(c. 185-254)

The Mystical Interpretation
of the Scriptures


 The Breviary of Martin of Aragon
 Roth 2529, 15th c, fol. 369


(1) EXEGESIS (De Principiis) - Basic & Body/Soul/Spirit;   (2) HEAVEN (De Principiis);
(3) LOVE (Prl.Com.SoS) Wound, Eros;   (4) EXEGESIS (Prl.Com.SoS) Ethics/Physics/Enoptics


English: ANF v. IV, pp. 349-374.  Greek: TLG 2042; De principiis ed. H. Görgemanns, H. Karpp, Origenes vier Bücher von den Prinzipien (Darmstadt, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft: 1976)  

(1) EXEGESIS (De Principiis)  » cont

(1)   BODY/SOUL/SPIRIT of Scripture

De Principiis, Book IV, Ch. I


        7. It would be tedious now to enumerate the most ancient prophecies respecting each future event, in order that the doubter, being impressed by their divinity, may lay aside all hesitation and distraction, and devote himself with his whole soul to the words of God.

4.1.7 Πολὺ δ᾽ ἂν εἴη νῦν ἀναλέγεσθαι τὰς περὶ ἑκάστου τῶν μελλόντων ἀρχαιοτάτας προφητείας, ἵνα δι᾽ αὐτῶν ὁ ἀμφιβάλλων πληχθεὶς ὡς ἐνθέων, διψυχίαν πᾶσαν καὶ περισπασμὸν ἀποθέμενος, ὅλῃ ἑαυτὸν ἐπιδῷ τῇ ψυχῇ τοῖς λόγοις τοῦ θεοῦ.
But if in every part of the Scriptures the superhuman element of thoughts does not seem to present itself to the uninstructed, that is not at all wonderful; εἰ δὲ μὴ καθ  ἕκαστον τῶν γραμμάτων τοῖς ἀνεπιστήμοσι προσπίπτειν δοκεῖ τὸ ὑπὲρ ἄνθρωπον τῶν νοημάτων, θαυμαστὸν οὐδέν·
for, with respect to the works of that providence which embraces the whole world, some show with the utmost clearness that they are works of providence, while others are so concealed as to seem to furnish ground for unbelief with respect to that God who orders all things with unspeakable skill and power. καὶ γὰρ ἐπὶ τῶν τῆς ἁπτομένης τοῦ παντὸς κόσμου προνοίας ἔργων, τινὰ μὲν ἐναργέστατα φαίνεται, ᾗ προνοίας ἐστὶν ἔργα, ἕτερα δὲ οὕτως ἀποκέκρυπται, ὡς ἀπιστίας χώραν παρέχειν δοκεῖν τῆς περὶ τοῦ τέχνῃ ἀφάτῳ καὶ δυνάμει διοικοῦντος τὰ ὅλα θεοῦ.¨



        For the artistic plan  of a providential Ruler is not so evident in those matters belonging to the earth, as in the case of the sun, and moon, and stars; and not so clear in what relates to human occurrences, as it is in the souls and bodies of animals, — the object and reason of the impulses, and phantasies and natures of animals, and the structure of their bodies, being carefully ascertained by those who attend to these things.  But as (the doctrine of) providence is not at all weakened  (on account of those things which are not understood) in the eyes of those who have once honestly accepted it, so neither is the divinity of Scripture, which extends to the whole of it,

οὐχ οὕτω γὰρ σαφὴς ὁ περὶ τοῦ προνοοῦντος τεχνικὸς λόγος ἐν τοῖς ἐπὶ γῆς, ὡς ἐν ἡλίῳ καὶ σελήνῃ καὶ ἄστροις· καὶ οὐχ οὕτω δῆλος ἐν τοῖς κατὰ τὰ ἀνθρώπινα συμπτώματα, ὡς ἐν ταῖς ψυχαῖς καὶ τοῖς σώμασι τῶν ζώων, σφόδρα τοῦ πρὸς τί καὶ ἕνεκα τίνος εὑρισκομένου τοῖς τούτων ἐπιμελομένοις περὶ τὰς ὁρμὰς καὶ τὰς φαντασίας καὶ φύσεις τῶν ζώων καὶ τὰς κατασκευὰς τῶν σωμάτων. ἀλλ᾽ ὥσπερ οὐ χρεοκοπεῖται ἡ πρόνοια διὰ τὰ μὴ γινωσκόμενα παρὰ τοῖς γε ἅπαξ παραδεξαμένοις αὐτὴν καλῶς, οὕτως οὐδὲ ἡ τῆς γραφῆς θειότης διατείνουσα εἰς πᾶσαν αὐτήν,  ᾽
(lost) on account of the inability of our weakness to discover in EVERY EXPRESSION THE HIDDEN SPLENDOR of the DOCTRINES veiled in common and unattractive phraseology. διὰ τὸ μὴ καθ ἑκάστην λέξιν δύνασθαι τὴν ἀσθένειαν ἡμῶν παρίστασθαι τῇ κεκρυμμένῃ λαμπρότητι τῶν δογμάτων ἐν εὐτελεῖ καὶ εὐκαταφρονήτῳ λέξει ἀποκειμένῃ.

        9. Now the cause, in all the points previously enumerated, of the false opinions, and of the impious statements or ignorant assertions  about God, appears to be nothing else than the not understanding the Scripture according to its spiritual meaning, but the interpretation of it agreeably to the mere letter. And therefore, to those who believe that the sacred books are not the compositions of men, but that they were composed by inspiration  of the Holy Spirit, agreeably to the will of the Father of all things through Jesus Christ, and that they have come down to us, we must point out the ways (of interpreting them) which appear (correct) to us, who cling to the standard  of the heavenly Church of Jesus Christ according to the succession of the apostles.

4.2.2 Αἰτία δὲ πᾶσι τοῖς προειρημένοις ψευδοδοξιῶν καὶ ἀσεβειῶν ἢ ἰδιωτικῶν περὶ θεοῦ λόγων οὐκ ἄλλη τις εἶναι δοκεῖ ἢ ἡ γραφὴ κατὰ τὰ πνευματικὰ μὴ νενοημένη, ἀλλ᾽ ὡς πρὸς τὸ ψιλὸν γράμμα ἐξειλημμένη. διόπερ τοῖς πειθομένοις μὴ ἀνθρώπων εἶναι συγγράμματα τὰς ἱερὰς βίβλους, ἀλλ᾽ ἐξ ἐπιπνοίας τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος βουλήματι τοῦ πατρὸς τῶν ὅλων διαἸησοῧ Χριστοῦ ταύτας ἀναγεγράφθαι καὶ εἰς ἡμᾶς ἐληλυθέναι, τὰς φαινομένας ὁδοὺς ὑποδεικτέον, ἐχομένοις τοῦ κανόνος τῆς̈Ἰησοῧ Χριστοῦ κατὰ διαδοχὴν τῶν ἀποστόλων οὐρανίου ἐκκλησίας.


Scandals in the Text 


        Now, that there are certain mystical economies made known by the holy Scriptures, all — even the most simple of those who adhere to the word — have believed; but what these are, candid and modest individuals confess that they know not. If, then, one were to be perplexed about the intercourse of Lot with his daughters, and about the two wives of Abraham, and the two sisters married to Jacob, and the two handmaids who bore him children, they can return no other answer than this, that these are mysteries not understood by us.

Καὶ ὅτι μὲν οἰκονομίαι τινές εἰσι μυστικαί, δηλούμεναι διὰ τῶν θείων γραφῶν, πάντες καὶ οἱ ἀκεραιότατοι τῶν τῷ λόγῳ προσιόντων πεπιστεύκασι· τίνες δὲ αὗται, οἱ εὐγνώμονες καὶ ἄτυφοι ὁμολογοῦσι μὴ εἰδέναι. εἰ γοῦν ἐπαπορήσαι τις περὶ τῆς τοῧ Λὼτ θυγατρομιξίας καὶ τῶν δύο γυναικῶν τοῧἈβραὰμ δύο τε ἀδελφῶν γεγαμημένων τῷ ̈Ἰακὼβ καὶ δύο παιδισκῶν τετεκνωκυιῶν ἐξ αὐτοῦ, οὐδὲν ἄλλο φήσουσιν ἢ μυστήρια ταῦτα τυγχάνειν ὑφ᾽ ἡμῶν μὴ νοούμενα.




