The Dispersed Keys Among the Locked Rooms: Origen’s Interpretation of Scripture
Origen of Alexandria

Origen of Alexandria

The Philocalia is a collection of quotation from Origen of Alexandria (184-253AD) that have been assembled by early church fathers. The Philocalia (or Philokalia) is an excellent introduction to Origen and it contains many excellent Origenisms such as the following explanation of how to interpret the scriptures by comparing it to a large mansion that contains many locked doors. They keys to the doors placed throughout the house, by the right key is not in front of the door where it lays. So there is the arduous task of the theologian in interpreting scriptures, because it is a long process to find the right key to unlock the right door. 

Then, after topics of a different kind, Origen proceeds:----

3. Now that we are going to begin our interpretation of the Psalms, let us preface our remarks with a very pleasing tradition respecting all Divine Scripture in general, which has been handed down to us by the Jew. That great scholar used to say that inspired Scripture taken as a whole was on account of its obscurity like many locked-up rooms in one house. Before each room he supposed a key to be placed, but not the one belonging to it; and that the keys were so dispersed all round the rooms, not fitting the locks of the several rooms before which they were placed. It would be a troublesome piece of work to discover the keys to suit the rooms they were meant for. It was, he said, just so with the understanding of the Scriptures, because they are so obscure; the only way to begin to understand them was, he said, by means of other passages containing the explanation dispersed throughout them. The Apostle, I think, suggested such a way of coming to a knowledge of the Divine words when He said, "Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." ( 1 Cor. ii. 13.)

Philocalia, Origen, pg32,

I discovered this quotation of Origen from Fr John McGuckin's lecture on Origen at the Florovsky Society's 2012 Third Annual Symposium on "What is the Bible? The Patristic Doctrine of Scripture." Where Fr John McGuckin lectured on Origen. 


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