Origenal Sin?
Saturday October 18th 2008, 3:09 am
Filed under: Patristics

After daring to quote Origen, a Canadian blogger was called upon to explain himself. We’ve been over this ground.

8 Comments so far
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Origen is a favorite of mine. This aspect of his work reminds us that sainthood is not the same as infallibility. I’m a fan of St. Augustine, but I can’t agree with him on everything. Ditto for John Cassian.

Comment by Jim 10.18.08 @ 9:41 am

Origen’s greatest defender in antiquity, Eusebius of Caesarea, also claimed that Origen’s positions had been misrepresented. I am inclined to agree with Eusebius and de Lubac. But, Jim, I would resepctfully point out that, while you are correct about sainthood and infallibility, Origen was never canonized.

Comment by Carl Sommer 10.18.08 @ 10:40 am

Origen’s exegetical work was never in question. It was his speculative theology, “thinking out loud,” that got him in trouble.

St Basil the Great and St Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzenus) themselves compiled a collection of the most important bits (both good or bad) from Origen’s works. Kessinger Publishing has reprinted (from scans) the Greek text and George Lewis’ English translation of this Philocalia of Origen.

Origen could definitely be “out there” but he was trying to answer questions that the Church hadn’t provided answers for yet. In every case where an answer had even been suggested as that of the Church (in acceptance of the apocrypha, for instance), particularly by widespread practice or belief, Origen would support it.

Comment by Kevin P. Edgecomb 10.18.08 @ 4:31 pm


I don’t equate canonization with sainthood.

Comment by Jim 10.19.08 @ 7:41 am

Neither does the current pope, in Origen’s case.

There are plenty of orthodox and great theologians who haven’t been raised to the altars, just as there are plenty of saintly people who are not famous in the world.

In some ways, Origen’s iffy status makes him more influential, though. People who hate authority may listen closer to Origen! :)

Comment by Maureen 10.19.08 @ 10:00 pm

In my book The Fathers of the Church, Expanded Edition, I discuss the iffy status of Origen, Tertullian, and Eusebius, and how the patrology textbooks treated them through the twentieth century.

Comment by Mike Aquilina 10.19.08 @ 10:42 pm

My apologies, Jim.

Comment by Carl Sommer 10.20.08 @ 11:26 am

Maureen hit that nail on the head. Here in Berkeley you run into all kinds of people with great things to say about Origen who’ve never read more than a few excerpts, and, of course, misunderstood the entire Origenist controversy. The attractor for these nimwits is “non-establishment”. It’s some pathetic holdover from the sixties.

Comment by Kevin P. Edgecomb 10.20.08 @ 3:20 pm

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