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From the Apostolic Age to Chalcedon (451)



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Imprimi potest: NIK. JUNK, S.J., Praep. Provo Germ. Illf. C%niae,
die 20 lulU, 1964

JOH GUNTER, GERHARTZ, S.]., Praep. Provo Germ. Inf. C%l1iae.

die 25 Novembris. 1974. pro editiolle altera

Nihil obstat: RICARDUS J. FOSTER, S.T.I.. L.S.S., cellsor deputatus

Imprimatur: + FRANCISCUS. Archiepiscopus Birmillgamiellsis
BirmillgClllliae. die 21a Augusti, 1964

T he Ni/'il obstlll and Imprilllntllr are a decla~acion that

a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from
doctrinal or m Ol'll l error. It is not impli ed that chose
who have granted the N ihil obsta! and [lIIprilllalllr
agree the contents, opinions orstatemems

Published in Great Britain by A. R. Mowbray

& Co. Limited and in the United States by
John Knox Press. @ A. R. Mowbray & Co.
Limited. First edition 1965, second edition

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Grillmeier, Aloys, 1910-

Christ in Christian tradition.

Bibliography: V. 1, p.
CONTENTS: V. 1. From the apostolic age to Chalcedon
1. Jesus Christ-History of doctrines-Early church,
ca. 30-600. I. Title.
BT198.G743 1975 232 7513456
ISBN 0-8042-0492-6
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2

Printed in the United States of America

Tills book is a full revision of my article 'Die theologische und sprachliche
Vorbereitung der christologischen Formel von Chalkedon', which was
published in A. Grillmeier-H. Bacht, Das Konzil von Chalkedon I,
Wiirzburg I95I, I9592 , 19623, 19734 , 5- 202. Th~ original plan, suggested
by the Rev. John Bowden was simply for a translation of this study and

an expansion of the bibliographical notes on the basis of the corrected

reprint of 1959. Mr Bowden also took upon himself the troublesome task
of translation, which steadily. increased as the scope of the revision en-
larged. I am especially grateful for his help.
[ have been particularly concerned to describe the transition from the
apostolic age to the time of the emergence of the christological problem
proper, i.e. to give an account of the christ010gical development of the
second century. This calls for still greater consideration and more adequate
treatment than can be offered here. On the whole, I have tried to under-
stand and to describe each stage of the development in its own particular
character and to avoid intioducing later dogmatic concepts. In my opinion,
however, this does not excll1de the stressing of the rudiments of later
developments where these rudiments are really present.
As far as is possible, this investigation is to be continued, first of all as far
as the end of the patristic period; the preliminary work is already quite far
My thanks are also due to the publishers, John Knox Press, who under-
took to publish the work and have waited wjth great patience for its
Finally, I should like to take this opportunity of expressing my grati-
tllde to Dr F. L. Cross and the Oxford International Conference on
Patristic Studies, to which this work is much indebted.
MORE than a year's work has been devoted to the preparation of this new
edition of Christ in Christian Tradition (Vol. J). As far as possible, details
have been given of the literature which has appeared since 1965. and the
results of research have been incorporated into the text. I have been par-
ticularly concerned to give a new account of the theological development
between Origen and the Council of Nicaea (325). The council itself now
has a chapter of its own. There is an extended account of the christology
of Marcellus of Ancyra which, thanks to research into the Marcelliana,
can now rest on a relatively broad foundation. In this connection I am
particularly grateful to Dr Martin Tetz of Bochum, for a great deal of
advice. In this new section it hjls been possible to give a more clear-cut and
more reliable accowlt of the history of the Logos-sarx christology. The
section on Didymus of Alexandria has also been reworked. The account of
OcigenismJlas been expanded as far as Aponius. Finally, the christological
development between Ephesus and Chalcedon has been enlarged and
made more precise. There are still some gaps, but these can only be filled
at a later stage. Work is needed above all on the christology ofPelagius
and the Pelagians.
Further work, however, must first be done on christology after Chalce-
don. The second volume of this work will cover the period from 451 to
the death of Gregory the Great (604). The third volume will then describe
developments as far as the iconoclastic dispute and Spanish adoptionism.
I am grateful for help on this second edition from Dr Gerbert Brunner,
who has been awarded a grant for his collaboration from the Deutsche
Forschungsgemeinschaft. Particular thanks must go to Mr Bowden, who
has undertaken the demanding task of translation for the new edition with
great patience. Thanks are also due to the publishers, A. R. Mowbray &
Company, for venturing on so considerably enlarged an edition of my
work. I am especially obliged to my friends Richard Mulkern and John
MEETING old friends again is always a pleasure. Christ in Christian. Tradition
was the first book I ever trallSlated, and that the late Dr Cross, Mr Neville
Hilditch of Mowbrays and Professor Grillmeier himself should have
encouraged a11 inexperienced young graduate who knew less German
than he imagined to embark on what has since proved a highly enjoyable
career of translating is one of the immense pieces of good [ortlUle which
has come my way and over which I shall always be surprised as well as
grateful. Certainly I never expected to return to the book again, but when
the first ed.ition sold out and a revised edition was planned, the prospect of
sharing in the new work was jrresistible.
English readers of Christ atld Christia,~ Traditio1/. are perhaps luckier than
they know. It is certainly the only book to my knowle 1ge written by a
German-speaking author living in Germany to have appeared first in
England j moreover, we now have a second edition before German readers
have even had one. The revision has been very thorough indeed: biblio-
graphical details in the notes have been completely updated, and large
sections of the text have been completely rewritten to take new research
into account. T he equivalent of a small book has been added to the length.
In its new fann, Christ irl Christian Traditio" now seems good for at least
another decade. The paean of praise which greeted its first appearance
certainly deserves to be repeated.
Once again. Dr Grillmcicr has proved the most helpful of all authors
for a translator to work with, and he has been indefatigable in pursuing
the revision through all its stages. Margaret Lydamore did not know
quite what she was letting herself in for when she agreed to help with
the indices, but persevered to the end with her usual determination and
thoroughness. Finally. in these competitive alld economically difficult
days .it has been a delight to work for another publisher and to pass on
problems to a good friend, Richard Mulkern of Mowbrays, who has
probably had more sleepless nights over this revision than I have.
AAA Acta Apostolonun Apocrypha, post C. Tischendorf denuo edd.
R. A. Lipsius-M. Bonnet
AAS Acta Apostolicae Sews. Romae 1909/
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philosophisch-histonsehe Klasse, Gottingen
AbhMunchAkW Abhandlungen der Bayrischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, philo-
sophisch-philologisch-historische Klasse, Miinchen
ACO Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum, ed. E. Schwartz, Argentorati-
ACW Ancient Christian Writers, ed.].. Quasten-J. C. Plumpe, Westminster,
AnalBibl Analecta Biblica, Romae
AnalBoll Analecta Bollandiana, Paris-Bruxelles
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Angel AtlgeliclllfI, Romae
AnLovBiblOr Analecta lovancnsia Biblica et Orientalia, Louvain
Anton Antonianum, Romae
Aug Augustinianum, Romae
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II Communications, Vol. III Actes, Paris 1954-55

BGBE Deitrlige zur Geschichte der biblischcn Exegese, Ttibingen

BGBH Beitrage Zllr Geschichte der biblischen Bermenclltik, Tiibingcn
BHistTh 13eitrage Zllr historischen Theologie, Tiibingen
BJRL Bililetin oj tI~e John Rylcmds Librnry, Manchester
BLB Blllletin de Litttlratllre Bcclesiastique, Toulouse
Byz Byzat/tion, Paris-liege
ByzZ Byzantiflische Zcitschrift, Leipzig-Miinchen
BZ Biblische Zeitscllrifi, Freiburg im Breisgau
BZNW Bemeftc zur ZeitschtiJt fllr die Neutestametltliellf Wissel/sell/ift, Derlin

CCl Corpus Christianorum, series Latina. Turnholti

COD Conciliorum Oecumellicorum Decreta. Edidit Istituto per Ie scienze
religiose-Bologna,curantibus]. Albecigo,J. A. Dossctti,P. P.Joannou,
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CQR CIIIITCh Qu(/rterly Review, London
CSCO Co.tpus scriptorum christianorum orientalium, Paris-louvain
CSEL Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum, Wien

DictAL Dictionnaire d'Archlologie Chrltienne et de Liturgie, ed. F. Cabrol-H.

leclercq, Paris 1924
DictBibl(Suppl) Dictionnaire de la Bible, cd. F. Vigouroux, 5 vols., Paris 1895-1912,
19263ff.; Supplement 1920/
DictHGB Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Geographie Bcciesiastiques, cd. A. Baudrillart,
Paris 1912/
DictSpirit Dictionnaire de Spiritualite, Ascetique et Mystique, Doctrines et Histoire, ed.
M. Viller, Paris 1932

DomStud Dominican StHdies. A Quarterly Review oj Theology and Philosophy, Oxford

DOP DUmbarloll Oaks Papers, Cambridge. Mass.
DTC Dictiol1f1aire de TMologie Catholiqlle, cd. A. Vacant-E. Mangenot-
E. Amann, Paris 1909f[
DThP Divus Thomas, Piacenza
EO Ethos d'Ol'ient, Paris-Constantinople
EphThLov Ephemerides Theological! Lovmu'cuses, Louvaitl
ET English translation
EtBibl Etudes Bibliques, Paris
EvTh Evangelische Theologle, Miillchon
Folia Folia. Studies in the Christian Perpetuation oj the Classics, New York
FrancStud Franciscan Studies, New York
FRLANT Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen
Testaments, Gottingen

GCS Die Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten dreiJahrhunderte,

ed. Kirchenviiter-Kommission der Preussischen Akademie der Wissen-
schaften, Leipzig, now: Kommission fUr spiitantike Religionsgeschichte
der Deutschen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin
GOK Geschichte der Okumenischen Konzilien, ed. G. Dumeige-H. Bacht.
GOTR The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, Brookline, Mass.
Greg Gregorianllm. Rivista di studi teologici e.filosofici, Romae
HCO Histoire des Conciles Oecumeniques. cd. G. Dumeige, Paris
HDG Handbuch der DogmcIlgeschiclue, Freiburg-Basel-Wien
His!lb HistoriJ'ciles Jahrbllch der Gorrcs-Gese.lIschaft. Miinchen-Frciburg
HZ Historisc"e Zeitscht!fi, Miinchcn
ITQ Irish Theological Quarterly, Maynooth
JAC Jahrbuch fur Antike und Christentum, MUnster i. W.
JBL Journal oJBiblical Llteratllre, Boston- New Haven
JEH Journal oJEcclesiaslical History, Londoll
JLH Jahrbuch JUr Litllrglk IlIId HYlrlllologie, Kassel
JTS Journal of Theological Stl.,dies, Londou-Oxford
Kyriakon Festschrift J. Quasten I-II. MUnster 1970

Li!lb Litllrg{schesJal"buch, MUnster i. W.

LThK Lexikon Jur Theologie und Kirche 2, ed. J. Hofer-K. Rahner. Freiburg im
Breisgau 19S7ff.

Mansi Sacrorum C07lciliortmJ nova et amplissima Col/ectio, Florence 17S9ff.;

Venice 1769ff.; Paris-Arnhem-Leipzig 1901-27
MiscF Miscellanea FnmciscGrla. Romae
MSR Melanges de Science Religieuse. Lille
Mus Le Museon, Louvain
NF Neue Folge
NGott Nachrichten von der Gesellschaft der Wissenschafteu zu Gottingcn,
philosophisch-historische Klasse {until 1940)j Nachrichten der
Akademie der Wissenschaften in Gottingen, Gottingen 1941ff.
Nov Test NoVt11ll Testill1lelltlllll, Leidcll
NRT Nouvelle Revue Theologique, Tournai
NS New series
NTAbh Neutestamcntliclie Abhandlungen, Munster i. W.
NTS New Testament Studies, Cambridge
NTT Nederlauds Theologisch Tijdschrifl, Leiden
OC Orientalia Christiana, Romae
OCA Orientalia Christiana Analecta, Romae
OCP Orientalia Christiana Periodica, Romae
OrChr Oriens Christianus, Leipzig 1901-41; Wiesbaden 1953
PG Patrologiae cursus completus, ed. J. P. Migne, Series graeca, Paris
PL Patrologiae cursus completus, ed. J. P. Migne, Series latina, Paris 1844-55
PLS Patrologiae Latinae Supplementum, ed. A. Hamman: I, Paris 1958;
II, 1960; III, 1963
PO Patrologia Orientalis, ed. R. Graffm-F. Nau, Paris
PRE Realencyklopiidie fur protestantische The%gie und Kirche 3, ed. A. Hauck,
PS Patristica Sorbonensia, Paris
PSyr Patrologia Syriaca, Paris
PTSt Patristische Texte und Studien, Berlin
PWK Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll, Rea/encyclopiidie der klassischen Altertumswissen-
schqJt, Stuttgart
RAC Reallexikonfur Antike und Christentum, ed. T. Klauser, Stuttgart 1950ff.
RAM Revue d'Ascetique et de Mystique, Toulouse
RB Revue Biblique, Paris
RevBen RevHe Benedictine, Maredsolls
RevEtAug Re/llle des Etl/des A.1,tgustt'lIiellllcs, Paris
RevEtByz Revue des EtHdes Byzantines, Paris
RevEtGrec Revue des Eludes Grecqfl~s, Paris
RevEtLat Revue des Etudes Latilles, Paris
RevHistRel Revue d'Histoire des Religions, Paris
RevOrChr Revue de l'Orient Chretien, Paris
RevSR Revue des Sciences Religieuses, Strasbourg-Paris
RevThom Revue Thomiste, Paris
RGG Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart 3, cd. K. Galling, Tubingen
RHE Relme d'Histolre Ecc/i!siastiqlle, Louvain
RivStorLittRcl Rivisla di Storio e Letteratura Religiosa. Florence
RSO Rivist4 degli Studi Oriental,', Roma
RSPT ReVile des Sciellces Philosophi'ques at TMo logiques, Paris
RSR Recherches de Sciellce Religiellse, Paris
RTAM Recherches de TMofogie AttciCI",c et Mea/Iva Ie, Louvain
RomQ Rbinisc},e Qllartalsc"rifi fiir christliche Altertumsklll1de Il/1d fiir Kirchell-
gesc},ichte, Freiburg im Breisgau

SBGesGott Sitzungsberichte von der Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Gottingen,

philosophisch-historische Klassc, Gottlngell
SBMiinchAk Sitzungsberichte der Bayrischen Akademie der Wissenschaften,
philosophisch-philologiSch-historisd e Klasse, MUnchen
SBT Studies in Biblical T heology, London-Naperville
SC Sources Chn!tiennes, Paris
Schol Scholl/stik, FL'eiburg im Breisgau
SPT Les sciences philosophiqrres et thtfologiques, Paris
ST Studi e Testi, ROJUa-Citta del Vaticano
StudPat Studia Patristica, ed. K. Aland-F. L. Cross, I-VI (TV 63-4, 78-81),
Berlin 19S7-62ff.
SymbOsl Symbolae Osloenses, Oslo

TD Textus et Documenta, series theologica, Romac:

TDNT The% gl'cnJ DictiOllnTY oj the New Testament, ed. G. Kittel-F. Gerhard,
ET by G. W . Bromiley, Grand Rapids 1964ff.
TG Theologie IIlld Glm/he, PadcrbOll1
Thea-phil Thaologic IIlld Philosophie, Vicrteljahresschrift, Freiburg im Breisgau
TheolStud Tile%g jca/ Studies, W'oodstock, Maryland
ThLZ The%gischc Literaturzeilung, Leipzig
ThR Tlu:o/Qg i~'che RUlli/sciUlli. T ubingen
TQ Theo logisdw Quartalschrift, T iibingen
TR The%gische.Rerme, Miinster i. W.
Trad Traditio. Studies ill A"cient and Medieval History, Thought and Rei{gion.
New York
TThz Tricrcr Tileo logische Z eitsclrrift, Trier
TV Texte Illld Untersuchu ngen zm Oeschichte der altchrlstlichen Literatur,
ed. O . V. Gebhardt- A. von Harnack et ai., Leipzig-Berlin
TZ Theologische Zeitschrift. Basel
VC Vetera Christianorum, Bad
V{gC Vigiliae Christianae. A Review of Early Christian Life and Language,
VoxT Vox Theologica, Assen, Nederland
ZKG Zeitschrift Jur Kirche"geschichte, Gotha-Stuttgart
ZkTh ZeitschriftJur kalho/ische Theologie, Innsbruck-Wien
ZNW Zeitschrift Jur die /leutestamentliche WissenschaJt und die Kunde der iilteren
Kirche, Berlin
ZRelGG Zeitschrift Jur Religions- und Geistesgeschichte, Marburg
ZThK Zeitschrift Jur Theologie und Kirche, TUbingen

I. The Present Situation 3
2. New Testament Outlines 9
(a) The christology of the primitive community 9
(b) The sYlloptists II
(c) Pauline christology IS
(d) Pauline christological formulas 17
(c) The 'Word made flesh' 26


I. Christological Variants 37
(a) An archaic heritage: Christ and Jewish-Christian theology 37
(b) A popular picture of Christ 53
(c) Myth, legend and belief: the popular theology of the
mysterjes of the life ofJesus
(d) Solvere Christum (I John 4- 3): on the christological heresies
of the second centtU'y
(e) Martyrdom and apology
2. The Testimony of Pastors and Teachers of the Church from
Clement of Rome to Irenaeus 85
(0) Clement of Rome 86
(b) Ignatius of Antioch 86
(c) Jl1stin, philosopher and martyr 89
(d) Melito of Sardis 94
(e) Irenaeus of Lyons 98


I. The Logos Doctrine of the Apologists 108
2. Hippolytus 113
3. Tertullian 117
(a) Tertullian's christology in its historical context 118
(b) Sermo in carne 121
4. Novatian 131
5. The Alexandrians 133
(a) Clement of Alexandria 133
(b) Origen 138

From Origen to Ephesus (43 I)
(a) The interpretation of the incarnation

I. Eusebius of Caesarea
(a) The Logos doctrine ofEusebius before Nicaea
(b) The incarnate Logos
(c) The historical influence of Eusebius
2. Sapiens Religio-Religiosa Sapientia: On the Christology of
Lactantius 190
(a) The historical and intellectual background 190
(b) The one God and his Son 193
(c) Lactantius and spirit christology 198
(d) Lactantius as a binitarian 200
(e) Lactantius as a subordinationist 201
(J) The second birth of the Son of God 202

3. Asterius the Sophist 206

4. Aphrahat the Persian Sage 214


I. The Father and his Logos 219
(a) Gregory Thaumaturgus and Arius 232
2. The 'Logos' and his 'Flesh' 238
3. The Importance of Christology in the Arian System 245


I. Nicaea and the Rise of the Imperial Church 250
2. The Fides Nicaena 264
(a) Nicaea and the understanding of the incarnation 272


I. Marcellus of Ancyra 274
2. Eustathius of Antioch 296
(a) The older tradition 297
(b) Eustathius as opponent of the 'Logos-sarx' framework 299


I. Introduction 302
2. Eusebius of Emesa 303
3. Athanasius 308
(a) The problem 308
(b) The activity of the Logos in Christ's humanity 310
(c) The death of Christ as a separation of the Logos 315
(d) The body as an instrument. 318
(e) The Tomus ad Antiochenos of 362 318
(f) Athanasius' christological formula 326


I. The 'Heavenly Man' 330
2. Mia Physis 333
3. The Concept of 'Person' 337

I. The Action of Epiphanius of Cyprus and of Pope Damasus 349
2. Diodore of Tarsus 352


I. The Alexandrian Development of a Christological Psychology 361
2. Cappadocian Christology 367
3. Evagrius Ponticus 377
4. Origenist Christology in the West 384
5. Nemesius ofEmesa 389



I. The Younger Cyril and the 'Logos-sarx' Christology 414
2. The Antiochene Picture of Christ 417
(a) John Chrysostom and his picture of Christ 418
(b) Theodore of Mopsuestia and classical Antiochene
christology 421
(i) The critic of the 'Logos-sarx' framework 426
(ii) Christological thought 428
(iii) Christological formula 437

Ephesus and Chalcedon (431-451)

I. Nestorius and the Kerygma (or Dogma) of the Church 447
2. The Position of Historical Research 449


I. Defence 451
2. The Christ of the Patriarch Nestorius 457
I. The Case of Leporius 464
2. The Case of Nestorius at Rome 467


I. Cyril and Apollinarius 473
2. Ambiguous Language 478
3. Cyril and the Concept of Person 480




I. Theodoret of Cyrus 488
2. Andrew of Samosata 495
3. Nestorius and his Liber Heraclidis 501
(a) Theology of two natures 504
(b) The christologica.1 formula of the Liber Heraclidis 507
(c) Christological formula and thought 510


I. Proclus 520
2. The Trial of Eutyches and the Formula of Flavian of
Constantinople 523
3. Leo the Great and his Tomus ad Flavianum 526
(a) Leo's christological thought in the pre-Chalcedonian period 530
(b) Christological formula 537








CHRISTIANITY takes its name :from Christ (Acts II . 26). At the beginning
of its history stand the Christ-event, Christ's revelation and, above all.
Christ himself as a person. From the very beginning, an intellectual
strLlggle set in over this event and this person which is to be counted among
the most profound of all human controversies, within Christianity or
outside it. It is essential to understand this struggle, which can only happen
completely on the level of faiih, if we are to understand how Christiallity
and mankind appropriated dIe mysterlum Christi. We do not understand
the present condition of our faith in Christ unless we have taken the
measure of this faith as it was in the past. We may not be indifferent to
any age in this past. Each generation of Christian history has contributed
something towards the appropriation of the I'I'Iysterium Christi wllich
deserves the consideration of posterity. To allow only those questions
which are live issues for the present-and perhaps only for the present-to
determine the interpretation of the mysterium Christi would be a dangerous
limitation to our understanding of Christ. But at the same time, the prob-
lems of our day are of the utmost value in understanding history. They
teach us that we must show how a consideration of the past is relevant to
the present. This is not difficult for us ill the particular case of the history
of ancient christology. For ancient christology puts Christ in~ the m.iddle
of time and sees in the development of faith in hinl a process which will
ouly end with the Second Coming of the Lord . There has often been a
feeling of deep suspicion towards ancient christology, and it has been said
to have no value for ow: age because it mad.e usc of a techJlicallanguage
and a Hellenistic presentation, both of which must be rejected. But if we
are to proclaim the l1'Iysterium Christi in the language of our time, we must
first have understood what the Fathers wanted to say in the language of
theif time. The inward. intellectual struggles of the ancient church testify
that the christological writers of that church were concerned with
something vital, namely the very nature of Christianity.





THE nineteenth century used all its energy to work out a purely historical
picture ofJesus by means of the techniques of historical investigation. In
this investigation, the dogma oftlle incamation was ndt to be accepted as a
basio presupposition: the life ofJesus was to be treated as a pure! y human
life which developed in a human way. The attempt came to nothing.1
Thereupon there followed a retum to the theological treatment of the
New Testament statements about Christ. Martin Kahler2 stood at the
beginning of the ne~ movement; he brought to German Protestant
theology the recognition,
that the Christian faith is related to Jesus of Nazareth as hewas preached in the apostolic
proclamation as the crucified and the risen one. The message of the apostles is the procla-
matiOl~ of a kerygma for which they have been comm.issioned by the appearances of the
risen one... The reminiscences of the Jesus ohistory were preserved. shaped and inter-
preted within the framework of the proclamation of the risen one and tillS interpretation
is the right and legitimate one for the Christian faith.3
The pendulutn has now SWWlg ill the opposite direction: whereas the
slogan used to be 'the pure Jesus of history', it is now 'the pure Christ of
faith'. To this effect, Bultmann pursues Kahler's views to their conclusion.
As one of the founders of 'dialectical theology' he breaks with an isolated
liberal scholarship, though he incorporates its resuLts extensively in his
programme of 'demythologization'. The picture of Christ offered by
Bible and church, which represents Christ as Kyrios and Theos, is declared
to be a myth the roots of which he partly in Hellenism, partly in Jewish
apocalyptic. It is impossible, he argues, for modern man with his uu-
mythological view of the wodd to accept the Chalcedonian Definition as
a final result. While the 'Christ myth' of the New Testament is not, of
course, to be excluded, as it was in the elimination-work carried OD by the
Liberals, it should be utilized for a Christian self-understanding by means
of 'existential interpretation'. This existential interpretation is to be
independent of any objective and affirmative statement about Christ and
I A. Schwurzor, The Qllest oj the Hls/orlcal Jeslls, London I9S4l
2 M. Kahler, TIle So-C(llIed Flistoricnl Jesus nud tile Histark, Blblica/ Clrds!, Philadelphia 1964.
IN. A. Dahl. 'Dc I rustolische Jesus als gcschichtswis5cnschaftliches und thcologisches Problem'.
Kerygma lind Dogma I, 1955, lIZ; Cf. T. W. Manson, 'Tile Life of}csus. Some tendencies in .present
day research', in Tile Bad\flTotmd OJIIIE New Tes/amen! "lId irs ESc/lOta/ogy. cd. W. D. Davies-D. Daube
in honour of C. H. Dodd'. C~01bridge 1956. 21I-2I.

the acceptance of it inIaith, such as, say, auI demands in I Cor. IS. His
to be pure self-understanding before God in Christ, the crucified one, and
therefore pure faith which is not directed towards a content belicved
objectively. As a resuJt, the problem of the Jesus ofbistory' is bracketed
off from theology', and the latter is made dcpcndell t Oil itsel
To illustrate this theological position, occupied by a pan of German
Protcstant scholarship, the words of one of its best representatives may be
quoted, Hans Conzell1lann writes:
We (i.e. the representatives of this radical kerY,gll/(! theology) are accllstomed to begiu
our thinkiug with the gap which lies between the Jesus of history llnd the CO)1ll11lIllity.
marked by his death along with the Easter eXI)cricnces. and with rhe difference between
Jesus' preaching of the Killgdol11 of God and. the Iwygllln that has Mill as its subject.
between Jesus the proclainler and the proclaimed Christ. Yet sclf-evideur as tills viewpoint
may seem to us. we must be clear that outside central Europe it convinces only a few.
The majority ofEnglish theologians eirher do not (eact to form critidsm at all, or tlley
acknowledge it merely as a formal classifi(4tioll ofliterary types and "ontest that iv leads
to historical or systematic judgements. They thus reserve for themselves t.he possibility
of drawing a continuous line from jesus' understanding of himself to the mith of the
community. Easter is in no way ignored. but the content of the Easter faith. and with it
the basic christological terms and tides, is traced back to Jesus' own teachlltg. The theology
of the comnIlmi'ty appears as the working out of the le.gacy of the Risen Christ on the
basis of his appearance. ... To the representatives of this position the form-critical
(econstruction seems to be a rationalistic abstraction, foreign 'both to history nnd to
realiey, :md from a practical point of view a reduction of Christianity to a general
religious consciouSlless, a formal dialectic of existencc.
But Conzelmann himself has to recognize that:
The advantage of this solution is that an established continu ity is in itself historicalJy
more probable than the assertion of a discon.tinuity which is hardly able to explain the
formation of the categories of the faith of the cOlllmunity. Purthermore, it can malce
plausible the transformation that the christological concepts (Servant, Messiah, Son of
Man) have undergone between their Jewish (biblical and apocalyptic~ origin and their
Christianl1Sage: they received their present concrete meaning in J~us intcrprlltatioll of
himsel The way from here to the formation of the gospels afso becomes dear: the
materia] deriving from Jesus received its shaping ill. the tcaching work of the community;
the proof from scripture. for exa.mple. may have been a for.rnative factor. Ane! a~ Jeslls
llsed to work 011 the same basis, a substantial agreement is assl1red.Q
So today-and in a part of Germa.n Protestant hcology too-a syn-
thesis is being sought between the extremes (pure Jesus of history-pure
Christ of faith); the Jesus of history is taken as a presupposition of the
Christ of faith. There is a recognition that the primitive community itself
already achieved this conjullction. It identified the humiliated Jesus of
4 H . Conze1rnnnu, 'Gegenw:t(t und Zukunft ill der 'synoptischen Tradition', ZTIIK 54, 1957,
2,79f.; cf. W. R. Mntthcws, The Probltm ojClm'stl1l tll~ Twelltlell, Gelllilry. All Essay Oil the lllCtfrll<rtioll,
London-New York-TorOJ1tJ:l 1950, I951; G. V. ]Ol1CS, CI,rislology alld Myth III Ille New Thslalllell/.
London 1956. Tl,c NT is interpreted ,i n accordance with the continuity mcndoned above especinlly
by Vin.cenc Taylor. The Nil/lies ojJesus, London 1953; The Life Gild MilLls",y viJesus, London 1954;
Tire PersOIl oj Christ ill New Testalllelli Teacllillg, .London 1958. Worth noting is the co.uciusion of

Nazareth with the exalted Kyrios. With this twofold recognition it was in
a position to withstand the error of docetism on the one hand and the
denial of the transcendence of the Kyrios on the other. Indeed, it was just
this tension, this war waged on two fronts by the New Testament authors,
that demanded clarity of expression ill talking about Jeslls and hence
depth in theological interpretation. They knew that the earthly, crucified
Jesus was to be seen ouly in the light ofBaster day. But it was also realized
'that the event ofEaster callnot be adequately comprehended ifit is looked
at apart from the earthly Jesus'.5 It follows from this that for the under-
sta11ciing of the primitive church 'the life of Jesus was constitutive for
faith. because the earthly and the exalted Lord are identical'.6 Recent
scholarship also w1dcrsta.l1ds the special position of the Fourth Gospel
from this tension. Its special character lies in the fact tbat 'it portrays the
story of the exalted Lord as one and the same with that of the earthly
Lord .... It is precisely the Pourth Gospel, originating in the ag~ 6f the
anti-docetic conflicts, which neither can nor will renOlU1ce the truth that
revelation takes place on earth and in the flesh.' According to IGsemann
there is a consequence for us as well: 'We also cannot dQ away with the
identity between the exalted and the earthly Lord without falling into
docetism and depriving ourselves of the possibility of drawing a line
between the Easter faith of the community and myth.'7
This problem of the Jesus of history' and the 'Christ of faith' has been
posed, both terminologically and methodologically, in a more exact and
fruitful way in recent discussion. From the results achieved we can draw
a few conclusions for am interpretation of patristic christology as well .
Pirst of all, the concept of 'the historical Jesus' has itself been clarified,
after its somewhat vague usage proved to have muortullate consequences
for New Testament theology.s The following definitionlns recently been
suggested and has found acceptance: the phrase 'historical Jesus' refers to
Jesus, in so far as he can be made the object of critical Justorical research'.!l
This formulation brings into considera ion, along with the guestion of
historical content, the historical consciousness of the modern researcher,
B. Gcrhardsson, Melllory <11111 Mmillscript. Ortll TradltiOIl alld Wrlllen TrmWllissioli III Rnbblnic JI/{/of.WI alld
Ellr/y C/rrisliallity (Acta Sew. Nco!. Upsal. 2.2.), UppsaJa. 196r, jas; 'TIl i.! high Christology (af the
synoptic tmrlition) canDot be disconnected from the imprc'1ion made by Jesw on lw disciples, and
furtile.rnlore It mwt have some original connection with Jesus' own view of hi,; work , of ~B po'sitioll,
and of himsdf. The opinion expressed by ~o many scflolars, that the Christology or the N.T. is
essentially a creation of the young Church, is an intelligent thesis, but historically most improbable.'
'Cf. E. Kasemalll1, 'The Problem of the Historical Jesus', in Essays 011 New Testament Themes,
London 1964, a5.
6 Ibid., 38.
7 Ibid., 34.
8 For the following, cf. F. Hahn, 'Methodologische Uberlegungen zur Rilckfrage nach Jesus', in
Riickfrage Ilach Jesus. Zur Methodikulld Bedeutullg der Frage !lac/! dem /,istoriscllel! Jesus (Quaest. Disp. 63),
ed. K. Kertelge, Freiburg 1974,11-77; id., 'Methoden-Probleme einer Christologie des Neuen Testa-
ments', Verkihidigullg Ulld Forschullg a, 1970, 3-41.
9 P. Biehl, 'Zur Frage nach dem historischenJesus', TR a4, 1956/7,55; quoted by F. Hahn, op. cit.,

as well as the recently developed array of tools and methods at his dis-
posal. G. Ebeling once put it this way: I "Historical Jesus" is therefore
really an abbreviation for Jesus as he comes to be known by strictly
historical methods, in contrast to any a] teration and touching up to which
he has been subjected in the traditional Jesus picture.'.lO To speak of the
'historical Jesus', then, is not ouly to refer to a thoroughly undogmatic
wandering preacher of Gc1lilee-to the Jesus characterized historically in
this concrete way-but also to a certain way of cOl1sideringlllin, from our
side. F. Hahn has recently recommended a more detailed range of expres-
sion: (I) if one is discussing problems ill the history of biblical traditions,
he suggests a distinction between the 'pre-Easter Jcsus' and the 'post-
Easter community'; (2) jf one is referring to the specifically christological
interest of primitive Christian preaching, it would be' better to speak of
'the earthly Jesus' and 'Jesus. the risen Lord'. Along theseJilles, the earliest
community was interested in the 'earthly Jesus' to varying degrees which
were articulated more or less clearly, but not in the 'historical J'su ' in
thc sense of modem criticism. So Halm urges that we follow the sugges-
tion ofR. Slcllczkau and choose a way of speaking which shows that by
'historical Jesus' we always mean our own modem range of questions
as well. Thus we shall avoid peaking of the 'historical Jesus' when we
simply mean the earthly Jesus of prunicive Christian preaching, and at
the same time we cau make it clear that we are interested in the very same
Jcsus of the time before Easter, if in a different way. So we shall bring to
expression both the sameness of our point of view and its difference from
that of the fust Christians, in that we arc concerned with the same
'object', but are using a mode of 'observation' which depends on modem
The method which exegetes have worked out for specifying the rela-
tion between the 'pre-Easter, earthly Jesus', and the 'post-Easter com-
munity' (in discussing the traditions behind the biblical text) and the
'earthly Jesus' and 'Jesus, the risen Lord' (in investigating the contcnt of
the early Christian preaching) can be important, too, mutatis mutantlis, for the
post-apostolic patristic age and for our interpretation of it. This is surely
true of the three terms which F. Hahn has coined to characterize the transi-
tion from the pre-Easter Jesus to post-Easter reflection: (I) sclectiMI in the
tradition about J estls; (2) the forming and re-jorl1liflg of this tradition within
the New Testament and (3) rcilltefpretation.1 3 The whole process is one of
transformation, within which we must expect-in accordance with the

G. Ebeling, 'The Question of the Historical Jesus'. ill Word and Faith. London I963, 294.
R. Slcnczka, Gesc/licJllllcllkcit Imd PmOIl$eil1 ]esll Christl: SludieIJ zur christologisclletl Problematik der
histor(s,ltclI]cs"ifrngc (Fol'Sclumgen zux syste,matischen und okumenischen Theologie, ed. E. Schlink,
18), Gottingen 1967, 22--4, 137-'75.
12 F. Hahn, op. cit., 63.
13 F. Hahn, op. cit., 14-18 (selection); 19-23 (forming and re-forming); 23-6 (reinterpretation).

first term-both the loss and the elaboration of t-aditional material. After
Easter, in fact, we can even observe a 'narrowing offocus', in that a keryg-
matic tradition comes to be devdopcd-Iargelyindependent of the individ-
ual traditions of the story of Jesus whlch already existed-which refers
almost exclusively to his death and resurrection, and to his being sent, or
being made man. The church deliberately concentrates on certain main
line.~ i'n Jesus' preaching, aLld on events and controversies in his life which
have lasting relevance.
Let us apply this to the patristic period. Alongside the reception of the
total picture of Christ there takes place (1) a sclectio11 or: special highlighting
of certalu features in this picture. We can observe this (a) in the use of
scripture. However much the whole of Scripture continl1ed to be read,
tbeological polemics, precisely in trinitarian and christological discussion,
restricted themselves to a certain number of important or disputed
scriptural texts. We shall present most of this selection of texts in the course
of this book. (b) Begilliling with the qncstion of the function and meaning
ofJesus for us and our salvation, cluistology undoubtedly concentrates its
efforts more and more on th.e n3rt'ower question of his nature: on
whether he is true God, whether he is true m4ll. wllether he is one and the
same in true Godhead and true manhood. In its original con text, however,
this question ofJesus' natme was precisely the question of his soteriological
function and meaning. (c) The process of selection also includes the
different 'christologics', which come more and more to be distinguished
as 'orthodox' or 'heretical'. A great deal seems to lie unused alongside the
path of tradition. Some have even seen in its progress dccided traces of a
power-stmggle, in which the stronger party, not necessarily the truth,
has usually carded the day. Still, in forming judgements on this process
we ought not to fasten our attention upou individual names, such as
those of the early Christian monarchians and adoptionists, TheodotLls of
Byzantium or Noetus of Smyrna, or later those of Paul of Samosata,
Photinus of Sirmium or even Nestorius. Just such a series of uames as this
shows that the theological concern they represent does in :act keep
reappearing ill the chmch, if always on a new level of reflection. Their
concern did indeed penetrate more or les~ lmnoticed iuto the history of the
Christian il1tetpretation of Christ, even though their names remained a
somGe of h01;ror. It can be shown that the opposed extremes of cl1risto-
logical heresy have, in the end, decisively influenced what came to be, in
the tension between them, the church's middle road. Chalcedon was to
preserve the authentic kemel of what both Monophysitism and Nestorian-
ism wanted to say, and hand it on to the future.
The second century after Christ is es} ecially instructive on this process
of selectioll. The truly endless stream of popular anonymous and pseudo-
nymous literature seemed to be aiming at one thing: reversing the 'sel-

ection' given by the New Testament. The life of the pre-Easter Jesus was
filled out again with all sorts of purported information about words and
deeds and events. The most notable feature in all of this was that the
inflation of inform.atioll could not call forth a deeper faith than the New
Testament had already done, even through the saying ofJesus in the Gospel
of Thomas. On the contrary, ill many ways these writings distracted the
reader with trivialities. The 'selective' New Testament stands far above
the inflated picture of Jesus given in the apocrypha. Of course, the
interpretation of the events of Jesus' death given by the descensus-
theology should not be included in this 'inflationary' christology; it
belongs already to reflection on the post-Easter Jesus.
(2) The patristic period continues the process of transformatiotl which F.
Hahn assumes for the time of the New Testal11ent. This process, which
leads first of all from lived experience to the preached gospel, the leerygma,
then leads further from kerygma to dogma, without implying any opposi-
tion between them. Dogma is, after all, nothing oth r than a more
reflective kerygma, clarified by theology and borne by a deepened con-
sciousness of the reality of the church. We can see here, if we are properly
cautious, a kind of analogy: just as the post-Easter kerygma always orien-
tates itself by the earthly pre-Easter Jesus and incorporates him-
selectively, forming and interpreting what it takes-so patristic christo-
logy always remains dependent on the kerygma and 011 the earliest Christian
experience, which remains present, in its own peculiar way, in the liturgy
and the sacraments. Arins is as much a witncss of dlis as is Nicaea, the
Chalcedonian controversy as much as the Nicaean. One of our aims here
will be to keep directing attention to this kerygma tic foundation.
(3) As the kerygma was handed Oll, a new InterpretaliOtt of the tradition
which had gone before, as well as of the New Testament itself, took place
necessarily at every step. As the Septuagint and the New Testament them-
selves had done, the church assimilated language and concepts from the
world around-language which was of increasing philosophical intensity,
but not such that the theological nature of the interpretation would be lost
in the process. Even so, the danger that theology might be overgrown by
philosophy became acute from time to time, as Arins himself and the
second generation of Arians show. Doubtless, too, there was a disad-
vantage in the fact that precisely christology and the trinitarian interpreta-
tion of Christian monotheism tended to end in formulas whose biblical
and kerygmatic origin was no longer apparent. Still, as we hope to show,
this emphasis on isolated formulas in re trinitaria et christologica is more the
product of scholastic selection and abstraction than the real centre of the
church's thinking in the patristic period. 14
14 Cf. A. GriIlmeier, '''Piscatorie''-''Aristotelice''. Zur Bedeutung der "Formel" in den seit
Chalkedon getrennten Kirchen', Mit ihm ulld ill ihm (Christo!ogische Forschullgell und Perspektivell),
Freiburg 1975.

Just as New Testament exegesis must face the problem of accurately

specifying the relationship between the pre-Easter Jesus and the Christ
preached by the early Christian community, so patristic studies and all
theology have the task of specifying with the same accuracy the relation-
ship between the New Testament kerygma and theology, ,and of keeping
the tension between them always in mind. Nicaea and Chalcedon did not
see their formulations as a distortion of the kerygma, but as its defence and
its confirmation. The content of the kerygma, however, was aI ways the
perSOll of Christ and his uniqueness. IS The theological struggles of the
patristic period are nothing else than an expansion of this central question;
this gives them their continuity. For from the gospel ofJesus Christ as Son
of God, and of his subsequent history (as pneuma, et11'fleUI',wti) , grew the
question, of Christian monotheism (of the one God as Pather, Son and
Holy Spirit). And tllis expanded theological horizon remained contained
within yet another: the question of the peculiar nature of the salvation
God has given us in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. Sotcriology remained
the actual driving,force behind thcological inquiry. even- as we shall see
especially in the period from the cllird to the flfth century-behind re-
flection 011 the identity of Christ and the Holy Sprit.
It wilinot be possible, nor even necessary, always, to demonstrate
this COlU1ection betweel soteriology and the theology of the Trinity in
the same way at every phase of their development. N evertheless, we must
never lose sight of it. If even the New Testament has managed to con-
centrate its attention 011 the perSall of it must be legitimate to go
011 making the question ofrus person the focal point of our investigation.
But just as the Christ of the New Testament can only be understood in his
relationship to tlle Father who sends him and to the Spirit, so he can never
be discussed, even for the period clut follows, wholly apart from them.
As a starting-point, thcn. for the llistory of the christological kerygma
in the patristic period, we must sketch the basic christological features of
the most important groups of documents in the New Testament. With
this as our goal, we can omit an investigation of the relationship of the
earthly, pre-Easter Jesus to the Lord of Easter-and leave that task to the
exegetes.l 6

(a) The christology oj the primitive community

The earliest christology must be sought 111 the primitive Jewish-
IS Cf. p, Hnlm, op; ci~. 63-7, 'Da$ ursprllnglichc lnto:csse ~n dcr Geachjchte J ~'Su'.
Id C( bc.~id~s the study of P. Hahn the following other studies iu the collection Rl'ickjrage I",'" JeslI$;
F.-L. Lcntzcu-Dcis. 'Kritcrien fUr elie rustorische J3eurtcil ling dec Jcsustiberliefcrllllg in denEvougel-
iCil', 78-H7; f. Mussocr and colleagues, 'Methodologic der Frngc nnch dem historischeLl Jesus',
Il8--47; R. Scb.J]Jlckenburg, 'Der gcsch.ichtlichc Jesus in scintr Gtliudlgeu Dcdclltung fUr Thcologic
unci Kirchc', 194-- 220.

Christian community. It derived from the resurrection ofJesus, which was

understood as his appointment to heavenly power. In his resurrection,
Jesus was made 'both Lord and Christ' (Acts 2. 33- 36). In other words,
Jesus is now 'Messiah' in the full sense of the Jewish expectation. He is the
redeemer king who rules in the name of God (c Matt. 28. 18). The use of
the language ofPs. 2. 7 in Acts 13. 33 to say that he is the 'adopted Son of
God' is not necessarily an indication of a strict adoptionism.
On the contrary, only the career ofJesus, which, while always messianic, Je.1ds through
hLUniliation to ex;utation, is here approximated to Jewish thought. The ignominious
death o( the Messiah, inconceivable to J<-'VJish scutiment, is the necessary prelude to his
saving dominion which offers veil to blinded Israel onc more opportunity for repentance
and the forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 3. IS[; S. 31). Neither the baptism ofJcsl1S nor his
resurrection is the basis for an 'adoptionist' christology in the later serue.l7

The career of Jesus is regarded as a revelation of the divine work of

salvation. Two stages or periods, however, were seen in it-one earthly,
in the flesh, and one heavenly in the spirit (Rom. r. 3; I Pet. 3. 18; I
Tim. 3. 16a). Whenever Jesus is described according to his earthly descent
as Son of David, his transcendence is also being emphasized at the same
time, in contrast to his ancestor (c Mark 12. 3S; Acts 4. 2S). This
title is in any case important for Matthew (r. r; 9. 27; 12.23; 15.22; 20.
30; 21. 9,15) and for Luke (1. 32,69; 2. 4, II). Even the Apocalypse still
knows it (3. 7; 5 S; 22. 16). Jesus is the fulfilment of the Messiahship
promised in David.
As well as this title 'Son of David', the earliest christology also knows
another, 'Servant' (Matt. 12. 18 = Isa. 42. I; Acts 3. 13,26; 4. 27. 30). A
reference to the servant songs may justifiably be assumed here. The desig-
nation of Jesus as 'prophet' was only short-lived; it had a reference to
Dent. 18. IS, 18 and served to explain Jesus' mission to Jewish alldicl1ces
(Acts 3.22; 7. 37;John 6. 4; 7. 40). And even if the Fathers are right later
in emphasizing that the transcendence of Christ is something more than. a
heightened p.rophetical office, this title nevertheless embraces his mission
as revealer of the Father and teacher of men.l 8 In any case, it has a high
soteriological significance. Finally, the relation of the exalted Lord to the
church and to the world is further expressed through the idea of the
parousia. It is of great importance in the Christian picture of history, even
17R. Sdmackeub\ltg, Itrt. 'Jesus Chcistus' in LTIIK V, 1960, 933, which provides a selective
bibliogr~phy; T. Dc Krujjf, Ocr SIIIIII des 1('b('lld(~cH olles. Eill Beitrag zur Cllristologie des MattlJiius-
fII6HgdiHrIJ., (An:llllib l 16). 1962; 25-40 (Die Christologie der 1iltesten Tradition); B. M. F.
vanlerscl. S.M.M., 'D" Solm' ill tlall sYIJoptisc/ICJJ j csllslVorteu, Lcidcn 1961; G. Strecker. DDr Wtg rifr
Cuccbtigkeit. UlJtetslJdlllllg z"r l1lU%gfc ries MattiliillS (fRLANT 82), GOttillgcn 1962, 86-188
( hristology); 189-242. (Ecdcsiology); P. Hahn, Clirlstologisc/w Holldtstltel. Illre C~s",;cb/c llIl friillCII
Cllri-'t~llllllII (fRLAN'r 83), Gottiugcl1 1963. T h rcll1tive Sc.ctiO/1$ from this importnnc study arc
as follows : McmciJcnsohn, 15-53; KYTios, 67-12.5; Christos. 133-2,25; D~vidssolm, 242-79 .
Gottcssohn. 280-333.
18 L. Goppelt, Typos, GUtersloh 1939. 70ff.. O. Culh}1ann, The Christ%gy of the New Tes/amellt,
London 1963 2 , 13-50; F. Gils,jt!sus Prophete d'apres les Evallgiles Syuoptiques, Louvain 1957.

though at first. in the apostolic preaching, it stands in the background. For

of course the exaltation of the crucified one had rust to be proclaimed (c
Acts 3. 20). But a strong belief in the/amusia (Matt. 24. 3) was alive in
the primitive community, and foull its liturgical expression in t11e
Aramaic cry oflonging Marmla-tha (1 Cor. 16.22; Rev. 22 . 20; I Cor. II.
26). It is at the same time evidence of worship offered to J esus as 'Lord'.
(b) The sytlOptists
By now, faith in Christ has already found expression in several different
ways in the individual writings of the New Testament. The synoptists are
the interpreters of the faith of the primitive church in the career of Jesus
the Messiah through humiliation to exaltation, in accordance with the
will of the Father and the witness of Holy Scripture. Their purpose is
furthered by the stressing of the threefold announcement of the passion
(Mark 8.31; 9. 31; 10. 32 par.) and the whole interpretation ofche
course of the passion (Luke 24. 25, 4Sf). The wuty of this course is
demonstrated in the structW'e and the speciallmking of the passion and
resurrection accow1tS. This is particularly pronounced in Matthew.l 9
Now the one who follows this conrse is the 'Son of God', a title which,
while affording a special insight into the primitive church's understanding
ofJesus (c Mark I. I, II; 9.7; 14.61; Luke I. 35; 22.70; Matt. 2. IS; 14.
33; 16. 16; 27.40,43), nevertheless has its basis in the w1iquc consciousness
of divine Sonship inJesus himsel This consciousness (Mark 12.6; 13. 32;
14. 36), together with Jesus' claim to be the only saving way to the
Father (Matt. II. 25-27), is the decisive starting point not only for the
confessions of primitive Christianity and the early church, but also for
the christology which developed from them and led up to Cha1cedon.2o
It is recognized that within these common basic features each of the
synopcists forms his own picture of Christ. The concept of the Son of Man
stands as the central feature of Mark. Jesus' earthly work is interpreted
from the Messianic secret, which the disciples do not understand (c 6. 52;
8. 17; 9. 10). In this way special emphasis seems to be laid on the darkness
of his sufferings, but at the same time the light of the resurrection, ascen-
sion and parousia (Mark 8. 38; 14. 61; 16. 19) breaks through. Matthew
is the 'Book of the Church' in a special way. The reason for this is not the
occurrence of the word 'ecclesia' (16. 18 j 18.17), but the ecclesiology of the
U Sec K. H. Scbclkle. D lf Pasl iolljesII /I! ifer Verldillifig,lllrg des Nellell Testnmcllles, Heidelberg 1949:
K. Ste\ldb~l, The Sc/,o o/ of St. N[all/lfill olld ils lise of tile olil Tastamelll, U'ppsala 1954. The prevalent
ve[cli~t today on the description of tI\C synoptic gospel! as 'a passion uarrative with (l detailed intra-
du.c;tion' (M. Kiihlc[) is tbat this holds only fOl: Mark. With Dahl. Marxson nnd llornkamm. J.
Schreiber, 'Die Christologie des MnrklJscv3l1golium', ZTlIK 58,1961,154-83. sees in Mau ' the book
of hldden epiphanics' and finds ill it the chrhtoJogy of the Hellenistic CODutltmitics.
20 cr. R. Sdm.,ckcnburg. art. 'Jesus Christ us' in LTbKV, 1960,934: id., 'Sohn Gottes, Gottessohn-
schaft' (I. NT) in LTIrK IX, 1964, 851- 4, with a good survey of aU interpretations of the title 'Son'.
S. stresses the distiuction between 'Son of God' o.nd tbe absolute use of'Son', csp. after F. Hahn, op.
cit., 3zSf., 3S0-404.

gospel itself, which has its basis in the christology.21 At the climax of this
gospel, which has already spoken earlier of the kingdom that has come in
Jesus, there also rings out the famous confession 'You are the Son of the
living God' (16. 6). In the view of the evangelist this is without doubt an
adequate expression of the mystery of the person f Jesus. The figure of
Jesus is raised to divine transcendcllce, which was already a concem, of the
first chapters. The picture of CJu:ist. the bringer of salvation, is drawn, as
in the other gospels, in three particular figures: those of 'Son of God',
'Servant' and 'Son of Man' . In each of these titles the close conjunction of
expressions of exaltation and expressions of humiliation should be noted.
'Son of God', say, is no more to be taken simply as a description of trans-
cendence than 'Servant' as an indication of humiliation. For it is just
this Son of God whp is at the same time the 'Ebed Yahweh' and the
'Ebed Yahweh' who is at the same time the 'Son of God', The title 'Ebed
Yahweh.', which is here lmderstood from its O ld Testament, patriarchal
background, .is well capable of expressing the inward relationship of
Jesus to God, his Fathet.
It is in this t' 13 ionshlp to the Father that the sayings about Jeslls, the
revelation brought by hjm (Matt. II) and his church (Matt. 16. 16) have
their foundation. In Matt. IT the 'Son of Man' and 'mcn' are deliberately
contrasted. The grace and salvation inherent in the 'heavenly mystery' of
the Son of Man are derived from Jesus' relation hip with the Father. Only
God, only the Father 'knows' the SOrl. The twofold YIVWCJ1<IV is not to be
given an intellectual interpretation: precisely in this twofold form it
represents the mutual relationship between the Father, who chooses the
Son in love, and the Son, who in love entrusts himself to the Father. In
this section (Matt. 11.25-30). the statements abollt the Son, who extols the
Father's plan ofsalvation, are intrinsically bound up with the in terpretation
of the saving history. In ch. II,Jeslls, who is compared with the Baptist. is
repn:s<.:nted as the turn of the ages. For he brings in the dominion of God,
because he is the bearer of the spirit, the conqueror of Satan, the beloved
Son of God. In concepts deriving from apocalyptic language (c Dan. 2. 2,
3) and perhaps also from wisdom literature, Jesus is proclaimed as Son of
Man (c Dan. 7. I4), Wisdom and Serval1t (after Isa. 52. 14; 53.2). In his
words and actions, in his person and his conduct, the revelation of the
kingdom of God, the new world of God, is already present, but revealed
only to the little ones and to the poor who treasure the work of God. It is,
then, in this context that the words describing the whole l1niql1e relation-
ship between Father and Son stand. True, in the first place they concern
only the ordering of revelation and salvation. Jesus ascribes to himself a

21 G. Bomkamm, 'End-exjJectation and Church in Matthew', in Bomkamm-Barth-He1d, Traditioll

alld Interpretation in MIlt/I,e,". London l!>63, r5-51; T. De Kruijf, Der SO}III des lebel/digetl Gottes,
IS!H58, and G. Strecker, Op. cit. (for dOlllils ofthcse n. 17 above).

special knowledge of the mysteries of salvation. But they can and must be
carried back further to a transcendent relationship which is the basis of
tllls special knowledge. Jesus himself stresses this unique relationship by
distinguishing clearly between the address to the Father which he himself
uses and that which he allows to men. At no time does he associate him-
self with men in this form of address--a fact which can be noticed more
frequently in Matthew than elsewhere. In using 'Abba', an address im-
permissible to a Jewish mau, as an intimate name for the Father, he is ex-
pressing a filial relationslup tbat surpasses all Old Testament precedent. 22
The relationship of the 'Son of God' to the 'Father' is therefore not just a
more or less technical circumlocution for a special election of Jesus, say,
to be Messianic king: it means a real relationship of Son to Father.
But that is not to say that the eternal generatio~ of the Son and the unity of substance
of Father and Son already find explicit expression here (Matt. II. 25-7). It is not the
metaphysical relationship between Father and Son but their personal rclationship--one
might almost say their moral relationship-that is described. Indeed, it would be better
if we said 'is suggested'. For the intimacy of Father and Son is not considered in itself;
it is revealed as a mysterious reality because of its relationship to the mystery of the
kingdom .... Like the Son of Mall in Daniel, the Son has received 'all' from the Father.
This 'all' includes kingly might, E~OVO'ra, but even more than that: the kingdom itself
is given to the 501). The kingdom is, however, no substantial earthly realityi it isrcalized
by the Son on earth in-his powerless, yet authoritative, proclamation anclin the revelation
of its mystery to the disciples. As revcaler, the Son 'is mediator between God and a number
of ciect, but he is this preci,s dy by virtue of his uniquely intimate relationship to the
Father~ which is more than that of a prophet, a king,. or a fait!UlIl servant: the Son of God
really lS the beloved Son, to whom the Father can give all tlUlIgS.23
In Matt. 16. 13-19, too, Peter's confession is more than a confession of
the Jewish Messiah. This is above all clear from the Old Testament back-
ground once more presupposed here. as in ch. II-again Daniel, but also
Num. II-I 3. The Son (of Man), to whom all was given by the Father, is
not only the revealer of the kingdom; in Ius revelation he also realizes the
kingdouL The basileia is thekingdOlll of heaven, the kingdom of God. In
so f.1r as the Son realizes it, it is the kingdom of the Son (of Man-c
Matt. 13. 41). III so far as the kingdom is realized 011 earth. it is the 6KK/\'T1CTlcx,
the people of the saints. The Son is mediator between the kingdom of
heaven and the tKKAT)O'(cX llpon earth. Just as the Father has given 'all' to
him, including precisely this position as mediator, so too the Son gives to
Peter the 'keys of the kingdom of heaven' On the strength of the latter's
confession offaith in him as the Son. So there is a rcciprow'll relationshi?
between the confession of faith and the promise given to Peter. Peter s
22 J.Jeremias, 'Characteristics of the ipsissima IIoxjesu', The Prayers ofjesus, SBT 11 6, London 1967,
23 T. De Kruijf, Der Sohn des lebendigen Golles (see n. 17 above), 75-6; for what follows cf. ibid.,
So-8 (Matt. 16. 16); Ill-IS (Matt. 28. 19); 142-9. See too A. M. Hunter, 'Crux criticorum-
Matt. II. 2S-3o-A Re-appraisal', NTS 8, 1961-62, 241-9.

confession of faith is in fact a confession of the 'Son' as the mediator

between God and the people, between the kingdom of heaven and the
coming kingdom on earth, the church. Dut again, as in II. 27. Jesus can
only be this unique mediator on the basis of11is unique relationship to the
Father. So here too we already have another indication that Jes US has more
than a purely functional significance.
Matthew II. 27 already points us on to Matt. 28. 18, with Dan. 7. 13ff.
once again standing in the backgrolUld: 'All power (~~ovakx) is given to
me in heaven and in earth.' The eschatological realization of the kingdou).
has taken concrete form in the church, which already exists in nHce in the
disciples and now receives the commission to extend itscl The command
to baptize els TO ovo~o: is an intimation of the saving work of the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit. It expresses the living unity of Father, Son
and Spirit, particularly their common concern in the saving work. JlLSt as
this saving work had its beginning in the baptism ofJesus, so too it begins
in the faithful through baptism as the saving work of the church. So in
the confession of the 'Son' (els TO QVOIlCX TOO vloO) we are to think
of the whole richness of the Son of God sayings in Matthew, and particu-
larly Matt. 3. 17 and II. 27 (the absolute use of the 'Son'). The role of
Jesus in the realization of the kingdom and the wlique relationship of the
Son to the Father is thus summed up in the one word 'Son'.
In contrast to Matthew and Mark, the christology of the evangelist
Luke is moulded more by Hellenistic thought. Jesus is the 'Saviour' (2. II),
who still in the works of his messengers 'proclaims salvation' to all the
world (EvcxyyeAl3Ea6cxt is a favourite word of Luke's). He is the 1 elper
ofa11 (7. 13), doctor to the sick, the friend of sinners (7.36-50; IS; 18. 9-14;
19.2-10; 23 . 43), the succour of the poor (6.20; 14. 12; 16. 19- 31). He
respects women (8. Iff.; 10. 38- 42; 23. 27) and attacks the powerful (13.
3 Iff. ; 23. 8). Ie is the living embodiment of goodness, of piety and of
patience in suffering (22. 44; 23 34.46).
All these synoptic statements abollt Jesus are related to the concrete
situation of salvation histol'y24 in wJlich he stands. The backgroll.n d of the
synoptic christology is the history of God's doings with men. Jesus always
begins from the Old Testament concept of God. But in the Old Testament
Goo is a God ofhistory. For this reason Jesus also begins his preaching with
the comprehensive announcement 1TETrATJPCtJTClI 0 KClIpOS KCXt ilYYIKev 'Ii
[3o:alAEio: TOO 6Eoi) (Mark I . IS), that is, the decisive point in history has
now arrived. The rule of God is breaking ill. But Jesus goes on to show
that in these historical acts of God he himselfhas a special, indeed, the Olle
24 Cf. H. Conzelmann, The Theology of St. Luke, London 1960; O. Cullmann. Christ alld Time,
London 196z1 Cf. G. Strecker, Der Weg der Gcreclltigkeit(seen. 17 above), 186: 'The synoptists have
in common a salvation-historical motivation for the life ofJesus.' On the idea of salvation history see
J. Frisque. Oscar Cul/mallll. Vile tlle%gie de l'histoire du sallit (Cahiers de \'Actualite Religieuse II),
1960, 7-279.

decisive, place. After God had sent 'his servants', i.e. the prophets, to the
Jewish people to recover his 'fruit', he now last of all sent 'his beloved Son'
(Mark 2. 1- 12 par.). With this, the climax of the history of Israel has
arrived, and for the last time the 'time of visitation' is offered to this people
(Luke 19. ). This history even becomes a time of preparation for Jesus
Christ; what the scriptures prophesied about the Messiah has been fulfilled
in his person (Luke 4. 16-30; Matt. II. 2-6 par.; Luke 24.25-27,44-49;
Mark 12.35-37 par.). With Jesus, the acts of God cease to limit themselves
to the sphere ofIsrael; they now extend to tbe whole history of mankind
(c Luke 4. r8). In this Jesus of Nazareth, earthly and human as he was,
who died a criminal's death, the Son ofMan and Messiah and so the judge
of the world has appeared among men.

(c) Pauline christology

The central christological ideas of Paul are the notion ofIre-existence
(though this is more presupposed than explicitly taught) an the worship
of Christ as Kyrios. Both. however, were already at hand for him to use.
He simply deepened the ideas and adapted them for preaching in the
Hellenistic coDlluwuties, at the same time composing them into a universal
vision of the history of salvation. The notion of pre-existence already l1ad
strong roots in Judaism, not only in apocalyptic, but also among the rabbis
and in wisdom speculation. 23 The visionary speeches of Ethiopian Enoch
attribute a heavenly pre-existence to the Sou of Man, sometimes the
'Elect One' (39. 6ff.; 40. S; 48.2,6; 49.2; 62. 6). According to other
conceptions, the Messiah is fust in a condition of concealment, later to
'reveal' lUmself(4 Esd. 7. 28; 12. 32; 13. 2S; Syr. Apoc. Bar. 39 3; 39.
7; Sibyll. V. 414). Among the rabbis, a pre-existence of the Messiah is
assumed only as an idea in the thought of God, though 3't the same time a
real pre-existence of his soul is held (Strack-Billerbeck II, 339- 352). The
Jewish-Hellenistic wisdom literature is more important for Paul thall
apocalyptic and the rabbis. Here 'Wisdom' is extolled as something
existing before the world. and already working in creation (Job 28. 20-28;
Bar. 3. 32-38; Provo 8.22-31; Ecclus. I. 4, 9; 24.3-22; Wisd. 7 25; 9
9). Paul begins from here (1 Cor. 1. 18-2. 16; ro. 1-5. In 10. 4 the 'rock
that followed' is the pre-existent Christ. Plulo had already interpreted this
rock as Wisdom: Leg. all. II, 86; Deter. IIS-I8). The link with the wis'-
dom is particularly close where Patll speaks of the work in
creation of the pre-existent Logos. now made manifest in Christ. This
happens in the ancient formula of I Cor. 8. 6 (... Kol eTs KVPIOS 'ITlo-oOs
XPIO"T6s, 51' ov TO- lfCnITCX Koi rUlErS 51' cx\rrov), further in Col. I. I5ff.
(sec below), in Heh. I. 2 and finally in John 1. Iff. (sec below).
25 See E. Schweizer. 'Zur Herkunft cler Praexistenzvorstellung bei Paulus'. EvT1I19. 19S9. 6S-70
(speaking about 1 Cor. 8. 6; 10.4; Rom. 10. 6f.; Gal. 4. 4).

In addition, Paul also has his own way of e pressing pre-existence, in

that he speaks of the 'sending' of the 'Son of God' into the world (Gal.
4. 4) It is in this title 'Sou' that Paul expresses his own conception of
Christ. For him Jesus Christ is quite simply 'the Son oIGod' (2 Cor. I. 19
and often), he is 'God's own $011' (Rom. 8. 32). In speaking of the coming
of this Son, Paul can survey the whole of his career. which leads to
inca1'11ation and cntcifixioll (Rom. 5. 10; 8. 32), but goes on to resurrection,
exaltation. and finally the secohd coming (1 Thess. 1. 10).
In describing Christ as Kyrios, Paul is wlderstandably influenced by the
ideas of the Septuagint. He does so whenever he speaks of the redemptive
work of Christ towards his believers (Rom. 10 12; 2 Cor. 3. 18) or
celebrates his status as ruler over the cosmos (Phil. 2 . II; I Cor. 2. 8; cf.
IS. 25; Eph. 1. 20ff.). But this Kyrios is also described on the lines of a
Hellenistic cult-deity-by means of a contrast. Christ as the only Kyrios is
set over against the 'gods' and 'lords' that are worshipped ill the world
(1 Cor. 8. sf.). As the community of Christ, the Christian worshipping
community has nothing to do with the pagan sacrificial cuItus (I Cor. o.
21). Paul can therefore talk of 'our' Lord Jesus Christ as he is so fond of
doing. To Christ the community of believers belongs: he is its Lord an.d
Saviour (crwrrflP Phil. 3.20) and its inner ullity (Eph. 4. 5). This is the way
in which Pa ul has expoLluded the Kyrios concept as legitimate for the
Greek world.
The establishment of the 'cosmic christology' in Col. 1. lSff. represents
a new step. It is directed against the so-called O'TOIXEicx speculatio,n (Col.
2 . 8.20) which threatens to leave no place for the mediation and redemp-
tive work of Christ; the Jewish- Gnostic angel cult (Col. 2. 18) and the
worship of 'principalities and powers' seem to be taking up his place
(Col. I. 16). The space between God and the material world is occupied by
these powers which have the rule and government of the world. In the
light of the Pauline doctrine of redemption, subservience to these powers
represents voluntary slavery and loss ofCIu:istian freedom. The primacy of
Christ in creation and history (the chtu'ch) is therefo e displayed with full
force (see below) . Similar terms and ideas are used to advance this cosmic
christology in Ephesians. The divine plan of salvation reaches its climax in
Christ. Throttgh him the whole cosmos is being returned to its original
ordering. Here the concept of anakephalaiosis. so important for the
christological theology of history to come, is introduce 1 (Bph. 1. 10). The
whole of the past and the future, the earthly and the heavenly, is to be
contained in Christ, the sovereign head. He is also peace among mank.iJ d,
between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2. I4-r8) . Serious attention is being paid
to tbis combinatioll of a cosmic and salvation-historical chcistology again
ouly ill modern times (0. Cull mann , J. Danielou and others).
If predominantly Hellenistic thought is to be detected in the interpreta-

tion of Christ outlined above, Paul also has ideas that are determined more
by J udaism. Tile most important of these is his description of Christ as
'Second Adam'. This Adam-Christ typology is sign ificant as mu.c h iu the
anthl'Opologicalui as in the theological and historical sphere. The ruin
incurred by Adam is abWldantly made good again in Christ. The 'last
Adam', himself a 'lifcgiving spirit', will change us at the resurrection from
'earthly, adamitic' meu il1to the image of the 'heavenly' and spiritual, as
he himselfhas ah:eady been changed in his resurrection (Rom. S. I2- 2r ;
I Cor. IS. 44-49). Christ as the perfect image of God (Col. I. IS) will in
this way agaiu restore in us the original likeness of God. The 'new man' is
inaugurated (Col. 3. ID ; c Eph. 4. 24). The Fathers have here a firm
starting l?oint for their soteriological emphasis on the true and complete
manhood of Christ.
Now that we have attempted to describe the Pauline picture of Christ
in a broad sweep, we must move on further and investigate some of the
most important christological formulas.27
(d) Pauline christo logical formulas
Romans 1. 3, 4. The character of this inexhaustible passage can be seen
to some extent just from its ordered construction.
(a) v. 3 1TEp\ TOO vioO MOO
(b) Toii yeVOI-\EVOV v4 TOO oPlcrl}EVTOS
(c) EK O"1TEpl-\ClTOS t.cxv15 vioO 6eoO EV 5vvcqlel
(d) KClTO: o-O:PKCX KClTO: lTveOl-\cx ay1waVv11s
E~ avcxaTo:o-ews veKpoov
(a) '1110-00 XplaTOO TOO Kvp!ov TJI-\OOV
The symmetrical and antithetical arrangement of the clauses is unmistak-
The subject of all the statements stands out quite clearly: it is the 'Son
of God, Jesus Christ our Lord'. Like a pair of brackets it endoses two sets
of clauses of which it is the exclusive concern. This Son of God is the wllole
Panl is not concerned here to put the divinity and the humanity of
Christ over against each other in the same sort of way as the later doctrine
of the two natures. His two formulas' kata sarka-kala plleuma' were soon
understood in this sense. Ce tainly there is here, as cJsewherc in Pa ul,
belief in the prc;:,cxistcl1t Son of God and a't the same time recognition of
the true humanity of Christ. Phil. 2. 5-II and also 2 Cor. 8. 9; Col. 1. 16 ;
Gal. 4. 4 show this with sufficient clarity. They presuppose that Christ's
26 W. D. Stacey, The Paulille View of Mall, London 1956. Here the Christian character of
Pauline anthropology is emphasized.
21 On what follows cf. L. Cerfaux, Le Christ dallS la Thtlologie de Saillt Paul, Paris 1951; E. Schweizer,
Lordship and Discipleship, SBT I 28, London 1960.

career has already begun before he enters into history, in a 'being' without
beginning, since he already is in the form of God when he sets out upon
the historical part of h is life. According to R m. 8. 3; Gal. 4. 4, he who is
sent is already Son, and, moreover, Son of God in contrast to all those
who are to become sons after him and with him (c 6 vlos MOV I Thess. I.
IO; Rom. I. 9; 5. IO; 8. 29; TOV CavTOV vi6v Rom. 8. 3; TOV i810v viov
Rom. 8. 32, etc.). We are not therefore compelled to say that Christ
originally only dle Son of David, became the SOl1 of God through the
miraculous vents at his birth, baptism, resurrection and ascension. On the
contrary, all this happens to one who is already the Son of od, but n w
after the flesh is born of the seed ofDavid (Rom. 1. 3; Gal. 4. 4) . In other
words, Paul is n t concerned to set the divine nature and the human
nature in Christ side by side and to describe them. Rather, he is concerned
with two historical events which God has brought about in Christ so as
to show him forth as bringer of salvation. The first event-an event of
humiliation-is his birth of the seed of David. Seed here means the same
as 'house' (Luke I. 55; Mark I2. 22; John 8.33; Rom. 4. I3, I6). 'After
the flesh' need not be regarded, as in Gal. 4. 23, 29, as the way in which
or the cause through which Christ comes to be descended from the house
of David, that is to say, it need not mean 'in a fie luy, natural or human
way' as opposed to a more exalted mode of conception. T he two 'modes
of conception' are contrasted in Gal. 4. 23 , 29. Here, in Rom. I. 3,4, Paul
is concerned to represent the birth from the see lof avid as a first saving
event brought about by God, a saving event which, however, means a
humiliation for Christ. PauJ is probably not thinking here in the first place
of the conception by the. Holy Spirit (Luke 1. 35), though this is certajnly
included. The coming of Christ in tl~e flesh is brought about by God
because it is in fact the Son of God who comes in the flesh. ltis aluuniliation
because the Son of God appears as man. With the coming of this Son in
the flesh, the basis of salvation is already laid. The order of sons has already
come into being (cE. Rom. 8; Gal. 4. 4-6).
For this order of 'sons' to be set up completely, however, Christ,
humbled in his fleshly birth and in this fleshly nature crucified, had to be
shown to be Son of God in his existence in the flesh. This is stated in the
second series of express' ODS.
They are concemed wjth the exaltation of Christ in the resurrection by
the power of God ill the Holy Spirit. There has been much debate about
the mealling of 0p!3EIV.28 The Greek expedient of taking the word to
refer not to the actual constituting of the Sonship but to its revelation is
possible, but does not fuJ ly reproduce the apostle's thought. 'OpI3E1V need
not be limited to a 'revel tion' . Originally it means to 'bound', 'circum-
scribe', 'define', hence to give a clearer definition to what is already there.
28 M.-E. Boismard, 'Constitue Fils de Dieu (Rom. 1.4)', RB 60,1953,5-17.

It can refer to a real 'elevation to the Sonship of God'. From its opposition
to the YEVOj.lEVOV of the first series we must assume that 0plcr6EVTOS too
describes a fundamental event in the history of the Son of God. As in the
first section we have a description of the beginning of his early existence,
after the flesh , so here we have the beginning of his he.weuly existence,
but again 'after the flesh'. Both are predicated of one who is already Son
before he starts on this career. N everthelcs$, we have here a real 'exaltation'
to dominion which is accomplished in the Son by the Father. But this is
an exaltation of the incarnate Christ (cf. Acts IO. 42, 'appointed by God
to bejudge'). Christ is appointed not merely Son of Go d, b nt 'SOll of God
in power'-unless EV 8VVaj.lEI refers to the power of the Father in the
resurrection, as in Eph. I. 19 (c Rom. 6. 4). But even jn this case it would
mean the establishment of the incarnate C hrist in his place of dominion
througl the resllrrectiol'Lancl the ascension, as in Ps. lIO (ro9). r (Sit tho u
at my right hand), cf Mark 16. 9 ; Eph. r. 20; Heb. 1. 3. This 'SOil of
God in power' is contrasted with the 'Son of God in weakness'. [n other
words, PaLlI here uses basically the same features to describe the h istorjcal
career of the supra-historical Son of God as he does in Phil. 2. 5-II. The
elevation to be Son of God (also after the flesh) and the elevation from the
form of a servant to the dominion of Kyrios and Son-these titles corre-
spond one with the other-was accomplished 'according to the spirit of
holiness, by the resurrection of the dead'. KOTCx o-apKO: is opposed to KOTCx
1TVEVj.lO:, and it is j nst becanse of this opposition_that Rom. I . 3, 4 exerted a
powerful influ nee in history, as in a similar way did John 1. 14.
But w hat is the christological significance of the opposition? This
becomes clear from what has been said earlier. Rom. T . 3,4 is not intended
to contrast soul and body in Christ as anthropological factors. That would
be to mistake the sense of the whole passage. Does it then simply contrast
the human and the divine nature in Christ? It is quite biblical to use sarx
to describe the humanllature. Bnt is pneuma in Paul Christ's divine nature?
Th is interpretation is certainly possible, but is not valid for Rom. . 3,4.
Paul is here contrasting not so mnch the two natures (in the same way as the
diphysitism of later christology) as two conditions nnder which Cluist
exists and the effects which these conditions have on one and the same
kind of existence in Christ, that is, his fleshly nature. The condition of
humiliation, which is governed by the mere fact of the incarnation, is
contrasted with the condition of exaltation, which is determined by the
power of the Spirit. To be servant in the flesh, then, is contrasted with
having dominion as Kyrios in the flesh. Being exalted, being Lord, even
'partaking in the Lordship of the Son after the fleshly nature', all are
synonymous. This view of Christ as humiliated because of the incarnation,
and exalted and in his exaltation declared to be Son, also after the flesh,
is truly Pauline. But at this point it would be totally un-Pauline not to go

behind the conditions under which Christ exists and to see there, as a
background, what he actually is, both God and man. It then follows that
while sarx-pneuma does not mean a formal opposition of Godhead and
manhood in Christ in the sense of the later terminology, this opposition
nevertheless underlies all the assertions in Rom.!. 3,4, because the divine
Son of the Father is horn of the house ofDavicl after the flesh.
Alongside ROUl. I. 3. 4 and Col. 1. 15 ft , th e most p owerful and most
coucentrated expression of the chcistology of Paul's letters is to be fowl d
ill phil. 2 . 5- 11. It is th ngh t today by many scholars that the p assage 1s a
h ymn, and is, m oreover, pre-Paulin. According to J. R. GeiscLmann,29
who draws largely on E. Lohmeyer, there are here th ree strophes which
depict the 'cou.rse of events in the salvation history' : pre-e..'{istence,
kenosis and. the super-exaltation' of C hrist, w uich has its fOlUldation in
the kenosis:
5 Toi1TO cppoveiTe EV vj.liv 0 Kcxt EV XpIOTej) 'lrjO"oO
(I) 6 os EV j.lopq)'1J eeoO vrrcXpxc.uv
OVK aprro:yj.lov 1']yfJo-CXTO TO eTVCXI fo-cx eeej)
7 &"AM ECXVTOV EKEvc.uo-ev
1J0pcpTjv Bou"Aov "Acx~wv
(II) EV OJ.lOIWj.lCXTI &vepwrrc.uv yevoj.leVOS
Kcxl o-xfJj.lCXTI evpeeels ws &vepc.urros
8 ho:rre{vc.uo-ev ECXVTOV
yevoj.leVOS v-rrfJKooS j.lEXpl eexveXTov
6exvcXTOV Be OTexvpOO.
(III) 9 Blo Kcxt 6 eeos ooiTov v-rrepu~c.uo-ev
KCXt EXCXp{o-CXTO cxV-rej) TO OVOj.lCX TO vrrEp rrav OVOj.lCX
10 ivcx EV Tej) 6VOj.lCXTI '1110-00
1Tav y6w KcXj.I~1J Errovpexv{c.uv Kcxl E7Tlye{c.uv KCXt KCXTCXX60v{c.uv
II KCXt rrao-cx y"Awo-o-cx E~Oj.lo"AoyfJo-11TCXI chi Kuplos '1110-00S XplOTOS
els B6~exv 6eoO rrCXTp6s.
In the fust strophe. the hymn contains the idea of the pre-existence of
Christ, as h as already been indicated: os EV j.lOpcpfj 6eov V1TcXpXc.uV. Now
this j.lopcpf) should not be taken in the classical (Aristotelian) sense as
m eanin g essentia,forma. The term is intended to define the sphere in which
the pre-existent Christ stands, the sphere which deter mines him like a
field of force. T hat is the way in which m ode of being is defined in
H ellenism) 0 Kasemann therefore trallslates 'a m ode of existence in divine

29 J. R. Geiselmann,}esus der Chris/us, Stuttgart 1951; P. Henry, art. 'Kenosc', Dic/Bih/(Suppl) V,

1950,7-161 ; E. Kasemann, 'Kritische Analyse von Phil. 2.5-II', ZThK 47, 1950, 313-60; G. Born-
kamm, 'On Understanding the Christ-hymn (Phil. 2. 6-II)'. in Early Chris/ian Experience, London
1969, II2-22; E. Schweizer, 'Die Hcrkunft der Priiexistenzvorstellung bei Paulus', EvTh 19, 1959.
30 E. Kasemann. 0p. cit., 330f.

power and substance',31 But even if such a Hell.enistic influellce can be

conceded, the content of EV 1l0P<Pfj 6eou is still primarily to be defined
from its opposition to EV 1l0p<pfj 80VAOV. This servant-idea is fundamental
to the hymn and points back to Isa. 53 (c esp. vv. 3, 8, 12). On the other
hand, the appeal to the Adam-Christ typology (with the anthropos-myth
as an alleged background) makes interpretation more difficult instead of
making it easier. It cannot be demonstrated that 00< o:pmxYllov TjyijO"<XTO
is meant to refer to Adam's aspiration to be like God. Nor is there any
indication dut the pre-existent Christ had to resist a temptation that
would have seduced him into grasping after the Godhead (as a res rapienda).
Indeed, he is already EV 1l0P<P1S 6OU.
The most natural interpretation of the passage yields the following
meaning: he who was fOlmd in a divine mode of being did not wish to
cling to Ius position ill selfish exploitation. Instead h gave himself up to
the condition of kenosis (c 2 Cor. 8.9: l5l' Vilas hrrcbXEVO"EV '!TAOVO'IOS wv).
But this kenosis is defined iIi the same sentence by a participle, Ao:f3cbv! This
means that by becomlng man, the pre-existent Christ, who exists in a
divine mode of being, chooses a mode of existence wwch is a concealment
of his proper being. l-:Iistorical existence as man can never express what
the pre-existent Christ is in himsel Because this kenosis is a 'taking', or
better an 'adding', the first kind of being is not done away with. He who
is on an equality with God adds something to his divinity, the form of a
servant. The being which he assumes serves more to conceal than to reveal
him. The EKEVWO"EV ECXVT6v is expressed from a human, not a divine, stand-
point. For him it is a humiliation before us, but in accordance with the
will of God. This humiliation can already be seen in his acceptance of the
form of a servant, i.e. in the incarnation as such.
But it is not the intention of the hymn to isolate the incarnation and to
regard it by itscl It contains no reflection 011 the fact of the pre-existcnt
Christ's equality with God ill relation to God, nor does it say anything
about how this 'equality with God' is related to manhood in a concrete
way. We have herc neither a description of two kinds of being nor even
a description of two conditions of being; attention is directed rather
towru;ds the cOllrse ofCruist's self-humiliation. The hymn portrays a drama
of salvation Justory. 'the redeeming course which the pre-existent Cl1rist
has traversed through his self-surrender and self-humiliation until that
particlliarly significant event in salvation-history, ])is death, and his
exaltation as Kyrios of the whole world',32 For this reason, the main stress
lies on the second strophe, v. 8, i.e. on the depth of the self-surrender
achieved by obedience in suffering LUuil death. The 1l0P<Pft 50VAOV there-
31 J. Dupont, JCJus-Christ clans SOn abaissement et son exaltation d'apres Phi!. 2. 6-n', RSR 37,
1950, 500-14, transbtes 'colldition divine'. M. Meinertz. Thcologie des Nellell Teslamellles II, Bonn
1950, 64. 'E rsclll:in\lng~wcisc in gtltrlicbcr Majestat und Herrlichkeit'.
J2 J. R. Geiscll11ann, op. cir., 140.

fore does not just embrace the plain fact of the incarnation but in v. 7b
already points clearly towards the death of the one who assumes human
nature. But it would be false to overlook this plain fact of the incarnation.
Any docetic llllderstallding of the incarnation is quite excluded by the
first two verses of the second strophe (w O},A01W},ACXTI ). Kiisemann sees
il Koi (ry.rl},ACXTI ' even a sharpening of "being made in the likeness of
men" , (EV O},A01Wi-J,CXTl .O:v6pwTLWV YEVOIlEVOS) and a protection against any
qualifying of the incarnation. 33 The pre-existent Cl1!ist has assumed a true
1l0p<pi] of manhood to offer the obedience refused by men.
Now that the lowest point of this course has been reached with Christ's
death on the cross, the ascent begins (third strophe). In form, the presenta-
tion of this exaltation l~as the style of an enthronement, with the individual
acts of monnting the throne, proclaiming the new dignities, proskynesis
and acclamation. Exaltation, described as an enthronement, means sitting
at the right hand of God. There is no mention here of the resurrection, as
the 'humiliation-exaltation' framework does not require it to be stressed,
but it is not, of course, excluded. It is here that we have the foundations
of the Kyrios cult, the biblical derivation of which is at the same time
demonstrated by the passage, as it is clear that v. I I has been governed by
Isa. 45.23: 'or very knee hall be bowed to me (Yahweh)'. The divine
name Yahweh, translated 0 KVP10S by the LXX, was transferred by the
primitive church to the crvv6povos of God, to whom the rule of the world
has been entrusted. The church, which unites itself with the spiritual
powers, worshjps Jesus as God.
This third strophe, chen, betrays a connection with the ancient 'exalta-
tion-christology'. According to R. Schnackenburg this is also an indica-
tion that the fust stropbe does not presuppose the (mthropos myth, but
reflects on the pre-existe11ce whicll precedes the humiliation.3 4The Christ-
hymn of Phil. 2 depicrs the 'super-exaltation' of the Christian redeemer
whose 'llU.lnHiation is all the more inconceivable because of his heavenly
origin. Recent scholarship rightly emphasizes that this hymn is not in the
fust place concerned wirh Christ's being, with the unfolding of the
mysteriuIII Christi ill accordance with the framework of the doctrine of two
natures, but looks towards the salvation event. On the other hand, how-
ever, it would be false to refuse the later theology of the church the right
to reflect upon the being of Christ with the help of this hymn. As the pre-
existence of Christ is included or at least pre-supposed in its approach,
since the name Kyrios must be understood as a divine predicate, while
nevertheless the true manhood of the pre-existent Christ is being discussed,
this reflection can find a legitimate starting point here.
That Paul should depict Christ in such a way is of tremendous import-
ance for the whole tradition of the church. It is a 'katagogic' christology,
33E. Kasemann, op. cit., 339. 34 R. Schnackenburg, LThK v, 935.

which makes any 'anagogic' christology such as the adoptionist spirit-

christology impossible. And because everything that happens to the
historical Christ has its essential resting-place in pre-existence, a clear place
in the framework can be accorded to the 'exaltation'.
Colossians 1. 15-20 (with 2 Cor. 4. 4):
(I) (13 eis TtlV [3aO"IAelav TOV viov TfjS cXyOOrllS aVTov)
15 OS EO"TIV eh<oov TOV 6EOV o:opCrrov
16 OTI EV aUT~ EKTi0-6ll TeX ;r6:vTa
EV ToiS ovpavois Kat E;rl TfjS yfjs,
TeX opa-reX Kal TeX o:opa-ra
SiTE 6povOl SiTE KvptOTllTES EiTe O:PXal EiTe E~ovO"ial
TeX ;r6:VTa 01' aUTOV Ked E!S aUTOV EKTIO"Tal
17 Kat aUTos EO"TIV ;rpo ;r6:vTC.vv Kal TeX ;r6:VTa EV aUT~ OVVEO"TllKEV
18 Kat aUTos Eo;TIV 'Ii KE<paAtl TOV O"wlla-roS, TfjS EKKAllO"las,
iva yeVllTal EV ;ro:O"lV CXUTOS ;rpwTEvwv
(II) 19 em EV aUT~ SVOOKT)O"EV ;ro:v TO ;rAfJPwlla Ka-rOIKfjO"al
20 Kal 01' CXVTOV o:;rOKa-rCXAA6:~al TeX ;r6:VTa ets cxVTOV,
e!pT)VO;rOlt1O"CXS OleX TOV cxYIla-rOS TOV O"TCXVpOV MOV, 01' aUTov
she TeX E;rl TfjS yfjs eiTe TO EV Tois ovpavoiS.

According to E. Schweizer (see u. 27 above) we probably have here a

hymn which was used by Christians. In it, Hellenistic-Jewish ideas are
used to explain the status of Christ. The hymn stands within a thanks-
giving for the mystery of OUf election in Christ with the saints through the
Father; the connection between this and the hymn is the mention of
Christ. In the second strophe (18b- 20), in contrast to the ordering of
creation (I5- I8a). the ordering of salvation is considered, that ordering
which is brought abollt through the death and resurrection ofJesus Christ.
This antithesis is intentional and is also emphasized in the construction of
the verses. The first and second strophes are joined by an interll1de (r7.
r8a), which in its first verse echoes Stoic terms anJ concepts, while being
in the second half a wholly Pauline theological composition.
(i) The s~/bject oj ihe christological expressioHS oj Col. 1. 15.f The q ueSUOll
considered is: 'What sort of a Christ is it who has received the kingdom
from the Father (v. 13)?' Concern, then, is with the exalted Christ and
therefoI"e with the God-man . In addition, the statements about the pre-
existent Christ are intended to strengthen faith in the exalted Christ among
the Colossians. For this faith is in danger of being constrained by their
beliefin the spiritual powers. Attention is therefore drawn to the incarnate

Christ from the ycry beginning, in the glory of his exaltation. To divide
the exprcssions into those which concern only the pre-existent Christ, in-
dependently of thc incarnation, and those which concern the incarnate qua
incarnate is q wte unj l1stifia ble. The d iscussi n is concerned notso much with
the relationship of Christ to the Father as with his relationship to the world,
though, of COl1rse, the latter derives from his relationship to the Father.
(ii) The content of the christological expressions. Here the expression E1Kwv,
wruch also occurs at 2 Cor. 4. 4, is of particular significance. 3s According
to tIus latter passage the glory of God is visible 'in the face of Christ'. For
Christ is the elKdw TOO 6eou. The phrase Tfis B6~f)5 TOV XPHJTOU, 6s ~O"TIV
etKc.:.>v 'TaU 6eov in v. 4 corresponds to the phrase TfjS B6~llS TOU 6EOO tv
'Tl'pOO'W1T~ XplO"TOV in v. 6. The glory of Christ is none other than the glory
of God which becomes visible in the face of Christ; this is only a para-
phrase of what the predicate 'image of God' means: Christ as etKwv of
God is the one who makes possibJe knowledge of God. God himself
becomes visible ill Ch.rist, his image. Christ as image of God is therefore
the revelation and the represclltation of God. (In this the influence of
Jewish teaching ab ut Soplli can be traced. 'Sophia' bears the title EiKWV
of God and represents a heavenly beil g. But the expressions which
Hellenistic Judaism applied to Sophia-stili probably conceived of as
impersonal-are in Paul applied to the historical Christ in his total status:
c I Cor. 8. 6 and Col. r. IS where Christ is described as mediator of
creation. In :E aul the pre-existent Christ and the divine wisdom of the
Jews are Olle and the same figure.) In Col. r. I sff the cosmological signi-
ficance of Christ as the image of God comes to the forefront. The church
is to be ShOWil by the emphasis on this status of Christ as image of G9d
that in rum she has something which 110 angel can be and which needs no
completioll by another reveaJer and bringer of salvation. But this making
visible of God who is himself invisible does not mean that he is made
visible for human eyes here and now; rather, it refers to that vision of the
glory of Christ which according to 2 Cor. 3. 18 is the possession of all
Christians in so far as they have a part in the oikonomia of the pneuma. In
Christ his EIKwv, God, the &opcrros, becomes visible, opcrr6s, i.e. is
manifest not only through the person and work ofJesus (c I John 1. Iff),
but als through preac1ullg and proclamation accepted in faith. Thus
&6pCXTOs is, as Chrysostom already recognized, an expression of the incom-
prehen.sibility of God.
In addition, a second expression became significant for christology,
'Tl'PCA:lTOTOKOS 1TCxc:rT)S KTiO'ECA:lS. It is used to describe the pre-em.inent position
of Christ in the whole world (TO: 1TCxVTex). Christ's office as revealer, as
image of God in the world, gives him a special statu in the cosmos. He is
3' Cf. W. Eltester, Eikon im Neuen Testamellt, Berlin 1958, especially 13O-S2;J.Jervell, Imago Dei,
Gen. I. 26 im Spiiljudenlum, in cler Gliosis und in den paulinischen Briefen, Giittingen 1959.

the firstborn. npOOTOTOKOS should not be read as a temporal definition. It

says ill biblicallallguage that a factual 'pre-' corresponds to the temporal
'pre-' of the firstborn (Ps. 89. 28; Exod. 4. 22; Heb. 12. 23). It simply
indicates a 'dign,ity'. Christ the firstborn is to be displayed inl1is lordship
over the angelic powers and here a 'temporal' existence before the angels
is not the point in question. True, the Fathers of the fOUl'th century, and
later sti11Joho of Damascus, interpret Col. 1. IS of the Son of God who is
of one substance with the Father. This was because they wished to deprive
the AriatlS, who made a coutrast between elKwv, au inferior copy, and the
original, and saw in 1TpC.)TOTOKOS au indication of the createdness of the
Logos, of the right to refer to these passages. In this way they were able to
make what is contained implicitly in this passage into an explicit assertion.
But at the same time, this interpretation did not allow the particular
christology of the passage to make itself felt later. Marcellus of Ancyra,
however, had already interpreted the Colossians passage as referring to
the incarnate Christ as the image of the Father (c GCS Eu ebius- Werke,
Vol. 4, frags. 90-7). Bm Paul does not mean to speak explicitly of pre-
existence in the pure Godhead; he presupposes it. In 1TPCA'lTOTOKOS, there~
fore, he is not stressing the difference between the being and existence of
Christ and that of men and spirits. 'Firstborn' has been chosen because of
tlle 1TPWTO!i and expresses the element of Christ's dignity and Lordship.
Christ enjoys absolute primacy over all creatures (comparative genitive)
among which, as the context indicates, are included spiritual beings, angels
and men. For in him (tv miTe} and through him (Bt' ou-roo) and for him
(els miTov) all things have been created. Without distinction between his
ideal pre-existence (Christ foreseen by God as a crea.ture) and his personal
pre-existence as the eternal Son, Christ is described as the 'firstborn' of the
whole creation.
This primacy of Christ in creation is the basis of his primacy in redemp-
tion (second strophe). Christ alone is lord of the church. It was the ordin-
ance of God that 'he' (miTos I), he and no other, should bave the rank of
'firstborn' in the church also. Since Christ has received this rank and
fullness (c Col. I. 19; 2. 9) from his Father, he is, by virtu.e of his pre-
eminence over creation, capable of redeeming the universe from the
dominion of the powers. God's decision 'to re-establish all things in
Christ' (Eph. r. ro) has laid all things under his feet (Eph. 1. 22). A new
and living bond comes into being between Christ and that part of the
universe which accepts his Lordship: Christ and the church take 011 the
unity of head and body. Christ pours out the whole fullness of life and
grace (pleroma, Eph. r. 23) over this his clmfch, as he himself is the fullness,
the pleroma, of the Father (Col. 1. r9; 2 . 9). Of the wll'\terse, only the
church may call itself the body and fllLlness of Christ. [n it he therefore
also remains presel1t in the woild.

All the Pauline letters regard christology from this salvation-historical

viewpoint. In Christ, the rule of God becomes event and reality and at
the same time the salvation of the world. To such an extent is God active
in Christ that the name of God, which is elsewhere reserved for the Father,
is, in one text concerned with the salvation history, Titus 2. 13, applied
to Jesus Christ (c PJ,iJ. 2. II).
We will just mention briefly the introductioll to the Epistle to the
Hebrews, which shows some affinity to tJle Colossians hymn. Here, too,
creation and redemption are closely linked together. Christ, sitting at the
right halld of the Father and inheritor of the kingdom of God (c Col. I.
12; Heb. 1. 3). conld receive this rank and become universal redeemer
beca.llse he is th brightness of the Fatller and mediator of creation. Christ
fulfilled his mission as redeemer through kCllosis. He became lower than
the angels and tasted of death, and has therefore also been crowned with
glory and honour (Heb. I. 9; c Ps. 8). He now sits at the right hand of
God, exalted above the angels. In this way of humiliation and exaltation
he has fulfilled the function of the true high priest who alone could bring
about eternal redemption (2.17,18; 2. 14-5. 10; 9. I-la, 18).

