Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Incarnation

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Incarnation

Article excerpt

Incarnation. By Gerald O'Collins. New Century Theology Series. London: Continuum, 2002. iv + 192 pp. £12.99 (paper); $28.95 (paper).

Incarnation, a volume in the New Century Theology series, reads as an extended meditation on the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Written in a clear and readable style, this book offers an introduction to the classical formulation of the doctrine. It presents a high, descending Christology: the preexistent logos takes on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ in a way that is unique and that changes history and the cosmos.

Gerald O'Collins, a Roman Catholic theologian, begins by making this focus and interest clear. He differentiates between two ways to understand Incarnation, what he terms a primary meaning (A) and an extended usage meaning (B). The "primary meaning (A)" of Incarnation is of a one-time, unique, and definitive event. The "extended usage meaning (B)" refers to the ways in which Incarnation may be understood as the potential of the human spirit to be open to the divine or as a more general manifestation of divinity. Collins rules out B and asserts that only A is the true meaning of Incarnation. Thus, he eliminates the possibility of any sort of degree Christology. Jesus Christ is human, but qualitatively and infinitely different in kind from the rest of humankind.

Having set up that meaning of Incarnation, Collins proceeds to consider a range of topics that recount the story of Incarnation: ideas about preexistence in Hebrew Scriptures; the Ghalcedonian formula and what it means to assert that Christ is one person with two natures; issues of unity and duality, including of will and mind; the importance of virginal conception; the meanings of salvation through Christ, and so on. …

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