Human Perfection in Byzantine Theology: Attaining the Fullness of Christ

ISBN : 9780198845294

Alexis Torrance
256 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Oct 2020
Changing Paradigms in Historical and Systematic Theology
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To what kind of existence does Christ call us? Christian theology has from its inception posited a powerful vision of humanity's ultimate and eternal fulfilment through the person and work of Jesus Christ. How precisely to understand and approach the human perfection to which the Christian is summoned is a question that has vexed the minds of many and diverse theologians. Orthodox Christian theology is notable for its consistent interest in this question, and over the last century has offered to the West a wealth of theological insight on the matter, drawn both from the resources of its Byzantine theological heritage as well as its living interaction with Western theological and philosophical currents. In this regard, the important themes of personhood, deification, epektasis, apophaticism, and divine energies have been elaborated with much success by Orthodox theologians; but not without controversy. Human Perfection in Byzantine Theology addresses the question of human perfection in Orthodox theology via a retrieval of the sources, examining in turn the thought of leading representatives of the Byzantine theological tradition: St Maximus the Confessor, St Theodore the Studite, St Symeon the New Theologian, and St Gregory Palamas. The overarching argument of this study is that in order to present an Orthodox Christian understanding of human perfection which remains true to its Byzantine inheritance, supreme emphasis must be placed on the doctrine of Christ, especially on the significance and import of Christ's humanity. The intention of this work is thus to keep the creative approach to human destiny in Orthodox theology firmly moored to its theological past.


1 Human perfection in Orthodox theological anthropology: retrieving the Christological imperative
2 Perpetual progress or eternal rest? Contemplating the eschaton in St Maximus the Confessor
3 Perfection before our eyes: St Theodore the Studite on the humanity of Christ
4 I am called by two names, human and divine: dogma and deification in St Symeon the New Theologian
5 The energy of deification and the person of Jesus Christ in St Gregory Palamas

About the author: 

Alexis Torrance is the Archbishop Demetrios Associate Professor of Byzantine Theology at the University of Notre Dame, where he has taught since 2014. He took his degrees at the University of Oxford and has held research fellowships at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC.

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