Thursday, 5 May 2016

My Thoughts on “Origen of Alexandria: Finding the Hidden Wisdom Within the Literal Reading of the Text” by Isaac Giesbrecht (Updated on Monday 16 May AD 2016)

Of all the reading I do on the Internet, the blog posts of Isaac Giesbrecht are certainly near the top of my list when it comes to topics of interest, and even at times when I am in disagreement it is good, as then they lead to further study.

Currently I'm attempting to go through my backlog of drafts and sort through my digital sources of information for my blogs that I acquired due to Lent, training jiu-jitsu two times a day, and my Greek studies. With that said, I point all my interested readers to the blog of the aforementioned blogger, specifically this one for now:

Origen of Alexandria: Finding the Hidden Wisdom Within the Literal Reading of the Text

The reader will find my comments via that link as well, but I shall share them below--if only for my own sake:

Nice post. Origen is definitely a serious theologian, and if it were not for him we wouldn’t have many of the writings of St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Maximus the Confessor et al. who still in their own time periods were debating and attacking “Origenism” (how much of what was being argued against was actually taught by Origen I’m unsure). His allegorical take on Scripture has more to do with the Old Testament, as can be seen in Book IV where the majority of references are to the OT, and even when he uses the NT it is to show via the Apostle Paul the typology of the OT allegories; as the Anglican/Episcopalian priest Rowan A. Greer says, “…following the rules of Greek literary analysis, Origin argues that the narratives of Scripture are filled with impossibilities and incongruities. These stumbling blocks mean that the letter of the text cannot be followed and that a deeper meaning must be sought.”
With that in mind, his allegorical method of interpreting Scripture was attacked by the Orthodox heresiologist St. Epiphanius of Salamis (who himself was, ironically, an iconoclast); however, St. Epiphanius had never read Origenist writings nor been to their school(s?) so was only going off of hearsay, according to the Orthodox ecclesiastical historian Sozomen.
As to the conclusion of your post, “Origen’s allegory as the attempt to find the hidden wisdom within the literal level of the biblical text,” I totally agree, but only in regards to the New Testament.
A couple quick things:
-which translation are you reading? (this one?)
-I’m real careful with anything Catholic theologians of the ‘nouvelle theologie’ school–such as Lubac and Balthasar–bring forth, as they were the cause for the Catholic encyclical ‘Humani generis.’ What that means for us Orthodox is hard to say, but Lubac was censored by Rome for a decade.
-the translation of some of Origen’s writings that I have are done by an Anglican, and I’m guessing yours are by a Catholic, so it’s nice to know that, apparently, Fr. John Behr is working on a new translation, even though I find myself at odds with what Fr. Behr has to say about half the time (this one, and he is)

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