(c. 185-254)

Homily Two on Leviticus

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

Origen: HOMILY 2 ON LEVITICUS.  Rufinus (c. 345 – 410) tr. ca 403-404.

Rnglish based on tr. by G.W. Barkley, Origen, Homilies on Leviticus: 1-16. (Catholic University of America Press, Washington, DC) 1990. pp 39-51.  Latin: CPL 0198 3 , CB 29 (W.A. Baehrens, 1920), p. 280-507. [N.B. obtain Rahner, Theol Invest. 15, 246-328; 391-431; Daly “Sacrificial Soteriology”  874, SP 17.2.(1982) 872-878]



Concerning the ritual of sacrifices; that is, concerning offerings and sacrifices, both salutary and for sins; and how “the high priest offers for his own sin” and for the “sin of the congregation,” or for the “individual soul of the people of the land which has sinned involuntarily.” (Cf. Lev 4.3,13,22,27).

De sacrificiorum ritu, hoc est de muneribus et sacrificiis salutaribus et pro peccatis; et quomodo “offert pontifex pro peccato suo” et pro peccato Synagogae vel pro anima, quae “ex populo terrae peccaverit non voluntate”.

1. INDEED, the preceding argument from the beginning of Leviticus has taught us the law of sacrifices, which are called offerings, that “if a person should make an offering he should offer it” from animals, that is, “from cattle, sheep, or even goats. But if from birds, he should offer a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” (Cf. Lev 1.2,10,14).

1. Superior quidem de principiis Levitici disputatio edocuit nos legem sacrificiorum, quae munera appellantur, ut, “si homo munus offerret” ex animalibus “id offerret”, id est “ex bobus vel ovibus, vel etiam capris”; “si vero ex avibus, turturum par aut duos pullos columbinos adhiberet”.

(2) “But if a soul shall bring an offering, it shall offer fine wheat flour from the oven; that is, from unleavened bread or fine wheat flour mixed with oil from a frying pan or even from gridiron. Moreover, it he offers a sacrifice of firstfruits, from the first produce of the fields, let it be fresh fine wheat flour, that is new and well cleansed. It also should be baked with fire and broken in two, lest it be too small because they are the first fruits. And let oil and incense be placed upon it and offered in this way.” (Cf. Lev 2.1,4,5,14,15).

“Si vero anima offeret munus, similam offeret ex clibano, id est panes ex simila azymos aut similam oleo conspersam ex sartagine vel etiam a craticula”.

“Si autem sacrificium offerat primitiarum, [de primis frugibus,] ut simila sit recens, id est nova [igni quoque eam torreri vult, medio fractam esse, ne multum minutum sit, quia primitiae sunt] et bene purgata sit”.

“Oleum quoque et tus ut imponatur super eam, et sic offeratur”.

(3) But if anyone offers “a salutary sacrifice,” he is commanded to offer it “from cattle,” or likewise “from sheep” or “goats.” (Cf. Lev 3.1,6,12). Except for these, no other kind of sacrifice is substituted in salutary offerings.

At vero si quis offerat “sacrificium salutare”, “ex bobus” iubetur offerre, vel etiam “ex ovibus” sive “capris” et exceptis his nullum aliud sacrificii genus substituitur in salutaribus hostiis.

 (4) For indeed generally “a soul” is commanded “to offer for involuntary sins,” but after this it goes through diverse and various persons. It is commanded, “if it is the high priest who has sinned and offers a sacrifice for sin, that he offer a calf” as a whole burnt offering, but not by the ritual by which he presented that calf for an offering. For concerning this, only “the fatty parts and the two kidneys with their fatty parts and the fatty part which covers the interior parts will he place upon the altar of whole burnt offerings.” Also, “concerning the blood, having dipped his finger in it, he sprinkles it before the Lord seven times and lines the horns of the altar of incense with it. The rest of the flesh with the skin and the intestines and the dung,” however, it commands “to be burned completely outside the camp in a clean place.” (Cf. Lev 4.2-12). It is to be noted well that the Lawgiver does not add to the sin of the high priest that he shall have sinned through ignorance or involuntarily. For he who was elevated to teach others could not fall through ignorance.

Nam “pro peccatis non voluntariis” generaliter quidem “anima” iubetur offerre, sed post haec per diversas itur varias que personas; et iubetur, “si quidem pontifex sit, qui deliquit et offert sacrificium pro peccato, ut vitulum” holocaustum “offerat”, sed non eo ritu quo illum pro munere obtulit.

De hoc enim tantum “adipes et duos renes cum adipibus suis et adipem, qui tegit interiora, imponet super altare holocaustorum”.

“De sanguine” quoque “eius intingens digitum suum respergit septiens contra Dominum, et linit ex eo cornua altaris incensi.

Ceteras autem carnes cum corio et interaneis et stercore extra castra igni cremari” iubet “in loco mundo”.

Observandum sane est quod in peccato pontificis non addidit legislator quia per ignorantiam aut non voluntate peccaverit.

Neque enim cadere ignorantia poterat in eum, qui, ut ceteros doceret, provectus est.

(5) If it is a sin “of the entire congregation,” the congregation is ordered to offer nonetheless “a calf” as a whole burnt offering. But it is said of the sin of the congregation, “if they are ignorant and the word concealed from their eyes and they do one thing of all the commands of the Lord which they ought not do,” (Cf. Lev 4.13) then it is also apparent that “the entire congregation” can sin through ignorance. The Lord also confirms this in the Gospels when he says, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23.34)

Si autem “totius synagogae” peccatum fuerit, “vitulum” nihilominus holocaustum synagoga iubetur offerre.

Sed in peccato synagogae dicitur: “si ignoraverit et latuerit verbum ab oculis synagogae, et fecerit unum ab omnibus mandatis Domini, quod non fiet”; unde apparet etiam “omnem synagogam” posse delinquere per ignorantiam.

