by Dante Alighieri
Paradiso Faith Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Canto.Line). We used Allen Mandelbaum's translation.
[The Eagle]: …"No one without belief in Christ
has ever risen to this kingdom – either
before or after He was crucified.
But there are many who now cry 'Christ! Christ!'
who at the Final Judgment shall be far
less close to Him than one who knows not Christ;
the Ethiopian will shame such Christians
when the two companies are separated,
the one forever rich, the other poor." (Par. XIX, 103-111)
Here, the Eagle points out the false words of sinful men who insincerely cry out "Christ! Christ!" without living by their words. He suggests that their faith is so faulty that even "Ethiopians" who "know…not Christ" will be better rewarded in their innocent ignorance than these false Christians.
[Dante to St. Peter]: …"Father, as the truthful pen
of your dear brother wrote – that brother who,
with you, set Rome upon the righteous road –
faith is the substance of the things we hope for
and is the evidence of things not seen;
and this I take to be its quiddity." (Par. XXIV, 60-65)
St. Peter and Dante's conversation here echoes one that St. Peter had with St. Paul ("your dear brother") in the New Testament. There, St. Peter questions St. Paul on faith, just as he does with Dante here, and Dante answers with the identical words St. Paul uses. Faith is, paradoxically, a "substance" of things not yet achieved, but "hope[d] for" and also "evidence of things not seen." These are unusual definitions because we usually think of "substance" and "evidence" as things we can perceive with one or more of our five senses.
[Dante to St. Peter]: I next: "The deep things that on me bestow
their image here, are hid from sight below,
so that their being lies in faith alone,
and on that faith the highest hope is founded;
and thus it is that faith is called a substance.
And it is from this faith that we must reason,
deducing what we can from syllogisms,
without our being able to see more:
thus faith is also called an evidence." (Par. XXIV, 70-78)
Dante explains why faith is a "substance": the "deep things" which are "hid[den] from sight" are Paradise and its blessedness. Because man is blind to these things and cannot sense, he must take the assumption of "their being" on faith alone. Faith is also called "evidence" because, where we usually take evidence to be something we can sense, Paradise and blessedness cannot be perceived by man, and thus their "evidence" must be only faith.