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The Philocalia Of Origen -Origen

That we need not attempt to correct the solecistic phrases of Scripture, and those which are unintelligible according to the letter, seeing that they contain great propriety of thought for those who can understand. From the Commentary on Hosea

1. Inasmuch as the solecisms in Scripture, if literally taken, often confuse the reader, so that he suspects the text to be neither correct, nor in accord with propriety of reason; and this to such an extent, that some persons by way of correction, even venture to make alterations and substitute another meaning for that of the seemingly inconsistent passages, I fear something similar may befall the language of the passages before us; we are therefore bound to see what their hidden meaning is. The Prophet after using the plural, “They wept and made supplication unto me,” and again the plural, showing the sequel, “In the house of On they found me,” proceeds in the singular, “And there he spoke with him.” A reader glancing at the words as they stand might suppose there was an error in the copy, and therefore write the plural in the last clause, or change the previous plurals into the singular. For when he reads, “They wept and made supplication unto me,” and “In the house of On they found me,” he would say that the next clause should be, “There he spake with them,” that is, with those who wept and made supplication and found God in the house of On. But if we consider other passages we shall see that even here we have no inconsistency.

2. In Genesis God gives a command to Adam, saying, “Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall not eat of it: for in the day that ye eat thereof ye shall surely die.” There, also, God begins by speaking in the singular, “Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat,” but goes on in the plural, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, ye shall not eat of it: for in the day that ye eat thereof, ye shall surely die.” The explanation is that when God speaks of the commandment which He wished Adam to keep and live, He commands in the singular, “Of every tree in the garden thou mayest freely eat”; for they who walk in God’s ways and hold fast His commandments, though they be many, yet by reason of their being of one mind the many are essentially one. And, therefore, when a commandment respecting goodness is given, the singular is used—“Thou mayest freely eat”; but in laying down the law respecting transgression, God no longer uses the singular, but the plural—“Ye shall not eat: for in the day that ye eat thereof, ye shall surely die.”

3. And so it is with the present passage. When they still weep and make supplication to God, the plural is used—“They wept and made supplication to me”; but when they find God, He no longer uses the plural—“There He spake, not with them,” but with him. For by finding God and by hearing His Word, they have already become one. For the individual when he sins is one of many, severed from God and divided, his unity gone; but the many who follow the commandments of God are one man; as also the Apostle testifies, saying, “For we who are many are one bread, one body”; and again, “There is one God, and one Christ, and one faith, and one baptism”; and elsewhere, “For all we are one body in Christ Jesus”; and again, “I espoused you all to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to the Lord.” And that they are well pleasing to the Lord and one, is shown in the Lord’s prayer to His Father for His disciples. “Holy Father,” He says, “grant that as I and Thou are one, so also they may be one in us.” And also, whenever the saints are said to be members of one another, the only conclusion is that they are one body. In The Shepherd, again, where we read of the building of the tower, a building composed of many stones, but seeming to be one solid block, what can the meaning of the Scripture be except the harmony and unity of the many?








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