Posts Tagged Origen

Like Father, Like Son—Only More So

Lindisfarne Codex (fol. 27r, Incipit to Matthew; 8th cent.; Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First Chronicles 16 reports the ark of the covenant’s placement in the tent David had prepared for it (1 Chron 16:1). The middle of the chapter is a poetic section that celebrates Yahweh’s greatness toward Israel (1 Chron 16:8–36). The first part of this section (1 Chron 16:8–22) corresponds to Ps 105:1–15, the second (1 Chron 16:23–33) to Ps 96:1–13, and the third (1 Chron 16:34–36) to Ps 106:1, 47–48.1 The Chronicler does not explicitly describe David as this hymn’s composer, although this supposition appears reasonable.2 In any event, the hymn is offered in David’s presence and at his behest (1 Chron 16:7, 37).

In part, the hymn seeks to rehearse its audience’s identity as Yahweh’s covenant people.3 Given the ark’s recent completion of its previously only partial return from Philistine captivity, drawing the people’s attention afresh to Sinai would have been entirely understandable (Exod 24:1–25:22; 1 Sam 4:3–7:2; 1 Chron 13:1–15:29). Instead, as the most explicit locus of covenantal identity, the hymn enjoins those gathered to remember Yahweh’s covenant with the patriarchs and this covenant’s accompanying promise of Canaan as an inheritance (1 Chron 16:15–22).4 Yet, both this hymn and the promise to Abraham and his seed project the worship of Yahweh much farther than Israel’s boundaries in Canaan (Gen 17:1–8; 1 Chron 16:23–34; cf. Rom 4:13). As David thus commissioned agents to hymn Yahweh’s greatness, so too has David’s Son commissioned agents through whom he even also effects among the nations the extension of Yahweh’s praise and the full actualization of the promise to Abraham (e.g., Matt 28:18–20; Acts 1:6–8; 26:15–18; Rom 15:7–13; 1 Cor 5:16–21).5


1. C. F. Keil, 1 and 2 Chronicles (trans. Andrew Harper; K&D 3; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1866), 513; cf. Origen, Ep. Afr., 15 (ANF, 4:392). On these texts’ compositional relationships, see William Doan and Terry Giles, “The Song of Asaph: A Performance-critical Analysis of 1 Chronicles 16:8–36,” CBQ 70, no. 1 (2008): 32n7; Keil, Chronicles, 513–18; R. Mark Shipp, “‘Remember His Covenant Forever’: A Study of the Chronicler’s Use of the Psalms,” ResQ 35, no. 1 (1993): 29–39. For a concise description of their substantive differences, see Doan and Giles, “The Song of Asaph,” 38.

2. Keil, Chronicles, 511, 513.

3. Doan and Giles, “The Song of Asaph,” 38.

4. Ralph W. Klein, “Psalms in Chronicles,” CurrTM 32, no. 4 (2005): 267; R. Mark Shipp, “‘Remember His Covenant Forever’: A Study of the Chronicler’s Use of the Psalms,” ResQ 35, no. 1 (1993): 35–36; cf. Eusebius, Hist. eccl., 1.4 (NPNF2, 1:87–88).

5. Origen, Cels., 6.79 (ANF, 4:610); cf. Keil, Chronicles, 513; Shipp, “Remember His Covenant Forever,” 36–37; see also Rom 3:25; Heb 9:5.

Cross-posted from New Testament Interpretation.