        11. The way, then, as it appears to us, in which we ought to deal with the Scriptures, and extract from them their meaning, is the following, which has been ascertained from the Scriptures themselves.

4.2.4̈̈Ἡ τοίνυν φαινομένη ἡμῖν ὁδὸς τοῦ πῶς δεῖ ἐντυγχάνειν ταῖς γραφαῖς καὶ τὸν νοῦν αὐτῶν ἐκλαμβάνειν ἐστὶ τοιαύτη, ἀπ᾽ αὐτῶν τῶν λογίων ἐξιχνευομένη.

        By Solomon in the Proverbs we find some such rule as this enjoined respecting the divine doctrines of Scripture:  “And do thou portray them in a threefold manner, in counsel and knowledge, to answer words of truth to them who propose them to thee.” 

παρὰ τῷ̈ Σολομῶντι ἐν ταῖς̈ Παροιμίαις εὑρίσκομεν τοιοῦτόν τι προστασσόμενον περὶ τῶν γεγραμμένων θείων δογμάτων· < καὶ σὺ δὲ ἀπόγραψαι αὐτὰ τρισσῶς ἐν βουλῇ καὶ γνώσει, τοῦ ἀποκρίνασθαι λόγους ἀληθείας τοῖς προβαλλομένοις σοι >.
The individual ought, then, to portray the ideas of holy Scripture in a threefold manner upon his own soul; in order that the simple man may be edified:  οὐκοῦν τριχῶς ἀπογράφεσθαι δεῖ εἰς τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ψυχὴν τὰ τῶν ἁγίων γραμμάτων νοήματα· ἵνα ὁ μὲν ἁπλούστερος οἰκοδομῆταϊ
   (1) by the “FLESH,” as it were, of the Scripture, for so we name the obvious sense ἀπὸ τῆς οἱονεὶ σαρκὸς τῆς γραφῆς, οὕτως ὀνομαζόντων ἡμῶν τὴν πρόχειρον ἐκδοχήν,
   (2) while he who has ascended a certain way (may be edified)  by the “soul,” as it were. ̈ὁ δὲ ἐπὶ ποσὸν ἀναβεβηκὼς ἀπὸ τῆς ὡσπερεὶ ψυχῆς αὐτῆς,

   (3) The perfect man, again, and he who resembles those spoken of by the apostle, when he says, “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect, but not the wisdom of the world, nor of the rulers of this world, who come to naught; but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God hath ordained before the ages, unto our glory,”  (may receive edification) from the spiritual law, which has a shadow of good things to come.

ὁ δὲ τέλειος καὶ ὅμοιος τοῖς παρὰ τῷ ἀποστόλῳ λεγομένοις· < σοφίαν δὲ λαλοῦμεν ἐν τοῖς τελείοις, σοφίαν δὲ οὐ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου οὐδὲ τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου τῶν καταργουμένων, ἀλλὰ λαλοῦμεν θεοῦ σοφίαν ἐν μυστηρίῳ τὴν ἀποκεκρυμμένην, ἣν προώρισεν ὁ θεὸς πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων εἰς δόξαν ἡμῶν >, ἀπὸ < τοῦ πνευματικοῦ νόμου >, < σκιὰν περιέχοντος τῶν μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν >.

For as man consists of body, and soul, and spirit, so in the same way does Scripture, which has been arranged to be given by God for the salvation of men. […]

ὥσπερ γὰρ ὁ ἄνθρωπος συνέστηκεν ἐκ σώματος καὶ ψυχῆς καὶ πνεύματος, τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον καὶ ἡ οἰκονομηθεῖσα ὑπὸ θεοῦ εἰς ἀνθρώπων σωτηρίαν δοθῆναι γραφή.

        12. But as there are certain passages of Scripture which do not at all contain the “corporeal” sense, as we shall show in the following (paragraphs), there are also places where we must seek only for the “soul,” as it were, and “spirit” of Scripture. And perhaps on this account the water-vessels containing two or three firkins apiece are said to lie for the purification of the Jews, as we read in the Gospel according to John: the expression darkly intimating, with respect to those who (are called) by the apostle “Jews” secretly, that they are purified by the word of Scripture, receiving sometimes two firkins, i.e., so to speak, the “psychical” and “spiritual” sense; and sometimes three firkins, since some have, in addition to those already mentioned, also the “corporeal” sense, which is capable of (producing) edification. And six water-vessels are reasonably (appropriate) to those who are purified in the world, which was made in six days — the perfect number.

4.2.5 Ἀλλ᾽ ἐπεί εἰσί τινες γραφαὶ τὸ σωματικὸν οὐδαμῶς ἔχουσαι, ὡς ἐν τοῖς ἑξῆς δείξομεν, ἔστιν ὅπου οἱονεὶ τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς γραφῆς μόνα χρὴ ζητεῖν. καὶ τάχα διὰ τοῦτο αἱ < ἐπὶ καθαρισμῷ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ὑδρίαι κεῖσθαι > λεγόμεναι, ὡς ἐν τῷ κατα Ἰωάννην εὐαγγελίῳ ἀνέγνωμεν, < χωροῦσιν ἀνὰ μετρητὰς δύο ἢ τρεῖς >· αἰνισσομένου τοῦ λόγου περὶ τῶν παρὰ τῷ ἀποστόλῳ < ἐν κρυπτῷἸουδαίων >, ὡς ἄρα οὗτοι καθαρίζονται διὰ τοῦ λόγου τῶν γραφῶν, ὅπου μὲν < δύο μετρητάς >, τὸν ἵν᾽ οὕτως εἴπω ψυχικὸν καὶ τὸν πνευματικὸν λόγον, χωρούντων, ὅπου δὲ < τρεῖς >, ἐπεί τινες ἔχουσι πρὸς τοῖς προειρημένοις καὶ τὸ σωματικὸν οἰκοδομῆσαι δυνάμενον. < ἓξ > δὲ < ὑδρίαι > εὐλόγως εἰσὶ τοῖς ἐν κόσμῳ καθαριζομένοις, γεγενημένῳ ἐν ἓξ ἡμέραις, ἀριθμῷ τελείῳ.̈

        (1) That the first “sense,” then, is profitable in this respect, that it is capable of imparting edification, is testified by the multitudes of genuine and simple believers;

4.2.6̈̈Ἀπὸ μὲν οὖν τῆς πρώτης ἐκδοχῆς καὶ κατὰ τοῦτο ὠφελούσης ὅτι ἔστιν ὄνασθαι, μαρτυρεῖ τὰ πλήθη τῶν γνησίως καὶ ἁπλούστερον πεπιστευκότων·

        (2) while of that interpretation which is referred back to the “soul,” there is an illustration in Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians. The expression is, “You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the corn;”  to which he adds, “Does God take care of oxen? or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this was written: that he who ploughs should plough in hope, and that he who threshes, in hope of partaking.” 

τῆς δὲ ὡς ἂν εἰς ψυχὴν ἀναγομένης διηγήσεως παράδειγμα τὸ παρὰ τῷ̈ Παύλῳ ἐν τῇ πρώτῃ πρὸς̈ Κορινθίους κείμενον. < γέγραπται γάρ· > φησιν < οὐ φιμώσεις βοῦν ἀλοῶντα >. ἔπειτα διηγούμενος τοῦτον τὸν νόμον ἐπιφέρει· < μὴ τῶν βοῶν μέλει τῷ θεῷ; ἢ δι᾽ ἡμᾶς πάντως λέγει; δι᾽ ἡμᾶς γὰρ ἐγράφη, ὅτι ὀφείλει ἐπ᾽ ἐλπίδι ὁ ἀροτριῶν ἀροτριᾶν καὶ ὁ ἀλοῶν ἐπ᾽ ἐλπίδι τοῦ μετέχειν >.

        And there are numerous interpretations adapted to the multitude which are in circulation, and which edify those who are unable to understand profounder meanings, and which have somewhat the same character.

καὶ πλεῖσται δὲ περιφερόμεναι τοῖς πλήθεσιν ἁρμόζουσαι ἑρμηνεῖαι καὶ οἰκοδομοῦσαι τοὺς ὑψηλοτέρων ἀκούειν μὴ δυναμένους τὸν αὐτόν πως ἔχουσι χαρακτῆρα.

