Several months ago, when the newly rediscovered Origen codex first came to light, I suggested that some of the homilies were impromptu lectures, possibly delivered in a school context rather than a church context.  That was mostly a guess based on the content of the homilies;  at that point I had not examined Eusebius very closely, or the work of Gregory Thaumatourgos (I still need to look at Epiphanius).  I still have plenty of primary source material to examine, but I’d like to revisit that suggestion now that I know a bit more.  I may just have made a lucky guess!

Steven Huller noted in a comment on that original post the Eusebius records that Origen only allowed tachygraphers to record his homilies near the end of his life (when he was past 60).  Here’s the passage in question:

Τότε δῆτα, οἷα καὶ εἰκὸς ἦν, πληθυούσης τῆς πίστεως πεπαρρησιασμένου τε τοῦ καθ’ ἡμᾶς παρὰ πᾶσιν λόγου, ὑπὲρ τὰ ἑξήκοντά φασιν ἔτη τὸν Ὠριγένην γενόμενον, ἅτε δὴ μεγίστην ἤδη συλλεξάμενον ἐκ τῆς μακρᾶς παρασκευῆς ἕξιν, τὰς ἐπὶ τοῦ κοινοῦ λεγομένας αὐτῶι διαλέξεις ταχυγράφοις μεταλαβεῖν ἐπιτρέψαι, οὐ πρότερόν ποτε τοῦτο γενέσθαι συγκεχωρηκότα.  ἐν τούτωι καὶ τὰ πρὸς τὸν ἐπιγεγραμμένον καθ’ ἡμῶν Κέλσου τοῦ Ἐπικουρείου Ἀληθῆ λόγον ὀκτὼ τὸν ἀριθμὸν συγγράμματα συντάττει καὶ τοὺς εἰς τὸ κατὰ Ματθαῖον εὐαγγέλιον εἴκοσι πέντε τόμους τούς τε εἰς τοὺς δώδεκα προφήτας, ἀφ’ ὧν μόνους εὕρομεν πέντε καὶ εἴκοσι. (Hist. Eccl. 6.36)

My translation, with a little help from Williamson:

“Then at that time, while the faith was growing and our message had been boldly proclaimed in the presence of all, it was fitting for Origen, who was past 60 years of age and had gained great learning due to broad study, to allow tachygraphers to record his lectures spoken in public, which he had not consented to prior.  During this same time he wrote 8 books against the work True Doctrine of Celsus the Epicurean, along with 25 books on the Gospel of Matthew and 25 on the minor prophets, from which we have only 25.”

This is a puzzling passage for scholars.  What exactly are these public lectures?  Some argue that Eusebius is referring to debates like the Dialogue with Heraclides.  The majority opinion (at least Crouzel and Nautin, two very important of the recent Origen scholars) believe that Eusebius is referring to homilies spoken in the Church.  Since Nautin dates almost all of the homilies before 245, and he simply dismisses the account as a fiction.

But instead of dismissing the account, I’d suggest that we understand a different type of public lecture.  διαλέξις was a commonly used to describe philosophical lectures, and that is what I think we have here.  Origen was in charge of a philosophical school in Caesarea, and regularly gave lectures to his students.  Eusebius mentions this only obliquely in 6.30, but we get a vivid picture from Gregory Thaumaturgus’s Panegyric of Origen.

Within this passage, Eusebius mentions that the “our λόγος had been emboldened among all” and notes that these were spoken ἐπὶ τοῦ κοινοῦ, which might mean “before the church,” but could also mean “before the public.”  Finally, he mentions Origen’s Contra Celsum, which would explicitly confirm Origen’s abiding interest in Greek philosophy.  

We know that Origen gave many philosophical lectures in his school.  Likewise, Eusebius tells us that people came from all over to hear Origen lecture while he was in Caesarea (Hist. Eccl. 6.30).  Gregory also tells us that in addition to standard Greek philosophy, Origen lectured on biblical exegesis. (Orat. Paneg. 15).  

