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Origen's heresy or par excellence Christian philosophy?

Academic & Research
The CEU Campus
Friday, May 6, 2016, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

The Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies

cordially invites you to a special seminar 


 Origen's heresy or par excellence Christian philosophy?

by Ilaria Ramelli (The Catholic University of the Sacred Heart)

 with comments by Istvan Perczel (Central European University)


Friday, May 6, 2016


11.00-12.30 and 13.30-15.00

Monument Building Room 203






'Origenism', primarily meaning a Christian doctrine teaching the pre-existence of the souls in an incorporeal state before their birth in the body and the doctrine of universal salvation (apocatastasis panton),  has become an ugly term in the Church tradition as these ideas were repeatedly condemned by Church councils of the fifth-sixth centuries, connected to the person of the greatest Christian thinker of the second-third century, Origen. Yet, starting with Erasmus of Rotterdam, the Western Christian tradition of humanist inspiration increasingly rehabilitated Origen and has shown Origen's immense personal role in shaping early Christian thought. It has also shown that Origen's sophisticated personal thought had little to do with the rough doctrines attributed to him in the condemnations.  More recent research has demonstrated that, while the pre-existence of the souls as understood by the condemnations was a marginal doctrine, on the contrary, the pre-existence of the human nature and the connected doctrine of universal salvation was rather the rule than the exception in early Christianity, had a structural part in forming Christian theology and that such authors as Antony, the Cappadocian Fathers, Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, Isaac of Niniveh, Maximus the Confessor, John Scot Eriugena, Symeon the New Theologian etc. are part of this grand tradition. Yet, there remains the task to bring together structurally the results of the individual researchers and to establish the philosophical content of the tradition that had received the misnomer 'Origenism'.


In this seminar, held in two sessions, Ilaria Ramelli and István Perczel, who have worked for decades on this reinterpretation, will introduce those interested to the latest results of this research and will try to give a tentative philosophical interpretation.



Ilaria Ramelli, FRHistS, earned two MAs, a PhD, a postdoctorate, and two Habilitations to Full/Ordinary Professor. She has been, among else, Professor of Roman History, Fellow in Ancient Philosophy (Catholic University, 2003–present), Senior Fellow in Ancient Philosophy (Durham), and Senior Visiting Professor of Greek Thought (Harvard). She is Full Professor of Theology and K.Britt Chair (Graduate School, SHMS, “Angelicum” University), the director of international research projects, Senior Visiting Professor of Church History (Columbia), and Senior Visiting Fellow (Erfurt; Oxford). She received many prestigious scholarly awards.


She sits on many directive and scientific boards of academic series and journals and numerous international scholarly associations. She regularly serves as peer reviewer for top scientific series and journals, and as a scientific consultant in tenure/hiring evaluations for outstanding Universities, and in advanced research funding for first-rate Foundations and Universities. She has taught courses and seminars, delivered invited lectures and conferences, and held senior research fellowships and senior visiting professorships at topmost Universities in Europe, North America, and Israel. She authored numerous books and essays in leading scholarly journals/series, on ancient and patristic philosophy/theology and late antiquity.




Please RSVP to Reyhan Durmaz at to join the seminar and receive the readings