The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis

A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena


Author: Ilaria Ramelli
The theory of apokatastasis (restoration), most famously defended by the Alexandrian exegete, philosopher and theologian Origen, has its roots in both Greek philosophy and Jewish-Christian Scriptures and literature, and became a major theologico-soteriological doctrine in patristics. This monograph—the first comprehensive, systematic scholarly study of the history of the Christian apokatastasis doctrine—argues its presence and Christological and Biblical foundation in numerous Christian thinkers, including Syriac, and analyses its origins, meaning, and development over eight centuries, from the New Testament to Eriugena, the last patristic philosopher. Surprises await readers of this book, which results from fifteen years of research. For instance, they will discover that even Augustine, in his anti-Manichaean phase, supported the theory of universal restoration.

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Ilaria Ramelli, Ph.D.(2000), has been Professor of Roman Near East History, and Assistant in Ancient Philosophy (Catholic University, since 2003); she is also Senior visiting Professor of Greek Thought, of Church History, Senior Fellow (Durham), Theology Chair, academic and scientific consultant, research director, and member of directive boards of scholarly journals and series. She has written many books and articles on patristics in outstanding scholarly series and journals and received prestigious academic prizes.
'This deeply impressive study is the fruit of sixteen years of research into the history of early Christian belief in universal salvation. In almost 900 pages of carefully argued analysis, Ramelli leaves no stone unturned in her attempt to recover a story that has never before been told with anything like this much attention to the range and depth of evidence. ... One of the highlights of the book for me was the careful tracing of the roots of the idea... This work will unquestionably be the go-to book on the doctrine of apokatastasis for many years to come.'

Robin A. Parry, International Journal of Systematic Theology 18.3 (2016) 335-338.

'A remarkable book … Let me conclude by stressing the scholarly quality of a book that rests on many years of laborious research. It is clearly written, abundantly documented, engagingly argued, and meticulously proof-read… not just an exemplary treatment of the doctrine of apokatastasis but also a mine of information about a range of issues in early and medieval Christian theology… It will be the standard work on the subject for a long time and a book of reference for advanced students of early and medieval Christianity.'

George Karamanolis, International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 10.1 (2016), pp. 142-146

"The most definitive account of the oft-controversial Christian version of the doctrine of the apokatastasis, or restoration/reintegration/reconstitution’ – and will probably remain such for a considerable time ... a jewel in the crown of books on Patristics, Early Christian Studies, and Christian Philosophy.... a book that cuts to the very core of theological thought, dialogue, and controversy in early Christianity. Highly recommended!"

Chris L. De Wet, Journal of Early Christian History 5.2 (2015) 1–3

A rich and provocative study ... surely by far the most erudite attempt to prove the orthodoxy of apokatastasis ... We shall need no further evidence that Christian belief can be sustained without the prospect of an everlasting hell.

Mark J. Edwards, Journal of Theological Studies 65.2, 2014

An impressive book

Johannes van Oort, Vigiliae Christianae 64 (2014)

In the course of this stunning work, Ilaria Ramelli explores with wonderful learning and precision the doctrine of universal salvation … the impressive feature of this volume is the amount of scholarship brought to bear on the central issue … an amazing combination of breadth and accuracy … amazing learning and complexity.

Anthony Meredith SJ, International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 8.2 (2014) 255-257

Ilaria Ramelli’s tome ... is a labor of manifest erudition and capability. ...The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis is a treasury of philosophical, theological, exegetical, historical, and philological insights of great value to the philosophical theologian.

Steven Nemes, Fuller Theological Seminary. Journal of Analytic Theology, Vol. 3, May 2015

' What Ramelli has done, is to marshal all the possible textual evidence with which scholars will have to contend in future years and in doing so she has done us a fine service.'

Morwenna Ludlow, University of Exeter, Journal of Ecclesiastical History Volume 66 (July 2015)

1. The Roots of the Doctrine of Apokatastasis

2. Origen’s First Followers in Alexandria and the East, and his First “Detractors”

3. Origen’s Apologists and Followers, the Cappadocians, Evagrius, the Antiochenes, and Fourth-Century Latin Origenians

4.From Augustine to Eriugena. Latin, Greek and Syriac Receptions of Origen;s Apokatastasis Theory
Scholars in patristics, Theology, esp. eschatology, Church history, Religious studies, Scripture, Early Christianity, Late Antiquity, Ancient Philosophy, Classics; graduate students; anyone in the learned public interested in Christianity and salvation.