Friday, November 26, 2010

Photius on Origen's De Principiis

Taken from Photius' Bibliotheca


"Read Origen's four books On First Principles. The first deals with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. In this his statements are often blasphemous; thus, he asserts that the Son was created by the Father, the Holy Ghost by the Son; that the Father pervades all existing things, the Son only those that are endowed with reason, the Holy Ghost only those that are saved. He also makes other strange and impious statements, indulging in frivolous talk about the migration of souls, the stars being alive, and the like. This first book is full of fables about the Father, Christ (as he calls the Son), the Holy Ghost, and creatures endowed with reason. In the second book he treats of the world and created things. He asserts that the God of the Law and the prophets, of the Old and the New Testament, is one and the same; that there was the same Holy Spirit in Moses, the rest of the prophets, and the Holy Apostles. He further discusses the Incarnation of the Saviour, the soul, resurrection, punishment, and promises. The third book deals with free will; how the devil and hostile powers, according to the Scriptures, wage war against mankind; that the world was created and is perishable, having had a beginning in time. The fourth book treats of the final end, the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, and the proper manner of reading and understanding them."


Anonymous said...

Hello Edgar.

Sorry to post a question on a post about a different writer.

Please, could you give the context for the following quote on one of your older posts and also the details of the Translator, date etc?

It is very interesting.


(Lactantius): “...In fine, of all the angels, whom the same God formed from his own breath, he alone was admitted into a participation of his supreme power, he alone was called God. For all things were through him, and nothing was without him...” (Epitome 42).

I cannot find a copy of this online. Could you please also provide a link if possible?

It makes an interesting cross reference to the following:

(LACANTIUS): "...God, therefore, the contriver and founder of all things, as we have said in the second book, before He commenced this excellent work of the world, begat a pure and incorruptible (SPIRIT), whom He (called) His Son. And although He had afterwards created by Himself INUMERABLE OTHER BEINGS, WHOM WE CALL (ANGELS), - (THIS) FIRST-BEGOTTEN, however, was (THE ONLY ONE) whom He considered worthy of being (called) by the divine name, as being powerful in His Father's excellence and majesty. ... Assuredly He is the very Son of God, who by that most wise King Solomon, full of divine inspiration, spake these things which we have added: [520] , "God founded [CREATED LXX] me in the beginning of His ways, in His work before the ages..." - (The Divine Institutes - Book IV: Chap. VI. Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional introductionary material and notes provided for the American edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.)

In a reply to a comment on that particular post, you commented on another translation of the same passage:

"...You might also want to consult the translation of the Divine Institutes by Anthony Bowen and Peter Garnsey. The bibliographic information for that translation is Divine Institutes, trans. Anthony Bowen and Peter Garnsey (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2003)..."

Could you post this translation for comparison aswell?

In a footnote to another post there was this comment:

[3] Lactantius contrasts Satan, “the prince of demons” with Christ “the prince of the angels” (DI 4.14.17). Here again, one discerns the influence of Jewish apocalyptic literature in the Divinae institutiones...

I cant find in Book IV(4) Chapter 14 or 17 of the Divine Institutes reference to either "prince of the demons" or "the prince of the angels".

Maybe I am looking at the wrong BOOK or PLACE??? I don't know.

There is also the following:

(LACANTIUS): "...Let men therefore learn and understand why the Most High God, when He sent ( HIS ) ANBASSADOR - AND - MESSENGER [ANGEL?] to instruct mortals with the precepts of His righteousness, willed that He should be clothed with mortal flesh, and be afflicted with torture, and be sentenced to death..." - (The Divine Institutes - Book IV: Chap. XXV. Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional introductionary material and notes provided for the American edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.)

It appears that Lacantius believed Jesus was created/formed/begotten as an "Angel/Messenger" originally as the "(FIRST)-begotten" and was later (called) "Son" and "God".

If you know of any other similar references that could bear light on this in Lacantius please post those aswell.

Edgar Foster said...

Hi Matt13weedhacker,

The reference is for Lactantius' Epitome of the Divine Institutes. I believe that it is available in a number of places online that house the Lactantian treatises. The Latin text that I used for my study of Lactantius was L. Caeli Firmiani Lactanti Epitome Divinarum institutionum by Eberhard Heck and Antonie Wlosok. The publishing info is Stuttgardiae : Teubner, 1994. This publication is part of the Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana series.

Edgar Foster said...

The English translation of Epitome 42 that I used is simply the Roberts, Donaldson and Coxe version. See

I no longer have the Bowen and Garnsey translation. I merely used it for research. Besides, that translation is for the Divine Institutes, so I was probably trying to show the comparison between Epitome and Divine Institutes.

The reference to DI 4.14.17 is based on Garnsey and Bowen's translation. I also used a Latin text of DI as well.

I have to reconstruct what I did years ago in connection with DI 4.14.17. Looking at the context of my writing on Lactantius, it appears that I'm not saying that the passage calls Satan "prince of the demons," but it was being used for comparison purposes. In context, I am commenting on DI 7 which does use the expression "prince of demons." See

Edgar Foster said...

On the point about DI 4.14.17 and the expression "prince of angels," see

If I had Bowen and Garnsey here, I would also consult them again. I'll make one more observation later.

Best regards.