Volume 78, Issue 2, Spring 2004
Joseph W. Koterski
Boethius and the Theological Origins of the Concept of Person
Boethius’s famous definition of “person” as naturae rationabilis individua substantia (an individual substance of a rational nature) is frequently cited without reference to the specific theological purpose of his formulation (an attempt to provide some clarification about the mysteries of Christ and the Trinity). This article elucidates some of the theological issues that required philosophical progress on the nature of “personhood.” It also considers some of the residual difficulties with the application of this definition to divine persons that have been raised by subsequent theologians such as Thomas Aquinas who are otherwise sympathetic to Boethius’s definition of person when applied to human beings.