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
     
 

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… See more details below

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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199265213
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
02/15/2005
Series:
Oxford Early Christian Studies Series
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.20(d)

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Table of Contents

1Introduction1
2Deification in the Graeco-Roman world16
3The Jewish paradigm : from Ezekiel to the Yored Merkavah53
4The earliest Christian model : participatory union with Christ79
5The Alexandrian tradition I : Christian schools and study circles115
6The Alexandrian tradition II : the imposition of episcopal control164
7The Cappadocian approach : divine transcendence and the soul's ascent206
8The monastic synthesis : the achievement of Maximus the Confessor235
9Epilogue296
App. 1Deification in the Syriac and Latin traditions321
App. 2The Greek vocabulary of deification333

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