A modern instance of Homoioteleuton

Homoioteleuton is one of the many daunting words of textual criticism.  Fortunately, the word’s meaning is less daunting than its form.  Greek for “like ending,” it simply refers to a scribe skipping over a line (or more) while copying a manuscript, due to similar line endings.  I found an example this morning while working on the Origen manuscript: in my own transcription!

As I was reading back over my transcription, I came upon the following lines

μήποτε γὰρ κ’ἄν ἐξωβάλλει
ἀλλὰ εἶδός τι αὐτοῦ.


Something seemed amiss, (ἐξωβάλλει belongs in the subjunctive, for one) so I opened up the PDF of manuscript to the corresponding page.  Sure enough, I had made an error:



The three lines read,

.. θεόν, μήποτε γὰρ, κ’ἄν ἐξωβάλλῃ

τὸν φόβον, οὐχὶ ὅλον αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει,

ἀλλὰ εἶδός τι αὐτοῦ. οἶδα γὰρ καὶ…

“[the question is] whether, when [love] casts

out fear, it does not cast it out entirely,

but only one form of it.  For I know that…”

[brackets merely provide context]

Sure enough, what I had as ἐξωβάλλει was actually in the subjunctive: ἐξωβάλλῃ.  Because the first two lines end in similar fashion (ἐξωβάλλῃ/ἐκβάλλει), it looks like I conflated the two readings to produce ἐξωβάλλει, and cut the intervening line.  The result didn’t make very much sense, and as a result I caught the error when reading over it. 

This was a humble reminder to me that I’m just as susceptible to all the various “scribal phenomena” as those who wrote the manuscripts I’m reading!  Textual work, then, as now, requires a careful hand and a careful eye if we’re to minimize errors like this one.

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,

More from Origen, On angelic administrators and their duties

In this passage, Origen discusses further the relationship between “powers” (ie, angelic beings), and the matters over which they preside.  He distinguishes between the place, and the power.  For example, Hades is both a place for souls, and the angelic being which presides over Hades. In the next passage, Origen will “take refuge in allegory.” 

εἰ οὖν πάντα
δυνάμεων ἐπιστατουσῶν καὶ μεμερισμένων
πάντα τὰ ἐν τῶ κόσμῳ οίκονομεῖται,
τί ἄτοπον ὁμωνύμως
τοῖς  οἰκονομουμένοις , τὰ οἰκονομοῦντα
ὀνομάζεσθαι.  καὶ λέγεσθαι
ὕδατα τὰς δυνάμεις τὰς ἐπὶ  τῶν
ὑδάτων, λέγεσθαι θαλάσσας, τὰς
δυνάμεις τὰς ἐπὶ ταης θαλάσσης, καὶ
οὕτως ἀβύσσους τὰς δυνάμεις τὰς
ἐπὶ τῆς ἀβύσσου, ὅτι γὰρ ὁμωνύμως
τοῖς τόποις καὶ χωρίοις

ὀνομάζονται οἱ διοικοῦντες τοὺς τόπους,
μαρτυρήσει μοι τὸ ἐν τῷ Ἠσαΐα
πνεῦμα λέγον: ὁ ἅδης κάτωθεν ἐπικράνθη
συναντήσας σοι, ὁρᾶς ὅτι
ἅδης ἐστὶ τόπος ψυχῶν, περὶ οὗ
γἐγραπται, ἀποσταφήτωσαν οἱ ἀμαρτωλοὶ
εἰς τὸν ἅδην.  καί ἔστιν ἅδης
ζῶον ὁμώνυμον τῶ τόπῳ ἐκείνῳ,
ὅ ἅδης ὁνομάζεται; ἐὰν
οὖν πρὸς τὴν θάλασσαν λέγηται
ὅτι εἶδεν καὶ ἔφυγεν, ὁμωνύμως τῇ
θαλάσσῃ ἡ δύναμις ἡ διοικοῦσα τὰ
κατὰ τὴν θάλασσαν καὶ ὁδοποιοῦσα
τῷ λαῷ τοῦ θεοῦ, ὡνομάσθη.
ἐὰν οὖν λέγηται ὁ ἰορδάνης ἀπεστράφη
εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω, ὁμωνύμως τῷ ἰορδήνῃ
ποταμῷ, ἡ δύναμις ἡ ἐγκεχειρισμένη
τὴν δύναμιν τοῦ ποταμοῦ, ἰορδάνης ὀνομάζεται.

Thus, if the powers preside over all things, and have divided all things, and all things in the world are thus administered, how is it not fitting that the rulers are named the same as that which they rule? Thus the powers which oversee the waters are called waters, those which oversee seas are called seas, and those which oversee the abysses are called abysses, since those who oversee places are named according to their place and region.

