The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition Norman Russell Provides a comprehensive survey of both pagan philosophical and Greek patristic approaches to deification from late antiquity to the seventh century Presents new insights into the interaction between Graeco-Roman culture and Christianity Analyses and sets in context the spiritual teaching of many early Christian writers The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition Norman Russell Oxford Early Christian Studies Description Deification in the Greek patristic tradition was the fulfilment of the destiny for which humanity was created - not merely salvation from sin but entry into the fullness of the divine life of the Trinity. This book, the first on the subject for over sixty years, traces the history of deification from its birth as a second-century metaphor with biblical roots to its maturity as a doctrine central to the spiritual life of the Byzantine Church. Drawing attention to the richness and diversity of the patristic approaches from Irenaeus to Maximus the Confessor, Norman Russell offers a full discussion of the background and context of the doctrine, at the same time highlighting its distinctively Christian character.
|Published (Last):||22 November 2006|
|PDF File Size:||18.58 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||1.15 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
What would otherwise seem absurd—that fallen, sinful man may become holy as God is holy—has been made possible through Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate. Naturally, the crucial Christian assertion, that God is One, sets an absolute limit on the meaning of theosis: even as it is not possible for any created being to become God ontologically , or even a necessary part of God of the three existences of God called hypostases , so a created being cannot become Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit nor the Father of the Trinity.
Such a concept would be the henosis , or absorption and fusion into God of Greek pagan philosophy. However, every being and reality itself is considered as composed of the immanent energy, or energeia, of God. As energy is the actuality of God, i. Let us become the image of the one whole God, bearing nothing earthly in ourselves, so that we may consort with God and become gods, receiving from God our existence as gods.
For it is clear that He Who became man without sin cf. This is what St[. As God became human, in all ways except sin, he will also make humans "God", i. Some Eastern Christian theologians say that Jesus would have become incarnate for this reason alone, even if Adam and Eve had never sinned.
In Christ the two natures of God and human are not two persons but one; thus a union is effected in Christ between all of humanity in principle and God. So the holy God and sinful humanity are reconciled in principle in the one sinless man, Jesus Christ. Without the struggle, the praxis , there is no real faith; faith leads to action, without which it is dead.
A person must fashion his life to be a mirror, a true likeness of God. A common analogy for theosis, given by the Greek fathers, is that of a metal which is put into the fire. The metal obtains all the properties of the fire heat, light , while its essence remains that of a metal.
As John Chrysostom observes, "where the head is, there is the body also. There is no interval to separate between the Head and the body; for were there a separation, then were it no longer a body, then were it no longer a head. Thus the term "theosis" describes the whole process and its objective. By means of purification a person comes to theoria and then to theosis.
Theosis is the participation of the person in the life of God. According to this doctrine, the holy life of God, given in Jesus Christ to the believer through the Holy Spirit , is expressed through the three stages of theosis, beginning in the struggles of this life, increasing in the experience of knowledge of God , and consummated in the resurrection of the believer, when the victory of God over fear, sin, and death, accomplished in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is made manifest in the believer forever.
Of the monastic tradition, the practice of hesychasm is most important as a way to establish a direct relationship with God. Living in the community of the church and partaking regularly of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist , is taken for granted. Also important is cultivating " prayer of the heart ", and prayer that never ceases, as Paul exhorts in 1 Thessalonians This unceasing prayer of the heart is a dominant theme in the writings of the Fathers, especially in those collected in the Philokalia.
It is considered that no one can reach theosis without an impeccable Christian living, crowned by faithful, warm, and, ultimately, silent, continuous Prayer of the Heart. Rather it expresses unity, in the complementary nature between the created and the creator. Acquisition of the Holy Spirit is key as the acquisition of the Spirit leads to self-realization. In his article, Bloor highlights various Western theologians who have contributed to what he calls a "stigma" towards theosis.
Philips, the essence—energies distinction is "a typical example of a perfectly admissible theological pluralism" that is compatible with the Roman Catholic magisterium. Finch claims that "the future of East—West rapprochement appears to be overcoming the modern polemics of neo-scholasticism and neo-Palamism".
Among the treasures of that tradition he mentioned in particular: the teaching of the Cappadocian Fathers on divinization which passed into the tradition of all the Eastern Churches and is part of their common heritage.
This can be summarized in the thought already expressed by Saint Irenaeus at the end of the second century: God passed into man so that man might pass over to God. This theology of divinization remains one of the achievements particularly dear to Eastern Christian thought.
What would otherwise seem absurd—that fallen, sinful man may become holy as God is holy—has been made possible through Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate. Naturally, the crucial Christian assertion, that God is One, sets an absolute limit on the meaning of theosis: even as it is not possible for any created being to become God ontologically , or even a necessary part of God of the three existences of God called hypostases , so a created being cannot become Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit nor the Father of the Trinity. Such a concept would be the henosis , or absorption and fusion into God of Greek pagan philosophy. However, every being and reality itself is considered as composed of the immanent energy, or energeia, of God.
The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition