The Passions of Christ in High-Medieval Thought: An Essay on Christological Development

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $39.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 56%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (4) from $39.00   
  • New (2) from $78.03   
  • Used (2) from $39.00   


Since the earliest days of the Church, theologians have struggled to understand how humanity and divinity coexisted in the person of Christ. Proponents of the Arian heresy, which held that Jesus could not have been fully divine, found significant scriptural evidence of their position: Jesus wondered, questioned, feared, suffered, and prayed. The defenders of orthodoxy, such as Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, Jerome, and Augustine, showed considerable ingenuity in explaining how these biblical passages could be reconciled with Christ's divinity. Medieval theologians such as Peter Lombard, Thomas Aquinas, and Bonaventure, also grappled with these texts when confronting the rising threat of Arian heresy. Like their predecessors, they too faced the need to preserve Jesus' authentic humanity and to describe a mode of experiencing the passions that cast no doubt upon the perfect divinity of the Incarnate Word. As Kevin Madigan demonstrates, however, they also confronted an additional obstacle. The medieval theologians had inherited from the Greek and Latin fathers a body of opinion on the passages in question, which by this time had achieved normative cultural status in the Christian tradition. However, the Greek and Latin fathers wrote in a polemical situation, responding to the threat to orthodoxy posed by the Arians. As a consequence, they sometimes found themselves driven to extreme and sometimes contradictory statements. These statements seemed to their medieval successors either to compromise the true divinity of Christ, his true humanity, or the possibility that the divine and human were in communication with or metaphysically linked to one another. As a result, medieval theologians also needed to demonstrate how two equally authoritative but apparently contradictory statements could be reconciled-to protect their patristic forebears from any doubt about their unanimity or the soundness of their orthodoxy. Examining the arguments that resulted from these dual pressures, Madigan finds that, under the guise of unchanging assimilation and transmission of a unanimous tradition, there were in fact many fissures and discontinuities between the two bodies of thought, ancient and medieval. Rather than organic change or development, he finds radical change, trial, novelty, and even heterodoxy.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book will delight and engage biblical scholars as well as historians and medievalists. It explores the tensions between the portraits of Jesus in the Gospels and later Christological doctrine and between patristic and medieval theologies. Its thesis, that there are radical discontinuities in Christian tradition and theology, as well as continuities, is important and timely." — Adela Yarbro Collins, Buckingham Professor of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale University Divinity School, author of Cosmology and Eschatology in Jewish and Christian Apocalypticism and Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse

"This important and innovative book challenges readers to re-think continuities and discontinuities in western Christian thought, and indeed with respect to one of its most central issues, the humanity of Christ. For too long scholars have described medieval scholastic theologians as indebted, even enchained, to inherited patristic authorities. Madigan demonstrates the ingenious creativity these writers brought to the interpretation of texts and issues when they had to articulate for themselves what it meant to say that Christ suffered or gained in knowledge or feared death. This will prove an outstanding new way to introduce students to the originality and subtlety of scholastic theologians." —John Van Engen, Professor of Medieval History, University of Notre Dame

"By tracing how western Christian authors from the patristic period to the High Middle Ages have dealt with the problem of Christ's passions, Kevin Madigan not only explores a central problem of Christology, but also makes a provocative argument about the history of Christian thought. Where previous scholars have seen continuity and development, Madigan finds discontinuity and tacit disavowal. Madigan claims that Christian orthodoxy, far from emerging organically from tradition, in fact continually reinvents itself, sometimes by distorting the thought of the "Fathers" it claims as authoritative. This thought-provoking book will stimulate much-needed debate among theologians and students of Christian history." —David Brakke, Professor of Religious Studies, Indiana University, author of Demons and the Making of the Monk: Spiritual Combat in Early Christianity

"Kevin Madigan's study is an achievement, due to its remarkable proportions: concise in length, sharp in thinking, well-contained in its scholarship, and as clear-cut in its statements. The argument is amde in a manner as meticulous as straight."—Thomist

"Madigan's slim book is an attempt to show that there was no substantial continuity in the doctrinal thought on the possibility of Christ between the patristic and medieval theologians... One welcomes such a book, which should open up more resources to students of medieval thought, literature, history, and theology." —Journal of Religious History

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195322743
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/3/2007
  • Series: Oxford Studies in Historical Theology Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 158
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Kevin James Madigan is Professor of the History of Christianity at Harvard Divinity School and is the 2006-2007 winner of the Luce Theological Fellowship

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Humanity, Divinity and Biblical Exegesis in Early Arian Thought
3. Christus Proficiens? Did Christ "Progress in Wisdom"?
4. Christus Nesciens? Was Christ Ignorant of the Day of Judgment?
5. Christus Patiens? Did Christ Suffer Pain in the Passion?
6. Christus Passibilis? Did Christ Experience Fear and Sorrow in Gethsemane?
7. Christus Orans? A Praying God?
Conclusion, The Passions of Christ in Ancient and Medieval Thought: Continuities and Discontinuities

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)