Archive for the ‘Theosis’ Category

Already Glorified? (Rom 8:30)

Monday, October 19th, 2009

In Romans 8:30 Paul asserts that those who were predestined, called, and justified were also glorified. What could it mean? Many (though not all—see, e.g., Cranfield and Jewett) commentators argue that it does not refer literally to a past (or ongoing) event or experience. They stand on a rather firm foundation of texts such as 5:2 (“our hope of sharing the glory of God”) and 8:17-18 (“…so that we may also be glorified with him… the glory about to be revealed to us”)—plus a healthy fear of any “theology of glory.” They offer several different interpretations of the aorist:

• the proleptic, futuristic, or prophetic aorist: a future action is so certain that it may be narrated in the past tense (many)
• the properly theological use of the aorist (my term): a future action is already complete from the timeless, eternal perspective of God (Keck)
• the a-historical use of the aorist (my-term): like “predestined,” “glorified” expresses a view of salvation events that occur outside of time as we know it, unlike “called” and “justified,” which refer to events within time (Dunn)
• the punctiliar/non-temporal aorist: an action is perceived and described with respect to its aspect (one-time or completed character), not its temporality

While each of these interpretations could make sense of the text in isolation, or in connection only with other texts that clearly refer to the believing community’s future experience of glory, I wonder if these explanations sufficiently recognize the present reality of glory that Paul describes in 2 Cor 3:18 or, more importantly, whether they connect “glory” to the totality of that theme in Romans. Here is the question: Has the glorification of humanity already begun? Can it be said, in some sense, to be a past/present reality as well as a future reality? If so, what does that mean, especially in Romans?

What do people think about this?

More Online Reviews of “Inhabiting”

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Professor Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary has a generous review of Inhabiting the Cruciform God at the Denver Seminary site .  I’m grateful to Craig.

And here’s another, by a former student named Lyle Brecht, from a political angle. He told me a version of it will be published in Political Theology, too.

Interviewed by Ben Blackwell

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

My friend and fellow dévoté of theosis Ben Blackwell has graciously interviewed me about my new book, Inhabiting the Cruciform God, over on his blog, Dunelm Road. (The first link goes to the first of the four parts of the interview.)

Ben is at the University of Durham (Latin = Dunelm) wrapping up a PhD on the possibility of theosis in Paul through reading him via the early Fathers of the Church. He is also the research assistant to a fairly prominent bishop.

Theosis and Mission: The Conversation Continues

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Recently David Congdon, a Ph.D. candidate in systematic theology at my alma mater (Princeton Seminary) who has a fine theology blog called Fire and Rose, raised some excellent questions about my new book Inhabiting the Cruciform God. The questions were posed especially in light of my commitment to a missional hermeneutic. The ensuing conversation was buried in the comments of an earlier post, and I thought that it was sufficiently significant to create a new post repeating them. So here, with David’s permission, is that conversation. He and others of you are welcome to join in.

DWC = David
MJG = me

DWC:

This [the missional hermeneutics program on Philippians at SBL] looks excellent. I celebrate the rise of missional hermeneutics and I hope it gains a wide hearing.

But I have a question. I’m working on a review of your latest book, and while there is much that I like about it, I am unsettled by the total absence of mission from your exegesis. This is apparent in many places where you speak about the faithfulness, holiness, and cruciform love of the community—but you never once mention witness, proclamation, or mission. As far as I can tell, you never connect the sending of the Son by the Father with the sending of the community through Word and Spirit. For the most part, this wouldn’t be hard to fix: you could simply clarify that when you talk about faith, hope, and love you intend this to be inclusive of the community’s life of missional obedience.

The problem becomes especially apparent in the chapter on holiness. A lot of what you say here is excellent, except for the lack of mission. But this is key. You speak about holiness as cruciform and communal love for the other. Where is the act of proclamation and witness to the gospel? If holiness is defined by Christ, then holiness is not about being “set apart” from the world but about being “sent into the far country,” as Barth would put it. Holiness is precisely to be sent into the world, to be in concrete solidarity with the poor and persecuted. I don’t think you deny any of that, but the focus on holy sex and holy politics makes it seem like holiness is something that can be accomplished “internally,” so to speak. I would rather define holiness in terms of our “going out,” our centrifugal activity as a community of faith.

