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Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions Paperback – February 1, 2008

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Frequently Bought Together

Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions + Theosis: Deification in Christian Theology, Volume One (Princeton Theological Monograph) + Theosis: Deification in Christian Theology, Volume Two (Princeton Theological Monograph)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; Pbk. Ed edition (February 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080103440X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801034404
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"This is a welcome contribution to ecumenical theology! Over the last twenty years the theme of deification has become one of the most significant and fruitful settings of Christian theological dialogue, standing at the nexus between Eastern and Western Christian traditions. But we have lacked--until now--a broad and reliable collection that places the various specialized contributions in perspective and provides a sense of what is at stake. All who are interested in this important topic should begin here!"--Randy L. Maddox, Divinity School, Duke University

"The contributors to this rich and varied volume have reached across the divides of time, place, and culture to explore the deepest hopes and wildest aspirations of Christians in their relationship with God. Historians, students, ecumenists, and the burgeoning company of enthusiasts for spirituality will all enjoy the abundant and provocative feast that is served up here."--Kathleen McVey, Princeton Theological Seminary

"This groundbreaking, panoramic collection of studies on the theme of deification/theosis is most welcome. These essays clearly demonstrate that the grand and sublime calling of every human being to participate in the very life of God has always been central in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. I believe this finely conceived and well-crafted volume will help significantly to deepen the understanding and appreciation of salvation as deification for all who read it."--David C. Ford, St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary

"This is a timely book that offers a fuller scope and history of the theme of deification than is possible for a single author. This [can] be a basic textbook for general, wide-ranging courses on 'Deification in the Christian traditions.'"--John Behr, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary

"These essays analyze the history of exegesis of major biblical passages that teach that the faithful are becoming 'partakers of the divine nature' (2 Peter 1:4). Protestant historical theologians will find instructive the sections on Luther, Calvin, and Wesley, as compared with the Cappadocians, Ephrem, Maximus, and Anselm, as well as more recent writers such as Bulgakov and Karl Rahner. They establish the persistence and the renewal of interest in this theme in recent research."--Thomas C. Oden, general editor, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture

About the Author

Michael J. Christensen (PhD, Drew University) is director of the DMin program and teaches spirituality and religious studies at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Jeffery A. Wittung (1974-2010) served as an editor at Baker Academic and was a PhD candidate at Drew University.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Didaskalex VINE VOICE on December 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
"Theosis, deification, or divinization is no longer a topic limited to Eastern Orthodox thought. ...It seems to me that the concept of theosis is becoming increasingly unclear. ... Too many people make use of it without having made a sufficient investigation of its history or having understood its role in the Eastern tradition." Gösta Hallonsten

Theosis, A Renewal of Interest:
Often regarded as a Greek heretical innovation, in the Protestant West, the popular and scholarly revival of interest in deification declares a return to the foundational understanding of salvation in Christianity before the great schism between Byzantine East and Roman West. The idea and history of theosis is being rediscovered, as a compelling vision of human spiritual transformation into graceful wholeness, that is worthy of serious exploration and could yet be relevant to contemporary Western mystical trends. G. Hallonsten considers that the recent publication of an English translation of Jules Gross's classic on divinization according to the Greek speaking Fathers, as 'just one sign' of this renewed interest. According to Dr. Norman Russell, the eminent patristic scholar and expert on theosis, "The remarkable revival of interest in theosis, or Christian deification, has been driven to some extent by an evangelical concern to find new ways of speaking about the transformatory power of the Christian life.

Kenosis to Theosis:
Kenosis, or self emptying, which St. Paul used to describe Emanuel ministry for the universe, ends into Theosis, partaking of the nature of God as St. Peter described in his second epistle. The words of Clement of Alexandria became the reference passage, "The Word of God became man that you may learn from him how man may become God." St.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jacob on January 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
Not all essays are created equal, and it's certainly true here. Still, some good stuff. This book is useful on many levels. Even when the authors disagree, they almost always use the same fathers and the same passages from the fathers--and even the same structures in their arguments! The reader will have a competent grasp on the doctrine of theosis after reading this work.

It begins with outlining what theosis claims and doesn't claim. Next is a survey of late antiquity, ending just after the writing of the New Testament. Then the Cappadocians are dealt with, followed by the medievals, etc.

I will focus on a few essays. One author critiques NT Wright's reading of 1 Corinthians 15 by saying that Paul doesn't mean "spiritual" in the same way that Wright is using it. Fair enough. While I like Wright, and much of this author's argument was sheer overkill (e.g., looking for disagreements), I think the author has a point (in any case, it doesn't matter since both Wright and the author have similar conclusions).

There is a fine essay on St Ephrem the Syrian and "paradise as the landscape of salvation." They lyrical poetry here is beautiful.

One essay is dealing with the neo-Palamism of Vladimir Lossky. Lossky is taking Gregory Palamas's essence/energy distinction and offering a new and more thorough critique of Thomism and Augustinianism. While the author disagrees with Lossky, I commend him for recognizing what is at stake in this debate. He goes after the strongest opponent of his position and gives his best argument. Let's look at it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CAH on November 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Book arrived promptly and in perfect condition. As a detailed and thoughtful introduction to a wide spectrum of thought in regard to theosis, it is a book that will receive my careful reading and re-reading.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David E. Johnson on November 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
Latter-day Saints have been teaching and preaching the scriptural principle of deification for nearly two hundred years. It has always been a central part of the gospel of Jesus Christ, our example. They have received a great deal of persecution over this doctrine as being a non-Christian, cult concept. Now Dr. Christensen, as a respected Protestant intellectual, demonstrates that historically and scripturally it is very much a Christian doctrine just as Mormons have been trying to point out for years! What an odd turn of events? Watch out for the persecution; some people will really hate you for teaching this particular truth. I imagine that the writers may not particularly want to be associated with the foremost expositors of this doctrine. Even so, this is a good start as far as it goes and as far as the writers understand this essential doctrine. Hopefully, this will stir up a positive discussion among believers around the world concerning what their true identity and eternal potential really is. Good for you. Gutsy.
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More About the Author

Michael J. Christensen, Ph.D.
Michael J. Christensen (M.A., Yale, Ph.D., Drew), is Associate Professor in the Practice of Spirituality and Director of the Shalom Initiative for Prophetic Leadership and Community Development at Drew University. He also is Senior Pastor of Epworth Berkeley United Methodist Church and Founder of WorldHope Corps, Inc.

He was "graduated with distinction" from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, with a B.A. in Literature and a minor in Psychology (1977). He has an M.A. in Religion from Yale Divinity School (1981) and a Ph.D. in Theological and Religious Studies from Drew University (1997). Currently, his research and writing interests include: apocalyptic eschatology, comparative spirituality, inter-religious theology, asset based community development, and social transformation.

Ordained in the Church of the Nazarene and a clergy member of The United Methodist Church, Dr. Christensen is author or editor of nine books and numerous articles on practical theology and spiritual practice.