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Origen (Greek: Ὠριγένης, Ōrigénēs; Born::185-Died::254 AD) or Origen Adamantius, was a Christian scholar and theologian and one of the most distinguished of the Fathers of the early Christian Church. He was born in 185 AD, probably in Alexandria, Egypt and died in Caesarea in 254 AD.



Origen assumed the leadership of Alexandria’s Catechetical School at the age of only eighteen, after an outbreak of persecution under the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus (146-211) in 203 forced the previous incumbent, Clement, to flee. He was undoubtedly one of the most brilliant of the church fathers, yet sadly, due to his more infamous interpretations he has (perhaps unfairly[1]) been the object of much ridicule over the centuries. Origen was the most prolific of the Christian writers of his time and his six-column arrangement of the Hebrew Old Testament text (known as the Hexapla)[2] was not surpassed for over a thousand years.[3] Much time has been wasted in discussions of Origen, arguing over whether he was orthodox or not. Rather than repeat these I will leave them to one side and attempt to explain the reasons behind his interpretation of Scripture and the creation account in particular. As with all the early Church fathers we must learn to sift out “the wheat of real wisdom from the tares of unfounded speculation.”

Origen's Hermeneutic

Origen reasoned in the 4th book of his treatise On First Principles that, if the Bible is inspired by God, then it cannot be irrelevant, unworthy of God, or simply crude. If it ever appears to be in error then we have obviously missed its deeper meaning.[4] Origen wrote that the “literalists” of his day that “they attack allegorical interpretation and want to teach that divine Scripture has nothing deeper than the text allows”.[5] “Literalists,” he complained, “believe such things about [God] as would not be believed of the most savage and unjust of men”.[6] These ‘Literalists’ misunderstood the meaning of poetry, metaphors, parables and figures of speech and had no concept of the need to understand what the original author of the text was seeking to express to his audience.[7] It is therefore not surprising that they arrived at interpretations that Origen found offensive and caused him react against their definition of the ‘literal meaning'.[8] He was prepared to tolerate these unintellectual believers, though he did find them an embarrassment when explaining Christianity to sophisticated pagans. Nonetheless, he believed that if they were genuine in their simplicity then the literal meaning of the Gospels was sufficient for salvation.[9] There was a second group of ‘literalists’ whom Origen was much less tolerant towards: the Judaisers. By means of a more sophisticated literalism this group attempted to continue obedience to the Law within the Christian Church.[10]

Unlike the ‘non-intellectual’ believers of his day Origen believed that the Bible

...contains three levels of meaning, corresponding to the threefold Pauline (and Platonic) division of a person into body, soul and spirit. The bodily level of Scripture, the bare letter, is normally helpful as it stands to meet the needs of the more simple. The psychic level, corresponding to the soul, is for making progress in perfection.… [The] spiritual interpretation deals with ‘unspeakable mysteries’ so as to make humanity a “partaker of all the doctrines of the Spirit’s counsel”.[11]

It has often been pointed out that Origen was not consistent in the distinction he made between the three levels of Scripture. In reality he only discussed two levels - those of the letter and the spirit.[12] Most modern theologians and Bible students seek to identify the meaning God intended a biblical text to have to its original audience. From this they derive its contemporary application, which (to be considered valid) must be linked to the text’s original meaning.[13] For Origen the universal application - what the text teaches about Christ and how the reader can become like Him - was the original meaning of the text.[14] If a text did not appear to be speaking about how you might advance towards perfection then you had misunderstood it. This was the key that showed Origen that he had interpreted a text correctly. To put it simply: if he could make a passage speak in this way then he was confident that he had uncovered its true ‘spiritual’ meaning. Some passages yielded such an application easily; others required more spiritual insight and, sometimes, the rejection of the historical meaning. It was this ‘insight’ that the ‘literalists’ (those who saw only the ‘letter’) lacked.

There are several specific reasons that we can deduce from Origen’s writings that led him to the conclusion that the straightforward historical meaning of many passages of Scripture were simply not true.[15] Most can be found in Book 4 of On First Principles.

