I have some more material on Origen to present, on the relevance of the Hebrew alphabet in fixing the number of special cards in the tarot at 22.
Many posts ago, Alain said, viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1102&p=17659&hilit=origene#p17659
Signification of the Number 22 by Origene
The reference is to a quote that Andrea Vitali gave from him on the question of why 22 special cards.
SteveM immediately pointed out that the number 22 had many numerological associations in Biblical history. viewtopic.php?p=17660#p17660
The relation between the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the 22 books of the OT in the Alexandrian canon are also referred to by several other early Church Fathers, e.g, Hilary, Athanasius, Jerome, etc. As well as this there are the commentaries upon the symbolism of the number 22 mentioned in scriptural, pseudo-epigraphic and apocryphic sources, for example Jubilees 2:23 -
There (were) two and twenty heads of mankind from Adam to Jacob, and two and twenty kinds of work were made until the seventh day; this is blessed and holy; and the former also is blessed and holy; and this one serves with that one for sanctification and blessing.*
This last of course makes no reference to the 22 Hebrew letters.Steve did not say where in Hilary, Athanasius, Jerome, etc. the connection to the Hebrew alphabet was made. In relation to the 22 special cards,
I found a blog on Google that mentions all of these, with specific references, http://sanctushieronymus.blogspot.com/2 ... of-ot.html
. For Origen, the reference is to Eusebius, Church History
, Book Six, Ch. 25, https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250106.htm
, in describing Origen's work:
1. When expounding the first Psalm, he gives a catalogue of the sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament as follows:
"It should be stated that the canonical books, as the Hebrews have handed them down, are twenty-two; corresponding with the number of their letters."
Eusebius then gives Origen's list of 22 books. Well, that's not a lot, but it's something. For Athanasius, the reference is to his 39th letter, https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf20 ... i.xxv.html
There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; ..
The blog writer does not give links to the others, but just the references:
3, Epiphanius of Salamis in three separate lists: Panarion 8.6.1-4; De mens. et pond. 4; 22-23. In each of these lists, Epiphanius mentions also the number 27, which is simply a different way of counting the 22 books, in accordance with the five doubled letters of the Hebrew alphabet which bring the number of Hebrew letters to 27. Jerome also mentions the number 27 and the five doubled letters/books (Prologus Galeatus).
4. Gregory of Nazianzus, Carmen 1.12.
5. Hilary of Poitiers, Tractatus super Psalmos 15. (See here)
6. Jerome, Prologus Galeatus.
Gregory simply enumerates the books, dividing them into twelve, five and five, with the first of the last five consisting of twelve books. He concludes "I have set down twenty-two old books, equal in number to the letters of the Hebrews' alphabet." P. 34 at https://dlib.bc.edu/islandora/object/bc ... m/PDF/view
Epiphanius says (https://biblicalscholarship.wordpress.c ... f-salamis/
), "These are the twenty-seven books given by God to the Jews; now these are numbered twenty-two just as their letters in Hebrew characters because ten books are double, being reckoned as five. Now we have spoken clearly concerning this in another place." The other two are at the same website and simply repeat what he has been said, except that in the last one he says what the doubles are. Aldus published him in the early 16th century , too, before 1510, but I don't recall the exact year.
Hilary is at http://www.bible-researcher.com/hilary.html
. He says, "The reason for reckoning twenty-two books of the Old Testament is that this corresponds with the number of the [Hebrew] letters." After enumerating them he adds, "To this some add Tobit and Judith to make twenty-four books, according to the number of the Greek letters, which is the language used among Hebrews and Greeks gathered in Rome." There is nothing very mystical here, especially if the number is flexible. I do not know his accessability in 15th century Italy, but I see no reason why it wouldn't have been.
Jerome says (http://www.bible-researcher.com/jerome.html
), "As, then, there are twenty-two elementary characters by means of which we write in Hebrew all we say, and the human voice is comprehended within their limits, so we reckon twenty-two books, by which, as by the alphabet of the doctrine of God, a righteous man is instructed in tender infancy, and, as it were, while still at the breast." In the same paragraph he says, a little earlier, "In the book of Numbers, moreover, where we have the census of the Levites and priests [Num. 3:39], the same total is presented mystically" (In libro quoque Numerorum haec eadem supputatio sub Levitarum ac sacerdotum censu mystice ostenditur). This is slightly more mystical, but not much. Jerome would have been accessible.
In relation to the Tarot, it is important to be sure that these references were well enough known in the fifteenth century to play a role in the determination of that number of cards. Gregory published in Greek by Aldus in 1504 (p. 30 of above essay), and around the same time also Epiphanius. I assume Jerome would have been available. Looking on WorldCat, I see that Eusebius was published in Mantua in 1473 and reprinted 1479. That is of interest. But did it get much attention? Well, I see that Pico Mirandola mentions Origen in both his 900 Theses and his Oration, 1486 and 1487, clearly the right time to have been influenced by Eusebius's account of him. Of the 900, his thesis on Origen is one of thirteen that the Pope used as grounds for ordering all copies burned. In the end it was declared "suspect" but not heretical. Up to then, Origen was simply considered a heretic. Here is the thesis:
(7) that it is more rational to believe that Origen is saved than that he is damned; (https://www.exclassics.com/Pico/pico3.htm
In the Oration, he says: (http://www.andallthat.co.uk/uploads/2/3 ... of_man.pdf
Not famous Hebrew teachers alone, but, from among those of our own persuasion, Esdras, Hilary and Origen all write that Moses, in addition to the law of the five books which he handed down to posterity, when on the mount, received from God a more secret and true explanation of the law.