So why would Origen allow tachygraphers to record his homilies in the Church before his school lectures?  I think it’s mostly a matter of audience and subject matter.  School lectures would deal with topics on a much more sophisticated level, and involve much more philosophical speculation.  Origen would also have to be ready to answer questions from the audience, as there was plenty of interaction between students and teacher in a philosophical school.  Church homilies, on the other hand, would be targeted at a less sophisticated audience: thus he allowed tachygraphers to record these homilies earlier.  The subject matter was also lest controversial. 

Do we have any evidence for this in his writings? I think the new codex offers evidence for both types of discourse.  Homilies like the ones on Psalm 36 were probably spoken in the Church.  They deal with largely moral matters: Rufinus in his translator’s preface says that the explication in them is entirely moral (expositio tota moralis est.)  But others were probably spoken in the school.  The four on Psalm 76 are explicitly labelled in the heading as “Ex tempore Homilies on the 76th Psalm.” [εἰς τὸν οστ´ (sc. ψαλμὸν) ἐσχεδιασμέναι ὁμιλίαι].  (folio 170v.)  Here’s the snippet from the codex:


I haven’t done an exhaustive check, but I haven’t seen any other homilies in the codex that are explicitly labeled as “impromptu.”  Likewise, I have only read through one of the four homilies, but it strikes me as a very good candidate for a school lecture.  Homily 3 on Psalm 76 begins with a question, “Of what sort are these waters that see God?”  Origen dives into a discussion on many speculative question: does the sky and earth have a soul?  Do rivers and seas have souls? How do angelic administrators work? (See here for my text and translation).

Thus, I’d suggest that Eusebius is referring to school lectures rather than church homilies in this passage.  I haven’t come across this solution in the secondary literature, but if you’ve seen this suggestion do let me know.  Furthermore, I think the new material gives us a chance to compare both types: school lecture and church homily.  I certainly look forward to hearing Perrone’s thoughts once the critical edition is published.

ἐν αὐτῷ,


As mentioned in a prior post, Gregory of Nazianzus spawned a significant scholarly tradition.  His works accumulated scholia from an early date, and several different commentaries have come down to us for several of his works.

In this post, I translate Nicetas of Serrone’s on Or. 41:15.  To my knowledge, the Greek text of commentary has not been published in its entirety.  I have transcribed the Greek text from CMB Codex Graecus 140 folio 94 and following.  This codex preserves a selection of Gregory’s homilies in their entirety, along with Nicetas’ commentary.  The images of the manuscript are freely available online.

For convenience, I copy in my translation of Gregory from the prior post.  In that post, I translate 41.15-16, but here I only deal with 15.  For my transcription of the Greek text (of both Gregory and Nicetas), see here.  Here’s the English.

Gregory of Nazianzus. Or. 41.15

[15] They were thus speaking in foreign languages, and not their own, and this was a great miracle: the message was being proclaimed by those who had not been instructed.  This was sign to the unbelievers, not to the believers, so that it might be a sign of judgment against the unbelievers, for it is written, “’in different languages and in strange lips I will speak to this people, and thus they will not hear me,’ says the Lord.”

But, “they were hearing.”  But wait here for a bit, and let us raise the question about how to divide this sentence.  The reading has an ambiguity, which arises because of punctuation.  Were they each hearing their own language, which implies that once voice was resounding through the air, but that many were heard?  Thus, as it was traveling through the air, so that I may speak more clearly, one language [1] became many.

Or, should we place a pause after “they were hearing,” and thus join “as they were speaking in their own languages” with what follows. Thus, those “who were speaking,” were speaking the languages of the audience, so that we might understand it as, “foreign languages.” [1] I much prefer this approach [2].  In the former case, the miracle would belong more to the hearers than to the speakers.  But in the latter, the miracle belongs to the speakers, who even as they were being accused of drunkenness were clearly working wonders by the Spirit through their voices.

