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KAREN JO TORJESEN

HERMENEUTICAL PROCEDURE AND


THEOLOGICAL METHOD IN ORIGEN'S EXEGESIS

W
DE
G

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PATRISTISCHE TEXTE UND STUDIEN

IM AUFTRAG DER
PATRISTISCHEN KOMMISSION
DER AKADEMIEN DER WISSENSCHAFTEN
IN DER BUNDESREPUBLIK DEUTSCHLAND

HERAUSGEGEBEN VON

K. ALAND UND W. SCHNEEMELCHER

BAND 28

WALTER DE GRUYTER BERLIN NEW YORK


1986

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HERMENEUTICAL PROCEDURE
AND THEOLOGICAL METHOD
IN ORIGEN'S EXEGESIS

BY

KAREN JO TORJESEN

WALTER DE GRUYTER BERLIN NEW YORK


1986

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Printed on acid-free paper
(ageing-resistant - pH 7, neutral)

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publkation Data

Torjesen, Karen Jo, 1945-


Hermeneutical procedure and theological structure in Origen's exegesis.
(Patristische Texte und Studien ; Bd. 28)
Bibliography: p.
Includes indexes.
1. Origen Contributions in biblical interpretation.
2. Bible Criticism, interpretation, etc. History Early church,
ca. 30-600. I. Title. . Series.
BS500.T671985 230 3 924 85-27376
ISBN 0-89925-133-1 (U.S.)

CIP-KuTZtitelaujhahme der Deutschen Bibliothek

Torjesen, Karen Jo:


Hermeneutical procedure and theological mediod in Origen's exegesis /
by Karen Jo Torjesen. -
Berlin ; New York : de Gruyter, 1985
(Patristische Texte und Studien ; Bd. 28)
ISBN 3-11-0102021-0

NE.-GT

ISSN 0553-4003

1985 by Walter de Gruyter & Co., Berlin 30


Printed in Germany
Alle Rechte, insbesondere das der bersetzung in fremde Sprachen, vorbehalten.
Ohne ausdrckliche Genehmigung des Verlages ist es auch nicht gestattet, dieses Buch oder Teile
daraus auf photomechanischem Wege (Photokopie, Mikrokopie) zu vervielfltigen.
Satz: Drlemann-Satz, Lemfrde Druck: Hildebrand, Berlin Einband: Mikolai, Berlin

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To my father

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PREFACE

Current interest in the allegorical exegesis of the early church has been largely
stimulated by modern attempts to both understand and define exegesis itself. The
present work is no exception. Examining how the nature and task of exegesis
have been defined in a historical period outside our own offers a unique and
perhaps important vantage point from which to view and question our own
contemporary understanding. It is this achievement of another perspective which
gives special value to a historical study that bears on a contemporary issue.
There are two distinct elements in the historical investigation of allegorical
interpretation. One is a question of the method employed in allegorical exegesis;
the other is a question of the theological basis for allegorical exegesis. All too often
concern with analysis of the method through comparison with the criteria of
modern critical method has led to an eclipse of interest in the theological structure
on which allegorical interpretation is based. Instead of seeking possible correlation
with modern methods of exegesis, allegorical method ought rather to be studied
by examining interrelations between the method and the whole complex of
theological understanding within which it is set. In particular Origen's method of
interpretation is theologically determined by a specific understanding of the form
in which Christ is present in Scripture, the role of Scripture itself in the process of
redemption, and how the individual is related to the biblical text.
Such a study of Origen's exegesis in relation to its own underlying theological
structure can be fruitful for the modern discussion of exegesis by illuminating
from a quite different perspective the theological questions which any method of
exegesis must answer. It is not the method of Origen's allegory which is useful
today - its authority and value presuppose the Hellenistic thought world - but
rather the network of theological assumptions upon which it rests. The set of
questions which those assumptions define provides a unique perspective from
which to view our own methods of exegesis.
I was especially fortunate during the course of this study to participate in the
intellectual life of both the American and the German University. I would like to
thank my American advisors, Dr. Jane Douglass, Dr. Ronald Osborn and Dr.
Burton Mack for valuable critique and fruitful suggestions. To my mentor, Prof.
Ekkehard Mhlenberg, I owe a special debt of thanks for his insightful direction
of my research and his friendly support. A timely completion of this project
would not have been possible without the assistance of Hannelore Arnold who
typed the manuscript and of Jrg Salzmann who checked references and compiled
indices. Lastly I would like to thank the University of Gttingen for the time
made available to me for research alongside my teaching activities as
Wissenschaftliche Assistentin.
Los Angeles
July 1985 Karen J. Torjesen

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface VE
Introduction 1
Definition of the Problem 1
History of the Criticism of Origen 1
The Contemporary Approach to Origen 3
A Strategy for the Study of Origen's Exegetical Practice 12
The Textual Basis 14
Transmission of the Texts 14
Selection of Texts 19
I. Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis 22
Origen's Practice of Exegesis 23
Prologue: Relation of the Psalm to the Hearer 23
Interpretation of the Individual Verse: The Exegetical
Procedure 26
Excursus: The Journey of the Soul in the Psalms 29
Interpretation of the Chapter as a Whole: The Unifying Principle of
Exegesis 32
Origen's Theory of Exegesis 35
Origen's Doctrine of Scripture: De Principiis IV Cap. 1-2 35
The Effectiveness of Scripture 36
The Threefold Usefulness of Scripture 39
The Theological Foundation: Presence of the Logos in Scripture . 43
. Procedure of Origen's Exegesis 49
Jeremiah 50
Numbers 52
Song of Songs 54
The Commentary 54
The Homilies 57
Similarities in Exegetical Procedure 59
Gospel 62
The Homilies on Luke , 63
The Commentary on Matthew 64
The New Testament in Origen's Exegesis 66

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X Table of Contents

. The Organizing Principle in Origens's Exegesis


Origan's Concept of the Journey of the Soul 70
The Problem of Definition 70
Representative Formulations in Origen 71
The Trinitarian Schema in De Principiis 71
The Order of the Solomonic Books 72
The Exegetical Sequence in Numbers 73
Stages in the Progress of the Soul 77
Purification from Sin 77
Knowledge of the Logos 82
The Final Stage of Perfection 84
Summary: The Journey of the Soul as the Means of
Redemption 85
The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 85
Song of Songs: Homilies 87
Song of Songs: Commentary 93
Numbers 96
Jeremiah 100
Gospel 105
IV. Theological Foundations of Origen's
Exegetical Procedure 108
Doctrine of Scripture: Presence of the Logos in Scripture 108
The Image of the Logos in Scripture 109
Analogy of Creation 109
The Spiritual Sense is the Logos Image 110
The Spiritual Sense is Universal Teaching of Christ 110
The Origin and Intent of the Spiritual Sense Ill
Historical Limit of the Spiritual Sense 112
The Mediating Activity of the Logos in Scripture 113
The Analogy of the Incarnation 113
Three Forms of the Mediating Activity of the Logos 113
The Universal Pedagogy of the Logos in the Incarnation . . . 114
The Historical Pedagogy of the Logos to the Saints 116
The Contemporary Pedagogy of the Logos through
Scripture 117
Scripture as Logos-Pedagogy for the Individual 118
Doctrine as the Contemporary Form of Divine Pedagogy 119
Doctrine in the Progress of the Soul 121
Theology of Exegesis: Presence of the Logos in Origen's Exegetical
Procedure 124

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Table of Contents XI

The Text in Relation to the Hearer 124


The "Usefulness" of the Text Determines its Subject Matter . . . 124
The Subject Matter of a Text Forms its Exegetical Genre 125
The Hearer in Relation to the Text 130
Placement of the Hearer in the Text 131
Progression of the Hearer within the Text 133
Presence of the Logos to the Hearer 135
The Theological Structure of Origen's Method of Exegesis 138
The Referent of the Literal and Historical Senses is the Historical
Pedagogy of the Logos 139
The Contemporary Pedagogy of the Logos in the Spiritual
Sense 141
Transposition from Literal to Spiritual 141
Spiritual-Contemporary Sense 143
Transition from die Spiritual to the Contemporary Sense 146
Appendices 148
Bibliography 175
Indices . . 181

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INTRODUCTION

Definition of the Problem

History of the Criticism of Origen

The history of the debate over Origen's method of exegesis reaches back into
Origen's own lifetime.' But the issues of the current debate can best be clarified by
beginning with Luther, because he lays the foundation on which contemporary
objection to Origen's allegorical interpretation is based. Luther rejects the use of
allegory by which the theological meaning is achieved through figurative reading
of the text. In contrast he insists that the meaning is carried in the "simplici
puraeque et naturali significationi verborum, quam grammatica et usus loquendi
habet quern Deus creavit in hominibus".2 Luther means something more than
the claim that Scripture is intelligible without the aid of allegory. He means that it
is the simple, natural sense which contains the divine meaning. "Sic placitum est
Deo, ut non sine verbo, sed per verbum tribuat spiritum, ut nos habeat suos
cooperatores, dum foris sonamus".3
The significance of Luther for subsequent criticism of allegory is that the
power of the word to educate and correct is transferred by Luther from the
allegorical sense of Scripture to its grammatical sense. The grammatical, the
historical, and the theological have been melted into dimensions of a single sense,
accessible through the natural meaning of words.4 This reformation in the
theological basis of exegesis establishes the focal point for future criticism of
Origen's allegorical exegesis. All further debate over the principles of exegesis
concerns how the one, primary sense of the text is most appropriately denned
and what is the interpretive method which gives access to it.
This newly forged theological unity of the various senses of Scripture was
soon subject to unanticipated forces arising out of the evolving attempt to

Origen was often under pressure to defend his method of interpretation against charges of novelty,
absurdity and arbitrariness, A. Hamack, Der kirchengeschichtliche Ertrag der exegetischen Arbeiten
desOrigenes(W42,3 1918) p. S;d.Hom.inLev.XVl,4( zehrens,pp.497i{.),Hom.inGen.in,4
(Baehrens, pp. 43f.) XHI,3 (Baehrens, pp. 116ff.).
M. Luther, De Servo Arbitrio, WA 18,700. A good example of this rejection of a non-literal reading
is given in Melanchthon's judgment on Origen: "Ex Origene si tollas inconcinnas allegorias et
philosophicarum sententiarum silvam, quantulum erit reliquum?" Loci Communes, StA ,, . 4.
According to Melanchthon allegory no longer mediates the "Spirit". The naked text alone can do
that.
M. Luther, De Servo Arbitrio, WA 18,600.
H. W. Frei, The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative (New Haven, 1974) p. 22-23.

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2 Introduction

understand the world in a scientific way. These new forces reshaped the criteria
by which an exegetical method was itself justified. When we sketch the history of
the criticism of Origen's exegesis we will find that it is always formulated in
reference to the criteria by which a contemporary epoch attempts to understand
the world in a newly scientific way.
By the seventeenth century the basic criticism of Origen is no longer that his
allegories are fanciful, but rather that his allegorical interpretation depreciates
history. Richard Simon is quite severe in his judgement: "Origene etablit avec
tant de force... le sens spirituel qu'il detruit entierement la verite de l'histoire".5
The objection raised here is that die emphasis on the spiritual sense destroys the
factual meaning and value of history. The basis for the criticism of allegory has
shifted its ground. Here it is the historical sense of Scripture which is being
defended rather than the plain and simple meaning of Luther, the original
"natural" sense. Origen's allegorical exegesis is rejected because it violates the
historical nature of Scripture. The emergence of a secular concept of history in
which to express the unity of the natural world made the historical character of
Scripture increasingly important and increasingly problematic.6 The interlocking
dimensions of the theological, literal, and historical sense were partially dissolved
as historical fact, achieving independent significance, became increasingly detached
from the literal sense.
In the nineteenth century a new critique of Origen's exegesis is formulated.].
F. Denis in De la philosophic d'Origene complains:
L'exegese allegorique, voil Punique procede de decouverte, reel ou apparent,
que constitue la methode d'Origene, si 1'on peut dormer le nom de methode a
ce jeu d'imagination, excellent moyen de paraitre trouver ce qu'on a dej, mais
non de decouvrir ce qu'on n'a pas.7
It is in the light of an already well-developed concept of method that Origen's
exegesis wins mis biting criticism. Allegory, understood as method, appears to
make the claim of being an instrument or technique for research. But as a
scientific method it fails to conform to canons of method - objectivity, con-
sistency, repeatability. The problem with allegory is that it is an utterly unscientific
method for interpreting Scripture.

5
R. Simon, Histoire critique des principaux commentateurs du Nouveau Testament (Rotterdam,
1693) p. 47.
6
The emergence of history as a separate framework for understanding the natural world can be seen
in Cocceius' theological project. His goal is to show that salvation history, i.e. biblical history, fits
into the framework of world history on an equal footing with it, H. W. Frei, The Eclipse of Biblical
Narrative, p. 50.
' J.-F. Denis, De laphilosophie d'Origene (Paris, 1884) p. 33. The focus of interest here is allegory as a
method. This is clear from the intention of Denis' book. His project is to demonstrate that Origen
had a theological method, in fact, "method" is the topic of his first chapter.

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Definition of the Problem 3

Early in the twentieth century another critique of Origen develops. It is no


longer the main problem that allegory is an unqualified method. In fact Origen's
exegesis is recognized as a legitimately "scientific" method within the framework
of the Hellenistic world.
L'allegorie etait le moyen repute, savant, scientifique, philosophique de
discerner dans les ecrits antiques et veneres titre d'oracles une philosophic et
une theologie.8
Here it is rather the result itself which this method achieves when it is applied
by Origen which is condemned.
Lorsqu'on lit, soit les commentaires de notre auteur soit ses homilies, il est
naturel qu'on se demande comment il a pu alterer le sense des Ecritures au
point d'y substituer un sens philosophique entierement etranger aux auteurs
sacres.9
There are two implicit criticisms in de Faye's comment. One, that Origen has
substituted philosophical doctrines for what should have been theological inter-
pretation, and two, that this "philosophical" content is drawn from sources
outside the Christian tradition.
This new critique of Origen's use of allegory belongs to the era of scholarship
opened by the publication of Harnack's Handbuch derDogmengescbichte (1883).
His radical exposition of the alien influence of philosophy on the origins of
Christian theology required a major reexamination of the early exegetical
traditions.10 What is wrong with Origen's allegorical method is now seen
primarily in its consequent importation of Greek philosophy and speculation
into the sphere of biblical interpretation.

The Contemporary Approach to Origen

A history of the criticism of Origen's exegesis gives the necessary perspective


for understanding the contemporary discussion of Origen's method. First, the
characteristic problems raised in past centuries have not been satisfactorily
resolved and continue to dominate the contemporary argument over Origen's
exegesis.11 But secondly, an understanding of the intellectual history within
which the evolving criticism of Origen's exegesis has originated provides
important insight into the contemporary interests upon which that criticism was

' E. de Faye, Esquisse de lapensee d'Origene (Paris, 1925) p. 40.


9
E. de Faye, Origene, sa vie, son oeuvre, sapensee I (Paris, 1923) p. 94.
10
E. de Faye, Origene, sa vie , p. 235.
1
' H. Lubac formulates the problem: "Tel est, avec ses principales variantes, le jugement qui prevalait
hier et qui, malgre de bons travaux trop peu connus, se repete encore aujourd'hui." Histoire et Esprit.
L'intelUgence de rcritttre d'apres Origene (Paris, 1950) p. 16.

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4 Introduction

based, interests which often did not provide a firm basis for understanding
Origen on his own more distant terms. The following discussion of the
contemporary controversy over Origen's exegesis remains rooted in this
preceding history. Not only are the earlier objections to Origen still relevant
today, but many of the same scientific interests and large presuppositions still
determine the level and direction in which that discussion must take place.
There are basically three tasks which defenders of Origen's exegesis have
inherited. First, they must show that Origen was faithful to the historical element
of the Christian faith. The issue here is not that Origen was an unskilled
practitioner of the historical science or that he denies the historical dimension of
the Bible, but rather that history in Origen's method of exegesis is treated in such
a way that it no longer has any real soteriological function. Therefore a defense of
Origen must show that his theological understanding as well as his method of
interpretation has a clear relationship to the historical dimension of all Christian
knowledge.12
Secondly, Origen's defenders must show that Origen has a method. The
modern concept of method is a child of the new science. The criteria by which it is
defined and its diverse functions are derived from its use in the natural sciences.
Scientific method has at least two important functions; first, as a tool of
investigation, and secondly, as that which justifies and guarantees the results of
science. It is method which sanctions knowledge in science. Method establishes
the basis for the truth of all scientific results. But this means that what is true is
always proved true by something other than itself. In the Hellenistic world this
relationship of truth to method does not exist. The truth of things grounded in
themselves justified a certain method of knowledge and not the reverse.
In the modern meaning of the term it is impossible in principle to show that
Origen has a method for interpretation. But this does not mean that his exegesis
was simply arbitrary.13 It means that investigation of Origen's exegesis must be
carried forward with some other definition of method relevant to the thought
world in which Origen himself operated.

12
S. Luchli illustrates this very well. He first shows that Origen takes historical detail and actuality
quite seriously, thereby showing that Origen has the sensitivities which one expects from the
modern practitioner of the historical science. Then he attempts to prove that his theological
interpretation grows directly out of the history. He explains that Origen's term "anagogy" means
intrinsic connection which shows that for Origen the relationship between the historical fact and the
noetic truth is an objective element lodged in the historical fact, 'Origen's Conception of Symbolon',
AThR 33 (1951) pp. 102-116.
13
This is a mistake R. P. C. Hanson makes. He sets out to determine if Origen's method of
interpreting scripture has anything in common widi modern critical mediod. His results are quite
unequivocal; die two have nodiing in common,
"But in fact no such rules can be deduced in Origen's application of allegory. His use of it is
unchartably subjective." Allegory and Event. A Study of the Sources and Significance of Origen's
Interpretation of Scripture (London, 1959) p. 245.
He is quite right in his assessment, but he has asked die wrong question.

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Definition of the Problem 5

Thirdly, Origen's supporters must show that Origan's exegesis is


fundamentally Christian. In order to do this they must show that its principles
are uniquely Christian and can be clearly distinguished from other contemporary
forms of exegesis. They must show how specifically Gnostic, Platonic, Philonic,
or Jewish forms of thought and traditions of exegesis have been taken over and
transformed through the underlying principles by which their use is determined
in Origen.
There are two phases in contemporary efforts to deal with these problems,
representing distinct ways of asking the question about exegesis in Origen. The
first phase involves the attempt to distinguish Christian from non-Christian
elements in Origen on the basis of exegetical traditions. J. Danielou initiated this
phase with his article, "Traversee de la Mer Rouge et bapteme aux premiers
siecles", followed two years later by his book Origene.14 He argues that one
element of Origen's exegesis is essentially Christian because it belongs to an
earlier tradition of Christian exegesis and because it preserves the historical
character of Christian faith. This argument rests on a basic distinction between
allegory and typology.15 According to Danielou typology is a technique for
interpreting historical events or persons as prophetically figuring later events or
persons. Under this definition Danielou argues that Origen's interpretation of
Scripture is concerned with relationships within history and therefore with the
historical basis of Christian faith. Furthermore, this technique of typological
interpretation is well established within the exegetical tradition preceding Origen.
Danielou approached Origen's method of exegesis by first analyzing Origen's
systematic treatment of hermeneutics in De Principiis, Book IV.16 He determined
that according to Origen, spiritual exegesis is necessary to avoid the problem that
literal exegesis leads to. The literal exegesis of the Jews blinded them to the fact
that Jesus was the Messiah. The literal exegesis of the Gnostics made it impossible
for them to recognize the divinity of the Old Testament, and the literal exegesis of
simple believers lead them to say unworthy things about God. Spiritual exegesis,
Danielou goes on to show, is a way of reading the Old Testament in the light of
the New, die Old Testament being the shadow of the reality unveiled in the New.
Typological interpretation was, then, a way of establishing how the New
Testament meaning was present in the Old.
All that falls outside of this definition of typology in Origen's exegesis
Danielou designates as allegory. And allegory, according to Danielou, is a form of
exegesis whose roots do lie outside of Christian tradition in Jewish, Philonic, and
Gnostic forms of exegesis. To the extent that Origen's exegesis follows the form
of a typology it remains within the sphere of the historical and the Christian.

14
J. Danielou, Traversee de la Mer Rouge et bapteme aux premiers siecles', RSR 33 (1946)
pp. 402-430; Origene (Paris, 1948) pp. 145-205.
15
J. Danielou, Origene, p. 145.
16
J. Danielou, Origene, pp. 146-149.

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6 Introduction

Where it follows an allegorical form it falls outside the historical and specifically
Christian.
This solution to the question of exegesis in Origen has been criticized by both
de Lubac and Hanson. H. de Lubac rejects Danielou's use of a distinction
between typology and allegory to designate distinct traditions of exegesis.17 He
demonstrates that allegory is the term which both Greek and Latin Christians
used for a kind of interpretation which matches exactly Danielou's discription of
typology. But this means that the term allegory does not distinguish between
Christian and non-Christian traditions of exegesis. For de Lubac this means that
some other way must be found to show that Origen is a Christian exegete.
Hanson is also skeptical about Danielou's distinction, because it still presents a
relatively loose connection between the text and its meaning. Typology,
furthermore, fades too easily into allegory.18 Hanson's own position is that
Christian allegory (which would be typology in Danielou) disappears by the time
of Barnabas, swallowed up by Alexandrian allegory where the interpretation has
only the most arbitrary connection to the literal sense.19
Danielou is quite right, I believe, to begin his analysis with Origen's own
discussion of biblical interpretation from De Principiis. However, I think Danielou
is mistaken in his subsequent description of the spiritual sense. His thesis that
typological exegesis is simply the reading of the New Testament into the Old
rests on three textual interpretations: Cant. (Baehrens, p. 220), Horn, in Lev.
X,l (Baehrens, 440ff.), and Comm. in Mt. X,9-10 (Klostermann, p. 10-11).
Danielou interprets all three passages as speaking of the way in which the Law
prefigures the Gospel. All three passages do refer to the Law and to the way in
which it prefigures the coming benefits. But none of the three passages mentions
either the Gospel or the New Testament. Both the passage in Canticles and the
passage in Matthew explicitly relate the prefiguring of the Law to the coming of
Christ. However, this means that Christ is prefigured in the Law, not the New
Testament. This is an important difference as we shall see later on.20 Danielou's
theory about spiritual exegesis being the reading of the New Testament into the
Old Testament cannot be derived from the texts to which he refers.
Both Danielou and Hanson, although they stand on opposite sides of the
question whether Origen is a Christian exegete, still basically argue from the same
premise. Exegesis is Christian if it can be shown to remain within the Christian
tradition of exegesis, defined as Palestinian by Hanson, as Pauline, frenaean, and
Justinian by Danielou. But H. de Lubac brings a whole new approach to the

17
H. de Lubac, '"Typologie" et "Allegorisme"', RSR 34 (1947) p. 220.
18
R. P. C. Hanson, Allegory and Event, pp. 127-128.
" R. P. C. Hanson, Allegory ana Event, p. 126. Hanson's decision that Origen's method of exegesis is
not Christian leaves him with the difficult task of explaining why his exegetical results were so
Christian. In order to solve this problem he attempts to show that Origen's exegesis was guided by
and limited by the rule of faith. See p. 371-373.
20
Cf. pp. 43-48.

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Definition of the Problem 7

problem of Origen's exegesis. He seeks to show that Origen's exegesis has a


theological structure which distinguishes it from Hellenistic allegorical
traditions.2' Rather than examining the various exegetical traditions which are
present in Origen's exegesis, he looks at the use that Origen makes of those
traditions. This becomes the new criterion of whether Origen's exegesis is
Christian or not.
The question of theological structure in de Lubac's analysis of Origen's
exegesis focuses on the central relationship between the two levels of interpretation
- letter and spirit - as a theologically determined structure and as a hermeneutical
principle for Origen's exegesis. He begins by examining how Origen himself
describes the literal sense as well as the exegetical vocabulary which he uses.22
From these sources de Lubac argues that the literal sense in Origen's
understanding always points beyond itself to the intention of the Spirit. Defini-
tion of the spiritual sense is largely taken as well from Origen's own
characterizations of it, that the Spirit reveals what the letter conceals. The spiritual
sense is the disclosure of what is present in a hidden form in the literal sense. The
central argument in de Lubac's analysis now rests on observing that Origen gives
a parallel description for the relationship between Old Testament and New
Testament, in this case Christ concealed in the Old Testament and revealed in the
New Testament.23 This leads de Lubac to the conclusion that the basic relationship
of letter and spirit is equivalent in Origen's understanding to the relationship of
Old Testament and New Testament. By this he means something quite similar in
form to the main thesis of Danielou, that Origen's exegetical movement from the
letter to the spirit is nothing other than a reading of the New Testament into the
Old. But in de Lubac this no longer applies to only a single strand of exegesis in
Origen, namely typology, but to Origen's exegesis as a whole and specifically as a
theological structure determining his use of allegory.
De Lubac uses New Testament, Gospel and Christ interchangeably as identical
with the spirit in the letter-spirit relation. And the definition of the spiritual sense
is expanded to include mystical doctrines, instruction on the Christian life, and
eschatological symbolism.24 De Lubac's definition of the spiritual sense in Origen
is rather diffuse, though not false. It is his intention to show - in contrast to
Danielou - that all the elements in Origen's exegesis are Christian, and on this
point he is surely right.25 But his claim that the exegetical movement from letter
to spirit is nothing other than a reading of the New Testament meaning into the
Old Testament is not convincing. When Origen speaks of the unity of the two

21
H. de Lubac, Histoire et Esprit.
22
H. de Lubac, Histoire et Esprit, pp. 113-125.
23
H. de Lubac, Histoire et Esprit, pp. 166-173.
24
H. de Lubac, Histoire et Esprit, pp. 174-194.
25
H. de Lubac's book is essentially an apologetic work. His first chapter details the "griefs contre
Origene" and his thesis is intended to demonstrate that Origen's exegesis is fundamentally Christian
and is faithful to the historical element of the Christian faith, Histoire et Esprit, p. 150.

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8 Introduction

Testaments he is not giving instructions on interpretation. The most that can be


deduced from these passages is that the subject matter of both Testaments is
Christ. If he wanted to make a hermeneutical principle out of the unity of the two
Testaments he would need to say that the exegetical movement from letter to
spirit is a movement in both Testaments from Christ concealed in the letter to
Christ revealed in the spiritual sense. J. Tigcheler's critique of de Lubac's theory
runs in a similar direction.26 He points out that de Lubac has defined the
theological relationship between Old and New Testament and between letter and
spirit, but that the existence of a theological relationship is not yet identical with a
hermeneutical principle. The theological structure which de Lubac has proposed
is used by Origen to justify his exegesis, but it is not used as a hermeneutical
principle or procedure for getting from the text to its interpretation.
Since de Lubac's pioneering work there have been several attempts to delineate
the theological structure of Origen's exegesis as for example in W. Gruber and R.
Ggler or a purely hermeneutical structure as in J. Tigcheler. Each one of these
scholars has used a different kind of analysis and argument to identify the
structural relationship between the literal and the spiritual sense, and each one has
proposed an essentially different structure.
R. Ggler proposes a christological structure, arguing that the relationship
letter-spirit is identical to the relationship between the flesh/humanity of Christ
and his divinity.27 He shows the distinct analogy between the doctrine of
Scripture and the doctrine of the Incarnation in Origen. Scripture, like the
Incarnation itself, is a form of the kenosis of the Logos through which he
accommodates himself to the human need for sensible forms of knowledge. Like
the flesh, history renders the divinity of the Logos visible. Exegesis as the
movement from the letter (history) to the spirit is then equivalent to the process
of discovery of and encounter with the Logos through the means of the visible
symbols in which he has incarnated himself. In this extended sense the Logos
forms the objective content of Scripture. Furthermore, in Ggler's interpretation
the Logos as personal Christ is not only the objective content but also the acting
subject in exegesis of the spiritual sense.28 Ggler arrives at this conclusion by a
thorough analysis of Origen's Logos doctrine, beginning with the revelatory
relationship between the name of a thing and its essence. And Ggler finds this
same structure of name or word being the mediator of reality/meaning carried
over into Origen's doctrine of Scripture. The same mediating activity of the
Logos in revelation and redemption is, Ggler finds, at the heart of Origen's

J. Tigcheler, Didyme l'Aveugle et l'Exegese AUegorique (GCP 6,1977) pp. 178-181.


R. Ggler, Zur Theologie des biblischen Wortes bei Origenes (Dsseldorf, 1963).
R. Ggler, Theologie des biblischen Wortes, p. 266. "Dabei will das Wort sowohl seinen Inhalt
vermitteln als auch mit der sprechenden Person Beziehung herstellen. Als objektives Wort, das von
Ereignissen und Tatsachen berichtet, das Wahrheit, Dogma und Sinn enthlt, will es 'verkndet
werden'; als personales Wort will es Gemeinschaft stiften. Das Bezogensein auf den Hrer ist dem
Wort wesenseigen."

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Definition of the Problem 9

doctrine of Scripture. The biblical word is the incarnation of the eternal Logos.
W. Gruber proposes a pedagogical structure to account for Origen's
exegesis.29 In this version the letter-spirit relationship is that of levels of doctrine
corresponding to stages of growth. Gruber identifies in the three-fold sense of
Scripture a structure of multiple levels of truth which correspond with
differentiated stages of development.
Insofern das Wort Spiegel der Welt ist, entspricht seiner Mehrschichtigkeit
eine Reihe von existenziellen Entwicklungsstufen im Menschen. Es gibt
dennoch so etwas wie eine Zuordnung von Sinn und Entwicklungsstufe,
zwischen denen ein klares Verhltnis bestehen muss, sollen sie nicht gegenseitig
verschlossen bleiben. Hier liegt die tiefere Begrndung der Arkandisziplin.30
This structure of allegorical exegesis is grounded in a theological understanding
of redemption. With baptism the Christian becomes one of the perfect and is
prepared to progress in knowledge. The allegorical sense of Scripture is the
peculiar instrument for this progress. Exegesis of the depths of spiritual meaning
is an encounter with the divine grace of the Holy Spirit who discloses the truth of
the Logos and in so doing brings the reader into union with the same Logos.
In this short work Gruber has successfully illuminated an essential point in
Origen, that exegesis must be understood as a part of the process of redemption
for the soul.3' Gruber's argument for the difference between biblical allegory and
that of the poets in terms of the purpose of allegory reflects this same context.
Die poetische Allegorie hat somit aesthetischen Charakter, sie tritt episoden-
haft auf; ihr Zweck ist das Bild: sie besitzt gleichsam einen literarischen
Selbstwert. Die biblische Allegorie hingegen ist in der Schrift durchgehend
vorhanden, hat philosophisch-theologischen Charakter; ihr Zweck ist
Mitteilung einer Heilswahrheit, die unter Bercksichtigung aller Umstnde so
und nicht anders mitgeteilt werden musste.32
From this central determination that biblical allegory is grounded in the
concept of inspiration, the method of Gruber's argument is to understand the
hermeneutical principles which governed Alexandrian allegory in the light of
inspiration. In the concluding chapter of his study he identifies a "theology of
2
' W. Gruber, Die pneumatische Exegese bei den Alexandrinern: Ein Beitrag zur Noematik der heiligen
Schrift (STFG Reihe D, Heft 3/4,1957).
30
W. Gruber, Die pneumatische Exegese bei den Alexandrinern, p. 5, see also p. 74.
3
' According to Gruber's formulation: "Allegorie - existenziell verstanden - ist aktive Teilnahme des
Menschen an der Erlsung: Erffnung der Heilszeit im Zeitlichen der geschichtlichen Ablufe und
des darber mitgeteilten Wortes. Nur durch das Medium des pneumatischen Wortes kommt es zur
Kommunion mit dem Worte der Schrift, zu jener geistigen Vereinigung, in der bereits eine
Vorwegnhme der mystischen Einigung im Jenseits geschieht. Hierin liegt die beseligte Existenz des
Pneumatikers: Teilhabe an der beseligenden Schau", W. Gruber, Die pneumatische Exegese bei den
Alexandrinern, p. 5.
32
W. Gruber, Die pneumatische Exegese bei den Alexandrinern, p. 6.

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10 Introduction

exegesis" which provides a theological foundation for the hermeneutical principles


used by the Alexandrians.
The work of J. Tigcheler in his study of Didymus' use of allegory should also
be mentioned, since he regards that work as having a direct bearing on the
question of theological structure in Origen's exegesis.33 Tigcheler's approach to
the problem of allegorical exegesis is unique. His argument is based on a detailed
semantic analysis of exegetical expressions employed by Didymus. He correlates
a specific exegetical question with each technical term, resulting in a regular
sequence of exegetical procedures which, according to Tigcheler, define the
hermeneutical structure of allegory in Didymus.
These questions, each corresponding to a hermeneutical term, taken in the
following sequence, define the hermeneutical structure of Didymus5 allegory
according to Tigcheler.
- What does the text say?
' - What are the facts of the case?
' - Can this text be understood in afigurativeway?
' - What does the text mean when it is read in the new context
indicated by the figure?
The relationship of letter to spirit is simply the relationship of the literal to the
figurative as it is reflected in some specific set of exegetical procedures. Accordingly
there is no inherently theological dimension to the relationship of letter and spirit.
Tigcheler's contribution is valuable in two respects. One is the close attention
paid to the exegetical terminology and its corresponding procedural reference.
The other is his description of a hermeneutical procedure by identifying the
exegetical questions which define each of the steps. Although this method of
analysis is fruitful and the results quite interesting, the specific conclusion which
Tigcheler reaches is not convincing. His own study begins with a criticism of de
Lubac and Danielou for taking a theological concept (that the New Testament is
prefigured in the Old) and turning it into a hermeneutical principle.34 This I
believe is a justified critique. As we saw above, it is only in the most general terms
that Danielou and de Lubac derive this from Origen.35 But Tigcheler's response
to this problem is to elucidate a purely hermeneutical structure which excludes
the possibility of a theological structure directing the steps of the exegesis.
Tigcheler's claim that it is simply the tension between the word and the reality to
which it points that gives rise to the profounder meaning36 is simply not adequate
to account for the specifically theological form which those profounder meanings

33
Although Tigcheler's study is concerned with the exegesis of Didymus, he feels that his results are
also applicable to Origen's exegesis (p. 50). In fact, he begins his book with a lengthy critique of de
Lubac's portrayal of Origen's exegesis, which serves as his starting point, J. Tigcheler, Didyme.
34
J. Tigcheler, Didyme, pp. 1-51; pp. 178-185.
35
Cf. p. 7.
36
J. Tigcheler, Didyme, pp. 179-180.

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Definition of the Problem 11

take.37 A genuinely hermeneutical structure for Christian allegory must also be a


theological structure. However if such a theological structure is proposed - and
here Tigcheler is certainly right - it must be shown to actually direct the
individual steps of exegesis; in short, it must be shown to be a genuinely
hermeneutical structure. Any attempt to delineate a theological structure for
Origen's exegesis must in the future take this requirement into account.
To summarize this discussion of contemporary studies in Origen's exegesis
we may ask, where does the question about exegesis in Origen now stand? The
first and fundamental transition is from Danielou's concern for identifying a
specific exegetical tradition in Origen to de Lubac's more fundamental question
of the theological structure in Origen's exegesis as a whole. But this concern for a
theological structure of exegesis in Origen must - following Tigcheler - provide a
hermeneutical account for the actual steps of exegesis in Origen. Finally, both
Gruber and Ggler have proposed and plausibly defended different definitions
for the basic relationship of letter and spirit, as a correlation between levels of
doctrines in Scripture and stages of growth in the soul on the one hand (Gruber)
and as a correlation between the humanity and divinity of Christ on the other
hand (Gogler). Both of these divergent aspects must be accounted for in the
theological structure of Origen's exegesis.
But even more than this diversity in the results which we have noted, there is
also a remarkable divergence in the basic sources and methods of argument.
Danielou's analysis of a distinct exegetical tradition in Origen is largely based
upon Origen's own theoretical account in De Principiis of the doctrine and
interpretation of Scripture. De Lubac's description of a basic theological structure
for Origen's exegesis as a whole is dependent upon a detailed study and
comparison between Origen's remarks on letter and spirit and his remarks on the
unity of the Old and New Testament. Ggler reaches his christological definition
of letter and spirit through a systematic correlation of Origen's doctrine of
Scripture with his doctrine of the Logos. Gruber on the other hand takes the
crucial concept of inspiration and a detailed study of the Alexandrian allegorical
tradition as the basis for his argument on the relation of letter and spirit within the
framework of redemption. Finally, Tigcheler bases his rejection of any theological
structure for allegorical exegesis on the analysis of key terms in the individual
steps of allegorical exegesis.
But in all of these studies there is a fundamental source for the theological
structure of exegesis in Origen which has by and large been overlooked or dealt
with only on an incidental basis and that is a detailed and systematic study of
Origen's own exegetical practice. All of the above studies are based upon the
interpretation of general concepts in Origen's work, or the study of individual
terms, or the comparison of individual samples of exegesis. But no one has taken

37
W. Cruiser's thesis that Christian allegory, based as it is on inspiration, is philosophical-theological
and requires a corresponding hermeneutics should, I think, be seen as a valid critique of Tigcheler's
position. Cf. p. 9ff.

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12 Introduction

a continuous commentary or homily and attempted to analyze the recurring


structure of procedures and steps which Origen follows in the course of
interpreting a complete text.38 Such an attempt to provide an orderly description
of Origen's exegetical practice forms the essential basis and the method of
argument for this study and its contribution to the question of a theological
structure in Origen's exegesis.

A Strategy for the Study of Origen's Exegetical Practice

In order to be able to set this study in the context of the previous work we
have reviewed above, a brief preview will be given of the analysis for Origen's
exegetical practice along with the results of that analysis, followed by a
corresponding reformulation of the basic question to be asked about a theological
structure for Origen's exegesis and concluding with a summary of the major
features belonging to that theological structure as they were derived from the
study of Origen's exegetical practice.
The study of Origen's exegetical practice is initially an investigation of the
literary form which that exegesis takes rather than the theological presuppositions
upon which it is ultimately based. Two different aspects of literary form in
Origen's exegesis became quite apparent. The first is the literary unit created by
the exegesis of a single verse, a literary unit characterized by a specific sequence of
steps. The second aspect of the literary form concerns the organization of the
homily or commentary taken as a whole. This means the literary form which
emerges when all the separate units of individual verse exegesis are taken together
in a consecutive whole. Each of the two aspects of the literary form in Origen's
exegesis is dealt with in a separate chapter: Origen's step-by-step procedure for
the interpretation of the individual verse in Chapter , and the consequent
organization of the literary form for the homily as a whole in Chapter .
Chapters and together provide a description for Origen's exegetical practice
as a whole in terms of a uniform, recurring and well-defined pattern of procedures
and steps, which demonstrate that the essential task of exegesis in Origen has
been decisively organized around the figure of the hearer/reader. The sequence of
steps which Origen follows for the interpretation of each verse (Ch. ) are
designed to relate the hearer to the text. And the organizing principle for the
sequence of verses as a whole (Ch. ffl) forms a progression of stages in the
Christian's progress toward perfection, through which the hearer is advanced by
the interpretation.

38
There is one structural analysis of a specific passage, J. N. Aletti, 'D'une ecriture Pautre. Analyse
structurale d'une passage d'Origene, Commentaire sur Jean, livre 13-2, RSR 61 (1973)
pp. 27-47, It is a semantical study of the way in which Origen relates words that signify to words
diat refer. Because this passage represents only a small part of the commentary on a single verse
Aletti's study can be said to have identified a technique of Origen's, but not an exegetical structure.

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A Strategy for the Study of Origen's Exegetical Practice 13

This fundamental redefinition of the task of exegesis means that the


corresponding question of a theological structure for Origen's exegesis must be
reformulated. Thus far scholars have asked for the relationship between the text
and its interpretation or, by what principles is the interpretation to be derived
from the text. Now the question must consider three mutually engaged reference
points: the text, the means of its interpretation, and the hearer for whom this
exegesis is conducted.
The resulting theological structure for this three-dimensional exegesis in
Origen is developed in two ways. First, the theological presuppositions of this
exegesis are derived from the concrete description of Origen's exegetdcal practice,
guided to a considerable extent by Origen's own running commentary on the
process as it unfolds. Secondly, on the basis of these doctrinal presuppositions the
specific theological structure is identified which dictates or informs the particular
steps of Origen's exegetical procedure and which therefore constitutes the
hermeneutical structure of Origen's exegesis.
The elaboration of this theological structure is to be found in Chapter IV. It
has its essential presuppositions in Origen's Logos doctrine of Scripture and in
his theology of exegesis as redemption. The subject matter of Scripture is the
saving doctrines of Christ concealed in the literal sense in a symbolic form and
revealed in the spiritual sense in a visible form.
The corresponding theological structure which determines Origen's exegetical
procedure consists of two levels: the original, historical pedagogy of the Logos
represented in the literal sense of Scripture and a contemporary pedagogy of the
Logos directed toward the hearer given in the spiritual sense. Origen understands
the literal sense of Scripture to be a symbolic record or transcription of the
historical experience of the Old Testament saints with the teaching activity of
Christ. Origen's use of the spiritual sense shows that he believes the contemporary
interpretation of Scripture to be a reenactment of the same teaching activity of
Christ (in the visible form of doctrines) for the hearer today. Therefore Origen's
exegesis moves from the saving doctrines of Christ once taught to the saints (the
historical pedagogy of the Logos) to the same saving doctrines which transform
his hearers today (the contemporary pedagogy). This movement from the
historical to the contemporary pedagogy of the Logos determines Origen's
step-wise procedure for the interpretation of each individual verse. The movement
of exegesis draws the reader into the text where he reencounters the original
teaching activity of Christ through the interpretation of the spiritual sense. In
related fashion, the organizing principle for Origen's exegesis of the chapter as a
whole reflects this same theological structure in its procedural form. A central
tenet of Origen's understanding of redemption is that the teaching Logos
accommodates himself to the need and level of the hearer. For this reason the
teachings which belong to the contemporary pedagogy of the Logos (the spiritual
sense) are arranged according to stages of the soul's progress toward perfection.
Once we have understood the theological structure of Origen's exegesis and
its roots in his doctrine of Scripture and theology of exegesis, we can see why

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14 Introduction

Origan's exegesis is fundamentally oriented around the three-way relationship of


text, interpretation, and hearer. Exegesis is the mediation of Christ's redemptive
teaching activity to the hearer.

The Textual Basis

Transmission of the Texts

Only a fraction remains of the tremendous wealth of material which Origen


produced in his lifetime. The texts that have survived the centuries of Origenist
controversy have not reached us without modification. Some have been
translated, others edited in the process of transmission.
Of the original Greek all that remains is the homilies on Jeremiah and portions
of the commentaries on Matthew and John. We possess Latin translations of the
homilies on the Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Luke, which were done by
Jerome. From Rufinus we have translations of the homilies on the Heptateuch
and the commentaries on the Song of Songs and Romans.39 There has been a
debate over the reliability of these Latin translations since the 4th century, when a
controversy over the methods of translation was instigated by the translators
themselves. A careful assessment of the issues of this debate is necessary if the
Latin translations are to be used as sources for Origen's interpretive technique.
The first Latin translations of De Principiis were made after the outbreak of an
anti-Origenist movement which found heretical teachings in the speculative
doctrines of the Alexandrian.40 Rufinus, believing this great teacher to be
orthodox:, published a treatise, De Adulteratione Librorum Origenis, in 397
which claimed that Origen's works had been interpolated by heretics.41 He then
published his translation of Origen's De Principiis, commending Origen to the
Latin public by appealing to Jerome's favorable judgement on him. Thereupon
Jerome who had since 393 come to view Origen as a heretic, published his own
translation of the work and an accompanying apology which accused Rufinus of
expurgating major blocks of Origen's text in his version of De Principiis.42
Rufinus countered by accusing Jerome of taking the same kind of liberties with

39
See P. Nautin, Origene, sa vie et son aeuvre (Paris, 1977) pp. 242-260, for a complete inventory of
Origen's work.
40
In 380 during his stay in Constantinople Jerome translated Origen's homilies on the Song of Songs,
Jeremiah, Ezechiel and Luke. The outbreak of the Origenist controversy took place later in
Jerusalem in 393. It is from this point on that Jerome felt it necessary to defend himself against
charges of Origenism.
41
See CChr XX, pp. 7-17. For the same views, see also the Prefaces to Book - and -IV of
Rufinus' translation of De Principiis (CChr XX, pp. 245-248).
42
Apologia adversus UbrosRrfnil,? (Migne, PL XXEQ, col. 420).

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The Textual Basis 15

the text.43 In fact in his Preface to Book I of De Principiis Rufinus commends


Jerome's practice of suppressing passages which do not conform to Faith!44
Besides the issue of theological emendation of the text, the issue of the quality
and the method of translation was raised. Rufinus accused Jerome of
mistranslation in reference to a letter of Epiphanius. Jerome defends himself in a
letter to Pammachius by explaining that only in translating Scripture does he
translate word-for-word. Otherwise he seeks to render the spirit of the writer
into Latin by using forms of speech familiar to his audience.45 Rufinus himself in a
different context appeals to just this method of translation.46
This leaves the modern scholar with the difficult task of assessing the value of
these translations and the seriousness of the criticism leveled against them. A
resolution of this matter is especially important since they provide the only access
we have to a great body of Origen's writings. We fortunately have the means for
evaluating the translations of both of these writers. Of the 20 Greek homilies on
Jeremiah, we have 12 in a Latin translation by Jerome. This provides us the
opportunity for measuring Jerome's translation against the original Greek.47 This
is also possible for Rufinus. With the discovery of the Tura papyrus we have the
Greek text of Origen's commentary on Romans for Books ,5 through V,7.
This can be compared then with Rufinus' Latin translation of the same books.48
E. Klostermann, who did the critical edition of Jerome's Latin translation of
the homilies on Jeremiah, has done a detailed comparison of the Latin text with
the Greek original. His considered conclusion is that Jerome is not guilty of
emending the text on the basis of a doctrinal bias.49 However, he does find that
Jerome was very prone to adding explanatory phrases and to providing rhetorical

43
In the Apologia in Hieronymum 11,31 (CChr XX, p. 106) Rufinus defends his translation of De
Principiis by protesting that he had only adopted Jerome's method of translation; he then goes on to
show that Jerome as well made emendations and interpolations in his translation of the homilies on
Luke.
44
CO XX, pp. 245-247.
45
Epistle 57 (CSEL LIV, pp. 503-526), see also Apologia adversus Libras Rufini m,12 (Migne, PL
XXm, cols. 485-487); see also Epistle 106.11,46-47 (CSEL LV, pp. 269-270).
46
Rufinus, Apologia in Hieronymum ,31 (CChr XX, p. 106); see also Apologia ad Anastasiwn 7
(CChr XX, p. 27).
47
There are two critical editions of the Greek homilies on Jeremiah: P. Nautin, Homelies surjeremie
(SC 232/238,1976/1977). E. J^ostermaimjeremiahomaien (GCS 6,1901). The critical edition of
the Latin homilies was done by W. A. Baehrens, Homiiien zu Samuel I, zum Hohelied und zu den
Propheten, Kommentar zum Hohelied in Rufins und Hieronymus' bersetzung (GCS 33,1925).
48
The Greek commentary on Romans was edited by J. Scherer, Le commentaire d'Origene surRom.
Iff,J-V.7 (Kairo, 1957). The Latin is given in Commentana in Epistulam B. Pauli ad Romanes
(Migne, PG 14,1862) cols. 837-1292.
49
E. Klostermann, Die berlieferung derjeremiahomilien des Origenes (TU 16,3,1897) p. 27. See also
V. Peri, 'Ipassi sua Trinita neue omelie origeniane tradotte in latino da San Girolamo' (TU 81,1962)
pp. 157-163.

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16 Introduction

embellishment. This makes Jerome's translation reliable for the transmission of


the sense of the Greek text, but not for its exact reading.50
M. Rauer, who edited Jerome's translation of Origen's homilies on Luke,
adds two novel arguments in favor of Jerome's fidelity as a translator. One is that
if the worst Rufinus can say of Jerome is that he adds an "et naturae" to
"substantiae"5' then he is not likely to be found guilty of major modifications of
the doctrinal content. The second argument is that Jerome transmitted so many
of Origen's heretical doctrines that it does not appear that he was in the business
of censorship!52
Although both Jerome and Rufinus felt called upon to defend their reputations
as translators, the failings of Rufinus have somehow always been considered
more serious than those of Jerome.53 The debate over Rufinus' translations has
been clouded by a lack of clarity over the standards against which his performance
is to be judged. This weakness of the discussion was deftly pinpointed by M.
Wagner in Rufinus the Translator.
Modem critics, on the other hand, reproach Rufinus for arbitrariness either
because their scientific interests are outraged by his seeming delinquency in
not providing the means for reconstructing a corrupt or fragmentary text or
because they wish to impose upon him certain rules for translation which they
appear to believe are intrinsically mandatory.54
Her solution to this problem is that Rufinus as a translator must be judged by
his own statements of the interests and procedures which governed his translations
(by his prefaces) and by the canons of translation which prevailed in his day.
Our interest in Rufinus is limited to his translations of Origen's exegetical
works. In evaluating his translation of the commentary on Romans it is important
to take into account both the standards which he set for himself in the prologue
and the standards set for him by the age in which he lived. The painstaking work
of comparing line by line the Greek version of the papyrus with the Latin of
Rufinus' translation has already been done by two fine scholars. J. Scherer in his
presentation of the text of the papyrus provides a lengthy discussion of the merits
of Rufinus' translation.55 His main concern, however, is the usefulness of
Rufinus' translation for the correction of the Greek text or possible help with the
lacunae. H. Chadwick two years later published a detailed critique of Scherer's
assessment of Rufinus.56 Scherer's study of the Latin translation divides into two
so
P. Nautin, Homelies surjeremie (SC 232, 1976) pp. 33-43, gives a condensed version of this
discussion.
51
Rufinus, Apologia in Hieronymum ,31 (CChr XX, p. 106. 1,12-15).
52
M. Rauer, Die Homilien zu Lukas (GCS 35,1930) pp. -XV.
" E. de Faye, Origene, sa vie I, pp. 61-63.
54
M. Wagner, Rufous, the Translator, Washington D.C., 1945, p. 1.
55
J. Scherer, Le commentaire d'Origene stir Rom III,}-V,7, pp. 85-122.
56
H. Chadwick, 'Rufinus and the Tura Papyrus of Origen's Commentary on Romans', JTJiSNS 10
(1959) pp. 10-42.

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The Textual Basis 17

parts. In the first he concerns himself with liberties in translation that do not affect
the meaning. What he enumerates here falls within the more detailed catalogue
created by M. Wagner.57 To this extent Scherer's judgment on Rufinus'
translation is positive: "Rufinus' translation is often precise, exact and to a great
extent faithful."58
In the second section of his discussion Scherer presents evidence that Rufinus
makes his own additions to Origen's texts, that he rearranges Origen's text and
finally, that Rufinus presents Origen's thought in a context which falsifies
Origen's meaning. These are the elements of Scherer's argument which Chadwick
brings under closer scrutiny. The issue, according to Chadwick, is how much did
Rufinus suppress and how much of his own work did he interpolate into
Origen's text. By comparing the work with Rufinus' own stated intentions in the
prologue, Chadwick approaches the problem in a careful and systematic way.
The first question concerns the material that Rufinus suppressed. Does the
omission of this material reflect any intention to falsify or misrepresent Origen's
thought? Chadwick's answer is no. The list of sections omitted corresponds to
Rufinus' statement that he would drastically reduce the original size of the
commentary.59 The second and more critical problem is Scherer's judgment that
Rufinus interpolated his own work or that of another commentator into Origen's
text. With this Chadwick takes emphatic exception. Again he returns to the
prologue. Rufinus, in the preface, laments the fact that he was not able to obtain
all the portions of Origen's commentary and therefore was forced to supply
missing pieces in order to ensure a continuous commentary.60 The issue is, did
Rufinus simply compose portions of the commentary himself in order to supply
the missing sections or are the additional sections Origenist texts. Chadwick
notes that Rufinus himself emphatically denies in the prologue the charge that he
has introduced his own work into Origen's commentary.6' In order to arrive at a
judgment on Rufinus' translations, Chadwick turns to the criticism of Scherer.
Scherer has claimed that Rufinus adds material of his own at some places and
reorganizes Origen's material at others in such a way that the original sense is lost
or distorted. Chadwick's technique is to pay careful attention to the content of
the argument presented in both the Greek and Latin text. In many cases he is able
to show that Rufinus has abridged, but has been faithful to the sense and intention
of the Greek. Chadwick supports this contention by demonstrating that other
Origen texts confirm the correctness of Rufinus' formulation. Scherer claims
Rufinus added his own material on the basis of the fact that the papyrus does not

57
M. Wagner, Rufinus, the Translator, pp. 29-77. See also G. Bardy, Recherches sur l'histoire du texte et
des versions latines du De Princips d'Origene (Paris, 1923) pp. 106-132.
58
J. Scherer, Le Commentaire d'Origene sur Rom mj-VJ, p. 88.
s
' Rufinus, Praefatio in Explanationem Origenis (CChr XX, p. 275).
60
Rufinus, Praefatio in Explanationem Origenis (CChr XX, p. 275). See also Epilogus (CChr XX,
pp. 276-277).
61
Rufinus, Epilogus (CChr XX, pp. 276-277).

