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Philosophers + Theosis. John R. Lenz Glossary (ancient sense)  Apotheosis – An elevation to Divine Status. An exceptional grant by a god to a favored.

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Presentation on theme: "Philosophers + Theosis. John R. Lenz Glossary (ancient sense)  Apotheosis – An elevation to Divine Status. An exceptional grant by a god to a favored."— Presentation transcript:

1 Philosophers + Theosis

2 John R. Lenz

3 Glossary (ancient sense)  Apotheosis – An elevation to Divine Status. An exceptional grant by a god to a favored individual.  Conscience – Knowledge of good and evil.  Daimon – A deity or divinity. It has fallen and been incarnated, seeks to escape the physical world to return to the gods.  Hero – In Greek religion, a mortal that becomes a minor deity after death. Was worshipped and could exert power in the world (comparable to a Christian Saint).  Nature – A Greek term that refers to mortal processes: birth, nurture, growth, decay. In Greek mythology, even gods are born and can ‘die’ or be disabled.  Second meaning, as “essence”. Along the lines of Plato’s “forms”.  Nous – Mind, reason. The highest part of us, that which is most godlike within us. Philosopher – One who aspires to ultimate wisdom, possessed only by the gods.  Humans don’t have wisdom, bur rather: love, desire, and eros.  Thumos – The immortal soul, that biologically and psychologically desires immortality.  Virtue – Knowledge.

4 Periods  Hellenistic Period (323-30 BC)  This is the period of neoplatonism (followers of Plato or offshoots thereof). Much of patristic and contemporary commentary makes use of these authors. Hellenic Period (550-323 BC)  The period of some of the greats like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Lenz insists that we ought to look to this period for the roots of Theosis in Christian thought.

5 Introduction Greek philosophy has a central place in religious history in general and Christian tradition in particular (47) -a union of mysticism and rationality in Greek thought -> the human capacity for reason provides the potential for divinity (through the nous, our highest and most god-like part) -but, deification, for the ancient Greek, is only possible for true philosophers like Socrates -> Greek philosophy is about a way of life: a spiritual life, the best kind, comparable to the gods

6 Boundaries  Classical Greek throught stresses boundary between mortals and immortals (48)  Deification involves making a mortal into an immortal  Heros are mortals that have become minor deities  Apotheosis is exceptionally granted to favored individuals to make them immortal (49) In early Greek literature, the world has declined and fallen. The hope of becoming a god has passed: godliness is no longer accessible to mortals. Golden age of heros has ended. -> contrast to the Christian fall of humanity

7 Desire  We have an inner desire for immortality (biological, psychological, from our thumos)  Some Greek writers consider this very worthy because we are like gods biologically and psychologically (gods are born and die)  Other writes find the passions unworthy of divinity  Therefore, our desire to become a god is itself unworthy and disqualifies us from becoming one (50)

8 New Possibilities  Other writers say...maybe we can’t reach the life of the gods, but rather, the unchanging essence of divinity itself  2 nd use of word “nature” as “essence”  Plato and the “real”, “form”  This forms our essential basis for deification

9 Empedocles  Philosophy: The Philosopher as Daimon (50- 51)  Calls himself an undying god: mortal no more  Freeing “daimon” from incarnated life to return to the world of the gods

10 Plato  Cultivating the Immortal Soul  There is reward/punishment after death  Divinity is the ultimate goodness  We can all use the nous to seek immortality, pursuit of wisdom, knowledge, and the Good  ALL can reach this: not privileged for certain individuals  For Socrates, the job of philosophy is to care for the soul for all time, it needs education and training  The soul pre-exists, and will live on

11 Plato Again  Since for Plato, divinity is achievable by all, Lenz says that Plato’s position should appropriately be called Theosis (52)  Only the perfect sage escapes endless reincarnations  Socrates religiously pursues wisdom  Conscience = knowledge of good and evil  Virtue = knowledge  Not just a matter of secular logic, but religion

12 Plato Yet Again  The nous ought to be in charge of things (the spirit: courage, and bodily desires/appetites) (53)  Reason is akin to the gods  Seeking to be morally good, pure, just, pursuing pure knowledge (separation from perception and opinion)  These grounds set up Christianity to be a very rational religion

13 Still More Plato  By ‘reason’, Plato means ‘logic’  But he also means noetic vision, contemplation (theoria) of godly realms  Ultimate reward of disembodied reason  Platonic forms should perhaps better be called “Platonic visions” In Greek theology, the soul is akin to the divine by nature In Western theology, immortality is a gift from God

14 Plato Plato Plato  In Plato’s thought, a Demiurge is the ultimate creator, who desires that all things come as near as possible to being like himself (54)  Therefore, humans rival the other gods, since both of these are creations  But none can take part in the creator’s creatingness  This is akin to Christianity’s take on Theosis, that we cannot partake in God’s essence

15 Aristotle  Aristotle’s word for ‘happiness’ is ‘eudaimonia’ (55)  Means having or being favored by a good daimon  Attributes of such a one: aims at no end beyond itself, has proper pleasure, has self-sufficiency and leisure, is unwearied, and has the other attributes of a blessed (makarios) man

16 Aristotle Numero Two  For Aristotle, god’s activity is contemplation  Contemplation is the human activity that is most like god  But reason enters the body from the outside: therefore, reason has no connection with bodily activity Aristotle’s happiest man strives after wisdom and eventually attains god-like wisdom in his life (56)

17 Random Author’s Comment  Lenz notes that Christianity has often tended to ‘label’ Greek philosophy and the Church in unhealthy ways  Calling Greek philosophy the “spirit” of Christianity, and the Church the “body”  Or vice-versa  Both of these present a poor representation of the continuity of thought in Christianity from Greek thought

18 Epicureans  Epicureans says that the gods have wisdom, and humans don’t (57)  Being a philosopher is aspiring to think like a god  Epicureans strive for peace of mind (tranquility)  Understanding nature and physics is critical for doing ethics (knowledge is emphasized as with others in the Hellenic period)  Perfection = ultimate of reason and virtue (58)

19 Stoics  Stoics prize our autonomy of choice, autonomy, judgment (59)  We are off-shoots of God: we carry Him inside us  The soul is mind only  Spirit = reason = God

20 Christian Re-Focusing  In Peter 1:4 (about partaking of the divine nature), Peter changes the focus from reason (Greek thought) to FAITH (60)  There is a move in Christian imagery from the mind to the heart (61), a very bodily image  John 1:1 – the Logos (reason) became FLESH

21 Interesting Point  The word ‘Theosis’ is only used once in pagan Greek, by Damascius  The Church Fathers developed the word ‘Theosis’ to avoid the connotations related to ‘apotheosis’  Thus, Damascius appears to be using a Christian term

22 QQuestion 1: Greek Philosophy depends highly on reason for its philosophy, yet Christianity often bashes reason over the head with a shovel with a preference for “faith”. What is a healthy balance of “faith” and “reason?” QQuestion 2: Different Hellenic writers spoke of the “philosopher” as daimon or as one deified. This is a “doing” word. What “doing” word should we Christians use to describe ourselves in these terms (e.g. NOT the word “Saint”)?

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