More Transcription and Translation of Origen’s Homilies

I’ve continued transcribing and translating from the recently discovered codex. The material continues to be quite speculative, though I *think* I’m following it. Origen is commenting further on the division of the waters during the creation narrative (those above the firmament, and those below). He takes the passage in an allegorical manner: in his mind we aren’t dealing with “waters perceptible to our eyes,” but δυνάμεις, (spiritual powers). If you spot any errors, or have any suggestions, do let me know.


“εἴδοσάν σε ὑδατα καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν.”
ἐγὼ καὶ ἐν
ἀρχῇ τῆς κοσμοποιίας, ὁρῶν πνεῦμα
θεοῦ ὡς φησὶν ὁ προφήτης τῇ διατάξει
τῶν ὁλῶν επιφερόμενoν ἐπάνω
τοῦ ὕδατος, καὶ σκότος οὐχὶ ἐπάνω
τοῦ ὕδατος, ἐκεῖ γαρ τὸ πνεῦμα
τοῦ θεοῦ ἦν, ἀλλ’ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου,
ὅπου τὸ σκότος, καὶ ὕδατος ὅπου
τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ μετὰ πολλῆς
εὐχῆς παρακαλῶν [1] τὸν θεὸν κινοῦναι
περὶ τῶν κατὰ τοὺς τόπους. ἐπεὶ καὶ
δι’ὕδατα γίνεται τὸ στερέωμα, ἵνα
τὰ μέν τινα μείνῃ ἀνωτέρω, τὰ δέ μείνῃ
κατωτέρω. μήτε ὁ Ισραήλ ἐστιν. οὐ περὶ
αἰσθεντῶν ὑδάτων, ἀλλὰ περὶ δυνάμενων
θειοτέρων κάτω μενουσῶν τοῦ
στερεώματος. τούτων αἵτινες ἦσαν,
ἡ ἄβυσσος, ἧς ἐπάνω τὸ σκότος ἦν,
καὶ γὰρ παλαίομεν πρὸς τοὺς κοσμοκράτορας
τοῦ σκότους τούτου. τὸ δὲ
ὕδωρ, οὗ έπάνω τὸ πνεῦμα ἦν τοῦ θεοῦ,
δυνάμεις ἦσαν κρείττονες. ἄρτι οὖν τοῦ
κόσμου κτιζομένου, ἦν ἕν ούκ οἶδ’ὅπως
ταῦτα, οὐδέπω διακεκριμένα. ἡδε
κοσμοποιϊα, διέκρινε τὰ κρείττονα,
καὶ οἷς οἰκεῖον ἦν τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ
θεοῦ, ἀπὸ τῶν χειρόνων, καὶ τὰ χείρονα,
καὶ οἷς συνέζευκται τὸ σκότος,
τὸ λεγόμενον εἶναι ἐπὶ πρόσωπον τῆς
ἀβύσσου, ὅτι δὲ ταῦτα οὐ συντυχικά
ἔστιν ἐν τῇ γενέσει, δηλοῖ καὶ ἡ ἐνταῦθα
λέξις λέγουσα, “εἴδοσάν σε ὕδατα, ὁ θεός,
εἴδοσάν σε ὕδατα καὶ έφοβήθησαν.”

[1] In the translation, I’ve understood this as παρακαλοῦν, that is, a neuter rather than a masculine participle. From what I recall πνεῦμα could take on masculine forms in certain instances, but I don’t recall the details.


“The waters beheld you, and were afraid.”
In the beginning of the creation narrative, I see
the spirit of God, as the prophet says, by an order [from God]
brooding over all of the waters; and I see the darkness,
not upon the water, for there the Spirit of God was,
but in some places the darkness was upon the abyss, and
in some places the Spirit of God was upon the water, and
he (the Spirit) cried out with a great prayer that God would move
each their respective places. Thus, because of the waters
the firmament was created, so that some water would
remain above, and some would remain below. But is not
Israel [ie, this is a spiritual matter]; it is not about waters
perceptible to our senses, but about divine powers
remaining below the firmament. There were several of these,
and the abyss, over which there was darkness, was one of them:
we wrestle against the cosmic powers of this darkness. But
the waters, over which the Spirit of God was, were mightier
powers. Now just prior to the world’s creation, they were
one, and I don’t know what their nature was, before they
were divided. But the creation narrative distinguishes
the greater things, those to which the Spirit of God was suitable,
from the lesser ones, to which darkness was joined, which is
said to be over the face of the abyss. Because these things
are not found in Genesis, the reading here makes is clear
saying, “The waters saw you, O God. The waters saw you and
were afraid.”