(e) The' Word made flesh'

The climax in the New Testament development of christological
thought is reached in John. His prologue to the Fourth Gospel is the most
penetrating description of the career ofJesus Christ that has been written.
It was not without reason that the christological formula of John I. 14
could increasingly become the most influential New Testament text in
the history of dogma.
The Johannine christology36 has a dynamism all of its own. Christ
appears as the definitive Word of God to man, as the unique and absolute
revealer, transcending all prophets. As cxVTOTT"TllS he and he alone can bring
authentic tidings from the heavenly wodd (John I. 18; 3. II, 32ff.; 7. 16;
8.26,28, etc.). He is not only lawgiver, as Moses, but also giver of grace
and truth. ill him God is present: <He who sees me sees the Father also'
(:r4-9). His revelation therefore has as its theme not only the Father, but
aha the per '011 and mission of Christ. 'He himself' belongs to the content
of his message. This is expressed in the many 'I' sayings, in which he
describes himself in particular as 'Light' and 'The Life of the World'
(8. 12; 9. 5; r. 25; 14. 6; c I. 4), but most strongly in the absolute eyoo

]6 P.-H. Mcnoud, L'Ev(lJ1gil~ de je"" d'aprilt Its recherches req/lIPs, NeuchRtcl-Pnris 19471 ; J. Dehm,
'Dcr gegcnwarrige S=d dcr Erforschung desJ hRlll1CS-Evangcliums', T"LZ 73. I91~8, 2-2.- 30; W. F.
Howard, T he Fo"r!" Go.'pel ill l{rc~i.f Criricism m.d llllupretorio/l, revised by C. K.D:mctt. London
19554 ; F. M Dr:um, 'OU en c:st I'ctude du quatrieme ~van gile', Epl.TlrLov 32, 1956, 535- 46; R.
Schnackenburg, BZ, NF 2, 1958, '44-54 (Eng. lit.); James M. Robinson, 'Recent Research in the
FOllrth GospcJ,}BL 78,1959, 242-SZ.

ellJl (8. 24, 28 58; 13 . 19).3 7 This last is a theophany formula. The WOll-
ders ('siglla') also play their part inJeslls' revelation ofhimself(2. I; II. 4).
Bl1t tills activity of revelation is directed completely towards the sa/vatiotl
of men, for it brings life. Whoever believes on the Son of Man (9. 35) or
the Son (lJovoyevi)s vIas) as the eschatological ambassador of God has
(eternal) life (3. 15, 36 ; 5. 24, etc.). For tlus Son is the true God (oi:iT6s
EOIIV "&A,,elvos eeos. r JO}Ul 5.20).
In John, Christ's activity of revelation and redemption is represented as
a dramatic descent and ascent.3 8 The course traversed by Christ begins in
the heavenly world (1. r1f.)and leads tQ the earthly world (1. II, 14), to
the cross (19. n1f.). The return then follows ill the re-ascellt of the risen
one into his earlier glory (3.13.31; 6. 62; 13. 1; 14.28; 16.28; 17 5).
Thither Christ also leads those who become his own from 'this world' and
who therefore can participate in t11C world of life and light. Par he is to
all 'the Way' (14.6), the soLe access to the life to come ('the door', 10. 7,9).
The way in which John marks the turning points on the course of redemp-
tion, the 'becoming flesh' (r. 14) and the 'being exalted' (= 'being
glorified', c 3. 14; 8.28; 12.23,32; T3. 31; 17 1)39 is of extraordinary
significance for future theology. It is principally the incamatioll of the
Logos wlllch occupies the centre of theological reflection. What is the
reason for th is? It is surely the tension wlllch is present in the Johannine
formula 'Logos-sarx'. Let us attempt to measure its force.
r. Logos: Christjs here for the fust time in Christian literature described
by a name which is to be repeated countless times. First of all, let us try
to paraphrase its content from John himself The first element which
underlies the Johaulline Logos concept is the jdea of 'revelation' and the
'revealer'. Christ is the Word of God, already existing before the world,
and spoken into the world. The office of'revealer' is so closely bound up
with the person ofJesus that Christ himself becomes the embodiment of
revelation. Not only his words, but the very fact of his coming and of his
being are in themselves a divine self-revelation. In Rev. 19. II-16, the
office of the divine ambassador is described in the imagery of tlle dder on
a white horse. His name, 6 A6yos TOO 8eoO, is quite explicit. It is his task
to bring to man the 'Word' of God. This he can do because he is this
Word. In John, 'Logos' is primarily the spoken word in contrast to the
37 E. Schweizer, ~~o Eilll l, GOttillgCl11939; H. Zimmermann, 'Das absolute 'Eye!> 01111 als die ntl.
Offenbarungsformd, 8Z 4,1960,54-09,266-76; id., 'Das absolute "Ich bin" in der RedeweiseJesu',
TThZ 69, 1960, I - Wi A. Peuillet, 'Les ego eimi christologiques du quatrieme evangile', RSR 54,
1966, 5-22, 213-40.
lS Cf. M.-E. Doismard, Le Prologlle de s. j eafl, Paris 1953; this dynamic consideration of the Logos
in the prologue is nClt confused by Doismard with a mere 'fullction~l' christology, i.e. the Logos being
a mere 'function' of tlte Godhead. See L. Malevcz, 'Nouveau Testament et Thcologie fOllctionellc',
RSR 4-8,1960,25&-90 (0\1 Cullman,ll , CllriSl% gy of IIIe New TcstalllCIII. who takes Dupont and Dois-
mard as reprcsentatives of such a fnnctional theolog y).
3p cr. W. ThO~ing, Die F.rhiilllwg I/ilil Vcrlltrrlic/llwg jcm illl jO/illllllt!Sallllllgofliml, second edition-
enlarged by Part V, NTAbil XXI, 1- 2, MUnster r970'

Logos as rca.son (ratio). This also forms the basis for the close relationship
between Logos and revelation. A further description of the intrinsic and
essential relationship between the person of Christ and his office occurs in.
I John 1. 1-3, though it is a disputed point whether 'Logos' here is to be
understood of the person ofJesus Christ or oEhis teaching. Both are certainly
included. Christ is the personal 'Word of Life' which comes from eternity
and is sellt to men. These are themes from the prologue.
Essential as the idea of the revealer is for the Logos concept, it does not
exhaust ie. The associated expressions aeos and l-\ovoyevTjs serve to deepen
and clarify the concept decisively. The content of the teaching and the
authority have their particular source in the conjunction of the activity of
the revealer and the status of the Son of God (1. 18; P 66 and P 75 now
show that I-\OVOYEVT)S 6eos in this verse is almost certain, so at the
beginning and at the end of John (c 20. 29) we have a declaration of
Christ's divinity). True, the two concepts Logos and Son are not to be
equated formally. Dut ill fact MyoS, acos, I-\ovoyevns at the least imply
one and the same subject who is to be understood as pre-existent, beyol1d
time and beyond the world. The Logos is God in God, mediator of
creatioll and bringer of revelation-and this in the fu11 sense by virtue of
his appearance ill the fiesh. He 'is' the Word of God in the llesh.
The sources of a theology of this kind have often been sought all too far
from the material revealed in the Old and New Testaments-scholars
have been misled in particular by the Logos cOllcept. 40 Yet the obvious
course would seem to be to begin from the spiritual home of a disciple of
Jolm the Baptist and Christ, such as John is, i.e. from the Old Testament.
The Old Test.ament 'Theology of the Word' gives us a first point of
contact. This theme of the Word of God recurs constantly. It contains
not only the idea of the revelation of God but also the conception of the
Word as power and wisdom, which are made manifest in the cosmic
workings of God. 41 But it is impossible to derive the Joh,mnine Logos
concept from the Old Testament 'Theology of the Word' alone. The idea
of cosmic power and revelation is still insufficiently developed, and, above
all, the notion of the 'Word' as personal is missing. 42
The Old Testament Wisdom tcaching4J takes us considerably further.

~o Sec R. Schnackcnburg, art. 'johannescvangcliuDl', LTItK v, :1960',1101-5, especially IT (intel-

lectual milieu; special tendencies): rclationB to the Qumran texts :tre mentioned [here. for John and
Qltmr:in sec F. M. Braun, EyllTIrLov 32, 1956, 540f.: id., &11 J"IIOIII 54, t954, 22-42, 259-99, S23~S8;
id., Ril62, 1955.5-44; id., Red/erellts llibl. 3, Louv:lln 1958, 179-96; O. Cu\JmalUl. NTS S. 1958-59,
41 C Gen. I. I; Ps. 107. lO; Wisd. tS. 14-16: these pam.gc~de$cribe the sending OLit or the Word
and its work in the world. Ps. 33.9 (32.9), 'Be spoke, nnd..chey were Illude', shows the connection
between Word and cvem. See L. DUtr, Din Wer/llllg des gilt/lidlen Worlcs Im)1 T IIlId 1m IIlIt/kelJ Or/clIl.
ZlIglc/cll ein Bairrng %lIr Vorgesdli,hte des 1111. Logos-B~griJjcs. Leipzig 1938.
42 M. J. Lagrange, ElIlIlIgile .Irloll Sainl-ieml, Paris 1936s, 29.
43 Cf. C. Spicq, 'Le Siracidc ct in structure litter.ure du prologue de S.jenn', in Mcmorial Lagrallge,
P:u:i.s 1940, 183-95.
The Wisdom of the Old Testament and the Logos of John have many
features in common. Both exist from the beginning (Prov. 8. 22; Ecclus.
24; John I. I; c Gen. I. I) and dwell with God (Ecclus. 24. 4 LXX;
Provo 8.23-25,30). Common to both is their work in the world, though
this is emphasized more strongly in Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus than, for
example, in John I. 3, 10. Wisdom and Logos come to men (Bcclus. 24.
7-22 LXX; Provo 8. 31) and 'tabernacle' with them (Ecelus. 24. 8 LXX-
John I. 14). So strong is the simila~ity between the Johannine prologue
and Provo 8 and Ecclus. 24 that one can speak of a literary dependence.
But in that case, why did John not retain the name 'Wisdom '? His choice
of the name Logos may have been influenced by the rabbinic identification
of Wisdom and Torah.44 Moreover, the feminine form 'Sophia', and
her place in Gnostic speculations, would be no recommendation in the
Greek cultural sphere.4s
A further influence on the evangelist John will have been the New
Testament formulas and ideas which had already taken shape before him.
In Paul, moreover, the Old Testament confronts him once again. Tme,
I Cor. I. 24 (Christ as the 'Power of God' and the 'Wisdom of God') may
be not so much a christological expression as a defmition of Christ's part
in the economy of salvation, and in this way Dlay refer more to the work
than to the person of Christ. But CoL I. IS; 2 Cor. 4 4 and Heb. I. 3,
which speak of 'effulgence' and 'image', certainly refer to Wisd. 7. 26
and contain ao expression of Christ's essential being. The cosmological
statllS of Wisdom in Prav. 8.22-31 and wisd. 7.22-28 may have had an
influence on Col. I. IS[ But the Pauline expressions themselves, such as
the formula of 'equality with God' (10'0 elvol eeC; and 'form of God'
(lloPq>,; eeoo) or even Heb. I. 3 (&-rrcxVyOO'llo "fils 86~'Tls Koi XOpaKT';p "fils
VrroO'TCxO'eoos aUTOO) already point in the direction of the Johannine concepts
and terminology and stand on the same theological plane as John does.
Finally, however, if the apostle chooses a particular word and a parti-

44 G. Kittel, TDNT 4, 138/f., and H. Strack-Po Billerbeck, Kommentar zum NT aus Talmud IIIld
Midrasch, Mtinchen 1922-28, III, 126-33, 353, ar,e perhaps to some extent right in attempting to
understand the Logos concept in the Johannine prologue as an antithesis to the rabbinic Torah-
speculation. But the attempt as such must be rejected. The Torah-speculation extracted only sub-
sidiary features from the Old Testament Wisdom teaching, and these were certainly the less significant
ideas. The same is true of the comparison of the rabbinic Memra teaching with the Johannine Logos.
Cf. P. Borgen, 'Observations on the Targumic Character of the Prologue of John', NTS 16,1970,
288-95; id., 'Logos was the True Light. Contributions to the Interpretation .of the Prologue ofJohn' ,
Nov Test 14, 1972, 115-30.
45 F. M. Braun, EphThLov 32, 1956, 540f., stresses the relations to Qumran: 'Entre I'Evangile de
Jean et les documents de I'Alliance, les affinites litteraires et spirituelles sont aujourd'hui trop connues
P.our qu'il Gill e les demOl1trer 10I1g uc.mellt. On en pen c.ondure que ]'cvnngcliste avnit non seulement
l:esprit ~a ture desE~itures proto- et (~cut"rocanoniq ues. mnis 'Iu'il.'!tait'cgal~mcnt futniliru:ise avec 1m
htterature apoc:alyptlque et pseudo~plgmphjqLlc, en hOnL1Clir pamuJcs 1cctau'cs,de 13 mer M.orte. II
n'cSt p:1S certllin que l'autcur du quatricllleEvangile nit ete en rclAti.on directenvec b C.omm Ull3ute de
l'Alli:lllce ni qu'i] ait ell Commlss3ncc du MalUlel de discipline, du Document de Damas, ou du recueil
des HYllllles. Mrus ce que l'on pout ~ffiDllcr $:lIB exageration, c'est que l'arriere-f.ond de ces ecrits
ct celui du Quatrieme EVnl lg /le cst scnsiblc:mellt Ie meme.'

cular concept which is borrowed from Greek philos p]lY, th re must be

some connection between the two. Do John and his Logos concept, then,
already point in a direction in whidl the history of the dogma of the
incarnation is to lead us agaiu and again-to Alexandria? The Epistle to
the Hebrews indicates that there is already some connection between the
New Testament and Alexandrian theology and cxcgc.~is. Alexandrian
influence on J h11 goes hand in hand with the place given to Old Testa-
ment Wisdom teaching in his theology. According to lrenaeus, the
FOL1rth Gospel is directly opposed to Cerillthns, a Jew 6:om Alex.,mdria,
who comes to Ephesus to preach his gnosis there, a gnosis in which
Hellenistic theosophy plays a predominant role. There can be no doubt
that we have in John a witness of the encounter between Christianity and
thc spirit of Hellenism at this early date, and it would be most remarkable
if no trace of this manifested itself ill his gospel, not only in a positive way
by ~he 'ecognition that Christianity and Hellenism were colUlected, but
also in a negative way by repudiating the baleful jnflucnces of the latter. 46
It can certainly be asswned that the pcologne to the gospel is directed
primarily, if not exclusively, towards the Greeks. It stallds apart, lik~ a
Greek fatyade to the Jewish-Christian building that is behind-the gospel.
It was the Logos concept that moulded this fal?de. The analogy should
not be pressed, for the fatyade too is essentially of the Old Testament, and
Christian, even though Hellenistic influence is nnmistakable. This Logos
concept is certainly more than a mere frontage, put lll) Oil tlle outside; it
is intrinsically bound up with the gospel. But at the same time it represents
a rcal acceptal1ce of ideas 'f rom the Greeks, even tllOugh the content
assigned to them by John gives back to the Greeks infmitely more than
they were able to bring to him. The G.reek view of the Logos is in itself
by no means sufficient explanation of the Johannine concept. 47 While
Heraclitus and the Stoics make the Logos the principle goveming the
cosmos, they allow that it is immanent. The Logos othe prologue, on the
other hand, is at the same time both personal and transcendent. Nor,
despite the great similarity of many of his formulas, is Philo sufficient to
explain the heights reached by John. 48 Granted the Philonic Logos is
already a being distinct :from God, with divine properties and a function
embracing the creation of the world and God's relationship with men; in
the two writers the relationshjp betweeu God and the Logos is completely
dilferent,<19 and, most of all, in Philo the idea of incarnation is missing.
~5 See F. X. Monsc.. jOitQllIlCS IIlId PatIIIlS,NTAbh 5,7<. 3. MUnster 1915. 85-96'; 176-200.
47 From the Catholic side. the rehnomhip or the Johanninc Logos concept co Hellenism, and in
particular to the philosophy of Heraclitus. has been ell1phasized by A. Dyroff. 'Zum Prolog des
)ohaJ111CSeV:1ngeIiums. Pisciwli. Feslu/'rlji jiir F. J. DIJ/g,r. MUnster I939. 86-93. TIle cs~cnrials arc in
H. Kleinknecht. l'DNT 4. 76-89. Similarly M. Pohlenz, Sloo I. Gtirtingell 19411. 40Sf.; see C. H.
Dodd. TI,e interpretntioll ~r lite FOl/rth Gospd. Cambridge 1954. 263-85.
~a Thi~ despite the 'kaleidoscopic vnriety 0 meanings' (H. Klcinkncdlt, in TDNT 4. 87).
49 John Christ:1S Logos clearly on cltc side of God. and as 1ll:l11 cq\rally dearly on the side of
IDCJl. Philo. on the ot4cr hand. says of the Logos ovn aytVT]TQ5 ellS 0 0005 (;)v o0e YEV11WS WS v~EiS.

2. The Logos in the flesh. John now says of the divine Logos that 'He
was made flesh and dwelt among men. The personal presence of the
revealer is a presence in the flesh. The Word of God has appeared visibly
(I John I. Iff.). The Logos of God ;s man. The peculiarly Johannine
contribution lies in the sharpness of the antithesis and the depth of the
.~yrlthesis of Logos and sarx.
In no book of the New Testament is the christological opposition of
pre-existent being and fleshly nature so sharply drawn out as in John.
Divine though the Logos may be in his abode with God, beyond the
senses, beyond time and beyond the world, his presence in true fleshly
nature is none the less absolutely real. The apostle 'in his tripartite intro-
duction in I John I. I, 2, 3 caul1ever be satisfied in stressing over and over
again that he who has appvared (e<pavEpc::,e,,) has done so in the concrete-
ness of time and space' .50 A statemeht on the incarnation in these terms
must have made an unimaginable contrast to the background of the
Hellenistic Logos concept in its different forms. The expression 'sarx',
'flesh', would, it is true, emphasize the visibility and genuineness of d1e
divine and immortal Logos, but in so doing would point to the mortality
of his human nature. A Greek could certainly think of no greater opposi-
tion than that of 'Logos' to 'sarx', especially if the idea of suffering and
death WaS associated with it. For this reason, the Christian proclamation
saw ever-repeated attempts of a docetic kind to deny the reality of Christ's
flesh or to loosen the unity of Logos and sarx. These two factors were
those which Irenaeus stressed against Ccrinthus. It is precisely to meet
such attacks that the apostle chooses the strong expression the 'flesh' of
the Logos, by which he surely understands a complete human nature. He
deliberately mentions what is most visible in man to demonstrate that the
coming of Christ, the God-Logos, was visible. s l
It is hardly a fault ofJohn's that such an emphasis could turn into heresy
again and again. We will, however, see how it was that this pointed
antithesis gave occasions for far-reaching misrepresentations of the nature
of Christ, just as it inspired the theology of the church to its deepest
expressions. In view of the later misrepresentations it js important to point
out how John represents his Christ as a real man, with body and soul, and
therefore capable of spiritual feeling and inner emotion. The apostle who
has an unparalleled vision of the Logos in Jesus always sees him as having
a human psychology (.II. 33; 12. 27 ; 13. 27). The Logos concept has not
been able to obliterate the true picture of Christ's humanity. Tile reality
&~M ~t<70S TWV OKPc.oy (Qrjis rer. div. her. 42, ed. Cohn-Wendland III, 206: on Deut. S. S: Ego . medius
firi IIIfer nomim",1 f l vos).
'0 TDNT' 4, 130.
" 1 John 4. 2: '\n<70VV Iv aapKI t~TJ~V06Ta. On the questjon of docetisrn cr. A. Grillmeicr, art.
'Doketillllls', L TbK rn. 1959. 470f.-11.. Schnncketiburg, L TlrK V, 1960, 939. says of thi$Johannine
chriswlogy: 'This opened th e door to the Inter two-natures doctrine; this christo logy is no longer
purdy "functional", even if it does !lot separate the person of Christ from his work.'

of his life stands too dearly in view. The Greek tl ought-world will
experience the same idea as a temptation and will largely succumb to it.
This attempt to obtain a general view of New Testament christology
has-as far as possible-taken the present state of exegesis as its starting
point. The transition from the apostolic age to the post-apostolic and
patristic period confrm"lts us with other conditions. The study of the usc
and understanding of scripture would be of the greatest significance for
the whole ofpatristic christology. Up to now, however, there have been
very few studies of the sllbject,S2 and these differ both in method and in
results. The mere position of the gospel of] hl1 in the church and among
the Gnostics during the second century throws particular light on the
spiritual state of the eady church.

52 Cf. E. Massaux, L'i,if/uel1ce de I'Evallgi/e de saillt Matthieu sur la litterature chn!tiellnc avallt saillt
lrellee, Louvain-Gembloux 1950; H. Koster, SYlloptisc/,e Oberliejerung bei dm Apostolisclleu Viitem.
TV, Berlin 1957, arrives at somewhat different results; he does not appear to know Massaux's work.
On John, see: W. v. Loewenich, Dasjohallllesverstiilldllis illl zweitenjahrhulldert, GiellSen 1932;J. N.
Sanders, The Fourth Gospel iu ',,~ Early Church. Its origill alld i,if/uC/lce Oil Christiall Theology up to
Irellaeus, Cambridge 1943 ; F.-M. Bmun,jeall Ie the%gien et son evangile dalls I'Eg/ise allcie,me (EtBibl),
Paris 1959 ; id . 'Lc quntticmc Evallgrle dans I'Eglise du second sii:c1e', Sacra Pagilla II, Paris-Gem-
bloux 1959, 269-79; J. S. Romanides, 'Justin Martyr and the Fourth Gospel', COTR 4, 1958-59,
II5-34; T. E. Pollard, joha/mine Christ%gy and the Early Church, Cambridge 1970; A. Laurentin,
Doxa. Etudes des Commelltaires deJeall 17. 5 depuis les origillesjusqu'a S. Thomas d'Aquin I-II, Paris 1972.
On Paul: E. Aleith, Paulusverstiindllis in der altell Kirche, Berlin 1937; M. F. Wiles, The Diviue Apostle.
The Interpretatioll of St Paul's Epistles in the Early 9hurch, Cambridge 1967. The title of a collective
work like La Bible et les Peres (Trallaux du Centre d'Etudes Superieures specialise d'Ristoire des Religions de
Strasbourg. Colloque de Strasbourg 1 er-3 octobre 1969), Paris 1971, is significant. For individual studies see



WITHIN dle limits marked out on the one hand by the synoptists and on
the other by John and Paul, the christology of the N ew Testament itself
already displays considerable diversity. We have, for example, dle con-
trast between a messianic christology (the Acts speeches, the synoptic
gospels) and the Johannine idea of the Logos; the factors which determine
a portrayal of Christ may be sal"V'ation history (synoptics; Rom.; Gal.),
cosmology (Eph.; Col. 1. lSff.). liturgy (Heb.) or apocalyptic (Rev.).
The picture of Christ given by the New Testament already shows some-
times predominantly Judaistic, elsewhere predominantly Hellenistic
features. It would, however, be a mistake to remain completely sceptical
about the essential unity of the christological tradition because of such
differences. Common to all sources is a firm recognition ofJesus' trans-
cendence and his central position in the salvation history. This dearly rests
on living experience (primarily of the resurrection, but also quite simply
of the words and actions of the Lord) and fmds its climax in belief in the
lordship of God and the divinity of Christ. This single recognition, or this
single experience, is also the bond which links the post-apostolic and the
apostolic age. The general tendency of contemporary scholarship is to
regard the possession of Holy Scripture as the only psychological bridge
between the two epochs. With regard to the Old Testament and the way
in which it is ased, this is to some extent correct. The role of the canonical
books of the New Testament, and particularly the position of the synoptic
tradition, which may lay prime cl:Um to transmitting the words and deeds
of the Lord, is a question all on its owu.
At the time of the Apostolic Fathers, the New Testament writings, evell
the synoptic gospels, did not yet have the normative character which they
were to acquire in the course of the second centnry, when the callon was
being formed. A detailed exan'linatiou of the use of the synoptic gospels by
the Apostolic Fathers has produced the following conclusion: 'In t11is
period. even our three synoptic gospels play a completely subordinate
I On the whole of this and the following parts see J. A. Dorner, ElIllVlrklllllg.'..~f'IGliichto der Lel"e
1'011 i1~r
Persoll C/,risti t, Sntttgart r84-5; Berlin 18512; 2 , Berlin IS S3;"It V. Sellers, Two Ancient
Chris/%gies, London 1940; A. Michel, 'Jcsus-Christ', 'incarnation', '!-IypoSt3SC', DTC 8. IIOS-T4Il;
7, 369-568, l44S- 1539;]. Lebreton. His/oire dll dog/lle de /0 Trill//.! T, Paris 1927 9 ; 2, 1928'; G. L.
Prestige, Cod I" Pa/ril li, Tt.UHg/rl, London- Totonto J956'; J. N. D. Kelly, &lrfy CI,risliml Doc/rillci,
london 19602 ; A. Vogtle, R. Sclm~ck.cnburg, A. Grilinlcicr, K. Rahner. W. Pal1l1cllbcrg, 'Jesus
Christus', LT/iK V, 1960.922-64; 'Per Bcskow, R(x CloridC. Tfl( Klllgs/Ilp ~rC/"is/I" I/'C Ellrly C/,;I''''.
Vppsa la 196~ ; K. BaliS, VOII dcr U~~emeillde zlIr jrii/'c/"/SI/{c/'fll Crosskirclle. H:mdbullh dc~ Kirchen-
gcschichtc. cd. H.Jedin. VoL I. Frc.iburg-Dascl-Wicn 1962-, with a. good bibliography.


role as a source for the citing of synoptic sentences.'2 We are still in a

period when the real motive force behind the tradition was the a11-
pervading influence of a great reality of experience,l the Christ e.vent,
that is, the life and teaching ofJesus Christ. The written synoptic gospels
were not the only expression of this event nor were they the only way in
which the reality might be possessed. The church knew that she was in full
possession of the words and deeds of the Lord and ofhis whole his cory, even
independently of the written gospels. In the apostolic age, this filII
possession formed the basis of teaching and preaching, the basis of the
church's fOr1:nttlation of her p.(odamatioll of Chdst, even the basis of the
written gospels, themselves meant as an expression of the 'one gospel'.
This phase of the Christian tradition was therefore dominated by the living,
oral proclamation. If this was accompanied by a consciousness of the
scriptures-as was, in fact, the case from the very beginning-prime
concern was with the Old Testament. Thus in the immediate post-
apostolic age there was a Christ-tradition, but this was as direct a source
for the Apostolic Fathers as it had been for the written gospels.
If this oral tradition is also an integral part of the nature of the church,
the consciousness of the position of scripture in it can develop further. This
was the case from Justin onwards. 'He already "uses" the gospels to a
great extent. In Jllsrin 's writings, the sources of the synoptic tradition are
almost exclusively our gospels, and therefore the history of the tradition
is in Justin for the first time a history of the expositioIl of our gospelS.'4 A
multilinear development now begins. In combating Gnosticism and jt~
'traditions' the church increasingly reflected upon its 'one' tradition. This
meant being committed to the canon of New Testament writings, though
not of course simply to the written word, and ill addition the formation
of the creed and the stress on the regula fidei in teaching and in preaching.
Thus even the didactic formulas acquired a special significance, although
it was precisely this age which still permitted a considerable variation in
them. The special position of the formula, which is already evident in the
New Testament (r Cor. IS), meant that the auditus fidei play.ed a great
part. 'Faith from hearing' (c Rom. 10. 9-15) cOL"respouds to the clearly
defined word, the formula, the formulated tradition, al)d makes a link
reaching back to the revelation which was completed in Christ. The place
2 H. KOster. S)I//optiscl/c OberliifcrlllIg bei den Apos/olisehen Viitcm, TU, Berlin 1957.257. E. Massaux
(p. ]2, n. 5Z aboy,,), however. asserts tbat the Fathers of the second centmy used a distorted text of the
New Testament aud thus l'cs rdcts the part of oral tradition. Investigating the Did che, J.-P. Audet
achieves a similar r~sult to Kostel': Ln Didaehe, llls/rue/;olls d('s Apetres, Paris 1958, 166-86; F.-M.
Braun, j u,lII Ie IMlilogI~II, Paris 1959.
) D. Gcrhardsson, Memory ,/lid Malll/script, 325 (see the quotation on pp. 4f., n. 4); c J. Danie)ou,
RSR 47. !9S9, 6s
4 H. KlisrC!, SYlloptIseJIe Vbe,nljenmg. 267; 1'. E. Vokes, The New Testament Today, Oxford
Conference U-15 September .961, sees the S:lme situation reflected in the Didache and therefore dates
it after ISO. See now B. Gerhardsson, op. cit., 194-207, 324-3S;J. Beumer, Die miilldliehe OberliiferulIg
als Glaubensquel/e (HDG I, 4), Freiburg-Basel-Wien 1962, 15-22.
of the auditus fidei is catechesis, the sermon coming within the framework
of the litur:gy which, through its holy signs, actions and rites, is itself a
powerful support to tradition and the source of a particular tendency.
towards conservatism. s Here it fulfils another special flUlctioll which
cannot be valued highly enough for the life of the church: if the formu-
lated tradition nulS the risk of historicizing the picture of Christ and the
whole reality offaith and objectifying itso that it becomes too impersonal,
the living liturgy has the taSk of providing and bringing alive a direct link
with the Lord of glory, the Christus praesens, which transcends all history.
It is peculady well suited for achieving the transition from the formula to
the inner, spirit-governed faith wllich must support everything.
Throughout the early Christian period we notice a great simplicity in
formulas. It waS this simplicity alone which could secure uniformity of
preaching amidst the deficient theological education of most of the
church's spokesmen and, above all, G(mld keep heresy away from the
church. It is astonishing how the church of the 'illiterates' was able to
cope with the powerful onslaught of Gnosticism in the second century.
Hippolytus giv~ us an example of an encounter between faithfulness to
the formula of the church and newly emerging heresy which would
certainly apply to Christian preaching in preceding years as well. Noetlls
of Smyrna cam,e forward and declared that the words of scripture con-
cerning Father, Son and Spirit are really said only of One, of one person.
Therefore in Christ the Son of the Father did not take the form of a
servant. This constituted an attack on the fundamentals of the Christian
proclamation. The matter was brought before the presbyters of the
church of Smyrna. They were confronted for the first time with a diffi-
culty towards the solution of which_centuries were to labour. But the
pres byters did not resort to high theology; they contented themselves with
the simple formula which they had heard:
We to.D wDrship Dnly Dne GDd, but as we understand it. We tDo. hDld Christ to. be the
So.n of GDd, but as we understand it-who suffered as he suffered, died as he died, and
rDse again the third day and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand o.f the Father,
and will come to judge the living and the dead. This we say as we have learned (t~~eO~EV).
Thereupon they cDnvicted him (Noctus) and expelled him from the church, because he
was carried to such a pitch of pride that he fDunded a sect.6
From this we see that already at tllis time the simple framework of a
christological confession forms, so to speak, the backbone of the church's
traditiou about Christ, something in which she can find support. We
mllst always take into consideration the presence of such a christological
confession with belief in the Godhead and manhood of the one Lord, if

s Cf. H. E. W . Tumer. Ti,e Pall~'" ~rClm'stiall I'mt", Lolldou 1954.361.

6 Hippolyrus, Alllilioetlls I; cd. P. N:lUtin, Hippolyte. COli Ire les IJI!rfsies, Paris 1949,23518-2373; C. H.
Turner, 'Tlle blessed presbyters who. condemned Noctus',JTS 23, 1922,28-35.

we are to understand the development of the church's tcaching about

Christ.' The author of the 'Little Labyrinth', transmitted to us in extracts
by Eusehius, includes even the Apologists, who certainly signify a new
departure in theology, the emergence of a tlu!olog;c SQVa"tc, without
further ado among the first simple witncsses of the church's belief. They
too describe Christ as God (eEoAoydv) and acknowledge him as God and
man.' We should also notice the Ilymns of the carly Christian period, the
carmell Christo q"asi Deo dicere seeum jl/vieem. which is referred to by
Plilly~ as a mark of ule primitive church.
Certainly the massiveness of the mystcrilllll Christi continued to remain
the sou rce of impulses leading to new formulas and efforts to give new
expression to the inexpressible. Men were conscious that the lIIysterium
was something beyond words. We will further find that ute church
grasped the totality of the picture of Christ more in a kind of spiritual
intuition than in words and form ulas. For this reason expressions could
vary even to the point of formulas which apparently contradicted each
other. The church llleasllred newly emerging doctrines as much by her
intuition as by her formula and made from them new fixed forms for her
The incentive for this came less from within than from without, not
least from the church's encounter with the pagan world and its philosophy,
The need to construct a ,f,cologie sa val/Ie emerged from this encountet
with pagan philosophy,lo Both the concepts and the language with which
Christian doctrine was presented had to be developed furthet. The first
aim was a clarification of the rdation of Father and SOil in ute mysicrirllll
e fl risti. Thus the second century introduced the great task of the patristic
period. that of achieving a better grasp of the data of revelation with the
help of pagan philosophy. This proved to be both a powerful driving force
to theological progress and a favourite starting point for heresies. It had
important consequences for christo logy ; the dynamic presentation of the
mission of Christ ill the economy of salvation was impregnated more and
more with a static-oncological awareness of the reality of Christ as God
and mall. This is shown by the later creeds. as for example iu theholllQol4sios
,ttunotour wit here tOJketch thc hinoryortlle creed in itself. Sceille elfcdlrnldupier inH.B. W.
Turner. TIlt Pallrm tif ChriJlillt, Trllll,. London 1\154. 30\1-86; J. N. D. Kelly, &'Iy C/rrlJ/llltl C,uds.
london /9711 . A good Jurvcy of the crcc:d, ;, tvaibble in thc new edition of H. Dcntinger. EII-
e/dr/diM Sy",bolortlm. reyised by A. Schbnmetur, 1963. 1-76. V. 11. Ncufeld, 17,e &liut Chrls/inu
CmifmiollJ (New Te5t:unen t Tooh tml Studiel, V), tcid ell 196], inyel!ig~teJ thc confcsslon~1
rormulas (ilowolcgl~i) or thc New Testamcnt. Cf. mOlt recently the article by P. Smulderl, 'Some
IUddles in the AposdeJ' Creed', Dijdmgtll ]1, 1\170, 1]4-00; J1 , 1\171, HO-; .
E~bjus, HE, V. 18, 4, S. Mentioll iJ made Jwtin, Miltiadcs, Tatian and morc eJpccially of
Melito of SartliJ and trenacu,.

'C. Plinius Sec. Min., Episl. 10,96.7.
Cf. J. tclm:lon. I.e dtucoortl de It rot populaire et dc b Ih&ilOSic unntc', RHE 1\1, 1\11), 481-
$06; 10. 1914, 5- ]7. LebretOn, of COUI'$/:. bY' tOO much sum 011 the Opposilion of the IWO rUlon
mentioned. cr. A. Grilhneicr, 'Vom SymboluUl ur SumnLa', Kircl!t 11/,,1 Owrlirjmmg (ill hOllour of
J. 1l GcisclmaWl), Frciburg 1960, 1l4-4 1.

ofNicaea, but also in formulas as early as Melito of Sardis and Tertullian.

We can see, and it will become still clearer as we proceed, that here there
was a special opportunity for metaphysics and therefore for the Greek
way of thinking.
In this way the first phase of the oldest tradition was developed into
something new, which has two main characteristics: the shaping of
formulas and of a canon, and theological reflection. The pose-biblical era
of Christian theology, viewed as a whole, is a typica l period of transition.
Subsequent ages are inclined to value such periods lightly. The witnesses
of the second century have not indeed yet the brilliance of the great names
of the third, fourth and fifth centuries, the patristic age proper. But their
nearness to life is all the more valuable, as later we have the danger of
abstract teaching.
We shall now attempt to describe the christological characteristics of
the second century. The first feature on which we sh.'1il lay stress will be
the archaic chal,"acter of its christo)ogy, wlljch for the most part is to be
attributed to Jewish-Christian influences. We will then be concerned with
the popular image of Christ ill the second century. Its problems are re-
vealed even in the first christo logical heresies. The christology of the
great church, however, finds its real expression in the defenders of the
divinity and manhood oEJesus against docecisl11. and Gnosticism, Judaism
and pa,ganism. Here we are on the way from econom..ic to ontological
christology, ot the doctrine of two natures, but at the same time we also
find the first influential examples of a cllristocentric salvation history.
Simple christological formulas stand alo:ngside the first contacts of
Cllristian theologians with pagan philosophy. No epoch of christology
displays such numerous and so different Cllrrents of thought as the second


(a) An archaic heritage: Christ and Jewish-Christian theology

A special feature of post-apostolic christology is its archaic character,
and tIus must be defined more closely. It is a result of the influence which
Jewish Christianity had on the early Christian period. Jewish-Cllristiau
theology is part of the pattcm of the second century, btU only within the
last twenty years has the written history of dogma consistently concerned
itself with it,lI
11 Cf. A. GriIlmeier, 'HeJ1enisierung~JudaisierLlng des Christentums als Deuteprinzipien der
Geschichte des kirchlichen Dogmas', Sellol)], I9SB. 3Zl-55, 528-58, with a survey of recent scholar-
ship and a bibliography.}. Danielou, The Tlieology 4Jcwish Christianity, London 1964 (= Danielou
I); id., Gospel Message alld Helle/listie Culture, London 1973 (= Danielou II). esp. 197-300; M.
Simon and A. Benoit, LeJudaisme et Ie Christianisme antique d'Alltioehus Epiphmle ii Constantin, Nouvelle
Clio 10, Paris 1968; S. Lyonnet, 'Ellenesimo giudaismo nel Nuovo Testamento', and R. Cantalamessa,

There is, of course, as yet no complete agreement on what is to be

understood by the term ~Jewish---Chrisrian theology'. J. Daluelou, along
with L. GOppelt,12 means by it neither Ebionite nor yet hetcrodox Jewish-
Christian theology.13 Nor does he mean the closed community of Jerll-
salem, which came to an end in the year 70, though it had played a special
patt in carrying out nllssionary work in Egypt and was still to be en-
countered in Eastern Syria Ouele, E1latlgc1itltlt sec. Hebr.). By Jewish
Christialuty he means rather that spirituality which did not lead to the
formation of special communities and did not call for a connection
with Jewish communities, but still betrayed in its expression Jewish
patterns of life and liturgy. This Jewish Christialuty, taken in the
broader sense, was so to speak omnipresent and quite influential in the
Mediterranean, at least until the middle of the second ceutury. fudced, we
find traces of such influence even in the fourth century, and particularly
in the region of Antioch.l 4 Judaism had two completely conflicting
effects 011 carly Chri tianity. The Gnostic Judaism of Corinth15 markedly
menaced the community of that place with syncretism. On the other
hand, Jewish 110mism was in certain measure assimilated in the early
Christian period precisely so that it would be some protection against the
disintegrating tendencies of Gnosticism. The strongest testimollY of tlus
is the Didache, whose Jewish character is IDallifest above all in the doctrine
of the Two Ways, wluch is also presented by the Manual of Discipline
of Qumrau.l6
What sources allow us to assume a Jewish-Christian cOllcept of
Christ?17 First, the writings of the Jewish Old Testament Apocrypha, in
so far as they are either Jewish-Christian revisions or even actually Chris-

'Cristianesimo primitivo e filosofia greca', both in II cristiallesilllo e Ie filosofie a ClIra tli Ralliero
Call1alamessa (Pubblicazioni della Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, ScReI I), Milano 1971, 8-25,
U L. Goppclt, Apostolic a/ld Post-Allos/olie Times, Loudon 1970.
u cr. H. J. Sdlocps. Tlle%gle IlIIII Cm/lidlt~ rles jJlrlcTlclirisleflrtrlll', Tilhingcn 1949, 7t-1'I6; id.,
AllsJriihcllris/lic/ler ZeiT, TUbingen 1950; id., Urgtlllrill(ie,jllrlcllcI'rislrullllll, Gliosis, TUbingcn 1956; id.
'Die ebionitischc Wahrhoit des Christelltums', in W. D. Davie~-D. aube, Tire Dar/.:gTollllrl of/Ire New
TC.tTtIl/IWI allrl irs Esclrat%gy, Cambridge X9S6. 11 5-23. Against these, Danielou r, 55-64; G. Strecker,
Dlls jlldcllcllTis/L'II/1I1IJ in llrll PscllIlokle,lrmli,wlI, Dedin 1958, 23-6.
. 14 In this COLUlcction, .COlltinuaUy developing cOntnet with]udaisl!I proper should be noted. cr. M.
SI1I10n, Verus Tsrlld. P,ms 1948, 356-93; n. V. Sellers, The COII/'cii oj CltalcedQlI, London )'953, ISS-aX;
G. Downey. A His/Dry of Llmioell ill Syriafrolll SeI~Il"/s to tile Arab COII/jlles/. Princeton J961. See hi.s
index s. v. Jews.
u W. Schmithnls. Die Cllosls ill Korillrlt, B/ue Vlltersr.rc/l/lIIg 2'11 rlclI KodllllrerbrlcJell, Gottiogen 1956;
(or criticism, sec H.-M. Schenke, Dcr COl! 'Mel/sell' ill rlor lIosis, Gottillgen 1962.
16 cr. A. Seebcrg,Dit Didaclte dcsjllrlelllllllls IInrl lIer Urc/rrislfllireil, Leipzig 1908, 5- 4I;J.-P. Audet,
La Dirlaclle, hls/meriolls rles ApR/res, Paris 1958 ; he would see ip Didnche r-6 n purely Jewish tracr:ltc,
but this is to minimize the Christian clements; id., littcraires ct doctrinalcs du "Manuel do
Disdpline" ',RB 59, 19.52,217- 38 (part 1). It should, however. bcnored that aHcllcnirticnomism also
developed, pmbnb1y under tho particular innucIlcc of the ton.
17 TIle following is based on Dallicloul, 7-85. ft is remarkable chat Philo has found no place in this
sketch. Daniclou excludes him because ofills Hclle.nistic exegesis. We will indirotc Ph.ilonic influence
at thc most important points.

cian works ucilizingJewish materials (Ascension ofIsaiah, IT Enoch, Testa-

ments of the Twelve Patria.chs). To these must be added some of the
Sibylline books (Books 3 and 4 are Jewish; Book 5 is Jewisb but revised
by Christians; Books 6 and 7 are Jewish-Christian work). With these we
should consider as a second group tbe Apocrypha of the New Testament,
so far as we possess them either whole or in fragments (the gospels of
Peter, ofJames , according to the Hebrews, the Egyptians, etc.; or apoca-
lypses, e.g. that of Peter; and the Epistula ApostolorulIl). In these works
there is already a theological reflection upon the gospel message, the
Jewish-Christian 'Gnosis'. We have already referred to a third group,
concerned with liturgy, morality, asceticism and catcchesis-in chis the
Didache occupies a central place. The Odes of Solomon, 18 the Epistle of
Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas l9 deserve a special mention. It is
especially noteworthy that the epistles of Ignatius of Antioch can also be
mentioned in this connection, although they usc the language of the
Jewish synagogue and the primitive community significantly less than the
Shepherd of Hennas and therefore even at this stage have a noticeably
more Hellenistic tendency.zo They show traces ofSyri3n influence, which
points to a Judaism of Gnostic character, having orthodox and heterodox
forms. The Syriall:-Antiochian character of these epistles lies, according to
J. Danielou, chiefly ill their specia l attitude to the divine mystery, in the
accent which they place 011 transcende11ce. There are signs that I Clement
belongs to the same group as the epistlos ofTgnatius. Though Hellellistic-
Stoic influences cannot be denied, the real theological milieu off Clement
is Jewish-Christian. We do not, of course, find here an Antiochellc
mystical approach, nor do we have any f01:m of esoteric Gnostic Jndaism.
r Clement is rather part of that Jewish didactic literature witb a tendency
to moralize which Was formed in Palestinian Judaism and is evidenced in
the Midrashim.
In addition to these written relics ofJewish-Christian theology we have
the oral traditions (recorded at a later stage) sucb as we fInd in the 'Pres-
byters', cited by Papias,1renaeus and Clement of Alexandria. 2L Whereas
Papias and [renaeus testify to an Asiatic tradition, Clement points to
another source which W. Bousset was anxious to trace back to Pal1taCl1US
18 According to Danielou I, 30-3, this is a Jewish-Christian work intended for the great church
composed in Eastern Syria but having affinities with Bardesanes. Cf. recently Papyrus Bodmer X-XII;
Xl : O"zi~lIIt Odc de SllIUIIlOII, Dlbl. Dodmeciana 1959,49-69.
19 J .-P. Audet more than any other 'scl,alar emJ;lilasiz<:s in the second p,lIt of his ~rdclc mentioned
above, RD Go, 19S3, 41-82, thc Jcwish char:lctcr of dill book, which he hold~ might derive from an
imperfectly converted Essenc who$c parents cou ld have had contnct with the Qumrall comolllliity.
He affirms that no refercnce ofHer.mns to ehe Holy Spide, good and eVIl spidts, the Son of God alld
the church could be adopted by the general tradition witho ut the strictest reservatiOJ1!. His verdict
is perhaps too harsh (see below).
20 H. Schlier, Religionsgeschichtliche UlllersucllUlIgell zu dell Ignatiusbriejell, Giessen 1929; c also
Danielou I, 39-43.
21 Danielou I, 45-54.

and hence to an Alexandrian school tradition. With Casey and Moock,

Danielou, would stress the Judaistic colouring of these traditions, which
indicates a Palestinian Jewish teaching rather than a Hellenizing J udalsm
of the Philonic type. In view of Strom. I, I, II-I2 and Ellsebius, HE
VI, 13, 8-9, we must conclude that Clement knew an oral tradition which
came not in fact from the apostles but from an apostolic milieu, and hence
was typically Jewish-Christian. 22
All important characteristic of Jewish Christianity is its attitude to the
Bible. While during the course of the second century the great church
feU back on a strict canon of scripture, Jewish Christianity based itself all
the sources described above and on Judaistic exegesis, particularly the
exegesis oflater Judaism ill opposition to the He'Uenlstic exegesis of Philo
(though this does not imply that no Philonic in.B.uence is perceptible in
Jewish Christianity). It seems that the Septuagint was the principaJ text.
There was 110 special Jewish-Christian translation of the Old Testament,
but there were perhaps revisions of the Septuagint. 23 This reveals an
exegesis created out of apologetic 01' limrgical interests, which worked by
mean~ of association of texts, changes, additions and omissions. It was of
very archaic character. Besides such TargLUnim, it seems that the existence
of Jewish-Christian Midrashim. paraphrases of the Old Testament, can
also be proven. It is fl1Ither claimed that the early Christian sources,
whether Jewish-Christian or from the great church, demonstrate that a
selection of texts of the O ld Testament existed in the form of TestimOl~ia ,24
and these would be regarded as material for christological proof From
dlem, it is claimed, the Old Testament prophetical proof for the person
of Jesus Christ whether as Messiah or as Son of Mall was to be drawn.
Christ and the church, the Testimonia are meant to show, are in accord-
ance with the eternal plan of God.
One feature of the content of Jewish-Christian exegesis is its interest
in Genesis.2S This is also to be found, however, in philo (who is primarily
a Hellenist), in Late Judaism (Kabbala) and in the Hermetic writings.
Finally the cosmology, the elements of which are 'ls yet perhaps l10t quite
exclusively drawn from Jewish apocalyptic writings, also belongs to the
theological categories ofJewish Christiallity. We find cosmology even in
the New Testament. But there it is n.Ot an end in itself, but is made an
22 Danielou I. SIr.
23 cr. K. Stcndhal. Tilt School of SI MnttllclV, Uppsaln t9St/-, 169-820.
:z.4 Cf. R. Harris, 'T!'Jlil/)ollies I-IT, Clllllbridge 1'916- Jo. Por the whole problem of the Testimonies
see P. Prigcnt, .L~s 'Testilllonia nnllS Ie c/"istinllisIllC llr/lllilif. I.'eptlrc de Bart/aM I- XVl el ses sOl/rees
(EtBibl), Paris 1961, 16-28 (Lcs TC$timonia. Etat de qnestion); G. T. Armstrong, Dlc Ge/lesis I" liar
AlII1lI Klrcile (DGBH ,~), Tiibingc/I 19620, 3~ .
n Cf. G. T. AOI)Strong. op. cit. (onJustin.lrcnaeus, TertullilUl). Thc Psalms in particular underwent
:I christological rcvision and interpretation after the church's rcaction against dtc IUXlltinncc' of the
hymns had been overcome, aDd they becamc to a spccial degree the SOil$S of the church (tlli~, though,
was the cOnccrn of tho gr<:at church). cr. n. Fischer, Dil' Psailll ~l!frii/llllljgk~it tier Mh"rlyrcrklrdit,
Freiburg 1949.

auxiliary to christological or theological statement. 'As the Ascension of

Isaiah demonstrates, the situation is different in post-canonical writings.'26
The cosmology is a part of the Jewish-apocalyptic kerygma, though this
remains orientated upon God. 'The Ascension of Isaiah went on to try to
create a christo centric cosmology.'21 Jewish apocalyptic writings nally
had great influence in offering images which were significant for christo-
logy: the idea of the heavenly book (as a guarantee of God's eternal plan
with Christ), of the unveiling of a sacral cosmos (with good and evil
spirits), of the reve1atioll of a saving history, of the mysterion which was
apJ?coachable through 'Gnosis'. These images could also be of value to the
u11lversal church. But the determinative characteristic ofJewish Christian-
ity which marked it off from the great church was a total attitude Whiell
can be described as prophetic and apocalyptic. This tendency, which can
also be regarded as a basic theological structure, is especially evident in a
preference for the apocryphal and particularly the apocalyptic literature
ra ther than for the canon of the great church. As is well known, Revelation
had particular difficulty in obtaining recognition in the latter. Danielou
speaks of a visionary tendency. In extremes this could easily lead to a
mythologizing of Christianity.
This general description of the sources and contents ofJewish- Christiall
theology is, of course, still rather vague and inadequate. 'The presentation
and realiza cion of Christian! ty in the fotlru of late Judaism' is pecha ps the
most appropriate defillition. 28 But do we not find this aL:eady in the New
Testament, in Paul, in James, in Peter and finally in Jeslls himself? This
need not be denied. But in so far as the great church and Judaism are
defilla,ble entities, it must be possible to establish to some degree what
Jewish elements there are in certain presentations of drristianity. A
specalc analysis wiIJ demonstrate this by indicating the archaic features in
the early Christian picture of Jesus Christ even if their derivation from
Jewish sources cannot always be proved.
The ruse archaic element We encounter i~ a pre-l?auline and pre-
Johannine 'name-chcistology'.29 The old-estahlished Shem-theology of
the later books of the Old Testament appears to have been continued and
applied to Christ. In Ethiopian Enoch 48. 2 we find this name-theology
primarily associated with the concept 'Son of Man'. The Son of Man is
brought before God 'and his name before the Ancient of Days' ; his name
was 'named before the Lord of spirits' before the creation of the stars. 'The
26 H. Bietenhard, Die himmlisehe Welt in U"/rrislenlum und Spiitjudenllllll. Tilbingen 1951, 67, cf.
51,214-21 and passim. See too the index s. v.Jesus; Danic!lou 1,173.
21 H. Bietenhard. ibid., 263.
28 Cf. Dani6lou I, 9. With Goppelt, Danic!lou means in particular the Judaism of the Pharisees, the
Essenes and the Zealots.
29 Cf. Danic!lou I. 147-63. We cannot accept as evidence all the passages which Danielou cites here.
Cf. J. Ponthot, La signifieatioll religieuse du 'NOM' elrez Clement de Rome el dans la Didac/re (AnLov
BiblOr III, 12), Louvain 1959.

pre-existcnce of the name paraphrased in this way probably describes in

this passage the pre-existence of the Son of Man himself, for name and
person arc very closely linked togecher.'30 A further step would have been
taken when the word 'name' became a description of the Godhead of
Christ and thus took the place of 'Logos' or 'pneuma'. CIl ist would thus
be. so to speak, the incarnate 'Name' of God, ill thc sam way as he is the
'incarnate Logos' or the 'divine pneuma (= Godhead) in the flesh'.
There is some support for such an idea. In Philo (Con! Ling. 146) the
Logos is called the 'name of God'. According to the Shepherd of Hennas,
the name of the Son of God has a divin e hOllOUJ: and fWICtiO'l1: 'The name
of the SO'l1 of God is great and incomprehensible (ax,WpTJTOV) and it (the
name) supports the whole cosmoS.'3J The second half of the quotarion
Olay remind us of Heb. 1. 3: 'tlpholding all things by the word of his
power'. The difference is, of cow:se, clear. In Heb. 1. 3. God is the subject
and the word (pfllAcx) is the instrument. In the Shepherd of Hortnas the
'name' is the subject of the world-sustaining activity. the ~cxOT6:3ElV. This
is SUrely the expression of the mediation of the Son of God in creation.
Name is simply identical with 'Son of God', as is clear from the following
If then the whole cl'eation is supported by the Son of God, what do yon dunk of those
who ate called by him. who bear the name of tne Son of God and walk ill his command-
ments? Do you see thon the people whom he supports? Those who bear his n.'Ime witlt
their whole hearts. He himself became their foundation and he supportS them gladly.
because they arc not ashamed to bear his n:unc. 32
The Shepherd of Hennas seems Christian here in so far as it as urnes a
distinction within God and thus -with some degree of clarity aUows the
fowldations of a trinitarian or at least a binitarian (Father-Son) belief to
be established. Its idea of God cannot be derived from a Jewish ~ono
theism,33 T he idea of the 'Son of God' has already progressed too far. The
'name of the SOl1 of God' here implies complete transcendence and pl'e-
existence. This, however. leaves the quesrion of the incarnation completely
untouched . It is not yet possible to establish the view of the Shepherd of
Hermas on the incarnation . The 'name' means merely 'the invisible part
of Jesus, the only- begotten Son', to Llse the language of the Excerpta ex
Theodoto.l4 Nevertheless, different features hi:nt that the Son sent into the
world is the subject of the discussion. This name is indeed already present
in the Christians by virtue of their being sealed in baptism and their
30 H. Bietcnhnrd, Art. 'Ollon11\' in TDNT V, 266l9 ..... ' .
" Past. Heinl . S im. IX, ~4, 6; ed. Whittaker, Gcs 48, 915.
12 Pas.t. Herm., Sim. IX, 14, 5-6; cd. Whittaker 915-~.
)1 As attempted by J.-P. Audet, RB 60, 1953. 68-76.11u[ he has to pOIit a !lumber of textu:u alrcrll-
tioru, which COllllts against his thesis.
l' Clem.. AI., Bxcerplll tx T/.cod. 26, I (GCS 17, 115") Teo 6~ a6pQ1'ov ( T6) 6vollcc limp ht1'IV 6 u 16~
6 \J-OVOyEII~~ See also DllniClou n, 244.

confession35 of Christ. Therefore the mediacy of the Son in creation also

becomes the means of salvation both for Christians and for the angels: the
Shepherd of Hermas expresses this in the rather awkward similitude of the
old rock and the new door (Sim. IX, 2). Hermas sees in a plain a great
shining rock, higher t han the hills, so large that it could hold the whole
The rock was old, and a door was cut in it. It appeared to me that the door had been
cut quite recently. The door shone so much in the sun that I marvelled at the brightness
of it (Sim. IX, 2, 2).
The explanation interprets the picture:
'The rock and the door is the Son of God.' 'But how, sir (Hermas asks the Shepherd),
is it that the rock is old but the door is new?' The Shepherd replies: 'The Son of God is
older than all his creation, so that he was counsellor to the Father about his creation.
Therefore he (the rock) is also old.' 'But why is the door new, sir?' 'Because he (the Son)
was manifested in the last days of the consummation; for this reason the door is new, so
that those who are to be saved may go through it into the kingdom of God' (Sim. IX,
12, 1-3).
Note that the rock and the door together represent the Son of God.
The' old rock' means the pre-existence of the Son before the creation and
his mediacy at the creation as counsellor of the Father. But the 'door'
means the revelation of the Son to the world and his exclusive mediation
of salvation, providing the way to the Father. He is the only door, 'the
only entrance to the Lord')6 The reference to Christ is not to be doubted,
even though there is no mention of the incarnation here either. The
mediation of salvation is clearly distinguished from the mediation at
creation. This too, however, is linked with the 'name' of the Son of God:
'Whoever does not receive his name (be he D').aO or angel) will not enter
into the kingdom of God' (Sim . IX, 12, 8b). Thus the Shepherd of Hermas
associates with the name-theology quite a clear recognition of the pre-
existence and mediatory position of the Son of God. The foundation of
its sotcriology is by 110 means objectionable. Its concrete presentation of
Christ, however, poses us many questions, as we shall see. The names
'Jesus', 'Christ', do not occur in the work. The picture of God (and his
relationship to Christ 3l1d the Christians) seems dominated by Jewish
thought-patterns. God is more frequently represented as the Kyrios of the
Chris.tians than as their Father. The Christians are slaves of God. 111 Sim. V
evel1 the Son of God is described as a slave, whom his master then frees
and adopts. 111 Sim. V, 5, 5 Hennas himself is surprised at this description
al1d attempts to correct it in what follows. The cult of the almighty master
35 The confession of the name of the Son of God 'had particular significance during the time of
persecution'. C Danielou I, 156f. with reference to Acts 5. 41; Past. Herm., Vis. III, 1,9; 2, I; Sim.
IX. 28; Ign. Eph. 1,2; 3, I; 7. I.
36 Past. Herm., Sim. IX, 12. 5 and 6. Christ as the door see John 10. 7ff.; Ign., Ad Phil. 9, I; I Clem.

(SEo-rrOTllS) conceals the picture of the heavenly 'Father' and puts Son and
Spirit in the background. The c.I1l.1Tch is descrjbed in Vis. I, 3, 4 as the
creation of God. with no mention of Christ. The second coming, too, is
described as the coming of God and not of Christ, a real Jewish tradition
( jill. V, 5, 3). ;111. IX, 7, 6 f course differs. Th re it is the SOD of God
who will come again. The way in which the Shepherd of IIennas under-
stands this will be described at the end of this section, where the archaic
Jewish concept of Christ is to be compared with the picture of Christ in
the great church. The work will occupy us quite frequently as we proceed
with the investigation.
A fUTther way of expressing the transcendence of Christ, and most
obvious to Judaism, is the identification of Jesus witb the law (v6IJ,os) or
with the covenant (Blae~K,,). 37 In Judaisl1'l-. the same characteristics were
ascribed to the law as are given by Jow~ to the pre-existent (and incarnate)
Logos. It has therefore gwte properly been asked whether the prologue of
the Gospel ofJolU1 was not composed as an answer to Jewi b speculari n5
on the Torah.3 8 Among the Jews, the Torah is the incamatioll of the
wisdom of God, among the Jewish hristians it is Jesus. Pl1ilonic language
andPauliue ideas (1 Cor.) may lie behind such doctnnes. Jewiili apocalyp-
tic ideas are, however, probably the direct source. Once again we en-
counter the Shepherd of Hermas: 'This great tree, which overshadows
plaius, mountains and the wI ole earth, is the law of God (VO\.loS 6eoO)
which was given to the whole world. And this law is tbe Son of God who
is prea,ched to the ends of the earth' (Sim. vru, 3, 2). Clement ofAI exan d ria
refers to the Keryg111ata Petri, which call cheLord law and Logos (VO\.lov Ked
A6yov) (Strom. 1,29, 182,2). As Clement expressly states (Eclog. Proph. 58),
the saying in Isa. 2. 3, 'Out ofZioll shall go forth the law, and the word
of the Lord from Jerusalem: LmderJjcs this. Part of the guotation recurs
in Mc1ito'sEaster Hom;ly39 and here the theme leads to lengthy discussions
abollt Logos and Nomos, though in a way diflerent from our Jewish-
Christian sources:' the Logos which has appeared in Christ annuls the
Nomos. These terms acquire special significance in Justin, as will become
evident. He calls Christ at the same time law and covenant: 'It was
prophesied that Christ, the Son of God, was to be an eternal law and a
new covenant for the whole world.'40 This descriptjon of Christ as law
and covenant refers primarily to his significance ill salvation history. The
New Testament already depicts Christ as the bringer of the finallaw. 41 But
out texts mean more. They identify the Son of God with the law and the
J1 Danielou I, 163-6; J. Lebreton, Origilles du Dogme de la Trillile II, Paris 1928, 648-50. For the
Nomos in Ph ilo see H. A. Wolfson, Plli/o, Camb., Mass. 1948, I, 184-94; II, 165-200.
l8 See nbovc, p. 29. 11. 44.
39 Melito, l'ul Pasciln 7.
40 Justin, Dial. 43, I; cf. II, 2; 51, 3.
41 cr. P. Blaser, Das Gesetz bei Paulus, MUnster 1941, 234-43.

covenant. Christ is all this in his existence, as hypostasis, in his all-embrac-

ing divine reality which is present in the man Jesus in the world. Here
Christian theology works with the post-biblical Jewish idea of the
hypostasis, applying it to the Son of God in his pre-existence and his
incarnation: 'He who disposes all things and is true law and ordinance
and external word is in reality the son of God.'42
Just as the Johannine prologue already refers back to Gen. I. I and reads
from the term 6:PXtl the role of the Logos with God and in the creation, so
6:PXtl retains its significance in primitive Cluistian theology. Once again
the term is sharpened in a typical way. The Son is not merely 'in the
beginning', but 'begilllllng' par excellence, as, for example, Clement of
Alexandria says in his Eclogae propheticae.4J Of course, most of the patristic
statements abollt Christ as apxn are connected with the Logos,44 and this
goes beyond the cirde of Jewish-Christian ideas. But in addition to the
reference in Clement ofAlexandria to the Jewish-Christian Kerygmattl Petri,
Tbeoplwus of Antioch ill particular guarantees the archaic Jewish charac-
ter of this c011nection. In referring to Gen. 1. I he hypostasizes the 'bere-
shith' ana understands it of the Logos as mediator at the creation:
Thus God produced with his Wisdom his Word, which he bore within himself, by
letting it come forth from him before all ~hings. This Word he used as the means in all
his creations and he created all through ie. This Word is called 'the beginning', because
it is the principJe and the Lord of aU trungs which have been created through it (Ad A rlto I.
II, 1.0).
The Gnostics too take the arche of Gen. r. r as a personal hypostasis, in
that they regard God, the arche, heaven and earth as a quaternity (Iren.,
Adv. Haef. I, IB, I). A rabbinic tradition, which may be traced through
Irenaeus, Tertulliau, Jerome and Hilary, even translates reshith. (Gen.!. r)
as 'son', which in its turn is synonymow; with 'only-begotten'.'ls
The designation 'Day' for Christ is also to be explained from Gen. I.
Jewish speculations seem to lie behind it. According to Eusebius of
Caesarea, this title for the incarnate Christ still occurs in Marcellus of
Ancyra, though here the whole context is permeated with the Logos idea:
It is therefore clear in every reseect that tllere is no otller !lame suitable for the eternal
Logos than that which the holy disciple of the Lord and aJ;1osrle John has given at the
beginning of the gospel. Otten though he may be oalled after the asslllnption of the flesh
Christ and Jesus, Life and Way and Day and Resurrection and Door and Dread-and
whatever other names there are elsewhere in the divine scripmres-wemay not overlook
the first name, that he was the Logos.46
4Z Clem. Alex., 8lrom. VIr, 3. 1.6: GCS J7, 12 18- 19 : V6~05 WV 6VTW5 1\(11 6a~o5 Ked t.6yos (llwVloS.
OJ Clem. AL,Eclog. propll. 4.1: 6,.1 5t apx1'l a vias. cr. Slrolll. VI, 7, s8 with a reference to the
Kerygl/lnlll Pclrl. 'APX1'i is frequent in Philo. Sec H. Leisegang, ludices, s.v. apxT') I.
~ . Justin, Dial. 6,1. I; Tatim, Or. ad Crarcos s;
Origen. Hom. CCII. I, Ii COllI/II. 10. 1,19.
5 Perhaps the GhriHoJogical expressions of Gal. I. ISIf. (rrpo 1TaVTWV, 1C~q>aA~, 'I1'pc.l,.aTOKOS) are also
nothing morc than dle diJfc"ent interpretations or apxf;; cf. Danic!lou I, HiS.
~6 Marcell. Anc., Erag. 43, in: Eus. Caes., C. Mnr,ell.; GCS r,~, 192. W . Gericke, M,lrccl/ 11011

One of th attempts of the primitive Christian period to express dle

transccndencc of Christ is the so-called 'angel-christology' or: the dcsigna-
tion Christos angelos. It is so significant that attempts have been made to
prove that it was the original ch cisto] ogy, at least in Jewish-Christian
circles. Jesus, it is held, was understo d as an angel in the strict sense, i.c.
as a heavenly creature SCIlt by God int the world. 4 7 With the condclU-
nacio!] of Arianism this legitimate and original conception was stamped as
ber sy. Ie had to give place to the strict doctrine of tw natures. According
to M . Werner, the mes ianie title S n of Man is b st interpreted if we
assume 'that this Messiah belonged to the (highest) celestial realm of the
angels. This view is expressly confirmed by the sources.'4R As eady as the
synoptic gospels, the Son of Man is depicted as all angelic prince. 'He
appears with the host oEhis "holy angels" (Mark 8.38; Matt. 13 . 4I;
Mark 13. 26f[; 1. 13; Luke 22. 43; I Thess. 4. 6). The Messiah- SoIl of
Man is cho en by God to execute a pecial mission and, accordingly, he
wa et over. ul e celestial world of angels. '49 Although Christ may be given
the title KJ'rias by Paul, this is merely a 'particular instancc of the general,
but too-long-neglected fact, that Late Judaism and primitive Christianity
designated ::lIld invoked the angels as KUPIOL' .50 Indeed, in the New Testa-
ment KVPI6Tr]S usually just means a class of angels. It was bccause of the
according of this status to Christ Werner claims, that 110 approach to the
quc$tion of the Trinity could be made in primitive Christian times (the
real rca son for tbis deficiency was, however, the prevalence of the
conomic view of the r lationship betw.een Father, SOll and Spirit). Tllis
alone could have been. the cause f the early Christian suhordillationism
wh,i h Jesus had himself most decisively advocated (Mark 10. IS; 13- 32;
14. 36). The subordination only became a co-ordination of Christ with
God during the process of' de-eschatologiziug'. Even tlle angel-christology
did not, of course, by- pass the problem of the relationship of this Christos
angelos to the historical Jesus of Nazareth. The idea of , trailsformation' (of
the one illtO the other) fOrIned the bridge between the two. Phil. 2 . 5-II
and Rom. r. 4 bear witness to this. The pre-existent Messiah gave up his
divine, i.c. heavenly, form and' "substituted" for it the "form" of a
slave (sc. of the angelicpowers which ruled the world), i.e. he appeared in
AI/cyra, Halle 1940, 205; cf. DaniCiou I, III, 168-72; II, 262 (Hippolyt., Bel/cd. Moys., ed. Maries 170:
Christ as Day, Sun and Year).
~7 M. Werner. Die ElllstcllUlIgde$ cllrisllicitrn DaRmas. Bern- TUbingen r.95,t1 , 30z-1lS; in an a.htidgcd
vcr~iol1, Srnltg:lrt 1959, 74-1.00; ET. The FOrmaliQI/ ~r Ghri.<1/'lI1 Doclrill c, London-New Vork 1957,
Uo-OL TIlls cclilion will he quoted in what follows. Against chis W. MJchnciis, Zur ElIgelclITislo/p,gie
illl U"IIr1sltJ'/IIIII, Basel I942. n the wIwle question: J. B:l.rbel, GI,ris/lls AII.gel",s (Thcophancia 3).
BO)lJl 1941. ; id . 'Zur "Engel-Trinit5tslcltrc" im Urchtisccncum', TR 54. 1958, 49-58; 103-u ~s a
comment on G. l<rctschmar. SIIIt/iell zlIr !nil"hrl.lrlid,cu Trilliliilsrhe%gjr, TUbingcn 1956, and J.
Danle.!oLl, RSR 45. 1957. 5- 41 and I, /17-47
48 M. Werner, The Formalioll oiGhr/sliml Dogma, 120.
~9 Ibid . 121-2.
so Ihid . 123.
a form like that of a man, he had in Iris whole manner (CT)(llIlCX) resembled a
man'.51 Such. a transformation was only possible if the subject was not
'God unchangeable', but merely a created angeJic being.
(Here Werner's argument is no longer exegetical but dogmatic. The
later development of christology will give him the dogmatic answer that
it is morc easily possible for the omrupotent God to tak upon himself a
hwnan existence while preserving his transcendence than it is for an an gelic
being to change into a human form. Gael alone can have the power over
his being which, jn the view of the Fathers, is necessary for the incarnation.
The Fathers, too, saw the problem of the divine transcendence very dearly,
and in their struggle against Arianism, Apoliinarianism and Monop] ysit-
ism they achieved a complete solution without renouncing belief in the
incarnation. They are thus, unlike the angelic transformation o[Wemer's
view, a long way separated from myth.)
On the other hand, Jesus, the prophetic man, revealed himself through
his mighty deeds and signs as the one chosen for future elevation to the
rank of the heavenly Messiah.
The history of the Primitive Christian doctrine of Christ as a high angelic being pursued
its way in the pOSt-.1pO colic period through successive stages. At first the view gradually
subsided of its own accord and became problell.h"ltieal. Then, already profoundly shaken
within, it had to endure fmally a decisive assault during the Arian dispnte of the fourth
centllry. ~that conflict it was bitterly attacked by the representatives of the new doctrine
of Christ, which had emerged in the intervaJ, aild at last it was proscribed alld suppressed
as errOneous doctril~e.52.
It is quite true that the Christos angelos theme is a very real one and that
it had an important position in the early Christian period, but Werner has
failed to evaluate its historical characteristics accurately. He overestimates
what is meant to be an aid towards christological thought. The fact that
the synoptists make Jesus of Nazareth, who is to come again in aU his
glory, all angel-prince, does not mean that Christ himself is an angel, but
just that he is the Lord of the angels and the powers. The position ofJesus
among the good powers i'i to be understood in a way analogous to his
relationship with the evil powers whom Paul at any rate includes among
the KVPI6TT)TES. Werner forgets to find a [lace for Christ in the total
picture of all the powers (both good an evil). Christ transcends all
powers. We are as little forced to conclude from his Lordship over the
good powers that he shares t11eir nature as we arc able and entitled to
draw a similar conclusion from his Lordship over the evil powers. 53 The
nature of the transcendence ofJesus at the least remains open. One basic
fact should be noted, that Jesus' lordship, his KVPI6TT)S, is predicated of
51 Ibid., 127.
52 Ibid . 131.
53 C H. Schlier. Mac/lte ulld GClvalleu irn Neuen Tcstamelll (Quaestiones Disputatae 3). Freiburg
1958. 37-49.

him as man. The Lord of the powers is he who has gone through death
and the resurrection (c Col. L 15-18). The extent of his exaltation is first
evident from the fact that although man, he is raised above all powers (Eph.
1. 21; c Heb. 1. 3). The terms which express the difference between the
natures are here 'man' and 'spirit-powers'. The comparison of natures here
is purely negative (Christ, although man, is set over the powers); the
positive element of tbe comparison is the difference between Christ, the
man, and the spirlt powers. These powers did not recognize the wisdom
of God working itself out in Christ and therefore they crucified the 'Lord
of Glory' (r Cor. 2 . 8). They did not bow themselves before the humble
Jesus of Nazareth who himself overcame the powers through his obedi-
ence. There is no hint that Jesus owes his victory over these powers to his
angelic nature or that the messianic title Son of Man is best explained from
the angelic nature of Christ. That would be to make a sad mistake. In
Phil. 2. S-II, too, Christ's lordship is not essentially derived from his
angelic nature, though at the same time it is said that the exalted one rules
over all realms of creation and thus over the powers also. To say that this
exalted one had previously transformed himself by abandoning his
angelic nature for human form is au inapposite mythologizing of the
Pauline passage. The O')(fi~cx is true human nantre which is assumed by the
pre-existent one of whom it is said that he is in the form of God. We are
not justified ill seeing in him an angelic being.
We may point out the over-estimating of the Christos angelos idea, but
within limits it is not to be denied as a historical fact. The sources testify
that Christ was given the name 'angel' right up until the fourth century.54
A first reason behind this will have been the idea ofthe mal' akh Yahweh, the
angel of Yahweh. If this was transferred to Christ, it needed a special
interpretation. It was therefore the practice of the Fathers of the second
century to interpret the theophanies of the Old Testament, in which the
angel of the Lord was the central figure, as theophanies of the Logos. This
gave rise to the equation 'Logos = mal' akh Yahweh'. In doing tll is, how-
ever, these Fathers do not force down the Logos to the status of a created
angel, however much subordinationist ideas may have crept in. The Logos
concept remains dominant, and the angel concept is given a new signifi-
cance. With this interpretation of the appearances of the Logos we have
not yet, however, reached the Jewish- Christian realm. We first come into
this latter when the la.te Jewish docttine of angels is used to interpret the
nature and mission of Christ. Prime concern is with the interpretation not
of the nature, but of the mission of Christ. Judaistically conditioned
christology is predominantly functional, not ontological. It is possible to
transfer the name 'angel' to Christ as a functional category as long as the
'4 For what follows see J. Barbel, Chris/os Angelos, 181-3II; Danic!lou I, II7-47; F. Stier, Gott und
seill Ellge/ im Alten Testament, MUnster 1934. 1-3.

way lies open for a full definition of his transcendence and the way in
which, in the view of the tradition, it corresponds to his nature. But the
insufficiency of this this respect was soon felt.
The Shepherd of Hennas already shows us the whole position of the
angel christology. It is fond of talking of the 'glorious' or the 'most
reverend' angel (Ev8o~os, 0'E\.lV6TaTOS &yyEAOS, Sim. IX, I, 3; Mattd, V, I,
7) who sends the 'shepherd' or the 'angel of repentance', thus revealing
himself as someone different from the latter. The angel of repentance is
merely guardian of those who are made righteous by the 'most reverend'
angel (Mand. V, 1, 7). The latter, in fact, decides the penance which
Hermas has to undergo (Sim. vn, I-3). He sends the Shepl1erd to Hermas
(ibid. 4). According to Sim. VIII, I, 1-2 (the parable of the willow) this
'glorious angel', depicted as a surpassingly tall figure, decides about
righteollS and sinners in their acts of repentance. He bestows the seal and
grants admission to the company of the holy ones, the church, which is
symbolized by the tower. Everything indicates that this high angelic
figure is meant to be Christ. Now we suddenly learn that the glorious
angel is Michael:
And a glorious allgel of the Lord, very tall, stood by the willow tree; he had a great
sickle, and he kept cutting branches from the willow tree and giving them to the people
who were in the shadow of the tree (Shu. VIll. 1,2). This great tree, which overshadows
plains and mounta.ins and all the earth. is the law of God. which is given to all the world.
And this law is the Son of God preached to the ends of the earth. And the people who
are under its shadow are those who have heard the preaching and have believed in it.
The great and glorious angel is Michael. who has power Over this people an,d governs
them. for it is he who put the law into the hearts of those that believe ... (SIIII. VIII. 3,

There is much that is Jewish in this parable. The law is likened to a tree.
We already know the origin and significance of the equation 'Son-law.'
The .interpretation of Michael as the leader of the chosen people is also
Jewish. Here Hennas is either duplicating his figures (the Lord of the
church would be first Christ and then Michael) or he is identifying the
two, so that either the Son of God would have to be understood as
Michael or Michael as the Son of God.
Hermas usually makes hislarables complicated in this way. He works
with traditional material an does not completely achieve the transposi-
tion to a new level of understanding. But there can be no question of a
substantial reduction of the Son of God to Michael. For the Son is in the
end quite clearly distinguished from the archangel, even though the latter
stands in the place usually occupied by the Son of God. The elements of
transcendence in the picture of the 'most reverend' angel, by which is
meant the Son of God, go far beyond the Jewish picture of Michael. For
the Jewish tradition Michael is indeed the supreme leader of the heavenly

hosts (&pX1<TTpa.1JYos), but it is not certain that he is also the chief of the
seven archangels in the sense that the other six are his subordjnates. ss The
Shepherd of Hermas, however, quite clearly leaves this place free for
Christ and in such a way as to correspond to the new figure:
'Have you also seen the six men 3l1d the glorious and great mall in their midst, who is
walkillg rolllld the tower allCi who rejected the stones from the building?' 'Yes, sir.'
'The glorious man is the Son of God, and those six are the glorious angels who support
him 00 the right and on the left. Of these glorious angels nOlle can emer the presence of
God without him. Whoever does not receive his n.l.InC will not ent~r the lcingdom of
God' (Silll.1X, 12, 7-8).
Here it is quite clear that the Son of God is meant and that as such he is
superior to the six cruef angels. These angels are his entourage. He does
not stand like Michael as prim liS inter pares, for he is the way to God even
for the angels! Michael is not given such a role among the archangels, even
in his capacity as escort of souls. For this is merely an incidentallllcdiation
of salvation, which is in no way comparable to that of the Son of God.
As a visible symbol of this transcendence, the figure of the Son of God
is given superhuman dimensions, so that he even overtops the tower (Sim.
IX, 6, I). We find tills symbolism quite frequently ill eady Cill:iscia.n
writing, especially in conncction with the angels. According to V Esdras,
hostile to 1udaism as it is, the elect arc assembled around Christ on mount
Sion and 'in their midst stood a young man of exceptional height W]lD
overtopped them aU. 011 the head of each OJle of them he set a crown and
grew upwards still more.... ) 'It is the SOil of God, whom they confessed
in the world: is the answer given when the identity of this person is
The Gospel of Peter, limited to small circles in Syria, is particularly con-
cerned to defend tlle divinity of Christ against pagan and Jewish attacks.
So the suffering of Christ is idealized and the resurrection in particular is
And whilst they (the soldiers of the governor) wcrexelating what they had seen (the
descent of two men from heaven to the sCEulchrc of Jesus), they saw again truee men
come out from the sepulchre, alld two of [hem SUStailll.11g thc other, alld a cross following
them, and the heads of the (first) two reaching to heaven, but that of him who was led
of them by the haud overpassing the heavens.57
The extraordinary size of the figure of Christ is meant to be a palpable
sign of his transcendence which (as in the Shepherd of Hennas) makes
him tower even above the angels. Heavenly beings, including angels,
" Cf. J. Da,tbcl, Chris/os Angelos, 224- 35, esp. 2]3.
!6E. Hen\1ecke-W. Schnc~lcher-R MeL. Wilson. NI!JU Tesloml.'llt Apocryplla n. London 1965
(cited a~ New Tesl. Apoe. 11). 695. The scene is remini~ccJlt of Rcv. J4.1.
'7 SlItlllg. Pel. 39,4-0: cd. L. Vaganny, L'Sv""gile de Pierre, Paris 1930, 20']-300, ET ill HennC(;ke-
SclmcclIleJchc.t- Wilson, Nelli Trslamellt Apocrypha I, Londoll 196) (cited tiS New Test. Apoc. 1), 1.86;
n similar scene /JsccIISioJl of Isaiall lll, 16, 1.1, ill Now Test. Apoc. II, 647- 8.
reach above everything earthly.s8 But Christ is still higher than all heaven-
ly spirits. His head is higher even than heaven itse] The fact that the
risen one is led is not a sign of weakness, but a feature borrowed from the
ceremonial accorded a ruler and suitable for Christ, the Kyrios. The
representatiol1 of the transfigured Christ as a giant is in accordance with a
pattern common among orthodox and heretics alike. According to
Hippolytus, the Elkasaites represented Christ after this fashion. 59 It is also
known to the Gnostic Acts ofJohn and many acts of the martyrs.60 There
was a special standard for the divine form upon earth, as Celsus testifies
by demanding an expression of the Godhead of Christ even in the form
of Jesu~ of Nazareth, an expression which he does not discover in the
description of Christ given by Christians. 61 Here we are in the realm
of Helle~listic ideas, though of a popular khld. Later a similar but lllore
sublime approach will be evidenced by the Antiochenes. Of course, the
figure of the 'great SOIl of Man' cannot guarantee a description of the
transcendence of Christ as it is meant by the dogma of the church, i.e.
true Godhead. It reI:llains perforce a quantitative -distinction. The theo-
logical approach remains decisive. Individual ideas must be investigated
to determine their respective values as theological expressions.
The Christ-Gabriel and the Christ-Michael-Gabriel relationships
deserve special attentio~. ~he ~pistl.tla Apostolontm makes. the angel Gabri~l
the angel of the annunclatIOn, mto a form of the Lord hlmself, who of hiS
own power forms a body in the Virgin. Gabriel is not the Lord himself; he
merely gives him his form. 62
The view that the Logos formed himself in the womb of his mother does not imply
any identification of C!u;ist and Gabriel. Nor does the idea that the conception took place
dueing the salutation of the :lngel prove this identification.... The only time that the
voice of the angel (or even the auge! himself) ha-5 greater significance, this idea is sharply
[epudiated by a representative of the great church.63

Tertullian, who fought against the denial of the incarnation of Christ by

the docetists, shows that even at trus stage there could be a reflex dis-
avowal of the angel-christology. He allows the validity of only one
parallel between Christ and the angels out of six possibilities: Christ is an
angel as the messenger of the Father to redeem the human race.

58 See also the great resurrection angel of the A/laphora Pi/ati A 9; ed. C. Tischendorff, Eva/lge/ia
Apoc'Ypl,Q, 4-40f.
~p Hippolytus, BI~/lclIIIS 9, 13, 2: GCS 26, 51; J.
Barbel, Christos Angelos, 278, n. 410.
~OActa ]oallll. 90: Lipsius-Bonnet, II, I, 195; Acta Perpet. et FeUc. 4, 5 and 10,4: KrUger, 37, 39;
Passio Mariani et Jacobi 7, 3: KrUger, 70.
61 Origen, COIi/ra Cclsu/II 6, 77: GCS IT. 146.
~l Bpist. Aposl .. 13. 14, cd. H. DuenSing, N olV nsl. Apo,. I, 198-9; C. Schmidt, GespriicheJesu mit
se/llell Jill/gem lIadl der Altfi'rsJeillmg, Ldpzig 1919. solf.
Ii.l J Barbcl,Cllrisros AI/gelos, 2.6l; he refers to Ps. AtIlan., Sermo in anlluilliaf. Dciparae 7f.: PG 28,
92sD-928C; Barbel, op. cit., 247-8, 235-62.

Dictus est quidem (Christus) magni consilii angelus, id est nuntius, officii, non naturae vocabulo.
Magnum enim cogitatum patris, super hominis scilicet restitutione, adnuntiaturus saeculo erat.64
His distinction that angel is a name descriptive of a function and not of a
nature will remain decisive for Latin theology. Thus the name 'angel' can
be applied to Christ, just as he can also be given the name 'prophet'. For
Christ is the last and absolute revealer of the father, quite simply his
Logos sent out into the world. Of course, some of the other five possi-
bilities which Tertullian enumerates and rejects have beenheld in numer-
ous circles. Origen, for example, goes further than Tertullian. Certainly
he recognizes the incarnation of the Logos. But he also acknowledges a
process of becoming an angel similar to that of the scheme of descent in
the Ascensio Isaiae. He derives his idea from his understanding of the Old
Testament theophanies:
But observe that according to the account in Scripture the angel spoke to Abraham
and that in what follows this angel is evidently shown to be the Lord. Therefore I believe
that just as his appe:\rance among men is that of a man, so too his appearance among
angels is that of an angcl. 6S
Origen is concerned with the universality of redemption. Here the
soteriological principle' quod 110n cst assul11plum 11011 est Sanalllltl', w hjch we
are to meet in his writings, is applied not merely to men but to the world
of spirits. Surely, apart fr0111 Philo,66 the nco-Platonic view of the world
which augen followed lies behind such an idea. But it should be noticed
that:in becoming man and becoming angel the Logos remains what he is.
He merely assumes a cli1fercllt figure in each case. Nevertheless, Jerome is
extremely incensed about Origen: 'He is wrong about the resurrection of
the body, he is wrong about the condition of souls and the repentance of
the devil, and more grave than aJl this, he testifies that the Son and the
Holy Spirit are Seraphim.'67 Is Origen then on the threshold of an angel-
christology in the strict sense? It is true that for him the two seraphim of
Isa. 6 are 'my Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit'.68 He refers to Jewish SOltrCes.
Surely here too the Philoruc interpretation of the two winged beings on the
ark of the covenant as two 'powers' of God has been of influence. For
Origen these two powers become the Logos and the Holy Spirit, under-
stood in a markedly subordinationist sense. For the Logos himself prays
to the Father and is not himself the focus of worship: 'We may not pray
to him who himself prays. '69 Tl1eologically speaking, the greatest danger
here is that of an equation of Logos and angel seclmdu/'I'I I'Inturam, and Dot
64 Tcrtullinn, Dt came CI"is/i 14; in Barbel, Chris/os Ange/os, 286, n. 439. Cf. ibid., 284-8.
6S Origen, III Gm. 1'0111. 8, 8; quoted by Barbel, op. cit., 288; c 288--97.
66 Philo, Dc sOllllliis I. :1.3 2, 238f. In this chapter we examine the idea of a change of form only
brieRy. Bacbel, op. cit., 293.
67 Jerome, Ep. 71 ad Vigilallt.: CSEL 54, 5771- 6.
680rigen, III Is. How.: GCS VIlI. 244,11-28; De Prille. 1,3,4: GCS V, 5217-53 4.
69 Origen, De Drill. r5. 2: GCS n, 2341P.

merely secundum officium, to use the language of Tertullian. But Origen

did not take this step (see below under 'Odgen'). Nevertheless. the fact
that this path. by way of the angel-christology, could lead to Arianism is
not to be denied. Methodius of Olympus, Lactantius and an Wlknown
preacher ou the 'three fruits of the spiritual life' would seem to be much
nearer to the suspicion of Arian heresy.70 The play on the monogram
XMr, which in many cases is meant to be solved as Christ-Michael-
Gabriel, threatens to become a play with hercsy.71 But even if these three
names stand together, we are not necessarily to conclude that Christ is
held to have the nature of an angel. 72
Although the Ch.rlstos al'1gelos idea was extremely popular through the
centuries and has real theological value as an expression. its limitations
became recognized more and more. The idea was incapable of expressing
the whole force of the picture of Christ present in the church's faith.
In the post-apostolic period. theil, ill the second and beginning of the
third centuries. we discover an archaic christology which has its own,
surely to great extent Jewish, way of expressing the transcendence of
Christ. Christ is the present 'name' of God and the realization of the
divine 'law', the 'beginning' and the new 'day' for the world. the 'angel
of mighty counsel'. All these expressions still belong to the Old Testament.
biblical way of talking about God, which in the case of God or of Christ is
concerned more with their works, their revelation and the demonstration
of their power than with the understanding of their essential being. Never-
theless, a view of the nature of Christ also emerges here. It is a matter
of his persoll. In essentials his relationship to God. to the world and to the
church are described in a way which is not essentially differentfrom that in
the other traditions of the period. as will become plainer in what follows.
We shall now attempt to interpret the second-century picture of Christ
from a different point of view. namely the popular character of early
Christian theology. There we shall have the opportunity of indicating
Jewish-Christian material stillmore b:equently. especially in connection
with the theology of the mysteries of the life ofJesus.
(b) A popular picture of Christ
In the second century, the Christian tradition is like a young stream,
coming down from the mountains, which can now for the fmt time
spread itself on a broad landscape and extend into a lake. The landscape
becomes wider and more varied, but at the same time less noble. The lake

70 Cf. Barbel, Christos AI/gelos, 181--92, 192-5.

71 Ibid. 262--9.
llWc may perhap~ pass the samcj udgcment on this monogrnm as on the picture which Werner
gives as evidence for n,ngel-christology in his work Tile Fo(mnrioll ~f CI,risriali Dogma. Christ is shown
as the 'angel of mighty counsel" and is winged (North Greek Presco). But has Werner noticed that in
the nimbus ofthls O/irisl(ls a/lgelus 0 OWN is written? Christ is thus clearly meant as God.

threatens to lose itself at the edges and to form stagnant water. But then
at last the river again Ie-forms, to go on its way more strongly and more
swiftly than before. This is the picture which meets us if we investigate the
christological beliefs of the many anonymous and pseudonymous and
apocryphal 73 writings of the second century, and after moving round the
periphery of the tradition eventually end among the great witnesses of the
second century, Clement of Rome, Ig\latius of Antioch and Polycarp.
Even so, we will have seen only a part of the christologicallandscape of
the second century. It has still more surprises in store.
The writings with which we are concerned here are almost all known
to us from the previous section. Our present examination of them with
respect to their popular nature is particularly important for any under-
standing of the tradition of the second century, for in this unlearned and
unconsidered writing we trace the direct effort of early Christian cateche-
sis. We see the form in which the Christian faith was alive in the hearts of
the wider, uneducated classes. As has often been said, it was of these
people that Christianity was at fust predominantly composed. 74 The
Jewish, Judaizing and Hellenistic milieu of the second century is charac-
terized by the traces of widespread popular influence and popular ideas.
For this reason, the writing of the period is spread still, and is more
variegated, than in the age of the theologians. This is also the reason for its
open tone. Everywhere the heart and the imagination speak more loudly
than the mind, while in the apocryphal writings we have above all 'Ie
desir d'emouvoir par Ie patlu!tique ou d'interesser par Ie merveilleux'.15
This 113s implications for the description of the transcendence ofJesus.
We shall now first outline tlle picture of Christ and the views of the
pcrson ofJesus as they appear in some characteristic writings of the early
pcriod, and then pay particular attention to the so-called mysteries of the
life of Jesus, which were the favourite preoccupation of the time. The
Shepherd of Hermas is an example of the embarrassment over christo-
logical problems (see above). The contradictions in the interpretation of
the incarnation which occur in this work are probably to be attributed to
different stages of editing. 76 In addition, the christology is at the service of
parenesis. Presumably inspired by the parable of the vineyard in the gospels
73 New Test. Apoc. I, 21-8; II, 79-87; A. de Santos, Los Evallgelios Apocrifos (Biblioteca de Autores
Cristianos), Madrid 1956, 1-27.
74 C Athenag., Suppl. II; Minucius Fe!.. Octavo 14. I, where the Christians are described as a lot
of 'miller's workers' (miller's workers and bakers were regarded as rhe lowest class). cf. ibid. 8, 4:
12,2.7. where reference is made to the low standard of education among the Christians. something
for which they were despised by the pagans. Galen lucJl1de~ the Christians among dlose who Cllll
follow no 'COlUlccted argument and so need co be instructed by parables' (in E . Hcnncckc. Ntl.
Apokryplrell, TUbingcn 19242.4:76. n. 1). But the social distribution of Christians differed according to
regions and had already changed by the second ccmpry. Cf. Minucius Pel . Octall. 31. 6: Euscb . HE
V, 24.1.
75 A. Puech, His/oire de la Iitteralure Rrecqrre clrr(ticlllrejl/.Squ'(j lafi,r dll 4" silclc II. Pads 1929, 4.
76 There are completely contradictory assessments of the trinitarim teaching and chdstology of the
Shepherd of Hermas: (Q) Those who maintain that it corresponds with the teaching of the church
(c Mark 12. 1- 2; Luke 20. 9-19). in Sil1l. V, 2 proceeds to
clarify the advantage of fasting and works of supererogation by using as
an example Christ (whose name is not mentioned), the worker in the
vineyard of the Lord.
A faithful servant is chosen and commissioned by God, the lord of the
vineyard. to look after the property. He is just to put a fence round it
while his master is abroad. But the servant does more thanllc has to, digs
over the vineyard and clears it of weeds. On his return the lord is. pleas-
antly surprised, grants the servant his freedom iu return for the work which
was asked of him and for the work over and above what was asked
proposes to make him joint heir with his sou. The son gives his consent.
Because the servant proves himsdf luther by passing on to his fellow
servants food which has been sent to him from the master's feast (in fact,
the commandments of God), the decision which has been made is further
confirmed, especially as the fellow servants make intercession for the
faithful servant.
Now what does this image of the servant signify for Christ? For we
must as'sume that it is he who is meant. A clear adoptionist christology
seems to wlder lie the passage. 77 But in Sim. V, 5 the Shepherd of Hermas
itsdf gives an explanation which in contrast to the parable contains
important statements and goes some way towards vindicating the writer.
The servant himself, in fact, appears to be described as the Son: 'And the
servant is the Son of God ... the food which he sent him from the feast
are the commandments, which he gave to his people through his Son'
(Si1ll. V, 5,2- 3). In the explanation, many decisive features of the parable
arc, in fact, passed over: the adoption, which is stressed so much in the
parable; the intercession of the fellow servants, which is so shocking, and
finall y the connsel of the 'first created angels'. In V, 6 the interpretation is
further deepened. Chapter 5 ends with the significant question why the
Son of God in the parable is given the form of a servant. Now in eh. 6 the
servant is openly designated Son. To him the people are entrusted, and to
protect them, the Son, who appears 'in great might and glory'. appoints
the angels. He himself cleanses the sillS of the people an,d shows them the
path of life through the law. But once again everything is made doubtful,
for alongside the SOll, in the form of a servant, there appears a further
'Son', the Holy Spirit. To him the ill carnation is now ascribed (Sim. V, 6,
5-'7) :
arc: T. Zahn, Dcr Hlrl d.H, 1868; R. Sceberg, Doglllfilgesc/Jid,re 1,1920, u6ff.; Domer, E"r/O;,kl,,,,Ss-
gmllicllle, 1.90-105; (b) Those who maintain that it does not correspond: LipsiLls, Baur, Harnack,
Loofs, Funk, Bardcnhewcr; (c) 1110se who explain it from the point oIview of historical develop-
ment:]. Lebreton, Trill ire II. 346--S7. Cf. M. Dibclius. Der Hirt des Hmll(ls. TUbingen 1923.572-6;
R. Joly, He""as It PlIsrcllr (SC 53), 1958, 31-3; (d) S. Gict, HUll/tiS cI les Pasrcurs, Pnris 1963 : three
authors ' .
77 Harnack and Hilgenfeld detect adoptionism. Lebreton (TriniteII, 368) and Dibelius (op. cit., 573)
are milder in their judgements.

