Origen on the Ages to Come Pt. 2

Introduction

Part 1 is here. As promised, here is the second installment of the end of Origen’s first homily on Ps. 77 (76 LXX). In these two paragraphs, Origen discusses God’s rejection. Based on the psalm, he doesn’t think rejection will last forever, but he also urges his audience to consider the terror of separation from God. To be separated from God even for a single hour is dreadful, as whenever someone is rejected they are handed over to Satan and his angels.

English

“Surely the Lord will not reject forever?”

As I probed my spirit about these matters, I reasoned carefully and said, “Let God reject someone for a year, and hand him over to trials. Let this last for two years. Let this be the case for their entire life. How many years is this? Fifty or sixty. Let him forsake someone for this entire age. Will God forsake them forever? “Surely the Lord will not reject forever?” is said, for he doesn’t wish to forsake us, even for a single age. There are, though, those whom he will reject in another age besides this one. The Savior mentions these, saying that when people sin against the Holy Spirit, “it will not be forgiven them, neither in this age, nor the one to come.” Consider someone who sinned at the time of Adam, who will be punished from that time until the end of the age for their sin. Think about the span of this punishment, and if you can, think of another like it, equal in time to this age or not (I don’t know, after all, the sizes of the different ages). Look at someone being punished for that entire age, consider the great magnitude of punishment, but do not despise it. Rather, remember the prophet’s words, that the Lord will not reject for ever.

On those rejected by God.

Remember too that to be rejected by the Lord for a single hour is a terrible punishment, because when God rejects me, the Devil receives me. When someone is rejected, he is handed over to the devil, which is what happened when Paul rejected the sexually immoral man in Corinth. Why did he bar him from the church? He handed him over to Satan so that the man’s flesh would be destroyed and his spirit saved. Should God reject any one of us, we would fall right into the hands of Satan and his angels. It is a horrible thing to be subjected to Satan, and if someone is made subject to him, it is God’s punishment, for the person deserves this subjection.

Greek

¶ μὴ εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας
ἀπώσεται κύριος; ταῦτα σκάλλων τὸ πνεῦμα,
διελογισάμην καὶ ἔλεγον, ἔστω ἀπωθεῖται
τινὰ ὁ θεὸς ἐπὶ ἐνιαυτὸν, καὶ ἐγκαταλείπει
αὐτὸν εἰς θλίψεις. ἔστω δὲ ἐπὶ
δύο ἔτη τινὰ καταλείπεσθαι. ἔστω,
ἐπὶ ὅλον τὸν χρόνον τῆς ἐνταῦθα ζωῆς.
πόσα ἐστὶ τὰ ἔτη; πεντήκοντα ἔτη
καὶ ἐξήκοντα. ἔστω τινὰ καταλείπεσθαι
ὅλον τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦτον. ἆρα καὶ
ἐφ᾽ ὅλους τοὺς αἰῶνας ἐγκαταλείψει ὁ
θεὸς; μὴ, εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας ἀπώσηται κύριος·
ἵνα μὴ ἀπώσηται ἡμᾶς μηδὲ εἰς ἕνα
αἰῶνα. εἰσὶ γάρ τινες οὓς ἀπωθεῖται
καὶ ἐπὶ αἰῶνα ἕτερον, παρὰ τοῦτον
αἰῶνα, περὶ ὧν ὁ σωτὴρ λέγει, ὅταν
ἁμάρτωσιν εἰς τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα, ὅτι οὐ μὴ
ἀφεθῇ αὐτῷ, οὔτε ἐν τούτῳ τῷ αἰῶνι οὔτε
ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι. φέρε
γὰρ τινὰ ἔχειν ἁμάρτημα ἐπὶ τῶν χρόνων
τοῦ ἀδὰμ, καὶ κολάζεσθαι ἔκτοτε
μέχρι τῆς συντελείας ἐπὶ τῷ ἁμαρτήματι.

ὅρα τὸ μέγεθος πηλίκον ἐστὶ τῆς κολάσεως.
καὶ εἰ δύνασαι καὶ ἄλλον συνάψαι.
ἤτοι ἰσόχρονον τούτῳ τῷ αἰῶνι,
ἢ οὐκ ἰσόχρονον. οὐ γὰρ οἶδα τὰ
μεγέθη τῶν αἰώνων. ἴδε τινά μοι κολαζόμενον
κἀκεῖνον τὸν αἰῶνα, καὶ ὅρα τὸ
μέγεθος τῆς κολάσεως, καὶ μὴ καταφρόνει,
καὶ νόει τὰ ἐνταῦθα εἰρημένα
ὑπὸ τοῦ φροφήτου ὅτι οὐκ εἰς
τοὺς αἰῶνας ἀπώσεται κύριος. ¶ τῶν
ἀπωσωμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ. ἀλλ᾽ ὅρα ὅτι καὶ μίαν
ὥραν ἀπωσθῆναι τοῦ θεοῦ, ζημία ἐστὶ
μεγάλη. ὅταν γὰρ ἀπώσηταί με ὁ θεὸς,
διάβολός με λαμβάνει, ὡς ἀπωσθέντα,
καὶ αὐτῷ παραδοθέντα, οἷον ἀπώσατο
παῦλος τὸν πεπορνευκότα ἐν κορίνθῳ.
διὰ τοῦτο ἀπώσατο αὐτὸν ἀπὸ
τῆς ἐκκλησίας, παρέδωκεν αὐτὸν
τῷ σατανᾷ εἰς ὄλεθρον τῆς σαρκὸς
ἵνα τὸ πνεῦμα σωθῇ. καὶ ἕκαστον ἡμῶν
ἂν ἀπώσηται ὁ θεὸς, οὐδεὶς ἄλλος παραλαμβάνει,
ἢ ὁ σατανᾶς καὶ οἱ ἄγγελοι
αὐτοῦ. φοβερὸν τὸ ὑπ᾽ ἐκεῖνον γενέσθαι,
καὶ εἴ τις γίνεται ὑπ᾽ ἐκεῖνον, κρίματι

