Boundaries (Part I): Interpretation among the Heterodox

Peter 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

Boundaries (Part I): Interpretation among the Heterodox

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The interpretation of commonly held Scriptures was the principal arena in which Origen contested with his chief religious adversaries, heterodox Christians and the Jews. He often constructed an elaborate polemic against the exegetical practices of his two main rivals. This chapter focuses on his criticism of the Christian heterodox, particularly the Gnostics. Despite first appearances, Origen's critique of these adversaries was not fundamentally about procedural deficiencies (i.e., they were “literalists”). The chapter demonstrates how the boundaries he drew between his exegesis and that which flourished among the “Gnostics” were confined to a handful of theologically problematic readings about God and the freedom of the soul. These readings co-existed, as he saw it, with an uncritical encounter with Greco-Roman knowledge and a rejection of the church's rule of faith, neither of which ideal ecclesiastical interpreters were to emulate.

Keywords: Origen; literalists; heterodox; Gnostics; Jews; rule of faith

Chapter.  13868 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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