The Byzantine Christ (Bathrellos)

Bathrellos, Demetrios.  The Byzantine Christ: Person, Nature, and Will in Maximus the Confessor.  Oxford.

Cappadocian View of person and nature:  ousia has the same relation to hypostasis as common has to particular.  A nature/essence becomes a person/hypostasis by possessing particular idioms.  Problem with this:  if the human nature of Christ lacked particular characteristics, it would not be a real nature (38-39).  For Leontius, however, to nature applies the logos of being while to hypostasis applies the logos of being by itself (41). 

 anhypostasis:  without a person/hypostasis.  The anti-Chalcedonians wanted to prove that without a nature there is not a person, and to introduce a human nature of Christ is to introduce a human person of Christ, which is sheer Nestorianism.  What Leontius wanted to say is that if the human nature existed apart from the Logos, it would exist as a human person.  But it doesn’t exist apart from the Logos. 

 Leontius of Jerusalem defines hypostasis as “distance, separation, and subsisting by itself” (45). 

 We must reject the claim that a human nature cannot exist without a human person.  The human nature of Christ is an authentic human nature.  It never existed as a human person because it never existed apart from the Divine Logos (46). 

 Unity of the Logos and Monotheletism:  It is true that an overemphasis on the divine hypostasis of the Logos in Christology may overshadow and eventually undermine the completedness of Christ’s humanity.  Two points need to be made:  there is no necessary connection between accepting that Christ has a divine hypostasis, on the one hand, and monotheletism on the other hand.  If the will and energy are natural faculties–faculties of the nature–the divinity of the Person does not endanger them (53). 

 Monotheletism

 Actually than rather denying a human will to Christ, monotheletism resigned it to a merely passive state (66, incidentally, this is the view of hyper-Calvinism). 

 The humanity of Christ is more or less a passive instrument (71). 

 The monothelites operated under the presupposition that a difference of wills necessarily equals an opposition of wills.  This is the same reasoning by today’s postmodern thinkers regarding an ontology of violence:  differance is perceived as violence/opposition. 

 Organon concept:  Is the fact that the Logos moves the human flesh of Christ necessarily a monotheletite statement?  No.  One can say this (per Cyril and Athanasius) as long as one doesn’t undermine the human will (93).  

 The Dyothelite Christology of St Maximus the Confessor

Maximus sought the unity of Christ not on the level of nature but on the level of hypostasis (101). 

Hypostasis: it is an essence with idioms, or the essence of an individual man that includes all his idioms (102).  Mode of existence = it is impossible for beings to exist without their mode of the existence.  However, person is not identical with mode of existence (else we turn the humanity of Christ into a person).  Hypostasis responds to the question “who” and indicates an “I” (104; cf. von Balthasar).  Hypostasis is an ontological category.  It does not have to do with the existential domain in the modern sense nor with the unity of consciousness (104). 

Maximus distinguishes the human nature of Christ from the human person:  a hypostasis subsists by itself.  The humanity of Christ was never a hypostasis because it never subsisted by itself (104). 

Hypostatic (a)Symmetry

In Christ the divine nature exists prior to the human, whereas for man the soul comes into existence simultaneously with the body.  In Christ the divine hypostasis is personal. 

Maximus and Essence

Maximus identifies the divine essence with the three persons of the Trinity, but this is aimed not at erasing the all-important distinction between nature and hypostasis, but rather at excluding any sort of tetra-theistic conception of God which would make the essence would be a fourth God beside the three Persons (109).  Accordingly, Maximus identifies Christ with the two natures, in order to prevent a tertium quid existing alongside the natures (e.g., this is what Bulgakov meant by Sophia).   The “who” is identified with the “whats” without being reduced to them (109-110). 

The Ontological Priority of Person/hypostasis over nature/essence

Hypostasis is necessarily nature but nature is not necessarily hypostasis (111). 

The Logos is identifiable with the Divine Nature according to Nature and with both Natures according to Hypostasis

The flesh differs with the Logos according to essence.  “Therefore, it is clear, that for Maximus, whereas the Logos is identical with both natures according to hypostasis–since both natures are united in one hypostasis, which is identical with the incarnate logos, who is their hypostasis–he is identical wtih the incarnate Logos–he is identical only with the divine nature according to nature (112).