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18 Introduction

offer a parallel reading. Chadwick argues that the papyrus, being a collection of
excerpts, cannot be assumed to offer a continuous text. Furthermore, he
demonstrates that the material which Rufinus allegedly adds can be found in the
same detail elsewhere in Origen's works. Chadwick's conclusion is that what
Rufinus offers us in his translation, although drastically reduced, is still vintage
Origen.
The translations of Rufinus need to be examined under another aspect, that of
the charge that he suppresses heretical doctrines. In Rufinus' own time this debate
revolved around his translation of De Principiis, rather than the translations of
the exegetical works. Nevertheless the issue is important in terms of selecting
texts for our study.
It is Koetschau's position that Rufinus has radically altered the original lines of
De Principiis.62 This conviction has a dramatic effect on his editing, for he prefers
to the Latin text of Rufinus a great number of indirect witnesses ranging from
excerpts of Jerome's translation to the formulas by which Origen was
anathematized in 553. G. Bardy in his Recherches sur I'histoire du texte et des
versions latines du De Princip s d'Origene, reviews both Koetschau's judgment on
Rufinus' translation and its effect on his critical edition of De Principiis.63 Using
primarily fragments from Justinian's letter to Menas and Jerome's letter to
Avitus, Bardy reevaluates Rufinus' translation. His conclusion is that Rufinus has
probably suppressed or modified phrases where the orthodox doctrine of the
Trinity is not clearly expressed. In terms of the other doctrines in which Origen's
views were thought to be heretical Bardy shows that Rufinus64 gives in a loose
translation the essential features of Origen's thought. In fact he finds that Rufinus'
translation, compared to the fragments, preserves the speculative and exploratory
character of Origen's thought better than the fragments.65
In summary, the consensus of opinion is that the methods of translation used
by Jerome and Rufinus are such that their work cannot be used for critical
reconstruction of the text. On the other hand, most scholars agree that their
translations faithfully reproduce Origen's thought. We have also learned that the
value of a translation of Rufinus can be determined if special attention is paid to
the prologues which accompany his work. Because the special task of this
investigation is to determine the structure and order of Origen's exegetical
procedure rather than the content of a specific doctrine, it is less vulnerable to
possible inaccuracies in the translation. Having evaluated the reliability of the
sources and having evolved criteria by which to select or reject texts for study, we
are now in a position to lay down a strategy for the succeeding investigation.
62
P. Koetschau, De Princip s (GCS 22,1913) pp. CXXVHI-CXXXVI.
63
G. Bardy, Recherches star I'histoire du texte et des versions latines du De Princip s d'Origene (Paris,
1923).
64
Jerome provides a list of Origen's heretical doctrines: the inner-trinitarian relations, the fall of angels,
the descent of the souls, the resurrection of the deceivers and the final redemption of all creatures, in
Apologia, in Libras Rufini 1,6 (Migne, PL col. 420).
65
Bardy, Recherches, p. 153.

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The Textual Basis 19

Selection of Texts

There remain three problems to be solved. First of all there is simply the
enormous quantity of material. It is clearly not possible to analyze all the homilies
and commentaries. Therefore some principle of limitation within a representative
scope must be established. Secondly, differing exegetical genres of the biblical
books as well as the variation of material within each book will have changing
effects on the exegesis. Thirdly, differences in form and purpose between the
exegesis found in Origen's commentaries and exegesis in the homilies must be
related to a general structure of interpretation common to both.
In the light of these considerations I have evolved the following method. I
have chosen the homilies on the Psalms as a starting point for this study. The
homilies, because they are short self-contained units, offer obvious advantages
over the longer commentaries.66 And the Psalms, because they are themselves
self-contained units with a definite beginning and end, facilitate an examination of
Origen's way of organizing his interpretation of a text more than a book, whose
division into chapters is sometimes arbitrary.
Origen has written extensively on the Psalms - scholia, two commentaries
and a series of homilies.67 In fact, Origen's earliest exegetical efforts were devoted
to the Psalms at Ambrose's request and with his generous provision of the means.
There is another advantage to beginning with the Psalms and that is that Origen's
homilies on the Psalms present us with the simplest form of the allegorical
exegesis in Origen, as we shall see in some detail in a later section.68
There are also disadvantages to beginning with the homilies on the Psalms
since they are preserved for us only in a Latin translation and that by Rufinus.
However, there are several things that can be said in favor of the reliability of the
Latin translation. 1) As we learned above, any evaluation of Rufinus' translation
must take into consideration his own explanation of it given in the prologue, and
there Rufinus states that there were no complications in translating the homilies
for the three Psalms in which the two homilies for Psalm 37 are to be found.69 By
this he means that the doctrinal content was not problematic. 2) Where Rufinus
actually falsifies a text his interest is to correct heretical doctrine. For this reason
his corrections are to be found in texts whose interpretations reveal mystical

64
There are only three Psalms for which a continuous commentary has survived, Psalm 36,37, and 38
(according to the numbering of the LXX). There are five homilies on Psalm 36 and only two on
Psalm 37 and 38. The longer commentary on Psalm 36 makes an analysis of the structure more
difficult. Therefore the homilies on Psalm 37 were used for the analysis and those on Psalm 38 for a
control. The text for the two homilies on Psalm 3 7, which taken together form a complete exegetical
treatment of the Psalm is given in Exegetxa in Psalmos (Migne, PG 12, 1862) cols. 1369-1387.
67
See P. Naurin, Origene, pp. 269-281 for a discussion of the commentaries and scholia and p. 258 for
a list of the homilies.
" Cf. pp. 22-26.
" Rufinus, Praefatio in explanationem Origenis super episttdam Pauli ad Romanes (CChr XX, p. 275).

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20 Introduction

doctrines. But the three Psalms whose homilies he has translated contain moral
rather than mystical doctrines, in his words the "exposirio tota moralis est".70
3) The strongest evidence for the reliability of the Latin translation is that a
comparison of extensive fragments from the Greek commentary offered in the
catenae with the Latin homilies confirmed at every point the authenticity of the
Latin text.71 The cumulative weight of this evidence points to the reliability of
Rufinus' translations of the homilies on the three Psalms.
The second problem, that of determining the influence of various exegetical
genres on the method of exegesis, was solved in the following way. First, the
various genres required identification before a representative text could be selected
from each one. The liturgical practices in Alexandria present us with a clear
picture of how the books of Scripture were classified. The most fundamental
distinction was that between the Gospels and the Old Testament. The Gospel
was read and expounded only at eucharistic services. The Old Testament was
read and interpreted every morning, following the sequence of the Septuagint:
historical books, sapiential books, and prophetic books.72
Of Origen's homilies on the historical books only the homilies on Genesis,
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Joshua and Judges survive in a Latin translation by
Rufinus. The translations of Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus have been glossed by
Rufinus according to his own admission.73 Joshua was eliminated because its
explicit christological interpretation makes it untypical of Origen's treatment of
the historical books. Numbers was preferred above Judges because of its central
position in the historical sequence.74
The homilies on the Psalm examined in Chapter I will serve as representative
for the sapiential books. Of the exegetical works on the prophets only the
homilies on Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel have survived in a Latin translation by
Jerome. The homilies on Jeremiah, however, also exist in a Greek version making
them the logical choice.75
Of Origen's exegesis of the New Testament we possess the homilies on Luke
in a Latin translation by Jerome and the commentaries on Matthew and John in
Greek. For our study of the exegesis of Gospel texts we will use the homilies on

70
Rufinus, Prologs in explanationem Origenis super Psalmos XXXVI, XXXVH, XXXVM(CChr XX,
p. 251).
71
For the sections of the commentary preserved in the catenae, see E. Mhlenberg,
Psalmenkommentare aus der Katenenberliefenmg (PTS 19, 1978) pp. 182-184.
72
P. Nautin, Origene, pp. 389-409.
7J
Rufinus, Prologtts in explanationem Origenis super Psabnos XXXVI, XXXVE, XXXVUI (CChr XX,
P-251).
74
The text of Rufinus' translation of Numbers is given in W. A. Baehrens, Homilien zum Hexateuch
(GCS30, 1921).
75
There are two critical editions of the Greek homilies on Jeremiah, one done by E. Klostermann,
Jeremiabam&en (GCS 6, 1901), the other by P. Nautin, Homelies sur Jeremie (SC 232/238,
1976/1977) which is based both on Klostermann's edition and the later edition of the catena
fragments done by Klostermann as well.

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The Textual Basis 21

Luke - there being no other alternative - and the commentary on Matthew.76


The commentary on John was excluded for two reasons. The commentary is
very long with the result, for instance, that Book I contains a commentary on
only 10 verses. This makes it difficult to study the exegetical procedure for a
single verse. The second reason is that this commentary was written with twin
objectives, to exegete John's Gospel and to refute Heracleon's commentary on
the same. Thus the exegesis of John is not typical of Origen's exegesis of New
Testament texts.
The selection of a text for the purpose of comparing Origen's exegetical
practice in the commentaries with that of the homilies is quite easy since there is
only one book for which we have both homilies and commentary, the Song of
Songs.77 The introduction and the first three books survive in a Latin translation
by Rufinus. Along with this we possess two homilies which were translated into
Latin by Jerome. The commentaries cover chps. 1:1-2:15; and the homilies,
chps. 1:1-2:14; which makes possible a comparison between the exegesis
practiced in the commentaries with that of the homilies.

M. Rauer, Die Homilien zu Lukas (GCS 49,1959) has edited Jerome's translation of the homilies on
Luke. E. Klostermann and E. Benz produced the critical edition of the Greek text of the
Commentary on Matthew, Die griechisch erhaltenen Tomoi (GCS 40,1935), Fragmente und Indices
(GCS 41, 1941/1955).
Both the homilies and the commentary in their Latin translations were edited by W. A. Baehrens,
Homilien zum Hohelied, Kommentar zum Hohelied (GCS 33, 1925).

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I. PSALM 37: CASE STUDY IN ORIGEN'S EXEGESIS

In this chapter we will do a comprehensive analysis of Origen's theory and


practice of exegesis as exemplified in a single Psalm. The results of this study will
then provide the basis for farther examination of Origen's exegesis of different
books in chapters two and three and our articulation of the theological foundations
of his exegesis in chapter four. In the first section we will analyze the formal
structure of Origen's exegesis of Psalm 37. This means reconstructing Origen's
procedure for the interpretation of an individual verse and determining the
organizing principle by which Origen draws the interpretation of individual
verses into a single whole.
In the second section we will give a brief sketch of Origen's theory of exegesis.
For this hermeneutical analysis two sources are used. Origen himself has written
a short treatise on hermeneutics contained in Bock IV. 1-3 of De Principiis. This
is a very important document for our study since it contains both Origen's
doctrine of Scripture and his theology of exegesis. The second source for
Origen's theory of exegesis is his actual practice of exegesis. There are two ways
in which this is useful. First, the theological presuppositions on which specific
exegetical steps are based can be determined. Secondly, Origen is continually
commenting on the process of exegesis as he goes about doing it and this material
gives valuable insights into his theory of exegesis. Therefore in this second section
we will compare Origen's exegetical practice already detailed in section one with
his doctrine of Scripture and his theology of exegesis. This will allow us to give a
preliminary sketch of Origen's theory of exegesis as it is reflected in his practice of
exegesis.
This means that the structure of the first chapter is somewhat complex, since it
contains a study of the exegesis of Psalm 37, both in terms of its formal procedure
and its corresponding theological foundations. The study of the formal structure
is carried forward in chapters two and three. Chapter two examines the formal
structure in terms of the interpretation of the individual verse; chapter three in
terms of the organizing principle for the chapter as a whole. And finally in chapter
four on the basis of this much broader swath cut through Origen's exegesis, it is
possible to give a fuller description of the theological foundations of his exegesis.
Thus chapter one contains in miniature the full canvas of this research project.
Origen's exegesis of the Psalms is a logical place to begin the kind of
investigation that has been proposed. The "allegorical" method of exegesis
appears in its simplest form in Origen's interpretation of the Psalms. His exegesis
of the Psalms is distinguished by the fact that there is no transposition from one
plane of reality to another. The literal or grammatical content of the Psalm does
not provide symbols or figures by which the meaning of the Psalm can be
transposed onto another level. Nevertheless, the two distinct sets of interest

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Origen's Practice of Exegesis 23

which define allegorical method are both present here. There is an exposition of
the historical sense which seeks to clarify, to rationalize and even elaborate the
historical situation referred to in the text. And building upon it, there is an
exposition which seeks to explain the meaning of this historical situation in terms
of the soul, the spiritual life, and the church.1 The remarkable feature in this
exegesis of the Psalms is that Origen's interpretation as it elaborates the meaning
of the text for the soul, the spiritual life, and the church is presented as exegesis of
the original historical sense, and not as exegesis of another and higher content
behind the historical. The allegorical meaning is itself to be found within the
historical sense of the text. This means that Origen expounds the text only in
reference to the original situation of the Psalmist himself. It is an exposition of the
soul of the Psalmist, not of the Psalmist as merely a figure or symbol for some
quite different object. Origen's exegesis of the historical situation of the Psalmist is
simultaneously an "allegorical" exposition of the soul, the church, and the
contemporary spiritual life.

Origen 's Practice of Exegesis

Prologue: Relation of the Psalm to the Hearer

Origen's treatment of Psalm 37 divides naturally into two parts. He provides a


lengthy introduction and then follows with an exegesis of the text. The exegesis of
the text interprets the situation of the Psalmist. But Origen's introduction to this
exegesis is itself a form of exegesis. The introduction is an exegesis of the situation
of his hearers in their relation to the Psalm. In his introduction Origen answers
two questions: what is the Psalm about? and to whom is its interpretation
addressed? He answers the first question in the form of a prologue on the
function of Scripture. In this prologue he employs an artful metaphor: "God,
who created the human body, knew the fragility of the human body, that it was
weak and susceptible to sickness... and therefore he created medicine and
delivered to men the science of medicine".2
Origen's application of this metaphor to the soul sets out the following
relationships. Sin is a sickness of the soul. And pain is its consequence. The cure
for sin is provided through the discourses in Scripture. This cure is administered
by Christ the chief physician and has its setting in the life of the church. Origen's
doctrine of Scripture is intended to establish the relationship between Scripture
and the hearer, who is the focal point of Origen's explanation. It is the hearer who

For a definition of the spiritual sense, see H. Lubac, Exegese Medievale. Les quatres sens d'Ecrittm
(Paris, 1951,1961,1964) p. 203.
"Creator humanorum corporum Deus sciebat quod talis esset fragilitas humani corporis quae...
vulneribus aliisque debilitatibus esset obnoxia: et ideo... etiam medicamema procreavit ex terra, et
medicinae tradidit disciplinam." Ps. 371,1 (Migne, PG 12, col. 1369 B 1-6).

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24 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis

is healed by Christ, who is healed through Scripture, who is healed in the context
of his life in the church.
This is Origen's answer to the first question: what is the Psalm about? It is
about the cure of sins. It is about the relation of the Psalm to the hearer. If he is
healed it will be through Christ's application of Scripture to him in the church.
The second question of the introduction: to whom is the interpretation
addressed? is answered by Origen in a treatment of the theme of the Psaim which
he finds in the first verse: "Rebuke me not in your anger, correct me not in your
wrath".3 He develops this theme from the concept of rebuke itself, rather than
directly from the exegesis of the verse. Rebuke, he explains, is the painful
punishment for sins. He proves that rebuke is a punishment for sin by its
painfulness.
He demonstrates this by describing the bitter and angry response of those
who were rebuked by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah and Christ. Then he turns to
the apostle to show how rebuke ought to be accepted. Those who were rebuked
at Corinth, although the censure was so severe that they were excluded from the
congregation, endured it patiently and were then restored in love. Then Origen
speaks in the first person, of how we suffer when we are rebuked - we who
cannot bear the anger of the bishop's rebuke, how could we endure it if God
confronted us in anger?
From this understanding of rebuke, developed from the situation of the
hearers, he turns for the first time to the text itself which reads: "Rebuke me not in
your anger". And he explains that the Psalmist also understood that there were
many kinds of rebuke and therefore pleads not to be subject to the angry rebuke
of the Father.
The same sequence is followed in Origen's exegesis of the second line of the
verse: "Do not correct (or educate) me in your wrath". Once again he begins
from the concept oipaideia, quoting the apostle: "Now no correction seems for
the moment pleasant, but grievous. But afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of
righteousness to those who have been exercised by it".4 The concept is then
illustrated in the gracelessness with which young students endure the corrections
of their masters, in order to contrast their impatience at this correction with the
far more serious consequences of the corrective measures taken by a displeased
father. Again Origen addresses this concept directly to the hearers themselves: "If
you understand the parable, all presbyters and all deacons educate us and in
educating us apply correction, employing severe words".5
Finally, from this understanding of the concept as it is formed in the situation
of the hearers, Origen turns a second time to the biblical text, to the words of the

3
Frequently the first verse of the text of a Psalm is taken to be a statement of its theme. In the
numbering of the LXX this is v. 2, v. l being the ride.
4
Heb. 12:11.
5
"Si intellexisti similitudinem,... omnes presbyteri vel diaconi erudiunt nos, et erudientes adhibent
correctiones, et verbis austerioribus increpant." ft. 371,1 (Migne, PG 12, col. 1372 A 10.12-14).

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Origen's Practice of Exegesis 25

Psalmist: "Correct me not in your wrath"; in order to set these words in the same
context to which the hearers themselves belong and the same context in which
the theme of the Psalm is established.
What is significant here is the order of the exposition and the content of the
arguments which Origen uses.6 From these it becomes clear that Origen is
primarily interested in developing the relationship of his hearers to the content of
the Psalm. He is exegeting the concepts of rebuke and correction rather than the
verse itself. And he develops these concepts in relation to the situation of his
hearers, rather than in terms of the situation of the Psalmist. Finally, it is the
situation of the hearers which is then used to illuminate the situation of the
Psalmist.
The situation of the hearer is the situation of his participation in the life of the
church. This individual is defined by his relationship to Christ, to the Scriptures,
and to the priests and bishops. This is evident from several sides. First, the
prologue situates the cure of sins within congregational life. Secondly, the
understanding of rebuke and correction is taken from their role in the life of the
church. Finally, the individual in the assembly is explicitly addressed in Origen's
interpretation of vs. 9b-10 and 19ab. Vs. 9b-10 are interpreted by the parable of
the prodigal Christian, whose memory of his life in the church evokes intense
longing. In 19a, Origen shows the whole congregation edified by public
confession and in 19b, weakened by those who participate in the Eucharist with
concealed sins.7
From this perspective we can now see more clearly the significance this
introduction has for Origen's interpretation of the Psalm. Origen asks two
questions: what is the Psalm about? and to whom is the interpretation addressed?
In answering the first question, Origen describes the Psalm as a cure for sin. In
answering the second question, Origen describes the individual in the church.
What is interesting to note here is how the answer Origen gives to each question
simultaneously describes the meaning of the Psalm and its effect on the hearer.
The cure of sins is the subject matter of the Psalm. And the cure of sins is also the
function of the Psalm in the church.
Rebuke and correction are defined from the situation of the individual in the
church, and this definition of their meaning becomes the meaning which these
terms have in the Psalm itself. Origen's introduction to the Psalm, in both the
prologue and the theme, is an exegesis of the situation of the hearer. This means
that both the subject matter and theme of the Psalm are understood from the
situation of the hearer and applied to the situation of the Psalmist, so that exegesis
of this Psalm will subsequently illuminate the situation of the hearer. This is the

The pattern for the exegesis of v. 2 is markedly different from that of vs. 3-23. Here Origen begins
with the situation of his hearer and moves to the situation of the Psalmist, in the succeeding verses he
moves from the situation of the Psalmist to that of the hearer.
It is interesting to note that the catena tradition for Psalm 37 has lacunae at both 9b-10 and at 19ab.
No interpretation is given for these verses.

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26 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis

reason why there is no need for a second stage of allegorical interpretation,


because the original exegesis of the historical situation of the Psalmist already
includes the meaning it has for the hearer. Now we must see how this actually
works in Origen's interpretation of the text of the Psalm.

Interpretation of the Individual Verse: The Exegetical Procedure

Only after Origen has determined the subject matter of the Psalm from the
situation of the hearer is he in a position to begin the exegesis of the text itself. Just
as the questions which shape Origen's introduction develop from the situation of
the hearer, so Origen's exegesis of the Psalm develops from the situation of the
Psalmist. This exegesis is directed by a third question: who is the one who is
praying? This question grows out of the nature of the text.8
The Psalm is a prayer. It is written in the first person. It addresses God as
"You". It is a confession and a self-disclosure. This structure of prayer is
preserved in the interpretation. It is illustrated in Origen's interpretation of v. 3,
where he describes the situation of the Psalmist and then translates this description
into the form of a prayer. Origen begins with the verse: "Your arrows are fixed in
me. Your hand is heavy upon me".9 Then he explains its meaning. The arrows
are words of God piercing the conscience, and his hand is the heavy hand of
discipline. The explanation is then given again in the form of a prayer: "Because
of this I ask not to experience the power of your anger itself, which is portrayed
by the words of Scripture, now my whole body hurts and I am
confounded.. 10
This shows that Origen not only recognizes that he is interpreting a prayer,
but that he also regards the prayer as determining the method of interpretation as
well. Therefore Origen's understanding of prayer provides a useful key to his
method of interpretation. From his treatise On Prayer, we can learn what he
considers to be die important elements of prayer:
"It is essential, then, not only to pray, but to pray as one ought, and to pray for
what one ought. For the understanding of what we ought to pray for is ineffective
unless we know also how we ought to pray. And what use is it to us to know how
to pray if we do not know what to pray for? About these two points: by 'what

8
O.Linton,'Interpretation of the Psalms in the Early Church', 717 79(1961) pp. 143-156 (=St Pair
4), has pointed out that the first question in the patristic exegesis of the Psalms was "Who is
speaking?".
' Psalm 37:3.
10
"Propterea ergo rogo non ipsius irae tuae potentiam experiri,... quae ex solis verbis Scripturae
deformatus, jam doleo omne corpus meum et conturbor" Ps. 371,2 (Migne, PG 12, col. 1374 B
4-9).

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Origen's Practice of Exegesis 27

one ought to pray for' I mean the words of the prayer, and by 'how one ought to
pray' I mean the attitude of him who is praying".11
This quotation gives us the important link between the words of prayer and a
corresponding attitude of the soul in Origen's understanding of prayer. And this
link describes an essential feature of Origen's method of interpretation, that the
exegesis of the words of prayer describes an attitude of the soul, the situation of
the one who is praying. The exegesis of prayer is an interpretation of the soul of
the one who is praying.
We can see clearly how this understanding is reflected in Origen's
interpretation of the Psalm, how the decisive question: 'Who is the one who is
praying?' shapes the interpretation. He interprets the Psalm by reading from the
words of the Psalmist to his corresponding attitude. And this attitude is itself
portrayed in the interpretation. Therefore the question of identity - who is
praying? - is quite distinct from the question of authorship.12
This identification of the one who is praying unfolds throughout the
interpretation. To interpret the text is to establish the identity of the one who
prays. Each step of exegesis yields another dimension of his character. The Psalm
is interpreted sequentially, verse by verse, each verse being treated as a separate
unity, but each verse according to the same common pattern. It is this pattern
which shows how the question: 'Who is praying?' forms Origen's interpretation.
This pattern is a process of four distinct steps and it reveals the essential
method of Origen's interpretation:
In the first step, Origen simply quotes the verse along with the last line of the
preceding verse, so that its interpretation is carried forward. In the second step,
Origen interprets the verse by asking who is the one who can say this, by asking
for the attitude which is revealed in these words. The words of the verse are
placed in the context of the attitude, experience and self-understanding of the one
who speaks them. This is the crucial step reflecting Origen's understanding that
what one says discloses the state of the soul.13
In the third step, Origen addresses his hearers.14 He repeats the interpretation,
but in the first person, exemplifying the attitude of the one who prays, and
thereby sets in the mouth of his hearers a self-confession and self-disclosure as

'' " ' '


. , ,
' . ' , ;
, , , ' '
" Or. (Koetschau, p. 299.12-18), trans. J. O'Meara, Prayer, Exhortation to Martyrdom
(ACW 19,1954) p. 17.
12
Origen assumes that David wrote the Psalm and names him the prophet; it is David who prays, but
it is David as the archetypal penitent who is heard.
1
' The formulae "this one can say" or "this one cannot say" are used to link die words of the Psalm
with die description of die attitudes they presuppose.
14
This address to the hearer is a characteristic feature of Jewish and Hellenistic homilies. See
H. Thyen, Der Stil der j disch-hellenistischen Homilie (FRLANT, NF 47,1955), especially chapter 3.

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28 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis

though the experience of the Psalmist just described had become that of his
hearers.15 In the fourth and concluding step, Origen quotes the verse again, but
this rime laden with all the significance of its interpretation - the words of the
Psalm are now spoken as if by his hearers.
The four steps link together in a natural movement, the first step giving the
actual words of the prayer, the second step describing the attitude of the one
praying, the third step translating this attitude into the form of a first person
confession, and the fourth step tying this confession back into the words of the
Psalm as the hearer's own, and as the opening step for the exegesis of the next
verse.16
We can see now that the question: 'who is the one who is praying?' is a
complex one in Origen's interpretation. When we examine this pattern closely
we see that there are really two who are praying, the Psalmist himself in the first
step, and the hearer in the third and fourth steps, but there is only one situation,
one exposition, one description of the one who is praying.
The decisive step is clearly the second one. In the description of the attitude of
the one who prays these words, Origen describes both the Psalmist and the
hearer, through an identity which they have in common. The question which
controls step two is: 'how can the sinner say these words?' The question which
controls step three is: 'how can the sinner in the church say them?' In answering
the question - who is praying? - Origen chooses an identity which both the
Psalmist and the hearer have in common. In this case it is that of the penitent.
The identity which both the Psalmist and the hearers have in common, is the
identity of the sinner who prays. It is this identity which makes it possible for
Origen to explore the state of the sinner's soul through the Psalm, and in that
exploration chart a way for all following sinners, his hearers. Origen's description
of the one who is praying is formed by reading the text of the Psalm in the light of
the situation of the one who prays this Psalm today. And through this common
identity, the description of the one who is praying in the text becomes the way in
which this Psalm is about me.
Let us look at this crucial transition from description to confession, from the
prayer in the text to the prayer of the hearer. Origen describes the attitude of the
one who prays in v. 7, that he is miserable and that he humbles himself before
God. Origen translates this into the confession: "I never laughed about my sins. I
am never glad. I never tolerate jocularity, but always I am in mourning, always in
penitence, always in sorrow".17 There is no sharp break between the descriptive
There are a variety of ways in which this is done. Origen may speak in the T voice, or 'we' or 'you'.
In the exegesis of some verses the description of the one praying is given directly in the first person
form (vs. 7c, llab, 14,15,16,17).
See Appendix A for an illustration of how Origen's exegesis breaks down into these component
parts.
"Ex quo peccavi, nunquam risi, nunquam laetatus sum, nunquam mihi ipsi aliquid jucunditatis
indulsi, sed semper in moerore fui, semper in poenitentia, semper in luctu." A. 371,5 (Migne, PG
12, col. 1378 B 12-15).

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Origan's Practice of Exegesis 29

and the confessional. The confession evokes and exemplifies the meaning of the
text for the Psalmist, but in a way which the hearer can speak as well. It is not the
particular historical circumstance, but the mood and the attitude of the one who
prays in that circumstance which forms the meaning of the text and the point of
identity between the text and its hearers.
What we have observed so far is that Origen has a system for interpreting the
Psalms. This system can be seen in the repeated pattern of four steps by which he
interprets the Psalm. These four steps can be expressed as a set of four questions
which Origen puts to the text: 1) What are the words of the Psalmist? 2) What
attitude do they express? (How can the penitent say these words?) 3) What
attitude should the hearer have in order to say these words? 4) What should the
hearer pray? This description however, does not give a complete account of the
exegesis of the Psalm. Now we must determine whether the individual units of
interpretation created by the application of this pattern stand in any meaningful
relationship to each other. Does Origen have a program for the interpretation of
the entire sequence in which the verses of the Psalm are arranged? Is there a
system for the interpretation of the Psalm as a whole? Before answering this
question it will be useful to have some idea of the function of the Psalms in the
early church. For this purpose we will include a short excursus on the exegesis of
Psalm 37 by other patristic exegetes.

Excursus: The Journey of the Soul in the Psalms

Origen is not alone in his method of interpreting the Psalm. If we examine the
interpretation of Psalm 37 by three other patristic exegetes - Eusebius18,
Didymus19, and Augustine20 -, we find a fascinating similarity of approach. Each
one interprets the Psalm by giving a description of the one who is praying. And
this description not only reveals the attitude of the Psalmist, but also provides a
pattern for the hearers to imitate. They employ the same single-stage interpretation
which we find in Origen, where in the application of the allegorical method, the
spiritual or allegorical sense is given in an exposition of the historical sense itself.

1
' Eusebius' commentary on Psalm 37 is preserved under the name of Basil and is included with his
commentaries on the Psalms, Homilia in Psalmttm AXfVZf (Migne, PG 30, 1888) pp. 82-104.
" There are two sources for Didymus' interpretation of Psalm 37, the Tura Papyrus, edited by
M. Gronewald, Didymos der Blinde, Psalmenkommentar'(TV, PTA 6,1969) and the Catena tradition,
edited by E. M hlenberg, Psalmenkommentare aus der Katenen berliefenmg I (PTS 15, 1975).
Although the two sources present divergent formulations, die same interpretations are presented by
both. (See E. M hlenberg, Psalmenkommentare aus der fZatenen berUeferung (PTS 19, 1978)
p. 53, for discussion). Both sources were used for this study, although the Tura Papyrus was
preferred since it offers a continuous text for die exegesis of Psalm 37.
20
Augustine's exegesis of Psalm 37 is given in E. Dekkers and J. Fraipont, Enarrationes in Psalmos
I-L (CChr , 1956).

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30 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis

The exegesis of Eusebius, Didymus, and Augustine is directed by the same set
of questions which Origen asks: What is the Psalm about? To whom is the
interpretation addressed? And who is praying? They use a pattern for the
exegesis of each verse which is similar to Origen's. From the words of the text
spoken by the Psalmist they build a description of his situation. And it is always a
situation which the Psalmist has in common with their own hearers. They all
share with Origen a lengthy introduction which precedes the actual interpretation
of the text and which develops the subject matter and theme of the Psalm from an
interpretation of the situation of the hearer. While Origen develops this
introduction through his prologue and treatment of the first verse, the other
exegetes develop the situation of their hearers through an exegesis of the tide of
the Psalm.
The fact that the procedure of these other exegetes parallels that of Origen
indicates that they share with him a common understanding of what the Psalm is
about. This similarity of procedure reflects their agreement on the goal or aim of
interpretation. This basic structure of interpretation remains essentially the same
from Origen to Eusebius to Didymus to Augustine.
But the fascinating aspect of this comparison is the dramatic difference in their
results, both from each other and from Origen. Without an analysis of this
common structure of their exegesis, it would seem that these interpretations bear
no relationship to each other, their content is so divergent. I have studied the
nature of these differences and would like to propose a theory which accounts
both for their similarities in method and for the difference in their results. I have
become convinced that, in the understanding of these exegetes, the Psalms record
the journey of the soul.
They approach the text with the same set of questions, because for each of
them the aim of interpretation is to discover how the Psalm directs the Christian
life. Their interpretations differ from each other in the specific ways in which they
represent different conceptions of this journey of the soul. That is to say their
differences are determined by their respective concepts of the problem of sin, of
the Christian life, how the Christian life is influenced, directed or determined by
Christ, and how the goal of redemption is conceived.
I have used the term "journey of the soul" in this context because the Christian
life is treated here not as a state, but rather as a process. The interpretation of the
Psalms does not just describe the Christian life, but conducts the hearer step by
step through it.2' This characterization of the Christian life as a journey of the
soul is inherent in the patristic understanding of redemption as a process of
restoration or regeneration whose goal is perfect communion () with
God.22

This peculiar character of the Psalms as directing the Christian life becomes a self-conscious subject
for theological reflection by the time of Athanasius. See Athanasius, Epistola ad Marceltinum \ 1-12
(Migne, PG 27, cols. 21-24).
J. Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (Chicago, 1971) p. 155.

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Origen's Practice of Exegesis 31

Their different formulations of the journey of the soul are organized around
common features given in the Psalm itself. First, it is the title of the Psalm which
provides the occasion to discuss the subject matter of the Psalm in terms of a
particular concept for the journey of the soul. V. 4 - "my iniquities have gone
over my head" - allows for the treatment of the problem of sin. Vs. 10-14 and
19-20, which are often identified as the voice of Christ, orient a development of
the theme: imitation of Christ. In vs. 11-12 and 19-20, the Psalmist speaks of his
enemies, which prompts the exegete to speak of the enemies of the Christian life.
These elements in the Psalm make possible a discussion of the Christian life and
so form a common framework of interpretation for the three exegetes.
Let us see how this works in the interpretation of Didymus, and then we can
compare his interpretation with that of Eusebius and Augustine. Didymus begins
his interpretation with an exegesis of the tide: A Psalm of David for Remembrance
of the Sabbath. Here he says, "Sabbath rest means that one lives a life of virtue
and a life pleasing to God and serves him by doing what he desires".23
For Didymus the problem of sin is the fall from an original state of virtue; the
soul incorporated in the body has forgotten what it once knew of virtue and must
learn it again.34 The soul can in this life recover what it lost by "having its abode in
heaven".25 In this state it is dead to the influences and temptations of earthly life,
even to the threat of death.26 The enemies of this heavenly life are the evil angels
who whisper improper thoughts, but in whose presence the virtuous soul
becomes deaf.27 Jesus himself is the pattern for this virtue after which the soul
strives.28 Through interpretation of the Psalm Didymus discovers the pattern for
the journey of the soul for his Christian community.
In Eusebius, we find that the journey of the soul is a preparation for the
eschatological judgment. Therefore he must deal with the problem of sin, which
in Eusebius' interpretation is the fact that the Christian is overcome and
vanquished by his enemies (the powers of evil - vs. 14-15). He has lost, by their
conquest of him, reason, power, the Holy Spirit, and the assistance of the good
angels (vs. 11-13). The Psalm is the means by which he calls on Christ for help,
because it is Christ himself who has met and conquered these enemies, and so
through this Psalm he prepares to face the judgment seat of Christ (vs. 18-19).
Augustine's description of the journey of the soul, which he gives in the
exegesis of the title of the Psalm, is eloquent: "Let us imagine this man, then, who
is recalling the sabbath here, as some kind of mourner. Oh that this somebody

23
" []
" . Gronewald, Didymos der Blinde, Psalmenkommentar (IV. FTA 6,
1969) pp. 134-136.
24
M. Gronewald, Didymos, p. 134.
25
M. Gronewald, Didymos, pp. 144-146.
26
M. Gronewald, Didymos, p. 148.
27
M. Gronewald, Didymos, p. 182.
21
M. Gronewald, Didymos, p. 176.

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32 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis

were ourselves! For he is one who mourns, sighs and weeps, recalling the
sabbath. The sabbath implies rest".29 Through Augustine's interpretation, the
Psalm pictures the one born under the curse of mortality, remembering the hope
of immortality (the rest), wounded by longing and yearning, through the hearing
of these words in the Psalm, miserable and afflicted and humbled when he
remembers this dazzling hope which only lights up the wretchedness of his
present condition (v. 9). For Augustine, the problem of sin is original sin, the
tragic impotence of the human condition (v. 4). Christ is the promise of
deliverance and the model for the suffering patience which awaits this
consummation (vs. 12-23).
The preceding has provided a brief sketch of the dramatically different
interpretations of Psalm 37 which develop out of a set of common assumptions
about the Psalm itself. These assumptions explain how each of the Fathers could
use the same basic method of exegesis in the Psalm and get such completely
different results. All of them understand the journey of the soul and describe both
the situation of the Psalmist and the situation of the hearer. This is the common
basis of their method. It is the differences in their understanding of the journey of
the soul which lead to their strikingly different results in the exegesis of the Psalm.

Interpretation of the Chapter as a Whole:


The Unifying Principle of Exegesis

This common understanding that the journey of the soul is the subject matter
of the Psalm clarifies Origen's method of interpretation. His own exegesis of the
Psalm takes place on one level because for Origen as well the journey of the soul is
the literal meaning of the text. In the first and second step of his exegetical
procedure he describes the journey of the soul for the Psalmist and in the third
and fourth steps, the same journey for his hearers. The interpretation of each
verse moves from the journey of the soul for the Psalmist to the journey of the
soul for the hearers. It is the same journey for both the Psalmist and the hearers
because of the identity they have in common, that of the sinner.
By comparing Origen's exegesis of Psalm 37 with that of other patristic
exegetes, it has been possible to establish that the single stage-method of
interpretation used by each of them is built upon the assumption that Psalm 37
describes the journey of the soul - both the journey of the Psalmist and the
journey of the hearers. Now the task remains to discover how Origen's own
concept of the journey of the soul determines the procedure for his exegesis of
Psalm 37.
Origen's concept of the journey of the soul reflects a common tradition in
platonic philosophy. According to Plato, the ascent of the soul is a process which

29
Augustine, Enarrationes in Psalmos, trans. S. Hebgin and F. Corrigan, St. Augustine on the Psalms
(ACW 30,1961) pp. 329-330.

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Origan's Practice of Exegesis 33

includes an element of purification30 and a step-wise progression in knowledge


culminating in the direct contemplation of the Good.31 This conception is
qualified in Origen's system by the central role of the Logos doctrine. We might
say that Origen's concept of the journey of the soul is paideia, by which he means
the educational and correctional activity of the Logos by which each soul receives
a form of instruction and revelation suited to its peculiar needs. The revelation of
the Logos to each individual is progressive because the soul is transformed by
each new vision of the Logos, becomes more like him, and is thus able to receive a
fuller revelation of him. Origen's doctrine of the pedagogy of the Logos is
articulated in terms of a doctrine of redemption. The journey of the soul as a
progression through successive stages in the knowledge of the Logos is the
process by which redemption is realized and fulfilled in Origen's system.32
The interpretation of the Psalm as a journey of the soul can be identified from
the four step sequence which Origen follows in his exegesis of each verse. The
sequence within each verse (step 1 to step 4) moves from the experience of the
Psalmist to the experience of the hearers. But intersecting this movement within
each verse, there is another movement to be observed, a progression created by
the sequence of verses, running from the first verse to the last. A careful analysis
of this progression from v. l through v. 23 shows that it begins with repentance
and moves toward divinization. According to Origen's understanding of paideia,
repentance is a process of purification and divinization is achieved by imitation.
Thus the progression from v. 1 through v. 23 forms two distinct stages: the first
on purification in vs. 1-11 and the second on imitation in vs. 12-23.
This progression can be illustrated from Origen's portrayal of the one who
prays in each of these verses. In the first stage - purification - he is pierced in his
conscience by the word of God (v. 3). He experiences the power of God's anger,
having seen his judgment portrayed in Scripture. His whole body hurts, and the
pain leads to mortification of the flesh. He contemplates his sin until he becomes
ashamed, distressed and terrified (v. 4). His sins become burdensome (v. 5) and
repulsive (v. 6). He keeps company with his sin and is struck to the ground with
misery. He never laughs, he is always in mourning, in penitence, and in sorrow
(v. 7). He is afflicted and humbled like the one who leaves the sober, chaste, just
life in the church and is driven into misery by his sins, desires with great longing
to return to the former goodness. He offers all that he has sinned to God and
entreats him (vs. 9-11). This first movement of purification ends with a public
confession.
The second stage in this progression is the movement of imitation, by which
the soul comes to resemble God. It culminates in divinization, which means in

30
Plato, Phaedo 66d-67c.
31
Plato, Symposium 210a-212c.
32
See below, pp. 70-85.

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34 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis

Origen, to become gods - that is, to become like Christ.33 This progression forms
the second half of the Psalm in Origen's interpretation; the soul imitates God
when it seeks the good for those who seek to do it evil, as God always seeks the
good for man (v. 13). The soul imitates God by converting its enemies and by
keeping silence when cursed. In Origen's words: "If I imitate his malice, returning
curse for curse, I am made like him, but I am not made like God".34 Similarly, the
soul imitates God in being hated unjustly (v. 21) and by praying to God with the
same certainty and confidence which Christ had (v. 16).
When we ask what is the progressive experience of the Psalmist as Origen
portrays it through the succession of verses j we can see that in the first part of the
Psalm he is experiencing the purification of his sins through the chastising word.
In the second half he is portrayed as one who is seeking to imitate God. When we
ask what is the experience of the hearer as Origen exegetes the Psalm, imitating
the Psalmist's attitude and repeating his words, the answer is the same experience
as the Psalmist's. Origen has a concept of the unity of the Psalm as describing the
Christian life, and he interprets the Psalm accordingly for his hearers. This
unifying concept provides a pattern for interpretation of the Psalm as a whole.
The Psalm is exegeted to show the way it directs the paideia of the soul.
This concept of the unity of the Psalm can be verified from a passage out of his
Commentary on the Songs. Here Origen, in the context of exegeting Song of
Songs 1:6, gives a brief exegesis of the 23rd Psalm. The text is not directly related
to the hearer, and it is interpreted as an allegory spoken by the prophet David.
But the subject matter of the Psalm remains the same, the process of paideia. I
have included the text in the footnotes, since it illustrates so well Origen's
unifying concept of the Psalms and how that concept influences his
interpretation.35 Origen hears David speaking prophetically of the journey of the
soul. The first stage is the lower one, that of simple refreshment; it is followed by
an advance to a higher stage, that of knowledge of the rational and mystical.

33
"He (God) wishes us to be like these (Samuel and Elijah) so that we speak as gods when we speak
with God. He wishes us to be sons of God so that we may be made brothers and coheirs of the Son
of God",
"Vult nos tales esse Deus, ut quasi dii cum Deo loquamur. Vult nos esse filios Dei, ut consortes et
conhaeredes efficiamur filii Dei", Ps. 37 ,3 (Migne, PG 12, col. 1384 4-7).
34
"imitabor illius malitiam, et reddendo maledicta pro maledicris efficior similis illi, sed non similis
Deo efficior." Ps. 37 .3 (Migne, PG 12, col. 1383 B 12-14).
35
"The Lord feedeth me - and I shall want nothing. And because he knew that other shepherds
through sloth or inexperience assemble their flocks in the drier places, he says about the Lord, this
best of shepherds: In a green place, there hath He set me; He hath brought me up on the water of
refreshment, thus making it clear that this Shepherd provides His sheep with water that is not only
plentiful, but also wholesome and pure and utterly refreshing.
And, because he has been changed from his former estate of being a sheep under a shepherd, and has
advanced therefrom to rational and higher things, and has achieved this advance as a result of his
conversion, he says further: He hath converted my soul; He hath led me on the paths of justice for
His own name's sake. But, since he had advanced to the point of entering the paths of justice and

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Origen's Theory of Exegesis 35

Origen's Theory of Exegesis

Origen's Doctrine of Scripture: De Principiis IV Cap. 1-2

Before attempting to explain the theological presuppositions which underlie


Origen's exegetical practice, it will be helpful to form a clear if only preliminary
picture of how Origen himself understands and explains the task of exegesis in its
relation to Scripture and redemption. There is a systematic exposition of this
question in Book IV of De Principiis which we will summarize here.36 But first it

justice itself inevitably has injustice fighting against it - and he who enters the way of justice must
experience struggle with those who oppose him - trusting in faith and hope, the prophet says about
these conflicts: For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for
Thou art with me.
After this, as though returning thanks to Him who had instructed him in shepherd lore, he says:
Thy rod and Thy staff - with which I was appointed to the office of shepherd - they have comforted
me. Then, when he sees how he has been changed over from shepherd pastures to rational meals
and mystical secrets, he goes on to say: Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict
me; Thou hast anointed my head with oil, and Thy chalice which inebriates - how goodly it is! And
Thy mercy will follow me all the days of my life, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord unto
length of days." R.P. Lawson, The Song of Songs (ACW 26,1957) p. 123-124.
"Oominus pascit me' - 'et nihil mihi deerit'. Et quoniam sciebat alios pastures vel ignavia vel
imperitia faciente greges in locis aridioribus collocare, de hoc optimo pastore Domino dicit: 'in loco
viridi, ibi me collocavit; super aquam refectionis educavit me' ostendens pastorem hunc non solum
abundantes aquas ovibus suis, sed et salubres ac puras, et quae per omnia reficiant, providere. Sed
quoniam ab hoc sum, quo ut ovis sub pastore deguerat, conversus ad rationabilia et celsiora profecit
idque adeptus est per conversionem, subiungit et dicit: 'animam meam convertit; deduxit me super
semitas iustitiae propter nomen suum.' Hinc vero quoniamquidem in hoc profecerat, ut iustitiae
incederet vias, iustitia autem habet sine dubio impugnantem se iniustitiam et necesse est eum, qui
iustitiae iter incedit, habere pugnas adversantium, fide confisus et spe dicit de us: 'nam et si ambulem
in medio umbrae mortis, non timebo mala, quoniam tu mecum es'. Post haec vero, quasi gratias
referens ei, qui se pastoralibus imbuerat disdplinis: 'virga' inquit 'tua et baculus ruus' - quibus
institutus videor ad pastoris officium - 'ipsa me consolata sum'. Hinc vero, ubi se a pastoralibus
videt pascuis ad rationabiles cibos et mystica secreta translatum, addit et dicit: 'parasti in conspectu
meo mensam adversus eos, qui tribulant me; impinguasti in oleo caput meum, et poculum tuum
inebrians quam praeclarum est. Et misericordia tua subsequetur me omnibus diebus vitae meae, ut
inhabitem in domo Domini in longitudinem dierum'." Cant. (Baehrens, p. 138. 4-27).
The text of P. Koetschau, De Princips (GCS 22,1913) forms the basis for this analysis. The critical
edition which he prepared is justly criticized by both M. Harl, Origene, Traite des Principes (Paris,
1976) p. ISandH.Crouzel, Origene, Traite des Principes(SC 252,1978)pp. 54-58, for interpolating
into his text indirect witnesses to Origen's version: either excerpts made by his opponents or those
made by followers distanced from him by several centuries of reinterpretation. For Book IV Cap.
1-3 this is not a problem since Koetschau presents the Greek text of the Philocalia (Philocalia I,
1-27). For the sections IV Cap. 3,12-15 the Latin text that Koetschau offers should be read in the
light of the extensive discussion of the state of the transmission given in Crouzel's commentary on
Book IV.

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36 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis

is necessary to understand the relationship between Book IV and the rest of De


Principiis which Origen refers to in the opening lines of Book IV.
Origen's intention to deal with the question of Scripture is already indicated in
the preface.37 The context in which he introduces Scripture sheds a great deal of
light on his ideas of how it should be used. Origen first notes that the tradition of
the apostles gave a complete explanation of some of the elements of the Christian
faith and simply affirmed the existence of others without giving their "ratio".38 In
the next paragraph Origen lists the tenets of the Christian faith that are clearly
formulated in the "preaching of the church". In connection with each tenet of the
Christian faith he notes the unanswered questions39, questions about the "ratio"
and the "quomodo aut unde sint".40 It is in this context that Origen introduces
the subject of Scripture with a "Turn deinde" - it is Scripture that will provide
answers for these questions.41 The answers are contained in the spiritual sense.
The reason why Scripture is the appropriate source for these questions is
given in the first paragraph of the preface. The truth comes from Christ alone,
since he is himself the truth. Those who receive the truth (also expressed as
'scientia') receive it only from the words and teachings of Christ and these are
found nowhere else except in the Old and New Testament.42
Scripture, then, is the source for the answers to questions that are not
addressed in the apostolic tradition. It is the source, in Origen's understanding of
the matter, for all that he has presented in Books -. Now in Book IV he wishes
to show the "reasonableness" of the Christian belief that the Scriptures are divine.
In the first chapter Origen has an argument for the divinity of Scripture drawn
from two distinct sources, from common experience (1,1-2) and from Scripture
itself (1,3-7). In chapter two he describes a way of reading Scripture
commensurate with this understanding of its inspiration.

The Effectiveness of Scripture

Origen's argument for the divinity of Scripture begins with evidence from
historical experience. His proof for the divinity of the Old Testament focuses on
the person of Moses; the proof for the divinity of the New, on the person of Jesus.
The teachings of Moses inspired zeal among many nations for the truths which
they announced. Origen measures the effectiveness of Moses' teaching against
the impotence of the doctrines of the philosophers which failed to win adherents

" Princ. I Praef. 8 (Koetschau, pp. 14-15).


38
Princ. I Praef. 3 (Koetschau, p. 9).
" Princ. I Praef. 5,6,7,10.
40
Princ. I Praef. 8 (Koetschau, pp. 14-15).
4
' "inquirenda iam ista pro viribus sunt de sancta scriptura et sagaci perquisitone investiganda!" Princ. I
Praef. 4 (Koetschau, p. 11.6-7).
42
The philosophers are explicidy rejected as a source for truth in paragraph 2 of the preface.

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Origen's Theory of Exegesis 37

among other groups even though they were presented with convincing
arguments.
With this argument Origen means more than the power of certain teachings
to persuade people of their truthfulness, but rather the power of such teaching to
persuade its hearers to change their way of life and become adherents and
dedicated followers of the truth. This latter point is how the task of teaching was
understood in antiquity, an ideal effectively realized only by the Christians.
The teachings of Jesus, like those of Moses, inspired both "Greeks and
barbarians" to zealously embrace his doctrines, although it meant for some death
and for others confiscation. Further, the doctrines of Jesus were disseminated
everywhere, even though their teachers were so few in number. This points again
to the amazing effectiveness of the teachings themselves as evidence for their
divinity.
Having highlighted this unusual quality of these teachings, Origen moves on
to explain the basis for their power and effectiveness. Jesus, teaching with
authority and persuasiveness, placed himself at the center of his own message and
accurately predicted the effectiveness of his word, that it would spread throughout
the world and that everywhere it would bring men to the truth. This result makes
it clear that "God truly became man and gave to men the saving doctrines
( )". The teachings of Jesus, his religion, the divine writings of
the Old and New Testament 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. The divinity of
the teachings of Jesus is proved by their effectiveness. The divinity of Jesus is
proved both from the divinity of his teachings and from prophecy. The fact that
he accurately foretold the impact of his teachings proves that he was divine.
In the second step of his argument 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. Origen explains the prophecies in sections 3-5 to mean that Christ's
teaching has brought in a new era of righteousness and peace, in which Christ's
kingdom is established to the ends of the world and stretching to the end of time
(Psalm 72:7). The teaching activity of Christ means that "God is with us" (Is.
7:14), with us as the overcomer (Is. 8:8) whose words of grace have overwhelmed
us (Psalm 45:1-3).
This power of the teachings of Christ lies in his own divine power as teacher.
It is because these doctrines came from God, God who was incarnate, that they
have worked so powerfully in human history. It is the teachings of Christ, who
possesses the , which effects the new order of redemption so long
foretold in the prophets. Origen sums up both parts of his argument as follows:

Since we have demonstrated the divinity of Jesus and have used the prophecies
about him for our discussion, we have proved at one and the same time the

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38 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis

divine inspiration of the Scriptures that speak of him prophetically [OT] and
of those which announce his coming and teaching [NT], which were
composed with such power and authority that they won over the elect among
the heathen.43
Because Scripture prophesied the effectiveness of the teachings of Jesus it must
also be divine.
The divine origin of the teachings of Jesus and their presence in Scripture also
prove the inspiration of Scripture and its divinity. The same power at work in the
teachings of Jesus is also at work in the Scriptures. It was there in Scripture from
the beginning, from its inception in the divine inspiration. The purpose and use of
these teachings now, as it was then, is for the transformation of men. The
knowledge that Christ transmits through his teachings "stirs men to live the good
and blessed life".44
But this original divinity of the Old Testament Scriptures was not self-evident,
though the careful reader could perceive traces of it. However, with the coming
of Jesus the divinity of the Old Testament is no longer controversial or ambiguous,
because he himself has illuminated its meaning, i.e. the good things ( )
hidden under the cover of the letter.
In the last part of this first chapter Origen is concerned to show that the
divinity of Scripture extends to all its parts. In this discussion the specific nature of
the divinity of Scripture is brought into sharper focus. Origen contrasts the letter
of Scripture, its banality ( ) and its inability to
persuade, with the illuminating power of its teachings. Here it becomes clear that
the does not lie in the words of the text so much as in the
doctrines () and teachings () of Scripture. It is these which have
the power to persuade. The teachings come
- this is the source of their effectiveness. It is these doctrines and
teachings - the divine content in Scripture - that were hidden and covered over
until the coming of Jesus. They are the hidden for ages and "now revealed
in the prophetic writings and in the appearance of Jesus Christ our Lord and
Saviour".45 In bringing these teachings to light, Jesus reveals the divinity of the
Old Testament.

"
,
,
." Princ.
IV cap. 1,6 (Koetschau, p. 301.8-13,25-30).
"... provocat homines ad bene beateque vivendum." Princ. I Praef. 1 (Koetschau, p. 7.11-12).
"
" Princ. IV Cap. 1,7 (Koetschau, p. 305. 6-8).

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Origen's Theory of Exegesis 39

The Threefold Usefulness of Scripture

In his second chapter Origen explains the proper way to read and understand
Scripture.46 It is a way of reading Scripture which corresponds with the doctrine
of inspiration and follows from the subject matter of his argument in the first part.
In fact the correct approach to interpreting Scripture begins with an understanding
of its inspiration by the Holy Spirit. For those who have grasped the significance
of inspiration are able to see that Scripture contains the mysteries of salvation
( ). Origen goes on to argue that this is true for all parts of
Scripture. Everyone agrees that types () are to be found in the books of the
law, that the prophets contain enigmas and dark sayings, that the Gospels have a
peculiar sense, the christological sense ( ). And it is well known that
mysteries () are hidden in the book of Revelation. Even in the epistles
there are lofty understandings ( ).
Thus far we have been given a brief description of the nature of Scripture.
Being inspired by the Spirit it contains the mysteries of salvation in every part,
from the law to die epistles. But the question is, how does the exegete determine
what these mysteries are and how are they to be correctly interpreted from the
text? For this question it is necessary to have the "key of knowledge" (
) or to know what Origen calls the "way" ().47 Origen believes that
this key to the correct way of interpreting Scripture is to be found in Proverbs
22:20:
"... write these things threefold in counsel and in knowledge (in terms of the
counsel offered and the knowledge revealed) so that the words of truth may be
separated and distinguished for those who pose questions."
Origen paraphrases the verse so:
It is therefore necessary to write the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures three
times upon your soul, so that the simple may be edified by the body of
Scripture, for this is what we call the ready-to-hand interpretation, and the
one who is somewhat further advanced as it were by the soul of Scripture, and
the perfect... by the spiritual law.48

46
Princ. IV Cap. 2,1 (Koetschau, pp. 305-308).
47
The term which Origen uses here is ""; it is equivalent to a manner of reading and
understanding, in his words ( ).
translate this term with our modern word method is claiming too much. We might better call it a
principle of interpretation; it however does many things that a method might do. 1. It serves as a
protection and guarantee against misinterpretation of Scripture (2,1). 2. It makes possible an
interpretation of Scripture which is consistent with the rule of faith (2,2). 3. It provides a consistent
and systematic way of relating the mysteries in Scripture (which all orthodox Christians recognize)
to the literal sense (2,2).
48

" ,
."

