Re: [GTh] Origen and Spiritual Meaning
----- Original Message -----
From: Michael Grondin
Sent: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 7:51 PM
Subject: [GTh] Origen and Spiritual Meaning
I think Andrew would agree that Origen himself would describe his
interpretational principles in terms of "spiritual meaning" (versus
"literal meaning"), and of course it was certainly not Origen's view
that _everything_ in the NT was in the nature of allegory. But what
I wonder about - and maybe Andrew can answer this - is how to
explain Origen's infamous self-castration, wherein he seemed to
have taken Mt 19:12 ("there are eunuchs who made themselves
eunuchs on account of the kingdom...") _literally_, whereas in
_First Principles_, he writes:
"... one of the impossibilities is the verse in the Gospel 'If your right
eye has offended, let it be plucked out' [Mt 5:29, 18:9]. For even
if we refer the saying to fleshly eyes, how will it appear logical that
the blame for the offense is referred to one eye, the right one, when
a person sees with both eyes? Or who would be considered
innocent of a great crime if he laid hands on himself?"
Be that as it may, the last sentence in the above quotation is clearly
an independent line of reasoning that would obviously count heavily
against Origen's own self-castration. I don't know, however, whether
this passage is among those whose authenticity is in question. Nor
do I know whether this passage was supposedly written before or
after Origen's action. Hopefully, Andrew and/or Stephen can provide
some enlightenment. Did Origen later regret an action caused by
Origen's analysis of Matthew 19:12 (from the Latin translation of his "Commentary on Matthew") is online at
Origen clearly argues here against taking the injunction literally.
There seem to be two possibilities
i/ Origen castrated himself and later regretted it.
ii/ The story of his self-castration is not historical and is a product of the malice of his opponents. This possibility is discussed here.
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