Covenantal Theology

Donald J. Keefe, S.J.

Volume IV

I. The Return to Chalcedon

A. Introduction: The Chalcedonian Quandary

Fifteen and a half centuries ago, in a doctrinal development of the Nicene affirmation of the Personal consubstantiality of Jesus with the Father, the Council of Chalcedon dismissed a long-standing dispute between Antio­chene and Alexandrine theologians over the union of divinity and humanity in Jesus the Christ.  More than a century earlier, the Council of Nicaea, in affirming the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, and his conse­quent full divinity, had condemned the Arian restriction of divinity to the Father.  More than fifty years elapsed before the Nicene definition of the homoousion of the Son with the Father was reaffirmed as normative doctrine by the First Council of Constantinople.  Even then, the attribution of the homoousion to the Holy Spirit by the Provincial Council of Alexandria in 362, nearly twenty years earlier, was not reaffirmed. 

This failure manifests the incomprehension of the homoousion of the Son with the Father by those who, at I Constantinople, were determined to block the attribution to the Holy Spirit of the homoousion with the Father, and succeeded.  Their homoiousian resistance to the Nicene Creed was the final faint echo of the Arian subordinationism which had infested most of the Orient in the fourth century.  The recognition of Mary as Theotokos at Ephesus in 431 together with the affirmation two years later, by the Formula of Union, of the full divinity, full humanity, and Personal unity of Jesus the Lord, had as its corollary his consubstantiality “with us” (μοοσιον μν), as well as with the Father. 

The μοοσιον μν is also the corollary of the definitive assertion by the Symbol of Chalcedon in 451 of the subsistence of Jesus the Lord in the divine and in the human substance, the one and the same Son of the Father and of Theotokos.  The Symbol of Chalcedon entailed his consubstantiality with the Members of both the divine Substance, the Trinity, and with our human substance, whose unity is its creation in Christ, its Head, which cannot but be at once single and substantial.

The modalist use of “homoousios” by Paul of Samosata, the bishop of Antioch, in the latter half of the third century, evidently to support his adoptionist Christology, had lent this term a Sabellian or quasi-unitarian flavor, to the extent that the affirmation by the Council of Nicaea of the Son’s consubstantiality with the Father aroused the suspicions of conserva­tive bishops, particularly in Palestine, in the provinces of Asia Minor and Syria where, sixty years earlier, Paul of Samosata had used “homoousios” to deny what the Nicene Council used it to affirm, the full divinity of Jesus Christ the Son.[1]

The Oriental bishops had condemned Paul’s adoptionist interpretation of homoousios at two synods held in Antioch in 265 and 268.  Eusebius, since 313 the bishop of Caesarea, the seaport city in Palestine, had studied Origen’s theology under the martyred Pamphilius, and by his publication of the Ecclesiastical History before the turn of the fourth century had attained a scholarly pre-eminence among the Oriental bishops.  A close associate of the martyred Phamphilius, he had inherited Pamphilius’ library, originally Origen’s, as enlarged by Pamphili­us, and certainly had every reason to be considered the authoritative interpreter of Origen’s theology.  In fact, however, he imposed his own commitment to cosmology upon Origen’s commitment to soteriology, i.e., to the Christian faith, and so interpreted the Trinitarian doctrine which Origen had set out in the Peri Archon (the De Principiis of Rufinus’ translation), as a subordinationist identification of the Father with the divine Substance, with its corollary, the creaturely standing of the Son and the Holy Spirit. 

This was essentially the Arian doctrine; Eusebius supported it all his life, condemning those who opposed it as “Sabellians” who, like Paul of Samosata, denied the Trinity.

Consequently, after the Council of Nicaea, the conservative Eastern bishops, whose conservatism was rather cultural than Christian, particularly in their devotion to the unity of the Empire under the universal authority of the emperor, followed Eusebius of Caesarea in refusing to accept Nicene assertion that the Son is consubstantial with the Father: μοσιος τ πατρí.  The Eusebian rejection of the legitimacy of the Nicene Council’s authoritative ecclesial defense of the faith that Jesus is the Lord, with the consequent condemnation of Arianism by the some three hundred bishops attending the Council, rested upon the subordination of the authority of the Church to the unqualified authority of the emperor. 

It had never occurred to Eusebius of Caesarea, nor to his namesake of Nicomedia, that there could be a universal religious authority in the Roman empire other than the Roman emperor.  Neither did it occur to their follow­ers, the Eusebian homoiousians who until the First Council of Constantin­ople, called by the pro-Nicene Emperor Theodosius, continued to submit the Church’s doctrinal tradition to the plenary authority of the emperor, and so to the negotiation of the political propriety of the Christian tradition with the imperial powers that be.

The Nicene affirmation of the consubstantiality, the homoousion, of the Son with the Father remained a suspect proposition for most of the next half a century, on what were finally Arian grounds.  This suspicion was pro­mo­ted by Arianizing bishops close to the imperial throne, successors in interest to Eusebius of Caesarea and Eusebius of Nicomedia.  Chief among them were Valens of Mursa, Ursacius of Singidunum, Acacius of Caesarea, and Eudoxius of Constantinople.  These bishops were all rather Arian than Christian; all were supporters of the homoean doctrine which Eusebius of Nicomedia had persuaded the Emperor Constantius to impose on the empire in the name of religious unity. Their insolence and arrogance prompted an extremism, and consequently a reaction.  A brilliant Arian master of Aristo­tel­ian logic, Aetius, and his devoted disciple, the bishop Eunomius, rational­ized the Arian heresy into a radical distinction between the divine substance, i.e., the Arian mono-Personal divinity, and the substance of all else.  This ‘hetero-ousian’ doctrine began to be acceptable.  George of Laodicea, a friend of Basil of Ancyra (now Ankara, the capital of Turkey), a Eusebian who succeeded Marcel­lus to that See after the latter’s condem­na­tion and deposition in 336 at the instance of Eusebius of Caesarea, was present at a Homoean Council held in Antioch in 357; there he heard it confirm this extremism.  His report of it prompted Basil of Ancyra to call a local quasi-council at Ancyra early in 358.  It produced the foundational document of the ‘homoiousian” compromise with the homoean reduction of the Son to the mere generic like­ness─homoios─to the Father which had been taught by the second Council of Sirmium the year before.

Basil proposed an anti-Arian alternativeto the homoean doctrine; this was his “single concept of likeness,” (see endnote 423), the “similarity in substance” homoios kat’ousian (μοιος κατ’οσαν) which he thought could alone provide for the divinity of the Son.  However his defense of the divinity of the Son excluded the personal divinity of the Holy Spirit, who in consequence could not be homoious kat’ ousion to the Father without being identical to the Son.  Basil’s homoiousian formula barred any provision for the divinity of the Holy Spirit, because the “similarity in substance” that he had in mind was equivalently the eternal begetting of the Son by the eternal Father, which could have no application to the Holy Spirit.  Basil’s formula made no concession to the Nicene Creed; he remained a Eusebian and consequently a subordinationist, but his proposal of a doctrine alternative to that of the imperial Arianism, viz., a “single concept of likeness” broke the Eusebian ranks.  While it seemed to provide a means of affirming the divinity of the Son against the Arians, it remained aloof from the Nicene doctrine of the homoousion of the Son with the Father represented in the West by Julius of Rome, and in the Orient by bishops Athanasius of Alexandria and Marcellus, the deposed bishop of Ancyra whose See had been given to Basil in 336.  The rejection of the Nicene Creed as Sabellian would be indispensable to the doctrinal posture of some of the followers of Basil of Ancyra whom Epiphanius of Salamis later dubbed “Semi-Arians” by reason of their denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit; Basil’s homoiousian  disciples did not deny the divinity of the Holy Spirt, but they denied his Personal divinity: in their theology identified him with the divine substance, whom they identified with the divine substance to which the Son was similar: homoious kat’ ousian (μοιος κατ’οσαν) .

Basil of Ancyra, as a Eusebian, loyal to the anti-Nicene caesaropapism, hoped to persuade the emperor, Constantius II, to approve his doctrine in a general council.  He failed on both counts: the preliminary approval of his homoiousian doctrine by bishops Valns of Mursa and Ursacius of Singidu­num, the emperor’s theological advisors, had raised Basil’s hopes, but they, intent upon a more comprehen­sive establishment of Arianism, ignored Basil and persuaded Constantius to call two Councils instead of the one they had originally approved.  One of the councils, to be attended by the Oriental bishops, would be held at Seleucis on the southern coast of Phrygia; while the Western bishops would meet at Rimini, south of Ravenna on the east coast of Italy.  Both councils met in 359.  Valens and Ursacius were able to browbeat the divided opposi­tion, whether Nicene or homoiousian, into approving a homoean creed, which was officially promulgated a year later, in 360 at the Arian Council of Constantinople, as the official religion of the empire.

Constantius died a year later, in 361, leaving his throne to his nephew, Julian the Apostate, so called because, nominally a Christian, he then undertook to return the empire to its pagan past.  To this end he annulled Constantius’ sentencing of orthodox bishops to exiles, hoping that the encounter of the returning bishops with the Arian usurpers of their Sees would issue in a conflict destructive of both.  This failed, particularly in the case of Athanasius, whose diocese, whether he were resident in Alexandria or in exile, had remained loyal to him.  Julian disappeared in a battle at Adrian­ople a year later.  By then, early in 362, Athanasius had returned to Alexandria and called the Council of Alexandria; his third exile had been annulled by Julian’s cancellation of all of Constantius’ orders of exile.

The remnant of the Alexandrine pro-Nicene bishops who had been able to attend the Council of Seleucia three years earlier (359) had there found themselves in an ad hoc anti-Arian alliance with a group of schismatic Meletian bishops who, having rejected their early cooperation with Arian­ism, had passed over into the homoiousian camp.  The homoiousian bishops as well as the pro-Nicenes asserted with vigor the divinity of Christ the Lord, albeit obviously upon incompatible grounds.  The report to Athanasius by his loyal suffragans of their experience at Seleucia encouraged his pursuit of the project he had already planned, the calling of the Council of Alexan­dria in an attempt to convert the homoiousian majority in Antioch to the faith of the Nicene Creed, which he knew to be indispensable to the ecclesial unity which he presumed they sought.  Hence his Tome to the Antio­chenes (362), which presents an almost classic failure in communication.  His Tome supposed the homoiousian clergy in Antioch to be willing to reject the authority of the nominal bishop of Antioch, Meletius, in order to rejoin the unity of the Christian Church, which he knew to rest upon the definitive statement of the faith by the Council of Nicaea. 

However, the Antiochene homoiousians received Athanasius’ Tome as a political document proposing their political subordination to Alexandria, to which they would never consent.  Nineteen years earlier, Pope Julius’ calling of the Council of Serdica had been similarly misunderstood by the Eastern bishops.  Two entirely incompatible concepts of ecclesial unity were at odds, and remain so today.  Either the unity of the Church rests upon the faith that Jesus Christ is Lord, and therefore is a  doctrinal and finally liturgical unity, or it rests upon the royal power, potestas regalis, of the princeps, however embodied, and is a political unity. .

The homoiousian clergy in Antioch to whom Athanasius addressed his Tome to the Antiochenes, accepted the authority of bishop Meletius of Antioch who in 360 had returned from a brief exile and re-established his claim to the See of Antioch.  Athanasius’ Tome failed to persuade the homoiousian disciples of Meletius that the Nicene definition of the consub­stantiality of the Son with the Father is indispensable to the faith that “Jesus is Lord.”  They continued routinely to assemble with Meletius for worship at the “old place,” a church built in 314.  Conversion from their anti-Nicene animus would wait upon the confirmation of the Nicene Creed at the First Council of Constantinople, as summoned in 381 by the Nicene Emperor Theodosius.  His accession to the throne, together with his con­firmation of the authority of the Council of Nicaea, removed the foundation upon which rested the homoiousian resistance to Nicaea, viz., the subordination of the Church to the imperial authority,  The unforeseen succession of a pro-Nicene emperor to the throne did not end the Arian and Semi-Arian (homoi­ousian) rejection of the faith that Jesus is the Lord and that the emperor is not, for the last Arian emperor, Valens (364-368), succeeded to the throne upon the death of the pro-Nicene emperor Jovian and remained there until his own death in battle at Adrianople in 368.  During his brief reign he thus restored the Arian fortunes as to their bishops a majority in the See of Constantinople when Theodosius summoned the First Council of Constantin­ople and ordered their deposition.

The loss of this imperial support did not eliminate the political dimension of the homoiousian theology.  The melding of the doctrine of Nicaea with Basil of Ancyra’s homoios kat’ousian by Meletius in his Council of Antioch in 363 had been endorsed by Basil of Caesarea, and a dozen years later found expression in Basil’s failure, in the De Spiritu Sancto, to attribute Personal consubstantiality with the Father to the Holy Spirit.  Gregory of Nazianzen had broken with Basil on this point, but Gregory of Nyssa had not, as became clear at I Constantinople.  Had their ever been a “Cappadocian Settlement,” in the sense of an acceptance by the Cappado­cian homoiousians of the Nicene doctrine of the Personal homoousion of the Son with the Father as establishing the substantial unity of God and the full divinity of the Father, Son and Spirit, it could only have been by their abandoning the homoiousian tradition.  Basil of Caesarea was unable to do this; his De Spiritu Sancto, written in 375, four years before his death in 379, does not accept the hypostatic (i.e., Personal) divinity of the Holy Spirit; in this he was followed by his brother, Gregory of Nyssa, and by Diodore of Tarsus; their homoiousian resistance to the Personal divinity of the Holy Spirit frustrated the efforts of Gregory of Nazianzen, as president of First Council of Constantinople, to persuade the Council to declare explicitly the homoousi­on, the Personal divinity, of the Holy Spirit. . .  Gregory of Nyssa, surviving his brother Basil of Caesarea (+379), made the homoousion of Jesus with the Father the foundation of his Trinitarian theology, but only as Basil had understood it, viz., as compatible with the anti-Nicene homoiousion proposed by Basil of Ancyra, and approved in 363 at the homoousian Council of Antioch called by Basil’s friend and admirer, Meletius, and upheld by Gregory of Nyssa at the First Council of Constantinople in 381.

Amphilocius, from 373 the bishop of Iconium, stands apart from this confusion, although Basil’s De Spiritu Sancto was written for him and dedicated to him.  Amphilocius was a cousin of Gregory of Nazianzen and an admirer of his theology.  He accompanied him to I Constantinople in 379, and there supported his couisin’s futile attempt to persuade the Council to affirm the homoousion of the Holy Spirit.  Thus the Creed of the First Council of Constantinople (381) does not attribute to the Holy Spirit the Personal consubstantiality with the Father which the Nicene Creed attributes to the Son.  Nonetheless the definition of the divinity of the Holy Spirit by I Constantinople clearly relies upon the Nicene doctrine of the consubstantial­ity of Jesus with the Father, for its Creed incorporated the Nicene Creed.  This bars any homoiousian (i.e., binitarian) reading of the Conciliar assertion of the Holy Spirit’s divinity. The promulgation of what came to be called the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed was followed fifty years later by the Formula of Union of the Council of Ephesus, which defined that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the “Theotokos,” the Mother of God.  This was the first step in the doctrinal development of the Nicene definition of the homoousion of Jesus the Lord.  The Formula’s further definition of the consubstantiality of the Christ with every human person anticipated the mature expression of the Church’s Christological faith in the Symbol of the Council of Chalcedon (451).  The Symbol, or Creed, of the Council of Chalcedon taught the consubstantiality of Jesus not only with the Father as divine but, also, his consubstantiality, as human, with all human persons: i.e., he is fully human by his consubstantiality, “μοοσιος μν,” i.e., “cum nobis” “with ourselves.”

The Council of Nicaea had made it clear that consubstantiality must be said of persons, not of substances.  The Conciliar emphasis upon the divine “mia ousia , mia hypostasis” permits no doubt that the definition of the “homoousios” of the Son means that he is of the “same substance,” not simply of the “one substance” as the term is too often mistranslated.  The Nicene doctrine of the “homoousion” of Jesus with the Father does not affirm the Son’s identity with the Trinity but rather affirms his Personal possession, co-equally with the Father, of the fullness of divinity.  Thus also, the Chalcedonian doctrine of Jesus’ consubstantiality “with us” is not his identification with human substance; rather, it affirms his Personal possession of the fullness of humanity, co-equally with all other human persons.  As he is fully divine by his numerical consubstantiality with the Father, so he is fully human by his numerical consubstantiality with each of us: i.e., with those for whom he died, of whom he is the head.  Quite as the Father, as its head, is the source of the free, numerical unity of the one divine substance, the Trinity, so the Son, as its head, is the source of the free numerical unity of the one human substance in which he subsists.  It is by his subsistence in as its head that he is the source of its free unity..  As his subsistence in it is single, so the substance which owes its origin to him must be single: were he not numerically of the same substance in which we subsist, he would not be our head, he could not be the source of our free unity, and could not restore that free unity by its “recapitulation,” i.e., its redemption by its head.

The substantial unity of mankind is historically actual by the headship of the risen Lord of history, quite as the substantial unity of the Trinity is actual by the headship of the Father.  As the heresy of tritheism is the fragmentation of the divine Substance, so the fragmentation of the human substance is a comparably heretical denial of the headship of Jesus the Christ.

Thus Chalcedon went further than had the Council of Nicaea in linking personal consubstantiality to personal subsistence in a single communal substance.  The Symbol of Chalcedon taught that, as Jesus is Personally consubstantial with the Father by his subsistence in the one divine substance, that is, in the Trinitarian Community of the divine Persons, so also Jesus is consubstantial with us by his subsistence in the one human substance, the community of human persons.

In that development of the meaning of consubstantiality as applied to Jesus, the Council of Chalcedon ascribed to the human substance a communal meaning analogous to that which Nicaea had ascribed to the divine Substance.  Thus the human substance in which Jesus subsists can only be the entirety of the human community, i.e. the unqualified “us” with whom Jesus is Personally consubstantial by his free and Lordly subsistence in our free substantial unity.  While the Chalcedonian Symbol does not mention the point, Paul had long since made it clear in I Cor. 11:3, developed further in Colossians and Ephesians, that Jesus subsists in our humanity as its head, i.e., as the source of a free unity which can only be substantial, thus as humanity’s Archē, its Creator and Lord, quite as the Father freely subsists in the Trinity as the Head, the Source (ρχ) and Principle (πηγ), of the free unity of the uncreated divine Substance, the Trinity of the divine Persons.

1. The Doctrine of the Symbol of Chalcedon

Chalcedon taught that as Jesus our Lord is a single, unique Person, so he is a single, unique subsistence, that of the “one and the same Son,” of the Father and of our Lady, his mother.  It is by his Personal unity, his unique Personal subsistence at once in divinity and in humanity, that Jesus is Lord.  It is then evident that his divinity and his humanity are unified in his Person without prejudice to either: he is “one and the same Son,” eternally begotten by the Father, conceived by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Virgin Mary and born of her, Theotokos.

This Personal union of divinity and humanity in Jesus is finally ineffable: the crucial lines of the Symbol describe it only negatively:[2] 

16.  This one and the same Jesus Christ the Lord, only-begotten Son (of God

17. in two natures

18. must be confessed to be (in two natures) unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably (united)]

19. and nowhere is the distinction of the natures taken away by that union

20. but rather the peculiar property of each nature being preserved

21. and being united in one Person and subsistence,

22. not separated or divided into two persons

23. 16.  This one and the same Jesus Christ the Lord, only-begotten Son (of God)

24. God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ

The Symbol of Chalcedon

Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers

Second Series

The Seven Ecumenical Councils, 264A-265B

Following the holy Fathers we teach with one voice that the Son [of God] and our Lord Jesus Christ is to be confessed as one and the same [Person], that he is perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, very God and very man, of a reasonable soul and [human] body consisting, consubstantial with the Father as touching his Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching his manhood; made in all things like us, sin only excepted; begot­ten of his Father before the worlds according to his Godhead; but in these last days for us men and for our salvation born [into the world] of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God according to his manhood.  This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed to be in two natures,1 unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union, but rather the  peculiar property of each nature being preserved and being united in one Person and subsistence, not separated or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten, God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets of old have spoken concern­ing him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ hath taught us, and as the Creed of the Fathers hath delivered to us.

1.Vide parallel note from Hefele (263a-264b.

These things, therefore, having been expressed by us with the greatest accuracy and attention, the Holy Ecumenical Synod defines that no one shall be suffered to bring forward a different faith (τραν πστιν), nor to write, nor to put together, nor to excogitate, nor to teach it to others.  But such as dare either to put together another faith, or to bring forward or to teach or to deliver a different Creed [τραν σμβολον] to such as wish to be converted to the knowledge of truth from the Gentiles, or Jews or any heresy whateve, if they be Bishops or clerics let them be deposed, the bishops from the Episco­pate, and the clerics from the clergy, but if they be monks or laics, let them be anathematized.

After the reading of the definition, all the most religious Bishops cried out: This is the faith of the fathers: let the metropolitans forthwith subscribe it: let them forthwith, in the presence of the judges, subscribe it: let that which has been well defined have no delay: this is the faith of the Apostles: by this we all stand: thus we all believe.

1Vide parallel note from Hefele, defending ‘in two natures’ as opposed to “out of two natures.”

The Chalcedonian doctrine of the union of divinity and of humanity in the one Person who is Jesus was implicit in the proclamation twenty years earlier by the Council of Ephesus that Mary, the mother of Jesus the Lord, is thereby the mother of God, the “Theotokos.”  Cyril, the great bishop of Alexandria, was the first to develop, at the Council of Ephesus, the doctrinal import of Jesus’ “communication of idioms,”[3] in order to defend the full divinity of the Christ against Nestorius, whose Aristotelianizing mentor, Theodore of Mopsuestia, had persuaded him that Jesus could not be the Son of God because, as fully human he is personally human; a man. not Personally the Son of God.  Twenty years later, the Fathers at Chalcedon understood that the defense of the Christ’s full humanity against Dioscorus and Eutyches required that Jesus be consubstantial with his mother’s humanity if she is to be literally the mother of God―of Jesus the Lord, “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, consubstantial with the Father.” The ascription to Our Lady of the title “Theotokos” carried the implication that Mary, his mother, in and by her humanity, is personally consubstantial with her Son, Jesus her Lord, the Head from whom primordially she proceeds as the second Eve, as his glory.

Consequently, Mary’s human consubstantiality with her Lord is a proximate inference from her historical motherhood of Jesus: it is her primordial standing as the second Eve, the bride of the second Adam, proceeding from him as from her head, that accounts for her personal human consubstantiality with him, quite as her Son’s eternal procession from his Head, the Father, the his source, accounts for his divine and Personal consubstantiality with his Father.  Mary’s procession as the primordial second Eve, from her head, the primordial second Adam, is at the same time her primordial union in One Flesh with him.  In history, Mary’s nuptial union, plena gratia, with her Lord is her integral, immaculate self-expression, her wholly free historical Fiat, whose freedom, unsullied, undiminished by any sin, utters Wisdom into the world.

Historically the second Eve proceeds from her source as the Immaculate Conception, the prolepsis of the sinless Church.  The unconditioned freedom of her historical sinlessness is indispensable to the freedom of her utterance of the “Fiat” by which her Son is covenantally immanent in our fallen world and fallen history as our Head, our Redeemer, our Lord.  Were the freedom of Mary’s “fiat” qualified by sin, Jesus’ lordship of history would not be that of her Head, her Bridegroom, thereby it would not be covenantal, not redemptive, not gratia Christi, not divine mercy and benefaction, but an impersonal exercise of divine omnipotence in the manner of the mythical impositions of Zeus upon humanity, an impersonal dominance of a radically passive world to which he remains entirely alien, unrelated, absolute in the pagan sense of a Deus otiosus.  Mary’s maternal relation to her Son, her conception of Jesus, is the first expression in our fallen history of the second Eve’s adoration of her Lord: it pervades all history as the Eucharistic worship of the Church.

We have seen Mary entitled the “second Eve,” albeit implicitly, by the author of II Clement in the mid-second century, and more clearly by Justin Martyr (Dial. 100); their reference of this title to Mary, given the Pauline presentation, in Eph. 5:23-7, of the Church as the immaculate bride of Christ the Head, is a very early intuition of her personal integrity and immaculate sinlessness.  The fallen fragmentation of feminine integrity into the distinct and mutually exclusive expressions―daughter, bride, virgin, and mother―proper to feminine existence in fallen history has no application to the integral femininity of Our Lady.  Her primordial nuptial union with the second Adam, the Christ, is integral, at once her motherhood of her Lord, her virginity, her role as the “little girl,” the “beloved daughter” who is created Wisdom in the primordial good creation: cf. Proverbs 8:30.[4]  All these dimensions of Mary’s historical integrity have their full expression in the unqualified freedom of her primordial nuptial union with her Lord, with whom she subsists “in the Beginning,” in the free substantial unity of their One Flesh, concretely antecedent to original sin and the fall.  It is thus that she is homoousios with her Son, for it is thus that Jesus is Lord.  The created immaculate freedom of her “Fiat mihi” is the historical expression of the full outpouring of the Spiritus Creator which Jesus was sent by the Father to give.  His Mission is achieved in that primordial union with the second Eve; its offer of free unity to all creation is the precondition of the original sin, and so of our fallen history.  Jesus’ Mission in our fallen history is complete in his offering of the One Sacrifice, the institution of the New Covenant, the creative Event immanent in and transcending our fallen history through its Eucharistic representation.  By this Eucharistic representation of his One Sacrifice, Jesus is the Lord of history and its redeemer, its Alpha and its Omega, its Beginning and its End.  As Eucharistic, his Lordship is covenantal, the sacrificial institution of the One Flesh of the New Covenant, his nuptial union with the second Eve, the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  A properly sacramental theological anthropology will find here its Eucharistic foundation, for this One Flesh is the human substance, the free, nuptial community, in which Jesus subsists as head, and in which, by that subsistence, he is consubstantial with each of us.

At Chalcedon, the Church’s faith that Jesus is the Lord achieved its mature doctrinal statement.  The Fathers at Chalcedon completed the Nicene conversion of the classic Greek metaphysics and its determinist rationality, whose uncritical identification of “person” with a unique, mono-personal intellectual substance would bar the rational appropriation by theologians both of Jesus’ Personal divinity and his Personal humanity.  Arius, whose theology was locked into that monist rationality, identified the divine Substance with the divine Self of the Father, and consequently could not admit the divinity of the Son without a departure from monotheism, a departure which for him as for his orthodox contemporaries was unthinkable: polytheism was never an option for either party during the Arian controversy.  Arius’ supposition that divinity must be mono-personal was refused by the Council of Nicaea’s teaching of the consubstantiality, the “homoousion,” of the Son with the Father.  This doctrine required that the divine Substance be, not a Monas, a divine Self, but the Trinitarian Community of divine Selves―the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[5]  For the dominant Platonism of that period, this doctrine made no sense, for it rested upon the radical rejection of the monism instinctive to the determinist Greek rationality.  Specifically, the Nicene definition of the homoousios of the Son with the Father rejected the pagan identification of person with intellectual substance upon which Sabellius, Paul of Samosata and Arius had each relied.

Thus the Council of Nicaea affirmed Jesus’ full divinity by accepting the Trinitarian implication of Jesus the Lord’s full divinity, and consequently rejecting the Platonic identification of “self” with “substance” as incompatible with the Personal consubstantiality of the Jesus with the Father.  His “homoousion” required that the one God, the divine “intel­lec­tu­al substance,” be the Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit.

The Council Fathers at Chalcedon would assert Jesus’ full humanity in the same context, that of his consubstantiality with the personal members of a multi-personal intellectual substance: the human community.  In affirming Jesus’ consubstantiality “with us” the Fathers used a term whose meaning had been canonized by the Nicene Creed. There, Jesus’ consubstantiality with the Father is Personal, as is the Father’s consubstantiality with him: i.e., neither Jesus nor the Father nor the Holy Spirit can be identified with a monadic divine Substance, a cosmological absolute, simply because in each his Personal consubstantiality imports and requires a community of consub­stantial Persons: in short, the one God is the Trinity because the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are consubstantial with each other.

Because Jesus is consubstantial with the Person of the Father, the Head, the Archē of the Trinity, he possesses, as does the Father, the fullness of divinity.  Similarly, by his consubstantiality with each of us, Jesus possesses, as the head of the human substance, the source of its free unity and thus its creator, the fullness of humanity.  His headshiop requires that the human substance be neither an abstraction, a species, nor a single human person; The human substance is the historically and concretely free human community: ultimately it is the Church, the Bride of Christ who, as Bride, is also the Body of her head: Augustine recognized in Sermo 341 that the head-body relation is identically the bridegroom-bride relation: both are nuptial and therefore free, for there is no other free relation in history: apart from this graced nuptiality the contradiction between the one and the many, between personal and communal unity, cannot be transcended.

Chalcedon affirmed against Eutyches and Nestorius the communal reality of the human substance, in affirming teaching that each of us is consubstantial with Jesus’ fully human Person, whose Personal human consubstantiality with us would otherwise cease, for it must be Personal and consequently must be communal: his human consubstantiality is not his subsistence in a monadic human substance as its Self, but is rather his subsistence in the communal human substance for whom he died as its Head.  However, Jesus’ consubstantiality with us is precisely his nuptial headship of his bridal Church for, while we are created in him, the head who is the source of our being, nonetheless our solidarity with him is free, for it is the radical gratia Christi, gratia Capitis, a gift which cannot be imposed but freely, personally, must be appropriated.  The Church comprises all who accept that Gift of creation in him, who affirm his headship, who exist in Christ, and are free to live in freedom.

Thus, the final exposition in the Symbol of Chalcedon of the primitive faith that Jesus is Lord is at once a rejection of and a conversion from the cosmological postulate of the irreducibility of the one and the many which barred the doctrinal development of the Trinitarian faith of the Church.  At Chalcedon, as earlier in the Formula of Union of the Council of Ephesus, the “one and the same Son” was taught to be Personally consubstantial with every human being.  This means that Jesus is a human Person―a conclusion still unacceptable to much of contemporary theology.

It is nonetheless inexorable that Jesus is, as Irenaeus taught, “one and the same Son; his consubstantiality with us would not otherwise be Personal.  Chalcedon’s application of the homoousion to humanity forces the doctrinal conversion of Greek metaphysical equation of person with the human substance which, with the Conciliar proclamation of that doctrine, ceased to be comprehensible as mono-personal, and thereafter to be understood as a free nuptially-ordered unity, and therefore as triune: i.e., as head, body, and marital bond constituting a covenantal substance, in such wise that the New Covenant, the union in One Flesh of Christ the head and his bridal Church, is quite simply the New Creation of humanity in the image of God, foreshadowed in Genesis 1:26 and 2:21-24.[6]

As God is no longer to be known as a lonely self, neither is man: the Trinitarian perichōresis (περιχώρησις) is imaged by the nuptial order of our covenantal fidelity.  The pagan postulate of the Greek metaphysical tradition, the necessary unity of substance, had been taken for granted since the second century by every Christian with the exception of the giants among them: Clement of Rome, Ignatius Martyr, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Origen.  Justin’s anti-gnostic apologetics focused upon the Jesus the Lord: Irenaeus founded his soteriology upon the recapitulation of all things in the Jesus as the second Adam, Tertullian’s una persona, duae substantia Christology, like Origen’s much-maligned systematic enterprise, took for granted and rested upon the communication of idioms―of Names, as Origen has it―in Jesus the Lord.  Their theological foundation was resolutely historical.  Apart from those few however, under the influence of middle Platonism, early theologians such as those who read adoptionism into Origen’s Christology could not but have.understood the assertion in John 1:14: “and the Word was made flesh” to refer, not to Jesus, but to a theological construct, i.e., to a non-human eternal Logos-Son, of whom the Catholic liturgical, scriptural, and doctrinal tradition knows nothing.  This construct was imagined in terms of the Stoic-Platonic Logos doctrine, wherein the Logos, or Word, was the first emanation from a transcendent source, all too simply identified with the Father.

From the beginnings of Greek theological speculation it was the Word, thus interpreted in Stoic-Platonic terms, as in some manner divine but not as human, who was understood to have “became flesh,” in the sense of becoming human.  This language has entered into the Nicene and Nicene-Constantinopolitan creeds, whose texts paradoxically assert of Jesus that he “became man:”―homo factus est”―which is literal nonsense: it is  obvious that the primordial head of humanity does not become a man, for from the Beginning he is “man” par excellence.  The Creed however is a historical assertion of the historical faith: Jesus’ kenōsis is his Incarnation, his becoming a fallen man, a historical man, submitted to our fallen historicity.  Unfortunately this is not the usual understanding of the kenōsis of Jesus.  Its peren­nial dehistoricization, the perennial supposition that Jesus’ pre-exist­ence is not primordial but eternal, therefore not human but only divine, posed and continues to pose the insoluble problem of providing for the antecedent possibility of a divine Person’s so changing as to “become flesh” (and for us men and for our salvation) without thereby ceasing to be divine.  Inasmuch as divinity connotes immutability, it is evident a priori that God cannot change without ceasing to be God. 

Read simply at the letter, i.e., abstractly, “incarnatus est et homo factus est” is nonsense.  Jesus, the primordially preexistent head of humanity, the subject of the Incarnation (Jn. 1:14), the subject of the kenōsis (Phil. 2:6-7) could not and did not “become human” by reason of his incarnation except in the sense of his Personal kenōsis, his Personal becoming “flesh,” whereby he―the primordially pre-existing Jesus the Christ, not the “immanent Son, the Son, sensu negante―enters into our historical humanity, our fallenness, our heritage, our solidarity with the fallen Adam, in all ways except sin, accepting the form of a slave, imprisoned like all men by the fear of death.  This the creeds affirm: Jesus became man only in the historical sense of becoming flesh, i.e., fallen. “Flesh” names the historically fallen condition of the Good Creation, whose goodness is its creation in Christ, by whose One Sacrifice that goodness is restored.

The creeds are historical assertions of the historical faith: Jesus’ κενωσις (kenōsis) is his νσρκωσις (ensarkōsis), his ‘enfleshment,’ his becoming a fallen man, a historical human Person.  It is thus, by becoming flesh, that he is made man, νανθροπσαντα, submitted to our fallen historicity.  Unfortunately this is not the usual, i.e., Thomist, understanding of the kenōsis of Jesus, for there the kenōsis is applied to the dehistoricized subject of the Incarnation, the eternal Son, who is not man, but “assumes” a human nature.  The corollaries of this error are in the first place a denial of the goodness of creation, for otherwise the relation of humanity to the eternal, i.e., nonhistorical Son would not be a kenōsis.  Secondly, the Thomist rationale denies Jesus’ Personal pre-existence or primordiality.  As dehistor-icized, “Son” refers, not to the primordial Personal union in him of God and Man, but to his divinity alone, with the consequence that his pre-existence is also dehistoricized and thereby not primordial but eternal, therefore not human but only divine.  In consequence the Son is not the head of our humanity, which is then not created in him.  Jesus is then not the head of all creation, and creation as such is undone.

This dehistoricization of Jesus the Lord has posed and continues to pose the insoluble problem of providing for the antecedent possibility the divine Person, abstractly understood as a cosmological absolute, changing so drastically as to “become flesh” without ceasing to be divine.  Inasmuch as divinity, thus cosmologized, dehistoricized, abstracted from the economy of salvation, connotes immutability, it is evident a priori that God cannot change without ceasing to be God.

This cosmologically-induced confusion has dominated Christological speculation since the close of the thirteenth century.  Its current expression in Roman Catholic theology is the division between the adherents of “high” and of “low” Christologies: that is, between those who would safeguard the divinity of Jesus by limiting or denying his humanity, and those who would safeguard his humanity by limiting or denying his divinity.  These emphases are effectively those which in the fifth century divided the Alexandrine followers of Eutyches from the Antiochene disciples of Nestorius,.  Their irreconcilable conflict prompted the summoning of the Council of Chalcedon by Emperor Marcian on the authority of Pope Leo I―Leo the Great―one of the four great Latin Fathers, whose “Dogmatic Letter” maintaining the full divinity, full humanity, and full unity of Jesus the Lord was a major source of the Chalcedonian Symbol.

Under pressure from Marcian, the Chalcedonian Fathers finally composed a Christological doctrine, the “Symbol of Chalcedon” which simply refused to consider theological dispute confronting them.  The Chalcedonian Fathers had nothing to say conceerning an “immanent Son.”  Their concern as bishops, as standing in the apostolic succession, was to uphold the ancient faith that “Jesus is Lord” against its perceived denial by the disputing theologians.  The Symbol affirmed, following the Council of Nicaea, that Jesus is fully divine, consubstantial with the Father.  It affirmed, following the Council of Ephesus, that Jesus has a human mother, who is “the Mother of God,” repeating the title “Theotokos” given Mary at Ephesus, which had aroused the impassioned protest of the Nestorians.  But the Fathers at Chalcedon did not rest content with the doctrinal affirmation of Jesus’ full humanity: they went further, to teach the further implication of the homoousion of the Son with the Father and with us: viz., that his divinity and his humanity are united in him at the level of his Person, i.e., at the level of his single unique Subsistence in two substances by which he is consub­stantial respectively and at once with the Trinitarian Persons and with the human persons who subsist, respectively, in divinity and in humanity.  The doctrine taught by Council of Nicaea, that Jesus homoousios with the Father, is intelligible except insofar as Personal, i.e., insofar as Jesus Personally subsists in the divine substance and Personally subsists in the human substance, in the divine Community and in the human community.  Once again, we have here to do with the meaning of Jesus’ consubstantiality with the Father.  As defined at Nicaea, his consubstantiality with the Father is inescapably Personal: it can exist at no other level, and cannot but engage his Personal unity, whether as human or as divine.

This was not a speculative theological discovery: it was the doctrinal expression, at Chalcedon as a century and a quarter earlier at Nicaea, of the liturgically mediated Revelation that Jesus is Lord. The Conciliar assertion of the Personal unity of divinity and humanity in Jesus the Lord gave ground neither to the Alexandrine monism nor to the Antiochene dualism, for these theologies agreed in supposing the unity of Jesus to be on the level of substance (nature), not at the level of Person: the latter possibility was anticipated by Tertullian’s as-of-course association of ‘name’ with ‘person, echoed by Origen a generation later.’

Before Tertullian, the implication of this apostolic identification of the Name of Jesus with his Person had never been seriously considered by theological community, whether Latin or Greek. Those Eastern theologians who either reject the Chalcedon Symbol outright or find it inadequate, and those in the West who have come to doubt its adequacy, share this mistake.  For example, St. Thomas’ Christological assessment of Jesus as a “compos­ite Person” is a retrogression to that rationalizing mentality which must find a prior possibility of the mystery of faith: that Jesus is the Lord.  That quest is nonhistorical, and cannot bear upon the historical Jeus the Lord, and so os not theological: it seeks to go behind the historical revelation of the Mystery to seek a higher truth.  This is the program of the Enlightenment: it underlies the Protestant and Modernist dehistoricization of the Catholic tradition.

It is solely from this nonhistorical stance that the Chalcedonian proclam­ation of the union of God and man in Jesus at the level of “Person” is seen to be inadequate, for it did not solve and does not pretend to solve the time-honored but pseudo-theological problem of providing for the antecedent possibility of the Incarnation which had preoccupied the fifth-century Antiochene and Alexandrine schools, and which continues to preoccupy theologians of the East and the West in our own time.  This perennial dehis­toricizing and rationalist mentality takes for granted that any such union must be at the level of “nature,” for theologians on both sides accept without question the Platonizing and dehistoricizing reading of the “Logos sarx egeneto” of Jn. 1:14, which eliminates a priori a Personal unity in Jesus the Christ, posing the false problem of explaining how God could become man, and does so in the inescapable context of the traditional metaphysics which, prior to Nicaea, knew no conceptual distinction between possessing a rational nature and subsisting in it uniquely, i.e., to the exclusion of any other subsistence.  Each human being was assumed by that monism to be at once and indistinguishably an individual human nature and the person who uniquely subsists in that nature.  The impossible cosmological problem of providing for inter-substantial communication between substantially complete rational creatures was simply ignored, and in much of contem­porary theological anthropology it continues to be ignored.[7]

Consequently the Nestorians, recognizing the rational impossibility of a natural union of divine and human natures, had to deny the divinity of Jesus, while the Eutychians, supposing such a union of divine and human “natures” to be indispensable to the redemption of the fallen world, postulated a Monophysism, a composite or melded divine-human nature (physis), an imagined compatibility of incompatibles, whose theological defense, Apol­linarian in principle, would limit the humanity of that physis in order to affirm of its full divinity, to end with a composite neither divine nor human.

The liturgical affirmation that Jesus is Lord is the refusal of this false dilemma.  However, that refusal of the cosmological quandary is free; it is not the product of a demonstrated rational necessity, a matter merely of correct inference.  Its affirmation expresses a free conversion to the free Per­son­al unity of two radically distinct substances, the divine and the human.  Only with that conversion can theological inquiry into the free Revelation in Christ begin.  Without it, Christological speculation never emerges from its cosmological posture and therefore never becomes theological.

Over the past century Catholic theologians have become accustomed to a distinction between religious and intellectual conversion.  There is ample room for the distinction, but only in the sense that the religious conversion, understood as participation in the Catholic liturgical proclamation of the Lordship of Jesus, is personal entry into the free rationality of the faith, which is to say, into the mystery revealed in Christ.  This liturgically-informed conversion to the free truth of the Revelation cannot but entail the rejection of the cosmological pursuit of supposedly necessary reasons underlying the Mysterium fidei, the apostolic faith that Jesus is the Lord, for it has none.  Its Truth is Personal, and supremely free with the freedom of the Mission of the Son, Jesus the Lord.  The Chalcedonian Symbol partakes of that free rationality: it invites and requires a free theological inquiry, one not locked into the determinism of the fallen mind, of fallen rationality. 

This freedom of inquiry is spontaneous, the free reception of our most fundamental grace.  By our creation in Christ, the head, we are created also in the freedom of which he is the only source, but it is a freedom which can be refused, particularly as its acceptance cannot but in some manner be mor­al­ly difficult for a fallen humanity whose personal temptation is always to “be like God;” i.e., like the god of the pagans, whose divinity is his auton­omy: Nietzsche’s plaint, “If there were a god, how could I bear not to be god?” finds an immediate resonance in each of us.  The standing tempta­tion to turn away from the freedom of truth is simply our solidarity with the fallen Adam, whose supreme foolishness was his denial of God in order to “be like god,” to be autonomous, his own divinity.

But while this temptation is universal, it is only a temptation, and its rem­e­dy is at hand: the liturgically-mediated faith of the Church that Jesus is the Lord.  This is the faith of Chalcedon: conversion to it is an entry into the Catholic responsibility for the freedom of truth.  It is then an intellectual conver­sion from the cosmological conviction that the pursuit of truth is a flight from the irrationality of history to the ideal absolute unity of truth and goodness.  This monadic notion of the divine unity has entered Catholic theology as the Deus Unus, Ipsum Esse Subsistens, the impersonal Absolute who is naturally (i.e., necessarily) known by the correct use of formal logic.

It is evident that the Lord of history, who has revealed himself, by his immanence in history to be its Lord and Savior, cannot be identified with this paganized divinity, who is incapable per se of any relation to what is other than himself.

The Chalcedonian Fathers reaffirmed seven times that Jesus, the eternal Son of the eternal Father and the historical Son of Our Lady, is “one and the same” (ἕνα καὶ τὸν αὐτὸν), a summary expression of the Personal human­ity of Jesus coined by Irenaeus, whose concern for Jesus as the historical second Adam anticipated by two and a half centuries the Chalce­donian doctrine of the concrete, factual unity of divinity and humanity in the histori­cal unity of his Person, in the Son.  It is thus, in the unity of his Person, as the one and the same Son, that Jesus is the Lord.

The Fathers recognized in Jesus’ Lordship the radical mystery of the faith which, as mystery, cannot have the prior “natural” possibility which the Antiochene and the Alexandrine disputants both vainly sought.  The free truth, the mystery of the faith, as revelation and as gift, can have no prior possibility into which theologians might inquire.  Those who affirm in faith the mystery of Christ enter freely into an utterly novel―because at once free and historical―intellectual universe, whose novelty is precisely its historical free­dom.  It is for that freedom, that free participation in the free historical mediation of eternal life, that Jesus the Christ has made us free: “for freedom we are freed.”

All pagan discourse rested and yet rests upon the supposition that truth can be true only insofar as it can be shown to be antecedently possible and necessary, shown to rest upon a foundation of necessary causes. Within that pagan rationality, necessity and possibility are at one: no novelty can arise.  The faith that Jesus is the Lord broke that intellectual universe, whose adepts had long since fled from the “irrationality” of history to an ideal unity and truth in which freedom had no place, and who now would impose their servility upon the world at large to fashion those Utopias of irresponsibility which in sum are the permanent alternative to the good creation whose goodness is its freedom in Christ.

The Fathers at Chalcedon went on to affirm, with Nicaea, that it is Jesus who subsists from eternity in the free unity of the divine Substance, the Trinity, and who thereby is consubstantial with his eternal Source, the Father.  In the same sentence, the Fathers taught that Jesus subsists with the same Personal freedom in our humanity, in our human substance, and thereby is consubstantial with us.  Paul, in I Corinthians 11:3, had pointed out the analogy between the subsistence of the Father in the Trinitarian Com­munity and the subsistence of Jesus in the human community: both subsist as the “Head,” as the Source of the free unity of the communal substance of which each is the head: the Father as the Archē of the uncreated Trinity, Jesus as the Archē of our created humanity, thus as its creator and its redeemer, whose Mission from the Father is simply to give the Holy Spirit, the Spiritus Creator.  Jesus the Lord’s first outpouring of the Holy Spirit terminates in the Good Creation, in which he subsists and of which he is the Head.  As has already been pointed out, the Good Creation is free, but its freedom cannot be imposed; this is simply a matter of definition.  Its accept­ance is the office of its head, the first Adam, the affirmation of whose unity in one flesh with the first Eve would be that acceptance, for the Good Creation is fulfilled only by which it is “very good,” the creation of that which images God:

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.  And so God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”  And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.  And to every beast of the earth, and every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps upon the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”   And it was so.  And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation

Gen. 1:26-2:3

 Jesus the Christ’s second gift of the Holy Spirit terminates in his offering on the Altar and on the Cross of his One Sacrifice, his redemptive restora­tion of the free unity of the fallen creation which, as fallen, has none.

Chalcedon did not develop this insight into Jesus’ headship, whose infinity of implications still awaits serious exploration by theological com­mun­ity.  It does seem fairly evident that our creation in the image of the Trinity, “Male and female they created them,” is at one with our Trinitarian creation in Christ the head sent by the Father, whose created headship, analogously Trinitarian, is the source of our free substantial unity, fidelity to which can only be our worship of the freedom of the Truth who is Christ, Eucharistically immanent in the Church which he founded on the Altar and on the Cross.  This consideration has been and remains the preoccupation of these volumes.

It has been noted that Christological doctrine of the Symbol of Chalce­don is much criticized for a supposed failure to have resolved theological dispute between the Antiochene and the Alexandrine Christologies.  This academic criticism misses the crucial point: the Council Fathers did not fail to resolve theological impasse thus presented; rather, they rejected it out of hand as irrelevant to their magisterial responsibility, a responsibility not academic but liturgical, not theological but doctrinal. The Chalcedonian Christology does not attempt to provide an explanation of the antecedent possibility of the Personal union of God and man in Jesus the Christ, and this for the very simple reason that the basic mystery of the Catholic faith is that Jesus is Lord.  This free foundation grounds all theological rationality.  As foundational, it is not subject to any critical analysis, to any scholarly oversight, for its truth, the radical mystery of the faith, tran­scends theology­cal inquiry as foundational to its radically historical proclamation of the faith.  The truth of the faith is mediated by the Church’s worship in truth of the Truth.  This mediation is liturgical; its acme is the priestly offering in the Eucharist of the One Sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, by which we are redeemed.  The human mind cannot plumb this mystery: its revelation, as the object of faith, is not a subject of theological scrutiny, but of personal, intellectual worship in truth of Truth.  In short, the Lordship of Jesus has no antecedent possibility to be explored: rather, the task of theology is to explore its historical implication, the limitless significance of the apostolic faith that Jesus Christ is Lord.

The academic failure to grasp this point has had catastrophic cones­quences.  It is not too much to say that it has perpetuated the Christological confusion which then divided Antioch and Alexandria, and which now divides Eastern as well as Western Christianity.[8]

Oddly enough, the simple and indeed obvious fact that the Fathers at Chalcedon met a magisterial responsibility transcending the concerns of theology has never been accepted by theological community. Without signi­fi­cant exceptions theologians of the East and of the West have judged the doctrine of Chalcedon to be incomplete, unsatisfactory insofar as failing to have resolved the antecedent theological dispute for whose resolution, as they suppose, the Council was called.  It is commonly held that for this reason the Symbol of Chalcedon has not been “received,” not accepted as a matter of faith, as though the truth of the faith waited upon a theological consensus not yet at hand, a proposition on its face absurd: Catholics and Orthodox are baptized into the historical Church, whose liturgical and doctrinal traditions are integral with her historical reality, her Eucharistic worship of her Lord.  A “cafeteria Catholicism” as also a “cafeteria Orthodoxy,” entails a rejection of the baptismal faith, for its liturgical mediation, as liturgical, is indivisible, a single analogia fidei.

The reasons for the unwillingness of Catholic theologians to accept the authority of the Symbol of Chalcedon amount to a misunderstanding of the task of theology.  This misunderstanding is explicit in the ancient misread­ing of Jn. 1:14, which assumes that it is the non-human Logos, the dehistori­cized divine Son, who is subject of the “logos sarx egeneto,” whereupon the single task of theology becomes accounting for the Son’s becoming histori­cal, thus for his becoming, not flesh, i.e., fallen, which presupposes his human pre-existence, but man, which presupposes that his pre-existence is not human, but only divine .  Under this latter systematic aegis, there can be no theological interest in the historical Lordship of Jesus, i.e., no possible concern for the radical affirmation of the Church’s faith in that Lordship, until this prior problem is resolved.  Inasmuch as this is a false problem precisely because of its postulated dehistoricization of its only subject, Jesus the Christ, Christology cannot proceed from this point.  In fact, for the bulk of Christian theologians, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox, it has not done so.  The palmary Christological puzzlement is still posed by their reading of the Logos sarx egeneto as the recital of the passage of the eternal Son into history.  This flat refusal of the apostolic faith rests upon a pagan refusal of the historicity of truth; it has no other justification.

This quasi-permanent subfuscation of the intellect is worth examination if only because it grounds the dehistoricizing rationalism whose current secular expression was a subject of the Pope Benedict’s lecture at Regens­burg, but which has troubled the Church from the outset as one or another variant of the Gnostic conviction that the divine is thus absolute as to be incap­able of free historical immanence in our fallen world.  The Church’s faith that the historical Jesus the Lord is the one and the same Son of the Father and of Mary, affronts the Gnostic confidence that history is immune to God.  The Catholic faith that Jesus is Lord stands athwart all those progres­sive projects of self-salvation now tempting the Western world.  It is evident that the Church is the equally implacable opponent of salvation by the sword, whether of Islam or its secular analogues.

Were Benedict’s address to the academicians at Regensburg taken seriously by theologians, that is, were it understood personally, as addressed to themselves, they could hardly have failed to recognize that the Pope’s empha­sis upon the free historicity of truth applies to their own vocation.  Theology also must avoid the dehistoricizing of man and God that is the hallmark of the secular consciousness.  Theology has as its subject the historical faith of the historical Church in the historical Lordship of Jesus the Christ.  The focus of the Symbol of Chalcedon on this historical Lordship of Jesus cannot but be discomfiting to the practitioners of a theological method whose systematic disinterest in or dismissal of the human historicity of Jesus is lately confused with historical consciousness.  It may be hoped that the Pope’s clarion call for the renewal of the loyalty to Truth, obviously indis­pens­able to theological quaerens intellectum, will awaken theological com­mu­nity from its aprioristic slumbers, to a return to its proper quest, the systematic inquiry into the historical faith of the historical Church.

In the meantime, contemporary Christology assumes still to be in issue doctrines which have long since been solemnly defined at the Council of Chalcedon.[9]  Without significant exception, both Catholic and Orthodox syste­matic theologians still suppose the diophysism of Antiochene Chris­tol­o­gy and the monophysism of the Alexandrine tradition to exhaust the possi­bil­ities of Christological speculation, with the current consensus clearly in favor of Antioch.[10]  A sympathetic treatment of the Antiochene Christology has become the fashion over the fifty years since J. L. McKenzie rebuked Francis Sullivan’s criticism of Theodore of Mopsuestia.[11]  During the same period, a parallel Trinitarian application of Aristotelian monism produced a Trinitarian theology similarly sympathetic to Theodore’s identification of the Father with the divine Substance.[12]  Meanwhile, the Catholic academy’s interest in systematic theology prior to the Second Vatican Council had waned: the political theology which so largely replaced it has been com­mit­ted to restating the Catholic tradition in a manner responsive to secular modernism.  Its success has not been persuasive.[13]

Karl Rahner brought these tendencies to a focus in The Trinity, in which a Christology and Trinitarian theology reminiscent of Theodore of Mopsuestia’s are conjoined in a radical departure from the definitions of the homoousion of the Son with the Father, at Nicaea, and, at Chalcedon, with us.[14]  The source of Rahner’s doctrinal dissonance is his uncritical suppose­tion that theology can and must consist in the subordination of the Catholic tradition to an unconverted Aristotelian metaphysics whose monism, for him, is simply a rational necessity.  Thus understood, theology becomes the sub­mis­sion of the free truth of the deposit of faith to the immanent neces­si­ties of the Aristotelian act-potency analysis.  The historical Catholic tradi­tion is thereby dehistoricized and undone, reduced to the ideal a priori impli­ca­tions of the formal logic upon which the act-potency analysis relies.  Theological inquiry, traditionally a doctrinally-informed fides quaerens intellectum, is thereby reduced to an impossible quest for the antecedent possibility of the free truth, the Mysterium fidei, in such wise that the theologian finds himself alienated from the historical tradition precisely insofar as he pursues a systematic inquiry seeking a nonhistorical goal.

This situation, however time-honored, is without justification.  Although it reached its current radical impasse only in the late twentieth century, its underlying error, the cosmological dehistoriciza­tion of the Johannine Logos sarx egeneto, appeared at the beginning of theological speculation.[15]  Already in the latter half of the second century, Justin, Theophilus, Athenagoras, Tertullian and, particularly, Ireneus, had recognized that the object of theological inquiry is historical: viz., Jesus the Christ, the second Adam, at once the eternal Son of the Father and the historical Son of Mary, “one and the same,” whose unity was the commonplace of the faith of the primitive Church, expressed inter alia in a hymnody coeval with the liturgy itself and incorporated in it.

The anonymous authors of these hymns, “sung ‘to Christ as to God,[16] were clearly untroubled by the incompatibility of their faith in Jesus’ divinity with the demands of formal logic.  Their faith had been mediated to them by and in their participation in the Church’s radically Eucharistic liturgy, whose affirmation of the divinity of the Son of the Virgin Mary was at one with the recognition of his eternal Sonship.  This insight is summed up in Irenaeus’ recognition that Jesus the Christ, the Son of Mary, is the Eternal Son of the Father, “one and the same”─this despite his occasional inadvertent subscription to the dehistoricized reading of the “logos sarx egeneto.” Perhaps before him, Tertullian read the “Logos” of Jn. 1:1 and 1:14 as the title of the historical Son, rejecting the dehistoricization of the Christ which has plagued systematic theology ever since, requiring as it does precisely that theological quaerens be intent upon discovering the anteced­ent immanent possibility of the “logos sarx egeneto.”  It was obvious to Tertullian in the Apologeticus, as to Justin Martyr’s preliminary version of Irenaeus’ Adversus Haereses, that the Incarnation, grace par excellence, can have no antecedent possibility: the mystery of the faith is a free revela­tion, a free gift of free truth, not an inference from anything antecedently known or knowable.  Secondly, it is evident that one cannot say of an absolute “immanent Logos” that he “became” anything at all: the possibility of such change is foreclosed a priori by his divine immutability. 

The Arian denial of the divinity of the Word was then waiting in the wings.  Even when that error was disposed of at Nicaea, the correlative here­sies of Nestorius and of Eutyches become inevitable, for each rested on the same pagan postulate: the a priori nonhistoricity of the divine Son, the ‘imma­n­ent Logos’ who under no conceivable rationale could “become flesh.”

Despite the stress of Tertullian and Irenaeus upon the Personal identity of Jesus with the eternal Son, the Middle Platonic Logos doctrine over­shadowed the patristic interpretation of Jn. 1:14 from the middle of the third century.[17]  It educed a proto-Nestorian Christology in some monastic follow­ers of Origen, the “Origenists” misled by the cosmological analysis which cannot accept the communication of idioms in Christ that is foundational for Origen’s Christology.  Nonetheless, the Origenist mediante anima Christolo­gy, by way of Gregory of Nazianzen, influenced Western Christology through Augus­tine who, under that influence, understood the immateriality of the human soul to provide the prior condition of possibility of the Incarnation―which can have none.[18] With the ‘reception of Aristotle’ in the thirteenth century, the nonhistorical Logos continued to haunt the theological academy by way of St. Thomas’ assignment of the transcendent unity of the absolute One of Neoplatonism to the One God, the Deus Unus who, as Absolute, could relate to nothing.  Thus the Logos, insofar as identi­fied with the Trinity-immanent divine Son, homoousios with the Father and the Holy Spirit, as simply divine, could not “become flesh;” i.e., could not become a historical human Son.[19]

Following Maximus Confessor, St. Thomas could not understand the Son as “consubstantialem nobis,” i.e., with of each of us as human, in such wise as to support the inference that Jesus’ is a human Person―although we may suppose he would be hard put to deny that Mary bore a human Son whose divinity he could not challenge.[20]  In any event, St. Thomas’ Chris­tol­o­­gy supposes Jesus’ humanity, which he considers to have concrete existence, to have a merely instrumental role in our redemption; for him, the salvific agency belongs to the non-human, nonhistorical, eternal Word, the hyposta­sis of the Incarnation, which makes it difficult to grasp how the faith of the Church can affirm that “Jesus is Lord”[21]

In Karl Rahner’s Christology, the same quandary found expression in an adoptionism echoing the Sabellian monism condemned by Pope Callistus early in the third century.  Fifty years later, two provincial councils of Antioch condemned Paul of Samosata’s unitarian reading of homoousios with its quasi-Sabellian, adoptionist reduction of Jesus to merely human standing.[22]

It is evident that John the Evangelist’s stress upon the unity of Jesus the Christ against the proto-gnostic Docetic heresy of his time must control any reading of “Logos” in his Gospel, and particularly must control the exegesis of the “Logos sarx egeneto.”  The Johannine use of “Logos” is comprehensible only as a title of the historical Christ upon whose concrete unity John was so intent.  The Syriac tradition, from Ignatius and Polycarp to Irenaeus, followed the Evangelist’s emphasis upon the unity of Christ.  Irenaeus passed on his nuclear summary of the Johannine Christology to the Church as the radical answer to the Gnostic movement: Jesus the Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever, is the “one and the same” eternal Son of the eternal Father and historical, human Son of the Virgin Mary.

The false problem of providing antecedently for the unity of Jesus the Christ, which prior to Chalcedon fascinated the Antiochenes and the Alexandrines alike, and which continues to plague contemporary Chris­tol­o­gy, rests upon an uncritical, abstract, and nonhistorical exegesis of Jn. 1:14, which presupposes a non-historical, pre-human, divine Logos, an Absolute whose “becoming” flesh (sarx) is impossible by definition, and who by defi­ni­tion can be related to nothing.  The time-honored dehistoricization of the “Logos sarx egeneto” by the a priori postulate of the absolute immanence of the divine touches also the “sarx” of Jn. 1:14.  This term was understood by the Old Testament tradition as well as by John and Paul to denote concrete participation unto death in the process of disintegration that is existential historical fallenness.  The Fathers, under the influence of a Platonizing cosmology, generally read the sarx or caro of this text as abstract “humanity.”  Thus, they uncritically understood “Logos sarx egeneto” to be an assertion that the nonhistorical Word became nonhistorical man.[23]

The academic Christological tradition has been content with this systematic absurdity, together with its further implication, the dehistori­ciz­ing of the Father’s sending of the Son to give the Holy Spirit, which imports a parallel dehistoricization of the Trinity.  The current disinterest in systema­tic theology, thus methodologically removed from history, is entirely justi­fied.  So understood, theology is deprived a priori of its sole possible subject matter, the free historical institution, by the One Sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, of the New Covenant, the New Creation, the full gift of the Holy Spirit by the Son in obedience to his Mission from the Father whereby, “made flesh,” he is, as head of the Church and so of the New Creation, the first fruits of the restoration of free unity to our fallen history.

This restoration, the recapitulation of all things in Christ, taught by Paul in Ephesians and then taken up by Irenaeus to be the center of his Christology, is achieved on the Cross and the Altar, indissociably, by the sacrificial institution of the One Flesh of Christ and the Church, the restoration of free unity to a humanity locked into the necessary disunity of sarx by the fall of the first Adam.  Our fallen solidarity with the first Adam is our imprisonment in the sin and death of the flesh; our free solidarity with Christ is our free entry into the free unity of the One Flesh, the New Covenant, the good creation made so by Jesus’ obedience unto death, “death on the Cross,” whose triumph over sin and death is the full gift of the Holy Spirit to the historical Church.  Our free solidarity with the second Adam’s victory over death, as the single remedy for our unfree solidarity with the first Adam fall into sin and death, is comprehensible on no other basis than the passage, by faith in Christ, from the fatality of the flesh to the free unity of the One Flesh of the New Covenant, the nuptial unity of the second Adam and the second Eve, of the Head and the Body.  There is no doubt that this solidarity is ex gratia, but that gratuity remains a merely nominal theological assertion until an intelligible account is provided of the free, historical community in Christo of those thus graced.  It is patent that there is no free human community save that which, by its covenantal fidelity, images the free circumincession (perichōresis) of the Trinity, and does so as nuptially ordered: no other intelligible account of human freedom in society exists.

We have seen that egress from theological dead-end posed by the dehistoricization of the Johannine Logos sarx egeneto is possible only by returning to the foundation of the doctrinal tradition, viz., the liturgical affirmation that Jesus is the Lord.  This liturgically-sustained dogma of the full humanity and full divinity of Jesus is explicitly affirmed eight times in the Chalcedonian Symbol, whose unitary Christology has been systematically ignored for the more than fifteen centuries since its proclamation.  Theological imagination, insofar as locked into a monist and cosmological metaphysics, simply could not then and cannot now understand the liturgical faith-affirmation of Jesus’ Lordship to literally true, i.e., as metaphysically and historically intelligible.  Karl Rahner has spoken well for that mentality: for him, our historical experience of “person” is not sacramentally, i.e., liturgically, informed by the nuptial symbolism pervading the Church’s historical worship, and so can provide no basis for attributing subjective selfhood to the Trinitarian “Persons” without lapsing into a tritheism.

However, the Chalcedonian symbol required and continues to require a complete discard of and conversion from that monist mentality, that nonhistorical cosmological consciousness, which the Fathers inherited from the Greeks and which has been sedulously handed on to generation after generation of theology students as though indistinguishable from rationality itself.  During the past century Catholic scholars have even come to identify this monist rationalization of history with a supposed “historical consciousness” which they deem indispensable to honest scholarly inquiry―to the point, in at least one signal instance, of praising such “historical consciousness” as the vindication of Modernism.[24]  This viewpoint was thought to be the precondition of a properly ‘presuppo­sition­less’ exegesis, and of theological scholarship generally.  Not much has changed since then insofar as Catholic theology is concerned, although a certain dissatisfaction with the ideological purity of Modernism has arisen here and there.[25]  Today it must be stressed yet again that the Catholic tradition, the paradosis that is at bottom Eucharistic and only on that basis is doctrinal and moral, is the indispensable foundation of the fides quaerens intellectum that theology must be if it is to be Catholic: i.e., if it is to be grounded in history.  Only in the ecclesial, liturgical, radically Eucharistic tradition of the historical Truth, the Word made flesh, the “one and the same­” Son” proclaimed eight times at Chalcedon, who is Eucharistically immanent in the Church as her Head and thereby the Head of the good creation, does history have the freely intelligible unity presupposed by free histori­cal inquiry.  Absent a scholarly commitment to this liturgical media­tion of the salvific unity of history, historical scholarship can only deny the intelligibility of history, and will search in vain for an ideal Truth.  This disinterest is not a Catholic option: it consists in the refusal of the moral responsibility inherent in the appropriation of intellectual freedom whose single alternative is a humanly unbearable nihilism, soon to masked by an idolatry.

It has been evident since Plato that history has no abstract or ideal unity: historicism is always illusion.  Only in the concrete liturgical praxis of the Church’s radically Eucharistic worship do the past, the present and the future find their free synthesis, in the transcendent immanence of the Eucharistic Lord of history, whose transcendence, whose Lordship, is the free integration of the past, the present and the future―of the Old Covenant, the New Covenant, and the Kingdom of God―into the history of salvation.  History has no other unity than this, its Eucharistic integration, its consequently salvific significance and efficacy.  “Historical consciousness” consists in the free appropriation of this significance, this salvation, in ecclesia, in sacramento.

The historical significance of the Eucharistic presence of Christ has been under-appreciated simply because it has been dissociated from Jesus’ Lordship of history, his headship of all creation: he is thus the Lord of history and the head of creation by his Personal Eucharistic immanence in the history and in the creation which by that immanence he has redeemed. The reaction to Berengarius’ perceived denial of the concrete historical imman­ence of Jesus in the Eucharist issued in a stress upon the objective or “Real Presence,” but not upon the event-character of that Presence which, as historical and free, nevertheless could not but be that of the Event of his Lordship, his institution of the New Covenant.  It even became a common­place that the Mission of the Son terminates in the Incarnation, not in the institution of the Covenant.[26]  It is more than likely that failed efforts of theologians such as Johannes Betz and Alexander Gerken to substitute for it a dynamic “Aktualpräsenz” are reactions to a “Real Presence” thus statically conceived.[27]  The Thomist theology of a Eucharistic presence of the Christ “per modum substantiae” is a systematic summation of theology of Eucharistic “substantial change” originally excogitated by Guitmond of Aversa, and the development of that insight into a theology of Eucharistic “sub­stan­tial presence,” by Alger of Liége and his pupil, Gregory of Berga­mo, in order to account for the immunity of the consecrated species from the empirical (“accidental”) changes worked by fallen time and space.  We have seen that this had been the purpose of Augustine’s famous Eucharistic injunction, “Spiritualiter intelligite!” uttered seven centuries before Guitmond.[28]

In this medieval development of patristic theology, the immunity of the Real Presence from submission to fallen historicity continued to be under­stood defensively, as countering, e.g., a vulgar “Capharnaitism,” but not yet positively, as that immunity actually is, viz., the lordly and redemptive tran­scendence of history by Christ, the head.  The Eucharistic liturgy had of course recognized and affirmed Jesus’ Lordship of history from the outset, but medieval and contemporary theologians have given it little theological attention, with the result that the Christ’s Lordship was not understood by patristic and medieval theologians to be Eucharistic, and still is not.  Consequently Catholic theologians, failing to understand history to be theologically intelligible precisely as Eucharistically ordered, easily fall victim to views of history which are ill at ease with freedom[29]―although patristic scholars, notably de Lubac, have recognized that order, for it is explicit in an ancient catechetical couplet composed to account for the traditional historical senses of Scripture.[30]  Yet the sacramental objectivity of historical reality is the immediate implication of the historical realism of the Eucharistic sacrifice.  This sacramental objectivity of history is of course known only by revelation: the freedom of personal historical existence cannot otherwise be known.

The radical, most basic appropriation of this revealed truth can only be liturgical, by personal participation in the concrete recognition and affirmation of the Lordship of Jesus through his Eucharistic Presence to us in the Church’s worship, the priestly offering in his Name of the One Sacrifice.  This worship, this Eucharist, grounds all that the Church has taught of Jesus the Christ her Lord who, by his Eucharist Lordship of the Church, is inexorably the Lord of history.  Precisely as head of the fallen creation, he is the single source of its free and ordered unity, whose objectivity must in consequence be sacramental, for it derives from his Eucharistic historicity.  To repeat: there is no intelligible unity history other than that of which Jesus is the Eucharistic Lord and Head, the Archē of its freely ordered salvific unity, the unity of the Church’s sacramental worship.  Attempts to construct an intelligible historical unity, whether “scientific” or ideal, have been obsolete since 1931, when Kurt Gödel published his incompleteness theorems.  With their publication, the rationalist optimism of the Enlightenment died.  The sole remaining alternative to the historicity of Catholic sacramental realism is the reduction of history to nullity that we find in academic Hinduism and Buddhism and, lately, in some adepts of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics.

However unlikely the assertion of the sacramental objectivity of the historical order of reality may appear, the quest for a unity necessarily intrinsic to history has never succeeded.  Pursued currently in the realm of high-energy physics, it goal remains as elusive as it was for the Pythagoreans.  The dominant Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics regards the postulate of the intrinsic unity and intelligibility of the empirical universe as unnecessary, and accepts the consequent dehistoricization of the subject matter of physics, a project difficult to square with the experimental method whose perhaps supreme achievement was to have discovered the quantum of energy in the first place.  The philosophical or speculative quest for historical unity has fared no better: it finds itself obliged to choose between asserting the necessary rational unity of being, which immediately undercuts the free integrity of the quest itself or, refusing that postulate, the quest can only to turn in upon itself: one may think here of Husserl’s “bracketing” of all metaphysical interest in order to pursue a rigorously scientific scrutiny of consciousness which, without metaphysical standing, could only disintegrate under the rigors of an analysis whose norms, if not arbitrary, could only be those of immanent logical necessi­ty―whose application, in either case, is merely to beg the phenomeno­logi­cal question of the unity of consciousness.

Despite these rational dilemmas, there is a universally lived persuasion that historical rationality is not only possible but actual in man’s world, a visceral conviction that in this fallen universe we nonetheless live out a personal and communal history which, as human, is free and morally significant here and now simply as rational, as reasonable, as inseparable from concrete personal participation in a free consensus upon the public decencies of a free community.

It is this free and thus moral consensus, weakened but still effective, upon which we must rely to support our personal dignity, however little we may otherwise regard its prescriptions and proscriptions.  Whatever our view of a final judgment may be, we learn that the assertion of our own personal dignity, our own indefeasible moral stature as morally responsible members of a free community, is in practice impossible to avoid.  Efforts to rationalize it have long shown this claim of personal dignity to be at once irrational and inconvenient, but the human mind is not encompassed by its fallen logic; we all freely reject and in practice transcend such rational necessities, and this for reasons that reason cannot know, as has famously been remarked.

This is our salvation: that while we can confect justifications for a despair of our own significance, we need not, for they affront our self-respect, our personal dignity, and we know at a most profound level that we should not, for only a common intuition that we are made for joy can explain our universal propensity to celebrate our life commemorate our dead. 

It is not accidental that the celebration underlying all others should be of our nuptiality.[31]  It is finally the Catholic faith in Jesus the Christ that grounds this celebration, for his constitutive exercise of Lordship is his institution of the One Flesh of the New Covenant, the only free community, the only free truth and therefore the only source of beauty that our fallen world can boast and which, as Catholic, we celebrates above all else.  This nuptial union, the sancta societas, is the free order of the good creation as redeemed, whereby all things have been made new. This free order is perceived, however dimly, across all human history, as John Paul has emphasized in Fides et Ratio: our human quest for understanding, is indefeasibly historical, and our insistent freedom, our refusal to be accept limits upon the freedom of our own rationality, is sustained only by the transcendent reality of the Mysterium fidei upon which it cannot but be focused, for in seeking the Ultimate, at once the Beautiful and the Good, it seeks Jesus the Lord, our the head, the Lord of history, the source of our freedom.  It is thus that, as Augustine knew, our hearts are restless until they rest in him.

a. The Chalcedon


i. The Greek Text  of the Symbol of Chalcedon

The Greek text of the definition of Chalcedon, as published in Denzinger-Schönmetzer *301-*302, is established today.  As is there noted (at p. 108) the previously disputed reading of “ek duo physeōn” (out of two natures) in verse 17 has been clearly proven to be “en duo physesin” (in two natures), not only from the majority of manuscripts and from early testimonies, especially the Latin version of Rusticus,[32]  but likewise from the deliberations of the Council itself.  The Definitio is as follows:

Ἑπόμενοι τοίνυν τοῖς ἁγίοις πατράσιν ἕνα καὶ τὸν αὐτὸν ὁμολογεῖν υἱὸν τὸν κύριον ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν συμφώνως ἅπαντες ἐκδιδάσκομεν, τέλειον τὸν αὐτὸν ἐν θεότητι καὶ τέλειον τὸν αὐτὸν ἐν ἀνθρωπότητι, θεὸν ἀληθῶς καὶ ἄνθρωπον ἀληθῶς τὸν αὐτὸν, ἐκ ψυχῆς λογικῆς  τῷ πατρὶ κατὰ τὴν θεότητα, καὶ ὁμοούσιον τὸν αὐτὸν ἡμῖν κατὰ τὴν ἀνθρωπότητα, κατὰ πάντα ὅμοιον ἡμῖν χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας· πρὸ αἰώνων μὲν ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς γεννηθέντα κατὰ τὴν θεότητα, ἐπ᾽ ἐσχάτων δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν τὸν αὐτὸν δἰ ἡμᾶς καὶ διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν ἐκ Μαρίας τῆς παρθένου τῆς θεοτόκου κατὰ τὴν ἀνθρωπότηταἕνα καὶ τὸν αὐτὸν Χριστόν, υἱόν, κύριον, μονογενῆ, ἐκ δύο φύσεων [ἐν δύο φύσε­σιν]ἀσυγχύτως, ἀτρέπτωςἀδιαιρέτως, ἀχωρίσ­τως γνωριζόμενον· οὐδαμοῦ τῆς τῶν φύσεων διαφορᾶς ἀνῃρη­μέ­νης διὰ τὴν ἕνωσιν, σωζομένης δὲ μᾶλλον τῆς ἰδιότητος ἑκατέρας φύσεως καὶ εἰς ἓν πρόσωπον καὶ μίαν ὑπὸστασιν συντρεχούσης, οὐκ εἰς δύο πρόσωπα μεριζόμενον ἢ διαιρούμενον, ἀλλ᾽ ἕνα καὶ τὸν αὐτὸν υἱὸν καὶ μονογενῆ, θεὸν λόγον,  Χριστόν· καθάπερ ἄνωθεν οἱ προφῆται περὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ αὐτὸς ἡμᾶς ὁ κύριος Ιησοῦς Χριστὸς ἐξεπαίδευσε καὶ τὸ τῶν πατέρων ἡμῖν καραδέδωκε σύμβολον.

