Remembering the Word: A Decentered Approach to Two-Natures Christology Restricted; Files & ToC

Copeland, Rebecca (Spring 2018)

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This dissertation argues that anthropocentric assumptions have distorted the development of both conciliar christology and the challenges raised against it. By bringing the liberation hermeneutics of Delores Williams and Norman Habel into conversation with the field of biomimicry, the author develops ecomimetic interpretation as a hermeneutical strategy to resist anthropocentric biases, and then applies this strategy to the doctrine of the incarnation. This approach involves paying close attention to the lives of various creatures and engaging the perspectives of these creatures while temporarily bracketing out particularly human questions. Using this interpretive strategy, this dissertation argues that challenges to the coherence and plausibility of conciliar christology are best addressed by revisiting what the ecumenical councils meant when they stated that Christ was “homoousios (consubstantial) with the Father as to his divinity” and “homoousios (consubstantial) with us as to his humanity.” These claims lay the foundation for understanding all of reality to be composed of two ousiai, or ‘essences’—that of the Creator and that of the created. After examining the “perspectives” of four non-human creatures, the author offers a provisional understanding of created ousia as characterized by the interplay of stability and transformation, individual integrity and interdependence. This dissertation then brings that definition into conversation with the christological debates. The author responds to challenges to the plausibility of conciliar christology by recasting the incarnation as the foundation of material existence. On this foundation, the primary work of the incarnation is accomplished objectively by the incarnation itself, rather than subjectively as the cognitive appropriation of revelation. This interpretation serves the soteriological concerns of the ecumenical councils, affirms the ontological distinction between the Creator and the created that Christians have traditionally affirmed, and resists the human exceptionalism that has used the incarnation to justify unsustainable exploitation of the environment. 

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