Quod et Dominus confirmat in evangeliis, cum dicit: “Pater, remitte illis; non enim sciunt, quid faciunt”.

(6) If it is “a prince” who presents an offering for sin, he is commanded to offer “a he-goat from the herd,” not as a whole burnt offering, but only that “the priest places its blood upon the altar and offers all its fatty parts on the altar.” The rest, however, remains for the priests to eat, “only the blood is poured out at the base of the altar.” (Cf. Lev 4.22-26).

“Quod si princeps” fuerit, qui offert hostiam pro peccato, “hircum ex capris” iubetur offerre, non holocaustum, sed tantum ut “de sanguine” eius “imponat sacerdos super altare et omnem adipem eius offerat in altari”, reliquum autem sacerdotibus remaneat ad edendum, “sanguine tantum ad basin altaris effuso”.

(7) But it says, “if it is a single soul which offers for sin, let it offer a female goat,” (Cf. Lev. 4.27f). of course, using the same rite which formerly we said was for the sacrifice of a he-goat. “If his hand cannot afford a goat or a lamb,” it says “he will offer a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” (Cf. Lev 5.7) He is commanded, “if he cannot even find that, to bring a tenth part of an ephah of fine wheat flour without oil or incense.” (Cf. Lev 5.11)

Si vero anima fuerit” inquit “una, quae offert pro peccato, capram feminam offerat”; ritu scilicet eodem, quo hircum superius diximus immolatum.

“Quod si non valuerit” inquit “manus eius ad capram vel ad agnam, par turturum offeret aut duos pullos columbarum”.

“Quod si nec hoc inveniet, decimam partem ephi similaginis sine oleo et sine ture” mandatur “offerre”.

 (8) Indeed, we have read all of these things in the previous reading, but their interpretation was omitted because we were prevented by time. I do not think it is silly to say a few things now about these things, especially for those students and others who remember the previous readings, despite our eagerness to get to the things which were just read.

Haec quidem nobis singula priori lectione recitata sunt, verum explanatio eorum, quoniam tempore excludebamur, omissa est; de qua nunc paucis commonere studiosos quosque et eos, qui etiam praeteritarum meminerint lectionum, absurdum non puto, quamquam ad ea, quae nuper recitata sunt, urgeamur.

2. AND first, I would like to see what these differences are since it says “a person” should offer one thing, “a soul” another, “the high priest” another, “the congregation” another, and “one individual soul from the people of the earth” (Cf. Lev 1.2; 2.1; 4.3,13,22,27) another.

2. Et primo velim videre, quae sit ista differentia, quod alia quidem “hominem” dicit offerre, alia “animam”, alia “pontificem”, alia “synagogam”, alia “unam animam ex populo terrae”.

(2) I think indeed that “a person” refers to that one who, made “in the image and likeness” (Cf. Gen 1.26) of God, lives rationally. Therefore, this one presents “a calf” as an offering to God when he overcomes the arrogance of the flesh; he brings “a sheep” when he corrects his irrational and foolish impulses; “a goat” when he overcomes his lewdness. He likewise offers “a pair of turtledoves” when he is not alone but has joined his mind to the word of God as his true spouse; just as this is called one species of bird, and is said to keep the marriage pure. Also, he offers “two young doves” (Cf. Lev 1.5,10,14) when he himself understands the mystery by which “the eyes of the bride” are said to be “like doves to the fullness of water, and his neck as a turtledove.” (Cf. Cant 5.12) These things, therefore, are the offerings of a person as we explained above.

Et puto quidem “hominem” illum debere intelligi, qui “ad imaginem et similitudinem” Dei factus rationabiliter vivit.

Hic ergo munus offert Deo “vitulum”, cum carnis superbiam vicerit; “ovem”, cum irrationabiles motus insipientes que correxerit; “hoedum”, cum lasciviam superaverit.

Offert etiam “par turturum”, cum non fuerit solus, sed mentem suam verbo Dei velut vero coniugi sociaverit, sicut hoc genus avium unum dicitur et castum servare coniugium.

Offert etiam “duos pullos columbarum”, cum et ipse intellexerit mysterium, quo “oculi sponsae sicut columbae” dicuntur “ad plenitudines aquarum” “et collum eius sicut turturis”.

Haec ergo sunt hominis, secundum quod supra exposuimus, munera.

(3) For “a soul,” however, it describes far lower offerings. This soul has neither “a calf” nor “a sheep” nor “a goat” which it may present to God; nor does it find “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” It has only “fine wheat flour” from which “it offers unleavened bread from the oven”; which needs to be made “in a frying pan” or “mixed with oil on a gridiron.” (Cf. Lev 2.4f) From this, it seems to me that what is here called “a soul” is to be understood as that person whom Paul calls “the natural person.” (Cf. 1 Cor 2.14).

Animae autem munera longe inferiora describit.

Anima haec neque “vitulum” habet neque “ovem” neque “hoedum”, quem offerat Deo; sed ne “par” quidem “turturum aut duos pullos” invenit “columbarum”.

“Similam” tantum habet, ex ipsa “panes azymos offert a clibano”, ex ipsa “in sartagine” opus factum vel “in craticula oleo permixtum”.

