Negotiating Heresy: The Reception of Origen in Jerome's Eschatological Thought

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The aim of this study is to examine the reception of Origen of Alexandria (185-253/54) in the eschatological thought ofJerome of Stridon (347-419/20). Jerome, who was a Christian ascetic writer and a biblical commentator, relied heavily on Origen’s works during the first part of his career. Due to the Origenist controversy, which took place in the 390s and was initiated by Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis, Jerome came to change his attitude towards Origen, and became one of the authors who produced anti-Origenist heresiology during this period. The issues under debate concerned to a great extent eschatology, as Origen’s ideas about the resurrection and about eternal salvation were attacked. In modern scholarship, Jerome’s new attitude towards Origen has been described as a sudden volte-face, and Jerome’s eschatological ideas, as expressed after the beginning of the controversy, are described as very different from Origen’s. He is presented as teaching an idea of the resurrection which does not imply any change in the resurrection body, in relation to the earthly body, and he is described as claiming the idea of a hierarchy of the saved in opposition to Origen’s idea about a final restoration of all rational beings.

Paying much attention to the mechanics of heresiology and the rhetorical strategies used by Jerome in his constructions of Origen and “Origenism”, I question the presentation of Jerome as a convinced anti-Origenist who held eschatologial ideas that differed significantly from Origen’s. Rather, I argue that Jerome exaggerated the difference between himself and Origen in these questions, while continuing to rely on the Alexandrian’s eschatological thinking. Thus, I examine both the ways in which Jerome’s eschatological thinking was indebted to Origen's theology and the ways in which he polemicized against Origen’s ideas.

I study Jerome’s reception of Origen’s eschatology not only in the Origenist controversy, but also in the preceding Jovinianist controversy, and in the later Pelagian controversy. Issues related to eschatology were of great importance in all these controversies. In my treatment of Jerome’s involvement in the Jovinianist controversy, I argue that Origen was the main source of the ascetical theology that Jerome expressed in his work Against Jovinian (393) and also of the eschatological ideas that Jerome expressed in this work. Above all, I argue that in expressing the idea about a hierarchy of Christians based on asceticism, on earth as well as in heaven, he was indebted to Origen. I argue that Jerome continued to express this idea in the Origenist controversy, but that he now, paradoxically, used it in polemics against Origen himself. When it comes to the Pelagian controversy, I argue that Origen was important in Jerome’s anti-Pelagian polemics, both as a source of his anti-Pelagian ideas and as a “heretic” with whom the Pelagians could be associated. An important purpose of the dissertation is to contribute to a nuanced description of Jerome’s way of relating to Origen’s theology, which takes account of the heresiological strategies that he used both in his presentation of Origen and in his orthdox self-presentation, and thereby show the great complexity of his reception of Origen.
Tilldelande institution
  • Centrum för teologi och religionsvetenskap
  • Rubenson, Samuel, handledare
  • Jacobsen, Anders-Christian, handledare, Extern person
Tilldelningsdatum2019 okt. 4
ISBN (tryckt)978-91-88899-44-6
StatusPublished - 2019 sep. 5

Bibliografisk information

Defence details
Date: 2019-10-04
Time: 14:15
Place: LUX C126
External reviewer(s)
Name: Cain, Andrew
Title: Professor
Affiliation: University of Colorado


Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Religionsvetenskap


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