#182r
θεοῦ ὡς ἄξιος τοῦ ὑπ᾽ ἐκεῖνον γενέσθαι
παραδέδοται. #END

ἐν αὐτῷ,
ΜΑΘΠ

Origen on the Ages to Come Pt. 1

Psalm

“I have pondered over the ancient days,
and I have kept remembrance and meditated upon the eternal years.
In the night, I groaned deeply in my heart,
and I probed my spirit.
Surely the Lord will not reject forever,
and continue not to set forth goodwill?
Surely, in the end, he will not cut off his mercy
from generation to generation?
Surely God will not forget to show compassion,
and withhold, within his wrath, his mercies?” (Ps. 76:6-10 LXX).

English 
The Psalmist says, “I have pondered the ancient days,” but then as he ponders the ancient days, he ascends to what is beyond them: the eternal years. Moreover (if I may say so) years that share in temporality are themselves temporary, since the things we see are only temporary. There are, however, other years that are eternal: those before the world, perhaps, and those after the world. The law has measures concerning these years, because it has a shadow of the good things to come: it teaches about what must be done in the seventh year and in the fiftieth. After all, when someone has comprehended the spiritual nature of the law, they will understand that these ordinances refer to eternal years. Thus, this righteous one ascends from pondering the ancient days to the eternal years. These eternal years are comprised of eternal days, which are written about in Deuteronomy, “remember the days of eternity. Understand the years of the generation of generations.” (Dt. 32:7) Hearing this, we pray to ascend from these earthly days, and months, and years, to ascend to the days of eternity, to the eternal years, and, if I dare say so, since the new-moon feast is spiritual, to ascend also to the eternal months, in which the passage of our lives is not demarcated by the sun, for there the “Lord will be an eternal light for you, and God will be your glory” (Is 60:19).  

Therefore, “I have remembered and meditated on the eternal years. In the night, I would search deeply with my heart, and would probe my spirit.” Take note of this passage, so that if sleep ever forsakes you, and you are lying awake, you do not waste that time of wakefulness on unnecessary things. Rather, during the time you are awake, while sleep as forsaken you, set your thoughts on service to God. This man, having set his mind to such things, said, “in the night I would search deeply with my heart, and would probe my spirit.” His spirit and heart replied, “Surely the Lord will not reject forever, nor hold back his mercies within his wrath?” This is what he said, ‘I meditated in the night, and in private I would search deeply with my heart, and would probe my spirit.’ Since our spirit was given to us to be a better helper than our souls, if someone wishes to find what they seek, they shouldn’t probe their soul, nor probe their body, but probe instead their spirit.  Just as someone who wishes to find something in the ground will probe the ground to find what they imagine to be in the ground, so too you must probe the spirit to find the fruits of the spirit, if you are seeking spiritual things.  “I was probing my spirit” because you, [my spirit], “search all things.” That is, [as you search] the deep things of God, you are probing your spirit. Furthermore, I’d say that you’re probing the Spirit of God, for it is possible to come to the Spirit and search him.  

Commentary

First, I’ll say that I’ve tried to produce a translation in the proper register.  The proper register for this homily is classroom lecture, or church sermon, and so I’ve tried to use appropriately colloquial English (that’s why you see singular ‘they’, which may grate the ears of some).  I’ve taken liberties at several points to add clarifying phrases, so you are getting my interpretation of what Origen says here (as always happens when reading a translation).  I’ve tried to be a faithful translator, but there will always be problems somewhere!  If you notice something off, do let me know.  

This discussion precedes Origen’s discussion on punishment, but you can see how the text demands that he will discuss it.  He follows the text quite closely, and what I find interesting is his attention to method.  This comes out in several ways.  First, as he is wont to due, Origen brings in relevant scriptures from other places (Deuteronomy and Isaiah).  He does indulge in some speculative philosophy on the nature of the “eternal days,” and he acknowledges this by saying ‘If I dare say so.’  But this is deeply rooted in the text, something many people who haven’t read much Origen forget.  He was known later as the most infamous of all allegorists, but his attention to detail is remarkable and note worthy.

Beyond exegetical method, Origen gives much attention to the nature and method of revelation.  The psalmist is an example of devotion for us to follow.  Our sleeplessness should cause us to pursue God in prayer, and it is only in the context of prayer that one experiences what Paul calls “things unspeakable” (2 Cor 12:4).  This “mystical ascent” cannot always be expressed in direct terms, and when it is shared, it’s often done in symbolically or apophatically. Thus, Paul (2 Cor 12) and John (Revelation) are models for how to understand this passage.  We must remember this mystical “reluctance” when reading Origen’s statements on the ages to come.  Hopefully I’ll have more up soon!  

Greek

Note this is a provisional transcription.  I’ve taken the liberty of italicizing scriptural quotations, and I’ve tried to divide the sentences logically.  In punctuating, I’ve considered the manuscript’s punctuation, but also tried to make it comprehensible for a modern reader.  One of the reasons I’ve left it in this form is so you can check my work against the manuscript.  If something looks off, then please take a look at the ms and let me know in the comments.  You can find direction on my Origen page for how to access it.

