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Origen was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls. Today he is regarded as one of the Church Fathers.
Origen excelled in multiple branches of theological scholarship, including textual criticism, biblical interpretation, philosophical theology, preaching, and spirituality. Some of his teachings, however, quickly became controversial. Notably, he frequently referred to his hypothesis of the pre-existence of souls. As in the beginning all intelligent beings were united to God, Origen also held out the possibility, though he did not assert so definitively, that in the end all beings, perhaps even the arch-fiend Satan, would be reconciled to God in what is called the apokatastasis ("restitution").
Origen's views on the Trinity, in which he saw the Son of God as subordinate to God the Father, became controversial during the Arian controversy of the fourth century, though a subordinationist view was common among the ante-Nicene Fathers. A group who came to be known as Origenists, and who firmly believed in the preexistence of souls and the apokatastasis, were declared anathema in the 6th century. This condemnation is attributed to the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, though it does not appear in the council's official minutes. Few scholars today believe that Origen should be blamed, as he commonly was in the past, for tentatively putting forward hypotheses, later judged heretical, on certain philosophical problems during a time when Christian doctrine was somewhat unclear on said problems.
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