Early Training (§ 1).
Teacher and Writer (§ 2).
Conflict with Demetrius and Removal to Caesarea (§ 3).
Exegetical Writings (§ 1).
Extant Commentaries of Origen (§ 2).
Dogmatic, Practical, and Apologetic Writings (§ 3).
Philosophical and Religious (§ 1).
Theological and Dogmatic (§ 2).
The Logos Doctrine and Cosmology (§ 3).
Christology (§ 4).
Eschatology (§ 5).
Origen, one of the most distinguished of the Fathers of the early Church, was born, probably at Alexandria, about 182; and died at Caesarea not later than 251. His full name was apparently Origenes Adamantius; and he received from his father, Leonides, thorough instruction in the Bible and in elementary studies. But in 202 the outbreak of the persecution of Septimius Severus robbed Origen of his father, whom he sought to follow in martyrdom, being prevented only by a ruse of his mother. The death of Leonides left the family of nine impoverished, their property being confiscated. Origen, however, was taken under the protection of a woman of wealth and standing; but as her household already included a heretic named Paul, the strictly orthodox Origen seems to have remained with her but a short time. Since his father's teaching enabled him also to give elementary instruction, he revived, in 203, the catechetical school at Alexandria (see ALEXANDRIA, SCHOOL OF), whose last teacher, Clement, was apparently driven out by the persecution. But the persecution still raged, and the young teacher unceasingly visited the prisoners, attended the courts, and comforted the condemned, himself preserved from harm as if by a miracle. His fame and the number of his pupils increased rapidly, so that Demetrius, bishop of Alexandria, made him restrict himself to instruction in Christian doctrine alone. Origen, to be entirely independent, sold his library for a sum which netted him a daily income of 4 obols (about twelve cents) on which he lived by exercising the utmost frugality. Teaching throughout the day, he devoted the greater part of the night to the study of the Bible and lived a life of rigid asceticism. This he carried to such an extent that, fearing that his position as a teacher of women as well as men might give ground for scandal to the heathen, he followed literally Matt. xix. 12, partly influenced, too, by his belief that the Christian must follow the words of his Master without reserve. Later in life, however, he saw reason to judge differently concerning his extreme act.
During the reign of Caracalla, about 211-212, Origen paid a brief visit to Rome, but the relative laxity under the pontificate of Zephyrinus seems to have disillusioned him, and on his return to Alexandria he resumed his teaching with zeal increased by the contrast. But the school had far outgrown the strength of a single man; the catechumens pressed eagerly for elementary instruction, and the baptized sought for interpretation of the Bible. Under these circumstances, Origen entrusted the teaching of the catechumens to Heraclas (q.v.), the brother of the martyr Plutarch, his first pupil. His own interests became more and more centered in exegesis, and he accordingly studied Hebrew, though there is no certain knowledge concerning his instructor in that language. From about this period (212-213) dates Origen's acquaintance with Ambrose of Alexandria (q.v.), whom he was instrumental in converting from Valentianism to orthodoxy. Later (about 218) Ambrose, a man of wealth, made a formal agreement with Origen to promulgate his writings, and all the subsequent works of Origen (except his sermons, which were not expressly prepared for publication) were dedicated to Ambrose. In 213 or 214, Origen visited Arabia
About 230, Origen entered on the fateful journey which was to compel him to give up his work at Alexandria and embittered the next years of his life. Sent to Greece on some ecclesiastical mission, he paid a visit to Caesarea, where he was heartily welcomed and was ordained presbyter, that no further cause for criticism might be given Demetrius, who had strongly disapproved his preaching before ordination while at Caesarea. But Demetrius, taking this well-meant act as an infringement of his rights, was furious, for not only was Origen under his jurisdiction, but, if Eastern sources may be believed, Demetrius had been the first to introduce episcopal ordination in Egypt. The metropolitan accordingly convened a synod of bishops and presbyters which banished Origen from Alexandria, while a second synod declared his ordination invalid. Origen accordingly fled from Alexandria in 231, and made his permanent home in Caesarea. A series of attacks on him seems to have emanated from Alexandria, whether for his self-castration (a capital crime in Roman law) or for alleged heterodoxy is unknown; but at all events these fulminations were heeded only at Rome, while Palestine, Phenicia, Arabia, and Achaia paid no attention to them. At Alexandria Heraclas became head of Origen's school, and shortly afterward, on the death of Demetrius, was consecrated bishop. At Caesarea Origen was joyfully received, and was also the guest of Firmilian, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, and of the empress-dowager, Julia Mammaea, at Antioch. The former also visited him at Caesarea, where Origen, deeply loved by his pupils, preached and taught dialectics, physics, ethics, and metaphysics; thus laying his foundation for the crowning theme of theology. He