Origen's Role in the Formation of the New Testament Canon
Regent College. Master of Christian Studies, Early Church History.
169 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2010 Last revised: 27 Feb 2011
Date Written: August 3, 2010
This thesis examines the influence of the Church father Origen, ca. 185-254, on the formation and development of the New Testament canon. Origen wrote about and understood the writings of both the Old and New Testaments as sharing a genuine unity, encouraging this idea by being the first person on record to use the term “New Testament” to refer to a number of Christian writings which complimented what was then known to some as the “Old Testament,” better known generally as the Jewish Scriptures. Origen also recognized that both collections were divinely inspired, and inspired by one and the same God. Yet it is also true that when Origen referred to the Jewish Scriptures in his writings, he typically prefixed the word “Scriptures” with the words “sacred,” “holy,” or “divine,” whereas he refers to the Gospels and Apostolic letters as merely “Scripture.” This bifurcation in Origen’s thinking actually makes the evidence in his work on the unity of the two sets of writings more profound in that although he was committed to the special nature of the Jewish Scriptures vis-à-vis all others, his writing clearly shows a preponderance to characterize the Christian writings as belonging to the same class of revelation as the Jewish Scriptures. I suggest Origen’s coalescence of the two bodies of writings makes him one of the most important historical players in the development of the NT canon.
Keywords: Origen of Alexandria, New Testament Canon, Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, Early Church Politics
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