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

John Chrysostom on Singing and Desire

Ἐπειδὴ γὰρ λόγῳ παραστῆσαι τὸν ἔρωτα οὐκ ἰσχύει, περιέρχεται ζητῶν ὑπόδειγμα, ἵνα κἂν οὕτω τὸ φίλτρον ἡμῖν ἐνδείξηται, καὶ κοινωνοὺς ποιήσῃ τοῦ ἔρωτος. Πειθώμεθα τοίνυν αὐτῷ, καὶ μάθωμεν οὕτως ἐρᾷν. Καὶ μή μοι λεγέτω τις· Καὶ πῶς δύναμαι φιλεῖν τὸν Θεὸν ὃν οὐ βλέπω; Καὶ γὰρ πολλοὺς οὐχ ὁρῶντες φιλοῦμεν, οἷον τοὺς ἐν ἀποδημίᾳ φίλους ὄντας ἡμῖν, ἢ παῖδας καὶ πατέρας, ἢ συγγενεῖς καὶ οἰκείους· καὶ οὐδὲν γίνεται κώλυμα ἐκ τοῦ μὴ ὁρᾷν, ἀλλ’ αὐτὸ δὴ τοῦτο μάλιστα ἐκκαίει τὸ φίλτρον, αὔξει τὸν πόθον.

For since he (the psalmist) could not represent this desire in words, he became for us an example in his seeking, so that whenever this love-charm is shown to us, we too may share in his desire. Therefore, let us be convinced by him, and learn to desire as he did. But let no one say to me, “And how do I love this God, whom I don’t see?” For there are many whom we love, even when not seeing, like those who are abroad and friends to us, or children and parents, or family and relatives. And not seeing does not become a hindrance, but this is instead the perfect time to light the love-charm, to increase your passion. (PG 55.158)

I have translated ερως, often translated as love, as desire. It commonly has sexual connotations, but I don’t see any of that here. This is desire that is felt between friends and family, and is not limited to husband and wife. I don’t really like the translation of φιλτρον as “love-charm,” but it means something like that, a song designed to kindle up desire for someone close. Here, Psalm 40 is a φιλτρον, “As the deer desires the springs of the waters, so my should desires you, O God.” I also struggled to find good English for κοινωνοὺς ποιήσῃ τοῦ ἔρωτος, which I think is a marvelous turn-of-phrase. Literally it’s, “he makes us partakers of this love/desire.” I switched the sentence and around and made “we” the subject. “Light the love-charm” sounds quite odd to my ear, but I’ll let it stand for now.

η χαρις του κυριου μετα υμων,

John Chrysostom on the Love of God

John’s homily on Psalm 41 (LXX) is full of excerpts I like. Here’s another I read today:

Ἐπεὶ οὐ τοσοῦτον φιλεῖ ἡμᾶς μόνον, ὅσον παιδία μήτηρ φιλόστοργος, ἀλλὰ πολλῷ πλέον, ἄκουσον τί φησιν· Εἰ γὰρ καὶ ἐπιλάθοιτο, φησὶ, γυνὴ τῶν ἐκγόνων αὐτῆς, ἀλλ’ ἐγὼ οὐκ ἐπιλήσομαί σου. Τοῦτο δὲ ἔλεγε δεικνὺς, ὅτι πάσης φιλοστοργίας θερμότερος ὁ περὶ ἡμᾶς αὐτοῦ πόθος ἐστίν.

So he does not love us in this manner only, as a loving mother with her children, but much more so! Listen to what was said, “For even if a women forgets her children, I will not forget you.” Thus it is clear, then, that his love for us is far greater than any parental love. (PG 55.161).

Even in my budding Greek skills, I’m starting to appreciate why he is called the “Golden-mouthed” and the “Heavenly-trumpet.” If only I could do it justice in translation!


