Catholic Encyclopedia 


Christology is that part of theology which deals with Our Lord Jesus 
Christ. In its full extent it comprises the doctrines concerning both 
the person of Christ and His works; but in the present article we shall 
limit ourselves to a consideration of the person of Christ. Here again 
we shall not infringe on the domain of the historian and Old-Testament 
theologian, who present their respective contributions under the 
headings JESUS CHRIST, and MESSIAS; hence the theology of the Person of 
Jesus Christ, considered in the light of the New Testament or from the 
Christian point of view, is the proper subject of the present article. 
The person of Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Most Holy 
Trinity, the Son or the Word of the Father, Who "was incarnate by the 
Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man." These mysteries, 
though foretold in the Old Testament, were fully revealed in the New, 
and clearly developed in Christian Tradition and theology. Hence we 
shall have to study our subject under the triple aspect of the Old 
Testament, the New Testament, and Christian Tradition. 
From what has been said we understand that the Old Testament is not 
considered here from the viewpoint of the Jewish scribe, but of the 
Christian theologian. Jesus Christ Himself was the first to use it in 
this way by His repeated appeal to the Messianic passages of the 
prophetic writings. The Apostles saw in these prophecies many arguments 
in favour of the claims and the teachings of Jesus Christ; the 
Evangelists, too, are familiar with them, though they appeal less 
frequently to them than the patristic writers do. Even the Fathers 
either state the prophetic argument only in general terms or they quote 
single prophecies; but they thus prepare the way for the deeper insight 
into the historical perspective of the Messianic predictions which 
began to prevail in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Leaving 
the statement of the historical development of the Messianic prophecies 
to the writer of the article MESSIAS, we shall briefly call attention 
to the prophetic predictions of the genealogy of Christ, of His birth, 
His infancy, His names, His offices, His public life, His sufferings, 
and His glory. 
(1)   References to the human genealogy of the Messias are quite 
numerous in the Old Testament: He is represented as the seed of the 
woman, the son of Sem, the son of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the son of 
David, the prince of pastors, the offspring of the marrow of the high 
cedar (Gen., iii, 1-19; ix, 18-27; xii, 1-9; xvii, 1-9; xviii, 17-19; 
xxii, 16-18; xxvi, 1-5; xxvii, 1-15; Num., xxiv, 15-19; II Kings, vii, 
1-16; 1 Par., xvii, 1-17; Jer., xxiii, 1-8; xxxiii, 14-26; Ezech., 
xvii). The Royal Psalmist extols the Divine genealogy of the future 
Messias in the words: "The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this 
day have I begotten thee" (Ps. ii, 7). 
(2)   The Prophets frequently speak of the birth of the expected 
Christ. They locate its place in Bethlehem of Juda (Mich., V, 2-14), 
they determine its time by the passing of the sceptre from Juda (Gen.,
 xlix, 8-12), by the seventy weeks of Daniel (ix, 22-27), and by the 
"little while" mentioned in the Book of Aggeus (ii, 1-10). The Old-
Testament seers know also that the Messias will be born of a Virgin 
Mother (Is., vii, 1-17), and that His appearance, at least His public 
appearance, will be preceded by a precursor (Is., xl, 1-11; Mal., iv, 
(3)   Certain events connected with the infancy of the Messias have 
been deemed important enough to be the subject of prophetic prediction. 
Among these are the adoration of the Magi (Ps. lxxxi, 1-17), the 
slaughter of the innocents (Jer., xxxi, 15-26), and the flight into 
Egypt (Osee, xi, 1-7). It is true that in the case of these prophecies, 
as it happens in the case of many others, their fulfillment is their 
clearest commentary; but this does not undo the fact that the events 
were really predicted. 
(4)   Perhaps there is less need of insisting on the predictions of the 
better known Messianic names and titles, seeing that they involve less 
obscurity. Thus in the prophecies of Zacharias the Messias is called 
the Orient, or, according to the Hebrew text, the "bud" (iii; vi, 9-
15), in the Book of Daniel He is the Son of Man (vii), in the Prophecy 
of Malachias He is the Angel of the Testament (ii, 17; iii, 6), in the 
writings of Isaias He is the Saviour (li, 1; lii, 12; lxii), the 
Servant of the Lord (xlix, 1), the Emmanuel (viii, 1-10), the Prince of 
peace (ix, 1-7). 