Another important issue has to do with ontology and what constitutes the being of the community. And here is where I think the lack of mission connects with your thesis on theosis. The lack of any discussion of ontology is maybe the one thing most missing from the book, and it’s almost a death-blow to your main thesis—in part because theosis has always implied some kind of ontology, and you can have ontological participation in God without theosis (see Barth). But that aside, the question is whether there is any “gap” between being and act in your ecclesiology, which is then a question of whether there is a “gap” between being and act in your doctrine of God. Missional theology defines God’s being in terms of mission (act), and the same goes for ecclesiology. I feel like, in your book, you come up to the point of saying that the being of the church is in act, but you never actually say it. You say that the obedience of faith is “inherently a participation in the being . . . of God” (p. 93), but you don’t make the crucial reverse move: that participation in God is inherently (and we ought to add, solely) our obedience of faith. Your account needs an actualistic ontology in order to be suitable for a missional hermeneutic. Otherwise there is a substance that participates in God apart from mission. I don’t think you want that, but it isn’t explicitly clear in the text.

All in all, though, it’s a fine book. But the lack of mission is conspicuous and troubling.

MJG:

David, I appreciate much of what you say, and I admit that much of my thinking on missional hermeneutics is developing—literally—day by day. But I think you may have missed some of the at least implicit (and even explicit) missional language in the book. I will try to write more about this when it’s not 1 a.m., but the most important dimensions would be (1) the inseparability of the vertical and horizontal in justification, with the stress on justice (chap. 2) and (2) nonviolence, which is of course about being and action vis-à-vis the world constituted as real or potential enemy.

Furthermore, even in the chapter on holiness, I speak of participation and theosis as other-centered love, and I do not restrict that to the Christian community. Is that not missional? And is not “holy politics” outwardly oriented? See especially p. 128.

As for ontology, I hope I make it clear that being and act in God are inseparable (chap. 1) and therefore at least imply the same for the church and ecclesiology.

I think there is more centrifugal movement in the book than you have noted, and I would hope you could look again before publishing the review!

Oh—one other thing. Please remember that as a sequence to Cruciformity, this book is taking a rhetorical stab at scholarship that divides participation in Christ from participation in God, and at piety that divides faith from obedience.

I am grateful for you compliments and critique.

MJG:

Two other quick thoughts, David.
1. As you probably noted, Richard Hays blurbed the book, concluding his endorsement with the words “Gorman’s book points the way forward for understanding the nonviolent, world-transforming character of Paul’s gospel.” If the missional dimension is really conspicuously absent, then Richard completely misread the book. But I don’t think so. On the other hand, his phrase “points the way forward” suggests that a direction has been set yet there is more work to do, and I indicate as much in the book’s introduction.

2. When I speak about theosis and/or participation, I am understanding those terms narratively, as the book’s subtitle conveys. Again, there is much more to say, but it seems to me that a narrative approach to Pauline soteriology (which I think is absolutely essential to understanding Paul) is inherently missional. Or, in the words of Brian Blount quoted in chap. 2, justification is “kinetic.”

DWC:

Thanks for the responses. I certainly recognize everything you’ve said. And I am in complete agreement with you on basically all of these points, esp. the issue of politics and justice. But I think a properly missional theology has to recognize that our political witness cannot be divorced from the ecclesial act of witness to Jesus Christ. Of course, our political witness is itself an act of witness, but the language of witness and proclamation and discipleship is, from what I can tell, wholly absent from the book. There is also no language of the church “being sent.”

I have an essay in the Journal of Theological Interpretation (2.2, 2008) on the Trinitarian shape of faith in Galatians. I make the missiological element central. I think you’ll find a lot to agree with, especially since I too stress the participatory element.

I do have other critiques on the theosis issue, but that’s separate from the question of mission. I’m happy to discuss those issues as well.

