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The Philocalia Of Origen -Origen

Of the solecisms and poor style of Scripture. From Volume IV. of the Commentaries on the Gospel according to John, three or four pages from the beginning

1. A reader who carefully distinguishes language, meaning, and things, on which the meaning is based, will not stumble at solecistic expressions, if, on examination, he finds that the things are none the worse for the language in which they are clothed, particularly as the holy writers confess that their speech was not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

Then, after speaking of the solecisms of the Gospel, he goes on to say:—

2. Inasmuch as the Apostles were not unconscious of their errors, nor unaware what the things were which concerned them, they say they are rude in speech, but not in knowledge; for we must believe that the other Apostles, as well as Paul, would have said so. Then there is the passage, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not from ourselves”; which we interpret of the treasure elsewhere described as the treasure of knowledge and hidden wisdom, and we take the “earthen vessels” in the sense of the ordinary, and, in Greek estimation, contemptible diction of the Scriptures, wherein the exceeding greatness of the power of God is really seen. For the mysteries of the truth and the force of what was said, in spite of the ordinary language, were strong enough to reach the ends of the earth, and bring into subjection to the word of Christ, not only the foolish things of the world, but sometimes also its wise ones. For we see what our calling is: not that it has no one wise after the flesh, but not many wise after the flesh. Nay more, Paul says that in proclaiming the Gospel he owes the delivery of the Word not only to Barbarians but also to the Greeks, and not only to the foolish, who more easily give their assent, but also to the wise; for he was by God made sufficient to be a minister of the new covenant, and to use the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that the assent of believers may not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. For had the Scripture been embellished with elegance of style and diction, like the masterpieces of Greek literature, one might perhaps have supposed that it was not the truth which got hold of men, but that the clear sequence of thought and the beauty of the language won the souls of the hearers, and caught them with guile.

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