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Origen was an early Christian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished of the early fathers of the Christian Church.

Eusebius reported that Origen, following literally, castrated himself. This story was accepted during the Middle Ages and was cited by Abelard in his 12th century letters to Heloise. Scholars within the past century have questioned this, surmising that this may have been a rumor circulated by his detractors.

On his autocastration


Origen never mentions anything about having castrated himself in his writings and, in his exegesis of Matthew 19:12, he strongly condemns any literal interpretation of the passage, asserting that only an idiot would interpret the passage in such a way. Eusebius, however, accepts the story of Origen's self-castration as genuine, seeing it as a misguided literal interpretation of this very passage. The later church historian Philostorgius of Apamea, on the other hand, claims that Origen was forcibly castrated by Jews. The report of self-castration was accepted throughout the Middle Ages and was cited by Peter Abelard in his letters to Heloise. Edward Gibbon, in his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, also accepts this story as true. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, some scholars have questioned the historicity of Origen's self-castration, instead seeing it as a wholesale invention by Demetrius. Henry Chadwick argues that, while the story may be true, it seems unlikely, given that Origen's exposition of Matthew 19:12 "strongly deplored any literal interpretation of the words". However, many noted historians, such as Peter Brown and William Placher, continue to find no reason to conclude that the story is false. Placher theorizes that, if it is true, it may have followed an episode in which Origen received some raised eyebrows while privately tutoring a woman.

Contra Celsum

Against Celsus (Greek: Κατὰ Κέλσου; Latin: Contra Celsum), preserved entire in Greek, was Origen's last treatise, written about 248. Ambrose had requested that Origen provide an answer to a book entitled The True Doctrine which attacked Christianity, and had been written some time in the second century by an unknown Middle Platonic philosopher named Celsus. Celsus charged that Jesus was a deceptive magician who did miracles by a magic occult power not by a relationship with the divine. In the ancient world few doubted strange powers existed and were used. So-called magic and the miraculous was common place. See: The Greeks and the Irrational by E. R. Dodds.

See also

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