Homilies on Genesis and Exodus

By Origen; Ronald E. Heine | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

Origen stands out in the third century Church like an oak on the prairie. The Church was to live for centuries in the shade of his achievements, both instructed and divided by them. Few indeed were the churchmen in the following centuries, even among those who repudiated him, who did not owe some aspect of their theology or methodology to Origen. He was able to perceive and pursue the crucial questions that touched the nerve centers of faith and religious life in his day. And, as Henry Chadwick has pointed out, "some of his most characteristic themes . . . have remained to this day permanently troubling questions in the history of Christian thought."1

Origen's written works touched nearly every discipline of the life and thought of the Church. Robert Grant has called him "the most important Christian critic in antiquity."2 Henry Chadwick hailed the Contra Celsum as "the culmination of the whole apologetic movement of the second and third centuries."3 Joseph W. Trigg refers to Origen On First Principles as "the first sustained essay . . . that any Christian made at a comprehensive, philosophically informed presentation of the principal truths of the faith."4 His concern for and sustained work on the text of the Bible demonstrated in the Hexapla was

____________________
1
Early Christian Thought and the Classical Tradition ( Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1966), 66, (hereinafter cited as Chadwick, Early Christian Thought). The bibliography in Origen studies is enormous. See the monumental work by Henri Crouzel, "Bibliographie critique d'Origène", Instrumenta Patristica 8 ( La Haye: Nijhoff, 1971), hereinafter cited as Crouzel, Bibliographie.
2
The Earliest Lives of Jesus ( New York: Harper & Brothers, 1961), 50.
3
Origen: Contra Celsum ( Cambridge: At the University Press, 1965), ix, hereinafter cited as Chadwick, Origen.
4
A Decade of Origen Studies, Religious Studies Review 7 ( Jan., 1981): 23, hereinafter cited as "A Decade of Origen Studies."

-1-

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