Johnson, David L. Jesus Christ and the Rule of Faith: The Confessional Christology of the Early Fathers. Lexington, KY: Emeth Press, 2016.
The Church’s recognition of Jesus’ deity at Nicea is often attributed to the influences of polytheism and Greek philosophy. While a number of scholars have answered this claim by identifying a high Christology within the New Testament itself, questions still linger.
After an introduction explaining the rule of faith and relating it to the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers, the work is split into three parts, each with two chapters, addressing Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen in historical order. The first chapter in each part compares the Christology in that Father’s versions of the rule to the New Testament’s Christology. The second chapter in each part examines each Father’s theology in light of his hermeneutical application of the regula. A concluding part summarizes the study, ties together its implications, and considers how this early theological revitalization can provide insight for modern theological renewal.
The study concludes that despite theological differences attributable to hermeneutical issues and changing contexts, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen maintain the New Testament’s core christological assertions in their versions of the regula. This christological continuity suggests that the christological developments in the ante-Nicene church are better described as translation or revitalization rather than invention and innovation.
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