Visions of Christ.
The Anthropomorphite Controversy of 399 CE

Patterson P.A.

In the late fourth century, tales began to circulate of anthropomorphites dwelling in the Egyptian desertuneducated monks who crudely believed God to have a body. This characterization was accepted until the nineteenth-century discovery of The Life of Apa Aphou of Pemdje. Although clearly defending the anthropomorphites, this text does not promote any sort of anthropomorphism. Further analysis led many scholars to conclude that what the anthropomorphites were actually defending was the legitimacy of forming images of the Incarnate Christ in prayer. However, this view fails to fully explain numerous anti-anthropomorphite writings (those of Theophilus, Jerome, Cassian, Cyril and Augustine). Taking these into account, as well as certain Nag Hammadi texts and the works of Philo, Paul A. Patterson shows that the anthropomorphites were bearers of an ancient tradition, seeking in prayer the vision of the eternal, divine body of Christ.