Origen Update

I’ve been busily plugging away at the PDF of the text and translation of the homily.  I’m going back through and re-translating most of what I’ve done, since the first run was pretty rough.  I’ve found several places were i messed up and have naturally corrected them in this version.  Once I’m done, I’ll post it here under either a Creative Commons license or just place it in the public domain.

Here’s a screenshot (click to enlarge).  Pardon the errors, I haven’t proofed much yet.

image

ἐν αὐτῷ,

ΜΑΘΠ

A Contemporary Reference in Origen’s Homilies on the Psalms

I stumbled upon an oblique historical reference in one of the homilies today.  I was reading the Sources Chrétiennes edition of Rufinus’ translation of Origen.  While Origen was discussing the fleeting nature of “fleshly glory,” he used this example:

“Audi quid etiam Isaias de omni gloria carnali pronuntiet: Omnis – inquit – caro fenum et omnis gloria eius ut flos feni.  Vis etiam per  singula videre quomodo flos feni sit carnis gloria? Vide quis imperavit ante hos triginta annos, quomodo imperium eius effloruit: continuo autem sicut flos feni emarcuit, tunc deinde alius post ipsum, deinde alius atque alius, qui deinde duces qui principes et omnis eorum gloria, honor non solum tamquam flos emarcuit, verum etiam tamquam pulvis aridus et a vento dispersus ne vestigium quidem sui reliquit.”

“For hear what Isaiah announced concerning all carnal glory, “All flesh,” he says, “is wheat, and all its glory is as a flower of wheat.”  Do you want also to see by each how the glory of flesh is a flower of wheat? Look at who has ruled over us these prior 30 years, how his reign blossoms.  Immediately, though, as if a flower of wheat, it withers and dies, and then another reigns after him, and then another and another, and then those who are leaders and those who are princes, and all their glory.  Their honor does not only whither like a flower, but it truly, like dry dust dispersed by the wind, leaves no mark.”  (Homily I on Ps. 36, 2) (pg. 62)

The rulers here are the Roman emperors of course.  Origen spells out a period of 30 years, within which emperors appear, blossom, and die, leaving no trace.  This certainly isn’t as precise as one might hope, but the editors leave the following note (my translation from the French):


“Without doubt, this is an allusion to the thirty years which followed the flourishing reign of Septimus Severus.  The emperors succeeded one another rapidly: Caracal, Macrinus, Elagabalus, Alexander Severus, Maximinus Thrax, and his son, then various competitors, then Gordian III, and Philip the Arab.  This text allows us to place these homilies at the end of Origen’s life.” (p 64n1)

Septimus Severus’ reign ended in 211, so 30 years later would put us at 241.  That means that at least this homily was delivered between 241 and 254/255 (when Origen died).  That would place them squarely in the Caesarean period.

I found the corresponding Greek text in the recently discovered codex.  It mentions the same period of thirty years, but diverges a bit after that. 

ἄκουε τοῦ Ησαΐου διδάσκοντος σε καταφρονεῖν τῆς δόξης τῆς κοσμικῆς, καὶ πάντων τῶν κατὰ σάρκα ἡδέων, φησί γάρ, πᾶσα σάρξ, ὡς χόρτος, καὶ πᾶσα δόξα αὐτῆς, ὡς ἄνθος χόρτου. ἴδε τὴν δόξαν τῆς σαρκός, ἐβασίλευσαν πρὸ ἡμῶν πρὸ ἐτῶν τριάκοντα. ἐδοξάσθησαν, οἱονεὶ ἄνθος ἡ δόξα αὐτῶν, ἀλλ’ἐσβέσθη, ἐμαράνθη. ἄλλοί τινες ἐπλούτησαν, ἐν ἀξιώμασι γεγένηνται. περιεπάτουν πεφυσιωμένοι ἐπὶ τῇ προαγωγῇ τῶν προαγόντων αὐτούς. παρῆλθεν ἐκεῖνα, ὅτι ὡσεὶ χόρτος ταχὺ ἀποξηρανθήσονται. πᾶσα γὰρ σάρξ, χόρτος. καὶ πᾶσα δόξα αὐτῆς, ὡς ἄνθος χόρτου. ἐξηράνθη ὁ χόρτος καὶ καὶ τὸ ἄνθος ἐξέπεσεν. (folio 35, starting at line 8)

Listen to Isaiah, as he teaches you to despise wordly glory, all the pleasures of the flesh, for his says, “All flesh, is as wheat, and all its glory, is like a flower of wheat.”  Looks at the glory of the flesh: they have ruled over us for these thirty years.  They have been glorified: their glory is like a flower; but this glory was dried up and withered.  Some others were wealthy, and came upon honors.  The walked as ones puffed up because of the honor of the things which promoted them. These things passed away, and so as a flower of wheat they will wither way, for “all flesh is wheat, and all of its glory is as a flower of wheat.”  The wheat is dried up and the flower has fallen. 

