Apokatastasis and sunteleia: Eschatological and soteriological speculation in Origen

Celia Ellen Rabinowitz, Fordham University


Origen's contributions to the history of Christian theology and spirituality have been the subject of much scholarly inquiry over the past century. Early controversies over the orthodoxy of the major components of his theology, and the anathemas of the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 553 have secured Origen a place in the study of the history of Christian doctrine. Origen's eschatology, and his use of the concept of apokatastasis, have been widely studied. Questions raised about the nature of the risen body and the universality of salvation occupied Origen and many other theologians whose thought was formed primarily in reaction to Origen and Origenism. The goal of this study is to examine the relationship between Origen's soteriological and eschatological speculation in light of its evolving Christian setting and the Hellenistic Middle Platonic environment of the second and third centuries. Particular attention is paid to the connection between the attainment of salvation and the concept of apokatastasis in Origen's theology. While Origen does maintain a traditional Christian eschatology including belief in an end to the world, he also describes an individual teleology or spirituality. This spirituality suggests that an individual may be able to experience the benefits of salvation while still in the body. Clarification of these two approaches, which coexist in Origen's theology, is the aim of this study. Preliminary study of the ancient context and modern scholarly tradition of Origen studies reveals that his eschatology has always been at the center of controversy. The concept of time in relation to cosmology and psychology in the Greek philosophical, Jewish, Gnostic, and Christian traditions is fundamental to the structure of each of these systems. In addition, it is evident that in each there is an attempt made to appeal to the well-educated, intellectual population. Origen carries on this tradition in the third-century Church at Alexandria and then Caesarea. Origen's importance is evident in his influence on the evolving spirituality of the Church. His exegetical methodology and theology had long-lasting effects on both East and West, and he remains a controversial figure in the history of theology.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Rabinowitz, Celia Ellen, "Apokatastasis and sunteleia: Eschatological and soteriological speculation in Origen" (1989). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8917241.