Origen's Speculative Angelology

In Delphine Lauritzen (ed.), Inventer les Anges de l'Antiquité à Byzance: Conceptions, Représentations, Perceptions. Paris: De Boccard. pp. 95-114 (2021)
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Origen of Alexandria can be credited as the founder of a Christian speculative angelology, in which Christ the Logos is both the creator and the interpreter of the angels. He introduces the angels as the first created rational beings who, in contemplating the divine Word (Logos), freely choose to direct their will as holy angels in service to or wicked demons in antagonism against the love of God. The first created rational beings are divided into three orders: the angels, the demons, and the neutral spirits of human souls. The angels remain closest in contemplation of the Logos, yet, due to their negligence, descend to unfold in the angelic hierarchy. The angels and demons thereafter guide the movements of all spirits, substances, and signs in the created world. The neutral spirits of human souls can choose to follow either the guidance of guardian angels or demons. And yet after the Incarnation, the angels are distinguished from the demons by their choice to follow Christ. Origen’s angelology has often been regarded as an early Christian alternative to Middle Platonic daemonologies. And after Karl Barth, his angelology has come to be dispensed from Christian theology. However, as Jean Daniélou has observed, Origen had previously departed from Platonic daemonology in affirming that angelic mediacy must pass away like the light of the stars before the brilliance of the Logos of Christ. He had, in this way, already assimilated the mediacy of the angels to the absolute mediation of Christ. And, in assimilating angelic to christic mediacy, Origen also attributes the reason with which the world is moved to the divine reason of the divine Word (Logos) of Christ in God. Origen’s angelology can thus be read both before and after Barth as a science of the angels.

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Ryan Haecker
Cambridge University


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