Denzinger-Schönmetzer *301-02, p. 108.

ii. The Latin Text of the Symbol of Chalcedon

1. Sequentes igitur sanctos Patres [= therefore following the holy Fathers]

2. unum eundemque confiteri Filium [= one and the same Son is to be confessed]

3. Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum [= Our Lord Jesus Christ]

4. consonanter omnes docentes [= we teach with one voice]

5. eundem perfectum in deitate [= the same, perfect in Godhead]

6. eundem perfectum in humanitate [= the same, perfect in manhood]

7. Deum vere et hominem vere [= truly God and truly man]

8. eundem ex anima rationali et corpore [= the same (consisting) of a rational soul and a body]

9. consubstantialem Patri secundum deitatem [= consubstantial with the Father according to his divinity]

10. et consubstantialem nobis eundem secundum humanitatem [= and the same consubstantial with us according to his  humanity]

11. per omnia nobis similem absque peccato, [= made in all things like us, without sin]

12. ante saecula quidem de Patre genitum secundum deitatem [= begotten of his Father before the worlds as to his divinity]

13. in novissimis autem diebus [= in these last days]

14. eundem propter nos et propter nostram salutem [= the same, for us men and for our salvation]

15. ex Maria Virgine Dei genitrice secundum humanitatem [= (conceived) of the Virgin Mary the Mother of God as to his humanity]

16. unum eundemque Christum Filium Dominum unigenitum [= This one and the same Jesus Christ the Lord, only-begotten Son]

17. in duabus naturis [= in two natures]

18. inconfuse, immutabiliter, indivise, inseparabiliter agnoscendum, [= must be confessed to be (in two natures) unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably (united)]

19. nusquam sublata differentia naturarum propter unitionem [= and nowhere is the distinction of the natures taken away because of the union]

20. magisque salva proprietate utriusque naturae [= but rather the property of each nature being preserved]

21. et in unum personam atque subsistentiam concurrente [= and being united in one Person and subsistence]

22. non in duas personas partitum sive divisum [= not separated or divided into two persons]

23. sed unum et eundem filium unigenitum [= but one and the same only-begotten Son]

24. Deum verbum dominum Jesum Christum [= God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ]

25. sicut ante prophetae de eo [= as the prophets of old, concerning him]

26. et ipse nos Jesus Christus erudivit [= and as Jesus Christ himself has taught us]

27. et patrum nobis symbolum dedit.  [= and as the Creed of the Fathers has delivered to us.]

DS §*301-*302; the English translation is a literal rendition of the Latin; see Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers; Second Series, 14: The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church. Their Canons And Dog­ma­tic Decrees Together With The Canons Of All The Local Synods Which Have Received Ecumenical Acceptance.  Edited With Notes Gathered From The Writings Of The Greatest Scholars by Henry Percival, M.A., D.D.

2. A Resumé of the History and Doctrine of the Symbol of Chalcedon [33]

a. The Composition and the Sources of the Symbol

It is clear that the Fathers of Chalcedon would never have composed a special symbol (creed) unless compelled to it by the Emperor Marcian who, at the first session of the Council, expressed through his commissioners his firm desire of a clear expression of the faith of the Church in opposition to the contemporary errors.  The Bishops insisted that no new symbol could be made, but that they must stand by the faith of the Fathers.  The Symbol of Nicaea, the Symbol of Constantinople, Cyril’s Second Letter to Nestorius, his letter “Laetentur coeli” [Let the Heavens Rejoice] to John of Antioch with the Formula of Union, and Leo’s Letter to Flavian [variously called The Dogmatic Letter, The Tome of Leo, etc.] were read with shouted acclamation by the Bishops, who proclaimed it “the faith of the Fathers, of Cyril, of Leo, of the Apostles.”

However, three passages in Leo’s letter were objected to by certain bishops who had just come over from the side of Dioscorus, including the “for he acts by both forms” of the later symbol of Chalcedon.  Theodoret of Cyrus pointed out parallel passages in Cyril’s letters, and almost all agreed that Leo and Cyril were in accord.  The Patriarch Anatolius of Constantinople and the Papal Legates undertook to explain the Leonine doctrine to the doubting Bishops, until they agreed.

Then the Patriarch Anatolius and a commission drew up a symbol which contained none of the important elements of Leo’s letter, and used instead the phrase “out of two natures.” This aroused great opposition and the Roman legates threatened to withdraw.

The Emperor then commanded that a commission be picked to retire into the chapel of St. Euphemia and draw up a symbol to which all could agree; otherwise he would transfer the Council to the West.  When the Bishops continued with their protests, the Imperial commissioners placed before them the dilemma: Do you follow Dioscorus (out of two natures [one]) or Leo (unconfused and undivided and inseparable)? The Bishops shouted for Leo, and the commission was chosen to make the definition in accord with his teaching.  The result was the Symbol of Chalcedon.

b. Analysis of the Symbol by Sources

The investigation of the internal structure of the symbol reveals the fact that the Fathers of Chalcedon, though apparently acceding to the Imperial wishes, have in fact stood by their refusal to draw up a new symbol.  For the Symbol of Chalcedon is a mosaic, based chiefly on the three letters mentioned above, and the Symbols of Nicaea and I Constantinople, together with a few minor sources.

Verses 2, 3, 5, & 6 repeat almost word for word the beginning of the Formula of Union.

Verse 7 shows an evident dependence on the formula of Leo “He who is true God, the same is true man.”

Verses 8-15 are almost word for word from the Formula of Union, though in a different order.

Verse 16 elaborates slightly the “one Christ, one Son, one Lord” of the Formula of Union.

Verses 17-18 are the two verses from Leo’s letter ---in duabus naturis [= in two natures] inconfuse, immutabiliter, indivise, inseparabiliter agnoscendum, [= must be confessed to be (in two natures) unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably (united)]―whose inclusion in the proposed symbol of Anatolius was insisted on by the Papal Legates and the Imperial commissioners.

Verse 19 is, except for the “nowhere,” directly from Cyril’s Second Letter to Nestorius.

Verses 20-21 are a slight variation of a clause of Leo’s with the important addition of “and one hypostasis” to the “one prosōpon” of Leo’s letter.  This added phrase is a contribution of the Profession of Faith of Flavian, the former Patriarch of Constantinople, which had been read at the Council in connection with the trial of Eutyches.

Verse 22 closely resembles a phrase of a letter of Theodoret of Cyrus, and may be his, since he was present at the Council, though not on the Commission.

Verses 23-24 are a repetition of verses 2-3 with the addition of “only-begotten” which had been omitted in verse 2.

Verses 25-27 are the concluding formula composed by the Fathers of the Council.

Thus the final definition is a happy recapitulation of the Christological formulas of both Oriental (Greek & Syrian) and Western (Latin) Fathers.  It is also to be noted that since the majority of the quotations are from Cyril’s letters, the later rejection of the Council by the Monophysites as anti-Cyrilline was unjustified: Theotokos doctrine of Chalcedon was only a repetition of that upon which Cyril had insisted at Ephesus against the Nestorian diophysism.  But Dioscorus in particular read this doctrine as a concession to the Antiochene insistence upon the full humanity of Jesus, thus as Cyril’s departure from his consistent emphasis upon the unity of Jesus the Lord, whose Person he had understood to be the divine Logos, whose relation to a human nature was “notional,” i.e., conceptual rather than actual.

c. The Doctrine of the Symbol

The distinctive characteristics of the Symbol of Chalcedon are its simplicity and synthetic vigor.  In contradistinction to other Symbols or official credal formulae, it does not present a summary of the entire economy of salvation.  Rather, by way of complement to the Symbols of Nicaea and Constantinople, it deals only with a doctrine then controverted: the Personal unity of Jesus the Christ, and the duality of his natures.  Although the Council of Ephesus had emphasized the identity of the Son of God with the Son of Mary, and the identity of the divine Logos with the man, Jesus, two things still remained obscure: (1) the kind of unity which unites God and man in Christ, and (2) the terminological expression of this unity.

The original contribution of the Symbol of Chalcedon consisted in a synthesis of the definition of Ephesus with the clear post-Ephesus expres­sions of both East and West (The Formula of Union and Leo’s Tome) concern­ing the duality of natures, effected by emphasizing the duality of the fullness of humanity and of divinity which remained perfect and unchanged even given their union in one Person, one Prosōpon (Ρρσωπον) or Hypostasis (υπóστασις).

The significance of the formula of Chalcedon is to be found in the fact that in short, classical terms a distinction was elaborated which enabled the duality of Jesus the Christ, as well as his Personal unity, that of “one and the same Son,” to appear clearly.  By the incorporation of the concept of hypostasis (in close connection with that of prosōpon) and the simultaneous separation of this concept from the Greek term, physis,(φσις), the “natura” of vv. 17, 19, and 20, it was linguistically possible to reject both the Monophysist blending and the Nestorian separation of the humanity and divinity of Jesus in a clear and unequivocal manner: Jesus the Christ is a single Person, as the Ephesian Formula of Union had already indicated.

The mediator of the Chalcedonian Christological synthesis between (a) Leo’s formula, (b) the Christology of the Antiochenes, and (c) the doctrine of the Council of Ephesus, was the Formula of Union (433), probably composed by Theodoret of Cyr for the Antiochenes in protest against the Apollinarian flavor of the anathemata in Cyril’s Third Letter to Nestorius.  The Formula was accepted by Cyril in his Letter to John of Antioch, for it affirmed the one thing necessary, the full humanity and the full divinity of Christ the Lord in according to his mother the title of Theotokos.  The incorporation this Formula into the Chalcedonian Symbol manifested the Council’s approval of the terminology of the Antiochene school, which was almost identical with that of Leo and the West.

B. Theological Import of the Symbol of Chalcedon

1. The Duplex Consubstantiality of the “One and the Same” Son

While the Council of Ephesus had not spoken of the Son as consubstantial with us in our humanity, the reality of his consubstantiality with us was certainly affirmed in the Conciliar approval of the Theotokos title for Mary.  This was a crucial doctrinal development: while directly intending to assert the full divinity of the Son, Jesus the Christ, employing the Cyrillian ‘communication of idioms’ to that end; that doctrinal insight entailed also what Chalcedon would define, the Son’s consubstantiality with us, for the communication of idioms which affirms Mary’s motherhood of God is metaphysically grounded by his Personal community in the human substance of Theotokos, which can only be his consubstantiality with her, and so with us, for the homoousios of Jesus with the Father demands a common subsistence in the numerically same substance.  This unity of the divine substance is alone consistent with the full divinity of Jesus the Son; the unity of the human substance is alone consistent with his full humanity.  It is obvious that the definition of Jesus’ consubstantiality “with us” requires a radical revision of the “anthropological turn” characterizing post-Vatican II Christology.

However, the hostility of the Monophysites to the ‘two natures” Chris­tolo­gy of the Formula of Union continued.  Upon Cyril’s death in 444, Dios­co­rus had succeeded to the See of Alexandria.  Here, abetted by the monk Eutyches, he had resumed and lead a fierce opposition to the diophysism of the Formula of Union: specifically to the assertion of the full humanity of Jesus the Christ, which he identified with adoptionism.

The post-Ephesian reviviscence of Monophysitism under these quite virulent auspices prompted a misapprehension of the task before them.  Some few among the Fathers at Chalcedon were under the impression that their task was to achieve a reconciliation of the Alexandrine and the Antio­chene rationalizations of the Incarnation, each of which supposed the pre-human Logos to be the subject of Jn. 1:14, and thus to be the subject of the Incarnation.  The heirs of the Antiochene Logos-anthrōpos Christology and of the Alexandrine Logos-sarx Christology alike took for granted that the primary task of Christology is the rationalizing of the historical immanence of the supposedly non-historical Logos.

The logic of this mistake had driven the extremists in each school into heresy.  From this dilemma there was in fact no exit.  In brief, it supposed that Jn. 1:14 taught that the non-human Logos became man in an abstract sense, not that the historical Jesus of Jn. 1:1, Jn. 1:14, I Jn. 4:2, and Phil. 2:6-7 became flesh, assuming that “form of a slave” which characterizes our fallen humanity.  As Bouyer’s survey of biblical scholarship has shown, in the Marcan, Lucan and Johannine Gospels “Logos” is a title of Jesus the Christ: no other interpretation of that word has scriptural support.

In a critical moment in their deliberations, and under pressure for a decision from Emperor Marcian, the Fathers at Chalcedon chose to ignore this false problem, and to proceed to give doctrinal expression to the faith of the Church in Jesus the Christ, the Lord of history, as fully human, fully divine, and one Son, one Lord, one subsistence in two irreducible, unmixed and inseparable substances, by which unique Personal subsistence who is Jesus the Lord is consubstantial with the Father and with us.

This faith that Jesus is the Lord, whose dogmatic foundation had been laid at Nicaea, had been challenged by the Nestorians who were condemned at Ephesus.  Eighteen years later, at the “Robber Council” of Ephesus, the faith affirmed at Nicaea and again at Ephesus was challenged by the Mono­physite rejection to the Formula of Union.  The Monophysites would reject also the Symbol of the Council of Chalcedon as unresponsive to their insistence upon a unity of nature in Jesus rather than the Personal unity of Jesus the Christ.  The effective dismissal by the Fathers at Chalcedon of the nonhistorical, cosmological interpretation of the Logos of Jn.1:1 amd 1:14 underlying both of these aberrant Christologies has continued to be incom­prehensible to theologians of the West as well as of the East, in such wise as to lead them to question the “reception” of the Symbol, with the impli­ca­tion that its doctrine is in some measure debatable until approved by a theology­cal consensus―which after fifteen centuries is still to be sought.  This assess­ment of Chalcedon as a failure is made by theologians still under the fascination of a supposed need to provide for the prior possibility of the ‘hominization’ of the nonhuman Word, the prior possibility then of his becoming historical, his becoming flesh.

It remains true however that the project of reconciling these irrecon­cilable solutions to a false problem, viz., that of resolving the supposed “aporia” of the Chalcedonian Symbol, which in fact constitutes the basic mystery of the faith in the Lordship of Jesus, did not interest the authors of the Symbol.  In acclaiming the stress of Pope Leo’s doctrine upon the historical Jesus the Christ, they dismissed the alternative abstract and nonhistorical academic concern for the historicization of a dehistoricized Logos.  Those theologians who still insist upon reading Jn. 1:14 as did the Nestorian and Monophysite heretics, i.e., as a statement about the non-historical Word, the ‘immanent Son,’ labor over a puzzlement unknown to the Apostolic tradition, which knows nothing of a Logos other than Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Father, who for our sakes became flesh.

Taught by the Councils of Nicaea, I Constantinople, and Ephesus, by the Tome of Leo and the Formula of Union, the Fathers at Chalcedon affirmed with the Council of Nicaea the full divinity of the one and the same Son, and his consubstantiality with the Father.  They affirmed with the Council of Ephesus and the Formula of Union the Son’s full humanity, and finally, they affirmed that which the confusion underlying the recent Christological debate had made difficult to conceive, the concretely historical personal unity of Jesus the Christ, the One and the same Son of the Father and of Theotokos.  This unity could only be Personal, for “Son” is a Personal Name, as Irenaeus had recognized two and a half centuries earlier. Thus, Irenaeus’ formula, “one and the same” became the leitmotif, the dominant theme, of the Symbol of Chalcedon.

The Symbol identifies the “one and the same Son” with Jesus the Christ.  Having asserted what it will reaffirm throughout, the unity of Jesus’ Sonship, i.e., of his Person, the Symbol proceeds, in vv. 5-8, to reaffirm the doctrine of Nicaea and Ephesus, i.e., that Jesus is fully divine and fully human.  Then, in the balanced clauses comprising vv. 9 & 10, the Symbol contradicts the monist metaphysics of personal “subsistence” by affirming the Son’s consubstantiality at once with his Father and with us (“consubstantialem nobis”―“moosioν mn”).  The consubstantiality of the Son with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and with us, implies his consubsistence with the persons, divine and human, with whom he is consubstantial.  This is inescapable, and is given at least implicit recognition in v. 21: “et in unum personam atque subsistentiam concurrente” [= and being united in one Person and subsistence].  The Symbol uses the Nicene term, “homoousios,” of the Son’s divinity and his humanity: this word, thus firmly established well prior to I Constantinople, affirms the numerical unity of the divine substance in which Jesus subsists as one and the same Son; applied to that same subsistence of the Son in humanity, it establishes the numerical unity of the multipersonal human substance.

Academic resistance on the standard cosmological grounds to the consequent free substantial unity of the human community of which Jesus is the Head and Archē has issued in debates over whether the Fathers understood that term as Athanasius had understood it, i.e., as asserting a numerical unity of the divine substance―as though the Fathers at those Councils were afflicted with polytheistic proclivities which cannot be proven to have been overcome in the Conciliar definitions.  These academic doubts, still the stuff of scholarly publication, are without theological signi­ficance, for neither Nicaea, I Constantinople, Ephesus nor Chalcedon taught theology or intended to solve the cosmological problems of Arius or Apolli­nar­ius or Nestorius or Eutyches.  The Conciliar concerns were always soteriological, which is to say liturgical and hence doctrinal: to require that they should have provided  a via media between competing theologies is to place the magisterial office in an entirely alien academic context.

Because of the clear incompatibility of Jesus’ subsistance at once in divinity and humanity, with the substantial monism of the human person as taught by the classic theological metaphysics, v. 9 of the Symbol has been widely misinterpreted and v. 10 has been given a minimalist application.  The homoousion of the Son with the Father has often been read, and still is being read, as by Karl Rahner and his disciples, in a monist sense which:  identifies the Father with the divine Substance and entails a modalist theology of the Trinity, while the homoousion of the Son with us in our humanity (consubstantialem nobis) has uniformly been read as though it were simply a nominal repetition of the doctrine of the full humanity of Jesus taught at Ephesus and affirmed by the Fathers at Chalcedon in vv. 5, 6, and 8, instead an assertion of the Son’s Personal consubstantiality “with us,” a doctrinal affirmation requiring the subsistence of a plurality of persons in the one human substance in which Jesus is consubstantial in the only manner possible to him who is its head: that is, precisely as our head, consubstantial with us as the Father, the head of the Trinity, is consubstantial with those of whom he is the head, i.e., the Son and the Holy Spirit. The substantial unity of humanity is quite as fundamental to Jesus’ consubstantiality with us as is the substantial unity of divinity to his consubstantiality with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Clearly, this consubstantiality with us in our humanity requires that community in the unique human substance which consubstantiality with the Father and with the Holy Spirit requires of the unique divine Substance.  We are long accustomed to the Nicene assertion, bizarre as it seemed to those theologians steeped in the Platonic and Aristotelian cosmologies, of three divine persons subsisting in the same and therefore single divine substance, but we must remember that the reception of the Nicene doctrine of the homoousios of the Son by the homoiousian Cappadocians required thirty-eight years (325-363) and even then only in the sense of its assimilation to the homoiousian doctrine of Basil of Ancyra; much as Hilary of Poitiers misunderstood ‘homoousion’ in his De synodis.

Quite as Jesus’ consubstantiality with the Father is not his identification with the divine Substance in which he subsists; neither is his consub­stantiality with us his identification with human substance in which also he subsists.  He is “consubstantialis cum nobis,” i.e., with the plurality of human persons, precisely as he is consubstantial with the plurality of divine Persons: i.e., with the Father and with the Holy Spirit, for the same word, homoousion, is used to designate both consubstantialities.  From this, we must infer that concrete distinctions between the divine Persons and the divine Substance which are real in the Trinity also concretely distinguish human persons from the human substance in which Jesus, like us in all things save sin, also subsists precisely as we do, for he is homoousios hemin (moosioν mn): i.e., “consubstanial with us.” 

Thus, just as his consubstantiality with the Father is also his consubstantiality with the Holy Spirit, so his consubstantiality with the Theotokos, as her Bridegroom, her head, is his consubstantiality with every human person, for he is the head of the human substance as the Father is the head of the divine Substance, the Trinity.  In short, headship, as it is attributed by Paul in I Cor. 11:3 to the Father, to Jesus, and to the husband, refers in each case to the Personal source of the free unity of the substance of which the head freely subsists. 

This doctrine simply eliminates any theological reliance upon the classic metaphysics of substance wherein the identity of each person, each “intellectual supposit,” with a distinct substance, divine or human, is taken to be a matter of definition.  The doctrine of the Son’s subsistence in two “natures” or substances, viz., in divinity and in humanity, eliminates the commonplace monist identification of each human “person” with subsistence in a personally unique human substance.  Insofar as the Church’s doctinal tradition is concerned, there is no monadic human substance just as there is no monadic divine substance.  Fifteen centuries after its solemn definitionm, contemporary Catholic theologians continue to find the communitarian reality of the human substance incomprehensible.

Nonetheless, just as Jesus subsists in the divine Substance, as does the Father, and as does the Holy Spirit, with each of which Persons the Son is consubstantial, so Jesus subsists in the human substance, as does Theotokos, and as do all of us, with each of whom he is consubstantial.  The Symbol of Chalcedon demands an entirely historical Christology, Trinitarian theology, and anthropology, conformed to Jesus’ consubstantiali­ty with each of us, as our Head, as sent by the Father.

This dogmatic fact, ignored by the regnant theological anthropology from its promulgation down to our own day, and currently threatened by modalist Trinitarian speculation, can no longer be ignored, given the recent magisterial assertion of the nuptiality of our imaging of God, which reminds us of what has long been forgotten, that the human substance is not monadic but as created is a free and nuptially-ordered community, and that only as thus substantially constituted by our creation in Christ do we image the free Community, the divine Substance, the Triune God.

The Chalcedonian Symbol requires a theological restatement of human substantiality, a restatement of theological anthropology consistent with the subsistence of the Son in the human substance, and consequently with his consubstantiality “with us”.  This restatement must take seriously, for the first time, the dogmatic fact that Jesus the Christ is the Head, in the sense set out in I Cor. 11:3-16, Col. 1:17, Eph. 1:10 and 5:21-33, of the human substance in which he uniquely subsists.  This free human substance cannot be other than the One Flesh of the New Covenant, the New Creation insti­tuted by his obedience “unto death” to his Mission from the Father, the accomplishment of which is his plenary gift of the Holy Spirit, on the Altar and the Cross inseparably, to the Bridal Church and, through her, to the New Creation, wherein the fragmentation of our fallenness and that of the world is undone, and all things are made new in Christ, the Head.

It is by and in this subsistence “with us,” his consubstantiality with us as our Head, that he is the Redeemer, for it is only by his subsistence in human substance as its Head that he is the source of the free, substantial unity of that humanity in which he subsists in free community, free consubstantiality, “cum nobis.”  The meaning of Headship as revealed in Christ is to be the source of free substantial unity.  We must infer, from Paul’s identification in Eph. 1:10 of our redemption by Christ as an anakephalaiosis, that the authority and office of the Head, whether as the Father, as Jesus the second Adam, or of the husband, is to be the source of the free unity of the substance of which he is the head: i.e., of the Trinity, of the free substantial unity of the redeemed humanity which as free, the marital One Flesh: As has many times noted in these volumes, this doctrine is set out by Paul with nuclear density and clarity in I Cor. 11:3.

Paul’s emphasis upon the headship of Christ in I Cor. 11:3-16, Col. 1:15ff. and Eph. 1:10 is at one with his stress upon the nuptial unity of Christ and the Church; his victory over death is the fulfillment of his Headship, for it is precisely as its Head that he restores to humanity the primordial free unity of the Good Creation: this restoration is Jesus’ sacrificial institution of the nuptial unity of the substantial One Flesh, by entry into which we are delivered from our sarkic disintegration: this passage from the fallen fragmentation of our flesh to the gift of  free community on the One Flesh of Christ and  his bridal Church is at once is our liberation and our redemption.

Only the exercise of the office of headship by Jesus the Christ makes this salvific solidarity theologically comprehensible, but not apart from a novel theological conversion to and systematization of the free and substantial unity of redeemed humanity, a unity which can have only a sacramental objectivity, for it is only as Eucharistically represented that Jesus, the risen Lord, is the Head: he has no other post-Resurrection historicity than this, whereby he is Lord of history.  It must be stressed that historical freedom is mere irrationality in any nonsacramental context: to this, the ongoing exor­cism of political freedom by the insistently secular jurisprudence taught by nearly all the major American and English law faculties over the past several decades offers an all too eloquent witness.

Theological anthropology must abandon any notion of human unity derived from sources incompatible with the Symbol of Chalcedon, which requires that Catholic theology come to terms with the free unity of the human substance in which our Lord freely subsists, ‘with us.”.  This free unity is precisely nuptial, that of the One Flesh, whose concrete historical objectivity is Eucharistic: the One Sacrifice instituting the One Flesh of the New Covenant in which terminates the Mission of Christ.  The insoluble problem of providing for sexual differentiation within the unity of the classic (Aristotelian-Thomist) anthropology must be abandoned as simply alien to Chalcedon and radically incompatible with the doctrinal tradition: its evident incoherence, manifest in the tension between the concrete individual and the abstract “species,” should have long since forced its theological rejection.  This permanent tension between monadic man and his community, simply the anthropological expression of the perennial pagan and neopagan dilemma of “the one and the many,” has been eliminated by the revelation of the free, nuptially ordered unity of the good creation that is good, and intelligible, only as created and sustained by the historical immanence of the head, Jesus the Christ, the Archē of humanity.  Only in Jesus the Christ, by his Mission from the Father, have we come to be.  We are created in him by the Gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spiritus Creator, whom by his One Sacrifice he has poured out upon his bridal Church, whereby she is freely One Flesh with him.  The immanence of Jesus the Lord, the Head, in his Good Creation, his New Covenant is historical, his salvific exercise of his Eucharistic Lordship of history. 

To enter into this redemptive historicity is to accept, to appropriate personally, its free nuptial order, that unity of which our Lord has said that what God has joined man may not put asunder.  This created unity of the One Flesh is the unity of humanity, of the New Creation: it cannot but be substantial, and free, for it is Eucharistically sustained.

The time-honored theological dissociation of creation from the Trinitari­an Mission of the one and the same Son is simply without theological justi­fication: it is a radical mistake, regardless of its antecedents.  It contradicts the Catholic faith in Jesus the Christ as the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, whose Lordship is identically his Eucharistic transcendence of our fallenness by his sacrificial exercise of his headship, whereby the free unity of the One Flesh is restored to a world doomed to the “dust” of death by the first Adam’s refusal of that free exercise of the headship, of the nuptially-ordered responsibility, offered him “in the Beginning,” in Christo. [34]

Jesus’ headship is victorious over sin and death; thereby it is also victori­ous over the dilemmas of fallen rationality, which knows no free unity and cannot but fragment and disintegrate all it touches in its vain quest for a necessary unity, whether in our fallen history or out of it.  Within the realm of doctrinally-informed metaphysics, which is to say, of Catholic systematic theology, the “good news” is the revelation of the one free unity upon which all the redeemed universe depends, viz., the substantial One Flesh of Christ and the Church, by whose institution on the Cross and the Altar, inseparably, all things are made new.  Thereby alone creation is good and very good.

It is hardly necessary to repeat here what has already been established in detail: that the historical objectivity of substantial unity can only be sacra­men­tal: no other free historical unity or objectivity exists.  To choose to exist in another and false historical unity nonetheless is to prefer the necessary disunity and dynamic disintegration proper to “the flesh” to the free unity of the One Flesh of the New Creation, the New Covenant, the New Creation, restored by the One Sacrifice of the head.  As has long been taught, in the Old Testament as in the New, this is simply a preference for death over life.

The long-delayed theological recognition of the doctrine of Chalcedon requires the development of the radically transformed, historicized anthro­polo­gy already implicit in Veritatis splendor, which has become increasingly explicit in later papal pronouncements, and which reaches yet fuller clarity in the recent document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and the World.”[35]  This Letter reaffirms what has long been recognized, viz., that the doctrine of the creation of man and woman to the image of God is foundational for theological anthro­pology, which cannot but pivot on our creation to the image of God.  The Letter refers to humanity as “a relational reality,” a term easily misunder­stood, for the relation is intrinsic to the reality, intrinsic then to the human substance: the Letter does not affirm a merely nominal reference of our humanity to the Creator as if in abstraction from the Trinitarian Missions.

The rejection by the Fathers at Nicaea of the quasi-Aristotelian, monist distortion by Arius and his allies of the Trinitarian faith of the Church should have forestalled from the outset the theological anthropologies of Augustine and St. Thomas, as Josef Ratzinger wrote over forty years ago,[36]

Augustine failed to understand that the intra-substantial relational reality assigned to the Trinitarian Persons by the Nicene proclamation of the homoousion of the Son with the Father, and later, its application to the Holy Spirit, whose full divinity was taught at I Constantinple, is applicable as well to the human condition, particularly to the human imaging of the Trinity.  He assumed the relational meaning of “Person” in the Trinity to be excep­tion­­al, i.e.,  unique to the Trinity rather than normative for human persons as well.

In thus restricting personal inter-relationality within a free intellectual substance to the Trinity, Augustine imposed upon theological anthropology the monopersonal and hence dehistoricized notion of the substantial human imaging of God, with a consequent implicit reduction of Trinitarian theology to the Sabellian dimensions upon which Rahner has been insistent.

The Chalcedon Symbol’s definition of the Son’s human consubstan­tiality “with us” is a dogmatic dismissal of this classic monist anthropology, but it is only with Pope John Paul II’s development of his “theology of the body” and, specifically, with his doctrine of our nuptial imaging of God, that the implications of the Chalcedonian anthropology entered into common theological parlance.  Even now, its radical theological implications are largely ignored if not refused a priori, for they are inassimilable to the still-regnant Thomist metaphysics, short of its radical conversion to historical freedom by its submission to a historical prime analogate capable of grounding the free truth and free reality of sacramental objectivity: that prime analogate can only be the substantial One Flesh of the Eucharistic institution of the New Covenant.

St. Thomas followed Augustine’s monist notion of created substance, with its consequent monadism of the human person.  This monism requires that each human person be understood, as by Plato and Aristotle, by St. Augustine, and as later by St. Thomas, to exhaust the substance in which he subsists.  Augustine’s subscription to this postulate should have prohibited his recognition of metaphysical permanence of the One Flesh of Christ and his bridal Church, which he  recognizes by ascribing to it the unity of “una persona,” although recognizing the intrinsic unity, the “one flesh,” of the personal correlation between bridegroom and bride.  He thus recognized the unity of a created free substance, but did not understand that unity to be substantial; he labeled it “una persona.”  The difficulty was resolved at Ephesus and Chalcedon, too late for Augustine; whose failure to refer the relational character of the Trinitarian Persons to the human condition Cardinal Ratzinger appears to have been the first to notice.  The monist postulate, integral to the pagan historical pessimism, and disseminated by a mythology whose dualism had been internalized for millennia throughout the classic cultures, explains the patristic incomprehension of the emphasis of Gen. 1:27 upon the nuptial imaging of God.

St. Thomas’ anthropology only echoes the Fathers’ incomprehension of the Genesis creation accounts of a good because nuptially ordered creation, a doctrine in flat contradiction to the classic metaphysics, Platonic, Aristo­tel­ian and Stoic, which were no more than rationalizations of the dualism characterizing the mythologically-formed consciousness pervading the pagan Mediterranean and Indian cultures.  During these first three centuries of the Christian era, the pre-Christian philosophies melded into the Middle and Neo-Platonism integral to the education of most of the more sophisti­cated of the Fathers down to the close of the patristic age.[37]  Their reliance upon this final expression of pagan wisdom was passed on to the Latin West by Boethius and, centuries later, by Peter Lombard’s Four Books of Senten­ces, which educated Christian theologians through the close of the Middle Ages.   By then, the Thomist synthesis had begun to dominate theological metaphysics in the Latin world, and continues to do so: such rival theologies as those of Duns Scotus and Francis Suarez are governed by the same metaphysical monism as St. Thomas.

This predilection for the monism of the human substance as created in the image of God prevented theological recognition of literal truth of the affirmation in Gen. 1 of nuptial order of our imaging of God, with the result that its implication of the free nuptial unity of the human substance could not be understood.  Karl Barth was the first to perceive this error and propose as its correction the restoration of the literal sense of the biblical text, two decades before John Paul II began the exposition of his nuptially-ordered “theology of the body,” and just in time to encounter the feminist antipathy to that revelation.[38]

Catholic theological anthropology must now be rethought in terms of its conversion to the substantial character of the nuptial imaging of God, as set out in first and second chapters of Genesis, and to Pauline application of Gen 2:24 to the One Flesh of Christ and the bridal Church, implicitly in I Cor. 11, explicitly in Eph. 5.  The nuptiality of our imaging of God was given doctrinal standing by the final statement of John Paul II’s “theology of the body,” his “Apostolic Letter on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World.”  Theological anthropology must recognize the created image or analogue of the Trinity in the One Flesh which, in Genesis 2, is revealed to be the crown of creation, that by which it is good and very good.  Failing this conversion, the “turn to anthropology” so much promoted of late must become what in too many precincts it has already become, the submission of the imaging of God to a political praxis.[39]

Once it is recognized that the free unity of the nuptial covenant of Christ and the Church in One Flesh is the perfection of creation, in which the Holy Spirit is fully and definitively given, it is possible to understand that the primordial fall of man, “in the beginning,” issued in our human solidarity with the refusal of that perfection, of that free unity, and a lapse into “the flesh:” the unfree, necessary disunity and fragmentation of man and his world whose single finality is death, symbolized by the ashes with which we are signed at the beginning of each Lent as a memento mori.  With the fall thus understood as entailing our solidarity with the refusal of the first Adam, our redemption cannot be other than the restoration, in sacramento, of that lost free unity, the nuptial One Flesh of the New Covenant instituted on the Altar and the Cross by the obedience of the second Adam to his primordial Mission by the Father which, “in the Beginning,” i.e., in Jesus the eternal Son of the Father, the historical son of Mary, transcends all creation, for creation is in Christ, who is, precisely, “the Beginning.”

It is then evident that the free, covenantal, human substance, the New Covenant, must be understood to be the substantial terminus of the full gift of the Holy Spirit, i.e., the terminus of the Mission of the Son, and thus understood as the image of God, is the nuptially ordered Trinity-imaging, substantial community of the second Adam, the second Eve, and the New Covenant, which their free nuptial unity has constituted.  Only this trans­cen­dentally free unity can image the supremely free Community of Father, Son and Spirit that is the Triune God.  In our fallen history, this nuptial imaging can only be liturgical, i.e. sacramentally achieved, primarily in the Eucharist, secondarily in Matrimony.  Further, unless we put this imaging at the begin­ning of our Trinitarian theology, explicitly acknowledging the nuptial freedom in which each of us images God, we shall not escape the monism which even today haunts Trinitarian theology.[40]

2. The Pauline Doctrine of The Father’s Headship; its Historical  Analogues in Christ and in Man

It is further impossible to grasp the free unity of the Trinity and of its human image without invoking the Pauline doctrine of headship, apart from which the analogy between the Trinity and its image is without historical foundation: this is the radical flaw of the classical Trinitarian theology.[41]  In I Cor. 11:3ff. Paul ascribes headship to the Father with respect to his Glory, his Son who proceeds from him, Jesus the Christ.  The Father is in union with his Son, the Christ, in the Holy Spirit who is their subsistent Love: the Trinity is their perichōresis, their free dynamic substantial unity.  Paul ascribes head­ship secondly to the Christ the Son, whose glory is the Church, the second Eve, who proceeds from him as from her Head, and with whom he is One Flesh/  This is their irrevocable and therefore Personally subsistent Covenant, incapable of being identified with either the Bridegroom or his Bride, and therefore, consub­stantial with the Christ and with his bridal Church. 

Finally, Paul assigns headship to the husband, whose glory is his wife, who proceeds from him, and with whom he is in union in the marital “one flesh,” which proceeds from him through her, as their subsistent and irrevocable marital bond, consubstantial with both.

In sum, headship is always either Trinitarian or Trinity-imaging; in each instance, headship imports the subsistence of the head in a free substance of whose free unity he is the source, in a free intimacy with those of whom he is their consubstantial source.  This free intra-substantial intimacy is always dynamic: a circumincession, a perichōresis, whose prime analogate is Trini­tar­i­an, and whose created analogues are revealed, in Christ to be nuptially ordered.  The historical objectivity of our consubstantial intimacy with Christ our head is of course liturgical and sacramental; its concrete expres­sion is the Eucharistic worship of the Church, the celebration of the One Sacrifice by which the One and the same Son fulfilled his mission from the Father in his High Priestly offering of himself as the One Sacrifice, whereby his headship is achieved, our fallenness redeemed, and his Kingdom opened to us.

Free substance, thus understood as constituted by an immanent exercise of headship, consists in a free community of the personal subsistence of the head in a free unity, a community either Trinitarian or Trinity-imaging, of whose freedom he is the immanent source.  The primary Trinity-imaging created substance is the One Flesh of Christ and his bridal Church: this is the substantial New Creation in which our Lord, by reason of his headship of his bridal Church, is consubstantial with each of us. 

Within our Eucharistically-ordered subsistence in ecclesia, sacramental marriage is in turn the dynamic image of the One Flesh, of the New Covenant.  In marriage, the husband is the source of the free unity of his union in one flesh with his wife, while himself subsisting in it: as the Father does not transcend the Trinity, nor does the Christ transcend his One Flesh with the Church, so neither does the husband transcend his own nuptial union with his wife. 

The Church’s faith that Jesus is the Lord issued in the Nicene decree of his Personal consubstantiality with the Father, a consubstantiality which, as Personal, could not but be human as well as divine: this is the doctrine of the Council of Chalcedon.  The revelation in Christ’s life, death and Resur­rec­tion of this foundational Reality, his  personal subsistence in the Triune God and in our humanity, is the basic mystery of the faith, in which all others are contained and realized.  It is the single subject of theology, of the fides quaerens intellectum, the ancient beauty who is forever new. upon whose splendor, by his grace, may we gaze forever.

The head is the source of all free substantial community: viz., the Father, of the Trinity; the Son, of the Eucharistically-ordered New Creation, and the husband, of the marriage whose free, substantial unity images the One Flesh of Christ and the Church, and thereby the Triune God.  In each exercise of headship, the head is the source of the freedom, the perichōresis, of the substantial community that proceeds from him through his glory, and does so precisely from the head.  Thus, the Father’s union with the Son is the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father through the Son; the Christ’s union with the Church is the One Flesh that proceeds from him through her; the husband union with his wife is in the marital one flesh that proceeds from him through his wife, as in Gen 2:21-4 (cf. Jn. 19:34).  The Sacrificial institution of the One Flesh of Christ and the Church is the institution of the New Covenant by which we are redeemed and freed in Christ.  In fallen history, this freedom is objectively exercised in our fidelity to the Covenant established by the One Sacrifice of Christ.  This fact has implications for Catholic spirituality, particularly for the meaning of our divinization as a reality inseparable from in our consubstantiality with the risen Christ, which have not been explored: here it must suffice to repeat that these implications are radically incompatible with the latently antisacramental inferences which spiritual writers past and present have drawn from Origen’s Commentary on the Song of Songs.

In the Captivity Epistles Paul asserts Christ’s headship of the Church who is his bridal Body, and asserts as well the Christ’s headship of all creation, assigning to that headship, in Eph. 1:10, the role of a reunification, Irenaeus’ anakephalaisasthai panton, the restoring of all things in Christ, the head, the source of the Gift of free unity―for there is no unfree unity, neither in God nor in his fallen creation―redeemed and fulfilled through the Gift of the Holy Spirit.  Within our fallen history, freedom cannot but be a gift: it is actual, objective, in our history only by the Eucharistic immanence of the risen Lord of history, who transcends history as its Beginning and its End.

Each of Paul’s accounts, in the Acts of the Apostles, of his vision of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, recites our Lord’s identification of himself with the Church.  There our Lord informs Paul that in persecuting the Church, he persecutes the risen Christ.  This Christ-Church unity, which in Eph. 5:21-33 Paul identifies with the “one flesh” of Gen. 2:24, cannot be understood to be a Personal identification of Christ with the Church.  Rather, inasmuch as in I Cor. 11:3 the prime analogate of headship is the Father’s begetting of  Jesus, the Son, and his outpouring, through the Son, of the Holy Spirit, its prototype and pattern of requires that the head be the intrinsic source of a free, substantial community.  It is thus proper to the head that he subsist in a free substantial community, as the Father’s subsists in the Trinity, as Jesus the Son subsists in the created image of the Trinity, the One Flesh of the New Covenant, or as the husband subsists in the one flesh of the sacramental marriage which images the Trinity through its imaging of the One Flesh of Christ and the Church.  As has been pointed out heretofore,[42] it is also proper to the head to name the substance in which he subsists as its head: this is the implication of headship, and so is much more than a linguistic idiosyncrasy.

The head is personally distinct from but in free personal union with the Glory which proceeds from him as head: Jesus the Christ, the Son, is the Glory of the Father; the Church is the Glory of the Christ; the woman is the glory of her husband; Paul even goes so far as to see a woman’s hair, which proceeds from her to be so much her glory as to require its veiling―her failure to veil her glory is for Paul to have denied it, for in the fallen world, all glory is veiled, even that which is Christ, whose veiling is his crucifixion, while the Church, his glory, is veiled by her fallenness, semper reformanda and, with her, the glory of all creation is veiled (Rom. 8:19-25).

Christ, as obedient to his Mission from the Father, “unto death, even to death on the Cross,” as Paul stresses in Phil. 2:5:12, exercises there the fullness of his headship.  In his sacrificial death the Church has her origin, for she proceeds from his side as the second Eve, as his glory, the glory which, primordially, was his before the world began but which in fallen history is veiled, having only a sacramental visibility and objectivity: that of the Mater dolorosa, that of the Church of sinners.  The unanimity of this universal patristic interpretation of Jn. 19:34 as the allegorical fulfillment of Gen 2:21-14 still awaits theological recognition.

The banalization of Christ’s headship has been a sort of cottage industry among exegetes as well as among dogmatists, who agree in reducing the “anakephalaiosasthai,” or “to recapitulate” of Eph. 1:10 to a metaphorical resumé, a merely nominal summing up, without metaphysical weight.  This reading is already latent in the “instaurare omnia” of the received Latin translation.[43]  The biblical dictionaries and the current commentaries on Ephesians unanimously ignore the foundation of this term in the doctrine of Christ’s headship taught in I Cor. 10-11 and deployed in Col. 1:15 and Eph. 1:10, preferring a derivative use of term such as that wherein the Old Testament Commandments are resumed or summed up in the NT command to love God beyond all else, and one’s neighbor as oneself.[44]

This exegetical trivialization of the recapitulation worked by Jesus’ One Sacrifice cannot but trivialize also the Trinitarian headship of the Father.  Further, it fails to understand the Fall as precisely Adam’s refusal of the office of headship, although only this interpretation of Adam’s original sin can account for the fragmentation which the Old Testament and the New assign to the fallen condition, sarx, or the “flesh”, and to its universality.  The linkage between the first and the second or last Adam is precisely the primordial refusal of a proffered headship by the first Adam, for only the remedial, redemptive, crucifying and sacrificial acceptance and exercise of headship by the second Adam can account for the parallel between the world-historical universality of the effect of the first Adam‘s sin and world–historical universality of the efficacy of the offering of the second Adam’s redemptive sacrifice on the Altar and the Cross, inseparably.

a. The Nicene doctrine of the homoousios of the Son with the Father

No event in the Catholic doctrinal tradition is of more decisive significance than the proclamation at Nicaea of the homoousion of the Son with the Father, for this term asserts at once the unity of God and the full divinity of the Jesus the Christ as the only-begotten Son of the Father.  The Nicene doctrine of the homoousios of the Son with the Father set the stage for the development of Trinitarian and Christological doctrine, concluding respectively at I Constantinople with the proclamation of the full divinity of the Holy Spirit, and at Chalcedon with the proclamation of the full divinity, full humanity, and Personal unity of Jesus, one and the same Son of the Father and of the Theotokos.  The dogmatic import of this development, at once Trinitarian and Christological, cannot be understood apart from a full appreciation of the meaning of “homoousios” as established at the Council of Nicaea, where Athanasius, then a deacon but already theological advisor of his bishop Alexander, convinced the assembled bishops that meeting the Arian challenge to the Church’s faith in the divinity of Jesus the Christ required a dogmatic recognition of his Personal consubstantiality with the Father: nothing less precise would serve[45]

At the Council of Nicaea, only the divinity of the Son was in issue, for neither Arius nor Athanasius, nor any of the assembled bishops, had any doubt of the unity of God.  In fact, such objection as was raised, whether during the Council or in the four decades following it, to the use of homoousios to underwrite the divinity of the Son rose out of a fear that it had a modalist consequence, an identification of the Son with the Father: it occurred to none of the orthodox bishops, nor to their Arian antagonists, that its use implied “two gods.”

However, subsequent historical scholarship has questioned whether the Nicene Fathers understood the Nicene ‘homoousios’ to affirm the absolute numerical unity of the divine substance.[46]  This numerical unity had been a Western emphasis, but it was not at peace with what seemed to be the tritheistic implication of the alternative Eastern stress, at once Eastern and Western (by way of Tertullian’s Apologeticus) upon the irreducible distinction between Father, Son and Spirit―which in turn did not at all stand in the way of the affirmation by the Western Fathers as well as of the Eastern, of the unity of the One God.  Only Arius and his sympathizers, beset with speculative rather than soteriological concerns, considered the divinity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit to threaten the unity of God.  The conviction of the divine unity was of course inseparable from the Church’s liturgical worship of the One God; it did not wait upon a theological vindication, nor did the liturgical distinction between the names of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit taught in the baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19.

The Conciliar approval of the homoousion of the Son with the Father would be echoed by Athanasius’ insist­ence in the Tome to the Antiochenes upon the homoousios as alone adequate to affirm the divinity of the Son while upholding the unity of God.  No bishop present at Nicaea is recorded as having upheld a tritheism: in this they had no argument with Arius; they knew as well as he that there cannot be a multiplicity of divinities: the one God is indivisible, unique, beyond all categorization: it is absurd to read into their approval of the homoousios of the Son a relativizing of the unity of God.

The liturgical expression of the Catholic faith in the One God was the indispensable prius, the pre-condition and the cause, of the Conciliar effort to reconcile the divine Unity with the divinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The liturgical mediation of the Church’s faith is simply the Church’s inerrant worship in truth: even its indispensable homiletic dimen­sion is not theological but magisterial for, while the bishops exercise a liturgically grounded oversight of theology, their oversight is doctrinal, not academic; their preaching is inseparable from their primary liturgical responsibility for the Church’s worship in truth.  Neither speculative nor provisional, it is dogmatic, even apodictic.

It is then beside the point to look to the Nicene Fathers for a theological account of their understanding of “homoousios”.  As bishops, meeting in what would soon be recognized to be the first ecumenical council, understood the doctrine they had proclaimed at Nicaea to be a fulfillment of their responsibility for the Church’s worship in truth, an obviously liturgical responsibility.  Therefore, meeting in the Council, they recognized and responded defensively to the heresy inherent in Arius’ effort rationally to disintegrate the Trinitarian faith of the Church, which had from the outset been explicit in the baptismal liturgy, and yet more radically affirmed in their preaching of the Father’s Mission of the Son to give the Holy Spirit.  At Nicaea, the bishops reaffirmed the truth of the Church’s liturgical worship of her Lord: thus their affirmation of his divinity met a most basic episcopal responsibility for the truth of the Church‘s faith that Jesus is the Lord.  Their reliance upon the inerrant truth of the Church’s worship found expression in a conversion of the metaphysical language of the Greek and Latin cultures, for that pagan metaphysics, exploited by Arius, was unable to accommodate the liturgical expression of the faith of the Church, and gave way before it.

“Homoousios” opened the way for a conversion of classic metaphysics which is as yet incomplete, and, in this fallen world, is likely to remain so.  The academy is ever reluctant to accept the radicality of the theological conver­sion of its subject matter; rather it seeks spontaneously an academic autonomy which alienates it from the free unity of the faith.  The suppose­tion that philosophy and theology are to each other as nature and grace, with a cause-effect priority in nature, is an ancient instance of this tendency, which had already reached an extreme form in fourth-century Arianism.

Those bishops who mistakenly understood their office to be speculative and theological rather than liturgical and doctrinal, who accepted with Arius the criteriological authority of a pagan Greek metaphysics rather than the Church’s liturgical mediation of the truth of Christ, had barred themselves, a priori, from grasping the import of “homoousios:” viz., the dogmatic com­pati­bility of the unity of God with the divinity of the Father and the Son.  They carried their confusion with them, and broadcast it so effectively that Jerome remarked, of the denunciation of Athanasius by a dissident council held at Rimini in 359, that “the world groaned and was amazed to find itself Arian.”  But two years later, during a respite in the persecution of the Pro-Nicene orthodox following the death of Arian Emperor Constantius in 361, and prior to Julian the Apostates’s succession to the throne, it became evident that the tide had turned.  In the provincial Council of Alexandria, called immediately by Athanasius upon his return from exile early in 362, he attempted to win over the “homoi-ousians,” (whom Epiphanius of Salamis had unwarrantably dubbed “semi-Arians,”) to his own firm conviction that only the Nicene doctrine of homoousion of the Son was adequate to and consistent with the orthodox faith in his divinity.  While Athanasius’ irenic Tome to the Antiochenes  failed of its object, and the homoiousions retained their resistence to the Nicene Creed, its reaffirmation by the First Council of Constantinople put them out of court.  While Arianism lingered on for another two centuries in Gothic territories in the West, with the death of Auxentius, the Arian bishop of Milan, and the accession to his See of Ambrose,  Arianism soon ceased to be a threat to the unity of the Church .

The resistance of the conservative “homoiousion” bishops to the use of “homoousios” to uphold the divinity of the Son was partly due to its previous modalist exploitation by Paul of Samosata two centuries earlier, and by the Sabellians fifty years before him, but for the most part they had been persuaded by Eusebius of Caesarea that the Nicene definition of the homoousion of Jesus with the Father was inherently Sabellian.  When Athanasius demonstrated to them, by his De synodis, that the Nicene definition of the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father was the sole means of avoiding the hetero-ousianism of the radical Arians, the homoiousian disciples of Basil of Ancyra had to choose between their Eusebian loyalty to the authority of the emperor over the Church, or the Church’s independence of the empire.  The “choice” was entirely abstract, for their loyalty to the emperor was not discussable.  The Nicene definition of the homoousios of the Son and his irreducible distinction from the Father was intelligible only in the context of the Church’s faith in the One God, the Trinity, which the Eusebians had immediately dismissed as Sabellian.  Consequently, the Cappadocians (Basil of Caesarea, the two Gregories, of Nyssa and of Nazianzen, and Amphilocius of Iconium, (to whom Basil addressed his De Spiritu Sancto), had to decide whether to accept the Nicene Creeds definition of the homoousion of the Son with the Father, and its corollary, the substantial unity of the Trinity―which entailed the Personal divinity of the Holy Spirit―or to remain in the subordinationist stance of Basil of Ancyra.  On this they divided.  Basil of Caesarea and his younger brother, Gregory of Nyssa, remained loyal to their homoiousian antecedents.  Gregory of Nazianzen and Amphilocius upheld the Nicene Creed, and went on to defend it at the First Council of Constantinople, to whose presidency Gregory succeeded upon the death of Meletius of Antioch.  Basil died the year before that Council met, but had retained the misun­derstanding of the homoousios first set out in  his Ninth Letter.  In the Council of Antioch, called by the homoiousian Bishop Meletius in 363, he accepted the Nicene homoousios, but only as assimilated to the homoi­ousi­os. 

Loyal to binitarianism of Basil of Ancyra, Basil of Caesarea never attributed to the Holy Spirit even this confused notion of the homoousion,  While it is clear in his De Spiritu Sancto that he was in no doubt about the Holy Spirit’s divinity, he never accepted that divinity as hypostatic, i.e., as Personal.  His hesitation to do so has been described as rather diplomatic than doctrinal, but it is far more likely to be due to the continuing influence upon him of the homoiousian refusal to recognize the distinct divine hypostasis of the Holy Spirit, impressed upon him long before by Eustathius of Sebaste.  However, well before the Council, Eustathius had become Basil’s bitter enemy by reason of Basil’s upholding the divinity of the Holy Spirit as the obvious implication of his Trinitarian standing.  Eustathius went on to lead the Arian Pneumatomachians, who would be condemned at I Constantinople.  Despite his death the year before, Basil’s latent homoi­ousi­anism afflicted the deliberations of the Council which, despite the urging of Gregory Nazianzen, refused to ascribe the Nicene homoousion of the Son to the Holy Spirit, although, like the Council of Nicaea, it affirmed the full divinity of the Holy Spirit.  However, the incorporation by I Constantinople of the Nicene Creed’s inclusion of the Holy Spirit in the objects of the Church’s faith bars any homoiousian reading of its affirmation of the divinity of the Holy Spirit who, as the object of the Church’s worship, which cannot but be Personal. After the Council, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory of Nazianzen, particularly the latter, undertook the explanation of the distinc­tion between the Trinitarian hypostases.  Gregory of Nazianzen was the lone Nicene among the Great (i.e., older) Cappadocians, to set out his Trinitarian doctrine and its attendant Christology.  This he did in his five Theological Orations, 27-31, while Gregory of Nyssa began to develop a Trinitarian theology in which the Persons might be distinguished by way of their Personal origin; this project was baffled by the Father’s lack of a Personal origin, and by a  failure to develop Amphilocius’ suggestion that the Persons were distinguished by their mutual relations.[47]  This insight was arrived at by Augustine, whose De trinitate completed its development thirty years later, perhaps informed by Amphilocius' suggestion.

b. The Chalcedonian doctrine of the duplex homoousios of the Son

Consequently, “Homoousion” does not appear in the decrees of the second ecumenical council, I Constantinople (381): specifically, it is not said of the Holy Spirit, although that Council defined the full divinity of the Holy Spirit against the Arian “Pneumatomachians” (i.e., Spirit-fighters—the Alexandrine version were also designated “Tropici” by Athanasius. in view of their allegorizing whatever doctrinal statements got in their way) who explicitly denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit on the same grounds upon which they based their denial of the divinity of the Son: viz., that in the final analysis the Holy Spirit must be a creature because He is distinct from the Father who, following Arius, they identified with the monadic Godhead, the divine Substance.

Neither does homoousios appear in the Formula of Union of the Council of Ephesus (433), wherein Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is proclaimed to be thereby the Theotokos, the Mother of God: this against Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople whose opposition to the use of that term by his clergy drew the attention of Cyril of Alexandria and led to Nestorius’ condem­nation by this third ecumenical Council, a condemnation confirmed by Pope Sixtus III.  In neither of these Councils was the unity of God in issue: the dogmatic compatibility of the One God with the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, and their irreducible distinction, had been resolved at Nicaea, and was not questioned after re-affirmation of the Nicene Creed by the Council of I Constatinople.

It is therefore surprising at first glance that the homoousios should be used twice in fact at Chalcedon to affirm the Personal unity of Jesus, for both the contesting schools of Christology, the Alexandrine monophysites and the Antiochene diophysites, affirmed the full divinity of the Son; his numerical consubstantiality with the Father.  The Son’s homoousios with the Father and the Holy Spirit was not in issue, yet the Fathers at Chalcedon found the term equally indispensable to their magisterial affirmation of the full humanity of the Son, in whom humanity is created.  While it is evident that the Son must be of one and the same substance as the humanity of which Jesus the Christ is also the head, for it derives solely from him, the Council of Chalcedon relied rather upon Irenaeus’ teaching that Jesus the Christ is “one and the same” which the Symbol eight times affirms of Jesus the Son of the Father and of the Virgin Mary,.  Only the “homoousios cum nobis” of Jesus, the one and the same Son, could adequately affirm the fullness of his humanity, as only his homoousios with the Father, his Head, could affirm his full divinity.

In both applications, “homoousios” relies upon the communication of idioms first spelled out by Cyril of Alexandria in his three “Letters to Nestorius.” This ‘communication of idioms’ supposes distinct personal subsistence in identically the same substance by personally distinct subsist­en­ces, viz, the Father, San and Spirit in the Trinity, and the second Adam, the second Eve, and their Covenant in the One Flesh, the human Image of the Trinity which, as Imaging the substantial Trinity, must be substantial.  Mary is the Theotokos because she is consubstantial with her Lord, for they both subsist in the numerically same human substance, their One Flesh, quite as Jesus is Lord because he subsists in numerically the same substance as his Father, consubstantial with Him.

The Council of Chalcedon had been called to deal with the challenge to Christological and Eucharistic orthodoxy posed by the extreme Eutychean interpretation of the Logox-sarx Christology, whose rationalization, after the death of Cyril,. amounted to a refusal of the full humanity of Christ, and thus a challenge to the faith that Jesus is the Lord quite as direct as the Arian denial of his divinity in the previous century.  The Fathers at the Nicene Council had agreed with Athanasius that the definition of the consubstanti­ality of the Son with the Father was essential to the Church’s faith in the Son’s divinity; now it would be recognized that the Son’s human consubstantiality with ourselves is equally indispensable to the faith that Jesus is Lord.

i. The subsistence of Jesus in the Trinity

The personal subsistence of Jesus in the Trinity as One and Same Son may sound rather odd to theologians accustomed to the standard accounts of the Nicene Council, for in those recitals of the Arian controversy the homo­ousion of the Son with the Father is too often presented nonhistorically, as though the debate touched the Incarnation only tangentially, i.e., only by reason of the assignment by Arius to his diminished logos of the role of the hegemonikon, effectively the intellectual soul of Jesus the Christ.  Much of this dehistoricization of the Logos by historians is the consequence of the Arian heresy itself: Arius, with his allies and sympathizers, understood the logos in cosmological terms and thus as immaterial and nonhistorical.  This proto-Apollinarian reading of the Logos as the non-human Son was delib­er­ate­ly chosen by the Arian party, whose dehistoricization of Jesus was part and parcel of their denial of his divinity and of course of the Trinity. 

However, the Nicene Council affirmed the divinity of Jesus the Christ, the subject of the Synoptic Gospels, the Logos of the Prologue of the Gospel of John whose divinity Arius denied.  Only this Logos, the one and the same Son, whose subsistence in divinity and humanity is the object of the Church’s faith, and so of the doctrine of Nicaea.  The Fathers at Chalcedon wrote his subsistence in divinity and humanity eight times into their Symbol.  Thus it is Jesus the Son of Mary and of the Father, whom Irenaeus was first to recognize as the “one and the same Son,” who subsists in the Trinity by reason of his consubstantiality with the Father and with the Holy Spirit, and who, by the same unique Personal subsistence in our  unique humanity, our indivisible human substance, is “consubstantialem nobis” (ὁμοούσιον τὸν αὐτὸν ἡμῖν).

It is important to understand that Jesus is not consubstantial with the divine substance, the Trinity: that is, Jesus is not Personally identified with the Trinity: thus put, the fact is obvious.  As subsistent in the Trinity, receiving the Father’s full divinity as the Son, his consubstantiality is Personal, with the Father as his Source.   As the Father’s Glory, the One Son is also consubstantial with the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father through the Son and so is the Holy Spirit of their Love, consubstantial with his Source, as the Source is with the Holy Spirit.  This circumincession of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is the divine Trinity, the divine Substance in which each Person subsists in the divine Order (τξις) whose created Image is Jesus’ institution of the New Covenant: thus the Trinitarian circumincession is imaged in the New Covenant, the New Creation, the  nuptial human Image of the Triune God.

ii. The Subsistence of Jesus in Humanity

The most immediate impact of the Chalcedonian Symbol upon Catholic Christology is its flat rejection of the dehistoricization of Jn. 1:14 which has been thought by Catholic theologians to require that one choose between a “high” or “descending” Christology―whose project henceforth must be to explain how the divine Logos, the object of the Church’s faith, could “become” historical and human ―and an “ascending” Christology, a “Christology from below,” whose task henceforth must be to explain how a historical human being, Jesus, the object of the Church’s faith, may be identified with the eternal Son of the Father.  Both projects entail an explanation of the prior possibility of the Mysterium Fidei, and neither have a future.

These dehistoricized Christologies, the final implications of the Logos-sarx school on the one hand, and of the Logos-Anthnropos on the other, suppose the Incarnation to involve a reconciliation of the divinity and the humanity of Jesus.  Clearly enough, such a reconciliation is possible only by a denial of his divinity or his humanity.  This dilemma arises out of the supposition, common to both schools, that the prius of Christological speculation that the eternally-begotten Son of the Father, as eternal, must be nonhistorical, and therefore is the “immanent Logos,” with the consequence that the first task, even the single task of Christology is to account for the truth of the Prologue’s “logos sarx egeneto.”  This supposition arises out of a Middle Platonic reading of the Logos sarx egeneto of Jn. 1:14 which  .  Within that abstract philosophical context, the Incarnation required a union of divine and human natures, which is impossible.  That recognition that Christ’s unity might be on another level than that of “nature” had been obscured by a theological controversy in the years between 444, the death of Cyril of Alexandria, between the monophysite rebellion of Dioscorus and his aged ally, the abbot Eutyches, against the Nestorian assertion of the full humanity of Jesus and consequent denial of his divinity.  Christological speculation, having exhausted the two approaches to its false problem, came to a dead end in the middle of the fifth century.  The falsity of the pre-Chalcedonian Christological problem may be very simply stated: both schools supposed the subject of Christology, the Logos of Jn. 1:1 and Jn. 1:14, to be nonhistorical, whereas the subject of the Church’s faith is the historical Jesus, the Christ, the Eucharistic Lord.

A rigorously systematic development of the “high” Christology can only conclude in a monophysism . A comparably rigorous emphasis upon a “Christology from below” finds itself unable, with Nestorius, to affirm that Jesus is the Lord.  These failures are inescapable for as long as the “subject of the Incarnation,” the eternal Son of the eternal Father, is taken to be the “Trinity immanent” or nonhistorical Logos.  Both are failures to solve a false problem, that of explaining the prior possibility, which is to say, the intelligibility as measured by autonomous rationality, of the Church’s faith that Jesus is the Lord.  Among the Fathers prior to Chalcedon, Bishop Theophilus of Antioch, the layman Athenagoras of Athens, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Irenaeus and, in the next century, Origen, avoided this dilemma by adhering to the historicity of the apostolic tradition, i.e., to the historical faith of the historical Church..  Like his eminent predecessors, Irenaeus was not interested in the extrapolation of the Incarnation from a Middle Platonic Logos doctrine; his Christology centered upon the historical second Adam, the object of the Church’s apostolic faith, who is therefore at once God and Man, one and the same Son of the Father and of the Virgin Mary.  The reliance of Chalcedonian Symbol upon Irenaeus’ understanding of the historical Jesus as “one and the same” is an index of the historicity of its doctrine.  The Council of Chalcedon rejected the ancient dilemma of the one versus the many to affirm the full divinity, the full humanity, and Personal unity of the man Jesus, who is the Son of God and of Mary, the Theotokos..

Unfortunately, the dilemmas posed by the dehistoricized Logos still occupy Catholic dogmatic and systematic theologians who; with rare exceptions, have systematically ignored the dogma of Chalcedon, which summarily rejected, by refusing to recognize it, that perennial false puzzlement which, in Antioch and in Alexandria, had continued to challenge the Church’s faith that Jesus is Lord.  The Fathers at Chalcedon refused to concern themselves with the nonhistorical, cosmological inquiry of the Antiochene and Alexandrine theologians into the ideal, nonhistorical condi­tions of possibility of the Incarnation.  Instead, they affirmed with Irenaeus the historical faith of the historical Church in Jesus the Lord, who is the sole subject of their Symbol because, as sent by the Father to give the Holy Spirit, Jesus the Lord is the sngle subject of the Church’s faith.  Thus they ignored the “immanent Son,” of whom the Church knows and has known nothing.  Whatever is not revealed in and by Jesus the Christ is not the faith of the Church..  The Fathers at Chalcedon, instead of supposing their task to have been set by the scholasticism of the disputing schools of Alexandria and Antioch, taught with precision the historical consubstantiality of Jesus with the Father and with ourselves. Thus and only thus he is “one and the same Son,” at once of the Father and of the Theotokos, for it is as the one “Son” that he is consubstantial with both in a unity which can only be Personal, because it is in the Person of the one Son, an obviously personal Name. 

The Thomist denial that Jesus is a human Person is the most drastic of the cosmologically-inspired mistakes afflicting contemporary Christology.  Its implications are set out in Pars Tertia of the Summa Theologiae.  Their refusal of the historicity of Jesus the Lord can be transcended only by the conversion of theological quaerens intellectum to the historicity of the faith which alone sustains that quaerens, and which should be its object.  The cosmological quandaries accepted by the classic Thomist Christology have been beside the point since the Council of Chalcedon, whose Symbol proclaims that Jesus, as Personally consubstantial with the Father, subsists, as does the Father, in the divine Substance, the Trinity and subsists also in the human substance, as Personally consubstantial “with us.”  Jesus is the head of the created and therefore substantial humanity which images the Trinity solely by reason of Jesus‘ subsistence in it, for it is created in him.  The Catholic liturgical-doctrinal tradition knows nothing of the subsistence in the Trinity of an “immanent  Son,” and nothing of a “composite” Jesus.   It is as Personally human that Jesus subsists in the Trinity and as Personally divine that he subsists in humanity.  Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, is the human Son of the Τheotokos and the divine Son of the Father, “one and the same Son.”.

However, the Chalcedonian return to the most concrete datum of the faith, the concretely historical personal unity of Jesus the Lord, has hardly been noticed by systematic theologians, who continue to regard the Symbol’s dismissal of the false problem posed by Nestorianism and Monophysitism, as a failure to meet the challenges to the faith which, supposedly, it was called to resolve, viz., that of arranging beforehand for Jesus’ historicity as the Lord,.  Despite theologians’ confusion, ecumenical Councils are not called to resolve theological disputes. The bishops’ compe­tence is doctrinal, not theological.  Their authority is liturgical and thereby magisterial; it is not academic.  When a theologian such as Arius is condemned by the Magisterium, it is for doctrinal deviation, not for theo­logi­­cal incoherence.

The explanation for theological non-reception of the Chalcedon Symbol is simplicity itself: a common refusal to accept the historicity of Catholic theology as such, viz., a failure if not a refusal to recognize that, as its subject is the historical Jesus the Lord, so also must theological quaerens intellectum be historical.  The spontaneous turn of theologians to a cosmo­logically-necessary dehistoricization of “the subject of the Incarnation” is finally indistinguishable from the Protestant denial of the historical media­tion of salvation.  This systematic refusal of the historicity of the Logos, the denial of his Personal humanity, long instinctive to systematic theology, has since the late nineteenth century succeeded in depriving scriptural exegesis of any doctrinal or moral interest, which is to say, of any religious interest, the inevitable fate of sola scriptura.

There can be no question of Jesus’ human Sonship, for he has a human mother and a human Name, Jesus.  His Person, that of the Son, unites his full divinity and his full humanity: his Sonship, therefore, is at once human and divine: he is one and the same Son.  The Chalcedonian Symbol, in refusing both the monophysite and the diophysite problematics, which are alike grounded in the rational impossibility of discovering a cosmological (i.e., abstract, nonhistorical) compatibility between essential divinity and essential humanity, defined the Personal unity of Jesus the Lord, the One and the same Son of the Father and of the Theotokos, and his consubstan­tiality with both.  He, and not an “immanent Logos,” must be the object of theological inquiry if it is to conform to the Catholic faith.

In sum, Chalcedon’s stress on the Personal union of divinity and humanity in the one and the same Son refuses the presupposition which ground both the Nestorian and the Monophysite heresies as well as their contemporary analogues.  The Council’s repeated stress upon the historical reading of  the “one and the same Son” is not a rejection of Jn. 1:14, but rather is a refusal to read it as for three centuries it had been read, i.e., as a statement about the nonhistorical “immanent Logos.”  The New Testament’s Logos, the object of the Church’s faith and of the Chalcedonian definition, is the historical Jesus, the “one and the same Son” of Irenaeus’ Christology, at once the eternal Son of the Father and the historical Son of Mary, the Mother of God.  This proclamation of the ancient faith of the ancient Church demands an intellectual conversion from cosmological necessity to historical freedom as the precondition for undertaking the quaerens intellectum that is Catholic theology; without it, the pseudo-theologian can only wander in the monist maze which trapped the Antiochene and Alexandrine theologians of the fifth century, and continues to entrap their heirs today.  The eternal Son of the eternal Father is the subject of the Father’s Mission of the Son into the world, which by that Mission is created in the subject of that mission, Jesus Christ the Lord.  Thus Jesus has a Beginning; in fact he is the Beginning and the Beginning is primordial, freely unfallen in the primordial nuptial union in One Flesh of the second Adam and the second Eve.  The primordial Jesus the Lord offered this free nuptial union to the first Adam and first Eve, who refused it in that rejection of free unity which is Original Sin, and which is the Fall from free unity into necessary disunity―for no unfree unity exists.

3. Kenōsis: Original Sin and Fall

The nonhistorical reading of the Johannine “Logos sarx egeneto” as the “hominization” of the “immanent Son” must also dehistoricize the kenōsis of Phil. 2:5-12, wherein Paul, adapting an ancient hymn as also did John the Evangelist in composing the Prologue to his Gospel, recites the same primordial Event as does the first verse of the Prologue, viz., the Beginning, in which the primordial Jesus, for our salvation, entered into our fallenness, into our fallen world: “he emptied himself, taking the “form of a servant,” or, in John’s idiom, he ”became flesh”[48]..The Pauline language understands Jesus the Christ to be the fulfillment of the Servant Songs of Deutero-Isaiah: Jesus, the One Son, became the Servant of all, that he might save at least some.  It is evident that the Jesus here in view is the primordial second Adam, whose primordiality is that of the Johannine “Alpha,” of the Pauline “Beginning.”  It is he who, consubstantial with us as our head in obedience to his Mission to give the Holy Spirit, could not but enter into our fallen servitude, into the imprisonment imposed upon us, as the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches, by the fear of death, the wages of sin.  “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Lk. 24:26).

With the fall, the Father’s Mission of the Son, of the head, the source of creation, in whom we are created, is therefore that of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.  Thereby his Mission became a Mission also of redemption and liberation, of restoring the freedom of the sons of God which had been foregone by the sinful rejection by the first Adam of the headship offered him, the rejection consequently of that pristine nuptial freedom offered Adam and Eve “in the Beginning.”

“In the Beginning” refers, not to the initial moment of fallen history, but to the immanence in the unfallen creation of the primordial Christ, of the Head in whom “we live and move and have our being.”  It is he, in Person, whom Paul identifies with “the Beginning,” as John Paul II has empha­sized.[49]  It is he, as our Head, who is the source of the free unity, of the nup­ti­ally-ordered One Flesh, the free order of the Good Creation whose reject­tion by the first Adam and first Eve was the original sin, the efficacious cause, by which death entered the world of man and the good creation fell into the immanent necessity of the fragmentation which pervades the time and space of the fallen universe.  The primordial refusal by Adam and Eve of the free nuptial unity in “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24) was the choice of the necessary disunity, the intrinsic dynamism of the fallen creation toward disintegration and death.  This is the existential situation, the “flesh,” into which Jesus entered by the fact of his Headship; by that same mission of Headship, by that same obedience, “unto death, death on the Cross,” he became the redeemer prophesied in the Protoevangelium (Gen. 3:15).

It might be supposed that Jesus, himself sinless, might have taken upon himself, as the Servant, the role of headship rejected by the sin of the first Adam, thereby to become the second Adam, the head of the good creation which, with the first Adam’s refusal of the headship offered him, was with­out the free unity proper to it.  Submitted by that refusal to its inexorable consequence, the fragmentation of the order of creation, the “flesh” which Jesus had became by reason of his free immanence in humanity as its Head, could only proceed to the yet further fragmentation whose finality is his Personal death: the utter dissolution to which he submitted in obedience to his Mission, which could no longer be simply creative, the giving of the Gift of the Spiritus Creator, freely to have been received by the first Adam and Eve, but made redemptive by their refusal, for the Gift could now be given only by conquering the “last enemy,”  the death which is the sign of our fallenness.  This he did by offering his One Sacrfice on the Altar at the Last Supper, and upon the Cross, inseparably.  His redemption of the Good Creation is the “recapitu­la­tion” to which Paul refers in Ephesians, and is of course the work of the second Adam, whose restoration of free unity, the One Flesh,  to the fallen creation could not but be the work of its Head: free unity has no other source than the Bridegroom of the Bridal Church.

However, this scenario may fail sufficiently to stress what must be stressed: viz., that the first Adam and first Eve were not the source of the nuptial freedom which they refused.  Their refusal was in fact the refusal of a Gift, that Gift which Jesus had been sent to give, the Spiritus Creator.  He offered it as their Head: only thus could the Gift have been offered; only thus could it have been refused.  That free and sinful refusal was of a free Gift, not of an option immanent in their finitude: the first Adam and the first Eve refused the free nuptial unity of their one flesh, the free order of the Good creation, apart from which  reality has no unity, no goodness and no truth.  The Good Creation continues to exist only by the immanence in creation, from the Beginning, of Jesus the Lord, who is the Beginning and the End of the history that is made salvific by his Event-immanence within it, that of the Eucharistic respresentation of the One Sacrifice of Christ, the institution of the One Flesh of the New Covenant. ..

