January 23, 2007

Origen on the Deep Weird

Category: Bible :: Permalink

As Jim Jordan has pointed out, you can’t read very far in Scripture without encountering something that makes you say, “Huh.  I wonder what that‘s doing there.”  You’re reading about Jacob wrestling with the Angel, which is strange enough, but you can handle it.  And then you reach the end of the story and find out that because the Angel touched Jacob on the hip and caused his muscle to shrink, the children of Israel don’t eat the corresponding muscle on any animal they killed.  “What’s that all about?” you ask.  And if you start to think about it, it’s not long before you’re off into the deep weird.

Well, that’s nothing new.  I learned today that Origen, in his ninth homily on Genesis, pointed this out as he talked about the wonders of God’s Word:

The further we progress in reading, the greater grows the accumulation of mysteries for us.  And just as if someone should embark on the sea borne by a small boat, as long as he is near land he has little to fear.  But, when he has advanced little by little into the deep and has begun to be lifted on high by the swelling waves or brought down to the depths by the same gaping waves then truly great fear and terror permeate his mind because he has entrusted a small craft to such immense waves.  So also we seem to have suffered, who, small in merits and slight in ability, dare to enter so vast a sea of mysteries (cited in Peter Leithart, The Kingdom and the Power, p. xiv).

And that’s exactly how I feel as I preach my way through Genesis 1.

Posted by John Barach @ 6:07 pm | Discuss (0)

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