The Holy Spirit. which was there beforehand, which created all creation, was made
by God to dwell in the fleshly nature ($lIr~) which he willed. Now this Beshy nature, in
which the Holy Spirit dwelt. served the Spirit well, walking in holiness and purity, and
in no way defiling the spirit (V. 5). The fleshly nature lived n good life. with purity.
toillllg wirh the Spirit and working with it ill every deed, behaving with Rower and
bravery, and so (,he Lord) chose it as a companion with the Holy Spirit; (God) took
pleasure in the conduct of'.this flesh because it was not defiled with this wodd whi le it
was bearing the Holy Spirit (V, 6). He took his Son and rhe glori-olls angels as counsellors
'so thaD this f:l.cshly nature also, having served the S~irit blamelessl),. should have some
dwelling place and llOt seem to have lost the reward (for its service; for all flesh) in wJlich
the Holy Spirit has dwelt (will receive its rewa~d) if it be found undefiled and spotless
(V, 7).

Here we get glimpses of the christology and the trinitarian faith of the
great church, but the confusion is great and cannot completely be pnt
right. Now the body, the sarx, appears in the place of the 'appointed
servant'. This makes the adoptionist tone of the parable milder. The
HoJy Spirit 'which was there beforehand, which created all creation' is
surely lloue otheL than the pre-existent Godhead which is elsewhel'e
predicated of the Logos. Here the Shepherd of Hermas lapses into a
tenninological equivocation of the eady chnrch. It was customary to
designate the Godllea,d qwte simply as P1WII'I1Q (c Rom. L 4). but also to
use this for the persall oEthe Holy Spirit. Just as ill Johannine terminology
(as we shall see), Christ could be described as Logos-sarx, so the other
formula 'pneuma-sarx' could also take its pIace. 78
The Shepherd of Hcrmas can fuJd no way out of this terminological
confusion. First of all it distinguishes Father and pneuma and the in-
dwelling of the pneuma in the flesh, i.e. Christ (here we surely have the
primitive Christian belief that Christ is God incarnate). But then occurs
the other line of tradition, that the pre-existent Son, the mediator of the
Father at the creation of the world (Sim. lX, 12, 2!) and his revealer
(ibid., 3 !) has entered the world (see (a) above). Remarkably enough, the
Shepherd of Hermas no longer speaks of the incarnation in this context.
So the incoherence of tile ideas remains. We have, moreover, seen that the
confusion is heightened by a third factor: an angel-christology in addjtion
to the SOI1- and Spirit- christologies. Of the christology of the Shepherd
of Hernlils, we may say that it is a reflection of the chr:istology of the
chnrch, not clearly llllderstoQd, and not a creation of the Shepherd of
Hermas itself. In any ease it found no appreciation in later years: attention
78 On the pneuma-s:lrx formula see below on 19l1atiu~. e-sp. p. 88, n. 183; Melito of Sardis; F. Loofs,
T lleaphllllJ, 101-2..10. 2 Clem. 9. s (cd. Bihlmeyer, 7S) is typicnl. A va[]ant text has Logos instead of
pneuma. Here we sec the orthodox lise of this formula. Like the Shepherd of Hermas, the Acts of
Paul also succumb to the equivocation. cr. 1. VOUV~lIX, us Ales fll' Paul et ses lellres apocryphes,
Paris 1913, 72-6. There are also misunderstandings in Ps.-Cyprian, De monlibus 4 (ed. Hartel, app.
108 l7rr) and in Victorinus of Pet tau (cf. ZNW 36, 1937, 38-41). See now J. P. Martin, EI Espiritu Sail to
ell los orige/1es del cristiallismo. Estuflio sobre I Clemellte, Ignacio, II Clemellte y justillo Martir, ZUrich
1971; M. Simonetti. 'Note di cristologia pneumatica'. Aug 12, 1972, 201-32. Simonetti produces
further evidence going beyond that in Martin.

was paid only to its most original teaching, on morals and on repentance.
The christology was not found interesting in itself. This is in accordance
with the assessment which has been made of it.
In the Epistle of Barnabas we have a witness from groups of common
people in Alexandria. 79 Its teaching is simpler and less rich than that of the
other writings which are numbered among the Apostolic Fathers.
'Barnabas' fights against the Jews, perhaps because of the danger of a
restoration of the city ofJerusalem and the temple. The Old Testament is
made relative, even devalued. In the first part of the letter (chs. 1- 17) the
whole light of the promises is concentrated on Christ, the only Son of
the Father, to prove his Godhead and his absolute transcendence. Specula-
tions on the mysteries are alien to the writer (6. 5). Nevertheless, we fmd
in his work-on Alexandrian soil-the significant distinction between
simple faith and complete knowledge, glIOsis. The believers are to be led
to the teleia gliosis (I. 5), to the art of the allegorical interpretation of
scripture (13. 7). God has indeed revealed himself in the incarnation, but
at the same time he has also cOllcealed himself For our eyes, incapable
of looking upon him as God, now see him clothed in the flesh (5. 10).
This, then, is one significance of the incarnation-the second leads towards
the redemption. Christ willed to die in order that he might destroy death
and show forth the resurrection from the dead (5.6). A remarkable word
appears in this context-for the only time between Paul and Irenaeus:
ivcx TO TEr-EIOV TOOV allcxpTIOOV aVCXKEq>cxAcxIWo"~ Now the 'Son of God
came in tlle flesh for this reason, that he might recapitulate (complete,
fulfil) the total of the sins of those who persecuted his prophets to death'
(5. n). For the whole of three chapters the letter again and again leads up
to the question of the signiftcance of the incarnation, but without solving
it (5- 7). The incarnate one is the Son of God who is not just Son of God
through the incarnation but is already Son of God before his adventin the
flesh, indeed, before the creation of the world (6. 12). Perbaps the epithet
'the Logos' in 6. 17 applies to him. Again and. again 'Barnabas' speaks of
this Son of God (5.9; 5. I ; 6.12; 7. 2; 7. 9; 12. 8, 10; 15 5). It is not clear
whether the Son is also given the title 'God' (21. 5?). In any case, Christ is
the Kyrios, the Lord of the whole world (5. 5), and has a divine nature.
For the body is the 'vessel of the sp.irit' (7. 3 and II. 9), an expression
which, despite all its ambiguity in the time when it was written, is here
to be understood of the divine nature. For the body, as the vessel, and the
spirit are sharply contrasted. Only in stressi"l1g such an opposition is there
any point in speaking of-an 'appearing in the flesh' (5.6; 6. 7,9, I4; 12.10)
10 Episl. namnbn~. shortly 'before 13O-~. Cf. H. Vell. in Hconecke. Halldbuc/I cia 1111. Apokryphell.
1904.206-38; H. Windisch. Der Btlma/Jasbrl,:f. Tilbingcn 1920, 374ff. (00 christology); J. Lebreton.
Tti,,!,.! 11.332-45; K Wcngst. Tradl,io/l I/Ild TlreoJoglr des B(Jrlltlbnsbri~/es (Arbeiten zur Kirchenges-
chichte 42.). Berlin 197I. 82-9 (on chrismlogy). Text: T . Klauser, Docrrilla cluod. apos'. Bam. episl.
Flori!. Patr. I .Bonn 1940.

or of a 'coming in the flesh' (s. 10, II). 'Barnabas' allows the tension in
Christ, the sC411daiu/II crt/cis, to stand untOll hed. GocUlead is predicated
precisely of the suffering Christ, as the mystery of the cross leads Christians
to regard the extent of the humiliation (5. 5). Thus in this writing
the person of Christ occupies an absolutely central position. The let-
ter is meant to be dire ted towards a comprehension in faith. Its sources
and in particular the sources of its teaching on Christ and its attitude ta-
wards the old covenant lje .in the Epistle to the Hebrews, to wbjdl it
is akin in thought. In its evaluation of the Old Testament 'Barnabas'
stands midway between the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Antitheses of
With the so-called Second Epistle of Clement, a homily ( 7 3; ;9.1),
we are brought perhaps to Rome, to the environment of the Shepherd of
Hennas, and see-in a very different light- the COllIDlwlal belief of the
Roman church about I20-150. 8Q The homily is of the synoptic, prophetic,
late Jewish type. It is in every respect more facile than John and ouly in
the first chapter docs it attain 'the heights of a Johanllil1t: experience of
Christ'.8.1 The begilll ing of the homil y' already contail1S a dear recognition
of the Godhead of Christ: 'Br.ethren, we m ust think ofJesus Christ as of
God (ws mpl 900), as of thejl1dg ofche living and oEthe dead; and we
may not think little of our salvation. For if we think little of him we also
hope to attain but little' (1. r- 2a). In 9.5 there is Olle of the finest christo-
logical statements of the period: et XP1CrTOS " Kuplos " CTWCTOS TU.lOS, OlV \.lEV
TO 1TPWTOV 1TVEVIJ,O, eyevETo CT6:p~ 'If Christ the Lord who saved us,
who was first Spirit, became flesh and so called us, so also will we receive
our reward in this fl esh.' We are already famiJjar with 'Spirit' as an early
Christian expression for the Godhead of Christ. As has already been said,
a textual variant directly replaces this with the word Logos, of which the
next words are also reminiscent. 'Spirit ( = Log s)-man'; this is Christ.
This union of God and man is the type and cause of our calling. In Christ
God also becomes the Father of Christians (1. 4; 3. I). In Christ appears
God (12. J; 7. 5) who has made us of nothing (1. 8) and has redeemed us.
In 2 Clement we can see an already far-reaching christocentricity,
particularly in the doctrine of redemption, which is more dearly appre-
hended and described than in Hermas. As ilie Gnostic scorn for the body
and for the resurrection spreads wider, the mystery of the illcarnation is
the point which is put forward as the dogmatic foundation for the valua-
tion of human nature. Christ. the divine pneuma being made man, be-
comes the pledge of our calling to the resUI;, rection in the flesh. He is the
reason for prizing the body as the temple of God, in the Christian and ill

80 So J. Lebreton, Trinile II, 388 (in spite of 7. 3), with Knopf, A. Puech, Harnack. For Corinth:
Funk, KrUger, Altaner. For Alexandria: Harris, Streeter.
81 W. v. Loewenich,Jo"~lIl1esversliindllis, 7.

his neighbour {chs. 9 and 12, and often}. Around Christ is built up the
church, whic.h is b is body. Its nature is even understood ill a way complete-
ly analogous to the twofold nature of Jesus Christ, as the homily, like
Hermas, knows of a pre-existent church.
Now I imagine that you are not ignorant that the living church is the body of Christ.
For the scriptures say, 'God made man male and female.' The male is Christ, the female
is the church. Moreover, the books and the Apostles say that the church is not of the
present, but is from above (<fIvwo.v); for she was spiritual (1M_Ul-lo:TIK,'I) as was also oilr
Jesus; but (He) ap~cared at the end of days to save us. Now. the spiritual church appeared
111 the flesh o( Chnst to show us that each of us who guards her III the flesh and docs Iwt
corrupt her will receive her back in the Holy SFirit. Por this flesh is an anti-type of tire
Spirit. No olle therefore who has corrupted the anti-type shall receive the rcaLty. This
meallS, brethren, guard the flesh that you may receive the Spirit. Now if we say that tlle
flesh is the chmch and the Spirit Chcist, of COLLrse he who has abused the flesh has llbused
the church. Such a one wilillot receive the Spirit, which is Christ. 8Z

Without realizing it, the preacher has here come very close to a Gnostic
idea. For the idea of the pre-existent spiritual church, which preceded even
the synagogue, is condensed by the Valentinians into the aeon of the
Ecclesia. 83 The distinction 'the male is Christ, the female is the church' is
reminiscent of the pair of aeons 'man-dlUrdl' (&.v8pCi:rrroS" Ked EKKAT1cr!a)
amc:mg the Valentinian Gnostics. But thcpurpose of the homily is anti-
gnostic. It deals with the value of the flesh through its relation to Spirit,
church and Christ. In any case, here the preacher takes the divine element
and the human element in Christ seriously and treats both as a type of our
manhood and our calling, which comprises both flesh and spirit. 'Were
we to press the words of this fiery speaker, we would have here already
the whole order of recapitulation. The human body is symbolically
likened to the church which becomes visible at the incarnation,' and
which here, as in Hetmas (Mand. xn, 4, 2), is regarded as the goal of
creation. Irenaeus w ill carry through the line to Christ still more strongly. 84
Popular writing and hence the popular picture of Christ in the early
Christian period perhaps flllds its most dlaractedstic expression in the
Sibylline books. The collection of these fourteen (twelve extant) booksss
represent a maze of voices of many centuries, of pagans, Jews and Christi-
ans, of orthodox and heretics, who speak: through one another and against
one another. The Christian parts of this work may quite justifiably be
described as a mirror of the Christian thought of the second and early
822 Clem. 14.2-4; ed. Funk, Palres Apostolici I, 1901,200-2; see the excellent commentary by A.
Orbe, La Ullcioll del Verbo. Estudios Vaielltillos, Vol. III (Anal Greg. 113), Roma 1961, 14-20.
83 Note the similarity with Pastor Herm., Vis. I, I, 6; 3, 4; II, 4, I. Cf. J. KrUger, ZNW 31, 1932,
204-5 (mythic-gnostic interpretation). The Platonism of 2 Clement is evident.
a. E. ScharJ, R ec~l}i(lllnlio M UIIlIi, Frc.iburg 19.~l, n8- 19.
. "Text: J. Gelfckun, GCS, 15)02; also 11.. M . Kutfess, Sillyllillisc/le WeiSSQ,l!llIIgell, Urtel<t lind
Obcrsetzung, Mllncheu 195T. A. RzaGh. 3rt. 'Sibyllin. Orakcl', PWK 2. R. S, 2IOl- 83; A. KurfI'SS,
TQ II7, 1936, 35I-66; id . 'Chtistinn SibyllJncs' (with bibliogr.). N~w Test. ApOl. U, 703-44. 13ard
Thompson, 'Patristic Use o[ the Sibylline Oracles,' /I..t.'vlcw oj R cllgioll n6, 1952, 1!S-J6 (not avail-
ablc to m.e).

third centuries. We hear the talk of ordinary Christians, which often

sounds clumsy, but still is often ladell with deep anxieties and hopes. The
pressure of per:secutioD and the consciousness of then: inability to get
redress at law ovc(burdens their: hearts. In these verses they struggle to
jll$tify their existence in the 'lce of heathenism and are recognized and
slandered by the pagans as the perpetrators of sud] sayings. 86 With
deep-felt, Cassandra-like cries the Christians seek to pr:escrve themselves
from cile dangers of persecution and suppression by .promising to the
Roman authot-ities the return of their: powerful king and lord, the God
Jesus Christ, the judg of all beings. They place their Christian 'lith in the
mouth of the Sibyls of an earlier age, so as to produce the support of
aJ1tiqui'ty for their teaching and thus vindicate their cult. Because even in
pre-Christian times acrostic verses were considered genuine and particu-
larly safe against falsification because of their association with a sequence
of letters from the alphabet the Christians began to construct acrostics of
this kind. These were, in fact, so successful that they were so n regarded
as genuine even among the Christians themselves. Dy the time ofLactan-
tius and Constantine the Great, in whose sp e had Coelu/II Stll/ctOrtll1/ the
great acrostic of Book VIII occurs and is given as the prophecy of the
Erythraean Sibyl, there is no longer any doubt about their authenticity.s1
Augustine produces a translation-which d es not stem from him-and
passes 011 to the Middle Ages his delight in these verses. 88 The Roman
emperor attached the death penalty to the reading of such books. But in
va ill. The passionate struggle of the Christians of the time of the Apol ogises
kept making progres . Whereas the Jews gradually gave up the spiritual
battle against Rome, the Christians kept it up ul1til their final victory. The
Sibylline books were, moreover, quoted eagerly by the Fad1.ers (see n. 85
The Christian poems in, or additions to, these books largely concern the
figure of Christ, his life and work, and his ptlrousia. Book VTII, which in
its essentials (including the great acrostic) belongs to the second century,
is particularly important. A hymn is composed OD the last j udgemcn t and
the second coming using as an aCIOstic the letters of the creclal saying
read the initial letters of this first acrosti by its If: th re ul t is a second, the
well-known ICHTHYS. After the letters of the word lCIrl'HYS (fish) another
poet soon afterwards added vv. 244- 50. These in their turn arc followed by
a llew, didactic, reaUy un-Sibylline prophecy on the being of Christ (251-
323). His birth is then described in an imitation-pagan way in vv. 456-79,
a high point of the whole collection, after the pre-mundane existence of

86 So Celsus in Origen, Ctr. Cels. vrr, 53; V. 61.

87 Lactant . Div. 11151. 4, 15. 26; Euseh., Co/wallt. Drat. ad Satlct. coel. 19. 1.
88 Augustine, De civ. Dei XVIII. 23; A. M. Kurfcss. His!lb 77.1958,328-38.

the Logos and his creative might have been celebrated (429-55). These
verses contain the most important aspect of the 'Sibylline' christology, in
so far as it belongs -to the second or the early third century. The other
christological parts (VI; VII, 641) are less important here. The Christian
additions to 1 derive from the middle of the third century.
The poet of the acrostic is concerned to paint an impressive picture of
Cluist as king and lord. 'Prom heaven will descend one who is filture
king to eternity, who is to judge all flesh and the whole world. Believing
and unbelieving men will look upon God, Him, the Highest, with the
saints at the end of time' (Vill, 218-21). 'All will come to thejudgement-
seat of God, the king' (242). The poet of the CTAYPOC acrostic has clothed
his christological proclamation in an artificial verse-form. At the last
judgement the cross will also be the seal and sign of believers, the longcd-
for hom (full of) grace, which pours out its blessings in baptism through
the twelve apostles (VITI, 244ft) Christ, \the iron shepherd's crook, will
rule' (Vill, 248, cf. Ps. 2. 9; Rev. 2. 27) . Therefore the Roman rulers are to
know tha t they will share the fate of those in Ps. 2 who make an uproar-
this is evidently the thought which the poet has in mind. He snmmarizes
the theme of his Sibylline saying once again: 'He who has now been
made known through the acrostic is our God, the saviour, the immortal
king, who has suffered on our behalf' (249). The oppressed Christian
souls of that time found their conlfort in the crucifted one and the lowly
earthly appearance of Christ. This is clear from the next verses, which
are inspired by scripture. For Moses already foretold the crucified one
'when he stretclled out his holy arms and conquered Amalek in faith' . For
so too will Christ, by the stretching out oEhis hands upon the cross, be
accepted by the Father, the rod of David and the promised stone( I;
8. 14; 28 . 6).89 Laden with the cross he stands before these Christians:
Par he will come in to the crea ti.on not ill glory, but like a man, wretched,
clisholloured, unsightly, to give to the wretched hope' (VIII, 256). This is
the Christ of the period of persecution. 90
But it is only one aspect of Christ. This man of poor appearance is the
hope of the oppressed because he has a hidden being within himself, he is
'the counsellor of the Almighty', the type of created man (VITI, 264f).
He already is before all creation, but is entrusted by the Father with the
care of the men created by them both. Here, of course, the relationship of
the 'Son' to the Logos is not obvious. It seems as if the Logos were somc-
89 On the favourite and frequent motif of the 'Stretching out of the hands' see A. Grillmeier, Der
Logos am Kreuz, MUnchen 1956, 67-80, and E. Stommel, 'Ir)l.lElov EKTTETCxOEWS (Didacl,e 16, 6)',
RomQ 48. 1953,21-42.
90 On this idea of the 'unsightly nnd hateful Christ' cf. A. Grillmcicr, op. cir., 42-7; H. W. Wolff,
Jrsnjn 53 jill UrcbrislclIIlIIII, Declln 1952. This idea would also be prompted by nnti-d.ocetic and anti-
GnQ$tic tendencies. It contrnsts with the idea or the 'fair C hrist'. CC A. Grill! op. cit., 47-9.
111 all tha we have a populnr, pi ctorial idea of Christ. which was of COL.lrse also utilized for theological

one else alongside the Son: 'Now will I with my hands91 and you with the
Logos care for our form (I.e. the man formed by God) .... Now mindful
of this decree will he come into creation, bearing an jmage of the same
likeness in the Holy Virgin' (VllI, 267ff.). But in what follows the Son and
the Logos and the incarnate one are on,e and the same: 'For he himself is
alJ hca.J.'ing, scnsc and Logos, whom all obeys' (284). he who walks visibly
among men, so visibly that 'the reprobate al1d unbelievers strike "God"
on the back with impious hands and spit upon him venomollsly frOln
loathsome mouths' (288). Whatever happens to the man Jesus llappens to
the Son of God. The poet sees quite clearly 'who he is and whose SOil,
whence he came to speak to the dead' (293). Come down from heaven,
descended into hell, spannjng the whole world with his outstretched
hands (302), he can also rise again 'in the Besh, as he was before, and will
show on hands and feet the four marks which have been branded on his
members, east and west, south and Ilorth; for so many kingdoms of the
world will complete the godless, shameful act on our image' (3 I9ff.). In
short, the snffcring Christ as the Son of God who embraces the whole
world, the creator, redeemer alld judge of men, will make even the
Romall authorities tremble.
With Christ, the church too will come triumphantly out of persecution:
Rejoice, holy daughter of Sioo, who hast endured mudl (suffering) ; thy king himself
COlUe~ 0 1\a gentle Eolt, to take away the yoke. the yoke of sb very so hard to bear. from
our necks. and to free us from ill~pious ordin:mces and powerfu l fetters. Recognize him
as thy God, the Sou of God. Praise him, cherish him in thy heart, love him with all thy
sou.! and bear his name. Lay aside the former (gods) and wash thyself with his blood; for
he will be reconciled not with dlY SOllgs, nor through entreacies, nor does he heed the
transitory sacrifice, unchanging as he is. But if a pz:udent mouth lets the song of praise
soum! forthj[ recognizes who Ite is aJld chell wilt thou see the Creator (324-36).

Book VITI again sets out to describe the Godhead and manhood. in
Christ, his double nature. 'For he is the Logos, who cOllllsellcd thy heart92
before all creation, the maker of man and the creator of life' (439). In a
way rare fat the 'Sibyl', the divine acts in the incamation are described
w ith great solemnity: 'Bnt in the last times he (the Logos) went down to
earth and appeared small and emcrged from the womb of the Virgin
Mary as a new light, and, coming from heaven, he assumcd human form'
(456ff.). The message of the angel is depicted as though by the Minne-
singers (459-69) aud the conception is described in a very profound way:
'The Word flew into her body, gradually became flesh and, gaining life
91 'The hands of the Father' are the Logos and Spirit as mediators of creation, in Irenaeus, Adv. Haer.
IV, 20, -I; IV, Preface 4; V. S, I; see A. Orbe, Greg 43. 1962, 4SI--<l.
92 The Logos and the heart of the Father was a favourite conjunction particularly about the turn of
the second and third centuries: Od. Sol. 41, 10: 'For his abundance has begotten me and the thought
of his heart.' Tertu\1., Adv. Prax. 7: proprie de vulva cordis ipsius. Hippo!., Comm. 011 Song of Songs 2,4;

in a mother's womb, gave itself human form93 and became a boy through
being born of a virgin; among men this is indeed a great miracle, but
nothing is a great miracle for God the Fathel,: and God the Son' (469-73).
Through God's ordinance and choice Bethlehem was 'named the home of
the Logos' (478). The poet has probably been stimulated in many ways by
the apocryphal writings and describes the birth (yovaf) of his God Jesus
Christ in a Hellenistic way. But such influences are completely subordin-
ate to the faith of the great church, which says, 'The Word was made
flesh and dwelt among us, in Bethlehem.' The Christian interpolator of
the otherwise Jewish book I (II), who probably writes about AD ISO,
produces a formula of the Logos christology which is not far distant from
the title Theotokos, Mother of God, which emerged about the middle of
the third century. He speaks of the 'young maiden' who 'will bear the
Logos of the Highest God' (323a). Of Book VI, with its Gnostic-inspired
hymn to Christ (1-28), which describes the incarnation, the work ~nd the
suffering of Christ, only the conclusion need be mentioned. This is a
glorification of the wood of the cross: '0 blessed tree, on which God was
hung I No longer will the earth contain thee. but thou wilt look upon the
house of Heaven. . . .' Here again there is a clear formulation of the
communicatio idiomatum such as became frequent about this time: '0
blessed tree, on which God was hung I' (26).94
So from these heterogeneous poems of the Sibylline Oracles we are
faced with authentic and inauthentic matter. Nevertheless, the Sibyllines
formed their characteristic. even powerful picture of Christ. The perse-
cuted Christians found considerable comfort in it. Book vm in particular
is a valuable book of devotion from the second celltury and a witness of a
living faith in Christ already deeply rooted in the people. The poets know
scripture and tradition well and have done well in adapting the pictorial
theology, the knowledge of the christological symbols of the ~ecoJ1d
ceutury.9S TIle figure of Christ has been created from a living grasp of the
times. Many verses already proclaim a better future for the beliefs for
which they fight. In Book XII (28-34), t~e poet or interpolator of the
third century already guesses at a different relationship between Chrivten-
doOl and Rome: 'But when the star (the star of the Magi) appears from
heaven at midday shining like the sun, then the Word of the Most High
will come secretly. bearing flesh like to the mortal; yet with him will grow
the might of Rome and the illustrious Latins.' Why then are the Chrhtians
93 For the Logos as creator of his own humanity see: Justin. Apol. 23. 32; Dialog., c. 105: Bpist.
Apost. Copt. VII. 10; Tertul!',Adv. Prax. 26; Clem. A!.. Bxc. ex Theod. 60; Strom. V. 3, 16. 5. Simi-
larly, but with typical Gnostic illustrations. cf. Hippo!'. Blench. VI, 35. 3-4; 35. 7. C Barbe.l Chris/os
Angelos, 241-7.
94 See the paraphrase in Andrew of Crete. PG 97. 1033. See n. 89 above.
95 The christological characteristics of the early period of the church are especially reflected in its
love for pictorial symbols. See my detailed description in Der Logos am KreUl:. MUnchen IS 56.33-66;
also the theological symbolism of the sign of the cross: ibid . 67-96.

suspect as enemies of state? This is the question of this 'Apologist', who

perhaps already envisages a Christian empire. 96
(c) Myth, legend and belief: the popular theology oj the mysteries oj the life oj
There was an extraordinary iuterest ill the lile ofJesus in the period of
the apocryphal writings. 97 This is no historical interest, like that of the
'Quest of the Historical Jesus' ill the nineteen th ce.l1 tury. Quite the oppo-
site. There is no trace whatsoever of historizing. Myth and legend and
faith ill all objective reality stand side by side. But all is suboJ;dinate to a
theological expression, albeit an expression in a poplliar fonn. Orthodoxy
and heresy alike declare their interest in thi form of elaborating the Life of
Jesus. Today we too have discovered that mythical forms of expression
can have their own theological COiltcnt. 98 Even orthodo:A), need not
therefore renounce mythical and legendary statements. It can express a
great deal by means of them. Bnt the bowlds within which myth, leg nd
and saga may be accepted must be drawu very carefuUy and in accordance
with the inner meaning of Christi all reality. elllythologization may not
be extended to the point at which it does away with any of the substance
of Christianity. If it does this, it has a deadly effect. Such would be the
case if the appearing of God in onr wor.ld, the incursion of the trans-
cendent into our realm and the presence of the eternal in our time were
on a priori growlds interpreted as myth, without objective reality. It is
well known that nnltmallll makes the primitive Christian proclamation
so dependent Up all the old two-storied view of the universe (,above' and
'below') that any objective saving presence of God in ou.r history and any
objective reality of salvation is cbssolved along with the modem dissolu-
tion of this view of the universe.
Mythology is the use of imagery to express the other worldly in terms of this world
and the divine in terms of human life, the other side in terms of this side. For instance,
divine transcendence is expressed as spatial distance. It is a mode of expression which
makes it easy to lUldcrstand the culcus as an action in which material means are used to
oonvey immaterial powcr. 99
Were this the case, then the whole of the Christ-event as understood by
the Bible and the early church would be 'myth', and would only have
validity for us in so far as it could be reinterpreted as an existential self-
wlderstanding before God in Christ. For Christ is the presel1ce of God ill
our wo.rld and in our history. Now Bultm:ann evidently presupposes a
96 Cf. A. M. Kurfess. ZRelGG 7. 1955.270--2.6 Esdras is a similar book of devotion for the period
of early Christian pcrsecutior~ (5ccond-third century). but has nothing relennt for cbriscology.
97 Cf. W. Dauer, DDS LebeN jesfI ;111 Zc;lal,CT tier IlCllleSI/I",m/lid,611 4pokrypl1clI. TUbjngcn T909.
98 Cf. W. S[5h.lin, Symbololl. VOIII gldcimisluiflclI DwkclI. Stuttgart 1958. 40--53 (mythological
thought in Hoi y Scdpture).
99 n. DultJll3Un ir\ Kerygma awl Myth. London 1953. 10; n. 2. Cf. Kcrygmll I/"d lIifylhos II, 180, n. 2.

Gnostic-mythical concept of incarnation and not the spiritual, refined

understanding which became more and more clear in the course of the
discussion of cl1ristoJogical dogma. The Gnostic redeemer-figure is a
m)'thical figure in so L'tr as a pre-existcn t being traV'erses the spheres in a
real, physical way. is present in tbe lower world aud again va rushes from
it after fulfilling his task (see (d) below).
The incarnation as understood by Christians pl'esuI p ses no physical
jOLu:neyillgs of the pre-existent one, but the acceptance of a human exist-
ence in the world by God's Word of power. It presupposes no two-
storied view of the universe, but simply the two entities God and the
world. God acts IlO differeutly in the 111carnation from the way ill which
he acted at creatioll. He is concemed with his worlel ashe always has been.
But this act of creation results in a new relationship between God and the
world. From the creation God appropriates for his eterna l Logos a human
existence in the world, through a buman birth, but without the necessary
cOIlSequence of a physical dc'ccl1t of the Logos q1l(/ Logos. Bultm31m
rightly demands that the transcendence of God be not violated. But it was
precisely the significance of the discllssions over the incarnation with
Arianism, Apollinarianism alld Monophysitism that they made it c]e.u
how a true unity of God and man could be achieved without the violation
of this divine transcendence and without the physical jou neying of the
pre-existent one into this world. In the face of clocet.ism and Gnosticism
the cilUrch insisted on a real presence of the incarnate God in tbe world and
thus 011 311 objective history of the acts of God which cannot be allowed
to dissolve into merely an existential self-understanding. The church's
concept of incamation is the personal, objective unity of God and man in
Christ and is here already demythologized when compared with the
Gnostic conception of the descent of a redeemer. True, even Scripture
speaks in a way of the descent and ascent of the redeemer (John 3. 13;
6. 4I; Eph. 4. 9). It was, however, the aim of the orthodox christology to
interpret these statements in an ungnostic way.
Now the literature of the ead y Christian period shows us that a mythical
lmderstanding of the incarnation gained a footing in the same way as the
legends which adorned and expanded the gospel narratives about Jesus of
Nazareth. It will be our task to extract the genuine nucleus -from early
Christian myth and apocryphal legends. We are theref01'e not concerned
to compile all the individual details whi.cll the apocryphal age added to
the life ofJesus.loo Our interest is in the theolog.icaL expression.
The conceptioll find birth ofJesus from Mary are the ftrst mysteries of the
life of Jesus.IOI According to the scriptural understanding. the virgin

100 This is done in W. Bauer, Das Lebell Jcsu im Zeitalter der neutestamellt/ic/,en Apokryp/Je/I, TUbingen
1909; he summarizes the most important points in E. Hennecke, Ntl. Apokryphetl 1924, 7Sff.
101 Cf. W. Bauer, Das Lebm Jesu, 29-87.

conception means that God appoints the beginning of the messianic life of
Jesus and prepares the salvation of men in Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of the
Most Highest (Luke 1. 26--38). The narrative is theocentric and christo-
centric and looks towards a Messiah and a theology of salvation. In the
Protevangelium of James emphasis is on the virginity of Mary.! 02 The
annunciation itself falls into two scenes: Mary goes to the well. There she
hears a voice, 'Hail, thou that art highly favoured (the Lord is with thee,
blessed art thou) among women' (Luke I. 28 and 42). It is only in the
house, to which Mary has rushed trembling to pray, that the angel ap-
pears in visible form. His message is already framed in more theological
terms than that in Luke, i:VVA1)IlIJ'TJ EK A6yov cWrov (II. 2). The Logos is
the power which effects the conception. Mary's question is formulated in
such a way that the real aim of the I rotevangeJium emerges clearly, a
defence of the virginity of Mary: 'Shall I conceive of the Lord, the liv~g
God (and bear) as every woman bears (ibid.)?' To put this virginity above
aU suspicion, great emphasis is placed on the physical separation ofJoseph
and Maq. When on Joseph's return Joseph makes the discovery described
in Matt. I. I8ff., manifest evidence of the innocence of the two must be
produced. Both are given a cup with the 'water of the conviction of the
Lord' (Num. 5. II-31), and the decision from heaven is awaited (16. I;
Ps.-Matt. XII). Ps.-James sends both into the hills, Ps.-Matt. has them
compass the altar seven times. Finally their innocence is confirmed in the
sight of all the people.! OJ
The birth ofJesus, like his conceptiOl), is also described as a miraculous
event. According to the AscellSion of Isaiah (II. 7-14), the Acts of Peter
(24), II Enoch (au imitation of the Ascension of [saiah) and-the Odes of
Solomon, stress is laid on the inviolateness of Mary, and the painlessness of
the birth, which needs nO hwnan assistance. The Protevangclium ofJames
describes all this vividly. Att tnpts are made to demonstrate the greatness
of the.; new":bom child by a whole series of miraculous events. Tertullian
perccived in this a danger of docetism and therefore gave a very matter-
of-fact and realistic picture of the birth of JCSUS.I0~
We are led back to the messianic theology through the depicting of the
wonderful star, which shines either at the birth ofJesus or at the coming of
dIe Magi. Matt. 2. 2 and Num_ 24. 17 (a star shall come forth out of
Jacob) are the basis of this messianic feature .I os Justin goes on to link these
102 Protev. lacobi, hereafter New Test. Apoc. I, 370-4 (Introduction), 3741 (text). E. de Strycker,
S.]., LaJorme la plus al/cieul/e du Pro/ival/gile dejacques (Subsidia hagiogr. 33), Bruxelles 1961, 147-67,
101 cr. the description ofthennnunciarion inEpi.!. Apost. (Coptic) VII, 6f (TV 43. sIf.); see New
Test. Apoe. 1. 198--9. The archangel Gabriel is tbe visible Jl1:tnifesration of the Logos. who speaks to
M1.tY. The Logos himself forms his own body. In the Gnostic Pis/is Sop/tin (eh. 8). in a similar way
brut himself nppems ill the form of the angel and 'thrusts' the divine power into M.ary. For the
theological qLlcstion of the concepnon o[ Christ by the Logos sec n. 93 above.
10' TertuUiln, Adv. Marcio/!. 4. 2!; Dn (IIrlle CI". 23.
105 Ign., Eph. 19.2-3; Protev. lacobi 21, 2; Orac. Sibyll. XII, 30-3; Dani610u I, 239-47.

two passages with Zech. 6. 12 {LXX: allalole, oriens is his name) or even
with Isa. II. I. J06 For Origen, the star which appeared at the birth and was
prophesied by Balaam becomes the symbol of deity.lo7 Recourse was at
one time made to H.ellenistic astrology t explain the ring of stars in
[gnatius (Eph. r9. 2), 108 but perhaps there are more Jewish ideas in it than
appear at fust sight. Perhaps, in fact, Gen. 37. 9. the dream ofJoseph ('the
SUll and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down before me'), a
passage which has bcen given a christological intcrpretati n by Hippoly-
tu.s, had some effect here. I 09 Joseph saw Christ beforehand. According to
Ju.stin and Origcn the Magi were subjects of evil powers. They served
them by their magic and astrological practices. lIo But now Jesus in the
guiding of the Magi by the star appears as the conqueror of the evil
powers even before his birth.
Lllke 2 . 41-52 seemed to provide the justification for shaping stories of
Jesus' childhood. Following Gnostic patteI:ns, the Childhood Gospel of
Thomas crcates the picture of tbe precocious boy Jesus with his downright
impertinent and dangerous use of his omlli potence. 11l Jesus as a moral figure
is abandoned in favour of demonstratin.g this omnipotence. 'The acts of
the ap cryphal Jesus are destructive and, indeed, morally reprehensible.
He places his power at the service of his greed for revenge and his im-
piousness, and if he feels slighted, spares neither health (ch. 3; 5. 2) nor
life (ch. 4).'1l2 The Gnostics manifestly strive to reveal Jeslls quite simply
as a Gnostic. He 'alone knew the unknown' (Iren., Adv. Raer. I, 20, I).
Of course, the majority of these Gnostics, like the Valentinians and Cerin-
thus, the Gnostics of Irenaeus (1, 30, 13 and 14), showed no interest in the
childhood ofJesus. Christ as a man is superior to any human limitations.
Others, like the heretic Justin and the Pistis Sophia (ch. 6r). abundantly
elaborated the childhood of Jesus with manifestations of his deity. Be-
cause for the adoptionists Jesus' acceptance as Son only took place at his
baptism, they were, of course, unable to make use of his childhood. It is
passed over, as the Gospel of the Ebionites shows.H)
The baptism ofJesus by Johu is eminently significant for the interprcta-
tion of the mission, life and person ofJesus. The Jewish Christians as such
and not merely the Ebionites seem to have been particularly interested in
it. The events at the baptism ar.e interpreted with the aid of mythological
ideas. The descent ofJesus into the water is a descensus into the realm of
106 Justin, Dial. 106, 4; 126, I; Apol. )2, 12-13.
107 Origen, HOIII. ill NUIII. 18,4.
101 So H. Schlier, Religiollsgeschiclltliche Ulltersuchullgell zu dell 19l1atiusbriifell, Giessen 1929, 14-15.
109 Hippolyt., Belled. Is. et lac., PO 27, 3; after DanieJou I, 220.
110 Cf. I Enoch 8. 3; evil angels teach men magic arts: Hom. Ps.-Clem. VIII, 12-24; IX, 13-19.
m New Test. Apoc. I, 388-40r.
112W. Bauer, LebclIJesu, 91.
I1JOn Theodot. cf. Hippolyt., Elellchus VI, 35; for the view of the great church see Justin, Apol. I,
35; Dial. 88.

death and of the dragon. who is thereby destroyed. Thus the baptism of
Jesus is connected with the descent into helL. It achieves tho purification of
the waters. which are ruled over by deinons, and thus frees the baptized
from their domination. At the same time, baptism by water is afisociatcd
with baptism by fire (c Matt. 3. II). It has a messianic-eschatological
significance. According to Justin, the Jordan is on fire as Jesus ascends from
it. 1I4 Accordinf, to the Sibylline Oracles this occurrence means that Jesus
escapes this .fire of wrath for us and in the dove sees the God of grace
coming to meet him. According to the Excerl'ta ex Tfteodoto (76. I) there is
a threefold soteriological parallel: the mystery of the Magi's star frees us
from fate. the baptism from the fire of judgement and the passion of
Jesus iom suffering) L~ In addition, the baptism becomes the manifestation
of Jesus, an interpretation which is permitted by the bihlical scene and
which is now developed in greater d.etail. As weH as the apl e.trance of the
dove and the sOlmd oEche voice, a light shines out. The baptism. ofJesus is
made into a scene parallel to the traus..6.gmation. U6
Against the bright background of the baptismal theophany, the en-
counter of the Messiah with Satan, depicted. by the gospels in the report
of the temptation (Matt. 4. I-IT par.) , appears all the more gloomy.
According to Matthew the tempter only appears after Christ has already
fasted and prayed for forty days. Mark and Luke do not exclude the
possibility that Satan already approaclled Jesus dming this period (Luke
4. 2 ; Mark I. 13). The Pseudo-Clementine hOlll.ilies make the whole event
a forty-day testing: 'Our Lord and Prophet, who sent llS out, told us that
the Evil One disputed (5!ai\E)(Oels) with him for forty days.'117 Origen
too assumes a forty-day temptation. lIB The Gospel of the Hebrews com-
pletely mythologizes the event: 'Even so did my mother, the Holy Spirit,
take me by one of my hairs and carry me away on to dle great mountain
Tabor.'1J9 According to the Excerpfa ex Theodoto (85). the wild beasts of
Mark I. 13 are made Satan's entourage. In lrenaeus, Clement of Alex-
andcia. Origen and Ambrose, Satan is kept in ignorance of the true nature
of Christ, in fact, through ambiguous answers given by Jesus himse1
114 Justin, Dial, 88. 3. Even two MSS orthe Old Latin Version know ofd),f! ~[uning ofa great light
over the water. Cf. Btu:k-LiclZmann-Cro$S, Synopsis ~r tile First Tlirue Co.'pel~, 13; also the Gospel
of the Ebionites (4) and clle Si byllines (V!, 6; VII, 84). See W. Dauer, LeVell J".iII, 132-9.
115 Cf. Justin, Dinl. HK, 2, +; DaniClou I, u S.
116Danic[ou I, 231 , finds thc CQnncctiOfJ, between light and bJptism, wh.ieh :uso influences the
lIaming of the lIS 'enlightened' (Heb. 6. 4; 10. 32), IcmiJll>ccnt of Ihe Jcwish-Christian
liuk.illg of the baptj~nl of Chris! nnd the fcast of Tabernncles (ef. Jolm 7. 1-10, 21); J. Danieloll, 'Les
Quaere-Temps dc septcmbrc et Ja Fete des Tnbetnnclcs', MaiJoH Dietl 46, 1956, 125-)0. The way in
which the initiation rite into Gnostic cirelC5 was fasbioned ill accordaJlce with tbis is showll. by F. J.
DCllgcr, 'Die Sphntgi.s als reJigi6sc Bran.dmarkung im Einwcillll11g5l1kt der gnostichcll I{arpo-
kr:ltianer', Aillike r/lld ClJrislelllllllJ I, 1929, 73-'8.
1J7 From the Clementine homilies XI, 35; XIX, 2; GCS 42, 171, 253.
118 Origen, Hom. XXIX in Luc.: Lommatzsch 5, 194f.; see M. Steiner, La Tentation de Je.,us dam
"inlerpn!lalion palrislique de saitll Justin Origelle, Paris 1962.
119 New Test. Apoc. I, 164. Mount Tabor was also taken as the mountain of the temptation. Cf. W.
Bauer, Leben Jesu, 146.

Because Satan had no right to discover the true being of Christ. such
conduct could imply no imperfection in Christ, as the Acts of Thomas
expressly emphasize: 'And the despot asked who and whence he was, but
he did not declare the truth, for he (Satan) is a stranger to the truth' (ch.
According to the biblical accounts of the tral'lSfiguration (Matt. 17. 1-8
par.) the scene is a messianic attestation ofJesus by God. the law (Moses)
and the prophets (Elijah) in the presence of the future witnesses of the Word
(,Hear ye him', Matt. 17. 5). Early Christian, Gnostic or Gnostic-inspired
writings make speculations from it concerning the being of Jesus. The
Acts ofJohn are purely docetic ill expression (ch. 90). The Acts of Thomas,
worked over by the great church but not fully free of Gnosticism, which
in the original text go back to the beginning of the third century, say that
the form of Jesus WaS more than the disciples could apprehend. They
looked merefy at the form of lowliness, in faith they knew his majesty,
but on the mountain could not perceive his 'heavenly type' with their
eyes (ch. 143; AAA II. 2, p. 250). Ps.-Thomas assumes that on the moun-
tain the essential Godhead of Christ was displayed. In the Acts of Peter,
too, the so-called 'Actus Petri cum Simone', Christ has two forms ({r.gura),
one in which the disciples can see him, each according to his capabIlities,
another in which they are wlable to look upon him. 'Our Lord wished to
let me see his majesty on the holy mOUlltain. but when with the SallS of
Zebedee I saw the brightness of his light, I fell down as dead and closed
my eyes and hea d his voice in a way which I cannot describe.'120
The texts descdbing the transfiguration show that in early Christianity
the question of the 'form' of Christ was put ill an unhistorical way. No
one thought perhaps to ~esort ~~ the sourc~ and a~cOl.mts of the ~ppearan~e
ofJesus; they made thClr deCISions on tlm from Ideal standpomts: Chnst
wretched and tlnsighdy-Clll'ist shining and beautiful. Origen is the
witness of a tradition which knew of a Christ in many forms, and even
found this credible:
Now this llluch was handed down to us about him: meIe were not just two ways in
wh.ich h.e appeared (dl/aeIorl/lae) (tite one in which all saw him and the other after which
he was transftgUJ:ed on the mountain before his disciples. so that 'his cOWltenance shone
like the SUll'); rather he appeared to men in so far as they deserved to see rum (sed etiam
cuiql/e apparebat secrmdlllil quod!rterat digI'lIlS). (as the Jews in the wilderness found that tile
manna suited every taste) ... For myself. L flUd no difficulty in believing the tradition
(traditio), whether r interpret it ofJesus in the body, showing himself to nlen in different
ways. or whethc~ I understand. it of the nature of the Logos. which is Il0t revealed to
everyone in the same way.121
The gospels make the scene on Mount Tabor an isolated event, which
has no effect on the earthliness of the appearance of Jesus. The mode of
120 Cf. W. Bauer, LebenJesu. 153; 2 Pet.1. 16b-18.
121 Origen, In Matt. comment. ser. 100; GCS XI. 2, :u8-9.

existence in lowliness is a law which stands over the life ofJesus right up
until his death (Luke 24. 26, 46; I Pet. I. II), even though at the same
time there are hints at the resurrection and his glorification. Where
Gnostic and docetic tendencies are in play, the firm framework of the
historical life of Jesus is loosened. Even in his earthly life, the figure of
Jesus no longer stands firmly upon the earth. Thus in the early Christian
period we find visions of Christ in numerOUS forms.122 According to
Origen it is naturally quite understandable that from a spiritual point of
view Christ is a 'plu ality' . It is clear to him from the transfiguration and
from the fact that ollly three disciples co uld witness it 'that with regard to
the actual seeing he did not show himself in the same way to all who saw
him but showed them only what they could comprehend'.m There was a
difference in the eyes with which Jesus could be perceived 'and this was a
difference not just of the spirit, but also, as I believe, of the body' .1 24
The difference in the way in which Christ was seen lay not merely
subjectively on the side of men, in their mind and in their perceptual
abilities of body and soul, but also objectively, in an actual variation in
the bodily appearance of Jesus. For Origen, the proof of this lies in the
necessity of the kiss of Judas. The enemies of Jesus had to have a sign
'because of the way in which Jesus transformed himself' (propter tralts-
formationes eius). Through his lengthy association with Jesus, Judas had
acquired such a knowledge that he knew the forms in whichJesus used to
appear to his disciples (ut intelligeret transjol'fIIaliollcs eills, secrmdum qtla/'Il
suis apparere solebat).125 This picture of Christ is far different from that of
the synoptists. The historical Jesus appears to each 'in the form . . . which
was appropriate to his ability and his state of salvation' .126 The material
body is by nature changeable, and the Logos can play what he will on his
instrument. Now the 'traditiones' to which Origen refers are to be sought
among the Gnostic groups. This is clear from the Acts of John. At the
calling of the sons of Zebedee by Jesus the following conversation between
James and John develops:
James: 'What would this child have that is upon the sea shore and called us?' John
replies: 'What child?' And James says again: 'That which beckoneth to us.' John answers:
'Because of our long watch we have kCllt at sea, thou seest not aright, my brother James;
but seest thou not the ma n tlL1t still1deth there, comely and fair and of a cheerful counte-
nance?' But James is unable to see him. Hardly have they reached land when another
figure appears to them. John sees a bald-headed man with a thick, flowing beard, but
James a 'youth whose beard was newly come'. The beloved disciple moreover now sees

122 C Past. Herm., Silll. IX, 2ff.; Martyrilllll Pcrpetllae et Felidtalis IV; the Acts of Thomas describe
the (exalted) Christ as lTOAUI10P<P0S: 48 and 153: AAA II, 2, 164,262. Photius censures the abstruse
visions of Christ in the Acts of the Apostles by Lucius Charinus: Bibliotheca cod. 114: PG 103, 389B.
123 Origen, C. Celsum II, 64: GCS I, 18Sf.
124 Ibid.: GCS I, 186 16f
125 Origen, In Matt. comment. ser. 100: GCS XI, 2, 219.
126 Origen, C. Celsum VI, 77: GCS II, 146.
'a small man and uncomely, and then again as one reaching unto heaven'. When he
touches Jesus his body is sometimes immaterial and unreal, then again 'slnooth and
tender, and sometimes hard like unto stones'. Finally, the form ofJesus is quite unearthly.
hovering free over the earth: 'And oftentimes when r walked with him, I desired to see
the print of his foor, whether it appeared on the earth (for r saw him as it were lifting
himself up from the earth). And 1 never saw it.'127
Relics of such 'traditions' also occur in the 'acts' of other apostles .
.Perhaps the Hellenistic-Egyptian Horus-speculations have some illfiuence
upon tlus idea ofche varying form ofJesus. We are on the borders ofche
Christian tradition and ill the sphere of an acute 'Hellenizing' of the
figure of Christ.
According to I Cor I. 24 the 'son of God' who s~ifJcred and finally ended
on the cross was to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolish-
ness. Celsus and Julian the Apostate were not the only mockers at the
crucified God. Can we blame those who were attacked in this way if they
sought to retouch the imag~ of the cross, to obviate the scal1dalHm crucis?
Christ sweating blood for fear and having to be strengthened by an angel
(Luke 22.43) was already found particularly objecti0uable and a number
of biblical manuscripts in fact omit this 'shameful' event. Jesus might not
be pOltrayed otherwise than in Matthew and Mark where, however bitter
the struggle, he gains the victory through his own strength. How could
Jesus still be above the angels if one of them had to give him aid? If the
angel was to be left in as he was, then he would have to be given another
significance. An old scholioll thus alters the 'strengthen' into 'declare that
he was strong'. Moreover, the angel's help had explicitly to be explained
as llImecessary in a solcD;l1J doxology, 'for he did n.ot need the might of the
angel who is adored and glorified by all supernatural powers with fear and
trembl.il1g'.128 It was also felt permissible to sacrifice some of the verses in
the Lucan account or at least to alter their meaning. Origen reports that
the words 'my soul is troubled . . .' were interpreted by many as of the
apostles. For the Lord had named them his 'heart' .1 29 He himself tries to
find a way out by referring to the phrasing 'he began' to tremble (nihil
amplius tristitiae e~ pat'oris patiens, /; prjncip~tI1'l ta/1tum).lJO Moreover.
Christ, he says, suffered ill his l1uman nature and not in his divine power.
If eV"eb the iniN(I passiollis were weakened in tIllS way, then the biblical
picture of the mlcified one was threatened all the more. m The writer of the
Gospel of Peter is one of the typical exponents of a counterfeit theology
of the cross which need not, however, be properly Gnostic. True, he has a
m Act~ of]ohn 88-9.1; AAA n, I, pp. 194-7. ET after M. R.James, Tile Apocryphal New Testament.
Oxford I95J . 25,- 3. cr. the polemic against such ideas in Epist. Apost. II (22).
119 W. Bauer, Das Lcum J~SII, 17I.
129 Origen, De princ. II, 8, 5: GCS V, 163.
IlU Origen , Commellt. ill Mall. ser. 90: GCS XI, 2, 206 29 - 30.
1lI The numerous smaller deviations from the interpretation of the passion given by the canonical
gospels are listed in W. Bauer, Das Lebell}esu, 173-243. We indicate here only what is important for a
christoJogicnl understanding.

seriolls concern. As far a,s we can conclude from the remains of the work,
it is the writer's ptupose to defend the lordship (or the Godhead) of the
suffering Chl:ist against pagans and Jews and to awaken the cOllviction that
despite the death 011 the cross our redemption is a divine work. But this
seems possible to him only ifhe deletes and strikes out everything which
in his view and in that ofhi~ opponents is a sign of weakness and excessive
hnmatuty. One revealing feature is that he veils his Christ in the majesty
of sorrowfu1 silence. lAnd they brought two malefactors atld cruciled the
Lord ill the midst between them. But he held his peace, as if he felt 110
pain' (v. 10). Ali the words of Jesus are, in '\ct, omitted except for the
final crt. of dereliction, and this is altered: 'And the Lord called out and
cried, , My power, 0 power, thou hast forsaken me I" And having said
this he was taken IIp' (&VeAl]<p6T), v. 19; New Test. Apoc. 1,184). According
to the canonical gospels (Matt. 27. 46; Mark 15.34) the cry of dereliction
sounded like the cry of a helpless 111an against God, who now does not
testify to Ius Messiah as on Mount Tabor, but abandons him to his enemies
and to death. This appeal to God is now replaced by 'my power', the
significance of which of COllrse remains obscure (natural power of life?
the power to work miracles? the divinity of Christ, which according to
quite widespread ideas separated from cile body at death?).1 32 Here the
superiority of Christ to suffering-while not volatilized in a Gnostic or
docetic way-is stressed at the expense of the seriousness of the passion and
death and its significance for our salvation. The gospel picture of the
crucified SOil of God (Mark 15. 39) and the suffering Messiah an ct redeemer
has not become richer and deeper, but more feeble and superficial. There
is a better balance elsewhere in the second century from Ign.atius of
Antioch to Melito of Sa (dis, leaving aside, of course, all forms ofGllosti-
cism and docetism, which still lack proper expression. There is still nO
Gnosticism in the Gospel of Peter, but it already presages it. Even the
Epistula Apostolorum (Copt. 24. 12) is better at preserving a proper mean
than the apocryphon we have been discussing. The Testaments of the
Twelve Patriarchs Ignatial1language-of the 'sulfering
of the Most Highest' (IT, 4). Thus they dare to stress both poles of the
passion and of the incarnation in the interpretatioll of the second century:
'For God a sumes a body and eats wjth men and he redeems them'
(IT, 6, 7). The Sibylline Orades accOlUlt the silence of Christ in suffering
one of the features of his lowliness and concealment, not of his revelation:
'And when smitten upon his back he will keep silent, that none may see
who and whose Son he is, whence he came to speak to the dead'
(VIII, 292f.).133
132 A. Grillmeier, 'Der Gottessohn im Totenreich', ZkTh 71, 1949, I-53, 184-203.
m We here pass over the staurology, the interpretation of the cross as the symbol of redemption
and also of the doctrine of two natures. Here there was a special field for Gnostic speculations on the

If the early Christian writers omit to give a deeper interpretation of the

death of Christ and the circumstances of it, ther. largel y fail into the same
error in explaining the descetlt oj Christ irlto he! . Now this is very closely
connected with the resurrection and the ascension particularly in Jewish
Christianity.L34 We will begin there. The Old Testament and Judaism
contributed to the concrete Christian picture of the descent of Christ into
hell by their idea of the underworld and by traces of a general doctrine ofa
descent.13S This religio-historical idea of the descent of a 'God' could not,
however, have any influence because Yahweh, although Lord of the
wlderwodd, remained absolutely transcendent in relation to it. On the
other hand, the idea of the resurrection of the flesh was particularly sig-
nificant for the concept of the descent into hell. For now the eschatolo-
gical, messianic hope was extended to the world of the dead. The Jewish
Christians needed only to put the saving death of the Messiah into this
framework, for which the Enoch literature is especially remarkable, to
produce the idea of the descent into hell.
I Peter 3. 18:-20; 4. 6 provides a typical Jewish-Chr:istian idea of this
occurrence,136 We hear of a passing of Chrjst (1TOpEV6els). This passing
need not be death as such, but it can presuppose death and also include the
resurrection and the ascension. The one who descends to death and to
Sheol (or who is already raised and now goes up to heaven) goes to a
place where the spiritual powers or also the souls of men are lodged. This
p lace can be either below (Sheol) or above. Peter describes what happens
there with the word fK~pv~ev. This is to be tmderstood as referring to a
proclamation or a demonstration made by Christ before these powers or
souls, a proclamation of the lordship of God which has now been extended
over all powers and a uthorities by virtue of the death on the cross. In the
light of the Enoch traditions we can describe thjs proclamation as a preach-
ing in Hades. It is directed to the spir.its (souls) of the time of the flood as
types of paganism and as pattems of the Christian corrfess~on. Christ
fuLfiUed it 'ill the spirit', i.e. as a messianic work. If we take this journey to
hell as a confrontation of the risen and ascending one with the spiritual
powers which inJlabit the spheres, it is also easy to lU1.derstand a Jewish-
Christian interpretation of the joumey to hell which sees Christ descend
'in the body',l37
The teaching on the descent in the early Christian period remains in this
soteriological framework delineated by I Peter, but refers the joumey to
cross. Cf. Danielou I, 265-92, and further literature in A. Grillmeier, Der Logos am Kreuz, MUnchen
1956, 67-96.
Il4 On the descellsus sec A. GriJl rneicr, art. 'Hollenabstieg', LThK V, 1960, 450-55, with biblio-
grnphy; J-f. J. SdlUlz, 'Die "H01l<:nf.1Iut" als "Anastasis" " ZkTh 81, 1959. 1-<i6.
IlSCe. ba. 4.9-15; Exod. 32. 17-]2; Isa. 45. 2 with Ps. 107. 16; 2 Sam. 22. 5ff.; Deut. 32. 39
1)6 So E. Schweizer, TZ 8, T952, 1H.
137 It occurs only in a few texts, such as Ephraem, Sermo de Domillo 1I0stro, and in the Arabian parallels
of the Mystagogia of the Testamentum Domini, Diaascalia arabica, ed. F. X. Funk.

hell simply to the underworld. The individual themes of the descent are
richly elaborated in three ways: Christ is at work ill the Wlderwodd: (1)
in preaching salvation (preaching theme) ,138 the oldest theme known to us;
(2) in administering baptism to the righteous (of the old covenant) (bap-
tism theme) ;139 and (3) ill the complete subjugati I f hell and the ruler
of the underworld (battle theme} .140 [n the first two themes it becomes
clear that salvation is held attainable only through faith and the sacrament
of baptism. Tile righteous of the old covenant are not to be excluded from
the salvation of Christ. Hence the saving message is preached in Sheol
and baptism is administered. [n this way the doctrine of the descent of
Christ becomes an expression of the universality of the mission of Christ
which also reaches back right to the beginning oftbe htlman race. Here we
have a theology of history, however primitively it may be expressed.
One principal element of the work of Christ is his victory over the
powers of the uuderworld who arc depicted in three figures, Hades,
Death and Satan. Here there was an opportunity for richly deve! ped
myth aud dramatization, which perhaps reaches its climax in the Gospel of
Nicodemus.1 41 In Hippolytus' Qllaphora, which dates from about 218, we
have an example of the incorporation of this soteriological doctrine of the
descent into the liturgy. Nothing was more natural than an association of
the eucharist (as the commemoration of the death of the Lord and the
redemption achieved by him) with the recollection of the descent to the
We render thanks unto thee, 0 God,
through thy beloved child Jesus dlrist ...
who is thy word inseparable .. .
who when he was betrayed to voluntary suffering
that he might ahoLsh death
and rend the bonds of the devil
and tread down hell
and enlighten the righteous.
and establish the ordinance
and demonstrate the resurrection,
taking bread and giving thanks to thee. said ...142
With the progress of reflection on the being ofJesus Christ, the doctrine
of the descent too was given a more narrowly christological orientation.
It was asked what relation there was between the Godhead, the soul and
the body of Christ at his death. The peculiarity of this phase of the doctrine
138 As well as 1 Pet. 3.19 also Past. Herm., Sim. IX, 16, 5-7; Gospel of Peter 41; Sibylline Oracles
VIII, 310-12; Bpist. Apost. 27 (38); Iren., Adv. Hacr. IV, 27, 2; Hippo!., Belled. Moys. VII, VEKPWV
E~aYYEAL"Tits; Clem. A!., Strom. II, 9, 44,1-2; VI, 6, 445-52; Origen, COlllr. Cels. II, 43; III Mall.
serm. 132.
LJ' Past. Hcrm., Silli. IX, 16, 3, 5; Bpl$l. Apost. (Eth.) 27 (38). Od. Sal. 4-2, 20.
1,00d. Sol. 17, 9; 42, II; Test. Dan 5, 11; Acts ofThomn$ 143: 32; 10. Melito of Sardis, Hom.
Pasc/, . 68, 102. Cf. A. Gcillmcicr, 'Dcr Gottc,sohn im Totenreich', ZkT/J 71, 1949, 1-23.
1<' Bllm/g. N/eoriclII/ II. 4 (XX), 3, ed. Tischcl\dotf r876, 327.
14~ G. Dix, Tile Aposlolic Tr/ldl/loll oj 51 }lillPolyllls, London "1937,7

of the descent lay in the acceptance of the so-called descent of the Logos'.
But this development belongs to the late third and early fourth century.
So in the view of the church in the early period, the sombre picture of
Hades belongs closely with the brigh t images of the exaltation christol-
ogy', which comprises the resurrection, the ascension and the session at
the right hand of the Father. From the point of view of 1 Pet. 3. 19-20,
the action of Christ, which is elsewhere described as a desce/1sUS ad inJeros, is
probably already taken up into his ascent. In any case, as a victory over
Hades, Death and Satan, the descensus has an Easter character. But the
connection between descensus and doxa is not always so close. The later
phase of the descensHs doctrine, which regards Christ as being in a state of
the separation of (Godhead,) soul and body, and reflects on this, lets the
thought of Easter sink into the background. It is the descetlsus in triduo
The exaltation christology has as its proper content the resurrection,
ascensiOll and session at the right hand of God. These Christ-events were
originally closely connected. In the writings of Paul, resurrection and
ascension are certainly a unity. The appearances of the risen one at the
same time testify to his exaltation,143 This unity also remains in a number
of early Christian writings. The ascension expresses the theological con-
tent of the resurrection, at least as far as the event of the resurrection con-
cerns Christ. The act of the raising of Christ has, of course, a special sig-
nificance as a mighty act of the Father worked in Christ. The doxa Christi
certainly only becomes fully visible in the ascension. The 'session at the
right hand of the Father' is at first the consummation of the Easter glory.
There is still a clear unity in the Gospel of Peter. Thus the angel at the
tomb says to the women: 'Wherefore are ye come? Whom seek ye? Not
him that was crucified? He is risen and gone ... he is not here. For he is
risen and is gone thither whence he was sent.'144 Other early Christian
writings, however, make a clearer distinction between resurrection and
ascension, in a temporal respect too. The starting point is most likely the
'forty days' of the Acts of the Apostles,145 Just as in the post-canonical
period the accounts of the appearances of the risen one were expanded
and the number of the witnesses of the resurrection was increased, so too
the time of the stay of the risen one on earth was lengthened. The Ascension
of Isaiah (9. 16), for example, puts it at 545 days. It is the Gnostics, how-
ever, who have the greatest interest in such lengthening of the time. They
transfer to this period the impartation of their secret doctrines, which they
cannot put in the mouth of the historical Jesus of the canonical gospels.
They go up to twelve years, so as to substantiate the fullness of the
143 Cf. Rom. I. 4; 8. 34; Phil. 2. 9-1I; I Thess. I. 10; I Cor. IS. 4ff.; also Matt. 28.18.
144 Evallg. Pet. 56; New Test. Apoc. 1,187.
145 On the biblical relationship between resurrection and ascension see 'Himmelfahrt'. ;LThK V.

revelations which they have been vouchsafed. The twelfth year brings the
last and highest mysteries. As is well known, Clement of Alexandria and
Origen have also been i nfluenced by such views of the existence of a secret
tradition.1 46 But revelations of this kind are to be found most abundantly
in the Coptic-Gnostic writings, the Pis/is Sophia, the books of Jeu, the
Gospel of Mary and the Sophia Jcsu Christi. In these writings the biblical
picture of Christ is fundamentally perverted. The risen one appears as a
'great magician, to whom all spirits and all worlds are subservient'.1 47
Here myth has prevailed. The Christ event is made subordinate to cos-
mological preconceptions and is overlaid with Hellenistic ideas.
(d) Solvere Christum (1 John 4. 3): on the christo logical heresies of the second
Christianity, with its message of Christ, the Son of God, well suited the
contemporary religious longing for transcendent figures and in particular
the Greek idea of'sons of God', and therefore while ithad to guard against
misunderstanding it could also reckon on a certain prior understanding. In
the original Jewish milieu of Christianity, however, everything spoke
against such a teaching. The first contests over the new message therefore
took place in the sphere fJudaism. Even in Jewish Christianity, because of
its leanings towards Judaism, the idea ofJesus as Son of God was felt as a
greater or lesser stumb.ling block. Hence the tendency to look on the
transcendence of Christ exclusively in the light of the idea of the Messiah,
thus placing Christ in the ranks of the prophets and the men specially
endowed by God.
The Jewish-Christian circles usually included together under the name
'Ebionites' eventually succumbed to this temptation. The origin of the
name has still not been fillly explained. Several explanations were given in
antiquity. They were called Ebionites, (a) because of the poverty of their
intelligence; (b) because of the poverty of the law which they followed;
(c) because of the poverty of the opinions they had of Christ; (d) because
they were 'poor in lUlderstanding, hope, and deeds'.1 48 Like the views held
about the name 'Ebionites', opinions on the :Ebionite writings differ
widely. The attempt by H. J. Schoeps to prove the so-called Kerygmata
Petri in the Psendo-Clementincs to be an Ebionite writing must be
regarded as unsuccessful in view of the detailed analysis by G. Strecker.1 49
Cf. Clem. AI., Hypotyp. 19; Euseb., HE II, 1,4; Origen, C. Cels. V, 58.
Cf. W. Bauer, LebenJesu, 274. For the whole, ibid., 258-79.
J. A. Fitzmyer, 'The Qumran Scrolls, the Ebionites and their Literature', in : K. Stendhal, TI,e
SeroUs mId tire NT, New York 1957 (208-3 I, reprinted, in slightly abridged form, from TheolStud I6,
I955, 335-72), 209. Fitzmyer holds it probable that 'the name "Ebionite" actually does mean "follower
ofEbion" '(op. cit., 210). H.J. Schoeps, Tlreologie Ulld Geschic/lte desJudellchristelltums, Ttibingen 1949,
9 and Excursus II, differs.
149 H. J. Schoeps, op. cit., 45-61. This view is taken over by J. A. Fitzmyer, J. Reuss, 'Ebioniten',
LThK III. I959. 633f. Against this G. Strecker. DasJudencllTistentulII ill dell Pseudoklelllentillell. Berlin
1958,214-18. Strecker stresses that the Gnosticism and Hellenism of the Kerygmata excludes a direct

In fact, there are only the scant remnants of the so-called Gospel of the
Ebionites'lso and, as secondary sources, the reports of the church Fathers,lsl
There can be no doubt that the Ebionites to some extent recognize a
transcendence ofJesus and do not simply regard him as a 'mere man'. For
them, Christ is the 'elect of God' and above all the 'true prophet' (not, of
course, priest), as Epiphanius (Boer. 30, 13, 7) testifies. But they delete the
early history of Jesus, Matt. I and 2, from their gospel They deny the
virgin birth and also that Jesus is the Son of God, thus rejecting his pre-
existence: 'They say that h (Christ) was not begotten of God the Father,
bllt created as one of the archangels ... , that he rules over the angels and
all the creatures of the Almighty .. .' (frag. 6 ill Vielhauer). The fact that at
Christ's baptism tlle Holy Spirit descends upon him and cnters into him
and that the voice of the Father declares him. to be the Son is not to be
taken, as in the faith of the church, as an indication of the divine Sonship
of Christ. Nor is it probable that we should think of all adoption as under-
stood by classical adoptionisDl or even of a prophetic inspiration. We will
probably be more correct iu seeing here the Gnostic idea of the union of a
heavenly being with the man Jesus, resulting in the Christ, the SOl1 of
GOd.1S2 His mission is to do away with Jewish sacrifice (frag. 6) and thus
to bring to au eud the Old Testament priesthood. According to Hippo-
lytus and Epiphanius, the Jesus of the Ebionites first earned the name
Christ by fulfilling the law. For them, therefore, Jesus is no real way of
salvation. Despite their New Testament framework they remain deeply
rooted inJ udaism. Epiphanius' further ascription of d cetic tendencies and
the denial of Christ's true manhood to them is sureI y the exaggeration of a
heresiologist. 1S3
We know little more about the first exponents of a proper adoptionist
christology than about the Ebionites. Theodotus the Elder (the tanner) is
relationship with the primitive community. The early Christian ideal of poverty is no Jongar pre.scnt.
'Nor does the author term hilllself:lIl "Ebionitc". This term degenerated in hCfC$iological IJtl!raturc:
and the church historians to the title of:l sect, so does not even ap\,car to bc applicable to the
PsC, which ill fact give no indication ofa sectarian situation . . .' (op. dr., :n s). J. L. Teicher's inter-
pretntion oftnc n<!w Qumran texts as Ebionite writings !Ins also found no support. cr. J. A. Fitz.myer,
op. cit.-K. Schubert, 'DiejUdisthcn undjurlenchristlichcn Sckten im Lidue des lmdschriftcnfwtdes
von' n Fclcha', ZkTl1 74, 1952, 1 -6:2 , would assume a monl:": influcnce of the Zadokite sect 011
Jewish Christianity, which 'eventually ... (wi th other factots) led to the splitting olf of dissident
Jewish Christianity, Ebiollitism. [rom the ohuroh' (op. cit., 41). ToosK. Schubert, with H.]. Schoeps,
assumes that th.c TIbionites nre offihOOt5 oftheEs.senes. Ag:lirut this G. Strecker, op. dt., 216-18: 'The
influence or the Essenes and, the Zadokitcs on the picture ofJeslls in the Kerygmn/n is improb:.blc. Even
the 1II0S1 elementary tcrminologicnl presupposition, thatJcsus is described 3$ the "teacher of.righteous-
ness", is missing. Instead., the Kfr)I.~/IIn'll c:l.llJC5us the "true" :l.ud [i1e "Christ". The sect, on
the other hand, doC'S 110t give the Te:lchcr of RighteOUSIlcss this title, but iJld.cpcudenciy of the (act
that it believes in the futuro resurrection o[!ts teacher .. . , awnits the M~"iah . . .' (217) . See now the:
important remarks ofK. Rudolph, Die Malldiier, I,DasMalldiierproblem (FRLANT,NF 56), Gottingen
1960, 239-45, esp. 244, n. 3.
HOEd. P. ViclhauCT in Nelli Test. AlIOC. I, 153-8.
1St P~ssages in J. Reus!, op. dt. J. A. Fltzmyer, op. cit., 292f. (notes), gives a well-arranged analysis
of the contcllts of these hercsi oiogicllL reports.
152"So P. Vielhauer, New Test. Apoc. I, ISS.
m See frag. 5, New Test. Apoc. I. 158.

the first of these. According to Epiphanius, he justified his apostasy from

the Christian faith in Rome with the claim that in Jesus he had not denied
God, but merely a man. IS4 He seeks to demonstrate with passages from
the Old and New Testaments that Christ was a 'mere man' (\jJlAOS
av6pc.:moS), who was, of course, specially gifted with the grace of God
(GCS, Ep. II, 317-23). Theodotus the Younger (the money-changer), with
his disciples, the Melchisedekians, puts Melchisedek, the mediator of the
angels, above Christ, whom he claims to have been merely the mediator
of meu.lSS Artemoll will renew such adoptionist tendencies in the third
century. Nothing can be discovered. about their origins. TIle presence of
Judaistic influences in the background cOllld pe~'haps be assumed from the
Shepherd of Hermas. The concept of the SOil of God and of the Holy
Spirit which is developed in Sim. V, 5 is probably to be c."C!, lained from
them. TllC pneuma which God makes to dwell in the flesh of Jesus is
regarded not as a divine person, but as a divine power, in some way
analogous to the biblical sophia, with the result that a similarity has also
been concluded between it and theManual ofDi5cipline(]. P. Audet). The
'Son of God' in Sim. V, 5 emerges as the servant chosen by God, in whom
the spirit of God ha:s dwelt and who because ofllis fuithfnh ess is permitted
to share ill the privileges of the divine spirit. The themes of christologies of
'' and 'merit'IS6 begin to make themselves felt. These words
were later used as Jabels to denote heresy, although some of their basic
concepts could have maintained their significance in the context of the
whole of the church's picture of Christ and within the framework of
belief in Christ as the true Son of God. We have already shown how the
Shepherd of Hennas produces new nuances in Sim. VIII and IX. But it
becomes dear ill Sim. V that an absolutely closed Jlldaistic monotheism
necessarily brings adoptiorusm in its train. We have reached the point
where church teaching ha.d to develop trinitarian and cluistological dogma
side by side if it was to maintain the divine Sonship of Christ in the tme
sense. This connection first becomes fnllyclear in the third century. and at
the same time the difficulties which accompany it are revealed.
Whereas adoptionism has more of a rationalistic basis, with docetism1S7
we are trausported i11to a completely different religious climate. It is the
attempt to solve the problem of the incarllation and the suffering of the
Son of God on a dualistic-spiritualistic basis. The humanity and suffering
ofJesus become mere semb1ance. The name 50KTrrcx{ is not to be taken as
the name of a definite sect. Serapion of Antioch (190-2U) applies it to the
154 Epiphan., Raer. 54. I: GCS, Ep. II, 318 11
Ibid. 324-37: ZKG 66, 1954-55, 13I.
German Belll,mllll/.~s.h rislologie'. There is no exact English equivalent; it is the doctrine that
Chrisr clI1:ll,ed his exal tiOll to Sonship through his obedience and virtue (see below on Theodore of
Mopsuesria :md~cstol'ius).
151 P. Weigandt, Der Doketismus im Urchrislmlum ulld ill der Iheologischell EIlIWicklu/lg des zweilell
jahrhullderls, Diss. Heidelberg 1961.

sup'porters of those who circulate the Gospel ofPeter (Eusebius, HE VI, 12,
6). Clement of Alexandria accuses his SOKllTa! of certain special teachings,
without naming them (Strom. VU, 17, 108). Their head is the Encratice,
Julius Cassian (Strom. III, 13. 91-4). whose doctrine Jerome expounds as
real docctism (Comment in GaL 6. 8: PL 26, 46). The Philosophumel1a (of
Hippolytus) see in docetism a 'many-sided and Eckle heresy', which loves
Gnostic speculations about the aeons (VTII, 8-rr; X, 16). In Theodoret, the
name 50KITai includes Marcion, ValentiJlus, Manes and otllers (Ep. 82:
PG 83, 1264). The false teachers of the Johalll1illes (I John 4. 2; 5. 6;
2 John 7) and those of Colo~sians and the Pastoral Epistles are not docetists in
the strict sense. In other words, it cannot be demonstrated that they already
denied the reality of Christ's flesh. Thus there was still no christological
docetism in the narrower sense of the word. It was rather a matter of a
false docetist doctrine in the wider sense, which is, however, none the less
a real dissolving of Christ (solvere, according to the Vulgate and some
textual witnesses who have the word Mel for the 1-\1'} ,ol-\oAoyei of 1 John
4 3).
The theological character of the second and early third century was,
however, in the end most deeply influenced by the encowlters with early
Christian Gnosticism.JS8 This grew up like a twin brothel' alongside early
Christianity, almost like Esau with Jacob.l s9 In the account of the second
century w1til now, we may have had the feeling that the Christian mes-
sage contained merely a number of individual truths placed in simple
juxtaposition, though, of course, these were ordered more and 1l1.ore
us Onl y tbe most import!ll1t TCCCn[ works arc mentioned here. There are, of course::. the well-
known earlier works by W. Anz. W. DOlisser.:E. de Faye, H . Leiscgang and the lexicon articles in
PWK, RGG', LTilK2; L. G. Ryland!, The Be.~ill/Jillgs ~{Gllostie C/JriJlia"II),. London 1940; A.
Festugillrc, La ,lllJ/miGn d'Hm/l~s IrisIIIJgislr, t vols . Paris 1950-54 (for the pagol'l .l-Jcrll1ctic Gnosis) ;
G. Quisptl. Die CIIO'/S II/S Wc/trd(giVlI. ZUrich 19ST; H. Jonas, GIIOS/S /11111 ipirtoHlih'r Gout: I Die
mytll%gisrile Gliosis; If. 1 VOII dcr NI),I/IO/ogie OZ'I/r my.itisdl~1I 1'1Ii/MOp/rt(. (['RLANT, NF JJ and 45),
GOltingen 1954, Vol. [in 2Jld edition; id., Tilt Gllosli, Religioll, Boston I9S8; H. Scltlier, 'D.'U Dcnken
det: frUhdtrisrlichen Gnosis', in NClllestnmtlltliche StlldlclIJrlr R.lld~1fBllllmnml . DZNW Z J. 1954.19572 ,
67- 82; id., 'Der Mensch im GnostizislIIUS', in AIIII"opo/lIgi~ rdigklls(, NIIJllc/I. SupP\clDcnr'iI. 1955,
60-76; A, Orbc, LaJ primeros Iltrejes mile Itl pcrscwcioll (Estudios V:tlcnrinianos V), RomQ J956; R.
MeL. Wilson, 'fhe Gllostic Problcm, Loudou. 1958; R. M. CrJnt. Gll ostlelSlI1 mId Ear/y Cltrislimlily,
New York 1959; C. Colpc, DIe religioll fgescll idtlliche SC"l//~. Darslel/lllr,g (wi Krl/ik i/"cs Bi/dcs VOIII
gJlOSlisdlc/I EdosCTJ/J)'//III$ (PIlLANT. NF (0), Gortingen 1961 (with bibLi,o gmphy); H.- M. Schenke,
Dcr GOII 'Mtrud,' ill tla Gliosis. Gottingcn 1962. On the fmds at Nag Hamma:di : 1. Do[cssc,Lcs livres
secrets d~s ,~lIosljqll's /I'Egyplt. I-IT. P~ris 19S8 llnd [959; rcvi'lcd English cdition, Tlte Serre I Books oJtlre.
Egyptlall G/IIJSlia, London L96o; H.-M. Schenke, Dit: Hcrkllllji (Irs sogslIa/IllIei! ElJtllIgelill/IJ Veritatis,
Berlin 1958, Goctingcn 1959; Robert M. Grant- David N. Freednlnn, The Secret Snylugs OJ1C5II5. New
York 1960; D. Giirmer, Ti,e Theology of tire GO.!/Ic/ oj Tho/llas. London J961; W. C. van Unuik,
El/0llgelierr (filS dom NilsMd, Fmnkfurn960; R. MeL. \Vilson, St llllies III lI,e COSJlel oj '1'ho/llas, London
1960; R. IlO'l<ICS, Srruclllres r/IJologl'111ts lie I" GIIOse'; Rld",rd de S,lillt-Vktor, Paris 1962, 1-39. On the
literature : H. Quecke, 'L'evlll1gile de Thomas : Etnt d~5 recherdlcS', in.La Vemle dll Messie (Ii.cchc:rches
Bibliques VI), Hruges-Paris r962, 217- 4 r; Le origil!1 della gllosticislIIO. Gollol/llio iii Mt'.'siull 1.1-18 IIJiri/e
1966. Testi 6 tliJCtlssiOl'; pllbblicnti If cllra di u'l!(l Bianchi (Studies in the f.[jstory of Religions XIl), Lcidcn
1967. M. Simonetti, Testi Cllo$cici Cristialli, Bari 1970, gives nIl excellent jntroduction to Ch[istia.n
Gnosis (with texts).
IJI Cf. H. Schlicr. 'Das Denken der fruhchristlichen Gnosis', 81. He points to W. Bauer's Orthodoxy
111111 Heresy III Ellrli~st Christianity, London 1972, an important study in this respect, and to the special
[ole played by Rome in combating heresy.

within the creed. Now, however, Christian theologians begin to [eel the
necessity of developing a general 'Christian' reJjgious view. Christianity
now becomes a WeltanschaHung, i.e. a teaching which attempts to answer
the great human questions, God, man and the world; the cosmos and
history; death and. the beyond; body, matter and spirit, on the basis of the
Christian revelation. True, Gnosticism too was regarded more under a
material viewfoint in earlier scholarship. For most scholars it was an
accumulation of pseudo-mythological fantasies, an onmium-gatherum
of mdimentary theories fi:om all the principal religions, associated with
doubtful ClUtiC and moral practices'. Such a Gnosticism could 'not have
embarrassed the faith and life of early Christianity. That could have been
done only by all experience of approximately the same foon and the
same importance as Christianity and a thought which explained this
experience'.l60 More reccnt schoJru:ship has recogtlizcd that behind the
'ma.terial' of Gnostic doctrines and traditions, which were often no longer
understood in their original sense, and behind the elaborate myth of
redeeming Gnosis, there stood a new experience of God, man and the
world which had not emerged in antiquity hitherto. This experience
stirred the world of the til11.e morc and more, pagans and Christians alike.
'This thought was so intensive tha.t it even produced a new, radical atti-
tude and gave rise to new forms oflife in which such thought and slIch an
attitude could be realized . Only in this way does it become comprehen-
sible how Gnosticism became a great danger to the church.'161 Both these
aspects of Gnosticism, the 'material" and the 'existential', are not, however,
to be separated. Otherwise, by placing the essence of Gnosticism in this
'existential' element alone, we would arrive at a pan-Gnosticism. The
Gnostic experience of the world and of man is based on Gnostic dualism
as a specific religious doctrine and ou Gnosis as a way of salvation. Within
the one Gnostic experience different systems were possible: a pagan, a
Jewish, a Jewish-Christian and a Christian Gnosticism.
The theologians of the church were concerned on the one hand to
preserve the doctrine as handed down, but on the other hand to represent
this doctrine as the true answer to the problems raised by Gnosticism. In so
doing, however, they did not introduce any alien element into Christian-
ity, but elucidated its innermost nature, that of being a religion of revela-
tion and redemption.
It is not our present concern to give a detailed description of the matter
of Gnostic christology ,162 We will merely show briefly how the christology
Cf. H. Schlier, op. cit. , 68.
Ibid., 67f. In this connection Schlier notes the pioneering studies ofH. Jonas (see n. ISS Above)
The still unfinished study by C. Colpe must also be mentioned. A good description of 'Gnos.s' ii to
be found in W. C. van Unnik, Eval/gelie'l am dew Nilsar"I, Frankful't 1960, 3a-8, Sec the excellent
remarks of K. Rudolph, DieMalldller.I.DasMm.tliierproblt ... (fRLANT.NFlS6).Glittingcn L960,
162 cr. W. VOlker, QueUen zur Geschich/e der chris/lichen Gliosis, TUbingen 1932; R. MeL. Wilson,

and soteriology of tbe church was also confronted by these vital questions
as a result of the Gnostic proble.matic. It will not be misleading to repre-
sent Gnosticism primarily as a soteriological antluopology. Gnosticism is
primarily concerned with man, a position that could also bc shared by
Christianity, but only with an important displacement of the focal point.
In Gnosticism, man occupies the central position. Man's nature derives
from the world above. This is the presupposition of all Gnostic systems.
Recent scholarship has been able to make the enigmatical figure of the
God 'Man' in Gnosticism clearer than it was previously.1 63 According to
the oldest and most valuable sources, the God 'Man' was originally the
supreme God. He is the antitype of the 'Man' Adam and is therefore
called the 'first man' in the Apocryphon Johannis. The background to this
view is Gen. I. 26, which is expounded in accordance with the 'antitype-
type' thought pattern. If man has been created in the image of God, it
must follow that God is the first man. God and man, or rather the 'inner
man', are of the same nature. As far as one can see, two variants of this
doctrine of the God 'Man' are to be distinguished. 164 According to the first
variant, God is the 'UrmeNsch'. In his image there arises the earthly
'Urmensch', the ancestor of the earthly man. On the earthly' Urmensch' is
laid the image of the divine' Urmensch', which is the divine and essential
element in the earthly man. According to the second variant (Poimandres,
Zosimus, the Naassene sermon, 'The Essence of the Archons'), there are
three 'Urmenschen': God, the heavenly 'Urmensch' and the ancestor of
earthly man. There is in the earthly man a power of light which joins him
with the world above. It consists in the second heavenly man, enclosed in
the body, and fonned after the image of the supre01C God (the first
Unl'lensch). H.-M. Schenke thinks that this doctrinc of the God 'Man' in its
two -variants is a product ofJewish or Samaritan Gnosticism, whether in
the pre-Christian or the Christian era. He rightly sees here a key to the
solution of the whole problem. of Gnosticism.1S6 The origll~ of the Gnostic
myth of the God 'Man' is, however, au allegorizing of the iI'lu/go passage,
Gen. 1. 26., which was cUl:rcnt iu the writings of Philo and generally in
the more or less orthodoxJL1daism of Philo's time.l 66
According to Philo, the Logos (also = NOlls) is thclikcilcss of God. The
human nous is the likeness of this superior NollS. For Philo there is no
difference between the Heavenly Mall and the Logos (COIif. Lil'lg. 146; II,
The Gnostic Problem, 2II-28 (salvation, the redeemer). For the christology of the newly discovered
Gnostic sources see H.-M. Schenke, op. cit., on the so-called Eva/lgelium Verilalis; B. Gartner, op. cit.,
II8-58, on the Gospel of Thomas, H. Quecke, art. cit., pp. 226 C Hippolytus, Ele/lchus V-VII:
see below under Irenaeus.
163 On what follows we are indebted to the study by H.-M. Schenke, Der Gott 'Mensch' ill der
Gnosis; cf. J. Jervell, Imago Dei: Gell. 1. 26 im Spiitjudmtum, ill der G,Iosis WId in dm paulillischm
Briefen (FRLANT, NF 58), Gottingen 1960.
164 H.-M. Schenke, op. cit., pp. 65-8.
165 Ibid., 71.
166 Ibid., 120-43.

257, 1-5, where the Logos is entitled 6 KaT' elK6va (eEOV) av6pwTfos). Ac-
cording to him, Gen. 1. 27 speaks of the heavenly antitype of the earthly
man and Gen. 2. 7 of the creation of the earthly man. The Logos is meant
in Gen. 1. 27. He is a perfect, heavenly being, a heavenJy man, who has
been created as antitype, the idea of the earthly man. In the same way as
this Logos, the heavenly Nous, is the anti type of the whole world, so
too is it the ancitype of the chief clement in man, the human nails.
It is clear from this that anthropology can stand in the centre of the
Gnostic system. It is, of course, incorporated in a concept of God and the
world, to which theogony and cosmogony are to some extent con-
joined. 167 The creation of the world is an indication of the incompetence
or clumsiness or displeasure of God. Life in the body in the world is a
permanent violation of God. But God is not overthrown. The divine
element is hidden in man as a spark of the Father above,168 as a spark of the
divine self-consciousness, and must be redeemed. Man must free his own
self, thrown into need and lust and almost overwhelmed, and so realize
the original conception of God. In the encounter of Simon and Helena in
the spiritual and the sexual sense, there is brought about a new encounter
of the primal divine principles, Dyuamis and Ennoia, which cannot be
prevented by the powers hostile to God. Among the Simonians God
comes to himself, through man, by means of a 'conscious' libidinose vivere,
in Saturninus by means of asceticism and complete continence. 169 Both
libertinism and encratism rest on the same understanding of the relation-
ship between God and the world. Both ate ways of redemption.
The conceptions of this redemption are, as is already clear with Simon
and Saturnillus, very different. The chief difference-if we smvey the
Gnostic systems briefly- lies ill whether a redeemer figure (mythological)
is considered necessary or not. 170 A first group needs 110 such redeemer
figure: the Ophites in Origen's Celsus, the N1colaitans, the Archontics and
the Antitactae. The Hermetica also belong here. Among this group
Gnosis, i.e. redeeming knowledge, is sufficient. For the revelation of this
knowledge there is need ollly of a prophet, who can be called or sent in
, different ways. The opposite type knows a Gnostic redeemer, who
descends, though onJy through the firmaments, into the realm of the
powers, without reachjng the earth (second type).l71 Between the two
stands a third type: a l'edeemer walks on the earth, but only in a phantom

167 Cf. the inccrpl'ecntian of Simonian GllosriciWl in H. Schlier, Do! Dellk('11 derJrilllcbrisllicll611 Gliosis.
Also J. Frickcl, Di~ 'L1pllpitasis Mega/~' III Hlppo/)'r'.! fufjlrarjo (Vi 9- 18): Ellie Pnrap/IfDse z,ir ApojJilasls
Simons (OCA 182), HOIlL1968. Sec Barbara Aland, TI,co/PIII/48. 1973, 41(}-8.
168 I-I. Schlier. OJ? cit. , 72, points to Hippolyrus, Ele"clI. Vil, 28, Sff.; Epiphan . Pall. /mcr. 23. 23.
16Q H. Schljcr, op. cit. 79. n. 26. 75. ot! the cllcPltism and Iibcrtinism of the Gllostics.
110 On what follows see R. Mel. WilSOll. The ellostic Prall/f ill, 2II-28; C. Calpe. Dit relig{olls-
Resc/iic/it/icilc Scllflle, 194- 208.
171 Colpe. op. cit . 198; H. Schlier. Chris/us una die Kirche {m Epheserbrief, TUbingen 1930, 18-26.

body. In Manichaeism (according to C. Colpe), all three types occur side

by side. the first and second types in several expressions. The second type
is most richly developed among the Mal1daeans and the Valentinians, but
with important differences. (The chief point is that in the Valentinian
systems there were three Christs : 'the Christ produced by Nons and
Aletheia with the Holy Spirit, the commou fruit of the Pleroma, the COll-
sort of the exiled Sophia who is itself named the Holy Spirit ... ; and the
third, born of Mary to better our creation.'172) The Christian-Gnostic
system.s in the narrower sense on the other hand develop the third type.
There is still debate in contemporary scholarship as to how the redeemer
figure came il1to Gnosticism. One thesis rw)s that Gnosticism only took
over this figure under Christian influence (G. Quispel, E. Schweizer, R
MeL. WilsOJ1). The counter-thesis runs that the redeemer figure does not
derive from Christianity (H. Schlier, P. Vielhauer, C. Colpe). The fint
thesis fin,ds support in the tremendous significance of Cm-ist for Gnosticism.
It should not, however, be overlooked that the redeemer can have other
names (The I-Iyn'/n ~fthe Pearl) or that there are other redeemer-hypostases
instead of or alongside Christ (Sophia redemption).l73
As is well known, scholars of the history of religions have sought to
sum up the Gnostic doctrine of redemption under the catchword 'the
redeemed redeemer'. They have even spoken of the dogma of the 're-
deemed redeemer'. This catchword is subjected to strict criticism by C.
Colpe. While it does rough justice to a certain state of affairs, it is basically
a modern interpretation, which does not occarln the sources. The real
problem of redemption in Gnosticism is better dealt with in the categories
brought together by H. Jonas,l74 One could at most speak of the Sa/vator
salvandus, as Augustine (c. FaHstum II) insinuates. In fact, the concern of
Gnosticism is that a heavenly part, the spark of light, the Nous. embodied
in man must again be made free from matter. Now this spark of light is
identical in substance with the Nous or Logos, the redeemer of the world
above, from which the soul has fallen. Each is separated from the other
and must be r.eunited. This means the dissolution of the world and of man
to a condition which c01'l:esponds with pre-existence, but makes a new
cosmogony impossible.
Gnosticism is thus concerned with a physical redemption, which is,
moreover, understood in a dualistic way, i.e. a sense hostile to the body
and to matter. hI Christianity, redemption is primarily a freeing fi'om sin
and its consequences. It includes the body along with the rest of the
physical world. This re.demption is built 011 the figure of the historical
172 Hippolytus, Elench. vr. 36,4 ; further examples from the sources in H.-M. Schenke, Die Herkunjt
des sogena/l/lten EVQtlge1i1l1ll Valwis, 2,4, n. 2,2.
113 Cf. C. CoIpe, Die rcligiomgesdlic/Jlliclle Schule, 207. He means to clarify these questions further in
the continuation of his work.
114 Ibid., 174, 186-9; HansJonas, Gnosis I, 94-140; id., Gllostlc Religion, 48-97.

