Levitical Paradigms for Christian Bishops: The Old Testament Influence on Origen of Alexandria (Bryan A. Stewart) 25
• B R Y A N A . S T E W A R T • Levitical Paradigms for Christian Bishops: The Old Testament Influence on Origen of Alexandria long with Augustine, Origen of Alexandria has been declared “the most immense, the most prolific, and the most personal genius who has illuminated the church of the first centuries.”1 These century-old words of Ferdinand Prat, echoed later by Jean Daniélou, remain an accurate assessment of the importance of Origen in the history of early Christianity. No other thinker of the first three centuries has produced such a depth of insight and such a vast command of his subject as Origen. While many scholars have demonstrated Origen’s thoroughly philosophical world of thought,2 the majority of his theological contribution comes in the unquestionably biblical expression of scriptural commentary and exposition. Prat again: “Subtle theologian, incomparable controversialist, patient critic and prolific orator, Origen is above all an exegete.”3 Origen knows his Bible, is shaped by it and draws his theology from it. He is, in his own words, a “man of the church (vir ecclesiasticus), living under the faith of Christ and placed in the midst of the church.”4 As a thinker both committed to the early Christian church, and one thoroughly immersed in the church’s sacred texts, Origen provides valuable insight into the way the stories and institutions of the Old Testament offered a significant and central shaping influence upon early Christian thought. This is no less true in regards to...
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