Off to Oxford!

Things have been quiet around recently, most of which because I’ve been moving.  My wife and I have moved from Raleigh, NC to the DC area so that I can start graduate school in a few weeks.  Moving is a dreary task, but one made much nicer by our family’s help!

In a few hours, I’ll be boarding a plane to London, en route to Oxford for the 2012 Lincoln College Greek Palaeography Summer School.  I’m quite excited to take part in the school: I know I’ll learn much!  It’ll be my first time in the UK beyond Heathrow, and right on the tails of the Olympics.

Lack of blogging has also mean a lack of work on Origen.  I’m mainly been typesetting the homily right now, but the content is in fairly good shape for a draft.  You may find the draft here.

ἐν αὐτῷ,


Origen- On the Benefits of Thunder

In this excerpt, Origen discusses thunder and its salutary effects.  As you can see, he is about to address the problem of evil, and important theme for him (especially when in debate with Gnostics). 

I’m also making good headway with creating a PDF.  I plan to rework the translations I’ve posted here (think of them as rough drafts).  I’ve already spotted several errors as I’ve gone back through, but I plan to correct them in the final PDF. 

τάχα δὲ, εἰ καὶ ἄρρητος
ἔστί τις ὠφέλεια  γινομένη ἐν τοῖς
πράγμασιν διὰ τὴν φωνὴν τῆς βροντῆς
τῶν νεφελῶν, αἰσθητὸν μὲν
οὖν ἔστιν ὅτι αἱ βρονταὶ γεννῶσι τινὰ
τοῖς ἄνθρώποις τρόφϊμα, ὥστε ὁσάκις
ἐὰν γίνωνται βρονταὶ, τάδε τινὰ
τὰ φυτὰ γίνεσθαι ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἢ
εὑρίσκεσθαι, αἰσθητὸν δὲ καὶ τὸ
πολλοὺς τῶν ἀνθρώπων εἰς εύλάβειαν
τὴν περὶ τοῦ θείου ἔρχεσθαι ἐκ τῆς
φωνῆς τῶν βροντῶν. ἆρα οὖν δαίμονες
οὐκ ἐπιστρέφονται, οὐδε κωλύονται
ποτὲ τῆς ἐνεργείας τῆς
χείρονος, διὰ τὰς ἐπ᾽αλλήλους βροντάς;
τί δὲ οἱ ἀγγέλοι τοῦ διαβόλου,
οὐχὶ κωλύονται ποτὲ ἀπὸ τῶν βροντῶν,
αὐτῆς τῆς φωνῆς τῆς κατὰ
τῶν βροντῶν ἐμποδιζούσης ταῖς
ἐνεργείαις ταῖς πονηραῖς;  οὐ πάντες
ἴσμεν οἱ ἄνθρωποι τὰ γινόμενα, οὐδὲ
τίς ὁ λόγος ἑκάστου τῶν συμβαινόντων,
ἀλλ᾽ἔστιν ἡ σοφία τοῦ θεοῦ, ἀνεξερεύνητος
καὶ ἀνεξιχνίαστος.

Perhaps then, although it is unclear what good comes from the clouds’ voice of thunder, one can perceive that thunder causes something nourishing for men.  Often, when there is thunder, some of these plants on the earth come into being, or are found.  One can also perceive that many men become reverent about the divine after hearing the voice of thunder.  So then, are the demons not turned, nor are they ever hindered from working evil on account of the thunder among them?  Why then are the angels of the devil not hindered by the thunder? Shouldn’t that very voice which comes down from thunder hinder their evil workings?  As humans, we do not understand all that happens, nor what the reason is for each thing that occurs, for there is wisdom from God which is unsearchable and untraceable.

ἐν αὐτῷ,


From Origen on the Psalms: “Taking Refuge in Allegory”

In the following passage, Origen continues his discussing of angelic powers, their distinctions and appointments. Some have loftier appointments, and some lower. We get an interesting phrase, as he takes “refuge in allegory, seeing the contradiction of the reading.”

The last sentence of the first paragraph gave me some trouble. The verb is elided, and I’m not sure how to render the distinction he’s making between “what is said by human farmers” and “what is thought by the presiding angel.”

For those interested in the scriptural citations, I’ve tried to point them out. I’ve also marked where they differ from the printed text (either the Rahlfs LXX or the NA27). There are a few variants here, which might be of interest.

I’ve now transcribed the whole of this homily. It’s approximately 2700 words. I hope to post more snippets of text and translation, but I also hope to create a PDF with the Greek text. Eventually I’d like to have a text, translation, and bits of commentary of the homily. I’m not sure if I’ll have time for that: tempus fugit!

