Origen's orthodox Christology

It is often said that there were unhelpful subordinationist elements in Origen's Christology that blossomed in later Arianism. In other words, Origen's Christological legacy was found, in part, among the heretics.

I have long thought that this view was likely based on misunderstanding Origen—that terms he used were later picked up and used differently by some in Christological debates, and those later uses were then read back into Origen.

Anyway, yesterday I read a fascinating article that maintained that far from having subordinationist tendencies, Origen was a strong anti-subordinationist and that a line can be traced from his views into Nicene orthodoxy. His heirs were not the Arians, but defenders of Nicene orthodoxy—Athanasius and the Cappadocians in particular.

Its author even argues that the key creedal term homoousios (of one being with ...)—which was used by Origen of the Son's relation with the Father—may possibly have proposed by Constantine at Nicea on the advice of Eusebius (who got it from Origen). This is, of course, speculation. But it is interesting speculation.

The article is

Ilaria L. E. Ramelli, "Origen's Anti-Subordinationism and Its Heritage in the Nicene and Cappadocian Lines." Vigiliae Christianae 64 (2010) 1–29

Here is the abstract:
Nyssen’s arguments in In Illud: Tunc et Ipse Filius entirely derive from Origen (probably also passing through Marcellus of Ancyra and Eusebius). Origen’s influence, theoretical and exegetical, is evident in every passage, from the argumentative pillars down to the tiniest details of exegesis. Gregory’s close dependence on Origen in his anti-subordinationism, within his polemic against ‘Arianism,’ confirms that Origen was not the forerunner of ‘Arianism,’ as he was depicted in the Origenistic controversy and is often still regarded to be, but the main inspirer of the Cappadocians, especially Nyssen, in what became Trinitarian orthodoxy. Origen inspired Marcellus, who was anti-Arian, Eusebius, who in fact was no ‘Arian,’ Athanasius, the champion of anti-Arianism, and the Cappadocians. I argue extensively that Origen’s Trinitarian heritage is found, not in Arianism, but in Nyssen, Athanasius, Eusebius, and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan line, on the basis of a painstaking analysis of his works (always with attention to their reliability in relation to Greek original, translations, and fragments) and of Pamphilus, Eusebius, Athanasius, and other revealing testimonies, pagan and Christian. The origin of the homoousios formula is also investigated in this connection. Further interesting insights will emerge concerning Eusebius and his first report of what exactly happened at Nicaea.


Richard said…
Hi Robin,
thought you might be interested in a new blog I'm setting up www.beforetheriot.com .
Hope all is well with you,
Richard Dormandy
Anonymous said…
This takes me back to first year Patristic Theology with Dr Waller arguing that Arius was a 'good chap'. I thought that Jesus said that the Father would send the paraclete (or Holy Spirit). Whatever the actual relationship or truth of the Trinity is, it remains an interesting topic to debate and discuss.

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