Pico seems to have read, or read of, both Origen and Hilary. We still don't have the quote of our interest, which is rather more mystical than the brief mention by Eusebius. It is in a book called the Philocalia
, a collection of excerpts from Origen, presumably from which his errors and heresies were removed, done in the 4th century. (Most of his other works were destroyed.) Here is the full quote (https://www.tertullian.org/fathers/orig ... ext.htm#C3
CHAP. III. ---- Why the inspired books are twenty-two 137 in number. From the same volume on the 1st Psalm.
As we are dealing with numbers, and every number has among real existences a certain significance, of which the Creator of the universe made full use as well in the general scheme as in the arrangement of the details, we must give good heed, and with the help of the Scriptures trace their meaning, and the meaning of each of them. Nor must we fail to observe that not without reason the canonical books are twenty-two, according to the Hebrew tradition, the same in number as the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. For as the twenty-two letters may be regarded as an introduction to the wisdom and the Divine doctrines given to men in those Characters, so the twenty-two inspired books are an alphabet of the wisdom of God and an introduction to the knowledge of realities.
Then he enumerates the twenty-two books, like the others.
Given Origen's bad reputation, was this book available in 15th century Italy? Looking on WorldCat again, I see that it wasn't published until 1572, and even then only in Greek. Well, given what Eusebius said, and the title of the Chapter, and it's only being Chapter III, it wouldn't be hard to find the quote. But in the 15th century?
There is a list of Philocalia
manuscripts on the Internet, https://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/manu ... ocalia.htm
. I highlight what is of special
B Venice, St. Mark. Codex Venetus Graecus 47. A cursive quarto. Contains unique prolegomena and also marginalia warning the reader of doctrinal abberations at various points. Parchment, 156 leaves, 10 inches x 7Â½ inches. 31 lines per page. The character is small minuscules hanging from the lines. The headings are in small capitals, and the ink throughout is a reddish brown.
Most Mss. of the Philocalia commence with a short preface stating that it was compiled by Basil and Gregory, and sent by the latter to Theodore, Bishop of Tyana, together with a letter which then follows. After this comes a table of contents. However B begins with a long preface of 5 pages, including the usual material but with extensive additions amounting to a defence of the action of Gregory and Basil in producing a compilation from the works of Origen. It also suggests that the text has been interpolated by heretics since it left their hands. Finally the author adds that he has marked the heretical passages. Then follows Gregory's letter, and another insertion.
Finally the table of contents appears. This shows 27 chapters, correctly numbered, with the subsections of chapter 21 also properly numbered. This MS is the only one in which the numbers are exactly correct. Against some portions in a later, blacker ink are references to the corresponding passages in Contra Celsum. The MS. ends on f. 156 r. The verso contains some extracts relating to Origen from Photius Bibliotheca, 117-8, in a later hand, but the closely written text is smeared.
Two correctors worked on the MS. One was contemporaneous with the main scribe; the other wrote in a black ink at a later period, and inserting corrections from an Ms. of Contra Celsum. Finally a large and clumsy hand has written occasional notes to defend Origen against the charges made against him in the margin.
The MS. belonged to Cardinal Bessarion, whose signature appears on the first page.
There is marginal note in ch.1 on the passage where Origen suggests that some beasts listed in scripture as unclean have no actual existence, being intended allegorically. This reads, "But we once saw a trage/lafoj, which came from Thrace to Caesar Barda's house...". Barda was a clever statesman in the reign of Michael III, under whom he enjoyed almost absolute power. He was made Caesar in 862 and murdered in 866 AD. Notorious for his vices, he was a good jurist and as the solitary patron of literature he brought about a revival of learning which alone redeems his memory from disgrace. Among his acts was appointing Photius as patriarch, according to Zonaras (pp. 160-1). This suggests that Constantinople in the second half of the 9th century was the location of the act of copying.
The preface describes the codex from which the copy was made as palaiota/th ou}sa ,suggesting a seventh century or earlier date, and so probably a good quality text. This is found to be so. Often the text of this MS agrees with our Ms. of Contra Celsum against the rest of the Mss. of the Philocalia. But most importantly it shows that some loose leaves were extracted, and replaced in each other's position in an ancestor of all the other Mss. Looking at the pieces of text out of order, we see that this ancestor of the others must have had 29 lines.
Bessarion is known to have been generous with his manuscripts in Rome while he was alive. After his death (1472) the city of Venice was not so generous. I read somewhere that Pico and Poliziano, traveling together, were not allowed to see them. But any noble of Venice was allowed, so that is not much of an obstacle.
Conclusion: Origen was a man of the hour in late 15th century Italy, thanks to the publication of Eusebius and Pico's trouble, and so were Bessarion's manuscripts, where it would have been easy enough, with the right connections, to find the right quote. His is the one that most clearly suggests
t seems to me that Origen would have been of the most interest. The first and last sentences of the chapter/excerpt makes a great analogy to the Tarot, if anyone wanted to make it.
" As we are dealing with numbers, and every number has among real existences a certain significance, of which the Creator of the universe made full use as well in the general scheme as in the arrangement of the details, we must give good heed, and with the help of the Scriptures trace their meaning, and the meaning of each of them [...]. For as the twenty-two letters may be regarded as an introduction to the wisdom and the Divine doctrines given to men in those Characters, so the twenty-two inspired books are an alphabet of the wisdom of God and an introduction to the knowledge of realities."
In this quote I have left out only what the others saw fit to include.