Wednesday, May 31, 2006

God Existing In Flesh, Made And Not Made

Christopher Price has a good article on references to the deity of Jesus in the writings of the earliest church fathers. As he explains, many other passages could be cited. In his section on Irenaeus, he gives five examples. I have a list of dozens of passages in my own notes on Irenaeus. These early fathers repeatedly make comments about Jesus that could only be applied to God. Irenaeus explains that when he refers to "God" he has the one God of monotheism in mind (Against Heresies, 4:2:5), so it can't be argued that he's using "God" in the sense of "god". Similarly, the early fathers often refer to Jesus as uncreated, something that could only be said of God (Ignatius, Letter To The Ephesians, 7; Justin Martyr, Dialogue With Trypho, 129; etc.). And the deity of Christ is mentioned in some early sources Price doesn't include in his article: Hermas, The Shepherd, Similitude 9:12; Second Clement, 1; Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus, 2:22; etc. Whatever questionable or inaccurate statements some early sources made about Jesus' identity, whatever implications of Jesus' deity they didn't think through, the fact remains that Jesus was explicitly and frequently referred to as God.


  1. Thanks for the link.

    Yes, the references to Jesus' diety are legion, if you'll pardon the expression, in the early Christian writings. I relied a lot of on the Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs and a post I wrote a long time ago for the History Channel Discussion Board. I kept whittling it down because I wanted to strike a balance between giving people a significant sampling and overwhelming them with quotes.

  2. I guess this is in response to Dan Brown's inventive notion that Constantine declared Jesus God? Of course this claim is pure baloney but we must not forget that the Nicean Council convened in part to combat Arianism, which did hold Jesus to be less than uncreated God. So there's some truth, in the same way that a cowpie containing a gumball contains some candy.

  3. Kaff,

    I see your point but would emphasize that Arius viewed Jesus as divine, just not as divine as God. Thus, according to Arianism, Jesus was a created divine being much like many pagan gods of the time were.