Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions
Edited by Michael J. Christensen and Jeffery A. Wittung

About the Editors:
Michael J. Christensen (M.A. Yale Divinity School; Ph.D., Drew University) is Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Drew University, where he teaches religious studies and spirituality. He has published eight books, including C. S. Lewis on Scripture, Children of Chernobyl, The World After Chernobyl, The Heart of Henri Nouwen, Spiritual Direction, and numerous journal articles.

Jeffery A. Wittung is assistant editor at Baker Academic and a Ph.D. candidate at Drew University, where he was co-coordinator of the international academic conference on theosis in 2004.




This critical volume focuses on the issue of continuity and discontinuity of the Christian concept of theosis, or deification, in the intellectual history of ideas. It addresses the origin, development, and function of theosis from its antecedents in ancient Greek philosophy to its nuanced use in contemporary theological thought. Often seen as a heresy in the Protestant West, the revival of interest in deification in both lay and scholastic circles heralds a return to foundational understandings of salvation in the Christian church before the divisions of East and West, Catholic and Protestant.

The five sections of this work, written by scholars from the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant traditions, introduce and summarize the nature and function of deification and then lead the reader through four general historical periods of development: Greek and New Testament, Patristic, Medieval and Reformation, and Modern thought. This multi-author work accomplishes what no single author could: it treats the various visions and trajectories of deification that have emerged over the span of a millennium in the various Christian traditions, resulting in a sweeping yet thorough and distinctive contribution to scholarly and informed lay discussion of theosis.

Contents

Part I: The Context of Theosis in Christianity
The Problem, Promise, and Process of Theosis
Michael J. Christensen

The Place of Theosis in Orthodox Theology
Andrew Louth

Part II: Theosis in Classical and Late Antiquity
Deification of the Philosopher in Classical Greece
John R. Lenz

Can We Speak of Theosis in Paul?
Stephen Finlan

Does 2 Peter 1:4 Speak of Deification?
James Starr

Part III: Theosis in Patristic Thought
The Strategic Adaptation of Deification in the Cappadocians
J. A. McGuckin

Rhetorical Application of Theosis in Greek Patristic Theology
Vladimir Kharlamov

Divinization as Perichoretic Embrace in Maximus the Confessor
Elena Vishnevskaya

Paradise as the Landscape of Salvation in Ephrem the Syrian
Thomas Buchan

Part IV: Theosis in Medieval and Reformation Thought
The Copto-Arabic Tradition of Theosis: A Eucharistic Reading of John 3:51-57 in Bulus al-Bushi’s Treatise On the Incarnation
Stephen J. Davis

St. Anseim: Theoria and the Doctrinal Logic of Perfection
Nathan R. Kerr

Martin Luther: “Little Christs for the World”; Faith and Sacraments as Means to Theosis
Jonathan Linman

John Calvin: United to God through Christ
J. Todd Billings

John Wesley: Christian Perfection as Faith Filled with the Energy of love
Michael J. Christensen

Part V: Theosis in Modern Thought
Neo-Palantism, Divinizing Grace, and the Breach between East and West
Jeffrey D. Finch

Sergius Bulgakov: Russian Theosis
Boris Jakim

Karl Rahner: Divinization in Roman Catholicism
Francis J. Caponi, OSA

Theosis in Recent Research: A Renewal of Interest and a Need for Clarity
Gösta Hallonsten

Resources on Theosis with Select Primary Sources in Translation
Jeffery A. Wittung

Notes on Contributors
General Index
Scripture Index

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