Dialogue of Origen with Heraclides and the Bishops with him concerning the Father and the Son and the Soul
Dialogue of Origen with Heraclides and the Bishops with him concerning the Father and the Son and the Soul.
After the bishops present had raised questions concerning the faith of the bishop Heraclides, that he might confess before all the faith which he held, and after each one had said what he thought and asked questions, Heraclides said:
I also believe what the sacred Scriptures say: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him nothing was made." Accordingly, we hold the same faith that is taught in these words, and we believe that Christ took flesh, that he was born, that he went up to heaven in the flesh in which he rose again, that he is sitting at the right hand of the Father, and that thence he shall come and judge the living and the dead, being God and man.
Origen said: Since once an inquiry has begun it is proper to say something upon the subject of the inquiry, I will speak. The whole church is present and listening. It is not right that there should be any difference in knowledge between one church and another, for you are not the false church. I charge you, father Heraclides: God is the almighty, the uncreated, the supreme God who made all things. Do you hold this doctrine?
Heracl.: I do. That is what I also believe.
Orig.: Christ Jesus who was in the form of God, being other than the God in whose form he existed, was he God before he came into the body or not?
Heracl.: He was God before.
Orig.: Was he God before he came into the body or not?
Heracl.: Yes, he was.
Orig.: Was he God distinct from this God in whose form he existed?
Heracl.: Obviously he was distinct from another being and, since he was in the form of him who created all things, he was distinct from him.
Orig.: Is it true then that there was a God, the Son of God, the only begotten of God, the firstborn of all creation, and that we need have no fear of saying that in one sense there are two Gods, while in another there is one God?
Heracl.: What you say is evident. But we affirm that God is the almighty, God without beginning, without end, containing all things and not contained by anything; and that his Word is the Son of the living God, God and man, through whom all things were made, God according to the spirit, man inasmuch as he was born of Mary.
Orig.: You do not appear to have answered my question. Explain what you mean. For perhaps I failed to follow you. Is the Father God?
Orig.: Is the Son distinct from the Father?
Heracl.: Of course. How can he be Son if he is also Father?
Orig.: While being distinct from the Father is the Son himself also God?
Heracl.: He himself is also God.
Orig.: And do two Gods become a unity?
Orig.: Do we confess two Gods?
Heracl.: Yes. The power is one.
Orig.: But as our brethren take offence at the statement that there are two Gods, we must formulate the doctrine carefully, and show in what sense they are two and in what sense the two are one God. Also the holy Scriptures have taught that several things which are two are one. And not only things which are two, for they have also taught that in some instances more than two, or even a very much larger number of things, are one. Our present task is not to broach a problematic subject only to pass it by and deal cursorily with the matter, but for the sake of the simple folk to chew up, so to speak, the meat, and little by little to instill the doctrine in the ears of our hearers. . . . Accordingly, there are many things which are two that are said in the Scriptures to be one. What passages of Scripture? Adam is one person, his wife another. Adam is distinct from his wife, and his wife is distinct from her husband. Yet it is said in the story of the creation of the world that they two are one: "For the two shall be one flesh." Therefore, sometimes two beings can become one flesh. Notice, however, that in the case of Adam and Eve it is not said that the two shall become one spirit, nor that the two shall become one soul, but that they shall become one flesh. Again, the righteous man is distinct from Christ; but he is said by the apostle to be one with Christ: "For he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit." Is it not true that the one is of a subordinate nature or of a low and inferior nature, while Christ's nature is divine and glorious and blessed? Are they therefore no longer two? Yes, for the man and the woman are "no longer two but one flesh," and the righteous man and Christ are "one spirit." So in relation to the Father and God of the universe, our Saviour and Lord is not one flesh, nor one spirit, but something higher than flesh and spirit, namely, one God. The appropriate word when human beings are joined to one another is flesh. The appropriate word when a righteous man is joined to Christ is spirit. But the word when Christ is united to the Father is not flesh, nor spirit, but more honourable than these —God. That is why we understand in this sense "I and the Father are one." When we pray, because of the one party let us preserve the duality, because of the other party let us hold to the unity. In this way we avoid falling into the opinion of those who have been separated from the Church and turned to the illusory notion of monarchy, who abolish the Son as distinct from the Father and virtually abolish the Father also. Nor do we fall into the other blasphemous doctrine which denies the deity of Christ. What then do the divine Scriptures mean when they say: "Beside me there is no other God, and there shall be none after me," and "I am and there is no God but me"? In these utterances we are not to think that the unity applies to the God of the universe . . . in separation from Christ, and certainly not to Christ in separation from God. Let us rather say that the sense is the same as that of Jesus' saying, "I and my Father are one."