* Where a passage contradicts his eschatology. Origen’s rejection of some passages, such as Zech. 9:10; Isa. 7:15; 11:6-7, ‘obviously’ which cannot be intended literally,[16] seems to have been based upon his understanding of the end times (eschatology). Most early Christian writers were pre-millennialists and believed in a literal 1,000 year rule of Christ on earth.[17] Opposition to such an idea arose due to the excessive millennial claims of the Montanists in the second century, attempts to calculate the date of Christ’s Return,[18] and in response to Gnostic ridicule of the doctrine.[19] Origen rejected such a carnal belief:[20] his views greatly influencing later writers, notably Eusebius of Caesarea.[21] We are faced with a ‘chicken and the egg’ scenario in attempting to decide if his eschatology influenced his choice of hermeneutic or vice versa.

* He used a defective translation in the Septuagint.[22] There are several examples of this in On First Principles 4.1.17. Origen argues that as there is no such thing as a ‘goat-stag’ (Deut. 14:5 LXX) and that a ‘griffin’ (Lev. 11:13; Deut. 14:12 LXX) cannot be subdued by man. The correct translations for these creatures are ‘mountain goat’ and ‘vulture’ respectively (see NIV). He argues that it is impossible to observe Exodus 16:29 literally, “...for no living being is able to sit throughout a whole day, and remain without moving from the sitting position”.[23] The solution to this problem seems obvious to us, the correct reading being: “stay where he is” rather than ”sit”.

In his second Homily on Exodus Origen finds a problem with Exodus 1:21 which reads in his Bible: “Because the midwives feared God, they made houses for themselves.” This leads him to comment:

This statement makes no sense according to the letter. For what is the relationship that the text should say, “Because the midwives feared God, they made houses for themselves.”  ?It is as if a house is built because God is feared. If this be taken as it stands written, not only does it appear to lack logic, but also to be inane. But if you should see how the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, teaching the fear of God, make the houses of the Church and fill the whole earth with houses of prayer, then what is written will appear to have been written rationally.”[24]

Of course the solution becomes obvious when one translates the Greek word oikias correctly in this context as “families” instead of “houses”. The verse then reads: “And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.” (NIV).

* He failed to place himself in the literal context: literary, psychological or moral. (A relatively rare occurrence.)[25]

* He considered the text useless, contrary to Christ’s precepts or impossible.[26] Origen rejects Matthew 5:29 & 39 in On First Principles 4.1.18 because they seem to him impossible.[27] There he writes that the command that the right cheek should be struck is most incredible, because everyone who strikes (unless he happens to have some bodily defect) strikes the left cheek with his right hand.

Likewise in his Commentary on Romans (2.9) Origen rejects the Mosaic command of circumcision (Lev. 12:3):

Now the law of nature can be in harmony with the law of Moses according to the spirit, not according to the letter. For what natural sense is there in, for example, the command to circumcise a child on the eighth day.[28]

There are, however, good medical reasons why circumcision was to be carried out on the eighth day that have only been recognised relatively recently with the discovery of blood clotting agents. In similar vein Origen argued “...what could be more irrational than (to take literally the injunction), “Salute no man by the way,” which simple persons think the Saviour enjoined the apostles?”[29]

* He has inadequate knowledge of Hebrew civilisation.[30]

* He was too literal in his thinking and rejected what are obviously figures of speech, especially anthropomorphic language. For example:

When the psalmist declares that God’s truth ‘reaches to the clouds’, Origen feels constrained to insist that clouds cannot be intended literally in such a saying; they must be interpreted spiritually of those who are obedient to the word of God. The literal interpretation of Zech. 4:10 would imply that God had seven bodily eyes.[31]

When discussing Exodus 21:22-25 where Origen is at a loss to explain how an unborn child can lose an eye or have his/her teeth knocked out. How, he asks, can a pregnant woman be burnt while witnessing a fight between two men?[32] His over-literal understanding does not consider that it is the principle of just - but not excessive punishment - that is being established here.

* Because Paul apparently rejected a text’s ‘literal’ meaning.[33] Several instances in the New Testament are cited by Origen as precedents for rejecting a text’s historical meaning, e.g. 1 Corinthians 9:9-10 (Deut. 25:4);[34] 1 Corinthians 10:4, 11,[35] and Galatians 4:21-24.[36] In all these cases there are good reasons for arguing that Paul did not see the Old Testament references as having no historic meaning. Origen then extends this precedent to scriptures not mentioned by Paul, for example:

Do you think these are the only words related to wells? Jacob also goes to a well and finds Rachel there. There Rachel becomes known to him as “good in her eyes and beautiful in appearance.” [Cf. Gen. 29:17] But Moses finds Sephora, the daughter of Raguel, at a well. [Cf. Exod. 2:15]