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Finding Faith in Samaria

John 4:4–42 records Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. Although the woman had come to the well for water (John 4:7, 15), after her conversation with Jesus, she leaves her water jar, returns to the town, and tells the people there to “come see a person who told me all the things that I have done. This one is not the Messiah, is he?” (John 4:29; δεῦτε ἴδετε ἄνθρωπον ὃς εἶπέν μοι πάντα ὅσα ἐποίησα, μήτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ χριστός;).1 Others from the town then come, presumably following the woman, to see Jesus (John 4:30, 39–40). Even before the group reaches Jesus, however, many in it have believed in him based on the woman’s report (John 4:39–40a). At the group’s request, Jesus stays with them two additional days, and upon hearing his own teaching, the group believes all the more (John 4:41–42a).2

Earlier, the woman had expressed the expectation that, when he arrived, the Messiah would teach the Samaritans (John 4:25).3 Although the woman expresses uncertainty about how far Jesus’ messiahship will seem viable to the other townsfolk, her perception of his behavior at least seems to make this claim not unreasonable for her (John 4:26, 28–29).4 Still more striking is the townsfolk’s reaction when Jesus teaches them directly: “we ourselves have heard, and we believe that this one is truly the Savior of the world” (John 4:42b; αὐτοὶ . . . ἀκηκόαμεν καὶ οἴδαμεν ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ἀληθῶς ὁ σωτὴρ τοῦ κόσμου).5 In so doing, these Samaritans recognize the particular shape in which the salvation that originates with the Jews has come,6 even when notable figures among the Jewish leadership themselves have difficulty with Jesus in this respect (cf. John 3:1–21; 4:21–24; 9:110:19).7


1. Cf. Chrysostom, Hom. Jo., 34.1 (NPNF1, 14:117).

2. See also Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2003), 627.

3. Cf. John 4:17b–18, 29a; Augustine, Serm., 51.2 (NPNF1, 6:422–23); Chrysostom, Hom. Jo., 33.2 (NPNF1, 14:115); Origen, Comm. Jo., 1.6 (ANF, 9:300).

4. Cf. BDF, §427.2; cf. NASB95 and NET, sub. loc.; Chrysostom, Hom. Jo., 33.2, 34.1 (NPNF1, 14:116, 118).

5. Cf. Ephraim Syrus, Hymns on the Nativity, 3 (NPNF2, 13:230).

6. Keener, John, 627.

7. The phrase “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23–24; ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ) may include a hendiadys (Keener, John, 615–18). Or, the two objects of the preposition “in” (ἐν) may be “separate . . . but epexegetically related” (Andreas J. Köstenberger, John [Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004], 156n50). In either case, because of the close connection that John 4:23–24 proposes between “spirit” and “truth,” “truly” (John 4:42; ἀληθῶς) in the mouths of the Samaritans may well situate them as or among the “true worshipers” (John 4:23; ἀληθινοὶ προσκυνηταί) of the Father in that “hour [that] is coming and now is” (John 4:23; ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐστιν).

Cross-posted from New Testament Interpretation.

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Messiah, Our Passover

Scenes of the Passion of Christ (Image via Wikipedia)

As יהוה was delivering Israel from Egypt, he commanded his people spread lamb’s blood on their doorposts and lintels (Exod 12:7). In view of this blood, יהוה passed over his people and judged only the Egyptians’ firstborn and their gods (Exod 12:12–13), for יהוה had provided that the Israelites should redeem their firstborn with lamb’s blood (Exod 13:15; cf. Exod 34:18–20). He delivered them mightily, he brought them through the sea, he made a covenant with them, and he settled them in Canaan (Exod 12:29Judges 1:26). Nevertheless, even those who entered the land did not fully enter יהוה’s rest (Heb 4:8–11), and year by year, they offered sacrifices for sins (Lev 16:1–34; 23:26–32; Num 29:7–11; Heb 9:6–10; 10:1–4).

Correspondingly, Jesus was a faithful son in all things ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῆς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ (Heb 5:7; in the days of his flesh; cf. Heb 3:6).1 Yet, especially in his death, ἔπρεπεν . . . αὐτῷ, διʼ ὃν τὰ πάντα καὶ διʼ οὗ τὰ πάντα, πολλοὺς υἱοὺς εἰς δόξαν ἀγαγόντα τὸν ἀρχηγὸν τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτῶν διὰ παθημάτων τελειῶσαι (Heb 2:10; it was fitting for him, because of whom are all things and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to perfect through afflictions the originator of their salvation; cf. John 19:30; 1 Cor 5:7).2 Having thus died and risen again, therefore, this Jesus has secured an eternal redemption and brings those who side with his faithfulness οὐ . . . ψηλαφωμένῳ (not to what may be touched) with dire consequences (Exod 19; Heb 12:18–21) but to a resplendent πόλις . . . ἡ μέλλουσα (Heb 13:14; city that is to come; cf. Rom 3:21–26; Eph 2:19–22; Phil 3:20–21; Heb 6:11–12; 9:11–12; 10:19–31; 12:18–29).3


