When the Soul is Joined to the Body in the Womb, & on the Formation of Christ’s Human Nature in the Womb

“…the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which…  formeth the spirit of man within him.”

Zech. 12:1

“If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.  And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life…”

Ex. 21:22-23

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Order of Contents

Bible Verses  14
Articles  3
Quotes  10

Zygote & Embryo  2
Historical  5
Latin  7
.     Ectopic Pregnancies  2

Christ in the Womb
.      Formed Body & Hypostatic Union at Conception View
.      Natural Development View, Ensoulment & Hypostatic Union circa 42 days
.      Historical Theology


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Bible Verses

Old Testament  9

Ex. 21:22-23  “If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.  And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life…”

Lev. 12:2-7  “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean.  And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.  And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.

But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.

And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest:  Who shall offer it before the Lord, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female.”

2 Sam. 11:5  “And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, ‘I am with child.'”

Job 3:3  “Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, ‘There is a man child conceived.'”

Ps. 51:5  “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

Ps. 139:13-16  “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.   Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”

Song 3:4  “…until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.”

Zech. 12:1  “…the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which…  formeth the spirit of man within him.”

For more O.T. references, see the results for “conceive” at BibleGateway.

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New Testament  5

Mt. 1:20  “…fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived [neuter] in her is of the Holy Ghost.”

Lk. 1:31  “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.”

Lk. 1:36, 41  “And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her…  And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb…”

Lk. 2:21  “…his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”

Rom. 9:10-13  “…when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)…  As it is written, ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.'”


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Articles

Medieval Church

Aquinas, Thomas – ch. 89, ‘Solution of the Preceding Arguments [for Traducianism]’  of Contra Gentiles, bk. 2, Creation.  See especially section 11.

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1600’s

Willet, Andrew – Question 57, ‘Whether this law [Ex. 21:22-23] extends itself to infants which miscarry, being not yet perfectly formed?’  in Hexapla in Genesin & Exodum…  (London, 1633), On the Ten Commandments in Particular, ch. 21, pp. 401-2

Willet (c.1561-1621), a puritan, Anglican clergyman, gives a survey of commentators and thought on this passage.  He quotes Augustine saying:

“The living soul cannot be said to be yet in that body which wants sense.”  “An evident example is given in Adam that the body when it is now fashioned receives the soul, and not before: For after Adam’s body was made, the Lord breathed into him the breath of life.”

See also the previous question Willet addressed, Question 56, ‘Whether the death of the infant be punished, as well as of the mother?’, he quoting Calvin in it.


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Quotes

Order of Quotes

Augustine
Davenant, John
Rutherford, Samuel
Mayer, John
Hall, Joseph
Trapp, John
Hughes, George & Osiander
Poole, Matthew
Annand, William
Edwards, John

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Augustine

Questions on Exodus, on Ex. 21:22

“Question 80, Abortion of a Woman from a Brawl Between Two Men.

…Well, the fact that the author [of Exodus] did not want the unborn childbirth to belong to the homicide proves that he thought that it was not man that is carried in the mother’s womb.  Here the problem of the soul is usually posed, that is, if what is not formed cannot be said to be animated, and therefore, that it would not be a homicide, since it cannot be affirmed that a being that had not yet had soul.”

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John Davenant

p. 266  of Determination 9, ‘Free-will is not granted to the unregenerate for their spiritual good’  inThe Determinations, or Resolutions of Certain Theological Questions, Publicly Discussed in the University of Cambridgetrans. Josiah Allport  (1634; 1846)  bound at the end of John Davenant, A Treatise on Justification, or the Disputatio de Justitia...  trans. Josiah Allport  (1631; London, 1846), vol. 2

“For example, take the embryo; we affirm that this properly lives as soon as the heart partakes of life, although the other members of the body are not yet developed.

Why, then, should we not say, that the spiritual embryo, from that very moment in which the heart is embued with spiritual life, is quickened or regenerated, although many parts of sanctification have not yet acquired their distinct, and, as it were, perfect development.”

