Origen: Homilies on Jeremiah and 1 Kings 28

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Origen: Homilies on Jeremiah and 1 Kings 28. Translated by John Clark Smith. The Fathers of the Church, vol. 97. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1998. xxi + 358 pp. $36.95 (cloth).

Origen's homilies represent important evidence not only for our understanding of his place in the ancient Church but also for assessing his thought. We must be grateful to Professor Smith for making available for the first time in English Origen's homilies on Jeremiah and his homily on 1 Kings 28 (LXX). The twenty homilies on Jeremiah and the homily on The Witch of Endor are the only ones that survive in Greek. Smith has also translated two of Jerome's fourteen Latin versions of the homilies on Jeremiah, two fragments from the Philokalia, and the surviving fragments from the catenae on Jeremiah. Smith's "basic goal was to follow closely what we have in Greek" (p. xviii). His notes enable the reader to see how he has used Klostermann's text from the Berlin Corpus, modifying it where necessary by using the work of Nautin and Schadel. Moreover, the notes often alert the reader to key words that are difficult to render in English. Smith's faithfulness to the Greek text does, however, have one disadvantage. His English can often mirror the obscurity of Origen's Greek, and the reader must try to puzzle out the sense, a task compounded by the fact that Origen is using the Septuagint. My observation is not meant as a criticism, since a more interpretive translation would undermine Smith's basic purpose.

Although Smith has "resisted the attempt to create a commentary" (p. xx), he has supplied an index "so that the reader can explore Origen directly" (p. xvi). And, indeed, there is a great deal to explore. …


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