Origen on the Word

From Origen: Spirit and Fire: A Thematic Anthology of His Writings
by Hans Urs von Balthasar. Chosen texts for Patrology Class. Each
section contains a summary and introduction from HUVB. I've included
both notes.

Word with God

  1. The Word of Revelation:
    1. HUVB – The Logos is the image of the Father from all eternity, the Father’s intra-divine and, as such, not yet outward revelation. But because he is the Father’s eternal revelation, he is also the one in whom the Father, to reveal himself, creates the world. The richness of the primal idea can not be exhausted: the designation WORD (Logos) is only one among many.
    2. O – For everything which is of God is Christ; he himself is the Wisdom of God… Christ is creator (demiurge) as “beginning” inasmuch as he is wisdom, for it is because of his wisdom that he is called beginning… Wisdom is WORD because it is the interpreter of the secrets of the mind.
  2. The Knowledge of God
    1. HUVB – The doctrine of the knowledge of God is the subjective complement to the doctrine of the objective revelation of the WORD in reation. The Logos is “logos spermatikos” – sown across the length & breadth of the world.
    2. O – God chose the uneducated simple Christians to shame the educated knowledgeable philosophers in discovering the true knowledge of God.

Word as Scripture

  1. The Scripture as Body
    1. HUVB – For Origen, Scripture stands essentially higher tahn the whole bodily world as the personal manifestation of God’s WORD in the world, since the Logos is essentially WORD. The “incarnation” of the WORD in the body of Scripture is both more universal and more immaterial than in the fleshly body of Jesus Christ.
    2. O – Scripture is the one perfect body of the WORD.
  2. The Word which comes
    1. HUVB – In the totality of scripture takes place the one arrival into the world of the WORD of God.
    2. O –
  3. Mystery
    1. HUVB – Scripture, as the bodily expression of the divine, is the vessel of super-terrestrial mysteries. Scripture becomes all the more mysterious the more one penetrates it.
    2. O – Jesus, as the WORD of God, prepares medicine for his patients not from the juices of herbs but from the mysteries (sacramentis) of words… The more we read on, the higher rises the mountain of mysteries.
  4. Image Upwardly Open
    1. HUVB – Scripture is mystery b/c it is, like every bodily thing, image which signifies beyond itself; except that here, the “body” consists of earthly histories, laws and sayings, but the “spirit” is the personal WORD of God Himself. Faith and prayer are the only two ways our understanding of Scripture can grow.
    2. O – Knowledge of scriptures is the art of arts and the science of sciences. One must understand the divine scripture intellectually and spiritually. What is most necessary for understanding the things of God is prayer.
  5. From Word-Scripture to Word-Spirit
    1. HUVB – The right direction for understanding the scriptures thus goes from multiplicity of images to the unity of the inner event. The inner reality of scripture is understood only by the Spirit or by those who share in the Spirit. Spirit unity of scripture is Christ, as its personal summation.
    2. O – “Perhaps this refuse (Phil 3:8) is the dung put down under the fig tree by the vinedresser (cf. Lk 13:7-9) which is the cause of its bearing fruit.” We break the few loaves: we take from the divine scriptures a few words, and how many thousand people are filled!
  6. On Interpreting the Scripture
    1. HUVB – Scripture is to be interpreted according to its spiritual unity of meaning.
    2. O – there is a threefold mode of understanding in the holy scripture: a historical, a moral and a mystical. We understand from this that there is in scriputre a body, a soul and a spirit. Example “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” –> Abraham = moral (obedience). Isaac = historical (he dug wells and searched into the depth of things). Jacob = mystical (contemplated divine things – Jacob’s ladder). Scripture = body (visible letter), soul (meaning found within it), spirit (heavenly in it).
    3. O – “The Gospels are the first fruits of all the scriptures, but that John is the first fruits of the Gospels. No one can grasp its meaning who has not lain on Jesus’s breast and [like John] also received Mary from Jesus as one’s own mother”.
  7. Water and Wine
    1. HUVB – The Old Covenant is a constantly increasing theophany which, however, comes to its full life only in Jesus. Jesus changes the water of the Old Covenant into wine, yes, into his blood, to such an extent that the letter is now completely superseded and become impossible.
    2. O – “For truly, before Jesus, the scripture was water, but after Jesus it has become wine for us.”