Jesus, who is true man, and yet comes from God. Even though his coming
into the world is understood under the image of a descent, this pictorial
representation of the incarnation is not to be confused with the descent of
the Gnostic redcemer. With the progress of theology, Christianity C011-
ceived its redeemer more and more by the exclusion of all images, and
mythologies, but nevertheless continl1ed to hold ever more strongly to the
reality of the incarnation o God in Christ. This is achieved particularly
in the christological councils. Gnosticism stems from the real experience
of humau existel1ce-wllich is also immediately accessible to the Christian.
To interpret tIus experience it takes refuge in mytbical aetiologies and in
magic, wllicl~ are enriched partly with Christian, Jewish and other
elements. In tIlls it does llot sllcceed in transcending the limits of a natural-
istic doctrine of redemption. TllllS Christi.mity differs from the Gnost.ic
redeemer-myth in two ways:
I. On the basis of the biblical doctrine of creation it has a well-balanced
relationship between the transcendence of G d and the immanence of
God. The one, ever-transccndent God remains in a constant relationship
to the spiritual and material world that he has created. Only sin, not mat-
ter, means separation and falling away from this God. The fall is a histori-
cal and not a mythological event. And to overcom.e sin, God intervenes
in the world in historical action with the aim of bringing the whole man
(body and soul) and the whole world to God.
2. This action of God culminates in the incarnation of the Son of God,
who by his moral obedience before God lays the foundation for the
spiritual and physical restoration of man to God, which-1e already accom-
plishes in a Egure in his own resurrection.
Gnosticism, then, has in common with Christianity its experience of man
and the world and a longing for freedom from death, fate and sorrow, in
short, for redemption. The peculiar element in Christianity, 111 contrast
with Gnosticism, is, however, the clear historical founding of this experi-
ence on the sin of the spirit. Also peculiar to it is a consciousness of the act
of redemption carried out by God :in Christ wluch, while resting on a
revelation, in the last resort rests on a spiritual and moral act of Christ.
This act is rooted in the person of Christ and in his nature as the God-man.
The interptetati 11 of the per n of Christ therefore increasingly becomes
the central problem of the Christian doctrine of salvation.
The completion of this clarilication of the Christian understanding of
salvation in the face of Gnosticism, Judaism (the law) and pagruusm (t11e
mysteries, magic) was, however, the task of the second and early third
century, once Paul and John had aheady introduced the process.
(e) Martyrdom and apology
Our picture of belief in Christ in early Christianity would not be com-

plete if we did not make reference to two special ways of bearing witness
to Christ: martyrdom and apology. They arise out of the encounter of
Chr.istianity with paganism, its philosophy and anti-Christian polemic,
and a.bove all its conception of the state. In thei.r juxtaposition, the testi-
mony of blood and the testimony of the writings addressed to the pagans
show the tension there is in the development of belief in Christ in this
early period. With the Apologists, whose main representatives have still
to be discussed, the question of the HelleniL'1tion of the picture of Christ
becomes acute in a new way. As we have seen, tlus problem was already
raised with the New Testament and the mere encounter of Christialuty
with Hellenistic culture. But with the Apologists, the attempt to press
pagan philosophy into the service ofChristianity begills to a special degree,
an attempt which brought both positive and negative results. The whole
of our investigation must concem its ~lf with this question.
The' dispute with paganism which was sealed in the witness of the
Christian martyrs is of quite a different nature. Here there is no place for
reflection or speculation, but only for simple witness, sucnas has eucoun-
tered us time and again in the popular piety of the second century. It is,
however, a witness which is cOllsuItl,lnated in action. We need not there-
fore attempt a deSCription of the christology of the acts of the martyrs.
We have already come across some christological motifs of the time of the
martyrs in the Sibylline books: the spirit of discipleship of Christ, the
breath of a passion-mysticism. The extant acts of the martyrs do, however,
testify to something very important, which the liturgical sources of the
early period, for example, could not tell us. Whereas in the liturgy prayers
are o,ffered above all to Christ, seen as mediator, and through Christ (per
Christul'l1) to the Father, the prayers of the Acts of the martyrs are to all
astonishing extent addressed to Christ himself whether they be praise,
thanksgiving or intcrcessiol1,17S as indeed Pliny has already shown us (see
n.9 above). So prayer to Christ was made even before the Arian disputes.
Precisely this practice reveals the 'tremendous christocelltricity' of the Acts
of tbe martyrs. (and of their age). They show themselves to be 'almost
drunk with a christocentric piety' (Baus). To worship Christ, the true
man, as God, is the joy and comfort of the early Christian period.



Hitherto we have been listening for most of the time to fairly wide
sections of early Christianity or even to anonymous and apocryphal
I7S Cf. B. Fischer, Die Psalmel!(rommigkeit der Miirtyrerkircl,e, Freiburg 1949; K. Baus, 'Das Gebet
der Martyrer', TThZ 62, 1953, 19-32; id., VOII der Urgemei"de zur fri;hchrisrlichel' Grosskirche, Freiburg-
Base1-Wien 1962, 340-7; Baus here enlarges on the investigations of J. A. Jungmann, Die SrellulIg
Christi im liturgischell Gebel, MUnster 1925; photographic reprint with author's additions, 1962. On pp.
146-51, Jungmann asserts that the apocryphal acts of the apostles already know of prayer to Christ.

writings. Beyond these, there emerge individual writings, and above all
individual figures, in whom the deve] pment of early belief in Christ is
crystallized: Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin, Melito of
Sardis and IrenaellS.
(a) Clement of Rome
According to the testimony ofIrenaeus (Adv. Haer. III, 3, 3), Clement 0
Rome handed on the apostolic teaching intact in his letter to the Christian
community at Corinth. Nevertheless, pensonal characteristics are not
lacking. Clement is restrained and averse to allY speculation. There is,
however, a clear Judaistic and Stoic tone to llls letter. t76 He is very
familiar with the Old Testament and therefore with the Old Testament
picture of God the Creator. With pregnant sentences he describes the
nature of the ordering of salvation established by the Fatber iu Christ and
the Spirit and entrusted to the apo tics (42. 1-3). His picture of Christ has
probably been developed in particular along the lines of Paul (2 Cor. 8. 9;
Phil. 2. 5-n) and the Epistle to the Hebrews ( 2. 2). 'The sceptre of the
majesty of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared not with~ pomp of pride
or arrogance, though well he might, but in hlll;nility' (r6. 2). Kyrios, Lord,
is the proper name of Christ, just as 'God' and 'Ruler' are titles of the
Pather. The emphasis on the figure of Christ gives a New Testament
colouring to the letter, which it might otherwise be found to lack (especi-
ally chs. 36 and 49). The pre-existent Son of God, the brightness of the
Father, was sent into the world as man, and is the high priest of m-ankind
and their way to blessedness (ch. 36). As such, he is exalted above all crea-
tures, the king of the world, the giver of all diville gifts, light, knowledge
and immortality. After hi.s exaltation he is united with the Father in glory
and receives divine honour. m
~b) Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch is one of the few early Christian authors who
proclaimed faith in Christ in such a way that believers had to make this
faith into a question a.bout Christian existence. Once again we can hear
Paul and John speaking. He detected the climate brought about for
Christian preaching by the docetists and the emergence of Gnosticism.
His message of Christ speaks of an objective reality a.nd a historical, cosmic
event, and yet at the same time it is a message of man and his salvation.
'The thought that dominates Ignatius' mind is not the striving for right-
eousness (as in Paul) but tbe longing for life; and in so far as this is so, he is
more closely related to John than to Paul.'178 Paul, Ignatius lives in
176 Cf. G. Bardy. RSR 12, 1922, 73-85; L. Sanders, L'hellellisme de Saillt Clemellt de Rome et Ie
Pau/illisme, Louvain 1943. Cf. I Clem. 19.20, 28, 33.
177 See the doxologies in I Clem. 32,4; 38. 4; 43. 6; 58.2; 61. 3; 65. 2.
178 R. Bultmann, 'Ignatius and Paul', in Existellce alld Faith, ed. Schubert M. Ogden, London 1960,
271. See too W. v. Loeweruch,johaIllJeSverstiindllis, 25-38.

the hope of a future salvation, of the anastasis. He can call Christ our hope,
just as he can call him our z oe. Ignatius is aware of an act of the eschato-
logical drama to come, but the eschatological evcnt of the parot/sin has
already taken place iu the historical appearance oEJesus (Phi/ad. 9. 2; c
Magn . 9. 2). For Jesus appeared at the end (of time) (Magn. 6. .1). Christ
means a new existence for the faidlful, for they are 'members' of Christ
(Eph. 4.2; Trail. II. 2), 'branches ofth cross' (Tra.lf. II. 2) and, as those
who are unitedill the ekklesia, the body (Smyrn. 1. 2) whose head is Christ
(Trail. 11.2). The whole life offaith is 'in Christ'-a formula which still has
original force in Ignatius. Through Jesus Christ, death is already overcome
and life has been made present. Through the God who has appeared
as man, the old kingdom has been destroyed and the newness of e!'cmal
life has been pllt in its place (Eph.19. 3). What is peculiar about Ign:ttius'
thought is 'that the whole ljfe of dIe Christian is drawn into a sacramental
wlity with Christ and thcreby receives a sacramental character-namely,
as participatioll in Christ's passion, death and rcsurrection'.m 111i$ is the
theme as a result of whichlgnatills attaches sllch significance to the diviue
and human reality in the one Christ in the face ofany possible falsific:ttion.
The doctrine of the one Christ, God and man, is saving doctrine.
As in John, the unity of the two kiuds of being in Christ, LogO) and
sane, is full of tension. There is strong emphasis all both these poles,
particularly in the face of the separationist tendencies of the docetists and
all those heretics who were already during the lifetinle of the apostle John
striving to 'dissolve' Christ (I John 4. 3). To COllnter dIem, the Bishop of
Antioch insetts into the apostolic expressions of the incarnation a 'com-
plete'180 or a 'genuine', to exclude all hint of 'semblance' ('TO 501~Eiv).
Three times in Johu we fmd the designation 'God' for Christ, in Ignatius
it is already quite frequent. ISI Out of the tendency to hold in teoion
Christ's Godhead and manhood in the one st'ltement, arises ,~he
alltithetic, two-membered formula, so well loved in the later histoq of
the dogma of Christ, which emphasizes the distinction between. the ki'lds
of being in the one Lord. In Eph. 7. 2 Ignatius says:
els \crrp6s eernv
0"a:pKIK6s 'Te Ka:i itVev~crrIK6s,
yevv1)'TOS Ka:l a"yev1)'TOS,
EV O"a:pKI yev6~EvoS 6e6s,
EV 6a:vch~ 3001] &t.1)61VT],
Ka:l EK Ma:p!a:S Ka:l EK 6eov,
1tPW'TOV 1Ta:61)'TOS Ka:i 'T6n crrra:6T]S,
'/1)O"oOs Xpl<TTOS 6 KvploS Tj~wv.
179R. Dultll1ann, op. cit . 275. 180 Ign., Smym. 4, 2.
181TextS in J. Lebreton, Trillile II, 297; W. v. Loewenich, johQllIIesversriilliltlis, 28-9; P. Kraft,
C/Qvis ParrulIl Aposrolicomm, Miinchen 1963, S.v.

This fine passage l82 contains two series of statements ahout the one
Christ: on the left are clearly those which concern Christ in the flesh, as
man; on the right are those which are made of him. as the pre-existent
Son of God. In the first antithesis of Eph. 7. 2 there is w.ithout doubt an
allusion to Rom. r. 3, 4. Thereafter, this contrast that Christ is pneuma
311d sarx, flesh and spirit, i.e. God and man, became very popular until
under the influcnce of the Logos doctrine of the Apologists it retreated
well into the background illwour of the Johannine phraseology 'Logos-
flesh'. It did 110t, however, vanish completely. With Ignatius and the
majority ofits other representatives it is so muly embedded ill a recog-
nition of the two kinds of being ;/1 Christ that it runs no serious risk
of being suspected of an associatIon with 'spirit-christology' (as undcr-
stood by F. Loofs).183 As the two kinds of expression refer ill holy
scripture to onc and the same reality, so also do they in the Christian
r he c ntrast of yevVTlTo) Kat aySVV1)TOS caused particular difficulties at

the time of the Ariall controversy. The former became a characteristic of

the pre-existent Son with the significance 'begotten' j the latter, on the
other haud, became a characteristic of the 'Father' and meant 'unbegotten'
(in contrast to the Son). Thus when it was applied to the same Christ in
a post-Nicelle sense, Ignatius' statement caused difficulties for the Nicenes:
'begotten' ill his manhood (of Mary, though this did not mean being
begotten through a man), 'uubegotten' in his Godllead (though in Nicene
language this would not be a characteristic of the Son, but of the Father).
Theodoret sought to avoid the difficulty by replacing 6:yevvt)Tos with Kat

,l UEpll , 7. 2; cd.]. A. Flschcr, Di~ApDSlolisrhm Viiler, Darmstadt 1966~, 146-8fEicre we nSSlIlIlC the
authenticity of the middle recension ( = M) of the seven Ictters oflgmu ius. It has again been doubted
in a study, Les Lallrel t['1gllnw d'Alllio,lia. Elude dt crilique lilllrnire c/ dl /Ilev/ogie par R. W('ijC/l uorg,
O.P.M., ntis ell frnllvais par ll. Heroux, O .P.M., Lcidcn 1969. Weijcnborgscts out to dCLUonstrate
thnt M j$ dependent on the longer recension ( L), which was only made ;!frer 3<10. He aha argues
that the shorter recension ( q, known only in n Syriac translation, also camc into being after 360,
as it arises out ofM. Weijcnborg's stlldy has been comcslcd by both A. Wenger, Rl!IIBB),z 29, 1971,
315, and O. Feder, 'Pic Bricfe des Ignatius von Anlio(;hien', FreUmrgcr ZeifJcliriJifilr Pl1i losoplii~ Illid
Thoolo<~ie 18, r97r, 38'1ff. (on Eplt. 7. 2). Peder also refers (p. 383) to the newly dilcovelcd Ambic
trallS'lllrioll which is an important witness to the tradiriOll of the seven genuine letters (in Mdlo IV, 2,
1968, 107-!)I). Cf. also M . Perry Brown, The AIIII,tllli, Wr//JII,~s of ignatius. A Sillily (If Lillgnlstic
Critcrin, Durham. NC 1963. For the dlristQlogy oCthe Igmtian epistles sec now R. llcrthouso7., 'Le
Pcrc, Ic FJls et Ie Saint-Esprit d'apr~ Its LcttTes d'fgOllcC d'Alltiochc', Freiburger Zei/scJlrljij,'/r 1'11110-
sop/lie lIud TII~o//lgie 18,1971, 3!>7-418, esp. 398-410.
13J On the pncuma-Sa[x formula sel: (b) above (n. 78). How the two christological formulas
pnCUni n-smc, Logos-sux orc idcnticnJ in poim of comCJlt of ideas ~ppea~s cspccinlly in Ju.tin, Hip
polytus and Tcrtllliian; cr. A. D'AIc.s S. j., Ln' de Ter/IlIliCII, l'aTis 1fj05, 96-8. The more
Christianity, in the person of its theologians, rome into cont;(ct with philosophy, and cspcdall:y with
the St03, the l110re the bnguage which descdbccl the divine clement ill Christ" as pnewlla had to re-
treat. For in Stoic though t, pneuma not ~xcludc a nl3tcrb l nature. Clement of Alexandria avoids
Clliling God a pnculll,1; only 'once in a whi le' docs he apply the word 10 Chrisl (M. Pohlcnz, S/Od,
416; examples in supplcmcntnry-volullle p. 200). Origen, on the other lund, defends the Christina use
of pneuma against tbe Sto,. Cc1sus knows the pncuma-soma~s:lIx formula as a Christian confession;
Origen, C. Cols. 6, 69, cd. Koetsch~u 139: (6 O!OS), 1T\ItO~a i5lo~ ~(.1~allc::w I I, aWIlCl ~(Jlv 6(J010V. On
Melito or Sardis see below.
~~ &yevv~Tov ('begotten and of the unbegotten', but this then ceased to
be a true antithesis). The contradiction is removed once the Nicene
terminology and view of the problem is abandoned in favour of the early
Christian and Hellellistic meaning of the word (this would be even more
the case if it could be demonstrated that the original form was yevnToS-
ayeVIlToS).I84 'Born' here means 'coming into being in tinle' (or in the
visible order of things)' its antithesis is 'tmbegotten' in the sense of 'not
having to come into beiug' in the eternal (invisible) order, i ..e. as Godhca.d.
'Ev aapKI yev6~EvoS eEOS is to be preferred to Lightfoot's ~v avepdrrr~
eeos (2. I, pp. 47-8, as later in Athanasius, Theodoret, GeJa,sius and Severns
of Antioch).185 It is not, however, to be seen in the perspective of Apolli-
narian christology, i.e. as a denial of the soul of Christ. Here there is
simply a contrast between the reality of the flesh and of the Godhead in
Christ in theJohantune sense. This theological wlderstanding of the unity
in Christ finds its clearest expression in Ignatius in his use of the so-called
'exchange of predicates', where the divine is predicated of the man Christ
and the human of the Logos, while the distinction between the two kinds
of being is clearly maintained. This way of speak."ing is possible onJy
because the unity of the subject is recognized. I 86 Though the static charac-
ter of a 'two nature' christology may become visible as early as Ignatius,
a full , living dynamic is evident throughout his writings. This has its
source in his all-pervading view of the economy of salvation and the basic
soteriological-anthropological tone of Ius christology.
(c) Justin, philosopher al1d martyr
At the height of the second century we see the proclamation of Christ
fully engaged in debate witbJudaism and paganism. This debate nds its
expression most clearly in the perSOll and work ofJustin , the 'philosopher
and martyr' (Tert.t:tllian, Val. 5).187 In his (fust) Apology it is his intention
to prove the divinity of Christ to the heathen fi:om dle prophecies of the
184 Cf. Lampe, art. yevvT)T6s or aytvVT)TOS, and yevT)T6s (with which it is frequently confused in
185 1nstallces inJ. B. Lightfoot, TI,e Alloslali, Fn(/lffS, London 188S, r, 141, 163.
In6Tgn./ Ep/I. 1. I; cd. Fischer, 142 ; exlliex Seoli-Rom. 6.3; ed. Fischer, 188: 'lraeos TOO 6eoii 1I0U
-Eph. 18. 2: cd. fischer, 156; /) .. yap a.os .. .bWOq>OP1WT) UTlO Mapl<:r\. Ign3tius reveals a delicate
understanding ofthc divine S\lQjcct in Christ when he speaks of the 'flesh-bearing Lord' (KVplOS
aapKo'l'6pos) but not of the 'God-bearing man'. The larter will meet us later. Cf. Smym. 5,2; ed.
Fischer, 208.
187 (0) For bibliography on Justin sec E. R. Goodenough, T/,e Theolo.~y oJj/mlll Mmlyr, Jena f923,
295-320; N. Hyldahl, Philosophic mId ChrislellllUlI. EllUl IlIlul"CIMioll der Jjilllcilllllg ZHm Dlalogjustilu,
Kopenhagen 1966. 30t-8; L. W. BarnArd,jllfllll Martyr. HisLif~ alld Tlrought. Cambridge 1967, 18tr3,
withsupplemcmary nulteri:al to Hyldahl.
(b) Studies on the philosophical and historical bockground to Justin: in addition to (0) above see
J. M. Pfattisch O.S.)3., Der Einf/I/ss Plellas nuJ die Tllc%./!i( jllS(iliS du Miirtyrm, Padllrborn 1910 ;
G. B;u:dy, 'Saint Justin et In philosophie sroicicllne', RSR. 13, 1923,491-5 10; 140 f924., 33-45; C.
Andresen, 'Justin und dcr miltlerc Platonisll1us', ZNW 44, I952!53, 157-95 i id., Logos IlIld Nomos,
Berlin 1955; in a:ddition espedaHy R. Holte. Llgo., Sp~rlllnlika9, Chrisllmliry olld AllciclII Plrilo.,(>p/,y
accordillg 10 SljllS/ill's Ap%gies (Stadia Thcologica 12), L und 1958, 109-68; important new add itions
to Andresen and Holte :lrC N. Hyldahl. 0p. cit.; J. C. M. vnn Winden, All Early Chrj,/loll Phi/OIOp/Ie(.

Old Testament (30--53). Tn the Dialogue with Trypho, he lows that the
worshipping of Christ is no contradiction to monotheism (48-I08). For
his christological proof, Justin searches out to a hitherto unparalleled
extent new types in Genesis which proclaim beforehand Christ and his
suffering. What the regula .fidei means for Ireoaetls and Tertullian the
christological intcntion is for J ust~-mutatis ffiutandjs-in his exposition
of scripture. He is one of the first exegetes to use belicfin Christ consistent-
ly as a ba.sic hermeneutical principle in expounding the Old Testament
(G. T. Armstrong).l88
Adolf von Harnack sums up Justin's christology in the classical formula
'Christ is the Logos and Nomos', The Apologists, in using these central
concepts of Greek philosophy, wished to show the Greeks that Christianity
was the true philosophy.189 Justin, however, incorporated these conc pts
into a theology of history and completely transformed them. 'Wherever
Cbri t is called Logos and Nomos as mediator of divine revelation, this is
done within the context of a historical Wlderstanding of reve1ation.'J9O
This is evident in Justin's teaching on creation and eschatology, but most
of all in his teaching on the incarnation. Here he goes back both to the
synoptics and to John, in whom he finds proof for the identity of the
Word made flesh with the pre-existent Logos, who is also the mediator
of creation and revelation. As the eternal Dynamis of God, the Logos can
himself bcget his earthly existence from the Virgin (ApoL. r. 33, rff.).
Justin sets great store on stressing the historical data of this earthly existence
of the Word made flesh (Apol. I, 13, 3; 35.9 and often). But this incarna-
tion is the last link in a chain of events, during which the Logos had earlier
already appeared on earth in other circumstances to reveal the will of the
Father (Dial. 75. 4). The Logos maintains this function of being mediator
of revelation until the end of the world. It comes to an end in the 'second
parotlsia'-a phrase which Justin coined (Apol. I, 52, 3; Dial. 14, 8 and
often). Through the uninterrupted work of revelation of the Logos the
history of mankind becomes a carefully-planned construction with
beginning, purpose and end.
jmlill Marlyr's Dialoglle witb Trypllo. Chapters Olle /0 Niue (phiJosophill Patru", I), Leiden 197I; H .
MUhl, 'Dcr Myo5 h'8,,~6nos und 1TpOCPOPIK65 von dcr altcrc!ll Sto3 his :wr Synode voo Sirmium',
Ardlill Jj'ir BegritJsg~s,lticllre 7, I97~, '7 - 56 (on Jusun, pp, 46f.); W. Pllnncnbcrg. 'TllC Approprinrioll of
the Philosophi 31 Concept of God Il$ il Dogmatic Problem of Early Christirw Theology, in: Basic
Qucstiolls ill r/l~"logy II, London :mc.U'biladclphiil1971, 119-83; G, T. Ar mstrong , Dit Celles;s. 18- 51.
(c) Justin's c11ristology nnd theology : A. Fed er,Jus/ills dr:s.MilrlyrersLolrre VOIIJCSIIS CllrisllfS, Freiburg
1906; R. C3ntllamcsS3. ' CJ;is~ial'lcsimo ptimitivo' (see Rote 1I <lbove);J. Ho,vcon, 'The Theology of
the Incarnation in Justin Mn(cyr', Stut/PIII IX ( = TU 94.), 1966, 231-9; see the works cited in the
next note.
ui~ See nOW P. Prigent, Jus/ill m' I'Auci811 Testarl1e11( (EtBibl), Plds 1964; W. A. Shotwcll. The
Biblical Exegesis ojjllstill Mort yr. LondOIl 1965. Note pp. 320-32. in l'rigClll, 'Le plan du Dialogue',
wWch is compared with the 'plal1 du Syntagma' (Apology. 26) .
169 See also N. HyJdnhl, op. cit., 233- 55, and 256-95, 'Philosophic und Christentum'. In addition,
the remarks by J. C. M. van Winden 3nd his thorough ClllIIDle1ltary should be noted.
1]10 S. C. Andresen, op, cit., 312; for what follows sec ibid., 312.-44.

Now in trus way Christ also becomes the 'Nomos' of the human race
(after Ps. 1. 2 and Isa. 2. 3; Apol. I, 40, 5ff.; 39, r; Dial., II-25). By him
order is brought into a world in which everything has been in confusion.
The advent of this Logos-Nomos in the flesh also breaks the inBuences
which the demons had exerted in history through the 'nomoi' of the
peoples. Hcrein lies the significance of the expansion of Christianity. 'For
now that we have believed in the Word, we too have withdrawn from
them (i.e. the demons), and now follow the only unbegottell God
through his Son' (Apol. I, 14, I). Because a new Nomos of the world has
thus been created in Christianity through the Logos as the 'power of
God', his incarnation perpetuates itselThe new ordering of the world
has its centre in Christ. In this way, justin's Logos doctrine has taken over
from the Greeks the two main concepts of Logos and Nomos, but has
incorporated them into a historical-theological approach.191 Justin finds
his framework for this in Rev. I. 8; 4. 8, where there is mention of him
'who is and was and is to come' (c Dial. III, 2). It is justin's intention to
show by this theology that Christians do not think of the Logos after the
manner of the pagan myths (Apol. 1,53. Iff.). In so doing he also dismisses
Jewish modalistic speculations. These make the Logos merely a form in
which the Father is manifested and rob the Logos of the character of
mediator of divine revelation (Apol. I, 63. IS; Dial. 128, 1). (In Melito's
Peri Pascha, the relationship between Logos and Nomos differs from that
in justin.) Finaily,Justin's conception of history gives him the opportunity
of rejecting the Stoic teaching of world-periods and the Platonic trans-
migration of souls (Apol. II, 7, 3)..
By 1lis christocentric theology of history, therefore, Justin was able to
stress dearly the Christian character of the Logos doctrine. Nevertheless,
he was subject to stronger influence from Stoicism and from Middle
Platonism, particularly in his doctrine of the Logos spermatikos (Apol. II,
8, 3; 13, 3). The expressions O1T~PIJ.C( TOU 1\6yov and O1Tepj.lCXTIKoS 1\6yoS
derive from Stoicism. For the Stoics, the Logos, as immanent fire, is the
principle of all reason (ratio). Reason in the individual man is merely an
aspect of it. By virtue of the activity of the Logos, all men are capable of
forming certain moral and religious concepts. They are called Ij>vCJIKcxl
EVVOIC(I or KOlVal EvVOIal or even O1TSPIJ.CXTa. Therefore the Logos as an
active principle can also be called O1TEPIJ.CXTIKOS 1\6yos. In the light of the
Stoic origin of these terms, some scholars felt that an identity between
human reason and the diYine Logos should be assumed in justin's Logos
doctrine. This was done in Hamack in a rationalistic sensc, in J. M.
Pfattisch in a supernaturalistic sense)92
191 See Danielou II, 159.
192 A. von Harnack, History oj Dogma I, London 1900, photographic reprint New York 1961,
179-90;]. M. Pfattisch O.S.B., Der Ei/1jluss Platolls auJ die Theologie Justills des Miirtyrers, Paderborn
1910, 1I0, IlSf. See Danielou II, 41-8.

C. Andresen has shown new ways of interpreting Justill and has shown
that despite his Stoic vocabulary, Justin's thought here is Platonic, or
rather Middle Platonic. R. Holte has made some corrections here.193 He
has shown that the expressiou crnEP~o:TlKOS /\6yos does Dot occnr in
Middle Platonism, but in Philo (as a desc 'iption of the activity of the
Logos, which is trallsccndcllt to the human spirit). In Justin, a distinction
must be drawn between the crnep\.lCXT1KoS /\oy6r; and the omPIJCXTO TaU
/\6yov. These o-rrEp\.lcrroare a participation in the Logos by spirit.
They derive from the activity of the Logos, which theccfore sows know-
ledge in the human reason in this way. This, however, i only the lower
degree of knowledge, which must be brought to fulfilment by the 'ncar-
nate Logos himsel Where there are only the 'seeds of the Logos', the
Logos is present only 'in part' (&1rb J.lpovs). Now as the Logos is the source
of all partial knowledge of the truth ill all men, he must also in the end
be the subject and norm of this knowledge. So when Justin assumes of the
ancient philosophers, like Heraclitus or Socrates, that they lived in accord-
ance widl the Logos, he understands by dlls Logos not reason (ratio), but
the divine Logos. But these philosophers knew this Logos only obscurely
and partially (OOro \.lspovs). In this respect their philosophy is incomplete
and false . Thus one and the same d.ivine Logos is known by philosophers
and Christians, but by the former only in a de6.cieut way, while the latter
have full and complete knowledge. The way in which d1e Logos spetma-
tikos works in human reason is to be Wlderstood in Justin in. the light of
the Platonic presuppositions of his theory of knowledge. He does, how-
ever, recognise for the ancient philosophers a special way of participating
in tile revelations of the Logos in the world, namely by way of the Old
Testament. The philosophers borrowed from the prophets and from
m C. Andresen, op. cit., 34.0-3; R. Holte,Log~s sperlllntikM, 14-1. 14-5. The researches of C. Andre-
5cn alld R. Holte h~ve been lnkca further by J. H. WaS'link, 'Bemerkungen zu Jwt.ins lehre yom
ugos Spcrmalikos', Feslsclrrlfl1'heodor Klauser, JAC supplementary vol. I, MUnster 1964, 380-go, and
e$pecially by S:uvatore R. C. Lilla. Clcmt/ll ojAlexa/ufria. A Sludy ill Cl,risliaf' Pla/ollisrl' m,d Gllosticism
(Oxford Theological Monogrnphs), Ox(ord 1971, n-6. Lilla stressed Holtc's distinction between the
MyoS O"ITEPI-la.TI1<6s o[;lpol. II. 13. 4 and 8, 4 and the Myov (mapa or the crntp~a TOO Myov iIlA/Jol.n,
13. 6, and 8, I: 'Whereas the Myov arropa or O'rr~p~a 'foO Myov represents what is drol'ped by the
Logos, the Myos umpllcxTIK6s is nothing but tbe divine Logos himself eugaged in n special acnvity.
Both Holte and Waszink have rightly pointed out thot tbe expression MyoS (:rTtep\.\aTl1<6S' Ulust he
interpreted In an active sense: the Logos, in tbe three passages guoted above, is repres(:l1tcd 1n the act
of "sowing" plillosopJ\icaJ doc.!rincs; the Gn:ek philosophcrs 3rt: the object 0'[ tim acuvlty, i.e. they
reccive what dIe Logos sows' (01" cit . 24). Por criLidsm ofHolt.c see LiIJ.a, 22. n. 4. With Pflittisch and
Waszink. Lilla me~s~ tllat ]USUlI asrurncd the presence ora pOI'noll of the Logos in moo, n ma tter
which Holte bas quesriop.ed . Lilla himself reJ1larks (ibid., 2J): 'TJle terms O"ITfPllo; 3!lQ o-rropa must
nccc~sarily hint at somcdlipg Wh ich is dropped by the clivJlIe principle nnd whkh, before being
drepped, is part of it.' According to' Lilla, it is iulpm:r:mt to note the conDccdon between O"ITEp~a,
Ilr~lwa, IlETovCJla and l'u~IlCJIS; 'I-Inman reason is rcpre~cnted a. a "seed", i.e. ns a particle of the
divine logos. and. in this seuse, it also partakcs of him (IlOTovala) 3ud.ishisimiration (>llll'llla. J,llllllaIS).
The underlying idea ofJmtin's sentence recalls bOthl?hilo'sintcrpretariollofthe exprcsSiOIl1XT' .h(6va
of Gen. 1. 26 and "7. accordfng to which human reason is a copy or image of the divine Logos. and
[be Pbtonic teaching whidl regarded rhe human v oil~ as a divine fragment.' This connectien with
"Philo is true cspcially for Apol. II, IJ. though according to Lilla the fact has beeJ1 m.issC:d by Holte and

Moses (Apol. I, 59, I; 60, I, 5-8). Moses is the first of the prophets, more
ancient than all the writers of the Greeks (Apol. I, 59, I). But the know-
ledge of the philosophers always remains a partial knowledge (ApoJ. 1, 44,
9-10; II, 10,2). This is all the more the case if the philosophers participated
in revelation by way of the demons (Apol. 1, 54, 2-4).194
From this point we can go on to investigate Justin's conception of the
person ofJesus Christ.
The Apologist finds in all men, even in pagans, part of the power of
the divine seed; the prophets of the Old Testament shared in it to an
exceptional degree. The Christian is endowed with the whole, personal
Logos; it dwells with the freedom of grace. Finally, in Christ we
have the supreme example of the conjunction of Logos and man. But
just at the point where Justin wishes to make clear the difference between
the presence of the Logos in Christ and all the previous stages, different
possibilities of interpretation seem to throw us up once more against the
unresolved dilemma. This is the case in this much-debated passage:
Our religioll is clearly more sublime than any teaching of mall for this reason, that the
Christ who has appeared [or llS men represents the Logos principle in its totality (TO
~OyIKOV 'ro OAOV), that is both body and Logos and soul. Por all that the philosophers and
legislators at any time declared or discovered aright they accomplished by investigation
and perception iu accordance with that portioll of the Logos which fell to their lot. But
because they did 110t know the whole of the Logos, who is Christ, they often contradicted
each other.19S

Some have found the wording here remarkable, and have made specu-
lations from it which would already presuppose a developed christology
iuJustin. 196 But C. Andresen points to the right way of illtetpreting the
passage. 197 He stresses that the subject of the sentence is a neuter (TO AOytKOV
TO OAOV) , and translates 'the whole Logos principle'. This principle is
Christ, 'who has appeared for us m en'. Justin means to give the Logos the
status of a cosmological principle. In this, he takes up the speculations of
the Platonist school about the Platonic world-soul and uses them as a
foundation for his teaching on the Logos sperl1latikos. According to the
Platonists, the world-soul is the principle at work in ordering the world,
both at creation and in sustaining the world. It has a rationalelement which
is termed No llS , Logos or even ft i\OYlK';. Now, according to Justin,
Christ as Logos has taken over the working of tllis cosmological principle.
In his incarnation he has appeared in history, as 'body and reason a.n d
soul'. This division, which is made after the same pattern as the trichotomy
of the Platonist school, expresses no more than the reality of the Logos as
194 Cf. N. Pycke, 'Connaissance rationelle et connaissance de grace chez s. Justin', EphThLov 37,
1961, 52-85.
Kcxt OWI!Cl KCXt Myov Kcxt 'lNxi)v.
196 A. Feder,Justins Lehre, 169, similarly G. Dardy, DTC 8, 2264.
197 Op. cit., 336-44.

a man in history. It as yet contains no speculation on the relationship of

Logos, soul and body in Christ. But in using the phrase Justin certainly
deliberately wishes to go beyond the Gohtemporary teaching on the Logos.
The doctrine of the Logos spermatikos is not merely taken in a cosmological
sense, but. is illcorpOJ.ated in ] Llstin'S framework of the history of revelation
in Christ. Whether with this framework he was sllccessful in obviating
completely the danger of a Hellenization of the Logos doctrine is another
question. Hellenistic cosmology and the Christian theology of history are
hard to unite in a valid synthesis. JLlstin' s honourable intention of assigning
first place in this synthesis to the Christian element is not to be doubted.
Not only does he put Christ in the Old and New Testament perspective
of prophecy and fulfilment, but he makes the Greek world and the history
of its thought into a prelude and a preliminary to Christianity.
Justin takes one further step forward as a theologian. He is to be of
great significance for the future of christological and trinitarian doctrine.
He lays the first foundations of the Logos theology and christology.l98
This will be examined further below.

(d) Melito of Sardis

Betweeu Ignatius and IrenaeLls thexe stands another significant figure
for the theology of the second cehtury-Melito of Sardis. I 99 According
to a remark of Bishop Polycrates quoted in Euscbius (HE V, 24, 5), he was
onf' of the 'great stars of Asia' and was regarded as a uotable champion of
the Godhead. and manhood of Christ (HE V, 28, 5). The God-man Jesus
is, according to the sources available to us, the dominant point of the
theology of the Bishop of Sardis. The stmggle against Gnosticism, and
especially against Marcion, must certainly be taken very much into ac-
count here. The divine-human being ofJ esus Christ is the guarantee of

19! See Dnni~lou rr. 345- 57-

199 cr. Ouo, CorpllJ Apolog.lX, 374-5; 497-5I2,; O. Peder, Melitoll de Sardes, Sur la Pdque. etfrag-
lIIellls, SC 123. Pa.ris 1966; C. BOllllcr, The I-Iom/(y ou the Passioll by Melilo Bishop of Sare/is, London-
Philadelphia 1940; n. Loh~c. Die Passn-Homi/ie des Bischofs Melito vall Sare/es, Leiden I9S8; M. Testuz,
Papyrus Bodmer XllJ. Mlliitoll e/e Sf/re/es. HOlilllie sur In Pdque, Bib!. Bodmer. 1960; H. Chadwick, 'A
LadllEpitome of Mclito's Ii'o mily 011 the Pascila',jrS H, 1960.76-82,; P. Na.llcin, Le dossier d'Hip-
polyle cr lie Mtflitoll, Par~ [953,43- 56. Nnutin is agaiust the auth,cnticity of the Peri Paschl\; so :tIready
RHE 44, 191f9. 4%9-38 ; for its authenticity, in addition to Bounc:r and Tcsnu: (p. zr). B. Pcterson, W.
Schllcemclcher, F. . ross , 'tIleEarly Cbris/itlll Fa/frers. London t9Cio, 104. EspacinLly as a result of tho
PIIPY"'S Bodmer, thc.rclsno need to mise further doubtS. There is DOW a Coptic and n Georgian ve~sion;
the latter is edited by J. N.Birdsall. 'Melito of Sardis TIEPI TOY. TIArXA in a Georgian. Version', MilS 80,
1967,12.1- [36 (the first half) and by M. van Esbrocck. 'Le traire sur In Paqllc de Meliton de Sardc:s en
geo rgi en', MilS 84, 1971. 373-94 (the second half). Further important new contrjbutions 'co the corpus
MoiilOlliQIIIU/1 are: M. van Esbroeck, 'Nouveaux fragments de MeHton de Surdes dam une homellc
georgienne sur la croix" AlialBoll I 90, 1972. 63-99 (Cod. A-I4t de TiJlli); M. Richard, 'Temoins
grecs des fragments XIII et xv de Meliton de Sardes" Mus 85, 1972, 309-36. According to M. Rich-
ard Ie cod. Tillis A-144, foJ., 208v and 2I2r-v 'donnent Ie debut ct l.a fiu d'une homiille sur la Croix
attribuee a S. Arhanasc:, dam Ie style CSt tout 11 [nit scmblable acelui de Meliton' (loc. cit., 3 I I, n.
IS). Of a special importance is the history of frng. XIII: 'Cc fragment s'est conserve en version syri-
aque dans la parti"C du cod. Londres. British Museum, Addit. 12. 156 connue sous Ie titre "Florilege
d'Edesse", sa. public3tion sous ce titre par r. Rucker en 1933 [F/ori/egium Edessenum allonymum

our salvation and of man's return to his original home with God. Begin-
ning with the Exodus account of the passover feast in Egypt and the
freeing of Israel (Exod. 12. 1-42), the newly discovered work (homily?)
develops a view of salvation history a~ comprehensive as that ofIrenaeus.
The differe11ces are, of course, unmistakable. Melito achieves his universal
view by beginning the history of man in the height ofparadise and making
it end once again with God. From soteria, the divine security in the height
of paradise. man has fallen into the apoleia of this world and under the
tyranny of hamartia. both of which deliver hin1 to death and to the depths
of Hades. Israel's servitude in Egypt is a real sign of this reality. But the
turning point comes through Christ, in that the mystery of the new
passover was fulfilled in the body of the Lord (no. 56). Now this mystery
was already unfolding in the old covenant, in the patriarchs, the per:secuted
prophets and in the whole people of Israel as the type of the suffering
Messiah, in the Easter lamb. and in the destroying angel which smote
Egypt and delivered Israel (nos. 57-60). So Christ was foreshownjll 'type'.
The prophets proclaimed the coming Christ ill 'word' (nos. 61-5). Finally.
by taking to himself a body that could suffer, Christ has brought salvation
(no. 66). This all-prevailing christocentOcity is exhibited in a whole series
of new attempts, and the preparation for the coming of Christ is pointed
out in all the events and persons of the salvation history, In the end,
Christ appeared. as true man and died the death of the cross (nos. 67-7I).
In tllli deadl we have. the new passover mystery (nos. 72-100) : 0 escs
1TE<p6vEU'Tat. 'God' himself has been killed at the hand of Israel (no, 96).200
(syri:lte :lllte 562): SBMlinchAk, 1933, 12-16). II est illtitule J\IJe/i/ollis tpiscopi Sllrdillm ex (melli/II De
IIlIlmll e/ corpore ctsc compose de demrpartics separecs par E I POSI A 1111. II est m:w.ltcn:mt bien c[abli qlL'il
fait partie de la dC$ccndance litteraire du unite lTepl IfIVXi'j~ Kal a<=lllcrros de M cliton m OIlOOllne par
Euscbe, Hist. Ecd. IV, 26, l. ~See W . Schneemclchcr, 'Dcr Scrmo "De /Ulima ct corpore" ein Werk
Alexanders von Alexnndrien?, Festscllrift! GUm/,er Ddlll, Ncukirehen 1957, tr!)--Ln; O. Pecicr,
'Redicrchcs sur Ie Peri P35cbCl de Mclitou', RSR 51, 1963, 407- 21".1 Lcs aut res temoins derives du
tex te original pCl'du sont ulle homClie syrinquc Dc Ilulma et corl/ore dcqllc p"sslolIC Domllli a[tribu ~e 11
Alexandre d'Alcxnruiric [= A. Mni, Nova .Bibliothec:a Patronl, 2, Rome. r884, 531- 9 =PG
18, 586-604, avec version latine, d'aprcs le cod. Vat. syr. 368; .. . E. A. Wallis Budge, Coptic Homi/ie s
ill tile Dill/tel of Upper Egypt, London 1910, 407-(5, Coptic text; 417-24, English vcts"ionj. l'A d-
ditalllelll/llll anonymc qui suit certe homtllic d:ms Ie cod. Vat. syr. )68 et se rctrallve d nns Ie florilcge
d'Edcsse. cettc fois sousle nondAle,ul1drc, uue homelio copte "concerning the soul and the body"
3ttribuce 11 At.hannse d'Al=drie ct editee par E. A. W allis B udge [op. cit., IIS-P, avec version
auglaisc, 258-74J, et une homelie grccque sur b, resurrection :ltrribuce tantlle S. Epiphanc, lantat
11 S. J<:.111 Chrysostome. dout Ie textc original :I ~te p ublic pour ]" premiere fois pnr M P. Nautin
[op. cit., 155-59]. Enfin Ie R. P. M. van Esbroeck vient de dccouvrir dans Ie cod. Tillis A-t44, fol.
209r- 2IIV. Ia version gcorgienne d'une homClie apparcnrce nux precedentes er dlrectemctlt Ir.Iduite
du g~c (Ann/Boil, lac. dt.J. Celle- i est OlalhcurcscOlcnt mutilee au debut ct II 13 fin. lI\JIis semble
etre Ie meilleur tenloill.du textc original de Mclitoll. Le debut, lignes 1-29, et la fill, Iignes T91-23~,
sont cnticrcment nouveaux c[ ccrtn.incment authcn.riqllcs. La partie medhllle, malgre quclquC$
laculLcs, PCollcttra de mettre de l'o(drc daJlsles llutres temoiru, . .' (M. Ridlllrd, Joe. ck, 3Iaf.) . .For
the christology of Melito see R. Cantal:lnlcssa, 'Melitol' de S3rdes. Vue christologie 3ntignostique
du U" siec\c', RevSR 37, 1963, 1-26. l"or bibliography see R. Maiub. 'MeJiton vall Sardcs. Bi ne
bibliographi5che Obersicht', Claretllllllllll 5, 1965, 22.5-55; for later publications sec Kyrillkoll.
Festschdft Johannes Quasten, ed. P. Granfield and J. A. Jungmnnn, MUlllIter f970, 2J6- 65.
200 C. DorUlcr, op. cit., 19, sces modaliHn already expressed in such expressions, But there is Ilothing
morc th:lIl the prllecliclltio WOllin/lilli, wh.ich w~s already very widespread in the seconu Century. R.
CanWnmessll, art. cit., 4-II, dtalx with the qucstion of.modnliSUl (nlonarchiauiSm) ntlcngth (Melito

What Israel refused its king, unreasoning llature, the earth, with its
quakings, supplied (nos. 93-9). In conclusion, the peroration shows
Christ's victory over Death, Hades and Satan. Man is led by Christ to the
heights of heaven from which he had once been cast d.own. There Christ
himself sits at tbe right hand of the Father. So the mystery of redemption
has been fulfilled (nos. IOI-5).~ol
Melito's doctrine ofredemption is based on his conception ofehe clivine-
human being of Jesus. ill it, strong emphasis is laid on the reality of the
incarnation and the completeness of Christ's human nature. This presenta-
tion is certainly governed by an anti-docetic, anti-Gnostic tendency.202
According to Anastasius Sinaita, Melito wrote against Marcion LUlder the
title Tl'epl O"CXPKOOo"EVJ) XplO'TOV (PG 89, 229). Marcion denied that either
the birth or the flesh of Cluist was real. For him it was a 'phantasma' .2 03
Agaimt tlus Melito asserts an 'aphantaston' (= no 'phantasma' = real),
and does so in the very work mentioned by Anastasius Sinait3, the De
il1camatione (PG 89, 228). Here Melito even speaks of the 'perfect man'
(&v6pooiToS Ti\SIOS) , a 11 XI ression whicb, of course, only becolllcs frequent
later, in t] e 3llti-Apollinarian controversy. Jt d es, howe~ r, already occur
in Hippolytlls (c. Noetliitl 17) and does so in the same connection as in
Melito. Whell Melito stresses the birth from the womb of the virgin (in
virgine illcamat"s), his intent is also anti-Gllostic. He is possibly thinking
of Valentinus, w ho ascribed a spiritnal body to Christ, and, while allowing
it to go cluough the virgin, did not allow it to be begotten of her (tralls-
rneatorio potius quam gel1Crntorio more, as Tertullian, Adv. Valent. 27, I, put
To give clear expression to his conviction of the real incarnation of
Christ, Melito also enriches termillology.20', He takes up
biblicallmagery and (like the two anti-Gnostics, Tel'tullian and H!ppo-
lytus) is fond of talking about 'ifJdllere (indutus) /to/nit/em', presumably to
avoid the possibility of a false interpretation of the Johannine 'Verbum caro
fact/lm est'. The Logos 'wove' (texuit) himself Ius garment (frag. XIV).
Most significant of all is the shaping of words and coucepts like incarnatus-
incamatio (O"cxpKoo6E(S-o-CxPKCt.'lCnS), corporatio-corporatus. Almost at the same
time, Justin forms the expression O"CXPKOiTOIT)6eis (Apol. 1, 32) surely in
connecti n with John . 14. HipF lytus too speaks of the 'testimonies of
tlie incarnation of Cluist' (rrepl O"CXPKOOO"ECt.'lS TOW i\6yov IJ.CXP'TVp(CXI, C.
fits completely imo the framework of the doctrine of the Apologists concerning the functions of the
Logps and his issuing from the r'3ther); ibid. 24-5 (ref. to fragm. in Anastas. Sin., PG 89, 197); ibid.,
24-6 on the pm~dlcatro Ii/Iomarllw i.n Melito.
201 Cf. O. Feder. Bill Hy/lllluS zur Ostervigil VOII Melito/!, Fribourg 1960. lfthe hymn discussed here
can be accepted as original, there would be an interesting continuation of Me/ito's doctrine of redemp-
tion in eccJesiology (bdcle-tnysticism).
201 As R. Cantalamessa well indicates from the sources. art cit., 14-18.
103 C Tertullian, De carne Christi I, 2; Adv. Marcioll. III, 10, II; IV, 7, 1-5; III. 8, I (passages in
Cantalamessa, 16; also for the following details).
204 Cf. R. Cantalamessa, art. cit., 18-24.

Noetllnl 16). 1f the doctrine of the corporeality of God could have been
ascribed to Melito, as Tertullian assumed under Stoic in.fJ.uence, this would
be because the title of his work TIEp\ tvO"w~6:Tov eeov was translated
'De "eo corpo/'co' or was understood to refer to tlle corporeality of God
(Origen. in Theodoret, PG 80, I13). In fact, Melito uses corport/fus for
l1carnatus. So the title which Eusebius (HE IV, 26, 2) gives has been better
translated De Deo corpore lnduto (PG 5.1202). Melito's very doctrine of tlle
incarnation is enough to rob the charge made against him, that he taught
the corporeality of God, of any force: 'Propter hacc l1CtiU ad 110S, propter
h.acc CUI1l sit incorporeus (aO"oo~<XTOS), corpl/s ex jorl1latione nos/ra texuit sibi'
(frag. XIV). A quotatioll from Melito in Ps. Cyprian, Adv. IHdaeos, says
the same thing: Hic est tjf./; i1'1 virgifle corporatus est.
Melito's anti-docetism also led to an antithetical stressing of the divine
and human reality of Christ similar to that which we have already noticed
in Ignatius. The terms used are corpus (caro) and Spiritus. Papyrus Bodmer
offers us a new example of this:
Etant arrive des cieux sur la terre en faveur de celu_i gui sou ffi-a it, et ayaut rcvetu
celui-ci meme par la Vierge Marie, et ctant appnru comme Ull homme, il prit sur lui les
souffrances de celui qui souffrait, par son corps capable de sOltfirir, et mit Bn aux souffrances
de la chair. Et par son Esprit qui ne pouvait mourir, il tua la mort tueuse d'hollunes.20S
On the basis of a certain textual tradition Melito could be credited with
a signIDcant step in the direction of a more teclmical terminology for the
doctrine of the two natures. This would only be tlle case, however, if the
text transmitted by Anastasius Sinaita (= frag. VI, Otto and Peder) were
genuine. In reality, however, it comes fromtlle time of the Diphysite
controversies. Nevertheless, the text is worth mentioning, insofar as it was
possible to attribute it to Melito:
eEOS yap v w6~ov 7E Kcd &v6pc.mos 7EAEIOS
o cxV-ros 7as Bvo cxV-rov ouO"lexs hnO""TooO"<XTo ~~iV.206
More in keeping with Melito's time is a sentence which he wrote in the
Peri Pascha and which can be regarded as a summary of the second-century
doctrine of the divine-human being of Christ: 'Buried as a man, he rose
2el Melito, Peri Pasdl(l 66: Pcdcr, SC 12). 96-7; Testuz, 38f.; DOIU1CJ', 131 (lacuna). This text is illl-
pormnt, because it proves that Melito belongs to the type of 'pncUlIla-sarx-christruog y'. See M.
Simonetti, 'Note di cristologia pri'cwnatica', Aug 12, 1972, 201-23; R. Cantah\lnessa, '1.11 primitiva
exegcsi ct:istologica dl "Ro11lani" I, 3-4 et "Lucan I, 35', Rillisln (/1 Slprin e Lc/(erarwn religlosa 2.
1966, 69-80. If the nbovc-lllentiol;lcd Gcor,gi~I, Syri, c and Copdc dcri VMiollS of the Melitonian
T",crnll4S de /llIllIIa ('1 corpore rotain genuine formulas of MeHto himself, thell the interpretation of the
de~ccllt into hell would be a confinl1ation or this 'pn<:uma-snrx-christology'. The tbree versions have
the idea of a 'pneuma-descensus', that is of a descensus of the Godhead of Jesus. There is no mention
of Christ's human soul. This is all important prelude-to the idea of the 'Lo~os-dcsccnstlS'. For :I full
discussion of this. descensus text, with an intcrpretati on of the Gcorglan tex t diffhcriI: from that
given by M. van Esbroeck in AJla/Bol/ 90, 1972, 78-9, 12, see A. Grillmcicr. I'vili III/II IIl/d III ill/II,
Frciburg 1975, Part 1,2: 'Der Gottessohn im Totenrclch'.
206111 Anastas. Sin., Viae dux 13: PG 89, 229AB; O. Perler, SC 123, 126-7, regards the text as
genuine. Against A. von Harnack, P. Nautin, Le dossier (see above, n. 199), 84, denied its authenticity;
so too now does M. Richard in Mus 8S, 1972, 310.

from the dead as God, being by nature God and man (cpVC1El 6eos oov Kal
av6PWlTOS)'.207 'Nature' (physis) still, of course, has no philosophical sense;
it simply means 'real', 'true', like the alethos in Ignatius of Antioch.
(e) Irenaeus of Lyons
Now that lrenaens scholarship has OllCC again c me back to recognizing
the inner uruty of the theology of the Bishop ofLyons20R after the separa-
tist source-criticism ofF. Loofs,209 the recognition of his significance for
the history of early Christian theology is also increasing. O. Cull mann
could write:
Down to the theologians of the 'redemptive history' school in the ninteenth century
.. there has scarcely been another theologi:m who has recognized so dearly as did
lrenaeus that the Christian proclamation stands or falls with the redemptive history, that
this historical work ofJesus Christ as Redeemer forms the mid-point of a line which leads
from the Old Testament to the return of ChriSt. 2IO
Only through such a universal view could he be a match for the
Gnostics and set up against the fantasies of his Gnostic-docetic opponents
as successfully as Ignatius of Antioch an interpretation of Christian doc-
trine understood ill the light of the whole of Christian experience. The
Valentinians, too, knew of a planned ordering of salvation, an 'oikotlomia'.
But they excluded the flesh from it. So it was not the whole man that was
the object of the saving work from above. Nor is it an ordering of
salvation that could comprehend the whole ofhuman history. The Gnostics
reject the Old Testament. They '\lsify Christian eschatology. By holdillg
fast to the historical revelation of the Old Testament, which for him is
fulfilled in the New Testament. Irenaeus avoids the fantasies of Gnostic
specnlaciolls. 2L1
Three figures among the Gnostics stand out especial1y: Basilides,
Valentinus and Marcion, though, of course, completely different influ-
ences were at work among them. In Valentinus' system, God above is
separated from the world below by the Pleroma, a mid-world built up
in a complicated way. Between the lower alld the upper world (Pleroma),
a drama of salvation is played out, a drama which is to liberate the clivine
201 Melito, Peri Pascha 8: BOMer, 89, 168; Testuz, 33f.
208 See the surveys of the present state oflrcnacus scholanhip: W. VOlker, TilLZ72 , 1947, 17(}-3;
A. Benoit, Saint Irenee. Introduction l't!tude du $/1 tlllfologle. Paris 1960, 9-44; cf. the bibliography,
2S7--<.i2.-G. N. DOnwetscb, Die Theologle des frwael/s. Giltersloh t9;1.5; A. Houssiau, Ln clIT/stologie de
St. fr':/II!~, Louvain 1955: M. Widmann, 'Ircnaus und s!!inc theologi~chen Vater', ZTIzK 54. 1:957.
156- 73; A. Brngsch, Hdlsgcsch/chtt IIlId HellMlssclI. Eille UntersuchulIg Zltr StrukllIT IIlld ElIljalrutlg des
theolog/schell DellNells illl Werk '.AI/venlls Hacrcses' des hI. Iren. v. L., Leipzig 1957; G. Wing~cn.l\ffall aud
tile TIICllmalioll, Edinburgh. and London 1959; G. T. Armstrong, Die Gellesis, 52-92. For Gnosticism
and irenacl1.'l: F. Saguard . O.P., Lq G'lose Va /clilin/entle, Paris 1947. 55-80; E. C. Blackmann, Marc/Oil
alld llis fujll/ ellce, Lon.don 1949; A. J3cngscb. op. cit.
lOP P. Loofs. TltcoJillillls 11011 AlIi/DClJiel! Advers/Is Marciollem und die anderetl Ihe%gisc/letl Quellett be;
lrcllaeus (TU 46, ~), Leipzig 1930.
'2.10 O. Culhl1.1l1n, Gllrist alUl TIllie, London 19622 , 56-7.
2/1 Cf. G. T. Armstrong, op. cit. 60.

spark imprisoned in man. Christ is an aeon, who descends to red.eem

man. 212 This Christ of the upper world unites himself to the Jesus of the
lower world, who is not, however, the Christ of the gospels. FOt" any
union of the divine with the material is unthinkable, as the latter is
radically evil. The words and actions of the earthly Christ are no more
than signs of the realities which are being played out in the upper world
of 'middle-beings'. Salvation does not consist in the return of the earthly
and visible world and of fallen man, body and soul. to God, but only in
the return of the fallen divine <fragment' to divinity. This returnis effected
by knowledge. The Ptolemaeotls, who developed from the Valenti..,ians,
wished to make a complete fragmentation of Christ by assigning different
subjects to the dHferent sayings of the Joharuliue prologlle. One was the
Logos, one the Only- begotten. another the Saviour, another the Christ.
Marcion is characterized by an extreme dualism. In rus 'Al1titheses', in com-
plete contradiction to the Christian tradition from which he came, he
assumed the existence of two gods, one of the Old Testament and another
of the New. Jesus Christ is the SOl1 of the God of the N ew Testament,
but is seen by Mardon in an almost modalistic nearness to the Father.
Jesus is the good God in perSOll, clothed in the form of a man. He need
only lay this aside to become once again pure Godhead. If we take into
consideration Marcion's condemnation of marriage and intercourse,
corporeality aud matter, it is possible to understand his christological
docetism. Tbis, however, is not carried through to its logical condu ions.
For finally Jesus dies a real death on the cross, by which he redeelill men
from the Creator God and his domination-the God whose work Christ
had come to destroy.
Against these powerful new attacks on the 'subst{/ntia domini lIostri', as
Irenaetls puts it, it was his task not so much to put forward anything new
as to preserve the depositulI/ fidei. This means above all the emphasizing of
the true incarnation of Jesus Christ and the true historicity of his act of
redemption. But at the same time this true Chr-ist, God and man, must
be made the embodiment and the rea l centre of'tmity' against all dua lism
in the cosmos and ill history. This aU had to be proved. from scripture (that
is from the Old Testament, read from a christological stalldpoint.tIJ and
from the New Testament) and from tradition.
After this brief description of the material and formal characteristics of
Irenaeus' theology, botb must be discussed in rather more detail. We turn
first to the fomlal means Wit.l1 which Ircnacu.~ works.
With the theologians of the second century, and above all Justin,
Irenaeus seeks to utilize the Old Testament in accordance with the CO'1tent
of the church's regula fidei.
212 F. M. M. Sagnard. Gllose Valelllillielllte. 387-415.
213 A. Benoit, Saini Irenee, 74-I02; G. T. Armstrong, Die Genesis, 52, 60.

The most varied passages fron Genesis are expoullded in a Christian way and find aJ1
appropriate pl~ce ill Irerraeus' th(:JUght. The chief emphasis is placed 011 Gen. I-3, three
chapters which are fundam.ental for Irerraeus' doctrine of redemption. III comparisol1 with
Justin, these chapters arc given a very full, independellt treatment, whereas for the
exposition of the later cbptcrs many thoughts are taken ever dJrecti y from Justill.214
he choice of the chapters and passages to be discrlSsed is governed by
the struggle against the Gnostics. Thns those passages of Genesi became
most important which could serve to lay a basis for the theological
conception which fr nacus wanted to advance against these opponents.
So, for example, all the individual details of the Fall are expounded,
although not all serve as the starting POillt for theological reflection in the
same way. Irenael1S is also associated withJl1stin in his rich use of typology.
Through the e.-xpress subordination f this typology to the idea of a plan
of salvation, however. his work takes 011 a special charactc . in comparison
with that of his cxemplar. Both have the basic principles of typ J gical
exposition in COl1Ullon: 'Nihil enim vaeUl/m, ncqllc sinc sigllo apud Dei/m'
(Ada). Haer. IV, 21, 3 fin.). If anyone reads the scriptures carefully, he will
find in them mention of Christ and the prefiguration (pmejrgHratiollelll) of
the new c.tIling. 'Ilie est cnim thesl11oll'us abseonsus iI" agro . . ., abseonsNs vero
in Scriptllris thesaunls Christus, 1'lOnitll71 per typos et part/bolas sign.i}icabatur'
(ibid., IV, 26, r).
Ireoaeus' christology, moreover, shows how .firmly he is tied to tradi-
tiOll, especially to the tradition of Asia Minor and of Rome, because the
church ofLyon,s and IrenaCtlS himself were closely connected with them.2lS
A clear attcmpt can certainly be found in his work at a distinction between
siml?le belief and theological speculation. In his struggle against the
Gnostics he does not go neady so far as to reject any investigation into the
truth or any attempt at the deepening of belief, but he understands more
clearly than do the Apologists and the Alexandrians that investigation
into the truth must be illuminated by the light of Christ.
'Autremcnt dit, Irence ne con~oit pas Ie travail du theologien comme une rcflexion
personelle sur Ic C()ntcull de ]a revclatiollou meme comme une critique de la predication
de l'Eglise apartir de cette revelation, mais il cont;:oit Ie travail dl1 theologien comme un
expose de la foi avec l'aidc de tolltc$lcs donnees traditionelles, de tout l'apport du passe

For him this was especially Justin, Papias, T11eophilus of Antioch, the
Presbyters and John (the prologue ofhls gospel I). Non-Christian elements
fmd no place in his underst. uding of Christ (c Adv. Hacr. I, ro, I- 3). He
i:> not a philosopher as his master Justin was, but above all a biblical
theologian, 'the nrst deliberately biblical theologian of the Christian
chUIch',2J7 and an interpreter of the traditional creed. Precisely for his
214 G. T. Armstrong, Die Genesis, 89. 215 A. Benoit, Saint lrenee, 47-73.
216 Benoit, op. cit., 1.18.
217 G. T. Armstrong, Die Genesis, 52 (after H. Frill. v. Campenhausen); see]. Lawson, The Biblical

main themes, the unity of the Father, the unity of Christ and the unity of
the oikonomia, he begins directly from the credal formulas, which he knew
particularly in their Eastern forms. 218 So as witness to the 'one' faith he
could become the starting point for further development.
Against the Gnostic dissolution and separation of God and the world,
against the division of Christ, of man and of salvation history, Irenaeus
now resolutely sets the idea of the unity of God, Christ and salvation.219
In this connection, he develops the idea of a universal oikonomia. Presum-
ably tradition already provided him with this concept, as a concept
fundamentally orientated on the coming of Christ. Irenaeus preserves the
christocentcicity of this traditional concept, but extends it so that it has
universal scope. Oikonomia now embraces both creation and the end, and
puts the Christ-event in the middle. 22o Creation, the incarnation of
Christ, redemption and resurrection belong together as diflcrent parts of
the one a II-embracing saving work of God. The significance of anakephalai-
osis in Irenaeus must also be assessed in the light of the idea of the
oikonomia. The anakephalaiosis as an act of Christ is the special contribution
which Christ makes to the realization of the one oikonomia of the Father
in Christ and the Spirit. True, Christ is already revealed and prefigured
in the Old Testament and is thus already an object for the faith and hope
of the men of the Old Testament. And in the New Testament, something
new has been brought by the real coming of Christ, which enriches the
knowledge of faith: ' ... in novo Testamento ea, quae est ad Deum, fides
hominum aucta est, additamentum accipiens FiliunJ Dei, ut et homo fieret
particeps Dei' (Adv. Raer. IV, 28, 2). Nevertheless, this new thing of the
New Testament is only really there as a result of the recapitulatio brought
about in Christ, as Adv. Raer. III, 16,6 shows. The whole order of salva-
tion, which finds its climax in the incarnation of Christ (with his passion,
his resurrection, his coming again and the resurrection of the flesh and the
revelation of salvation) is said to lead to this recapitulatio in Christ:
There is therefore ... one God the Father, and one Christ Jesus our Lord, who came
by means of the whole dispensational arrangements and gathered together all things in
himself. But in every respect, too, he is man, the formation of God: and thus he took

Theology of Saillt Ireuaeus, London 1948, II 5-291 (for critics see A. Benoit, op. cit., 4, n. 5); G.
Bentivegna, 'Criteriologia de S. Ireneo per una indagine sul mistero della Salvessa', OCP 26. 1960,
218 Benoit, op. cit . 209-12 (Adv. Haer.); 234-50 (Epld.).
219 See the good collection of texts in Benoit, op. cit., 204, n. I.
220 Ibid., 219-27; A. D'AIes, 'Le mot olKovol'la dans la langue theologique de Saint Irenee',
RevEtGrec 32, 1919, 1-9; T. L. Verhoeuven, Studiell over Tertullia~lUs' Adversus Praxeall, Amsterdam
1948; O. LiUge, Das patrlstische Wort olKovol'la; seille Geschichte und seille Bedeutullg bls auf Orlgelles,
Theol. Diss. ErIangen 1955; M. Widmann, Der Begr!lJ olKovol'la 1m Werk des Irelliius ulld seille
Vorgeschichte, Theol. Diss. TUbingen 1956; J. Reumann, The use of oikonomia and related terms III Creek
sources to about AD 100, as n backgrolllld for palrlstic appllcatiolls, T heol. D iss. Univ. of Pennsylvania,
Univ. microfilms, Aun Arbor, Michigan 1957: id., ' "Stewards of God"-pre-Christi311 religious
application of Oikollol/los in Greek',jJJL 77, t958, 339-49; H. Thurn, OIKONOlVCL1 11011 der friilJ-
byzalltlnischen Zeit bis ZUlli B;lderslreit, Phil. Diss, MUnchen 1960, 36-126.

up man into himself, the inv.isible becoming visible, the incomprehensible being made
comprehensible, the Impassible becom.iJ1g capahle of suffering, and the Word being made
man, thus summing up all things iJ1 himself: so that as in super-Gelestial, spiritual and
invisible things, the Word of God is supreme, 50 also in things visible and Co[po~"Cal he
IDight possess the Sllpremacy, and, taking to him.self the pre-eminence, as well as COIUti-
tutmg himself head of the church, he might draw all things to himself at the proper time.
Just as in the invisible world the Logos is already the head of all being
created through him, so now in the incarnation he becomes head of the
visible and corporeal world, and above all the head of the church, so
drawing everything to himself This represents at the same time a recapitu-
lation of creation and above all of fallerLAdru.n, i.e. a renewing and saving
permeation of the whole history of the world and of mankind by 'Christ
the Head'. from its beginning to its end.221 In this way the world, history,
man are all brought to their climax, but at the same time they are also
brought back by Christ to their princjple, to God. The whole of God's
previous work through the Logos in the world and to men is concentrated
(~v cruvTOP({) in the incarnation of Christ; it reaches its fullness and now
in Christ fills the whole of the world and the whole ofhistory.222
We hcwe now shown to some degree the theological framework into
which Irenacus inserts his picture of Christ. It is with Ignatius above all
that he is agreed in empharuring the unity of Christ. He uses a phrase
which will occur some seven times even in the Chalcedonian Defmition,
'Christ, one and the same' (ets Ked 6 CXv-r6S).223 The support of its strength
is to prove itself over and over again in disputes over the description of the
unity of person in Christ. Over against the fourfold 'MAOS' of the Ptole-
maeans Irenaeus puts a sevenfold 'ToiiTOV' to emphasize the self-sameness
of the one subject of all the names which the Johannine prologue gives to
Christ. 224 The Gnostic struggle may not have been concerned with the
same inner problems of the unity of Christ's person as were at the root of
the dispute with Nestorius-the Gnostic destruction of unity in Christ is
much more radical and is taken into the context of a much l:~.rger system-
but as the church makes her defence, formulations already emerge which
are to be re-echoed in the later stmggles.22S

221 On the concept of mrnkcplralaiosis in Irenaeus see: G. T. Armstrong, Die CClltSis, 63- 7 (the pres-
ent state of scho.larship) ; A. Houslilu, La C!irist%gie de Saillt Irenee, LUllv:un-Gumbloux (955. :016-
:04; Benoit, op. cit., 1.25- 7: B. Reyndcts, Lexiqlle compare du texte grec et des VUS/OIIS lntillc, mlllJllieune e/
syriaque de I' 'AtlverSlls !,aereses' de sailll lrlll/!e (CSCO, Subsidia 5-6), s. v. rccapirlllati'o, recap itlllo.
222 Cf. Houssiau, op. cit., :0:00 (la concision').
223 C Benoit. op. cit., :01:0-14.
224 Iren. Adv. Haer. I, 9, 2: III, 16,2: sed et Matthaeus ullum et eUlldel11Jesum Christum cognoscens .. ;
III, 16, B.
'Us Ltcn . Ad". H"acr. 1Lf, 16, 9 : si cllim alter quidem passus est, alter autem impassibilis mansit; et alter
q"irlcm /lalllS est, alIef /lero itl 6"111, qui natus est, descendit, et rursus relinquit eum, non unus, sed duo mon-
S(ra"tur. J3ecawe of his clear recognition of the unity in Christ despite a differentiation of the natures,
Ircnneus can make n good distinction between the two births (III, 19, 2), interpret the name Christ
(1rI, IB, 3). and keep apart Logos, humanity, and the grace of the Spirit given to the assumed human
nature (OI, 9, 2-3).

In his fight to describe the unity in Christ, Irenaeus developed a singu-

larly concrete kind of language which has therefore a remarkably
'Nestorian' ring. Slich a mixture of'w1itive' and 'devisive' christology is
to meet us still more frequently. It should arouse no suspicions of adop-
tionism or 'Nestorianism'. Theologica11anguage is still for a long time to
lack the more refined means of expressiol~ of a later age. 226
Now the unity which frenaeus defends is the conjunction of Logos and
flesh in Christ. As might be expected, it stamps his teaching as a christology
concerned with the Logos and with unity. Yet his Logos concept betrays
less of the influence of the Greek philosophers than does that of the
Apologists before him and, still more, that of the Alexandrians after him.
Nevertheless, all the delight in the Logos which characterizes the second
century, and above all Justin, lives again in him. In his view, the incarna-
tion is merely the conclusion in an immense series of manifestations of
the Logos which had their beginning in the creation of the world.227
Irenaeus, however, sees the incarnation as a unity of Logos and flesh
held together in a tension similar to that which will appear later, in an
in tensified form, in Athanasius. There is sure! y some dependence l1ere. The
concern in the one writer as in the other is with the resurrection of the
human body, which in Christ has become a participant in the life-giving
divine power through its wlioll witl1- the Logos. For this reason it is the
flesh in particular which is mentioned as being that part of man which is
in need of redemption, though in Irenaeus, as in Athanasius, the whole
man is understood to be destined for salvation. 228 But because in the
struggle with Gnosticism the flesh of man stands so much in the fore-
ground, Irenaeus frequently speaks as though Christ consisted only of
Logos and sarx. Yet h.e certainly does not deny tl1e soul of Christ.:m His
is a theology of antithesis, which lets the glory of the divine Logos become
visible simply by joining it to its most extreme opposite, the sinful
~44 Ircn . Adv. Haar. v, 14, I: Pau1 frequently 5p~'aks of the flesh and blood of Christ '"ti homillelll eills
slatllere"; V, :u. l (on the redecmcr's'strugg lc with Satan) 'f".~ilillllm wlII/,omo eills ct legis trmlsgrcssarem,
et aposlntam Dei os/em/ells, postra ialll VablHlI COII.rtnllltr Clml w/llgavlt'. This sentence bean the strong'cst
rcscmblanGc to a 'd ivisive' theology. DlJt evetl F. Loafs, T/ltop lli/IIS, lP. n. S, concedes that there i~ no
morc beh.ind tnis than n concrete way ofsp~:tki!lg which docs nOl as yet know the nbs tracts 'Godllcnd',
'manhood'. Cf. TortuUian. Ad". PraxenlJl 30 (on Matt. :1.7.46)-on the othol: b.:tnd the exchmge of
pred icates (colf/mllll/callo idlomntl/lll) in IrcnaclJS shows that he quite clearly maintains the unity of
subject in Christ: Apll. Haer. ILl, 19, I, MY05 Oc<pKcweEt5.
mlren., Adll. Hoer. m. 18, 3: cE. J. ubreton, Trill/Ie n, 590-60J, ou the relationsh.ip between
lrcnacus ;lIld the Apologists. In IrcnnClIs, uullke rhe Apologists , the theolog y ofrhe rhcophanicsis not to show rhc distinction between Father and SOil, but to prove against Ma~cion rho unity of the
divine plnn of revelation which culminates in the incnt"tLntion. Cf. Adv. Haer. IV, 20.
~* Iren ., AdJ'. fiaer. V, 9, I: 'perfeCtl,IS /r omo tOIlSl<lt, came QJr/",o eI splritll: el II/Iero qr'Jiaem sa/vallIe cl
jiglrrarlte, qui cst Spirillls; ailero quod Imilllr (Iformalllr, qlloil tSI caro i It! vero quod illter haec ul dllO, quot! ('SI
mrlma . . .' The 'SpirilJJs' is the spirit ofgl'ncc whicll is iluhosc who walk by c:arthly lusts. This
anthropology is opposed to the Gnostic teaching of SCIllD/I spir;tltn/e. i.e:. that 'fragment' by virtue of
which they tLlought themselves superior to othors. TI\c s.ignifll:ancc of the: Logos m. de flesh for the
whole Ircn ncan anthropology is Doticenb lc.
229 Iren., Arlv. Haer. 111, ;U, I. There only the h\UllID sou'l is explicitly mentioned. but it implicitly
refers to tho 501,1 of Christ also.

corruptible flesh of man. Coming generations of the church's writers are

to take more and more notice of this conjunctioll of Logos and flesh begwl
by Irenaeus, already following in the footsteps of the Apologists. We find
ourselves at the Erst beginuings of a great soteriological concept, whose
developments in the christological sphere ar.e to make further special
demands on our attelltion. 2lO The essential point is, however, that the
Logos is in a living relationship to the flesh he has assumed. 231 The coming
periods of christology were to be deeply concerned in this lUlity of life.
The Apologists and Irenaetls laid the foundations for their results.


This survey of the growth of chcistology in the second cen tUL-Y could
certaiuly have probed deeper. It has, however, been made as wide as it is
to show how the second centw-y is a link between the aposto]jc age and
the emergence of the christologicalproblem proper and t make clear its
theological significance. This significance seems to us to lie in the following
I. Nourished completely by the tradition of the prinutive church, its
interpretation of the Old Testament, and more and more too by the
express use of the writings of the New Testamen't, this cenmry
belief in Jcsus Chri t as true God and true 111.30 and belief in the one Christ
prevail with equal weight in totally different stratq of church life. Jewish
Christians and Gentile Christians, popular christology and already more
eminent spirits like Ignatius of Antiocll, Justin and Ircnaeus, put forward
the same faith. in Christ, despite all the differences. This faith sought
expression in doctrine, in creed and ill picrure.2J2 The struggle against the
docetists and the adoptionists gives rise to stronger stress 011 the Godhead
and the manhood in Christ. The dispute with Gnosticism brings quite
dearly into sight. the basic features of the salvation history and the
Christian rcdeemer-Egure.
Jl~ Note the richness of !.hel~Jlguage whioh !rcl1acus uscs to describe the ciJ'cumstances of the
conjwlction of God and man in Christ. IV, 33,4, OEOS EX(.o)p~el1 (5 IXv6p(O)lTov; cf.l1tcr Metbodius of
Olympus, Symposium 3, 4. 1ll,16. 6; the only-begotten Logos. ullited and interspersed iu his creation
(collspnr.,,/s, ,reck perhnps a\J\'o-rrap\.llvo~); m, 10, ~ 'Verbutll D c; qllod /tallilauil hi !rpmflle' ; IV, :ao, 4
'Com",ixlio cl (Olll!lllm;V Dtf e/ IlOmillf!'; IV, 33, 11 Ev(o)al5 'ToO Myov'Taii e.ou lTPOS 'TO lTMxaj.lq
cWroO. The doublc ph~~s, lik<: commixtio t l comllllm/v, camm ,mio (/ ",,/MS, Ili/""Iio el 'QIIII!lIlIIio. are
both o(Christ and ofChrisfinns to cxpre$$ thcir union with God. Th-b is n typica lly lrenaean wny of
thinking (teaching a mystical-real redcmption). Cf. III, 1:8, 7 'ilacrere ilaqllc fecit Bl (II/,mfV;1
hominem Dco'.
211 lren . AI"" Boer. Ill, 19, 3: the humanity in Christ is the tlIgct for temptation.:md suffering. the
Logos is the source of glorification. TIle Logos Dlll!t 'CJuiescc' ~o that the hUJIllln nature ofChTjst can
suffer,just as Oil the other haud it 'comcs to the rescue' in victory, in the resurrection and the :rn:ensiOI1
(1'iO'VX6:l0~TOS 'ToO A6yov-avyy'volJwov). We will see how strongly Ath:UL1Sius piles up such dnuscs ,
but unlike !renneLls, we mmt in his case take Stoic ideas of the work of the togQ~ into a"onut.
m Cf. A. Gri.llmcicr, Der Logos 11111 KrclliZ, Mlincheu 19S6 (Witll bibliography). J". M. BraLlD,Jtall/e
T III!ologl61l el SOli E~IlJlgi/c dnTlsl'iigfisc oridsMe, Paris 1959, also rcfen to iconography.

2. Despite this emphatic delineation of the God-manhood of Jesus

Christ, there is still no doctrine of two natures in the technical sense. Only
Melito makes the first timid beginnings. The simple language of the
church's proclamation is retained, although it is in fact expressing just
what the technical language of the doctrine of two natures is to say later. It is
for precisely this reason that the second century, seen from the point of
view of the history of tradition, is so valuable. Because the love of the
mysteries of the life of Jesus and the view of salvation history is still so
much alive, because the unity of history is supported by typology and
exegesis 0the Old Testament, the pmtrait of Christ in the second century
still seems dynamic, and not static, despite aU the stress on Godhead and
manhood and an often monotonous antithetical way of making christo-
logical statements.
3. Nevertheless, the second century is already brought up against the
christological problem proper in two ways:
(a) The problem of the relationship between the Father and the Logos
emerges (Justin; the Apologists), as we shall now see.
(b) Already round about 178, Ge1sus was putting quite pointedly the
question how Godhead and manhood could be united in the one Christ.
He confronted the theology of the church with a dilemma-either
docetism or a change in the Godhead. In other words, either the incarna-
tion otCbrist is only a semblance, or it means that the Godheadis changed:
'Either God really changes himself, as they say, a mortal body ... or
he himself is not changed, but makes those who see him think that he is
so changed (TIolei Be TOVS 0POOVTOS BOKeiv). But in that case he is a deceiver
and a liar.'233
So the second century is already confronted with problems as difficult
as any generation of Christian theologians had to solve. The doctrine of
the 'one person in two natures', much abused because of its technical
terms, was the only way out ofthe dilemma raised by Ce1sus. The question
was whether God had really entered history while still remaining God,
the same probJem with which contemporary theology is still engaged,
though in a different way, in its debate with Bl.lltmallll. The substance of
Christianity was at stake.
2Jl C Origen, C. Celsum IV, 18: GCS Orig. I, 287.


TUE fouudations for the further d VclOpme11t of christol gy were laid in
the East (by Origen) and in the West (by Tertullian) during the fmt half
f the third century. Justin had, of course, already done some pr.eliminary
work. The controversy with Guo ticism had made the church aU the
more cOllsciollS of the value of a closed biblical and apostolic tradition
wi lun the i'amework of the regllia fidei. This consciousness is to become
a constant corrective in the trinitarjan and christological struggles of later
times, and is further strengthened by the introduction int theology of
the 'argum 'ut from the Fathers'. At the same time, the church found herself
driven to thinking through the traditional material of her belief more
deeply, whether from an inward interest in the Christian revelation or from
the demands of the controversy with Judaism and paganism. The hour had
come for the birth ofspeculative theology, of theological reflection, of tlufo-
Logie saVl1llte. The confession of Jesus Christ as the SOll of God, tbe IWVlllll
of the Christian faith (c Ircnaeus, Adv. Haer. IV, 28, 2), demanded of
Christian theology a twofold demonstratioll, rust that it was compatible
with Jewish monotheism, and secondly that it was different from pagan
polytheism. The solution of this probl 11 depended on the possibility of
combining in God a true unity with a true distinction (between Father,
SOil and Spirit). At the same time, Christians became more and more con-
scious of what it meant to assert that God had been made incarnate.
As a resnlt of Gnosticism, Christian theologians also saw themselves
compelled both to show how their belief in God the Father and God the
Son incarnate fitted into the whole pattern of the relationship between
God and the world al d to construct a Christian picture of the world and
of history. Here christology had its chance of becoming the cardinal poillt
of a Welt(//,/sclJaUllllg. And here Christian theologians made a contribution
which can and mllst be placed alongside the great cosmological systems of
Platonism, Sto.icism an.d Nco-Platonism. As a result of these systems,
above all Stoicism, Middle Platonism and fi11ally Neo-Platonism, the
theologians were also stimulated to make speculations, and they began to
see the possibility of making a first attempt at solving the problems
mentioned above. The Gnostic doctrin of emanation must not be for-
gotten in this context.!
1 There is a good discussion in H. Dorrie, 'Was ist "spatantiker Platonismus"? Oberlegungen zur
Grenzziehung zwischen Platonismus und Christentum', ThR 36, 1971, 285-302, of the question
The procession of the Son and the procession of the world, creation and
incarnation: for all this the ack.nowledged systems oH'ered some help, but
it was only very limited. The Christian problems burst the Dotmds of any
olle system. If this was not realized, if an attempt was made to apply any
of these systems to the Christian revelation without correction, the result
was of necessity a false one. An identification of the Neo-Platonic triad
of Hen, Nous and Pneuma with the Christian triad of Father, Logos and
Spirit inevitably led to a denial of the transcendent-immanent character
of this Christian triad, i.e. to Arianism. A transference of the Stoic
teaching of expansion and contraction to the procession of the Son and
the Spirit led to 110 less dangerous consequences. So the history of Christian
theology, now beginning, was often like a movement made up of two
steps forward and one back. Hardly any speculative attempt at interpreta-
tion succeeded at once. Corrections had to be made continual! y in the light
of the church tradition. If these were refused, the result was a real pagan-
izing and Hellenizing, and thus a debasing, of the Christian revelation.
Where the analogical character of the speculative concepts or evell of the
popular pidures with which this revelation was expressed was not con-
sciously borne .in mind. the peculiar element of a transcendent reality
could never be preserved .
Over against this, the church's dogmas of the Trinity and the incarna-
tion are an attempt to maintain the mystery inherent in the basic data of
the Christian revelation by a limited use of Hellenistic or contemporary
concepts and language and to avoid the distortions of He1lenizatioll. To
see the chronic Hellenization of Christianity in these dogmas themselves
whether in this context one should spea.k of the 'Platonism of the Church Fathers' or (better) only of
'Platonizing Fathers'. Furth~r comments are added by E. l'. Mcijering, 'ZchnJa.hrc Porschung 2um
Them.1 Platonismus und KirchcllvJt~r', ibid., 303- 20. On the theme oC 'emanations' sc e H. Dorrie,
'Bnl11l1ation. Bin unphilosophischts Wort in sp:itantike/l Dwell', Pamsia. S/lIIlIell Z .IIT Pililoso)Jllie
PhI/OilS /11111 z /lr Prob/clIIgcsc/Jichrc des PIII/OllislII/lS (Pestgabc f. J ohannes Hirsd lberger, cd. 1(. P1asch),
Frankfurt 1965, H9-4I:;J . Ratzinger. 'Emanation' , RAG 4,1959, 12f9-28; Dorrie explains the diffcr-
ent position of 'emanation' in Plato. 'After Plato notiolls of emanation have no more place in the now
domiIL1nt philosophy than in higher Jiterature' (nSf.). However, Clement of Alc=ndrla Gnd
I!usebius sought to characterize rhe Platonist doctrine of the NOII$~'pparently unintentionally-with
the word 6:Tr6ppol<X (137). 'Plotinus virtually ;Lvoided the notion of emanations .... He persistently
cOlltested ... tLte notion that the One expanded to becollle tJ1C many by emanation. T ile Gnostics
were the real representative of 3 d.o elrine of emanation. They WMted to usc it to expl-nin how a God
outside the world could cOllle into contact with m:m., and indeed with a God who stood over
against the world . If emanations of od can be demon'tr~ted in_tills wocld. then a bridgehead has
been established which is all-important to GlIosricism. despite its pcssimism' (r30). Despite the funda-
Illenutlly anti-Gnostic thought of Ghristimity. for a time cnroppol<X beC3me a 1shiollllblc word. Cf.
TertnUian (sec below; further imUl1ces in Donie, 137f.). fiut eman, cion models (like those iuvolving
springs or rivers) could ollly dt:lractcri~e processas from the Jower levels of n.1tllrc. The idea that the
'sourco' IUny lose something of its substance docs not necessarily arise at first. Even P llIt'l[ch docs not
introduce tlie notion OfelllJlDlltio)l illto the central:rreas of philosophy (ibid., l35). Ollce Nicaea and
Nicelle theology h:ul made a sh.:up distinction between the begetting oftbe on w ithin the Godhead
and the 'procession' of the Spirit in God on the one hand. (mel the 'o;cation' of all tJlings outside God
on rhe other. a doctrine of cm:lI1ation w~s quite Ullm:ccssary. For rhe interpretation of Plotillj~1l and
Nco-Platonic philosophy sec K. Kremer, Die NCIII'latollisdle Seillsplli/o .op/.ie IIlId illre Wirkllllg auf
TIIOIIIII.f VOII Aqlliu (StudieD wr Problcmgcschichtc der nnriken und mittclaltcrlichen Philosophic r),
Lcidcn 1966. 19712,2-7. 32 1-3 , 343. 471.

(A. v. Harnack) is to mistake the first intention of the dogmatic state-

ments. 2
The process thus described begins with the Logos doctrine of the
Apologists and reaches its first heights in Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria
and Origen.


We do uot consider it our task to develop this doctrine in all its details.
We will expound it ouLy briefly, in so far as it forms the backgrolmd for
the doctrine of the incarnatiolL There are two sources for the Logos
doctrine of the Apologists: Christian tradition (the prologue of the
Gospel of John) and Hellenjstic philosophy (of the Middle Platonic and
Stoic types); a Judaistic exegesis is sometimes combiu d with both of
these. Philo is significant here, above all else, different though the verdicts
on his iufluence may be. A common concern links him with the later
Apologists. His aim is to convince the Gentiles of the universal validity
of Judaism and its monotheism, and to this end he represents the law of
Moses as the true philosophy. Thclogos doctrine of the philosophers is for
him a welcome means of explaining the relationship between God and
the world. His own Logos speculation shows a strange synthesis of Old
Testament, Platonic and Stoic features .3 The wisdom literature of the
Bible had given him a good foundation for his theological attempt, and
the allegorical nlethod of scriptural exegesis made it considerably easier to
bridge tlle gap between two difJ:ercl1t thought-worlds. In connection with
the Apologists it is important to note that Pllllo's Logos speculation is the
most far-rea.ching attempt at the hypostatization of Wisdom (or of the
Logos) within tlle Hebrew tradition. 4
We may compare ]ustin, who considered it his task to convince Jews
and pagans of the truth of the Christian message; here the Logos doctrine
has a new lease of life. Where Justin represents an advance 011 Philo and
the Stoa, however, is in the proclamation that the Word had become
flesh. In the light of this substantial expansion of t11e Logos doctrine, chere
was from the outset only a limited possibility for the influence of Philo
to make itself felt on the Apologists. Nor should the philosophical influ-
ence be over-estimated.
Although throughout the Apologies Christianity is more or less placed under the
protection of ancient philosophy, the superiority of Christianity over the latter is stressed
2 On the whole problem see A. Grillmeier, 'Hellenisierung-Judaisierung des Christentums', Schol
33, 1958, 321-55, 528-58.
lR. Holte. Logos sprrlllatikos. 123.
4 Ibid. For whnt follows. note L. W. Barnard. Athenagoras. A Study j'l Second Century Christian
Apologetic (Theologlc blstl)ricjLIC 18). Paris 1972. Barnard stresses that Athenagoras is able to avoid any
nppC9rllLlCe of $ubordinariullislll.
consistently, and the Second Apology closes with Justin, in spite of the partial agreement,
abandoning all philosophical systems and confessing his wish to be considered solely as a

But Greek philosophy also had an influence on the Apologists by way

of the Gnostic writings. The Logos is also mentioned in them. He has a
cosmic role in creation, as all intermediate being or as all emanation. Or
he emerges as a mythical figure, as the redeemer of the soul. Valentinian
Guosis, with its doctrine of syzygies and emanations, provides the richest
material for this. The Evangelittm Veritatis (r6, 23. 26, 37. 4r) and the
ApocrYl'ho/1 Ioafl.nis6 also speak. of the Logos as an emana tion of creation, as
revealer and saviour. The Odes of Solomon (12. IOff.; r6. 19; 41. II-I4)
also bear witness to the same Logos myth. It is quite possible that through
Gnosticism an earlier myth bas been enriched by the Christian doctrine
of the redeemer, and not vice versa. Tlle early history of the Nicene
Ilomoousios shows us that the theologians of the church were probably
made aware of this concept, and thus of the doctrine of emanation, by the
Gnostics. At the SaDle time, however, we can see how these theologians
immediately make important corrections to this doctrine of emanation,
so as not to make the Logos a creature.'
hl any case, whatever the sources may have been, the Apologists
already made something special out of the Logos doctrine and gave it a
key position in Christian theology. They regarded the Logos:
(I) In its cosmological aspect as creative Word;
(2) In its noetic aspect as the basis of knowledge and truth;
(3) In its moral aspect as the basis and embodiment of the moral law (c
Justin: Logos-Nomos);
(4) In its psychological aspect as the original form of thought (verbum
mentis) ;
(5) In its saving-historical aspect as Word of revelation and mediator of
Aspects (r) and (5) were particularly suitable for interpreting the work
of God outside, in the creation of the world and the incarnation of the
Logos. Aspects (2) and (4) Iepresellted a special way of solving the relation-
ship of Logos and Father within God. All the aspects of the Logos doctrine
together in allY case show that the Fathers were concerned with the totality
J Ibid., Tll. The relationship of t:mditioll to speculntionin JU5tin is well described by R. Holte. 011
what follow s see too]. Lebraton, Trill/II! n, 39S-5J(;; M. Pohlenz, Sloa, 400-65; M. Sp;umeut, Le
storcUlllc des J?Gres de I'Eg/isc de CU/IICIII de Rome It Clb llellt d'A /e;>:m,drie, Paris 1957; G . ./'I.cby,Les "'/5S;OllS
div;',cr. Dc sn illl jllstilf Orig~lIe, Fn'bonrg 1958.
CEd. W. Til l, TU 60,1955,40,103 (3I, 15) ; M . Rr.tuse-P. Labib, Di. drei Tlmiolltll desApokryp/,olf
des]Q/rarl/lcs /111 Kopf;.Ic1lfll Mflscum':!11 Alt-Knlro, WlC;lsbadclI 196z. 62f., 126f., 209.
7 cr. A. GriUmeier, :u:t. 'Homoollsios'. L'rlrKV, I960, 467-8. For follows see C . Huber, art.
'Logos m. dogmengcsdriahtlich', LT/,K VI, 196I,lUS-8.

of God, the world and history. Greek philosophy, and above a11 Middle
Platonism, ojfered a model for this striving after an overall wlderstan,ding
of reality. In it, the Logos was regarded as the reasonable principle of the
cosmos, the knowledge of truth, and morality. In the controversy with
Hell nism, he co mological, noetic and moral aspects had to be put in
the foreground. In transferring the anthropological distim,tion between
the 'logos elldiathetos' and the' logos prophorikos' from man to God, however,
the Apologists bring the psychological element into play. Remarkably
enough., the first attempts at the idea of the 'gel1erat;o verb; per intellechlfl",
which would have been found in Plato (Phaedrt4s 276) and in Aristotle
(noesis noeseos), remain tumoticed. Only Origen seems to have become
aware of them (cf. Frag. in 10. 13).
T1us new step forward in Christian theology bad important conse-
quences. The positive side is not to be mistaken. The great history of
theological reflection had begun. We may not see ill this without further
ado an unjustified rationaHzation of the revealed truth. For if the right
bounds are observed, there is here only an intl:lIecl14sfidei, which can leave
the mysterium fidei intact. Iu the writings ofIt/stin, for example, the danger
of a rationalization of the Christian revelation was avoided by his feeling
for tradition, in the face of which his plll1osoplucal inclinations took only
second place. This is also evidence of his philosophical eclecticism. 8 Con-
tact with contemporary philosophy waS finally necessary because it was
the only way in which Christialuty could speak to the leading intellectual
circles and unfold all its riches. Nevertheless, the new step remained a isk,
and one cannot say that the Apologists were completely successfttl. The
coming Arian struggles are no tnore thatl the consequences of the error
which was introduced at the time of the Apologists. The error lay in the
fact that the Stoic Logos was essentially monistic, atlcl was understood in
relation to the world . As Middle Platonism and also AlexandrianJudaism
overstressed the absolute transcendence of God, his invisibility and his
unknowableness, the Logos was too much restricted to the role of
subordinate mediator. God the Father was thought to have such an
absolute transcendence that he could not possibly deal actively with men
(R. Holte). 'TIle danger of subordinationism was not far off. This danger
was increased by the idea which linked t 0 closely together the procession
of the Logos and the creation of the wodd, the creation and redemption
of man.
In calling the Logos the servant, the apostle, the angel of the absolutely
transcendent Father, Justin gives him a diminished transcendence, even if
he does not make him a creature. He compares the Logos with Hermes,
the Logos-interpreter of Zeus (Myov TOV ~P ~TJVEVTIK6v: Apol. L 2I, 2;
22, 2) . There is a deus inferior subordinate to the theos hypsistos.
8 Cf. R. Holte. Logos spermatikos. II7-19.
Ce fils qui nalt dc la volonte du P~re en vue de la creation est veritablement Dieu, mais
c'est un Dieu infcricur au Pere: i1 vient ell second lieu (SWTEpCXV xc.::.pcxv), aprcs ("'ETa) Ie
Pcre qui l'a engcnd-e, iI est au-dessolls (\nrb) de lui. EJ111D mot, 'il y a et il est die qu'i! y a
Ull autre Dieu et Seigneur au-dcssous du Createur de toutes choses (eeoS Kat Y.liPIOS {Tepos
uno Tbv nOll1T~V TWV 6"wv), (Dial. 56.4).9

Justin's disciple, Tatian, also makes the procession of the Logos from
the Father dependent all the creation.1 o 'The Lord of all, who is himself
the ground of everything, was alone, in so far as the creation had not
yet come to pass' (s. I). There was no eternal pre-existent Logos in a
distinct existence. But the oneness of God is to be regarded as 'structured
unity'. The Logos is in God as Logos-power (dynamis). He proceeds from
the oncness of God by an act of will . Thus he is the 'ftrstborn work' of the
Father and the 'origin of the world' (ibid.). A bridge has now been made
between the 'one' and the 'many'. We can see the intention of providing
through the idea of the processiou of the Logos an interpretation of the
unity and diversity of God and the world. Now this procession of
the Logos does not represent a sepa.ration. It is merely a disposition of the
divine, or a volwltary, real self-unfolding of the one God. But it only
takes place in respect of the creation of the world. Tatian, as a Platonist,
thus sees the Logos only within this cosmological function and gives him
no historical or saving-historical significance.
HippolytHs too makes God in his oneness and transcendence and com-
plete independence the starting point of a movement which lead~ by way
of the Logos to the world.l1 Logos and Spirit are in this God as ratio and
sapientia, as dy"amis and decisioh. and through the Logos and the Spirit
so too are aU things thac are to be created. For through the Logo and the
Spirit God both conceives and concludes creation. Hippolytus, however,
takes the line further than Tatian. In creation, the Logos manifests an
existence distinct from that of the Father, and this becomes increasingly
clear in the law, the prophets, and finally in the incarnation. The conse-
quences for the understanding of the Logos incarnatus himself are to be
investigated later (see below). Here we are concerned solely with the fact
of this connection between the procession of the Logos within God and
creation and incarnation. Life within God, creation and history are closely
Something similar is true of Tertullial1. Like Hippolytus, he ftghts
against the different anti-Trinitarian heresies which occupied the YIjest at
p cr. G. Aeby, us missiol/s divilrcs, 14. cr. n-!s; B. Studer, ZI,r ThcopIrOllie-E.yegcse Allgllstins.
UllIerslIclrrmg ZIJ eille/l Amuros/'Is-Zitat ill der Scllflji De vidcndo Dco (Ep. 147) (Studi;t Anscll111,na 59),
ROffia 1971, 153-6: the theophany testimonies of pre-Niccne theology are discussed here, and the
subordinationisnl in the pro-understanding of the Old Testament thcophauics is discu~scd on pp.
10 Tatian, Or. ad Graec. 5: Goodspeed, 272; on the whole subject see the good remarks of M. Elze,
Tatiall ulld seine Tlrcologi~. Gortingen r960, 70-83.
II Cf. C. Noet. 10: P. Nautin, fflppol}lte, COlltre les Heresies, Fragmellt, Etude et Editioll crit'~lUe, Paris
1947,251; G. Acby, Us mlssioll& dlllirres, 86-102.

the beginning of the third century. HippolytllS' Contra Noetuf1l and

Tertullian's Adversus Praxean spring from the same theological concern.
Over against unitarian modalism they set their doctrine of the one God.
who is yet threefold according to his oikonomia. Here the word and concept
of oiko11Otnia takes 011 a new appJication.l2 Tatian (Or. ad Graee. 5. ) llad
already made use of this word to interpret the procession of the Logos.
The Valcntinian Gnostics had used it similarly to describe the internal
organization of the pleroma. 13
Among the Valentinians, the oikoIlDl;,la em braces the whole providence or the graci us
dispensation of God, from his primeval will In showing himself co the aeons to the COlU M

plete fulfillUent of the final consummation. In its origill 311d its history, the plcromn enters
into the oikotlo/llia of God, as '1Ipper oikonolllln' (1'1 6:vw C!Kcvo~(a: Ad!!. hacr. T, 16, 2) or
'pattern', according to the ima~e and similitude of which the dispcHsalio sa/ulis must run
through the sensible world. Furthermore, the orjgin of the sole Only-Begotten (von~
IICVOYevcos), which precedes the constitution of the plcrol1la, represents one pha e of the
oikollolliia. The whole Gnostic dleory is ccntred on 'salvation'. The 'probole' represents
an element in the mechanism of the divine dispensation. By virtue of it, the Godhead
unfolds itsdf(se IIdminislro) .in aeons, by projecting the Iea.dlng ideas which have to intro-
duce the descent of God. into the world and the return of man to God. Incarnation
(= Hllmmlllciorl = origin of man), redemption ... and cosmogony are J1lerely other
phases of the one single oikollolllia, which rLUlS its course on wo parallel planes: the upper
plane of the plerol1l(1, which ends in the salvation of the aeons in the sight of the Father,
and the lower plane of the COSlUOS, which finds its consnmmation in the salvlltioll of the
spirjtual church, in cile Lll1ion(Jilslol1) of men with angels and in the lIllity of the lmiverse
with the Son for the vision of the Father. It would be a mistake to want to set the 'ofko-
nomia' of tbe first centuries over against 'tlwologia', just as the incarnation stands over
against the Trinity or the life of the Trinity. Neither Justin nor [renaeus, still less Tertul-
Han, knew a distinction of this nature. Accordil1g to Tcrtulli.1l1, the Trinity itself develops
within the oikol/olllia . In distinction from the 'I/IQJUlrchirr' of the modalists, the African
stresses the Trinity by meallS of the unity Of'SIJbs((lIIti'l, .Itnllls, potes/as', which goes frOll1
one divine persoll to ci,e other by meal1s of the 'probole', fOl: the salvation of the world
(= the church). The oikollotllin is the drama of mediation (l/Icdiacioll) between God and
man. Or, and this comes to the same thing, it is the saving history whose origin. is to be
found in the free decision of God, and whose end wiU lead to tne SOil giving back his
'lillctoritos' to the Father in the consummatioll of the ages.1 4
It is impossible to give a precise description of the historical position
of Tcrtulliall and of his trinitarian doctrine here. The point with which
we are concemed in this cOlltext is sufficiently explained. The oikonol1lia
within God and the oikonomia outside him are e)..'tremcly closely connected.
Creation and history threate11 to become factors ill the inner procession
12 Sec p. lor, n. 220; 011 this, R. Drnull, 'Dclls C/lr!Slil/lioru/lJ'. Reel,etches sIIr Ie vocllblilairc tlotrf/lal tie
Terll/lliell (publications de ]a Facultc des Lettrcs et Scienccs HUII'Laincs cl 'AJger XLI), P:u:is 19(i2-;
bibliogrnpby, ibid., 158. ; cf. S. Otto, 'Nalura' 11/111 ',lispO$ilio'. Ulllcrsud"IIIg ZIIIII Nalllr/lr.~r![f 111111 z IIr
DCllkJorm TerlllllhlllS (MUnchcllcr Thcologische Scudicn II, t9), MUlldlCII 1960; K. wtlln. Das
Hcils'/lirkl'll GUl/f.1 lIurcia IIw Solill /10(/1 TcrllllliOiI (AnA1Grcg Ll:t), Rome 1960, 35-1 t']. Sec: nowJ.
Moingt, Tilda/ogie Irilli/nire lie 'nrllll/icII I-IV (Thcologic, vols. 68-'70, 75)., Paris 1966, 1969, cspcciilfJy
45-8, SS~-932, 101!)-:t4
13 Cf. R. Braull, op. cit., 160, n. :to
14 A. Orbe, S.)., La Uncioll de Verbo. Esludios Va/ell/inianos III (AnalGreg II3), Rome 1961, 2II-I2.

of God. The neat distinction between the process{ones within God and the
missiones outside him must be developed in a careful process without the
two being separated. Only in this way can the danger of pantheisID. and
also of subordinationisffi. be avoided. The tremendous attempt to make
the doctrine of the Trinity and the incarnation into a Weltanscha"U'l'Ig had
to come to grief on this idea of oikolloll/ia. Nevertheless, the attempt had
to be made to see God, the world and history in a ullity and to see all this
in theUght of the figure of Cbrist. It was the task of the followll]g centuries
to correct this attempt and to obviate the danger of the Hellenization of
We now turn to the doctrine of the incarnation or the idea of the person
of Christ for the time between Hippolytus and Origen.