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40 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origan's Exegesis

Origen is addressing here the teacher who must interpret Scripture for the
congregation. He is not yet addressing the individual reader. The one who serves
the function of exegete in the assembly must understand that there is an order to
the doctrines which are contained in Scripture and that this order (hierarchy)
corresponds to the differentiated needs of the congregation. Origen has organized
the congregation of all believers into three groups which simply represent the
three distinct phases through which a soul passes on its way to perfection.49
Origen's principle of interpretation is that there are three levels of meaning (or
doctrine) in Scripture which correspond with the differing spiritual capabilities of
each of these three groups.50 We do not as yet have a principle which says that
each verse must be interpreted on these three different levels, a principle which
would be parallel to the medieval four-fold sense of Scripture.51
The three different ways of reading the text can be described as three different
levels of teaching. The first, the body of Scripture, is the unexegeted text as it is
read in the liturgical service of the church. The second level, the soul of Scripture,
belongs to the general category of what is edifying. Its distinctive mark is simply
that it is for those who have advanced beyond the letter, but are not yet ready for
the mysteries. The third level, spirit in Scripture, means understanding the text as
a shadow of the coming blessings. In Origen's view of things, Scripture contains a
progressive ordering of doctrines properly discriminated for the edification of
believers at different stages of growth within the church.

1
, ,
,
. " ,
,
, .. "Princ. IV Cap.
2,4 (Koetschau, p. 312. 3-15).
Cf. pp. 43ff.
The best interpretation of this passage is given by H.J. Spitz, Die Metaphorik des geistigen Schriftsinns
(M nster, 1972) p. 16.
"Das dreifach von Umsicht und Wissen geleitete Beschreiben der Schrift, durch das deren Worte zu
Worten der Wahrheit werden, bezieht Origenes auf den dreifachen Sinn der Schrift als Leib, Seele
und Geist, der in seiner Stufung der Erkenntnis der Einfachen, der Fortgeschrittenen und der
Vollkommenen entspricht. Das Verstehen der Schrift beruht auf der von Gott geschaffenen
Analogie zur menschlichen Natur, die in der dreifachen Auslegung durch die 'aedificario' zur
Vollkommenheit gelangen soll."
The body, soul, and spirit of Scripture in this passage have always been understood to mean the
literal, moral, and mystical senses of Scripture. Therefore each of these meanings should be
developed for each verse, however this rarely occurs in Origen's practice of exegesis. The conclusion
of most scholars is simply that Origen is unsystematic, that his theory and practice fail to coincide.
See H. de Lubac, Histoire et Esprit, p. 141; R.P.C. Hanson, Allegory and Event, p. 236; A. Z llig, Die
Inspirationslehre des Origenes (StrThS V, 1,1902) p. 101.

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Origen's Theory of Exegesis 41

The traditional identification of the body, soul, and spirit of Scripture in


Origen with three separate and self-contained senses of the same text - the literal,
the moral and the mystical senses - cannot be supported from specific textual
arguments.52 Problems with this understanding of the threefold distinction have
already been noted. Nowhere does Origen employ it with any kind of
consistency. In most of his discussions of interpretation he refers only to the letter
and the spirit. Furthermore, an analysis of the structure of his exegesis does not
uphold this interpretation of the different senses in Origen. The identification of a
moral sense is especially problematic. At no point in this text from De Principiis
does Origen give the "soul" of Scripture an independent content. In IV Cap. 2,4
he represents it as progress beyond the letter. In IV Cap. 2,6 he describes it as not
yet ready for the mysteries. Where he elaborates the "soul" of Scripture in more
detail it represents the process of purification which is preparatory for knowledge
of the mysteries.53
What Origen wishes to communicate here is that contained in Scripture is an
order of doctrines which corresponds to the progressive steps of the Christian's
movement toward perfection. It is the task of the exegete to draw out of Scripture
those doctrines which meet the needs of his hearers. There is a simple reading of
the Scripture which is edifying, done at home and in the liturgical services.
Besides that there is an exegesis of Scripture which goes beyond the letter, which
edifies and brings the hearer toward perfection. Beyond this there is an exegesis
which discovers the mysteries reserved for the perfect. The principle expressed
here is that the doctrines which the exegesis of Scripture discovers form an
organic unity. Each stage prepares for the next and is itself dependent upon the
previous stage from which it takes its point of departure. How this principle of
unity and progression actually determines a corresponding procedure of exegesis
is not explained here. We must investigate Origen's own exegetical practice if we
are to see this central hermeneutic-pedagogical principle at work. But that the
principle itself is firmly rooted in Origen's own doctrine of inspiration cannot be
doubted. He turns at the end to the trinitarian formulations with which he began
this second chapter:
Given the above [the three levels of meaning] it is necessary to sketch out the
characteristics of a genuine understanding of Scripture. This must first of all be
understood, that the intention of the Spirit, directed by the providence of
God, through the Logos "who was with him in the beginning" illuminating
the servants of truth, prophets and apostles, was to introduce [educate] them
into the hidden mysteries concerning human existence.54
5z
Origen does not offer, by way of example, two different interpretations of the same text to illustrate
the soul and spirit of Scripture (IV Cap. 2,6), rather he shows that Paul when he interprets Scripture
draws out two different kinds of doctrines, the intermediate and the advanced.
53
Horn, in Num. Di,7 (Baehrens, pp. 63ff.).
54
"
. ,

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42 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis

The purpose of inspiration, that is, the activity of the Holy Spirit in the sacred
writers, was the education of the soul, "for there is no other way to perfection
outside of the riches and wisdom of the truth concerning God".55 The second
purpose of the Holy Spirit in the inspiration of Scripture was the presentation of
these doctrines under the form of history so that the masses might be edified as
well by the literal narrative. The organic unity of doctrine in Scripture is the
original unity of purpose () in their inspiration from the Holy Spirit.56
The purpose of inspiration is paideia, the progressive perfection of the
Christian through assimilation of the saving doctrines. This understanding of
inspiration defines the task of exegesis, to rediscover these doctrines in their
original order and purpose from Scripture in such a way that the Christian
hearing the exegesis is himself "formed" by them. The problem is that not all
Christians are ready for every doctrine and so there is a differentiated use to be
made of Scripture. There are saving doctrines for the beginner, for those who are
advancing, and for the perfect. It is the organization and ordering of the doctrines
which Origen articulates as a basic principle of interpretation in the preceding
chapter. And in this second chapter he has explained this principle of
interpretation through a doctrine of the Holy Spirit, that it was the intention of
the Holy Spirit to teach these doctrines necessary for redemption through the
text of Scripture and that it is this intention of the Holy Spirit which forms the
proper subject matter for all interpretation of Scripture.
Let us note in summary fashion the important things Origen says about the
nature of Scripture and the task of exegesis. In Book IV, chapter 1, Origen tells
both what it is that we find in Scripture and what it is that makes Scripture divine.
Scripture contains doctrines through which redemption is accomplished
( , , ). These doctrines have the power to
convert and to save. They have this power because they are the doctrines that
God himself, God become man, teaches. The effectiveness of Christ's teachings
in his earthly ministry is extended into the present through Scripture, for the
Scripture itself contains nothing other than the saving doctrines which Christ
taught. Finally, these doctrines are present in Scripture, not obviously, but
hidden under the letter.
In chapter two of Book IV Origen expands on his premise that these doctrines
are hidden under the letter.57 He shows that all of Scripture - law, prophets,

" " ,
,
." Princ. TV Cap. 2,7 (Koetschau, p. 318. 7-12).
The Greek term appears as a technical term in Origen's exegesis, it means the intended
meaning of the passage and also the sense which edifies, see below p. 43, n.59; p. 51; p. 126.
Princ. IV Cap. 2,7 (Koetschau, pp. 318-319).
The five hundred year old Hellenistic tradition of exegesis which preceded Origen had already
established die fact of a hidden meaning () behind the text and had already assigned the task
of its discovery to exegesis. See H. Dome, 'Zur Methodik antiker Exegese', 2ZVW65 (1974)

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Origan's Theory of Exegesis 43

gospels, and epistles - contains these hidden doctrines and develops a principle of
interpretation for different levels of doctrine in Scripture corresponding to the
differing capabilities of Christians to profit from the doctrine. The levels of
doctrine correspond to stages of the soul's advance. This interpretation of Princ.
IV Cap. 2 assumes that when Origen divides Christians into three groups they do
not represent fixed classes but stages through which every Christian must pass.58
This is indicated here by the fact that although Origen speaks of three groups, he
mentions them only in reference to how far they have advanced (,
, ). The purpose of Scripture () is the
formation () of the soul. Throughout the homilies and commentaries
Christians are urged to progress from one level to the next.59 Even Origen's
polemic against the "simple" Christians is intended only to provoke their own
advance.60 Origen assigns Christians to different classes not according to their
natures, but according to the degree to which they have exercised their freedom
to progress in the Christian life. Indeed, Origen's doctrine of redemption demands
this understanding of the classes of Christians, for all who reach perfection must
arrive at it through this same progression61 and Origen is convinced that every
rational soul will pass this way.62 The task of exegesis is to draw out of Scripture
those teachings of Christ through which the souls, to whom the teacher addresses
his exegesis, can be advanced toward perfection. Thus we see the main links in
Origen's understanding between Scripture as a document of the teaching Logos
and exegesis as the means by which the soul progresses toward knowledge of the
Logos.

The Theological Foundation: Presence of the Logos in Scripture

Let us now look at how these statements concerning a doctrine of Scripture


and a theology of exegesis determine the procedure for Origen's interpretation of
Psalm 37. In die first section we saw that Origen actually transformed each of the
verses of the Psalm into doctrines or teachings having to do with the redemption
of the soul ( ). In the second section we saw that Origen has

pp. 121-138. It was however the Alexandrians, Philo and Origen, who organized the exegesis of
this hidden sense into a path for the ascent of the soul, thereby establishing the sacred text as a guide
for the process of redemption.
51
J. Lebreton, *Les degres de la connaissance religieuse d'apres Origene', RSR12 (1922) pp. 265-296,
argues for fixed groups of Christians, M. Harl, Origene et la function revelatrice du Verbe Income
(PatSor 2,1958) pp. 264-268, argues for a hierarchy of stages rather than of classes.
59
Horn, in Num. 1,3 (Baehrens, pp. 6ff.) ,2 (Baehrens, pp. lOff.); Horn, injer. VUI,9 (Klostermann,
pp. 62f.) DC,4 (Klostermann, pp. 68ff.); Horn, in Cant. ,4 aehrens, pp. 47-49) 1,2 (Baehrens,
pp. 29-31).
60
Dial. -XIV (Scherer, pp. 148-152).
61
Princ. Cap. 11,4 (Koetschau, pp. 186-187); Cap. 2. 5-7 (Koetschau, pp. 188-192).
" Princ. Cap. 6,3 (Koetschau, pp. 283-285); Cap. 5,6 (Koetschau, pp. 276-277).

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44 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis

arranged these doctrines in such a way that they correspond to the stages through
which the soul must pass on its way to perfection. The doctrines taught by the
Psalm have a pedagogical order. Let us observe in detail how this works.
From Book IV Cap. 1, we know that the word of Scripture is the word of
Christ and therefore has a double function. As the word of Scripture it describes
the cure for sin. As the word of Christ it is itself the cure for sin. The reader not
only sees himself in the interpretation of the Psalm, but is acted upon by the
words of the Psalm, in that he is confronted with Christ, the Word in the Psalm.
Origen first explains in the prologue that sin is cured by Christ through the
word in the setting of the church. The hearer, who realizes in the course of the
interpretation that he is the sinner, is cured by Christ through this encounter with
Scripture. The Psalm itself is the pedagogical process whereby the soul is
conducted out of sin toward perfection, because Christ teaches the Psalm.
It is clear that in Origen's exegesis Christ is not himself the subject matter of
the Psalm. We do not hear the voice of Christ praying in the Psalm. But we hear
the voice of Christ in the interpretation of the Psalm. Christ teaches the Psalm.
Christ is the one who effects purification in the first stage. And he is the one who
effects divinization in the second stage. And in both stages he acts as the teacher.
In the prologue Origen has said that the medicine for the soul is to be found in
the words of Scripture. This medicine is administered by the Savior, the chief
physician.63 Christ is the agent of this activity in Scripture. In his role as teacher
the work of education, correction, punishment is done by him through the word,
his word - in this case, the word of the Psalm. This is commensurate with
Origen's statement in De Principiis IV Cap. 2, that the purpose of Scripture is the
formation of the soul through knowledge of mysteries or doctrines. The doctrines
in the Psalm are effective because they are the teachings of Christ.
In the first stage of purification, Christ the teacher is present in the role of
physician. The cure which he effects is not so much the healing of sin, as the
healing of desire to sin.64 The prescription for this ailment is given in the form of
precepts. The manner in which these precepts effect the cure is explained in the
prologue: "This Psalm teaches us that it is fitting after sin to confess sin and hold
the fault in memory, that through the memory of the trespass, the heart stirred
and agitated over its sin is checked and called back from its trespass, that it not
6
commit such again.""65

65
Ps. 37 1,1; Origen's use of the physician metaphor should not distract us from the fact that this
physician effects his cure by teaching. That is already indicated in the fact that the cure is discourses
of Scripture and that Origen calls the discipline of medicine a rational science.
64
65
a. 77ft.
"primo hoc nos docet hie psalmus, quod convenit post peccatum confiteri peccatum, et in
memoriam recordari delictum, ut per recordationem culpae stimulatum cor et concitatum pro
delicto suo, interim refrenet ac revocet, ne quid tale ultra committal" Ps. 371,1 (Migne, PG 12, cols.
1369 D 11-1370 A 1).

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Origen's Theory of Exegesis 45

Christ teaches that sin can be cured by confession and recollection. Confession
removes sin and when done publicly drives out the passions.66 Recollection,
which Origen understands as contemplation, cures sin because it eradicates the
desire for sin. In contemplation the soul is stirred and agitated, a form of pain
which leads to mortification of the flesh.67 This mortification is intensified when
the soul contemplates the wrath of God.68 By teaching these precepts Christ
cures sin. The word which he speaks in this Psalm accomplishes the work of the
physician because it produces the pain which leads to repentance and because it is
itself the remembrance of sin.
At the second stage of the journey, the stage of imitation, Christ is present as
the teacher who effects divinization. With this goal of the journey in mind, the
soul is taught always to seek the good (v. 13), return good for evil (v. 13),
reconcile its enemies (v. 13), to be silent in the face of accusation and not to seek
revenge (vs. 14-15), to pray with confidence to God - with the same confidence
as Christ prayed (v. 16). Origen explains that such actions enable the soul to
become a son of God, because these actions imitate God.
This imitation of the attributes of God has as its goal becoming sons of God.
The precise form of sonship is given in Christ. It is through the imitation of God
that we become like Christ. And therefore the imitation of God presupposes
Christ as the model, not in the sense that we imitate Christ, but that in imitating
God we become like Christ. Christ both gives the teaching and provides the
model. And the Psalm itself, when held in memory, will grant the soul the ability
to perform these godlike acts (v. 14).
Christ is not only present in the Psalm as the teacher. He is also present within
the world of the Psalm to the one who hears. This is made clear in the four-step
sequence by which Origen exegetes each individual verse. The hearer first
recognizes the words of the Psalmist, then understands the attitude of the
Psalmist's soul, then places himself in that same attitude and finally speaks the
words of the Psalmist for himself. Because Christ is the healer, the one who
rebukes and educates, both in the Psalm and in the church, there is a double
answer to the question who is healed, who is rebuked, who is taught?
It is both the Psalmist himself and the hearer. The identification of the hearer
with the one who prays in the Psalm is made explicit in the exegesis of v. 3: "For
thy arrows have sunk into me." The arrows are the words of God, words of
rebuke and correction, and are themselves the cause of the pain which the
Psalmist experiences. They pierce not only the Psalmist, but also the hearer,
producing in him the same experience as described in the Psalm.

66
A. 37, , (Migne, PG 12, cols. 1380-1382).
67
Ps. 371,2 (Migne, PG 12, cols. 1372-1376). This agitation is described in detail in the interpretation
of vs. 3-16.
68
Ps. 37 U (Migne, PG 12, cols. 1372-1376).

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46 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis

Let us examine this section more closely to see how this identity between the
hearer and the Psalmist is related to the presence of Christ in the Psalm. Origen
first proves that arrows are the words of God. Then he explains that the piercing
arrow refers to the pain God's word produces in the heart of its hearer. "The one
who speaks the word of God hurls arrows... the one who receives the words of
God so that his heart (is) pierced and stirred to repentance.. ,"69 Next Origen
proves that God's word never flies in vain, that it never misses its mark. He
emphasizes this by explaining that if anyone is not pierced by this arrow, then he
is dead and incapable of remembering his sins and therefore can only be cured by
the final judgment.
Origen then invites the hearer to enter the world of the Psalm: "Would that all
would hear us, stung and aroused by these things which are said, turning in
penitence would say to the teacher, seeing that your arrows are fixed in me, that
you punish us by the word of God, that you chastize, that you pierce us in the
inner reaches of our conscience, you establish your hand over us."70 This prayer
is addressed to the teacher. But in Origen's explanation the teacher here is the one
who confronts both the hearer and the Psalmist.
The Psalmist encountered this chastizing teacher through his correcting word.
The hearer himself is confronted by the same word. This word that moves the
hearer is the Psalm - the reading of it, the exegesis of it, the preaching of it. It is the
same teacher who is addressed by the Psalmist and addressed by the hearer. It is
the same word of God which has moved the Psalmist and now moves the hearer.
The form of the word of God which the Psalmist encountered is not clarified. But
the form of the word of God which addresses the hearer is the Psalm itself and its
interpretation.
Christ the teacher and word of God, belongs both to the world of the Psalm
and the world of the hearer. That is what makes it possible to transpose the hearer
into the world of the Psalm. The Psalmist who addresses the teacher can be
exchanged with the hearer of the Psalm who addresses the same teacher in the
same way. Origen's interpretation does not seek to make the Psalm relevant or
applicable by showing that the experiences of the hearer are recapitulated in the
Psalm. The interpretation does not relate and recreate the Psalm within the world
of the hearer, but rather it lifts the hearer into the world of the Psalm, so that the
experiences of the Psalmist become his experiences.
The Psalmist is humbled and crushed and mourning. The hearer entering the
world of the Psalm makes these experiences his own. He becomes the one with

"Qui ergo loquitur sermonem Domini, sagittas jaculatur... Qui ergo ita suscipit verba Domini, ut
ex his quos audit sermonibus cor suum configatur, et... ad poenitentiam suscitetur..." ft. 371,2
(Migne, PG 12, col. 1373 A 10-11.13-16).
"Atque utinam omnes nos audiant compuncti et stimulati ex his quae dicuntur, atque ad
poenitentiam conversi dicant ad doctorem, quoniam sagittae tuae infixae sum mihi, et dum castigas
nos verbo Dei, dum verberas, dum in interioribus nos conscientiae percutis: Confirmasti super me
manum tuam." ft. 37,1,2 (Migne, PG 12, col. 1374 A 3-9).

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Origen's Theory of Exegesis 47

whom the teacher is dealing. He becomes the recipient of the correcting word.
Once the hearer is transposed into the world of the Psalm, then the interpretation
leads him, step by step, through the experience of the Psalmist from repentance to
divinization. It is only within the world of the Psalm that this educational process
can take place. And die church is the essential setting for this process, because it is
the place where the word is spoken and where Christ teaches in the person of his
successors.
The hearer must be transposed into the world of the Psalm so that the word
can act upon him. The goal of the interpretation is an encounter between Christ
and the nearer within the world of the Bible. In this encounter the hearer is
brought into the movement of the Psalm. The experience of the Psalmist becomes
his own experience - the movement of the soul from purification to imitation
through the word as physician and as teacher.
Let us summarize here the results of the preceding analysis. In the Prologue
Origen places the hearer in a specific relationship to the Psalm through a
definition of its subject matter. (The subject matter is equivalent to the spiritual
application.) Thus Psalm 37 has "been handed down" as a cure for sin and this is
the effect it should have upon the hearer through its exegesis. In the pattern which
Origen uses for the interpretation of each verse we begin to see how exegesis of
the Psalm produces this effect. Through the four-step sequence the hearer is
placed in the same position as the Psalmist. He is to imitate (step 3) the attitude of
the Psalmist (described in step 2) and repeat the words of the Psalmist (step 4),
thereby making his participation in the experience of the Psalmist complete. This
experience of die Psalmist is an experience with the correcting () and
teaching () Logos and the experience of the hearer through the Psalm -
itself a word of the same Logos - is also an experience with the correcting and
teaching Logos. Through the Psalm the hearer experiences rebuke and becomes
aware of his sin, and seeing the spectre of God's judgment (again through the
word of the Psalm), he is distressed and grieved (which he expresses and relives
through the words of the Psalm).
These experiences all serve to correct the habit of sin. Following them the
hearer is taught by the Psalm to imitate the attributes of God and so to cultivate
the habit of virtue. This movement from the correction of sin to the imitation of
the virtues of God is the journey of the soul which Origen uses as an organizing
framework for the interpretation of the chapter as a whole. This way of
interpreting makes it possible for the Psalm to be a cure of sin for the hearer. It is
truly a cure for sin because Christ himself is the one who teaches in the Psalm,
who rebukes, corrects and effects in the hearer this cure for sin.
We can now see that at every point it is Origen's doctrine of Scripture and
theory of exegesis which determine his exegetical practice. He believes that
Scripture contains the teachings of Christ. This, as we have seen, is what he draws
out of the literal sense; in the case of the Psalm, it is the teachings on the process of
purification and divinization that Origen discovers in the text. That the teachings
of Scripture are the teachings of Christ comes to its most powerful expression in

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48 Psalm 37: Case Study in Origen's Exegesis

the fact that Christ is actually made present through his teachings so that hearing
the teachings of Christ is to be in the presence of Christ himself.
Origen's conviction that there is a pedagogical order to the doctrines in
Scripture is reflected in his organization of the doctrines within the homily in an
ascending order corresponding to his understanding of the process of redemption.
Thus the teachings of Christ in Scripture correspond to steps in the journey of the
soul. The hearer who progresses step by step through these doctrines is being
conducted by the teaching Christ through the processes of purification and
imitation toward the goal of perfection.

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. PROCEDURE OF ORIGEN'S EXEGESIS

In this chapter we will analyze the procedure of Origen's exegesis for each
individual verse. This means that we will be considering the small units of
interpretation from which a complete commentary or homily is composed. The
purpose of this analysis is to determine whether the exegetical procedure Origen
has used for the Psalms is also applied to other scriptural books belonging to
different exegetical genres. Therefore this chapter will include a study of the
procedures for the interpretation of Jeremiah, Numbers, Song of Songs, Luke,
and Matthew.1
We will begin with the homilies on Jeremiah since they are the only homilies
transmitted in Greek and therefore allow us to examine the specific terminology
which Origen uses to identify and distinguish the different steps of his exegesis.2
Next in order we will study the homilies on Numbers, which present striking
contrasts to Origen's exegesis of the Psalms and of Jeremiah. Our study of the
Song of Songs will allow us to compare Origen's exegetical procedure in a
homily with the procedure he follows in a commentary, since both are available
for the same passage in this book. This comparison will show whether there is a
common method in Origen's exegesis of both homilies and commentaries or
whether two distinct methods of exegesis must be accounted for, one especially
suited to preaching and the other designed for a more theoretical and reflective
approach. The study of Origen's exegesis in the Song of Songs will thus combine
an analysis of his procedure of interpretation and the comparison of that
procedure between its application in the homilies and in the commentaries. In a
final section of this chapter we will examine Origen's exegesis of the Gospels in
the homilies on Luke and the commentary on Matthew. We shall see that
Origen's exegesis of the Gospels has striking differences from his exegesis of the
different books in the Old Testament, differences which come to light through
the detailed comparison of his exegetical procedure in the Gospels (including
both homilies and commentary) with the results gained from the analysis of his
procedure in the exegesis of the Old Testament books.
The method used for this investigation was first to identify the repeating units
of interpretation within each homily or commentary. Then the constitutive
elements of each of these units were identified and the order of their appearance.
The results of this analysis showed that there is a distinct pattern for interpretation
for each exegetical genre. For the purposes of presentation we will describe each

For a discussion of the principle of selection see pp. 19-21.


It was not possible to study Origen's exegetical terminology in our study of the interpretation of the
Psalms because the homilies survive only in a Latin translation.

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50 Procedure of Origen's Exegesis

pattern of interpretation by analyzing the first unit of interpretation in each


exegerical genre. In order to illustrate how this pattern is repeated throughout a
homily, we will include a schematic analysis for the homilies on Jeremiah in
Appendix B.

Jeremiah

The homilies on Jeremiah belong to a genre of exegesis different from that of


the Psalms. Origen's interpretation of the Psalms takes the words spoken by the
Psalmist as its starting point, where the interpretation is formed through
identifiying who is the speaker and the situation and attitude in which he is found.
It is the goal of this interpretation to locate the hearer or reader within the
situation of this speaker and to place the words of the text in the mouth of the
listener so that he can appropriate them as his own. Therefore Origen ends the
exegesis of each section with a repetition of each verse as spoken by the listener. In
contrast, the starting point for interpretation in Jeremiah is either the historical
narrative or the words of prophecy.3 Both are forms of the literal sense in
Jeremiah. From either of these forms Origen derives a teaching or doctrine which
he then applies to his hearer. There is no repetition of the words of the text by the
hearer as we see in the Psalms. Here the reader is related to the text in a different
way. He does not identify with the speaker nor does he speak his words. Rather
the words of the text are always spoken to him, and the goal of Origen's
interpretation is to make clear the meaning of the words as they are addressed to
the hearer. The individual units of interpretation are identifiable by the repeating
pattern of a prophetic word or historical narrative combined with the teaching
which is derived from it.4
Let us look first at the exegetical steps within each unit of interpretation, both
those which are formed by interpretation of the prophetic word and those
formed from the interpretation of historical narratives. In Homily I on Jeremiah
the first such unit is an interpretation of historical narrative. The text which
Origen comments on, Jer. 1:1-3, simply reports a list of the kings under which
Jeremiah prophesied and the years of his prophetic activity.
In step one Origen reads the three verses. In a second step their literal sense is
explained and filled out, with missing details provided as a reconstruction of the
historical situation. Origen designates these two steps as the exposition of that
which is stated .5 The third step seeks to expose the intention of the text

3
For instance, Jer. 1:1-3 is historical narrative; Jer. 1:4-10 contains the words of prophecy.
4
See Appendix for a schematic presentation of the units of interpretation for Homily 1.
5
Horn, in Jer. 1,12 (Klostermann, p. 10. 13); IV, l (Klostermann, p. 22. 5); IV,2 (Klostermann,
p. 24. 4).

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Jeremiah 51

( ) which is something that lies beyond that which is stated.6 The


intention of the text is to teach something and specifically to teach the hearer.7
The teaching which Origen derives from the history given in Jer. 1:1-3 is that
God condemned Jerusalem because of her sins and was at the point of delivering
her into captivity, but at that moment out of his love for men, God sent his
prophet under the third king before the captivity; then again under the second
king before the captivity; and also under the king who ruled during the captivity.
God further demonstrated his long suffering in that he also sent his prophet after
the captivity had already taken place. Origen distills from this history the
teaching that the longsuffering God, out of his love for men, exhorts those who
hear him to repent and escape the sufferings which captivity brings. This teaching
already corresponds to the meaning of the text for his hearers. Origen introduces
his fourth step this way: "And these things apply also to us. If we sin we shall also
become captives, delivered over to Satan the way the Israelites were delivered up
to Nebuchadnezzar".8
Origen designates these last two steps as expressing the meaning which lifts
the soul, . This meaning of the text is contraposed to the meaning
that is stated, .9 Origen sets as well over against the intention
of the text, making it clear that the inner intention of the text is equally
the edifying meaning which lifts the soul.10
The individual unit of interpretation for the exegesis of prophecy is quite
similar in its procedure. The second homily on Jeremiah is an interpretation of
Jer. 2:21-22. In the first section of his homily Origen exegetes the words of the
prophecy: "How is it that you have become bitter and a wild vine?". He gives the
words of the prophet in his first step. In his second step he clarifies the literal
sense. According to Origen's interpretation, the prophet is placing a problem or
question before his hearers. Since God created all things good, where does sin and
evil come from? This interpretation of the literal sense leads, in step three, to an
explanation of what these words of Scripture wish to teach. The teaching is this:
In the beginning man, made in the image of God, bore the image of the heavenly.
But now, on account of sin, he bears the image of the earthly. Origen applies this

6
Horn, infer. 1,2 (Klostermann, p. 2.8); , (Klostermann, p. 20.15); IV,1 (Klostermann, p. 22. 7);
IV,2 (Klostermann, p. 24. 4). The term is also used, though not as frequently. See 1,1
(Klosterrnann, p. 1. 8).
7
Following the explanation of the literal sense, Origen poses the question:
; Horn, in Jer. 1,2 (Klosterrnann, p. 2.18).
8
" , , .
' '
,
." Horn, in Jer. 1,3 (Klostermann,
p. 3. 3-8).
9
Horn, in Jer. 1,12 (Klosterrnann, p. 10. 13-14).
10
Horn, in Jer. IV,1 (Klosterrnann, p. 22. 5-7).

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52 Procedure of Origen's Exegesis

teaching in step four to the hearer: "Let us bear once again the image of the
heavenly by being transformed (turned back from our sins)".11
In both forms of the basic unit of interpretation the hearer is related to the text
through the teaching which is derived from the literal sense and applied directly
to him. In the sections which interpret historical narrative the hearer is placed in a
situation analogous to that of Israel, so that the same meaning of the text is applied
to him. In the sections which contain prophecy the text is exegeted as though it
were addressed to the hearer himself. In both cases we see the same single
movement of interpretation already observed in Origen's exegesis of the Psalms,
a movement from the literal sense to the teaching of the text to its application to
the hearer. It is a continuous movement in that each stage of the interpretation is
drawn out of the preceding one and forms the basis for what follows. The
teaching and its application to the hearer are both derived from the initial reading
of the literal sense and together form a single interpretation of the text.

Numbers

According to Origen, the book of Numbers belongs to the series of books


which recount the history of Israel, a history which begins with the Exodus from
Egypt and reaches its culmination in the possession of the promised land.12 This
history reveals "the magnificence of the good things that are to come,
foreshadowed in images of the law".13 The "good things to come" refer to the
eschatological destiny of the people of God, to their inheritance of the spiritual
promises concerning their life in the new Jerusalem.14 The sacred history of the
people of Israel images the spiritual history of the new people of God as they
"come up out of the Egypt of this world and advance toward the promised
land".15
This history forms the point of departure for the exegesis of Numbers, for it is
the history which is itself the image of the heavenly realities. Consequently, it is
not the words of the text which provide the initial basis for the interpretation, as
in the Psalms and Song of Songs, but rather the history which they recount. Since
it is the history which carries the spiritual meaning, the units of interpretation are
constructed differently for Numbers than they are for the Psalms and the Song of
Songs. The units of interpretation are built upon the various facets of the history,

"... ' ' '." Horn, injer. , (Klostermann,


p. 17. 15-16).
Horn, in Num. XXV .2 (Baehrens, pp. 155-156).
"Et per haec ostendimus 'futurorum bonorum' magnificentiam in legis imaginibus adumbratam."
Horn, in Num. , (Baehrens, p. 9. 1-2).
Princ. Cap. 11,7; IV Cap. 3,9 (Koetschau, pp. 191-192; pp. 335-336).
"egrediens de mundi huius Aegypto et ad terram repromissionis" Horn, in Num. , (Baehrens,
p. 8. 23-24).

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Numbers 53

rather than upon the sequence of verses in the text. It is this history which forms
the literal sense in Numbers.16
For example, the first chapter of Numbers lists the numbers of fighting men in
each tribe. Origen's homily on this chapter is organized around four related
features of this history: 1) the significance of counting the warriors; 2) the concept
of an armed Israelite force (virtus); 3) the point in time at which the numbering
took place; and 4) the nature of the tribes and the meaning of their arrangement
within the camp. These four topics, which Origen has extrapolated from the
historical material in the text, provide the starting point for his interpretation in
Numbers.
Let us look more closely at the first segment of the interpretation - the
significance of counting the warriors - to see how it has been constructed by
Origen. First, Origen begins with a recapitulation of the historical situation. This
summary of the history reaches beyond the boundaries of the text and seeks to
reconstruct the historical detail behind it in order to gain a wider basis for its
interpretation. Origen explains that the women and children were not counted,
nor were slaves or any of the Egyptians, nor strangers, nor barbarians. None of
these groups are mentioned in the text. These details arise from Origen's own
reflection on the historical material.
In his second step Origen gives the spiritual meaning (audiamus spiritaliter) of
the exclusion of the above groups from the numbering of Israel. The uncounted
children, women and barbarians belonging to the literal sense represent the souls
still entangled in the passions. The third step is Origen's application of this
spiritual teaching to his hearers.
This present reading of the Scripture teaches me that if I pass beyond the
ignorance of childhood ... I will be worthy of being counted in the divine
number... But if any of us persists in a childish or irresolute thinking or
feminine weakness ... or barbarian conduct... we are not worthy of being
counted in the holy number.17
Origen justifies the movement from step one to step two by appealing to a
Pauline principle. The law (by which Origen means the Pentateuch) is spiritual
and therefore it must be spiritually understood and spiritually interpreted.18
Furthermore, the "law contains a shadow of the good things to come" and
therefore can be interpreted to disclose the mysteries of the life to come.19 The

See Appendix C for a schematic presentation of the units of interpretation.


"Docet enim me praesens lectio quod, si transcendero puerilis aetatis insipientiam ... dignus divinis
numeris computabor. Donee autem inest alicui nostrum vel puerilis et lubricus sensus vel feminea...
segnities... vel... gerimus... barbaros mores, haben... in sancto et consecrate numero non
meremur." Horn, in Num. 1,1 (Baehrens, p. 4. 8-16).
Ibid.
"'futurorum bonorum' magnificentiam in legis imaginibus adumbratam." Horn, in Num. ,
(Baehrens, p. 9. 1-2); Horn, in Num. 1,3 (Baehrens, pp.6-8).

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54 Procedure of Origen's Exegesis

corresponding movement from step two to step three is justified in two ways.
First, the inspiration of Scripture requires that it contain mysteries whose purpose
is the advancement of the soul to perfection.20 Therefore the last step of the
interpretation must show how the text edifies the hearer.2' Secondly, since the
subject matter of the book is the spiritual progress of the new people of God, the
second step of interpretation - the explanation of the spiritual sense - must
already contain teachings on the spiritual life which apply to the hearer.
Although it differs considerably from that of the Psalms and Jeremiah, the
pattern for Origen's interpretation of Numbers still represents the same single,
unified movement from the text to the hearer in which the relation of the hearer
to the text is already determined in the interpretation of the spiritual sense. The
interpretation relates the hearer to the text by placing him within the movements
and history of spiritual Israel. In this way it is the experience and history of the
people of Israel spiritually understood, which conduct the hearer himself toward
the promised inheritance.

Song of Songs

The Song of Songs is the only book of the Old Testament for which we have a
continuous commentary.22 It is therefore our only source for the study of
Origen's exegetical procedures as it is practised in a continuous commentary. We
are fortunate in that we also have homilies which contain the exegesis of the same
text that are commented upon in the commentary, thus we also have the
possibility of comparing the exegetical procedure of the commentary with that of
the homilies for the same scriptural text.23

The Commentary

We will begin our study of the exegesis of the Song of Songs with an
examination of the commentary, since Origen's prologue to this work gives a
fuller explanation of his exegetical program than is offered in the homilies. In
Origen's estimation the Song of Songs is a song presented in the form of a

20
"Si vero sequentes Pauli sentenam 'legem spiritalem esse' credamus et spiritaliter quae conrinet
audiamus, ingens profectus animae in his, quae scripta sunt, apparebit" Horn, in Num. 1,1 (Baehrens,
p. 4. 5-8).
21
Horn, in Num. 1,1 (Baehrens, pp. 3-4).
22
Fragments from most of Origen's commentaries on Old Testament books have been preserved in
the catena tradition, see R. Devreesse, 'Anciens commentateurs grecs de l'Octateuque', RB 44
(1935) 170-179.
23
The two surviving homilies on the Song of Songs cover 1:1-2:14, the four remaining books of the
commentary exegete 1:1-2:15.

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Song of Songs 55

drama.24 Because of this unity of dramatic form Origen treats the Song of Songs
as a single entity. Divisions within this entity occur when there is a change of
speakers. For this drama Origen identifies four: the bride, the bridegroom, the
maidens and the friends of the bridegroom. Further divisions are created by
changes in the dramatic situation. For example Book I of the commentary is
divided into the following units: l:2a - spoken by the bride to God in the
bridegroom's absence; 1:2b - spoken by the bride to the bridegroom on his
sudden appearance; 1:3 - spoken by the bride to the bridegroom; 1:4a-b -
spoken by the bride in the presence of the maidens; 1:4c-4f - spoken by the bride
after running after the bridegroom with her maidens.
Each of these units of interpretation contains the same pattern of interpretive
steps. The first step is a presentation of the words of the verse, since it is the words
of this dramatic song which carry the meaning rendered by Origen's exegesis.2 5 If
we follow his exegesis of the first verse of the Song of Songs we will see that
Origen begins by quoting the verse: "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his
mouth". In a second step Origen seeks to identify the speaker and to reconstruct
the dramatic situation in which the words were spoken. The bride is addressing
God in the absence of the bridegroom. He has sent gifts for a dowry, but these do
not satisfy in the light of his absence and so in longing she prays to God saying:
"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth." Here Origen repeats the verse,
now enriched with the significance of the dramatic situation to which it belongs.
The third step is Origen's reinterpretation of the words and the dramatic
situation into die context of the church. The gifts with which the bride is sated are
the law and the prophets, both bearing revelations of the bridegroom. But the
kisses of the bridegroom are the words which he speaks directly and without
mediation when he is present in the flesh. Origen's fourth step is to reinterpret the
words and their dramatic situation into the context of the progress of the soul. In
this context the gifts sent by the bridegroom (Christ in this stage of the
interpretation as well) are natural law, reason, and free will, as well as the
instruction of her teachers. These gifts do not bring the soul the perfect fulfillment
for which she longs, and so she prays for the kisses, which are perceptions and
visions of the divine, not through human agency, but mediated directly by the
word of God himself. In the fifth step Origen speaks in the "we" voice and sets his
reader into the same dramatic situation as it has been applied to the soul and says:
As often, therefore, as we find some problem pertaining to the divine teachings
and meanings revealed in our heart without instructors' help, so often may we
believe that kisses have been given to us by the Bridegroom-Word of God.

24
Cant. Prologus (Baehrens, p. 61).
25
"But this same Scripture teaches us what words this august and perfect Bridegroom used in
speaking to the soul, or to the Church, who has been joined to Him.", "Sed et magnificus hie ipse ac
perfectus sponsus quibus verbis usus sit ad coniunctam sibi animam vel ecclesiam,..." Cant.
Prologus (Baehrens, p. 61. 9-10) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs (ACW 26,1957) p. 21.

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56 Procedure of Origen's Exegesis

But, when we seek the meaning of something of this sort and cannot find it,
then let us make this prayer our own and beg from God the visitation of His
Word, saying: "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth".26
The sequence of the steps one to five constitute an integrated movement of
interpretation from the words of the text to the reader of the commentary who is
set within the same dramatic situation as the one given in the text.27
This continuity is created by the fact that each step grows out of and is
dependent on the preceding one. For instance the dramatic situation provides the
necessary explanation for how the bride in v.l can pray for the bridegroom's
kisses and in v.2 be speaking to him. The explanation of the text in terms of the
church is dependent on the elaboration of the dramatic situation. Christ is the
absent bridegroom, the dowry gifts which he sent are the law and the prophets
and the kisses for which the Bride-church prays are Christ's teachings. The
explanation in terms of the soul is drawn from this - her dowry gifts are natural
law, reason, and free will and she prays for spiritual teachings. The direct
application to the reader is drawn from the interpretation for the soul, he should
pray for spiritual understanding.
What this interdependency shows is that the dramatic situation is extrapolated
from the words of the text, the teachings on the church are drawn from the details
of the dramatic situation, the church is the model for the soul, and the soul is the
model for the reader. This is an intentional and reflected procedure, for which
Origen lays the groundwork in his prologue. The reader is identified with the
soul; the soul speaks the same words which the church speaks. These are the
words presented in a marriage hymn of Solomon's:
The Scripture before us therefore, speaks of this love with which the blessed
soul is kindled and inflamed toward the Word of God. It sings by the Spirit the
song of the marriage whereby the Church is joined and allied to Christ the
heavenly bridegroom, desiring to be united to him through the Word.28
It is the soul that is moved and incited by participating in the marriage song of
the church and Christ. The reader is to imitate the soul, who imitates the church.
The soul provides the model for the reader as the church provides the model for
the soul. They are like parallel lines which converge at the point of infinity, Christ

"Quoriens ergo in corde nostro aliquid, quod de divinis dogmatibus et sensibus quaeritur, absque
monitoribus invenimus, totiens Oscula' nobis data esse ab sponso Dei Verbo credamus. Ubi vero
quaerentes aliquid de divinis sensibus invenire non possumus, tune affectu orationis huius assumpto
petamus a Deo visitationem Verbi eius, et dicamus: Osculetur me ab osculis oris sui"." Cant. 1,1
(Baehrens, p. 92. 5-11) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 62.
See Appendix D for schematic presentation of units of interpretation.
"Hunc ergo amorem loquitur praesens Scriptura, quo erga Verbum Dei anima beata uritur et
inflammatur et istud epithalamii carmen per spiritum canit, quo ecclesia sponso caelesti Christo
coniungitur ac sociatur desiderans misceri ei per Verbum." Cant. Prologus (Baehrens, p. 74.10-14)
trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 38.

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Song of Songs 57

himself. These three: reader, soul, and church, resemble each other in their
common quest for the perfection and consummation which is found in Christ.
This resemblance is underlined by the fact that Origen has each of the three
speaking the words of the text which serves as a leitmotiv in this interpretation:
"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth".
Now we need to see how Origen justifies the passage from step two, which is
the love song of Solomon, to step three, which is a description of the church.
Origen establishes in the prologue that the marriage hymn of Solomon is a
revelation on the love between Christ and the church. This question belongs to a
discussion of the theme of the book. Origen first shows that the same term can
have two meanings, one that applies to the outward man and one that applies to
the inner.
It is perfectly clear that in these passages the names of the members can in no
way be applied to the visible body, but must be referred to the parts and
powers of the invisible soul... the names plainly and without ambiguity
carry meanings proper to the inner, not the outer man.29
There is by way of analogy a love which is proper to the outer man and one
which is proper to the inner. The Scripture speaks here in Origen's interpretation,
of the love which is appropriate to the inner man - love for God. It is not possible
for the text to be about love in respect to the natural or carnal man, "and it will
seem to be the Divine Scriptures that are thus urging and egging him on to fleshly
lust".30 Therefore the theme of the Song of Songs is spiritual love. Once Origen
has established this then he can interpret the Song of Songs as a description of the
love between Christ and the church or between Christ and the reader. When we
examine the five steps of the interpretation that pass from the bride to the church
to the soul to the reader, we see that Origen is following a procedure in the
commentary on the Song of Songs that parallels that of the homilies on Jeremiah
and Numbers. For the steps of the interpretation form a single unified movement
from the text to its spiritual meaning to the reader.

The Homilies

The homilies on the Song of Songs present the material given in the
commentary in much more condensed form. The text passage 1:1 - 2:15 is
covered by 180 pages in Origen's commentary, while 1:1 -2:14 takes up only 35

"Ex quibus evidenter ostenditur membrorum haec nomina nequaquam corpori visibili aptari posse,
sed ad invisibilis animae panes virtutesque debere revocari, quoniam vocabula quidem habent
similia, aperte autem et sine ulla ambiguitate non exterioris, sed interioris hominis significantias
gerunt." Cant. Prologus (Baehrens, p. 66.4-8) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 28.
"et occasione divinae scripturae commoveri et incitari videbitur ad libidinem carnis." Cant. Prologus
(Baehrens, p. 62. 17-18) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 22.

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58 Procedure of Origen's Exegesis

pages of the corresponding homilies. Consequently, the unit of interpretation for


the homily is considerably more abbreviated than in the commentary. Although
Origen does not present a detailed program for his interpretation in the homilies
as he does in the commentaries, there are still several repetitive elements forming
a well-recognizable pattern.3' 1) Each unit of interpretation begins and ends with
the repetition of the words of the verse. 2) The words are given a dramatic
context through Origen's elucidation of the story which they unfold. 3) Key
words are explained, either in the form of an extended paraphrase or through a
study of the term from other biblical contexts. 4) The hearer is incorporated into
the interpretation, sometimes placed in the situation of the bride, sometimes into
that of the accompanying maidens.
Let us see how these four elements work together in Origen's interpretation
of vs. l-2a of the first chapter. In step one Origen repeats the words spoken by
the bride: "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth", and "Thy breasts are
better than wine and the odor of thy perfumes better than all spices". In his
second step Origen explains the dramatic situation. In Origen's account the first
phrase is a prayer addressed to the Father, who hears and sends the bridegroom.
When the bridegroom comes the bride leaves off her praying and addresses him
directly in the second phrase: "Thy breasts are better than all spices". In a third
step Origen gives the meaning of these words. The bride has already received
kisses from the mouths of Moses and the prophets; now she wishes to receive
kisses from Christ himself. The bride becomes sweet smelling when Christ
comes to her with his spices and touches her lips. Then Origen directs the
interpretation toward his hearers in the fourth step saying: "If the Bridegroom
has touched me, I too become of a good odour... that I can say with the
apostles: We are the good odour of Christ in every place".32
It is interesting to note here that the interpretation of the Song of Songs which
is given in the homilies of Origen, takes place only on the level of its allegorical
meaning. The entire Song is read as an exchange between Christ and the church
and the elaboration of the dramatic situation from the language of the text has
been dropped. Origen's explanation of the story already casts the characters in
their roles as Christ and as the church right from the start. In the homilies Origen
does not distinguish between the contextual layers of the text in terms of the
bride, the church, the soul and the hearers. All of these distinct levels of
interpretation are collapsed into one; the Song is read immediately and directly as
the drama of love between Christ and the church.
This means that specific reference in the homily to the bride and bridegroom
as the subject of Solomon's drama has been omitted, as well as any special
reference to the soul. But what remains the same is the single movement of

31
See Appendix E for schematic presentation of units of interpretation.
12
"Si me tetigerit sponsus, et ego 'boni odoris' no ..., ut possim cum Apostolis dicere: 'Christi bonus
odor sumus in omni loco'." Horn, in Cant. 1,2 (Baehrens, p. 30.12-14) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of
Songs, p. 269.

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Song of Songs 59

interpretation that we have observed in the commentary which incorporates the


hearer into the text at the same time as it develops the spiritual meaning, in a single
movement from the words of the text to a description of the perfect church to a
call to the reader to imitate the bride in what she says to the bridegroom.

Similarities in Exegetical Procedure

What are the important differences between this interpretation given in the
homilies from the one we have already analyzed in Origen's commentary? Each
interpretation in the homilies has a parallel in the commentary, but the focus of
interpretation in the commentary is distinct from that in the homilies. The
homily interprets the Song of Songs by discovering in it the excellence of Christ.
The commentary however, reveals the excellence of Christ in a specific form, as
the excellence of his teachings. The concept of teachings does not even appear in
the homily and yet it is the main theme of Origen's commentary. But the actual
content of the interpretation remains essentially the same in both. For instance,
the commentary in 2:2b identifies the breasts as the "heart or mind of Christ"
which is a reference to his teaching. The wine to which the breasts are compared
is the ordinances and teaching from the law and the prophets. In the homily after
the same discussion of the term "breasts" occurs, but without identifying them as
the teaching of Christ, Origen says: "Be you of one mind with the Bridegroom,
like the Bride, and you will know that thoughts of this kind do inebriate and make
the spirit glad"33 (emphasis added). The specific focus on teaching or doctrine can
be seen in yet another way in the commentary. When Origen identifies a symbol
or allegorical image in the text, he develops the significance and wider setting of
that image in a systematic way. He explores the biblical usage of the same
symbolism in other passages, taking care to draw parallels from the New
Testament as well as the Old. He includes discussion within the commentary
itself of questions which arise from the interpretation he is giving and do not
originate in the text as such. For instance, the original point about the superiority
of Christ's teaching to the teachings of the law and prophets gives rise to an
additional question not found in the text at all about their relationship to each
other.
This doctrinal and more systematic emphasis in the commentary can be seen
in Origen's exegesis of v. 4b. In the homily, Origen treats the phrase "thy name is
as perfume poured forth" as a prophecy about the coming of Christ. Its exegesis
is quite distinct from that of the other verses. It is not treated as part of the love
story between Christ and the church, nor is any attempt made to shape the
exegesis toward the participation of the hearer in the same movement, but it is
simply handled on the pattern of prophecy and fulfillment. In the commentary

"Communica ut sponsa cum sensibus sponsi et scies quia 'inebrient' atque laetificent isriusmodi
cogitatus." Horn, in Cant. 1,3 (Baehrens, p. 32.12-14) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 271.

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60 Procedure of Origen's Exegesis

on the other hand, the exegesis of this same verse elegantly formulates a doctrine
of the kenosis.
For the sake of these young souls, therefore, in their growing and abundant
life, He who was in the form of God emptied Himself that His name might be
as ointment emptied out, that He might no longer dwell only in light
unapproachable and abide in the form of God; but that the Word might be
made flesh, and so these maiden souls at the beginning of their progress might
not only love Him, but might draw Him to themselves.34
Where the homily provides a simple identification of the prophecy and its
fulfillment, the commentary unravels the full theological import behind it. This
emphasis both on doctrine and the corresponding understanding of the reader
can be seen in the way that the reader is himself drawn into Origen's interpretation
of the text. The reader is called to participate with his understanding in the
mysteries by imitating the maidens.
When they have received the fragrance of His ointment and have grasped at
last the reason for His coming, the motives of his Redemption and Passion,
and the love whereby He the Immortal went even to the death of the cross for
the salvation of all men ... then these maiden souls... run after him.35
The commentary and the homilies give essentially the same interpretation for
this verse - the coming of the incarnate Logos - but the commentary presents this
interpretation in the form of an exposition of the underlying doctrine and task of
understanding.
These differences between the commentary and the homily cannot be fully
accounted for simply on the basis that the homily is a condensation of the
commentary. They are composed with different audiences in mind. The
commentary presupposes the more advanced Christian ("the perfect soul").36 At
the end of each exegetical unit where the participation of the reader in the
meaning of the text is explicitly drawn out, Origen provides a relevant description
of the soul reaching perfection. The homily, on the other hand, is more concerned
with the beginner who requires purification before he can approach the mysteries.

"Propter istas ergo animas 'adulescentulas' et in augmentis vitae ac profectibus positas 'exinanivit se
ille, qui erat in forma Dei', ut fieret 'unguentum exinanitum nomen" eius, ut non iam 'inaccessam
lucem' tantummodo 'habitaret' et 'in forma Dei' permaneret, sed 'Verbum caro fieret', quo possent
istae 'adulescentulae' et in augmento profectuum positae animae non solum diligere, sed et 'trahere'
eum 'ad se'." Cant. 1,4 (Baehrens, p. 102. 2-8) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 75.
"ubi 'unguentorum' eius fraglantiam ceperint, rationem dumtaxat adventus eius et redemptionis ac
passionis causas caritatemque eius agnoverint, qua pro salute omnium 'usque ad mortem crucis'
immortalis accessit... animae plenae vigoris ... 'currunt post ipsum'" Cant. 1,4 (Baehrens, p. 102.
12-17) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 76.
Origen uses the term "perfect soul" for those who are ready to understand the mysteries; "perfect"
does not mean that the soul has reached the highest level of its development, but rather that it has
freed itself from vice and established itself in virtue such that it is now able to receive the mysteries.

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Song of Songs 61

This point can be clearly seen in the respective interpretations of the first verse. In
the commentary Origen says:
As often, therefore, as we find some problem pertaining to the divine teachings
and meanings revealed in our heart without instructors' help, so often may we
believe that kisses have been given to us by the Bridegroom-Word of God.
But, when we seek the meaning of something of this sort and cannot find it,
then let us make this prayer our own and beg from God the visitation of His
Word, saying: 'Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth.' For the Father
knows each single soul's capacity and understands the right time for a soul to
receive the kisses of the Word in lights and insights of this sort.37
The homily on the other hand is addressed to those who are still involved in
the process of purification:
If the Bridegroom has touched me, I too become of a good odour... But we,
although we hear these things, still stink of the sins and vices concerning
which the penitent speaks through the prophet saying: My sores are putrefied
and corrupted because of my foolishness.38
The hearer to whom this homily is addressed is engaged in the process of
purification. The purpose of this homily is to draw the soul to Christ by picturing
his excellence and beauty in contrast to our still abject condition. The commentary
on the other hand is addressed to those who are already progressing in knowledge
and leads the soul toward Christ by disclosing and elaborating the excellence of
his teachings.
Notwithstanding these differences in the audience for the commentary and
for the homily, the underlying procedure of exegesis remains the same for both.39
In both the interpretation begins with the text and is only completed with the
participation of the hearer. In both the inner meaning of the text is a drama of the
love between Christ and the church. The two works differ from each other in the
ways that the hearer or reader is brought to participation in the spiritual meaning

"Quoriens ergo in corde nostro aliquid, quod de divinis dogmatibus et sensibus quaeritur, absque
monitoribus invenimus, totiens Oscula' nobis data esse ab sponso Dei Verbo credamus. Ubi vero
quaerentes aliquid de divinis sensibus invenire non possumus, tune affectu orarionis huius assumpto
petamus a Deo visitarionem Verbi eius, et dicamus: Osculetur me ab osculis oris sui'. Seit autem
pater uniuscuiusque animae capacitatem et novit in tempore, cui animae quae Oscula' Verbi
porrigere in intellectibus dumtaxat et sensibus debeat." Cant. 1,1 (Baehrens, p. 92.5-13) trans. R. P.
Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 62.
"Si me tetigerit sponsus, et ego 'boni odoris' fio... Nos autem, cum haec audiamus, adhuc peccaris
viriisque foetemus, de quibus per prophetam paenitens loquitur: 'computruerunt et corruptae sum
cicatrices meae a facie imprudenriae meae'." Horn, in Cant. 1,2 (Baehrens, p. 30.12-17) trans. R. P.
Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 269. See also Horn, in Cant. 1,6; ,.
E. Klostermann, 'Formen der exegetischen Arbeiten des Origenes', TbLZ 72 (1947) pp. 203-208,
surveying the discussion of the differences between the homilies and commentaries agrees with his
predecessors that the principle of exegesis is the same for both.