[0] See 1 Cor 14:20ff

[1] Several times in the passage, Gregory uses φωνή to mean language.  This word generally means “sound” or “voice” but “language” is a possibility according to LSJ.  Gregory is also likely pulling from Neoplatonic discussion of φωνή.

[2] There is some doubt about this phrase.  Rufinus’ early Latin translation appears to be confused about Gregory’s preference on the matter, and it may be that his base text lacked this sentence.  We have some fairly early Syriac translations (c. 700-800) that have the line (thanks to Charles Sullivan for untangling the Syriac).

Nicatas of Serrone. Commentary on Or. 41.15

For it is written in the book of Acts about the apostles, that “they began to speak in different languages.” That is, the languages of the listeners, and not their own.  For the languages of the hearers were not native to the apostles.  This was a most marvelous occurrence, because the apostles were speaking a language that they had not learned.  Just as the divine apostle says when writing to the Corinthians, these languages were a sign, not to the believers, but to the unbelievers, so that there may be a sign of judgment for them, and that when they saw this, that did not believe, as it is written, “in foreign tongues I will speak,” and the rest.  Now where is this written? Chrysostom says that it is in Isaiah, but it is not found there, unless it was removed maliciously or was overlooked by mistake.

This is from the book of Acts, that “each one was hearing in their own language as they were speaking.”  But the Theologian2 raises a difficulty.  Presently, it is necessary to identify and resolve the ambiguity that is found there, that is, to punctuate it and solve the problem.  He has presented two resolutions, so that he may establish the second.  “Were the apostles,” he asks, “speaking one and the same language, while their voices became many as they resounded through the air? In which case, each of the hearers understood their own language.  Or, shall we punctuate after “they were hearing?”  Then, we would join “as they were speaking,” to what follows, so that the sense would be that the nations were hearing as the apostles were speaking their own languages,  that is, in languages foreign to the speakers.  This indeed fits much better, for he says that if the apostles were speaking in only one language, while the audience divided it into their own, then the miracle would belong to the audience.  But if you punctuate after “they were hearing,” then you may infer that the apostles were speaking in the languages of the audience, and that the miracle belongs to the apostles.  After all, it is clear that, even as they were being accused of drunkenness, that they themselves were speaking in the languages of the audience through the Spirit.  Everyone who heard his own language was burning in his heart, since he saw that the apostles were not only speaking to him, but also speaking the message to those of other languages.  The one who accuses them of a debauched frenzy seems not to understand the foreign languages the apostles were speaking.

As always, suggestions and corrections are welcome.

ἐν αὐτῷ,


First, I must say that I am enjoying my week in Oxford immensely.  I’ve learned a good deal from the Palaeography summer school: we’ve been able to read a goodly number of texts, in all sorts of different hands.  There have been quite interesting lectures in the evenings, and great library exhibits during the day.

While I’m here, I’ve decided to make use of the special collections access that came with my card.  Use the excellent Pinakes website, I came across Ms. Barocci 55, a codex containing a large number of homilies from John Chrysostom.  Of particular interest to me were 6 homilies on the Psalms which are not included in the Patrologia Graeca volume.  According to the catalog, the materials on the psalms dates from the 10th century, which means it’s quite early.

The psalms covered in the ms are: 41, 50 (2 homilies), 71, 92, and 100 (all LXX numbers).  I transcribed some material today from the homily on ps 100 (about a folio, front and back’s worth).  Though I’m no expert in such matters, it is consistent with what I’ve read from John’s material on the Psalms (especially his contrast between worldly songs and spiritual ones).

If proven authentic, these are important homilies!  Robert Hill recently published an English translation of Chrysostom’s material on the Psalter, and these homilies were not included (given they are not in the PG).  Likewise, Hill has an article on Antiochene interpretation of Psalm 41, which does not mention the homily contained here.