Unde videtur mihi hic “anima” quae appellata est, homo ille, quem Paulus “animalem hominem” nominat, intelligendus;

(4) Even if he is not persuaded to sin nor is in great danger of moral offenses, he does not have anything spiritual in him, and what figuratively is thought of as the flesh of the Word of God. For thus the Apostle Paul says concerning this person, “The natural person does not understand the things that are of the Spirit of God. For it is foolishness to that one, and he cannot understand because it is distinguished spiritually. But the spiritual person examines everything.” (1 Cor 2.14-15) This one, therefore, who is called “a soul” cannot offer all things because he cannot examine all things. He offers only “fine wheat flour and unleavened bread”; that is, this common life, placed, for example, in agriculture, sailing, or in other occupations of the common life. Nevertheless, it presents an offering to God even if it is said only “to offer fine wheat flour mixed with oil.” For every soul needs the oil of divine mercy and no one can escape the present life unless he has at hand the oil of heavenly mercy.

qui etiam si peccatis non urgeatur nec sit praeceps ad vitia, non tamen habet aliquid in se spiritale et quod figuraliter carnes verbi Dei reputentur.

Sic enim ipse de eo Paulus Apostolus dicit quia: “animalis homo non percipit, quae sunt spiritus Dei.

Stultitia enim est illi, et non potest intelligere quia spiritaliter diiudicatur.

Spiritalis autem examinat omnia”.

Iste ergo, qui “anima” nominatur, non potest offerre omnia, quia examinare non potest omnia; sed offert solam “similam et panes azymos”, id est communem hanc vitam, verbi gratia, in agricultura aut navigando aut in aliquibus communis vitae usibus positam; offert tamen etiam ipse munus Deo, licet solam “similam” dicatur “offerre oleo” tantum “conspersam”. Omnis enim anima eget oleo divinae misericordiae nec praesentem vitam evadere quispiam potest, nisi ei oleum coelestis miserationis adfuerit.

(5) In the second place, an offering of “firstfruits,” (Cf. Lev 2.14) that is, from the beginning of the harvest, is commanded. If you remember well, the Law commands this is to be done on the day of Pentecost. (Cf. Exod 23.16; Deut 16.9f) This was obviously given to them as a “shadow” (Cf. Heb 10.1) but the truth was reserved for us. For on the day of Pentecost, after they offered up the sacrifice of prayers, the Church of the Apostles received the firstfruits of the coming of the “Holy Spirit.” (Cf. Acts 2.4) And truly, these things were fresh because it was new. Whence also, they were said to be “filled with new wine”; (Cf. Acts 2.13) “baked with fire,” for tongues of fire settled on each one; (Cf. Acts 2.3) “broken in the middle,” for they were broken in the middle when the letter was divided from the spirit; and “well cleansed,” (Cf. Lev 2.14) for the presence of the Holy Spirit cleanses all filthiness by delivering remission of sins. Also, the oil of mercy is poured out on this sacrifice; and the sweet incense, through which we are made “a good scent of Christ.” (Cf. 2 Cor 2.15)

Secundo in loco “primitiarum”, id est de initiis frugum mandatur oblatio.

Quod, si bene meministis, in die Pentecostes fieri lex iubet.

In quo illis plane “umbra” data est, nobis autem veritas reservata est.

In die enim Pentecostes oblato orationum sacrificio primitias advenientis “sancti Spiritus” Apostolorum suscepit ecclesia.

Et vere haec fuerunt recentia, quia erat novum; unde et “musto repleti” dicebantur.

“Igni tosta”.

Igneae namque linguae supra singulos consederunt.

“Et medio fracta”.

Frangebantur enim media, cum littera separabatur ab spiritu.

“Et bene purgata”.

Purgat namque omnes sordes praesentia sancti Spiritus remissionem tribuens peccatorum.

Oleum quoque misericordiae huic sacrificio infunditur et tus suavitatis, per quod “Christi bonus odor” efficimur.

(6) After this, it speaks about salutary sacrifices which are offered from animals; that is, from “cattle” or “goats or sheep,” (Cf. Lev 3.1f)  and nothing else is substituted for these as a sacrifice, not even the birds which above were substitutes in making offerings. For he who offers salutary offerings is already, without a doubt, conscious of his own salvation; and therefore, it is necessary that he who attains salvation offer the things which are great and perfect. Thus also the Apostle says, “But solid food is for the perfect.” (Heb 5.14)

Post haec de sacrificiis salutaribus dicit, quae ex animalibus, id est “bobus” vel “capris atque ovibus”, offeruntur, et nihil his ultra substituitur ad immolandum, sed ne aves quidem, quae superius in offerendis muneribus fuerant substitutae.

Iste enim, qui salutares hostias offert, sine dubio iam suae salutis est conscius; et ideo qui ad salutem pervenit, necesse est, ut quae magna et perfecta sunt offerat.

Sic enim et Apostolus dicit: “perfectorum autem est cibus solidus”.

(7) Next, the order of sacrifices is set up for offering victims for sins, in which in the second place it says, “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Every soul sins involuntarily in the presence of the Lord.” (Lev 4.1-2) Rightly, it says “a soul” when it ascribes sin, for it would not have called one about to sin a spirit about to sin. Nor would it have called this a person, in whom “the image of God” (Cf. Gen 1.26) could not subsist if sin intervened. Therefore, it is not the spirit that sins. “For the fruit of the Spirit,” as the Apostle describes it, “is love, joy, peace, patience,” (Gal 5.22) and others similar to these that are also called “fruits of life.” Then elsewhere, he says, “The one who sows in the flesh will reap corruption from the flesh; and the one who sows in the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit.” (Gal 6.8) Seeing, therefore, that it is one who sows and another in whom it is sown, but it is sown either “in the flesh” when there is sin in order that “corruption” is reaped; or “in the spirit” where there is life according to God in order that “eternal life” is reaped, it is established that it is the soul which either “sows in the flesh” or “in the spirit” and which can go to ruin in sin or be converted from sin. For the body is its result to whatever he chooses; and the spirit is its guide to excellence if he wishes to follow it.

Dehinc ad offerendas pro peccatis victimas sacrificiorum ordo dirigitur, in quo et secundo dicitur: “locutus est Dominus ad Moysen dicens: anima quaecumque peccaverit coram Domino non voluntate”.

