Conversion: Sanctified Study

Petro W. Martens

in Origen and Scripture

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199639557
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738135 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Conversion: Sanctified Study

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The previous chapter examined the status Origen assigned to the best of Greco-Roman learning: it ultimately enjoyed divine provenance. This chapter continues this focus, turning to Origen's assessment of those Christians who wished to use this learning as part of their decision to embark upon a life devoted to scriptural scholarship. This argument in what follows is that biblical interpretation for Origen was not simply one profession among others but was, arguably, the consummate way of life to which he exhorted his readers and congregations. Indeed, he elevated this way of life to the point that it became a hallmark of advanced Christianity since it plotted favorably onto two overlapping moral visions. First, those who pursued a life of scriptural study signaled their commitment to pursue God at the expense of an inordinate and competing attraction for their bodies and the corporeal universe. Second, scriptural scholarship was one of the privileged ways Christians could pursue rational activity: those who left behind an unquestioning acceptance of others’ interpretations of Scripture and decided to examine it carefully for themselves gestured their commitment to a life of reason (and not merely faith) within the church. In the end, interpreters who devoted themselves to the study of divine Scripture signaled their simultaneous devotion to God.

Keywords: Origen; faith; reason; advanced Christianity; moral vision

Chapter.  9209 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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