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Origen heretical?

The ample space that the cultural supplement of Il Sole 24 Ore, ever alert to new things, gave to the resonating discovery of 29 unpublished homilies on the Psalms by Origen in the Greek Codex in Munich, no. 314 came as no surprise. Concerning the rediscovery – we were the first to write about it  in depth in our 13 June issue ( L'Osservatore Romano Italian daily edition) – and yesterday published a global preview of several passages by the great Alexandrian theologian and preacher. La Domenica devoted two articles to it, the first by the Hebrew scholar Giulio Busi and the second by the Latinist, Alessandro Schiesaro. The latter stresses most appropriately that the discovery of Italian philologist, Marina Molin Pradel, in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek of Munich, “will help us to understand how necessary it is to persevere in the exploration of libraries, even the best known, investing adequate resources in cataloguing them and in their conservation”.

Instead, inspired by the idea of the recently-published proceedings of a congress held in 2010 on Origen's influence on modern philosophy and, in particular, on the concept of human dignity, Busi describes the crucial importance of the controversy against Gnostic determinism that was led by the Alexandrian intellectual; in the name of free will and consistent with a thought which Origen –  who always felt that he belonged to the Christian community, a vir ecclesiasticus by antonomasia –  contributed to forming and defending, just as, among other things, one of the unprinted works that we published demonstrates, in which the great scholar tersely criticizes the school of heretics. With regard to the condemnation desired by Justinian in 553, Busi recalls that Henri de Lubac described it as an act of barbarity and, tarring everyone with the same brush, concluded hastily that this liberation theology ante literam should be classified as “heresy”.  He therefore used the engaging title in Musil's style: Origen, the man without qualities, which alludes to human freedom of choice. However the earlier cry: “'Homilies' by a heretical father rediscovered!”, truly seems to have been dictated by the great Byzantine Emperor.

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