Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Joshua 19-21 and Origen's De Principiis: Book Three 7-8

Joshua 19 – Then the lots of Simeon (within the inheritance of Judah—13 towns there including Beersheba, Hormah and Ziglag, near the Negev); Zebulun (the plain of Jezreel, west of Mt. Tabor); Issachar (the town of Jezreel up to Mt. Tabor and including the towns of Shunem and Endor); Asher (22 towns from Megiddo up the coast of the Mediterranean to north of Tyre); Naphtali (Arabah north of Mt. Tabor up to just north of the river that flows north of Tyre) and Dan—they get land west of Benjamin’s land but when they lose it, they go north and take land at the source of the Jordan River.

Joshua 20 – The cities of refuge are appointed.  In these cities, men who kill without intent or by mistake can take refuge, explain their case to the elders there and remain until “there is a trial before the congregation, [and] until the death of the one who is high priest at the time: then the slayer may return home, to the town in which the deed was done” (20:6). The cities of refuge are Kedesh (Naphtali); Shechem (Ephraim); Hebron (Judah); Bezer (Reuben); Ramoth (Gad); and Golan (Manasseh).

Joshua 21 – The Levitical towns and pasturelands are also set aside: the Kohathites (descended from Aaron) get 13 towns from the tribes of Judah, Simeon [Hebron—excepting the fields given to Caleb, Libnah, Jattir, Eshtemoa, Holon, Debir, Ain, Juttah, and Beth-shemesh], and Benjamin [Gibeon, Geba, Anathoth, and Almon]and ten towns from the tribes of Ephraim [Shechem, Gezer, Kibzaim, and Beth-horon], Dan [Elteke, Gibbethon, Aijalon, and Gath-rimmon].and the half-tribe of Manasseh [Taanach, and Gath-rimmon]; the Gershonites got 13 towns from the tribes of Issachar [Kishion, Daberath, Jarmuth, and En-gannim], Asher [Mishal, Abdon, Helkath, and Rehob], Naphtali [Kedesh, Hammoth-dor, and Kartan]and the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan [Golan, and Beeshterah]; and the Merarites get 12 towns from the tribes of Reuben [Bezer, Jahzah, Kedemoth, and Mephaath], Gad [Ramoth, Mahanaim, Heshbon, and Jazer] and Zebulun [Jokneam, Kartah, Dimnah, and Nahalal].

So they had peace. “Not one of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (21:45).
Origen (185-254 AD)
De Principiis (First Principles)
Chapter III – On the Holy Spirit
7 – But the words of Genesis, where it says “He breathed into [Adam’s] face the breath of life, and man became a living soul.’ . . . if this be understood as applying generally to all men, then all men have a share in God.”

But if we understand that reference as a reference to the Holy Spirit, because “Adam also is found to have prophesied of some things,” and prophesy is understood by Origen as emanating from the Holy Spirit, then “it may be taken [NOT] as of general application, but as confined to those who are saints.”

“In the Psalms also it is written: ‘Thou wilt renew the face of the earth;’ “ and this refers in Origen’s view to the Holy Spirit “because He will take up His dwelling, not in all men, nor in those who are flesh, but in those whose land has been renewed.”

In the New Testament, when Christ comes to the apostles after His resurrection, “when old things had . . . passed away, and all things had become new, . . . [He says] ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ This is doubtless what the Lord . . . meant to convey in the Gospel, when He said that new wine cannot be put into old bottles, but commanded that the bottles should be made new, i.e., that men should walk in newness of life, that they might receive the new wine, i.e., the newness of grace of the Holy Spirit.

And it is for the above line of reasoning that Origen thinks the words of the Gospel that set sins against the Holy Spirit in a separate category seem understandable: “[H]e who has committed a sin against the Son of Man is deserving of forgiveness; because if he who is a participator of the Word or reason of God cease to live agreeably to reason, he seems to have fallen into a state of ignorance or folly, and therefore to deserve forgiveness; whereas he who has been deemed worthy to have a portion of the Holy Spirit, and who has relapsed, is, by this very act and work, said to be guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.”

Interesting “take” on the Trinity here – understood philosophically rather than narratively:

“There is . . . a special working of God the Father, besides that by which He bestowed upon all things the gift of natural life. There is also a special ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ to those upon whom he confers by nature the gift of reason, by means of which they are enabled to be rightly what they are. There is also another grace of the Holy Spirit, which is bestowed upon the deserving, through the ministry of Christ and the working of the Father, in proportion to the merits of those who are rendered capable of receiving it. This is most clearly pointed out by the Apostle Paul, when demonstrating that the power of the Trinity is one and the same, in the words, ‘There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; there are diversities of administrations, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operation, but it is the same God who worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.’”

8 – So Origen sees the Trinity as the source of everything that brings “salvation” to mankind: “God the Father bestows upon all, existence; and participation in Christ, in respect of His being the word of reason, renders them rational beings. From which it follows that they are deserving either of praise or blame, because capable of virtue and vice. On this account, therefore, is the grace of the Holy Ghost present, that those beings which are not holy in their essence may be rendered holy by participating in it.”

And the progress one makes in the Spirit, though occasionally we slip back, can be restored through repentance.

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