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62 Procedure of Origen's Exegesis

of the text. In the commentary the reader is to identify himself with the soul of the
fourth step in the exegesis. What he is to do and what he has to understand
parallels the words and action of the church, from which the interpretation in the
fourth step is concretely derived. This is given explicit form in the concluding
section of Origen's exegesis of the first segment or unit of interpretation. Once he
has established that the kisses or inward illumination is a gift of divine grace, he
instructs his reader to repeat the words of the Song: "Let him kiss me with the
kisses of his mouth". In the homily the reader is also instructed in how to take his
place within the drama. The entire interpretation is unfolded on the one level of
Christ and the church as we have already mentioned above. The hearer is to enter
into this drama, either by repeating the words of the bride if he is able, or failing
that, then the words of the companions. If he still cannot reach this level, then he
may enter the drama at the level of the maidens.
When you have grasped this (the identitiy of the characters), listen to the Song
of Songs and make haste to understand it and to join with the Bride in saying
what she says, so that you may hear also what she heard.40
The goal of interpretation for the homily is to inspire spiritual love. The goal
of interpretation for the commentary is the progress of the soul in knowledge of
the mysteries. It advances through imitation of the perfect church. The exegetical
procedure for both is the same. Origen begins from the text and in a single
interpretation of the spiritual meaning incorporates the reader or hearer in the
drama of the text. The explanation of the text establishes at one and the same time
the inner meaning of the words and calls the hearer into the text to speak the
words as his own. In this way the interpretation of the biblical text leads the soul
toward Christ, through the concrete images of him created in the homilies or
through the exposition of the doctrines concerning him in the commentary.

Gospel

In studying Origen's exegesis of the Gospels it quickly becomes clear that we


are dealing with a distinct exegetical genre, an exegesis that is distinct both in its
interpretive procedures and in the basic relation of the reader to the text. In
analyzing this genre we will not only identify the key pattern for Origen's
interpretation of the Gospels, but also work out the fundamental differences
between Origen's exegesis of the Old and New Testament. For analysis of
Origen's exegesis of Gospel we will study his procedure of interpretation in both
the homilies on Luke and the commentary on Matthew. Following this we will
discuss the difference between Origen's exegesis of the Old Testament and the

40
"Et cum haec intellexeris, audi 'canticum canticorum* et festina intelligere illud et cum sponsa dicere
ea, quae sponsa dich, ut audias, quae audivit et sponsa." Ham. in Cant. 1,1 (Baehrens, p. 29.10-12)
trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 268.

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Gospel 63

New. The fact that we are dealing with a difference in genre is first indicated by
the similarity of elements in the interpretation of both homilies and commentaries.
We find the same elements which formed the basic structure of Origen's Old
Testament exegesis: repetition of the text, explanation of its literal sense, the
spiritual teaching to be drawn from the literal sense, other supporting texts and
the teachings which are drawn from them, finally the application to the hearer or
reader. However these same elements are differently organized in both homilies
and commentaries on the Gospels. They form a distinct structure of exegesis in
Origen's interpretation of the New Testament.

The Homilies on Luke

Origen's first homily on Luke follows the natural boundaries of the pericope.
It is an exegesis of Luke 1:1-4. The divisions of the homily are clearly marked by
the citation of the text. The first verse is divided into three sections, each one
considering a key term or concept. A teaching is derived from each section of the
verse so divided. Each section is clearly marked by the quotation of the verse, or
part of the verse, in which the concept occurs. The basic structure of the homily is
built up from these alternating units.41 To take a series of short examples, the
phrase "many have attempted" teaches that the normative gospels are only those
written under the direction of the Holy Spirit; "concerning these things" teaches
that the Gospel contains those things concerning Christ which ought to be
believed; "most clearly manifest" teaches the certainty of faith founded on the
true knowledge of the Logos.
Let us examine one of these units more closely. Origen begins the homily by
quoting Luke 1:1: "Many have attempted to compile a narrative of the things
which have been most clearly known (manifestissime) by us". Origen's
explanation runs as follows: Just as there are true prophets and false prophets,
and the gift of the discerning of spirits is required to distinguish between them, so
there are also true gospels and false gospels. There are only four true gospels,
since only four writers of gospels were filled with the Holy Spirit. Clearly, the
teaching which Origen derives from this first verse is the inspiration of the
Gospels. But equally significant is the structure of this exegesis. The pattern for
interpretation of the Gospels consists of only two steps: repetition of the text and
explanation of the teaching which is derived from it.
This two-step pattern is repeated six times and it is only at the end of this
homily that Origen addresses the hearer directly and relates the hearer to the
interpretation of the text.
One might think that it is a person called Theophilus for whom the Gospel is
written. But all of you who are listening to me speaking, if you are men truly

See Appendix F for a schematic representation of these.

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64 Procedure of Origen's Exegesis

loved by God, you also, you equally are the theophili and the Gospel is
written to you.42
This pattern deviates considerably from the basic pattern we observed running
through Origen's interpretation of a wide variety of Old Testament texts, where
the interpretation of each verse is completed in the application of the teaching to
the hearer. In the homilies on Luke the basic pattern for each unit of interpretation
is simply the verse and then the teaching. The relation to the hearer is not
indicated until the end of the homily and, even then, it does not directly relate the
hearer to all of the teachings which have been derived from the pericope. Before
discussing the significance of this fundamental variation in the pattern of Origen's
exegesis, it will be useful to analyze the same structure of exegesis in Origen's
commentaries on the Gospels. For this purpose we will make use of his
commentary on Matthew.43

The Commentary on Matthew

Origen's procedure for interpreting the Gospels in the commentaries parallels


very closely what we have already found in the homilies. The pattern of
interpretation for each verse is actually identical with that of the homilies. The
verse is broken down into its separate parts and the commentary considers each
one in turn, deriving an element of doctrine or a teaching from each component
part before proceeding to the next. Here as well there is no application of the
teaching to the reader, no placing of the reader within the interpretation of the
text as, for example, in the commentary on the Song of Songs. The process by
which Origen derives the teaching is more complex in the commentaries than in
the homilies, in a way that is parallel to the differences between homily and
commentary in the Song of Songs. A description of the pattern of interpretation
of Matt. 13:36 will illustrate most of the variations.44
First, there is the quotation of the verse: "Then he left the crowds and went
into the house and his disciples came to him." Next, Origen provides a short
clarification of the historical sense, that Jesus is outside his house whenever he is
speaking to the multitudes. The spiritual teaching is derived from this
circumstance, that Jesus' love for men consisted in abandoning his house and

42
" , ,

, ." Ham. inLc. 1,1-4 (Rauer, p. 10.1-2;
229. 1-9)
43
Since Origen devotes one entire book just to the exegesis of John 1:1, it is more difficult to study the
structure of the exegesis of a single verse in the commentary on John than the commentary on
Matthew, therefore the choice of the latter for this analysis.
44
Comm. in Aft. X, l (Klostermann, GCS 40, pp. 1 -2). See Appendix G for a schematic representation
of Book X of the Commentary on Matthew.

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Gospel 65

moving to be close to those who could not come to him. The same procedure is
followed for the second part of the verse, but without repeating the verse again.
First, there is a clarification of the literal sense: "After he had spoken enough with
the multitudes in parables, he left them and entered his house, where the disciples
joined him, because they did not remain with those he left".45 This text is
compared with the version in John (1:35-39) and further clarified. Then Origen
draws the spiritual teaching from this second part of the verse: Among those to
whom it was given to go with Jesus and see his house, the most distinctive became
apostles. Only after this second unit of interpretation is complete does Origen
address his reader and explain that if we do not wish to hear Jesus the way the
multitudes did, whom he left in order to enter his house, then we should adopt
attitudes that distinguish us from the multitudes and become intimates of Jesus.
The pattern for Origen's interpretation in the commentary is citation of the
verse and explanation of its literal sense, followed by the elucidation of a spiritual
teaching which is derived from the literal sense. Variations on this pattern can be
seen in the not uncommon use of a supporting text, so that the teaching rests on
the literal sense of both texts. In a further variation questions created by an
apparent contradiction between the text which is being interpreted and another
biblical text are resolved, and in the process of resolving that contradiction a
teaching is derived (contradiction in the biblical text always points in Origen's
scheme toward a spiritual and hidden meaning).46 Finally, the literal sense may be
expanded by information from natural history. In this case both the text and the
material from natural history form the basis for the derivation of the spiritual
meaning.47 With these variations the basic pattern of verse citation, explanation
of the literal sense, spiritual teaching, is followed throughout the commentary.
Each distinct segment of the commentary is composed of several of these basic
units of interpretation, each of which repeats the same basic pattern, and it is only
the segment or sub-division as a whole which is concluded by a direct reference to
the reader and the application of the spiritual teaching. Thus the same structure is
to be found in the commentaries as we have already seen in the homilies. In
Origen's exegesis of the Gospels for both homilies and commentaries, the
application to the reader or hearer appears only at the end of the pericope and is
not related to each individual teaching which makes up that segment or sub-
division. This is a significant departure from Origen's interpretation of the Old
Testament where the application to the hearer forms an integral part of each
individual unit of interpretation and is inseparable from his exegesis of the
spiritual meaning.

Comm. in Mt. X,l (Klostermann, GCS 40, pp. 1-2).


Princ. IV Cap. 2,9 (Koetschau, pp. 321-323).
Comm. in Mt. X.7-10 (Klostermann, GCS 40, pp. 6-11).

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66 Procedure of Origen's Exegesis

The New Testament in Origen's Exegesis

This difference between the pattern for exegesis of the Gospel and the pattern
for exegesis of the Old Testament books indicates that a different hermeneutic
principle is at work in Origen's interpretation of the Gospels. In his introduction
to the commentary on John, Origen explains the peculiar characteristics of the
Gospels and why they must be interpreted in a special way.48 The Gospel, he
explains, differs from the Old Testament in that it announces a present good,
while the Old Testament foretells a coming good. With this definition of Gospel
Origen goes on to show that all the books of the New Testament are gospel,
which means they all announce the coming of Christ and produce his coming to
and presence in the soul.49 Here, as in every one of his other prologues, there are
two parts to his definition of gospel. First, there is a statement of the subject
matter: The Gospel announces good things. Then there is a statement of its
usefulness for the hearer: It makes Christ present to the soul.50 The good things
which the Gospel announces and makes present are nothing other than Jesus
Christ, for he is himself every good, life, light, truth, etc.5'
In Origen's explanation there are two aspects to the Gospel. There is the
sensible gospel ( ) and the spiritual or intelligible gospel
( ).52 The task of interpretation consists in
the movement of understanding from the sensible to the spiritual gospel. By
sensible gospel Origen means the ordinariness of the words in which the good
news is proclaimed and the limitation and particularity of the historical events in
which it is embodied.53 By spiritual gospel Origen means the divinity of Christ,
the revelation to us of that divinity in such a way that we can participate in him.
This can be seen in Origen's interpretation of Matt. 13:36 which we have briefly
reviewed above. The historical moment of Christ going out to the crowds
signifies on the plane of Origen's spiritual interpretation the event of universal
scope which is Christ's coming in the flesh for all men.

48
We have no prologue to the Commentary on Matthew, since the surviving portion begins with
Book X. We do, however, have the prologue for the Commentary on John and it forms an excellent
source for Origen's understanding of the nature of gospel and the way it should be interpreted.
49
"Every gospel is a treatise which announces a benefit to the one who believes, a goodness which
causes rejoicing, teaching the coming of Jesus Christ, the first-born of the whole creation, for all men
for their salvation."
" ,
, , '
' ' ."
Jo. 1,5 (Preuschen, p. 10. 2-5); see also 1,3 (Preuschen, pp. 6-7).
50
Jo. I, 4 (Preuschen, pp. 7-9)
51
Jo. I, 8-9 (Preuschen, pp. 13-15); cf. pp. 119-121.
52
Jo. I, 7 (Preuschen, pp. 11-13).
53
Jo. I, 3 (Preuschen, pp. 6-7); 1,4 (Preuschen, pp. 7-9).

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Gospel 67

Understanding of this spiritual gospel means direct or face-to-face knowledge


of the mysteries of the Son, which is identical with participation in him.54 The
Gospel differs from the Old Testament in that Christ proclaims himself without
intermediaries in the Gospel.55 It is this difference between the Old and New
Testament which is reflected in the different exegerical procedures which Origen
uses for each. In Origen's interpretation of the Old Testament the hearer
progresses in the knowledge of the Logos through participation in the spiritual
growth or progress of another - of the Bride, or the Psalmist, or Israel (understood
allegorically in Numbers, historically in the Psalms). But in his interpretation of
the Gospels the hearer no longer requires this spiritual intermediary. In the
interpretation of the Gospels the hearer stands directly before the Logos, before
Christ. His experience of Christ is not mediated through another's experience of
him, as it always is in Origen's spiritual exegesis of the Old Testament. The literal
sense of the Gospel has the humanity of Christ for its subject matter. The spiritual
interpretation reveals the divinity of Christ through the humanity. Again,
Origen's interpretation of Matt. 13:36 illustrates this well. The movement of
Jesus Christ in this humanity out of the house and into the crowds reveals to the
one with spiritual understanding the movement of the Logos out of his dwelling
place with the Father and into the flesh in order to be with us, since we could not
come to him. Origen's interpretation of the Gospel has as its goal this disclosure
of the divinity of Christ; and for the hearer of the Gospel this knowledge and
experience of the divinity is no longer mediated through the knowledge and
experience of the Old Testament saints, but now directly through the humanu'y
of Christ. This is the hermeneutical principle which sets the Gospel apart from
Origen's exegesis of the Old Testament law and prophets.
The theological basis for this principle of exegesis can be found in Origen's
understanding of the relationship between the humanity and divinity of Christ.
Origen understands the divinity of Christ as the Logos - "the invisible image of
the invisible God".56 The humanity of Christ consists of the perfect soul with
whom the Logos united himself and the human body which the Logos-Soul
assumed. The peculiar character of the soul of Christ is that it was capable of
receiving the whole of the Logos.57 At this point although the Logos has united
himself with a soul that can express the fulness of what he is, he is still not visible
to sensible creatures. This occurs through the emptying of himself (exinaniens)
and the taking on of a human body with which the whole fulness of God
becomes visible on a scale that can be comprehended.558
54
Jo. I, 7 (Preuschen, pp. 11-13).
55
Jo. I, 7 (Preuschen, pp. 11-13).
56
"imago invisibilis dei" Princ. I Cap. 2,6 (Koetschau, p. 34. 8-9).
57
"Sed neque rursum animailk, utpotesubstanria rationabilis, contra naturam habuitcaperedeum, in
quem, ut superius diximus, velut (in) verbum et sapienriam et veritatem tota iam cesserat." Princ.
Cap. 6,3 (Koetschau, p. 142. 14 - p. 143. 2).
5
' "quod filius dei brevissimae insertus humani corporis formae ex operum virtuo'sque similitudine dei
patris in se immensam atque invisibilem magnitudinem" Princ. I Cap. 2,8 (Koetschau, p. 39. 6-8).

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68 Procedure of Origen's Exegesis

The difference between the revelation of God - the visibility of the Logos - in
the Old Testament and the New is that Moses and the prophets had only a partial
participation in the Logos and so were only able to present a partial disclosure of
him. Origen contrasts these Old Testament writers with the Soul of Christ in
whom the whole of the Logos is expressed because the participation of the soul of
Christ in the Logos is such that it has become one nature with him.59 Therefore
the revelation of the Logos in the humanity of Jesus is a revelation of the whole
Logos. Since this is the meaning of the humanity of Christ it is necessary to read
from the humanity of Christ to his divinity, just as it is necessary to read from the
literal sense to the spiritual. The divinity is appropriated by us, however, not at
once and not in its totality, but rather in its parts through the process of "seeing"
and understanding. Therefore the divinity of Christ as it is revealed through the
humanity is made accessible to us through the interpretation of the Gospel in the
form of teachings or doctrines of the Logos.
We have seen that there is a different pattern of exegesis for each of the
different exegetical genres and that this pattern is determined by the way in which
Origen defines the particular subject matter of a book and its relationship to the
hearer. Nonetheless there is a consistent set of exegetical interests which underlie
this diversity of exegetical pattern. We can describe these common interests by
using Origen's own terminology as a guide. Origen always begins from the literal
sense , which consists of the words of the text or the history and
situation described in the text, and proceeds to a clarification and explanation of
the literal sense. But the goal of Origen's exegesis is always the spiritual sense
, which according to Origen's own definition contains the doctrines or
mysteries of the Logos which are useful for the hearer or reader. This spiritual
sense, therefore, always includes an explanation of doctrine and an application to
the hearer.
Origen defines the particular referent of the literal sense differently and very
precisely for each book or exegetical genre. The spiritual sense then flows
naturally from this definition. The literal sense of the book of Jeremiah is the
prophetic word addressed to Israel which teaches purification; the spiritual sense
is the prophetic word which teaches us purification. The literal sense of Numbers
is the journey of Israel toward the promised land; the spiritual sense is our own
spiritual journey toward our eternal inheritance. In the Song of Songs the literal
sense concerns the progress of the bride toward union with the bridegroom; the
spiritual sense is about the progress of the soul or church toward union with
Christ. The literal sense of the Psalms is about the process of purification for the
Psalmist; the spiritual sense is about the process of purification for us. The literal
sense of the Gospels is about the humanity of Christ and his coming within
history; the spiritual sense is about his divinity, that is, his universal presence and
coming to us. In each case it is the intention of Origen's explanation of the literal

Princ. I Cap. 5 (Koetschau, pp. 68-78); Princ. I Cap. 6 (Koetschau, pp. 78-85).

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Gospel 69

sense to explain events within the history of salvation, from the law and prophets
to the Gospel. It is the intention of his explanation of the spiritual sense to show
how the hearer or reader participates in this history by showing its universal
significance.

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. THE ORGANIZING PRINCIPLE IN ORIGEN'S EXEGESIS

ORIGEN'S CONCEPT OF THE JOURNEY OF THE SOUL

The Problem of Definition

In this chapter we will analyze Origen's exegesis of Numbers, Jeremiah, Song


of Songs, and Luke. We want to show that the principle of interpretation found
in the Psalms also holds for the interpretation of these books. This means that we
must show how the exegesis of each of these books is determined by Origen's
doctrine of the journey of the soul and by his concern for the progress of his
hearers toward perfection.
To do this we must first establish how Origen understands the journey of the
soul, what the various stages are and how they are related to each other. With this
detailed and more systematic understanding we will have criteria for determining
whether the exegesis of a given chapter follows the contour of a journey of the
soul.
There are some difficulties in arriving at a workable definition for Origen's
concept of the progress of the soul. First of all, there is an enormous amount of
material on this theme. It is a favorite subject in all of Origen's work. It can be
found in two basic forms - as short, systematic treatments of the concept itself
and as often extended exegetical elaborations of the concept within a given
passage of Scripture. Given the richness and diversity of these sources - both
systematic and exegetical - we will need first to identify the common features in
Origen's concept of the journey of the soul and then secondly, show how this
concept is carried through when Origen uses a passage of Scripture to elaborate
this doctrine of the journey in detail.
Beyond this diversity in the sources for Origen's doctrine of progress, there
are additional problems of the idiosyncrasies in Origen's approach. Whenever
Origen encounters a distinction in Scripture he organizes it into a hierarchy.1 The
end result of this tendency is that the number of individual steps or gradations in
the progress of the soul is greatly multiplied. Furthermore the different gradations
are often difficult to coordinate with each other. This is especially true when
Origen is using a scriptural text to elaborate the journey of the soul.2 This means
that Origen's doctrine of the journey of the soul operates as a general principle of

For example, Origen's exegesis of Rom. 4:7-8, "Blessed is the man whose iniquities are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity"
organizes the verse into a sequence of three steps.
For example the coordination of the journey of the soul as developed in Horn, in Num.
(Baehrens, pp. 93-107) with that developed in Horn, in Num. XXVII (Baehrens, pp. 255-280).

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Origen's Concept of the Journey of the Soul 71

interpretation, organizing the basic themes and direction of his exegesis, but not
dictating his results in detail.
Taking the above problems into account, we will first determine only the basic
divisions of the progression from a text where Origen treats this theme
systematically rather than exegetically. Once we have a basic outline for the
progression, we will examine the diversity and detail of the individual steps which
Origen develops in his exegesis of the journey.

Representative Formulations in Origen

The Trinitarian Schema in De Principiis

In De Principiis Origen outlines a journey of the soul by relating the process of


growth toward perfection to the trinitarian activity of the one God.
God the Father of all gives to beings their existence. Participation in Christ,
who is Word and reason, makes them rational, which has the consequence
that they become capable of either praise or blame. On account of this the
grace of the Holy Spirit is also added, so that those who are not holy by their
nature may be made holy through participation in him. Therefore, first they
have being from God the Father. Secondly they have rationality from the
Word. And thirdly, they have holiness from the Holy Spirit.3
Origen details here the trinitarian activity of God in creation, then he reverses
the above order to describe the trinitarian activity of God in the process of the
perfection of the rational beings. There are stages which they must pass through,
each of which is the appropriate preparation for the next. The work of the Holy
Spirit is purification. He is the principle of holiness.4 Through participation in the
Holy Spirit the soul itself becomes holy. This is the preparatory stage which
makes it possible for the soul to receive the wisdom and knowledge of Christ. As
Logos, Christ is wisdom and knowledge and the soul receives the gifts of wisdom
and knowledge through paticipation in the Logos. The final stage of this
progression is participation in God the Father. Participation in the perfection of
the Father means the perfection of the soul, its own complete likeness to God or
divinization. Divinization in Origen is the restoration of the soul to its original

"Deus pater omnibus praestat ut sint, participatio vero Christi secundum id, quod verbum (vel
ratio) est, facit ea esse rationabilia. Ex quo consequens est ea vel kude digna esse vel culpa, quia et
virtutis et malitiae sum capacia. Propter hoc consequenter adest etiam gratia spiritus sancti, ut ea
quae substantialiter sancta non sunt, participatione ipsius sancta efficiantur. Cum ergo primo ut sint
habeant ex deo patre, secundo ut rationabilia sint habeant ex verbo, tertio ut sancta sint habeant ex
spiritu sancto."
Princ. I Cap. 3,8 (Koetschau, p. 60.23-p. 61.7).
Princ. I Cap. 3,7 (Koetschau, pp. 58-60).

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72 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

state of perfect knowledge of God.5 It is achieved by the imitation of God6, by an


imitation of both his virtues and his knowledge. It is this imitation of God which
reconstitutes the original "likeness" to God and the likeness is the necessary
condition for perfect knowledge of Him.7 The three stages in the progress of the
soul, corresponding to the threefold activity of the Trinity are, therefore,
purification, knowledge and perfection.8

The Order of the Solomonic Books

Another description of the journey of the soul is given in the prologue of the
Song of Songs. Here Origen's explanation is influenced by the immediate
problem with which he is concerned, how to explain the order of the Solomonic
books. But we see here as well the same order of progression as outlined in De
Principiis. The three books of Solomon - Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs -
correspond to the three divisions of Greek science - ethics, physics and enoptics.
Ethics is the science of morality; physics, the study of the nature of things; and
enoptics, the contemplation "of things divine and heavenly".9 These represent
the three stages through which the soul advances in the divine philosophy. After
explaining the subject matter of each science Origen summarizes as follows:
If, then, a man has completed his course in the first subject, as taught in
Proverbs, by amending his behavior and keeping the commandments, and
thereafter, having seen how empty is the world and realized the brittleness of
transitory things, has come to renounce the world and all that is therein, he

See J. Gross, La divinisation du chretien d'apres lesperes grecs (Paris, 1938) pp. 174-185.
" 'Estote perfecti, sicut et pater vester perfectus est'. Unde evidenter ostenditur quod in deo quidem
hae omnes virtutes semper sunt nee umquarn accedere possunt aut recedere, ab hominibus vero
paulatim et singulae quaeque conquiruntur. Unde et consanguinitatem quondam per hoc habere
videntur ad deum; et cum deus omnia noverit, et nihil eum rerum intellectualium ex se lateat (solus
enim deus pater et unigenitus filius suus et Spiritus sanctus non solum eorum, quae creavit, verum
eriam sui scienriam tenet), potest tarnen eriam raoonabilis mens proficiens a parvis ad maiora et a
'visibilibus* ad 'invisibilia' pervenire ad intellectum perfectiorem."
Princ. IV Cap. 4,10 (Koetschau, p. 363.25-p. 364.4).
Princ. ffl Cap. 6,1 (Koetschau, pp. 279-282).
W. Vlker, Das VoUkommenheitsidealdes Origenes: eine Untersuchung zur Geschichte der Frmmigkeit
undzu den Anfngen christlicher Mystik (BHTh 7,1931), shows that the path of the soul ascending to
the mystical union passes through a stage in which it is struggling against sin and then through a stage
where it is absorbed in the knowledge of the mysteries.
"de divinis aliquid et caelesribus contemplamur'' Cant. Prologus (Baehrens, p. 75. 22) trans. R. P.
Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 40. In this text Origen shows that the three patriarchs represent the same
three stages.

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Origen's Concept of the Journey of the Soul 73

will follow on from that point to contemplate and to desire the things that are
not seen and that are eternal.10
Here is a three-fold division as well. The first stage of the advance is moral
progress. It is a process of correction. There are two elements in the second stage.
On the one hand it represents genuine knowledge of visible things. On the other
hand it is also a continuation and fulfillment of the moral progress, renunciation
of the world. The third stage represents knowledge of God as the fulfillment or
perfection of the preceding stages.
This presentation of the progress of the soul corroborates and gives some
elaboration for the schema of stages already presented from De Principiis. Some
of the more important common features may be noted. The same three basic
stages are repeated here, the moral or purifying stage, growth in knowledge and
the final stage of a contemplative or perfected union with God. Each stage is also
clearly linked with the others as presupposition and realization. And finally this
interlocking and progressive character of the stages marks out an essential ascent.
These basic motifs in the concept of a journey or progress of the soul are aptly
summarized by Origen himself in this same section:
He who applies himself to divine philosophy must have nothing of his own
on earth and must be always moving on, not so much from place to place as
from knowledge of inferior matters to that of perfect ones."

The Exegetical Sequence in Numbers

Let us now examine this same concept of the journey of the soul as Origen
develops it in the exegesis of Scripture. In his 27th homily on Numbers Origen
interprets the 33rd chapter of Numbers as the description for such a journey. It is
a summary of the wandering of the Israelites through the desert which lists the 42
places at which they stopped to camp.12 The list of 42 place names is Origen's
primary object of interest in this interpretation. Origen has an etymological study
of these place names in Hebrew from which he is able to translate each place

"Si qui ergo primum locum in emendandis moribus mandatisque servandis, qui per Proverbia
designatur, implevit, post haec autem etiam deprehensa vanitate mundi et rerum caducarum
fragulitate perspecta venit in hoc, ut renuntiet mundo et omnibus, quae in mundo sunt, consequenter
veniet etiam ad contemplanda et desideranda ea, 'quae non videntur et aeterna sunt'." Cant.
Prologus (Baehrens, p. 79.12-17) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 45.
"neque in terris habendum esse aliquid proprium huic, qui divinae philosophiae studet, et semper
promovendum, non tarn de loco ad locum quam de scientia inferiorum ad scientiam perfectorum."
Cant. Prologus (Baehrens, p. 79. 7-9) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 45.
The Latin word for these places is mansiones, the LXX reading is which Origen identifies
with the of John 14:2. All three terms mean the lodging or quarters used by travelers. Station
is the closest English equivalent to the concept.

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74 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

name into a meaningful word or concept.'3 Working from this list Origen is then
able to show how each station along the way is a stage in the journey of the soul
and how the whole course of this Israelite progress forms a unified pattern for the
soul's journey to its reward. Does the basic framework for the progress of the
soul as we have already sketched it from De Principiis and from die prologue to
Origen's commentary on the Songs reappear in this homily? And if so, to what
extent and in what way does it determine Origen's interpretation of this chapter
in Numbers?
A brief study of this homily will deal with both of these important questions.
Through this homily we can see whether under the more restricted and more
detailed conditions of biblical exegesis, Origen maintains his own unified and
systematic concept of the journey of the soul. And secondly, since it is our thesis
that this concept of the journey of the soul serves as a fundamental principle of
exegesis of Origen, it will be of great value to see in detail how it directs the
exegesis of this chapter and how it interacts with the material content of this
chapter.
When we examine the 42 stations of Israel's wandering in the wilderness, we
can see that Origen has divided them into three main groups corresponding to
the three basic stages in the journey of the soul - purification, knowledge and
perfection.
The first 12 stations concern the overcoming of vices and the renunciation of
the world. The Exodus from Egypt, with which the journey begins, represents
leaving behind the whole period in which the soul served the devil because of its
vices. The judgment which follows against the pursuing Egyptians is vengeance
wreaked upon the demons who motivated these vices in the soul. The first station
along the way, Ramasseh (disturbed agitation or agitation caused by vermin)
signifies the corruption of this world, from which the soul makes haste to
withdraw (Sta. 1). Succoth (tents) means that the soul disengages itself from the
world and becomes a nomad (Sta. 2). Buthan (strait) is the narrow passage which
the soul must fight its way through against the demonic powers (Sta. 3). Iroth
(villages) is contrasted to the city as being along the way, and entry into a village
means a life of moderate abstinence (Sta. 4). Amara (bitterness) signifies the
bitterness of the correction by which the soul is healed from sin (Sta. 5). Raphaca
(health) means the health in which the soul rejoices when it is freed of all its vices
(Sta. 9). At Raphidin (health of judgment) the soul has become capable of
spiritual judgment and is now prepared for that stage of the journey in which the
advancement in knowledge begins (Sta. 11). This is also confirmed from the next
station, the desert of Sinai (Sta. 12). Here "the law is given by God" and the soul
"begins to be capable of receiving divine secrets and celestial visions".14 Origen

13
R. P. C. Hanson, Allegory and Event, p. 254.
1
* "Postquam ergo kudabilis iudicii facta est anima et rectum coepit habere iudicium, tune ei datur lex a
Deo, cum capax esse coeperit secretorum divinorum et coelestium visionum." Horn, in Num.
XXVH,12 (Baehrens, p. 273. 9-11).

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Origan's Concept of the Journey of the Soul 75

calls the thirteenth station 'the sepulchres of concupiscence', proving that the
mortification of the flesh is now complete.
The stations beyond Sinai are concerned with progress in knowledge of the
divine. The struggle against sin or the renunciation of the world is no longer
mentioned.15 At Rathma (perfect vision) and at Pharan (visible face) the soul
has perfect visions and understands the perfect meaning of things. He knows
with the greatest fulness and insight the reasons for the incarnation of the
Word of God and the forms which clothe the economy of this mystery.16
At Remonphares (supreme distinction) "according to the measure of
intelligence" the soul is "given the knowledge of superior realities, because it can
distinguish the eternal from the temporal" (Sta. 16).17 At Lebna (whiteness) the
whiteness is the brightness of the true light and comes from the shining of celestial
visions (Sta. 17). At Maceloth (from the beginning) the soul contemplates the
beginning of all things (Sta. 19). Thara (ecstasy) means that the soul experiences
the ecstacy of visions (Sta. 24). In Banaim (spring or filtering place) the soul
drinks at the source of the divine words and filters them by not missing a jot or
tittle of the divine law (Sta. 28). From Phinon (reticence) the soul, having been
able to contemplate the mystery of Christ and the Holy Spirit, is careful to whom
it imparts these divine mysteries (Sta. 37).
The final stage of the journey of the soul is Abarim (passage) in front of Naban
(separation). Here the soul stands at the "edge of the river of God", the current of
wisdom by which the soul will be flooded with the divine knowledge.1" This last
step represents the mystical and intellectual union with God for which the
previous stages have been the progressive preparation and anticipation.
In this exegetical context Origen's concept of the journey of the soul provides
the framework which organizes and focuses his interpretation of the whole
sequence of verses. Three stages of the journey of the soul - progression in
purification, progression in knowledge of the Logos, and final union with God -
form the main divisions of his interpretation. As already mentioned, the first 12
stations form the sequence of purification. Then the next 29 represent progress in
knowledge of the mysteries. And only the last station portrays the soul on the
brink of that consummated union with God which is the achievement of perfect

Temptation continues throughout the progression in knowledge, but the temptation no longer
arises out of the soul's struggle against sin or the world, but rather comes to it for the purpose of
confirming its virtue, see Sta. 18,29,33, and 40.
"visiones habeat consummatas perfectamque rerum capiat intelligentiam, causas scilicet incarnationis
Verbi Dei dispensationumque eius rationes plenius altiusque cognoscens?" Horn, in Num. XXVII,12
(Baehrens, p. 273. 22-25).
"Crescente namque intellectu animae et notitia ei excelsorum praebetur et iudicium datur, quo sciat
a temporalibus aetema intercidere..." Horn, in Num. XXVB",12 (Baehrens, p. 274.1-4).
"ad flumen Dei" Horn, in Num. , 12 (Baehrens, p. 279.12-13).

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76 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

knowledge. Thus each of the first two stages is made up of a sequence of steps, but
there is no progress in the last stage of complete perfection.
We can readily see that Origen's exegesis of the journey of the soul is
consistent here with his more systematic treatment elsewhere. The primary
difference in his exegetical treatment of the journey of the soul is the much greater
wealth and diversity of detail. Although Origen superimposes the framework of
a three stage journey on the text, he subsequently allows each individual step
considerable freedom in defining the content of the journey. For this reason there
is substantial variation in the sequence and meaning of the individual steps from
one exegetical treatment to another, and they are difficult to harmonize with each
other in detail.19
Drawing together the picture of the journey of the soul from De Principiis,
from the prologue to the commentary on the Song of Songs and here from the
27th homily on Numbers, we have established basic features of that journey
which remain essentially constant. There is the division of the journey into three
stages.20 In the process of purification the soul struggles against sin and overcomes
it, resisting and renouncing the world. The second stage is advancing knowledge
of the mysteries, knowledge of the Logos, of the intelligible and eternal. The
concluding stage is that of perfection which is the return of the soul to its original
form of existence, to participation in God as the goal of its journey.
These three stages form a single movement. Each is a necessary precondition
for what follows. Knowledge of the mysteries cannot be achieved until the soul
has first been purified and becomes capable of receiving higher knowledge. And
the corresponding growth in knowledge is itself a preparation for union with
God, since the participation of the soul in God is a participation through
knowledge.
We can recognize here that the journey of the soul for Origen is itself the
process and movement of redemption. For purification is the way in which the
rational nature recovers from the weakness brought on by sin, and knowledge is
the means by which the original human nature is restored. This is especially clear
in Origen's definition of the goal of the journey, union of the soul with God. Here
redemption is understood as a final divinization of the soul.2'
Finally, in each of our representative samples the concept of a progression is
not limited to the three central stages, but each stage forms a progression within
itself as well. There are many intermediate steps in the process of purification.
And we can see that Origen is always scaling knowledge in terms of higher and
lower levels. It is easy to see that the journey of the soul can present an almost
infinite possibility of variation where it is primarily developed through exegesis of

" The steps in the 27th homily on Numbers do not correlate in all details with the steps given in the
12th homily on Numbers.
20
W. Vlker, Das Vollkommenheitsideal des Origenes, p. 25, also distinguishes between these phases of
purification.
21
J. Gross, La Divinisauon du chreen d'apres lesperes grecs, pp. 174-185.

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Origen's Concept of the Journey of the Soul 77

the text of Scripture. As already noted, Origen's exegesis of the journey will
follow the basic three-stage framework with consistency, but in its exegetical
detail where Origen accomodates himself to the material content of the text, there
is a multiplicity and diversity of individual steps which are difficult if not
impossible to organize into a strict program.
With these initial guidelines for characterizing the journey of the soul in
Origen's theology and in the exegetical use which he makes ofthat concept, let us
turn to a more detailed analysis of the individual phases of the journey.

Stages in the Progress of the Soul

Purification from Sin

The process of purification is determined by Origen's understanding of the


problem of sin, a problem defined in reference to perfection.22 Therefore sin is
understood as the specific form of the distance between perfection and the
existing human condition. The primary issue of sin is not that of past sin
understood as legal offence requiring forgiveness, but that those forms of existence
which destroy the soul's growth toward perfection must be changed. It is not
forgiveness, but transformation which solves the problem of sin. (Origen does
not speak of sins being forgiven, but rather of their being healed.) The problem of
sin is thus not one of sins, but of sinning - a problem of the holy life.
Origen's second homily on Jeremiah provides an explanation for the problem
of sin.
The soul was formed "in the image [of God]", not only the soul of the first
man, but of all men, since the passage "let us make man according to our
image and likeness" applies equally to all men. And this form is the original,
just as Adam this form - which men call "according to the image [of God]" -
is prior to what was added, to what he bears on account of sin, "the image of
the fleshly". So in every man this image of God is prior to the image of the
inferior. We, being sinners, have borne the image of the fleshly; we will bear
by being transformed () the image of the heavenly, as the
creation is made in the image of the heavenly.223

22
J. Trigg, Healing that comes from God: the Alexandrian Response to the Third-Century Penitential
Crisis (Ph. D., University of Chicago, 1978) p. 167, illustrates how this understanding was shaped
by the early understanding of baptism as taken over from Paul. "This is the state of affairs in Paul's
epistles, for him baptism is the initiation of a new, sinless life. What is important is not that it confers
forgiveness for previous sins, but that it signals the transformation of the sinner into a new man free
to live without sin."
23
" ''', ,
' ' ' '
, '

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78 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

There are two images to be found in man, the image of God and the image of
the fleshly. It is after sin that the fleshly image is superimposed over the heavenly
image. Human history begins with the fleshly image and must be transformed
() into the heavenly image. This is Origen's doctrine of the two men.
If anyone still bears the image of the earthy according to the outer man, then
he is moved by earthly desire and love; but the desire and love of him who
bears the image of the heavenly according to the inner man are heavenly.24
It is a synthesis from the teachings of Moses and Paul. Origen identifies the
earthly man as man formed from the dust (Gen. 2:6); he identifies the heavenly
man as man made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26).25 The process of
redemption is a progressive movement from the first image to the second. This is
how Origen understands the significance of Paul's statement: "Just as we have
borne the image of the earthly man, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
The earthly man is the man whose desires and pleasures are earthly. The
heavenly man is the man whose heart is set on things above.26 Origen also calls
the earthly, the outer man, and the heavenly, the inner man.27
Origen describes the inner man in the Song of Songs in terms of the spiritual
senses which he possesses. These are powers of perception by which the soul
both recognizes and delights in the Logos. Speaking of the maidens who hasten
after the bridegroom, Origen says:
What, do you think, will they do when the Word of God takes possession of
their hearing, their sight, their touch, and their taste as well, and offers
excellences from Himself that match each single sense according to its nature
and capacity; so that the eye, if it have seen His glory, the glory as it were of

, ' ',
' . ''
' , ' ' ',
." Horn, injer. , (Klostermann, p. 17.7-16); cf. Horn, in Jos.
, (Baehrens, pp. 375-377).
24
"Et ut evidentius dicam, si quis est, qui 'portat' adhuc 'imaginem terreni' secundum exteriorem
hominem, iste agitur cupidine et amore terreno; qui vero 'portat imaginem caelestis' secundum
interiorem hominem, agitur cupidine et amore caelesti." Cant. Prologus (Baehrens, p. 67. 3-7)
trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 29.
25
Horn, in L. XXXK.5 (Rauer, p. 231); Dial. XI sq; XW (Scherer, pp. 78-80; pp. 90-92).
26
Cant. Prologus.
27
It is sin which separates the earthly man from the heavenly. During the dialogue with Heraclides
Origen, after explaining the two men doctrine, addresses the audience witnessing the disputation
"Transform yourselves" () from being swine wallowing in sins to being men. It is
the Logos who effects the transformation when the soiled soul gazes on him and allows himself to
be shaped by Him, Dial. (Scherer, p. 84. 19-24).

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Origen's Concept of the Journey of the Soul 79

the Only-begotten of the Father, desires to see nothing evermore but that, nor
would the hearing hear aught else except the Word of life and of salvation?28
It is through these faculties or senses that the soul gains the capacity for
knowledge of the Logos, and it is through the continuous exercise of these
faculties that progress in knowledge, growth into the divine life, takes place. In
the heavenly man these spiritual faculties are sound and lead the soul into full
knowledge of the Logos. But in the earthly man these faculties are weakened and
damaged by sin. Knowledge of the Logos requires the restoration of the faculties
from their corruption as Origen explains.
And in the same way, if the interior vision, instead of being trained by learning
and diligence so as to acquire the power of discerning good and evil through
much experience, gets its eyes misted as it were by ignorance and inexperience,
or bleary as from the feebleness induced by some disease, it cannot manage to
discern good from evil by any means at all. And so it happens that it does bad
things instead of good, and rejects the good in favor of the bad. And if you
apply this analogy, of which we have treated in regard to the sight of body and
soul, to hearing, and taste, and smell, and touch also, and work out the parallel
between all the several powers of the bodily senses according to their kind and
the corresponding powers of the soul, you will then clearly perceive what
training should be undertaken in each case, and what correction ought to be
set going.29
In this passage Origen distinguishes two things which impair the functioning
of the spiritual faculties - immaturity and the corrupting effect of disease.
Immaturity is the result of ignorance and inexperience (ignorantia, imperitia).
This condition can be cured by discipline and training (exercitia). The effect of
disease on a faculty (i.e. sin) can be remedied by correction (emendatio).
When Origen speaks of diseased faculties he is using disease as a metaphor for
sin, and healing as a metaphor for the process of correction. Since sin is a
condition of the soul, like illness is a condition of the body, then just as there is a

"Quid, putas, agent, cum et auditum earum et visum et tactum gustumque occupaverit Verbum Dei
et singulis quibusque sensibus virtutes ex se competentes naturae earum capacitatique praebuerit, ita
ut oculus, si videre potuerit 'gloriam eius, gloriam tamquam unigeniri a patre', aliud videre ultra iam
nolit neque auditus aliud quam 'Verbum vitae' et 'salutis' audire?" Cant. 1,4 (Baehrens, p. 103.
27-33) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 78.
"Ita ergo et interior visus nisi eruditione et industria fuerit 'exercitatus', quo per multam peririam
'discretionem boni habeat ac mali', sed ignorantia ei et imperitia tamquam caligo oculis insederit aut
eriam maliriae alicuius languor tamquam lippis accesserit, 'discrimen boni aut mali* capere nullatenus
possit et inde fit, ut mala pro bonis agat, bona vero pro malis spemat. Secundum hanc vero formam,
quam de visu corporis animaeque tractavimus, consequenter etiam de auditu et gustu et odoratu
tactuque per singulas quasque sui generis virtutes sensuum corporalium referens ad animae sensus,
quae in singulis adhiberi debeant exercitia quaeve emendatio parari, dilucide recognosces." Cant. 1,4
(Baehrens, p. 105. 22-32) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 80.

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80 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

healing process for the body, there is a corresponding healing process for the
soul. The administration of this healing process is a discipline, of which Christ
himself is the master, the chief physician. Under him are angelic ministers, the
apostles and their successors in the church.30
The healing art is properly called a discipline or science since the diversity of
diseases requires a diversity of remedies and requires as well the necessary
discernment to apply the appropriate remedy to each malady.
The soul which has received the wound of sin, even when it is cured, has
nevertheless a scar over the place where the wound once was. Such scars can
be seen, not only by God, but also by those who have received grace from
Him by which they are able to perceive the weaknesses of the soul and to
discern between the soul cured in such a way that every kind of vestige of the
wound is removed and the soul, who although cured, still bears up until now
the mark of the old wound in its residual scar.3'
This reflection on the healing art - which in Origen is primarily to be
understood as exposition of Scripture in the church - clearly shows the remedial
and restorative character of the correction of sin or what we have been calling the
stage of purification. Even more so it shows the progressive, cumulative character
of this process in its discernment between the soul freed from every vestige of its
wounds and the soul still bearing scar tissue. This healing is a progressive process
which follows the same upward trajectory found everywhere in Origen's
thinking.
In its simplest form this step-wise progression within the stage of purification
can be found in Origen's exegesis of Romans 4:7-8: "Blessed is the man whose
iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom
the Lord does not impute iniquity." Origen understands these verses to be
describing distinct stages within the process of purification, which he explains as
follows.
The first step is the remission of sins which belongs to conversion in which the
evil of the soul is forsaken. The second step is a covering of sins, which takes place
when the soul begins to do good and the abundance of good is greater than the
evil which preceded it. In the third step iniquity is no longer imputed, the root of
all evil is inwardly cut off and the height of beatitude reached.32

30
Ps. 371,2 (Migne, PG 12, cols. 1372-1376).
3
' "quomodo anima, quae peccati vulnus acceperit, etiamsi curetur, tarnen habet cicatricem in loco
vulneris residentem. Quae cicatrix non solum a Deo videtur, sed et ab his, qui acceperunt ab eo
gratiam, qua pervidere possint animae languores et discemere, quae sit anima ita curata, ut omni
genere vestigium illati vulneris abiecerit, et quae curata sit quidem, sed ferat adhuc veteris morbi in
ipso vestigio cicatricis indicia." Horn, in Lev. ,5 (Baehrens, p. 402.5-11).
32
Comm. in Rom. IV,1 (Migne, PG 14, cols. 959-966).

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Origen's Concept of the Journey of the Soul 81

Let us look now at Origen's homilies where the steps in purification are given
in greater detail.33 The process begins with the knowledge or recognition of sin
brought about by the Word of God. This knowledge of sin is followed by a
period of shame and regret. (The distress and grief caused by this experience then
act as a deterrent against further sinning.) This is followed by a public confession
in which sin is repudiated. The final step in the process of purification is the
practice of good works. According to a list given in the second homily on
Leviticus, they are giving alms, forgiving one's brother, converting a sinner,
abundance of love and martyrdom.3'1 Good works both cover sins and lead to
perfection. They have a double function: they correct the tendency toward sin
and establish new habits. And they lead toward perfection in so far as they are an
imitation of the goodness of God. In doing good works the soul becomes
progressively more like God through imitation.35
Combining the steps given in the homilies with those from Origen's
commentary on Romans we see that the process of purification begins with the
Word of God of rebuke and correction, that it includes steps designed to root out
the habit of sin and steps designed to inculcate the habit of virtue. The goal of the
progression in purification is the complete eradication of evil.
There is a progression in knowledge just as there is a progression in
purification. Graduated steps of knowledge are commonplace in Origen, in the
exegetical works as well as in his more systematic treatises. In De Principiis
Cap. 11,5-7 Origen maps out this progression in detailed stages. Although
Origen traces in this sketch the advance in knowledge for the soul liberated by
death, the material is relevant to the progress in knowledge on this side of the
grave. The soul researches the same questions whether here in this life or there in
the "school of souls", with this difference, that in its earthly life the soul achieves
only partial knowledge and when it is no longer bound to the flesh its
understanding will be perfect. So this section provides a valuable understanding
of the progression in knowledge as it is organized into distinct stages.
The progression begins with knowledge of earthly things and proceeds to
knowledge of the heavenly, that is, to knowledge of beings and events belonging
to the region between earth and God - the air, the moving spheres of the planets,
the fixed spheres of the stars. From the heavenly it ascends to knowledge of
things invisible and finally to the knowledge of God himself. This is the basic
framework for a progression from knowledge of lower things to knowledge of
the higher and finally highest. But let us look more closely at the specific objects of
knowledge which are defined at each step.36
33
Ps.37(Migne,PG12,cols. 1370-1387);Horn.inLev.U(Baehrens,pp.288-299);Horn.inEzech.X
(Baehrens, pp. 416-423). See also G. Teichtweier, Die S ndenlehre des Origenes (SGKMT 7,1958)
pp. 299-303.
34
Horn in Lev. ,4 (Baehrens, pp. 294-297).
35
Ps. 37 ,3 (Migne, PG 12, cols. 1383-1384).
36
This hierarchy of knowledge is discussed both by W. V lker, Das Vollkommenheitsideal bei
Origenes, and H. Crouzel, Origene et la "connaissance mystique' (Paris, 1961). Both take the

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82 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

Knowledge of the Logos

The knowledge of things belonging to the earthly includes knowledge of the


soul - "which is the principal spirit, which is the spirit that operates, which is the
vital spirit, and what is the grace of the Holy Spirit?" - knowledge of the Old
Testament - what is the meaning of Israel, of the diversity of the nations, of the
twelve tribes, of the priests, Levites and sacerdotal orders.37 Knowledge of things
earthly also includes knowledge of the spiritual powers of good and of those
which oppose them, knowledge of the orders and species of creation - "what is
the intention of the Creator and the idea of the wisdom which is hidden in each of
these facts or acts?" - knowledge of plants - "what are the virtues associated with
them" - knowledge of the causes for the fall of the apostate angels, and knowledge
of Providence.38
For the earthbound soul knowledge of things earthly "trains its natural
intelligence" and teaches the soul "by distinguishing the causes and natures of
things", to "recognize the vanity of vanities that it must forsake, and the lasting
and eternal things that it ought to pursue" !39 This lower level of knowledge serves
a double purpose in Origen's scheme. It trains the soul insofar as it is intelligence,
and it teaches the soul to look beyond the temporal and material by showing it
the emptiness of the world. In this way study of the world is essential to the
progress of the soul, since it is precisely this world which offers the means of
access to the understanding of the divine, given the proper method and perspective
for examining it.
Knowledge of the world is an element within knowledge of God. For Origen,
the only true knowledge of things is the knowledge of their inner rationality, their
cause, their reason for being.40 This is to know the logos of a thing. These logoi
lead a double life in Origen's thought. They not only disclose the nature of things
in themselves, but also their origin in God. The logoi of created things are the
imprints of rationality (the Logos) upon them. They are the rational principles by

knowledge of the visible as the first stage (Vlker p. 95; Crouzel pp. 47-61), and knowledge of the
heavenly mysteries or intelligibles as the second stage (Vlker pp. 95-97; Crouzel, pp. 61-72).
According to each of them knowledge of the Logos forms the third stage and knowledge of God the
fourth (Vlker p. 98-114; Crouzel pp. 79-82).
51
Princ. Cap. 11,5 (Koetschau, pp. 188-189).
38
"qui creatoris prospectus, vel quis per haec singula sapientiae eius tegitur sensus", "adsociantur
quaedam virtutes" Princ. Cap. 11,5 (Koetschau, p. 188. 23-24, 25).
39
"veniat etiam ad naturalis intelligentiae disciplinam atque ibi rerum causas naturasque distinguens
agnoscat Vanitatem vanitatum' reliquendam, ad aeterna autem et perpetua properandum" Cant.
Prologus (Baehrens, p. 78. 2-4) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, pp. 43-44.
40
"What the soul seeks to know is the reasons (logoi) for all that has taken place on earth",
"... omnium quae geruntur in terris manifestius agnosceret rationes..." Princ. Cap. 11,5
(Koetschau, p. 188. 4).

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Origen's Concept of the Journey of the Soul 83

which all created things were formed, rational principles which originate in the
Logos as divine wisdom.4' Therefore to know the logos of a thing is already to
possess partial knowledge of the Logos himself whose image they reflect.42
Knowledge of the heavenly refers to the spiritual world which occupies the
region between our earth and the fixed sphere. It is toward this world, unseen but
not invisible by nature, that the destiny of the saints leads.43 Knowledge of this
world is knowledge of the eschatological future of the soul. It is this world which
Origen seeks to understand in his homilies on Numbers, by using the organization
of the tribes and the disposition of the camp to discover the heavenly hierarchies
and orders.44 He surmises, for example, that the crossing of the Red Sea has
perhaps a heavenly counterpart where the soul on its journey through the
heavens must brave the winds and the waves of the "waters that are above the
heavens (Gen. 1:2)".45
This heavenly world is related to the material world as reality is related to sign.
The geography and the topography of the Old Testament history of salvation
present images of this eternal world. Egypt represents the world, the present
existence into which souls have descended. Jerusalem is the figure of the heavenly
city. Knowledge of this heavenly world can be gained by the correct and
insightful reading of the figures and shadows which are given in the biblical
histories as its counterpart.
This realm of the heavenly is also described as the realm of the intelligible, the
realm of the divine realities and the spiritual mysteries. It is in this realm that the
soul is most truly at home. For knowledge is the proper activity of the soul or
mind ("animae vel mentis") and the intelligible, the mysteries, are the proper
object of knowledge. These are the objects which attract and draw the soul by a
natural affinity.46
The Logos himself is the unity of the intelligibles. He is the single truth of
which they are the multiple diffractions. To know the intelligibles, the mysteries,
is to know the Logos, not yet in his fulness but partially. This progressive
knowledge of the intelligibles is as well a progressive assimilation of the soul to the
Logos.47 This is because knowledge which has its roots in the natural affinity of
rational things to each other leads to union with the thing known.

41
Princ. I Cap. 1,4-5 (Koetschau, pp. 19-20); see also H. Crouzel, Origene et la "cannaisssance
mystique", pp. 54-55.
42
Jo. 1,34 (Preuschen, pp. 43-44); 1,37 (pp. 47-49); Cels. V,39 (Koetschau, pp. 43-44).
43
Princ. Cap. 3,7 (Koetschau, pp. 125-126); Princ. Cap. 11,6-7 (Koetschau, pp. 189-192).
44
Chapter 33 of Numbers can be read two ways, in order either to understand the journey of the soul
in this life or to learn of the migration of the soul after "it has left its habitation in the body", "vel cum
anima de corporis huius habitatione discedit". Horn, in Num. XXVQ,2 (Baehrens, p. 258. 25-26).
45
"aquarum 'super coelum'" Horn, in Num. , (Baehrens, p. 270. 4-5).
46
Princ. I Cap. 1,7 (Koetschau, pp. 23-24).
47
H. Crouzel, Origene et la "connaissance mystique", p. 72.

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84 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

There is a certain kinship of the mind with God. The intelligence of the soul is
in His image and on account of this it is able to perceive something of divine
nature, above all when it is purified and separated from all that is material.48
The divine nature indirectly grasped through the intelligibles is that of the
Logos, so that progress in the knowledge of this spiritual world is progress in the
knowledge of the Logos.