Tl1e writings of l-Iippolyrus ls 'represent a logos theology which in its

emphasis 011 the history of revelation directly recalls the second century.
and above all Irei]aellS, who was perhaps his mentor.1 6 His love of christo-
logical antitheses points to the same background) 7 He is akin to JllStin
and to Tertullian in respect of his logos-christo logy (see above). Here
chief weight is laid on the idea of the incarnation and of the redemption
achieved in it. Tbjs redemption is growldcd in the revelation of the divine
oikono/uia. Now dus has its wlity in the one God, ill the Father, Sou and
Spirit, distinct, but united in their ordering:
II y a en effet un seul Dieu, car il yale Pere qui ordOlUle, Ie Fils qui obeit et la Saint
Esprit qui fait comprendre: Ie Pere qui est sur tout.Ies Fils par tout, et Ie Saint-Esprit en
tout. 1S
IS For the sources see B. Altnncr, P/ltr%gy. London 1960, 31; J. QuDSten, Pl1lrology IJ, Antwerpen-
Utrecht 1953, 165-98; for bibliography, ibid. and: M. Richnrd, PO 27, J954, .271-2; G. Kretschmar.
JLH I, 1955,90--5. Only the ntost, important studies Arc cited here: P. N:"lutin , Hlppo/ylc elJosfpe, 'Paris
1947 (cited as]osipc); id., Hippolylt, COllirc les heresies, Fragl1lclI/, Paris 1939 (cited as HipJlo/yle) j id., 'Le
dossier de Hlppolyrc et de Meliton dans les fior!legC$ dogmatiqucs ct chez Ie! historicns modemcs',
Palrisl/ca I, Paris 1953. Nautin would assign the works ofHil?polytus to tWo writcrs. To one, named
Josipplls, and depicted in tbe weU-knownLnternn st.1tue, he would ascribe the EIC/fc/lllJ. D~ Ullillerso and
rhe C/rrollicle(ofz3S)j to tue oilier, a Hippoiytus ofunknow~ narionnlity bur of Eastern rather th n
Westcm origin, the other works, Commellwy Oil D/llllel,D/ess;/lg oJJacob, Oli/lie Alllicl,r;Sf, LIIII;lIoe/lls
(= fmg. oCColl/ra ol~flles haere~es)'~l!()Slo/i, Trad~/!otl. Opposed are: ? Bardy, 'L'c~gJl1e d'HippoJytc',
MSR 5,1948,63-88, M . Rlch;lrd,lbld.,294-302,ld.,7. 1950. 237-68,8.1951, T9-50.13. CapeUeO.S.B.
'Hippo)ytc de Romc', RTAM 17,1950,145- 74. On christoJogy see A. D'AI~s, La l/lU%gle de sa/lit
Hippo/ric, Paris 1906; E. Lengeling, Dns Hell5fUcrk ,ir! Logos-C/,,;s/os beim 11/. Hippo/ylos /101/ &111,
Romc 1947. Di!sert~tionj A. H:ul1cl, Dio Kircbc bci HipJlolyt vall ROlli, Giitersloll 1951; 1. Dertsch.
Dlc Do/sclltift vall Chrlstlls IIIld IIlIsue ErliislUlg b~1 Hlppolyl 11011 R.OIII. Ellie IIMlrrialkerygll)lIlisc/re Uliler-
Slie/IIIIIS, Dissertation, lnmbtuck 1962, published Trier 1966-wieh special coruideration ofHipl'oiytlls'
christoJogical typology.
16 Pbotius, Bibllolheca Cod. 121: PG 103, 40rD-404A, speaks of the associations between Hippo-
lytlls and Irenaeusj cf. G. Bardy, 'L'e.nigmc d'H ippolyrc', 75. n. 5.
17 P. Nautin,Joslpe soc., sees a difference between the Sylllogmn (Antinoetus) and the Elenchus in that
the former stresses the Godhc,d and the manhood of urist to rhe same extent, whereas the latter places
special empbasis on tbe manhood. This will be because of its anti-docetic character. Cf. B. Capelle.
'Hippolyte', 161-2.
18 Hippol., Haer. 14: Nautin, 257'-7.

Over against Noetus, Hippolytlls is concerned to demonstrate the dis-

tinction in the unity of Father and Logos. That is why the fact of the
incarnation is stressed so much. For here there is convincing proof that the
Father and the Logos are distinct from each other, as the Logos now stands
visibly over against the Father as 'Son'. This docs not mean that the
Logos first comes fully to himself (qlla Logos) in the incarnation. It is that
now the invisible procession of the Logos becomes visible to the world.
Both are inwardly related. We shall demonstrate this from some texts
taken from the Sytltagma (Adv. omn. haer. = Haer.):
Et sa Parole (Verbe) qu'i1 tenait en lui-meme et qui etait invisible au monde cree, iI
la rend visible. L' enonrrant d' abord comme voix et I'engendrant lumiere issue de lumiere,
iI ernie comme Seigneur pour la Creation sa propre Intelligence, et celle-ci qui etait
d'abord visible alui seul et invisible au monde cree, ilia rend visible, afin que Ie monde
en la voyant grace cette epiphanie puisse etre sauve.19
Now the incarnation is understood as the unity of the procession of the
Logos from the mouth, heart and loins of the Father20 and from David or
the Virgin Mary. It is not just a matter of the Logos coming into the
world, but of a procreation in r~spcct of the world. So Hippolytus (Cant.
2,23) can say: 'From him ( = David) and from the heart of the Father (the
Son-i.e. the incarnate Logos) came forth by birth.' In connection with
Gen. 49. 25 he speaks of the 'twofold birth of the Word, from God and
from the Virgin',21 as Ignatius of Antioch had already written (Eph . 7. 2).
He expressly emphasizes that Genesis sees this twofold birth in a unity :
'Showing both in one as though showing one, tha t we may know
spiritually, both spiritualiy and physicaUy.'22 The Logos is begotten
of the Father as it were in the corporeality which the Virgin supplies. By
this he is first fully revealed as 'Son':
Quel est done ce propre Fils que Dieu a envoye dans la chair, sinon Ie Ve!be, qu'jJ
appelait Fils parce qu'i1 devait devenir homme? Et c'est Ie nom nouveau de J'amour r,0ur
les hommes, qu'il a pris en s'appelallt Fils, car sans chair et ell lui-me11")'c Ie Verbe n ~tait
pas vrai Fils, bien qu'il fut vrai Monogene. ... II s'est done mllIlifeste seul vrai Fils de
The Logos made flesh in this way, by his birth of the Spirit and the
Virgin shown to be Son, has offered himself as Logos to the Father, and
ha~ done so through the flesh:
Le sens etait done, freres, que Ie Mystere d'Economie c'etait bien Ie Verbe, qui s'est
montre par sa naissance de I'Esprit Saint et de la Vierge Ie seul vrai Fils de Dieu ..
[John 3. 13 follows] ... Maintenant eertes iI y a de la chair, celle qui a ete offerte par Ie
19 Ibid . 10: Nautin. 2534-8.
20 Hippol., Cour. 13. l, 3: TU 23, 46 16- 17 ; 476; Ben. Mos. 15.4: TU 26. 67 8 ; cf. PO 27. 169.
21 Hippol., Dell. lac. Z7. 3: TU 26,4420- 1 ; the Greek text, PO 27, 1I2-Il, alrc:tdy uses post-Ch~1ce
donhnlnnguagc: 'quele Verbe est cogcnme de deux substances (tK 6vo oval/:)v ytyEVijo6al) de Dieu
et do la Viergc'.
22 Ibid . 27'. I: TU 26, 44 1-:1 PO 27, -109. III.
:13 Hil'Pol., Haer. 1 S: Nautiu, 259 14- 21

Verbe au Pere en don (car) celui qui par sa naissance de l'Esprit et de la Vierge s' est montre
vrai Fils de Dieu s'est evidemment offert lui-meme au Pere, mais aupar3vant dans Ie
ciel il n'y avait pas de chair. Qui donc etait dans Ie ciel, sinon Ie Verbe Sans chair, qui a
ete envoye pour montrer qu'en etant sur Ia terre il etait aussi dans Ie ciel?14
So the incarnation is firmly incorporated in the oikonomia, in a falling
and rising line which begins in God himself, through the procession of the
Logos and the Spirit. Hippolytus sees the 'one' Christ in two stages of his
existence, as the pre-existent i\6yos o:O"apKos (first stage), who as i\6yos
EvO"apKos makes his way into history (second stage) by being born of the
Virgin Mary: 0 i\6yoS TOU 6eou, o:O"apKos WV, Eve5vO"aTo TtlV ayiav O"apKa
EK TTjS ayias 1Tap6Evov.25 The theophanies of the Old Testament also
belong to this historical revelation of the Logos: they are a prelude to the
incarnation, the beginning of the process of the incarnation in the full
sense. Here TEi\eIOS acquires a new significance in referring to the
perfectness of the appearance in the world. First of all the Logos appeared
only 'in part' (llepIKws; 111 Dan. 4, 39, 4), EV cr)("illaTl av6pc.:mov, but not
yet in full human form (Tei\eiws av6pwTIos). This he first assumed inrhe
incarnation. This approach via a 'historical theology' has at the same time
its soteriological aspect; Christ experiences in tum every age of man
(Elenclms 10, 33), he takes upon himself all the reality of man's sufferings
(ibid.). Here, in fact, we come across the pattern of a soteriological
principle put forward by the Gnostics (Iren., Adv. Haer. I, 6, I), Tertullian,
Origen, the Cappadocians and patristic theology in general: 'That which
is not assumed (by Christ) is not healed (by him)' (see below).
Whereas Hippolytus lays so much stress on the two stages of the Logos
as o:O"apKos and EvO"apKos, he makes no explicit mention of the problem of
the conjunction of the two states of being. Apart from one or two tenta-
tive beginnings, we still do not find any technical langnage from the
doctrine of the two natures. The combination Logos-sarx in particular
indicates the two poles between which Hippolytus' chr:istologicallangu-
age tends to move. On the other hand, he excludes the pneuma-sarx
framework of contemporary modalists. It is his purpose to speak of the
pneuma Christi only in the traditional biblical sense. His Logos-sarx anti-
thesis should not, however, be regarded as equivalent to the explicit
Logos-sarx theology which was to be constructed later. Hippolyttls has
simply taken over the Johannine and early Christian statements about tIle
incarnation. There is still no more explicit emphasis that the flesh itself is
also possessed of a soul, as in a dispute with the Gnostics and the docetists
the most important thing of all is the reality of the flesh.26 Even when the
24 Ibid., 4: Nautin, 24126-2428. 25 Hlppel., Dr' CI,ri,(o et Alllicl,r. 4: ed. Achelis, 6.
26 Anti-apollinarian writers have retouched the with inte[poIJlrio~ at a later date. With
24 26
others, P. Nautin, Hippolyte, II4-15 and 261 - (text), assumes such an addition in Haer. 17. Nautin
brackets as spurious ... 6eos A6yoS KCXTfiMev els 7TlV aylav lTap6evov Maplav, iva <1apKc.:>6e1S ~~ ailTfis
(Aa(3wv 6~ Kat IjIVXTlV 7TlII av6pc.:>mlall, AOYIKTlV 6~ Aeyoo, ) <1W<11J 7011 mmooK67a 'AMI!

phrase -rEAEIOS &v6pvnTos occurs, this is interpreted in a way which in the

first place does not go beyond the problems raised in the struggles of the
early church against the Gnostics. As a christological expression, 'perfect
man' merely affirms the true reality of Christ's incarnation.27
Nevertheless the language of the future emerges; the Logos clothes
himself with the flesh (Ev5vo~ol, eTIEV5VOIJOI), he dwells in the body as in
an ark, as in his temple. 28 There is another striking passage, which already
seems to produce the explicit terminology of the great christo logical con-
troversies, but its language can fully be explained from premises with
which we are already familiat, as far as an actual development of christo-
logical language j 1lot perceptible. It is certainly surprising to find for the
first time in Christian literature the word V<PIOlCxvOl and the concepts
which underlie it, especially when it is in close proximity to an equally
important term crVOIOCHS. The latter, of course, was to have only a limited
significance in the development of christological dogma. The passage in
question occurs in the fragment against Noetus:
And he bas taken for humanity the new name of love by calling l"lilmcIf Son; for
neither was the Logos before the incarnation and when by himself yet perfect Son,
although he was perfect Logos, only begotten, nor could the flesh exist by itself apart
from the Logos, as it had its existence ill the Logos. Thu~, then, wasmnniested one (single)
perfect Sou of GOd.29

Even assuming that the Antinoetus is to be regarded as a retractio, no one

should mistake the Hippolyteall colouring of the passage. In this respect,
it is especially important to pay attention to the idea that the 'Sonship' of
Christ is to be associated with the incarnation.3 0 This idea is of considerable
antiquity, as it seems already to have been advanced before Hippolytus.
Alongside this there is yet another reference to the Logos-sarx antithesis.
Both Logos and flesh now become bound together in Christ in a special
way, first through the idea, expressed above, that the Logos needs the
incarnation for perfect Sonship, but further through a similar link on the
part of the flesh-the sarx Christi cannot exist by itself, without the Logos,
as it has its 'systasis' in the Logos.
21 Hippo!., Haer. 17: ed. Nautin, 263 8- 10 , Oihos (6 Myos) 1TPOEAec:,V ds K6allov GEOS !vaOOllaTOS
!cpavEpOOeT], avOpoo1Tos T~lIEloS 1TapellOoov, ov yap KaTa cpaVTaalav i'l Tpom'lv, &lIl1a &lITle&s yevollevos
28 Hippo!., De Christo et Allriehr.,loc. cit.; Belled. Is. et Iaeob. 6, PO 27, 20; III Dall. 4, 39, 5.
29 Hippo!., Haer. 15: ed. Nautin, 25918- 21 , OUTE yap aaapKos Kal Kae' !avTov 6 Myos T!lIelos i'jv
vIes, KalTOI T~lIelos (Myos) wv 1l0VOYevt'ls, ovO'1') aap~ KaO',avT1')v 15lxa TOO Myov V1ToaTo;val t'll5vvaTo
I5la TO !v My", TnV avaTaalv CXelV. oihoos o~v els vlos T!lIelos 6eoO !cpavepoo6T].
30 See above and the passages in P. Nautin,}osipe, 49; id., Hippo/ytus, 157-69. For the extension of
this concept, with which the recognition of the divinity of Christ is closely connected, cf. H. J.
Carpenter,JTS 40, 1939, 3Iff. This theological concept does not, however, occur in the Ele/lehus, as
A. D'Alcs, Hippo/yte, 27, also establishes. Cf. e.g. E/enchus X, 33, 1-17. For the second century ce.
Ascensio Isaiae 8, 25, inE. Hennecke-W. Schneemelcher-R. MeL. Wilson, New TestatnetltApocrypha
II, 1965,656. Cf. also B. Capelle, 'Le Logos Fils de Dieu dans la theologie d'Hippolyte', RTAM 9,
1937, 109-24. Against this P. Nautin, Hippo/yte, 143-4, n. 2. ce.
again B. Capelle, 'Hippolytc', 172.

If a foreign halld can be detected anywhere in the passage, then surely

the following clause has first claim to be attributed to it: oue' 'Ii aap~ Kae'
~CX\JTT]V olxcx TOV Myov v-n-ocrrQVaI ij8VVCXTO Ola TO ~V Myct> Tijv aVO"TCXalV
ExEIV. But before anyone seeks to deprive Hippolytus of his right to
authorship, he lUuSt fust attempt to defend it. Perhaps the correct transla-
t,ioll.and interpretation will be of assistance in this task. It would be wrong
to wish to read into the passage the precise idea of sf.lbsistellce. It would be
centuries too early for this. 'YqllO"T6:VCXI here has its root meaning of 'to
exist',31 This will also meet us time and again later Oil. Now if we work
with trus original meanil1g existence' the word loses much ofits strange-

ness. It occurs not infrequently in Hippolytns in this signifi.cance, though

usually in the context ofcosmo!ogical descripcions.3Z In any case, the wurd
is already familiar in theological language. The relation of this passage to
the genuine works of Hippolytus can be established still more clearly by
its use of the term aVOTaO"lS. which appears to have an illtrinsic connec-
tion with the other, lrrroo-rCivcxt. From the lrrrOaTO:Val of the flesh in the
Logos there arises a cruo-ra(rts. a con-stitlltio. One comes across this term
frequently in the theological Iangnage of the third century, especially in
Clement of Alexandria and later with Mcthodius of Olympus. Hippolytus
uses it quite often. It occurs with a christological application in the acts of
the Synod of Antioch of 268, if these can be regarded as genuine. In the
fourth century Apollinarius introduces it again. Elsewhere it ftnds no finn
footing, particularly as a christological term. Its hey-day was in the third
century)) Is it then too early for Hippolytus to make an attempt at the
christological usage of these two terms VTTOO"TQvC(I and aucrroCflS? In time
they lie e:A.1:remely close to him. All the other christological thought and
language which we fllld in Hippolytus give us good grounds for assuming
the whole passage to be genuine, especially as it takes over the JohalUline
Logos-sarx formula (and derivatives such as the expressions Myos aO"cxpKos
and fvcrapKos). All ill aU we have the ingredients for a particularly close
realization of the unity in Christ.


In the opinion of many writers, the older Western christology finds its
consummation in Tertullian, particularly in the formulation of his
christo logy. As a result of his contributioll-so this view has it-Western
theology had a start of some centuries over the East. It will be our task to
make an objective criticism of this African's contribution and also to
31 Hippolytus, Elene/IUS 1,8,2: (vcplaTaval synonymous with vrrapxelV); cf. P. Nautin, Hippoly/e;
32 Hippo!., Eletlchus VII, 21, 4; I, 9, 2.
JJ IVO"TaO"lsin Hippo!., Blenchus VII, 19, 3 (cosmological); VII, 31, I; VII, IS. 3; IV, 8, S; VI. 29, 2S;
V,26, 13. Cf. Methodius Olymp., De Resurr. I, 34,4; De lepra 9.

determine his influence, which, of course, according to Hilary, was not

great: 'consequens error hominis detraxit scriptis probabilibtls auctoritatem')4
Certainly much of his influence remained alive, even if his name is often
passed over in silence.
Tertullian grasped very well that the truth of Christianity is an unalter-
able word of God, spokeD-luto the world, which has been transmitted by
the apostles to the church. He therefore often speaks of the regula and the
lex fidei, and refers to the traditio and the praescriptio, the specific limits of
the apostolic message over against all hereticaillollitates. Now thjs phrase
'regu fafidei' includes above all else the christologicaf kerygllla, which forms
its c ntent (see PraX. 2). In christology Tertulliall remained completely
faithfu l to this rule.3 s Had he of course taken christological speculation
fw:thcr than he In fact did, he would have realized the tension between
his own view and the formula which he c, had taken over.

(a) Tertullian's christology in its historical context36

Tertullian has to defend the church's tradition of the incarnation of
Christ on two different fronts: against pagan polytheism and against
monarchianism37 within the Christian church. In addition to this he has to
fight against the disruptive and divisive tendencies of Marcion and
Valentinus. 38 To combat these forces-from within the church's tradition
-Tertullian forms his christoJogical terminology. The Bible, Judaism,
Gnosticism, popular and legallangllage-the latter only to the degree in
which it was familiar to educated Rom:,uls of that time: these were the
s urces of his theol gical formulas.3 9 Stoicism was particularly helpful to
him for theol gical reflection. 40
As apologist to the pagans, it is his task to 'p robare Christum', i.e. to
'probare dilljllitatem Christi' (Apo!. XXI. 14). He begins to answer this
demand by making clear the Christian concep iOll of God and particu-
larly the uotioll of the singleness of God (ibid . X-XVII). Here he puts
forward the idea of f/lcma,.chiC/, the singleness of God-a COllcept introduced
into Christiall theology by the Apologists, which was made native to the
doctrine of God by the Hellenistic Jews of Alexandria. 41 The historical
34 So Hilary on Tertullian in Commellt. ill Matt. 5, I: PL 9, 9I3.
35 For the importance of the regula fidei see R. Braun, op. cit., 26f.; 424-6, 446-53. The whole
chapter (407-73) is on revelation.
36 For Tertulti:lll's christoJogy D. 12 above, e~pcci.aJly R. Draun, op. cit., 2.07- ,12, 242-326; R.
Cantahl1le.l5a, O.F.M. ~p., Ln Crirfologin til Terrlll/lnllo (i>llruiosis XVIIl) , kihourg J962.
31 On the concept of trinitruian lllonarchialJism sec G. Dnrdy, art. 'MoD3rdlianismc' , DTC 10,
2.193-209; E. Evans, Trrlll ilillll's Trentlse {/galilst Praxeas, 6-18; It Cantala.mcssa, op. ci~., 126-3I (La
Ccistologia monnrdli;u]!l).
38 A colleclion of ciu:istological he.re5ie~ in Tertullinn, De came Christi 24: eCL n, 915-16.
lP f. R. 13rnull, 01" Cit., 54.7- 54; R Cant:llruncssa, 01" cit., 119- 25.
~o R. Braun, op. cit., 554: M. Spnnm:ut, Lc stofci.f//lf rlesl'ercs, 305-<).
41 T. Vedwcven, 'Monarchin dans Tc.rtullinll, Adversus Praxcan', V(gC 5, 195J, 43-8; R. Braun,
01" cit., 71-~. ; K.. Wo.l fl, op. ..cit., 4I-9" cf. TC~tlI1li3JlI .Apol. XVII, I: The concept of /IIo/lorcilia is
directed agall1St eIther polytheiSJU or philosophIcal dualwu (IDBtanccs Ul-E . .Evans, op. CIt.).

revelation of this God has already begun in Judaism, and is also recog-
nized by Christians (ApoJ. XXI, I). In this revelation of God which the
Jews have received, the advent of the Sail of God was also prophesied, and
indeed it has taken place. 'Thus there came he who by God's prior
proclamation was to come, to renew the teaching and bring it to light,
namely Christ, the Son of God' (ibid., 7). But Tertullian has to explain
two things ifhe is not to give any assistance to heathen polytheism: how
this Son of God does not, as Son, destroy the singleness of God, and how it
happened that he could become man, and become man in a way different
from the heathen mythologies. In 197 Tertullian already adopts the course
he is to follow years later in his Against Praxeas (probably written in 213).
For Tertullian, the deepest mystery of Christianity is expressed in the
word moltarchia, namely that God has a Son. This Son exercises the whole
power of the one God in the world and for this period of world-time.
Tertullian sees the monarchia first of all within the framework of the
economic Trinity. God the Father remains ruler and he retains the
sovereignty. But the administration of the rule is handed over to the Son.
The monarchia is further guaranteed by the inner unity in substance of
Father, Son (and Spirit). By the concept substantia, una s~lbstalltia, Tertul-
lian means above all to exclude any division in God. Substantia means first
of all the character of the reality of both the Father and the Son. Both are
spiritus, lTVEVIJa:. The Son has his substantia from the whole spiritual sub-
stance of God, but in accordance with a definite order of origin.
The unity constitutes the triad out of his own inherent nature, not by -any process of
sub-division, but by reason of a principle of constructive integration which the Godhead
essentially possesses. In. other words, his idea of unity is not mathematical, but philo-
sophical; it is an organic unity. not an abstract. bare poiut,42
Dy the substance of God, Tertullian understands a light, Ole, invisible
matter which while being a wlity is differentiated within itsel Father,
Son and Spirit are in the one total reality of God. The Son proceeds from
this one substantia as it is in the Father and thereby receives his own
reality, without being separated. SOIl and Spirit are distinguished through
the order of their origin. Tertullian also describes the character of che Son
(and the Spirit) by the word portio. This does not properly mean 'part'
(pars). The Son is not a 'part' of the divine substance, but has a 'share' in it.
The Father possesses the substal1tiae plenitud", the S011 is a portio and as such
has a share in this fullness. The diville substance is essentially one; the Son
is, as it were, an effluence of this one substance: Pater enim tota substantia est,
filius vera derivatio totius et portio (Prax. IX, 2).
With regard to him (the Logos), we are taught that he is derived from God and
begotten by derivation so that he is Son of God and called God because of the unity of
substance (Apol. XXI, II).
42 G. L. Prestige, God in Patristic Thought, London 19522, 99.

Tertullian makes this community of substance clear by a number of

similes. Just as a sunbeam, the extension of the substance of the sun, re-
mains one in substance with the sun and yet is different from it, so too the
Son of God is 'Spirit of Spirit and God of God' (c Apol. XXI, 12). The
divine substance is thus not divided, but extends itself, and does so for a
special task which the Son has to fulfil in the creation and redemption of
the world. From the divine substantia there comes about a special form of
existence, the status in which God finds himself. He is Father, Son and
Spirit together: 'tres autem non statu, S r1 gradu, nee substantia sedjorNla, Nee
potesfate sed specie. Imius tlutall'l substantiae et UHills statl4s at HUitlS potesta/is,
quia I/I'jI,IS (fl!uS .. .' (Prax. II, 4). By this status of God, TCLtnllian under-
stands God's essential properties which gllarantee his constancy, his inner
coherence, his monarchia. The Im,(/- potestrls, finally, is the keystone of this
unity of God. The 171011(/rcl1i(/ of God is preserved because the Son exercises
only the one rwe of the Father and gives it back to the Father at the end of
this world per"od . The will of God towards salvation is an expression of
the unity of God, the guarantee of the monarchia, and, indeed, so much so
that it is not nJy the norm fthe Son's work but also the ground of the
existence of the Son and the Spirit. 43
It is not our task to show how Tertulliao attempts to envisage the
threeness in God.44 To help in this attempt there are concepts like oiko/'lo-
mia (disposilio, dispmsatio), the names 'Fatber, Son and Spirit', expressions
like alitts, Ill/merus, tril1itas, modllll1s, gradlls, Jo'rma, species and finally the
important word person(/. In this context it is sufficient to indicate the
thought-pattem wluch llnderlies Tertullian's interpretation of the unity
and the distinction in God. Be begins his thinking from the unity, the
origin. The Father is the guarantee of the unity of God, of the monarchia.
The Son is assigned the second and the Spirit the third place. Here Tertul-
lian is thinking not of a purely static threeness within God, the meta-
physical Trinity, but of an economic, organic, dynamic threeness. I.e. for
him the second and the third persons proceed from the unitas substantiae
because they have a task to fulfil Only tbe Father remains completely
transcendent. Because Tertu llian thus has the unfolding of the divine
threeness already happening with a view to creation and redemption, the
step from trinitarian doctrine to the doctrine of the incarnation is easily
taken. Suppose we return once more to the pictltre of the sunbeam45
with which he explains the procession of the Logos:

43 Cf. K. Wi:ilfl, op. cit., 64-7; R. Braun, op. cit., 167-99: La notion de sub~tancc; 19!>-207: La
notit)n de slnllls, srmJlIs.
44 ce. K. WOlf]. op. cit., 68-106; R. Braun. op. cit . 151-242. where the: above-mentioned expres-
sions are examined in detllil. Cf. also B. Piault, 'TertulIien a-t-iI ete subordil)lLtien'. RSPT 47. 1963.
4S ce. F. J. DOiger. 'Sonne und Sonnenstrahl als Gleichnis in der Logos-tbeologie des christlichen
Altertums. Antike und Christentum I, 1929,271-90.

This ray of God, as had always been prophesied long before, desccnding into a virgin
and made flesh in her womb is in his birth God and man uuitcd (ho/'l1o dC/ls mixtus). The
flesh, formed by the Spirit (caro spiritu structa), is nourished, grows, spcaks, teaches, works
and is Christ.46
The Greeks, the Roman authorities and the Jews, who know only the
humilitas conditionis humanae in Christ, will not be deceived when he comes
at his second coming 'in the exaltation of bright shining Godhead', that
Godhead which is the property (res propria) of Christ.
(b) Sermo in carne47
The controversy with monarchianism and patripassianism carried on
in the Praxeas introduces us to Tertullian's characteristic christological
ideas and terminology. The tri-personality of the one God is an uncon-
ditional presupposition for his understanding of the mystery of the in-
carnation. He has defended this in the first 26 chapters against Praxeas, the
mona.rchian. Though he was himself a defender of the monarchia, he had
now in some respects become an anti-monarchian. Praxeas had exag-
gerated the idea of the monarchy and now sought to bring his trinitarian
modalism into his teaching on the incarnation as well, and to interpret
Christ as a manifestation of the Father. On the one hand he wants to say
that the Father became man and suttered (hence the name patripassianism),
but on the other he must concede that scripture ascribes the incarnation to
a 'SOil'. So as not to have- to give up his ideas of the exaggerateclmon,archia,
he helps himself by describing the 'flesh' as the new subject to which the
title of Son pertains. 48 Then the relationship between Father and Son
described in the scriptures is only an apparent relationship which knows no
real difference of the persons. 49 The Besh' and the 'spil'itus', which is the
Father, i.e. the unipersonal God ofPraxeas, together make lip the Christ
of p<ttripassianism ; a very rare christological fram,ework 'spirltus-cnro'.
Tertullian begins from trinitarian presuppositions and introduces the
Logos as a person, thus providing the proper subject of the incarnate. SO
The Logos, or as Tertullian says, the' Serrno'S1 or even the 'spiritHs', the
46 Tertullian, Apol. XXI, 14: CCL I, I2S.
47 See R. Braun, op. cit., 298-326; R. Cantalamessa, op. cit., 6Sff.; 94-6.
48 Tertullian, Prax. XXVII, 4: CeL II, II98: Ecce, illquiullt (llaeretici = Praxeas) au al/gelo praedicatum
est: Propterea quod lIascetur sallctum uocauitur jilius dei. Caro itaque lIata est, caro itaque eritjilius dei.
49 Ibid., XXVII, I: CCL II, 1198: Filium camem esse, id est hominem, id est Iesum, Patrem autem spiritum
id est Deum, id est Christum.
so Ibid., XXVII, 4-6: CCL II, II98: Immo de spiritu Dei dictum est (namely the word 'angel').
Certe ellim de Spiritu sallcto virgo concepil, et quod cOllcepit id peperit. Id ergo lIasci lIaueuat quod erat cO/lceptum
et pariulldum, id est spiritus, cuills et Ilocallilur nomen Emma/lue! .. caro autem deus 11011 est lit de ilia dictum
sit: Vocauitur sallctum Filius Dei, sed ilIe qui in ea natus est Deus, .. quis Deus in ea natus? sermo et
Spiritus qui cum serino/Ie de Patris volulltate natus est. Igitur sermo ill came .
SI On the description of the Logos as serino and ratio see C. Mohrmann, 'Les origines de la latinite
chretienne', VigC 3,1949,166-7; Tertullian prefers the word 'serino' to describe the Logos, especially
in Prax, Mohrmann shows that in Tertullian Prax. V and VII there is a neat distinction between ratio
(Logos ilnlna/lenSj nativitas imperfecta) and serino (Logos procedensj nativitas perfecta): see the analysis of
R. Braun, op. cit., 264-72 (concurrence de 'ueruum' et de 'sermo').

spirit in Christ, is the only subject of the incarnation. In the preceding

chapters, Tertullian has already shown chat he is distinct .from the Father
as perS011, but is one in substantia. Spjrjt~'s' is the same way of describing
the divine nature of Christ as the 'pneuma' which we already know from
the Greeks. This word spiritus often CCllrs when Tertullian wants to
describe the divine nature of Christ. 52 Like Praxeas, he also speaks of the
flesh as the odler factor which is concerned ill the union in Clu-ist. The
Johannine character of this language is obvious. Tertullian does not assume
that anything special lies behind Praxeas' antithesis of spiritus-caro'. His
primary concern is with the Godhead. Thus in many sections of his
writings he himself speaks in the terms of a christology which appears to
recognize only Logos and flesh, although no one had hitherto spoken so
clearly about the soul of Christ. 53
So close a unity is achieved between the Son of God and the 'flesh' that
it is possible to describe the Son of God as the incarnate. Tertullian also
engages in the early Christian practice of the comm~micatio idiomatum. This
is illustrated in a very vivid way in the De carne Christi:
There are, to be sure, other things quite as foolish which have reference to the humilia-
and sufferings of God. Or else, let them call a crucified God wisdom. But Marcion
will apply the knife to rhis also, ann even with greater reason. For which is more un-
worthy of God, which is lUore likely to r;lise a blush of shame, that he should be born. or
that he should die? That he should bear the flesh, or the cross? Be circllmcised, or be
crucified? Be cradled, or be cofiLned? Be Jaid in a manger. or in a tomb? You will show
more of wisdom if you refuse to believe this also ....
The Son of God was CIllCiflCci; r am not ashamed because men must needs be ashamed.
And the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd. And he
was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain, because it is impossible. 54

Although this language is checked somewhat la.ter, in Prax., TertulHan

stands by his chcistological expression, once chosen, but is now fond of
adding the basis or the justification for it. In so doillg, however, he re-
markably enough does not refer back to the unity of person in Christ, but
rather to the duality of the natures (ih De carne Christi this 'is done by stress
on the human nature of Christ, in Prax.55 by the accentuation of the two
natures). This is to be explained from his particular conception of the
unity ill Christ or of the conjunction of the two natures.
What is the relationship of the Serino' to the flesh? Does the incarnation
represent a transition, a change and transfiguration (transfiguratio) of the
.IE. Evans, Agaillsl Prnxeas 63-70 (on Luke 1.35); A. D'A!cs, La IM%gle (Ie l"erlUllicll, Paris 1905,
96-8: R. Braun, op. cit., r89-93, cr.
esp. Pmx. XXVI; Apol. XXI, U.
51 On Tertullinn's doctrine of the soul of Christ see R. Cantnlam(\ssa, oJ? cit., 88- 90.
" Tertu\lian, De came CI,r. V, 1-4: eCL IT, 880-1. See R. Cnnta!ouncss3, op. cit., f78 .
5 Tertullian, Prnx. XXIX, :>.: CCL 11, 1202: Quanqllalll '"1/1
dllae Silbstalltiae 'CII5M"II'lr III Chrlslo 1CSl/.
dlvilla e/ illllllorialalil esse dllllllalll. tlllll lIIo rl(/I~1/I qllae IlIIlIIalln sit, apparel qualclllis
cl/m IIIOrfllU/II diem, id est ql/a camcl/l ct ltom{lIclil el jillmll I,ol/l/n{s, 11011 qUir SpirllulII et sermollcm et Dcl
FiliHlII. See R. Cantalarucssa, op. cit., I79.

Spirit ( = Godhead) into flesh? Or does he remain what he is and is he

merely 'clothed' (indutus) with the flesh? These are the two possibilities
which Tertullian sees. 56 His grasp of the problem is not very deep, and
his answer reveals itself to be no more than a first ventuIe into the
mysteL-Y of the incarnation.
At first glance, Tertullian's particular contribution to the problem of
the unity of Christ is the introduction of the concept of person into
christology, and the christological formula thus fonned, which already
seems to point to the formula of Chalcedon. If we are to be ou the right
lines here. we must attempt to work out an accurate understanding of this
formula. It sounds like the result of long reflection and the consequence
of a bilateral consideration:
Videmrls dllp/icem stattlm, nOlt cOlliusLint sed conirtlle/lwl in Ima persona, Del/III e: Ilomincm
Iesllm-de Christo nflterll difJero--et adeo sallJCI est Htrillsqtlc proprielas substantiae, lit et..Spiritlls
tes SIlas egerit 111 ilia, id cst lIir/lltes ct o.l,ml et siglla, et cnro passiolles sllasjimcta sit, eSlAriens sub
diab%, sitiCItS sub SallJaritide,jleIIs Lazawm, aIJx;lllIsque ad lJIortem, de/liql4c et 11I0rl',a (est.)S?

Writers disagree in the translation and exposition of this important

text, just as they disagree in the punctuation of it. First of all Tertullian
stresses the twofold status, which is given with the duality of the substance
in Christ. This duality must form the starting paitH. Whereas there is in
God only 'one substance', even if it is divided, and thus also only' one
status' (Prax. II), in Christ there is a twofold status by virtue of the twofold
substance. In the language of his time Tertullian could also have said that
there was in Christ a twofold 11atlo/ra or cOl/dicio or qualitas. In choosing the
word status, he is not seeking a juridical expression but making ~he concept
sltlbstantla more precise both philosophically and theologically. In co1-
loquiallanguage status meant state of being', 'situation', 'condition'. But
that is not enough here. Without doubt the Stoic notion of the ens physicum
cOl1cretum is presupposed here-and fr0111 this point we will q}so be able
to cxplainM~ concept ofpersona. Substantia is first ofall seen a ~ VTTOKelJ.l.SVOV,
rOllnd which the oVO'!CX lies. This ouO'tcx forms the basis of the y:o\V~ TT010TT)S,
the 'common quality' of the substance, in our case the Godhead and the
manhood in Christ. For this 'C0111I,UOn quality' or even ~~IS, Tertllllian
chooses the word status. In popular language, stare had become an equiva-
lent of esse, 'be'. Stat/.ls is another e:l9Jression for quod quid. est. It can
therefore be translated 'state of being'. In '\ct it is also elu.cidated ill

S6TertuUian. Prnx. XXVU, 6: CCL II, U99: Igllurscrmo 1/1 camej /111/1 el tIc IloClJllflcrclldlllll/}lIolllodo
serl/lO caro S/I faclllS, IIlnllllllc ql/(/$I lrtlllsfigurnlus III ClIme nn Im/llllls camem. IlI/lIlo il/dll/lls. See R.
Cant:J.I.:lmessn, op. dt., 72-6, on the importance of this ""d"ere came",'.
" Tertullian, Pra.,<. xxvn, .u: CCL IT, It!)!)(. Editions differ in the position of the comma in the
first sentence. Oehter :ll1d J<roymnnn J;)ut: slalulII, 1I0Uco,ili,mlll, sed ,ollllm~/rl/lI. I" UlIll persolla, rlmlll. Sec
R. Cnnta lnmcssa, op. cit., 1 7 1, n. 2, who mentions Dnkhuizcll vall det Dcink QS SllppOrt~l1g our
position: CeL If, il99 i Scatpat.

Tertullian's writing by the word esse. So Tertullian could have been led
to make his choice by this equation stare = esse. Perhaps we should say
with R. Braun:
Cependant. croyons 1l011S, c'est plutot au sens etymologique qu'll est attache (esse a
status): I'idee de 'stabilite de 'presence immuable' du radical stare, estla ligm: par laquclle
il a ete conduit ~ utiliser Ie derive nominal pour Ie certum quid des caractcIOs essentlcls et
diBti:uctifs de l' etce COllcret.58

Statl/S is thus meant to stress the 'permanen t reality' of Godhead and

manhood ill Cl:trist, or as Tertulliau says, deus et homo Iesus.
This 'permal1ent reality' is only preserved because Godhead and man-
hood are not mixed, but merely united or conjoined, and are uruted or
conjoined in una persona. Before we go on to expound and assess this
statement more fully, we must first describe its wider context. If, in fact,
says Tertullian, the unity of Christ were to be understood as a confusion
aud a new tertium qUid arose, then the expressions of the cwo substancesS9
would not appear so neatly distinguished (noM tam distincta documetlta
parerent utriusql,le s"bstalltiae: Pmx. XXVII, I2). A divine-human con-
fusion, so to speak, would have aEPcarcd in the actions as well. Each of the
two substances would then have been mortal, the flesh immortal. But
because the two substances acted differently each according to its nature.
each retained its way of acting (opera) and its own destiny (mortality,
immortality).60 Tertullian sums it all up in a scriptural quotation:
Learn therefore with Nicodemus that what is born in the flesh is flesh and what is
bom of the Spirit is spirit (John 3. 6). Flesh does not become spirit nor sirit flesh. Evi-
dently they can (both) be in one (person) (ill 11110 pl(/ne esse pOSStlltt). or these Jesus is
composed, of flesh as man and of spirit as God : and on that occasion the angel, reserving
for the flesh the designation Son of Man. pronounced him the Son of God in respect of
that part in which he was spirit.61
The conjunction. between the two substallces and permanent realities,
the Godhead and the man Jesus, happens in ana persona. It is worth noticing
at this stage how the transference of trinita.rian couceptuality to the
incarnation proved as easy for tbe Africau as it was hard for the Greeks. It
can hardly be by accident that precisely in his Agail1st Praxcas Tertnllian's
formula for the incarnation closely follows the development of trinitariau
conceptuality; here there is an analogolls use of the salUe language and
concepts. The triwIC God is differeut in person, one in substance: 'You

58 R. Braun, op. cit., 207.

5' For the important 'dune subSlatlllnc' formula, see R. Cantnlnmessa, op. cit" :rOS-IO.
~o See R. Cantruamcssa, op. cit., 18J-(J: II 'dlstil/Cle ngcru' e Ie propriet1l delle due nllmrc.
61 TertuJlian. P"L>:. XXVIf, 14: CeL II, 1200. For cite auti-Mn.rcionitc character. orthe christology
ofTcrrullian see A. D'AlC$, Tcrrulliell. 162-200; G. Quisl'eI. D e Dram/ell 11011 T,'rtul/imllls adl/. MarciD-
nelli, Leyd en I9-H; E. C. Blackman, MardOl1 alld 111'.1 ilif/IICfI(', London 1949, passim; R. Cantalanlessa,
op. mt., 11!)-2S (Valc:ntinus-Marcion); Ba~bara Aland, 'Mardon', Z1'IiK 70, 1973. 420-47.

have two (Father-Son), one commanding a thing to be made, another

making it. But how you must understand "another" I have already pro-
fessed, in the sense of person, not of substance.'62 Person and substance
stand, then, one over against the other as the two planes on which dis-
tinction and unity are to be sought in the triune God. Both terms in
Tertullian are accompanied by a number of secondary and explanatory
expressions: 1. /'Iomen, specics,jonna, grad-us; 2. deitas, virtus, potestas, status
and also res. The second series expresses the ground of the unity in God,
the .first series gives the ground of distinction. To this persona also belon gs. 63
What does this word mean in Tertullian's theology? We will give briefly
its etymology, its use ill Tertulliall, the sources of this usage and nally its
theological significance.
The etymology of this word is still not finally explained, and the
history of its interpretation is very complicated. 64 The latest attempt (with
F. Altheim) is to derive the Latin persona from the Etruscan word phersu,
and in turn to bring this into connection with the cult and rites of the
goddess Persephone. According to this explanation, the name of the god-
dess was used to describe the 'mask', because masks were used on the
festival of the goddess. "Perhaps an adjectival formation lay at the root,
e.g. (Ian/a) persol1a-Phersonian mask. The substantive fell out, and the
adj ective remained as the word for mask. This resul ted for the Romans in a
remarkable mixing of stems, as 'persol'/us' (from persol'Jal'e = resound) and
'persona' = mask fused into a unity. It was possible for the word personare
to be associated with the completely different etymological formation
'persona' = mask (from Persepona or (larva) persona = belonging to
Phersu) because of the psychological and teclmical effect of the mask. The
history of the meaning of the word pcrSOtla, then, began with Etl'Uscan
rites and from there was extended to the stage. As the style of the Roman
theatre clearly shows signs of Etruscan inHuen,eeI it is probable that this
was the way ill whid the word persona acquired for itself the meaning
'mask'. By the time of the Second Punic War persona had already taken
on different meanings-theatre mask, cllaracter in a play or 'theatre
role', perhaps also as early as this 'person' in the grammatical sense.
Thus the meaning of the word developed very quickly, and by Cicero's
62 Tertullian, Prax. XII, 6: CCL II, II73. C ibid., II, 4: CCL II, II61: Unius autem substantiae et
ullius staWs et UI/ius potestatis, quia un us deus ex quo et gradus isti etjormae et species ill I/omine Patris et Filii
et Spiritus Sa/uti deputalltur. Similarly ibid., VII, 9: CeL II, 1167: 'quaecumque ergo substantia sermoll;sjuit,
iIlam dico personam et ill; nomw Filii vindico, et dum Filium agnosco seculldum a Patre difendo.'
63 In de.scribing the Logos M 'res et persona' in Prax. VII, 5 (eeL II, 1166), Tertullian only means to
say agaimt Prnxeas t1t:1t the Son is not a mere mode, but divine substance, res. For he explains how
he understallds the Son, 'subsrmltil/Us ill re per substal/tiae proprietatem'. Tertullian's concept of persona
should tMrcfore not be reduced to a technical legal level as it is by A. v. Harnack. See E. Evans,
'Tertullian's theological terminology', CQR 139, 1944-45, 56-77; Against Praxeas 38-75; R. Braun,
op. cit., 181-2 (res-substantia); 188-94 (L'application de substantia 11 la theologie).
~. The following after M. Ncdoncelle, 'Prosopon et persona dans l'antiquite dassique', RevSR 22,
1948, 277-99; H. Rhcinfcldcr, Das Wort Persona, Halle 1928; R. Braun, 0p. cit., 207-42 (!); R.
Cantalamcssa. op. cit., 15~6.

time it revealed all its riches at once.6S How does Tertullian use the
Persona is rarely used to mean 'mask' or 'theatre role' (Nat. I, 16, 5;
Spec. XXIII, 5; Carn. XI, 5). But it occurs frequently (about thirty times)
in Tertullian's writings with the meaning 'person'. Tertullian had no
difficulty in transferring to the Godhead the designation for human
individuality. Along with the rest of Western Christendom he also laid
claim to and made use of a biblical expression to describe 'in.dividuality',
'personality', which as a result of its Hebrew origin and Greek usage came
very near to the meaning 'countenance'. This was acceptio (exceptio,
respectus) personae (personarum), Aa~I3CxvEIV, 1tpocrcu1ToATW\IIla.
One particular stimulus towards the theological use of persona was the
expression ex persona, mru (El<) 1Tpocr6:mov, 'through the mouth of .. .'.61
This phrase was allotted a special role by the Christian exegetes who were,
however, probably influenced by the rheto icians and grammarians.
Philo appears to have pioneered this 'prosopographic exegesis' (Vita Mays.
II, 23). Christian theologians like Justin and also Hippolytus, Clement and
Origen used phrases like 'ex persotla Patris', 'ex persona domini' to give a
dramatic description of the inner life of God and so to stress the distinc-
tion within God against the monarchians and against the Jews. The biblical
use of persona itself or of 1TpocrCU1TOV in the LXX further favoured a theo-
logical specialization of this expression. Tertullian's writings provide seven
places in which he begins from the biblical usage ofpersona, viz.1Tpocrcu1Tov. 68
In Marc. III, 6, 7 (CCL I, 515: persona spiritus nostri Christus dominus) and
Marc. V, II, 12 (CCL I, 698: persona autoll dei Christus dominus) Tenullian
describes Christ as the (visible) facies of the (invisible) Father. Behind this
there stands the biblical usage of prosopon. Persona with this content, how-
ever, occnrs only in a few places. The other texts give persona with the
meaning 'individuality'. Here the Greek prosopon is wrongly interpreted
in the sense of the Latin concept of persona.
Now if persona was to receive a technical significance in theology, it
needed to be made more precise. Adv. Prax. shows us this process, which
65 Collection of the evidence from Cicero, Nedoncelle, op. cit., 297-8. It is significant for us that
persona can mean: person in law- as opposed to case--pe.rsonality or concrete charncter of:111 indivi-
dual. Finally, the philosophic conellpt of pcrwn is already apparent. Thus Ncdonccl lc, 01" cit., 298,
can say in summing up tlte developU1en t of tile term persona : 'Un peu avant I'Cfl: chrctienn~, i1
pouvait deja exprimer l'idee d'individualite humaine avec plus de frequencequenele faisait1Tp60''
06 The following after Draun, op. cit., who, of' course, does not go sumcicntly into the S.t oic
al1QI-ysls of tile e llS cOllerN/lllt plryslCl/IIJ arId thus does nor fu lly defme tire bre;ulth of the COllcept of
persona in Tcrtulliau fro~ the point of view of the nistory of theology.
G7R. Braun obviously does not know C. Andrcsan's jmpo~tallt study 'Zut ntstehung und
G~scbidlte des trinimrischcn Personbegrilfes', ZNW 52, 1961, I-J9, which makes a more detailed
investigarioll of the prosopographic exegesis of scripture.
68 These are collected in Braun, op. cit., 216-17 (Herm. XVIII, 2 = Prax. VI, 2; Marc. 111,6,7 is to
be compared with Prax. XIV, 10 and Marc. V, II, 12; Marc. III, 22,5 is to be compared with Seor.
VIII, 2; Marc. V, II, II with De res. mott. XLIV, 2; Marc. V, II, 12; De res. mort. XXIII, 12; PUQ.
XIII, 2). The underlying scriptural passages are Provo 8. JO; Lam. 4. 20 (LXX); Isa. 57. I; Ps. 4. 7;
2 Cor. 4. 6, 10; Acts J. 20.

consists essentially in the provision of a link between substalltia and persona.

The way to this seems to have been pioneered by the Gnostics. On the
basis of Tertullian's Adv. Vaicntiniattos IV, 2 , R. ~raun points out that
Ptolemy regarded the aeons as personaics substantiae existing outside the
Godhead, while Valentinus himself included them in the Godhead as
sensus et affictus (et) IlIotuS. Tertullian did not give au interpretation of
Gnostic doctrine with this expression; it waS the Gnostics themselves
who had already created it for him. It seems that the concept of the
'divine person' already had a part in the Valentini an system. Whereas
Valentinus was here conscious of the meaning 'countenance' and mmli-
jestatio, in the West the meaning 'individuality' became predominant as a
result of the contact with the Latin persona. Perhaps, however, the two
meanings are not so 1.f apart as Braun seems to suppose. We must come
back. to this. In any case, it is fairly certaiu that persona had penetrated the
theol,ogical realm even before Tertullian,69 as is clear from 'prosopo-
graphic exegesis', the Bible itself, and the Gnostics. The formula 'two
prosopa' already occurs in Hippolytus, C. Noel., before Prax. was writ-
ten. 70 The cOllcept of the 'divine persoll' was already the common prop-
erty of a number of theologians at the elld of the second century. Thus
Tertullian needed only to make clear to Praxeas a concept which had
already been illtroduced, and the already existing conjunction of Sl/&-
stemtia and persQtIQ. Iu addition, however, he had a special incentive for
this. Praxeas will not ascribe reality or personality to the Logos. He will
not conccde that the Logos has his own prosopotl. 71 To prove the contrary,
Tertullian begins with popular ideas of ,person' which he fUlds evidenced
for ci'leLogos in scripture. A person is a being who speaks and acts. Now
God the Father and the Son speak one with the other (Prax. XI, 7). Be-
sides, the Bi ble uses the plural for God (PI'(lx. XII, 4, wi th referencc to
Gen. 1. 27). There are also rcports of dilIi rent voces, which must have been
uttered by different persons (Prax. XXIII, 4 with reference to the trans-
figuration and other scenes). Finally, th differcnt names refer to different
persons. Thus-Tertullian concludes-the Logos is substance and person:
quaecumque ergo sHbstmltia sermol'lis fllit, illam dieo personam (Prax. VII, 9).
Person is only realized in a substance and is a special reality in the sub-
stance .
. This now leads us to the last question. What speculative content does

69 H. Rheinfelder, op. cit., would see in Tertullian and particularly in his work Prax. the beginning
of the theological-technical use of persolla.
70 f. HippoJ., Haer. 7: N'IUdn. :14712- 13 ; I,~ : Nautin, 255)0-257J.
71 Tel'tllllinn, J'rax. VII, 5; C L II, 1166 ; Ergo, /I/qrris, dr/s lI/iql/lIl11 substantiam esse sermonem . 7
Plalle. NOli fI;S el/lm ellll' slIbs/nlllfllll", ',abae ;11 re Jlur sII/lS/(/lItiae praprirlatem, u/ res et persona quaedam
uideri possil et Ila cap/at SCClllllllls a deo const;tutus dU(lS efficqrn, Patmll e/ Fi/ium, DeulII et Serlllollem.
The author of the PltiloSOp/Jolllllwa bears witness to the same thing for Noetus (Elellchus 9, I2, 18-19;
GCS 26, 2497rro); Origcll for the modalistic patripassians (fr~g. i/l Tit.: PG 14, 1304). Cf. Braun,
op. cit., 230.

TcrtuUian give to his theological use of persona? We can pass over the
meaningjacies, 'countenance', here. It was already given him by the .Bible
and is associated with no particular philosophical content. The meaning
'individuality' is another matter. It is, as has already been indicated, to be
conceived of philosophically along the lines of dle analysis of the ens
cOllcretum physiwnl. as it occurs among the Stoics.12 FrOlll this aspect we
can understand why s.,bslatltia and persolla can have something in common
and why they are fit1ally opposed. We said earlier that in the Stoic idea the
ens cO/lcretuln is built up from the hypokei111eilOlI. This is first made concrete
by the KOIvr, nOI6'TT)S so that it becomes a KOW&S nOl6v. The individual
being is only finally completed by the !olC( nOI6T'llS. Only on the basis
of properties, proprietates, !oI6T'llTES, can a being act and move. These
properties are also described as species, EYooS, as 10/'l1'Ia, JJop<P~, as character,
by which the individuality is made complete. Now this individllality is
described as npoO'c.YlTOV, as lJcrsol1a. We have some indicati llS that prosopon
and l)ersona have already penetrated theologica11anguage with this sig-
nificance. Irenaeus thus describes the relationship of the four written
gospels to the one gospel which is the message ofJesus Christ:
Vm,; onllll!S et indocti el Insuper audaces, qui frustrantur spec/em evangeli; ('!~II 16tO:II 'ToO
E\JayyeMov), el vel pfures 1ualll dictae sunt, vel rursus pauc/ores inferunt personas evangelii
(iv<xyyeMc.l1l 'lTPOOC<llf(X) (Ad'l. hner. III, 11,9).

It is clear that persona, prosopon, here has the meaning of concrete, ulti-
mate form, of ultimate individualization, over against a single generality
existing not in itself but precisely only in concrete manifestations. The
one gospel exists as 'quadriform' (quadriforme, 'TETp6IJ.op<pov; Adv. Haer. ill,
II, 8). Tertulllan. too, regards the relationship of persona to substantia as
being of this kind, or knows of it. The Gnostics did not want to describe
the relationship of sOlll and body as a relationship of two different sub-
stances but wanted to see in the body only another form, manifestation or
shape of the soal and to regard it as another power.71 While 'Tertulllan
rejects this explanation of the relationship of body and soul, he sees in it a
possible interpretation of the Trinity and then also of the relationship
between Godhead and manhood. The one substlll1f.ia in God has three
figures, forms, species, gradus, personae, by virtue of a division of the one
divine substance-again understood in a Stoic way. So in God there are
n See B. Zoller, Die PlrilosopMe rlfr Gr{~cllCl/, Leipzig J9l0~, lIT, I, 95; Pohlenz. Die Sloa 1. 64 ff.;
H. D orrie, 'y..roo.auIS. Worl- lind Bedeul",'gsgescf,{c},le (NGott 1955, 3) 35- 92, esp. 61 ff.; E. Schendel,
Hemc/raf/ ,/lid Umerrvcrfiwg CI"isti (BGDE n), TUbingc/1 1971, 30-'73. esp. 48- sl.
73 l'ertuUian, De animll XL. 3: CCL II. 843: odeD nulla proprktas /,omjllis ill (hoiro, ,we {fa larD 1'01110
tOllq,mm nlia fils a ll {mae el alia pcrso),a, sed res ~sl nlterills plnlle sflbs/mllilfe el 'tiller/liS ,olldidelll is. CE.
Br:lul~, op. cit .. 227, n. 2. who rightly says due persall" here has tbe: meaning 'forme, pte5entatioll
d'nut renlite qui a une individuaJiti, aspect pnrticullc:r d'Wl cere'. Note the: tC[C!rl!nce to the 'u/s', the
dYffllfllls, which for the Stoic is only given when rhe fmal stage of CO!lcretcness hM been [caohed.
Cf. p(Q.'(. VI. I (Ji~rso"lI-flls).
three persons. But what is the position in the case of Christ? Is the Stoic
understanding of persona also presupposed here?
It should be noted that Tertullian is not concerned wlth the explanation
of the unity of Godhead and manhood in Christ. He merely means to put
right the christology of the monarchians. For them, Christ was a composite
being made up of God the Father and themauJesus, in one person.74 The
Father is the Godhead, the Son is the manhood (Pater = deus; Filit~S =
homo). The one is named 'Christ', the other 'Jesus'. Over against them
Tertullian asserts that Godhead and manhood may not be divided between
Father and Son in this way. The Son is not the 'flesh',75 but unites both
realities, Godhead and manhood, in himself without confusion. The
Logos (Sen/1o) already has a peculiar reality, a status, a persona in God. As a
result of his assumption of human nature, however, this person of the Son
has a twofold status, Godhead and manhood. Tertullian's intention is to
express this fact of the constitution of Christ thus composed and its
relationship to the Father. In this he does not mean to bring the question
of the unity of the two substances in Christ into the foreground. He is
more concerned to stress against Praxeas the Son's own character as
'person' and against Marcion the distinction of the natures. So we fmd the
statement: 'Videmus duplicem statum, non confusum sed coniunctum in una
persona, deum et hominem Iesum.' The 'coniunctum in una persona' may not
therefore be interpreted in such a way that 'in una persona' already pro-
vides the e)..1'lanatioll of the manner of the conjunction of God and man in
Christ. The way in which TertllUian conceives of this unity is to be dis-
covered from other expressions. As a result of these it transpires that
Tertullian has not yet considered what unity of person in Christ means,
whether the 'man' in Christ has his own prosopotl. In other words, the
Chalcedonian problem of the relationship of nature and person has yet to
present itself. Tertullian does not yet in fact have tbe explicit christological
formula of the future 'una persol1a, duae n(/t~trae, dr,rae sHbsta/1tiae', though he
seems to be only a step from it. He is primarily the theologian of the two
natures or the two substances. This he says of Christ, whom he means to
have clearly distinguished from the Father as a person.
lfTertullian does not interpret the lU1ity of Christ in the light of the
concept of 'person', he has nevertheless a definite conception of the unity
of the two substances in the incarnate one. Here he remains within the
framework of the Stoic krasis doctrine,76 which knows of a mixtio or total
mutual penetration (compenetratio) of solid bodies which retain their co-
74 Tertullian. Prax. XXVII, I: CCL II, II98: Undique enim obdueti t/istinctione Patris et Filii quam
manenfe coniunetiolle dispollimus .. , aliter eam at/ sl/am nihilominus selltentiam illterpretari COllalltur, ut
aeque ill una persona tlfrumque t/istinguant, Patrem et Filium.
75 Ibid., IS: CCl II, 1200: Novissime, qui Filium Dei camem interpretaris, exhibe qui sitjilius hominis,
IIUt numquid Spiritus eritl
76 This has been demonstrated by R. Cantalamessa, op. cit., 135-50.

natural characteristics in the process. He also understands the unity of

body and soul in man in the same way, ascribing a 'corporeality' to the
soul. Thus he defines man as 'concretio sororum substmltiarum' (De (//lima
LII, 3). 'Concretio' is a rendering of the Stoic KPO:O'IS.77 He now also
applies this doctrine of the mixtio to Christ by speaking of the homo deo
mixtus and of Christ as miSCC1ttc il1 semctipso hominem el 8 As P/,(/X.
XXVII, 8 and 12 show, he first of all excludes in the case of Christ the
mixing of the two substances in a third (a tra11.sfigtlTatio et demutalio sub-
stantiae, a /I'lL tura tit electrum e.' aura et argeflto; a tertium ex utroq/lle cOl1fusum;
a tertia a/iq~/a forma ex c01,ifusione). It is the mixture 'secundum cOlY;Jsiolt.el1/
(KaTCx O'vyxvow) which the Stoics know. On the othcr hand, they also
recognize a purely e>"'1:cmal union of b dies, a iuxtapositio (1T<xp66eO'lS);
for the Stoics, between: the cOIuusio and the iuxtapositio there lies the mixtio
(J..Li~IS) ,79 i.e. the total mutual penetration of solid bodies which preserve
their co-natural characteristics, and the concretio (KpaOlS), the complete
mutual penetration of fluid bodjes which preserve the corresponding
properties. Since the cOl1ji-lsio of Godhead and manhood is now excluded,
the question remains which other of the ways of conjoining indicated
above Tertullian Dlcans by his 'col'lhmclus'. Tertullian speaks of a 'col1iunctio
corporis a/'/.jmacque' (De anima XXVII, 2) which for him, however, is a
concrefio, a KpaalS 51' OACUV. In trinitarian doctrine he knows the 'person-
arum cOrLil1nctio' which is given on the basis of the one substance. This
shows that in christological doctrine also the cOllitmctio is not to be ex-
plained as a h{x(.apositio 80 but on the lines of this KpaOlS 51' OACUV. Tertullian
confirms this himself in saying in Prax. XXVII, 4: caro et Spiritus (i.e.
flash and Godhead) ill uno esse POsstf1lt. This duo in uno esse is for Terttlilian,
as for the Stoics, the technical expression for the physical Wliol1 of the
KpaO'lS 5,' OACUV. In choosing for this the more obscure coniunctlJs he was
governed by the fact that in his controversy with Marcion the demonstra-
tion of the reality of the two natures or substances in Christ stood in the
forcgrowld. He could Il,o t stress the lUlity too much.
By this it is dear that Tertullian has not yet grasped the full depth of tbe
christ logical problem of how thc unity and the distinction in Christ are to
be envisaged. He drew some basic lines for the solution, which could be
enlarged in latcr tradition. Whether his first beginnings here were really
17 Demonstration, ibid., 139-40. C'll1tl1.lruncssa rightly points out chat TertuJ.Ji:lIl alIow~ himself
certaiJl freedoms in the application of the Stoic krn!i.~ dO~rfine because of the demands of polemic.
I flc same is nho true oCche an:1lysis ofchc t liS p/tysicuw (Ollfretum.
16 Tcrtullian. Apot. XXI, T4: Marc, If, 27.6; Dc came Clor, XV, 6, and esp. 18 : eCL n. 906,
Tenulli:m appears to undeIst;mG\ the ullion of God and man in Christ here on the lincs of tl,e union
of the S,'lIIt" virile with the lIIaleria "" 'rillll: 'vacaha{ sewell vlrl nplld /lauell/em Dei selllell , . sic delllqlle
IWllla C"I/I Deo dum cllro homillis CI/III Splrilll Dei.' Tcrtullian here forgets to strcss the role of the soul
of Christ, which be do~s not overlook c'lsewlll~re.
19 When Tertullian. Prax. XXVII, 8, excludes a mix/ura, he means by this word confusio, avyxvals
or I1(Yl1a, not l1i~IS, cf. Cantalamessa, op. cit" 145-<1.
eD This is shown by a comparison with Novatian. cr. R. Cantalamessa, op. cit., 147-8.

appreoiated iS I however, another question. The most striking thing in his

writings seemed to be the formula of the una persona in Christ. But tradj-
tion up to Augustine is silent about it. Augustine himself(see below) seems
to have discovered it independently ofTcrtullian. Had Tertullian thought
his Stoic beginnings right through to the end, he would have been thrown
up against the same problems as Nestorius-according to the interpret.'l-
tion of the latter advanced here. In the time ofNestorius the problem of
the unity and dis,tinction in Christ is fully raised and in his writings we see
how unsatisfactory Tertullian's first beginnings prove. Despite the way in
which inruvidual conc:;epts ofTertulliau's-uot his formula-already seem
to point towards Chalcedon, his speculative understanding is still 'lr
removed from it. 81 But in that he regards the unity of subject in Christ,
along with tradition, in the light of the Logos (Senno) and holds to the
COl11fl1l1nt:catio idiom,atum, his christology is preserved from the crllis to
which his speculation would have had to lead him.


Although Tertullian's formula tlrla persona might have aroused atten-

tion, pointing so much as it did towards Chalcedon, it is noticed little,
either by Latins or by Greeks, in the next two centuries. The christo-
logical problem is not yet seen rOUL the viewpoint of the concept of
person. Only at the end of the fourth century (in the writings ofJerome)
and finally from 4f.1 in dle writings of Augustine does una persona acquire
a new christological significance. 82 Though N0vatian83 strengthens the
terminological link between christology and trinitarian doctrine,84
though he speaks of the 'person' of Christ, he does so always in a trini-
tarian sense. Like Tertullian, in so doing he is still stressing the distinction
between Father and Son.8S Like Tertullian, and even more than Irenaeus
and Hippolytus, he is set on distinguishing the natures in Christ, those of
the 'Son of man' and the 'Son of God', going on to speak of a 'permixtio'
and 'connexio', a cOluordia, a concretum and a confibulatt'o.86 The w1ioll in
81 In my account in Chalkedon I, 48, I have over-estimated the significance of the christology of
52 See R. Cantalnmess3, op. cit., 168f. However, Cantalamessa, op. cit., 94f, 126f, has been criti-
cized for his thesis that til/a persona in Tertullian should be understood in trinitarian and not christo-
logical terms. Cf. H. Karpp, ZKG 75, 1964, 369-71; M. Simonetti, ' "Persolla Christi" Tert. Adv.
Prax., XXVII, II', RivStor LettRel I, I, 1965, 97f.
83 Novatian, De Trinitate: On the threefold God. Text and German translation with introduction
and commentary edited by H. Weyer, DUsseldorf 1962; A. D'Ales. Novatien, Paris 1925; R. Favre,
'La communication des idiomes dans l'ancienne tradition latine', BLE 37, 1936, 130-45; J. Barbel,
Christos Angelos, Bonn 1941, 80-94; cf. F. Scheidweiler, 'Novatian und die Engelchristologie', ZKG
66, 1954-55, 126-39.
84 R. Cantalamessa, 0p. cit., 169. Cf. especially Novatian, Trin. X, XI, XXIV: Weyer, 78-89,
15 6-61.
8S Novatian, Trin. XXI, XXVI, XXVII: Weyer, 142-6, 166-8, 168-74.
861bid. XXIV: Weyer, 156-61; cf. R. Cantalamessa, op. cit., 147-8.

Christ is thus understood and explained along the lines of the Stoic
i ::Ibl to express both the unity of subject and
1<pCXO"lS 01' o7loov. Novatian
the duality of natures in Christ in an advanced formu la, as when he speaks
of Chdst, the Son of God, as the Verbum Del incarnatum 87 or already intro-
duces the distinction that Christ is 'qua homo ex Abraham', 'qua Detls ante
ipsum Abrahom'.8S And yet Christ is 'one and the ~ame' . 89 Novatian's
criticism of the docetism, modalism and adoptionism of his time, which
he bases firmly on biblical arguments, leads to some confusion of two
christological frameworks. On the one haud he sets the 'Son of God' over
against the 'Son of Man' to combat the tendency of these heresies to dis-
solve Christ's manhood, while on the ot! er hand he speaks in the 'Word-
flesh' framework so as to stress the Godhead. Here his starting point is
John 1. 14.90 His formulation of the mystical-sounding expression the
sl'onsa caro', which the Son of God has assumed (Tritt. XIII, 68), stems from
the resting on each other of the Word and the flesh (caro Verbum Dei gerit,
et Fi/ills Dei jragifitatem carnis assumit, ibid.). He finds no difficulty in
fitting together the two frameworks of christological thought when lle
And how is he the firstborn of everycrenture except by being tl1nt divine Word which
is before every creature; and therefore, the firstb m of every crea.ture, he bceotncs .aesh
and dwells ill llS, that is, asswnes that man'~ nature which is after every creature, and so
dwells with him and ill him, in us, th:lt neither is JlLUllllllicy takell away from Christ. nor
his divinity denied?91
Here he is not thinking expressly of the soul of Christ, even when he is
explaining the death of Cilrist. 92 There is, of course, no particular reason
why he should mention it at this point. as he is merely preserving the
clause 'God has died' (Tritt. XXV) ag::linst misinterpretation. Death
affects only the flesh, the body, the man. It concerns the Godhead in
Christ as little as it COlJcerns the soul of the ordinary man. So over and
over again we find the two contrasting pairs 'body-soLD' (ill the ordinary
man) and 'Word-flesh' (in Clu:ist) placed side by side. EVen if it is legiti-
mate to use tlllS comparisoll in the argument, the neglect of the soul of
a7 NOV~ti3Jl, Trill . XXIV, l38: Weyer:, 1S8: prl,IClpnlller nufell/filiulIl del esJO- verbum del il/Carrm/IIIII
. . . III, (SI ~u illl legit/milS dc/filills. qui ex Ipso tleo esl, qui, dlllll SntIC/IIIII i5/111/115SIII,,11 tt .~Ibifililll/l /,o/llllli,
mmcc/il et i11l1m ad Ie rapil atque Irall.ldllGiI, COIICX/Ollt SIIII t'I ptnlllxt/ouc sot/mil prllCslat t l filllllll II/I/m dci
jtlCil., quor/ iIIe IIQt"roliter 1101/ filii, III pr/llcipnlitas 1I0/llillis ;stills.!ili,H dti ill spirilll sit domllll, qlll dUCDIlr/it ct
veJlit, III seqllcla 1I0lllillis isllll< III jili" dci CI I,Olliillls silt r l rttt l'ito cOIIsCqllrtlttr I,ie fili'H del fnNus sil, dlllll
IIOlI/Jrillcipn/itl!l' jilius del ~Sl . Novatiatl thus clear! y l' in some degree Ihat Christ's coustitutian
is to be understood as 'verblllll dd 10(.url'lllll/l/1' and that (he Son oC God 'i5 the st:lbjec[ of the incnrnatiou.
The dcso'iption of rho. assumprion of the 'jilius 1IOIIIIIIis', however, shows Antiocllcne [eatLlres. The
uilion Itliclf happens by wa y of the Stoic COll1}(IItlrntio between the descending 'Spirit' (= Logos)
;!nd the assumed Sou o f M:IfI. The impcnnissibiUty of sp~-aking of a spi~ic christology in the same way
as F. Loofs .is [i~htly stressed by H. Weyer, l~8. Jl. 92. .
Ii NOvn.tl3.Jl, Trill. XI, (io: Weyer, S8. cr. already Tertulltan. PfIIX. XXIX, 2; CCL II, 1202.
'9 Novatian., ibid., '111wc eJlJldcm'.
90 Ibid., XIII. 67-71; Weyer, 94-9. 91 Ibid., XXI, 123; Weyer, 144.
911bid . XXI and esp. XXV: Weyer 144-{), 160-5; A. Grillmeier, ZkTh 71, 1949, 31f.

Christ is nevertheless striking. Novatian's christology therefore represents

a remarkable mixture in which the old Roman Logos~sarx christology put
forward by Hippolytus still plays a large part. There are, however, at this
stage growing traces of the Verbllm-homo framework characteristic of later
Latin theology.


TJle special centre of christological reflection in the Greek-speaking

wocld of the third century is Alexandria. It is to lllaintain its leading role
for a long while. Wherever Alexandrian theology penetrated. the picture
of Christ has been lastingly influenced by it. For in it the doctrine of the
Logos and the incarnation occupy a central position. even if they are at
the same time seen through a special Alexandrian prism, in Clement from
a Gnostic and ethical point of view, in Origen from the viewpoint of the
imago doctrine and mystical knowledge. This distinction should not be
taken in an exclusive sense.

(a) Clement of Alexandria

A masterly investigation has recently been made into the subjective
conditions or the 'pre-understanding' of the christology of Clement of
Alexandria, taking account of previous scholarship.93 The idea of'Gnosis'
is the deciding factor for him. In Clement it contains the following
e1emen ts: (r) an esoteric ch:nactcr, which is given to it by the acceptance
of symbolism iu scripture and the existence of a secret tradition; (2) the
role of the Logos as the source and the teacher of'Gnosis'; (3) the ideal of
cOl1templa tive life in close COllj wlction with~ the idea of separation from the
sensible world and communion with its intelligible realities; (4.) the role of
the encyclical disciplines and philosophy in the construction of'GnosiS'; (5)
the allegorical interpretation of the Jewish tabernacle and the entry of the
high priest into the holy of holies; (6) the journey of dIe 'Gnostic' soul
to heav:en and its divinization.94 Lilla stresses that the first four points
concern the first stage of 'Gnosis~, i.e. the Gnosis which can be attained
in earthly !.ife. Point (6) On the other hand, concerns the second stage, i.c.
the 'Gnosis' to which the sou.l a,ttams after its separation from the body.
Point (5) concerns both stages.
In dependellce all Jewish- Alexandrian philosophy, Middle Platonism,
Neo-Platonism and also the Gnostics, Clement has a tendency to describe
the esoteric character of 'Gnosis' with terms from the teaching of the
PJ The rcferonce is co the study by S. R. C. Lilla, Clement ofAlexa/II/ria, Oxford 1971, 142-89, which
has alrl';ld.y been mentioned above (p. 193). In the following, particular reference is made to ch. III,
'PISlis, Gliosis, Cosmology, and Theology', U8-22.
~4 Ibid., 143.

mysteries. This tendency to stress the esoteric character of 'Gnosis' is

reinforced by his understanding of scripture: scripture needs to be inter-
preted allegorically because it is veiled in symbols. This makes compre-
hensible the assumption of a 'secret tradition' in contrast to the common
Christian tradition. This secret doctrine also came to Clement from
Christ-by the apostles. It is impossible to follow J. Dani6lo11 in deriving
this view of Clement's from Jewish-Christian apocalyptic; rather, we
must go back to Gnosticism,9s or more specifically to Valentinian
In the present context, the role of the Logos in commllllicating secret
doctrine should be noted. Just as in ethics the Logos acts both as a meta-
physical principle and as a historical person, so also in gl10sis he has the
same dual role.'96 Knowledge of the supreme deity can be attained only
through the in termediary of the Logos, the second hypostasis. Hence there
arises the position of tlle Logos as the 'teacher' in Gnosticism, and also as
the high priest. As he may enter the innermost sanctuary of the holy of
holies, he has full knowledge of the :first principle. We are reminded
of Philo and his doctrine of the priesthood of the Logos, and indeed
of Gnosticism. 97
But the Logos cannot remain purely on the level of a pure metaphysical
principle; he must have a relationship with history. Clement already
bridges the gap by regarding the Logos, as pneuma and Logos spermatikos,
as the source not only of philosophy but also of the prophecy of the old
Testament. 98 But the Logos intervenes in history above all in Jesus
Like Justin, Clement begins with the Old Testament theophanies,
in which he sees a preparation for the incarnation. 99 The incarnation
95 Lllln, op. cit. lSS-? Lilla refers to a letter of Clement which has only been discovered recently by
Morton Smith in the library of the Syrinn monastery of M~r-Saba, ~nd nlso mentiom W. Jaeger,
Early CilrlMiQljily alld Greek Pnideio, Cambridge, Mass. I(}6S, S6-? and 13z. n.42. In this letter Clement
5peaks of a seoret trad ition,which nlso C3111C to the sect of the C;u;pocratians, 'but which they handed
on with many errors. Lilla commc'It:S, 157(.: 'It is important to notice that Clement does not reject
at all the C~rpocrntian conception of the secret tradition but, 011 the contrary, nccepts it entirely,
limiting h imsclf to \'Xjlressjng SOllle reservations on its contellt. The conception of the secrct, esoteric
tradition of gliosis is the same both in Clemellt and ill Gnosticism.'
90 Ibid., IS8, with many instances from the SlrOIllOla.
97Tbid., IS8 and 173. with [Cferellcc to P. Heinisch, Dey EII/fills$ PMlos IIIIJ di~ iir'~s(e cllr{s/l{cllc
B:'(egcse, MUnster 1908, 233-9 ('the high priest'); 240-9 (the tabernacle); C. Montdcsert, Clemellt
d'Alcxolldrie. flllrodll rlioll .; {'etude de sa pellsee fdlgiciisc portlr de /'Ecrltllre, Paris 1944, 172-8Zi id . 'Le
syrnbolisme clIcz lCmellt d'A!.c:xandclc', RSR z6, 1936, IS8-80. For Gnosticism see ibid. , 160-3,
wid, inBtailces.
~B Ibid., 9-59 (Clement's views on the origin and vnlue of Greek philosophy).
99 Sec G. Acby,us lIl{sslol/s diuilles de Sa;III}II$1I11 aOrigfl/e, Pribow;g 1958. 120'-46, H. A. WolfSon,
TIle Philosophy oj tile Church Par/leTS I. Cambridge. Mass. t956, 193-zS6; A. Mehat, 'VhypotMse des
Testimonia 11 I' ~preuve des tCOID.1tes. Rcmarqucs sur Ie! citations de I'Anciell Testament chez
Clemc\,)t d'A1cxandric', La Bible tI les Peres (Cal/orr/le de Sirasbollrg 10 '-3 DecO/ire J969) , Paris 1971,
Z29-42. Some rC/Wlrks which describe Clement welll1l.ig ht be cited: 'Non seuiemcnt dOllc CI6mcnt
a cO'1scrve des Tesflmollia, mais encore il ell ~ conserve I'Csprit, il en a au moins I'illtcntioll . . . . 011 a
eXllgcrc I'hellenisn'lc de CUmcnt. Mai! cnfill iLest assurement Ie plus hcllcl1 iS'l!nt dcs Peres de I'Eglise
avant Niecc' (2.33) . 'n estlc de.rnicr des percs. on l'(1 dit, qui soit ellcore au contact vivallt do 1:1 tradlnOll
itse1 however, is something completely new, just as there are also a new
people of God and a New Testament (Paed. I, 59, I). The incarnate Logos
as Logos retains his transcendence, which he has in common with the
Father-an advance on Justin and the Apologists, who had exaggerated
the transcendence of the Father and based the possibility of a mission of
the Logos ou his diminished transcendence. His eutry into history, how-
ever, makes him its centre ana completes the Old Testament theophanies.
His coming is the sign of the Father's love for men (Paed. I, 8, 2; Protr.
n6, I). In him a new sun rises on the world (paed. 1,88,2), the sun of the
revelation of the Father which alone brings us the true light of the know-
ledge of God (Protr. II3, 3). The incarnation is the Son's step into visibility
(Strom. V, 39, 2; 16, 5). The Logos begets himself-Clement applies
Luke I. 35 to the Logos-without thereby becoming twofold. He re-
mains identical with himself (tv TCXVT6TT)TI).lO() He is one and the same
who is begotten of the Father in eternity and becomes flesh (Exc. Theod.
7.4; 8. I). The Gnostic multiplicity ofLogoi and redeemer figures js thus
strictly repudiated. Clement stands by the Johannille prologue. This gives
his christology a clear line and focus in contrast to the Gnostic dissolution.
Of course in Clement the relationship between the inner begetting of the
Logos in God and the incarnation is as unexplained as in the early theolo-
gians considered hitherto. The starting point of the mission of the Son into
the world is the begetting of the Logos as the Imago of the Father, as his
prosopon (Strom. V, 34, I). 'The prosopon of the Father is the Logos, by
whom God is made visible and manifest' (Paed. I, 57, 2).LOI The Son as
iucarnate is thus the prosopon of the Father, but is so because he is already
the Imago of the invisible God fr0111 eternity (Strom. V, 38,7). By virtlle
ofms being begotten of the eternal Nol,ls he is already 'revealer' by nature.
So closely, however, do eternal begetting and incarnation seem to be
linked together that cile fust only takes place because the second lies in the
purpose and the love of God (Q. div. salvo 37. I-2).
S. R. C. lilJa, in accord with the majority ofmodern scholars, has again
stressed the development of the inner 'three different stages of existence'
of the Logos; at the same time, however, he points to the contacts
between Clement and Jewish-Alexandrjan philosoph-y, MiddJe Platon-
ism and Nco-Platonism:
The Logos is, :first of all, the mind of God which contains his thoughts; ~t this stage,
he 'is still identic.'ll wltl1 GO'd. In the secbnd stage, he becomes a separate hypostasis,
distinct from the first llrinciple; in this stage, he represents the immanent law of the
universe or, in other words, the wocld-soul. 101 _

apostolique. U vnut dOllcJ~ peine de voi[ comment il cite I'Ancient Testament' (238; c ; Jid., 238-41).
Sec id., Ell/de slIr ler Strolllotes de CIVlIlellt d'Alexntldrie (PS 7), Paris 1966.
100 See G. Acby, OJ?_ cit., 125; R. P. Casey,ITS 37,1924,43-56 (on the rejection O~'l doubling of
the Logos).
101 for the Logos doctrine of Clement see S. R. C. Lilb, op. cit., 199-212.
102 Ibid., 201, with numerous examples of the origin of these ideas.

The inner oikonof1licr of God is coupled with the outer one, just as cosmos
and salvation are conjoined. Clement progresses from the idea of creation
and incarnation to the idea of the church (Paed. I, 27, 2). In the church, the
school of the divine pedagogue, Christ is our father, mother, guardian and
nourisher (cE. Paed. I, 42,1- 3). In that the Christ becomes the abode of the
Logos through the baptism" he is made like to the Logos aud God (Paed.
m, I, 5). Risen like the sun iI).. the incarnation, he will become the sun of
the soul (fillios IjJvxfis) and escort it oahis chariot to the Father (Protr. 121,
I ; cf. Protr. II8, 4: picture of Odysseus' ship).
The fact that ill contrast to the Logos concept of Middle Platonism,
which is defined predominantly in personal and cosm.ological terms,
Clement identifies the personal pre-existet1t Logos with the historical
person Jesus Christ, shows his essential distinction. from all non-Christian
Logos and pneuma doctrines, however lTInch they may have influenced
him.113 As Clement is so en<ll1';l.oured of the Logos idea, the emphasis 011 the
descent of this Logos into the flesh is especially marked (Strom. V. 105, 4:
Tf)V eis cropKCX Koeo50v TOO KVpiov). This katabasis becomes a presence which
can be comprehended by the senses (Strom. V, 38, 6: CX\crellTi] 1TCXpovcr(cx), as
being bound to the flesh.l04 We shall now look at this picture of Christ as
a unity of Logos and sarx rather more closely.
The unity in tension between tbe Logos and the flesh is the predominant
factor.1 05 It is true that Clement ha$ repeatedly been suspected of docetism,
but he consistently maintains the reali ty of the humal1 nature of Christ,
though at the same time his tendency to spiritualize seems to make the
reality of the incarnation merely relative. 106 Attempts have also been made
to interpret the Egure of Christ which Clement presents as the lllliOll of
the Logos with a mere unsouled fleshly nature, a position where the
special significance of the Logos ill Alexandrian christology would be-
come manjfest.1 07 Put in these terms, however, sllch an interpretation is
mistaken. The tradition of Christ's soul is clearly stil! so vigorous that
even the teaching of animation through the Logos callnot obscure it. loa
Nevertheless, we find in Clement precisely that element of the 11011-
Christian Logos doctrine which leads to the total obscuring of the dis-
tinction between Logos and soul in his christology. His teaching on 1TOell

10J 1'. B. Pndc, Logos Tlicos. U"fcwlclttlllgcl/. oZl/r Logos-ClIrlsrolagit' des Tirus Flavius Clemms VOII
Alcxm,dritl'. Rome 1939. 60-3; M. Pohlenz. Sroa. 415- 23 ; G. Verbeke, L'evolutioll de la doetrille du
p//el/II/Q riu SloTclsllfe ,)SO/III AUgIlStill, Pnris-Louvnin 1945. 429- 40; S. It C. Lilla, op. cit., 20rif.
104 Clem. Al., Profr. III , 2: GCS I. 79.
lOS M[C)r P. D. Pade, Logos Theas, where the l ogos-concept is speci:!l ly developed, also T. RUther,
'Die Lciblichkcit Christi nach Clemens Y. Alcx>mdrien', TQ 107, 1926, 231- $4.
106 T. C3mclot 0.1'., Foi cl G'IOSC. Tllfroriueriol! aI't!tude de la cO/llwissnrrte mysrique cI,ez Clem ellS d'AI.,
Paris 1945. 80, 88[. C tile fine formub in Protrept. 7, 1: vOv 01') hre<pCw'1 CcyOpW1TOlS ailTos OU"TOS 6
Myos. 6 ..6vos /l:p'l'w, 6~tls TS Kal dv6pW1TOS.
101 See Chalkcdoll I, 6], n. 28.
108 Demonstrated in T. RUther, Leiblicltkeit Chrisri, 235. 247. Cf. also the testimony of Socrates on
Clement. HE 3. 7: PG 67, 392A.

is an indication of this. Clement distinguishes two kinds; the one is neces-

sary for the preservation of the body (Strom. VI, 9, 71), the other is a
suffering of the soul. The latter in particular must be subdued in a Christian
ifhe is to be a Gnostic; ill Christ, 1T6:e11 of the soul are quite unthinkable.
On the other hand, bodily sufferings are necessary for the ordinary man
(KOLVOS avepc.;mos) because of the 'economy', to maintain bodily life. But
from either point of view Christ is without suffering. He does not need
the automatic, bodily impulses to maintain his (always rea l) bodily life.
On the contrary, these are replaced by the indwelling 'holy power'.1 09
Iu him, therefore, apathei(1 is complete because the indwelling Logos cau
itself perceive those necessities which arc brought to the notice of the
ordinary man by the impulses which the creator Logos imparts. Without
doubt we can trace here a s.trong Stoic clement-the doctrine of the
f1yelJ,ovIK6v. Clement knows it, and knows ie, moreover, ill its original
Stoic form, even thollgh he expauds it by adding biblical concepts. The
AOYIO,lK6v and TJyE~OVIK6v is the fundamental basis for the organic
unity of a Ilving being, its oV<IToO"tS (Strom. VI, "135, I-4), the seat of free
will, decision and the power of thought. It is so to speak the soul of the
Now if the nyelJ,ovIK6v in its inmost being is noue other than the Logos,
or that part of man's being Wllich has the greatest participatiou in the
Logos, the christo logicaL significance of this Stoic anthropology is im-
mediately clear, as too is the indication of the danger to the traditional
christology. Clement speaks of the 'governing power' of the Logos.JIl
Now jf this Logos, entire and personal, has takeD up its dwelling ill
Christ, according to Clement's Stoic-Philortic doctrine of the soul it
mwt also be the predominant f1yeiJwv of Cl1rist's human natnre. When
the original appears, the copy must lose its place and fllUctiol1. The lower
soul of Christ, then, remains throughout an irl,strumcm in the service of the
Myos 1'jyel.lwv, as it is also the mediatrix between ,;yslJ,ovlK6v and body,
and lies like a coverillg arollnd the inmost kernel, the 'inner man'.lI2 Bl1t
10' C lem. AI., Stroll/.ru. 6, 49; GCS tI, :u8. Cf. T. ROther, Dk sillliclie FordrtllJlg dcr Apt/II/cia ill
dell bcidw crstCII chrisll. ja/rr/lllllticrtc/l rlllt! bci ClerrrctlS II~/I A lexGlulrialt , f1reib urg 1-94'>, Sa-60.
110 See the index in O . Stlihlin (GCS), 447. Fucthcr on tilt: nnthropology of C lcmcmt in F. RUsche,
BIIII, Lcbm 1111.11 Stele, Padcrborn 1930,401.-12; id., Das Srclelll'lIfUrrrn, p ..clcrborn 1933: G. Verbeke,
Plleullla, 429-40. Importnnt for the history and ~igni.fic3nce of the /wgemoulkOit is E. II. lvnn\m, 'Apex
Mentis', Zk17r 72, 1950, 129-76; on the Ston. 147- 60. Th is is a field of p:lrtiC1.ihr Philonic influence,
thrOIlSll which Stoic artd Platonic ideas worked upon tbe Alexandrians. On ['hilo, sec F. ROsche.
D/trl,1.cbm lit/II Seide, 364-401.
III e lementAl., Pncd. T, 7,58, T: GCS I, 2<\., cf. rudex, 447.
l12} bid., m, I, I, 2: GCS 1, 236: 'Seeing now thnt the SOld consists ofthrc.e pacts, the power of
though~ (TO vo.p6v), which is nlso called AOYIOTIKOII, is the illlrer tIIllII, which here governs the visibl e
DI:111.' The expression ',inner lunn' (6 &:VepW1TOI 0 ~\l6o\l) should be noted. Henceforward it is to play n
great rolc. Clement, like other representntives of [he chrlstologicnI lise o( 'outet' and 'inner' man,
goes right back to Paul, who for his part spenk$ In the I~nguagc of his time. From tJlis, nn anthropo-
logical fratllcwnrk develops in the wrirers of the chwch. Cf. 2 C lem. 12, 4: ~al TO E:~w ws 1'0 EO'c.>.
700.0 MYEl. ,.",v IjJ\JX''lv A!yEl ,.0 ac.>, TO Sf t~c.) TO aCl llcx iI/iyet. O "i gen Irequently $I?e~ks of the 10'(0)
&:v6pwn'oS. In the newly discovered AIOI\'K'IOS npos 'HPCll<AE!SCXII, ed. J. Scherer, ErrlrelicII d'Origallc allcc

in Christ, the 'inner mal' is the Logos, whicll ill Clement's christ logy
becomes the all-predominating physical principle. The power of the
Logos makes a transforming intervention in the physical body of the
Lord. Clement takes over a CUl-iOUS point of view from the Gnostic
Valcntinu , that no true digestion and elimination of food took place in
the L rd (Strom. m, 7, 59, 3). A still mote sllspicious idea occurs in the
Gnostic 'Acts of John', which Clement uses for the exegesis ofrJohn I.
There the apostle speaks of a tasting of the 'Word of Life'. Clement re-
ports 'traditions' according to which John could thrust his hand into the
inside of the Lord's body and there directly feel the divine pOWer. 1l3 The
Logos is the 'sWlbeam' in the depths which must be distinguished from
the bodil Y,~ature, th~ corp~s qfl~d ~rat ext!'insecus, and it i~ certainly regarded
as the real mner man that 1$ wlthm ChrISt. In such a chnstology the human
soul of Christ can achieve no theological significance, though to claim
that 'a positive understanding of the redemptive meaning of the incarna-
tion in Jesus is completely lacking in Clement'1I4 seelllS to us to be too
harsh. His whole christology is not to be identified with a Dumber of
speculations influenccd by Gnosticism and philosophy.

