Biblical History part 2
Welcome to the short history of the Bible, this is part 2 and is also the conclusion. Understand this; we actually read our Bibles, through the Bible every year and it’s not just the sixty six books in the modern diluted bibles of Protestantism. But I will tell you this; putting the scriptures together to serve the church was a tremendous effort by the early church, everyone needs to understand this fact. Contrary to every notion and every false claim by modern so-called Christianity, Almighty God, the Creator of all that is seen and unseen, the Father of the Only Begotten Son Jesus the Christ and the One who has sent forth the Holy Spirit, did not write this book and hand it down from heaven, period. These books were put together by the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church that was in existence since Jesus the Christ established it. The Church did not come from the Bible as the Satan would have you to believe, the Bible came forth from this One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Sadly, much of that Church that exists today bears only a little resemblance to the ancient Church. We are not a people of the book; we are a people of God, through Jesus the Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I hope that you have read Biblical History part 1, if not then I urgently request that you read that as well and before you read this one if possible. In this issue we are going to concentrate on the work of one man; Origen. His biblical work has never been equaled. For the naysayers, we don’t believe everything that is supposedly taught by Origen, the church in all of its glory, three centuries after the death of Origen and at the urging of the Emperor Justinian I of all people, declared Origen a heretic, pretty ballsy isn’t it? Wait three hundred years after someone dies when he has no hope of defending himself, change theology enough to change understanding and then cave to the emperor to satisfy his own thirst for power and declare someone a heretic.
Let’s get started on part 2; the conclusion of our short biblical history.
This first part is from the Evangelical Periodical called Christianity Today which was started by Billy Graham. That article can be found here; Christian History: Origen now why would I reference an Evangelical magazine? Protestants today need to comprehend that there is more to Jesus the Christ than is commonly taught in their Sunday school lessons or in their Sunday worship. I can remember many years ago, over 40 years ago, an independent Baptist preacher told me that we no longer listen to Billy Graham because he was telling the people at his crusades to go to any church in their locality and it seemed as if he may be on his way to becoming Catholic.
Now I don’t know how much truth there is to his statement because I was not a follower of Billy Graham, I liked the man and I had a great respect for him as he traveled around the world presenting Jesus because in his day the Billy Graham Crusades were bringing in millions of dollars per year as well all of the other televangelists but unlike the rest of them who kept millions of dollars per year for themselves while playing games with the tax man and becoming millionaires and even billionaires, Billy Graham kept only a modest salary of $75,000.00 per year for himself, the rest went to the crusade , but I was just never a follower. This article in today’s blog is about Biblical history and no one in the course of humanity has played a greater role in the history of Holy Scripture for Christianity than did Origen, Jesus and Holy Scripture was his entire life, period.
So in my searching to find outside information on the great scholar and theologian rather than just use the church teachings and understandings that I normally used, I was in fact incredibly surprised to find this one in Christianity Today; Origen is considered by some Christian groups to be a Church Father though he does not have this status in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential Christian theologians. His teachings were especially influential in the east, with Athanasius of Alexandria and the three Cappadocian Fathers being among his most devoted followers.
People have heard me speak for years on his writings but I wanted to find some outside writings to bring forth so that today’s Christian can understand better that this Bible Alone concept just doesn’t work, simply because the Bible as we know it has gone through many changes since the beginning and the Bible came from the church not the church from the Bible. In my searching I stumbled across the article in Christianity Today which as I said is a Billy Graham magazine.
So, again, the first part of today’s blog is from Christianity Today, let’s begin;
This third century “religious fanatic” gave up his job, slept on the floor, ate no meat, drank no wine, fasted twice a week, owned no shoes, ( I am going to add my own addition to this piece from Christianity today because of the next line in the article; and in spite of the accusations and rumors regarding Origen; he did not castrate himself for the faith, proof from his own words; On First Principles IV:3,1 this link takes you to the book, you have to scroll down to chapter 3 and read the verse, I would highly recommend that you download the whole series of Origen’s On First Principles, it is highly regarded and highly used by many throughout the church; this ends my addition to this article from Christianity Today). He was also the most prolific scholar of his age (with hundreds of works to his credit), a first-rate Christian philosopher, and a profound student of the Bible.