Are you not yet moved to understand that these words are spoken spiritually? Or do you think that it always happens by chance that the patriarchs go to wells and obtain their marriages at waters? He who thinks this way is “a sensual man” and “does not perceive these things which are of the spirit of God.” [Cf. 1 Cor. 2:14] But let him who wishes remain in these understandings, let him remain “a sensual man.” I, following Paul the apostle, say that these things are “allegories” [cf. Gal. 4:24] and I say that the marriages of the saints are the union of the soul with the word of God: “For he who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit.”[37]

* He had an inadequate grasp of God’s progressive self-revelation.[38] How, he argues, can even the simplest of believers explain literally the meaning of the account of Lot lying with his daughters? How could Abraham have had two wives; two sisters be married to Jacob, and two handmaids be given to him by his wives?[39] Are not all these things forbidden in the Law?[40] Despite what Origen wrote these events are explicable as historical events, not condoned by God, which took place before the Law was given.

None of the errors listed above were restricted to Origen. Many other ancient, and indeed some modern writers have made the same mistakes. Despite his reservations regarding the historical meaning of a text, Origen was at times prepared even to defend the literal meaning, such as that of Noah’s Ark[41] and the Flood[42]. However, he usually fails to connect the spiritual interpretation to the straightforward historical sense.[43] For him it was “almost accidental that the Bible contained much true history. The soul within the body of Scripture was the important thing.”[44] The motivation behind Origen’s exegesis was the desire that his audience see and hear Christ in the Scriptures and be transformed through that experience.[45] We might quibble with his methodology, but surely not with his intention. It is also worth noting that Origen believed that the passages of Scripture that are historically true far outnumbered those which have a purely spiritual meaning.[46]

Origen’s Interpretation of the Creation

In attempting to examine closely Origen’s understanding of creation we are faced with considerable difficulty, because his major work on the subject (his Commentary on Genesis) has been lost, except for a few fragments and quotations.[47] We are therefore forced to rely on these (remembering the possibility that they may not be representative of Origen’s complete thought on the subject) and incidental references in his later works. A further problem is that few of Origen’s writings are extant in the original Greek, only in a Latin translation.[48] This goes some way in explaining the different conclusions reached by scholars engaged in this area of research.

Faced with the problem of the origin of the soul, Origen found no clear guidelines in the Church's Rule of Faith,[49] so he felt free to speculate using Scripture and reason to fill this gap in knowledge.[50] He felt keenly the force of the objections that intellectuals were making against the Church in this area. Valentinian Gnostics held that each man’s condition at birth was predetermined and beyond human control. The Marcionites argued that the Creator God was unjust in allowing some to be born blind or crippled through no fault of their own.[51] Origen’s solution to these problems was a development of the Platonic ideas of Philo and Clement of Alexandria.[52]

Origen interpreted the Christian doctrine of creation as follows: in the beginning was the spiritual world of rational creatures, absorbed in the contemplation of God.[53] Two possible explanations are put forward by Origen for the first ‘fall’. The souls either became satiated with the contemplation of the divine[54] and became bored and so fallen away from God. Alternatively, he reasoned using the etymology of the word for soul (psuche) that the intelligences moved away from the warmth of God’s presence and became cold (psuchos). The cooling caused the intelligences to become souls, but their ultimate form depended up their degree of ‘cooling,’ in a descending order.[55] It might be represented in a simplified form as shown below.


The position of these rational creatures was not static, as Origen conceived that eventually every rational creature would be saved and returned to their original state of contemplative union with God,[56] even the Devil.[57] “For the end is always like the beginning”.[58] The perceptible and terrestrial world was created by God to house the fallen rational beings until they should return to their original status.[59] Indeed the whole point of Origen’s interpretation of the Bible was to show how a believer might return to this original state of union with God.[60] This explanation answered the objections of the Valentinians and Marcionites. Man’s present state, even his physical condition and place of birth were the result of his soul’s original fault committed in pre-existence.[61] Origen found scriptural support for this in such passages as Malachi 1:2-3 and Romans 9:11: “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated...”[62] In his Commentary on Genesis Origen argued that the Fall took place, not because of disobedience, but because Adam & Eve’s love for God cooled; they became bored and rebellious, and the result was that they were driven from God’s presence.[63]

