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The Question of Origen's Conversion and the Philosophico-Theological Lexicon of Epistrophē

This essay will investigate the issue of conversion in the exegete, theologian, and philosopher Origen of Alexandria, from two different but related viewpoints. First it will discuss all the evidence we have, in terms of both ancient testimonies and many hints (from his writings, his own names, etc.), with regard to Origen’s own possible conversion to Christianity, denied by Eusebius but maintained by Porphyry and Marcellus of Ancyra. An accurate examination will then be offered of Origen’s terminology of ἐπιστροφή, which is rich and significant, and often dovetails with the notion of apokatastasis or restoration, a key concept in Origen’s philosophical theology, history of salvation, and exegesis. In this sense, Origen seems to anticipate the function of ἐπιστροφή in later Neoplatonism, ‘pagan’ and Christian alike In this way, Origen’s complex notion of conversion will be analysed in both his philosophic-theological implications and its possible (but not proved) biographical connection. The whole investigation will be conducted against the backdrop of Origen’s exegesis of the uses of ἐπιστροφή in Scripture in light of his philosophical and eschatological reading.

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