Quote:It was one reason why I asked whether there were any Coptic commentators we can read on this. I tend to end up reading Fr. Tadros Malaty, whose work I much enjoy and from whom I learn much, but it would be good to have some other Oriental Orthodox commentators.
As Kirk may be able to testify, theosis is replete in Syrian Orthodox theology. From about the 6th century onwards, one finds the term metallhanuta
, a passive formation from a verb allah, 'to divinise', which corresponds exactly to the Greek theosis; there are also verbal forms used, active and passive. The term is found in a number of different writers and in Syrian Orthodox liturgical texts as well (especially in the long prose prayers known as Sedre).
H.G. Paulos Mar Gregorios of the Indian Orthodox Church is very heavy on theosis. I have his book Cosmic Man, which is a study and analysis of St Gregory of Nyssa's theology, as well as an evaluation of scholarship's treatment of St Gregory's theology. One key text on theosis from that book is: "The very nature of humanity is to be like God, for that is what it means to be created in the image of God. The more humanity becomes like God, the more it becomes itself. Theosis is anthropesis."
I recently purchased H.H. Aram I's "For a Church Beyond its Walls." This book is primarily concerned with ecumenical and ecclesiological issues, but H.H. nevertheless uses the term theosis when discussing the concept of Grace. H.H. Aram I is, as you may know, the Armenian Orthodox Catholicos of Antelias, and he appears to have very good relations with Pope Shenouda. I am doing everything I can to try and get into contact with him in any way possible, but it seems next to impossible to do so.
With regard to Coptic clergy and theologians:
You may want to consider the following article written by a Coptic priest who, for whatever reason, remains anonymous: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.saintgeorgechurch.org.au/Deification.pdf">http://www.saintgeorgechurch.org.au/Deification.pdf</a><!-- m -->
As you can see the above work is uploaded on the website of St George Coptic Church in Sydney, which is under the direction of Fr. Matthew Attia. While he was a layman, Fr. Matta Attia wrote a very short and simple work titled "Blessings upon Blessings" which has a short segment on theosis.
HG Bishop Youssef of the Southern Diocese of the United States advocates theosis on the official Southern Diocese website. In his article "Baptism: Crowning Back into the Original Glory", His Grace states:
By adoption, we all become sons of God through the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Through this adoption, we have become everything God is, except for His Divine nature. Retaining our human nature, we can still become members of His family through Grace. The process of growing in the knowledge of the Lord and His Word is called deification. Deification simply means growing in grace; according to what God is by nature. According to the Churchs teachings, to grow in grace one must believe in and be faithful to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Source: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://suscopts.org/resources/literature/290/baptism-crowning-back-into-the-original-glory/">http://suscopts.org/resources/literatur ... nal-glory/</a><!-- m -->
In the Q and A section of that website, His Grace responds to a query on theosis:
Theosis or Deification means "union with God" taken from the Greek Theos - God, and the word Enosis - union. Our Lord Jesus Christ asked God the Father "They also may be one in us" (Jn 17:21). He also gave us the command of Theosis "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect" (Mt 5:48), our goal in life is to accomplish perfect union with God through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Man was created in the image and likeness of God, and then sin created a gap between God and mankind, causing damage to our souls. All Christians through baptism receive the seed of Theosis, which is not only to the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation and justification, but also a restoration of God's image. The sinful inclination of our human nature should not govern our behavior anymore; instead we should strive to live a holy life looking towards Jesus Christ the author of our faith, and growing in His knowledge and sonship. The restoration and sanctification of Theosis brings us back into relationship with the Creator. St. Athanasius' presentation of Theosis was summarized as "the reintegration of the divine image of man's creation through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit conforming the redeemed into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and also of the believer's transition from mortality to immortality so that he is enabled to participate in the eternal bliss and glory of the kingdom of God."
Our full union with God is a union with the "energies" of God. These energies, while an extension of God, are not to be confused with the "essence" or "substance" of God, which is unknown by humans and is shared only by the Holy Trinity. Our union with God will not make us gods but will make us partners in the Divine nature in works not in essence. We will not acquire the unique characteristics of God such as being the Creator, the Omnipotent, the Omnipresent, but it will make us partners with Him in building the Kingdom by our own salvation and by winning the souls of others to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Source: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.suscopts.org/q&a/index.php?qid=649&catid=383">http://www.suscopts.org/q&a/index.php?qid=649&catid=383</a><!-- m -->
A contemporary Coptic Orthodox priest of the United States, Fr Matthew Wahba, wrote his thesis on "The Doctrine of Sanctification in St. Athanasius? Paschal Letters" (the foreword of this published work was actually written by Bishop Kallistos Ware). Fr. Matthew Wahba discusses theosis therein.
"Come and incline your ear to the voice of your Mother who gives you life by the sweet music of her voice. Come and suck the sweet milk of Orthodox doctrine from the living breast of the Mother who bore you" - St Philoxenus of Mabug