Friday, January 22, 2016

Delineation of Terms in Angelomorphic Discussions

Taken from my book on Tertullian and Angelomorphic Christology:

(1) Angel or angelic Christology is the theological concept that Martin Werner infamously maintained the early Christian congregation espoused. In Werner's estimation, the doctrine that teaches the Son is a creaturely spiritual essence who was produced in the same or similar fashion as other holy created spirit beings was a primordial Christian teaching:

"What has provided historians of doctrine for more than a century with an occasion for discussion has been the fact that Justin could conceive in one category the Logos-Son together with the 'host of the other good angels, of like being to him,' and that he set this angel-host, together with the Logos-Christ, before the (prophetic) Spirit."

Historians of dogma have not embraced Werner's reconstruction of the primitive or pre-Nicene doctrine of Christ's person and work. In fact, they have adamantly resisted his suggestion that angel Christology was the most ancient ecclesiastical formulation of the Son's person and work. Chapter one accordingly will discuss Werner's contribution to the study of Christ as an angel qua angel (whether in form or essence). It will then review modern-day assessments of his work.

(2) Angelomorphic Christology refers to the doctrine or complex of doctrines that contend Christ now and again assumes the form or external appearance of an angel during OT and NT angelophanies but he is not necessarily an angel according to His nature (i.e., substance). [Loren] Stuckenbruck notes that Christ is sometimes "made to appear among a series of angels." At other times, He evidently manifests Himself "as one who incorporates features frequently attributed to angels." The theological doctrine, "Angelomorphic Christology" aptly describes such manifestations, argues Stuckenbruck. This particular type of Christology is clearly phenomenologically-oriented. It attempts to provide a descriptive account of the Son's appearances in angelic settings (Rev 14:6-20) without pronouncing judgment on His seeming divinity ontos.

(3) Stuckenbruck prefers to employ the referring expression "angelophanic Christology" or Angelomorphic Christology over against using the terminology "angelic Christology." Both Christopher Rowland and Stuckenbruck advocate this terminological usage since they maintain that Christ is only an angel ostensibly in certain OT or NT angelophanies. He is not, they seem to aver, really a created supernatural spirit being, but the fully divine Son of God. Stuckenbruck limits the term "Angelomorphic Christology" to occasions when Christ either reveals Himself among a series of angels or provisionally incorporates the attributes of created heavenly beings without becoming an angel ontologically. He further avails himself of the expression "angel Christology" in order to speak of moments when the Scriptures identify Christ as an angel (ex officio) or possibly highlight His provisional angelic "nature." Moreover, Stuckenbruck appears to use “Angelomorphic” or “Angelophanic” somewhat synonymously (while preserving the respective shades of meaning for each adjective) as we will do throughout the course of this study. The difference between the two adnominals is that the former descriptive term emphasizes the form assumed or manifested by Christ while the latter adjectival expression underscores the act of manifestation (the appearance) simply and solely.

(4) A broader category that aptly describes what is often found in the documents of ancient and Second Temple Judaism as well as early Christian works is angelomorphism simpliciter. Angelomorphism refers to the phenomenon wherein exalted divine figures assume angelic or semi-divine forms. Such manifestations are not limited to the angelophanies of God's Son. Judaism speaks of such exalted figures as Adam, Abel, Enoch, Gabriel, Michael and Metatron.


Duncan said...

I have been reading this survey which I am sure you have already examined, very interesting:-

Edgar Foster said...

I have read Hannah and other works that deal with angelomorphic Christology. It was also my hope that you would read Hannah's book since he focuses on Michael.