Here it is essential to grasp the meaning of the primordiality or pre-existence of Jesus the Christ; it is a most neglected datum of the faith, under­cut by the commonplace assumption that it is as the non-human “Trinity-immanent Son” that Jesus is preexistent, and consequently that his pre-existence is simply that of God: a pre-existence ab aeterno rather than the primordially created pre-existence of Jesus, the subject of the Incarnation, of the Son of Man, of the Bread from Heaven, of the Man from Heaven, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.

This dehistoricization of Jesus’ pre-existence is an immediate implica­tion of the cosmologically dehistoricized reading of the Johannine Logos sarx egeneto which, rejected since Justin Martyr, Theophilus of Antioch, Athenagoras of Athens, Tertullian, Hippolitus and Irenaeus in the second century, and by Origen in the third, has tempted Catholic theology ever since.  It has been pointed out that it is of the first importance that this dehistoricizing temptation continue to be rejected.  Its crippling impact upon Catholic theology is all too evident.  Its dehistoricization of the primordial pre-existence of the Redeemer renders unintelligible the indispensable doctrine of original sin and the fall, as more than one contemporary theolo­gi­an has insisted.[50]

According to both John and Paul, the pre-existence of the Christ “in the Beginning,” immediately rules out the identification of his primordiality with a divine eternity─which by definition cannot begin.  While it has been clear since the Council of Nicaea that the begetting of the Son by the Father is from eternity, and so has no “beginning,” his Mission by the Father is “The Beginning” which in Genesis 1 opens the account of the Good Creation, and cannot but refer to that primordial event of a Good Creation which, none­theless, is from its first moment fallen: there is no unfallen history and no unfallen creation. 

Creation as such, as Paul insists in Romans 8:19-22, is in solidarity with that primordial dissolution, “waiting with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”  All creation fell with the first Adam, as all of it is redeemed from its consequently immanently necessary destruction by the second Adam’s re-bestowal, as its Head, of the Gift of the Holy Spirit, creating the free unity, the nuptial order of the One Flesh, by which alone creation can be good and very good, by which alone it can image the free unity of the One God, the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The solidarity of creation with its fallen fragmentation, i.e., with the sin of Adam, with the ‘dust of death,’ does not defeat its solidarity with the second Adam, as we learn from the Protoevangelium, Genesis 3;15, from Paul in Phil. 2:7, and from John in the Prologue, Jn. 1:14; the kenōsis of Jesus is the event of his becoming “flesh,” his entry into our fallen world, his mission, now redemptive, to give the Gift of the Holy Spirit, by which Gift all things are made new..

The kenōsis of Jesus, the primordial Son of Man, the Johannine Alpha and Omega, the Pauline Beginning, is implicit in his free Personal imman­ence in our humanity as its Head, its source.  It is by his creative immanence in our humanity─a primordially nuptial immanence, for the freedom of his immanence is that of the head, the Bridegroom, of the second Eve─whose primordiality is her procession from her Head as immaculate, thus as supremely free with the freedom by which she could conceive her Lord as the historical expression of their primordial and indissoluble One Flesh.[51]  Their freedom is a nuptially-ordered freedom, for there is no other human freedom conceivable, as  there is no other divine freedom conceivable than that which is Trinitarian.  This created, nuptially-ordered freedom is offered to all those of whom he is the head: i.e., to all humanity, all those for whom he died, and through the redemption of all humanity, is given to all creation, to the universe which longs for it.

With the refusal by the first Adam and first Eve of the proffered nuptial freedom offered them , they and, with them, the good creation, fell into the fatality of the “flesh.”  Our Lord’s obedience to his Mission by the Father is his immanence in our humanity as its Head; with the fall, this immanence became subjected to the ongoing dissolution of the good creation, its fragmenting time and its disintegrating materiality.  It is thus that he is “made flesh,” mortal, subject to all the ills that burden us, like to us in all but sin.

The freedom of his obedience to his Mission, viz., the freedom of his Personal immanence in our history, required the free acceptance of that immanence by the primordial second Eve who also, by the fall, entered into our fallen history as One Flesh with him: thus she would freely conceive him and give him birth: there is no other free entry into fallen history than this.  Were his mother’s acceptance of her destiny lacking in any element of freedom, were it imperfect by reason of any imperfection of her nuptial freedom by a personal sinfulness, his immanence in the fallen creation would be that of a Zeus, a divinity imposing himself in a fashion evoking all the fallen fragmentation of the flesh.  Our Lady’s Imma­culate Conception, the ground of her sinless and perfect freedom, is indispensable to the Incarnation: in fact, the event of her Immaculate Conception is inherent in her primordial historicity, in: her kenōsis which, as with her Lord’s, leaves her like us in all but sin.

The first Adam and first Eve were then offered, by their Head, the nuptial freedom, that of the one flesh of head and body, bridegroom and bride, which was his alone to offer―for, as free, it could not be imposed.  The fate of the universe waited upon their free acceptance of the nuptial freedom by which, as we learn from Genesis 1:27 and 1:31 the creation is good and very good.  Their sinful refusal of free responsibility for each other could not annul or defeat the Father’s Mission of the Son to give the Holy Spirit, but the Gift now would require the “recapitulation of all things” that was complete only in the death of the Head, the death of him who is God, the One Sacrifice whereby the One Flesh of the New Covenant is insti­tuted.[52]

C. The Cosmological Resistance to Jesus’ Human Consubstantiality “with us”

Louis Bouyer has summed up the Christological problem posed by its late twentieth century development as that of accounting systematically―i.e., metaphysically―for the integration of the faith with the Christ in such wise as to support the universal efficacy of his redemptive death, which is to say, to support our solidarity with the Jesus the Lord, the second Adam.  The problem presented by the universal efficacy of the Christ’s atoning sacrifice is inescapable, but no systematic exposition of its intrinsic intelligibility has been provided whether by the Thomist or the Scotist schools of theology.  Karl Rahner’s indictment of his contemporaries for this failure is well known, but his own Christology, with its denial of the identity of Jesus with  the Person of the Logos, is rather an abdication of the Christological problem than its solution.  This is hardly surprising; Rahner's methodological monism, which he considered to be a necessity of thought as such, can not accept the dogmatic tradition.  The same uncritically postulated metaphysical monism has long barred theological appreciation of the Chalcedon; as noted heretofore, it still does.  The dogmatic assertion of Jesus’ consubstantiality with our humanity continues to be indigestible by theological tradition; consequently it continues to pose the permanently false problem of establishing the prior possibility of the Personal unity of Jesus Christ, whose systematic resolution is still taken to be the sine qua non of Catholic theology.

During the course of his Jesuit formation, Rahner’s brilliant contemporary, Hans Urs von Balthasar, had undergone the same training in systematic theology as Rahner, but later abandoned its metaphysical analysis in favor of a theological aesthetics whose hallmark is the freedom of truth as beauty, thereby he intended to free his theological aesthetics from the systematic cosmological deformation he had come to regard as inseparable from any application of metaphysics to theology.

Von Balthasar relies upon the Augustinian equation of beauty with the concrete freedom of historical truth.[53]  Beauty, he has insisted, needs no apologetic, an assertion hardly contestable.  But his theological application of it, i.e., his theological aesthetics, reveals his own notion of theological quaerens to be as inadequate as Rahner’s for, under the auspices of his theological aesthetics, truth as beauty is indeed free but, as free it becomes rationally incoherent (apophatic?) to the point that its synthesis can only be symphonic, i.e., beautiful, possessing then an aesthetic harmony, but incapable of a rational, publicly accessible and critically discussible statement.  Beauty as free is unstructured, inarticulate, incommunicable. Von Balthasar holds any systematicization of theological aesthetics,  insofar as metaphysical, to be the destruction of its intrinsic freedom.  Against this postulate stands Augustine’s “Sero te amavi, pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova, sero te amavi!” (Too late have I loved thee, beauty ancient yet forever new: too late have I loved thee).

Under the auspices of von Balthasar’s theological aesthetics, each venture in theology is sui generis.  The authenticity of each such project, and of all other putatively theological expressions, is measured by its refusal of metaphysical monism, its preservation of the “ontological difference,” the irreducible distinction between God and what is not God.  Apart from this distinction theology becomes monist, capable only of serving a pantheism, not the faith of the Church. However, with the acknowledgement of the “ontological difference,” theology is an expression of the freedom of truth, which the Augustinian tradition understands to be beauty as such.

Von Balthasar’s theological aesthetics is within this tradition, but only if its foundation, the “ontological difference,” is itself free, not merely contingent.  That freedom is proper to an historical event: a nonhistorical freedom is a contradiction in terms.  If von Balthasar has failed to link his theo­log­i­cal aesthetics to the Event “the ancient beauty that is forever new,” nonetheless his aesthetics must pre­sup­pose it.

Upon that free foundation theology as aesthetics is possible, but only as indiscernible, submitted to no critique, self-sufficient, needing no apologetic, thus engaged in no public discussion, for were it thus engaged it could not avoid invoking an explanation, an apologia for a truth which can suffer none and yet be free, consequently beautiful, and true.  For von Balthasar, the synthesis of irreducibly distinct aesthetic projects in theology exists only in their intrinsic harmony, which is to say, in a more inclusive beauty.

Von Balthasar rejects systematic theology insofar as given a metaphysical expression, for rigorous metaphysical systematizing, as he sees it, is a quest for necessary reasons, i.e., for a truth that is neither free, nor beautiful nor, at bottom, true. In the last analysis, on Balthasar regards all theological rationality as a construction of procrustean beds for the Revelation.  These “beds” are pantheist in principle.  As he sees it, the quest for rational unity drives to necessary unity, i.e., to the cosmological nullification of all distinction, the finally ineffable immersion of being in the Absolute.  Freedom from the quest for immanent necessity native to fallen reason is impossible apart from the grace, universally given, of the trahi a Deo, the interior magister, This, the Augustinian illumination, is equivalently our creation in Christ, the radical gratia Christi. Again, this grace is presupposed by von Balthasar’s aesthetics, for it is the prerequisite condition of the quaerens for free truth, thus for beauty, a quest that is theological only insofar as it remains an aesthetics.  His equation, following a Franciscan maxim, of beauty with the freedom of truth is of fundamental significance, but a theology founded upon that equation cannot be inarticulate and remain a theology,

It is thus that von Balthasar finds a given theology to be discordant, extra choro so to speak, only insofar as it fails to maintain what is theologically indispensable, the “ontological difference” between God and what is not God.  It may well be that every theological error is in fact reducible to a pantheism, but this cannot be an aesthetic statement, for it requires an ultimately metaphysical explanation, the apologia which a theological aesthetics as conceived by von Balthasar cannot provide and remain itself.  Nonetheless, the “ontological difference” upon which he insists is in fact the metaphysical foundation of his theological aesthetics, quite as the Covenantal One Flesh is the foundation of de Lubac’s comparably Augustinian Eucharistic exegesis.  In fact, of the two, de Lubac is the less systematically oriented, for he relies upon the apostolic tradition, the Eucharistic representation of the sacrificial institution of the One Flesh of the New Covenant, as the indispensable bar to all pantheism, whereas von Balthasar’s reliance upon the “ontological difference” is by comparison entirely abstract;  it is not only without reference, but is also incapable of reference, to its only possible historical ground, the sacrificial institution of the One Flesh of the redeemed creation, whose free unity, its nuptial order, is an invitation to free metaphysical inquiry, as these volumes may claim to have shown. However, in von Balthasar’s view, de Lubac’s appeal to the historical tradition to ground free rationality as such is alien to theological aesthetics,

Von Balthasar’s distrust of theological rationality is grounded in his supposition, akin to Rahner’s, that metaphysics must be monist to be intelligible.  This supposition can issue, as with Rahner, in a radical subordination of the Catholic tradition to a monist hermeneutic.  On the other hand, as with von Balthasar, it can require abdicating the task of systematic theology as an inherently pantheistic reduc­tion of the freedom of the Catholic faith to necessity.  Rahner’s dialectical analogy rests upon his rejection of the Catholic doctrinal tradition, while von Balthasar rejects merely theological tradition.  Of the two, von Balthasar’s theological aesthetics, as a fides quaerens Pulchrum, remains theological, because engaged in a quest at least analogous to that of a fides quaerens intellectum, while Rahner’s metaphysics does not, for the subject of Rahner’s quaerens is not the faith of the Church, whether as truth or as beauty, but the immanent logical necessities of sarkic reason, whose pursuit can conclude only to a nihilism.

At bottom, von Balthasar supposes that systematic theology, as opposed to theological aesthetics, cannot sustain a quaerens intellectum, a free quest for the free truth, for he is convinced that truth is free, and therefore actual in history, only as pulchrum, not as a truth whose understanding is to be sought―quaerens intellectum.  The Catholic fides quaerens intellectum is mediated by wonder, drawn by the Mysterium fidei whose free truth cannot but be pulchrum, but is also fascinans, drawing the mind out of its self-enclosure into the freedom for which Christ has made us free, and out of our personal darkness into the Light of the world.  In brief, beauty can only be historical, for it is the freedom of truth, as von Balthasar well knew.

On the other hand, the Church worships in truth the historical Truth, Jesus the Christ, the light of the world.  Von Balthasar maintains that systematic theology is alien to that worship, that inevitably, simply as rational, it distorts the truth of Christ mediated by the liturgy.  Doubtless much of medieval theology, and most of the systematic theology down to our own time, has forgotten that theology is a quaerens intellectum, and regards its conclusions, insofar as formally correct, to be what they cannot be, proxima fidei.  At best, theology asks coherent questions of a Mysterium fidei which it can grasp only in worship, and can never transcend or comprehend, never exhaust it subject.

Despite these very different abdications of systematic theology, theology insofar as Catholic continues to be what Anselm intuited it to be, a question arising out of personal participation in the Church’s liturgical expression of her faith, thus a question which intends to be directed to the Church’s liturgical tradition of  the Revelation as a question is directed to a Truth which it can never comprehend, much less transcend, but by which the fides quaerens intellectum that is theology is continually sustained and nourished.  Von Balthasar’s fides quaerens Pulchrum is similarly nourished, and similarly seeks a Beauty which it cannot transcend and remain itself.  Only as liturgically sustained is theology the fides quaerens intellectum or quaerens pulchrum.  Whether it be the intellectual or the aesthetic expression of theologian’s personal indigence, that indigence is revealed to him in his liturgical worship of the Truth who is Augustine’s “ancient beauty,” for this beauty is mediated only in ecclesia, by personal participation in the Church’s Eucharistic tradition.

This study could not deal with the Augustinian theological tradition and yet neglect von Balthasar’s contribution to it.  However, a further inquiry into the intricacies of his theology is beyond the goal and bounds of this work.[54]

The historicity of the liturgical tradition was first seriously questioned in consequence of a burgeoning fascination with “dialectic,” i.e., with the Aristotelian logic which Plotinus had incongruously melded with the Platonic hylemorphism, and whose consequently binary, ‘either-or’ anti-metaphysical and therefore linguistic analysis Boethius had mediated to the Carolingians.  Enthusiasm for the new learning, specifically for the “new logic,” was shared by all the stars of the ninth-century Carolingian renaissance; it marked a departure from the traditional monastic “lectio divina,” which had embodied the unsystematized presupposition of patristic exegesis, common to the East as to the West, of the historical realism of the Catholic tradition.  Under what amounted to a naive dehistoricization by way of an unfamiliar linguistic analysis, the monastic confidence in the historicity of the truth, the sacramental realism, of the Church’s worship began to undergo a long eclipse.[55]

The most brilliant Carolingian expositor of the “new logic” was John Scotus Eriugena, whose Periphyseon, or De divisione naturae, the first metaphysical systematization of the Catholic tradition since Origen’s Peri Archon, exhibits the pantheistic tendency that von Balthasar has held to be native to the systematic project as such.[56]  As has been remarked, the Carolin­gians who exploited the “new logic” (which, as binary, was also labeled “the new dialectic,” still under Neoplatonic auspices, were con­cerned primarily with the hermeneutic issue which arose from the applica­tion of the binary “new logic” to the words of Eucharistic institution.  The threat to Eucharistic realism of this naive rationalization of language in the untutored speculation of such Carolingians as Ratramnus and Gottschalk was not then recognized.  Two centuries later Berengarius would apply the same dehistoricizing analytical hermeneutic to the Words of Institution, this time to the point of heresy.  Those who in the eleventh and twelfth centuries defended the realism of the Eucharistic tradition against him also lacked the requisite metaphysical tools, as earlier had Paschasius’ defense of Eucharis­tic realism against the dimly perceived threat to it by Ratramnus and his allies.  The threat posed by the Carolingian revival of the ancient Eleatic binary analysis of reality as absolute unity or absolute disunity was met for the first time in the latter half of the thirteenth century by St. Thomas, whose theological application of the newly available Aristotelian act-potency anal­y­sis of being rested upon posing a metaphysical absolute, the agent intellect, which was known to Aristotle as capable of only an ambiguous application, whether to the unity of the human species, or to the unity of the human person.  St, Thomas chose the latter option, in order to provide each human person with an agent intellect.  The felt need to do so arose in his contro­versy with Averrhoes, who placed the agent intellect in the species, to the evident detriment of the members of the species, whose intellect could only be a passive subordination to the unity of the species, which Averrhoes regarded as concrete. Thomas found himself forced to reduce the human species to an abstraction, a second substance.  This riposte required that: only the individual person could be concretely substantial.  The rationality deployed by both Averrhoes and St. Thomas was Aristotelian and therefore cosmological, an induction of necessary causes.

Unfortunately, St. Thomas’ application of the Aristotelian metaphysics to theology amounted to systematizing the twelfth-century theologians’ subordination of the freedom of the Church’s worship to the immanent deter­m­inism of “necessary reasons.”  This deterministic rationality, which under Neoplatonic auspices forced a pantheism, was by St. Thomas given a rigorously metaphysical foundation resting upon his identification of God as the absolute Ipsum Esse Subsistens., an oddly impersonal notion.  St. Thomas’ adaptation to Catholic theology of Aristotle’s monist act-potency meta­physical analysis ran into immediate difficulties.  One of them has already been pointed out: Aristotle’s lack of acquaintance with moral freedom is evident in St. Thomas’ corresponding reduction of the freedom of creation ex nihilo to a “contingency,” an abstract possibility within the infinite range of abstract possibilities open to the equally abstract divine omnipotence.

This adaptation, in which the Neoplatonic “One” became the Deus Unus, and Aristotle’s uncritical assignment of substantial objectivity to any intrin­sically intelligible material entity was taken for granted, was the work of a man whose acquaintance with the entire philosophical and theological tradition of his time was unrivalled, unexampled, and whose devotion to the Catholic tradition can never be in issue.  At the same time, the tension between his analytical rationality and the free truth of the Catholic tradition could not but become more and more evident as St. Thomas understood his theological project to be the application of that analytical rationalization of the historical tradition.  This work, occupying barely a quarter-century, is published in over thirty quarto volumes, was most effectively mediated in the three volumes of the Summa Theologiae.

St. Thomas died in 1274 at the age of forty-nine.  He left behind him a body of work which has dominated Catholic theology throughout the inter­ven­ing centuries down to our own day.  It is the Church’s great misfortune that three years after his death, St. Thomas’ theology was attacked and condemned by the Archbishop Tempier of Paris.  The Order of Preachers imme­diately took up the defense, and the Dominicans and their allies have remained in that posture ever since, rejecting all criticism of Thomas’ theol­o­gy.  In consequence it has undergone little if any development beyond its original statement, for to question its adequacy was to stand extra choro.  As von Balthasar has observed, Catholic theology became a study of St. Thomas.  That climate of uncritical school loyalty forced the competing Augustinian tradition to become a study of Duns Scotus, or of Ockham, or of Gabriel Biel, or of Suarez ―but not of the doctrinal and moral tradition of the Church.

Such vagaries go far to vindicate the rejection of “dialectic” by Peter Damian and Bernard of Clairvaux, and the opposition to Aristotelian metaphysics by St. Thomas’ contemporaries, the Franciscan theologians who, with Archbishop Tempier, held it to be incompatible with the Catholic tradition.  Their resistance to school Thomism has been repeated by such twentieth century theologians as Teilhard, Lonergan, and von Balthasar.  Karl Rahner’s rigorous application of that monism of substance has gone far beyond anything St. Thomas could have anticipated.  Under its aegis Rahner has dehistoricized the Catholic tradition, and his “dialectical analogy” cannot rescue its historicity for, having denied a priori the historical media­tion of gratia Christi, Rahner has also denied the existence of a historical foundation for the “dialectic” between the divine and the human, between history and eschaton, on which his methodological dehistroricization of the Catholic tradition must rely.

These several theological solipsisms have been in great measure rendered obsolete.  The most immediate effect of Archbishop Tempier’s condemnation of the Aristotelianism whose thirteenth century “reception” had dominated philosophical and theogical speculation prior to 1277 was its deconstruction of that “reception.”  After Archbishop Tempier’s authorita­tive rejection of pivotal Aristotelian maxims as incompatible with the faith of the Church, the authority of Aristotle crumbled before the authority of free inquiry.  Particularly, Aristotelisnism had held experimental science in abeyance for nearly a millennium by assimilating physics to metaphysics, both dismissive of any need for verification;  The deconstruction of the meta­physics permitted free physical inquiry supported by experimentation, and in the next century, John Buridan, another Rector of the University of Paris, better known for the reading of his Nominalism into dialectical dilemmas, also deduced from the free creation of the physical universe its inherent physical dynamism, and so to the local motion of its particles which he affirmed, contra Aristotle, to be rectilinear rather than circular, thus free of the onus of an eternal return.  This free rectilinear motion he termed “impetus;” it corresponds to what would be termed “momentum,” and entails the first of the laws of  physics, the first law of motion, which postulates that objects in motion move in a right line unless deflected from it.  Pierre Duhem first noted the import of Buridan’s insight. See Volume I, 189-91, endnote 48, and Ch. 2, 289, endnote 71, for Fr. Stanley Jaki’s recognition the significance of Pierre Duhem’s discovery of the strategic importance of the Catholic doctrine of creation ex nihilo underlying Buridan’s insight into the first law of physics, upon which the rest depends.  Underlying this insight is the more radical postulate of free inquiry, a most subtle rejection of cosmological determinism.

The “theology of the body” taught by John Paul II throughout his long papacy, culminates, as has been seen, in his approval of the “Letter on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World,” issued in 2004 by Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  Taken seriously, the ‘theology of the body” has bestowed new life upon an inquiry long moribund.  With the publication of the “Letter on Collaboration,” the free, nuptial substantiality of our imaging of the Triune God has entered the doctrinal tradition, challenging the validity of the uncritical theological dependence upon a monist metaphysics.  With the papal approval of the assertion of the nuptial order of our imaging of God, which dismisses without comment the traditional monist interpretation of that imaging, it finally becomes possible for theologians to accept the literal truth of the Chalcedonian Symbol that it is Jesus, the One and the Same Son, not some theoretical “immanent Son,” who is “consubstantialem nobis,” for the human substance, created in the image of God, is nuptially unified.  This nuptial unity supports a multiplicity of human persons, the human community of male and female persons each of whom is consubstantial with Jesus, their head, who is consubstantial with the Father, his head.  It is Jesus, not some pre-human Logos, who subsists freely, as our head, in our human substance, and thereby, as the source of our free unity, is our Redeemer.  It must be stressed that the head is the source of the free, multi-personal unity of the free substance, the community, divine or human, in which he subsists, whether the Father as the Archē of the Trinity, or Jesus as the Archē of humanity, or the husband as the Archē of his wife in marriage.  This “great mystery” which Paul applies to the Church in Eph. 5, is the concrete subject of the Chalcedonian Symbol.

St. Thomas has described the product of the hypostatic union of humanity and divinity in the Christ as issuing in a “composite person.”[57]  This is a palmary instance of the ancient mistake of seeking the necessary causes of that which, as the basic mystery of the faith, can have none.  Gratia capitis is the gift of free unity by a single Head, Jesus the Christ, the Archē of all created unity.  The notion of a composite source of unity needs no discussion.  This error fed and still feeds the continuing effort of even contemporary theologians to divide the redemption worked by Jesus into divine and human components.  This division of the grace of Christ radically contradicts the doctrine of Chalcedon, which denies any division in the “one and the same Son,” the single source and agent of our redemption from the immanently necessary fragmentation of creation caused by the sin of Adam, his refusal of the free unity offered him “in the Beginning;” i.e., in Christ, his head.

1. The Metaphysics of Solidarity

The explanation of our solidarity with the first Adam and the last rests upon the relation, set out in Rom. 12, between the “one man,” the first Adam, through whom sin and death entered the world, and “that one man,” Jesus Christ, the second Adam, by whom the world is redeemed, freed of the sin and the universal fear of death by which man and, through him, his world, have been imprisoned.  Simply put, the universal destruction effected by the sin of Adam is overcome by the superabundant grace of the Second Adam.  Summarily:

If, because of the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:17)

The textual stress upon the “one man” responsible for the reign of death, and the “one man” responsible for our salvation from the reign of death, presents its problems, for here Paul simply ignores the role of the first Eve in the fall and of the second Eve, the Church, in redemption.  This is not an expression of the misogyny of which Paul is famously and unjustly accused; rather he is dealing with “one man” as the head and the source of the unity of the substance he heads: the Father, the one God, as Archē, the source or head of the Son and the Holy Spirit, is the source of the free substantial Unity that is the Triune God, the divine Trinity of Persons in the Community of their circumincession.  In this bestowal of free unity on the Trinity, the Father is the pattern of all headship, i.e., of Christ as the Head every man, of the husband as the head of the woman in marriage (I Cor. 11:3-16; cf. Col. 1:15ff., Eph. 5:23).

Christ is the Redeemer as the restorer of a lost freedom: Rom. 8:19 is eloquent upon the longing of all creation for the redemption of the sons of men, for it is only in that redemption that the material creation is restored to the freedom it also has lost, together with the beauty that is the freedom of truth.  There can be no doubt that this restoration is mediated through the “one man,” the One and the Same Son who is Jesus the Christ; this is clear from the passage quoted above from Rom. 5:17.  It is equally evident in Rom. 5 that the primordial loss of freedom is mediated through the “one man” who is the fallen Adam, whose fall can only be his refusal of headship.  No problem in theology is more recalcitrant than this solidarity with “one man,” whether in sin, or in redemption from sin.  Only a recognition of the substantial authority of the head as set out in I Cor. 11:3 permits its resolution.

The classic―which is to say, monist―theological anthropologies offer no basis for such solidarity: efforts of theologians to make a “representative personality” of Jesus the Christ who died on the Cross for our liberation from sin, and of the world through us, provide nominal explanations at best.  In short, there is no intrinsic possibility or potentiality in man, qua monist, i.e., as constituting a unique human substance, “indivisum in se et divisum ab omni alio,” for such a “representation” which, we must remember, is the office of the “one man,” whether it be effective in the fall or in redemption from the fall.  The popularity of the interpretation of that “one man” as a corporate personality bespeaks a continued commitment of theologians and exegetes to the monist misunderstanding of the free unity of the human sub­stance and, at bottom, to misunderstanding the meaning of the Headship of our Lord.

As applied to the unity of Jesus the Christ with those for whom he died, the “representation” takes on a parliamentary connotation, if not denotation.  In that context it constitutes only another statement of the dilemma of “the one and the many,” to which no political solution exists.  None should be sup­posed to have been provided by this absurd misreading of “head.” Within the Trinitarian context of I Cor. 11:3, “head” is a title expressive not of a despotic exercise of divine omnipotence ab extra, but rather of our Lord’s admonition to his Apostles, “let it not be this way among you.” 

As we learn from I Cor 11:3, whether it be the Father’s headship of the Trinity, Jesus’s headship of the Church and, through her, of all humanity, or the husband’s headship of his within the “one flesh” of their marriage, it is the office of the head to provide the free unity of the substance of which he is the head, and in which substance he is immanent as its source.  The signal expression of headship is the redemption of the fallen world from its slavery by the subsistence of Jesus the Lord in our fallen human substance (Phil. 2:6-7), bestowing upon it, as Head and thus through the Church, the gift of free nuptially-ordered (Covenantal) unity and freedom.  By his One Sacri­fice, he instituted the One Flesh of Christ the Bridegroom and head of his bridal Church, at once the New Covenant and the New Creation in the image of God.  His restoration of the free nuptial unity lost by the refusal of the first Adam of the headship offered him, i.e., his nuptial unity with his bride, is the restoration of the nuptially-ordered imaging of the free unity of the Trinity by the free unity of the One Flesh, primarily in the Eucharistic institution of the New Covenant, secondarily in the sacramentally-free praxis of marriage.  By his restoration of the salvific significance of history through his Eucharistic immanence in it as its head, its Beginning and its End, we who must live our lives in this fallen world, nonetheless, even as per speculum in aenigmate, may yet know and exercise historical freedom, and develop the free, nuptially ordered institutions inherent in and integral to that exercise.  By so doing, we enter into that “recapitulation of all things” (Eph. 1:10) by which our head, Jesus the Lord, makes all things new.

The head, precisely as head, is the source of the free, substantial unity, the community, in which he subsists as its consubstantial head: this is verified in the Father, who subsists in the uncreated Trinity as its unbegotten source of the Son and the Holy Spirit, who by their subsistence in the Trinity possess with the Father the fullness of divinity; it is verified in the Son, the head of humanity, of the Church, of the good creation which is created in him and in which he subsists as its head, its source; it is verified in the husband, who subsists as head in the nuptial community, the source of the free unity of the marriage in which he subsists, consubstantial with his wife and with their subsistent covenant, their irrevocable bond.  In the Trinity, headship is actual in the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father through the Son; in the economy, it is actual in the Procession revealed by the Mission of the Son to give the Holy Spirit, which Gift is eo ipso the sacrificial institution, by Christ the head, of the One Flesh of the New Covenant, the restoration, the “recapitulation” of the free substantial unity lost in the fall, our creation in the nuptial image of God

A theological solution to this enigma, the unity or better, solidarity, of Christ with those for whom he died, must rely upon the historical tradition, which is to say, upon the worship of the Church, a worship and a reliance that is radically Eucharistic.  A variety of “representative personali­ties”―Adam, Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the patriarchs, Joseph, Moses, the judges, kings, priests, and prophets, the Suffering Servant, the Son of Man―appear in the Old Covenant.  In the New Testament the Church understands their significance so to focus upon Jesus the Christ that it is in his life, death and resurrection that their salvific significance is unveiled ―and only in Jesus, the Christ, the Lord.

He is the second Adam, One Flesh with the second Eve.  Abraham’s obedience to the divine command to sacrifice Isaac foreshadows the Father’s Mission of his own Son to his death, as also Jesus’ own obedient offering of himself as the Victim of the One Sacrifice.  He is the Angel with whom Jacob wrestled; he is the Messiah, the High Priest and the New Moses.  He suffered as the Servant and as the Son of Man who had nowhere to lay his head.  All this he did in imaging his Father’s headship.  His supreme act of obedience to his Mission is his restoration of all things in himself, the recap­itulation which Paul ascribes to him in Eph. 1:10: his sacrificial institution of the New Covenant, the One Flesh by which the Good Creation is restored to the free unity it had in him, in the Beginning.

This “recapitulation” is simply his exercise of his supposedly “represent­tative” office, which is in fact his headship: at once of the second Eve, the Church who is his Body, of every man, and of the restored creation whose restoration is its free unity under the effective sign of the One Flesh, the Eucharistic worship of the Church.  Our solidarity with him is our consub­stantiality with him: by our creation in him we subsist with him, in the redeemed free unity of the New Covenant.

A generation ago it was commonplace in liberal theological circles to deprecate the kingly dimension of the Christ.  “Kingship” was understood by the academic theologians in the rationalized, coercive, finally abstract and monist terms of which our Lord had expressly said, “Let it not be thus among you.”  Christ is indeed the King, the King of kings, but he is so as the Messiah, the head of humanity whose office is not oppressive but redemp­tive and creative because liberating: the giving of the Spiritus Creator by which we are made free to recognize in Jesus the Son sent by the Father to offer each of us eternal life in the Kingdom of his Father, whose will it is that none of us should be lost.

Headship is indeed kingly: we are thereby as Peter has said, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people” (I Pet. 2:9).  But we were not made so in order to oppress each other by our personal authority, for the historical exercise of personal authority, insofar as authentic, is nuptial and sacramental, and has as its pattern the utterly free unity of the Triune God.  As the authority of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is in each case divine, but mutually supportive and implic­ative, so also the authority of the husband, of the wife, and of their irrevocable covenant is in each case fully human, but these three authorities are not competitive; rather they are complementary and personally indis­pens­able each to each, for authority as sacramentally validated knows no coercion, but only love.  We obtain here some glimpse of the truth of the ancient biblical idiom which recognizes the nuptial relation to be one of know­ledge, not mere physical possession, for knowledge and coercion are mutually exclusive, while knowledge and love coincide in the free unity of truth that is beauty.

With this, the vindication of the free unity, the nuptial order, of historical substance and so of historical objectivity, is complete.  It is beyond contro­versy that the doctrinal tradition of the first four Ecumenical Councils permits no alternative to the free reality, the free intelligibility, that is given in Christo, in ecclesia.  If Catholic theology is to remain dependent upon that tradition, as an inquiry arising out of and sustained by the Church’s liturgical mediation of her faith in Jesus the Christ, if it is to continue to be a search for a continually deeper understanding of the Revelation given in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, theological method must affirm a priori the graced freedom of its inquiry, and permit no methodological transgress­sion of that freedom, for its source is personal participation in the faith of the Church in her Lord, a faith whose concrete historical proclamation in the Symbol of Chalcedon no Catholic theology may transcend without ceasing to be Catholic, and so ceasing to be theology.

D. The Reception of the Symbol of Chalcedon

The reception of the doctrine of the Council of Chalcedon is at bottom a reception of the Nicene proclamation of homoousion of the Lord Jesus, the Son, with the Father. . The first stage of this reception was accomplished in principle at the Council of Ephesus by the recognition of Mary as the Mother of God, and the consequent doctrine of Jesus’ consubstantiality “with us.”  This doctrinal application of the communication of idioms to Jesus the Lord was understood to underwrite the divinity of Jesus, her Son.  Not until the Council of Chalcedon was it understood that, as her Son, Jesus could not but be consubstantial with her humanity; he would otherwise himself fail to be fully human.  The Chalcedonian Symbol, or Creed, is the full promulgation of the homoousion of the one and the same Son, at once human and divine, with the Father, and with all those human persons whose humanity is their subsistence in his humanity, in the numerically single human substance of whose free unity he is the source, the Head, the Bridegroom. 

The quaerens intellectum driving this doctrinal development is integral to conversion to the faith that Jesus is the Lord: its earliest expressions are those of the second century Apologists with whom Catholic theology begins.  However, before tracing their fides quaerenxs intellectum, it may be well to examine the meaning of the “reception” of the Council of Chalcedon, for a notable confusion has accompanied the term.

1. The Historical Ecclesial and Liturgical Reception of Doctrine

The current theological consensus, Catholic as well as Protestant, puts in issue the ‘reception’ of the Symbol of Chalcedon.  We have seen Louis Bouyer’s summary remarks to this effect; Aloys Grillmeier’s detailed examination of the fate of the Chalcedonian Symbol between the end of the Council and the beginning of Justinian’s reign in the sixth century repeats the common charge of the failure of the doctrine of Chalcedon to be accepted, particularly by the Greek, Syriac and Coptic Christians of the East.[58]  While ‘reception’ in this academic context is not without ambiguity, its core meaning, insofar as theological, bears upon the apostolic tradition, upon the Church’s historical worship, her public liturgical mediation, radically Eucharistic and therefore at once moral and doctrinal, of the Truth of Christ, the historical object of her historical worship in truth of Truth.[59]  At bottom, the historical reception of this radically Eucharistic tradition can only be liturgical, for it has no other objective historicity.  Further, its reception can only be personal, consisting in free participation, at once person­al and communal, in the free community of the Church’s Eucharistic worship in truth of the Truth, whose radical doctrinal affirmation is that Jesus is Lord, and whose Magisterium is the continual liturgical expression of the ecclesial consensus in that Apostolic affirmation by those ordained to responsibility for it.

This liturgical worship entails eo ipso the historical development of the Church’s doctrine, as inseparable from her Eucharistic liturgy, her worship in truth.  It has found infallible expression in the ecumenical councils wherein the bishops of the Church, the successors to the Apostles, exercise their foundational and indelegable responsibility for the apostolic tradition, Church’s Eucharistic liturgy, her worship in truth of him who is Truth incarnate, the basic mystery of the faith.  It is the radical truth, the inexhaust­ible mystery, upon which all doctrinal development rests, and upon which all theological inquiry bears.

The foundation of all theological speculation is therefore liturgical, which is to say, it is Eucharistic.  There can be no theological ‘reception’ of doctrine which would rest upon a consensus other than that which is that of the Church herself in nuptial union with her Lord.  The unanimity of the ecclesial consensus is apostolic: it is therefore hierarchical, but not as the canonists are tempted to understand the Catholic hierarchy.

Gelasius I, at the end of the fifth century, found it necessary to explain to a usurping Emperor that the latter’s political governance of “the world” took place subject to the moral authority of the Church, which has no political, i.e., coercive, authority whatever.  The bishops’:authority is liturgical; it cannot be coercive.  Because the truth the Church affirms is inherently free, faith in it cannot be imposed.  The subordination of ecclesial authority to canon­i­cal rationality risks the caricature by which contemporary canonists liken the papal authority to that of the imperial dominus, which error speaks rather to their politicization of the faith than to the reality of the papacy.[60]

Because the authority of the Church’s Magisterium is liturgical, it cannot be politicized, cannot be exercised or understood as coercive.  Doctrinal authority is radically liturgical, exercised by those whose episcopal orders render them, as teachers, responsible for the Church’s worship in  truth.  Thus their authority presupposes and rests upon the freedom of the faith.  Their exercise of their liturgical authority neither limits the freedom of the faithful, nor awaits their assent.  Canonical penalties may be imposed by that authority, as in cases of heresy, but such sanctions presuppose the freedom of membership in the Church and of participation in her tradition.  They have no bearing on those who choose to stand outside the Catholic Church, other than that of formally recognizing the departure of former Catholics from her tradition, a recognition that is simply defensive; it coerces no one.

Catholic theology cannot be an abstract and disinterested inquiry, as ‘religious studies’‘ curricula generally suppose.  Theological quaerens arises out of theologian’s personal commitment to the truth of the faith, to the historicity of its truth, a historicity which can only be sacramental.  The truth of Christ is neither empirically available nor abstractly comprehensible for, as free, it is neither reducible to mere information nor deducible from what is already known: i.e., it has no prior conditions of possibility.  As historical, it cannot be reduced to a set of philosophical propositions.  In brief, the faith of the Church is in a Truth which is free because it is mysterious, an inex­haust­ible font of theological understanding simply because the objective histor­ici­ty of its subject, the risen Christ the Lord, is sacramentally mediated.  Jesus’ immanence in history, his Lordship, his historical object­tivity, is not subject to the criteria of abstract logical coherence, criteria which in fact do not exist, because abstract rational coherence does not exist, as Gödel’s incompleteness theorems have shown.

Theology can proceed only from the point d’appui of theologian’s free personal participation in the Church’s liturgy.  Theological dissent consists in a personal rejection of the normative truth of the Church’s historical worship, her historical mediation of the Revelation.  When a theologian dissents from that ecclesial mediation, his theology ceases to be Catholic.  Cut off from its historical foundation, it has no historical function and can only resume the unavailing sarkic quest for the ideal infima species.

Jesus’ Lordship of history is the sole source of the intrinsically free unity of history, the only intrinsic coherence and intelligibility history can possess. The Church’s liturgical and doctrinal affirmation of his Lordship has the free historical unity of her worship: this coherence, as doctrinal, is in sum the analogia fidei, the intrinsic free intelligibility of her doctrinal tradition, a ration­ality whose coherence, as free, is irreducible to any necessity what­ever.

It follows that the freedom of personal conversion to the faith that Jesus is the Lord has a doctrinal dimension and therefore is also an intellectual con­ver­sion: a conversion of the mind of the believer to the free, sacramentally ordered truth of history, the history of which Jesus is the Lord.  His Lordship is Eucharistic: it is thus, i.e., by his Eucharistic immanence in history, that the risen Christ transcends history, that he is its Lord, by whose sacramental immanence in fallen time our temporality possesses the free unity of salvation history.  Fallen temporality thereby is freed of that fleshly futility which profits nothing, to become the history of salvation, whose freedom in truth is liturgically appropriated and personally lived within the community of faith.  Fidelity to that truth is a personal noetic entry into the Mysterium fidei, hidden “in the Beginning”, revealed fully in Jesus the Christ, the one Son. 

Fidelity to this revelation is covenantal: it does not issue in a servility of the mind, but rather in its liberation from the monadic enclosure in immanence, the final incommunicability that marks the consciousness of the sarkic self whose willed self-imprisonment nonetheless cannot defeat the Lordship of Christ.  Despite all dissent to the liturgical-doctrinal-moral tradition of the Church, the fallen mind is still illumined by the light of Christ, the trahi a Deo, the intuition of the personal freedom to choose to be free, to live in the covenantal fidelity that is historical existence in Christo.  Beauty, the freedom of truth, cannot be ignored.  As “the ancient beauty that is forever new,” called Augustine out of his blindness into the light, so the Glory of the Father that is Jesus the Lord offers all of us the free entry into the world which he, the Light of the World illumines, the Good Creation, the redeemed universe, the Kingdom of God.

The conversion from sarkic immanence to covenantal fidelity may be viewed primarily as a conversion from sarx to pneuma, i.e., from fleshly to spiritual existence, from fleshly corruption to spiritual rebirth, sustained by the personal participation in Church’s Eucharistic worship.  Conversion can also be understood as a conversion from imprisonment within a cultural estab­lishment of the criteria of fleshly existence as normative―which is pagan­ism whether old or new―to the liberty of the Kingdom of God, sacramentally mediated to the world by the Eucharistic worship of the Church.

Equally, the conversion may be experienced as a conversion from the despair of history, from the pessimism endemic to all the utopian flights from the anguish of historical existence, to an indefeasible historical opti­mism inseparable from the faith-assertion that Jesus is the Lord, sustained by his Eucharistic Bread of Life and Cup of Everlasting Salvation.  Or, we may experience the conversion as from an unavailing quest for self-indul­gence, a search for whatever may distract us from the suffering of the sarkic self, to a recognition with Augustine that “our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”  Finally, we may regard conversion to faith in Christ the Lord as personal entry into the Kingdom of God by baptismal entry into his death, into the Church which his One Sacrifice instituted, the Church who is the sign of his Kingdom, to which he is the Gate.

Integral to these viewpoints, which may be indefinitely multiplied, is a personal appropriation of personal freedom and of personal moral respon­si­bility.  The conversion to faith in the Lordship of Jesus the Christ entails conversion from intellectual irresponsibility, whether that of the sarkic subscrip­­tion to the self-sufficiency of immanent rationality, or that of the sarkic dissociation of freedom from moral responsibility, as manifest in the pagan and neopagan soteriologies whereby which the sarkic self is sub­merged in a political idolatry, a utopia of irresponsibility.  These irresponsi­bilities coincide in the person of the prospective convert, leaving him without resource.  His conversion is always by grace alone, a gift ex nihilo proceeding from no prior possibility in the convert.  His conversion is from radical irresponsibility to intellectual and moral responsibility.  Irresponsi­bility in either the intellectual or moral dimension of personal existence is alien to the faith that Jesus is the Lord, for that faith is a free fidelity.  The conversion to faith in the Lord Jesus is total; it terminates only in that vision of the risen Christ of which Augustine somewhere has written, “as we see him, so we have him.”

Resistance to this intellectual conversion is inherent in our fallenness, in our sarkic solidarity with the fallen Adam, by which we are continually tempted to rationalize, to establish as again normative the irrationality of sarkic existence, existence “in the flesh.” The universal human propensity to affirm these rationalizations as true prompted Calvin’s famous description of the fallen human mind as a “perpetual manufactory of idols.”[61]  It should be added the idolatries thus proposed are also servitudes.  All idols are demonic absolutes, whose worship reduces the exercise of personal responsibility, of personal dignity, to the insolence of “lese majesté,” of hubris, the usurpation of a personal autonomy reserved to the demonic surrogate for God: the world, the flesh, the devil.

Idolatry is the radical alternative to our nuptial imaging of God: it is commitment to the abolition of that nuptial image, which is the abolition of man.  Apart from its effectively marginalized Jewish component, the Hellen­istic world of the first century was disintegrating under the impact of that nihilism.  The “good news,” the Gospel’s revelation of a free alternative to a universal despair, invoked a cultural revolution.  Its inexhaustible historical dynamism was and remains the public reception, the ecclesial mediation, of that astonishing revelation, that world-shattering news that Jesus is the Lord, the unsurpassable fulfillment of the Old Testament commitment to salvation history by the historical immanence of the Son of the Father, sent to give the Holy Spirit, obedient to that Mission “unto death, death upon the Cross,” now raised to the right hand of the Father as the Beginning and the End.

a. The witness of the primitive Church to the full humanity, the full divinity, and the Personal unity of the Jesus the Christ.

We trace here some salient events in the history of that reception that Jesus is the Lord, witnesses of  conversion to a new covenantal fidelity, no longer awaiting the Messiah, but celebrating the Event of his redemptive life, his sacrificial death, and resurrection as the “life-giving Spirit” whose Lordship of history is the pledge of eternal life to those who have faith in him as the Son of Man and the Son of God, One and the same Son.[62]

. The earliest recorded advertence to the full humanity and divinity, the double homoousion, of Jesus the Christ, and the recognition of the communication of idioms in him, is Paul’s recital of his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, mentioned in the Letter to the Galatians, 1:11-24 and more fully set out in Acts 9:1-12; 12:6-17; and 12-18.  A comparably primitive assertion of the personal unity of humanity and divinity in Jesus the Lord appears in the Letter to the Philippians 2: 5-11, Paul’s adaptation of the earliest known example of those hymns “sung to Christ as to God,” which Pliny as Proconsul of Bithynia reported to Emperor Trajan in the early second century.

They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food--but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations. Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses. But I discovered nothing else but depraved, excessive supersti­tion.

Pliny, Letters 10. 96-97 to Trajan.

Paul’s encounter with the risen Lord grounds his claim to be an apostle, ranking with the Twelve.  Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus of the risen Jesus who identifies himself with the historical Church whom Paul had persecuted so remorselessly, inspired his development of the nuptial sym­bolism that appears in I Corinthians, Romans, and Colossians, and whose final statement appears in Ephesians 5.  Jesus, the second Adam, is the bridegroom of the Church; their “One Flesh” fulfills the prophecy of Genesis.  The corresponding understanding of headship as analogous, the Father’s headship of the Trinity, Jesus’ headship of humanity, and the husband’s headship of the wife, first appears in I Cor. 11:3; its application to Jesus as Head of the Church, and as the Head of all creation, is further developed in Colossians and Ephesians.

Paul’s vision of Jesus as the second or last Adam governs his soteri­ology.  It is as the last Adam, the Head, the one Bridegroom of the Church, that Jesus, by obedience to his Mission from the Father, restored by his one Sacrifice the “One Flesh” the free unity, lost by the sin of the first Adam.  The first Adam’s refusal of nuptial union with the first Eve was his refusal of the office of nuptial headship.  He was offered the office of the bridegroom by whose acceptance he would have bestowed the free unity of the One Flesh upon his bride by which celebration creation is good and very good.   Thereby he would have bestowed that free unity upon all of creation.  By his refusal of that gift of headship, the good creation lost its free unity, to fall into the necessary disunity, the fragmentation, of “flesh.”

Thus it is that “one man” is responsible for the fall from freedom into the blind necessity of fragmentation that is “flesh:” thus it is that “one man,” the Lord Jesus, restores the free unity all creation by his sacrificial institution, on the Altar and the Cross, of the sacramental One Flesh of the New and Eternal Covenant, the rejected primordial unity, the “one flesh” of the Jahwist creation account of the primordial good creation, which all creation, now imprisoned by sin and the fear of death, awaits with eager longing.

Paul’s recognition, first in I Corinthians and Romans, then in the Capti­vity Epistles, particularly the Letter to the Philippians  and the Letter to the Ephesians, of the crucial significance of the nuptial headship offered to and refused by the first Adam, and resumed by the second Adam, as the indis­pens­able source of the free unity of the good creation, as primordially unfal­len and as historically redeemed, is the central insight of his Gospel.  It is in the Letter to the Corinthians that Paul begins to unfold the nuptial symbol­ism which thereafter permeates his doctrine; in that same Epistle, he estab­lishes its Trinitarian ground, setting out the analogy which links the Father’s Headship of the Persons of the Trinity to Jesus’ headship of the Church and of every human being, and secondarily to the husband’s headship of his wife in the sacramentally free society, marriage, which is our sacramental imaging of the perichōresis of the Triune God, the nuptially-ordered coven­antal fidelity proper to the New Testamant.

Jesus reveals the meaning of headship on the Cross, where in the offering of his One Sacrifice he restores what had been lost by sin, the free unity of humanity, by his sacrificial institution of the One Flesh of the New Covenant, from which we may know that to be a head is to be the source of the free unity of the free and therefore communal substance in which the head subsists, consubstantial with those of whom he is the source. . Only in Paul’s Gospel are these themes developed, thereafter generally to be ignored by theologians.

In the Letter to the Romans, Paul set out the parallel between the “one man” by whom sin and death entered the world, and the “one man” by whom the sin and fall of man in his world is redeemed, together with the correlative parallel between the fragmented “flesh” of the fallen world, which as fallen has no unity, and the restoration of that world’s free unity in sacramento by the institution of the One Flesh of Jesus, the second Adam, and his bridal Church, the second Eve.  The last seven verses of Phil. 2, evidently adapted from the primitive Christian hymnody, clearly affirm the divinity, the primordial humanity, and the kenōsis of Jesus, “obedient unto death, death on the Cross.”  The only subject of the Pauline Gospel is Jesus, the Son, the Head, the Bridegroom, “born of a woman,” “made sin” for us, dying on the Cross and risen from the dead,

These themes are fully developed in the Letter to the Ephesians, where the “re-heading” of all things in Christ is taught, and the nuptial relation of the risen Christ to his Church, with explicit reference to the Yahwist creation account in the second Chapter of Genesis.  We have stressed the patristic interpretation of Jn. 19:34 as recognizing in the blood and water flowing from the side of the dead Jesus the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Jahwist creation account in the second chapter of Genesis, a tacit recognition of the primordiality of that creation account: it is the second Eve who is taken from the side of the ‘sleeping’ second Adam.

It is often supposed that such expressions of the Pauline theme of headship which pervade his Letters, and most particularly those deploying nuptial symbolism, are metaphors in the sense of literary devices of no particular metaphysical weight, thus at best of paraenetic rather than doctrin­al import.  The same mentality attends the usual interpretation of the anakephalaiosis (recapitulation) of Ephesians 1:10 (νακεφαλσασθαι τ πντα).  Such nominalist exegesis eviscerates the Gospel of Paul, for it is entirely incompatible with the sacramental realism evident in all his Letters.  Further, the anti-metaphysical animus of this starveling exegesis is also a refusal of salvation history.  Finally, its implicit subjectivism renders impos­sible any serious exegesis: we are left with ‘narratives’ of debatable significance.

The Gospel of John repeats the Pauline Christology: Jesus is the primordial Word, present in the Beginning, with God and as God.  In him all creation has its origin.  He is the Light of the World, enlightening all who come into the world.  He was made flesh for our sake, entering into our solidarity with the fallen Adam, like us in all things save sin, yet transcendent to all history, its Alpha and its Omega.  John’s Gospel and Letters stress that which a current proto-Gnostic docetism challenged, Jesus’ full humanity and full, i.e., Personal unity.

The Apostolic tradition of the revelation who is Jesus the Christ, a tradition radically liturgical because Eucharistic, began with the first Pentecost and for the next four or five decades was the one source and norm of the Church’s faith.  Some fifty years later the Synoptic Gospels had appeared, to be followed a decade later by the Gospel of John, his three Letters, the letters of Peter and of Jude, and, finally, the Book of the Apocalypse.  Paul’s letters had by then been collected; Peter recognized their authority in his first Letter.  Closely associated with this collection is the Letter to the Hebrews, whose authorship is contested, but whose reliance upon Paul is sufficiently evident for it to be attributed to him by the Eastern Church, and by the West for several centuries, despite the doubts voiced by Origen among others.  Contemporary scholarship has placed its Pauline authorship in doubt, but no other author has been seriously proposed.  In any case, the Letter to the Hebrews belongs to the Canon of the New Testament, and cannot be dissociated from the Pauline Gospel; particularly, it is an eloquent witness to the High Priesthood of the Lord Jesus: thus to his unity, humanity and divinity.

a. The Apostolic Fathers

The Apostolic Fathers include the earliest post-apostolic witnesses to the Church’s faith; pre-eminent among them are Clement of Rome, the third to govern the See of Rome after Peter, and Ignatius Martyr, the Bishop of Syrian Antioch.  Clement died in Rome a year or two before the end of the first century: Ignatius was martyred in that city about a decade later.  Because our interest here is Christological the consideration given the Apostolic Fathers is largely limited to their testimony to the humanity, divinity, and unity of Jesus the Lord.

i. Clement of Rome

Little is known of Clement apart from that which is conveyed by his famous Letter to the Corinthians (ca. 96.)[63],in which city an insurgent group had expelled the local clergy and evidently usurped their offices.  Clement’s admonition, written, as Quasten observes, for a wider distribution than a single diocese, confirmed the authority of the apostolic succession to Orders, referring to the expelled clergy as charged with the offering of sacrifice, and rejecting the legitimacy of any exercise of the priestly office independent of that succession. [64]

Clement’s Christological statements are sparse: Jesus is preexistent;[65] he is the “beloved child of God,” the “High Priest and Guardian of our souls.”[66]  It is likely that Clement holds a Spirit Christology,[67] since this was standard with the Apostolic Fathers and provided the common interpreta­tion of the Lk. 1:35 for the next two centuries, but it is not developed in Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians.  However, his stress upon the sacrificial character of Jesus death on the Cross, and upon its Eucharistic representation as the offering of sacrifice, are foundational for all Christology, for this insistence invokes the Johannine understanding of the One Sacrifice, i.e., as the fulfillment of the prophecy of the union in One Flesh of the primordial Adam and Eve.[68]  The primordial personal humanity of the spouses inherent in this nuptial imagery implies the communication of idioms, reflects the synoptic titling of Jesus as the Bridegroom, and relies upon Paul’s development of that imagery from I Corinthians 6 through Ephesians 5.

ii. Ignatius Martyr

Ignatius was the second bishop of Antioch, succeeding Evodius, the immediate successor of St. Peter.[69]   James Kleist observes that Ignatius was “brought up under the eyes of three illustrious Apostles, Saints Peter, Barnabas, and Paul.”[70] He was condemned to be martyred in the Roman Coliseum during the reign of Trajan, at a date generally stated as 107 AD, although it may have been as much as ten years later.   In his seven Letters to the Churches, and in his Letter to Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, he provided the clearest and most comprehensive witness of all the Apostolic Fathers to the full Personal unity of humanity and divinity in Jesus the Lord.[71]  His anti-docetic emphasis is constant, both as to the reality of the Incarnation and as to reality of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, “the medicine of immortality, the remedy that we should not die”, the standing offer of personal union with the risen Christ.  Ignatius relied entirely upon the apostolic tradition and particularly upon the Pauline Epistles.  Over and again he stresses that personal union with the risen Lord is mediated solely by the hierarchically-ordered worship of the Church: salvation is by union with Christ, in the Eucharist, in the Church: departure from this ecclesial and liturgical unity is departure from Christ and so from salvation.[72]

Like all the early witnesses to the Lordship of Jesus the Christ, Ignatius took for granted what would later be named “the communication of idioms,” the recognition of the full divinity, the full humanity, and the full unity of Jesus the Lord.  This witness to the union of God and man in Jesus the Christ is so clearly the content of the apostolic tradition, of the earliest faith-assertion of the primitive Church that “Jesus is Lord,” as to have been obvious even to the rudes whom, in the second decade of the second century, Pliny the Younger heard in Bithynia, singing hymns “to Christ as though to God.”

Both Paul and John levied on this primitive hymnody, and not least for their assertion of Jesus’ primordial pre-existence, in “the Beginning,:” the pre-existence of the primordial Jesus the Word, the Son, the Christ, the Lord, the Personal unity of God and man  We find this witness to the primordiality of the Christ especially in the Johannine and Pauline tradition (Jn. 1:1, I Jn. 1:1; Rev. 1:8, 17; 21:6; 22:13;  Col. 1:15-17, Eph. 1:4; 2:10, II Tim. 1:9, Heb. 12:2, 9:26, I Cor. 10:4, 11:47-49), but it is present in the Synoptics as well; of this their insistent ascription of the “Son of Man” title to the Christ offers ample testimony to the Synoptic’s recognition that Jesus is the Beginning and the End.

The same doctrinal postulate of Jesus’ primordiality is inherent in the flesh,” “spirit,” “First Adam, second Adam” polarity of the Pauline Letters, in which “spirit” names that which is in solidarity with the victory of Jesus, the second Adam, over death, whereby he becames “living Spirit;” while “flesh” names that which in each of us is in solidarity with the fallen first Adam, our innate alienation from Christ our head, and the consequent mortality that is the price of original sin.  Our solidarity with the risen Christ as Spirit is a solidarity with our Head who, in obedience to his Mission from the Father “became flesh,” entering into our fallen condition, our “flesh,” in order to redeem the whole of the creation which is “in him,” in that Begin­ning that is the Mission of Jesus the Lord, which terminates in the full gift of the Holy Spirit, the good creation, fallen in the first Adam, redeemed in the second Adam, Jesus the Lord.

This Beginning, the primordial Jesus, is unfallen, integral, immortal, for sin and death enter the world only by the original sin of the first Adam and Eve: a refusal of free nuptial unity in the moment of their creation, in which they spoke for its free imaging of God by refusing that imaging, refusing the free unity underlying the whole creation, by which alone it is good.  Thus lacking the free unity which only the head can provide, the creation became “flesh,” locked into the single alternative to free unity, an immanently necessary fragmentation without limit toward the total disintegration that is death.  In Romans 8:9ff, Paul describes the fallen universe as longing for the freedom of humanity by which alone creation may recover the freedom proper to it, the intrinsic significance that is its free truth, its beauty.

Jesus’ Mission from the Father was not, as we have seen, propter pecca­tum sensu negante, i.e., it was not simply on account of sin and thus merely to redeem the fallen world, for the universe is created in him, and has no other source for its free unity than him, its primordial Head.  It is a basic Pauline insight that Jesus is the primordial Head of all creation.  Thus, it is as the primordial and human head of the primordially unfallen creation, imman­ent in that creation, that Jesus the Lord enters into its historical fallen­ness to become flesh.  As we learn from his admonition to his discouraged disciples in Lk. 24:26, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer all these things, and thus enter into his glory?”

It is a time-honored and unreflective supposition that the subject of the Mission of the Son is the “Trinity-immanent,“ nonhistorical, not yet human Son who, sent by the Father, must then “become flesh” in the sense of becoming human, becoming historical.  This mistake is the fruit of an abstract, nonhistorical theology of the Trinity as simply ab aeterno, as though intelligible in the abstract, apart from its revelation in Christ.  How­ever, the Catholic doctrinal tradition knows nothing of a non-historical, pre-economic “immanent Trinity,” nor of a non-historical, pre-human Son, or of a Mission of the Son other than of Jesus, the one and the same Son.  The theo­lo­goumenon of an “immanent Trinity” is the confection of cosmological rationality, the product of a latent historical pessimism which supposes that theology must rationally transcend the concrete historicity of the Revelation in order to arrive at clarity of understanding unsullied by the historical mediation of truth.

The doctrinal tradition knows no divine Son other than Jesus the Lord: He is the subject of the primordial Mission of the Son as the Head of all creation, a creation which by reason of his headship of it is good and very good.  It is by his Personal immanence in creation “in the Beginning” that creation exists: it is thus that he is the precondition even of the fall, for his offer of free unity to the human substance in which he subsists, as its creator, its Head, the source of its free unity, is the pre-condition of the refusal of that offer by the first Adam and first Eve, and so of Original Sin and the Fall.  Jesus the Son is sent to give the Holy Spirit, the Spiritus Creator who proceeds eternally from the Father through the Son.  It is by the Son’s obedience to his Mission, by his outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that creation comes to be.  It is integral to that creation that it freely be free, that it appropriate the Gift of the Holy Spirit, which cannot be imposed.  This appropriation can only be nuptial, for the freedom offered is that of the One Flesh of the primordial second Adam and second Eve in which the Mission of the Son terminates.

The Son’s primordial gift of the Holy Spirit to the second Eve issues in the good creation of Gen. 1 & 2, a creation whose goodness is its free nuptial unity: the primordial One Flesh of the second Adam and the Second Eve.  The unity of the primordial good creation is a gift of the Head who is the second Adam: the primordially free appropriation of that goodness is the office of the primordial second Eve, who proceeds immaculate from her Head, the Bridegroom, receiving from him the Holy Spirit he was sent to give and thereby freely in nuptial union with him.  Thus the good creation is primordially constituted in the free unity in One Flesh of the second Adam and the second Eve, in which the Mission of the Son terminates. However, this free unity cannot be imposed.  The primordial Gift of the Holy Spirit was its outpouring upon the second Eve in her sinless procession from her sinless Head, by the immaculate freedom given her in that outpouring she freely and spontaneously affirmed him as her Lord, One Flesh with him;  This union is personal: it could only be offered personally to the humanity created in this institution of the One Flesh of the second Adam and the second Eve.

The proffer of this free unity “in the beginning” is single, an offer of the supreme responsibility of headship over creation to its prospective head, the first Adam.  This offer was of nuptial freedom, and therefore was open to a nuptial refusal: its refusal by the first Adam and first Eve deprived the universe of the free nuptial unity by which alone it is good.  The world yet awaits the full restoration of that unity, as dependent upon the full liberation of humanity, by the second Adam, the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega, whose immanence in creation was not annulled by its fall.

The fall deprived creation of free nuptial unity―for there is no other free unity in creation than this, which images the supreme freedom of the Trinity.  Fallen man, as fallen, is intrinsically divided between two concrete solidarities: as in solidarity with the first Adam, every fallen human being  is “flesh,” sarx.  As in solidarity with the second Adam, he is “spirit,” pneuma. These polarities are irreconciliable, in a tension which pervades all history, public and private.  We live in the overlap of two kingdoms―“two cities” in Augustine’s terms: the City of God and the City of man, and each of us must choose between them.  The freedom so to choose is mediated by the Holy Spirit poured out upon the Church: only by reason of her Eucharistic worship is moral freedom possible to fallen humanity. 

As free, the choice to dwell in the City of God, in ecclesia, in Christo, cannot but be open to refusal: the refusal by which the first Adam refused a proffered headship, a refusal effective for all creation.  The second Adam, immanent in his now fallen creation, is immanent as its Head, as the primordial source of its free unity.  His mission remained as it was in the Beginning: to bestow the Holy Spirit.  In obedience to his Mission, he could not but exercise that headship which the first Adam had refused: Thus he “became flesh” in the moment of the “Fiat” of the second Eve, whose primordial union with him in One Flesh was given  its expression in fallen history by her conception of her Lord, the prolepsis of the One Flesh of the New Covenant which he instituted on the Altar and on the Cross by his One Sacrifice. By his triumph over the “last enemy,” death, Christ redeemed the fallen world.

It is then as having become flesh, descending from the heaven that is the primordial good creation, that the primordial Jesus underwent the kenōsis of his primordial dignity by his obedient entry into our slavery to death, and by dying redeemed the fallen world; his resurrection from the dead is his radical victory over death as such, a victory communicated by baptism into the worshiping Church, the “mother of all the living.”

In her is fulfilled the title given the fallen first Eve, the mother of all the living, but while the children of the first Eve are imprisoned through all their lives by the fear of death, those of the second Eve enter into life eternal, through the apostolic ministry of the bishops, their priests and their deacons who are at one with her in the unity of the Church’s sacramental mediation, essentially Eucharistic, of the risen Lord.

For it is as Eucharistically represented that Jesus is the Lord of history, and that his victory transcends all historical fragmentation: by that Euchar­istic representation, the risen Jesus is immanent in our fallen history as its risen Head, as the “life-giving Spirit.”  He bestows upon it that free signifi­cance by which is it salvific per se: not simply as post-Pentecostal, but from the Beginning to the End, from the Alpha who is also the Omega.  All who choose to live and have lived in salvific history live and have lived in him.  The sacramental mediation of eternal life restores to those imprisoned “from the beginning” by the fear of death the freedom to choose to live in him, in the “life-giving Spirit,” in the City of God.

Ignatius’ Christology deploys the Pauline Spirit-Flesh dichotomy to express the identity of Jesus, the historical Son of God, with the preexistent “Son of Man,” the “bread from heaven,” who, by his kenōsis, exchanged his primordial integrity, his glory, his manifest divinity, for the “form of a slave,” his submission to the fallenness, the mortality, the temptations, of our fallen historicity, as inseparable from his free acceptance of his Mission from the Father.

In reading Ignatius, it is therefore of the first importance to reject the anachronistic identification of “Spirit” with Jesus’ divinity, and “flesh” with his humanity.[73]  Following Paul in Phil. 2, Ignatius knew the subject of the Incar­na­tion to be the preexistent Christ who, antecedently immortal and thus ‘Spirit,’ “became “flesh,” through his conception by the Virgin Mary who, by conceiving him, became the mother, not of his humanity, but of her Son, Jesus himself, so named by the Father’s messenger, the angel of the Annunciation.[74]  Here Ignatius follows not only the account of the Incarna­tion in Phil. 2:5-11, but also that of Jn. 1:1-14 and I Jn. 4:2, in which the preexistent Logos is Jesus. Here Ignatius is following the “logos sarx egeneto” of Jn. 1:14, which is not to be read as his “becoming man,” in the all-too-usual sense that would dehistoricize Jesus’ pre-existence by suppose­ing it to be that of the “immanent Son,” and thus to be eternal rather than primordial.[75]  This is clearly ruled out by Jn. 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word.”  When the Word is understood as the divine Son who exists ab aeterno, thus as simply non-human, it is evident that he can have no “begin­ning,” and no “becoming.” The Word as divine sensu negante, as “imman­ent,” as absent from history, can have no relation to anything created.  When understood as the immanent and therefore nonhistorical Son, thus as abso­lute, incapable of relation to the created order, the Word cannot be the subject of the Prologue’s “Logos sarx egeneto.”

In the Old Testament and the New, and consequently for Paul, for John, and thus also for Ignatius, “flesh” denotes fallen historicity and therefore the mortality proper to it, the fear of which imprisons all men “who through fear of death were delivered to lifelong bondage.” (Heb. 2:14) [RSV].  It is thus that “all flesh is grass,” as Isaiah has it, and thus that as our Lord has said, “the flesh profits nothing,”[76]  It is thus that Ignatius’ Spirit-Christology under­s­tands the Incarnation: i.e., as Jesus’ kenōsis in the sense given the term by Paul in Phil. 2, the assumption of the “form of a slave” by the primordial Jesus, unfallen, deathless and therefore “spirit,” who “although in the form of God, did not account equality with God a thing to be grasped.” (RSV)  For Jesus, the second Adam, to have assumed the form of a slave is for him to have “become sin,” to have “become flesh,” without detriment to his eternal divinity, to his eternal procession from the Father as his Word, or to his full humanity, or his full Personal unity.

Jesus’ Personal unity is the fundamental mystery of the faith: It can only be preached and heard in faith: it is not open to metaphysical analysis, and  Ignatius offers none.  His Christology is a celebration of the historical, redeem­ing Christ; he manifests no interest whatever in the antecedent possi­bility of the union of humanity and divinity in the Person of the one Son, the Word of God who is Jesus the Christ.  Like Paul, like John, Ignatius knows no disincarnate Son.  He is the Church’s most eloquent witness to the full Apostolic tradition, to the faith of the primitive Church whose only subject is Jesus, fully divine, fully human, and fully the one Lord, who preexists as “Spirit,” and who “became flesh.”

This is the “Spirit Christology” of the primitive Church: its subject is the Lord Jesus of Rom. 10:9 and Phil. 2:5-11, in whom divinity and humanity are united in the fundamental mystery of the faith.  It must be stressed that in this apostolic Christology, “Spirit” refers to the historical transcendence and thus the “pre-existence” of the risen Lord Jesus, as “flesh” refers to his kenōsis, his obedient entry into fallenness, his acceptance of “the form of a slave,” his free submission to of our fallen mortality, our fear of death, for the sacrificial achievement of our redemption.  Ignatius knows “the life-giving Spirit” to be Eucharistically mediated: thereby we are given the “medicine of immortality,” “the remedy that we should not die.”

The language of “Spirit Christology” is Pauline: it describes the histori­cal event of the Incarnation of the primordial Jesus, not of an “immanent Son.”  Thus it is not at all  interested in an analysis of his Personal unity: it speaks rather to the mystery, to the tension between the primordial pre-existence and the kenōsis of the Lord Jesus, in whom divinity and humanity are at one in the mystery of his Person.  Ignatius is eloquent on this tension or dialectic, but it is not between Jesus’ divinity and his humanity: it is between his fallen servitude to death and his risen victory over death: between his historical humanity and its transfiguration, between the degra­da­tion of his crucifixion and the elevation of his Cross as the triumphant symbol of our salvation.

Later theology will tend to Platonize, cosmologize and thus dehistoricize this mystery, but Ignatius never does.  He is in clear possession of the “com­mu­nication of idioms” which, concrete in the affirmation Jesus’ Lordship, implies the homoousion of the Son with the Father and his human homo­ousion with us.  The Catholic faith that “Jesus is Lord” can have only a Personal reference: it imports the recognition, some three and a half centuries before Chalcedon, of the Personal unity of humanity and divinity in Jesus, and thus inexorably entails the double homoousion of Jesus with his Father and with us, as defined at Chalcedon.[77]  In sum, the Symbol of Chalcedon does no more than witness to the Church’s most primitive assertion of her faith that “Jesus Christ is Lord.”

This is the “Christology” of the preaching and teaching Church, explicit in the first four Councils.  No Christian theology can go beyond apostolic affirmation of the Church’s faith that Jesus is Lord, still less put it in issue. Foundational for the faith, it cannot but be foundational for theology as such.  To debate its adequacy, to submit its truth to an implicitly higher criterion―always cosmological―as though posing a problem to be solved rather than establishing the foundation of historical truth as such, is to cease to do theology, for that false problem thereupon becomes the pseudo-concern of Christology, whose sole interest, not withstanding, is the revela­tion given in the Lord Jesus and mediated by his bridal Church.

iii. II Clement

II Clement is the oldest surviving Christian sermon, dating to about 150 AD.  Its author is unknown.  Jurgens considers its preservation in the Corinthian archives together with I Clement to be evidence of a Corinthan origin.  The author’s Christology upholds the divinity and the humanity of the Christ in the unity of his Name: Jesus is Spirit made flesh.  He is also familiar with the nuptial imagery of “the beginning,” i. e., of the primordi­al­ly unfallen order of creation:

[1, 1] Brethren, we must think of Jesus Christ as God and as the Judge of the living and the dead

II Clement 1,1; tr. Jurgens, The Early Fathers, I, § 01, at 43.

[1] Let none of you say that this flesh is not judged and does not rise again.  [2] Just think: in what state were you saved, and in what state did you recover your sight, if not in the flesh?  [3] We must, therefore, guard the flesh as a temple of God  [4] In like manner, as you were called in the flesh, so you shall come in the flesh.  [5] If Christ, the Lord who saved us, though He was originally spirit, became flesh and in this state called us, so also shall we receive our reward in the flesh.  [6] Let us therefore love one another, so that we may come into the kingdom of God.

Ibid., 9, 1-6; §104, at 43.

[2] I presume that you are not ignorant of the fact that the living Church is the body of Christ (2).  The Scripture says, “God made man male and female (3)”  The male is Christ, and the female is the Church.  Moreover, the Books (4) and the Apostles declare that the Church belongs not to the present, but has existed from the beginning.  She was spiritual, just as was Jesus; but He was manifested in the last days so that He might save us. [3]  And  the Church, being spiritual, was manifested in the flesh of Christ.[78]

2: Eph. 1: 22-23.

3: Gen. 1:27.

4: The Books, of course, are the Old Testament Scriptures, while the Apostles are the New Testament.  The Syriac translation supplies to the Books the qualification of the prophets.

Ibid., 14, 1-2, 105, at 43.  A more extended excerpt of this passage is provided by Quasten, Patrology I, at 55-56.

The creation of man as male and female “in the beginning,” as revealed in Gen. 1:27 and Gen. 2:21-24, is the obvious ground for the identification of the male as the Christ; the female as the Church.  I it is clear that the author read these verses as prophetic, in line with the common patristic interpret­tation of Jn. 19:34, and also with Paul’s first Adam–second Adam paral­lel in I Cor. 15:45, Romans 5, and with his citation of Gen. 2:24 in Eph. 5:31. Thus II Clement understands the pre-existence of the feminine Church, like that of Jesus, to be spiritual.  The living Church is the body of Christ, his spouse.  The Books and the Apostles declare that the Church belongs not to the present but has existed, “from the beginning” and then, as historical, was manifested “in flesh of Christ.”  This last sentence [14,3] at first glance appears to identify the flesh of the Church’s manifestation with the flesh in which the spiritual Jesus is manifest, but the creation narratives are here too close to the surface to permit their common “flesh” to be other than the “one flesh” of Gen. 2:24.  The allusion which Jurgens has noted to the head-body union of Christ and the Church in Eph. 1:23 confirms that inference.  The entirety of the long sentence in Ephesians in which that allusion appears is pertinent here:

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Eph. 1:16-23 (RSV);  underlineation added.

