Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Perhaps Origen isn't so bad...

Origen makes a good point that the gold (philosophy) plundered from the Egyptians made both the ark and the golden calf. So we ought to be very careful with philosophy.

"These are they who, from their Greek studies, produce heretical notions, and set them up, like the golden calf, in Bethel, which signifies "God's house." In these words also there seems to me an indication that they have set up their own imaginations in the Scriptures, where the word of God dwells, which is called in a figure Bethel... Do you then, my son, diligently apply yourself to the reading of the sacred Scriptures. Apply yourself, I say. For we who read the things of God need much application, lest we should say or think anything too rashly about them. And applying yourself thus to the study of the things of God, with faithful prejudgments such as are well pleasing to God, knock at its locked door, and it will be opened to you by the porter, of whom Jesus says, "To him the porter opens." And applying yourself thus to the divine study, seek aright, and with unwavering trust in God, the meaning of the holy Scriptures, which so many have missed. Be not satisfied with knocking and seeking; for prayer is of all things indispensable to the knowledge of the things of God." -Origen's Letter to Gregory

It's interesting that he conflated God's house with the Scriptures, though I won't read too much into that. More than any specific phrases, I'm amazed to see once more how tied to the scriptures the fathers were. Every other sentence is a bible verse.


  1. heh. You crack me up. The way I read the fathers is similar to the way I read Scripture. In prayer, slowly, repetitive, chewing the words, begging Christ to show me his face. Recently, I started beginning this holy hour with 15 minutes of kneeling silence (it's about as long as I can take). I need the silence, but I'm always checking the time at 11 or 12 minutes. Of course when the fathers are contemplating a specific text, I also will meditate on the text itself, before and after.

  2. Hey, when Pope Innocent X read Bishop Jansen's "Augustinus" he was so furious that it was later noted that half the lines he'd crossed out were actually direct quotations from the gracious doctor himself, so I have good Papal precident for treating the holy fathers as such ;)

    I mean that in jest Fred, not polemicism. I merely contend that while your practice is pious, it is not the only way to read the fathers.

    I am truly thankful that you continue to comment and dialogue with me, I don't mean to annoy you, and I will consider reading patristic texts with more humility.

  3. It's your humility that invited me to laugh in the first place: to criticize one day and then to reverse yourself another one. And I appreciate the humor, even though irony and humor are difficult to convey online.