Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Little About Origen

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  -- Joshua 1:8

I have been reading Spirit & Fire, an anthology of the writings of Origen, edited by none other than Hans Urs von Balthasar. 

Let me give you a nice quote from p. 43:

For the good is one, and shameful things are many; and the truth is one, but lies are many; and true righteousness is one, but many the ways of counterfeiting it; and wisdom is one, but many are the wisdoms "of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away"; and the WORD of God is one, but many the words opposed to God.

Origen is my kind of fundamentalist. Here's what Balthasar says in his foreword:

Jesus Christ, the WORD incarnate, is central to Origen's concept of scripture -- because for him, the WORD was incarnated not only in the flesh of the historical Jesus, but also in the very words of scripture.  This is what Origen has in mind when he says that the meaning of all scripture, of the Old as well as the New Testament is Jesus Christ.

We might quibble that incarnation -- "in meat", is not quite the right word for being embodied in pulp and ink.  It's probably better for us to look behind the method of recording and recalling.  It must transcend the human language in which it is recorded as well parchment, paper, book, scroll, or electronic image.  We do not have to know Hebrew or Greek for the WORD to be alive in scripture.  What we are capturing in all these intermediate forms is the pneuma of the spoken WORD, or the WORD as God has spoken.

When the Lord told Joshua to mediate on the Law notice that it is not to "depart from [his] mouth", that is, biblical meditation involves speaking the words of scripture to ourselves.  To give voice to scripture, even in a whisper, does something very like what God did in creating man, for ... the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature (Genesis 2:7).  We are speaking God's will and the revelation of Christ.  This, too, brings something new to life. 

Hence, we see that Christians don't get overly upset and go on rampages because some poor, ignorant fool burns a Bible or desecrates it in some way.  The book is not sacred, only the WORD.


Don Johnson said...


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Aye, since God has spoken His Word and Jesus is the Word, no one can erase the Word by burning, banning or any other means.

Love that quite by Origen and your entire post, Dwaine.

mushroom said...

I think Origen might be one of us.