(c. 185–c. 254)
   Origen was born in Egypt. He was a student of Clement of alexandria and his father was martyred in the Severine persecutions of 202. He supervised the Catechitical School at Alexandria for twenty-eight years, during which time thousands came to hear his lectures. During the persecution of Caracella in 215, he travelled to Palestine and, on his second visit in 230, he was ordained by the Bishops of Caesarea and Aelia. Bishop demetrius of Alexandria, however, objected to this and exiled Origen from his diocese. The reasons for Demetrius’s stand are not clear. eusebius of caesarea insists that it was a result of jealousy. There may have been canonical objections; as a young man Origen may have castrated himself (taking literally the words of Jesus in matthew 19:12) and Demetrius may have objected to the ordination of a eunuch. In any event, Origen established an equally successful school in Caesarea. During the persecution of Decius in 250 he was imprisoned and tortured and he died soon afterwards. He was a highly prolific writer and his surviving works include the Hexpla (a comparison of six versions of the Old Testament), De Principiis (a systematic theology which dealt with God and his relationship with the universe, the place of humanity, good and evil and the interpretation of Scripture) and an important treatise on prayer. In this he argued that prayer is not a matter of asking for things, but of participating in the life of God. Much of what we know of his life comes from Eusebius’s history, from jerome (who accused him of subordinationism) and from his devoted follower, Gregory thaumaturgus. Although his teachings were admired by athanasius, basil and Gregory of nazianzus, a council at Alexandria in 400 condemned his ideas on the Trinity in De Principiis, and the controversy continued to smoulder until the sixth century when his teaching was condemned at the Council of Constantinople. Despite the ultimate rejection of his speculative theology, Origen is an exceptionally important figure in the history of the Church. In his biblical scholarship, he recognised that Scripture could be interpreted literally, morally and allegorically. His stress on the symbolic meaning of the text has been profoundly influential on the later history of biblical understanding.
   H. Crouzel, Origen (1989);
   R.P.C. Hanson, Allegory and Event: A Study of the Sources and Signifi- cance of Origen’s Interpretation of Scripture (1959).

Who’s Who in Christianity . 2014.

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