(5)   The Messianic offices are considered in a general way in the 
latter part of Isaias (lxi); in particular, the Messias is considered 
as prophet in the Book of Deuteronomy (xviii, 9-22); as king in the 
Canticle of Anna (I Kings, ii, 1-10) and in the royal song of the 
Psalmist (xliv); as priest in the sacerdotal type Melchisedech (Gen., 
xiv, 14-20) and in the Psalmist's words " a priest forever" (cix); as 
Goel, or Avenger, in the second part of Isaias (lxiii, 1-6); as 
mediator of the New Testament, under the form of a covenant of the 
people (Is., xlii, 1; xliii, 13), and of the light of the Gentiles 
(Is., xlix). 
(6)   As to the public life of the Messias, Isaias gives us a general 
idea of the fullness of the Spirit investing the Anointed (xi, 1-16), 
and of the Messianic work (Iv). The Psalmist presents a picture of the 
Good Shepherd (xxii); Isaias summarizes the Messianic miracles (xxxv); 
Zacharias exclaims, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion", thus 
predicting Christ's solemn entrance into Jerusalem; the Psalmist refers 
to this same event when he mentions the praise out of the mouth of 
infants (viii). To return once more to the Book of Isaias, the prophet 
foretells the rejection of the Messias through a league with death 
(xxvii); the Psalmist alludes to the same mystery where he speaks of 
the stone which the builders rejected (cxvii). 
(7)   Need we say that the sufferings of the Messias were edicted by 
the prophets of the Old Testament? The general idea of the Messianic 
victim is presented in the context of the words "sacrifice and oblation 
thou wouldst not" (Ps. xxxix); in the passage beginning with the 
resolve "Let us put wood on his bread" (Jer., xi), and in the sacrifice 
described by the prophet Malachias (i). Besides, the series of the 
particular events which constitute the history of Christ's Passion has 
been described by the prophets with a remarkable minuteness: the 
Psalmist refers to His betrayal in the words "the man of my peace . . . 
supplanted me" (xl), and Zacharias knows of the "thirty pieces of 
silver" (xi); the Psalmist praying in the anguish of his soul, is a 
type of Christ in His agony (Ps. liv); His capture is foretold in the 
words "pursue and take him" and "they will hunt after the soul of the 
just" (Ps. lxx; xciii); His trial with its false witnesses may be found 
represented in the words "unjust witnesses have risen up against me, 
and iniquity hath lied to itself" (Ps. xxvi); His flagellation is 
portrayed in the description of the man of sorrows (Is., lii, 13; liii, 
12) and the words "scourges were gathered together upon me" (Ps. 
xxxiv); the betrayer's evil lot is pictured in the imprecations of 
Psalm cviii; the crucifixion is referred to in the passages "What are 
these wounds in the midst of thy hands?" (Zach., xiii), "Let us condemn 
him to a most shameful death" (Wisd., ii), and "They have dug my hands 
and my feet" (Ps. xxi); the miraculous darkness occurs. In Amos, viii; 
the gall and vinegar are spoken of in Ps. lxviii; the pierced heart of 
Christ is foreshadowed in Zach., xii. The sacrifice of Isaac (Gen., 
xxi, 1-14), the scapegoat (Lev., xvi, 1-28), the ashes of purification 
(Num., xix, 1-10), and the brazen serpent (Num., xxi, 4-9) hold a 
prominent place among the types prefiguring the suffering Messias. The 
third chapter of Lamentations is justly considered as the dirge of our 
buried Redeemer. 
