Aron Reppmann on Origen: Castration, Rejection, and Redemption

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In this short coda to our main interview, we discuss two remaining, highly pressing problems in the scholarship on Origen: his polarised status within mainstream Christianities and the question of whether or not he chopped off his own dingus.

The latter problem, the so-called ‘sin’ or ‘folly of Origen’, we address first.

The prior problem, that of Origen’s status as an ‘indispensable Other’ in the Orthodox church in particular, makes up the second part of the interview. Reppmann presents Origen as, indeed, a central figure of Christian esotericism, whom the church can’t live with, but can’t live without.

Contemporary icon of ‘Origen Teaching the Saints’, Eileen McGuckin.

Other Works Cited in this Interview:

Primary:

  • Eusebius H.E. 6.8 ‘On What Origen Did Recklessly’: Whilst at this time Origen was performing the office of an elementary instructor at Alexandria, he also carried a deed into effect, which would seem, indeed, rather to proceed from a youthful understanding not yet matured ; at the same time, however, exhibiting the strongest proof of his faith and continence. For understanding this expression, “There are eunuchs who have made themselves such (who have acted the eunuch) for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,” [Matt. 19:12] in too literal and puerile a sense, and at the same time thinking that he would fulfil the words of our Saviour, whilst he also wished to preclude the unbelievers from all occasions of foul slander, it being necessary for him, young as he was, to converse on divine truth not only with men but with females also, he was led on to fulfil the words of our Saviour by his deeds, expecting that it would not be known to the most of his friends.’ Trans. Christian F. Cruse.

Secondary:

  • John Behr. Origen: On First Principles. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2019.