Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Religious Studies

First Advisor

Barnes, Michel R.

Second Advisor

Cavadini, John

Third Advisor

Joseph, Mueller


In this dissertation, I focus on the soteriological understanding of the fourth-century theologian Hilary of Poitiers as manifested in his underappreciated Tractatus super Psalmos. Hilary offers an understanding of salvation in which Christ saves humanity by assuming every single person into his body in the incarnation. My dissertation contributes to scholarship on Hilary in two ways.

First, I demonstrate that Hilary's teaching concerning Christ's assumption of all humanity is a unique development of Latin sources. Because of his understanding of Christ's assumption of all humanity, Hilary, along with several Greek fathers, has been accused of heterodoxy resulting from Greek Platonic influence. I demonstrate that Hilary is not influenced by Platonism; rather, though his redemption model is unique among the early Latin fathers, he derives his theology from a combination of Latin-influenced biblical exegesis and classical Roman themes.

Second, this teaching of Christ's assumption of all humanity is a prominent part of Hilary's entire theological system and so illustrates the unified nature of his theology. The implications of this aspect of Hilary's thought expand into nearly every realm of his theology: in the course of this dissertation, I address the areas of soteriology, Christology, eschatology, ecclesiology and Trinitarian theology. Modern Hilary scholarship is defined by a method that approaches Hilary's theology according to narrow and anachronistic categories of study and results in a negative appraisal of Hilary's theological contribution. This dissertation, in working with a unified method, serves as a corrective to the standard scholarly approach to Hilary and offers a more positive evaluation of his theology.