(b) Origen
Ou.r consideration of Origen-as ewier that of Justin, Temillian and
Clcment-must begin from the church's tradition, and more particularly
from Holy Scripture. Only in this way call we form a right appreciatioll
of his theologoutltena.m There is a real traditional basis to his cbristology

1-1lral/!tf~ d res ClltqUrs ies comgll~s slIr Ie P~re, Ie Fils, ell' am. (Textcs ct Documents 9), Lc C:Ure 1949,
14Jt-<i (new cd. SC 67, 76-So),llc devotes n whole section of his argtllllcnts to the distinction betweell
'outar' and 'inller' m~1L The chrIstologic:al sIgnifJ.cnll.CC of ~n :tpplicnLion of this distinction to the
person of Christ is evident. lr the ' illUcr Illilll ' is tAken \IS mall'! ptopel" being. it seems probable that
in Christ the Logos should be regarded as this in ner n1.1n. To fit in with the basic :I1lthropologicnl
fu1ffiCWOrk this c:tO happen eithcr with o r WIthout the in,e1usioll of the (higher) soul of C hrist. There
3re . keady exnml.)Jes,of sl,lch conceptions in Gnosticism; cf. the Pislis SO/Jilin, which has the power of
the grent Sabnoth, the Good, entering into Maryin plnce of tbc soul ofJ esus: dl. 8, cd. K. Schmidt,
KQplisc/l71lTOsti.lcbe &briJlolI Berlin 1959l, 8--9. For Vnlcntinian Gnosis see G. Quispcl, 'The original
doctrincofValcntinc', VigC I, 1947,66.
III C lem. AI., ArlullIbrat. (in I John I): GCS HI, 2 10: 'E IIliI//II/S,,' illqllil, ' /wslrac cOlllmetal/m llll 'de
verba I/ilac'; 11011 SOIIlIll camcm eius. svd </illl1l virllll~S ciusdcmfilii siglli/ical, simI radills solis "s'l"e ad hacc
i'!fi ma IDea peTlmll.liell.!, qui railills ill came velliells pnlpllbl/isjaclus esl tiisciplliis . . Exegesis in T . RUther,
Ldb/idlkcl/ Cllfisli, 251-3 .
m A. Wintersig, Die Hcilstlcdcll/lIIlg dCT Mellse/teil Jasll (,I net lIontielillisc/,etI grice/tise/ICII Thea/ogie,
Tliblllgcll 193:1., TJ..
11$ This 'Origell the churchman' is developed pArticulnrly in ). DaniBou S.)., OrigclI, London-
Ncw York 1:95 5; more strongly in H. de Lubne, T:Jisloire <I Espril, PariSI9So; ,Co H. C rouzcl, '!1I/!alogie
de I' [1/I1l,ge de Dim cllez Orlg~lIc,Paris 1956; ici., Origem ella 'comlnissa/ICe lIIy~liqua'. DcscIcc de J)rouwcr
1961; i<l., Origtltl~ ct III p/Jilosophie (Tltcologie 52), P~s r96z. Aga inst, /Vl. I:Iarl, Or(gcllc ct 1ajMerio"
rlvula/rice cl/l Vcrbu lucnrne, Pa.ris 1958 (with cl<~.:ruive bibliography); It P. C. Hanson, Allegory alld
EVfut, London 1959; and now F. H. Kettler, Dcr IIT.rpriillglic/w Shill clf( Dogmnlik drs OrigcllfS, Berlin
19M. For critkisrn of Rettler ~ce M. Simonetti, I Prill';pi di Or~geue. TOlino 1968; id., 'Nore .ul1,
tcologi:!. triliit:lrin di Orlgenes', VC 8, 1971, :1.73- 307: H . Crouzci, Bib/iograpMu critilJll( cl'Origalle
(InsttuIIlonca Patristica V Ill) , Sttcrtbnlgl:tis 1971, nd :H1./1. I!)66, !lIb nom. K. For OrigCll'S methods,
reference may again be made to M. Simonetti, 'EradCOllC C Otlgcnc', VC 3. 1966, 3- 75.
which is, moreover, e."q)ressed particularly clearly, as for example in his
recognition of the two natures of the Lord.llCi
More important than the question of the relationship between Godhead
and manhood in Christ, as far as O rigcu js concerned, is the overall
framework into which his picture of Christ is inserted. He js said to be the
.first Christi.-m systematic theologian, even if no agreed view has yet been
reached on his theology.u 7 The more the flll1damental principles of his
theology are recognized, the more profound a vjew of his christology is
possible. But precisely here is the point at which contemporary theology
is in dispute. Only a few points of current concern need be mentioned, but
once again the question of 'Origen the churchman' comes to the fore.
Hal Koch has sought to understand Origell from outside, i.e. from his
context in the history of thought. 118 Origen is the Christian philosopher of
'educative providence'. He appears as a drinker who more than any other
understood the problems of his time and gave a Christian answer to
them. U9 W. Volker seeks an auswer from within, by studying the
mysticism of Origen's spiritual expcriencc.l 20 By contrast, A. Lieske
rightly emphasized that Origen was a theologian and mystic of the
Logos; nor did he forget the trinitarian bearing of Origen's theology and
his ecclesiology.l2l In this study, however, Ougen may be seen too little
as a theologian of the saving economy of the Trinity, and. too little atten-
tion may be paid to the role of the Holy Spirit. The concern of a morc
recent investigation is to lmderstand Origcn's doctrine of the Trinity
completely as a function ofrus 'spiritual teaching'.L22 The dynamism, the
passion in the Alexandrian's reflection 011 the Trinity, reflect his question-
ing about the soul's (re-)ascent to God. To this intent, the various tasks of
the Logos and the spirit in the divinization of the rational creature must
first be demonstrated. The Logos has a twofold role: it is the source of
1160ngen . COI/IIII. ill 10. T9. 2; ibid . 10. 6: GCS rv. 176; E. Corsini, COII/mel/io ~I Val/gelo dl
Ciollam,; di Or/gmt, Totino 19Ci8, 386, where Corsini also refers [0 Hom . il/jfr. XV 6. Origen describes
the cllristologianl heresies which. bave emerged up to his time and which dCllY either the Codhead
or the manhood. He means to IUQintni n the Tecognilion o f the two . According to hri<rian teachin g
Christ is n 'composite being' (aiwO..6v TI xpiiIJa): Clr. Celr. I, 66. If w e Cllll [rust Rufinus' transla-
tion, h.e is aho the first to introduce the expression Delfs-homo: Dc [Jril/c. II 6, 3: GCS V, 142, 13-
Cf. M. Simonetti, 1PrillGipl di Origen" 287.
m Cf. Hugh T. Kerr, T he Plrst SystemalicTheologiall.OrigmofAlexandria.Princeton. N .J. 1958;
see also the work by F. H. R<:ttlcr mentioned above.
113 Hal Koch, PtOlloill IIIld Pl/idcl/sis. Siudiel/ fiber Orige/Jes Ulld sein Verhiilillis zum Platol/islllus,
Derlin-Ldprlig 193.2.
119 H. Dur[ie. Die p/~/Oliische The%gie des Kelsos in iltTer A,fSCilwfflfersclzuug mit der chrisllidlen
TlleDlogie III!! Crlllu/ vall Or/gelles c. CdslIlI/ 7,4ZJf. (NGott 1967). howcvcr, finds that Origen has not
adequately understood Cc1sus' thinking.
no W. Volker .ons Vollkollllllfllheitsitlrni des Origellcs. E ille Ullletslldlllllg z ur Cesc/Jic/Jte der Friimmig-
keit ulld zu dell 1l1lf1i1'.~CII ,lirisllfclter Mys/II.!. TUbingcn 193T.
121 A. Lieske.Die 'rhe%gie dcr Logoslllysi/k lt~i OrigclI ~. MUnster 1938. For Origen's ecclesiology see
J. Chenevert, . J., L'Eglise dalls /e COllllllel/wire d'Orig~lIc sur Ie CIIII/ique des Calltiques (Studia 24),
Bruxelles-Paris-Monlre:u 19Ci9.
122 J. Rius-C-amps. EI dll/all/ismo Irll/ili/rio etI In dlll/lli.lll;:;01I de los seres raclollales segull Origelles (OCA
188), Roma 1970.

creature1y ratio, but also of supernatural sapientia. The pneuma inserts

itse1f between these two functions. It provides a new substratum, which
makes it possible to receive 'the wisdom of Christ'. The Spirit appears as
'materia spiritualis' which is informed. by the 'Logos-wisdom'. To these
diifereut fWlccions of the Logos and the Spirit in the economy of salva-
tion correspond their different constitLltions within the Trinity, The
Logos, which proceeds from the will of the Father. needs the anointing
of the Spirit to be constituted. The Word spoken by the Father still does
not have a numerically diiferent existence from the Father by virtue of
being spoken. Bllt the Spirit also needs the Logos. It pre-exists primarily
as so to speak an amorphous 'materia spiriturr[is'. To achieve full existence
the pnellma needs to be informed by the Logos. The Holy Spirit is
neither unbegotten like the Father, nor begotten as is the Son, nor is it
created like other creatures. It issues from the Father and becomes a sub-
sisting h-ypostasis by meaus of the Logos. Thus it belongs on the side of
God, but is in third place after the Father and the Son. Rius-Camps believes
that the different constitutions of the Son and the Spirit have their founda-
tion in two basic dispo itious of God the Father, i.e. in his Fatherhood and
ill his Motherhood . Here Origen is said to refer back to all anthropo-
morphic conceptuality (that of bi-sexuality), used by the Gnostics to
interpret the iuteJJ.igible world. RillS-Camps accords these Gnostic notions
no more than the role of a catalyst in Origen; they are not a real source.
Origen's starting points are-it is c1aimed-gcnuiucly biblical, but have
been given particular emphasis by the Gnostics.
Does this stress on pl1eumacology in Ol-igeu produce a new picture of
the place of Christ in the Alexandrian's system? M. Simonetti 11as made
some important comments on the impressive researches of the Spanish
theologian.1 23 H ere we extract some remarks about the position of his
Lo schema fondalUclltale, in base al quale Ocigene considcra iJ rapporto fra Dio c il
mondo, c uno schema impostato in senso radic.1lmente cristocentrico, ncl senso che nella
figurn di Cristo Logos egli vedc reaJizz.'lta ed eSQurita nell'l forma pill alltentica e piena
ogtu possibWd di mediazione fra jj Padre cd il mondo nel doppio aspetto dj 3zione
providCllziale di Dio nei confronti del mondo e di rimrno del mondo a Dio. In tale
selt1plici~sil'no schema nOll resta margine apprezzabile pet imeril'e in mal1iel'.1 organica e
distintival'opera dello Spirito santo. D'altra parte la tradizione affiallGava, nella professione
d:i fcde,lo Spirito santo al Padre ed al FigUo; in osscquio ad essa Ocigcnc nOll lUI aweo
diflicolta ad affillnc:u'e 10 Spirito smIto al Figlio nell'opera di mcdiazionc, e 10 introduce
IOllge lalclJlle in turte Ie Slle opere come Spirito di Dio e di Cristo; )!lla ha trovato evidenti
diflicolta ad assegnarli lln molo specifico ne1l'opera dimedinzione fra iLPadrc e ilmondo,
sopranTtto i.n rapporto alia soverchiante prevalellL< del Figlio in tale opera ill med.i3zione
(295- 6).

m M. Simonetti, 'Note sulla teologia trinitaria di Origene', VC 8,1971,273-307; id., I Principi di

Origcne (Classici delle Religioni), Torino 1968: Introduzione 45-55.

In altri termini. mcntre Origcl1c ha avtlto ben. chiaro i! concetto che tutto quanto il
Padre fa, 10 fa attraverso I'opera del Figlio. solo p:.u:rialmente doc nella snncrificazione e
nella inspirazione scritturistiC:l, ha inserito in talc unita d'aziolle 10 Spirito santo: I'ambito
operativo del Padre e del Figlio coincidc perfettamentc e abbraecia l'alllbito operativo
dello Spirito santo; I'ambito dello Spirito santo invenee ha comprensione minore rispetto
a queUo comDlune al Padre e al Piglio (298).

Thus christology retains its central place in the system of the Alex-
andrian, for all the importance of pncumatology.
Origen, however, is not primarily interested in the ontological constitu-
tion of Christ. He sees Christ above all as mediator of the mystical union
of the soul with the hidden God, as mediator between church and God,
and aU tJlis from the viewpoint of the union ill knowledge and in love.
Logos, soul of Christ, the huma~uty of the Lord, are seen in the service of
that movement in which God goes out from himself and returns to him-
self. The Platonic pattern of antitype-type shows the poles between
which this movement takes place and in addition helps to make clear the
tension there is between them. The whole drive is from symbol to reality
(truth). Despite the extent to which Origen's christology incorporates
the traditional doctrine of Christ, his Godhead and manhood, and of body
and soul, it is completely moulded by his subjective interests and thought-
patterns and hence by his mysticism. This is why his doctrine of epil'loia
could become so central for his interpretation of Christ. 124 The epil10ia is
typical of Origen in so far as it has a subjective and an objective side. It is
'title', 'expression', and at the same time objective reality. The tides or
names have a corresponding objective reality. From a christological point
of view the epiltoiai are the objective perfections of Christ which display
a hierarchy within themselves. Whereas strictly speaking there is no
J?lllrality of stICh epinoiai to be found ill God the Fatller because of his
absolute simplicity, Christ as multiplex ;11 constitutione has room for a
number of such titles, not only from a soteriologicalloint of view, but
also in respect ofllis very cOllstitntioll.125 Christ is calle wisdom, might or
power of God, Logos, life, etc., and receives these names already in his
divine nature. Merely by virtue of the supreme and mst epilloia, i.e. in so
far as he is siluple wisdom. 126 he is a multiplicity :

124 Cf. H. CTOUZel, CO/Illaissallce mystiqlle, 389-91; esp. A. Orbe. La Epilloia. Romae 1955. 16-32; F.
Bertrand, Mystique de jtsus chez Origelle, Paris 1951, 15-46; ]. Rius-Camps, E1 dillamismo trillitario,
12' Origen, Comlll . {II roo I. 20; GCS IV, 24, 23ff.;:e. Corsini (sec nbovc, p. 139) I S4f. and IL 42:
'Anche il NallS pJotiniano divent~ rnoltcplicc (1TQMs) . Sin pme con intcudil1lcnti c con impostn-
ziollc molto diversi, resigcnza tanto ill Piotino quanto in Origenc In srcssn: risolverc ilproblcI113 delln
mcdin7iOll~dnll'Uno 91 rno\rcplice, il problema ehe era stoto pasto d;l l PIll'J/JcHirla platonlco, illterpreta-
to ill un c~rto UlOtiO. Sll qucsto punta Origenc ritorna sovente. in senso pill squisitamemc mctnfisico:
il Logo~ I: 11 COll1pleiSO multiforme dcgli iutclligibili, deUc r!lgionc dcgli esseri: cr. l, 243 - 4+; XIX,
II~6-?; De fr/lle. I, 2. 2. (V, .28, 1"3ff.) ecc.'
1U On tliis important cOllCept sec H. ]ncger. 'The Patristic COI1CCptiOll ofWisdolll in the Light of
13iblicnl nnd n.1bbinical Research', SI"dPa/ IV (TU 79), Bedin 1961, 90-.106.

Nos nihil pI/mill et humanum de Christo !fl'ltillmus, sed Deum pariter atque hominemfateamur,
quia et 'sapientia' Dei 'multiplex' dici/ur, uti per haec mereamur participium sumere 'sapielltiae
Dei' qui cst 'Christl/$' Iesus Dominl/s lIoslcr.127
Most instructive of all is the 'Father-Son' contrast. Although Origen
can also describe the Father by many names, he regards the nature of the
Father as being utterly incomprehcusible and transcendent (De prine. IV,
14 [26]). It is another matter with the SOI1. 111 him the transcendent proper-
ties of the Father take form. The Father can be described as the 'Father' of
truth, wisdom, the Logos, but this way of speaking does nOt comprehend
the rea l transcendent properties of the Father. If the Son is spoken of as
truth, wisdom, etc., the expressions are not relative ones, but real descrip-
tions of his being. So in the Father the epin.oiai are not objectively mani-
fold; this is becallse of his simplicity and his transcendence. In the Son,
however, there is an multiplicity. According to scriptLue he
bears many names.128 All must be considered with equal care. Some (the
Gnostics) give too great predominance to the name Logos-wrongly, in
Origen's opinion. The names of christ are partly independent of Adam's
sin (wisdom, Logos, life, truth), partly dependent on it (light of mCll,
firstborn of the dead, shepherd, physician, priest, etc.). The epirloiai of
Cluist are partly absolute, partly relative ('for us', as our sanctification, our
righteoUSJ1CSS, Oll[ redemption). Another arrangement distinguishes tlll:ee
classes of names: (I) those wllich are given to Christ alolle; (2) those which
are proper to Christ and others; (3) those which describe Christ only in
relation to others, e.g. shepherd, way, etc.
The Son, then, is the revdatioll of the Father and his mediator towards
the world. From his begctting onwards he exists for mankind.1291n him
the transcendent properties of the Father take form, as the expression of an
objective, i..l1expressible reality. By mcatls of participation, Christians too
for their part cau express th.e perfections of Christ and further tlJ.e Wl-
folding of the epinoial:. By means of the knowledge of the perfections of
Christ they themselves ascend to the Father. That is why Qrigen works so
hard to discover a hierarchy of these names. Here, too, lies for him the
solution of the problem of unity and multiplicity in the tension between
God and the world-a problem which has been making itself felt in
Christian theology ever since Justin, Tatian and the Apologists. He bases
his cosmology and his soteriology, exegesis as a method and mysticism as
the ascent of the s01.11 to God, all on the doctrine of the ep'inoiai.l 30 Above
all, the epiPloiai show the fullness of being in Christ, they show him as [he
fullness of good things. 'For trus reason OrigcD continually points out that
127Origen. In Lib. Iesu Nave Hom. VII. 7: GCS VII, 335.
128F. Bertrand, Mystique de Jesus, enumerates 34 names.
119 Caw/!! fragmellt <i: GCS IV, 486""; cf. A. Ocbe, Epillain 29,
110 Cf. G, Gnlber, ZfJH. Wesell, Sit/fell ul1d'Mfileil,ltIg des rvnhren Lebens be; Origenes (MUnchener
TheolOgiBchc St\ldien lizJ}, MUncheD 1962, 241-67: Das'Lebco nls Epinoia Christi.
"Jesus is many in accordance with the epinoiai".'13l The different titles, i.e.
the designation of Christ according to his benefits and his virtues, do 110t,
however, clissolvethe unity of Christ. 132
Origell now also takes up his interpretation both of the relationship
between the Godhead and the manhood of Christ and of the place of the
soul of Christ into his doctrine of the mystical ascent of the soul. The
Logos is the itnage of God, but the soul of Christ is the image of the
Logos. It is worth noting that 'Logos' stands as a personal name for the
'bridegroom of the soul':
The soul is the bride of the Logos ... she takes him to herself, him, the God-Logos
who was in the beginning with God, who of course does not always remain with her ...
but sometimes visits her, sometimes leaves her so that she willlol1g for him still more. m
As the embodiment of all being, the Logos comprehends all the titles of Christ in so far as
they give definitions of Christ's nature. So the title Logos enjoys a certaill pre-cll1incncc
(i.e. as the embodiment of all these names, not regarded by itself in isolatioll as with the
Gnostics). The Logos is the Only-Begotten in whom all other titles have substantial
being.1 34
But the way to the Logos-God is by means of the 'Logos incarnatus'.
Christ's manhood is the starting point of the ascent. It is not that the
ascending one has to leave it completely behind. Even Christ in his ascen-
sion into heaven did not leave behind his manhood, as some assume. These
are combated by Origen. 13S With the progress of the ascent of the sow,
the manhood of Christ merely becomes more and more (and finally in the
eternal vision completely) transparent for the Godhead. In the Logos, of
course, all the secrets of God are first contained. He reveals tIle Father. The
manhood of Christ, like Holy Scripture, is like a ftlccr through which the
Godhead is imparted in accordance with the receptive capability of mall.
Christ is a spiritual nou.rishment appropriate for all. Hence the doctrine
of the different forms lU1der which Christ is perceived.136 This may not
be interpreted as docetism.
Le theme des differentes formes dl'l Christ nc conccme pas directement Ie corps humain,
mais Ie rayonnement de Ia divil1ite atravers lu i. II n'y a pas la ombre de docetisme. De soi
Ia divinite transparait toujours atravers l'humanite de Jesus: it y a union de personne entre
Ie Logos, son arne et SOil corps; l'humarute est signe de la di vinite et la porte. 131
131 Ibid., 246.
132 Instances in G. Gruber, op. cit., 259-63, where reference is also made to the significance of the
conceptual framework hypostas;s-ep;llo;a in Origen's controversy with the Illonarchians.
133 Origen, Callt. III: GCS VIII, 218 9 - 1'; in G. Gruber, op. cit., 263, with other instances.
134 G. Gruber, op. cit., 263-4.
Us cr. H. C,ouzel. 'COIlIWifSa/lr~ mystique', 460-S .
,. Exnmples, ibid, . 470-4. Hor~ the doctrine of the epillo;lI; is :mocinted with the idc~ or the change
In the foon of Jesus. La 1l1ultiplicite du Logos s'cxprime donc nU$si par son incarnation: cllllcun
Ie voyait de In f.1~on dont i1 ~t1it capable' (ibid., 471); cf. G. Lomicnto, 'Cristo dldasbJos dci pochi
c In cOlllmunicazionc ai molti secondo Origclle', VC 9, r97l , 2S-54 .
l7 fbid., 474- III thi s COntext H. CrouzeJ also deals with the question of the simpllces' and their
restricrion to the Illanhood of Chrisr(476-8Z). cr. SeT. jJl Matt. 27: GCS Xl, 4S i9rr : the neshly men
see only the external appearance of Christ's body, the spiritual men do not notice it, so as to focus their
whole attention on the works of his divine power.

The relationship between the Son of God and the man Jesus Christ on
the one hand and the various anthropological elemcnts already existing
in man on the other is expressed particularly clearly ill the COII/tlIl:lIfary 011
Joll1l I, 28. In connection with Ps. 44. 8, Origcn points out the difference
betwecn thc tides 'Christ' and 'Icing'. The title 'king' has its basis ill the
status of the firstborn of all creation, that is, in his divine nature (c Col. I.
Is)-a saying which Origen interprets in a different way from that later
adopted by the Arians. To the manhood of Christ, or the 'assumed man',
he assigns the name 'son of the king' which is introduced in Ps. 44. 8.
However, he immediately issues a warning that the unity of Christ must
not be surrendered in this distinction. Thus in Christ there is a twofold
rule, that of the Son of God and that of the man Christ. In accordance
with this, men are led in different ways:
Whereas some are led by Christ as the 'shepherd' bcc.'luse they :Ire capable of being
guided :lnd the part of [heir soul which is o~lts ide reason is tranquil, others come to him
as the 'kin.g', who rules over the rntiollal spiriL and raises it up to worship God. But there
are also diJferences among those who are under his sovereignty, dependiug 011 whether a
man is (tiled over mystically and with i'ncxprc,/;$iblc lllysccJ;Y, according to God's fashion.
or in a lesser way. I would say thar those who attain to the sight of incorporeal things ...
are removed OLltside all matters of the senses by the 'Word'. They-arc ruled royally by the
guid:lIlcc oEthe Only-Begotten. However, those wllo Illy penetrate as mr as the word of
sensual things and reverence the Creator throll~h these, are also wled by the Word and
to the same degree stand, under the Lordship of Christ. But let no on,e take oJfen,cc if we
distinguish aspecs of the Redeemer in this way, and think: that as a result we are transfer-
ring a division into Ius very being. 138
This is where the whole problem of the appreciation of the incarnation
in Ocigen is raised. Even in Origen, the incarnation is the real new
element of the New Testament, as is shown above ali by his interpretation
of the wedding at Cana.139 The Fathers before Origen have also seen the
coming of the Logos in the Old Testalnent thcophanies without thereby
diminishing the sign.ificance of the incarnation. 140 So for Origen also the
incarnation means the real arrival of th LOgoS.141 Even if the corporeality
of Christ has in some respects the more negative function of a filter 142 and
appears to lose its positive significance as medium of revelation in the
138 Origen, Comm. ill 10. I, 28: GCS IV, 35-36; cf. E. Schendel, Herrscllaft 1/11.1 UllleflverjulIg Christi
(BGBE 12), Tiibingen 1971, 86-8.
139 Book IX of the CO/llI/I/!/llor), 0/1 Jallll with tho interpretation of Cana is lost. His ideas may be
deduced from othcr tclcts. See H. Cl'ouzcl, op. cit., 185-6. For the understanding of the doctrines
of incarnation and Origon se~ ilio M. Simonetti, 'La morte di Gesu in Origene',
Rivisla ai Storin t Lottel'lltllrn rdi~"Q$n 8, 1972, 3-4I.
1'\0 For theme ofthcophl1lllC$ ~cc the comprehcmive stud y by.D. Studer, Tlleophollic-Rwgesc
Al/gllslllIS, cited above, especially from p. 53: 'Zue Vorgesdlichte cler Thcophanie-lliegcse'; for
O.rige(l see 84f.
141 Cf. G. Acby. US Missions dillilles de .raillt Jllstlll rl OrigJue. Fribourg 1958, 146-83.
,.2 orporcality nceCS5;tri iy means concealment of the Godhead. Dut Drigen shows in his intcr-
prctlltion of the trnnsfiguration seelle (Matt. 17. 1- 8 par.) how the Godhead becomes transpilrent
precisely ill the corporeality of Jesus. Cf. 1-t Crouzel, 'Collilaissaucc mystiq/lc', [Ildex, 608 (M~tt. 17.
view of eternity,143 nevertheless the whole possibility of this view and the
ascent to it even in Origen depend on the fact of the incarnation. It thus
remains for ever valid and remains so above all in the reality of the church.
Although Or;igeu's symbolism and his doctrine of the ascent seem to make
the incarnation (and the corporeality) of Christ relative, it still has true
saving significance and truly brings about salvation and thus also has true
At all events, the conjunction of the Logos with the human soul which
he has assumed remains a permanent one, even if it could be demonstrated
that Origen supposed that at some point corporeality would cease. 'For
Origen, the olKovol.llcx 'Tf\s Evcxv6pwTIi)crews (Comm. in 10. II, II: 66,20) is the
basic datum of soteriology (Andresen).'145 In the manhood of Christ the
143 But cf. o.rigen, Comm. ill 10. 11,8 (4): GCS IV, 6224ff, where the Logos rider of Revelation
is mentioned and the manhood of Christ is represented as the object of the sight of the blessed.
144 The controversy between R. P. C. Hanson (n. II5 above) and the works on o.rigen by H. U. v.
Balthasar and H. de Lubac centres on this point above all else. Hanson, op. cit., 259-88. Cf. R. CroliZel,
'o.rigene devant l'Incarnation et devant l'Histoire', BLE, 1960, 81-110 (on R. P. C. Hanson and M.
Had). o.rigen has again been censured for denying that the body continues in the final state by F. H.
Kettler, Der urspriillgliche Sill/1 der Dogmatik des OrigetJcs, Berlin 1966, as also by E. Schendel, Herr-
scI/aft ulld UlltenvcifulIg Chrisri (I3GBE 12), Tiibingen 1971 (81-110 about o.rigen), esp. 106ff. It is a
constant argument of Kettler that o.rigen only makes a distinction between doctrine and investiga-
tion to avoid the church's intolerance. o.rigen's system goes back to the eclectic Platonism of his
time. Cf. H. Crouzel, Bibliographie Critique d'o.rigerle, 555f. M. Simonetti, 1 Prillcipi di o.rigelle, Intro-
duzione 64-69, and in the commentary on De prille. n, 3 :Uld m, 6. vigoroudy rejects Kctclll:r'$ bu, lc
argument and his relllllIks on 311 QPokatnstaSIS WithOut ~he body. He cla itru rhat o.rigcn 'put5 forw:lId
two argl.lIDen!s: the fi rst is for a corporenJJ.t y which becomes incr=ingly subtle and in the end i5 com-
pletely dissolved :It the mOll1cnt of un ion w(d) God; the second is the thesi s of ~ dmnge:tblc: bod y
which can adllpt itself to all the condiiions in wbi~h the soul ma.y pe, even tbat of the vision ofGod .
At chat poiIl[ the body changes into a oor[Jlls spiri!lla/e (cE. r Cor. IS. 35-49). RuflllUS has altered c)Ie
t ell.i: of o.rigCD in ordor to be able to pre5cnt the secon.d. argument as o.rigen's own. Jerome ~nd
Ju.tininn, 011 the other hand, want to present o.rigem as an ad vocate of ulbimatc incorporeality.
Kettler insists especially on the indepe!ldence of the tradition of the wit!les! handed. down by Jerome
and Justinian wbidl ~ensures o.rigen. But Simonetti ,tresses t1lat OrigCl1 did not mark out any {!.'Ccd.
posicion: he was tossed co ~Ild fro between the Plnton.ic ~onvictlon chat nothing corporeal can
attain to the vision of God and the C hristiall tradition about the resurrection. The agreemcnt bCtWC:Cll
Rufinus andJerome over De Pri/lC.II, 3, 7 and III, 6, 9 bears witness to this (cf. the texts in Koetschau,
u.s and 290f. ; Simo.~ctti, z(iof. o r 47!>f.). Hete Simonet ti also ch;dlcnges rhe argwncnt ofW. Vlllker
top. cit., 109), according to w.hich for Origcn 'h mcdV.cione di Cristo ~ vrll term inc aile fine del
p crfezionnIl\ento dei bend, che ptrcio p otranno <;:ontcmplnrc il Padre 5CtIU bisogno di intwncdiario .
. . . 11'\ realla la (un:!.ione dj Cristo a questo punto nOll viclle soppressn rna c3.11l:bia aspetto: i beati OI:mni CWllplctamente incorpornti (ma nOll spcl"sonalizzatl ...) in lui, COIlStitlliranno Ie
membra del SllO corpo, si che vedran no il Padre co me 10 vede lui, sar:umo LII18010 Figlio con lui..' o.f
course the diEercnt conclusions of Rnfinlls and Jerome in m, 6, 9 ShOldd be noted (Koerschau , 291):
(Rufinw) TUlil ergo lOllSCljlWlltcr ctialll rwlurn corpot~t! iIIulI1 SlllIlIIlUlIl ct tul addi hl/ll uibil p ass it redpt'cl
.!tatmll;(Jcrome, in thc apparatus) EI cril 'Dws 011111111 {II ollllllbm', III ulllvcrsl1l1at,rM corporea raliigatlJf ill
cam sif/mnilrilUlr., IJrrne 01ll1ll/)lf5 mclior 0>1, Ill/lili/mllll ,,,'rlc/ltut, lJifa Iwlla <.II melior. M.. Si!l1ol1l!tti, op. cit. ,
480, n. 63 : .AHo srato artuale delle nostril COnOSCcnzc non c pOSsibil e nl11metteJ'c in Origenc questa
concezio nc p:mteisticn (as is expressed in the J urome l erter) , che contr;l5ca COll taflti altri IlIIoghi dcllc
sue optrc.' In his criticism of o.rig~n's doctrine of the rC5uucction, Methodius does not raise chls
charge of ponthci~ll1. At the end, it is stressed again by o.rigen himself that he is le~ving the: judgc-
l1wnt on these [WO opiniOlll! to the rcader. ForJcIome sec M. Simonetti , op. cit., 480. n. 6<\.. F. RefouM,
'La christologic d'Evagrc ct l'o.r igcnismc', DCI' 2.7, 1961, nl-66, aho tends towards a criti cal ,vjew
of o.rigen's chri~ tol ogy , looking back from Ev:\grius . Refol.ll~ docs 110t. of course. melln to say that
the of EV3grius is nil o.rigell, 'm nis il cst djBicjle de rcIlIs~r 11 o.rigcne la pn[cmit~ du
systtmc d'Evngre et des orig~nlstcs' (ibid .. z 61~). Orull.agriu! see below.
H)J.l. Schendel, Hemclwfllllld UII1erwerjimg C hriSll, 10:1., with rcferCllcc to C. Andrc!ell, in RAC VI,

fullness of the Godhead is present, even if hidden in the kenosis. Origen

felt this tension on the basis of the New Testament (Phil. 2. 5-8 and Col.
2. 9), though at the same time he does not seem to preserve a complete
balance because of his Platonism.
Origen is, above all, the theologian of the soul of Christ. Here he takes
up genuine biblical traditions and helps in a number of ways to guarantee
their continuance,146 At the same time, however, he subjects these selfsame
traditions to a heightened danger. His teaching 0.11 the soul of Christ was
overloaded with peculiar anthropological and christo logical concepts
which were at a later date either given up or at least StrOl1g1y contested.
The soul of Christ has a special fUllction in Origeu's reflections 01~ the
conjunction of Godhead and manhood.
Unity in Christ is achieved through the mediacy of the soul of Christ
between sarx and Logos, which the Platonic dualism of Origen is other-
wise unable to unite. This soul, however, has already been united from
temity with the divine Logos in complete understanding and love of
God. Indeed it ha's already existed from eternity, before the body was
created .I ~7 BLlt what is the relationship between soul and Logos? The two
are directly conJoined through dlrect vision in love (De P"inc. H, 6, 3). The
soul is related as spiot to spirit. By complete ul!I.ion with the Logos the
soul of Christ becomes, as it were, the Lving view of God and the perfect
love of God. 148 This provides for Origen the highest an.d most inward
mode of union, in which the human soul of Christ becomes fully divil1-
ired and is aglow t1UOUghOll.t as iwn in the fire (De Prine. II, 6, 6). From
Origen's metaphysic of the action of the spirit we must conclude tllat the
unity so formed is meant as a really ol1tic unity, a conjunction which does
not merely res,t on the power of the subjective moral act, as, say, with the
adoptionism which he has described earlier.149 But the fact is that the
unity of the God-man is ouly meant to be an antic uuity. and is not really
proved to be snch. Basically, this explanation. of Origen's leads along a
false trail and confuses essential being with its (spiritual) actions. When
146 cr. De prille. IV. 4 (31): GCS V, 3S3-S; M. Simonetti, 1 PrI,tcipi di Origelle, 548-51, with im-
portant ,rcn1atks on fri.!lis ost anima //IIIl/', which may Il,Ot be understood of the Word, but only of the
soul of C hrist. Origen makes p.articul~[ mention of the ~0u1 of Christ in chs 4 and 5 cited above. See
R. Goglcr, 'Die dillstologische lind hdlsthcologische Gruud lagc dc[ Bibelexegese des Origenes', TQ
136, 1956. 1-13
1'7 Origcn. D~ prill'. IT, 6, 3: GCS V, 14.2rll (see M. Simonetti , Pr/llcil"', 287nnd notes: llIa aIPilH1l
ab iJlirio cre/1trjril~ n dciJlups ill~~par'abifj/er cf a/qlle im/{ssodabiU/er illiwerem, IIIPOIC sal'ic" (ill~ ., !lcrho Ilt'i tl
veri-tntc ne lll~i verne, et lela 10111111 redpiem <IIqrlc III tiw ',uelll spleudorflllqllC Ipsa cetlalls. /a!M est CIIIII ipso
prillc!llu1iler IIIIUS $pirillls.. .. Hat ergo :SltUs/aulia auilllnc ill/er dCllm 'nmcmqll~ l1I~dltllll~ (IIOtl em'/ll p~5SI"la
Cral llei Ilall/rilm ,orpori slue IIIt(lia lOre mi;cm') lIasci/llr, III dlximlls, dells-Ilomo, Wa Jllbstalltia /llellin exislelllc,
Clli lIi/quc cort/rn IInll/ram 11011 erat eorplls asmmcre.
HI A. Lieske, S.J., Die Tlre%gie der Logos-Mysllk bei OrigclIIll, MUnster 1938, 1.:15.
10, Orlgen, pc prine. IV, 4, 31: GCS V, 3S4,6~H; Nee flIme'L Ira l/iciIllI Ufidmjt lllm! ad ill 1110 all/ma.
siOllflll't illilltimn 'Paulillei Pclri cClerOrtlmqllu smlciomm. ill qlllul/s ChriS/liS similiter III ill Pnlll~ /oqJli cradil,lr.
T h" pT~sence ofche Logos cusurcs thcsinlessness of Christ. In Dc Prille. IV, 3.30; GCS V, 35~::8-P :Jesus
is distinct in that the Ulltol~ Son of God dwells in him, though he was:J:t the same time everywhere '1,1
,,,rpore /oills BI ubiqllc talUS ademl ji/iJIS tid'. The snme thought will meet us again in Achallasiu~.

all is said al1d done, Christ is in danger of being still only a 'qu:mtitatively'
different exceptional case of the universal relationship of the 'perfect' to
the Logos, however mystically deep Origen may wish to make the
relationship between Logos and souJ in the God-mall., it is
interesting to sec that the problem of wlity in Christ is stated quite ex-
pllcitly as such, and is described as being a mystery. John the Baptist is
not worthy to loose the thong ofJesus' sandal, because t'he loo~:ng of the
sandal sigllifies the mystery of how the Logos has assumed human
nature.l~O Even as a Platonist Origen is 110ne the less consci;:'lus of the
Christian mysteritllIJ..
Though Origeu spoke above all as a Platonist in his eXplall l \tioll of the
mediacy of the soul of Christ, it is as a Stoic that he goes on to talk of the
flYSIJOV1KOV. He, too, knows of it, and transfers it to the heart. 1SI This
flYEIJOVIK6v, i.e. the vovs or the TTVEV\..La AOY1KOV is d1e 'interio.r 1101110' qui et
ratiol7abilis dicitllr (D/! prine. IV, 4, 9). Has Origen brought thi:: 'inner man'
and dle Logos ill Christ so near together that the latter now becomes the
flYEIJOV1K6v i11 the human natmc of Jesus? The final ground.< on wllich a
difference is to be assumed between the indwelling of the Logos in 'Peter'
or 'Paw' and in Christ i.s this-that in Christ the Logos is completely i11
control. With Origen's Chri~t this control is exercised primarily ill the
mora) sphere.152 Eut once the Stoic term ";YE~OV1K6v has been taken over
and has bcen associated with the Logos terminology which has likcwise
been enriched from the Stoics, the final reswt must be a picture of Christ
in which wlity is based Oll the working of the diviJ).e flYEI~c.:." Here Origen
could ultimately be on the way to a metaphysical interpretation of the
unity of Christ by means of the concept of 'person'. For the rea ) person-
ality of a man is rooted ill his TjYEIJ.OV1KOV. On the other band, this con-
ception of the Logos-Hegemon together with his doctrine of the soul of
Christ was logically to lead Origen to assume a double personality of
Christ. For the soul of Christ was conceived as a centre cf activity. The
lack of the concept of 'person' is a clear fact.
At the same time he could well debar himself from an approach to the
understanding of the unity of person in Christ because thi~ lmlty is trans-
ferred into the sphere of physical action and finally is not really anything
more than a 'natural' unity, that is to say, a unity like tIl'! unity between
two constituent parts which go together to form one reality. Origen

Il~ Cf. Origen, COlli/II. ill 10. I, 23: GCS TV. 498l0-7.
m See E. v. Ivanb, 'Apex mentis', 155-9; F. RUsche,DlIlI. Leben. Serle, 42.0-1; G. Vc(bckc:. P'ICIII"",
456-69. Dut as 3 rule OTisen wll l hnve nothing of the idcn which Cclsus atcributcs to the Christians,
[l1nt Christ is 'divine pncum.t in a body', or this is a Stoic-materialistic lIttituci.e, Clr. Cds. 6, 69f,.
1'2 Origcn, Dc Prill'. IV, 4 (31) : GCS V, 354')-11: 'Oleo ergo I"clilj~e 'IIIgllililr(r',i/llnjeslI). CII/ll Ilerba
del illlll/aCllinltljo,t/crntiol/c cmiilllwa cst cl pet /toe sol" Olll/Iitllll al/ill/arulll peceat; 11I(~!,axjl/lr. ttl/iI/filii del
li(nc c/ pleur capax filii . . . .' As the Farher and the Son are one, so also are the Legos and the soul of
JeslIs one, Ibid., 3S4 : '''I/;mn .. /olalll III sc _"plel/llam del cl uNillll~1/I vitalllq l/cr~cJ!J eral . .. CI,I'iSlllflj,,1
11/ tlcp abscol//lIlilS dicll,,, . Iii esl slIbslnll/;olller tleo rep /cllls.'

himself, it is true, did not draw these consequences; nevertheless, he ex-

posed himself to the charge that his system left 110 room for a full apprecia-
tion of the humanity of the Lord.ls3 Even the essential act of the human
Christ, his redemptive death, has been said to be deva lued.ls4 It is thus
possible to note two opposed tendencies in this christology. 01e would
follow the path of the church's tr'l(lilioll towards a distinction of the two
natures, so that even the idea of indwelling emerges as a theological
interpretation of the lmity in Christ lSS The other would urge the oblitera-
tion of the human element ill the Lord,ls6
Be this as it may, Origen is hhnseLf a key witncss to the traditional
teaching of the soul of Christ, even though he has mixed it with strong
philosophical elements. 157 The newly discovered Dialeklos (cd. Scherer) is
of great importance for Origen's christo.logical anthropology.m He dis-
tinguishes in Christ body, soul, spirit, and in additiol to these the divine
pneU1na. Moreover, Origen already advances that argument which is to
playa great part in the anti-Apollinarian controver y, and which we have
already noticed in Tertuilian, 'The wh Ie man would not have been
redeemed had he not asswned the whole man' (ef Jl~ OAOVTOV O:v6pc.uTJ'oV
aVEIAi)<pEI),lS9 His interpretation of the death of Christ (ed. Scherer 138,
2) is also remarkable, and in some respects is reminiscent of the Easter
Homily of Ps.-Chrysostom and its explanation of the eveut.160 This
christological anthropology of the Dialektos and the other works of
Origen 11eeds a more detailed investigation than is here possible. The
teaching on the soul of Christ is one of those points in Origcn's system
which received least attention in subsequent Alexandrian theology.
Tendencies oPlosed to this tra,dition were able to exert the stronger


It is clear this survey that the Lise of christological reflection was a
very slow process. The main emphasis was laid 011 the theological inter-
pretation of the relationship of Father and Son, though tllis was seen to be
closely connected with the incarnation. Over against the Gnostics and the
153 A. Wintersig, Mel/schheil]esu, 73-85; M. HarJ, Origelle, 198-200, further 139-218.
154 A. Wintersig, op. cit., 82.
m Origen, Ctr. Cels. 2, 9 (with reference to I Cor. 6. 17).
15~ Cf. A. Wintcrsig. op. cit., nol-, n. J1.
157 Cf. the verdict of Socrates, I:IB 3,7: PG 67. 36zAB.
118011 this see IlOW J. Boada, S.J., EI HbmiJre segllll e/ COIIIClllario Ifc Origcllts a Ivs ROlllallor, Diss.
Pont. Univ. G~cgori:ma 1971, partly published Madrid 1971; Doada I?n~ special attc.ncion to [he discovered Greek portions of Origen's CO/llmelllary 011 ROil/am, ed. J. Scherer, Le COllllllell lnire
d'Origelle !IIr ROlli. III. ,5-11.7 If'aprer les extrllils nil PapyT/1S Nv 887<18 dll M"see all Caire clles Frnglllelt/$
Ife la Phi/ololic ct d" V(J1icnw/s Gr. 762, I.e Caire 1957.
L5? Dlalcklos, cd. Scberer 136'6rr .; SC 67. 70 11 -.'. Cf. L. FrUchtcl, TIrLZ 75. 19SO, 504-6.
160 PG 59. 744; P. Nautin, Romilles pascalts I : Ulle Itomt!lie i/lJpirt!e d'l Thlilf sltr In,Porlllc n'Hlppo/ylc
(SC 27), Paris 19So, 183.
docetists. the theologians of the church had above all to stress the duality
of the two natures in Christ and their reality. True, the flrst reflections on
the problem of the unity of Godhead and manhood are made. The
Fathers know that the incarnate Logos is 'one and the same'. But tlus
unity is more intuitively seen than speculatively interpreted. It can-with
the sublimity of the Mysterium Christi in the Christian faith-also be no
more than a matter of the fust repulse of the attacks which, for exam.l?le,
Celsus had made against the Christian doctrine of the incarnation (see
above). For the interpretation of the unity in Christ, the Fathers f.'lll back
on the Stoic krasis doctrine. Here they bequeathed posterity a legacy which
was to burden theology for a long time. In fact, in this way the path of a
'mio secundum flat.ural1'l, the Monophysite solution, was trodden. Even if the
concept of person emerges for the first time, it is not yet made the basis of
the solution of the problem of Christ. And where in addition 'person' is
sought metaphysically jn 'individuality', the centring of tlieological
reflections on this concept will fust go 011 to create the reaJ difficulties
which are later manifest in the Nestorius dispute. So abol1t 250, we have
merely a first, confused beginning of speculative christology. But this also
has a very positive side: the foundation of christology is the tradition and
the simple proclamation of the church. It still shines dearly through the
different speculative attempts at interpretation.



From Origm to Ephesus (43 I)


THE interpretation of the basic christologica.l truths ill the tradition, beglID
by the Apologists and continued hy the Alexandrians Clement and
Origen, without doubt exerted a far-reaching influence. Atfirst. however,
it is difIicuJt to ascertain. What happened between the death of Origen
(253/4) and Nicaea (325)? Here there are many blank patches on the
patristic map. Measured in terms of Origen, there was a shift in the line
of questioning and an intensification of it in two respects: (i) whereas with
the Alexandrians we have a clear acknowledgment of the three hypostases
in God, and especially a clear distinction between Father and SOil in God.
Sabellius and his followers represented the opposite pole. Once again the
problem of Christian monotheism became acute. We can say that this
already marked the immediate prelude to Nicaea, even if we have to go
on to distinguish several phases. (ii) Whereas the soul of Christ had a
special place itI Origen's picture of Christ as anima mediatrix between
Logos and sarx, soon after Origen's death there came about a tacit
'inclusion' or even a deliberate 'exclusion' of the soul of Christ.
Some morc concrete information should be given about the develop-
ment of these two complexes of questions. In the year 231 Ougen left
Alexandria. His place as leader of the Didaskaleion was taken by Heraclas,
but in the following year-after the death of Demetrius-Heradas was
elected bishop of Alexandria. This made room in the Didaskaleion for
Origen's pupil DioJJysius, but in 247 he ascended the throne of St Mark
and occupied it tultil26S.1 It his pontificate that two men emerged
who were to arouse momentous reactions for centuries aftetvvards:
Sabellius in Libya or the Penta polis, and Paul of Samosata, with whom
several synods of Antioch were concerned. We know little about the
emergence of Sabellius. Mtet the unrest of the persecution and the
confusion over Novatian. a time of peace arrived, as Dionysius reports in
a letter to Stephen I of Rome (died 257).2 But in the same year his attention
was drawn to the new heresy. as Eusebius iudicate~ in a quotation from a
letter of Dionysius to Pope Sixtus II:

I For Dionysius of Alex:Uldria scc C. Lett Pcltoc, lIIONY:l:IOY flE I,\, ANA . TIle Lellors Imd oillor R emaiJls
<!f Dlollysills of Alexn/If(rla, C3mbr.idge 19Q4: W. A. Biencrt. DioJlysills 11011 A le.wlII Ilr/tII , Dlls crllnlt~lI e
Wer'" lIIONY:l:IOY AEI'I'ANA (Bibliothck rl. Gricch. Lit. 2), Stuttg:trt t9'P: E. Doub.mnd S.].. L'Mrdsie
d'Ar/lls ellil 'fot de Ni,ee, I; L'/ilr.!sic d';1rllls. Pads 1972, 135- 43; L. W. Bn.r:n:u:d, 'The Antecedents of
Arjus', ViCC 24, 19'70, 172-88, esp. 176-9; for wlm follows, reference should aho be made to the
same author's t1Jlie/mgorns. A SllIdy III Secolld C~II/ilry Cliris/iau Apologetic (ThCologie historique 18),
Paris 1972.
2 Eusebius, HE VII, prer. 4-5; text in C.L. Feltoe, op. cit., 44-5; German translation in W. A.
Bienert, op. cit., 37-8.

In PtolelUais in the PClltlpolis in our time a godless teaching was proclaimed whicll
contains many blasphemies against Almigh ty God, the Father of our Lord Jeslis hri t,
many unbelieving statemClIts about his only-begotten Son, the firstborn before aU crea-
tion, the Logos made man, and ignorance about the Holy Spirit. As dec1arl\tiolls came
from both sides and brethren sought me otlt to disclIss the matter with me, I have, to the
best of lUy ability and wi th the hel p of God, written some letters for y ur better instruc-
tion. Copies of them 1 am ending to YOll.

Dionysius had already shown that he was zealous in fighting against

heresies, in a letter to Pope Stephen I:
If ther is anyone who makes unfitting statements about God, like those who call him
tmmerciful, or if any ne wishes to introduce the worship of strange gods, then he shOl1ld
be stoned, :\s the law commands. But we should 'stolle' these l,'eople with powerful
words offaith. Or if anyone will not completely accept the myster;l/I/1 Christ; or ch.:Inges it
or f."'l lsiftes it or (ifhe says) he is not God or he is not man or he did not elie or he did Ilot
rise again or lLC will not com,e to judge the living and the dead, then-Paul says-let him
be ernsed.4

The struggle against SabeI1iallism was all the more urgent since, accord-
ing to the evidence of Athanasius, somc bishops from the Pentapolis had
espoused tIllS dOCtIlle. S Pedlaps these were the men to whom Dionysius
had alrcady written about Sabellius, as "El1sebius records : Ammon of
Berenice, Telesphorus, Euphranor and Euporus. 6 When these letters had
evidently proved fruitless, Dionysius again wrote to Euphanor and
In this way at any rate the Father is Father and not Son, not because he came into
being, but because he is; he does not derive from another, but remains in himself. The
Son is not Father, not because he was, but because he came into being; he received the
status of Son not of himself, but of the one who made him.7

With this, strife broke out. In the eyes of those to whom he was
writing and of some believers in Alexandria and the Pentapolis,
had evidently gone coo far and advocated tritheism.
According to Athanasius, they went to Rome, to Pope Dionysius. 8 The
five errors with. which they charged Dionysius of Alexandria may best
be reprodl1ced in the Sl1mmary given by L. W. Barnard:9
lElIsebius, HE VII, 6 : c.t. Feltoe. op. cit., Sl-5~; W. A. Bienert, op. cit., 39 (~); H. Kraft,
Kaijcr KOllstarllills nligiiise .E"lwlckilltlg (j3HistTh 20), TUbingcll. 1955,322-3. SabclliuBseems to have
come to Ronle shortly before 217, where he becamc the hend of the monarchian patty which was
already in existence there (Praxcas. Epigonus, pupil or Noetus. leomenes). Ho was excluded from
the churel, by Pope Cullixtus. Cf. Hippolytus. RcJIII. 9, 12; R. Lacheruchmid. SJbclliJllislllu~.
Sa belli os', L ThK 3, 1964, f93-4; C. Andresen, 'Die Enstc::hullg und Geschicllte des tdniwischen
Personbcgrifih'. ZNW 52, 1961. 1-39.
4 Dionysius AI., letter to Stephen I of Rome: C.L. Feltoe, op. cit., 45-8; W. A. Bienert, op. cit.,
42; I, 6, I.
j Ath :ln~siuS, Selll. Dioll. 5: Opitz, AW II, I. 4. p. 49.

6 Euscbius. HE VII, 26, I: Schwartz GCS. Bus. W. II, 2, p. 700.

1 w. A. 13iencrt, op. cit., 75 (3. I). On this see p. II8, n. 205.
s Athanasius. S~I1I. Dioll. 13 : Opitz, AW II, 1,4, p. 55.
9 L. W. Barnard, VigC ~4, 1970,77; quotations in W.A. Bienert, op. cit., 78-84.

(I) He separated the Father and the Son (Bla!PSi KO\ IJCXKpVVel 1<01
lJepl3s1 'TOV viov erno 'TOU '1!CXTp6S) De Sent. Dian. 16, 3 (Opitz, AW
n, I, 4, p. 58);
(2) He denied the eternity of the Son (auK ael ~ v 6 eSOS TICXTT),P, OUK ae\ 1'j v
o vios, al\l\' 0 IJEV eeos fiv xoopiS 'TaU Myov, cxVTOS BE 0 vlos OUK ~v TIplv
yevVllefj, al\l\' fiv TIOTE ,he OUK fiv' ou yap a{Blos Ecrnv O:AI\' vcrrepov
s:rrsYfyOVEV) De Sen.t. Dian. 14. 4 (Opitz, p. 56);
(3) He named the Father without the Son and the Son without the Father
(TICXTSpCX AfyOOV . . aUK 6vO IJ(~X3E1 "ov viov Kcxl TIaAIV vlov I\ey oov OUK
OVOI.\CqEl TOV 1TCXT~pa) De Sent. D io l~. r6, 3 (Opitz, p . 58) ;
(4) He virtually rejected the term OiJ,oovcnOS' used of the SOIl (TIpompepovo'lV
EyAAlllJCX KaT' EiJ,OU Y'euBoS' OV WS ou AEYOVTOS TOV XPlcrroV olJOovcnov ElvCXI
'Ti;> eei; De Sent. Dian. r8, 2 (Opitz, p. 59);
(5) He spoke of the Son as a creature of the Father and used misleading
illustrations of their relationship (TIO{lliJ,CX Kol yeVTlTOV elvol TOV vlov TOU
eeou, IJtlTE BE cpvcm iBlov, al\l\a ~EVOV KaT' OUO"{CXV cxVTOV elVa! TOU TIaTPOS,
WO"'lTEP Ecrrlv 0 yeoopyos TIPOS ""v
OiJ,'lTEI\OV Kcxt 0 VCXV'lTllYOS TIpOS TO O"K6:cpOS'
Kol yap wS 1TO{llIJO OOV OUK ~V 1Tpiv YEVllTa!) De Sent. Dian. 4, 2 (Opitz,
P4 8).
We know of various feactions to these charges and to the D ionysius
affair generally . The most important may be mentioned briefly: the
answer given by Dionysius of Rome, the self-defence of his namesake
in Alexandria, Arius' appeal to his teaching, the interpretation of the
sententia of Dionysius by Athanasius and the attitude of Basil of Cappa-
do cia.
Dionysius of Rome seems to have called a synod which condemned
these dangerous statements,lO Thereafter the Pope wrote two letters, one
to his namesake in Alexandria, which is no longer extant, in which he
asked him to reply to the charges made against him.ll Dionysius of Rome
wrote a second letter to the church of Alexandria, in which he rejected
the errors under discussion, without naming the bishop of the city. He
sought a via media between Sabellianism and tritheism,12 In accord with
the Western tradition, the Pope wanted to defend the 'monarchia' against
those who,
in some way tear apart, dismember and dli!stroy God in three forces and three separate
hypostases and deities ... (Sabellius) blnsphemes God in saying that th e Son is the same as
the Fathel; and vice versa; but they (the fo.J.lowcrs ofDionysius) to some degree proclaim
three gods, by tearing apart the holy Unity into three alien al1d cQmpletely separate
hypostases. It is necessary that the divine Logos be united with the God of dlC universe
and chat the Holy Spirit also dwell an.d abide in God. I t is also unconditionally necessary
10 Athanasius, De Syn. 43,4; 45, I; Opitz, AW II, I, 9. p. 269.
II Athanasius, De Syn. 43,4; see also Sellt. Dion. 13,2: Opitz, AW II, I, 3, p. 55.
12 Athanasius, Deer. Nie. SYI!. 26: Opitz, AW II, I, 3, p. 2130-2316; C. L. Feltoe, op. cit., 176-82;
W. A. Bienert, op. cit., 75-7; see the notes by Opitz on Sellt. Diol!. 13: p. 55.

that the divine Triad be so to speak composed and assembled around a summit-I mean
the God of the universe, the ruler of all. ... No less, however, should one censure those
who take the Sou to be a work and believe that the Lord came ilJto being like one of the
encities of the universe (-rovs "!To{l1lAa -rOY utOY Elvat 6o~':'-l0YTas, xo:l y'yO~tVO:L -rov KUPIOV wO lrilp
w"I"I -rwv 6VT~S yevollevwv vO,,!:~ovTa,). although the divine words e.xJ,Jressiy bear witness
that what is appropriate far h im and in accord with him is conception albeit not as :U1
act of formation or creation .... rf the SI'Jn were created, there would be a time when
(all) this was not so; in that case there was a time when God was without these (powers).
But that is complete nonsense.
Dionysius then challenges the false exegesis of Provo 8. 22: 'The Lord
created me as the beginning of his ways,' and again stresses:
Everywhere among the divine words we find that the Son is said to have been begot-
ten, n t C1:eated.... Thus we may neither divide the wonderfLU and divine tulity into
three Gadheacls nor inlpair the llanoLlr and towering greatncss of tile Lord by dll: idea of
making (.,.o11'w6 ~WAve iV -ro ;!C~IOJ'j" K<:d "1"0 VTrEp~aAAaV ,<!yeGas "l"oij I<Uplov)~l3 bllt nnlst believe
ill God, the Father, the Ruler of all, andjnJc;sus C)u,.ist, his Son. and i.1l the Holy Spilit-
albeit in slIch a way that the Logos is united with the God of aiL For he says '1 and the
F(fther rlrc 9lte' (John 10. 30), and '1 mil //1 the Falher (md the Fil/her is {rl me' (John 14.
la-n). For only in this wa:y can the divine triad and the holy doctrine of the lIIollllrchia
be fLllly preserved.
The decisive points in the discussion about the 'divine triad and the
holy doctrine of the monarchia' are these: Son and Holy Spirit belong on
the side of God, indeed they are in God; the Son is not created, but the
Holy Scri~tures bear witness to his yevvT]cJlS, which here must be translated
'begetting . Father, Son and Spirit do not represent three completely
separate hypostases, but remain a 'monad' . However, there is no explana-
tion of what hypostasis means here, nor does Dionysius of Rome get
beyond the subordinatiollist understallding of the relationship of the Logos
and the Spirit to the Father. He speaks of a 'summit' in the Godhead, the
God of aU and ruler of all. Christ is declared to be God's Logos, wisdom
and power, so that his eternal divine reality is assured. but the idea of a
subject different from the Father is expressed too weakly. Nevertheless,
that the Son (and the Spirit) are created is decisively rejected.
Dionysius of Alexandria answered with a defence which consisted of
four books.14 What did he say to the five charges?
(r) He denies that he separates Father and Son. I-Iis aJ.:gument proceeds
from the tenns 'Father' and 'Son', which mutually determine each other.
~e is clearer about the lme!,ll~j ~ than Eusebius or La~tantius are to be later :
I have added the Holy Spmt, but at the same tlme I have also stated
13 The translation in w. Ii. Biener~. op. cit., 75, is not quite correct here. He says, 'One ll1ay
neither divide tbe wClIidcrful and divine nnity into three Godhead;>, nor impair the honour and
towering greatness of the: Lord througb a cren/Hre.' It sltould be noted ,tMt the Greek is "!ToblerlS and
not 1Toll1lAa. C. L. Peltoe, up. I:it., 182, n. I, interprets it rightly; '[0 hinder (or impair) by the idea of
14 Eusebius, HE VII, 26, I: Schwartz, GCS, Bus. W. II, 2, p. 700; C. L. Feltoe, op. cit., 182-98;
W. A. Dienert, up. cit., 77-84 (3, 3).

whence and through whom he comes.' According to a fragment of the

second letter about 'refutation and defcnce' addressed to Dionysil1s of
Rome, handed down by Basil, the letter ended with a doxology: 'To God
the Father, and the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, together with the Holy
Spirit, be honour and glory to aU eternity. Amen.' Dionysius desccibes
this formula as the 'form and rule' taken over 'from the presbyrers before
us'.1 S
(2) He sees the eternity of the Son grounded in the fact that he is Logos,
wisdom and power of God, and also ill. the 'tct that he is termed the
'reflection of the eternal light' (Wisd. 7. 26; Heb. I. 3). 'For if the light is
always there, it is clear that the reflection is also always there.' Again h e
returns to the correlation of 'Father' and 'Son'. If the Father is eternal, so
too is the Son,!6 This is also an answer to the third charge.
(4) The answer to the charge chat he rejected the homoollsios is an
interesting one,!7 He makes a distinction between the use of the word and
acceptance of the matter to which it refers.
For ifr also say that this word cannot be found or read anywhere:in Holy Scripture, Illy
cOJlclusions on the matter do not depart from this View, a roct about which thcy (his
opponents) have kept silent. I introduced the comparisoLl with descent because
here was evidently a (relatilmsh.ip) ofche same kind, and said that parents differ from their
children only in one thing (relationship) j for they themselves arc not their children; were
this not so, there would Ilcccssa.rily be llcithcr parents nor children. 18
Thus Dionysius sees that the homoollsios, which he evidently did not use
himself, but did not reject either, achieves only in a limited way what he
wished to state with similar terms I ~ and certain comparisons: it was
necessary to c1.."Press at the same time both the LUlity of and the dis611ction
between those who are homoollsioi, the l:;ather and tne Son. If he has
stressed the distinction between Father and Son, he has not denied their
hOnJogelleity. If one plant derives from another, they are indecd different
plants, but they nevertheless 'emain 'related by nature' (6Ilocpv1'Js). We
should not demand too much ofDiollysius here. There is still to be a long
struggle before the Fathers clarify to some degree what is meant by 'unity
of substance' in God.
(5) Perhaps Dionysius had compromised himself most by the expression
that the Son was a 1Tolr]llCX of the Father and by his comparisons between
IS On the Holy Spirit: W. A. Dienert, op. cit., 81 (7); Basil, ibid., 83 (frag. 14); C. 1. Feltoe, op.
cit., 192, n. 198.
16 C. L. Pcltoe, op. cit., 185-'7 (3); W. A. llicnert, op. cit., 78---9 (3),
17 w. A. J3ie!l~[t, op. cit., 79. fmg. 4 from Achan.,tsius, &,,1. 01011. IS: Opitz, AWIl, 1,4, p. 591-60",
C. L. Fchue. op. cit., 187-90. W. A. llicnert, op. dt., II!), n. 217: 'The text in Fdtoe is partially
enlarged In CO!llp~rison with that of Opitz, nnd is corrected according to the parallel traditi.oll of these
texts in Athnnn~i(ls : Ath., Dc", 2.5, 4-5 [Opjtz..2116-~iJ ~nd Ath., SYI!. 44LOpitz 2690-19J: Bienen rtfers
to the eXplJlllltion ofLile IWWQolIs;OS in Opitz, Dioll. !S (p. S9 in the npparntus).
18 C. L. Feltoe, op. cit., 188-9: W. A. l3ienett, op. cit., 79-80.
19 Dionysius uses 6lloyev~s to describe the relationship of parents and children (Feltoe, op. cit.,
189') and 6llocpv~s to describe the relationship of plants (ibd., 18914).

'shipbuilder and ship' or 'farmer and vine', and their application to the
relationship between Father and Son in God. In their defence he insists
that for him the terms 'Father' and 'Son' have pre-eminence, and that the
other terms and comparisons are only used by way of addition:
Because I do not regard the Logos as a work, I do not call God his maker, but his
Father. That when I was discllSsillg the Son, I referred in passing to God as his maker is
defensible in this particular case. The wise men of the Greeks call themselves 'makers' of
their own books, although they are fathers of their own books....20
Here Athanasius is in some difficulty over defending his 'client'. He
already applies to the texts of Dionysius the stratagem which is later to
become a hermeneutical principle in the controversy with the Arians:
those sayings about Christ in Scr.ipture which concern his exaltation are
tme of his Godhead, and those which concern his humiliation refer to his
manhood. Thus, Athanasius says, DiollysillS spoke of the Son as a work of
the Father only in respect of Cluist's manhood.21"But this was not the case.
It was the purpose ofDionysius to clarify the relationship between Father
and Son in God in this way, and to make a distinction between the two.
This gave Arills some footholds, some 'slogans' which-once they were
isolated-could make Dionysius an authority for the Arians. And as we
shaU sec, Arins was concerned to have authorities and tradition. Athanasius
cannot wash Diony'sins clean of the charge laid against him, and when he
tries to do so, he interprets' him according to later distinctions. At any
rate, he wants to preveut the Arians from being able to appeal to the
Alexandrian . .del," Basil is mor critical aboul. the bishop over whom th
coutroversy raged, and expresses his criticism in a letter to the philosopher
Maximus, who asked him about Dionysius' orthodoxy :22 he is not
surprised at all that he says, and in some respects he must refute him
strictly. 'Above all he is, so far as we know, the firSt person to have sown
the now rampant seed of godlessness in 'respect of the av6llolov.' Probably
he had no evil intention, and was merely cOllcerned to combat Sabellius
as vigorously as possible. Bm Dionysil1s met the same fate as a gardener
trying to make a crooked tree straight again: he bent it too far over the
other side.
The result is cll(lt he has exchanged one evil for another and h.,s sur~endered the 6pSb'Tl1,
716yov. He is therefore very changeable in his writing, because he sometimes rejects
the 6j.\oovc:nov, since his opponents used it to object to the V'JTOCJTaC1EC~, aud sometimes
accepts it, when he is replying to his namesake. He has also made iuappropriate remarks
about the spirit, as he has banished him from the Godhead that is to be worshipped and
assigned him to a lower order together with created and subject nature. That is the case
with this man.

20 W. A. Bienert, op. cit., 82 (9) and 81 (9); c. L. Feltoe, op. cit., 193-5.
21 Athanasius, Sellt. Dion. 21, 2; Opitz, AW II, 4, p. 624- 14 ; C . L. Feltoe, op. cit., 194--5.
22 Basil, Ep. IX 2 ad Maxim. phil.; Courtonne, LeI/res I, Paris 1957, 38-9.

Even here, Basil does not do full justice to the historical situation of
Dionysius. The personal declarations of the Alexandrian do not amount
to a formal and literal rejection of the hOl1loousioll. The Bishop of Caesarea
in Cappadocia also concedes that when he WIote to Maximus he did not
have the 'books', i.e. the written defence,23 in which Dionysius went tnto
the criticiS1lli made by Dionysius of Rome. There was a .~urning-point in
the theology of the Alexandrian, but this could not tak~ him decisively
beyond the sphere of subordinationism. Arius referred to the earlier
Dionysius; .important Ariau slogans are to be found in the charges laid
against the Alexandrian, especially in the second charge (see above). Basil
knew only the earlier Dionysius, Athanasius overe;;timated the later
Dionysius and illterpretedllim in line with his own teaching. At all events,
the Adans conld not commandeer him, even in respect of his view of the
incarnate Christ, which we have still to consider.
Unfortlmately, nothing is kn.own of the writing ef Theogllostus, the
llead of the Didaskaleioll trom 247/8 to 282, apart from four fragments
and a report by Photills, Bibl. cod. 06. According to this, the Alexandrian
wrote seven books of Hypotyposes, or sketches of Christian doctrine.24
Book I, according to Photius, discussed the Father, the Creator (with a
discussion of the question of the eternity of matter). Photius does not give
the title of Book II, but it must have been 'On the Son'. According to
Photius' account, Theognostus wanted to introduce conclusive proof that
the Father has a SOil and that this Son is a creature, a ktisl/la, and has to do
only with those who are endowed with reason (viov Se '?eywv KT[O'lJa cx\rrov
Crnocpa(VEl Kat TWV AOYIKWV JJ.6vov rnlO'TCXTEiv). Book III dealt with the
Holy Spirit, Book IV with angels and clemons, Books V and VI with the
humanity of the Redeemer. According to his wont, he sought to prove
that the incarnation of the Son was possible, but found himself in diffi-
culty, especially when he boldly asserted that while the Son was restricted
by space, iliere were no limits to his activity. Photius is happier with
Book VII (On the Creation, i.e. 011 the created world), )ecanse it evidencly
contained no heresies (unlike the books about the Father and the Son). By
and large he sees tll.e Alexandrian caught in the net of Origenist heresies.
The reason for this is that Theognostus seeks to defend Origen and makes
usc of half some of his sayings, which do llot expres:dlis own view. Or
perhaps he is coming down to clle level ofllis audience and is content that
they should acquire some knowledge of the Son, inste-;ld of remaining in
complete ignorance about him. Photius was particularly concerned over
the use of the expression ktisma for the Son; he interpr~ted this in accord-
2) Basil, loco cit.: oli 'lfOCP<Tr( Y' J.ll)y Tc'x ~'f3A(a.
24 Photius, DilJ/. cod. 106: H enry 11. 7.:!-4. Fragment! of nnd nbout TheQgn'Jstus have been collected
and commented on' in A. v. I-hmnck, Die Hypolypos~1I des Tbeogllos/ (TU, NF 9. 3), l .eipzig 1903.
73-92; see P. Dickamp. below, nnd also L. B. Radford. T/lrce Teac/letS rif Aie;,mldr/(I; '1 '/rcogllosI"s,
Plfrills mid PClcr, Cambridge .1908; L. W. JJamru:d, VigC 24,1970, 179-8",

ance with his later understanding, and not in terms of the understanding
of Theognostus. 'KTfcrllO: for Thcognostlls meant what TIOITtJ,lO: did for
Dionysius. It was a metaphor, capable of being used in various senses,
which was used of the basic relationship of the Father and the Son. Arius
took up this term in describing the relationship between the ovcrfo: of the
Father and the ovo-(o: of the SOl1. The Son was essentially the expression
of the Father's will, and KT(crJ,l0:-KTf3w expressed this.'25 In Arius, of
course, ktisma-ktizein were understood in such a way that to usc these
words of the Son clearly put him among the phere of created things. 26
We cannot make out much of the teaching of Theognostus from the
four extant fragments. In the second fragment, handed down by Athaua-
sius27-the first refers to the Holy Spirit and warns against putting the
Spirit above the Son-we have, according to Athanasius, proof that
Theognostus too had the Son issuing from the substance of the Father.
So the Son could not be regarded as 'created':

The nature of the SOil is no t derived frolll oUlside. nor was he produced out of nothing
(tK II';
OVTc.lV). but iSSLlcd frOlll the nature of the Fathcr like radiance from light and like
vapour from water. Radiancc and vapour llJ;C not sun. o.r water, nor is the onc ~lien to the
other; so too (the natUre of the Son) is not the Father, nor is it alicn to him, but is nil
olltflowing of the natnre of the Father, witho ut the Farner's natLl.fe being divided. The
sun is not diminished by che rays which it sends out, nor docs the natu(e of me P:!ther
undergo any change in having an image of itself, the 50n.28

Theogllostus has certainly used the comparisons he cites in order to

express both the similarity and the difference between Father and Son.
But one might be tempted. to describe the talk of the issuij1g of the SOIl
'from the natw'e' of the Father as an 'interpretation' of Athal1asil1s, if we
did not already have the same formula in Origen. Of course, the com-
parisons indicated point to a subordinationist tmderstanding of the rela-
tionship between Father and Son, as ill the rest of Alexandrian theology
of the time. But in Thcognostus we do not have Arianism aval1t /a 'cttre.
The third fragment, which is handed down by Gregory of Nyssa,
points dearly ill the direction of subordinationism:
25 L. W. Barnard, VigC 24, 1970, 180.
26 Any definition of klizeill in Arius has to take note of his undcrstanding of the divine 'monad'
(see below).
~1 Athnna1ius. Decr. Nlc. S)'II. 25.2: Opitz, A W II, I, 3. pp. 10- Zi with reference to A.v. H~nuek,
op. cit.; sec L. W . .llul1llrd, VigC 24. I970, 180r.
21 Athan3siLls, loe. eft.: Opit;z. p. n l - T :For t he earlier hIstory of 'f\'om the 5ubst:mcc of the
Fa.ther' sec G. C. Stead "Euscbius" n/ld the Counci l of Nicnea', )'J'S NS 24. 1973. 85- 100, esp.
88-9:.>.. He points to T ertullL1n (Prax. 4. 7. 8), Novatian (Trill. 31), and above nil to Ori!;cn. The lntter
seeks to avoid materialistic conccptions (joll/l CQ/lfl/ltlltnry XX, ISrB; De prlll(,) , though the cxprcs-
sioll 'from the substance of the Fnther' is not uscd . Dur Origcn. ~ccording to Stead, speaks expressly
of it in thrc.c pasSllges: COIl1/li. ill 10 . fn'lg. 9 (Prcusdwll, 4\lO~D-2'): To 'Ws l,ovoyevoOs TTCxpa TOU
'!T<lTpOS~ yoElv "'fTo~aAAfl /K ovola, Tou1raTpo, dvm "ov ul ev. o,,5bt yap T';;V KTI<1\JllTwv '!Tapa TroTp6,.
aA}.'tK e,o\i lila ,.oil Aoyoil ~X' I TO eival. Also in COIIIIII. R Olli . IV, 10. and in a. fragment from
COIIIIII. Ileb. preserved [or us by Pnmphilus. For Thcogllostus sec C. C. Stead, op. cit.. 90.

When God desired to create all things, he first prepared the Son as a measure for the
creation of the world.29
Here the emergence of the Son is connected with the creation of the
world. Of course, this need not be interpreted as 'creation' of the Son, but
the emergence of the Son is only mentioned in connection with crcation .
. The fourth fragment fro!n the Hyp.otyposes, ~iscovered by F. Diekamp,~o
discl1sses the names (predicates) which are gwen to the Son of God In
Scripttu'e: Logos, image, wisdom.
. . . (They call him) Logos because he comes forth as the /lOllS of the Father of the
universe. For i~ js clear that the .finest product of the /lOllS (the understanding) is the
Logos (the word). For Logos (the word) is also image (ElKWV). For he (the Logos, the
word) alone of aU that is in the understanding finds a way outside. Words in us :lJ,'"C only
a partial expression of tiliJ1gs that could be expressed, others remajn ullSpoken and iliddell
ill the underst.mding. But ie is reasonable that the essential word of God is <the interpreta-
tion) of all ( the ideas of God). For that rcasou (the scriptures) also nanled Ili1ll (chc Logos)
wisdom, as this name caushow the fulLless of thc ideas hidden in him,3l
Theognostus then discusses Col. 2. 9: 'in him dwells the fullness of the
Godhead'. He explains what this dwelling means in the following way:
As he (the SOil) has similarity with the Father according to his being (1xooll T~V O;.tOlcm,TC(
'ToO "TrQTp05 Kern\; T~V ovalcxv, so too he also has similarity according to munGer (as the
only one). Therefore cilere is only one Logos and on ly one So.erua, for the Father needs
no other (wisdom); nor did he need to give any other image of his nature (alongside the
Son), as though chefirst were deficient. For in this way it (i.e. the ilJ1:1ge) woald have full
similarity, if ie were also sufficient in nL1mber (i.e. if only a sinfile im.1ge were necessary
to represent the Father completely). Thus he is the only (Logos) and preserves cOlnplece
similarity with dlC One. So too he is unalterable ( lva??oICJros), as he is the image of the
unalterable Father; for it is impossible for what is directed towards similarity wioh the
One to experience chan~e (c!!SVVQTOII yap ~ET~oM15 til m(pq: ywtaOc(l 'TO ye '1<Pl~Ws 1TPOS T~\I
TOO tv6s OJ.1010'Tll'T(X vEveuK6s) .32

What is said about the Logos here may be summed up as follows:

(r) As Logos, the Son is associated with the idea of revelation. We
have the beginning of a theology of the Word.
(2) This Word issues from the understanding of the Father, from his
(3) As this Word can express all the thoughts of the notls of the Father,
it becomes the eikolt, the image.
29 Greg. Nyss . C. EUllom. Drat. III 2 (not 3, as in Barnard, see n. 25 above): Jaeger II, 2, Leidcn
1960, 9211-12; A. v. Harnack, op. cit., 77.
30 F. Diekamp. 'Ein neues Fragment aus den Hypotyposen des Alexandriners Theognostus',
TQ 84, 1902,481-94; text 483f.; A. v. Harnack, op. cit., 77
II F. Diekamp, op. cit., 483, with a supplementation of the text which is also recognized by
H3rnack: 'TOV Blovo,w5n TOO eEOV Myov am'xvTc.lV (TWV TOO eEOO eEOOplll.laTWV ~pJ.lEV~a ?~yE1V eIK6S).
>2 F. Diekamp, 01'. dt., 483 6- 7 ; A. v. Harnack, op. cit., 77-78; on p. 80 Harnack rejects Diekamp's
theory thac Dook VU of the Hypo/yposes had a special title and was composed as a retraction of the
six earlier books; nor did the didactic writing by Dionysius of Rome have any influence on it, as
Diekamp assllmes.

(4) Because it is a perfect image, the uniqueness of the Logos-Son is

(5) Because of the abundance ofideas which can be and are interpreted
in this way in the essential Logos of the Father, he is also called Wisdom,
Row near to or how far from Arius is Theognmtm at tl,is point? How
strongly has he interpreted Origenism in terms of Arianism? A contro-
versy has arisen here, above all in Englislucholarship.33 Two points may
probably be 111.ade:
(1) In Theognostus, the Son is still on the side of G d, despite all the
subordination to the Father. Even the use of the word ktisma doe not
assign him to the creaturely realm. One thing above all clearly distin-
guishes Theognostus' Logos from that of Arius, as we shall see: because
it is a perfect image, the Logos shares in the unalterability of the Father.
This is an essential difference, which can only be fully clarified with
reference to a fragment from Arius himself.
(2) The Logos is a mediator between the 'one' and the 'many'. But this
'one' whom the Logos interprets through his fullness is not the 'Hen' of
Plotinus, which is fully undifferentiated in itself. If Diekamp's elaboration
is correct, the fullness of ideas is already present in the 110//S of the Father. 34
The strong stress on the 'uniqueness' of the Logos as the one perfect image
brings about a greater approximation of the 'one' to the 'one Logos'. In
Arius, matters are quite different. The extant fragments ofTheognosms
do not allow us to make him already a heretical predecessor of Arius
Pierills, presbyter of the church of AI . exandcia under Thconas (BishoJ?
of Alexandria fr01ll281/2 to 300),35 was called the 'new (i.e. the YOlmger)
Origen' .36 He kept the memory of the great master alive, according to
Photius, by teaching the pre-existence of souls, but above all by the extent
of his work, his talent and the charm of his manner of speaking. Pilotius
adds the telling comment: 'At that time Origen still belonged to the men
33 T. E. Pollard, 'Logos and Son in Origen, Arius and Athanasius', StudPat 2 (TU 65). Berlin 1957.
282-7; id., 'The Origins of Arianism'.]TS 9, 1958, 103-II; for criticism, M. F. Wiles, 'In Defence of
AdL1S' , jTS r3. ~9(12, 339-47: G. C. tcad, 'The Platonism of Arius', jTS IS, 1964, 16-31. There
is a short SU 111 1l111cy of the various posirions iuL. W . Barnard. VigC 24.1970, 172f.ln T U, NF9, 3, 83,
Harnack stresses the way in wllich the content ofThcognostw' tenchtng corresponds with thut of
Origcn. a L1Ct whi~h P horius, Bibl. cod. 106 (Heury II. p. 73) already nored. albeit iu 0. (lcprccn tory
way. Cr. L. W. D~roard , op. cit., 182: 'In some ways, Arius is nearcr to Thcognostus than to Origcn
and lllay have fqLlOd support for his views in Thcosno~tus' use of KTtal1a. his idea of the Son as the
'st<!ndard of creation', and in hi! usc of Logos as a otlc of the SOil nnd, in thnt SCl15e, deriv~tivc.
However, there is much ill Theognostus which docs nct .tit into Arius' system. Nevertheless, it is
possihle that. as with_TIionysius. Adus picked up onc strand in Theoguostus' thought and developed
it with rC,lllorsdcss logic within rus O\!ffi phiiosoph iCll 5chcu~e:
j4 F. Diekamp. TQ 14. 190.2,4831-01. See n. 3t above.
J5 f. L. W. Darmrd. VigC 14. 1970, 182-3; L. D. Radford, op. cit.: on Picrius p. 303.
36 Photiu5, Bibl. cod. II"9: R. Henry 11, 9424 - S-: wan Kal vtov rnovollao&~val 'WplytVTlV. J erome,
Dr v[,. m. 76: B. C. llichardson, TU 14. 1896: ill Origellcs lu,,;or lIocamllr. /l.s has now been estnbUshed,
Picrius, like Astctjus, weakened in the petsecutJon. Cf: H. Chadwick,)TS 24, 1973. 446. and n. 1.

of repute.'37 Of his teaching, Photius can only say that it was orthodox in
respect of the Father and the Son, 'with the exception that he speaks of
two substances and two natures; for he uses these words "ousia" and
"physis" instead of the word "hypostasis", and not as it is used by the
followers of Arius. As regards the Holy Spirit, his teaching is very bold
and heretical; in fact he declares his status to be lower in comparison with
the Father and the Son.'38 We may probably conclude from this that
Pierius took over the subordinationism of Origen. One other interesting
detail about Pierius may be mentioned. His pupil was the famolls Pam-
phil us, with whom Eusebius of Caesarea felt special ties. C. de Boor
discovered that Pierius composed a 'Logos on the Life of St Parnphilus',
about which Eusebius lets slip no word. According to C. de Boor it is
not improbable that a teacher should set up a monur-neut to his pupil. But
the silence of Eusebius could be caused by rivalry.3 9


If we are to understand the decline in the development of doctrine
between Origen and Arius (Nicaea), we must also pay attention to the
question of the incarnation of the Logos and its interpretation. About trus
time theological thought-for all the reflection about the Logos-primar-
iJ y moved -within the economy, i.e. within the kerygma of the incarnation.
At all events, concern was with the whole Chri$t, the whole kerygma, as
we can see especially i'om Diollysius of Alexan dria. However, a momen-
tous change begins to set in within the of the incarnation.
Alongside one set of problems, the Father and his Logos, another develops:
the Logos and his flesh.
The immediate followers of Origen evidently kept in his footsteps, at
least as far as the doctrine of the soul of Christ was concerned. We nd
no doubt about it in Gregory Thaumatnrgus (died c. 270). Dionysius of
Alexandria mentions it expressly in a fragment- assuming that the frag-
ment is genuine. The passage concerns the longer text at Luke 22. 42[[
In his interpretation of Luke 22. 44 ('And beillg in all agony he prayed
more earnestly; and his swe..'lt became like great drops of blood '\J1i.og
down upon the grolmd'), he mentions John 10. IS, and says:
However, the (saying) '1 have power to lay down my sou l and I have power to take it
agaIu'-with this he shows m.'l.t the suffering is voluntary, 3 1:ld further that the soul given
and received is to be distinguished from the Godhead given and received. An.d just as he
volul1tarily took d~tn upon himself ill the flesh and planted incon:uptibili ty in the 11em,
so according to his own will he took the sorrow of s.lavery lIpon himself (Phil. 2,. $- ll)

37 Photius, Bibl. cod. 119; R. Henry II, 942'-6.

38 Ibid., 93.
39 C. de Boor, Neue Fragmente des Papias, Hegesippus ulld Pierius ill bisher ullbekalllllell Excerpfe/l aus
der Kirchellgeschichte des PI/i/ippus Sideles, TU 5/2, Leipzig 1889, 165-84; on Pierius: 170-71.

and sowed in it courage and boldness, through which he strengthens those who believe
in him for the great struggles of martyrdom ....40
Yet despite the clear assumption of a human soul in Christ, this soul
does not seem to be the seat of the free acts which are decisive for salvation.
The scat of these acts is rather the Godhead of Christ, which is represented
as 'giving and receiving' in relationship to the soul of Christ. The will of
the Godhead of Christ is also discllSsed right at the beginning of the long
fragment (Bien crt I), in the illterpretarion of Christ's prayer on the Mount
of Olives (Matt. 26. 39). The comment reads:
Thus he, the beloved, knew his will, which was perfect (Rom. 12. 2), and he says often
that he was come to accomplish this-not his own, i.e. that of men. [It should be noted
that the mention here is not of the individual human willing of the soul of Christ but of
llllive sal humat) willing 1The forlner was to be a problem for the seventh century.] For
he assumed [he prosopO/t (Biencrt, 'the character'] of man when he became man. For that
rca son thell he also refused to do his own will, tiie lesser, and rather asked that the will of
the Father, the greater, the divine will. migh~ be done; of cow:se, ill keeping with the
Godhead his will and mat of the Father arc wholly and utterly one. For it was the Pather's
will which enjoined him to go through aU the temptation, ill which the Fatiter preserved
him ill a wonderful way from 'llling into temptation. He was not illVolved in it, but
stood high above temptation and left it behind hin'!. However, it is neither impossible
nor to no purpose chat the Redeemer should prny with hls will set over against that of the

The soul of Christ is recognized as a reality, but it does not come to the
fore in the interpretation of the suffering on the Mount of Olives. The
presuppositions to be found in Origcn are no longer used. Fill'thclIDore.
Pieri us pupil, the presbyter PC1mphilus, makes an important observation
in his Apology for Origcn. Origeu's doctrine that Christ had assumed a
hnmall soul became a stumbling block for a 11lunber of people. Of course,
the presbyter does not waste any words on the extent of such a 'scandal';
bnt at all events we have here a remarkable, open opposition, which was
probably connected with hostility to Origen's doctrine of the pre-
existence of souls.41
There can be no doubt that the 'Affair of Paul of Samosata' is a distinc-
tive event in the history of christo logy. Unfortunately the necessary
critical conditions for its interpretation have not yet been created.43 Paul
appears to have represented a 'divisive' christology, and his opponents in
40 Dionysius AI., C. L. Feltoe, op. cit., 242-3; W. A. Bienert, op. cit., 99: ~v TOUTOIS 5T];>.ol
~Koualov elval TO 1TaSos' Ka\ (TI, wS &;>';>'T] IlEV 1'J TISell~vT] Ka\ ;>'all~avOIl~VT] '!lUX';, &l\;>'T] BE 1'J TIS.laa
K(d lIall~Qv"Uotx S.OTT]S. For the whole text (C. L. Feltoe, op. cit., 231-50; W. A. Bienert, op.
cit., 9.5-J.O)l).cr. Bienert, p. !:t:.I. n. 266. T~ section could be genuine, unlike the last section of V,
44 (llienert p. 100), where there is a dear allusion to the monothelitic controversy. Here, however,
prc-Niccne problems can still be discovered.
41 Djonysius AI., C. L. Feltoe, 01" cit. , 233'-234'; W. A. llienert, 01" cit., 96.
41"pamphilus, Apol. pro. Orlg.: cu. C. H. E. Lommatzsch, Dc.[olini 1846,24.373: Si quis salle
offewfjllJr, quail dixil' Sillvnlorem etiaw IIIllm(lm JUm!pisIt: IIi1H1 ,I~ hac (IlIIplluJ responllenllum Pllto, nis; quoll
huh,s SUrHClltiac 110/1 Origones ~uclor est, scd ipsa saurla ,Grip/lira (fslatur. Ipso Domino el Salvatore dieel1(e
... (there follow }ohn lo. 18; Matt. 26. 38;.}011ll12, 27).

the church, among whom the presbyter Malchion played a leading role,
a 'unitive' christology. According to the sYllodalletter preserved in part
by Eusebius (HE 7, 30), Paul denied the divinity of Christ which he had
earlier allowed. Christ had not 'come down from heaven' but was 'from
below'. According to witnesses of a later period (Contestatio Busehi; of 428,
Timothy Aelurus, Seven,s of Antioch) Paul put forward a christology of the
indwelling of the 'Logos' in a man (with body and soul). Malchion, on
the other hand, appears to have put forward a dlcistology the terminology
of which had already progressed quite considerably. H e saw in Christ a
unity of Logos and sarx corresponding to the unity between b0dy and
soul in a human being. The Logos is in Christ what the soul is in man.
Malchion would see that this guaranteed a strict unity in Christ. If Paul
on the other hand allowed a soul in Christ, M 'llchion would have felt
him to be renouncing the p ossibility of assuming a strict w1ity in Christ.
Thus the ApoUinarian solution of christology would be anticipated as
early as the third century. If (as de Riedma tten sees it) we can accept the
tradition about Paul of Samosata as genuine, it would be possible that we
had here the common root of Arianism, Apo1Linarianism and some aspects
of the christology of the Alexandrian church. Naturally the different
development of the three branches of tllis Logos-sarx christology would
have to be taken into account. In any case, their mutual relationship is an
important problem in the history of tlle dogma of the tllird and fourth
centuries. We will attempt to draw attention to this in what follows.
Scholarship, however, has so far beeulmable to agree on the autllenticity
of the fragments and so if we take them into consideration, in this study
at all it can only be conditionally.
We can already establish a nega tive attitLlde towards Origen in Peter of
Aiex(mdria (died 3II) , especially towards Origen's teaching of the pre-
existence of the soul. Does this influence the actual picture of Christ?
Peter w as a renowned witness of the Christian faith and was even quoted
at the Council of Ephesus, but w e are unable to answ er the question
because of the regrettably few remains of his writiL1gS.44 It is nevertheless
striking that in two of tlle best known of Origen's opponents,
oj Olympus (died c. 3 r ) and 'Adfll1umtius', as, perhaps, in Athanasius'
teacher Alexander oj Alexandria (died 328), a more or less pronou11ced
form of the 'Word-flesh' chcistology may be discem ed.45 It is probably
4, C f. P. No utin, E'cole Pratiqlle de.~ Hallres ECIII/CS, Sec. Sc. Rd. Allllllaire 1953-54. 56-8, on H. de
Riedll13Itcn O.P.. Let Aclt'S d" prodJ de Pa/II' (Ie Smllosale, Elude slIr In Chrislolo<~ie du Ille et IV siecles,
Fribourg 1952 ; fu rther G. B:u-dy, Parll de Sa/nosatc, Louvain 19291 ; F. Loofs, Paulus VOII Samosata.
Leipzig 1924. Nautin p romise5 a new edition of the frag ments and a new description of Paul's teach-
44 ACO I, I, 2, p. 39. On the christology of Peter of Alexandria: M. Richard, 'Pierre Ier d'Alexan-
drie et l'unique hypostase du Christ', MSR 3, 1946. 357-8. Further L. B. Radford, op. cit., 56-8, esp.
61-70. Another significant article is: J. Barns-H. Chadwick, 'A Letter ascribed to Peter of
Alexandria',JTS 24. 1973, 443-55.
43 I. Methodius OP.: Symposioll 3, 3-7: ed. Bonwetsch, 29-34.-Ctr. Porplzyrium 3: ibid., ed. B.

because of his opposition to Origen that Methodius, who fought against

Origen's doctrine of the pre-existence of souls and in particular of the
soul of Christ, was occasioned to leave Christ's soul unnoticed in his
pictt:re of Christ. He maintains a complete silence over it, though in view
of his dependence upon Origen elsewhere he must have known of the
teaching of the Peri Archon (cf. Symposion 7, 8 with De Prine. II, 6, 4). Some
formulas seem to combine a Logos-anthropos and a Logos-sarx frame-
For this was Christ: man filled with the pure and perfect Godhead, and God compre-
hending man (3, 4) .... And so God, moistening His clay once again and modelling the
same man again unto honour, fixed and hardened it ill tl~c Virgin's womb, united and
mingled it with the Word, and finally brought it faIth dry and unbreakable into the
world ... (J, 5).
At the conclusion of this introduction, we return once agaiu to the
starting point of the period which we have been describing. Here we
meet the gure of Gregory Thal/maturgtts, but 110W olltside Alexandria, at
Caesarea in Palestine, soon after 2JI-23J: that is, after the flight ofOrigen
from Alexandria to his Palestinian friends Theoctistes and Alexander. If
we are right, no theologian in this period produces a confession of th~
triad in God which comes so near to Nicaea as does Gregory, above all in
his Expositio fidei. Interestingly enough, its place in the history of doctrine
is best illuminated by Arius. Indeed, in his Thaleia Arius perhaps makes a
direct allusion to it. For this reason, we shall only be considering it within
the framework of the Arian doctrines of the Logos and the incarnation.
Whereas in some Alexandrians, as we have seen, subordination ism
becomes more marked than that of Origen, Gregory Thaumaturgus
'almost'-this word can be substantiated from the texts-establishes the
equality of Father, Son and Spirit in the triad. In effect, in Gregory
Thaumaturgus and Dionysius of Alexandria it is possible to see a 'twofold'
Origen, that is, the ambivalence of his teaching in respect of Nicaea
and Arius.
50611-507'. Cf. G. N . Bonwetsch, Die Theolagie des MelJlOdius v. 01., AbhGott GW 7 I, Berlin 1903,
87-96; H. Musurillo, S. J., St MetilOdius, T Ile Symposiol/. A Treatise (III C/iastity (ACW 27). Introduc-
tion, esp. 19. J. Montserrat Torrents, 'Los titulos cristo16gicos en h obm de Metodio di Olimpo',
Scriptorium Victoriense 16, 1969, 135-40. 2. There is a L ogos-san<: christology in 'Adnmanrius' which is
wholly based on Rom. I. 3 and John I . I4. T he antithesis u,gos (pneulll~)-sa1"x. occurs q uite fre-
quently in the christological section of the Di./OgHS (written about ]00): cd. De Sande llnkhuyzen.
16819-202 24 The descriptions (ibid. 18421) of the 'complete m~ n' in Christ dnd of hIs 'radonal soul'
are, according to J. Liebaert. certainly to be asmmccl a later interpolation. 3. A lcx olldcr ~f A lexa/II/ri"n
is not, however, the author of die Srrlll o d,~ ntrimu et corpore . .. (PG 18, 585-608), which belongs to
the tradition of the MelitoHiatla with its pneuma-sarx christology. See above pp. 94-8; cf. Sermo de
anima 5.6: PG 18, 598C, 600.




