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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Introducing Origen

By Frederick Crombie.

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The Original Greek New Testament

17 Pages

Page 2

The great feature of the ante-Nicene theology, even in the mistakes of the writers, is its reliance on the Holy Scripture. What wealth of Scripture they lavish in their pages! We identify the Scriptures by their aid; but, were they lost in other forms, we might almost restore them from their pages. And forever is the Church indebted to Origen for the patient and encyclopedic labour and learning which he bestowed on the Scriptures in producing his Hexapla. Would that, in his interpretations of the inspired text, he had more strictly adhered to the counsels of Leonides, who was of Bacon's opinion, that the meanings which flow naturally from the holy text are sweetest and best, even as that wine is best which is not crushed out and extorted from the grape, but which trickles of itself from the ripe and luscious cluster in all its purity and natural flavour. So Hooker remarks; and his view is commonly accepted by critics, that the interpretation of a text which departeth most from its natural rendering is commonly the worst.

It is too striking an illustration of the childlike simplicity of the primitive faithful to be passed by, in Origen's history, that anecdote of his father, Leonides, who was himself a confessor and martyr: how he used to strip the bosom of his almost inspired boy as he lay asleep, and imprint kisses on his naked breast, "the temple of the Holy Ghost." That blessed Spirit, he believed, was near to his own lips when he thus saluted a Christian child, "for of such is the kingdom of heaven." From a child, this other Timothy "knew the Scriptures" indeed. His own doting father imbued him with the literature of the Greeks, but, far better, he taught him to love the lively oracles of the Lord of glory; and in these he became so proficient, even from tender years, that he puzzled his parent with his "understanding and answers," like the holy Child of Nazareth when He heard the doctors in the Temple, and also "asked them questions." In will he was also a martyr from his youth, and to the genuine spirit of martyrdom we must attribute that heroic fault of his youth which he lived to condemn in riper years, and which, evil and rash as it was, enabled the Church, once and for all, to give an authoritative interpretation to the language of the Saviour, and to guard her children thenceforth from similar exploits of pious mistake. None can doubt the purity of the motive. Few draw the important inference of the nature of the Church's conflict with that intolerable prevalence of sensuality and shameless vice which so impressed her children with the import of Christ's words, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."

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