Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Christology

Christology

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Christology'
Start a new discussion about 'Christology'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Christology is the field of study within Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

 which is primarily concerned with the nature and person of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

. Primary considerations include the relationship of Jesus' nature and person with the nature and person of God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

. As such, Christology is concerned with the details of Jesus' life (what he did) and his teachings (what he said)
Ministry of Jesus
In the Christian gospels, the Ministry of Jesus begins with his Baptism in the countryside of Judea, near the River Jordan and ends in Jerusalem, following the Last Supper with his disciples. The Gospel of Luke states that Jesus was "about 30 years of age" at the start of his ministry...

 in order to arrive at a clearer understanding of who he is in his person, and his role in salvation.

A major component of the Christology of the Apostolic Age
Apostolic Age
The Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity is traditionally the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Great Commission in Jerusalem until the death of John the Apostle in Anatolia...

 was that of Saint Paul whose central themes were the notion of the pre-existence of Christ
Pre-existence of Christ
The pre-existence of Christ refers to the doctrine of the ontological or personal existence of Christ before his conception. One of the relevant Bible passages is where, in the Trinitarian view, Christ is identified with a pre-existent divine hypostasis called the Logos or Word...

 and the worship of Christ as Kyrios
Kyrios (biblical term)
The Greek word Kyrios may mean God, lord or master. It is used in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.Kyrios appears about 740 times in the New Testament, usually referring to Jesus. The use of Kyrios in the New Testament has been the subject of debate among modern scholars, and three...

(the Lord). Following the Apostolic Age
Apostolic Age
The Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity is traditionally the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Great Commission in Jerusalem until the death of John the Apostle in Anatolia...

, there was fierce and often politicized debate in the early churches
Early centers of Christianity
Early Christianity spread from Western Asia, throughout the Roman Empire, and beyond into East Africa and South Asia, reaching as far as India. At first, this development was closely connected to centers of Hebrew faith, in the Holy Land and the Jewish diaspora...

 on many interrelated issues. Christology was a major focus of these debates, and was addressed at every one of the early ecumenical councils, with the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 in 451 reaching a consensus that is still widely held today and referred to as Chalcedonian Christianity. Due to politically charged differences in the 4th century
Christianity in the 4th century
Christianity in the 4th century was dominated by Constantine the Great, and the First Council of Nicea of 325, which was the beginning of the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils and the attempt to reach an orthodox consensus and to establish a unified Christendom as the State church of...

, schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

s among denominations developed.

In the 13th century
Christianity in the 13th century
The Eastern Roman imperial church headed by Constantinople continued to assert its universal authority. By the 13th century this assertion was becoming increasingly irrelevant as the Eastern Roman Empire shrank and the Ottoman Turks took over most of what was left of the Empire...

 Saint Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 provided the first systematic Christology that consistently resolved a number of the existing issues. In his Christology from above, Aquinas also championed the principle of perfection of Christ's human attributes. The Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 also witnessed the emergence of the "tender image of Jesus" as a friend and a living source of love and comfort, rather than just the Kyrios image.

According to theologian Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner, SJ was a German Jesuit and theologian who, alongside Bernard Lonergan and Hans Urs von Balthasar, is considered one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century...

, the purpose of modern Christology is to formulate the Christian belief that "God became man and that God-made-man is the individual Jesus Christ" in a manner that this statement can be understood consistently, without the confusions of past debates and mythologies.

Terms and concepts



Over the centuries, a number of terms and concepts have been developed within the framework of Christology to address the seemingly simple questions: "who was Jesus and what did he do?" A good deal of theological debate has ensued and significant schisms within Christian denominations took place in the process of providing answers to these questions. After the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 systematic approaches to Christology were developed.

The term Christology from above refers to approaches that begin with the Divinity and pre-existence of Christ
Pre-existence of Christ
The pre-existence of Christ refers to the doctrine of the ontological or personal existence of Christ before his conception. One of the relevant Bible passages is where, in the Trinitarian view, Christ is identified with a pre-existent divine hypostasis called the Logos or Word...

 as the Logos (the Word), as expressed in the first sections of the Gospel of John. These approaches interpret the works of Christ in terms of his Divinity. Christology from above was emphasized in the ancient Church, beginning with Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology...

 in the 2nd century. The term Christology from below, on the other hand, refers to approaches that begin with the human aspects and the ministry of Jesus (including the miracles, parables, etc.) and move towards his Divinity and the mystery of Incarnation.