Within this context, in which Jesus the Christ’s headship of “the Church which is his body” is clear, it is not too much to read II Clement’s “And the Church, being spiritual, was manifested in the flesh of Christ” as a reference to the manifestation of the primordial (“in the beginning”) nuptial union of Christ and the Church in fallen history: proleptically in the Incarnation, redemp­tively in Jesus’ sacrificial institution of the New Covenant.  This prolepsis intimates Mary’s standing as the second Eve.

While the identity of the Church with the second Eve is implicit in Eph. 5:32-33, the application of that title to Mary waits upon Irenaeus in the last decades of the second century.  II Clement makes no explicit mention of the second Eve in its presentation of the Church as the spouse of Christ and, while Justin develops the Eve-Mary parallel, neither does he call Mary the second Eve.  Nonetheless, the strict association of Mary with the sinless Church’s unfallen integrity is prerequisite to her utterly free conception of her Lord, which in turn is the indispensable preliminary to his sacrificial insti­tution of the New Covenant.  Only the ancient exegesis of Lk. 1:35 permits Mary to be the mother of her Lord, and the consequent communi­cation of idioms between them apart from which Jesus would not be the Lord.

iv. The Shepherd of Hermas

The Shepherd of Hermas is an apocryphal apocalypse, which Jurgens would date ca. 140-50, in agreement with the Muratorian Canon, while Quasten thinks it to have been written in two parts, the first dated about 96 AD, the second somewhere between 140 and 150, in which case the work would have been composed over a period of perhaps fifty years: this Jurgens thinks unlikely.[79]

The author’s central concern is penitential: Kirsopp Lake offers this summary:

The main problem, which constantly recurs, is that of sin after baptism.  In the circle to which Hermas belonged the belief obtained that Christians after baptism were capable of leading sinless lives, and that if they fell they could not again obtain forgiveness.  Experience, however, had shown that in this case few indeed would be saved, and the message of Hermas was that for sin after baptism there was still the possibility of forgiveness for those who repented, though this repentance would not avail more than once.  A great part of the book is taken up in developing the details of this doctrine of repentance, which is entrusted to an angel called the Shepherd, who gives his name to the book, and it is obvious that we have here the beginning of the Catholic doctrine of penance.[80]

The Shepherd of Hermas, tr. Kirsopp Lake, The Apostolic Fathers II, . Col. The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 19701913), p. 2.

Quasten says much the same, if more concisely:

The angel of penance appears in the guise of a shepherd who will sponsor and direct the whole penitential mission, who is to revitalize Christianity, and who now proclaims his commands and his parables. [81]

Quasten, Patrology I, at 94

Hermas’ Christology is consequently indirect; his exposition of it is in func­tion of his ecclesiology and his moral doctrine.  In the five Visions constituting the first part of his work, the Church is presented first as an ancient woman, preexistent, the first of all creatures in a world itself created for her sake.  Later, she appears in a more youthful guise, that of a mature woman, and lastly as a youthful and beautiful bride, the symbol of God’s elect people: The Church is also presented as a tower in the process of construction, whose stones are the elect, and which is founded in water symbolizing baptism, and on the rock who is the Son of God.  It is noteworthy that Hermas makes no reference to the Logos nor does he name Son of God Jesus Christ.

In the third part of his book, Hermas learns from the Shepherd that he has been sent to him by that Son-Savior who is preexistent “Spirit” (who is “Son and Savior, also as preexistent) and who, as preexistent Spirit, assumes flesh. 

The Shepherd opens the dialogue:

35. Say on,” he saith, “if thou desirest anything.” “Wherefore, Sir, say I, “is the Son of God represented in the parable in the guise of a servant?”

36 “Listen,” said he; “the Son of God is not represented in the guise of a servant, but is represented in great power and lordship.” “How, Sir?” say I; “I comprehend not.”

37 “Because,” saith he, “God planted the vineyard, that is, He created the people, and delivered them over to His Son. And the Son placed the angels in charge of them, to watch over them; and the Son Himself cleansed their sins, by laboring much and enduring many toils; for no one can dig without toil or labor.

38 Having Himself then cleansed the sins of His people, He showed them the paths of life, giving them the law which He received from His Father. Thou seest,” saith he, “that He is Himself Lord of the people, having received all power from His Father.

39 But how that the Lord took his son and the glorious angels as advisers concerning the inheritance of the servant, listen.

40 The Holy Preexistent Spirit. Which created the whole creation, God made to dwell in flesh that He desired. This flesh, therefore, in which the Holy Spirit dwelt, was subject unto the Holy Spirit, walking honorably in holiness and purity, without in any way defiling the Spirit.

41 When then it had lived honorably in chastity, and had labored with the Holy Spirit, and had cooperated with it in everything, behaving itself boldly and bravely, He chose it as a partner with the Holy Spirit; for the career of this flesh pleased [the Lord], seeing that, as possessing the Holy Spirit, it was not defiled upon the earth.

42 He therefore took the son as adviser and the glorious angels also, that this flesh too, having served the Spirit unblameably, might have some place of sojourn, and might not seem to hare lost the reward for its service; for all flesh, which is found undefiled and unspotted, wherein the Holy Spirit dwelt, shall receive a reward.

43 “Now thou hast the interpretation of this parable also.”

44 “I was right glad, Sir,” say I, “to hear this interpretation.” “Listen now,” saith he, “Keep this thy flesh pure and undefiled, that the Spirit which dwelleth in it may bear witness to it, and thy flesh may be justified.

45 See that it never enter into thine heart that this flesh of thine is perishable, and so thou abuse it in some defilement. [For] if thou defile thy flesh, thou shalt defile the Holy Spirit also; but if thou defile the flesh, thou shalt not live.”

46 “But if, Sir,” say I, “there has been any ignorance in times past, before these words were heard, how shall a man who has defiled his flesh be saved?” “For the former deeds of ignorance,” saith he, “God alone hath power to give healing; for all authority is His.

47 “But now keep thyself, and the Lord Almighty, Who is full of compassion, will give healing for thy former deeds of ignorance, if henceforth thou defile not thy flesh, neither the Spirit; for both share in common, and the one cannot be defiled without the other. Therefore keep both pure, and thou shalt live unto God.”

The Shepherd of Hermas, Parable/Similitude V, 5:5 – 6: 4.  Apostolic Fathers – Second edition . Translated by J. B. Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer.  Edited and revised by Michael W. Holmes (Grand Rapids, MI:Baker Book House, 1989) [hereafter, Apostolic Fathers /2), at 245-46.

The text of Lightfoot’s original translation, downloaded from the Early Christian Writings Website ( is followed here, with reference to its revision in the corres­ponding pages of Apostolic Fathers.

Hermas’ Christology is the Spirit Christology of Ignatius and of II Clement, an affirmation of the Pauline and Johannine tradition of the pri­mor­dial preexistence of Jesus the Lord, the Logos who, as preexistent, the Shepherd names Holy Spirit, whose ensarkosis is the enfleshment of the pri­mor­dial Son, the Savior.[82]  Contra Quasten and Harnack, there is no adop­tion­ism here.[83]  Hermas hypostasized the “flesh” of the Son only because no vocabulary existed by which this could be avoided, nor would it exist until the latter half of the fourth century.  Hermas did not express the unity of Spirit and flesh―i.e., of the Son’s primordial pre-existence and his historical existence―in the terms of existential paradox which Ignatius Martyr had used, but neither is Hermas’ “indwelling” metaphor latently diophysite, for Hermas did not think in terms of accounting for the prior possibility of the Incarnation.  Cosmologi­cal analysis was alien to his interest: he knew no Logos-sarx quandary.  To read adoptionism into his exposition of the Spirit’s Incarnation, his “becom­ing flesh,” is simply to have missed the point.  Hermas’ Christology is Pauline; whereas adoptionism responds to a cosmo­logical curiosity which pre­sup­poses the antecedent possibility of the Incarnation and wishes to account for it, inevitably putting in question the unity of Christ the Lord.  The Personal unity of the Son, the “Holy Spirit” whom he names the Son and the Savior, was not an issue for Hermas.  His identi­fication of the Son as the Savior is sufficient evidence of Hermas full acceptance of the communication of idioms in the Son, and so of his faith-appropriation of the basic mystery of the faith: that Jesus is Lord.  His Personal unity is corro­bor­a­ted by the Shepherd’s injunction that any defile­ment of the flesh is a defilement of the Holy Spirit:

See that it never enter into thine heart that this flesh of thine is perishable, and so thou abuse it in some defilement. [For] if thou defile thy flesh, thou shalt defile the Holy Spirit also; but if thou defile the flesh, thou shalt not live.”

Parable/Similitude V, 45; Apostolic Fathers, at 246.

The solidarity of the ‘Holy Spirit’ with the ‘flesh’ of the Christian echoes the headship theme of I Cor. 11:3 and, more particularly, echoes the Pauline doctrine of Jesus’ headship of the body, the Church, in Col. 1:18; finally it anticipates the Chalcedonian definition of Jesus’ consubstantiality with every human being.

Hermas knows an “Angel Christology” as well: it rests upon the applica­tion. by early Jewish converts to Christianity, of the Old Testament accounts of the epiphanies of “Angel of Jahweh” to Jesus.[84]  Jean Daniélou pro­vides a concise account of the Angel Christology of the first two centur­ies:

How is this theology in terms of angels to be interpreted?  It seems fairly certain that the use of such terms in no way- implies that Christ is  by nature an angel.  The Semitic categories which underlie this expression are not Hellenis­tic concepts.  In fact the word angel has an essentially concrete force: it con­notes a supernatural being manifesting itself.  The nature of this supernatural being is not determined by the expression but by the context.  The word repre­sents the Semitic form of the designation of the Word and the Spirit as spiritual “sub­stances, as ‘persons’, though the latter terminology was not to be intro­duced into theology until a good deal later.  “Angel” is its old-fashioned equiv­a­lent.

Daniélou, Jewish Christianity, at 118.

Daniélou finds this ‘angel Christology” set out with clarity in The Shepherd:

A characteristic feature of theology of Hermas is to call the Word ‘glorious’ (νδοξος) or most venerable (σεμντατος) angel’.  He distinguishes very clear­ly the angel who visits him, whom he calls variously ‘shepherd’ and ‘angel of repentance’ from the supreme being, whom he  also calls an angel, but who is quite different from the other since it is he who sends that other.  His attributes also are quite different.


Daniélou then proceeds to a comprehensive demonstration of the Shep­herd’s identification of the Word with the “glorious angel,” the “most venerable angel,” “the holy angel” “the angel of the Lord,” “the angel of the Lord, glorious and very tall.”  This identification progresses in the following texts:

And he (the Shepherd) immediately sat down by my side, and he saith unto me, “I was sent by the most holy (most venerable) angel, that I might dwell with thee the remaining days of thy life.”

Fifth Vision 5, 2; Apostolic Fathers /2, at 214.  (Daniélou here rmarks that ‘holy angel’ is equivalent to ‘venerable angel’).

For I will be with them and will preserve them; for they all were justified by the most holy angel.

Fifth Mandate, V, 1:7; Apostolic Fathers /2, 230.

But thou who hast been strengthened by the holy angel, and hast received from him such (powers of intercession and art not idle, wherefore dost thou not ask understanding of the Lord, and obtain it from Him).”

Fifth Similitude, V 4:4; Jurgens, Apostolic Fathers /2, at 244.

Here Daniélou observes: “The holy angel and the Kyrios are placed on the same footing.  The Shepherd on the other hand belongs to another sphere as is shown by what follows:”

“”It is necessary for thee,” saith he, “to be afflicted; for so,” saith he, “the glorious angel ordered as concerning thee, for he wisheth thee to be proved.”

Seventh Similitude 2:2; Apostolic Fathers /2, at 251.

Sir, if they perpetrated such deeds that the glorious angel is embittered, what have I done?”

Seventh Similitude 3, 1; Apostolic Fathers /2, ibid.

Daniélou now points out:

Then the denoument: “glorious angel” is called “the angel of the Lord”:

Thou must be afflicted as the angel of the Lord commanded, even he that delivered thee unto me; and for this give thanks to the Lord, in that He deemed thee worthy that I should reveal unto thee beforehand the affliction, that foreknowing it thou might endure it with fortitude.”

Seventh Similitude, 5:3; Apostolic Fathers /2 at 252.

Daniélou continues:

In the Eighth Similitude, “the glorious angel,” “the angel of the Lord,” appears as the judge those who seek admission to his Church:

He (the Shepherd) showed me a [great] willow, overshadowing plains and mountains, and under the shadow of the willow all have come who are called by the name of the Lord.

And by the willow there stood an angel of the Lord, glorious and very tall, having a great sickle, and he was lopping branches from the willow, and giving them to the people that sheltered beneath the willow; and he gave them little rods about a cubit long.

And after all had taken the rods, the angel laid aside the sickle, and the tree was sound, just as I had seen it.

Then I marvelled within myself, saying, “How is the tree sound after so many branches have been lopped off?” The shepherd saith to me, “Marvel not that the tree remained sound, after so many branches were lopped off but wait until thou seest all things, and it shall be shown to thee what it is.”

The angel who gave the rods to the people demanded them back from them again, and according as they had received them, so also they were summoned to him, and each of them returned the several rods. But the angel of the Lord took them, and examined them.

Eighth Similitude, I, 1-5; Apostolic Fathers /2, at 252-53.

And the angel of the Lord commanded crowns to be brought. And crowns were brought, made as it were of palm branches; and he crowned the men that had given up the rods which had the shoots and some fruit, and sent them away into the tower.

And the others also he sent into the tower, even those who had given up the rods green and with shoots, but the shoots were without fruit; and he set a seal upon them.

And all they that went into the tower had the same raiment, white as snow.

Eighth Similitude, II. 1:3; Apostolic Fathers /2, at 254.

Daniélou’s commentary upon the “glorious angel” of the Eighth Simili­tude brings out the divine quality of the office exercised by the angel, as evident in his distribution of the branches, his distinguishing between the just and the sinners, his conferring of the seal (baptism), and his introduction of the just into the Tower that is the Church:

These are divine functions: the judgment of souls, the rewarding of the just, the bestowal of grace, the incorporation into the Church of the Saints.  For Jewish Christians, they form part of the peculiar mission of the Son of God to whom judgment has been committed.

Daniélou, Jewish Christianity, 121-22.

Finally, Daniélou shows that the Shepherd’s identification of the “glorious Angel” with Archangel Michael is in fact the latter’s identity with the Word, the “glorious angel” who is the chief of all the angels.

but the great and glorious angel is Michael, who hath the power over this people and is their captain. For this is he that putteth the law into the hearts of the believers; therefore he himself inspecteth them to whom he gave it, to see whether they have observed it.

Eighth Similitude, III, 3: Apostolic Fathers /2, at 255.

And, behold, after a little while I see an array of many men coming, and in the midst a man of such lofty stature that he overtopped the tower.

And the six men who superintended the building walked with him on the right hand on the left, and all they that worked at the building were with him, and many other glorious attendants around him.

Ninth Similitude, VI, 1-2, Apostolic Fathers /2, at 266.

“The glorious man,” saith he-, “is the Son of God, and those six are the glorious angels who guard Him on the right hand on the left. Of these glorious angels not one,” saith he, “shall enter in unto God without Him; whosoever shall not receive His name, shall not enter into the kingdom of God.”

Ninth Similitude, XII, 8; Apostolic Fathers /2, at 272.

Daniélou points out also that the description of the “glorious angel” as “very tall”, as “of such lofty stature that he overtopped the tower,”

.is specifically characteristic of Jewish Christian teaching, being a peculiarity of their representation of angels.  It serves precisely to establish the transcend­dence of the “glorious angel” by showing that he surpasses the angels infinitely. . . .Above all it appears in Hermas with reference to the Son of God: ‘I see. . . a man of such lofty stature that he overtopped the tower (Sim. IX, 6:1).

Daniélou, Jewish Christianity, at 121.

In short, this is a transformation of the account in Tobias 12:15 wherein Raphael identifies himself as one of the seven angels who stand before God: the angels are now six, with the seventh the new Michael, the Son and Savior, who replaces the Old Testament’s Archangel Michael as the head of the six subordinate archangels, and does so as the Son of God, infinitely transcending the six archangels: for Hermas, there are never more than six archangels; we see this in the account in the Third Vision (V, 6) of the old woman who is the preexistent or spiritual Church:

It is to be noted that the “glorious angel” is an epiphany of the preexistent Son of God, as was the Angel who spoke to Moses in Ex. 3:14; such divine manifestations, obscure in the Old Testament, attain clarity only in the New Testament, where the identification of the “angel of Jahweh” (mal’ak Yahweh) with the Christ becomes clear: it is He who, par excellence, has been sent by the Father: the Son of God, the Savior, is the Angel of Jahweh.

Hermas’ “angel Christology’ is entirely historical: it concerns the “great and glorious man” who is the Savior, who also is the “Spirit” who is the Son of God:

After I had written down the commandments and parables of the shepherd, the angel of repentance, he came to me and saith to me; “I wish to show thee all things that the Holy Spirit, which spake with thee in the form of the Church, showed unto thee. For that Spirit is the Son of God.

For when thou wast weaker in the flesh, it was not declared unto thee through an angel; but when thou wast enabled through the Spirit, and didst grow mighty in thy strength so that thou couldest even see an angel, then at length was manifested unto thee, through the Church, the building of the tower. In fair and seemly manner hast thou seen all things, (instructed) as it were by a virgin; but now thou seest (being instructed) by an angel, though by the same Spirit;

Ninth Simlitude, I, 1-2; Apostolic Fathers /2, 262.

In Hermas’ thought, the “Spirit Christology” and the “angel Christology” are at one: the Spirit and the Angel each name the one Son of God.  Their pre-existence is in each case primordial: each is “manifest” as at once human and transcendent to creation.   Hermas’ Christology, like that of all the Apostolic Fathers, takes for granted the apostolic tradition of the Spirit Christology, with its powerful stress on the primordial pre-existence of Jesus the Lord; that which Origen will call the communication of Names in Jesus Christ the Lord.

v. Polycarp

Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna, Irenaeus described himself as Polycarp’s student, and said of Polycarp that he was a disciple of the Apostle John, and that he had been appointed Bishop of Smyrna by the Apostles.

Our information about Polycarp is largely dependent upon his Letter to the Philippians, sent to the Christians of Philippi.  It is now generally recognized to be a joinder of two letters (Quasten, Patrology I, 76-82, at 79; Jurgens, Early Fathers I, at 28; see also endnote 70, supra.  The first Letter was sent shortly after Ignatius arrived in Rome, between 110 and 118, probably closer to 110 since. as Jurgens notes, Polycarp's Letter forwarded copies of the Letters of Ignatius to the Philippians, who had requested this of him. Polycarp’s Second Letter, which included most of the text of his Letter to the Phlippians, was sent them some twenty years later.  Quasten also records an account of Polycarp’s discussion of the date of Easter with Pope Anicetus in 155 or 156; they could not agree, Polycarp supporting the Quartodecian practice derived from John and the Apostles, the Pope relying upon the Roman custom.  They agreed to disagree with the consequence that their disagreement involved no personal breach.  Finally, we have also the record of Polycarp’s martyrdom, contained in a letter sent by an otherwise unknown Marcion to the Church in Philomenium, in Great­er Phrygia, now central Turkey.  His martyrdom occurred shortly after Polycarp’s return from Rome after visiting Anicetus,.  He died nobly at the age of eighty-six, as we learn from this account of an eye-witness. 

When he had at last finished his prayer, in which he remembered all that had met him at any time—both small and great, both known and unknown to fame, and the whole world-wide Church—the moment of departure arrived, and, seating him on an ass, they led him into the city.  It was a great Sabbath.  He was met by Herod, the chief of Police, and his father Nicetas.  They had him transferred to their carriage and, seated at his side tried to win him over.

“Really,” they said, “what harm is ther in saying “Lord Caesar,’and offering incense” –and what goes with it—“and thus being saved?

At first he did not answer them, but when they persisted, he said: “I am not going to do what you counsel me.

So they failed to win him over, and with dire threats made him get down so hurriedly that in leaving the carriage he bruised his shin.  But without turning around, as though he had suffered no injury, he walked briskly as he was led to the arena.  The uroar in the arena was so tremendous that no one could even be heard.

As Polycarp entered the arena, a voice was heard from heaven: Be strong, Polycarp, and act manfully.  Nobody saw he speaker, but those of our people who were present heard the voice.  When he was finally led up to the tribunal, there was a terrific uproar among the people on hearing that Polycarp had been arrested.

So when he had been led up, the proconsul questioned him whether he was Polycarp, and, when he admitted the fact, tried to persuad him to deny the faith.

He said to him, “Respect your age,” and all the rest they were accustomed to say; “swear by the Fortune of Caesar, change your mind; say ‘Away with the atheists!’”

But Polycarp looked with a stern mien at the whole rabble of lawless heathen in the arena; he than groaned and, looking up to heaven, said, with a wave of his hand at them ”Away with the atheists!’ ”

When the proconsul insisted and said: “Take the oath and I will set yhou free; revile Christ,” Polycarp replied ‘For six and eighty years I have been serving Him and He has done no wrong to me; how then, dare I blashpeme my King who has saved me!

But again he insisted and said “Swear by the Fortune of Caesar.”

He answered “If you flatter yourself that I shall swear by the Fortune of Caesar, as you suggest, and if you pretend not to know me, let me frankly tell you: I am a Christian!  If you  wish to learn the teaching of Christianity, fix a day and let me explain.

Talk to the crowd, the proconsul next said.

“You,” replied Polycarp, “I indeed consider entitled to an explanation; for we have been trained to render honor, insofar as it does not harm us, to magistrates and authorities appointed by God; but as to that crowd, I do not think it proper to make an appeal to them.

“Well,” said the proconsul, “I have wild beasts, and you shall be thrown before them if you do not change your mind.”

“Call for them,” he replied; “to us a change from better to worse is impossible, but it is noble to change from what is evil to what is good.”

Again he said to him: “If you make little of the beasts, I shall have you con­sumed by fire unless you change your mind.”

“The fire which you threaten,” replied Polycarp, “is one that burns for a little while, and after a shor time goes out.  You evidently do now know the fire of judgement to come and of the eternal punishment, which awaits the wicked.  But why do you delay? Go ahead; do what you want.

As he said this, and more besides, he was animated with courage and joy, and his countenance was suffused with beauty.  As a result, he did not collapse with fright at what was being said to him; the proconsul, on the other hand,was astounded, and sent his herald to announce three times in the centre of the arena: “Polycarp has confessed to being a Christian.”  Upon this announcement of the herald, the whole multitude of heathens and Jews living at Smyrna shouted with uncontrolled anger and at the top of their voices: “This is the teacher of  Asta, the father of the Christians, the destroyer of our gods! He teaches many not to sacrifice and not to worship!  Amidst this noisy demon­stra­tion, they called upon Philip, the minister of public worship in Asia, to let loose a lion upon Polycarp.  But he replied that he had no authority to do so, since he had already closed the hunting sports.  Then they decided with one accord to demand that he should burn Polycarp alive,  Of course, the vision that had appeared to him in connection with the pillow—when he saw it on fire during his prayer and then turned to his trusted friends with the prophetic remark: “I must be burned alive”—had to be fulfilled.

Then the thing was done more quickly than can be told, the crowds being in so great a hurry to gather logs and firewood from the shops and baths!  And the Jews, too, as is their custom, were particularly zealous in lending a hand.  When the pyre was prepared, he laid aside all his clothes, unfastened the loin cloth, and prepared to take off  his shoes.  He had not been in the habit of doing this, because the faithful always vied with each other to see which of them would be the first to touch his body.  Even before his martyrdom, he had always been honored for holiness of life.  Without delay the material prepared for the pyre was piled around him; but when they intended to nail  him as well, he said, “Leave me as I am.  He who enables me to endure the fire will also enable me to remain on the pyre unbudging, without the security provided by your nails.   So they did not nail him, but just fastened him.  And there he was, with his hands put behind him, and fastened, like a ram towering over a large flock, ready for sacrifice,  a holocaust prepared and acceptable to God!  And he looked up to heaven and said:

O Lord God, O  Almighty, Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we hav received the knowledge of you—God of andgels and hosts and all creation—and of the whole race of saints who live under your eyes! I bless thee, because thou hast seen fit to bestow on me this day and this hour, that I may share, among the martyrs, the cup of Thy Anointed and rise to eternal life both in soul and in body, in view of the immortality of the Holy Spirit.  May I be accepted among them in Thy sight today as a rich and pleasing sacrifice, such as Thou, the true God that cannot utter a falsehood, hast prearranged, revealed in advance, and now consummated.  And therefore I praise Thee for everything; I bless Thee; I glorify Thee through the eternal and heavenly High Priest Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, through whom be glory to Thee together with Him and the Holy Spirit, both now and for ages to come.  Amen.

When he had wafted up the Amen and finished the prayer, the men attending to the fire lit it; and when a mighty flame shot up, we, who were privileged to see it, saw a wonderful thing; and we have een spared to tell the tale to the rest.  The fire produced the likeness of a vaulted chamber, like a ship’s sail bellying to the breeze, and surrounded the martyr’s body as with a wall, and he was in the centre of it, not as burning flesh, but as bread that is baking, or as gold and silver refined in a furnace!  In fact, we even caught an aroma such as the sent of incense or of some other precious spice.

At length, seing his body could not be consumed by fire, those impious people ordered an executioner to approach him and run a dagger into him.  This done, there issued [a dove and] a great quantity of blood, with the result that the fire was quenched and the whole crowd was struck by the difference between unbelievers and the elect.  And of the elect the most wonderful Polycarp was certainly one—an apostle and prophetic teacher in our times and a bishop of the Catholic Church in Smyrna.  In fact, every word his lips have uttered has been, or will yet be, fulfilled.

Polycarp’s Christology is in the tradition of John, whose disciple he had been, which became the tradition of Asia Minor.  It continued the crucial anti-docetist stress of John the Evangelist, who had encountered this proto-gnosticism prior to his writing of his Gospel.  Thus Polycarp upheld the full humanity of Jesus the Christ, his full divinity and full unity.  Polycarp affirmed as well his historical resurrection from the dead, and the final judgment, themes which flatly contradict the docetic and later fully gnostic dehistoricizing of the Christ.  Both Quasten and Jurgens report Irenaeus’ account of Polycarp’s encounter with the arch-heretic Marcion, in which Marcion asked whether Polycarp recognized him, and received a short reply: “Of course: I recognize the first-born of Satan.”  This forthright rejection of heresy coupled with a dauntless fidelity to the apostolic tradition typified his episcopacy, winning him the love of his flock, and the hatred of those who despised Christianity.  Both are manifest in his martyrdom

vi. The Letter of Barnabas

Both Quasten and Jurgens consider The Letter of Barnabas to be a letter in the sense of personal correspondence only in that it uses the epistol­ary style common to Christian religious literature in the second century: they consider it to lack the personal tone and content appropriate to a letter: in sum, it is rather an exposition of doctrine than a letter. [85].

Granted that the Letter is certainly an exposition of doctrine, it is difficult to read it in Kleist’s translation without being struck by the intensely personal tone of the entire document.  It is addressed to a Christian community with whose resistance to a perceived Judaizing threat to their faith “Barnabas” is profoundly concerned.  His Letter, like Paul’s to the Philippians, is rather an extended homily to a beloved congregation than an formal exposition of doctrine.

Little is known of its author except that the Letter’s anti-Jewish animus is generally thought to bar it from having been written by Paul’s companion of that name. It is usually dated either in the middle or latter seventies of the first century when a resurgent and militant Judaism may have prompted its riposte, or perhaps some fifty to sixty years later, between 117 and 138, in reaction to the Bar Kokhba revolt.  Quasten would allow a date as late as 138, at the end of Hadrian’s reign: either dating is problematic.

Barnabas’ doctrinal significance is what one may expect of a witness to the Apostolic preaching:: simply,: he upheld the pre-existence of Jesus, who came in the flesh, willing to suffer for us, that we might be saved.  This language testifies to the communication of idioms implicit in his faith in Jesus’s Lordship: “Barnabas” understands Jesus to have preexisted in a manner other than that of the “flesh,” but it is Jesus who preexists: the pre-existence assigned him is therefore not eternal but primordial. “Barnabas” also taught the unity of Jesus, and our redemption through his death on the Cross.

Barnabas is an exponent of the “Spirit Christology[86] which we have seen in Ignatius’ Letters to the Churches, in The Shepherd, and in II Clement.   Those who, like Harnack, The Shepherd of Hermas or the Letter of Barnabas a naive adoptionism or adoptionist tendency do so on the anach­ron­istic basis of supposing the view of Hermas and “Barnabas” on Incarna­tion to the some version of their own Christology, which holds that it is the eternally immanent Word who becomes not flesh, but man.  J. N. D. Kelly has shown that the Apostolic Fathers were too close to the Spirit Christology of the apostles and the apostolic preaching thus to dehistoricize the Incarna­tion.  For them, it is the preexistent or ‘spiritual’ Jesus who becomes flesh.  He is primordially human as well as divine, and his becoming flesh, his concep­tion by our Lady, the Theotokos, is his obedience to his Mission from the Father to give the Holy Spirit, now to a fallen world.  The Apostolic Fathers did not concern themselves with explaining that doctrine: taught by Paul and John, they affirmed it as a matter of faith, as the subject of belief, not of analysis.

2. The Beginning of Theology

Christian theology, in the sense of Anselm’s classic definition, faith seeking understanding, developed and yet develops as a function of the infal­li­ble ecclesial-liturgical mediation of the truth of Christ, wherein the Church’s historical worship in and of that historical, incarnate Truth immediately confronts the historical pessimism which here, following J.N.D. Kelly, is dubbed “cosmologi­cal.”[87] This pessimism is inherent in the pagan con­sciousness, formed by a soteriological flight from the experienced futility of historical existence to a nonhistorical pantheistic fulfillment in which all fallen multiplicity is concluded and all distinctions abolished.  Catholic theology is therefore Christologically focused by necessity: it has nowhere else to turn.  When it forgets or neglects its concrete historical foundation in the revelation of Jesus the Christ, it ceases to be theological.

The Church’s faith is that of Abraham: faith in the Lord’s promise to him of a transcendent future, even at the cost of sacrificing his son in whom that future was embodied.  The Church has understood as prophetic Abraham’s re-assurance of his son Isaac: “God will himself provide the lamb”.  Abra­ham’s unconditioned faith in God’s promise is the ground of Judaism as it is of the Christian faith that Jesus is the Lord.  He is the Christ, the promised Messiah, not simply as the divinely anointed King to whose coming  the Jewish people looked, for the Jesus the Christ is also the High Priest whose one sacrifice completes those of the Old Law, fulfilling them beyond any expectation by his death upon the Cross, and by his institution of that One Sacrifice offered at the Last Supper and on the Cross as the heart of the Church’s worship and life, the central Event of history.

The foundation of Catholic theology, as of all things Catholic, is there­fore the Eucharistic celebration, the sacrament instituted by Jesus the Christ by which as risen, he transcends history as its Lord, as the head and redeemer of the fallen creation which was created in him and can be redeemed, restored, only by him.  This redemption is the restoration of a lost free unity: as a free gift, it must be freely appropriated, for it cannot be imposed by a divine fiat: it can only be offered.  This offer is the Church’s liturgical worship, in which the sacramental reception of the Body and the Blood of the Lord Jesus is communion with his victory over death, which is entry into eternal life.  The history of which Jesus is the Lord is thus salvific by the worshiper’ free personal entry into, and freely appropriation, of its Eucharistic mediation of our redemption.  By participating in the celebration of that One Sacrifice, we become as Paul has said, a New Creation, for Christ the Lord has made all things new.  History has no other meaning than the mediation of this sacrificial restoration of free unity to the universe of man―for the restoration of the physical universe to its free unity, its free truth, its primordial beauty, is at one with the redemption of man: they are a single creation, with a single Head, a single source of free unity, Jesus the Lord.

The consequence of this faith is that the baptized Catholic, comes to recognize in himself in ecclesia, then in his society, in his world and in its history, an existential bi-polarity, “simul justus et peccator,” a double citizenship, an intrinsic conflict whose foundation is not a cosmo­logi­cal fatality but a free moral fault.  The dialectic of this conflict is des­cribed by Paul as a tension between the two solidarities which constitute our fallen consciousness; viz., a free solidarity in the «lifegiving Spirit, the pneuma that is the risen Christ, in lived tension with a fallen solidarity with the first Adam, the fallen author of the disintegration of creation which knows no end other than the radical dissolution of death.  This, our solidarity with the flesh of mortality, sarx, has its source in a free sinful choice that is not our own but that of the fallen Adam who, as its prospective head, freely refused, for himself and for all creation, the offer to him by the primordial Jesus the Christ─the second Adam─of the normative free nuptial unity with the second Eve, that is indispensable to the beauty and the joy of the good creation.  This is the Original Sin, the universally efficacious refusal of free nuptially ordered unity offered to the first Adam and first Eve by the primor­dial Jesus the Lord, whose consequence is the dynamic disunity, the disintegration, of the fallen universe.  The Good Creation has no other unity than that which is free.  Christ our Lord, obedient to his primordial Mission, died in order that the lost freedom of the Good Creatiopn be restored to us through his Gift of the Spiritus  Creator, by which Gift all things are made new.

It is in consequence of this refusal of nuptial responsibility by the first Adam that the Christian knows himself to be an alien, dwelling in a crumb­ling universe, himself crumbling within it.  As corporeal, as a physical entity, every human person is subject to the fragmentation of fallen time and space, subject to the fallenness of the universe, subject to its innate drive to further disintegration, to the yet further dispersion that is death, the single alternative to the continual renewal inherent in the recovery, through the One Sacrifice of its Head, of its lost free unity.

The inexorable physical dissolution of fallenness is fulfilled in the death of each of us.  The universal recognition of this fatality characterizes and dominates human consciousness as an angst, a pervasive anxiety, nameless but omnipresent, radically unacceptable.  Our death is the question to which we have no answer, thus death is the enemy of all joy.  We are imprisoned for all our lives by the fear of death, as we read in Hebrews 2:15..  Only faith in the Resurrection of Jesus the Lord, faith in his victory over death, is able to restore joy to the world.

To regard death otherwise, e.g., as “natural,” as less than malign, as having its own rationale, its own intelligibility, is to abstract from its reality, to dissociate oneself from existence as human.[88]: By reason of the fall, we stand under a divine judgment and, apart from Jesus the Christ, we do so without recourse.  At once justified, redeemed in and by him, throughout our fallen history we remain bifurcated, at once just and sinful, between life and death, ever on the brink of a decision which in this life is wavering, inconclusive.

On the other hand, to know this is already to have transcended death: the knowledge is itself an intimation of immortality, for it entails a similarly pervasive intuitive awareness of an indestructible personal dignity and thus entails also a refusal, even an inability, to accept death as personal extinct­tion.  This intuition is universal; it may be refused, but not annulled.  Through­out recorded history men have build permanent structures by a kind of instinct: they found families, communities and institutions which them­selves connote a kind of immortality.  Societies celebrate their founding as of permanent significance, despite the vulnerability which they experience continually.  Time may devour all things, but the human response to this awareness is to build yet more.  Kingdoms and cultures fall and become lost even to memory, but only to be succeeded by others.  There is in the human condition an indomitability which has no physical basis, a fidelity to a future hope that embracing the past as significant of a better future, a confidence that the future will continue to transcend the past. 

In this theological context, ‘cosmology’ refers to the universal pagan misunderstanding of reality as the constituting elements of the necessarily existing habitable world, the “cosmos.”  Cosmologies are implicitly panthe­istic: by reducing intelligibility to necessary structures, the divine becomes a necessary emanation: bonum diffusivum sui,  and the cosmos, produced by an immanently necessary emanation from the divine is thus linked to its cause as to constitute “great chain of being” whose intelligibility is rigorous­ly necessary and deterministic.  Cosmological rationality must deny intelli­gi­bility to free events in favor of assigning necessary causes to whatever is real, with the at least latent dismissal of freedom as mere indeterminacy and therefore as irrational.

Commitment to such determinism denies a priori the freedom of God’s covenantal presence or immanence in the world of men, and must submit divine revelation to the logic of necessary reasons.  The cosmological salvation scheme is always a flight from the irrationality of history for, within the stance of cosmological rationality, the historical order has no significance or unity, and the unceasing quest for meaning must seek it elsewhere, i.e., outside of history. This historical pessimism requires the dehistoricization of an unintelligible temporality; it can know nothing of salvation history.

The Christian soteriology, on the other hand, relies entirely upon the free gift of the free truth that is the revelation of God’s free, covenantal presence in the world and his free redemption of humanity from the radical and primordial misuse of freedom that is Original Sin.

Taken seriously, which is to say, as principles of theological method, these two viewpoints obviously exclude each other.  Arianism provides a sali­­ent instance of a methodological application of cosmological rationali­ty─of dehistoricization─to the Christian revelation that Jesus is Lord.  This necessity characterizes every heresy.  We are continually tempted to subord­in­ate the free historical revelation of Christ to the immanent necessities of fallen human rationality as criteriological for what may be revealed―or, at least, to have it both ways, which is impossible.

The history of theology begins with the effort of the second-century Apologists who, upholding the faith of the Church that Jesus is the Lord, undertook to understand the free truth, the Mysterium Fidei, that is the Christian revelation Their orthodox insistence upon soteriology as criterio­lo­gi­cal of truth as such finally expunged the influence of the cosmological mentality at the Council of Nicaea.  This victory over the relicts of the pagan fatalism laid the essential foundation for the development of Catholic doc­trine by opening it to the historical optimism that is explicit in that develop­ment.

It must be stressed that the soteriology here in view is precisely specified by the radically mysterious unity of Jesus the Lord, concretely affirmed in the liturgical attribution to him of divinity and humanity and whose unity the Apostles experienced precisely as Personal, to be Named.  The Pauline state­ment of the faith of the primitive Church, “Jesus is Lord,” is normative for Chris­tian soteriology, which in consequence can dispense with neither Jesus’ Personal unity, nor his full divinity, nor his full humanity.  This unity, the “Mysterium fidei,” has from the outset been communicated liturgically, in the Church’s Eucharistic worship of her Lord and in the Apostolic preaching integral to that worship of Truth in truth.  This radically vocal tradition developed an authentic Scriptural expression by the end of the first century, by which time liturgical formulas for the celebration of the Euchar­ist and for baptism had been in place since the Last Supper, and a hymnody was also quite evidently in use.

This liturgical development of doctrine has its further expression in local and finally in ecumenical councils, which depend not upon theological speculation but upon the apostolic tradition, which is to say, upon the litur­gical mediation of the truth of the Faith by those charged with the oversight of the Church’s radically Eucharistic worship.  These, the bishops, are charged with personal, indelegable responsibility for this worship simply as suc­cessors of the Apostles.  When serious challenges to its truth are seen to endanger the faith of their Christian people, the bishops meet in council whether locally, as at Carthage under Bishop Cyprian, or ecumenically, as at Nicaea under Pope Sylvester, to confront and resolve the challenge.  Their exercise of their liturgically-grounded magisterial authority can only be litur­gi­cal and therefore sacramental.  Their authority is  not academic: the Councils do not enter into theological controversies.  While the doctrine pro­mul­gated by the Councils may resolve them, as occurred at each of the first four councils: Nicaea, I Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon, it does so only by a re-affirmation of the untroubled faith that Jesus is the Lord, sent by the Father to give the Holy Spirit.

Consequently, there can be no question of a Christian “reception” of Conciliar doctrinal develop­ment distinct from participation in its liturgical pro­cla­mation.  Such a reception would be tautologous, for it would be identical with participation in the liturgy.  Any interpretation of “reception” which would presuppose a dissociation of the academic interest of theology from the unity of worship of the Church and so from the faith of the Church is entirely alien to the res Catholica.  In the following examination of theol­o­gy of salient representatives of the patristic tradition, the liturgical fidelity of the Fathers, their full loyalty to the Church’s faith in the Lord Jesus, is taken for granted.  This applies to the alleged antipope, Hippolytus, and his disciple, Novatian, an actual antipope, and to Tertullian, whose rigorism drove him into Montanism.  His dispute with the Church was over discipline and a then poorly understood papal authority; he did not contest the Church’s faith that Jesus is the Lord.

a. The Apologists

With the half dozen second-century authors known as the Apologists there begins that encounter of faith in Jesus the Lord with the cosmological rationality upon whose a priori rejection of that faith this study has been intent.  With the exception of Justin, the Apologists’ theological speculation was framed faute de mieux in the conceptuality of that eclectic joinder of Greek philosophical traditions, pre-eminently Platonism, with admixtures of Stoicism, Aristotelianism, Pythagoreanism and, occasionally, Epicureanism, which informed the learned world of the second and third centuries.  The monist emanationism common to the Platonic and Stoic solutions of the per­en­nial problem of the one and the many was very clearly incompatible with the Trinitarian faith:  From the late first century to the middle of the fifth, its widespread cultural influence had a subordinationist impact upon Trinitarian speculation, wherein the Father was unreflectively identified with the sup­pos­edly emanating divine substance, i.e., with substantial divinity as such, thus requiring that the Son and Spirit, insofar as distinct from the Father and from each other, be emanations from the Father and, further, that thereby they possess a lesser and in some sense participated degree of divinity: inevitably, this was to impose an implicit dualism, a divisibility, upon the one God as such.  It is astonishing that we find the Apologists effec­tively untouched by this influence, for it confused Christian theology (as opposed to the doctrinal tradition) for centuries thereafter.

The age of the Apologists begins with Justin Martyr, and ends with Irenaeus at the close of the second century; he extended Justin’s lost work, Adversus haereses, into a five-volume polemic of the same title against the Gnostic dualism then threatening to submerge Christianity in a revived cosmolog­ical dualism, comparable to the docetism with had threatened the faith at the end of the first century.  Irenaeus also recognized the comparably dehistoricizing thrust of Platonism, for he found the subject of his Chris­tol­o­gy in the historical “recapitulation of all things” by the “one and the same Son,” the second Adam, Jesus the Christ, preexistent from “the Beginning,” whose Incarnation was mysterious simply, a historical fact transcending all reality, whose revelation he, like those before him, accepted as a free gift of the free Truth who is the Christ, wholly irreducible by cosmological analy­sis.

From mid-second century, the Apologists had witnessed to the same apostolic faith as Irenaeus, to the point of martyrdom, as with St. Justin, who died in bloody persecution during the reign of Marcus Aurelius by which the pillars of the pagan world hoped to see Christianity destroyed.  The Apolo­gists testified to their faith eloquently as intellectuals of a high order, witnes­sing to their faith by the exposition of theological reasons for its transcend­dence of the imperial paganism.  They recognized that this perilous procla­ma­tion of the Christian faith, directed to the imperial throne, was imposed upon them by their conversion to the truth of Christ, their deliverance from the cosmological and radically nonhistorical mentality of the ambient pagan learn­ing by conversion to the historical truth of Christ which could not accom­mo­date the paganism of the Greek intellectual tradition, for at best it is a radical pessimism and at worst a blasphemy.

The Greek philosophical tradition understood the divine transcendence of all that is historical to be the divine absence from and immunity to history.  The patristic development of doctrine began with conversion from this, the historical pessimism proper to the pagan 'Gentiles' to whom the Gospel was  preached, to the historical consciousness which, having accep­ted the historical truth that is the mystery of Christ, the Mysterium fidei, discovers its free truth to be incompatible with the determinist postulate of the monadic unity of truth and of being which the Hellenistic culture took for granted and to which the converts themselves had unreflectively sub­scribed.

While inevitably remaining to some extent under this influence. for in this fallen world conversion from it is never complete, the Apologists as Christians affirmed the apostolic tradition that “Jesus is Lord,” that he is sent by the Father to give the Holy Spirit.  Thereupon they undertook the recon­cil­iation of their faith with their fallen rationality, a process which under grace could issue only in their conversion from the historical despair of the “flesh” to the historical optimism of the “spirit.”  The truth of the faith that Jesus is the Lord could be affirmed only as a free gift of the free truth of the historical revelation in Christ, a revelation which, once affirmed and liturgically appropriated in baptism, freed their minds from the doom and despair inherent in pagan philosophy, for by faith they knew God to be actual in history as its Lord, consequently knew that history is significant of sal­vation, not in fact devoid of intrinsic meaning and hope.

This conversion to historical rationality, to historical optimism, is intrin­sic to Catholic spirituality.  In Augustine’s famous idiom, we must under­stand our faith spiritualiter, not as an ideally necessary truth, not as a truth open to verification by its reduction to necessary causes whether intrinsic or extrinsic, nor as a subjective conviction of no public validity, but rather as the public truth publicly available by historical communion in the historical Church with the historical Truth himself, the Lord whose Lordship is his transcendence of all creation, of all history, by reason of his imman­ence within it, an immanence which, given irrevocably in the constitutive Event of his Lordship of history, his One Sacrifice, can only be Eucharistic: Christ is the Bridegroom, the Head of the Church.

The major obstacle to the patristic quaerens intellectum was the mass of cosmological presuppo­sitions which had for millennia formed the culture of the Hellenistic world, a sampling of which Paul had encountered in addres­sing the Athenian sophisticates on the Areopagus.  Men trained to prosper in that environment could not but regard with scorn the attempts of those who wished to bring to them truths so absurd as those preached by Paul, chiefest among them being the Resurrection, but also the stringent moral code inseparable from conversion to faith in Jesus the Lord.  The Apologists were men of this culture, but discovered in hearing the apostolic preaching, and recognizing that it took for granted a personal freedom which the pagan cul­ture had condemned as irrational, found themselves confronted by a free respon­si­bility for the free truth, and were converted thereby to a radically novel consciousness, that which Augustine, following Paul, would identify with being at once just and sinful, simul justus et peccator, confronted always by the need for a further and continuing decision to follow Christ the Lord.

This novel consciousness of conversion to the faith of the Church had imme­diate liturgical, i.e. baptismal, expression in concretely Trinitarian terms, but the felt tension between the faith-affirmation of the indivisibility of the One God, and of the divinity of the Father, the Son and the Spirit, as proclaimed in the liturgy and taught by the apostolic preaching, began to achieve theological clarity only in the last decades of the second century, with Athenagoras' recognition of an unchanging order (τξις) in the liturgi­cal Naming of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and in Theophilus' recogni­tion that this order was that of a τρíας or τρíαδος, a Trinity.  These men were near contemporaries of Tertullian and Hippolytus, who first spelled out the irre­ducible Personal distinctions of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  A comparable tension, slower to be developed theologi­cally, concerned the pre-existence of the Lord Jesus affirmed voluminously in the New Testa­ment and by the Apostolic Fathers from the latter half of the first century through the first half of the second: i.e., a decade or two before the Apol­o­gists.  Origen, in his Peri Archon (ca. 231), pivoted on the primordiality of Jesus the Lord, to affirm his full divinity and full humanity in a theological synthesis which has been little understood but has never been surpassed.  By the end of the third century his reputation was in tatters, and by the time of the Council of Nicaea the authenticity of his theology was recognized only in Alexandria.

After the authority of the Council of Nicaea had been rejected by the allies and disciples of Eusebius of Caesarea, the pre-existence of Christ began to be conceived cosmologically, i.e., non-historically, whether in Mid­dle Platonic or Stoic terms, leading to the supposition that the subject of the Incarnation and kenōsis was not Jesus, as John the Evangelist taught in the Prologue and as Paul had taught in Philippians, but the pre-human Middle Platonic–Stoic Logos, understood as the ‘Trinity-immanent” or simply eternal. pre-incarnate Son. This confusion received dogmatic resolu­tion only in the middle of the fifth century, with the clear affirmation at Chalcedon of the subsistence of Jesus, not the Middle Platonic Logos, in divinity and in humanity.  Its sources are probably innocent enough: a failure to recognize that the eternal Son is eternal sensu aiente: i.e., he is also the historical Jesus the Lord, “one and the same Son,” as Irenaeus would insist and the Symbol of Chalcedon would confirm  However this failure induced theological dehistoricization of the Son into a Trinity-imma­nent divinity, a Son whose immunity to historical realization would trouble theologians thereafter.

The Christian drive to clarify and resolve the tension between the pagan cosmology native to fallen reason and the liturgical mediation of faith in the Lord Jesus’ revelation of the Father and of the Spirit, is simply the devel­op­ment of doctrine, a development at one with the history of salvation, which is the history of the Church.  The objectivity of this history is identically the objectivity of the Church’s faith in Jesus, the Lord, and of her Eucharistic cele­bra­tion of his One Sacrifice.  Before examining the contribution of the Apologists, it is appropriate to have before us a caveat by J. N. D. Kelly:

There are two points in the Apologists’ teaching which, because of their far-reaching importance, must be heavily underlined, viz., (a) that for all of them the description ‘God the Father’ connoted, not the first Person of the Holy Trinity, but the one Godhead considered as author of whatever existsl ad (b) that they all, Athenagoras included, dated the generation of the Logos, and so his eligibility for the title ‘Son,’ not from His origination within the being of the Godhead, but from his emission or putting forth for the purposes of creation, revelation, and redemption.  Unless these points are firmly grasped, and their significance appreciated, a completely distorted view of the Apolo­gists’ theology is liable to result.  Two stock criticisms of it, for example, are that they failed to distinguish the Logos from the Father until he was required for the work of creation, and that, as a corollary, they were guilty of subordin­a­ting the Son to the Father.  These objections have a superficial validity in the light of post-Nicene orthodoxy, with its doctrine of the Son’s eternal genera­tion and its fully worked-out conception of hypostases or Persons, but they make no sense in the thought-atmosphere in which the Apolotists moved.  It is true that  they lacked a technical vocabulary adequate for describing eternal distinctions within the Deity; but that they apprehended such distinctions there is no doubt…..their object was not so much to subordinate him as to safeguard the monotheism which they considered indispensable.

Kelly, Doctrines, 100-101..

Sed contra, Athenagoras discerned a permanent order: “taxis” (τξις) in the doxological naming of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Theophilus referred to the one God as τρíας, τρíαδος (trias, triados).  In sum, the theology of the Apologists was rooted in and nourished by the liturgy, which never identified the Father with the one God.  The alternative to this reliance upon the authority of the Eucharistic liturgy is that dehistoricization of mono­theism into the abstract monas upon which Kelly here relies.

i. Justin Martyr

Justin Martyr was born about 100 AD in the city of Flavia Neapolis, now Nablus, in Samaria, and was martyred in Rome about sixty-seven years later.  He evidently came of a prosperous pagan family: he was well educat­ed, and became particularly interested in what was then understood to be phil­­o­so­­phy, i.e., a learned quest for the meaning of life.  This led him to study at schools in Athens and Ephesus, where he obtained a basic familiari­ty with the Greek philosophical traditions―Pythagorean, Platonic, Aristotel­ian, Stoic.  While studying at Ephesus, he witnessed the martyrdoms of several Christians, and was more impressed by their faith-inspired courage than by his own philosophical wisdom.

More is known of Justin Martyr than of any other early Christian writer.[89] Much of this knowledge is derived from his own writings, of which survive only the two Apologies, and the Dialogue with Trypho.  In the First Apology he introduces himself as “Justin, the son of Priscus and grandson of Bacchius, natives of Flavia Neapolis, a city in Samaria.” In his Dialogue with Trypho he again refers to himself as a native of Samaria.[90]  The first Church historian, Eusebius of Caesarea, who admired him greatly, provided further information in his Ecclesiastical History,[91] and finally there is preserved a reliable account of his martyrdom; he was executed for his faith in Rome ca. 167 A.D.[92]

Justin is the first Christian writer to introduce philosophy into his exposition of the Christian faith.  His philosophical training was eclectic: in essence it amounted to an assimilation of the current Middle Platonism, an admixture of Platonism, Stoicism, and Aristotelianism, with traces of other traditions, notably the Epicurian and the Pythagorean.[93]  He believed that Plato, whom he considered the greatest of the Greeks, had learned what he knew of God from Moses, but that what he knew was insufficient.  He tells us that he learned this at Ephesus, while on a solitary walk by the sea, wearing by right the distinctive garb of a philosopher.  There he was greeted by and conversed with an elderly, venerable man who convinced him of the far greater wisdom of Christianity.  Thus persuaded, he became a convert, and established a Christian school in that city. 

During the reign of Antoninus Pius, about 140, he moved from Ephesus to Rome, and established a Christian school there as well, teaching that the Greek philosophical traditions were not so much wrong as incomplete; he held them to be of use only as a propaedeutic, to lead us to Christ, the his­tor­i­­cal Personification of Wisdom, the Logos, whose transcendent truth per­vades and renders the universe intelligible from within.   Justin’s account of his conversion from the study of pagan philosophy to Christianity forms a minor apologia pro vita sua, prefacing his lengthy Dialogue with Trypho.

Of the philosophical traditions he had studied, Justin was impressed most of all by Platonism, until he became convinced that even Platonism cannot provide access to God.  Nonetheless he continued to use philosophical imag­ery, particularly in the Apologies, but also in the Dialogue with Trypho.  He took for granted an allegorical exegesis of the Old Testament.  Such an exegesis of course has a Christian warrant: in the famous passage from Gal­a­­tians (4:22-31),[94] Paul interprets the Genesis account of the two wives of Abraham, slave and free, as allegories of the relation of the Old Cove­nant to the New.  Justin owes his familiarity with and free use of alle­gory to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, not to Philo Judaeus’ use of allegory to develop a dehistoricizing exegesis of the Jewish Scriptures in the first century, but to the much earlier rabbinical exegesis of the Old Testament.[95]

Allegory is inherent in the historical worship of God, in Judaism as in Christianity.  The divine Lordship of history, whether taught in Deuteron­o­my or the Apocalypse, constitutes a mystery which must be meditated upon by those who affirm its truth, but which cannot be rationalized, for the Mys­ter­ium fidei is identically the historical revelation, Jesus the Lord, the Personal Mysterium fidei.  A “literal,” i.e., analytical reading of the scriptur­al media­tion of that revelation can only deny it its historicity, its objective truth. The inability of the human mind, of fallen analytical rationality, to accept the imma­n­ence of the divine in history is perhaps most clearly dis­played by the late monist reductions by Hindu and Buddhist monastic traditions of the quest for the divine to logically necessary flights from his­tory.  However, the liturgical rituals of popular Hinduism and Buddhism cannot but intimate a degree of divine immanence in history.

Plato’s intellectalist distaste for the allegorism inherent in the poetic mediation of the Greek mythology is of the same order.  It reflects his con­vic­­tion of the irrationality of all assertion of the immanence of the divine in history.  For paganism generally, whether expressed in myth or in philoso­phy, the divine transcendence of the historical order can only be by absence from it [96]

However, Plato’s criticism of the allegorism of the poetry of Homer and Hesiod as irrational, as resting on neither learning nor reason, as productive of mere opinion as opposed to clear understanding, must be balanced with his own reliance upon a mythical anamnesis, as in The Republic: it is only with Plotinus that Plato’s insight into the universal fallenness of the histori­cal order is rationalized, reduced to the immanent bi-polar structure of reali­ty.  Under Plotinus’ rigorous logic Plato’s subscription to an irrational cos­mic fatality becomes a rational necessity immanent in finitude as such.  The pagan myths were theogonic and cosmogonic, concerned with the ultimate ques­tions raised by the human encounter with a baffling world: they are very clearly expressions of a quaerens intellectum, resting on an appar­ent­ly ine­ra­di­cable conviction, lived rather than reasoned, that at its most profound level, reality is benevolent.[97]

The Greek philosophical tradition was of course pagan, but it was also religious, and in that sense historical, even theological, concerned with a human knowledge of the divine, as Werner Jaeger has emphasized.[98]  The rationalized and dehistoricized concept of the divine as a timeless and unlim­ited Absolute Mind or Self, a Monas incapable of relation to the finite, and therefore incapable of finite mediation, and therefore a Deus otiosus, a “lazy God,” was common to the learned Greek religious tradition as it had been to the Vedic culture which produced the Upanishads, whose ambiguity over the divine immanence is manifest.

The Greek tradition also knew a more familiar divinity, the remote yet omnipresent Greek god of the sky, Dios or Zeus, whose transcendence was mitigated by being the Zeus-pater, Ju-piter, the senior divinity of the all-too-human Greek and Roman pantheon.  The Greek philosophical tradition sought to purify the divinity, as mediated by Homer and Hesiod, of the scan­dal­ous accretions of the poetic tradition by their reduction to allegories of divinity.  Thus, under philosophical scrutiny, the divine Monas recovered his tran­scendence, his dignity, even his remoteness, but so as to remain capable of finite mediation: this is particularly worked out in Stoicism and the later schools of Platonism, wherein the Logos, the Word, is either an utterance of or an emanation from the Monas into the world as at once the world-soul by which the universe is made intelligible, and the principle by which the world is related to the Monas.

Christianized to the extent possible, the Logos of Greek philosophy became the immanent Word of the One God, the Father.  Under this abstract aegis the Logos entered Jewish theology by way of the Philo Judaeus, who used the allegorical method already familiar to the Greek interpretation of the poets to apply this Logos-mediation of Jahweh to an exegesis of the Jewish biblical tradition which radically dehistoricized it.  Philo profoundly influ­enced the later Alexandrine theology and thus Greek theology through­out most of the fourth century.  By Justin’s time some familiarity with Philo’s use of the Logos as the mediator of the One God of Judaism had become familiar to Jews and Christians alike.  For Justin, both the Greek and the Jewish uses of “Logos” were of value only as put to Christian use.  While the Logos concept played no important part in Justin’s apologetics, his adaption of it was of permanent significance, for after him the Apologists adapted it to their exposition of the Trinity.

Summarily, influenced by the rabbinical meditation on the divine dabar, the historical manifestation of the transcendent truth of the Lord, Justin simply identifies the Logos with Jesus the Lord: he understands the term historically, as the Gospel of John does in the Prologue, as a title of Jesus.  In a few places however, he refers to the pre-existence of the Logos as the immanent impersonal Reason of the Father, as not yet “begotten,” a Logos whose pre-existence is therefore ab aeterno, thus not that of the primordial Jesus, but of what later theology will regard as the “immanent Son” or “immanent Logos” whose eternal and non-human pre-existence requires that his “Incarnation” be his “becoming human.”

This “immanent Logos” plays no role in Justin’s Christology: he speaks of the Incarnation of the Logos simply as Mary’s conception of Jesus, the Logos, and this in the context set by Lk. 1:35.[99]  In this he affirms the most ancient Christian tradition, the communication of divine and human idioms in the one Jesus, the Son of Mary, the Lord.

For Justin, it is the begetting of the Logos that makes him to be the Son, numerically distinct from the Father the Son, and establishes the relation of the Son to the Father as the Father’s mediator.  As begotten, the Logos, the Son, is the Father’s Spirit, Mind, and Power, as effective in creation.  That he understands the Father as the plenary divine Substance, the one God, reflects the influence of the monist concept of the divine unity upon his theology, which, taken at the letter, would place the Son in a subordina­tion­ist posture, quite inconsistent with Justin’s faith in the Lordship of Jesus.  Thus in his work this tension remains latent: it does not impede his full acceptance of the communication of idioms in Jesus the Christ.

Nonetheless, Justin introduced the term, Logos. into Christian theology; the influence of Philo’s development of this term upon Justin’s thought is negligible, but by the mid-second century the term had become a philosophi­cal and even cultural commonplace; in Jewish and Judaeo-Christian circles, and is so in Justin’s theology as well.  His use of it reflected the Jewish speculation on the historical immanence of the Old Testament’s dabar, the Word of the Lord, and grounds his emphasis upon the historical pre-existence of the Son as, e.g., the “Angel of Jahweh.”

Justin wrote more than a century and a half before the doctrine of the Trinity was taught at Nicaea: until then, apart from the Apologists, the unity of God was generally imagined to be that of a single Self, the Father.  The Christian liturgical formula for Baptism in Mt. 28:19, with the doxological reci­ta­tion of the three Names, was integral with a credal affirmation of personal faith in the One God, but the resolution of the evident tension between the monist view of the divine monarchy and the apostolic faith in the full divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit waited upon Nicaea and I Constantinople for its resolution─a resolution which, because the product of a General Council of bishops, was litur­g­ical and magisterial rather than theological.  It is addressed to the Church, not the academy.  Justin and the other Apologists wrote in the same apostolic context.  Their understanding of the Christ was ‘subordinationist’ only in that it involved a struggle of their Trinitarian faith with subordinationist presup­po­sitions of the cosmolo­gi­cal imagination which were condemned only at Nicaea, and then by a doc­trin­al affirmation upholding the Catholic faith in the divinity of Jesus, the his­torical Logos, the historical Son of the Father, and, at the same time, affirming the substantial unity of God.  The Council of Nicaea did not argue with Arius’ cosmology: it simply condemn­ed his inferences from it, thereby denying its doctrinal standing. .

Justin remarks in the First Apology that he had already written a work, long lost, on the refutation of all heresies.[100] Irenaeus was evidently familiar with this work since he borrowed from it.[101] Thus Justin’s lost work against the heretics is the earliest theological undertaking in the Roman tradition.

The importance of Justin Martyr for the present work is Christological rather than Trinitarian: viz., we are initially concerned with refuting a not uncom­mon supposition that he was the first to use the Logos-sarx Christo­logical analysis of Jn. 1:14.  This analysis dominated Christological specula­tion in the Orient for more than half of the fourth century, from a decade before the Council of Nicaea to the First Council of Constantinople, when the Antiochene insistence upon the full, personal humanity of Jesus found an inadequate systematic expression in the Logos-anthrōpos paradigm over against the equally inadequate Alexandrine Logos-sarx analysis.  We have shown that neither paradigm can avoid distort­ing the tradition by reason of the investment of both in the dehistoricization of the Johannine Logos, with a consequent systematic rejection of the communication of idioms.  The question is therefore whether Justin accepted the full personal unity of Jesus the Lord.  Beyond doubt he did; for Justin, the divine Logos is identically Jesus the Lord, whose immanence in creation is the sole source of its intelli­gi­bility.

Justin was innocent of any dehistoricizing rationalization of the Christ: he treated “Logos” as a title of the Lord Jesus.[102]  He entered upon no specu­lative quest for the prior possibility of the Incarnation, nor he does he appear to have found this inquiry to be of theological interest.  His understanding of the pre-existence of the Son, the Lord Jesus, is historical.  He identified the “Angel of Jahweh” of the Old Testament epiphanies with Jesus, not with the eternal Logos.  Justin is concerned with the historical man, Jesus, whom he knows to be God, the eternal Son of the Eternal Father.[103]  His transcendent vision of the Logos rests upon his conviction of the pervasive pre-existence of Jesus throughout the history of the pagans as well as that of the “Old Testa­ment,” a term first used by Irenaeus.

In short, Justin’s habitual identification of Jesus with the Logos is simply that of the liturgy.  Louis Bouyer has found it to be unanimous in the New Testament, where “Logos,” for John as well as for the Synoptics and for Acts, is always a title of Jesus the Lord.[104] Justin understood Jesus the Logos to be the single source of the world’s rationality, of its intelligible unity, sought inchoatively by the philosophers whose works he had studied, expressed inadequately the Jewish Scriptures but finally and definitively in the Son’s revelation of the Father.  A question arises over the interpretation of a pregnant sentence in the Second Apology,[105] which some have read as Justin’s making the crucial error of supposing the imam­terial Stoic Logos, not Jesus, to be the subject of the Incarnation.  It would then follow that for Justin, as later for Apollinarius of Laodicea, the Logos took the place of the human soul in Jesus.  If so, he would have been a pioneer of that Word-Flesh Christology, in which the Logos is the ruling principle, the hegemoni­kon, of Jesus.  The sentence relied upon provides no basis for reading the Logos-sarx analysis into Justin’s Christology, but the allegation has been made.[106]  We have seen Robert Grant offer a representative statement of this view of Justin, which Hurtado has echoed.

Justin’s theology also deserves attention, for in regard to Christ he has taken the Logos doctrine developed in Hellenistic Judaism by Philo and combined it with a picture of prophecy fulfilled as set forth in his testimony book(s).  What holds the two together is insistence upon the incarna­tion of the Logos, even though he never cites John 1:14.[107]

The first sentence of this brief excerpt has Justin melding Philo’s dehis­toricization of the Hellenistic Judaism with a prophetic theological interest that can only be historical.  This view of Justin is mistaken: see endnote 102 supra.

Insofar as Justin adapted the Stoic-Middle Platonic notion of the Logos to the Christ, it is possible only in the most general sense to regard him as the precursor of the Logos-sarx Christology, for Justin uses “Logos” histori­cally as a title of Jesus the Christ, which the Logos-sarx Christology has stead­fastly refused to do.  In sum, Justin’s “insistence upon the incarnation of the Logos” is not that of the Logos-sarx Christology, which understands the subject of the Incarnation to be the abstract Stoic-Platonic Logos, not the historical Jesus Christ.  For Justin, the Logos is Christ the Lord.

Robert Grant on the other hand understands Justin’s Logos to be that “Logos” developed by a near-contemporary Judaism which, under the influ­ence of Philo, anticipated the determinist Neoplatonic rationalization of the Old Testament tradition.  However, there is no trace of this mentality in Justin.  He does describe the Logos as the Father’s reason, inseparable from Him, at one with him.  This is the common doctrine of the Apologists, the basis of their explanation of the Son’s divinity.  It is in this sense only that Justin can be understood to have introduced a pre-human Logos into theolo­gy, by his identification of the Logos with the mind or reason of the Father.  This understanding of the Logos as impersonally immanent in the Father ab aeterno was rejected by the Trinitarian doctrine of the later Greek Apologists, Theophilus of Antioch and Athenagoras of Athens.  In fact, the cosmological need to arrange for the prior possibility of the Incarnation of the pre-human Logos did not trouble Theophilus or Athenagoras, while Justin, warned by Isaiah, never attempted to explain the Son’s “begetting,” which he so identified with the Son’s Incarnation as to ignore entirely the ques­tion of the antecedent possibility of the Incarnation of a pre-human Logos.  His mention of the Logos as existing impersonally as the Father’s reason prior to his “begetting,” prior to his Incarnation as the Son, thus as eternally but not Personally preexisting, was a departure from the apostolic tradition, but Justin ignored that subordinationist implication.  He well knew that the suffering of the Lord Jesus was incongruous, but only as Tertullian saw it in the De Carne Christi, i.e., as the impossible actuality of the Cross, the Kenōsis, taught by in Phil. 2:6-7 and by John in Jn. 1:14 and I Jn. 4:2.

Justin supposed the Father to have uttered forth, i.e., Named, the Jesus the Son as distinct from Himself in view of creation, over which he granted the Jesus a transcendent dominion.  The “uttering forth” of the Son at crea­tion would be described by Theophilus in terms of the Stoic distinction between the immanent Logos endiathetos, the uttered Logos prophorikos, and the consequent “Logos spermatikos” intelligibility of the world, but Theophilus’ identification of the One God as a τρíας, τρíαδος,  a Trinity, was a precise rejection of the Stoic emana­tionism, which Athenagoras’ τξις doctrine also rejected.  In any case, there is no reason to seek the ground of Justin’s use of “Logos” beyond the Old Testament use of “dabar,” the “Word” of the Lord, whom Judaism understood to be Lord’s truth concretely effective in history and in the Law[108].  It is this understanding of Logos as, inter alia, the prophetic Word inspiring the prophets, that caused a degree of confusion between the work of the Son and of the Holy Spirit among the Apologists, as it had earlier with Hermas, although the Church’s litur­gical tradition had made their distinction and their unchangeable order (taxis) explicit in her sacramental worship, as Athenagoras taught.

Justin did not die for a disembodied Logos-principle: he died professing the faith of the Church that Jesus the Logos is Lord, and this in the face of all that the Roman Empire’s well-practiced executioners could threaten.  He was immediately recognized to be par excellence a witness to the truth of the faith that Jesus is the Lord: it is thus that he was surnamed “Martyr.”

The chief historical importance of Justin Martyr is his provision, parti­cu­larly in the Apologies, of a unique view of the mid-second-century Church; he is the first to combine an exhortation to believe with a philo­sophically-oriented explanation (apologia) of the Church’s faith in the Lordship, the divinity, of Jesus.  In so doing, he was also the first to under­take the ecu­men­i­cal task of replying to pagans who had been misled by their culture and their philosophies to the point of slandering and persecuting Christians as such.  In the Dialogue with Trypho, he addressed his apology also to the Jews whose denial of Jesus’ Lordship rests upon its incompatibility with their understanding of monotheism.  The Dialogue with Trypho rests its case upon the historicity of the Jewish monotheism whose biblical witness he shows to be reconciliable only with the free revelation in Christ of the unity of the Trinity.  Justin regarded any other concept of monotheism as entirely inconistent with the biblical witness.

Here there is little recourse to philosophy: Justin argues from the Sep­tu­a­gint version of the Old Testament, and from the ‘memorabilia’ of the Apos­tles.  He never quotes the Pauline Epistles, although their doctrine underlies much of his reasoning.  Robert Grant has suggested that Marcion’s contem­por­­aneous misuse of the Pauline Epistles may account for Justin’s avoidance of them.

Justin addressed his First Apology nominally to the Roman emperor, Antoninus Pius, and the Second Apology, equally nominally, to the Rom­an senate, but effectively both were addressed to the circumambient pagan world.  His exhortation manifests a curiously contemporary mentality: Justin’s vision of the efficacious historical transcendence of the Logos, of the truth of Christ, is not far from that of John Paul II in Fides et Ratio.  The patristic tradition will encapsulate his subordination of pagan philoso­phy to the truth of Christ by likening it to the “plundering of the Egyptians” recited in Exodus.

It is clear that Justin held to the faith of the primitive Church in the communication of idioms, i.e., in the unity of divinity and humanity in the Lord Jesus: thus Justin’s continuous identification of Jesus as the Logos can only be Personal.  For Justin, as for the Gospels and the New Testament generally, “Logos” is a Christological title.

ii. Athenagoras: The Plea for Christians

Theological speculation had its beginning in middle of the second century with Justin’s attempt to understand the cosmological Father of the cosmos as the Archē of the Son: i.e., as the Father of the Son rather than of the cosmos, an attempt which would be echoed by Tertullian and Hippol­ytus.  This inquiry is inherent in the apostolic tradition, in the faith that Jesus Christ is Lord, but it finds no development in the Apostolic Fathers whose proc­lamation of the faith did not rise to the level of an apologia, an explana­tion directed to the conversion of a pagan audience.  Apologetics began with Justin, whose apologia is inseparable from the fides quaerens intellectum that is theology.  This Christian quaerens drives not only Justin’s polemic in the Dialogue with Trypho, but also his First and Second Apology, as well as the lost Adversus Haereses which Irenaeus would adapt and develop.

This is true of Athenagoras,[109] a mid-second century convert to Christi­anity, probably an Athenian, an author of apologetic works of which all that remain are an Apology (Πρεσβεία) or Legatio, or Embassy, or Plea (Presbeia), i.e., an Apology for the Christians, written ca.177-78, and a Treatise on the Resurrection written a few years later. The Plea was addressed to Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his son, Commodus, some twenty years after Justin Martyr, at about 155 a.d., had directed his First Apology to Anto­nin­us Pius and his adopted sons, one of whom was Marcus Aurelius.[110] 

Athenagoras’ Plea anticipates Tertullian’s Apologeticus by twenty years.  His Treatise on the Resurrection, the first reasoned exposition and defense of the doctrine of the Resurrection as at once an appropriate work of God and as befitting the human body, may be regarded as an exten­sion of the defense of Christian doctrine and morals presented in the Plea. His attempt in the latter document to explain the faith of the Church to Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus, his son, was Trinitarian rather than Christological.  He  relied upon the liturgical preaching of the apostolic tradition by the bishops and therefore, for apologetic reasons, i.e., in consi­der­ation of what a pagan intellectual could accept as rational, he made a single passing reference to the Incarnation (21.4), and then dropped the subject.

The inspiration, the fides quaerens intellectum driving the Plea, could only have been liturgical.  The liturgy had fed Justin's theology, faute de mieux, for he also had no other reliance; in fact, no other mediation of the apos­tolic faith existed in the first half of the second century.  Justin was so intent upon the central task of accounting for the plenary authority over all creation of Jesus the Son of God and Lord of creation as never to have mentioned the Holy Spirit in his Apologies, although he does so often in the Dialogue with Trypho, where he takes for granted the economic role of the Holy Spirit without any concern for its theological explanation in what would have been another Apology.. This makes it difficult to attribute to him not so much a Trinitarian faith as a Trinitarian theology, for he was certainly familiar with the Trinitarian formula recited in Mt. 28:19-20, which informed the credal responses to questions put to candidates for baptism from an early period. 

Justin's theological concentration upon the relation of Jesus the Lord to the Father recurred in the latter half of the fourth century in response to the semi-Arian, i.e., homoiousian, denial of the Holy Spirit's divinity.  Athanasi­us defended the consubstantial divinity of the Holy Spirit in his First Letter to Serapion, the bishop of Thmuis, a small diocese in the Egyptian Delta.  The divinity of the Holy Spirit was first taught by Lucifer of Cagliari (see endnote 423, infra.). Thmuis was troubled by Miletian schis­matics who on homoiousian, i.e., subordinationist grounds rejected the divinity of the Holy Spirit.  The homoiousians upheld the Son's divinity as similar in substance (homoios kat' ousian--(μοιος κατ’οσαν) to the Father, whom they identified with the divine substance.  They understood this substantial similarity of the Son to the Father, which they held to warrant the Son’s divinity, to be unique to the Son,.  When, in 358, Basil of Ancyra developed the homoiousian riposte to the Arian “Blasphemy of Sirmium,” Oriental theology was focused upon the Arian challenge to the divinity of Jesus, the Son; little attention was given to the relation of the Holy Spirit to the Father and to the Son.  There was ample liturgical warrant of the divinity of the Holy Spirit, for the sacrament of Baptism invoked his Name, and the insertion of Holy Spirit’s Name into the Nicene Creed in 325 put the matter beyond question apart from the anti-Nicene homoiousian subordinationism which held the homoios kat' ousian to be unique to the Son in such wise that it could have no application to the Holy Spirit.  The homoiousian ruling out of any similarity in the Holy Spirit to the divine substance reduced the Holy Spirit to a creaturely standing, quite as had Arianism.  Further, the homoio­usian subordination of the Son to the Father implicitly denied the Son’s divinity as well.  This reduced homoiousianism to heteroousianism, as Athanasius would point out in the De synodis.  His logic was impeccable, but the homoiousians condemned Arianism despite the lack of any homoio­usian foundation for that condemnation.  The Macedonians or "Spirit-fighers” among the homoiousian party would eventually exploit this weakness to deny the divinity of the Holy Spirit on grounds indistinguish­able from Arianism.

