Friday, 17 May 2019

Karla Pollmann, Sara Contini, Monnica Kloeckener, Ilaria Scarponi: Human Dignity and Soft Power in Origen

As has been widely acknowledged by recent scholarship, Origen played a crucial role in turning Christianity into an intellectually acceptable religion. Apart from appealing to the pagan elite of his time, Origen was also keen to extend the relevance of the Christian message of salvation to other strata of society. In particular his sermons make therefore use of a wide range of examples taken from the Bible of from everyday life in order to illustrate major theological points. His rhetorical technique of persuasion can be described in terms of "soft power" which aims at shaping the preferences of others through appeal and attraction by involving the use of cultural influence. In this technique he is partly imitating the biblical style itself as evident both in the Gospels and Paul, and partly employing a pagan rhetorical approach where examples were a core feature in illustrating an argumentative point. This paper intends to analyse passages from a wide range of Origen's works in order to illustrate how he drew on role models both of high rank and taken from everyday life in order to demonstrate that salvation as brought about by the Christian God was meant to be directed towards all human beings.

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