17 April 2019, The Tablet

It is ‘natural’ to be filled with God’s being

Food for the Lenten journey

It is ‘natural’ to be filled with God’s being

In the last in our series of Lent and Easter reflections in which writers have recommended a book that has brought them light and joy at a dark time, our contributor chooses a classic book of Greek Orthodox theology

In the middle of present perplexity, with the Church weighed down by a legacy of grief, with the deconstruction of categories that, just yesterday, we thought normative, with no shortage of people who, like Isaiah’s contemporaries, “put darkness for light, sweet for bitter”, I find myself returning to a book that puts things in perspective. It helps me observe the Desert Fathers’ most essential dictum: “Look up, not down!”

Its author, the Greek theologian Panayiotis Nellas, has been described by his friend, Kallistos Ware, as “somewhat stout, with a moustache and wavy hair; by character vivacious, warm and friendly; a generous man, eager to commend and encourage others, a good listener”.

It is fitting that one who inspires such humane accolades should have left a work subtitled The Nature of the Human Person. The main title is a splendid phrase borrowed from Gregory Nazianzen: Zoon theoumenon, meaning, “a living creature that is being deified”. Norman Russell’s fine translation compacts this into Deification in Christ. It is the author’s only work available in English. Panayiotis Nellas died in 1986, aged 50.

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