The concept of Cosmic Christology, was first elaborated by Saint Paul and focuses on how the arrival of Jesus as the Son of God
Son of God
"Son of God" is a phrase which according to most Christian denominations, Trinitarian in belief, refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as "God the Son"...

 forever changed the nature of the cosmos. The terms functional, ontological
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

and soteriological have been used to refer to the perspectives that analyze the "works", the "being" and the "salvific" standpoints of Christology. Some essential sub-topics within the field of Christology include the incarnation
Incarnation (Christianity)
The Incarnation in traditional Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ the second person of the Trinity, also known as God the Son or the Logos , "became flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos .The Incarnation is a fundamental theological...

, the resurrection
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

, and salvation.

The term monastic Christology has been used to describe spiritual approaches developed by Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury , also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109...

, Peter Abelard
Peter Abelard
Peter Abelard was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent logician. The story of his affair with and love for Héloïse has become legendary...

 and Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order.After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian order. Three years later, he was sent to found a new abbey at an isolated clearing in a glen known as the Val...

. The Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 piety of the 12th and 13th centuries led to popular Christology. Systematic approaches by theologians such as Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 are called scholastic Christology.

Beginnings


Early Christians found themselves confronted with a set of new concepts and ideas relating to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

, as well the notions of salvation and redemption
Redeemer (Christianity)
In Christian theology, Jesus is sometimes referred to as a Redeemer. This refers to the salvation he is believed to have accomplished, and is based on the metaphor of redemption, or "buying back". Although the New Testament does not use the title "Redeemer", the word "redemption" is used in several...

, and had to use a new set of terms, images and ideas to deal with them. The existing terms and structures available to them were often insufficient to express these new set of religious concepts, and taken together, these new forms of discourse lead to the beginnings of Christology, as an attempt to understand, explain and discuss their understanding of the nature of Christ.

Furthermore, as early Christians (following the Great Commission
Great Commission
The Great Commission, in Christian tradition, is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing missionary work, evangelism, and baptism...

) had to explain their concepts to a new audience which
had at times been influenced by Greek philosophy, they had to present arguments that at times
resonated with, and at times confronted the beliefs of that audience. A key example is Apostle Paul's Areopagus sermon
Areopagus sermon
The Areopagus sermon refers to a sermon delivered by Apostle Paul in Athens, at the Areopagus, and described in .The Areopagus sermon is the most dramatic and fullest speech of the missionary career of Saint Paul and followed a shorter address in Lystra ....

 that appears in . Here the apostle attempted to convey the underlying concepts about Christ to a Greek audience and the sermon illustrates some key elements of future Christological discourses that were first brought forward by Paul.

The Kyrios title for Jesus is central to the development of New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 Christology, for the early Christians
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 placed it at the center of their understanding and from that center attempted to understand the other issues related to the Christian mysteries. The question of the deity of Christ in the New Testament is inherently related to the Kyrios title of Jesus used in the early Christian writings and its implications for the absolute lordship of Jesus. In early Christian belief, the concept of Kyrios included the Pre-existence of Christ
Pre-existence of Christ
The pre-existence of Christ refers to the doctrine of the ontological or personal existence of Christ before his conception. One of the relevant Bible passages is where, in the Trinitarian view, Christ is identified with a pre-existent divine hypostasis called the Logos or Word...

 for they believed that if Christ is one with God, he must have been united with God from the very beginning.

In everyday Aramaic, Mari was a very respectful form of polite address, which means more than just "Teacher" and was somewhat similar to Rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

. In Greek this has at times been translated as Kyrios. While the term Mari expressed the relationship between Jesus and his disciples during his life, the Greek Kyrios came to represent his lordship over the world.

