Like most scholastic theologians, Duns Scotus takes the broad outlines of his understanding of redemption from St. Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo. In this study, I examine Scotus’s account of Christ’s redemptive work in light of his Christology and in light of thirteenth-century Franciscan theology. Considering this theological and historical context helps to settle a number of questions that Scotus’s account of redemption raises. These questions include whether Scotus attributes satisfaction to Christ’s death, whether Scotus’s expansive notion of divine power fundamentally shapes his soteriology, and whether Scotus’s soteriology was influenced not only by Anselm but also by his scholastic predecessors. I argue that Scotus does attribute satisfaction to Christ’s death, that Scotus’s Christology is more important than his notion of divine power in influencing his soteriology, and that Scotus adopts and extends many modifications that thirteenth-century theologians made to Anselm’s soteriology.
Perhaps the most significant divide between Anselm and his thirteenth-century interpreters is the role that scholastic theologians accorded to created grace in analyzing the source of value that they attributed to Christ’s suffering and death. Unlike his Franciscan predecessors, Scotus claims that the hypostatic union does not necessarily confer grace on Christ’s soul or augment its capacity for grace. Scotus’s understanding of the connection between Christ’s possession of the highest grace and the hypostatic union becomes the basis from which he speculates on alternative soteriological scenarios that would not involve Christ.