Figure Name anthropopatheia
Source Silva Rhetoricae (; Smith ("anthropopatheia" "humanus affectus") 204-206; Bullinger 871 ; JG Smith (1665) ("anthropopathia"); Bullinger (1898) ("anthropopatheia; or, condescension"); Norwood (1742) ("anthropoathia")
Earliest Source None
Synonyms syncatabasis, condescensio, humanus affectus, condescension, anthropopathia
Etymology from Gk. anthropos, "man" and pathos, "affections, feelings"
Type Trope
Linguistic Domain Semantic

1. Ascribing human attributes to God. (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. A speaking after the manner of men.; Anthropopathia, humanus affectus, humane affection: derived from [anthropos] homo, a man, and [pathos] affectus, affection: or rather from [anthropopatheo] humano more afficior, aut loquor, to be affected with, or to speak after the manner of men. t is an attributing to God humane affections, or it is a speaking after the manner of men. A Metaphor whereby that which properly is agreeable to the creatures, and especially to man, is by some similitude transferr'd unto the Creator and heavenly things. This is very frequent in Scriptures, when it speaks of God after the manner of men, and by bodily things sets forth the divine excellencies of the spiritual and eternal being. This Metaphorical form of speech is also by others called Syncatabasis, condescensio, condescension, for that in holy writ the Lord doth as it were descend unto us, and under humane things resembles and expresses heavenly mysteries unto our capacities.(JG Smith)

3. The Ascribing of Human Attributes, etc., to God... This figure is used of the acription of human passions, actions, or attributes to God... The following are the divisions in which the various uses of this figure may be presented:-
1. Parts and Members of Man.
2. The Feelings of Men.
3. The Actions of Men.
4. Circumstances.
a. Negative,
b. Positive.
c. Of Place.
d. Of Time.
e. Of Person.
1. Animals.
2. The Actions of certain Animals.
3. Parts of Members of certain Animals.
4. Plants:
a. Of Genus.
b. Of Species.
1. Universals.
2. Particulars.
3. The Elements.
4. The Earth. (Bullinger, 855)

4. ANTHROPOPATHIA. Anthropopathia. This Figure represents God speaking or doing after the manner of men; and ascribing to him the parts of body, or any thing else belonging to our human nature. (Norwood, 116)


1. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. —Genesis 22:10-12 (Silva Rhetoricae)

2. Thus the Lord is said to have a face in Psal. and eyes, in Psal. 11.4. to signifie his omnisciencie; bowe's in Isa. 63.15; and a bosome in Psal. 74.11. to denote unto us his infinite mercy and most ardent love. (JG Smith)

3. [ex. of I.] Lev. 26:11. -"And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you": i.e., I myself. (Bullinger, 855)

4. Thus Christ is called the head over all things to the Church, Eph. 1. 22. And God is called the head of Christ, 1 Cor. 11. 3. In respect of his human nature, and office of meditation; for in respect of his divinity, the Son is equal to the Father, as appears from John 5. 18. For Christ makes himself equal with God in power, and operation, ver. 19. for whatsoever things the Father doth, these also doth the Son; likewise by reason of unity of essence, and perfect will, and operation, which is between me and my father; and this equality of Christ, to God the Father is very evident from Phil. 2. 6. Who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God: though it not; that is to say, Christ, without the least usurpation, was truly equal to God; and unless Christ was truly God, how otherwise will you make out his mighty humiliation, when he was made in the likeness of man, and made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant: all this seems a mighty great diminution of himself; as if he had now brought himself, as it were, to nothing, by this low and mighty condescension, (ekenoese), evacuavit, Christ did almost annihilate himself, in the debasement of himself to such a low and abject condition of life, as to be found in the fashion of a man: and this profound humiliation of Christ, upon his appearance in our nature, can up otherwise be rationally explained, but from the extreme distance and opposition that there was between his divine Majesty and glory, as he was God; and the most abject and despicable state of his humanity. Where otherwise can be such a mighty debasement of himself, if he was only man? Where otherwise is there such a vast diminution, or such a strange humility; but only from the mighty difference and disproportion between his divine and his human nature; as he was God, as well as man; which, in comparison to his infinite nature and essence, was indeed nothing; here then was his mighty condescension very manifest; here his great humiliation of himself was extremely visible. (Norwood, 116-118)

Kind Of Similarity
Part Of
Related Figures personification
Notes Entered by Ashwini.
Confidence Unconfident
Last Editor Ioanna Malton
Confidence Unconfident
Editorial Notes Changed type of and title. Syncatabasis redirects to anthropopatheia in SR.
Reviewed No