From Conversion according to Paul and “John” to Theosis in the Greek Patristic Tradition

In: Horizons in Biblical Theology
Athanasios Despotis Universität Bonn, Evangelisch-Theologische Fakultät Bonn GERMANY

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This paper investigates the question of deification in two groups of New Testament texts, i.e. the Pauline Epistles and the “Johannine literature” (fourth Gospel and Epistles of “John”), as well as the Greek patristic tradition. Though a specialized vocabulary referring to deification is missing from these groups of texts, Greek fathers used a very sophisticated combination of Pauline and “Johannine” concepts for the development of their respective theologies of deification. This study tries to explain why the patristic theologies of deification are so closely emulating Paul and “John” and it detects a common line that runs through the background of Paul and “John” as well as the patristic notion of theosis, namely the experience of the beginnings of the Christian life as an ontological transformation, i.e. conversion.

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