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308 The Egyptian Contribution to Christianity
the crude idea that the Eternal Word could come into direct
association with a human body. He insists that the Word re-
quired the mediation of a human soul in order to be incarnate
in a human body, nor is the incarnation to be understood as
though it imposed limitation upon the Word* Albeit uniquely
associated with the human soul and body of Jesus, the Word
remains in full possession of His divine character and functions.
A main difference of Origen's view from what became the
orthodox doctrine of Christ's person arises from his view that
all human souls, including the human soul of Jesus, pre-existed.
But whereas other human souls had in their pre-existent state
fallen from God, the soul of Jesus Christ had remained in full
union with God and the Word. This sinless human soul it was
which came forth from God and assumed from Mary a human
body, maintaining through all the sufferings and temptations
which befell him upon earth unbroken unity with the Eternal
Word.1 By the resurrection and the ascension into heaven
Christ's earthly body was, with his human soul, completely
divinized, with the consequence that a way was thereby opened
for all believers to share once more in the fellowship of God
which had once been theirs.
Origen's system leaves no place for the older conceptions of a
visible return of Christ to earth and of the establishment of the
Kingdom from the New Jerusalem. These conceptions had
been the prevailing belief in the second Christian century and
they were long to continue to be the prevailing belief in the
West; but for Origen the 'second coming' becomes another way
of stating the transition from the temporal to the eternal. Even
the Gospel of Jesus Christ as we know it is temporal, 'being
preached in a world and an age that are destined to pass away',
and it will yield place to the 'eternal Gospel'; as the Old Testament
Law was but 'a shadow of the good things to come' in Christ,
1 De Principiis, n. cvi. 3 (Engl. trans., G. W. Butterworth, pp. nofL);
In Evang. Joan. xx. 19.