Mystical Doctrines of Deification: Case Studies in the Christian Tradition, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Mystical Doctrines of Deification

Case Studies in the Christian Tradition, 1st Edition

Edited by John Arblaster, Rob Faesen


192 pages

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Hardback: 9780815393245
pub: 2018-08-31
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The notion of the deification of the human person (theosis, theopoièsis, deificatio) was one of the most fundamental themes of Christian theology in its first centuries, especially in the Greek world. It is often assumed that this theme was exclusively developed in Eastern theology after the patristic period, and thus its presence in the theology of the Latin West is generally overlooked. The aim of this collection is to explore some Patristic articulations of the doctrine in both the East and West, but also to highlight its enduring presence in the Western tradition and its relevance for contemporary thought.

The collection thus brings together a number of capita selecta that focus on the development of theosis through the ages until the Early Modern Period. It is unique, not only in emphasising the role of theosis in the West, but also in bringing to the fore a number of little-known authors and texts, and analysing their theology from a variety of fresh perspectives. Thus, mystical theology in the West is shown to have profound connections with similar concerns in the East and with the common patristic sources.

By tying these traditions together, this volume brings new insight to one of mysticism’s key concerns. As such, it will be of significant interest to scholars of religious studies, mysticism, theology and the history of religion.

Table of Contents


John Arblaster and Rob Faesen

1 Θεοποιεῖσθαι and δοξάζεσθαι: Deification and glorification in Origen’s exegesis of John 13:31-32

Vito Limone

2 "You Can Become All Flame": Deification in Early Egyptian Monasticism

Daniel Lemeni

3 Down by The Lover’s Well: Gregory of Nyssa and Annie Dillard on Divinization

Martin Laird, O.S.A.

4 Plato’s Contribution to Augustine’s Theory of Theosis

Victor Yudin

5 The Reception of the Greek Patristic Doctrine of Deification in the Medieval West: The Case of John Scottus Eriugena

Ernesto Sergio Mainoldi

6 The Dream of the Rood: A Neglected Contemplative Text

Tim Flight

7 Ubi caro mea glorificatur, gloriosum me esse cognosco: Deification in John of Fécamp (c. 990-1078)

Rob Faesen, S.J.

8 The Abyss of Man, The Abyss of Love

Patrick Cooper

9 "Becoming a cross to thyself": Loving humility in The Book of Privy Counselling and Thomas Nagel’s "impersonal standpoint"

Maria Exall

10 The Monk of Farne: A Forgotten Medieval English Mystic

Louise Nelstrop

11 Psychology, Theosis and the Soul: St. Teresa of Avila, St. Augustine and Plotinus on the Western Picture of Theosis

Peter Tyler

12 Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Indifference to Divinization

Jonathan Ciraulo

About the Editors

John Arblaster is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven and the Ruusbroec Institute, University of Antwerp. His research focuses on the doctrine of deification in the mystical literature of the late medieval Low Countries. With Rob Faesen, he co-edited A Companion to John of Ruusbroec (Brill, 2014) and Mystical Anthropology: Authors from the Low Countries (Routledge, 2017). He has published several articles and book chapters, including a contribution to the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Mystical Theology (OUP). He is co-convener (with Louise Nelstrop and Simon D. Podmore) of the Mystical Theology Network.

Rob Faesen S.J. is professor of the history of spirituality and mysticism at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, the Ruusbroec Institute, University of Antwerp, and the School of Catholic Theology, Tilburg University. He has published extensively in the field of medieval mysticism, but also in Jesuit history and spirituality. He was a member of the editorial team responsible for the new critical edition of the works of John of Ruusbroec, and has authored and co-authored numerous contributions.

About the Series

Contemporary Theological Explorations in Mysticism

This series facilitates new points of synergy and fresh theological engagements with Christian mystical traditions. Reflecting the plurality of theological approaches to Christian mystical theology, books in the series cover historical, literary, practical, and systematic perspectives as well as philosophical, psychological, and phenomenological methods.

Although the primary focus of the series is the Christian tradition, exploration of texts from other traditions also highlight the theological, psychological and philosophical questions that Christian mysticism brings to the fore.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Medieval
HISTORY / Social History
RELIGION / General
RELIGION / Christianity / History
RELIGION / History
RELIGION / Mysticism
RELIGION / Christian Theology / General
RELIGION / Theology
RELIGION / Christian Church / History