Origen and The Holy Scriptures

 

 

the holy scriptures

Origen lived in the Bible. He states that the whole Scriptures "breathe the Spirit of fullness, and there is nothing, whether in the Law or in the Prophets, in the Evangelists or in the Apostles, which does not descend from the fullness of the Divine Majesty. Even at the present time the words of fullness speak in the Holy Scriptures to those who have eyes to see the mysteries of heaven, and ears to hear the voice of God."

Learning is useful, Origen tells his pupil Gregory, but the holy Scriptures are their own best key.

Be diligent in reading the divine Scriptures, yes, be diligent...

Knock, and the doorkeeper will open unto you...

And be not content to knock and to inquire, for the most necessary aid to spiritual truth is prayer.

Hence our Savior said not only "Knock, and it shall be opened," and "Seek, and you shall find," but "Ask, and it shall be given you.

Each of us who serves the word of God digs wells and seeks living waters, from which he may renew his hearers.

According to Origen, knowledge of the holy Scriptures is the royal road to the knowledge of God. Although he sometimes speaks as a philosopher to philosophers, using their own language, especially in his work "De Principiis," he asserts the importance of the holy Scriptures.

Now in our investigation of these important matters we do not rest satisfied with common opinions and the evidence of things seen, but we use in addition, for the manifest proof of our statements, testimonies drawn from the Scriptures, which we believe to be divine, both from what is called the Old Testament and also from the New, endeavoring to confirm our faith by reason.

We can say, that he believes that through the divine Scriptures our human knowledge is sanctified and becomes true wisdom. Therefore, he states that knowledge must become wisdom, and human knowledge grasps the principles only because divine perception has conjoined it. It is therefore divine perception as articulated through Scriptures that determines the character of philosophical thinking.

 

THE BOOK OF THE CHURCH

The Holy Scripture is the book of the Church which we receive through the Church tradition. He says, "By tradition, I knew the four gospels, and that they are the true ones."

He believes that the true understanding of the Scripture is only found in the Church. The Church draws her catechetical material from the prophets, the gospels and the apostles’ writings. Her faith was buttressed by holy Scripture supported by common sense. He appeals again and again to the Scripture as the decisive criterion of dogma.

The true disciple of Jesus is he who enters the house, that is to say, the Church.

He enters it by thinking as the Church does, and living as she does; this is how he understands the Word.

The key of the Scriptures must be received from the tradition of the Church, as from the Lord Himself.

Origen in his exegesis of the holy Scripture refers to the tradition and to the writings of the Fathers (presbyters) of the Church. For example, concerning the parable of the good Samaritan, he writes: "One of the presbyters said that the man who was going down to Jericho is Adam, Jerusalem is the Paradise, Jericho the world, the thieves the evil powers, the Samaritan is Christ." J. Daniélou says that Origen means here with "the one of the presbyters" St. Irenaeus.

Henri De Lubac explains Origen’s view on the spiritual meaning of the Scriptures, saying,

It (the spiritual meaning) is to receive the Word from Jesus’ hands and to have Him read it to you. It is to act as "a son of the Church." If there is one fundamental obligation for the Christian, it is that of keeping "to the rule of the heavenly church of Jesus Christ, through the succession from the apostles." In concrete terms then, what is this rule? Saint Irenaeus had already given the answer: it is the interpretation of Scripture by the Spirit.

Origen AS AN INTERPRETER OF the Scripture

St. Gregory the Wonder-Maker praises Origen as an interpreter of the Scripture by saying:

"The Spirit who inspires the prophets... honored him as a friend, and had appointed him His interpreter..."

"He had the power to listen to God and understand what He said and then to explain it to men that they too might understand."

Eusebius tells us that Origen spent the greater part of his nights in studying the Holy Scriptures. It was the center of his life, the well-spring of his personal religious life and the instrument for striving after perfection.

He made a close study of the text, and in order to fit himself for this task he learnt Hebrew, and made a collection of current versions of the Old Testament and composed his "Hexapla."

Origen's consistent principle of interpretation was: explaining the Bible by the Bible, that is obscure or difficult passages should be explained by other passages, from anywhere else in the Bible. The whole Bible must be allowed to speak for itself, what ever a single text may seem to say; and it must be permitted to speak not merely in its own behalf, but in the name of God. Allegorical interpretation is based on the Holy Scripture. In his "Homilies on Jeremiah," he states that his interpretation is invalid unless it depends on two or three witnesses (Deut. 19:15). The witnesses in his interpretation of the Book of Jeremiah are three: the New Testament, the Old Testament, and Jeremiah the Prophet himself.

 

 

INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURE AS A DIVINE GIFT

According to St. Clement of Alexandria the spiritual understanding of the Scripture is a grace given to the perfect believers by Christ, through the continual advances of living faith, depending on the living Church tradition. He states that "the unwritten tradition of the written Word, given by the Savior Himself to the apostles, is handed down even to us, being inscribed on new hearts according to the renewing of the Book by the power of God." Origen believes that for only those who have the Spirit of Jesus can understand their spiritual meaning, i.e., to enter this chamber of eternal marriage between Christ and the soul. It is a divine gift.

Although all true believers accept the spiritual level of meaning, yet not everyone is able to understand it, but those who have this gift.

That there are certain mystical revelations made known through the divine Scripture is believed by all, even by the simplest of those adherents of the word; but what these revelations are, fair-minded and humble men confess that they do not know.

Origen makes man totally dependent on God for a proper understanding of the holy Scriptures in their deepest meaning, for it is a divine grace. Without divine revelation and aid, no one would be able to comprehend the mysteries of the Scriptures. We obtain this grace through praying, as we must weep and beg the Lord to open our inner eyes like the blind man sitting by the road side at Jericho (Matt. 20:30). Origen says that we must pray for we are often beside the wells of running water - God's Scripture - and we yet fail to recognize them by ourselves.

Nothing good can come apart from God, and this is above all; true understanding of the inspired Scriptures.

The Scriptures were written by the Spirit of God, and have meanings, not as they appear at the first sight, but also others, which escape the notice of most. For those (words) which are written are the forms of certain mysteries, and the images of divine matters. Accordingly, there is one opinion throughout the whole Church, that the whole case is indeed spiritual; however the spiritual meaning which the law conveys is not known to all, but to those only on whom the grace of the Holy spirit is bestowed in the word of wisdom and knowledge.

Let us exhort God to grant that, as the word grows in us, we may receive a rich broad-mindedness in Christ Jesus and so be able to hear the sacred and holy words.