(8)   Finally, the glory of the Messias has been foretold by the 
Prophets of the Old Testament. The context of such phrases as "I have 
risen because the Lord hath protected me" (Ps. iii), "My flesh shall 
rest in hope (Ps. xv), "On the third day he will raise us up" (Osee, v, 
15, vi, 3), "O death, I will be thy death" (Osee, xiii, 6-15a), and "I 
know that my Redeemer liveth" (Job, xix, 23-27) referred the devout 
Jewish worshipper to something more than a merely earthly restoration, 
the fulfillment of which began to be realized in the Resurrection of 
Christ. This mystery is also implied, at least typically, in the first 
fruits of the harvest (Lev., xxiii, 9-14) and the delivery of Jonas 
from the belly of the fish (Jon., ii). Nor is the Resurrection of the 
Messias the only element of Christ's glory predicted by the Prophets. 
Ps. lxvii refers to the Ascension; Joel, ii, 28-32, to the coming of 
the Paraclete; Is., Ix, to the call of the Gentiles; Mich., iv, 1-7, to 
the conversion of the Synagogue; Dan., ii, 27-47, to the kingdom of the 
Messias as compared with the kingdom of the world. Other 
characteristics of the Messianic kingdom are typified by the tabernacle 
(Ex., xxv, 8-9; xxix, 43; xl, 33-36; Num., ix, 15-23), the mercy-seat 
(Ex., xxv, 17-22; Ps. lxxix, 1), Aaron the high priest (Ex., xxviii, 1; 
xxx, 1; 10; Num., xvi, 39-40), the manna (Ex., xvi, 1-15; Ps. lxxvii, 
24-25), and the rock of Horeb (Ex., xvii, 5-7; Num., xx, 10-11; Ps. 
civ, 41). A Canticle of thanksgiving for the Messianic benefits is 
found in Is., xii. 
The Books of the Old Testament are not the only source from which the 
Christian theologian may learn the Messianic ideas of pre-Christian 
Jewry. The Sibylline oracles, the Book of Enoch, the Book of Jubilees, 
the Psalms of Solomon, the Ascensio Moysis, the Revelation of Baruch, 
the Fourth Book of Esdras, and several Talmudic and Rabbinic writings 
are rich depositories of pre-Christian views concerning the expected 
Messias. Not that all of these works were written before the coming of 
Christ; but, though partially post-Christian in their authorship, they 
preserve a picture of the Jewish world of thought, dating back, at 
least in its outline, centuries before the coming of Christ. 
Some modern writers tell us that there are two Christs, as it were, the 
Messias of faith and the Jesus of history. They regard the Lord and 
Christ, Whom God exalted by raising Him from the dead, as the subject 
of Christian faith; and Jesus of Nazareth, the preacher and worker of 
miracles, as the theme of the historian. They assure us that it is 
quite impossible to persuade even the least experienced critic that 
Jesus taught, in formal terms and at one and the same time, the 
Christology of Paul, that of John, and the doctrines of Nic'a, of 
Ephesus, and of Chalcedon. Otherwise the history of the first Christian 
centuries appears to these writers to be quite inconceivable. The 
Fourth Gospel is said to lack the data which underlie the definitions 
of the first ocumenical councils and to supply testimony that is not a 
supplement, but a corrective, of the portrait of Jesus drawn by the 
Synoptics. These two accounts of the Christ are represented as mutually 
exclusive: if Jesus spoke and acted as He speaks and acts in the 
Synoptic Gospels, then He cannot have spoken and acted as He is 
reported by St. John. We shall here briefly review the Christology of 
St. Paul, of the Catholic Epistles, of the Fourth Gospel, and the 
Synoptics. Thus we shall give the reader a complete Christology of the 
New Testament and at the same time the data necessary to control the 
contentions of the Modernists. The Christology will not, however, be 
complete in the sense that it extends to all the details concerning 
Jesus Christ taught in the New Testament, but in the sense that it 
gives His essential characteristics taught in the whole of the New 
(1)   Pauline Christology 
St. Paul insists on the truth of Christ's real humanity and Divinity, 
in spite of the fact that at first sight the reader is confronted with 
three objects in the Apostle's writings: God, the human world, and the 
Mediator. But then the latter is both Divine and human, both God and 
(a)   Christ's Humanity in the Pauline Epistles 
The expressions "form of a servant", "in habit found as a man", "in the 
likeness of sinful flesh" (Phil., ii, 7; Rom., viii, 3) may seem to 
impair the real humanity of Christ in the Pauline teaching. But in 
reality they only describe a mode of being or hint at the presence of a 
higher nature in Christ not seen by the senses, or they contrast 
Christ's human nature with the nature of that sinful race to which it 
belongs. On the other hand the Apostle plainly speaks of Our Lord 
manifested in the flesh (I Tim., iii, 16), as possessing a body of 
flesh (Col., i, 22), as being "made of a woman" (Gal., iv, 4), as being 
born of the seed of David according to the flesh (Rom., i, 3), as 
belonging according to the flesh to the race of Israel (Rom., ix, 5). 
