Origen (185-254 A.D.) - a.k.a. Origen of Alexandria - was an early Christian philosopher, who lived in the East, and especially in Alexandria. He was a student of Clement of Alexandria and his father was martyred during the Severine persecutions in the year 202.
Origen established a Catechitical School at Alexandria. During the persecutions of Caracella in 215, Origen traveled to Palestine. On his second visit in 230, he was ordained by the Bishops of Caesarea and Aelia. Bishop Demetrius of Alexandria objected and exiled Origen from his diocese. The reasons for this are unclear. Eusebius, in another early Christian writing, claims this was from jealousy.
Origen established a new School at Caesarea, where he was equally as successful as he had been in Alexandria.
During the persecution of Decius in 250, he was imprisoned and tortured and died shortly thereafter.
The sources of Origen's life come mostly from:
Origen was a prolific writer and many of his works have survived into modern times. These works are:
- Hexpla - A comparison of six versions of the Old Testament
- De Principiis - A systematic theology that dealt with God and his relationship with the universe, the place of humanity, good and evil, and the interpretation of the Scriptures
He also left an important treatise on prayer, where he makes the case that prayer is not a matter of asking for things, but rather of participating in the life of God.
Origen's works were admired by:
Origen's works on the Trinity in De Prinipiis were condemned in 400 by a council in Alexandria. The controversy over his work continued to smolder until the Council of Constantinople formally condemned his work in the 6th century.
Despite the ultimate rejection of parts of his speculative theology, Origen is an exceptionally important figure in the early Church. In his biblical scholarship, he recognized that Scripture could be interpreted literally, morally, and allegorically. His stress on the symbolic meaning of the text has had a profound influence on the later history of biblical understanding.
- Who’s Who in Christianity, Lavinia Coh-Sherbok, 1998