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‘becoming God’, the normal term for the transforming effect of grace in Greek patristic and E. Orthodox theology. 2 Pet. 1: 4 (‘that you might become partakers of the Divine nature’) provides the only explicit biblical support for the notion, but it is allied to both Pauline and Johannine thought. St Irenaeus develops the idea that as God shared our life in the Incarnation, so we are destined to share the Divine life and ‘become what He is’. The tenet that God through the Incarnation of His Son has called humans to share the Divine life in His Son, is reiterated by St Athanasius and others. In the E. the teaching received its definitive formulation in the work of St Gregory Palamas, who held that humanity can be united with the Divine energies, though not with the Divine essence. The language of deification has been less prominent in W. theology, but has remained in liturgical prayers and in the teaching of the mystics.

Subjects: Christianity.

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