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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
(22.) Maximus the Confessor, Ad Thalassium, 60, in On the Cosmic
Abstract: Maximus the Confessor's teaching on prayer takes into consideration the progressive states undergone by those striving to live the Christian faith: the initial predominance of struggle against bad habits, the triumph of serenity in the soul which makes it possible to receive illuminations from Cod by means of contemplation, the union with Cod in the midst of the silence of human concepts.
Maximus the Confessor says in his work--The Mystagogy (Maxim Marturisitorul 2000), the world was a church in extension, with the sky as a hieration or altar, and the earth's ornaments as a nave (Ibidem: 17).
Generally, they indicate the tendency to want more than you need, emphasizing on over-indulgence and desire to gather material goods(Saint Maximus the Confessor 1982, p.
Some of the twentieth-century retrieval of parts of the better writing of the Greek Fathers, such as in particular not only Origen but also Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor, was, in my less than humble opinion, not merely a matter of setting the record straight.
The modern framework allows, for example, Maximus the Confessor's discussion of the Logos--or inner essence of things perceived as spiritual realities--to be analyzed alongside modernist sculptor Brancusi's thoughts on how the role of the artist is to bring out "cosmic essence into ...
McFarland draws upon a chorus of voices from across the Christian theological tradition (e.g., Irenaeus, Maximus the Confessor, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Karl Barth) to present a nuanced and compelling defense of the doctrine of creation ex nihilo.
The argument draws in Hellenistic and Byzantine aesthetics, Russian Modernism, the theological aesthetics of Jacques Maritain, Maximus the Confessor and the theory of classical Chinese and Zen painting, and quite a lot more.
Maximus the Confessor," Andrew Louth explains the concept of deification or theosis.
Luther agrees with Maximus the Confessor and most theologians on this point.
What he does do, very effectively I think, is evoke a vision of life as sacramental (what he calls "liturgical living"), and in the process he sketches a theological paradigm with which to understand that vision and relate it to strands of the Christian tradition that harmonize with it: Eastern Christian traditions of kenosis (self-emptying) and apophaticism, especially in Maximus the Confessor and Gregory of Nyssa, and the more mystical thinkers of Western Christianity, such as Meister Eckhart, to whom he devotes half of chapter eight.
Maximus the Confessor traveled from Mount Athos to be laid out for veneration in the patriarchal St.