The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition

The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition

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by Norman Russell
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0199205973

ISBN-13: 9780199205974

Pub. Date: 11/16/2006

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

This book 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. It begins with two chapters on the doctrine's antecedents in Graeco-Roman and Jewish culture which draw attention to the contribution of Rabbinic exegesis, and also to the fact

Overview

This book 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. It begins with two chapters on the doctrine's antecedents in Graeco-Roman and Jewish culture which draw attention to the contribution of Rabbinic exegesis, and also to the fact that in speaking of the soul's ascent to God as deification Christian writers anticipated the pagan Neoplatonists. Although the first enunciation of deification is in Irenaeus' celebrated 'exchange formula', it was in Alexandria that the doctrine was fully elaborated. Two important chapters discuss and contextualize the different Alexandrian approaches from Clement to Cyril, bringing out the pervasive influence of Origen, who develops the idea of the rational creature's participation through the Son and the Spirit in a dynamic divinity deriving from the Father. The technical vocabulary of deification becomes problematical for Cyril of Alexandria, who replaces it with references to 2 Peter 1:4 ('partakers of the divine nature'). It was therefore through Pseudo-Dionysius and Maximus the Confessor rather than Cyril that deification entered the Byzantine tradition. Maximus' many discussions of deification (or 'theosis') are examined in detail, for in his concept of theosis as God's gift of himself to human beings through participation in the divine energies the patristic doctrine of deification comes to full maturity. The final chapter shows how Maximus' synthesis informed the hesychast tradition and touches on the contribution of deification to recent theological reflection on the nature of the human person. Twoappendices review deification in the Syriac and Latin Fathers, and present a survey of the Greek vocabulary of deification to the end of the fifth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199205974
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
11/16/2006
Series:
Oxford Early Christian Studies Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Abbreviations xiii

I Introduction 1

1 The Metaphor of Deification 1

2 The Need for the Study 3

3 Scope and Method 7

4 Overview 9

2 Deification in the Graeco-Roman World 16

1 The Origins of Deification 16

2 The Ruler-Cult 18

3 Jewish and Christian Attitudes to the Ruler-Cult 23

4 The Democratization of the Ruler's Apotheosis 26

5 The Mystery Cults 28

6 Philosophical Religion 34

7 The Egyptian Hermetists 44

8 Interaction with Christianity 50

3 The Jewish Paradigm: From Ezekiel to the yored merkavab 53

1 Ancient Israel 53

2 The Impact of Hellenism 55

3 Palestinian Judaism 65

4 The Rabbinic Tradition 71

5 Influence on Christianity 76

4 The Earliest Christian Model: Participatory Union with Christ 79

1 Pauline Christianity 79

2 Jewish Christianity 85

3 Johannine Christianity 87

4 Ignatius of Antioch 89

5 Valentinian Christianity 92

6 Justin Martyr 96

7 Two Anonymous Contemporaries 101

8 Tatian 102

9 Theophilus of Antioch 103

10 Irenaeus of Lyons 105

11 Hippolytus of Rome 110

12 The Early Christian Approach to Deification 112

5 The Alexandrian Tradition I: Christian Schools and Study Circles 115

1 Alexandrian Christianity 115

2 The School of Basilides 119

3 The School of Pantaenus 120

4 Clement of Alexandria 121

5 Origen 140

6 Didymus the Blind 154

7 The Alexandrian Concept of Deification 161

6 The Alexandrian Tradition II: The Imposition of Episcopal Control 164

1 The Eclipse of the Independent Teacher 164

2 Athanasius 164

3 Apollinarius of Laodicea 188

4 Cyril of Alexandria 191

5 The Legacy of Alexandria 204

7 The Cappadocian Approach: Divine Transcendence and the Soul's Ascent206

1 Basil of Caesarea 206

2 Gregory of Nazianzus 213

3 Gregory of Nyssa 225

4 The Cappadocian Achievement 232

8 The Monastic Synthesis: The Achievement of Maximus the Confessor 235

1 Evagrius Ponticus 238

2 The Macarian writings 241

3 Diadochus of Photice 246

4 Dionysius the Areopagite 248

5 Maximus the Confessor 262

9 Epilogue 296

1 Leontius of Jerusalem 296

2 John Damascene 299

3 Symeon the New Theologian 301

4 Gregory Palamas 304

5 The Dissemination of Hesychast Spirituality 309

6 Modern Approaches to Deification 312

Appendix 1 Deification in the Syriac and Latin Traditions 321

Appendix 2 The Greek Vocabulary of Deification 333

Bibliography 345

Indexes 381

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