Maximus the Confessor

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Maximus the Confessor

 

Born circa 580 in Constantinople; died Aug. 13, 662, in Lazica. Byzantine thinker and theologian.

Active in government in his youth, Maximus became a monk in 613 or 614. In 642 he became known as a leading opponent of the Monothelites, who were supported by the government. He was victorious in a dispute with the Monothelites in Carthage in 645; in 653 he was arrested; in 662 his tongue and right hand were cut off. He died in exile.

The philosophical views of Maximus the Confessor are colored by the strong influence of Aristotle, Neoplatonism, and, above all, the Areopagite, in the dissemination of whose works Maximus played a decisive role. The problem of man is at the center of Maximus the Confessor’s philosophical and theological thought. He divided the history of the world into two periods— the preparation for the incarnation of god, which ended with the birth of Christ, and the preparation for the deification of man. If man overcomes his self-alienation—brought on by original sin and the division into masculine and feminine and spiritual and animal—then the cosmos will be saved and creation will be reunited with the creator. For this reason, the main events in the life of Christ are at the same time symbols of cosmic processes. The ethics of Maximus are based on an original doctrine about the transformation of the energy of evil emotions into good emotions and includes subtle psychological observations. His ideas exerted a strong influence on Johannes Scotus Erigena and medieval mysticism.

WORKS

In J. P. Migne, Patrologiae cursus completus ser. graeca, vols. 90-91. Paris, 1860.

REFERENCES

Epifanovich, S. L. Prepodobnyi Maksim Ispovednik i vizantiiskoe bogoslovie. Kiev, 1915.
Epifanovich, S. L. Materialy k izucheniiu zhizni i tvorenii prepodobnogo Maksima Ispovednika. Kiev, 1917.
Balthasar, H. U. von. Kosmische Liturgie: Das Weltbild Maximus des Bekenners, 2nd ed. Einsiedeln, 1961.
Thunberg, L. Microcosm and Mediator: The Theological Anthropology of Maximus the Confessor. Copenhagen, 1965.

S. S. AVERINTSEV

References in periodicals archive ?
The great seventh-century theologian Maximos the Confessor said that we must not fight nature, which God created, but the disorderly and unnatural movements and energies that come from our inner being.
The great mystic Maximos the Confessor (558-662), who preoccupied himself in a systematic way with the content of mystical theology, said that God has a moving love toward the world.
DIVINE CONTINGENCY: THEOLOGIES OF DIVINE EMBODIMENT IN MAXIMOS THE CONFESSOR AND TSONG KHA PA.
Cattoi compares the theologies of divine embodiment in the Greek Father Maximos the Confessor (580-662) with the Tibetan Buddhist Tsong kha pa (1357-1419).
A more or less recent convert to Orthodoxy, Knight draws particularly from the Logos-theology of Byzantine theologian and saint, Maximos the Confessor, focusing on the latter's notion of the Logos as constituting the inner essence or telos of all things, and connects that with the inclusivistic pluralism (or pluralistic inclusivism, depending on one's point of view) of the twentieth-century Orthodox spiritual writer, Philip Sherrard.
Fr Staniloe's great love for the hesychastic period, and in particular St Gregory Palamas on the "uncreated energies" and Maximos the Confessor on the micro-cosmos and macro-anthropos, led him to deal also with the translations of the entire collection of Philokalia of the fathers and ascetics of the desert.
A chapter is devoted to the teachings of Maximos the Confessor (580-662), an original thinker and the object of new interest in his theology.
Fr Staniloe's great love for the hesychastic period, and in particular St Gregory Palamas on the "uncreated energies" and Maximos the Confessor on the micro-cosmos and macro-anthropos (see below), led him to deal also with the translations of the entire collection of Philokalia of the Fathers and Ascetics of the Desert.