As a Jew, Jesus Christ was born under the Law (Gal., iv, 4). The 
Apostle dwells with emphasis on Our Lord's real share in our physical 
human weakness (II Cor., xiii, 4), on His life of suffering (Heb., v, 
8) reaching its climax in the Passion (ibid., i, 5; Phil., iii, 10; 
Col., i, 24). Only in two respects did Our Lord's humanity differ from 
the rest of men: first in its entire sinlessness (II Cor., v, 21; Gal., 
ii, 17; Rom., vii, 3); secondly, in the fact that Our Lord was the 
second Adam, representing the whole human race (Rom., v, 12-21; I Cor., 
xv, 45-49). 
(b)   Christ's Divinity in the Pauline Epistles 
According to St. Paul, the superiority of the Christian revelation over 
all other Divine manifestations, and the perfection of the New Covenant 
with its sacrifice and priesthood, are derived from the fact that 
Christ is the Son of God (Heb., i, 1 sq.; v, 5 sq.; ii, 5 sq.; Rom., i, 
3; Gal., iv, 4; Eph., iv, 13; Col., i, 12 sq.; ii, 9 sq.; etc.). The 
Apostle understands by the expression "Son of God" not a merely moral 
dignity, or a merely external relation to God which began in time, but 
an eternal and immanent relation of Christ to the Father. He contrasts 
Christ with, and finds Him superior to, Aaron and his successors, Moses 
and the Prophets (Heb., v, 4; x, 11; vii, 1-22; iii, 1-6; i, 1). He 
raises Christ above the choirs of angels, and makes Him their Lord and 
Master (Heb., i, 3; 14; ii, 2-3), and seats Him as heir of all things 
at the right hand of the Father (Heb., i, 2-3; Gal., iv, 14; Eph., i, 
20-21). If St. Paul is obliged to use the terms "form of God", "image 
of God", when he speaks of Christ's Divinity, in order to show the 
personal distinction between the Eternal Father and the Divine Son 
(Phil., ii, 6; Col., i, 15), Christ is not merely the image and glory 
of God (I Cor., xi, 7), but also the first-born before any created 
beings (Col., i, 15), in Whom, and by Whom, and for Whom all things 
were made (Col., i, 16), in Whom the fullness of the Godhead resides 
with that actual reality which we attach to the presence of the 
material bodies perceptible and measurable through the organs of our 
senses (Col., ii, 9), in a word, "who is over all things, God blessed 
for ever" (Rom., ix, 5). 
(2)   Christology of the Catholic Epistles 
The Epistles of St. John will be considered together with the other 
writings of the same Apostle in the next paragraph. Under the present 
heading we shall briefly indicate the views concerning Christ held by 
the Apostles St. James, St. Peter, and St. Jude. 
(a)   The Epistle of St. James 
The mainly practical scope of the Epistle of St. James does not lead us 
to expect that Our Lord's Divinity would be formally expressed in it as 
a doctrine of faith. This doctrine is, however, implied in the language 
of the inspired writer. He professes to stand in the same relation to 
Jesus Christ as to God, being the servant of both (i, 1): he applies 
the same term to the God of the Old Testament as to Jesus Christ 
(passim). Jesus Christ is both the sovereign judge and independent 
lawgiver, who can save and can destroy (iv, 12); the faith in Jesus 
Christ is faith in the lord of Glory (ii, 1). The language of St. James 
would be exaggerated and overstrained on any other supposition than the 
writer's firm belief in the Divinity of Jesus Christ. 
