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History of Dogma - Volume II
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THE DOCTRINE OF THE FALL AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. All created spirits must develop. When they have done so, they attain perfection and make way for new dispensations and worlds.768768Phot. Biblioth. 109: Κλήμης πολλοὺς πρὸ τοῦ Ἀδὰμ κόσμους τερατεύεται. This cannot be verified from the Strom. Orig., περὶ ἀρχῶν II. 3. In the exercise of their freedom, however, disobedience, laxity, laziness, and failure make their appearance among them in an endless multiplicity of ways.769769Περὶ ἀρχῶν I. 5 and the whole 3rd Book. The Fall is something that happened before time began. The disciplining and purifying of these spirits was the purpose for which the material world was created by God.770770The assumption of uncreated matter was decidedly rejected by Origen (περὶ ἀρχῶν II. 1, 2). On the other hand Clement is said to have taught it in the Hypotyposes (Phot., l.c.: ὕλην ἄχρονον δοξάζει); this cannot be noticed in the Strom.; in fact in VI. 16. 147 he vigorously contested the view of the uncreatedness of the world. He emphasised the agreement between Plato and Moses in the doctrine of creation (Strom. II. 16. 74 has nothing to do with this). According to Origen, matter has no qualities and may assume the most diverse peculiarities (see, e.g., c. Cels. III. 41). It is therefore a place of purification, ruled and harmoniously arranged by God’s wisdom.771771This conception has given occasion to compare Origen’s system with Buddhism. Bigg. (p. 193) has very beautifully said: “Creation, as the word is commonly understood, was in Origen’s views not the beginning, but an intermediate phase in human history. Æons rolled away before this world was made; æons upon æons, days, weeks, months and years, sabbatical years, jubilee years of æons will run their course, before the end is attained. The one fixed point in this gigantic drama is the end, for this alone has been clearly revealed,” “God shall be all in all.” Bigg also rightly points out that Rom. VIII. and 1 Cor. XV. were for Origen the key to the solution of the problems presented by creation. Each member of the world of spirits has received a different kind of material nature in proportion to his degree of removal from the Creator. The highest spirits, who have virtually held fast by that which is good, though they too stand in need of restitution, guide the world, are servants of God (ἄγγελοι), and have bodies of an exceedingly subtle kind in the form of a globe (stars). The spirits that have fallen very deeply (the spirits of men) are banished into material bodies. Those that have altogether turned against God have received very dark bodies, indescribably ugly, though not visible. Men therefore are placed between the angels and demons, both of whom try to influence them. The moral struggle that man has to undergo within himself is made harder by the demons, but lightened by the angels,772772The popular idea of demons and angels was employed by Origen in the most comprehensive way, and dominates his whole view of the present course of the world. περὶ ἀρχῶν III. 2 and numerous passages in the Commentaries and Homilies, in which he approves the kindred views of the Greeks as well as of Hermas and Barnabas. The spirits ascend and descend; each man has his guardian spirit, and the superior spirits support the inferior (περὶ ἀρχῶν I. 6). Accordingly they are also to be reverenced (θεραπεύεσθαι); yet such reverence as belongs to a Gabriel, a Michael, etc., is far different from the adoration of God (c. Cels. VIII. 13). for these spiritual powers are at all times and places acting both upon the physical and the spiritual world. But everything is subject to the permission of the divine goodness and finally also to the guidance of divine providence, though the latter has created for itself a limit in freedom.773773Clement wrote a special work περὶ προνοίας (see Zahn, Forschungen III., p. 39 ff.), and treated at length of προνοία in the Strom.; see Orig. περὶ ἀρχῶν III. 1; de orat. 6 etc. Evil is also subject to divine guidance; see Clem., Strom. I. 17. 