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The Language of God: a Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Francis Collins. New York: Free Press (Simon & Schuster), HUB ZWART. Francis Collins. The Language of God: a scientist presents evidence for belief. Free Press, New York , pp. (USD on flap, on Amazon). ISBN Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent) ;– The Language of God: A Scientist. Presents Evidence for Belief by. Francis Collins. New York: Free Press,


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LANGUAGE. OF GOD. A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. FRANCIS S. COLLINS. Free Press. N e w Y o r k London Toronto Sydney. JUL 7 Francis Collins, director of the Human Genome Project (HGP), needs no further. the HGP as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at. In The language of God, Collins not only discloses the. The Language of God by Francis S. Collins. Pages , excerpted word for word for an objective observer to argue that this will not be, in the long run.

He explains: In any case these poems are the oldest works of Greek literature and came to form the basis for Greek education already by the sixth century b. This book gives the ordinary reader access to that wisdom. For the terms ainos and ainigma, see H. Brepols, — Paul , who greatly influenced later Christian authors.

The odds of this happening by chance are almost infinitesimal. One theory proposed to explain this coincidence is assuming the existence of an infinite number of universes, each with their own physical constant values. Among these universes, it is postulated, ours happens to contain the physical properties permitting life and consciousness.

The alternative explanation for the improbable conditions that make intelligent life possible is that rather than occurring by chance, they reflect the action of the One who created the universe. Collins finds this second account to be more elegant and compelling. Collins' next task is proposing a framework for reconciliation between science and religion.

He first reviews what astrophysics, the geological and fossil record, and the study of genetic material across species have to say about the question of origins. He concludes that the evidence overwhelmingly reveals a universe billions of years old and that evolution through natural selection is the crucial generator of the diversity and complexity of life. Collins then presents a case that this modern scientific account of origins is compatible with belief in God and the biblical narrative.

Examining the Genesis creation story, he argues that the text intends to impart theological truths rather than provide a natural history. Here he follows a long tradition of biblical exegesis. For instance, in the fifth century, St. Augustine wrote contemptuously of a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation account: Collins also rejects intelligent design ID theory, which points out the explanatory shortcomings of evolution theory and on this basis postulates the involvement of an intelligent designer.

He argues that ID fails to function as a viable scientific theory since it does not predict other findings or suggest approaches for further experimental verification. ID also fails to provide a mechanism by which its hypothesized supernatural interventions took place.

Finally, many of the cases in nature that ID points to as examples of the inadequacies of evolution theory are now being shown to be consistent with it after all.

Collins points to theistic evolution as an explanation that reconciles faith and science. Theistic evolution holds that God used the elegant mechanism of evolution to create all of life, including human beings. Francis Collins is under no illusion that his book will settle the often rancorous disputes between the religious and scientific communities. But he hopes at least to offer a model for more civil and reasonable dialogue.

In this respect, I believe he has succeeded. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Proc Bayl Univ Med Cent. Reviewed by James Marroquin , MD. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Open in a separate window. References 1. Johnson G. A free-for-all on science and religion. New York Times , November 21, Boniface Ramsey, O. The Newman Press, , p.

This Greek word theologia and related forms had a long history, especially in philosophical discourse, before it entered into the Judeo-Christian vocabulary. This latter criterion of usefulness derives from the statement found in 2 Timothy 3: There were other kinds of interpretation of biblical texts in the ancient world, including Jewish and what the Chris- 5 For a brief sketch of this history, see G. Galling, 3rd ed. Mohr, , pp.

Most of these, with the exception of Marcion, did not have direct influence on the devel- opment of Christian interpretation and lie outside the scope of this book. The Hellenistic Jewish interpretations, however, were to have a strong in- fluence on Christian exegesis, as will be explained in chapter three.

Many modern interpreters of different religious traditions or even secular ones can often agree on what might have been the original historical setting and meaning of particular texts, because modern interpreters seek to establish the original meaning of the biblical texts.

Ancient Christian interpreters were not primarily interested in the original meaning, but rather in finding a meaning that is suitable for us—in other words, a Christian meaning.

Using phrases from Numbers and Deuteronomy, both authors drew an analogy between the way a father speaks to children and the way God is often portrayed in the Scriptures. This was perhaps the most compre- hensive solution ever developed for dealing with problematic texts, and it was a specifically theological solution, because it was based on an under- standing of what God is like considered in himself.

Other Christian writers such as John Chrysostom, although they did not use these texts, developed a similar approach based on the notion of the divine condescension syn- katabasis in dealing with humans. The chapter also notes the three prin- cipal adversaries or publics to which these explanations were directed by Origen: The first in this line of critical philosophers was Xenophanes, who states: Later manuals of Homeric interpretation Pseudo- Heraclitus and Pseudo-Plutarch make extensive use of the notions of what is fitting for God or worthy of God.

Both Philo of Alexandria and all the major Greek-speaking church fathers had studied Homer and Homeric interpretation as part of their basic education. The third chapter is devoted to Hellenistic Jewish interpretation and Philo of Alexandria. Already in the second century b. Such laws must be interpreted to contain ethical teaching for humans.

However, it is chiefly in the exegetical writings of Philo that the criterion of what is worthy of or fitting for God comes to be widely applied to the interpretation of the Scriptures.

