Revista Studii Teologice


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Îndumnezeire și restaurare între typos și antitypos în cea de-a doua Epistolă a Sfântului Apostol Petru

Deification and restoration: typos and antitypos in the second Epistle of the Holy Apostle Peter

Autor(i): Pr. Cătălin VARGA

The present paper aims to provide an original analysis of 2 Pet, centered on only two key verses (1, 4-3, 13) which, in my opinion, seem to provide the reader with the correct understanding of the true purpose of life: deification, parallelled by the promise «ἐπάγγελμα» of our recapitulation in Christ. Text analysis must be prece-ded by a thorough investigation, to select – out of the many versions offered by manuscripts differing because of the traditions generating them – the most accurate form, closest to the original, which allows a better understanding of Apostle Peter’s meaning. Therefore I have examined the oldest extant versions of verse 1, 4 in the light of the modern critical editions of the Greek text (NA27; UBS4; BYZ), in order to ascertain which one is closest to the Petrine original’s intentions. I based my decision on both the textual characteristics of the manuscripts, and the external / internal criteria of the text. I paid close attention to the tradition of Romanian translations, pointing out the advantages and disadvantages of each edition (the Bible of Bucha-rest, 1688; the Bible of Blaj, 1795; Gika 1857; the Bible of the Holy Synod, 1914; Cornilescu, 1921; the Bible of Galaction-Radu, 1939; the Bible of the Holy Synod, 1982; the Bible of the Holy Synod, 1988; the Bible of the Holy Synod, 2005; the Bible of Metropolitan Anania, 2009), which in their various versions fail to render some of the nuances of verse 1, 4, omitting in the respective translations both the implications of aorist subjunctive «γένησθε» (which should be translated „that you may become” and not „you are made”) as well as the singular form of the noun «ἐπιθυμίᾳ» (erroneously translated by „lust” in Bible of Blaj, 1795; the Bible of the Holy Synod, 1914; Cornilescu, 1921). The translations into the main modern langua-ges of verse 1, 4 are not uniform. Part b has been translated as follows: «so that you may participate in the divine nature» (VRV 1960; NIV 2011), «so that you may come to share in the divine nature» (NAB 1970), «to gain communion with the divine natu-re» (TOB 1988), «to become partakers in the divine nature» (ZB 2008), «so that you may become partakers of the divine nature» (ESV 2008), etc. We find more care for accuracy and the intentions of the original, in the English-language editions.
In examining the exegesis and theology of verse 1, 4, I stress the implications of «ἐπαγγέλματα» which in the New Testament means to announce, to proclaim an intention, to offer to perform an action, to promise, to make a commitment, etc. When it is so used, it never refers to God’s promises, but the promises made by man before God. In old Greek, the noun means „promise, announcement” and is used only twice in the epistle 2 Peter – where the term „promise” points to the second coming of Christ, as well as the sharing in the eternal life or the communion with the divine nature. I think that the Holy Apostle Peter, remembering the promises made by the Saviour about the eternal life and the Kingdom of Heaven, reiterates the topic in order to call his readers to a godly life. Then I analyze the prospect of partaking of the divine nature from an anthropological standpoint, acknowledging the importance of P. Nellas’ contribution but undertaking the discussion on eschatological grounds; I consider the „partaking of the divine nature” as type (typos) of the recapitulation of creation in Christ (3, 13). The deification of man is a prefiguration, a foretaste of the eschaton. Along the same lines, I explore according to the Wirkungsgeschichte met-hod the impact of this verse (1, 4) in the history of the Church, insisting on Western Christianity because, unike the Eastern one, it still seems to have some difficulty in understanding theosis, with the notable exception of the Oxford movement (I menti-on theologians Williams, Caldwell, Wesleys, Hooker or Küng – who, however, speaks of the humanization of man, rather than man’s deification).
