Redepenning’s Life Of Origen. -- By: B. Sears

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 003:10 (May 1846)
Article: Redepenning’s Life Of Origen.
Author: B. Sears


Redepenning’s Life Of Origen.

Rev. B. Sears, D. D.

President of Theol. Institution, Newton.

Origenes. Eine Darstellung seines Lebens und seiner Lehre von Ernst Rud. Redepenning, Doctor und ordentlichem Professor der Theologie zu Göttingen. Erste Abtkeilung, pp. 461. Bonn. 1841.

A great man is not only the product of the age in which he was born and educated, but also the originator of some peculiarities which mark the age next succeeding. He is an essential link in society, connecting the past with the future, but transmitting more than he received. In order to form a right estimate of the character and merits of Origen, it is necessary to keep in mind both the time and the place of his birth and education, as well as the peculiar events which rendered his life so remarkable. Alexandria was at that time the principal seat of Grecian culture. Its Museum in the quarter of the city, called Bruehium, with its colonnades and walks, its stupendous library and large hall for public disputation, its numerous smaller apartments for study and for copying from books, and its dining hall for the accommodation of those who were supported there as men of learning, resembled rather an academy of sciences than a university, but was more extensive and magnificent than either. To increase the accommodations, the Serapeum had, long before Origen’s time, been added. In this city, there was by far more of mere learning and knowledge than there had ever been in Greece, but infinitely less of genius. The Alexandrian scholars were mostly philologists and eclectic philosophers. Their philosophy, now both Grecian and oriental, had more surface than depth. Their theosophic and Gnostic speculations, had led even many pagans to contemplate subjects kindred with some of the more mysterious truths of revelation.

In the church, miracles had mostly passed away. In Phrygia and in proconsular Africa, Montanism had arisen to insist on a religion of mere feeling, and on new and continued revelations. The heresies which had sprung up and thickened on every side, had been opposed by the engine of tradition and by the external authority of the church. The plain and practical, but materialistic tendencies of Irenaeus and of Tertullian, and of most of the theologians of Asia Minor, of Italy and of north-western Africa, while they answered some important temporary purposes, and contained many elements of truth, failed to satisfy men of contemplation and philosophic tastes and habits. An attempt would naturally be made, and nowhere more naturally than in Alexandria, to reconcile the principles of theology with those of philosophy and science. The effort was in fact made, though with indifferent success.

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