Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Judges 6 and Origen's De Principiis: Book VII (1)

Judges 6 – When the people turn again to what is evil, the Lord gives them into the hands of the Midianites (and Amalekites—people of the east).  They would come and pilfer whatever Israel grew or raised in the way of livestock.  They were like Locusts.  This time, the prophet the Lord sent is Gideon (c.1100).  The Lord comes to him and says, “The Lord is with you, you mighty warrior” (6:12). Gideon questions God. He ways, “And where are all [God’s] wonderful deeds that our ancestors recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’” (6:13)

The Lord commissions Gideon to deliver Israel, but again Gideon wonders the usual – “But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (6:15). And then he asks God for a sign, not one sign either but several: God consumes the kid he prepares and some unleavened cakes.  Gideon builds and altar on the rock on which he offered the food.     

After this sign, Gideon is told to tear down the altar of Baal his father had built and the sacred pole beside it, and build instead and altar to the Lord; then he is to take a bull and offer it along with the wood from the pole.  Gideon does it but at night so no one will see him.  When the deed is discovered, Gideon’s father Joash takes the part of his son and tells the people of the town to let Baal fight on his own behalf.

When the Midianites and Amalekites come again to the Valley of Jezreel, the spirit of the Lord seizes Gideon and he leads his people (and also the people of all Manasseh, Zebulun and Naphtali) against them. Again he asks God for a sign and God grants two (the presence of dew on the fleece he lays down; and then the next night the absence of any dew on the same fleece).

Origen (185-254 AD)
De Principiis (First Principles)
Chapter VII – On Incorporeal and Corporeal Beings
1 – Origen admits that when he speaks as he has about “rational beings” he is using “intelligent inference [rather] than strict dogmatic definition” except when he “treated, to the best of our ability, of the persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

“All souls and all rational natures, whether holy or wicked, were formed or created, and all these, according to their proper nature, are incorporeal; but although incorporeal, they were nevertheless created, because all things were made by God through Christ, as John teaches in a general way in his Gospel.”

And Paul refers to “created things by species and numbers and orders . . . [when he says] ‘In Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and in Him: and He is before all, and He is the head.’”

He has discussed these incorporeal things. Now he wishes to turn to the more corporeal things like the sun and moon and stars. Are they too to be considered among the “principalities and powers”?

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