The Soul of Christ and The Word


#1

I have always thought that Jesus Christ was like us in all things but sin. So, does that also include the nature of his soul? Did he have a human soul that was separate from the Word? Or was the Word itself actually his soul?


#2

As much as is “out there” on the internet, it would take me hours of reading to find the citation, so please forgive me.

With that being said, yes, indeed Jesus had a human soul, as he was fully human, and part of being human is having an immortal soul. “The Word” is His Divinity, both in a hypostatic union* with one another.

*hypostatic union is the phrase used to describe both Jesus’ Divinity and Humanity, from the Greek hypo, meaning “underneath” or “behind” and “stasis”, meaning “existence”. Essentially, both His Divinity and Humanity were joined “underneath” the reality that we can see - this can be seen as a type of “transubstantiation”, the bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Jesus at consecration during the Sacrifice of the Mass.


#3

Yes, he has a human soul, since he has taken on a human nature. I don’t think it’s right to say that soul is separate from the Word, since the Word is a Person, not a nature, and a person’s nature is a part of that person. Did you mean to ask if the soul is separate from his divine nature? That much would be true.


#4

Hello pprimeau,

Yes Christ had (and does have) a human soul. Christ is one Divine Person (the Word, the second Person of the Trinity). He possesses a Divine Nature from eternity, and also a Human Nature (and thus a soul) since the Incarnation.

He did not have a human soul in separation from his Divine person. Nor did his person substitute for a human soul.

God bless!
VC


#5

There was a heresy called Appollinarianism, which claimed that the Logos took the place of the human rational soul in the human body of Christ.

In fact, Christ has a human body and a human soul (including a human intellect and will).


#6

This article from the Catholic Enclyclopedia somewhat answered my question, but there was one sentence that bugged me:

And all these reasons show that the human soul of Christ must have seen God face to face from the very first moment of its creation.

So, when was Christ’s soul created? Was it created with the angels? Was it created before the angels? I thought that he was begotten and not made.


#7

pprimeau1976,

That passage is limited to the question of whether or not Christ’s soul was from the first moment in the possession of the Beatific Vision. (Answer: yes.).

But, yes, the human soul of Christ IS a creature, it was created, just like all of our souls were created. But human souls do not pre-exist the body. . . and neither did Christ’s human soul pre-exist His body.

You are right that Christ Himself was begotten and NOT made. He is not a creature. The Son has always existed.

What do you think?
VC


#8

I am thinking of many things, actually and I am getting a headache!:smiley:

It is very difficult (for me) to say that Christ’s human soul did not pre-exist his body because my understanding is that the soul is a spiritual object that is not of this world as opposed to our bodies, which are of this world.

God is the creator of the universe, and therefore of time itself. So to say that God did this, then did this, is to say that God’s reality is our own, which I do not believe.

When God revealed his name, he said: I AM WHO AM. Not “I was who was” or “I will be who I will be”

So would it be a heresy to say that God created all souls at once? Or am I presumtuous to suspect what God’s reality is?


#9

I think there is a small misunderstanding here.

The human soul isn’t like a bit of God in us. While God and the human soul are very much related, they are two completely separate things. In other words, the… “stuff”… of God is not our soul. There is a profound ontological difference between humanity and God.

You might be thinking of the passage: “Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit.” We are created in pure love, and the Holy Spirit is constantly working in us to lead us to the Father in Heaven through the Wisdom of His Son, Jesus Christ. But this does not mean we “house” the Holy Spirit or that our soul is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in those whom God loves and He does this by the Will of the Father, not in accordance with our lowly human nature.

God, properly speaking, doesn’t have a soul. He IS. He doesn’t “possess” anything. When the Word became Flesh, he “assumed” human nature. This means that he took human nature upon him. While for all other humans, a new person is formed with the conception of a new human nature, for the Word, the person pre-existed and he TOOK ON FLESH.

At conception, a completely new human person is formed. A human person means, body AND soul. Souls are created with every new conception. They are created by the love of God (aka, the Holy Spirit.)