On Allegory

One of the things you have to come to terms with when studying early Christianity is allegorical exegesis.  Most academics don’t care for it (or actively despise it), but most of the early Christians had no such inhibitions.  They saw Christ hiding behind every corner of the Old Testament.  Origen was known to embrace apparent contradictions on the surface level to find the eternal meaning of the text.  Of course, it wasn’t just Alexandrian flights of fancy where we find allegory.  Paul tells the Galatians, after doing some OT exposition on the Hagar and Sarah, that “these things may be understood allegorically.”  Likewise, he tells the Corinthians, “these things [the stories of the Israelites in the desert] happened as models for us, so that we wouldn’t desire evil, as they did.”  Hebrews is in many ways, one extended meditation on Psalm 110, Jesus being a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.  Jesus himself, of course, actively modeled his own work after those of the prophets, and employed parables (allegorical stories) in much of his teaching.

So how do we properly appropriate allegory?  There are all sorts of weird pitfalls.  I come from a movement where OT texts are regularly interpreted “prophetically” to say some strange things (ie, whatever the pastor wants the text to say at the moment).  Allegorical exegesis often is far more dependent on the ingenuity of the allegorist than the text as the author construed it.

On the other hand, we are invited, even commanded, to read the Old Testament in light of Jesus.  This doesn’t mean we can’t read them for historical content, or reconstruct what they would meant to their original audience (even if such a reconstruction is terribly fragile most of the time), but can we give these readings (valuable though they are) hermeneutical priority when “the reality, however, if found in Christ” ?  Epistemologically, do we not have to start with Christ and work back into the OT, especially as Gentile believers?

Honestly, I love reading the OT through the eyes of the early Church.  While I might be able to appreciate the history and language of early Christianity without a particularly strong faith, I don’t think I could ever appreciate the Old Testament without faith to spur me on.  The early Church has been my entry way into the Old Testament.  I never understood or enjoyed the Psalms until I started reading them in Greek, with John Chrysostom and Eusebius of Caesarea to guide me.  I know one day I’ll learn Hebrew and be able to appreciate the OT without necessarily reading it along with the early Church.  However, I’m quite content until then to read the OT in Greek, with some of the most brilliant saints of old to teach me.

So I suppose I’m a son in search of an answer.  How do we embrace allegory without going off the deep end?  How do affirm both the “original meaning” (insofar as it can be known), and what Christians down through the ages have seen it pointing to?  What is the relationship between the two, and which has primacy?

Thoughts are welcome!

Psalm 44

This a beautiful psalm, full of royal imagery and not a small bit of romance! In good early Christian fashion, I love the kingly husband and beautiful queen who so wonderfully typify Christ and His Church.

Of Christ:

Verse 8: ἠγάπησας δικαιοσύνην καὶ ἐμίσησας ἀνομίαν·
διὰ τοῦτο ἔχρισέν σε ὁ θεὸς ὁ θεός σου
ἔλαιον ἀγαλλιάσεως παρὰ τοὺς μετόχους σου.

You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness,

therefore God, your God, has anointed you,

with the oil of gladness and with those who share with you

Of His Church:

Verses 11-12: ἄκουσον, θύγατερ, καὶ ἰδὲ καὶ κλῖνον τὸ οὖς σου
καὶ ἐπιλάθου τοῦ λαοῦ σου καὶ τοῦ οἴκου τοῦ πατρός σου,
12) ὅτι ἐπεθύμησεν ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῦ κάλλους σου,
ὅτι αὐτός ἐστιν ὁ κύριός σου

Listen, O daughter. Look and incline your ear!

Forget your people and the household of your father,

12) Because the king has desired your beauty,

because your husband is he [who has desired you].

Working More on Eusebius

I’m currently working through translating the abbreviated comments we have from Eusebius on Psalm 109 (our Ps 110). He has some pretty interesting things to say about it, and the extracts aren’t terribly long, so it’ll make a nice sampler from his commentary methinks.

I’ll have it posted when I’m done with it.

