Become Like the Angels
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
I would like first of all to thank Susan Wessel and Matthias Vorwerk of the Catholic University of America for their invaluable assistance in research, as well as for serving on the dissertation committee that was the start of this project. ...
None today can doubt that Origen of Alexandria (c. ad 185–254), a catechist, presbyter, and confessor of the ancient church, is a foundational figure in the establishment of early Christian theology. Yet, in part due to the posthumous condemnation of certain (supposed) propositions from his works at the Fifth Ecumenical Council in 553, his legacy has always remained somewhat ambiguous. ...
Part 1. Inner Moral Conflict: In Search of an Explanation
1. Soul Division
Before establishing Origen’s own teaching on the soul, it is necessary to explore Origen’s analysis of, and response to, the teaching of his Middle Platonic contemporaries, where these can be found. In the following three chapters, three distinct Middle Platonic formulations will be examined—soul division, embodiment, and dual souls ...
2. The Body and the Soul
Perhaps no question more occupied classical philosophers, especially the Middle Platonists, than the relationship between soul and body, and in particular the question of the effects of embodiment on the life of the soul. In his answer to this question, Origen moves deftly between the Platonic suspicion of matter and the Christian embrace of it, ...
3. Two Souls
The more conventional debates that have been addressed thus far—soul composition and the soul-body relationship—coexisted at all times with a potentially more radical doctrine of the soul, that of two distinct souls. At first it might seem odd even to raise this doctrine in connection with Origen, since the doctrine of two distinct souls is generally associated with Gnosticism, ...
Part 2. The Two Souls: An Analysis of Origen’s Explanation
4. Higher Soul
Having examined Origen’s understanding of the “two souls” doctrine and his conviction that a “hierarchical” relationship between a higher and lower soul could make sense of moral struggle, further study must be carried out as to Origen’s conception of the “higher soul.” After an examination of the “higher soul” in Plato and the Middle Platonic schools, ...
5. Lower Soul
With Origen’s rich and complex understanding of the “higher soul” (“mind” or “heart”) established, it remains to examine how he understands the “lower soul” that stands below it. To appreciate Origen’s contributions to this discussion, it is necessary to appreciate the problems bequeathed to him by his philosophical predecessors, ...
Part 3. History of the Two Souls: An Examination of Their Relationship
6. Preexistence of Souls
After examination of Origen’s view of the “higher soul” and “lower soul,” in relation to his philosophical contemporaries and predecessors, it remains to outline a cosmic “history” of the soul, to trace its role in Origen’s grand vision of salvation history. This history begins for Origen not in this life but in a previous, preexistent state. ...
7. Descent of Souls
Having noted Origen’s crucial distinction between the Triune God and his creation, and the importance of this distinction for his belief in preexistent souls, we now explore Origen’s belief in the “descent” of these souls into their present state. Origen’s belief on this topic, however, must be viewed against the background of Plato’s dialogues ...
8. Destiny of Souls
A treatment of Origen’s theology of the soul must culminate in Origen’s view of the soul’s grand destiny, that to which his entire anthropology is ordered. Origen’s eschatological views were not without relation to his Middle Platonic predecessors—for example, on the soul’s immortality and goal of “likeness to God”; ...
The first three chapters treated Origen’s responses to Middle Platonic speculations on the soul—the questions regarding its division, its relation to the body, and whether or not one could speak of “two souls” in Origen’s theology. Chapter 1 concluded that Origen rejects tripartite soul division, but does seem to allow for some modified form of soul bipartition, ...
Appendix. The Influence of Origen’s Anthropology on the Greek Patristic Tradition
Page Count: 301
Publication Year: 2012
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