Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Religious Studies

First Advisor

Gregory Robbins


Early Christianity, Origen, Practice, Scripture, Self, Structure


In this dissertation I examine the nature of scripture and the self as presented by Origen of Alexandria. I argue that Christian scripture and the Christian self are constructed by exegetical practice; furthermore, in the case of Origen, I will demonstrate that Christian scripture and the Christian self are so closely related that it is best to speak of a scripture-self complex emerging out of his exegetical practice. I use a theory of structure as developed by William Sewell as a means to discuss both scripture and the self. As "structures," scripture and the self are composed of "resources" and "schemas" that are paired together into meaningful wholes. That whole is a structure, which in turn structures other aspects of culture. However, resources and schemas are not automatically paired together. Rather, they are paired together by practices of historical agents who both shape structures and are shaped by them.

With this framework in mind, I discuss the ways in which exegetical practices pair resources and schemas together into meaningful wholes. There are two initial processes, the becoming scripture of biblical texts and the becoming the self of a human person, which I trace in Heracleon, Irenaeus, and Origen. I then argue that in the case of Origen, scripture and self mutually structure one another. I call these processes "the anthropomorphizing of scripture" and "the scripturalizing of the self." These processes result in what I call a scripture-self complex, by this term I mean that scripture cannot be what scripture is without the self being what the self is and the self cannot be what the self is without scripture being what scripture is. Key texts for my study of Origen's exegetical practices are his Commentary on the Gospel according to John, On First Principles, Homilies on Jeremiah, and finally, Commentary on the Song of Songs.


Copyright is held by the author.


Recieved from ProQuest

Rights holder

Micah David Saxton

File size

268 p.

File format





Religion, Theology, Religious history