The Passions of Christ in High-Medieval Thought: An Essay on Christological Development

Hardcover | May 17, 2007

byKevin Madigan

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Since the earliest days of the Church, theologians have struggled to understand how humanity and divinity coexisted in the person of Christ. Proponents of the Arian heresy, which held that Jesus could not have been fully divine, found significant scriptural evidence of their position: Jesuswondered, questioned, feared, suffered, and prayed. The defenders of orthodoxy, such as Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, Jerome, and Augustine, showed considerable ingenuity in explaining how these biblical passages could be reconciled with Christ's divinity. Medieval theologians such asPeter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas, and Bonaventure, also grappled with these texts when confronting the rising threat of Arian heresy. Like their predecessors, they too faced the need to preserve Jesus' authentic humanity and to describe a mode of experiencing the passions that cast no doubt upon theperfect divinity of the Incarnate Word. As Kevin Madigan demonstrates, however, they also confronted an additional obstacle. The medieval theologians had inherited from the Greek and Latin fathers a body of opinion on the passages in question, which by this time had achieved normative culturalstatus in the Christian tradition. However, the Greek and Latin fathers wrote in a polemical situation, responding to the threat to orthodoxy posed by the Arians. As a consequence, they sometimes found themselves driven to extreme and sometimes contradictory statements. These statements seemed totheir medieval successors either to compromise the true divinity of Christ, his true humanity, or the possibility that the divine and human were in communication with or metaphysically linked to one another. As a result, medieval theologians also needed to demonstrate how two equally authoritativebut apparently contradictory statements could be reconciled-to protect their patristic forebears from any doubt about their unanimity or the soundness of their orthodoxy. Examining the arguments that resulted from these dual pressures, Madigan finds that, under the guise of unchanging assimilationand transmission of a unanimous tradition, there were in fact many fissures and discontinuities between the two bodies of thought, ancient and medieval. Rather than organic change or development, he finds radical change, trial, novelty, and even heterodoxy.

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Since the earliest days of the Church, theologians have struggled to understand how humanity and divinity coexisted in the person of Christ. Proponents of the Arian heresy, which held that Jesus could not have been fully divine, found significant scriptural evidence of their position: Jesuswondered, questioned, feared, suffered, and pr...

Kevin James Madigan is Professor of the History of Christianity at Harvard Divinity School and is the 2006-2007 winner of the Luce Theological Fellowship

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:158 pages, 5.98 × 9.41 × 0.79 inPublished:May 17, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195322746

ISBN - 13:9780195322743

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsAbbreviations1. Introduction2. Humanity, Divinity and Biblical Exegesis in Early Arian Thought3. Christus Proficiens? Did Christ "Progress in Wisdom"?4. Christus Nesciens? Was Christ Ignorant of the Day of Judgment?5. Christus Patiens? Did Christ Suffer Pain in the Passion?6. Christus Passibilis? Did Christ Experience Fear and Sorrow in Gethsemane?7. Christus Orans? A Praying God?Conclusion, The Passions of Christ in Ancient and Medieval Thought: Continuities and DiscontinuitiesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"By tracing how western Christian authors from the patristic period to the High Middle Ages have dealt with the problem of Christ's passions, Kevin Madigan not only explores a central problem of Christology, but also makes a provocative argument about the history of Christian thought. Whereprevious scholars have seen continuity and development, Madigan finds discontinuity and tacit disavowal. Madigan claims that Christian orthodoxy, far from emerging organically from tradition, in fact continually reinvents itself, sometimes by distorting the thought of the "Fathers" it claims asauthoritative. This thought-provoking book will stimulate much-needed debate among theologians and students of Christian history." --David Brakke, Professor of Religious Studies, Indiana University, author of Demons and the Making of the Monk: Spiritual Combat in Early Christianity