#180v
διελογισάμην
οὖν φησι, ἡμέρας ἀρχαίας. εἶτα
διαλογισάμενος ἡμέρας ἀρχαίας,
ἔτι ἀναβαίνει ἐπὶ τὰ ἀνωτέρω τῶν ἀρχαίων
ἡμερῶν, τὰ ἔτη τὰ αἰώνια.
ἀλλ᾽εἰ δεῖ οὕτως εἰπεῖν, ἐπεὶ τὰ βλεπόμενα
πρόσκαιρά ἐστι, καὶ τὰ ἐν τοῖς
προσκαίροις ἔτη, πρόσκαιρά ἐστιν.
ἔστι δὲ ἄλλα ἔτη αἰώνια, τὰ πρὸ τοῦ
κόσμου τάχα, καὶ τὰ μετὰ τὸν κόσμον,
περὶ ὧν ἐτῶν, περιέχει ὁ σκιὰν ἔχων
τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν νόμος, διδάσκει
περὶ ἑβδόμου ἔτους ὃ δεὶ ποιεῖν, περὶ
πεντηκοστοῦ ἔτους. ὁ γὰρ νοήσας τὸν
νόμον καθὸ πνευματικός ἐστιν, ἀνάγει
ταῦτα ἐπὶ τὰ αἰώνια ἔτη. ὁ οὖν δίκαιος
ἀναβαίνει ἀπὸ τοῦ διαλογίσασθαι

#181r
ἡμέρας ἀρχαίας, ἐπὶ τὰ ἔτη τὰ αἰώνια.
τάδε αἰώνια ἔτη συνέστηκεν, ἐξ ἡμερῶν
αἱωνίων, περὶ ὧν γέγραπται ἐν
δευτερονομίῳ, τοῦτον τὸν τρόπον, μνήσθητε
ἡμέρας αἰῶνος. σύνετε ἔτη γενεᾶς
γενεῶν
. καὶ εὐχόμεθά γε ἀναβῆναι
ἀπὸ τούτων τῶν ἡμερῶν, καὶ τούτων
τῶν μηνῶν, καὶ τούτων τῶν ἐτῶν, ἐπὶ
τὰς τοῦ αἰῶνος ἡμέρας, καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ ἔτη
τὰ αἰώνια, καὶ εἰ δεῖ τολμήσαντα εἰπεῖν,
διὰ τὸ καὶ νουμηνίας εἶναι πνευματικὰς,
καὶ ἐπὶ τοὺς μῆνας τοὺς αἱωνίους,
ἐν οἷς πολιτεύομεθα χαρακτηριζόμενοι,
οὐχ ὑπὸ τούτου τοῦ ἡλίου
ἔσται γάρ σοι κύριος φῶς αἰώνιον, καὶ ὁ θεὸς
δόξα σου.
 ¶ ἔτη οὖν αἰώνια ἐμνήσθην καὶ
ἐμελέτησα, νυκτὸς μετὰ τῆς καρδίας
μου ἠδολέσχουν. καὶ ἐσκάλαυον τὸ πνεῦμα
μου.
μάνθανε καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ ῥητοῦ, ἐάν
ποτέ σε καὶ ὕπνος καταλίπῃ καὶ
διαγρυπνῇς, μὴ παραπολλύειν τὸν
χρόνον τῆς ἀγρυπνίας εἰς τὸ μὴ δέον·
ἀλλὰ παρ᾽ ὃν καιρὸν ἐγρήγορας, τοῦ ὕπνου σε
καταλιπόντος, διαλογισμοὺς

λαμβάνειν θεοσεβείας. ὁ ποίους λαβῶν
οὗτος ἔλεγε, νυκτὸς μετὰ τῆς καρδίας
μου ἠδολέσχουν, καὶ ἐσκάλαυον τὸ
πνεῦμα μου
. καὶ εἶπον, μὴ, εἰς τοὺ αἰῶνας
ἀπώσεται κύριος, ἢ συνέξει ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ
αὐτοῦ τοὺς οἰκτιρμοὺς αὐτοῦ
; ταῦτά φησι
νυκτὸς διελογισάμην, καὶ κατ᾽ ἐμαυτὸν
ἠδολέσχουν, μετὰ τῆς καρδίας μου, καὶ
ἐσκάλαυον τὸ πνεῦμα μου. ἐπεὶ γὰρ τὸ πνεῦμα
δίδοται ὑπὸ θεοῦ εἰς βοήθειαν, ὡς
κρεῖττον τυχάνον τῆς ψυχῆς ἡμῶν, ὁ
βουλόμενος εὑρεῖν ὃ ζητεῖ, μὴ σκαλευέτω
τὴν ψυχὴν, μηδὲ σκαλαύετω τὸ σῶμα.
ἀλλὰ σκαλευέτω τὸ πνεῦμα. καὶ ὥσπερ
ὁ βουλόμενος τί εὑρεῖν ἐν γῇ, σκάλει
τὴν γῆν ἵνα εὕρῃ ὃ φαντάζεται εἶναι
ἐν τῇ γῇ, τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον, ἐι πνευματικὰ
ζητεῖς, σκάλλε τὸ πνεῦμα, εὑρίσκειν τοὺς
καρποὺς τοῦ πνεύματος. ἔσκαλλον τὸ πνεῦμα
μου, ὅτε καὶ σὺ πάντα ἐρευνᾷς. καὶ
τὰ βάθη τοῦ θεοῦ
, σκάλλεις τὸ πνεῦμα σου.
ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω, ὅτι καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ.
δυνατὸν γάρ ἐστι καὶ ἐπ᾽αὐτὸ φθάσαι

#182r
ἐρευνῆσαι αὐτό.
#END 

ἐν αὐτῷ,
ΜΑΘΠ 

Severian of Gabala on Mark 10:17-18 and John 20:27-29

Introduction

Recently, I was contacted by a regular commenter here, Stephan Huller, about translating a passage from a sermon attributed to John Chrysostom.  The sermon, entitled “On the Ascension,” was edited by Montfaucon, and eventually appeared in the PG 52.773-92.  Though originally attributed to Chrysostom, in the past century it has been definitively assigned to his rival, Severian of Gabala.  Ironically, most of Severian’s surviving works come to us under Chrysostom’s name.  More information can be found in De Aldama’s Repertorium Pseudo-Chrysostomicum.  This homily is n. 415 in that work, and the entry may be translated:

Montfaucon had advised that this homily (which appears variously in different manuscripts) was a pastiche of several homilies, perhaps composed from several authors, and that the second part (sections 8-10) mostly consists of material taken from Chrysostom’s lost second homily on the beginning of Acts.  Marx, however, in OCPer5 (1939) 283-291 showed that this homily actually belongs to Severian of Gabala, though granting the possibility that two homilies may have indeed been conflated into one.  Altendorf admits the attribution to Severian in a letter.