Recte “animam” dicit, quam peccare describit; non enim spiritum vocasset, quem diceret peccaturum; sed ne hominem quidem hunc diceret, in quo nequaquam “imago Dei” peccato interveniente constaret.

Non est ergo spiritus ille, qui peccat; “fructus enim spiritus” - ut describit Apostolus - “caritas est, gaudium, pax, patientia”, et cetera his similia, qui etiam “fructus vitae” appellantur.

Denique et alibi dicit: “qui seminat in carne, de carne metet corruptionem; et qui seminat in spiritu, de spiritu metet vitam aeternam”.

Quoniam ergo alius est, qui seminat et alius est, in quo seminatur, seminatur autem vel “in carne”, cum peccatur, ut metatur “corruptio”, vel “in spiritu”, cum secundum Deum vivitur, ut metatur “vita aeterna”, constat animam esse, quae vel “in carne” vel “in spiritu seminat”, et illam esse, quae vel in peccatum ruere possit vel converti a peccato.

Nam corpus sequela eius est ad quodcumque delegerit; et spiritus dux eius est ad virtutem, si eum sequi velit.

3. BUT these things were spoken of generally; but now they are separated by their particular kinds. It says, “If the high priest who was anointed sins, so that he makes the people sin, he will himself offer to the Lord for his sin a calf without blemish from the herd.” (Lev 4.3) Terror and mercy are shown at the same time in the divine law. So finally, is no one safe, not even the high priest? And who is this high priest? He who was anointed; he who kindles holy fires on the divine altars, who sacrifices to God gifts and salutary offerings; he who intervenes between God and men as a propitiator. Not even he, I say, remains free from the contamination of sin. But see the mercy of God and understand it more fully as Paul teaches. For writing to the Hebrews, he says, “For every priest who is taken from men is appointed by men to offer sacrifices to God.” (Heb 5.1) A little farther it says, “The Law appoints human priests who have weaknesses,” (Heb 7.28). in order that just as they can offer for their own weakness, so also they can offer for that of the people. You see, therefore, the dispensation of divine wisdom. It sets up as priests, not those who could not sin in any way—otherwise, they would not be human—but those who ought indeed to imitate that one “who did not sin,” (1 Pet 2.22). to offer sacrifices first for their own faults and then for the transgressions of the people.” (Cf. Heb 7.27) But what is most to be admired in this kind of priest? Not that he may not sin—because that is impossible—but that he knows and understands his own sin. For he who thinks he has not sinned never corrects himself. In like manner, he is more easily able to pardon those who sin, whose conscience is disturbed by his own weakness.

3. Sed haec generaliter dicta sunt; nunc vero per species dividuntur. “Si pontifex” inquit, “qui unctus est, peccaverit, ut populum faceret peccare, offeret pro peccato suo vitulum de bobus sine macula Domino”.

Terror simul et misericordia in divinis legibus ostentatur.

Ita ne tandem nihil tutum est, ne pontifex quidem?

et qui pontifex? Ipse, qui unctus est, ipse, qui sacris ignibus divina succendit altaria, qui Deo munera et salutares hostias immolat; qui inter Deum et homines medius quidam repropitiator intervenit, ne iste, inquam, ipse immunis manet a contagione peccati.

Sed vide misericordiam Dei et plenius eam Paulo docente cognosce.

Ipse enim ad Hebraeos scribens dicit: “omnis namque pontifex ab hominibus adsumptus pro hominibus constituitur ad offerendas hostias Deo”, et paulo post: “lex” inquit “homines constituit sacerdotes infirmitatem habentes”, ut possint sicut pro sua, ita etiam pro populi infirmitate offerre.

Vides ergo dispensationem divinae sapientiae.

Sacerdotes statuit, non eos, qui omni modo peccare non possent - alioquin non essent homines, - sed eos, qui imitari quidem debeant illum, “qui peccatum non fecit”, “offerre autem hostias primo pro suis, post etiam pro populi delictis”.

Sed quid praecipue in huiusmodi sacerdote mirandum est?

Non, ut non peccet - quod fieri non potest - sed ut agnoscat et intelligat peccatum suum.

Numquam enim emendat, qui peccasse se non putat.

Simul quia et facilius potest indulgere peccantibus is, qui alicuius infirmitatis suae conscientia remordetur.

(2) But what is the offering of the priest “for sin”? It says, “a calf as a whole burnt offering.” (Cf. Lev 4.3,7) In the second place, we find that “a calf for a whole burnt offering” is to be offered by the high priest one time for an offering, one time “for sin.” But the one that is offered as an offering is consumed “upon the altar” of the whole burnt offering. (Cf. Lev 1.3,5) But that one “for sin” is ordered to be burned up “outside the camp with the skin and intestines and dung in a clean place” with only the fatty parts and kidneys offered on the altar. (Cf. Lev 4.3,9,11,12) Although it is beyond our powers and beyond your hearing to separate and discern each one, we will nevertheless attempt to bring forth some occasions for you to understand in the meantime.

Quae est autem oblatio sacerdotis “pro peccato”? “Vitulus” inquit “ad holocaustum”.

Secundo invenimus offerri a pontifice “vitulum in holocaustum” semel pro munere, semel “pro peccato”.

Sed ille, qui offertur in munere, “super” holocausti “altare” consumitur.

Qui vero “pro peccato”, “extra castra cum corio et interaneis ac stercore in loco mundo” iubetur exuri adipibus solis in altari oblatis et renibus.

Quae singula dividere ac discernere quamvis et supra nostras vires sit et supra auditum vestrum, tamen aliquas vobis ad intelligendum occasiones conquirere atque in medium proferre temptabimus.

