SELECTIONS FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITERS: ILLUSTRATIVE OF CHURCH HISTORY TO THE TIME OF CONSTANTINE by Henry Melvill Gwatkin, M.A. First Edition, Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1893. Reprinted with additions and corrections, 1897, 1902, 1905. Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram, 2013.
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XLIb. ORIGEN, De Principiis, iv.16 [4.3.1.] = Philoc.p.24

The Parabolic Element in Scripture Narratives

Τίς γοῦν νοῦν ἔχων οἰήσεται «πρώτην καὶ δευτέραν καὶ τρίτην ἡμέραν ἑσπέραν τε καὶ πρωΐαν», χωρὶς ἡλίου γεγονέναι καὶ σελήνης καὶ ἀστέρων; τὴν δὲ οἱονεὶ πρώτην καὶ χωρὶς οὐρανοῦ; τίς δ' οὕτως ἠλίθιος ὡς οἰηθῆναι τρόπον ἀνθρώπου γεωργοῦ τὸν θεὸν «πεφυτευκέναι παράδεισον ἐν Ἐδὲμ κατὰ ἀνατολάς», καὶ «ξύλον ζωῆς» ἐν αὐτῷ πεποιηκέναι ὁρατὸν καὶ αἰσθητόν, ὥστε διὰ τῶν σωματικῶν ὀδόντων γευσάμενον τοῦ καρποῦ τὸ ζῆν ἀναλαμβάνειν· καὶ πάλιν «καλοῦ καὶ πονηροῦ» μετέχειν τινὰ παρὰ τὸ μεμα σῆσθαι τὸ ἀπὸ τοῦδε τοῦ ξύλου λαμβανόμενον; ἐὰν δὲ καὶ «θεὸς τὸ δειλινὸν ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ περιπατεῖν» λέγηται καὶ «ὁ Ἀδὰμ ὑπὸ τὸ ξύλον κρύπτεσθαι», οὐκ οἶμαι διστάξειν τινὰ περὶ τοῦ αὐτὰ τροπικῶς διὰ δοκούσης ἱστορίας καὶ οὐ σωματικῶς γεγενημένης μηνύειν τινὰ μυστήρια. ἀλλὰ καὶ «Κάιν ἐξερχόμενος ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ θεοῦ» σαφῶς τοῖς ἐπιστήσασι φαίνεται κινεῖν τὸν ἐντυγχάνοντα ζητεῖν, < τί > «πρόσωπον θεοῦ» καὶ τὸ «ἐξέρχεσθαί» τινα ἀπ' αὐτοῦ. καὶ τί δεῖ πλείω λέγειν, τῶν μὴ πάνυ ἀμβλέων μυρία ὅσα τοιαῦτα δυναμένων συναγαγεῖν, ἀναγεγραμμένα μὲν ὡς γεγονότα, οὐ γεγενημένα δὲ κατὰ τὴν λέξιν; ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ εὐαγγέλια δὲ τοῦ αὐτοῦ εἴδους τῶν λόγων πεπλήρωται, «εἰς ὑψηλὸν ὄρος» τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀναβιβάζοντος τοῦ διαβόλου, ἵν' ἐκεῖθεν αὐτῷ «δείξῃ τοῦ παντὸς κόσμου τὰς βασιλείας καὶ τὴν δόξαν αὐτῶν». τίς γὰρ οὐκ ἂν τῶν μὴ παρέργως ἀναγινωσκόντων τὰ τοιαῦτα καταγινώσκοι τῶν οἰομένων τῷ τῆς σαρκὸς ὀφθαλμῷ, δεηθέντι ὕψους ὑπὲρ τοῦ κατανοηθῆναι δύνασθαι τὰ κατωτέρω καὶ ὑποκείμενα, ἑωρᾶσθαι τὴν Περσῶν καὶ Σκυθῶν καὶ Ἰνδῶν καὶ Παρθυαίων βασιλείαν, καὶ ὡς δοξάζονται παρὰ ἀνθρώποις οἱ βασιλεύοντες; παραπλησίως δὲ τούτοις καὶ ἄλλα μυρία ἀπὸ τῶν εὐαγγε λίων ἔνεστι τὸν ἀκριβοῦντα τηρῆσαι ὑπὲρ τοῦ συγκαταθέσθαι συνυφαίνεσθαι ταῖς κατὰ τὸ ῥητὸν γεγενημέναις ἱστορίαις ἕτερα μὴ συμβεβηκότα.

What intelligent person would fancy, for instance, that a first, second, and third day, evening and morning, took place without sun, moon, and stars; and the first, as we call it, without even a heaven? Who would be so childish as to suppose that God after the manner of a human gardener planted a garden in Eden towards the east, and made therein a tree, visible and sensible, so that one could get the power of living by the bodily eating of its fruit with the teeth; or again, could partake of good and evil by feeding on what came from that other tree? If God is said to walk at eventide in the garden, and Adam to hide himself under the tree, I fancy that no one will question that these statements are figurative, declaring mysterious truths by the means of a seeming history, not one that took place in a bodily form. And Cain's going forth from the presence of God, as is plain and clear to attentive minds, stirs the reader to look for the meaning of the presence of God, and of any one's going forth from it. What need of more, when all but the dullest eyes can gather innumerable instances, in which things are recorded as having happened which did not take place in the literal sense ? Nay, even the Gospels are full of sayings of the same class: as when the devil takes Jesus up into a high mountain, to show him from thence the kingdoms of the whole world and the glory of them. Who but a careless reader of such words would fail to condemn those who think that by the eye of flesh, which needed a height to bring into view what lay far down beneath, the kingdoms of Persians, and Scythians, and Indians, and Parthians, were seen, and the glory men give to their rulers? Countless cases such as this the accurate reader is able to observe, to make him agree that with the histories which literally took place other things are interwoven which did not actually happen.

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