The Spirit testifies for me in Isaiah, saying. "Hades is embittered, having met you." (Is. 14:9) Don’t you see that Hades is a place for souls, about which it is written, "may the sinners be turned to Hades." Yet also there is a being named after this place, who is called Hades? If it is said about the sea that it "saw and fled," then it was about the power who managed the matters of the sea and prepared the way for the people of God, who was likely called the same name.  If it is said that “the Jordan turned its back,” then it is likely that the power who was entrusted with the power over the river is called Jordan, like the river. 

ἐν αὐτῷ,


More from Origen on the Psalms: Angelic Warfare, Angelic Administration, and Star-Sickness

It’s been a busy week at work! I’ve been reading more from manuscript, but I haven’t had time to translate much until today. In this passage, Origen discusses further the spiritual powers at work in the universe. Consistent with early Christian thought, he attributes the various Greek gods and divine beings with powerful angelic beings, though he explicitly condemns worshiping them. He also discusses angelic “administration,” and also narrates the fall of a star. Frankly, this portion eludes me entirely. I grasp what he’s saying, but I’m not sure to which star he is referring. As always, corrections on the transcription or translation are welcome.

οὐ πάντη ἀποπεπωκότες τῆς ἀληθείας,
ἀποπεπωκότες δὲ ἐκ
μέρους. οἱ μὲν γὰρ ὡς θεοῖς θύουσιν,
ἁμαρτάνουσιν, εἰ δὲ φαντάζονται
εἶναί τινα δύναμιν περὶ ἐκεῖνα,
οὐχ ἁμαρτάνουσιν, ἔστι γὰρ δύναμις.
ἅς καλοῦσι καὶ νύμφας τινὰς εἶναι
ἐπὶ τῶν πηγῶν, καὶ ἐπὶ παντοῦ
τόπου, θέλουσι δύναμιν ἐπιστατεῖν.
εἴποι δ’ ἄν τις ὅτι εἰ μὲν ἐψυχωμένη
ἦν ἡ θάλασσα, καὶ ἕκαστος
τῶν ποταμῶν; πολὺς ἂν εἴη λόγος
ζητεῖν, ἵνα ᾖ καὶ ταῦτα ἐψυχωμένα.
ἀλλά γε πάντα ἅγια τέτακται
καὶ εἰσὶν ἄγγελοι ἐγκεχειρισμένοι
τὰ θαλάσσια πράγματα , καὶ
ἄλλοι ἄγγελοι οἰκονομεῖν, οἱ μὲν, τὰ
τοῦδε τοῦ ποταμοῦ, οἱ δὲ τὰ ἄλλου
τινὸς ποταμοῦ.

οὕτω δὲ καὶ οἱ
ἄγγελοι οἰκονομεῖν τὰ τοῦ ἀστέρος,
καὶ ποτὲ μὲν θειότεροι ἄγγελοι οἰκονομοῦσι
τὰ τοῦ ἀστέρος. ὅτε ὁ ἀστὴρ οὐ
νοσεῖ. οὐ δὲ λοιμώδης γίνεται, ὅτε δὲ
ἄλλη τίς δύναμις παρείληφεν οἰκονομεῖν
τὸν ἀστέρα, πάντως διὰ τὰς ἁμαρτίας
τῶν ἄνθρώπων. ὅτε χείρονος
δυνάμεως παραλαβούσης τὸν ἀστέρα,
τρέπεται ὁ ἀήρ, καὶ λοιμῶδες κατάστημα
γίνεται, ὥστε τὸν ἀναπνέοντα τὸν ἀστέρα
ἐκεῖνον τὸν ἐφθαρμένον, ἀπὸ δυνάμεως λοιμοποιοῦ,
λοιμώττειν, καὶ νοσεῖν.

They have not departed from the truth entirely, but they have departed in part. Those who sacrifice to these things as gods, they are sinning. But if they imagine that some power is around them, they are not sinning: there is a power. What they call nymphs, some are over the springs, and they want there to be a power in charge of every place. One wishes to ask, “if the Sea was given a soul, were the rivers also given them?” This could be a long subject to pursue, whether these things were given souls. Nevertheless, all things were made holy and there are angels that were entrusted with the matters of the sea. Other angels administer other affairs: some the affairs of this river, and some those of some other river.

In the same way, the angels administer the matters of the Star. There was a time when the more divine angels were in charge of the Star- at this time the Star was not sick, nor had it become pestilent. But then some other power seized the power of the star, as always because of the sins of mankind. After the lesser power had captured the star, the air turned, and the state of pestilence began, such that the star, by breathing that destruction from a pestilent-creating power, now suffers illness and disease.

ἐν αὐτῷ,

Origen Transcription and Translation–Part 3

Here, Origen discusses whether rivers, seas, and lands have souls;  he marshals evidence from several places in scripture to suggest that they do, and then wonders if these “powers” taking on various natural forms (rivers, lakes, etc.) are responsible for the pagan practice of making sacrifices to them.  As always, suggestions and corrections are welcome. 


