A A NOTE ON ORIGEN'S SELF-MUTILATION BY R. P. C. HANSON In his Ecclesiastical History (6, 8, 1-3) Eusebius tells us that Origen early in his career castrated himself and that his bishop Demetrius on the whole approved of this act. Some doubts have been raised whether Eusebius is here relying on hearsay or legend, because much later, in his Commentary on Matthew (15, 1-4) Origen deprecated precisely this act. I have therefore gathered together below several passages which show that the act of self-castration was a known one among Christians of about Origen's period, and that it usually met with no heavy condem- nation. (i) The Acts of John 53 and 54, a mid-second century legendary ac- count made by one Leucius Charinus of a markedly Gnostic turn of mind. Here a young man is described as castrating himself shortly after his conversion. John rebukes him gently, saying that he should have cut off the impulse and not the members. Compare Justin, Apology 1, 29, 2-3, where a young Christian is recorded as asking permission of the governor of Alexandria to perform the same act.' (ii) Athenagoras, Supplicatio 34, 1-2, describes Christians as eb- V06XOug Kai gOvO7dgOug;
Vigiliae Christianae – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1965
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