DIVINIZATION

It is clear that the divinization of human beings was a fundamental theme of patristics, esp. the Greek. Unfortunately, its consideration by Ritschl and his followers as, along with sacramentalism, a typical case of the Hellenization of the gospel, means that to this day its study has been compromised by more or less partial debates on certain unilateral premises, such as Christ’s assumption of universal human nature, salvation by means of a physical contact between divinity and humanity in Christ, and the absorption of human beings into God. But research on divinization has also been greatly complicated by the historical data itself. The relevant vocabulary, for example, underwent a considerable evolution. Theopoiein and its various forms appear only from Clement of Alexandria on Lampe 630f.. Under the influence of ps.-Dionysius, theosis assumed more importance than theopoiesis Lampe 649f.. The equivalent Latin terms, deificare and deificatio, obtained a rather modest importance only in the 5th c. Blaise 250; ThLL 5,403f.. The reality itself, however, was expressed by many other words, both Greek and Latin, such as aphtharsia, methexis, koinonia, henosis, glorificatio, profectus ad Deum, etc. The anthropological premises, moreover, vary according to author, since they don’t all evaluate Adam’s intimacy with God and hence the injurious consequences of his sin in the same way. The theological and christological premises were equally diverse: the way they were conceived corresponded to how the divine transcendence was understood. This problem includes a not unimportant tension between divinization understood as a work carried out by Christ the savior, and divinization seen as a divine action carried out in souls, i.e., between Jesus’ assumption of humanity and the union of Christ with the church.


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