Origen of Alexandria

Origen of Alexandria
(c. 185-c. 254 ce)
   Considered by many theologians to be the first world-class Christian philosopher, Origen was a biblical scholar, theologian and philosopher that died of wounds sustained in the Decian persecution. His approach to theology typifies the 'Alexandrian School', which emphasised the divine nature of Christ in the incarnation and the allegorical interpretation of Scripture. Origen's On First Principles presents a systematic vision of Christian theology powerfully (if problematically) adapted to middle-Platonist philosophical assumptions. As such, he argues that human beings pre-existed physical embodiment as spirits (logika), which became embodied only after falling away from God. Further, Origen defended universalism, arguing that even the devil would finally be reconciled to God. At the same time, his commitment to free will led Origen to admit that there could be another fall and a repetition of the cycle of reconciliation. Complicating things further, Origen's conception of the Trinity is subordinationist, with the Father being the supreme deity, and the Son and Spirit descending derivations. Finally, Origen argued that one of the logika (that of Jesus) remained united with the Word when all others fell away. According to Origen, the incarnation just is this intimate unity of Word and Jesus, an explanation that surely appears adoptionistic. Hence, while Origen's theology is an impressive intellectual achievement, it ranges far from what would become the standards of orthodoxy. Among Origen's other achievements are the Hexapla, a landmark in textual criticism, and Against Celsus, an impressive apologetic response to a leading pagan critic of the Church.
   Further reading: Origen 1857, 1878, 1936 and 1980; Trigg 1998

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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