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Title: Psilanthropism  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Nontrinitarianism, Biblical Unitarianism, Adoptionism, Christology, Unitarian Universalism
Collection: Christian Terminology, Christology, Nontrinitarianism
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The Nicene Creed, held by Emperor Constantine (center) in this icon, specifically rejected psilanthropism.[1]

Psilanthropism is an approach to Christology which understands Jesus to be human, the literal son of human parents.[2][3] The term derives from the combination of the Greek ψιλός (psilós), "plain," "mere" or "bare," and ἄνθρωπος (ánthrōpos) "human." Psilanthropists generally deny both the virgin birth of Jesus, and his divinity.

Historical figures such as Nestorius were not psilanthropists because they still maintained a divine component in their Christology.[4] Samuel Taylor Coleridge was, however, an example of a psilanthropist.[5] However, later in life Coleridge decisively rejected psilanthropism.[6]


  • Early psilanthropism 1
  • Medieval psilanthropism 2
  • Modern psilanthropism 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Early psilanthropism

The term is sometimes used to describe Ebionitism, which was rejected by the ecumenical councils, especially in the First Council of Nicaea, which was convened to deal directly with the nature of Christ's divinity.[7]

Medieval psilanthropism

Modern psilanthropism

An example of a modern psilanthropist is Uta Ranke-Heinemann who contends that the virgin birth of Jesus was meant—and should be understood—as an allegory of a special initiative of God, comparable to God's creation of Adam, and in line with legends and allegories of antiquity.[8]

Modern psilanthropists also include some members of the Unification Church. The church's textbook, the Divine Principle does not include the teaching that Zacharias was the father of Jesus, however according to Ruth Tucker some members of the church hold that belief based on the work of Leslie Weatherhead.[9][10][11][12]

See also


  1. ^ The creed: the apostolic faith in contemporary theology by Berard L. Marthaler 2007 ISBN 0-89622-537-2 page 129
  2. ^ The Westminster handbook to patristic theology by John Anthony McGuckin 2004 ISBN 0-664-22396-6 page 286
  3. ^ Thinking of Christ: proclamation, explanation, meaning by Tatha Wiley 2003 ISBN 0-8264-1530-X page 257
  4. ^ Grace and Christology in the Early Church by Donald Fairbairn 2006 ISBN 0-19-929710-X page 180
  5. ^ Coleridge "I was a psilanthropist, one of those who believe our Lord to have been the real son of Joseph." 1817 Biog. Lit. i 168, in Cyclopædia of Biblical, theological, and ecclesiastical literature, Volume 2 By John McClintock, James Strong 1894 p404
  6. ^ Samuel Taylor Coleridge by Basil Willey, p.156
  7. ^ Angels and Principalities by A. Wesley Carr 2005 ISBN 0-521-01875-7 page 131
  8. ^ Ranke-Heinemann, Uta. Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven. Garden City: Doubleday, 1990. ISBN 0-385-26527-1.
  9. ^ Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains, By U. S. Department of the Army, Published by The Minerva Group, Inc., 2001, ISBN 0-89875-607-3, ISBN 978-0-89875-607-4, page 1–42. Google books listing
  10. ^ Sontag, Fredrick (1977). Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church. Abingdon. pp. 102–105.  
  11. ^ Weatherhead, L.D. (1965). The Christian Agnostic. England: Hodder and Stoughton. pp. 59–63. 
  12. ^ Another Gospel: Cults, Alternative Religions, and the New Age Movement by Ruth A. Tucker 1989 ISBN 0-310-25937-1 pages 250-251
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