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Origenist Controversy: The Cultural Construction of an Early Christian Debate

by Elizabeth Clark Princeton Legacy Library
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Pbk 300 pages
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Around the turn of the fifth century, Christian theologians and churchmen contested each other's orthodoxy and good repute by hurling charges of ''Origenism'' at their opponents. And although orthodoxy was more narrowly defined by that era than during Origen's lifetime in the third century, his speculative, Platonizing theology was not the only issue at stake in the Origenist controversy: ''Origen'' became a code word for nontheological complaints as well. Elizabeth Clark explores the theological and extra-theological implications of the dispute, uses social network analysis to explain the personal alliances and enmities of its participants, and suggests how it prefigured modern concerns with the status of representation, the social construction of the body, and praxis vis--vis theory. Shaped by the Trinitarian and ascetic debates, and later to influence clashes between Augustine and the Pelagians, the Origenist controversy intersected with patristic campaigns against pagan ''idolatry'' and Manichean and astrological determinism. Discussing Evagrius Ponticus, Epiphanius, Theophilus, Jerome, Shenute, and Rufinus in turn, Clark concludes by showing how Augustine's theory of original sin reconstructed the Origenist theory of the soul's pre-existence and ''fall'' into the body. Originally published in 1992. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

List of Abbreviations
Ch. 1Elite Networks and Heresy Accusations: Towards a Social Description of the Origenist Controversy11
Ch. 2Image and Images: Evagrius Ponticus and the Anthropomorphite Controversy43
Ch. 3The Charges against Origenism85
Epiphanus's Version of Origenism and His Anti-Origenism Charges86
Theophilus's Version of Origenism and His Anti-Origenist Charges105
Jerome's Version of Origenism and His Anti-Origenist Charges121
Shenute's Version of Origenism and His Anti-Origenist Charges151
Ch. 4Rufinus's Defense against Charges of Origenism159
Ch. 5From Origenism to Pelagianism194
The Issues194
"Pre-Pelagian" Concerns198
The Pelagians207

"This is a distinguished book by a first-class scholar who has mastered a huge mass of material and tells a story where both the religious ideas and the human interest are gripping stuff. The densely packed information is skillfully presented so that one never loses sight of the shape of the whole."