Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Origen

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Origen

Article excerpt

Origen. By Joseph W Trigg. The Early Church Fathers. London & New York: Routledge, 1998. x + 292 pp. $75.00 (cloth).

This is the third volume in the series titled "The Early Church Fathers," which aims to present introductions to the lives and work of prominent Christian writers of late antiquity together with translations of significant selections from their works. Origen-the Alexandrian scholar, apologist, and confessor whose active life spanned roughly the first half of the third century-is a towering figure in the history of Christian thought and doctrine, not only because of his contributions to the Church's trinitarian and Christological teaching, or because of his response to the challenge of Christian gnosticism, but above all for his careful, reflective, and extensive exegeses of the Scriptures in the form both of homilies and of lengthy, exact and exacting commentaries. To the work of this thinker, Dr. Trigg here presents a useful, and indeed a distinguished, introduction, and one which goes his earlier book-Origen: The Bible and Philosophy in the Early Church (1983)-one better.

Origen has been read, studied, and puzzled over in Christian circles for a very long time-indeed from the time of Methodius of Olympus in the third century and the Cappadocian Fathers in the fourth. Jerome pored over his commentaries and learned more from them than he dared or desired in the end to admit. Augustine eagerly sought Latin translations of them. Origen's opinions fill medieval Byzantine catenas and inform medieval Latin exegesis. In the Reformation and modern eras, his writings have created as much controversy as they did in that of the Emperor Justinian, who had labored enthusiastically to contrive his condemnation as a heretic in 553. Only since the time of the Second World War, however, has modern scholarship attended seriously to Origen the exegete and achieved thereby a fresh perspective on his exposition-and speculative development-of the Church's basic catechetical teaching in his treatise On First Principles. …

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