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Rutherford, Samuel

The Trial & Triumph of Faith…  (London, 1652), Sermon 21, ‘Then Jesus Answered & Said unto Her, ‘O Woman, great is thy Faith, etc.”, pp. 312-14

“1. There be some preparations which go before faith:  Faith is a seed of heaven…  so does the Lord set up a new world of faith in a soul void of faith by degrees: There’s a time when there’s neither perfect night, nor perfect day: but the twilight of the morning…  There’s a half summer, and a half spring in the close of the spring which God made.  The embryo, or birth not yet animated, is neither seed only, nor a man-child only

3. Its true, the new creation and life of God is virtually seminaliter [seminally] in these preparations, as the seed is a tree in hope, the blossom an apple, the foundation a palace in its beginning; so half a desire in the non-converted is love sickness for Christ in the seed, legal humiliation is in hope evangelic repentance and mortification:

But as the seed and the growing tree differ not gradually only, but in nature and specifically, as a thing without life is not of that same nature and essence with a creature that has a vegetative life and growth, so the preparatory good affections of desire, hunger sorrow, humiliation going before conversion, differ specifically from those renewed affections which follow after…”

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Mayer, John

A Commentary upon the Whole Old Testament…  (London, 1653), Exodus, ch. 21, p. 558

“If it be further demanded, whether in case that death follows, it be to be understood of any child, how little time soever the mother has gone with it?

I answer with Simlerus that we must distinguish between a child formed and unformed, if the child were an embryo, not yet perfected, although it perished, the party, by whose stroke, was not to be put to death, but for such only as was come to perfection, so likewise Augustine and Jerome in Decretis, Causa 32, Question 2, Ch. Mosis, and the words of the text, ‘life for life’, seem to make for it, that a man’s life must not be paid but for one living and perfected, and the Septuagint make this plain by rendering, ‘not death’, [Hebrew], ‘not formed’.”

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Hall, Joseph

Cases of Conscience Practically Resolved…  (London, 1654), 2nd Decade, Case 3, ‘Whether may it be lawful, in case of extremity, to procure the abortion of the child for the preservation of the mother?’, pp. 90-91, 93-95.  Hall was a godly Anglican bishop.

“…our causuists…  consider of the conception, either as it is before it receive life, or after that it is animated: Before it receive life, they are wont to determine, that howsoever it were no less than mortal sin, in a physician to prescribe a medicinal receit [prescription] to cause abortion, for the hiding of a sin, or any outward secular occasion, yet for the preservation of the life of the mother, in an extreme danger (I say, before animation) it might be lawful: But after life once received, it were an heinous sin to administer any such mortal remedy.

The latter casuists are better advised; and justly hold that to give any such expelling or destructive medicine, with a direct intention
to work an abortment (whether before or after animation) is utterly unlawful, and highly sinful: And with them I cannot but concur in opinion; For, after conception we know that naturally follows animation, there is only the time that makes the difference, which in this case is not so considerable as to take off a sin…

…the Septuagint in their translation (as [Leonardus] Lessius well observes) have rendered that Mosaical law (in Ex. 21[:22-23]) concerning abortions, in these terms:

‘If a man strike a woman that is with child, and she make an abortion, if the child were formed, he shall give his life for the life of the child; if it were not formed, he shall be punished with a pecuniary mulct to her husband,’

applying that to the issue [the fetus] which the Vulgar Latin understands of the mother; and making the supposition to
be of a formation and life, which the Latin more agreeably to the [Hebrew] original, makes to be ‘death’; and our English [KJV], with Castalion expresses by ‘mischief’: but whether the mischief be meant of the death of the mother or of the late-living issue, the Scripture has not declared: Cornelius à Lapide taking it expresly of the mother’s death, yet draws the judgement out, in an equal length to the death of the child, once animated; making no difference of the guilt; since the infant’s soul is of no less worth than her’s that beats him.”

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Trapp, John

Commentary (d. 1669) on Ex. ch. 21, v. 22

“Ver. 22. And yet no mischief follow,] i.e., No life be lost.  There is a time, then, when the embryo is not alive; therefore the soul is not begotten, but infused after a time by GodInfundendo creatur, et creando infunditur, says Augustine, who at first doubted, till overcome by Jerome’s arguments.”

