Eriugena – Comments

No human creature will be punished in hell eternally. In this respect, Eriugena definitely follows Origen and Gregory of Nyssa. Likewise, he is persuaded that all rational creatures will return to the enjoyment of their natural goods and will be restored into an angelic state (Periph. 5: 32). The eventual restoration will indeed be universal, and will take place in three phases or modalities: 1) the material world will return to its causes or principles, (Medioplatonically) conceived as Ideas in the mind of God (Periph. 5: 21 and 5: 39). 2) There will be “the general return of the whole human nature, saved in Christ, to the original condition of its creation and to the dignity of the image of God” (5: 39). 3) The blessed “will overcome, in a superessential manner, all the limits of nature up to the Godhead itself, and will be one and the same thing in God and with God” (5: 39). It is no surprise that Eriugena contests Augustine’s interpretation of 1 Timothy 2: 4, which in his view is distorted and misleading. While that passage reads, “God wants all human beings to be saved,” Augustine claimed that “all human beings” there means “all those predestined.” 388 This interpretation is unacceptable, according to Eriugena, who in De praed. 19 opens up the possibility of the eventual restoration. However, Eriugena does make a distinction between all humans, who will be restored and saved, and the more restricted group (which may be distinguished from the rest either forever or in an initial phase), of those who will eat the fruit of the tree of life and be deified: This return [reditus] is considered in two ways, one of which teaches the restoration [restaurationem] of the whole human nature in Christ, whereas the other does not limit itself to contemplating the restoration per se, in a general sense, but also the beatitude and deification [deificationem] of those who will ascend to the Godhead itself. For one thing is to return to paradise, and another to eat the fruit of the tree of life; . . . its fruit is the blessed life, eternal peace in the contemplation of the truth, which is properly called deification [deificatio]. (Periph. 5: 36)

–From Ilaria Ramelli, A Larger Hope


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