Word as Flesh

  1. Christ
    1. Old Covenant and New Covenant
      1. Demolition of What was Preliminary
        1. HUVB – All the embodiment of the WORD in scripture is only preparation for his incarnation in the flesh.
        2. O –
      2. The Definitive in What was Preliminary
        1. HUVB – But in the very demolition, the eternal form of the law comes to the fore.
        2. O – The law and the prophets and the gospels always come together as one and stay together in one glory –> Moses & Elijah appeared with Jesus when he was transfigured in glory (Mk 9).
        3. O – There never was a time when the spiritual order of salvation according to Jesus was not available to the saints (to Abraham, Moses, etc).
    2. The Life of Jesus as Parable
      1. Incarnation
        1. HUVB – Eternally impenetrable mystery of the incarnation. Incarnation is above all the becoming visible and presentation of God’s “suffering” in the body. The victory of wisdom is the victory over wisdom. Only in this kenosis does Christ fulfill and redeem the world by continuing his redemption in his members.
        2. O – We must contemplate with reverential awe for the truth of each  nature to reside in one being.
        3. O – God the Father suffers in some way. He suffers something of love.
        4. O – Jesus emptied Himself to show us the “fullness of the deity” (Col 2:9).
        5. O – Christ’s greatest victory = to have conquered and put to shame the wise through the foolish, that is, through the simple.
      2. Childhood
        1. HUVB – Body of the God-man who fulfills the law is a symbol.
        2. O – Jesus increased in wisdom… acquiring knowledge of the smaller things, like “baby talk”for Him.
        3. O – More of a scandal that Jesus was born than that he died.
        4. O – Mary most pure in chastity among all women.
        5. O – Infants are baptized because the stain of birth is removed by baptism.
      3. Humility
        1. HUVB – Humility is the decisive characteristic of the teaching of Christ; in this Christ is our model, and the highest revelation of the love of God.
        2. O –
      4. Suffering
        1. HUVB – The cross is the definitive form of salvation. God, man and devil hand over Christ to suffer.
        2. O – Jesus is still handed over to sinners today when they who appear to believe in Jesus hold him in their hands (Holy Communion).
        3. O – Jesus said “let this cup pass from me” b/c he asked if it was possible for all the good things to be accomplished without the Jews coming to ruin through his passion.
        4. O – Double meaning of crucifixion. The world to us and we to the world. The good Christ and the evil devil hung on this tree too (tree of life + “tree of knowledge of good and evil – Gen 2:9).
    3. The Eternal Christ
      1. Consumption of the Earthly
        1. HUVB – Just as the old covenant was superseded in the new, so too was the bodily life of Jesus brought by the consuming fire of death to its eternal spiritual life.
        2. O – Christ is both the offering and the priest (the ram and Isaac example).
      2. Mystery of the Transitus 
        1. HUVB – Christ becoming spirit is the origin and enabling power of our becoming spirit.
        2. O – Had he not become man, no benefit would have come to us from the WORD.
      3. Body and Super-Body
        1. HUVB – Earthly body = sinful body b/c it’s the expression of the sins of the soul. Christ has this same sinful body on whose reality salvation depends. New spiritual body which is substantially imperishable only by participation in the spirit.
        2. O – Power in grain of wheat that dies to give life comparable to form in body of man that dies to give new life (paraphrase of O’s thought).
      4. Human Being and Super-Human Being
        1. HUVB – Christ has already prefigured the change from the human being into the super-human being. The super-human being is someone whose body and soul have been “superseded” in the Spirit.
        2. O – The saints whom God foreknew and predetermined and justified and glorified, they are themselves law and not under the law.
      5. Universal Salvation
        1. HUVB – Christ is not only the Saviour of the whole human race, He has also become incarnate on all levels of being. According to Origen, Christ offered himself up for angels by his spiritual offering.
        2. O – Just as Christ was found to be of human form among humans, I believe he will be found to be of angelic forms among angels. Jesus became a human being to the humans and an angel to the angels.

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