The absolute paradox of Jesus Christ as the God-man, or more accurately the God-human being (Gud-Mennesket),1 constitutes the heart of Kierkegaard's understanding of Christianity, for as he sees it, 'all Christianity is rooted in the paradox' (JP iii. 3083). In reflecting on the person and work of Christ as the absolute paradox, Kierkegaard was not interested in expounding the doctrines of the incarnation and atonement as such but in clarifying their meaning for the single individual who encounters Christ and must decide whether to believe or to be offended at him. A brief overview of the doctrine of the incarnation and its interpretation in the nineteenth century at the outset, however, will help to set his Christological reflection in historical and theological context.
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