Justin's provision for the divinity of the Son had invoked a primitive version of the Son's mission from the Father whereby the Son, Jesus the Lord, held unconditioned authority over and responsibility for a creation which the absolute Father, as immovable, could not recognize, although he had willed it into existence by 'Naming' the Son.  Justin simply ignored the incongruities of this account.  For him, it sufficed to explain the one thing necessary, that Jesus be revealed as the Lord of all creation.

Athenagoras also intended an apologia for the Christian faith, but one centered on the Trinity.  Since he never uses τρíας or τρíαδος,, it is likely that he wrote before Theophilus, who was the first to use those terms, but Theophilus’ works are difficult to date.  Athenagoras' Plea, on the other hand, has been dated with precision to a brief period of peace between 177 and 178 while Marcus Aureleus and Commodus shared the imperial throne.  As had Justin, Athanagoras addressed his defense of Christianity, the Plea for Christians to the royal throne. Unlike Justin, who seems to have made no mention of the Holy Spirit, Athenagoras' foundational theological insight was Trinitarian.  His complete reliance upon the doctrine of the Trinity is revealed when, defending himself against the charge of atheism commonly directed by the pagan Roman society against Christians, he had to explain to the imperial addressees of his Plea, Marcus Aurelius and his son Commodus, the belief of Christians in a Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit,  Having  done this, he asks:

Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, are called atheists. (δεικντας  ατν κα τν ν τ νσει δναμιν κα τν ν τ τχει διαρεσιν, κοσας θέους  καλομένους?).

Athenagoras. Legatio and De Resurrectione.  Edited and translated by William R. Schoedel (Oxford, the  Clarendon Press, 1972),  Plea 10, 5; emphasis added.

Athenagoras' defense of Christianity leaves unremarked the New Testa­ment’s numerous ascriptions of primordiality to Jesus the Son; they did not fall under his purview, that of offering to the joint emperors a measured philosophical explanation and defense of the rationality of Christianity.  He could rely upon their recognition, albeit Stoic, of the authority of rationality, but he could not expect them to endorse Christianity on that or any other basis: Trajan's rescript to Pliny the Younger clearly forbade it.  Nonetheless Athenagoras did in fact seek their endorsement, if only indirectly.  The concluding chapter of the Plea  makes this evident:

37. Let our teaching concerning the resurrection be set aside for the present; but do you, who by name and nature are in every way good, moderate, human, and worthy of your royal office, nod your royal heads in assent now that I have destroyed the accusations advanced and have shown that we are godly, mild, and chastened in soul. 2. Who ought more justly to receive what they request than men like ourselves, who pray for your reign that the succession of the kingdom may proceed from father to son, as is most just, and that your reign may grow and increase as all men become subject to you. 3. This is also to our advantage that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life and at the same time may willingly do all that is commanded.

The nodding of the royal heads in assent to his Plea, which Athenagoras sought as a matter of justice, would in fact have been their conversion to a notion of justice unknown to the Roman law.  It was in fact unthinkable, for it supposed a moral freedom without analogue in the Greek philosophical tradition from Parmenides to the Stoics.  Yet it is possible, even probable, that Athenagoras had earned the emperors' respect.  Although his public defense of Christianity was treasonable, worthy of death, he was not pursued, although Trajan's rescript required it.  Marcus Aurelius and Com­mo­dus, sparing him this, could concede no more.[111]

William R. Schoedel (Plea), Gustave Bardy (Supplique), and Bermard Pouderon (also Supplique), have observed that Athenagoras' theological explan­ations often falter; Bardy has particularly remarked this of those anal­y­ses bearing upon divine providence as at once universal and concretely historical.  This is hardly surprising, for that consideration introduces the mystery of the relation of our moral freedom to the divine omniscience and omnipotence; its theological exposition would wait upon Augustine.  Bardy believes that these speculative incoherencies have a single remedy, their refer­­ence to his Supplique 10.5 (pp. 60-61) where the tangled logic of Athenagoras' theological discourse finds its sole clarification in the parallel­ism he has set out between the power of the divine unity and the unchanging order of the divine Names which constitute that free unity. .

Schoedel, Bardy, Pouderon and Marcovich alike recognize the centrality of Athanagoras’ Trinitarian doctrine to his theology.  When his theology falters, it is to his liturgically underwritten and liturgically inspired assertion of the intrinsic νωσις and τξις of the One God that one must return, for his faith does not falter. Its complete expression, at once succinct and radical, is the text of Plea 10, 5, set out above, repeated here: 

Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, are called atheists?

Athenagorus is the first of the Apologists to recognize that within the unqualified unity of God there is an inherent order of Names, a τξις, which never changes, that of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This insight clearly presupposes the Trinity, as a matter too obvious to require discrete affir­ma­­tion, but goes well beyond its confession to enter into the mystery, by noting that the liturgy insists on the priority of the Father to the Son, and the Son to the Holy Spirit.  Trinitarian theology begins with this foundational truth of the faith, and rests upon it still, for the heart of the apostolic tradition is the Church's Eucharistic liturgy, set out by Paul in I Cor. 11:23-26, whose celebration depends upon the apostolic succession.  Schoedel's “Introduc­tion,” xxxiii-iv, presents an outline of Athenagoras' argument in the Legatio; Bardy, “Introduction,” 44-61, presents a condensation of theology underlying it, and Prouderon, op. cit, 63-68, has provided a "Structure de la Supplique'" All  of them are levied upon here.

Joseph Lienhard of the theology faculty of Fordham University has pointed out to me that Schoedel’s “Introduction” (xxi-xxii) notes Athenagor­as’ departure from the Middle Platonic tradition of his time in professing a doctrine of creation which contrasts the created to the uncreated as non-being is contrasted to Being.  His identification of Being with God, as opposed to the Ideas of Middle Platonism, permits the metaphysical refine­ment of the relation of God to the material world.  This relation is the parti­cular subject of the De Resurrectione, whose attribution to Athagoras is contested.  Although defended by so eminent an authority as Bernard Pouderon, Robert.Grant rejects it, while William Schoedel and Miroslav Marcovich doubt it.[112]  However, the headnote of Schoedel's edition and translation of the De Resurrectione attributes it to the “same author” as the Plea.


The development of Western Christology rests firmly upon two bases: Irenaeus and Tertullian; Hippolytus, writing in Greek, had no lasting influ­ence in the West.  Irenaeus and Tertullian affirmed the personal unity of Jesus as at once fully divine and fully human; each refused a mixing of his divinity and humanity in that unity, and refusing as well their dissociation.[113]  

Their ground for the affirmation of the unity of Jesus, as for the refusal of all that would threaten that unity, is of course the apostolic tradition which, by the end of the second century, was taking the form of the New Tes­ta­ment, itself inseparable from its liturgical hermeneutic, the preaching of the Church by the episcopal successors of the Apostles, conscious of their responsibility for preaching and defending the truth of the Church’s worship of her Lord.

By latter half of the second century, Gnostic movements had become a major threat to the infant Church, as is evident from Justin’s early polemic against them: Irenaeus’ monumental Adversus Haereses relied on Justin’s lost work of the same title in his treatment of the early Gnostics.  This work and Tertullian’s Contra Marcionem are our major sources of information on the Gnostic perversions of apostolic tradition, which, as J. N. D. Kelly observes, “came within an ace of triumphing over the primitive Church.”[114]  He adds that the extraordinary pastoral vigilance of the bishops was a major factor in the defeat of Gnosticism.  We find an exemplary instance of this vigilance in Irenaeus, whose theology is a synthesis of vigorous, well-informed polemic directed against the Gnostic appeal to a higher “wisdom” (Gnōsis) Γνσις) than that of the apostolic tradition, joined to an exposition of that tradition, as in the Presentation of the Apostolic Preaching

Irenaeus stands at the transitional point between Theophilus and Athenagoras, who used the Greek philosophical tradition rationally to confront the challenge of the Hellenistic culture to Christianity, and the application of that rational analysis to defeat the Gnosticism then threatening the Church. 

Justin Martyr, who founded a Christian school at Rome in the mid-second century, and was martyred in 167 by reason of its success, was the first of the Apologists to recognize and respond to the Gnostic challenge to the historicity of Jesus the Christ.  He met the Gnostic, rationalization of the divine Monarchy by insisting upon the concrete personal distinction of Jesus from the Father from whom he proceeds as Named, as given dominion over the whole creation by the Absolute Father who, as absolute, is impersonal, and thus incapable of a personal relation to creation, willed the creation of the universe and to this end generated and Named the Son, Jesus, to be its overlord, in a moment remotely corresponding to the Church’s doctrine of the Father’s Mission of Christ our Lord, in whom the universe is created.

Justin does not mention the Holy Spirit and developed no Trinitarian doctrine, but his foundational insight into the Father-Son distinction was developed by Athenagoras, Theophilus, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Tertullian before the end of the second century; Origen’s speculative genius furnished its comprehensive theological synthesis within the first third of the following century.

Tertullian’s Apologeticus, Hippolytus’ Refutatio Omnium Haere­sim, and Origen’ Peri Archon explicitly reject the implicit subordination of the Son to the impersonal Father whom Justin had identified as absolute, although Justin’s nascent theologizing had so focused upon the plenary authority over all creation given the Son by his Father’s Naming as to have simply ignored its subordinationist implication−which implication is effect­tively annulled by the quasi-absolute (i.e., immobile) Father’s Naming of the Son.  Justin’s interest was in the total authority of the Son over all creation,  At the same time, Tertullian’s insight into the divine Unity as the “Trinitas” of Father, Son and Holy Spirit dropped all subordination in the Trinity.  His development of the Greek Apologists’ postulate of a divine Τρíας,  (Trias), despite their use of terms taken from Greek philosophy, particularly Stoicism.

iii. Irenaeus

Irenaeus was a native of Asia Minor, probably of Smyrna, where he was privileged in his youth to have known and heard its bishop, St. Polycarp, evidently as his disciple.  Polycarp, soon to be martyred, had himself been a disciple of the Apostle John.[115]  Other than that, we know nothing of Irenaeus’ early life.  At some indeterminate date in his maturity he came to Rome and apparently spent some years there.  Only thereafter, in 177, when he had settled in what is now Lyons in southern France, do we have a definite date: he is listed among the priests of Lyons in that year.  In the same year, a time in which the persecution of Christians, renewed under Marcus Aurelius, was particularly relentless in the area of Lyons, the clergy of Lyons sent Irenaeus on a mission to Pope Eleutherius in Rome.  During Irenaeus’ absence from Lyons, Pothinus, the aged bishop of that city, suffered martyrdom.  Upon Irenaeus’ return to Lyons, he succeeded Pothin­us as bishop, and remained in that office until his death around the year 200, perhaps as late as 202. 

Shortly after Irenaeus had become a bishop, whether of Vienne or Lyons or both, succeeding the martyred Pothinus, Marcus Aurelius died (180) and the persecution he had initiated ceased.  There followed a period of relative peace, broken by the sack of Lyons by the troops of a victorious Emperor Septimius Severus who, on February 19th, 197, defeated his rival, Decimus Clodius Albinus, in the battle of “Lugdunum” (later, Lyons).and permitted his troops to celebrate their victory by sacking that nearby city.  Because Irenaeus’ death is datable only as between the last years of the second century or the opening years of the third, it is possible that Irenaeus died in 197 during the sack of his city by the troops of Septimius Severus after his victory over Albinus in February of that year, which might also account for his reputed martyrdom.  This is of course no more than a reasonably well-founded surmise.

In any event, the death of Marcus Aurelius(180) was followed a period of relative peace which permitted Irenaeus to take up his teaching office, writing the Adversus Haereses in five volumes, and later, his Demonstration of the Apostolic Tradition, which Pope Benedeict  XVI has described as the “oldest catechism of Christian doctrine,” The Adversus Haereses remains a primary source of information on the Gnostic heresies, particularly the Valentinian, which then and for much of the third century posed a deadly threat to the historical faith of the Church.

Irenaeus’ Christology is of the first importance; the precision of his summation of the Personal unity of Jesus the Christ as “one and the same” Son of the eternal Father and of the Virgin Mary has never been surpassed.  Two and a half centuries after his death, that radical insight into the Personal unity of Jesus the Christ became the leitmotiv of the Chalcedonian Symbol; it is the foundation and the source of all subsequent dogmatic formulations of the Church’s faith that Jesus is the Lord.

Against the Gnostics, Irenaeus insisted on the unity of God, of Christ the God-Man, and of creation, particularly of man as inherently corporeal, as made from earth (Gen. 2:7).  His insistence that the historical Jesus, the second Adam, is “one and the same,” at once the Son of the Father and the Son of Mary, is said with a soteriological emphasis: what is not assumed is not healed (quod non assumptus, non sanatus). Therefore Jesus must be fully human.  Thus he understands theophanies of the Old Testament as theo­phan­­ies of Jesus the Lord, as Justin had,

The three decades of Irenaeus’ episcopacy at Lyons span the period in which the second century’s defensive apologia of the faith became a theologia founded not in philosophical wisdom, but in the truth of the faith that Jesus Christ is Lord.  This confidence in the truth of the faith forced the de-Hellen­ization of the Catholic mind, requiring its departure from a naïve subscription to the immanent necessities of the Middle-Platonic version of cos­mo­logical rationality, in order to uphold the truth of the faith, which knows no immanent necessities, but only the freedom of the Revelation of the mystery of Christ.

The personal conversion from cosmology to history is never complete.  Our intellectual spontaneities remain cosmo­logi­cal, locked into the fragmen­tation of the intellect inherent in our fallen flesh.  It is too much to say that the conversion from cosmology begins with Irenaeus, for Justin had urged the same conversion, composing an Adversus Haereses, now lost, which certain­ly anticipated and undoubtedly contributed to the five volumes Irenaeus wrote under that title.  It was Irenaeus who first published a refuta­tion of dehistoricizing of the faith by the Gnostic dualism with the full resources of the New Testament to aid him.[116]  On this he spent his time and energy until 189.  The Adversus Haereses in five volumes remains a primary source of information on the Gnosticism, particularly Valentinian, which then and for much of the third century threated the historical faith of the Church.  Thereafter, he published his brief Demonstration of the Apostolic Tradition, which Pope Benedict XVI has described as the “oldest catechism of Christian doctrine,” and spent the rest of his life writing and publishing

Irenaeus’ permanent contribution to Christology is his development of the Pauline doctrine of the Christ as the Second Adam, (Rom. 5:12-21; I Cor. 15:21, 46; Eph. 5:21-33) whose recapitulation of all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10: anakephalaiososthai ta panta en to Christo) restores what was lost to all mankind by our solidarity with the first Adam’s sin.  Our com­par­a­bly mystical solidarity with the second Adam’s recapitulation of all things in himself restores us to that freedom which was lost in the first Adam.

Irenaeus is dependent upon the parallel Paul places between the two Adams to the point that he regards “recapitulation of all things in Christ” as the summary statement of the work of our  redemption.  Only a development of the meaning which Paul gave to headship could render theologically intelligible our parallel solidarities, at once in the sin of the first Adam and in the Sacrifice of the second Adam.  Daniélou has established Irenaeus’ awareness, as well as that of Clement of Alexandria, of the nexus between I Cor. 11:3, Eph. 1:10, and Eph. 5; see endnote 117, supra.  The interrelation of these texts, and their ultimate dependence upon the authority of I Cor. 11:3,  underlies Irenaeus’ heavy reliance on the doctrine of fall and redemp­tion set out by Paul in Rom. 5-8.

The Church’s tradition was for Irenaeus, as later it would be for Augustine, an utterly reliable mediation of the truth of Christ and thus the firm foundation of theology:  He could not but see his theological task as defensive.  The Gnostic preaching was then a direct and deadly threat to the apostolic faith in the Peresonal unity and thus the human historicity of Jesus Christ the Lord, and therefore to the truth of the Church’s faith in the revelation given in the Christ.  Irenaeus’ theology is an extended reply to that threat.  Its unity is simply the coherent unity of the faith: the analogia fidei, the apostolic tradition that is the historical foundation, the concrete a priori which grounds theology as such.  Thus grounded in the “true gnosis,” Irenaeus attacked the false gnosis of the Gnostics, stressing the Pauline themes of the two Adams, and of the recapitulation of all things in Christ, the “second Adam.”

J. N. D. Kelly has observed that Irenaeus sums up the primitive theology of the second century Apologists[117] and that, while he is influenced by the Apologists, his Christology is that of the apostolic tradition, particu­larly of St. John and of St. Paul.  Kelly’s insinuation (Doctrines, 101-02) that the Apologists were at odds with the apostolic tradition is quite unwarranted; e.g., Theophilus’ use of Stoic terminology was in service of his doctrine of the divine Trias (τρíς, τρíδος) which is an evident rejection without remainder of the pantheist dualism of Stoicism.  Athen­agoras’ recognition of the liturgical order of the divine names as a τξις is a further insight into Trinitarian unity of God as manifest the intrinsic unchanging order, repeated throughout the Church’s liturgy, which founds all doctrine.  Athenagoras and Theophilus both upheld the apostolic tradition of the Father’s mission of the Son to give the Holy Spirit; they both upheld the divinity of the Son and the Spirit.  They provided the foundation indispens­able for the development of the doctrinal tradition in the spirit of the Commonitorium of Vincent of Lerins, whose canon of orthodox belief: “that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all” holds today as it did in the fifth century: in sum, the development of doctrine cannot be a departure from the apostolic tradition.

Irenaeus emphasizes particularly the ”logos sarx egeneto” of the Johan­nine Prologue, its parallel in the account in Phil. 2:5-7 of Jesus’ kenōsis, and the  doctrine of the headship of second Adam set out by St. Paul in I Cor. 11:3, and developed by him in Rom. 5 and 8, in I Cor. 15, which undergirds the recapitulation theme in Eph. 1:10 and Eph. 5:21-33, also in Col. 1:15-20.  Within the apostolic tradition represented by the Gospel of John and the Letters of Paul the unity of these Christological foundations is evident, for the Prologue understands “Logos” to be a title of Jesus, whose pre-existence “in the beginning;” is that of the “Alpha” who is also the “Omega,” the transcendent Beginning and the End, spelled out more completely in Col. 1:15-20.  The recitation in the Prologue of the mission of the Logos into our fallen history, i.e., his becoming “flesh,” is the precise equivalent of the Pauline account of the kenōsis of Jesus the Lord set out in the hymn adapted by Paul in Phil. 2:6-7; it agrees with the primordial transcendence of the second Adam as presented in I Cor. 11:3, in Romans 5, and in the reports by Jn. 8:58, and Mk. 14:62, of Jesus’ attribution to himself of the “ego eimi” (γ ιμ) of Exodus 3:14.

J. N. D. Kelly’s observation that Irenaeus sums up the primitive theology of the second century Apologists has been noted, but, whatever the influence upon him of the Apologists, his Christology is that of the apostolic tradition, particularly of St. John and St. Paul.  Irenaeus emphasizes particularly the “logos sarx egeneto” of the Johannine Prologue, its parallel in Phil. 2:5-11, and the doctrine of the second Adam developed by Paul in Rom. 5 and 8, in 1 Cor. 15, in Col. 1:18, and last but not least the recapitulation theme in Eph. 1:10 and Eph. 5:21-35.  However, Kelly’s summary of Irenaeus’ loyalty to the apostolic tradition, which he identifies with the faith of the Catholic Church, fails to note the grounding of Irenaeus’ recapitulation doctrine in the summary statement of the Trinitarian foundation of headship in I Cor. 11:3 as this relates to the doctrine of the fall explored in Rom. 5-8, whose use of the sarx-pneuma polarity is unintel­ligible apart from the doctrine of the Christ as the second Adam. 

The apostolic tradition represented by the Letters of Paul and the Gospel of John presupposes the unanimity of these doctrinal foundations, at once Trinitarian and Christological.  Therefore their compatibility presents no problem, for the Prologue understands “Logos” as a title of Jesus the Lord, whose pre-existence. “in the Beginning,” is that of the Alpha and the Omega, the transcendent Beginning and the End.  The Johannine Chris­tology is at one with that of the hymn in Phil. 2, and with the primordial transcendence of the second Adam as presented in I Cor. 11:3 and Rom. 5-8.  It is as inspired by this tradition that Irenaeus would teach that Jesus is “one and the same Son,” of the eternal Father and of Mary his mother, a radical affirmation of his Personal unity which the Ephesian Formula of Union will define, and which will be the leitmotif of the Council of Chalcedon.

J. N D. Kelly considers the Catholic tradition to be the “starting point” of theology;[118] however, his notion of theology is inadequate.  Cf. Vol. III, endnote 248, citing John McGuckin’s agreement with Kelly that the perman­ent task of theology is providing for the prior possibility of the Incarnation.  It is at this point that Kelly goes astray, for the Catholic Church regards the apostolic tradition as the foundation of theology, but does not understand theology to be cosmological quest for the conditions of pos­si­bil­i­ty of the truth of the Catholic faith that Jesus Christ is Lord.  That Jesus Christ is Lord is the Mysterium fidei: it has no antecedent possibility and cannot be provided with one..

Kelly can hardly be blamed for this mistake, for the normative Catholic Christology at the time of his writing was as it had long been, that of St. Thomas, a clearly cosmological quest for the conditions of possibility of the Catholic faith in the Personal unity of Jesus the Christ.  As a matter of definition, Jesus’ Personal unity is the radical Mysterium fidei, and as such it can have no conditions of possibility.  It is hardly surprising that St. Thomas, unable to find any, should finally deny that Jesus Christ the Lord is the subject of the Incarnation.  For St. Thomas and his followers, the subject of the Incarnation had ceased to be historical, and in the end could only be the eternal “immanent Trinitarian” Son.  Therefore: it is he, not the historical Jesus the Christ, who “became flesh,”  Having denied the historicity of Jesus the Lord, the “one and the same” Son whose Personal unity was affirmed eight times in the Symbol of Chalcedon, St. Thomas and his disciples could not but proceed to deny historicity to Jesus’ “flesh” as well; under that rationalist aegis his “flesh” became his abstract “human nature,” not his historical submission to our fallenness.  The Thomist Christologial project is all too familiar.  Its futility has been stressed from the outset of this work.

However, it has been argued that on occasion Irenaeus also nods.  His theology has been read by an Argentine Jesuit, Juan Ochagavia, to deny the Personal consubstantiality of Jesus the Christ with the Father.[119]  It is not too much to describe this indictment as bizarre.  J. N. D. Kelly, writing the fifth edition of his classic Early Christian Doctrines a dozen years after Ocha­ga­vía’s libel was published, ignores it.  Robert Grant’s fine study of Irenaeus, published six years later, knows nothing of it.  Both consider Irenaeus to be committed to the defense of the apostolic tradition against the most serious enemy of his time, the Valentinian Gnosticism, whose dualism was confusing and endangering the faith of many in the latter decades of the second century.

It is clear enough that Irenaeus’s immunity to cosmological confusion of Gnosticism is due to the factual apostolicity of his Christological interest, which is thereby spontaneously historical, intent on teaching the reality of Jesus Christ the Lord, the Mystery of Faith rather than accounting for it.  He takes for granted that which the Gospels and the Letters of Paul teach and which the Apologists after Justin, particularly Athenagoras and Theophilus of Antioch, had also understood.  More than three centuries later, in the first half of the fifth century Christology had become intent upon the rationalization of the unity of the Christ, and would not attain, even in its mature Antiochene and Alexandrine expressions, the faith that the Logos is Jesus the Son of Mary, who is the eternal Son of the eternal Father. 

Irenaeus’ identification of the Logos with Jesus, the “one and the same Son” of the Father and of our Lady, neatly and conclusively sums up the Apostolic tradition.  This profound insight, paralleled in Tertullian’s De Carne Christi 18, incapable of further development, survived the next two and a half centuries, to become the controlling theme of the Symbol of Chalcedon.

Only when the pre-existence of the Logos is thus conceived, as that of  the Lord Jesus, the one and the same Son, i.e., as human, as created, as unfallen, therefore as primordial, viz., ”in the beginning” rather than as eternal and nonhistorical, can Catholic theology avoid entering upon a quasi-Gnostic dehistoricization of the entirety of the Catholic tradition.  Irenaeus’ long battle with the Gnostic dehistoricization of the Lord made him immune to any dehistoricization of the Logos.  While in some passages he spoke of the Logos in a philosophical and Platonic sense, it is clear that for Irenaeus the Logos is Jesus, the second Adam, the one and the same Son of the Father from eternity, and of the Virgin in our fallen history.

Irenaeus maintained the apostolic understanding of the pre-existence of Jesus, as taught by Paul in Phil. 2:6-7 and in his vision of Jesus as the second Adam, and in the Johannine Prologue, whose ascription of a “begin­ning” to the Word can only refer to the same “beginning” which Paul identifies with Jesus in Col. 1:17: i.e., with the event of the historical Son’s historical Mission, whose terminus is the One Flesh of the second Adam and the second Eve. Thus, as we have seen, the Fathers have understood Jn. 19:34 to be the fulfillment of the prophesy of Gen. 2:24.  Kelly notes (Doctrines, 148) Irenaeus’ insistence that the Christ is the agent of his own Incarnation: this interpretation of Lk. 1:35 was universal from Justin Martyr to the first decades of the fourth century; and with Athanasius survived to its last quarter, as Ernest Evans has shown.

For Irenaeus, the ‘second Adam’ is the transcendent object of the Church’s faith and the subject of the New Testament.  Irenaeus so stresses the identity of the historical Lord Jesus, the Christ, with the primordial Second Adam, the one and the same Son, as to see in Jesus the Christ’s recapitulation of all things in himself the summary statement of his redemp­tion of the fallen creation.[120]

This solidly historical foundation freed Irenaeus’ Christology from any need to account for the Son’ Incarnation.  Kelly observes that, even more than Justin, Irenaeus understood the Incarnation to be the deed of the preexistent Logos, whom Kelly assumes to be the eternal Son, sensu negante, and thus ignores the fact that Irenaeus’ emphasis upon the second Adam understands him to be the one and the same Son, whose pre-existence is primordial, human as well as divine.  Irenaeus could not have been ignorant of the cosmological dualism infecting the Greek consciousness in his time, but his Christological focus upon the “one and the same Son” owes nothing to Hellenism.  He had no need to speculate upon the manner of the Incarnation; even in defending its historicity against the Valentinians. Irenaeus, with the Spirit Christology of the third century generally, understood the Logos of Jn. 1:14 to be identically the second Adam.  This was the doctrine of the Apostolic Fathers; it pervades the Letters of Ignatius Martyr, was taken for granted by Hermas, Barnabas, by the author of the Letter of Diognetus, by the author of II Clement, and by theologians contemporary with him, such as Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Clement of Alexandria, 

Irenaeus joins Justin in reading the Old Testament theophanies as proper to Jesus.  His concern for the role of Christ in these appearances is at one with Justin’s and may be derived from him.  It is evident that Irenaeus’ intimation of the deficient humanity of the Christ of the Old Testament theophanies is irreconcilable, not only with his primary Christological focus upon the Personal unity of Christ as the new or second Adam, but also with the Old Covenant, whose theophanies are clearly personal and historically concrete.  Therefore they are compatible only with the primordiality of Jesus’ Personal pre-existence, in which the fullness of humanity and divinity are mysteriously united without confusion in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Person who appeared to the Patriarchs and to Moses.  The subject of the Old Testament theophanies was not an abstract and nonhistorical Logos: their Christian interpretation can refer only to the Lord, the “Adonai” who is the Jesus the Christ.  For it only thus, as primordially preexisting in the fullness of divinity and of humanity, that Irenaeus can name Jesus the “one and the same Son.”[121]  The cosmological confusion by which, living in the latter decades of the second century he could not but be affected. is easily dispelled: Irenaeus is a consistent witness to the apostolic faith in the primordial pre-existence of Jesus the Lord.

In the article cited, Lucien Regnaux develops at length Irenaeus’ appre­ci­a­­tion of the inseparability of the role of the second Eve, almost indistin­guish­ably at once the Virgin and the Church, from the role of the second Adam in the recapitulation and restoration of all things in her Lord.  The attributes of motherhood, of nourishment, of mediation, are proper alike to Mary and the Church.  Irenaeus is the first to develop the Eve-Mary parallel, already remarked by Justin in what is perhaps the most luminous passage in his works.  Irenaeus understands the first Adam to have been born of the virgin earth, the second to have been born of the Virgin Mary.  He draws out the parallel between Eve’s solicitation to disobedience by the Serpent, and Mary’s free obedience to Gabriel’s announcement to her of her election freely to become the mother of the Emmanuel.  Irenaeus has been described as the founder of Mariology: he offers an anticipatory justification, invoking the communication of idioms, of the Theotokos title given Mary at Ephesus; he also intimates her freedom from sin.[122]

It was Irenaeus’ insistence upon the Personal unity of divinity and humanity in “one and the same Son, together with its Mariological implications, that was remembered over the next two and a half centuries.  The  affirmation of Jesus’ Personal Unity, seven times repeated, in the Symbol of Chalcedon, served to transcend the intervening Christological confusion generated by the otherwise universal theological dehistoricization of the Johannine Logos by Nestorians and Monophysites alike.  Irenaeus’ insistence that Jesus’ personal humanity is grounded in his Mother’s found dogmatic expression in the title of Theotokos given her at Ephesus, and that Council’s affirmation of his consubstantiality with us was repeated by the Symbol of Chalcedon, which referred eight times it to Irenaeus’ doctrine of “one and the same Son.”  Regnaux has also pointed out the likely interrelation of Mary and the Church in Irenaeus’attribution of what appears to be the same salvific, recapitulative  role, that of the second Eve, to our Lady and to the Church.

If Irenaeus is not a systematic thinker in the sense of employing a formal theological method, his work is certainly a fides quaerens intellectum; a theological synthesis of the apostolic tradition, crystallized in Scripture and the preaching of the Church.  He rarely departs from the ecclesial idiom drawn from Scripture and the apostolic tradition.  This, for him is the true gnosis, while that of his adversaries is a false gnosis, one unworthy of the name.

The range of the true gnosis is universal, embracing the entirety of the economy of salvation and thus of salvation history as such.  Irenaeus’ emphatic defense of the unity of God and of Jesus, of the unity of the Old Covenant and the New in a single salvific history whose Lord is Jesus, whose offering of the One Sacrifice, the recapitulation of all things in Christ, restores the free unity of creation lost by original sin, reaffirms the apostolic foundation of all doctrine and so of all Catholic theology.  It is on this ground that Irenaeus developed a unitary vision of the redemption worked by Christ who, sent by the Father to give the Spirit, is the source of the free unity of the redeemed universe; he is the second Adam whose recapitulation of all things is the transcendent subject of Irenaeus’ Christology.  To be thus the source of the unity of the substantial reality that is creation, as has been stressed heretofore, is to hold the office of headship.  Irenaeus’ concentra­tion upon the Personal unity of Jesus is at one with his recognition of Jesus’ headship of all creation, and thus with his application of the Pauline recapit­ulation theme to the headship of all things by and in Christ.[123]

This nexus is of the first importance for the analogia fidei and for the systematic inquiry which feeds upon the intrinsic coherence, the free unity, of the ecclesial tradition.  The apostolic and ecclesial tradition of the revela­tion that is given us in Christ is basically liturgical, and radically Eucharis­tic.  The “true gnosis,” as Irenaeus called his doctrine, rejects outright the Gnostic flight from history.  It demands of every Christian that historical respon­si­bility, the covenantal fidelity whose supreme expression is martyr­dom.  This fidelity is at one with the faith and spirituality of the Church, and with the lived faith that Jesus is Lord.  This truth, this gnosis, this mystery, cannot be transcended; Irenaeus’ grasp of it is finally mystical, finding it an inex­haustible source of a spirituality of universal import and appli­cation.  His spirituality was heavily relied upon at Vatican II.

It is worth remarking that the fruit of his mature years as the bishop of Lyons, defending the Church against the Gnostic denials of the unity of the Lord Jesus by developing and preaching a true gnosis, is Irenaeus’ concise summary of Christological orthodoxy in the maxim that Jesus is “one and the same Son.” It was equally instrumental in the defense of the Personal unity of his Lord at Chalcedon two and a half centuries later, when compet­ing dehistoricizations of Jesus the Christ, by Nestorius and Eutyches again threatened the Personal unity of Jesus the Christ.

b. Tertullian

Tertullian’s theology, Christological, Trinitarian, and sacramental, is foundational for the Latin tradition.  Its impact upon the Latin Church is comparable to Origen’s upon the Greek tradition; his Peri Archon is nearly contemporaneous with Tertullian’s Adversus Praxean.  Tertullian has been well described as “a source and standard to which Latin theology never ceased to have recourse,” and as the finest intelligence of his time.[124]

Born to pagan parents in Carthage perhaps as early as 155, he was well educated in Greek and Latin literature as well as in the Roman law.  He was a successful and perhaps eminent practicing lawyer when, about 195, he became a Christian.[125]  Thereupon he undertook the advocacy of the Chris­tian faith which occupied the rest of his life.  Pierre de Labriolle has described his undoubted genius:

Endowed with a mind fundamentally positive and practical, with a talent tempered to a superior fineness, which knew how to bind together in vigorous systems, theology, morality, and discipline, without mentioning the Latin tongue itself which he constrained with so much learning to new uses, this original and powerful personality inaugurated Latin Christian literature, in a manner which was most resplendent.[126]

Msgr. Ronald Knox is less positive.[127].  He finds in Tertullian’s conver­sion to Montanism the first clear expression of that “enthusiasm” which Knox explored in his classic study of the history of religion.  For those unfam­il­iar with Enthusiasm, Msgr. Knox’s first page describes at some length what he intends by the term: a few lines from its first paragraph are excerpted here:

There is, I would say, a recurrent situation in Church history―using the word ‘church’ in the widest sense―where an excess of charity threatens unity.  You have a clique, an élite, of Christian men and (more importantly) women who are trying to live a less worldly life than their neighbours, to be more attentive to the guidance (directly felt, they would tell you) of the Holy Spirit.  More and more, by a kind of fatality , you see them draw apart from their co-religionists, a hive ready to swarm.  There is provocation on both sides; on the one part, cheap jokes at the expense of over-godliness, acts of stupid repression by unsym­­pathetic authorities; on the other, contempt of the half-Christian, omin­ous references to old wine and new bottles, to the kernel and the husk.  Then, while you hold your breath and turn away your eyes in fear, the break comes; con­dem­nation or secession, what difference does it make?  A fresh name has been added to the list of Christianities.

Msgr. Knox believes this flaw to have infected all of Tertullian’s work, leading him finally into Montanism:

To me he is a born arguer, who talks himself, rather than thinks himself, into extreme positions, and is too dazzled by his own eloquence to recede from them.  That he ever practised as an orator is in doubt;1 but his nagging logic stamps every line of him as the work of a man bred to the forum.

Knox, Enthusiasm, 45.

And again:

He is never profound, never opens a new window on some aspect of theology; he will stick to his brief.

Ibid., 46,

In the latter comment Msgr. Knox far exceeds his own brief; Tertullian’s Chris­tological and Trinitarian insights, condensed in duae substantiae, una Persona, and tres Personae, una Substantia, expressed the apostolic tradi­tion with a precision unknown before him and unsurpassed since.  His Chris­tological formulae have entered into the Symbol of Chalcedon.  Msgr. Knox’s criticism is pertinent insofar as it bears upon Tertullian’s conversion to Montanism, while ignoring both his genius and the permanent signify­cance of his theology,

Tertullian wrote a number of works before writing his masterpiece, the Apologeticus, during the reign of Septimius Severus, about 197.[128] It is addressed to the magistrates of the Roman provinces who had immediate oversight of the persecution of Christians.  In it he presented himself to them as a Christian advocate arguing with learning and eloquence the case against the automatic incrimination of Christians and the execution of those who, like him, refused to abandon their faith under pressure.  Clearly, he spoke for the ordinary run of the routinely persecuted, hoi polloi, the multitude of insignificant people whose only crime was believing that Jesus Christ is Lord, quietly living that faith and often willing to witness to its truth to the end.  Tertullian’s showing forth of the content of their faith was indispens­able to his argument; thus he set out the elements of his own Christological and Trinitarian faith.  Ernest Evans, who has published, inter alia, unsure­passed editions of Tertullian’s Adversus Praxean, De Carne Christi, and De Resurrectione, maintains that, apart from dropping the inappro­pri­ate expression of the full humanity and full divinity of Christ as a “mixtio” in him of the divine and the human, Tertullian’s Christology underwent no notable change thereafter.[129]

iv. Tertullian’s Contributions to the Doctrinal Tradition

Tertullian’s two theological paradigms, the one Trinitarian, the other Christological, are indispens­able to Catholic theology in the Latin West, and have been written into the doctrinal tradition.  Both rely upon a subtle inter­relation of “substance” and “person” in two distinct but inseparable contexts.  Here they are introduced.

1. Tertullian’s una persona, duae substantiae Christology

This formula is so universally accepted in Western Christology as to have become a commonplace and so to have lost its depth.  Attempts to fit it into an existing theological or philosophical formats obscure it by begging of questions which never occurred to Tertullian.  The basic mistake is the inter­­pretation of ‘substance” as “nature:” i.e., as abstract, although it is evident, and for fifteen centuries has been defined, that Jesus was an historical man and, as historical, a human Person, the human Son of a human mother, and Personally consubstantial with us.  That he is the eternal Son of the eternal Father is similarly defined, in such wise that his mother is the mother of God, Theotokos.  Jesus is then fully, i.e., substantially divine, and fully, i.e., substantially human, a Person at once human and divine, “one and the same Son.”

This is the ancient Catholic tradition, the Spirit Christology taught by the Apostles, celebrated by the Eucharistic liturgy, enshrined in the books of the New Testament, affirmed by the Apostolic Fathers and the Apologists of the second century, by the close of which Irenaeus had condensed his theology in the succinct assertion that Jesus is “one and the same Son.”  It was defined by the first four Councils, the last of which, the Council of Chalce­don, wrote Irenaeus’ recognition of the full humanity, full divinity, and Personal unity of the Christ into its Symbol as the touchstone of the Catholic faith that Jesus is the Lord.

Nonetheless, this Christology has been rejected by the bulk of Latin and Greek theology from the second decade of the fourth century, down to the second decade of the present century, which is to say, .for most of the two millennia since the one and the same Son, by the offering of his One Sacri­fice, on the Altar and on the Cross, fulfilled  his mission from the Father to give the Spiritus Creator.  It must here be noted that in Tertullian’s De Carne Christi 18, almost coincidentally with Irenaeus, he affirmed the full, substantial humanity, the full, substantial divinity and the Personal unity of Jesus Christ the Lord.

♦2.Tertullian’s Trinitarianism: una Substantia, tres Personae

Tertullian’s Trinitarian doctrine is inseparable from his Christology: Jesus the Christ’s revelation of himself as the Son is his revelation of his Father, by whom he is sent to give the Holy Spirit, who is therefore sent by the Father through the Son.  Here again, Tertullian is the first to have taught the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father through the Son, the primordial Sermo, whose historical mission by the Father is eo ipso his reve­lation of the Trinity.  The revelation is Personal, therefore mysterious, incapable of reduction to information and, for that reason, inexhaustible; it is also fascin­ating, incapable of being ignored.  Its Truth is therefore free, capable of appropriation as a gift; and otherwise unavailable.  The reception and appro­­priation of this gift of Christ himself is personal, a conversion to the Catholic faith that he is Lord, not as dominating the universe, but as liberating it from its ancient imprisonment.  There can be no other, the alter­na­tive to the freedom of faith in Jesus Christ the Lord is self-enclosure in an unin­habitable cosmos, the autonomous self.  Once personally received, whether as by the Apostles, or by those taught by them, faith in Christ judges and cannot be judged: this is implicit in the freedom of its reception for, as freely received, it is a conversion from the determinist cosmologies that are its alternative.

The Church’s Trinitarian faith is historical, for it rests upon the Event of the Incarnation, which is the revelation of the Trinity.  The Church’s histori­cal faith in the absolute unity of God has an analogue in the nearly instinc­tive monotheistic cosmologies of the pagan cultures, but only in Judaism were these conver­t­ed to faith in the God who is the Lord of history.  The Jewish faith in the Lord of history found its final expression in the Messi­anic hope for a divinely anointed King, a Christ, whose rule will finally bring peace and prosperity to the fallen world.  The Christian faith that Jesus is that King, that Lord, separates Christianity from Judaism, which does not accept Jesus as the Messiah.  Nonetheless, the Christian faith in the One God is an inheritance from Judaism, and the Christian interpretation of the Jewish Scriptures as prophetic of the New Testamant links Christianity to Judaism inseparably. As Pope Pius XI observed, “spiritually we are Semites.”

The Christian insistence, from Tertullian onward, upon the substantial unity of God, “mia ousia , mia hypostasis,” defeated at the Council of Nicaea the Arian assertion that belief in the divinity of the Son, Jesus the Christ is a denial of the divine unity, while at the same time freeing that divine unity from the threat of its subordination to a cosmological rationale that would reduce it to an impersonal absolute, a Monas whose historicity could only be mythical.  The Christian faith in the Trinitarian unity of God upholds the Jewish insistence upon the immanence of the One God in history.  Thus understood, it has a perduring ecumenical significance.

*♦ The Editorial Stance of Ernest Evans

Ernest Evans is a patristic scholar of great erudition whose reputation has long been secure, nor is it under question here.  Rather, the present sketch of Tertullian’s Christological and Trinitarian doctrine relies upon his authority more than upon that of any other author.

It is necessary to discuss Evans’ editorial relation to Tertullian’s Christological and Trinitarian doctrine simply because it is adverse.  Evans considers Tertullian’s Spirit Christology, the apostolic orthodoxy of the second and third centuries, to have become obsolete and have been tacitly dropped during the fourth century.  He praises Eusebius of Caesarea for dis­missive criticism of this Christology in Contra Mar­cellum and Ecclesiastica Theologia, and expresses satisfaction with what he believes to have been its abandonment thereafter.[130].

Notwithstanding this persuasion, Evans’ exposition of Tertullian’s Christological and Trinitarian theology is painstaking and accurate, insofar as the present writer may judge.  The extensive “Notes and Commentary” concluding his Against Praxeas, 183-331, is prefaced by a hundred similar pages in On the Incarnation (82-183) and another hundred and fifty in On The Resurrection (188-340).  The three ”Notes and Commen­tary” are invaluable aids to the appreciation of Tertullian’s theology, and of patristic scholarship generally.  However, Evans’ explicit rejection of the Spirit Christology in favor of his personal commitment to the systematic dehis­toricization of the subject of the Incarnation entails his rejection of the communication of idioms in that subject, whom he has reduced to the ‘immanent Son,’ the pre-human divine Word .  Consequently, for Evans  it is not the primordial historical Jesus the Lord who is the subject of the incarnation, but the eternally pre-existent divine Son who cannot become flesh (caro, sarx) in the historical event of the Incarnation and kenōsis, but who supposedly becomes human, in the abstract sense of assuming a human nature.

Evans prefaces the “Notes and Commentary” of his On The Incarnation and On the Resurrection with expressions of a personal theological stance entirely incompatible with Tertullian’s Spirit Christology and also with the Church’s doctrinal tradition.[131]  His abstraction of Christol­ogy from history inevitably entails the dehistoricization of the Mission of the Son; for Evans, it is the immanent Son, not Jesus, who is sent by the Father, and who, with the Fall, becomes “flesh.”  It must follow that the flesh (caro, sarx) is also dehistoricized, for the “immanent Son” is incapable of becom­ing fallen.  Consequently, in common with many if not most contem­por­ary theologians, Evans supposes the Incarnation of the Word to be his assump­tion of a “human nature,” i.e., of an abstraction, for humanity as concrete, as historical, is personal; it has no other objectivity.  While Evans is well aware that Tertullian uses “flesh” historically, i.e., in the sense of personal subject­tion to sin and death, his own rejection of the Spirit Christology as obsolete appears throughout his editions of the Adversus Praxean, the De Carne Christi, and the De Resurrectione Carnis.

Questions immediately arise.  Evans is well aware that Tertullian has identified the Word of Jn. 1:14 (“Sermo” is Tertullian’s preferred translation of the Latin Verbum and the Greek Logos) with the primordially pre-existent Jesus.[132]  Evans’ rejection of the Spirit Christology as mistaken rests upon his replacement of it by one in conformity with a criterion more reliable than the pre-Nicene rendition of the apostolic tradition.  While Evans does not label his Chris­tology, his express identification of the Incarnation as the assump­tion by the non-human Verbum of a human nature conforms to the Logos-sarx Christology which had become common early in the latter half of the fourth century.  Like Evans’ Christology, the Logos-sarx Christology is character­ized by the dehistoricization of the subject of the Incarnation and therefore of the Father’s Mission of the Son.  It assumes the subject of the Incarnation to be the second Person of the Trinity, whose pre-existence is ab aeterno, sensu negante: i.e. not the primordial pre-existence of the “one and the same Son” of the Father and of the Virgin.[133]  The currently dominant version of the Logos sarx Christology is Thomism, a systematic rejection of the human Person of Jesus, the primordial Sermo of Tertullian’s Spirit Christology.  It must follow that the Thomist version of the Logos-sarx Christology must refuse the Creeds of the first four Ecumenical Councils, which affirm that Jesus is the subject of the Incarnation, confirming Ter­tul­li­an’s Spirit Christology, and consequently the communication of idioms in the Jesus, the subject of the Incarnation.  That is he the subject of the Incarnation is the faith of the Church: Jesus Christ is Lord.

In the Apologeticus Tertullian simply asserts the unity of the two substantiae, the divine and the human, in the una persona of Jesus the Lord.  Apart from two inconsequential references to their “mixtio,” Evans, in his now classic edition of the Adversus Praxean, recognizes as a constant Tertullian’s commitment to the Spirit Christology of the apostolic tradition, whose hallmark is the primordial pre-existence of the Word, the Logos, the Sermo, who is Jesus the Lord.  Well into the fourth century the accepted reading of Lk. 1:35, referred its “πνεμα γιον” to the primordial Jesus Christ, thus understanding him as the agent of his own Incarnation.  Evans considers this exegesis of the Annunciation narrative to be unsupported by the text.[134]He prefers the interpretation by Cyril of Alexandria, whom he understands to consider the Holy Spirit to have been active in the Incarna­tion of our Lord.  This would violate the liturgical order of the Trinitarian Names, τξις (taxis) the unchanging sequence of the Naming of the τρíας, of the Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, established by Athenagoras and Theophilus in the second century, wherein the Mission of the Son precedes the Mission of the Holy Spirit.  In brief, the Holy Spirit is sent by Jesus the Lord, whose mission from the Father is precisely to bestow the Holy Spirit, the Spiritus Creator.  To reverse this sequence is to deny the Trinity.

Evans’ personal rejection of this doctrine cannot but entail some distortion of Tertullian’s theology.  It first appears in his discussion of Tertullian’s Trinitarian doctrine in the Apolo­geticus, where he assumes that, by reason of the intent of that work to establish the “worshipfulness of Jesus,” Tertullian cannot presuppose Jesus’ divinity, but must establish it.  Consequently, he must begin “at the beginning” with the end in view the estab­ishing of the divinity of Christ, i.e., ”his worshipfulness,” in order that it may be attributed to him.  This he undertakes by examining his “substance.”

However, Tertullian’s text, in Apologeticus 17 and 21, takes the Christ’s divinity for granted: his “worshipfulness” is never in question.  Further, as has been seen, Tertullian identifies Jesus’ ‘substance,’ the Logos, with the Person of Christ, as Evans acknowledges.

Evan’s development of this approach to Tertullian’s exposition of his Trinitarian doctrine is inconsistent.  It is even confused, in that he recognizes the apostolic tradition of Tertullian’s Christology and does not attempt to reduce Tertullian’s Sermo to an abstract, immanent-Trinitarian standing.  That would force Tertullian to abdicate his commitment to the Spirit Christology of the apostolic tradition, a commitment which Evans elsewhere recognizes over and again. Nonetheless here he has written:

It was the apologist’s purpose to persuade his audience that Christians are not atheists.  He might be supposed to have done so when he had declared in categorical terms their belief in one God, the creator of the universe.  Christians are monotheists: that there is no god but one is a fundamental fact which admits of no compro­mise; for that faith they suffer persecution.  If he could have left the matter there, he would have been saved a complicated explanation.  But he could not leave it: Christ is too important to be left out, and it is Christianity, not mere monotheism, that he is defending.  So he has to explain who Christ is and why he is worshipful, in such terms as not to compromise the essential fact of the divine unity.  And the terms are ready to his hand: they are the common property of the Christian apologists and theologians, to be traced back through Irenaeus, Theophilus, Athenagoras, Justin, to the Gospel of John, and so well established in Christian thought as to have found their way even into gnostic travesties of the Gospel.

Like his predecessors, he begins at the beginning.  There is no question of beginning with Jesus of Nazareth and working upwards to the divine Word: not in this way is it possible to account for the worshipfulness of Jesus while safeguarding the divine unity.  His substance must be explained first, or the quality of his nativity will not be understood.  The word, the reason, the power, by which God created the world, which indeed is the artificer of the world, is itself a substance, which we designate spirit―for God is spirit―who manifests himself in speech, reason and power.  That Greek philosophers used the term λγος to describe the creative principle, may save our doctrine from appearing strange to the heathen, though that does not exhaust its content.  For the Logos of whom we speak is spirit, which implies objective reality and moreover personality, and the word, reason and power displayed at the creation are activities of his but are not he.

Who is he?  He is the one brought forth from God, and by that bringing forth was begotten; and because of the unity of substance, because he is what God is, he is called God.  He is called God, not as a mere appelative: deus dictum, spoken of as God in those Scriptures of ours which treat facts as facts, and treat only facts as facts.

Evans, Against Praxeas, 61-62.

We have noted Tertullian’s explicit affirmation of the Spirit Christology which Evans considers to have been effectively universal until well into the fourth century; the “spirit which came down upon a certain virgin, and was made flesh in her womb” is a  conflation of Lk. 1:35 and Jn. 1:14; the subject of both is the primordial Christ:

Him therefore whom they supposed to be a man for his humility, they must needs regard as a magician for his power, seeing that he with a word cast out devils from men . . .  making it evident that he was the Word of God, the Logos, that primordial first-begotten Word with power and reason for its escort and spirit for its basis, the same Logos who with a word both was making and had made all things.

Evans, Against Praxeas, 60, translating Apologeticus 21

The words of the annunciation to Mary, quoted by Tertullian in the form Spiritus dei superveniet in te, are taken to mean that God the Word came upon the blessed virgin and was the agent of his own Incarnation.  Since God is spirit (John 4:24), Spirit in the Scriptures can, he thinks, be a term of substance, denoting in any Scriptural text, all or any of the three distinct divine PersonsIn this particular case a comparison with John 1. 14 is thought to require the identification of spiritus dei with the Word who was made Flesh. (emphasis added).

Ibid., 63.

It evident that the “agent of his own incarnation,” i.e., “the Word made flesh,” must pre-exist his Incarnation.  Tertullian, as Evans notes, held to the apostolic tradition recited in Lk. 1:35, which affirms the pre-existent subject of the Incarnation to be the primordial Jesus the Lord and not, as is too often supposed, the eternally preexisting, “Trinity-immanent Son,” the second Person of the Trinity.  Evans has been careful to note Tertullian’s commit­ment to the apostolic tradition: two pages later, he observes that:

The identification of spiritus dei with the Word who was incarnate, was regarded by Tertullian as part of the received tradition.  It can be referred to in controversy with the Jews:

Adv. Jud. 13: cum virgo Maria verbo dei praegnans inveniretur;

And it finds a place in the regulae veritatis:

Adv. Praxean. 2 : hunc (sc.sermonem) missum a patre in virginem et ex eo natum.

It is in fact found in a large number of writers, both before and after Tertullian, and until the fourth century was the accepted view. . . .

Ibid., 65

The “Spiritus dei” of whom Luke in 1:35 writes “Spiritus dei superveniet in te” and by whom the apostolic or ”received tradition” understands the virgin to have become pregnant, and consequently teaches to be the agent of his own Incarnation, obviously pre-exists his Incarnation primordially and therefore humanly.  It is he, the primordial Jesus Christ, whom in Phil. 2:5-13 Paul identifies as the subject of the kenōsis, that entry of the primordial Jesus into our fallenness that John will designate his becoming flesh.

These latter passages manifest Tertullian’s adherence to the Spirit Chris­tology of the Apostolic Fathers and of Justin, who took for granted what Paul taught in Phil 2:7, i.e., that it is the preexistent Jesus the Lord, the Christ, who “is the agent of his own Incarnation,” and whose pre-existence is in consequence primordially integral from the instant of his Mission from the Father, by which he is “the Beginning” (Col. 1:18).  The primordial Christ, the Sermo, the Beginning, is also the End, the achieve­ment of his redemptive exercise of headship over the fallen creation, complete in his offering to the Father the One Sacrifice, the death by which he conquered death, to rise again and recover that glory which was his before the “world” began, viz., his primordial integrity, the Spiritus dei that was his before his Incarnation, and now is his again by his victory over death.  Jesus’ historical Mission began with the Incarnation; it will end with his coming to judge the living and the dead.  The point is not developed here but it is important to recognize that Jesus’ Lordship of history is precisely his Eucharistic imman­ence within it, which transcends the fragmentation of fallen space and time, bestowing upon it the free unity of the One Flesh instituted by the One Sacrifice on the Altar and the Cross.

Tertullian concludes by identifying the Word with the divine substance, a postulate which, taken literally, has Monarchian implications which Evans ignores.[135]  Well he may, for Tertullian ignores them also; his view of the “substantial” unity of the Trinity renders it indivisible, but is no bar to the objectivity of the Persons who constitute it.  He has already finessed this difficulty by accepting the liturgical distinctions between the divine Names, the unchanging order in which they are Named, and their substantial unity in the Trinity, the mystery of the economy, which he sums up as: “una substantia, in tribus cohaerentibus.”  The latter phrase refers of course to the Names, later to be designated Persons, but without understanding “person” as a category for, as Persons, they retain the liturgical ordering of their Names.  The substantial Trinity is “in tribus cohaerentibus,” and the “tribus” are liturgically Named, not predicamentally numbered; they are not fungible, not interchangeable members of a species, as Basil of Caesarea was later tempted to suppose.  Tertullian evidently fumbles with an explanation of how the Three are in fact three: he speaks of three “forms,” but not clearly.[136]

Tertullian’s evocation of a divine Trinitas is more than a translation of the Trias proposed by Theophilus of Antioch ca. 180, and which Athena­goras joined to the intrinsic order (τξις; taxis) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that is their unity, their Trias.  Theophilus was insightful in recognize­ing that the Church’s worship was not of a monad, but that the three Names are One God, hence a Trias.  Tertullian saw beyond him that the Father, the source of the Son and the Holy Spirit, is so as himself a member of the Trinity.  This insight, which is also Justin’s, is forced by the Church’s litur­gy: e.g., the doxology.  Tertullian also saw that this divine order of equal and indissociable members could only be free, and must have an immanent-Trinitarian source or beginning (Archē) of that freedom: it could not be extrinsic, for the liturgy did not permit the Son to be less divine than the Father, or the Holy Spirit less divine than the Son.  Yet further, any Trinitarian inequality could only be a subordinationism, a fragmenting of the One God.

How then to understand the Father as the Archē?  Clearly the Father, as the source of the divinity of the Son and the Spirit, and thus of the Trinity, must be himself without a beginning in order to be the origin of the Trinity.  At the same time, he must be within the Trinity: otherwise there would be no Trinity.  Tertullian doubtless learned this from Justin’s paradoxical posing an Absolute as the Father of the Son, of Jesus the Lord.  Justin was not an explicit Trinitarian, although his Dialogue with Trypho refers several times to the Holy Spirit. His Christology in any event exhibits a degree of cosmological rationality: Justin understands God as God to be absolute, omniscient, omnipotent, and immobile, incapable of immanence in what is not God, incapable then of historicity.  Apart from an incongruous identification of the Father with the Absolute in Adversus Praxean 5, Tertullian’s Trinitarian theology relied upon the apostolic tradition, rather than upon the philosophical tradition.  While agreeing with Justin in naming the Father “tota substantia,” he did not understand him to be the divine substance as Justin did. Tertullian understood: the Father to be a member of the Trinity, its source, its Head., a most profound insight into the mystery of the Trinity, which he never tried to explain or justify.

Evans understands Jesus to pre-exist only as the eternal Son; this flatly contradicts Tertullian’s Spirit Christology, for which Jesus is the primordial­ly pre-existent subject of the Incarnation and therefore of the kenōsis.  This is simply the apostolic Christology, which knows the Father’s Mission of the Son to be historical, the Mission of Jesus the Lord; the historicity of his Mission is the defined doctrine of the great Councils, i.e., Nicaea, I Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon.

In his edition of Tertullian’s De Carne Christi, Evans devotes a long paragraph to the subject of that work, the “flesh” (caro) of Christ.   He contrasts Tertullian’s use of “body” (soma, corpus) with “flesh” (sarx, caro) as carrying or permitting the connotation of dead as opposed to living, of inanimate as opposed to animate, while ”flesh” refers to what is alive or potentially alive: it designates the material of which the animate body consists and, in the case of living bodies “involves” the soul, however that term be understood.  He concludes:

The subject of the present treatise (De Carne Christi) is not the Body of Christ in either the natural or the mystical or the sacramental sense of that phrase, but his Flesh: that is, the substance, nature, attributes and origin of the whole of that human nature which the divine Word assumed at the Incarnation.  The question under discussion is one of substance, even of material: not of body as the organized vehicle and instrument of human life, but of the verity of the human nature of Christ as involved in the statement that his flesh is truly flesh and his soul is truly soul, both the one and the other derived by natural descent from the progenitors of all mankind. (emphasis added)

Evans, On the Incarnation, at 82 (emphasis added)

This analysis requires qualification.  Its first sentence identifies the ‘Flesh’ of Christ with his humanity, which Evans describes abstractly as “the whole of that human nature which the divine Word assumed at the Incarnation.”  Insofar as Evans here intends this paragraph to be statement of the Christology of Tertullian’s De Carne Christi, it is clearly in error, for it imputes to Tertullian’s Sermo Evan’s nonhistorical reading of the logos sarx egeneto, whereby the Incarnation must also be nonhistorical, no longer the Event of the Incarnation-kenōsis, but rather the ‘assumption’ by the nonhis­tori­cal Logos of a nonhistorical “human nature” remote from the depreca­tory historical significance of “Flesh” as fallenness.

For Tertullian, the flesh of Jesus the Christ, i.e., of the primordial Sermo who “became flesh,” is his fallen human Person.  In the moment of the Incar­na­tion, the integral Person, at once divine and human, the primordial Sermo, entered into our fallenness, into our submission to death, and into our fear of death.  Named by the angel of the Annunciation, conceived by the Virgin, Jesus became flesh, the agent of his own Incarnation, as we have seen Evans elsewhere recognize.[137]  This Event, the Incarnation, is the foun­da­tion of Tertullian’s Spirit Christology, and the defined doctrine of the Church.  The second sentence of the paragraph excerpted supra insists that

the question under discussion” is the verity of the human nature of Christ as involved in the statement that his flesh is truly flesh and his soul is truly soul, both the one and the other derived by natural descent from the progenitors of all mankind.”


This emphasis upon the historicity of the flesh of Christ shifts the subject from the abstract ‘human nature” earlier affirmed to have been assumed by the Word.  It is sustainable only in recognizing that the concrete, historical humanity of Christ can only be Personal.  There is no impersonal humanity in history.  As concrete, Jesus’ humanity, derived by descent from Adam and Eve, truly flesh and soul, cannot but be Personal, for the derivation is by the Virgin’s conception of him, thus it is that “Jesus” is the human Name of her human Son.  Tertullian insists upon the Personal historicity in Jesus the Christ of the flesh-soul distinction which he sets out in Adversus Praxean 2 and again in De Carne Christi, as earlier in the Apologeticus, 21, 17-20.  Flesh and soul, while remaining distinct, are unified in the fallen Person­al humanity which, by his Incarnation, Jesus derived from our fallen progenitors.  Tertullian takes for granted that the creation accounts in Gen. 1 and Gen. 2 entail a single human substance, embracing all mankind as descend­ents of the first Adam and first Eve.[138]

Evans accepts this historical derivation of Jesus’ “human nature.”  His reference to the “substantial unity“ of Jesus’ humanity is rather due to his need to assert its concreteness without admitting that it is Personal.  Rather, he uses “substance” in the sense of Tertullian’s Christological formula, “duae substantiae, una persona,” to stress the objectivity of the full humanity and the full divinity of Christ.  He presents Tertullian as holding that all human beings possess their human credentials, their “flesh,” by reason of their descent from Adam and Eve.  Their flesh is their personal subsistence in the one substance of fallen historical humanity.

However, Evans’ recourse to “substance” to denote Jesus’ humanity takes him half-way to Praxeas’ monarchial use of “substance” to avoid “the use of “Person.”[139]  Evans of course affirms the Personal divinity of Jesus, but only as abstracted from his Personal humanity, which makes it difficult to distinguish the Personal divinity of the immanent Son from impersonal substantial divinity of Monarchianism, for they are the same abstraction from the historical Revelation, Jesus the Lord, whose Personal humanity is his Personal historicity.  Abstraction from his historicity is abstraction from his Person and from his Personal revelation of the Trinity.  God then becomes the cos­mo­logical Monas, equival­ent­ly Justin’s Unnameable Absolute, and Praxeas’ divine substance.  In this abstraction from the Trinity in which the Son is supposedly immanent, the ‘immanent Son’ becomes indistinguishable from the divine substance, for in denying his Personal humanity, we deny the economy in which the Revelation of his Person and his Mission is given.

Evans’ personal Christology, in supposing the Incarnation to be the eternal Word’s assumption of an impersonal abstract human substance, cannot associate the abstract “flesh,” the dehistoricized ”human nature” thus “assumed,” with the historical fallenness and mortality connoted by “flesh” in the Old Covenant usage as well as by John and Paul in the New Coven­ant.  In the Letter to the Romans, Paul describes our fallen existence in terms of the dialectical tension between our personal fallen solidarity with the flesh (sarx, caro) of the fallen Adam; and our personal redeemed risen solidarity with the risen second Adam (pneuma, spiritus), with his victory over death by his institution of the One Flesh of the New Covenant, on the Altar as on the Cross.

Tertullian’s Spirit Christology is not a theology in the sense of the speculative product of a fides quaerens intellectum; it is the appropriation by an extraordinary intelligence of the Church’s faith in the risen Lord.  This is the sitz im leben of Tertullian’s doctrine of the “Flesh” of Christ.  Its personal expression is always flawed, always incomplete, but au fond Jesus’ “flesh” is his Personal immanence in our fallen history, as his “Spirit” is his Personal transcendence of that history by his sacrificial institution of the New Covenant, his union in One Flesh with the second Eve.  His One Sacrifice establishes his Eucharistic Lordship of history as its Alpha and the Omega.  By his Eucharistic immanence in our history, the risen Jesus is the Light of the World, the Mysterium fidei who illumines our darkness until he comes again.

It is worth remarking that, contra Evans, the Flesh of Christ, the subject of Tertullian’s treatise and so of Evan’s commentary, is in fact sacramental: e.g., “The bread I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (Jn, 6:51) and “for my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (Jn, 6:55).  Tertullian’s debate with Gnostic heretics who denied the historical concrete­ness of the Incarnation led him to equate “caro” with “corpus” in those controversies, in which the anti-docetic thrust of his argument presupposes the unity of soul and body in the Personal “flesh” of Christ.

The permanent liturgical proclamation of the communication of idioms in Jesus the Lord underlying the Eucharistic anamnesis could not rest short of the Chalcedonian proclamation of double homoousion, divine and human, that is inseparable from Lordship of Jesus because integral to it.  Notwith­standing this sacramental memorial of his life, death and resurrection, there persists, under Gnostic auspices long outworn, a sub-theological resistance to the historical Lordship of Jesus the Christ.

Evans’ description of Tertullian’s theology is characterized by its pervas­ive ambiguity.  Evans knows that it is Jesus the Lord, the Sermo, whose “worship­fulness” he assumes the Apologeticus intends to justify, while yet supposing Tertullian’s Trinitarian doctrine to be concerned solely with Jesus’ Personal divinity, not with his Personal humanity.  In Tertullian’s “duae substantiae, una persona” Christology it is clear that both his human and divine substances are indispensable to Jesus’ Personal unity.  However, Evans reads the Apologeticus as focused upon Jesus’ Personal divinity, which focus he considers indispensable to Tertullian’s project of showing Jesus be shown to be “worthy of worship.”  Rather, the Apologeticus is intent upon establish that Jesus the Christ in fact is worshipped, and is known so to be by its readers, for its protest is addressed to the Roman officers charged with enforcing the official criminalization of that worship.

The historical a priori of Tertullian’s Apologeticus 21 is the apostolic tradition that Jesus is the Christ (Phil. 2;11; Col. 1:19).  This in fact is where Tertullian begins the exposition of his Christology, some of which Evans has translated in Against Praxeas, 59-60.  There he has made it entirely clear that Tertullian well knew that we have no knowledge of the Trinity apart from its historical revelation in Christ, the Sermo whom the Father has sent to give the Spirit.[140].  Tertullian means by Sermo what Origen, twenty years later, will understand by “Henōsis” (νωσις), i.e., the primordial Jesus Christ.  But Evans takes for granted that in Apologeticus 21 Tertullian understand Jesus’ Person to be divine.  His argument to this effect is instructive:

Homo deo mixtus, an expression repeated elsewhere (De Carne Christi 15), is afterwards rejected as unsatisfactory (Adv. Prax. 27).  Also the phrase caro spiritu instructa (which does not seem to recur and may be considered to have been tacitly rejected), whether it means ”flesh accoutered with spirit” or “flesh constructed by spirit”, might have been thought to make the humanity of Christ the centre of his personality, except that the whole tenor of the passage is against this view, as also is thQTe phrase which shortly follows, ostendens se esse verbum dei, id est λγον.  In this sentence the genders are carefully managed, the transition from verbum dei illud primordiale primogenitum to eundem qui verbo omnia et faceret et fecisset indicating once more that the recognition of the personality of the Word of God is essential to the understanding of who Christ is.

Evans, Against Praxeas, 62-63.

Evans here displays the presuppositions of his Thomistic Christology, viz., (1) that the Personal subject of the Mission of the Son, and thus of the Incarnation, is the eternal Logos, sensu negante, and (2) that consequently it is necessary to choose between Christological alternatives which exhaust the possibilities: either a Nestorian denial of the Personal divinity of Jesus, or the Apollinarian denial of his Personal humanity.  Both postulates reject the doctrine of Chalcedon, affirmed at the beginning of the Symbol and seven times repeated, that Jesus is one and the same Son.  This is the apostolic tradition, upon which Tertullian’s Christology is founded, and which Irenaeus will summarize in Naming Jesus the one and the same Son, of the Father and the Virgin.  Tertullian also asserts Mary’s motherhood of the Son.[141]

Were Tertullian’s discussion of the Trinity in the Apologeticus as abstracted from its historical revelation as Evans would read it, viz., as the dissociation of the Son from his historical Personal unity, the one Son of the Father and of Mary, and the consequent bestowal upon him of the non-historical, abstract, cosmological unity of the “immanent Son,” he would have denied in the Apologeticus what he vigorously defended in the De Carne Christi and the De Resurrectione Christi.  Further, Evans main­tains that Tertullian never departed from the Christology of the Apologeti­cus which, ut supra, identifies the dei filius with the Sermo whom Tertullian, in the Apologeticus, identifies with Jesus the Christ, not with an “immanent Logos.”   The passage in Apologeticus 21, 17 on the Logos is followed by 18-20, which clearly identify the Logos, i.e., the Sermo, with the historical Jesus the Christ.

Only Tertullian’s forthright affirmations of the Spirit Christology in his  Apologeticus and De Carne Christi can provide the hermeneutic for the last of his Christological treatises, the Adversus Praxean.  What is said there of the Son, of the Sermo, is said of Jesus Christ, the subject of the Father’s Mission of the Son who, in obedience to his Mission, emptied himself of the Personal integrity proper to his primordial pre-existence to become enfleshed, incarnate, subject to death, as the head of the human universe which is created in him through his Gift of the Holy Spirit, for which he was sent by the Father.  The Personal humanity of the subject of the Mission of the Son, and so the Personal primordiality of the subject of the Incarnation, i.e., of the kenōsis, is the subject of the New Testament because it is the subject of the Church’s Eucharistic worship, inter alia, of the anamnesis which, while time lasts, celebrates the historicity of the Son of God.  The dei filius of Evans’ Christology cannot be the subject of the Mission of the Son, for it is not an event: neiher the Incarnation nor the kenōsis, of the primordial Sermo.

Tertullian’s Christological treatises, loyally edited by Evans, are a constant, continual affirmation of the communication of idioms in the Sermo, the primordial Christ whose obedience to the Father’s Mission is the longed-for  renewal of the universe described by Paul in Rom. 8.  There can be no doubt that Tertullian understood Jesus Christ to be the subject of the Incarnation, and in fact to be its agent, as had Justin.

The Scriptural “facts” to which Evans alludes are historical, deriving their free significance from the primordial Event of the Incarnation of the primordial Sermo who is made Flesh.  Tertullian knows no other Sermo than this, for the Names, Christ, the Lord, the Son, the Word (Sermo), are titles of the historical Jesus, given him at his Incarnation by the Angel, and by the apostles during their reception of his revelation of himself and of his Mission, and inseparable from the apostolic tradition.

Evans’ refused Tertullian’s primitive Spirit Christology in favor of a Logos-sarx Christology of the Thomist Logos-sarx pattern, wherein the subject of the Incarnation is understood to be the Son sensu negante; his pre-existence is not primordial, but eternal, not human but divine, not the “one and the same Son” of the Father and of the Virgin Mary, but of the Father only.  It follows that his Incarnation must be understood abstractly, i.e., as his becoming human, not his becoming flesh, not his entry into the degradation of the good creation brought about by the Original Sin of Adam and Eve.

Evans’ view of the Incarnation is therefore not Tertullian’s, whose Sermo is fully human and fully divine (duae substantiae, una persona).  Neither is it that of the apostolic tradition, which knows nothing of an eternal Word sensu negante.

While Evans has no intention of imputing his Christology to Tertullian; he does suppose it to be the subject of Tertullian’s presentation of his Trinitarian doctrine in the Apologeticus.  This would require that Tertullian reject the Spirit Christology which Evans shows Tertullian to have been committed, but which he considers Eusebius of Caesarea to have rendered obsolete.  This Logos-sarx persuasion does in fact affect Evans’ interpretation of Tertullian’s Christology. As for Evans’ proposition that Eusebius of Caesarea’s criticism of Marcellus rendered obsolete the apostolic Spirit Christology, the dogmatic definition of that Christology by the Councils of Nicaea, I Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon may be thought more significant than Eusebius’ rejection of the authority of Nicaea in favor of the imperial theology.

v. Adversus Praxean 27

Before proceeding with the exposition of Tertullian’s Christology and Trinitarian theology, it is necessary to address a problem raised in the Adversus Praxean 27.  The Adversus Praxean is from beginning to end Tertullian’s confrontation with Praxeas, a Monarchian heretic, whom Tertullian intends to drive from the field.  Nothing is known of Praxeas beyond what is provided in Tertullian’s Adversus Praxean.

In the first Chapter of the Adversus Praxean Tertullian condemns Praxeas whose Monarchianism Tertullian knows to be false to the apostolic tradition, and therefore a failed Christianity.  He accuses Praxeas of having imported his Monarchian heresy from Asia into Rome.  If its logic is pushed, Mon­arch­ianism is a unitarian denial of the Trinity, a reduction of the One God to a divine substance, a Monad.  A generation later, in Libya, its logic would be pushed by Sabellius to that point, which grounded Paul of Samosata’s denial of the divinity of Jesus. Although Tertullian labels it a heresy, Praxeas’ Monarchianism is probably less heretical than archaic.  In the same first Chapter of the Adversus Praxean, Tertullian proceeds further to condemn Praxeas as an anti-Montanist, in that he prevented the publication of a Roman approval of Montanism which Tertullian believed already to be in hand.

At this time, ca. 212, Tertullian has passed out of his semi-Montanist phase, and was committed to the Montanist cause, as is apparent in the first Chapter of the Adversum Praxean.  Tertullian’s Montanism will finally separate him from the Church after Callistus began to grant absolution to Christians guilty of what Tertullian, like Hippolytus, considers to be unfor­give­­able sins; this he cannot accept.  There is no reason to suppose his dissent to have been doctrinal, although with the development of ecclesio­logical doctrine it would come to be doctrinal.  At any rate, through­out the first twenty-six chapters of his Adversus Praxean Tertullian attacks Praxeas in terms of an entirely orthodox Christology and Trinitarian doctrine which, in Evans’ informed opinion, he never ceased to hold.[142]

In this work Tertullian is intent upon refuting the unitarian or anti-Trinitarian dimension of the modalism to which Praxeas, as a Monarchian, is committed.  From first to last, he focuses upon Praxeas’ss Trinitarian heresy, viz., upon his denial of the Personal distinction between the Father and the Son and the Spirit, and his attack is personal from the outset.  In this the polemical style of the Adversus Praxean contrasts sharply with the tone of the De Resurrectione, whose argument Tertullian presented almost with the dispassion of a lecturer rather than with the personal animus charac­terizing the Adversus Praxean.

