Friday, February 9, 2018

Origen’s On First Principles

On First Principles is one of Origen’s famous writings. I am rereading parts of it now in preparation for Monday’s lectures on Church History. We are entering the period of the 3rd century when the action really began to heat up. Not that it was less exciting in the 2nd century AD with the Marcion’s division and canonisation of NT writings gathering pace. But with Origen you have one of the greatest church theologians of all time rivaling Augustine who was more familiar with Latin in the late 4th and early 5th century. We can say that Origen’s writings became the focus of attention and debates for the next 300 years. When someone commented last night on my blogpost on Origen more than 5 years ago I reread what I wrote and was immensely blessed by it. In it Origen commented on how one person much lesser than the other could exercise authority over one who is greater than him.
Perhaps a reflection of Origen’s life and ministry when he was refused ordination by his own Bishop in Alexandria but was welcome elsewhere in Jerusalem and Caesarea where he was ordained. For a while he returned to Alexandria on his bishop’s order but with much hatred and opposition Origen had to move to Caesarea where he was most productive for the last 20 years of his life before dying due to his injuries suffered under Decian persecution. Origen is my hero, learned in the biblical languages with his Hexapla and commentaries on John’s Gospel, Genesis, Ezekiel all my favourite biblical books. Origen was criticised for some of his more speculative theology but with small blemishes and after all he was one truly great Christian philosopher able to hold his own among the best Greek philosophers of his day, no great blame should be laid on him in light of his immense learning and writings that bless the church until today.

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