Philokalia (Origen)

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Origen's Philokalia is an anthology of Origen's texts, probably compiled by Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen. It was probably compiled during their monastic retreat in Pontus in the late 350s to early 360s, or in any event early in their careers and before their own theological writings.[1] The complete text of so much of Origen's work is lost, and consequently the extracts in the anthology are valuable today.[2] It should not be confused with the medieval Philokalia.

The work is divided into twenty-seven chapters, with titles given by the compilers. About a fifth of it is taken from Contra Celsum.

Opinion is divided about who compiled the Philokalia. Basil and Gregory are described as the compilers in the Greek text itself,[3] and this is generally accepted. Eric Junod, the editor of the French edition of chapters 21–27, accepts both as the authors without question.[4] But M. Harl, editor of chapters 1–20 in the same series, queries this,[5] as do others. Gregory Nazianzen sent a letter to a friend [6] which supports the traditional attribution.[7]

A number of medieval manuscripts preserve the work, including Codex Parisinus Graecus 456.


  1. ^ Peter C. Bouteneff, Beginnings: ancient Christian readings of the biblical creation narratives, Baker Academic (2008) p.128.
  2. ^ George Lewis, The Philocalia of Origen, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1911. Translator's preface: "The wholesale destruction of his writings which followed upon the warfare waged against his opinions shortly after his death, has caused a special value to attach to the Philocalia as preserving to us in the original much of Origen's work which would otherwise have been entirely lost, or would have survived only in the translations of Rufinus. Moreover, even his great and comparatively popular work against Celsus depends for its text solely on a manuscript of the thirteenth century, so that we have a cause for gratitude in the preservation of a large part of it in the Philocalia."
  3. ^ See translation of the Greek introduction in George Lewis' translation here.
  4. ^ Origène, Philocalie 21-27, Sources Chrétiennes tome 226, Paris (1976), p. 11-13. Greek critical text, translation and notes.
  5. ^ Origène, Philocalie 1-20, Sources Chrétiennes tome 302, Paris (1983), p. 19-24. Greek critical text, translation and notes.
  6. ^ Gregory Nazianzen, Letter 115, To Theodore: "I have sent you a little book, the Philocalia of Origen, as a remembrance of me and of the holy Basil."
  7. ^ Authorship discussion and references from Jennifer Nimmo Smith, A Christian's guide to Greek culture: the Pseudo-Nonnus Commentaries, p.xx, n.17.

Further reading[edit]

  • J. Armitage Robinson, The Philocalia of Origen: The text revised with a critical introduction and indices. Cambridge University Press/New York:Macmillan (1893), pp. XIII-XVIII

External links[edit]