Guest Post by Protodeacon Brian Patrick Mitchell
Is the difference of male and female to be “completely shaken off” so that men and women are no longer men and women but merely human beings? The great seventh-century saint Maximus the Confessor said yes, but such thinking is difficult if not impossible to reconcile with much else in Christian tradition that obliges men and women to live as either men or women.
Origen’s Revenge contrasts the two main sources of early Christian thinking on male and female: the generally negative view of Greek philosophy, limiting sexual distinction to the body and holding the body in low regard, and the much more positive view of Hebrew Scripture, in which sexual distinction and reproduction are both deemed naturally good and necessary for human existence.
These two views account for much of the controversy in early Christianity concerning marriage and monasticism. They also still contribute to current controversies over sex roles, gender identity, and sexual ethics.
Origen’s Revenge also develops the more Hebrew line of early Christian thought to propose a new understanding of male and female with a firmer grounding in scripture, tradition, theology, and philosophy and with profound implications for all human relationships, whether social, political, or spiritual.
Brian Patrick Mitchell is a former soldier, journalist, and speechwriter and the author of many books and articles on politics and religion, including, most recently, Origen’s Revenge: The Greek and Hebrew Roots of Christian Thinking on Male and Female, just released by Pickwick Publications, an imprint of Wipf and Stock. He also recently published a scholarly analysis of the disappearance of deaconesses from the early Church, entitled The Disappearing Deaconess. Other books include a work of descriptive political theory that has been used to teach politics at Yale and elsewhere (Eight Ways to the Run the Country) and an epic historical romance (A Crown of Life: A Novel of the Great Persecution).