DWC:

Most of my critiques of your book can all be found in some form on p. 93, and I’d like to quote one section that demonstrates the conspicuous lack of mission:

“For Paul theosis takes place in the person and especially the community that is in Christ and within whom/within which Christ resides, as his Spirit molds and shapes the individual and community into the cruciform image of Christ. But this process of transformation takes some human cooperation, including especially contemplation of the exalted crucified One (2 Cor. 3:18). For Paul, this is not merely a form of ancient, perhaps vacuous, mysticism, but a sustained reflection on, and identification with, the narrative pattern of Christ crucified and of its paradoxical power to bring life out of death (2 Cor. 4:7-12), all enabled by God himself at work in the individual and community (Phil. 2:12-13). This sustained reflection and identification begin in the public act of faith and baptism and continue throughout one’s life in Christ …”

Setting aside the issue of cooperation which raises problems regarding the relation between divine and human agency, the biggest concern for me is how you define the process of transformation. The words you use are “contemplation of,” “reflection on,” and “identification with.” While I know you want to define these acts in terms of our active life in the world, what is implied here is that we are transformed first through an inner process of contemplation and reflection which then (and only then) plays itself out in a life of obedience and love in the world. There is an implicit separation here between our vertical participation and our horizontal obedience, despite your rejection of this separation. The fact that you even have to say that this isn’t “merely” mysticism is telling. Furthermore, the lack of mission is all too apparent.

I think you should have dropped the language of cooperation (without heavy qualification), and then replaced the language of contemplation with something like: our identification with the crucified Christ is actualized in our active witness and correspondence to his life of faithful obedience to the Father through the Spirit.

MJG:

David,

Thanks for the ongoing critique. I think, however, that mission is implicit in your quote from p. 93, though it could have, and indeed should have, been more explicit. I cannot avoid the “contemplative” character of a text like 2 Cor 3, although for Paul and his communities this contemplation is embodied in cruciform personal and communal public existence. I am afraid that perhaps you go too far in neglecting the aspects of Paul’s thought and experience that might be called mystical (e.g. revelations and visits to heaven) and doxological (hymns, worship). These are for Paul foundational to and formative of the practices in the world that you term “faithful obedience.” Paul sees Jesus as the true glory of the true God and worships him as such, inviting others to do the same and then (using your words) actualizing that reality and its inseparable narrative in the world. To use contemporary terms, there is a difference between contemplation/worship and action (vertical and horizontal) though they are inseparable; this is spiritually and doxologically based witness/mission.

My mistake on 93 was to stop at Phil 2:13 instead of going on to the following verses that imply a mission in the world (though the tone of my sentences suggests that). I certainly also could have/should have been more explicit about the church’s task of proclamation, but to say that the call to discipleship, and the content of discipleship, are missing from this book is a puzzle to me.

I hope that my SBL paper on Phil 2 will make more explicit what was sometimes only implicit (not missing) in the book.

DWC:

Just to note one more example: there is no discussion of 1 Cor. 9:19-23 anywhere in the book. You cite v. 19 in reference to Paul’s “enslavement” as an example of a Christlikeness (p. 23), but you nowhere connect this self-enslavement to Paul’s life of witness to the Gentiles, his pursuit of becoming all things to all people in order to “win” them to Christ, the translation of the gospel to other cultures, and other such missional themes.

This is what I mean by the lack of discipleship, even though you are right that discipleship as such is not missing. The book is all about “being a disciple,” but I don’t see anything about “making disciples.”

MJG:

David,

Thanks again for your input. Four quick points:

1. You are correct that the book is primarily about being a disciple, not making disciples. But I would argue that that my focus is primarily what Paul’s letters are about, and my task in writing this book is to interpret the theology, etc. found in those letters.

2. The debate is quite vigorous at the moment about whether Paul expected his communities to evangelize (however that is defined); I think he did expect them to do so, and I think they did (this will come out in my SBL paper)–but the word evangelize needs to be carefully defined. In any event, the task of making disciples (in the sense of converts) is not Paul’s primary focus in the letters, and therefore not in my book.

3. It is important to note that this book, as the Introduction states quite clearly, is a sequel to my 2001 book Cruciformity, which is closer to a full-blown Pauline theology. Inhabiting in many ways presumes and builds upon Cruciformity, where lots of topics and texts not covered in Inhabiting are treated. Among these is 1 Cor 9:19-23, which figures quite prominently in Cruciformity. I treat Paul’s narrative missional posture and activity in that book, and I also have a discussion of “The Missionary Character of the Colony” (363-66) in my chapter on the church.