        13. But the interpretation is (3) SPIRITUAL,” when one is able to show of what heavenly things the Jews “according to the flesh” served as an example and a shadow, and of what future blessings the law contains a shadow. And, generally, we must investigate, according to the apostolic promise, “the wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world for the glory” of the just, which “none of the princes of this world knew.” […]

Πνευματικὴ δὲ διήγησις τῷ δυναμένῳ ἀποδεῖξαι, ποίων < ἐπουρανίων ὑποδείγματι καὶ σκιᾷ > οἱ < κατὰ σάρκα >Ἰουδαῖοι < ἐλάτρευον >, καὶ τίνων < μελλόντων ἀγαθῶν ὁ νόμος ἔχει σκιάν >. καὶ ἁπαξαπλῶς ἐπὶ πάντων κατὰ τὴν ἀποστολικὴν ἐπαγγελίαν ζητητέον < σοφίαν ἐν μυστηρίῳ τὴν ἀποκεκρυμμένην, ἣν προώρισεν ὁ θεὸς πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων εἰς δόξαν τῶν δικαίων, ἣν οὐδεὶς τῶν ἀρχόντων τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου ἔγνωκε >.

        14. This being the state of the case, we have to sketch what seem to us to be the marks of the (true) understanding of Scriptures. And, in the first place, this must be pointed out, that the object of the Spirit, which by the providence of God, through the Word who was in the beginning with God, illuminated the ministers of truth, the prophets and apostles, was especially (the communication) of ineffable mysteries regarding the affairs of men (now by men I mean those souls that make use of bodies), in order that he who is capable of instruction may by investigation, and by devoting himself to the study of the profundities of meaning contained in the words, become a participator of all the doctrines of his counsel. And among those matters which relate to souls (who cannot otherwise obtain perfection apart from the rich and wise truth of God), the (doctrines) belonging to God and His only-begotten Son are necessarily laid down as primary, viz., of what nature He is, and in what manner He is the Son of God, and what are the causes of His descending even to (the assumption of) human flesh, and of complete humanity; and what, also, is the operation of this (Son), and upon whom and when exercised.

4.2.7 Τούτων οὕτως ἐχόντων τοὺς φαινομένους ἡμῖν χαρακτῆρας τῆς νοήσεως τῶν γραφῶν ὑποτυπωτέον. καὶ πρῶτόν γε τοῦτο ὑποδεικτέον, ὅτι ὁ σκοπὸς τῷ φωτίζοντι πνεύματι προνοίᾳ θεοῦ διὰ τοῦ < ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν λόγου > τοὺς διακόνους τῆς ἀληθείας, προφήτας καὶ ἀποστόλους, ἦν προηγουμένως μὲν ὁ περὶ τῶν ἀπορρήτων μυστηρίων τῶν κατὰ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους πραγμάτων̈ [ἀνθρώπους δὲ νῦν λέγω τὰς χρωμένας ψυχὰς σώμασιν ἵν ὁ δυνάμενος̈ διδαχθῆναι < ἐρευνήσας > καὶ < τοῖς βάθεσι > τοῦ νοῦ τῶν λέξεων ἑαυτὸν ἐπιδούς, κοινωνὸς τῶν ὅλων τῆς βουλῆς αὐτοῦ γένηται δογμάτων. εἰς δὲ τὰ περὶ τῶν ψυχῶν, οὐκ ἄλλως δυναμένων τῆς τελειότητος τυχεῖν χωρὶς τῆς πλουσίας καὶ σοφῆς περὶ θεοῦ ἀληθείας, τὰ περὶ θεοῦ ἀναγκαίως ὡς προηγούμενα τέτακται καὶ τοῦ μονογενοῦς αὐτοῦ· ποίας ἐστὶ φύσεως, καὶ τίνα τρόπον υἱὸς τυγχάνει θεοῦ, καὶ τίνες αἱ αἰτίαι τοῦ μέχρι σαρκὸς ἀνθρωπίνης αὐτὸν καταβεβηκέναι καὶ πάντη ἄνθρωπον ἀνειληφέναι, τίς τε καὶ ἡ τούτου ἐνέργεια, καὶ εἰς τίνας καὶ πότε γινομένη.

        And it was necessary also that the subject of kindred beings, and other rational creatures, both those who are divine and those who have fallen from blessedness, together with the reasons of their fall, should be contained in the divine teaching; and also that of the diversities of souls, and of the origin of these diversities, and of the nature of the world, and the cause of its existence. We must learn also the origin of the great and terrible wickedness which overspreads the earth, and whether it is confined to this earth only, or prevails elsewhere.

ἀναγκαίως δὲ ὡς περὶ συγγενῶν καὶ τῶν ἄλλων λογικῶν, θειοτέρων τε καὶ ἐκπεπτωκότων τῆς μακαριότητος, καὶ τῶν αἰτίων τῆς τούτων ἐκπτώσεως, ἐχρῆν εἰς τοὺς λόγους τῆς θείας ἀνειλῆφθαι διδασκαλίας, καὶ περὶ τῆς διαφορᾶς τῶν ψυχῶν, καὶ πόθεν αἱ διαφοραὶ αὗται ἐληλύθασι, τίς τε ὁ κόσμος καὶ διὰ τί ὑπέστη, ἔτι δὲ πόθεν ἡ κακία τοσαύτη καὶ τηλικαύτη ἐστὶν ἐπὶ γῆς, καὶ εἰ μὴ μόνον ἐπὶ γῆς, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀλλαχοῦ, ἀναγκαῖον ἡμᾶς μαθεῖν.

        Now, while these and similar objects were present to the Spirit, who enlightened the souls of the holy ministers of the truth, there was a second object, for the sake of those who were unable to endure the fatigue of investigating matters so important, viz., to conceal the doctrine relating to the previously mentioned subjects, in expressions containing a narrative which conveyed an announcement regarding the things of the visible creation,  the creation of man, and the successive descendants of the first men until they became numerous; and other histories relating the acts of just men, and the sins occasionally committed by these same men as being human beings, and the wicked deeds, both of unchastity and vice, committed by sinful and ungodly men.

4.2.8 Τούτων δὴ καὶ τῶν παραπλησίων προκειμένων τῷ φωτίζοντι πνεύματι τὰς τῶν ἁγίων ὑπηρετῶν τῆς ἀληθείας ψυχάς, δεύτερος ἦν σκοπὸς διὰ τοὺς μὴ δυναμένους τὸν κάματον ἐνεγκεῖν ὑπὲρ τοῦ τὰ τηλικαῦτα εὑρεῖν, κρύψαι τὸν περὶ τῶν προειρημένων λόγον ἐν λέξεσιν ἐμφαινούσαις διήγησιν περιέχουσαν ἀπαγγελίαν τὴν περὶ τῶν αἰσθητῶν δημιουργημάτων καὶ ἀνθρώπου κτίσεως καὶ τῶν ἐκ τῶν πρώτων κατὰ διαδοχὴν μέχρι πολλῶν γεγενημένων, καὶ ἄλλαις ἱστορίαις ἀπαγγελλούσαις δικαίων πράξεις καὶ τῶν αὐτῶν τούτων ποτὲ γενόμενα ἁμαρτήματα ὡς ἀνθρώπων καὶ ἀνόμων καὶ ἀσεβῶν πονηρίας καὶ ἀκολασίας καὶ πλεονεξίας.

        15. But since, if the usefulness of the legislation, and the sequence and beauty  of the history, were universally evident of itself,  we should not believe that any other thing could be understood in the Scriptures save what was obvious, the word of God has arranged that certain stumbling-blocks, as it were, and offenses, and impossibilities, should be introduced into the midst of the law and the history, in order that we may not, through being drawn away in all directions by the merely attractive nature of the language,  either altogether fall away from the (true) doctrines, as learning nothing worthy of God, or, by not departing from the letter, come to the knowledge of nothing more divine.

