Origen on Glory

In dealing with one of many enigmatic passages in John, Origen develops a subtle understanding of glory. Here he recognizes that the Bible uses the Greek word for glory, doxa, in a distinctive way. This means that a piece of his mental furniture, the Platonic differentiation between doxa, understood as “opinion,” and episteme, undestood as rationally founded “science,” is not helpful for interpretation. By tracing the word’s usage in the Septuagint, he retrieves the notion of glory implied in the Hebrew word, kabod.  -JosephTrigg

What Trigg goes on to say is that Origen concludes that glory is presence. This is a very interesting consideration to dwell on. What kind of presence must God’s presence be? glorious, of course. But think about it.

One day I will stand before that fons et origo of all being, and I have to think it is going to be an experience of ontological significance. One of the things that will sweep not only through my mind but through my whole being is how derivative my being is. It will seem utterly unlike his from whom all other things that exist derive at his will and pleasure, and it would seem that what will become obvious in deep and searching ways will not only be how much and how naturally he exists, but how thin the thread on which mine depends. Not because I will notice a thin thread, but because I will understand more clearly what it is to have one’s being derived from a being who derives nothing.

I think I will also be overwhelmed by the wonder and splendor and sheer glory of such being as he possesses in himself. And that seems to be Origen’s idea of glory. God is the source of goodness, of gladness, of beauty and splendor, of being in its most profound consideration. He is God incomprehensible and not like any other being, and not being either (in an apophatic sense), but he IS, more than anything else that is, is, and that is a splendor which I believe will wash through me not without ontological consequences.

For one thing, that moment will be the moment of glorification, if glorification takes place that way. I, a sinful and corrupt being will be in the sinless light of one in whom there is and never can be any sin, one who repudiates sin with the depths of his being and the. In that light, I will be revealed, and I think the consequences will be to reveal to me in a painful moment of purgatory, all I am, before purifying it away.

And when I am purified, shall I not know him better, not see more clearly, not realize more entirely than the moment before? I think that will be the case. Besides that, there will be the transformation such a presence has to work on beings created to enjoy that glory of that presence. As sunlight on plants, as sunlight on us for that matter, only many times greater.

It is a good and fruitful consideration. I wandered around between the rains this morning, studying the moss on the trees, the heavy damp greens of advanced spring, and thought of glory as presence for the first time, at least in terms of personal eschatology. I’ve never run across that before.


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