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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter XXXII

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Chapter XXXII.—The Commentaries which Origen composed in Cæsarea in Palestine.

1. About this time Origen prepared his Commentaries on Isaiah 2026 and on Ezekiel. 2027 Of the former there have come down to us thirty books, as far as the third part of Isaiah, to the vision of the beasts in the desert; 2028 on Ezekiel twenty-five books, which are all that he wrote on the whole prophet.

2. Being at that time in Athens, 2029 he finished his work on Ezekiel and commenced his Commentaries on the Song of Songs, 2030 which he carried forward to the fifth book. After his return to Cæsarea, he completed these also, ten books in number.

3. But why should we give in this history an accurate catalogue of the man’s works, which would require a separate treatise? 2031 we have furnished this also in our narrative of the life of Pamphilus, 2032 a holy martyr of our own time. After showing how great the diligence of Pamphilus was in divine things, we give in that a catalogue of the library which he collected of the works of Origen and of other ecclesiastical writers. Whoever desires may learn readily from this which of Origen’s works have reached us. But we must proceed now with our history.



“About this time” refers us still to the reign of Gordian (238–244). Eusebius mentions only the commentaries on Isaiah, but Jerome refers also to homilies and notes. The thirty books which were extant in Eusebius’ time extended to XXX. 6, as we are informed here. Whether the commentary originally went beyond this point we do not know. There are extant only two brief Latin fragments from the first and eighth books of the commentary, and nine homilies (the last incomplete) in a Latin version by Jerome; printed by Lommatzsch, XIII. 235–301.


Eusebius records that Origen wrote only twenty-five books of a commentary on Ezekiel. The form of expression would seem to imply that these did not cover the whole of Ezekiel, but a fragment of the twentieth book, extant in the eleventh chapter of the Philocalia, deals with the thirty-fourth chapter of the prophecy, so that the twenty-five books must have covered at any rate most of the ground. The catalogue of Jerome mentions twenty-nine books and twelve homilies, but the former number must be a mistake, for Eusebius’ explicit statement that Origen wrote but twenty-five books can hardly be doubted. There are extant only the Greek fragment of the twentieth book referred to above, fourteen homilies in the Latin version of Jerome, and a few extracts; all printed by Lommatzsch, XIV. 1–232.


i.e. to Isa. xxx. 6, where the LXX reads ὄρασις τῶν τετραπόδων τῶν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ, which are the exact words used by Eusebius. Our English versions, both the authorized and revised, read, “The burden of the beasts of the South.” The Hebrew will bear either rendering.


The cause of this second visit to Athens we do not know, nor the date of it; although if Eusebius is to be relied upon, it took place during the reign of Gordian (238–244). He must have remained some time in Athens and have had leisure for study, for he finished his commentary on Ezekiel and wrote five books of his commentary on Canticles. This visit to Athens is to be distinguished from the one referred to in chap. 23, because it is probable that Origen found the Nicopolis copy of the Old Testament (mentioned in chap. 16) on the occasion of a visit to Achaia, and this visit is apparently too late, for he seems to have finished his Hexapla before this time; and still further, the epistle in which he refers to spurious accounts of his disputation at Athens (see Jerome’s Apol. adv. Ruf. II. 18) complains also of Demetrius and of his own excommunication, which, as Redepenning remarks, points to a date soon after that excommunication took place, and not a number of years later, when Demetrius had been long dead.


From the seventh chapter of the Philocalia we learn that Origen, in his youth, wrote a small book (μικρὸς τόμος) upon Canticles, of which a single brief fragment is preserved in that chapter. The catalogue of Jerome mentions ten books, two books written early, and two homilies. Eusebius mentions only the commentary, of which, he says, five books were written in Athens, and five more in Cæsarea. The prologue and four books are extant in a Latin translation by Rufinus, and two homilies in a translation by Jerome; besides these, some Greek extracts made by Procopius,—all printed by Lommatzsch, XIV. 233; XV. 108.


δίας δεόμενον σχολῆς.


On Pamphilus, see Bk. VII. chap. 32, note 40. On Eusebius’ Life of Pamphilus, see the Prolegomena, p. 28, above.

Next: Chapter XXXIII

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