Peri Archon: An Analysis

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1. The Peri Archon "presents a systematic exposition of the basic tenets of the Christian faith," and "represents a mid-point in the shaping of Origen's exegetical practice," (Clements 4-5). Book IV of the Peri Archon represents the culmination of Origen's hermeneutical and exegetical argument. Origen was living in Caesaria at the time of writing the Peri Archon, and was at the time heavily influenced by frequent contact with rabbinical scholarship. In the Peri Archon, Origen argues for the "unity of scripture," (Clements 6). Origen and his contemporaries were concerned about judicious interpretations of scripture. The main problem with interpreting scripture, according to Origen, is twofold. First, there are different levels of meaning embedded in scripture. These levels of meaning include spiritual levels, which are not accessible or understandable to the average human being. Second, human beings can and do progress spiritually. This means that scripture will be interpreted differently at different times, even by the same human being. Origen holds that scripture should be interpreted on three distinct levels, which the author models after the threefold structure of the human person as soma, psyche, and pneuma. This tripartite division corresponds well with the levels on which scripture can be interpreted. The most obvious method of interpreting scripture is also the most obvious level of understanding human life: the basic physical level. Literal interpretations of

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