(b)   Belief of St. Peter 
St. Peter presents himself as the servant and the apostle of Jesus 
Christ (I Pet., i, 1; II Pet., i, 1), who was predicted by the Prophets 
of the Old Testament in such a way that the Prophets themselves were 
Christ's own servants, heralds, and organs (I Pet., i, 10-11). It is 
the pre-existent Christ who molds the utterances of Israel's Prophets 
to proclaim their anticipation of His advent. St. Peter had witnessed 
the glory of Jesus in the Transfiguration (II Pet., i, 16); he appears 
to take pleasure in multiplying His titles: Jesus Our Lord (II Pet., i, 
2), our Lord Jesus Christ (ibid., i, 14, 16), the Lord and Saviour 
(ibid., iii, 2), our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (ibid., i, 1), Whose 
power is Divine (ibid., i, 3), through whose promises Christians are 
made partakers of the nature of God (ibid., i, 4). Throughout his 
Epistle, therefore, St. Peter feels, as it were, and implies the 
Divinity of Jesus Christ. 
(c)   Epistle of St. Jude 
St. Jude, too, introduces himself as the servant of Jesus Christ, 
through union with whom Christians are kept in a life of faith and 
holiness (1); Christ is our only Lord and Saviour (4), Who punished 
Israel in the wilderness and the rebel angels (5), Who will come to 
judgment surrounded by myriads of saints (14), and to Whom Christians 
look for the mercy which He will show them at His coming (21), the 
issue of which will be life everlasting. Can a merely human Christ be 
the subject of this language? 
(3)   Johannean Christology 
If there were nothing else in the New Testament to prove the Divinity 
of Christ, the first fourteen verses in the Fourth Gospel would suffice 
to convince a believer in the Bible of that dogma. Now the doctrine of 
this prologue is the fundamental idea of the whole Johannean theology. 
The Word made flesh is the same with the Word Who was in the beginning, 
on the one hand, and with the man Jesus Christ, the subject of the 
Fourth Gospel on the other. The whole Gospel is a history of the 
Eternal Word dwelling in human nature among men. 
The teaching of the Fourth Gospel is also found in the Johannean 
Epistles. In his very opening words the writer tells his readers that 
the Word of life has become manifest and that the Apostles had seen and 
heard and handled the Word incarnate. The denial of the Son implies the 
loss of the Father (I John, ii, 23), and "whosoever shall confess that 
Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him and he in God" (ibid., iv, 
15). Towards the end of the Epistle the writer is still more emphatic: 
"And we know that the Son of God is come: and he hath given us 
understanding that we may know the true God, and may be in his true 
Son. This is the true God and life eternal" (ibid., v, 20). 
According to the Apocalypse, Christ is the first and the last, the 
alpha and the omega, the eternal and the almighty (i, 8; xxi, 6; xxii, 
13). He is the king of kings and lord of lords (xix, 16), the lord of 
the unseen world (xii, 10; xiii, 8), the centre of the court of heaven 
(v, 6); He receives the adoration of the highest angels (v, 8), and as 
the object of that uninterrupted worship (v, 12), He is associated with 
the Father (v, 13; xvii, 14). 
(4)   Christology of the Synoptists 
There is a real difference between the first three Evangelists and St. 
John in their respective representations of our Lord. The truth 
presented by these writers may be the same, but they view it from 
different standpoints. The three Synoptists set forth the humanity of 
Christ in its obedience to the law, in its power over nature, and in 
its tenderness for the weak and afflicted; the fourth Gospel sets forth 
the life of Christ not in any of the aspects which belong to it as 
human, but as being the adequate expression of the glory of the Divine 
Person, manifested to men under a visible form. But in spite of this 
difference, the Synoptists by their suggestive implication practically 
anticipate the teaching of the Fourth Gospel. This suggestion is 
implied, first, in the Synoptic use of the title Son of God as applied 
to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Son of God, not merely in an ethical or 
theocratic sense, not merely as one among many sons, but He is the 
only, the well-beloved Son of the Father, so that His son-ship is 
unshared by any other, and is absolutely unique (Matt., iii, 17, xvii, 
5; xxii, 41; cf. iv, 3, 6; Luke, iv, 3, 9); it is derived from the fact 
that the Holy Ghost was to come upon Mary, and the power of the Most 
High was to overshadow her (Luke, i, 35). Again, the Synoptists imply 
Christ's Divinity in their history of His nativity and its accompanying 
circumstances; He is conceived of the Holy Ghost (Luke, 1, 35), and His 
mother knows that all generations shall call her blessed, because the 
mighty one had done great things unto her (Luke, i, 48). Elisabeth 
calls Mary blessed among women, blesses the fruit of her womb, and 
marvels that she herself should be visited by the mother of her Lord 
(Luke, i, 42-43). Gabriel greets Our Lady as full of grace, and blessed 
among women; her Son will be great, He will be called the Son of the 
Most High, and of His kingdom there will be no end (Luke, i, 28, 32). 
