The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Anti-Jewish Tendencies in Origen’s Preaching

Karl-Henrik Wallerstein: Origen`s homilies on Isaiah 1-9, analyzed through Jerome`s commentary on Isaiah.

Origen is a scholar living in a period that is defined by many as the parting of the ways period. This metaphor describes the separation between Jews and Christians, and later the separation of Muslims from the Christian heritage. New and revolutionary revelations have created the parting of the ways. However, the common foundation for the parting of the ways is based on what the Christian name, the Old Testament. The interpretation of the Old Testament is within a Christian context to a large extent influenced by Origen. For the first time, Origen`s homilies on Isaiah have been published in an English translation, see Thomas B. Scheck, Commentary on Isaiah: including St. Jerome`s translation of Origen`s Homilies 1 - 9 on Isaiah (Ancient Christian Writers 68; New York: The Newman Press, 2015). Jerome translated Origen`s work from Greek to Latin. This analysis of Origen`s homilies will pay specific attention to anti-Jewish criticism visible in these homilies. As we know this critic was partly necessary in order to prove the reliability of the Christian faith. However, some of his criticism might be understood as antisemitic. It is today very important to understand that antisemitism is fostered within a Christian context. This study might shed light on why the early church had such an ambivalent relationship to the Jewish culture. Notable is for example that Origen learned Hebrew from his Jewish scholars. Some observations will show that Origen`s anti-Jewish style has developed a thinking that has created antisemitic thoughts.