Behr, John, ed. and trans. Origen: On First Principles. 2 Volumes. Oxford Early Christian Texts. Oxford University Press, 2017.
Origen of Alexandria (c.185–c.254) is one of the most influential and controversial figures in the history of the church. He remains controversial even today. For example, many accuse Origen of believing in the pre-existence of souls, of being an allegorist (the implication being that he doesn’t understand the Bible), and of castrating himself.
Yet these accusations are either false or overstate the case. Origen did not castrate himself. Instead, this accusation probably comes from a false charge made against him from his opponents. He did read the Bible allegorically, but he also read the Bible literally. And his view of the pre-existence of souls is complicated, but Origen seems to root the existence of souls within God’s foreknowledge (or plan in his Wisdom).
Origen deserves a critical reception, but we must do better at critiquing him for the positions that he actually held. One way to do this is by learning more about his life and writings, especially On First Principles (the book that I am here reviewing). [Read more…] about Review of Origen: On First Principles Edited And Translated by John Behr