Hopefully I’ll be able to do some more work with this while I’m here, and perhaps in the future too.  The recent discovery of the Origen codex will only increase interest in our early exegetical material on the Psalms. In the meanwhile (as they say in the UK), let this serve as a humble reminder:  The PG, while vast, does not contain the entirety of the Patristic tradition!

Oh, and if someone is aware of a publication of these homilies, do let me know in the comments!

τῷ χείρι τοῦ ταπεινοῦ Ἀλεξάδρου ἁμαρτωλοῦ

Things have been quiet around recently, most of which because I’ve been moving.  My wife and I have moved from Raleigh, NC to the DC area so that I can start graduate school in a few weeks.  Moving is a dreary task, but one made much nicer by our family’s help!

In a few hours, I’ll be boarding a plane to London, en route to Oxford for the 2012 Lincoln College Greek Palaeography Summer School.  I’m quite excited to take part in the school: I know I’ll learn much!  It’ll be my first time in the UK beyond Heathrow, and right on the tails of the Olympics.

Lack of blogging has also mean a lack of work on Origen.  I’m mainly been typesetting the homily right now, but the content is in fairly good shape for a draft.  You may find the draft here.

ἐν αὐτῷ,


In this excerpt, Origen discusses thunder and its salutary effects.  As you can see, he is about to address the problem of evil, and important theme for him (especially when in debate with Gnostics). 

I’m also making good headway with creating a PDF.  I plan to rework the translations I’ve posted here (think of them as rough drafts).  I’ve already spotted several errors as I’ve gone back through, but I plan to correct them in the final PDF. 

τάχα δὲ, εἰ καὶ ἄρρητος
ἔστί τις ὠφέλεια  γινομένη ἐν τοῖς
πράγμασιν διὰ τὴν φωνὴν τῆς βροντῆς
τῶν νεφελῶν, αἰσθητὸν μὲν
οὖν ἔστιν ὅτι αἱ βρονταὶ γεννῶσι τινὰ
τοῖς ἄνθρώποις τρόφϊμα, ὥστε ὁσάκις
ἐὰν γίνωνται βρονταὶ, τάδε τινὰ
τὰ φυτὰ γίνεσθαι ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἢ
εὑρίσκεσθαι, αἰσθητὸν δὲ καὶ τὸ
πολλοὺς τῶν ἀνθρώπων εἰς εύλάβειαν
τὴν περὶ τοῦ θείου ἔρχεσθαι ἐκ τῆς
φωνῆς τῶν βροντῶν. ἆρα οὖν δαίμονες
οὐκ ἐπιστρέφονται, οὐδε κωλύονται
ποτὲ τῆς ἐνεργείας τῆς
χείρονος, διὰ τὰς ἐπ᾽αλλήλους βροντάς;
τί δὲ οἱ ἀγγέλοι τοῦ διαβόλου,
οὐχὶ κωλύονται ποτὲ ἀπὸ τῶν βροντῶν,
αὐτῆς τῆς φωνῆς τῆς κατὰ
τῶν βροντῶν ἐμποδιζούσης ταῖς
ἐνεργείαις ταῖς πονηραῖς;  οὐ πάντες
ἴσμεν οἱ ἄνθρωποι τὰ γινόμενα, οὐδὲ
τίς ὁ λόγος ἑκάστου τῶν συμβαινόντων,
ἀλλ᾽ἔστιν ἡ σοφία τοῦ θεοῦ, ἀνεξερεύνητος
καὶ ἀνεξιχνίαστος.

Perhaps then, although it is unclear what good comes from the clouds’ voice of thunder, one can perceive that thunder causes something nourishing for men.  Often, when there is thunder, some of these plants on the earth come into being, or are found.  One can also perceive that many men become reverent about the divine after hearing the voice of thunder.  So then, are the demons not turned, nor are they ever hindered from working evil on account of the thunder among them?  Why then are the angels of the devil not hindered by the thunder? Shouldn’t that very voice which comes down from thunder hinder their evil workings?  As humans, we do not understand all that happens, nor what the reason is for each thing that occurs, for there is wisdom from God which is unsearchable and untraceable.

