Origen is the most important theologian of the Church before Nicaea, and one of the most influential Christian writers of all time. Unlike Justin Martyr, Origen did not come to Christianity after a long search through the philosophical schools; he was born into a Christian family. Unlike Irenaeus of Lyons, Origen did not devote his main energies to refuting error, but to explaining God's Word. Unlike Clement of Alexandria-- who may have been his teacher--Origen saw no point in trying to make Christianity more palatable to the sophisticated and the curious; a determined ascetic, he expected his hearers to measure up to the highest Christian ideals.
Origen was, heart and soul, a man of the Bible. His mind was acute, his memory tenacious, his curiosity inexhaustible, and his patience unbreakable. He was a man who was most content when he could study, analyze, and comment upon a written text. All but one or two of his works are, in one form or another, commentaries on texts. Origen even helped shape the Bible. Five or six of the shorter books of the New Testament are in the canon largely because fourth-century writers appealed to Origen's authority. In and from his study of the Bible, Origen developed a theological system, perhaps the first in the history of Christianity. His system was intellectually____________________