accordingly sought to set forth all the science of the time from the Christian point of view, and to elevate Christianity to a theory of the universe compatible with Hellenism. In 235, with the accession of Maximinus, a persecution raged; and for two years Origen is said, though on somewhat doubtful authority, to have remained concealed in the house of a certain Juliana in Casarea of Cappadocia. Little is known of the last twenty years of Origen's life. He preached regularly on Wednesdays and Fridays, and later daily. He evidently, however, developed an extraordinary literary productivity, broken by occasional journeys; one of which, to Athens during some unknown year, was of sufficient length to allow him time for research. After his return from Athens, he succeeded in converting Beryllus, bishop of Bostra, from his adoptianistic views to the orthodox faith; yet in these very years (about 240) probably occurred the attacks on Origen's own orthodoxy which compelled him to defend himself in writing to the Roman pontiff Fabian (236-250) and many bishops. Neither the source nor the object of these attacks is known, though the latter may have been connected with Novatianism (see NOVATIAN, NOVATIANISM). After his conversion of Beryllus, however, his aid was frequently invoked against heresies. Thus, when the doctrine was promulgated in Arabia that the soul died and decayed with the body, being restored to life only at the resurrection, appeal was made to Origen, who journeyed to Arabia, and by his preaching reclaimed the erring. In 250 persecutions of the Church broke out anew, and this time Origen did not escape. He was tortured, pilloried, and bound hand and foot to the block for days without yielding. These tortures seem to have resulted in his death. A later legend, recounted by Jerome (De vir. ill., liv.; Eng. transl. in NPNF, 2 ser., iii. 373-374) and numerous itineraries place his death and burial at Tyre, but to this little value can be attached.
According to Epiphanius (Haer., lxiv. 63) Origen wrote about 6,000 works (i.e., rolls or chapters). A list was given by Eusebius in his lost life of Pamphilus (Hist. eccl., VI., xxxii. 3; Eng. transl., NPNF, 2 ser., i. 277), which was apparently known to Jerome (Epist. ad Paulam, NPNF, vi. 46). These fall into four classes: text criticism; exegesis; systematic, practical, and apologetic theology; and letters; besides certain spurious works. By far the most important work of Origen on textual criticism was the Hexapla (see BIBLE VERSIONS, A, I., 1, $ 4). With Origen's great text-critical work a closer acquaintance is afforded by the discovery of an original fragment. By this work he thought to establish a basis for the study of the Old Testament, that should be adequate to scientific demands. As a sample of the execution of the work, a page is offered.
Of the fate of the Hexapla nothing is known. The Milan discovery (see for this BIBLE VERSIONS, A, I., 1, $ 4) proves that at least some individual parts existed much longer than was supposed up to that time. The references to the Hexapla by later manuscripts and authors obtain therefore a greater significance than hitherto. The Tetrapla was an abbreviation of the former in which Origen placed only the translations (Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion, and the Septuagint) in parallels. He was likewise keenly conscious of the textual difficulties in the manuscripts of the New Testament, although he never wrote definitely on this subject. In his exegetical writings he frequently alludes to the variant readings, but his habit of making rough citations in his dictation, the verification being left to the scribes, renders it impossible to deduce his text from his commentaries. The exegetical writings of Origen fall into three classes: scholia, or brief summaries of the meaning of difficult passages; homilies; and "books," or commentaries in the strict sense of the term. Jerome (ut sup.) states that there were scholia on Leviticus, Psalms i.-xv., Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, and part of John. The Stromateis were of a similar character, and the margin of Codex Athous, Laura, 184, contains citations from this work on Rom. ix. 23; I Cor. vi. 14, vii. 31, 34, ix. 20-21, x. 9, besides a few other fragments. Homilies on almost the entire Bible were prepared by Origen, these being taken down after his sixtieth year as he preached. It is not improbable that Origen gave no attention to supervising the publication of his homilies, for only by such a hypothesis can the numerous evidences of carelessness in diction be explained. The exegesis of the homilies was simpler than that of the scientific commentaries, but nevertheless demanded no mean degree of intelligence from the auditor. Origen's chief aim was the practical exposition of the text, verse by verse; and while in such barren books as Leviticus and Numbers he sought to allegorize, the wealth of material in the prophets seldom rendered it necessary for him to seek meanings deeper than the surface afforded. Whether the sermons were delivered in series, or the homilies on a single book were collected from various series, is unknown. The homilies preserved are on Genesis (17), Exodus (13), Leviticus (18), Numbers (28), Joshua (16), Judges (9), I Sam. (2), Psalms xxxvi.- xxviii. (9), Canticles (2), Isaiah (9), Jeremiah (7 Greek, 2 Latin, 12 Greek and Latin), Ezekiel (14), and Luke (39).