The Final Stage of Perfection

The final stage of the progression of knowledge is the knowledge of God,


which Origen describes at the end of this section simply as "theoria et intellectus
dei".49 Elsewhere Origen differentiates a progressive sequence within the
knowledge of God, leading from knowledge of the incarnate Christ, to knowledge
of the preexistent Logos, to knowledge of the Father.50
This upward progression in the knowledge of God corresponds with a
downward movement of revelation and accommodation. The preexistent Logos
reveals the form and image of the invisible God. The incarnate Christ forms this
image in the flesh, so that the invisible God becomes knowable in time and
matter. The soul travels in the opposite direction, climbing back up this descending
chain of revelation.51 It begins with knowledge of the humanity, progresses to
knowledge of the divinity and finally completes this progression in the "face-to-
face" knowledge of God - Origen's "theoria et intellectus dei".
Origen speaks of this moment of consummation in different metaphors. In
De Principiis it is the contemplation of God in the original state of the soul before
the fall.52 This represents the original form of the knowledge of God - direct and
unmediated. In the exegetical treatises on the Song of Songs Origen speaks of it as
a mystical union. Knowledge of God or contemplation is the mode of
participation in Him. In Origen's exegesis of the history of Israel this event of
consummate knowledge is seen to be the inheritance of the spiritual and intelligible
kingdom. However all three representations of this knowledge refer to the
moment when the soul's original resemblance to God is restored.53

48
"et nolunt hoc intellegi, quod propinquitas quaedam sit menri ad deum, cuius ipsa mens intellectualis
imago sit, et per hoc possit aliquid de deitatis sentire natura, maxime si expurgarior ac segregan'or sit
a materia corporali." Princ. I Cap. 1,7 (Koetschau, p. 24. 18-21).
49
Princ. Cap. 11,7 (Koetschau, p. 192.11).
50
Horn, in Lc. 1,4 (Rauer, pp. 3-12); Ham in Num. ,3 (Baehrens, pp. 259-260);/o. VI, 46
(Preuschen, pp. 155-156). See also H. Crouzel, Origene et la "connaissance mystique", pp. 73-84;
W. V lker, Das VoUkommenheitsideal bet Origenes, pp. 90-125.
51
Horn, in Num. XXVU.3 (Baehrens, pp. 259-260).
52
Princ. I Cap. 3,8 (Koetschau, pp. 60-63).
53
Princ. Cap. 11,3 (Koetschau, p. 186).

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The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 85

Summary: The Journey of the Soul as the Means of Redemption

When we look at the many interconnecting steps within the stages of


purification and knowledge, as well as the interrelationship of the stage of
purification and the stage of knowledge to each other, we see that Origen's
organisation of the journey of the soul corresponds with his understanding of
redemption as a progressive, step-by-step transformation. The goal of this
process of salvation is the (resemblance to God) or
(divinization).54 It is the contemplation of God which effects the transformation
that produces the resemblance to God or the divinization of the soul.55
In Origen's thought the process of redemption is a process of restoration. The
original image of God in man is destroyed by sin and with it the capacity to know
God. The process of purification means a continuous healing and training of the
spiritual faculties of the soul by which God is known. This is accomplished by
penance, through which the diseased faculties are cured, and good works, by
which an initial resemblance to God who is himself good is produced.56 The
restoration of the faculties in purification is the necessary preparation for progress
in knowledge of the Logos. And it is through knowledge of the Logos
(understood as contemplative knowledge) that the image of God in the soul is
restored. Contemplation of the Logos who is himself the image of God produces
a conformity in the soul to that image. At the same time the Logos cannot be
comprehended in his fulness until the soul comes to fully resemble Him.
Therefore knowledge of the Logos must be progressive as well. Partial knowledge
of the Logos belongs to that gradual transformation of the soul which ultimately
leads to knowledge of the Logos in his fulness. This is the goal of all progression
in knowledge. Knowledge of the world is an indirect and mediated form of the
knowledge of the Logos. Knowledge of the heavenly world is no longer mediated
by the material world, but it is not yet direct knowledge of the Logos in himself.
Direct knowledge of the Logos begins from knowledge of his humanity and
reaches fulfillment in the knowledge of his divinity.557

The Journey of the Soul in Origen 's Exegesis

We have seen in chapter two that Origen has a consistent program for the
interpretation of individual verses which can be identified as a regular pattern of
exegetical steps. We have seen further that although the pattern of steps varies

54
See. J. Gross, La divinisation du chretien d'apres les peres grecs, pp. 174-185 and H. Merki,
. Von der platonischen Angleichung an Gott zur Gott hnlichkeit bei Gregor von
Nyssa (Paradosis 7,1952) pp. 60-64.
55
Jo. 1,16 (Preuschen, pp. 20f.).
56
See above p. 89.
57
Cf. pp. 66-68.

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86 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

with the exegetical genre of the text, the different patterns derive from a common
set of exegetical questions.58 What we wish to consider is whether an exegetical
program is also identifiable for the interpretation of larger units - chapters and
books. As in the last chapter, our investigation will be guided by the results of the
analysis of the homilies on Psalm 37.
Our study in chapter one showed that Origen had a program for the
interpretation of a chapter, where the exegesis of each verse formed a stage or
moment in the journey of the soul for the hearer through which he is advanced
from purification toward divinization. Using these results as a guide, it is necessary
to determine whether such a program can also be identified for the interpretation
of books belonging to different exegetical genres, whether Origen interprets
Numbers, Song of Songs, Jeremiah, and Luke as he interpreted the Psalms.
We will use the preceding analysis for the journey of the soul as a guide in
identifying elements from Origen's exegesis which correspond to the journey of
the soul. We will be looking for the organization of the homily into a series of
steps which trace out an ascending line that aims toward perfection. We will be
looking for a unifying principle by which these steps form an organic unity. This
we anticipate to be the ordering of the steps to correspond to stages in the journey
of the soul. There are several forms this may take; the steps may form either a
progression in purification, or a progression in knowledge, or a progression from
purification to knowledge. In every case the unifying principle should create a
continuous movement out of the steps through the fact that each step grows out
of the preceeding ones and is a preparation for the following steps.
The procedure we will follow for this investigation will be to take individual
homilies as units of interpretation to determine whether the series of steps created
by the exegesis of each verse do not constitute a progressive movement of
understanding for the hearer which is identifiable with a journey of the soul. Each
of the exegetical genres must be examined independently, since as we have seen in
chapter two, even when Origen is following a single exegetical program, there is
significant variation in the way it is applied to different texts, variations that are
determined by characteristics peculiar to the book he is interpreting.59
Since it is not practical to provide an analysis for each homily, the first homily
in a book of each exegetical type will be presented in a comprehensive form. The
selection of the first homily in a book is especially advantageous for this study,
because it generally includes Origen's own introduction to the book in the form
of a prologue. In these brief introductions Origen explains the purpose for which
the book was written and sets the basic direction for his exegesis. By analyzing the
first homily it is easier to gain an understanding of the entire book as Origen sees
it and to locate the homily within this larger perspective.60 Following the full
analysis of the first homily, a description of the second homily will also be given

Cf. pp. 68-69; pp. 138ff.


See above p. 54; pp. 61-62; pp. 68-69.
In the homilies on Numbers it is the second homily that contains this introductory material.

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The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 87

for the purpose of comparison. This will allow the consistent program of
interpretation to be seen against the background of two different forms of its
application within a single book.
We will consider the books of the Old Testament in the order in which they
were interpreted in Origen's sermons. He began preaching in Caesarea in 239.
The three-year liturgical cycle for the reading of the Old Testament had reached
the Psalms at that time, so the sermons on the Psalms were the first that Origen
preached on the Old Testament. Song of Songs, Jeremiah, and Numbers followed
in this sequence.61 The homilies on Luke were probably preached during the
early part of the period 239-242. We will, however, consider the interpretation of
the Gospel separately because of its special characteristics.

Song of Songs: Homilies

The subject matter of this book, according to Origen's prologue, is Christian


perfection." The church "glorious", "holy", "without spot or wrinkle" is the
model for this perfection.63 She is presented to Origen's readers as the perfected
goal toward which they must strive.
Listen to the Song of Songs and make haste to understand it and to join with
the Bride in saying what she says, so that you may hear also what she heard.64
Becoming like the perfect bride is the ultimate goal of the soul which it has not
yet reached. In the present it finds itself among the "maidens" who "although
they are faithful" have not reached the perfection of the bride.65 In the prologue
Origen not only identifies the subject matter of the book, but also the way in
which the hearer is to be related to it. In her words as well as in her movements,
the bride is its ultimate goal, but the maidens represent its present state.
The way in which the soul makes progress is by hearing the words of the
bride, coming to understand them, and then repeating those same words out of
its own understanding. This sequence corresponds to the actual steps in Origen's
exegesis of each verse. He begins with the words spoken by each character in the
dramatic situation (step 1). He explains the meaning of these words as words
61
P. Naurin, Origene, p. 403.
62
Origen explains that the Song of Songs is the seventh of the series of songs which the Israelites sang
in the course of their history. These seven songs mark out the seven stages in the soul's progress
toward perfection. The Song of Songs portrays the seventh and final stage of this progression, Horn,
in Cant. 1,1 (Baehrens, p. 27-28).
63
"ut exhiberet sibi gloriosam ecclesiam non habentem maculam neque rugam aut aliud quid eorum,
sed ut sit sancta et immaculata" Horn, in Cant. 1,1 (Baehrens, p. 29. 2-4).
64
"audi canricum canticorum et festina intelligere illud et cum sponsa dicere ea, quae sponsa dicit, ut
audias, quae audivit et sponsa." Horn, in Cant. 1,1 (Baehrens, p. 29.10-12) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song
of Songs, p. 268.
65
"cum sint fideles" Horn, in Cant. 1,1 (Baehrens, p. 29.4) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 268.

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88 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

spoken by Christ himself or by his church (step 2). He then goes on to interpret
for his hearers what these words mean spoken in their own personal context
(step 3), and ends with an exhortation to his hearers to repeat these words for
themselves (step 4).
This sequence corresponds to the basic four-step schema for the interpretation
of each individual verse which we have already analyzed in chapter two.66 What
interests us here is how Origen has organized a unified interpretation for the
homily as a whole from the sequence of individual verse interpretations. If we
examine the series of steps in which the hearer is brought to participation in the
course of this homily - the series formed by steps 3 and 4 taken from each
individual verse interpretation - then we will again see that it is the journey of the
soul which provides Origen with the organizing principle for his interpretation of
the homily as a whole.
We have listed the series of steps which the hearer is to undertake from the
first homily so that the progression will be readily apparent. According to
Origen's interpretation, the hearer should
1. have the bridegroom touch him which will take away the reek of sin

2.become one mind with Christ, participating in his thoughts (1:2b),


3.become like the bride so as to hear the words of Christ (1:3a),
4.follow Christ running (l:4a),
5.enter the chambers of the mystery of Christ (1:4b),
6.love the bridegroom (1:4c-e),
7.forsaking carnal things, seek after the spiritual (1:5),
8.seek the noonday splendor of the full revelation of the bridegroom (1:7),
9.know himself as one who is desired and praised by Christ (1:8-9),
10.receive the promise that the coming bridegroom will perfect the
understanding of the bride (1:10).67
In order to facilitate comparison and make it more evident that the same
organizing principle is at work in both cases, we include a similar series from the
second homily being analyzed. This homily presents the following steps for the
reader to imitate: he should
1. anoint Christ with good works, which means the forsaking of sins (1:12),
2. receive Christ to the breast, requiring chastity (1:13),
3. become beautiful through being cleansed (1:14),
4. strive for spiritual understanding (1:15),
5. enter into that union with the bridegroom which is already possible in this
bodily life (1:16),
6. build toward the incorruptible (1:17),

See above p. 58.


Origen interprets vs. 1:3b and 1:6 as prophecies, therefore the pattern for their interpretation does
not follow the four steps which characterize the interpretation of the Song of Songs; thus there is no
exhortation to imitation. This is also true for 2:13a in the second homily.

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The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 89

7. commune with Christ in the shadow of his glory, preparing for the full
revelation of his glory (2:1-3),
8. bring Christ into his soul (2:4a),
9. love Christ above all (2:4b),
10. burn with love for him, rest in his wisdom alone (2:5-6),
11. become like a mountain, living among the higher things, so that Christ
will come leaping to him, coming through all of his senses (2:7-8),
12. bear spiritual fruit, because the voice of the Holy Spirit is revealing the
mysteries (2:10-12),
13. leave the shelter of the rock where God is seen from the back (as Moses
knew God) to the knowledge of God face to face (2:13).
The three main stages in Origen's exegesis of the progress of the soul can be
identified in both homilies. The first stage, purification from sin, can be seen in
step 1 of the first homily, and in steps 1-3 of the second homily. The stage of
progress in knowledge covers steps 2-9 in the first homily and steps 4-12 in the
second homiliy. In both homilies it is the last step which reflects anticipation of
the coming perfection, in the first homily step 10 and in the second homily step
13.
This organization of the homilies into the three stages of the journey of the
soul is conscious and intentioned on Origen's part. We can see evidence for this
in the exegesis of the first verses of each homily. Using the journey of the soul as
an organizing principle requires beginning the homily with the stage of
purification. Origen can only get purification as a starting point for his exegesis by
reading from the original meaning of the verses to the implied opposite of that
original meaning. So in the second homily, step 1, where the text speaks of
perfumes, Origen is reminded of the bad odor of our sins and vices. Or in step 2
where the text mentions the breasts of virgins, Origen draws out the opposing
image of harlots' breasts. The very same phenomenon occurs in the first step of
the first homily as well: "If the bridegroom has touched me, I too become of a
good odour,... But we, although we hear these things, still stink of the sins and
vices".68
Origen's exhortations to the hearer concerning the purification from sin
correspond to the process of purification as we outlined it at the beginning of this
chapter. In the first homily, step 1, "virtue" and in the second homily, steps 1 and
2, "good works" and "chastity" all refer to the means by which the soul becomes
freed from sin through the practice of what is good. The diseased faculties of the
soul are restored through the practice of virtue.69
As we have noted a number of times one of the basic features in Origen's
understanding of the journey of the soul which remains constant is that the stage
of purification is an essential preliminary to knowledge of the mysteries. In the

Horn, in Cant. 1,2 (Baehrens, p. 30. 12-15) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 269 (emphasis
added).
Cf. pp. 77-81.

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90 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

exegesis of both homilies we can see that where Origen makes the transition from
the stage of purification to the stage of knowledge, he also makes this relationship
between the two stages explicit as well. In the first homily, step 2 (which is the first
step under knowledge), when Origen instructs his hearers: "Be you... of one
mind with the Bridegroom, like the Bride", he reminds them about the prior
qualities which the soul must possess in preparation for this union.
And if he will condescend to make my soul his Bride too and come to her,
how fair must she then be to draw Him down from heaven to herself, to cause
Him to come down to earth, that He may visit His beloved one! With what
beauty must she be adorned, with what love must she burn that He may say to
her the things which He said to the perfect Bride.70
At this point of the interpretation the Bride is about to receive the thoughts of
Christ (wisdom). Origen reminds the hearer that if he wishes to follow the Bride
in this communion, he must first imitate her perfections, he must be free from the
stench of sins and vices. This transitional remark sets the stage for Origen's
development of the various steps in the progress of knowledge within this first
homily.
In the second homily, the same transition from purification to knowledge is
accompanied and accentuated by a similar exhortation. In step 4 (first step in the
stage of knowledge) Origen urges the hearer to be united with Christ. This is
immediately followed by an explanation of the qualities which make this unity
with Christ possible. It is the one who has "a chaste look and pure eyes" who is
able to see the spiritual meanings of the Law and the Gospel.71 The exegetical
transition from purification to knowledge is determined by the specific
relationship between the two which is given in Origen's concept of the journey of
the soul.
The stage of progress in knowledge occupies steps 2-9 in the first homily and
steps 4-11 in the second homily. In both homilies we find the knowledge of
Christ freely interwoven with themes belonging to union with Christ. This is
another of the constant features in Origen's concept of the journey of the soul,
that the union is achieved through knowledge and that knowledge reaches its
complete form only through union. The union with Christ which is alluded to in
the first homily, step 5, by "chambers of Christ" is given direct expression in
terms of the revelation of his mysteries. Union with Christ is identified with
participation in him through knowledge. The progressive steps toward union

"Si autem et ad meam animam factam sponsam suam venire dignabitur, quam oportet earn esse
formosam, ut ilium de caelo ad se trahat, ut descendere faciat ad terras, ut veniat ad amatam? Quali
pulchritudine decoranda est, quali debet amore fervere, ut ea loquatur ad illam, quae ad perfectam
locutus est sponsam" Horn, in Cant. 1,3 (Baehrens, p. 32.18-23) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs,
p. 272.
"casto conspectu et puris oculis" Horn, in Cant. ,4 (Baehrens, p. 48.5-6) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song
of Songs, p. 290.

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The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 91

with Christ which are given in these two homilies are intended to guide the hearer
into a fuller and fuller knowledge of him. What Origen is presenting is a quest for
spiritual understanding which is nothing other than the quest for union with
Christ himself. Origen urges the hearer to "enter rather into your own inmost
heart and seek diligently with your mind for other eyes,... (to) understand the
Law spiritually"."
An additional basic element in Origen's concept of the progress in knowledge
is the steady upward ascent from one step to the next. The knowledge which the
soul is seeking is a knowledge which leads continually upward toward union
with Christ, and Origen calls attention to it in both homilies. In the first homily,
in both steps 4 and 7 the soul is being taught to leave the knowledge of lower
things and mount up to the knowledge of higher things. In the second homily as
well, similar instructions to hearers trace out an ascending path along which the
hearer is to advance.73 In steps 9, 10 and 12, the hearer is being urged toward
higher and higher love for the Logos, which is the equivalent image to a more and
more perfect union with Christ (steps 7,8,11,13). This interweaving of love and
union in the ascending movement of knowledge reaches its climactic moment in
the final step of the homily which is for Origen the knowledge of God "face to
face".
This last step of the progression in each homily points away toward
consummation. The goal is sketched with only a few broad strokes. It is
presented as the moment which is still to come, die promised fulfillment of the
long process of growth whose continuing ascent the exegesis of the preceding
verses has outlined.
At the end of his second homily Origen explains the verse: "'Show me thy
face/... up to now she has not dared to contemplate the glory of the Lord with
unveiled face. But, because she has already been adorned and prepared, 'Show
me thy face' is said to her."74 This phrase signifies for Origen the state of awaited
perfection, the face-to-face knowledge of God which is the goal of the soul's
progress. This is underlined by the fact that this stage of unmediated knowledge
has not been reached prior to this final moment. In contrast to what has gone
before this final knowledge is not a preparation for something further, but that
toward which the exegesis of the entire homily is pointed.
Origen interprets the second phrase, "let me hear thy voice" in the same way.
The Bride is invited to speak only when she has learned to speak and knows what
73
"ingrediens ad interiora cordis tui et alios 'oculos' mente perquirens,... intelligis legem spiritaliter"
Horn, in Cant. ,4 (Baehrens, p. 48. 8-9,13) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 290.
73
The bride in step 7 cannot speak with Christ, she can only contemplate his majesty and virtues; but
it is through this process that union can take place. The fact of the bride's progress is indicated in the
15th and last step in this homily, she is able to speak with Him face to face.
74
"Ostende mihi faciem tuam.' Usque ad praesentem diem similia dicuntur ad sponsam, necdum
habebat fiduciam, ut 'revelata facie gloriam Domini contemplaretur'. Quia vero iam omata est atque
composita, dicitur ei: Ostende mihi faciem tuam'." Mom. in Cant. 11,12 (Baehrens, p. 60. 9-12)
trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 304.

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92 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

to say. This invitation to speak - which is an unmediated communion with God


- is a recognition of perfection. Again, it is this goal that the hearer is invited to
emulate and to strive for. The first homily ends with the verse: "We will make
thee likenesses of gold with studs of silver." This reference is to knowledge
imparted by angels - which is what Origen understands the "friends of the
bridegroom" to be. But Origen concludes that even this knowledge imparted by
angels is
not for always, only until thy Spouse arises from His rest. For, when He has
arisen, He Himself will make thee gold and silver (i. e. real gold and silver, not
merely their likeness), He will Himself adorn thy mind and thy understanding,
and thou shalt be rich indeed, the Bride made perfect in the House of the
Bridegroom.75
The perfection which Origen indicates in this exegesis of step 10 is clearly a
perfection in knowledge, knowledge no longer mediated through other things,
but knowledge through direct communion with that which is known. This
aspect of the final step in the homily both confirms that it belongs to the stage of
perfection and that this perfection is primarily that of knowledge.
These elements again confirm the extent to which Origen's exegesis in these
two homilies is determined by his basic concept of the journey of the soul as an
organizing principle or framework. As we have already shown for the Psalms in
chapter 1, so also in Origen's exegesis of the Song of Songs his first step is to
identify the subject matter of the text. In the Psalms it was the cure of sin. Here in
the Song of Songs it is Christian perfection. His next step is to place the reader in
relation to this text. For the exegesis of the Song of Songs, Origen has the reader
following the footsteps of the bride at a distance, repeating her words and
entering into her experiences as his own, just as the hearer of the Psalms was
brought into the experience of the Psalmist with the Logos. Once these first
elements of introduction are complete, Origen is in a position to organize the
sequence of the verses into a sequence of steps through which the hearer must
pass. In the Psalms this sequence leads from purification toward divinization,
representing the stage of purification from sin. In the Song of Songs, the sequence
of steps in Origen's exegesis advance toward his main concern here, the mystical
knowledge of Christ - but set within the overall framework of a journey of the
soul which begins with the purification from sin and aspires to union with God.

75
"verum non omni tempore, sed 'donee' sponsus ruus consurgat a 'cubitu'. Si enim ille surrexerit
'ipse tibi aurum', ipse 'faciet argentum', ipse tuam mentem sensumque decorabit, et eris vere dives in
sponsi domo sponsa 'perfecta'" Horn, in Cant. 1,10 (Baehrens, p. 42.6-9) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song
of Songs, p. 283.

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The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 93

Song of Songs: Commentary

Here as in chapter two we wish to compare Origen's procedure of exegesis for


the commentary with his procedure in the homilies. Determining the organizing
principle for a commentary is more difficult than for a homily, because the
homilies are already organized into self-contained units. However the
organization of commentaries which often run into many volumes is not always
so clear.
It is not possible to establish the organizing principle for the commentary on
the Song of Songs with certainty, because we have only a portion of the original
commentary.76 We know from the Prologue that Origen considered the Song of
Songs to be a single literary unit and that his outlined program for its interpretation
encompassed the whole book. According to Origen's explanation of the book,
the progress of the bride through the drama from the bridegroom's first kiss to
the nuptials presents the progress of the perfect soul from the initial entry into
divine mysteries to the final union with Christ.77
The subject matter of the commentary is the mysteries of the Logos, and so
Origen interprets the movement of the bride in a progressively more intimate
relationship with the bridegroom as the movement of the soul into the mysteries
of the Logos. Origen's interpretation moves from the progress of the bride to the
progress of the soul, by means of the five exegetical steps which we examined in
chapter two.78 These five steps constitute the unit of interpretation for the
commentary. The organizing principle for the interpretation of the book as a
whole is given in the Prologue, but without having a complete commentary on
the Songs it cannot be demonstrated that the progress of the soul through the
mysteries is in fact carried through as the organizing principle for the commentary.
Nevertheless there are signs in the surviving portions of the commentary that
Origen closely follows the program of interpretation which he has announced in
the Prologue.
There are several sections of the commentary which show that in Origen's
understanding, the movements of the bride from the scene which opens with
chapter one through to the end of the book, constitute a progression in which the
bride moves step wise ever closer to perfect union with the bridegroom.79 For
example in the interpretation of 2:9-13 Origen returns to the beginning of the
drama and retraces the path of the bride from her first prayer, "Let him kiss me
Origen composed ten books on the Song of Songs, of these four survive in translation by Rufinus.
Cant. Prologus (Baehrens, p. 70); see also Cant. Prologus (Baehrens, p. 83); Cant. HI (Baehrens,
p. 195).
See above pp. 55-57.
Origen refers frequently to this stepwise progression:
we note that as the Word of God is called wisdom and power and the treasure of knowledge, and
many other things, so also is He called the true vine. As, therefore, He makes those to be wise and
understanding and strong in virtue, for whom He is made to be wisdom and understanding, but
does so not all at once, but by certain stages and steps...

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94 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

with the kisses of his mouth", to the coming of the bridegroom to her, to her
entry into his chambers, to her entry into his house of wine, to her searching for
him and seeing him come leaping across the mountain tops toward her.80 Origen
uses this path of the bride as an image for the path of the soul.
For the Bride of the Word, the soul who abides in His royal house - that is, in
the Church - is taught by the Word of God, who is her Bridegroom,
whatsoever things are stored and hidden within the royal court and in the
King's chamber. In this house, which is the Church of the living God, she
becomes acquainted also with the cellar of that wine which is extracted from
the holy wine-presses, the wine that is not only new, but also old and sweet -
that is, the teaching of the Law and the Prophets. And when she has been
adequately trained in that, she receives unto herself the Word Himself who
was God with God in the beginning. He does not always stay with her,
however, for that for human nature is not possible: He may visit her from rime
to time, indeed, and yet from time to time she may be forsaken too by Him,
that she may long for Him the more. But - taking the meaning of the verse
before us - when she is visited by the Word, He is said to come to her leaping
upon the mountains, that is, revealing to her the meaning of high and lofty
truths of heavenly wisdom.. .8'
This summary allows us a look at Origen's overall plan for the interpretation
of the Song of Songs. His explanation begins from the point where the bride is
ushered into the Bridegroom's chambers. This step represents the soul receiving
the secret teachings of the Logos; the next step, the wine cellar, represents the soul
receiving the teachings of the gospel and the apostles (the new wine) and the
teachings of the Law and the Prophets (the old wine). The return of the Logos to
her, "leaping upon the mountains", represents the revelation of the higher
doctrines. The progress of the bride toward her nuptials represents for Origen

"Verbum Dei accipimus sicut 'sapientiam' et 'virtutem' et 'thesaurum scientiae' aliaque multa, ita et
'vitem veram" did. Sicut ergo his, quibus efficitur 'sapientia' et 'scientia', non ad subitum, sed per
profectus quosdam et gradus,..." Cant. (Baehrens, p. 171. 6-10) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of
Songs, p. 167.
Cant. (Baehrens, pp. 217-220).
"Sponsa enim Verbi anima, quae in domo eius regali, hoc est in ecclesia consistit, docetur a Verbo
Dei, qui est sponsus suus, quaecumque sunt reposita et recondita intra aulam regiam et 'cubiculum'
regis; discit in hac domo, 'quae est ecclesia Dei vivi', en'am vini illius, quod de sanctis torcularibus
congregatum est, cellam, vini non solum novi, sed et veteris ac suavis, quae est doctrina legis et
prophetarum; in quibus sufficienter exercitata recipiat in se ipsum, qui 'erat in principio apud Deum
Deus Verbum', sed non semper secum permanentem - non enim possibile est hoc humanae na-
turae -, sed interdum quidem visitetur ab eo, interdum vero relinquatur, ut amplius desideret eum.
Cum vero visitatur a Verbo Dei secundum propositi versiculi sensum, 'per montes saliens' venire
dicitur ad earn, excelsos scilicet et elevatos revelans ei caelestis scientiae sensus..." Cant.
(Baehrens, p. 218. 9-21) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, pp. 231-232.

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The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 95

the progress of the soul in the knowledge which prepares for the perfect union
with the Logos.82
By looking at the teachings, or mysteries of the Logos, through which the soul
is to progress we can see the rough outlines of the progression in knowledge
which has been detailed above.83 The soul's first experience with the Logos
shows it that the treasures of spiritual and mystical knowledge are superior to
those of natural and moral philosophy (1:2). We notice here that a transition has
already taken place through the coming of the bridegroom. It is the transition
from natural and moral philosophy to knowledge of the Logos.84 At this
beginning stage the knowledge of the Logos is knowledge of "the reason for His
coming, the motives of the Redemption and Passion".85 Next the soul enters into
the secrets of the mind of Christ (1:4). The soul then prays for knowledge of
higher things, for the splendor of the noonday revelation of Christ (1:7). Shortly
afterward it gains knowledge of itself (that is, of the motives for its actions) and
knowledge of the nature of the soul - whether it is incorporeal or corporeal,
whether its substance has been made (1:8-9). The soul then receives the promise
of the knowledge of the mysteries of the eschaton (1:11). At this point the soul is
said to possess the ability to understand spiritually (1:17). Subsequendy it gains
not only knowledge of the incarnation, but also knowledge of the pre-incarnate
Logos and his activity in the formation of the world (2:6). After this it is called to
leave off the form of knowledge mediated by symbols and to contemplate the
eternal and invisible. Included in this knowledge are the mysteries of the age to
come (2:9-10).
The stages of the soul's progress in knowledge correspond to Origen's own
description of the progression in knowledge. The knowledge of the world
through natural and moral philosophy forms the first stage.86 The beginning
stage in the knowledge of the Logos is knowledge of his humanity, which means
understanding the reasons for the incarnation.87 The knowledge of the soul, its

" Origen indicates the progress of the bride by comparing a later stage of her progress with an earlier.
In 1:15 she had advanced beyond her state in 1:8-10.
In the former passage, however, He had not praised her face, I think because she had not yet
attained the insight of a spiritual understanding; but now He says: 'thine eyes are doves'. The
greatness of her advance is shown by the fact that she who formerly was called only the fair one
among women, is now called neighbour as well as fair...
"Sed in superioribus non laudaverat visum eius, credo quod nondum ad intuitum profecerat
spiritalis intelligenriae. Nunc ergo ait: 'oculi tui columbae'. Grandis in hoc profectus eius ostenditur,
ut, quae prius tantum 'speciosa in mulieribus' dicta est, nunc 'proxima' et 'speciosa' dicatur..."
Cant. /Z7(Baehrens, p. 173. 6-10) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, pp. 169-170.
" See pp. 82-84.
84
Cf. pp. 72-73.
85
"rationem dumtaxat adventus eius et redemprionis ac passionis causas" Cant. 1,4 (Baehrens,
p. 102.13) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 76.
86
Cf. pp. 82-83.
87
Cf.p.84.

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96 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

nature, its cause (logos) and purpose belong to the next level, the knowledge of
the intelligibles. The second stage in the knowledge of the Logos is the knowledge
of his divinity, a knowledge of his pre-existence and cosmic functions. The next
level is knowledge of the eternal, incorporeal and invisible; it includes knowledge
of the eschatological future. It is to this level of knowledge that the soul is called in
Origen's interpretation of 2:1 -10.
From this analysis of the sequence of the mysteries through which the soul
must pass and from the summary Origen gives in the interpretation of 2:13 it
seems likely that Origen has used the progress of the soul in knowledge as a
principle of organization for the interpretation of the book as a whole and that he
does carry through the program of interpretation which he has outlined in the
Prologue.

Numbers

Origen's introduction to the book of Numbers is not found in his first homily,
but rather in the second. Numbers is a book which records the divine regulating
of the movements of the people of Israel, from the giving of the Law to their entry
into the promised land. What this book teaches is the manner or divine order in
which the people of God come up out of the Egypt of this world and march
toward the promised land which is their glorious inheritance in the kingdom of
heaven.88 In the light of this subject matter the interpretation of the book taken as
a whole portrays the journey of the individual soul toward its inheritance, the
consummated life in the new Jerusalem. The movements of Israel are symbolic
for the two phases of the soul's migration toward the promised land. It is a picture
of the soul's departure from the Egypt of its pagan life and progress toward
perfection. But it is as well a picture of the soul's exit from this bodily life and
beyond death, its progressive ascent to the New Jerusalem.89
Since the subject matter of the book of Numbers is this journey of the soul,
Origen's hearers are to understand themselves as the spiritual people of Israel.
Their spiritual progress toward the heavenly kingdom will follow the same
course as historical Israel followed in its journey to the promised land.
These two presuppositions - the subject matter of the book and the placement
of his hearers within the book - shape the procedure of Origen's exegesis as it has
been outlined in chapter 2.90 Unlike the homilies on the Psalms, his interpretation
here is not based on the words given in the text, but on the history behind the text
whose details he must sufficiently reconstruct as the material basis for his
interpretation. The sequence of steps for the individual verse interpretation thus
differs in detail from the sequence already analyzed for his Psalms interpretation.

Horn, in Num. , (Baehrens, pp. 8-10).


Horn in Num. XXVH,2 (Baehrens, pp. 258-259).
Cf. pp. 124ff.

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The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 97

Origen's exegesis begins from the reconstruction of the historical situation as the
first step. The second step then provides a direct translation of this history into
the spiritual journey of the soul. This means that in his third step there is no
longer a need to relate his hearers in some way to the historical situation of Israel.
The hearer is instead drawn directly into the corresponding spiritual movement
of the journey of the soul.91
In this section we will analyze how the journey of the soul is a unifying
principle for the individual homilies on Numbers. This task is complicated by the
fact that Origen's interpretation does not progress verse by verse as in the
sapiential books, but rather thematically as Origen seeks to understand the
meaning of the history for the journey of the soul.
The sequence of the units of interpretation is set by the series of questions and
themes which Origen takes from the history. For example, the first chapter of
Numbers lists the heads of tribes, their ancestries and the number of males in each
capable of going to war. Origen interprets this chapter by dealing with the
following questions: 1) who are those who are counted? 2) what is the army of
Israel and why are they counted now and not earlier? 3) what is the significance
of the division of the tribes, the various orders, the family groups and the
disposition of the camp? 4) what is the significance of the division of the land?
Each of these questions forms a unit of interpretation. In the process of
answering each question, Origen discovers a teaching on the journey of the soul
concealed within the historical event, which is then applied to the hearer in his
concluding step. These three steps form the exegetical pattern for each unit of
interpretation, which we have analyzed in chapter 2. It is the whole series formed
from the spiritual teachings with their accompanying instructions to the hearer
(steps 2 and 3) that will be the subject of our investigation here to determine the
unifying principle for Origen's exegesis of the homily as a whole. This series
corresponds to the four questions listed above which determine Origen's
individual units of interpretation.
In the first step of this series the soul is urged to leave behind childish thoughts
(those under 20 were not counted), wavering and laxness (women were not
counted), and barbarian conduct (only Israelites were counted). The instructions
of Origen to his hearers in the first step fit exactly Origen's understanding of the
stage of purification. The soul who has left chilclhood behind is the young man
who has overcome the evil one, the instigator of the vices. His spiritual faculties
(sensus) are exercised and developed (not feeble like women), and his habits of
life are shaped by the teaching of God.
In the second step the soul is instructed to belong to "the army which is taught
by God, instructed by the divine Scriptures" (the army of Israel). Here Origen
gives the explanation that knowledge of the teachings of God "which are learned

" See above pp. 52-54.

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98 The Organizing Principle in Origan's Exegesis

from the Scriptures" is an essential element in the advancement of the soul.93 For
Origen the truth learned in Scripture is universal divine truth forming a systematic
whole. This can be seen in the fact that Origen contrasts the truth of Scripture
with Greek philosophy, with the astrological science of the Assyrians, and with
the esoteric wisdom of Egypt.
At the third step the soul receives a glimpse into heavenly orders which await
it. (The divisions of the tribe represent the orders of the resurrection life to which
each soul will be assigned according to its merit.) At the fourth and final step the
soul looks toward the possession of the heavenly land (apportioned by Joshua,
the figure of Jesus). In both steps 3 and 4 Origen draws from the historical details
a picture of the heavenly life to which the soul aspires. He concludes this exegesis
by exhorting his hearers:
And therefore we must hasten on toward Jesus, not the one who is the son of
Nun, but Jesus Christ. Nevertheless let us first place ourselves under the
tutelage of Moses under whom we rid ourselves of the ignorance of childhood
and then press toward the perfection of Christ.93
Out of these four disparate questions Origen constructs a unified sequence of
steps, each of which stands in a natural relation to what follows and to what has
preceded it. The organizing principle of the journey of the soul is clearly evident
in these four steps. The steps divide into the three basic stages of growth, with
step 1 corresponding to the purification from sin, and step 2 concerned with the
advance of knowledge, specifically with the understanding of Scripture as bearing
universal divine truth. Finally, in both steps 3 and 4 Origen is drawing on details
of the heavenly life which correspond with the final stage of perfection. The basic
sequence and direction of interpretation are fully determined by the threefold
division of Origen's concept of the journey of the soul, including the essential
interdependence of the stages and their organization into a continuous ascending
movement.
Let us now look at the organization of Origen's exegesis in the second homily
which interprets the second chapter of Numbers. Moses is giving instructions on
the organization of the camp. Origen repeats the text from Num. 2:2.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "The people of Israel shall encamp each
man according to his rank (ordinem), under his banner (signa) and according
to his father's house (domus familiarum)."93a

"Sola apud Deum virtus Istrahelitica numerator, hoc est ilk virtus, quae a Deo docetur, quae per
scripturas divinas discitur..." Horn, in Num. 1,2 (Baehrens, p. 5. 13-15).
"Et ideo festinandum nobis est pervenire ad lesum, non ilium filium Nave, sed ad lesum Christum.
Prius tarnen paedagogo utentes Moyse et apud eum 'rudimenta infantiae deponentes' sic tendamus
ad perfectionem Christi." Ham. in Num. 1,3 (Baehrens, p. 7.27-p. 8. 1).
"'et locutus est Dominus ad Moysen et Aaron dicens: homo secundum ordinem suum et
secundum signa sua, secundum domus familiarum suarum castra collocent filii Istrahel...'" Horn.
in Num. , (Baehrens, p. 9. 5-7).

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The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 99

Accordingly, Origen divides the homily into three parts or questions: 1) What
is the meaning of the order or rank, and what is the significance of marching
according to the order or rank? 2) What is the significance of the banner (signum)
for marching according to rank? 3) What is the "father's house"? In answering
each question Origen gives the exposition of a doctrine or teaching on the
Christian life and applies it to his hearers. As in the first homily, we shall examine
the sequence of these doctrines and their application to the hearer for the unifying
principle which determines Origen's exegesis of the homily as a whole.
1) Origen first explains "ordinem" as an order of the soul, the proper ordering
of its affections between those set on heavenly things and the provision of earthly
necessities. Therefore Origen exhorts his hearers to turn from their preoccupation
with food and drink, setting aside "one or two hours out of the day for God, to
come to the church to pray and to hear the word of God".94
2) Origen explains the "signum", the banner under which each soul marches,
as distinguishing features of each soul's individuality - the common virtues
stamped with an individual style and accent. He urges his hearers to devote
themselves to good works, because it is precisely in the development of its own
virtues that the individual soul is distinguished. In progressing from the lower to
the higher virtues, the virtues themselves become an increasingly dazzling
signature of the individual soul.
3) The division of the people according to "their father's house" is in Origen's
third and concluding exposition, the heavenly families to which "we will one day
belong if we march in order and do all things in order".943"... then we will blaze
like the heavens or like the stars or the sun itself, we will shine in the kingdom of
God."95
This homily differs from the first in that it is organized as a progression in
virtue. The individual steps in this progression are concerned with the stage of
purification as it has been described earlier in the chapter. This can be seen in the
series of three steps which Origen sets out for the hearer to follow in his
interpretation of the Israelite camp. He is first of all to lift his affections from
earthly things to the heavenly; secondly, to advance in the distinguishing marks
of his soul from the lower to the higher virtues; and finally, to do all of this that he
may reach his promised perfection within the "heavenly families", a perfection
which Origen describes shining as the stars and as the sun itself.
While this is the journey of the soul from the perspective of purification, it
nevertheless retains all of the common elements as an organizing principle for the
94
"unam vero aut duas horas ex integro die etiam Deo deputet et ad orarionem veniat in ecclesiam vel
in transitu verbum Dei audiat..." Horn, in Num. , (Baehrens, p. 9. 30-31).
'" "Sunt enim, ut Paulus superius pronuntiavit, sive 'familiae' istae dicendae sunt, sive 'paternitates in
coelo', ex quibus forte est et ilia, quam in alio loco nominal idem Paulus 'ecclesia primitivorum
adscripta in coelis', cui nos eveniet sociari, si 'secundum ordinem incedamus' et Omnia secundum
ordinem geramus'." Horn, in Num. , (Baehrens, p. 12. 31-p. 13. 2).
95
"tune et 'sicut firmamentum resplendebimus' et 'sicut' stellae vel 'sol' ipse 'refulgebimus' in regno
Dei..." Horn, in Num. ,2 (Baehrens, p. 13.3-6).

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100 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

exegesis of individual verses which we have already seen in the first homily: the
individual steps are progressively linked together in a continuous movement of
ascent toward the goal of an anticipated perfection. While markedly different in
their respective contents, the two homilies clearly share a common hermeneutical
principle.

Jeremiah

In the prologue to the first homily on Jeremiah, Origen explains the subject
matter of the book.
God is quick to do good, but slow to punish those worthy of punishment. He
is of course able to bring down punishment on those upon whom he has
passed judgment in silence, without saying anything beforehand or doing
anything else. However, when he passes judgment he speaks, and this act of
speaking before the sentence falls is intended to turn the convicted man
around and save him from the sentence.96
This intervening activity of God speaking is what the book of Jeremiah is
concerned with in Origen's exegesis. God, moved by his own goodness, speaks
to sinners already standing under his judgment so that they will be turned back
from their sin. For Origen the words of the prophet are God's own merciful
intervention turning us away from sin and judgment. Origen exegetes this
activity of God speaking within the framework of the purification from sin.
From the same prologue we learn further that God's speaking is not exclusively
addressed to the Israelites, who stood under the threat of captivity.
These matters also concern us. If we sin we are also destined to become
captives, for the 'delivery of such a one over to Satan' is no different than the
delivery of those (Israelites) of Jerusalem into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.97
Here Origen places his hearer in a special relationship to the text. The
contemporary hearer is also addressed by the same prophetic word, and his
situation as one standing under God's judgment is in fact identical with the
original situation of the Israelites. This accounts for the exegetical procedure in
Jeremiah as we have analyzed it in chapter two. Origen's exegesis in Jeremiah

" " , .
' ,
, , ,
." Horn, injer, 1,1
(Klostermann, p. 1. 1-6).
91
" , , .
' ' -
" Horn. in.Jer. 1,3 (Klostermann, p. 3. 3-6).

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The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 101

takes the words of the prophet as its point of departure, which he understands to
be already directed toward the hearer in a fundamentally common situation.
Then Origen describes what the hearer is being taught in the prophetic word
from God, the doctrinal content which always underlies the prophetic word of
exhortation or warning. Finally, Origen interprets the passage by instructing the
hearer how he should respond to this word from God once he has understood
it.98
It is as true here as elsewhere that the primary focus of Origen's exegesis lies in
the present relationship of the hearer to the text. The outcome of his exegesis is
always a series of teachings with the corresponding instructions to the hearer,
each one giving the interpretation for a verse or small verse cluster. It is the task of
our present analysis to identify the principle of unity binding this whole series of
verse interpretations together within a single homily. The teachings and
exhortations which form these series of steps are given in brief form below.
We deviate here from our normal practice of analyzing only the first and
second homilies. The second homily in Jeremiah is quite short, a commentary on
only two verses. The resulting two steps of Origen's exegesis is insufficient to
provide a good basis for comparison. The third homily is incomplete in its
received form and is therefore not usable for this task. Instead we will examine the
sequence of steps in the first, the second, and the fourth homilies.
First Homily
1) The hearer is taught that his own sins place him in danger of judgment and
captivity. But before this happens
the words of the prophets, the words of the law, the words of the apostles, and
the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ concerning repentance come to
us and invite us to turn back from our sin."
He is instructed to hear these words and trust the one who promises to turn
back from judgment. (1:1-3)
2) The hearer learns that God only 'knows' those who are worthy of being
known by him and is instructed to do many good works so that he may be
known by God. (1:5)
3) The hearer is taught that Christ is the one who "is set as a prophet to the
nations" and not only "when he was present in the body, but now also he is
present in power by the Holy Spirit".100 (Origen develops the meaning of this
presence in step 5.) (1:5)

" For the analysis of this pattern of exegesis see above pp. 50-52.
" "oi , oi , ,
,
" Horn, injer. 1,4 (Klostermann, p. 3. 19-21).
100
"' '.", " , , ,
Horn, injer. 1,12 (Klostermann, p. 10.8,24-25).

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102 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

4) Origen's hearer is reminded that it is certain that those "who wish to live
pious lives in Christ Jesus" will be persecuted.101 Therefore they are exhorted to
be sure they are unjustly persecuted, rather than justly persecuted for a sin or
crime. (1:8)
5) The hearer learns that the word of God has the power to "uproot, destroy
and tear down" the kingdoms of sin, and has the power to "build and plant" and
that it is through exegesis and preaching that the word becomes effective in the
lives of its hearers. Origen asks,
is there not right now a power in the words which are spoken... which
uproots if it finds unbelief, hypocrisy, vice, or intemperance, and if an idol is
raised in our hearts, is it not razed to the ground, so that this having been
destroyed, a temple of God might be erected so that the glory of God might
enter into this reconstructed temple, that it not become a sacred grove, but a
plantation, a paradise of God where the temple of God in Jesus Christ is.102
Second Homily
1) The hearer is taught that man himself is responsible for the condition of sin;
through it the heavenly image which he bore in the original creation is lost. Now
he bears the image of the earthly man. Origen exhorts him to be transformed
again to the image of the heavenly. (2:21)
2) The hearer learns that there are two kinds of sins, those that the words of
Scripture can cleanse and the more serious sins which can only be cleansed by the
fire of judgement. Origen instructs his hearers:
Let us gather as far as we are able the words of Scripture, that we may lay them
up in our hearts, and try to live them, that we might thereby be able to become
pure before our departure, and having prepared our works in accordance
with this departure, that we be able to be released among the good and to be
saved in Jesus Christ. (2:22)103
Fourth Homily
l)The hearer is told that God is speaking to him through the prophets,

101
" '
... '." Horn, injer. 1,13 (Klostermann, p. 11.18-20).
102
" ,... , ,
, , ; ,
; ,
, ,
, " Horn, injer. 1,16 (Klostermann,
p. 16.4-11).
103
" , ,
' ,
,
" Horn, injer. ,3 (Klostermann,
p. 20.3-8).

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The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 103

presenting the fate of Israel as a warning which he is instructed to heed and


forsake his sins, so that the same fate does not befall him.
2) He should not imitate the ostentation and arrogance of the Pharisees who
go up on every high mountain or embrace the doctrines of the heretics who are
found under every green tree of the sacred groves. (3:6)
3) When the hearer sees in Scripture the fate of the Jews as Judah saw the fate
of Israel he should repent and seriously reflect on the meaning of the repudiation
of the Jews. (3:7)
4) He should study the Scripture and imitate those who were judged righteous
and avoid the sins of those taken into captivity. (3:8)
5) The hearer is taught that sinning is adultery and its consequences are a
stony heart. Likewise, flirtation with the doctrines of the heretics is nothing other
than adultery. (3:9)
6) When the hearer turns again to God, unless it is done with his whole heart,
he can justly be accused of pretence.
But the genuine conversion consists in reading the recognizing those
who were judged righteous and imitating them, seeing who were censured
and avoiding falling into their condemnation; reading the books of the New
Testament, the words of the apostles and after reading to write everything on
your heart and to live according to it, so that we might not be given the
'certificate of divorce'; but that we might be able to enter into our holy
inheritance and then after the fulness of the nations have been saved, Israel also
might enter in. (3:10)104
It is clear that Origen's concern in these homilies is the problem of purification
from sin. If we look carefully at the way these steps are organized in each homily
we can see that Origen has used a progression within the stage of purification
from sin as the unifying principle for his exegesis.
This is no longer the journey of the soul in its complete scope, but the journey
as seen from the perspective of one of its stages. Let us briefly review the
progression within the stage of purification as it was laid out at the beginning of
this chapter from Origen's systematic development of the concept.105 The
process of purification begins with recognition of sin, a recognition which is
brought about by the word of God. It proceeds through a lengthy correctional
process by which the tendency to sin is eradicated and the habit of virtue is

104
" , ,
, , ,
, , ,
, ' ,
, , <>
" Horn, in Jer. IV,6
(Klostermann, p. 29.22-30).
105
. p. si.

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104 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

established. This progression culminates in freedom from sin whereby the soul
becomes worthy of the heavenly promises.
If we examine the way in which the series of steps in each of the above
homilies is organized, we will recognize this basic pattern within purification. In
his first homily Origen confronts the hearer at step 1 with the judgment of God
directed toward him in the words of Scripture "callingfor repentance and inviting
conversion".106 In the course of the interpretation of the steps following he then
shows how change of life is possible: through good works (step 2), through
suffering persecution (step 4), through the power of Christ's healing and saving
word, present in this moment to the hearer (steps 3 and 5). This process of
correction then culminates in the purity which makes the soul worthy of being
God's temple (step 5).
Even in the abbreviated form of the second homily this same process is
repeated. Origen interprets the first verse: "How is it that you have become bitter
and a wild vine?" as God's word of judgment against sinners who have corrupted
their original goodness through sin. The call to repentance, which Origen makes
the theme of this homily, is already implicit in this first judgment. The process of
transformation which dominates exegesis of the second step is correction through
the words of God, all of which have specific powers of healing and cleansing.
With this exhortation comes the warning that what is not purified by the words
of God must be finally purged by the fiery judgment of God. But this judgment
can be averted by storing the words of Scripture in the heart and living in
conformity with them, which will in the end lead to purity.
Origen concludes his introduction to the fourth homily by repeating the
words of the prophet (fer. 3:8) and pointing out that "God is saying this
concerning our own sins".107 In this homily the process of correction is itself
represented as a process of interpreting Scripture. It is through reading about the
judgments on Israel (step 1) and reflecting on the meaning of their repudiation
(step 3), by studying the Scripture in order to imitate the righteous (step 4 and 6)
that the hearer will progress in purification until he is worthy of the holy
inheritance.
This consistent pattern for the progression within purification can also be seen
in remarkably clear form at the end of each homily where Origen summarizes to-
gether each of the preceding steps in his exegesis. This is especially evident in
step 5 of the first homily which has been extensively quoted above. It amounts to
a review of the whole process of purification from the first encounter with the
correcting word, to the removal of all vices and making the soul worthy of being
known by God, to the building of the temple into which the glory of God enters.
There is a similar recapitulation in the second homily, and in the fourth homily,
step 6, which has also been extensively quoted above, there is a clear repetition of

106
" , " Horn, in Jer. 1,4
(Klostermann, p. 3.21).
107
" ." Horn, in Jer. ,4 (Klostermann, p. 26.8-9).

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The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 105

each of the preceding steps, encapsulating their progressive relation to each other
as well as the consistent pattern of conviction and lengthy correction and final
purity.
And in this concluding remark on the fourth homily we should not fail to note
its stress on the interpretation and understanding of Scripture as the essential
medium for the process of purification. This can also be shown for each of the
other homilies. We shall explore the significance of this for Origen's doctrine of
Scripture and his theology of exegesis in chapter 4.

Gospel

It is not possible to follow the same analysis for Origen's interpretation of the
gospels as was done for the Old Testament texts, since the pattern for Origen's
interpretation of Gospel does not include an application to the hearer with each
verse. Thus Origen's interpretation of the Gospels does not include a series of
steps for the reader or hearer to undertake, a series of steps through which
Origen's interpretation of the Old Testament formed a progress of the soul for
the hearer.
This does not mean that the reader or hearer is not related to the text, but
rather as we saw in chapter two he is not related to the text through participation
in the experience of another person.108 His relationship to the text is direct and
unmediated, for through the interpretation the words of the text bring him into
contact with the reality which the text reports. Through the interpretation he is
brought to the present Christ.109 The interpretation as we have seen above leads
the reader from the humanity of Christ to his divinity.
In this sense the interpretation of the New Testament, while not identical to
that of the Old, is analogous to it. The interpretation of the Old Testament causes
the hearer to participate in the Logos through participating in the experience of
the Old Testament saints with Him.'' The interpretation of the New Testament
causes the hearer to participate in the Logos through the movement from His
humanity to His divinity. The interpretation of the Old Testament text brings the
reader to the Logos through a series of steps, through a progression either in
purification or in knowledge, but the interpretation of New Testament texts does
not take the reader through an analogous series of steps. The question we must
deal with here is, Why not?
In order to answer this question we must examine two things, first the content
of Origen's interpretation of the gospel and then Origen's explanation of the
place of the gospel in his whole system. That the spiritual meaning or content of
the gospels is the divinity of Christ is clear not only from Origen's own statement

108
See above p. 67.
109
Jo. 1,4 (Preuschen, pp. 7-9).
110
Cf.
pp.
nr. 116-117
11A-117

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106 The Organizing Principle in Origen's Exegesis

of his intention, but can also be seen in his exegesis of the gospel itself. For
instance each of the sections of Book X of the commentary on Matthew yields a
teaching about the Logos. Sec. 1) the Logos has come down to those who could
not come to him (13:36). Sec. 2) the Logos sows the good doctrines in the soul
(13:37-43). Sec. 3) the treasure in the scriptures is Christ or the treasure in Christ
is his teaching (13:44). Sec. 4) Christ is the key to every other truth (13:45-46)."'
Sec. 6) Christ is the minister of both the Old and New Testaments (13:51-52).
Sec. 7) the divinity of Christ shone through his humanity so that even those of his
home town recognized that he had a different nature (13:53-57). Sec. 8) No
virtue is complete apart from the power which comes from Christ (13:58).
Sec. 9) Christ is the prophetic word reappearing after the death of John the baptist
(14:1-12). Sec. 10) Christ out of his love came in the body to the nations
(14:13-15).
The hearer or reader is normally addressed only at the end of the homilies and
occasionally at the end of the sections of the commentary. In these cases he is
instructed on how to receive his knowledge. In the first homily on Luke the
hearer is told that he is a theophilus (for whom the Gospel of Luke was written),
and that he must be strong and receive this strength from God and His Word and
thus he will be able to understand the words of the gospel. At the end of Homily
three he is told to work in order to become worthy of contemplating the divinity
of Christ, the Logos. At the end of the first section of Book X of the commentary
the reader is instructed to imitate the disciples, to follow Christ, asking him to
explain the parables.112 At the end of section four he is told to progress from
knowledge of the rudiments to perfect understanding of the law and prophets
and to ascend to perfect comprehension of the gospel.113
This gives a good picture of how Origen exegetes the gospel. It discloses the
divinity of Christ the Logos, the movement from the literal sense to the spiritual
sense is a movement from the humanity to the divinity. The task laid on the
hearer or reader by the interpretation is to understand and so to participate in
these disclosures of the Logos.114 In terms of the journey of the soul this
represents the last stage in the progression in knowledge - knowledge of the
Logos.115 There is only one progression from knowledge of the humanity to
knowledge of the divinity. Beyond this there is no further progression in the
knowledge of the Logos - knowledge of the Logos is equivalent to participation
in God, since knowing is the means of participation. This is the reason why there
is no further series of steps to be undertaken by the hearer or reader in Origen's

1
'' Sec. 5 (13:47-50) is an exception, because here Origen is refuting a Gnostic interpretation of the
verses.
112
Comm. in Mt. X,l (Klostermann, GCS 40, pp. 1-2).
113
Comm. in Mt. X.9 (Klostermann, GCS 40, pp. 10-11).
114
In the first homily on Luke Origen explains that many "saw" the humanity but only the disciples
"perceived" the divinity.
115
Cf. pp. 82-84.

