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In the first few centuries, there appears to have been many Christian currents in the Mediterranean and Near East. While Christology was often not a sound basis to delineate between these groups (as views were changing and evolving), there is arguably some large bins we can bring to bear. This included Monophysitism, of which, perhaps the Docetist view was the most well-known (Marcion). This Christology holds that Christ had only one nature (the divine) and that his body was a phantasm or optical illusion. A very different view was that of the Adoptionists, asserting that Christ had no divine nature other than what was bestowed to him by God ad hoc. The Ebionites were known to adhere to this view. Either of these, clearly, contrasts starkly with what become the orthodox stance of the dual nature of Christ, that he is simultaneously divine and human.

I would like to research further into whether or not there was ever a legacy Christology that held that Christ had only one nature (the divine) but was flesh and blood. I'm not sure it exists, so I will term it as a "theoretical Christology" for now. It would be distinct from the above in the following ways:

  • Docetist: Docetist view of the body as an apparition, whereas this theoretical Christology implies Christ does indeed have flesh and blood
  • Adoptionist: Adoptionists hold there is no innate divine nature whereas this theoretical Christology would imply a divine nature (just in flesh form)
  • Dyophysitism: The orthodox view is that there is a dual nature whereas this theoretical Christology would hold that Christ only has one divine nature (just in flesh form)

I concede that, to the modern reader, "Divine flesh" sounds like a contradiction in terms. Perhaps Saturninus, or to an extent Heracleon would fit under this theoretical category, but I don't think they are perfect fits. It could be the case that there are no perfect matches. But again, theoretically, if archaeologists unearthed such a doctrine tomorrow, no matter how bizarre it sounds to us, we would need the framework to analyze it.

The closest I could get was Apollinarist, where Christ has a human body but a divine mind. However this seems to assume that his body is not at all divine and the divine nature is limited to his mind.

Question

Is there a Christology that lays out the prosopon in such a way that Christ is thought of as divine only, even though he is flesh? (That is to say he has no mortal/man nature, despite being flesh and blood?)

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  • Why would monophysitism not the terminology you're looking for? From the Encyclopedia Britannica entry: "monophysite, in Christianity, one who believed that Jesus Christ’s nature remains altogether divine and not human even though he has taken on an earthly and human body with its cycle of birth, life, and death." Mar 27, 2023 at 1:31
  • @GratefulDisciple That's an excellent point, I think it would, but if I'm not mistaken, monophysitism also houses a wide range of variants (including the docetist). Perhaps if there was an exact type of monophysitism for my theoretical Christology, that would work. Would like to avoid that ambiguity if possible. But I do take your point that the main entry for monophysitism seems to be understood to match the type I'm looking for. Mar 27, 2023 at 1:47
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    Perhaps look at the Patripassians ("those who believe that the Father suffered"). Mar 27, 2023 at 6:10
  • Since, as you say, the concept of Deity being 'flesh' (in and of itself) is contradictory, it would be surprising to find it expressed by a denominated group of Christians, unless they were well outside of mainstream Christianity. It seems to me that the concept you are expressing is not one you have found in any literature (else you would quote it) but to be, rather, your own opinion. Therefore, this is not valid research, but an opinion-based enquiry.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 31, 2023 at 7:28
  • @NigelJ Well as the trope goes, we are entitled to our opinions but not our facts. I'm asking objectively if such a proposon exists in non-trinitarian Christian literature/archaelogy, which, I feel obliged to emphasize, is not opinion-based. Forgive my preamble, I just found it useful to have some context. Mar 31, 2023 at 7:48

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Is there a Christology where "Christ is thought of as divine only, even though he is flesh?" The answer is yes. That is the basic proposition of Monophysitism. The OP speaks of Monophysitism as being exemplified by Doceticism, which denied that Christ possessed a real physical body. However, the historical Monophysite heresy held the view that Christ, though a human being of flesh and blood, had only one nature: divine.

MONOPHYSITISM, meaning "one nature" and referring to the person of Jesus Christ, is the name given to the rift that gradually developed in Eastern Christendom after the Council of Chalcedon in 451. While the definition agreed upon at the council laid down that Christ should be acknowledged "in two natures," human and divine, the properties of each nature retaining their identity, the Monophysites held that after the incarnation the two natures became one, so that all the thoughts and acts of the Savior were those of a single unitary being, God in Christ.

Conclusion: the Christology that proposes that Christ's nature as divine only, even though he is flesh, is Monophysitism.

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