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Summary Christianity claims that God, or more precisely the second of the three persons that constitute God, made himself to be a man for a few years and that Jesus Christ was this man. The texts in this category discuss whether and how this is possible.
Key works Davis 1992 is a collection of recent investigations of the incarnation. Swinburne 1994 contains an account of the incarnation.
Introductions Davis et al 2002
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Siblings:See also:History/traditions: Incarnation
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  1. Marilyn McCord Adams (2004). Cur Deus Homo?: Priorities Among the Reasons? Faith and Philosophy 21 (2):141-158.
    From some philosophical points of view, the Incarnation is difficult to motivate. From others, a host of reasons appear, raising the problem of how to choose among and/or prioritize them. In this paper I examine how different substantive commitments and starting points combine with contrasting understandings of method in philosophical theology, to generate different analyses and answers to Christianity’s crucial question: cur Deus homo?
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  2. Marilyn McCord Adams (1982). Relations, Inherence and Subsistence: Or, Was Ockham a Nestorian in Christology? Noûs 16 (1):62-75.
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  3. Diogenes Allen (1989). Incarnation In the Gospels and the Bhagavad Gita. Faith and Philosophy 6 (3):241-259.
    This article is a venture into a Christian Theology of Other Faiths. In contrast to History of Religions, which seeks to understand a religion from its own point of view, a Christian Theology of Other Faiths seeks to understand another religion from the perspective of the Christian revelation.Here I present Simone Weil’s claim that the Word of God is manifest in human form in other faiths, and that the Gospels are written from the point of view of a victim, and (...)
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  4. Pamela Sue Anderson (2006). Divinity, Incarnation and Intersubjectivity: On Ethical Formation and Spiritual Practice. Philosophy Compass 1 (3):335-356.
    In what sense, if any, does the dominant conception of the traditional theistic God as disembodied inform our embodied experiences? Feminist philosophers of religion have been either explicitly or implicitly preoccupied by a philosophical failure to address such questions concerning embodiment and its relationship to the divine. To redress this failure, certain feminist philosophers have sought to appropriate Luce Irigaray’s argument that embodied divinity depends upon women themselves becoming divine. This article assesses weaknesses in the Irigarayan position, notably the problematic (...)
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  5. Maria Rosa Antognazza (2001). The Defence of the Mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation: An Example of Leibniz's 'Other' Reason. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 9 (2):283 – 309.
    In this paper I will discuss certain aspects of Leibniz's theory and practice of 'soft reasoning' as exemplified by his defence of two central mysteries of the Christian revelation: the Trinity and the Incarnation. By theory and practice of 'soft' or 'broad' reasoning, I mean the development of rational strategies which can successefully be applied to the many areas of human understanding which escape strict demonstration, that is, the 'hard' or 'narrow' reasoning typical of mathematical argumentation. These strategies disclose an (...)
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  6. Allan Bäck (1998). Scotus on the Consistency of the Incarnation and the Trinity. Vivarium 36 (1):83-107.
    Medieval theologians discussed the logical structure of reduplicative propositions in the midst of their discussions of the Incarnation and the Trinity. Aquinas has the usual medieval analyzes of reduplicative propositions: the specificative and the strictly reduplicative. But neither analysis resolves successfully the problems of the consistency of the statements about God while avoiding making the Trinity or the Incarnation a merely accidental feature of Him. However, Scotus introduces another analysis: abstractive. I shall conclude that Scotus’s view of reduplication, one, if (...)
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  7. Allan Bäck (1982). Aquinas on the Incarnation. New Scholasticism 56 (2):127-145.
    IN THIS PAPER THE AUTHOR DEALS WITH AQUINAS’ SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM, WHETHER THE DOCTRINE OF THE INCARNATION IS CONSISTENT. HE FIRST SHOWS WHY THERE IS A PROBLEM OF CONSISTENCY WITH THIS DOCTRINE, GIVEN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN BELIEFS. HE THEN CLAIMS THAT AQUINAS HAS TWO SOLUTIONS, AND THAT BOTH FAIL: THE FIRST SOLUTION, AS SCOTUS ALSO OBSERVES, DOES NOT RESOLVE THE APPARENT INCONSISTENCY, AND THE OTHER DEPENDS ON MAKING HUMANITY ACCIDENTAL TO CHRIST, AND HENCE ON ABANDONING THE ORTHODOX POSITION.