I don’t have the CPG number on hand, but it appears there under Severian’s name.  

Stephan asked me to translated section 6, along with the last bit of section 5 and the first bit of section 7.  His own interests, as I understand them, relate to early understandings of Mark 10:17-18, where Jesus rebukes his interlocutor for calling him “good teacher” by saying “why do you call me good?  No one is good except God, who is one.”  

In our homily here, Severian takes aim at Arians by using John 20:27-29, where Thomas calls Jesus “my Lord and my God”  after seeing him resurrected.  Arians, who taught that Christ was a created being, rather than co-eternal with the Father, naturally turned to Mark 10:18, as it seems that Jesus is refusing divine honors.  Severian compares the passage in Mark with the passage in John, as in John, Jesus accepts the title “Lord and God.”  Severian’s solution is that in Mark, Jesus is really rebuking his interlocutor for calling him “good teacher” rather than “good Lord.”  In Severian’s mind, “teacher” is an unworthy epithet for the son of God, and so he rejects it.  

My translation here is fairly literal.  We’re not dealing with highly polished rhetoric (like Gregory of Nazianzus), so putting the work into highly polished English prose would be disingenuous.  I’ve occasionally added bits for clarity, but I’ve tried to put [square brackets] around what I’ve added.  The bolded numbers in parentheses denote section numbers.  I’ve modified the paragraph structure from the PG (by ending section 5 sooner) because it’s clear (at least to me) that a new topic begins with the citation of Jn. 20:27.  

English Translation

(5) Thus Thomas’s finger has ended the quarrel of the heretics, for this is the finger, over which the the Egyptian magicians could not prevail, saying “this is the finger of the Lord” (Ex 8:15).  It was thus fitting for St. Thomas, after this assurance, to proclaim the words of David, “in the day of my affliction I have pursued God” (Ps. 77:2/76:3 LXX), and after enquiring with his hands to declare also what follows, “in the night, my hands are stretched out before him, and I have not been deceived” (Ps. 77:2/76:3 LXX) [1].


“Do not disbelieve, but rather believe” (Jn. 20:27).  Thomas, then, having recognized from the wound the one who suffered, due to Jesus’ foreknowledge, called him God, saying, “my Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28). (6) Let the heretics hear this!  If the son had actually rejected this, and does not possess identical honor with the Father, why then does he not dismiss this all-surpassing honor?  For he heard from someone else, “good teacher,” and he said, “why do you gall me good? No one is good, except God, who is one”  (Mk. 10:17-18), even though the word “good” is in use among us.  By your understanding, he refused the epithet “good.”  How much more should he have refused to accept “Lord and God”? [In that passage, the man says] “Good Teacher,” and [Jesus] replied, “why do you call me good?” But here we have, “my Lord and my God,” but he did not say, “why do you call me ‘Lord and God?’” In the prior case, since the word used was unworthy of him (for [the man] did not say, “Good Lord,” but “Good teacher”), he dismissed the worthless title and accepted the honorable one.  In this instance, he also offers a rebuke, but on opposite grounds: he rebuked Thomas because [Thomas] spoke too late.  He did not rebuke him for saying “my Lord,” but because he spoke later than he should have.  “After you have seen, you have believed, but blessed are those who do not see, yet believe” (Jn 20:29).  Though only one man [Thomas] has been summoned, all of us have been blessed, for this blessing was spoken over all of us and those after us.  Because we have not received these miraculous things by sight, but rather received them in faith, we become fellow partakers in this great and renowned blessing.  

 

(7) But let us turn from this story, which we have treated succinctly, and move on to another word of the prophet, lest you all grow weary from an abundance of words. Which passage shall we discuss? “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord” (Is. 2:3 / Micah 4:2)…  [2]

 

Notes

[1] The Greek reads, “I have not been deceived” at the end of this verse, which differs from the Hebrew (or at least our English translations of the Hebrew), which reads something like, “my soul refused to be comforted.”

 

[2] Severian discusses in this section the “mountain of the Lord” and the Mount of Olives, before turning back to a discussion on Acts.

If anything is unclear, let me know in the comments.

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ΜΑΘΠ 

A Great Ocean of Being: Gregory Nazianzus on Divinity and Theosis

Intro

Having spent a good deal of time focused myopically on Or. 41:15-16, I decided that I should broaden my knowledge of Gregory of Nazianzus and read from some other orations.  His Greek is difficult in most places, so I proceed slowly, but I stumble often upon passages which are utterly captivating.  Since I already had the Sources Chrétiennes text on hand from my work on Or. 41, I decided to start reading Or. 38 (On the Theophany, or Nativity of Jesus), and have quickly come upon a passage I’d like to share: the first part of 38.7 (PG 36.317).  Gregory himself must have liked the passage, because he used it again in Or. 45, word for word.  In it, Gregory contemplates the nature of divinity itself, and then our own process of theosis, by which we are transformed into gods ourselves, “partaking in the divine nature” as 2 Peter 1:4 puts it.

Naturally, I managed to pick a passage that is full of text critical problems, mostly of ο/ω confusion.  They don’t affect major points of interpretation, but I do note in the Greek text where I’ve opted for a different reading from the SC text.  My translation is quite free, but do look at the Greek if possible: it’s quite lovely I promise!