TOWARDS the end of the fourth century the Fathers were aware that the
Council ofNicaea in 325 marked the starting-pomt of a new development
in Christian faith. However, the first general council only acquired this
significance in the course of the bitter struggles over its validity. Nicaea
became a turning-point, but did so only ill the course of a long histOl"y
leading to its acceptance. However, since Nicaea is a 'turning-point', it is
extremely important to study the state of christology immediately before
the Council through men who-partly, at any rate-also wrote after the
Council. Lactan6us is the only exception among those who concern us
here. Eusebius of Caesarea shows us that it was possible to put forward
the same doctrine before and after the COLUlcit, and not to take any new
steps. Asterius the Sophist is an obscure figure. Aphrahat the Persian sage
seems to know nothing ofNicaea, or rather to take no notice of it. With-
out doubt the most significant figure is Eusebius of Caesarea who, together
with Lactantius, is the last great non-heretical subordinationist. He is the
link backwards to Origen. He acquires great significance for the future of
christology not so much as a 'christologian' as by the incorporation ofrus
Logos christology in a political theology. He laid the spiritual founda6011s
for the theology of the imperial church, which was to he influeutial for
many centuries to come.


Eusebius (c. 260-339) interests us primarily as a theologian and christo-

10gian.1 To do justice to his particular characteristics, it would be necessary
I A. Bigclmair was probably the first to discover Euscbim the 'theologian' (in addition toEusebius
the church histod:tn) iu h~i s contribution to the Fests(.hrift for Georg von Hertling: 'Zur Theologie
des Eme.bius von Caes:trea', Kempten-MUnchen ~9I3, 65-85, here follOWing tbe special printing of
1\)14 A study which is still useful even todny is M. Wei.s, Die Stell'lIIg tks Ellse/lills VOIl Cilsarea "/11
nritJllischell Sireit. K,1,.d,oll- '/lid dogl/lellgesc1riclrlli~/'o Slmiie, Trict I919; H.-G. Opitz, 'Euscb von
C1csarca :Us Theologc', ZNW 34. 1935, 1-19, offers new, suggestions, ,as docs H. Berkhof, Die
T /,eoJogie ties Et,sebins 11011 Cacsarea. Amsterdam 1939. G. Bardy. 'La thcologic d'Eusebe de Cesan!e

to pay more attention to various presuppositions than is possible within

the framework of the present book. M re would have to be discovered
about the intellectual backgrOlU1d from which Eusebius came. Three or
more factors ate at work in him: (a) the tradition of the church to which
he often appeals, but which js refracted by the subordinationi~m of the
Apo.logists and especially by the influence of Origeu; (b) Scripture;
(c) writers from Middle Platonism. It would be necessary to investigate,
whether the in8.UCllCC of Middle Platonism has been corrected by statements from
Scripture (and the creeds), or whether on the contrary the Middle Platonist pattern of
hypostases has largely determined the choice of scriptuml passages. Still, in assessing
Eus 7bius it .I~ important !lo.t to overlook the stl:rting-poi~ts ~hich were offered him ~Y
earlier traditIon, and especrally by the ApologIsts, for hIs picture of the Logos. Special
attention shou ld be paid to the question how far in EllS~bius the doctrine of the divine
persons is still a theological doctrine of God's saving action, his economy. and how far it
appears in the philosophica l perspective of the problem of immanence and transcendence
which so preoccupied Middle Platouislll.2
d'apte,~ I'Histoire Eccltsiastique', RHB sO, 1955, 5-20. The hristology ofEusebius is discussed in:
I-I. de Ricdrnmcn .P., Les "rte! ell! pr~c~s tie Pnul tic Smllosnle. ntrlllt srlr fa cJrristofoglc till Ill" ('I W
siccl~ (Paradl)sis Vl) , Pribourg 1951, 08-81; A. Weber, APXH. Eill Beitrag :mr Cllrist%gie dcs Ellsebll/s
11011 Ciisarea, MUnchen 1965; id., 'Die T.1ufc lesu L m Jordan IIh Anf.1ng nnch Eusebius von
C!lsnrea', Tlleq/P/Ji/ 4f, 1966.20-9; F. Rieken 'Die logoslehrt des Euscbios von CaesArea und der
MittclplatoniS1\Jus', TlrcQIPIii/4-2, 1967, 341- 58; G. C. Stead, '''Euscbius'' and the Council ofNicaca',
rTS NS 24, 1973, 85- roo. There are also long sections 01'1 the logos doctrine 0, cllristology of
Eusebi~ls ill D. S. Wallace-Hadrill, EU.lrbIIlS oj CaesarclI, london ~960, esp. ehs. V and VI; J. Sirinelli,
L~s vl/es iJislorilJlrcs d'ElIsJiJe de Cf.ja((r~ (Um\<. de Dnk:lr, Pub!. de In Sect. de langues et littcrature 10),
Dakar 1961; R. Pnl"in:l, L'Impero t 1'I/II/mntor~ CristimlD ill Erm:/JIo dl Cesare/I. Lo. prima tc%g/II po/itrcil
del Crisliallt'.5illlo, ZtJrich 1966, esp. 'Parte prima. ] fond. mend teoJogici della concezione eli Eus.
suU'!mpeIO e J'fmpcrnrore Cristi:ll1o', 2.5-106 (for further literature 011 pollticnl dteology see below);
l>er Deskow, Rex Clorine. Ti,e KIIIgll1lp oj C/irist I/r "tt: Early CI,I/relr, Uppsala 1962, 261-8 i Maric-
Jos~phe Rondaau, 'Une uouvelle ptcuvt;: de I'influence jjtt~rai[e d'Eus~bc de Ccsnree sur Atll\IO:l5C :
l'interprctntion de PSnufll.QS', RSR 56, 1968, 385-434; id., 'le "Commcntaire des Psaumes" de
Diodon: de Tarse I-m', Rei/His/Rei 176, 1969, 5-2], 153-88 ; '177, 1970, 5-33 . Here we follow the
dating of the works ofEuscbius worked out by D. S. Wnllacc-Hndrill, op. dt., 39-S8; of. R Parina,
op. cit., n-u. Compare the variou.s a.rticl~s on Eusebiu5 in the I Clxi~'l: E. Schwartz, PWK vr, 1370-
439, here [ollowing the rcpriut ill: Schwartz, Griachlsclre G~.i,lJidrtssdlreibur, edited b.y the Kommission
fUr Spfftalltike Religion gescllichtc bel der Delltschen AkadC\11ie der Wisscnschnften zu Bedill,
Leipzig 19591 ,495-598; J. Moreau, DlaHCE [5, 1963 , 143-r-60; id., in RAG 6. 1966, 105z-88;
M.-J. Rondenu :md J. Kircltmcycr. Die/. de Spirit. '/~, 1961, r686-90; J. Qi.Ia~tcu. Patrology ill, 1963,
W orks relevant for the dlristology of th e prc-Niccne period arc above all the various pnrt~ oithe
His/oria E"/csilrsticll (HE), tbe Be/ogae PrqpiJelicae ( P), the two work; Praeparatio Evmrgd/ca (PE) and
DelllollJtrntio EII(llI.gelica (DE) (both frOIll the years lU- IS); important individual documcuts are the
Pnlltgyric of Tyre (3TS-I6 or 316-17) and thc letter to Euphl1ltion of B:tIneae (c. 318). Important
NiccIIC/post-Niccne works are: the letter to the community of Caesarcn (about Nicnca) with his
creed (June 325); on tills see J. N. D. Kc.lly, Early Clrr/jllml Crwls, London 19721, t8z. 2n-26. Also
COlltra Marctll",,, (CM) ()3S), De Eales{"slica Tlreologia (ET) (335) . 1...tJIIJ Cor,sW"li,,; (LC) (335),
COlllmtularia i/l PS~IIIIO$ (CP) (after 330; for the v:tciouB dntiugs sec M.-J. Rondeau, RSR 56, 1968,
4 20, 0.60); Tlreo,PltarrDia (Greek Crag. = TG; Syrinc text = ' S; for the dating see M.-J. Rondeau.
RSR 56, 190B, 386,Il.Z); cf. Walince-HndriJJ, op. cit., 55. 'The work (TlleopllmrY)lIs a. Whole reads
like a retrac/alia, a last word ill whichEl,Iscbius is recapitulating the best of wh~t he has had to sny over
forty ycnrs of writlng.' According to, the 1'llaopiraueifl is later than lC II-I8, in
whicll others see an 'outlinc' of the 1'lreoplrtl/rein. See the various views in M.-J. Rondeau, loco cit.
tF. Rieken, 'Die Logoslehrc des Eusebjos', TlraolplJi/42. 1967, 358. lUcken was tbe first to IIlllkea
thorough investigation of the philosophical presuppositions of the Logos doctrine of Euscbius, and
estAblishes noteworthy rellltiollSbips. [t Farin" h~snot noted Ibis study. Rickcllmnkes some references
to the stlte of scholarship: 'lll.Berkhof's work the influence of tile scheme of hypostases on..Eusebills'
thought comes clearly to tIle fore, but the bibUcal influences on the terse and systematic ll.ccount are

In the foreground of the thought of the historian and theologian

Eusebius we seem to find a reference to the Origenist tradition, which he
understands to be the tradition of the church. As far as he differs from
Otigen in important points, he is influenced by the Alexandrian school
of the period after Origen, of course with the exception of Arius.3 In what
follows we shall present the main features of his Logos doctrine and his
interpretation of the incarnation, above all in the period before Nicaea.
Where it seems appropriate, we shall also refer to his works after Nicaea.
The separation of these two phases is more important for his political
theology than for his christology.
(a) The Logos doctrine ofEusebius before Nicaea
In his earliest works, Eusebius asserts that it is the practice of Scripture
to name the Logos of God Lord and God after the Father above and the
God of all things.4 It is good to refer at the beginning of our investigation
to the confession which he presented to the Synod of Nicaea to demon-
strate his orthodoxy, and abcve all to recognize the guideline to which he
kept, while making clear how coufession and reflection could go different
We believe in one God, the Father, almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Logos of God, God from God, light from light, life
from life, Son only-begotten, first-begotten of all creation, begotten before all ages of

discusse.d less. Weber is Il\rgely oriented on the scriptural exegesis ofEusebius (esp. 011 Provo 8. 22- 31).
but unfortun;ttcly does not go sufficiently into the philosophica19nd theological dependencies ... so
llli1.t apart from allusiol15 in APXH. 163-5, tlH! qllestion which we have posed is not discussed' (op.
cit., 358. n.I4.8). It is important to note not onl y the positive content ofthe IrllllltiOIl prescnt in Eusebius
but :llso what it declares to be 'heresy'. In tllis two(old perspective, Origen is particularJ y significallt
for Eusebiu5. Tlle negative callon whiclJ Origen sets out in his commentary on Titus 3. lof. can be
tl'3ced cleacly ill Euscbius. Cf. Apol~gia pro Origell I of Pnmphi'lus (handed down in the tr.1I'1.I1ation
by Rufinus, Lommatzsch 24. 34-19). The following characteristics of heresies are ellu1l11lt3 ted:
'Anyone Who regards himself as a Christian but nevertheless, claims that there is a fundament.,1
difference between old aud new covenants (the Old Testament and the New Testamont), and who
tllcrcfore separntcs the: God"at work ill the Old Testament from tho God in the New Testrunent, who
regards Jesus Chdst as only a man and refuses to give him exalted and divine attributes. who pUts
forward :m ndopcionist or patdpassian view, who assurrt.cs thnt hunllUl souls arc of dilfercnr-substance,
who denies free will, who rejects the resurrection of the dead, who puts forward false teaching about
devils and angels, is a heretic.' Thus F. W(nkclmann, 'Grosskircllc und HNresien In dec Spatantlke',
Forsc}u/llgeu "lid FortscllrilU 41, 1967. 245. Also important are the studies by M. Wei!, Ii. Bigdmnir,
G. Hardy and H. de Riedmattcn. Weis compl\res Origen (00-8) and the post-Ori~enisticAlexandrinns
(68-73); cf. G. Florovsky, 'Origcn, Eusebius and the Iconoclastic COI~trovcrsy', e/lllr"l Hillory 19,
'M.Wois. op. cit., mClltions three decisive differences ftom Origen, but is only thinking of the
Logos doctrine here. The questioll of the 'soul of Christ' should be added. He makes Dionysius of
Alexandria, Thcognostus lIud Pierius responsible for the difforences which he 'tresses; he finds that
their influellce on ,Eusebiils was communicated principally by his teacher Pamphilus. Cf. HE VI and
W; FB VII, r9; XIV, ;1.3-7 on Dionysius ofAlexnlldcia, to whom t11e Arinnsappe.led; cf. Athanasius,
De sell I. Dioll.: H.-G. Opitz, AW II, I, 4, pp. 46-67; Gcnnadiu5, Liber Eules. Dog"', 4: C. H. Turner,
J TS 7, 1906, 90: W. A. Bienert, Diollysills II~II Ale:wmdricl/, DIIs er/wilcllt Wetl:, Stuttgart 1972.
I'l-18;:B. BOllln.rand, 'Penys dlAlexandde ct Arius', BLE 67. 1'966,161-9; id., L'MrJsie d'Arins el la
"Foi" de NIeCe J: L'I:Nnflle d'Arills, Paris 1972., 135-4.3.
Eusebius, EP: PG 2Z, 102,913: 6 TOO OEoD A6yoS, 0\1 ~BTa TOV aV(;),:T(;) 'Tl'aTfpa Keil a,OIl ,a,\I 071(;)\1
I<VPIO\l Kal eEOV cmoKa7lElv ~eOS Tij IEpCjc Ypacpil,

the Father, through whom all things came into being, who because of our salvation was
incam.1te, and dwelt among men, a,nd suffered, and rose agaiu on the third day, and
ascended to the Father, and will come again in glory to judge living and dead. We
believe also ill one Holy Spirit. (He ndds the exphnatioll: We believe that each of these
exists and exists independently, the Father truly as Father, the SOil truly as Son and the
Holy Spirit truly as Holy Spirit. As also our Lord said when he sent out his disciples to
preach: Go and teach al\ peoples and baptize thenl in the naUle of the Father alld of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit.)S

Eusebius' assertion that the Logos and the Son have their own hypo-
stasis acquires a key position.
For he (the Logos of God) bas in him,selfhis own entirely divine and rational hypostasis,
which exists for itself and also works for itself, but is immaterial and incorporeal, and in
every respect is s~ilar to the nature of the first and ullbcgottcn and only God; it (this
hypostasis) bears within.itsclftheLogoi of aU,that is made alld the incorporeala.lld invisH.lle
ideas of all that is visible. Therefore the divine sayings also name it wisdom and God's

When Eusebius speaks here of a 'similarit/. and also stresses that the
Logos has its own hypostasis, we can see the tension that arises with the
hOllloousios of Nicaea. This also emerges jn the '1ct that he is Ul)willing to
we the simile of the ray of light for the re1atiollshi p of Father and Son,
which according to Athanasius expresses the hOl11ootlsion between them. 7
In the post-NiceJle Ecclesiastical Theology he uses the comparison of me
emperor and the picture of the emperor to express the relationship
between Father and Son in God. This is meant to express not only the
similitudo but also the dissimiliwao. 8 In his sermon on the feast of the
consecration of the church of Tyre he compares the Father, Son and
Spirit with the three gateways of the basilica. The middle gateway, which
represents the Father, is greater than the two side gateways:
The whole temple he (Bishop Paulinus of Tyre) adometh with a single, mighty
gateway, even the praise of the one and only God, the universal Ki/lgj and on either side
of the Father's sovereign power he providcth the secondary beams of the light of Christ
and the Holy Spirit.9
In his interpretation of the relationship of Father and Son in God,
Eusebius adopts a very difficult position. In no way does he wish to
endanger the singleness of God or monotheism. Therefore the Father is
5 J. N. D. Kelly, Early Chris/iall Creeds, London 19723, 182. Greek in the letter ofEusebius to his
comrnwuty, Opitz, AW III t, 2, dClcument 22, p. 43.
DE V, S, TO: Heikcl. ",6; ct. also rID r, J, J,~: Schwartz, I, 18 1H ': Kal ,hi yt laTIV ova(a
TIS 1Tpo~60'~ l os 3a.cra Kal vcpe<TTwaa, " '1'<;\ lTtnpl Ka\ ~q. 'l'WV OA<.)V EIS njv TWV yEVT)TWV c!m6.VT<.)V
8111.llovpylav vT1l1fllm]c:ia~tvl1. Myos emu 1<0.\ aocpla XPT)~aTl30vcra
, Cf. DE V, I. ~g: Hcikcl, 213 11- 26 ; IV, 3,4-'7: 1.53 1" "1. The ray is O'UJ)CPVTOS, oCone nature with its
source, bur not the Logos vis-a-vis the rathel". The ny is indivisible from the: ligllt. but the Logos has
his own hypostasi .
8 ET H, 23: Klostermann-Hansen, 13334_1344.
9 HE X, 4, 65: Schw. H, 881 1 - 18 ; translation here from Kirsopp Lake, Eusebius: The Ecclesiastical
History H, 1957, 439f. Cf. X, 4, 41; Schw., 87429_875.
desjgnated 'the God' (0 66S) , and clearly set over the Sen.10 According
to the passage quoted above, the basis of this pre-ernincuc<:! is the fact that
the Father is the only God, who has received his GQdhead by natnre, i.e.
from no one else. Thlls the Logos-Son necessarily occllpic:l second place;
the Logos has received his GQdhead from the Father; tills Godllead is in
the same relationship between Father ao.d Son as that of the original to a
representation; it is to be understood ill the framework of Middle Platonic
hypostasis-speculation. The problem which tile confession of the divinity
of Christ (and of the Holy Spirit) poses for Christian monotheism is
therefore solved by Eusebiuslll terms ofante-Nicene, Origeni1t subordina-
tionism. But in contrast to Origen, this sllbordination is made more acute
as the result of certain important nuances. 11 The natnre ofEusebius' Logos
becomes clear when his place in the picture of God and :he world is
defined. There is a supreme hypostasis, the 'first God' (DE V, 4, II; c
IV, 2, 2; 3, 3) . It is the 'one Father' (DE IV,S, 13; cf. 6, ~), the divine
monad (a&ro TO EV or cx\rros 6 sIs) (DE IV, 3, I and 8; c Le Ill, 6:
Heikel 201 14 - 31 ; for the important word monad or henad c DE IV, 6, I:
Heikel 15821; TE II, 6: Klostermann-Hansen 1'o3 9f '). The Father is
'wisdom unbegotten and. without beginning' (DE IV, 3. 5; IV, I, 2; 6, 6;
V, prooem. and v, I, 4). It should be noted here that Eusebills does not
distinguish between O:yev1lTOS and aytvV1lTOS, i.e. between 'not coming
into being' (uncreatecl) and \mbegotten' (not born). Only the Father is
tbe 'true being' (Le VU, 2) and the 'first, powerflll and only true good'
(DE V, I , 24; ET llI, 18; 1791If.), 'the wholly good', who is 'good of
lllmscl by nature' (Le XI, 5 j XII, 2). The transcendence of this monad
is so heightened that it is seen 'beyond the universe' (LC I: 196 18 : 6-rr1<Elva
TOOV OAOOV; DE IV, 7, 4), 'beyond and far above all being' (I.C XI: 2277:
Tl'CxOT)S hll:1KSIVa Ked avOOTCrrOO ovcr1as).
On the other hand, the Son is 'the second' (PE VII, 15,9; 1,7,9; DE V,
3,9); or 'the second God' as in Origen (DE V, 30, 3 j c PL 23, 37). 'TIeing
the second' is so to speak the nature of the permanent state of the LogQs,
as is indic.'lted by the participle in the phrase 5\TTEpruc..'V eEios Myos
(HE I, 2, 5). The Logos is dIe 'second ousia (PE VII, IS, 6; DEVI, prol. I),
the 'second cause' (HE I, 2, 3; EP I; ill, I : PGZ2, I02SD; II2ITI; PE
XI, IS, 7; DE V, prol. 20, 23), the 'second Lord' (I-IE I, Z, 9; EP 1, .12:
PG 22, 1068C); 'the second light' (DE IV, 3. 7). Whereas the Fad1er has
the absolllte primacy ill rule, the Son is allotted only the j;econd role in
his reign and as apXtl (TO: 5e\TTEpeia TfjS l<aTO: Tt'(X\7TOO',' ~acnA6(as I<al
apxiis) (HE 1,2, II; EP 1,5: PG 20, I037C). Thus dlis essential subordina-
tion is expressed in the order of sovereignty, which makes the Son the
10 DE V, 11-14: Heikel, 22526-22616: the Son, although by nature Son a1.'n our God, is not the
first God; he is God only because he is firstborn Son. r
II For what follows c F. Rieken, T/leolPhii 42, 1967, 343-8, where full~. information is given;
R. Farina, op. cit., 42-09.

servant and living organ and minister of the Father in the service of man. 12
It can be secn especially in tb designation of the Son as 'servant of God'
(naTs TOO OEOV) (DE V, II, 9).
This gradation in Eusebius' doctrine of God and the Logos becomes
more marked when it is seen against a background of Middlc Platonism.
This background call i1 act be demonstrated.u The J.ogos is reduced to
the role of mediator between the Wlcreated God and the ousia of what js
created.1 4 Tl1e Logos is the demiurge (DE IV, 5, 13: 10 1 ; ET I, 9: 6719 ;
II, 7: IO 53! ; C HE I, 2 , 3 ; PE XI. 14, 4),lS the govemor (\i1TOPXos) (LC ill :
2022 ), the helper (\JTroupy6s) (DE IV, IO, 16; V, .17). the servant (\rrrTlPETl-
KOV) (ET I, 20: 81 17 ; IT, 14: II62 ; c Justin, Dial. 61, I) and living instru-
ment (5pyexvov elJ.~VVXov Kc:xl 3"w) (DE IV, 4, 2) . The difference between
the Logos and the Father is stressed so strongly that the Logos can be
described as the helmsmall who stands on the ship of the world and directs
the rudder in accordance with the indications of the Father- the latter
being one who stands high above him (DE IV, 2, I; 4, 2; TIT 1,13: 73 12 ;
II, 17: 12120 ; LC VI, 9; XI, II; XII, 8). It is unnecessary to cite all the
individ nal fnnctions of this mediation. 16 The Logos administers everything
throughout the realm of the visible and the invisible; he binds all together
(SecrIJ6s) and thus arranges the ordering of the wodd. In this way the Logos
is given the fWIction assigned to the world-souilll Middle Platollism)7
The position of the Logos as mediator, as the instrument of the Father,
is maintained so consistently that it is hardly allowed any initiative of its
own. From the early WritiD~S (EP) on, it merely carries ont the plans of
the Father, 'plus actenr que 1 auteur'. 18 J. Sirinelli finds in the rill the fust
and probably the only mention of the Logos' own activity and initiative:
Then, indeed. when the great flood of evil had come nigh overwhelmin.g ill men, like
a terrible intoxication overshadowing and darkening the souls of almost all, the first-
begotten and first-created Wisdom oGod, the pre-existent Logos himself, in.his exceed-
ing kindnes.q appeared to his subjects. at one ~ime by a vision of angels, at 3J10 thcr person-
ally to one or two of the GOd-fearing men of old, as a saving power of God, yet in
no other foml than human, for they could not receive him otherwise. I!)
At all events, the activity of the Logos is always that of an instrument
to carry out or restore the order of the Father. His chief tasks are to 'reveal'
11DB lV.:I., 2.: H cike1, 1:5211 - 13 : urrlJplTT1S . . 3/flov IIpycxvov; DE V, 10, s. n cikcl, 2 33 1: - 13 : ou
6 ~K~!YOV 5ElrtepOS. TO; TOV 1TCX1'poSels CtuSPC;l'Itov5 6ICXKOIIOV).lEUOS KaI61Q[yy~]..i'lw".
).ll'ill hrl1TOuTWY, a]..]..'
13 See F. Rieken, op. cit .. 344- 8.
14 Gr. DB IV, 6,3; Heikcl, IS91-l; LC XI, 12 : Hcikcl, 227 IS - 17 ; PE vn. 12, 2: Mras, 38611-14,
cited in P. Rieken. op. cit., 348.
IS For the cosmological functions of the Logos cf. R. Farina, op. cit., 47-49; DB IV. S, 13: HcikcJ,
1.58 3-); V. I. 6-7: B . 2fl 10- 1P ; II. 5. 7: a, 228 1- 1) .
I~ Cf P. Ritkcn, op. clt., 348- S [; J. SiIinclli. UJ Vl/tS hls/oriques, 278- 80.
17 P. Riekel1, op. cit., 350; cf. the depiction ofebe coslUologi61 CunctiQn oCtile Logos in DE IV,
I], 2 - 3: H cikcl, 1713- 1' .
IB J. Sirinelli, Les vues historiques, 298.
19 HE I, 2, 21; translation in Kirsopp Lake I, 1953, 23f. ;J. Sirinelli, op. cit., 299, stresses the excep-
tional character of this passage.
the truth about God and to 'educate' all men to morality. The ordering of
the cosmos, the leading of men to kn.owledge of God and morality-these
tasks seem to penetrate deeply into human happenings,
mais cette fonction ne lui (the Logos) dOlme allClllle prise sur I'Histoire. T out Ie reste
de son activite, qu'il s'agisse de cetre revelation permanence qui emanc de lui en tant
qu'iJ est la raison de I'uuivcrs, ou qu'il s'agisse de cette revelation cpisodique par quoi il
redresse constamment les ClTeIHS des hommes et les acilcmiuc vers Ie verite, tout en lui
est activite pedagogique et rev6latrice. 20

With this view of the relationship between God, the Logos and the
world, Eusebius finds himself on the same ground as Philo, Origen and
those Middle Platonists of which he made use, especially in the PE.21
However, he differs from the whole of Middle Platonism.
Designating not the first, bue the second God as 8T)I.lIouPy6s. Here he agrees with
Numenius, with the system of the Chaldaean oracles, which is closely rclnted to hinI- in
both content and chronology, and with Plotinus. However, Eusebius di ffers from the
latter in that he has only two stages in the divine realm and not the system, of three hypo-
stases (hel1-lIo~ls-psy,he) which is to be found in Pibtinus. Morcover, his supreme God
is the bearer of idea.5 in contrast to Plotinus' hell. Eusebius identifies the Logos with the
dellliurge i.n the same way that Numcuius identifies the world sou l with it....22

The way in which Eusebius restricts his doctrine of God so closely to

the Middle Platonic distinction between the first and the second hypostasis
explains why the Holy Spirit retreats into the background in his writings,
and is even removed from the divine sphere. The Holy Spidt is to be
regarded as the first of creatnrcs,23 and in Eusebius is in some respects
assigned the place which Arius gives to the LogoS.24
What does the Bishop of Caesarea say about the origin of the Logos or
the Son? It is incomprehensible to the human mind and even to higher
spiritual beings, as we have here the genesis of the Only-Begotten of
20 J.
Sirinelli, op, cit., 299f.
21 Cf. Books XI-XV and the index in Mras IT, 439-65; E. des Places, 'La tradition patrisliqllc de
Platon (specialement d'apres les citations des Lois cr de l'.Epillomis dans la Preparatioll 6vangcJiqllc
d'Eusebe de Cesarec)', ReJ/ErGrec 80, 1967, 385-94. Ibid., 392; 'Eusche, Rl,lrCsJunin, croyait trouver
chez Platon Ie Verbe,le Logos, et bien des pages qu'll a rcprodLlit, touchant Dieu ou raIne, pOl1vaient
cntrer la philosophic chrCticnnc.'
2' F. Rieken, TI,eo/P},i/ 42, 1967, 355-6, who makes particular mention of the relationships to
Numcnius. For compariJlon with Plotinus sec C. Sorge, La doftrilJa delle iposlasi. Allt%gia delle
Elilleadl, Socied Edirricc lntern.'l'lionalc 1959; J. L. Fischer, 'La signification philosophique du
J1~opl:U:ol1iunc', in; Lc Nt!<lpiatollisl/Jc. COI/O!jIlCS rllfemafiollaux du CNRS, ROYal/molit 9-J3jllill 1969,
Paris 1971., 147-50.
23 F. Ri eken, op. cit., 358, with reference to H. Berkhof, Die Theologic des EJISCIliIl.! v. Caesarea,
87; cf. ET Ill, 4-6: Klostermann-Hansen, 15729-164 36 ; cf. ibid., 6: 164 18- 20: Tb 8E 'ITapaK1\'llTOV 1Tveiil1a
oei,.. eEO~ OOTf ul6s, hret 111] !K TOO 1TaTpos 0I10(WS TC;> utc;> Kat o:irro T1'jv y tYEOW El1l11ij\EV, EV 6t TJ Ti3v
6,,~ TOO utoO yevol1w(Ill/ TUYXaVEJ
.. Cf. M. Wcis, Die Sfe/lullg des Eusebius VOII Ciisarea, 75-9. In the heightening of Origen's sub-
ordillltionism Eusebius is here probably dependent on Theognostus and Pierius, who according to
Photius, Bibl. cod. 106 and II9, ed. R. Henry, Photius Bibliof/1I1qlle II, Paris 1960, 72-4, and 92-4, had
heretical doctrines on the Holy Spirit.

God. 25 At the Council of Nicaea, the bishop after long delay subscribed
to the formula 'begotten of the substance of the Father'. In his letter to
the Christians in his diocese he justified this steR by saying dlat in its
statement the COlll1cil was not making the Logos part' of the Father and
was not accepting any 'division' of God.26 Even before 325 he had made
a decisive distinction between divine spiritual conception and human
corporeal conception;
It is not right to say that the SOIl proceeded. frbill the Father in the way that living
beings are begotten among us, nature Gom llatllre with suffering and extreme separation.
For the divine is wholly andutted y indivisible (6"~SPffi 11.;11 aTo~ov), cannot be split,
taken apart, cut up, put together or diminished.l7

We m.ay 5uPl,ose that he only rejects the 'from the substance of the
Father' to the degree that he believes a materialist conception to be
associated with it. For shortly after (in the DE), he takes up a rather more
positive attitude:
Beginning from the all~liar text 'who ~ha l1 explain his geltcration?', he continucs:
'Bm if anyollc ventures to go funher and compare w hat is totally inconceivable with
visible and corporeal examples, perhaps he n~ght say rhat the Son came foith from the
unoriginate nature and ineffable subs tance of the Father (IK Til~ TOO 'TTerrpos c:IyEV~TOV
'l'VCTl!WS Ka\ T1jS iiUoK'l'POIITO\l avolas) like some fragrance and ray of light .. .,' v. I , 18;
but he almost immediately points out ,the limitations of all such metaphors, and oace
again associates the pluase t~ ovo-Ias with the notion of change alld division: eVDe yap
~~ ovo-Ias TfjS &yevf)Tov lIerra TI 'TTaeOS i\ Slcxlpealv oVo-lwllevOi. oVSE yap avapxoos
ovvVq>O"T'1KE'V T~ mrrp l etc., ibid., 201. It must be said that Eusebius looks on the phrase
'from the substance' with lllarked disfavour, even though he does not reject it consistently,
like his n:u)lesake ofNicomedia; so that his reluctant acceptance of it at Nicaea has some
support in what he had previously written.28
Ellsebills prefers to limit himself to the Ex 'ToO TICXTp6)J of the Father',
which he proposes. On the other hand he does not want to accept that
the Son is 'created'. Before and after Nicaea he completely avoids the
homoo.tsion, although he too has subscribed to it. According to him the
Son does not have the same substance as the Father, although he is 'begot-
ten'. The activity of the Father in bI;inging him forth is a <pvelv (ET II, r 4),
'T1'pO~6:AAsIV (l, 8), a-rroTIKTElV (I, 10) and especially a yevvav. KTI3EIV,
found. create, can indeed be used of founding a city, but not of the action
of a father, whether in the hnman or in the divine sphe e.2~ It is a mattet of
25 DE V, 1, 25: Heikel, 21426-31; c HE I, 2, 2: Schwartz I, 10. In both passages Eusebius refers to
M:!.tt. II. 27. cr. J. SirinclJ,j, Let Viles hiS1oriques. 278.
2! Euscbins to his community: Opit'Z, AW Ill, 1, 2 . document 2.2, 7. p. 44.
27 Dl; V,:I , 9-10: Heike! 211311-.212 1. G. C. Stead ptese~s furdler P~SS{\gcs in TrS 24, 1'973, 91.
28 G. C. Ste:1d" op. cit.; 'BT 1. u : K'1o,termllnn-HIlWCl1, 721Hl, should especially be noted [or the
period n[tcr Nicaca.. It develops n negative theology in respect of the eme,rgel1cc ofthe Sou.
1$ IT I, 10 : lUosterlllRllll-Ramcll, 6811-11. H e interprets the kri<feill ofPwv. S. 22., the o;:hier passage
of the Ar!.n.ns. ill terms of 3D 'appoimment' to n ile. Cf. ET 1II, 2.: KlO~1:erl1lllllIl-Hnnscll, 14oij~. Sec)
index. 219. Fm Provo 8. u iD; the preh~tory and I ~is tory o~ ~ri:1.n.ism see M. ~imonetti, ~tHlf! ,s.IIII'
An'auel{lIlo, Rom o. 1965, 9-87; Studl sull'lIltc1Jlrctli2Jonc p:1trl5tICIl c\j Provo 8.22 . For Euscblu!, Ib id.,
48-56: A. Weber, APXH, 127-31.

'being begotten of the Father, notfrom the Father (EK TOO rrerrp6s, not an-o
TOO Tr<:xTp6s)' as the Arians assume,30
The Son does not have divinity in his own right (1516KTilTOV); it is
not without beginning and without begetting in him, but it docs not
come from anywhere outside the Father. Consequently it comes through
participation in the nature of the Father, which bubbles over him as from
a fountain and fills him.ll In tills way, Eusebius believes that he has
safeguarded the interests of a strict monotheism:
There is only a single God, Father of the one perfect and only-begotten Son and not of
several gods and sons, as one may assume only one substance oflight which brings forth
from itself the perfect ray,32
Thus determining Eusebius' position in respect of the begetting of the
Son and the Logos doctrine in general, and its relationship to Origen,
Arius and Nicaea, is something of a theological jig-saw puzzle:
(r) With Origen and Nicaea he assumes a 'begetting' of the Son, but
not a 'begettingfrom the sl/bstllnce', because he sees this to involve a division
of the divine nature, With Origen, and above all against Marcellus of
Ancyra, he assigns the Son his own hypostasis (post-Nicene theology later
takes over this terminology, but understands it differently) , To preserve
this 'hypostasis' of the Son, he believes that he must reject the /zomoollsios.
In order to avoid all difficulties, he says that the Son is (begotten) 'of the
(2) He docs not follow Origen and Nicaea in assuming an 'eternal
begetting',34 Just as the Godhead in the Son himself is diminished, so too
the pre-temporality of the procession of the Son is not the 'eterruty' of
the Father. The begetting is not an act without beginning; it is therefore
30 BT I, II: Klostcrmann-HlIl1Sen, 70 11 - lJ : (the church) ov8~va Il!v 6]o.i\O\l Ta,V YWI1Ta,v Ct\layopEvEIV
OEO\l a~ l oT, ~6"o\l 6~ TOOTov 018iw 6.6", 51' 1161'01' 6 'IT<XT1lP t~ lctv'roil tytWQ.... TIlls begetting
[~kcs place from the Cf. ET II, 6: Klostermann-Hansell, 103 13 -.: 1I0vaS 61 cZ>\I a81alpETOS 6
Seos TOV lJo\loy.v~ Q\rTOO viol' t~ lavTOO tytwa:.... The Arialls, on [he other hand: (a) .Busebius
Nicomcd., Ep. ad Pallllll. Tyr. np. (c. 320M: Opitz, AW III, I, I, docwncnt 8, p. 161-3: , . &i\i\'(v
I-\EV'fO aytVVI'ITOV, tv St TO \I1T'aVTOO ~l'Ia1i;s Kal OUK lK Tiis ova las Q\rToil yeyov6s . . . (b) The
conCession of filith of Ariu5 to Alexander of Alexandria (c. ]20): 0i?itz, AW IU, I, I, dOculllellt 6,
p. 13 8- 10 : , , , 6 Bt vlos axp6vws yevvTleels urro TOO rrOTpos Kal rrpo a:lwvwv KTla6els Kal 6ellEAlw6els OVK
i'jv rrpO TOO yevvTl6ilvai aAA' axp6vws 'lTpO TTClVTWV YEvvTleels, 1l6vos urrO TOO nOTpos urrEaTTl.
II ET I, z: Klostermanll-Hansell, 63 21 - 6 : Ko6'f)v TO rrA,;pWIlO Tils rrOTplKils 6e6TI1TOS Kol olhov vlo"
6eov UTTEOT,;aOTO, OUK IB16KTTlTOV Kol TOO rrOTpos a<pwplalltvTlV ouS'avopx6v TIVO Kol aytVVTlTOV ouB~
aAAo6/v rr06ev ~EVTlV Kol TOO TIOTPOS aAAOTplav ~<peAK6\levov 6e6TTlTO, ~~ OUTils Bt Tils mnplKils
lleTovalos waTTEp arrO rrTlyi]s ~rr'OUTov 1TpoxeolltvTlS 1TATlPoullevov. For Eusebius' views 011 the birth of
the Son see A, Weber, APXH, 49-s].
32 DE IV, 3, l-Z: Helke!, tj Zl;H . Eusebius has two comparisons for the emergellce of the Son:
(I) ray/light: (2) anointing oil/fragrance. Cf. A. Weber, op. cit., 49-51.
33 Cf. ET I, 10: Klostermann-Hansen, 68-9. Cf. M, Weis, Die StellulIg des Busebius VOII Caesarea,
34 Cf. Origen, De prllle, ill, 5, 3 i I, 2, 2: GCS V, 29 11 -30 2 : Propler qllod liDS sclnp~r dCIIII' patrem
"ovimlls UlllgCllitijilil suI, t.~ ipso g"idell/llatl fI 1"0(1 cst ab ipso tra/lrlll;s, sillt 11/10 I<WICII ill/rio. 11 011 soilim
to. qllod nliq,lIbri.1 telllpoflllll spa/lIS dlsrlllglli potcst, mi lle iIIo qultlclII, qllod soll1 apud selllel Ipsnm mells
illtrrel'l solet et Itlldo, lit itll rilxcrim, ',Iulltcw IItque 111111110 COIl.lp/CMi. E;.:tra Ollliit ergo quod vel did vel
illtelleg/ porest illitium gelleratam esse credeudum est sapielltiam,

also a single act, whereas according to Origen it happens 'timelessly for

(3) As A. von Harnack rightly sees,3/i Origen regards the act of divine
begetting as all act which is inwardly necessary to the nature of the God-
head. Eusebius denies tllls necessity and regards the begetting as all act of
the Father which is free in every re peet)? But this makes the existence of
the second hypostasis derendent on the decision of the first. This depend-
ence heightens Eusebius subordinationism. even more than the assump-
tion of a diminished Godhead or a weakened eternity of the Logos. At
this point he is only a step away from Arianism.
(4) What does decisively separate him from Arius is his denial that the
Logos or the Son is created from nothing (~~ OVK c>vrc. W).38. He sees
clearly that Arian 'monotheism' Is incompatible with the church:
3S Origen, Hom. il/Jerem. IX, 4: Klostermann-Hansen, 70 17 - ZS : TO O:lTCxvycxa~cx Ti'jS 56~T1S ouXI &11'CXe
yEytvvT1Tal Kcxl OUXI YEvvCiTal' O:AA~ oaov laTlv TO CPWS 11'01T1T1KllV TOO O:11'cxuy6:a~cxTos 111'1 ToaoOTov
YEvvc'iTCXl 0 ac.;mlP ':111'0 TOO 11'aTp6s. For Illlliebius. on th., other hand, according to R. Farina, L'Impero
e l'Imperalore, 39: 'L'eternit1t duuqne dcllog05 11011 i: la ste!SfI etemita del Padre: questo ha l'eternita
in senso proprio, il Logos, come yev6~EVOV, I'lta dCriV3t~:
)~ A. vou H..1IIInck, Lellrblld, der DlIgl/lc/lgcscl,lc/,re I, Ttlbingctl 19H5, 672, witlt reference to a
fragment from Origell's COillI/lf!ntnry- on Hebrews.
J7 DE [V, 3, 7: Heike1 ISJ I2- 1&: Kal m'rA lv 1') ~~v aVy~ ou lima 11'pocxlpealv ,.00 'I'''>TO~ lKMj.llTEl,
KaTO: Tl 5e Tij, ova-las awi3ei3'1KOs aX~PlaTOV, 0 51 vIas KaTa yvcbllT1v ~cxl 11'po<xlpEalV elKwv V11'~aTl"\
Toii 11'aTp6,. ~ovllT1ael, yap 6 9EOs ylyovev vloO 11'<XTl\p. Kcxi cp(;)s 5Elmpov Kern" .".6:vra ~cruTq,
O:cpc.>j.loc.>J.1lvov Cimc,n'jaCITo. Cf. A. Weber. APXH , S3: 'Thus God becomes f-ather through Ius counsel
and tllwlIgh hi, !IY" llm;s, i.e. througll his will, nnd not vi lIalllrar, like the rny from the light ~lld the
frngrnnce from the oil.' Nevertheless, the Son is not a creature and is 'in all things like' the Father.
Ell5cbi115 is resolutely concerned to preserve the jJfcdominant plnce of the Son: Iv M yap lIovCjl Til>
1I0voywet Ctu-roO /\6yCjl 1') TOO nmpos 611016TT15 aW3ETcxl. tuo Kcxl elKwv Xp'l~CXTI3.1 OeoO, Kal, fl&6s flv
/\6yos, c:.s Iv au,.ijl II~V crw3eaOcxl ~6vCjl -rltv Toil nCXTpOS 6J.101c.>o'lV, oinlhl 51 Ked Iv ToT, 11'01lA01, Oeols
(CP, in Ps. tiS. !O ! PG 13 , 103613). Cf. DE V, I, 21: Hcikel, 1 13J~: aVTOovcrl\l 'l'C\l )1crrpl6.'I'0IlOIOVIIEVOS
and frequently. All ilJvcstig~ tion "{ould h av~ to be ma,cle into the question how fal the later scmi-
Atims g,o back to Eu~cbius with their 611010S Kcrra 11'<Wrcx. Cf. J. GUrtlmenlS, Die /lOlIIorrsimlisc/lc
/'nrlei bis ZIIIII TOIle de.f KOII.5IQlllills. EIII Beilmg z. Gcsr/lic/rle des ar;lIllischcII Srr~iles ill r/Oll Jallrell J56-61,
Leipzig 1900, 8-35, esp. 18f. (rcJIltionships botWceJl Buscbius. and his follower Acacill.l); 19-11
(E uscbi u, of Emcsa); 21-4 (Cyri.! of Jerusalem).
)1 Ne:venhe-less EllScbius was from time to time ill d:mgtr of going over into Arinll tcaching, G.
Dardy sums up the positIon in this way in RHE So, 1955, Of.: 'O n sait par contre qu'.Eusebc, malgrc!
sa prudellce, dut etre l'un des premiers a se d6dllrcl' cn f~vellr des idecs nouvelles (d 'Arius). Une
Icttre adresscc parJui il l'un de s(.~ collcgucs, Euphration de Ba.lnn~e, declare que Ie PhI: cst antc.ticur
au Plls et lui est aussi superieur. Ulle IcCt:Cc d'Atius.a Eusebe de Nicoll1~d ie signru.e Pll.Cmi scs partisans,
qui uient Ia coexistence ctemelle du Pere et du Fil$, Euscbe de Ccsarcc, heodotc de L'Iodic6e,
Paulin de Tyr, Athanase d'Arutznrbe, Gregoire de Beryte, Aetius de Lyddn. Une autre lettre CfJCore,
d'Euscbc de Ctsarec: II Alexandre d'Alexanilria, j115tifie ceux qu'on 3causc It tort d'avoir ensdgne qlte
Ie Pils a ct6 fait de ne:mt comme toutesles nutres choses fef. Opitz, AW 111, I, I, document 7: AI\'!Xamler
is ~ccusing Arius and his companions WS Af)'OV'Tc.>V ~ITI 6 vies fK TOO J.11') 6VTOS yAyovEV WS S[S TWV
".6:"rrrc.>v (L4. sf.). Here Eusebius rc[crs to document 6, Arius' confession of faith.] Euscbe de Nicomeclie,
~crivnnt~ Paulin de Tyr, justifie E115cbe de C6aree des accusatiOIlS portee! contre lui [Opitz, ibid.,
doctll,ncnt 8]. Un synode de Pal.cstine mendonn~ une deputation cnvoyee par ~riU!!I. PauH? de Tyr,
Ii Ell~ebe de Ccsaree, a I?~trophile de Scythopoits, pOur leur demander d'orgaluscr des rcuruollS e,ll sa
faveur [Opitz, ibid., docllIu(!nt 101. EllfUl le concilc d'A.U'ioehc, rClirti que1que ,tcl11ps nvant Ie conelle
do Niece declare eXCOlllOlurtics Thcodote de Laodicec, Narcisse de N cronias et Ewebe de Cesaree
(Opitl, Ibid., documen! 18 Jot IlOUS savons qu'il a existe une ICttrc addressee p~r Nll.Ccis$c de Ncronias
11 Cluestus, futur cveque de Nic~e, Euphroniw, pretre de Ce.sar6e, et E\ls~be de C~sa.rcc, POUt Jes
Rvcrtir <Iu'OssillS l'avnit interrog~ $W:: la roi cl'Euse,bc' [, AW m, 1, 2, dOGument 19'1. For the
Synod o[ Antioch, according to Opitzlleld in the first weeks of tile yoar 315. see Kelly. Early Cllrisliall
ereetls, 20S-n, with reference to the history of the investigation of this synod; most recent and
cartful criticism of these results in D. L. Holl3Jld, 'Die Synode VOtl Antiochicll (324/325) ulld ihre

Those who assume two hypostases, the one uncreated, the other created from nothing,
indeed establish 'one God'. But for them the Son is neither the only-begotten, nor the
Lord, nor God, as he no longer partakes of the divinity of the Father in any way, but is
thrown together with the rcst of creatioll, illsotar as i.t exists (having been created) from
nothing. But this is not what the c1wrch bdievcs}g
(5) Eusebius' acknowledgment of the hypo tasis of the Son, who is
begotten of the Father and distinct from him (a Jegacy of Origen), rightly
separates him fi:om Marcellus and the latter's wlderstanding of'mono-
theism'. But his understanding of the hypostasis of the Son as being lower
or diminished in relationship to the Father in fact amounts to a surrender
of true monotheism. there was no possibility of an intermediate solution
between Arius and Nkaea. Eusebius never recognized this.
(6) In common with Nicaea, he never saw the assumption of a Son
begotten of thePathet" (i.e. not created), and therefore clearly on the side
of God rather than creation, to be a danger to 'monotheism'. But he
differs from the Council in his hesitation over the hOl1lootlsios, which grows
increasingly stwng; in his refusal to name the Son 'true God of true God',
a poim at which he follows Origcu ;,10 in his assumption of a less than
eternal existence of the Son and a begetting which is dependent on the
freedom of the Father; and in his fear of the Council's formula 'from the
substance of the Father', as he sees here a division of this substance. Thus
Eusebius is farther from the Niccne creed than Origcn.
As a result, Eusebius increased the confusions of the Logos doctrine
before Nicaea rather than diminished them. Because he could not accept
the theology of Nicaea and remained between all fronts-between Sabel-
lius, Origen, Arius, Nicaea and Marcellus- he could not excrcise any
influence within theology pI:Oper, but was resu'icted to the realm of
political theology. Before we go into that, however, we ll1tlSt present a
brief account of EllSebius' doctrine of the incarnation.
(b) The incarnate Logos
What significance can the incarnation of the Son have in view of the
Dcdcutung fUr Eusebiu$ von C<lcsnrc:I und das KOIuil von Nizan', ZKG 8r, 1970, 163-81. Holland
thinks thnr there W3'$ not such :I difference between the theology ofEuscbills and the tcaching of this
synod that 3n excomU1ullic;adoll of Euscbius would h,3 VC been iruticutcd, This coincides with our
conc1usiolU here. Nevertheless, the c105c contact afEwcbiLl s wich the Ari:lll5 Ul,'y havc becn the
motive fi)r tilt 'prec;lutioullry excommunication' (Kelly). J olland supposes tltat rhe name Qn~uscbius
was inserted Inler. Eu~ebius {llnintllined conrncnvich tile 1c.1ding grollps of Ariana evell after Nicaen,
but without adopting tbeir teaching. We shall have co recurn to lhi$ beh~viOllr and che mocives far
jt (cf. below onJ .-M. Samtcrrc). Mantf:1ucon.rcgards Eusebius as a true Arlan in tbe PmC"limilltlria ill
Elisahii COIIIJlleH'Iarla III Psallllos, cap. VI: PG 2.3, 2.8-48; here there nre nuUlerous pnssagcs on the
suhordinationism of Eusehius.
39 ET I, 10: Klostermann-Hansell, 69 6- 11 Cf. 1.9: 67-8; III, 2: I40~-I4II4, a passage which is
already introduced by Socrates. HE II, 21 (Hussey, I, 237-9), to demonstrate the orthodoxy of
~o C Origcn, COI/IIII. III 10. IT, 3: PrauschCll, 55 9 - 1' . Buschiu!. Leiter ' 0 EI IJlhrnt1oll, is very
illuminating; Opitz, AW III, 'I, I, p. s. no. 3 (document 3), also ET I, 10: KlostermAnn-Hansen,
68/4- 16; C hrist is indeed 'true SOD', but not 'uue God', he is only 'God'. cr. below on lhe interpre-
tation of the Niccne creed. See (mther E'r II, 7, J4 (106 l 0, II8 8); I , 9 (68 11); DE V, 1 (21011 ).

stress on the mediatory function of the Logos in cosmology, revelation

and teaching? In the HE and in practice in all the works ofEusebius, tne
incarnation is introduced as the supreme instance among the theophanies
of the Logos.41 But was it really necessary in his theology? Eusebius gives
the following reasons for the incarnation of the Son of God in the Theo-
phal1eia, which bas been preserved in Syriac:
But as it is c1c.'l( that there was by no means one, but were many reasons why the
Redeemer caused all his theophanics among men. it is necessary also to say briefly after
thcsc (things) why he needed a human vessel and emctcd into converse among men.
How else could the divine ouO'lcx, hidden, invisible and intangible. the bodiless and
incorporeal understanding. thc Logos of God, display itSelf to corporeal men, who were
sunk in the depths f evil, who were collling il~to being and seeking God 011 earth? There
was no other way in which they could or would see the Creator or the creation of the
universe and his master wodcman. It had to be in human composition and forUl, ill a way
which was madc-1010wn to us as by an interpreter. How otherwise could bodily eyes see
the incorporeality of God? How otherwise could the mortal nature discover thc hidden,
the invisible, him whom it had u t recognacd from a myriad works? So for this reason
he needed a mortal mstrumcllt and an appr priatc expedient for converse among mcn,
because this was agreeable to them. For it is said that nlllove that which L! like them. 42

The law of adaptation to corporeal men requires the-incarnation as the

last of the ways taken by the Logos which manifests itself in theophanies.
In visible form Christ could become the teacher of knowledge of God
and tbe victor over death and the devil in a special way.43 In the incarnate
Christ there is a new beginning of his Lordship, and the direct guidance
of men by the Logos is resumed. It is in accord with the doctrine of the
ogos mediator that the incarnate Christ is regarded as instrument, iIlter-
preter, image, vehicle of the indwelling Logos.44 The body is t.he clothing.
the temple, the abode of the Logos. So much is the Logos the decisive
dement in the total reality of the inc.trnate Christ that Eusebills is taken
a considerable distance from Origen's picture. The anima mediatrix
between Logos and sarx has di~appcarc l. Eusebius cannot use any human
s ul in his Christ. Here we come across the flrst clear trace of a proper
Logos-sane christology in the fourth century. The cwef passages for this
doctrine do in fact come from the late works. 4S But in view of the C011-
servatism of Eusebius (which is still to be differentiated), an inference to
the pre-Niccne period is permissible. 46 Even there, however, we come
41 For the following see R. Farina, L'[mpero e I'[mperatore, ch. III: 'Il Cristo', 75-106; H. Berkhof,
Die Tlicologie des Eusebills von Caesarea, 119-26; also in the excellent index by J. A. Heikel in Eusebius-
Werke VI. 531-5.
4a TS 111. 3 : Grcsslltttnn. 141. 7- 15 ; It. r":l.rin:t, op. cit., 79. n. 17.
OJ cr X n, I : PC 23. 1184CD.
~. 1-1. J3crkhof, op. cit. UO, n . 1-3. where numerous in:St.:lnce& are given.
45 Chief t('xn :Ire: ET I. 20: K lostcrlT1~nn-Hnnscll, 87 ' ' - 89 5, which i~ here anal yscd ill marc detail;
1Il. 10: 161JQ - 10 ; n. 25: 136'2-) ; CM n. 2.: 43"- 1.
46 Thus [t Pari!:la. op. cit. 80. 85 , speaks quitenatur.t1lyofthis Logos-sarlC chtistology ofEuscbius.
3S do A. ni~c1mair. op. cit . 13. 17. 18; H. Dcrkhof. op. cit.. llO: H. de RiedlUattcn, op. cit . 7S- 81.
He also explains [he texts which npp3Icntly speak-ofa soul ofClu;ist. Cf. ~lso A. Weber. APXH,18.

across further signs which point in the same direction, above all the
interpretation of the death of Jesus.
The Logos~sarx framework is au obvious choice lor Euscbius to make
in interp eting thc person ofJesus, because he is concerned to achieve the
greatest possible immediacy in the efEcacy of the Logos among men and
in mankind as a whole. To include a human, created reason bere in the
actions of the revealing and teaching of the Logos would be an intolerable
weakening of the basic notion held by Euscbius. He builds fWldamentally
on the presence of the LOg0s~Sou in the sarx, and indeed on his immediate-
ly tangible presence and efficacy. Jesus' body is completely illumined and
divinized by the Logos:47
Of course, there would be nothing to prevent liS saying cllllt they too (mire and loam,
etc.) arc illuminated by the splendour of the light (oEthe SUll) and tht light is not obscured,
nor is the SUll made impure, by being mixed with matter, although this would not be
alicll to the nature of the mattcr. But the Logos of God, without VA'll and without matter,
which is life itsetE and the intdljgentlight itself: all d13t it touches w:ith incorporeal divine
power Illust livc and be in rationalliglu. So too thc body which it touchcs is healed and
at the same ~il11e illuminated, and every illness, every grief and every slllfering dcparts;
whatever is deficient rcceives anabl'luciance. Therefore he spent his whole life in such a
way that he now showed his imagc (body) in suffering similar to LIS, and now revealed
dlc Logos God in deeds of power and marvellous works like those of God. Moreover,
hc foretold by prophecies what was to come, and displaycd the Logos of God, which
many cannot see, ill wonderful works, signs and wonders, and ill special powers and
further in divine doctrines, which havc been prepared to guide mcn's souls to the heavenly
city above, that they may hasten to the citizens there as brothers and kinsmcn, and come
to know their Father in heaven ... , so that they might make their journey from herc to
there easily and without hindrance, and might be ready to receive etcmallife with God,
the king of alJ, and light inexpressible and dle kingdom ofheavcll with the hosts of the
holy angels.
This text shows very well the whole tendency to a christology of
glorification which we found in Clement of Alexandria. In view of the
position of the LogQS ill Eusebius' picture of Christ, it is only comistent
that he should place in the foreground even in the incarnate Christ those
functions which are proper to the Logos qua Logos: Christ is Sophia
illcaOlate andis therefore a 'phHosopher' and the 'first of the philosophers',
the 'pllilosopher and God-fearer'. By virtue of this holiness which is
peculiar to the Logos (ay[wv &ytos), and by virtu.e of his wisdom and
piety, Christ is the teacher of all the pious and the model for aU the virtues.
Names like Christ 'the ljght' refer wholly to his Godhead, as it reveals
itself ill the human body. Therefore the Logos made flesh is the 'rational
light which shines through a mortal and corruptible body'.48 So this body
47 TS III, 39: Grcssmann 14423_14516; partly in R. Farina, 0p. cit., 85 69 , who also refers to DE IV,
13, 1-3,6--10: Heikel 1728-17118, 17210-17312.
48 Commeutary Oil Luke XXII, 20: PG 24, 568C: Ei'll 5' Cxv Kal aapKoo9E1s A6yos TOIOi::iToS, 'PWS
VOEpOV 51<); 9V'llTOO Kat vypoO ac:,IlCXTOS tKAall'l'CXV. For tills work see E. Schwartz, 'Eusebius', 588--9;
D. S. Wallace-Hadrill, 51.

is called a 'lamp', the 'rational light' itself, the 'light of the world', 'light
of the nations'.49 For that reason it can also be compared with the Sill'\, a
theme which could easily be taken up again in the political theology of

Although Eusebius predominantly interprets the coming of Christ in

terms of the fWlction of the Logos as revealer, other themes of soteriology
are not lacking. Thus we ind, with reference to Paul, statements that
Christ reconciled the Father through his death,5o by the sacrifice of his
body. T11e Logos, <\5 high priest, took this body from us, the flock as
'lamb and sheep', 111 order to offer it to the Father as the first-fruits of the
hwnan race. 51 The body of Christ suffered a martyr's death for our sins.52
We shall have to go into a special peculiarity of this soteriological act later,
but only wheu the structure ofEusebius' Logos-sarx Christ has been made
rather clearer.
Eusebius speaks most clearly of the relationship between Logos and
sarx in the controversies with Marcellus of Ancyra. In these he outlines
all the possible interpretations of til pi tUl;e of Christ which seem to him
to be either possible or il:llpossible in the light of his tradition. 53 Marcellus
took the idea of monotheism as seriously as Eusebius and Arius and the
rest of the tradition of the church, but in interpreting the relationship of
Father and Logos he took a diametrically opposed course to Eusebian
(and Arian) subordinationisrn. For him, the homoousios of Nicaea meant
that it was impossible to accept the Logos as a second hypostasis alongside
he Pather. He thus found it difficult to define the subject of the incarnation
and to assign it to the Logos gIla Logos. Over against this, Eusebius
ascribes the incarnation to the second hypostasis in God, which-as has
been shown-is divine, but subordinate to the Father. The incarnation
takes place when this hypostasis of the Son is sent into the sarx assumed
by the Virgin and dwells in it. Eusebius collects from scripture those
sayings of the incarnate Christ which demonstrate that the Father is truly
other, and those which he believes make Marcellus' tlllderstaucling of the
incarnation impossible. For example, whenJestls of Nazareth describes the
Father as teacher (c John 8. 28), the distinction between the (divine)
49 There is a lengthy soteriological text in DE X, prooem. and chs. 1-8. Heikel, 4451-49212.
SD For the propitiation of the Father: 445 12-13. IAEOV~EVOS TOV 'lTaTEpa. The death of Christ for our
sins: prooem.: 4461-2.
51 Sl\crilicc as high PJ'!cst: ibid., 446 2- 4: l6EI yap TOV a~VOV TOO 6eoO. ,.6v li'ITO TOO ~EY,O:AOV 6:pX1ep!OOS
&vall'1'P0eVT<X vmp TOO T/;;V Aom/;;v avyyevwv a~vwv Kal li'ITEp m!tu'lS Tiis Civ9pc.,ml.v'1S cXyv,'lS,
Overlay 'n,;) Oee;> 'lTpoaax1lijvcXI. It should be noted that the 'high priest' is the rogos ql/a Logos'. whereas
the lamb is the: h1l11lan sar;\(. cr. ibid., 445 11-13: ~Eya5 Te Kal al<vl05 apXIEpelis \imp Tiis .,.wv J,eVVnT(1,1I
mrol/'fCo)\I OV01Wo-eWS Tf "ctl c;rc.>TTJplas IEp<~evos Kat IIIEOv~evo~ .,.6~ 'lTCXTEpa. For :I closer c:fmirion
of tile priesthood of C hrist sec It F:trim., L'[mpero e /'[mperatort', 91f.; A. Orbe, La Ullci611 del Verbo
(Estudios Vnlentinianos II), Roma 1961, 543-58, 569-76 (Origcll, Eusebius).
S2 Sec DE X, praocl1l.: Hcikcl, 44520 - 1 ; DE X shows that the: dc.1th of Christ was prophesied.
53 Cf. ET I, 20: Klostermann-Hansen, 8712-89'.
teacher and the (divine) pupil is clarified. Marcellus' Logos, who is
thought to be identical in substance with the Father, could not describe
the Father as his teacher, even in his incarnation. He would declare
himself to be his own teacher. Nor, according to Marcellus, could the
Logos, who is inseparable from the Father (cXx,ooptO'TOS wv), 'be sent' into
the flesh (fureO'TaA6O:t). Another argument against Marcellus is even more
significant: if the incarnate Logos-thus Eusebius-were not a true
counterpart (hepos) of the Father, he could not prove himself morally
before the Father, i.e. do what was well-pleasing to the Father. 54 This
comment, which is repeated soon afterwards,5s is important for Eusebius'
W1derstanding both of the person of Christ and of its so teriological actions.
The Logos-Son, dwelling in the flesh and thought of in subordinationist
terms, lives in our midst before the Father and achieves the acts of obedi-
ence which are decisive for our salvation. Marcellus cannot indicate any
instrument by which this obedience is achieved. Eusebius can. However,
it is no human instrument, but the Logos indwelling the flesh qua Logos.
This is even the case when Eusebius stresses the voluntariness of the death
of Jesus. Its seat is this Logos, or the Son sent into the flesh, and not a
human soul :56
He suffered a. violont end, but volurrtarily hantled over his body to his persecutors as
aJl that was his OWIl the Logos freely sepa.rl'\.ted himself from the body (O:VTO; 6:'i"t~()
'T1')1I It< TOO crt:l~<X'T05 c\:lIa:.r.c:"P11crlll rnOIiTO). On the third day he took the body back to
himself, he who had formerly willingly separated himself from it (6 1Tplll UYO:Xc.Jp~cra5

Thus the resurrection is like a new assumption of the flesh, a new

incarnation (Kcxl 5e(Kvvcrlv ye lTai\tv CXliTos eavTov evcro:pKoV, EVcrOO~OV,
MOV EKeivov oIos Ko:l TO lTplv i'iv). In this new assumption of the body,
the transfiguration of the risen Christ can be overlooked. 5 7 Indeed, in
essence it is already present at the beginning.
That the divine Logos is the organ of the moral proving of the incarnate
Christ is also clear from another consjderation: because the divine Logos
is the instrWnent of free decision, Eusebius does not face the problem that
S4 ET I, 20: ibid., 87 18 : 1TWS Se ~v Kal Talhov ~1T(IPX(()V (numerical and specific identity of the Logos
with the Father according to Marcellus) Til> 6eil> Tel apeaTCx 1TpaTTelV. Cf. John 8. 29.
5S Ibid., 8813-14.
56 DE III, 4, 27--9: Heikel, 11429-115 9: ~Ialov ~1T~~elv Te?levT~v, a?l?l' wS a~To ~6vov ~KOOV
TrapeSi60v Tois tTrl~ov?levoval TO aw~a . ... In the passages of the psalm commentary that has already
been mentioned, in Ps. XCII: PG 23, II84CD, the incarnation is described as the assumption of the
body as a 'mol't~1 insrrumcnt' by the Logos of God, 'who is the life itself', in order to be able to hand
it over to dcath as :l dcp:l.OlUtmtion of its own nature and then to raise it to life again. In this way the
rule of de~th :md the tyrann y or the devil, who has ruled over men by means of demons, is destroyed.
In the same way, the divine life also comes to reign in man.
S7 But it is mentioned in DE III, 2, 24: Heikel, I0021 f .: els T'i)V 6e6T11Ta ~eTa~oM. Cf. H. de
Riedmatten, op. cit., on this whole complex of problems: 'Euscbe songe si peu 11 line humanite
integrale pour Ie Christ qu'i! eprouve Ie besoin de justifier la resurrection et surtout l'immortalite de
son corps.' Cf. LC xv: Heikel, 244-6: TS III, 42-4,57: Gressmann 148*-9"', I53f"'.Eusebiusrepeats
the ideas of the DE. The whole of the third book ofTS develops this soteriology.

it could be 'mutable', i.e. morally fallible. Thus in contrast to Arius, as

we shall see, the words "P1TTOS or ChpETrTOS do not appear in his work in
connection with the (incarnate) LogoS.S8 The problem of the immutability
of the divine nature of the spirit or tlle mutability of created spiritual nature
is only discussed briefly where the origin of demons or their fall is ex-
plainecl. If the demons had to he understood as the issue of a higher nature,
then they cOllld not have 'tUen from their l1ative lot or statusYiI
The essential basis of Eusebius' doctrine of the incarnation is thus that
th~ LogOS-SOll, understood in subordillationist terms, dwells in the flesh,
taken from the Virgin, in the place of a human soul. According to Euse-
bius, Marcellus of Ancyra, on the other hand, cannot explain the incarna-
tion at all. For in his case it would be necessary to assume that the Logos,
of one substance and identical with the Father, dwelt in the flesh. But this
leads to a fourfold dilemma :60
(r) Marcellus must allow that the Father himself dwells in the flesh. Ifhe
is unwilling to do tills, there remain:
(2) that the Son has 3n independent subsistence and works in Ule flesh
(which is the teaching ofEusebius), or
(3) that a human soul is to be assumed in Christ. And if (2) and (3) are
impossible for Marcellus, then
(4) the flesh of Christ must be animated automatically, as it would be
without either soul Of reason (a:~I'UXOI.I ovO'o:v Ked a7loyov).
The first solution, Eusebius stresses, means that the Father begets him-
self, suffers in the flesh Jlimself (i.e. panipassianism) and takes all human
characteristics on himsel This would be SabellianisUl, which the chufch
has condemned. 10 that case, according to Eusebius, it is necessary to
assume a subject or hypostasis which is different from the Father, viz. the
SOIl, to WllOlll the incarnation and the passion can be ascribed. This
Logos-hypostasis dwells in the flesh. Thus this is Eusebius' conception of
the incarnatiOl1. GJ Bnt if Marcellus will not allow this 'SOIl' any subsistence,
there remains only the third expedient which, like the first, leads to heresy:
he must assume that Christ is a 'mere man' (1jI1AOS (XvOpUYTrOs), who
consists of soul and body and is in no way different from human nature in
general !62 But this too is rejected by the church's dogma. It is the doctrine
S8 Cf. the indices in GCS, Eusebius-Werke.
59 PE XIII, IS, 1-10, esp. 7: Mras II, 233 8- 13
6D ET 1,20: Klostermann-Hansen, 8729-88 22 ; c ET 11,6,4: 16423 - 6 Marcellus has only the choice
between SabeIlius and Paul of Sam os at a (and his Judaism). C ET I, I; j; 14: 63 11 - 13 ; 6419- 2D ; 7410- 13,
23-4; II, 4: 10234 - 6
'ET 1 .20: Klostermann-Hansen, SS2-4: e'l 6~ TO~ 'If<rTrpa i\tYEIV 0\1 OSllrrov lvexvep<mr~aexvTCt, Tev
v'16v OIJoi\oytlv avaYK11 llexGIlTEUO\J!vovs TOVTO 610a1l'KOvTI .
Cf. eM II, 3: KJostcnnaun-Hn.usen, 496-.: if Marcellus :t1Jows Col. I . I S (Christ the imBge of tbe
invisible God) to be 5~id of the fll'Sh of C hrist, the B:esh of all mc.l and the prosopa o[thcbody would
alsoJuve to be culled ' image' of God. 'so that there would not be anything extrnordill.try about the
Redeemer'. BT 1,2.0 : lGostC;[IDaJUI-Haruen, &8 4 -7: el 6t- "COVTOV apvo1TO MapKEi\i\oS VTEd"Taval, &lpa
of the Ebionites and recently of Paul of Samosata, wnose associates are
called Paulinians and have to suffer the punishment of the blasphemer.
All this shows what Eusebius thinks about the realitx of a human soul
in Christ. He does not need it and cannot need it, because in it he scents a
heretical christology. To adopt the fourth possible course, a flesh without
Logos and without soul in Christ, is ridiculous from the start. 63 Let us
once again allow Eusebius to give the answer to the decisive question in
his own words:
So who was this (Christ)? Either the Logos (who abides) in God, who according to
Sabellius is God (i.e. the Father) hlmself. or, as is s.'\id in true holiness, the living and
subsisting only-begotten 5011 of God. But ifhe (Marcellus) will say none of this, he must
necessarily assume a human soul (in Christ), and will be :\ mere mall: and our
irulOvating writer will no longer be a S:.beliian, but a Paulininn.64
Thus for Eusebius, Christ is:
(I) The Son dwelling in the flesh, distinct from the Father but begotten
of him and similar to him.
(2) By this unity of Logos-Son and sarx, Christ t.ranscends the usual,
universal human nature. Thus he is no 'mere man', but a naturally higher
being, as a synthesis of God-man. The stress on this tl'anscelldence once
again indicates that for Eusebius Christ is only Logos and sarx. In contrast
to Arius, Eusebius wishes to confess this Logos as God, But in fact he too
is in danger of making this Logos-sarx synthesis into a mythical being,
which hovers between divinity and the created world.
(3) The Logos dwelling in the sarx physically accomplishes the spiritual
acts by which he achieves God's good pleasure. It is h':. who is the moving
element in the sarx. All the significant soteriological 2.Cts which Eusebius
knows are to be derived from this Logos. They pertain to him not only
as subject, in the terms of the commul1icatio idJ:omattlm, but also as the
executive natural principle. In the flesh the Logos proves himself before
the Father and gains his good-pleasure. even in the voluntary acceptance
of death, i.e. in voluntarily separating himself from his body and taking
it up again. But because he is God, the Logos is not exposed to mutability
and sin (like angelic beings).
(4) Despite his katagogic Logos chris to logy, ther:, Eusebius also puts
forward an 'anagogic' cbristology in which Christ truly stands over against
the Father-but only as the Logos in the flesh, seen in subordllationist
terms. At any event, here-in the stress On his freedom-the Logos (in the

'l'IMv c5;VepCU1TOV mhov ~1TOT{eeO'eal lK a<blJaTO~ Kal <pVXli5 O'iiv"'WTa. t:ls 1J'161v Tjj5 KOIv fj5 avOp<b1TCUV
11laAaTTeiv cpuaeCU5. cr'AM Kat TOOTO TfI, E1<K'A'1O'{a~ 6:mM'ACXTat ('fo) 66YlJa. Thlls for Eusebius Chcist is
a synthesis of sarx and Logos (in place of:l soul), which represents :I pl\}'sicnl piu-s over ag:linst rrum
elsewhere on the level of nature.
63 ET r. 20: 889-11: TI S~ ouv 'AelmTal lleT~ To:VTCX i\ 1l'lv aaplla ~6vov elaaytl" 61xcx 1TavTO,
lvolKOV SIKT]V TWV 1Tapa ToI, 6awaTo1T010i, aVTollcrTcuv KIVOVIl~VT]V;
64 ET I, 20: 88 16 - 22

flesh) is ascribed his own initiative. 65 Nevertheless, this 'Christ' cannot be

allowed any real human obedience. The soteriological acts are pure acts of
the Logos qua Logos. The flesh is only passively involved)n this action.
(5) The evaluation of the human element in Eusebius' picture of Christ
is considerably hindered by fear of the doctrine that Christ is 'a mere
man'. His christology is developed in opposition to Paul of Samosata on
the one hand and Marcellus of Ancyra on the other. The former had the
greater influence. Only Eusebius' argumentation, and not his picture of
Christ, was influenced and extended by Marcellus of Ancyra. Paul of
Samosata aroused the anxiety that the Logos might be associated too
closely with the Besh. So he can also talk of indwellillg. 66 The Logos re-
mains at a superior level and at all inner distance from the flesh which he
animates. In the HE, Eusebius compares the divine e.lement in Christ with
the head and the human element in him with the feet of a body.6-7 In the
ET he stresses the difference in substance between the 'Son' and the 'body
which is assumed',68 which he names the 'Son of Man'. Nevertheless, one
cannot speak of two natures in Eusebius.69 N r,however, can one speak of
the ,II/:a l'hysis, which Apollinarius has at a later stage as the basis of his
christology, although an essential element of chis approach is present: the
Logos is the only ki-nelikoll of the sarx. H. Betkhof is right to speak of an
Apolliuarian and Nestorian trend ill the teaching of Eusebius,70 He also
~l J. Slrinell:l, Ul ImellrlslofiqllllS, 299, fmd! HE I, 1., 21 the only pnssagc ill whicb Eusebius ascribes
to me Logos qll/I Logos a dilfcrclj[ autonomous activity from that of the Father: iu view of the great of the ~1U1Illl\l- t':lce, '111. S.gesse de Diel.l, SlI premiere nee et sa premiere creature:, Je Verb.:
pree;'tista.m Ini-mllmc, par un exccs d.'amour pour les hOJlIDles, se manifeste aU)( 8m:-! infil-rieurs
tant6t pa.r )'appnrition d'anges. tantet directemcnt comme pou vair Ie fai.e unc puissance salvatricc
de Dicu'. In addition, however, attention should be paid to the idClL of 'proving tho Logos ill stair!
illc~mQlionIs, in that- he did what WllS wcll-ptc:iSing to [he P,,-cher lmd above al l voluntarily jFve up
his body as a sacrifice. According to Buscbius, tlils too is prut of the direct physical initiative of the
Logos, and not just by reason of tlte comliliw icntio ItlloIIICI(IHII.
66.ET I, 6, 7:Kl()steunann~H.nsen, 65" Iti , lD: I, 20: 93l-!rr. ; Logo~-indwelling and pneuma christol-
ogy arc here associated in an interesting way. To tile indwelling christology of Eusebius there also
belong the imponnut e-xpressi'ollS which H, 13c.rkhof, Th ~ologia deJ Eusebius, 120, has collected; organ,
vessel , rem.p le, dwelling, garmcnt, vcbicle. .
67 HE I, 2, 1; Schwartz I, 10 1.... ; KirsOp? Lake 1, II: 'Now this nature w~s twofold; on the one
hand. like me he.,d of the bod y, in thilt he 15 recognized as God, on the other comparable to the fect,
in that he put on for tile snke of our own salvation, man oflike passion.! with U.I. Therciol'c to IJlnke
our description ofwh:u follows complete we should st",u:t thc wllole lUlrrative concerning hiu} by the
most capital and dominalltpoitl~ of tile discU!lsion.'
68 ET I, 6: Klostermann-Hanseu, 65 7- 9 : a"h"h' oem 5 ave!"hT]<pEV aw~a TalJTeV ~v Te;; aVEI "hT]<p6TI vte;;
TOO 6EOO, OUTE aUTes 6 vtes TOO 6EOO Els Kat 6 aUTes &V vO~la6e1\l Te;; YEYEVVT]KOTI. In this context
Eusebius speaks oftlrree, or a 'first', a 'second', and a 'third'; namely of (I) God the Father, (2) the Son
proceeding from him, (3) Kat TplTOS 6 KaTCx aapKa vtes Cxv6pclmov, ov 51' t')~&S aVEI"hT]<pEV 6 utes TOO
6EOO (ibid., 65 4 - 7). By tllis 'Son of Man' he understands the sarx of Christ.
~9 The tranSl.,tioll of the passage cited above (in n. (7) from HE made: by R. Padna, T..' IlIIptFO t
"I'l/pDrtllorl' , 84, with 'dilc Salle Ie uature in Cristo' is prob~bl'Y too strong. 61TTOU 6'E OVTC~ TOO KC'IT'
aiJTOv Tp6lfOV is uot meant to be tccihnicalla.\lgl~,ge, but is merely mC~nt to stress the duality of the
modes ofbcing in Christ, But cf. u. 2. in Kirsopp L.1ke, EIISa~ill$; Ecclesiastical Hillory I, On HE I, I, S,
which, precedes the text cited above : 'oIKoyo~ta and aEolloyk! are scwj-r:echnica l temlS. T he OIKo~o~la
or "dispensation" with regard to Christ was the incarnation of the divine Logos; the 6Eo"hoyla was
the ascription of divinity to him. Hence this passage might almost be rendered freely as "the divine
and human natures of Christ, which pass man's understanding".'
70 H. Berkhof, Die Theologie des Eusebius von Caesarea, 120; 'All (the Fathers before the fifth
century) are agreed in rejecting the doctrine that Clrrist was a mere man ('VI"hOs /XV6pOOlfOS); the

differs from the Arians in his loosening of the ll11ity of Logos and sarx.
They require that the Logos should be affected qua Logos thwugh Ius
synthesis with the flesh, so as to be able to demonstrate his mutability and
creatureliness. However, mudl as Eusebius seems to be at One with the
Arians and Apollinarians ill his acceptance of the Logos-sarx framework,
he differs from them through Ius conception of the inner relatiol1s]up
between Logos and sarx, Above alL there is lacking that apparently on-
tological terminology which is to be found in the fragments ascribed to
the presbyter Malchlon from the trial of Paul of Samosata71 al~d thell in
Apollinarius and his foHowers (see below).
(c) The historical injlue/1ce of Eusebius
Once again, attention should be drawn to the distinction betwccn the
personal theology and the 'political' theology of the Bishop of Caesarea.
The latter will concem us again and again. The 'theological' Eusebius is of
shorter duration. His influence has still not been investigated adeqt1ate1y,
and it is perhaps considerably greater under the surface thau can be
demonstrated from direct quotations and kindred ideas. The following
points should be bome in lnind in assessing this theological significance.
(r) The intrinsic uncertainty ofEusebius' doctrines of the Logos and the
incarnation mC3llt that these could only exercise a limited influence. His
thought about the Logos and the incarnation, which, willie being ortho-
dox, was nevertheless dangerous at certain important points, inevitably
compelled a decision. The quicker this was made, the quicker the typical
(theological) Eusebius was ruled out of court.
(2) His theological influence was endangered by the fact that politically
he was too involved with the Arlan group of bishops centring on Eusebius
ofNicomedia. According to a recent hypothesis which still remains to be
church had discovered nnd condemned this here~y in adoptionism and. Snmosatcnism. Therefore the
wouritc course wns to limit Christ's humanity to his corporeality. At rhe same tillle the Logos WlS
not to be thought of Il$ being subjl:ct to the destiny ofllis body ( nod death). In that case, the
Godhclld would be done away with. The compulsioll was therefore tO:l sharp scpamtion betw een the
Logos and his body. So ill the same writings one can sec forerunners of both Apolliullrius Gil d
Ncstorius ... . TItis sharp separation is necessary for the history OfJCSllS to be given its due and :It the
sallie rime for the Logos to be elevated above tlOy suffering and deatiL Tht manhood wan'ifcstcd lts
nature in t he birth, suffCl'ing and death; the Godhead in birth from a viq~.ill, in the miracl es, in the
heavenly [caching, in the prophecies and in the resurrection . . . . 1')le diviue 3SSlIJl1 CS tbe hmnan in
such a way that it is uot changed and not evell :dfectod . The Logos is not bound to the body in the
same way as iS:I hUJl1!ln soul.' On p. 122 Bcrkbof refers to DE IV. 13, 6-7: Boike!, ~726-~~. Par the
controversy bctwCClt Euscbius and Paul of Samosata cE. H. de Ricdrnntton, Las n((es liu procu, 7t-3;
he cites the f01lowing texts: El' I, 20 (sec above); HE V, 28, I; EP In, 19 and [V, 22. (Guisford, :zr9 11
alld 205 10 - 14): BE vn, 27-30 (Scll\vanz I, 702-14: transbtion Kraft, sce n. 3 above, 346-51).
71 Compllre the fragmcllts which have been newly collected in H. de R iedmntten, Les ac/er liu
proGh-. 136-58, esp~ciil1y S., I4.3: 5., l4, 22.- 4, 33. 36. Tn view of the lc.Iationship betweon El15tbiu5
and the3ets of the trial ofPn ul ofS;unasau, the q~lcstionn.riscs: d idEU$cbius not find the Apollinaciall-
sounding terminology in the acts, or did he deJibc:ratoly p~ss over it bl:CllllSe he could not lISC it? In
view of hisl?ositivc3ttitudc to the Alexandrian tra~itio1'1 between Origcll' nnel him olle would be
in.clillCd to the former alternative. That would increase the sll$picion that the M3~chion fragnieuts
have only come down to us in a later revision.

discussed, he was even in danger of seeking a revision of the Nicene creed

with the aid of imperial authority. This necessarily meant that the sup-
porters of the Council had considerable reserve towards him. But because
he was the dominant writer of his time, even his opponents could not
escape his influence, as can be demonstrated in the case of Athanasius.
(3) One danger which lay in the background. and was perceived especi-
ally by the Eastern church of his time, ga've a special opportlmity to the
christology of Eusebius. or the direction which he was paramount in
demonstrating: this 'Was the generally prevailing fear of treating Christ
as a 'mere man' ('VIAOS av6pc..moS-), which was provoked by Paul of
Samosata. Even the Arians took the otheL side here.
(4) TJ:le celltLal point of Eusebius' immediate and more extel1ded influ-
ence, however, is probably the fact that the position opposed to Paulian-
ism CalL be described with some degree of clarity as a 'L gos-sarx christol-
ogy' (as a christology 'widlOut a soul in Christ') . Th:is can he clearly
demonstrated in his writings. As Eusebius preSents this christology, he
seems to have inherited it. But his doctrine of the Logos has intensified his
heritage. It is doubtful whether there was any serious discussion during
his lifetime 011 the matter, at least such as would have compelled him to
adopt a particular position. We shall have to consider the position of
Eustathius of Antiodl at a later stage. MarceUus of Ancyra-too obscure
as a theologian and too much l.U1der dle suspicion of Sabel1ianism-could
not manage to get the Bishop 0f Caesarea to reconsider his own we~k
points ; indeed, it was Marcellus who confIrmed him in Ius inadequate
views, in his subordinationist Logos doctrine and his Logos-sarx christol-
Qgy. Even a weak theologian, Eusohins. was enough to compromise a
still weaker Marcellus in certaillpoints. without himself being comprom-
(5) The only opponent who could take Eusebius further was Athanasius.
But at :first the much younger Alexandriall--even in the years when he
was 011 the opposite side in church politics-was more the pupil . Here we
come to a decisive point in the influence of Eusebius' chostology and
Logos doctrine. At this point, it is necessary to make a brief allusion to the
h.istory of scholarship and its contemporary state.
& early as 1913. T. Kehrhahn72 had demonstrated that Eusehius'
Thcopf1allein was a source for Athanasius' two apologies, Contra Gentes
and De In.carnatione. In 1935, H.-G. Opitz took this starting point further
and created a new basis for the d.iscussion of questions of authenticity and
date for Athanasius' two works.7J This also raised important questions
for the date ofE.usebius' works. Marie-Josephe Rondeau gives all exceUent
72 T. Kchrhalm, D e smlcli Athallasii quaefertur COlliril gCIII~S oratione. Berlin 1913.
7JH..-G. Opitz, UlllorSllch,lllgm zur OberliejerulIg dar &ltr[{tI'1l des Athatlasius (Arbeiten zur Kirchen-
gcschichte 23), Berlin and Leipzig 1935, 192-200. CCE. Gentz, RACI, 1950, 862; W. Schneernelcher,
RCG I, 1957, 1669-70.

survey of this history of scho1arship.74 The chief results are these: (a)
Opitz established numerous parallels between the Theophancia ofEusebius
and the De Incamatiolle of Atha:nasius, especially between T III, 57 (TG
9, 4; TS 153 25ff Gressmann) and ch. 22 of the short recension of DI,
which J. Lebon had djscovered. 15 (b) In his inaugural lecture as Lady
Margaret Professor of Divinity, Oxford, on 1 December 1944,76 F. L.
Cross retumed to this question of the literary relationship between
Euschius and Athanasins. As in his view a literary exchange of ideas
between the two men in and after the crisis of Nicaea was impossible,
since before Nicaea the dependence of the old and learned (bishop!)
Eusebius on the young and unknown Alexandrian deacon was im-
probable, F. L. Cross reversed the relationship: the young Athanasius
had come under the influence of the old Eusebius, on the occasion of a
journey oft'he Bishop ofCaesarea to Alexandria, probably in the year 31I.
Atballasius l1ad taken up the ideas of the famous man and thell repro-
duced them more dearly than Eusebius himsel Thus there was an influ-
euce from man to man which worked further in the two and expressed
itself on the one side in the Theophmuia and on the other in the CG and
DI, without it being necessary for literary relatiouships to be aSSllmed. In
the discussion of this lectm-e W. Telfer pointed to the youth of the
Alexandrian in the year FI.77 He cOJ~ecl-ured a conunOl1 dependence of
Atbanasius and Eusebius, particularly in view of the apoJogetic methods
usual at the time, specifically perhaps on the then director of the Didaskal-
eion, who cou ld lLwe been AdrilJas. H. Nordberg sought once again to
take the course pioneered by T. Kehrhalm (direct influence of the Theo-
p/umeia on CG and DI). To prove it possible, he dated CG-DI ill the year
362/).18 To that point the questiou of the relationship or the affinity be-
tween Ellsebius and Athanasius had beenlil1lited to the realm oapologetic.
The investigation of Marie-Josephe Rondeau led to new insights in that
it also included the realm of cxegesis. 79 Strikingly, it proved that Athan-
asius' Expositiones in Psalmos display 'a systematic, sometimes literal use'
7\ Marie-Josephc Rondeau, 'Une nouvelle preuve d'influence litteraire d'Eusebe de Cesaree sur
Ath~nase: I'interpretation des psaumes', RSR 56,1968,385-434; id., 'Le "Commentaire des Psaumes"
de Dlodore de Tarse I-III', RevHislRel 176, 1969, 5-33, 153-88; 177, 1970, 5-33; for Eusebius-
Athanasius : II, 173-7.
7$ a-G. Opi tz, op. cit., 195; J. Lebon, 'Pour tine edition critique des oeuvres de S. Athanase', RHE
21, 1925, S ~-30; cf. C. Kanru:ngicsser. I ltilnllaSI! (/'Alexmulric Slir 1'[lIcarnatioll du Verbe (SC 199),
Paris 1973 : Tl1tToductioll 21- 34, where rhe furth er discoveries on the short recension ofDI by Opitz,
Kirsopp Lake, Robert P. Casey and the Syriac tmrul:nioll (Lcbon; ed R. W. Thomson) are intro-
ducc;;d. An important comment on C3sey is to be found in M. Tetz, 'Athanasiana', VigC 9, 1955,
76 F.-L. Cross, The Study q{ S. AlhanasillS, Oxford 1945.
71 W. Telfer. JTS 47. 1946, 88- ,90.
78 H . Nordberg. Ar/rollnsills' Tracla/cs Call1ril Ge/1tes alld De lllcamafone. All nlfempl III rp(/nfillg
( dent. Soc. Fennica, Cormnentntiol1es hUlllall. liu. t. 28, 3), Helsinki 1961; id., 'A Reconsideration
of the Dlltc of S. Athanasius' Contrll Gentes and De Incarnatione', SludPat 3 (TU 78), Berlin 196],
262-6; id., Alhanasiana I, Helsinki 1962.
79 See n. 74 above.

of Eusebius' Commentaria il1 Psalmos. After investigating the question of

the state of the text of the two commentaries, the author indicates an
affi111ty in the so-called 'hypotheses'. At the beginning of each psahn there
is a 'hypothesis', 'c'est-a-dire une introduction foumlssaut bcievementle
theme du poeme, Ie p Ius souvent ell fouction de son Sltz in Leben. Or ces
hypotheses presenteut Me indeniablc parente avec les Comm. in ps.
d'Eusebe de Cesan!e.'80 In ills edition of Euscbius' IS Hypotheses, at the
begin,niug of his explanations of the psalms of ascent, G. Mercati had al-
ready drawn attentiOl1 to the similarity between these and the correspond-
ing Hypotheses of Athanasius,81 Of course Athanasius is much shorter-
although he takes over individual words. Some significant omlssions
which are particularly concerned with christology need to be investigated
in detail, as M,-J. Rondeau indicates.
The affinity be't ween ,the two psalm commentaries also extends to the
corpus of the explanations, sometimes even becoming an 'identite littcr-
ale' ,82 though this is certainly not servile. Only in a few cases is it impos-
sible to derive the exegesis of Athanasius from Eusebjus. 83 There is an
alternation between spectacular instances of Athanasius' dependence and
passages which M.-J. Rondeau describes as 'des recoupements au niveau
de l'interprctation, des coincidences verbales, parfois trop caracteristiques
pour rclever da hasard, mais limitces'.84 This leads to an assured result:
Les deux comU1cnmircs SOllt donc parents, d'une parente precise qui se noue ccrtainc-
ment au l1iveau des ~extes, car dire qu'ElIs~be et Athanase rcspiraiellt Ie m6me air du
temps, Oll ont pu avoir vcrs des entrcticllS dOllt lIs auraiellt cnsuite cOl1signc de part et
tfautre Ie fruit, ou se sont peut-ctre souvenus l.'UIl et l'alltfe du loimaill enseignement du
meme maitre, est tout 11 fait insufIisant devant I'exactitude de certaines correspondances',
Deux explications seulernem peuvellt rcndre compte de celle-ci: eU bien les deux com-
mentaires sont fi;eres, dependant d'une rn.eme source commune tcrite, qui ne peut etre
que l'exeg~e psalmique d'Origene; au bien leurs rapports sont ceux de pcre 11 fils, la
dependance ne pOLlvant t:tre que d'Athanase vis-a-vis d'Euscbe,puis<jlle Ie discours
80 M.-J, Rondeau, RSR 56, 1968, 394f. Cf. Rondeau-Kirchmeyer. art. 'Bus/:be', in; Dic/Spirit 4,
1961,1689--90 (im,portant fOl: the exclusion of interpolations). Euseb. ClIC!., CQlIl m~/lWio ill Psalmos:
PG 23 (PSS. I- US) (MontfRucon); PG 24, 9-76 (Pss. II9-50) (Pitra); fl":lgments J.-B, Pitra. Analectb
Sacra 3. Venetiae 1883, 365-520.
II G. Mercati, L'lIlllma parle pertJula atl COllmwnlarlo a'ElIseb,'o ai Salmi (Rendicontl del Real Istituto
Lombardo di SciCL1ZC e Lettcrc, SC[, 2., t. 31), Milano 1898, J036-45; repriru:ed ill id., Opcrt 1II{l1or{ II
(ST 77), Vaticano 15m. 58-66.
8' M.-J. Ronde~u , RSR 56, 1968. 398-409, with numerous examples; ibid., 399 chMllctcrizes the
way in whicli Athan.sius took it over asfolJows: ' . . . 1. conti:onmtion des COlrlmWr, ill PS, (= Buscb.)
or des Exp. {" ps. ( = Athnnas.) r6vUent tout un. dcgmd6 in$cnsiblc dCjluis ce.s plagitlts cn.ract6.ris~
'(rares) jusqu'lll'abscilce de ~orrc5pondancc ~'t a I. divcrgence d'inte rp"~ t1\!ioll, en pa~:mr par une
gall1D1C illlponnnte d'empnmts plus ou moins libremcot r.emanies, la sin,ilitude consismnt sou vent
en ce gu'un developpcme.nt tel que nous Ie lisous chez Buscbe cst subst.mticllement assume par
Athallltse, qui Ie condense en gard-ant ~a ct l~ Ie reperc de cerrarns mots cn.ract~risti<:Jucs Oll d'cxpressiolU
pnrticulierc1l1Cllt bien venues.. in rnaniotc d'un lecrcur q,u! preud d~~ notes.' Attention sl~o;lld now
be cal led to two further stud!!!,! on tJ1C place of the psalter III Athan:lSlus; M.-J. Rondeau, L Epttrc I!.
Marcellinn! snT les ps~umc:s" V(gC 2.", [968, 1715-<)7: H, J. Sieben, 'Athllna~illS Ubct dell Psalter.
Annl)'lc seines 13rlcf~s an MnrceJlinWl', T!J~oIPlril 48, 1973, 157--'7].
83 J.-M. Rondeau, RSR 56, 1968,401, where only Pss. 54-5 are in question; cf. 403-9; Ps. 140.
84 Ibid., 410-13 with examples.
continu, logiquemcnt artic111e de cc dernier prctait II cc qu'on en tirat des notes plus ou
moins resumee.s, tandis qU'Oll ne voit pas que la pOl1ssicre de glases allusives d'Athanase
pllt fournir II guelqu'uu d'autl'e Ie noyau de devcloEPcmellts qui coulent avec tant
d'abondance eC de facilicc. 85

This offers a new basis for a comparison between Athanasius and Euse-
bius. The relationship seems to point back co a common source for both,
to Origen. But the catcllac hardly offer any possibility of bringing the
three great men together. Only fragments of the explanation ofPs. 37 in
Orige11 and Eusebius give an unqualified possibility of investigating a
triangular relationship between Origen Eusebius and Athanasius. It can
be shown that while Eusebius is dependent on Origen for Ps. 37, the ele-
ments of trus explanation to be found in Athan3sius (with ideas taken over
and omitted) show that the latter cUd not make immediate use of Origen.
but ofEnsebius. How far this is true for further parts of the psalter or for
the whole of Athanasius' expositions must remain an open question. 86
In a short but comprehensive investigation, M.-J. Rondeau also goes
into the theo logical dependence or independence of Athanasius on
Eusebius. Only hi11ts may be given here, since the matter is so complex:
certain dependencies can be established in respect of christology, especially
as far as the vocabulary in the Expositiones in psaln'lOs and in CG and DI
is concerned. 81 Nevertheless, even in this early writing Athanasius is 110
blind copyist, but avoids two weaknesses or dangers in Eusebius' christol-
ogy: he leaves out anything that might smack of sLibordillrltiol1is/'I'I. 88
Furthermore, in interp 'eting the unity of God and man in Christ he
avoids those expressions which might seem to be 'Nestoriatl', but were
chosen by Eusebius above aU to ensure the transcendence of the Logos
over his sarx. 89 To the end Eusebius remains a homoiousian; Athanasiusis a
man of Nicaea and a homoousian. 90
These indications may be sufficient to show that most recent scholar-
ship has already created a solid basis for building a bridge between
Eusebius and Athanasius. Pltrther investigation is needed as to how
far the sinlllarity extends and where the dissimilarity sets in. But it should
not be forgotten that Athanasius was not only a positive (albeit a critical)
mediator of Eusebius' ideas; he was also a katechon. Par in the end the
Alexandrian contributed towards stamping the Caesarean an 'Arian', an
epithet which was to dog him throughout the whole of the Byzantine
period. It was only the church historian and encomiast of the emperor
Constantine to whom more Wlderstanding was given . Bt1t this

85 Ibid., 413
86 Ibid., 414-19.
87 Ibid., 427-34.; C. ICalmensiesscr in SC 199.67-162.
88 cr. the Praelil11lllnri:'l (VI) of n. Montfaucoll in PG 23, 28-48, on the CP ofEusebius.
89 M.-J. Rondellu, RSR S6, 1968, 429f. Furthcneferences below on Athanasius.
90 Cf. nbove onlluscbius; M.-J. Rondeau, op. cit., 433.

related to the 'political theology' of Eusebius, which we have still to

discuss. 91



Lactantius (c. 250-after 317), the contemporary of Eusebius, similarly

had a relationship with the emperor Constantine in that he was the tutor
of the emperor's son Crispus. With him we have a new attempt to present
Christian do trine in a .finn system. He is a witness to both the African-
Western and the Asian-Eastern tradition, which later he either found in
Gaul or took there himself It was there, too, that he put the final touches
to his Divil1ae Institutiones. If one also adds the lines which associate him
with Victorinus oEFertau, alld the general cultural and intellectual back-
ground [0 his writings, here are grounds for astonishment at the extent
of the philosophical, the logical and religiolls illtercommuruon which
existed at that time. The disappointment is, of course, that Lactantius did
11 su ce d in makiug a homogeneous whole oE his mass of information
and his sources. In the very area that interests us particularly, the doctrine
of the Trinity and christologYj the inadequacy of his powers of assimila-
tion is most evident. He seem most consistent when one considers the
framework in which he incorporated Christian doctrine: his Platonic-
Hermetic-Gnostic doctrine of redemption. 92

(a) The historical and intellectual background

Lactantius came from North Africa and before his conversion to
Christianity had moved to Asia Minor, where he lived at Nicomedia in
Bithynia. He was a Christian during the time of persecution there. 93 In
Africa he was a pupil of Arnobius the Elder,94 but was especially influenced
by Tertullian, Minucius Felix and Cyprian. According to A. Wlosok,

91 See the informative study by F. Winkelmann. 'Die Beurteilung des Eusebius von Caesarea und
seiner Vita Constantini im griechischen Osten', Byzalltillische Beilrage, ed. J. Irmscher, Berlin 1964,
9Z For wlnt follows, sec 1l0W R. Pichon, LaclmlCe. f.~l'lIllt lIr Ie mOlfl'ClIJful pliilosop/litjlfe e/ rcligicllx
SO,IS J. reSile de COll slalllin, P aris 19{)1; J. SrevcllSoll, 'The Life and Literary Activ ity of LaCbntius',
Stl1lfPnt 6 (TU (3), -'957. 66J-'77; Anto nic Wlosok., LaiuflIrz IIl1d die JllJi/osopllisr.f,e I/OS;S (Abh-
IeidclbcrgeEAkWlss 1960, :1.), Heidelberg 19()O, with bibliogr.lphy {cited hereafter :IS Wlosok I};
id., 'Z ur lldcutung dCT uiclucyprinnischcn mbeliitntc bei L.,ktnnz', SlUdPal 1 (TU 79), 1961,234-50
(cited hercaCtor lIS W losok U); V. Loi, LaIIIWZ/O 1Ie1/1l swill dd lillgllaggio f dd pCIIS;eTo pre-n;cel/o,
Zilrialt '1970, with bibJ iogr.lph y 281-92; esp. ell. IV: 'r..,
pncumntologia' (155-99}i ch. V; 'La
cri~(OJogia' (~03-32); ell. VI : ,'Lu sorcriologi:l' (;:'35-73). Sources: Dft,jllac JnsrjrllliQII ~S (cited her"'1.f~er
as Tilst,) ; EpltC1",C (cited hcrL-aftCJ; as Ep;t.): CS.cL 19. J . Wicn r890. Por [us/. sec D. R . hnckle ton
DQilcy. Lnctantiallll.', VIgC 14.1960,165-9; for Eplt. sec]. Srevenson, 'The E pi/ome of L'lctantius,
Dilliurrc 1m/llllllollcs', St"dPnl 7 (TU 92), 1966, 291-8.
9l Jerome, DI! llir. ill. 80: Richardson. 43; V. Loi, Laltauzio , xivf. ; Wlosok II, 247.
~'Jerome, De vir. ill., lac. cit; id., EIJ. 70, s: SE 51\,707; id., C/trollicou, GCS Eusebius-Werke
7, Uerlin 1956, 23 0 ad allll. 318/9: Qllorum Cri$plWI LactlmllllS La/luis /illeris crudiuit, uir omllium suo
tempore cloqlwltislimus, sed ndeo ill hac Hitll plll/pCr, 1/1 p/cmmqJlc elimll lIecessarils indiguerit.

before his cOllVersion to Christianity Lactantil1sJlad adopted a Platonism

combined wit! Hermetic doctrines. The theory of the impossibility of
knowing God which this would involve, and the strong stress on his
transcendence, would inevitably have been strengthened by the sub-
ordinatiorusm which he inherited from Jus tin and Tertullian. Here he was
primarily concemed to defend and interpret Christian monotheism. The
strong emphasis on a theology of revelation ill Lactantius is also to be
ascribed to the Platonic Herl11clica. A. Wlosok has convincingly
demonstrated that Lactanrius did not acquire his concept of religion from
Christianity, but brought it over from his pagan period.
The framework of Platonic-Hermetic doctrine was sufficiently wide
to allow the acceptance of important Chr.istian elements which Lactantius
probably first came to know in the East; on the other hand, it was so
narrow, tbat there were elements of Christianity which could not be
fitted into it, as with the vigorous figures of the baroque artists which
seem to burst out of the settings of their paintings. In other words, in
addition to the Platonic-Hermetic 'theory' there was now a demand for
'practical' piety as a pledge of salvation, which could in this -w ay be re-
garded as a reward. 'The divine revelation, the sending of Christ the
redeemer, the appropriation of revdation in the mystery of baptism, in
short the whole event of rcdemption and salvation, has the significance of
making possible tllis new service of righteousncss.'9S In Lacta:l1tius' view
the Hermetic teaching was already so ncar to Christian belief in revelation
that the reader of his works or his hearer could rightly ask why it was
necessary to become a Christian at all. However, Hermetic theory lacked
a decisive element, 'historical reality'. However clearly it might speak of
the spiritual transcendent God, of his revelation through the 'Son', of
human lostness and immortality as man's destiny; however much it
might promise redemption and future reward for the service of righteous-
ness, this element was missing. 96 With a tour de force Lactantius sought to
create a link between Christian reality and Hermetic theory: the Hermetic
doctrine of revelation is declared to be a 'prophecy' of Christianity.97
Marginal mention should be made of some theological themes which
can dcrive ncither from classical philosophy, from Hermetic Gnosticism
nor from the church, especially the doctrine of the two hostile spirits and
of cosmological-anthropological dualism in Lactantius,!}8 We are directed
towards Jewish and Jewish- Christian sources. The 'two llOstile spirits' are
mentioned in the QumralLManual of Discip1me (3. 18). According to
95 Wlosok I, 228.
96 Ibid., and 229. Tn l~ct~ntius, as inJustiQ, in me end it is a question of the aile extra element ill
Christianity. the iUCU'I)atiQn. 91 Ibid.
98 Cf. V. toi. Problem., dcJ ntalc (! dlli!.lj~mo negli scritti di Lattanzio',Allllnli Ilcllc FlieD/fa r/j ~lIc'~,
Filos,1/irl e Magistero dell'Ulli~erslta r/j C<lglinri 29, 1961--65,42-55,58--61, ']T-4, CSp. 89-94., quoted in
Loi, Lattallz io x.vii ~nd I S, 189. [bid., 189-99.

