The Doctrine of Theosis in the Thought of Gregory of Nazianzus Restricted; Files Only

Harris, Brendan Alexander (Fall 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/2514nm487?locale=es
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Abstract

This dissertation offers an in-depth investigation of Gregory’s account of deification, which is also the first book-length study of Gregory’s soteriology in forty years. This study considers Gregory’s entire corpus in order to determine what Gregory means when he speaks of the human as being, in some sense, “divine”, “a god”, or “deified”. I argue that Gregory believes that deification consists in union with God, and that this concept of deifying union serves to integrate various diverse soteriological themes into a coherent account of salvation. I pursue this thesis over six chapters. In chapter one I argue that Gregory believes that the angels are divine on account of their union with God. Chapter one sets up chapter two, in which I argue that human beings, while intended to share in the divine life of the angels, are created lesser than the angels because they are not divine from the moment of their creation. In chapter three I turn to Gregory’s account of the deification of Christ’s humanity, which comprises both the model and the basis for the deification of human beings in general. I argue that Christ’s human is deified in virtue of its union with the divine Word and that Gregory appropriates Neo-Platonic models of “mixture”/“blending” in order to explain this union. I then turn in chapter four to Gregory’s understanding of the Holy Spirit as the agent of deification. I argue that Gregory believes that the Spirit deifies those in whom the Spirit dwells by uniting them to God, a union he once again understands in terms of Neo-Platonic models of “mixture”/”blending”. In chapter 5 I argue that Gregory understands the monastic life as providing the practices by means of which human beings can be deified in this life because it brings them to share in the life of the angels and enables their minds to ascent to union with the divine light. Finally, in chapter six I argue that the righteous will share in the heavenly life of the angels in the afterlife by being united to God.

Table of Contents

Introduction...................................................................1

Chapter One: Theosis and the Angels..........................14

Chapter Two: Theosis and Creation.............................35

Chapter Three: Theosis and Christ...............................55

Chapter Four: Theosis and The Holy Spirit................110

Chapter Five: Theosis and The Monastic Life............142

Chapter Six: Theosis and the Afterlife........................180

Conclusion....................................................................207

Bibliography.................................................................211

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