For example, with reference to Genesis 2: The expression also has an ethical sense, because, just as the face is the dominant part of the body, so is the intellect the dominant part of the soul and God gives his spirit to this part.

The texts were used to interpret him, and he was used to interpret the texts, as he seemed to have done during his lifetime. Jesus is portrayed in the New Testament as criticizing the law and even seeming to contradict it: In the second occurrence of this teaching Mt He cites Genesis against Deuteronomy. He was raised as a Pharisee, but came to regard legal observance as an obstacle to the preaching of the gospel among the Gentiles.

His polemic against imposing the law on the Gentiles in Gala- tians and Romans is well-known. His arguments go beyond expediency and assert that the law of Moses as a code of observances is no longer valid. Paul also alludes to the principle of what is fitting to God: New Testament authors showed a variety of approaches toward the Jewish Scriptures and made selective, even if extensive, use of them. By the end of the second century and probably as a result of the Marcionite con- troversy, the Law, the Prophets and the Writings had been included in the Christian canon.

At the same time, a change in the concept of Scripture itself was becoming apparent, especially in writers such as Clement of Al- 10 See Philo, Mos. Scripture was no longer regarded as a source of proof by selective quotation from texts, but rather as a coherent body to be in- terpreted in its entirety. Running commentaries on the entire text of the biblical books beginning with Origen became common and required con- fronting many previously ignored texts.

The fifth chapter presents the principal early Christian interpreters, both Greek and Latin, beginning with the Alexandrians, Clement and Origen. Although Clement did not write commentaries on the Scriptures, he did make extensive use of them and developed the concept of what is fitting to God or worthy of God as a key to interpretation. Origen thought of himself as following the example of Paul in interpreting the Scriptures, and he frequently invoked Pauline texts to justify his procedures.

However, as might be expected from one strongly influenced by the Greek philo- sophical tradition and by Philo, the concept of what is worthy of God plays a significant role in his exegetical work. In treating the question of the unity of the Testaments, Origen discusses the statements of the Old Testament where God is said to be angry and points out that similar things can be found also in the New Testament. This leads to the general conclusion: Eusebius, Didymus and Chrysostom.

It may reasonably be inferred that Marcion had also appealed to this norm in his own works. Butterworth New York: Harper and Row, , p. The sixth chapter examines three different texts or sets of texts that posed a particular challenge in terms of the concept of God: In Deuteronomy 7: The solutions early Christian interpreters proposed to these theological questions were chiefly in terms of allegorical interpretations.

The seventh chapter is dedicated to the special problem of the book of Psalms, which by the time of Jesus was thought to have been written by David, who was a prophet. By the fourth century, if not before, this most heterogeneous of all the books of the Old Testament had become the Christian prayer book. It was used extensively in the liturgy and recited in its entirety by monks and nuns. However, the psalms, produced over hundreds of years and inspired by different theologies, often contained sentiments difficult to reconcile with the teaching of Jesus Christ.

It was necessary to give them a Christian meaning. The early Christian interpreters employed a variety of techniques to do this, including the determination of the speaker in the passage, inter- 12 Tertullian, Marc. But the leading criterion was theological, what was fitting to the nature of God. The final chapter offers a comparison of ancient and some modern or recent approaches to dealing with these texts.

Although many of the pre- suppositions of ancient interpretation are no longer tenable in the light of our historical knowledge and many of the rules used by ancient Christian interpreters may no longer be viable, their theological interpretation of the texts still has value for us today.

Finding a Christian meaning for the Scrip- tures is still a challenge. This chapter seeks to compare how ancient and modern interpreters meet this challenge, especially with reference to some texts already examined in chapters six and seven.

Those unacquainted with ancient methods of interpretation may find it useful to begin with the appendix on ancient Christian hermeneutics p.

Numbers Deuteronomy 1: These two texts were understood to refer to the distinction between theologia who God is and oikonomia what God does. The ancient versions differed from one another.

The rsv translated from the Hebrew text has: In his Commentary on John, he states: It may be possible to learn about the rela- tionship of the Father to the Son and of the Son to the Father through the things which the prophets announce about him, no less than from the apostles who describe the greatness of the Son of God.

Origen was not alone in making this distinction.

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In the next century, the first historian of the church, Eusebius, a great admirer of Origen, also used this distinction. At the beginning of his Ecclesiastical History, he states: Catholic University of America Press, Henry Chadwick London: Cambridge University Press, John Anthony McGuckin Louisville: Westminster John Knox, , pp.

In the history of Christian biblical interpretation it is not an exaggeration to say that all roads lead to or from the figure of Origen of Alexandria, whose imposing corpus of biblical com- mentaries left an indelible mark on all later patristic exegesis.

After citing Jeremiah He states: See also Dem.

Ettinger, Theodoret of Cyrus: Eranistes Oxford: Claren- don Press, , pp. This does not mean that the adults are immature, but that in order to converse with children they speak in a childlike language. The same holds true for God. He speaks to us as children, as it is said: The reader looking at a modern translation from the Hebrew text of Deuter- onomy may be confused, for the Hebrew text is different.

But Origen was reading the Greek version known as the Septuagint in which there are found two variant readings for this verse. One contains the Greek verb trophophorein, which allows the translation of the verse: Armed with this idea, that God like a father takes on the manners of a son, that is, adapts himself to the limited human perspective, Origen can explain the original question that was the point of departure; namely, how is it possible that God can be said to repent?

