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Different Interpretations of Christology

by Simon Lien-yueh Wei

 

C.E

Representative

Designation

Divine

nature

Human

nature

Nature

Person

Hypo-

stasis

Interpretation

1

Apostles

 

 

 

1

 

 

A person was indivisible one, fully divine and fully human.

1

Gnosticism

Marcionism

Docetism

 

0

 

 

 

Divine cannot suffer. The matter was impurity.

Hence, Christˇ¦s manhood and his suffering were unreal and phantasmal.

2

 

Ebionism

or Ebionites

0

1

 

 

 

They deny the divine nature in Christ. Christ is a complete human.

Ebionism was also called ˇ§The denomination of Poorˇ¨

2

Irenaeus

 

 

 

1

 

 

Christ is the unity of God-man, fully divine and fully human..

3

Tertullian

 

1

1

2

1

2

1 two natures or two substances in Christ, not confused but conjoined. Each of them preserves its peculiar qualities.

2 The divine spirit mingles God and man in Christ.

3 The Word governs Christˇ¦s humanity.

4 Christˇ¦s humanity was genuine and complete, including soul and body.

5 Christˇ¦s humanity can suffer and die. Christˇ¦s divinity cannot suffer and die.

6 After resurrection, Jesus preserve the substance and form of human flesh in heaven.

4

 

Arians

(Alexandria)

non-orthodox

1

0

1

 

 

1 A ˇ§Word-Fleshˇ¨ type of Christology--incomplete humanity

(The Word is not fully divine, is a creature, and is changeable.)

2 God became flesh, not became a man.

3 One nature, divine nature, in Christ.

4 Christ was not a complete man, lacking a human soul.

4

Athanasius

(Alexandria)

orthodox

 

 

 

1

1

 

1 A ˇ§Word-Fleshˇ¨ type of Christology

 (The Word is fully divine, and is unchangeable in Christ)

2 The Word became flesh

3 One and same Person.

4 The Word governs Christˇ¦s humanity

4

Eustathius

 

(Antiochene)

1

1

2

 

 

1 A ˇ§Word-manˇ¨ type of Christology--complete humanity

2 God became a man

3 Two nature in Christ

4 The Word dwell in humanity

4

Apollinarius

Apollinari-

anism

(Alexandria)

 

 

1

0

1

1

 

1 A ˇ§Word-Fleshˇ¨ type of Christology. Monophysite,

2 Christ was Godˇ¦s incarnation. Godˇ¦s spirit united with fresh in one nature.

3 There is one nature, the divine nature in Christ. Christ is a single, undivided Person.

4 This one nature composed of impassible divinity and passible flesh.

5 There is no human nature in Christ.

6 Christ did not have human mind or soul so that there were not two contradictory wills in Christ

7 The Word is fully divine is unchangeable in Christ so that there were no sin in Christ

*This theory was condemned as heresy because:

1. Docetism: Christ is not a complete human

2. If Christ was not a complete human, He could not save humans

4-5

Diodore of Tarsus

(Antiochene)

Nestorian

1

1

2

2

 

1 If the Word unites with the fresh, the divinity will be compromised by humanity.

2 Therefore, he opposes the unity of divinity and humanity.

3 Two natures and two Persons in Christ. They do not mix or conjoin.

4 distinguishes the Son of God and the son of David--the theory of Two Sons

* the theory of Two Sons = Nestorianism

4-5

Theodore and Nestorius

(Antiochene)

1

1

2

1

1

1 A ˇ§Word-manˇ¨ type of Christology

2 The perfect unity of two natures as one Person or one hypostasis in Christ

3 Two nature is united, but not mixed. Each natures is complete and independent.

* Nestorius was not a Nestorian (Kelly, Ch12, Sec.2, p316)

4-5

Cyril

(Alexandria)

1

1

1

1

1

1 The Word joins spirit, soul and flesh together in Christ.

2 The divinity unites to the whole of humanity, called the hypostatic union in Christ.

3 Divinity and humanity united in one nature and one hypostasis

4 Two natures are united closely in Christ. Hence, two natures cannot be distinguished in the union. Each nature is not independent. However, they also cannot be confused or mixed.

5 Christ is simultaneously God and man.

5

First Council of Ephesus  (431)

(Antiochene)

1

1

2

1

 

1 Two natures in Christ. His divinity is consubstantial with the Father. His humanity is consubstantial with us.

2 Christ is a complete God and complete man composed of a rational soul and a body.

3 Two natures are unite in one Person, but are not mixed.

5

Council of Chalcadon  (451)

(Antiochene)

1

1

2

1

1

1 Christ is One and is both human and divine

2 His divinity is consubstantial with the Father. His humanity is consubstantial with us.

3 Two natures in one person and hypostasis

4 the two natures are united without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation

5 Chalcedonian decree as a principle of Christology

 

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Two main contrasting Approaches of Christology

 

Alexandria-heresy: Arians, Apollinarianism

Antiochene-heresy: Diodore, Nestorian

1 ˇ§Word-Fleshˇ¨ type

1 one nature, divine nature

2 incomplete humanity in Christ.

3 Christ did not have human mind or soul

1 Two natures and two Persons in Christ.

2 They do not mix or conjoin.

3 distinguishes the Son of God and the son of David--the theory of Two Sons

Alexandria: Cyril

Antiochene: Theodore

1 The Word joins spirit, soul and flesh together in Christ.

2 The divinity unites to the whole of humanity, called the hypostatic union in Christ.

3 Divinity and humanity united in one nature and one hypostasis

4 Two natures are united closely. Hence, two natures cannot be distinguished in the union. Each nature is not independent. However, they also cannot be confused or mixed.

5 Christ is simultaneously God and man.

 

1 ˇ§Word-manˇ¨ type

2 two natures, divine nature and human nature

 

3 complete humanity in Christ. Christ has human mind and soul

4 Two natures are united, but not mixed. Hence, two natures can be distinguished in the union. Each nature is complete and independent.

Second Council of Ephesus  (449) Robber Synod or Brigandage

First Council of Ephesus  (431) Formula of Christology

The case of Eutyches

One nature in Christ

Monophysite

1 Two natures in Christ. His divinity is consubstantial with the Father. His humanity is consubstantial with us.

2 Christ is a complete God and complete man composed of a rational soul and a body.

3 Two natures are unite in one Person, but are not mixed.

 

 

Council of Chalcedon  (451)

 

1 Christ is One and is both human and divine

2 His divinity is consubstantial with the Father. His humanity is consubstantial with us.

3 Two natures in one person and hypostasis

4 the two natures are united without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation

5 Chalcedonian decree as a principle of Christology

 

 

Bibliography

Kelly, J.N.D., Early Christian Doctrines, (NY: Continuum, 1977)

Ferguson, S. B. & Wright, D. F., (editors), New Dictionary of Theology, (London: Leicester, IVP, 1988)

 

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