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Open Access Gewoon goddelijk

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Abstract

This article explores the early Christian symbol of theosis or deification for its potential to generate an inspiring, gender-bending, and transformative view of salvation. The idea of theosis or deification (literally: becoming divine) is present in many religious traditions. In early Christianity, it refers to the transformation of human beings effected by Christ and the way they become partakers in the divine life. As Athanasius of Alexandria wrote: ‘God became human so that the human might become God’. In Eastern Orthodoxy, the idea of deification and its corresponding spiritual and ascetic practices obtained a leading role, while, in Protestant theology, it was considered to be more close to the essence of sin. The article makes a case for a feminist-protestant retrieval of deification, not in the least because the concept enables an embodied, progressive, and even cosmic understanding of salvation. After mapping, and taking position within, the disciplinary fields of theology and Genderstudies, the author sets off to discuss the recent ecumenical interest in deification. She then listens to the voices of twentieth-century French/Russian Orthodox women theologians who have engaged with the concept of deification, also in relation to issues of gender and corporeality. Present-day Anglican theologian Sarah Coakley adds to the choir with her intriguing analysis of the ‘messy entanglements’ of sexual desire and the desire for God. Coakley’s plea for a ‘renewed asceticism’ and her reappraisal of ‘sacrifice’ and ‘surrender’ in self-realization, echoing the tradition of theosis, are surprising and edgy contributions to postmodern gender theory. The article concludes with remarks about the relevance of this deification research project for other current debates.
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Keywords: autonomy; deification; feminist theology; salvation; sex/gender; sexuality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dr. Heleen Zorgdrager is hoogleraar ‘Systematische Theologie met bijzondere aandacht voor Genderstudies’ aan de Protestantse Theologische Universiteit te Amsterdam. Daarnaast is ze sinds 2005 gastdocent voor oecumenische theologie aan de Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Oekra├»ne. Haar onderzoeksproject gaat over verlossing, transformatie, gender en seksuele diversiteit in protestantse en oosters-orthodoxe theologie. Ze promoveerde in 2003 op een genderkritische lezing van de theologie van F.D.E. Schleiermacher. Ze heeft gewerkt als predikant in Leiden en Leersum, en was programma-manager voor Midden- en Oost-Europa bij Kerk in Actie.

Publication date: 01 January 2015

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  • Het Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies is het forum voor de wetenschappelijke problematisering van sekse in relatie tot andere vormen van discriminatie en uitsluiting zoals etniciteit, seksualiteit, klasse of leeftijd. Er worden artikelen in gepubliceerd over gendervraagstukken vanuit alle relevante disciplines die een wetenschappelijke bijdrage leveren aan debatten over gender en intersectionaliteit in Nederland en Vlaanderen. Het tijdschrift is een interdisciplinair medium op het kruispunt van maatschappij-, cultuur-, geestes-, gezondheids- en natuurwetenschappen. Het verschijnt vier keer per jaar en biedt wetenschappelijke artikelen en daarnaast ook interviews, boekrecensies, discussiedossiers en opiniërende artikelen in het Nederlands en Engels. Artikelen worden dubbelblind beoordeeld door externe deskundigen.

    The Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies (Journal of Gender Studies) is a Dutch language forum for the scientific problematisation of gender in relation to ethnicity, sexuality, class, and age. The journal aims to contribute to debates about gender and diversity in the Netherlands and Flanders. The journal is an interdisciplinary medium operating at the intersection of society, culture, the humanities, health and science. The editorial staff is open to articles about gender issues from different disciplines, and also accepts English articles. As well as publishing articles, the journal includes essays, columns (short topical and polemical articles), interviews, reviews, summaries of dissertations and conference reports. Articles are subjected to a double blind peer review process.
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