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The Journey of the Soul in Origen's Exegesis 107

exegesis of the gospel. The gospel is the end of the progression. The knowledge of
the Logos is the goal of the journey of the soul to know him, to be made like him
and so participate in God like the Logos does.116
This may be seen not only in the difference of subject matter between Old and
New Testament but also in the way Origen expresses the relationship between
Old and New Testament, that the Old Testament is the preparation of the reader
for the New.
Thus the law and the prophets are the first principles which when perfectly
understood lead to a perfect understanding of the gospel and of everything
that concerns the meaning () of the words and acts of Jesus Christ."7
The exegesis of the Old Testament prepares the reader or hearer for the
exegesis of the gospel; unless he is properly prepared he cannot receive the truths
of the gospel.''8 This can also be seen in the arrangement of the liturgical services.
A three-year catechumenate, during which the Old Testament was interpreted,
prepared Christians for participation in the Eucharistic services in which
interpretation of the Gospel was presented.119
Thus we see that the difference in procedure for Origen's exegesis of the
gospel itself rests on his concept of the Christian life or journey of the soul. The
exegesis of the Old Testament prepares the Christian for exegesis of the New by
leading him through the various stages of purification and knowledge which
bring him to the point of knowledge of the Logos. The exegesis of the gospels
takes him from knowledge of the humanity to knowledge of the divinity. The
journey of the soul directs Origen's exegesis of the gospel in that the interpretation
of the gospel forms the final stage in the progression.

1
'' "Jesus himself brings forth out of his treasure at the moment which best accords with his teaching,
the new, that is the spiritual truths which under his tutelage renew the inner man of the righteous
without ceasing who is renewed day by day and the old, that is what is written in letters, engraved
in stone and upon the stony heart of the old man... so that he may make him like Himself."
"... ,
'
' ', ' '
, ... " Comm. in Mt ,15
(Klostermann, GCS 40, p. 19.18-22,24-25).
117
"
."
Comm. inMt , (Klostermann, GCS 40, p. 11.25-27). See also Comm.mMt. X,8 (Klostermann,
GCS 40, pp. 9-10); Cant. (Baehrens, p. 218).
111
Jo. 1,7 (Preuschen, pp. 11-13).
119
P. Naurin, Origene, pp. 389-409.

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IV. THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF ORIGEN'S
EXEGETICAL PROCEDURE

DOCTRINE OF SCRIPTURE: PRESENCE OF THE LOGOS IN SCRIPTURE

We have seen enough of Origen's interpretive procedure to recognize that his


exegesis is thoroughly dominated by his understanding of the Logos.1 Origen's
Logos doctrine determines his approach to exegesis in several different ways.
First of all, it is the presence of the Logos in Scripture which defines the spiritual
sense. Everywhere Origen turns in Scripture he always finds this one thing - a
teaching activity of the Logos. But this single content of Scripture, so
comprehensive yet diverse in its forms, presupposes an already complex network
of relationships between Logos and Scripture in Origen's thought. The doctrine
of the Logos as guiding principle of Origen's spiritual exegesis includes the origin
of Scripture from the Logos, the manifold forms of the Logos activity in Scripture
and the pedagogical use of Scripture by the Logos in its present interpretation. It
will be the task of this chapter to define and to categorize the various relationships
of the Logos to Scripture, both as they form a comprehensive doctrinal
framework for Origen's exegesis and as they specifically determine the goal of
that exegesis.
The complex and yet rich web of relationships which exist in Origen's
thought between Logos and Scripture reach back to the order of creation and
stretch forward into the present. Let us begin with Origen at the very beginning
of this great nexus.
Furthermore, the law of Moses was (given) through angels by the hand and by
the power of a mediator who is Christ, who when he was in the beginning was
the Word of God and was with God and the Word was God and served the
Father in all things. Everything was made by him, that is, not only creatures,
but also the law and the prophets. And He is himself the mediator between
God and men. For as we know, the Word was made man in Jesus Christ at the
end of the ages. But before His coming and manifestation in the flesh He was
the mediator for men, He was however (at that time) not man. He was
nevertheless then also the mediator between God and man. Thus the law was
given through angels. However it does not say that the law was given apart
from the hand of this very mediator and so "the law is holy and the

In chapter one we saw that Origen's interpretation identified the teachings of the Psalm as the
teachings of the Logos and that within the framework of the interpretation the hearer was brought
into the presence of the teaching Logos. We noticed also that purification was the work of the Logos
and in chapter three we saw that the progression in knowledge was a progress in the knowledge of
the Logos.

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Dextrine of Scripture 109

commandment is holy and just and good, and all of it has been sanctified by
Christ".2
In this passage there are two distinct analogies of Scripture - that it bears the
image of the Logos in analogy to creation and that it forms a mediating activity of
the Logos in analogy to the incarnation. This double analogy illuminates the
roots of Origen's exegesis in his Logos doctrine. Let us explore each one
carefully.

The Image of the Logos in Scripture

Analogy of creation

In the above text Origen argues that the law though given by angels is
nevertheless instituted by the mediation of Christ. His first argument reasons that
the preeminence of the Logos and his agency in creation place the Scriptures in
the same relationship to him as that of creation itself. Creation, because of the
agency of the Logos in its formation, bears his image and is stamped with his
nature.3 And therefore by virtue of this same agency the Scriptures also bear an
image of the Logos. The image of the Logos in created things is to be found in
their rationality (their logos), in the reason why they were made, in the purpose
for which they exist.4 In short, the image of the Logos is to be found in that which
gives meaning to things. This image of the Logos cannot be read from the surface
of things, but must be discovered by an act of knowledge, by penetrating into
their hidden nature.5 Scripture, according to Origen, must also be understood in
this way. Therefore, we must first ask what is the image of the Logos in Scripture.
2
"Data est autem lex Moysi per angelos in manu et virtute mediatoris Christi, qui cum esset in
principio Verbum Dei, et apud Deum esset, et Deus esset Verbum, Patri in omnibus ministravit.
Omnia enim per ipsum facta sunt, id est non solum creaturae, sed et lex, et prophetae; et ipse est
mediator Dei et hominum. Quod Verbum in fine quidem saeculorum homo factus est Jesus
Christus, sed ante hunc manifestum in carne adventum mediator quidem erat hominum, sed
nondum erat homo. Erat tarnen et tune mediator Dei et hominum; unde et data lex per angelos, sine
ipsius Mediatoris manibus data esse non dicitur, ut esset lex sancta, et mandatum sanctum, et
justum, et bonum; et omnia haec sannficarentur a Christo." Fr. in Col. (Migne, PG 14, cols. 1297.C
- 1298.C).
3
Princ. I Cap. 2,2-3 (Koetschau, pp. 28-31).
4
Princ. Cap. 11,4 (Koetschau, pp. 186-187).
5
Origen describes this process allegorically as "lifting up the eyes" because the whiteness of the fields
is the brightness of the Word shining and illuminating all the fields of Scripture, Jo. ,42
(Preuschen, pp. 267-269). The same kind of image appears in the interpretation of the Song of
Songs. The bride sees her bridegroom "leaping upon the mountains" of the Scriptures
and, now that the veil that covered them before is taken away, she perceives Him breaking out
and emerging from individual passages in her reading and bursting out of them in a manifestation
that is now quite plain.

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110 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

The Spiritual Sense is the Logos Image

The image of the Logos is to be sought not in the material elements of


Scripture, either in the letter or in the particularity of history, but rather in its
inner sense, in the rationality (logos) of Scripture.6 Just as the Logos is reflected in
the sense and meaningfulness of created things, so he is also the sense and the
rationality of Scripture.7 Both the material element of Scripture and its rationality
are the work of the Logos, but the material element, the literal sense, holds the
image of the Logos veiled and the rationality of Scripture, its spiritual sense,
presents the image of the Logos unveiled.
For just as he is cloaked by the flesh, so also he is clothed with the garment of
these words, so that the words are that which is seen, just as the flesh is seen,
but hidden within (the words) the spiritual sense is perceived, just as the flesh
is seen and the divinity perceived.8
The rationality of Scripture is its spiritual sense (spiritalis sensus). And the
content of this spiritual sense is the Logos, Christ in his divinity, hidden to be sure
under the cloak of the letter, but a cloak which creates the possibility of his
becoming known.9

The Spiritual Sense is Universal Teaching of Christ

But in what form is the Logos himself to be understood as the spiritual sense of
Scripture? How is the Logos enclosed within the letter as its spiritual content? In
answering this question Origen describes in De Principiis the foundation for his
Logos doctrine of Scripture.
All who believe and are certain that grace and truth come through Jesus Christ
and that Christ is the truth according to his own testimony, "I am the truth",
these have received the knowledge which moves men to live happily and well,
knowledge which comes from nowhere else than the words and teachings of
Christ. The words of Christ however, according to our understanding, are
not only those which he taught in the flesh when he was made man, for also
before this time Christ was the Word of God in Moses and in the prophets.

"quo prius tegebatur, 'velamine' ebullire eum cernat et emergere atque evidenti iam manifestatione
prorumpere." Cant. IQ (Baehrens, p. 205.3-5) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 214.
H. Crouzel, Origene et la "connaissance mystique", p. 109; R. G gler, Zur Theologie des biblischen
Wortes bei Origenes, p. 261.
Cant. (Baehrens, p. 211-213).
"Nam sicut ibi carnis, ita hie litterae velamine tegitur, ut littera quidem adspiciatur tamquam caro,
latens vero intrinsecus spiritalis sensus tamquam divinitas sentiatur." Horn, in Lev. 1,1 (Baehrens,
p. 280. 10-13); see also Horn, injer. Frag. (Klostermann, pp. 196-198).
R. G gler, Zur Theologie des biblischen Wortes bei Origenes, p. 261; H. Lubac, Histoire et Esprit, p. 93.

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Doctrine of Scripture 111

For how could they have prophesied about Christ without the Word of
God?10
The universal content of Scripture is the teaching of Christ the Logos.11 The
content of Scripture is everywhere identical with the teaching of the incarnate
Christ because the truth contained in these teachings is a universal truth taught by
Christ himself from the time of the patriarchs to the time of his incarnation. And
the purpose of these teachings then as now remains unchanged, to enable men to
live well and blessedly, i.e. from the knowledge of the Logos.

The Origin and Intent of the Spiritual Sense

This universal teaching of the Logos in Scripture has a different dimension


than the teaching Christ gives as the incarnate Logos. In the incarnation the
Logos speaks with his own voice. In Scripture he speaks through the mouth of
the prophets and the saints.
According to Origen's doctrine of inspiration, the Logos does not speak
through them as through an amanuensis, but rather he speaks through them in so
far as he has first spoken to them. The prophets speak and prophesy out of their
own unique and individual experience with the Logos. They write what they
have first seen. The same holds true for the New Testament saints.12
Once they have drawn the intelligible out of the historical, it is their intention
to teach us through signs the things (of God which they contemplated) with
their intelligence.13
They interpret and record history like the Old Testament saints, using it as an
image or symbol to communicate spiritual truths which they have themselves
grasped in their contemplation of the Logos. The teachings of the Logos found in
Scripture all originate from an historical encounter with the Logos. The inspired
writers of sacred history write out of their own experience with die Logos and the
record of these encounters is composed for our benefit.14 There is a divine
10
"Omnes qui credunt et certi sum quod gratia et veritas per lesum Christum facta sit, et Christum
esse veritatem norunt, secundum quod ipse dixit: 'Ego sum veritas', scientiam quae provocat
homines ad bene beateque vivendum non aliunde quam ab ipsis Christi verbis doctrinaque
suscipiunt. Christi autem verbis dicimus non his solum, quae homo factus atque in carne positus
docuit; et prius namque Chrisms dei verbum in Moyse atque in prophetis erat. Nam sine verbo dei
quomodo poterant prophetare de Christo?" Princ, I Praef. 1 (Koetschau, pp. 7.9-8.2).
11
Cant. (Baehrens, p. 204).
12
Jo. X,4 (Preuschen, pp. 173-175).
" "... ,
.. ."Jo. X,5 (Preuschen, p. 175.4-6).
14
According to Origen the writers of scripture are responsible for the spiritual sense as well as for the
literal sense. They wrote with the intention to disclose the Logos and thereby edify and form their
readers.

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112 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

intentionality in their writing. It is directed toward the future, toward us, and it is
intended to teach universal, spiritual truth of the Logos through these historical
and material symbols.

Historical Limit of the Spiritual Sense

As we have seen in De Principiis and the Commentary on John, the teachings


of the Logos which are found in Scripture spring from encounter with the Logos,
in the Old Testament on the pan of Moses and the prophets, and in the New
Testament on the part of the Gospel writers. However, since a historical event is
the medium of their encounter with the Logos, their knowledge of the Logos is
conditioned by the limits of time and place.
In order to gain some idea of the intention of the Gospel writers on this matter
let us suppose that certain ones behold God present to them by the Spirit and
perceive his word which he addresses to the saints, which is the form of his
coming when he stands before them at selected moments of their (spiritual)
progress... Each one announces what he has seen by the Spirit concerning
God and his words which are manifested to the saints. The one reports the
words of God and the acts of God as they relate to particular just men at a
particular place; the next reports the revelations and the works accomplished
for another.15
Origen argues that the experience of the saint () with the Logos is
conditioned by the specificity of the time () into which he enters (that is the
specific moment in the advancement [] of the saint), by the particularity
of the place () and by the particularity of the individual (). These
reports about God can only be partial, although they will agree with each other in
"the question of God and of his acts of goodness toward some" but they will not
be able to express the totality of his being, for who could "imagine that God is
capable of being delimited to one place".'6 This means that the Logos in Scripture
enlightens the eye of the reader, not in the unitary brilliance of his own light, but
15
" ,
.
, ,
...
, ,
,
..." Jo. X,4 (Preuschen,
. 173.33-. 174.4,6-10).
16
" . . .
..."
" " Jo. X,4 (Preuschen,
. 174.24-26,29-30).

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Doctrine of Scripture 113

rather in the multiplicity and diversity of individual colorations which are all
partial forms of the single light once it has been diffracted through the experience
of the saints.

The Mediating Activity of the Logos in Scripture

Analogy of the Incarnation

Let us return to Origen's second argument for the Logos origin and content of
the Old Testament.17 This section of Origen's argument begins with the state-
ment: "And he himself is the mediator between God and man".18 The
paradigmatic form of this mediation is given in the incarnation which is the fullest
expression of Christ's mediating activity. From here Origen argues that if Christ
is once mediator then he is mediator for all time. He did not first become
mediator in the incarnation, but rather mediated between God and men before
this event in that he mediated between God and men in the Scriptures." The
central point of this passage is that the mediating activity of the Logos in Scripture
is analogous to his mediating activity in the incarnation. This means that we must
understand that Scripture not only contains the teachings of Christ (the spiritual
sense as image of the Logos) but also that Scripture is itself identified with one of
the forms of the mediating activity of Christ. We must now investigate how this
mediation of the Logos through Scripture is analogous to his mediation in the
incarnation.

Three Forms of the Mediating Activity of the Logos

There are in fact three distinct forms under which Origin recognizes a
mediating activity of the Logos. Each of these three forms is represented in a
distinct way in Origen's interpretation of Scripture. In the 9th Homily on
Jeremiah Origen sets all three mediations of the Logos side by side.
The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ recorded by history is a coming in the
flesh, a universal act which illuminated the entire world, for "the Word was
made flesh and dwelt among us", "he was the light which lightened! every
man which comes into the world; he was in the world and the world was
made by him and the world did not know him; he came unto his own and his
own received him not." It is necessary also to understand that he came in the
beginning though not bodily, to each of the saints. And after his coming in
which he was seen with earthly eyes he comes again to us ... It is necessary for
17
Seep. 109, n. 2.
" "et ipse est mediator Dei et hominum" Fr. in Col. (Migne, PG 14, col. 1297 C 6-7).
" Jo., Frag. 63 (Preuschen, pp. 533-535).

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114 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

us to know these things (that Christ has come to each of the Old Testament
saints) since there is above all for those who would profit from it, a coming of
the Logos to each individual. For what profit is it to me, if the Logos comes to
the whole world and I do not possess him?20
The incarnation is the central and indeed paradigmatic form of this mediating
activity of the Logos. But preceding it there is a pre-incarnate coming of the
Logos, which is his revelation of himself to the Old Testament saints.2' And there
is a present activity of the Logos, which is the disclosure of himself to us through
the spiritual sense of Scripture. Let us examine each of these three comings of the
Logos in turn in order to discover what it is about the incarnation which makes
every other coming of Christ an analogy to this one.22

The Universal Pedagogy of the Logos in the Incarnation

The universal pedagogy of the Logos refers to his comprehensive work of


guiding fallen souls back to their original state of perfect knowledge. The
incarnation is the paradigm for this pedagogy and all other forms of the pedagogy
of the Logos are simply extensions of this one pedagogical activity.23

20
"
, '
'. '' '
. , ' ,
. , ',
, , ,
... ,
, , ,
, ;" Horn, injer. , (Klostermann,
p. 63.17-26, p. 64.6-8); Ham. in Lev. 1,1 (Baehrens, pp. 280-282).
21
Jo. VI.3-4 (Preuschen, pp. 109-110).
22
R. G gler, 'Die christologische und heilsgeschichtliche Grundlage der Bibelexegese des Origenes",
ThQ 136 (1956) pp. 1-13, speaks of these as adaptations of the Logos - his adaptation to history in
which he is the word of revelation and his adaptation to corporality which is his coming in the flesh.
The task of exegesis then is to discover the Logos in and through his adaptations to history and to
flesh as they are given in Scripture.
23
H. Koch, Pranoia undPaideusis (AKG, 1932), argues that the cosmos itself is according to Origen a
medium for die divine pedagogy. This is true in a limited sense. The material world is intended to
make the soul conscious of the distance of its fall from God. The cosmos is also a dim reflection of
the world of the intellegible from which the soul has fallen. But the cosmos can do no more than
point beyond itself; it cannot lead the soul back. The only true pedagogy is the one capable of
bringing a knowledge of the intelligible that can be grasped by souls imprisoned in the material
world and thus lead them out. This is the pedagogy of the Logos. Koch's description of cosmos and
providence as pedagogical institutions fails to explain how they are capable (1) of communicating a
knowledge of God under the conditions of corporality, and (2) how what they teach actually leads

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Doctrine of Scripture 115

In Origen's parabolic interpretation of Matt. 14:13-14, Christ appears in the


body "going out to meet those who are not able to come to him".24 In this brief
formulation two major elements come to expression for Origen's understanding
of the incarnation. The coming of Christ in the body emphasizes the historical
event. For Origen "taking on flesh" emphasizes the entry into time. But the
historical uniqueness of the event is fully equal in Origen's understanding to the
universal dimension of its scope. This second aspect of its universal dimension
emphasizes his coming to us, his coming to us "because we were not able to come
to him". In so doing he traverses the ontological distance between God and man.
God is absolute unity and simple, but the Saviour on account of the multiplicity
of things and of sin was predestined to be a propitiation and he, the first fruits
of the whole creation, became himself many things and became perhaps
everything that each creature capable of redemption would need from him.25
The incarnation is the supreme mode of the coming of the Logos to us. In the
incarnation the Logos becomes the multiplicity of things that translate the
undivided nature of God into its many aspects () so they can be known.
Each of the titles of Christ communicates an aspect of the divinity.26 It is these
which Origen designates as the . In the incarnation they become visible
for the first time and consequently it is possible to imitate the attributes of God
and thus come to resemble him.27
Therefore the incarnation is not only universal in its comprehensive disclosure
of the divine Logos but it is also universal in that in the taking on of flesh the
Logos makes himself comprehensible to all those who wear flesh. Therefore in
the incarnation he is the universal pedagogue, both in his own unique time and in
our time, because in the incarnation he has created the human conditions of his
own perfect intelligibility for all time.
For Origen's concept of the incarnation the taking on of flesh is only the last
event or moment of a long descent. For Origen the event of the incarnation
encompasses the entire course of the long descent of the Logos from his being
with the Father to his being in the flesh.
The coming of our Lord and Saviour into the world is accomplished in
forty-two generations. (Matt. 1.17)... The forty-two generations are the

the soul back to God. What is needed is a treatment of the divine pedagogy that is correlated with
Origen's understanding of redemption.
24
" " Comm. in Ait.
.23 (klostermann, GCS 40, p. 32.25-26).
25
" , '*
' ' ,
, ." Jo. 1,20 (Preuschen,
p. 24.23-26).
26
Jo. UO-39 (Preuschen, pp. 24-51).
27
Jo. XK,23 (Preuschen, pp. 324-325).

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116 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

stations through which Christ descended into the Egypt of this world... Let
us mount by the stations of his descent, and take for our first station his last -
his birth from a virgin.28
Origen conceives the incarnation as a way. The distance between being in the
Father and being in the flesh is a graded distance, an ontological gradient which
can be ascended and descended.
The incarnation thus holds for Origen not only the unique meaning of the
kenosis, but also the universal pedagogy which corresponds to it. In fact the
meaning of this unique kenosis is realized specifically in the universal mission to
all men which is its fulfillment.
God has sent the Word, his own son to rescue us out of ignorance and error
and to lead us to the light of his divine law... whoever ascends, ascends with
him, the one who has descended all the way to us so that we might be able to
reach the place from whence he descended.29
The purpose of the descent and of the taking on of flesh is the education and
transformation of the human race.
The instruction which delivers from error forms a way which leads upward
toward God along the very way by which the Logos himself descended. This is
Origen's understanding of the universal pedagogy of the Logos. In this pedagogy
the historical event of the incarnation is also a universal event. In this pedagogy
the historical activity of the Incarnate coincides with the whole activity of the
Logos Christ. In appearing in the flesh and in time the Logos becomes visible for
all flesh and for all time. The mission of the Logos within the time of the
incarnation is equally his universal mission outside of time. It is this central event
which extends into the distant past of the prophets and forward into the time of
Origen's hearers.

The Historical Pedagogy of the Logos to the Saints

In Origen's thought the universal pedagogy of the Logos which finds complete
expression in the incarnation also precedes the incarnation, for the Logos is
eternally himself and therefore eternally mediator.

21
"adventus Domini et Salvatoris nostri in hunc mundum per quadraginta et duas generariones
adducitur... Istas ergo quadraginta et duas generarionum 'mansiones', quas Christus fecit
descendens in Aegyptum mundi huius,... incipiamus per ea, quae descendit Christus, adscendere
et primam mansionem istam facere, quam ille novissimam fecit, scilicet qua natus ex virgine est"
Horn, in Num. XXVH.3 (Baehrens, p. 259.22-p. 260.19).
29
"Dominus... 'misit' Verbum 'suum unigenitum Filium', qui nos de ignoranria erroris ereptos ad
lucem divinae legis adduceret... Qui ergo adscendit, cum ipso adscendit, qui ad nos inde descendit,
ut illuc perveniat" Ham. in Num. , 2-3 (Baehrens, p. 259.17-19, p. 260.5-6).

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Doctrine of Scripture 117

For at first Christ was the Word of God in Moses and the prophets. For
without the Word of God, how would they have been able to prophesy
Christ?30
We know from this that the Old Testament saints possessed a knowledge of
the Logos analogous to that of those who stood under the tutelage of the
incarnate Logos. Origen uses Jesus' argument for the resurrection of the dead,
"God is not the God of the dead, but of the living".31
If God is not ashamed to be called the God of these men and if they are
counted among the living by Christ,... shall we hesitate to point out that the
living (the Old Testament saints) knew the teachings of the living, having been
taught by Christ before he became flesh... ? This is why they are called living,
since they participate in the one who says am the Life*. And as inheritors of
such great promises they have received not only the appearances of angels, but
also the appearing of God in Jesus Christ... they both knew God and
understood the words of God in a way appropriate to the divine majesty,
therefore it is recorded that they saw G-od and knew him... And it is clear
that Moses saw in the law the truth of the law and understood the ascending
sense () of the allegories of the histories which were written by
him.32
Their knowledge of the Logos was also mediated not by the flesh as in the
incarnation, but through the symbolic form of the law and the histories. What
they grasped though in this form was the teachings of the Logos given by Christ
himself. Their knowledge of the Logos was equivalent to their participation in
him. It is the record of this experience with the historical pedagogy of the Logos
which is given for us in the law and the prophets.

The Contemporary Pedagogy of the Logos through Scripture

The same universal pedagogy of the Logos reaches forward to us just as its
backward sweep included the patriarchs. This is the third form of the divine

30
"et prius namque Christus dei verbum in Moyse atque in prophetis erat. Nam sine verbo dei
quomodo poterant prophetare de Christo?" Princ. I Praef. 1 (Koetschau, p. 7.14-p. 8.2).
31
Mark 12:26.
32
" ' '',
,...
, ... ; ,
' ',
" ... ,
, ...

' ". Jo. VI,4 (Preuschen, p. 110.12-13,16-20, 22-24, p. 111.6-8).

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118 Theological Foundations of Origan's Exegetical Procedure

pedagogy, the mission of the Logos to us which is his coming to the individual
soul. Whereas his universal coming was in the flesh and his coming to the saints
was in the prophetic voice, he comes to the individual in Scripture, clothing
himself in language in order to become visible and so offering himself in a form
suited to each individual soul.
Every rational nature has need of nourishment which is proper to him and
which is adapted to his case. The true nourishment of the rational nature is the
Word of God. But as we have just shown, there are many differences in the
nourishment of a physical body, so all the rational natures which are nourished
as we have said by the Word of God, do not receive him under the same form.
As in the nourishment of the body, so also in the Word of God there is a diet
of milk, the clear and simple teachings, those concerning the moral, which are
given to those beginning the divine study, who are receiving the basics of
rational knowledge.33
For Origen the divine pedagogy remains fundamentally the same in each of its
three forms, whether it is the teaching of the pre-incarnate Logos, or its perfect
exemplification in the incarnation of the Logos or its spiritual application in the
present. It is always the Logos, the personal Christ, who is acting and his activity
is always to teach. He teaches by becoming "incarnate" in a form by which he
makes himself visible to those he instructs - voice, flesh, language. The divine
pedagogy is above all doctrine, and we shall see in the section following that it is
through the doctrines of Scripture - which the Logos himself teaches - that he
makes himself present to us in the third form of his divine pedagogy.

Scripture as Logos-Pedagogy for the Individual

In our study above we have seen that Scripture is determined by the Logos in
two ways. First of all Christ the Logos forms the spiritual sense of Scripture. He is
the meaning, divine origin, and universal content of the spiritual sense. Secondly,
Scripture itself particularly in its spiritual sense is one form of the mediating
activity of the Logos. The concept of the image of the Logos in Scripture
underlines the extent to which the Logos is the real content of Scripture. But the
concept of Scripture as a form of his mediating activity indicates that the Logos
also acts in and through Scripture. And his action in Scripture belongs to the

"Omnis natura rarionab is propriis et sibi competenribus nutriri indiget abis. Cibus autem verus
naturae rationabilis sermo Dei est. Sed sicut in nutrimentis corporis multas paulo ante dedimus
differentias, ita et natura rarionabilis, quae ratione et verbo Dei, ut diximus, pascitur, non omnis uno
atque eodem verbo nutritur. Unde ad similitudinem corporalis exempli est aliqui eriam in verbo Dei
cibus 'lacris', aperrior scilicet simpliciorque doctrina, ut de moralibus esse solet, quae praeberi
consuevit his, qui iniria habent in divinis studiis et prima erudirionis rarionabilis elementa suscipiunt"
Horn, in Num. , (Baehrens, p. 255.25-p. 256.8).

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Doctrine of Scripture 119

larger context of his mediating activity in the Incarnation and in the history of the
saints. These wider forms of the activity of the Logos reappear in Scripture, but
now in the form of the content of Scripture. In this third form they have become
historical and universal dimensions of the spiritual sense in Scripture.
The Incarnation, the form in which the Logos manifests himself in his divine
fulness and totality, is the universal content of Scripture.34 The truth of all the
doctrine to be found in Scripture is in all its diversity not other than this universal
truth of the Logos revealing himself. The mediating activity of the Logos in his
historical education of the saints provides the source for Scripture as a written
document. What they wrote and what they understood originates from their
own experience with the pedagogy of the Logos. They wrote by the Spirit what
the Logos taught them in order to teach us the same truth. This is true for the
New Testament writers as well as for the prophets.35 But in the third and final
form of the mediating activity of the Logos, his contemporary pedagogy, we are
in the sphere of the application of Scripture to ourselves.

Doctrine as the Contemporary Form of Divine Pedagogy

Scripture as the mediating activity of the Logos makes the contemporary


hearer the goal ofthat mediation. As we have seen above, Scripture is the way in
which the Logos comes to the individual. This third coming of the Logos is a
disclosure of himself to the soul. Before going on to describe the various ways in
which the Logos mediates himself through Scripture, we must first answer the
question: how is it that the living Logos can mediate himself through a written
word?
Here we encounter the same duality with which we began this chapter.
Scripture is both a mediating activity of the Logos and at the same time has
doctrines of the Logos as its content. This dual dimension of Scripture, activity
and content, reflects a similar duality in the Logos himself as the one who not
only mediates knowledge but is also the object of knowledge. In Origen's
understanding the Logos is always both personal subject and objective order of
things. This seemingly paradoxical duality can also be expressed in terms of its
inner unity in the concept of the Logos as selfrevealing subject. The Logos
announces himself, he is the subject matter of his own proclamation.36 So it is also
in Scripture where the Logos is the one who teaches the doctrine contained in
Scripture. When he reveals the mysteries, the spiritual content of Scripture to his

34
What the Logos makes manifest in his incarnation is nothing other than what he teaches in
Scripture. Scripture therefore reveals the Logos in the same way as the incarnation does.
35
Jo. X,4 (Preuschen, pp. 173-175).
36
Jo. XL28 (Preuschen, pp. 251-253).

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120 Theological Foundations of Origan's Exegetical Procedure

hearers, it is himself that he discloses.37 The treasures of knowledge when they


are opened always contain Christ hidden within.38
The content of Scripture is nothing other than the Logos incarnate in language,
for the doctrines in Scripture disclose each in a partial and progressive or
sequential way the nature of the Logos who is fully disclosed in his incarnation.
But it is in the contemporary form of doctrine, not flesh, in which he makes
himself accessible to the individual.
Every rational nature has need of nourishment which is proper to him and
which is adapted to his case. The true nourishment of the reasonable nature is
the Word of God.39
It is the nature of the soul to be a rational being, and by virtue of this rationality
it participates in the being of God.40 In mediating himself in the form of doctrines
in Scripture the Logos not only proffers himself in a form commensurate with his
own nature, but also in a form which is perfectly adapted to the nature of the soul.
Therefore the rational teachings of the Logos which the Scripture mediates
provide the means or growth proper to the soul's rational nature.
And since, as we have already seen in the third chapter, this growth is a
progressive education or progress of the soul, it is the very diversity of the
doctrines in Scripture which make them the perfect pedagogical instrument for
the revelation of the Logos. It is in this way that the Logos is present in scripture
as the universal truth; universal in the sense that the whole truth of the Logos is
presented and universal in the sense that here he is offerred in a form which all can
receive.
Doctrine then is the means by which the Logos communicates himself to the
soul. But for Origen the hermeneutical question of the contemporary sense is
how the doctrines of the Logos in their universal scope as the spiritual sense in
Scripture can be tailored (pedagogically) to the peculiar need and circumstance of
the individual soul4'; he believes that it is the Logos himself who administers the
universal doctrine to the individual in the interpretation of Scripture. Origen
discovers in the spiritual sense a progressive disclosure of the Logos which makes
possible a progressive comprehension of him, a comprehension which forms the
progress of the soul in the hearer. Accordingly, Origen describes the
administration of doctrine to the soul as a divine pedagogy of the Logos in two

37
R. G gler, Zur Theologie des biblischen Wortes bei Origenes, p. 263.
38
Comm. in Mt. X,6 (Klostermann, GCS 40, p. 6).
39
Omnis natura rationabilis propriis et sibi competentibus nutriri indiget cibis. Cibus autem verus
naturae rationabilis sermo Dei est." Ham. in Num. , (Baehrens, p. 255.25-p. 256.1).
40
Princ. Cap. 11,7 (Koetschau, pp. 191-192).
41
The problem for Origen is that the condition or state of advancement of the soul determines its
ability to receive the doctrines of die Logos and therefore the presentation of the doctrines must
observe these limits. We encounter this principle even outside of the exegetical works, Dial. 12,15-
13,18 (Scherer, SC 67, pp. 82-83).

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Doctrine of Scripture 121

distinct phases, healing from sin and knowledge of mysteries, leading toward
perfect union with the Logos.

Doctrine in the Progress of the Soul

What underlies Origen's view that doctrines are the essential element in the
progress of the soul are conceptions that he shares with Platonism. The soul
attains perfection when it is able to know the good in a direct and immediate
form.42 The necessary conditions for knowledge of this kind is a certain kinship
or resemblance between the subject and the object of contemplation.43 The
process of achieving the desired resemblance to the object of knowledge is a
process of becoming like God ( ).44 The soul is able to achieve
this resemblance to God or the good (the intelligible) through the exercise of its
rationality in the direction of the intelligible.45 Thus it is not strange that Origen
should hold that knowledge of the divine teachings is the means by which the
soul acquires a "similarity" to God.
However, this Platonic framework has been altered by Origen through the
role he assigns to the Logos. According to Origen it is the Logos who mediates
the knowledge of the intelligible since he is himself the image of God.46
Furthermore he not only offers himself as the object of knowledge, but
accommodates himself so that he is able to be comprehended by every individual
in accordance with his capacity for understanding. The soul's progress in the
knowledge mediated by the Logos produces a corresponding "likeness" to God
which makes possible, when perfected, the full and immediate knowledge of
God, a knowledge of God face-to-face.47 Thus in Origen the
of the soul is achieved through the progressive self-mediation of the Logos, the
pedagogy of the Logos.
"The Logos was effectively sent by God as a physician to the sinner, but as a
teacher of the divine mysteries to those who are already clean and sin no
longer."48 Healing designates the process by which the Logos cures the soul of
sin.49 There is also a healing of sins under the contemporary pedagogy by which
the Logos cures sinners today; it is related to, but also to be distinguished from
the same work in the incarnation.50 The Logos paedagogus heals today through
42
Pkto, Republic 490 B, Symposium 211 E.
43
Pkto, Phaedo 79 D.
44
Plato, neaetetusl7(>u-C.
45
Plato, Phaedo 66A.
46
Princ. I Cap. 2,7-8 (Koetschau, pp. 37-39).
47
Princ. Cap. 6,1 (Koetschau, pp. 279-282);/o. 1,16 (Preuschen, pp. 20-21).
48
" ,
." Cels. 111,62 (Koetschau, p. 256.8-10).
49
Comm. in Mt. X.23-24 (Klostermann, GCS 40, pp. 31-34).
50
Horn, in Cant. ,4 (Baehrens, pp. 345-346).

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122 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

his teachings which are given within the sphere of the church and its exposition of
Scripture.51
But if you come to church regularly, if you are stimulated by the scent of the
divine word, and if you grasp the explanation of the heavenly commandments,
then just like food and delicacies strengthen the flesh, so also the spirit regains
its health through the divine words and is reinvigorated in its spiritual
senses... Therefore the nourishment of the spirit is the divine reading,
unceasing prayer and the word of instruction.52
It is the interpretation of Scripture in the church which communicates the
teachings of the Logos to sinners. And the Logos himself is present in this
teaching, renewing that pan in the sinner which was made in his image (the spirit)
and so bringing him to perfection. This aspect of the pedagogy of the Logos is
directed toward the beginners, to those just embarking on the way toward
sonship. It represents a catechumen's progress.
But there are others "... who although they need the Son of God, no longer
need him as physician... but as Wisdom and Word and Justice... who are able
because of their perfection to receive from him the highest truths".53 To these the
teaching Logos offers himself in the form of mysteries the contemplation of
which impresses ever more clearly upon the soul the nature of the Logos. The
content of the mysteries are the doctrines of the Logos contained in the spiritual
sense, those in which the nature of the Logos is revealed and that very revelation
of the Logos produces a conformity to it in the nature which gazes upon it.54
The moral and mystical pedagogy of the Logos are the means by which the
soul is returned to its original state of perfection through sanctification and
redemption. The moral pedagogy is a preparation for the mystical, and the
mystical is a preparation for perfection.
... for there is one activity for those who have attained God by means of the
Word who stands before him and that is to contemplate God, so that through
the act of knowing and seeing God he may be completely transformed and
become a son, just as now only the Son knows the Father.55

51
See above, pp. 44f.
52
"Si vero ad ecclesiam frequenter venias, aurem litteris divinis admoveas, explanarionem mandatorum
coelesrium capias, sicut cibis et deliciis caro, ita spiritus verbis divinis convalesce! ac sensibus et
robustior effectus carnem sibi parere coget ac suis legibus obsequi. Nutrimenta igitur spiritus sunt
divina lectio, orariones assiduae, sermo doctrinae." Horn, in Lev. K,7 (Baehrens, p. 432.1-6).
53
"... , ) ...
,
."/. 1,20 (Preuschen, p. 25.16-20).
54
Comm. in Mt. X,15 (Klostermann, GCS 40, pp. 18-20); Mart. XLVH (Koetschau, pp. 42-43).
55
"
, ,
"/. 1,16 (Preuschen, p. 20.15-18).

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Doctrine of Scripture 123

The contemporary pedagogy of the Logos which is mediated through


Scripture is a pedagogy of the individual. As Origen understands it, the Logos
discloses himself to each one in proportion to his ability to receive him. This
capacity to receive the Logos is a function of growth. The more advanced soul is
able to receive the Logos in greater fulness than the initiate. This means that for
the individual the disclosure of the Logos is progressive. We have already noticed
above that there are progressive steps of revelation in the passage from the moral
pedagogy to the mystical. There are also progressive steps of disclosure within
the mystical pedagogy56, the higher steps representing a fuller revelation of the
Logos than the lower ones. And this is also true within the moral pedagogy.
There are more advanced moral doctrines which one reaches after mastering the
beginning ones.57 This entire hierarchy of doctrines, the moral and the mystical
taken together, constitute a way, a path of ascending steps by which the soul in
advancing returns to God.
Now let us strive to make progress and to ascend one by one the steps of faith
and virtue. For if we stay awhile at each stage until we arrive at perfection, we
will have made a stop at every virtue along the ascent until our progress and
our education reaches the summit of perfection and the promises are
inherited.58
This route of an innumerable number of ascending steps59 by which the soul
progresses toward perfection, arriving eventually at union with the Logos is the
same path by which the Logos descended from union with the Father to his
appearance in the flesh.60
The result which we have found to be constant in each of the different
exegetical contexts is that the doctrines of the Logos, however they are derived
from the historical-grammatical sense, are always oriented around the inter-

56
Princ. Cap. 11,6-7 (Koetschau, pp. 189-192).
57
W. Vlker, Das Vollkommenheitsideal des Origenes, pp. 25-61, describes the moral progression as
an eradication of sin which takes place in two stages. At the first stage the soul struggles against the
sins of the flesh which are incited by the activity of evil spirits. At the second stage the soul frees itself
from the entanglements of the world by no longer allowing the senses to be involved with material
things; see also Cant. Prol. (Baehrens, pp. 76-77).
58
"Post haec iam proficere et adscendere ad singulos quosque fidei et virtutum gradus nitamur;
quibusque si tarn diu immoremur, donee ad perfectum veniamus, in singulis virtutum gradibus
mansionem fecisse dicemur, usque quo ad sumrnum pervenientibus nobis institutionum
profectuumque fastigium promissa compleatur hereditas." Horn, in Num. XXVIL3 (Baehrens,
p. 260.22-27).
59
Princ. ffl Cap. 6,6 (Koetschau, pp. 287-289).
60
Since the incarnation, as the descent from being with God to being in the flesh defines the
ontological distance between God and man, it defines as well the ontological distance which must be
traversed by the soul who desires to return to God out of its fleshly existence. For this reason the
various ontological stages through which the Logos descends become the route for the ascent of the
soul.

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124 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegerical Procedure

relation between moral instruction and knowledge of the mysteries. The univer-
sal doctrine of the Logos becomes contemporary as it is administered to the need
and circumstance of the individual soul, as it is taken up into the progress of the
soul. This event is the contemporary pedagogy of the Logos, doctrine in the
progress of the soul. It is an activity and self-mediation of the Logos, but the
medium and sphere of this activity is the interpretation of Scripture.

THEOLOGY OF EXEGESIS: PRESENCE OF THE LOGOS


IN ORIGEN'S EXEGETICAL PROCEDURE

In the preceding section we showed that the spiritual sense of Scripture is a


pedagogy of the Logos both in its universal and contemporary dimensions. This
pedagogy of the Logos in Scripture is directed toward the hearer of Scripture, and
therefore Origen's understanding of the spiritual sense incorporates a specific
relationship of the text to the hearer. In this section we will see how Origen's
determination of the subject matter of a text and the corresponding exegetical
procedure studied in chapters two and three, reflect the inter-relationship of text
and hearer implicit in the Logos pedagogy of Scripture.

The Text in Relation to the Hearer

The "Usefulness" of the Text Determines its Subject Matter

Origen's doctrine of inspiration explicitly defines a relationship of the text to


the hearer given in the definition of the subject matter which identifies the divine
pedagogy. For Origen it is most of all the "usefulness" () of Scripture
which inspiration through the Holy Spirit guarantees. The divine intention of
Scripture which the Holy Spirit underwrites is that Scripture should benefit the
soul. Scripture is the extension of the divine pedagogy to the individual. The
usefulness of the text has its original basis in the event of inspiration.
It is above all the Spirit who illuminated the servants of the truth, the prophets
and the apostles. He did so according to the providence of God and through
the Logos who was in the beginning with God. The goal ( ) of this
inspiration was the instruction of the soul in the hidden mysteries.61
These are mysteries of the incarnation, the origin of diversity and the cause of
evil. That is to say, the original goal of inspiration is knowledge of the Logos and
more specifically, formation of that knowledge in us.
" " ,
' * , ,
" Princ. IV Cap. 2,7 (Koetschau,
p. 318.8-12).

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Theology of Exegesis 125

This knowledge of the Logos appears in two forms in Scripture. It is "the


Spirit's intention to conceal" this knowledge under the form of human history.62
This history, the visible features of the created world, the movement of human
events, stories of righteousness and accounts of wickedness, all of this forms the
visible exposed portion of Scripture. The mysteries, which contain in themselves
the whole frame of the divine will, are the concealed and deeper element of
Scripture.
The doctrines which are concealed are accessible to the soul who is able to
fathom the depths of the writings and is thereby enabled to participate in the
whole mystery of the divine wUl.63
However each element, the letter that is seen and the meaning that is concealed,
is "useful" for the soul. The usefulness of the spiritual doctrine is that it allows die
soul to participate in God. But the letter is useful as well.
It was furthermore the intention (of the Spirit) to make the covering of the
spiritual things, by which I mean the corporeal body of Scripture, at many
points useful for the betterment of the multitude.64
There are in effect two forms of "usefulness", that of the letter, which is the
usefulness of the uninterpreted text, gained by a simple reading of it and that of
the hidden and spiritual meanings behind the letter which is achieved through the
process of exegesis.
What we see here is that Scripture is invested by the Holy Spirit with a divine
intentionality both as historical narrative and as repository of mystical doctrine.
This divine intentionality seeks and addresses the reader with the purpose of
educating and spiritually advancing him, as he is capable of being educated and
advanced. This is the significance of the inspiration of Scripture by the Holy
Spirit. The emphasis does not lie on its divinely attested truthfulness, but rather
on the intention of this truth to reach and instructively aid the reader., 665

The Subject Matter of a Text Forms its Exegetical Genre

Since the inspiration of the Spirit dictates that every text is useful66, Origen's
first question of any text concerns the form of its usefulness. This question must
62
Princ. IV Cap. 2,8 (Koetschau, pp. 320-321).
63
"... ' '' ' ' ,
." Princ. IV Cap. 2,7 (Koetschau,
p. 319.1-3).
64
" , ,
, , ." Princ. IV Cap. 2,8
(Koetschau, p. 320.15-p. 321.2).
65
Ham. injer. Frag. ; (Klostermann, pp. 195-198).
66
Jo. 1,5 (Preuschen, pp. 9-10); Horn, injer. Frag. , (Klostermann, pp. 196-197).

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126 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

be kept distinct from the modern concern for applying the text within a new
situation. In Origen's understanding the usefulness of a text, its spiritual
application, is an original part of its inherent meaning. It is in fact the original
meaning of the text, its origin in the moment of inspiration, which constitutes its
usefulness. This original meaning of the text is its spiritual application to us, a
pedagogy of the Logos. This is the subject matter of Scripture. When Origen
seeks to identify the theme of a text, he seeks to discover its or 67
- its educational intention, and this (theme) of the text defines its
pedagogical value for us.
The usefulness of a text is thus derived from the particular teaching activity of
the Logos within that text. Therefore when Origen defines the subject matter of a
book, or a shorter text, he is defining the exegetical form of the teaching activity of
the Logos in that text. We shall see as we examine each genre of scriptural text
individually that when Origen establishes the subject matter of a text, he does so
by asking what is the nature of the teaching activity of the Logos? Once this has
been defined then the form of the usefulness of the text for the hearer is
established.
Origen deals with this question before he begins the actual verse by verse
exegesis of a text, and the discussion of this preliminary definition is generally
found in the prologue of the homily or commentary.68 For example, before
beginning the detailed exegesis of Psalm 36, Origen gives this comprehensive
explanation:
God spoke in many and various ways to our Fathers by the prophets, and it
was at these times the unutterable mystery taught us also through the things
which were uttered. At some times he teaches us about the Saviour and about
his coming. At other times he corrects our habits and improves us. Therefore
we will try to point out the diversities of this kind throughout the different
passages of divine Scripture and try to determine where there are prophecies
and (we) are told about the future or where something mystical is revealed or
where the passage treats of moral questions.69
Psalms 36, 37 and 38 contain the speaking of the divine Logos through the
inspired prophets to the Fathers (old Israel). In the same words we, the new
Israel, hear the Logos speaking to us, a speaking intended for the moral progress
of the soul. Thus the teaching activity in these Psalms is that of moral instruction
as Origen says, "to correct our habits". And so the corresponding doctrines
which form the content of the spiritual sense in these Psalms will be moral
doctrines. All of Origen's exegesis of these three Psalms and their application to
the soul follows from these two points. The form of usefulness for the reader

67
Horn, injer. 1,2 (Klostermann, p. 2).
68
Horn, in Num. XXVII, 1 (Baehrens, pp. 255ff.); Ps. 36 (Migne, PG 12, col. 1319-1323); Jo. 1,4
(Preuschen, pp. 7ff.); Horn, injer. 1,3 (Klostermann, pp. 2f.).
69
Ps. 361,1 (Migne, PG 12, col. 1319 B 2-11).

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Theology of Exegesis 127

which identifies the subject matter of a text is the single most decisive factor in
determining the course of Origen's subsequent exegesis of the individual verses.
Similarly, the theme of the book of Jeremiah is identified in the prologue to the
first homily:
When God intends to condemn he (first) speaks, so that his speaking might be
for the one about to be condemned the point of his turning back from
condemnation.70

The subject matter of Jeremiah is the prophetic word which precedes God's
judgement in order to save us from it. The teaching activity of the Logos in
Jeremiah is his call to repentance, the divine speaking (pedagogy) by which the
soul is turned back from condemnation. This definition of the subject matter
applies not only to the original historical situation of the Word of God speaking
to Israel through Jeremiah, but more importantly this is the subject matter of the
Word of God speaking today through the interpretation of this text to the
contemporary hearer. It is the same prophetic word coming to us before God's
judgment in order to turn us from it.
The theme of the Song of Songs is also to be found in the prologue of the first
homily. There Origen explains that the Song of Songs is a marriage song
dramatizing the perfected love of the Bridegroom/Christ and the Bride/soul or
perfected church. Since this is the theme of the book -
when you have been through all the songs, then set your course for greater
heights, so that as a fair soul with her Spouse you may sing this Song of Songs
too. Listen to the Song of Songs and make haste to understand it and to join
with the Bride in saying what she says, so that you may hear also what she
heard.71
Once again Origen defines the theme of the text in relation to the teaching
Logos, incorporating its relationship to the contemporary hearer of the text and
so establishing its usefulness for him within the same subject matter. The
Logos/Bridegroom reveals to the Church/Bride the mysteries concerning himself.
These are the mysteries to which the hearer is urged when in the interpretation of
this text the hearer assumes the position of the Bride. There he will be enabled to
see what she sees. It is the same teaching activity of the Logos in revealing himself

70
" ,
." Horn, tnjer. 1,1 (Klostermann, p. 1.4-6).
71
"Et cum universa transieris, ad altiora conscende, ut possis anima decora cum sponso et hoc canere
canticum canu'corum... Et cum haec intellexeris, audi 'canticum canticorum' et festina intelligere
illud et cum sponsa dicere ea, quae sponsa dicit, ut audias, quae audivit et sponsa." Horn, in Cant. 1,1
(Baehrens, p. 28.16-18, p. 29.10-12) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 267.

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128 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegerical Procedure

first to the Bride/Church and then through the spoken interpretation of this
dramatized symbolic form, revealing himself again to the hearers.
The theme of the book of Numbers is stated in the prologue to the second
homily:
The first reading in the book of Numbers teaches that the army of God which
went out of the land of Egypt and journeyed through the desert, passed in
review, that is, it was numbered by Moses and Aaron and divided according
to tribes, and that they were thus assigned a definite number. If we explain the
entire narrative of this book in terms of its inner coherence, this is a historical
model for the process by which the people of Israel came up out of the Egypt
of this world and are lead into the promised land, that is, into the region
occupied by the (heavenly) powers, into the glory of the kingdom of heaven
and into their inheritance, hastening forward according to their (different)
orders and the degrees of their merits. And in this we see that the magnificence
of the good things to come is shadowed in the law by means of images.72
In this prologue it is a teaching activity of the Logos which designates the
subject matter or usefulness of the text as well." The emphasis here lies on what
the hearer is being taught under these histories, instruction in the eschatological
mysteries of his perfected life to come. The movement of the tribes out of Egypt is
the symbolic representation of these mysteries, but it is the eschatological
mysteries themselves which are useful and intended for the hearer. The Exodus
serves as a model prescript for the movement of the soul from this world of sin
toward the heavenly kingdom.
Origen's identification of the exegetical genre of New Testament texts follows
the same principles. Origen wishes to see all of the New Testament books in fact
as a single genre, that of gospel. Here again Origen's designation of the subject
matter identifies a teaching activity of the Logos and thereby places the text in a
specific relationship to the hearer.
If we should ask, what is the task of the evangelist, it is not exclusively to
describe the way the Saviour cured the man blind from birth... rather, the

"Prima Numerorum lectio docuit quod exercitus Dei, qui exivit de terra Aegypti et her egit per
desertum, visitatus sit, hoc est numeratus per Moysen et Aaron ac per singulas quasque tribus
sequestratus certo sub numero recensitus sit; quod nos velut cum tota simul libelli continentia
exponentes formam diximus esse praescriptam, quomodo populus Dei egrediens de mundi huius
Aegypto et ad terrain repromissionis, id est vel ad virtutum locum vel ad regni coelorum gloriam
hereditatemque festinans ordinibus quibusdam et meritorum gradibus deducatur. Et per haec
ostendimus 'futurorum bonorum' magnificentiam in legis imaginibus adumbratam." Horn, in Num.
, (Baehrens, p. 8.18-p. 9.2).
The Logos as the pedagogue is not mentioned separately here and this is often the case, since the
Logos pedagogy belongs to the very structure of the interpretation, i.e. to Origen's comprehensive
understanding that all doctrines are doctrines of the Logos and each a partial form of his progressive
self-revelation.

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Theology of Exegesis 129

distinguishing mark of the evangelist is to be found in the word of exhortation


( ) through which he reaffirms the things reported
concerning Jesus, so in every way (all) the writings of the apostles can be said
to be gospel.74
This is an interesting argument since according to Origen, it is not the
narratives concerning the coming of Christ which make a writing gospel, but
rather the educational intention ( ) which makes a report of
the works of Christ truly gospel.
In general, everything (is gospel) which presents the coming of Christ,
everything which prepares (the soul) for his presence and which produces his
presence or coming in the souls of those who desire to receive the word of
God who is standing before the door, is gospel.75
Here we see that the Gospels stand in a uniquely direct relation to the
universal pedagogy of the Logos. The teaching of the Logos is not communicated
through an indirect form (as in the history of the Old Testament saints) but
directly, through the humanity of the Logos. The subject matter of the Gospels is
therefore equally direct. It is the coming and presence of the Logos. The
usefulness of the Gospels is to be found in the fact that they produce the presence
and coming of the Logos in the souls of those who desire to receive him. Here is
the underlying unity between the Gospels and the epistles: Both have the same
subject matter, the universal coming of the Logos to the soul through the
incarnation, but in the Gospels under the allegorical aspect of the human history
of Jesus, the epistles in the direct form of teaching about the divine Logos.
The particular usefulness of the Gospels has to be understood in terms of the
distinct stages of the progress of the soul. The Gospels are not for beginners.76
The element of moral instruction here is largely incidental. The Gospels teach
knowledge of the mysteries, knowledge of the divine Logos. They give that
knowledge for which other texts of Scripture are a necessary preparation.
Understanding the Gospels already presupposes the purification from sin. The
usefulness of the Gospels is thus the usefulness of knowledge itself for Origen, i.e.
as the means of union with the Logos. This is the sense in which the Gospels

74
" ,
...
,
."/. 1,3 (Preuschen, p. 7. 9-14).
75
"...

