"Kenosis" is a Greek word for emptiness, which is used as a theological term. The ancient Greek word κένωσις "kénōsis" means an "emptying", from κενός "kenós" "empty". The word is mainly used, however, in a Christian theological context, for example Philippians 2:7, "Jesus made himself nothing (ἐκένωσε "ekénōse") ..." (NIV) or "...he emptied himself..." (NRSV), using the verb form κενόω "kenóō" "to empty". See also [ Strong's G2758] .

Kenosis in Christology

In Christian theology, "Kenosis" is the concept of the 'self-emptying' of one's own will and becoming entirely receptive to God and his perfect will. It is used both as an explanation of the Incarnation, and an indication of the nature of God's activity and condescension. Mystical theologian John of the Cross' work "Dark Night of the Soul" is a particularly lucid explanation of God's process of transforming the believer into the icon or "likeness of Christ".

An apparent dilemma arises when Christian theology posits a God outside of time and space, who enters into time and space to become human (Incarnate). The doctrine of Kenosis attempts to explain what the Son of God chose to give up in terms of his divine attributes, in order to assume human nature. Since the incarnate Jesus is simultaneously fully human and fully divine, Kenosis holds that these changes were temporarily assumed by God in his incarnation, and that when Jesus ascended back into heaven following the resurrection, he fully reassumed all of his original attributes and divinity.

Specifically it refers to attributes of God that are thought to be incompatible with becoming fully human. For example, God's omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience as well as his aseity, eternity, infinity, impassibility and immutability. Theologians who support this doctrine often appeal to a reading of . Critics of Kenosis theology argue that the context of Philippians 2:5-8 is referring to Jesus voluntarily taking the form of a servant to conceal his divine glory (revealed temporarily in the Transfiguration), or to forsaking his place and position in heaven to dwell among men, as opposed to forsaking his divine attributes or nature (see syncatabasis).

Kenotic Christology focuses on certain passages in the Gospels where Jesus questions his being called good (), and evidence that he was not omniscient concerning the date of the Second Advent (, Matthew 24:36). It became a central issue in the Protestant debates of the sixteenth century, and was revived in the nineteenth century to reinterpret classical doctrines of the incarnation.

Eastern Orthodox Mysticism

The Orthodox Mystical Theology of the East emphasises following the example of Christ. Kenosis is only possible through humility and presupposes that one seeks union with God. The Poustinia tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church is one major expression of this search.

Kenosis is not only a Christological issue in Orthodox theology, it has moreover to do with Pneumatology, namely to do with the Holy Spirit. Kenosis, relative to the human nature, denotes the continual epiklesis and self-denial of one's own human will and desire. With regards to Christ, there is a kenosis of the Son of God, a condescension and self sacrifice for the redemption and salvation of all humanity. Humanity can also participate in God's saving work through theosis; becoming holy by grace. ["The oneness of Essence, the Equality of Divinity, and the Equality of Honor of God the Son with the God the Father." Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky pages 92-95]

Therefore, in Eastern Orthodoxy, theosis never concerns becoming like God in nature or essence, which is pantheism; instead, it concerns becoming united to God by grace, through his Energies. Since God in the Eastern traditions is panenthestic, Orthodox theology distinguishes between divine Essence and Energies. Kenosis therefore is a paradox and a mystery since "emptying oneself" in fact fills the person with divine grace and results in union with God. Kenosis in Orthodox theology is the transcending or detaching of oneself from the world or the passions, it is a component of dispassionation. Much of the earliest debates between the Arian and Orthodox Christians were over kenosis. The need for clarification about the human and divine nature of the Christ (see the hypostatic union) where fought over the meaning and example that Christ set the example of kenosis or ekkenosis. ["The oneness of Essence, the Equality of Divinity, and the Equality of Honor ofGod the Son with the God the Father." Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky pages 92-95]


Another perspective is the idea that God is self-emptying. He poured out himself to create the cosmos and the universe, and everything within it. Therefore, it is our duty to pour out ourselves. (This is similar to C.S. Lewis's statement in "Mere Christianity" that a painter pours his ideas out in his work, and yet remains quite a distinct being from his painting.) In so doing, we become "deified" like God. Another term for this process is "theosis."

