Christosis: Pauline Soteriology in Light of Deification in Irenaeus and Cyril of Alexandria

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Mohr Siebeck, 2011 - Religion - 312 pages
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The aim of this thesis is to explore whether and to what extent theosis helpfully captures Paul's presentation of the anthropological dimension of soteriology. Drawing methodologically from Gadamer, Jauss, and Bakhtin, we attempt to hold a conversation between Paul and two of his later interpreters--Irenaeus and Cyril of Alexandria--in order to see what light the development of deification in these later writers shines on the Pauline texts themselves. In Part 1 of the thesis, we analyse how Irenaeus and Cyril develop their notions of deification and how they use Pauline texts in support of their conclusions. Drawing from Ps 82 both writers ascribe to believers the appellation of 'gods', and they associate this primarily with Pauline texts that speak of the experience of immortality, sanctification, and being sons of God. As believers experience this deifying move the image and likeness of God is restored through a participatory relationship with God mediated by Christ and the Spirit. In Part 2 we then analyse the anthropological dimension of Paul's soteriology in Rom 8 and 2 Cor 3-5, with excursus on Gal 3-4, 1 Cor 15, and Phil 2-3. In the context of believers' restored divine-human relationship through Christ and the Spirit, Paul speaks of believers being conformed to the narrative of Christ's death and life, which culminates in an experience of divine and heavenly glory and immortality. In Part 3 we offer a comparison of patristic views of deification and Paul's soteriology. While differences are clear, we conclude that Paul's soteriology overlaps significantly with that of these two later interpreters, such that deification is an apt description of the anthropological dimension of his soteriology. At the same time, christosis is probably a better term in today's context to capture his distinct emphasis on embodying Christ's death and life.

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Deification in Irenaeus
Deification in Cyril of Alexandria
Patristic Summary and Questions for Paul
Deification Models
Romans 8
Overlapping Images of Participation
Veils in 2 Cor 3 1315
Summary of Pauls Soteriology
Overlapping Images of Participation
Comparison of Patristic Notions of Deification
Index of Ancient Sources
Index of Modern Authors

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About the author (2011)

Ben C. Blackwell, Born 1974; 2010 PhD from Durham University (England); 2008-10 Research Assistant to N.T. Wright; currently Assistant Professor of Christianity at Houston Baptist University.

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