Chrysostom, Judaism, and the Cessasionists

Being born and bred in Pentecostal churches, my ears always perk up when miracles pop up in what I’m reading. I love when God choses to heal bodies, or generally do anything like that. I have plenty of gripes with the charismatic movements, but it’s still my home (and my heritage), and I’m happy to be here for now.

Anyway, here’s an interesting tidbit from John Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Psalms. In this one he’s addressing Psalm 109. It seems that most of the homily is devoted to refuting non-orthodox viewpoints, and he begins by attacking the Jewish interpretation. Here’s an excerpt where he interrogates a rhetorically created Jew:

But if you attack our [beliefs], O Jew,[*] what will you say in defense of the Old [Testament]? If someone were to say to you, “Why are the things of Moses true?” What would you say? “Because we believe them.” Certainly this is not any better than us, for we also believe, and you are but one nation, but we are of the whole world! You are convinced by the things of Moses, just as we are convinced by Christ, and what you make the end, we make the foundation. Do you believe because of the prophecies? But we have many more! So if you do away with ours, you overshadow your own as well. Do you believe because of miracles? But you have none to show except the signs of Moses, and these have come and gone. But we have the miracles of Christ, which are varied and abundant, and which happen even to the present day, and we have prophecies that surpass the brightness of the sun! Do you believe because of the laws? But our philosophy is superior to these. Why then? Because he led you away from the bondage of the Egyptians? But this is not equal at all to the hostile world, which the Egyptians by themselves do not surpass.

John Chrysostom, Homily on Psalm 109 (LXX), from Patrologia Graeca 55.266-267, my own translation.

I bolded the part that jumped out at me. John’s line of reasoning is pretty interesting here. He doesn’t simply cite the miracles of Christ recorded in the gospels, but he cites the miracles that “happen even to the present day,” which is a much bolder claim. This also makes me wonder if the “prophecies that surpass the brightness of the sun” might include more than the prophecies of Christ in the OT. I’d be surprised if he didn’t have Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the temple in mind. He may even have Christian prophets in mind as well, though that would be difficult to argue from this passage alone. The “but we have many more” would lead me to think he’s referring to prophecies that the Jews wouldn’t accept, which would include anything in the NT, but also extra-canonical Christian prophecy.

In terms of representing Jewish belief, I initially thought that John was being unfair here. After all, there were other miracles in the Old Testament. You had Joshua and the Sun, and Elisha and Elijah come to mind. However it looks like he narrows the comparison from OT and NT to Moses and Jesus as points of comparison. Christ as risen Lord would then be able to perform miracles “up until the present day,” while Moses could not. (Though would John have thought dead saints could perform miracles?). Of course, he does move back and forth quite easily between Moses and the Old Testament in general, because he goes on to say, “I say these thing, not to make the Old fight with the New…” I suppose that’s another sign of John’s great rhetorical skill, that he can slip easily between different referents to draw out the one that is most advantageous to him. We may not care for it, but it undoubtedly made for good rhetoric, and would’ve been fun to listen to.

[*] “O Jew” rings loudly in my ears too. I hate the Christianity has a long streak of anti-Semitism, and it’s certainly a nasty, nasty stain for us to bear. But let’s not judge John too quickly, even if he sounds harsh to post-holocaust ears.

Translation: Eusebius on the Psalms Pt. 2

With the exception of the “hypotheses,” I believe this rounds out the introductory material in Eusebius’s Commentary on the Psalms. This is a continuation from this post. This particular text comes from Migne’s Patrologia Graeca 23.73-76. The extract here is interesting because Eusebius gives a theory of textual transmission of the Psalms, after noting some of the differences between the Hebrew texts and the Greek texts. He is careful to point out that the Psalms are not in chronological order, and then gives an explanation why. He ends with a note on the importance of the Psalms for the Church.

In characteristic fashion, here’s my translation followed by the Greek text. There are a few spots I’m not sure about, but I think I’ve rendered most of it sufficiently.