 4.2.9 Ἀλλ᾽ ἐπείπερ, εἰ δι᾽ ὅλων σαφῶς τὸ τῆς νομοθεσίας χρήσιμον αὐτόθεν ἐφαίνετο καὶ τὸ τῆς ἱστορίας ἀκόλουθον καὶ γλαφυρόν, ἠπιστήσαμεν ἂν ἄλλο τι παρὰ τὸ πρόχειρον νοεῖσθαι δύνασθαι ἐν ταῖς γραφαῖς, ᾠκονόμησέ τινα οἱονεὶ < σκάνδαλα > καὶ < προσκόμματα > καὶ < ἀδύνατα > διὰ μέσου ἐγκαταταχθῆναι τῷ νόμῳ καὶ τῇ ἱστορίᾳ ὁ καὶ < ἀδύνατα > διὰ μέσου ἐγκαταταχθῆναι τῷ νόμῳ καὶ τῇ ἱστορίᾳ ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγος, ἵνα μὴ πάντη ὑπὸ τῆς λέξεως ἑλκόμενοι τὸ ἀγωγὸν ἄκρατον ἐχούσης, ἤτοι ὡς μηδὲν ἄξιον θεοῦ μανθάνοντες, τέλεον ἀποστῶμεν τῶν δογμάτων, ἢ μὴ κινούμενοι ἀπὸ τοῦ γράμματος μηδὲν θειότερον μάθωμεν.

        And this also we must know, that the principal aim being to announce the “spiritual” connection in those things that are done, and that ought to be done, where the Word found that things done according to the history could be adapted to these mystical senses, He made use of them, concealing from the multitude the deeper meaning; but where, in the narrative of the development of super-sensual things,  there did not follow the performance of those certain events, which was already indicated by the mystical meaning, the Scripture interwove in the history (the account of) some event that did not take place, sometimes what could not have happened; sometimes what could, but did not.

χρὴ δὲ καὶ τοῦτο εἰδέναι, ὅτι τοῦ προηγουμένου σκοποῦ τυγχάνοντος τὸν ἐν τοῖς πνευματικοῖς εἱρμὸν ἀπαγγεῖλαι γεγενημένοις καὶ πρακτέοις, ὅπου μὲν εὗρε γενόμενα κατὰ τὴν ἱστορίαν ὁ λόγος ἐφαρμόσαι δυνάμενα τοῖς μυστικοῖς τούτοις, ἐχρήσατο ἀποκρύπτων ἀπὸ τῶν πολλῶν τὸν βαθύτερον νοῦν· ὅπου δὲ ἐν τῇ διηγήσει τῆς περὶ τῶν νοητῶν ἀκολουθίας οὐχ εἵπετο ἡ τῶνδέ τινων πρᾶξις ἡ προαναγεγραμμένη διὰ τὰ μυστικώτερα, συνύφηνεν ἡ γραφὴ τῇ ἱστορίᾳ τὸ μὴ γενόμενον, πῇ μὲν μηδὲ δυνατὸν γενέσθαι, πῇ δὲ δυνατὸν μὲν γενέσθαι, οὐ μὴν γεγενημένον,

        And sometimes a few words are interpolated which are not true in their literal acceptation,  and sometimes a larger number. And a similar practice also is to be noticed with regard to the legislation, in which is often to be found what is useful in itself, and appropriate to the times of the legislation; and sometimes also what does not appear to be of utility; and at other times impossibilities are recorded for the sake of the more skillful and inquisitive, in order that they may give themselves to the toil of investigating what is written, and thus attain to a becoming conviction of the manner in which a meaning worthy of God must be sought out in such subjects.

χρὴ δὲ καὶ τοῦτο εἰδέναι, ὅτι τοῦ προηγουμένου σκοποῦ τυγχάνοντος τὸν ἐν τοῖς πνευματικοῖς εἱρμὸν ἀπαγγεῖλαι γεγενημένοις καὶ πρακτέοις, ὅπου μὲν εὗρε γενόμενα κατὰ τὴν ἱστορίαν ὁ λόγος ἐφαρμόσαι δυνάμενα τοῖς μυστικοῖς τούτοις, ἐχρήσατο ἀποκρύπτων ἀπὸ τῶν πολλῶν τὸν βαθύτερον νοῦν· ὅπου δὲ ἐν τῇ διηγήσει τῆς περὶ τῶν νοητῶν ἀκολουθίας οὐχ εἵπετο ἡ τῶνδε τινων πρᾶξις ἡ προαναγεγραμμένη διὰ τὰ μυστικώτερα, συνύφηνεν ἡ γραφὴ τῇ ἱστορίᾳ τὸ μὴ γενόμενον, πῇ μὲν μηδὲ δυνατὸν γενέσθαι, πῇ δὲ δυνατὸν μὲν γενέσθαι, οὐ μὴν γεγενημένον,




(2.xi)  (De Principiis)


 On First Principles (Bk. 2.xi )


        6. All this leads us to suppose that no small interval of time may pass before the reason merely of things on earth can be shown to worthy and deserving men after their departure from life, in order that through their acquaintance with it all and the grace of full knowledge they may enjoy an indescribable gladness.

6. Ex quibus omnibus putandum est quod interim non parum temporis transeat, usquequo eorum tantummodo, quae super terram sunt, ratio post uitae abscessum dignis et bene meritis ostendatur, ut per horum omnium agnitionem et plenae scientiae gratiam laetitia inenarrabili perfruantur. 

        So then, if the air between heaven and earth is not devoid of living and even rational beings, as the apostle said, “Wherein in times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of this air, the spirit who now worketh in the children of disobedience”, (Eph. 2:2) and again, “We shall be caught up in the clouds to meet Christ in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord”, (1 Thes 4:17) we must suppose that the saints will remain there for some time, until they learn the reason of the ordering of all that goes on in the air, in its two-fold form.

Tum deinde si aer iste, qui inter caelum terramque est, non est uacuus ab animantibus, et animantibus rationabilibus, sicut et apostolus dixit: In quibus aliquando ambulaslis secundum saeculum mundi huius,195 secundum principem potestatis aeris huius, spiritus qui nunc operalur in filiis diffidentiae, et iterum ait: Rapiemur in nubibus obuiam Christo in aerem, el ila semper cum domino erimus, [6-1 putandum est igitur quod tamdiu sancti ibi permaneant, usquequo utriusque modi rationem dispensationis eorum, quae in aere geruntur, agnoscant.

        By two-fold form I mean, for example; when we were on earth we saw animals or trees and we perceived the differences among them and also the very great diversity among men. But when we saw these things we did not understand the reasons for them; but this alone was suggested to us by the very diversity of what we saw, that we should search out and inquire for what reason all these were created diverse and arranged in such variety;[= providence and judgement] and if we have cherished on earth a zeal and love for this kind of knowledge, there will be given to us after death an acquaintance with and understanding of that reason, if indeed the matter  turns out as we should wish.

Quod autem dixi: utriusque modi, hoc est: uerbi gratia, eum in terris essemus, uidimus uel animalia uel arbores, et differentias eorum perspeximus sed et diuersitatem quam plurimam inter homines; uerum uidentes haec, rationes 205 eorum non intelleximus, sed hoc nobis tantum ex ipsa qua uidimus, diuersitate suggestum est, ut inquiramus et perscrutemur, qua ratione ista omnia uel diuersa fuerint creata uel uarie dispensentur, et concepto in terris huiusce-modi agnitionis uel studio uel amore, dabitur nobis post 210 exitum etiam eognitio eius et intellegentia, si tamen res procedat ex uoto;

When therefore we have comprehended that in its fulness, we shall comprehend in two-fold form the things we saw on earth.

cum ergo conprehenderimus integre eius rationem, tune utroque modo conprehendemus ea, quae uidimus super terram.

        We may speak in some such way also about the abode in the air. I think that the saints as they depart from this life will remain in some place situated on the earth, which the divine scripture calls “paradise”(Gen 2:8; Lk 23:43). This will be a place of instruction and, so to speak, a lecture room or school for souls, in which they may be taught about all that they had seen on earth and may also receive some indications of what is to follow in the future; just as when placed in this life they had obtained certain indications of the future, seen indeed “through a glass darkly”, and yet truly seen “in part”, (2Cor 13:12) which are revealed more clearly and brightly to the saints in their proper times and places.

Tale ergo aliquid etiam de aeria sede dicendum est. Puto enim quod sancti quique discedentes ex hac uita permanebunt in lovo aliquo in terra posito, quem paradisum dicit seriptura diuina, uelut in quodam eruditionis loco et, ut ita dixerim, auditorio uel schola animarum, in quo de omnibus his, quae in terris uiderant, doceantur, indicia quoque quaedam accipiant 220 etiam de consequentibus et futuris, sicut in hac quoque uita positi indicia quaedam futurorum, licet per spetulum et aenigmata, tamen ex aliqua parte conceperant, quae manifestius et lucidius sanctis in suis et locis et temporibus reuelantur.

