Should We Be Called Jesusians?: Lessons from Ludolph

Should We Be Called Jesusians?: Lessons from Ludolph July 26, 2022

Twelve depictions of Jesus from around the world

Ludolph of Saxony, a 14th-century Carthusian monk, wrote a beautiful Life of Christ, telling the stories of the gospels with commentary drawn from a rich treasury of patristic literature. One scholar commented that “it is one of the most beautiful and erudite works to have come down to us from the Middle Ages … Almost all of the patristic literature can be found incorporated in it.” We know that Ludolph’s work was Ignatius of Loyola’s inspiration as he recuperated from war trauma, and we know that Teresa of Avila encouraged her daughters to read “the Carthusian.” Milton Walsh, a modern scholar of Ludolph’s work, suggests that Luther, Bucer, and later Anglican writers were also familiar with this work.

I’ve been enjoying Ludolph’s meditations for a couple of years, and continue to find fresh and relevant commentary on a plethora of theological topics. So I thought for a bit I’d share some of my Ludolph findings, particularly as they seem pertinent to contemporary discussions.

In this first post, I grab one of Ludoph’s reflections on the first days of Jesus, in particular the gospel accounts of the naming of Jesus. I find this relevant because of the ongoing infatuation with the idea that Jesus is just one iteration of “the Christ,” who is the ahistorical savior appearing in multiple times and places and people. I’ve written about this before, but Ludolph wanted to have his say.

So, for those who persist in differentiating between “the Christ” and Jesus of Nazareth, here’s Ludolph’s input:

“Augustine distinguishes between the name Jesus and the name Christ: the first is his personal name whereas the second refers to his sacred office. Also, Christ is a name of grace, while Jesus is a name of glory: here below, people are called Christians, from Christ, because of the grace of baptism; but in the glory of heaven Jesus himself will call us Jesuitae, that is, those who have been saved by the Savior.”

It is suggested that Ludolph is the first writer to coin the term “Jesuit.” Perhaps Ignatius grabbed this term from Ludolph’s work? Quite possibly. At any rate, perhaps we should explore the idea of being named by Jesus. Jesusians?


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