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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Origen

(Origines Adamantius) (c.185- c.254). Influential theologian of the early Greek church. Precise date and place of his birth are not known, but he was probably born in Alexandria. According to some authorities his parents were pagan and according to others, Christian. Much of the information about his early life is probably incorrect or at least not subject to verification and may be discounted. This qualification is important since much of the documentation was written by those hostile to his teachings. Matters are complicated by the distinct possibility that there were two persons named Origen who lived about the same time. We are on firmer ground when we consider Origen’s writings which were copious.

While still at Alexandria Origen wrote his lost Strommateis (Miscellanies), Peri Anastaseos (On the Resurrection) and De Principiis (On First Principles). Although he was a talented theological scholar, Origen was not at first ordained and he incurred the enmity of Demetrius, the bishop of Alexandria when he preached at Caesarea Palestinae. Origen was ordained about 230 and Demetrius was unhappy about this and arranged a synodical condemnation.

Origen was indefatigable in his efforts to defend the Church against pagan attacks and it is therefore ironic that some charges against him after his death involved teachings that he did not entertain, but were embraced by later groups calling themselves Origenists. Nevertheless, some of his philosophy was held to be contrary to the received dogma; typical of such were: denying the existence of hell, the possibility of preexistent souls, world cycles, and making the Son (Jesus) inferior to the Father. There is no doubt that Origen held to the belief that all the universe is alive and possessed of soul.

Helena Blavatsky often quotes from Origen’s writings in her The Secret Doctrine and, as an instance, uses him to substantiate her claim that the Holy Bible is symbolic in content (CW XIV:37).

P.S.H.

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