Bardaisan’s son Harmonius received his education in Athens, a hotbed of intellectual pursuit and learning. True to his name, he became an accomplished composer, and on return to Edessa he set his father’s writings to catchy tunes. Bardaisan and his followers would spend rowdy evenings drinking wine and singing these songs. By day they would go hunting, with Bardaisan’s unparalleled archery skills on full display. Bardaisan taught that God had not created the world ex nihilo, but had simply shuffled the pre-existing elements (water, earth, fire and light) into a specific order. With each new generation, the elements merged into an increasingly purer form, and thus procreation was encouraged. Moreover, it seemed that the world had been created to be enjoyed by humankind.
Bardaisan’s ideas were at odds with the Marcionites, a black-clad vegan sect who practiced abstinence. They believed that the material world lay sandwiched between a good God and an evil God. The body was considered evil and tainted, and thus sexual intercourse was forbidden, as was the consumption of meat. Not surprisingly, the two sects were is stark contrast to each other, and competition for adherents was fierce. I know which side I would join.