech!
He was only a man!
He assumed the appearance of one! He simulated the Passion!
MARCEL OF ANCRYA
He was a development of the Father!
Father and Son are but two modes of one God’s manifestation!
He was first in Adam, then in man!
And He will rise again!
Impossible – his body being celestial!
PAUL OF SAMOSATA
He became God only from the time of his baptism!
He dwells in the sun!
And all the Heresiarchs form a circle about Anthony, who weeps, covering his face with his hands.
With a red beard, and spots of leprosy on his skin, approaches close to Anthony, and, with a hideous sneer, exclaims:
His soul was the soul of Esau! He suffered from the Bellero-phontian sickness. Did not his mother, the seller of perfumes, surrender to the Roman soldier Pantherus, one harvest evening, on a bed of sheaves?ANTHONY
Suddenly raising his head, looks at them in a moment of silence; then advancing boldly upon them exclaims:
Doctors, magicians, bishops and deacons, men and phantoms, away from me! begone! Ye are all lies!
We have martyrs more martyrs than thine, prayers that are more difficult, outbursts of love more sublime, ecstasies as prolonged as thine are.
But ye have no revelation! no proofs!
They all at once brandish in the air their rolls of papyrus, tablets of wood, scrolls of leather, rolls of woven stuff bearing inscriptions; and elbowing, and pushing each other, they all shout to Anthony:
Behold the Gospel of the Hebrews!
Behold the Gospel of the Lord!
The Gospel of Eve!
The Gospel of Thomas!
The Gospel of Judas!
The Treatise upon the Destiny of the Soul!
The Prophecy of Barkouf!
Anthony struggles, breaks from them, escapes them…
— Gustave Flaubert, The Temptation of Saint Anthony. Trans. Lafcadio Hearn (New York: Modern Library, 2001), 71 – 74.