8187: IV. 12. 86 sq. Orig. Hom. in Num. XIV., Lomm. X., p. 163: “Nihil otiosum, nihil inane est apud deum, quia sive bono proposito hominis utitur ad bona sive malo ad necessaria.” Here and there, however, Origen has qualified the belief in Providence, after the genuine fashion of antiquity (see c. Cels. IV. 74). Evil, however, and it is in this idea that Origen’s great optimism consists, cannot conquer in the end. As it is nothing eternal, so also it is at bottom nothing real; it is “nonexistent” (οὐκ ὄν) and “unreal” (ἀνυπόστατον).774774Περὶ ἀρχῶν II. 9. 2: “Recedere a bono, non aliud est quam effici in malo. Ceterum namque est, malum esse bono carere. Ex quo accidit, ut in quanta mensura quis devolveretur a bono, in tantam mensuram malitiæ deveniret.” In the passage in Johann. II. 7, Lomm. I., p. 115, we find a closely reasoned exposition of evil as ἀνυπόστατον and an argument to the effect that τὰ πονηρά are — μὴ ὄντα. For this very reason the estrangement of the spirits from God must finally cease; even the devil, who, as far as his being is concerned, resulted from God’s will, cannot always remain a devil. The spirits must return to God, and this moment is also the end of the material world, which is merely an intermediate phase.775775Περὶ ἀρχῶν I. 5. 3: III. 6. The devil is the chief of the apostate angels (c. Cels. IV. 65). As a reasonable being he is a creature of God l.c., and in Joh. II. 7, Lomm., l.c.).

According to this conception the doctrine of man, who in Origen’s view is no longer the sole aim of creation to the same extent as he is with the other Fathers,776776Origen defended the teleology culminating in man against Celsus’ attacks on it; but his assumption that the spirits of men are only a part of the universal spirit world is, as a matter of fact, quite akin to Celsus’ view. If we consider the plan of the work περὶ ἀρχῶν we easily see that to Origen humanity was merely an element in the cosmos. assumes the following form: The essence of man is formed by the reasonable soul, which has fallen from the world above. This is united with the body by means of the animal soul. Origen thus believes in a threefold nature of man. He does so in the first place, because Plato holds this theory, and Origen always embraced the most complicated view in matters of tradition, and secondly, because the rational soul can never in itself be the principle of action opposed to God, and yet something relatively spiritual must be cited as the cause of this action. It is true that we also find in Origen the view that the spirit in man has itself been cooled down into a soul, has been, as it were, transformed into a soul; but there is necessarily an ambiguity here, because on the one hand the spirit of man is said to have chosen a course opposed to God, and, on the other, that which is rational and free in man must be shown to be something remaining intact.777777The doctrine of man’s threefold constitution is also found in Clement. See Pædag. III. 1. 1; Strom V. 14. 94: VI. 16. 134. (quite in the manner of Plato). Origen, who has given evidence of it in all his main writings, sometimes calls the rational part spirit, sometimes ψυχὴ λογική, and at other times distinguishes two parts in the one soul. Of course he also professes to derive his psychology from the Holy Scriptures. The chief peculiarity of his speculation consists in his assumption that the human spirit, as a fallen one, became as it were a soul, and can develop from that condition partly into a spirit as before and partly into the flesh (see περὶ ἀρχῶν III. 4. 1 sq.: II. 8. 