The Christology of Irenaeus – resources?

I will be reading during January break on Irenaeus’ Christology, so I am fishing about for exceptionally good secondary sources (books, articles, etc.).  What do you suggest?

I am particularly interested to explore the relationship between creation and recapitulation in Irenaeus’ thought. I am aware of the divergent trajectories in the Orthodox and Catholic traditions concerning creation, incarnation, and glorification, but I want to spend some time with Irenaeus on this. The following passages generated my curiosity (again):

[The Son recapitulated] the long line of human beings and furnished in us in compendio with salvation; so that what we had lost in Adam – namely, to be according to the image and likeness of God – that we might recover in Christ Jesus…God recapitulated in Himself the ancient formation of man, that he might kill sin, deprive death of its power and vivify man” (Against Heresies, III.xviii.7, ANF I, p. 446, 448).

Suggestions on secondary literature?


10 thoughts on “The Christology of Irenaeus – resources?

  1. Kent, I have used “Early Christian Doctrines. 3rd ed” by J.N.D. Kelly as a history resource for the Patristic period. It is a very good book. I have also used “The Christological Controversy” by Richard A. Norris, which has some primary resources. I found both of these books helpful and I know that they are recommended by Richard Muller from Calvin. Hopefully that helps.

  2. There are a couple of monographs available on Ireneaus and collections. Robert Grant’s is a good new collection with a good intro.

    Also try Eric Osborn’s book. Steenberg’s book On God and Man might prove useful too.

    As far as publishers I’d check with Brill, Ashgate and such first.

    Khalid Anatolios’ book, Athanasius: The Coherence of His Thought, is outstanding and the first chapter or so has a good deal of material on Ireneaus on creation and recapitulation.

  3. The Scandal of the Incarnation by Von Balthasar is a collection of AH quotes in a sort of narrative progression. Balthasar gives the intro too…pretty good stuff.

    J. Kameron Carter’s book, Race: A Theological Account, also deals with Christological recapitulation as it bears on race talk and the racial imagination.

  4. Doulas Farrow’s “Ascension and Ecclesia” would be one to look into. He bases most of his argument on Irenaeus’ christology and cosmology. In fact, he devotes 2 whole chapters to the subject with a very in-depth analysis.

  5. Kent

    A former Roman Catholic, called John Paul Aranzulla, who is now working as missionary back in Italy (Bologna), is a Ph.D from King’s College London under Colin Gunton on Irenaeus’ conception of recapitulation.

    You can get hold of him here:

    I remember hearing him doing a paper on this at the postgrad seminar at King’s and it was exceptionally good – what garnerd most discussion was one of the most insightful defences I have heard of the (what I would regard as the classical position) view that Christ took an unfallen human nature in the incarnation … he made the point that in Ireneaus Christ recapitulates from the point of creation onwards, not from the point of the fall onwards.

    Anyway – JP might be a good person to contact and to ask about his thesis.


  6. Hey Kent,
    looks like you’ve got a lot of leads, but you might want to check out a book that is just coming out through Eerdmann’s in the next month called ‘Calvin’s Ladder’ by Julie Canlis. She did her PhD at St. Andrews under Alan Torrance on Irenaeus and Calvin.

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