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Updated:  Aug 12, 2013

Curricula: Christology

This Curricula: Christology provides an outline of all major developments regarding the Church's understanding of Our Lord Jesus. Here we examine not only his divinity but also his humanity.

NOTE: This is not an article from the Catholic Encyclopedia. It is provided here for the benefit of those interested in pursuing additional studies in this area.

General Overview



  • Communicatio Idiomatum - theological expression re: the Incarnation; the properties of the Divine Word can be ascribed to the man Christ, and the properties of the man Christ can be predicated of the Word
  • Homoousion - Word used by the Council of Nicaea to express the Divinity of Christ.
  • Kenosis - Christ's assumption of humanity and the simultaneous occultation of the Divinity
  • Hypostatic Union - theological term expressing that in Christ one person subsists in two natures
    • Nature - includes discussion of theological distinctions between nature and person and between natural and supernatural orders
    • Person - definition, especially with reference to the doctrine of the Incarnation; and in connection with Trinitarian disputes.
    • Theology of


Sources - Councils

Doctrinal Statements

  • Apostles' Creed - fundamental statement of the Christian faith; basic foundation of Christ's Sonship
  • Athanasian Creed - short, clear exposition of the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation

Christological heresies; defective quasi-religious systems; etc.

  • Adoptionism - Christological theory according to which Christ, as man, is the adoptive Son of God
  • Agnoetae - Name given to those who denied the omniscience either of God or of Christ
  • Alogi - Persons who denied the manifestation of the Paraclete, and refused, in consequence, to admit the Gospel of St. John, wherein it is announced
  • Apollinarianism - heresy; held that Christ had a human body and soul, but no human rational mind
  • Arianism - heresy which denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ
  • Bonosians - followers of the heretic bishop Bonosus; denied the divinity of Christ
  • Eunomianism - form of extreme Arianism prevalent in part of the Eastern church
  • Eutychianism - heresy that rejected the orthodox expression two natures of Christ
  • Marcionites - heretical sect; taught that Christ was not the Son of the god of the Jews
  • Monophysitism - heresy; held "one person, one hypostasis, one nature" of Christ
  • Montanists - Schismatics of the second century, also known as Phrygians; prophesized as God the Father, and as Christ
  • Monarchians and Monarchism
  • Nestorianism - heresy; held "one person, two hypostases, two natures" of Christ
  • ante-Nicene Semi-Arianism - heresy; tried to soften Arianism, but unable to define a logical system
  • Socinianism - body of doctrine held by a Reformation-era Antitrinitarian sect
  • Druzes - small Mohammedan sect; teach a distinction between Jesus, the son of Joseph, and the Christ
  • Ebionites - One or more early Christian sects infected with Judaistic errors
  • Albigenses - asserted two mutually opposed principles: one spiritual (good), the other material (evil); advocated human extinction
  • Docetism - Gnostic-type sect dating back to Apostolic times; denied some or all aspects of Christ's humanity
  • Gnosticism - collective name for many greatly-varying pantheistic-idealistic sects which held salvation via secret knowledge
  • Manichaeism - form of religious Dualism; synthesis of Zoroastrianism, Babylonian folklore, Buddhist ethics, and small bits of Christian elements.
    • Mani - Persian founder of Manichaeism
  • Paulicians - A dualistic heretical sect, derived originally from Manichaeism
  • Modernism - subordination of dogma to the intellectual, moral and social "needs" of today

Heretics - Christological

  • Cerinthus - A Gnostic-Ebionite heretic, contemporary with St. John
  • Valentinus - the best known and most influential of the Gnostic heretics
  • Paul of Samosata - bishop; held doctrine akin to dynamistic Monarchianism
  • Photinus - 4th century bishop and heretic; condemned Arianism, but became a Monarchist

Heterodox Writers

  • John Scotus Eriugena - 9th century Irish teacher, theologian; christological writings; many unfortunate errors
  • Hugh of St. Victor - Medieval philosopher, theologian; combated the errors of Abelard, but his Christology marked by own errors
  • Lucian of Antioch - his Christological system was a compromise between Modalism and Subordinationism
  • Abelard, Peter - early scholastic philosopher; used reason to defend the personhood of Christ; but was accused of Nestorianism

Faltering Missteps

  • Ethiopian Church - Christianity stained by Monophysitism
  • Acacianism - A via media heresy, essentially Arian in outlook, that tried to arrive at a political compromise between orthodoxy, the Semi-Arians, the Aetians, and the Anomoeans
  • Monothelitism - heresy; a modification of Monophysitism in an attempt to reconcile the Monophysites with the Church
  • Synod of Ancyra (358) - condemned the grosser Arian blasphemies, but set forth an equally heretical doctrine in the proposition that the Son was in all things similar to the Father, but not identical in substance
  • Acoemetae - Eastern ascetics; defended orthodox Christology against Nestorius and Eutyches; later drifted into Nestorianism
  • Henoticon - Imperial law made in attempt to reconciliate Catholics and Monophysites

Sources - apocryphal


  • Theodoret - Bishop of Cyrus and theologian; wrote on Christology
  • John Duns Scotus - founder of the Scotist school; Christological writings
  • Clement of Alexandria - Greek theologian and head of the catechetical school of Alexandria; early Christological writings
  • Alcuin - foremost champion of the Church against the Adoptionist heresy

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"If you should acknowledge and love Christ you would give up not only all the treasures of this life, but even the glory of your crown itself to win eternal life."
-- Saints Crispin and Crispinian, to Emperor Maximianus after he had used threats and bribes in an attempt to persuade them to renounce their faith; their martyrdom gained them heaven; Maximianus, after losing his crown, killed himself in despair.


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