The object of Origen's commentaries was to give an exegesis that discriminated strictly against the incidental, unimportant historical significance, in favor of the deeper, hidden, spiritual truth. At the same time, he neglected neither philological nor geographical, historical nor antiquarian material, to all of which he devoted numerous excursuses. In his commentary on John he constantly considered the exegesis of the Valentinian Heracleon (probably at the instance of Ambrose), and in many other places he implied or expressly cited Gnostic views and refuted them. Unfortunately, only meager fragments of the commentaries have survived. Besides the citations in the Philocalia, which include fragments of the third book of the commentary on Genesis, Ps. i., iv. 1, the small commentary on Canticles, and the second
Among the systematic, practical, and apologetic writings of Origen, mention should first be made of his work "On First Principles," perhaps written for his more advanced pupils at Alexandria and probably composed between 212 and 215. It is extant only in the free translation of Rufinus, except for fragments of the third and fourth books preserved in the Philocalia., and smaller citations in Justinian's letter to Mennas. In the first book the author considers God, the Logos, the Holy Ghost, reason, and the angels; in the second the world and man (including the incarnation of the Logos, the soul, free will, and eschatology); in the third, the doctrine of sin and redemption; and in the fourth, the Scriptures; the whole being concluded with a resume of the entire system. The work is noteworthy as the first endeavor to present Christianity as a complete theory of the universe, and was designed to remove the difficulties felt by many Christians concerning the essential bases of their faith. Earlier in date than this treatise were the two books on the resurrection (now lost, a fate which has also befallen two dialogues on the same theme) dedicated to Ambrose. After his removal to Caesarea, Origen wrote the works, still extant, "On Prayer," "On Martyrdom," and "Against Celsus." The first of these was written shortly before 235 (or possibly before 230), and, after an introduction on the object, necessity, and advantage of prayer, ends with an exegesis of the Lord's Prayer, concluding with remarks on the position, place, and attitude to be assumed during prayer, as well as on the classes of prayer. The persecution of Maximinus was the occasion of the composition of the "On Martyrdom," which is preserved in the "Exhortation to Martyrdom." In it, Origen warns against any trifling with idolatry and emphasizes the duty of suffering martyrdom manfully; while in the second part he explains the meaning of martyrdom. The eight books against Celsus (q.v.) were written in 248 in reply to the polemic of that pagan philosopher agains Christianity. Eusebius had a collection of more than one hundred letters of Origen (Hist. eccl., VI., xxxvi. 3; Eng. transl. NPNF, 2 ser. i. 278-279), and the list of Jerome speaks of several books of his epistles. Except for a few fragments, only a short letter to Gregory Thaumaturgus and the epistle to Julius Africanus (defending the authenticity of the Greek additions to Daniel) have been preserved. For forgeries of the writings of Origen made in his lifetime cf. Rufinus, De adulteratione librorum Origenis. The Dialogus de recta in Deum fide (q.v.), the Philosophumena of Hippolytus (q.v.), and the Commentary on Job by Julian of Halicarnassus (q.v.) have also been ascribed to him.
