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Theosis: Deification in Christian Theology (Princeton Theological Monographs) [Paperback]

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Pages   185
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.54" Width: 6.08" Height: 0.43"
Weight:   0.61 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2006
Publisher   Pickwick Publications
ISBN  1597524387  
EAN  9781597524384  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The term deification refers to the transformation of Christian believers into the likeness of God. While the Christian faith opposes any literal 'god making' of humankind, the New Testament does speak about a transformation of mind however, along with a metamorphosis of character, a redefinition of selfhood, and an imitation of God. Most of these passages are quite brief yet the concept of deification was important to the early church.Coined theosis by the great fourth-century theologian, Gregory of Nazianzus, theologians now use the term theosis to designate all instances where any idea of taking on God's character or being "divinized" (or made divine) occurs. While some articles in this collection discuss pre-Christian concepts of theosis, both Greek and Jewish, most focus on Christian understandings of the concept by examining Old Testament covenant theology along with 2 Peter 1:4.

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More About Stephen Finlan
Stephen Finlan I taught Theology and general Humanities at universities and seminaries for 13 years, but now I am the pastor of Mathewson Street United Methodist Church in Providence, RI. I am interested in preaching the gospel and in discovering the transforming power of the Spirit. I have a Ph.D. in Pauline Theology from University of Durham, and have been writing about Jesus, Paul, atonement, and theosis for many years. I have strongly held views on these subjects, but I also seek lively and varied debate from those who have other views. The "strongly held" aspect is probably seen in my _Problems with Atonement_, whle my "open to debate" aspect is seen in my _Options on Atonement_ and _The Apostle Paul_.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Theosis, Jewish, Neoplatonic, Stoic, Athanasian and Reformed  Oct 2, 2007

"I have ventured to say this out of my fatherly love for you. If I have done well or not in venturing, God and his Christ know, and anyone who partakes of the Spirit of Godand the Spirit of Christ. May you too be a partaker and ever increase the participation, there you may say not only, 'We have become partakers of Christ'(Heb 3:14), but also, 'We have become partakers of God'." Origen's Philocalia, I3. 4, to his former pupil, Gregory Thaumaturgus

Deification in Christian Theology:
This is a well diversified collection, and every article is of interest to explorers of the doctrine. There are some which provoke contemplative thought and most promote further research, given the abundance of bibliography within the introduction. A reader friendly for new comers to the ancient Alexandrine doctrine, a fact which is made clear by Norman Russell but was evidently unclear in the introduction and the mind of some of the essay writers. As an advocate of Alexandrine orthodox teaching and a promoter of Coptic mystical tradition, I am very pleased to have encountered the zeal and enthusiasm of the promising pro patristic theologians, paleo-orthodox but refreshing.
It is still applicable what, the eminent Patristic scholar Fr. Sydney Griffith wrote, in a book review, "One does not mean to complain immoderately, nor to appear ungrateful for what is on its own term a good study of a timely and an important topic; nor does one want to review a book the author never intended to write," as I enthusiastically give my comments.
It is worth stressing what my learned friend Didaskalex was critical of leaving Cyril the benchmark of orthodoxy and doctor of the Catholic Church, but also the founder of Systematic biblical theology, and first introducer of the concept of divinization, Origen master of Gregory and Maximus, with Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria.

a. No Theosis without Kenosis:
+ Paul on Kenosis:
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20
"I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from getting proud. ... I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, 'My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me." (II Cor 12)
+ Paul on theosis:
"Albert Schweitzer devoted his Mysticism of the Paul the Apostle explaining this mystical union with Christ, but on the whole Protestants have remained attached to justification by faith. More recently, E.P. Sanders and others have also raised the issue of the importance of participation in Paul's theology, but Sanders also humbly mentions that he and others really don't know what that means. It is the deeper meaning of Paul's participation statements that is our interest and not that of thinly veiled restatements of Paul's language. As such, I agree with Sanders' argument that Paul's letters speak of a reality that is not fully captured in categories or explanations given by scholars to date." Ben Blackwell, The union of believers with Christ in Paul

