For those who don’t own Deification in Christ: Orthodox Perspectives on the Nature of the Human Person, by Panayiotis Nellas… get it. You won’t regret it. This book investigates some of the Orthodox perspectives on humans and the human condition. It is broken down into four parts:
1. The Image of God and the “Garments of Skin”
2. The Spiritual Life in Christ
3. The Anthropological and Cosmological Context of Union With God
4. Patristic Texts
Nellas does not mean to treat the subject systematically or exhaustively, saying in the Preface that “Patristic anthropology does not form a system” and that “central themes of patristic anthropology are examined synthetically but not systematically” (p. 16) Yet he does nonetheless give a well-formed and full account of Orthodox Christian anthropology.
The first part of the book gives a general overview of certain themes in Orthodox anthropology, such as the meaning of the “garments of skin,” the meaning of “image of God,” etc. This section draws heavily on St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Maximos the Confessor, among others.
The second part gives a general overview of the life in Christ, and this part of the book is subtitled “A Study of the Christocentric Anthropology of St. Nicolas Kavasilas.” (p. 105) Some of the topics discussed are the “Christification” of man’s being, movement, life, mind and will, and the fruits of the spiritual life. The third part is an examination of certain anthropological and cosmological themes in the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete.
The fourth part contains excerpts from various patristic texts that Nellas found to be most relevant. The Church Fathers included are: St. Ireneaus, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Maximos the Confessor, St. Nicholas Cabasilas, and St. Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain. Altogether these texts only account for roughly 15% of the content of the book, but they are still a nice supplement to have.
In the back there is a bibliography (roughly 60 entries), a very short glossary, an index of patristic texts (Nellas quotes 27 different Church Fathers/writers), and an index of subjects. In all the book is about 254 pages long.
Not only would I recommend this book, but I would also go so far as to say that this is one of the best books I’ve read as it relates to understanding Orthodox Christianity.