The Church Fathers asserted that man’s true greatness is to be found in the fact that he is “called to be a god.” They stressed that man realizes his true existence in the measure in which he is raised up toward God and united with Him. In the foreword to this study, Bishop Kallistos (Ware) reflects on how difficult it is today, because of our modern understanding of the human person, to find the right words to express the subtle but significant ways that Christian writers of the past saw this mysterious, often indefinable character of the human person.
According to Bishop Kallistos, “few if any works have opened up for me more lines of inquiry than Deification in Christand few have helped me better to appreciate the Patristic approach to the nature and destiny of man.”
In this extraordinary study, Panayiotis Nellas examines certain central themes of patristic anthropology synthetically, throughout the whole range of patristic literature. He then treats the same themes in an individual father and in a service from the Orthodox liturgy. Finally, he cites a number of patristic passages at length and provides references and notes which incorporate the findings of modern scholarship. This approach not only provides an excellent introduction to patristic anthropology, but also clearly demonstrates the internal consistency and coherence of the Orthodox understanding of man and his relation to God and the world.