DIFFICULTY 10

INTRODUCTION

This is much the longest Difficulty in the earlier collection. It proceeds, by way of a discussion of a passage from St Gregory Nazianzen's Sermon 21, a panegyric of St Athanasius, the Patriarch of Alexandria and defender of Nicene orthodoxy, who died in 373, to constitute one of the most wide-ranging discussions of Maximus' theological ideas. Because of its wide scope, it gives us a glimpse of the kind of things Bishop John of Cyzicus and Maximus discussed among themselves-interpretations of scriptural passages, problems raised by the ideas current among the Origenist monks, and a whole series of philosophical ideas, mainly concerned with the constitution of the human person and meaning of God's providence-all of this bearing on their deepest concern, love and knowledge of God and union with him in a transforming vision.

Because of its length, we get a glimpse, too, of how Maximus' mind worked. The movement of his mind is that of one who ponders and meditates, patiently drawing together all sorts of apparently diverse concerns. It is what is sometimes called 'lateral thinking', i.e. his mind does not move straight ahead in conformity to a linear, logical argument, rather it moves sideways, and gathers together a collection of considerations that are gradually made to converge.

Maximus' concern in this difficulty is primarily with the danger that the passage from Gregory might be misinterpreted to sanction the notion that the mind can reach God through reason alone, without the necessity of any engagement in ascetic struggle, or praktikê. How this might relate to the Origenism of Maximus' day has been discussed above. 1 Maximus starts by rejecting this idea directly, and finds in the text of Gregory support for his insistence

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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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