Date of Award:

4-21-2015

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)

Department:

History

Advisor/Chair:

Norman Jones

Abstract

This thesis compares how Christian thinkers John Chrysostom (349-407 CE) and Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560 CE) understood the theological concept of justification as found in Paul’s epistle to the Romans, and how their respective intellectual environments influenced their understandings of justification. Through detailed analysis of how Chrysostom and Melanchthon defined the theological concepts underlying their views of justification, it is demonstrated that, while their descriptions of justification often seem amicable, these apparent similarities are superficial. Their primary disagreement rests in their understandings of righteousness, which, for Chrysostom, was the outcome of a synergistic process wherein the faithful Christian gradually became, in actuality, more righteous by cooperating with the will and grace of God. Furthermore, Chrysostom viewed righteousness as a distinct stages in one’s struggle for salvation that followed one’s justification. Melanchthon rejected the notion that human beings themselves could become righteous, instead positing that faithful Christians are justified and simultaneously declared righteous by God based solely on their trust in the saving power of Christ’s atoning death.

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