It is necessary to study these doctrines because there has been much disturbance in this church. Often people write and demand a signature of the bishop and of those they suspect, asking that they should give their signatures in the presence of all the people, that there may be no further disturbance or dispute about this question. Accordingly, with the permission of God and secondly of the bishops, thirdly of the presbyters, and also of the people, I will again say, what I think on this subject.
Offering is universally made to Almighty God through Jesus Christ inasmuch as, in respect of his deity, he is akin to the Father. Let there be no double offering, but an offering to God through God. I shall seem to be speaking in a daring manner. When we pray let us abide by the agreements. If the word: "Thou shalt not respect the person of man, nor allow thyself to be impressed by the person of the mighty" is not realized. If this is not realized . . . these agreements, it will give rise to fresh disputes. . . . If a man is a bishop or a presbyter, he is not a bishop, he is not a presbyter. If he is a deacon, he is not a deacon, nor even a layman. If he is a layman, he is not a layman, nor is there a meeting of the congregation. If you assent, let these agreed usages prevail.
Some people raise the objection that, with reference to the problem of deity, while I have thus attributed deity to Jesus Christ substantially, I have professed before the church my faith that at the resurrection the body which rose had been a corpse. But since our Saviour and Lord took a body, let us examine what the body was. The church alone in distinction from all the heresies that deny the resurrection confesses the resurrection of the dead body. For from the fact that the firstfruits were raised from the dead, it follows that the dead are raised. "Christ the firstfruits"; on that account his body became a corpse. For if his body had not become a corpse, capable of being wrapped in a grave-cloth, of receiving the ointment and all the other things applied to dead bodies, and of being laid in a tomb—these are things that cannot be done to a spiritual body. For it is entirely impossible for that which is spiritual to become a corpse, neither can that which is spiritual become insensible. For if it were possible for that which is spiritual to become a corpse, we would have reason to fear lest after the resurrection of the dead, when our body is raised, according to the apostle's saying, "It is sown animate, it is raised spiritual," we shall all die. . . . In fact "Christ being raised from the dead dies no more." And not only Christ, but those who are Christ's, when they are raised from the dead, die no more. If you agree to these statements, they also with the solemn testimony of the people shall be made legally binding and established.
What else is there to be said concerning the faith? Do you agree to this, Maximus? Say.
Maximus: May everyone hold the same doctrines as I do. Before God and the Church I both give my signature and make my oath. But the reason why I raised a certain question was in order that I might be in no doubt or uncertainty at all. For the brethren know that this is what I said: "I need the help of my brother and instruction on this point." If the spirit was truly given back to the Father, in accordance with the saying, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," and if without the spirit the flesh died and lay in the tomb, how was the tomb opened and how are the dead to rise again?
Orig.: That man is a composite being we have learnt from the sacred Scriptures. For the apostle says, "May God sanctify your spirit and your soul and your body," and "May he sanctify you wholly, and may your entire spirit and soul and body be preserved unblameable at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." This spirit is not the Holy Spirit, but part of the constitution of man, as the same apostle teaches when he says: "The spirit bears witness with our spirit." For if it were the Holy Spirit he would not have said: "The spirit bears witness with our spirit." So then our Saviour and Lord, wishing to save man in the way in which he wished to save him, for this reason desired in this way to save the body, just as it was likewise his will to save also the soul; he also wished to save the remaining part of man, the spirit. The whole man would not have been saved unless he had taken upon him the whole man. They do away with the salvation of the human body when they say that the body of the Saviour is spiritual. They do away with the salvation of the human spirit, concerning which the apostle says: "No man knows the things of man except the spirit of man that is in him." . . . Because it was his will to save the spirit of man, about which the apostle said this, he also assumed the spirit of man. At the time of the passion these three were separated. At the time of the resurrection these three were united. At the time of the passion they were separated—how? The body in the tomb, the soul in Hades, the spirit was put in the hands of the Father. The soul in Hades: "Thou shalt not leave my soul in Hades." If the spirit was put into the hands of the Father, he gave the spirit as a deposit. It is one thing to make a gift, another thing to hand over, and another to leave in deposit. He who makes a deposit does so with the intention of receiving back that which he has deposited. Why then had he to give the spirit to the Father as a deposit? The question is beyond me and my powers and my understanding. For I am not endowed with knowledge to enable me to say that, just as the body was not able to go down to Hades, even if this is alleged by those who affirm that the body of Jesus was spiritual, so also neither could the spirit go down to Hades, and therefore he gave the spirit to the Father as a deposit until he should have risen from the dead. . . . After he had entrusted this deposit to the Father, he took it back again. When? Not at the actual moment of the resurrection, but immediately after the resurrection. My witness is the text of the gospel. The Lord Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. Mary met him and he said to her: "Touch me not." For he wished anyone that touched him to touch him in his entirety, that having touched him in his entirety he might be benefited in body from his body, in soul from his soul, in spirit from his spirit. "For I am not yet ascended to the Father." He ascends to the Father and comes to the disciples. Accordingly he ascends to the Father. Why? To receive back the deposit.
