Communicatio Idiomatum: Reformation Christological Debates

Communicatio Idiomatum: Reformation Christological Debates

by Richard Cross


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This study offers a radical reinterpretation of the sixteenth-century Christological debates between Lutheran and Reformed theologians on the ascription of divine and human predicates to the person of the incarnate Son of God (the communicatio idiomatum). It does so by close attention to the arguments deployed by the protagonists in the discussion, and to the theologians' metaphysical and semantic assumptions, explicit and implicit. It traces the central contours of the Christological debates, from the discussion between Luther and Zwingli in the 1520s to the Colloquy of Montbeliard in 1586.

Richard Cross shows that Luther's Christology is thoroughly Medieval, and that innovations usually associated with Luther-in particular, that Christ's human nature comes to share in divine attributes-should be ascribed instead to his younger contemporary Johannes Brenz. The discussion is highly sensitive to the differences between the various Luther groups-followers of Brenz, and the different factions aligned in varying ways with Melanchthon-and to the differences between all of these and the Reformed theologians. By locating the Christological discussions in their immediate Medieval background, Cross also provides a comprehensive account of the continuities and discontinuities between the two eras. In these ways, it is shown that the standard interpretations of the Reformation debates on the matter are almost wholly mistaken.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198846970
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 12/03/2019
Series: Changing Paradigms in Historical and Systematic Theology
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 9.30(w) x 6.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Richard Cross, John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame

Richard Cross has been the John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame since 2007. Prior to this he was Professor of Medieval Theology at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of Oriel College. He is the author of books and numerous articles on the history of medieval philosophy and theology.

Table of Contents

Frequently cited principles
Introduction: The communicatio idiomatum and the metaphysics of the Incarnation
1. Luther and Zwingli
2. Early Lutheran Christologies
3. Calvin and his Lutheran opponents
4. Lutheran and Reformed debates in the early 1560s
5. The genus maiestaticum in non-Brenzian Christologies
6. The Formula of Concord and Lutheran Christology in the 1570s
7. Andreae, Beza, and the Colloquy of Montbeliard
Concluding Remarks

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