Maximus the Confessor

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


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


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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Uber ein christologisches Grundaxiom bei Maximus Confessor und Karl Rahner", in Felix Heinzer, Christoph Schonborn (eds.), Maximus Confessor: Actes du Symposium sur Maxime le Confesseur, Freibourg, 2-5 septembre 1980, Freiburg/Schweiz, Ed.
Theologians and historians explore such topics as Jerome's De viris illustribus and Latin perceptions of the New Testament's canon, human fulfillment in Maximus Confessor, Adomnan on St.
Andrew Louth two articles, "The Reception of Dionysius up to Maximus Confessor" and "The Reception of Dionysius in the Byzantine World: Maximus to Palamas," concern the reception of Dionysius.
Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings (New York: Paulist Press, 1985), 164.
Also, from the fourth century on, Greek fathers borrowed from Neoplatonic speculation to such an extent that, via Gregory of Nyssa, Dionysius, and Maximus Confessor, these sources have strongly influenced the structure of Christian mysticism.
Van Deun, whose quality was established by his edition of exegetica by Maximus Confessor in 1991, edits first the Laudatio of St Barnabas (BHG 226, Clavis 7400), delivered at the saint's shrine and monastery near Salamis in the presence of the metropolitan, composed by the monk Alexander at the instigation of the priest-guardian of the shrine.
Suzuki, Maximus Confessor, Boris Pasternak, and especially the Russian Orthodox theologians, Valdimir Soloviev and Sergius Bulgakov.