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Hughes, George & Osiander

An Analytical Exposition of the Whole First Book of Moses, called Genesis, and of XXIII chap. of his Second Book, called Exodus…  (1672), ch. 21, p. 922  Hughes (d. 1677) was a puritan.

“Question 4, Whose mischief or death is here supposed to follow [in v. 23, in contrast to v. 22]?

Answer 1: The mother’s death, if she should die of it, but not only her’s; however some think so.  Osiander: 2. The child’s death also is here intended, after which God looks, that it should be preserved in the womb, as a man’s life to be secured in his house; but this fruit of the womb must be supposed actually to have life, as the judgement supposes, which gives life for life.

Question 5, What is the burden of the judgment hereupon?

Answer: The sentence of retaliation, life for life, if mother or child die, the smiter must die also; only by a just proceeding in judgment, and legal trial and proof according to the law, and that before lawful judges, not common arbitrators.”

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Poole, Matthew

Annotations

on Ex. ch. 21, v. 22

“‘No mischief follow’, neither to the woman nor child; for it is generally so as to reach both, in case the abortive had life in it.”

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Annand, William

Doxologia; or Glory to the Father…  (London, 1672), Doxologia; or Glory to the Holy Ghost, Reduced to Practice, section 1, p. 124

“At the Creation the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, Gen. 1.1.  So that He was at the framing of this world; and because of that, must be concluded to exist before the world: for when a man in verity can be said to subsist without a soul, the eternity of God shall be allowed, granting Him to abide without his Spirit; which here brooded over the world’s embryo, animating the same for production, infusing such vivifying heat as might capacitate the first confused mass, to bring forth the several forms of things we behold…”

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Lee, Samuel

The Joy of Faith, or, a Treatise Opening the True Nature of Faith…  (Boston, 1687), pt. 2, ch. 1, section 6, p. 93  Lee, M. A. (d. 1691) was “sometime Fellow of Wadham, Colledge, Oxford”.

“I might trace a little the time of faith’s first infusion and first operation in the heart, which is undoubtedly at the new birth, when ever it is.  But how to prescribe, and when precisely to determine that, in the soul of a believer is more difficult than to state the quickening or animation of an embryo in the womb of her that is with child, or for any naturallist so set the moment of the first separation of night from day at the initiating crepusculum or ascent of the first atom of the morning rays of the sun’s body, or the primogenial fermentation of the vegetative soul in the seed-corn in the earth…  It’s much more difficult to set down the first punctual workings of the Spirit in our hearts.”

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John Edwards

A Demonstration of the Existence & Providence of God…  (London, 1696), 2nd Part, ch. 6, pp. 109-110

“…we cannot give an account of the whole process of generation, which consists of conception, formation or the delineation of the several parts, and animation by infusing the soul; but this we know, that it far surpasses all finite power.

And without doubt Monsieur Descartes, who was so thinking a philosopher, would never have ascribed this great work to mere mechanism, but that he was unawares betrayed into it by his solving of other things by mechanic principles: So that it would be expected that he should make an uniform piece of philosophy.  And thence he was, as it were, forced to go through with his work that he had begun, and to maintain that all is done mechanically, even in the production of man.”


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On the Zygote & Embryo

Calvin

Commentary on Ps. 139:16

16. ‘Thine eyes beheld my shapelessness, etc.’  The embryo, when first conceived in the womb, has no form; and David speaks of God’s having known him when he was yet a shapeless mass, τὸ κύημα, as the Greeks term it; for τὸ εμβρυον is the name given to the fetus from the time of conception to birth inclusive.  The argument is from the greater to the less.  If he was known to God before he had grown to certain definite shape, much less could he now elude his observation…

The other is the more natural meaning, that the different parts of the human body are formed in a succession of time; for in the first germ there is no arrangement of parts, or proportion of members, but it is developed, and takes its peculiar form progressively…  that though the members were formed in the course of days, or gradually, none of them had existed; no order or distinctness of parts having been there at first, but a formless substance.  And thus our admiration is directed to the providence of God in gradually giving shape and beauty to a confused mass.”

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Arthur Jackson

Commentary on Ps. 139

Verse 16. ‘Thine eyes did see my substance yet being unperfect,’ etc.]

