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Origen, Patristic Philosophy, and Christian Platonism Re-Thinking the Christianisation of Hellenism

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image of Vigiliae Christianae

Origen was a Christian Platonist, which his adversaries (both Christians who opposed Greek philosophy and pagan philosophers like Porphyry who saw Christianity as a non-culture) considered to be a contradictio in adiecto. His formation and teaching centred on philosophy, and his Περì αρχων in its structure was inspired not so much by earlier Christian works as by pagan philosophical works stemming from the selfsame authors as those appreciated at Ammonius' and Plotinus' schools. A close examination of all extant sources and a careful investigation of Origen's philosophical formation, readings, and works show that Origen the Neoplatonist is likely to be our Christian philosopher.

The presupposition of the incompatibility between Christianity and philosophy (especially Platonism), which provoked charges against Origen as a Christian Platonist from his lifetime onward, is still at work in modern theorizations concerning the “Hellenisation of Christianity,” which are here analysed and brought into connection with the supposed necessity of distinguishing Origen the Platonist from Origen the Christian. It is not the case that a “pure” Christianity was subsequently Hellenised: the NT itself was already Hellenised to some extent, and the Christian κηρυγμα, intended for all nations and cultures, was a σκανδαλον for the Jews as well as μωρìα for the Greeks.

Affiliations: 1: Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Via Faustini 6, 29010 San Nicolò, Piacenza, Italy;, Email:


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