        If anyone is “pure in heart” (Mt 5:8)  and of unpolluted mind and well-trained understanding he will make swifter progress and quickly ascend to the region of the air, until he reaches the kingdom of the heavens, passing through the series of those “abiding places”, (cf. Jn 14:2) if I may so call them, which the Greeks have termed spheres, that is, globes, but which the divine scripture calls heavens.[1]

Si qui sane mundus corde et purior mente et 225 exercitatior sensu fuerit, uelocius proficiens cito et ad aeris loeum ascendet et ad caelorum regna perueniet per lovorum singulorum, ut ita dixerim, mansiones, quas Graeci quidem sphaeros id est globos, appellauerunt, scriptura uero diuina caelos nominat;

        In each of these he will first observe all that happens there, and then learn the reason why it happens; and thus he will proceed in order through each stage, following him who has “entered into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God’,s and who has said, “I will that, where I am, they also may be with me” (Jn 17:24).  Further, he alludes to this diversity of places when he says, “In my Father’s house are many abiding-places”. (Jn 14:2) He himself, however, is everywhere and runs through all things; nor are we any longer to think of him as being confined within those narrow limits in which he once lived for our sakes, that is, not as being in that circumscribed condition which was his when he dwelt on earth among men in a body like ours, so that it was then possible to think of him as being enclosed in some one place.

in quibus singulis perspiciet primo quidem 230 ea, quae inibi geruntur, secundo uero etiam rationem quare gerantur agnoscet: et ita per ordinem digreditur singula, sequens eum, qui penetrauerit eaelos, Iesum filium dei dicentem: Volo ut ubi ego sum, et isti mesum sint. Sed et de his locorum diuersitatibus indicat, cum dicit: Multae235 mansiones sunt apud patrem. Ipse tamen ubique est et uniuersa pereurrit: nec ultra intellegamus cum in ea exiguitate, in qua nobis propter nos effectus est, id est non in illa circumscriptione, quam in nostro corpore in terris positus inter homines habuit, quo uelut in uno aliquo 240 circumsaeptus loco putetur.

        7. When the saints have reached the heavenly places, then they will see clearly the nature of the stars, one by one, and will understand whether they are living creatures or whatever may be truth about them.  They will also perceive the other reasons  [=logoi] for God’s works, which he himself shall reveal to them. For now he will show to them, as to sons, the causes of things and the perfection of his creation, teaching them why one star is placed in its particular position in the sky and why it is separated from another by so great an interval of space

7. Cum ergo, uerbi gratia, ad caelestia loca peruenerint saneti, tunc iam rationem astrorum per singula peruidebunt et, siue animantia sunt, siue quidquid illud est, conprehendent. Sed et alias rationes operum dei, quas eis ipse reuelabit, 245 intellegent. Iam enim tamquam filiis rerum causas et uirtutem suae conditionis ostendet, et edocebit eos, quare illa stella in illo loco posita caeli est, et quare ab alia tanto dirimente spatio separatur.


(3) LOVE (Prl.Com.SoS)  » cont

(3) LOVE (Prl.Com.SoS): Wound, Eros




From  the Prologue to the Commentary
on the Song of Songs




[p.219] 1.8 With all this in mind it seems to me necessary before we begin our discussion of what is written in this book to discuss briefly, first, love itself, which is the chief subject of the book and, next, the order of Solomon’s books, among which this book is apparently put in third place. Then we shall also discuss the title of the book itself and why it is called “Song of Songs.” Finally, we shall also speak of how it is apparently composed in the form of a play and as a story that is customarily acted on the stage by the interchange of the characters.

1.8 Igitur necessarium mihi videtur, antequam ad ea, quae in hoc libello scripta sunt, discutienda veniamus, de amore prius ipso, qui est scripturae huius causa praecipua, pauca disserere et post haec de ordine librorum Solomonis, in quibus hic liber tertio loco positus videtur; tum etiam de attitulatione libelli ipsius, cur Canticum Canticorum superscriptus sit, post etiam quomodo dramatis in modo et tamquam fabula, quae in scaenis personarum immutatione agi solet, videatur esse compositus.



        2.1 Among the Greeks a good many learned men, wishing to inquire into the investigation of truth, have published many different books about the nature of love, some of them even written in a dialogue style. They have tried to show that the power of love is no other than the power that leads the soul from earth to the lofty heights of heaven and that we cannot arrive at the highest blessedness unless the ardent desire of love impels us. Moreover, questions about love are brought up for discussion, as it were, in banquets among those, I think, who were holding a banquet not of food but of words. Others, as well, have left us certain books of “arts” by which this love is apparently capable of being born or increased in the soul. But fleshly people have carried off these arts to vicious desires and to the mysteries of a faulty love. […]

1. Apud Graecos quidem plurimi eruditorum virorum volentes investigare veritatis indaginem de amoris natura multa ac diversa etiam dialogorum stilo scripta protulerunt conantes ostendere non aliud esse amoris vim nisi quae animam de terris ad fastigia caeli celsa perducat, nec ad summam posse beatitudinem perveniri nisi amoris desiderio provocante. Sed et quaestiones de hoc quasi in conviviis referuntur, inter eos, puto, inter quos non ciborum, sed verborum convivium gerebatur. Alii vero etiam artes quasdam, quibus amor hic in anima gigni vel augeri posse videretur, conscriptas reliquerunt. Sed has artes carnales homines ad vitiosa desideria et culpabilis amoris mysteria traxerunt.



        Thus, if these conclusions are sound, just as there is said to be a fleshly love, which the poets also call Love according to which the person who loves sows in the flesh, so also there is a spiritual love according to which the inner man when he loves sows in the Spirit (cf. Gal. 6:8). And to speak more plainly, if there is someone who still bears the image of the earthly according to the outer man, he is led by an earthly desire and love. But the person who bears the image of the heavenly according to the inner man is led by a heavenly desire and love (cf. 1 Cor. 15:49).

16. Igitur si haec ita se habent, sicut dicitur aliquis carnalis amor, quem et Cupidinem poetae appellarunt, secundum quem qui amat, ‘in carne seminat’, ita est et quidam spiritalis amor, secundum quem ille interior homo amans ‘in spiritu seminat’. Et ut evidentius dicam, si quis est, qui ‘portat’ adhuc ‘imaginem terreni’ secundum exteriorem hominem, iste agitur cupidine et amore terreno; qui vero ‘portat imaginem caelestis’ secundum interiorem hominem, agitur cupidine et amore caelesti.

        Indeed, the soul is led by a heavenly love and desire when once the beauty and glory of the Word of God has been perceived, he falls in love with His splendor and by this receives from Him some dart and wound of love.

17. Amore autem et cupidine caelesti agitur anima, cum perspecta pulchritudine et decore Verbi Dei speciem eius adamaverit et ex ipso telum quoddam et vulnus amoris acceperit.

        For this Word is the image and brightness of the invisible God, the First Born of all creation, in whom all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible (cf. Col. 1:15 f.; Heb. 1:3).

Est enim verbum hoc ‘imago’ et splendor ‘Dei invisibilis, primogenitus omnis creaturae, in quo creata sunt omnia, quae in caelis sunt et quae in terris sive visibilia sive invisibilia’.

        Therefore, if anyone has been able to hold in the breadth of his mind and to consider the glory and splendor of all those things created in Him, he will be struck by their very beauty and transfixed by the magnificence of their brilliance or, as the prophet says, “by the chosen arrow” (Is. 49:2). And he will receive from Him the saving wound and will burn with the blessed fire of His love.

Igitur si quis potuerit capaci mente conicere et considerare horum omnium, quae in ipso creata sunt, decus et speciem, ipsa rerum venustate percussus et splendoris magnificentia ceu ‘iaculo’, ut ait propheta, ‘electo’ terebratus salutare ab ipso vulnus accipiet et beato igne amoris eius ardebit.

        Quite obviously, as well, in the book we have in hand the term love has been changed into the designation “loving affection” in the passage where it says, “I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell Him I am wounded with loving affection” (Song of Songs 5:8). This certainly stands for what might be said, “I have been struck by the dart of His love.” […]

24. Apertissime autem et in hoc ipso libello, qui habetur in manibus, amoris nomen caritatis vocabulo permutatum est in eo, ubi dicit: “adiuravi vos, filiae Hierusalem, si inveneritis fratruelem meum, ut adnuntietis ei quia vulnerata caritatis ego sum”, pro eo utique, ut diceret: amoris eius telo percussa sum.