Many people make the mistake of assuming that because Origen taught the pre-existent fall of rational beings that he also denied the historicity of Adam as an individual. It is equally inaccurate to argue that he viewed Adam’s fall as being merely symbolic of the fall of every man’s soul.[64] The story of Adam and Eve in Origen’s thought represented a second fall.[65] Eve was deceived (because of her inherent weakness resulting from her fall in pre-existence)[66] by the serpent who envied Adam and deceived him by means of food.[67] Although some scholars have argued strongly that Origen did not believe in the historicity of Adam[68] it appears to me that as we do not have Origen’s complete works it is better for us not to be too dogmatic; for in his surviving works Origen himself does not appear to have just one view on the subject.[69]

Origen’s doctrine of the pre-existence of souls would not have been considered heretical in his day, because no clear doctrine on the subject had yet been formulated. Only in the centuries that followed did the idea of pre-existence come to be seen as “not only mythical, but even heretical...”[70] The doctrine was finally declared heretical at the Second Council of Constantinople (AD 553),[71] 300 years after his death! The controversy that later developed in Origen’s name was owed more to the development and systematisation his works by his followers than to Origen himself.[72]

Origen, in contrast to the Platonists, argued that the creation was ex nihilo,[73] and that it took place in time, but postulated that as God could never have been idle it must therefore be one of an endless cycle of worlds (a Platonic concept). He appears to have reasoned that creation was ex nihilo because he believed that the end of the world was to be like the beginning. As the end of the world involved a disappearance of all matter, so the beginning must have been the opposite: the formation of all matter.[74]

The Flood

In his second Homily on Genesis Origen told his congregation that he intended first to relate to them the literal sense of the account of Noah’s Ark, and then “...ascend from the historical account to the mystical and allegorical understanding of the spiritual meaning...”[75] Even in his literal account there are elements not found in the original Hebrew (such as the reference to the construction of ‘nests’ for the animals)[76] which are drawn from Philo of Alexandria. He described the dimensions of the Ark (giving it 5 decks instead of 3) and (again apparently following Philo) thought that the Ark was shaped like a pyramid.[77] The reason for this being that they misunderstood the meaning of the phrase in Genesis 6:16 “finished to a cubit above”, which is better translated “finish the ark within a cubit of the top.” The result of this mistake is bizarre:

In the first place, therefore, we ask what sort of shape and form we should understand the appearance of the ark. I think, to the extent that it is manifest from these things which are described, rising with four angles from the bottom, and the same having been drawn together gradually all the way to the top, it has been brought together into the space of one cubit. For thus it is related that at its bases three hundred cubits are laid down in length, fifty in breadth, and thirty are raised in height, but they are brought together in a narrow peak so that its breadth and length are a cubit.[78]

It did not occur to either Philo or Origen that such an ark would only float upside down! On the contrary, he considered that the pointed top would allow the rain water to flow off more easily and the four corners act like a foundation![79] Origen refuted the accusation of Apelles, a disciple of the Gnostic Marcion, that the ark was not large enough to hold all the animals. Rather than resorting to allegory he defended the literal meaning by arguing that Moses meant geometrical cubits - equal to 6 ordinary cubits.[80] This argument was later taken up at a later date by Augustine to answer the same challenge.[81]

Creationism in Origen’s Against Celsus

Origen wrote eight books against the Middle Platonist Celsus (fl. AD 170-180), an intelligent pagan who had vigorously and systematically attacked Christianity in his work True Doctrine. Origen’s refutation is valuable because it quotes or paraphrases about 90 per cent of Celsus’ work, providing much information about both the early church and the accusations being made against them.[82] It also gives us examples of an important element in Origen’s exegesis: namely his acceptance of the pagan belief that an inspired piece of literature must, be definition, be capable of being interpreted allegorically.[83] Celsus apparently charged that the accounts of Moses showed no signs of being capable of bearing an allegorical meaning.[84] This was a charge that Origen took pains to refute,[85] but somewhat surprisingly he was prepared to defend the literal meaning against Celsus’ charges.[86] Origen also claimed that when it came to interpreting obscure passages of the Bible that this was best done by comparing scripture with scripture.[87]

Celsus had firsthand knowledge of the book of Genesis and so Origen was obliged to reply to his attacks concerning it. Sadly when it came to a detailed exposition of Genesis Origen often referred his readers to his Commentary,[88] which no longer survives. According to Celsus, Moses’ account of the creation of the world was just plain silly. To which Origen responds by pointing out that Moses was not the writer of comedies, but the lawgiver to an entire nation, and so not given to engaging in trivial pursuits.[89] Celsus’ reading of Genesis was often woodenly literal. He pointed to the anthropomorphic language such as God resting on the seventh day, or God working with his hands; such references were figurative and did not mean that God had a body.[90] Origen did not believe that the days of Genesis were 24 hours long,[91] but neither did he see them as long periods of time. On the contrary, he contended on the basis of the account of Moses that the world was less than 10 000 years old.[92]

