« Prev The Works of Origen Next »

§ 188. The Works of Origen.


Origen was an uncommonly prolific author, but by no means an idle bookmaker. Jerome says, he wrote more than other men can read. Epiphanius, an opponent, states the number of his works as six thousand, which is perhaps not much beyond the mark, if we include all his short tracts, homilies, and letters, and count them as separate volumes. Many of them arose without his cooeperation, and sometimes against his will, from the writing down of his oral lectures by others. Of his books which remain, some have come down to us only in Latin translations, and with many alterations in favor of the later orthodoxy. They extend to all branches of the theology of that day.

1. His biblical works were the most numerous, and may be divided into critical, exegetical, and hortatory.

Among the critical were the Hexapla14701470    Τὰ ἑξαπλᾶ, also in the singular form τὸ ἑξαπλοῦν, Hexaplum (in later writers). Comp. Fritzsche in Herzog2 I. 285.470 (the Sixfold Bible) and the shorter Tetrapla (the Fourfold), on which he spent eight-and-twenty years of the most unwearied labor. The Hexapla was the first polyglott Bible, but covered only the Old Testament, and was designed not for the critical restoration of the original text, but merely for the improvement of the received Septuagint, and the defense of it against the charge of inaccuracy. It contained, in six columns, the original text in two forms, in Hebrew and in Greek characters, and the four Greek versions of the Septuagint, of Aquila, of Symmachus, and of Theodotion. To these he added, in several books two or three other anonymous Greek versions.14711471    Called Quinta (ε’), Sexta (ς’), and Septima (ζ’). This would make nine columns in all, but the name Enneapla never occurs. Octapla and Heptap!a are used occasionally, but very seldom. The following passage from Habakkuk 2:4 (quoted Rom. 1:17) is found complete in all the columns:
   Τὸ Εβραικόν

   Τὸ Ἑβραικὸν Ἑλληνικοῖςγράμμασιν

   Ἀςαλ́υκ

   Σύμμαχος

   Οἱ ̑Ο (LXX)

   θεοδοτίων

   ̑Ε

   Σ’.

   Z’.

   ךְנבספָ

   באמונתרׄ וצדּיק

   ουσαδικ βημουναθω ιειε.

   κ̀ια.ιατεσ́ηζ ̑υοτ̓υα ιετσιπ ν̓ε ςοιακ̀ιδ

   ὁ δὲ δίκαιος τῇ εαυτοῦ πίστει ζήσει.

   ὁ δὲ δίκαιος τῇ ἑαυτοῦ πίστεωςμοῦζήσεται.

   ὁ δὲ δίκαιος τῂ ἑαυτοῦ πίστει ζήσει.

   ὁ δὲ δίκαιος τῇ ἑαυτοῦ πίστει ζήσει.

   ὁ δὲ δίκαιος τῇ ἑαυτοῦ πίστει ζήσει.

   ὁ δὲ δίκαιος τῇ ἑαυτοῦ πίστει ζήσει.

   
471 The order was determined by the degree of literalness. The Tetrapla14721472    τὰ τετραπλᾶ, or τετραπλοῦν or τὸ τετρασέλιδον, or, Tetrapla, Tetraplum.472 contained only the four versions of Aquila, Symmachus, the Septuagint, and Theodotion. The departures from the standard he marked with the critical signs asterisk (*) for alterations and additions, and obelos (÷) for proposed omissions. He also added marginal notes, e.g., explanations of Hebrew names. The voluminous work was placed in the library at Caesarea, was still much used in the time of Jerome (who saw it there), but doubtless never transcribed, except certain portions, most frequently the Septuagint columns (which were copied, for instance, by Pamphilus and Eusebius, and regarded as the standard text), and was probably destroyed by the Saracens in 653. We possess, therefore, only some fragments of it, which were collected and edited by the learned Benedictine Montfaucon (1714), and more recentl;y by an equallt learned Anglican scholar, Dr. Field (1875).1473

