Origen’s Interpertation of the Good Samaritan Parable

Luke 10:25-37 – The Parable of the Good Samaritan

At that time, a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  

Jesus replied to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?”

He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

And Jesus said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” 

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?”

He said, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

The Christian Martyr Origen (d. 254AD) is considered by many to be the greatest Christian biblical commentator of the 3rd Century.  Modern scholars credit him with being the Father of Christian biblical interpretation and commentary.   Roman Catholic scholar, Jean Danielou writes that in Origen’s commentary on the parable of the Good Samaritan, he follows what was even in the 3rd Century already an established tradition in the early church.

“Here Origen is only echoing tradition. His interpretation of the Good Samaritan, as he tells us elsewhere, comes only from the elders: ‘One of the elders (presbyteri), in his interpretation, said that the man who set forth is Adam, Jerusalem is Paradise, Jericho the world, the thieves the invisible powers, the priest the Law, the Levites the Prophets, the Samaritan Christ, the wounds disobedience, the beast of burden the Body of Christ, the inn, which takes in every one, the Church, the Samaritan’s promise the second Coming of Christ’ (Hom. Luc. XXXIV). We shall find the same interpretation in St. Iranaeus (Adv. Haer. III, 17, 3), We may even wonder whether it is not of Apostolic origin and indeed an echo of the very teaching of Christ himself. It should not be forgotten that there is one Parable in the Gospel, that of the Tares (Mt. 13:37-39),which is explained in a similar way to this. Origen has himself remarked elsewhere: ‘the evangelists have not written down the explanation which Jesus gave of most of the parables’ (Com. Math.XIV,12) . ” (From Shadows to Reality: Studies in the Biblical Typology of the Fathers, pp.276-277)

7 thoughts on “Origen’s Interpertation of the Good Samaritan Parable

  1. Gregory

    Then again, the parable of the Good Samaritan “just might” (wink) be a rather direct answer to the lawyer’s question: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus, rather shockingly for the audience on hand at the time, shows a Samaritan — a heretic, a schismatic and a political renegade in the eyes of the Jews of his day — to be doing good to a complete stranger in trouble and need, no questions asked, while the figures of the Jewish religious establishment ignore the victim of roadside robbery, and thus ignore the precepts of the Law and the Prophets, which they are supposed to represent and uphold, in the process. The parable provides some cogent points for many “Christians” in “culture war America” today, who often divide the world into “us” and “them” — (1) the Christlike concept of “neighbor” knows no such divides, but includes all; (2) good is to be done to all at our own expense, with no seeking of recompense; and (3) even perceived “enemies” and “sinners” are quite capable of doing good, while perceived religiosity is no guarantee of right behavior toward others. Sometimes by allegorizing everything, we often miss the original point.

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  4. The “certain” man leaving Jeruslem (state of grace) and going to Jerico (the world) is atacked by robbers (the devil),and left half dead, (original sin). his “state” is not cured by the priests (O.T. sacrifice) nor the Levite, (O.T. law). an “outcast” (Jesus) comes to his rescue and brings him to the inn (the Church), where He later will return and bring him home..(2nd coming of the Lord).
    Our Lord heals him with the sacraments, ie wine and oil, bandages him up and cares for the forgoten and despised man.
    It was dangerous to perform such an act of mercy, but Jesus did it anyway. The thief on the left of our crucified Lord would not have understood… as he wanted “down”…the good thief to the right, Saint Dismas, would understand… he wanted to go UP..

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