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Durham University

Department of Theology and Religion


Publication details for Dr Rik Van Nieuwenhove

Van Nieuwenhove, Rik (2015). Late Medieval Atonement Theologies. In The Oxford Handbook of Christology. Murphy, Francesca Aran & Troy, Stefano Oxford: Oxford University Press. 250-264.

Author(s) from Durham


This chapter surveys the soteriology of some key late-mediaeval thinkers. It is claimed that Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas operated with an integrative vision of salvation, undergirded by a Christian Neoplatonist worldview. This means that their soteriology is situated within a broader Trinitarian perspective, and a Christocentric perspective informs their theology of creation, sacramental theology, ecclesiology, and Christian ethics. When the Christian Neoplatonist worldview crumbles under the critique of Ockham’s nominalism, this integrative vision becomes weakened. Similarly, while Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure see justification in intrinsicist terms, requiring our inner transformation and participation in Christ’s saving work, for Ockham it becomes an imputation of justice. In this way Ockham can be regarded as a precursor to Protestant theology, which considers sin and salvation in more forensic terms. Nonetheless, the integrative, Christian Neoplatonic vision lingered on in the writings of some of the fourteenth-century mystics, such as Jan van Ruusbroec.