Tertullian’s attack upon Praxeas is based upon the apostolic tradition, which is to say, upon the Spirit Christology and the objective distinction between the Persons of the Trinity, both of which assign ”substantia” a meaning incompatible with Monarchianism.  He uses the novel term, Persona, to designate the union of the divine and the human substances in the Christ, and also to designate the concretely distinct Names in the Trinity.  The Monarchian Praxeas does not admit the possibility of a higher meta­physical unity than substantia and consequently denies the intelligibility of Persona in Christology.  He regards the notion of concretely distinct Names in the divine substantia as incompatible with its absolute unity, and cones­quently denies the intelligibility of the Trinitarian use of Persona.  In sum, he denies a metaphysical union of substances in Christ or anywhere else, and regards the assertion of a Trinity of concretely distinct divine Names, i.e., Persons, in the One God as a lapse into tritheism.

Tertullian knows it is useless to contend with Praxeas de haut en bas. If he is to refute Praxeas' Monarchianism, he must accept its premises, and demonstrate their absurdity, their undermining that remnant of Christianity to which Praxeas, a Christian of sorts after all, does in fact adhere: he believes in the Incarnation, in sense that substantial humanity and substantial divinity are factually if irrationally joined in Jesus.

It is in this context that Tertullian undertakes to confute Praxeas.  In the following excerpt from Adversus Praxean 27 he refers to the Annunci­a­tion narrative in Lk. 1:35:

Behold they say, “it was announced by the angel, Therefore that which shall be born of thee shall be called holy, the Son of God 9: And yet the statement was made concerning the Spirit of God.  For certainly it was of the Holy Spirit that the virgin conceived, and what she conceived she brought to birth.  Therefore that must have been born which was conceived and was to be brought to birth, that is, the Spirit, whose name also shall be called Emmanuel, which is interpreted, God with us. 1 But flesh is not God, that it should be said, It shall be called holy, the Son of God; but he who as God was born in it, of whom also the psalm <speaks>::Because God as man was born in her and hath builded her by the will of the Father. 2  Who, being God, was born in her?  The Word, and the Spirit who with the Word was born by the Father’s will.  Therefore the Word is in flesh;

Luke 1. 35.  Evans’ translation supplies a definite article “the Holy Spirit” that a current edition (28th; 2012) of Nestle-Aland of the Greek New Testament does not support.  Evans has shown elsewhere that Tertullian identified “Spiritus superveniet in te” with the Sermo.  The definite article is proper to the Holy Spirit (τ πνεμα γιον, as in the final phrase of the Nicene Creed), while the reference to “holy Spirit” in the Annunciation Narrative in Lk. 1:35 has only πνεμα γιον, without the article.

Matt. 1. 23.  The RSV reads; “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emman ́́́́u-el.

Ps. 87. 5.  The RSV reads: “And of Zion it shall be said, “This one and that one were born in her”; for the Most High himself will establish her.”

Evans, Against Praxeas, 172-73.

Were Tertullian writing here within the context of his own Spirit Christology rather than that of Praxeas’ Monarchianism, he would have made the crucial error of denying that the “flesh” is God, i.e., of denying that the Word became flesh, and thereby is flesh.  However this is radically to misread him, for his attack on Praxeas forces him to using Praxeas’ terms, for Praxeas does not accept Tertullian’s.  If he is to convince Praxeas of his error, he must do so within Praxeas’ universe of discourse, and so cannot refer to the Personal unity which Jn. 1:14 presupposes and which, while basic to Tertullian’s Christology, is anathema to Praxeas’ Monarchianism.

Instead, Tertullian’s condemnation of Monarchianism is limited to and exploits the Monarchian identification of the divinity of Christ with his divine substance, which the Monarchian unitarianism must identify with the substance of the Father and, given the unity of the divine substance, with the Spirit as well.  This leads to consequences embarrassing to Praxeas, were he to remain loyal to the Monarchian unitarianism, which Tertullian’s attack upon this heresy demands that he shall.  Loyalty to Monarchianism requires interpreting the Annunciation Narrative, Lk. 1:35, to mean that Mary conceived and bore Jesus’ divinity, his Spirit, for it is by the Spirit that she conceived, and what she conceived she bore.  The Spirit, as Mt. 1:23 informs us, is “Emmanuel,” God with us” Jesus’ substantial divinity.

Unable to appeal to the unity of the two substances in the Person of Jesus, it follows that Tertullian cannot describe the substantial flesh of Jesus as holy, for only the divine substance, “spiritus,” is holy.  Although “he who was God was born in it,” according to Psalm 87, 5, which Tertullian here reads, as a Monarchian would read it, to refer to the divine substance, which alone is Spirit, i.e., God, even though Named Emmanuel, for Tertullian must also read “God with us,” i.e., Emmanuel, as a Monarchian would, as designating the divine substance.  Tertullian must understand, with Praxeas, the Naming of Jesus as “Emmanuel”, i.e.,“God with us” in Mt. 1:23, to be the Evangelist’s teaching that it is the divine substance, Spirit, who is “God with us.”  Together with a tendentious reading of Ps. 87, 5, these scriptural citations serve to introduce the conjunction of the Christ’s substantial “flesh” with his  substantial “Spirit,” the divine substance which Mary conceived and bore, giving him her own flesh, which justifies the final “Therefore the Word is in flesh;.”

This clause introduces the famous ‘either-or’ of the manner of the Incarnation of the Sermo, the Logos of Jn. 1:24.  Either the Incarnation is the  event of the transfiguratio of the Logos, whereby the Logos, the spiritus dei, is intrinsically changed, or it is his being “clothed with flesh:” indutus carne.  It must be noted here that the Monarchian posture of Tertullian’s refutation of Praxeas’ Monarchianism requires that it be the divine substance, the Spiritus, of Jesus, not his primordial Person whose Incarnation is here in view, and further, that the “flesh,” caro, with which he will be clothed is also dehistoricized, to become his human substance, not his entry into Personal fallenness and mortality:

igitur sermo in carne; dum ut de hoc quaerendum, quomodo sermo caro sit factus, utrumne quasi transfiguratus in carne an undutus carne. immo indutus, ceterum deum immutabilem et informabilem credi necesse est, ut aeternum.  Transfiguratio autem interemptio est pristini: omne enim quodcunque transfig­ura­tur in aliud desinit esse quod fuerat et incipiat esse quod non erat.  deus enim neque desinit esse neque aliud potest esse. (emphasis added)

Evans, Against Praxeas, 124 ; Adversus Praxeas 27, 11-16.

As he has earlier noted, Evans here translates Tertullian’s Sermo as Word:

Therefore the Word is in flesh; while we must also enquire about this, how the Word was made flesh, whether as transformed into flesh or as having clothed himself with flesh.  Certainly as having clothed himself.  God however must necessarily be immutable and untransformable, because absolute and eternal.  But change of form is a destruction of what was there first: for everything that is transformed into something else ceases to be what it was and begins to be what it was not.

Evans, Against Praxeas, 173.

Evans had earlier announced (Ibid., 137, n. 10), that “From now onwards we translate Sermo, which we have hitherto represented by “discourse”, by its usual English equivalent, “the Word.” 

As translation, this is unexceptionable, but “Word” is unlikely to evoke in the mind of  the reader the meaning Sermo has in the Spirit Christology proper to Tertullian, viz., the primordial Jesus the Lord, sent by the Father to give the Holy Spirit.  Rather, it will be read in the context of the pervasive Thomism, viz., as the eternal Word who, emphatically, is not the “one and the same Son” of the Father and of Mary.  However, within the context of the dispute with Praxeas carried on in Chapters 27 through 31 of the Adversus Praxean, the dehistoricization of the Sermo conforms to Tertullian’s adoption of the Monarchian unitarianism in order to refute it from within.

Tertullian, with the intention of refuting Praxeas’ Monarchianism, has adopted its limitations pro tem, specifically the denial of Jesus’ Personal unity, and the consequent dehistoricization of the Sermo, which is to say, the dehistoricization of the subject of the Incarnation, Jesus the Christ.  Limited by this polemic strategy, Tertullian can no longer identify the Sermo with the primordial Jesus the Lord.  “Sermo” now designates the impersonal divine substance, i.e., spiritus dei.  The subject of the Incarnation is now the impersonal divine substance, the substantial Sermo that is the Monarchian Jesus.  The Incarnation of the Logos, as understood by Praxeas, is here accepted by Tertullian: viz., that the Word, Jesus, the divine substance, becomes flesh.  The quandary confronting to Praxeas is presented as though his own.  The Monarchian premiss offers the two possible options.  Either the divine substance, as identified with the Logos of Jn. 1:14, is transfiguratus in carnem (changed into flesh), which is clearly impossible to the divine substance, or, accepting the Incarnation as nonetheless factual, the Incarnation of the Logos must be the clothing of the Logos with flesh.  By the Incarnation, the logos is “indutus carne,” “clothed with flesh.”

®3. Indutus carnem

Tertullian uses this “clothing” idiom, “indutus carne” (“carnem”) or its variants only in polemical contexts, i.e, those wherein, one way or another, he is defending the Church’s faith in the Incarnation and the Resurrection of the Sermo against objections posed by a variety of opponents.

The source of the clothing idiom is probably Stoic, but in any case a determinist cosmology, in which the unqualified unity of being―substantia, ousia , hypostasis, or hypokeimenon─is a rational necessity, well expressed in the Aristotelian-Thomist understanding of substance as ‘indivisum in se, divisum ab omni alio’ (undivided in itself, divided from all else).  This postulate bars all communication of substances, and renders unintelligible the free, historical unity of persona and trinitas.[143]  In this determinist context, “indutus carne” denotes an a priori inexplicable and therefore nomi­nal unity of substances, for example, that of the mutuality of the substantial soul and the substantial body to form a man, inasmuch as the Monarchian calculus excludes “person” a priori.

Tertullian uses indutus carne in the Adversus Praxean to affirm the yet more inexplicable union of the divine and human substances in the Monarchian version of the Incarnation, arguing that, inasmuch as within the Monarchian cosmology, a union of two substances would destroy each of them, one can speak to Praxeas of their concrete union only nominally, i.e., descrip­tively.  The description requires a general term capable of broad application to any concrete combination of substances.  Given the cosmo­logical impossibility of all intrinsic substantial change, i.e., the transfigure­tion of the substance in question, the sole remaining possibility is the assertion of an extrinsic change, a description of the cosmologically superior substance as “clothed” by the inferior substance: hence, indutus carne, whose meaning is intentionally extrinsic, i.e., metaphorical.

Earlier, in the De Carne Christi, in controversy with Valentinian Gnostics, with Marcian, and a dualist philosopher, Hermogenes, Tertullian used variants of indutus carne to designate in a manner comprehensible to them the cosmologically impossible yet concretely actual Event-mystery of the Incarnation of the primordial Sermo.  However, in Adversus Praxean 27, having assumed the Monarchian modalism, and thus the modalists’ reduction of the Sermo to the impersonal divine substance, spiritus dei, he could pursue his case against Praxeas’ Monarchianism only by reference to the Incarnation of the now impersonal Sermo as indutus carne, -“clothed with flesh,” rather than transfiguratus in carnem, (changed into flesh).  Read at the letter, Tertullian’s reference to the Incarnation of the Sermo as indutus carne denies the apostolic doctrine of Jn. 1:14 that the primordial Word (Sermo) became flesh (“and the Word became flesh”) rather than was clothed with flesh.  To read it at the letter is to attribute to Tertullian a Christological heresy, which is on its face absurd.[144]

For it must be kept continually in view that the Adversus Praxean is a polemic document, a vigorous and sustained attack upon Praxeas’ Monarch­ian rejection of the Trinity, and thus upon his consequent reduction of the divine unity to a single absolute and therefore impersonal substance, a Monad traveling as the divine Monarchy, the one God.  Tertullian’s attack on the Monarchian modalism by adopting its unitarianism in order to manifest its incoherence requires that Sermo no longer be a title of Jesus the Lord, but rather a designation of his divine substance.  Apart from that acute­ly polemic context, i.e., in the Apologeticus, the De Carne Christi and the De Resurretione, Sermo designates the primordial Jesus, the subject of the Incarnation, and generally in the first twenty six chapters of Adversus Praxean, Sermo is a title of the promordial Jesus the Lord.

Chapters 27-31 of the Adversus Pr Adv. Jud. 13: cum virgo Maria verbo dei praegnans inveniretur;n

axean present the crux of Tertullian’s anti-Monarchian polemic.  In these chapters, Tertullian develops the strategic Christological riposte to the Monarchian Trinitarian heresy which has converted the primordial Sermo of the Spirit Christology to the static impersonality of the divine substance, the spiritus dei.  Thereby “Logos sarx egeneto” is understood to be said of the divine substance, not the primordial Jesus the Christ  Thus it is that, in his contest with Praxeas, Tertullian permits the divine substance to “became flesh,” and then develops the consequence of that concession, the need for an impersonal, nonhis­tor­i­cal, paradigm of the cosmologized Monarchi­an reading of the Incarnation, one which, accepting the limits imposed by that cosmological flight from salvation history, might state how “becoming flesh” may, in a cosmo­log­i­cal­ly acceptable manner, be attributed to the divine substance that Praxeas assumes to be Jesus.

Once achieved, the trap is set; Praxeas’ desire to affirm the Incarnation and the economy of salvation worked by the Christ of the Gospels will defeat his Monarchian unitarianism, for within it, the divine and the human substances in Jesus are distinct, mutually irreducible and, as substances, incapable of change without ceasing to be what they are.  On the other hand, given the fact of the Incarnation, that Jesus is made flesh, both substances must have changed.  The impersonal, nonhistorical human substance, “flesh, becomes factually related to the nonhistorical divine substance, the spiritus dei, the Sermo.  At the same time, reciprocally, the divine substance, the spiritus dei, Jesus, is factually related to the human substance that is his “flesh.”  We have seen the pivotal text:

igitur sermo in carne: dum et de hoc quaerendum, quomodo sermo caro sit factus, utrumne quasi transfiguratus in carne and indutus carnem.  immo indutus.

Therefore the Word is in flesh; while we must enquire about this, how the Word was made flesh, whether as transformed into flesh or as having clothed himself with flesh.  Certainly as having clothed himself.

Evans, Against Praxeas, 124; 173.

Thus, Tertullian will affect the Monarchian Christology, the deperson­ali­za­tion of the Sermo, impersonally understood by Monarchianism to be the divine substance, in such wise that he may now ask whether the “becoming flesh” attributed to the Sermo should be regarded as a “transfiguratio” or as an “indutus carne,” and answers, “immo indutus carnem.” He reasons, in accord with the limitation imposed by his hypothetical assumption of Praxeas’ Monarchianism, that inasmuch as “transfiguratio” entails a substantial change that is impossible to God, that Praxeas must accept the alternative; i.e., the Sermo, (in the impersonal sense of the divine substance) could have “become flesh” only as “indutus carne,” i.e., as having ‘clothed himself’ with flesh.

Continuing his strategic rejection of the unity of the two substances in the Person of Christ, and his consequent reliance rather upon the impersonal substantia divina and substantia humana to found his Christology, Tertulli­an now proceeds further to develop the implications of the Monarchian division of the Christ between his human substantia and his divine substan­tia, the former understood as that which in Jesus acts humanly, and the latter, as that which in Jesus manifests his divinity: e.g., it is Jesus’ humanity that dies, his divinity that redeems.  Thus, arguing as though a Monarchian, he finds pseudo-Scriptural warrant for Praxeas’ Monarchianism:

Thus also the apostle teaches of both his substances: Who was made, he says, of the seed of David─here he will be man, and the Son of Man: Who was defined as Son of God according to the Spirit2─here he will be God, and the Word (Sermo) the Son of God: we observe a double quality, not confused but combined, Jesus in one Person God and man.  I postpone the <consideration of Christ.>

2/ Rom. 1. 3, 4.

Evans, Against Praxeas, 174.

This is a confused and confusing statement.  Its assertion that “the apostle teaches of both his substances (utraque eius substantiae)” presup­poses their union in the Person who is Jesus, an inference later confirmed by “we observe a double quality, not confused but combined, Jesus in one Person God and Man.”  However, this assertion of the Personal unity of Jesus is prefaced by the assertion of  a literal “two Sons” doctrine, in which each distinct substance is considered not only a distinct agent, but also as a distinct ‘Son,” viz., the human “Son of Man,” the divine “Son of God.  Specifically, the Word (Sermo), is regarded as the “Son of God,” and the human substance, flesh, “made of the seed of David” is the “Son of Man.”  This eliminates the “one and the same Son,” of the Spirit Christology, which nonetheless is affirmed in the next sentence, which identifies the “combination” of human and divine substances with the “Jesus in one Person God and man.”.  The final sentence of the excerpt, supra, postpones the consideration of “Christ,” and implicitly accepts the Monarchian distinc­tion between the human substance, “Christ” and the divine Son, “Jesus.”  This distinction will be pursued in the next Chapter, to the disadvantage of Praxeas, but it would be inconvenient to do so here.  As it is, we are left in a quandary.  On the one hand, Jesus is described as “a double quality, not confused but combined;” on the other, he is Named and thus is the Jesus of the Spirit Christology “in one Person God and man,” the “one and the same Son, fully divine, fully human.”  The reference to his Person as “combined,” may appear problematic, no combination can provide the radical simplicity that is Jesus’ Person, yet Tertullian is explicit: “we observe a double quality, not confused but combined, Jesus in one Person God and man.” Tertullian’s theology of ‘person,” is not analytic; a person is so simply as recognized, as named.  In the case of the Person who is Jesus, Tertullian is intent upon the coincidence in him of the fullness of divinity and of humanity: this affirmed, the manner of that coincidence escapes all scrutiny, but it is implicit in his attack upon Praxeas:

And in him (in illo) did there remain unimpaired the proper being of each substance, that in him the Spirit carried out its own acts, that is powers and works and signs, while the flesh accomp­lished its own passions, hungering in company with the devil3, thirsting in company of the Samaritan women4, weeping for Lazarus5, sore troubled unto death6 and at length it also died (emphasis added).

3 Matt. 4.2.

4 John 4.7.

5 John 11. 35.

6 Matt. 26. 38

And finally Tertullian concludes to that composite Monarchian Christol­o­gy, in which it can be said of the divine substance, i.e., of God as Spirit, that by his union with a human substance, he is “clothed with flesh;” indutus carnem, for it admits of no explanation:.

But because both substances each in its own quality, therefore to them accrued both their own activities and their own destinies.  Learn therefore with Nico­dem­us that what is born in the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.7  Spirit does not become flesh nor flesh spirit:  Evidently they can <both> be in one <person>.  Of these Jesus is composed, of flesh as Man and of Spirit as God: and on that occasion the angel, in respect of that part in which he was spirit pronounced him the Son of God, reserving for the flesh the designation Son of Man.  Thus also the Apostle, in calling him even the mediator of God and man,8 confirms <the fact that that he is> of both substances.  Lastly, you who interpret “Son of God” as the flesh, show me who the Son of Man” may be.  Or is he to be the Spirit?  But you wish the Spirit to be taken to be the Father himself, since God is Spirit: as though, just as the Word is God, God’s Spirit might not also be God’s Word (emphasis added).

7 John 3.6.

8 I Tim. 2. 5.

Evans, Against Praxeas, 174-75.

Evans’ editorial interpolations in this excerpt, viz., “Evidently they can <both> be in one <person>,” and “confirms <the fact that that he is> of both substances,” accord with Tertullian’s use of “composition” to account for the Personal unity of Jesus: “Of these Jesus is composed, of flesh as Man and of Spirit as God.”  Tertuillian’s understanding of “person” is phenomen­o­logical; “Person” in Christ is the corollary of his “Name,” Jesus, and “Person” is also the corollary of each of the Trinitarian Names: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  He does not provide an analysis of this correlation: it is obvious that Persons are Named, and that the Names are Personal; they are not categories, as Person is not.

Tertullian accepts the Spirit Christology’s recognition of the unity in Jesus of substantial humanity and substantial divinity as the foundational mystery of the faith, the subject and postulate of all theological inquiry.  While he early learned to avoid as inappropriate the use of “mixture” to describe the unity of these substances in Jesus the Christ, he used it again of him in the De Carne Christi without noticeable embarrassment.

Tertullian’s acceptance of the composite and therefore impersonal Mon­arch­ian Christology, which recognizes no concrete unity transcending that of substance, is a device for refuting Praxeas’ adherence to it, is feigned; it is not a personal conversion to it.  This is confirmed by the distinct agencies which Tertullian’s text assigns to each substance, and by the corresponding reading of the message of the “angel” of  the Annunciation, whom Tertulli­an, in the assumed role of Monarchian, does not allow to have been the Naming of Jesus, but is said instead to have “in respect of that part in which he is spirit, pronounced him the Son of God, reserving for the flesh the designation of Son of man.”  Tertullian is careful of his language here; the strict association of  Jesus’ “Name” with his “Person” proper to his Spirit Christology is sedulously respected in this Monarchian text; its pronouns (‘he,’ ‘him’) can refer only to the Person who is Jesus.  His Name and the pronominal references to it are Personal, as are the pronouns supplied by Evans’ editing.

We encounter the same recognition of the Personal unity of Christ in the “composed” in the underlined clause, i.e., “Of these Jesus is composed”, supra. is Evans’ translation of Tertullian’s “constitit.” The composition in view is of two substances, the union in Jesus of the substantial divinity of Christ, i.e., Spirit, with the substantial humanity of Christ, i.e., flesh.  Given that these are distinct substances, there is no possibility of an actual numerical unity of Spirit and “flesh,” for that would reduce them to a third entity, and destroy both: thus Tertullian’s “neque caro spiritus fit, neque spiritus caro.  In uno plane esse possunt” asserts the immutability of both substances, and the “evident” fact of their union, “in uno” to which Evans properly adds “person.” Absent the mix of substances which Tertullian has foresworn, this numerical unity can only be Personal.  In order to confirm that the Christ is in both substances, Tertullian relies upon Paul’s statement that the one man, Christ Jesus, is the mediator between God and man, .which “confirms <the fact that that he is> of both substances; again Evans’ editorial insertion is to the point; the subject “of both substances” can only be the “he” who is Jesus.

The final two sentences of the excerpt supra conclude Ch. 27 and introduce the return to Spirit Christology in Chapter 28, in which Tertullian’s enemy is as always, Praxeas, not only here in Adversus Praxean 27, but throughout the whole of that work.  We now move on to Chapter 28, and Tertullian’s postponed explanation of “Christ.”  We are again concerned with the Monarchian unitarianism, its refusal of concrete distinctions between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

28.  And so you make Christ into the Father, you great fool, because you do not even examine the very force of this name, if indeed “Christ” is a name and not a title: for it signifies “anointed.”  Yet “anointed” is no more a name than “clothed” or “shod”, but is something attributive to a name,.  If as the result of some quibbling Jesus were also called “clothed” as he is called Christ from the sacrament of anointing, would you, as you do here, call Jesus the Son of God but believe “clothed” to be the Father?  Now, concerning Christ,  If the Father is Christ, the Father is anointed, and by someone else at that: or if by ;himself, prove it.  But that is not the teaching of the Acts of the Apostles in that cry of the Church to God, For in this city have all assembled together, Herod and Pilate with the gentiles, against thy holy Son whom thou hast anointed.Thus they testified that Jesus is the Son of God and that he was anointed by the Father.  Consequently Jesus will be the same as Christ who was anointed by the Father, not the same as the Father who anointed the Son.

1 Acts, 4. 27

Evans, Against Praxeas, 175.

Tertullian’s argument is still with the Monarchist Praxeas, the “great fool,” but in Chapter 28 he is relies upon Praxeas’ evident acceptance of the attribution of Christ, i.e., “Anointed,” to Jesus.  Tertullian proceeds to insist that “Christ,” is thus proper to the Son as to demand that Personal distinction of the Son from the Father which the Monarchian Praxeas refuses to allow.  Tertullian invokes the apostolic tradition concerning Jesus whom, in the preceding Chapter 27 he has affirmed to be “Jesus in one Person, God and Man,” as the indispensable preliminary to the consideration of “Christ,” for Jesus is the subject of the Father’s anointing and thus is ineluctably the Christ.  Tertullian vindicated the Personal unity of Jesus the Christ simply to force Praxeas to face the impossibility of identifying the Anointed Son with the Father who anointed him.  Tertullian’s loyalty to the Spirit Christology of the apostolic tradition grounds his indictment of Praxeas’ Monarchianism, whose error is rather Trinitarian than Christological, but whose weakness is its failure to link the Jesus of the econo­my of salvation to his primordial mission from the Father to give the Holy Spirit, as Tertullian demon­strates here in Chapter 28 as elsewhere in the last five chapters of the Adversus Praxean.

In Chapter 29 Tertullian returns to theme of Chapter 27.  He begins by pivoting upon his condemnation, throughout Chapter 28, of the Monarchian identification of the Son and the Father.  In the first sentence of Chapter 29, he agrees that this identification is blasphemous, but in a Monarchian context, in which the divine Names refers to the divine substance of the Father and the Son.  Tertullian has previously identified the divine substance with the Person of the Father as begetting the Son, who by that begetting is shown to be distinct from the Father, but of the same substance, hence divine.  Thus he is unable to accept the death of Jesus, the divine substance, reserving it to his human substance, which he also personifies as the Christ, the subject of the Father’s anointing, whom he has just finished identifying with Jesus, who is thereby the Christ.

In this, he manifests another affinity with Origen’s Christology: both insist upon the full humanity and the full divinity of Jesus the Lord, and both understand the communication of idioms in Jesus as a communication of Names, thus of Persons.[145]  Both should then accept the death of Christ as the death of God, but neither entirely avoided the cosmological postulate that what is divine, as a matter of definition, cannot die.

Thus quasi-persuaded, and accepting as heretofore the Monarchian concentration upon the divine and human substances of Christ to the detri­ment of his Personal unity, Tertullian indicts the Monarchian willingness to agree with him that the divinity of the Son did not die, but only his humanity, as nonetheless blasphemous, for the Monarchian identification of the Son with the Father is Patripassion­ist, resulting in the crucifixion of the Father, and the application to him of the Deuteronomic curse upon the crucified: .

29. Let this blasphemy be silent, be silent.  Let it be enough to say that Christ the Son of God died, and this <only> because it is so written.  For the apostle, stating without risk that Christ died, adds According to the scriptures,7 so as by the authority of the scriptures to soften the hardness of the statement8 and avert offence to the hearer.  And yet, since in Christ Jesus there are two substances, a divine and a human, and it is admitted that the divine is immortal, as that which is human is mortal, it is evident in what respect he says that he died, namely in that he is flesh and man and Son of Man, not in that he is spirit and Word and Son of God. By saying then that Christ–that is, the Anointed–died, he makes it clear that that which was anointed died, that is, the flesh.  “So,” you say, “we also, by the same reasoning as you, say that the Son <died>, do not blaspheme against the Lord God; for we say that he died not in respect of his divine but of his human substance.”   Yet you do blaspheme, not only because you say the Father died, but also <because you say he was> crucified.  For by converting Christ into the Father you blaspheme against the Father with that curse1 upon one crucified which by law accrues to the Son, because it was the Christ, not the Father, who was made a curse for us.Whereas we, when w say that Christ was crucified, curse him not, but relate the curse of the Law, because neither did the Apostle blaspheme when he said this.

7 I Cor. 15, 3.

8 Jn. 6, 60.

1 Deut. 21.23.

2 Gal. 3. 23

Evans, Against Praxeas, 176-77.

Praxeas is equally clear that divinity cannot die, and that therefore the Son died in his human substance, not in his divine substance, and seeks by this agreement to avoid the charge of blasphemy, but Tertullian will not permit this, for Praxeas, in refusing a concrete distinction between the Father and the Son, must conclude to Patripassionism; if the Father is not distinct from the Son, he must have suffered on the Cross, which requires that the Father be the Christ.  In arguing thus, Tertullian reasserts the theme of Chapter 28, his identification of the Jesus, God and Man, with the Christ, which his earlier attribution of suffering and death to Jesus’ human substance might appear to have .denied.  Thus in Chapter 29, he argues that precisely because the divine substance is immortal, to ascribe the Passion to the Father, who is not enfleshed, is to invoke upon him the Deuteronomic curse upon whoever is hanged upon a “tree,” which curse the New Testament applies to the crucifixion.  It must follow that Patripassionism blasphemes the Father.

Chapter 30 continues the assault upon the Monarchian doctrine:

30. Otherwise, if you will persist further, I shall be able to give you a harder answer and to put you in conflict with the statement of the Lord himself, so as to say, why do you ask questions about that <answer>?  You have him crying aloud at his passion, My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?1 Consequently either the Son was suffering, forsaken by the Father, and the Father did not suffer, seeing he had forsaken the Son: or else, if it was the Father who was suffering, to what God was he crying aloud?  But this utterance of flesh and soul (that is, of manhood [hominis]), not of the Word and Spirit (that is, not of God) was sent forth for the express purpose of showing the impassibility of God, who thus forsook the Son when he delivered his manhood [hominem eius]  to death.  This was in the apostle’s mind when he wrote, If the Father spared not the Son.This also Isaiah an earlier <authority> stated: And the Lord delivered him for our iniquities. He forsook in that he did not spare, he forsook in that he delivered.  Yet the Father did not forsake the Son, since the Son placed his own Spirit in the Father’s hands.4  He placed it <there> in short, and straightway died; for while the Spirit remains in the flesh the flesh cannot die at all.  Thus, to be forsaken by the Father was to the Son death.

Matt. 27. 46.

2 Rom. 8. 42

3 Is. 53. 6.

4 Lk. 23. 46.

Evans, Against Praxeas, 178.

After having carefully established the Spirit’s immunity to suffering and death, in such wise that to suffer and to die is proper to the substantial and consequently personal “manhood” of the Son, but not to his substantial Spirit, Tertullian continues his stress upon the distinction of the Son from the Father, and from the Father’s gift to him of the Holy Spirit, while careful to avoid mention of the Trinity, which Praxeas does not accept:  He recites what Praxeas does accept, the Christian mystery, the Ascension of the Son, who did so as clearly human, to be seated at the right hand of the Father, thus distinct from the Father, and from the Holy Spirit, the Gift whom the Father gave him to pour out upon creation.  It is the Son as at once God and man whose enemies will be put under his feet; who will come again above the clouds of heaven as he also ascended.  It could not be more clear that Tertullian is here appealing to Praxeas the Christian who as Christian, must disavow his Monarchian heresy to admit the economic distinction of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

It is difficult to understand the Montanist emphases of the final clauses; the first Chapter of Adversus Praxean blames Praxeas as the anti-Montanist who damaged the Montanist prospects in Rome under Pope Zephyr­inus.  This reminder of an ancient animus would not have pleased Praxeas, but that animus drives much of Tertullian’s attack on Praxeas:

The Son therefore both dies and is raised up again by the Father according to the scriptures.5  The Son ascended into the higher parts of heaven, as he did also descend into the inner parts of the eaerth.6.  This is he who sitteth at the right hand of the Father,7, not the Father at his right hand.  This is he whom Stephen sees, when he is being stoned, still standing at the right hand of God,8 as thenceforth to sit, until the Father do put all his enemies under his feet.1  This is he who is also to come again above the clouds of heaven in like fashion as he also ascended.2  This is he who poured the gift which he has received from the Father, the Holy Spirit, the third name of the deity and the third sequence of the majesty, the preacher of the one monarchy and also the interpreter of the economy for those who admit the words of the new prophecy and the leader of all truth3 which is in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, according to the Christian mystery (emphasis added).

5 I Cor. 15. 3.

6 Eph. 4. 9.

7 Mark 16. 19.

8 Acts 7. 55.

1 Ps. 110. 1.

2 Acts 1. 11: Lk 21. 27.

3 Jn. 16. 13.

Evans, Against Praxeas, 178-79.

In order to be understood by the Monarchian Praxean, Tertullian must speak of the “deity,” i.e., the Monarchist divine Substance, instead of the Trinity but, in thus addressing, he has not himself ceased to identify the divine substance with the Trinity.  Thus he goes on to  the “deity” of which the Holy Spirit is “the third Name” who, in Tertullian’s Spirit Christology, is the third Person of the Trinity, but whom Praxeas would identify with the divine substance, the Monarchian “spiritus dei,” the “deity.”  Intending to prove to Praxeas the concrete distinction between the divine Names and, as also himself a Montanist and thus particularly intent upon the distinct divinity of the Holy Spirit, Tertullian now asserts of the Names ---whom Praxeas recognizes, for; as a Christian, he is accustomed to their liturgical recitation---a “sequence (gradus) of majesty” of which the Holy Spirit is the third.  This “sequence” Praxeas must recognize to be liturgically underwritten.  Tertullian proceeds to develop the implication of this gradus: a concrete distinction between the Names which bars their identification.  The Holy Spirit is the “preacher of the one monarchy,” and also “the preacher of the economy,” for those (who accept the “new prophecy” (i.e., the Montanists).  Thus the Holy Spirit” is the leader of all truth, a truth which is “in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, according to the “Christian mystery.”

For Tertullian, as for Hippolytus, “economy” designates the mystery of the Trinity, equivalently “the Christian mystery” which the Monarchians as Christians respect, but which they deny to be a Trinity.  Given that the “third name of the “deity” is “Holy Spirit,” it must follow that the first “name” of the “deity,” and of “the sequence of the majesty,” is “Father,” and the second “name,” that of Son.  For Tertullian. “name” and “person” are correl­a­tives, but now he ignores that correlation, affirming three divine “Names,” but avoiding any mention of “person,” the novel term which Praxeas distrusts, and not he alone: the contemporary bishops of Rome, the Popes Zephyrinus and Callistus, resist it as well.

Tertullian is insistent against Praxeas upon their distinction and their gradus, the word he had earlier used (in Adv. Prax. 2) to emphasize that the equality of the members of the Trinity is compatible with their distinction.  Tertullian cannot of course rest his argument against Praxeas on the Trinity, it being the Trinity to which Praxean objects.  He regards Tertullian’s assertion of three divine “Persons” as a tritheistic affirmation of three distinct divine substances and thus as a denial of the one God, the Monarchy.  Yet, despite his stress on the Holy Spirit’s preaching of “the one monarchy,” i.e., the “deity” to which he does not refer as the Trinity, Tertullian also has the Holy Spirit “interpreting“ the economy for those (Montanists) “who admit the words of the new prophecy.”  For the third century theology, “economy” designates the mystery of the Trinity; Tertullian’s use of it is integral with his attack upon Praxeas the Monarchist who, if familiar with the term, would reject it, and if unfamiliar, would only be puzzled.  He would not have been puzzled by Tertullian’s insertion of Montanism into the discussion; here he would have been on firmer ground.  Here perhaps we find Tertullian carried away by his own rhetoric, as Msgr. Knox has thought

Although the Father, Son, and Spirit constitute a “sequence of majesty,” it is a sequence of Names which each designate the unique divine substance, the spiritus, the “deity” by coincidence with which each “name” designates the same divine substance,  The Father’s deliverance of the Son is a deliverance to his death, whereby the Son is freed from his flesh by returning his “spirit,” his divinity, to the Father.  In that moment of death, free of the flesh, he ascends to the Father; this does not mean that he is no longer corporeal; here “flesh” retain its historical meaning, fallenness and mortality; it is from this degradation that the Son has been delivered by his Ascension to the Father in his primordial integrity..

Chapter 31, Tertullian’s final assault upon Praxeas’s Monarchianism, is grounded in the apostol­ic tradition.  Evans’ translation is here presented in full:

31.  Moreover this matter is of the Jewish faith, so to believe in one God as to refuse to count in with him the Son, and after the Son the Spirit. For what <difference> will there be between us and them except that disagreement?  What need is there of the Gospel, what is the confidence of the New Testament which establishes the Law and the Prophets until John,4 unless thereafter Father, Son and Spirit, believed in as three, constitute one God?  It was God’s will to make a new covenant  for the very purpose that in a new way his unity might be believed in through the Son and the Spirit, so that God who had aforetime been preached through the Son and the Spirit without being understood might now be known in his own proper names and persons.  Therefore let them beware , those antichrists who deny the Father and the Son5: for they do deny the Father while they identify him with the Son, and they deny the Son while they identify him with the Father, granting them things they are not and taking away things they are.  But he who shall confess that Christ is the Son of God—not the Father—God abideth in him and he in God.6  We believe the testimony by which he has testified concerning his Son:  He that hath not the Son hath not life.7  But he has not the Son who believes him to be other than the Son (emphasis added).

Matt. 11. 13

5 1 Jn. 2, 22.

6 1 Jn. 4. 15.

7 1 Jn. 5. 9, 12.

Evans, Against Praxeas, 179.

vi. An analysis of Tertullian’s Christological and Trinitarian theology

The radical novelty of their historical faith and consequently of its historical impact required of the second and third century theologians that each invent a “new hermeneutic,” a coherent language capable of expressing a coherent free inquiry into the mystery revealed in Christ.  The invention of a hermeneutic is a matter of assigning new meanings to words long in use, borrowed from their cultural usage, by using them in the novel context of affirming the freedom of the truth of a historical revelation, a revelatory Event, which can only be received as Personal, as the mystery and the gift of Truth.  This Christian hermeneutic is always a refusal of the cosmological wisdom of the Greek mythical and philosophical tradition which, having denied the intelligibility of history, is unable to accommodate the freedom of the Truth revealed in Christ.  From the age of the Apostles, this was an oral hermeneutic; forged by the Apostles the needs of their encounter with the Christ, whom they began to understand to be the Lord by meeting him and hearing him speak of himself as the object of the promises and prophecies of the Old Covenant, assigning them a new significance by reason of their fulfillment in himself.  This message was heard be men who were themselves Jews; they could accept it only as the fulfillment of their own fidelity to the God of Abraham, of Jacob, of Isaac, of Moses.  Their following of Christ is foundational for the Christian hermeneutic, whose first task was to explain the fulfillment of the Old Covenant prophecies in Jesus the Lord.

The hermeneutical task of third-century theologians was simplified by their common commitment to the Spirit Christology of the Apostles, whose hallmark is the primordial pre-existence of Jesus Christ, the subject and the agent of his own Incarnation, first emphasized by Justin.  There is always a temptation to place what is heard in its former context, that of the cosmo­logical speculation of the pagan world, whose hallmark is a continuing quest for the necessary causes of the cosmos, the inhabited world.  Tertullian’s theological vocabulary offers a few clear instances of this borrowing; e.g., substantia.  This term possesses a very broad meaning in the Latin world, but it acquires new meanings in Tertullian’s theology, where it is used to designate what is one in God and two in the Christ.  Persona has usages in the pagan world whose origin is difficult to assess, and whose meaning yet more so.  Tertullian could hardly been ignorant of them, but they do not interest him.  He uses persona in its ancient liturgical sense, that of “name.”  To know a person is to know his name.  The identity of “name” and “person,” inescapable in daily experience, has critical significance in Chris­tol­ogy where Persona and substantia designate respectively what is one and what is two in Christ and, in Trinitarian theology, what is three and what is one in God.

Tertullian reaffirmed in Adversus Praxean 2, the divinity, humanity and Personal unity of Jesus Christ as set out in the Apologeticus 2.[146]  His concern was to defend the Christian tradition, and so was an affirmation of the faith of the Church rather than a speculative search for a deeper understanding of its mystery.  His refusal to submit the Christian faith to philosophy,[147] like his vehement defense of the full humanity, full divinity, and Personal unity of the Sermo, rests upon the apostolic tradition; he has no interest in theological method.  Famously the first to propose the substantiapersona paradigm in theology, he does so to underwrite the apostolic tradition, not to explain it.   Thus it is that, in the Apologeticus 21 and again in the Adversus Praxean 2, he identifies the Trinity as the single and indivisible absolute Divine Substance, comprising and constituted by three divine Persons, each of whom possesses Personally the fullness of that divine substantia.  Irreducibly distinct from each other but in a strict and unchangeable relation to each other, they constitute the substantial tri-unity of God, the Trinitas.  This is the doctrinal tradition challenged by Praxeas.  Tertullian draws out the implications of that tradition in his polemic against those who dispute it, but he does not attempt a speculative quaerens intellectum in the manner of Origen.

This hardly deprives his work of theological significance. The first four ecumenical Councils, like those after them, are similarly unconcerned for theology, and thereby affirm the challenged elements of the apostolic tradi­tion, which alone can ground the freedom of theological inquiry.  Tertul­lian’s terminology is not technical.  When Evans concludes that by substantia Tertullian intends a concrete individual thing, that term was a lexical commonplace long before Aristotle and the Stoics rationalized it.  Thus, when Tertullian using Persona to designate what is one in the Sermo, he means “his very self,” i.e., that which is named, that which is spontaneously recognized as incapable of categorization[148]  Evans further points out that Tertullian’s use of Persona to denote what is three in the Trinity suggested its equivalent, πρσωπον, to Greek theology, having prompted this Greek rendition by Hippolytus, although evidently too late to inform Origen’s Peri Archon.

Daniélou notes that both Braun and Moingt arrived at the same conclusion.[149] Evans’ assessment of Tertullian’s terminology has been supplemented by those of Moingt and Braun, which Daniélou has summarized.[150]

Daniélou’s summary of the highlights of this vocabulary begins with substantia, He repeats Réné Braun’s rejection of Evans’ supposed associa­tion of substantia with Aristotle’s “first substance) (πρωτ οσα), based upon Evan’s sic dicta “purely philosophical” use of substantia to impose an Aristo­­telian­ism upon Tertullian, which is hardly the case.  Evans under­stands Tertullian to use substantia to mean a concrete existing thing, which is merely the ordinary historical use of the word.  Tertullian does not attempt to develop its metaphysical import, although his realistic, i.e., historical, use of substantia to denote concrete unity, whether in Christology or in his Trin­itarian theology, has unavoidably metaphys­i­cal connotations.  However these are expressed in the major qualifications developed by Tertullian and unique to him: status, census, and gradus. Evans is well aware that none of these are the abstract categories of Aristotelianism.  All of them apply historically whether to substantia or to persona.

Evans refers to Aristotle’s πρωτ οσα as conveying the metaphysical significance of Tertullian’s substantia, viz., the immanent unity and indivisi­bility of a concrete object or thing (indivisum in se, divisum ab omni alio).  He recognizes the categorical implication of the Aristotelian πρωτ οσα. i.e., the predication of substance (δεύτερα οσα), but he does not thus understand Tertullian’s term: persona to be immune to categorization, for persons can only be named, and persona is not a name..  Again, this is only the ordinary meaning of the word.  Tertullian uses substantia in Chris­tology to designate the concrete humanity and the concrete divinity that unite in the mystery of the Person of Jesus the Christ.  In Trinitarian theology, he uses substantia to designate the absolute immaterial unity of the Trinitas.  In this he simply affirms the apostolic tradition which, oral before it was written, Evans is unlikely to have read as Aristotelian.  Tertullian’s interests are not spec­ulative, and substantia is little developed in his theology, except insofar as its use forces the development of an ancillary vocabulary of historical attributes of substantia and persona.  In recognizing Tertullian’s use of substantia to denote a concrete thing, Evan’s accepts, with Braun, the ordinary historical meaning of the word.  Tertullian’s Christological use of it, Una Persona, duae substantiae, invokes the Christian tradition.  In that historical context, substantia denotes the concrete unity and, in that sense, the metaphysical reality, the fullness of concrete humanity and of concrete divinity, in the Persona of Christ.  This use of duae substantiae anticipates by twenty years Origen’s union of duo hypostaseis, i.e., the human hypostasis of Jesus and the divine hypostasis of the Son, in the Henōsis who, from the Beginning, i.e., from the primordial Mission of the Son, is the primordial Jesus the Christ.  Origen was unaware of the Greek translation of Tertullian’s “Persona “as “Πρόσωπον” and, in its absence, used “ν” or “νωσις” to denote the Personal unity of Jesus the Christ.  Had he been acqainted with Tertullian’s use of  Persona, as rendered by Πρόσωπον, to desig­nate what is one in Jesus the Christ, much misunderstanding would have been avoided.  No one has thought diophysism inherent in Tertullian’s duae substantiae, una Persona Christology, nor would it have been thought inherent in Origen’s Christology, had he spoken of the unity of the duo hypostaseis as the mia Prosōpon who is the primordial Jesus Christ, rather than as the Henōsis of the Name of Jesus and the Name of the Son in the Name of Jesus the Christ.

Daniélou notes that for Tertullian, what is substantia is also corpus, in the sense of objective and real.  He applies corporeality to whatever is concretely actual, whether to flesh, body, soul, persons whether human or divine, and finally to the Trinity.  In his controversies with Gnostics, Tertullian sometimes uses corpus in the sense of flesh, intending to affirm in Christ what the Gnostics deny, “a certain continuum of soul and body,”

Daniélou proceeds next to Tertullian’s use of census, the reference of every substantia that has a beginning to the source of its beginning.  Census has no application to God the Father, who has no beginning.  For instance, the natural (i.e., fallen) man has his origin in Adam, until given a new origin (recenseatur) in Christ, the new Adam.  Tertullian applies census to Churches, whose authenticity and authority depends upon their uninter­rup­ted apostolic origin.  He applies it to the two substances of Christ; the human substance has its origin in the Virgin, and thus ultimately in Adam; the divine substance of course has its origin in God; he uses it also with respect to the genealogies of the Old and the New Testaments.  He used census only once with reference to the Trinity, to describe its origin as the ‘unfolding’ of the Trinity from its source in the Father: see endnotes 148 and 421, infra.  Finally, Tertullian uses census of the origin of evil in “the limitations of created freedom,” as in the fall of Lucifer.

The next term explained is status, which designates the relation of a substance to other substances, the objective fact of the relation, not as imposed ab extra but as intrinsic to each of them, inherent in its intrinsic intelligibility as substance.  “Each nature is something stable, and imposes a law on judgment, to judge it as it is.”  The use of this term to describe a factually stable situation is original with Tertullian.  It has a very broad range of application, for it underlies the stable intelligibility of the Trinity and the world.  Its Trinitarian application is of particular importance.  The status of God the Father is unique: as uncreated, eternal, without beginning or end, he alone has no census, no origin.  Immanent within the Trinity, i.e., the Principium of the Trinity, he possesses the fullness of divinity, but does so as ingenerate.  He is the source of the Trinity in that the Son is begotten by him and the Holy Spirit proceeds from him through the Son.  This divine status, the possession of the fullness of divinity, is proper to each Person of the Trinity; each possesses it uniquely (the Father as ingenerate, the Son as begotten, the Holy Spirit as poured out) in such wise that they differ not in their status, in their divinity, but in their gradus, in the order of relation that is their Trinitarian unity.

The last term Daniélou examines is gradus.  Tertullian’s Trinitarian use of gradus is equivalent to Greek apologists’ earlier use of τξις to designate the order of procession of the Persons within the Trinity.  Unfortunately, Tertullian’s use of “ordo” is insufficiently precise for that purpose.  Daniél­ou notes that Moingt’s index requires five pages to cover the range of meanings in Tertullian’s use of “ordo.”.

The coining of τρíας by Theophilus of Antioch to designate the unity of the divine substance recog­nized that the interrelation of the Father, Son and Spirit was not a subordination.  In the first place, he understood the τρíας to be immaterial, incapable of division; rather, it bespoke the liturgically estab­lished unity of Father, Son and Spirit, revealed by Jesus the Lord and affirmed in every liturgical celebration.

Athenagoras of Athens was the first to use τξις to describe their interrelation, (A Plea for Christians, X), as Tertullian was the first to use gradus.  Both have been charged with subordinationism, but subordination within the Trinity is an evident contradiction in terms, for it assumes the material division of the indivisible divinity.  The Trinitarian use of gradus to distinguish between the Father, Son and Spirit is most succinct in Adversus Praxean II, 4: “They are three, not by status, but by gradus.”

Other uses of gradus by Tertullian abound.  Daniélou insists that gradus “always points to a progressive series” and that in more precise applications, it indicates an “organic bond between the various data of the series.” (op. cit., 356).  It can refer to stages in spiritual progress, to progressive levels of sanctity.  Tertullian uses it to describe the progressive revelation from the Old Testament to the New, and the progressive revelation of the Father through the Son and the Spirit, whose liturgical reception is the inverse of the revelation of the Father, who is known only through the Holy Spirit given by the Son.

However, while Moingt and Braun have supplemented Evans’ survey, they offer no theologically significant corrective of it.  Particularly, Evans’ recognition of Tertullian’s strict association of “name” with “person” remains of the first importance to the understanding of his Christology and, manifestly, of his Trinitarian theology, to which the substantia–persona paradigm is crucial.

Nonetheless, following Moingt, Daniélou does not consider “persona” to form part of Tertullian’s Trinitarian vocabulary, noting that Moingt does not include that word in his index of the foundational elements, the “special categories,” framing Tertullian’s systematic exposition of the Trinity.  He has also excluded “census” outright; see endnote 421 infra.  Daniélou recognizes with Moingt that Tertullian is the first to use persona in Trinitarian theology, which leaves unexplained its absence from Moingt’s index.  Daniélou also agrees with Evans that Tertullian thus made the concept of ‘person’ available, as prosōpon, to the Hellenistic tradition.  However, he is less than clear on Tertullian’s use of persona, remarking that “It certainly does not coincide with what later theologians mean by the term persona” (at 364).  In fact, Evans has made it clear that Tertullian identifies “person” with the subject of naming.  This is the commonplace phenomeno­logical and historical use of the term.  While it does not correspond to Justin’s notion of the Naming of the Son as his relativization by his Absolute source, neither is there any reason that it should; Tertullian’s view of the Trinitarian economy places the unbegotten Source of the Trinity within the Trinity.  Daniélou thinks Moingt to have minimized the significance of persona in Tertullian’s Trinitarian theology because he believes the term to be linked to the manifestation of the Son and Holy Spirit via the economy of salvation rather than, more pertinently, to what he has named the “inner structure of the divine reality:” here Moingt invokes a reminiscence of the apophaticism of Gregory of Nyssa and, currently, of John Zizioulas. the Metropolitan of Pergamo.  Moingt argues that the real data concerning the internal structure of the Trinity in Tertullian’s writings must be sought in his use of such terms as substantia or forma rather than in his employment of words like persona or οκονομα.[151]. Moingt’s association of the “real data concerning the internal structure of the Trinity” with abstraction from the economy deprives the “data,” thus abstracted, of all historical application.  They are then without theological significance.  We know of the Trinity only by its economic revelation, from which no theology of the Trinity can pre­scind without depriving itself of an object.  The Catholic faith knows nothing of the Trinity in dissociation from the economy of salvation: viz., in dissociation from its revelation in Christ our Lord.[152].

When the Trinity is dealt with in abstraction from its revelation by Christ, which is to say, from the economy of salvation, it becomes imme­di­ately plastic, open to whatever reading may support an arbitrary ex parte interest.  Inevitably, having foregone as irrelevant the Church’s liturgical-doctrinal tradition of that revelation, the alternative is its nonhistorical rationalization, inevitably its accommoda­tion to the transla­tor’s personal persuasion, which cannot be considered theological in the Catholic sense of fides quaerens intellectum.  In a famous passage, Adversus Praxean 2, Tertullian employs such terms to give precision to his account of the reality of the Trinitarian Persons.

…they (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) are all of the one, namely by unity of substance, while none the less is guarded the mystery of that economy which disposes the unity into a trinity, setting forth Father, Son and Spirit as three, however not in quality but in sequence, not in substance but in aspect, not in power but in (its) manifestation, yet of one substance and one quality and one power, seeing it is one God from whom these sequences and aspects and manifestations are reckoned out in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Evans, Against Praxeas, 132.

However, at p. 50. Evans had observed that the meaning of this passage is hardly clear: ”A new examination of the terms seems necessary.”  Inas­much as no one has improved upon them in the past sixty years, the necessity for their reexamination is perhaps overdrawn.  But Daniélou is even less impressed by Tertullian’s exposition of the Trinity:

Tertullian does not manage to get beyond the combination of a modalism with regard to the distinctions of the individual persons and a subordinationism with regard to their existential plurality.

Daniélou, Latin Christianity, at 364.

Here Daniélou ignores Tertullian’s separation of the concrete Trinitarian Names within the indivisible unity of the divine substance, the Trinitas, and the application of Persona to those Names in Adversus Praxean 2, which is to say, he supposes Tertullian’s Trinitarian analysis, una substantia, tres personae, to have been annulled by his Stoicism.  In fact, Tertullian’s early iden­ti­fi­cation of substantia with trinitas excludes the alleged subordination­ism.  The Christology and Trinitarian theology of Tertullian’s masterwork, the Apologeticus, are the subject of the De Carne Christi and the De Resurrectione Carnis, which in the De Prescriptione Haereticorum he identifies with the apostolic tradition.  Tertullian’s foundational identify­cation of the divine substantia as Trinitas and his use of tres Personae to designate the Names who constitute the Trinitas are a permanent contribu­tion to the doctrinal tradition.  The Greek equivalent of Tertullian’s Trinitas, τρíας, had been used in a substantive sense by Theophilus of Antioch more than thirty years earlier.  In this connection, Evans introduces his discussion of Tertullian’s theological terminology with the observation that, while the expression “tres personae” does not appear in any of Tertullian’s works, it is clearly implicit in them, and Evans proceeds to develop that implication..[153]

Further; Tertullian’s Persona-substantiae distinction is not an attempt to solve the problem of the One and the Many in God.  Rather, it is a succinct summary of the Trinitarian faith, liturgically explicit in Mt. 28:19, in terms which do not compromise its historicity or its freedom.  Tertullian’ Christo­logi­cal and Trinitarian doctrine saved the Western Church from the futile cosmological attempts to provide for the antecedent possibility of the Incarnation which confused the Eastern Church until these concerns were sum­marily dismissed at the Council of Chalcedon.  Tertullian’s Christology was written into the Symbol of Chalcedon precisely as supportive of the Personal unity of Jesus as “the one and the same Son.”

Notably, Tertullian’s Apologeticus armed the Western Church against the modalism and adoptionism revived by Paul of Samosata fifty years later, whose memory troubled the Greek Church thereafter as though putting in issue the legitimacy of the Nicene use of “homoousios” to affirm the full divinity of Jesus the Christ.  It is in this doctrinal sense, proclamatory rather than explanatory, that Tertullian’s “persona-substantia” paradigm is as indispens­able to his Trinitarian doctrine as it is to his Christology.  Certainly the conservative third century Western tradition saw in his Trinitarian formula neither modalism nor subordinationism, but rather an emphasis on the distinction between the Trinitarian Persons which in their eyes threat­ened the divine unity.  Only the liturgical celebration of the Trinitarian Names sustains the faith in the concrete divinity and the irreducibility of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whose designation as “Persons” Tertullian, and the primitive Church, took for granted.  The liturgical celebration of their distinct Names in the unity of their Personal gradus (ordo, τξις) requires that the divine substance be the Trinitas.

The charge of subordinationism, whether latent or patent, in Tertullian’s Trinitarian doctrine is refuted by his subsequent denial of any division in the divine substance.  Such subordinationism is often attributed to the third century theologians, to Tertullian and to Hippolytus as well as to Origen.  It was rejected ca. 180, with Theophilus of Antioch’s definition of the divine substance as a τρíας, a Trinity, to be adapted over the next twenty years by Tertullian and Hippolytus, and then given a theological ratio by Origen.  It is not possible to be at once a Trinitarian and a subordinationist.  The foundation of the Trinitarian and Christological doctrine of Tertullian and of Hippolytus, and of Origen in his Peri Archon, is the Spirit Christol­ogy which as Evans has noted, (Adversus Praxean, 69), was practically universal until the latter fourth century.  It is presupposed by the affirmation by the Council of Nicaea of the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, and implicitly with the Holy Spirit, whom the Nicene Creed includes within the object of the Church’s Trinitarian faith.  Precisely this Personal consub­stantiality of the Persons of the Trinity with each other is required by Tertul­lian’s inclusion of the Father within the Trinity.  It is a point upon which he was never confused, for it is simply the apostolic tradition.  He never departed from the liturgically-mediated rule of faith, as is clear in his having from the outset understood the Father to be a member of the Trinity, which would not otherwise be a Trinity.  It is evident that the Father cannot be at once a member of the Trinitas, one of its three Persons, and be identified with it, as would be the case were the Father identified with the divine substance.  The doctrine of Headship, its nuclear statement in I Cor. 11:3, from its Christological application in Romans 5, and the further develop­ment of that Christology in Ephesians and Colossians, requires the head’s immanence in the substance of which he is the head.  This doctrine is implicit in the Trinitarian doctrine of Tertullian and Hippolytus, and begins to be explicit in Origen’s Peri Archon.  Origen invokes it in recognizing Christ’s headship of the fallen Church, but does not grasp the  universality of its application, i.e., that creation is in Christ, the immanent head of the universe, before the fall and after it.  Origen turns rather to the doctrine of the epinoiai (Wisdom, Word,) of the eternal Son to account for the intelligibility of creation.  Crouzel has noted the Platonic affinities of this doctrine which, given that creation is in Christ, constitutes a surd in Origen’s theology, for it cannot be integrated into its foundational synthesis of the divine Son and the human Jesus in the Henōsis who is the primordial Jesus Christ the Lord, as will be seen.

Tertullian’s Trinitarian doctrine of three Persons constituting the divine Trinitarian substance is radically Nicene and Chalcedonian.  His identify­cation of the divine substance as the Trinitas, and of the divine Persons as members of the substantial Trinitas, have no foundation in Stoicism nor in any other cosmological rationale.  They express Tertullian’s commitment to the faith of the apostolic Church.  His doctrine of the substantial Trinitas comprising tres Personae survived the Eusebian confusion pervading the Orient in fourth century simply because it is a free assertion of the faith grounded in and controlled by the Catholic liturgy, and therefore, while cosmologically indigestible, its orthodoxy is manifest in the adoption of his language by the Symbol of Chalcedon.  It is the foundation of the Nicene proclamation of the homoousios of the Son, the Christ sent by the Father to give the Spirit, with the Father and the Spirit. 

Tertullian produced no speculative theology; he was not interested in theory.  His apostolic Christology is the basis, the presupposition of his brilliant defense of the faith that Jesus is the Lord.  Affirmed by the first four Ecumenical Councils, it must follow that the apostolic Christology is foun­dational and criteriological for all authentic theological developments.  As had Justin Martyr, Tertullian accepted the universally-received cosmological identification of the divine Substance, the “Godhead,” with a single Self, a Monas, but he ignored its standing as the cosmological absolute and converted it to the Christian faith, making the Father to be a member of the Trinity: thus, while he is the source of the Son and the Spirit, the Father does not transcend them.[154]  Therefore the Father is the divine tota substantia, as the source from whom the Son and the Spirit proceed.  Thereby the Father, possessing the “plenitudo substantiae” is the source of the Trinity, but as immanent within it, not as transcending it.  This is the Pauline doctrine of the Father’s headship of the Trinity (I Cor. 11:3).

Thus it is only in his Mission of the Son, the primordial Jesus the Lord, that the Father is revealed to be the free source of the free unity that is the substantial Trinity, and that Jesus is revealed as the source of the free unity of redeemed free substance of humanity and thereby of the free unity of the universe he redeemed.  As the first Adam’s refusal of headship is the cause of the fall from the primordially good creation into the sarkic disintegration of the historical universe, its only possible unity is the free unity whose only source is the sacrificial institution of the One Flesh, the New Covenant, the redeemed universe, by the One Sacrifice of its immanent head, Jesus the Son, the Lord, the Christ.  The risen Jesus the Christ’s transcendence of the fallen but redeemed creation is his continually redemptive Eucharistic immanence within it as its head, consubstantial with the Father, and, as our head, consubstantial with us.  It is as Eucharisticaly present as at once the High Priest of the One Sacrifice and its Victim, the Lamb of God, that he is the Lord of history, its Alpha and its Omega, its Beginning and its End.

Within the pagan cosmology, “Father” is not understood to be a relative Name; it denotes rather the dominion of the monadic Deus unus over all that is not God.  The recitations of this divine dominion in the ancient mythol­ogies constitutes the foundational wisdom of the pagan cultures.  The Greeks understood themselves in the light of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and the myths collected by Hesiod in his Works and Days.  With the “invention of the mind,” i.e., the waning of the uncritical mimetic culture ca. 500 B.C., there arose a leisured clerisy whose leisure prompted a personal quaerens intellectum into the mimetic presentation of the divine, and, eo ipso, a personal dissociation from the uncritical cultic mimesis, the liturgical inculcation of the pagan mythic wisdom via the poetic tradition against whose anti-intellectualism Plato railed.

This emergence of self-consciousness was of course gradual.  It may be significant that it took place in the colonial milieu of southern Italy, a locale remote from the influence of the major temples of the Greek mainland.  The new wisdom did not at all discard the old, the mythos in terms of which the people of the mimetic cultures knew their world, but rather retained it in submitting the poetic mediation of the mythos, its liturgical recital or anamnesis, to a criticism which assumed the superiority of rational object­tivity over uncritical interiorization of the poetic anamnesis of the mimetic wisdom of the myth.

It is not possible to determine the initial moments of this process:  It may have had its source in the number-mysticism of the Pythagoreans, which raised the problem of the one and the many, and perhaps underlay the Two Ways of Parmenides, who in choosing the way of reason over that of concrete experience locked reason into a radical monism.  The rational quaerens intellectum was thereafter baffled by the insoluble problem of synthesizing ‘the one and the many.’  Its earliest expression, apart from the number mysticism of the Pythagoreans, is Heracles’ aphoristic rejection of the static monism of the Eleatics, i.e., Parmenides and Zeno, in favor of a cosmos constituted by an irrational flux.  A century and a half later Plato managed to combine the two, assigning irrational dynamism to the realm of history, and rational permanence to the ideal Forms.  This conformed to the ancient mythos, which universally identified the divine transcendence of the one God, the Monas, with his absolute absence from history, a polarity realized in the ‘sky god,” the deus otiosus, the ‘lazy god,’ who is nonetheless the cosmic Father, the cause of the universe.  This incongruity was exploited by the Eleatics, whose logic required the transcendence of the One while denying the rationality of a “many.”

The Greek Apologists, i.e., Justin Martyr, Theophilus of Antioch and Athenagoras of Athens, were the first to recognize that the apostolic tradi­tion of Jesus’ revelation of the Father required that this Name, “Father,” have a relative, i.e., not absolute, priority over the Son and the Holy Spirit, a relation that Tertullian terms gradus, i.e., “There is no suggestion of a scale of values.  Gradus indicates simply an order of succession.[155]  Its Trini­tarian application states only the order of the procession from the Father of the Son and the Holy Spirit; it excludes an absolute priority of substance in the Father.  Rather, the Father’s priority is that of the immanent Source, not simply of the Son and the Spirit, but of the Trinitarian Substance, of which he is a member, as the Source, the Head, the Begetter, thus the Father, of the Son, and the Source of the Holy Spirit, and thereby of the Trinity.  This constitutes the radical mystery of the faith.

Tertullian’s insight into the Trinitarian Godhead includes at least one recognition of the Pauline doctrine of headship (I Cor. 11:2-16).[156]  Accord­ing to Paul, the Father is the head of the Trinity, the Son is the head of all men (παντς νδρς; i.e., all husbands) in that he is the source of the primordially free unity of the human substance in which he subsists, as the husband is the source of the free nuptial community in which as head he subsists.  This office of the head, as the source of the free unity of the substance in which he subsists, is revealed to be proper to headship as such, whether it be the Father’s headship of the Trinity, Jesus’ headship of the human substance, or the husband’s headship of substantial nuptial unity of husband wife in marriage, or Jesus’ offering of the One Sacrifice, by which those consubstantial with him are given the freedom to be free.  The head is always consubstantial with the members of the substance in which he, as head, subsists, which members, given their Trinitarian imaging, cannot be less than three: e.g., husband, wife, and their covenantal bond.  Tertullian’s radical insight into the Trinity, whose unity is that of una substantia, and whose plurality that of tres personae, has its foundation in the apostolic faith of the Church.  It has no other possible basis, and Tertullian looked for none, contemptuous of the Gnostic assaults upon it.  Neither could the quasi-monadic rationalization of the Monarchy divine unity by the conservative Bishops of Rome in the early third century long resist Tertullian’s insight into what is One and what is Three in God;  His insistence upon the objective distinctions between the Names integral to the baptismal affirma­tion of the apostolic faith in the One God was invincible, and prevailed.

Tertullian’s failure to distinguish between the eternal begetting of the Son and the outpouring of the Spirit, and their historical Missions, does not reduce his Trinitarian doctrine to the “economic  Trinitarianism” formerly attributed to the Apologists and to him as well.  His acceptance, in Adversus Praxean 5, of a version of Justin’s notion of a Father whose eternity is prior to his paternity, is archaic; Hippolytus had much the same notion of a Father who pre-exists his begetting of the Son.  In Adversus Praxean 5, Tertullian supposes the Sermo be immanent in the Father as his Reason or Wisdom and, in an impersonal sense, as co-eternal with the Father as the pre-condition  of the Father’s utterance of that Word (Sermo) which he is his begetting of the Son.  However, unlike Justin, Tertullian places the Father within the Trinity, a concept probably unknown to Justin, whose Apologies do not mention the Holy Spirit; although mentioned in his Dialogue with Trypho, the mention of Holy Spirit is not within a Trinitarian context.

Inasmuch as here Tertullian linked the objective or Personal distinction between the Word (Sermo) and the Father, to the Father’s begetting of the Son as Sermo, it would follow that, as the Father’s Reason (Ratio), immanent in the Father ab aeterno, his eternal unity with the Father, as Ratio, is prior to his begetting, the Father’s utterance of his Ratio as Sermo, as the eternal is prior to the primordial (for Tertullian makes no distinction between the Begetting and the Mission of the Sermo).  However, this consideration assumes, following Justin, an absolute cosmic God whom Tertullian, unlike Justin, identifies with the immanent Principium (Begin­ning) of the Trinity.  There, as eternally begetting the Son and, through the Son, pouring out the Holy Spirit, he is Named “Father” by the Son: because, as thus Named, he is no longer absolute.  Possessing the fullness of the divinity (tota substantia) and having no Personal Principium (census), the Father is the unique and eternal cause of the Trinity by his begetting of the consubstantial Son, whose source (Principium) he is.  Through his begetting of the Son he is also the unique Principium of the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father through his begetting of the Son.  Personally possessing the fullness of divinity, the Father is the eternal source of that fullness possessed by the Son and the Spirit, whose Personal possession of it is nonetheless irreducibly distinct from his, by reason of being received, caused.  By reason of their distinct modes of their reception of the fullness of divinity from the Father, i.e., the Son as begotten, the Holy Spirit as poured out, they are irreducibly, i.e., Personally, distinct from that of each other, as they are from the Father, their source.  We may see here a recognition of the relativity of “Person” which Augustine will develop in the De trinitate, although Amphilocius had suggested it much earlier.

It is thus that the discourse in Adversus Praxean 5, intimating a quasi-temporal priority “ad usque filii generationem” of the Father to the Son, the Sermo does not touch the Trinitarian doctrine set out in the Apologeticus.  Justin had simply accepted and thereafter ignored the subordinationism inherent in his notion of the Naming of Jesus by the absolute, the unnamable Godhead, for he understood that Naming to be the grant of unqualified power over the entire economy of salvation to Jesus, who by his Naming is less than the Father, relative rather than absolute, and only thereby is capable of immanence in history.  Tertullian’s attribution of substantia to the Trinitas finessed the cosmological quandary posed by the Absolute Father’s “naming” of the Son, Jesus the Christ, simply by transforming Justin’s grant of absolute standing to the Father, that of the Monad, into the immanent Head (Κεφλ, Caput) of the Trinity. 

Nonetheless, Tertullian has been thought, as by Evans, as also  by Daniélou and Quasten, to have accepted a diminished divinity in the Son and the Holy Spirit, in that as each has a “portio” of the Father’s “plenitudo substantiae;” each is a “derivatio totius.”  Insofar as Stoic, Tertullian’s vocabulary and doubtless his imagination is materialist.  To a degree, this is a human commonplace.  There are too many passing references by scholars such as J. N. D. Kelly and R. P. C. Hanson to the “sharing” by the Son and the Holy Spirit in divinity of the Father to permit hasty judgments upon Tertullian’s Trinitarian orthodoxy based on a comparably literal reading of his Stoic hermeneutic. Aloys Grillmeier argues that Tertullian’s use of “portio” is not to be translated as “part.”[157]  In this he is certainly correct, for Tertullian also refers to the Trinitarian substance as indivisible.[158].  We are dealing here rather with Tertullian’s attempt to account for the Personal distinctions within the context of the corporeality which he insists is inseparable from the substantial unity of the Trinitarian God.  Something of the same problem would confront the Cappadocian Trinitarian speculation, nearly two centuries later, when Basil’s, (or Gregory of Nyssa’s) 38th Letter attempted to establish a Trinitarian vocabulary of ousia and hypostasis.  Doubtless it owed nothing to Tertullian; further, it ignored the impact of Origen’s far more perceptive Trinitarian use of the same ousia-hypostasis language.  Tertullian had not in fact anticipated Basil’s Trinitarian use of  substantia and Persona, for Basil was still in the homoiousian camp, as was Gregory of Nyssa.  The 38th Letter, “whoever was its author” (Kelly, Doc­trines, 268) was written under the influence of the Eusebian subordin­a­tion­ism, as is evident in its generic interpretation of “ousia,” which implies the same subordinationism that Evans and Daniélou would attach to Tertullian’s use of “portio.”

We may interpret “portio” and the like in conformity with the Trinitarian doctrine in the Apolo­geticus, i.e., as designating the relation of the divine substantiae to the divine Personae: summarily, una Substantia in tribus personis; the distinction between the Personal unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within the Substantia of the Trinity, the One God.  It is to the Father, the Principium, the Beginning, the uncaused cause, the Head of the Trinity, that the Plenitudo belongs and, to each of the Persons proceeding from him, belongs a portio, a full possession, of that plenitude, the Father’s Personal divinity.  This would entail a subordination of the Son and the Spirit were not the Father, as the head of the Trinity, thereby a member of it.  He is its cause, but as immanent within it as its Source, not as constituting it.  This decisive insight into the Mysteriun fidei rules out any subordinationist division of the Trinity such as may be thought implicit in such terminology as “portio” and ‘derivatio totius,;” that inference is at odds with Tertullian’s use of “substantia,” with its connotation of indivisibility, to name what is One in God, and of “tres Personae” to designate what is plural in the unity of the divine Substantia, viz., the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.  The use of “Godhead” to name the Trinity is imprecise; it can evoke the Personifi­cation, as its Head, of the divine Substantia, as has been seen; see Volume III, endnote 2.

Tertullian, like Origen, places the tota substantia in the Father as the Source of the Trinity, perhaps simply because the Father could not give the fullness of divinity to the Son and the Holy Spirit if he did not possess it.  However, what the Father gives, in his begetting of the Son and outpouring of the Holy Spirit who proceeds from him through the Son, is his own Personal possession, as a member of the Trinity, of the Personal fullness of divinity.  As the Head of the Trinity, he is its cause, but not in the subordina­tions sense easily read into the language of tota substantia and derivatio substantiae.  The Father is not the substantia, the Trinity, nor does he transcend the Trinity as its cause, for as its Head he is immanent within it.  The Trinity is uncaused as Absolute; the Father is uncaused relative to the Son and the Spirit for; as the Head of the Trinity, he is the immanent source of its free unity.  Beyond the Church’s affirmation of the elements of that foundational mystery, theology cannot go.

Tertullian’s attribution to the Father of tota substantia in Adversus Praxean 5 is an echo of his debt to Justin, who understands the Father as the Absolute, the Unnameable, immobile and incapable of historicity who, in sending the Son into the world does so by Naming him.  As Named, he is relative to the Absolute, less than absolute, over against the Absolute unname­able, immobile, one God who, as absolute, is incapable of imman­ence in relativities of history.  For this, he, the Absolute, requires an emissary, by whose Naming Jesus the Son, the Lord, is relative, therefore exists, and to whom, as Named, as relative, the Absolute assigns the govern­ance of the economy, the creation whose reality is the product of the Father’s Naming of the Son.

Tertullian does not recognize, much less resolve, the tota substantia dilemma; he toys with it in Adversus Praxean 5, but clearly cannot take it seriously, for from the outset, in the Apologeticus and again in the Adversus Praxean, he understands the Father to be a member of the Trinity, even if as its Source.  It may be taken as read that Tertullian’s unchanged commitment to the Spirit Christology controls his Trinitarian doctrine, thus rendering it equally unchangeable.  He accepts without question the absolute unity of God, and the Personal divinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:  He affirms and defends the full humanity and the full divinity of Jesus the Lord, as a truth of the faith beyond dispute, upon whose paradoxes he is fond of dwelling, as in the De Carne Christi. So also he upholds the Father as the source, the Archē, of the Son and the Spirit.  Having referred to the Father as potestas, as plenitudo substantiae, as tota substantiae, and having stressed the distinct divinity of the Son and the Spirit, he may appear to have left the divine substance in paradoxical, appar­ently subordinationist stance, but all possibility of that inference is directly countered by his explicit denials of a lesser divinity in the Son and the Spirit, as well as by the indivisibility of the divine Substance.[159]  The Son and the Spirit are each distinct Persons: distinct from each other and from the Father from whom they proceed.  They are divine Persons per substantiae propri­ata­tem, which is to say, intrinsically and objectively. We follow Evans closely here:[160]

In a curious aside within a discussion of Athanasius’ Christology, Grillmeier refers to a quasi-Apollinarian Christology as one of “appropria­tion after the manner of the communicatio idiomatum” (Aloys Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradi­tion, Vol. One: From the Apostolic age to Chalcedon (451); Second Revised edition, translated by John Bowden (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975) [hereafter Christ in Christian Tradi­tion I]; Vol. Two, Part One: From Chalcedon to Justinian I: Reception and Contradiction. Tr. Pauline Allen & John Cawte (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1975), [hereafter, Christian Tradition II/1].  See Christian Tradition II/1, at 313. 

