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Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity$
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John David Dawson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520226302

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520226302.001.0001

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The Preservation of Historical Reality: Auerbach and Origen

The Preservation of Historical Reality: Auerbach and Origen

(p.114) Chapter 5 The Preservation of Historical Reality: Auerbach and Origen
Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity

John David Dawson

University of California Press

This chapter discusses the preservation of the historicity of ancient biblical figures. It looks at the different ideas Erich Auerbach and Origen have on the subject. The start of the chapter includes Auerbach's praise of early Christian figural reading and an attack on ancient allegorical reading, which includes Origen's. It shows that Origenist allegorical reading dissolved history in favor of abstract or spiritual meaning. Through a careful comparison of Origen and Auerbach, it is revealed that both thinkers want to “preserve” historical reality. Auerbach believed that preserving history means allowing the existing, bodily reality of past events and persons to persist into the present events or persons that “fulfill” them. Origen, on the other hand, believed that the past is preserved whenever past events become present possibilities.

Keywords:   preservation, historicity, ancient biblical figures, Erich Auerbach, Origen, allegorical reading, Origenist, historical reality, figural reading

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