ἐν αὐτῷ,


Here, Origen discusses rivers and clouds.  Rivers are the "streams of living waters" which flow from the believer (see John 7:38).  The Greek word ποταμός can be translated as either stream or river.  The clouds, continuing from the previous passage, represent the apostles and prophets:  they had these streams within them, which "gladdened the city of God." Origen also states that thunder is the voice of the angels who administer the clouds.

καὶ ἐπεὶ ποταμοί
τινες ἐκ κοιλίας αὐτῶν ἦσαν
ὕδατος ἐξιόντες εἰς ζωὴν αίώνιον,
ποταμοὺς ἔχοντες ἐλάλουν καὶ
εὔφραινον τὴν πόλιν τοῦ θεοῦ, "τοῦ
γὰρ ποταμοῦ τὰ ὀρμήματα, εὐφραίνουσι
τὴν πόλιν τοῦ θεοῦ." ἐπεὶ οὖν ἔφασκεν
ἐνταῦθα ὁ λόγος, "φωνὴν
ἔδωκαν αἱ νεφέλαι." οὐκ ἦν χαλεπὸν
τροπολογῆσαι. ἀκολούθως
δέ τις ζητήσει τοῖς ἀποδεδομένοις
εἰς τὸ "εἴδοσάν σε ὕδατα καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν."
καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς ἰδεῖν, μὴ
λανθάνειν τί καὶ περὶ τὰς νεφέλας.

τάχα οὖν ὥσπερ εἴσι  δυνάμεις ἐπὶ
θαλασσῶν, ἐπὶ ποταμῶν, ἐπὶ
γῆς, ἐπὶ φυτῶν, ἐπὶ ζῴων γενέσεως,
οὕτως εἰσὶ  δυνάμεις  καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν
νεφελῶν, ὡς τετάχθαι τινὰς καὶ
ἐπὶ τῶν βροντῶν, ἐπὶ τῶν ἀστραπῶν,
ἐπὶ τῶν ὑετῶν, καὶ τοῦ θεοῦ προστάσσοντος
καὶ ἐντελλομένου γίνεσθαι
ὑετοὺς ἐπὶ τήνδε τὴν πόλιν, καὶ
μὴ γενέσθαι ἐφ᾽ἑτέραν πόλιν, κατὰ
τὸ εἰρημένον ἐν τῷ προφήτῃ, ἢ
καὶ τὸ ῥητὸν, "καὶ βρέξω ἐπὶ πόλιν
μίαν. ἐπὶ δὲ πόλιν μίαν οὐ βρέξω"  (Am. 4:7)
"φωνὴν οὖν ἔδωκαν αἱ νεφέλαι." αἱ βρονταὶ,
οὐδὲν ἄλλο εἰσὶν, ἢ νεφελῶν φωναί,
ὡς τετήρηται ἐν τοῖς χειμῶσιν,
οὐδέποτε οὖν αἰθρίου ὄντος τοῦ
ἀέρος, ἤκουσέ τις βροντῆς, οὐδὲ
ἐώρακεν ἀστραπήν. "φωνὴν ἔδωκαν
αἱ νεφέλαι" οἰκονομούντων τῶν
πεπιστευμένων ταῦτα ἀγγέλων τὴν διάκρισιν.

And since streams of living water were proceeding from their hearts to eternal life (Jn. 7:37),  they would speak, as they had these streams, and would bring cheer to the city of God, "for the sudden force of the river, it makes glad the city of God."  And so the passage says here, "the clouds gave a voice."  It was not difficult to allegorize this. Following this, one will seek an account of the passage, "the waters saw you and were afraid," in order to see what follows, so that nothing may remain hidden about the clouds.

