APOPHASIS & THEOSIS: AN INTRODUCTION TO BYZANTINE THEOLOGY

Lecture 3: Maximos the Confessor and Cosmic Theology It is often claimed that Orthodox theology has preserved a sense of ‘cosmic theology’: a claim made both by Orthodox themselves, and Western scholars (e.g., Hans Urs von Balthasar called his great work on Maximos the Confessor, Cosmic Liturgy). It is also generally recognized that this is true par excellence of St Maximos the Confessor. Lecture in two parts: 1. What might be meant by ’cosmic theology’? 2. How this is exemplified in St Maximos. Part One:  Athanasios: Consideration of the Incarnation begins with the Creation, for it is the Word through whom the cosmos was created who has become incarnate in Christ.  The arc of theology proceeding from creation to deification, rather than simply from the Fall to Redemption  The purpose of the Incarnation to save the world, not just humans (though note that the Greek word, kosmos, can just mean everyone)  a cosmos not just of humans and human institutions, but all created beings, including, not least, the celestial beings (‘angels’): the hierarchies of angels, as well as ecclesiastical institutions (note: Dionysios has nothing to say about political institutions and their hierarchies) Nevertheless, the cosmic vision of Orthodox theology does not overlook the human, rather the human is seen as central to the cosmic Roots of this notion:  Classical (pagan) ideas of the human as a ‘little cosmos’ (mikros kosmos, cf. the Renaissance notion of the human as microcosmus, microcosm); of the human as a ‘bond of the cosmos’, syndesmos tou kosmou. Fundamental text: Plato, Timaeus 30-31. Developed by Stoics. Festugière: ‘cosmic piety’ (explored in vol. 2, ‘Le dieu cosmique’, of his great work, La Révélation d’Hermès trismégiste, Paris 1949, and more briefly in his Personal Religion among the Greeks, Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1954, esp. cc. 7 and 8). Profound sense of cosmic harmony underlying

divination. earth itself (inhabited world: paradise). Christian cosmos is personal rather than impersonal: heaven populated by angels rather than stars and planets Christian notion of the human as created ‘in the image and likeness of God’. lost in the Fall. SVSP . the tropos can cease to correspond to the inner logos (and. the soul (moral: intellectual). 7 in St Maximus the Confessor. and consist of logoi. sacrificial rites. or Logos: both the cosmos and the Scriptures are created through the Logos and express the Logos. human beings. but enabling us to participate in the human cosmic function. as ‘rational’. 7: 1081B)  Distinction between logos and tropos: what we are (logos) and how we express that (tropos). which provided a justification for astrology. 10 and 42. etc. The Logos = the image of God. John Eriugena. Bibliography: Amb. would call ‘divisions of nature’ or of ‘being’  Also based on theology of the Word. but for creatures with self-determination (= humans). St Gregory the Theologian) with the notion of the human as created in the image of God The Fall (of humans) implicates the whole cosmos Part Two: Central works for Maximos’ cosmic vision are Ambigua 7. that we come to know the Logos  ‘the One Logos is the many logoi. created ‘in accordance with the image’ (kata eikona tou Theou). and made available again in Christ. and his Mystagogia (see below for translations). an ascetic struggle that is not just concerned with perfecting ourselves. has become distorted and ceased to correspond to the logos)  This implies ascetic struggle on the part of human beings. either of creation or of Scripture. cosmos (earth: heaven). Ideas of the human as microcosm and bond of the cosmos often combined by Christian theologians (esp. the Scriptures (Old Testament: New Testament // literal meaning: spiritual meaning)  These include what the Latin translator of Maximos. as created by God.    everything. On the Cosmic Mystery of Christ. words  It is through understanding the logoi. and the many logoi are One’ (Amb. logikos. The logos is inviolable. Central notions:  Parallels Maximos sets up between church building (nave: sanctuary). as a result of the Fall. the human (body: soul).

George C. 1985. Classics of Western Spirituality. pp. 155–62 Mystagogia in Maximus Confessor. Maximus the Confessor (London. Berthold.2003. pp. 181–225 . 94–154. 1996). pp. 45–74 Amb. Selected Writings. trans. London: SPCK. 10 and 42 in Andrew Louth.