Origen Biography

(Christian Scholar, Ascetic and Theologian)

Born: 185

Born In: Alexandria, Egypt

Origen was a great Christian theologian who hailed from Alexandria. He is remembered for his treatise ‘On the First Principles,’ a significant work of Christian Neo-Platonism. He lived through one of the most turbulent periods in Christianity when hostility was widespread amongst the people. During this period, Gnosticism became quite popular. While he was not opposed to Gnosticism, he never adhered to its tenets. He was very loyal to his Christian faith. He also openly refuted paganism but confessed to having learned a lot from it. He was a student of Ammonius Saccas, who was also the teacher of Plotinus. He was dedicated to his education even though his studies were often interrupted by his visits to Rome, Arabia, and Palestine. He earned money by teaching grammar to students and lived a life of staunch asceticism. He was always in demand as a teacher owing to his reputation. His most famous student was Gregory Thaumaturgus, who was later known as the bishop of Neocaesarea. Many times, he escaped from the clutches of various emperors who were against the propagation of Christianity. However, he was tortured badly during the Decian persecution and never recovered from his injuries, dying a few years later.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Origen Adamantius, Origen of Alexandria

Died At Age: 68


father: Leonides of Alexandria

Born Country: Egypt

Quotes By Origen Theologians

Died on: 253

place of death: Tyre, Lebanon

Notable Alumni: Catechetical School Of Alexandria

City: Alexandria, Egypt

More Facts

education: Catechetical School Of Alexandria

Martyrdom of Father
In 202 AD, the then Roman Emperor Septimius Severus ordered the execution of Roman citizens who practiced Christianity openly. This also included Origen’s father who was a Roman citizen.
Since Origen himself was not a Roman citizen, he was spared. Soon, Leonides was martyred. As a result, Origen found himself responsible for taking care of his mother and six brothers.
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Later Years
In 203 AD, Origen got appointed in a Catechetical School in Alexandria. He took the position of a catechist. Eventually, he got a paid teaching position in the same school which came as a relief to his family that was in dire need of money.
While he was in his early twenties, he became less interested in grammar and instead more inclined towards philosophy. He discontinued his job as a catechist and was replaced by his colleague Heraclas.
He started portraying himself as a master of philosophy and this led him into a conflict with the bishop of Alexandria, Demetrius. Soon, he began traveling across various schools in the Mediterranean.
In 212 AD, he traveled to Rome which was considered to be an important center of philosophy at that time. He went on to attend lectures given by Hippolytus of Rome and was significantly influenced by logos theology.
In 213 AD, the Arabian governor sent a message to the Egyptian leader asking him to send Origen to his country so that he could meet him and learn more about Christianity. He went on to spend a short period in Arabia before returning to Alexandria.
In 215 AD, Caracalla, the Roman emperor visited Alexandria. Many students of the schools protested against him because of his policies. This angered the emperor who then asked his troops to destroy the city and kill the protestors. He also went on to expel all the intellectuals from Alexandria which prompted Origen to flee the city.
He went to the city of Caesarea Maritima in Palestine, a Roman province. Here, the bishops Theoctistus and Alexander became his followers.
In 231 AD, Demetrius asked Origen to go on a mission to Athens. On the way, he stopped in Caesarea where he was received with great warmth by Theoctistus and Alexander.
Upon Origen’s request, they ordained him as a priest. Upon hearing this, Demetrius got angry and issued a notice stating that Origen’s ordination as a priest, which was done by a foreign priest, was a clear act of insubordination.
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Between 238 AD and 244 AD, Origen spent much time in Athens. He went on to complete his commentary on the ‘Book of Ezekiel’ while living there. During the same time, he also began writing his ‘Commentary on the Song of Songs.’
In 249 AD, a plague in Cyprus broke out. Emperor Decius believed that the plague was caused due to the failure of the Christians to recognize him as a god. He ordered all the Christians to be killed.
This time, Origen didn’t leave. Instead, he bore all the tortures in the dungeon he was thrown into. In fact, orders were given that he was not to be killed until he renounced his faith in Christianity. Origen went on to bear two years of torture but never gave up his faith.
Major Works
Origen’s most important works include a criticism of the Hexapla, which was a large comparative study of the multiple translations of the Old Testament. In fact, Origen was the first scholar to introduce critical markers to any Biblical text.
Origen also wrote the “scholia” for the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Isaiah and the Gospel of John. Unfortunately, none of these scholia has survived.
Death & Legacy
In 253 AD, Emperor Decius was killed and thus, Origen was released. But his period in the prison had taken a toll on his health, and he died the following year at the age of 69. A tomb was erected in his memory at Tyre where he breathed his last.
Childhood & Early Life
Origen was born in 184 AD, to pagan parents in Alexandria. His father was Leonides of Alexandria who was respected across the land. His mother’s name is unknown, but she was from a lower class. She did not have citizenship rights and as a result, Origen himself did not have the citizenship of Rome.
Leonides was a devout follower of Christianity. Origen also followed the faith and went on to practice it openly.

See the events in life of Origen in Chronological Order

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