In Christian terminology, docetism (from the Greekdokeĩn (to seem) dókēsis (apparition, phantom), according to Norbert Brox, is defined narrowly as "the doctrine according to which the phenomenon of Christ, his historical and bodily existence, and thus above all the human form of Jesus, was altogether mere semblance without any true reality." Broadly it is taken as the belief that Jesus only seemed to be human, and that his human form was an illusion. The word Dokētaí (illusionists) referring to early groups who denied Jesus' humanity, first occurred in a letter by Bishop Serapion of Antioch (197–203), who discovered the doctrine in the Gospel of Peter, during a pastoral visit to a Christian community using it in Rhosus, and later condemned it as a forgery. It appears to have arisen over theological contentions concerning the meaning, figurative or literal, of a sentence from the Gospel of John: "the Word was made Flesh".
Docetism was unequivocally rejected at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and is regarded as heretical by the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, and Coptic Church.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
1846, heresy of the Docetae, who held that the body of Jesus was a phantom, from Greek Doketai, name of the sect, literally "believers," from dokein "to seem, have the appearance of, think," related to doxa (see decent).
n. (context Christianity English) The doctrine of the Docetes, that Jesus only appeared to have a physical body and was ultimately of celestial substance.
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Docetism \Doc"e*tism\, n. (Eccl. Hist.) The doctrine of the Docet[ae].
Usage examples of "docetism".
The characteristic of the Gnostic Christology is not Docetism, in the strict sense, but the doctrine of the two natures, that is, the distinction between Jesus and Christ, or the doctrine that the Redeemer as Redeemer was not a man.
Docetism, Nicolaism, Gnosticism, Chiliasm, Manichaism, Monatism, Monarchism, Monophysitism, Monotheletism, Arianism, Nestorianism--every one of these terms means both a theory and a drama.