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Origen (c.185–c.254)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-B087-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved March 22, 2023, from

Article Summary

An ascetic Christian, prodigious scholar and dedicated teacher, Origen devoted his life to exploring God’s revelation. Much of his work takes the form of commentaries on Scripture. He argued that Scripture has three levels: the literal, the moral and the spiritual. The literal level veils the others, and we need God’s help to find the divine mysteries behind the veil. His commentaries directly or indirectly influenced the practice of exegesis throughout the patristic period and the Middle Ages.

Origen used his spiritual exegesis, as well as arguments, concepts and models drawn from philosophy, to tackle the theological problems of his day: the compatibility of providence and freedom, the relation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to each other and to rational creatures, the problem of evil, and the origin and destiny of the soul. He is famous – or infamous – for arguing that the souls of angels, demons and human beings enjoyed a previous heavenly existence, but that they sinned and fell. God created the world to punish and remedy their faults.

Citing this article:
Hause, Jeffrey. Origen (c.185–c.254), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-B087-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2023 Routledge.

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