Monday, May 27, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Joshua 5 and Origen's De Principiis: Book Two 7-8

Joshua 5 – When the people of the region hear that the Israelites have crossed the Jordan in such a miraculous way, “their hearts melted, and there was no longer any spirit in them” (5:1).

We learn in this chapter that all the men of military age who were circumcised before leaving Egypt have died in the desert passage.  Meanwhile the sons born in the desert have not been circumcised, so this is something that must be done now that the people are preparing to enter the Promised Land.  After this, the people celebrate yet another Passover, but the manna, which God has provided them for forty years suddenly ceases.  They dine on the produce of the land. Joshua encounters “a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand” (5:13). It is “the commander of the army of the Lord” (an angel?).  He tells Joshua (in an echo of Jacob’s encounter and Moses’ experience as well) to “remove the sandals from [his] feet, for the place where you stand is holy” (5:15).

Reflection:  There is a time in the desert and a time for coming out of the desert.  The time in the desert is the time of conversion and testing.  Then comes the time of faithful habitation of the land and the life God gives.  What is required here is not the giving up of all worldly things and reliance solely upon the Lord, but faithful adherence to what one learned in the desert.  Faithful living requires that we live hand-in-hand with our creator, but we may also enjoy the beauty and the fruits of the creation.  We may also exercise our own powers and be caretakers over the earth.  But like Adam in the garden, we must come at the conclusion of each day and walk with God, confer with him over the day find sustenance and encouragement form him for the coming day.

Origen (185-254 AD)
De Principiis (First Principles)
Book II - On Christ
7 - The concept of Christ as BOTH “image of the invisible God” and “image” of man. Paul says “He is ‘the brightness of the glory of God, and the express figure of his person.’ The only-begotten Son, therefore, is the glory of this light, proceeding inseparably from (God) Himself, as brightness does from light, and illuminating the whole of creation. For, agreeably to what we have already explained as to the manner in which He is the Way, and conducts to the Father; and in which He is the Word, interpreting the secrets of wisdom, and the mysteries of knowledge, making them known to the rational creation; and is also the Truth, and the Life, and the Resurrection—in the same way ought we to understand also the meaning of His being the brightness: for it is by its splendor that we understand and feel what light itself is.”

He presents the greatness of God in a way that is “gentle” and “soft” so that it is not overwhelming to the “weak eyes of [us] mortals”

8 - It is the Son who makes God “to be understood and acknowledged” and because of this he is called the “figure of His person or subsistence” by Paul.

Origen makes a comparison between this relation of Father and Son in the divine real with a material object. He says try to imagine a statue that is so huge it covers the face of the earth. If you wanted to give anyone an idea of what this statue really looked like you’d have to make it small so that it could be observed and comprehended by people. This is what we have in Christ – God “divesting Himself of His equality with the Father, and showing to us the way to the knowledge of Him” that is through a man who is “the express image of His person.”

“’He who sees Me, sees the Father also,’ and ‘I and the Father are one.’”

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