Bookmark and Share



























Open the online Arabic language course






Christianity / Orientations / Heresy /
Docetism


In Christianity, a sectarian doctrine (see heresy) claiming that Jesus Christ had appeared as a phantom form, that he had not had a real or natural body, and that his crucifixion had only been an illusion. It emerged in the 2nd century, lasting until unknown times, would be rekindled in the 12th century.
The ideology has derived its name from Greek dokeo, "to seem".
Docetism is closely linked to the Gnostic ideas of the Middle East in its time, among them Valentianism. It explains that matter represents evil, spirit the good. Therefore, Jesus physical body was merely an illusion for humans witnessing it. The same applies to his crucifixion, Jesus was incorporeal, a pure spirit and could not physically die. Consequently, Christ's resurrection and ascension into heaven were denied.
The concept of a Jesus without a natural body appears well-known in the first stages of Jesus-Judaism, mentioned in the letters of John (1 John 4:13; 2 John 7).
One of the apocryphal gospels, the one of Peter fits the basic concepts of Docetism.
One variation of Docetism emphasized that Christ was born without any participation of matter. Another, and less rigid, form of Docetism stated that Christ was of an ethereal and heavenly body but disagreed with mainstream Docetism on whether it had shared the real actions and sufferings of Christ.
Docetism is among the earliest Christian sectarian doctrines. It was severely attacked by leading Christian authorities, like Bishop Ignatius of Antioch in the 2nd century. Docetism was rejected by the early Christian councils and mainstream Christianity, but it only slowly died out during the 1st millennium CE. Still, alter movements like the Cathartic would rekindle the concepts of Docetism in 12th century Europe.
Islam's understanding of Jesus has similarities to Docetism, and may even have taken its understanding from its theology. In the Koran 4:156 it is stated that: "...but they did not kill him, and they did not crucify him, but a similitude was made for them..."




By Tore Kjeilen