My Translation:

Eusebius on the Psalms (Continued)

In the Hebrew Book of Psalms, except for the addition of numbers, all of the Psalms are inscribed differently. There are some that stand together, and some that are split apart. Carelessly, the first and second ones stand together in the Hebrew. And again, the ninth psalm, united for us, is divided into two in the Hebrew. One must see, though, that the structure of the psalms does not follow chronological order. They were rearranged, just as the book of the Kings and the present arrangement shows. For the nation of the Jews was condemned of idolatry. As it says, they forgot to esteem the writings of their fathers, for they did not carry the book of the law of Moses, nor did they remember the reverence of their forefathers. For this reason the prophets spoke vehemently against their ungodliness.

Thus it is not amazing that at this lowest and most disheveled of times, some of the psalms would fall away, not being handed down for a long period. But after this, either Ezra or some other prophet, devoted himself to gathering the psalms together, which then became how the book of the psalms was arranged. They were not discovered all at once, but rather at different times. And in their binding, the first ones found were placed first. They were not arranged so that all of the Psalms of David went together. Rather, in between these psalms were those of the Sons of Korah, those of Asaph, those of Solomon and Moses, those of Aiman, and of Jedethum. And even after all of these, more psalms of David were place in the arrangement. Thus those that were written later may have been found and taken up first. And those that were written first were found later in the second group. And the same thing is found in the prophets. All were thus placed into a certain great and new storehouse, the Book of Psalms.

You must observe this, as the book of the Psalms offers us new teaching after the laws of Moses. And because it is second after the laws and writings of Moses, this book is fit for teaching. For just as Joshua came after Moses, and David came after the judges, in the same way the Father has considered worthy a new way of the Psalms, different than what had been given first to the Hebrews. It is the way of the Savior. The first way lifts up the things of Moses, and the sacrifices of the Law. But the Savior’s new way instructs us to sing and shout our worship of God, and that the law of Moses is transcended entirely through his work.

And for those interested, here’s the Greek text:


Ἐν τῇ Ἑβραϊκῇ βίβλῳ τῶν ψαλμῶν ἄνευ τῆς τοῦ ἀριθμοῦ προσθήκης ἀνεγράφησαν οἱ πάντες καὶ διαφόρως. Οἱ μέν εἰσι συνημμένοι, οἱ δὲ διῃρημένοι. Ἀμέλει ὁ μὲν πρῶτος καὶ δεύτερος συνημμένοι εἰσὶ κατὰ τὸ Ἑβραϊκόν· καὶ πάλιν ὁ ἔνατος, συνημμένος παρ’ ἡμῖν, ἐν τῷ Ἑβραϊκῷ διῄρηται εἰς δύο. Παρατηρητέον δὲ, ὅτι μὴ κατὰ ἀκολουθίαν τῶν τῆς ἱστορίας χρόνων ἡ τῶν ψαλμῶν σύγκειται τάξις· ἐνήλλακται δὲ παρὰ πολὺ, καθὼς ἡ βίβλος τῶν Βασιλειῶν, καὶ αὕτη ἡ τάξις δηλοῖ. Πολλῆς τοίνυν κατακρατησάσης εἰδωλολατρείας τοῦ Ἰουδαίων ἔθνους, λήθην αὐτούς φασι πεποιῆσθαι τῶν πατρίων γραφῶν, ὡς μηδὲ τοῦ Μωϋσέως νόμου βίβλον ἐπιφέρεσθαι, μηδὲ μνήμην τῆς τῶν πατέρων εὐσεβείας ἀποσώζειν. Οὕτω γοῦν τοὺς προφήτας ἀνῄρουν διελέγχοντας αὐτῶν τὰς δυσσεβείας.