1. Cf. Augustine, Faust., 19.10 (NPNF1, 4:243).

2. Athanasius, Ep., 2.7, 6.2, 7.3, 10.10, 19.1 (NPNF2, 4:512, 520, 524, 531, 544–45); Augustine, Faust., 19.10 (NPNF1, 4:243); Augustine, Tract. Ev. Jo., 55.2, 117.2, 121.3 (NPNF1, 7:299–300, 428, 436); Hippolytus, Fragments, 5 (ANF, 5:238); Tertullian, Adv. Jud., 10 (ANF, 3:167); (Pseudo-)Tertullian, Marc., 2.83–112 (ANF, 4:147); cf. Chrysostom, Hom. 1 Cor., 15.6–7 (NPNF1, 12:85–86); Origen, Comm. John, 10.11, 10.13 (ANF, 9:388–90).

3. Athanasius, Ep., 6.2, 13.7, 43 (NPNF2, 12:520, 541, 552–53); Augustine, Doctr. chr., 2.41 (NPNF1, 2:555); Augustine, Enarrat. Ps., 40.13 (NPNF1, 8:124); Augustine, Ep., 55.3.5 (NPNF1, 1:304–5); Augustine, Faust., 19.10 (NPNF1, 4:243); Chrysostom, Hom. Eph., 23 (NPNF1, 13:165–66); Hippolytus, Haer., 8.11 (ANF, 5:123); Peter of Alexandria, Fragments, 5.7 (ANF, 6:282); cf. Clement of Alexandria, Strom., 4.10 (ANF, 2:460); Leo the Great, Serm., 59.5 (NPNF2, 12:1:172); Origen, Comm. John, 10.11 (ANF, 9:388); Tertullian, Marc., 5.7 (ANF, 3:443).

Cross-posted from New Testament Interpretation.

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So Then You Also Were Made to Die

In Rom 7:1–6, Paul appears to draw on Num 5:11–31 as a metaphorical way of characterizing the Christian community’s history.1 While her husband lives, the wife’s involvement with another man would make her liable to the charge of adultery from her current husband. From this charge, the wife would also become liable to the ritual of Num 5:11–31, and the serious consequences that it would entail if she had indeed committed adultery (Num 5:21–22, 24, 27–28).2

Such would also have resembled the situation for those whom Paul addresses in Rom 7:1–6 but for one thing: they have “put[] off the old man [and] walk not in the oldness of the letter but in the newness of the spirit” (cf. Rom 6:6; 7:1, 4, 6).3 Having become unlinked from τὸ σῶμα τῆς ἁμαρτίας (Rom 6:6; the body of sin; cf. Rom 7:24), they have become united with τὸ σώμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Rom 7:4; the body of the Messiah). Because of the old person’s death,4 they do not have the fruit that comes from an accurate accusation of adultery (Rom 7:1, 5; cf. Num 5:21–222427–28).5 Rather, in union with Messiah Jesus, they have the fruit of righteousness, which is pleasing to God, and of eternal life (Rom 6:12–23; 7:5).6


1. Barrett, Romans, 127; Cranfield, Romans, 332–33; Dunn, Romans, 359–60; Moo, Romans, 411–12; Osborne, Romans, 168; Rehmann, “The Doorway into Freedom,” JSNT 79 (2000): 97.

