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By Norman Russell

Deification within the Greek patristic culture used to be the success of the future for which humanity was once created - no longer in basic terms salvation from sin yet access into the fullness of the divine lifetime of the Trinity. This e-book, the 1st at the topic for over sixty years, lines the historical past of deification from its delivery as a second-century metaphor with biblical roots to its adulthood as a doctrine principal to the religious lifetime of the Byzantine Church. Drawing awareness to the richness and variety of the patristic techniques from Irenaeus to Maximus the Confessor, Norman Russell deals an entire dialogue of the historical past and context of the doctrine, whilst highlighting its distinctively Christian personality.

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The normal Jewish attitude was one of loyalty and accommodation. Only under pressure does Deification in the Graeco-Roman World 25 Philo insist on the merely human nature of the emperor in comparison with the one God who is ‘the Father and Maker of the world’. The apparent disloyalty of Christians, on the other hand, attracted the attention of the authorities early on. In response the Apologists took pains to explain the Christian attitude and protest their loyalty. ’ (1 Apol. 21). Justin is here generalizing for polemical effect.

When Christians refused to sacrifice to the gods, sacrifice to the emperor was often offered by the judge as an easy way out: ‘at least’ sacrifice to the emperor, defendants were told. The authorities simply wanted a gesture of respect for tradition and of loyalty to the emperor (Lane Fox 1986: 425–6). The imperial cult itself was not the main issue. Indeed, in the Eastern empire it survived the official adoption of Christianity with only the most essential modifications. Under Constantine temple and cult were allowed to continue provided there were no sacrifices.

Groups of men met in windowless chapels––‘caves’ they were called, although the imagery of Mithraic myth is astral rather than chthonic––where their worship seems to have aimed at a transcending of the world. There were seven grades of initiation, corresponding to an ascent through the seven planetary spheres. The goal of the worshipper was to become one with the cosmos. ‘I alone’, says a fragment of a Mithraic liturgy, ‘may ascend into heaven as an enquirer and behold the universe’ (P. Graec. Mag.

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