."/. 1,4 (Preuschen, . 9.
18-22).
7S
P. Naurin, Origene, pp. 392-401, proposes that the gospels were read and exegeted in the three
Eucharistic services held each week to which the catechumens were not admitted.

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130 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

(both the histories and epistles) have the coming of Christ and his coming to the
soul for their subject matter.
We have seen how Origen's defintion of the exegetical genre of a text springs
directly from the framework of his Logos doctrine and his doctrine of inspiration.
From the doctrine of inspiration because it requires that the text as written
document have a form of usefulness for the contemporary hearer. Therefore the
exegetical genre of the written text is not defined apart from its relation to the
contemporary hearer. And his definition of the genre springs from his Logos
doctrine of Scripture because the spiritual sense or specific subject matter is
always identified with an activity of the Logos. Origen's explanation of the
subject matter which always precedes his exegesis emphasizes that the historical
and literal sense of the text is not the proper subject matter of the book, but rather
the medium by which the proper subject matter is conveyed, divine
communication of the spiritual sense. The proper subject matter is the spiritual
sense which corresponds with a teaching activity of the Logos as it is directed
toward the contemporary hearer. And so explanation of the subject matter as
well as the exegesis which follows, define the doctrinal content of the spiritual
sense in terms of the way in which it is useful for the hearer., 777

The Hearer in Relation to the Text

In the section just completed we have seen how determination of the subject
matter also determines a relationship of the text to its hearers. Now we will see
how this relation of text to hearer shapes the actual course of Origen's exegesis in
the text. We will see how the exegesis itself brings the hearer into relation with the
text. If it may be said that in the determination of the subject-matter genre in the
prologue Origen brings the text to the reader, then it may also be said that a
reverse movement occurs in the corresponding exegesis of the text, that Origen's
exegesis is the intended means for drawing the hearer into the text. Specifically,
Origen's exegesis attempts to locate the hearer there in the text where the
pedagogy of the Logos is taking place.
We will examine this exegetical location of the hearer in Origen's interpretation
of Scripture from two distinct perspectives. First, we shall see that in each
individual step of exegesis the hearer is being placed in the text. Second, we shall
see that this location of hearer in the text describes a progressive movement
within the sequence of interpretation as a whole.

This is not only the procedure for Origen's exegesis of the different books of Scripture, it is also the
procedure he uses in interpreting an individual chapter. As the analysis of the homilies on Psalm 37
in chapter one showed, the first procedure for the interpretation of a chapter is to define the subject
matter of the text in terms of the way it is useful for the contemporary hearer.

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Theology of Exegesis 131

Placement of the Hearer in the Text

The exegetical technique by which Origen brings the hearer to the text has
been studied in detail in chapter one on the basis of Origen's interpretation of
Psalm 37 and then illustrated through a number of different works in the second
chapter.
We have seen in chapter two that Origen's stepwise exegetical procedure is a
technique whereby the hearer is placed within the text. The number of steps and
the way in which they are derived varies with the different exegetical genres, but
the goal of exegesis in each verse remains the same, to place the hearer in the text.
Let us study the various genres again in order to discover how it is that Origen
brings the hearer into the pedagogical setting of the text.
In the exegesis of Psalm 37 Origen details the attitude of the Psalmist as he
speaks the words of the prayer. It is only after this exposition that Origen
introduces the hearer. Origen wants to put the hearer in the same attitude which
the Psalmist once assumed. The hearer then reenacts the attitude of the Psalmist
by himself repeating the words of the Psalmist's prayer. The prayer of the
Psalmist, so far as it expresses the attitude of the Psalmist before the word of the
Logos, has a universal meaning, a meaning that is valid for all souls. It is in this
universal significance of the soul addressed by the Logos that the hearer
participates. The attitude of the Psalmist before die correcting Word expresses
what ought to be the attitude of every soul before this Word. Therefore in
Origen's exegesis of Psalm 3 7 the universal meaning of the Psalm is applied to the
hearer in that the interpretation places the hearer in the same position as the
Psalmist. In Origen's exegesis an analogous relationship exists between the hearer
and the Psalmist, because both are dealing with the same correcting Logos. The
analogy rests on the self-sameness of the pedagogical activity of the Logos which
makes it equally appropriate to position the hearer in the place of the Psalmist.
In the exegesis of Jeremiah Origen follows a similar procedure. From the
words of the prophecy and their historical context Origen derives universal
principles of God's dealings with souls. These universal principles are then in a
succeeding step applied to the reader. Origen's application of the teachings places
the hearer in an analogous relation to Israel and Judah to whom the prophecies
were first given. In their contemporary sense the prophecies are addressed to the
hearer. This identity between the hearer and the Israelites is easily justified, for the
one God deals in the same way with his people today as he dealt with Israel. The
interpretation then makes the hearer the recipient of the prophetic words by
placing him in the position of the Israelites. In the interpretation of Jeremiah the
text speaks to the hearer; in the interpretation of the Psalms the hearer speaks the
text.
In the book of Numbers Origen derives from the journey of Israel toward the
promised land another journey, the journey of the soul toward perfection. These
two journeys constitute two distinct levels which are related to each other. Unlike
the Psalms and Jeremiah, where the passage from one level to the other is the

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132 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegerical Procedure

passage from the historical and particular to the universal, here the passage is
from the historical to the allegorical. The historical presents the image of which
the allegorical is reality. The journey of the soul as the allegorical meaning of the
wanderings of Israel has a universal relevance and it is within this journey that the
hearer is placed. He is placed through the interpretation in an analogous relation
to the people of Israel. He imitates their progress, participates in it, but on a
different level. Their progress is an image for his, a symbolic pattern which must
be deciphered before it can be imitated.
In the commentary on the Song of Songs the literal meaning is also symbolic
for the spiritual meaning. The drama which unfolds between the Bride and the
Bridegroom, his companions and her maidens, is the image for another drama,
that of the perfecting of love betweeen the church/soul and Christ. Origen
describes the perfect love between Christ and the church. The soul with whom
the hearer identifies is then related to this perfect love, either as a goal which he
has yet to achieve, or as a moment in which he himself can participate. The hearer
is placed in an analogous relation to the perfect church. As the perfect church
experiences the Logos so does also the soul by analogy, repeating the movements
of the perfect church toward Christ. The real history upon which the
interpretation is based in the still-to-be-consummated history of Christ and the
church. This history has universal meaning and it is into this history that the
hearer is set by analogy. The grammatical sense has no other referent than this
eternal history.78
To the exegetical procedure of the preceding books, the exegesis of Gospels
presents a somewhat startling contrast. The hearer does not appear in the
interpretation in the way he does in the exegesis of Old Testament texts. In the
homilies on Luke for example, the hearer is only drawn into the interpretation at
the end of the homily and is related only to the interpretation of the last verse. The
same holds true for the commentary on Matthew. The difference between the
Old Testament and New Testament texts is that in the Old Testament the hearer
is related to each verse that is being exegeted, whereas in the New Testament the
exegesis of the majority of the verses is not related to the hearer.
For the hearer of the Old Testament his experience with the pedagogy of the
Logos must be mediated by those who experienced it and he can participate in it
only by imitating them. Therefore the interpretation always placed the hearer in a
relationship to the Logos analogous to that which is reported in the sacred

78
It is interesting to note that in Origen's interpretation of Songs and of Numbers the history (or
story) narrated in the literal sense is an allegory of a spiritual event. In the case of these two books
the prefigured event still lies in the future. In the book of Numbers the history of Israel prefigures the
eschatological journey and destiny of the soul. In the book of Songs the drama prefigures the
coming consummation of the relationship between Christ and the perfect church. In these two cases
we notice that when Origen's program for the exegesis of a book is considered we find that we are
dealing with an allegory of event rather than an allegory of word. For discussion of this issue see J.
Danielou, Origene comme exegete de la Bible', 71/63 (1957) p. 285 (= StPatr I).

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Theology of Exegesis 133

history. By participating in their knowledge of the Logos the hearer is prepared


for understanding the gospel.79 However in the Gospels the teachings of the
Logos are presented in an unmediated form. In the Gospels the Logos is speaking
directly to the hearer, not mediated through a history other than his own.80

Progression of the Hearer within the Text

In each individual sequence of Origen's exegerical procedure we have seen


that the hearer is placed within the text by a movement which always begins from
the grammatical-historical sense and culminates in the contemporary spiritual
sense. But when we place these individual sequences of verse-by-verse exegesis
together, a second significant movement appears within the interpretation of the
passage as a whole. The sequential placement of the reader within the text
describes a continuously ascending path through the text. The vertical movement
from the literal to the spiritual sense in the exegesis of each individual verse also
forms a horizontal movement through the spiritual sense itself in a continuous
path from the first verse of the text to the last. This is the aspect of Origen's
procedure which we have studied in chapter three. There we saw that the
contemporary spiritual sense within the stepwise exegesis of each verse itself
forms a progression, a unified and ascending movement of the hearer's own
placement within the text. This ascending movement corresponds to a
progression of the soul. It is an ordered progression toward perfection which
defines the hearer's participation in the spiritual sense or, as we said earlier, the
exegesis of the hearer into the text.
This progression within the contemporary sense characterizes all of Origen's
exegesis, but the nature of the progression is determined by the exegetical genre of
each book. We have already seen in the first chapter that the progression within

79
Comm. in Aft. X,10 (Klostermann, GCS 40, p. 11).
80
This progression from law to gospel as a progression from the mediated knowledge of Christ given
in the Old Testament to the immediate experience of him in the gospel is indicated in the
commentary on the Song of Songs:
He begins ... to show Himself to her through the windows of the Law and the Prophets, that is,
through the things that had been foretold concerning Him, then He calls her to come forth and
come outside to Him. For, unless she comes out, unless she comes forth and advances from the
letter to the spirit, she cannot be united with her Bridegroom, nor share the company of Christ.
He calls her, therefore, and invites her to come out from carnal things to spiritual, from visible to
invisible, from the Law to the Gospel.
"et coepit 'per fenestras" legis ac prophetarum, per ea scilicet, quae de eo praedicata fuerant, apparere
et ostendere se ecclesiae intra domum, hoc est intra litteram legis, sedenti, provocat earn inde 'exire'
et 'venire* foras ad se. Nisi enim 'exeat', nisi procedat et progrediatur a littera ad spiritum, non potest
sponso coniungi neque Christ sociari. Vocat ergo earn et invitat a carnalibus ad spiritalia, a
visibilibus ad invisibilia, a lege 'venire' ad evangelium." Cant. (Baehrens, p. 220.19-25) trans. R.
P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 235.

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134 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

Psalm 37 is a moral progression. It moves from purification toward divinization.


This is a progression into which the hearer himself is placed. Origen first sets the
hearer before the contemporary sense of the text. By so doing he also places the
hearer at the center of the progression within the contemporary sense. The result
is that the hearer is not only addressed by the text, but is himself advanced
through the interpretation of the text, moved out of the habit of sin and into the
habit of the imitation of God. He is related to the text in a special way, in that the
interpretation is the means by which he himself progresses from purification to
divinization.
The progression in the book of Jeremiah is also a moral progression - the
movement of the soul through the steps of repentance. The 12th homily on
Jeremiah ends:
We should do everything we can to make the flock better day by day, that it
become healthy, be healed and that all bruising be removed from our souls so
that we become perfect in Jesus Christ.81
The soul that is placed by the interpretation into the context of the
contemporary sense follows this movement toward perfection under the tutelage
of the Logos, a tutelage taking place through the spiritual sense.
The homilies on the Song of Songs and the book of Numbers portray another
kind of progression. In each of the homilies the contemporary sense begins with
the problem of sin. This form of the progression is characterized by the transition
from the moral to mystical knowledge. That is, the beginning steps provide a
pattern for purification and the latter steps contain the revelation of the mysteries.
Origen, by placing the soul before the text in the contemporary sense, understands
that the interpretation will lead him upward out of sin into the knowledge of the
mysteries and on toward the goal which he points to at the end of the first homily
on Songs and the first homily on Numbers.
He will himself adorn thy mind and thy understanding, and thou shalt be rich
indeed, the Bride made perfect in the house of the Bridegroom.82
Let us rid ourselves in the school of Moses of the ignorance of childhood and
then march on toward the perfection of Christ.83

8
' " ,
, , , ,
" Horn, injer. , 13 (Klostermann, p. 101. 18-22).
82
"ipse tuam mentem sensumque decorabit, et eris vere dives in sponsi domo sponsa 'perfecta'" Horn,
in Cant. 1,10 (Baehrens, p. 42. 8-9) trans. R. P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 283.
83
"Prius tarnen paedagogo utentes Moyse et apud eum 'rudimenta infantiae deponentes' sic tendamus
ad perfectionem Christi." Horn, in Num. 1,3 (Baehrens, p. 7.28-p. 8.1).

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Theology of Exegesis 135

Presence of the Logos to the Hearer

When we remember that the spiritual sense of the text to which Origen relates
his hearers is simultaneously the teachings about the Logos and the Logos
present, teaching, then we can begin to understand the significance of his
exegetical procedures. For by placing the hearer before the contemporary sense
in the text, Origen is placing him before the teachings and the teaching activity of
the Logos. And likewise by placing the hearer within the progression of doctrine
in the contemporary sense, Origen is placing the hearer under the tutelage of the
Logos, which as he has many times explained is a progressive process of
education. Origen means Logos here not as an abstract principle, but as the
personal Logos, as the Christ, as the one who was incarnate. Through the text,
through the teachings of the Logos, the hearer encounters the living personal
Christ.84
Therefore Jesus is the Word of God who enters into Jerusalem which is the
name for the soul, carried by an ass, which was loosed of its bonds by the
disciples; by which I mean the plain letter of the Old Testament which is
elucidated by the two disciples who unloose it, the one by applying
() the written text to the healing of souls and by allegorizing (the
text), and the other by presenting to our understanding the good things to
come through things whose existence is a shadow. Jesus is equally carried by
the colt, by the New Testament, for it is possible to find in both of them the
word of truth which purifies us and banishes in us all thoughts which obsess
us with business and purchases.85
Here Origen pictures for us the relationship between Logos and Scripture in
the pedagogy of die soul. The coming of the Logos to the soul is the coming of the
personal Christ. He enters the soul through the "word of truth" found in the Old
Testament and the New.
He comes to the soul in the teachings of the Old Testament. These teachings
fall into two classes, the teachings which cure, that is the moral teachings, and the
teachings which instruct in the mysteries, the mystical teachings. However, these
teachings are not present in the letter of the text ( ), but must rather

R. G gler emphasizes the personal character of Origen's concept of the Logos and seeks to show
that the Logos "incarnate" in Scripture is none other than the incarnate Christ, Zur Theologe des
biblischen Wortes bei Origenes, p. 263.
" ) ,
, ,
, '
' ,
$ .
, .
."
Jo. X,28 (Preuschen, p. 201. 22-31).

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136 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

be unbound, released from the written text and drawn out of it. Origen
characterizes this activity by and also by . He further
contrasts the shadow () of the history to the truth () which it
prefigures. By employing the metaphor 'to loosen', Origen wishes to illustrate
the activity of interpretation. It is the interpretation of the written text by the
apostles (and by teachers in the church) which bears the coming Christ to the
soul. That is, it is the spiritual sense of the text in which the personal Christ
presents himself to the soul. A further sign of the presence of Christ to the soul in
the spiritual sense is seen in the effectiveness of die teachings. Interpretations of
the text are capable of curing souls ( ). It is the Logos of truth
who purifies the soul and frees it from every other preoccupation.
That the interpretation of the written word is a form of the living and personal
presence of the Word/Logos is underlined by Origen again and again in his
interpretation. Once Origen has uncovered the spiritual sense and applied it to
the hearers in the contemporary sense he believes that they are now confronted
with the presence of the Logos.
'Bring ye me in.' And now the Divine Word says the same. See, it is Christ
who says: 'Bring ye me in.' He speaks to you catechumens also: 'Bring ye me
in' not only 'into the house', but 'into the house of wine'! Let your soul be
filled with the wine of gladness, the wine of the Holy Spirit, and so bring the
Bridegroom, the Word, Wisdom, and Truth, into your house. For bring ye
me into the house of wine can also be said to those who are not yet perfect.86
Here we see the identity between the Logos and Christ. The words of the
Logos/Bridegroom to the Bride become the words of the Logos/Christ to the
hearer. The interpretation contains not only the words of Christ, but also the
moment in which they are spoken. The interpretation uncovers not just spoken
words, but words which speak themselves. The hearer is confronted with the
Logos/Christ in that he is addressed by the words which Christ himself speaks.
Origen makes this real presence of the Logos, his presence in and through the
interpretation of Scripture explicit at innumerable points.87
Once we have understood that it is to the present and speaking Logos that the
hearer is related through the four steps of Origen's exegetical procedure, then it
becomes clear why Origen can present the total sequence in the spiritual sense as

86
"Tntroducite me'. Et nunc eadem elicit sermo divinus; ecce Christus loquitur: 'introducite me'.
Vobis quoque catechumenis loquitur: 'introducite me', non simpliciter 'in domum', sed in 'domum
vini"; impleatur 'vino laentiae', vino Spiritus sancti, anima vestra et sie 'introducite in domum'
vestram sponsum, "Verbum", 'sapientiam', 'veritatem'. Polest autem et ad eos dici, qui necdum
perfecti sunt: 'introducite me in domum vini'." Horn, in Cant. ,7 (Baehrens,p. $1,22-28) trans. R.
P. Lawson, Song of Songs, p. 294.
87
Of the homilies that have been analyzed in this study nearly all contain a reference to this real
presence. Horn, in Cant. I,3; ,4; ,7; ,8; A. 371,4; Horn. inNum. ,; Horn, injer. 1,16; Horn in
Lc. m,4.

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Theology of Exegesis 137

a step-wise progression toward perfection. This is only possible when the Logos
speaks effectively.88 It is the power of the words of the Logos that makes the
progression possible. It is the effect of his teaching which causes progress in the
soul. If the word of the Logos was not effective, or if he was not present teaching,
then the steps of the progression would be an empty scaffolding into which the
soul could gaze, but not climb. Nor would the soul be addressed in the spiritual
sense or confronted by the Logos, if his speaking were not effective speaking. The
Word as effective speech is an integral part of Origen's doctrine of the Logos.
And it should be no surprise if every word spoken by the prophets produces
an effect commensurate with the word. In fact, I think that every marvelous
word recorded in the words of God produces an effect and that there is not a
single jot or tittle written in the Scripture which does not produce an effect of
its own on those who know how to be helped by the power of the Scripture.89
The speaking of the Logos produces a variety of effects, each effect being
appropriate to the content of the spoken word. For instance in Psalm 37 Origen
explains:
The word of God is like arrows... and they are not hurled in vain, nor do
they speed past their mark. The hearers of these words are stung in their hearts
by such arrows and are in pain and turn in penitence.90
The effect of the word of the Psalm, the words of the Logos delivered by the
interpreter, is to produce repentance. Another effect of the words of the Logos in
the mouth of the interpreter is indicated by Origen in the first homily on
Jeremiah.
Is there not a force... (in these words) which uproots when it encounters
unbelief and hypocrisy, vice or incontinence, a force which tears down where

" R. G gler, Zur Theologe des biblischen Wortes bei Origenes, pp. 270-274, explains why the word of
Scripture as the word of the Logos is effective. It is powerful as an expression of the divine will, its
origin in God means that it participates in his dynamis. The effectiveness of the word is located in its
meaning and truth. It becomes powerful through the relationship between speaker and hearer
which it incarnates.
" " , []
.
, ' ' ,
." Horn, injer.
Frag. , (Klostermann, p. 197. 9-14).
90
"Sermo domini sagjttis est similis... ut ex his quos audit sermonibus cor suum configatur, et per
stimulum eorum quae dicta sum ad poenitentiam suscitetur, certum est quoniam in ilium in vanum
non abut sermonis Dei jaculum, neque transvolavit" A. 37 1,2 (Migne, PG 12, col. 1373 A 7-8,
13-B2).

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138 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

there is in some part of the heart an idol constructed, and when the idol is
destroyed, is there not built a temple of God?91
The effectiveness of the word corresponds to the twofold activity of the
Logos. It is effective for the cure of sin, and it is effective for instruction in the
mysteries. When Origen places his hearer before the Logos who teaches
effectively, he does so because he believes that thereby the hearer will be
transformed, that thereby the hearer being cured of sin will be prepared for the
mysteries, that the perfect will be prepared by this effective word for union with
God.

THE THEOLOGICAL STRUCTURE OF ORIGEN'S METHOD OF EXEGESIS

Now that we have examined both Origen's exegetical procedures and the
Logos understanding of Scripture which underlies them, we are finally in a
position to give an account of die method in Origen's exegesis. In chapter two we
determined that Origen's exegesis of any passage in Scripture (regardless of
genre) followed a pattern of four steps. These four steps can be distinguished and
identified in terms of the question which is posed in order to derive each step. In a
first step Origen asks, what is the grammatical sense of this text? In a second step
he asks, what is the concrete and/or historical reality to which the grammatical
sense refers? In a third step he asks, what is the Logos teaching through this
concrete reality, that is, what is the intention of the Holy Spirit in the report and
description of this reality? In a fourth and last step Origen asks, how can this
teaching be applied to the hearer of the text today?
Each of these questions must be set in the context of Origen's Logos doctrine
of Scripture in order to be fully understood. Each question contains within it
fundamental presuppositions about the text of Scripture, apart from which
Origen's exegetical method cannot be understood. Furthermore the transitions
from one step to the next must be carefully studied, especially the transitions
between step two and step three, and between step three and step four, which
represent transpositions either from one level to another (historical to spiritual)
or from one time to another (universal to contemporary).

91
" ,... , ,
, , ; ,
; " Horn, in
Jer. 1,16 (Klostermann, p. 16. 4-9).

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The Theological Structure of Origen's Method of Exegesis 139

The Referent of the Literal and Historical


Senses is the Historical Pedagogy of the Logos

Let us begin with the first and second steps. Step one begins with the text, that
is, with the grammatical sense of the text. With very few exceptions the
interpretation begins with the citation of the text.92 The grammatical sense of the
text is the foundation stone of the interpretation. Origen's step two moves from
the grammatical to the historical or concrete reality to which the specific text
refers. It is an extension of step one in that it explains and elaborates the concrete
and/or historical reality to which the grammatical sense refers.93 Step two
contains the filled out, coherent and intelligible description of the concrete
situation. These two steps taken together constitute what Origen understands as
the literal sense of the text which he counterposes to the spiritual meaning.94
In Origen's exegesis two dimensions of the literal sense can be distinguished
from each other by these two distinct exegetical steps. Origen distinguishes
between the text as a written document - the letter - and the history or event
which stands behind the text. In order to avoid mistakes that might arise from
assuming that Origen's understanding of these two dimensions is similar to the
modern understanding, it will be useful to define as specifically as possible what
he means by each one.
The words of the text have a special meaning for Origen. They do not arise
out of an exclusively historical process, but rather have their origin in a historical-
spiritual process, in the historical moment of inspiration. The words are chosen
both by the human writer and by the Holy Spirit for one and the same purpose,
to teach succeeding generations the mysteries of the Logos. The words themselves
from the point of their origin already point to the Logos. It is the very literalness
of Scripture which demands a spiritual interpretation. The words are written in
order to be understood in a spiritual way. This spiritual understanding is given in
steps three and four.

92
In the exegesis of Numbers the text is not quoted, however it was read aloud to the congregation in
the course of the liturgy and the homily refers back to this reading.
" We have noted for instance in Numbers how the explanation of the historical sense goes beyond
the historical detail given in the text, and how in the Song of Songs, the dramatic situation is given in
a fuller form in Origen's explanation than is provided by the text itself.
94
J. Tigcheler, Didyme, was the first to identify distinct sets of questions within the literal sense. (H. de
Lubac and W. Bienert, the other two recent contributors to the structure of allegorical method,
identify both elements indiscriminately as the literal sense.) He distinguishes them on the basis of a
semantical analysis of the hermeneutical terms used. He distinguishes from '
. ' refers strictly to the text itself, its grammatical sense. The ' relates the
historical or tangible realities to which the text refers. Because the explanation '
describes the concrete realities, it remains on the same level with the text Tigcheler does not
attempt to explain the nature of the concrete reality to which the words refer; as a result the
assumption is too easily made that it is history in the modern sense.

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140 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

However in Origen's interpretation of Scripture, he does not move directly


from the word to the spiritual meaning, but from the word to the historical reality
behind it. We must explain why he does this. This requires giving an account of
what Origen understands under the history which is reported in the text. The
history to which the text refers is not ordinary history in the modern sense. The
historical situation out of which the writers of both Old and New Testament
wrote is that of an encounter with the Logos. The subject matter of the history
recorded in the Scripture is the Logos. It is a history of the pedagogy of the Logos.
It is his revelation of himself, his teaching to Moses, to the prophets, and to the
apostles.95
What he taught them and what he disclosed of himself is the one universal
truth that he himself is. The content of the pedagogy of the Logos then was no
different than it is in the incarnation and no different than it is today. The Logos
taught the saints the truths of himself in symbolic form, in the form of law, or of
historical events.96 This pedagogy was designed for all those to whom it was
delivered. But it was the saints alone who grasped the spiritual truth presented in
this symbolic form. And they reported it again in symbolic form, this time
writing in Scripture the symbolic forms of the universal truth, so that the
succeeding generations might be able to grasp the spiritual truth through the
medium of its symbolic form.97
So the history itself has two important features for Origen. It is the symbolic
form of the truth presented universally in the incarnation, and in its original
symbolic form it is the means by which the saints were educated in the truth of
Christ. Each of these features of the literal sense determines the exegesis which
follows from it in a particular way. The inspired character of the words themselves
indicates a pedagogical intention of the literal sense and therefore requires a
spiritual interpretation. The corresponding spiritual sense explains the doctrines
of the Logos (the referent of the literal sense) and applies them to the hearer in
step four as the contemporary sense. The fact that history and event are used as
symbolic forms for presenting the universal truth of the Logos demands an
interpretation which makes plain the truths presented there symbolically. The
literal sense - the words of Scripture - can be a symbolic form of the doctrines of
the Logos because it recounts an experience of the historical pedagogy of the
Logos. The sacred writers were in fact taught by the Logos the doctrines which
they wrote down in the symbolic form of the literal sense. The fact that the
history which is reported in the literal sense is the history of an experience with
the universal Logos means that it can become the model for succeeding
experiences of the Logos since the pedagogy of the Logos is the same in all

" Horn. mjer. , (Klostermann, pp. 63ff.).


" Princ. IV Cap. 2,8 (Koetschau, pp. 320-321).
" Princ. IV Cap. 2,7-8 (Koetschau, pp. 318-321).
" The activity of the Logos is always the same - before, during, and after the incarnation he is the
perfect pedagogue. He corrects and educates the hearer of Scripture in the same way as he

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The Theological Structure of Origen's Method of Exegesis 141

times.98 This means the historical pedagogy of the Logos is the pattern for the
contemporary pedagogy of the Logos in step four.
It is only after Origen has filled in the details of the grammatical-historical
meaning of the text that he moves to the third step, the explanation of the spiritual
sense. The spiritual meaning is dependent on and developed from the historical
or concrete reality to which the text refers, rather than the grammatical sense of
the text itself. It is the historical reality behind the text (the history of the
wanderings in Numbers) or the literary-dramatic situation (the love drama of the
Songs) which contains the figurative representation of the spiritual reality, not the
naked text. It is the historical pedagogy of the Logos as the content of the
historical-literal sense which forms the basis for the spiritual sense. This
relationship constitutes the structure of Origen's exegesis."
The fact that Origen's interpretation of the spiritual sense takes its departure
from the historical or literary reality behind the text supports de Lubac's thesis
that the interpretive movement in Origen proceeds from history to spiritual
truth.100

The Contemporary Pedagogy of the Logos in the Spiritual Sense

Transposition from Literal to Spiritual

The movement from step two to step three is strikingly different from the
movement of step one to step two. There the explanation of the grammatical
sense and of the historical sense which underlies both takes place on the same

corrected and taught the Old Testament saints. Therefore the pedagogy of the Logos with the Old
Testament saints can serve as the pattern for his contemporary pedagogy. The interpretation of the
Psalms provides the best illustration for this. The Psalmist speaks out of his encounter with the
correcting and educating Logos (see interpretation of v. 4). The contemporary hearer of Scripture
encounters the Logos only when he recapitulates the experience of the Psalmist. By recapitulating
the Psalmist's experience with the divine pedagogy the hearer participates in the pedagogy of the
Logos.
At this point I find I must disagree with R. Ggler, Zur Theologie des biblischen Wortes bei Origenes,
p. 352, who takes the Hellenistic structure word - reality as the key to Origen's exegetical structure:
"Wie der Logos Typ und Bild des unsichtbaren Vaters ist, so ist der Wortlaut und der Buchstabe
(die Schrift) Typ, Bild, Schatten des Mysteriums Logos". Rather the letter gives access to the
history and the history itself is the symbolic form of the spiritual reality; because it is a history of
experience with the Logos it can be a symbolic representation for the activity of the Logos.
The exegetical structure which H. de Lubac, Histoire et Esprit, proposes consists of two levels: the
literal sense, history, understood as history of salvation; and the spiritual sense, in its unity the
mystery of Christ hidden in the text. The relationship between the two is identical to the
relationship between Old Testament and New. In de Lubac's schema the exegetical movement
proceeds from history (defined as salvation history) toward spirit, the truth of Christ (defined as
the eternal and intelligible).

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142 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

level, the level of the historical and the concrete, the particular and the unique.
The explanation of the spiritual sense given in step three represents a transposition
onto another plane. Here we are in the realm of spiritual and eternal realities, on
the level of the universal and the general. The distance from step two to step three
is a quantum jump and we need to understand how Origen makes such a
transposition, the techniques he uses and why he shifts the interpretation to a new
level.
There are two techniques Origen follows in moving from the level of the
historical to the level of the spiritual. If we remember that the historical level is for
Origen already a symbolic representation of the spiritual, then one of his
techniques, namely allegory, will seem quite well adapted.101 For is
the technique for discovering a universal truth which is given in the form of
symbolic representation. Thereby it lends itself easily as an instrument for
moving from the level of the historical and concrete to the level of the spiritual
and universal.
For example, in the interpretation of Jer. 1-10 Origen notes that Jeremiah
receives the word of God in order to "tear down and destroy nations and
kingdoms... the nations and kingdoms should not be thought of as physical
() but rather allegorically () as the kingdom and nations
of sin".102 In this case the terms kingdom and nations have a concrete reference
on the level of the grammatical sense and have a metaphorical meaning on the
level of the spiritual sense. The fact that a single term has this potential of a double
reference is what makes the allegorical transposition possible.103
There is another way in which Origen achieves the transposition from the
literal to the spiritual which is not allegorical. Let us take as well an example from
the first homily on Jeremiah. Verses 1-3 of the first chapter of Jeremiah describe
the time during which Jeremiah prophesied, from the reign of Josiah to the reign
of Zedekiah up until the time of the captivity of Jerusalem. Origen explains the

The spiritual level and the historical level have a common element - the divine pedagogy. The
historical level has its origin in die pedagogy of the Logos to the saints. What they wrote in the
historical sense is their understanding of the Logos, which when it is properly interpreted becomes
a pedagogy of the Logos for the contemporary hearer. The pedagogy remains the same. What the
Logos taught the saints is what he teaches through their writing today,
'" '...,
... ,
" Horn, in Jer. 1,7 (Klostermann, p. 5. 19-26).
This is J. Tigcheler's definition of allegorical interpretation. According to his study allegorical
interpretation is a neutral (meaning non-theological) hermeneutical method for moving from one
level of meaning to another. He contends that the traditional structure for allegorical exegesis -
literal sense/spiritual sense - is based on the theological structure of the relationship Old
Testament/New Testament in order to equate the Old Testament with die literal sense and the
New Testament with die spiritual sense. According to him a hermeneutical analysis does not
support this equation.

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The Theological Structure of Origen's Method of Exegesis 143

literal sense by showing what historical questions are answered (). Then
he asks for the spiritual sense ( ).
God had judged Jerusalem on account of her sins and sentenced her to be
delivered into captivity, and when it was impending God, in his love for men
as before, sent this prophet in the third reign before the captivity, so that those
willing to reconsider might repent through the ministry of the prophetic
word.104
Here the spiritual sense is not reached through an allegorical transposition, but
rather simply by a historical generalization. Origen has asked the question on the
historical level, in what way does the history reveal the mediation of God with
sinners through the Word. A historical event is studied for what elements it
reveals about the nature of God and the form of his dealings with sinners. Once
this is extracted from the history it has universal significance, for the way God
dealt in the history of Israel must be identical with his eternal dealings with sinners
in all times. In this movement from the literal to the spiritual sense is no allegorical
transposition, there are no terms which have a double meaning, by which Origen
transfers from the level of the literal to the level of the spiritual.
This form of transposition from the historical to the universal is also what we
observed in the Psalms. The historical situation was studied for the answer to the
question, how is the Logos dealing with the Psalmist? The answer to this question
provides a universal description for the dealing of the Logos with sinners, since
the Logos remains identical with himself in his manner of correcting and
educating. Out of the historical situation, Origen draws the universal implications
without the use of an allegorical transposition.105

Spiritual-Contemporary Sense

The spiritual sense is a complex unity. As we have seen it is defined by two


distinct questions: "What is the Logos teaching through this concrete and
historical reality?" and "How can this teaching be applied to the hearer of the text
today?" Before discussing these two components let us consider the spiritual
sense in its unity by examining the terms that Origen uses for designating it.

104
" ,
.
, '
." Horn, injer. 1,3 (Klostermann,
p. 2.19-24).
10i
Once again this transposition is possible because the pedagogy of the Logos in the historical
situation is no different than the pedagogy of the Logos today which is the content of the spiritual
sense.
106
Horn, injer. 1,12 (Klostermann, p. 10.14); IV,1 (Klostermann, p. 22.7); 1,1 (Klostermann, p. 1.8).

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144 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

When he contrasts the spiritual sense with the literal sense ( ) he


employs the terms , and .
The term is used to describe the spiritual sense as a whole.
We might translate it as the meaning which leads the soul upward.107 There are
two ways in which Origen's exegetical procedure is dictated by his understanding
of the spiritual sense. In chapter two we saw that interpretation leads the soul
upward by "ascending" from the historical to the spiritual, from the particular
and temporal to the universal. In chapter three we saw that the spiritual meaning
itself leads the soul upward, in that the sequence of spiritual meanings leads the
soul upward out of sin through knowledge toward perfection. The task of
interpretation is to take the letter and history as the point of departure and move
upward to the spiritual realities. "The scribe of the gospel is the one who knows
how, after studying the narrative of the events (... ), to ascend to the
spiritual realities ( ) without stumbling."108 The
technique to be used for discovering the ascending sense or spiritual meanings is
allegory ().109 The term , however refers not to the
technique but the meaning of the text which leads toward the higher realities.110
The terms and refer to the intention of the Holy Spirit and
the writer of the text.11' In Origen's usage these two terms mean that the spiritual
sense or meaning of the text is the one intended by the Holy Spirit, and that the
intended meaning is directed toward the reader for the purpose of his instruction
and advancement.
Is it possible that this passage is void of mysteries and should we believe that
the Holy Spirit who dictated these things to be written down only wanted us
to know that some of the people were numbered and others were not? And
how would this benefit those who study the sacred books... For what does it
profit the soul in terms of its salvation to know that one part of the people
were counted in the desert and another part were passed over... If, however,
we believe that the "law is spiritual" as Paul indicates and understand this

107
The term () is not used to describe an exegerical process before Origen. This implies that
Origen developed and introduced a term to express the theological character of exegesis because
the available hellenisric terms were inadequate. Cf. W. Bienert, "AUegoria" und "Anagoge"bei
Didymos dem Blinden von Alexandria (PTS 13, 1972) pp. 59-62.
101
" , ( )
" Comm. in Ait. ,14 (Klostermann, GCS 40, p. 17. 13-14).
">' Ibid.
110
W. Bienert, "Allegoria"und "Anagoge", has established the distinction between allegory, a neutral
method of interpretation taken over from the philosophical tradition by which a representational
text may be interpreted, and anagogy, a theological method by which the meaning of the text is set
in opposition to its literal sense.
111
Princ. IV Cap. 2,7-8 (Koetschau, pp. 318-321).

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The Theological Structure of Origen's Method of Exegesis 145

passage spiritually then the soul will benefit and make progress through the
things that are written.112
It is the Holy Spirit, who inspired the writers of Scripture, who intended that
they be understood spiritually and He has given the spiritual sense for the
purpose of edification.
The terms and also influence Origen's exegetical procedure.
We saw above how Origen established the subject matter of the text by identifying
the form of its "usefulness" for the hearer.1n The spiritual meaning intended by
the Holy Spirit is always the meaning which advances the hearer toward
perfection. This is why the fourth step of exegesis applies the doctrinal content to
the contemporary hearer.114
Now that we have considered the terms which Origen uses when he sets the
spiritual sense over against the literal sense, let us examine briefly the terms he
uses to describe its content. From his terminology ,
, , , and we gain a comprehensive
picture of the spiritual sense. The terms and underline the
doctrinal form of the spiritual sense. The intelligible and spiritual reality which the
doctrines formulate is designated by the terms and . Each of
these terms is specifically related to the Logos in Origen's thought. The
and are what he, as the Paedagogus, teaches. Knowledge of
the , is knowledge of the Logos Himself under his different
aspects.1'5 Knowledge of the Logos in this form has the power of advancing the
soul along the way toward perfection. This is transforming knowledge.116 When
Origen asks the exegetical question which determines step three, "What is the
Logos teaching through the historical narrative?", he is asking for the doctrines of
the Logos which disclose the spiritual and intelligible realities in such a way that
the soul can make progress in salvation through the knowledge of them.
Since the goal of inspiration is the nurture of souls, the spiritual doctrines are
contained in Scripture in an order that leads from knowledge of the inferior to
knowledge of the superior and eventually toward perfect knowledge of God.
112
"Possum haec vacua esse mysteriis et hoc solum procurasse credetur Spiritus sanctus, qui haec
scribenda dictavit, ut sciremus, qui tune in illo populo numerari sint et qui sine numero manserint?
Et quis dabitur ex hoc profectus his, qui sacris voluminibus gestiunt erudiri? Quid enim prodest ista
didicisse? Aut quid animae confertur ad salutem, si sciat quod pars aliqua populi numerata est in
deserto, pars vero innumerata derelicta est? Si vero sequentes Pauli sententiam 'legem spiritalem
esse* credamus et spiritaliter quae conrinet audiamus, ingens profectus animae in his, quae scripta
sum, apparebit." Ham. in Num. 1,1 (Baehrens, p. 3.17-p. 4.8).
113
Cf. pp. 124-125.
114
Cf. pp. 121-124.
11 s
Cf. p. 115. That the spiritual sense teaches about the nature of the Logos can also be seen in
Origen's insistence that it must always contain a meaning "worthy" of the Logos. By this Origen
generally means an interpretation which properly discloses his divinity. See Comm. in Mt. X,l
(Klostermann, GCS 40, pp. 1-2); Horn, injer. 1,7 (Klostermann, pp. 5-6).
116
Cf.p.85.

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146 Theological Foundations of Origen's Exegetical Procedure

This understanding of inspiration and of the nature of redemption (that it is


progressive) determine Origen's exegetical procedure as we have outlined it in
chapters two and three. He sets out the doctrinal content of the spiritual sense in
an ascending order to enable the soul to progress stepwise toward perfect
knowledge. This procedure is rooted in his Logos doctrine, for this ordering of
doctrines in Scripture is the means by which the Logos "accommodates'' himself
to the needs and capabilities of his hearers. It is important to remember here that
knowledge of the doctrines is knowledge of the Logos.
The task of exegesis is the presentation of the doctrines of scripture in the
order which creates a progressive knowledge of the Logos and thereby a
corresponding advancement of the soul toward perfection. Therefore the fourth
and last exegetical question, "How can the teaching of the Logos be applied to the
reader of the text today?" already determines which doctrines will be discovered
in the spiritual sense. The teachings of the Logos can be received by the hearer
when they are directed to his present situation and move him step by step toward
perfection. The doctrines of the Logos as they are received by the hearer
constitute the contemporary sense.

Transition from the Spiritual to the Contemporary Sense

Let us now look at the way in which the spiritual sense becomes the
contemporary sense, for at this point in the exegesis of the spiritual sense we find
another transposition or change of levels. That is the transition from the doctrine
of the Logos within the world of Scripture to the doctrine of the Logos present
within the world of the hearer.
This transition is made possible and required by Origen's doctrine of
inspiration. The inspired writers of Scripture chose the material artifacts of their
own experience with the Logos in order to convey the eternal teachings of the
Logos to the contemporary hearer. The inspiration of the Scriptures has not
achieved its goal until the doctrines presented in historical and material form have
reached and taken form in the hearer.117 Likewise the Scripture as the mediating
pedagogical activity of the Logos does not achieve its end until the hearer is truly
instructed in the truth.118 Scripture understood as an activity of the Logos
requires a hearing and receiving subject who is acted upon.119
This transition does not mean that there are two separate senses as we have
seen in the literal and historical senses. The content of the spiritual sense in its

117
Princ. IV Cap. 2,7-8 (Koetschau, pp. 318-321).
118
The word of Scripture is an effective word; it achieves its purpose because it is the word of the
Logos.
1
'' The living and personal dynamism of the word of Christ in the word of Scripture has been noted
by several scholars. M. Harl, Origene et lafonction revelatrke du Verbe Incame, pp. 228-31; R.
Ggler, Zur Theologie des biblischen Wortes, pp. 270-74.

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The Theological Structure of Origen's Method of Exegesis 147

universal doctrinal form and its applied form remains the same. It is the doctrines
of the Logos, in the third step as the universal content of Scripture and in the
fourth step as the application of that content to the individual. It is always the
same doctrines whose universal validity make it possible for them to be the
hidden meaning of the historical sense, the revealed meaning of the universal
spiritual sense and the meaning to be applied to the contemporary hearer. The
contemporary application of the doctrine is simply an extension of its universal
meaning into the contemporary situation.
Origen's understanding of the role of exegesis places it within the ongoing
movement of redemption (salus). Redemption is divinization, participation in
God. But knowledge is the essential means by which that participation is
achieved. Knowledge has this mystical-contemplative character not only in
Origen but within the Hellenistic world generally. Knowledge is only possible
through similarity. Like is known by like.
But the original similarity of rational beings to God was lost in the fall.
Redemption is the restoration of this similarity. Restoration of the image ()
of God in man restores his capacity for knowledge of God. This process of
restoration in Origen's system is the divine pedagogy in whose step-by-step
progress the soul recovers its original likeness to God.
It is the special task of the divine Pedagogue - the Logos - to make God visible
in such a way that he can be known. The accommodation of the Logos to us in
knowledge prepares the rational soul for participation in God. The accomodation
of the Logos is the means of the divinization of the soul. This pedagogical
accomodation of the Logos reaches its paradigmatic zenith in the incarnation.
Just as in the incarnation the Logos in taking on flesh and history becomes
visible, so also in Scripture by communicating himself in the form of doctrines he
becomes knowable. It is then the task of exegesis to show the way in which the
individual soul becomes able to participate in the Logos through knowledge of
him. Just as the process by which the soul comes to resemble God is progressive,
so also is the divine pedagogy in scripture progressive. Each new vision of the
Logos (the doctrines) produces a closer resemblance to him and simultaneously
prepares for the next level of knowledge and participation. Scripture provides
both the spiritual medium and the doctrinal content for individual participation
in the universal divine pedagogy.
This establishes the central importance of exegesis for Origen in the spiritual
life of the church. The progress of the soul toward perfection, participation in the
Logos - in his universal pedagogy - is made possible through exegesis of the
sacred text. It is the ministerial task of exegesis in the church to discover the
presence of Christ the Logos in Scripture, who through his teachings (the
progression of spiritual doctrines) completes the work of redemption in each
individual soul (divinization through knowledge). Like the sacraments, exegesis
creates the moment in which Christ's work of redemption is carried forward. It is
this divine pedagogy which determines both method and content in Origen's
spiritual exegesis of Scripture. Exegesis continues the pedagogy of the incarnation.

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APPENDICES

APPENDIX A

This appendix, and those following, are designed to present in a more graphic
way the organization of Origen's exegesis. A representative homily for each of
the exegetical genre is included here as well as one book from the commentary on
the Song of Songs and one from the commentary on Matthew. The terms in the
left margin indicate the separate elements which form the unit of interpretation
for each exegetical genre. The key introducing each appendix provides a defini-
tion for each of the terms.
VERSE Quotation of the verse which provides the basis for
the interpretation.
EXPLANATION The explanation which describes the situation in
which diese words are meaningfully spoken.
HEARER The address to the hearer.
VERSE REPEAT Repetition of the verse, this time as spoken by the
hearer.
EXPLANATION/ Explanation in the first person voice, already
HEARER includes relation to hearer.

first Homily on Psalm J71


Psalm 37:3a
VERSE "Quoniam", inquit, "sagittae tuae infixae sunt mihi,
et confirmasti super me manum tuam." (col. 1373
A 6-7)
EXPLANATION Serrno Domini sagittis est similis... quoniam
sagittae tuae infixae sunt mihi. (col. 1373 A 7-B 10)
HEARER Verbi gratia, et nunc si ex ista omni multitudine
auditorum sint aliqui conscii sibi in aliquo
peccato... conversi ad poenitentiam dicant. (col.
1373 B 10-C 2)
VERSE REPEAT "Domine, ne in furore tuo arguas me, neque in ira
tua corripias me, quoniam sagittae tuae infixae sunt
mihi." (col. 1373 C 2-4)

1
Text taken from Migne, Exegeca in Psalmos (PG 12,1862) cols. 1369ff. Cf p. 24 n.3.

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Appendix A 149

EXPLANATION3 Si vero audiens haec non compungatur... Non


enim potest dicere Domino, (cols. 1373 C 4-1374
A 2)
VERSE2 Quoniam sagittae tuae infixae sunt mihi. (col. 1374
A 2-3)
HEARER2 Atque urinam omnes nos audiant compuncti...
dum in interioribus nos conscientiae percutis. (col.
1374 A 3-8)

Psalm 37:3b
VERSE "Confirmasti super me manum tuam." (col. 1374 A
8-9)
EXPLANATION Confirmat namque manum supra pueros
paedagogus ... merito etiam Domino dicit. (col.
1374 A 9-B 3)
VERSE Quoniam "confirmasti super me manum mam: nee
est sanitas in carne mea a facie irae tuae." (col. 1374
B 3-4)
HEARER Propterea ergo rogo non ipsius irae tuae potentiam
experiri... propter hoc oro ut non ipsam iram
patiar. (col. 1374 B 4-14)
VERSE REPEAT Vide ergo si non manifeste haec dicuntur in eo quod
ait: "Et confirmasti super me manum mam." (col.
1374 B 14-C 1)

Psalm 37:4a
VERSE "Nee est sanitas in carne mea a facie irae tuae." (col.
1374 C 1-2)
EXPLANATION Potuit dicere, ab ira tua, sed nunc ait... Propter nos
enim et nobis infirmus erat. (cols. 1374 C 2-1376 A
9
>
HEARER Ideo consideremus nosmeu'psos, si mfirma est caro
nostra... Si senriamus faciem irae Dei. (col. 1376 A
9-B 4)
VERSE REPEAT Deum enim recordamur iram Dei... exterrita caro
infirmatur atque languescit. (col. 1376 B 4-8)

Psalm 37:4b
VERSE "Non est pax ossibus meis a facie peccatorum
meonim." (col. 1376 B 9-10)
This second pattern covers the same material from the opposite direction. It describes the one "who
cannot say" these words of the Psalm.

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150 Appendices

EXPLANATION Etiam haec debet dicere qui peccavit... iste merito


dicit. (col. 1376 B 10-C 8)
VERSE REPEAT "Non est pax ossibus meis a facie peccatorum
meorum." (col. 1376 C 8-9)
HEARER Est sane facies quaedam etiam peccatorum...
exterriti merito dicimus nos non habere pacem in
ossibus nostris a facie peccatorum nostrorum. (col.
1376 C 9-D 3)

Psalm 37:5
VERSE Addat etiam haec qui poenitet pro peccatis suis, et
dicat: "Quia iniquitates meae superposuerunt caput
meum, sicut onus grave gravatae sunt super me."
(col. 1376 D 4-7)
EXPLANATION Qui enim nee dolent, nee gravantur pro peccatis
suis... ideo non possunt dicere. (cols. 1376 D
7-1377 A 3)
VERSE3 "Quoniam iniquitates meae superposuerunt caput
meum, sicut onus grave gravatae sunt super me."
(col. 1377 A 3-5)
EXPLANATION3 Quomodo enim possunt dicere illi qui... Non est
ergo illorum dicere haec. (col. 1377 A 5-9)
HEARER Sed eorum quibus libido jam sorduit... quia postea
omnino nulla futura est. (col. 1377 A 9-13)

Psalm 37:6a
VERSE Isti sunt qui possunt etiam dicere haec quae
sequuntur, "quoniam foetuerunt et putrefactae sunt
cicatrices meae." (col. 1377 A 13-15)
EXPLANATION Nolite, inquit Salvator, mittere margaritas ...
ostendens cicatrices putrefactorum suorum
vulnerum dicit. (col. 1377 A 15-C 2)
VERSE REPEAT "Foetuerunt et putrefactae sunt cicatrices meae."
(col. 1377 C 2-3)

Psalm 37:6b
VERSE "A facie insipientiae." (col. 1377 C 3)
EXPLANATION Recte autem hie peccatum insipientiam nominavit.
Nemo enim sapiens id aliquando committit. (col.
1377 C 3-5)
3
These steps present the explanation through describing the one who cannot repeat the words of the
Psalm. The application to the hearer in the following step uses the explanation so constructed.

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Appendix A 151

Psalm 37:7a
VERSE "Miseriis afflictus sum, et curvatus usque in finem."
(col. 1377 C 6-7)
EXPLANATION Sed videas aliquando eum qui peccavit . . . Non
dicit, affligor adhuc. (cols. 1377 C 7-1378 A 7)
HEARER Si enim transierunt jam peccata mea, afflictus sum
miseriis; si autem permanent, et in ipsis conversor,
adhuc affligor miseriis. (col. 1378 A 7-9)
VERSE REPEAT "Miseriis" ergo, inquit, "afflictus." (col. 1378 A
9-10)

Psalm 37 :7b
VERSE "Et Curvatus sum usque in finem. " (col. 1378 A
10-11)
EXPLANATION Si videas eum qui peccavit . . . Huic nimirum
convenit dicere. (col. 1378 A 11-B 9)
VERSE REPEAT Quia "Curvatus sum usque in finem." (col. 1378 B
9-10)

Psalm 37:7c
VERSE "Et tota die contristatus ingrediebar." (col. 1378 B

EXPLANATION Hoc autem dicens . . . quae scripta sunt: Vae


ridentibus nunc, quia lugebitis, et plangetis. (col.
1378 B 10-C 8)

Psalm 37:8a
VERSE "Tota die contristatus ingrediebar, quoniam renes
mei completi sunt illusionibus." (col. 1378 C 9-10)
EXPLANATION In renibus vel in lumbis humanorum seminum
receptaculum esse dicitur ... in quibus videlicet
utrisque draconis diaboli virtutem potentiamque
esse designat. (cols. 1378 C 10-1379 B 5)

Psalm 37 :8b
VERSE "Et non est sardtas in carne mea." (col. 1379 B 5-6)
EXPLANATION In hoc profectum suum ostendit . . . remedium
tentarionum molestiis declararet. (col. 1379 B 6-10)

Psalm 37 :9-10b
VERSE "Afflictus sum, et humiliatus sum valde." (col. 1379
B 10-11)

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152 Appendices

EXPLANATION Festivitaribus Domini panem nos afflicrionis edere


jubemur... quibusque rugitibus proclamabit,
dicens. (col. 1379 B 11-1380 A 14)
VERSE "Rugiebam a gemitu cordis mei? Domine, in
conspectu tuo omne desiderium meum, et gemitus
meus a te non est absconditus." (col. 1380 A 14-
B!
).
HEARER Omma ergo ex quo deliqui... in orationibus meis
in conspectu tuo pono. (col. 1380 B 1-4)
VERSE REPEAT "Et gemitus meus a te non est absconditus." (col.
1380 B 5)

Psalm 37:1 la
VERSE Nosti enim quia semper ingemisco. "Cor meum
conturbatum est, et deseruit me virtus mea." (col.
1380 B 5-7)
EXPLANATION Tu vide, Domine, cor meum... et conversatio mea
fuit bona, postea vero cecidi. (col. 1380 B 7-12)
VERSE REPEAT Quia "deseruit me fortitudo mea." (col. 1380 B
12-13)

Psalm 37:1 Ib
VERSE "Et lumen oculorum meorum non est mecum."
(col. 1380 B 13-14)
EXPLANATION Haec vox illius videtur esse qui... post agnitionem
veritatis in tenebris decidit. (col. 1380 B 14-C 1)
HEARER Ne ergo et nos eadem patiamur... deprecemur, cui
est gloria et potestas in saecula saeculorum. Amen,
(col. 1380 C 1-7)

APPENDIX B

VERSE The quotation of the verse which provides the basis


for the interpretation.
HISTORICAL/ The explanation of the historical or grammatical
GRAMMATICAL sense. Origen designates it (p. 2.9) or
(. 10.13).
The spiritual sense, (. 1.8), or
(p. 2.8) of the literal sense consists of two parts:
TEACHING die intended teaching, (. 2.18);
HEARER the extension of the teaching to include the hearer; it
shows the usefulness of the teaching,
(. 2.33-34).

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Appendix 153

First Homily on Jeremiah1


Jeremiah 1:1-3
PROLOGUE ...