He does not pretend that he foreknows all things before their generation Dan 1 Only children would read the text literally. In short, God is not really like a man, and according to Origen, one can find numerous other passages that correspond to this phrase: Thus, by means of a supposed etymology or play on words, Origen has created a general theory to explain or neutralize all 14 Ibid.

They may be explained in virtue of the divine condescension synkatabasis and accommodation tropophorein. Perhaps they will hear and repent cf. Jer Dt Origen explains that the word of God is not like that of all others. For of no one else is the word a living being, of no one else is the word God, for of no one else was the word in the beginning with that one of whom it was the word, even if it was only.

So indeed the anger of God is an anger. For it is the wrath of the purpose of the One who reproves by wrath, who wishes to convert the one reproved through the reproof. Origen answers with the comparison of the way adults speak when they talk to small children. Again he cites Deuteronomy 1: He adds: To illustrate this method, which, according to him, is the teaching of the Scriptures, he 25 Ibid.

Psalm 6: By comparing these texts, says Origen, one arrives at the conclusion that it is a question of correction on the part of God. He pretends to be angry, as one does with children in order to make an im- pression. He notes that each one brings this wrath on himself because of his own sins, as Paul states in Romans 2: Furthermore he observes that the Logos Word teaches us not to be angry at all, as it says in Psalm He concludes that the Scripture would not have attributed to God that which it has commanded us to abandon completely.

The task of those of us who give an intel- ligent account of Christianity is simply to deliver our hearts from stupidity as well as we can and to make them sensible. But in this understanding there are no super- fluous words in Scripture. Every word counts and is present for some reason.

He explains: Actually Philo had also used these two texts to treat of the nature of God. To Philo we shall return later in chapter three. Origen asks rhetorically: He then poses a second rhetorical question: The heart, then, of the theological problem is the attribution of human passions to God. These people, who are actually the majority, are designated by many terms in his works: In the next chapter we will take a look at the philosophical tradition.

In fact Christianity had presented itself almost from the beginning as a philosophy, the only true philosophy. It 37 Origen, PArch 4.

Pdf language of god

Many other non-Christian writers were to raise objections against what appeared to be crude anthropomorphisms or mythological presentations in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. His was a very different kind of reading of the Scriptures, and resulted in the rejection of most of them. We do not know how much Origen actually knew about Marcion or whether he had access to any of his writings.

Most of our knowledge of Marcion comes from the Latin polemical writing Against Marcion by Ter- tullian, to which Origen did not have access, and the work by Irenaeus of Lyons Against Heresies, which Origen probably knew in Greek.

A native of Sinope in Pontus, Marcion arrived in Rome about a. He was the son of a bishop and a prosperous ship owner who became a benefactor of the church in Rome. Marcion maintained that the church had been mistaken in keeping the Old Testament as its Scriptures, that the law, denounced by Paul as the cause of sin and the principle of in- justice, could not be the work of the God of Jesus Christ.

Consequently he attributed it to a Demiurge or Creator God different from the perfect God, the God of pure love and mercy, visibly embodied in Jesus Christ. He further concluded that the gospel must be dissociated from Judaism, and so he repudiated the Old Testament as containing no revelation of the Christian God.

However, the New Testament writings contained nu- merous references and citations of the Old Testament writings. Marcion found the solution to this in the claim of Paul Gal 1: He con- cluded that only Paul had correctly understood Jesus.

Mohr Siebeck, Among the Gospels only that of Luke was acceptable, since Luke had been the friend and companion of Paul. Marcion insisted on reading the texts of the Old Testament literally, rejecting any kind of spiritual interpretation, and so for him the only consistent solution was to reject it.

His teaching also led indirectly to the establishment of the canon of the New Testament, that is, of the list of officially recognized writings of the church. In reality Marcion had arrived too late on the scene to effect such a rejection of the Old Testament. Christian interpretations of these writings were already deeply embedded in the tradition, as can easily be seen by the numerous references to Old Testament writings in the New Testament. The challenge articulated by Marcion was, however, taken seriously by early Christian writers, and much early Christian interpretation was de- veloped to demonstrate that the real meaning of the Old Testament texts is not in contradiction with the teaching of Jesus Christ.

Marcion had posed in a dramatic way the problem of reading the Old Testament with a Christian sense. However, his solution was, from a theological point of view, very poor, for it ended up producing another god besides the Father of Jesus Christ. The theological interpretation of the Scriptures by the early Christian writers being described here did not involve a rejection of portions of Scripture as did that of Marcion. Rather it was an interpretation that often distinguished between the literal or obvious sense and what Christian writers understood to be the true or Christian meaning of the Scriptures.

With regard to the Old Testament Scriptures, this meant a more profound or hidden meaning. Marthaler Detroit: Thomson Gale, , 9: This assumption was not limited to the Alexandrian school, which included Clement, Origen, Eusebius, Didymus and Cyril, but ex- tended also to Antiochene writers such as John Chrysostom and Theo- doret of Cyrrhus. Wherefore, in accordance with the method of concealment, the truly sacred Word, truly divine and most necessary for us, deposited in the shrine of truth, was by the Egyptians indicated by what were called among them adyta, and by the Hebrews by the veil.

