Egyptian Contribution to Christianity 307
world which Origen believed himself to have discovered beneath
the text of Holy Scripture ?
From Plato and the Platonists Origen had learnt that ulti-
mate being is immaterial. The physical world in which we live
our span of earthly life is not ultimate; it has had a beginning
and at long last, when God 'shall be all in all', it will end. The
invisible world of spirit is not thus temporally conditioned. It
exists eternally in dependence upon the one true God, who is
the Father. But the divine essence is not restricted to the
Father (o #eos), God supreme. Eternally God generates or
creates His Word or Son, who, though not in the full sense God
(o 0€os"), is yet truly divine (0€cfc), a sharer in the divine oucria.1
• So also the Spirit, standing next in rank, is, like the Son, a being
distinct from God Himself, yet also, like the Son again, truly
divine. Through the action of His Word God is eternally the
creative source of a limited number of free minds or spirits.
These spirits do not stand in the same direct relation with God
as the Son, yet they may be spoken of as #€ot 'gods'. The
visible world is the consequence of a fall of certain of these
dependent spirits who misused their freedom and fell away from
fellowship with God, the author of then* being. God created
the world in order to provide a means whereby fallen spirits
might through a long process of education and purification
eventually be won back into the fellowship which they had
forfeited. Even devils and the prince of the devils, who have
fallen deeper than man, may one day share in the redemption.
The agent in this process of redemptive education, as in crea-
tion, is the Divine Word. The supreme revelation of the Divine
Word was through the Incarnation in Jesus Christ.
In his doctrine of the Incarnation, as in other respects,
Origen was a pioneer and anticipated the guiding thoughts of
later doctrinal development, though here, too, his positions were
not taken over in their entirety. Origen guards carefully against
1 See Origen, In Evang.Joannis^ ii. 2, 3 (ed. A. E. Brooke, vol. i, pp. 58 £L).