As new-born infant, Christ is adored by the shepherds and the Magi, 
representatives of the Jewish and the Gentile world. Simeon sees in the 
child his Lord's salvation, the light of the Gentiles, and the pride 
and glory of his people Israel (Luke, ii, 30-32). These accounts hardly 
fit in with the limits of a merely human child, but they become 
intelligible in the light of the Fourth Gospel. 
The Synoptists agree with the teaching of the Fourth Gospel concerning 
the person of Jesus Christ not merely in their use of the term Son of 
God and in their accounts of Christ's birth with its surrounding 
details, but also in their narratives of Our Lord's doctrine, life, and 
work. The very term Son of Man, which they often apply to Christ, is 
used in such a way that it shows in Jesus Christ a self-consciousness 
for which the human element is not something primary, but something 
secondary and superinduced. Often Christ is simply called Son (Matt., 
xi, 27; xxviii, 20), and correspondingly He never calls the Father 
"our" Father, but "my" Father (Matt., xviii, 10, 19, 35; xx, 23; xxvi, 
53). At His baptism and transfiguration He receives witness from heaven 
to His Divine Son-ship; the Prophets of the Old Testament are not 
rivals, but servants in comparison with Him (Matt., xxi, 34); hence the 
title Son of Man implies a nature to which Christ's humanity was an 
accessory. Again, Christ claims the power to forgive sins and supports 
His claim by miracles (Matt., ix, 2-6; Luke, v, 20, 24); He insists on 
faith in Himself (Matt., xvi, 16, 17), He inserts His name in the 
baptismal formula between that of the Father and the Holy Ghost (Matt., 
xxviii, 19), He alone knows the Father and is known by the Father alone 
(Matt., xi, 27), He institutes the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist 
(Matt., xxvi, 26; Mark, xiv, 22; Luke, xxii 19), He suffers and dies 
only to rise again the third day (Matt., xx, 19; Mark x, 34; Luke, 
xviii, 33) He ascends into Heaven, but declares that He will be among 
us till the end of the world (Matt., xxviii, 20). 
Need we add that Christ's claims to the most exalted dignity of His 
person are unmistakably clear in the eschatological discourses of the 
Synoptists? He is the Lord of the material and moral universe; as 
supreme lawgiver He revises all other legislation; as final judge He 
determines the fate of all. Blot the Fourth Gospel out of the Canon of 
the New Testament, and you still have in the Synoptic Gospels the 
identical doctrine concerning the person of Jesus Christ which we now 
draw out of the Four Gospels; some points of the doctrine might be less 
clearly stated than they are now, but they would remain substantially 
the same. 
Biblical Christology shows that one and the same Jesus Christ is both 
God and man. While Christian tradition has always maintained this 
triple thesis that Jesus Christ is truly man, that He is truly God, and 
that the God-man, Jesus Christ, is one and the same person the 
heretical or erroneous tenets of various religious leaders have forced 
the Church to insist more expressly now on the one, now on another 
element of her Christology. A classified list of the principal errors 
and of the subsequent ecclesiastical utterances will show the 
historical development of the Church's doctrine with sufficient 
clearness. The reader will find a more lengthy account of the principal 
heresies and councils under their respective headings. 