Child prodigy Origen Adamantius (“man of steel”) was born near Alexandria about A.D. 185. The oldest of seven children in a Christian home, he grew up learning the Bible and the meaning of commitment. In 202 when his father, Leonidas, was beheaded for his Christian beliefs, Origen wanted to die as a martyr, too. But his mother prevented him from even leaving the house—by hiding his clothes.
|110||Ignatius of Antioch martyred|
|180||Irenaeus writes Against Heresies|
|303||“Great Persecution” begins under Diocletian|
Bible student and critic
Origen worked for 20 years on his Hexapla, a massive work of Old Testament analysis written to answer Jewish and Gnostic critics of Christianity. An examination of Biblical texts, it had six parallel columns: one in Hebrew, and the other five in various Greek translations, including one he found at Jericho in a jar. It became an important step in the development of the Christian canon and scriptural translation, but unfortunately it was destroyed. So massive was it that scholars doubt anyone ever copied it entirely.
This first Bible scholar analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical. As he put it, “For just as man consists of body, soul, and spirit, so in the same way does the Scripture.” Origen, in fact, preferred the allegorical not only because it allowed for more spiritual interpretations, but many passages he found impossible to read literally: “Now what man of intelligence will believe that the first and the second and the third day … existed without the sun and moon and stars?” In any event, Origen’s method of interpretation became the standard in the Middle Ages. Origen’s main work, De Principiis (On First Principles), was the first systematic exposition of Christian theology ever written. In it he created a Christian philosophy, synthesizing Greek technique and biblical assumptions. Add to these massive works his homilies and commentaries, and it’s clear why he was reputed to have kept seven secretaries busy and caused Jerome (c.354–420) to say in frustrated admiration, “Has anyone read everything that Origen wrote?”
Some contend that Origen was merely trying to frame the faith in the ideas of his day; still his works were suppressed following his condemnation, so modern judgment is impossible.
Despite such condemnation, Origen said, “I want to be a man of the church … to be called … of Christ.” His Contra Celsum, (this link takes you to book 1) in fact, is one of the finest defenses of Christianity produced in the early church. Answering the charge that Christians, by refusing military service, fail the test of good citizenship, he wrote, “We who by our prayers destroy all demons which stir up wars, violate oaths, and disturb the peace are of more help to the emperors than those who seem to be doing the fighting.”
The authorities, however, were not convinced: in 250 the emperor Decius had Origen imprisoned and tortured. He was deliberately kept alive in the hope that he would renounce his faith. But Decius died first and Origen went free. His health broken, Origen died shortly after his release.
The text of the Hexapla was organized in the form of six columns representing synchronized versions of the same Old Testament text, which placed side by side were the following:
- the Hebrew consonantal text
- the Secunda – the Hebrew text transliterated into Greek characters including vowels
- the translation of Aquila of Sinope into Greek (2nd century)
- the translation of Symmachus the Ebionite into Greek (late 2nd century)
- a recension of the Septuagint, with (1) interpolations to indicate where the Hebrew is not represented in the Septuagint (taken mainly from Theodotion‘s text and marked with asterisks), and (2) indications, using signs called obeloi (singular: obelus), of where words, phrases, or occasionally larger sections in the Septuagint do not reflect any underlying Hebrew
- the translation of Theodotion into Greek (mid 2nd century)
The purpose of compiling the Hexapla is disputed. Most likely, the book was intended for the Christian-rabbinic polemic regarding the corruption of the text of Scripture. The codex included the Hebrew text, its vowels in Greek transcription and at least four parallel Greek translations, including the Septuagint; in this respect, it is a prototype of the later polyglot. A number of sources say that for the Psalter there were two or three versions of the translation, as for some prophetic books. At the end of his life, Origen created an abbreviated version of his work – the Tetrapla, which included only four Greek translations (hence the name).
Origen’s eclectic recension of the Septuagint had a significant influence on the Old Testament text in several important manuscripts, such as the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. The original work, which is said to have had about 6000 pages (3000 parchment sheets) in 15 volumes and which probably existed in only a single complete copy, seems to have been stored in the library of the bishops of Caesarea for some centuries, but it was destroyed during the Muslim invasion of 638 at the latest.