The communication of idioms in Christ is founded on his Personal unity.  Contra Grillmeier, the communication of idioms has no application in the Apollinarian Christology wherein Jesus’ human historicity is “appropriated” by a non-historical Logos-hegemonikon to form, not a Personal unity, but a theandric monas whose monophysite unity cannot support the communi­ca­tion of idioms whereby Mary is the Theotokos.  This mistake may explain Grillmeier’s willingness to associate Tertullian’s supposedly krasis (κρᾶσις) Christology with the communication of idioms, for Grillmeier’s use of the term does not rest on or imply a Personal unity in Christ.

As Evans has stressed, Tertullian knew from the apostolic tradition that the Apostles encountered Jesus as a Person, as a man to be Named, to be addressed, to be followed, to be loved, adored:  The dilemma, inescapable when the subject of the Incarnation is dehistoricized, viz., when it is no longer Jesus who “becomes flesh,” but rather the pre-human Logos who becomes man, is foreign to Tertullian’s basic Christological insight into the Personal unity of the Logos of the Prologue of the Gospel of John, the pre-existent Jesus the Christ of Phil. 2:6-7, the Son of Mary as well as of the Father.

Tertullian’s dropping of the Christological use of “homo-deo mixtus” which he used in Apologeticus 21:14, from the Christology of the Adversus Praxean (xxii, 8) confirms the foundational substantia-Persona Christological analysis of the Apologeticus, the anticipation of the doc­trine of Chalcedon whose Symbol. as has been seen, confirmed Tertullian’s emphasis upon the perdurance of the distinction between the two natures of Jesus in their unqualified Personal union.

Grillmeier disagrees: see Christ in the Christian Tradition I, 128-31.  He maintains the “mixtus-krasis” of Apologeticus. 21:14 to be Ter­tul­lian’s basic insight into the unity of Jesus the Christ.  His analysis relies upon a sharp distinction between the abstract generality of the Stoic hypokeimenon and its material realization in the ultimate individual concreteness of the idia poiotes (divine nature), which he assumes to be Tertullian’s Sermo or Persona. However, a krasis,(κρσις) a mixture, cannot be the ultimate indi­vi­dual concreteness of Jesus the Lord.  That uniqueness can only be Personal, the unity of his Name, a unity beyond all composition, beyond all metaphysical analysis.  Further, the identification of “person” with the ultimate individua­tion of the Stoic hypokeimenon must leave open the question of whether the humanity of Jesus is Personal.  However, Grillmeier maintains that Tertul­lian cannot be supposed to have intended to resolve that issue by ascribing the notion of persona to the Christ, thus anticipating Chalcedon.  Instead, he supposes him to be intent rather upon upholding the duality of each substance (the divine and human natures) in Jesus (the idia poiotes), rather than upon “explaining” the unity in Christ of Personal divinity and Personal humanity.

It is quite true that Tertullian was not intent upon explaining Jesus’ unity: he simply affirms it to be Personal: therefore to be Named, not explained.  The Person of Jesus is the Mysterium capitis, Mysterium fidei, to be affirmed or denied, but never explained.  Whoever seeks an explanation of Jesus’ Personal unity in terms of showing its prior possibility thereby denies the mystery, and is left as here with abstractions whose radical incoherence has no historical resolution .

Evidently it is on the basis of Tertullian’s failure to explain the myster­ious unity of the Christ that Grillmeier concludes that his una persona, duae substaniae is not an anticipation of the Chalcedonian ascription of Personal unity to Jesus─although for that matter, neither does the Chalcedonian Symbol offer an “explanation” of Jesus Personal unity; we have seen that it is much criticized for this supposed failure to justify its affirmation, seven times repeated, of his Personal unity.  In sum, Grillmeier concludes, contra Ernest Evans, that Tertullian understood the unity of Christ in terms of the Stoic notion of krasis.  He is not alone in this opinion:

If Tertullian does not interpret the unity 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, which knows of a mixtio or total mutual penetration (compenetratio) of solid bodies which retain their connatural characteristics in the process.

This has been demonstrated by R. Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., (see La Christologia di Tertulliano (Paradosis xviii) Fribourg 1962).

Grillmeier, Christian Tradition I, at 129; see footnote 76.

Grillmeier’s citation of his own footnote to bolster Cantalamessa’s authority is rather too much of a stretch; it can hardly be taken seriously.  In place of his use of “demonstrated,” we may then read “argued,” “proposed,” “asserted,” and so on, without prejudice to Fr. Cantalamessa, whose work Grilllmeier here cites but does not quote. 

Against Grillmeier’s dismissal of Tertullian’s affirmation of the Personal unity of Christ―which is hardly that of a “solid body” to be constituted by a krasis,[161] stands Tertullian’s repeated association of ‘name’ with ‘person;’ and his assurance that the human community is a single substance, constitu­ted by the descendents of Adam and Eve.  For Tertullian, substances, whether divine or human, spiritual or material, are not ‘named’; rather, they are designated, as by “Trinitas” for the substantial One God.  The Trinitarian Names are the Members of the community constituted by their free Personal intercommunion.  Directly, the Trinitarian community, the ”perichōresis” of a later theologi­cal development, is simply the Trinity in its free circuminces­sion; analogously, it is also the created human image of the Trinity, the primordially good creation “in the Beginning,” i.e., in Christ, of the human substance in its free nuptial unity, the perichōresis of the man, the woman, and the bond of mutual love, that is the human imaging of the Trinity. 

Grillmeier’s preoccupation with the abstract meaning of the Stoic hypokeimenon, viz., “as a single generality existing not in itself but precisely only in concrete manifestations” as contrasted with the meaning of persona which, derived from a passage from Irenaeus’ Adversus Haeres­es, he under­stands to have “the meaning of concrete, ultimate form, of ultimate individualization, over against a single generality existing not in itself but only in concrete manifestations. (op. cit., at 128).  His application of that abstraction to his Christology eliminates not only the Personal unity of the Christ, but also the substantial unity of the Triune God, as well as of the humanity constituted by the created progeny of our first parents.  The inco­herent Stoic cosmology recognizes reality only in the individual concre­tizations of the hypokeimenon.  However, insofar as the radical “subject of attribution,” the hypokeimenon, is understood “as a single generality existing not in itself but precisely only in concrete manifestations,” it is a pure abstrac­tion, like the Aristotelian and Thomist “second substance.”  As the “substratum” that is logically prior to all general, specific and individual concretizations, it corresponds to the Aristotelian-Thomist materia in commune, again an abstraction, devoid of concrete existence.

The Logos (Sermo) already has a peculiar reality, a status, a persona, in God. As a result of his assumption of a 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 wish to bring 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 find the statement: “Videmus duplicem statum, non confusum sed conjunctum in una persona, deum et hominem Jesus.”  The ‘conjunctum in ‘una persona’ may not therefore be interpreted in such a way that it already provides the explanation of the manner of the conjunction of God and man in Christ.  The way  in which Tertullian conceives of this is to be discovered 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 prosopon,  In other words, the Chalcedonian problem of the relationship of nature and person has yet to present itself.  Tertullian does not yet in in fact have the explicit Christological formula of the ‘una persona, duae naturae, duae substantia’, though he seems to be only a step from it.  He is primarily 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.

If Tertullian does not interpret the unity 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 connatural characteristics in the process.

76. This has been demonstrated by R. Cantalamessa, op. cit., 135-150

Grillmeier, Christian Tradition I, 129-30.

On the basis of this detailed interpretation of Tertullian’s Christology, it is impossible to dissociate Grillmeier’s flawed reading of Tertullian from his evident approval of the Christology of St. Thomas, whose ascription of persona composita to Jesus resonates with Tertullian’s withdrawal from his early application of the krasis doctrine to resolve the duality of substances into Jesus’ concrete Personal unity, which krasis cannot do.  Although in that mixture the divine and human substances remain distinct, their resolu­tion within the unity of a Personal Name is impossible to explain, for that unity is precisely the Mysterium fidei, which no cosmological rational­ity, Stoic or otherwise, can address.  Grillmeier immed­iately assumes that Tertullian accepts the Thomist notion of an “assumption of human nature” by the eternal Son who, as “Godhead,” is abstract from all that is historical.

Having misunderstood the communication of idioms as quasi-Apollin­arian, i.e., as Monophysite, as composite rather than Personal, Grill­meier admits Tertullian’s concern for the communication of idioms in our Lord, but he does not recognize that the mystery of the Personal unity of the Lord Jesus is the sole possible foundation for the communication of idioms which, like the Personal consubstantiality with the Father which it implies, can only be Personal, for it rests finally upon the Personal homoousion of Jesus at once with the Father and with every human person.  It has its first dogmatic expression in the Ephesian doctrine of Mary’s motherhood of God, the Formula of Union which taught her Son’s consubstantiality with her, and consequently “with us.”  It received its definitive dogmatic affirmation in the Chalcedonian doctrine that Jesus subsists in the Trinity, whereby he is homoousios with the Father and the Spirit, and that he subsists in the human substance, whereby he is homoousios “with us,” as “one and the same Son, thus relating the Symbol of Chalcedon to the earliest patristic affirmation of the Personal unity of Jesus the Lord.  It is not for nothing that Tertullian’s Christological idiom was adopted by the Chalcedonian Symbol, nor is it surprising that the Thomist theology cannot accept the Chalcedonian defini­tion of Jesus’ consubstantiality with us.

For St. Thomas, and for Grillmeier, “Jesus” does not Name a human Person; rather, “Jesus” Names the eternal Son, whom Grillmeier understands to be the one God.  It must then follow that, because homoousios is a Personal attribute of Jesus, he cannot be consubstantial “with us.”  It must further follow that Mary is not the Theotokos for, as a human person, she would not be consubstantial with her non-human divine Son, who, as consubstantial only with the Father, can have no consubstantial mother.  These implications of the denial of the communication of idioms in Jesus the Lord do not need discussion.  Boethius has dealt with them in his Contra Sermonem Eutychii et Nestorii, cited in Volume 3, endnote 1: see §§4-6, where he links them as consequent upon the same error:

I must now pass to Eutyches who, wandering from the path of primitive doctrine, has rushed into the opposite error and asserts that so far from our having to believe in a two-fold Person in Christ, we must not even confess a double Nature; humanity, he maintains was so assumed that the union with Godhead involved the disappearance of the human nature.  His error springs from the same source as that of Nestorius.  For just as Nestorius deems there could not be a double nature unless the Person were doubled, and therefore, confessing the double Nature in Christ has perforce believed the Person to be double, so also Eutyches deemed that the nature was not double unless the Person was double, and since he did not confess a double Person, he thought it a necessary consequence that the Nature should be regarded as  single.  Thus Nestorius, rightly holding Christ’s Nature to be double, sacrilegiously holds the Persons to be two, whereas Eutyches, rightly holding the Person to be single, impiously believes the Nature also to be single.  And being confuted by the plain evidence of the facts, since it is clear that the Nature of God is different from that of man, he declares his belief to be: two Natures in Christ before the union and only one after the union.  Now this statement does not express clearly what he means.

Boethius.  Theological Tractates with an English translation by H. E Stewart, D.D., and E. K. Rand, Ph.D. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; London: William Heinemann Ltd; 1962), Contra Eutychen, V, p. 101.[162]

Tertullian concludes his Christological argument apodictically, appealing to the doctrine of the communcation of idioms latent in Jn. 3:13:

Non ascendit in caelum, nisi qui de caelo descendit.

This is the apostolic tradition, the Spirit Christology of the Apostolic Fathers, explicit in the ancient exegesis of Lk. 1:35, wherein the Spirit who descends upon the Virgin after her fiat mihi is Jesus, her Lord, her Bride­groom.

Evans considers it indisputable that the basis for Tertullian’s attribution of “Person” to the Son is the Apostles’ experience of Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Father: he was encountered by the Twelve in his Personal unity, as the Lord Jesus, sent by the Father, and the Revelation of the Father.  It is thus that Tertullian’s application of the substantia-persona paradigm to Christology assigned Jesus the unity of one Person, in whom the divine and human natures (substantiae) are at one, yet as distinct and without confu­sion, each an irreducible and indispensable foundation of the actions of the God-man who is Jesus.  Incidentally, it is inaccurate to regard the divine and human substances in the Person of Christ as principia quo of his redemptive actions.  Although in se the substantiae are impersonal, they are not accidental perfections of the Son, not faculties, so to speak, for they are constitutive of his Person, as accidents cannot be, whether proper or predicamental.  “Person,” whether said of Jesus or of those consubstantial with him, is utterly simple, uncomposite, capable of designation only by Name, incapable of categorical assessment, predication, or analysis.

Tertullian’s understanding of the Sermo, the Word, is that of the Apostles and the Apostolic Fathers: the Sermo is the primordially integral Person, human and divine, who is the subject of the Incarnation and the kenōsis.  Tertullian’s adherence to the apostolic tradition relieves him of the insoluble problem of accounting for Jesus’ Personal unity―which Grillmeier accurately states he did not attempt to explain―for his Personal unity is simply the historical fact, the Mysterium fidei, the absolutely free Event which founds Tertullian’s theology.  To repeat: this “problem” of provid­ing the explanation of Jesus Personal unity can only be cosmo­logically posed: it has no properly theological existence, for it is not historical; rather, it is a cosmological descent into the ancient enigma of “the one and the many.”

Tertullian relies entirely upon the apostolic tradition of the Apostles’ historical experience of the historical Jesus the Lord.  Basically, their spontaneous recognition that Jesus is concretely, historically, here and now, the Lord, the God-man.  His Name, Jesus, is at once human and divine, the Mysterium fidei for which it is neither necessary nor possible to account.  His Personal unity is the radical doctrinal datum, on which all the rest depends, and no theologian of the Catholic tradition may put it in issue.  The apostles’ personal experience of Jesus as Lord is the ground, entirely historical, upon which Tertullian distinguishes Jesus’ Personal unity from the Personal duality of his human and divine Names: Jesus the Lord is una Persona, duae substantiae.  Tertullian’s Christology is thus specified by the apostolic recognition of the Name, the Personal unity, of Jesus the Lord.  The Eucharistic celebration of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is the historical foundation of the Latin Christology, which was not interested in the nonhistorical speculation which in the next century trapped the Greek theologians who followed Eusebius of Caesarea’s refusal of the liturgical authority of the Council of Nicaea. .

It is important to note that Tertullian took for granted the substantial unity of humanity as implicit in the creation accounts, in Gen. 1 and 2, of Adam and Eve, our progenitors.[163]  We have stressed that his insight into the created unity of humanity, also common to the Apologists, is indispensable to any theological entry into the Church’s faith in the Lordship of Jesus, a Lordship which is eo ipso his headship of the humanity whose source he is and which is created in him. (I Cor. 11:2-16,; Eph. 2:10; Col. 1:15ff.)  Tertullian’s supposition of the substantial unity of humanity was vindicated in the Ephesian and Chalcedonian doctrine of Jesus’ consubstantiality with us, which precisely requires the substantial unity of the human community, quite as his consubstantiality with the Father and the Spirit requires the substantial unity of the one God, the divine community that is the Trinity.

Tertullian insisted that the divine and the human substances in Christ continue to be distinct while united in the unity of his Una Persona.  Even in the midst of his argumentative concession to the Monarchian aberration in Adversus Praxean 27, he affirmed the Personal unity of Jesus Christ, God and man, and continued to affirm it, throughout the next chapter of that work.  His lucid statement of the irreducible persona-substantia distinction between what is one and what is two in the historical Jesus the Lord so influenced the Roman tradition that it was untroubled by theological controversies consequent upon Eusebian dehistoricization of the Word, the Christ, which in the following century divided the Church in the East.  Tertullian’s insistence upon the historical Personal unity of the Sermo, the one and the same Son, the Jesus the Lord, prevailed over the dehistoricizing dynamic inherent in his ad hoc rejection of it in his dispute with the Monarchion, Praxean, who knew no Trinity, no Personal distinctions in God, and could be contended with only on that basis.

Étienne Gilson famously observed of such dehistoricized scenarios that upon a painted hook one can hang only a painted hat: in brief, there is no rational escape from an abstract point d’appui.  If not foregone entirely, it must fragment all it touches in its futile but inexorable quest for immanently necessary rational unity.  The only unity the creation that is in Christ can know is free.  The sole foundation for Catholic theology, the sole “Beginning” of the Church’s faith, and therefore of theological enterprise which would explore its mysteries, is the irreducible Personal unity of the historical Christ, whose free historicity is that of the “whole Christ,” the second Adam who is immanent in history by the nuptial freedom of his union in One Flesh with the second Eve, instituted by the Event of the One Sacrifice, offered by the Lord Jesus on the Altar and on the Cross, inseparably.

Only the historical Event of the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus can ground the project which Tertullian undertook in the Apologeticus, the justifica­tion of the divinity of Jesus, of the Church’s faith that Jesus is the Lord.  The supposition that his Apologeticus posits a “common ground” upon which the Christian and the non-Christian can discuss and debate the objective rationality of the Christian faith in the divinity of Jesus, as though together sharing a common rationality, is illusory; between contradictories there can be no common ground.[164]

Tertullian knew this well: his ironic question: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem, or the Academy with the Church?” recognized the concrete alienation of its pagan addressees from the free truth of Christ, the mystery of faith, which can be affirmed only in faith, but not “explained:” i.e., not subordinated to the immanent necessities of fallen rationality.[165] The Apologeticus addresses precisely that pagan audience, those Roman officials charged with the persecuting Christians simply as such.

Tertullian’s basic Christological insight is that of the Johannine Gospel and  the Pauline Letters, whose foundational postulate is the historical unity of the Lord Jesus, which can only be Personal.[166]  The earliest post-apostolic expression of this faith is homiletic: we find it in Clement of Rome’s Letter to the Corinthians, and in the Seven Letters to the Churches of Ignatius Martyr; both presuppose the “Spirit Christology” of the Apostles, affirmed by Irenaeus, Tertullian,  Hippolytus, and Origen, and by the Councils of Nicaea, I Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon.  Tertullian, like Ignatius Martyr, knew this Person, the Lord Jesus, to be at once divine and human, a conviction systematized in his strict association of “name” with “person;” viz.: to be a person is to have a name, and what is named is personal.  Jesus has a name, “Son,” which Irenaeus was the first explicitly to assert to be proper to him as at once man and as God: Jesus is “one and the same Son.”  For Tertullian as well, Jesus is one and the same Son: he knows Mary to be his mother, and God to be his Father, This Personal unity is of course the direct implication of the earliest confession of the Church’s faith: Jesus is Lord.  His Personal unity is unqualified; and therefore mysterious, at once true and incapable of explanation by inquiry into its presumed conditions of its possibility.

Jesus’ unity as thus Personal cannot be a composition of natures.  As has been seen, this is the mistake of St. Thomas, who understood the unity of Jesus to be that of an Apollinarian “persona composita.” At first, so it may seem, did Tertullian:

The expression homo deo mixtus, repeated at De Carne Christi 15 (and cf. ibid., 3, deum in hominem conversum), was afterwards (Adv. Prax. 27) withdrawn as misleading and hominem indutus (which had already occurred De Carne Christi 3) substituted for it, though it is evident from the context in each case that Tertullian’s meaning is the same whichever expression he uses.

Evans, On the Incarnation, viii,

See Evans, ibid., at 62, for further commentary upon Tertullian’s use of a “homo-deo mixtus” idiom in Apologeticus 21, 14, and again in De Carne Christi 15, to describe the union of divinity and humanity in the Person of Jesus.  Evans notes that Tertullian’s withdrawal of the “homo deo mixtus” did not mark a change of mind: he dismissed it as unsuitable, even mislead­ing,, but not as inaccurate. This is clear from the brief excerpt supra.

The “homo deo mixtus”is clearly ill-suited to Tertullian’s basic insight into the substantial duality and the Personal unity of Jesus, an utterly simple and unique historical unity incapable of constitution by a “mixtio” in him of human and divine “substances” nor, for that matter, could it be conveyed by “hominem indutus,” whose clothing imagery was similarly incompatible with that Personal unity.

Presumably, by mixtio Tertullian had in mind was either the mixus or the krasis of Stoic philosophy, which in the Apologeticus he used unreflec­ively―or, at least with insufficient reflection―to account for the unity of divinity and humanity in Jesus.  However, within Stoicism, the mix of Logos, whether as endiathetos­, prophorikos, or spermatikos, with the coarser stuff which the Logos informs, is imperfect, less than permanent, involving no unity beyond the nominal unity and factual disunity of the materials thus mixed, which awaits always the purification of the immanent Logos (endiathetos) from that composition (krasis, mixtio) in which it has by emanation (prophorikos) become immanent (sper­matikos) by way of the diakosmēsis-ekpyrōsis that is the cyclic re-structuring of the material universe.  This reconstitution of the universe is inevitably succeeded by yet another ekpyrōsis, yet another return to the primordial status quo ante of the immanent Logos endiathetos which then must once again undertake the rationalization of the cosmos by uttering itself into immanence within what must be another cosmos.[167]  

At bottom, Stoicism is a dualism; its diakosmēsis proceeds inexorably to an ekpyrōsis; in brief, this cyclic philosophy is only a rationalization of the phoenix myth, of the pagan ‘eternal return,’ the ‘moving image of eternity’ The Stoic krasis may account for the distinction of natures in Christ upon which Tertullian insists, but it cannot be thought to account for their inde­feas­ible unity of Christ’s Person―upon which Tertullian is equally insistent―for, of that unity, i.e., the radical Mysterium fidei that Jesus is the Lord, no account is possible, and certainly not that of a finally impermanent, cyclicly annulled mixtio-krasis.  It must be remembered that the Stoic hypokeimenon is concrete only as individuated; it is otherwise abstract.

Tertullian’s early designation of the unity of divinity and humanity in Jesus as a mixtio was an attempt to carry water on both shoulders: i.e., to accommodate in a single concept the irreducible Personal duality and Per­son­al unity of Jesus in Apologeticus 21, 10-13, and in Adversus Praxean 2, 3, 11 and 12,  the Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit, with the absolute unity of the Trinity.

Krasis denotes a composition whose unity, that of an ens concretum physicum, can only be nominal.  In the end, Jesus’ Personal unity is the mystery of faith; it cannot be categorized, whether as mixtio or as krasis, but must be uniquely Named: the Name is Jesus.  Tertullian’s strict correlation of Jesus’ Name to his Person required him to abandon his preliminary use of the krasis-mixtio which amounted to a cosmologically-grounded denial of the mystery of Jesus’ Personal unity rather than the affirmation of its historically objective truth, viz., the unity of divinity and humanity in Jesus the Lord.  In the Apologeticus Tertullian is concerned to affirm Jesus’ Personal unity; in De Carne Christi, he defends the paradox of that Personal unity, at once human and divine.  Evans has shown that elsewhere, citing the Adversus Marcionem, the Adversus Praxean and the De Carne Christi, Tertullian understands ‘person’ as the correlative of ‘name:’

The possession of a name indicates personality: cf. Adv. Marc. iv. 14 (quoted above), personam nominis.  So also of common nouns, De Carne Christi, 13, fides nominum salus est proprietatem.  Tertullian elsewhere remarks on the distinction between the proper and the attributive name: Adv. Prax. 28, quorum nominum (sc. Jesus et Christus) alterum est proprium quod ab Angelo impositum est, alterum accidents quod ab unctione convenit; so that the possession of both a name and a title does not imply division of personality.  But neither “father” nor ‘son” is a title, and consequently dum filium agnosco secundum a patre defendo, observing that “there is a Son. I maintain that he is another beside the Father.”

Evans, Against Praxeas, at 48.

Then give back to Christ his trustworthiness, and it will follow that he whose will it was to walk as man also made soul perceptible under human conditions, not making it fleshly, but clothing it with flesh.

Tertullian, De carne Christi, 11, 35; tr. from Evans’ On the Incarnation, at 42-43,

It must be kept in view here that for Tertullian, Jn. 1:14 is normative.  As Evans has spelled out in detail, Tertullian understands the primordial Jesus, i.e., the Sermo, to be the agent of his own Incarnation, by which he became flesh.  He understands the “πνεμα ᾁγιον” of Lk. 1:35, in common with the apostolic tradition, to be the primordial Jesus.  Thus, Tertullian is not speaking of a disincarnate Word who, as clothed with flesh, becomes human.  Rather, clothed with flesh, the integral primordial Jesus enters into our fallen condition, emptying himself of his Personal integrity, to become like us in all but sin.

By describing the soul as “clothing itself with flesh” (induens se carne) Tertullian understands it as substantially distinct from the flesh with which it is nonetheless united.  “Induens se carne”as said of the soul, does not mean that it has become flesh, but rather that it renders flesh perceptive, self-aware and in doing so constitutes the human person. This union of soul and flesh, constituting the human person, is affirmed as a fact whose reality requires only its recognition.  Tertullian refers “induens se carne” to the inexplicable fact of the substantial soul’s informing the substantial corpor­e­al­ity of the individual man, a person who can only be named; he regards that naming as analogous to the Personal naming of Jesus the Christ.  As he is concerned to assert, but not at all to provide for, the mysterious personal unity of the humanity proper to each of us, for he knew that every human being is a person, a unity incapable of categorization, a mysterious reality to be known only by naming, not labeling, and that the name is that of the “very self,” so he is able to link this lesser human mystery to its foundation in Jesus the Lord.  However, when intent upon proving to Praxeas that his Monarchian Patripassionism is impossible, the he must speak of the Incarnation of the primordial Sermo, the Jesus Christ whose conception by the Virgin is his Personal “becoming flesh,” in terms which make no mention of the Person of the primordial Sermo (which the Monarchian Praxeas cannot accept), Jesus the Christ; thus he writes: “ita cum sit ipse de spiritu dei (et spiritus deus est) sarx deo natus, ipse est ex carne hominis et homo in carne generatus, as “induens se carne;”[168]  he will go on to point out that Incarnation cannot be said of the spiritus who is also the Father, and who in consequence must be distinct from the Son.

Tertullian’s impassioned defense of the apostolic tradition rests upon his commitment to its veritas.  Neither in the Apologeticus nor in his other works does he  attempt to prove any element of it.  E.g., he knows the historical Jesus’ humanity, his caro, to be ensouled like his own, but he feels no need to explain the evident fact of Personal unity; his references to it as the “clothing of the soul,” indutus carne, and the like are in no sense analytic: they are descriptive simply.  He knows that recourse to the Middle Platonic analysis would render diophysite his Christology as well as his anthropology.  He knows Jesus to be the eternal Son of the Father, the Sermo primordially sent by Him, to be conceived by the Virgin and, by his sacrificial death, to redeem the fallen universe.  As Tertullian does not trouble to provide an account of the evident fact of his own personal unity, i.e., the union in him of soul and flesh, he is still less concerned to account for the Personal unity of his Lord.  He dismisses out of hand the pertinence of the philosophical tradition to the apostolic tradition, whose prescriptive standing he was at pains to assert; opposition to it had no standing and could have none   His theology has no speculative or theological content; his language is phenomenological and therefore historical, concerned with the factual truth of the faith.  His works are apologetic expositions of the historical faith of the Church in Jesus the Lord, and in polemical defenses of the faith against its adversaries.  For Tertullian, to Name Jesus is to affirm his Personal unity, which is historical and free.  His Name, Jesus the Lord,: compris­ing two substances in one Person, the Mysterium fidei, the Sermo by whose Mission the universe exists.

It is thus that Tertullian’s historical Christology of one Person subsisting in two substances, a Christology founded upon the liturgical affirmation of the Name, of the Personal unity of the Lord Jesus, could use descriptive terms without at first recognizing their implication;  Evans has drawn attention to his use of “homo-deo mixtus” in the Apologeticus, and dropping as inappropriate, save for one later use in the De Carne Christi  Under this Stoic analysis (“mixtio” analysis, which Tertullian soon dropped divine Logos and the human soul which is the image of the Logos are both conceived nonhistorically: the Logos as distinct from humanity, the soul as distinct from its flesh, both joined to their counterparts in a krasis which leaves the Logos and the soul each entirely distinct from the courser material which it informs only by a “mingling” which is no more than a fine-grained conjunction of dissociated elemental particles incapable of constituting a unity beyond mere physical conjunction. In either case, their re-historicization as unities would require the dehistoricization of the mystery of Jesus, his “very self,” his historical Person, that of the Chalcedonian “one and the same Son”.  To conceive of Jesus’ unity as a krasis would be to provide for the antecedent possibility of the union in his Person of humanity and divinity; similarly, to conceive of a merely human person as a krasis of his soul and his flesh is to deny his historical uniqueness, for it reduces that unity to a categorical level, participation in which is not unique and cannot be named once it has been submitted to the determinist analysis inherent in cosmological rationality.

Tertullian offered no metaphysical account of his selection of “person” to describe what is one in Jesus, or of “substance” to describe what is dual.  His doctrine rests upon loyalty to the liturgical and scriptural mediation of the faith; his speculative interests were minor.[169]  Doubtless largely for this reason, the common-sense clarity and precision of his Trinitarian and Christological formulae established the Western tradition thereafter, and preserved the Western Church from the Trinitarian and Christological con­trover­sies which ultimately divided Eastern Christianity.  Once the cosmo­log­i­cal fixation of the pre-Nicene theologians was understood at Nicaea to be incompatible with the faith in the Lord Jesus, it became possible ―and necessaryto base all further theological speculation upon the liturgically-grounded datum of the homoousion of the Son with the Father.  The communication of idioms in the affirmation of Jesus’ Lordship had always implied this, but theological unfolding of that implication had been barred by the cosmological presuppositions we have examined.

Tertullian’s classic formula of one Person and two natures in the Lord Jesus underlined also the irreducible duality of the human and divine natures in the Person of Christ: viz., the two “substances” of the incarnate Word who, as divine, is at once consubstantial with the Father in  possessing the fullness of the divine substance and who, as human, is consubstantial with us in possessing the fullness of the human substance which, contra the traditional cosmological anthropology, Tertullian held to mean historical humanity as such.  He understood the human substance in the historical terms of the Genesis creation accounts, i.e., as the object of creation, which can only be substantial and therefore must be as numerically single as the divine substance, of which it is the image.  In this, he anticipated the Nicene definition of the homoousion of the Son in its final statement: the Chalce­donian doctrine of the consubstantiality of Jesus with us, i.e. with every human being: in the language of  the Formula  of Union of the Council of Ephesus, repeated by the Symbol of Chalcedon, Jesus the Lord is “ μοσιονμῖν:consubstantial with us.

Systematic incoherences­ appear in Tertullian’s Christology, e.g., in Adversus Praxean 5, but he ignores their systematic import: as Evans has noted, his Christology is the Spirit Christology which from the time of the Apostolic Fathers well into the latter half of the fourth century was simply pre­sup­posed.  Tertullian, like his contemporary Hippolytus, had no interest in systematics; his Spirit Christology is finally a catechesis of the Apostolic tradition.

In the paradoxical passage in Adversus Praxean 27, in which he undertakes to prove Praxeas wrong in supposing that the divine substance in Jesus could become flesh, he accepts for the purposes of argument Praxeas’ notion that the governing principle in Jesus the Christ is the divine substance, which, inasmuch as it becomes must cease to be divine.  This polemic agreement with Praxeas’ identification of spiritus, i.e., divinity, with an impersonal divine substance, of course contradicts Tertullian’s affirmation of the Personal unity of Jesus the Christ, but Tertullian’s argument here is simply hypothetical, made only for the purposes of his proving its incoherence.  His critique of Praxeas is grounded in his Spirit Christology, his faith in Jesus the Lord, whose possession of the fullness of the human substance makes him to be a human Person quite as his possession of the divine substance makes him to be a divine Person.  Tertullian knows him to be the Son of Mary, the preexistent primordial Christ who, as Spirit, descended into the womb of the Virgin, from whom he took his flesh.  As Evans notes, he affirms without reservation the Incarn­a­tion of the primordial Sermo. However, as has been seen, he can most simply show Praxeas  the irrationality of his Monarchianism by developing, from within its own rationale, its impossibility; this he does with great foren­sic skill.  Having shown Praxeas that he cannot, as a Monarchist, accept the “trans­figuration” of the substantial divinity which his Monarch­ian­ism must identify with Jesus, he shows Praxeas that his own principles, viz., his denial of the possibility of a unity transcending that of substance, forces him to accept the alternative “clothing” idiom, viz., the divine substance becomes “clothed with flesh,” indutus carne, at the Incarnation.  Read at the letter, this is the diophysism in which Diodore of Tarsus would be trapped by Julian the Apostate in the next century.  Persisted in by the School of Antioch, it issued in the Nestorian heresy.[170]  Whether grounded in the Monarchist lack of any notion of Person, or in the Logos-sarx Christology which is diophysite when its latencies are is pushed, the mistake is still com­mon­place; it is on this basis that contemporary theologians deny that the one Person, Jesus, can be at once the Son of the Father and the Son of Mary, “One and the same Son.

Apart from attacking the pretensions of the Gnostics, Marcionites, Mon­arch­ians, and on occasion the internal contradictions of a mere dualist philosopher (Hermogenes), Tertullian has no interest in speculative theolo­gy.  He was well acquainted with Stoicism and with the Middle Platonism of the Greek philosophical tradition, both of which he finds entirely incompat­ible with the Spirit Christology of the Apostles, to which his commitment is adam­an­tine.  Tertullian never dehistoricized the primordial Sermo; He is the historical subject of the Incarnation, of the “and the Word was made flesh” (καὶ ὁ λγος σρξγεντο). of Jn. 1:14.  Diophysism is entirely alien to Tertullian’s Spirit Christology, as Evans has shown.  The dilemma displayed in Adversus Praxean 27 concerns the Incarnation of the Sermo who literally, i.e., Personally, “became flesh” in emptying himself of his pri­mor­di­al integrity, his Lordship, took on the form of a slave, submitting himself to the fragmentation and mortality of the fallen historical humanity.  In short, here Tertullian is intent upon proving to Praxeas that his reduction of the divine unity to the impersonality of a Monas excludes the Personal kenōsis of the primordial Jesus affirmed in Phil. 2:6-7, whose historical objectivity is for Tertullian a matter of faith, a faith which his argument supposes Praxeas to  share. .

A century later Diodore of Tarsus gave the “clothing” language a diophysite interpretation, which, supposes the unity of Christ to be an impos­sible unity of natures, i.e., of substances, and consequently is unable suf­ficiently to integrate them to clearly to assert the divinity of Jesus.  The corollary of this diophysism is the dehistoricization Mary’s motherhood of Jesus for, under that rubric, she becomes the mother, not of Jesus the Christ, but of his humanity.[171]  However, in that same verse of the Adversus Praxean, Tertullian affirms the Spirit Christology (that Jesus is at once God and Man), from which Evans assures us he never departed.  Tertullian’s statements of this Christology would enter into the Chalcedonian formula: viz., :“salva est utriusque proprietas substantiae” = “saving the properties of both substances:”; “substantiae ambo in statu suo quaeque distincte agebant” = “each substance acts distinctly according to its reality;” and “non confusum sed conjunctum in una persona deum et hominem Jesum” = “not confusedly but conjoined in one Person who is God and man, Jesus.” 

The orthodoxy of Tertullian’s Christology is not open to question.  He understood Jesus’ human substantia to be the ground of his Personal suffering and death.  He understood his divine substantia to be the ground of his Personal Lordship, in sum, of his redemption of the good creation which was created in him, in the Beginning.

In an abstract consideration, each substance, whether the divine and the human, as substantial, is impersonal, and can neither suffer nor die, but the historical Sermo can and did, by reason of his human substantia.  Upon this point Tertullian is entirely clear.  The unity of the two substantiae in the Sermo, Jesus the Lord, is Persona Una Persona, the Lord Jesus whom Irenaeus named the one and the same Son, the object of the faith of the Church and therefore the subject of Tertullian’s theology, at once Christo­logical and Trinitarian.  Tertullian is clear that Jesus redeemed the fallen creation as at once a divine and a human Person, at once the Son of God and the Son of Mary.  He knew Jesus’ Personal unity to be absolutely mystery­ous, and made no attempt to explain it.  For Tertullian, as for the apostolic tradition, it suffices that Jesus, by his One Sacrifice, by the outpouring of his Gift of the Spiritus Creator, freed the fallen world from its imprisonment by sin and death and the fear of death.  He is the Revelation of his Personal truth, the Mysterium fidei, totally free, totally gratuitous, immune to analysis, lacking all prior possibility, the unique object of the apostolic faith that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Consequently there is no liturgical or doctrinal basis for the common­place mistake, at once patristic, medieval, and contemporary, relegating Jesus’ suffering to his humanity and his Lordship to his divinity, as though each substance were an agent.  Tertullian permits himself the use of such language in the Adversus Praxean simply because he wishes to point out its inner contradictions to his adversary who, in refusing “Person,” refuses any “conjunction” of substances beyond that nominal conjunction of the indutus carne, indutus hominem idiom which asserts a unity which cannot be explained from within Praxeas’ Monarchist world-view.  But Tertullian’s resort to this language is entirely provisional, required by the context of the Adversus Praxean and not found elsewhere.  In the De Carne Christ and the De Resurrectione, it is the Lord Jesus, sent by the Father, who suffered, died and rose again: it is the Jesus, the risen Eucharistic Lord of history, its Beginning and its End, who has made all things new, and who will come again to judge the living and the dead.  Tertullian’s insistence upon the Personal unity of Jesus Lordship is past discussion: its Monarchian dissection is simply a denial of the communication of idioms in his Person by which he is Jesus the Lord, which is precisely that from which Tertullian would convert Praxeas by proving to him that his Monarchian refusal to recognize the concrete, ultimately Personal distinctions between the divine Names places him outside the faith of the Church.

Tertullian’s commitment to the communication of idioms in Jesus is that of Ignatius Martyr, Justin, and Irenaeus.  Like all his Christian predecessors, he spoke historically of Jesus: thus he could and did assign human predicates to the Jesus the Son of God, and divine predicates to Jesus the Son of Mary. His theology rests upon the concretely historical union of Personal divinity and Personal humanity in the unique Person of Jesus the Christ, and avoids reference to abstract natures or essences.  The “communication of idioms” was a liturgical commonplace from the first apostolic affirmation of the faith that Jesus is Lord.  Implicit in the Nicene declaration of the Personal homoiousion of the Son with the Father, it was taught explicitly in the Formula of Union of the Council of Ephesus.  Although the “clothing” idiom favored by the Antiochene theology remained in the Formula of Union, it is present there only to be transcended by the Formula’s magisterial proclamation of Mary’s motherhood of God, and the consequent consubstantiality of her Son “with us.”  Eighteen years later the Council of Chalcedon reaffirmed the Ephesian doctrine of the communication of idioms and its corollary, that Jesus is consubstantial with us. The Council of Chalcedon further affirmed Jesus’ Personal consub­stan­ti­ality is that of “one and the same Son,” of the Father, and of the Theotokos.  This had been implicit in the Nicene doctrine of the Personal consubstan­ti­al­i­ty of Jesus which, invoking his Personal unity, could not but apply to his humanity as well as his divinity.  Recognized at Ephesus as implicit in the Theotokos title given Mary and explicitly taught by the Formula of Union, it is again explicitly taught by the Symbol of Chalcedon.

More than two and a half centuries earlier, Tertullian had written into the Apologeticus the nuclear statement of the Personal unity of the Lord: duae substantiae, una Persona  There he  provided, and not only for the West, the persona-substantia distinction which removes ambiguity from the communi­cation of idioms by ensuring that the unique agent of our salvation is the Person, at once divine and human, who is Jesus, the Lord.

We have seen that the distinctions Tertullian drew between the Personal divinity and Personal humanity, i.e., Jesus’ possession of the fullness of divinity and of humanity, and the unique, Personal agency of the Lord Jesus as our Redeemer, are written into the Chalcedonian Symbol.  Tertullian refused to parcel out the causes of our redemption as between Jesus’ human­ity and his divinity; these substances are not agents, but impersonal implica­tions of Jesus’ offering to the Father of his One Sacrifice for the redemption of all creation.[172]  In De Carne Christi Tertullian emphasizes the indignities undergone by Jesus, the Man who is God, before accepting the final indignity of death, which he conquered by the offering of his One Sacrifice to the Father, on the Altar and on the Cross.  The author of our redemp­tion is not a putatively nonhistorical Verbum of the Logos-sarx Chris­­tolo­gy, who by definition cannot die.  Relying upon Irenaeus and Tertullian, the Chalcedonian Latin Christology rejected the futile Greek quest for a natural unity of the Trinity-immanent, pre-human, nonhistorical Logos with the human nature of Jesus at the level of nature, of physis, either despairing of it, with the Nestorian denial of Jesus’ divinity or, with Apolli­nar­i­us, thinking to have achieved it, if at the cost of Jesus’ necessary submission to the immanent necessities of “nature” with consequent the denial of his divinity.

The Western Christological quaerens remained concrete, uncommitted to either of the speculative paradigms regnant in the East under the subord­in­ationist influence of Eusebius of Caesarea, whether  Logos-sarx or Logos-anthrōpos.  Following Tertullian, the western Christology has been histori­cal from the outset; it assumes the Personal historical unity of Jesus, as the God-Man or God-Son, with an unswerving insistence upon that Personal unity.of Jesus the Lord, fully God and fully man, the eternal Son of the Father, the historical Son of Mary.  It is summarized in the Tome of Leo; thereby it entered into the Symbol of the Council of Chalcedon, whose Fathers recognized as normative the assertion by Irenaeus two and a half centuries earlier that Jesus is “one and the same Son” of the Father and of our Lady, the Theotokos.

c. Hippolytus

Hippolytus is a near contemporary of Tertullian, and is closely associate­ed with him by reason of their common insistence upon the concrete distinc­tion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as Personae (Πρσωπα, in Hippo­lytus’ Greek) within the divine and consequently Trinitarian sub­stance.  Further, they were both moral rigorists; both opposed the accommo­dation by the Popes of their time to the tensions between the demands of the Roman law and those inherent in Christian moral freedom, not least in mar­riage.  Both wrote voluminously, Tertullian in the Latin of the African Church, Hippolytus in Greek which until the latter half of the third century was the lan­guage of Rome, where he spent his life.  Despite the doubts of their orthodoxy by two Popes whose emphasis upon the divine unity placed both of them close to Monarchianism, Tertullian’s theological works are largely preserved, while those of Hippolytus have nearly vanished, due for the most part to the displacement of the Greek language by the Latin within the Roman world.  By the end of the third century that sea-change was complete: the learned language of Rome had become Latin.

i. The problem posed by the loss of most of Hippolytus’ works

Hippolytus’ scholarly production, which may have been comparable to Origen’s [173]─had become increasingly neglected even in his own time, when Latin had began to displace Greek as the language of the Roman scholar­ship.  That process, which was complete by the end of the third century, nearly removed Hippolytus from history.  There exist no Roman records of his life or of his writings.  Within a few decades of his martyrdom ca. 235 his works could be read by fewer and fewer Romans; there was less and less interest in them, even awareness of them, and a diminishing interest in trans­lating or copying them.  No particular effort was made in Rome to preserve such copies as existed.  In fact, no Greek works by any of the third century Roman theologians have survived, apart from the papal correspond­ence between Dionysius the Great of Alexandria and Pope Sixtus II and Pope Dionysus, successive Bishops of Rome in mid-third century.  Although Hippolytus was known and appreciated in the Hellenistic Orient, to the point that his works were copied into most of the Oriental languages, copies of them made at that time now exist mostly in fragments:  After an exhaustive examination of all that is known of Hippolytus’ works, Marcel Richard sums up the result:

However, there exists no satisfactory edition of the fragments of this author, no warranted index of his vocabulary, no comprehensive study of his style and doctrine.  It is not surprising, in these circumstances to discover a veritable anarchy of judgments bearing upon his literary heritage as well as upon his personality.[174]

This indecision persists, in spite of the devoted labor of many scholars, preeminent among them Marcel Richard, to discern and interpret what remains of Hippolytus’ work and, especially over the last two centuries, to recover what has been lost.

The problem posed to any study of Hippolytus’ Christology by the “véritable anarchie” by which M. Richard characterizes the academic appre­ci­a­tions of his life and work is evident.  Such inquiry as is here under­taken cannot proceed without supposing the reality of its object, viz., the basic unity of Hippolytus’ theology.  It is further evident that the unity pos­tu­lated must be the raison d’être of the inquiry, its condition of possibility.  If the unity presupposed is theological, and its content therefore intrinsically coher­ent, its investigation will entail a circularity of reasoning, a petitio principii under­cutting the constructive use of its results.

The foundation, the a priori, of Catholic theological inquiry avoids this dilemma, for it is concrete rather than abstract, historical rather than specu­lative or methodological.  The historicity of the personal quaerens intel­lec­tum that specifies theology as Catholic can only be personal parti­ci­pa­tion in the liturgical celebration of the Church’s apostolic faith that Jesus is the Lord.  The Church’s faith is historical, concrete, explicit, and sacra­men­tally effective only in her liturgical worship of her Lord.  This is the foun­dation of theology as opposed to the abstract speculation still dominating the studies of Hippolytus,[175] and it may be attributed to Hippol­ytus’ Christology without serious question.  According to Photius,[176] Hippo­lytus described himself in his Syntagma as a disciple of Irenaeus, the pre-eminent Roman theologian at the dawn of the third century who, as earlier remarked, may have died in a raid upon Lyons by the victorious troops whom emperor Septimius Severus allowed to loot Lyons after defeat­ing his rival, Decimus Clodius Albinus in the battle of “Lugdunum” (i.e., Lyons). 

If Photius’ report is correct, Hippolytus will have been familiar with Irenaeus’ apostolic Christology, summed up in a famous formula, his Naming of Jesus “one and the same Son,” thus a Person at once human and divine, Jesus the Lord.  However, Hippolytus’ subscription to the apostolic tradition does not rest on an arguable association with Irenaeus; it rests upon his ordination, around the turn of the third century, to offer the One Sacrifice in the Person of his Lord.  This Eucharistic liturgy is at one with the apostol­ic tradition, the paradosis of I Cor. 11:23-26.  The liturgical celebration of the communication of divine and human idioms in Jesus, the Personal object of the Church’s faith as expressed in and sustained by her liturgical worship which constitutes the oral apostolic tradition, the Eucharistic liturgy.

The present examination of Hippolytus’ doctrine therefore assumes Hippolytus‘ unreflective but liturgically explicit enlistment in the “Spirit Christology” of the third century.  This Christology, apos­tolic in its founda­tion,[177] was effectively universal in his time, and consequently may be taken to have been foundational for his exegetical and theological insight.

A caveat is in order here.  We are long accustomed to a variety of Chris­tolo­gies, each specified by its methodology: i.e., Augustinian, Thomist, Scotist, Suarezian, Salesian, etc.  In the dawn of the third century, and for two decades thereafter, until Origen wrote the Peri Archon, theology and doctrine were all but indistinguishable.  Tertullian and Hippolytus opposed the quasi-Monarchianism of the popes of the early third century with doctrinal arguments, not with speculative constructs.  When, with Origen, theology became what Anselm, eight centuries later, would term “Fides quaerens intellectum,” it did so by a methodological, i.e., hypothetical iden­ti­fication of a systematic construct with the faith that Jesus Christ is Lord, the “one and the same Son,” who is fully human and fully divine.  This con­viction, later expressed as the communication of idioms (i.e., Names) in Christ, rests upon a personal conversion from the cosmological wisdom of the pagan world, by which the innate quest for the one, the good and the beautiful becomes always a flight from history to the empyrion, a realm unsullied by the fragmentation inseparable from history.

Hippolytus had no use for the Greek cosmology.  While his talent was not speculative, he recognized the incompatibility of that pagan wisdom with his Christian quaerens intellectum, which looked to no ideal eschaton, but in the here and now affirmed the truth of Christ, the mystery  of faith.

Further, given the personal distaste for speculation which Richard has remarked in Hippolytus’ works, his Christology can only be that which in his time was taken for granted: that which was proclaimed by the apostles, as taught by the apostolic Fathers, and by the bishops of the teaching Church: viz., that Jesus Christ is Lord.  This faith is radically Christological.  Its Trinitarian content was liturgically assured; only in a century later would it challenged by Arius’ denial that Jesus is the “one and the same Son.  Arius’ loyal supporter, Eusebius of Caesarea, similarly found that “commu­ni­cation of idioms” incompatible with the “common sense” identification of the Father with the divine substance, and consequently subordinated the Son to him.  Thus condemned by the foremost academic authority in the Orient, the Spirit Christology was thereafter regarded as Sabellian by most of the Oriental bishops.  Led by Eusebius, they denied the authority of Nicaea, thereby enlisting in that submission of the Catholic faith to imperial power which characterized the Orient, Alexandria apart, for most of the fourth century.

In the third century, the foundation of theological inquiry was as it remains today, the Church’s apostolic faith that Jesus is the Lord.  The faith of the Church has its historical presentation in her liturgical worship, her cel­e­bra­tion of the redemptive event of his One Sacrifice.  Participation in this celebra­tion prompts and sustains the fides quaerens intellectum that is Catholic theology, the sole object of whose quaerens is the inexhaustible Mys­terium fidei, the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  Hippolytus’ fidelity to the apostolic tradition is secure.

ii. Hippolytus’ life and personality

Marcel Richard notes that Hippolytus is the last Roman theologian to write in Greek until Pope Zachary, in the middle of the eighth century.[178]  Hip­polytus was a priest of Rome; there is no record of his living elsewhere.  References to him as a bishop, as by Eusebius and Jerome, are without foun­da­tion. M. Richard thinks it probable that Hippolytus served as a priest of Rome under Victor (d. 198); if so, he could not have been much less than thirty when Victor died.  This is consistent with the year conventionally assigned his birth, 170,  Hippolytus has been accused of being the first Anti­pope─an indictment for which Richard finds no foundation.  For the rest, his life and personality are known only through what remains of his works.  This  knowledge was meager until the discovery, in 1842, of his Refutatio Omnium Heresium, and its publication in 1851, which afforded an insight other­wise lacking into his doctrine and also his personality.

iii. Hippolytus’ works

Hippolytus is perhaps best known as the author of the Apostolic Tradition, but Richard has questioned this attribution on grounds difficult to refute.[179]

A few of his exegetical works survive in their integrity: the Commentary on Daniel; the Commentary on the Beginning of the Canticle of Canticles; the Treatise On the Christ and the Anti-Christ; which quotes the Commen­tary on the Canticle of Canticles; a two-volume Commentary On the bless­ings of Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 27 and 49) and On the blessings of Moses (Deut. 33).  Richard lists fifteen other exegetical works, known whether by their fragments, by the citation of their titles on the famous statue erected in honor of Hippolytus,[180] or by their men­tion in the works of other authors, notably Eusebius of Caesarea, Jerome, and Photius.

Of the fragmented exegeses of the Old Testament named by Richard we list here those which he frequently cites or quotes.  These are: On the Hexaemeron; On that which follows the Hexaemeron; On the blessings of Balaam (Numb. 22-23), On the Great Ode; On the Judges (whose fragments Richard has edited); On Eleana and Anna, On the Psalms, and On the Proverbs  (of which Richard has provided a new edition).  Richard observes that, of the books of the New Testament, Hippol­ytus seems to have written only the Commentary upon the Apocalypse mentioned by Jerome.  Other possible or likely references to it cannot be verified.  There also remain fourteen fragments of a treatise or homily upon the eschatological discourse in Mt. 24:15-34, as preserved in Coptic, Arabic, and Ethiopian catenae.  There are also excerpts, preserved by Theodoret of Cyr, of the texts of two homilies, On the distribution of the talents (Mt. 25:14-31) and On the Two Thieves (Lk. 23:39-43).

Richard then turns to Hippolytus’ other exegetical works.  The first title he mentions is inscribed on the base of the statue of Hippolytus: πδειξις χρονων το πσχα κα τ ν τ πνακι.(Proof of the date of Easter on a little tablet)  This is a treatise on the dating of Easter beginning with 222, the first year of the youthful and short-lived Emperor Severus Alexander.  This chronology has no immediate pertinence to the present study of Hippolytus’ Christol­ogy, although it was of consider­able interest to Hippolytus.  The same may be said of another of his works on biblical chronology, cited on “the statue” as the Χρονικν (Chronicon); however, Richard understands both to cast light on the lost Hexaemeron and on its sequel, That which follows the Hexaemeron; he is intent upon their reconstitution from the fragmentary evidence at hand, for there are no other sources for Hippolytus’ doctrine of creation.

The third work listed is The Syntagma Against all the Heresies, described by Eusebius as a youthful prologue to the Refutation of all Heresies.  Apart from this reference to it by Eusebius, the further description of the Syntagma by Photius permit its partial reconstruction by identifying excerpts of it from the works of Epiphanius and other ancient authors.

Fourth is the Treatise on the Universe, Its title appears on “the statue,” and is mentioned in the Refutation, x, 22.  Contra Nautin, Richard maintains the attribution of this work to Hippolytus to be irrefutable.  This work also was read by Photius,[181] who described it as published in two volumes, and as attributed variously to Justin, Irenaeus and Caius.  Four frag­ments of the first volume have been recently found, edited, and published.  They confirm Hippolytus radical hostility to the Greek specula­tion upon whose futilities these fragments comment.  The second volume is known only from a remark on the creation of the firmament quoted in the De opificio mundi by Jean Philipon, from another brief extract by Photius in his notice of the book, and from an important fragment from K. Holl’s edition of the‘ “florilèges damascéniens” which provides the conclusion of the work.  It treats of the last things: Hades, resurrection, judgment and paradise, which Richard believes to clearly have been inspired by the Ad Autolycum of Theophilus of Antioch.

Richard goes on to discuss the Refutation of All Heresies which, with Eusebius, he considers to be the continuation of the De Universo.  He understands Hippolytus to suppose the generation of the Son to be the pre-condition of the Father’s will to create, but not to the prejudice of the Son’s generation as eternal, upon which Hippolytus also insists, probably influenced by Justin Martyr.  Evans has observed of Hippolytus that he is strongly influenced by Tertullian: it is through him that Tertullian’s designa­tion of the members of the Trinity as “persons” was handed on to the Greek tradition,[182] although Prestige is of another mind.[183]  With respect to the Incarnation, Hippolytus bitterly opposes the Sabellian Patripassionism; his criticism uses the clothing imagery which Tertullian adapted in the polemic against Praxean in Adversus Praxean 27.

Richard reads Hippolytus to have held precisely that two-stage Logos-sarx Christology which Grillmeier has attributed to him (see endnote 121), viz., the distinguishing of a pre-incarnate Word who takes flesh from the Virgin and becomes the human Jesus, which he names the Logos ensarkos.  This interpretation would lock Hippolytus into the Monophysite versus Diophysite dilemma were he speculatively inclined.  However, Hippolytus’ use of kata pneuma, kata sarx is historical.  It does not distinguish a pre-human Logos from an enfleshed Logos, but refers to the “one and the same Son” of the Spirit Christology as spelled out by Irenaeus, whom Grillmeier thinks may have been Hippo­lytus’ mentor.  However in the end Hippolytus’ theological exposition of the apostolic tradition has the coherence of a cate­chesis rather than a system.  Like Irenaeus, Hippolytus stressed the full huma­nity of Jesus, his full divinity, and his Personal unity.  Like Ignatius Martyr, he referred to the preexistent Christ, the subject of the Father’s Mission, as “Spirit.”[184]  Like Tertullian in his concession to Praxeas’ Mon­arch­ianism in the Adversus Praxean, Hippolytus assigned distinct Person­al activities and manifestations to Jesus’ humanity insofar as these betook­ened weakness, and to his divinity, insofar as betokening the power and sublimity of God.  The attribution of agency to the natures of Jesus rather than to his Person is an error which will echo down through succeeding centuries to our own time; it even found its way into the preparatory document for the Roman Synod on the Eucharist in 2005..[185]

Hippolytus makes a clear distinction between the eternal generation of the Logos by the Father, and his historical generation at the Incarnation.  Finally, he affirms the divinity of the Holy Spirit, but offered no clear catechesis concerning the Holy Spirit.

Nothing is known of Hippolytus’ youth apart from what can be gathered from his writings.  He is clearly the product of a Hellenic culture; Richard denies any Hellenistic influence upon his Greek; this would be consistent with Photius’ report of reading a lost work wherein Hippolytus described himself as a disciple of Irenaeus; Photius also praised his style for its disinterest in Attic purity.[186].  Hippolytus had certainly read Irenaeus’ Adversus Haereses; he quotes it extensively in the Refutatio.  He also quotes the Apologists, Justin and Theophilus of Antioch.

Although Richard mentions Hippolytus’ quotations of Justin, he provides no examples.  This is rather odd.  Justin was by far the most important and prolific of the Greek Apologists.  While Richard properly names Melito’s development of typological exegesis, Justin was a contemporary of Melito, and exploited typological exegesis at length in his Dialogue with Trypho.  Further, Justin lived, taught, and was martyred in Rome.  His work could not but have been more familiar to Hippolytus than that of Melito, for Sardis in western Turkey was distanced from him by more than six hundred miles.  Evans believes Tertullian, in similarly distant Carthage, to have been heavily influenced by Justin.[187]  Hippolytus can scarcely have been less so.

Richard further states that Hippolytus rejected the allegorical exegesis of the contemporary Alexandrine theologians, Origen and Clement.  This obser­va­tion is anachronistic.  Richard confounds “allegory” with Philo’s dehistoricizing exegesis of the Hebrew scriptures, but no such dehistori­ciza­tion can be attributed to Clement or to Origen.  Both men upheld the Spirit Christology and the historical communication of idioms in Jesus the Christ.  In that historical context, dominant in the third century, typology and allegory were never mutually exclusive, i.e., historical typology as opposed to nonhistorical allegory.  Henri de Lubac’s Exégèse Médiévale entirely rejects the distinction which Richard places between historical typological exegesis and the allegorical exegesis initiated by Philo Judaeus.  De Lubac defends Origen’s allegorical exegesis, however labeled, precisely as histori­cal, and holds Origen to have taught that exegesis to the Middle Ages.  Hip­polytus’ use of language is always historical; he does not speculate.  The dis­tinction which Richard places between a nonhistorical Logos asarkos and a historical Logos ensarkos is mistaken, as will be shown.

Without putting in issue Hippolytus’ preference for typological exegesis, his Commentary on Daniel contains a passage which W. Jurgens has translated as follows:

And she said to her maids, “Bring me oil (1).  Indeed, faith and love prepare oil and cleansing unguents for those who are washed.  But what were these unguents, if not the commands of the Holy Word? And what the oil, if not the power of the Holy Spirit?  It is with these, after the washing (2), that believers are anointed as with a sweet-smelling oil.

1. Dan. 13 :17 (or, in the Septuagint, Sus. 1:37).  In the passage quoted, it is Susanna who is speaking.

2. I.e., Baptism.

Jurgens, Early Fathers,I, 163-64.

No doubt Hippolytus regards this exegesis as conforming to Melito’s and Justin’s typology, but its distinction from allegory then becomes elusive.

Richard quotes Photius’ praise of Hippolytus’s De Universo, of which only fragments remain, for naming the Word specifically “Christ,” and cites his mention of Hippolytus’ claim in it to have been a disciple of Irenaeus.  Although M. Richard notes Hippolytus’ frequent references to the Adver­sus Haereses, he does not mention any influence of Irenaeus’ Christology in Hippolytus’ works; notably, he says nothing of Irenaeus’s fre­quent classic assertion in the Adversus Haereses that Jesus is “one and the same Son.”

Richard regards the Refutatio Omnium Heresium as a continuation of Hippolytus’ theology of creation, a theology which he has synthesized from the fragments of the De Universo and of the Commentary on the Hexae­mer­on.  If so, there is reason to suppose that their subject is “creation in Christ,” for Hippolytus is familiar with Col. 1:15.[188]

Richard describes Hippolytus’ talent as narrative, even catechetical, rather than speculative.  He notes his clearly personal antipathy to the speculation of the Greek philosophers.  In his youth he had acquired that moderate familiarity with Greek speculation which appears in what is known of the De Universo and is resumed in the first chapter of its sequel, the Refutatio Omnium Haeresium.  Hippolytus was sufficiently repelled by his exposure to Greek wisdom to prompt his negative reaction to spec­u­la­tion as such; this, in Richard’s view, is reflected in his refusal of  allegorical exegesis in favor of typological.

Richard finds Hippolytus’ Commentary on the beginning of the Canticle of Canticles (more usually cited as the Commentary on the Canticle of Canticles) to be marked by a degree of immaturity in style and treatment not found in his other works; and concludes that this commen­tary is his earliest work, written about 200, shortly before Emperor Septimi­us Severus, a persecutor of the Church, forbade Jewish and Christian pro­se­ly­tism in an edict published about 202.  Hippolytus’ Commentary on the Canticle of Canticles, and his treatise On Christ and the Antichrist were both written before his Commentary on Daniel, in which Hippolytus mentions the local envy aroused by his growing repute­tion.  Hippolytus wrote this work shortly after Septimius Severus published his edict.  A decade later, in 212, Hippolytus’ reputation was sufficient to attract Origen to Rome, where Eusebius reports his hearing Hippolytus preach a homily .”On the Praise of our Lord and Savior.”[189]

Septimius Severus died in 209, to be succeeded by his son, Caracalla, who was assassinated in 217.  After an internecine struggle, the throne was occupied by Elagabalus, who died in 222.  Upon his death, Severus Alex­an­der, then only thirteen, became the emperor of Rome.  His mother, the Empress Julia Mammaea, who had become interested in Christianity, if not to the point of conversion, evidently sought instruction from Hippolytus, as a few years later she would she would seek instruction from Origen (Crouzel, Origen, 17).  Hippolytus anticipated Origen’s instruction to the Empress with a Letter to the Empress Mamaea, containing a Treatise on the Resurrection, in which Hippolytus had drawn upon the pertinent texts in First and Second Corinthians.  It is evident, as Richard observes, that he had a positive relation to the imperial throne.  The Empress was intent upon raising her imperial son to become a cultivated, liberally educated adult, capable of recognizing and appreciating intelli­gence and learning wherever he found it, among Christians as elsewhere.  During the thirteen years (222-235) in which Severus Alexander reigned as emperor, the perse­cu­tion of Christians ceased, and Hippolytus entered upon the last and most productive period of his life.  He was then in his early fifties.  This final period of his life ended with the assassination of the young emperor and his mother by his soldiers in 235.  Toward the end of that period Hippolytus wrote the Refutatio Omnium Heresium, whose ninth Chapter recites his dispute with Pope Callistus. who in that year vanished.  Hippolytus was at  peace with Urban, who in 230 succeeded Callistus as Bishop of Rome; .

Hippolytus had by then served under three Popes: Victor (189-98), Zephyrinus (199-217), Callistus (217-22,) and now Urban who would be succeeded by Pontian in 230.   Upon the death of Severus Alexander in 235, his successor, Maximin, resumed Septimius Severus’ persecution of Chris­tians.  He sentenced Hippolytus and Pontian to effective death senten­ces of hard labor in the mines of Sardinia.  There, probably within the year, they both died.  In the year following, 236-37, Pontian’s successor, Anterus, had their remains recovered and returned to Rome, where they both were acclaimed as martyrs.  Richard notes that there is no reason to suppose that Hippolytus’ feud with Callistus had any significant impact upon the unity of the Roman faithful, for it did not color his relations with Callistus’ success­sors, Urban and Pontian.  While Callistus had left behind him a group of Roman clergy loyal to his doctrine and policy, Hippolytus pays them scant attention in the Refutatio, which reports no quarrel with them, nor with Urban or Pontian.  The close association of his own martyrdom with that of Pontian was more than temporal:  Anterus, Pontian’s successor honored them equally as martyred for their faith.

Hippolytus’ early works dealt with the then current heresies, they do not mention the modalism which later he would so vigorously condemn in Zeph­yr­inus and Callistus.  That heresy is first mentioned in his Com­men­tar­y upon the Blessings of Moses, written during a time when the Church was at peace, presumably after the death of Emperor Septimius Severus in 209.[190]  Epigonus, a disciple of Noetus, introduced modalism in Rome, and converted Cleomenes, who became its enthusiastic advocate.  Richard believes that for a time Cleomenes influenced Zephyrinus, perhaps by way of his deacon, Callistus, whom Hippolytus regarded as simply a modalist.[191]

With the death of Zephyrinus in 217 and the succession of Callistus to the See of Rome, i.e., to the papacy, Hippolytus’ focused his wrath upon Cal­listus; he had long suspected him of persuading an incompetent Zeph­yr­in­us not to condemn Cleomenes’ modalism.  It is at this point of Callistus succession that he is accused of rejecting the legitimacy of Callis­tus election, and asserting his own authority, as the first anti-Pope.[192]  The only source of contemporary information on this matter is Hippolytus’ Refu­tatio, which was discovered and recognized as his work only in 1851.  While the Refutatio certainly maligns Callistus, Richard finds no basis in it for the accusation that Hippolytus beca,e an anti-pope.  It is evident that Hip­po­lytus’ frustration with Zephyrinus and Callistus prior to Callistus’ election led him to a detestation of Callistus, but rather on the basis of personal contempt than a doctrinal dissent for, once elected, Callis­tus in fact did what Hippolytus accuses him of persuading Zephyrinus not to do: he con­demned Sabellius.  However, Callistus’ condemnation of the pro­to­typical modalism of Sabellius was not on the basis of having himself grasped an alternative to Monarchianism.  He still viewed the divine mon­archy as incapable of accommodating Hippolytus’ insistence that the divine Father and his erternal Son, the Word, must be objectively distinct from each other within the divine unity.  Callistus read Hippolytus’ assertion of that distinction as ditheism, a placing a division within the Monarchian unity of One God.

The excuse has been made for Callistus that he considered Hippolytus’ Trin­i­tarianism to be subord­inationist, the positing of a substantial rather than Personal distinction between the Son and the Father.  This is unwarranted; no third century theologian understood the divinity to be divisible.  The sub­ord­ina­tionist heresy began with Arius in Alexandria almost a century later, and the crisis it then raised lasted more than sixty years, ending only with the First Council of Constantinople in 381.

The terminology developed by Tertullian and Hippolytus, Persona-Substantia, prosōpon-ousia, to distinguish what is objectively three in the Trinity from what is objectively one, required a hundred and sixty years to reach a measure of clarity.  Tertullian had simply asserted the distinction with no attempt to explain it, and Hippolytus’ detestation of metaphysics acquits him a priori of any temptation to trespass upon the mystery of the Trinity.  Callistus was concerned to uphold the faith against a radical inno­va­tion.  He had no sympathy for the Sabellian modalism, but neither had he any for the alternative Trinitarianism asserted by Tertullian and Hippolytus.  Since they asserted it without any attempt to explain it, Callistus’ rejection of it was to an extent justified; he was evidently unfamiliar with the Trini­tar­i­an doctrine taught by the Athenagoras and Theophilus of Antioch fifty years earlier, upon which Tertullian and Hippolytus relied.

Hippolytus’ quarrel with Callistus was not simply Trinitarian.  Like Tertullian, a moral rigorist, Hippolytus also condemned Callistus’ mitigation of a harsh penitential discipline which Hippolytus regarded as apostolic, not open to revision.  Callistus had authorized absolution from the major sins com­mitted after Baptism;  As did Tertullian, Hippolytus looked upon such sins by baptized Christians as incapable of absolution.  A few years later, Cyprian had the same difficulty, it prompted his an anticipation of the Donatist heresy.

®1.Introduction to the theology of Hippolytus

Richard has pointed to expressions of Hippolytus’ personal distaste for speculation in the De Universo and their continuation in its sequel, the Refutatio Omnium Heresium.[193]  It is then unlikely that Hippolytus’ Christology is a personal construct, for his expressions of it never attained a more than catechetical statement of the faith that in his time was taken for granted, i.e., the Christology proclaimed by the apostles, by the apostolic Fathers, and by the teaching Church: viz., faith that Jesus Christ is Lord, whose hallmark is the unity of the fullness of humanity and divinity in the one Son sent by the Father for the remission of our sins.

Hippolytus’ firm belief in the generation of the Word before all things has permitted him what Richard holds to be a very sound (saine) Christol­ogy.  In fact, it begins with the origin of the world and is extended to the glorious Parousia of the Christ.  No doubt, it is at the end of times that God has sent the Word, his Son, his well-beloved child, to take flesh in the womb of the Virgin to save a sinful humanity, but this central event of the divine economy and of the history of the world was already foreseen on the sixth day of the creation (see § 6) [194]

Richard finds the focus of Hippolytus’ Christology in his generation by the Father antecedent to the creation of the world:

The word has left the heart of the Father, first-born and only-begotten of God, Child or God, Wisdom of God, Christ, king and judge of the universe.  He was manifested s such as well before as after the incarna­tion[195]

He finds justification for this assertion, as it bears upon the eternal Sonship of the Word, in a passage from the Commentary on Daniel:

“The Father, having thus submitted all to his own Son, that which is in the heavens and that which is on the earth and that which is under the earth, has shown everywhere that he was the first-born, in order that it be evident that he is second after the Father, Son of God, first-born before the angels, first-born of a Virgin, in order that he be seen recreating in himself the first-created Adam, first-born of the dead in order that he become the pledge of the resurrection.[196]

Here is introduced the narrative mode that typifies Hippolytus’ Christology.  It is of the first importance that its coherence be recognized to be doctrinal or, as Richard has put it, catechetical.  The narrative, simply as narrative, has the coher­ence required for its intelligibility, but possesses no more systematic unity than, e.g., the Acts of the Apostles.  Richard frequent­ly refers to Hippolytus’ theology as systematic, but the unity of Hippolytus’ catechesis is rather doctrinal than theological.  The derivation of doctrinal conclusions from a theological system postulated a priori cannot but risk imposing upon the Hippolytus catechetical narrative a distortion which, ignoring its doctrinal unity, places Hippolytus in a theological community of discourse that is not his and can only contribute to the existing anarchical criticism of his works which Richard has pointed out.

Hippolytus’ narrative recites his personal internalization of the apostolic tradition: viz., the good creation of humanity that is in Christ, the fall of the first man, Adam; the consequent corruption of the good creation, and its res­tor­ation, its recreation or remolding, by the incarnation of Jesus the Lord.  In this doctrinal narrative Hippolytus distinguishes the eternal generation of the Son from his Incarnation.  The doctrinal unity of the narrative is evident.  In agree­ment with the tradition, Hippolytus affirms the Personal pre-existence of Jesus the Lord when he affirms him have been sent by the Father.[197]  He affirms that Jesus was conceived by and born of the Virgin Mary,[198] and sup­poses without question that the events of Jesus’ life, death and resur­rec­tion fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament.  His surviving exegetical works show him intent on the vindication of that conviction.[199].

Hippolytus understands the Father’s eternal generation of the Son to be prior to all creation, and understands creation to be a single act by the Father which leaves him unchanged; sometimes he associates the Son with this one act.

One understands, however, that Hippolytus wished to affirm in the first place, against Gnosticism and Marcionism, his faith in one sole creator God.  Therefore he chose to proceed by successive steps: ch. 32, God the sole creator; ch. 33, the Father as creator by the Word in one sole (act) “τ κατά ἕν”.

This arrangement shows that, in the thought of the author, the generation of the Word was linked in some fashion to the creation.  It is necessary to note, however, that the text does not say this explicitly.  It teaches us only that this generation was anterior to all created things.[200]

The successive stages of Hippolytus’ narrative recite the economy of salvation as it was preached in his time, by bishops loyal to the apostolic tradition, which knew no other Logos than Jesus the Lord.  Their opponents were the Jews who rejected the Church’s proclamation that Jesus is the Lord, the Gnostics whose dualism denies the goodness of creation, and thus the divinity of the Creator, and the Marcionite anti-Semitic perversion of Chris­tianity on quasi-gnostic grounds.

Richard has undertaken the reconstruction of Hippolytus’ lost Com­mentary on the Hexaemeron from the consonance of its dispersed fragments with Hippolytus’ later works, and from the Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea and from St. Jerome.  Confident that he has grasped its Christology, he understands Hippolytus’ belief in the eternal generation of the Son to underwrite a concretely historical Christology which begins with the origin of the world and extends to the Parousia.

However, the hermeneutic M. Richard employs in this integration of Hippolytus’ Christology is the speculative Thomism of the Pars Tertia of the Summa Theologiae, in which St. Thomas takes for granted that the agent of our redemption is not Jesus the Christ, but the eternal Son, sensu negante. On this basis St. Thomas imposed an Aristotelian version of the Logos-sarx analysis upon the Spirit Christology of the first four Councils.  It is in this light that Richard accepts Grillmeier’s “two-stage” analysis of Hippolytus’ Christology and with him supposes a passage from a pre-incarnate to an incarnate condition, which he labels as from the condition of “Verbe σαρκος,” whose eternal generation Richard understands Hippolytus to have designated “κατ πνεμα, as opposed to the Virgin’s conception of the Christ, the Incarnate Word, whose generation he understands Hippolytus to have termed κατ σρκα:

“The Word was incarnate and became man and son of man in taking flesh of the Virgin Mary and of the Holy Spirit.  Most often, Hippolytus is satisfied to mention the virginal conception.  But some very clear texts show that he attributed a large role to the Holy Spirit in this conception.  He specifies three times that the Christ was conceived by the Virgin “not by an insemιnation, but of the Holy Spirit.” (De Ant. viii; In ben., p. 151 et 270), and employs sometimes the expression “of the Virgin and of the Holy Spirit” (De Ant. xliv; In ben., p. 76, 5-6; 169, 2-3; In. Psalm. § 22; In Prov., frag. 55)  In his typology of the weaving profession (De Ant. iv) the woof is the “holy flesh woven in the Spirit”; in that (typology) of the ark of the covenant, the body of the Christ is “plated with a pure gold in the interior by the Word, on the exterior by the Holy Spirit.” (In Dan. iv, 24, 3), or ornamented in the interior by the Word and protected on the exterior by the Holy Spirit.” (In Eleanam, Pseudo-Irenée, fg. viii).

This generation of the Word κατ σρκα (according to the flesh) is sometimes opposed to his first generation before all things, called, in this case, κατα πνεμα (according to the spirit.   (In ben., p. 76, 7-9; 110, 1-2).  Σαρξ (Flesh) is by far the word most often used by Hippolytus to designate the humanity of Christ, but sometimes he uses τ σμα (the body).

