Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Maximus the Confessor

  • Matthew J. PereiraEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1151-5_322-2


Maximus the Confessor (c. 580–662) was a Byzantine ascetic theologian who advanced an integrative theology borne out of the monastic circles he inhabited – the Chalcedonian Definition of 451 (i.e., two natures of Jesus Christ) and the church fathers – whereby, he advanced a spiritual theology that placed humanity and creation in a salvific relationship with the Word of God. Maximus, in alliance with the Roman Church, challenged the imperially backed Monothelite teachings that stated the one divine will subsumed the human will in Jesus Christ. In response to monothelitism, Maximus taught Jesus Christ possessed two faculties of the will within the one modality of willing. In the midst of the contestations against ecclesiastical and political authorities, Maximus coalesced teachings from the church fathers, often preserved and circulated in anthologies (i.e., florilegia), thereby reframing their teachings to address interrelated questions related to theology, cosmology, ontology, and anthropology. Steeped in the monastic networks of the seventh century, Maximus developed an ascetical theology centered on Jesus Christ and the Triune God as the divine reality that provided the ontological ground for dynamic movements of human divinization (i.e., theosis). The uniting of the human and divine natures in Jesus Christ (i.e., hypostatic union), according to Maximus, placed human beings as the mediators between the world and God. Humanity and creation becomes deified through participation in the divine as the cosmos receives by grace what belongs to God by nature. Maximus recapitulated traditional concepts, hypostasis, idiomatum communicatio, and perichoresis to explicate a doctrine of Christ that was fully connected to his anthropology and teachings on creation. Having stood strong in his convictions even after being exiled and maimed, Maximus, the Byzantine monk and ascetical theologian, is known in sacred memory as the Confessor.

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Theological StudiesLoyola Marymount UniversityLos AngelesUSA