Origen, trained in the school of Clement and by his father, was essentially a Platonist with occasional traces of Stoic philosophy. He was thus a pronounced idealist, regarding all things temporal and material as insignificant and indifferent, the only real and eternal things being comprised in the idea. He therefore regards as the purely ideal center of this spiritual and eternal world, God, the pure reason, whose creative powers call into being the world with matter as the necessary substratum. Likewise Platonic is the doctrine that those spirits capable of knowing supreme reason, but imprisoned in the body in this world, will rise after death to divinity, being purified by fire. In his attempt to amalgamate the system evolved by Greek thought with Christianity, Origen found his predecessors in the Platonizing Philo and even in the Gnostics. His exegesis does not differ generally from that of Heracleon, but in the canon of the New Testament and in the tradition of the Church, Origen possessed a check which kept him from the excesses of Gnostic exegesis. He was, indeed, a rigid adherent of the Bible, making no statement without adducing some Scriptural basis. To him the Bible was divinely inspired, as was proved both by the fulfilment of prophecy and by the immediate impression which the Scriptures made on him who read them. Since the divine Logos spoke in the Scriptures, they were an organic whole and on every occasion he combatted the Gnostic tenet of the inferiority of the Old Testament. He was aware of the discrepancies between the Old and New Testaments and the contradictory
Origen's conception of God is entirely abstract-- God is a perfect unity, invisible and incorporeal, transcending all things material, and therefore inconceivable and incomprehensible. He is likewise unchangeable, and transcends space and time. But his power is limited by his goodness, justice, and wisdom; and, though entirely free from necessity, his goodness and omnipotence constrained him to reveal himself. This revelation, the external self-emanation of God, is expressed by Origen in various ways, the Logos being only one of many. Revelation was the first creation of God (cf. Prov. viii. 22), in order to afford creative mediation between God and the world, such mediation being necessary, because God, as changeless unity, could not he the source of a multitudinous creation. The Logos is the rational creative principle that permeates the universe. Since God eternally manifests himself, the Logos is likewise eternal. He forms a bridge between the created and uncreated, and only through him, as the visible representative of divine wisdom, can the inconceivable and incorporeal God be known. Creation came into existence only through the Logos, and God's nearest approach to the world is the command to create. While the Logos is substantially a unity, he comprehends a multiplicity of concepts, so that Origen terms him, in Platonic fashion, "essence of essences" and "idea of ideas." The defense of the unity of God against the Gnostics led Origen to maintain the subordination of the Logos to God, and the doctrine of the eternal generation is later. Origen distinctly emphasised the independence of the Logos as well as the distinction from the being and substance of God. The term "of the same substance with the Father "was not employed. He is merely an image, a reflex not to be compared with God; as one among other "gods," of course first in rank.
The activity of the Logos was conceived by Origen in Platonic fashion, as the world soul, wherein God manifested his omnipotence. His first creative act was the divine spirit, as an independent existence; and partial reflexes of the Logos were the created rational beings, who, as they had to revert to the perfect God as their background, must likewise be perfect; yet their perfection, unlike in kind with that of God, the Logos, and the divine spirit, had to be attained. The freedom of the will is an essential fact of the reason, notwithstanding the foreknowledge of God. The Logos, eternally creative, forms an endless series of finite, comprehensible worlds, which are mutually alternative. Combining the Stoic doctrine of a universe without beginning with the Biblical doctrine of the beginning and the end of the world, he conceived of the visible world as the stages of an eternal cosmic process, affording also an explanation of the diversity of human fortunes, rewards, and punishments. The material world, which at first had no place in this eternal spiritual progression, was due to the fall of the spirits from God, the first being the serpent, who was imprisoned in matter and body. The ultimate aim of God in the creation of matter out of nothing was not punishment, but the upraising of the fallen spirits. Man's accidental being is rooted in transitory matter, but his higher nature is formed in the image of the Creator. The soul is divided into the rational and the irrational, the latter being material and transitory, while the former, incorporeal and immaterial, possesses freedom of the will and the power to reascend to purer life. The strong ethical import of this cosmic process can not remain unnoticed. The return to original being through divine reason is the object of the entire cosmic process. Through the worlds which follow each other in eternal succession, the spirits are able to return to Paradise. God so ordered the universe that all individual acts work together toward one cosmic end which culminates in himself. Likewise as to Origen's anthropology, man conceived in the image of God is able by imitating God in good works to become like God, if he first recognizes his own weakness and trusts all to the divine goodness. He is aided by guardian angels, but more especially by the Logos who operates through saints and prophets in proportion to the constitution of these and man's capacity.
