Origen introduced an idea into the practical piety. which idea had a tremendous effect on the whole of Christian history after him, namely the interpretation of The Song of Songs, in terms of the mystical love of the soul and Christ. The human soul is the bride of the Logos – that is what this love song means. The soul receives the bridegroom in itself. It is sometimes visited by the Logos, i. e., the Divine Spirit is sometimes experienced by us; sometimes the soul is left alone. no one visits her from the eternal.
This is the first mystical interpretation of The Song of Songs. related to an individual.
In Judaism it was interpreted for God and the synagogue. Here you see again an important example of the necessity for allegoric interpretation. The Song of Songs itself is nothing more than a Jewish love song perhaps a wedding song which was performed at weddings or festivals. It is in the canon; it has Divine authority; what to do with it? The answer of the Jews was: It is the relationship between God and the nation. And in my oId Luther Bible – which I love dearly, because I got it when I was born, for my baptism – there is always something said in the “head-lines”” of The Song of Songs about the relationship between God and the Church.
Here we have a third, the mystical, interpretation from Origen: the relationship between the Logos and the soul, the mystical marriage between Christ and the soul All this of course is mystical, but it is a very important transformation of non- Christian mysticism. It is concrete mysticism, The soul, being grasped by the Spirit of God, does not go beyond itself into the abyss of the Divine, but the Logos, the form, the concreteness, of the Divine comes into the soul, This was the first step for what I have called in my seminar on the theology of Christian mysticism, in former years, the “baptising” of mysticism. And this certainly is an important event – mysticism introduced into the Church by becoming concrete. If Origen and later on Bernard of Clairvaux, speaks of the mystical marriage between the Logos and the soul, then the centered personality is not destroyed, it is preserved, as in a marriage there is a complete union and nevertheless the person is not destroyed, Now this is the imagery in which the pious life, in mystical terms, is described by Origen., The last important point in his theology is eschatology, the doctrine of the final end of history and the world, He interprets it Spiritualistically The rough descriptions, with their primitive imagery, are interpreted in Spiritual terms. The Second Coming of Christ is the Spiritual appearance of Christ in the souls of the pious. He comes back to earth again and again. but into our souls. not in a dramatic appearance in physical terms such as with clouds, thunder, etc. The pious people are fulfilled in a Spiritual experience, This Spiritual body, of which Paul speaks, is the essence or the idea of the “material body” It is that which is painted by a great portrait painter – that is what is meant with the participation of the body in the eternal It isn’t this body here, and especially not in this moment, but it is a body which is our body during all our life – it is its essence, its idea (i.e., originally meaning “image”). The punishment for sin – Hell, in traditional eschatology – is the fire which burns in our conscience, the fire of despair because of our separation from God, But this is a temporary status, a status of purging our soul Finally everybody and everything will become Spiritualized; the bodily existence will vanish, Origen called this famous doctrine the apokatastasis paton , the restitution of everything, with the possibility that the whole thing starts again because freedom is never denied, Origen was thoroughly a philosopher of freedom, and this is what distinguishes him from Augustine, his great rival in greatness of theological thought/ But this spiritualization of eschatology was the reason why he became, partly at least, a heretic in the Christian Church although he was their greatest theologian.
The simple ones revolted against this greatest system of scientific theology – the monks and others, who couldn’t and didn’t want to get away from their literalism with respect to the future life, the end0catastrophe, the eternal judgment, etc, The motives for the simple ones were partly realistic, in the Jewish sense of realism of bodily existence: anti-Greek, dualistic And partly they were something else: they were ideas of revenge against those, who were better off on earth, and now they wanted to be better off than they, but how can, this be without bodily ‘existence? So they fought for it, and for a very realistic and literalistic idea of judgment, final catastrophe, and heaven, The Church took their side and condemned not the whole of Origen, but the heretic side of. him, But there were other reactions against the Logos Christology, which was introduced by the Apologists – and already, somehow, by the Fourth Gospel – and which found in Origen its greatest and most important expression. Again the laymen were the ones who revolted, not only against Origen but against the whole Logos Christology. The laymen, the simple ones were not interested in the cosmological implications of the Logos concept; they wanted to have God Himself on earth in Christ. This group was called the monarchianists, from monarchia , meaning one man’s rule. They wanted to have only one ruler, one God, not three, as they felt the Logos Christology would make it. They emphasized, against the Logos as a second God, the “monarchy” of the Father. We can say that this movement was a monotheistic reaction against the tri- or duo-theistic danger of the Logos doctrine.