(3) See, therefore, if perhaps Jesus, whom Paul says through his own blood “to have made peace not only for the things which are in earth but also for the things in heaven,” (Cf. Col 1.20) is the same calf which was offered “in heaven,” certainly not “for sin” but for an offering; and “on earth,” where sin “reigned from Adam to Moses,” (Cf. Rom 5.14) he was offered “for sin.” And this is the one which suffered “outside the camp,” (Cf. Lev 4.2; Heb 13.12) outside that camp, I think, which Jacob had seen, the celestial camp of the angels of God about whom it was written in Genesis, “And when he looked up, Jacob saw the camp of God in its splendor, and the angels of God went up to him. And when he saw them, Jacob said, ‘This is the camp of God.’ “(Gen 32.1-2) Therefore, outside that heavenly camp is everything in which we live; this earthly place in which Christ suffered in the flesh.

Vide ergo ne forte Iesus, quem Paulus dicit “pacificasse” per sanguinem suum “non solum quae in terris, sed et quae in coelis sunt”, idem ipse sit vitulus, qui “in coelis” quidem non “pro peccato”, sed pro munere oblatus est, “in terris” autem, ubi “ab Adam usque ad Moysen regnavit” peccatum, oblatus sit “pro peccato”.

Et hoc est passum esse “extra castra”, extra illa, opinor, castra, quae viderat Iacob, angelorum Dei castra coelestia, de quibus scriptum est in Genesi: “et suscipiens Iacob vidit castra Dei in apparatu, et occurrerunt illi angeli Dei, et dixit Iacob, cum videret eos: castra Dei sunt haec”.

Extra illa ergo castra coelestia est omnis, in quo habitamus nos, locus iste terrenus, in quo in carne passus est Christus.

(4) When it says that it is burned up “with the dung and the intestines,” (Cf. Lev 4.11). see if perhaps this body of human nature is not figuratively called dung in comparison to the heavenly body. For it is earth and was taken from the earth. (Cf. Gen 3.19) But what does this basket of dung, which is put on the roots of the fig tree that was cut down, (Cf. Luke 13.7). show other than the mystery of the dispensation which was received in the body? Yet those intestines are not said to be lacking to it. For although “he put on the vile form of a slave,” (Cf. Phil. 2.7). “yet the fullness of divinity dwelt in him.” (Col 2.9)

Quod vero dicit quia “cum stercore” exuritur “et interaneis”, vide, ne forte ad comparationem coelestium corporum corpus istud humanae naturae stercus figuraliter appelletur.

Terra enim est et de terra sumptum.

Sed et cophinus ille stercoris, qui ad radices succidendae ficulneae mittitur, quid aliud quam mysterium susceptae in corpore dispensationis ostendit?

Nec tamen ei interanea deesse dicuntur.

Quamvis enim vilem “servi gesserit formam”, “plenitudo tamen in eo divinitatis habitabat”.

(5) Although these things have been discussed boldly, nevertheless the hearing of all the faithful ought always to be nourished for the greater things. The same interpretations must also be received concerning the calf of the congregation. (Cf. Lev 4.13)

Haec quamvis audacter discussa sint, tamen fidelium quorumque nutriri semper ad maiora debet auditus. Eadem quoque etiam de synagogae vitulo accipienda sunt.

4. IN the moral sense, this high priest can be seen as the understanding of piety and religion, which through the prayers and  supplications which we pour out to God, performs in us, as it were, a kind of priesthood. If this one should transgress in something, immediately “he makes all the people sin” (Cf. Lev 4.3). against the good acts which are within us. For we do not do any right deed when the understanding, the guide of good works, turns aside into wrong. For that reason, for correction of this, not just any kind of offering is required but the sacrifice “of the fatted calf” (Cf. Luke 15.23) itself. In like manner, the guilt of the congregation; that is, the correction of all virtues which are within us, is repaired through nothing other than by putting Christ to death.

4. In morali autem loco potest pontifex iste sensus pietatis et religionis videri, qui in nobis per orationes et obsecrationes, quas Deo fundimus, velut quodam sacerdotio fungitur.

Hic si in aliquo deliquerit, omnem continuo, qui intra nos est, bonorum actuum “peccare populum facit”.

Neque enim recti operis aliquid gerimus, cum in pravum declinaverit dux bonorum operum sensus, et ideo ad huius emendationem non qualiscumque hostia, sed ipsius “saginati vituli” requiritur sacrificium.

Similiter et synagogae culpa, hoc est omnium, quae intra nos sunt, virtutum emendatio non aliter quam ex Christi mortificatione reparatur.

(2) It says, “But if the prince sins, he shall offer a he-goat from the goats.” (Cf. Lev 4.22-23) This prince can be seen as the power of reason which is within us. If this [reason] sins in us and we do something foolish, then we must be fearful of that statement of the Savior which says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt has lost its taste, it is of value for nothing except to be thrown out and walked on by men.” (Matt 5.13) Therefore, this prince also has his offering.

“Si vero princeps” inquit “peccaverit, hircum offeret ex capris”.

Princeps iste potest videri vis rationis, quae intra nos est.

Quae si peccet in nobis et stultum aliquid agamus, pertimescenda nobis est illa sententia Salvatoris, quae dicit: “vos estis sal terrae.

Si autem sal infatuatum fuerit, ad nihilum valet, nisi ut proiciatur foras et conculcetur ab hominibus”.

Habet ergo et iste hostiam suam.

(3) But it also says, “If a soul sins, it shall offer a female goat,” (Lev 4.27-28) in like manner, as that substitution of offerings that we spoke of above.

Sed et “anima” inquit “una, si peccaverit, capram feminam” similiter “offeret”, secundum illam substitutionem hostiarum, quam superius memoravimus.

