Gregory of Nyssa on theôsis, lecture by Elena D-Vasilescu (Oxford), King’s College London, January 20, 2015, 5:30–7:30 pm
This seminar explores Gregory of Nyssa’s view on theôsis/deification and the role of love in this process as expressed in De Anima et Resurrectione (On the Soul and the Resurrection) and Homilies on the Song of Songs. For the fourth-century Cappadocian father, human beings can attain likeness to God by participating in the divine attributes, as made discernible through Christ, and by striving to inculcate in themselves properties peculiar to the Godhead. Love is the quality which Jesus displayed to the supreme extent before joining his Father in Heaven, thus showing human beings the way to achieve the same (‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’; John 14.6). In the process of fulfilling their potential, people have the opportunity to express their love for God and for their neighbours, and also to receive it from them. Thus, the joining back to God is the supreme act of love.
Elena D-Vasilescu is Research Fellow at the Faculty of History, University of Oxford. She studied in Bucharest, Ottawa and Oxford, where she completed her doctoral dissertation on iconography. A monograph based on this was published in 2009 and recently the manuscript of a book on spiritual nourishment as reflected in patristic and medieval literature and in iconography was submitted to Oxford University Press. She is currently working on deification in the work of Gregory of Nyssa, and is co-editing a book on this topic.