THE CHRISTOLOGY OF JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

MELVIN EDWARD LAWRENZ, Marquette University

Abstract

The Christologies that emerged in the aftermath of the Arian controversy represented different interpretations of the completeness, integrity, and relationship of the divinity and the humanity of Christ. Traditional treatments of late fourth- and fifth-century theology have often summarized these Christologies under the schema of two different trends. The so-called "Word-man," or "Antiochene" Christology so emphasized the completeness and integrity of the humanity of Christ that it tended to view the two natures of Christ as separate; the "Word-flesh," or "Alexandrian" Christology so emphasized the ontological union of the two natures as the overwhelming significance of the incarnation that it viewed the subject of the actions of the incarnate Christ as the divine Logos. Past studies have most often portrayed John Chrysostom as a classic representative of the Antiochene Christology. The thesis of this dissertation is that although Chrysostom's exegetical method is essentially the same as other theologians from Antioch, his underlying theological perspective of Christ is closer to the Alexandrian emphasis on one divine subject of the incarnate life of Christ. The divinity of Christ is Chrysostom's most central doctrinal concern, as evidenced in his exegetical treatment of texts used by the various parties of the trinitarian controversy, and in his polemical homilies against the Neo-Arians. On the question of the humanity of Christ Chrysostom takes account of the genuineness of the flesh and its attendant needs and vulnerabilities, but does not stress the importance of the existence and functions of a human soul in Christ. He understands the relationship of the two natures as a union and conjunction, but not a confusion. When he distinguishes the humanity of Christ from his divinity, he is identifying not a distinct human nature as much as the incarnate nature of Christ--both human and divine--that exists after the union. The incarnation is a condescension (sugkatabasis) in which the divine Logos demonstrates human attributes. The method used in this study is the examination of the nearly five hundred homilies and homiletical commentaries on the books of the New Testament Chrysostom treated, and his polemical homilies against the Neo-Arians.

Recommended Citation

MELVIN EDWARD LAWRENZ, "THE CHRISTOLOGY OF JOHN CHRYSOSTOM" (January 1, 1987). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8716865.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8716865

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