Only the consecrated—that is, those devoted to God, circumcised in the desire of the passions for the sake of love to that which is alone divine—were allowed access to them. For only to those who often approach them, and have given them a trial by faith and in their whole life, will they supply the real philosophy and the true theology.

They also wish us to require an interpreter and guide. For so they considered, that, receiving truth at the hands of those who knew it well, we would be more earnest and less liable to deception, and those worthy of them would profit.

Besides, all things that shine through a veil show the truth grander and more imposing; as fruits shining through water, and figures through veils, which give added reflections to them. Oracles by their nature are obscure and require an interpretation. It also designates the catechetical School of Alexandria, of which Origen was appointed head by the bishop.

For more on this distinction, see chap. Clement devotes 5. Although he did not make use of the text of Numbers In a homily on the story of Noah in Genesis, where the text says: I mean, as far as the ineffable essence is concerned, the word is improper; but as far as our limitations are concerned, the expression is made appropriately.

Robert C. Hill Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, , p. The word is appropriate to us, not to God. But then he offers a more extended reflection on the question of such language. He asks: For the reason of the materialism of the listeners, and for the purpose of startling their thinking through the familiar names of these weapons.

What need has he of weapons, after all, in whose hand rests the spirit of us all and before whose gaze no one can stand their ground?

If, however, these things are not to be taken in 46 John Chrysostom, Commentary on the Psalms, trans. Hill Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Ortho- dox Press, , 1: John says something similar? Is God imitating a woodcutter chopping wood with his axe?

In commenting on the first line of Psalm 6: The divine nature, after all, is free of all these passions. On the contrary, he speaks this way so as to make an impression on the minds of more materialistic people.

For in our case, too, when we converse with foreigners, we use their language; if we speak with children, we babble away with them, and even if we are extremely gifted, we show considerateness for their undeveloped state.

What is surprising in our doing this when we do it also in actions, like biting our nails and feigning anger, all for the sake of instructing the children? God likewise, wanting to make an impression on materialistic people, made use of such words. For in so speaking, you see, his concern was not for his own glory but for the benefit of his listeners. To do so would be to read the sacred text in a way unworthy of God.

God as he is in himself theologia must be distinguished from the way he is presented in the economy of salvation. This fundamental distinction is developed through the introduction of a technical vocabulary, which includes the terms anthropomorphic and anthropopathic. We will encounter this terminology over and over again, for it provided the basic tools to the ancient Christian in- terpreters for finding a meaning useful to us.

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Cicero, De officiis The two works attributed to the Greek poet Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, had from time immemorial formed the basis for Greek culture and education. Originally transmitted orally perhaps before the standard system of Greek writing was developed, they told the story of the Trojan War the Iliad and the long wanderings of Odysseus after the war until he returned home the Odyssey.

The Greek historian Herodotus fifth century b. In any case these poems are the oldest works of Greek literature and came to form the basis for Greek education already by the sixth century b. The myths contained in these works were developed in other ancient writings such as those of Hesiod and later in the Homeric Hymns and the works of the tragedians. However, popular though they were, these works contained stories and Language for God.

Even before the development of the philosophical critique of mythology, a method seems to have emerged for interpreting them in such a way as to remove the scandal. Latin orator Cicero, but before that other words had been employed for this in- terpretive practice. The basic idea is that the text says one thing, but the real meaning is something else. The original terminology associated with the discovery of hidden, non- literal meanings, however, appears to be the word group associated with the root ain-: This terminology is found in the Derveni papyrus, the earliest example of extended allegorical interpretation, dated to the fourth century b.

The text is a commentary on an Orphic poem. The Poetics of Community, ed. University of California Press, , p. Princeton University Press, , pp.

Struck, Birth of the Symbol: For the terms ainos and ainigma, see H. Gert Ueding Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, , 1: Gert Ueding Darm- stadt: Neither human misdeeds nor speech nor human form nor generation are appropriate to the divine. The concept of God thus becomes a hermeneutical principle or tool. Plato The theological critique of the poets begun by Xenophanes was continued by the later philosophers, especially Plato, who banned the poets from his Republic.

In fact the critique of the traditional Greek myths by Plato was 3 Ibid. The fragment is found in Clement, Strom. The translations of Xeno- phanes are from Jaeger.

Plato was very much interested in myth because he wished to substitute philosophical discourse for mythical discourse. Without mentioning these events explicitly, he says: Socrates continues with this generalization: Nor, in general, any of the stories—which are not true anyway—about gods making war on gods, plotting against them, or fighting with them. Not if we want the people who are going to protect our city to regard it as a crime to fall out with one another without a very good reason.

The last thing they need is to have stories told them, and pictures made for them, of battles between giants, and all the many and varied enmities of gods and heroes towards their kinsmen and families.

Allegorical Interpretation and Classical Mythology Chicago: University of Chicago Press, The young are incapable of judging what is allegory and what is not, and the opinions they form at that age tend to be ineradicable and unchangeable. Plutarch says that this was the word commonly used earlier for this interpretive practice. It is simply impossible to imagine that gods worthy of the name would behave this way.

So Plato lays down some basic principles concerning theology the nature of divinity. One is that God or god is good and the source only of good, not of evil or what is harmful a—c.

Another principle is that the gods do not change their form or undergo transformations, nor do they engage in deception. They are not like magicians. The conclusion is that the works of Homer cannot be used in the education of the young: Socrates says: Rather, with neither shame nor en- durance, he would chant many dirges and laments at the slightest sufferings. II 19e; LCL In fact the defenders of Homer were in basic agreement with the critics regarding the theological criteria.