God didn’t make human bodies for this world. At the end of time, God willing, we will be able to see Him with our entire person, body and soul. (Our bodies will be “glorified,” which is a completely different topic.)


#10

I hear ya!:thumbsup:

Well, not a heresy per se! But the Church has condemned the notion that souls pre-exist. See, for instance the Second Council of Alexandria condemnations of Origen:

If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema.

I see what you mean here, but you might need to refine that a bit. While it is true that our souls are spiritual, that is not to say that is something inherent in the notion of “soul”. The soul is the principle of life in a material creature. . . thus plants, animals, and humans have souls. But the principle of life in plants and animals (their “souls” so to speak) are purely material things, dependent upon the workings of their material bodies. In our case, the principle of life, our soul, is immaterial. It is a spiritual substance that can exist (and does) independent of our bodies. Being spiritual it is also immortal.

But you might go too far to say that our souls are not of this world. . . our souls are natural. In fact, we are a whole unit, body and soul. . . it just so happens that we have a material and an immaterial component.

What do you think? :shrug:
VC


#11

OK, so the soul of Christ is human. His human soul saw the face of God at the moment of his conception via the beatific vision. This resulted in the Hypostatic Union between the soul of Christ and the Word?

What do I think? I think I think to much. I also am glad that I ask questions rather than make statements. I would be anathemized :eek:


#12

Yeah, you’re doing just fine! It’s important to think and to be humble doing it, but we can all learn!

I fear, however, you’re slipping into the heresy of Nestorius.

His human soul was HIS… Whatever Christ’s soul did was a result of HIS action. So to say that “the hypostatic union was the result of the beatific vision of the human soul” is somewhat incorrect as this implies that there was another person – not the Word – seeing the Face of God. No, the soul of Christ – the human soul – was HIS. There is no necessity for there to be a NEW “beatific vision” because the only person who would be doing the “seeing” would be Christ Himself, and He already knows God perfectly, as He has always known God perfectly.

Of course, we have hope because just as Christ’s **human **soul was in full possession of this beatific vision (because it is **Christ’s **human soul), we know that we too can have that beatific vision. :extrahappy:


#13

Check.

Check.

Hmm. That part might be clarified. Christ’s soul beholding the face of God means that He is having “vision of the Beatific”, hence posessing the Beatific Vision. Your use of the word “via” sounds as if the Beatific Vision is a means to an end, but it is actually THE end.

No, not quite. The Hypostatic Union describes the fact of the Incarnation. It relates the dogma that Christ is One Divine Person posessing two natures. Those two natures are united in His Person. An “hypostasis” is (according to a classical definition) “a whole substance with a rational nature.” In other words, a person. So when we say “Hypostatic Union” we mean to convey the reality of two natures (Divine nature and human nature) united in the Divine Hypostasis.

So, it would be inaccurate to say that Christ’s human nature participating in the Beatific Vision resulted in the Hypostatic Union. . . rather we might want to say that as a result OF the hypostatic union Christ’s human nature necessarily participated in the Beatific Vision?1

Hmmm. :hmmm: I think I understand what you mean. . . but it might be more complete to focus on the fact that the Hypostatic Union means two natures united in one Divine Person. Christ’s human soul is not equivalent to his human nature. For instance St. Thomas Aquinas states in the Summa thatThe Son of God was not born in appearance only, as if He had an imaginary body; but His body was real. The proof of this is threefold. First, from the essence of human nature to which it pertains to have a true body. Therefore granted, as already proved, that it was fitting for the Son of God to assume human nature, He must consequently have assumed a real body. (III: 5 :1)So, in this sense Christ’s human nature means also his human body. So the Hypostatic Union does not just describe the union in the Word (The Second Person of the Trinity) of the human soul of Christ, but rather with the entire human nature of Christ, with the Divine Nature.

Thank you for such an interesting discussion! You certainly have made me think! :thumbsup:

VC

  1. Here I note the distinction between the sanctity of Christ substantially and accidentally. Substantially by the fact of the Hypostatic Union, but also accidentally by the infusion of sanctifying grace in his soul. It is a fascinating topic, and one that you might want to do some research on your own. Suffice to say that we should remember that Christ’s human soul needed Sanctifying grace. . . just as ours does. . . to elevate it to its supernatural activity.

