Was Origen a Pre-Pro-Nicene Theologian?

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21 Responses to Was Origen a Pre-Pro-Nicene Theologian?

  1. matushkamarychristine says:

    What a fascinating title!

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Dale says:

    This is how historical understanding dies – assuming that Origen must fit into late 4th c. categories – either the proto-“Arian” or the proto-Nicene. No doubt, Origen was a massive influence on all Easterners, on both sides, in the dispute c. 325-381. Eusebius at least as much as the Cappodocians.

    So what? Origen deserves to be read and understood in his own terms.


  3. Father Al,

    I look forward to reading this article.

    In the meantime, how did you acquire and format it like this in the blog post? I’ve never seen this done and I’d like to know how to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Taylor, WordPress has an agreement with Scribd that allows embedding. Pretty, neat, huh? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Is a plug in required or just drop in html?


        • It is indeed very cool!


        • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

          When you bring up a document on Scribd, you’ll see “embed” in the left column. Click on that and it will bring up code for embedding. Ignore that code. Look in the left column under “format” and click on WordPress. That will give you the WordPress coding. Copy and paste it into the new post (text not HTML faculty in the editor).

          By the way, the WordPress folks are trying to figure out why your comments are requiring constant approval. The problem seems to have them temporarily stumped.


  4. This is an excellent article. Thank you for finding it and sharing it.

    I was delighted to see that same passage cited from Peri Archon Book IV, 4, 1 where Origen ascribes to “heretics” belief that the Son is of a different ousia, that there was a time that the Son did not exist, and even subordination. Basically Origen here refutes Arianism before the advent of Arius!

    Origen is Nicene. Or rather, Nicene Orthodoxy is Origenist.

    The problem with Origen is chiefly with his doctrine of the pre-existence of minds, not his Trinitarianism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Father Gregory says:

      There might be another interesting article you to read Dr. Marshall. It is called “The preexistence of souls” also by Ilaria Ramelli. In it she, I do believe, establishes clearly that Origen did not teach the thing he is often accused off. It might be on scribd. If not I may have a copy t e-mal you if you like.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Really? In reading Peri Archon a few times, it seems rather obvious to me that Origen taught the pre-existence of minds.

        (I say “minds” or “noes” because Origen speculates that a “soul” or “psyche” is a cold or fallen “mind” or “nous”). When it is divinized by grace, the sinful “soul” can become noetic again and even a “spirit” or “pneuma.”)

        What is the article title by Ilaria Ramelli?


        • Father Gregory says:

          “Preexistence of Souls” ( https://www.scribd.com/mobile/document/236107426/Preexistence-of-Souls) turns out Fr. Kimel uploaded it! The idea has been gaining traction for a while now. In short: to Origen to be bodiless is a divine feature shared bybFathher, Son and Holy Ghost. Creatures are necessarily embodied, qua creatures. The fall is a hardening of the spiritual body, a change in its constitution, but not its creation. Edwards (“Origen against Plato”) points out that fragment 15 in Peri Archon is unique and the onlynplace where Origens famous doctrine shows up. The fragment is also a composition of Koetschau’s from several anti-Origenist sources and cannot be taken to be as Origen’s own composition.

          Anyway, cool stuff.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. John burnett says:

    Can you please just download it and store it as a page on your own site? I don’t want to subscribe to scribd and i have nothing i want to upload. And i can’t even access it because of the paywall, except by coming to this page.


    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      John, we had this conversation a year or two ago, and I’m surprised you are reiterating your request. I understand why you do not want to join Scribd. That’s your decision and not my problem, to put it bluntly. As I have told you before, I’d be happy to email you and any EO reader any article on Scribd to which I have linked. It’s also the case that many of these articles I found in multiple places on the net, as a quick Google search will reveal. And yes, sometimes I do upload documents to WordPress and link to them; but that means I cannot embed them in my blog, which is something I like to do from time to time. Sorry you find this all so inconvenient.

      The matter is closed. Fini. Concluded. (Pulling out thesaurus to find other synonyms.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Julian says:

    Fr Kimel,

    I have a notion about the Trinity. I’m curious if it makes any sense. It seems to me that inherent in the very concept of self-consciousness is the idea the the self has a self-image. To be self-conscious is to have a self that is able to be aware of itself. Being self-conscious, then, really implies that there are two selves. The “second” self is dependent upon the “first” self for its existence, yet the “first” self could not be a self-conscious being without the “second” self. Thus, if the “first” self has always existed, so has the “second” self. They are co-eternal, yet the “second” self is subordinate to the “first” self. We could call the “first” self “the Father,” and the “second” self “the Son.”

    Do these two selves have a relationship to each other? And if so, what would this relationship be? I haven’t worked it out completely, but it seems their relationship must be one of love. The first self is perfect. It’s self-image is perfect. Therefore, the relationship between them must be one of perfect love, since perfect goodness will always love perfect goodness. What I haven’t worked out is how this relationship must also be a person. If I could do that, I’d have the Trinity fully explained.

    Is this making any sense? Or I should I just go back to the drawing board?


  7. brian says:


    Your comments reminded me of a fine essay by David Bentley Hart, The Mirror of the Infinite.” Though the notion of the Trinity “fully explained” is perhaps slightly ambitious. Anyway, here is a nice quote from Hart’s article:

    . . . the constant pendulation between inner and outer that constitutes our identities is an ineffably distant analogy of that boundless bright diaphaneity of coinherence, in which the exteriority of relations and interiority of identity in God are one, each person wholly reflecting and containing and indwelling each of the others. Because for us personality is synthetic, composite, successive, and finite, we are related always in some sense “over against,” in a fragmentary way, and to be with others always involves for us a kind of death, the limit of our being. In God, though, given the simplicity of his essence, there is an absolute coincidence of relation and unity.

    Later in the essay Hart indicates the “specular” nature of Gregory of Nyssa’s metaphysics. It’s well worth a perusal.


  8. Julian says:

    Thanks, Brian. I couldn’t (quite literally) have said it myself.


  9. Ed says:

    Your idea is very similar to that of St. Augustine. His thought was that, since man is made in the image of God, there must be something in man that mirrors the Holy Trinity. He found it in the human intellect. First there is mind which, in Augustine’s view, mirrors the Father. The first act of mind is reflection upon itself, i.e., self-knowledge (as when we say, “I know my own mind”). This self-knowledge mirrors the Son Who is generated by the Father. Finally, Mind gives birth to Will, which is associated first and foremost with love of self (amor sui). This mirrors the Holy Spirit.
    Of course, we must always remember that any analogies we might conjure up to help understand the doctrine of the Holy Trinity are just that — analogies. We must always be careful not to take them too far.


  10. Julian says:

    Thanks, Ed. So far, two solid theologians have expressed similar ideas to my own. Seems like a good sign.


  11. Robert Woodman says:

    Fr. Kimel,

    Thanks for posting this. I struggled mightily through the Greek using Google Translate, and I think I got the sense of it, although Google Translate is a poor tool for this purpose, and the formatting of the article gave me fits.

    Was Origen vilified because he used non-literal word pictures and analogies to convey his ideas in an era when people wanted simple teaching that could be taken literally?




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