Origen, son of the martyr Leonides, oldest in a family of seven children was born probably at Alexandria 184/85 and died probably in Tyre 253/54 after imprisonment and torture during the Decian persecution. Surnamed “man of steel,” Origen was an outstanding theologian of the early Greek-speaking Church, a man of the virtue and a genius with a prodigious capacity for work, an excellent teacher to whose lectures students flocked “and did not give him time to breathe for one bath of pupils after another kept frequenting from morn till night his lecture-room” (Eusebius, H.E. 6, 15).
As an author Origen surpasses all the writers of the Early Church in literary output. A list compiled by Eusebius, now unfortunately lost, credited Origen with some 2,000 books. Even a far shorter list known to St. Jerome and mentioned by him in his Letter To Paula giving the number of 786 works is still impressive. Jerome then goes on to add some reflections. “Do you see the Greeks and Latins outstripped by the work of one man? Who could ever read all that he wrote? What reward did he receive for this exertion? He is condemned by bishop Demetrius; except for the bishops of Palestine, Arabia, Phoenicia and Achaia the world concurs in his condemnation. Rome itself convokes an assembly against this man not because of novelty of teachings, not because of heresy as now mad dogs pretend against him, but because they could not bear the fame of his eloquence and learning and were considered speechless when he spoke.”
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For more of the church fathers, check out the Fathers of the Church: Fathers of the Ante-Nicene Era (23 vols.).
“And, therefore, that first heaven indeed, which we said is spiritual, is our mind, which is also itself spirit, that is, our spiritual man which sees and perceives God. But that corporeal heaven, which is called the firmament, is our outer man which looks at things in a corporeal way.” (Page 49)
“Scripture is not speaking here of any temporal beginning,4 but it says that the heaven and the earth and all things which were made were made ‘in the beginning,’ that is, in the Savior.” (Page 47)
“‘made heaven and earth,’ and said, ‘let there be light’ and ‘divided between the light and the darkness and called the light day and the darkness night,’ and the text said that ‘there was evening and there was morning,’ it did not say: ‘the first day,’ but said, ‘one day.’ It is because there was not yet time before the world existed.11 But time begins to exist with the following days. For the second day and the third and fourth and all the rest begin to designate time.” (Page 48)
“But first it is said to him that he ought to offer his son, and then he is ordered to go ‘into the high land’ and ascend the mountain. For what reason? That while he is walking, while he is making the journey, throughout the whole trip he might be torn to pieces with his thoughts, that hence he might be tormented by the oppressing command, hence he might be tormented by the struggling true affection for his only son. For this reason, therefore, likewise the journey and furthermore the ascent of the mountain is enjoined, that in all these things there might be a period of struggle between affection and faith, love of God and love of the flesh, the charm of things present and the expectation of things future.” (Page 139)
Origen (c. 182–251) was a Christian scholar and theologian and one of the most distinguished of the fathers of the early Christian Church. He is thought to have been born at Alexandria, and died at Caesarea. His writings are important as the first serious intellectual attempt to describe Christianity.