Apostolic Christology


No writings were left by Jesus, and the study of the various Christologies of the Apostolic Age
Apostolic Age
The Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity is traditionally the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Great Commission in Jerusalem until the death of John the Apostle in Anatolia...

 is based on early Christian documents. The Gospels provide episodes from the life of Jesus and some of his works, but the authors of the New Testament show little interest in an absolute chronology of Jesus or in synchronizing the episodes of his life, and as in John 21:25 the Gospels do not claim to be an exhaustive list of his works.

Christologies that can be gleaned from the three Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

 generally emphasize the humanity of Jesus, his sayings, his parables
Parables of Jesus
The parables of Jesus can be found in all the Canonical gospels as well as in some of the non-canonical gospels but are located mainly within the three synoptic gospels. They represent a key part of the teachings of Jesus, forming approximately one third of his recorded teachings...

, and his miracles
Miracles of Jesus
The miracles of Jesus are the supernatural deeds of Jesus, as recorded in Gospels, in the course of his ministry. According to the Gospel of John, only some of these were recorded. states that "Jesus did many other things as well...

. The Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 provides a different perspective that focuses on his divinity. The first fourteen verses of the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 are devoted to the divinity of Jesus as the Logos, usually translated as Word, along with his preexistence
Pre-existence of Christ
The pre-existence of Christ refers to the doctrine of the ontological or personal existence of Christ before his conception. One of the relevant Bible passages is where, in the Trinitarian view, Christ is identified with a pre-existent divine hypostasis called the Logos or Word...

, and they emphasize the cosmic significance of Christ, e.g. : "All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." In the context of these verses, the Word made flesh is identical with the Word who was in the beginning with God, being exegetically equated with Jesus.

A foremost contributor to the Christology of the Apostolic Age is that of Paul. The central Christology of Paul conveys the notion of Christ's preexistence and the identification of Christ as Kyrios
Kyrios (biblical term)
The Greek word Kyrios may mean God, lord or master. It is used in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.Kyrios appears about 740 times in the New Testament, usually referring to Jesus. The use of Kyrios in the New Testament has been the subject of debate among modern scholars, and three...

. The Pauline epistles
Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents...

 use Kyrios to identify Jesus almost 230 times, and express the theme that the true mark of a Christian is the confession of Jesus as the true Lord. Paul viewed the superiority of the Christian revelation over all other divine manifestations as a consequence of the fact that Christ is the Son of God
Son of God
"Son of God" is a phrase which according to most Christian denominations, Trinitarian in belief, refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as "God the Son"...

.

The Pauline epistles also advanced the cosmic Christology of the fourth gospel, elaborating the cosmic implications of Jesus' existence as the Son of God, as in : "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." Also, in : "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation."

Post-Apostolic controversies


Following the Apostolic Age
Apostolic Age
The Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity is traditionally the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Great Commission in Jerusalem until the death of John the Apostle in Anatolia...

, from the 2nd century onwards, a number of controversies developed about how the human and divine are related within the person of Jesus. As of the 2nd century, a number of different and opposing approaches developed among various groups. For example, Arianism
Arianism
Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius , a Christian presbyter from Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of the entities of the Trinity and the precise nature of the Son of God as being a subordinate entity to God the Father...

 did not endorse divinity, Ebionism argued that Jesus was an ordinary mortal, while Gnosticism
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 held docetic
Docetism
In Christianity, docetism is the belief that Jesus' physical body was an illusion, as was his crucifixion; that is, Jesus only seemed to have a physical body and to physically die, but in reality he was incorporeal, a pure spirit, and hence could not physically die...

 views which argued that Christ was a spiritual being that only appeared to have a physical body. The resulting tensions lead to schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

s within the church in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and ecumenical councils were convened in the 4th and 5th centuries to deal with the issues. Eventually in 451 the Hypostatic union
Hypostatic union
Hypostatic union is a technical term in Christian theology employed in mainstream Christology to describe the union of Christ's humanity and divinity in one hypostasis.The First Council of Ephesus recognised this doctrine and affirmed its importance, stating that the...

was decreed, namely that Jesus is both fully divine and fully human, making this part of the creed of Orthodox Christianity
Orthodox Christianity
The term Orthodox Christianity may refer to:* the Eastern Orthodox Church and its various geographical subdivisions...