(4) But perhaps the hearers of the Church may say, generally it was better with the ancients than with us, when pardon for sinners was obtained by offering sacrifices in a diverse ritual. Among us, there is only one pardon of sins, which is given in the beginning through the grace of baptism. After this, no mercy nor any indulgence is granted to the sinner. Certainly, it is fitting that the Christian, “for whom Christ died,” (Cf. Rom 14.15) have a more difficult discipline. For the ancients, sheep, he-goats, cattle, and birds were killed and fine wheat flour was moistened. For you, the Son of God was killed. How could it please you to sin again? And yet, lest these things not so much build up your souls for virtue as cast them down to despair, you heard how many sacrifices there were in the Law for sins. Now hear how many are the remissions of sins in the gospel.

Sed fortasse dicant auditores ecclesiae: melius fere agebatur cum antiquis quam nobis cum, ubi oblatis diverso ritu sacrificiis peccantibus venia praestabatur.

Apud nos una tantummodo est venia peccatorum, quae per lavacri gratiam in initiis datur; nulla post haec peccanti misericordia nec venia ulla conceditur.

Decet quidem districtioris esse disciplinae Christianum, “pro quo Christus mortuus est”.

Pro illis oves, hirci, boves iugulabantur et aves et simila conspergebatur; pro te Dei filius iugulatus est et iterum te peccare delectat?

Et tamen, ne tibi haec non tam erigant animos pro virtute quam pro desperatione deiciant, audisti, quanta sint in lege sacrificia pro peccatis; audi nunc, quantae sint remissiones peccatorum in evangeliis.

The sevenfold remission of sin, See:  Cassian Cn 20.8;   Pseudo Caesarius;   CCC,


[1] (5) First is the one by which we are baptized “for the remission of sins.” (Cf. Mark 1.4)

Est ista prima, qua baptizamur “in remissionem peccatorum”.

[2] A second remission is in the suffering of martyrdom.

Secunda remissio est in passione martyrii.

[3] Third, is that which is given through alms. For the Savior says, “but nevertheless, give what you have and, behold, all things are clean for you.” (Luke 11.41)

Tertia est, quae per eleemosynam datur; dicit enim Salvator: “verum tamen date quae habetis et ecce, omnia munda sunt vobis”.

[4] A fourth remission of sins is given for us through the fact that we also forgive the sins of our brothers. For thus the Lord and Savior himself says, “If you will forgive from the heart your brothers’ sins, your Father will also forgive you your sins. But if you will not forgive your brothers from the heart, neither will your Father forgive you.” (Matt 6.14-15) And thus he taught us to say in prayer, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” (Matt 6.12)

Quarta nobis fit remissio peccatorum per hoc, quod et nos remittimus peccata fratribus nostris; sic enim dicit ipse Dominus et Salvator quia: “si remiseritis fratribus vestris ex corde peccata ipsorum, et vobis remittet pater vester peccata vestra. Quod si non remiseritis fratribus vestris ex corde, nec vobis remittet pater vester”, et sicut in oratione nos dicere docuit: “remitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos remittimus debitoribus nostris”.

[5] A fifth forgiveness of sins is when “someone will convert a sinner from the error of his way.” For thus divine Scripture says, “Whoever will make a sinner turn from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (Jas 5.20)

Quinta peccatorum remissio est, cum “converterit quis peccatorem ab errore vitae suae”. Ita enim dicit Scriptura divina quia “qui converti fecerit peccatorem ab errore viae suae, salvat animam a morte, et cooperit multitudinem peccatorum”.

[6] There is also a sixth forgiveness through the abundance of love as the Lord himself says, “Truly I say to you, her many sins are forgiven because she loved much.” (Luke 7.47) And the Apostle says, “Because love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet 4.8)

Sexta quoque fit remissio per abundantiam caritatis, sicut et ipse Dominus dicit: “Amen, dico tibi, remittuntur ei peccata sua multa, quoniam dilexit multum”, et Apostolus dicit: “quoniam caritas cooperit multitudinem peccatorum”.

[7] And there is still a seventh remission of sins through penance, although admittedly it is difficult and toilsome, when the sinner washes “his couch in tears” (Cf. Ps 6.7) and his “tears” become his “bread day and night,” (Cf. Ps 41.4) when he is not ashamed to make known his sin to the priest of the Lord and to seek a cure according to the one who says, “I said, ‘I will proclaim to the Lord my injustice against myself,’ and you forgave the impiety of my heart.” (Ps 31.5)

Est adhuc et septima, licet dura et laboriosa, per poenitentiam remissio peccatorum, cum lavat peccator “in lacrimis stratum” suum et fiunt ei “lacrimae” suae “panes die ac nocte”, cum non erubescit sacerdoti Domini indicare peccatum et quaerere medicinam, secundum eum, qui ait: “dixi: pronuntiabo adversum me iniustitiam meam Domino, et tu remisisti impietatem cordis mei”.

What the Apostle James said is fulfilled in this: “But if anyone is sick, let that person call the presbyters of the Church, and they will place their hands on him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and if he is in sins, they will be forgiven him.” (Jas 5.14-15)

In quo impletur et illud, quod Iacobus Apostolus dicit: “si qui autem infirmatur, vocet presbyteros ecclesiae, et imponant ei manus ungentes eum oleo in nomine Domini.

Et oratio fidei salvabit infirmum, et si in peccatis fuerit, remittentur ei”.

[1] (6) And you, therefore, when you come to the grace of baptism, you offer “a calf,” for “you are baptized into Christ’s death.” (Cf. Rom 6.3)

Et tu ergo cum venis ad gratiam baptismi “vitulum” obtulisti, quia “in mortem Christi” baptizaris.

[2] But when you are led to martyrdom, you offer “a he-goat,” because you kill the devil, the originator of sins.

Cum vero ad martyrium duceris, “hircum” obtulisti, quia auctorem peccati diabolum iugulasti.

[3] When you give alms and bestow the love of mercy moved by pity toward those in need, you load the sacred altar with fat goats.