Philo's Quaestiones in Exorlum (I, 23) they enter into a man's soul at birth
and from then on fight for the asccudancy.99 The combination of <two
spirits' and <two ways' du:ects us to Jewish-Christian literature,'oo say to
Ps. Barnabas (Ey. c. 18. 1- 2), to the Didachc (I, I: here only the 'two
ways ). to the Shepherd of Her mas (Mand. V, I, 2-4; VI, 2, I: <two spirits';
Maltd. VI, I, 2-4 ; (two ways'). LactanU115 was especially influenced by the
pseudo-Clementines (Homiliae and Recognitiollfs), cspeciaUy in respect of
the dualism which is so characteristic of him: the one divine will brings
the two antagonistic spirits lUlder cOlltrol and dominat s them.l 01
Significant r the Asian milieu in which LactantitlS fOlmd himself is the
mille.naIianislll which he took over from Jewish-Christian apocalyptic.
He could have been all the lUore infl ttenced by it as he expori nced the first
years ofDiocletian's persecution in Asia.lo~ Hi high regard for the Uew-
ish-Cluistian parts of the) Sibylline books may also come from a similar
situation of distress and the expectations which it nourished-quite apart
from their apologetic us fuloess. He defends their autheIlticity.l03 A.
Wlosok was able to show chat the gl1otatio.ns from the Odes oj Solomon in
particular are a demo11 tration of the significance of Lactantius' stay in
Asia for his thought. For these Odes were not in the Afi.-ican Bible.J04
Here we are pointed towards Eusebius of Caesarea. For it can be demon-
strated that he used Odes of Solomon 19, the very one that is cited in
Lactantius, in his christological exegesis of Psalm 21.
This exegesis has its setting in the theological controveJ:sy with Judaism, in face of
which.Euscbius attempts to demonstrate the messianic character of the psalm. III Dim/OIl-
s/ratio Eflnllge/iclI X (499cd), v. 10 f the psalm is interpreted in te[1llS of the miraculous
birth of the redeemer, in wllich the activity of the midwife is assigned to God the Father,
all unusual idea which. appears in this [onn iu Od. Sal. 19. 9)05
It is noteworthy here that Eusebius never mentions the Odes by name,
nor does he ever quote them properly. Nevertheless,
he beau witness to a biblical-apologetic theology which is influenced by the Odes. In
view of tllis 1ct, it may no longer be thought to be a coincidence when Ode 19 is also
cited in Lactantius in the context of christQlogical exegesis, and when tWs exegesis is
related to vigorous polemic from the synagogue which challenges the messiahship of
Jesus. Thus both Eusebills and Lactantius, who can hardly be set in direct rcl:tuonsllip
at this rime, must go back to a common tradition.105

99 Philo, Quaest. in Exod. I, 23: commentary Wlosok I, 107-II; there is a comparison there with the
text of the Manual of Discipline.
100 Cf. V. Loi, Lattallzio, 190-3.
101 Ibid., 194. 102 Ibid., 193
I031ml. 1', (\. ()-IS; 20-2; Epil. s: 679; Dc Ira Dei 22,4-23,2. CSEL 27, 2, I: 123-5. Cf. the index
in Brnndt, CSEL "7, 2, 2: 259-61.
la. Cf. Wlosok II, 242-4.
IO~ Ibid., 243: cf. Eusebiu$. DE X. 8, 5tH! on Ps. 2r. 10 (WC7mp IlQ10VIlEVOS says Eusebius); Od. Sal.
19. 8: A. v. Hanmck-J. l'lcmming, .Bill jiidisch-chrislliclles Psalmbuch (TU 35. 4), 19IO, 50, conj.
106 Wlosok II, 243-4.
According to A. WJosok, the Odes of Solomon are especially informa-
tive ou Lactantius' Wlclerstanding of redemption, as is shown by a com-
parison of Od. Sal. 15,1-6 and Inst. VI, 9, I 3'ff, 107 We shall nally be con-
cerned with this Asian background in connection with Lactantius' 'spirit
christology' and llis 'binjtarianism'.
Despite all these different influences, however, the most signicant fact
is probably that 'Lactantius applies to the Christian doctrine of salvation
the same historical categories as those by which Hermetic Gnosticism
understood itself For him, Christianity is a religion of the redemption of
the spirit and as such the true synthesis of philosophy and religion.'108 This
is expressed in the motto which is preflxed to these remarks about Lactan-
tius: sapiens religio-rcligiosa sapielltia. 109 We may follow A. Wlosok in
seeing this as a summary of the apologetic and missionary programme
ofLactantius. He means to proclaim.
that sapiclltia and re(igio, the knowledge of the truth and religious service, can only
truly be 111 synthesis as such a wliey is only to be found ill Christianity, and that once
they are isolated, humanpnilosophy (= Ja.lsa sapicntla. Book ill) and divine religion
(= jnlsa fe/igio, Book I) must be perverted. The way in whicl~L.1ctantius sees this synthesis
coming about is that worsh.ip of God necessarily builds up revelation of God and,
conversely, that the search for truth must be wholly directed towards the knowledge of
God and his will. Thus Lactantius, like-Hermetic anthropology, extcl1dsliOllS behaviour
into knowledge and action, in such a way that the pious man is solely an simultaneously
both sapiens and religiosus. The origin of both sllpiclltia and refigio, right knowledge of
God and trlle worship of him, is the olle divine source of revelation, and it is this which
gives this paIticuls1r attitude the cha.racter of a piety like that of the mysteries.uo
We have now had some hints of the perspectives in which Lactantius'
doctrine of God and his Son are to be seen.
(b) The one God and his Son
From now on we can keep to Book IV of the Divinae Institutiones and
the corresponding passages from the Epitome. Two problems of the early
JO? Ibid., 2Jl,4. n. 2. 101 Wlosok I. 2 II; cE. ibid., 21O- IS.
J091bid . :1l2-l4: Christianity 3.5 a synthesis of stlpif.lllitl and rr,ligI0. Our motto: Epir. 36. 4: 7U.
W losok r, :US should be noted: 'In his own concern to systematize the vnrious terms and to as~ociate
the.ql by definitions. L,ctantius latcr inserts the formula sapi611/!n!rdigio (also in the vc~!on sapiclllini
inslltltl)' into tIle two ba$ic frameworks which he had applied, to the constitution of man, that from
salvation history and the anthropologioJ trudition wbich he had taken Ovcr with onhodox tradition.'
Note here the constant p lay with the verses from Ovid . ivlelaIllOrl'''' I, S4/f.. whioh arc quoted in
Illst. II. I, IS (p. 98):
PfOlMqllC (1/111 Sprcl611t nllimalia cetera ferram
os 1,0/11;11; slIbli,JTC dedIt CIIclllmque uldere
IllSSit ct ereetos tid sidcf// tol/ere uultlls.
This is applied to the physical structure. the mornl and spi itu:1l attitude and the eternal destiny of
man. ~el1 to the point of the vision of God. cr. IIISI. VIT. 5, 2.2; cf. Wlosok r, 2.15. :2.I6-22; D, 244--6.
110 Wlosok I. 213. with reference to Jllsl. IV. 3- 4. Cf. ibid., 21.4 (and n. IU): 'J3cforeLacr.mtiu5 no
one .. . used the Hl!rlUctic writings to such a degree fur apologetic pm:posCs. Indeed, he was tile first
rcally to introduce them into the npologetic literature.' cr. W lo$ok I, 2.61r., for the Hermetic cita-
tions and allusions in Lacmntius.

Christian Apologists are also pressing for Lactantius: (r) How can Christi-
anity confess monotheism, when it believes in the Word or the Son of
God? (2) How can Christianity, as a new philosophy and religious gnosis,
speak of the incarnation of God? Lactantius raises the flrst question in
matter-of-fact words: 'Perhaps someone may ask how we can affirm
"two", God the Father and God the Son, when we claim to worship only
one God . This assertion leads many into great crror.'lll So the unity of
GOdll2 is an unavoidable theme: 'When we speak of God the Father and
God the Son, we do not speak of different things and do not separate the
two, as neither can the Father be separated from the Son nor the Son from
the Father. There is no name of the Father without the Son, and the Son
cannot be begotten without the Father.'ll3 The solution of this great and
oppressive riddle does not go far beyond the position already reached by
Tertullian. In both Father and Son there is one understanding (mens), one
spirit (spiritus), one substance (substantia). But the Father is like the spring
and the Son the brook that flows from it; or the relationship between the
two is like that of sun and ray.1l4 The word portio also appears. llS It is
easy to see the Stoic doctrine of the spirit behind these remarks. It has an
advantage over the strong stress of the moral interpretation of the unity
of Father and Son in pointing to the unity of substance in God, however
incomplete the ideas associated with it may have been,
When Lactantius uses the analogy of the paterfamilias to express the
unity in God, he is probably betraying his 'Roman) connections. Whereas
Tertullian makes considerable use of the idea of the monarchia, and ex-
plains the relationship of Father and Son on this basis (see p, II9 above),
the word has only minor significance in Lactantius. 116 In this context
Tertullian had used the example of a ruler and his many officials to explain
the wlity of the divine rule over the world and the unity in God himself
(c Apol. 34. 2). Lactantius seems to be more 'domestic', whether one
thinks of the smaller or the larger family (the paterfamilias with his sons and
slaves). This family or doml4s is so fixed for him, civili tamen iure,117 that it
can serve as an analogy for the unity in God. So he has no difficulty in
speaking of two 'persons' in God. Taking up the words of the prophet
Isaiah, he contrasts the transcendent Father and the incarnate Son (Christ)
under this nomenclature:
III Illst. IV. 2.9.1: 391f. lIZ Ibid . IV. 2.9. 2.: 392..4: nUlle de ullit~te doee~ml/s.
113 Ibid . IV. 29. 3: 392..
114 Cf. III st. IV, 2.9, 4: 392; Tcnull.. Pra~. VIII. 5-6; XXII. 6; XXVII. 1: CCL II. II67f.; II90i
Tcrtull . Apol. XXI, II: CCL 1. I24 i Cyprian, T~st. 11. 3: CSEL III. I. 64f.
m 1/151. IV. 29. 6: 392: rom Igilllr n propbetls Idem IIIIII"'S dal ~I uir/IIS ct scrlllo died/, If. lltiqllt /IIll1a
discrrlio est, /jilin el /il/gllll. serlllOI/{s milllslril. ct IIImurs, III /jua csl /lirilis. Illdillid,lile SItllt corporis porllolles.
116 cr. V. Loi ,Ldttmlz io. 49-50: the term tIIol/orc/,ln only appenrs twice in connection with Platonic
theism : Il1st. J, 5.23 ;Epll. 4. 1 : (PlnIO) lIIollard,lom ndseri/. 1III/IIIIIIcilm dlcells. a 1"0 sll IIItllldiiS illStrllc/tU
(el) ",lrnblJl Tal/ollc perfecii/s. Loi points to Tertull., Prax. m. 2: /IIollarc/rialli IIi/Ill alilld slgu!ficare sclo
qllalll sl"gllinre tt /1111' 11111 imperllml.
117 IIlSI. IV. 2.9. 7: 39v-3; 8: 393: sic Iii, tmmdus una dd domus est etfilius ae pater. qui unanimes ineolunt
Finally, Isaiah has shown that one God can be both Father and SOil when he says, 'They
will bow down to you and make sLlpplication to you, saying, "God is with you only,
and there is no other, no god besides him" , (Isa. 45. 14).ln another place, he says s,imilarly:
'Thus says the Lord, the king of Israel and the eternal God his Redeemer: "I am the first
ond I am the last; besides me there is no god" , (Isn. 44. 6). Since he has introduced two
persons, that of God the king, which is Christ, and that of God the Pather, who has raised
him from the underwor1d after suffering, as the prophet Hosea has show.n according to
our words: 'And I will deliver him from the hand of the underworld' 0-1os. I3. 14), so
he (Isaiah) observes in referring to each of the two persons, 'and besides IIII! there is no
God'. as he could say 'besides us' (praeter IIOS): but it was not right to allow a separation
of such a close conjunction by using the plural. There is only one God. the free. supreme
God, without origin, as he himself is the origin of things, and in him the Son and all else
is contained. So because the understanding and will of the one is in the other. or better,
is one in both, so the two can rightly be called one God; for what is in the Father over-
flows into the SOD. and what is in the Son descends from the Father. The one who wishes
only to worship the Father does llot worship even the Father unless he also worships the
Son. And the one who accepts the Son and bears his name, worships the Father along
with the Son, because the Son is the ambassador and messenger and priest of the supreme
Father. 1l8
Thus a distinction must be made between Father and Son in the one
God. The Son belongs on the side of God and not among created things or
beings. He, too, participates in the transcendence and unknowability of
the Father-he is really known only to the Father. ll9 The Son issues from
the Father. But here we hear strange things. For as 'spirits', the angels also
issue from God.l2o What is the difference betweell them and the Son in
this respect? Very anthropomorphic notions must be used to solve this
Par the Word{= serll/O, as in Tertull iall) is a breath (spiritus), but it is produced with
a voice that is loaded with meaning. But because breath and word are produced by
different (parts of the body)-the breath comes from the nose, the word from the mouth
-so there is a great dlfference between this Son of God and the rest of the angels (inter
IlIlIIe de; filiI/III ceterosqlle angelosl ). They came forth from God as dumb breath (tacit;
spiritlls), because they were not created to conununlcate a divine doctrine, but oilly to

tll/lIldlllll, 1/~tlS 1I111IS, quia et tmlllll est tam'l/lam duo et duo lallrq/lQIlIIIIIlIs. POI a correct understanding note
Wlosok I, appendix. 2.32-46. 'Die Gottcspradikation pater et donrilills bei Laktam. Gott in A:nalogie
zum Rom ischcn patu jamil/as.' Cf. ibid . 180-92.; 2.Jzff.; 2z9ff. The designation 'pater jimilUas' under-
lies the 'paler el domilllls'. Pliler jamllias represcnts an official (Ulpiar1); it is,., double term, which C0111-
'bincs the idea ofchc palrrand that of the dOll/lll11s. For its Rom:m antecedents sce ibid., z36ff. Tertullian
also knows this double function, Oral. II, 4; M(1rc. 1,2.7,3; H, 13. 5; Apo/. XXXIV, z, but he makes a
distinction, sce Wlosok I. 241: 'Thus in Tcrtullian the aualogy between God and palerfall/ilias is not
carded through consistently, tlnd above nIl is not evaluated further i.n tr.tms of the doctrin,e of God.
Lnctanti\ls was tIle first to do this; he deliberately and c;onsistently buil~ Ujl his new concept ot God
on the two-sidcdness of the cOlJ,ception of the paler familiar . .. .'
118 IJlSt. IV, 29.10-15: 393f. Cf. Bpit. 4S,4-5: 72.3. Here the ground fer the unity between Father
dan Son is that ill them Substlllllill ct 1I0/III1II1S tl jides IIna esl. In respect of (he cult, we find here: 1/11//$
tsll/bllos II/r/que Itibllelldlls tamqllam IIl1i deo et ila dillidcm/lls eSI per dllos ('JIIIIS , III dill/sio ipsa compage
itueparnbillllillcinlllr (45, S).
119 Eplt. 37,9. 713l0rr. (with reference to Rev. 19. tz).
u01l1st. IV. 8. 6: 296: prillllllll I/CC sclr/ II qllOqllll1ll pOSSlm/llce cllarrarl oJ'~rll dillilla, sed ("111m sal/Clae
IItlune doullt. ;/1 qlllbll.f cnllllllll csl I/Illm dc/jill/1m dei sermollemltl!/IIqllc cetero 1l1gdo$ del spirilils CS$C. lIal/l
mlllo esl spirllm """ lIoce allq1lid sigll ifiC1l11 Ie pro/allIS.

serV'e (mlllls{erillllJ cf. Heb. t. 4, 7). But the Son came forth from the mouth of God
aloud and with a voice, like a word, for a purpose, to use his voice towards all people,
that is became he was to be the coming tc.'lcher of divine doctrine and che divine my.stery
that was to be brought to mell.. God first spoke him (the SeT/IIO, the spiritlls). so as to be
able to speak. to us through him and. so that he could reveal God's voice and will to us.
Re is therefore rightly calledsenllo and Word of God. because God has formed the vocal
breath (uoea/em sjliritum) which proceeds from Ius mouth. which he cOlweiyed, not in the
w?mb but. in ~e unders~andil1g (/,/!ellte) .to be. an image in the inconceiv~ble and
might ofrus majesty, an Ullage Whldl enJoys hiS own senses (SctlSl/s) and his own Wisdom.
Onr breath (lIoslrl spiritlls) blows away because we arc mortal : btlt God's breath (spiritus)
lives and remains and feels because he hin~selfis immortal and the giver offec1ing and life
(Se/lSllS ac 1/ ilae dator). . 121

This text. with its very anthropomorphic flavour and its parallels, gives
us some idea of Lactantius' notion of the relationship of Father to Son in
one God. But it should be noted that he speaks as an apologist and des-
cends to the level ofhis audience and thcir presuppositions. The anthropo-
morphisms are comparisons and analogies. of course, they would be all
the more open to misinterpretation the more we were able to assume
Stoic materialism in the Apologists' doctrine of the spirit.12~ But he
clearly stresses the incorporeality of God, who for him is an 'incorporalis
mens' (Greek probably 6:crWlJClTOS voiiS) .123 If one also cOllsidered the term
spiritus in Lactantius, as does G. Verbeke, one would have to assmne that
even Lactantius docs not get beyond the idea of the sublime corporeality
of God (corpus sui gel'Eeris in Tertullian). But he will have llone of Stoic
matcrialism, and rather switches on to the Platonic-llythagoreall1ine when
he talks of the 'il1corporalis mens' in God.124 This becomes rather clearer
when one notes the relationship between Lactantius and Novatiall. 12S But
one only doesjustice to the corresponding texts in Novatian by using not
only 'spirit' to translate 'spiritus' but (as with the Hebrew n7aM also breath
or wind depending on the context. Trin. VI, 33-VII, 39 is concerned with
explaining pictorial statements about God, as when scripture speaks of
the eyes, ears, fingers, hands, arms and feet ofGod.ln this context Nova-
tian makes very elevated statements about God and what we would call
his 'spiritual nature', but does not use the word 'spirit' in our sense.
Rather he speaks of the 'simplicity' of God:

12111151. IV, 8-10: 296-7. _

122 G. Verbeke, L'evolutioll de 1a doctrine du pneuma du slorcisme aS. Augustin, Paris-Louvain 1945,
469-85, stresses Lactantius' Stoic materialism too much. Cf. against this V. Loi, Lattanzio, 155-99.
On p. 156 Loi challenges especially Verbeke's statement on p. 516: 'Lactance ... fait proceder tout
ce qui existe de l'etre supreme par une espece d'emanation materielle, basee sur une interpretation
etymologique de certains termes scripturaires.' See the polemic of Lactantius against the Stoa in
lnst. VII, 3, II: 589.
m cr. v. Loi, Lnllnllzio, 33- 35. IS8r.
124 [bid., 35, 156 with reference toE. Brcbicr, La tMorie des Illcorpore/s dmls I'ancien Siorcisme, Paris
1928,1- 13.60-63; F.. Evans, Teril/lllarl's Treatise agaitul Pra.wlS, Loudon )948,234-6.
135 cr. V. Loi, 1.attollZlo, 164-7. Ibid., 165. n. 31, has fmtller re.(crenc9s to the term spiritus in
Novatian and Tcrtullian.
That whfcll is simple does not have different parts. The lat~er is what happens with
something that is divided into individual members, whose existence moves between
coming to be and passing away. Dut whatever is not compesitc is one in itself and simple
and eternal, whatever its nature might be. And because it is one in itself, it cannot be
dissolved intojarts and pass away, because, whatever it may be, it has no possibility of
dissolution an is not subject to the laws of death.126
But when Novatian comes to speak of the word spiritus, lle introduces
qualiflcations. 'God is "spirit" , is a metaphorical and not a substantive
statement (VII, 39). When John 4. 24 says that God is spiritus, this does not
describe God's bing, as an spiritus is created.I27 According to him, 'God
is "spirit" , must be set alongside other metaphorical statements like the
assertion that the substance of God is love, Or light, or breath (spiritus) or
fire (c Trin. VII, 38). But the real nature of God is above all these
statements (Trin.. VII, 38).128 In ocher words, the highest statements about
God caOllot be made in terms of the word spiritus.
In Lactantins we find a similar situation. Suppose we return to the
statement: 'He is therefore rightly called s(!rl1lO and Word of God, because
God has formed the vocal breath which proceeds from his Dl011th, which
he conceived, not in the womb but in the understanding (lI1ellte), to be
an image in the inconceivable power and might of his majesty ... .' (11lst,
IV, 8,9). We shall understand this sentence jf we begin from his definition
of sermo : 'sermo est spirittls CH/I11/0Ce aliquid sigllificante proiatlls',t29 i.e., 'the
Word is a breath which is produced by the voice giving it a meaning'.
The origin of the word is the mens, and the spiritlls, the breath, is the veh-
icle to which the voice, formulated t1rrol1gh the mouth, gives a mea~ling.
This is how the word is produced. But we can also breathe (spirare)
through the nose. This does not produce a word. By means of t11is human
analogy Lactantius explains the differellce between the serlllO spiratus or the
Hoca/is spiritl/s, i.e. the Word of God or the Son, and the other 'breaths'
(spiratiol1es), the angels (and human souls). Because they are spiraliorles of
God, they are i.nul1ortal, but because they are mere spirat.iollcs, they are
not the 'Word', nor are they the expression or the 'image' of God. So
they cannot be the bearers of revelation; they are only effective forces
which God uses in the world to serve him.
Because Lactantius claims the word spiritlls so much for the issuing of
the Son from the Father, and uses it jll the way that has been described,
two conclusions follow for him. First, his Logos doctrine is a 'spirit ch ris-
tology', and instead of a 'doctrine of the Trinity' he has a 'binitacianism'.
126 Novatian, Trin. VI. 36: Weyer. 64-<16.
127 Novatian, Trill. VII, 39: Weyer. 66-<18: Delliqrrf 51 occeperls Sl}irilUm sul,stollilam dei, creaturam
feceris deum-omllis ellim spiritus molufa est. crlt ('rgo iamfactus tlells. .. .
128 Cf. V. Loi, Lalfallzio. 166, with reference to OriSen. De Prill'. I. I, I; Comm. ilJ 10. XIII. 21.
129 11151. IV. 8, 6: 296. A. Orhe, Bacia III primern leologia tic /a prOmiJII tiel Verbo. (Estud. Val. I, I).
Roma 1958, 451; I, 2, 534, 11. 14 j H5-6. has demonstrated its Stoic origin. Details of sources in Loi.
Lattanzio, 169, n. 43.

These two definitions are so important that we need to illuminate them

briefly from the theological situation before and after Nicaea.130

(c) Lactantius and spirit christo logy

M. Simonetti distinguishes three forms of spirit christology:
(I) Spiritus. pneuma. when used of Christ, denotes divine nature. or
the divinity of Christ.
(2) Pneuma denotes the 'person' of the pre-existent Clu:i5t.
(3) In certain Fathers or authOls. as a result, the prc-existent Christ and
the Holy Spirit can be identified. The consequence is binitarianism.
For the first form of spirit chriscology Simonetti introduces the follow-
ing evidence (with a reference to the influence of Rom. I. 3-4. which we
have already discussed): Ignatius, Eph. 7. 2; II Clem. 9. 5; Melito ofSardes.
Peri Pascha 66 (Perler. 4701); Ps.-HiEPolytus, In S. Pasch a ( = IP) (SC 27),
45; Clement of Alexandria. Paed. II, 19. 4. It should be noted that Origen
is against the use of p,m/l1'/(/ as a designation of the divine nature, unlike
Athanasius, Jld Serap. 4, 19 (4, 23) Marcellus of Ancyra. De Incarnatione et
c. Arianos I I and &rI"O maior de fide 3 (Schwartz, frag. 76), of CQUfse takes
up an opposing position to Origen (see below under Marcellus).
From the Latin sphere Simonetti cites the Epitome ofLactantius (3 8, 43:
Primum de Deo in spiritu ante ortum mundi, JJostmodum in carne ex homine,
Augusto imperante); Hilary, Comm. itl Matt. (written before his stay in
Asia) 2, 5; 4, 14; 16,9; 27, 4. Als0 Marius Victorinus, Adv. Arian. I, 44;
III, 12 and 14.
The evidence for the second form of spirit christology (pneuma, spiritus
as a designation of the person of the pre-existent Christ) is as follows:
Ignatius, Magn. 5, 2; especially, however, IP 45-7. It is somewhat
difficult to demonstrate that Tatian, Adv. Graee. 7 belongs here, and the
same is true of Theophilus of Antioch.Ill Although Hippolytus clearly
stresses the trinitar.ian structure of the deity in comparison with Thco-
philus (C. Noet. 12, 14). he can use pneuma specifically of the Son of God:
'What issued from the Father, if not the Logos? What was begotten by
him if not the pnel/ma, that is, the Logos?' (C. Noet. 16; c 4). Clement of
130 In what follows we make use ofM. Simonetti, 'Note di cristologia pneumatica', Aug. 12, 1972,
201-)2; ).1'. M~[tin, EI flipirilll Sall(Q ell I~s QT;gclles del cri.!l;ru,;s/1IQ, ZUrich 1971; R . Cnnt~ssa,
'L:Lprimitiva cscgcsi cristologica di "Romani" I, 3-4 et "Luea" 1,3)', RfvStorLef(Rolz, 1966,69-80.
Sec above the references to F. LoofB. For 'Logos-Sophia' ill pr<>-Christinn aud, eurly Christian times,
cf. Wlomk I, LS7f.
III M. Simonetti, loco cit., 2I2f.: 'In altci termini, Tcofilo da UJl1 paTte ill osseq uio alla formu la di
fcde, tenrle ad affiancare al flglio ( = Logos) 10 Spirito S:Il1t!:) ( = Sapienza) Comb persona d.istinra;
lIla d'altra parte tende n .ipoaare :J solo Figlio j v3n oomi dl1:."o[l:.\ e potCllze divine (sapienza,
potenza, spieleo): quC$t:I. sccooda tC:lldco~ LUi scmbra prevalente. E in questa scnso 3nchc .pnCUll13 I:
adopcrato appunto come appel lativo specifieo dcl Logos, come nome p-ersolt:lle (All Amot. 2. 1'0):
Questo dunqu~ (ciol: iJ rogo~). cl)e e Spirito eli Dio e $lpien:m c pot;cm!a dcl l 'Alti!~imo . sccndc:va SUI
proferi e per mezzo loro raccont:rva com'cta avvenuta h (!fcazioQc dcl mondo e di tuw: Ie altTe
cose.' Por this tcnninology ofThcophilu$ d. also M. Simonetti, 'La Sacra Scrittura in Tcofilo d'.t'\.n-
tiOchia', EJlektasis, 197-207.

Alexandria writes to the same effect: ' ... The Lord is pneuma and Logos .
. . . The Lord Jesus Christ, that is the Logos of God, is pneutlia made flesh,
hallowed, heavenly flesh:1l 2 lrenaclls says in Demol1str. 7I: 'Scripture in-
forms us that Christ, although the pneuma of God, had to subject himself
to suffering as man', c Adv. Iwer. IV, 31, 2. Tertullian certainJy has a
broader spectrum ofremarks (some of which belong to the first form of the
use of sl)irillls). In De Oratioflc133 andPrnx. 26,IJ4 however, spiritus is used as
a proper name of the pre-existent Christ. Lactalltius is not so significant
for thejdentification of Logos and Spiritus Dei (only [list. IV, 9 is relevant).
Phoebadius of Agen, C. Arian. 20, is cle.trer,m although_he too knows of
the person of the Holy Spirit (22). Finally, mention should be made of
Gregory of Elvira (De fide 8, 93. where. however, the second redaction
should be noted as well as the first: CCL 69, 245).
It was the ambivalence of the exegesis of Luke 1. 35, above all, which
contributed to the identification of spiritus (S(///cl1lS) and the pre-existent
Christ. According to M. Simonetti, three groups should be distinguished
(1) Especially in the reading 1TVEVj.lCX .wPIOV for 1TVEVj.lCX &yIOV, Luke 1.
35 is referred to the pre-existent Christ, without a formal identification of
the Logos with the Holy Spirit. 136
(2) The same terminology contains, among other things, precisely this
identification.I 37
(3) But there is also an identification of the pre-existent Christ and the
Holy Spirit without reference to Luke 1. 35.138 This is the context of
Lactantius, with Victorinus of Pettau and Hilary's commentary on
III Clem. AI., Paed. II, 19, 4: M. Simonetti, 'Note di cristologia pneumatica', Aug 12,
m Tertullian, Orat. I, I: CCL I, 257: Dei spiritus el Dei sermo el Dei ratio, sermo ratiollis el ratio
sermolli.1 fl spirillls 1I1rlllsque, Jeslls Clnisllls, domilllls IIosler.
134 Tertullian, Pra;,:. 26,4: CCL 2, ll96- 7: Hi, splritlls Dd idem eril senllo. Si",1 ,,";m 11Ilratme dicellle:
sef"'O enro jacllls esl (.1" I, 14), jpirillllll qllolJlle illtel/(~i/lilu iI/ mellliolio S8'IIIOII;5, ila CI ilie scrlllOllem quoque
aglloscirmlS-I" "Ollljll~ spirilus. Nnw er spirillis suus/alllia est sermonis at ser",o op6mlio spiritus, el duo "IIum
mphoebad. Agen., C. ilriall. 20: PL 20, aBCD: Naill idem spirillls Sermo et sapielltia Dei est.
Delllqlle Will enllolll sapi~lIlia CI VerbuIII Del, c/ spirillls Dei sit, sil'glllo"'111 lalllCil I/ol/li/ll,,,, officill ,'II/,lim'tll'.
. Apparel ergo ,1111",' t lllldemqllL' vIIissc 11m" ill lIom/llc .fpirillls, IIIlIIe ill appdlatiollt sapiclIl;ac. Phoc-
badius is dependent on Tcrtullian, Ad".J)rn.lI. ,(ct. ,cll. 20), alld ad.."llowlcdgcs three pcrmlls in God (ef.
ch. 22: PL 20,29-30). M. Simonetti, 'Ioc. cit., 2.6f.
114 Thus the Greek sphere by J~tin, Dinl. '. Trypll. 100;Ap~l. I, 33; fren., Haer. V, I, 3;
Ul the Latin sphere by TCTCuUinn, Prox. 26, 3- 4; L.'lcrantius, I/lsi. IV, 12, 1: 309: Dl!ScclldcI's ita'llle d~
,aeio sallelllS ille spiritus dei sollClalll IIlrglllelll errius lIIero se illS;lIIrarel degi/. (II ill" Ilill/llo spirit" 111111$10
repicla callcep"1 et s;!lf-lIl1o niT/nelll /liri repellie lIirg/nalis II{"TIIS 11I/,mlll;l. Gregor. Ulib., D~jirle 8, 92: eCL
LXIX, 245: Vides ergo ipSllII1 Spirlllltll, III csl jilil/III dei, vellisse ad(;II) Ilirgillem el i/lde (;11) dol d /1 0111/11 is
jilill/II process;sse. 11ms the first recension. A secolld recension, demonstrated by M. Simonelti (Ioe.
cit. 222, n . 48) from OXOII. Lalldlall. lII/sC. 276 has instead: ipslJIII VerulIlII, ipSllIIl DDI HUIIIII, which is
Ilotjndic:u:cd in CCL, loe. cit. For NOVdti31l sec SinlOllctti, ibid. (ill controversy with V. Loi, L'lttall-
z;o, 196).
117 The Holy Spirit is the suqjcct of ti,e assumption ofd1C flesh from Mary, especially ill the West,
and in some works whicll arc ascribed to Cyprian : Qllod idol. Il; MOIII. SliM ,~; Victorinus of Pet tau,
Faurfcn mlmdi 9; 111 Apoc. 12, ,; Hilary, Tr;lI. 11, 26. Cf. M. Simonetti,loc. cit.. 223.
1J8 Cf. Past. Herm., 5illl. IX, I, . ; V, 6, s; Ps. Cypdan., Ad Vigil. 7. M. Simonetti,loc. cit., 225.

Matthew. 139 These are therefore almost exclusively Western witnesses.

M. Simonetti explains this by saying that in the West the accent lay more
on the stress on the unity in God, and not 011 the distinction of persons.
Novatian had already weakened the clear distinction of the three persons
in God as .it was to be found in Tertll11ian. The letter of Dionysius of
Rome to Dionysius of Alexandria also shows that in Rome there was
more concern for a stress on the unity than for an elucidation of the
Trinity-which Origen had so carefully produced ill the East. Of course, the
dispute over Marcellus of Ancyra will show tllat there were also theolo-
gians in the East who were primarily concerned to safeguard the unity in
God, even to the poine of endangering tile distil1ctiolL

(d) Lactantius as a binitarian

Our examination of pre-Nicene 'spirit cbristology' makes it possible
for us to mark out Lactantius' pla.ce among the representa.tives of this
pneumatology, which docs not accept any third hypostasis in the God-
head. Jerome also asserts tilat in the letters to DemetriaullS, which are J10
longer C:A"tant. Lactantius denied the personal subsistence of the Holy
Spirit. l40 H owever, he could not bypass the bibUcal and patristic doctrine
of the pneuma wJlich regards tile spirit as a charisma of sanctification and
above all as a force of prophetic inspiratiol1. 141 Above all, a closer investi-
gation is needed of Lactantius' doctrine of bapcism and its backgrmmd,
the Asian baptismal catechesis of his time. A. Wlosok shows that it has a
great significance for him:

Sin. the state of lostncss, is an ignorance which has its basis in dIc obscuration of [he
human ca.paciry for understanding. So fcdcmption by thc cornaumicmtion. of revelation
consists in an imlcr iUUlllination and the bestowal ofkllowlcdge. This is ach:ieved by the
influx of divine wisdom, which is thought of as a pneumatic substance, like light, and

UP Lactantius. Bpi/. 38 (43). (I: 715: rClla/lJS cst ~rgo ex lIirgillc sille parre 1~lIIqllam I,omo, ut quemadmodum
III prima 1'Ullillilnlr spirilllli erell/liS [esl) ~x solo ,Iao SllIlelllS sl! faclw est, sic i/l secullda camali ex sola
malre g,"itll! (MC satlClIi jicrcl, III p~r CII/II taro, qlla SII/iietta l! tccalojiICtlIl. a{, ill/eri/II liberaretur. Victor.
l'oetov . III Apo', VI. 4: CSEL 49. 74: Hila,. Pict., Co'mm. Malt. 12. T7 (the sin against the Holy
Spirit, Matt. 12. 31-2. is imcrprc!cd i ll tcnns of denying the: divinity of Christ): Quid etiim tam exIra
veniam est quam ill Chrislo lIegar 1J1l01l DellS sit el COlls/s/elllfm ill eo [latumi Spirilus subs/allliam adimere?
(PL 9. 98913).
140 Jerome, Ep. 84.7. reproduced in CSEL 2.7. I. IS7 :Lnclall1illS I'll libr!s suis et maxime in ep;stulis ad
Demetriallum spiritus saneti ownlno negal Sllbstmllialll et orrore ludalw dicit eum vel ad pat rem r~rerri vel
.filium el sallctijicatiollem utriluque puml lOC mb ejlls 1I01ll;lIe delllollstr~rj. Cf. Jerome. Comm, ill Ep. ad
Ga /at. II, 4.6: CSEl. 27. I . 15M., wher~ there is mention of the eighth book ofletters to Dcmctcianns,
nnd it is 31so said orother authors.: adserillil sJlirilll1ll SQ/lClJJI/I saepe potrem, saCl'cjiJill1li /l omi/lilr;. For what
follows see V. Lei, LIlt/al/zio. r74~.
1.1 Por the th~11C o['spirit :lI1d prophetic il1!pirotiotl' cf. II/si. TV, 18,30-1: 358-9. Dnvid mnde n
prophecy in Ps. 21. 17- 19 (d]{JdmilltIIllIlWS /IIea.1 ... ). but not about himself, as he did nor sutTer as
king. The spiric of God spoke tl\rough bim. indeed the one who was ti) ~ll flh a thousand nnd fifty
yean later. 111e,e nn: the nwnbc~ of )'C1US ~o be cowIted from the rdgn of David to the C[O!;$ of
Christ. 'fhe spiritus di~llIIu i$ the Logos. nut ap:I.I't CrOIll this passnge, .Ipirims diulims denote! tile spirit
of imp Irati011 in IIISI, IV,S. S (284); IV, 6, 6 (2.90)~ V. 9, 6 (.j.2.S: p-oe-tic in.~plration ofa quasi-divine
kind); VI, 1, 1 (479) (by.Lactamim related to himself); VIr. Z.h 9 (660). cr. V. wi. Latrllm:/u, 176.

coincides with the Holy Spirit. In this way the original state of man, as it was desired by
his Creator, is restored,142

Lactantius also transfers to the act of baptism the process of restoration,

which he understands as restoring man to his reclus status.143 When we add
to this the way in which the apologist speaks of the baptism of Christ144
and the equipping of the apostles to preach in the whole world and to
perform nllracles,145 it is clear that in the backgrolml of his teaching and
speculation we can still find the biblical and early Christian kerygma of
the Father, who communicates himself for: the redemption of men in his
SOl1 Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. The constriction. of this to a
binitariarusill, and in c01~ul1ccion with this to a mbordinationism, about
which we shall soon have to speak. is a result of the serious concern of the
church after the middle of the second centw'y (Justin), down to the
period before Nicaea, to tJllnk through the kerygma of Fathcr-Son-
Spirit, presented in terms of the economy of salvation, in a theological
manner. The problems which Lactalltius finds are no greater than those of
his other: contemporaries, even if in some statements he comes sllspici-
ol1sly close to an Arian-type christo]ogy.

(e) Lactantills as a subordinationist

The weakest part of his teaching is the interpretation of the way in
which God brings forth the good and evil spirits:
Before God took in hand this work of (the crea.tion of) the world ... he brought forth
a spirit similar to him who was to be equipped with the powers of God the Father ...
then he created another ill which the divine ch:u:actcr (indoles dillinae stirpis) did not
abide. 146

142Wlosok I, 7.
l<lWlosok I. 7 :tnd 18 S. It would be worth investigating not only the c.ffccts ofbaptisill in Lactan-
tillS but also tlte probl(!111 of grace. cr. 11151. VII, S, 22 (600) : qllae milo tlOCl!I morfn/cUl IInscl llOlII/llrlll,
postea lIero i/lmorta/elll fieri, crl/l' cOeperil CJ> tleo IIll1t re ill esl i'l$IlIinm s~q/li. quae olll/llell/II' ill, r/n; willi.
(ifill e.Ycll/lJlori/ hominem dem nd tlsl'ecllIIlI ctldi (I' mi. qllod ",m fit, "'", /,0 1110 en /ll-Sli Imwero i"'ifiCll/lls
exPOII;! I'ifaliliam CIJ'" Olill/! laue Idtae prioris el i/lcrvmemo tll,dlli ltigori.1 nccfplo fil "~lII o pC~r<iCl"S '" plo/ll/s.
144 Cf. V. Loi. Laltlllz;o, 174~. with :In analysis of 11151. [V, 5. 3 (bapti5tll of Christ and ~he inter-
pretntion of Luke 3.22, with rcfercnce to the pantllds in Hilary).]. D o ignon. 'La scene tvangCl iquc
du bapt8mo de ]c~us commcntce p:tr L-t.ctnnce (Dildllae iltflitulioll cs 4. IS) ct HiJa'ire de Poirien (111
Mall/tafulII z, 5~)'. Epd~lnsis, 63-'73, does nOt agree with drawing this parnJJel.. Hilary is not oriented
on the e.,<mnt commentaries of Origcn on Matthew and Luke. but is primari ly inspired by the pages
which Tcrtullinn devoted (0 the scene o[ the bapti3m by the jorcbu. 'Ccpcndnnt, des catte prernic.[c
interprc.tIltion hil~ri enlle du Hnpt(:llle. se dc~inc un clfort d e pensec thCologiquc, qui, ell dcpit de
sour(;cs communes, comme Ie. TOll/moil in de Cypric:n. cree Ull ccart profoncl cmrc la manierc dont
Hllaire sait fairc s:us;r les dimensions myst6rieuses de h SCCl}e till Jourdain et In l'llanj/:re
encore tres apologcdqu.e dont L:!ctance entend refmer line intcrp r~tlltloll thallJllaturgique de In unis-
sallee du Chl'ist It h "puiss3nce celestc" , (73). Hilary gQCS more deeply into the specifically dlfisto-
logical problcllL'l.
J., Por rhe rheme of the Holy Spirit and, rhe scnding out of the disciples see Epit. 42, 3 (720-1);
Jlroj~Clllj Igilllr III Ga/ilaea/IJ pdlt resurreClioi,clIJ disciptllo.l 5110.1 .. ordftlala euatlgelii praedicaliolle per lolum
orucm Illspirallil ill eos splrlft/111 !nl ll/ lml M dedit eis pOleslMelll mirabiliajacielldi, III ill salulem homitlum tam
Jactis quam uerbis operarenlur.
146I'lSt. II, 8, 3-4: 129.

To one he gave his love as a good son, whereas he rejected (abdicauit)

the other as wicked.1 47 He returns to this doctrine in Institutiolles IV:
God. who brings about things aud gi'les- them their being (machinator constitutorque
rerum), as we said in our second book, brougllt forth a holy and incorruptible spirit
(SlIllC/UIIJ ct il1cormptibilclII spiritulll gCIIJJir) before he took in hand this glorious work, and
named llim Sou. And :llth.o ugh later hc created nmner us other (spirits), whom we name
angels, he thought only this firstborn (primogenitulII) to be worthy of the divine name, as
he delighted in the power and majesty of the Father.1 48
As witnesses to the supreme authority of this 'highest Son of God' (summi
dei filius), he introduces not only the testimony of the prophets, but also
his favourite authors, Hermes Trismegistus and the Sibyllines. The text
of Hermes tells the whole story:
Tile Lord and Cre.ator of the lI1llVel'SC, whom we rightly call God, when he had made
the second vi~ib.le m. d perceptible God ... when he had made this as the first and only
. ne, he :tppeared to him to be good (beautiful) and full of all goodness, so he loved him
completely and utte.d y as his o.oly child)49
With the Sibyllines, Lactantius calls him 'Son of God, leader and com-
mander of all'. Finally, there follows the quotation from Provo 8. 22-30
which the Arians were so fond of using in their arguments.1 50 This may be
sufficient to show the subordinationist doctrine ofLactantius. His doctrine
of the incarnation will suppl.ement it in some important ways. One sus-
piciolls pecwiarity of his teaching is the connection between the emerg-
ence of the ftrStborn and the second spirit, who is to tum to evil. The
connection between the birth of the SOil and the creation of the world
is also clearer than in the other Apologists. 151
(f) The second birth of the Son of God
The element in Lactantius' teaching which goes beyond a Hermetic
and Gnostic doctrine of revelation is the incarnation of Christ. To defend
it is as much Lactantius' concern as to interpret Christian monotheism,
which seemed to Gentiles and Jews to be infringed by the acceptance of a
147 Illst. II, 8, 7: 130--1 (see apparatus p. 131). This text has only been transmitted in certain codices
(R, S, g). Cf. V. Loi, Lattmlzio, 203, n. 2. 7 expresses the conjunction of the emergence of the Son
and the work of creation especially clearly: exorsus Igir"r tleusfal!ricam mUlldi ilium primum et maximum
praefecit operi ulliuerso eoque simu/ et cOllsiliatore usus e.51 ct artijice ill excogitalldis ordillalldisqlle perfici-
elldisque rebus, quolliam is et prouidentia et ratiolle el polrstare pcrftctus est .
148 Illst. IV, 6, 1-2: 286.
149 J/IJ/. IV. 6. 4: 286-8 (Greek text); H/j;l . 37, 4-S: 713 (Latin text) . The trans].tiou here jdlltro-
duced by dlC nOte that Plato 51,okl: of d1e first aL1d seconr! God (Slrftpos eros), not as a philosopher
but as a prophet, possibly follOWing the 'frisllIeglsrus. CE. Asc\cpius eh. 8: N ock- f-estu gicre 3. 3042~-
30Sl. Cr. Jincs 6-1:a. For this tex t, which speaks of man (and tbe world) as the image of God. but is
iuterpreted by L:tct:.1ntius in terms of the SOL1 of 'God , c n. P. FcsrugiCrc. La rifle/atloll d'Humes
Tri.!I~lilgis(e 3: Lrs doc/rlues de P:,ris 1.?5J. 36f. R. 'I'. Fcstugi.cre, La r.!IIr!/~lIioll T, P,nris ~950, lntr?~
dllctlOI' 1-44, shows how Crc"k mtJon:,ltsm was trn.ruformed mto :t doctnne ofrcyclatloll even 111'
Middle PlatoL1ism.
ISO Inst. IV, 6, 6: 290--1; M. Simonetti, Studi sull'Ariallesimo, Roma 1965, 32-7. Provo 8. 22ff. occurs
with variations in Cyprian, Test. II, I: CSEL III, I, p. 62.
151 Cf. the text cited above from Ilist. II, 8, 7.

Son of God. Lactantius found many Christians in confusion over the

Christian notion that God had enclosed himself in a woman's womb,
indeed that his heavenly majesty could be brought so low as death on the
cross.152 He too raised the question Cur deus hOl1lo?J 53 He has different
answers: Christ comes as a heavenly teacher on whom the Godhead con-
fers knowledge, immortality and power, so that he is perfect in life and
teaching. He is the bringer of divine lqlowledge, but is also himself the
convincing model of virtue. However, in order to provide this example,
he had to assume a visible and mortal body.154 There would be no sense
i l l God coming in his deity. Thus Lactantius' Christ is not merely a
revealer. There is an important emphasis on the earthly fate of the
revealer to the point of his death on the cross.
Thus it is quite clear that the one who is to be the guide oflifc and teacher of righteous-
ness mllst be corporeal. Otherwise his teaching cannot be full and perfect, and carmot
gain firm roots in thc grollnd so as to remain firmly anchored among men. Be must take
upon himself the weakness of the flesh and the body, hut also the power to teach in word
and deed that in which he has comc to ins.wct LIS. Similarly, he had to be subjected to
deach and to all suffering, because vlrtue is proved both in bearing suffering and in
accepting death.. As we have said, the perfect teadler must bear all this, so that he can
teach liS how to bear it. I.5S
The significance of the incal11ation is thus the 'proving of a heavenly
being in corporeality so that he becomes a model to instruet fallen man'.
This is not a 'proving' that could be ascdbed to a mere man, so that
becoming equa l to God was his reward: Lactantius does not speak of
proving in this 'Antiochene' sense. Rather, the subject of the proving is
the being that comes down from above.
When God saw the growth of evil and the cult of false gods among
men, spread over the whole earth (even the Jews were not excepted from
the general apostasy): I S6
IS> C the problems which Lactantius indicmcs in 111$1. IV, 202, 3-5: 369: /lega/l/ fieri po/ursse, 11/
/la/urae illmorlali qu;cquam decederel. /legant deI/iI/lie dro. digfllll/l lit 1101110 flaill ellot seqll~ ilifJrlllilare camls
olteraret, ut pass;o/libus, ut dolori, ut morti se ip.fc slIbherel . .. ]jut the C:;odhca.d displays itself prc(isc:ly
in all these things (/Ie deum quidem potuisse tm/(, 51 ell Ipsa ql/ae argl/ II/ada /10/1 CSSUJlI. Ibid., .n. 6) .
153 Ibid.
114 Epit. 45, 4-: 7203"-7246.
III hlt/.IV, 204. 19: 375. Lact:mtius goes all to the defeusive to the degrec tMt hcjusnfies the death
of Christ on the cross by saying that tIlis kind of death made the resurrectioll. possible. Scattering the
bones or dCCD.pitJtioll would have created djfficultics. Cf. l11s/. IV, 26, ~4---4.2-: 38.14-3841': Epll. 46, 3:
724. The cross was chosen becnuse it combined humil iation with the l'cvclntion of majesty (Epit. 46,
4-8: 7:l4f.). It is a symbol of the universality of n:clelll.prion (;East-Wcst) : lils/. IV, 26, 36: 383; cf.
1P (SC 27) nQ. 51, 9-10: I77l2-178 10
III Lactantius makes a distillction ill the history oft,ue reli gion nnd in the prehistory ofChrutinnity
between the role of the Hebr~ws and that of the Jews, The Hebrews: pt'llts 1110$ rdiglo del remlil (fIi SI.
II, 13.8); pOlles solos HebrMos rellgio dci IIImlsit, gIll tamen 11011 lege aliqllQ, sed Iradillllll sib/ pcr SlIc(cssiOlltS
tIIllIIIII patr/o lIIorc telll/mUlI IIsque ad Id tcmp"s, qllO- de AegyplO e;o;;un/lll tillre primo ol/l" IIIm pro-
phe/arum, pcr quem iil;s lex fsl a deo Illposiia . (Epi/. 38, 3); thc Jews: /ri, qlli I11dad 511111 POl//110dlllll
lIom/llall, se",lmm/ {gi/'" i1~o ulllwlis legis obslrial. &d idem pll/llatl,lI ad prof4llo~ ritus nberrallics alimas
d~oj Sll:rc~pcrllll/ ~I i1craliclo palrlo cul/ll i/l~cmilJlllblls simu;llcr/$ Immo/lll/Crtlill (Epit. 38, 3-4). Accordillg to
V. Loi, Latta/lzlo, 2-40, I,acta fltlu~ h~re is following an apo.logctic tmditioll ofJewish odgin Which set
out to SllOW that Hebrew ID.Ollothci,sm was earlic.c than polytheism. ThiS distillCtiOU bctwecn.Iicbrcws

Then God sent his Son, the prince of angels (flI'incipv/TI Gl1geloTIIIIJ), to men so that he
might turn them from their godless and vain cul ts to the knowledge and w orship of the
one true Cod ... . Now thi ($on) remained faithfu l to God: fo r he taught th.u there is
only one God and that he alone may be worshipped; and he never nam ed himself God,
because (otherwise) he w ould n ot have kept fai thful, had he (the one who was sent to
leacl men 'away from the many gods and to proclaim the one God) introduced any other
God beside the One. That wou ld Il o t have bccl! proclamation (praecol1ium) of the one
God who SCIlt him, but the pursuit of his own concern and a separation from the one
whom he had cOTlle to iJlumim\te (que/ll irrlll~lrnltl/lll/eIlCrl1t). Therefore because he remained
so faithful, becau.~e he made no claims for himself, so that he might completely fulfil the
task for w hich he had bee.l1 sent, he received the rank of eternal priest and supreme king
and rhe autbority of judge and the name of God.1 57

This text also looks very like a 'proving', the instrument of which is
the will of the pre-existent Christ and not a human will.
Thus the supreme Father commanded him to descend to earth and assume a human
body, so that he, subjected to the suffering (passions) of the flesh, might teach power and
paticll,cc not onJy in words, but also in deeds.l58

Lactantius does not seem to indicate either explicitly or implicitly that

the incarnate Christ could also assume a human soul. The more Lactantius
understands the 'Son' of God in subordinationist terms, the easier he
could make the serrno, the Son or the Logos the instrument of that
exemplary conduct which was to bring salvation to men. The name
jesus' characterizes him as this redeemer of all who proves himself in
suffering; the name 'Christ' indicates that he is king of the end time and
ruler of an eternal kingdom.ls9 Philippians 2. 5-II lurks behind this
christology of the name.
For all the peculiarities in his cI oice of sources, and the strange em-
phases in his christology which they produce, traditional forms neverthe-
less emerge which distinguish Lactantius clearly enough from the Gnostics
and Arians. The Son is pre-existent, born of God before the world
(and thus llot a 'creature' in the real sense), but also born in time. Here
Lactantius attaches importance to quite specific chronological details.l60
This twofold birth161 does not destroy the unity of Christ: 'The same is
Son of God and Son of Man'-an important statement.

and Jews also appears in Eusebius (DE r, "i PB VIT, 8). f. J. Sirincll i, 1' lIfS hlstoriques d'Busebe de
Cesaree duralllia plriode prellict!cllIIe. Dabr 196L, 46-63: asp. 42-6]. Lact~ lI t i1l 5 rhell moves on past the
history of the prophets to the sending of the 'on of God in dlC incamatioJ:\ (BpI!. 38, 5-9, probably
with Luke 20. 1O-I3, parable of the hmb:tndlll QII, as a b<lckground).
157IIlSt. IV, I4, I 7-20 : 32817-32923.
1'8 Bpit. 38 (43), 8: 7I5.
159 Bpit. 37, 9: 7I322-7I43.
160 Bpit. 38 (43), I: 7I4: Sed lIe qua forte sit apud te ilaesitatio, cur eum qui atlle mUlldum ex deo lIatus sit
Iesum <Christum) appellamus, qui dllte ail/lOS CCC IJallls ex ilomille cst, ratiO/lem tilli breuiter expollam.
161 Illst. IV, 8, I: 295: Itl primis ellim tcstificamur ilium bis esse lIatum, primum i/l spiritu, postea ill carne.
2 : qui cum esset a prillcipio filius dei, regmeratlls est denuo seculldum camem. quae duplex natiuitas eius
magllum intulit humallis pectoribus errorem circunifuditque tenebras etiam iis qui /lerae religionis sacramenta
Par he is born twice (bis ~II;,II IIatlls est) , first of God in the spirit (that is, according to
the Godhead) before the origin of the world, and then in the flesh of men under the rule
of Augustus. This is a great andjrofol,lnclmyster y which contains the salvation of man,
the worship of the supreme Go and all truth)62
In his birth from God and by his birth from the virgin Jesus appears as
'heavenly man' (homo caelestis). Again this statement has a soteriological
But so that his being sent from God might be secure, he could not be born as other
men, compounded from two morbi clements (ex IlIorlnli It/roque concretus); so that ho
might be seen by to be heavenly, he (i.e. the manhood ofJesus) was cre3~ed without
a begetter. He had God as his spiritual (i.e. divine) Father, and j ust as God (i.e. the Father)
is father of his deity without a mother, so the mother of his body ,is the Virgin, without
a father. So as God and man he was set in the midst (meditls) between God and man,
wherefore the Greeks call him IlEOIT11S, so that he could lead men to God, i.e. to ilrunor-
taHty. For had he only been God ... he would. not h ave been able to give mell the
example ofviI:tue; ifhe h;ld only been man, he could not have led (cogeret) melllO righte.-
OUSnesS; in additioll t'here had to be superhuman authority and virtl1c.l<il

The following soteriolof5ical considerations provide a parallel: man

consists of body and spirit (and the body involves the spirit in death). So
redemption has to come through Christ, composed of a divine spirit and
(earthly) body.164 This soteriology is thus based on an implicit Logos-sarx
framework. Had Lactantius reflected here on the problem of a luunan
souL, his picture of Christ and his soteriology would have broken down.
But his picture is in fact a simple one: 'Therefore (the mediator) clothed
himself with flesh so that he might tame the lusts of the flesh and thus
teach that man does not sin of necessity, but with deliberate will.'w The
one who proved himself ill the struggle against the lust of the Besh is
clearly not, for Lactalltius, the human will, but the spirit COI11e down
from above, the senna of the Father, garbed ill human flesh. Granted, this
spirit proceeded from God before the creation, but this was in connection
with the creation and not from eternity; Lactantius docs not say whether
his emergence is dependent on the free decision of the Father, though he
does stress freedom explicitly in his definition of the supreme GOd.l66
This freedom could also be related to the production of the spl:rillls-sernlO.
162 Epit. 38,2 : 714 : Idem cst dd er hOllllllisfilills. his c,,1111 IInlllS est: prillllllll de r/uo ;" splril" allU or/IIIII
"'WUIl, jIOSlmor/"", ;11 came r:~ Ilom;llc Auguslo illlpcralllD. "dll5 Tei prnec/" flllII el grmldc IIIlsleriUlII cst, II/
ql/o CI sorm hOllllm",1 cl re/ig io sWI,lm j elrl CI 0 1/11//.1 flcrila,~ 'Olll illell/T.
161 IIISI. IV, 2S, 3-5: 376: cf. Ep il. 38, 3-9: 7TS. In lri.tI. IV, 24, 1-19. Lactantiu5 so to speak scts out
thc (J priori conditions which a doctor prrfic,"s must fulfil fOf mnnkind: fillgnllllls nliqllcm de coelo csse
mt'llcllllwlI,I]II/ IIil'WI hamilllllll melimelllis IIjrllltis ill.~r;lIIat ct ad {lIStilitlIll Jo mlcl. Neither a purdy earthly
110r a purely heavenly teacher is enough. The long paragraph etld.~ in I 9 (375): lilJII;do igl'tllr apparel
ellm qlll lIiroe dl/x ct IlIsliline sit /llIIgisler corporalem esse QPOrlerc IICC aliler fieri l'0ss III sil /lUllS fileI/O et
perjecla f1octri"n habuntqlle radicUIII ocjrllldalllCllllII1I 5lniJiU!quc npl/I hOlllillts aeiixa permallent, IpSlI1lI nlllrlll
I I/blre CMlils eI corporis il/bccilli latulII IIlrll/wllqlle ill Ie ro't/perc wll/s rloclor csl, ul calli $1111111 ell/cruis dOGcat at
Jnclis; ilelll III~it'CIIIII/ eise 1II0rli el pnssiollUJ/lS e/llrelis, quoII/alll et ill /Insslolle to/cf(/I/dn al ill morlc 51/belil/da
I/irllltis o.Oicin l/erSa/1II1F. ql/ae (1I/1I11n 1/1 dlxl (oII511111111ntll5 doc/or pcrJcrrc debcl, 1/1 dotenl posse perjarrl.
164 IIISI. IV, .2.5, 6-8 : 376f. I ~S Iliid, no. 8: 377.
166 1,/S1, rv, 29. n : 393f. : 1111115 eSl8l1 rlll, SoII/S, IIber, dCIIS.sIIIIIII"'~, (tlretlSorig /lle, qllia illse origo rerulll
el III eo simu/ etfilius e/ otllllia cOl/til/eIIlur.

When the spiritus, understood in a subordinationist way, becomes man,

the result is indeed a superhuman being, a homo cae/estis, but he is still only
a 'middle being' between the supreme God and the creation. The designa-
tion I-\EcriTT]S for the incarnate Christ also introduces some incidental
obscurities. Although this Christ has many traditional features, he is
dangerously near to becoming a mythical being. Arianism is only a step


One especially complex figure from the time immediately before and
immediately after Nicaea is Asterius the Sophist (died soon after 341). He
is complex, in that on the one hand it can be demonstrated that he put
forward strictly Arian teaching, particularly in his Syl1tagmatiol~, which
was written before Nicaea, while on the other hand homilies on the
Psalms and a series ofEa ter sermon are ascribed to him which evidently
must be put after 335 and display throughout a pre-Nicene, orthodox
christology, which is archaic in many of its features. 161 In comparison
with Eusebius of Cacsarea, his friend, Asterius is heretical in the Syntag-
marion, but in his homilies he is luore a man of the church and more
orthodox than Eusebius. Philostorgius records a change in Asterius'
attitude to Arianism,168 but can an author change from a decided advocacy
167 For what follows see M . Richard, Asrerli Sopll/slae COllllllclllnriorl/l1l ;11 Psnlmos qllae supewlllt.
Acccdlllli aliqllor "oml/ioe nnollymaE. SymbOs) Fasc. Suppl. XVI, Oslo 1956; also E. Sknl'd, Irldex
11s/orlmws (Judex de l't!diriVH d'AsIUifls Ie SopTIlJrc tfrablio pnr Marcel Ric/utrd ... ). SymbOsl Fasc. Supp!.
XVIl. Oslo I962. For the history of resenl'ell and the vnriom cdition5 see: (I) G. 13ardy, 'ruttrius.!e
Saphiste'. RHE 22, 1926, 221~2 ; id. , Rec/lerdlOs sflr S. Luciell ;1'A1ll1o,lt~ et SOlI 'colr, Paris 1936,
316-57; (2) M. Richard, 'Les no.rutl ie! d'Astcrius h: Sophiste sur leI J?snumcs IV- VII', RB 44, 1935,
548-58: id., 'Une O"llcicnnc colleotion d'Jlolllcues grecqucs sur lc~ psnumes I-XV ', SymbOs/z5, 1947.
54~3: id., 'Le rc:cuc~l d'hotrullics d' Astcrius Ie Sophis!e', $ylllbOs/ 29, 1952, 93-11 ; id., 'Nouvea.ux
temoins des homclies V ct XX d'Ast~ri\ls Ie Sophiste sur les psallffics', SymbOs/ 34, 1958, S4~: id. ,
'L'l~omclic XXXI d'Aro!rim 1e Sophlste et Ie Codex: MosqllOllsi~ 234', SymuOs/36, 1960.96-8. (3) E .
Skard, 'Astcrios Vall Arnasda lind Asterios der Sophist', SymbO,l lo, 1940, 86-132; id., .8 elllctkun~ell
xu den Asterios-Texten', SymbOsl27, 1949, 54-69 : id., 'Zu Astc[ios', SymhOs/ 34,1958,58-66. (4) S.
Ejo:em, 'Zu Asterios Sophistes, Hom. xxn', SymbOsl 36, T960, 127. Studies: H. Auf der Maur, Die
OsterTlomilirll des Asraios SopTds/es nls QuelleJilr die GescTllcll/e du Os/crJder (Trierer Theel. Srudien .19),
Trier I967; furtllcditcrature on p. xv. Also M arie-Joscphe Rondeau, 'Le "CommcJll':l!rc dcsl'saumcs"
de Diodore de T:mc I-Ill', R<'vHis/R~1176 , 1969. 5-23. 153-88; 177, I970, 5- 33. Cn the: studies listed
above there has been a disctrnion between M. Richard and E . Skard over rhe authenticity ofHoniilies
VI-XI (all Ps. S), also Hmnili(:s X aud XXII. Richard still has doubts o\'cr Hom. 1 (pp. 1-4) and Hom .
XXIV (182-7), aud I'c~crvations on Homilies X and XXVII. RCSC!1.rcn is not yet complete.
lIS PhilosIOrgiu5,I:IEJI, L5: Did~Winkclmanl1. 2,52.l- 7: u;\M 6ft Kat TOV 'Arlp'ov napaTpt'l'al TO
IPpOVllllCl unap6:I\I\QXTOV , {K6va TOV naTpo, oilol~ ,Ivai TOV vlov ~v Tol, aUTCO MYOI, lIal yp6:~~aO',
6Ia~aflTvpoull'vov. Asterius changed his mind and in his discourses and writ.ings designates the Son ns
tnc identicnl image of the substance of the Granted, this expression emmot be demonstrated ill
rhe texts edited by Richard, but it occurs ill the fragmcnts produced by Marcellus of Ancyra (accord-
ing to Eusebius, CM fmg. 96: Klosccrmann- Hmsen , 205 30) . cr. G. I3nrdy, RechmllCs, 349f.. who
takes lip the same fragme11t rrom Acacius . Contfn Marctllwn, according to Epiphnnius, Hiler, LXXII
8 (not 6) (Hol l, EpiplrauiHs m, 262.). Cf. below on the so-called second creed of Antioch. O(counc. it
should be noted that in the text ofPhilostorgim it i~.possiblc that N oomilliu$ or Numcnius should be
read iU.5ccll.d ofAstcrius. Cf. loe. cic., apparanls and Winkelmann, 347, with to Koctschau
and Didez.

of Arianism to so naive an orthodox and pre-Nic~ne christology, at the

time of the vigorous disputes surrounding Nicaea, without displaying
some of the spiritual struggles he has been through? This psychological
dilemma is all the more acute, as Asterius the Sophist maintained the
closest links with his Arian friends right until his death.1 69
The riddle remains insoluble when one considers the various expedients
which have been _adopted to reach some answer:
(r) Were the Easter homilies.reaUy written between 335 and 34r? Not
all the reasons advanced for this late dating are compelling.170 However,
various passages from Jerome seem to be decisive support for a late
dating. l7l

169 Cf. Athanasius, De SYllOrI. 18,2-3: Opitz A W II, I, 9, p. 245, where there is an account of As-
terius' origin in Cappadocia, his many-headedness (TTOAUKE<pCXAOS ao<plaTfjs), his place in the group
around Eusebians of Nicomedia, and then his travels through Syria and other churches (always in
association with the Eusebians), where he delivered his SYlltagmatioll. Socrates, HE I, 36: Hussey I,
164-5, has an abbreviated resume of this report.
170 Cf. H. Auf der Maur, Die OsterhomiliCII, 8-10. He takes the years 325-41 as the approximate
period of the origin of the Homilies on tbe Psalms (in distinction to the !:tStcr bonliUes w filch are
contained in them). As the author takes Philosrorgius' rl:port of lI.stcrius' ahandoulncnt of Ari:uri5m
seriously, he thinks that he must limit the tiI;ue of [he origin of tllese writings to the period bctwccl1
335 and 341. Hom. II, 21 (Richard, 133-10) then gives n !pecial poin.t of contact for dating. He
thinks that he can read out of the homily that the feast of Easter was recognized as EOpTTt TTavOIl~OS by
the heads of state. But it should first be noted that the mention of royal usages in 'popular festivals' is
only in VCl;)' general terms, cspecinllyns rega.rds the freeing of prisoners, could also take place
in pagan times. A condusionis tltem drawn from this to Christ's liberating actiollS 011 the feast of the
(rede~ptive:) passioD. TIle ,tlutl.lor's sr.atcmeo:s (p. X3, n. 3) nrc ther:fore probably too strong 'Yhen he
says: ... before Const:l11t1llC It W:LS lDtoncclvabl ~ that the heads of state would have recogmzed the
feast of E3st~ as ~opTI) 1Ta.BIl1l0S, much \css that lhey would have L,kcn notice of it in practice.'
However, even if a connection between the 'feast of Easter' and a 'general popular festival' cannot be
read out of this text of Asterius, Auf der Maur is right in suggesting that with Constantine a new
relationship begins between the emperor and his officials and Christian festivals. In our text special
mention of the governor is made in connection with Easter: 'Christ has anticipated what the gover-
nors do among us at Easter: they strike no one, and free those who are fettered in prison' (Richard,
13 8- 10). It is unnecessary to suppose that such conditions could only obtain in. the period after 325,
much less in the period after 335. As early as the year 321 we have a decree of Constantine about
rest on the dies solis, which is incorporated in the Cod. lust. (3, 12,2), and has heen interpreted in terms
of the Christian Sunday (see the early history of this in Coleman-Norton, 83f.). However, more
weighty and clearer evidence than this decree is the fact that Eusebius, Vita COlIst. IV, 23 (Heikel,
1263- 6) associates this document with a statute of Constantine whose wording is no longer extant,
but whose content is reproduced in Eusebius. In it, the Archontes menti(lued by Asterius are com-
manded to observe the feasts of martyrs and to honour the feasts of the church: Kcxl "TOlS KCXT' eavos
0' c5:pxoualv 6~01ws TTtV KUP1CXKTtV f]~~pcxv v6~os E<pOI.CX YEPCXIElV' 01 0' Q"\JTol VEV~CXTI j3cxalAEws Kcxl
~CXpTVPWV f]~~pcxs hl~wv KCX1POVS "TE EOPT"'V ~KKAllalcxs ~06~CX30V, 1TaVTCX "TE j3cxalAEl KCXTCXaU~IWs "TeX
"T01CXVTCX E1TpaTTETo. Among these can be included the feast of Easter, as t.oe chief Christian feast. AU
this only means that in the light of the legislation of Constantine, Hom. n, with its reference to the
observance of Easter, could even be ante-Nicene.
171 Jerome, De vir. ill., 94: Ricnardson, TV 14, 1896, 46: Asterius, Aria/we philosoph us jactiollis,
scripsit, regllallle COllstalltio, In epistulam ad Romanos elln .Ev:mgC\ia ct In PS:l.hnos 'Ollllllclllnrios eJ /IlIIIta
alia, quae a suae partis homilliblls sturliosissime legulltur. td., EI" Jt2, 20 : CSEL 55. 390: ... mflxilllt ill
explal1atiolle psalmorum, quos apurl Graecos illterpretati Will 1Il1lltis' 1I011ll1J{IJib IJS primlls Origeucs, seCIIllrllls
Eusebius Caesariellsis, tertius Theorlorus Herac/eotes, quartus Asterius Scyt/lOpolita, quilltus Apollillaris
Laorlicenus, sextus Dirlymus Alexallrlrinus. Ferulltur et rliuersorum in pall cos psalm os opuscula, sed I1UIIC rle
Inlegro psnlmoru", 'orpnr~ rlie/IIIIIS. C;:f. H. Auf dc, M aur, Die Osterlla/Ili1/eII, 6. There arc two striking
[hillS'S inEp. HZ: (1) t11.1.tJ emmc emlll1CrnrC5 the .psalm cOllll11cllmrics in chrollologicaJ order. AsteriuN
comes a(rcl' Ellscbius of C:lcs:rrca. Por the: d:tting of Ellscbius" commentary, Marie-]O$cphc Rondeau,
'Le "COlllmentUte des Psaumes" de .Diodor.: de Tarse et l't..'Ccgese antique du Psa\unc I09/IIO (II)"
ReI1HislReI 176, 173: 'oeuvre difficile ~. dater, cl!1:tainemcnt post~rieu:re aLDt Eclogae, ab.ljrt!pnrali~!I

(2) If one accepts the late dating of the homilies edited by M. Richard,
some other way must be found of solving the dilemma:
(a) Perhaps the homilies were in fact delivered in the period before
Nicaea and 'edited' after Nicaea, without being revised in an Arian
(b) Perhaps the homilies, too, were originally permeated with Arian
ideas, and were then 'purged' in the course of the tradition. At any rate,
the question of manuscripts and the textual. history outlined by M.
Richard raises grounds for doubt. But would such a 'revision' of the
homilies, which to our eyes have a quite uniform christology, not be
more decisively along the lines established by Nicaea? Would not the
last trace of subordinationism be blotted out?172
(c) Finally, one could point to the very different literary genres of the
SYI7.tagmatiorl and the homilies. The SYILtagmatioll is a brief account of
the chief Arian doctril1es, so to speak, for theological discussion. What
was said and written here did not need to be preseuted to the pc pie in
worship. We do in fact have variotls analogous instances of uch a dis-
crepancy during the Arian struggle: namdy between guite orthodox
sounding Credos (say .in Eusebius, Acius, Marcellus of Ancyra) 173 and
the general theology of these men. It was theref0re possible to speak in
quite orthodox terms and to 'interpret' in quite a different way-an
art which has been cultivated in the history of theology right down to
modern times. In the psalm homilies, which have been ascribed to
Asterius the Sophist, we have 'sermons that were really given', and not
a (commentary on a school'.
The rhetorical style itself is decisive. The author often turns to his audience .... The
term 'commentaire' which Richard uses is probably to be understood in a wider sense:
these are sermons which comment on Psalms 1-20. In contrast to the Easter homilies,
which are also psalm homilies, we shall use the term psalm commentary in the sense
described above.174

ct ~ la D~1I10/lslmtloll, mnismalaisec asimer par rapport atJ COl/Ira Mnmllllm (vcrs 336) ct ~ 1a TMoJogie
fCt/(slaSlilJlle.' Cf. id., 'Ulle nQuvelle prtul1e de l'iufitJcnce liucraire d'ElIscbc de: Cesa.rce sur A,thaJ)3Se:
l'il1terpr~tatioll des ps:rumcs', RSR S6, r968 , 385- 43[' csp. 4:z.o, n. 60 (cnwnemtion of the various
opinions) and 42of(, further discussion of lhe dating. In J erome, Ep. 112. , Astcrius and Theodore of
HCr.lc1cia in Tht ate (bi ~hop the.rc from 335-55) should probably be interchanged. C. Jeromc, De lIir.
Ill., 90: Richardson, 45; J. Rcu$s, Mnltf,iiuskollJlII(///art tHIStier ;:r;cc/tisc/IC/I Klrche U 61), Berlin 1957,
XXVI-XXIX. (2) Por Asterius' ni ckn~m e 'Scythopolita', which is derived from alcngthy
stay there (Palestine), sCC G. n~rdy, RCc/I ~tdles, 329f. T he evidence of Jerome. especially Ef!. II2,
suggests that Astcrius' psalm COOllilCm:lry should be put ill the years 336-41. We could. however, at
least ask wheth\:1' ';11 Psallllos commcntarij' refers to the ROI/li/ks 011 the psalms. T he title of M.
Rlchard's edition (see above), suggests that he ar lean is of this opinion. On this cf. Allf doc Maur,
op. cit., 7.
m Interestingly. M. Ridl..,rd brackets off:J. hOllloous;os which occurs in HOII/. XVIl (132.10 1.), and
suggests instead O:y"'TTl1-roS as n possiblotcading.lIlHolII. xxxr, S (244 16), he would like to replace it by
crvvepyos ~CJTIv. following the corrigenda inludcx Asteriol/lls by E. Icud, '14.
11l cr. H. G. Opitz, AW m, t, I: documenl6 (creed of AL"ius, etc.);.III, 1, l: doclHl1~nt .2.2 (Euscbius
of Caesarca). For Marcellus of f1.ncy rn see below.
'74 H. Auf dcr Maur, Di~ Os/crf,omWel1, 8.
But could so close a friend of the Arians take such a course of action,
speaking in such a 'conservative' way and inwardly thinking in very
different terms? It should also be noted that the last influence of Asterius
of which we hear concerns the literary genre of a creed, in the frame-
work of the Synod of Antioch in 341.
Bardy ascribes to the influence of Asterius and. to th:1.t ofEusebius of Constantinople,
who was also present, the two last surviving representatives of the Lucian.ic circle, the
fact that the Synod accepted the LL1ci4nic Creed instead of the Nicene Creed, a creed
Inoreover which conesponcis completely with fragments of works of Astecius fr0111
his extreme Arirul period. 17S
In short, the great difficulties have not been resolved. Was Asterius really
'converted' from Arianism to the (relative) orthodoxy of the homilies on
the Psalms? Are these homilies preserved with their original text? Has the
question of authenticity been satisfactorily resolved for the bulk of these
homilies? Despite this doubt, it is interesting to examine the christology
of the homilies Oll the Psalms. We shall take it as evidence of a complex
person and a still morc complex century; we shall take it as .it is, as the
expression of a Christian proclamation which is ante-;Nicene in spirit,
chiefly inspired by scripture alJd the liturgy, and it will remind us once
agajn of the church's kerygma before and arowld Nicaea.
Asterius the Sophist was first a non-Christian orator il1 Cappadocia,17()
Mter his conversion to Christianity, he was given the title of 'the Sophist'.
In the persecution of Maximian he weakened and offered sacrifice. This
I7S Ibid. 5-6, with reference to G. Bardy, Recherches, 125-7. See now J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christiall
Creeds, London 19723, 268-72. For the connection with Lucian, ibid., 268: 'There is an ancient
tradition tbat the creed ofLucian of Antioch underlies this formu la, and the possibility that it has some
link with him cannot be dismJssed.' Reference to G. Bnrdy, Recherches, SSIf. But Kelly. op. cit., 270,
stresses: Arianism proper is excluded, ami the creed piles up descriptions ofrhc Son as UNALTllllADI.B
AND UNCHANGEIlIJLB and WHO WAS IN TBll BEGINNING WI1:11 GOO, as well as putting a ban on several
Arian doctrines in the concluding section of tl1C nnilthcmas.' nut Kelly also rightly shows th:lt the
Arim! could have digested this creed of Antioch by their own interpretation. He al$o shows tl,l C
conneccioru with Asteriu. and stresses the anti-So belJian ar,d :ISlti-MarceLli3l1 chnracter of the cccecl.
The best exp!auntion of the rclatioruhip of tillS creed to Luci:tn, ElI5cbius, Asterius ~nd their views is
due it com,e.I from l COounOll rOOt, which Kelly, 271, describes as follows: 'Positively it has n mark-
edly Origenist flnvour, as indeed its use of Col. I, 15 shows. Its guiding conception is of three quite
separate-hypostases, each possessing its own subsistence and rank and glory, but bound into a unit; by
a common harmony of will. Tins reproduces exnctJy what OCigen had taug ht w hen he spoke a the
Pathcc and the Son as being "two things in subsistence, but one in ngreement and luu:mony and
identity of will" .... T he synod was working witJl a tJleology which, while by no means sympa-
thetic to Arianism, was ~ubOfdin:atiollist and pre-Nicone.' The mor.c we a.sUme [hat Asteri us had D
lund in. the fonnacion of thLs creed, the more the pre-Nicene (Origcmistic) cilnra.c tcr of his theology
Is confirmed, CVCtlartcr 335. Por the idea of the harmony of the three hypmtll5cs iII God according to
Asterlus cf. the index in Klostcrrnann-Hnll'l<!n, 254-, OVll'1'cuvtoo, tru~cp(o)v la.
116 cr. Socrates,HE I, 36: Hussey I, 164-5: IJslcrills quldalll /11 Cappai/ocillllrlem rlleloriC<1111 decem, ea
relfcllI, ClrrlstiruwlII re/t~lollelll prajilerl ,ofpll. Libras e/illlll s"iucre nggreS!lIs W Ijllieri(!/111/11//1 /taUt'IIII";
quiulls Ar/l dogma asser('bnl: ChrlsllIlII dieMS esse vlr/l/lem DC'I codelll lIIodo, qllo IOCi/sla 0/ bmerrs apI/II
Moysolll vir/liS D(i eS.le dfe;tllr: alinqlle liis Sillii/ili. Vcrsnbnlllr ali/t ill aS5id"e Idclll klt'r/II.! CIIIII ep/seepls. ae
11mcclpllf (11m II1ls qlll apil/iollCIII Ad/ millime reiiclebnll/. Quia rllmll od sYl/ol/os fre'll1ells velltnbat. nd
cpl'scapnt"", C"illspialll civitotis StilI/ellS IIrrepere. Vcrull/ /lie .' ncudoriJlIII qIJitlclIIlIIllI/mc cst aSSOCI/IllS, to quod
porscm/iollis lemporo SIIcrijiCIIS'<Ci. Urbes aU/WI Syriae pera.grmls, libras qllos COl/lpOSllcrat, publice ,,e;labnt.
cr. above Athnnnsius, De sytlod. IB, 2-3.

was held against him all his life by his opponents, and prevented him from
being ordained or becoming a bishop.l77 Under the influence of his teacher,
Lucian of Antioch, 178 he retracted his apostasy and repented. From this
Antiochene circle he came into contact with the Alexandrian presbyter
Arius and his friends. He himselfbecam,e an Arian. as his SYl7fngmation, on
which Athanasius had de igns, and the scanty fragments transmitted by
Marcellus of Ancyra. ShOW. 179 These texts will be discussed in connection
with Arianism. For the moment we shall attempt to demonstrate the
christology of the homilies on the Psalms edited by M. Richard. In some
respects they recall the tradition from Asia Minor which we already
know, and in individual formulas they even recall the rhetoric and
christology of Melito of Sardes. But we must pay closer attention to this
context and justify it. ISO
In the first homily, over whose authenticity there is, of course, some
doubt, we find the testimonium from Isa. 2. 3 which is often quoted in
early christology, with a contrast of Nomos and Logos:
And who else is this Nomos but Christ, the one who is inexpressibly begotten of the
Father, who is not written on carved tables? For out of ion goes forth the Jaw and the
Word of the Law from Jerusalem (Isa. 2. 3). He is called 'law' because he bears the Father's
will in himself, and 'Logos' as the one who is inseparable from the Father.l Sl
The statement about the inexpressible begetting of the Word is sig-
nificant here. as it is sllrely quite lll1-Ariatl. Even if this text could not be
attributed to Asteeins, it has a parallel ill Homily XVI, 8, which is re-
garded as genuine. In cOUllection withJer. 2. 21 (the planting ofche fruit-
ful vine) it reads: ' ... there carne the only-begotten vine, which theFather
had begotten above in an expressible way, who caused the virgin land
below to spring forth without seed' .182 TIllS is all allusion to the begetting
of the Son from the Father and the virgin birth ofJesus from Mary. In the
continuation of this important sentence the soteriological and ccdcsio-
logical dimension of the incarnation is well expressed, in a thorough
interpretation of the image of the vine and what happens to it:
177 HE 1,36, flirthor dtban., D~ dcer. Nic. SYII. 8: Opitz, AW II, I, 3, p. 720 ('Acntptos b &VC1OS); C.
Ariall. II, 24 : PG 21), 2ooA; Dd syuod. 18; Opitz, AW II, 1,9: pp. 245-6; EpipllJln., Haeres. 76, 3:
Holl, p. 343:tJ-4: aportasy ulldcr Maximjan; Philostorgiu