Polymorphic christology: Its origins and development in early christianity

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Abstract

Polymorphism, the ability of a figure to undergo metamorphosis into a new form or to appear simultaneously in multiple forms, remains a neglected factor in tracing the development of early christological reflections. While polymorphism is found in incipient form in the New Testament, it is not until the second century that a range of texts develop this motif. It is argued here that depictions of the ability of Jesus to appear in multiple forms are used in both docetic and 'proto-orthodox' Christologies. In the former, portrayal of a polymorphic Christ is used to denote transcendence over the material realm, whereas for the latter they illustrate that Jesus is not constrained by the forces of mortality, but rather that he has entered a higher state of physical existence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-99
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Theological Studies
Volume58
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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