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Jewish Philosophical Polemics Against Christianity in the Middle Ages: With a New Introduction$
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Daniel J. Lasker

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781904113515

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781904113515.001.0001

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(p.105) Chapter Five Incarnation
Jewish Philosophical Polemics Against Christianity in the Middle Ages: With a New Introduction

Daniel J. Lasker

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines Jewish philosophical arguments against the Christian doctrine of incarnation. Two main features were apparent in the doctrine that Jesus was both God and man: the first was the soteriological and the second was the Christological. Discussion of soteriology attempted to explain “why God became man.” Christology was intended to answer the question of “how God became man.” The question of why God became man was answered by the doctrine of original sin and its redemption. The Jewish polemicists employed a wide range of contentions which stressed that this doctrine was not befitting God; they argued that the Christian notion of original sin is inconsistent with God's justice. The Christians argued from a totally different perspective: that God became man was not unbefitting divinity; rather, it was a sign of God's great love for mankind. However, it is concerning the second aspect of incarnation, namely, Christology, that one discerns arguments of a philosophical nature. Three commonly held philosophical suppositions were seen as precluding God's taking on flesh. These were (l) God's incorporeality, (2) His immutability, and (3) His simple unity. In addition, the Jewish polemicists argued that (4) the assumption of a union of Divinity and humanity had certain impossible consequences.

Keywords:   Jewish philosophical arguments, incarnation, Jesus, soteriology, Christology, original sin, redemption, divinity, God, Jewish polemicists

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