All the questions about the faith which disturbed us have been examined. But we must realize that at the divine tribunal we are not judged for faith alone, as if our life were left unexamined, nor for our life alone, as if our faith were not subject to scrutiny. We are justified on the ground that both are correct. We are punished for both if both are incorrect. There are some, however, who will not be punished for both, but for one of the two: some for their faith because it is defective, but not because their life is lacking in right conduct; others, again, will not be punished for their faith, but will be for their life, on the ground that they have lived a life contrary to right reason. My opinion is that in the Proverbs of Solomon these two kinds (I mean that which concerns our belief and knowledge and that which concerns our manner of life) are mentioned by Solomon in the following words: "Who shall boast that he has a pure heart? Or who shall present himself saying that he is free from sins?" The difference between these we take to be this: the "heart" means the thought, the "sins" refer to actions. "Who shall boast that he has a pure heart" which is undefiled by the knowledge falsely so-called, undefiled by falsehood? Or "who shall present himself saying that he is free from sins," having done nothing amiss in his practical conduct? If then we wish to be saved, let us not be concerned about faith to the neglect of practical conduct of life, nor again let us place our confidence in our life. Let us realize, let us comprehend, let us believe that it is on the ground of both that we either receive our acquittal or blessedness, or receive the opposite of these. The things that are liable to punishment, therefore, are not merely the terrible and fearful sins which should not even be named, whether sins of life or of thought, but also sins commonly thought to be of less importance. That is why, it seems, the apostle puts side by side with acts which are abominable, infamous, and revolting (if I may so say) things which are regarded by most people as of little significance. What does he say? "Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate men, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor drunkards, nor revilers, shall inherit the kingdom of God." You see that together with such gross sinners as the homosexual person, the effeminate man, the adulterer, the fornicator, he enumerates the drunkard, the reviler—sins thought by all of us to be of small account, so that we may be taught that it is not for the great sins alone that we are excluded from the kingdom of God, but also for these which are commonly supposed to be of minor significance. Therefore, let us not revile, nor be drunkards, nor extort, nor steal, nor do anything wrong, even if we are "deceived."
If there is any further point to raise concerning the Rule of faith, mention it. We will speak still further upon the Scripture.
Dionysius said: Is the soul the blood?
Orig.: It has come to my notice, and I say this with full knowledge of the facts, that some of the folk here and in the neighbourhood suppose that after the soul has departed this life it is incapable of feeling, but is in the tomb, in the body. And I know that on this question I was impelled to deal very severely with the other Heraclides and Celer his predecessor, so severely in fact that I would have preferred to leave the subject and to go away. But for the sake of honour and for the subject under debate he summoned us to deal with it. We agreed to discuss the matter; he made a statement. . .how the former cleared himself before us, as though before God, by his orthodox statements.
Accordingly, the question posed by the beloved Dionysius forces our hand. I shall first set out the passages which trouble them, lest any one of them be omitted, and by God's permission we will answer each one of them in accordance with your request.
The disturbing passage is as follows: "The soul of all flesh is blood." This text has terribly distressed those who have not understood it. Also, "Ye shall not eat the soul with the flesh; pay strict heed to see that you eat no blood; ye shall not eat the soul with the flesh." The disturbing text is this one. For the other distressing texts are far less emphatic in expressing the idea suggested here. For my part, according to my measure of understanding, and praying for assistance in reading the divine words (for we are in need of help lest our minds should conceive ideas diverging from the truth), I have found that incorporeal things are given the same names as all the corporeal things, so that just as corporeal things apply to the outer man, those which are given the same names as corporeal things apply to the inner man. The Bible says that man is two men: "For if our outward man perish, yet our inward man is renewed day by day," and "I rejoice in the law of God after the inward man." These two men the apostle everywhere shows to be distinct. In my judgment he would not have ventured to invent this notion out of his own head, but rather said this because he had clearly understood statements in the Scriptures which are obscurely expressed. Some people imagine that there is a mere repetition when in the story of the creation of the world after the creation of man we read "God took dust of the earth and formed man." The corollary of this interpretation is that it is the body which is the part "after the image," and that God is given a human form, or that the form of God is shaped like the human body. But we are not so crazy as to say either that God is composed of a superior and an inferior element so that that which is in his image is like him in both elements, which constitute God in his completeness, or that that which is in his image consisted rather in the inferior part and not in the superior.
The questions are highly delicate. We need hearers who have an acute understanding. I therefore charge those who listen to pay heed to themselves lest they should make me liable to the accusation of casting holy things to the dogs, to shameless souls.
For the barkers, like dogs, those who think only of fornication and abuse, do nothing but yelp like dogs, and it is not right for me to cast holy things before such folk. So also I charge my hearers that they do not make me liable to the accusation of laying splendid pearls, which we try to collect like good merchants, before people steeped in the impurities of their bodies, and who are therefore called swine.
For I would say that a person who continually steeps himself and wallows in the filth of life and makes no attempt to live a pure life, a holy life, is simply a swine. If then, because the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking goodly pearls, I find the goodly pearls, and having bought them at the price of weariness and sleeplessness I fling them before pleasure-loving souls, and those who are steeped in the filth of the body and in impurity, then I also will be a transgressor because I am casting pearls before swine. But when the swine have got the pearls, because they do not perceive their beauty nor see their excellence, they tread them under foot by speaking evil of what was rightly said, and not only do they trample the pearls under foot, but they also turn and rend those who supplied them with the pearls.
I beseech you, therefore, be transformed. Resolve to learn that in you there is the capacity to be transformed, and to put off the form of a swine, which is in an impure soul, and the shape of a dog, which is that of a man who barks and reviles and pours out abuse. It is also possible to be transformed from the shape of snakes; for a wicked man is described as a serpent and "the offspring of vipers." If, then, we are willing to understand that in us there is the power to be transformed from being serpents, swine, and dogs, let us learn from the apostle that the transformation depends upon us. For he says this: "We all, when with unveiled face we reflect the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image." If you are like a barking dog, and if the Word has moulded and transformed you, you have been transformed from being a dog to being a man. If you were impure and the Word came to your soul and you submitted yourself to the moulding of the Word, you changed from being a swine to being a man. If you were a savage beast, and heard the Word that tames and softens, that changes you into a man, by the will of the Word you will no longer be called a serpent, the offspring of vipers. For if it were impossible for these serpents, serpents in their soul because of wickedness, to be changed, the Saviour (or John) would not have said: "Do therefore fruits worthy of repentance." After repentance you are no longer a serpent, the offspring of vipers.
Since it is our task to speak about man, and to inquire whether the soul of man is not blood, and since this subject required us to discuss in detail the doctrine of the two men, and as we have come to a mysterious subject, I beseech you that you do not cause me to be accused of casting pearls before swine, of throwing holy things to the dogs, of flinging divine things to serpents, of giving the serpent a share in the tree of life. That I may avoid this accusation, be transformed, put off evil, quarrelling, wrath, strife, anger, division of opinion, that there may not be any further schisms among you but that "you may be firmly established in the same mind and the same judgment."
To speak makes me embarrassed, and not to speak makes me embarrassed. Because of those who are worthy I would speak, lest I be accused of depriving of the word those able to understand it. Because of the unworthy I shrink from speaking for the reasons I have given, lest I should be flinging holy things to dogs and casting pearls before swine. It was the work of Jesus only to know how to distinguish among his hearers between those without and those within, so that he spoke to those without in parables, but explained the parables to those who entered into his house. To remain without and to enter intothe house have a mystical meaning. "Why should I judge those that are without?" Every sinner is without. That is why those without are addressed in parables in case they should be able to leave the things without and enter within. To enter the house has a mystical meaning: he who enters Jesus' house is his true disciple. He enters by holding the doctrine of the church, by living a life according to the teaching of the church. "Within" and "without" are spiritual terms.
