Possible Origenic Homily – Transcription/Translation Excerpts

As promised, this post will contain a short transcription and translation of Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Codex graeca 314, the codex which scholars recently have rediscovered and believe contains a large number of homilies of Origen of Alexandria. Alin Suciu and Roger Pearse both have great summaries of the discovery. Mark Bilby has noted on Suciu’s blog that these may well be the earliest, large scale treatments on the Psalms extant, which means they are a big deal.

I picked a rather arbitrary spot to transcribe and translate. I decided to start with the 3rd homily on Psalm 76 (LXX). This begins on folio 193v (page 393 in my PDF). In this excerpt, Origen is commenting on the nature of the “waters which see God,” which comes from Psalm 77:16 (Hebrew numbering). The NETS translates it thus, “The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed. The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed.”

Our author proceeds to explain the nature of these waters, and their relationship with the three heavens. The comments are speculative and “cosmic” in nature, which comport nicely with Origen’s reputation. That, along with a few stylistic characteristics make me think that Origenic authorship is likely. For example, the use of ἔοικε (it seems) sounds like Origen, but I’ve haven’t read enough Origen to know how widespread that is.

At any rate, here’s transcription and translation. There are likely errors, so if you spot anything amiss, do let me know. I’m running out of time at the moment to do any more, though hopefully I’ll post some more soon. I’m not sure exactly what the passage is doing yet, and I suspect I need to get farther before I figure it out. Still, hopefully someone will find this useful.

Greek Psalms

εἴδοσάν σε ὕδατα, ὁ θεός,
εἴδοσάν σε ὕδατα καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν
καὶ ἐταράχθησαν ἄβυσσοι πλῆθος ἤχους ὑδάτων


ὁμιλία γ’ οστ’ ψαλμου ἐσχεδιασμένα

Ποταπὰ ἆρα τὰ ὕδατα ταῦτα,
ἅπερ βλέπει θεόν; τῶν ἀνθρώπων μετὰ
πολλοῦ καμάτου τέλος τοῦτο λαμβανόντων,
κατὰ τὴν λέγουσαν γραφην,
μακάριοι οἱ καθαροὶ τῇ καρδίᾳ,
ὅτι αὐτοὶ τὸν θεὸν ὄψονται. ἔοικε
γὰρ τὰ ὕδατα ταῦτα ἤτοι
παραπλήσια εἶναι τοῖς καθαροῖς
τῇ καρδίᾳ, τοῖς ὀψομένοις τὸν Θεὸν,
ἤ τάχα καὶ κρείττονα εἶναι τῶν
καθαρῶν τῇ καρδία ανθρώπων. έὰν
γὰρ δυνάμεις τινὲς ὦσι μακάριαι
καὶ θεῖαι, τὰ ὕδατα τα βλέποντα τὸν
θεὸν, ἀνάγκη ταῦτα εἶναι ἀνθρώπων κρείττονα.
καὶ ἔοικέ γε τοῦτο ὑποβάλλεσθαι
ἐν τῶ ἑκατοστῶ τεσσαρακαστῶ, καὶ ὀγδόῳ ψαλμῷ,
ἔνθα προστάσσεται ὁ
Ισραῆλ πᾶς ὑμνεῖν τον θεὸν, φησὶ γὰρ αἴνειτε
τὸν θεὸν οἱ οὐρανοὶ τῶν οὐρανῶν, καὶ
τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ὑπεράνω τῶν οὐρανῶν
αἰνετάτω τὸ ὄνομα Κυρίου. πόσα με
δεῖ καμεῖν ἵνα ἀναβῶ εἰς πρῶτον
οὐρανόν; πηλίκον γενέσθαι, ἵνα
ἀξιωθῶ δευτέρον; Παύλου παραπλήσιον
εἶναι με δεῖ, ἵνα ἀναβῶ ἐπὶ τὸν
τρίτον. κἂν γένωμαι ὡς Παῦλος,
οὕπω ἐπὶ τὸν ἑξῆς οὑρανόν, τὰ δέ
ὕδατα ταῦτα, τὰ αἰνοῦται, κατὰ
τὸν προφήτην, τὸν θεὸν, ὑπεράνω
τῶν οὐρανῶν. ἇρ’ οὖν ταῦτα λέγεται,
τὰ ὕδατα διὰ τοῦ ὑπεράνω εἶναι
πάντων τῶν οὐρανῶν, διὰ παντὸς
βλέπειν τὸ πρόσωπον, οὐ τοῦ πατρὸς
τοῦ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, ἀλλὰ τὸν θεόν.
οἱ μὲν γὰρ ἄγγελοι διὰ παντὸς βλέπουσι
τὸ πρόσωπον τοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ ἐν τοῖς
οὐρανοῖς, αὐτὸν δὲ τὸν θεὸν. οὐχὶ διὰ παντὸς
κατανοεῖ ταῦτα τα ὕδατα περὶ
ὣν ὁ λόγος φήσι, εἴδοσαν σε ὕδατα,
ὁ θεός. ἅμα δὲ καὶ ἐξετάξετο ὁ δυνάμενος
συγκρίνειν πνευματικὰ
πνευματικοῖς. ἆρα γὰρ, ὡς έτυχεν ὁ λόγος
ἔιρηκε περὶ τῶν ἀγγέλων
τῶν συνεζευγμένων τοῖς ἀνθρώποις.
οὐχ ὅτι βλέπουσι τὸν θεὸν, ἀλλὰ τὸ
πρόσωπον τοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς.
περὶ δὲ τῶν ὑδάτων τούτων
“εἵδοσαν σε” οὐκ εἴδοσαν τὸ πρόσωπον
σου ὕδατα, ὁ θεός.


