Anathemas against Origen


A lot of people think UR was condemned at the second council of Constantinople, but what the assembled Bishops condemned were certain views being taught by those who considered themselves disciples of Origen.

They condemned those views in these words:

The “monstrous restoration” condemned is a return to a totally incorporeal pre-existence, in which matter is done away, and bodies are “annihilated.”

UR isn’t condemned, and I’m wondering if the idea that resurrection bodies are primarily spherical is really condemned?

The idea that we’d only be spheres (in a universe with no matter, incapable of physically manefesting a continuity with our earthly appearance, and incapable of recognizing one another) is clearly condemned, but is the idea of a spherical body itself condemned?

(The repeated use of the conjunctive “and” instead of “or” might be relevant here.)

Any thoughts?


Hi Michael,

Spherical bodies! :unamused: I wonder how much of what is commonly believed in our time is equally absurd.

That list of anathemas makes interesting reading. Is that all it has to say about universalism? What about future councils?


Hi Michael,

Robin Parry has an interesting series of blog posts related to anathemas against Origen:


If you mean the seven ecumenical councils of the undivided Church, that’s all they have to say about UR (the personal anthema’s of the Emporer Justinian, and the decrees of local synods are not ecumenical, and carry no dogmatic weight.)

There are still Orthodox Bishops teaching UR.

Even Orthodox who don’t teach it, accept it as a pious hope.

And if you believe that Christ is still with the Church, any future councils would be guided by The Holy Spirit.

What do you think our resurrection bodies will be like?

Will they be pure spirit (or energy)?

Will they be physical bodies?

Or perhaps physical bodies dominated by the spirit (instead of by the flesh)?

Will they have flesh (and bone)?

Will they have sexual organs?

Will they have only the external form of our present bodies, or will they have internal organs?

If they have internal organs, will those organs function as they do now?

Will we eat (and if we do, will our GI tracts still process food)?


Thank you James.

I particularly liked this (from part 3.) … art-3.html

But I’m still interested in whether the idea of spherical bodies (per say–without the idea of pre-existence, the idea that matter will be abolished, the idea that these spherical bodies couln’t appear in more concrete form, or the idea that “all reasonable beings will one day be united in one, when the hypostases as well as the numbers and the bodies shall have disappeared”) is condemned in these anathemas.

Any thoughts?


Amen to all of the great answers. I actually came to this forum looking for an answer to the anathemas against Origen. My question has been answered. Thank you all.


Anathema VII caught my eye:

If anyone shall say that Christ (of whom it is said that he appeared in the form of God and that he was united before all time with God the Word and humbled himself in these last days even to humanity) had (according to their expression) pity upon the divers falls which had appeared in the spirits united in the same unity (of which he himself is part), and that to restore them he passed through divers classes, had different bodies and different names…let him be anathema.

What interests me is that Christ is said to have been “united before all time with God the Word.” Now THAT is interesting because it’s recognized that the Word “appeared” and “humbled himself in the last days,” i.e., the Word “became” flesh. Incarnation (and hypostatic union) are a temporal event. So how is it that “Christ” (who is the incarnate Logos) is “forever united to God the Word”?



Thought this was interesting - from the Catholic Encyclopedia:


That’s some good detective work there, aHf! Thanks!


I did a lot of studying a year or two ago on the history of the church and some of the councils, etc. But my computer crashed a few months ago and I’ve lost all of my studies. But i recalled reading that and was able to find it quickly online.

I also recall discovering that Gregory of Nazianzus, who precised over the First Council of Constantinople in 381, also believed in Apocatastasis. Gregory of Nysaa was also in attendance at that council, as I recall.

Yet this was after Origen and Apocatastasis were supposedly declared anathema in 543. :open_mouth:


Ummmm no. 381 was not after 543.

It would however be shocking if Apocatastasis was declared anathema in 543 after the two Gregories (especially the Father of Orthodoxy himself, the Orthodox of the Orthodox) helped shape prior councils on what was orthodox and what was heretical.


Having said that, the key point for RCCs is that a Pope speaking in what is arguably ex cathedra ratified the anathemas of the Emperor on this topic, and at no great date afterward. This is definitely one of the dogmatic sources of the RCC, and I recall reporting in some detail about this in another thread somewhere.


Yes. Sorry, that was a typo. :blush:

The point being that there was more than just Origen who held this belief. Though some held it more prominently than others, I suppose. Some may not have taught it at all, though they believed it themselves (I forget what they called that). But they were not all condemned with Origen, which says to me that there was more to what was declared anathema then just the belief that all men will be saved (as was pointed out earlier in the thread). Seems Origen believed many other things that might have set him apart from Orthodoxy and got him condemned and the doctrine of the Apocatastasis suffered more as a result of collateral damage than from a direct attack. Even if that might have eventually happened anyway.