Celsus claimed that the account of the Tower of Babel was a corrupted version of the Greek story of the sons of Aloeus, Otus and Ephialtes, recorded by Homer (c. 8th century BC).[93] Origen countered with the now familiar claim that as Moses antedates Homer then Moses’ account of the confusion of tongues must be the original one. [94]Celsus likewise pours scorn upon the account of the Flood, especially on the dimensions of the Ark. Origen’s answer is that the dimensions stated and the time given to build the Ark were all reasonable and can be taken literally.[95] He makes no reference to 2 Peter 3:3-10 in his discussion of the Flood, possibly because it contradicted his eschatology. He believed that the fire of the second great conflagration was to be taken figuratively for the judgement of God consuming the works of men (cf. 1 Cor. 3:13-15).[96] Such an interpretation, however, was not typical of the rest of the church of his day.[97]

Apparently following the generally accepted opinion, held also by Pliny the Elder (AD 23 -79), Ovid (43 BC - c. AD 17) and Aelian (AD 170-235), Origen believed that certain animals are spontaneously generated from dead bodies: is not wonderful that at the present time a snake should be found out of a dead man, growing out of the marrow of his back,[98] and that a bee should spring from an ox,[99] and a wasp from a horse,[100] and a beetle from an ass, and, generally, worms from the most of bodies.[101]

He even appears to suggest that the first men might have been spontaneously generated, citing the beliefs of the Greeks as support for his view. However, the reference is unclear and his acceptance of the view appears to have been tentative.[102]


Origen attempted to defend Christianity against the attacks of both Judaism and Gnosticism[103] by marrying Neoplatonism and Christianity. He sometimes reached the same conclusions as the majority early church writers, for example in his belief that creation was ex nihilo.[104] In other areas his Neoplatonism dominated his thinking, leading him to effectively deny of the historical meaning of the text in a way similar to that of the Gnostic teachers that he was opposing.[105] The wooden literalism that Origen opposed is not what most modern Christians would understand as the literal meaning, so we must not confuse the terms used when applying them to modern arguments.[106] An example of such confusion is provided by Roger Forster & Paul Marston who attempt to prove that not only did the early church take Genesis 1-3 allegorically, but argue that Origen provides an example of an early church father who interpreted Genesis (in their view) correctly.[107]