Perhaps then, just as there are powers over the seas, over the rivers, over the earth, and over the types of animals, so are there powers over the clouds. Thus, some would have places over the thunder, some over the lightning, and some over the rains.  So, by the order and command of God, rain comes upon this one city, but not upon another one, as it is said in the prophet, or at least at the literal level, "And I send rain on one city, but I will not send rain on another." (Am. 4:7) Thus, "the clouds give a voice."  Thunder, then, is nothing other than the voices of the clouds.  Because the voice is observed during storms, one has never heard thunder while the weather is clear, nor has one seen lightning.  "The clouds gave a voice."  This voice is the judgment of the administering angels who have been entrusted with these matters.

ἐν αὐτῷ,


In this excerpt, Origen considers the clouds to be symbols of the prophets and apostles, whose divine words fell upon the Earth like rain.

"φωνὴν ἔδωκαν αἱ νεφέλαι."
πάλιν ἐὰν τροπολογίαν θέλωμεν,
πολλάκις εἰρήκαμεν. καὶ
μάλιστα διὰ τὸ "ταῖς νεφέλαις ἐντελοῦμαι
τοῦ μὴ βρέξαι ὑετὸν ἐπ᾽αὐτον." (Is. 5:6)
τίνα δὲ, ἢ "τὸν ἀμπελῶνα
τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Ισραήλ." καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια
δὲ τοῦ θεοῦ, φθάνει ἕως
τῶν νεφελῶν, ἀλλ᾽εἰσὶ τινὲς δίκαιοι
ἐπαιρόμενοι ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς
σώμασι, καὶ γενόμενοι νεφέλαι. 
τοιοῦτος ἦν Μωϋσῆς λέγων, "πρόσεχε
ὁ οὐρανὲ καὶ λαλήσω, καὶ ἀκουέτω
γῆ ῥήματα ἐκ στόματός μου.
προσδοκάσθω ὡς ὑετὸς τὸ ἀπόφθεγμά μου."

εἶτα ὥσπερ ὑετοῦ σωματικοῦ
καὶ ἀψύχου, ἡ νεφέλη αὐτὴ
ἔλεγεν ἄν, "προσδοκάσθω ὡς ὑετὸς
καὶ ὁ ἐμὸς λόγος," οὕτως ἐπεὶ Μωϋσῆς
λέγεται νεφέλη ἦν, ἔλεγε, "προσδοκάσθω
ὡς ὑετὸς  τὸ ἀπόφθεγμά μου,
καὶ καταβήτω ὥς δρόσος τὰ
ῥήματά μου," καὶ ἐπεὶ νεφέλη ἦν, ἔλεγεν
"ὡσεὶ ὄμβρος ἐπ᾽ἄγρωστιν,
καὶ ὡσεὶ νιφετὸς ἐπὶ χόρτον,
ὅτι ὄνομα κυρίου ἐκάλεσα." (Dt. 32:2-3)
τοιοῦτοι ἦσαν πάντες, οἱ ἐκλεκτοὶ προφῆται,
οἱ θαυμάσιοι ἀπόστολοι.

"The clouds gave a voice." Again, if we choose allegory, will shall have much to say, and especially because of the scripture, "I will command the clouds to not rain upon it."  (Is. 5:6) Upon what?  Upon "the vineyard that is the house of Israel."  Also there is the scripture, "the truth of God reaches unto the clouds,"   but there are also some righteous men who have been lifted from the earth while in their bodies, and have become clouds.  Such was Moses, saying, "harken O heaven, and I will speak. Let the earth listen to the words from my mouth. Let my message be yearned for like rain." 

So then, if this was a cloud of normal, physical rain, he would have said, "May my word be yearned for, even as rain."  But since Moses is said to be a cloud, he said, “Let my message be yearned for as rain, and let my words fall as dew.” Likewise, since he was a cloud, he continued, “and as a rainstorm upon the greenery, and as a snowstorm upon the grass, for I have called upon the name of the Lord.”  All of the chosen prophets and the wondrous apostles were as such. 

ἐν αὐτῷ,


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