One may well wonder why, given the severity of these critiques on the part of the philosophers, Homer was not simply abandoned in favor of more suitable material.

The answer is similar to the question of why the Christians did not simply abandon the portions of the Old Testament that were incompatible with the teaching of Jesus. As the first-century interpreter and defender of Homer known as Pseudo-Heraclitus states it: One might almost say that his poems are our baby clothes, and we nourish our minds by draughts of his milk.

He stands at our side as we each grow up and shares our youth as we gradually come to manhood; when we are mature, his presence within us is at its prime; and even in old age, we never weary of him. When we stop, we thirst to begin him again.

In a word, the only end of Homer for human beings is the end of life. The solution for Pseudo-Heraclitus, however, is not to abandon Homer and his myths but to interpret him allegorically in a way that is in accord with fitting and appropriate notions of divinity. Russell and David Konstan, Heraclitus: Society of Biblical Literature, , p.

Thus, when Homer is interpreted correctly, that is, allegorically, all valid philo- sophical content can be found already in his works. Hera and Poseidon, Pallas Athena too; but, goddess, you came and freed him from his bonds, swiftly summoning the hundred-handed to high Olympus, whom the gods call Biareus, and men Aegaeon, for he is stronger than his father is.

Homer is the sole originator of the scientific doctrine of the elements, and taught all his successors the ideas which they were held to have dis- covered. He continues at some length to explain that the philosophers such as Thales and Empedocles also spoke enigmatically and allegorically, when they discoursed about nature.

Donald A. Pseudo-Heraclitus was neither the first nor the last to interpret the tra- ditional Greek myths found in the poetry of Homer and Hesiod in an effort to make them acceptable to later readers with a more refined ethical and theological sensibility.

Another work on the subject from antiquity later than Heraclitus was attributed to Plutarch ca. It is titled simply Concerning Homer. In doing so we reap a great harvest in terms of diction, understanding, and experience of the world. John J. Keaney and Robert Lamberton Atlanta: Scholars Press, But the fundamental reason for it was pedagogical in plain contradiction to Plato: That which is signified through hidden meanings may be attractive where that which is said explicitly is of little value.

In other words, narratives are more useful for teaching and likely to leave an impression than a presen- tation of abstract truths. Latin Philosophical Writers This concept of what is fitting, worthy or appropriate to divinity and a specific terminology for it enter into Latin literature with Cicero and Varro. Cicero, who had studied philosophy in Greece with Posidonius, is largely responsible for the creation of a Latin philosophical vocabulary. Balbus remarks sarcastically: We know what the gods look like and how old they are, their dress.

They are ac- tually represented as liable to passions and emotions—we hear of their being in love, sorrowful, angry; according to the myths they even engage in wars and battles, and that not only when as in Homer two armies are con- 30 Ibid.

These stories and these beliefs are ut- terly foolish; they are stuffed with nonsense and absurdity of all sorts. Who could adore them and deem them worthy of worship or reverence? Let us therefore banish from philosophy entirely the error of making assertions in discussing the immortal gods that are derogatory to their dignity. And hence, if most dreams are unnoticed and disregarded, either God is ignorant of that fact, or he does a vain thing in conveying information by means of dreams; 32 Cicero, De natura deorum 2.

A similar terminology can be found in certain passages of Varro and later Seneca. They were understood as irrational impulses of the soul, which cause a state of disease. Just as there are sick- nesses of the body, so also the effect of these passions clashing within a person is to rob the soul of health and bring on illness. Is the hand as it should be, when it is affected with a swelling? Must not the mind, then, when it is puffed up, or distended, be out of order?

But the mind of a wise man is always free from every kind of disorder: A wise man, therefore, is never angry; for when he is angry, he lusts after something; for whoever is angry naturally has a longing desire to give all the pain he can to the person who he thinks has injured him; and whoever has this earnest desire must necessarily be much pleased with the accomplishment of his wishes; hence 38 Cicero, De divinatione, 2. Humans must do all in their power to combat this disease by resisting it with reason.

For the Stoics that meant seeking to eliminate the passions of anger. Let it be put away entirely, it can do us no good. But there are certain agents that are unable to harm us and have no power that is not beneficent and salutary, as for example, the immortal gods, who neither wish nor are able to hurt; for they are by nature mild and gentle, as incapable of injuring others as of injuring themselves. It rules out human passions on the part of the divinity, as it does all other human attributes.

This later came to be called allegory. Earlier it was referred to as hyponoia, indicating meaning beneath or underlying the text. The philosophers, beginning with Xenophanes and later even more forcefully with Plato, criticized the mythological presentation of the gods from a theological point of view. The word itself is an implicit criticism: It was particularly important to exclude the passion of anger from the understanding of divinity.

These ideas were influential with early Christian writers, because all Greek edu- cation was based on this tradition, as was Roman education later on. There were Greek-speaking Jewish communities living in cities throughout the Mediterranean area. Two of the most im- portant of these were located in Antioch and Alexandria, the capital cities first of the Greek kingdoms of Syria and Egypt and then of the Roman provinces of Syria and Egypt. Already in the third century before Christ the Jews of Alexandria seem to have translated the law of Moses into Greek.