2. Numbers 5:11–31 suggests that only the wife would undergo the ritual (Ephraim Syrus, On Our Lord, 6 [NPNF2 13:308]; cf. Jerome, Epist., 55.3 [NPNF2 6:110]). Yet, Prot. Jas. 16 (ANF 8:364–65), has Mary and Joseph both drink water from the priest’s hand. Because they both “return[] unhurt,” they are both cleared from wrongdoing in Jesus’ conception (see Prot. Jas. 15 [ANF 8:364]).

3. Jerome, Epist., 69.7 (NPNF2 6:146); cf. Augustine, Tract. Ev. Jo., 112.5 (NPNF1 7:417); see also Rehmann, “The Doorway into Freedom”; Tertullian, Marc., 5.13 (ANF 3:456–59); contra Origen, Comm. Matt., 12.4 (ANF 9:451–52).

4. Cf. Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 171–72; Thielman, Paul and the Law, 196–97; Wright, Climax of the Covenant, 196; Wright, “Letter to the Romans,” 558–59; see also Barrett, Romans, 127–28; Barth, Romans, 231–34; Bruce, Romans, 144–45; Chrysostom, Hom. Rom., 12.7.1–6 (NPNF1 11:418–20); Dunn, Romans, 363, 365, 368; Moo, Romans, 413; Rehmann, “The Doorway into Freedom,” 102. Chrysostom, Hom. Rom., 12.1–4 (NPNF1 11:418–19), suggests that, in Paul’s scenario, both the husband and the wife die (Rom 7:1–4). In Chrysostom’s reading, because the wife has also died, her resurrection to be united with her new husband leaves her so much the freer from her previous spouse’s claims on her.

5. Cf. Augustine, Faust., 11.8 (NPNF1 4:182); Augustine, Serm. Dom., 1.14 (NPNF1 6:17); Tertullian, Mon., 13 (ANF 4:70).

6. Augustine, Grat., 15 (NPNF1 5:450); Augustine, Tract. Ev. Jo., 3.9 (NPNF1 7:22).

Cross-posted from New Testament Interpretation.

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Worthy of More Glory

Moses, confronted about his Cushite wife

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In Num 12:1, Miriam and Aaron confront Moses because of his marriage to a Cushite woman, and in so doing, they attempt to claim equal prophetic status with Moses (Num 12:2a). Apparently, on this occasion, Moses’ meekness constrains him from responding (Num 12:3; cf. Rom 12:191 Clem. 17 [ANF 9:234]; Socrates, Hist. eccl., 7.42 [NPNF2 2:176]), but יהוה hears the conversation and summons all three siblings to the tent of meeting (Num 12:2b, 4). יהוה then summons Aaron and Miriam for a special rebuke (Num 12:5): however high may be their claim to apparently equal prophetic status with Moses, Moses own status still surpasses that of prophet (Num 12:6–9). The status that Aaron and Miriam claim for themselves gets them only so far—only to dreams and visions (Num 12:6). By contrast, Moses is not limited to dreams and visions, but פה אל־פה אדבר־בו ומראה ולא בחידת ותמנת יהוה יביט (Num 12:8a; with him, I [יהוה] speak mouth to mouth, plainly, and not in riddles, and he looks upon the form of יהוה). More than a prophet, Moses is a faithful servant in all יהוה’s house (Num 12:7; Heb 3:5).

