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God-man refers to the divine Incarnation as described within various religious faiths including early Roman Catholicism and Christian mysticism.



The first usage of the term God-man as a theological concept appears in the writing of the Christian Apostolic Father Origen in the 3rd century A.D.: [1]

"This substance of a soul, then, being intermediate between God and the flesh -- it being impossible for the nature of God to intermingle with a body without an intermediate instrument -- the God-man is born." [2]

Much is also written of the God-man by the medieval philosopher and theologian Anselm of Canterbury (11th century) in his treatise on the atonement, Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man):

"If it be necessary, therefore, as it appears, that the heavenly kingdom be made up of men, and this cannot be effected unless the aforesaid satisfaction be made, which none but God can make and none but man ought to make, it is necessary for the God-man to make it." [3]
"Therefore the God-man, whom we require to be of a nature both human and Divine, cannot be produced by a change from one into the other, nor by an imperfect commingling of both in a third; since these things cannot be, or, if they could be, would avail nothing to our purpose. Moreover, if these two complete natures are said to be joined somehow, in such a way that one may be Divine while the other is human, and yet that which is God not be the same with that which is man, it is impossible for both to do the work necessary to be accomplished. For God will not do it, because he has no debt to pay; and man will not do it, because he cannot. Therefore, in order that the God-man may perform this, it is necessary that the same being should perfect God and perfect man, in order to make this atonement. For he cannot and ought not to do it, unless he be very God and very man. Since, then, it is necessary that the God-man preserve the completeness of each nature, it is no less necessary that these two natures be united entire in one person, just as a body and a reasonable soul exist together in every human being; for otherwise it is impossible that the same being should be very God and very man." [4]

The word is also found in religious poetry and essays of the Romantic era. An example can be found in the poetry of Goethe:

"The God-man closeth Hell's sad doors, In all His majesty He soars." [5]

Analogous concepts


Hindu and Sufi

According to Indian religious author Meher Baba, the term "God-man" is the closest western equivalent to the eastern concepts of Rasool (Sufi), or Avatar (Vedanta).[6]. However, Rasool in Isalm literally means messenger form God in the Arabic language. In the Sofi poetry of Mansur Al-Hallaj and Ibn-Arabi the man-God and man becoming God is frequently observed.

"...the avatar is that highest status of God where God directly becomes man and lives on Earth as God-man." [7]


Under certain Christian interpretations, the term "messiah" could be viewed as analogous to the concept of the God-man. However, this is not the accepted view of this Hebrew term within contemporary Judaism.

See also


  1. ^ Baldwin, James, Dictionary Of Philosophy And Psychology, 1901.
  2. ^ Origen, De Principiis, Book II, Chapter VI. On the Incarnation of the Christ, 203-250 A.D.
  3. ^ Anselm of Canterbury, Cur Deus Homo, Chapter VI
  4. ^ Anselm of Canterbury, Cur Deus Homo, Chapter VII
  5. ^ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thoughts On Jesus Christ's Descent into Hell, 1765; as translated by Edgar Alfred Bowring, 1853
  6. ^ Meher Baba, God Speaks, The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose, Dodd Meade, 1955. 2nd Ed. p. 305
  7. ^ Meher Baba, God Speaks, The Theme of Creation and Its Purpose, Dodd Meade, 1955. 2nd Ed. p. 160

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