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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

The Egyptian Contribution to Christianity 309
so even the first coming of Christ was a shadow to be fulfilled
by the glory of 'the second coming'. Origen further enter-
tained the speculation that the passion of Jesus Christ is destined
to be repeated in other ages and in other worlds. This was one
of the speculations which were to cause offence in after days.
*If there are "spiritual hosts of wickedness",' he wrote, 'in the
heavenly places, consider whether, just as we are not ashamed
to confess that he was crucified here in order to destroy those
whom he destroyed through his suffering, so we should not
fear to allow that a similar event also happens there and will
happen in the ages to come until the end of the whole world/1
Such were the leading features of the audacious and compre-
hensive scheme of doctrine which Origen discovered in the
Scriptures. Not without cause did St. Jerome in his younger
days speak of Origen as the greatest teacher of the Church since
the Apostles.
It is no accident that this great role in Christian history fell
to a native of Alexandria with a half-Egyptian name.2 In the
work of Origen religious forces which had been long at work
in the Egyptian capital reached their widest extent and their
maturest expression. To appreciate Origen's position we must
look backward, first at the earlier history of Christianity in
Alexandria and then, behind that, at Alexandrine Judaism.
It is a very remarkable circumstance that Egypt played so
little part in the first expansion of Christianity. Antioch, not
Alexandria, was the channel by which the new faith penetrated
the Graeco-Roman world. In the Acts of the Apostles we hear
of Egyptian Jews at Pentecost; we hear also in connexion with
the controversy which resulted in the death of the first martyr
Stephen (Acts vi) of a synagogue at Jerusalem which in-
cluded Alexandrines. Otherwise there is but one reference to
1  Fragment from the De Principals preserved in Greek by Justinian,
Ep. ad Mennam. See G. W. Butterworth, op. cit., p. 310.
2  The first half of the name is that of the Egyptian god Horns.