That is, so soon as ever I was conceived, whilst I was yet an imperfect embryo: and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them; that is, all those members of my body, which in continuance of time grew to have their perfect shape, were as clearly seen by thee, even when as yet there was none of them that had their shape and proportion, as those things are seen by men…”


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Historical

General

Books

eds. Dunstan, G.R. & Mary Seller – The Status of the Human Embryo: Perspectives of Moral Tradition  (King Edward’s Hospital Fund for London, 1988)  125 pp.  ToC

Jones, David Albert – The Soul of the Embryo: An Enquiry into the Status of the Human Embryo in the Christian Tradition  (London: continuum, 2004)  265 pp.  ToC

ed. Dunstan, G.R. – The Human Embryo. Aristotle & the Arabic and European Traditions  Buy  (University of Exeter Press, 2019)  248 pp.

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On the Early & Medieval Church

Articles

Jones, David Albert – The Soul of the Embryo: An Enquiry into the Status of the Human Embryo in the Christian Tradition  (London: continuum, 2004)

ch. 5, ‘Medicinal Penalties: Early Christianity & Abortion: Celtic/Anglo-Saxon penances, Greek/Latin canons’, pp. 57-75

ch. 7, ‘Whence the Soul?  The Church fathers on the origin of the soul: pre-existence, traducianism, creationism’, pp. 92-109

ch. 8, ‘The Timing of Ensoulment: Immediate & Delayed Animation from the Fathers to Thomas Aquinas’, pp. 109-25

ch. 9, ‘The Embryonic Christ: the conception of Jesus, Chalcedon, Maximus the Confessor on the embryo’, pp. 125-41

ch. 13, ‘The Justice of Miscarriage: Abortion Law from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century’, pp. 194-214

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On the Post-Reformation

Articles

Jones, David Albert – The Soul of the Embryo: An Enquiry into the Status of the Human Embryo in the Christian Tradition  (London: continuum, 2004)

ch. 10, ‘Imputed Dignity: Luther, Calvin & Barth: from essential to relational categories’, pp. 141-56

ch. 11, ‘Embryology through the Looking Glass’ [on Decartes et al.], pp. 156-75

ch. 12, ‘Probable Sins & Indirect Exceptions: Casuistry, therapeutic abortion, probabilism, application to the embryo’ [in Romanism], pp. 175-94

ch. 13, ‘The Justice of Miscarriage: Abortion Law from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century’, pp. 194-214

Goudriaan, Aza – pp. 239-42, 247-48 & 257  of ch. 4, ‘The Human Being: His Soul & Body…’  in Reformed Orthodoxy & Philosophy, 1625-1750: Gisbertus Voetius, Petrus van Mastricht, & Anthonius Driessen  (Brill, 2006)

Goudriaan surveys the views of Voet (1589-1676), Mastricht (1630-1706) and Driessen (1684-1748, who was influenced by Cartesianism).

“In Voetius’s view it is valid to say that some unborn foetuses have ‘a human life’ and others have not.  He refers to Exodus 21:22-23 as a passage suggesting that not all abortions of foetuses are the same.  He shows a certain flexibility as to the estimated time when a foetus is animated [ensouled], but maintains that the soul can only ‘be brought into an organized body’…  Zechariah 12:1, a text that speaks of ‘…the Lord, which…  formeth the spirit of man within him’ (AV)…  Voetius obviously thought that initially there is no soul for an embryo that has yet to be formed.  He cites various opinions on the time when an embryo is animated…  Voet thinks it is prudent not to move beyond the latter estimate [of the 30th to 40th day], and leaves further debate to physicians.  The former estimate seems to have been motivated by references to both Aristotle and the Bible (Lev. 12[:2-6]).” – pp. 239-41

“…like Voetius–he interprets Zecahriah 12 as implying that the soul is given to a ‘body that is already formed organically.’  Van Mastricht denies a development throughout three kinds of souls [as Aquinas held], ‘first the vegetative, then the sensitive and finally the rational’ soul…  It seems that Van Mastricht–like his predecessor in Utrecht [Voet]–thought that the body needs to have reached a certain stage in its development, before it receives a soul.” – p. 247

Beeke, Joel & Todd Rester – Preface  in Peter van Mastricht, Theoretical Practical Theology  (RHB, 2022), vol. 4

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Dutch

Schenderling, J. – ‘De gereformeerde orthodoxie en de morele status van het embryo’  Ref  in Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift, vol. 57, no. 1 (2003), pp. 32-48


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Latin Articles

1500’s

Simoni, Simon – A Disputation on the Parts of Animals Properly Called Solids, & Further, on the Way, on the First Formation of a Foetus  (Leipzig, 1574)  28 pp.