So much the greater, then, is he with whom Moses the faithful servant and Elijah the prophet appear on the mountain (Matt 17:3; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30–31; cf. Irenaeus, Haer., 4.20.9–11 [ANF 1:490–91]). Yet, far from contending with this Jesus for their own status, Moses and Elijah discuss with him ἡ ἔξοδος αὐτοῦ, ἣν ἤμελλεν πληροῦν ἐν Ἰερουσαλήμ (Luke 9:31; his departure, which he was about to complete at Jerusalem; cf. Leo the Great, Serm., 51.4 [NPNF2 12:163]; Origen, Comm. Matt., 12.38 [ANF 9:470]). Not being sufficiently sensible of the situation, however, the newly awakened Peter does suggest a certain equality of status among the three glorious individuals he sees before him (Matt 17:2–4; Mark 9:2b–6; Luke 9:29–33; Leo the Great, Serm., 51.5 [NPNF2 12:163–64]). The divine response again comes in a cloud (Num 12:5; Matt 17:5a; Mark 9:7a; Luke 9:34). Nevertheless, the heavenly voice does not answer by assigning Jesus to the category of “servant,” however noble or faithful, but acknowledges him as the so much superior son (Matt 17:5b; Mark 9:7b; Luke 9:31–32, 35; cf. Hippolytus, Noet., 18 [ANF 5:230]; Jerome, Epist., 46.13 [NPNF2 6:65]; Leo the Great, Serm., 51.6 [NPNF2 12:164]; Rufinus, Symb., 4 [NPNF2 3:544]; Tertullian, Praescr., 22 [ANF 3:253]), who is himself deserving of all allegiance and honor (Matt 17:5–8; Mark 9:7–8; Luke 9:35–36; Heb 3:1–19; Augustine, Serm., 28.3–5 [NPNF1 6:347–48]; Clement of Alexandria, Paed., 1.11 [ANF 2:234]; Cyprian, Epist., 52.14 [ANF 5:362]; Leo the Great, Serm., 51.7 [NPNF2 12:164]; cf. Ambrose, Epist., 43.57 [NPNF2 10:464]; Chrysostom, Hom. Heb., 5.4 [NPNF1 14:390]; Cyril of Jerusalem, Lectures, 10.7–9 [NPNF2 7:59–60]; Hilary of Poitiers, Trin., 6.24 [NPNF2 9:106]).

Cross-posted from New Testament Interpretation.

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They Pressed Him into Service

Simon von Cyrene

Simon von Cyrene (Bamberger Kreuzweg; Image via Wikipedia)

Mark 15:21 describes Simon of Cyrene as having been “pressed into service” (ἀγγαρεύουσιν . . . Σίμωνα Κυρηναῖον) to carry Jesus’ cross, and Matt 27:32 uses the same language (ἄνθρωπον Κυρηναῖον ὀνόματι Σίμωνα . . . ἠγγάρευσαν). Only Matthew’s narrative, however, has Jesus previously instructing his disciples, saying, ὅστις σε ἀγγαρεύσει μίλιον ἕν, ὕπαγε μετʼ αὐτοῦ δύο (Matt 5:41; whoever will press you into service for one mile, go with him for two; cf. Bruce, “Synoptic Gospels,” 328; Gundry, Matthew, 94; Keener, Matthew, 199). Matthew does not identify how far Simon of Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross, but the accompanying soldiers at least press him into service not to carry his own cross, as would have been anticipated, but someone else’s (Matt 27:27–32; France, Matthew, 221–22, 1064–65; cf. Keener, Matthew, 199–200; Lightfoot, Commentary, 2:132–33; Schürer, Jewish People, 2.2.231). At this juncture, Jesus’ own disciples are not to be “found,” and in their stead is only one Cyrenean who appears only here in the synoptic tradition (Matt 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26). Although certainly not explicitly included among the audience for Jesus’ earlier instruction in Matt 5:41, Simon here serves, where others fail to do so, as a model of the kind of discipleship that Jesus has described. In this way, Simon has a share in Jesus’ cross, albeit still only to a limited extent (Allison, “Anticipating the Passion,” CBQ 56.4 [1994]: 704–5; cf. Luke 9:23; 14:27; 23:26; Rom 6:5; Phil 3:8–11; Augustine, Cons., 3.37 [NPNF1 6:196]; Origen, Comm. Matt., 12.24 [ANF 9:464]; [Pseudo-]Tertullian, Haer., 9.1 [ANF 3:650]*; Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, 95–104, 161; Keener, Matthew, 673).


* In his introduction to this volume, Cleveland Coxe argues against Tertullian’s authorship of this document. Instead, relying particularly on Jerome’s testimony, Coxe suggests that Victorinus (d. ca. AD 303) may be responsible for this text (14).

Cross-posted from New Testament Interpretation.

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