Deification (in Russian Religious Thought) and the Limits of the Human
Please join us for a talk by Ruth Coates, Senior Lecturer at the University of Bristol, titled “Deification (in Russian Religious Thought) and the Limits of the Human.” The talk, which is hosted by the Center for Religion and the Human, will be held in Sycamore Hall 224 on Thursday, December 5, 2:30-3:30pm.
Amidst the revolutionary upheavals in early twentieth-century Russia, religious thinkers were inspired by the concept of deification in their efforts to articulate a hopeful response to the looming prospect of cultural, political, and social collapse. They sought to re-imagine this ancient doctrine, elaborated by the Greek Fathers of the Christian Church, for their own times, and creatively applied it to a range of spheres of human activity, including politics, economics, creative endeavor, and personal conduct. The question central to their project was a compelling one: what are the limits of the human? The work of these Russian thinkers engages this vital question from the positive and the negative point of view: human potential, on the one hand, and human limitations, on the other. In her presentation, Ruth Coates will explore the idea of deification in both aspects, drawing on Greek patristic theology and the nineteenth-century philosophical trends that shaped the way in which Russian thinkers received deification. Key questions will include: what is the relationship between human nature and the divine? How should we understand the synergetic relationship between God and humanity? What is the role of ethics in the task of deification? How dependent should the pursuit of deification be on the Church? These questions are as relevant to us as they were to Russian religious thinkers at the time of the Russian revolution.
Ruth Coates is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Russian Studies at the University of Bristol, UK. Her work focuses on the interface between Russian religious culture and Russian thought Her most recent book, Deification in Russian Religious Thought: Between the Revolutions, 1905-1917 (2019), is a study of the reception of the Greek patristic doctrine of deification in late imperial Russian religious thought. She is also the author of Christianity in Bakhtin: God and the Exiled Author (1998) and co-editor of The Emancipation of Russian Christianity (1995) and Landmarks Revisited: The Vekhi Symposium 100 Years On (2013).