1-5). By his doctrine of the preëxistence of souls Origen excluded both the creation and traducian hypotheses of the origin of the soul. Man’s struggle consists in the endeavour of the two factors forming his constitution to gain control of his sphere of action. If man conquers in this struggle he attains likeness to God; the image of God he bears beyond danger of loss in his indestructible, rational, and therefore immortal spirit.778778Clement (see Strom. II. 22. 131) gives the following as the opinion of some Christian teachers: τὸ μὲν κατ᾽ εἰκόνα εὐθέως κατὰ τὴν γένεσιν εἰληφέναι τὸν ἄνθρωπον, τὸ καθ᾽ ὁμοίωσιν δὲ ὕστερον κατὰ τὴν πελείωσιν μέλλειν ἀπολαμβάνειν, Orig. c. Cels. IV. 30: ἐποίησε δ᾽ὁ Θεὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον κατ᾽ εἰκόνα Θεοῦ, ἀλλ᾽ οὐχὶ καθ᾽ ὁμοίωσιν ἤδη. Victory, however, denotes nothing else than the subjugation of the instincts and passions.779779This follows from the fundamental psychological view and is frequently emphasised. One must attain the σωφορσύνη. No doubt God affords help in the struggle, for nothing good is without God,780780This is emphasised throughout. The goodness of God is shown first in his having given the creature reason and freedom, and secondly in acts of assistance, which, however, do not endanger freedom. Clem., Strom. VI. 12. 96: ἡμᾶς ἐξ ἡμῶν αὐτῶν βούλεται σώζεσθαι. but in such a way as not to interfere with freedom. According to this conception sin is a matter of necessity in the case of fallen spirits; all men are met with as sinners and are so, for they were already sinners.781781See above, p. 344, and p. 361, note 5. Origen continually emphasised the universality of sin in the strongest expressions: c. Cels. III. 61-66 VII. 50; Clem., Pæd. III. 12. 93: τὸ ἐξαμαρτάνειν πᾶσιν ἔμφυτον. Sin is rooted in the whole earthly condition of men; it is the weakness and error of the spirit parted from its origin.782782See Clem., Strom. VII. 16. 101: μυρίων γοῦν ὄντων κατ᾽ ἀριθμὸν ἅ πράσσουσιν ἄνθρωποι σχεδὸν δύο εἰσὶν ἀρχαὶ πάσης ἁμαρτίας, ἄγνοια καὶ ἀσθένεια, ἄμφω δὲ ἐφ᾽ ἡμῖν, τῶν μήτε ἐθελόντων μανθάνειν μήτε αὖ τῆς ἐπιθυμίας κρατεῖν. Two remedies correspond to this (102): ἡ γνῶσις τε καὶ ἡ τῆς ἐκ τῶν γραφῶν μαρτυρίας ἐναργὴς ἀπόδειξις and ἡ κατὰ λὸγον ἄσκησις ἐκ πίστεώς τε καὶ φόβου παιδαγωγουμένη, or otherwise expressed: ἡ θεωρία ἡ ἐπιστημονική and ἡ πρᾶξις, which lead to perfect love. The idea of freedom, indeed, is supposed to be a feature which always preserves the guilty character of sin; but in truth it becomes a mere appearance783783Freedom is not prejudiced by the idea of election that is found here and there, for this idea is not worked out. In Clem., Strom. VI. 9. 76, it is said of the friend of God, the true Gnostic, that God has destined (προώρισεν) him to sonship before the foundation of the world. See VII. 17. 107. it does not avail against the constitution of man and the sinful habit propagated in human society.784784C. Cels. III. 69. All must be sinners at first,785785It is both true that men have the same freedom as Adam and that they have the same evil instincts. Moreover, Origen conceived the story of Adam symbolically. See c. Cels. IV. 40; περὶ ἀρχῶν IV. 16; in Levit. hom. VI. 2. In his later writings, after he had met with the practice of child baptism in Cæsarea and prevailed on himself to regard it as apostolic, he also assumed the existence of a sort of hereditary sin orginating with Adam, and added it to his idea of the preëxisting Fall. Like Augustine after him, he also supposed that there was an inherent pollution in sexual union; see in Rom. V. 9: VII. 4; in Lev. hom. VIII. 3; in Num. hom. 2 (Bigg, p. 202 f.). for that is as much their destiny as is the doom of death which is a necessary consequence of man’s material nature.786786Nevertheless Origen assumes that some souls are invested with flesh, not for their own sins, but in order to be of use to others. See in Job. XIII, 43 ad fin II. 24, 25; in Matth. XII. 30.


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