3

MAXIMUS' SPIRITUAL THEOLOGY

We have already seen that, so far as his writings go, Maximus seems to have begun by addressing himself to matters of spiritual or ascetical theology. Before his arrival in Africa, round about 630, few of his writings raise questions of dogmatic or philosophical theology, though if it is indeed the case, as has been conjectured, that on his way from Asia Minor to Africa he engaged in disputation with Severan Monophysites in Crete, it would seem that he already had a reputation as a defender of Orthodoxy. I have already argued that it is probably not fortuitous that his concerns were initially ascetic. It is, it seems to me, of a piece with the way in which his theological writings are essentially occasional, the response to requests for elucidation on the part of his friends. He early acquired a reputation as a spiritual father (though it seems that he never became an abbot, still less a priest), and it was out of that relationship that he began to write both letters and short treatises many of which follow closely the forms of monastic catechesis.


A THEOLOGICAL ASCESIS

But from the beginning his ascetical theology is firmly set against a theological background: ascetical theology is about how we come to know God, it is not about some kind of spiritual technique; to come to know God is a matter of experience, not speculation; for a Christian to come to know God is to respond to a God who has made himself known. This is where Maximus begins. Early on in his short treatise on the Lord's Prayer (written before 630) we read:

The Logos bestows adoption on us when He grants us that birth and deification which, transcending nature, comes by

-33-

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Maximus the Confessor
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Life and Times 3
  • 2 - The Sources of Maximus' Theology 19
  • 3 - Maximus' Spiritual Theology 33
  • 4 - The Doctrine of the Person of Christ 48
  • 5 - Cosmic Theology 63
  • Texts 79
  • General Introduction to the Texts 81
  • Letter 2: on Love 84
  • Difficulty 10 94
  • Difficulty 41 155
  • Difficulty 71 163
  • Difficulty 1 169
  • Difficulty 5 171
  • Opuscule 7 180
  • Opuscule 3 192
  • Notes 199
  • Bibliography 220
  • Index 226
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