  1. Moisés Silva, Has The Church Misread The Bible? Foundations of Contemporary Interpretation, Vol. 1. Leicester: Apollos, 1987. p.49. Silva attempts to redress the injustice done to Origen by explaining the reasoning behind his hermeneutic.
  2. Eusebius, Church History, 6.16.1-4 (Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers [NPNF], 2nd Series, Vol. 1, pp.262-263.
  3. W.H.C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1989. p.375.
  4. Joseph W. Trigg, Origen. London: SCM Press, 1983. p.120; J.F. Bethune-Baker, An Introduction To The Early History Of Christian Doctrine. London: Methuen & Co., 1903. p.54.
  5. Origen, Matthew, Sermon 15.
  6. Origen, On First Principles 4.1.8 (Ante-Nicene Fathers [ANF], Vol. 4, 357).
  7. Leslie W. Barnard, “To Allegorize or not to Allegorize?” Studia Theologica 36 (1982): 1-2.
  8. Maurice Wiles, “Origen As A Biblical Scholar,” Cambridge History of the Bible, Vol. 1. Cambridge: CUP, 1970. p.472.
  9. Ibid., p.424.
  10. Ibid., p.424.
  11. Trigg, Origen, op.cit., pp.120-121, 126.
  12. Karen Jo Torjesen, Hermeneutical Procedure and Theological Method in Origen’s Exegesis. Berlin, New York: Walter De Gruyter, 1986. p.41.
  13. See further: Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth: A guide to Understanding the Bible, 2nd edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1993; William W. Klein, Craig Blomberg & Robert L. Hubbard, Introduction to Biblical Interpretation. London: Word Publishing, 1993.
  14. Torjesen, op.cit., pp.125-126.
  15. Wiles, op.cit., p.470..
  16. Origen, On First Principles 4.1.8; (ANF, Vol. 4, p.356).
  17. Including: Papias (see Irenaeus, Againist Heresies, 5.33-35); Epistle of Barnabas (15:1-9), Justin Martyr (Dialogue with Typho, 80f.); Melito (see Polycrates in Eusebius’ History, 5.1), Irenaeus (Heresies, 5.31.1); Hippolytus of Rome (Commentary on Daniel, 4.23), Julius ‘Africanus’, Tertullian (Against Marcion, 3; On the Resurrection of the Flesh), Cyprian and Lactantius (Institutes, 6.14, 24, 26; 8.11ff. esp. 24). Bethune-Baker, 70; J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, rev. edn., 1960. San Francisco: Harper, 1978. p.469; J.W. Montgomery, “Millennium,” G.W. Bromiley, gen.ed., International Standard Bible Ecncyclopedia, revised, Vol. 3. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986. p.358.
  18. Montgomery, op.cit., p.358.
  19. The Gnostics, of course, rejected anything connected with the physical world. Bethune-Baker, op.cit., p.71.
  20. Origen, On First Principles 2.11.2; (ANF, Vol. 4, p.297).
  21. Eusebius, Church History, 3.39.12-13 (NPNF, 2nd Series, Vol. 1, p.172): “[Papias taught ] ...that there will be a period of some thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth. I suppose he got these ideas through a misunderstanding of the apostolic accounts, not perceiving that the things said by them were spoken mystically in figures. For he appears to have been of very limited understanding, as one can see from his discourses. But it was due to him that so many of the Church Fathers after him adopted a like opinion, urging in their own support the antiquity of the man; as for instance Irenaeus and any one else that may have proclaimed similar views.”
  22. Henri Crouzel, Origen. trans. A.S. Worral. Edinburgh: T.& T. Clark, 1989. p.62.
  23. Origen, On First Principles 4.1.17; (ANF, Vol. 4, p.366).
  24. Origen, Exodus 2.2 (Origen, “Homilies on Genesis and Exodus,” trans. Ronald E. Heine, Fathers of the Church, Vol. 71. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1981. pp.242-243).
  25. Crouzel, op.cit., p.63.
  26. Crouzel, op.cit., p.63.
  27. Origen, On First Principles 4.1.18; (ANF, Vol. 4, p.367). See further F.F. Bruce, The Hard Sayings of Jesus. Leicester: IVP, 1983. pp.54-55.
  28. R. Laird Harris, “Leviticus,” F.E> Gaebelein, gen.ed., The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 2. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990. pp.573-574: “There may be more reasons than one for such a law. First, it would put the mother in sufficient isolation to assist in bringing her back to normal health. Being unclean she could not do the cooking or keep the house. Also, it is possible that such a provision would help to prevent the spread of childbed fever, which in former days took so many lives. If the mother was unclean, presumably any midwife would have to wash in water and be unclean until the evening, which would help prevent the direct transmission of the disease.”