The divergences here between the Greek and the Latin are interesting, and deserve more attention.  I’ll look at those more in a future post.  For now, I’ll leave this small historical reference to ponder.

ἐν αὐτῷ,

ΜΑΘΠ

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,

ΜΑΘΠ

Origen on the "Voice of the Clouds" and the rivers

Here, Origen discusses rivers and clouds.  Rivers are the "streams of living waters" which flow from the believer (see John 7:38).  The Greek word ποταμός can be translated as either stream or river.  The clouds, continuing from the previous passage, represent the apostles and prophets:  they had these streams within them, which "gladdened the city of God." Origen also states that thunder is the voice of the angels who administer the clouds.

καὶ ἐπεὶ ποταμοί
τινες ἐκ κοιλίας αὐτῶν ἦσαν
ὕδατος ἐξιόντες εἰς ζωὴν αίώνιον,
ποταμοὺς ἔχοντες ἐλάλουν καὶ
εὔφραινον τὴν πόλιν τοῦ θεοῦ, "τοῦ
γὰρ ποταμοῦ τὰ ὀρμήματα, εὐφραίνουσι
τὴν πόλιν τοῦ θεοῦ." ἐπεὶ οὖν ἔφασκεν
ἐνταῦθα ὁ λόγος, "φωνὴν
ἔδωκαν αἱ νεφέλαι." οὐκ ἦν χαλεπὸν
τροπολογῆσαι. ἀκολούθως
δέ τις ζητήσει τοῖς ἀποδεδομένοις
εἰς τὸ "εἴδοσάν σε ὕδατα καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν."
καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς ἰδεῖν, μὴ
λανθάνειν τί καὶ περὶ τὰς νεφέλας.

τάχα οὖν ὥσπερ εἴσι  δυνάμεις ἐπὶ
θαλασσῶν, ἐπὶ ποταμῶν, ἐπὶ
γῆς, ἐπὶ φυτῶν, ἐπὶ ζῴων γενέσεως,
οὕτως εἰσὶ  δυνάμεις  καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν
νεφελῶν, ὡς τετάχθαι τινὰς καὶ
ἐπὶ τῶν βροντῶν, ἐπὶ τῶν ἀστραπῶν,
ἐπὶ τῶν ὑετῶν, καὶ τοῦ θεοῦ προστάσσοντος
καὶ ἐντελλομένου γίνεσθαι
ὑετοὺς ἐπὶ τήνδε τὴν πόλιν, καὶ
μὴ γενέσθαι ἐφ᾽ἑτέραν πόλιν, κατὰ
τὸ εἰρημένον ἐν τῷ προφήτῃ, ἢ
καὶ τὸ ῥητὸν, "καὶ βρέξω ἐπὶ πόλιν
μίαν. ἐπὶ δὲ πόλιν μίαν οὐ βρέξω"  (Am. 4:7)
"φωνὴν οὖν ἔδωκαν αἱ νεφέλαι." αἱ βρονταὶ,
οὐδὲν ἄλλο εἰσὶν, ἢ νεφελῶν φωναί,
ὡς τετήρηται ἐν τοῖς χειμῶσιν,
οὐδέποτε οὖν αἰθρίου ὄντος τοῦ
ἀέρος, ἤκουσέ τις βροντῆς, οὐδὲ
ἐώρακεν ἀστραπήν. "φωνὴν ἔδωκαν
αἱ νεφέλαι" οἰκονομούντων τῶν
πεπιστευμένων ταῦτα ἀγγέλων τὴν διάκρισιν.

And since streams of living water were proceeding from their hearts to eternal life (Jn. 7:37),  they would speak, as they had these streams, and would bring cheer to the city of God, "for the sudden force of the river, it makes glad the city of God."  And so the passage says here, "the clouds gave a voice."  It was not difficult to allegorize this. Following this, one will seek an account of the passage, "the waters saw you and were afraid," in order to see what follows, so that nothing may remain hidden about the clouds.

