Chapter

Aquinas on Christ's Priesthood

Gerald O'Collins and Michael Keenan Jones

in Jesus Our Priest

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199576456
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191723032 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199576456.003.0006
Aquinas on Christ's Priesthood

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In his version of Christ's redeeming priesthood, Aquinas adopted and modified Anselm's theory of redemption as ‘satisfaction’. Unlike Anselm, Aquinas saw Christ's function as mediator between God and human beings being exercised as priest, prophet, and king. The meritorious sacrifice of Christ was accepted by God as being inspired by love. Like Origen, Chrysostom, Luther, and Calvin, Aquinas wrote a work on the Letter to the Hebrews; in that commentary he remarked: ‘only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers’ (8. 4). In his Summa Theologiae Aquinas dedicates one ‘question’ of six ‘articles’ to ‘the principal act of priestly office’, the sacrifice in which Christ was both priest and victim and efficaciously expiated human sin. Aquinas's account of Christ's priesthood is filled out by what he wrote about Christ as mediator (one question of two articles), about the sacraments, and about the ascension, as well as in the liturgical texts that he composed for the Feast of Corpus Christi (instituted in 1264). For Aquinas the sacramental life of believers derives from Christ's priesthood and passion. In the celebration of the Eucharist and administration of the other sacraments, Christ the priest is always the principal, albeit invisible, agent.

Keywords: Anselm; Eucharist; mediator; passion; priesthood; sacraments; sacrifice; satisfaction

Chapter.  9206 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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