Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Numbers 29-30 and Origen's De Principiis: Book One - 3-5

Numbers 29 - Continuing on with this reprise of the sacrificial offerings throughout the year:
·      New Years Day--a sacred assembly, no work and the trumpet shall be sounded.  The offerings shall consist of one bullock, one ram and seven lambs with cereal and libations; plus the sin offering, this all in addition to the New Moon and Daily Offerings.
·      The Day of Atonement--there shall be a sacred assembly and no work.  The people shall “mortify themselves” and offer one bullock, one ram, seven lambs etc. and one goat, the sin offering.
·      The Feast of Booths—the most popular of feasts--a sacred assembly and no work.  Then for seven days celebrate a pilgrimage feast, offering thirteen bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs and cereal offerings plus the one goat.  On the second day twelve bullocks, two rams, fourteen lambs and one goat shall be offered together with cereal and libations.  On the fourth day and each day thereafter the offerings shall be the same except that the number of bullocks shall decrease by one each day, continuing until the seventh day.  On the eighth day, there shall be a solemn meeting and one bullock, one ram, seven lambs and one goat.

Numbers 30 - Moses continues giving instructions especially with respect to vows and oaths.  The chapter emphasizes the sanctity of a man’s oath. The other focus concerns the oaths of women--while a woman is in her father’s household or married, her father or husband may by his disapproval of any vow or oath she has made, release her from it without incurring the displeasure of the Lord.  But if a woman is on her own, a widow or independent of her father’s household, she has capacity to bind herself as a man may.

Origen (185-254 AD)
De Principiis (First Principles)
Book One
3 – Many saints “participate in the Holy Spirit,” a “sanctifying power, in which all are said to have a share who have deserved to be sanctified by His grace.” Origen is a proponent of seeing faith proven by “works.”

Origen compares participation in the Holy Spirit with participation in a science, discipline or art like medicine. Those who are part of some “art” like this cannot be thought of as “a body” – it is more like a “communion” in an intellectual realm that “subsists and exists in a peculiar [unique?] manner. . .”

4 – Origen then turns to how the Gospel uses the term “Spirit.” “We find, without any doubt, that He [Jesus] spoke these words to the Samaritan woman, saying to her, who thought, agreeably to the Samaritan view, that God ought to be worshipped on Mount Gerizim, that ‘God is a Spirit.’ For the Samaritan woman, believing Him to be a Jew, was inquiring of Him whether God ought to be worshipped in Jerusalem or on this mountain; and her words were, ‘All our fathers worshipped on this mountain, and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where we ought to worship.’ To this opinion of the Samaritan woman . . . the Savior answered that he who would follow the Lord must lay aside all preference for particular places, and thus expressed Himself: ‘The hour is coming when neither in Jerusalem nor on this mountain shall the true worshippers worship the Father. God is a Spirit, and they who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.’ . . . He called God a Spirit, that He might distinguish Him from bodies; and He named Him the truth, to distinguish Him from a shadow or an image.”

5 – Having put to rest the notion that God might be conceived of as some kind of “body,” he says, “God is incomprehensible, and incapable of being measured. For whatever be the knowledge which we are able to obtain of God, either by perception or reflection, we must of necessity believe that He is by many degrees far better than what we perceive Him to be.”

It is the same as if a person’s eyes were particular sensitive to light and were not able to even look at a small spark, were then forced to look up at the sun. “So our understanding, when shut in by the fetters of flesh and blood, and rendered, on account of its participation in such material substance, duller and more obtuse, although, in comparison with our bodily nature, it is esteemed to be far superior, yet, in its efforts to examine and behold incorporeal things, scarcely holds the place of a spark or lamp. But among all intelligent, that is, incorporeal beings, what is so superior to all others—so unspeakably and incalculably superior—as God, whose nature cannot be grasped or seen by the power of any human understanding, even the purest and brightest?”

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