And so, if at times we do not understand what is said, we shall not lessen our obedience or subside to easier material explanation, but wait for the grace of God to suggest to us an answer to our question, whether by direct enlightenment or through the agency of another.

Many have sought to interpret the divine Scriptures... but not all with success. For rare is he who has the grace for this from God.

Origen sees that, in the miracle of the Feeding of the Five Thousand, the fire that bakes the bread of exegesis is the love of God, the inspiration that comes from the Spirit and acts both on the inspired writer and on his interpreter. The bread which the preachers cut into pieces and distribute to the crowd is the spiritual meaning. The oven is not only the reasoning ability of the intellectual but the higher part of the soul, the intellect, the heart or the ruling faculty, which is the seat of man's participation in the image of God, since only like can know like. The proper setting for this exegesis is contemplation and prayer: thence it comes down like Moses from his mountain, now that Jesus has done away with the veil, to reappear in the synthesis of the theologian, in the teaching of the preacher and the professor, in the struggles of the apologist, and above all in the Christian life of all who live by it .

The Holy Scripture is like a house in which all the rooms are locked, and the keys are not in the keyholes but scattered over the corridors and stairs; and none of the keys lying near the doors open those doors. The only way to interpret the Scriptures is therefore a close, methodical study of every text, every key. Such was the story a Jewish rabbi told him, and Origen answered: "The key of David is in the hands of the Divine Word, which became flesh, and now the Scriptures which had been closed until His Coming are opened by that key." But though Origen said this, his practice was the continual study of texts until the day he died...

 

ALLEGORISM

I have already mentioned him as the founder of the mode of the allegorical interpretation of the Holy Scripture as a system.

According to Origen the understanding of Scripture is "the art of arts," and "the science. The words of the Scripture are its body, or the visible element, that hides its spirit, or its invisible element. The spirit is the treasure hidden in a field: hidden behind every word, every letter and even behind every iota used in the written word of God. Thus 'every thing in the Scripture is mystery."

Origen differs from St. Clement in regarding allegorism rather as a personal gift than as an inherited tradition. St. Clement’s few allegorisms are almost without exception borrowed. We may say that he regarded not only the sanction but the substance of this mode of interpretation as given by tradition. Origen feels that he has a personal illumination.

J.N.D. Kelly clarifies allegorism according to Origen, saying,

An admirer of Philo, he regards Scripture as a vast ocean, or (using a different image) a forest of mysteries; it was impossible to fathom, or even perceive them all, but one could be sure that every line, even every word the sacred authors wrote, was replete with meaning. In practice Origen seems to have employed a slightly different triple classification, comprising

a) the plain historical sense,

b) the typological sense, and

c) the spiritual sense, in which the text may be applied to the devout soul.

Thus when the Psalmist cries (3:4), "You, O Lord, art my support, my glory, and the lifter up of my head," he explains that it is in the first place David who speaks; but, secondly, it is Christ, Who knows, in His passion, that God will vindicate Him; and, thirdly, it is every just soul who, by union with Christ, finds His glory in God. Indeed, he makes the point that, thanks to the allegorical method, it is possible to interpret it (the Scripture) in a manner worthy of the Holy Spirit, since it would not be proper to take literally a narrative or a command (and understand it in a manner) unworthy of God.

The room that Origen finds in his homilies for the literal sense varies considerably. Some homilies are almost entirely built around it, in others it occupies a minimal space. Origen believes that many texts have no literal sense at all. Some, like the Decalogue, have a moral signification, of such a kind that it is needless to seek farther. The distinction between the two higher senses is not always very clearly drawn, as there are regions where the one shades off into the other by very fine gradations. He held that innumerable passages in both Testaments have no sense at all except as allegories.

Origen discovers in the three books attributed to Solomon: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs, the three branches of Greek learning: moral, natural, and inspective, which in any event the Greeks had borrowed from Solomon.

Origen adopted allegorism not only in interpreting the Old Testament to explain the first advent of the Messiah for our salvation, but also in the New Testament to clarify the second or last advent of the Glorified Christ in His eternal kingdom for our glorification.

Jean Daniélou says, "Up to the present we have studied his figurative exegesis of the Old Testament only. But a new idea comes out here: the New Testament in turn is seen as a figure of the Kingdom that is to come. It is an idea that we have already met with in Origen’s theology of Baptism. We have seen that he regarded Baptism as being at once the fulfillment of Old Testament figures and a figure both of the Baptism that will take place at the end of the world and also of the Resurrection. Now we have the same outlook again but with reference to the New Testament as a whole. Another dimension must thus be added to Origen’s view of history. History is not just the relationship of the Old Testament to the New; it is also the relationship of the New Testament to the eternal Gospel, to use the words of the Apocalypse (14:6), as Origen does in a famous passage in the De Principiis."

 

 

THE THEOLOGICAL JUSTIFICATION OF SPIRITUAL EXEGESIS

Origen comments on Joshua's promise to his soldiers "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that I have given to you, as I said unto Moses" (Jos. 1:3), saying:

These places are the low lands of the literal meaning of the Scriptures. We must pass over this meaning to inherit the spiritual meaning, thus we ask for the things which are above where Christ is sitting on the right hand of the Father (2 Cor. 3:1).

Origen comments on the words "Your eyes are doves" (Song 1:15), saying,

Her eyes are compared to doves, surely because she understands the divine Scriptures now, not after the letter, but after the spirit, and perceives in them spiritual mysteries; for the dove is the emblem of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:16). To understand the Law and the Prophets in a spiritual sense is, therefore, to have the eyes of a dove... In the Psalms a soul of this sort longs to be given the wings of a dove (Ps. 67:14), that she may be able to fly in the understanding of spiritual mysteries, and to rest in the courts of wisdom.

In the Contra Celsum, Origen writes that "the Word so desires that there be wise persons among believers that, for the sake of exercising the hearers' intelligence, he hides certain things under enigmas and wraps others up in obscure sayings; some things are in parables and others in problems."

He also says, "You see how it is: mystery on mystery everywhere. You see what a weight of mystery presses on us. There are so many mysteries that we cannot hope to explain them."

