The theory of universal restoration (apokatastasis), the eventual eviction of evil and the purification, conversion and salvation of all rational creatures, was prominent in early Christian thinkers and present in more Patristic theologians than is commonly assumed. But, besides having philosophical, Biblical, and Jewish roots, may it have stemmed from another religion? The only suitable candidate would be Zoroastrianism. An analysis of the available sources concerning Zoroastrian eschatology shows that it is improbable that this may have influenced the Christian apokatastasis doctrine. At least, it is impossible to prove anything like this, mainly for chronological reasons. Fruitful interactions may, however, have occurred at the time of Bardaisan. This essays shows the importance of comparative religio-historical studies, and the reconceptualizing of theological doctrines into social discourse, for research into early Christianity.
This essay will argue that in several – often unnoticed – respects patristic exegesis can be relevant to contemporary biblical hermeneutics and can be a source of fruitful inspiration for it. From several quarters, contemporary scholars have called for an integrative approach to biblical hermeneutics, especially one that conjoins the historico-critical method and theological hermeneutics. A similar integrative approach was already adopted by patristic exegetes in Origen’s line, with their integration of historical reading and noetic exegesis, and with their hermeneutics of multiplicity that is another respect in which patristic exegesis proves highly relevant to contemporary biblical hermeneutics. The present relevance of scriptural passages is also a core principle of both patristic exegesis and contemporary hermeneutics, as well as the tenet of the unity of Scripture, which was emphasised by patristic exegetes and is to be taken into account in contemporary biblical hermeneutics with respect to the Bible as supertext. Also, philosophical investigation applied to scriptural hermeneutics is one of the most remarkable features of Origen’s and his followers’ hermeneutics. A reflection will thus be devoted to the relationship between philosophy and biblical hermeneutics, as well as between theology and philosophy, and a parallel will be drawn with philosophy of religion.