Origen

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Knowing that Christ has come, we see that, owing to Him, there are many christs in the world, who, like Him, have loved righteousness and hated iniquity.

Origenes (or Origen Adamantios; c. 185254) was an Alexandrian theologian and Biblical scholar. He is considered one of the most distinguished of the early fathers of the Christian Church.

Sourced[edit]

Unless otherwise stated, quotations cited from Frederick Crombie (trans.) The Writings of Origen (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1869-72), to which page numbers also refer.

On First Principles[edit]

  • Having refuted, then, as well as we could, every notion which might suggest that we were to think of God as in any degree corporeal, we go on to say that, according to strict truth, God is incomprehensible, and incapable of being measured. For whatever be the knowledge which we are able to obtain of God, either by perception or reflection, we must of necessity believe that He is by many degrees far better than what we perceive Him to be.
    • On First Principles, Bk. 1, ch. 1; par. 5
  • That is properly termed everlasting or eternal which neither had a beginning of existence, nor can ever cease to be what it is. And this is the idea conveyed by John when he says that God is light. Now His wisdom is the splendour of that light, not only in respect of its being light, but also of being everlasting light, so that His wisdom is eternal and everlasting splendour. If this be fully understood, it clearly shows that the existence of the Son is derived from the Father but not in time, nor from any other beginning, except, as we have said, from God Himself.
    • On First Principles, Bk. 1, ch. 2; par. 11
  • In this way, then, by the renewal of the ceaseless working of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in us, in its various stages of progress, shall we be able at some future time perhaps, although with difficulty, to behold the holy and the blessed life, in which (as it is only after many struggles that we are able to reach it) we ought so to continue, that no satiety of that blessedness should ever seize us; but the more we perceive its blessedness, the more should be increased and intensified within us the longing for the same, while we ever more eagerly and freely receive and hold fast the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But if satiety should ever take hold of any one of those who stand on the highest and perfect summit of attainment, I do not think that such an one would suddenly be deposed from his position and fall away, but that he must decline gradually and little by little, so that it may sometimes happen that if a brief lapsus take place, and the individual quickly repent and return to himself, he may not utterly fall away, but may retrace his steps, and return to his former place, and again make good that which had been lost by his negligence.
    • On First Principles, Bk. 1, ch. 3; par. 8
  • Every being which is endowed with reason, and transgresses its statutes and limitations, is undoubtedly involved in sin by swerving from rectitude and justice.
    • On First Principles, Bk. 1, ch. 5; vol. 1, p. 45.
  • As the eye naturally seeks the light and vision, and our body naturally desires food and drink, so our mind is possessed with a becoming and natural desire to become acquainted with the truth of God and the causes of things.
    • On First Principles, Bk. 2, ch. 11; vol. 1, p. 148
  • But since, if the usefulness of the legislation, and the sequence and beauty of the history, were universally evident of itself, we should not believe that any other thing could be understood in the Scriptures save what was obvious, the word of God has arranged that certain stumbling-blocks, as it were, and offences, and impossibili­ties, should be introduced into the midst of the law and the history, in order that we may not, through being drawn away in all directions by the merely attractive na­ture of the language, either altogether fall away from the (true) doctrines, as learn­ing nothing worthy of God, or, by not departing from the letter, come to the knowledge of nothing more divine.
    • On First Principles, Bk. 4, ch. 2, par. 15
  • For who that has understanding will sup­pose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, ex­isted without a sun, and moon, and stars? and that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky?  And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden ...
    • On First Principles, Bk. 4, ch. 2, par 16
  • The reason why all those we have mentioned hold false opinions and make impious or ignorant assertions about God appears to be nothing else but this, that scripture is not understood in its spiritual sense, but is interpreted according to the bare letter.
    • “How divine scripture should be interpreted,” On First Principles, book 4, chapter 2, § 2, Readings in World Christian History (2013), p. 69
  • As for the apostolic epistles, what person who is skilled in literary interpretation would think them to be plain and easily understood, when even in them there are thousands of passages that provide, as it through a window, a narrow opening leading to multitudes of the deepest thoughts?
    • “How divine scripture should be interpreted,” On First Principles, book 4, chapter 2, § 2, Readings in World Christian History (2013), p. 69
  • One must therefore portray the meaning of the sacred writings in a threefold way upon one's own soul, so that the simple person may be edified by what we may call the flesh of the scripture, this name being given to the obvious interpretation; while the one who has made some progress may be edified by its soul, as it were; and the one who is perfect and like those mentioned by the apostle: "We speak wisdom among the perfect; yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, which are coming to nought; but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the world unto our glory" (1 Cor. 2:6-7)--this one may be edified by the spiritual law, which has "a shadow of the good things to come" (cf. Rom. 7:14). For just as the human being consists of body, soul and spirit, so in the same way does the scripture, which has been prepared by God to be given for humanity's salvation.
    • “How divine scripture should be interpreted,” On First Principles, book 4, chapter 2, Readings in World Christian History (2013), p. 70
  • When, therefore, as will be clear to those who read, the passage as a connected whole is literally impossible, whereas the outstanding part of it is not impossible but even true, the reader must endeavor to grasp the entire meaning, connecting by an intellectual process the account of what is literally impossible with the parts that are not impossible but historically true, these being interpreted allegorically in common with the part which, so far as the letter goes, did not happen at all. For our contention with regard to the whole of divine scripture is that it all has a spiritual meaning, but not all a bodily meaning; for the bodily meaning is often proved to be an impossibility.
    • “How divine scripture should be interpreted,” On First Principles, book 4, chapter 2, Readings in World Christian History (2013), p. 75

Against Celsus[edit]

  • There was no need that there should everywhere exist many bodies, and many spirits like Jesus, in order that the whole world of men might be enlightened by the Word of God. For the one Word was enough, having arisen as the "Sun of righteousness (Malachi chpt. 3)," to send forth from Judea His coming rays into the soul of all who were willing to receive Him. But if any one desires to see many bodies filled with a divine Spirit, similar to the one Christ, ministering to the salvation of men everywhere, let him take note of those who teach the gospel of Jesus in all lands in soundness of doctrine and uprightness of life, and who are themselves termed "christs" by the Holy Scriptures, in the passage, "Touch not mine anointed, and do not my prophets any harm." For as we have heard that Antichrist cometh, and yet have learned that there are many antichrists in the world, in the same way, knowing that Christ has come, we see that, owing to Him, there are many christs in the world, who, like Him, have loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and therefore God, the God of Christ, anointed them also with the "oil of gladness." But inasmuch as He loved righteousness and hated iniquity above those who were His partners, He also obtained the first-fruits of His anointing, and, if we must so term it, the entire unction of the oil of gladness ; while they who were His partners shared also in His unction, in proportion to their individual capacity.
    • Against Celsus, Bk. 6, ch. 79; vol. 2, p. 422.

Quotes about Origen[edit]

  • More and more, as the organic world was observed, the vast multitude of petty animals, winged creatures, and "creeping things" was felt to be a strain upon the sacred narrative. More and more it became difficult to reconcile the dignity of the Almighty with his work in bringing each of these creatures before Adam to be named; or to reconcile the human limitations of Adam with his work in naming "every living creature"; or to reconcile the dimensions of Noah's ark with the space required for preserving all of them, and the food of all sorts necessary for their sustenance. ...Origen had dealt with it by suggesting that the cubit was six times greater than had been supposed. Bede explained Noah's ability to complete so large a vessel by supposing that he worked upon it during a hundred years.

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