MELITO OF SARDIS
TEXTS AND TRANSLATIONS EDITED BY
STUART GEORGE HALL
OXFORD AT THE CLARENDON PRESS 1979
For this reason a preliminary sketch is made of the future thing
out of wax or of clay or of wood,
in order that what will soon arise
taller in height, 230
and stronger in power,
and beautiful in form,
and rich in its construction,
may be seen through a small and perishable sketch.
37 But when that of which it is the model arises, 235
that which once bore the image of the future thing
is itself destroyed as growing useless
having yielded to what is truly real the image of it;
and what once was precious becomes worthless
when what is truly precious has been revealed. 240
38 For to each belongs a proper season:
a proper time for the model,
a proper time for the material,
a proper time for the reality.
You make the model; 245
you want that
because you see in it the image of the future thing.
You produce the material before the model;
you want that
because of what is going to arise in it. 250
You complete the work;
you want that alone,
you love that alone,
because in it alone you see the pattern and the material and the reality 255
40 The people then was a model by way of preliminary sketch,
and the law was the writing of a parable;
the gospel is the recounting and fulfilment of the law,
and the church is the repository of the reality. 265
41 The model then was precious before the reality,
and the parable was marvellous before the interpretation;
that is, the people was precious before the church arose,
and the law was marvellous before the gospel was elucidated.
42 But when the church arose 270
and the gospel took precedence,
the model was made void, conceding its power to the reality,
and the law was fulfilled, conceding its power to the gospel.
43 In the same way
as the model is made void, conceding the image
to the truly real,
and the parable is fulfilled, being elucidated by the interpretation,
just so also the law was fulfilled when the gospel was elucidated, 275
and the people was made void when the church arose;
and the model was abolished when the Lord was revealed,
and today, things once precious have become worthless,
since the really precious things have been revealed.
44 Once, the slaying of the sheep was precious, 280
but it is worthless now became of the life of the Lord;
the death of the sheep was precious,
but it is worthless now because of the salvation of the Lord;
the blood of the sheep was precious,
but it is worthless now because of the Spirit of the Lord; 285
a speechless lamb was precious,
but it is worthless now became of the spotless Son;
the temple below was precious,
but it is worthless now because of the Christ above.
45 The Jerusalem below was precious, 290
but it is worthless now became of the Jerusalem above;
the narrow inheritance was precious,
but it is worthless now became of the widespread bounty.
For it is not in one place nor in a little plot
that the glory of God is established, 295
but on all the ends of the inhabited earth
his bounty overflows,
and there the almighty God has made his dwelling
46 You have now heard the account of the model and what corresponds to it;
listen also to the constitution of the mystery.
What is the Pascha?
It gets its name from its characteristic:
from suffer (pathein) comes suffering (paschein). 305
Learn therefore who is the suffering one,
and who shares the suffering of the suffering one,
47 and why the Lord is present on the earth
to clothe himself with the suffering one
and carry him off to the heights of heaven. 310
It is he that delivered us from slavery to liberty,
from darkness to light,
from death to life, 475
from tyranny to eternal royalty,
and made us a new priesthood
and an eternal people personal to him.
69 He is the Pascha of our salvation.
It is he who in many endured many things: 480
It is he that was in Abel murdered,
as and in Isaac bound,
and in Jacob exiled?
and in Joseph sold,
and in Moses exposed, 485
and in the lamb slain, and in David persecuted,
and in the prophets dishonoured.
70 It is he that was enfleshed in a virgin,
that was hanged on a tree, 490
72 It is he that has been murdered. 505
And where has he been murdered? In the middle of Jerusalem.
By whom? By Israel?
Why? Because he healed their lame
and cleansed their lepers
and brought light to their blind 510
and raised their dead,
that is why he died.
Where is it written in law and prophets,
' They repaid me bad things for good
and childlessness for my soul, 515
when they devised evil things against me and said,
"Let us bind the just one,
because he is a nuisance to us"?
73 What strange crime, Israel, have you committed?
You dishonoured him that honoured you; 520
you disgraced him that glorified you;
you denied him that acknowledged you;
you disclaimed him that proclaimed you;
you killed him that made you live.
74 What have you done, Israel? Or is it not written for you, 525
'You shall not shed innocent blood,'
so that you may not die an evil death ?
'I did', says Israel, 'kill the Lord.
Why? Because he had to die.'
You are mistaken, Israel, to use such subtle evasions 530
about the slaying of the Lord.
He had to suffer, but not by you;
he had to be dishonoured, but not by you;
he had to be judged, but not by you;
he had to be hung up, but not by you 535
and your right hand.
77 But you, Israel, did not make this cry to God, 545
nor have you cleared yourself before the Sovereign,
nor did you respect his deeds.
78 A withered hand restored to the body did not win your respect,
nor eyes of disabled ones opened by a hand,
nor impotent bodies made sound by a word; 550
nor did the most unprecedented sign win your respect,
a corpse roused from a tomb already four days old.
79 So then, you set these things
and rushed to the slaying of the Lord.
You prepared for him sharp nails and false witnesses 555
and ropes and scourges
and vinegar and
and sword and forceful restraint as against a murderous robber.
For you brought both scourges for his body
and thorn for his head; 560
and you bound his good hands,
which formed you from earth;
and that good mouth of his which fed you with life
you fed with gall.
And you killed your Lord at the great feast. 565
80 And you were making merry,
while he was starving;
you had wine to drink and bread to eat,
he had vinegar and gall;
87 Ungrateful Israel, come and take issue with me
about your ingratitude. 635
How much did you value being formed by him?
How much did you value the seeking out of your fathers?
How much did you value the descent into Egypt
and your sustenance there through handsome Joseph?
88 How much did you value the ten plagues ? 640
How much did you value the nightly pillar
and the daily cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea?
How much did you value the giving of manna from heaven
and the supply of water from a rock 645
and the law-giving at Horeb
and the inheritance of the land
and the benefits there?
89 How much did you value the suffering ones
whom by his own presence he healed? 650
Value for me the withered hand
which he restored to the body;
90 value for me those blind from birth
to whom he brought light with a word;
value for me those who lay dead 655
whom he raised from the dead already four days old.
93 Bitter therefore for you is the feast of unleavened bread, as it is
written for you:
You shall eat unleavened bread with bitter flavours.
Bitter for you are the nails you sharpened, 680
bitter for you the tongue you incited,
bitter for you the false witnesses you instructed,
bitter for you the ropes you got ready,
97 O unprecedented
murder! Unprecedented crime!
The Sovereign has been made unrecognizable by his naked body,
and is not even allowed a garment to keep him from view.
That is why the luminaries turned away, 720
and the day was darkened,
so that he might hide the one stripped bare upon the tree,
darkening not the body of the Lord
but the eyes of men.
98 For when the people did not tremble, the earth quaked; 725
when the people were not terrified, the heavens were terrified;
when the people did not tear their clothes, the angel tore his?
when the people did not lament, the Lord thundered out of heaven
and the Highest gave voice.
99 Therefore, O
you did not quake in the presence of the Lord,
so you quaked at the assault of foes;
you were not terrified in the presence of the Lord,
< ....... >
you did not lament over the Lord, 735
so you lamented over your firstborn;
you did not tear your clothes when the Lord was hung,
so you tore them over those who were slain;
you forsook the Lord,
you were not found by him; 740
you did not accept the Lord,
you were not pitied by him;
you dashed down the Lord,
you were dashed to the ground.
(I00) And you lie dead, 745
but he has risen from the dead
and gone up to the heights of heaven.