Simoni (1532-1602)

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1600’s

Poole, Matthew – on Ex. 21:22-23, cols. 418-19 of Synopsis Criticorum… vol. 1  (Utrecht, 1684)

Schoock, Marten – A Disquisition of Physics on the Marks of a Fetus, in which Many Rare Cases are Proposed & Examined  (Groningen, 1659)  72 pp.

Schoock (1614-1669)

Kerckring, Theodor – Anthropogeniae Ichnographia, or the Formation of the Fetus from an Egg to the Beginning of Ossification  (Amsterdam, 1671)  14 pp.

Kerckring (1640-1693) was a doctor of medicine.

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1700’s

Hofmann, Daniel – Medical Annotations on the Goveyan Hypotheses on the Generation of a Fetus…  (Frankfurt, 1719)  316 pp.

Hofmann (1538-1611) was Lutheran.

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Latin Book

1600’s

Deusing, Anton – The Genesis of a Microcosm, or a Dissertation on the Generation of a Foetus in the Womb  (Amstelodam, 1665)  355 pp.  ToC  See especially pt. 3, section 1, pp. 180-81

Deusing (1612-1666) was a doctor of philosophy and medicine in Groningen.


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On Ectopic Pregnancies

Latin

1600’s

Deusing, Anton – A History of the Fetus having been Born Outside the Uterus in the Abdomen…  (Groningen, 1661)  166 pp.  ToC

Elsholtz, Johann Sigismund – On an Ectopic Conception, whenever Human Fetuses are Taken Up outside the Uterine Cavity in the Tubes…  (Berlin, 1669)

Elsholtz (1623-1688)


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On Christ in the Womb

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The View that Christ had a Formed Body from Conception, when occured the Uniting of it to his Soul, Person & Divine Nature in the Hypostatic Union

Middle Ages

Articles

John of Damascus – On the Orthodox Faith, bk. 3  in NPNF2, vol. 9, pt. 2

ch. 2, ‘Concerning the manner in which the Word was conceived, and concerning his divine incarnation’, p. 46

ch. 7, ‘Concerning the one compound subsistence of God the Word’, pp. 51-52

ch. 21, ‘Concerning ignorance and servitude’, p. 69

ch. 22, ‘Concerning his growth’, pp. 69-70

Aquinas, Thomas – Contra Gentiles, bk. 4, Salvation

ch. 43, ‘That the Human Nature Assumed by the Word did Not Pre-Exist its Assumption, but was Assumed in the Conception Itself’

ch. 44, ‘That the Human Nature Assumed by the Word in the Conception Itself was Perfect in Soul & Body’

Zanchi took Aquinas’s view, which Zanchi says was dominant in the early Church and Middle Ages.

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Quotes

1500’s

William Perkins

An Exposition of the Symbol or Creed of the Apostles…  (Cambridge, 1595)

“In the conception of Christ we must observe and consider three things.  The framing of the manhood, the sanctifying of it, and the personal union of the manhood with the Godhead.  And howsoever I distinguish these three for order’s sake, yet must we know and remember, that they are all wrought at one and the same instant of time.  For when the Holy Ghost frames and sanctifies the manhood in the womb of the virgin: at the very same moment it is received into the unity of the second person…

As for his soul, it was not derived from the soul of the virgin Mary as a part thereof, but it was made as the souls of all other men be, of nothing by the power of God, and placed in the body; both of them from the first moment of their being, having their subsistence in the person of the son.” – p. 157