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  8. Tim Bayne (2003). Inclusion and Incarnation: A Reply to Sturch. Religious Studies 39 (1):107-109.
    I make three points in response to Richard Sturch's comments on my paper: I defend my interpretation of the Morris–Swinburne (M–S) account of the Incarnation; I argue that the M–S model appears to undercut the view that the unity of consciousness can be explained in terms of the self; and third, I argue that M–S model seems to entail that God has false beliefs.
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  9. Timothy J. Bayne (2001). The Inclusion Model of the Incarnation: Problems and Prospects. Religious Studies 37 (2):125-141.
    Thomas Morris and Richard Swinburne have recently defended what they call the ‘two-minds’ model of the Incarnation. This model, which I refer to as the ‘inclusion model’ or ‘inclusionism’, claims that Christ had two consciousnesses, a human and a divine consciousness, with the former consciousness contained within the latter one. I begin by exploring the motivation for, and structure of, inclusionism. I then develop a variety of objections to it: some philosophical, others theological in nature. Finally, I sketch a variant (...)
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  10. Graham Brown (1981). Identity Statements and the Incarnation. Heythrop Journal 22 (3):261–277.
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  11. Gary Chartier (2008). The Incarnation and the Problem of Evil. Heythrop Journal 49 (1):110–127.
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  12. Richard Cross (2011). Disability, Impairment, and Some Medieval Accounts of the Incarnation: Suggestions for a Theology of Personhood. Modern Theology 27 (4):639 - 658.
    Drawing on insights from the medieval theologians Duns Scotus and Hervaeus Natalis, I argue that medieval views of the Incarnation require that there is a sense in which the divine person depends on his human nature for his human personhood, and thus that the paradigmatic pattern of human personhood is in some way dependent existence. I relate this to a modern distinction between impairment and disability to show that impairment -- understood as dependence -- is normative for human personhood. I (...)
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  13. Richard Cross (2003). Incarnation, Omnipresence, and Action at a Distance. Neue Zeitschrift Für Systematische Theologie Und Religionsphilosophie 45 (3):293-312.
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  14. Richard Cross (1999). Incarnation, Indwelling, and the Vision of God: Henry of Ghent and Some Franciscans. Franciscan Studies 57 (1):79 - 130.
    According to Henry of Ghent (d. 1293), it is impossible for the second person of the Trinity to assume into unity of person an irrational nature (e.g., a stone nature), or to assume a rational nature that does not enjoy the beatific vision. He argues that the assumption of a nature to a divine person entails both that the nature has the sort of powers that could exercise supernatural activities and that these powers are exercised. Henry’s Franciscan opponents argue against (...)
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  15. Richard Cross (1996). Aquinas on Nature, Hypostasis, and the Metaphysics of the Incarnation. The Thomist 60 (2):171 - 202.
    Aquinas distinguishes four types of part included in a hypostasis (’suppositum’): (1) kind-nature; (2) individuating feature(s); (3) accidents; (4) concrete parts. (1) - (3) in some sense contribute ’esse’ to the ’suppositum’. Usually Aquinas holds that Christ’s human nature does not contribute ’esse’ to its divine ’suppositum’, since it is analogous to a concrete part of its ’suppositum’. This effectively commits Aquinas to the Monophysite heresy. In ’De Unione’ Aquinas argues instead that Christ’s human nature contributes ’secondary ’esse‘ to its (...)
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  16. Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall & Gerald O'Collins (eds.) (2002). The Incarnation. Oxford Up.
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  17. Howard M. Ducharme (1991). The Vatican's Dilemma: On the Morality of Ivf and the Incarnation. Bioethics 5 (1):57–66.
    The Vatican’s position on in vitro fertilization (IVG), found in the ’Instruction on Bioethics’ (1987), is that all IVF is immoral, for it violates the normative procreative act of married spouses. The dilemma created is, if all instances of IVF are immoral, then God’s act in the Incarnation (granting the traditional doctrine) must also have been immoral. Conversely, if God’s act in the Incarnation was not immoral, then at least some cases of human IVF are not immoral either. A resolution (...)