Origen gives the following justification of spiritual exegesis:

1. I have already mentioned that Origen discussed two problems which the early Church faced, concerning the Old Testament:

a - The Scriptures contain much that is obscure. Jews reject the argument from prophecy because Christ did not fulfill strictly and literally every expectation attached to the Messiah. For Origen, if two-and-a-half tribes remained in Transjordania when the holy Land was shared out, that means that the Old Testament, of which the land beyond the Jordan is the symbol, has arrived at a certain but incomplete knowledge of the Trinity. The Word speaks in the Old Testament and that is revelation only because it speaks of Him, prophesies about Him, in its entirety and not simply in the few passages considered to be direct prophecies. It is a kind of indirect prophecy, in which the exegete, following in the footsteps of the New Testament itself, will find types of the Christ, the Church, the sacraments, etc. The principal types of Christ are Isaac, son of Abraham, who symbolizes the old covenant; Joshua, whose name in Greek is Jesus, the successor of Moses who represents the Law; and several others like Solomon, who receives the queen of Sheba, the Church gathered from the Gentiles; or again the High Priest, Joshua or Jesus, son of Josedec. In other words, Origen finds the New Testament in the Old.

b - The heretics disown the Old Testament because they find in it evidence which, taken literally again, detracts from the moral perfection of God. And simple-minded Christians, through the same habit of literality, are induced to attribute to the true God such characteristics as they would not credit to the most savage and unrighteous of mortal men. What is impossible is that the text should only have a literal meaning. Much in the Old Testament when interpreted literally and not spiritually is unworthy of God, and this is in itself a sufficient refutation of Judaism. It is blasphemy to ascribe to God human weaknesses like wrath or changes of mind.The Gnostics rejected the Old Testament, for they were scandalized by some passages which refer to God as being angry, or that He regretted or changed His mind... They were scandalized because they interpreted them literally and not spiritually...

St. Clement and Origen were later to interpret the divine anthropomorphisms as symbols of the deeds and powers of God .

Henri Crouzel says,

Mention must also be made of a problem which was important for the early Church, that of the anthropomorphic treatment of God in the Bible. Whatever we do we cannot speak of God without representing Him as a man, even when we use the most discarnate concepts of metaphysics and theodicy. The Bible often represents God with human parts, hands, feet, eyes, ears, mouth, etc. and it also tells of Him having human feelings, anger or repentance. Among the early Christians were some, the anthropomorphites, who took the anthropomorphisms literally, while others, millenarians or chiliasts, conceived the promised beatitude in carnal terms .

B.F. Westcott says,

The anthropomorphic language of Scripture he compares with our own mode of addressing children, suitably to their understanding, to secure their benefit, and not to exhibit our own capacity (Deut. 1:31); though still for the spiritual it has also a spiritual meaning contained in the simple words, if we know how to hearken to them.

Origen sees that these two sets of people misinterpreted the Scripture as they held the literal sense exclusively. For this reason he set his theory that there are three various meanings in Scriptures: the literal, the moral and spiritual meanings.

2. Origen states that the holy Scripture has its body, soul and spirit, the literal or historical meaning is its body, the moral is its soul, and the allegorical or spiritual meaning is its spirit.

At the same time the church has three groups: the simple, the more educated and the perfect ones. Every group finds what is suitable for it in the holy Scripture. The simple may be edified by the body, the more advanced by the soul, and the perfect by the spirit. Corresponding to these three parts are three methods of interpretation - the historical, the moral, and the spiritual.

Properly "the body" was for those who were before us, "the soul" for us, and "the spirit" for those "who shall receive the inheritance of eternal life, by which indeed they may reach the heavenly kingdom."

a- The simple people or the uneducated should be edified by the letter itself, which we call the obvious meaning, the straightforward historical sense, or the corporeal.

For Origen the rule is, simply put, that a passage may be understood literally when it is reasonable and not unworthy of God. Any passage may be understood spiritually.

b- People at the higher level should find edification for their souls by the moral meaning.

c- The perfect should be edified by the mystical or spiritual sense with relation to Christ, or the spiritual Law, as it contains the shadow of the blessings to come. Origen's real interest is the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture.

Many scholars clarify that Origen’s theory does not mean that he believes in three classes in the Church, but three stages; and every member is called to ascend from the first stage to the higher one.

Karen Jo Torjesen says,

This three-fold distinction in the doctrines of Scripture corresponds to three different groups or classes with whom the exegete or teacher is dealing: the beginners, the intermediate, and the advanced.

I am using the language of "three classes" of people somewhat inappropriately, for Origen is not thinking in terms of fixed classes. He is thinking rather of a continuum, an upward trajectory along which he can identify three stages of development. This is clear from the language he uses to describe these groups or stages. The haplousteros, the simple, identifies the beginning stage. Ho epi poson anabebekos denotes progress from the starting point. Teleios designates those in whom the process of development has reached its highest stage.

What distinguishes these three stages of development is the spiritual ability to understand and receive the teachings. The simple are souls who are edified, built up, formed, by simple teachings drawn from the literal and sensible parts of Scripture. The intermediate stage is variously described as either those who have advanced beyond this point or those who are not ready for the more exalted teachings (tous hypseloteron akouein me dynamenous). The last stage represents those who are able to receive and be formed by the "secret wisdom of God." (V.2.4). The three-foldness, then, represents stages in the progression of the soul. And the three-foldness of the teachings in Scripture likewise refers to an ordering of doctrines that corresponds to the progressive steps of the soul’s movement toward perfection.

3. The revelation is in the first place a Christ. He is, the Logos, the Word of God. He is God Himself speaking to men, God revealing Himself.

So also when the Word of God was brought to humans through the Prophets and the Lawgiver, it was brought without proper clothing. For just as there it was covered with the veil of flesh, so here with the veil of the letter, so that indeed the letter is seen as flesh but the spiritual sense hiding within is perceived as divinity.

Thus, the Lord Himself, the Holy Spirit Himself must be entreated by us to remove every cloud and all darkness which obscures the vision of our hearts hardened with the stains of sins in order that we may be able to behold the spiritual and wonderful knowledge of his Law, according to him who said, "Take the veil from my eyes and I shall observe the wonders of your Law."

Who could open the seals of the Book which was seen by John [of Patmos], the sealed Book which was written within and without, a Book which no one could read, and only the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who sprang from David? For Jesus opens the Book and no one can close it; He closes it, and no one can open it. And all of the Scriptures are indicated by this Book, which is "written without," because of its obvious meaning, and "written within," because of its concealed spiritual meaning.

4. The Scriptures must be interpreted spiritually because they are the work of the Spirit, who unites them in one book, and inspires both writer and reader. The Holy Spirit is the author of the holy Scripture, the human author is of little account. Now it would be unbecoming for the Spirit to dictate a useless word: every detail must have meaning and meaning worthy of the Holy Spirit, making known an infinite number of mysteries. Every term in a pleonasm must make its own point. The holy Scripture is not to be treated as one would a human book, but as the work of the Spirit. To find the meaning of the word or the symbolism of an object Origen searches the whole Scripture for the other cases in which the word is used or the object mentioned.

