De Christi Anima: the knowledge and suffering of Christ’s soul in Robert Bellarmine and Francis Turretin

Johnston, Matthew Brooks (2023) De Christi Anima: the knowledge and suffering of Christ’s soul in Robert Bellarmine and Francis Turretin. MTh(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2023JohnstonMTh(R).pdf] PDF
Download (1MB)


The incarnation of the Word is the central Christian mystery—a mystery that cannot be properly understood without a grasp of the nature of Christ’s human soul. A soulless Christ is unable to save those who are embodied souls. However, how is the human soul of the Son of God different from that of any other man? How does it learn? Can it really suffer? These questions about the psychology of the God-man were foundational to the development of Christology in the Ancient church. They later resurfaced in the early modern period as Reformed theologians like John Calvin spoke of Christ’s ignorance and inner torment in a way that Roman Catholics deemed heretical. Although often overlooked, the doctrine of the Christ’s soul is an important exemplar of the methodological and systemic differences between Roman Catholic Theology and Reformed Theology.

This thesis expounds and offers a comparative analysis of the doctrine of the knowledge and suffering of Christ’s soul in Bellarmine and Turretin. Chapter one outlines their individual importance and the legitimacy of points of contact between their work. Chapter two is a biographical introduction and shows that both Bellarmine and Turretin were eager to further entrench their theological systems in contrast to those of their opponents. Chapter three deals with the knowledge of Christ’s soul. It demonstrates that Bellarmine, emphasizing Christ’s infused knowledge, taught that he already knew everything he learned and that Turretin, emphasizing Christ’s acquired knowledge, taught that he actually learned things of which he was previously ignorant. Chapter four treats the suffering of Christ’s soul. Bellarmine rejects Calvin’s doctrine of the descensus as attributing desperation to Christ’s soul and follows Aquinas in segregating his suffering to the lower part of his soul. Turretin makes use of a different scholastic distinction (the affectio commodi and the affectio iustitiae) to protect Christ from disordered passions so that he can emphasize the reality of what Christ felt in the entirety of his soul, most importantly a sense of divine wrath. Finally, chapter five shows some of the ways that the discrepancies in the doctrine of Christ’s soul in Bellarmine and Turretin are the product of more foundational differences in their Christology as well as their soteriology and ecclesiology. Might the doctrine of Christ’s soul be considered a secondary material cause of the Reformation?

Item Type: Thesis (MTh(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Spurlock, Professor Scott and Elliott, Mark
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83733
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2023 08:36
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2023 09:27
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83733

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year