Hastings Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, page 239, has the following entry.
Clement wrote, “The Male is Christ, and the Female is the Church. And the Book and the Apostles plainly declare that the Church existed not now for the first time, but comes from on high, for she was spiritual, as our Jesus also was spiritual, but is manifested in the last days that He might save us.” (14:1-2) This points to an ante-mortal relationship between Christ and the Church, during which Christ was chosen and foreordained to become the future sacrifice for His brethren. (1 Peter 1:19-20)
Origen, the greatest of the early church theologians, declared that he still favoured the Doctrine (De Principales I.7:4-5, and III.5:4), as did Justin Martyr, Augustine, Cyril of Jerusalem, Pierius, John of Jerusalem, Rufinus, Nemesius, and the Western Church generally until the time of Gregory the Great. [End quote]
Augustine condemned the idea that the soul sinned in its pre-existence and is being punished on earth, without condemning the doctrine of pre-existence itself, while Origen even suggests that earth-life is a reward rather than a punishment.
In The Shepherd of Hermas (A.D. 160; Visions 2.4:1) we read about the pre-existent church, that “she was created before all things . . . for her sake was the world framed.”
Heracleon (Commentary on John’s Gospel chapter 2) explains that in Matthew 13:33-38, the souls of men were sown as “leaven” amongst the tares, i.e. as “children of the kingdom” in “the field of the world.” This theme, often repeated in early writings, is known as “the scattering of souls in bodies”. The idea that souls were “sown” into bodies was taken for granted by early theologians, for example Origen’s Contra Celsus 5:29, which refers to “the doctrine of the entrance of souls into bodies” as a secret that should be protected by the Church.
Although there was a division of opinion amongst early Christian authors as to Origen’s doctrine of pre-existence, his unique standing as theologian par excellence, was certainly one of the reasons why the doctrine was known about and adhered to by quite the majority of Christians in the first four centuries A.D. It received its quietus in A.D. 553, when the doctrines of Universalism and Pre-existence were attacked by the Emperor Justinian, and the 2nd Council of Constantinople. Thereafter, the subject of pre-existence became scarce in theological literature.