“As for the manner of the making and framing of the human nature of Christ, it was miraculous, not by generation according to the ordinary course of nature, but by an extraordinary operation of the Holy Ghost above nature: and for this cause it is not within the compass of man’s reason either to conceive or to express the manner and order of this conception.  The angel ascribes two actions to the Holy Ghost in this matter [in Lk. 1:35]…

by the first is signified the extraordinary work of the Holy Ghost in fashioning the human nature of Christ, for so much the phrase elsewhere imports…

Now the Holy Ghost did not minister any matter unto Christ from his own substance; but did only as it were, take the mass and lump of man’s nature from the body of the virgin Mary, and without ordinary generation made it the body of Christ…  The second point in the conception is the sanctifying of that mass or lump which was to be the manhood of Christ. “ – p. 158

“The common consent of divines is, that, albeit all the parts of the manhood and the Godhead of Christ be united at one instant: yet in respect of order He unites unto Himself first and immediately the soul, and by the soul the body.” – p. 162

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1600’s

Polanus, Amandus

p. 71 of ‘On the Evangel’, ‘Of the Natures in the Person of Christ’ & ‘His State’, ff.  of The Divisions of Theology Framed according to a Natural Orderly Method (d. 1610; Basil, 1590; Geneva, 1623)

“The conception of Christ by the Holy Spirit is the formation of the human nature of Christ out of the sanctified flesh and blood of the virgin Mary by the miraculous operation of the Holy Spirit, Mt. 1:18,20; Lk. 1:31,35.

The assumption of the human nature is that by which the Logos deemed it worthy to assume the formed and sanctified nature by the Holy Spirit through that economic grace, Heb. 2:16.”

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Johannes Wolleb

Compendium of Christian Theology  (1625), ch. 16, ‘The Person of Christ the God-Man’, section 2, propositions  in ed. John Beardslee, Reformed Dogmatics: J. Wollebius, G. Voetius & F. Turretin  (Oxford Univ. Press, 1965), pp. 89-90

“III. …the formation of the body, which was completed at once, and not over a period of time, like the bodies of other men; and in the breathing in of a rational soul.

Whereas in ordinary generation the time required for formation of the body is forty days, the body of Christ was absolutely completed in a moment.  Otherwise Christ would have been conceived not a man but as an embryo.”

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Latin Articles

1500’s

Zanchi, Jerome – On the Incarnation of the Son of God, in Two Books, in which the Whole of this Mystery is Solidly Explained…  (Heidelberg, Harnisch, 1593)

Question 7, ‘Of the Order in which the Son of God Assumed & United to Himself our Nature’, pp. 181-88

Question 8, ‘On the Perfection of the Ensouled [Animati] Body’, pp. 188-94.  Zanchi approvingly gives a chapter excerpt from Aquinas on pp. 191-94, whose view he takes and exposits.

Kimedoncius, Jacob – Theses on the Person of Christ  (Heidelberg, 1595)  46 theses

Thesis 18 says that when the Son of God assumed flesh in the womb of the Virgin, it was true humanity, and his substance was formed, by the operation of the Holy Spirit.

Thesis 30 says that Christ was a man from the moment of conception.

Polanus, Amandus – A System of Theology, vol. 2  (Hanau, 1609; 1615), bk. 6, ch. 14, ‘On the Conception of Christ’

col. 2355, first paragraph

sections IV-V in col. 2362

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1600’s

Martin, Matthew –  p. 477, section 1  in ‘Notes to Ch. 9 & 12 on the Conception & Nativity of Christ’  in Summary Heads of Christian Doctrine…  (Heborne, 1603)

Martin (fl. 1603 ff.)

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Historical

On the Middle Ages

Edwards, Phil – ‘Why Babies in Medieval Paintings Look Like Ugly Old Men’  (2015)  at Vox


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Christ in the Womb Develops Naturally as Other Men, & the Ensoulment & Hypostatic Union Occurs at Around 40 Days, when the Body becomes Formed & Animated

Quotes

1600’s

Antonius Thysius

Synopsis of a Purer Theology…  (Brill, 2016), vol. 2, Disputation 25, ‘On the Incarnation of the Son of God’

section 15, p. 75

“…his soul was fashioned in his body in the normal manner, and joined and united with it.”

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section 22, p. 79

“…He was formed in a natural way, or according to the usual order of nature, in the womb of the virgin Mary, nurtured, nourished and carried for nine months.”

