Skip to main content

Origen

Fishburn and Hughes: (185-254). An early Christian theologian, one of the greatest of the Christian teachers, initiator of a scientific system of criticism of the Old and New Testaments and author of De Principiis. In 202 Demetrius, bishop of Alexandria, appointed Origen to supervise the exegesis of the sacred scriptures in order to fight heretical doctrines; he became jealous of Origen's reputation and later broke with him, asking that he be removed from his position and banished from Alexandria. Among the accusations Demetrius made against Origen was that, as a young man, he had mutilated himself in order to escape the temptations of the flesh. Origen tried unsuccessfully to vindicate his position in a letter to the bishop of Rome; his former friend Heraclas joined his enemies, thus securing his own succession as bishop on the death of Demetrius (an episode which seems consistent with the motif of rivalry in 'The Theologians'). Origen's faith is based on a metaphysical system inspired by Neoplatonic and Gnostic ideas. Like the Neoplatonists, Origen held that the soul, existing before the body, contains traces of the divine; by rediscovering and following these traces it arrives at full participation in the divine nature. Matter, though created by God as the sphere in which souls are tested and purified, stands in opposition to the divine in a situation which verges on Gnostic dualism; God is the regulating immutable idea, and Christ, his word (or 'logos') from eternity, is the mediator within the dualistic opposition. The Theologians