 

A Eucharistic Ontology (N. Loudonikos)

Loudonikos, N.  A Eucharistic Ontology: Maximus the Confessor’s Eschatological Ontology of Being as Dialogical Reciprocity.

Try to find a better subtitle.  Change my mind.

Nikolaos Loudonikos (hereafter NL) offers a new facet on St Maximus’ theology. NL maintains that the structure of Christian ontology is both eschatological and Eucharistic. It is eschatological because of Maximus’ insight of “becoming and motion.” Ontology is not static or closed. All things begin, have motion, and are in a state of becoming. They are teleologically oriented towards God. Likewise, ontology is not closed. It opens up in the Eucharist as nature receives and moves outside itself (ek-stasis), not to escape nature, but to open itself even more. Further, the Eucharist is eschatological: it points ahead to the time when God will be all in all.

Like all writers on St Maximus, NL gives an extended discussion of the “logos/logoi.” It is similar to what other standard treatises have said on St Maximus, albeit NL works it within his larger thesis. NL gives an extended discussion of what other Maximian scholars have said on the logoi (55-56). NL will call them the basic principles of God (though of course, he is aware of the many connotations of logoi). Logoi are also the divine wills in God, which will have eschatological and Eucharistic overtones. The logoi interpenetrate one another and thus provide the basis for communion: communion between God and creation and communion between Christians in the Eucharist.

NL gives a short but helpful discussion on both person/hypostasis and the uncreated energies of God. Nature exists in a “mode of existence,” which is the hypostasis (93ff). NL gives a careful discussion of the energies, correcting some Orthodox scholars and rebutting many Thomist claims. Contra to what some think, the “logoi” of creation are not synonymous with the divine energies (99ff). Every nature has an energy, and the energy is constituted by the principle of nature itself. Each energy reveals God in his entirety in each entity in accordance with the logos of its existence. Thus, the doctrine of the uncreated energies imply the doctrine of the logoi. The distinction between essence and energy (this time with Palamas) promotes the distinction between essence and will in God made by Athanasius and the Cappadocians.

Entities commune with one another through their logoi. Here NL (and St Maximus) confront an age-old philosophical problem still present to us: how do entities commune with one another? Hellenism said a nature can never commune with another nature (see also John Locke, Hegel, Descartes, Hume, American worldview). This raises the famous problem of St Maximus’s “Five Divisions.’ Maximus acknowledges the reality of the problem: given the fall and the divisions of nature, inter-entity communion is not likely by itself, and thus the truth would seem to lie with John Locke. How does St Maximus bridge the Five Divisions? He does so with “a Eucharistic Dialectic” (what a perfect phrase coined by NL!). Christ in his recapitulatory work (Ephesians 1:10) heals the divisions of nature. Thus, the “rifts become gifts.” The person of Christ is the locus of the mystery of en-hypostatization. The person of Christ becomes the mode of authentic communion among beings. The Eucharist solidifies this love for us and we are given a share in the divine life (p. 128).

NL gives a helpful, if perhaps not always careful, discussion of the wills in Christ. He first returns to St Maximus’ theology of motion: Maximus inverts the Origenist triad to read: becoming/motion/stasis. All things have motion because they are created. Entities move via their logoi. “Becoming” is seen as the movement of a created order to its goal–the natural “middle term” justifying the genesis of things within their fixity in God.
Free will is the lawful dominion over actions within our power. “Gnome” is defined as the innate appetite for things within our power. It gives rise to choice. Natural will is the movement of a particular person through the gnome. The gnomic will actualizes the natural will’s desire per its logos. The “mode of movement” is the process whereby movement is activated in a personal way (169).

NL has an interesting footnote to this (admittedly) dense discussion. Having will by nature is not the same as the act of “willing.” The former is a natural; the latter is modal and hypostatic. The distinction between natural and gnomic is analogous to the distinction between logos and tropos. However, we should not press the distinction too far: Christ has two natural wills but he does not have a gnomic will (or more precisely, he does not “will” (verb) in a gnomic way, since the latter implies uncertainty.

