Sunday, August 7, 2011

On the Gospel As the Announcement of the Jubilee in Origen (and Preserved by Jerome)

Irenaeus tells us that the 'followers of Mark' took an interest in 'restoring' the sixth letter of the alphabet (in Hebrew vav) to the universe (presumably to bring about 'the kingdom of God'). In his Commentary on Galatians, Jerome tells us something very similar:

In what contexts are they used to refer to a brief space of time as opposed to eternity? When olam, the Hebrew equivalent of “age,” has the letter vav added to it, it signifies eternity. But when it is written without the vav, it denotes the fiftieth year, which the Jews call the Jubilee Year. For this reason the Jew who loved his master, and who on account of his wife and children had his ear pierced, was brought under the yoke of slavery and was ordered to serve “for an age” (that is, until the fiftieth year). In addition, the Moabites and Ammonites did not enter the congregation of the Lord until the fifteenth generation, once an “age” had passed, because all hard times would be improved with the advent of Jubilee. Some say that the phrase “for ever and ever” [lit., “ages of ages”] has the same sense as other phrases—Holy of Holies; heavens of heavens; works of works; song of songs - and that, as with ages, there are the gradations between heavens, holy things, works, and songs. According to these same writers, the present age started at the creation of heaven and earth and runs until the end of the world, when Christ will act as supreme judge of all. They go further and delve into first principles, caviling about past and future ages and whether they were or will be good or evil. They stumble into such profound speculations that they have churned out an infinite number of books and volumes about this topic [Jerome, Commentary on Galatians 1.5]

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