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Gregorianum 2020 - Fasc. 1

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02 - Mariusz Szram - Origen's castration. Solely a spiritual phenomenon ? - pp. 23-36

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Mariusz Szram

Origen's castration. Solely a spiritual phenomenon ? 

An Attempt of Reinterpreting the Sources

ABSTRACT

The opinion on the self-castration of young Origen seems uncertain in the light of the preserved sources. From the end of the 19th century attempts to question this deed were made by researchers of ancient Christianity. The mention in Eusebius’ Historia ecclesiastica cannot constitute a definitive proof, even if other sources depict cases of such practices. It is difficult to reconcile the alleged literal understanding of the text of Matt 19,12 by young Origen with his allegorical exegesis of the Bible, practiced with conviction throughout his life. Against the authenticity of the Origen’s self-castration can testify the spiritual understanding of the term «eÙnoàcoj», widespread in the Alexandrian tradition. The ambiguity of this term could lead during the disputes over the person of Origen to labelling him as an «eunuch» in the sense of «castrate», while he could only be a «spiritual eunuch», i.e. a man who decided to remain unmarried for ascetic reasons.

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Mariusz Szram

Origen's castration. Solely a spiritual phenomenon ? 

An Attempt of Reinterpreting the Sources

ABSTRACT

The opinion on the self-castration of young Origen seems uncertain in the light of the preserved sources. From the end of the 19th century attempts to question this deed were made by researchers of ancient Christianity. The mention in Eusebius’ Historia ecclesiastica cannot constitute a definitive proof, even if other sources depict cases of such practices. It is difficult to reconcile the alleged literal understanding of the text of Matt 19,12 by young Origen with his allegorical exegesis of the Bible, practiced with conviction throughout his life. Against the authenticity of the Origen’s self-castration can testify the spiritual understanding of the term «eÙnoàcoj», widespread in the Alexandrian tradition. The ambiguity of this term could lead during the disputes over the person of Origen to labelling him as an «eunuch» in the sense of «castrate», while he could only be a «spiritual eunuch», i.e. a man who decided to remain unmarried for ascetic reasons.

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