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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

For certain Christians, the word theosis raises red flags. The very mentioning of theosis inevitably conjures up images of Zeus or Thor, as well as many other mythological themes and stories that blur the boundary between the divine and the human. A closer look at the history of Christian thought will reveal that theosis is very closely linked to the basic question that Jesus himself posed: ‘who do you say that I am?’ If Christianity begins with the proclamation of Jesus as the Messiah, Christian thought throughout the centuries is a history of debate on the answer to this basic question. The Christian affirmation of theosis emerges as a particular response to this question, one that experiences the messianic message of Jesus as the presencing of the divine, both in the person of Jesus and in the human being. This Christian understanding of theosis thus constitutes one of the clearest examples of ‘mystical theology’ both in the sense of how the experience of Jesus as the Christ informed particular Christian expressions about God, and how, in turn, such theological articulations continued to shape the Christian experience of the presencing of the divine. This chapter will look to the past to demonstrate how theosis was at the heart of the amplification of the Christian understanding of God as Trinity and the Christian understanding of virtue.

Keywords: theosis, deification, mystical, theology, trinity, Maximus, virtue, love, politics, violence.

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