b. Cyril NOT Maximos:
The quotation from 2 Peter was altogether more problematical. It was first used by Origen (thrice), then by Athanasius (six times), and subsequently by Cyril (more than forty times). It appears in the Macarian Homilies (ten times), but not in the Cappadocians and is not used again until Maximus the Confessor (twice). Thereafter it turns up very infrequently in Byzantine writers. Symeon the New Theologian appeals to it only once, so far as I am aware. Theophylact of Bulgaria passes over it rapidly in his commentary on 2 Peter. It re-emerges in the Palamite dispute when Akindynos uses 'partakers of the divine nature' to oppose the existence of the energies, forcing Palamas to give a detailed exegesis of the text. Why did this expression, 'partakers of the divine nature', present such difficulty? Why was it popular with Cyril but not with Maximus? Why was it practically ignored by the Byzantines in spite of the fact that the doctrine of deification was accepted without question? These are the problems to which we shall attempt to find solutions." Norman Russell, "Partakers of the Divine Nature" in the Byzantine Tradition

c. Origen on Divinization:
Joseph Trigg wrote, "In his discussion of the inadaquacy of human language, Origen addresses topics that were elaborated in the following century by the Cappadocians..." on Origen's commentary on John, illustrates Origen's interest in Christ's divine and human natures and multiple aspects as they relate to human transformation through participation in Christ." Trigg writes quoting (Book 32.339), "The mind that has been purified and has surpassed all material things, so as to be certain of the contemplation of God is divinized by those things that it contemplates.
Origen conceived salvation as a dynamic process of 'transformation into the image of God,' which eventually takes the believer into a gradual participation in God's own nature, given his human free will is in tact, amidst this transformation which necessitates God's grace, wherein human thought and will cooperate with the Spirit of God to partake of His nature.

A collection of Essays covering some Deification Theologians from Iraeneus to Soloviev  Sep 30, 2007

"Thus we participate Christ partly by imputation, as when those things which he did and suffered for us are imputed unto us for righteousness; partly by habitual and real infusion, as when grace is inwardly bestowed while we are on earth, and afterwards more fully both our souls and bodies made like unto his in glory." Richard Hooker

Defining Theosis:
"In Christian theology, theosis refers to the transformation of believers into the likeness of God..., the NT speaks of a transformation of mind, a metamorphosis of character, a redefinition of selfhood, and an imitation of God (Christ). Most of these passages are tantalizingly brief, and none spells out the concept in details." Introduction

Miracle of Theosis:
C.S. Lewis called the incarnation "the Grand Miracle." He wrote: "The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation... Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this... It was the central event in the history of the Earth--the very thing that the whole story has been about" By a miracle that surpasses human comprehension, the Creator entered his creation, the Eternal entered time, God became human--in order to die and rise again for the salvation of all people. "He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still ... (to) the womb ... down to the very roots and sea-bed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him" (Miracles, ch. 14).

Imagio Dei, Athanasius' Pursuit:
The orthodoxy of Alexandrine theology stems from its sound biblical roots, Athanasius follows Origen, and Cyril perfects the message: Salvation by knowledge of The Heavenly Father through the Incarnate Son (John 17:3), following his likeness of Kenotic self denial, into partaking of his nature, "But, in fact, the good God has given them a share in His own Image, that is, in our Lord Jesus Christ, and has made even themselves after the same Image and Likeness. Why? Simply in order that through this gift of Godlikeness in themselves they may be able to perceive the Image Absolute, that is the Word Himself, and through Him to apprehend the Father; which knowledge of their Maker is for men the only really happy and blessed life." St. Athanasius, De Incarnatione Verbi Dei

New Man's Theosis:
"Is it the promise of the serpent, that we can "become like God, knowing good and evil?" Theft of Promethean fire is an endemic human inclination, the expression of a Gnostic theosis. Thomas Merton, the genuine Catholic Patristic student, in 'The nEW mAN,'takes the reader back to Origen who laid the foundations of the theology of redemption, which has been developed into the history of salvation. Origen initiated the concepts, interpreting the kingdom of God either as the apprehension of divine truth and spiritual reality, and in his explanation of Luke 17:21, the ultimate indwelling of the Logos (or the seeds of truth implanted in our souls) through the grace of Jesus Christ. "Origen conceives of Jesus' human nature as having been progressively deified through its union with the Logos; after the resurrection materiality disappears and His human soul becomes fused ineffably with the Logos." Quoted from Early Christian Doctrine, JND Kelley
The New Man's theme is the question of spiritual identity (theosis). Merton's interpretation of Genesis can be met throughout his essay on the history of fall and theology of redemption, such experience is the mystical transformation in which we will be perfectly conformed to the likeness of Christ. It involves a kenotic way, of the desert fathers, into union with God, theosis. We will become like 'the New Man' who is the Christ, the new Adam. Salvation, rightly understood and genuinely experienced, is to realize that we are shaped in God's image and created for fellowship with the Living and Loving Creator. This process promises not only self-discovery but also self-realization.

