Jeremy Pilch’s ‘Breathing the Spirit with Both Lungs’: Deification in the Work of Vladimir Solov’ev (Peeters, 2018) is a reworked version of his doctoral dissertation. As the subtitle suggests, it examines the development of Solov’ev’s thinking about deification (theosis) over the course of his career. In particular, Pilch focuses on three of this great Russian thinker’s books: Lectures on Divine Humanity (1877–81), The Spiritual Foundations of Life (1882–84), and the work Pilch deems Solov’ev’s magnum opus, The Justification of the Good (1897).
Pilch is a fine scholar and traces Solov’ev’s influences (the Fathers and Councils, and Maximos the Confessor in particular) and how they impacted his doctrine of bogochelovechestvo (Godmanhood) and how Solov’ev’s conception of deification changed over the course of his relatively short life. Particularly striking in Pilch’s excavation is the way in which he shows Solov’ev’s movement from an early Slavophile disposition to the obvious influence of contemporary Catholic theology (especially that of Johann Adam Mölher), to a mature thinker anxious to introduce the idea of deification to even an agnostic and humanistic cultural milieu.
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