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18 October 2010

Origen on Apocalyptic Gospels

Commentary of the day : 

Origen (c.185-253), priest and theologian 
Homilies on Saint Luke, no. 1,1-2 (cf. SC 87, p. 99) 


« So that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received» (Lk 1,4)


      «Many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled amongst us... I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received» (Lk 1,1-4)

      In former times many among the Jews claimed to have the gift of prophecy but some were false prophets... It was the same at the time of the New Testament, when many «have tried» to write gospels but not all have been accepted... The words «have tried» contain a hidden accusation against those who set about composing gospels without the grace of the Holy Spirit. Matthew, Mark, John and Luke did not «try» to write but, filled with the Holy Spirit, were those who wrote the true gospels...

            Thus the Church possesses four gospels; the heretics have any number of them... «Many have tried to write» but only four gospels have been recognised, and it is from those that we must draw what we need to know about our Lord and Savior's person if light is to be thrown on it. I know there is a gospel called «according to Thomas» and another «according to Matthias», and we are reading some others also lest we give the impression of ignorance before those who think they know a thing or two when they know these texts. But in all this we only approve what the Church approves: we should only recognise four gospels. This, then, is what can be said about the text of Saint Luke's prologue: «Many have tried to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled amongst us." 

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