Date of Award

Spring 4-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Divinity (MDiv)



First Advisor

Dan Brunner


Abstract This work sets out to explain the atonement theory of Irenaeus of Lyons. Irenaeus’ atonement theology is often described simply as “Christus Victor” but I argue that is simply a narrow sliver of the wider atonement theory of recapitulation. In this thesis I systematically try to expound what it is Irenaeus believed and why he believed it. In the first chapter I explain the problem at hand and a short biography of the bishop. In the second chapter I seek to summarize the Gnostic school of Valentinianism, which is the key opponent against Irenaeus writes in his best-known work “Against Heresies.” In the third chapter I expound on Irenaeus’ hamartiology. In the fourth chapter Irenaeus’ theory of recapitulation is covered, looking at his understanding of the role of Christ, of Mary, and Christ’s defeat of Satan. In the fifth chapter Irenaeus’ understanding of deification is broken down. Finally in the sixth chapter we look at the role of the church in Irenaeus’ soteriology.