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Christology in context and conflict: the nature and purpose of Christ in Origen's polemical theology.

Ruskin, M.L.; (2006) Christology in context and conflict: the nature and purpose of Christ in Origen's polemical theology. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

In this thesis, I highlight the crucial importance of placing Origen's theology within the correct polemical context. It has been common scholarly practice to interpret the works of Origen within the context of the Nicene Controversy. This leads to distortion and confusion. The correct interpretation of Origen depends upon a detailed understanding of the intellectual milieu in which he wrote. Origen's Christology, indeed his entire theology, is primarily apologetic. He has a specific set of doctrinal opponents, whose attitudes and beliefs shape and dictate his own theology. In the first chapter of this thesis, we discuss how Origen's engagement with pagan opponents led him to adopt their central doctrine of the deus absconditus and how Christ takes on the guise of a Middle-Platonic second God. We also see how Origen's main opponents within the Church were the Monarchians. It was in response to their extreme unitarianism that Origen was obliged to develop his famous doctrine of the three distinct divine otooiai. In chapter 2, we consider the controversial fragment preserved by Rufinus (Apology 2.9), in which Origen apparently describes the Father and the Son as 6 ioouoio< . By a careful examination of the original polemical context in which Origen wrote, namely the Monarchian controversy, we utterly reject the authenticity of this fragment. Consubstantiality was the distinguishing doctrine of the Monarchians as such, Origen could never have endorsed it. Rufinus has skewed the original version to suit an entirely different polemical context, namely the Nicene controversy. In chapter 3, we examine Origen's doctrine of the earthly life of Jesus Christ. Once again we see how polemic and apologetic are the main spur to the development of Origen's theology. It is in response to widespread pagan ridicule that Origen ignores the Saviour's human nature and presents Christ as wholly divine. Moreover, Origen's explanation of the mechanics of the Incarnation - exactly how it was possible for God to become man - reveals a similar awareness of traditional philosophical objections.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Christology in context and conflict: the nature and purpose of Christ in Origen's polemical theology.
Identifier: PQ ETD:592347
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Greek and Latin
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1445034
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