. Although some of the debates seemed to be over a theological iota
Iota
Iota is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 10. It was derived from the Phoenician letter Yodh . Letters that arose from this letter include the Roman I and J and the Cyrillic І , Yi , Je , and iotified letters .Iota represents...

, they took place in controversial political circumstances and resulted in a schism that formed the Church of the East
Church of the East
The Church of the East tāʾ d-Maḏnḥāʾ), also known as the Nestorian Church, is a Christian church, part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. Originally the church of the Persian Sassanid Empire, it quickly spread widely through Asia...

.

In 325 the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 defined the persons of the Godhead
Godhead (Christianity)
Godhead is a Middle English variant of the word godhood, and denotes the Divine Nature or Substance of the Christian God, or the Trinity. Within some traditions such as Mormonism, the term is used as a nontrinitarian substitute for the term Trinity, denoting the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit not as...

 and their relationship with one another - decisions which were re-ratified at the First Council of Constantinople
First Council of Constantinople
The First Council of Constantinople is recognized as the Second Ecumenical Council by the Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholics, the Old Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups. It was the first Ecumenical Council held in...

 in 381. The language used was that the one God exists in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit); in particular it was affirmed that the Son was homoousios (of same substance) as the Father. The Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed is the creed or profession of faith that is most widely used in Christian liturgy. It is called Nicene because, in its original form, it was adopted in the city of Nicaea by the first ecumenical council, which met there in the year 325.The Nicene Creed has been normative to the...

 declared the full divinity and full humanity of Jesus.

In 431, the First Council of Ephesus was initially called to address the views of Nestorius
Nestorius
Nestorius was Archbishop of Constantinople from 10 April 428 to 22 June 431.Drawing on his studies at the School of Antioch, his teachings, which included a rejection of the long-used title of Theotokos for the Virgin Mary, brought him into conflict with other prominent churchmen of the time,...

 on Mariology
Mariology
Roman Catholic Mariology is theology concerned with the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ as developed by the Catholic Church. Roman Catholic teachings on the subject have been based on the belief that "The Blessed Virgin, because she is the Mother of God, is believed to hold a certain...

, but the problems soon extended to Christology, and schisms followed. The 431 council was called because in defense of his loyal priest Anastasius, Nestorius had denied the Theotokos title
Theotokos
Theotokos is the Greek title of Mary, the mother of Jesus used especially in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Churches. Its literal English translations include God-bearer and the one who gives birth to God. Less literal translations include Mother of God...

for Mary and later contradicted Proclus
Proclus
Proclus Lycaeus , called "The Successor" or "Diadochos" , was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, one of the last major Classical philosophers . He set forth one of the most elaborate and fully developed systems of Neoplatonism...

 during a sermon in Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. Pope Celestine I (who was already upset with Nestorius due to other matters) wrote about this to Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He came to power when the city was at its height of influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the later 4th and 5th centuries...

 who orchesterated the council. During the council Nestorius defended his position by arguing that there must be two persons of Christ, one human, the other Divine, and Mary had given birth only to a human and hence could not be called the Theotokos, i.e. the one who gives birth to God. The debate about the single or dual nature of Christ ensued in Ephesus.

The Council of Ephesus debated hypostasis
Hypostatic union
Hypostatic union is a technical term in Christian theology employed in mainstream Christology to describe the union of Christ's humanity and divinity in one hypostasis.The First Council of Ephesus recognised this doctrine and affirmed its importance, stating that the...

 (co-existing natures) versus monophysitism
Monophysitism
Monophysitism , or Monophysiticism, is the Christological position that Jesus Christ has only one nature, his humanity being absorbed by his Deity...

 (only one nature) versus miaphysitism
Miaphysitism
Miaphysitism is a Christological formula of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and of the various churches adhering to the first three Ecumenical Councils...

 (two natures united as one) versus Nestorianism
Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428–431. The doctrine, which was informed by Nestorius's studies under Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch, emphasizes the disunion between the human and divine natures of Jesus...