5. All language that we use, that even Christ could use, would be behind the veils, is necessarily mythical, figurative.

 

 

THE GOSPEL

We may call the Gospel "the first-fruits of the Scriptures," or "the elements of the Faith of the Church."

 

 

THE UNITY OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

B.F. Westcott says,

"There are many sacred writings, yet there is but one Book; there are four Evangelists, yet their histories form but one Gospel" they all conspire to one end, and move by one way.

THE HARMONY OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS

Origen believes that the dogmas are common to the Old and New Testaments; forming a kind of symphony, and that there is no iota of difference between them. Thus he paved the way for the classic doctrine which St. Augustine was to formulate in the epigram: "In the Old Testament the New is concealed, in the New the Old is revealed." Balthasar says that Origen frequently emphasizes that he who arbitrarily singles out words of Scripture or dissects them (like Marcion) does violence to the body of Christ and prolongs his passion.

St. Clement, the teacher of Origen, states that "the prophets were perfect in prophecy...but the apostles were fulfilled in all things." "There is no discord between the Law and the Gospel, but harmony, for they both proceed from the same Author." Origen states that the Scripture cannot be broken, for it points to the same Christ. He says, "The beginning of the Gospel is nothing but the whole Old Testament." "Christ, the Word of God, was in Moses and the Prophets, and by His Spirit they spoke and did all things." The Law is a shadow of the Gospel, and the latter in turn is a shadow of the kingdom to come.

Both Origen and Augustine, the two most influential interpreters of the Scriptures in the early Church, agree on a still more fundamental exegetical principle - namely that Christ is the deepest meaning of the Old and New Testaments. "Among the texts of the Law," Origen writes, "one can find a great number that are related to Christ in typological or enigmatic fashion."

In one of his Commentaries on the Canticle of Canticles, Origen explains this relation between the Law and the Gospel by saying:

When Christ came, He first stayed a while on the other side of the wall. The wall was the Old Testament, and He stayed behind it until He revealed Himself to the people. But the time came at last and He began to show Himself at the windows. The windows were the Law and Prophets, the predictions that had been made about Him, and He began to be visible through them. He began to show Himself to the Church, who was sitting indoors, i.e., she was engrossed in the letter of the Law. He asked Her to come out and join Him. For unless she went out, unless she left the letter to the Spirit, she would never be able to join Christ, would never become one with her Bridegroom. That was why He had called to her and asked her to leave the things she could see for the things she could not see. That was why He wanted her to leave the Law for the Gospel.

Just as the Law was but a preparation for the Gospel, so also the latter is itself the symbol of the eternal Gospel. The Old Testament is a figure of the New and through it and like it a figure of the eternal Gospel of the beatitude..

Just as the Law contained the shadow of the good things to come, which were to be manifested by the Law preached in truth, so the Gospel, which the common people think they understand, teaches the shadow of the mysteries of Christ. But the eternal Gospel, of which John speaks, and which may properly be called the Spiritual Gospel, presents clearly to those who understand, all that concerns the Son of God, and the mysteries revealed in his discourses, and the realities of which his actions were the symbols.... Peter and Paul, who at first were manifestly Jews and circumcised, subsequently received from Jesus the grace to be such in secret; they were Jews ostensibly for the salvation of the majority, and they confessed this not only by their words but also they manifested it by their actions. The same must be said of their Christianity. And just as Paul could not succor the Jews according to the flesh without circumcising Timothy when reason required this, and also shaved his head and made offerings when there was good reason for doing so, thus becoming a Jew in order to save the Jews, so also he who devotes himself to the salvation of the many cannot hope to give efficacious succor by the hidden or secret Christianity to those who are still bound up with the elements of obvious or ordinary Christianity, or make them better, or enable them to reach that which is more perfect and higher. Hence Christianity must be both spiritual and corporeal; and when we should set forth the corporeal Gospel and say that we know nothing amongst the carnal save Jesus Christ and him crucified, we must do so. But when we find people perfected by the Spirit and bearing the fruits thereof, and in love with heavenly wisdom, we ought to communicate to them the discourse which rises from the Incarnation to that which is with God.

That which has been written concerning the events in the history of Jesus must not be thought to have no other truth than that of the letter and the historic fact, for those who study the Scriptures with more understanding show that each of these facts is itself a symbol.

The example which Origen gives of St. Paul's assertion that the Law is not about muzzling the oxen as they thresh corn applies equally to the right of Christian ministers to receive support from those to whom they preach-it would appear that the "moral" interpretation means the extraction from some particular instance of moral principle. The simple are quite capable of understanding such meanings when they have them pointed out. Accordingly, "most of the interpretations in circulations, which are adapted to the multitude and edify those who cannot understand the higher meanings, possess something of this character". In practice little is heard of this "moral" sense of Scripture in Origen's works for the obvious answer that he is usually engaged in the attempt to lead his hearers into deeper levels of thought.

The house where the Church lived was the part of Scripture comprised in the Law and the Prophets. The King’s chamber was there, a room filled with the riches of wisdom and knowledge. There was a cellar, too, where the wine was stored that rejoices men’s hearts, the wine, that is, of mystical and moral instruction."

We who belong to the Church accept Moses, and with good reason. We read his works because we think that he was a prophet and that God revealed himself to him. We believe that he described the mysteries to come, but with symbols and in figures and allegories, whereas before we ourselves began to teach men about the mysteries, they had already taken place, at the time appointed for them . It does not matter whether you are a Jew or one of us; you cannot maintain that Moses was a prophet at all unless you take him in this sense. How can you prove that he was a prophet if you say that his works are quite ordinary, that they imply no knowledge of the future and have no mystery hidden in them? The Law, then, and everything in the Law, being inspired, as the Apostle says, until the time of amendment, is like those people whose job it is to make statues and cast them in metal. Before they tackle the statue itself, the one they are going to cast in bronze, silver or gold, they first make a clay model to show what they are aiming at. The model is a necessity, but only until the real statue appears, and when the statue is ready the sculptor has no further use for the model. Well, it is rather like that with the Law and the Prophets. The things written in the Law and the Prophets were meant as types or figures of things to come. But now the Artist himself has come, the Author of it all, and he has cast the Law aside, because it contained only the shadow of the good things to come (Hebr. x. I ), whereas he brought the things themselves.