English

God has always been, is now, and will be forever.  “Is” is the best term, however, for “has been” and “will be” are our own divisions of time, which are due to our mortal nature.  But the One who eternally Is, used this name when he revealed himself to Moses on the mountain. He comprises within himself existence itself, an existence that neither begins nor ends, a great, boundless ocean of being, which effortlessly surpasses any notion of time or natural law.  He is perceived dimly through the mind alone, and even this, though sufficient, is extremely dim.  This perception originates not from the divine being itself, but from those who surround it.  The image in the mind is formed with another’s aid into one coherent perception of reality, which then flees before complete apprehension, skirting off before the idea is fully grasped.  Thus, like a lightning-bolt, which illumines the night sky for but a fleeting moment, so this image surrounds our reasoning faculties with purifying light, but then disappears once more into darkness, leaving our minds completely cleansed. 

It seems to me that, insofar as we can perceive this image, it draws us to itself, for we can neither hope nor strive for something that is entirely beyond perception; but to the extent that the image is utterly beyond us, it invokes our wonder, and as we wonder, our desire increases, and the more we yearn for it, the more we are purified, and this purification makes us glimmer with divinity [1].   With a bit of boldness, I’d even suggest that it is at this stage, once we have been suitably transformed, that God unites himself fully with us, his gods [2], and is known fully to us, and perhaps known to the degree that he now knows us, who “know him even as we are known” (1 Cor 13:12).

[1] Grk. καθαῖρον δὲ θεοειδεῖς ἐργάζηται.  We have here a play on words, which evokes both Homer and the Gospels.  θεοειδής is a fairly common term in Homer, and means in the passive sense “godlike in appearance” or “shining like a god.”  Purification, though, reminds us of the beatitude “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt. 5:8), and Gregory no doubt has this in mind too.  Adjectives of this formation in Greek are ambiguous, and can be used in the active or passive sense.  Gregory thus combines the classical and the Christian to describe another New Testament idea, that as we become like God as we behold him (cf. 1 Jn 3:2).  

[2] Cf. Ps. 82:1-6. (81:1-6 LXX).

Greek

θεὸς ἦν μὲν ἀεὶ καὶ ἔστι καὶ ἔσται · μᾶλλον δὲ « ἔστιν » ἀεί. τὸ γὰρ « ἦν » καὶ « ἔσται », τοῦ καθ᾽ἡμᾶς χρόνου τμήματα καὶ τῆς ῥευστῆς φύσεως · ὁ δὲ ὢν ἀεὶ καὶ τοῦτο αὐτὸς ἑαυτὸν ὀνομάζει, τῷ Μωϋσεῖ χρηματίζων ἐπὶ τοῦ ὄρους. ὅλον γὰρ ἐν ἑαυτῷ συλλαβὼν ἔχει τὸ εἶναι, μήτε ἀρξάμενον μήτε παυσόμενον, οἷόν τι πέλαγος οὐσίας ἄπειρον καὶ ἀόριστον, πᾶσαν ὑπερεκπίπτον[1] ἔννοιαν καὶ χρόνου καὶ φύσεως.[2] νῷ μόνῳ σκιαγραφούμενος, καὶ τοῦτο λίαν ἀμυδρῶς καὶ μετρίως, οὐκ ἐκ τῶν κατ᾽ αὐτόν, ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ τῶν περὶ αὐτόν, ἄλλης ἐξ ἄλλου φαντασίας συλλεγομένης εἰς ἕν τι τῆς ἀληθείας ἴνδαλμα, πρὶν κρατηθῆναι φεῦγον καὶ πρὶν νοηθῆναι διαδιδράσκον, τοσαῦτα περιλάμπον[3] ἡμῶν τὸ ἡγεμονικόν, καὶ ταῦτα κεκαθαρμένoν, ὅσα καὶ ὄψιν ἀστραπῆς τάχος οὐχ ἱσταμένης.

ἐμοὶ δοκεῖν, ἵνα τῷ ληπτῷ μὲν ἕλκῃ πρὸς ἑαυτό — τὸ γὰρ τελέως ἄληπτον, ἀνέλπιστον καὶ ἀνεπιχείρητον — τῷ δὲ ἀλήπτῳ θαυμάζηται, θαυμαζόμενον δὲ ποθῆται πλέον, ποθούμενον δὲ καθαίρῃ, καθαῖρον δὲ θεοειδεῖς ἐργάζηται, τοιούτοις δὲ γενομένοις, ὡς οἰκείοις, ἤδη προσομιλῇ — τολμᾷ τι νεανικὸν ὁ λόγος — θεὸς θεοῖς ἑνούμενός τε καὶ γνωριζόμενος, καὶ τοσοῦτον ἴσως ὅσον ἤδη γινώσκει τοῦς γινωσκομένους.  


[1] SC reads ὑπερεκπίπτων.

[2] SC reads ‘,’ instead of ‘.’  This does result in an asyndeton, which is undesirable, but given the almost “hymnic” character of the prose here, I think it may be permitted.  

[3] SC reads περιλάμπων. Update: I’m not sure why, but I marked a difference from the SC text here even though there wasn’t one. Thanks to Gregoris in the comments for catching this. He left some very useful feedback on my textual decisions (arguing in favor of Moreschini’s text), so take a look if you’re interested in technical details.

[4] SC reads κεκαθαρμένων.  

I’ve transcribed this text directly from the SC text, which no doubt means I’ve made some typos.  If you notice something that looks off, let me know in the comments.

