Origen is the first major figure in the Christian era who wrote—in Greek—with full philosophical training and with a full sympathy toward philosophical method. Saint Augustine is sometimes given this credit, but Origen preceded him, and Augustine owes much to Origen. In any inquiry into the sources of later philosophy and theology, Origen must be given wide attention. The infusion of Greek philosophical skill into theology gave Christian thought its unusual theoretical side and allowed it to develop close relationships with pagan philosophical interests.
Therefore, Origen’s On First Principles subjected him to charges of heresy. His strong philosophical interests and training most likely led to a doctrine that did not conform to established ideas on every point. However, because the original Greek text of the work has, for the most part, been lost, these charges are difficult to establish. The elaborated Latin translation, De Principiis, by Rufinus contains indications that Origen’s work was considerably altered in its rendering, and modern scholarship tends to find Origen not so extreme on some points as has sometimes been charged. Origen and Plotinus had the same philosophical teacher, Ammonius Saccas, who is sometimes said to be the founder of Neoplatonism.
Origen begins by establishing the words and teachings of Christ as a central norm, and his fame as a biblical interpreter is widespread. To develop theological...
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