You see how long an introduction I have given in order to prepare my hearers. I shrink from speaking. When I am on the point of speaking I put it off. What is my purpose in doing this? To shape my discourse so as to heal the souls of my hearers.
At the creation of man, then, there was first created the man that is "after the image," in whom there was nothing material. He who is in the image is not made out of matter. "And God said, Let us make man in our image and likeness, and let them have dominion" and so on. And when God made man he did not take dust of the earth, as he did the second time, but he made him in the image of God. That that which is in the image of God is understood as immaterial and superior to all corporeal existence not only by Moses but also by the apostle is shown by his words, as follows: "Putting off the old man with his deeds and putting on the new which is renewed in the knowledge of him who created him."
Therefore in each one of us there are two men. Why does Scripture say that the soul of all flesh is blood? It is a great problem. Just as the outward man has the same name as the inward man, so also this is true of his members, so that one may say that every member of the outward man has a name corresponding to what is true of the inward man. The outward man has eyes, and the inward man also is said to have eyes: "Lighten my eyes lest I sleep in death." This does not refer to these eyes, nor to physical sleep, nor to ordinary death. "The commandment of the Lord, luminous, enlightens the eyes." By keeping the commandments of the Lord we do not become more sharp-sighted physically but by keeping the divine commands we become more sharp-sighted in mind. The eyes of our inward man see with greater perception: "Open my eyes and I shall comprehend the wonders of thy Law." It is not that his eyes were veiled; but our eyes are our mind. It is for Jesus alone to unveil them, that we may be able to understand the Scriptures and comprehend what is obscurely expressed.
The outward man has ears, and the inward man also is said to have ears. "He that has ears to hear, let him hear." They all had ears as organs of physical sense; but they had not all succeeded in having the inward ears which are purified. To possess the latter sort of ears is not part of our natural constitution; the former are part of our nature. And because the former sort of ears are part of our nature the prophet says, "Hear ye deaf, and ye blind, look and see. Who is deaf but my servants, and who is blind but those who are their lords? Even the servants of God are blinded." That to become deaf is what we bring upon ourselves—let us pay attention: what I am saying will affect all of us; it is necessary to describe the inward man to discover what the blood is—that to become deaf in respect of the inward ears is something we bring upon ourselves, hear the declaration of the prophet: "Sinners are alienated from the womb; they have erred from the womb. They have spoken lies. Wrath is upon them after the likeness of the serpent, like a deaf adder which stops her ears, which does not hear the voice of those who enchant her and the incantation pronounced by a wise man." And all of you also who are aware that you are responsible, if you hear the word and the incantation pronounced by a wise man and listen to the enchanting words, so that he may check your wrath and iniquity, and if then, you shut your ears, and do not throw them wide open to accept what is said, then to you apply the words: "Wrath is on them after the likeness of the serpent like a deaf adder which stops her ears, which does not hear the voice of those who enchant her and the incantation pronounced by a wise man." The outward man has nostrils with which to smell, and so perceives good and bad smells; and the inner man with different nostrils perceives the good smell of righteousness and the bad smell of sins. Of the good smell the apostle teaches us when he says, "We are a sweet savour of Christ unto God in every place, among them that are saved and them that are perishing; to the one a savour of death unto death, to the others a savour of life unto life." And Solomon also says in the Song of Songs, putting the words into the mouth of the daughters of Jerusalem: "After thee we will run to the odour of thy perfumes." As, then, we perceive with our nostrils good and bad smells in the world of sense, so also for the inward man there is a perception of the good smell of righteousness such as the apostle had, and an evil smell of sins, which is possessed by the person whose divine senses are in good health. What is the evil smell of sins? That of which the prophet says this: "My sores have become foul and rotten in face of my foolishness." The outward man has the sense of taste; and the inner man also has a spiritual taste, of which it is said: "Taste and see that the Lord is kindly."
