An investigation into the cultural ethos of the Samaritan Memar Marqah with special reference to the work of Philo of Alexandria
In Chapter III I take a first step towards
Identifying Margah's account of God's nature, by
expounding his conception of divine oneness. Margah
regards God as one, both in the sense that He is unique
and in the sense that He lacks internal plurality. I
trace this conception of divine oneness back through
Philo to Aristotle. Certain implications of divine
oneness are discussed, namely, the spacelessness,
timelessness and incorporeality of God, and Marqah's
position on these conceptions is shown to be the same as
those of earlier philosophers.
In Chapter IV I discuss, with special reference to
Philo, Marqah's account of the unknowability of God.
His account is based conceptually on his conception of
God's oneness. I show how passages in which Marqah
speaks of men knowing God can be squared with his
doctrine of God's unknowability; we can know that ; God
is, but not what He is. On this matter Margah's
position is identical with Philos.
In Chapter VI discuss Marqah's apparent inconsistency
in holding both that God is internally one and that He
has many attributes, such as justice, mercy, knowledge
and power. I argue that all these attributes, which can
be regarded as the powers of God, are God's "properties"
in the Aristotelian logical sense of the term; they are
not part of God's essence but belong to Him by virtue
of His essence. Various characteristics of God's. powers,
and the question of the knowability of those, powers, are
discussed. Philo’s writings are frequently referred to
since they shed a great deal of light on the teaching
of the Memar on the divine powers. On this topic the
positions of Philo and Marqah are almost identical.
In Chapter VI I discuss Marqah's conception of God's
personhood, contrasting his position with Aristotle's
and showing its similarity to Philos. Margah speaks
of God as just, merciful, compassionate, loving and so
one I discuss the various ways in which Marqah's position
can be defended against the charge of anthropomorphism,
and then examine: various of the personal qualities Marqah
attributes to God. Special attention is payed to the
nature of divine knowledge and of the divine will. It is
argued that Marqah held that divine knowledge and the
divine will are in crucial respects wholly unlike human
knowledge and will.
Chapter VII deals with Marqah's account of the creation
and of the nature of the created world. His position is
contrasted with that of Hellenic philosophers from
Thales to Aristotle, who either ignore the possibility
of creation ex nihilo (Thales and Anaximander) or reject
its possibility (Aristotle), Plato's Timaeus doctrine,
involving the idea of the demiurge employing a model in
creating, is expounded, and it is suggested that Plato
was Marqah's target when Marqah attacks the idea that
God used a model. Marqah's account of the ac? of
creation, seen as an act of divine will, is examined.
His acceptance of miracles is discussed, and
Is squared with his idea that the systematicity of the world testifies
to the oneness of God.