The logion «καινοὺς δὲ οὐρανοὺς καὶ γῆν καινήν» – or the perfecting of crea-tion in light of its recapitulation in Christ (3, 13) is the topic of the second part of the present paper. Our verse is implicitly related to the answer given by Peter to those who denied the actuality of the Parousia (3, 1-7) on the one hand, and on the other hand it continues the vivid description of the Lord’s coming (3, 8-12). Peter stresses that the Lord will come unexpectedly, like «a thief in the night» (3, 10); the day of the Lord will bring about, to all who have led holy and godly lives («in all holy con-versation and godliness» – 3, 11) the fulfilment of Christ’s promise of communion between the faithful and the Holy Trinity, on a new earth (3, 13), in the holy city of Heavenly Jerusalem, where there will be no weeping and no death, no pain, no mo-urning or crying, for the old order of things will have passed away (Rev 21, 1-4). I see St Peter’s approach as a tripartite structure: promise – redemption – rebirth. Before the fall, the entire created world used to live in harmony and communion with both man and God, while the intrinsic rationality of creation – the logoi or God’s intelligible, ineffable thoughts on His creation, achieved this communion. Adam’s fall has perturbed the original harmony of the created world, and Adam’s failure is tan-tamount to the failure of creation; thus the redemption of the whole created world or its recapitulation in Christ becomes more than a cosmic necessity. As Christ is simul-taneously the cause and goal of creation, he imbues with unity and unicity its final purpose, that of restoration (Rm 8, 21), as He assumes the entire creation in order to renew it incessantly. This is why the Parousia will not abolish creation but transfigure it, because it too has been deeply affected by the sin of man, losing its original beau-ty.
In keeping with the logic of the present paper, this prospect of the final recapi-tulation becomes the antitype of our deification, which to an extent is achieved even in this life, and makes a continuous process. The corolary of the new dimension of creation is dictated by the «δικαιοσύνη» concluding the verse, which I analyzed philo-logically, theologically and exegetically, reaching the following conclusion: the Holy Apostle Peter employs this term in order to describe this new world, recapitulated in Christ, a world governed by justice and purity, in striking contrast with the old world, subject to corruption and inequity. Both in this context, and 1 Pet 3, 14, the term denotes «fair, proper behaviour» as well as «living correctly, doing only what is just». Whether we apply it to ancient Israel or early Christian circles, δικαιοσύνη designa-tes the fulfilment of God’s will by the man (Job 27, 6; Ps 45, 7; Mt 3, 15). On the new earth, the eschatological earth, justice will reign and all injustice will cease. Ac-cording to the intertextual perspective, it is my opinion that this δικαιοσύνη should have occurred in the text of 2 Pet. 3, 13.
I emphasize the ecological intention of the text (pointed out by theologians and scholars such as E. Lucas, E. Adams, D.G. Horrell, J. Moo, etc.) because Christian ethics includes the ethical approach to the way in which we tend to the earth, especi-ally as many verses stress our responsibility towards the earth we live on (Gen 1, 31a; Ne 9, 5-6; Ir5, 20-24; Ps 105, 24; Rm 8, 19-22; 1 Tim 4, 4-5; Rev 11, 18 etc.).
Proclaiming the impending establishment of the Kingdom of God, a recurring theme of the Gospels, also has ecological implications although the motif is not expli-cit. Christ’s miracles must be interpreted as the prefiguration of the renewal and healing of the entire created world; when our Saviour offers the major comman-dments of the new Kingdom’s ethics, he indicates only two (Mk 12, 29-31). Christian ethics includes the ethics of the way in which we tend to our earth. Through Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection, God has defeated the powers of darkness, sin and death, inaugurating His providence for the entire creation. By emphasizing the concept of a new earth, the text under discussion might leave the impression of lack of interest in preserving the old earth, as E. Adams points out; however, while this earth is destined for the purifying fire, this does not mean we must exploit it excessi-vely, because the final recapitulation of the creation may occur in one year, or a thousand years as well (2 Pet 3, 8).
In conclusion, the eschatological progress from foretasting, to reaching the Kingdom of God, can be understood typologically in this epistle, because the notion of theosis indicates a long, difficult process. The same reality remains, to some, only a type and will reach the antitype (perfection) only in the Kingdom of God (1 Co 15, 35-54); but others, as history demonstrates, experience theosis to a great extent even in their earthly life, and their deification is more than a mere postulate. The present paper is centered on the concept of type/antitype, precisely because in this text, the Holy Apostle Peter leaves open the possibility of achieving deification, and since God will never cease to deify the world, the theology of theosis still awaits its fulfilment, still awaits its saints.

Pagini: 187-238