Suffering the World: An Augustinian Christology

Lenow, Joseph, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Mathewes, Charles, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Jones, Paul, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

Suffering the World: An Augustinian Christology seeks to develop a constructive christological proposal from resources found in the thought of St. Augustine of Hippo, and from the Augustinian theological tradition. The project hopes to fill a gap in present scholarship: while Augustine is noted as being one of the central figures in the history of Christian thought, only in recent years have historians and historical theologians begun to recognize the centrality of christology to his theology. Systematic and philosophical theologians have been even further behind this curve, and few if any christological proposals in the last century have sought to ground themselves specifically in Augustine’s texts. This study thus attempts to draw on the resources of contemporary Augustinian studies in service of a constructive theological aim, in dialogue with thinkers in the fields of systematic theology, analytic and continental philosophy of religion, and more.
The central claim of the dissertation is that human lives are inextricably shaped by relation to the environments, events, and people in and with which they unfold and take shape. Who we are is in significant part due to the agency and causality of the people and things in the world around us. If this is true of all human persons, it must also be true of Christ; and so, I develop an account of the Incarnation in which the Word’s eternal act of assuming flesh includes humans beyond Christ and draws their own agency into God’s redemptive work. This is, I argue, a theological proposal in great sympathy with Augustine’s theology of the totus Christus or “whole Christ,” and leads us to a view of the Church as the extension of Christ’s life in the world.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Augustine, Christology, Christian theology, Philosophical theology, Philosophy of religion, Systematic theology
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