NL ends the main argument of his thesis with an extended meditation and eventual rejection of Heidegger’s discussion on “being.” He shows how Denis the Areopagite had already anticipated Heidegger’s (correct) deconstruction of Western philosophy, and provides the solution (against Heidegger) in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist we stand outside of ourselves (ek-static) and give to the “other.”

There is one aspect per Maximian studies where NL makes his own “splash.” It is in his subtitle. NL speaks of a “dialogical reciprocity.” This means that God created man in such a way that man has a natural response to God. NL explains this best in contradistinction to later Thomist writers: Man is not simply destined to a “passive” enjoyment of God via the intellect in the beautific vision, but God created man that he would always “be in response” (dia-logos) to the Logos in the eschaton. Not merely the beatific vision, but an active deification, an ever-moving rest. Incidentally, it is in this chapter that NL interacts with the major works on Aquinas and Maximus in the last century.

Conclusion: the book starts off slowly and will put off many readers. The present reviewer is quite familiar with most of the literature on St Maximus (e.g., von Balthasar, Cooper, Bathrellos, Blowers, Louth, and Farrell), yet found the introductory sections of the book difficult to follow. It seemed (at first) that NL was stretching texts to make his thesis (eschatology and Eucharist) fit, and maybe he was. Fortunately, the book is meticulously outlined and easy to follow, once one gets past the first forty pages. I read the book with a notebook, and the outlines made it easy to follow without losing track of the main argument.

Another positive to the book is that NL interacts with most of the current theological and philosophical literature on the topics in the book. He even deals with practical problems raised by the study of St Maximus (thus making him useful, separating him from 90% of academics in the world). The book is good, though there are numerous typographical errors and since the book was translated from Greek, the syntax is occasionally choppy.

Wholly Flesh, Wholly Deified

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Cooper, Adam.  Wholly Flesh, Wholly Deified: The Body in St Maximus the Confessor.  Oxford.

The Body in St Maximus
Cooper takes a theme that is a hot issue in current theological groups (e.g., “the body”) and notes how few Maximus scholars have addressed the issue “what happens to the body when it is deified.” He breaks new ground and shows remarkably skill in holding his complex narrative together.

CONCEALING AND REVEALING
Cooper notes the ways Maximus subtly inverts a lot of ancient (and Origenist) presuppositions about the body. Instead of the body hiding God’s truth, which it does in a way, the body ends up being the focal point for God’s revelation to man in Jesus Christ. Cooper then gives an extended discussion on the various “incarnations” in St Maximus’ thought.

Chapter 2: Corporeality and Cosmos.

This chapter is clearer than the previous one. That said, one should read St Maximus’s “Ambiguum 7” before reading this chapter. It can be found in On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, pp. 45-74. Cooper is examining St Maximus’ response to the 6th century Origenists’ use of St Gregory’s phrase “slipped from God.” They claimed that humanity was originally incorporated into a henad of incorporeal unity.  Creation is thus a fall from this henad.  Maximus rebuts this along the lines of

1) it gives creatures a temporal, pre-eternal existence with God. Therefore, for God to be Lord, he has to be Lord of something (incidentally, this heresy has come again in the teachings of John Piper’s Christian hedonism. In fact, the latter is almost a word-for-word endorsement of Origenism).

2) The doctrine of the henad implies God created the world out of necessity, and not freely. If creation is the necessary result of a fall from unitary simplicity, then it can’t be said to be a free creation. 3) Assumes a fall from a state of perfection. Even if one reaches perfection again (e.g., “Go to heaven”) there is no guarantee against another fall.

St Maximus responds to this by reconstructing what we mean by motion. All created things move since they are brought into existence by God. Motion is natural to created beings and is the structure of the path to deification.

GENESIS –> KINESIS –> STASIS
BEING –> WELL-BEING –> EVERWELL BEING

But St Maximus does see the essential point Origen was getting at. Our current empirical existence suffers from an instability: because of “death” we move from our becoming and source of being from the moment of our coming into being. Cooper anticipates a future answer: the incarnation (and by extension the sacraments) overcomes the chaos of matter.