Lamps are useful as long as people are in the dark; they cease to be a help when the sun rises. The glory on the face of Moses is of use to us, and so it seems to me, and helps us to see how glorious Christ is. We needed to see their glory before we could see His. But their glory paled before the greater glory of Christ. In the same way, there has to be partial knowledge first, and later, when perfect knowledge is acquired, it will be discarded. In spiritual affairs, everyone who has reached the age of childhood and set out on the road to perfection needs a tutor and guardians and trustees until the appointed time comes (cf. Gal. 4.). Although at this stage he has no more liberty than one of his servants, he will eventually obtain possession of the whole estate. He will cease to be under the care of the tutor, the guardians and the trustees and will be able to enjoy his father’s property that is like the pearl of great price (Matt. 13:, 46), like the perfection of knowledge. When a man obtains perfect knowledge - knowledge of Christ - he sweeps away his partial knowledge, because by frequenting these lesser forms of gnosis, which are, so to say, surpassed by the gnosis of Christ, he has become capable of receiving Christ’s teaching, a thing so much more excellent than his former knowledge. But the majority of people do not see the beauty of the many pearls in the Law and the gnosis (partial though it is ) of the prophetical books. They imagine that although they have not thoroughly plumbed and fathomed the depths of these works, they will yet be able to find the one pearl of great cost and contemplate the supremely excellent gnosis, which is the knowledge of Christ. Yet this form of gnosis is so superior to the others that in comparison with it they seem like stercora, though they are not stercora by nature. .... Thus all things have their appointed time. There is a time for gathering fine pearls and, when those pearls are gathered, a time for seeking the one pearl of great cost, a time when it will be wise to sally forth and sell everything to buy that pearl.

And anyone who wants to become learned in the words of truth must first be taught the rudiments and gradually master them; he must hold them, too, in high esteem. He will not, of course, remain all the time at this elementary level; he will be like a man who thought highly of the rudiments at first and , now that he has advanced beyond them to perfection, is still grateful to them for their introductory work and their former services. In the same way, when the things that are written in the Law and the prophets are fully understood, they become the rudiments on which perfect understanding of the Gospels and all spiritual knowledge of Christ’s words and deeds are based.

Those who observed the Law which foreshadowed the true Law possessed a shadow of divine things, a likeness of the things of God. In the same way, those who shared out the land that Judah inherited were imitating and foreshadowing the distribution that will ultimately be made in heaven. Thus the reality was in heaven, the shadow and image of the reality on earth. As long as the shadow was on earth, there was an earthly Jerusalem, a temple, an altar, a visible liturgy, priests and high priests, towns and villages too in Judah, and everything else that you find described in the book. But at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, when truth descended from heaven and was born on earth, and justice looked down from heaven (Ps. 84:12), shadows and images saw their last. Jerusalem was destroyed and so was the temple; the altar disappeared . Henceforth neither Mount Garizim nor Jerusalem was the place where God was to be worshipped : his true worshippers were to worship him in spirit and in truth (John IV. 23). Thus, in the presence of the truth, the type and the shadow came to an end, and when a temple was built in the Virgin’s womb by the Holy Ghost and the power of the Most High (Luke I. 35), the stone- built temple was destroyed. If, then, Jews go to Jerusalem and find the earthly city in ruins, they ought not to weep as they do because they are mere children where understanding is concerned. They ought not to lament. Instead of the earthly city, they should seek the heavenly one. They have only to look up and they will find the Heavenly Jerusalem, which is the mother of us all (Gal. 4:26) . Thus by God’s goodness their earthly inheritance has been taken from them to make them seek their inheritance in heaven."

You see that everywhere the mysteries are in agreement. You see the patterns of the New and Old Testament to be harmonious. There one comes to the wells and the waters where brides may be found; and the Church is united to Christ in the bath of water.

Robert Payne says,

He (Origen) regarded the whole of the Old Testament as a continual prophecy of Christ, a foreshadowing of the New Testament. It was as though the Old Testament was a strangely fashioned glass, and by peering through it the New Testament acquired increased depth and meaning. All history vanishes; time stands still; there is only Christ, that short space of thirty years which seems to leap out of history altogether. Adam is Christ prefigured; the words of the Psalms are spoken by Christ through the mouth of David; and Solomon utters prophecies. Moses and the Prophets become aspects of Christ, for did not Christ say that Moses spoke of Him, and did not the Prophets prophecy His coming and His going? The Cross of Christ is dipped in the waters of Marah; the long journey from Egypt of the tribes of the Israelites prefigures the long journeys of Christ, or of the human soul in its search for Christ. Allegory, hypothesis, prophecy, symbolism - all have their place in Origen's interpretation. He sees the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments in so many dimensions that the mind is bewildered; and always high above the complex and strenuous drama which Origen unfolds, there is the higher drama: for all the events of earth are mirrored in Heaven, and Origen strains to interpret heavenly events in human words. So he says that Christ's blood was not only shed on earth at Jerusalem "for sin" (pro peccato), but also for a gift on the high altar which is in Heaven (pro munere in superno altari quod est in coelis). His vision of the heavenly economy is breath-taking. And then the Word touched them, and as they lifted their eyes they saw Jesus standing alone, and there was no one else. And Moses (the Law) and Elijah (Prophecy) were become one with Jesus (Gospel). And everything had changed: they were not three, but one single Being standing alone.

Henri Crouzel says,

The Gospel itself expresses mysteries under its literal meaning. The temporal Gospel is still a shadow, but this shadow is that of Christ, his humanity, 'under which we live among the nations’ (Lam. 4:20), guided and protected by his human soul, image and shadow of the Word. The virtues, titles (epinoiai) of the Son we receive through this shadow which is his soul. The temporal Gospel brings us a personal knowledge of Christ, but it remains indirect: his divinity is perceived so far that we can see it through the humanity that holds it but also hides it from those who are incapable of seeing it..

Adoration is either in the figures (Old Testament) or in spirit and in truth, but the latter is also in two ways: 'through a glass, darkly', relying on the earnest of the Spirit, at the present time (Temporal Gospel) or 'face to face', according to the Spirit at a future time (eternal Gospel).42 In the Old Testament the friends of the Bridegroom only bring to the Bride imitations of gold: it is only those who have been conformed to the Resurrection of Christ who will receive pure gold (Comm. on Cant. 2.); but this 'being conformed' can take place in two ways, 'through a glass, darkly' by the first 'resurrection' obtained by baptism and a life in conformity with it, 'face to face' by the second and final resurrection. Unlike the 'shadow of the law', the 'shadow of Christ', his humanity, brings Life, puts us on the Way, guides us to the Truth, already confers the realities which are Christ and protects from the evil sun, the devil (Comm. on Cant. 3).: so we have a possession of the mysteries, here below, where we are still exposed to the attacks of the Evil one. At the Passion of Christ the first curtain of the Temple, that of the Holy Place, was torn down, and the mysteries were revealed, but not perfectly: for the second curtain, that of the Holy of Holies, will only be taken away at the end of the world..

