Skip to main content

Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

The Egyptian Contribution to Christianity 301
formal censure on the ground of his teaching, but his own
writings testify to the uneasiness which he occasioned to some
of his hearers, and in the half-century which followed his death
his views encountered vigorous opposition from able writers.
Again at the close of the fourth century his doctrines gave rise
to a lively and unedifying controversy in the course of which
Origenism was anathematized by an evil Patriarch of Alex-
andria and by a Pope of Rome. Finally, in the sixth century,
the imperial champion of orthodoxy, Justinian, formally con-
demned many passages from his writings as heretical. The
stigma on his name lasted throughout the Middle Ages, though
books were written to defend the belief that in spite of the
anathemas of the Church Origen might yet be saved. It was
not till the Platonic revival of the Renaissance that his teaching
again received serious attention. To the Christian humanists,
notably Erasmus, Origen was a congenial spirit, but Luther re-
peats once more from an angle of his own the condemnation of
his name and memory.
This recurrent suspicion and even hatred of Origen's doctrine
is not, however, the whole story nor is it the most important
part of the story of Origen's influence in the Christian Church.
'There has been no truly great man in the Church', wrote
Charles Bigg, 'who has not loved Origen a little.51 If we do not
forget Luther we may probably accept what Bigg has said.
Certainly no one man did more than Origen to determine the
whole subsequent history of Greek theology, for, even when his
views were repudiated, his formulations of the problems re-
mained of decisive importance, and this was recognized by some
of the greatest of the Fathers. The great Athanasius, though
he makes no use of some of Origen's most characteristic thoughts,
and though he could not be satisfied with his Christology in its
entirety, yet spoke with reverence of his name. To the Cappa-
docian Fathers Origen was the master, and in token of their
1 Charles Bigg, Tbe Christian Platonists of Alexandria, p. 279.