Dialogue on the Two Natures in Christ
Peter Martyr Vermigli Library Vol. 2
By Peter Martyr Vermigli, Translated and Edited by John Patrick Donnelly
Publication Date: July 11, 2018
About this book
Although largely united in their protest against Rome,
the Protestant reformers became sharply divided amongst themselves in the decades immediately following the Reformation. Among the issues that increasingly divided Lutherans and Reformed was one of the central mysteries of the Christian faith: the relationship of the divine and human natures of Christ in the one incarnate person of the Redeemer. Arising out of the eucharistic debates that had pitted Luther’s highly realist account of the body and blood of Christ against the more symbolic language of the Reformed, the Christological controversies of the 1550s were to ultimately dash any hopes of a united Protestant church. However, the polemical literature of this period offered some of the most searching and sophisticated investigations of the doctrines of Christology that the church had seen since the Patristic era.
Among this literature, Peter Martyr Vermigli’s Dialogue on the Two Natures of Christ towers as a classic of early Reformed dogmatics. Penned in response to Johannes Brenz’s De Personali Duarum Naturarum in Christo, the Dialogues sought to head off what Vermigli saw as a dangerous innovation in Lutheran Christology: the so-called
ubiquity of Christ’s human body. As Vermigli’s last published work, the Dialogue was a fitting capstone to the Florentine reformer’s illustrious theological career, showcasing his peerless command of Patristic literature, sophisticated use of scholastic distinctions, and deep concern for orthodox teaching.
Paperback | 240 PAGES | 6×9 | PubliSHed July 11, 2018 | ISBN: 978-0999552797
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From the Book
A Dialogue on Whether the Human Nature of Christ is Everywhere
The Beginning of Topic I: The Humanity of Christ, who is God
Pantachus: From where, Orothetes, have you come to this colonnade? Unless I am mistaken, you seem to be turning over serious matters in your mind, and with some pain.
Orothetes: I’m coming from a bookstore, where I went to look over
some new books that were brought in recently.
Pantachus: May I ask if you have picked up anything good?
Orothetes: I’ve got myself upset just now because a very bad and par-
adoxical book caught my eye right away.
Pantachus: Can’t you tell me what you found there so tough and con-
trary to your taste that you couldn’t digest it?
Orothetes: I found there a fuller explanation of what at other times
you have told me about briefly and rather obscurely, for you belong to that group.
Pantachus: At one time or another we’ve talked over many things.
Since I am Davus and not Oedipus, I can’t figure out what you’re after.
Orothetes: In brief, the theme of the book is that Christ’s body is everywhere. Now I see how true the common saw is that “nothing is so well said nor wisely established that it can’t be twisted by being badly recounted or deliberately misinterpreted.”
Pantachus: How so?
Orothetes: Nothing could have been more divinely established than
the union of the two natures in the one person to assert the dignity and truth of Christ against Nestorius, but now, alas for the faith of God and men, what strange ideas and new dogmas, to say nothing more critical, are inferred from this statement? Nor in my view would these statements seem good and sound in themselves to their authors unless they went beyond the bounds of orthodox faith even while still asserting the real, substantial, and bodily presence (as they put it in their crude and bloated style) of the body and blood of Christ in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. And so, to give some basis
to their imaginings, they proceed to rave with all the confidence of a madman, and for no other reason maintain with firmness or rather with obstinacy that the humanity of Christ fills all places, to their own great loss and to the considerable harm of the Church. These arguments are sillier than those for whose sake they are spun out. The papists, who are the very essence of depravity, although they teach that presence with their vain and hateful transubstantiation, are not so lacking in reason, biblical understanding, and common sense that they ever made up this monstrous ubiquity for themselves. On the contrary, they have a profound aversion to this doctrine as something different from and foreign to the Church. What use is it to talk about the Fathers? None of them ever said or wrote or taught that the human nature of Christ fills all places. Only now has this terminology been born. Would that in our time an end was put to it as well. . .”
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Abbreviations Used in this Volume
Dialogue on the Two Natures in Christ
About the Translator
About the Authors
Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562) was born in Florence and educated in Padua before rising through the ranks of the Augustinian order in Italy. A secret convert to Protestantism in the 1530s, he eventually fled north to Germany in 1542, before holding a series of influential posts at Strasburg, Oxford, and Zurich. He ranks alongside John Calvin and Henrich Bullinger as among the chief architects of the Reformed Protestant tradition.
John Patrick Donnelly, S.J., received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1972, where he wrote a dissertation on Peter Martyr Vermigli under the direction of Robert M. Kingdon. Since 1971, he has taught at Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he is professor of history. His research has centered mainly on the Jesuits and on Peter Martyr Vermigli.
In addition to six articles and chapters in books dealing with Vermigli, he has published Calvinism and Scholasticism in Vermigli’s Doctrine of Man and Grace (Leiden: Brill, 1976), and with Robert M. Kingdon, A Bibliography of the Works of Peter Martyr Vermigli, Sixteenth Century Essays and Studies, XII (Kirksville, Mo.), 1990. He has previously translated from Latin various works of Thomas More (1982), Robert Bellarmine (1989), and Girolamo Savonarola (1994). He has held various offices in professional societies, including President of the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference (1977) and President of the Society for Reformation Research (1990–1991).
He currently serves on the editorial boards of The Sixteenth Century Journal and Archive for Reformation Research. He is co-general editor of the Peter Martyr Library.
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