#14

Zahmir, your excellent observation also points out an inaccuracy in my prior post above (which I quoted). I should really have said “Christ’s soul participating in the Beatific Vision. . .”, or in some other way tried to convey that his human soul’s power of intellect apprehended immediately the Divine essence, and enjoyed infused knowledge.

When I wrote “He is having. . .” above I fell into the same error you described, since He is a person, not a nature.

Thanks!
Vc


#15

[quote=Zahmir]His human soul was HIS… Whatever Christ’s soul did was a result of HIS action. So to say that “the hypostatic union was the result of the beatific vision of the human soul” is somewhat incorrect as this implies that there was another person – not the Word – seeing the Face of God. No, the soul of Christ – the human soul – was HIS. There is no necessity for there to be a NEW “beatific vision” because the only person who would be doing the “seeing” would be Christ Himself, and He already knows God perfectly, as He has always known God perfectly.

[/quote]

So I implied that Christ’s soul was a human soul that became divine. I had a feeling that I was right, because as I was writing it I was thinking of what it implies. My statement implied that when a human soul sees the beatific vision, it would become divine.

[quote=Verbum Caro]The Hypostatic Union describes the fact of the Incarnation. It relates the dogma that Christ is One Divine Person posessing two natures. Those two natures are united in His Person. An “hypostasis” is (according to a classical definition) “a whole substance with a rational nature.” In other words, a person. So when we say “Hypostatic Union” we mean to convey the reality of two natures (Divine nature and human nature) united in the Divine Hypostasis.

[/quote]

So is personhood determined by an objects’ rational nature? From my experience this would fly in the face of the dignity of a human person, as many human persons (like infants, the insane) are not rational. I always thought that in the case of the human person, the human soul is what makes a homo sapiens a human.

So Christ has a human nature and a divine nature united in a single person. That would imply that his soul and the Word were united. If they weren’t united, that would mean that Jesus and the Word were two separate persons. Am I right in my reasoning?:confused:

Thank You very much for this discussion, btw.


#16

Personhood is determined by a rational nature. But this does not mean that infants and the handicapped are “less human,” as they share in the same nature. While the function of their rational nature is not up to par, it is a rational nature. That’s the basic logical conclusion that many “moralists” don’t make. From this, you get things like abortion, infanticide, etc.

Our rational nature is our soul. By formal definition, human beings are animals with a rational soul. Furthermore, the human soul is divided into three parts: passions, will, and the intellect. The intellect is the “rational” part of the human soul and in this part is both faith and reason.

You are right to say that a soul is what makes a person, or a particular human being because the human soul, is by nature, rational. We’re saying the same thing in different ways.

And about the hypostatic union, this is very important:

The Person of the Incarnation is the WORD that was, is, and always will be. Again, the Person of Jesus Christ is the Word.

The Word united himself to human nature, not another human person. If there was no union, there would be no human being.

This is very important, if you don’t understand this, please, let me know.


#17

This is where I am confused. How could He unite Himself to human nature and not another human person. That would be like saying that Jesus was a human person but not a divine person, wouldn’t it?


#18

The Word’s personhood has always existed, exists, and will always exist. The Word, the Son of God, has always been a Person.

So this is how you normally hear it explained…

The Person of the Word has a Divine nature.

Human persons have a human nature.

Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, was a Divive person who possessed Divine nature, but then came to also have a human nature as well. He is one Person with two natures.

He was a true human being, but the person of Jesus Christ was the Word.

For example, you have two human friends, one of whom is named Bob, the other of whom is Jesus Christ. You point at Bob and say “You’re Bob.” But you can point at Jesus and say, “You’re God.” He’s a human, but the person is Divine.

To be honest, I don’t know what you mean by your question, but I hope I answered it.


#19

So was I confusing the Hypostatic Union with the Incarnation?


#20

Err… They’re the same thing?

The Incarnation is just the general term to describe God becoming man.

The hypostatic union explains how precisely this took place.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.