Origen was born around 185, probably in Alexandria. Entrusted with catechesis in Alexandria, he found himself in conflict with the bishop and retired to Caesarea in Palestine in 230, where he spent practically the rest of his life, entirely devoted to the study of the Bible. He made several journeys when called as an expert in various controversies. Considered a great theologian in his time, he was consulted on all sides and always showed a great concern for orthodoxy and fidelity to the Church in his teaching and homilies. He died in Tyre shortly after 250, as a result of the persecution of Decius.
A Greek theologian and exegete of exceptional stature, he was the author of a particularly voluminous body of work – Jerome says that it numbered 2000 books, though we know of 800 titles. This corpus is mainly preserved in the Latin translations of Rufinus and Jerome, as it was condemned posthumously in 553, at the Second Council of Constantinople, on the basis of partial information. In spite of this, it exerted an immense influence in the Latin West, but also among the Greek Fathers. In addition to the many scholarly commentaries and homilies in which Origen explains the Scriptures according to three levels of meaning – literal, moral (allegorical) and mystical – his works include On First Principles, written at a young age, which deals with the theological issues of the time; his great work of textual criticism, the edition of the Old Testament with parallel translations (the Hexapla), which is essentially lost today; and Against Celsus, written towards the end of his life, which is the most important ante-Nicene apology.