Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Deification in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition: A Biblical Perspective

I just got it yesterday

Deification in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition: A Biblical Perspective

A review of the book:

This leads on to the final chapter of the book where Thomas engages with the event in the Gospels which scripturally reveals the hope of our deification in the story of Christ's transfiguration on Mount Tabor in which the three Apostles see what true restored humanity looks like in the vision of Christ's human body radiating with divine light. Thomas' exegesis of this passage is made even more interesting through the way in which he constructs a multi-faceted perspective on the Transfiguration through narrating the viewpoints of the three Apostles and eye-witnesses that Christ took with him up the Mountain, St. Peter, St. James and St. John. Thomas then goes on to show how their witness of this extraordinary vision, together with Paul's vision of the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus, transformed their theology and their lives through analysing the epistles that the apostles wrote after Christ's Resurrection. Thus, to take just a few examples that Thomas explores in greater depth, in his second Epistle St. Peter writes that through Christ we might 'escape from the corruption … and become partakers of the divine nature' (2 Pet. 1:4) and John the theologian's speaks more poetically of our 'abiding in the light' of Christ to become children of light bearing the same light that Christ showed on Mount Tabor and finally St. Paul, after his Damascan vision of Christ's light, speaks of our being 'changed into his likeness from one degree of glory into another' (2 Cor 3:18). As these few examples indicate, through his full analysis of the writings of the New Testament Thomas demonstrates, against certain Protestant concerns, that the Orthodox belief in deification is clearly biblically grounded.

Thus although from the dust jacket, scholarly ring of the title and formal presentation of the text it might be easy to overlook Thomas' study as another arcane academic tome, I found Thomas' study to be an ideal introductory book to the faith for interested Orthodox lay people, catechumens and non-Orthodox enquirers. For in the course of exploring the Biblical grounds of the Orthodox understanding of deification, Thomas' provides an accessible and luminously clear account of many basic theological and practical issues of Orthodox belief and practice. Moreover, at the end of the book he has also usefully provided a lengthy appendix with helpful bibliographical suggestions of where the interested enquirer can look next.

To read the rest please visit St. GEORGE ORTHODOX INFORMATION SERVICE






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