Deification is the transformation of believers into the likeness of God. While Christian monotheism does not support the notion of any literal ‘god making’ of believers, the New Testament often speaks of a transformation of mind, a metamorphosis of character, a redefinition of selfhood, and an imitation of God. Most of these passages are tantalisingly brief, and none spell out the concept in detail.
This second volume of biblical and historical-theological essays offer a variety of innovative approaches to the issue of theosis – the name by which this process of transformation has become known. The interconnections between the theology of deification and the doctrines of the Trinity, Christology, anthropology, protology, hamartiology, soteriology, and eschatology are made manifest in these fascinating new studies. It is aimed both at those who are already students of theosis and at those who are looking for an introductory text. It also contains a comprehensive and up-to-date bibliography for those seeking further resources on the theme.
The theme of deification intimately touches on human identity and the actualization of humanity’s ultimate purpose. It is predominantly an anthropological and soteriological expression of Christian theology. At the same time, it testifies to the identity of a Christian God, divine universal design, and God’s economy, where the trinitarian and christological apprehension receives the central place. Theosis, both on an individual and cosmic scale, is not exiguous in its eschatological perspective, either. The testimony of theosis is testimony to the inexplicable mystery of divine intimacy. Deification penetrates all spheres of human existence, and can be seen as an answer to most pending ultimate questions. It is essentially practical in its manifestation and uplifting in its content, but nevertheless, always evasive and arcane in its comprehension.
From the Introduction
List of Contributors
Introduction / Vladimir Kharlamov
1. Deification in Jesus’ Teaching / Stephen Finlan
2. The Idea of Deification in the Early Eastern Church / Ivan V. Popov (trans. Boris Jakim)
3. Clement of Alexandria on Trinitarian and Metaphysical Relationality in
the Context of Deification / Vladimir Kharlamov
4. Basil of Caesarea and the Cappadocians on the Distinction between Essence and
Energies in God and Its Relevance to the Deification Theme / Vladimir Kharlamov
5. Bridging the Gap: Theosis in Antioch and Alexandria / Joel C. Elowsky
6. Theosis, Texts and Identity: the Philokalia (1782) – A Case Study / Paul M. Collins
7. Between Creation and Salvation: Theosis and Theurgy / Paul M. Collins
8. Participation in God: The Appropriation of Theosis by Contemporary
Baptist Theologians / Mark S. Medley
Resources for Deification in Christian Theology / Vladimir Kharlamov
Bibliography for Sources Cited in This Volume
Endorsements and Reviews
Theosis is back, and it is here to stay – no longer as the focus solely of one stream of the Christian tradition, but as a fully biblical and ecumenical account of salvation. Vladimir Kharlamov, with his colleagues, offers us another volume of significant essays on theosis/deification in the Christian tradition, from the evangelists to contemporary Baptists. They add to the burgeoning literature on the central reality of Christian faith: transformative participation in the very life of the Triune God.
Michael J. Gorman, Ecumenical Institute of Theology, St Mary’s Seminary & University
Vladimir Kharlamov has successfully gathered a lively collection of studies covering foundational aspects of the ancient concept of theosis. The chapters range from the teachings of Jesus and the Fathers, to contemporary attempts to appropriate the notion today (its relevance to the Reformed tradition, its importance to Christian ecology). The book is an exciting example of the energy that still exists in putting the ancient tradition in discussion with the pressing concerns of the world.
Very Revd John A. McGuckin, Nielsen Professor of Ancient & Byzantine Christian History, Union Theological Seminary
Vladimir Kharlamov has assembled a rich and remarkable volume that will offer profound gifts to the church’s theological reflection. Whether one is already a student of the doctrine of theosis or is seeking an introduction to its riches, s/he will do well to take this volume and read it carefully.
Philip E. Thompson, Professor of Systematic Theology & Christian Heritage, Sioux Falls Seminary
Altogether, the volume represents solid and careful scholarship …
Ashish Varma, in Theological Book Review, Vol 24, No 2
The strength of the collected essays flows out of a shared methodology, which lends an evenness of tone and approach while never comprising the specificities of each thinker of tradition.
Paul Dominiak, in Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol 21, No 1
These twin volumes are a scintillating gift to Christianity’s ongoing revelation in the third millennium. Taste and see that the Lord is good!
Alastair McIntosh, in The Expository Times, Vol 126, No 2