ἐν αὐῷ,
ΜΑΘΠ

St. John Chrysostom On Easter

As the great feast of the Resurrection is here, I thought it would be fitting to translate a bit of a paschal homily this morning.  John Chrysostom is always a good choice for such an endeavor, so I found a paschal homily of his in the TLG, and I translate the beginning of it below.  I must say, I rather like his beginning: it’s quite lovely.  This homily appears in PG 52.765.  There has been some discussion about the authenticity of the homily: some think it’s not from John himself, though the editors of the PG think it’s most likely authentic.  I haven’t done any research to see if it’s been commented on more recently, but it’s lovely Greek nonetheless, even if it doesn’t come from Chrysostom’s pen!

As is my custom, I offer a rather free translation.  I try to capture the spirit of the Greek, and the paschal joy it contains.  That’s not quite possible in translation, of course, but I try nonetheless.

The Greek text is problematic in a few places, but I wasn’t able to find a manuscript online with which to compare.  

Χριστὸς ἀνέστη! 

English Text

Today is the day for all of us to shout David’s words, “who shall speak of the great power of the Lord? Who shall make his praises heard?” (Ps. 106:2/105:2 LXX).  For behold, the feast of salvation, for which we have yearned for so long, has finally come.  The day of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the foundation of peace, and the grounds for reconciliation! The conquest of war itself, the dissolution of death, and the devil’s defeat! Today men have mingled with angels, and those in the body henceforth bring praises along with the angelic powers.  Today, death’s tyranny is vanquished! Today, the bonds of death are destroyed, the victory of Hell abolished! Today is the day for us to declare the prophet’s words, “Where, O death, is your sting? Where, O hell, is your victory?” (Hos. 13:14).  Today our Lord Christ has crushed the bronze gates of our prison (Ps. 107:16/106:16 LXX), and abolished the role of death itself.  Why do I say ‘role’? Because he changed death’s role on the great cosmic stage[1].  This change shall no longer be called ‘death,’ but rather ‘rest,’ or ‘sleep.’  Before Christ’s coming, and the working-out of the cross, the name of death brought great fear.  For the first man, instead of receiving great honor, was condemned by hearing, “in the day you eat, you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17).  But the blessed Job foresaw this change and said, “death is rest for man” (Job 3:23 LXX).  The separation of the soul from the body is not only called ‘death,’ but also ‘Hades,’ as the patriarch Jacob says, “You all will take my old age down into Hades with grief” (Gen. 42:38).  Again, the prophet says, “Hades opens wide his mouth,” (Is. 5:14?) and another prophet says, “he delivers me from the lowest depth of Hades” (Ps. 86:13/87:13 LXX).  And so you’ll find many places where death and Hades are put together and made equivalent.  But since Christ our God has been offered as a sacrifice, with resurrection as the result, our Lord, full of loving-kindness, has completely transformed the roles of death and Hades.  He has introduced a new and foreign institution into our life.  Henceforth, instead of death, this change at the end of life shall be called ‘rest,’ and ‘sleep.’  How do we know this? Hear the word of Christ himself, “My friend Lazarus is in a state of sleep, but I am coming to wake him” (Jo. 11:11).  

[1] I have added “on the great cosmic stage” to bring out more clearly John’s theatrical metaphor.  

Greek Text

αʹ. Εὔκαιρον σήμερον ἅπαντας ἡμᾶς ἀναβοῆσαι τὸ παρὰ τοῦ μακαρίου Δαυῒδ εἰρημένον· Τίς λαλήσει τὰς δυναστείας τοῦ Κυρίου, ἀκουστὰς ποιήσει πάσας τὰς αἰνέσεις αὐτοῦ; Ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἡμῖν παραγέγονεν ἡ ποθεινὴ καὶ σωτήριος ἑορτὴ, ἡ ἀναστάσιμος ἡμέρα τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἡ τῆς εἰρήνης ὑπόθεσις, ἡ τῆς καταλλαγῆς ἀφορμὴ, ἡ τῶν πολέμων ἀναίρεσις, ἡ τοῦ θανάτου κατάλυσις, ἡ τοῦ διαβόλου ἧττα. Σήμερον ἄνθρωποι τοῖς ἀγγέλοις ἀνεμίγησαν, καὶ οἱ σῶμα περικείμενοι μετὰ τῶν ἀσωμάτων δυνάμεων λοιπὸν τὰς ὑμνῳδίας ἀναφέρουσι. Σήμερον καταλύεται τοῦ διαβόλου ἡ τυραννίς· σήμερον τὰ δεσμὰ τοῦ θανάτου ἐλύθη, τοῦ ᾅδου τὸ νῖκος ἠφάνισται· σήμερον εὔκαιρον πάλιν εἰπεῖν τὴν προφητικὴν ἐκείνην φωνήν· Ποῦ σου, θάνατε, τὸ κέντρον; ποῦ σου, ᾅδη, τὸ νῖκος; Σήμερον τὰς χαλκᾶς πύλας συνέθλασεν ὁ Δεσπότης ἡμῶν Χριστὸς, καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦ θανάτου τὸ πρόσωπον ἠφάνισε. Τί δὲ λέγω τὸ πρόσωπον; Αὐτοῦ τὴν προσηγορίαν μετέβαλεν· οὐκ ἔτι γὰρ θάνατος λέγεται, ἀλλὰ κοίμησις καὶ ὕπνος· πρὸ μὲν γὰρ τῆς Χριστοῦ παρουσίας, καὶ τῆς τοῦ σταυροῦ οἰκονομίας, καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦ θανάτου τὸ ὄνομα φοβερὸν ἐτύγχανε. Καὶ γὰρ ὁ πρῶτος ἄνθρωπος γενόμενος ἀντὶ μεγάλου ἐπιτιμίου τοῦτο κατεδικάζετο ἀκούων· ᾟ δ’ ἂν ἡμέρᾳ φαγῇ, θανάτῳ ἀποθανῇ. Καὶ ὁ μακάριος δὲ Ἰὼβ τούτῳ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτὸν προσηγόρευσε, λέγων· Θάνατος ἀνδρὶ ἀνάπαυσις. Καὶ ὁ προφήτης Δαυῒδ ἔλεγε· Θάνατος ἁμαρτωλῶν πονηρός. Οὐ μόνον δὲ θάνατος ἐκαλεῖτο ἡ διάλυσις τῆς ψυχῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ σώματος, ἀλλὰ καὶ ᾅδης. Ἄκουε γὰρ τοῦ μὲν πατριάρχου Ἰακὼβ λέγοντος· Κατάξετε τὸ γῆράς μου μετὰ λύπης εἰς ᾅδου· τοῦ δὲ προφήτου πάλιν· Ἔχανεν ὁ ᾅδης τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ· καὶ πάλιν ἑτέρου προφήτου λέγοντος· Ῥύσεταί με ἐξ ᾅδου κατωτάτου· καὶ πολλαχοῦ εὑρήσεις ἐπὶ τῆς Παλαιᾶς θάνατον καὶ ᾅδην καλουμένην τὴν ἐντεῦθεν μετάστασιν. Ἐπειδὴ δὲ Χριστὸς ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν θυσία προσηνέχθη, καὶ τὰ τῆς ἀναστάσεως προεχώρησε, περιῆρε δὲ τὰς προσηγορίας αὐτὰς ὁ φιλάνθρωπος Δεσπότης, καὶ καινὴν καὶ ξένην πολιτείαν εἰς τὸν βίον εἰσήγαγε τὸν ἡμέτερον· ἀντὶ γὰρ θανάτου λοιπὸν κοίμησις καὶ ὕπνος λέγεται ἡ ἐντεῦθεν μετάστασις. Καὶ πόθεν τοῦτο δῆλον; Ἄκουε αὐτοῦ τοῦ Χριστοῦ λέγοντος· Λάζαρος ὁ φίλος ἡμῶν κεκοίμηται, ἀλλὰ πορεύομαι ἐξυπνίσαι αὐτόν.