πολλάκις ἐζήτουν ἀναγινώσκων
τὸν ψαλμὸν, τὸν λέγοντα, “αἰνεῖτε
τὸν θεὸν (ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς), αἰνεῖτε #Rahlfs “ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν”
αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς ὑψίστοις, αἰνεῖτε
αὐτὸν πάντες οἱ ἄγγελοι
αὐτοῦ, αἰνεῖτε αὐτὸν πᾶσαι αἱ
δυνάμεις αὐτοῦ.” (Ps. 148:1-2) εἶτ’ἐπιφέρει,
“αἰνεῖτε τὸν κύριον ἐκ τῆς γῆς, δράκοντες
καὶ πᾶσαι ἄβυσσοι, πῦρ,
χάλαζα, χιών, κρύσταλλος.
πνεῦμα καταιγίδος τὰ ποιοῦντα
τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ. τὰ ὄρη καὶ
πάντες οἱ βουνοὶ, ξύλα καρποφόρα
καὶ πᾶσαι κέδροι.” (Ps. 148:7-9)
ἀναγιώσκων οὖν, ἐζήτουν τί βούλεται ταῦτα.
καὶ εὐχερῶς μὲν κατέφευγον ἐπὶ
τὴν τροπολογίαν, βλέπων τὴν ἀπέμφασιν
τῆς λέξεως. ὕστερον δέποτε
ἐσκόπουν κατ’ ἐμαυτὸν, μήποτε
ὁμωνύμως τοῖς οἱκονομουμένοις,
αἱ οἰκονομοῦσαι δύναμεις ὀνομάζωνται.
αἱ μὲν τεταγμέναι ἐπὶ
τῶν δρακόντων, δράκοντες, ᾦ
γὰρ ἑκάστσου εἶδους ζώου ἐπιστατεῖ
τίς δύναμις ἡ διοικοῦσα, δι’ οὕς οἶδεν
ὁ θεὸς λόγους, ὅτι ἥδε μὲν ἠξίωται
οὐχὶ πιστευθῆναι τινὰ τῶν κρειττόνων,
ἀλλὰ δράκοντας οἱκονομεῖν.
ἥδε δέ τις δύναμις ἠξίωται,
οἱονεὶ συγγεωργεῖν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις,
ἵνα τὰ ξύλα τοῦ ἄγροῦ οἰκονομῇ. ἡ μὲν
κατὰ τὸ λέγομενον ὑπὸ τοῦ
γεωργοῦ παντὸς ἀνθρώπου. ἡ δὲ κατὰ
τὸ νοούμενον ὑπὸ τοῦ διοικοῦντος τὰ
τοιαῦτα ἀγγέλου, ἢ ἀγγέλων πλειόνων.

μήποτε οὖν κακεῖ τῶ “αινεῖται
κύριον ἐκ τῆς γῆς, δράκοντες
καὶ πᾶσαι ἄβυσσοι, πῦρ, χάλαζα,
χιών, κρύσταλλος, πνεῦμα καταιγῖδος
τὰ ποιοῦντα τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ,”
δηλοῦται ὁ τεταγμένος ἐπὶ τοῦ πυρός.
ὁ τεταγμένος ἐπὶ τῆς χαλάζης,
ὅτι δὲ καὶ ἡ θάλασσα ὡς
ζῶον ἐπιτιμᾶται ὑπο τοῦ πατρός.
ἡτοι ὅτι αὕτη ζῶόν ἐστιν, ἢ ὅτι τεταγμένη
δύναμις, δῆλον ἐκ τοῦ “ἐπετίμησε
δὲ τῇ θαλάσσῃ, ἐπετίμησε
καὶ τοῖς ἀνέμοις) ὁ Ἰησοῦς.” οὐδεὶς
δὲ ἐπτιμᾷ ἀψύχῳ, ἀλλὰ δῆλον (Mk. 4:39/Mt. 8:26), ὅτι
ἐπετίμησε καῖ εἶπεν ὡς κύριος ὅλης
τῆς κτίσεως, “σιώπα πεφίμωσο,
καὶ (ἐσιώπησεν) ἡ θάλασσα καὶ ἐγένετο
(γαλήνη).” (Mk. 4:39)

Often I have wondered while reading the psalm that says, “Praise God in the Heavens! Praise him the the exalted places! Praise him all you angels! Praise him all his powers!” (Ps. 148:1-2). Then it continues, “Praise the Lord from the earth, all you serpents and abysses, fire, hail, snow, and ice; the spirit below and those that do his word; the fruit-bearing trees and all the cedars!” (Ps. 148:7-9). While reading this, I have wondered why someone would want these things. Quickly I took refuge in allegory, seeing the contradiction of the reading. Then, I was asking myself, whether the powers are named the same as the things they inhabit. Some are set over the serpents, and are called serpents. Thus, a certain ruling power is set over each form of living thing, on account of which God knew the reasons, that one power would not be considered worthy of being entrusted with one of the greater posts, but only to rule over the serpents. Yet another power would be considered worthy, as if the work alongside men, to administer the wild trees. One power is called according to what is said by each human farmer, but another other according to what is thought by the angel admistering these matters, or by the greater angels.

Nowhere, then, of those in the “praise the Lord from the earth, serpents, and all the abysses, fire, hail, snow, and ice; spirit that is below, and those who carry out his word,” is the one placed over the fire revealed. The one placed over the hail is revealed, because the sea, as if alive, is rebuked by the Father. Indeed it’s clear that it is a living thing, or rather that it is an appointed power; this is clear from the “and Jesus rebuked the sea and the winds.” For no one rebukes something with no soul, but it is clear that he rebuked and said, as the Lord of all creation, “be silent; and the sea became silent and there was a great calm.” (Mk. 4:39).

ἐν αὐτῷ,

Greek Paleography Tutorial Posted

I spent the morning writing up a short Greek paleography tutorial.  It’s targeted at people who have at least an intermediate knowledge of Greek, but haven’t done much paleography themselves (ie, they haven’t read from manuscripts).  Because of the clarity of hand, I think the recently discovered Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Codex graeca 314 (the Origen manuscript) is an excellent introduction to “reading a manuscript for oneself.”  Plus it will allow one to take part in excitement of the new discovery.  It remains to be seen how useful the page will be, but I do hope it’ll be useful for those who haven’t yet worked with Greek manuscripts.  So, for those who would like to read this exciting ms, but haven’t read from a ms in a while, take a look and let me know what you think.  You can find it in the title-bar, or here