Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Early Christology

Continuing to work my way through Wayne's book list, I read Leo Donald Davis's book, The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology. I don't have much to say about the book itself, I don't know that much about the era. The councils' doctrinal content are largely consumed by Christological controversies. One can perhaps see the hand of providence working in how these very political councils nonetheless seemed largely to reach the "right" result.

From what little I know, the councils do seem to fit the pattern of defining orthodoxy against an assertive heterodoxy. That is, the orthodox position was left largely unsystematized and was developed only in response to the assertion of heretical opinions.

A few weeks ago I again read through the letters of Ignatius of Antioch, a very early pastor, who wrote seven letters on his way to martyrdom in the early second century (circa 110 A.D., as I recall). I plan to blog more on his letters at some point, but one thing that struck me in his letters is his very high Christology. He unremarkably refers to Jesus as God at a number of points in his letters. While, obviously, this is a very limited sample of early Christian writing, that a bishop could refer so unremarkably in these letters -- not arguing for the claim, but simply assuming it while discussing other things -- seems to me to provide pretty strong evidence that the church had a high Christology pretty much from the start.

Truth be told, the heterodox Christologies have always bored me somewhat. While I completely grant the need for the definitions, it was something of a chore to get through the book.


Blogger Wayne said...

Ah, I need to work on my list.

April 18, 2007 9:02 AM  

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