ἐν αὐτῷ,
ΜΑΘΠ 

A Short Gem from Gregory’s First Oration

I’m doing some TLG work this morning to determine the different ways Gregory can use βελτίων.  In the process, I came upon this darling of a passage in his first oration.  Here’s the Greek and my translation:

Gregorius Nazianzenus Theol., In sanctum pascha et in tarditatem (orat. 1). 
Εʹ. Γενώμεθα ὡς Χριστὸς, ἐπεὶ καὶ Χριστὸς ὡς ἡμεῖς· γενώμεθα θεοὶ δι’ αὐτὸν, ἐπειδὴ κἀκεῖνος δι’ ἡμᾶς ἄνθρωπος. Προσέλαβε τὸ χεῖρον, ἵνα δῷ τὸ βέλτιον·
ἐπτώχευσεν, ἵν’ ἡμεῖς τῇ ἐκείνου πτωχείᾳ πλουτήσωμεν.

Let us become like Christ, for he became like us.  Let us become gods on his account, for he became a man for us. He took the worse lot, that he might give the better. He was impoverished, so that we would become rich through his poverty.  

It then continues with the antitheses in a lovely manner.  I do love reading Gregory!

ἐν αὐτῷ,
ΜΑΘΠ 

Michael Psellos On Prophecy and Spiritual Gifts (Part 1)

Below is my translation of Psellos’s passage explaining part of our enigmatic passage from Gregory.  The Greek text is found in Paul Gautier’s edition of Psellos’s Theologica, volume 1, opusculum 60.  It can be found in the TLG, and I’ve also consulted the printed text.  To my knowledge this passage has not been translated into English, though I’m not a Psellos scholar so I could easily be missing it.  I’ve been free when necessary with my translation, and suggestions are certainly welcome.

The text is rather interesting, even if I don’t quite follow all of it (particularly the bit about Pythagoras).  Psellos argues that prophecy etymologically refers to telling the future, perhaps on the basis of the prefix προ and the verb φημί, which does indeed make sense.  But he argues that in Scripture, prophecy refers only to those who foretell Christ’s coming.  He takes a rather broad understanding of “foretelling Christ’s coming” though, so that even Pythagoras, the great Greek philosopher, becomes a herald of Christ’s coming.  

The third paragraph here deals primarily with New Testament prophets, that is prophets after Christ.  Since they can no longer foretell Christ’s coming (it already happened!) Psellos has a difficulty with his prior definition.  But he argues that a person who receives the gift of prophecy after Christ and foretells the future may be called a prophet too, just like the men of old (Pythagoras included…).  Indeed, his analogy for the coming of the Spirit after Christ is not from the Old Testament, but rather from Athens.  The Spirit comes and sets up residence in our minds, just like he did in the Acropolis.  

I’ve a rough translation made of the rest, and will post it across one or two more posts.  

From Gregory of Nazianzus’s Oration on Pentecost, on the “And there is a type of gift…”

You all have asked me, what is this ‘type of gift,’ and how it is that some gifts require others to “distinguish the better,” as the great apostle says, while others are sufficient in themselves and do not require others to complete them.  Following this we may examine the saying, “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets,” (1 Cor 14:26-29) what exactly a message of prophecy is, and the exact meaning Divine Scripture gives to prophets, and finally how others have improperly received this title.  

Let us first attend to the last difficulty.  Prophecy consists entirely of foreseeing the future, which the etymology of the word reveals.  Thence anyone so inspired, whether by a night-prophecy while asleep, or reading from hands (which the wise ones of old have called palmistry), or through auspices, or some other manner may tell the future, and thus be called a prophet.  But Divine Scripture, though often in quite varied ways, reserves this word for those who announced the coming of the Lord in the flesh.  Pythagoras has done the same, for he adapted the name of wisdom, predicated on the various branches of knowledge, for the first philosophy.