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  18. Michael Durrant (1993). Transcendence, Instantiation and Incarnation: An Exploration. Religious Studies 29 (3):337 - 352.
    This paper is exploratory. It raises the questions: 1) How is it possible that that which is of its "nature" transcendent should become immanent or incarnate?; 2) How is it possible for one and the same individual to be both "fully" God and "fully" man? As concerns 1) an answer is offered by appeal to Geach’s account of Aquinas’s doctrine of "Form"; as concerns 2) a sketch answer is supplied on the basis of 1) It is held that a paradox (...)
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  19. Michael Durrant (1988). The Logic of God Incarnate: Two Recent Metaphysical Principles Examined. Religious Studies 24 (2):121 - 127.
    THE PURPOSE OF THE PAPER IS TO CRITICALLY EXAMINE TWO METAPHYSICAL PRINCIPLES ADVOCATED BY PROFESSOR MORRIS IN HIS BOOK "THE LOGIC OF GOD INCARNATE", NAMELY (I) THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN "COMMON" HUMAN PROPERTIES AND "ESSENTIAL" HUMAN PROPERTIES; (II) THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN BEING "MERELY" X AND "FULLY" X. THE FIRST DISTINCTION IS BOTH DEFENDED AND EXPANDED ON; THE SECOND IS REJECTED ON THE GROUNDS THAT IT INVOKES AN IMPOSSIBLE COMPARISON; A COMPARISON BETWEEN A QUANTITATIVE ASSESSMENT ON THE ONE HAND AND THE QUALITATIVE (...)
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  20. T. Fitzgerald (1991). Krishnamurti and the Myth of God Incarnate. Asian Philosophy 1 (2):109 – 126.
    The argument is offered as a challenge to ecumenical theologians such as John Hick. A consideration of the life and teaching of Krishnamurti gives rise to the following argument: (1) that the statement "K spoke from Unconditioned Insight" is a reasonable formulaic expression of K’s authority in soteriological matters; (2) that the statement is as intelligible as comparable statements about Jesus or Buddha; (3) that it is more reasonable to believe the statement about K; (4) that believing the truth of (...)
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  21. Thomas P. Flint (2004). Risky Business: Open Theism and the Incarnation. Philosophia Christi 6 (2):213 - 233.
    The debate within the Christian academic community over open theism, or "openism", has been quite intense of late. Progress in this debate depends upon our examining how openism and its rivals fare when applied to particular Christian doctrines, beliefs, and practices. I hope to further the debate by raising a question regarding the Incarnation: ’Was Jesus Christ free in a morally significant way?’ After arguing that the two principal alternatives to openism (Thomism and Molinism) can offer internally plausible answers to (...)
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  22. Thomas P. Flint (2001). The Possibilities of Incarnation: Some Radical Molinist Suggestions. Religious Studies 37 (3):307-320.
    The traditional doctrine of the Incarnation maintains that God became man. But was it necessary that God become the particular man He in fact became? Could some man or woman other than the man born in Bethlehem roughly two thousand years ago have been assumed by the Son to effect our salvation? This essay addresses such questions from the perspective of one embracing Molina's picture of divine providence. After showing how Molina thought his theory of middle knowledge helps alleviate a (...)
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  23. Thomas P. Flint (2001). 'A Death He Freely Accepted': Molinist Reflections on the Incarnation. Faith and Philosophy 18 (1):3-20.
    Traditional Christians face a puzzle concerning the freedom and perfection of Christ. Jesus the man, it seems, must have possessed significant freedom forhim to serve as a moral example for us and for his death to have been truly meritorious. Yet Jesus the Son of God must be incapable of sinning if he is trulydivine. So if Jesus is both human and divine, one of these two attributes - significant freedom or moral perfection - apparently needs to be surrendered. In (...)
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  24. Lewis S. Ford (1972). The Incarnation as a Contingent Reality: A Reply to Dr. Pailin. Religious Studies 8 (2):169 - 173.
