chapter  6
Union with and Likeness to God: Deification According to Dionysius the Areopagite
Pages 40

Judging from the contents of the Corpus Dionysiacum, Dionysius the Areopagite’s entire thought is wholly intertwined with the idea of dei- cation. Although the vocabulary of deication was foreign to neither the ancient philosophical and religious doctrines nor to the early Christian milieu, it is the Areopagite who gave it its shape and content. In doing this, our author does not use Athanasius’ term θεοποίησις (or as a verb, θεοποιέω) as one would expect, since it is the term most commonly used in the periods before Dionysius, but he employs the term θέωσις, which is found in Gregory of Nazianzus.1 Despite its occurrence in Gregory’s writings, it is only with Dionysius that θέωσις became the standard term for the Christian concept of deication.2 This is not surprising given the fact that the term is more frequent in Dionysius and that it was him who actually gave the denition of the very notion. In The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy he writes:

Now this blessed Deity (θεαρχικωτάτῃ) which transcends everything and which is one and also triune has resolved, for reasons unclear to us but obvious to itself, to ensure the salvation of rational beings, both ourselves and those beings who are our superior. This can only happen with the divinization (θεουμένων) of the saved. And divinization consists of being as much as possible like and in union with God (ἡ δὲ θὲωσις ἐστιν ἡ πρὸς θεὸν ὡς ἐφικτὸν ἀφομοίωσίς τε καὶ ἕνωσις).3