 (disunion of two natures). From the Christological viewpoint, the council adopted hyposthasis, i.e. co-existing natures, but its language was less definitive than the 451 Council of Chalcedon. The Oriental Orthodox rejected this and subsequent councils and to date consider themselves to be miaphysite. By contrast, to date Roman Catholics believe in the hypostatic union
Hypostatic union
Hypostatic union is a technical term in Christian theology employed in mainstream Christology to describe the union of Christ's humanity and divinity in one hypostasis.The First Council of Ephesus recognised this doctrine and affirmed its importance, stating that the...

 and the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

. The council also confirmed the Theotokos title and excommunicated Nestorius.

The 451 Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 was highly influential and marked a key turning point in the Christological debates that broke apart the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th century. It is the last council which many Anglicans and most Protestants consider ecumenical. It fully promulgated the hypostatic union
Hypostatic union
Hypostatic union is a technical term in Christian theology employed in mainstream Christology to describe the union of Christ's humanity and divinity in one hypostasis.The First Council of Ephesus recognised this doctrine and affirmed its importance, stating that the...

, stating that the human and divine natures of Christ co-exist, yet each is distinct and complete. Although, the Chalcedonian Creed
Chalcedonian Creed
The Confession of Chalcedon , also known as the Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union or the Two-Nature Doctrine, was adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 in Asia Minor. That Council of Chalcedon is one of the first seven Ecumenical Councils accepted by Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and many...

 did not put an end to all Christological debate, it did clarify the terms used and became a point of reference for many future Christologies. Most of the major branches of Christianity —Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

, Lutheranism
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

, and Reformed
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

 — subscribe to the Chalcedonian Christological formulation, while many branches of Eastern Christianity - Syrian Orthodoxy
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

, Assyrian Church
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

, Coptic Orthodoxy, Ethiopian Orthodoxy, and Armenian Apostolicism
Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest National Church, is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, and is one of the most ancient Christian communities. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, in establishing this church...

 - reject it.

Middle Ages to the Reformation


While the concept of Kyrios dominated the Christology of the Apostolic Age
Apostolic Age
The Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity is traditionally the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Great Commission in Jerusalem until the death of John the Apostle in Anatolia...

, an important supplementary element emerged in the Middle Ages. Based on the influences of Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury , also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109...

, Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order.After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian order. Three years later, he was sent to found a new abbey at an isolated clearing in a glen known as the Val...

 and women mystics the "tender image of Jesus" as a friend and a source of love and comfort was developed. This contrasted with the images of Jesus as the Lord and as the key to eventual salvation based on his sacrifice at Calvary. The Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

 approach to popular piety strengthened this friendly image. According to Archbishop Rowan Williams
Rowan Williams
Rowan Douglas Williams FRSL, FBA, FLSW is an Anglican bishop, poet and theologian. He is the 104th and current Archbishop of Canterbury, Metropolitan of the Province of Canterbury and Primate of All England, offices he has held since early 2003.Williams was previously Bishop of Monmouth and...

 this made an important impact within the Christian Ministry by allowing Christians to feel the living presence of Jesus as a loving figure "who is always there to harbor and nurture those who turn to him for help and take delight in his presence".

The Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, between the 5th and 15th centuries, ushered in three new aspects of Christology: monastic, popular and academic. The spiritual and monastic perspectives were due to Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury , also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109...

, Peter Abelard
Peter Abelard
Peter Abelard was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent logician. The story of his affair with and love for Héloïse has become legendary...

 and Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order.After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian order. Three years later, he was sent to found a new abbey at an isolated clearing in a glen known as the Val...

, each focusing on a different variation of that theme. The popular piety
Popular piety
Popular piety refers to religious practices that arose and occur outside of the official Church. Typically the term is used within the context of the Catholic church, the practices are generally accepted and allowed...

 championed by the Franciscan
Franciscan
Most Franciscans are members of Roman Catholic religious orders founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. Besides Roman Catholic communities, there are also Old Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, ecumenical and Non-denominational Franciscan communities....

s led to a more widespread appreciation of Christology from the Middle Ages onwards. At the same time, European Universities embarked on a systematic and scholarly approach to Christology, with Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 being the key figure in that arena.

