Oxford Studies in Origen of Alexandria (2 vols.)

Oxford University Press, 2011–2012


These two scholarly volumes analyze the life and legacy of Origen of Alexandria. Peter W. Martens Origen and Scripture thoroughly studies Origen’s exegetical method, modeling a new approach to studying the history of biblical interpretation. Martens suggests Origen’s exegetical model as a refreshing counterpoint to contemporary methods. And Demetrios S. Katos Palladius of Helenopolis examines the historian from Galatia and how his thought was influenced by Origen, providing a new reading of Palladius’ works, including his Lausiac History. These volumes are clearly written, and are accessible to readers without prior knowledge of the work and history of Origen or Palladius.

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Key Features

  • Analyzes the life and legacy of Origen of Alexandria
  • Examines the influence of Origen on Palladius of Helenopolis
  • Presents a new Origenist model for studying the history of biblical interpretation

Product Details

Individual Titles

Origen and Scripture: The Contours of the Exegetical Life

  • Author: Peter W. Martens
  • Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Pages: 352

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Scriptural interpretation was an important form of scholarship for Christians in late antiquity. For no one does this claim ring more true than Origen of Alexandria (185–254), one of the most prolific scholars of Scripture in early Christianity. This book examines his approach to the Bible through a biographical lens: the focus is on his account of the scriptural interpreter, the animating center of the exegetical enterprise. In pursuing this largely neglected line of inquiry, the book discloses the contours of Origen’s sweeping vision of scriptural exegesis as a way of life. For him, ideal interpreters were far more than philologists steeped in the skills conveyed by Greco-Roman education. Their profile also included a commitment to Christianity from which they gathered a spectrum of loyalties, guidelines, dispositions, relationships, and doctrines that tangibly shaped how they practiced and thought about their biblical scholarship. This study explores the many ways in which Origen thought ideal scriptural interpreters (himself included) embarked upon a way of life, indeed a way of salvation, culminating in the everlasting contemplation of God. This new and integrative thesis takes seriously how the discipline of scriptural interpretation was envisioned by one of its pioneering and most influential practitioners.

This text is a fresh and edifying reading of Origen’s extant literary corpus. Martens’ deep reading in Origen is evidenced on every page, and his exemplary interaction with the secondary literature recommends this monograph to every student of Origen.

Journal of Theological Studies

Peter W. Martens is assistant professor of theological studies at Saint Louis University.

Palladius of Helenopolis: The Origenist Advocate

  • Author: Demetrios S. Katos
  • Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Pages: 288

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

This book examines the life, work, and thought of Palladius of Helenopolis (362–420 BC), an important witness of late antique Christianity and author of the Dialogue on the Life of St. John Chrysostom and the Lausiac History. These compositions provide rich information concerning the downfall of John Chrysostom, the Origenist controversy, and many notable personalities such as John Chrysostom, Theophilus of Alexandria, Jerome, Evagrius of Pontus, and Melania the Elder. The book examines Palladius’ role as an advocate on behalf of John Chrysostom, and it employs late antique theories of judicial rhetoric and argumentation (issue or stasis theory), the significance of which is only now becoming apparent to late antique scholars, and elicits new insights from the Dialogue regarding the controversy that resulted in the death of John Chrysostom. The book also demonstrates that the Lausiac History promoted to the imperial court of Pulcheria the ascetic practices of his ascetic colleagues, whom Jerome had recently decried as Origenists. The book delineates Palladius’ understanding of asceticism, Scripture, contemplation, prayer, human freedom, and theodicy to demonstrate a dependence upon the spirituality of his mentor Evagrius of Pontus, and upon the broader theological legacy of Origen. What emerges from these pages is the self-portrait, rather than a polemicist’s caricature, of an Origenist at the turn of the fifth-century, who has profoundly influenced Christian history, hagiography, and piety for nearly 1,600 years.

This book is undoubtedly to be welcomed for turning the spotlight on Palladius, a man who was not afraid to throw himself into the midst of the Origenist whirlpool.

Journal of Theological Studies

Demetrios S. Katos is associate professor of religious studies at Hellenic College.


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