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Samuel Maresius

(IX, 31) as quoted in Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, ch. 17, ‘Person of Christ’, section 12, p. 425

“It is more probable that Christ’s body just like ours was formed in stages rather than that it was absolute in a moment.”

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Bartholomaus Keckermann

as quoted in Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, Person of Christ, section 12, p. 425

“(4) The formation of the foetus in the Virgin’s womb had its stages and processes, as is usual in the formation of other foetuses and which are usually completed in the space of 9 months.  It was right that Christ should be made like us in this too, namely in not being formed and born in a moment, but being completed in a matrix suited to the order and processes of nature, the operation of the H. Spirit thus accommodating its process of quickening.

(5) The union of the divine nature with the human began the moment the formation of the human nature was completed, so that it would be said to have been composed of human matter and form.”

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Voet, Gisbert

A Syllabus of Theological Problems…  (Utrecht, 1643), Tract 2, On the Person, Offices & States of Christ the Mediator, Title 1, on the Person of Christ the Mediator, Subtitle: On the Assumption & Union of the Human Nature.  trans. T. Fentiman

On the Mode of Assuming, as far as the Order

“Whether the Son of God assumed flesh by the soul mediating?  It is affirmed with a distinction.

Whether the Son of God assumed a soul by the spirit or mind mediating, that is, the rational part of the soul?  It is affirmed.

Whether the soul was assumed before the flesh.  It is denied.

Whether the flesh of Christ was assumed by the Word before the union of the soul?  It is denied.

Whether the whole nature was assumed simultaneously through mediating parts?  It is distinguished.

Whether the human nature was assumed by grace mediating?  It is distinguished.”

On the Conception & Gestation

“Whether it was a natural conception or a miraculous one?  The latter is affirmed.

Whether the flesh of Christ was conceived and formed in an instant?  It is denied.

Whether it was first conceived and formed and then united?  It is denied with a distinction.
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Whether the soul of Christ was infused in the first instantiating of the conception of the body, or rather after?  The latter is affirmed.

Whether and in what way the embryo, or that body not yet animated, was able to be said to be the body of Christ?  It is explained.

Whether the flesh of Christ had its beginning from Adam?  It is affirmed with a distinction.

Whether in the instantiating of the conception or of the union Christ was sactified by grace?  It is distinguished.

Whether in the same instantiating it had the use of free choice and reason?  It is denied.

Whether in the same instantiating, He was able to merit?  It is denied.

Whether from the first moment of conception Christ enjoyed the beatific vision?  It is denied.”

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Poole, Matthew

Annotations on Mt. ch. 1, v. 20

“‘for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.’  ‘That holy thing’, ( as Luke speaks), that human body which is in her womb, is created in her, and is of the Holy Ghost.”

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Leonard Rijssen

(XI, 27) as quoted in Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, ch. 17, Person of Christ, section 12, pp. 425-6

“(2) The formation of Christ’s body, to which belongs its organization, animation and the uniting of the two, body as well as soul, with the blood.

28: Query, Was Christ’s body formed in a moment or successively?

Answer: Three things occur here:  (1) the preparation of the material of which Christ’s body was formed; (2) the formation of the body out of the material duly prepared; (3) the completion of the same body brought gradually by its own increments to the proper stature.

As regards (1) and (3) all are agreed that they were accomplished by degrees (successive).  As regards (2) theologians disagree, some urging an instantaneous formation, others a successive, with the latter of whom we agree.  Because:

(1) the instantaneous and miraculous formation of Christ’s complete body and its union with the soul is a fiction unsupported by Scripture;

(2) in his assumption of human nature Christ is said to have been made like us, except for sin;

(3) if Christ’s body was completed in a moment, it could equally have been born the same moment and the Blessed Virgin need not have suffered the inconveniences of ordinary generation.”