        Thus, there is no difference in the divine Scriptures whether[:] 25. Nihil ergo interest, in scripturis divinis utrum

love” is used or

loving affection

or “affectionate love,”

amor dicatur

an caritas

an dilectio,

save insofar as the term “loving affection” is given a higher place, because God Himself is also called “loving Affection.”  nisi quod in tantum nomen caritatis extollitur, ut etiam Deus ipse ‘caritas’ appelletur,

For example, John says, “Beloved, let us affectionately love one another, for loving affection is from God, and he who affectionately loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not affectionately love does not know God; for God is loving Affection” (1 John 4:7-8). And although there may be another opportunity to say something about the verses we have used as an example from John’s letter, nonetheless it does not seem foolish to touch briefly upon some other points made by his letter. […]

sicut Iohannes dicit: “carissimi, diligamus invicem, quia caritas ex Deo est, et omnis, qui diligit, ex Deo natus est et cognoscit Deum; qui autem non diligit, non cognoscit Deum, quia Deus caritas est”. Et quamvis alterius temporis sit de his aliquid dicere, quae exempli causa ex Iohannis epistula protulimus, tamen breviter aliqua etiam inde perstringere non videtur absurdum.

        The present book of Scripture, then, speaks of this love with which the blessed soul burns and is on fire in regard to the Word of God. And she sings this wedding song through the Spirit, by which the Church is joined and united with its heavenly bridegroom Christ, desiring to be mingled with Him through the Word so that she may conceive from Him and be enabled to be saved through this chaste bearing of children (cf. 1 Tim. 2:15). And this will happen when the children continue in faith and holiness with modesty as they were conceived of the seed of the Word of God and brought forth and born either by the spotless Church or by the soul that seeks nothing corporeal, nothing material, but is on fire with love only for the Word of God.

46. Hunc ergo amorem loquitur praesens scriptura, quo erga Verbum Dei anima beata uritur et inflammatur et istud epithalamii carmen per spiritum canit, quo ecclesia sponso caelesti Christo coniungitur ac sociatur desiderans misceri ei per Verbum, ut concipiat ex eo et ‘salvari’ possit ‘per hanc’ castam ‘filiorum generationem, cum permanserint in fide et sanctitate cum sobrietate’ utpote concepti ex semine quidem Verbi Dei, editi vero geniti que vel ab immaculata ecclesia vel ab anima nihil corporeum, nihil materiale requirente, sed solo Verbi Dei amore flagrante.

        For the time being these are the thoughts that have been able to come our way concerning love or loving affection, which is the theme of this epithalamium, the Song of Songs. But we must know how much ought to be said about this loving affection and how much about God, if He is indeed loving Affection. For just as no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him (Mt. 11:27), so no one knows loving affection except the Son. And likewise no one knows the Son, since He is [p. 231] also loving Affection, except the Father.

47. Haec interim nobis ad praesens de amore vel caritate, quae in epithalamio hoc Cantici Canticorum refertur, occurrere potuerunt. Sed sciendum est tam multa esse, quae dici debeant de caritate hac, quanta et de Deo, siquidem ipse ‘est caritas’. Sicut enim ‘nemo novit patrem nisi filius et cui voluerit filius revelare’, ita ‘nemo novit’ caritatem ‘nisi filius’. Similiter autem etiam ipsum ‘filium’, quoniam et ipse ‘caritas est’, ‘nemo scit nisi pater’.

        And according to what is called loving affection it is only the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father who, therefore, comprehends the thoughts of God as the spirit of a man knows a man’s thoughts (cf. Jn. 15:26; 1 Cor. 2:11). Thus, this Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, goes about seeking if He may find any worthy and fit souls to whom He may reveal the excellence of that loving affection which is from God. Now, therefore, by calling upon God the Father, who is loving Affection, through that loving Affection which is from Him, let us turn to the other subjects for discussion.

48. Etiam secundum hoc, quod ‘caritas’ dicitur, solus autem sanctus Spiritus est, qui ‘ex patre procedit’, et ideo scit, quae in Deo sunt, sicut ‘spiritus hominis scit, quae in homine sunt’.Hic ergo ‘paracletus, spiritus veritatis, qui de patre procedit’, circuit quaerens, si quas inveniat dignas et capaces animas, quibus revelet magnitudinem ‘caritatis’ huius, quae ‘ex Deo est’. Nunc ergo iam ipsum ‘Deum’ patrem, qui ‘caritas est’, invocantes per eam, quae ‘ex ipso est, caritatem’, etiam ad reliqua discutienda veniamus.

 (4) EXEGESIS (Prl.Com.SoS) » cont



 Prologue to the Commentary on the Song of Songs (cont.) 

Commentarium in Canticum Canticorum, Prologus 3 [pp.128-142]

        3.1 First, let us examine why it is, since the churches of God acknowledge three books written by Solomon, 1 Et temptemus primum de eo requirere quid illud sit, quod cum tria volumina ecclesiae Dei a Solomone scripta susceperint,

[1] that of them the book of PROVERBS is put first,

primus ex ipsis Proverbiorum liber positus sit, 

[2]  the one called ECCLESIASTES second, 

secundus is qui Ecclesiastes appellatur, 

[3]  and the book SONG of SONGS has third place.

 tertio vero in loco Cantici Canticorum volumen habeatur.

   The following ideas have been able to come our way about this subject. There are three general disciplines by which one attains knowledge of the universe. The Greeks call them  

 Quae ergo nobis occurrere possunt in hoc loco, ista sunt. Generales disciplinae quibus ad rerum scientiam pervenitur tres sunt, quas Graeci 

[1] ethics, [2] physics, and [3] epoptics

ethicam, physicam, epopticen appellarunt; 
and we can give them the terms has nos dicere possumus

[1] moral, [2] natural, and [3] contemplative

moralem, naturalem, inspectivam. 

Some among the Greeks, of course, also add logic as a fourth, which we can call reasoning.

Nonnulli sane apud Graecos etiam logicen, quam nos rationalem possumus dicere, quarto in numero posuere.

Others say that it [logic] is not a separate discipline, but is intertwined and bound up throughout the entire body with the three disciplines we have mentioned. For this “logic,” or, as we have said, reasoning, which apparently includes the rules for words and speech, is instruction in proper and improper meanings, general and particular terms, and the inflections of the different sorts of words. For this reason it is suitable that this discipline should not so much be separated from the others as bound in with them and hidden.

2 Alii non extrinsecus eam, sed per has tres, quas supra memoravimus, disciplinas innexam consertamque per omne corpus esse dixerunt. Est enim logice haec vel, ut nos [p.130] dicimus, rationalis, quae verborum dictorumque videtur continere rationes proprietatesque et improprietates, generaque et species, et figuras singulorum quorumque edocere dictorum, quam utique disciplinam non tam separari quam inseri ceteris convenit et intexi.

   [1] Then the MORAL discipline is defined as the one by which an honorable manner of life is equipped and habits conducive to virtue are prepared. 3 Moralis autem dicitur, per quam mos vivendi honestus aptatur, et instituta ad virtutem tendentia praeparantur. 
   [2] The NATURAL discipline is defined as the consideration of the nature of each individual thing, according to which nothing in life happens contrary to nature, but each individual thing is assigned those uses for which it has been brought forth by the Creator.  Naturalis dicitur, ubi uniuscuiusque rei natura discutitur, quo nihil contra naturam geratur in vita, sed unumquodque his usibus deputetur, in quos a creatore productum est. 

   [3] The CONTEMPLATIVE (inspectiva) discipline is defined as that by which we transcend visible things and contemplate something of divine and heavenly things and gaze at them with the mind alone, since they transcend corporeal appearance.

Inspectiva dicitur, qua supergressi visibilia de divinis aliquid et caelestibus contemplamur, eaque mente sola intuemur, quoniarm corporeum supergrediuntur adspectum.

        Now it seems to me that certain wise men of the Greeks took [p. 232] these ideas from Solomon, since it was long before them in age and time that he first gave these teachings through the Spirit of God. The Greeks have brought them forth as their own discoveries, and they have also included them in their books of instructions and left them to be handed down to their successors. But, as we have said, Solomon discovered them before all the rest and taught them through the wisdom he received from God, as it is written, “And God gave Solomon understanding and wisdom beyond measure, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. And his wisdom was made greater than that of all the ancient sons of men and all the wise men of Egypt” (1 Kings 4:29-30).

