Definition of Docetism in US English:



  • The doctrine, important in Gnosticism, that Christ's body was not human but either a phantasm or of real but celestial substance, and that therefore his sufferings were only apparent.

    • ‘A high Christology can implicitly convey a Docetism, the view that the Son of God only appeared to be human during his earthly life.’
    • ‘Try explaining the soteriological danger of Docetism to your pewmate this Sunday and you'll see what I mean.’
    • ‘Rome is more likely to inquire into the orthodoxy of theologians who work with a Christology from below than into the possible Docetism of theologians who follow a Christology from above.’
    • ‘Cox rightly counters the anti-Semitism that separates Jesus from his Jewish roots and the Docetism that denies his humanity.’
    • ‘Indeed, this latter focus is an indispensable safeguard against the oldest and most enduring Christological heresy, Docetism: a Jesus removed from the travails of the flesh and the tragedies of history.’


Mid 19th century: from medieval Latin Docetae (the name, based on Greek dokein ‘seem’, given to a group of 2nd-century Christian heretics) + -ism.