Gewoon goddelijk | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 18, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1388-3186
  • E-ISSN: 2352-2437



This article explores the early Christian symbol of or deification for its potential to generate an inspiring, gender-bending, and transformative view of salvation. The idea of 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 , 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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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): autonomy; deification; feminist theology; salvation; sex/gender; sexuality
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