(1)   Humanity of Christ 
The true humanity of Jesus Christ was denied even in the earliest ages 
of the Church. The Docetist Marcion and the Priscillianists grant to 
Jesus only an apparent body; the Valentinians, a body brought down from 
Heaven. The followers of Apollinaris deny either that Jesus had any 
human soul at all, or that He possessed the higher part of the human 
soul, they maintain that the Word supplies either the whole soul in 
Christ, or at least its higher faculties. In more recent times it is 
not so much Christ's true humanity as His real manhood that is denied. 
According to Kant the Christian creed deals with the ideal, not with 
the historical Jesus; according to Jacobi, it worships Jesus not as an 
historical person, but as a religious ideal; according to Fichte there 
exists an absolute unity between God and man, and Jesus was the first 
to see and teach it; according to Schelling, the incarnation is an 
eternal fact, which happened to reach in Jesus its highest point, 
according to Hegel, Christ is not the actual incarnation of God in 
Jesus of Nazareth but the symbol of God's incarnation in humanity at 
large. Finally, certain recent Catholic writers distinguish between the 
Christ of history and the Christ of faith, thus destroying in the 
Christ of faith His historical reality. The New Syllabus (Proposit, 29 
sq.) and the Encyclical "Pascendi dominici gregis" may be consulted on 
these errors. 
(2)   The Divinity of Christ 
Even in Apostolic times the Church regarded a denial of Christ's 
Divinity as eminently anti-Christian (I John, ii, 22-23; iv, 3; II 
John, 7). The early martyrs, the most ancient Fathers, and the first 
ecclesiastical liturgies agree in their profession of Christ's 
Divinity. Still, the Ebionites, the Theodotians, the Artemonites, and 
the Photinians looked upon Christ either as a mere man, though 
singularly enlightened by Divine wisdom, or as the appearance of an 'on 
emanating from the Divine Being according to the Gnostic theory; or 
again as a manifestation of the Divine Being such as the Theistic and 
Pantheistic Sabellians and Patripassians admitted; or, finally, as the 
incarnate Word indeed, but the Word conceived after the Arian manner as 
a creature mediating between God and the world, at least not 
essentially identical with the Father and the Holy Ghost. Though the 
definitions of Nice and of the subsequent councils, especially of the 
Fourth Lateran, deal directly with the doctrine concerning the Most 
Holy Trinity, still they also teach that the Word is consubstantial 
with the Father and the Holy Ghost, and thus establish the Divinity of 
Jesus Christ, the Word incarnate. In more recent times, our earliest 
Rationalists endeavoured to avoid the problem of Jesus Christ; they had 
little to say of him, while they made St. Paul the founder of the 
Church. But the historical Christ was too impressive a figure to be 
long neglected. It is all the more to be regretted that in recent times 
a practical denial of Christ's Divinity is not confined to the 
Socinians and such writers as Ewald and Schleiermacher. Others who 
profess to be believing Christians see in Christ the perfect revelation 
of God, the true head and lord of the human race, but, after all, they 
end with Pilate's words, "Behold, the man". 
(3)   Hypostatic Union 
His human nature and His Divine nature are in Jesus Christ united 
hypostatically, i. e. united in the hypostasis or the person of the 
Word. This dogma too has found bitter opponents from the earliest times 
of the Church. Nestorius and his followers admitted in Christ one moral 
person, as a human society forms one moral person; but this moral 
person results from the union of two physical persons, just as there 
are two natures in Christ. These two persons are united, not 
physically, but morally, by means of grace. The heresy of Nestorius was 
condemned by Celestine I in the Roman Synod of A. D. 430 and by the 
Council of Ephesus, AD 431, the Catholic doctrine was again insisted on 
in the Council of Chalcedon and the second Council of Constantinople. 
It follows that the Divine and the human nature are physically united 
in Christ. The Monophysites, therefore, believed that in this physical 
union either the human nature was absorbed by the Divine, according to 
the views of Eutyches; or that the Divine nature was absorbed by the 
human; or, again, that out of the physical union of the two resulted a 
third nature by a kind of physical mixture, as it were, or at least by 
means of their physical composition. The true Catholic doctrine was 
upheld by Pope Leo the Great, the Council of Chalcedon, and the Fifth 
Ecumenical Council, AD 553. The twelfth canon of the last-named council 
excludes also the view that Christ's moral life developed gradually, 
attaining its completion only after the Resurrection. The Adoptionists 
renewed Nestorianism in part because they considered the Word as the 
natural Son of God, and the man Christ as a servant or an adopted son 
of God, thus granting its own personality to Christ's human nature. 
