The Hermeneutical Method Of Origen: The Influences Upon Him And The View Of Inspiration He Developed -- By: Peter J. Youmans

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 14:43 (Dec 2010)
Article: The Hermeneutical Method Of Origen: The Influences Upon Him And The View Of Inspiration He Developed
Author: Peter J. Youmans


The Hermeneutical Method Of Origen:
The Influences Upon Him And The View Of Inspiration He Developed

Peter J. Youmans

* Peter J. Youmans, D.Min., pastor, Davidson Baptist Church, Hazard, Kentucky; professor of ministry and Ph.D. student, Piedmont Baptist Graduate School, Winston Salem, North Carolina

When the name Origen is mentioned, the concept of allegorical interpretation is immediately brought into one’s consciousness. “The fact that Origen divided the interpretation of Scripture into three senses is almost as well known as the fact that Caesar divided Gaul into three parts.”1 While scholars still argue with regard to the specifics of his view, Origen is well recognized as the person who popularized allegory within the realms of Christianity. In spite of his popularity and influence, he was not recognized as a church father because his position “drifted beyond the bounds of orthodoxy.”2

Origen did not live in vacuity nor did he invent allegorical interpretation. Allegoricism was used long before the time of Christ. Origen was an individual, who stressed allegory to the point of minimizing or ignoring the literal, who came to the conclusion that he should—based upon Matthew 19:12—literally castrate “himself in order to instruct his female students without fear of scandal.”3 It seems inconceivable that a man who is known for his rationalism could be also enthralled with mysticism. Simply reading his material will lead one to discover “fantastic allegory—simply incredible exegesis—appears in the midst of biblically-grounded, textually sensitive, historically perceptive exposition.”4 Individuals, in addition to religious and philosophical groups had a profound impact upon him. Not only did others impact him, but also the use of mystical, allegorical interpretation affected his theological views, which has continued to influence hermeneutical theories, theological

positions, in addition to philosophy until this present day.5 Whether one admires or despises his theology, Origen is not a man whose impact can be ignored.

Often it has been convenient to either dismiss him or to take a simplistic view that completely misses these vital truths from church history. The purpose of this article is to examine those individuals and groups that actually helped develop his hermeneutical system and theology in the area ...

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