Elizabeth Ann Dively Lauro discusses the theologian Origen’s employment of three distinct senses of scriptural meaning within his exegetical theory and practice: somatic (bodily, factually historical), psychic (pertaining to the soul, a figurative call to shun vice and grow in virtue), and pneumatic (spiritual, revealing God’s plan of salvation through Christ’s incarnation). The author first establishes that a correct understanding of the mechanics of Origen’s exegesis is vital to an informed reading of his works, then cites Origen’s theoretical foundations for each sense. She ultimately demonstrates how the relationship between the two “higher senses” (psychic and pneumatic) is central to Origen’s exegetical efforts and facilitates his audience’s spiritual transformation.
Elizabeth Ann Dively Lauro, Ph.D. (2002) in Theology, University of Notre Dame, is currently a research scholar and teaches early Christian history at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She has served the past several years on the Archdiocesan Theological Commission for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and has published a translation volume of Origen’s homilies as well as articles on his exegetical method and eschatological theology.