4. Having said all that, I will be the first to admit that both I and the majority of Pauline scholars have a LONG way to go in reading Paul’s letters missionally. Let’s hope that this conversation contributes to that enterprise. I have written elsewhere that “theological interpretation” is insufficient if it does not lead to missional interpretation and thus mission. I very much appreciate your excellent JTI article on Galatians, which I have read on two occasions. It’s good to have a systematic theologian working so closely with the text of Paul and pushing all of us in good directions.

DWC:

That’s very helpful; thanks. Let me just state for the record that your book is really an excellent work that I have far more praise for than criticism. Thanks for engaging my questions so thoughtfully and kindly.

MJG:

Let the conversation continue and the conversation partners multiply!

SBL 2009 (part 1): Romans and Theosis

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

The annual Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) meeting, held each year the week before Thanksgiving (Friday-Tuesday), will be in New Orleans this year. There is quite an interesting lineup of sessions and papers. I will be giving one major paper, participating in a panel, and giving a presentation at one of the “Additional Meetings.”

My major paper this year is in the following session from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 21:

Theological Hermeneutics of Christian Scripture
11/21/2009
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room TBD – Hotel TBD
Theme: Romans as Christian Theology
A. Katharine Grieb, Virginia Theological Seminary, Presiding

Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Princeton Theological Seminary
Reading for the Subject: Conflict and Lordship in Romans 14 (25 min); abstract here
Discussion (10 min)

Richard B. Hays, Duke University
Spirit, Church, Eschatology: The Third Article of the Creed as Hermeneutical Lens for Reading Romans (25 min); abstract here
Discussion (10 min)

Michael J. Gorman, Saint Mary’s Seminary and University
Romans: The First Christian Treatise on Theosis (25 min); abstract here
Discussion (45 min)

Here is the abstract of my paper from the link above:

In a recent book, Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology, I have argued that Paul’s notion of cruciformity is really theoformity or, as the Christian tradition (especially in the East) has called it, deification, divinization, or theosis: becoming like God. That is, union with Christ in his death and resurrection is participation in the very life of God, effecting transformation by the Spirit into Christ the image of God; the result, Spirit-empowered Christlikeness, is actually Godlikeness. This paper explores this overall interpretation of Paul by examining the presence of the theosis motif in Romans, beginning with 8:29. It argues that a central subject of Romans is in fact theosis, understood as present and future restoration of the image and glory of God through incorporation into, and conformity to, the Son of God. The prominence of this motif in Romans reveals that this letter, even in its pastoral and political particularity, is simultaneously the first extended Christian treatment of theosis. Because theosis is sometimes misunderstood as a private spiritual experience, this paper will demonstrate the communal and cruciform character of theosis as its practical implications are developed by Paul in chapters 9-11 and then 12-15, implications with ongoing significance for theological interpreters.

This should be a very interesting session for several reasons: Beverly Gaventa is working on a commentary on Romans; Richard Hays continues to read Paul theologically and creatively; they have worked together on a new translation of Romans; and I am trying to flesh out my most recent book and its claims through a particular letter; I expect some strong “pushback,” as they say, from some quarters.

Douglas Campbell on Justification

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Duke professor Douglas Campbell’s much-anticipated new book on Paul’s soteriology, and justification in particular, will soon be out. The title is The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul. This HUGE volume (almost 1400 pages!) will be a controversial book, to put it mildly. In substance, Campbell’s overall reading of Paul is very similar to mine, especially as articulated in Inhabiting the Cruciform God, though we do not agree on some major issues and arrive at our conclusions differently and separately.

Here is my blurb for his new book:

Douglas Campbell’s continuation of the quest for Paul’s gospel is a bold exercise in deconstruction and reconstruction. One may disagree with parts of his analysis, or take a somewhat different route to the same destination, but there is no doubt in my mind about his overall thesis: for Paul, justification is liberative, participatory, transformative, Trinitarian, and communal. This is a truly theological and ecumenical work with which all serious students of Paul must now come to terms.

The price is phenomenally low ($60) for the length, and Amazon’s discount is currently 37%.

Campbell uses the word “theosis” at least twice in this book. He also has an argument for nonviolence grounded in Paul. Both of these are of course near and dear to my heart.

Returning to a missional hermeneutic next week.