The outward man has physical touch. The inner man also has touch, that touch by which the woman with the issue of blood touched the hem of Jesus' garment. She touched it. For he witnessed to the fact saying, "Who touched me?" Yet just before Peter said to him, "The crowds throng you and you say, Who touched me?" He imagined that those who touched him, touched by physical, not spiritual contact. Those, therefore, who thronged Jesus did not touch him. For they did not touch him by faith. Only the woman, who had a sort of divine touch, touched Jesus and by this was healed. And because she touched him with a divine touch, power went out from Jesus at her divine touch. He says therefore: "Who touched me? For I have felt power to go forth from me." Concerning this more divine touch John says: "And our hands have handled concerning the word of life."
In this way we possess other hands, concerning which it is said: "Let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice." For it is not when I lift up these hands, while the hands of my soul hang down instead of being lifted up by holy and good works, that the lifting up of my hands becomes an evening sacrifice. I also have feet of a different kind, concerning which Solomon commands me saying, "Let not thy foot stumble." There is a curious saying in Ecclesiastes. To anyone that does not understand it it will seem meaningless, but it is for the wise man that Ecclesiastes says: "The wise man has his eyes in his head." In what head? Every man, even the blockhead and the fool, has his bodily eyes in his bodily head. But "the wise man has his eyes" (those of which I have already spoken, which are enlightened by the Lord's commandment) "in his head," in Christ, since "Christ is the head of a man," the apostle says. The thinking faculty is in Christ. "My belly, my belly is in pain," says Jeremiah. In what belly is he in pain? That in which we too feel pain, that by which, when it is in travail bringing the people to birth; "I suffer pain in my belly and my sense"—not these senses, but those of my heart.
Even if I pass on to the fine parts of the body, I see them in the soul under an unfleshly form. "Lord, reprove me not in thine anger; chastise me not in thy anger. Have pity on me, Lord, for I am feeble. Heal me Lord, for my bones are troubled." What bones of the prophet were troubled? The constitution of his soul and the firmness of his mind was troubled, and he implored the Lord for the restoration of those bones. "Our bones are scattered in Hades." What bones of the speaker were scattered in Hades? Consider, I pray you, the sinner, consider his frame in the domain of sin, in the domain of the dead, in the domain of evil, and you will say of such a man that his bones are scattered. "All my bones will say, Lord who is like unto thee?" They are the bones which speak, converse with, and perceive God, whereas these bones are incapable of perception, as is shown by the sons of physicians; when they saw off a man's bones, he does not feel the saw. "All my bones will say, Lord who is like unto thee?" All the bones are those which belong to the inner man.
The inner man has a heart. "Hear me, ye who have lost your heart." They possessed a heart, that of the body; it was not that heart which they lost. But when a man neglects to cultivate his intellectual life, and in consequence of much idleness his thinking capacity has atrophied, he has lost his heart, and it is to such a person that the words are added: "Hear me, ye who have lost your heart." "The hairs of your head are all numbered." What hairs? Those by virtue of which they were Nazirites in a spiritual sense.
Thus you have all the parts of the visible body in the inner man. Do not doubt, then, concerning the blood also because it has the same name as physical blood, like the other members of the body. It is that which belongs to the inner man. It is that blood which is poured forth from a sinful soul. For "The blood of your souls shall be required." It does not say "your blood" but "the blood of your souls." And "I will require the blood at the hand of the watchman." What kind of blood does God require at the hand of the watchman, but that which is poured forth from the sinner? Thus the heart of the fool perishes, and it is said, "Hear me, ye who have lost your heart," because there is poured forth the blood and the vital power of the soul. If one comprehends what the soul is, and that it belongs to the inner man, and that it is in that part there is the element which is "in the image," it is clear that Paul was right when he said: "For it were better to depart and to be with Christ."
Before the resurrection the righteous man is with Christ and in his soul he lives with Christ. That is why it is better to depart and to be with Christ. But according to you who say that the soul remains in the tomb with the body, it has not left the body, it does not rest, it does not dwell in the paradise of God, it does not repose in the bosom of Abraham. According to you who maintain such absurd doctrines it would not be better to depart and to be with Christ. For one is not with Christ as soon as one departs if the soul is the blood. If the soul remains in the tombs, how can it be with Christ? But according to my view and that of the word of God, the soul which has departed from the troubles, the sweat, and the body, that which can say, "Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace," is that which departs in peace and rests with Christ. It is thus that the soul of Abraham understood the words: "As for thee, thou shalt go in peace to thy fathers, having lived to a good old age." He departed to his fathers. What fathers? Those of whom Paul says: "For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of whom all fatherhood is derived." In our view it was in this sense that Aaron was set free. Also it is written in Ecclesiastes concerning the just man who has fought a good fight, who is departing from the fetter of the body, that "From the house of the prisoners he will go forth to be a king." Thus I am persuaded to die for the truth, thus I readily despise what is called death. Bring wild beasts, bring crosses, bring fire, bring tortures. I know that as soon as I die, I come forth from the body, I rest with Christ.