Thus this wise man, who understand the principles of the branches of knowledge which proceeded from the mind, in this way became a prophet and herald of Christ’s coming in the flesh.  Just as this one may be properly called a prophet, so too may one who comes after Christ be called a prophet if he is given the gift of prophecy and foretells the future. It was not only until the coming of Christ, after all, that the Divine Spirit worked upon pure souls.  Rather, when Christ had ascended to heaven, another Paraclete came, and established himself in our mind just like he had in the Acropolis, and made his activity known to us.  This was especially the case in the time of Paul: as they were striving continually for knowledge about the better path, they would foretell the future, as ones moved in their souls by God, and they were thus called prophets.  But come now, as we’ve solved this difficulty, let us “briefly philosophize” [1] about the spiritual gifts.  

[1] A quotation from the beginning of Gregory’s oration 41, where he exhorts us “philosophize briefly, that we may celebrate the feast spiritually.” 

Greek Text

οϛʹ. Ἐκ τοῦ τῆς Πεντηκοστῆς λόγου, εἰς τὸ ‘ἔστι διαφορὰ χαρισμάτων’

Ἠρωτήκατε τίς ἡ τῶν ‘χαρισμάτων διαφορά’, καὶ πῶς τὰ μὲν ἑτέρων ‘δεῖται πρὸς διάκρισιν τοῦ βελτίονος’ κατὰ τὸν μέγαν ἀπόστολον, τὰ δὲ ἐντελῆ τυγχάνει καὶ ἀπροσδεᾶ καὶ καθ’ ἑαυτὰ ἰσχύοντα· ᾧ δὴ ἀκόλουθόν ἐστι γνῶναι ἡμᾶς ὅπως τὰ τῶν ‘προφητῶν πνεύματα προφήταις ὑποτάσ- σεται’, τίς τε ὁ τῆς προφητείας λόγος, καὶ τίνας μὲν κυρίως προφήτας ὀνομάζει ἡ θεία γραφή, τίνες δὲ καταχρηστικῶς τούτου τοῦ ὀνόματος τετυχήκασι.

Δεῖ οὖν τῷ ὑστέρῳ τῶν ἀπορηθέντων τὴν λύσιν πρῶτον ἐπενεγκεῖν. ὅτι μὲν γὰρ πᾶσα τοῦ μέλλοντος πρόρρησις προφητεία ἐστίν, αὐτό, φασί, τὸ ὄνομα δηλοῖ. ὁπόθεν γοῦν τις ὁρμώμενος, ἢ τῆς καθ’ ὕπνον μαντικῆς ἢ τῆς ἀπὸ τῶν χειρῶν διαγνώσεως, ἣν δὴ χειροσκοπικὴν οἱ πάλαι σοφοὶ ὠνομάκασιν, ἢ δι’ ὧν ὄρνις ἐγείρεται καὶ κλάζει ἢ ἄλλο τι δρᾷ, προλέγοι τὰ μέλλοντα, προφήτης οὗτός ἐστιν. ἀλλ’ ἡ θεία γραφή, τὸ ὄνομα τοῦτο εἰ πολλὰ διεσπαρμένον καὶ διῃρημένον συναγαγοῦσα πρὸς ἑαυτό, τοῖς τὴν ἐπιδημίαν τοῦ κυρίου προκαταγγείλασιν, ἣν διὰ σαρκὸς ἐνεδείξατο, φέρουσα ἐδωρήσατο. ὥσπερ δὴ καὶ Πυθαγόρας πεποίηκε· κἀκεῖνος γὰρ τὴν τῆς σοφίας προσηγορίαν, πολλῶν κατηγορουμένην ἐπιστημῶν, τῇ πρώτῃ φιλοσοφίᾳ προσήρμοσεν.

ὥσπερ οὖν σοφὸς ὁ τὰς τῶν ἐπιστημῶν ἀρχὰς ἐπιστάμενος, αἳ δὴ ἀπὸ νοῦ τὸ προϊέναι εἰλήχασιν, οὕτω δὴ καὶ προφήτης ὁ τῆς τοῦ Χριστοῦ διὰ σαρκὸς παρουσίας κῆρυξ γενόμενος. ἀλλ’ οὗτος ἂν κυρίως μὲν προφήτης καλοῖτο, κληθείη δ’ ἂν καὶ ἄλλος τις, μετὰ Χριστὸν χαρίσματος ἠξιωμένος προφητικοῦ καὶ προλέγων τὰ μέλλοντα· οὐ γὰρ μέχρι τῆς τοῦ κυρίου ἐπιδημίας τὸ θεῖον πνεῦμα ἐπὶ τῶν καθαρῶν ἐνήργει ψυχῶν, ἀλλ’ ἐπειδὴ κἀκεῖνος πρὸς οὐρανοὺς ἀναβέβηκεν, ὁ παράκλητος αὖθις ἐπεφοίτα καί, ἐνιδρυμένος τῷ νῷ ὥσπερ ἐν ἀκροπόλει, φανερὰς αὐτοῦ τὰς ἐνεργείας ἐποίει. πλεῖστοι γοῦν ἐπὶ τῶν τοῦ Παύλου χρόνων, ἀθρόως τὴν γνώμην πρὸς τὸ κρεῖττον μεταποιούμενοι, προὔλεγόν τε τὰ μέλλοντα, θεοληπτούμενοι ἀφανῶς, κἀντεῦθεν προφῆται κατωνομάζοντο. ἀλλ’ ἐπειδὴ τοῦτο διαπορήσαντες διηρθρώκαμεν, φέρε δὴ καὶ περὶ τῶν χαρισμάτων ‘βραχέα φιλοσοφήσωμεν’.

Related Posts

Part 2.

ἐν αὐτῷ,

ΜΑΘΠ