4 Haec ergo, ut mihi videtur, sapientes quique Graecorum sumpta a Solomone, utpote qui aetate et tempore longe ante ipsos prior ea per Dei Spiritum didicisset, tamquam propria inventa protulerunt, et institutionum suarum voluminibus comprehensa posteris quoque tradenda reliquere. Sed haec, ut diximus, Solomon ante omnes invenit, et docuit per sapientiam quam accepit a Deo,  sicut scriptum est: Et dedit Deus prudentiam Solomoni et sapientiam multam valde et latitudinem cordis sicut arenam quae est ad oram maris. Et multiplicata est in eo sapientia super omnes antiquos fitios hominum et super omnes sapientes Aegypti.  (3 Ki - 2 Sam - 4,29-30)

        Thus, Solomon, since he wished to distinguish from one another and to separate what we have called earlier the three general disciplines, that is, moral, natural, and contemplative, set them forth in three books, each one in its own logical order.

[p.132] 5 Solomon ergo tres istas quas supra diximus generales esse disciplinas, id est moralem, naturalemr inspectivam, distinguere ab invicem ac secernere volens, tribus eas libellis edidit suo quoque ordine singulis consequenter aptatis.

            Thus, he first taught in Proverbs the subject of morals, setting regulations for life together, as was fitting, in concise and brief maxims. And he included the second subject, which is called the natural discipline, in Ecclesiastes, in which he discusses many natural things. And by distinguishing them as empty and vain from what is useful and necessary, he warns that vanity must be abandoned and what is useful and right must be pursued.

6 Primo ergo in Proverbiis moralem docuit locum succinctis, ut decuit, brevibusque sententiis vitae instituta componens. Secundum vero, qui naturalis appellatur, comprehendit in Ecclesiaste, in quo multa de rebus naturalibus disserens, et inania ac vana ab utilibus necessariisque secernens, relinquendum vanitatem monet et utilia rectaque sectanda.

        He also handed down the subject of contemplation in the book we have in hand, that is, Song of Songs, in which he urges upon the soul the love of the heavenly and the divine under the figure of the bride and the bridegroom, teaching us that we must attain fellowship with God by the paths of loving affection and of love.

7 Inspectivum quoque locum in hoc libello tradidit qui habetur in manibus, id est in Cantico Canticorum, in quo morem caelestium divinorumque desiderium incutit animae sub specie sponsae ac sponsi, caritatis et amoris viis perveniendum docens ad consortium Dei.

        Indeed, he was not unaware that he was laying the foundations of the true philosophy and founding the order of its disciplines and principles, nor was the subject of reasoning rejected by him. He demonstrates this clearly at the very beginning of his Proverbs, first of all, because he entitles this very book of his “Proverbs.” That word means something that is said openly, but points to something deep within. Even the ordinary use of proverbs teaches this, and John in his Gospel writes that the Savior said this, “I have spoken to you in proverbs; the hour will come when I shall no longer speak to you in proverbs but tell you plainly of the Father” (Jn. 16:25). So much for the title of the book itself.

8 Haec vero eum verae philosophiae fundamenta ponentem, et ordinem disciplinarum institutionumque condentem, quod non latuerit, neque ab eo abiectus sit etiam rationalis locus, evidenter ostendit in principio statim Proverbiorum suorum, primo omnium per hoc ipsum quod Proverbia attitulavit libellum suum, quod utique nomen significat aliud quidem palam dici, aliud vero intrinsecus indicari. Hoc enim et communis usus proverbiorum docet, et Iohannes in Evangelio Salvatorem ita scribit dicentem: Haec in proverbiis locutus sum uobis; ueniet hora, cum iam non in proverbiis loquar uobis, sed manifeste de Patre adnuntiem vobis. (Jn 16:25)  Haec interim in ipsa tituli inscriptione.

        [p. 233] But in what immediately follows he adds some distinctions of words and divides “knowledge” from “wisdom” and “instruction” from “knowledge”; and he posits “the understanding of words” as one thing, and says that prudence lies in being able to draw out “the subtlety of words.” For he distinguishes “true righteousness” from “wise dealing.” Moreover, he also names a certain “sagacity” as necessary for those whom he instructs, that sagacity, I believe, by which the subtlety of fallacies can be understood and avoided. And so he says that through wisdom “sagacity” is given to “the innocent,” doubtless lest they be deceived in the Word of God by any sophistical deceit (cf. Prov. 1:2ff.).

[p.134] 9 In sequenti vero statim subiungit discretiones verborum, et distinguit scientiam a sapientia, et a scientia disciplinam, et intellectum verborum aliud ponit, et prudentiam dicit in eo esse ut excipere possit quis uersutiam verborum. Distinguit etiam iustitiam ueram a discretione iudicii, sed et astutiam quandam nominat his quos imbuit necessariam, illam, credo, per quam sophismatum intelligi ac declinari possit argutia. Et ideo dicit innocentibus per sapientiam dari astutiam, sine dubio ne in Verbo Dei decipiantur fraude sophistica

        Moreover, here he seems to me mindful of the reasoning discipline, by which instruction about words and the meanings of speech are discerned and a fixed proper use of each word is marked by reason. It is especially suitable for children to be trained in this. Solomon urges this when he says, “Let him give the young child perception and deliberation” (Prov. 1:4). And because the person who is instructed in these matters necessarily governs himself rationally by what he learns and balances his life with moderation, he consequently says, “And the man of understanding will acquire governance” (Prov. 1:5).

10 Sed et in hoc videtur mihi rationalis disciplinae meminisse, per quam doctrina verborum dictorumque significantiae discernuntur, et uniuscuiusque sermonis proprietas certa cum ratione distinguitur. In qua praecipue erudiri convenit pueros; hoc enim hortatur, cum dicit: Ut det puero iuniori sensum et cogitationem. Et quia, qui in his eruditur, necessario rationabiliter per ea quae didicit semet ipsum gubernat, et vitam suam moderatius librat, propterera dicit: Intelligens autem gubernationem acquirete.

        Next, he understands that in the divine words, by which a rule for living has been handed down to the human race through the prophets, there are different forms of speech and various figures of speaking; and he knows that among them is found one figure called a “parable” and another called “obscure speech,” and that there are others designated “enigmas” and others called “words of the wise.” For this reason he writes, “You will also understand the parable and the obscure speech and the words of the wise and the enigmas” (cf. Prov. 1:6).

11. Post haec vero cognoscens in verbis divinis, quibus per prophetas humano generi traditus est ordo vivendi, diversos esse eloquii tropos et varias dicendi species, ac sciens haberi in iis aliquam figuram quae parabola appelletur, et aliam quae obscura dictio dicatur, aliasque quae aenigmata nominentur, et alias quae dicta sapientium dicantur, scribit: Intelliges quoque parabolam et obscurum sermonem dictquae sapientium ei aenigmata.

      Thus, by these distinct terms he obviously and clearly explains the subject of reasoning; and after the custom of the men of old he sets forth great and perfect ideas in concise and brief maxims. And if there is someone who meditates on the Law of the Lord day and night (Ps. 1:2) and someone who is like the mouth of the righteous that meditates on wisdom (Ps. 37:30), he will be able to inquire more carefully and to find, provided he seeks rightly and in seeking knocks on the door of wisdom to ask God that it may be opened to him and he be worthy to receive through the Holy Spirit the word  [p. 234] of wisdom and the word of knowledge and to become a fellow of Solomon’s wisdom that said, “I stretched out my words and you did not hear” (Prov. 1:24; cf. Col. 4:3).

er haec ergo [p.136] singula rationalem locum manifeste et evidenter exponit, ac more veterum succinctis brevibusque sententiis ingentes et perfectos explicat sensus. 12 Quae, si quis est qui in lege Domini meditetur die ac nocte et si quis est sicut os iusti quod meditatur sapientiam, investigare diligentius poterit et invenire, si tamen recte quaesierit, et quaerens pulsaverit ostium sapientiae, petens a Deo ut aperiatur ei et mereatur accipere per Spiritum sanctum verbum sapientiae et verbum scientiae fierique particeps illius Sapientiae quae dicebat: Extendebam enim verba mea et non audidiebatis.

        And he rightly says that He stretched out words in his heart, because, as we said a moment ago, God gave him largeness of heart (1 Kings 4:29). For that person’s heart is enlarged who can explain what is briefly said in mysteries by a broader teaching with assertions taken from the divine books.

