Friday, June 14, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Judges 10 and Origen's De Principiis: Book VIII (2)

Judges 10 Tola is the next judge God raises up, a man of the tribe of Issachar, but nothing is said of the particulars of his 23-year rule.

Then comes Jair, the Gileadite.  He ruled 22 years.  He had 30 sons who rode on 30 donkeys and they had 30 towns in Gilead.

The Israelites backslide again, and the Lord sells them “into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the Ammonites, and they crushed and oppressed the Israelites. . .” in Gilead for 18 years (10:7-8).

They also crossed the Jordan and fought against the house of Judah and Benjamin.  The Israelites confess their fault—“they put away the foreign gods from among them and worshiped the Lord; and he could no longer bear to see Israel suffer” (10:16).

Origen (185-254 AD)
De Principiis (First Principles)
Chapter VIII – On the Angels
2 – Some in Origen’s time believed that there was “a diversity of spiritual natures both among heavenly existences and human souls, and for that reason allege that they were called into being by different creators.” They thought it was irrational to assume that the One God created beings of such totally different natures – both good and evil; and Origen understands their problem, but is trying to show that the diversity of all that is in the creation, differences in moral state, differences in possession of power and responsibility are all things that flow from “merit” and “quality” that God recognizes and supports.

“[T]he cause of the diversity and variety among these beings is due to their conduct, which has been marked either with greater earnestness or indifference, according to the goodness or badness of their nature, and not to any partiality on the part of the Disposer. But that this may more easily be shown to be the case with heavenly beings, let us borrow an illustration from what either has been done or is done among men, in order that from visible things we may, by way of consequence, behold also things invisible.”

He looks at Paul and Peter and the two terrible things they did: Paul and his persecution of the earliest Christian followers of Jesus; and Peter in his denial of Christ when Christ was taken into custody. How is it possible “that these—who, according to those persons of whom we speak, were spiritual beings—should fall into sins of such a nature, especially as they are frequently in the habit of saying that a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruits?” These people [deemed heretics by Origen and others at the time] resorted to the thinking that it wasn’t REALLY Paul or Peter who did these bad things but some “other individual in him” who did them. But if this is true why would Paul say “’I am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God?’ Or why did Peter weep most bitterly, if it were another than he who sinned?”

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