Therefore let us struggle, therefore let us wrestle, let us groan being in the body, not as if we shall again be in the tombs in the body, because we shall be set free from it, and shall change our body to one which is more spiritual. Destined as we are to be with Christ, how we groan while we are in the body!
Bishop Philip came in, and Demetrius, another bishop, said: Brother Origen teaches that the soul is immortal.
Orig.: The remark of father Demetrius has given us the starting point for another problem. He asserted that we have said the soul is immortal. To this remark I will say that the soul is immortal and the soul is not immortal. Let us first define the meaning of the word "death," and determine all its possible senses. I will try to show all its meanings not by appealing to the Greeks, but all its meanings as found in the divine Scripture. Perhaps one more learned than I will point out other senses also. But for the present I am aware of three kinds of death. What are these three kinds of death? According to the apostle, a man may live unto God and die unto sin. This death is a blessed thing. A man dies to sin. This death my Lord died. "For in that he died, he died unto sin." I know also another sort of death, according to which a man dies to God; concerning this it was said: "The soul that sins, it shall die." And I know of a third kind of death, according to which we commonly suppose that those who are separated from the body die. For "Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years and died." There being, then, three kinds of death, let us see whether the human soul is immortal in respect of the three kinds of death, or if not in respect of the three, yet in respect of some of them. The death that is a matter of moral indifference all men die. It is that which we consider dissolution. No soul of man dies this death. For if it did so, it would not be punished after death. It is said: "Men shall seek for death and shall not find it." In this sense every human soul is immortal. But in the other meanings, the soul in one sense is mortal, and blessed if it dies to sin.
It is of this death that Balaam spoke when he prophesied, praying by divine inspiration: "May my soul die among the souls of the just." Concerning this death Balaam made his astonishing prophecy, and by the word of God he made for himself a splendid prayer. For he prayed that he might die to sin that he might live unto God. And this account he said: "May my soul die among the souls of the just and my posterity be like their posterity. There is another death in respect of which we are not immortal, although we have the power by exercising vigilance to avoid death. And perhaps that which is mortal in the soul is not for ever mortal. For in so far as it gives way to sin, so that the word is realized which says, "the soul that sins, it shall die," the soul is mortal and dies a real death. But if it is found firmly established in blessedness so that it is inaccessible to death, because it has eternal life, it is no longer mortal but in this sense has even become immortal. How is it that the apostle says of God: "He who alone has immortality"? On investigation I find that Christ Jesus "died for all apart from God." There you have the explanation how God alone has immortality.
Let us therefore take up eternal life. Let us take up that which depends upon our decision. God does not give it to us. He sets it before us. "Behold, I have set life before thy face." It is in our power to stretch out our hand, to do good works, and to lay hold on life and deposit it in our soul. This life is the Christ who said: "I am the life." This life is that which now is present in shadow, but then will be face to face. "For the spirit before our face is Christ of whom we may say, In his shadow we shall live among the nations." If the mere shadow of life that is yours offers you so many good things, that shadow which Moses had when he prophesied, that shadow which Isaiah possessed when he saw the Lord Sabaoth sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, which Jeremiah had when he heard the words: "Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee, and before thou didst come forth from the womb I sanctified thee," which Ezekiel had when he saw the Cherubim, when he saw the wheels, the ineffable mysteries: what sort of life shall we live when we are no longer living under the shadow of life but are in life itself. For now "our life is hid with Christ; but when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory."
Let us haste towards this life, groaning and grieving that we are in this tent, that we dwell in the body. So long as we are present in the body, we are absent from the Lord. Let us long to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord, that being present with him we may become one with the God of the universe and his only begotten Son, being saved in all things and becoming blessed, in Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Dialogues of Origen: with Heraclides and the bishops with him, concerning the Father and the Son and the Soul.