Deification in Eastern Orthodox Theology


In recent years, Eastern Orthodox thought has had an increasing influence on key aspect of contemporary Western Christian thought, particularly as regards the doctrine of the Trinity and mystical spirituality. However, the foundations and fundamental presuppositions of Eastern Christianity's theological system have remained largely unstudied-and thus unknown-in the West. In this important study, Emil Bartos examines the doctrine of deification, which provides the conceptual basis for the way Staniloae and other ...
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In recent years, Eastern Orthodox thought has had an increasing influence on key aspect of contemporary Western Christian thought, particularly as regards the doctrine of the Trinity and mystical spirituality. However, the foundations and fundamental presuppositions of Eastern Christianity's theological system have remained largely unstudied-and thus unknown-in the West. In this important study, Emil Bartos examines the doctrine of deification, which provides the conceptual basis for the way Staniloae and other Orthodox theologians understand the major doctrines of the christian faith. The idea that "God became man that man might become God" sounds almost heretical to many Western ears, yet this affirmation is repeated countless times in the writings of the Eastern Fathers.

Beginning with the apophaticism that lies at the heart of Eastern theology. Bartos examines each of the key doctrines of anthropology, christology, soteriology, and ecclesiology as they relate to deification in Staniloae's thought. Bartos' study represents not merely a contribution to contemporary dialogue between Eastern and Western theologians, but also a much needed introduction to an aspect of Christian thought down the centuries that is largerly neglected in the Christian West.

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Meet the Author

Emil Bartos is Dean of Theology at the Emanuel Bible Institute in Oradea, Romania, where he teaches systematic and comparative theology and the history of dogma. His doctoral research was carried out under the supervision of Orthodox bishop Kallistos Ware and the Catholic theologian Oliver Davies.

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Table of Contents

Foreword     xi
Acknowledgments     xi
Introduction     1
Staniloae and his work     1
The concept of deification in Orthodox theology     7
Purpose and method     10
The Epistemological Basis of Deification: The Apophatic Way of Knowledge     20
Introduction     20
General background     22
Staniloae and the synthesis apophatic-cataphatic     25
Apophaticism of negative and positive knowledge     27
Apophaticism at the end of pure prayer     29
Apophaticism of the vision of divine light     31
Summary     33
A comparative appraisal of the apophaticism of Staniloae and Lossky     34
The radical apophatic way. Vladimir Lossky     34
Lossky and the Greek Fathers     36
A review of Lossky's apophaticism     37
The question of the vision of God     38
Staniloae's critique of Lossky     40
Patristic influence in Staniloae     41
Conclusions     43
The Epistemological Basis of Deification:Essence and Energies     57
General background     57
Staniloae and the divine uncreated energies     57
The trinitarianbasis of the uncreated energies     58
The dynamic personalism of the uncreated energies     60
The antinomic character of the uncreated energies     61
Summary     63
Patristic influence in Staniloae     65
The distinction essence-energies before Gregory Palamas     65
The decisive influence of Gregory Palamas     66
Intradivine distinction     66
Theology of light     67
Summary     69
Critical evaluation     70
The charge of innovation     70
The charge of impersonalism     72
Revelation and theosis     74
General conclusions     76
Evaluation     76
Assessment     79
The Anthropological Aspect of Deification     95
Introduction     95
The relationship between God and world     96
Deification and the act of creation     96
Deification as the reason and purpose of creation     97
Creation ex nihilo     100
Creation as a free and triune act     102
Summary     103
The dynamism of creation: theosis and kinesis     104
Time     105
Space      108
Power     110
Summary     111
Evaluation     113
The relationship between world and man     116
The world as a gift     116
The interdependence and responsibility of man and nature     117
Man as mediator     119
The rationalities of the world     120
Evaluation     122
The relationship between man and God     125
The unity of man     126
Soul and body     127
Soul and mind     129
Summary     130
Imago Dei and theosis     131
The ontological and personalist character of the image     131
The communitarian character of the image     134
The dynamic character of the image: image and likeness     136
The imperishable character of the image     137
Evaluation: person and nature     140
General conclusions     144
The Christological Aspect of Deification: The Person of Christ     162
Introduction     162
Deification and incarnation     163
Communion with the Logos and transcendental Christology     164
Deification and the hypostatic union     168
The enhypostasized human nature in the pre-existent hypostasis of the Word     169
The complete actualisation of the human nature in Christ     170
The maximal realisation of the union of God and man in Christ     171
Summary     174
Consequences of the hypostatic union     175
The communication of the properties     175
Kenosis     176
Patristic influence     178
Leontius of Byzantium and enhypostasia     180
Maximus the Confessor and perichoresis     182
Cyril of Alexandria and the soul/body analogy     183
Evaluation     185
General conclusions     187
The Christological Aspect of Deification: The Work of Christ     203
Introduction     203
Background and premises in Staniloae's soteriology     204
The plan of salvation     205
The link between the Person of Jesus Christ and His salvific ministry     207
Christ's Tridimensional Ministry: The Saviour as Prophet, Priest, and King     209
Christ as prophet (salvation as truth)     209
Christ as priest (salvation as communion with God)     211
The sacrificial aspect of redemption     211
The ontological aspect of redemption     212
The recapitulative aspect of redemption     218
Christ as king (salvation as transfiguration)     219
Summary     223
General conclusions     225
Evaluation     225
The incarnational view of redemption     225
Redemption as ontological relations     226
Redemption as internal atonement     228
The idea of penetration     229
The progressive nature of redemption     231
The question of the nature of sin     232
The role of Christ's death and resurrection     233
Assessment     234
The Pneumato-Ecclesiological Aspect of Deification: Deification in the Church     252
Introduction     252
The communitarian character of the Church. Trinitarian basis     253
The Trinity as a model for the Church     254
The Trinity as the principle of life of the Church     256
Summary     257
Deification and pneumatological Christology     258
The transparency of the Spirit in revelation and in the Church     258
Christ and the Spirit     260
Summary     263
The theandric constitution of the Church     264
The Church founded by Christ's incarnation      265
The Church stamped by Christ's sacrifice     266
The Church pneumatized by the Spirit of the risen Christ     267
Summary     269
General conclusions     270
The Pneumato-Ecclesiological Aspect of Deification: Deification by Grace     282
Introduction     282
Deification by grace and its personal appropriation     283
The work of grace and the state of grace     283
The work of grace and uncreated energies     283
The work of grace and the gifts     285
The state of grace     286
Freedom and grace     287
Summary     289
Deification and the stages of justification     290
The stage of preparation     293
The stage of regeneration     293
The stage of progression     295
Summary     297
The role of faith and good works     298
The creational composition of the holy mysteries     299
General conclusions     302
Ontological continuity and pneumatological Christology     303
Communion and theandrism     306
The dynamism of grace     308
Nature and grace     311
The question of justification and sanctification     315
Conclusions     329
Summary     329
Final assessment     333
List of abbreviations     339
Bibliography     341
Index     367
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