Who Reads the Stars? Origen of Alexandria on Ethnic Reasoning and Astrological Discourse

Authored by: Kathleen Gibbons

The Routledge Handbook of Identity and the Environment in the Classical and Medieval Worlds

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415738057
eBook ISBN: 9781315686622
Adobe ISBN: 9781317415701


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‘Determinism’ is a term one often finds in discussions of the history of ideas, and yet is also something of a vexed category, in part because of the different implications it carries in various scholarly contexts. In contemporary studies concerning the intersection between early Christianity and ethical discourses, the term has often been invoked in the construction of ‘orthodoxy’ and ‘heresy.’ In many quarters of scholarship in the history of religions, ‘determinism’ has sometimes been taken as a polemical slur found especially in heresiological literature, where it has been understood to imply a denial of human agency or as an espousal of cosmic pessimism. Wilfrid Löhr, for instance, has described “the cliché of Gnostic determinism” as “part of a distinct heresiological tradition.” 1

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