Some key theological figures in this period such as Saint Augustine or John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 never wrote specific works on Christology, yet modern scholars have attempted to extract Christological insights from their works, e.g. the study of Theocentricism
Theocentricism
Theocentricism is the belief that God is the central aspect to our existence, as opposed to, for instance, anthropocentrism or existentialism ....

 in the writings of Augustine and the analysis of Christ as "King, priest and prophet" in the writings of Calvin.

During the Middle Ages, many of the conflicts between Scripture and tradition were resolved through the construction of theological arguments, and were presented in terms of summae, which summed up complete presentations of discussions that led to knowledge. The apex of these in the 13th century, was provided by Saint Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

. His Summa Theologiae
Summa Theologica
The Summa Theologiæ is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas , and although unfinished, "one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature." It is intended as a manual for beginners in theology and a compendium of all of the main...

 presented the first systematic Christology that consistently resolved a number of the existing issues. In his Christology from above, Aquinas also championed the principle of perfection of Christ, namely that in every human sense, Jesus was the best that could ever be.

The question of "grace" was at the heart of the Reformation, which Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 initiated. This amounted to the question of where do I find a gracious God? Luther believed that the saving work of Christ is imputed for the remission of sins via the words of the gospels. This led to his fourfold formula of solo Christo, sola gratia, sola fide, sola scriptura, i.e. only Christ, grace, faith and scripture. Martin Luther believed in the Creed of Chalcedon and that Jesus was both God and man. He viewed Incarnation
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

 as the union of God and man.

Person of Christ


The Person of Christ refers to the study of the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 as they co-exist within one person. There are no direct discussion in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 regarding the dual nature
Hypostatic union
Hypostatic union is a technical term in Christian theology employed in mainstream Christology to describe the union of Christ's humanity and divinity in one hypostasis.The First Council of Ephesus recognised this doctrine and affirmed its importance, stating that the...

 of the Person of Christ as both divine and human. Hence, since the early days of Christianity theologians have debated various approaches to the understanding of these natures, at times resulting in schisms.

Historically in the Alexandrian school of thought (fashioned on the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

) Jesus Christ is the eternal Logos who already possesses unity with the Father before the act of Incarnation
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

. In contrast, the Antiochian school views Christ as a single, unified human person apart from his relationship to the divine.

John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 maintained that there was no human element in the Person of Christ which could be separated from the person of The Word. Calvin also emphasized the importance of the "Work of Christ" in any attempt at understanding the Person of Christ and cautioned against ignoring the Works of Jesus during his ministry.

The study of the Person of Christ continued into the 20th century, with modern theologians such as Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner
Karl Rahner, SJ was a German Jesuit and theologian who, alongside Bernard Lonergan and Hans Urs von Balthasar, is considered one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century...

 and Hans von Balthasar
Hans Urs von Balthasar
Hans Urs von Balthasar was a Swiss theologian and priest who was nominated to be a cardinal of the Catholic Church...

. Rahner pointed out the coincidence between the Person of Christ and The Word of God, referring to Mark 8:38 and Luke 9:26 which state that whoever is ashamed of the words of Jesus is ashamed of the Lord himself. Balthasar argued that the union of the human and divine natures of Christ was achieved not by the "absorption" of human attributes but by their "assumption". Thus in his view the divine nature of Christ was not affected by the human attributes and remained forever divine.

Nativity and the Holy Name


The Nativity of Jesus
Nativity of Jesus
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....

 impacted the Christological issues about his Person from the earliest days of Christianity. Luke's Christology centers on the dialectics of the dual natures of the earthly and heavenly manifestations of existence of the Christ, while Matthew's Christology focuses on the mission of Jesus and his role as the savior. The salvific emphasis of Matthew 1:21 later impacted the theological issues and the devotions to Holy Name of Jesus
Holy Name of Jesus
In Christianity, the Holy Name of Jesus refers to the theological and devotional use of the name of Jesus. The reverence and affection with which Christians have regarded the Holy Name of Jesus goes back to the earliest days of Christianity....

.