Perhaps then, just as there are powers over the seas, over the rivers, over the earth, and over the types of animals, so are there powers over the clouds. Thus, some would have places over the thunder, some over the lightning, and some over the rains.  So, by the order and command of God, rain comes upon this one city, but not upon another one, as it is said in the prophet, or at least at the literal level, "And I send rain on one city, but I will not send rain on another." (Am. 4:7) Thus, "the clouds give a voice."  Thunder, then, is nothing other than the voices of the clouds.  Because the voice is observed during storms, one has never heard thunder while the weather is clear, nor has one seen lightning.  "The clouds gave a voice."  This voice is the judgment of the administering angels who have been entrusted with these matters.

ἐν αὐτῷ,

ΜΑΘΠ

Origen on the “Prophets and Apostles as Clouds”

In this excerpt, Origen considers the clouds to be symbols of the prophets and apostles, whose divine words fell upon the Earth like rain.

"φωνὴν ἔδωκαν αἱ νεφέλαι."
πάλιν ἐὰν τροπολογίαν θέλωμεν,
πολλάκις εἰρήκαμεν. καὶ
μάλιστα διὰ τὸ "ταῖς νεφέλαις ἐντελοῦμαι
τοῦ μὴ βρέξαι ὑετὸν ἐπ᾽αὐτον." (Is. 5:6)
τίνα δὲ, ἢ "τὸν ἀμπελῶνα
τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Ισραήλ." καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια
δὲ τοῦ θεοῦ, φθάνει ἕως
τῶν νεφελῶν, ἀλλ᾽εἰσὶ τινὲς δίκαιοι
ἐπαιρόμενοι ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς
σώμασι, καὶ γενόμενοι νεφέλαι. 
τοιοῦτος ἦν Μωϋσῆς λέγων, "πρόσεχε
ὁ οὐρανὲ καὶ λαλήσω, καὶ ἀκουέτω
γῆ ῥήματα ἐκ στόματός μου.
προσδοκάσθω ὡς ὑετὸς τὸ ἀπόφθεγμά μου."

εἶτα ὥσπερ ὑετοῦ σωματικοῦ
καὶ ἀψύχου, ἡ νεφέλη αὐτὴ
ἔλεγεν ἄν, "προσδοκάσθω ὡς ὑετὸς
καὶ ὁ ἐμὸς λόγος," οὕτως ἐπεὶ Μωϋσῆς
λέγεται νεφέλη ἦν, ἔλεγε, "προσδοκάσθω
ὡς ὑετὸς  τὸ ἀπόφθεγμά μου,
καὶ καταβήτω ὥς δρόσος τὰ
ῥήματά μου," καὶ ἐπεὶ νεφέλη ἦν, ἔλεγεν
"ὡσεὶ ὄμβρος ἐπ᾽ἄγρωστιν,
καὶ ὡσεὶ νιφετὸς ἐπὶ χόρτον,
ὅτι ὄνομα κυρίου ἐκάλεσα." (Dt. 32:2-3)
τοιοῦτοι ἦσαν πάντες, οἱ ἐκλεκτοὶ προφῆται,
οἱ θαυμάσιοι ἀπόστολοι.

"The clouds gave a voice." Again, if we choose allegory, will shall have much to say, and especially because of the scripture, "I will command the clouds to not rain upon it."  (Is. 5:6) Upon what?  Upon "the vineyard that is the house of Israel."  Also there is the scripture, "the truth of God reaches unto the clouds,"   but there are also some righteous men who have been lifted from the earth while in their bodies, and have become clouds.  Such was Moses, saying, "harken O heaven, and I will speak. Let the earth listen to the words from my mouth. Let my message be yearned for like rain." 

So then, if this was a cloud of normal, physical rain, he would have said, "May my word be yearned for, even as rain."  But since Moses is said to be a cloud, he said, “Let my message be yearned for as rain, and let my words fall as dew.” Likewise, since he was a cloud, he continued, “and as a rainstorm upon the greenery, and as a snowstorm upon the grass, for I have called upon the name of the Lord.”  All of the chosen prophets and the wondrous apostles were as such. 

ἐν αὐτῷ,

ΜΑΘΠ

The Genre of the Origen Homilies

Over at Evangelical Textual Criticism, Dirk Jongkind has an interesting post about a variant in 1 Cor. 4:13 which he found in the newly discovered Origen manuscript (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. graec. 314).  Near the end, he asks,

However, since these are sermons, do we know how these were published? Did someone take short-hand notes? And were these then later cleaned up and edited? Or did Origen write the sermon first and read it out? This last option is unlikely for a man as brilliant as Origen.

I think I’ve found evidence that suggests that these were, more or less, impromptu or extemporaneous lectures.  In particular, the scribe uses σχέδιον and cognate forms to refer to the homilies.  τὸ σχέδιον, according to LSJ, can mean “extemporaneous, or impromptu speech.”

