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  • Theodor von Mopsuestia. De incarnatione: Überlieferung und Christologie der griechischen und lateinischen Fragmente einschliesslich Textausgabe
  • Amy Brown Hughes
Theodor von Mopsuestia. De incarnatione: Überlieferung und Christologie der griechischen und lateinischen Fragmente einschliesslich Textausgabe. By Till Jansen. [Patristische Texte und Studien, Band 65.] (New York: De Gruyter. 2009. Pp. xii, 311. $140.00. ISBN 978-3-110-21862-6; ISSN 0553-4003.)

Till Jansen offers a careful and clear examination of the complicated tradition of the fragments of Bishop Theodore of Mopsuestia's De incarnatione and argues for their value in understanding Theodore's Christology. The two parts, the tradition and analysis of the fragments (chapters 1-2) and an examination of the Christology of the fragments (chapters 3-5), are followed by a new edition of the Latin and Greek fragments of the De incarnatione as well as a German translation.

The contributions of Jansen's work are twofold: first, the new edition of the Latin and Greek fragments delivers a necessary update of Henry Barclay Swete's 1880-82 edition. Second, Jansen posits that a cohesive reconstruction of De incarnatione's Christology is possible and argues against Marcel Richard, who discredits the fragments as falsified. Such a historical theological contribution demands a meticulous setup. He first analyzes the Latin compilations for the Fifth Ecumenical Council and then turns to the Greek tradition. He reads Leontius of Byzantium (utilizing Brian Daley's "Leontius of Byzantium" [Oxford, 1978]) and Justinian concurrently. Noting that the council [End Page 760] shows more usage of Theodore's Contra Apollinarium and in a different order, he concludes that although both traditions used florilegia, they drew from different collections (p. 75). Jansen maps the tradition of the fragments into four phases: the controversy arising after Theodore's death; the Collatio cum Severianis of 532; the Fifth Ecumenical Council preparatory writings of Leontius, Justinian, and Innocent of 532-49; and the Council itself in 553 (which drew on the writings of Pelagius and Vigilius). Jansen's focus on Facundus of Hermiane—independent of the prominent textual material that seems to have been drawn up for the express purpose of denouncing Theodore—opens up the questions of reliability and the ever-present claims of falsification that loom over Theodore's work. These claims and the highly biased selections of obscure passages by opponents lend a degree of uncertainty to what the fragments can indeed deliver as a resource for Theodore's Christology. Jansen does not succumb to the danger of overreaching. He does not reject wholesale the compilations of critics, but in assessing their reliability and outlining the polemical context behind the selected passages, Jansen offers a tempered perspective on the historical reliance on these sources and demonstrates the importance of this for the reception of Theodore's Christology.

Jansen's work succeeds in presenting a clearer and more nuanced view of the tradition of the fragments that lets Theodore out from under the thumb of later redactors and resituates his Christology back into its polemical context. The rub, however, is whether the limited, but important, fragments can deliver as a resource for Theodore's Christology—specifically on the unity of natures in Christ—as Jansen claims. At the end, Jansen succeeds in this venture. By arranging the fragments in four groups with porous boundaries, Jansen demonstrates the polemical nature of Theodore's work against the Apollinarians and Eunomians and shows how his terms and Christology are formed as a defense within these boundaries (p. 159). Theodore lodges the same basic complaint against both groups: the denial of the true and perfect humanity of Christ. Jansen demonstrates that Theodore's context (especially terminology used for unity and the concept of indwelling) brings clarity to Theodore's conception of God. In shedding light on the development of presumptions and sources that fueled the discussions of fourth- and fifth-century Christology in which Theodore plays an important role, Jansen not only brings Theodore's Christology into sharper focus but also shows how this important dogmatic work is key to current discussions of the Nestorian/Cyrillian debates. Jansen's work is highly recommended.

Amy Brown Hughes
Wheaton College Wheaton, IL


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