Homily 3 on the 76th Psalm (77th Hebrew/English numbering)
Off-hand Statements

Of what sort are these waters, which see God? Men obtain this goal after much work, according to the scripture which says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” It seems then that these waters are indeed similar to the pure in heart, who see God, or perhaps, are greater than those men who are pure in heart. If some powers are blessed and divine, like these waters that see God, it must be that they are greater than men. And it seems that this is put forward in the 148th psalm, wherein (the powers) having been arrayed, all of Israel praises God, for it says,

“Praise God, Oh Heavens of the Heavens! And let the water which is over the heaven praise the name of the Lord!”

How must I labor so that I may ascend into the first heaven? What must happen so that I may be considered worthy of the second? I must be like Paul, if I should go to the third. And if I should become as Paul, I will still not have yet seen the following heaven, these waters which praise God, according to the prophet, beyond the heavens. Therefore this is said, that the waters, through being beyond the heavens, always see, not the face of the father in the heavenlies, but God himself.

For though the angels always see the face of the heavenly Father, the waters see God himself. For are they not always gazing intently, these waters about which the passage says, “The waters have seen you, O God?” Thus let the one who is able to judge spiritual matters among the spiritual people arrange it thus. Perhaps the passage has spoken about angels who are coupled with men, not that they see God, but rather the face of the Father in Heaven. But, concerning these waters, it said, “They have seen you” not, “they have seen your face, O God.”


  • Corrected κρείτονα to κρείττονα
  • Corrected ἀγάγκη to ἀνάγκη

11 thoughts on “Possible Origenic Homily – Transcription/Translation Excerpts

    1. Dear Alin,

      this is not the first translation. There are portions translated into Italian and German too. Thanks for the English version, but Origen’s texts and arguments need much care. We shall do our work of transcription as soon as possible.


  1. But don’t you think there is also a reference to heavenly ascent connected with baptism? Yes Paul goes up to the third heaven. However I have never seen it connected with the ‘upper ‘waters’ which see God himself ‘better than the angels.’

      1. This is very exciting for me because I’m fairly new to translating Greek. I’m piecing away at it each day. Thank you so much for posting this!

        Also, I saw another possible mistake: line 14 has ἀγάγκη and I assume it’s actually ἀνάγκη ?

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