Equivocality of Biblical Language in Origen

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In his biblical hermeneutics, Origen emphasizes the polysemic character of the biblical word. To explain this phenomenon in an analytic way he appeals to the concept of homonyma. This term, deriving from philosophical tradition, is substantially re-conceptualized by Origen, in a way that corresponds to the constitution of his biblical hermeneutics. His use does not coincide either with the logical understanding of homonymy by Aristotle or with Plato’s idea of the homonymous nomination of a physical phenomenon and its metaphysical idea. Homonyma in Origen’s theory of biblical interpretation denotes the paradoxical relation that a linguistic designator of sensible matter has with its spiritual content; this relation is to be considered from the angle of dialectical ontology. The explicative and epistemological function of equivocation in Origen’s hermeneutics involves the thought shifting between the poles of difference and similarity. Another special characteristic of Origen’s use of homonymy is that it designates only one of the members of the homonymous pair, with the other one – usually radically different from it – only implied. In this case the homonymy of biblical articulation appears in the form of a mystical metaphor. On the linguistic level the homonymy of biblical language reflects the Apostle Paul’s dichotomic division of the outer and inner man, which is the anthropological basis of Origen’s hermeneutics.
hermeneutic, homonymy, Aristotle, Plato, Middle Platonism, Paul, outer man, inner man, paradox, metaphor
Studia Patristica. Vol. LVI , Papers presented at the Sixteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 2011, ed. by Markus Vinzent, v. 4: Rediscovering Origen, Peeters /Leuven 2013, p.: 65-72