DIFFICULTY 71

INTRODUCTION

This is the last of the early collection of Difficulties, and differs from the rest in being uniquely on a passage from one of Gregory Nazianzen's poems, rather than on a passage from his sermons. Gregory's couplet on the 'high Word' playing 'in every kind of form' recalls the similar imagery, used to rather different purpose, by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

For Christ plays in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his

To the Father through the features of men's faces.1

This Difficulty provides a striking example of Maximus' tendency (already seen in Amb. 10.17, 31b-e) to interpret the Dionysian categories of apophatic and cataphatic theology in terms of the Incarnation. This is developed in the first meditation he offers on the couplet from Gregory's poem. Maximus goes on to offer several other interpretations. First, another Christological interpretation that sees the 'play of the Word' like the weaving about of a wrestler, so that the paradox of 'divine play' is interpreted by another paradox, that of 'still flowing', understood as a holding to the middle, in an active, agile way: this interpretation should be compared with the way in which Maximus talks of the Word in the Incarnation fulfilling the mediatorial, microcosmic role of humanity in Amb. 41, above. This play is also compared to the way in which parents come down to the level of their children, with the intention of educating them through play. The last two interpretations offered compare play to the shifting character of the world in which we live: such play is again pedagogic, and leads us to higher, unchanging reality.

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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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