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“Origen on The Parabolic Element in Scripture Narratives - Greek Text and English translation”

De Principiis, 4. 16

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Relevant books
available at Amazon

Texts

Henry Chadwick
Contra Celsum
(Translation)

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Rowan Greer (Editor)
Exhortation to Martyrdom, Prayer (Classics of Western Spirituality)

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General Works

John A. McGuckin,
The Westminister Handbook to Origen

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Joseph W. Trigg
Origen

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E. A. D. Lauro
The Soul and Spirit of Scripture within Origen's Exegesis

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R. P. C. Hanson
Allegory and Event: A Study of the Sources and Significance of Origen's Interpretation of Scripture

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Hans Urs von Balthasar
Origen: Spirit and Fire - A Thematic Anthology of His Writings

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16. It was not only, however, with the (Scriptures composed) before the advent (of Christ) that the Spirit thus dealt; but as being the same Spirit, and (proceeding) from the one God, He did the same thing both with the evangelists and the apostles,—as even these do not contain throughout a pure history of events, which are interwoven indeed according to the letter, but which did not actually occur. Nor even do the law and the commandments wholly convey what is agreeable to reason. For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? and again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally. Cain also, when going forth from the presence of God, certainly appears to thoughtful men as likely to lead the reader to inquire what is the presence of God, and what is the meaning of going out from Him. And what need is there to say more, since those who are not altogether blind can collect countless instances of a similar kind recorded as having occurred, but which did not literally take place? Nay, the Gospels themselves are filled with the same kind of narratives; e.g., the devil leading Jesus up into a high mountain, in order to show him from thence the kingdoms of the whole world, and the glory of them. For who is there among those who do not read such accounts carelessly, that would not condemn those who think that with the eye of the body—which requires a lofty height in order that the parts lying (immediately) under and adjacent may be seen—the kingdoms of the Persians, and Scythians, and Indians, and Parthians, were beheld, and the manner in which their princes are glorified among men? And the attentive reader may notice in the Gospels innumerable other passages like these, so that he will be convinced that in the histories that are literally recorded, circumstances that did not occur are inserted.

 



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From De Principiis 4, 16
Scripture not to be interpreted literally
Parable and Scripture
Figurative understanding of Scripture
how to interpret Scripture
how to interpret the Bible
Migne Greek Text
Patrologiae Graecae Cursus Completus
Patrologia Graeca

 

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