The kenotic ethic

The kenotic ethic is the ethic of Jesus, considered as the ethic of sacrifice. The Phillipians passage urges believers to imitate Christ's self-emptying. In this interpretation, Paul was not primarily putting forth a theory about God in this passage, rather he was using God's humility exhibited in the incarnation event as a call for Christians to be similarly subservient to others.

In popular culture

* The French black metal band Deathspell Omega have a 2005 EP named "Kénôse", whose lyrics reference theological themes of emptiness and more.


ee also

*Communicatio idiomatum
*Chalcedonian Creed
*Charles Gore
*George Ellis
*Dark Night of the Soul
*John of the Cross
*Desert Fathers

External links

* [ Catholic Encyclopedia: Kenosis]
* [ George Ellis interview] - from NPR
* [] - anti-Kenosis essays
* [ St. John of the Cross - Collected Works]
* [ "Dark Night of the Soul" - St. John of the Cross]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kenosis — • A term derived from the discussion as to the real meaning of Phil. 2:6 Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Kenosis     Kenosis     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Kenosis — (κένωσις, griechisch: „Leerwerden“, „Entäußerung“) ist das Substantiv zu dem von Paulus im Brief an die Philipper gebrauchten Verb ἐκένωσεν (ekenosen), „er entäußerte sich“ (Phil. 2, 7). Über Jesus Christus ausgesagt, bedeutet der Begriff den… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • kenosis — (n.) from Gk. kenosis an emptying, from kenoein to empty, from PIE *ken empty. From Phil. ii:7. Related: Kenotic …   Etymology dictionary

  • kenosis — [kə nō′sis] n. [Gr kenōsis, an emptying < kenos, empty] Christian Theol. the voluntary self abasement of the second person of the Trinity in becoming human kenotic [kinät′ik] adj …   English World dictionary

  • kenosis — noun Etymology: Late Greek kenōsis, from Greek, action of emptying, from kenoun to purge, empty, from kenos empty Date: 1873 the relinquishment of divine attributes by Jesus Christ in becoming human • kenotic adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • kenosis — kenotic /ki not ik/, adj. /ki noh sis/, n. Theol. the doctrine that Christ relinquished His divine attributes so as to experience human suffering. [1835 45; < Gk kénosis an emptying (keno , var. s. of kenoûn to empty out, drain + sis SIS)] * * * …   Universalium

  • Kenosis — Ke|no|sis 〈f.; ; unz.; Theol.〉 = Kenose * * * Ke|no|sis [auch: kɛn...], die; [griech. kénōsis = Entleerung, zu: keneĩn = entleeren, zu: kenós = leer]: theologische Auffassung, dass Christus bei der Menschwerdung auf die Ausübung seiner göttlichen …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Kenosis — Ke|no|sis [auch kɛ...] die; <aus gr. kénōsis »Entleerung«> theologische Auffassung, dass Christus bei der Menschwerdung auf die Ausübung seiner göttlichen Eigenschaften verzichtet habe (Philipper 2,6 ff.) …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • kenosis — [kɪ nəʊsɪs] noun (in Christian theology) the full or partial renunciation of his divine nature by Christ in the Incarnation. Derivatives kenotic adjective Origin C19: from Gk kenōsis an emptying , from kenoein to empty , with biblical allusion… …   English new terms dictionary

  • kenosis — ke•no•sis [[t]kɪˈnoʊ sɪs[/t]] n. rel the doctrine that Christ relinquished His divine attributes so as to experience human suffering • Etymology: 1835–45; < Gk kénōsis an emptying, =kenō , var. s. of kenoûn to empty out, drain, der. of kenós… …   From formal English to slang

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”