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Francis Turretin

Institutes, vol. 2, 13th Topic, ‘Person & State of Christ’, 11th Question, ‘The Conception & Nativity of Christ…’, section 14, p. 343

“Nor is it of importance to inquire curiously at what time the soul was united to the body, the Logos (Logos) to the flesh.  It is enough for us to believe that the human nature from the time it began to be never existed apart from the Logos (Logo), but was assumed by and hypostatically united to him.  And if the soul could not be poured into the body unless already organized and completely formed (a point on which physicians are not agreed among themselves), it does not follow that the Logos (Logon) could not at once unite the flesh to himself, since his work could not be constrained either with the soul present or absent.

Nor is it more absurd for the body of Christ (not as yet animated) to be united to the Logos (Logo), then for the same (when lifeless in the sepulcher) to remain conjoined with the same (as theologians acknowledge was done in the death of Christ).”

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Daniel Williams

Man Made Righteous by Christ’s Obedience, being Two Sermons…  (London, 1694), A Reply to Mr. Mather’s Postscript, pp. 166-67

“4th Charge: The Son of God was united to an embryo, which is a piece of ignorant blasphemy.

Reply:  …But had I said it, where is the blasphemy, when the divine nature I hope was united to Christ’s dead body in the grave as all grant.  And very many say that the divine nature was united to the flesh before it was organized or animated, of whom Turretin’s Institutes of Theology, p. 372:

Etsi anima infundi non potuit in Corpus. nisi jam organizatum, etc.  Non sequiter…  non potuisse carnem statim sibi unire cum opus ejus non possit aut praesente aut absente, anima sibi coarctari.”

Pierson and multitudes are blasphemers with this bold man.  But, supposing that though the Virgin conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, and went her usual time, and that Christ was like other children, and the foetus had matter and nourishment ministred thereto by the Virgin, who conceived by the power of the Spirit, yet, that the divine Person was not united to the flesh before it was animated: But are not many physicians so ignorant as to judge the soul is united to the body unorganized; and if so, either the human nature of Christ had a separate subsistence from the divine Person, which is false, or the divine Person assumed it when the body was unorganized…”

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Johann H. Heidegger

(XVII, 36) as quoted in Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, Person of Christ, section 13, p. 427

“…assumption of the human nature into the person of the Son of God, whereby the Logos, the Son of God, in the very moment of formation and sanctification assumed the human nature void of a hypostatis of its own into the hypostatis of the Logos assuming and of the human nature assumed, outside of which it neither ever subsists nor can subsist.”

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Latin Articles

1600’s

Voet, Gisbert – 41. ‘Of Creation, pt. 10’, section 4, pp. 795-96  in Select Theological Disputations  (Utrecht, 1648-1667), vol. 1

Burman, Francis –  section 12, p. 40  in A Synopsis of Theology, and especially of the Economy of the Covenant of God, from the beginning of ages to the consummation of all things  (Utrecht, 1671), vol. 2, bk. 5, locus 33, ‘The Person of Christ & the Incarnation’

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1700’s

Heidegger, Johann H. – bk. 2, locus 17, ‘On the Person of Jesus Christ’, section 14, p. 9 & section 17, p. 10  in The Marrow of Christian Theology…  (Zurich, 1713)

Vitringa, Campegius – ‘On the Conception of Jesus Christ’, pp. 477-79  in The Doctrine of the Christian Religion, Summarily Described through Aphorisms (d. 1722), vol. 5, ‘Of the Twofold State of the Messiah’, ‘Of the Messiah’s State of Humiliation’

De Moor, Bernard – ch. 19, ‘Of the Person of Jesus Christ’, section 13, point III, pp. 720-22  in A Continuous Commentary on John Marck’s Compendium of Didactic and Elenctic Christian Theology  (Leiden, 1761-71), vol. 3


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Historical Theology

On the Post-Reformation: the Reformed

Lindholm, Stefan – pt. 2, ch. 3, ‘Virigin Birth & the Process of Hominization’  in Jerome Zanchi (1516-90) & the Analysis of Reformed Scholastic Christology  (V&R, 2016), pp. 59-77

Lindholm analyzes and compares the instant formation of Christ’s body in Zanchi with that of succession in Turretin.

Beeke, Joel & Todd Rester – Preface  in Peter van Mastricht, Theoretical Practical Theology  (RHB, 2022), vol. 4

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Related Pages

On the Human Soul

Abortion

Man: the Image of God

On Creationism & Traducianism