Why is it that Isaac "sowed barley" (Gen. 26:21-22) and not wheat, and is blessed because he sows "barley," and is magnified "until he becomes great"? It appears, therefore, that he was not yet great, but after "he sowed barley" and gathered "a hundredfold," then "he became very great."

Barley is the food especially of beasts or of peasants. For it is a harsher species and would seem to prick one who touches it as if with some kind of points. Isaac is the word of God. This word sows barley in the Law, but wheat in the Gospels. He provides the one food for the perfect and spiritual, the other for the inexperienced and natural, because it is written: "Men and beasts you will preserve, O Lord" (Ps. 35:7) .

This Isaac, therefore, our Savior, when he has come into that valley of Gerara (Gen. 26), first of all wishes to dig those wells which the servants of his father had dug; he wishes to renew the wells of the Law, of course, and the prophets, which Philistines had filled with earth.

Who are those who fill the wells with earth? Those, doubtless, who put an earthly and fleshly interpretation of the Law and close up the spiritual and mystical interpretation on the Law... so that neither do they themselves drink nor do they permit others to drink.

So, therefore, the wells which Abraham dug, that is the Scriptures of the Old Testament, have been filled with earth by the Philistines, or evil teachers, Scribes and Pharisees, or even hostile powers; and their veins have been stopped up lest they provide a drink for those who are of Abraham. For that people cannot drink from the Scriptures, but suffer a "thirst for the word of God," (Cf. Amos 8:11) until Isaac should come and open them that his servants may drink. Thanks, therefore, to Christ, the son of Abraham-of whom it is written: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matt. 1:1) -who has come and opened the wells for us. For he opened them for those men who said: "Was not our heart burning in us when he opened to us the Scriptures?" (Luke 24.32) He opened, therefore, these wells and "called them," the text says, "as his father Abraham had called them. (Gen. 26.18) For he did not change the names of the wells.

JESUS CHRIST AND THE SCRIPTURES

We may believe that "the divinity of the prophetic revelations, and the spiritual meaning of the law, shone forth by the dwelling of Jesus on earth," and that there were no clear proofs of the inspiration of the writings of the old Covenant before that time; yet the Christian - who has recognized in his own Faith the fulfillment of Prophecy, and received the substance which the Law shadowed - will prize equally all "the words of God."

The teachings of Jesus, his religion, and the divine writings of the Old and New Testaments have had such widespread effect, in comparison with the teachings of the philosophers, because they are teachings of God himself who has come in the flesh to bring the saving doctrines to men.

Origen shows that this wonderful effectiveness of the teachings of Christ was prophesied in both the Old and New Testament Scriptures. This conversion of great numbers of people to Christianity is prophetically described in Scripture through its references to the election of the heathen.

 

 

SWEETNESS OF THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF THE LAW

I think that the Law, if it be undertaken according to the letter, is sufficiently bitter and is itself Mara. For what is so bitter as for a child to receive the wound of circumcision on the eighth day and tender infancy suffer the hardiness of the iron? A cup of this kind of Law is extremely bitter, so bitter in fact that the people of God-not that people who were baptized "in Moses in the sea and in the cloud,"(1 Cor 10.2.) but that people who were baptized "in spirit" and "in water"(Cf. Matt. 3.11; John 3.5.)-cannot drink from that water. But indeed they cannot taste the bitterness of circumcision nor are they able to endure the bitterness of victims or the observance of the Sabbath. But if "God shows a tree" which is thrown into this bitterness so that the "water" of the Law becomes "sweet," they can drink from it. Solomon teaches us what that "tree" is which "the Lord showed," when he says that wisdom "is a tree of life for all who embrace it."(Prov. 3.18.) If, therefore, the tree of the wisdom of Christ has been thrown into the Law and has shown us how circumcision ought to be understood, how the Sabbath and the law of leprosy are to be observed, what sort of distinction should be held between clean and unclean, then the water of Mara is made sweet and the bitterness of the letter of the Law is changed into the sweetness of spiritual understanding and then the people of God can drink.

 

PREPARATION FOR HEARING THE WORD OF GOD

One needed infinite patience, infinite agility, in order to understand the book clearly; and having completely understood it, a man would be like God, for all the secrets would be unfolded to him.

Origen assures that the word of God appears to different people in different ways determined by their spiritual capacity and preparation to receive it.

Do not marvel that the word of God is said to be "flesh" and "bread" and "milk" and vegetable, and is named in different ways for the capacity of those believing or the ability of those appropriating it.

Origen warns us from the speedy readings of the Scriptures, which prevents us from the provisions that we must prepare for ourselves so that we may follow the true Joshua (Jos. 1:10-11). He asks us to do our best so that God may grant us the grace of the understanding of the Scriptures.

Many asked to interpret the divine Scriptures but not all succeeded in this. For it is rare to find the person who has this grace given to him from God.

We ask God to grant us, that as the word increases in us, so we may receive the abundance of the broadmindedness in Jesus Christ. Thus we become able to hear the sacred words.

If you devote your life to study and contemplation of the law of God, by the spirit of wisdom, you will receive a heart (Caleb = heart) who meditates in the law of God, has the power to destroy the great and fortified cities, i.e., destroy the words of the inventors of lies, and thus you become worthy of the blessing of Joshua and receive Habron (Jos. 14:6-15) .

"Descend, testify to the people and purify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and let them be prepared for the third day" (Exod. 19:10-11).

If there is anyone who has assembled to hear the word of God, let him hear what God has ordered. After he has been sanctified he ought to come to hear the word; he ought to wash his garments. For if you bring dirty garments to this place you too will hear: "Friend, how did you enter here, not having wedding garments?" (Matt. 22:12)

No one, therefore, can hear the word of God unless he has first been sanctified, that is, unless he is "holy in body and spirit," (Cf. 1 Cor 7:34), unless he has washed his garments. For a little later he shall go in to the wedding dinner, he shall eat from the flesh of the lamb, he shall drink the cup of salvation. Let no one go in to this dinner with dirty garments.

Wisdom also has commanded this elsewhere saying: "Let your garments be clean at all times" (Eccl. 9:8). For your garments were washed once when you came to the grace of baptism; you were purified in body; you were cleansed from all filth of flesh and spirit. "What," then, "God has cleansed, you shall not make unclean" (Acts 10:15, 11:9).

