Gregory of Nyssa’s fifteen Homilies on the Song of Songs offer an important resource for the history of Christian biblical exegesis, as well as for the history of Christian ascetical and spiritual teaching, and stand alongside Origen’s commentary on the Song as a source for the later interpretative tradition. In addition to offering the original text and an English translation of all fifteen homilies, Norris provides an analysis of the characteristic themes of Gregory’s ascetical teaching, emphasizes its connection in his mind with the institution of baptism, and stresses the degree to which Gregory sees the teaching of the Song as addressed not to a special class of believers but to any and all Christians.
Hans Urs von Balthasar places Origen of Alexandria “in rank . . . beside Augustine and Thomas” in “importance for the history of Christian thought,” explaining that his “brilliance” has captivated theologians throughout history (Spirit and Fire, 1984, 1). This brilliance shines forth in his nine extant homilies on Isaiah, in which he employs his theology of the Trinity and Christ to exhort his audience to play their crucial role in salvation history.
Origen reads Isaiah’s vision of the Lord and two seraphim in Isaiah 6 allegorically as representing the Trinity, and this theme runs throughout the nine homilies. His representation of the seraphim as the Son and Holy Spirit around the throne of the Father brought early accusations that Origen was a proto-Arian subordinationist, followed by a pointed condemnation by Emperor Justinian in 553. These homilies, originally delivered between 245 and 248, are extant only in a fourth-century Latin translation. Though St. Jerome, likely because of these controversies, does not identify himself as the Latin translator, the evidence overwhelmingly points to his pen, and his reliability in conveying Origen’s authentic meaning is well documented.
If one sets aside the questionable charges of subordinationism, these homilies, expounding on passages from Judges 6-10, come alive with Origen’s legacy of presenting Christ as the central figure of the soul’s ascent to God. Reading allegorically the two seraphim to be Jesus and the Holy Spirit around the Father’s throne, Origen draws a picture of the Trinity as a tightly knit whole in which the Son and the Holy Spirit eternally sing the Trisagion (“Holy, holy, holy”) to each other and the Father about the divine truths of God’s nature, allowing the part of their song that conveys the “middle things” of salvation history to be heard by creation. The “second seraph” is the Son, or Jesus, who descends holding a hot coal, or Scripture, from the altar of the throne, with which he cleanses Isaiah’s lips, or the believer’s soul. Origen employs his signature exegetical method of allegory and typology through the lens of the threefold meaning of Scripture to emphasize to his hearers that Christ is the deliverer, the content, and the reward of the healing Word. He repeatedly assures them that those who submit to Scripture will enter into salvation history’s cycle of cleansing from sin, growth in virtue, and ever-deepening knowledge of God. As a result, they will become like Christ and thus will be prepared to join the Trinity for all eternity at the heavenly wedding feast.
Presented in this volume are the remains of twenty-two homilies and a collection of fragments delivered by Origen around A.D. 240. The original texts of the homilies on Jeremiah have not come down to us completely; two of the homilies survive only in a Latin translation of St. Jerome. The homily on I Kings 28, while not a part of the homilies on Jeremiah, deals with the Witch of Endor and has been added to this volume in virtue of its own inherent interest.
In 2012 Dr. Marina Marin Pradel, an archivist at the Bayerische Stattsbibliotek in Munich, discovered that a thick 12th-century Byzantine manuscript, Codex Monacensis Graecus 314, contained twenty-nine of Origen’s Homilies on the Psalms, hitherto considered lost. Lorenzo Perrone of the University of Bologna, an internationally respected scholar of Origen, vouched for the identification and immediately began work on the scholarly edition that appeared in 2015 as the thirteenth volume of Origen’s works in the distinguished Griechische Christlichen Schrifsteller series. In an introductory essay Perrone provided proof that the homilies are genuine and demonstrated that they are, astonishingly, his last known work. Live transcripts, these collection homilies constitute our largest collection of actual Christian preaching from the pre-Constantinian period.
In these homilies, the final expression of his mature thought, Origen displays, more fully than elsewhere, his understanding of the church and of deification as the goal of Christian life. They also give precious insights into his understanding of the incarnation and of human nature. They are the earliest example of early Christian interpretation of the Psalms, works at the heart of Christian spirituality. Historians of biblical interpretation will find in them the largest body of Old Testament interpretation surviving in his own words, not filtered through ancient translations into Latin that often failed to convey his intense philological acumen. Among other things, they give us new insights into the life of a third-century Greco-Roman metropolis, into Christian/Jewish relations, and into Christian worship.
This translation, using the GCS as its basis, seeks to convey, as faithfully as possible, Origen’s own categories of thought. An introduction and notes relate the homilies to the theology and principles of interpretation in Origen’s larger work and to that work’s intellectual context and legacy.
This volume offers a translation of sixteen homilies by the most famous preacher in Christian antiquity, John Chrysostom. These homilies on Paul’s letter to the Philippians constitute the most comprehensive ancient surviving commentary on the letter in any language. The homilies have a direct and conversational style in which examples from daily life abound: children, the elderly, food, agriculture, seafaring, money, commerce, building, furniture, weather, illness, good health, animals, and slavery. Friendship themes, based on Paul’s relationship with the church at Philippi, and Christology also figure largely in these homilies. This volume, with Greek text and English translation on facing pages, situates Chrysostom’s homilies on Paul’s letter to the Philippians in their historical, homiletical, rhetorical, and liturgical contexts.