Teacher of Holiness: The Holy Spirit in Origen's Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 1-1-2004


Campus Only

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Michael Slusser

Committee Member

Anne M. Clifford

Committee Member

Michael Cahill

Committee Member

William Thompson-Uberuaga


patristic, pneumatology, theological anthropology


This dissertation explores the theology of the Holy Spirit found in Origen of Alexandria's Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. Examining the commentary in Rufinus' translation and in extant Greek fragments, this study demonstrates that the Holy Spirit is a crucial link between Origen's doctrine of God and his spiritual anthropology. Chapter II describes the commentary's general understanding of "spirit." Origen is concerned with the Holy Spirit and with created spirits of many kinds, including the human spirit, evil spirits, and various ministering spirits. Chapter III focuses on the Holy Spirit as God's movement into the world and into the lives of individual human beings, focusing on the role of the Holy Spirit in the economy of salvation. Three images for the Spirit in the commentary, those of Teacher, Ring, and Cherub, illustrate the way in which the Spirit pervades Origen's thought and also the way in which Origen sees the Spirit working with the Father and the Son. Chapter IV examines the Spirit as reditus, the path by which human beings return to God. Origen sees holiness as a genuine possibility for each person who freely chooses it, which necessarily involves taking part in the Spirit's own pedagogical role. Chapter V considers ways in which Origen's pneumatology can enter into discussion with contemporary pneumatology. For Origen, the Holy Spirit, the ontological ground for every human spirit, creates a universal potentiality for holiness. This Spirit is the locus of both grace and freedom, the seat of individuality and the root of community. Following in the footsteps of the Holy Spirit-Teacher, individual Christians must provide spiritual edification for one another and participate in the sacrament of teaching, bringing the presence of the Spirit into others' lives by speaking and living out the Gospel.





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