The first Christian ecumenical council, the Council of Nicaea

  please read just the first few pages (pp. 175-181) of Portier’s “Classical Christology” chapter. You will be reading the section that introduces the first Christian ecumenical council, the Council of Nicaea. It is from this council that we get the creed that Rowan Williams kept referring to in the chapter we read this week.

As you may have noticed from class so far, religious communities often struggle to understand their central texts and beliefs. While Christians consider the life of Jesus and their scriptures to be authoritative and inspired, their application to everyday life often brings about difficult and complicated questions. Christianity’s struggles to more fully understand who Jesus was are often called the “Christological controversies.” This reading gets you into some of the complexities of those controversies.


1. Write a paragraph that explains why it is important for Christians that the New Testament contains passages that refer to Jesus’ humanity and to Jesus’ divinity. In other words, the Bible in some places says that Jesus is a human and in other places says that Jesus is divine. Why is this important for Christians? (The councils that Prof. Martin will talk to you about on Thursday are Christianity’s attempts in history to try to make more sense of these passages.)

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