13 Et merito extendere se dicit verba in eius corde cui dederat Deus, sicut supra diximus, latitudinem cordis. Dilatatur namque illius cor qui potest ea quae breviter in mysteriis dicta sunt, latiore doctrina sumptis ex voluminibus divinis assertionibus explanare.

        Thus, it is necessary according to the same teaching of that wisest Solomon for the person who longs to know wisdom to begin with moral training and to understand what is written, “You have desired wisdom; keep the commandments, and the Lord will give her to you” (Sr. 1:26). Therefore, for this reason the teacher who first taught men the divine philosophy puts the book of Proverbs as the introduction to his work. In it, as we have said, the subject of morals is handed down so that, when anyone has made progress in understanding and morals, he may come also to the discipline of natural knowledge and there by distinguishing the causes and the natures of things learn that “vanity of vanities” must be abandoned and he must hasten to what is eternal and everlasting.

14 Oportet igitur, secundum hanc eandem sapientissimi Solomonis doctrinam, eum qui sapientiam scire desiderat incipere ab eruditione morali, et intelligere illud quod scriptum est: Concupisti sapientiam, custodi mandata, et Dominus dabit eam tibi. Ob hoc ergo magister hic qui primus homines divinam philosophiam docet, operis sui exordium Proverbiorum posuit libellum in quo, ut diximus, moralis traditur locus, ut, cum intellectu quis [p.138] moribusque profecerit, veniat etiam ad naturalis intelligentiae disciplinam, atque ibi rerum causas naturasque distinguens agnoscat vanitatem vanitatum reliquendam, ad aeterna autem et perpetua properandum.

        And so after Proverbs he comes to Ecclesiastes, which teaches, as we have said, that everything visible and corporeal is transitory and weak. And when the person who is eager for wisdom discovers that this is so, he will doubtless despise those things; and by renouncing, so to speak, the whole world, he will press on to the invisible and eternal teachings that are given to the spiritual senses in Song of Songs through certain veiled figures of loves.

15 Et ideo post Proverbia ad Ecclesiasten venitur, qui docet, ut diximus, visibilia omnia et corporea caduca esse ac fragilia, quae utique cum ita esse deprehenderit is qui sapientiae studet, sine dubio contemnet ea ac despiciet, et universo, ut ita dicam, saeculo renuntians tendet ad invisibilia et aeterna, quae spiritalibus quidem sensibus sed adopertis amorum quibusdam figuris docentur in Cantico Canticorum.

        So indeed, this book occupies the last place, so that a person may come to it when he has been purged in morals and has learned the knowledge and distinction of corruptible and incorruptible things. By this preparation he is enabled to receive no harm from those figures by which the love of the bride for her heavenly bridegroom, that is, of the perfect soul for the Word of God, is described and fashioned. For with these preliminaries accomplished by which 

16 Ideo enim novissimum locum tenet hic liber, ut tunc ad eum veniatur, cum et moribus quis fuerit defaecatus, et rerum corruptibilium atque incorruptibilium scientiam distinctionemque didicerit, quo in nullo possit ex his figuris, quibus sponsae ad sponsum caelestem, id est animae perfectae amor ad Verbum Dei, describitur ac formatur, offendi. Praemissis namque his quibus

[1] the soul is purified through its acts and habits

[2] and conducted to the discernment of natural things,

[3] the soul comes suitably to doctrines and mysteries, and is led up to the contemplation of the Godhead by a genuine and spiritual love.

purificatur anima per actus et mores,

et in rerum diseretionem naturalium perducitur,

 competenter ad dogmatica venitur et ad mystica atque ad divinitatis contemplationem sincero et spiritali amore conscenditur.


        Then, too, I think this triple form of the divine philosophy was [p. 235] indicated beforehand in those holy and blessed men on behalf of whom the highest God in the holiest instructions wanted to be called “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob” (cf. Ex. 3:6).

17 Hanc ergo triplicem divinae philosophiae formam etiam in illis sanetis ae beatis viris arbitror praesignatam, [p.140] pro quorum sanctissimis institutionibus Deus summum dici voluit Deus Abraham, Deus Isaac et Deus lacob.



        Now Abraham expounds moral philosophy through obedience; for so great was his obedience and so great his keeping of the commandments that when he heard, “Go out from your country and your kindred and your father’s house” (Gen. 12:1), he did not delay, but did so at once. Moreover, he did something much greater than this. When he heard he was to sacrifice his son, not even then did he waver; but he submitted to the order. In order to give an example to posterity of obedience, which is moral philosophy, he did not withold his only begotten son (cf. Gen. 22:16).

18 Abraham namque moralem declarat philosophiam per oboedientiam; tanta enim fuit eius oboedientia et tanta observatio mandatorum, ut, cum audiret: Exi de terra tua et de cognatione tua et de domo patris tui, non sit cunctatus, sed statim fecerit. Immo et horum amplius aliquid fecit: audiens ut immolaret filium suum, nec inde quidem dubitat, sed obtemperat praecepto et ad exemplum oboedientiae, quae est moralis philosophia, posteris dandum, nec filio suo unico pepercit.



      As well, Isaac holds the place of natural philosophy, since he dug wells and explored the depths of things. 19 lsaac quoque naturalem philosophiam tenet, cum puteos fodit et rerum profunda rimatur.



      Moreover, Jacob receives the subject of contemplation, since he was named Israel because of the contemplation of divine things and since he saw the encampments of heaven and gazed at the house of God and the paths of the angels, the ladders that stretched from earth to heaven (cf. Gen. 28:12, 17, 32:2).

 Sed et Iacob inspectivum obtinet locum, quippe qui et Istrahel ob divinorum contemplationem nominatus sit8 et qui castra caeli viderit et domum Dei atque angelorum vias scalas a terris in caelum porrectas prospexerit.



        That is why we find that those three blessed men were worthy of building altars for God, that is, of dedicating their progress to His philosophy, by which they taught that it was to be attributed not to human skills but to the grace of God (cf. Gen. 22:5, 26:25, 33:20, 35:7). Moreover, they dwelt in tents (cf. Heb. 11:9), so that through this they might make it clear that whoever is eager for the divine philosophy must not have any place of his own on earth and must always move on, not so much from place to place as from the knowledge of lower things to the knowledge of perfect things.

20 Unde et merito invenimus tres istos beatos viros altaria fixisse Deo, hoc est philosophiae suae consecrasse profectus, quo scilicet edocerent non haec ad artes humanas, sed ad Dei gratiam referenda. Sed et in tabernaculis degunt, ut per haec ostendant neque in terris habendum esse aliquid proprium huic qui divinae  [p.142] philosophiae studet, et semper promovendum, non tam de loco ad locum quam de scientia inferiorum ad scientiam perfectorum.

        And you will find many other details in the divine Scriptures that indicate in the same fashion that order which we said was contained in the books of Solomon; but the subject is too extensive for us to pursue, since we have something else in hand.

21 Sed et alia multa in scripturis divinis invenies, quae ordinem hunc quem in libellis Solomonis contineri diximus, secundum hanc eandem formam designant, sed ea nunc nobis prosequi aliud in manu habentibus longum est.



        Therefore, if a person completes the first subject by freeing his habits from faults and keeping the commandments — which is indicated by Proverbs — and if after this, when the vanity of the world has been discovered and the weakness of its perishable things seen clearly, he comes to the point of renouncing the world and everything in the world, then he will come quite suitably also to [p. 236] contemplate and to long for the things that are unseen and are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18).

22 Si qui ergo primum locum in emendandis moribus mandatisque servandis, qui per Proverbia designatur. implevit, post haec autem etiam deprehensa vanitate mundi et rerum caducarum fragilitate perspecta, venit in hoc ut renuntiet mundo et omnibus quae in mundo sunt, consequenter veniet etiam ad contemplanda et desideranda ea quae non videntur et aeterna sunt.

        But in order to be able to attain them we shall need the divine mercy, if we are indeed to be strong enough, when we have gazed upon the beauty of the Word of God, to be kindled with a saving love for Him, so that He too may think it right to love affectionately a soul that He has seen longing for Him.

23 Ad quae tamen ut pervenire possimus, indigemus divina misericordia, si forte valeamus, perspecta pulchritudine Verbi Dei, salutari in eum amore succendi, ut et ipse dignetur huiusmodi animam diligere quam desiderium sui habere perspexerit.


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