Here is an example from the section with which I’ve been working on this blog:

image

The first line contains the end of the previous homily, “καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας ἀμήν.” Then, the second line reads, “σχέδιον β’ ψαλμοῦ οστ’” (The second σχέδιον on the 76th psalm), which closes the previous homily.  On the next line, we see a cognate form: “ὁμιλία γ’    οστ’  ψαλμοῦ        ἐσχεδιασμένη.” (The 3rd homily on the 76th psalm  ἐσχεδιασμένη”

Here we perfect passive participle form of σχεδιάζω, which according to the LSJ  means, “do a thing off-hand, or on the spur-of-the-moment, improvise.” So, we have an improvised speech.

This leads me to believe that we’re dealing with impromptu speeches, which are likely in response to questions.  This particular “homily” could easily have been sparked by, “Of what kind are these waters that see God?”” which is the first sentence of this homily.

This also leads me to believe that “homily” is something of a misnomer.  The Greek word, of course, is ὁμιλία, the word from which we derive “homily.”  However, in English homily always refers to a speech delivered in a liturgical context (ie, a sermon).  The Greek word has a long history, and only came to be applied to sermons in the Christian era.  LSJ lists a number of meanings, but I think “lecture” is likely the most suitable English word (though that does connote a prepared speech, and these appear to be extemporaneous).

Thus, I think the setting for at least some of these “homilies” was the school, rather than the church.  This would be the more appropriate setting for philosophical speculation we see here.  For an article contrasting Origen’s public and private views, see here.  They might also be contrasted in terms of setting: public, more certain theology was for the Church.  Private, more speculative philosophy/theology was for the school.  My guess is that the text we have contains both sorts.  The homilies on Ps. 36-38 that Rufinus translated sound more like moral exhortations than philosophical speculation.  Here, though, we have the latter.

 

ἐν αὐτῷ,

AP

Update: I was unsure initially, but the ms. reads ἐσχεδιασμένη (sc. ὁμιλία).  I’ve updated the post accordingly.

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

Transcription

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.

Translation

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.”

Updates:

  • Corrected κρείτονα to κρείττονα
  • Corrected ἀγάγκη to ἀνάγκη

Manuscript discovered containing (most likely!) homilies of Origen

Many will have already heard the news from other sources (id est, here or here) that researchers in Europe believe they have uncovered a manuscript containing lots of material from Origen’s Homilies on the Psalms. 

This is really big news.  Caution is still warranted:  the results of the inquiry thus far are preliminary; however, it does appear that there are plenty of reasons to be excited.  For those unaware, Origen was easily one of the most influential and important thinkers of the early Church (he died around 250).  His output was enormous, and included philosophical/theological works, exegesis, and plenty else.  He influenced many of the other important early Christian thinkers (Eusebius of Caesarea, the Cappadocians, Chrysostom, Jerome, etc.), but because of some of his more "speculative" thoughts he was thrown into disrepute because these ideas didn’t mesh with later standards of orthodoxy.  Thus, we have but a fraction of his work at all, and less in the original Greek.  Thus, it will be a treat to see more of what Origen had to say on the Psalms, and also see how other people used/abused/re-worked it in their own work. 

The manuscript itself, according to the library catalog, is a 12th century codex.  Like Roger Pearse, I am greatly excited to see that the German library responsible for the work has placed images of the manuscript online.  What is more, you can download a PDF of the entire manuscript, rather than simply use their web interface!  This truly is "Digital Humanities" at its best: free and open access like this make it possible for scholars (and wanna-be scholars like me) to see the manuscript for ourselves, rather than waiting for a select few to hand down their thoughts.  I hope more libraries follow their lead!

I’ve been looking at the manuscript myself:  it’s a joy to read.  The scribe’s spelling and accent placement are fantastic, which makes reading it much easier than most of the other mss at which I’ve looked.  The Greek itself isn’t too bad either.  Fortunately, exegetical works, by their nature, tend to be easier than other genres. 

I’ll post a little bit of transcription and translation soon.  I more or less flipped around in the manuscript until I found the start of a homily: this bit will be his comments on the end of Psalm 77, where the “waters have seen God, and fear him.” In it, the author discusses the nature of these waters, and their relationship to the three heavens.  I’m not at all an Origen expert, but it is consistent with what I’ve read about him. 

ἐν αὐτῷ,

AP

More Chrysostom on Prayer.

I’ve not posted in quite some time, and I can’t really say that this post represents a return to frequent posts.  However, I came across some Chrysostom that was too good not to share.  As is customary, I give my translation and then the Greek.  Enjoy!

