Christ as the fulfillment of creation: the doctrine of recapitulation in Irenaeus of Lyons

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Prokopchuk, Steven Eldie
History; Creation; Saint; recapitulation; 69679465; Gnosticism; doctrines; Views; Lyon; on; Irenaeus; Bishop
thesis / dissertation description
This thesis investigates the recapitulation theology of the second century bishop, Irenaeus of Lyons. This thesis further seeks to determine the logic that underlies the doctrine and to examine the connection between Christ as Creator and Christ as Redeemer in recapitulation theology. Chapter 1 places Irenaeus in his historical and theological context. Chapter 2 describes the nature of second century Gnosticism, focusing primarily on a description of Gnostic narrative and theology. Chapters 3 through 6 outline theological themes from which Irenaeus draws in order to construct his doctrine of recapitulation. Chapter 3 explores Irenaeus' doctrine of God, giving special attention to his 'Two hands of God' model. Chapter 4 discusses Irenaeus' doctrine of creation, while Chapter 5 focuses on Irenaean anthropology, demonstrating a number of the prevalent misunderstandings concerning this aspect of his theology. Chapter 6 is an investigation of the Irenaean doctrine of sin. Special effort is made to show the inadequacies related to John Hick's interpretation of Irenaean theodicy. In Chapter 7, recapitulation theology is discussed at length. To begin, Christ's work of recapitulation is linked to Old Testament history. Next, the relationship between Incarnation and recapitulation is investigated. In the third portion of Chapter 7, the connection between Christ's earthly ministry and recapitulation is explored. The fourth section of this chapter investigates the role played by the Crucifixion and Resurrection in recapitulation theology. Also, comparisons are drawn between recapitulation theology and three other influential models of the atonement. In the last section of Chapter 7 there is an investigation of Christ's work of recapitulation after the Resurrection. Special attention is given to the doctrine of the Ascension, which has frequently been ignored in modem theology. Eucharistic ecclesiology and the new creation are other important themes discussed in this section. In the conclusion, a summary of recapitulation theology is presented. It is suggested that recapitulation theology is driven by a relational ontology which understands the Incarnation as both an event and a process. The Ascension is shown to playa pivotal role in redemption by securing a place for creation within the communion of Father, Son, and Spirit. The doctrine of recapitulation emphasizes that we are redeemed with creation and not from creation. This must be so since Christ is both the Creator (Acts 3:15) and the first-fruits of the new creation (1 Cor. 15:20-24).