The culmination of this gradual revelation is the universal revelation of Christ. In Christ, God, hitherto manifest only as the Lord, appeared as the Father. The incarnation of the Logos, moreover, was necessary since otherwise he would not be
His idealizing tendency to consider the spiritual alone as real, fundamental to his entire system, led him to combat the rude Chiliasm (see MILLENNIUM, MILLENARIANISM) of a sensual beyond; yet he constrained himself from breaking entirely with the distinct celestial hopes and representations of Paradise prevalent in the Church. He represents a progressive purification of souls, until, cleansed of all clouds of evil, they should know the truth and God as the Son knew him, see God face to face, and attain a full possession of the Holy Spirit and union with God. The means of attainment of this end were described by Origen in different ways, the most important of which was his Platonic concept of a purifying fire which should cleanse the world of evil and thus lead to cosmic renovation. By a further spiritualization Origen could call God himself this consuming fire. In proportion as the souls were freed from sin and ignorance, the material world was to pass away, until, after endless eons, at the final end, God should be all in all, and the worlds and spitits should return to a knowledge of God.
In Origen the Christian Church had its first theologian in the highest sense of the term, nor has the Greek Church ever had his superior. Attaining the pinnacle of human speculation, his teaching was not merely theoretical, like that of his antagonists, the Gnostics, but was also imbued with an intense ethical power. To the multitude to whom his instruction was beyond grasp, he left mediating images and symbols, as well as the final goal of attainment. In Origen Christianity blended with the paganism in which lived the desire for truth and the longing after God. When he died, however, he left no pupil who could succeed him, nor was the church of his period able to become his heir, and thus, his knowledge was buried. Three centuries later his very name was stricken from the books of the Church; yet in the monasteries of the Greeks his influence still lived on, and the spiritual father of Greek monasticism was that same Origen at whose name the monks had shuddered. See ORIGENISTIC CONTROVERSIES.(ERWIN PREUSCHEN.)
Bibliography: For the earlier literature on Origen consult
Bibliography, pp. 50-55; U. Chevalier,
des sources hidorkuea du moyen dpe, pp.
1883 sqq., 2758
eqq., Paris, 1904; A. Ehrhard.
Die altchriagiche LitUerntta,
in TSR,1880-84, and the supplement for 1885-1900. The
one complete edition of the Opera is that by C. and V. de
la Rue, 4 vols., Paris, 1733-59 (but cf. the ed. Of LOmmatssch, 25 vols., Berlin, 1831-48). reproduced in MPO,
a new edition, which will supersede the earlier
editions, is in process under the auspices of the Royal
Prussian Academy of Sciences, vols. i.-iv., Leipsie, 18991903. The exegetical writings, ed. P. D. Huet, with
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ii. 4, vi. 1, xii. 3, xvi. 3. Several of his works (' On First
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To Gregory," and " Against
Coleus ") are in Eng. trannl., with an introduction, in
. 221 eqq. For the English reader of first importance is Westcott's fine article in
Consult further: G. Thomasius, Oripen, Nuremberg, 1837;
E. R. Rudepenning, Oripenee, Bonn. 1843 18; C. Rsmere,
Oripens Lehre von der Auferdekunp des Pleisches, Troves,
1851; A. Fournier, Exposition critique des idges d'Oripme
aw la rldemption, Strasburg. 1881; G. Contestin, Or;pMe
atdpde, Arras, 1887; F. BBhringer, Die %irche Chridi
ihre Zeupen, Hlemens
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daps Oripdne. Montauban, 1888; F. W. Farrar, Hidory
Interpretation, pp. 187-203, New York, 1888; !dam,
Lines of the Fathers, f. 291-323, ib. 1889; J. Patrick,
The Apology of Oripen in Reply to Cola-, London.
1892; F. Kattenbusch, Do& apostolssche Symbol, Leipelo,
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Capitaine, De Origenis eWiica, MBneter. 1898; W. Fairweather, Oripen and Greek Patridic Theology. Edinburgh,
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Bardenhewer, Oewhichte der
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Is Wolopien d rerigNe, Paris, 1907: Vigouroux Dietiormairs, faeo. xxiu., cola. 1870-1889 (a worthy dfaoussion); Krager, History, 173 eqq.; Harnack. Dogma
(consult index); idem, Litteratur, i. 332-405 et passim;
Schaff, Christian Church, iii. 785 ,qq., et passim; and fn
general the works on the church history of the period;
Ceillier, Auteura sacr&, ii. 130-440; %L, ix. 1053-73;
and in general works on the history of doctrine. For soma
new fragments of the Hes
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