Cum autem eleemosynam feceris et erga indigentes affectum misericordiae sollicita pietate dependeris, altare sacrum hoedis pinguibus onerasti.

[4] For “if you should forgive your brother’s sin from your heart” (Cf. Matt 18.35) and, having laid aside the tumor of your rage, gather within you a mild and simple spirit, be assured, you have killed your ram or offered your sheep in a sacrifice.

Nam si “ex corde remiseris peccatum fratri tuo” et iracundiae tumore deposito mitem intra te et simplicem recollegeris animum, immolasse te arietem vel agnum in sacrificium obtulisse confide.

[5] Furthermore, if, instructed in.the divine readings “by meditating as a dove” (Cf. Isa 38.14) and by keeping watch in “the Law” of the Lord “day and night,” (Cf. Ps 1.2) you should convert the sinner from his error and call him back from worthless wickedness to the innocence of a dove; and if, by clinging to the saints, (Cf. Ps 1.2) you should make him imitate the fellowship of a dove, you offered to the Lord “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Porro autem si divinis lectionibus instructus “meditando sicut columba” et “in lege” Domini vigilando “die ac nocte” ab errore suo converteris peccatorem et abiecta nequitia ad simplicitatem eum columbae revocaveris atque adhaerendo sanctis feceris eum societatem turturis imitari, “par turturum aut duos pullos columbarum” Domino obtulisti.

[6] Because of this “love” which is “greater” than hope or faith, (Cf. 1 Cor 13.13) should abound in your heart, so that “you love your neighbor” not only “as yourself” (Cf. Matt 19.19)  but as that one shows who said “No one has greater love than this, that he lays down his life for his friends,” (John 15.13) know that you have offered loaves made of fine wheat flour “kneaded in the oil” (Cf. Lev 2.4) of love, without any “fermentation of malice and wickedness in the unleavened loaf of purity and truth.” (Cf. 1 Cor 5.8)

Quod si illa, quae spe et fide “maior” est, “caritas” abundaverit in corde tuo, ita ut “diligas proximum tuum” non solum “sicut te ipsum”, sed sicut ostendit ille, qui dicebat: “maiorem hac caritatem nemo habet quam ut animam suam ponat pro amicis suis”, panes similacios “in” caritatis “oleo subactos” sine ullo “fermento malitiae et nequitiae in azymis sinceritatis et veritatis” te obtulisse cognosce.

[7] But if in the bitterness of your weeping you have been consumed in mourning, tears, and lamentations, if you have tortured your flesh and become parched with fastings and much self-restraint and have said, “My bones were fried as a frying pan,” (Cf. Ps 101.4) then you have offered “as a sacrifice, fine wheat flour from the frying pan or gridiron.” (Cf. Lev 2.4)  In this way, you will have discovered that you have offered sacrifices more fittingly and more perfectly, which Israel can no longer offer according to the Law.

Si autem in amaritudine fletus tui fueris luctu, lacrimis et lamentatione confectus, si carnem tuam maceraveris et ieiuniis ac multa abstinentia aridam feceris et dixeris quia “sicut frixorium confrixa sunt ossa mea”, tunc “sacrificium similam a sartagine vel a craticula” obtuleris; et hoc modo invenieris tu verius et perfectius secundum evangelium offerre sacrificia, quae secundum legem iam offerre non potest Istrahel.

5. BUT let us see what is also to be thought about these things that were just read. It says, “If one soul from the people of the land sins involuntarily by doing one of all the things commanded by the Lord that should not be done and transgresses, and the sin which that person sinned is a deed known to him, then he too will bring a female goat from the herd without blemish as a gift for the sin which he sinned.” (Lev 4.27-28)  And after this, as we explained above, it recorded the whole rite of sacrifice.

5. Sed videamus, quid etiam de his, quae nuper recitata sunt, sentiendum sit: “si autem” inquit “anima una peccaverit nolens ex populo terrae faciendo unum ab omnibus mandatis Domini, quod non fiet, et deliquerit, et notum factum fuerit illi peccatum quod peccavit, et adducet donum suum: capram de hoedis feminam sine macula adducet pro peccato, quo peccavit”.

Et omnem post haec sacrificii ritum, secundum quod supra exposuimus, enarravit.

(2) We explained in the preceding as best we could how the soul which makes an offering under the burden of sin is to be understood. But that which is added here saying, “if a soul from among the people of the earth sins,” does not seem pointless to me. For who would doubt that the things the Law says were spoken to souls or to the people who are in the earth? Therefore, why was it necessary that to the phrase “if a single soul sins” be added “from among the people of the earth”? Perhaps it would seem to distinguish other people who “are not of the earth” (Cf. John 3.31) that the soul that “sins” is said to be “from among the people of the earth.” For this saying cannot be applicable to him who said, “our conversation is in heaven whence we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus.” (Phil 3.20) Therefore, how could I have justly called this soul “from the people of the earth” which has nothing in common with the earth but is entirely in heaven and it lives there “where Christ is sitting at God’s right hand,” (Cf. Col 3.1) to which “it desires” to return “and to be with Christ. For this is much better, but it considers it necessary to remain in the flesh on our account.” (Phil 1.24-25)

De anima, quam sub peccato factam dicit offerre, qualiter sentiendum sit, in superioribus, prout potuimus, explanavimus; quod vero in hoc loco addidit, “anima” dicens “si peccaverit ex populo terrae”, non mihi videtur otiosum.

Quis enim dubitaret quod ea, quae dicit lex, ad animas vel ad populum, qui sunt in terra, dicerentur?

Quid ergo necessarium fuit, ut ad hoc, quod dixit: “anima una si peccaverit” adderet: “ex populo terrae”?

Sed videndum est, ne forte ad distinctionem alterius populi, qui non “est de terra”, haec anima, quae “peccaverit”, “de populo terrae” esse dicatur.

