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Origen’s construal of the Bible as a textual incarnation of the Word encourages an assimilationist interpretation of the Hebrew Scriptures as a proto-Christian gospel. Although in partial agreement with this thesis, this study suggests a non-assimilationist reading of Origen’s biblical exegesis.
I must admit that this has been one of the most difficult books to read, and before one approaches it, the reader should have some knowledge of linguistics and Greek rhetoric. In this book, the author attempts to take an in-depth examination not so much of Origen, but his pedogogical style and, very much, his goal in discourse. He presents Origen in a much better, and indeed, conservative light than must scholarship, showcasing the ancient preacher as a skilled and masterful orator who carefully choose and investigated words, investing in them the belief that the deliverance of the gospel message was in of itself a saving power.
I would like to thank the kind folks at Gorgias press for this review copy,
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If, as Origen believed, humanity’s hope for salvation has been answered by a divine Word, whose coming into the world has unfolded history according to a messianic intrigue, Origen’s messianic reading of world history as a soteriological discourse should not come as a surprise. How does Origen refer to this discourse? As a speech that spells the coming Word, this discourse would have to be soteriological in its very wording, it would have to happen soteriologically. The Word’s historical unfolding would have to be approached as a gospel, a good-news or a revelatory speech event, which, literally, spells salvation. Receiving this messianic Word would necessarily imply the believer’s application to the study of the Bible as Gospel. The task of this study is twofold. In addition to offering a detailed analysis of Origen’s understanding of exegesis as a liturgical attending to the Word’s evangelic advent in the Bible (a sort of textual redoubling of the incarnation), it also addresses a recent concern regarding the totalizing potential of Origen’s Logos-centered reading of history as evangelic or Christian. One may indeed wonder whether Origen’s exegetical spelling of the Word as universal Gospel can prevent the silencing of the speech of, let us say, the Greek or the Jew outside of Christianity? Ultimately, one may wonder whether it is possible to dissociate Origen’s Christian understanding of the Bible-incarnate Word from the totalizing rigor of a universalist metaphysics and what would be the consequences of such an attempt.