This meant that it became known to non-Jews as well in the Hellenistic world. One result of this was the need to defend the Jewish Scriptures and to explain them to a cultured, philosophically oriented, non-Jewish public such as that of Alexandria.

Davies and L. Finkelstein, The Hellenistic Age Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, , 2: See also E. Harvard University Press, ; J.

Barclay, Jews in the Mediterranean Diaspora: From Alexander to Trajan bce— ce Berkeley: University of California Press, ; J. Bartlett, Jews in the Hellenistic World: The document known as the Letter of Aristeas or Pseudo-Aristeas, written about b. The translation according to this account was made somewhat miraculously by seventy translators sent from Jerusalem for this purpose. In addition the letter contains an apology for the law of Moses and some indications as to how the law is to be interpreted.

The author is particularly concerned to explain the dietary laws and the distinction between clean and unclean animals. First of all he lays down a general principle regarding the law: He admonishes: The fact is that everything has been solemnly set in order for unblemished investigation and amendment of life for the sake of righteousness.

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Their prohibition is in fact a way of teaching a moral lesson. By calling them impure, he has thereby indicated that it is the solemn binding duty of those for whom the legislation has been established to practice righteousness and not to lord it over anyone in reliance upon their own strength, nor to deprive him of anything, but to govern their lives right- eously, in the manner of the gentle creatures among the aforementioned birds which feed on those plants which grow on the ground and do not exercise a domination leading to the destruction of their fellow creatures.

Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, Shutt, trans. Charles- worth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. James H. Hendrickson, , 2: These merely represent the higher moral principles with which the supreme power is concerned.

They are symbols for the true and more profound moral teaching of the law. Implicitly and to a certain extent explicitly it is the concept of God that governs his explanations.

The fragments preserved by Clement and Eusebius come from an apologetic and didactic work addressed to the young king Ptolemy VI Philometor — b. Fortress, , 1: For Aristobulus it is clear that one must search for a deeper meaning in these writings.

They cannot be taken at face value. But to those who have no share of power and understanding, but who are devoted to the letter alone, he does not seem to explain anything elevated.

Now Moses indicates this also in our Law when he speaks thus: For it is possible for people speaking metaphorically to consider that the entire strength of human beings and their active powers are in their hands.

Therefore the lawgiver has employed a metaphor well for the purpose of saying something elevated, when he says that the accomplishments of God are his hands. Another anthropomorphism that can hardly be taken literally is the suggestion that God engages in physical movement.

Therefore the descent was not local; for God is every- where. From the same Alexandrian Jewish community, but almost two hundred years later, however, we do have the very extensive writings of Philo, a contemporary of Jesus Christ and of St.

Paul, another Greek-speaking Jew from the Diaspora. Philo seems to have belonged to a prominent and wealthy Jewish family of Alexandria. We know little about his life other than what can be gleaned from his numerous works, a large part of which are devoted to the explanation of the Scriptures.

It is clear that he had re- ceived the best kind of education then available in the Hellenistic world, but he remained a convinced and faithful Jew. He appears to have func- tioned as a rabbi an institution then developing in the Alexandrian Jewish community, then one of the largest and most flourishing in the Di- aspora.

We know that he was sent to Rome in about a. Philo produced numerous treatises on themes in the law of Moses, such as the cherubim, the sacrifices of Abel and Cain, the confusion of languages and the migration of Abraham. He also cites some of the prophets. Fortress, The ex- pression also has an ethical sense, because, just as the face is the dominant part of the body, so is the intellect the dominant part of the soul and God gives his spirit to this part.

In Exodus But nothing is dis- puted with God. He needs no other witness, for there is no other god who is his peer. And so it is that while with us the oath gives warrant for our sincerity, it is itself guaranteed by God.

For the oath does not make God trustworthy; it is God that assures the oath. The more general reflection that follows is worth quoting in full. In us the mortal is the chief ingredient. We cannot get outside ourselves in forming our ideas; we cannot escape our inborn infirmities. We creep within our covering of mortality, like snails into their shells, or like the hedgehog we roll ourselves into a ball, and we think of the blessed and the immortal in terms of our own natures.

And therefore we invent for Him hands and feet, incomings and outgoings, enmities, aver- sions, estrangements, anger, in fact such parts and passions as can never belong [anoikeia] to the Cause. And of such is the oath—a mere crutch for our weakness. No human limitations or failings can be attributed to God.

All pas- sages in the Scriptures that seem to attribute human form or passions to God must be interpreted in such a way that the meaning is one worthy of God or suited to the divine nature.

Commenting on a different passage where God is said to have sworn an oath, Philo defends the fittingness of the assertion. In Genesis Inasmuch as you have carried out this matter and for my sake have not spared your beloved son, I will indeed bless you with blessings, and I will make your offspring as nu- merous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is by the seashore.

For who else would be capable of bearing witness to Him? Secondly He Himself is to Himself all that is most precious, kinsman, intimate, friend, virtue, happiness, blessedness, knowledge, understanding, beginning, end, whole, everything, judge, decision, counsel, law, process, sovereignty.

Philo returns to the question of attributing passions to God in another work, where he cites Genesis 6: Wright, eds. Oxford University Press, The answer is that he did it for pedagogical reasons. He used them to teach and admonish those who could not understand more abstract ways of thinking. Philo explains that all of the commands and prohibitions in the law of Moses must be under- stood in the light of two principles. The words of Genesis 6: To think of God in terms of human qualities is not only intellectually mistaken but also morally reprehensible.