Neque enim convenire dictum hoc potest illi, qui dicebat: “nostra autem conversatio in coelis est, unde et Salvatorem exspectamus Dominum Iesum”.

Quomodo ergo istam animam merito dixerim “de populo terrae”, quae nihil habet commune cum terra, sed tota in coelis est et ibi conversatur, “ubi Christus est in dextera Dei sedens”, quo et redire “desiderat et esse cum Christo: multo enim melius; sed permanere in carne necessarium ducit propter nos”?

3) This soul which sins, therefore, is “from among the people of the earth, which from all the commands of God does one thing that it ought not do.” For a long time, something amazing in this word astonished me, for I see no logic in the saying that “a soul sins and does one thing from the commands of the Lord that it should not do.” For if it is a command of the Lord, how ought it not be done when surely the commands of the Lord are given to be done? How is it said here that a soul should have sinned which “does one of the commands of the Lord that it should not have done”? And perhaps some others see an error of speech made by the translators. But to me, more carefully inquiring, it was disclosed that all translators offered something similar, and for that reason, it was not an error of the translation. Rather what is needed is a sense of deeper meaning of the passage.

Haec ergo anima, quae peccat, “de populo terrae” est “faciens unum ab omnibus mandatis Domini, quod non fiet”.

Diu me in hoc sermone quidam stupor attonitum tenuit; non enim consequenter dictum video quod “peccaverit anima et fecerit unum ex mandatis Domini, quod non fiet”.

Si enim mandatum Domini est, quomodo fieri non debuit, cum utique ad hoc dentur mandata Domini, ut fiant?

Et quomodo hic dicitur peccasse anima, quae “fecit unum de mandatis Domini, quod non fiet”?

Et fortassis aliquibus videbitur error elocutionis per interpretes factus; sed mihi curiosius inquirenti compertum est omnes interpretes similiter protulisse, et ideo non elocutionis error, sed profundioris intelligentiae requirendus est sensus.

(4) Inasmuch as we can grasp it, this, it seems to me, is the solution. Some commands of God were given to be kept; others, not to be kept. But human necessity demanded that the things which ought to be done should be interspersed with those which ought not to be done. For example—let us take an example from these very things that we now have in hand— a lamb is commanded to be killed at the Passover; (Cf. Exod 12.3) certainly not as if God was requiring the offering of a lamb every year, but rather he designated that “that lamb” ought to be killed “who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1.29) Therefore, he wanted the latter done, not the former. Thus through Isaiah the Lord says, “ ‘What are the multitude of your sacrifices to me?’ I am full of them. I do not want whole burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of sheep, and the blood of bulls and he-goats.” (Isa 1.11) Did you hear how he does not want “an offering of rams nor the fat of sheep”? Yet, he gave the command in what way an offering either of bulls or of sheep ought to be offered. But the one who understands the Law spiritually seeks to offer these things spiritually. But if anyone should sacrifice according to the outward appearance of the command of the flesh, this is “one soul from the people of the land who sinned involuntarily, because he did that one thing that should not be done from all the commands of the Lord, sinned.” (Lev 4.27) And for this reason, it adds in the following, “and when the sin which he committed was made known to him, he will present his offering to the Lord.” (Lev 4.28) For the soul ought to present an offering when “it becomes known to it” that God does not seek a carnal sacrifice because “a crushed spirit is a sacrifice to God.” (Ps 50.19) Therefore, “its sin becomes known to it” when it learns from the Lord who says, “I prefer mercy rather than sacrifice”; (Hos 6.6) and when it should know to offer “a sacrifice of praise” in the Church and to render “prayers to the Most High,” (Cf. Ps 49.14) through Christ our Lord, “to whom be praise and glory forever and ever. Amen!” (Cf. Rom 16.27)

In quantum ergo nobis occurrere potest, haec mihi videtur absolutio.

Mandata Domini quaedam data sunt, ut fiant, quaedam, ut non fiant.

Sed ea, quae fieri debent, necessitas poposcit humana, ut inserta illis proferrentur, quae fieri non deberent.

Verbi gratia - ut de his ipsis, quae nunc habemus in manibus, sacrificiis proferamus exemplum - agnus immolari iubetur in Pascha, non quo vere agni hostiam per singulos annos requireret Deus, sed quo designaret immolari debere “illum agnum, qui tollit peccatum mundi”.

Hoc ergo fieri voluit, illud noluit.

Sic enim per Esaiam dicit: “quo mihi multitudinem sacrificiorum vestrorum? dicit Dominus.

Plenus sum, holocausta arietum et adipem agnorum et sanguinem taurorum et hircorum nolo”.

Audisti, quomodo non vult “hostiam arietum nec adipes agnorum”?

Dedit tamen mandatum, quomodo vel taurorum vel agnorum hostia deberet offerri.

Sed qui legem spiritaliter intelligit, spiritaliter haec quaerit offerre.

Si vero qui secundum speciem mandati carnalis obtulerit, haec est “anima una ex populo terrae, quae peccavit nolens faciendo unum ab omnibus mandatis Domini, quod non fiet, et deliquit”, et ideo adiungit in subsequentibus: “et cum notum factum fuerit illi peccatum, quod peccavit, adducet munus suum ante Dominum”.

Debet enim munus offerre anima, cum “ei innotuerit” quia Deus non quaerit carnale sacrificium, quia “sacrificium Deo est spiritus contribulatus”.

“Notum fit” ergo “ei peccatum suum”, cum didicerit a Domino dicente: “misericordiam malo quam sacrificium”, et cum agnoverit immolare “sacrificium laudis” in ecclesia et reddere “altissimo vota sua”, per Christum Dominum nostrum, “cui laus et gloria in saecula saeculorum Amen!”.





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