, (. 1.1-. 2.4)
HISTORICAL/
GRAMMATICAL ... ,
; (. 2.5-19)
TEACHING
...
. (. 2.19-33)
HEARER ...
"

". (. 2.33-. 3.23)

Jeremiah 1:52
VERSE
"
." (. 8.28-29)
HISTORICAL/ ...
GRAMMATICAL # .
(. 8.29-. 9.9)
TEACHING " ."
... ,
.
(. 9.10-22)
HEARER ...
, (. 9.22-25)

Jeremiah l:5b
VERSE ... "
,
." (. 9.26-. 10.2)
HISTORICAL/ ...
GRAMMATICAL . (. 10.2-8)

This appendix uses Nautin's text (SC 232,1976) but Klostermann's pagination (GCS 6,1901).
The exegesis of Jer. 1:4 is an excursus on the proper method of interpretation. The portion, p. 3.25,
sec. 5, through p. 8.27, sec. 9, explains how the passage could be interpreted if it is assumed that
Jeremiah is the speaker (p. 3.25-p. 5.30) or how it could be interpreted assuming the Saviour is the
speaker (p. 5.31-p. 8.27).

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154 Appendices

Jeremiah l:5c
VERSE " ." (. 10.8)
HISTORICAL/ ...
GRAMMATICAL " "
, (. 10.8-14)
TEACHING ...
. (. 10.14-23)
HEARER , ,
... .
(. 10.24-27)

Jeremiah 1:6-7
VERSE " ,
, .
,
." (. 10.28-30)
TEACHING ,
...
, ' " ".
(. 10.31-. 11.5)

Jeremiah 1:8
VERSE "
,
".
(. 11.5-7)
TEACHING ...

(. 11.7-21)
HEARER , ...
" ...
".
(. 11.21-27)

Jeremiah 1:9
VERSE " " ,
,
, ,
." (. 11.28-30)
HISTORICAL/ ... *
GRAMMATICAL .
(. 11.30-.12.9)

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Appendix C 155

Jeremiah 1:10
VERSE "
,

.
, ." (. 12.9-12)
TEACHING ...
; "
." (. 12.13-. 15.22)
HEARER "" ...
. .
(. 15.22-. 16.12)

APPENDIX C

The units of interpretation for Numbers are organized around a topic or


question derived from the history to which the text refers. This theme is stated in
the first lines of each unit. Following is the key to the marginal terms:
HISTORY The history which is given in the book of Numbers.
TEACHING The explanation of this history, in this case an
allegorical explanation.
HEARER The extension of the explanation to include the
hearer.
TEACHING/ The explanation is developed and applied to the
HEARER hearer simultaneously; and it is given in
"weVitVyou" form.

First Homily on Number?


Topic: Why were some numbered and others not?
HISTORY Divinis Numeris non omnes digni sunt...
Feminarum vero nulla prorsus adducitur. (p. 3.
2-17)
TEACHING/ Et quid videtur? Possunt haec vacua esse
HEARER mysteriis... mine ad propositum revertamur. (p. 3.
17-p. 4. 30)

Topic: What is the force of Israel?


HISTORY Et locutus est inquit Dominus... ipse numeratur
apud Deum. (p. 5. 1-7)

Text edited by W. A. Baehrens, Hamtiien zum Hexateuch (GCS 30,1921).

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156 Appendices

TEACHING Est enim virtus animi... haec non adiungitur ad


calculum Dei. (p. 5. 7-13)
HEARER Sola apud Deum virtus Istrahelitica numerator...
qui progrediuntur in virtute Istrahel. (p. 5. 13-17)

Topic: Why were they numbered at this rime?


HISTORY Sed et illud consideremus ... tune ad numerum ex
praecepto Dei populus adducitur. (p. 5. 17-29)
TEACHING/ Describe haec, auditor, in corde tuo dupliciter...
HEARER ut possis aliquando ad IstraheKticum numerum
perrinere. (p. 5. 29-p. 6. 8)

Topic: What is the meaning of order and tribe?


HISTORY Ego adhuc amplius aliquid intueor in hoc
Numerorum libro mysterii... mihi sacramentorum
prodit indicia, (p. 6. 9-12)
TEACHING/ Apostolo nobis Paulo spiritalis intelligentiae semina
HISTORY respergente... quorum ordinum typus in hoc libro
et figura praeformari mihi videtur. (p. 6.12-p. 7. 6)

Topic: What is the meaning of the organization of


the camp?
HISTORY Sed et illud, quod consociatione quadam
tribuum... intra trinitatis numerum conrinentur.
(p. 7. 6-15)
TEACHING Et quod per totas has quattuor partes in unum
numerum colligitur eadem trinitas semper... quae
Deuteronomii volumen includit. (p. 7.15-27)
HEARER Et ideo festinandum nobis est pervenire ad lesum...
cui gloria et Imperium in saecula saeculorum. Amen,
(p. 7. 27-p. 8. 15)

APPENDIX D

VERSE Quotation of the verse which provides the basis for


the interpretation.
NARRATIVE Explication of the dramatic situation contained in
the text.
TEACHING Spiritual teaching on the church through
identification: bride = church.
READER Spiritual teaching to the reader through
identification: bride = soul.

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Appendix D 157

TEACHING/ Spiritual teaching on the church, application to the


READER reader given simultaneously.
VERSE REPEAT Repetition of the verse, this time as spoken by the
reader.

Book I of Commentary on the Song of Songs1


Song of Songs l:2a
VERSE "Osculetur me ab osculis oris sui" ... vel de animae
cum Verbo Dei coniunctione dirigitur. (p. 89.4-13)
NARRATIVE Introducatur ergo nunc per historiae speciem sponsa
quaedam... et dicere de sponso suo: "osculetur me
ab osculis oris sui". (p. 89. 13-p. 90. 2)
TEACHING Haec sunt, quae dramatis in modum composita
historica continet explanatio. Interior vero
intellectus videamus... et dixerat: non legatus
neque angelus, sed "ipse Dominus salvabit eos".
(p. 90. 2-P.91.4)
READER2 Tertio vero expositionis loco introducamus
animam... tune affectu orationis huius assumpto
petamus a Deo visitationem Verbi eius. (p. 91.
4-p.92. 10)
VERSE REPEAT Et dicamus: "osculetur me ab osculis oris sui" . . .
porrigere in intellectibus dumtaxat et sensibus
debeat. (p. 92. 10-13)

Song of Songs l:2b


VERSE "Quia bona sunt ubera tua super vinum, et odor
unguentorum tuorum super omnia aromata".
(p. 92. 14-15)
NARRATIVE Intellige prius quasi in historiae dramate
sponsam... Haec interim secundum historicam
intelligentiam, quam dramatis in modum
praediximus textam. (p. 92. 15-p. 93. 2)
TEACHING Nunc vero, quid intellectus interior habeat,
requiramus ... multo praestantiores ei videbuntur
quam fuit prius illud "vinum" legis et doctrina
prophetica. (p. 93. 3-p. 97. 16)
READER Sed et si tertia expositione de anima haec perfecta et
Text edited by W. A. Baehrens, Homilien zu Samuel I, zum Hohelied und zu den Propheten,
Kommentar zum Hohelied (GCS 33,1925).
The use the reader is to make of the words is identical to the way in which the "soul" is to use them.
Here and in the exegesis of vs. 1:4f. the relationship is made explicit; elsewhere it is implicit.

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158 Appendices

Verbo Dei sentire debeamus ... dicens ad ipsum


Dei Verbum de his thesauris, qui in ipso sapientiae
et scientiae reconditi sunt. (p. 97. 17-25)
VERSE REPEAT "Quia bona sunt ubera tua super vinum". (p. 97.
25-26)

Song of Songs l:3a


VERSE "Odor unguentorum tuorum super omnia
aromata." (p. 97. 27-p. 98. 1)
NARRATIVE Sunt autem etiam "unguenta" quaedam sponsi...
Sponsa ergo habuit quidem usum et notitiam
aromatum. (p. 97. 26-p. 98. 2)
TEACHING Hoc est verborum legis et prophetarum... Et ideo
"odor unguentorum" eius "est super omnia
aromata". (p. 98. 2-p. 100.12)
READER Simili autem expositione utimur, etiam si ad
unamquamque animam in amore et desiderio Verbi
Dei positam transferatur hie sermo... ubi, inquam,
anima ad agnitionem tanti huius adscendit arcani,
merito dicit. (p. 100.12-27)
VERSE REPEAT3 "Quia odor unguentorum tuorum" - spiritalis
scilicet intelligentia et mystica - "super omnia
aromata" moralis naturalisque philosophiae. (p. 100.
27-29)

Song of 'Songs 1:3b


VERSE "Unguentum exinanitum nomen tuum. Propterea
adulescentulae dilexerunt te, traxerunt te; post te in
odorem unguentorum tuorum curremus". (p. 101.
8-10)
NARRATIVE Historica quidem expositio ... ordo dramatis, qui
in hac expositione a nobis receptus est, poscit.
(p. 101. 10-13)
TEACHING" Potest sane in his prophetia quaedam videri ex
persona sponsae prolata de Christo ... et adsumit
ad se Verbum Dei pro capacitatis et fidei suae
mensura. (p. 101. 13-p. 102. 10)
READER Cum autem "traxerint ad se" animae Verbum

3
The concluding section of this interpretive unit (p. 100. 29-p. 101. 7) is a brief discussion of an
alternate reading of the text.
* Origen interprets this passage as prophesying an event in the life of Christ rather than as disclosing a
spiritual teaching about the church.

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Appendix D 159

Dei... quemadmodum et ille, qui dicebat: "sic


curro, ut comprehendam". (p. 102. 10-20)
VERSE REPEAT Verum quod ait: "unguentum exinanitum nomen
tuum; propterea adulescentulae dilexerunt te,
traxerunt te; post te in odorem unguentorum
tuorum curremus". (p. 102. 20-22)
TEACHING5 Trahunt ad se Christum adulescentulae... fide
eorum tractus et unanimitate provocatus. (p. 102.
22-28)
READER Si vero tertia exposirione de anima Verbum Dei
sequente intelligi haec oportet... trahi se ab his
indulgenter accipit benigneque concedit. (p. 102.
28-p. 103. 4)

Song of Songs l:4ab


Introduction (p. 103. 4-17)
NARRATIVE Sed nunc interim, ut videtur, sponsa consociaris
sibi... ut eos, qui sine lege sunt, salvet. (p. 103.
17-27)
TEACHING/ Et hoc fit, ut diximus, solo adhuc odoratu eius
READER accepto. Quid putas, agent... et auditu
"deliciabitur" et visu et tactu odoratuque
"deliciabitur". (p. 103. 27-p. 104. 24)
VERSE REPEAT In odorem namque unguenti eius curret. (p. 104.
24-p. 105. 1)
Excursus on method of interpretation (p. 105.
1-p. 107. 17)
VERSE Potest adhuc et hoc modo accipi, quod ait:
"unguentum exinanitum nomen tuum; propterea
adulescentulae dilexerunt te". (p. 107. 17-19)
TEACHING* "Unigenitus filius", cum in forma Dei esset... sicut
iam superius exposuimus. (p. 107.19-p. 108.12)

Song of Songs l:4c


VERSE "Introduxit me rex in cubiculum suum; exsultemus
et iucundemur in te". (p. 108. 13-14)
NARRATIVE Cum indicasset sponso suo sponsa... Hie est
secundum propositi dramatis ordinem quasi
historicus intellectus. (p. 108. 14-21)

s
Origen gives two interpretations for 1:3b. The first interprets the verse as a prophecy of Christ's
coming and the second interpretation follows the pattern detailed above.
* Origen gives an alternate interpretation for 1:4ab; this rime without an application to the reader.

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160 Appendices

TEACHING/ Sed quoniam, cui res agitur, ecclesia est... ut videos


HEARER eius divitias det ei petitiones suas; "omni" enim
"habend dabitur". (p. 108. 21-p. 110. 20)

Song of Songs l:4d


VERSE Quod autem ait: "exsultemus et iucundemur in te".
(p. 110. 20-21)
TEACHING/ Videtur ex persona adulescentularum dici... et
HEARER "iucundentur" in eo. (p. 110. 21-26)

Song of Songs l:4e


NARRATIVE Vel etiam ad sponsam potest dictum videri...
participes fiant exsultationis eius et laetitiae. (p. 110.
26-28)
VERSE "Diligemus ubera tua super vinum". (p. 110.28-29)
TEACHING/ Sponsa quidem, posteaquam "oscula" meruit... et
HEARER desiderantes iisdem vesrigiis incedere promittunt et
dicunt. (p. 110.29-p. 111.6)
VERSE REPEAT "Diligemus ubera tua super vinum". (p. 111. 6-7)
Summary (p. 111. 7-25)

Song of Songs l:4f


VERSE "Aequitas dilexit te". (p. 111. 25)
NARRATIVE Etiam hoc videntur mini adulescentulae proloqui...
neque integram vim caritatis ostendant. (p. 111.
26-p. 112. 3)
TEACHING/ Est ergo vox ista velut incusantium semet ipsas...
HEARER ut possit et de nobis dici. (p. 112. 3-25)
VERSE REPEAT' "Aequitas dilexit te". (p. 112. 25)

APPENDIX E

VERSE Quotation of the verse which provides the basis for


the interpretation.
NARRATIVE/ Dramatic action explicated as spiritual action
TEACHING between Christ and the church, which the hearer is
to imitate.

7
In the passage p. 112. 25-p. 113. 8, Origen provides an alternate interpretation for 1:4f.

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Appendix E 161

HEARER Hearer addressed directly. (Note: The narrative/


teaching sections are to be understood as implicitly
addressing the hearer. See p. 29. 10-16).
VERSE REPEAT Repetition of the verse after its meaning has been
explained.

First Homily on the Song of Songs*


Song of Songs l:2a
Prologue (p. 27. 7-p. 29. 23)
VERSE Verum iam ipsa verba ponenda sum, in quibus
primum vox sponsae deprecantis auditur.
"Osculetur me ab osculis oris sui". (p. 29. 24-25)
NARRATIVE/ Quorum iste sensus est . . . dicitur ad eum . . . "oleo
TEACHING exsultationis prae participibus tuis". (p. 29. 25-p. 30.

HEARER2 Si me tetigerit sponsus . . . ut et ego quoque possim


dicere, quod in hoc eodem libro scriptum est:
"sinistra eius sub capite meo, et dextra eius
complexabitur me", (p. 30. 12-p. 31. 22)
VERSE REPEAT "Osculetur me" ergo "ab osculis oris sui" . . . utinam
"osculetur". (p. 31. 23-p. 32. 1)

Song of Songs l:2h


VERSE quia bona ubera tua super vinum". (p. 32. 4-5)
NARRATIVE/ Deinde conspicit sponsum . . . ubera nominat
TEACHING dicens: "quia bona ubera tua super vinum". (p. 32.

HEARER Communica ut sponsa cum sensibus sponsi ... sic


"ubera" sponsi omni meliora sunt "vino", (p. 32.
12-15)
VERSE REPEAT "Quia bona ubera tua super vinum". (p. 32. 16)

Song of Songs 1:3 a


VERSE In mediis precibus ad sponsum verba convertit. -
"Et odor unguentorum tuorum super omnia
aromata". (p. 32. 16-18)
HEARER3 Non uno, sed omnibus sponsus venit ... si videro
1
Seep. 157, n. 1.
2
The section from . 31.1-22 is an excursus on the proper interpretation of this book. It is customary
for Origen to insert a short essay on interpretation within the first homily which deals with
particularities of that book (Cf. Horn, injer. I (Klostermann, pp. 1-16).
' The spiritual teaching is explained in this case through showing how the words apply to the hearer.

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162 Appendices

Christum et suavitatem unguentorum eius odore


percepero, statim sententiam fero dicens. (p. 32.
18-p.33.9)
VERSE REPEAT "odor unguentorum tuorum super omnia aromata".
(p. 33. 9-10)

Song of Songs 1:3 h


VERSE "Unguentum effusum nomen tuum". (p. 33. 11)
NARRATIVE/ Prophen'cum sacramentum est... Statim ut lesus
TEACHING4 radiavit in mundo, eduxit secum legem et prophetas
et vere completum est. (p. 33. 11-p. 34. 5)
VERSE REPEAT "unguentum effusum est nomen tuum". (p. 34.5-6)

Song of Songs l:3c


VERSE "Propterea iuvenculae dilexerunt te". (p. 34. 7)
NARRATIVE/ Quia per Spiritum sanctum caritas Dei eifusa est...
TEACHING chorus et sponsae laudatur eloquiis. (p. 34. 7-13)
VERSE REPEAT Propterea iuvenculae dilexerunt te et attraxerunt
te". (p. 34. 13-14)

Song of Songs l:4a


VERSE Adulescentukeque respondent: "post te in odorem
unguentorum tuorum curremus". (p. 34. 14-15)
NARRATIVE/ Quam pulchre sponsae pedissequae necdum habent
TEACHING fiduciam sponsae... bravium Christum est. (p. 34.
15-25)
VERSE REPEAT "post te" ergo "in odorem unguentorum tuorum
curremus". (p. 34. 21-22)

Song of Songs l:4b


VERSE introduxit me rex in cubiculum suum". (p. 35.
5-6)
NARRATIVE/ Et haec quidem adulescentulae... ut..
TEACHING renuntietque iuvenculis. (p. 34. 25-p. 35. 8)
VERSE REPEAT "introduxit me rex in cubiculum suum". (p. 35.
8-9)

4
Origen interprets Song of Songs 1:3b as a prophecy of Christ and so, unlike the rest of the chapter,
there is no application to the hearer.

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Appendix E 163

Song of Songs l:4c


VERSE "exsultabimus et laetabimur in te". (p. 35. 12)
NARRATIVE/ Rursum adulescentulae... amor iste sine viuo est.
TEACHING (p. 35. 9-14)
VERSE REPEAT "Exsultabimus et laetabimur in te. (p. 35. 14)

Song of Songs l:4d


VERSE "Diligemus ubera tua". (p. 35. 15)
NARRATIVE/ Ilia, quae maior est, iam tuorum uberum lacte
TEACHING perfruitur... et dicunt: "exsultabimus et laetabimur
inte", (p.35.15-18)
VERSE REPEAT "Diligemus" - non diligimus, sed "diligemus" -
"ubera tua super vinum". (p. 35. 18-19)

Song of Songs l:4e


VERSE Deinde loquuntur ad sponsum: "aequitas dilexit
te". (p. 35. 20)
NARRATIVE/ Laudant sponsam nomen illi aequitatis a propriis
TEACHING virtutibus imponentes. (p. 35. 20-21)
VERSE REPEAT "aequitas dilexit te". (p. 35. 21-22)

Song of Songs 1:5a


VERSE Rursum ad adulescentulas sponsa respondet: "nigra
sum et speciosa, filiae Hierusalem". (p. 35.23-24)
NARRATIVE/ Simulque discimus ... de ea fine cantatur: "quae est
TEACHING ista, quae adscendit dealbata?". (p. 35.24-p. 36.16)
HEARER Intelleximus, quomodo et nigra et formosa sit
sponsa ... sic et Aethiopia Istrahel aegrotante sanata
est. "Hlorum delicto salus gentibus facta est, ad
aemulandum eos". (p. 36. 16-p. 37. 9)
VERSE REPEAT "Nigra sum et speciosa, filiae Hierusalem". (p. 37.
9
>
HEARER* Et tu, ecclesiastice, ad filias Hierusalem convene
sermonem... sed huius, qui in evangelic Solomone
maior est. (p. 37. 9-23)
VERSE REPEAT "Nigra sum et speciosa, filiae Hierusalem". (p. 37.
23-24)

In interpreting 1:5a Origen gives two ways for the hearer to participate in the meaning of the text: a)
through imitating the bride's repentance and her "ascent from lower things to higher", b) through
identifying himself with the Bride-Church who was preferred over the Bride-Israel.

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164 Appendices

Song of Songs 1:5h


VERSE "Nigra ut tabernacula Cedar, speciosa ut pelles
Solomonis." (p. 37. 24-p. 38. 1)
NARRATIVE/ Ipsa quoque nomina cum sponsae decore
TEACHING conveniunt... Dives quippe fuit Solomon et in
omni sapientia illius nemo praecessit ilium, (p. 38.
l 6
~)
VERSE REPEAT Nigra sum et speciosa, filiae Hierusalem, ut
tabernacula Cedar, ut pelles Solomonis." (p. 38.
6-7)

Song of Songs l:6a


VERSE "Ne intueamini me, quia ego sum denigrata". (p. 38.
7 8
~)
NARRATIVE/ Satisfacit de nigrore suo et per paenitentiam ad
TEACHING meliora conversa adnuntiat... Habes utrumque
apud Apostolum. (p. 38. 8-17)

Song of Songs l:6b


VERSE "Filii matris meae pugnaverunt adversum me",
(p. 38.18)
NARRATIVE/ Considerandum, quomodo sponsa dicat...
TEACHING praedicaverunt fidem, quam ante destruebant.
(p. 38. 18-p.39. 3)

Song of Songs l:6c


VERSE Hoc prophetico spiritu sponsa nunc cantans ait:
"dimicaverunt in me, posuerunt me custodem in
vineis, vineam meam non custodivi". (p. 39. 3-5)
NARRATIVE/ Ego ecclesia, ego sponsa... factus... his, qui sub
TEACHING lege erant, quasi sub lege et cetera, (p. 39. 5-14)
VERSE REPEAT Dicatque: "vineam meam non custodivi". (p. 39.
14-15)

Song of Songs 1:7a


VERSE " Adnuntia mihi, quern delexit anima mea, ubi pascis,
ubi cubas in meridie". (p. 39. 24-25)
NARRATIVE/ Deinde conspicit sponsum... Quaere et invenies
TEACHING scripturam divinam non frustra et fortuitu
unumquemque usurpare sermonem. (p. 39.
15-p.40. 3)

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Appendix E 165

HEARER Quis putas est dignus e nobis, u t . . . videat, ubi


pascat, ubi cubet sponsus in meridie? (p. 40. 4-5)
VERSE REPEAT "Adnuntia mihi, quern dilexit anima mea, ubi pascis,
ubi cubas in meridie". (p. 40. 5-6)

Song of Songs l:7b


VERSE "Ne quando fiam, sicut cooperta super greges
sodalium tuorum". (p. 40. 12)
NARRATIVE/ Nisi enim mihi tu adnuntiaveris... incipiam forsitan
TEACHING et eos amare, quos nescio. (p. 40. 7-14)
VERSE REPEAT "Idcirco admmtia mihi, ubi te quaeram et inveniam
in meridie, ne forte flam quasi cooperta super greges
sodalium tuorum." (p. 40. 15-16)

Song of Songs 1:8


VERSE Post haec verba sponsus ei comminatur et dich: "aut
cognosces temet ipsam." (p. 40. 17-18)
NARRATIVE/ Quoniam regis es sponsa... non poteris mecum, id
TEACHING est cum bono esse pasture, (p. 40. 18-p. 41. 2)

Song of Songs 1:9


VERSE "Equitatui meo in curribus Pharao assimilavi te".
41 3
NARRATIVE/
<P- : >.
Si vis intelligere, sponsa... quanto, inquam, differt
TEACHING equitatus meus ab equis Pharao, tanto tu melior es
omnibus filiabus. (p. 41. 3-12)
HEARER Tu sponsa, tu ecclesiastica anima... si non es
melior, non es ecclesiastica. (p. 41.12-15)
VERSE REPEAT "Equitatui meo in curribus Pharao assimilavi te,
proxima mea". (p. 41. 15-16)

Song of Songs 1:10


VERSE Deinde pulchritudinem sponsae spiritali amore
describit. "Genae tuae ut turturis". (p. 41.16-17)
NARRATIVE/ Faciem illius laudat... tuus ipse collus est
TEACHING ornamentum. (p. 41. 17-23)

Song of Songs 1:11


VERSE "Similitudines auri faciemus tibi cum stigmatibus
argenri". (p. 42. 5-6)
NARRATIVE/ Post haec fit sponsus in recubitu... cui gloria in
TEACHING saecula saeculorum. Amen! (p. 41. 23-p. 42. 10)

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166 Appendices

APPENDIX F

The next two appendices illustrate the way in which Origen interprets gospel
texts. Included here are analyses of the first two homilies on Luke and an analysis
of the tenth book of the commentary on Matthew. Origen's exegesis of the
gospels differs from that of the Old Testament in that here Origen derives a series
of spiritual teachings from the passage without relating the hearer or reader to
each individual teaching.1 An analysis of the second homily on Luke is also
included here since it is the exception to the rule and illustrates the difference
between exegesis of Old and New Testament texts. In the exegesis in this homily
every teaching is related to the hearer - the common feature of the interpretation
of Old Testament texts. For the sake of clarity the particular phrase or concept in
the gospel text from which the spiritual teaching is drawn is given in quotes.
VERSE Quotation of the verse which provides the basis for
the interpretation.
TEACHING Spiritual teaching drawn from one of the phrases or
concepts in the quotation.
HEARER Hearer is addressed and spiritual meaning is applied
to him.

First Homily on Luke1


Luke 1:1-4
Luke l:la
VERSE Quoniam quidem multi conati sunt ordinre
narrationem. (p. 4. 7-9)
TEACHING From "conati sunt". (p. 4. 8-p. 5. 22)

Luke 1:1 h
VERSE multi conati sunt ordinre narrationem de his rebus,
quae confirmatae sunt in nobis. (p. 5. 22-p. 6. 1)
TEACHING From "confirmatae sunt". (p. 6. 1-p. 7. 6)

Luke l:2a
VERSE Sicut tradiderunt nobis, qui ab initio ipsi viderunt et
ministri fuerunt sermonis. (p. 7. 7-9)
TEACHING From "viderunt". (p. 7. 9-p. 8. 18)

1
Cf. pp. 121-129.
2
Text edited by M. Rauer, Die Homilien zu Lukas (GCS 35,1930 [2. Aufl. GCS 49, 1959]).

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Appendix F 167

Luke l:2b
VERSE Sicut tradiderunt nobis, qui a principio ipsi viderunt
et ministri fuerunt sermonis. (p. 8. 19-21)
TEACHING From "ministri sermonis". (p. 8. 21-p. 9. 20)

Luke 1:3 ^
VERSE Visum est et mihi subsecuto ab initio. (p. 9. 21-22)
TEACHING From "mihi subsecuto". (p. 9. 22-p. 10. 13)

Luke 1.3h-4
VERSE Visum est et mihi assecuto a principio omnia
diligenter ex ordine ribi scribere, optime Theophile.
(p. 11. 1-4)
HEARER4 From "Theophilus". (p. 11. 4-p. 12. 11)

Second Homily on Luke5


Lukel:6")usu"
TEACHING Qui volunt peccatis suis obtendere aliquam
excusationem... ut doceremus posse hominem ob
id, quod peccare desivit, vocari absque peccato et
immaculatum. (p. 13. 5-p. 15. 2)
VERSE Unde et manifestissime de Zacharia et Elisabeth
scribitur: erant justi ambo in conspectu Dei
ambulantes in omnibus mandatis et justificationibus
Domini sine querela. (p. 15. 3-8)
HEARER Diligentius laudes Zachariae ... contemplemur ...
ut sanctum zelum assumentes etiam ipsi laude digni
efficiamur. (p. 15. 8-14)

Luke 1:6 "in conspectu Dei"


VERSE Potuerat simpliciter scribere:... erant justi ambo in
conspectu Dei. (p. 15. 14-19)
TEACHING Potest quippe fieri, ut sit aliquis Justus in conspectu
hominum... Unde digne et nunc additur in laude
3
This presentation is based entirely on the Latin translation of Jerome. The Greek fragments, because
they are excerpts, cannot be used to establish the overall organization of a homily. Furthermore
there remains some doubt as to whether they actually belong to the homilies (see F. Founder,
Homelies surS. Luc (SC 87,1960) pp. 89-90).
* The teaching here is developed from the term "Theophilus" but is done in the first person form.
5
Based on text edited by M. Rauer, Die HomiUen zu Lukas (GCS 35, 1930).

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168 Appendices

justorum: erant justi ambo in conspectu Dei. (p. 15.


19-p. 17.16)
HEARER Ad tale quid et Salomon nos in Proverbiis
cohortatur, dicens: "provide bona in conspectu Dei
et hominum." (p. 17. 16-20)

Lttke 1:6 "ambulantes in omnibus mandatis"


VERSE Sequitur Zachariae et Elisabeth alia laudatio:
"ambulantes in omnibus mandatis et justificationi-
bus Domini." (p. 17. 20-23)
HEARER Quando bene et recte de aliquibus judicamus ...
Unde puto et sanctum Lucam... dixisse: erant justi
ambo, ambulantes in omnibus mandatis et
justificationibus Domini, (p. 17. 23-p. 18. 7)

Luke 1:6 "sine querela"


VERSE Dicat mihi quispiam: si laus ista perfecta est, quid
sibi vult hoc, quod dicitur: "sine querela"? (p. 18.
7-10)
TEACHING Sufficiebat enim dicere... nunquam in alio loco
nosceremus scriptum referri: "juste id, quod justum
est, sequere." (p. 18. 10-p. 19. 2)
HEARER Nisi enim esset justum aliquid, quod non juste
sequeremur, nequaquam nobis praeciperetur... in
saecula saeculorum. Amen. (p. 19. 2-p. 20. 4)

APPENDIX G

VERSE Quotation of the verse which provides the basis for


the interpretation.
QUESTION Identification of a problem or question whose
solution leads to a spiritual teaching.
TEACHING The spiritual teaching derived from the literal sense.
HEARER Application of the spiritual teaching to the hearer.

Book X of the Commentary on Matthew1


Matthew 13:36
VERSE
, ,
1
Text edited by . Klostermann and E. Benz (GCS 40,1935).

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Appendix G 169


. (. 1.1-3)
TEACHING From " ", (. 1.4-6)
TEACHING From " ".
(. 1.7-19)
HEARER ,
... .
(. 1.19-.2.10)

Matthew 13:37-43
VERSE '
...
(. 2.11-12)
TEACHING From "
", (. 2.12-19)
TEACHING From " ", (. 2.20-24)
TEACHING From " ", (. 2.24-27)
TEACHING From " ".
(.2.27-.3.1)
TEACHING From "", (. 3.1-5)
TEACHING From " ", (. 3.5-9)
TEACHING From "oi ". (. 3.9-17)
QUESTION ... . (. 3.28-29)
TEACHING '' ... .
(. 3.18-. 4.4)
QUESTION ; (. 4.4-5)
TEACHING ... .
(. 4.4-13)

Matthew 13:44
VERSE

. (. 4.14-15)
QUESTION ... .
(. 4.19-20)
TEACHING ... .
(. 4.16-. 5.10)
TEACHING From "" and "", (. 5.11-21)
TEACHING2 From "" and "", (. 5.21-. 6.2)
TEACHING From "", (. 6.3-12)

Origen gives two different interpretations for the treasure in the field - Christ in the Scriptures, or
the treasures of wisdom in Christ.

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170 Appendices

TEACHING From "", (p. 6.12-14)


TEACHING From "", (. 6.14-17)
TEACHING From " ".
(p. 6.17-20)
TEACHING From " " (. 6.20-22)
HEARER ...
. (. 6.22-27)

Matthew 13:45-46
VERSE
.
(. 6.28-29)
NATURAL ... .
HISTORY (. 6.30-. 9.12)
TEACHING From "", (. 9.13-19)
TEACHING From " ", (. 9.19-22)
TEACHING From " ".
(. 9.22-. 10.1)
TEACHING From "
". (. 10.2-16)
TEACHING From "", (. 10.17-23)
TEACHING From "
".
(. 10.23-28)
HEARER ...
.
(. 10.28-. 11.27)

Matthew 13:47-50
VERSE
.
(. 11.28-29)
TEACHING3 From "", (. 11.30-. 12.7)
TEACHING* From " ".
(. 12.7-. 13.26)
TEACHING From "", (. 13.27-. 14.20)

Origen's treatment of the term does not result in a spiritual teaching, but discusses the
limits of the interpretation of similes. Thus it belongs to the level of the spiritual sense.
The section p. 12.22-26 contains an address to the hearer. It appears here as a part of Origen's
argument for free will rather than as the application of the spiritual teaching to the hearer which
normally occurs at the end of the section in which the teaching is developed.

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Appendix G 171

TEACHING From "oi ".


(p. 14.21-p. 15.12)
QUESTION ... ;
(. 15.14-16)
TEACHING ... , (. 15.13-21)
TEACHING From " ", (. 15.21-26)
HEARER ... .
(. 15.26-30)
TEACHING5 From " ".
(. 15.30-. 16.10)

Matthew 13:51-52
VERSE ; . (. 16.11)
TEACHING From " ". (. 16.12-22)
QUESTION ... ;
(. 16.27-30)
TEACHING ... .
(. 16.22-. 17.5)
TEACHING From " ".
(. 17.5-20)
TEACHING From " ", (. 17.20-. 18.3)
TEACHING From "", (. 18.3-23)
HEARER ... .
(. 18.24-. 19.12)
TEACHING From " ", (. 19.12-24)
TEACHING From " ". (. 19.24-. 20.3)
HEARER ... . (. 20.4-8)

Matthew 13:53-56
VERSE
, ,
. (. 20.9-11)
QUESTION ... .
(. 20.18-19)
TEACHING* ... .
(. 20.12-30)
TEACHING From " ", (. 20.30-. 21.11)
TEACHING From " ". (. 21.11-15)
TEACHING From " ;", (. 21.16-22)

5
Origen returns to the point he was making in his discussion of and shows the
consequences for the spiritual interpretation of the simile.
6
The question Origen deals with here, unlike other questions, does not lead to a spiritual teaching.

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172 Appendices

TEACHING From " ". (p. 21.22-p. 22.3)


TEACHING From " ", (. 22.4-18)
TEACHING From " ". (. 22.18-30)

Matthew 13:57
VERSE
. (. 23.1-2)
TEACHING From " ".
(. 23.2-. 25.2)
HEARER ...
, (. 25.3-10)

Matthew 13:58
VERSE
. (. 25.11-12)
TEACHING From " ". (. 25.12-. 26.9)
TEACHING7 From " ". (. 26.10-28)

Matthew 14:1-2
VERSE
,
)' .
(. 26.29-31)
QUESTION ... . (. 27.5-10)
TEACHING ... .
(.26.32-.28.16)

Matthew 14:3-12
Introduction:8 (p. 28.16-25)
VERSE "
,
. (. 28.26-27)
TEACHING From " ". (. 28.27-
. 29.12)
TEACHING From " ". (. 29.13-21)

7
The teaching for this section is not taken from the verse, but from the metaphor of the sun working
together with the seeds to produce growth.
8
This introduction sets up the question that Origen wishes to answer in the exegesis of Mt. 14:3,
namely what is the relation between John and Jesus that is brought to light by Herod's opinion that
John was Jesus and his subsequent execution of John.

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Appendix G 173

TEACHING' From " ".


(p. 29.22-30)
TEACHING From "", (. 29.30-. 30.3)
TEACHING From "", (. 30.3-9)
TEACHING From " ".
(p. 30.10-16)
TEACHING From "im ". (. 30.17-20)
TEACHING From "", (. 30.21-p. 31.1)
HEARER ...
. (. 31.1-3)
TEACHING From " ". (. 31.3-8)
TEACHING From " ", (. 31.9-13)

Matthew 14:12-13
VERSE
,
, ,
.
.

,

.
(. 31.14-20)
HEARER10 ... ' .
... .
(.31.20-.32.1)
TEACHING From "", (. 32.1-12)
TEACHING From " ". (. 32.13-14)
Teaching From " ' ", (. 32.15-18)
TEACHING From " ". (. 32.18-22)
TEACHING From " ". (. 32.22-24)
TEACHING From " ", (. 32.25-. 33.1)
TEACHING From "". (. 33.1-2)
TEACHING From "". (. 33.2-4)
TEACHING From "". (. 33.4-. 34.7)

' Origen's exegesis here clarifies a point concerning the literal sense, but does not draw from it a
spiritual teaching.
10
This is not the application of the spiritual teaching to the hearer, but the application of a teaching
drawn from the literal sense ( ). Origen introduces the spiritual teaching at the end
of this section ( ).

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174 Appendices

Matthew 14:14-19
VERSE

.
,
. (. 34.8-12)
TEACHING From " ", (. 34.13-16)
HEARER ...
. (. 34.16-20)

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SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Note: Abbreviations in the notes are according to S. Schwertner, Theologische


Recdenzyklopdie, Berlin, 1977)

A. SOURCES

Origenes, Die Schrift vom Martyrium, Buch I-IVgegen Celsus, Buch V- VMgegen Celsus, die
Schrift vom Gebet, ed. P. Koetschau, GC52/3,1899.
-: Des Origenes acht Bcher gegen Celsus, trans, and annot. P. Koetschau, BKV 52/53,
1926/1927.
-: Contre Celse, ed. and trans. M. Borret, SC132/136/147/150/227,1967/1968/1969/1976.
-: Contra Celsum, trans, and annot. H. Chadwick, Cambridge, 1953.
-: Prayer, Exhortation to Martyrdom, trans, and annot. J. O'Meara, ACW19, 1954.
-: Entreuen d'Origene avec Heraclide, ed. J. Scherer, SC 67,1960.
-: Die Briefe des Sextus Julius Africanus an Aristides und Origenes, ed. W. Reichhardt, TU
34,3 1909.
-: Philocalia, ed. J. A. Robinson, Cambridge, 1893.
-: De Principiis ( ), ed. P. Koetschau, GCS22,1913.
-: Tratte des Principes, ed. and trans. H. Crouzel, 5C252,1978.
-: Traite des Principes, trans. M. Harl, Paris, 1976.
-: Vier Bcher von den Prinzipien, ed. and trans. H. Gorgemanns and H. Karpp, Darmstadt,
1976.
-: Homilien zum Hexateuch in Rufins bersetzung, erster Teil: die Homilien zu Genesis,
Exodus und Leviticus, ed. W. A. Baehrens GCS29, 1920.
-: HomeUes sur la Genese, ed. and trans. L. Doutreleau, SC7b, 1976.
-: HomeUes sur l'Exode, ed., trans, and annot. P. Portier and H. de Lubac, SC 16,1947.
-: Homilien zum Hexateuch in Runs bersetzung, zweiter Teil: die Homilien zu Numeri,
Josua undjudices, ed. W. A. Baehrens, GCS30, 1921.
-: Homees sur les Nomhres, trans. A. Mehat, SC29, 1951.
-: HomeUes surjosue, ed. and trans. A. Jaubert, SC71,1960.
-: Exegeca in Psalmos, Migne, PG 12,1862, cols. 1053-1686.
-: De Origenis Prologis in Psalterium Quaestiones xlectae, ed. W. Rietz, Jena, 1914.
-: Homilien zu Samuel I, zum Hohelied und zu den Propheten, Kommentar zum Hohelied, in
Ruftns und Hieronymus' bersetzung, ed. W. A. Baehrens, GCS33,1925.
-: Origen, The Song of Songs: Commentary and Homilies, trans. R. P. Lawson, ACW26,
1957.
-:Jeremiahomilien, Klageliederkommentar, Erklrung der Samuel- und Knigsbcher, ed.
E. Klostermann, GCS6,1901.
-: HomeUes surjeremif, ed. and trans. P. Nautin, SC 232/238,1976/1977.
-: Origenes Matthuserklrung .
Die lateinische bersetzung der Commentariorum Series I, ed. E. Klostermann and
E. Benz. GCS38, 1933 (U. Treu, 19762).
-: Origenes Matthuserklrung I.
Die griechisch erhaltenen Tomoi, ed. E. Klostermann, GCS40, 1935.

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176 Bibliography

-: Origenes Matthuserklrung , 1.
Fragmente und Indices, erste Hlfte , ed. E. Klostermann und E. Benz, GCS41/1,1941.
-: Origenes Matthuserklrung M, 2.
Fragmente und Indices, zweite HlfteUL, ed. E. Klostermann and L. Frchtel, GCS41/2,
1955.
-: Commentaire sur l'evangile selon Matthieu I, ed. and trans. R. Girod, SC162, 1970.
-: Die Homilien zu Lukas in der bersetzung des Hieronymus und die griechischen Reste der
Homilien und des Lukaskommentars, ed. M. Rauer, GCS35,1930, 19592.
-: Homees sur S. Luc, ed. and trans. F. Foumier, SC87, 1960.
-: Der Johanneskommentar, ed. E. Preuschen, GCS10, 1903.
-: Commentaire sur Saint Jean, ed. and trans. C. Blanc, 5C120/157/222,1966/1970/1975.
-: Commentaria in Epistolam B. Pauli ad Romanos, Migne, PG14, 1862, cols. 839-1292.
-: L Commentaire d'Origene surRom HI,5-V,7, ed.J. Scherer, Institutfrangais d 'archeologie
Orientale 27,1957.
-: Fragmenta in Epistolam ad Colossenses, Migne, PG 14, 1862, cols. 1297-1298.
Augustinus, Enarrationes in Psalmos, ed. E. Dekkers and J. Fraipont, CC&rXXXVni-XL,
1956.
-: Sf. Augustine on the Psalms, trans, and annot. S. Hebgin and F. Corrigan, .ACW30,1961.
Didymus, Didymos der Blinde, Psalmenkommentar, ed. M. Gronewald, Teil IV, PTA 6,
1969.
-: Psalmenkommentare aus der Katenenberlieferung I-Ett, ed. E. Mhlenberg, PTS
15/16/19,1975/1977/1978.
Eusebius, Homilia in Psalmum XXXVU, Migne, PG 30,1888, cols. 81-104.

B. SECONDARY LITTERATURE*

Aletti, J. N., 'D'une ecriture l'autre. Analyse structurale d'une passage d'Origene,
Commentaire sur Jean, livre 13-21', Recherches de Science Religieuse 61 (1973) 27-47.
Andresen, C., Logos undNomos. Die Polemik des Kelsos wider das Christentum, Arbeiten zur
Kirchengeschichte 30 (1955).
Armantage, J., 'The Best of Both Worlds: Origen's Views on Religion and Resurrection',
Origeniana, Quaderni di "Vetera Christianorum" 12 (1975) 339-347.
Balthasar, H. U. von, 'Le Mysterien d'Origene', Recherches de Science Religieuse 26 (1936)
513-562; 27 (1937)38-64.
Bardy, G., Recherches sur I'histoire du texte et des versions latines du De Princips d'Origene,
Paris, 1923.
Bienert, W., "Allegoria" und "Anagoge" bei Didymos dem Blinden von Alexandria,
Patristische Texte undStudien 13 (1972).
Bigg, C., The Christian Platonists of Alexandria, Oxford, 1886.
Boer, W. den, 'Allegory and History', Romanitas et Christianitas (1973) 15-28.
Bouyer, L., La spirituaUte du Nouveau Testament et des Peres. Histoire de la spirituaUte
chfetiennel, Paris, 1960, 19662.
Cadiou, R., Lajeunesse d'Origene, Paris, 1936.

* For complete bibliography see Crouzel, H., Bibliographie critique d'Origene, Steenbrug, 1971,
Supplement 1,1982.

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Chadwick, H., 'Rufinus and the Tura Papyrus of Origen's Commentary on Romans',
Journal of Theological Studies New Series 10 (1959) 10-42.
Crehan, J. H., 'The Analogy between Verbum Dei Incarnatum and Verbum Dei Scriptum
in the Fathers', Journal of Theological Studies 6 (1955) 87-90.
Crouzel, H., Theologie de l'Image de Dien chez Origene, Paris, 1956.
-: Origene et la "connaissance mystique", Paris, 1961.
-: 'La distinction de la "typologie" et "allegoric"', Bulletin de litterature ecclesiastique 65
(1964) 161-174.
-: Origene et le sens litteral dans ses Homelies sur 1'Hexateuque', Bulletin de litterature
ecclesiastique 70 (1969) 241-263.
Daly, R. J., 'The Hermeneutics of Origen: Existential Interpretation of the Third Century',
The Word in the World, Essays in Honor of Frederick Moriarty, ed. R. J. Clifford and
G. W. MacRae (Cambridge, 1973) 135-143.
Danielou, J., 'Traversee de la Mer Rouge et bapteme aux premiers siecles', Recherches de
Science Religieuse 33 (1946) 402-430.
-: 'Les sources bibliques de la mystique d'Origene', Revue d'Ascetique et de Mystique 23
(1947) 126-141.
-: 'L'unite des deux Testaments dans 1'oeuvre d'Origene', Revue des sciences religieuses 22
(1948) 27-56.
-: Origene, Paris, 1948.
-: Origene comme exegete de la Bible', Texte und Untersuchungen 63 (1957) 280-290
(= Studia Patristica I).
-: 'Exegese et typologie patristique', Dictionnaire de SpiritualiteTV (1960) 132-138.
Denis, J.-F., De la philosophic d'Origene, Paris, 1884.
Devreesse, R., 'Anciens commentateurs grecs de l'Octateuque et des Rois', Revue biblique
44(1935) 166-191; 45 (1936)201-220, 364-384.
-: Anciens commentateurs grecs de l'Octateuque et des Rois, Studi e Testi 201 (1959).
-: Les anciens commentaires grecs des Psaumes, Studi e Testi 264 (1970).
Dome, H., 'Zur Methodik antiker Exegese', Zeitschriftfiirdie neutestamentliche Wissenschaft
65 (1974) 121-138.
Ebeling, G., 'Geist und Buchstabe', Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart^. (19583) 1290-
1296.
Faye, E. de, Origene, s vie, son oeuvre, sapensee -, Paris, 1923, 1927, 1928.
-: Origene est-il exegete ou dogmaticien?', Revue d'histoire et de philosophic religieuse 3
(1923)97-105.
-: Esquisse de lapensee d'Origene, Paris, 1925.
Frei, H. W., The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative, New Haven, 1974.
Goffinet, E., L'utilisation d'Origene dans le Commentaire des Psaumes de Saint Hilaire de
Poitiers, Studia Hellenistica 14 (1965).
G gler, R., 'Die christologische und heilsgeschichtliche Grundlage der Bibelexegese des
Origenes', Theologische Quartalschrift 136 (1956) 1-13.
-: Zur Theologie des biblischen Wortes hei Origenes, D sseldorf, 1963.
Goltz, E. von der, Eine textkritische Arbeit des zehnten bzw. sechstenjahrhunderts, Texte und
Untersuchungen XW/4 (1899).
Grant, R. M., The Letter and the Spirit, London, 1957.
Gross, J., La divinisatian du chre en d'apres les Peres grecs, Paris, 1938.
Gruber, G., . Wesen, Stufen und Mitteilung des wahren Lebens bei Origenes, M nchner
theologische Studien 23 (1962).

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Gruber, W., Die pneumatische Exegese bei den Alexandrinern: Ein Beitrag zttrNoematik der
Heiligen Schrift, Schriften und Vortr ge im Rahmen der theologischen Fakult t in Graz
Reihe D, Heft 3/4 (1957).
Guillet, J., 'Les exegeses d'Alexandrie et d'Antioche: conflit ou malentendu?', Recherches
de Science Religieuse 34 (1947) 247-302.
Hanson, R. P. C., 'Origen's Interpretation of Scripture Exemplified from his Philocalia',
Hermanthena 63 (1944) 47-58.
-: Allegory and Event: A Study of the Sources and Significance of Origen's Interpretation of
Scripture, London, 1959.
Harl, M., Origene et la function revelatrice du Verbe Incarne, Patristica Sorbonensial (1958).
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Harnack, A. von, Der kirchengeschichtliche Ertrag der exegetischen Arbeiten des Origenes,
Erster Teil: Hexateuch und Richterbuch, Texte und Untersuchungen 42,3 (1918). Zweiter
Teil: Die beiden Testamente mit Ausschlu des Hexateuchs und des Richterhuches, Texte
und Untersuchungen 42,4 (1919).
Jaeger, W., Paideia. Die Formung des griechischen Menschen -, Leipzig, Berlin 1943,
1944,1947.
Kettler, F.-H., Der urspr ngliche Sinn der Dogmatik des Origenes, Zeitschrift f r die
neutestamentliche Wissenschaft Beiheft 31 (1966).
Klostermann, E., 'Formen der exegetischen Arbeiten des Origenes', Theologische
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Koch, H., Pronoia und Paideasis, Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 22 (1932).
L uchli, S., Origen's Conception of Symbolen3, Anglican Theological Review 33 (1951)
102-116.
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(1954) 165-197.
Lebreton, J., 'Les degres de la connaissance religieuse d'apres Origene', Recherches de
Science Religieuse 12 (1922) 265-296.
Lieske, A., Die Theologie der Logos-Mystik bei Origenes, M nsterische Beitr ge zur Theologie
22 (1938).
Linton, O., 'Interpretation of the Psalms in the Early Church', Texte und Untersuchungen
79 (1961) 143-156.
Lubac, H. de, "'Typologie'' et "Allegorisme"', Recherches de Science Religieuse 34 (1947)
180-226.
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-: Exegese Medievale. Les quatre sens d'criture, Paris 1951,1961,1964.
Macleod, C. W., 'Allegory and Mysticism in Origen and Gregory of Nyssa', Journal of
Theological Studies 22 (1971) 362-379.
Maur, H. J. auf der, Das Psalmenverst ndnis des Ambrosius von Mailand, Leiden, 1977.
Mehat, A., 'Les ordres d'enseignement chez Clement d'Alexandrie et Seneque', Texte und
Untersuchungen 64 (1957) 351-358 (= Studia Patristica 2).
Merki, H., . Von der platonischen Angleichung an Gott zur
Gott hnlichkeit bei Gregor von Nyssa, Paradosis 7 (1952).
Millburn, R. L. P., Early Christian Interpretation of History, London, 1954.
Molland, E., The Conception of Gospel in the Alexandrian Theology', Sknfter utgitt av
det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi i Oslo : Historisk-filosofisk Klasse. I Bind (1938)
85-174.
Murphy, F. X., Rufinus ofAquileia, Washington, 1945.

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Pelikan,]., The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition, Chicago, 1971.
Pepin, J., Mythe et aegorie, Paris, 1958.
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und Untersuchungen 81 (1962) 155-180 (= Studia Patristica 6).
Puech, H. G, Origene et l'exegese trinitaire du PS. 50,12-14', Aux Sources de L Tradition
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Teichtweier, G., Die Sndenlehre des Origenes, Studien zur Geschichte der katholischen
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Vogt, H., Das Kirchenverstndnis des Origenes, Kln, 1974.
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INDICES

A. ORIGEN'S WORKS

Cels. 11,6 83.123


DI,62 121 11,7 52.83.84.120.123
V,39 83 Cap. 5,6 43
Dial. 6,1 72.121
XI 78 6,3 43
43 6,6 123
43,78 IV Cap. 1,6 38
XTV 43 1,7 38
XVn 78 2,1 39
Man. 2,4 40
XLVn 122 2,7 42.124f.140.144.146
Or. 2,8 125.140.144.146
27 2,9 65
Princ. 3,9 52
IPraef. 1 38.111.117 4,10 72
3 36 Horn, in Gen.
4 36 ffl,4 1
5 36 Xffl,3 1
6 36 Ham. in Lev.
7 36 1,1 110.114
8 36 81
10 36 ,4 81
I Cap. 1,4-5 83 Vm,5 80
1,7 83f. IX,7 122
2.2 109 XVI,4 1
2.3 109 Horn, in Num.
2.6 67 1,1 53.54.145
2.7 121 U 98
2.8 67.121 1,3 43.53.98.134
3.7 71 , 52.53.96.98.99.
3.8 71.84 128
5 68 .2 43.99
6 68 IX,7 41
Cap. 3,7 83 70
5 43 , 136
6 43 70
6,3 67 , 118.120.126
7 43 XXVn.2 52.83.96.116
11.3 84 XXVn,3 84.116.123
11.4 43.109 , 83
11.5 82 .12 74.75

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182 Indices

Ham. in Jos. DC,4 43


XIV,1 78 ,13 134
ft. 36 Frag. I 125
1,1 126 Frag. 110.125
Ps. 37 Frag. , 125.137
1.1 23.24.44 Horn, in Ezech.
1.2 26.45.46.80.137 X 81
1.4 136 Comm. in Mt.
1.5 28 X,l 64.65.106.145
, 45 X,6 120
.3 34.81 X,7 65
Horn, in Cant. X,8 65.107
1.1 62.87.127 X,9 65.106
1.2 43.58.61.89 X,10 65.107.133
1.3 59.90.136 X,14 144
1.6 61 X,15 107.122
1,10 92.134 X,23 115.121
, 61 X.24 121
,4 43.90.91.121.136 Horn, in L.
,7 136 1,1-4 64
,8 136 1,4 84
,12 91 1,6
Cant m,4 136
Prologus 55.56.57.72.73.78.82. XXXK.5 78
93 Jo-
1,1 56.61 1.3 66.129
1.4 60.79.95 1.4 66.105.126.129
35.94 1.5 66.125
93.94.95.107.110.111.133 1.7 66.67.107
Horn, injer. 1.8 66
1,1 100.127.143 1.9 66
U 51.126 1,16 85.121.122
1.3 51.100.126.143 1,20 115.122
1.4 101.104 1,20-39 115
1.7 142.145 1,34 83
1.12 50.51.101.143 VI,4 117
1.13 102 VI,46 84
1,16 102.136.138 X,4 111.112.119
, 52.78 X,5 111
,3 102 135
ffl,! 51 119
IV,1 51.143 Xffl,42 109
IV,2 51 XK.23 115
IV,4 104 Frag. 63 113
IV,6 103 Comm. in Rom.
vm,9 43 IV,1 80
Di,l 114.140 Fr. in Col. 109.113

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Indices 183

B. MODERN AUTHORS

AlettiJ. N. 12 Luchli, S. 4
Bardy, G. 17,18 Lebreton,J. 43
Bienen, W. 144 Linton, O. 26
Chadwick, H. 16 Lubac, H. de 3, 6, 7 f., 23, 40,110,141
Crouzel, H. 81 f., 83, 84,110 Merki, H. 85
DanielouJ. 5,132 Mhlenberg, E. 20, 29
Denis, J.-F. 2 Naurin, P. 14,19, 20, 87,107,129
Devreesse, R. 54 Pelikan,]. 30
Drrie, H. 42f. Peri,V. 15
Faye, E. de 3,16 Simon, R. 2
Frei, H. W. l f. Spitz, H. J. 40
Ggler, R. 8,110,114,120,135,137,141,146 Teichtweier, G. 81
Gross,]. 72,76,85 Thyen, H. 27
Gruber, W. 9,11 TigchelerJ. 8,10,11,139
Hanson, R.P.C. 4, 6, 40, 74 Tng&J. 77
Harl, M. 43,146 Vlker, W. 72, 76, 81 f., 84,123
Klostermann, E. 15, 61 Wagner, M. 16f.
Koch, H. 114 Zllig, A. 40

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