As Philo sees it, all the admonitions and exhortations in the law refer either to loving or fearing God. The difference between these is directly connected to having the correct conception of God: To fear is most suitable for the others. To suppose that such things took place literally would be impious.

It was presumed that the text must have a deeper meaning. In Genesis 8: A more anthropomorphic and anthropopathic depiction of God can hardly be imagined. Both human senses and human passions are attributed to God as well as the idea that God changes his mind.

Philo deals with the passage by noting that the idea of repentance on the part of God is a passion in- compatible anoikeion with the divine power.

Human decisions are weak and unstable, since their affairs are full of uncertainty. This happy Being does not admit of any resemblance or comparison. He is above all, even of happiness and all that is superior. In Genesis 16 Sarah, who has not be able to bear children to Abraham, offers her slave girl named Hagar to Abraham and tells him to beget children by her.

Abraham does so and Hagar becomes pregnant. She complains to Abraham, who permits her to mistreat Hagar, who then runs away. For Philo such a story was not edifying and cried out for an interpretation to give it meaning and justify its inclusion in Scripture. Abraham is the embodiment of the seeker after wisdom and virtue, and Hagar symbolizes the preliminary studies necessary for those who seek wisdom philosophy. This interpre- tation forms part of a more extensive allegory in which the three patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are expressions of three different approaches to the acquisition of wisdom.

Abraham seeks it through learning. His migra- tions are to be understood as steps in receiving a divine teaching. Isaac, the son of Abraham, allegorically represents the intellect, and Sara, repre- senting virtue, becomes the symbol of the autodidact.

Jacob represents the figure of the ascetic or the one who engages in the acquisition of virtue through practice. Philo, Deus For grammar teaches us to study literature in the poets and historians, and will thus produce intel- ligence and wealth of knowledge. It will teach us also to despise the vain delusions of our empty imagination by shewing us the calamities which heroes and demi-gods who are celebrated in such literature are said to have undergone.

They are symbolized by Hagar, who is the handmaid of virtue. Philo sums it up in this statement: This could be fitted into the allegory as well. The studies represented by Hagar are preliminary studies and not ends in themselves, as is wisdom. It is important not to lose sight of the goal, and so Philo notes: Philo is able to summarize the teaching of the story thus: For philosophy is the practice or study of wisdom, and wisdom is the knowledge of things divine and human and their causes.

And therefore just as the culture of the schools is the bond-servant of philosophy, so must philosophy be the servant of wisdom. Philo, using etymological meanings as- cribed to the Hebrew names, had interpreted the two names Jacob and Israel to represent two aspects of the spiritual life, the struggle against vice and the contemplative life.

Philo based this interpre- tation on the story of the birth of Jacob in Genesis In order to arrive at the vision of God it is necessary to struggle against the passions and vices represented by Esau. He arrives at his meaning through deduction: What city?

For the existing holy city, where the sacred temple also is, does not stand in the neighbourhood of rivers any more than of the sea. Thus it is clear that he writes to show us allegorically something different from the obvious.

In another sense he uses this name for the soul of the Sage, in which God is said to walk as in a city. For what grander or holier house could we find for God in the whole range of exis- tence than the vision-seeking mind, the mind which is eager to see all things and never even in its dreams has a wish for faction or turmoil?

He comments on the number seven: Of Him 7 may be fitly said to the a symbol. Evidence of what I say is supplied by Philolaus [a Greek philosopher] in these words: Shutt, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. Charlesworth Pea- body, MA: Philo of Alexandria seems to be the first to use the latter term, which excludes anger on the part of God.

Philo exercised an enormous influence on early Christian interpretation. Ronald E. Heine Washington, DC: Beale and D. Baker Academic, ; R. France, Jesus and the Old Testament: InterVarsity Press, ; Richard N.

Hendrickson, ; Kenneth Berding and Jonathan Lunde, eds. Zondervan, Many of these scriptural texts cited in the New Testament were actually reinterpreted or given a new meaning in the light of the teaching and life of Jesus. The old scriptural texts were used to interpret the figure of Jesus Christ, but in the process they were also given new meaning by the figure of Jesus. The authors of the New Testament wanted to show conti- nuity, but they also wanted to show the superiority of the teaching of Jesus and of the new covenant generally.

Here we can touch only on a few places where they show the latter. It has been asserted that there is never any suggestion in the Gospels that Jesus opposed the Torah and that the conflicts portrayed always have to do with the correct interpretation of Scripture as opposed to misunder- standing or false application of the law by other teachers. When Jesus is quoted in Matthew 5: This is a strong assertion, indeed, a huge innovation, which his opponents certainly would have seen as a new and unacceptable teaching, indeed, a major source of conflict.

Mohr, , p. It is hardly sur- prising, then, that many early Christian writers came to regard Jesus as the key with which to interpret the Old Testament Scriptures, especially those that had not already received an interpretation in the New Testament.

He means not only those words that formed his teaching after the incarnation but also Moses and the prophets, who were filled with the spirit of Christ. In other words, our in- terest here is in how these texts were understood and used by the early Christian interpreters to guide their own interpretations.

