A celebrated ecclesiastical writer. When his father Leonides was martyred, Origen, then a youth, had to support his family by teaching. He succeeded Saint Clement of Alexandria as head of the catechetical school of Alexandria, which under him became a nursery of confessors and martyrs. About the year 215 he visited Palestine, where he was invited to preach, though still a layman. Later, while journeying to Greece, he was ordained at Caesarea; Demetrius, Bishop of Alexandria, was displeased at this and Origen, forced to quit the catechetical school in 231, settled at Caesarea in Palestine and resumed his teaching. During the Maximinian persecution he visited Cappadocia, and on his return completed his scriptural commentaries. In the persecutions of Decius he was imprisoned and tortured and died some years later, probably from the effect of his sufferings.
Origen was an extremely fertile writer, but many of his works have perished, while others exist only in translations. His commentaries on Matthew, John, the Canticle of Canticles, and the Epistle to the Romans are in part extant. He popularized the homily, being called its father, more than 20 of his discourses being preserved in Greek and 118 in Latin; in addition we have his brilliant polemic Contra Celsum and De principiis, dealing with the Trinity, creation, free-will, and scriptural inspiration and interpretation. His masterpiece was the Hexapla, an edition of the Old Testament, with the Hebrew and Greek texts in parallel columns, which except for some fragments of the Psalms (discovered in 1896 and 1900) has perished. It was translated into Syriac and fortunately large portions of this Syro-Hexaplar text are extant. In this, the most colossal critical production of antiquity, estimated to have filled at least 6000 pages, he attempted to show the relationship of the Septuagint to the Hebrew text and the Greek versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. Origen exerted a very great influence during his lifetime and after death, not only in the East but; among the Latins, but certain doctrines referred to under the name of Origenism, rightly or wrongly attributed to him, gave rise later to several sharp controversies. He laid down the proper doctrine regarding the Church and the rule of Faith; being human he may have made mistakes but, with his essentially Catholic disposition of mind, he does not merit to be ranked among the promoters of heresy. He has been accused of admitting only an allegorical interpretation of Scripture too freely, of Subordinationism, of teaching the eternity of creation, a necessary connection between created spirits and matters, and the final universality of redemption. It must be remembered, however, that he was the first to wrestle with many of the intricate problems involved therein, before theological language had acquired precision; that many of his assertions were based on hypotheses, which he at other times rejects or leaves open to discussion. The opinion of most modern scholars is that it is not proved that he incurred the anathema of the Church at the Fifth General Council in 553.
- 253 in Tyre, Phoenicia
- “Origen”. . Saints.SQPN.com. 15 August 2010. Web. 11 March 2014. <http://saints.sqpn.com/origen/>