Do you see, then, how powerful are both prayer and petition?  They make men into temples of Christ!  Just as gold, precious stones, and marble make the houses of kings, so prayer creates temples of Christ. “That Christ,” he says, “may dwell in your hearts.”  What greater praise of prayer could ever be, than that it creates temples for God?  The one whom the heavens do not contain, this is the one who enters the living soul through prayers.  “‘The heaven is my throne,'” he says, “‘and the earth my footstool.  What type of house will you build for me?’ says the Lord. ‘Or what place of rest for me?'”  But nevertheless Paul builds him a house through his holy prayers.  He says, “I bend my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that the Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”  Indeed from that, one should know the power of holy prayers, since Paul, the one who ran as though with wings through the entire world, who made his residence in prison, who bore whips and chains, always living in blood and danger, who drove out demons and raised the dead, and who healed sicknesses, he trusted none of these things for the salvation of men, but defended the earth through his prayers, and after the signs and the raising of the dead, he ran again to prayers, just as an athlete returning to the training room right after receiving the crown.

 

And the Greek:

Ὁρᾷς, ὅσον ἰσχύει προσευχὴ καὶ δέησις; Ναοὺς Χριστοῦ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἐργάζεται· καὶ ὥσπερ χρυσὸς, καὶ λίθοι πολυτίμητοι, καὶ μάρμαρα ποιοῦσι τοὺς οἴκους τῶν βασιλέων· οὕτω προσευχὴ ναοὺς τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Κατοικῆσαι, φησὶ, τὸν Χριστὸν ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν. Τί μεῖζον ἂν γένοιτο προσευχῆς ἐγκώμιον, ἢ ὅτι ναοὺς ἀπεργάζεται Θεοῦ; Ὃν οὐ χωροῦσιν οὐρανοὶ, οὗτος εἰς ψυχὴν εἰσέρχεται ζῶσαν ἐν προσευχαῖς. Ὁ οὐρανός μοι θρόνος, φησὶν, ἡ δὲ γῆ ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν μου. Ποῖον οἶκον οἰκοδομήσετέ μοι; λέγει Κύριος· ἢ τίς τόπος τῆς καταπαύσεώς μου; Ἀλλ’ ὅμως οἶκον ὁ Παῦλος οἰκοδομεῖ διὰ τῶν ἁγίων εὐχῶν. Κάμπτω, φησὶ, τὰ γόνατά μου πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἵνα κατοικήσῃ ὁ Χριστὸς διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν. Καὶ μὴν κἀκεῖθεν ἴδοι τις ἂν τὴν δύναμιν τῶν ἁγίων εὐχῶν, ὅτι Παῦλος ὁ διὰ πάσης τῆς οἰκουμένης ὥσπερ ὑπόπτερος τρέχων, καὶ δεσμωτήριον οἰκῶν, καὶ μάστιγας ὑπομένων, καὶ φορῶν ἅλυσιν, καὶ ζῶν ἐν αἵματι καὶ κινδύνοις, καὶ δαίμονας ἐλαύνων, καὶ νεκροὺς ἐγείρων, καὶ παύων ἀῤῥωστήματα, οὐδενὶ τούτων ἐθάῤῥησεν εἰς σωτηρίαν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἀλλὰ ταῖς προσευχαῖς ἐτείχισε τὴν γῆν, καὶ μετὰ τὰ σημεῖα καὶ τὴν τῶν νεκρῶν ἀνάστασιν, ἐπὶ τὰς προσευχὰς ἔτρεχεν, ὥσπερ τις ἀθλητὴς ἐπὶ παλαίστραν ἀπὸ στεφάνου.

John Chrysostom, De Precatione (PG 60.783)

 

John Chrysostom on Prayer (Part 3)

Here’s a third excerpt from one of John Chrysostom’s homilies De Precatione (On Prayer). Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here. See part 1 for the link to the Greek text. I start translating at Ὅστις γὰρ οὐ προσεύχεται τῷ Θεῷ.


“For the one who does not pray to God, who does not desire to enjoy such divine communion, is dead and soul-less, and has no share of wisdom. For this is a great sign of foolishness, to not understand the weight of this honor, to not passionately desire prayer, to bring death to the soul by not worshiping God. Just as our body, when not having a soul, is dead and decaying, so it is with the soul: when it does not move itself to prayer, it is dead, wretched, and decaying … But when I see someone who has an insatiable desire for serving God, and who immediately considers the lack of prayer a great loss, I consider this one to certainly have all of the virtues of discipline, as if they were the temple of God.”

John Chrysostom. De Precatione.

Edit: Typo corrected.