  29. Origen, On First Principles 4.1.18; (ANF, Vol. 4, p.367). See further I.H. Marshall, “Commentary on Luke,” New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989. p.418.
  30. Crouzel, op.cit., p.63.
  31. Wiles, 470; R.P.C. Hanson, Allegory And Event. London: SCM, 1959. p.151; Origen, Fragments on Genesis, PG. 12.93.
  32. Origen, Homily on Exodus 10.2 (Heine, op.cit., p.348).
  33. E.g. Origen, Homily on Exodus 5.1 (Heine, op.cit., pp.275-277); Against Celsus 4:49; On First Principles 4.1.13 (ANF, Vol. 4, pp.520, 361-362.)
  34. Origen, Homily on Joshua 9.8 & On First Principles 4.1.12; (ANF, Vol. 4, pp.360-361). Gordon D. Fee, “The First Epistle to the Corinthians,” New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989. p.407, n.59: “To call this allegory is to push the term beyond its recognised boundaries. The OT text was chosen because in its original setting it meant precisely what Paul is arguing for here, the “worker” should reap material benefit from his labor. The meaning of the text is not allegorised; rather, it is given a new application.”
  35. Origen, Homily on Joshua 9.8. Paul is using the Hagar-Sarah not as part of his Scriptural argument for the superiority of the New Covenant, but rather is part of his exhortation to “become like me” (Gal. 4:12f.). Richard N. Longenecker, “Galatians,” Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 41. Waco: Word, 1990. p.199. It therefore wrong to claim that Paul based doctrine upon allegorical interpretation.
  36. Ibid, 458-459.
  37. Origen, Homily on Genesis 10.5 (Heine, op.cit., pp.165-166). Squared brackets footnotes in original.
  38. Elsewhere Origen explains the account of Lot and his daughters defending the literal sense. See Origen, Homily on Genesis 5.1-5 (Heine, op.cit., 112-117).
  39. Elsewhere Origen finds a suitable “spiritual” reason why Abraham could marry the handmaid Keturah. See Origen, Homily on Genesis 11.1-2 (Heine, op.cit., pp.168-171).
  40. Origen, On First Principles 4.1.9; ANF, Vol. 4, p.357.
  41. Origen, Homily on Genesis 2.2 (Heine, op.cit., 75-77); Againist Celsus 4.41; (ANF, Vol. 4, p.516).
  42. Origen, Against Celsus, 4.41; (ANF, Vol. 4, p.516)
  43. Wiles, op.cit., p.472.
  44. Henry Chadwick, The Early Church. London: Penguin, 1990. p.108.
  45. Torjesen, op.cit., pp.44, 135-138.
  46. Origen, On First Principles, 4.1.19; (ANF, Vol. 4, p.368): “...the truth of history may and ought to be preserved in the majority of instances.”
  47. Crouzel, op.cit., 218.
  48. C.P. Bammel, “Adam in Origen,” Rowan Williams, ed. The Making of Orthodoxy: Essays in Honour of Henry Chadwick. Cambridge: CUP, 1989. p.64.
  49. Origen, On First Principles, Preface 5; (ANF, Vol. 4, p.240).
  50. Origen, On First Principles, Preface 10; (ANF, Vol. 4, p.241).
  51. Crouzel, op.cit., 208.
  52. Henry Chadwick, Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966. p.120; Crouzel, op.cit., p.207.
  53. Trigg, Origen, p.103; Eusebius, Against John of Jerusalem 7.18.21. Origen argued that there must have been a finite number of these rational intelligences as an infinite number would be incomprehensible to God - and this was unthinkable. Trigg, Origen, p.104.
  54. Origen, On First Principles, 1.3.8 & 1.4.1; (ANF, Vol. 4, pp.255-256). Crouzel, op.cit., p.210.
  55. Origen, On First Principles 1.8.1 (J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius: Documents Illustrating the History of the Church to AD 337. London: SPCK, 1987. p.201.); Crouzel, op.cit., 210; Trigg, op.cit., 105
  56. Trigg, Origen, p.105.
  57. W.H.C. Frend, Saints and Sinners in the Early Church. London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1985. p.79.
  58. Origen, On First Principles 1.6.2; (ANF, Vol. 4, p.260).
  59. Frend, Saints and Sinners, p.79.
  60. Torjesen, op.cit., p.147.
  61. Crouzel, op.cit., 208-209. Origen speaks of a preliminary divine judgement preceding birth, analogous to the last judgment, Origen, On First Principles 2.9.8; (ANF, Vol. 4, p.293). F.R. Tennant, The Sources of the Doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin. New York: Shocken Books, 1968. p.297.
  62. Origen, On First Principles 3.1.22 (ANF, Vol.4, p.328); Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989. p.831.
  63. Frend, Rise, p.377.
  64. Bammel, op.cit., 63.
  65. Ibid., 83.
  66. Origen, On Prayer 2.9.18.
  67. Origen, Song of Songs 2.
  68. Hanson, Event, p.272.
  69. Bammel, op.cit., p.83.
  70. Crouzel, op,cit., 209.
  71. Schaff, op.cit., Vol. 3, p.831.
  72. Chadwick, Early Christian Thought, 120-121.