    IN "THE INCARNATION AS A CONTINUING REALITY," RELIGIOUS STUDIES 6,303-27 (DECEMBER 1970), DAVID PAILIN CLAIMS THAT THE INCARNATION REVEALS THE NECESSARY, EMPIRICALLY NON-FALSIFIABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF GOD’S "ACTIVE ACTUALITY". GOD’S "PASSIVE ACTUALITY," THE WAY HE EXPERIENCES THE WORLD, IS METAPHYSICALLY KNOWN, BUT NOT HIS "ACTIVE ACTUALITY," THE WAY IN WHICH HE RESPONDS TO THE WORLD, FOR HE COULD HAVE RESPONDED OTHERWISE. NEVERTHELESS GOD’S CONCRETE RESPONSE IS EMPIRICALLY NON-FALSIFIABLE, FOR EVERYTHING THAT CAN POSSIBLY HAPPEN IN THE ACTUAL WORLD WILL REFLECT THAT RESPONSE. (...)
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  25. Peter Forrest (2000). The Incarnation: A Philosophical Case for Kenosis. Religious Studies 36 (2):127-140.
    As a preliminary, I shall clarify the kenotic position by arguing that a position which is often called kenotic is actually a quasi-kenotic version of the classical account, according to which Jesus had normal divine powers but chose not to exercise them. After this preliminary, I discuss three problems with the strict kenotic account. The first is that kenosis conflicts with the standard list of attributes considered essential to God. The second problem is posed by the Exaltation, namely the resumption (...)
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  26. Alfred Freddoso (1986). Human Nature, Potency and the Incarnation. Faith and Philosophy 3 (1):27-53.
    According to the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, the Son of God is truly but only contingently a human being. But is it also the case that Christ’s individual human nature is only contingently united to a divine person? The affirmative answer to this question, explicitly espoused by Duns Scotus and William of Ockham, turns out to be philosophically untenable, while the negative answer, which is arguably implicit in St. Thomas Aquinas, explication of the Incarnation, has some surprising and significant (...)
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  27. Alfred Freddoso (1983). Logic, Ontology and Ockham’s Christology. New Scholasticism 57 (3):293-330.
    Let me begin somewhat perversely by making clear what I do not intend to do in this paper. I do not propose to offer a general defense of Ockham's resolution of the metaphysical perplexities engendered by the dogma of the Incarnation. In fact, I have argued elsewhere that his account of the hypostatic union is seriously deficient. 1..
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  28. Alfred J. Freddoso (1986). Human Nature, Potency and the Incarnation. Faith and Philosophy 3 (1):27-53.
    According to the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation, the Son of God is truly but only contingently a human being. But is it also the case that Christ’s individual human nature is only contingently united to a divine person? The affirmative answer to this question, explicitly espoused by Duns Scotus and William of Ockham, turns out to be philosophically untenable, while the negative answer, which is arguably implicit in St. Thomas Aquinas, explication of the Incarnation, has some surprising and significant (...)
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  29. Matthew Frise (2013). The Mad, Bad, or God Argument Explained. Religious Studies 49 (4):581-589.
    According to Stephen Davis's Mad, Bad, or God (MBG) argument, Jesus must be divine since all other leading explanations of his alleged claim to be divine can be ruled out. I criticize Davis's argument and then sketch an ‘inference to best explanation’ MBG argument. I argue that proponents and critics of MBG arguments should focus on mine since it avoids common pitfalls at no cost and it best respects (for better or worse) a massive but too easily ignored body of (...)
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  30. Michael Gorman (2011). Incarnation. In Brian Davies & Eleonore Stump (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas. Oxford University Press.
    According to Christian belief, Jesus Christ is a divine person who became “incarnate,” i.e., who became human. A key event in the second act of the drama of creation and redemption, the incarnation could not have failed to interest Aquinas, and he discusses it in a number of places. A proper understanding of what he thought about it is thus part of any complete understanding of his work. It is, furthermore, a window into his ideas on a variety of other (...)
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  31. Michael Gorman (2011). Questions Concerning the Existences of Christ. In Friedman Emery (ed.), Philosophy and Theology in the Long Middle Ages: A Tribute to Stephen F. Brown. Brill.
    According to Christian doctrine as formulated by the Council of Chalcedon (451), Christ is one person (one supposit, one hypostasis) existing in two natures (two essences), human and divine. The human and divine natures are not merged into a third nature, nor are they separated from one another in such a way that the divine nature goes with one person, namely, the Word of God, and the human nature with another person, namely, Jesus of Nazareth. The two natures belong to (...)
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  32. Michael Gorman (2009). On a Thomistic Worry About Scotus's Doctrine of the Esse Christi. Antonianum 84:719-733.
    According to authoritative Christian teaching, Jesus Christ is a single person existing in two natures, divinity and humanity. In attempting to understand this claim, the high-scholastic theologians often asked whether there was more than one existence in Christ. John Duns Scotus answers the question with a clear and strongly-formulated yes, and Thomists have sometimes suspected that his answer leads in a heretical direction. But before we can ask whether Scotus‘s answer is acceptable or not, we have to come to a (...)
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  33. Michael Gorman (2000). Personal Unity and the Problem of Christ's Knowledge. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 74:175-186.
    According to the orthodox Christian belief expressed most famously at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, Jesus Christ is one person who is both divine and human. Not surprisingly, many have wondered at this, for it seems impossible for one person to have both divine and human characteristics. There are different versions of this difficulty, which correspond to different human and divine characteristics. In this article, I will defend traditional Christology against an argument that bases itself on one particular difficulty. (...)
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  34. Michael Gorman (2000). Uses of the Person-Nature Distinction in Thomas's Christology. Recherches de Théologie Et Philosophie Médiévales 67 (1):58-79.
    Thomas Aquinas considers the distinction between nature and person indispensable for Christology. Failure to appreciate this distinction is, he thinks, the root of Christological heresy. Surprisingly, however, Thomas gives us little help in understanding how the distinction is to be used. Nor have his commentators discussed the matter adequately. As I shall try to show, Thomas has a variety of uses for this distinction, some more helpful than others. I will first explain the person-nature distinction as Thomas conceives it, and (...)
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  35. Michael Gorman (2000). Christ as Composite According to Aquinas. Traditio 55:143-157.
    In this paper I explain Thomas Aquinas's view that Christ is a composite person, and then I explain the role of Christ's compositeness in Thomas‘s solutions to a range of Christological problems. On the topics I will be discussing, Thomas‘s views did not change significantly over the course of his career; for the sake of simplicity, then, I will focus on texts from the Summa theologiae, citing parallels in the notes.
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  36. John Haldane (1991). Incarnational Anthropology. In David Cockburn (ed.), Human Beings. Cambridge University Press. 191 - 211.
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  37. John Haldane (1991). Incarnational Anthropology. In David Cockburn (ed.), Human Beings. Cambridge Univ Pr. 191-211.
    This essay is concerned with the drift of recent analytical philosophy of mind away from the view of persons as unified subjects of thought and action--human beings as rational animals--towards various forms of dualism (including materialist dualism) and eliminativism. It raises the question what view of persons would be able to accommodate (even if only as a hypothesis) the idea that human beings are images of God and that God took on a human nature in the person of Jesus Christ? (...)
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  38. John Hick (1996). The Metaphor of God Incarnate. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 40 (3):180 - 182.
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  39. John Hick (1989). The Logic of God Incarnate. Religious Studies 25 (4):409 - 423.
    This is a critique of Thomas Morris’s proposal in The Logic of God Incarnate (1986) that the idea of divine incarnation can be understood on the model of two minds, a human mind enclosed within a divine mind, with the latter having full cognitive access to the former but the former only occasional access to the latter. The critique, which suggests the failure of Morris’s attempt to render a Chalcedonian-type dogma intelligible, claims that cognitive access is not sufficient to constitute (...)
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  40. Marc A. Hight (2010). The Son More Visible: Immaterialism and the Incarnation. Modern Theology 26 (1):120 - 148.
    In this article we argue that an immaterialist ontology -- a metaphysic that denies the existence of material substance -- is more consonant with Christian dogma than any ontology that includes the existence of material substance. We use the philosophy of the famous eighteenth-century Irish immaterialist George Berkeley as a guide while engaging one particularly difficult Christian mystery: the doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ. The goal is to make plausible the claim that, from the analysis of this one example, (...)
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  41. Daniel P. Horan (2011). How Original Was Scotus on the Incarnation? Reconsidering the History of the Absolute Predestination of Christ in Light of Robert Grosseteste. Heythrop Journal 52 (3):374 - 391.
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  42. Daniel Howard-Snyder (2004). Was Jesus Mad, Bad, or God? . . . Or Merely Mistaken? Faith and Philosophy 21 (4):456-479.
    Reprinted in Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology, Volume 1: Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement, Oxford 2009, ed. Michael Rea. A popular argument for the divinity of Jesus goes like this. Jesus claimed to be divine, but if his claim was false, then either he was insane (mad) or lying (bad), both of which are very unlikely; so, he was divine. I present two objections to this argument. The first, the dwindling probabilities objection, contends that even if we make generous probability assignments (...)
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  43. G. E. Hughes (1962). Mr. Martin on the Incarnation. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 40 (2):208 – 211.
    THE AUTHOR, THOUGH CRITICAL OF MARTIN’S BOOK, "RELIGIOUS BELIEF", DEFENDS MARTIN FROM THE CRITICISMS OF ROWE AND PLANTINGA BECAUSE THE LATTER HAVE NOT "MADE THEIR CASE" IN CLAIMING THERE IS A CONTRADICTION INVOLVED IN THE ARGUMENT THAT CHRIST AND GOD ARE THE SAME. (STAFF).
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  44. Mark L. Johnson (1995). Incarnate Mind. Minds and Machines 5 (4):533-45.
    We are beings of the flesh. Our sensorimotor motor experience is the basis for the structure of our higher cognitive functions of conceptual cognition and reasoning. Consequently, our subjectivity is intimately tied up with the nature of our embodied experience. This runs directly counter to views of self-identity dominant in contemporary cognitive science. I give an account of how we ought to understand ourselves as incarnates, and how this would change our view of meaning, knowledge, reason, and subjectivity.
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  45. Patricia Altenbernd Johnson (1993). Gadamer. Faith and Philosophy 10 (4):539-552.
    This paper examines the importance of the concept of Incarnation for the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer. The first section traces the role of the Incarnation in his work on the center or medium of language. The second part examines the threefold description of human finitude that Gadamer develops and shows the continuing importance of the concept of Incarnation. The third part discusses the implementation of this understanding of human finitude for the experience of divine infinitude. The final section outlines implications (...)
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  46. Mark D. Jordan (1980). Words and Word. Augustinian Studies 11:177-196.
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  47. Charles J. Kelly (1994). The God of Classical Theism and the Doctrine of the Incarnation. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 35 (1):1 - 20.
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  48. Gordon Knight (1998). The Necessity of God Incarnate. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 43 (1):1-16.
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  49. Sonia Kruks (1987). Marcel and Merleau-Ponty: Incarnation, Situation and the Problem of History. [REVIEW] Human Studies 10 (2):225 - 245.
    THIS PAPER COMPARES THE WORK OF MERLEAU-PONTY WITH THAT OF MARCEL, TO WHOM HE IS SAID TO OWE A MAJOR INTELLECTUAL DEBT. ALTHOUGH THERE ARE APPARENT SIMILARITIES TO BE FOUND IN THEIR WORK, ESPECIALLY IN THEIR CONCEPTS OF "INCARNATION" AND "SITUATION," THERE ARE STRIKING DIVERGENCES IN THEIR VIEWS ABOUT "HISTORY." A STUDY OF THESE POINTS THE WAY TO AN EXPLORATION OF YET MORE FUNDAMENTAL DISAGREEMENTS BETWEEN THEIR SUPERFICIALLY SIMILAR "PHILOSOPHIES OF EXISTENCE.".
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  50. Robin le Poidevin (2011). The Incarnation: Divine Embodiment and the Divided Mind. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 68 (68):269-285.
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