A Missional Hermeneutic: Initial Thoughts

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

While many of us have begun to wrestle once again with the meaning of theological interpretation, some of us have also become interested more particularly in the relationship between the study of the church (ecclesiology) and the study of Scripture, with a renewed emphasis on mission becoming integral to each of these disciplines and to their interrelationship.

This development is not a move toward a new colonialism in which the more powerful and “Christian” West and North missionizes and colonizes the weaker and “pagan” East and South. Rather, taking its cue from the leading Western theologians of mission (missiologists) from the past half-century, as well as from Christian voices from the two-thirds world, this development takes a decidedly postcolonial approach and, for Western practitioners, a post-Christendom approach to mission and to biblical interpretation.

This new approach is grounded in the theological principle of the missio Dei, or mission of God. This term summarizes the conviction that the Scriptures of both Testaments bear witness to a God who, as creator and redeemer of the world, is already on a mission. Indeed, God is by nature a missional God, who is seeking not just to save “souls” to take to heaven some day, but to restore and save the created order: individuals, communities, nations, the environment, the world, the cosmos. (This implies a certain understanding of salvation, which I have put forward in the forthcoming NIDB article on that topic and will summarize in a later post.) This triune God calls the people of God assembled in the name of Christ—who was the incarnation of the divine mission—and empowered by the Spirit to participate in the missio Dei: to discern what God is up to in the world, and to join in. This means also, then, that mission is at the heart of theosis (participation in God and transformation into Godlikeness) and theosis at the heart of mission.

This way of understanding mission has many implications, only a few of which may be mentioned here briefly:

1. Mission is not a part of the church’s life (represented locally by a small line item in the budget) but the whole, the essence of the church’s existence; mission is comprehensive.

2. Mission is not the church’s initiative but its response, its participation in God’s mission; mission is derivative.

3. Mission is not an extension of Western (or any other) power, culture, and values; rather, it is specifically participation in the coming of the kingdom of God. It is therefore critical of all attempts to coerce Christian mission for implicit or explicit political purposes other than the “politics” of the reign of God—the realities of new life, peace, and justice (shalom) promised by the prophets, inaugurated by Jesus, and first spread to the world by the apostles. For Christians in the West, it is crucial that they recognize the failure of Christendom as something to be welcomed, and that they see the church appropriately and biblically as a distinctive subculture within a larger, non-Christian culture. Mission is theo- and Christocentric.

4. Mission is not unidirectional (e.g., West to East) but reciprocal.

5. Mission must become the governing framework within which all biblical interpretation takes place; mission is hermeneutical.

My recent experience in Cameroon especially solidified for me the connection between mission and theosis. When the church participates in any aspect of the mission of God (e.g., healing the sick), it is more and more transformed into the likenesss of God even as it acts, by grace, as an agent of that transformation in others. To read Scripture from within a missional hermeneutic is wonder how a text both manifests and mandates mission.

To be continued…

Theosis and Mission

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Following up on the previous blog, I want to note that over at The New Exodus Chuck DeGroat has a nod to my book and (more importantly) insightful words on theosis and mission (well, he calls it theosis vs. neurosis). Great stuff. Churck is a pastor, professor, and pastoral counselor/psychologist.

Justification Jumble

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

With the publication of Tom Wright’s new book, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision, the debate about justification has been reopened. (By the way, I endorsed this book [see below], as if Tom needed anyone’s endorsement to get them to buy and read it! The blurb is inside the front of the book in the British edition, where I suspect it will also be in the American version when it arrives later this month.)

There are in fact (at least) three important books on justification this year: Tom’s, my own (Inhabiting the Cruciform God; please pardon the self-promotion), and Douglas Campbell’s massive volume, The Deliverance of God, due out this summer.

There is actually significant convergence among these three books despite their significant differences. The bottom line is this: justification without participation is unPauline, and therefore justification without transformation and action is unPauline–in part because it is unJewish, uncovenantal, unJesus. Wright sees justification and participation as two equally significant foci (pp. 201-202, British ed.); I see them as two sides of the same coin, with Paul redefining justification in terms of participation; and Campbell sees them (I think) similarly to me, but with a stronger emphasis on liberation and a far more polemical critique of what he calls “contractual” models of justification.