  73. Origen, On First Principles, 1.7.1 - 2.2.2 (ANF, Vol. 4, pp.262-271); Commentary on Genesis, cited by Eusebius, Preparation, 7.22; Blower, 240.
  74. Trigg, Origen, p.110.
  75. Origen, Homily on Genesis, 2.1 (Heine, op,cit., 72).
  76. Origen, Homily on Genesis, 2.1 (Heine, op.cit., 72-73); cf. Philo, Question and Answers on Genesis 2.3 (C.D. Yonge, The Works of Philo. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1993. p.814).
  77. Cf. Philo, Q & A Gen. 2.5 (Yonge, op,cit., p.815).
  78. Origen, Homily on Genesis, 2.1 (Heine, op.cit., pp.72-73).
  79. Origen, Homily on Genesis, 2.1 (Heine, op.cit., p.75).
  80. Origen, On Homily on Genesis, 2.2 (Heine, op.cit., 76-77).
  81. Augustine, City of God, 15.27; St. Augustine, Concerning the City of God Against the Pagans, trans. Henry Bettenson, 1972. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984. p.646.
  82. George C. Berthold, "Celsus," Everett F. Ferguson, ed., Encyclopedia of Early Christianity. New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1990. pp.188-189.
  83. Dan G. McCartney, “Literal and Allegorical Interpretation in Origen’s Contra Celsum,” Westminster Theological Journal 48 (1986): 283.
  84. Origen, Against Celsus, 1.20 (ANF, Vol. 4, p.404).
  85. Origen, Against Celsus, 4.50 (ANF, Vol. 4, p.520).
  86. McCartney, op.cit., p.289.
  87. Origen, Against Celsus, 7.11 (ANF, Vol. 4, p.615).
  88. Origen, Against Celsus, 4.39; 6.51, 60 (ANF, Vol. 4, pp.515, 596, 601).
  89. Origen, Against Celsus, 6.49 (ANF, Vol. 4, p.596).
  90. Origen, Against Celsus, 6.50, 60 (ANF, Vol. 4, pp.596, 601).
  91. Origen, Against Celsus, 1.20 (ANF, Vol. 4, p.404).
  92. Origen, Against Celsus, 1.19-20 (ANF, Vol. 4, p.404).
  93. Homer, Odyssey, 11.305-320: “And after her I saw Iphimedeia, wife of Aloeus, who declared that she had lain with Poseidon. She bore two sons, but short of life were they, godlike Otus, and far-famed Ephialtes - men whom the earth, the giver of grain, reared as the tallest, and far the comliest, after the famous Orion. For at nine years they were nine cubit in breadth and in height nine fathoms. Yea, and they threatened to raise the din of furious war against the mortals in Olympus. They were fain to pile Ossa on Olympus, and Pelion, with its waving forests, on Ossa, that so heaven might be scaled. And this they would have accomplished, if they had reached the measure of manhood; but the son of Zeus, whom fair-haired Leto bore, slew them both before the down blossomed beneath their temples and covered their chins with a growth of beard.” Trans. A.T. Murray, Loeb Classical Library, Vol. 1. London: William Heinemann, 1969. p.409.
  94. Origen, Against Celsus, 4.21 (ANF, Vol. 4, p.505); cf. Origen, Against Celsus, 5.29 (ANF, Vol. 4, pp.555-556).
  95. Origen, Against Celsus, 4.41 (ANF, Vol. 4, p.516).
  96. Origen, Against Celsus, 4.13 (ANF, Vol. 4, p.502).
  97. 96 Jack P. Lewis, A Study of the Interpretation of Noah and the Flood in Jewish and Christian Literature. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1968. pp.171-172.
  98. Pliny the Elder, Natural History 10.86: “We have it from many authorities that a snake may be born from the spinal marrow of a human being.”; Ovid, Metamorphoses 25 (385-390); Aelian, On The Characteristics of Animals, 1.51 (Trans. A.L. Scholfield, Loeb Classical Library, Vol. 1. London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1971. p.71.)
  99. Ovid, Metamorphoses 25 (365-375); Aelian, Characteristics, 2.57 (Scholfield, p.155).
  100. Ovid, Metamorphoses 25 (360-370); Aelian, Characteristics, 1.28 (Scholfield, p.47).
  101. Origen, Against Celsus, 4.57 (ANF, Vol. 4, p.524).
  102. Origen, Against Celsus, 1.37 (ANF, Vol. 4, p.412); Robert M. Grant, Miracle and Natural Law in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Thought. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Co., 1952. p.108.
  103. Trigg, “Allegory,” pp.24-25.
  104. Origen cites Hermas’ Shepherd (Mandate 1 [26:1]) as support for this belief: “First of all, believe that God is one, who created all things and set them in order, and made out of what did not exist everything that is, and who contains all things, but is himself alone uncontained.” See On First Principles 1.2-3 (ANF, Vol. 4, pp.245-256); John 1.17; 32.16.
  105. Frend, Rise, pp.377-378
  106. Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 2.12 (NPNF, Vol. 7, p.60).
  107. Roger Forster & Paul Marston, Reason & Faith: Do Modern Science and Christian Faith Really Conflict? Eastbourne: Monarch Publications, 1989. pp.205-206.

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