Appeared in Winter 1993, Vol. XIX, No. 4

The progress in Origen scholarship that has taken place since the mid- point of this century has given contemporary theology some fresh insight into the problems the Church faced in its early centuries. Moreover, Origen’s writings themselves have proven to be a garden ripe with a plentiful harvest, perhaps containing even some forbidden fruits. As the first theologian to write what might be called a systematic account of the faith, Origen worked with a certain freedom that later theologians lacked. Of course this freedom did not mean that Origen’s theology was free of all influence, for modern Origen scholarship is quick to point out the non-Christian, Jewish and Greek influences upon his work.1 And, there was, of course, a double-edge to this freedom. Positively, it allowed for the integration of Greek ideas into Christianity to articulate the faith in a rational and spiritual manner. On the other hand, origen’s speculation sometimes took him into territories later viewed as heretical.2 Nevertheless, most scholars agree that Origen was a man of the church3 and his theology is full of insights that are valuable for systematic theology today.4

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