"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, August 24, 2020

To Attain the Full Stature of the Perfect Christ

Strolling through the Oxford University Press of forthcoming publications is always a delight, but never more so than when espying names of friends and colleagues, as here: Human Perfection in Byzantine Theology: Attaining the Fullness of Christ by Alexis Torrance  (Oxford UP, December 2020, 256pp.)

Alexis and I gave papers at the Eighth Day Institute in Kansas just over a year ago--though it now feels like another aeon in a distant galaxy far, far away! If you don't know the lovely people of the Institute, and the unique and hopeful and admirable work they are doing--built around that fantastic bookstore--then stop at once and go here.

I've written to Alexis asking for an interview upon publication of his book, about which the publisher tells us this:

To what kind of existence does Christ call us? Christian theology has from its inception posited a powerful vision of humanity's ultimate and eternal fulfilment through the person and work of Jesus Christ. How precisely to understand and approach the human perfection to which the Christian is summoned is a question that has vexed the minds of many and diverse theologians.

Orthodox Christian theology is notable for its consistent interest in this question, and over the last century has offered to the West a wealth of theological insight on the matter, drawn both from the resources of its Byzantine theological heritage as well as its living interaction with Western theological and philosophical currents. In this regard, the important themes of personhood, deification, epektasis, apophaticism, and divine energies have been elaborated with much success by Orthodox theologians; but not without controversy.
Human Perfection in Byzantine Theology addresses the question of human perfection in Orthodox theology via a retrieval of the sources, examining in turn the thought of leading representatives of the Byzantine theological tradition: St Maximus the Confessor, St Theodore the Studite, St Symeon the New Theologian, and St Gregory Palamas. The overarching argument of this study is that in order to present an Orthodox Christian understanding of human perfection which remains true to its Byzantine inheritance, supreme emphasis must be placed on the doctrine of Christ, especially on the significance and import of Christ's humanity. The intention of this work is thus to keep the creative approach to human destiny in Orthodox theology firmly moored to its theological past.

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