Origen (A.D. 185–254) was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to Christian parents. Devout in the extreme, Origen devoted his life to Christian scholarship. Seeking to be totally faithful to the Bible and arguing for its complete inspiration, he worked diligently as a biblical scholar. As a philosophical theologian, however, he sometimes was led astray by his speculations (e.g., believing that God’s conquering love will lead to universal salvation). Late in life Origen suffered torture during the reign of the emperor Decius and died a few years later.
Origen produced perhaps the greatest Christian apologetic work of the first few centuries, Against Celsus. Celsus, a pagan philosopher, argued that the OT did not predict events in the life of Jesus. The alleged fulfillments should be understood as nothing more than fabrications. Jesus’ miracles also could be accounted for either as being legends or, worse, as being due to sorcery. The supposed resurrection was a fiction dependent on pagan mythology. And hints of truth or wisdom found in the Bible were borrowed from Greek philosophy.
This influential work of Celsus demanded a response, and Origen brilliantly refuted it point by point. He carefully demonstrated that OT prophecies concerning Christ were not manufactured, and he noted that miracles, in some measure, were still seen in the lives of those following Christ. Origen carefully displayed the evidence for the literal resurrection of Jesus through the confirmations of skeptics such as Thomas and Paul. And Origen, through a comparison of pagan mythology with the Bible, demonstrated not only the independence of the scriptural narratives of miracles and resurrection but also their superiority as truth.
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