A Comment on Our Times

Eric Osborn—chap that wrote an interesting book on Irenaeus, no mean feat—wonders why controversy over Origen, never absent, raging from his lifetime till recently, has in these latter days diminished. Here’s the first reason he gives in his essay in the Origeniana Quinta. “We are less sure of the nature of orthodoxy and it is harder now to be a heretic, even if the name and fame be great.”

Isn’t that great? It is skillfully said, with wit. Here’s the rest of his paragraph: “Fractionalization is the name of our game; a multiplication of periodicals, of conferences and short papers, sends us scurrying to a toe-hold where there is room for one person for twelve minutes. We do not have time to state the principles from which we work, and our audience hesitates to attack their own conjecture of those principles. Lastly, we are not sure whether we are reading what our opponent wrote, for the decline in the printing practice leaves us in doubt as to whether we should be savage or sorry for an author. If a writer distinguishes between Clement’s true gnostic with a small ‘g’ and heretics with a capital ‘G,’ he will be lucky if a printer on the final run does not deny the distinction in the interests of consistency.”

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