1 But all men are vain, who are not under the knowledge of God, and who, from these good things that are seen, were not able to understand he who is, nor, by paying attention to the works, did they acknowledge he who was the artisan.
2 Instead, they had considered either the fire, or the air, or the atmosphere, or the circle of stars, or the great sea, or the sun and moon, to be the gods that rule the world.
3 If they, being delighted by such sights, supposed them to be gods, let them know how great the Lord of them is in splendor. For he who created all things is the author of beauty.
4 Or, if they wondered at their power and their effects, let them understand by these things, that he who created them is mightier than they are.
5 For, by the greatness of the creation and its beauty, the creator of these will be able to be seen discernibly.
6 Yet, up to this point, the complaint about this is lesser. For perhaps they made a mistake in this, while desiring and seeking to find God.
7 And, indeed, having some familiarity with him through his works, they search, and they are persuaded, because the things that they are seeing are good.
8 But, then again, neither can their debt be ignored.
9 For, if they were able to know enough so that they could value the universe, how is it they did not easily discover the Lord of it?
10 Yet they are unhappy, and their hope is among the dead, for they have called ‘gods’ the works of the hands of men, gold and silver, the inventions of skill, and the likeness of animals, or a useless stone, the work of an ancient hand.
11 Or, it is as if a craftsman, a workman of the forest, had cut straight wood, and, with his expertise, shaved off all of its bark, and, with his skill, diligently fashioned a vessel, practical for use in life,
12 and even the remains of his work were exhausted in the preparation of food;
13 and, from the remainder of this, which has become useful for nothing, a curved piece of wood and full of knots, he diligently carves it in his spare time, and, through the knowledge of his art, forms it and makes it in the image of a man,
14 or something comparable to an animal, thoroughly rubbing it with red ochre, to make it red with the color of the pigment, and to cover every imperfection which is in it;
15 and it is as if he made a fitting resting place for it, even setting it in a wall and fastening it with iron,
16 providing for it, lest it should fall, knowing that it is unable to help itself, for it is an image and it is in need of help.
17 And then, making an offering, he inquires about his wealth, and about his sons, and about marriage. And he is not ashamed to talk to that which has no soul.
18 And for health, indeed, something unhealthy is being prayed to, and for life, he petitions what is dead, and for help, he calls upon something helpless,
19 and for a good journey, he entreats that which is unable to walk, and for acquiring, and for working, and for success in all things, he entreats that which is useless in all things.