New critical edition of Origen, De principiis

This one somehow slipped under my radar last year, but is too important not to mention. John Behr (of St. Vladmir’s) has published the first volume of a new critical edition (Greek/Latin with facing English translation) of Origen of Alexandria’s theological tour-de-force, On First Principles (De principiis). This treatise is indispensable for anyone working with late ancient philosophy or early Christian theology (a colleague of mine once introduced Origen to his students as the most influential Christian writer of antiquity after the Apostle Paul). Behr’s work is a major step beyond Butterworth’s translation, which is quite good and remains useful (esp. since it became widely available in paperback for the first time, finally, in 2013) but which does not include an apparatus with Rufinus’s Latin nor the Greek fragments. Having worked through a few passages, I can say that Behr improves the felicity and accuracy of Butterworth’s translation, and the overall experience of working with the text is eased considerably by having the Greek and Latin close at hand. Behr has also written a very useful and extensive introduction to the work which takes into account the enormous steps made in scholarship on Origen since Butterworth.

Fazit: Butterworth remains a handy go-to, but for the serious work on Princ. in English there is a new sheriff in town.