Origen on holy scripture

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Origin of Alexandria - Bio and focus on letter to Gregory Thaumaturgus

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Origen on holy scripture

  1. 1. OUR TEACHER ORIGEN ON HOLY SCRIPTURE (AD 185 – 254) Servants Preparatory March ‗14
  2. 2. His Early Years  Origen was perhaps the first modern Bible scholar, as well as a preacher and philosopher, who, like Tertullian, was later condemned as a heretic.  He was a native Egyptian.2  He was taught by his father, but the latter was martyred when Origen was young.  He was strongly influenced by St. Clement of Alexandria, a Platonian philosopher and Christian who had founded the catechetical school of Alexandria.  He was also influenced by the preaching of Hippolytus of Rome.
  3. 3. His Early Zeal  When his father was killed, he wanted to be killed also, so his mother stole all his clothes so that he would be too embarrassed to go outside.  His mother and six siblings had their possessions confiscated, so he went to live with a rich Christian woman for a few years, where he continued to study.  He reinstituted St. Clement‘s Catechetical School of Alexandria at the age of eighteen!  Origen was a strong ascetic. He even castrated himself so as to be able to teach women without being tempted to sin  In his writings he argues against such literal interpretations of Scripture.
  4. 4. His Writings  Epiphanius claimed that Origen wrote in Greek about 6,000 works (but ―works‖ may have meant chapters or volumes) on many different topics, but most of them have been lost (See below).  Some of his most well known books are:  Hexapla — a compilation of six translations of the Old Testament side by side  Stromateis — brief summaries of the meanings of difficult passages in Scripture  On First Principles — a book of philosophy that presented Christianity as a complete philosophy  On Prayer  On Martyrdom  Against Celsus — written against those philosophers who argued against Christianity
  5. 5. His Writings  He wrote huge multi-volume commentaries on most of the books of the Bible.  Origen was a scholar of Hebrew. As a translator, he was very conscious about the differences in both Old Testament and New Testament manuscripts and often made note of such variants.  He considered the Septuagint to be more authoritative than the Masoretic Text.
  6. 6. His Teachings  He held 1 Clement and The Shepherd of Hermas to be canonical.  He tended to interpret Scripture allegorically, not literally.  He went out of his way to refute Gnosticism in his writings.  He supported every statement of philosophy or theology in his works with Scripture.  He argued that Paul wrote the letter of Hebrews  He often wrote about the free will of humans and the supreme goodness of God.
  7. 7. His Heresies  He believed in the preexistence of souls, ultimate universal salvation/redemption, and possibly a hierarchical view of the Trinity. In 553, the Church ordered the destruction or modification of some of Origen‘s writings, because it was determined that his views on these things were heretical.  He believed in a cyclical history, that there was a universe before this one.  He believed that the sun, moon, and stars, are conscious beings.
  8. 8. His Latter Life  Upon visiting Rome during the headship of Bishop Zephyrinus, he, like Hippolytus, was disgusted by the moral compromise in the Church that he found there.  He became close friends with a rich man named Ambrose, whom he converted from Gnosticism, and he dedicated all of his later books to him, because the latter funded the publication of the books.  For a few years, Origen lived in Caesarea, where he preached and taught from the Scripture there.  On a second visit there, he was ordained as an elder.  This — and his past preaching there without permission — angered the bishop of Alexandria, who called a meeting of bishops and elders.  They banished Origen from Alexandria and declared his eldership to be void.  Those in Alexandria and Rome accepted this judgment, while all the other churches in the world seem to have ignored it.  Origen‘s character continued to be attacked for many years.
  9. 9. His Death  He continued to be sent on missions against heresies by the Church, despite the rumors against him.  .Origen died after being severely tortured in ~254 during the persecution started by Emperor Decius, who blamed the Christians refusal to worship him as the cause of the Antonine Plague.
  10. 10. On The Holy Scriptures: Letter to Gregory  Origen lived in the Bible. He states that the whole Scriptures "breathe the Spirit of fullness, and there is nothing, whether in the Law or in the Prophets, in the Evangelists or in the Apostles, which does not descend from the fullness of the Divine Majesty. Even at the present time the words of fullness speak in the Holy Scriptures to those who have eyes to see the mysteries of heaven, and ears to hear the voice of God."
  11. 11. On The Holy Scriptures: Letter to Gregory  Learning is useful, Origen tells his pupil Gregory, but the holy Scriptures are their own best key.  Be diligent in reading the divine Scriptures, yes, be diligent...  Knock, and the doorkeeper will open unto you...  And be not content to knock and to inquire, for the most necessary aid to spiritual truth is prayer.  Hence our Savior said not only "Knock, and it shall be opened," and "Seek, and you shall find," but "Ask, and it shall be given you.  Each of us who serves the word of God digs wells and seeks living waters, from which he may renew his hearers.
  12. 12. On The Holy Scriptures: Letter to Gregory  According to Origen, knowledge of the holy Scriptures is the royal road to the knowledge of God.  Although he sometimes speaks as a philosopher to philosophers, using their own language, especially in his work "De Principiis," he asserts the importance of the holy Scriptures.  Now in our investigation of these important matters we do not rest satisfied with common opinions and the evidence of things seen, but we use in addition, for the manifest proof of our statements, testimonies drawn from the Scriptures, which we believe to be divine, both from what is called the Old Testament and also from the New, endeavoring to confirm our faith by reason.
  13. 13. On The Holy Scriptures: Letter to Gregory  We can say, that he believes that through the divine Scriptures our human knowledge is sanctified and becomes true wisdom.  Therefore, he states that knowledge must become wisdom, and human knowledge grasps the principles only because divine perception has conjoined it.  It is therefore divine perception as articulated through Scriptures that determines the character of philosophical thinking.
  14. 14. On The Holy Scriptures: Letter to Gregory Allegory of the Exodus  ―…They are directed to beg from their neighbours and from those dwelling in their tents vessels of silver and of gold, and raiment; thus they are to spoil the Egyptians, and to obtain materials for making the things they are told to provide in connection with the worship of God.  For out of the things of which the children of Israel spoiled the Egyptians the furniture of the Holy of Holies was made, the ark with its cover, and the cherubim and the mercy-seat and the gold jar in which the manna, that bread of angels, was stored.  These probably were made from the finest of the gold of the Egyptians, and from a second quality, perhaps, the solid golden candlestick which stood near the inner veil, and the lamps on it, and the golden table on which stood the showbread, and between these two the golden altar of incense…‖

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