Great art thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised….Thou hast made us for thyself, and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee…

I call upon thee, O Lord, in my faith, which thou hast given me, which thou hast inspired in me through the humanity of thy Son.

Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo,
Confessions

From the beginning, Jesus had been seen by his followers as the disclosure of the nature of divinity. But as their reflections upon him deepened, Christians began to realize that in both the universality and the uniqueness of Jesus' humanity were contained fundamental insights into the human condition. These insights were neither appealing nor unproblematic. They struck at the very core of the human experience of evil and suffering in this world. As Christian thinkers delved more deeply into Jesus' humanity, they uncovered the curious paradox that continues to lay hold of the western imagination - that in order to redeem humanity, God had to suffer and die at the hands of humanity.
Great art thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised….Thou hast made us for thyself, and restless is our heart until it comes to rest in thee…

I call upon thee, O Lord, in my faith, which thou hast given me, which thou hast inspired in me through the humanity of thy Son.

Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo,
Confessions

From the beginning, Jesus had been seen by his followers as the disclosure of the nature of divinity. But as their reflections upon him deepened, Christians began to realize that in both the universality and the uniqueness of Jesus' humanity were contained fundamental insights into the human condition. These insights were neither appealing nor unproblematic. They struck at the very core of the human experience of evil and suffering in this world. As Christian thinkers delved more deeply into Jesus' humanity, they uncovered the curious paradox that continues to lay hold of the western imagination - that in order to redeem humanity, God had to suffer and die at the hands of humanity.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Pietà

This Pietà from Mexico gives forceful expression to the tragic humanity of Jesus: despised, rejected, tortured, and crucified, the battered Christ, unable to stand, is held up by his Heavenly Father.

Artist unknown
Museo Nacional de Arte

sculpture
PMA: J99.1997
© The Provincial Museum of Alberta.


Jesus Incarcerated

The statue presents a stark, unidealized image of a bloodied Jesus behind bars which may be seen as a symbol of the divine nature that remains incarcerated within all those human souls who stand deaf and dumb in the face of spiritual truths.

Iglesia San Javier

sculpture
PMA: J99.1996.
© The Provincial Museum of Alberta.


God loves us, such as we shall be, not such as we [now] are.

Augustine of Hippo, On the Trinity

While St. Augustine’s psychological theories often focused upon the selfishness and corruption of the human psyche after The Fall, he was also sensitive to the glory and sacrality of human existence. Original Sin had profoundly ruptured the integrity of human nature. It had obscured the reality of being created in God’s image, but it had not entirely dissolved that reality. The human mind was still imprinted with "traces of divinity," mental formations which mirrored the tripartite nature of the Trinity. Although the mirror had become clouded, humanity remained a reflection of its divine Creator. In Christ, the bridge between true image and reflection had been solidly established. The impeccable nature of divinity had entered into communion with fragile humanity. As the link between God and creation, Jesus was the model of what human nature had once been - and what we should strive to become again.
God loves us, such as we shall be, not such as we [now] are.

Augustine of Hippo, On the Trinity

While St. Augustine’s psychological theories often focused upon the selfishness and corruption of the human psyche after The Fall, he was also sensitive to the glory and sacrality of human existence. Original Sin had profoundly ruptured the integrity of human nature. It had obscured the reality of being created in God’s image, but it had not entirely dissolved that reality. The human mind was still imprinted with "traces of divinity," mental formations which mirrored the tripartite nature of the Trinity. Although the mirror had become clouded, humanity remained a reflection of its divine Creator. In Christ, the bridge between true image and reflection had been solidly established. The impeccable nature of divinity had entered into communion with fragile humanity. As the link between God and creation, Jesus was the model of what human nature had once been - and what we should strive to become again.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Adam and Eve

Christ is the "second" Adam, while Mary is the "second" Eve and prophetic symbol of the church.

Lucas Cranach l'Ancien (1472-1553).
c. 1538
Oil on panel
PMA:J99.135.
© Malcove Collection, University of Toronto.


