When we look at the fallen world, we see that the fallen character is universal, and penetrates through everything, penetrates even through the nature outside of man.
When we ask where did it come from? – of course every individual is guilty, but why is this universally so? Why are there no exceptions? – then the answer is: because the Fall precedes the Creation, as the Fall follows the Creation. Origen has two myths of the Fall: one transcendent, which is not, mythologically, in space, etc… but which is the eternal transition from union with God to separation from God; and the immanent inner-historical in which in special acts this transcendent Fall becomes reality. Sin is spiritual, but the bodily and social existence strengthen sin. It is transcendent and is a destiny which, as every destiny, is united with freedom.
As in Plotinus, sin is in Origen a turning away from God. It is not something positive. Malum esse, bonum carere , (being evil means being without goodness.) Sin, therefore, has a double relation to creation: With respect to the creation of the free and equal spirits, creation precedes the Fall. With respect to the bodily world, creation follows the Fall and follows the freedom of the spirits. Because of the freedom of the spirits, even in eternity it is possible that the Fall may happen again.
The end of this world process is not necessarily the end of history. The Fall may repeat itself, and then the whole thing starts again. You see in these ideas the cyclical thinking of Greek philosophy with respect to history has not yet been overcome, This was done by Augustine.
Now we come to the most difficult part: his christological system. The Logos unites itself with the soul of Jesus, who is an eternal spirit as everybody is. He is pre- existent, as all souls are. But He unites Himself just with this soul. The soul of the man Jesus has received the Logos completely. The soul of Jesus has merged into its power and light. This is a mystical union which, however, can be repeated in all saints. In this the soul mediates between the Logos of God and the body of man. In this way there are two sharply separated natures united in Jesus. The word of the Fourth Gospel that he became flesh. is a bodily, i. e., a literal, kind of speaking. But the truth is that He took on flesh so much so that He became it. This is more (like) adoptionistic thinking. Popular feeling in the East wanted a God on earth who walks with us; it didn’t want a Divine transcendent Power who takes on flesh only, and returns after He has taken on flesh. But for Origen this was an impossible idea because the Logos never can cease to be also outside of Jesus. He is the form of all forms in everything. Homo esse cessavit. He ceased to be a man; but this is somehow the case with all Spiritual beings, who for this reason are called gods. But if they are gods, where is the cut between them and God? What does the cut after the third Person of the Trinity mean? This problem was never solved. and could not be solved on the basis of the doctrine of emanation. If we have a doctrine of emanation. then there is a continuous going down and returning. But Christianity belonged to monotheism. This often-abused term, the “Judeo-Christian tradition,” has at least this in common: that monotheism must be maintained in all circumstances. How can this be done if there are two emanations which are lower than God and at the same time Divine? Men, when they follow the example of the Logos-God. .. , become 1ogokoi themselves, determined by meaning, reason and creative power. Then they are led back to deification. But something more had to be done by Jesus in order to give us this possibility. He had to give His body as a sacrifice. To whom does He give it? To Satan. as ransom. Satan demands that price for letting the others go free, but Satan was betrayed. He couldn’t keep Jesus because He was pure. and therefore not under the power of Satan.
This idea of the betrayal of Satan is not only a theological idea which appears in such a high place as in Origen’s thought, but it is also a popular idea. The Middle Ages is abundant with stories of how the peasants. and especially their wives. betrayed the Devil when he came, and he had to let them alone. This seems for us to be a grotesque mythology and certainly it is, if taken literally. But it is a religious idea of profound insight behind it. namely that the negative never can ultimately prevail, and it cannot prevail because it lives from the positive. When Satan takes Jesus into his power. he cannot keep in his power that from which he lives. namely. the Divine nature. Thus the ultimate futility of everything sinful: it cannot keep indefinitely the positive power of being, because this power of being is derived from the good, and good and power of being are one and the same thing. So if you laugh at this doctrine of Origen, you had better go behind it and see what he means. It means the impossibility of Satan to prevail ultimately. because he lives from that against which he wants to prevail.