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Even the biblical basis of the patristic doctrine of human divinization seems, at first sight, far from solid. There are few explicit texts, all of a clearly Hellenistic stamp, such as Wisd 2:23 o` qeo.j e;ktisen to.n a;nqrwpon evpV avfqarsi,a and 6:18ff. aphtharsia; Acts 17:28 citation of ps.-Epimenides and Aratus, 2 Pet 1:4 koinonoi. The biblical foundation is much more solid than it appears, however, as long as one makes use of the Scriptural evidence without forcing it. Texts concerning human beings as God’s image Gen 1:26- 27, divine sonship Gal 4:5ff.; Rom 8:15, imitation of God Mt 5:44-48 and of Christ Phil 2:5-11, and texts presenting the new life of Christians as a pledge and anticipation of future glory 1 Cor 13:12; 2 Cor 3:18; 1 Jn 3:1-3, must all be considered in this light. Reinterpreting, in particularly open milieus, this rich heritage of the biblical tradition, esp. the Johannine, Pauline and Wisdom literature, Christian authors soon began to develop the theology of divinization.
Early on, the apostolic fathers and the Greek apologists saw the intimate union of human beings with God in an eschatological perspective, stressing the divine gift of immortality aphtharsia, assured by Jesus’ resurrection and by the Eucharist, and conferred in the Lord’s parousia Ign., Eph. 4,2; Polyc. the context of true philosophy Dial. 1, his disciple Tatian presents the human being’s destined immortality as an assimilation to God to be attained in gnosis Orat. 12f.. It is in Theophilus, however, that the technical vocabulary of divinization first appears Autol. 2,24; 27. All these references to immortality, divine privilege to be conceded to those who live by faith in Christ, were not limited only to eschatological hope, but they were nevertheless only somewhat occasional.