In addition, the three of us agree (with differing emphases) that we need to move beyond the old-perspective/new-perspective dichotomy. We also agree (again, with differing emphases) that the word theosis may help us articulate what Paul is up to. (This word does not appear in Tom’s book, but he has been occasionally using it elsewhere, and his research assistant is writing a dissertation on theosis and Paul; it appears once in Douglas’s book; and it is in the subtitle of my book: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology).

Three quotations from my own book (rightly highlighted by Halden over at Inhibatio Dei) stress both what I am opposed to—cheap justification—and what I am arguing for—covenantal, transformative, participatory justification.

There have always been legitimate theological arguments about justification, as well as less noble but understandable interconfessional squabbles. But it may also be the case that there is another, more subtle (and thus more dangerous) theological reason for at least some aspects of the current situation regarding justification. To paraphrase Dietrich Bonhoeffer, parts of the Christian church have become enamoured with cheap justification. Cheap justification is justification without justice, faith without love, declaration without transformation.” (p. 41)

… Paul has not two soteriological models (juridical and participationist) but one, justification by co-crucifixion, meaning restoration to right covenantal relations with God and others by participation in Christ’s quintessential covenantal act of faith and love on the cross; this one act fulfilled by of the “vertical” and “horizontal” requirements of the Law, such that those who participate in it experience the same life-giving fulfillment of the Law and therein begin the paradoxical, christologically grounded process of resurrection through death. That is, they have been initiated into the process of conformity to the crucified Christ (cruciformity, Christification), who is the image of God—and thus the process of theoformity, or theosis.” (p. 45)

That is to say, justification is finally about faith (faithfulness), hope, and love:

Justification is the establishment of right covenantal relations—fidelity to God and love for neighbor—by means of God’s grace in Christ’s death and our Spirit-enabled co-crucifixion with him. Justification therefore means co-resurrection with Christ to hew life within the people of God and the certain hope of acquittal/vindication, and thus resurrection to eternal life on the day of judgment.” (pp. 85-86)

If there is going to be a true discussion, debate, or whatever we wish to call it, it will simply not due either to call names or to claim that this or that view does (or does not) faithfully continue the Reformers’ views. The real—the only—issue is whether a view faithfully represents and interprets Paul.

My endorsement of Tom Wright’s book:

Like Paul himself writing to the Galatians, Bishop Tom expounds and defends in this book his interpretation of the apostle’s teaching on justification with passion and power. At the same time, he seeks to move beyond divisive categories so that Paul can speak from within his own context and thereby to us in ours. The result is an extraordinary synthesis that should be read by the sympathetic, the suspicious and everyone else.

SBL 2009 (pt. 1): Theosis

Friday, April 24th, 2009

The annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, to be held this November in New Orleans, should be interesting for lots of reasons. My own specific interests are well represented, and I will be involved in and/or attending a number of these.

I am happy that the new 2 Corinthians group has invited papers on the topic of theosis, among others. (Among those presenting on 2 Cor will be my student here at Duke, David Litwa, who has a very fine article on theosis and 2 Cor 3:18 in the fall 2008 issue of Journal of Theological Interpretation.) My major paper at SBL will also be on theosis, but in the Theological Interpretation of Christian Scripture group, and specifically in its session on Romans. The other two presenters are Richard Hays and Beverly Gaventa.

Here’s the abstract for my paper:

Romans: The First Christian Treatise on Theosis

In a recent book, Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology, I have argued that Paul’s notion of cruciformity is really theoformity or, as the Christian tradition (especially in the East) has called it, deification, divinization, or theosis: becoming like God. That is, union with Christ in his death and resurrection is participation in the very life of God, effecting transformation by the Spirit into Christ the image of God; the result, Spirit-empowered Christlikeness, is actually Godlikeness.

This paper explores this overall interpretation of Paul by examining the presence of the theosis motif in Romans, beginning with 8:29. It argues that a central subject of Romans is in fact theosis, understood as present and future restoration of the image and glory of God through incorporation into, and conformity to, the Son of God. The prominence of this motif in Romans reveals that this letter, even in its pastoral and political particularity, is simultaneously the first extended Christian treatment of theosis. Because theosis is sometimes misunderstood as a private spiritual experience, this paper will demonstrate the communal and cruciform character of theosis as its practical implications are developed by Paul in chapters 9-11 and then 12-15, implications with ongoing significance for theological interpreters.


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