The Roles of Christ's Humanity in Salvation

The Roles of Christ's Humanity in Salvation: insights from Theodore of Mopsuestia

Frederick G. McLeod
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2850qv
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  • Book Info
    The Roles of Christ's Humanity in Salvation
    Book Description:

    This book enables one to judge Theodore's christological statements in the wider context of how he conceives of Christ's roles in salvation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2076-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. 1. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-19)

    THE MOST ENIGMATIC and controversial Christian theologian in the fifth-century Byzantine Empire was Theodore of Mopsuestia (ca. 350–ca. 428). At his death he was eulogized as one of the most respected churchmen of his day.¹ He was hailed as the foremost exponent of the Antiochene literal, historical interpretation of the Bible and as the most sophisticated analytical opponent of Origen’s allegorical method. He was also widely admired for the original, insightful ways in which he systematized authentic church traditions and defended the humanity of Christ. Yet, within a few years of his death, he became the target of unrelenting...

  6. 2. THEODORE’S METHOD OF INTERPRETING SCRIPTURE
    (pp. 20-57)

    IN ONE OF HISTORY’S MOST IRONIC TWISTS, Theodore of Mopsuestia and Origen stand out in patristic times as the two pre-eminent Christian scriptural scholars, yet they were also denounced as two of the most hated heretics of the period. In their own day they were recognized as the leaders of the two most respected—and often generally antagonistic¹—traditions: that of Alexandria and that of Antioch. Though Origen will be mentioned in passing as a foil to Theodore, our principal preoccupation here is Theodore, whom José Lera described as “the most eminent representative of the School of Antioch, in its...

  7. 3. THE ROLE OF CHRIST’S “BODY” IN HUMAN SALVATION
    (pp. 58-101)

    IN THE LAST CHAPTER we established how Theodore equates God’s revealed message with what the sacred writer has intended by his words. An innovative, systematic biblical theologian, Theodore at the same time was an exegete who revered the text and remained as faithful to it as he could. We want now to consider how Theodore interpreted the Pauline passages concerning the roles that Christ’s “body” plays in the salvation of human beings and the universe. Paul uses the term Christ’s “body” in an ambivalent way. It may denote Christ’s physical body: “We eagerly await our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,...

  8. 4. CHRIST’S SALVIFIC ROLE AS THE BOND OF THE UNIVERSE
    (pp. 102-123)

    AS WE SAW IN THE LAST CHAPTER, Theodore sees the pivotal role of Christ’s humanity in the divine plan of human salvation as his mediating role as the head of his body, the Church. Those who are united to him share in the benefits that flow to his human nature because of its “exact” union with the Word of God in one “person.” The question then naturally arises, how does the rest of the created universe participate in the salvation that Christ has brought to humankind? Theodore addresses this in his commentaries on Colossians, Ephesians, and Genesis—works apparently written...

  9. 5. CHRIST’S SALVIFIC ROLE AS GOD’S PERFECT IMAGE
    (pp. 124-143)

    UP TO THIS POINT we have examined how Theodore considers Christ’s humanity’s twin roles in salvation as the head of the body that is his Church and as the mediating bond who recapitulates and reunites all creation with his Father. Both roles exemplify how the baptized and the whole universe are related to Christ’s humanity in some sort of a bodily, quasi-organic union. We turn now to consider how Theodore views Christ’s role as the perfect, visible “image of God.”¹ This role sums up some major points we have already treated, especially in the way the idea of “image” is...

  10. 6. THE SALVIFIC ROLE OF CHRIST’S “COMMON ‘PROSÔPON’ ”
    (pp. 144-175)

    THE PREVIOUS CHAPTERS have prepared us for our next inquiry: what does Theodore mean by the phrase he often uses to express the “person” of Christ, his common prosôpon? I have pointed out the quasi-organic union between Christ’s humanity and those who are united to his “bodies,” the members of the Church and the universe, as well as the quasi-organic union between his exterior “visible image” and the inward reality of God’s Word. Because of Christ’s human nature’s “exact” union with the Word, he can serve as the true mediator between God and all of creation. I shall now address...

  11. 7. THE WORD’S “INDWELLING OF GOOD PLEASURE”
    (pp. 176-204)

    IN THE PRECEDING CHAPTER I tried to show how Theodore’s phrase the one prosôpon sums up the visible ways that Christ’s divine and human natures are portrayed in the New Testament accounts as acting as one in human and divine ways. The question now to be faced is, what does Theodore mean by the “exact union” of two natures in one prosôpon? When pressed to explain, Theodore expressly denies that it can be either a substantial or a purely moral, operational kind of union.¹ He delineates it rather in biblical terms as an “indwelling of good pleasure as in the...

  12. 8. THE CHARGES AGAINST THEODORE
    (pp. 205-225)

    SO FAR WE HAVE CONSIDERED how Theodore understood the mediating roles that Christ’s humanity plays within universal salvation, as well as the assertions that the union of Christ’s divine and human natures occurs in a common prosôpon and is described accurately as “an indwelling of good pleasure as in God’s Son.” All of these roles overlap with each other and reinforce the view that Theodore evolved a soteriological synthesis in which Christ qua man serves as a true mediator, for his humanity is united by nature to all creation and by an “exact,” inseparable union to the Word of God....

  13. 9. A REASSESSMENT OF THE CHARGES AGAINST THEODORE
    (pp. 226-251)

    IN THIS CHAPTER I want to examine the principal charges leveled by the fathers at the Second Council of Constantinople and modern-day theologians against Theodore’s orthodoxy. These will be considered in light of previous chapters, particularly on how Theodore understood the mediating roles that Christ’s humanity plays within universal salvation, as well as what he intended by asserting that the union of Christ’s divine and human natures occurs in a common prosôpon and is described accurately as “an indwelling of good pleasure as in God’s Son.” These roles overlap with each other and reinforce the view that Theodore evolved a...

  14. 10. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 252-266)

    WHAT SPECIFIC CONCLUSIONS can be drawn from this study? First, do the salvific roles that Theodore ascribes to Christ’s human nature provide us with insights into his understanding of the unity of Christ’s natures and, therefore, of his orthodoxy? Is it possible, that is, to reassess the charges against Theodore on the basis of what we have learned about how Christ qua man serves as the head of the “bodies” of both the church and the universe, and as the visible “image of the invisible image of God”? These roles certainly indicate how Christ’s human nature can be seen as...

  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 267-274)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 275-278)