The aim of this paper is to show that the Alexandrian Fathers, Clement and Origen, helped shape subsequent philosophy and theology in the West by following a selective line from the tradition at their disposal. I shall try to give evidence that the tradition was richer, more ambivalent, than they recognized, and that by their failure to honor the whole tradition they narrowed the vision of Christian theology and therefore of Western philosophy as well. Whether one could support such a large thesis by tracing the story further, examining the rival philosophical schools of our own day, for instance linguistic analysis and existential phenomenology, as examples of similar selections within the tradition, is another question. Meanwhile, it may be helpful to approach the Alexandrians, about whom so much has been written of polemical and apologetic nature, with this larger theme in mind.
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