Introduction to Christology 101 — 3 Things You Should Read to Know Christ Better

No real study of Christology can afford to be without three basic texts.

Quentin Matsys, “Christ,” ca. 1529
Quentin Matsys, “Christ,” ca. 1529 (photo: Public Domain)

As we are progressing along in our guided self-study of Christology, which is the systematic study of the person and natures of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a few readers have asked me for some book suggestions to begin further reading in Christology. It is my hope with this list to give a short, but useful, list of some different texts.

I decided to list only fairly recent books in the field of Christology that I have found extremely helpful and interesting in my own study and personal growth. Some of these texts are written on a rather moderate level and a reader beginning his or her study of Christology might find them to be easy in which to enter; others are more complex and perhaps should be read later in one’s Christological study.

No real study of Christology can afford to be without three basic texts.

The first is a good Catholic study Bible. The edition that I have used for both study and prayer for many years is the Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition. Ignatius Press publishes a beautiful edition of the RSVCE and it is one that I have had and used since I was a college student many years ago. Saint Benedict Press also publishes a very nicely designed version of the Holy Bible with this faithful, Catholic translation of the Sacred Scriptures.

The second is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I would recommend that one should have the second edition of the Catechism, published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana in 2019, which incorporates the 2018 revision of no. 2267 promulgated by Pope Francis. Pope Saint John Paul II in his apostolic constitution Fidei Depositum described the Catechism as “a sure norm for teaching the faith,” and indeed it is. I could not imagine studying the Catholic faith today without the Catechism as a central guide. It really was one of the greatest gifts of one of our Church’s greatest popes, St. John Paul.

The third is a copy of the texts of the ecumenical councils. As far as I am concerned, Jesuit Father Norman Tanner’s two-volume collection entitled the Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils published in 1990 by Georgetown University Press is still the best edition, but it is rather expensive for most individual students.

Another very helpful edition that has a compendium of magisterial texts (up to Benedict XVI in 2012) would be Enchiridion Symbolorum: A Compendium of Creeds, Definitions, and Declarations of the Catholic Church, published by Ignatius Press. Finally, another rather helpful text might be a small book, translated and edited by Richard A. Norris, Jr., entitled The Christological Controversy (1980). It is part of a series called Sources of Early Christian Thought and contains some wonderful primary texts from the early Church from such great Fathers like St. Justin the Martyr, St. Irenaeus of Lyons,and St. Athanasius of Alexandria.

In my next entry, I will give the first five texts which I believe will be helpful to our readers in the study of Christology. Some of the authors I will include in the next list will be Father Thomas Joseph White, Father Thomas G. Weinandy, Bishop Robert E. Barron, Father Edward T. Oakes, and the author of my favorite textbook on Christology, Father Roch A. Kereszty. I am excited to present these great authors to you in my next article!

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, “The Annunciation,” ca. 1655

Why Did He Come? Why Did God Become Man?

“God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness, freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. … To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior.” (CCC 1)