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Christology is that part of Christian theology that studies and defines who Jesus Christ is. It is generally less concerned with the minor details of his life; rather it deals with whohe was, the incarnation , and the major events of his life (his birth, death,and resurrection ).

Important issues in Christology include:

  • was Jesus human, divine, or both
    • whether a divine nature was identical or subsidiary to the fundamental nature of the Uncreated God.
  • whether he actually performed miracles
  • whether he rose from the dead, and if so, whether his resurrection was of the body or strictly of the soul

Christology may also cover questions concerning the Trinity , and what, ifanything, Christ accomplished for the rest of humanity.

There are almost as many Christological views as there are variants of Christianity. The different Christological views ofvarious Christian sects have led to accusations of heresy , and subsequent religious persecution .

Some Christological viewpoints

Some important controversies have included the controversy with Arians overChrist's divinity and relationship with the Father, which led to the adoption of the Nicene creed , the controversy over Nestorianism , andthat over Monophysitism (and its derivates Monothelitism and Monoenergism ) which lead to theadoption of the Chalcedonian view of Christology. Othercontroversies included that with Docetists and the Adoptionists .

We can describe most of these views in terms of whether they believed Christ had a divine nature, human nature or both; and ifboth, in terms of how the two natures coexisted or interacted. All of these views will be presented in simplified form; see therelated articles for more complete treatment.

  • Perhaps the earliest dispute within Christianity centered on whether Jesus was God. A number of early Christians believedthat Jesus was not divine, but was simply the human Messiah promised in the Old Testament . The inclusion of the genealogies of Jesus Christ at Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 are sometimes explained by this belief. An alternative explanation is that they were inopposition to Gnostic Christian doctrines that Jesus Christ only had the illusion ofa human body and, thus, no human ancestry at all. The belief that Jesus was only human was opposed by church leaders such as Paul , and eventually came to be held only by small, marginal sects suchas the Ebionites and (according to Jerome ) the Nazarenes .
  • The Chalcedonian view is that Christ possesses twonatures, divine and human, which are united in the one person of Jesus Christ without either nature losing any of itsproperties nor uniqueness but without any seperability. This view is the dogma of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches,having been defined by the Council of Chalcedon . It is alsothe view of the Anglican church and the vast majority of Protestant churches.
  • The strict Monophysite view is that the human nature of Christ wasdissolved or consumed by the Divine.
  • The Miaphysite view is that Christ exists as a hybrid nature, simultaneously human and Divine, unique in the universe.
  • The Arian view is that Christ is not fully divine, but was created byGod for the purpose of accomplishing our salvation.
  • The Docetist view is that Christ was never fully human, but onlyappeared to be human. Semi-docetism only partially denies humanity, usually by asserting that Christ was not subject totemptation nor to any of the normal human frailties of hunger, fatigue, or fear of death.
  • The Adoptionist view is that Christ was born a man only, but becameGod's son by adoption when he was baptized in the Jordan.
  • The Nestorian view is that the Son of God, and the man, Jesus, sharedthe same body but retained two separate personhoods.
  • Psilanthropism ...

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