His commentaries covered almost all the books of the Old and New Testaments, and contained a vast wealth of original and profound suggestions, with the most arbitrary allegorical and mystical fancies. They were of three kinds: (a) Short notes on single difficult passages for beginners;14731473    Σημειώσεις, σχόλια, scholia.474 all these are lost, except what has been gathered from the citations of the fathers (by Delarue under the title ἜκλογαίSelecta). (b) Extended expositions of whole books, for higher scientific study;14741474    Τόμοι, volumina, also commentarii.475 of, these we have a number of important fragments in the original, and in the translation of Rufinus. In the Commentary on John the Gnostic exegeses of Heracleon is much used. (c) Hortatory or practical applications of Scripture for the congregation or Homilies.14751475    Ὁμιλίαι.476 They were delivered extemporaneously, mostly in Caesarea and in the latter part of his life, and taken down by stenographers. They are important also to the history of pulpit oratory. But we have them only in part, as translated by Jerome and Rufinus, with many unscrupulous retrenchments and additions, which perplex and are apt to mislead investigators.

2. Apologetic and polemic works. The refutation of Celsus’s attack upon Christianity, in eight books, written in the last years of his life, about 248, is preserved complete in the original, and is one of the ripest and most valuable productions of Origen, and of the whole ancient apologetic literature.14761476    Comp. § 32, p. 89 sqq. A special ed. by W. Selwyn: Origenis Contra Celsum libri I-IV. Lond. 1877. English version by Crombie, 1868. The work of Celsus restored from Origen by Keim, Celsus’ Wahres Wort, Zürich 1873.477 And yet he did not know who this Celsus was, whether he lived in the reign of Nero or that of Hadrian, while modern scholars assign him to the period a.d. 150 to 178. His numerous polemic writings against heretics are all gone.

3. Of his dogmatic writings we have, though only in the inaccurate Latin translation of Rufinus, his juvenile production, De Principiis, i.e. on the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith, in four books.14771477    Περὶ ἀρχῶν. The version of Rufinus with some fragments of a more exact rival version in Delarue I. 42-195. A special ed. by Redepenning, Origenes de Princip., Lips. 1836. Comp. also K. F. Schnitzer, Orig. über die Grundlehren des Christenthums, ein Wiederherstellungsversuch, Stuttgart 1836. Rufinus himself confesses that he altered or omitted several pages, pretending that it had been more corrupted by heretics than any other work of Origen. Tillemont well remarks that Rufinus might have spared himself the trouble of alteration, as we care much less about his views than those of the original.478 It was written in Alexandria, and became the chief source of objections to his theology. It was the first attempt at a complete system of dogmatics, but full of his peculiar Platonizing and Gnosticizing errors, some of which he retracted in his riper years. In this work Origen treats in four books, first, of God, of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit; in the second book, of creation and the incarnation, the resurrection and the judgment; in the third, of freedom, which he very strongly sets forth and defends against the Gnostics; in the fourth, of the Holy Scriptures, their inspiration and authority, and the interpretation of them; concluding with a recapitulation of the doctrine of the trinity. His Stromata, in imitation of the work of the same name by Clemens Alex., seems to have been doctrinal and exegetical, and is lost with the exception of two or three fragments quoted in Latin by Jerome. His work on the Resurrection is likewise lost.

4. Among his practical works may be mentioned a treatise on prayer, with an exposition of the Lord’s Prayer,14781478    Περὶ εὐχῆς De Oratione. Delarue, I. 195-272. Separate ed. Oxf. 1635, with a Latin version. Origen omits (as do Tertullian and Cyprian) the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer, not finding it in his MSS. This is one of the strongest negative proofs of its being a later interpolation from liturgical usage.479 and an exhortation to martyrdom,14791479    Εἰς μαρτύπιον προτρεπτικός λόγος or Περὶ μαρτυρίου, De Martyrio. First published by Wetstein, Basel, 1574; in Delarue, I. 273-310, with Latin version and notes.480 written during the persecution of Maximin (235–238), and addressed to his friend and patron Ambrosius.

5. Of his letters, of which Eusebius collected over eight hundred, we have, besides a few fragments, only all answer to Julius Africanus on the authenticity of the history of Susanna.

Among the works of Origen is also usually inserted the Philocalia, or a collection, in twenty-seven chapters, of extracts from his writings on various exegetical questions, made by Gregory Nazianzen and Basil the Great.14801480    First published in Latin by Genebrardus, Paris 1574, and in Greek and Latin by Delarue, who, however, omits those extracts, which are elsewhere given in their appropriate places.481



« Prev The Works of Origen Next »





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |