Aquinas on the Death of Christ: A New Argument for Corruptionism

American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 90 (1):77-99 (2016)
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Abstract

Contemporary interpreters have entered a new debate over Aquinas’s view on the status of human beings or persons between death and resurrection. Everyone agrees that, for Aquinas, separated souls exist in the interim. The disagreement concerns what happens to human beings—Peter, Paul, and so on. According to corruptionists, Aquinas thought human beings cease to exist at death and only begin to exist again at the resurrection. According to survivalists, however, Aquinas thought human beings continue to exist in the interim, constituted by their separated souls alone. In this paper I offer a new argument in favor of corruptionism based upon Aquinas’s repeated discussions of a central though so far neglected topic: the death of Christ. To the question, “Was Christ a human being during the three days of his death?” Aquinas always answered, “No.” Examining his reasons proves that corruptionism, and not survivalism, is the right interpretation of Aquinas.

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Turner C. Nevitt
University of San Diego

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