ἡ λέξις ἡ λέγουσα, "εἴδοσάν
σε ὕδατα καὶ έφοβήθησαν; ἐταράχθησαν
ἄβυσσοι πλῆθος ἤχους ὑδάτων
." ἐπέρχεται δή μοι
λέγειν, ὅτι πάντα ἐψύχωται, καὶ
οὐδέν ἐστιν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ κενὸν ψυχῆς.
πάντα δὲ ἐψύχωται σώμασι διαφόροις,
ἐψύχωται ὁ οὐρανός, διὸ ὡς
πρὸς ζῶον αὐτῷ ἡ γραφὴ λέγει, "πρόσεχε #Dt 32:1
οὐρανὲ καὶ λαλήσω" καὶ ἄβυσσe [1]
οὐρανὲ, ἐψύχωται ἡ γῆ, "ῥήματα ἐκ
στόματός μου." καὶ "ἐνωτίζου γῆ." #Is. 1:2
εἶτα ἐψύχωται μὲν οὐρανός, ἐψύχωται
δὲ καὶ ἡ γῆ,  ἆρα θάλασσαι καὶ ποταμοὶ
οὐκ ἐψύχωται; ἢ καὶ ταῦτα ἐψύχωται.
καὶ ἴδωμέν γε ὅτι "ἡ θάλασσα
εἶδεν καὶ ἔφυγεν; ὁ ἰορδάνης
ἐστράφη εἰς τὰ ὀπίσω
" (Ps. 113:3 LXX) καὶ ὅτι ὡς
πρὸς ἐψυχωμένα ὁ λόγος διαλέγεται,
νῦν τῇ λέξει συναγορεύω. τῷ ῥητῷ μόνῳ
παρίσταμαι, θέλων παραστῆσαι
ὅτι πολλάκις λανθάνει ἡμᾶς καὶ ἡ
λέξις κατὰ τὸ ῥητὸν ἔχουσα μυστήρια
θεῖα, καὶ οὐ τοῖς τυχοῦσι γνωστά,
ζητῶ οὖν εἰ δύναμίς τις ἐνδέδυται
τὸ σῶμα τὸ θαλάσσης, καὶ ἄλλη
δύναμις ἐνδέδυται σῶμα ποταμοῦ
τοῦ ϊορδάνου, καὶ ἄλλου ποταμοῦ

φέρ’εἰπεῖν τῶν γεὼν, ἄλλη δύναμις,
καὶ οὕτως ἐπὶ πάντων.
καὶ τάχα τοιαῦτα φαντασθέντες
καὶ οἱ παρ’ἕλλησι περιεργότεροι,
θύουσι τοῖς ποταμοῖς ὡς θεοῖς.

[1]  I’m not sure what to do with these three words. They don’t look like they belong to me:  either the scribe missed something or added them by mistake (two close instances of οὐρανέ could cause that).  I’ve left them out of the translation, though I’m happy to hear suggestions.   Here’s the snippet in the ms:




“They trembled,” is not all, but, “the abyss, the depth of the sound of the waters.” Do you see here the difference between the water and the Abyss? [1]  For the Spirit of God was on the water, but Darkness was on the Abyss.  Here, the waters see God, and do not tremble.  But the Abyss does not see God, yet trembles.  For the Abyss, over which was Darkness,  is always in a state of flux and clamor.  Because of this, the demons pleaded with the Lord, so that he would not order them to return to the Abyss.  They said to him, “What is there between us and you, Son of God? You have come to oppress us for a time.” But these instructions for the more divine knowledge, concerning the waters of the Abyss, let us not set them aside, nor what was said just now.  But let us see if it is possible for them to make sense. 

The passage that reads, “The waters saw you and were afraid.  The abyss shook, a deep sound of waters,”  starts to say that all things have souls, and that there is nothing in the world without a soul.  All things are “en-souled” in different bodies.  The Heaven was given a soul, and thus the scripture speaks as if to a living being, “Harken O Heaven, and I will speak” (Dt. 32:1).  The Earth was given a soul, “let the earth hear the words from my mouth,” and “give ear, O Earth!”  If then the Heaven was given a soul, and the Earth was too, would not the seas and rivers have them also?  And these too were given souls.  Let us see indeed that “the sea saw and fled.  The Jordan turned its back,” (Ps. 114:3) and that the passage speaks as if to beings having souls. [2] I agree now with this reading. I will stand only by the literal sense, wanting to show that it often escapes us and that even the reading according to the letter has divine mysteries, and not just those that happen to be known.  Thus I seek to know whether some power has put on the body of a lake, and another power the body of the Jordan river, and of other rivers, and even of the different lands, and likewise for all things.  And perhaps, as things like these displayed themselves, the most eager among the Greeks sacrificed to them as gods. 

[1] Since Origen argues that these are beings with souls, or else spiritual powers, I have opted to capitalize them when he’s not quoting scripture directly.

[2] These following two sentences are a little rough, mainly because I don’t quite know what he means by τῷ ῥητῷ μόνῳ παρίσταμαι.  Something about the literal reading, but I’m not quite sure.

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.”


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:


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,


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

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

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