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Becoming God

The Doctrine of Theosis in Nicholas of Cusa

Nancy J. Hudson

Publication Year: 2011

The doctrine of theosis means a salvation that is the deification of the saved. The saved actually become God. This unusual doctrine lies at the heart of Nicholas of Cusa's (1401-1464) mystical metaphysics. It is here examined for the first time as a theme in its own right, along with its implications for Cusanus's doctrine of God, his theological anthropology, and his epistemology.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

In Europe and the United States, Nicholas of Cusa has been the focus of research for many years. Both his medieval mysticism and his foreshadowing of modern philosophical and cosmological notions have made him attractive to generations of scholars. ...


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. 1-10

Although it is an integral part of his theology, Nicholas of Cusa’s doctrine of salvation has received little scrutiny. The absence of a thorough understanding of theosis has contributed to frequent misunderstandings of his work. He has been interpreted as both a Scholastic and a fideist, a medieval and an early modern, a monist and a pantheist. ...

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1. Theosis in the Greek Fathers and Pseudo-Dionysius

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pp. 11-44

The notion of theosis refers to an original and essential relationship between the divine and created orders: the finite returns to the Infinite from which it is derived. It describes a soteriology in which the individual not only is saved from death and eternal punishment, but is deified. ...

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2. Theophany as Self-Communication

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pp. 45-88

In the Christological theology of Cusanus’s later texts, especially De filiatione Dei and De dato patris luminum, theosis is identified with divine Sonship. This chapter, however, is concerned with the broader issue of divine manifestation, or theophany, in creation as a background for Nicholas’s ultimately Trinitarian notion of theosis. ...

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3. Transcendence as the Distance between Knower and Known

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pp. 89-133

In Cusanus’s thought, the paradoxical counterpart of the divine presence in the created order that results from theophany is divine transcendence. The mystical union afforded by the intimacy of God’s manifestation is balanced by God’s distance. ...

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4. Theosis

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pp. 134-178

Because the rational spirit is in the likeness of Eternal Reason, it is the seedbed out of which the power of sonship or deification springs. Along with the link between the intellect and theosis, the above passage also suggests the program for chapter 4. ...

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5. The Problem of Intellectual Salvation

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pp. 179-196

An analysis of Nicholas of Cusa’s doctrine of theosis would not be complete without addressing a controversy that concerns the systematic importance of the intellect to his thought. The essence of the problem consists of the strong influence of Neoplatonist philosophy on Nicholas’s theology. ...

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pp. 197-202

A look at the notion of “theosis” in Cusanus’s philosophical and theological treatises shows that even those texts that deal primarily epistemological issues (De docta ignorantia, for instance) give clues to his metaphysics. The movement from cataphatic to negative and supereminent theology is driven by a certain understanding of human beings and God. ...


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pp. 203-214


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pp. 215-218

E-ISBN-13: 9780813216126
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813214726

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2011