Origen's idea of the pre-existence of the soul drew from Greek philosophy, namely Plato. It was one among a number of beliefs later refuted by orthodoxy, such as metempsychosis (the transmigration of souls) and apokatastasis (the restoration of all things to their original perfection). Tertullian, on the other hand, believed the soul is part of the natural process of generation (traducianism), whilst Jerome believed that each soul is created by God at, or after, conception (creationism). The latter, creationism, became the orthodox position in Christianity East and West until, I think, the 19th century. It was St Maximus the Confessor (c. 580-662) who restructured the Platonic anthropology that informed the likes of Philo, Origen and others. His argument was directed at those monks who saw themselves as the inheritors of Origen’s teachings. Whether their theology is an accurate interpretation of Origen is not the point here, and for simplicity’s sake 'Origenist' implies those errors addressed by Maximus, rightly or wrongly imputed to Origen. The primary argument was his refutation of the pre-existence of a spiritual world of beings in an original unity with God, particularly the idea of the eternal existence of the soul. In Platonic terms, spiritual being exist eternally, in the contemplation of the Divine. At some point, for reasons never metaphysically satisfactory explained, these beings 'turned away' from God and initiated a 'fall' that obliged God to create the physical world to catch the soul and arrest an otherwise eternal descent. The world was seen as a place of punishment, a necessary evil, a place and state to be escaped from. Later Christian thinkers softened this position, rendering the embodied soul as undergoing a pedagogic (educational), rather than punitive, experience. According to Origen then, 'movement' occurred before the creation of the cosmos, it happened in the eternal realm, the product of sin and thus movement as such was inherently sinful – any and all movement could only be away from God. All this, of course, seems to ignore the metaphysical implication of Creation according to the Book of Genesis, or at least the common exegesis. There, we find the world is called into existence by the free and gratuitous will of God; that it is essentially good; that man is shaped from the earth, and animated by the breath of God to become a living being. Hebrew anthropology is holistic, not quite so bifurcate as its Hellenic counterpart. Christian theology, and Christian understanding generally, has nevertheless been dogged by a Hellenic dualist way of thinking that owes more to Plato than it does Moses. (St Thomas Aquinas, for example, went on to argue that the 'human person' is a corporate, body-soul dynamic, and only as such is the human complete and entire. While the soul survives the death of the physical body, the soul alone is not wholly human, its disembodied state falls short of its ordained perfection. He looked forward to the General Resurrection when souls will once more be embodied (albeit this time clothed in some incorruptible manner). For him, a soul without a body is an imperfect thing.) Maximus argues that souls, being creatures in eternity, would not be able to move at all, since God is not subject to motion. Eternity is not defined by place or direction, by 'here' or 'there'. At the very basic, spiritual beings would not be able at avert their gaze, any more than turn away, because God is all, and God is everywhere. Nor is there any impetus or any desire in God that might set Him in motion, and thus 'motion' would not be transferred or in any other way imparted to His co-eternal spiritual beings. For Maximus, in the eternal is God and God alone. The first movement is a creatio ex nihilo, a coming from nothing into being. Moreover, the natural trajectory of created beings would be from nothing, towards God, their source and origin, their object and end, rather than away from Him. Movement then, for Maximus, is the desire of finite, created being for the infinite. When such created beings reach their destination in God, their motion ceases, their desire fulfilled. (Sin then is a movement contrary to nature, since the vocation of all creation is towards its maker. Sin leads in the contrary direction, to the destitution and eventual extinction of being.) Maximus drew out the error that, by this movement in the eternal, there is no eternal peace or stillness, but rather, being eternal, an infinite series of falls from, and returns to, God (which means an infinite number of universes coming into being and being destroyed, not only successively but also contemporaneously, as multiverses). In this view of existence, the eternal impossibility of satisfaction is joined to the impossibility of rest in eternity. The suffering then, in this moment, this life, this world, is simply a manifestation of an eternal suffering, and that furthermore suffering is a condition not just of this life, but of all and any mode of existing. Everything suffers, even God. Another aspect of the Origenist God is His being subject to necessity and thus a lack of freedom. God has no choice but is obliged to create the physical world, to arrest the fall and then punish the fallen, as a means of restoring them to their original state, in effect restoring the integrity of His own fragmented being. On the principles of such a system, the fall of these spiritual beings (who in some ill-defined way share God’s nature) is necessarily a fall of (part of) God Himself, involving a struggle between that part of Him which has fallen, and that part which has remained intact; and the struggle takes place partly to prevent the remaining portion from being dragged down with the rest. In such a framework, God actually benefits from the existence of the corporeal world, despite the fact that its creation was prompted by sin, since it enables Him to recover the fallen fragments of His former plenitude. Thus Origenists would be obliged to argue that suffering and death was as much part of the life of Paradise as it is outside of it! Only then can the Origenist square the fact that there is a suffering, punitive world that can be declared 'good'. As Maximus goes on to hammer home, driving the argument ad absurdum towards its only logical conclusion, this means there is a link between God and evil, so that even the basic difference between good and evil is relativized, blurred, and ultimately lost. +++ Maximus’ response is grounded on the reversal of the Origenist triad: stasis, kinesis, genesis (rest, movement, becoming). For the Origenists, stasis is the original state or condition of the spiritual beings coexisting with God; kinesis is their impulse to sin, their movement away from God; genesis signifies the passage of spiritual beings from an immaterial and intelligible state (mind) to a bodily and sensible one. For Maximus, the process begins instead with genesis, a ‘coming into being’, a creatio ex nhihilo that including both spiritual and material creatures. Kinesis is the natural and God-implanted inclination (logos) of created beings to their creator, an impetus that conveys them from their point of origin to their final end. Stasis is the condition of rest in the eschaton, when creatures will become by grace what God is by nature, and thus participate in eternal, becoming themselves immortal, as both Paul and the Johannine scribe hinted at.