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Philosophy and Theology

Volume 22, Issue 1/2, 2010

Anna Marmodoro, Jonathan Hill
Pages 27-48
DOI: 10.5840/philtheol2010221/22

Peter Abelard’s Metaphysics of the Incarnation

In this paper, we examine Abelard’s model of the incarnation and place it within the wider context of his views in metaphysics and logic. In particular, we consider whether Abelard has the resources to solve the major difficulties faced by the so-called “compositional models” of the incarnation, such as his own. These difficulties include: the requirement to account for Christ’s unity as a single person, despite being composed of two concrete particulars; the requirement to allow that Christ is identical with the pre-existent Son, despite the fact that the pre-existent Son is a (proper) part of the incarnate Christ; and finally the requirement to avoid Nestorianism, i.e., the position that Christ’s proper parts are persons in their own right. We argue that Abelard does have adequate solutions to these problems. In particular, we show that his theories of relations and predication can be put to use in defence of a compositional account of the incarnation.