Person of Christ

Book chapter


Coakley, Sarah Anne. (2016). Person of Christ. In The Cambridge Companion to the Summa Theologiae pp. 222-239 Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CCO9781139034159.018
AuthorsCoakley, Sarah Anne
Abstract

In what follows, then, I shall choose to focus particularly on the notable theological and philosophical conundrums which arise in trying to explicate Thomas’ unique account of the ‘hypostatic union’. In fact this discussion only takes up part of the relevant sections of the Tertia Pars (principally questions 2–6 within the broader discussion of questions 2–15: this is the section which Thomas calls in the Prologus ‘the manner of union between the Word and flesh’). But it will be necessary also to probe some elements of what Thomas calls the ‘consequent implications’, which follow in questions 16–26, and which not only display one of the first, and keenest, understandings of the later Greek ecumenical councils manifested in the Latin scholastic West,Footnote2 but also opt for some quite radical opinions about the mutability and perfectibility of elements of Christ’s human nature within his own incarnate life. Thomas’ christology is, as we shall see, distinctive and daring even within the boundaries of an unshakeable commitment to historic conciliar ‘orthodoxy’. In large part this is because of his scriptural acuity and his insistent concern to avoid any hint of ‘docetism’ (any mere ‘appearance’ of authentic humanity in Christ). In other ways it results from Thomas’ fearless acknowledgement of the metaphysical uniqueness of the event he seeks to explicate: whilst philosophical reasoning can clarify this mystery up to a point, and certainly help to ward off doctrinal error, there is no better example in the ST of a revelatory doctrine which finally exceeds even the best attempts at analogical explication. No wonder, then, that Thomas changed his mind several times in his career about how best to express this mystery.Footnote3 If we are not ready for this ‘scandal’ element in his christology we shall find Thomas’ account frustrating from the outset.

KeywordsPhilosophy; Religion; Theology
Page range222-239
Year01 Jan 2016
Book titleThe Cambridge Companion to the Summa Theologiae
PublisherCambridge University Press
Place of publicationUnited States
Series Cambridge Companions to Religion
ISBN9780521879637
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1017/CCO9781139034159.018
Web address (URL)https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/cambridge-companion-to-the-summa-theologiae/person-of-christ/0902F9701B4900FB0F23082C52AED2C4
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Research or scholarlyResearch
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License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
PrintJun 2016
Publication process dates
Accepted31 Jan 2024
Deposited07 Feb 2024
Additional information

© Cambridge University Press 2016.

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