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Justin Martyr - Hortatory Address to the Greeks

Chapter XXIX.—Origin of Plato’s doctrine of form.

Chapter XXIX.--Origin of Plato's doctrine of form.

And Plato, too, when he says that form is the third original principle next to God and matter, has manifestly received this suggestion from no other source than from Moses, having learned, indeed, from the words of Moses the name of form, but not having at the same time been instructed by the initiated, that without mystic insight it is impossible to have any distinct knowledge of the writings of Moses. For Moses wrote that God had spoken to him regarding the tabernacle in the following words: "And thou shalt make for me according to all that I show thee in the mount, the pattern of the tabernacle." [2574] And again: "And thou shalt erect the tabernacle according to the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shalt thou make it." [2575] And again, a little afterwards: "Thus then thou shalt make it according to the pattern which was showed to thee in the mount." [2576] Plato, then, reading these passages, and not receiving what was written with the suitable insight, thought that form had some kind of separate existence before that which the senses perceive, and he often calls it the pattern of the things which are made, since the writing of Moses spoke thus of the tabernacle: "According to the form showed to thee in the mount, so shalt thou make it."