In the 5th century the Septuagint in the edition of Origen was rewritten from the Hexapla, while the scientific apparatus of Origen in this copy was ignored. This version of the Septuagint was widely spread in Palestine. At the beginning of the 7th century, Bishop Paul of Tella translated this text into Syriac, preserving the editorial letters of Origen (the so-called Syro-Hexapla); it is one of the main sources of reconstruction of the original. Origen’s work was probably lost in the conquest of Caesarea by the Arabs in 638 (or 653). In 1896–1900, fragments of the Psalter from the Hexapla were discovered in the Cairo Geniza. Attempts to publish the text of Origen have been made since the 16th century.
At the end of his life Origen prepared a separate work called Tetrapla (a synoptic set of four Greek translations), placing the Septuagint alongside the translations of Symmachus, Aquila and Theodotion. Both Hexapla and Tetrapla are found in Greek manuscripts of the Septuagint, as well as manuscripts of the Syro-hexaplar version. However, in a number of cases, the names of “Hexapla” and “Octapla” (in the Book of Job from the manuscripts of the Syro-Hexapla and the hexaplar Psalms) are also applied to the work of Origen. This caused a discussion in its time about whether these were separate works. According to Eusebius of Caesarea, the Hexapla contained three more translations of the Greek Psalms (Quinta, Sexta and Septima), which, however, have not been preserved (for a total of 9 columns, a so-called Enneapla). The Hexapla had approximately 50 volumes and was stored in the Library of Caesarea. It has never been rewritten in its entirety. The original was probably lost with the destruction of the library in 638.
[Origen] was looking for translations that exist in addition to the Seventy and in addition to the generally used translations of Aquila, Simmachus and Theodotion. I do not know from which unknown places, where they lay long ago, he extracted them into the light of God. The owner of them remained unknown to him, and he only said that he had found a copy in Likopol, near Actium, and another – in some other place. In the Hexapla, he, along with four famous translations of the psalms, places not only the fifth, but also the sixth and seventh with notes to one: he found it under Caracalla, the son of the North, in Jericho, in an enormous clay jar (Ancient Greek – πίθος) — Hist. Eccl., VI, 16
According to Epiphanius, the original Hexapla compiled by Origen had a total of eight columns and included two other anonymous Greek translations, one of which was discovered in wine jars in Jericho during the reign of Caracalla. The so-called “fifth” and “sixth editions” were two other Greek translations supposedly discovered by students outside the towns of Jericho and Nicopolis: these were later added by Origen to his Hexapla to make the Octapla.
The subsisting fragments of partial copies have been collected in several editions, that of Frederick Field (1875) being the most fundamental on the basis of Greek and Syrian testimonies. The surviving fragments are now being re-published (with additional materials discovered since Field’s edition) by an international group of Septuagint scholars. This work is being carried out as The Hexapla Project under the auspices of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, and directed by Peter J. Gentry (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Alison G. Salvesen (Oxford University), and Bas ter Haar Romeny (Leiden University).
Friends, thank you for reading this article to the end. It is imperative to understand that Holy Scripture as we know it today was not just handed down from heaven by Almighty God and we were not told by God and for Christians we were not told by Jesus that this Bible was the only understanding that we are to have, if this were indeed the case then why do we have so many translations today? Why is this Bible constantly being rewritten if it is the One Word of God to live by? The Church that is so highly condemned today; the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is the Church that gave this Holy Scripture to us through much discussion, imprisonment, torture, and even death in order to preserve some of the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.
The Old Testament even, cannot be read simply as some literal documented history, Jesus corrected many things that were understood by the Jewish religious leaders did he not? We must stop taking things out of context to suit our personal philosophies, likes and dislikes. It doesn’t matter if you hate to kneel and bow or prostrate yourself in the worship of Almighty God; this is the worship of the Creator of ALL things seen and unseen, visible and invisible, known and unknown. We will be face down before Almighty God, in that great and terrible day, you can do all of the explaining that you are able to do before Almighty God but I can promise you that it will be nothing that you can say before Him.
Get yourself straight now; we must begin to get on track and understand that our purpose is to serve God, there is no other reason for our existence. Understand where the Holy Scriptures came from and realize that they are only a part of what it means to know God.
The rest comes from the church that was established by Jesus Christ Himself, to deny the True church is to deny Jesus the Christ. There is only One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Blessings in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.