The texts assembled in this chapter are meant to illus- trate that process. For the most part, the texts are presented with little or no commentary in the belief that they can speak for themselves.

In the second occurrence of this teaching, Jesus is presented using the principle of inter- preting Scripture by means of Scripture.

The principle is based on the pre- supposition that God is the principal author of all the Scriptures. In this case, he cites Genesis against Deuteronomy. Genesis, also written down by Moses, is quoted as having priority over later laws given by Moses. In all things our Lord and Savior reforms for the better the justice of the ancient law.

Indeed, it seems that long ago a license for divorce was granted by Moses on tenuous grounds to the Jewish people who were living licen- tiously and serving their pleasures. This was due not to the system of law but to the unbridled pleasure of a carnal people unable to uphold the right- eousness of the law according to rigorous standards.

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This concession was allowed, according to what the Lord himself said in another place in his reply to the inquiring Sadducees. And now, not without good reason does our Lord and Savior, with that license removed, restore the precepts of his former constitution.

For he orders that chaste wedlock be preserved by indissoluble law, showing that the law of marriage was first instituted by himself. How can one who is meek and a peacemaker and poor in spirit and merciful cast out his wife? How can one who reconciles be alienated from her that is his own? Even in this case he makes one exception: By not committing forni- cation he will give no occasion that they should become alienated. Thus you see Jesus presses his point without reserve and builds up this fear as a bulwark, urging on the husband great danger, who if he does cast her out, makes himself accountable for her adultery.

In Matthew Origen testifies to the ongoing nature of the dispute in his own time. We are accused by the Jews and Ebionites8 of being violators of the laws that we read in Leviticus and Deuteronomy concerning clean and unclean food. But by means of what is said in this passage we are clearly taught by the Savior not to think that the simple meaning of these laws is the aim in- tended in the Scripture.

Since all this is so, it is obvious that we are not defiled when we eat things that are said to be unclean by Jews, who want to serve the letter of the law. On the basis of early Christian asser- tions, they are thought to have accepted Jesus as Messiah, but not as divine, and to have insisted on the observance of Jewish dietary laws. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!

The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! Mt John Chrysostom: For Jonah was a servant, but I am the Master; and he came forth from the great fish, but I rose from death.

He proclaimed de- struction, but I am come preaching the good tidings of the kingdom. The Ninevites indeed believed without a sign, but I have exhibited many signs. They heard nothing more than those words, but I have made it impossible to deny the truth. The Ninevites came to be ministered to, but I, the very Master and Lord of all, have come not threatening, not demanding an ac- count, but bringing pardon.

They were barbarians, but these—the faithful— have conversed with unnumbered prophets. And of Jonah nothing had been prophesied in advance, but of me everything was foretold, and all the 10 Fragment ; GCS And Jonah indeed, when he was to go forth, instead ran away that he might not be ridiculed.

But I, knowing that I am both to be crucified and mocked, have come nonetheless. While Jonah did not endure so much as to be reproached for those who were saved, I underwent even death, and that the most shameful death, and after this I sent others again. And Jonah was a strange sort of person and an alien to the Ninevites, and unknown; but I a kinsman after the flesh and of the same forefathers.

If Jonah then is taken as a type of Christ, he is not so taken in every respect—he was sent to preach to the Ninevites, but he sought to flee from the presence of God Jon 1: And he is seen to shrink from going to the east. The Son also was sent from God the Father to preach to the nations, but he was not unwilling to assume this ministry. The prophet appeals to those sailing with him to throw him into the sea Jon 1: But he was embittered beyond measure when God took pity upon the Nin- evites.

Christ willingly submitted to death, he remained in the heart of the earth, he came back to life and afterward went up to Galilee and com- manded that the preaching to the Gentiles should begin. But he was not grieved to see that those who were called to acknowledge the truth were being saved.

You must listen to whatever he tells you. And all the prophets, as many as have 11 Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew He is a prophet and lawgiver for all the nations the Gentiles in contrast to Moses, the lawgiver of the Jews. He speaks of Christ in a riddle. He orders his followers to obey him in these prophetic words. And that this prophet, who is clearly the Christ, should come forth from the Jews and rule all nations, he proclaims again when he says: These, then, are the reasons why we have accepted and loved as belonging to ourselves the sacred books of the Hebrews, including as they do proph- ecies relating to us Gentiles.

And the more so, since it was not Moses only who foretold the coming of the Lawgiver of the Gentiles after him, but really the whole succession of the prophets, who proclaimed the same truth 13 ComJn; FC Yet Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.

For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. The letter to the Hebrews asserts most clearly that Jesus is superior to Moses and all the Old Testament figures, including the patriarchs. He is the priest according to the order of Melchizedek and is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament institutions in himself.

Both John Chrysostom and Ephrem underline this superiority. Being about to place him before Moses in comparison, Paul led his discourses to the law of the high priesthood; for they all had a high esteem for Moses. Therefore he begins from the flesh and goes up to the Godhead, where there was no longer any comparison.

For although they were believers, yet nevertheless they still had strong feeling of conscience as to Moses. Ferrar London: Macmillan, , pp. The conflict over the Gentile mission led to his polemic against imposing the law on the Gentiles in Galatians and Romans.

His arguments in his letters to the Galatians and the Romans go beyond expediency and assert that the law of Moses as a code of observances is no longer valid.