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Christology and personality : containing: I. Christologies ancient and modern, II. Personality in Christ and in ourselves / by William Sanday online

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beginning as the first and gradually coming to be
used also as the second — did not trouble itself with
metaphysics, but (1) simply affirmed so much of
Trinitarian doctrine as was implied in the juxta-
position of Father, Son and Spirit side by side, and
(2) was not more speculative in regard to the Person
of Christ, but just set down the leading features
indicated in the Gospels, not labelling them as
respectively divine or human, but leaving them
for contemplation just as they were. This con-
fession or creed, though doubtless shaped in the
first instance by some individual hand — perhaps
one of the successors of St. John in Asia Minor or
an early bishop of Rome^ — was virtually a product
of the Christian community, as it expressed in the
simplest and most broadly acceptable terms the
thoughts to which Christian minds were gravitating
all around.

With this then, as I have said, the main body
of the Church was content. And a certain number
of those who were more speculatively inclined con-
ducted their speculations in the same temper — the
temper of balancing human and divine against each
other and emphasizing the facts of the Gospel story
rather than any kind of quasi-philosophical theory.
This was indeed the permanent attitude of the



36 Ancient and Modem Christologies

Western half of Christendom, and especially of the
Church of Rome as its centre and head, notwith-
standing the fact that owing to the cosmopolitan
character of the capital of the Empire that Church
was at first for about a hundred and fifty years the
scene of not a little desultory theorizing.

But on the flanks of this middle party there were
thrown out two wings, consisting for the most part
in both cases of minor thinkers— not really deep
philosophical minds or leaders of the Church, but
men of second-rate powers with a certain amount
of intellectual curiosity who tried to push on a step
beyond that which satisfied the masses. In circles
such as these there arose the two kinds of theorists
who bore the common name of Monarchians, be-
cause their leading interest was to guard the sole
'monarchy' of God — or, as we should say, the
central principle of Monotheism, while yet asserting
the deity of Christ. They agreed in this, but differed
in the extent to which they asserted it. On the
one hand there was the thoroughgoing school — if
it can be called a school — who were intent on
asserting it to the utmost limit possible, who in
their view of the Person of Christ started from the
Godhead and made the Manhood a mere passing
phase or mode of the Godhead, identifying the
Son with the Father (vloTraTcop) or Son and Spirit
together with the Father. And, on the other hand,
there was the school or party of those who, starting
from the Manhood, regarded Christ as primarily



II. Ancient Christologies 37

a man who by successive communications of the
Divine Spirit was gradually deified.

It is in this last connexion that we meet with the
phrase i//tXo? avSpoitro^ by which Christ is described
as *man pure and simple.' If would be a mistake
to suppose that this was anything like Humani-
tarianism in our modern sense of the word. There
was hardly any such thing in antiquity. The
nearest approach to it would be the insignificant
Palestinian sect of Ebionites, who denied the Virgin
Birth and thought of Christ as just a prophet in
whom the Spirit of God resided for a season. The
group of teachers who for the most part found their
way to Rome — Theodotus of Byzantium, Theodotus
the Banker, Asclepiodotus and Artemas or Arte-
mon — would seem generally to have accepted the
Virgin Birth and the Resurrection. They did not
deny the supernatural in the Person of Christ; what
they really rejected was the doctrine of the Logos
and that which went with it. The question with
which they were really concerned was that of the
relation to each other of the two natures in Christ.
After the manner of the later Antiochene School
and the Nestorians, they kept them broadly distinct,
and they insisted on starting from the human side.
Christ was a man to whom deity was gradually
communicated; He was not a pre-existent Divine
Being who assumed human flesh.

Approximating to this type, though differing from
it by not rejecting the idea of the Logos, is the



38 Ancient and Modern Christologies

doctrine of Paul of Samosata, who is described by
his opponents as the vainglorious, overbearing, and
secular-minded minister of Zenobia of Palmyra, and
whose fall quickly followed that of his mistress
(a.d. 272). He too taught a doctrine of Christ
*from below' {KaToidev)} Christ was to begin with
a man, in whom dwelt the impersonal Logos or
Wisdom or Spirit of God, as the human Logos or
reason resides in us men. There was a difference
in the degree of this indwelling; it was greater in
Moses than in the Prophets, but greatest and
closest in Christ. In Him it rested upon the com-
plete union of will, which was maintained intact
through all temptations. As a reward Christ re-
ceived the Name which is above every name. The
stress that is laid on union of will prepares us for
the later Antiochene theology.

The case of Paul of Samosata serves to illustrate
the way in which the two kinds of Monarchianism,
though starting apparently from opposite poles,
might meet in the middle. With Paul, the Logos
was the Divine Logos, which therefore in this
respect was ' of one substance ' (6/Aoovcnos) with the
Father. The Synods which were held at Antiocli
in the years 264-8 to try the case of Paul con-
demned the use of this phrase; they clearly did
so because it was applied to the Logos as imper-
sonal: the conception of distinct hypostases in the
Trinity had not yet been reached. And there was
' Eus. H. E. vii. 30 fF.



II. Ancierit Christologies 39

a feeling that the use of this term — 6ixoov(tlo


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Online LibraryW. (William) SandayChristology and personality : containing: I. Christologies ancient and modern, II. Personality in Christ and in ourselves / by William Sanday → online text (page 3 of 18)