Saturday, June 8, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Judges 3 and Origen's De Principiis: Book VI (1-2)

Judges 3 – The nations the Lord leaves to test his people are the following: the five lords of the Philistines, the Canaanites, Sidonians,  the Hivites who lived on Mount Lebanon and the Jebusites in Jerusalem. Also the Hittites, Amorites and Perizzites.  They intermarried and worshiped the gods they worshipped—the Baals and the Asherahs.

According to the Eerdman’s guide, Canaan was Ham, son of Noah. They were the sedentary inhabitants of Palestine and southern Syria.  Hebrew is a dialect of the Canaanite language (Is 19:18), and Ugarit is related.  The Hittites were an Indo-European speaking people in Asia Minor.  They controlled much of northern Syria in the 14th and 15th c. BC.  Their empire was destroyed by northern invaders about 1200 BC.  After the destruction of their empire, some of them migrated to northern Syria where they dominated Carchemish or Cilicia.  They were the ones who lived during the monarchical period. Amorites were inhabitants of the area east of the Dead Sea.  Modern Amman is on the site of their chief city, Rabbah.  These lands were partly occupied by the tribes of Reuben and Gad.  The Ammonites were incorporated into the Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian Empires.  They were independent and a threat to the Israelites until Maccabean times when the capital was known as Philadelphia (see 1 Macc 5:6)

The first judge named here is Othniel (Eerdman’s suggests a time around 1200 for him), son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother (Caleb’s nephew). “The spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel” (3:10).  He helped defeat King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram and gave the land peace for 40 years.

Then there was Ehud (a Benjaminite and left-handed, around 1170) who helped Israel gain independence from King Eglon of Moab after 18 years of servitude. Eglon was very fat, and Ehud killed him and then led the Israelites into battle against the Moabites, giving them “rest” for 80 years.

Then there was Shamgar (1150). He killed 600 Philistine with an ox-goad (3:31).

Origen (185-254 AD)
De Principiis (First Principles)
Chapter VI – On the End or Consummation
1 – Origen defines the “end or consummation . . . an indication of the perfection and completion of things.” He reminds us that if you are not used to plumbing into difficult and challenging ideas, they may appear to be “vain and superfluous” or “if his mind be full of preconceptions and prejudices . . . he may judge these [ideas] to be heretical and opposed to the faith of the Church, yielding in so doing not so much to the convictions of reason as to the dogmatism of prejudice.” Amazing to think that “thinkers” back in the 2nd century ran into some of the same opposition when they departed from the norm in examining “spiritual” matters. He admits that we are not speaking of certainties here; we are just exploring deep notions.

As it was understood back then, the “end of the world, then, and the final consummation, will take place when every one shall be subjected to punishment for his sins; a time which God alone knows, when He will bestow on each one what he deserves. We think, indeed, that the goodness of God, through His Christ, may recall all His creatures to one end, even His enemies being conquered and subdued. Paul says, “’Christ must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.’” What does it mean though to be “put under His feet”? “I am of [the] opinion that it is this very subjection by which we also wish to be subject to Him, by which the apostles also were subject, and all the saints who have been followers of Christ. For the name ‘subjection,’ by which we are subject to Christ, indicates that the salvation which proceeds from Him belongs to His subjects, agreeably to the declaration of David, ‘Shall not my soul be subject unto God? From Him cometh my salvation.’”

2 – “Seeing, then, that such is the end, when all enemies will be subdued to Christ, when death—the last enemy—shall be destroyed, and when the kingdom what be delivered up by Christ (to whom all things are subject) to God the Father, let us, I say, from such an end as this, contemplate the beginnings of things. For the end is always like the beginning: and, therefore, as there is one end to all things, so ought we to understand that there was one beginning; and as there is one end to many things, so there spring from one beginning many differences and varieties, which again, through the goodness of God, and by subjection to Christ, and through the unity of the Holy Spirit, are recalled to one end, which is like unto the beginning.”

Only in the Trinity “does goodness exist in virtue of essential being.” Others “possess it as an accidental and perishable quality, and only then enjoy blessedness, when they participate in holiness and wisdom, and in divinity itself.” But if through laziness or thoughtlessness we turn away from this goodness, then we see “the just judgment of the providence of God, that it should happen to every one according to the diversity of his conduct.”

“Certain of those, . . . who remained in that beginning which we have described as resembling the end which is to come, obtained, in the ordering and arrangement of the world, the rank of angels; others that of influences, others of principalities, others of powers, that they may exercise power over those who need to have power upon their head Others, again, received the rank of thrones, having the office of judging or ruling those who require this; others dominion, doubtless, over slaves; all of which are conferred by Divine Providence in just and impartial judgment according to their merits, and to the progress which they had made in the participation and imitation of God.”

Those who fell from their “primal state of blessedness have not been removed irrecoverably, but have been placed under the rule of those holy and blessed orders which we have described”; they may recover themselves “and be restored to their condition of happiness.”

No comments:

Post a Comment