Communicatio idiomatum

In Christian theology communicatio idiomatum ("communication of properties") is a Christological term, seeking to explain the interaction of deity and humanity in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Christian orthodoxy has maintained that the divine and the human are fully unified in Jesus Christ (according to the Council of Ephesus in 431) but that the two natures also remain distinct (according to the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451). Christians agree that the two natures, distinct yet unified, participate in some sort of exchange. However, there remains disagreement in the exact dynamic of this incarnational union. Those leaning toward an Antiochene Christology stress the distinction of natures and therefore a more tightly regulated communication of properties; those of the Alexandrian Christology persuasion underscore the unity of Jesus Christ and therefore a more complete communication of properties.

The doctrine has since the Protestant Reformation served as a bone of contention between Reformed and Lutheran Christians. In Reformed doctrine, the divine nature and the human nature are united strictly in the person of Christ. According to his humanity, Jesus Christ remains in heaven as the bodily high priest, even while in his divine nature he is omnipresent. This coincides with the Calvinistic view of the Lord's Supper (real presence), the belief that Christ is truly present at the meal, though not substantially and particularly joined to the elements. Lutherans, on the other hand, describe a union in which the divine and the human natures share their predicates more fully. Lutheran scholastics of the 17th century spoke of the genus maiestaticum, the view that Jesus Christ's human nature becomes "majestic," suffused with the qualities of the divine nature. Therefore, in the eucharist the human, bodily presence of Jesus Christ is "in, within, under" the elements.

To wit, where Lutherans can make bolder claims regarding the unity of Christ, the Reformed can make bolder claims for the preservation of the human nature of Christ. In more heated rhetoric, Lutheranism is accused of promoting monophysitism, and the Reformed a certain Nestorianism.

The philosopher J.G. Hamann famously argued that the communicatio idiomatum applies not just to Christ, but should be generalised to cover all human action: 'This communicatio of divine and human idiomatum is a fundamental law and the master-key of all our knowledge and of the whole visible economy'.[1]

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Hamann Writings on Philosophy and Language (ed. K Haynes, Cambridge: CUP, 2007), p.99

External links


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  • Communicatio Idiomatum — • A technical expression in the theology of the Incarnation. It means that the properties of the Divine Word can be ascribed to the man Christ, and that the properties of the man Christ can be predicated of the Word Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • communicatio idiomatum —    This expression (from the Latin communicatio, meaning sharing, and the Greek idiōma,meaning properties ) implies that both human and divine attributes can be attributed to Jesus; for example, Mary is both mother of Jesus and Mother of God… …   Glossary of theological terms

  • Communicatio idiomatum —    см. Передача свойств …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

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  • Communicatĭo — (lat.), 1) Mittheilung; 2) (Rhet.), so v. w. Anakönosis; 3) C. idiomătum u. C. naturarum (Dogm.), s. u. Christus II. A) …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • ВОПЛОЩЕНИЕ — [греч. ἐνσάρκωσις, лат. incarnatio], ключевое событие истории спасения, состоящее в том, что предвечное Слово (Логос), Сын Божий, Второе Лицо Пресв. Троицы, восприняло человеческую природу. Вера в факт В. служит основанием христ. исповедания… …   Православная энциклопедия

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