Re: Origen's "they"
- At 01:45 AM 11/25/00 +0000, Thomas A. Kopecek wrote:
>--- In email@example.com, Bob Schacht <r_schacht@y...> wrote:Tom, I've been wanting to follow up with you on this ever since you wrote it.
> > Tom, thanks for the Origen quote. One question about it:
> > >Origen makes a distinction in the prologue to the 4G between
> > >God-with-the-article and God-without-the-article. Who knows? Maybe
> > >this was what the original author of the prologue meant. It makes
> > >sense to me. I'm not, of course, suggesting that the person
> > >responsible for the original version in Greek of the prologue would
> > >agree with everything Origen says, but perhaps he might agree with
> > >Origen's linguistic distinction. Below is the relevant passage
> > >Origen's commentary. For convenience's sake I reproduce the text
> > >the English of the Ante-Nicene Fathers.
> > >
> > >"We next notice John's use of the article in these sentences. He
> > >not write without care in this respect, nor is he unfamiliar with
> > >niceties of the Greek tongue. In some cases he uses the article,
> > >in some he omits it. ... Now there are many who are
> > >sincerely concerned about religion, and who fall here into great
> > >perplexity. They are afraid that they may be proclaiming two Gods,
> > >their fear drives them into doctrines which are false and wicked.
> > >Either they deny that the Son has a distinct nature of His own
> > >that of the Father, and make Him whom they call the Son to be God
> > >but the name, or they deny the divinity of the Son, giving Him a
> > >separate existence of His own, and making His sphere of essence
> > >outside that of the Father, so that they are separable from each
> > >other. To such persons we have to say ...
> > My question is, who are the "they" to whom Origen refers? Are they
> > persons to whom the author of the Prologue addressed John 1:18?
>...I think Origen's "they" is tolerably certain.
> He has in mind so-called Modalistic MonarchiansSuch as Ignatius? or who else (or what other texts) did you have in mind?
> and some sorts of so-called Dynamic Monarchians or Adoptionists.= Jewish circles within Christianity, as well as (see below) the Shepherd
of Hermas, Theodotus of Byzantium, & Paul of Samosata? And maybe the Didache?
Of course, I'm trying to see your categories in late First Century terms,
if not in terms of Origen's immediate predecessors and contemporaries.
>The former simply identified Father and[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
>Son and said the difference was only in mode--read "name". The second
>affirmed that the line between the Father and Son was the
>creator/creation line, though there was wide disparity between where
>in the spectrum of creation the "Son" fell, from an angel (see some
>passages in the Shepherd of Hermas) to an adopted human being (see
>the followers of Theodotus of Byzantium, Paul of Samosata, etc.).
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Bob Schacht <r_schacht@y...> wrote:
> > He has in mind so-called Modalistic Monarchiansmind?
> Such as Ignatius? or who else (or what other texts) did you have in
Yes, Ignatius is the earliest. Noetus of Smyrna is another. The
language in Melito of Sardis often appears rather modalistic as well,
but on a more popular and liturgical level.
> > and some sorts of so-called Dynamic Monarchians or Adoptionists.
> = Jewish circles within Christianity, as well as (see below) the
> of Hermas, Theodotus of Byzantium, & Paul of Samosata? And maybethe
> Of course, I'm trying to see your categories in late First Century
> if not in terms of Origen's immediate predecessors andcontemporaries.
I think Ignatius is the first of the outright modalists, but he
probably got some of his modalism from his particular "take" on the
Gospel of John.
I find myself more hard pressed to sort out what was going on in the
late first century: relative to the later period, there are so few
data and so many different reconstructions of how to put the data
Thomas A. Kopecek
Professor of Religion
Central College, Pella, IA 50219
- Bob Schacht wrote:
> > Of course, I'm trying to see your categories in late FirstCentury
> terms,Perhaps now that I have a bit more time I should clarify what I said
> > if not in terms of Origen's immediate predecessors and
about Ignatius and the Gospel of John, that is:
> I think Ignatius is the first of the outright modalists, but heAlthough we have a number of what seem to be genuine letters from
> probably got some of his modalism from his particular "take" on the
> Gospel of John.
Ignatius, there are two other sets, one an interesting (to me)
interpolated set from the fourth century, with a number of new
letters appended. In what are generally regarded as his genuine
letters Ignatius never quotes from NT documents but rather "echoes"
many of them, yet never in such a way as to convey that he thinks
to be scriptural in the way the Jewish Bible was scriptural. Which
letters are echoed are a matter of some dispute. I, for one, am
convinced Ignatius knew the Gospel of John, for the following reasons:
In his letter to the Magnesians 8:2 he seems to be echoing the Gospel
of John when he says, "...there is one God who revealed himself
through JC his Son, who is his Logos who came forth from 'silence',
who pleased him who sent him in every way." In his letter to the
Romans 7:3 he seems to be echoing Gospel of John 6 when he says, "I
take no pleasure in corruptible food or the pleasures of this life. I
want the bread of God, which is the flesh of Christ who is of the
seed of David; and for drink I want his blood, which is incorruptible
love (an allusion also to I John 4?)." In his letter to the
Philadelphians 7:1 he seems to echo John 3:8 when he dictates, "For
even though certain ones wished to deceive me according to the flesh,
the Spirit is nonetheless not deceived, since it is from God, for it
knows whence it comes and where it is going, and makes clear the
Whereas Ignatius asserts at least a verbal distinction between the
"Father" and "Jesus Christ our God" (see To The Ephesians, Inscr.)
and in Ad Eph. 4:2 says one ought in worship "to sing with one voice
through Jesus Christ to the Father," unlike people like Justin, who
calls the Son/Logos "another God" who is "under the Maker of all
things," Ignatius has moved the traditional language which
distinguishes between Father and Son in a modalistic direction when
he doesn't say that God "raised Jesus from the dead" but rather that
Jesus "truly suffered just as he also truly raised himself" (Ad
This is not to say that Ignatius is as systematic a modalist as
Noetus, for example, who was able to say that "Christ was the Father
himself" and that "the Father himself was born, suffered, and died"
(Hippolytus, Noet. 1). Ignatius is closer to the sermonic language of
Melito of Sardis' Homily on the Passover, where Melito too
distinguishes between God and the Logos in #47 but also can in #8-9
For as Son he was born . . . , as human being he was buried.
He rose from the dead as God, being by nature both God and a
human being. He is everything, . . . Father inasmuch as he
begets, Son inasmuch as he is begotten, . . . human inasmuch
as he is buried, God inasmuch as he rises.
Indeed, Melito comes pretty close to Noetus when he says in #96, "God
Of course, you are interested in the latter part of the first
century, about which I can add nothing to the normal speculations of
Thomas A. Kopecek
Professor of Religion
Central College, Pella, IA 50219