Abiding in the Vine:
We are all called by grace to divinization, Christ's divine union or theosis as the Eastern Churches has taught as the mystery of abiding in the vine, "I am the vine, you are the branches. those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
Jesus has repeatedly called himself the Bridegroom, and the Church his bride, bringing up the love imagery in the Song of Songs to his audience the an image of theosis carried within it a message of a graceful meta-morphosis by Christ's unfailing and transforming love for us. Theosis is nothing that comes to us by right or by nature. Our union with Christ is the fruit of the joyous and life-giving grace of His divine love.

Theosis, as Ecumenical Hope:
A monograph of multiple reflections, is like the patches of awesome mosaic of Ravenna, that one could enjoy in Palazzo del Te. Those ausome mosaics differing in color, orientation, and surface leveling, beautiful when observed from afar, less so when architecturally scrutinized. and so, upon examining the contents of this Princeton Theo-monograph, it was evident that the editors devised a proper scheme for exploring theosis. While the Princeton style would dwell deeper, by philology, philosophy, Theology, and Biblically (OT) onto Peter's notion of divine Participation. For the first time since Gross, with the exception of Norman Russell exhaustive study, Finlan, et al. devised a masterful recovery plan for theosis, a 'Church teaching' for the lay and academic. As a ancient orthodox Christian salfivic platform, they utilize advanced engineering techniques (injection sealing) for fortification of the doctrinal platform, especially useful for enforcing its sandy subsoil or sealing of fissures or cracks in its neglected doctrine, caused by Aristotelian scholastic exclusion, and some reformation accommodation. Recently M. McClymond argued for a wide area of overlap between teaching of Johnathan Edwards on salvation & the Orthodox doctrine of theosis!

In Conclusion:
The test of orthodox teaching has a parallel in mathematical proofs, Necessary but not sufficient, is applicable when some researchers try to fit diophysite orthodox with theosis, they cannot be compatible. "How can the Logos in Emanuel, who failed to deify Jesus' sinless human nature, into 'one united nature of the incarnate Logos,' after having been contiueously indweling in hypostatic union within the one Christ, could deify me a sinful human by nature."
Novel Essays:
- Introduction (4*; concise, but with long non selective bibliography)
- Theosis, Judaism & OT Anthropology (5*, Novel, analytically critical)
- 2Peter on Divine participn (5*, NeoPlatonic & Stoic B/G, Pauline II'l)
- Deification in apostolic fathers (4*, Novel & concise No bench marks)
- Irenaeus, human divinization (4*,Irenaeus streched beyond Gnosticism)
- Athanasius, Deifying Work of the Redeemer (5*, a watershed)
- Maximus Confessor(3*, inflating Maximus tantum-quantum formula, into a 'DOCTRINE' of theosis? with only two instances of godlike Quotes. Who are his source, Origen, Gregory? How could his formula be interpreted, even after he modified his belief to a Neo Chaledonian christology
- Reforming theosis (5*, a masterpiece case study: Torrance)
- The Divine Comedy (5* intellectual masterpiece)

Theosis without Cyril:
Dear Dr. Stephen Finlan
Peace. Thanks for your compelling essays on a main doctrine of the great Church of Origen and Athanasius, and Cyril if you will. I have examined the contents of your book but has been deeply dismayed that Cyril the great, the pillar of faith, and the cornerstone in developing and using the authentic Alexandrine Orthodox call, was never adequately exposed, (Cyril is only mentioned by name on page 152). If this is true, it deserves an explanation, from an earnest scholar to a Coptic Catechist and a mere lay theologian ....

Dear Whybadir:
Thanks for your information on Calvin and Cyril. ...
Cyril is another matter, and of course, one of the best of theosis theologians, maybe the best. I just had no one offering an article on Cyril at the time I put together my collection, so he is one of many who were left out. Our's is just an intro volume that covers some neglected figures along with some major figures. We didn't presume to claim that we covered the whole subject.
Thanks, SF

Final Comment:
Excluding Cyril of Alexandria from any discourse on Theosis, save any other Sotereological debate, is equivalent to teaching the Lords parables, excluding the good Samaritan or the prodigal son.

The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition (Oxford Early Christian Studies)
The Appropriation of Divine Life in Cyril of Alexandria (Oxford Theological Monographs)
Light on early chiristian belief  Jan 9, 2007
The book is very interesting and covers a topic that is nowdays not generally known to be Christian. A good book for reading about early Christian history and beliefs.

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