Οὐδὲ νῦν θαυμαστὸν ἐν τοιαύτῃ καταστάσει καιρῶν καὶ τῶν ἐμφερομένων τινὰς τῇ βίβλῳ τῶν ψαλμῶν διαπεπτωκέναι, λήθῃ τε μακροῖς παραδεδόσθαι χρόνοις. Ὕστερον δὲ μετὰ ταῦτα, εἴτε Ἔσδραν, εἴτε τινὰς ἑτέρους προφήτας, περὶ τὴν συναγωγὴν αὐτῶν ἐσπουδακέναι, μεθ’ ὧν καὶ τὴν βίβλον τῶν ψαλμῶν ἡγιοχέναι, οὐκ ἀθρόως εὑρόντα τοὺς πάντας, ἀλλὰ κατὰ διαφόρους χρόνους. Καὶ τάττειν δὲ ἐν πρώτοις τοὺς πρώτους εὑρισκομένους· μηδὲ τοὺς τοῦ Δαυῒδ ἐφεξῆς κεῖσθαι πάντας· ἔν τε τῷ μεταξὺ καὶ τῶν υἱῶν Κορὲ, καὶ τοῦ Ἀσὰφ, καὶ Σολομῶντος, καὶ Μωϋσέως, Αἰμάν τε, καὶ Αἰθὰν, καὶ Ἰδιθοὺμ, καὶ πάλιν τοῦ Δαυῒδ εὑρίσκεσθαι ἀναμὶξ ἐν τῇ βίβλῳ κατατεταγμένους, οὐ καθ’ οὓς ἐλέχθησαν χρόνους, ἀλλὰ καθ’ οὓς εὕρηνται. Ἔνθεν τε συμβῆναι τοὺς τοῖς χρόνοις ὑστέρους πρώτους εὑρεθέντας, ἀναληφθῆναι προτέρους· τοὺς δὲ προτέρους μετὰ ταῦτα εὑρεθέντας ἐν δευτέρᾳ ταγῆναι χώρᾳ· τὸ δ’ αὐτὸ εὕροις γεγενημένον ἐν τοῖς προφήταις. Πάντα ὥσπερ ἐν μεγάλῳ τινὶ καὶ κοινῷ ταμείῳ τῇ βίβλῳ τῶν ψαλμῶν τεθησαύρισται.

Κἀκεῖνο δὲ τηρή 23.76 σεις, ὡς ἡ βίβλος τῶν ψαλμῶν καινὴν διδασκαλίαν περιέχει μετὰ τὴν Μωϋσέως νομοθεσίαν, καὶ ὅτι δευτέρα μετὰ τὴν Μωϋσέως νομοθεσίαν γραφὴν διδασκαλικὴ βίβλος αὕτη τυγχάνει. Μετὰ γοῦν τὴν Μωϋσέως καὶ Ἰησοῦ τελευτὴν καὶ μετὰ τοὺς κριτὰς Δαυῒδ γενόμενος, ὡσανεὶ τοῦ Σωτῆρος αὐτὸς χρηματίσαι πατὴρ καταξιωθεὶς, καινὸν τρόπον τὸν τῆς ψαλμῳδίας πρῶτος Ἑβραίοις παρέδωκε· δι’ ἧς ἀναιρεῖ μὲν τὰ παρὰ Μωϋσῇ περὶ θυσιῶν νενομοθετημένα, καινὸν δὲ τὸν δι’ ὕμνων καὶ ἀλαλαγμῶν τρόπον τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ λατρείας εἰσάγει· καὶ ἄλλα δὲ πλεῖστα τὸν Μωϋσέως νόμον ἐπαναβεβηκότα δι’ ὅλης αὐτοῦ τῆς πραγματείας διδάσκει.

Greek Verse(s) of the Day

Here’s a couple of verses from today’s psalm that I rather liked.

This verse rather vividly captures the helpless situations we often find ourselves in:

ὅτι περιέσχον με κακά, ὧν οὐκ ἔστιν ἀριθμός,
κατέλαβόν με αἱ ἀνομίαι μου, καὶ οὐκ ἠδυνήθην τοῦ βλέπειν·
ἐπληθύνθησαν ὑπὲρ τὰς τρίχας τῆς κεφαλῆς μου,
καὶ ἡ καρδία μου ἐγκατέλιπέν με.

Psalm 39:13 (LXX)

For evil people surround me; they can’t even be numbered!

My enemies pursue me, and I can’t even see.

They have multiplied beyond the number of hairs on my head,

And even my own heart has forsaken me.

This verse captures rather well the Lord’s love for his people:

ἐγὼ δὲ πτωχός εἰμι καὶ πένης· κύριος φροντιεῖ μου.
βοηθός μου καὶ ὑπερασπιστής μου σὺ εἶ· ὁ θεός μου, μὴ χρονίσῃς.

Psalm 39:18 (LXX)

Although I’m poor and needy, the Lord thinks about me.

You, my God, are my helper and protector, do not delay.