If, therefore, we also pray to the Lord that he see fit to remove the veil from our heart, we can receive spiritual understanding if only we turn to the Lord and seek after freedom of knowledge. But how can we attain freedom, we who serve the world, who serve money, who serve the desires of the flesh? I correct myself; I judge myself; I make known my faults.

According to Origen, we are in need of Rebecca, whose name means "patience," for she grants us to drink from the well of the holy Scriptures.

Rebecca, which means "patience," when she saw the servant and contemplated the prophetic word "puts the pitcher down" from her shoulder (Gen. 24:18). For she puts down the exalted arrogance of Greek eloquence and, stooping down to the lowly and simple prophetic word, says, "Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink" (Gen. 24:14)...

A soul who does all things patiently, who is eager and is undergirded with so much learning, who has been accustomed to draw streams of knowledge from the depth, can herself be united in marriage with Christ.

Unless, therefore, you come daily to the wells, unless you daily draw water, not only you will not be able to give a drink to others, but you yourself also will suffer a thirst for the word of God (Amos 8:11).

But let us also beware, for frequently we also lie around the well "of living water," that is around the divine Scriptures and err in them. We hold the books and we read them, but we do not touch upon the spiritual sense. And, therefore, there is need for tears and incessant prayer that the Lord may open our eyes, because even the eyes of those blind men who were sitting in Jericho would not have been opened unless they had cried out to the lord. (Cf. Matt. 20:30) And what am I saying? That our eyes, which are already opened, might be opened? For Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind (Cf. Isa. 42:7) Our eyes, therefore are opened and the veil of the letter of the Law is removed. But I fear that we ourselves may close them again in a deeper sleep while we are not watchful in the spiritual meaning nor are we disturbed so that we dispel sleep from our eyes and contemplate things which are spiritual, that we might not err with the carnal people set around the water itself.

Karen Jo Torjesen says,

We must read them, he tells us, "with attention, yea, with great attention, for it is needed in reading the divine writings, that we may not speak or form notions about them rashly."

We must read them with reverence: "for if we use great care in handling the Sacred Elements, and rightly so, is it a lesser offense (piaculum) to disregard the Word of God than His Body? "

We must read them with pure hearts: for "no one can listen to the Word of God.... unless he be holy in body and spirit;..... no one can enter into this feast with soiled garments." Yet "the language of the Bible is not enough to reach the soul of man, unless power be given from God to the reader, and shed its influence over the lesson; for, if there are oracles of God in the Law and the Prophets, in the Gospels and Apostles, he who is a student of God’s oracles must place himself under the teaching of God"; such a one must "seek their meaning by inquiry, discussion, examination, and, which is greatest, by prayer; "he must not be content to ‘knock’ and to ‘seek,’ for prayer is the most necessary qualification for the understanding of divine things, ... and the Savior urged us to this when he said, not only ‘knock. and it shall be opened,’ seek, and you shall find,’ but also, ‘ask, and it shall be given you.;" If, then, we read the bible with patience, prayer, and faith; if we ever strive after a more perfect knowledge, and yet remain content in some things to know only in part, even as Prophets and Apostles, Saints and Angels, attaining not to an understanding of all things,-our patience will be rewarded, our prayer answered, and our faith increased. So "let us not weary in reading the Scriptures which we do not understand, but let it be unto us according to our faith, by which believe that Scripture, being inspired by God, is profitable."

 

 

 

THE WORD OF GOD AND UNFAITHFULNESS

Origen believes that as those who ate the heavenly manna in faith attained its sweetness, while those who did not eat it but hid it "worm comes from it in abundance" (Cf. Exod. 16:20), so those who receive the word of God unfaithfully and do not eat it, its sweetness will be changed into worm for them. Christ, the Word of God, came for the fall of some and the rise of others (Luke 2:34).

 

 

THE WORD OF GOD IS WITHIN US

For the Scripture says, "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart; for if you confess the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Rom 10:8-9.) If, therefore, "you believe in your heart," your heart and your understanding is gold, therefore, you have offered the faith of your heart as gold for the tabernacle. But if you also "confess" in word, you have offered the word of confession as silver. For that reason Moses, who is the spiritual Law, says, "Take from yourselves." You take these things from yourself. They are within you. Even if you should be destitute you can have these things. But what he adds also bears on this point: "Each one as he has understood in his heart," For you cannot offer God anything from your understanding or from your word unless first you have understood in your heart what has been written. Unless you have been attentive and have listened diligently your gold or silver cannot be excellent, for it is demanded that it be "purged." Hear the Scripture saying, "The words of the Lord are pure words, as silver purged by the fire, refined seven times" (Ps. 11:7). If, therefore, you have understood in your heart what has been written, your gold, that is your understanding, will be excellent, and your silver, which is your word, will be excellent.

 

HEARING AND FULFILLING THE WORD OF GOD

Because the text spoke of "first-fruits" (Exod. 35:5), I ask, "What are the first-fruits of gold or silver?

And now do first-fruits appear to be gathered from scarlet and purple and linen?

Or how does anyone offer `as he has understood in his heart'"?

This now strikes each of us.

Let us see at the same time both how we who are now present here have understood in heart and how the word of God is handled. There are some who understand in heart what is read; there are others who do not at all understand what is said, but their mind and heart are on business dealings or on acts of the world or on counting their profit. And especially, how do you think women understand in heart, who chatter so much, who disturb with their stories so much that they do not allow any silence? Now what shall I say about their mind, what shall I say about their heart, if they are thinking about their infants or wool or the needs of their household? I truly fear that they follow those women of whom the Apostle says, "Who learn to go about from house to house not only tattlers but also busybodies, saying things which they ought not" (1 Tim. 5:13). How, then do such women understand in heart? No one understands in heart unless his heart is untrammeled, unless he be open-minded and totally intent. Unless one be watchful in heart he cannot understand in heart and offer gifts to God. But even if we have been neglectful thus far let us immediately, starting now, be more attentive and give attention carefully, that we can understand in mind.

Next the text says, "And all the men to whom it seemed good in their understanding received from their wives and brought jewels and earrings and rings and hairpins and bracelets" (Exod. 35:22). You see here also how those offer gifts to God who see in their heart, who conceive understanding in their heart, who have their mind intent and given to the word of God.

Those, therefore, bring gifts and they bring them also from their wives, the text says, "earrings and jewels and bracelets." We have already often said that woman, according to the allegorical sense is interpreted as flesh and man as the rational understanding. Those, therefore, are good wives who obey their husbands; the flesh is good which no longer resists the spirit, but submits and agrees.