Apart from one or two exceptions (In Dan. iv, 37, 2 ; In Balaam, fg. 37), he reserves this word (σμα) in part to his typology of the ark of the covenant.  (In Dan. iv, 24, 3 et 5 ; In Eleanum, pseudo-Irénée, fg. viii ; Ad reginam, Symbolae osloenses, t.  38, p. 79), and in part to the body of Christ after his death (In duos latrones i-iii ; In magnam Odam iii ; In Samsonem I, vi-vii ; In Prov. fg. 52).  When these words (σαρξ, τ σμα) do not suffice, he employs νθρωπος (In Dan. ii, 27, 6 ; iv, 39, 5 ; In Cant. ii, 23 ; In ben., p. 38, 2 , etc.)  The rest of the vocabulary used by Hippolytus to describe the incarnation of the Word is most varied, but also simple and concrete.  The only “technical” terms encountered in his commentaries are the participle σαρκοθες (In ben. p. 36 1, et 76, 6) and the substantive νανθρπεσις (the Incarnation or, the Lord’s dwelling among us) (In Dan. iv, 39, 4 ; De distrib. talent.)”[201].

Here Richard displays a clear failure to grasp of the meaning of “σαρξ” in the context of the Spirit Christology proper to any third century theolo­gian; it is simply that found in Jn. 1:14, where it desig­nates the Incarnation of the primordial Jesus, the event in which he “became flesh,” i.e., in which he Personally took upon himself our fallen condition, our submission to death and to all that accompanies that fragmentation ‘unto dust.’  In Rom. 5, Paul contrasts existence according to the fallenness of flesh, κατ σρκα, to existence according to the spirit, κατ πνεμα: equivalently, existence in Christo.  The Pauline anthropology affirms the riven character of our his­tor­i­cal existence, as arising out of our twin personal solidarities, viz., with the dying “flesh” of the first Adam, and with the risen “one flesh” of the New Covenant, instituted by the One Sacrifice of the second Adam, the risen con­quer­or of death, the “life-giving Spirit” (I Cor. 15:45) who for free­dom has made us free.

The contrast upon which Paul is intent is that between our unfree his­tor­i­cal solidarity κατ σρκα, i.e., our unfree submission to the dynamic disunity of “sarx,” “flesh,” and our free sacramental solidarity κατ πνεμα with the free unity, the Eucharistic celebration of  the nuptial “one flesh” of the risen Lord with his bridal Church.

Richard’s failure to recognize Hippolytus’ loyalty to the apostolic tradi­tion is further illustrated by his assertion that Hippolytus uses both “σαρξ” (flesh) and “τ σμα” (the body) abstractly to designate the “humanity” of Christ  This amounts to reading into Hippolytus a rejection of the commu­nication of idioms in the one and the same Son.  “Logos sarx egeneto” is said of the primordial Jesus; it is he, not his “humanity,” who “became flesh” in such wise that he is Personally “flesh,” Personally mortal, Per­son­al­ly the subject of the kenōsis which in Phil. 2:6-7 Paul ascribes to the primordially pre-existent Jesus: i.e., his taking on of the form of a slave. 

Richard observes that Hippolytus uses “σαρξ” and “τ σμα” alike imper­sonally, the former to designate Christ’s “humanity,” the latter to denote the dead body of Christ on the Cross or, typologically, his body as signed by the Ark of the Covenant.  However, the flesh of the living Christ is his Person, not his “humanity;” nor, a fortiori, is the body of the dead Christ his “humanity.” Hippolytus did not deal with abstractions; his exe­ge­sis displays no speculative interest, as Richard has stressed: he is concerned for the concretely Personal historicity of his Lord.  M. Richard’s conception of the κατ πνεμα, κατ σρκα polarity, in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, is a radical distortion of the apostolic Christology, which knows no non-human Christ, but only Jesus the Lord.  Hippolytus affirms the Word’s Per­sonal unity, sent by the Father, the primordially integral Jesus of the Prologue of the Gospel of John, and of Phil. 2:5-13, the Person, at once human and divine, who became flesh, who emptied himself of his primordial dignity to assume the form of a slave, the Son whom Mary conceived and bore, who at the Last Supper and on the Cross offered the One Sacrifice by which we are redeemed, restoring the primordial integrity which was ours “in the Beginning.”.

The distinction Richard has placed between the historical Jesus and the eternal Son, whether as κατ σαρξ versus κατ πνεùμα or as the incar­nate Word versus the Word σαρκος, is inherent in Grillmeier’s “two-stage” distortion of Hippolytus’ apostolic Christology. Grillmeier’s sepa­ra­tion of the historical polarity at once joining and distinguishing flesh and spirit in Paul’s anthropology abstracts them from history; thereby Christ’s Personal humanity, his human Person, becomes an abstract category, a “second substance,” viz., “humanity,” and his Personal divinity, equally dehis­tori­cized, becomes the absolute eternal Word, incapable of incarnation, to whom the communication of idioms cannot apply.

But the concrete polarity of flesh and spirit in the Christ is their reci­pro­city, their irreducibility and their mutual causality, at once historical and ana­gogical.  In our fallen history, this polarity is Eucharistically realized.  It is: only by his institution of the Eucharistic Sacrifice at the Last Supper that Jesus’ death upon the Cross transcends history in such wise as to reveal him to be its Beginning and its End, and it is only his Eucharistic immanence in history that renders it a history of salvation whose historicity is the worship of the Church, the foundation of the apostolic tradition, itself radically Eucharistic, the continual celebration of the faith that Jesus is the Lord. 

®2.The Titles of Christ

Nonetheless, Richard would read this dehistoricization into the text of Hippolytus:

The human name of the incarnate Word, Jesus, is rarely used by Hippolytus.

He employs it only in the New Testament expression “the name of Jesus” (In ben. p. 188, 3 ; In Dan. ii, 34, 3), in two allusions to the events of the Gospel (In ben., p. 64, 10 ; In Magnam Odam iii) and when his typology demands it (In ben, p. 322, 4 (Josué), In Dan, i, 11, 5 (10 jours), In Dan. ii, 27, 6 (18 ans).  He joins it sometimes to Χριστς in solemn formulae or those inspired by the New Testament (De Ant. vi, lxi, lxiv; In Dan. i, 13,  9 ; iv, 34, 4 ; iv, 60, 3 ; In principium Isaiae).  In return, he uses very frequently the divine names of the Word: the Logos, the Son of God, the Christ, the Lord, to which he occasionally joins the Saviour, which directly concerns the redemptive activity of the Incarnate Word. (citation needed, see following paragraph.

The standard English translation of Hippolytus’ very early treatise On Christ and the antiChrist (ca. 200) is easily available,[202] and permits an examination of Hippolytus’ use of Χριστς , whether “in solemn formulae or those inspired by the New Testament” in De Ant. vi, lxi, and lxiv.

Now, as our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also God, was prophesied of under the figure of a lion, on account of His royalty and glory, in the same way have the Scriptures also aforetime spoken of Antichrist as a lion on account of his tyranny and violence.  For the deceiver seeks to liken himself in all things to the Son of God.  Christ is a lion, so Antichrist is also a lion; Christ is a king, John 18:37 so Antichrist is also a king.  The Savior was manifested as a lamb; John 1:29 so he too, in like manner will appear as a lamb, though within he is a wolf.  The Savior came into the world in the circumcision, and he will come in the same manner.

De Ant. lxi; the Church, as presented in Apoc. 12;

And the Words, upon her head a crown of twelve stars, refer to the twelve apostles by whom the Church was founded.  And those, she, being with child, cries, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered, mean that the Church will not cease to bear from her heart the Word that is persecuted by the unbelieving in the world. And she brought forth, he (John) says, a man-child, who is to rule all the nations, by which is meant that the Church, always bringing forth Christ, the perfect man-child of God, who is declared to be God and man, becomes the instructor of all the nations.  And the words, her child was caught up into God and to His throne, signify that he who is always born of her is a heavenly king, and not an earthly, even as  David also declared of old when he said, The liord said unto my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool.  And the dragon, he says, saw and persecuted the woman which brought forth the man-child. And to the woman were given two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.  That refers to the one thousand two hundred and three-score days (the half of the week) during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church, which flees from city to city, and seeks concealment in the wilderness among the mountains, possessed of no other defense than the two wings of the great eagle, that is to say, the faith of Jesus Christ, who, in stretching forth His holy hands on the holy tree, unfolded two wings, the right and the left, and called to him all who believed upon him, and covered them as a hen her chickens.  For by the mouth of Malichi also He speaks thus: and unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings. (emphasis added)

De Ant. lxvii:

These things, then, I have set shortly before you, O Theophilus, drawing them from Scripture itself, in order that, maintaining in faith what is written, and anticipating the things that are to be, you may keep yourself void of offence both toward God and man, looking for that blessed hope and appearing of our God and Savior, when, having raised the saints among us, He will rejoice with them, glorifying the Father.  To him be the glory unto endless ages of the ages. Amen.


There can be no question that Hippolytus here has in view the historical Jesus the Lord

®® The Human Titles of Christ

Insofar as Richard is concerned, there are no human titles of Christ.  He insists that the primary reference of these titles is to the Eternal Word, apart from Incarnation, i.e, the Word “σαρκος:”, which is to say, the dehistori­cized Christ of the Thomist theological tradition:

It is true that Hippolytus employes most often the New Testament expression “Child of God” (παῖς θεοῢ) à propos of the incarnate Word rather than of the Word “ἄσαρκος.”.  Nonetheless this expression was for him a divine title of the Christ, a synonym of “Son of God.”[203]

In support of this assertion Richard invokes a passage from a commentary on Gen. 49 in which Hippolytus refers to “the holy first-born child of God:”

“But who was Jacob, and Israel other than the holy first-born child of God?” [204]

This excerpt from In ben., p. 66-67, does not support the desired attribu­tion of “πας το θεο” to the “Verbe σαρκος“  There is no reason to sup­pose, as Richard does, that Hippolytus understands “the holy first-born child of God” other than as usual, i.e., “à propos of the incarnate Word rather than of the “Word σαρκος.  M. Richard’s quick identification of “πας το θεο” as a title of eternal Son, the Word “without flesh,” is an implicit denial of the communication of idioms in Jesus the Christ.  There is no division in the Person of Christ which would permit distinguishing his titles between “σαρκος,“ and as Incarnate.  The apostolic Christology knows no such division in Jesus the Lord, and there is no reason to think Hippolytus to have abandoned that tradition.

As Richard has pointed out, Hippolytus is intent upon an exegesis of the Old Testament as prophetic of Jesus the Christ, as later Origen would be.  To read Hippolytus as dissociating Jesus’ eternal and historical generations as κατ πνεμα (according to the spirit) from κατ σρκα (according to the flesh) is to dissociate his exegesis from its foundation, the communi­cation of idioms in Jesus the Lord, which alone can support Hippolytus’ exege­tical project, the Christological interpretation of the Old Testament proper to the free Personal unity of the Christ in the apostolic Christology.

Here as elsewhere Richard simply begs the question, invoking the Thomist Logos-sarx confusion which cannot be at peace with the Personal unity of the “one and the same Son.”  Richard’s disinterest in Photius’ report of Hippolytus’ mention of his having been a disciple of Irenaeus is then com­prehensable.  His further dissociation of Hippolytus from the apostolic tradition is worth noting.  It pivots on his putative reconstruction of the Commentary on the Hexaemeron from its six remaining fragments: (cc. 550-51).  He begins this discussion with an account of Hippolytus presenta­tion of the creation of man.

The book of Genesis contains two recitals of the creation of Adam.  The first (Gen. 1, 26-27) presents the man created in the image and in the likeness of God.  The second (Gen. 2, 7) presents this creation in a more concrete manner.  For Hippolytus, the first recital was prophetic.  It concerned in the first place the humanity of Christ and announced the adoption of saints as brothers by the Christ, as sons by God the Father.  Only the second reports the historical fact of the creation of the first man Adam.  He certainly amply developed this scheme in his Commentary on the Hexaemeron.  In that which has survived of his work there remain only traces, sufficient however to define the major lines of his exegesis.[205]

It is also noteworthy that here at the outset of his reconstruction of Hippolytus’ doctrine of creation, which would have been presented in the lost De Universo and Commentary on the Hexaemeron, of which only fragments remain, Richard drops his customary practice of citing excerpts from Hippolytus’s works in support of his misinterpretation of his theology.  In consequence, the validity of Richard’s summary of Hippolytus’ creation doctrine stands à plein air, without historical foundation.  It can only be regarded as a the imposition a speculative synthesis upon a theologian whom he admits to be nonspeculative.  Further on in his discussion of the creation of man, Richard accounts for this omission:

The commentaries of Hippolytus are very sober on the creation of man, and In Dan. ii, 7, 8, is without doubt the most explicit text.  His Refutatio delays little longer on this subject.  It says only that God created man πασν σνθετον οσιν (x, 33, 7), which is to say, combining in him the four elements (x, 32, 2), and that this man was neither a failed god nor a failed angel, but a man exactly such as God had wished to create.  (Photius [Bibli., cod. 48] quotes a more precise text from the De Universo). [206] (emphasis added).

This quotation from Photius offers a more detailed account of Hippol­ytus’ view of the composition of man from fire, earth, water and spirit but offers nothing of further doctrinal or theological interest.[207] It is important here to note Hippolytus’ assertion that the divine creation is a single act, for from this it must follow that he recognizes man to have been created not as fallen, but as free, as “in Christ,“ with the freedom to fall.  With the apostolic tradition, Hippolytus understands the Incarnation to be redemptive of the catastrophe consequent upon the first Adam’s refusal to be free.

Like Justin, Hippolytus identifies the Mission of the Son with the Incar­nation, which he sees as Jesus’ reconstitution of fallen humanity, and as the central event of fallen history.  He owes to Justin his recognition of the sweep of that history as economic; we have seen that Daniélou considers Justin to have laid the foundations of theology of history.  Dropping that metaphor, he looks upon Irenaeus and his successors as following in Justin’s wake.  Hippolytus is obviously among them.

The fragility of Richard’s confident reconstruction of the “main lines” of Hippolytus’ exegesis in the Commentary on the Hexaemeron appears in the concluding sentence of the following excerpt.

The fragment iii  of the Commentary on the Hexaemeron comments on Gen. 2, 7: “God formed man from the dust of the earth.  What does that mean?  May we say, according to the supposition of some, that three men were produced, un spiritual, one psychic, one terrestrial?  That is not possible, for the entire recital concerns one man.  In fact the (word) “we will make” (RSV: “Let us make) concerns the future.”  The last phrase resolutely excludes Gen. 1, 26 from the discussion of the creation of Adam, and gives us the reason; that verse concerns the future.[208] (emphasis added).

Richard’s finding of a dissociation in Hippolytus theology of the creation account in Gen. 1 from the parallel creation account in Gen. 2 rests on the single statement by Hippolytus that the creation account of Gen. 1:26 refers to the future; which Richard umderstands to be the Parousia, “the final realization of the prophecy of Gen. 1, 26-27:[209]

According to St Paul, if one excepts I Cor. 1:7, the formation of man to the image of Christ, the Word and the Son of God, is a soteriological and eschatological theme (Eltester, op. cit., p. 156-166)

The conclusion of the Refutatio (x, 34, 5) exploits this theme in correlation with Gen. 1, 26-27.  “For the Christ is God above all things, he who has determined to purify all men of sin in order to transform into the new the old man, he who has named the latter “image” from the beginning, manifesting perfectly (δι τúπου) his affection for you.  If you hear his holy commandments and if, in imitating him who is good, yourself becoming good, you would become similar to him, filled with honors by him,.  In sum, God is not poor, and he will make you to be divine for his glory.”  This teaches us how Hippolytus understands the final realization of the prophesy of Gen. 1, 26-27.

I Cor. I:7 reads: ”so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  This verse clearly asserts a historical reception of the grace of Christ, and so a historical expression of the imaging of God.

This inference of a distinction drawn by Hippolytus between the creation narratives in Gen. 1 and Gen. 2, as prophetic and thus eschatological in the former, and achieved in the latter, must be reconciled with Hippolytus’ description of the original creation as a single act (τò κατ ν).[210]  We shall return to this theme.

Here, in order to quote a paragraph found toward the end of Richard’s exposition of the creation of man, we interrupt Richard’s development of his proposed recovery of Hippolytus’ theology of creation of man by way of his speculative reconstitution of the Commentary on the Hexaemeron.  This excerpt concerns the role of the Incarnation in that creation of man which Hippolytus understands to have been prophesied in Gen. 1:26-27, in contrast to the actual event of creation which he understands to be recited in Gen.2:7.  In sum, it bears upon Hippolytus’ exegesis of Gen. 1:26 as simply prophetic, as concerning only the future, in contrast to the focus of Gen. 2:7 upon the immediate objectivity of God’s creative moulding of man from the dust of the earth.

By his incarnation, the Word has recreated, remodeled, the first man, Adam.  This theme is particularly well developed in the fragment In Magnam Odam.  It is mentioned several times elsewhere.  The Word “is king and judge of terrestrial things because he was engendered man among men, remodeling (καινην νπλα­σιν) Adam by himself. De Ant. xxvi).  He had to be “first-born of the Virgin, in order to appear remodeling the first-man, Adam in himself. (In Dan. iv, 11, 5).  “He has passed through the womb of the Virgin, realizing a new remodeling of Adam.” (In Prov. fg. 22).[211]

Clearly, the phrase “concerns the future,” refers to the event of the Incarnation as distinct from the original creation of man “tel que Dieu avait voulu le crée:” as God wished him to create him” (cf. endnote 213, supra).  We now resume that development of “the main lines” of Justin’s exegesis of the Creation narratives.  Richard’s commentary upon Hippolytus’ exegesis of Gen. 1:26, viz., “In fact the (clause) “we will make” concerns the future”  pins Hippolytus’ Christology to the summary statement that Gen. 1:26 “concerns the future,” i.e. the Incarnation, which Hippolytus perceives as the “remod­el­ling” of the original creation of man.  We have seen Richard’s inference:

The last phrase resolutely excludes Gen. 1:26 from the discussion of the creation of Adam, and gives us the reason; that verse concerns the future.

He proceeds to seek support for this inference;

In order to see this more clearly, it is necessary to consider the doctrine of image.  He expounds this (In Dan. ii, 27, 6-8) apropos of the statue of gold raised by Nabuchodonosor in the eighteenth year of his reign and whose dimensions were sixty cubits in height and six in breadth.

These numbers have inspired in him the following commentary. ―6. By the eighteen years, he has imitated Jesus the Son of God who, during his sojourn on the earth, has brought to life again his very image and has shown it, pure and stainless as gold, to his disciples―7. By the height of sixty cubits he has imitated the sixty patriarchs by whom, according to the flesh, the image of God, the Word, was prefigured and pre-modeled, then elevated above all the patriarchs―8. By the breadth of six he has indicated the Hexaemeron.  It is actually on the sixth day that the man, shaped from the dust, has appeared. [212]

Theology of the image to be extracted from this text is manifestly inspired by Saint Paul.  It is evident as to the expression “the image of God, the Word” of § 7. (see II Cor. 4, 4 ; Col. 1,15 ;  Fr. W. Eltester, Εἰκών im Neuen Testament , Berlin, 1968, p. 130-152).  Theme of § 6. according to which the man (the humanity) of Christ is “la propre image” of the Son of God confirms that which has be said above on the typographic exegesis of Gen. I, 26-27, and evokes Rom. 8, 29.  Finally it is very remarkable that the § 8, which mentions the creation of the first man, avoids the word εκών and refers clearly to Gen. 2, 7.[213]

Hippolytus avoids the language of Gen. 1:26-27:

26: Then God said, “let us make man in our image, after  our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. 27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

This tactic  is consistent with his supposition the factual creation of the first man, Adam is the subject of Gen. 2:7;

7 then the Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.

Thus this passage confirms Richard’s reading of his text.  However, it is further remarkable that in this passage Richard finds it necessary to reduce “l’homme” to the abstraction, “l’humanité;” which he then proceeds to iden­ti­fy as the image of the Son.  This device conforms to the concretization by the Thomist Christology of the abstract ‘second substance,’ that is “human nature,”  It is evident that an abstraction cannot be an image, still less “the proper image,” of the Son of God,

Not to ignore the “theme of § 6.”, i.e., the section in which Richard’s treats of  Hippolytus’ theology of the creation of man, we present here its first paragraph, which introduces that “theme:”

§ 6° The creation of man.  The book of Genesis contains two recitals of the creation of man.  The first (Gen. 1, 26-27) presents man as created in the image and likeness of God.  The second (Gen. 2:7) presents this creation in a more concrete manner.  For Hippolyte, the first recital was prophetic.  It concerned in the first place the humanity of Christ and announced the adoption of the saints as brothers by the Christ, as sons by God the Father.  Only the second reported the historical fact of the creation of the first man Adam.  He has certainly developed this schema extensively in his Commentary on the Hexaemeron.  In that which survives of his work, there remain only some traces, sufficient however to define the main lines of his exegesis.[214]

Once again, we find Richard referring to the “humanity of Christ” as the object of the prophecy of Gen. I:26-27.

Richard is convinced that Hippolytus understands Gen. 2: 7 to recite the original, i.e., primordially integral, i.e., pre-fallen, creation of man and, with the fall, the prospect of the redemptive Incarnation, the restoration of fallen man to integrity (i.e., Gen. 1:26-27 and 3:15, the Proto-evangelium).  The Word became incarnate to save sinful humanity.  Hippolytus presents this work of the divine mercy as a quasi-repetition of the creation of man.  Its principal stages are the incarnation, the death upon the Cross, the descent into hell, the resurrection, the Church, and the glorious Parousia.[215]

The problem of the unity of the primordially good creation and that “remodeling” by the Incarnate Word is evident.  Its scriptural resolution is the Pauline doctrine of creation “in the “Beginning, which is to say, in the Mission of the primordial Christ, apart from whose Mission the good creation and its fall are alike unintelligible.

Hippolytus has no doubt that it is “at the end of time” that God has sent his Word, his Son, his “well-beloved,” to take flesh in the womb of the Virgin in order to save a sinful humanity.  The term “at the end of time” cor­re­sponds to the common apostolic conviction that the Incarnation intro­du­ces the last stage of history, the end of times, i.e., the economy of salvation introduced by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Lord.  It is not to be identified, as it is by Richard, with the Parousia, for its “principal stages,” including the Parousia, are historical events within the economy of salva­tion.  It is the Incarnation which Hippolytus supposes to be prophesied by Gen. 1:26-37, not the Parousia simply: Jesus, the Lord of history, is the Alpha as well as the Omega.  .

Hippolytus’ recognition that the object of the Father’s mission of the Son is the Incarnation whose subject is Jesus the Christ is sufficient of f itself to war­rant the attribution to Hippolytus of the apostolic Spirit Christology, with its emphasis upon the full humanity and full divinity of the Christ .  His fur­ther recognition. that Jesus’ taking flesh from the Virgin is the central event of the divine economy and of history, corroborates that attribution.

Hippolytus’ insistence that the Incarnation was foreseen in the sixth day of creation rests upon his reading of Gen. 2 as a prophecy of Christ.  In this he is followed nemine dissentiente by the patristic tradition which uniformly linked Gen. 2:21-24 to its fulfillment in Jn. 19:34.  However, in supposing the Old Testament accounts of the appearance of the Word in the form of a man to be partial manifestations of the Christ, looking forward to his total manifestation in the Incarnation, Hippolytus presupposes the fall of the good creation, and its reconstitution, in short, its redemption, by the Incarnate Christ.  Richard reads a metaphysical priority of the pre-incarnate «Verbe σαρκος» to the Word Incarnate, enfleshed (νσαρκος).into the temporal priority to the Incarnation of these Old Testament manifestations of the Christ. However, the apostolic tradition knows creation to be in Christ, in a single act, τó κατ ν, as Hippolytus also acknowledges.

We have already discussed Richard’s misuse of the Pauline κατ πνεμα, κατ σαρξ polarity to distinguish the eternal from the historical generation of the Son.  It imposes the Thomist dehistorici­za­tion of the Incarnation, its refusal of the Personal humanity of the Son, upon the entirely historical Spirit Christology of Hippolytus, which is very firm on the communication of idioms in Christ, whether in reliance upon the Christology of Irenaeus or of Justin.

However, whatever may be his debt to Irenaeus, Hippolytus’ Christology owes more to Justin  With Justin, Hippolytus supposes the generation of the Son to be subsequent to his impersonal immanence in the Father prior to his generation as the Personal Son of God.  He certainly is of the opinion that, before creation, the Word can only remain in the heart of his Father, an existence which must be impersonal.[216]

Consequently he can speak of the “Father” only in a cosmological sense, the absolute One, the Monad.  Uder this aegis, Hippolytus does not understand the Father as generating the eternal Son ab aeterno.  “Father” is consequently no longer a relative name, but has become cosmological, a designation of the unchangeable absolute, who cannot be named.  However, as do Justin and Tertullian, Hippolytus ignores this contretemps:

Thus he has departed from the heart of God before this creation, and this “departure” is his first generation.  However it causes no change in God, for God is absolutely unchangeable (In Dan, ii, 27, 4).  However, the Father and the Son are two Persons (In ben., p. 26, 2); the Son  is the second after the Father.[217]

Hippolytus’ understanding of the generation of the Son as his sortie (departure) from immanence in the similarly cosmological Father, is only nominally eternal, but is so linked to the Father’s decision to create as to be dependent upon it.  Justin’s confusion over the generation of the Son, as eternal on the one hand on the other hand in some manner subordinate to the cosmologically-conceived Father’s decision to create, induced Justin to iden­tify the generation of the Son with his Mission, understanding that Mission to pervade and transcend all history as its beginning and its end, i.e., as the history of salvation, the economy that is Jesus the Lord’s accom­plishing the redemption of the universe; Hippolytus echoes this confusion in so linking the eternal generation of the Son to a prophecy of the Incarnation as to make the latter the implication of the former.  This melds the generation of the Son with his Mission by the Father, i.e., with his Incarna­tion.  Richard would avoid this by the stressing the distinction which Hippo­lytus places between the two creation accounts, as prophetic with respect to Gen. 1:26-27, and as achieved with respect to Gen. 2:7, but again, with the fall presupposed, apart from which there could be nothing to prophesy.

However, the presupposition of the fall of the good creation is the hallmark of the apostolic Spirit Christology.  The Thomist Christology, on  the other hand, rests upon its notion of creation as ungraced, incapable of sin or virtue.  Every attempt to reconcile this notion of an ungraced creation iwht the Incarnation must entail such contradictions in terms as the “obediential potency” and its successor, the “supernatural existential,” neither of which can be given historical foundation without undercutting the Thomist insistence that grace is accidental rather than substantial, the corollary of the Thomist refusal of the creation in Christ which Paul celebra­ted in Col. 1:15-23.

Once creation in Christ, the Head, has been ignored, and with it the Pauline-Johannine tradition, no foundation for a Catholic Christology remains.  This becomes all too evident with Marcel Richard’s insertion, into Hippolytus’ primitive exposition of the apostolic Spirit Christology, of his own Thomist failure to accept the primordial pre-existence of Jesus the Lord, as clearly taught by John and Paul, and as implicit in the Synoptic use of “Logos.”  With St. Thomas, he supposes the pre-existence of the Eternal Son («le Verbe σαρκος») to be eternal sensu negante, with the consequence of reading into Hippolytus’ text a denial of the humanity of the Christ of the Old Testament epiphanies.[218]

Left to its own devices, Hippolytus’ Christology is simply that of the apostolic tradition defined at Nicaea and thereafter, over and again.  He asserts a single act of the creation of man, which is the creation of the universe of man in its primordial perfection, and therefore as free.  As Henri de Lubac pointed out long ago, freedom cannot be imposed; it can only be accepted by those to whom it is offered in the moment of creation.  Freedom may be refused: this refusal was the sin of Adam, the “one man” by whom sin entered into the world.  Once fallen, the remodeling, the refashioning of the universe requires a renewal of the gift of the Spirit of freedom, a  renewal which is a new creation, the final achievement of the Mission of the Son, the primordial, pre-fallen Jesus the Lord who, as the human head of humanity, the source of its free unity, entered into its fallenness to take upon himself the task of which only he was capable, the remodeling, in himself, of a restored humanity. 

It is curious that Hippolytus should insist that he does this alone, by himself; here perhaps is a latent recognition of Jesus’ headship of all creation.  M. Richard, as we have seen, would project this restoration into the eschaton, and would enlist Paul in this reading of Hippolytus.  In pro­ceeding thus he accepts that Thomist exegesis of Paul which denies the historicity of the Logos, of the Mission of the Son, and would reduce the Sac­ri­fice of the Mass to a “Real Presence” indistinguishable from its Lutheran surrogate in that it not historical, not the Event by which the Jesus is the Lord of history, transcending it from within as its Beginning and its End.  The dehistoricization of the Sacrifice of the Mass is the consequence, as Cyril saw, of the Nestorian dehistoricization of the Son, inspired by Theodore of Mopsuestia’s Aristotelianizing of the liturgical tradition.

®® The Divine Titles of the Christ

Richard opens this topic by a summary statement of this central thesis: The Word, the  first-born, only-begotten Son of God, the Child of God, the Wisdom of God, the Christ, king and judge of the universe, has left the heart of the Father.  He is manifest as such well before rather than after the Incar­na­tion.  Richard finds it is proper to insist on this point, for it has been contes­ted, at least in part.

The current opinionand it is one of the crimes of the Contra Noetumis that, according to Hippolytus, the Word became Son or, at least, perfect Son, only by the Incarnation.  Everything that has survived of the authentic work of Hippolytus protests against this accusation.[219]

Richard proceeds to defend Hippolytus against this misunderstanding of the Sonship of the Word, insisting that from eternity the Word is the Son.  He remarks that “The clearest text, perhaps, is In Dan. iv, II, 5, inspired by Col. I, 15-18; he quotes it in full:

“The Father, having thus submitted all to his own Son, that which is in the heavens and that which is on earth and that which is under the earth, has yet shown that he was the first-born in all ways, the first-born of God, in order that it be evident that he is the second after the Father, the Son of God, first-born before the angels, in order that he appear lord of the angels; first-born of a virgin, in order that he be seen recreating in himself the first created Adam, first-born of the dead, in order that he become the first-fruits of our resurrection.”[220]

The corresponding verses in Col. 1:15-18 are familiar:

He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation;16 for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. (RSV)

16. Every created thing had its origin in him and exists for himThrones . . .authorities refer to various ranks of angels (Eph. 6:12).

There can be no doubt that in the foregoing excerpt from Col. 1, Paul is speaking of the historical Christ, nor can there be any doubt that in the Com­men­tary in Daniel Hippolytus is doing the same, viz., linking the prophe­cy of Daniel to its fulfillment by the historical Christ.  His exegesis had no other goal than this.  M. Richard rejects Nautin’s attribution of the Contra Noetum to Hippolytus mainly on grounds of the flawed Greek of that docu­ment, from which it does not follow that its attribution to Hippo­lytus of a concern for the identity of the eternal with the historical Son is in error, although Richard labels it a méfait (misdeed, crime).  It is past discus­sion that the Christ was named “one and the Same Son” contemporaneously with Hippolytus’ earliest writings, and that Hippolytus was familiar with Irenaeus’ Adversus Haereses in which that assertion continually appears.

It is further evident that Hippolytus did suppose the Son to achieve his headship of humanity only in the Incarnation, for it is then that Hippolytus understood the Son to have not only reconstituted the original creation of man as without sin, which fell with the disobedience of the first Adam, but refashioned, “remodeled,” that creation in the image of God as prophesied in Gen. 1:26-27.  Richard would throw that imaging into the eschaton, the Parousia, citing II Cor. 4, 4 and Col 1:15 as though in support.  But Paul never separates the eschaton from the salvation history of which Christ is the Beginning and the End.  His salvation history is Eucharistically ordered, and entails that affirmation of Eucharistic realism and efficacy which we read in I Cor. 11.

Here it is appropriate to recall Photius’ praise of Hippolytus for his insistent Naming the Logos “Christ,” a historical Name for ‘the Anointed’ which can apply to the Son only as incarnate.  It is therefore clearly not the case that, in praising Hippolytus’ Christology, Photius understood it in the context of the Logos-sarx analysis Richard imposes upon it.

There can be no doubt that Hippolytus understands the Son to be eternally the Son. M. Richard has insisted:

It was the central theme of theological system of Hippolytus[221].

Richard frequently refers to “theological system of Hippolytus,” using that expression loosely to designate themes which Hippolytus underwrote.  Hippolytus was in no sense a systematic thinker, as Richard has several times remarked.

However, Richard confuses that “central theme” in supposing that the actions of the Son in history before the Incarnation, e.g., those narrated in the Old Testament, are not actions of the “one and the same Son,” Jesus the Christ, but of \the nonhistorical eternal Son, prior to his incarnation,.  In short, Richard has Hippolytus denying the primordial pre-existence of Jesus the Lord.  The consequence would be that the Mission of the Son is under­stood as nonhistorical, independent of the economy of salvation in Christo, perhaps in the Thomist sense of the “invisible missions of the Son and the Spirit,”[222] echoing theology routinely taught in Catholic diocesan seminaries prior to Vatican II.

In any event, the denial of the primordial pre-existence of the incarnate Jesus the Lord dissociates Hippolytus from the clearly apostolic Spirit Chris­tol­ogy (Jn. 1:14, 17:8; Phil. 2:5-13; I Cor. 15:45) which was universal in the late second and third centuries and was witnessed well into the fourth.  It is the Christology of the Apostolic Fathers, of Tertullian in De Carne Christi, of Origen in Peri Archon, as it was of the Eustathians, of Marcel­lus and of Athanasius in the latter half of the fourth century.  It is implicit in the Nicene definition of the Personal homoousion of the Son with the Father, for that Personal unity of the Son is also human, and cannot but be consub­stantial with ours, for we are created in him, the Head who is  our source.

This implication of the Nicene decree was affirmed explicitly in the Formula of Union, the summary doctrinal statement of the Council of Ephesus, which taught the consubstantiality of Jesus with us and, upon on that affirmation of his Personal humanity, affirmed the apostolic tradition that his mother, Mary, is the Mother of God.  (Mt. 2:16, 18-25 12:46,; Mk. 3:31, Lk. 1:35, 2:23, 48-51; Jn. 2:1, 12; 25-27; Acts 2:14)

The Symbol of Chalcedon confirmed the doctrine of the Formula of Union, and, affirming eight times that Jesus is “one and the same Son,” links the entire doctrinal tradition to Irenaeus’ radical insight into the Personal unity of Jesus the Lord, his consubstantiality with the Father and with those for whom he died.  If, as Photius reports (Codex 121), Hippolytus was a disciple of Irenaeus, his Christology would have been that of his mentor; if not, he could not but have been familiar with it.  Finally, in close asso­cia­tion with Tertullian, we do not find him contesting Tertullian’s De Carne Christi, whose affirmation of the full humanity and full divinity of Christ the Lord is as clear as that of Irenaeus and, like his, has entered into the Symbol of Chalcedon.

®® Doctrine

Under this heading Richard firsr points out the particular characteristics of Hippolytus’ talent.  He is primarily a narrator and a catechist, lacking sys­te­­matic interest and ability.  His hostility to the Greek philosophical tradition arises out of a personal antipathy to speculation as such; it is not simply a resis­tance to the underlying paganism of the classic tradition.  He rarely uses abstract terms.  The historical-typological exegesis that constitutes the greater part of his work is better adapted to his talent than is apologetics.  His biblical commentaries reveal his natural thought; the same doctrine appears in his apologetic works, which imitate those of the second century.

®® Biblical exegesis

Hippolytus is the first to have commented in a connected fashion upon important parts of the Old Testament; Origen would soon imitate him.  Both worked to provide its Christian interpretation, which had become a necessity for the Church whose faith in Jesus understood him to be the fulfillment of the OT prophecies.  This required investigation and elaboration, which Hip­pol­y­tus and Origen both sought to provide.

Origen proceeded in a methodological fashion, while Hippolytus’ exege­sis used a more traditional, if less original, liturgical and pastoral approach.  The literary genres of his commentaries found their models in Judaism, and in the Jewish-Christian and Christian preaching of the second century, as Richard praises Daniélou for having shown.[223].  For Hippolytus, the Bible is the unique source of all truth, and never deceives us.  M. Richard under­stands Hippolytus’ typological exegesis to reflect that convic­tion; in that he never seeks an allegorical explanation of the literal text.  Had Richard not ignored Daniélou’s brilliant exposition of Justin’s theology in this same work (pp. 147-53), he could not have missed Justin’s influence upon Hippol­ytus, which is particularly evident in his notion of God the Father, of the generation of the Word, and the relation of that generation to the divine creation,

Hippolytus’ doctrine of the generation of the Word is set out in two works which we have seen to have been lost apart from fragments: these are his Commentary on the Hexaemeron and his De Universo.  Photius, who. as has been seen, read the De Universo, had high praise for it:

On the subject of Christ our true God, he teaches using ideas of a rigorous exactness; he attributes to him formally the very name of Christ and gives an impeccable explanation of his ineffable procession from the Father.” (citation!!)

In short, Photius asserts that in this work Hippolytus speaks historically of the Word, identifying him with the Christ, Jesus the Lord.  The only sur­viv­ing theological treatment of these problems in what remains of Hippol­y­tus’ writings is a brief resumé in Refutatio x, 32, 1-33, 8, which Richard considers to merit “une étude minutieuse.” In what follows we summarize his étude.

The doctrinal resumé of the Refutratio begins with an uncompromising affirmation of monotheism: one God is the creator of all things; Hippolytus details the reality of that creation.  He then proceeds to treat of the genera­tion of the Word, the executor of the Father’s wishes.  He uses the vocabu­lar­y of profane psychology, as his predecessors had, but with a certain clumsiness.  Intent in the first place to counter the Gnostic and Mar­ci­onite rejection of the Christian faith in the one creator God, he proceeds to affirm that the one God is the creator; and then that he creates by the Word alone in a single act; Richard observes that in this he links the generation of the Word to creation, although the text does not say this explicitly.  Hippolytus teaches us only that this generation of the Word precedes all creation, for the Father’s creative act is executed by the Word, whose gener­a­tion is the a priori principle of creation.  This is very similar to the Christology of Justin.  When the Father is not distinguished from the divine substance, it is not possible to affirm the eternal generation of the Son.  Hippolytus’ exegetical commentaries reveal the same doctrinal themes, but in rather different terms.  Monotheism, the generation of the Word before all creation, the Word’s execution of the wishes of the Father, are all present in the commentaries.  However Richard notes that in the commentaries allusions to creation are rare.  Sometimes creation is attributed to God alone, sometimes to God by the Word.

On the generation of the Word, Hippolytus’ habitual formula is that the Word departs from or is engendered from the heart of the Father.  Sometimes the “heart” of the Father is replaced by his “mouth.  As engen­dered, he Son is king and judge of heavenly beings (êtres célestes).

Hippolytus has spent little time scrutinizing the interior life of God before all creation, apart from affirming the eternity of the Word.  Hippoly­tus holds that before creation there is only God alone and, in his heart, the Word.  From the first instant of creation, the Word leaves the heart of the Father to act as executor of the Father’s wishes.  Thus his departure from the heart of the Father antecedes creation, and this “sortie” from the heart of the Father is his first generation, which is eternal.  It causes no change in the Father, who is unchanging.  However, the Father and the Son are two Persons (In ben., p. 26, 2).  The Son is second after the Father. (In Dan. IV, II, 5)[224]

Richard proceeds to ask what is to be made of this doctrine.  He recalls that Hippolytus thinks concretely, with small talent in metaphysics.  His the­olo­gy is resolutely Christocentric.  It reverts easily to the origin of the world, but only timidly ventures beyond that point.  He has the merit of recog­nizing that the Word, God from God, pre-exists not only his Incarna­tion but pre-exists also the creation of the universe, that his generation in the womb of Mary had been preceded by a strictly divine generation, which took place before all things (πρ πντων, πρ ωσφρυ).  Richard remarks that Hippolytus’ overly positivist mentality does not permit a notion of the pre-existence of the Word beyond πρ πντων αἰώνων, i.e. before all ages.  He certainly thinks that before creation the Word could only remain in the heart of the Father.

Richard considers Hippolytus’ comparison of the Word hidden in the heart of the Father to a sealed vessel of perfume to provide a better insight into his doctrine than does his laborious exposition and rejection, in the Refu­tatio x, 33, 1, of the pagan wisdom.   Supposing the unsealing of the vessel to be the generation of the Word as eternal Son, the diffusion of the perfume does provides a graphic image of his benefactions upon creation.  Well and good; however, this insight is profoundly flawed:

Before the creation, there was only God alone and, in his heart, the Word.[225]

This can hardly be the case.  Thus conceived, God the Father is not eternally the Father, nor the Son eterrnally the Son.  Were its logic pushed, the identification of God the Father with the divine substance would proceed to a subordinationism, which Richard has shown Hippolytus to reject.  Fur­ther, he nowhere states that the Word is inferior to the Father, and he often affirms, without the slightest reservation, the divinity of the Christ..[226]

Inasmuch as Richard vigorously protests, in fact incriminates (c. 548), the view that the Word becomes Son only at the Incarnation, he can hardly approve Hippolytus’ view that the Father’s begetting of the eternal Son can somehow be in abeyance prior to the Father’s creation of the universe.  Hip­pol­ytus, disinterested in speculative matters, accepted as his own Justin’s naïve supposition of a divine duré antecedent to the generation of the Son and the prolation of the Spirit.  This notion survived his feud with Callistus, whose quasi-Monarchianism relied upon much the same cosmological under­­­­stand­­ing of the transcendence of the one God as did the Trinitarianism of Hippolytus.  Well into the third century, Tertullian, similarly influenced by Justin, continued to maintain a cosmological notion of God whose reality is antecedent to his generation of the Son and production of the Spirit.[227]:

It is not less evident that the subject of the quarrel was the first generation of the Word anterior to all things.  This was the central thesis of Hippolytus’ theological system, and Callistus would have no part of it.[228]

“The quarrel” to which Richard here refers was quite as much between Callistus and Tertullian as between Callistus and Hippolytus.  Both men sup­posed the Father to be the cause of the Trinity, and Tertullian’s Trinitas certainly includes him, but almost twenty years after proposing it, Tertullian could still speak cosmologically of the Father, quite evidently influenced by Justin.

Certain people affirm that in Hebrew Genesis begins, In the beginning God made for himself a son.  Against the ratification of this I am persuaded by other arguments from God’s ordinance in which he was before the foundation of the world until the generation of the Son.  For before all things God was alone, himself his own world and location and everything—alone however because there was nothing eternal beside him.  Yet not even then was he alone: for he had with him that Reason which he had in himself—his own, of course.  For God is rational, and reason is primarily in him, and thus from him are all things; and that Reason is his consciousness. [229]

Within this cosmological context, it is clearly absurd to speak of God as the source of the Trinitas, as Tertullian certainly understands him to be.  The­o­logy must wait upon Origen’s Peri Archon for an explicit recognition that the Eternal Father is so Named by reason of his eternal generation of the Son.  Tertullian simply takes it for granted.

But, to proceed: M. Richard points out that, for Hippolytus, the departure of the Word from ‘the heart of the Father,’ i.e., the Father’s generation of the Son, requires a reason, some other reality on the part of the Father to account for his generation of the Son.  He finds it in the Fathers will (volunté) to create, a finding which so links the generation of the Word to creation as to explain Hippolytus’ stress upon his eternal generation and consequent equality with the Father, simply as a necessary doctrinal correc­tive to the evident implications of the Word’s conditioned generation.  Beyond that, Richard observes, Hippolytus does not venture.  He finds in this first generation of the Word “the mystery of mysteries and the marvel of marvels.”

®3. The Holy Spirit

M. Richard has written an introduction to Hippolytus’ treatment of this subject which merits quotation here:

The Holy Spirit is one of the most mysterious points of the doctrine of Hippolytus,.  It is everywhere in his work, as much in his apologetic works as in his commen­tar­ies.  However, the sole statement of his system of theology that has survived, Refut. X, 32-34, ignores it entirely.  It assures us that only the Word has been engendered of God.  Only the Word has proceeded from the Being and this is why he is God and substance of God (33, 1 and 8).  To the Word, Hippolytus opposes the creation, whose entirety has emerged from nothing, at first the four elements, fire and spirit (pneuma) water and earth, then the angels (fire), the stars (fire and spirit), the fishes and the birds (water), the reptiles and the quadrupeds (earth), finally the man (the four elements) (33, 4-7).  On the other hand, according to the treatise De Universo (Photius, Bibl. Codex 48) God has made the soul of man with the most noble part of the spirit.  Where to place the Holy Spirit in this system?  And everywhere, from the beginning of the Refutatio (Pref. 6), Hippolytus announces to his readers his intention of communicating to them generously “those gifts of the Holy Spirit: ”σα παρχει τ γιον πνεμα.[230]

Hippolytus has no developed theology of the Holy Spirit; his affirmations of the Holy Spirit are consequently doctrinal and catechetical.  This puts in clear issue Richard’s supposition that Hippolytus understands the Holy Spirit to have a role in the Incarnation, i.e., that the Person of the Holy Spirit is intended by the “πνεμα γιον:” of Lk. 1:35.  This would have been a speculative innovation unexampled elsewhere in his work.  We have seen Richard’s emphasis upon this eisegesis of Lk. 1:35.[231]  It is worth noting that in a strategic passage, Richard finds no role of the Holy Spirit in the remodeling of man that is at  one with the Incarnation of the Word:

The Word became incarnate to save sinful humanity.  Hippolytus presents this work of the divine mercy as a quasi-repetition of the creation of man.  Its principal stages are the incarnation, the death upon the Cross, the descent into hell, the resurrection, the Church, and the glorious Parousia.[232]

This reveals the confusion of Marcel Richard’s understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in the Incarnation, which he attributes to Hippolytus/  However, Hippolytus understands the Incarnation in terms of the Spirit Christology of Lk. 1:35, which refers to Jesus’ presence to Mary as that of πνεμα γιον (i.e., Spirit, without the article.  Despite the mistranslations of the Constantinopolitan Creed, which afflict even the celebration of the Mass of the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, and cannot be understood to have a role in the Incarnation, upon which his Mission as the Spiritus Creator depends.

There follows an extensive development of these themes, in which the Holy Spirit is not mentioned, despite what Richard has described as “very clear texts showing that he attributes a large role to the Holy Spirit in this conception (by the Virgin)l.[233]   The third Person of the Trinity is not active in the renouvellement which Jesus alone effects by his Incarnation.

By his incarnation, the Word has recreated, remodeled, the first man Adam.  This theme is particularly well developed in the fg 1 In magnam Odam.  It is men­tioned several times elsewhere.  The Word “is king and judge of terrestrial things because he was engendered man among men, remodeling (ναπλσσων) Adam by himself “ (De Ant. xxvi).  He had to be “first-born of the Virgin, in order that he might appear remodeling in himself the first-man Adam.” (In Dan. iv, 11, 5).  “He traversed the womb of the Virgin, realizing a new remodeling (καινν νπλασιν) of Adam” (In Prov. fg. 22).[234]  (Emphases added).

This dissociation of the Holy Spirit from that refashioning of man which Hippolytus imputes to the Incarnation, i.e., to the Virgin’s conception of the Christ, requires the inference that Richard has read Lk. 1:35 in a manner which Hippolytus would not have recognized.  Hippolytus’ assertion of the Word’s remodeling “by himself” of the fallen first Adam is conclusive of this point.

®®.An Assessment of Hippolytus’ Spirit Christology

We thus limit Hippolytus’ theology to his Christology─simply because he has no theology of the Holy Spirit.  Richard has observed that in the work that has survived, Hippolytus never mentions the Trinity.  This does not put his orthodoxy in doubt, for he assigns the usual offices to the Holy Spirit, but he has no clear understanding of the modality of the Spirit’s origin from the Father: there was none in the third century, nor would there be until well into the fourth.  The divinity of the Holy Spirit was liturgically underwritten, specifically in Baptism, but Lucifer of Cagliari was the first to affirm his consubstantiality with the Father, probably shortly before his friend Athan­asi­us said as much in his Letters to Serapion, ca. 359; see endnotes 422 and 587.

Consequently this assessment of Hippolytus theology can only be Chris­to­logical.  The major flaw of his Christology is its incongruous identification of God the Father with the cosmological absolute, which he undoubtedly owes to Justin Martyr.  Two centuries later, this theme troubled Greek theol­ogy, by way of the powerful influence of Eusebius of Caesarea, until its final dismissal by the First Council of Constantinople.  The source in Justin of the cosmological latencies in Hippolytus’ theology are unmistakable.  They remain latencies; Hippolytus, like Justin, ignores them.  Nonetheless, they should be recognized as typical of the earliest theological entries into the faith that Jesus is the Lord, for the identification of God as the Absolute still lingers; M. Richard echoes it speaking of Hippolytus’ lack of a theology of the Spirit as entailed in his restriction of “sortie de Dieu” to the eternal generation of the Word, he remarks of the Word that:

He alone has departed from the Being, and this is why he is God and substance of God.[235] (emphasis added).

This same inability to account for the divinity of the Holy Spirit led the left-wing homoiousians, notably Eustathius of Sebaste, to deny his hyposta­tic reality: thus the binitarian latency in the homoiousian “homoios kat’ousian” which became explicit with Hilary of Poitiers.

The same supposition that the divine is the Absolute is more commonly encountered in the quasi-Nestorian assumption that God cannot die, that Christ as God dies only in his humanity.  Its first and most obvious flaw is that then God, as absolute, cannot be a member of the Trinity, still less its immanent Head, as Tertullian and Hippolytus certainly suppose him to be.  It has the further implication that the divine cannot be immanent in history because as absolute, God is “immobile;” as Absolute, he cannot change; he cannot move.  Further, as Absolute, nothing relative can refer to the Father.  He is therefore ineffable, he cannot be Named.  This carries the implication that whatever is named is recognized as limited, as less than Absolute.  Daniélou observes that Justin supposes that the absolute Father’s Naming of Jesus places a limit upon Jesus’ divinity[236].  Hippolytus, like Justin, like Tertullian, ignores this consequence, for it is clearly overridden by the litur­gi­cal-doxological Naming of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, inseparable in their ordered unity.

Tertullian and Hippolytus take the indicated further step: the liturgical Naming of the members of the Trinity connotes in each case a concretely unique divine Person (Persona, Πρόσωπον) inseparable from the other two.  Thus, despite their common inability to understand the manner of the Father’s “production” of the Holy Spirit, the second and third century theologians, under the authority of the apostolic tradition, i.e., the Church’s liturgy, converted the Absolute Father from cosmological to liturgical, i.e., historical intelligibility.  No longer understood as Absolute, as a divine Monad locked into cosmological necessities, the Father is freed to become the unquestioned Personal Source of the Trinity, by reason of his generation of the Son, Jesus the Lord, the object of the historical worship of the historical Church.  Inasmuch as the liturgical tradition forbade any diminu­tion of the Holy Spirit or any separation of the Naming of the Holy Spirit from the Naming of the Father and the Son, it is only in union with Holy Spirit that the Father and the Son can be worshiped.

There remains a certain cosmological confusion among the first expon­ents of the doctrine of the Trinity.  Hippolytus understands the Father to be a Person; he is Named the Father by his generation of the Son, but the Son is second to him.  There are not sufficient remnants of Hippolytus’ theology to know whether he understood this secondary position as Tertullian had, as the Church does, i.e., as a relation of order rather than of inferiority, but M. Richard denies any indication of subordinationism in Hippolytus’ Chris­tology.  He understands the Naming of the Son to be his divinization by the Father, who sends the Son into the creation and into history as the executor of his will.  Justin understands this Naming of the Son as the grant to Jesus of that power by which he orders the economy of salvation: here Hippolytus echoes Justin’s Christology.  Richard has found no reference by Hippolytus to “Power of God“ (δúναμις θεο) although he freely refers to Christ as the Wisdom of God (σοφα θεο) [237].  However, the Father’s grant to the Son’s of executive authority over the whole of creation cannot but connote a corresponding power, as Justin had seen.  Simply as generated, as sent, Jesus is the power of God the Father who, as absolute, cannot act in history.  For Justin, this connoted a subordination, which he ignores thereafter; for Hippolytus it does not.  Justin says nothing of the Holy Spirit in his Apologies, and therefore may have had no notion of the Trinity.  He was martyred a decade or two before Theophilus wrote his Ad Autolycum, in which he asserted that God is a Trias, and also before Athenagoras, who understood the trias to be an order, a τξις (taxis), inherent in the Church’s worship of Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.

This is well before Irenaeus became a bishop and, ca. 182, began to develop his Christology during the period of peace following the death of Marcus Aurelius and the end of his persecution of the Church.  It is summed up in his doctrine that Jesus the Lord is the one and the same Son.  This axiom presupposed the Mission of Jesus by the Father, and thus invoked the doctrine of the Trinity.  Irenaeus’ insight into that mission as one of recapit­ulation by one and the same Son arriaved too late for Justin; his Christology could not profit from Irenaeus’ exposition of this crucial Pauline doctrine, although his recognition of the universal authority of Jesus over the whole of creation corresponds to it.  Hippolytus, writing three or four decades after Justin’s martyrdom and probably taught by Irenaeus, is quite clearly familiar with our salvation as the Christ’s recapitulation of all things.

®®®. Hippolytus’ Christological Narrative

Hippolytus’ theology, like Justin’s, rests upon the apostolic catechesis; it has the unity of that catechesis, simply that of the Spirit Christology, which is the subject of a narrative rather than a systematic treatment.  It begins with the good creation of the first Adam, who stands for the whole of humanity and in a more than representative sense.  The first Adam, as God willed him to be, was free, and sinned; his fall is the fall of humanity.  Here there the doctrine of headship is clearly in mind, for the fall of the first Adam would not otherwise be the fall of humanity.

The primordial Jesus is sent, to become incarnate in “traversing” the womb of the Virgin, in order to restore humanity to its pre-fallen sinless condition, in historical stages whose culmination is the Parousia.  Like Justin, Hippolytus clearly distinguishes the salvific deeds of Jesus, i.e., the economy of salvation, from the final salvation, the Parousia which, as a culmination, is anagogic and therefore historical.

It is important to note that for Hippolytus, it is Jesus who is sent by the Father.  As with the patristic tradition generally, following Phil. 2:6-7, Hippolytus identified Jesus’ Mission with his Incarnation, but with Phil. 2:6-7, he understands the subject of the Mission to be the pre-existent or primordial Jesus of the Spirit Christology.  In light of the confusion induced by M. Richard’s attempted systematization of Hippolytus’ narrative, it should be stressed here that it is Jesus who, as the Lord of history, is the subject of the Old Testament theophanies, which Hippolytus understands, with all of the patristic tradi­tion, to be prophetic of the Christ: M. Richard has seen that this is the subject of his exegesis: Jesus is incarnate as the head of humanity, in so strict an association with the fallen first Adam as resume his headship in what amounts to a narrative of Irenaeus’ recapitulation theme.  By his “remodeling” of the first Adam, Jesus redeems the humanity which is created in him.

®®®Hippolytus ecclesiology

M. Richard’s presentation of Hippolytus’ ecclesiology is curiously deficient.  He understands the Church to be composed of the “saints,” to whom the Holy Spirit has been given by baptism, and whose conduct has shown the reality of their conversion.  There is a single mention of the Eucharist, whose bread and wine are among the delights of heaven.  Its sacrificial institution, by Christ the High Priest, is ignored.   Baptism and the faith consequent upon it are the criterion of membership in the Church.

The criterion by which it has been proposed that Hippolytus is to be understood, viz., his Spirit Christology, is incompatible with M. Richard’s presentation of Hippolytus’ ecclesiology.  Hippolytus, a priest for nearly forty years, would not have ignored the sacramental foundation of the Church, nor the sacramental nourishment of the faith.  Granted his rigorist moral doctrine, which accounted some sins unforgivable and therefore  held such sinners to be expelled from the Church, he would the more have stressed the necessity of Eucharistic communion and of penance in the lives of its members.  This was the doctrine of Justin Martyr, the Apologist upon whose theology Hippolytus relied.

In sum, Hippolytus, like Justin, like Tertullian, was a man of the Church, as his death witnesses.

4. The Eastern Christology before Nicaea

a. Clement of Alexandria

Clement’s Christology is that of the Apostolic Fathers.  He reads the πνεμα γιον of Lk. 1:35 as a reference to the primordial Christ.[238]  We have seen this to be the usual exegesis of that passage well into the fourth century; it is at one with the apostolic identification of the Logos with Jesus the Lord.  On both counts, Clement upholds the communication of idioms in Jesus.  This commitment to the historical faith of the Church in the historical Name, Jesus the Lord, is in parallel with an early version of that musing upon the mystery of the faith which Crouzel has aptly designated “a moment (or moments) of reason.” These are focused upon the concretely historical reality that is Jesus the Lord, faith in whom prompts a quaerens intellectum largely crippled by a cosmologized imagination, a habit of thought which spontaneously dehistoricizes Jesus the Lord without any intent to deny the historical faith that Jesus is Lord, which prompted his speculation.  We will find instances of these “moments of reason”, this musing upon the Mysterium fidei, in Tertullian and especially in Origen, both of whom make that mystery, the communication of idioms, or of Names in Jesus the Lord, the foundation of their theology.

In his version of these “moments of reason,” Clement is sufficiently influenced by Middle Platonism to understand the Christ’s sinlessness in terms of the Stoic apatheia: i.e., virtue as exemption from all desires.  He understands the Logos to be the ruling principle in Jesus, in such wise that the Logos may seem to take over the role of his soul.  Jesus’ human soul is probably real enough in Clement’s thought, but he gives it no real function.  Having reduced virtue to in apatheia, i.e., human indifference to the irrational historical circumstances against which Clement, with the Stoics, believed human striving to be futile, the practice of virtue is left without valid historical expression, since virtue consists in the abdication of all personal responsibility for the future. 

Clement’s quietist tendency is an aspect of the dualism of the time. Were it not subordinated to the radical historicity of his Spirit Christology, it would evoke a profoundly pessimistic flight from our sup­pos­edly futile reactions to the vagaries of physical existence and so of material events, whose causes are implacable, immanently necessary. (See endnote   Clement is no Gnostic, but his theological speculation is tainted by the Stoic variant of the dehistoricizing dualism of Platonism.

Under this aegis, Jesus’ humanity would become rather an obstacle to salvation than, as Irenaeus and the generally the Western tradition generally saw it, the indispensable condition of our recapitulation in Christ.  However, in the way of this too easy inference stands Clement’s clear commitment to the communication of idioms in Christ, which cannot be abstract, for its sole ground is the Church’s faith that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Beyond this, Clement’s contribution to Christology is minor.  In any case, after his drop­ping of the oversight of the Catechetical School and flight from Alexan­dria around the thirties of the third century, the East belonged to Origen.  He succeeded Clement as the de facto third director of the School when he was less than twenty years of age, and led it until Bishop Demetrius of Alexan­dria, angered at his irregular ordination by the bishop of Caesarea, exiled him from Alexandria in 231.

b. Origen

i. Introduction

This examination of theology of Origen’s Peri Archon, as set out in its translation by Rufinus, the Peri Archon, and in such fragments as remain of the Greek original, relies primarily upon the now standard edition of the Peri Archon by Henri Crouzel and Manlio Simonetti, Origène: Traité des Principes.[239] and upon Crouzel’s Origen.[240]  English translations of excerpts from Origen’s works are by W. A. Jurgens, Early Fathers I, unless otherwise indicated.

The focus of this present inquiry into Origen’s Christological-Trinitarian synthesis is systematic,[241] in that it rests upon, examines, and provides a hypothetical integration of the implications of Origen’s foundation of his theology upon the communication of divine and human idioms in the Christ.[242]  This foundation is alone consistent with his summary statement of the doctrinal tradition in the Preface of the Peri Archon.[243]

In reliance upon the free coherence intrinsic to that free foundation, the product of his faith commit-ment to the free intelligibility of the Revelation who is Christ, this inquiry will propose resolutions of most of the difficulties in his thought which arise out of the cosmological confusion to which orthodox Christian speculation is always liable.  Granted the justice of the admonitions of two of the greatest scholars of Origen’s works during the past century, Henri Crouzel and Henri de Lubac, against imposing an inadequately informed extrapolation of coherence upon a theology steeped in paradox, it remains possible to ask whether it may be that the ‘paradoxes’ are alien to the coherence his theology intends, whether they be introduced by Origen himself, in apparent reversions to the Platonic dualism radically incompatible with his postulate of the unity of the fullness of divinity and the fullness of humanity in Jesus the Lord, or by his critics, themselves influenced by the same incongruous cosmological temptations which, in numerous places, may appear to distract Origen from his doctrinal commitment to the Personal unity of Jesus the Lord[244].

Cosmological rationality, from its earliest articulations, has been com­mit­ted to dehistoricizing reality in order that it may be intelligible within the context of immanently necessary determinist postulates.  It immediately contradicts the free rationality of the Catholic tradition, for that tradition is historical with the historicity of the Church’s Eucharistic worship.  The sub­mis­sion of the Church’s worship in truth of Truth, of the Mysterium fidei who is Jesus the Lord, to deterministic postulates is inevitably a rejection of that Mystery as though it were irrational, in favor of a non-historical or ideal Absolute, however designated.

It is only from that cosmological stance that, the Catholic faith can be found to be ”paradoxical,” viz., in flat contradiction of the confident “com­mon sense’ which cannot accept the faith that Jesus Christ is God.[245].  If the term is to be used theologically, it should be used accurately: “paradox” denotes apparent, not actual, contradiction.[246]  If Origen’s theology be deemed paradoxical, it is so only in its confident assertion of full humanity and full divinity of Jesus Christ the Lord.  Paradox, thus understood, does not connote incoherence; its “paradox” is simply its rejection of the value of cosmo­logical rationality, and its confidence in the truth and reality of the Mysterium fidei which has no prior possibility.

It can hardly be proposed that Origen did not understand his “connected body of doctrine” to be coherent.[247]  He describes its purpose as the enabling of learned Catholics to defend and support their Catholic faith in the highly controversial ambience of the third century.  The difficulty in understanding Origen arises out of what is in fact paradoxical, the intrinsically free, i.e., historical, coherence of the Catholic faith in the Mysterium fidei, with the consequence that no comprehensive synthesis of it is possible.  Because the mystery of Jesus the Lord is inexhaustible, such hypotheses as systematic theology proceeds to frame must remain conjectural, as they do in Origen’s Peri Archon.  His theology rests upon a radically free conversion from the rationality we have labeled “sarkic,” in the sense of a fallen and consequent­ly at once fragmented and fragmenting rationality.  In sum, Origen’s theolo­gy rests upon a conversion from the nihilistic rationalism of the cosmologi­cal mindset which presupposes the irrationality of history as such and seeks to transcend it in pursuit of a timeless empyrean whose vacuity annuls those who pursue it.

Paul understood the fall to be consequent upon the first Adam’s primor­dial refusal of the free unity proffered him as the prospective head of the good creation, whose goodness, as taught in Gen. 1: 25-31, is its free nuptial unity.[248]  The consequence of the first Adam’s rejection of the headship offered him as the source of the free unity, is simply the alternative: a necessary disunity which cannot be static, for our fallenness is entropic per se, a passage to an ever-accelerating disorder: symbolically the ‘dust’ of death.

The necessary disunity of the “flesh,” finally the disunity of the fallen universe, cannot but be a process of dynamic disintegration.  Our “sarkic” solidarity with the fallen Adam entails our unfree, unreflective, uncritical, simply spontaneous subscription to this disintegration of reason into an analytical disintegration of unity wherever and however encountered.  Thus our fallen reason is committed to the immanently necessary reasons constit­u­tive of cosmological rationality.  The unreflective subscription to its immanent necessities has prevented the bulk of contemporary Catholic theo­lo­gians from accepting the faith of Nicaea, let alone that of Chalcedon.  Conversion from this entrapment in cosmic necessity is given only by the grace of Christ; of ourselves, we remain locked in immanence, with no exit from that sarkic solidarity and unaware of our imprisonment within it.

The Catholic faith is precisely an intellectual conversion from this personal immersion in cosmolog­ical necessity to the historical freedom of the Incarnate Truth who is Jesus the Lord, the plenary object of  the Catholic faith.  This conversion is more drastic than is commonly admitted or realized.  It is a conversion to the freedom of truth simply as historical, i.e., as transcending all inquiry into its concrete presentation as the condition of its possibility, and consequently incapable of enclosure in the hypotheses which such inquiry produces.

It is perhaps worth noting that, apart from the dehistoricization of quan­tum mechanics by the Copenhagen School under Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, the experimental mode of the physical sciences is an implicit recog­nition that the function of theory in physics is the hypothetical integra­tion of historical data in such wise that physics, insofar as experimental, is a learning process as a matter of definition.  Contemporary failures to recog­nize the consequent inadequacy of theories in possession must come to terms with Kurt Gödel’s “incompleteness theorems:” his lucid exposition of the inability of the human mind to construct a history-transcending compre­hen­sion of any non-trivial physical reality.  After more than eighty years, the “incompleteness theorems” remain unrefuted, even unchallenged, but they state no more than what Plato knew, the immunity of history to rationali­za­tion.

Theologians who give way to the temptation to rationalize the historical subject of their inquiry thereby to cease to do theology; for in their hands it ceases to be a fides quaerens intellectum, and cannot but become a politics, a quaerens potestatem incompatible with the apostolic faith that Jesus is the Lord.  Traveling as systematic theologians, their imposition of necessity upon the freedom of the faith is properly rejected by Catholic theologians such as de Lubac and Crouzel.  The faith that Jesus is the Lord cannot be transcended by pseudo-theological insights, whether the aberrant feminism proposed by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, or its counterpart, the aberrant subordination of women to men inherent in the rationalization of the headship of the husband. .

Nothing less than conversion to the free historicity of truth permits an unfettered acceptance of the free intelligibility of the faith of the Church that Jesus Christ is Lord.  The Catholic faith cannot but be a fides quaerens intellectum, a continual effort to understand yet more fully the inexhaustible truth of Christ, the Mysterium fidei which, by his grace, will fascinate us forever.  Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega.  Apart from a recognition of his headship physics must accept the radical meaning­lessness of the asympto­matic expansion of the universe whose radius is expanding at a velocity over twice the speed of light, a rate of expansion that has been increasing steadily for some fifteen billion years.[249]  The labeling of its presumed cause as “dark energy” is no more capable of explaining this acceleration than of nullifying it.

 Physical scientists are those scholars fascinated by the unfailing  intelli­gi­bility of every particle of the concrete universe.  That intelligibility acould not fascinate were it not free: no one can be fascinated by, e.g., the multi­pli­ca­tion table or the principle of contradiction.  Many such scholars, perhaps most of them, have been persuaded without much reflection, that metho­do­logical agnostic­ism is the price, even the corollary, of their freedom of inquiry.   It is a notion deserving of further examination.

St. Paul long ago described the universal fall of the good ceation as a process consequent upon a sinful refusal to accept its free unity.  This refusal deprived the good creation, i.e., the universe, of intrinsic unity and significance, leaving it intrinsically driven dynamic disintegration proceed­ing to the utter dissolution of death.  While there can be no experimental veri­fi­ca­tion of that disunity and insignificance, physicists need only to recognize that this annihilation is inherent in the laws of thermodynamics governing the disintegration of the physical universe which, lacking all intrinsic unity, cannot account for the intrinsic unity and intelligibility of living things.  It is these, rather than the expansion of the universe, that require explanation.  But that way lurks “intelligent design, condemned by a British physicist as ”creeping creationism”  Contemporary physicists prefer asymptotic quests, whether to determine the instant of the “heat death” of the universe or the instant of its beginning, the “big bang.”  The second law of thermodynamics renders both inquiries futile.  The deton­a­ting physical universe has no intrinsic unity and therefore can have no intrinsic significance.  However, a justifiably famous British astronomer, an atheist with an aversion to the “creeping creationism” he had discerned in the “big bang” theory of the origin of the universe, was moved nonetheless to write as follows:

Would you not say to yourself, "Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question."

Sir Alfred Hoyle, “The Universe Past and Present: Reflections,” Engineering and Science, November, 1981, pp. 1-12.

ii. Origen’s life and influence

Origen was born in Alexandria about 185 and died in 254 as a result of tortures suffered during the Decian persecution.  His father, Leonides, prob­ab­ly a Roman citizen with a sizeable estate,[250] had been martyred during Septimius Severus’ persecution, ca. 202, when Origen was not yet seventeen.  Eusebius relates that he was prevented from joining his father in martyrdom only by his mother’s hiding of his clothing.[251]  Septimius Severus’ persecution of the Church was aimed at proselytism; Leonides’ marty­rdom was most likely due to his having been recognized as teaching Christianity to catechumens and doubtless gaining converts.  This is the more likely when one considers the quality of the education he gave his son: the full secondary school training preparatory for the study of philosophy, along with a religious training based upon his own assiduous biblical study.  Crouzel observes that he was certainly an intellectual, perhaps a teacher of grammar, and an important man.  His was beheaded, a mode of execution proper to Roman citizens, an unusual eminence in Alexandria at the time.

Leonides’ death was followed by the expropriation of his property, leaving his family without support.  Origen, the eldest of Leonides’ seven sons,[252] undertook to supply this by teaching grammar, the additional training for this required of him a level of personal discipline and asceticism difficult to imagine in a youth of barely seventeen, who also found himself, faute de mieux, in charge of the Catechetical School of Alexandria.

Clement, who had succeeded its founder, Pantaenus, [253] as the second director of the School, had been forced to flee Alexandria by the same persecution that martyred Leonides, leaving the School without direction.  Origen simply inherited Clement’s office, quite informally, and continued to fill it.[254]   He could have done this only by having received a considerable classical and religious formation from his father, as also from Clement, during the latter’s administration of the School while Origen was a student there under his tutelage.

After his father’s execution, a wealthy and generous laywoman financed Origen’s further education to a level which qualified him to teach profes­sionally as a grammarian.  His first academic responsibili-ty, assigned him by Bishop Demetrius, was that of teaching grammar in the catechetical School.[255]  During this time, he was in possession of a number of philosoph­ical works, quite possibly relicts of his father’s library which, impetuously, he decided were inappropriate to his role in the direction of the School, that of teaching the supreme wisdom that is the Christian faith.  He sold them for a pittance, barely sufficient to live upon.  Crouzel notes that by this time, his younger brothers were presumably able to support the family.  Soon there­after, Origen came to recognize the wisdom of Clement’s view of the works of the pagan philosophers as ‘spoils of the Egyptians,’ and so resumed his study of them.

At the end of two years as the de facto director of the School, while still eighteen, his performance at once as the director of the School and a teacher in it induced Bishop Demetrius of Alexandria to confirm him in that office,[256] which he held for the next twenty-eight years, from his original appointment by Demetrius until 232, when Demetrius exiled him from Alexandria, and Heraclas, already a professional philosopher, took over the direction of the School.

Dionysius the Great, Origen’s student and disciple, succeeded Heraclas as the director of the Catechetical School upon the latter’s succession to the See of Alexandria ca. 233.[257]  In 248, Dionysius succeeded Heraclas as Bishop of Alexandria, governing the diocese as well as continuing to direct the Catechetical School for nearly twenty years, until his death ca. 266.  Throughout the reign of the great bishops of Alexandria of the following-century, Alexander and Athanasius, Origen continued to be the normative voice of Alexandrine theology.

Several years after his appointment as director of the Catechetical School, Origen began a formal study of philosophy under the tutelage of Ammonius Saccus,[258] a renowned Alexandrine teacher of philosophy, who may have been a Christian.  He further developed the rationalization of Platonism initiated by Philo in the first century, and became famous as the tutor of Plotinus, whose doctrine, edited and published as The Enneads by his disciple Porphyry, is the classic statement of Neoplatonism.

When Origen, probably in his middle thirties, [259] began to write the Peri Archon, he had acquired a competent grasp of the Greek philosophical tradition, Aristotelian and Stoic as well as Platonic.  It reinforced his early convic­tion that the uniquely true philosophy, in the classic sense of the love ­and unremitting pursuit of the reality of wisdom, is the Christian faith.

Thus Origen was well acquainted with Middle Platonism and its Neoplatonic extrapo­lation when he developed, in the Peri Archon, the basis for, and the implications of his very early rejection of the Platonic vision of man in his world.  He been taught by his martyred father that the only true wisdom is simply the faith of the Church, mediated to the faithful in her liturgical preaching of the historical revelation given by the Christ to his apostles.  In the Preface of the Peri Archon he committed himself to its third-century tradition.  Origen had found in the Church’s faith that Jesus Christ is Lord, a truth at once absolute and concretely historical, incapable of reduction to the abstractions of the pagan philosophical traditions.  Insofar as Origen’s later philosophical training has a positive influence upon his theology, in the main, as will be seen, it does so by deploying concepts and categories open to theological conversion.

However, his studies under Ammonius Saccus had a Platonizing impact upon what may be termed his theological imagination and so upon his theology, apparent in unnoticed lapses into the Platonic dualism, and in his recourse to Platonic insights where, with greater consistency, he might more profitably have explored Christian themes already familiar to him, notably, that of the headship of Jesus the Lord  In brief, there is no reason to regard Origen’s theology as an attempt to convert Platonism to Christian purposes.  He had from his youth recognized the pagan wisdom as not a wisdom at all.  Gregory Thaumaturgus, who studied under him for seven years in Caesarea, describes Origen’s warning his students of the dangers inherent in a confu­sion of theology with philosophy.  Origen certainly levied upon Platonism.  Crouzel believes that Origen’s recognition of Jesus as the Bridegroom of the Church has parallels in the Neoplatonic Triad,[260] but such parallels do not indi­cate derivation.  The nuptial symbolism of the Church’s Eucharistic litur­gy is the far more likely source.  The Platonic parallel not only fails, but its evocation by Crouzel evidences in him a confusion which, leaving intact the foundation of Origen’s Christology, viz., his persistent comm