Today the great mystery which has been announced from eternity ... appears in the arms of Anne; Mary, the Maiden of God is prepared to be a dwelling of the King of Eternity who will renew our human nature.

Vespers for the Maternity of Anne

A sensitive appreciation for Jesus’ humanity cannot be complete without an understanding of the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception, for it was through Mary that God entered into the bustling world of human existence. For many Christian theologians, Mary was the "second Eve," the impeccably pure woman who had given birth to the Messiah and thus erased the ancient stain of Original Sin from the human psyche. For others, however, Mary’s significance was much more this-worldly. Born by the grace of God from the womb of a barren mother, Mary is the mystical bridge between barrenness and abundance, between those who live without God and those who have discovered the fullness of life through Christ.
Today the great mystery which has been announced from eternity ... appears in the arms of Anne; Mary, the Maiden of God is prepared to be a dwelling of the King of Eternity who will renew our human nature.

Vespers for the Maternity of Anne

A sensitive appreciation for Jesus’ humanity cannot be complete without an understanding of the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception, for it was through Mary that God entered into the bustling world of human existence. For many Christian theologians, Mary was the "second Eve," the impeccably pure woman who had given birth to the Messiah and thus erased the ancient stain of Original Sin from the human psyche. For others, however, Mary’s significance was much more this-worldly. Born by the grace of God from the womb of a barren mother, Mary is the mystical bridge between barrenness and abundance, between those who live without God and those who have discovered the fullness of life through Christ.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Virgin and Child

Depictions of the Virgin and Child invite viewers to participate in the mystery of the Incarnation, in the fructification and re-creation of the human world through the joyful presence of the divine.

Aelbrecht Bouts (c.1460-1549).
16th Century
Oil on panel
Acc. no. 95/170. PMA:J99.1630.
© Art Gallery of Ontario.


The knowledge of God without that
of man's misery causes pride. The knowledge of man's misery without that of God causes despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ constitutes the middle course, because in him
we find both God and our misery.

Blaise Pascal, Pensées

The tension in Christian thought between pride and misery, between the knowledge of being created in the image and likeness of God and the intuitive understanding of The Fall, has long engaged theologians and philosophers. Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth-century French scientist and Christian philosopher, saw in Jesus' two natures the essential balance of these two qualities. Through his life as a man - and particularly his suffering on the cross - Jesus had participated in the misery of humanity. Through his union with the Father, Christ was the manifestation of divinity. The understanding of Jesus' two natures was, for Pascal, the path to a redemptive wisdom that was neither arrogant nor fatalistic. True wisd Read More
The knowledge of God without that
of man's misery causes pride. The knowledge of man's misery without that of God causes despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ constitutes the middle course, because in him
we find both God and our misery.

Blaise Pascal, Pensées

The tension in Christian thought between pride and misery, between the knowledge of being created in the image and likeness of God and the intuitive understanding of The Fall, has long engaged theologians and philosophers. Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth-century French scientist and Christian philosopher, saw in Jesus' two natures the essential balance of these two qualities. Through his life as a man - and particularly his suffering on the cross - Jesus had participated in the misery of humanity. Through his union with the Father, Christ was the manifestation of divinity. The understanding of Jesus' two natures was, for Pascal, the path to a redemptive wisdom that was neither arrogant nor fatalistic. True wisdom was capable of understanding and integrating the paradox at the core of the Christian religion - that Jesus was both God and man.

© 2000, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Death Mask of Blaise Pascal

Like his vision between pride and misery, Pascal's death mask blends the nobility of the human form with the tragic necessity of humanity's perishability.

Artist unknown
c. 1662
sculpture
PMA:J99.1693
© The Provincial Museum of Alberta.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Understand the nature of Jesus’s humanity;
  • Be able to describe the development of the theology of Jesus’s humanity through the ages;
  • Understand the relationship between the Virgin Mary and the humanity of Christ.

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