Therefore, "if two or three of you agree, whatever you shall ask shall be done to you" the Lord said. (Cf. Matt. 18:19). They offer, therefore, "earrings from their wives." You see how the hearing is offered to the Lord.

But bracelets also are offered to the Lord which refer to skillful and good works which are performed through the flesh. The rational understanding offers these things to the Lord.

But hairpins are also offered. He offers hairpins who knows well how to discern what is to be done, what to be avoided, what is pleasing to God or what displeasing, what is just, what is unjust. Those are the hairpins which are offered to the Lord. Here, therefore, the women offer earrings to the Lord because they are wise women. For the text says wise women came and made whatever things were necessary for the garments of the high priest. But those women who offered their earrings to make a calf were foolish, who "turned away their hearing from the truth and turned to fables and impiety" (2 Tim. 4:4), and, therefore, offered their earrings to make the head of a calf.

But also in the book of Judges we find another idol no less made from the earrings of women. Those women, therefore, are blessed, that flesh is blessed, which offers to the Lord its earrings and its hairpins and its rings and all the works of its hands which it performs in the keeping with commandments of the Lord.

But the text also says, "the princes offered" (Cf. Exod. 35:27) their gifts. What are those gifts which the princes offer?

"They offered jewels," it says, "emeralds, stones of fulfillment, and stones for the cape" (Cf. Exod. 35:27). They are called stones of fulfillment which are placed on the logion, that is, which are arranged on the breast of the high-priest, inscribed with the names of the tribes of Israel. This which is said to be the logion, that is, the oracular breastplate, (rationale) which is arranged on the breast of the high-priest represents the rational understanding which is in us. The "stones of fulfillment" are said to be placed on this, which nevertheless cohere and are joined together with the stones of the cape and, bound together, are supported from these. The adorned cape is an indication of good deeds. Action, therefore, is associated with reason and reason with actions, that there might be harmony in both, "for he who shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:19). Let our speech, therefore, rest upon actions and let actions adorn our speech, for this is related as the adornment of the high priest. But the princes are required to execute these things; that is the adornment of those who have advanced so far that they deserve to preside over the people.

The princes also offer oil which will be beneficial for twofold uses: for lamps and for anointing. For the lamp of those who preside over the people ought not to be hidden or "placed under a bushel, but on a candlestick that it may shine to all who are in the house" (Cf. Matt. 5:15).

But the princes also offer "a mixture of incense" which is mixed by Moses "for a savor of sweetness to the Lord," (Exod. 35:28, 29:41) that they themselves also might say, "We are the good odor of Christ" (2 Cor. 2:15).

And after the people made their offering the text says, "Moses called every wise man" (Exod. 36:2) in construction and building that they might put together and construct the individual things which were described. "But," the text says, "he also called the wise women," (Cf. Exod. 35:25) that they might make the things which were proper in the tabernacle of the Lord.

Rebecca’s ears, therefore, could not receive their beauty, unless Abraham’s servant come and himself adorn them; nor could her hands receive jewelry except that which Isaac sent. For she wishes to receive golden words in her ears and to have golden deeds in her hands. But she had come to the wells to draw water. How will you receive, who do not wish to come to the waters, who do not wish to receive the golden words in your ears and to have golden deeds in your hands. But she could not previously receive or deserve these things unless she had come to the wells to draw water. How will you, who do not wish to come to the waters, who do not wish to receive the golden words of the prophets in your ears, be able to be adorned with instruction, adorned with deeds, adorned with character?

 

THE FIRE OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURE

Origen states that the fire of the holy Scripture has a twofold effect, as it burns and enlightens. When our Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples from the Scriptures their hearts were burned and their minds were enlightened (Luke 24:32).

If you are a teacher you are erecting a tabernacle when you edify the Church of God. God, therefore, says to you also what he said to Jeremiah: "Behold I have made my words in your mouth as fire" (Jer. 5:14). If, therefore, when you teach and edify the Church of God, you rebuke only and reprove and censure and upbraid the sins of the people, but you offer no consolation from the divine Scriptures, you explain nothing obscure, you teach nothing of more profound knowledge, you do not open any more sacred understanding, you have offered scarlet, indeed, but not twofold. For your fire burns only and does not enlighten. And again, if, when you teach, you open the mysteries of the Law, you discuss hidden secrets, but you do not reprove the sinner nor correct the negligent nor hold severity of discipline, you have offered scarlet, to be sure, but not twofold. For your fire enlightens only; it does not burn. He, therefore, who "offers rightly" and "divides rightly" (Cf. Gen. 4:7 LXX), offers scarlet doubled, so that he mixes the small flame of severity with the light of knowledge.

 

 

THE WORD OF GOD AND UNION WITH GOD

But it is certain that this union of the soul with the Word cannot come about otherwise than through instruction in the divine books, which are figuratively called wells. If anyone should come to these and draw from these waters, that is by meditating on these words should perceive the deeper sense and meaning, he will find a marriage worthy of God; for his soul is united with God.

THE WORD OF GOD AND JOYFUL LIFE

Let us also pray, therefore, to undertake to hear the word of God with such a mind, with such a faith that he may see fit to make us "a great feast." For "Wisdom has slain her victims, mixed her wine in the mixing bowl, and sent her servants" (Prov. 9:1-3) who all bring as many as they find to her feast.

It is so great a feast, that having entered wisdom’s feast let us not again bring with us garments of foolishness, neither wrapped with the clothing of infidelity nor darkened with the stains of sin, but in simplicity and purity of heart let us embrace the word and serve the divine Wisdom which is Christ Jesus our Lord, "to whom be glory and sovereignty forever and ever. Amen." (Cf. 1 Peter 4:11; Rev. 1:6.)

 

ALLEGORISM AFTER ORIGEN

J.N.D. Kelly says that the Alexandrian theologians who followed Origen, from Dionysius to Cyril, were all to a greater or lesser extent affected with their predilection for allegory; and the same can be said of the Palestinian (Epiphanius was a notable exception) and Cappadocian fathers. Through their influence the tradition of allegory passed to the West, and is visible in the expository writings, for example, of Hilary and Ambrose. The greatest of Latin exegetes is Jerome, though in his later days he became suspicious of allegorism.

Indeed, Origen stressed the three senses of Scripture, deeming that recourse to the spiritual meaning was made necessary by the anthropomorphisms, inconsistencies and incongruities which abound in the Bible. St. Augustine too employed allegory with the greatest freedom, delighting particularly in the mystical significance of names and numbers.