This opinion was rejected by Pope Adrian I, the Synod of Ratisbon, AD 
782, the Council of Frankfort (794), and by Leo III in the Roman Synod 
(799). There is no need to point out that the human nature of Christ is 
not united with the Word, according to the Socinian and rationalistic 
views. Dorner shows how widespread among Protestants these views are, 
since there is hardly a Protestant theologian of note who refuses its 
own personality to the human nature of Christ. Among Catholics, 
Berruyer and Gonther reintroduced a modified Nestorianism; but they 
were censured by the Congregation of the Index (17 April, 1755) and by 
Pope Plus IX (15 Jan., 1857). The Monophysite heresy was renewed by the 
Monothelites, admitting only one will in Christ and thus contradicting 
the teaching of Popes Martin I and Agatho and of the Sixth Ecumenical 
Council. Both the schismatic Greeks and the Reformers of the sixteenth 
century wished to retain the traditional doctrine concerning the Word 
Incarnate; but even the earliest followers of the Reformers fell into 
errors involving both the Nestorian and the Monophysite heresies. The 
Ubiquitarians, for example, find the essence of the Incarnation not in 
the assumption of human nature by the Word, but in the divinization of 
human nature by sharing the properties of the Divine nature. The 
subsequent Protestant theologians drifted away farther still from the 
views of Christian tradition; Christ for them was the sage of Nazareth, 
perhaps even the greatest of the Prophets, whose Biblical record, half 
myth and half history, is nothing but the expression of a popular idea 
of human perfection. The Catholic writers whose views were derogatory 
either to the historical character of the Biblical account of the life 
of Christ or to his prerogatives as the God-man have been censured in 
the new Syllabus and the Encyclical "Pascendi dorninici gregis". 
For Christology consult the following: 
BASIL, EPIPHANIUS wrote especially against the followers of Arius and 
FULGENTIUS, opposing the Nestorians and Monophysites; SOPHRONIUS, 
ETHERIUS, ALCUIN, AGOBARDUS, the Adoptionists. See P. G. and P. L. 
Scholastic writers: ST. THOMAS, Summa theol., III, QQ. I-lix; IDEM, 
Summa contra gentes, IV, xxvii-lv; In III Sentent.; De veritate, QQ. 
xx, xxix; Compend, theol., QQ. cxcix-ccxlii; Opusc., 2; etc.; 
BONAVENTURE, Breviloquium, 1, 4; In III Sentent.; BELLARMINE, De 
Christo capite totius ecclesio controvers., I, col. 1619; SUAREZ, De 
Incarn., opp. XIV, XV; LUGO, De lncarn., op. III. 
Positive Theologians: PETAVIUS, Theol. dogmat., IV, 1-2; THOMASSIN, De 
Incarn., dogm. theol., III, IV. 
Recent Writers: FRANZELIN, De Verbo Incarn. (Rome, 1874); KLEUTGEN, 
Theologie der Vorzeit, III (Monster, 1873); JUNGMANN, De Verbo 
incarnato (Ratisbon, 1872); HURTER, Theologia dogmatica, II, tract. vii 
(Innsbruck, 1882); STENTRUP, Proelectiones dogmatico de Verbo incarnato 
(2 vols., Innsbruck, 1882); LIDDON, The Divinity of Our Lord (London, 
1885); MAAS, Christ in Type and Prophecy (2 vols., New York, 1893-96); 
LEPIN, J‚sus Messie et Fils de Dieu (Paris, 1904). See also recent 
works on the life of Christ, and the principal commentaries on the 
Biblical passages cited in this article. 
For all other parts of dogmatic theology see bibliography at the end of 
this section (I.). 
Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter

From the Catholic Encyclopedia 
Copyright © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press, Inc. 

Electronic version copyright © 1996 by New Advent, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Provided courtesy of New Advent Supersite to:
Eternal Word Television Network
5817 Old Leeds Road
Irondale, AL 35210