Instrumentum Divinitatis in Thomas Aquinas: Recovering the Divinity of Christ

Document Type


Publication Date



SAGE Publications


Having successfully constructed Christologies "from below," theologians have reached a point in their understanding of Jesus where the humanity of the Lord is no longer in doubt. One could even argue that popular piety has reached such a point, and that the task of the current theological generation is to "recover" the divinity of Jesus Christ in such a way that the rediscovered humanity is not diminished. Indeed, the case for such a recovery of the divinity claim was made recently in the pages of this journal:

[W]ith considerable enthusiasm in our times for the prophetic figure of Jesus, there is a certain tragedy in the disappearance of the divinity claim into simple irrelevance. It is tragic for all the reasons that the Church Fathers of the fourth century gave: the radical nature of the redemptive claim and the long-sustained hope that it contains is captured precisely by the paradox so awkwardly and doggedly insisted upon at Chalcedon. ... Now that the search for the historical and human Jesus has had such extraordinary success, it seems that the most urgent attention must be given to the contemporary intelligibility of the divinity claim.

This call for an intelligible retrieval of the divinity claim is made even more challenging by recent theological developments which conclude that some classic theological constructions have been or must be surpassed. Feminist theologies, for example, have submitted to a searching réévaluation the premises, modes of argumentation, and conclusions of many traditional approaches to the subject matter of Christian faith. In Chris-tology in particular, feminist theologians have called for a reconsideration of the presentation of the relationship between the human and divine natures in Christ, where the human nature has often been presented as a passive factor in the work of redemption.