In chapter three Cooper gives a good summary of Maximus’ triadology. God exists triadically. God is trinity at the level of particular and unity at the level of common. Neither is apart from another. The Trinity is a monad because this is how it is, and the Unity is truly a triad because this is how it exists (133). The one Godhead is monadically and exists triadically.

St Maximus then makes a helpful distinction between LOGOS and TROPOS. Logos has to do with what a thing is at the level of being, and tropos has to do with how a thing is at the level of hypostasis. Cooper then has a dense but important paragraph,

It is by divine illumination, consequently, that we move from the level of unity, which in the order of theologia is denoted by logos, to the level of differentiation, which is denoted by tropos. In the order of economia the pattern is reversed. Unity in Christ occurs at the level of tropos, or hypostasis, whereas differentiation occurs at the level of logos, or ousia. Epistemologically, the latter is arrived at by the encounter with the form (134).

The logos became composite at the hypostatic level–assuming a human nature in its full reality, body and soul (140). The human nature itself is a composite of body and soul; thus, the Logos assumed a composite.

MAXIMUS AND THE CHURCH

Cooper gives a very nuanced discussion of Maximus’ belief and role of the Roman See. Was St Maximus a dogged Filioquist who firmly held to the universal monarchical papacy? The answer is a qualified “no.” Cooper focuses on two letters of Maximus that seem to affirm his believe in the papacy. Cooper notes, however, that the textual authenticity of these is doubtful. Oddly enough, Cooper ignores the Filioque debate and focuses entirely on the Roman See. In short, the letters, corrupted and extant as they are, have Maximus championing “the six Ecumenical Councils.” The problem is obvious: the 6th Council had not yet happened. Roman apologists are quick to point a Lateran Council as the 6th Council of which St Maximus allegedly referred. Perhaps, but it is doubtful that St Maximus (or anybody) would have so soon placed a local Lateran council on the same level with Nicea.

In any case, assuming Maximus did say that (which is by no means certain), he said that because of the sanctuary he found in Rome and of Rome’s confession of Orthodoxy. That begs the question of Rome’s supposed infallibility. Suffice to say, Maximus’ interrogators informed him that Rome had now abandoned dyotheletism (which may or may not have been true at the time). This forced Maximus to sharpen his ecclesiology: the truth lay in orthodoxy itself, not in a particular See. Indeed, it would go on to say that the dogma judges the synod (and by extension the sees).

That said, that is not the point of the chapter. Cooper gives us a very good explication of the relation between corporeality, the church, and hierarchy. Contrary to modern feminists and Gnostics (which are the same thing), hierarchy does not abandon freedom of worship in the Spirit, but establishes it. In language reminiscent of Dionysius and Proclus, Maximus advocates a “hierarchical return” by means of the liturgy.

CONCLUSION

Cooper ends his discussion summing up the previous book when answering the question, “What happens to the body in deification?” The short answer is, “it experiences death in an intense form.” Maximus identifies our baptism as a baptism in Christ death and resurrection (in other words, he doesn’t hem-haw around Romans 6). When we participate in virtue and in suffering, we are identifying even more intensely with Christ’s death via our baptism. Cooper also gives us a fascinating discussion of faith alone and good works. Contrary to later Protestant polemics, good works are the manifestation of God’s mercy in our flesh for the sake of others. In St Maximus–on Cooper’s gloss, anyway–good works take on a social dimension.

The book is probably worth the $170, which is unfortunate since few can afford it. It does not stand alone, though. It does not deal with the nature of Christ’s wills and its discussion of ousia and hypostasis is short. To be fair to Cooper this was not his stated aim. This book will likely remain the standard in the field on these topics.

Outline of Maximus’ Cosmology

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Chapter 3: The Logos, logoi, and created beings

  1. Key to Maximus’s cosmology is the mystery of Christ (64).
    1. The logoi are all contained in the divine wisdom, not just his thoughts but his acts of will.
    2. Logoi are ideas through which the creative will of God manifests itself (66).
    3. The logoi are divine intentions for created beings.
  2. Logos as Centre of all Logoi
    1. The logoi are pre-existent.
      1. They are divine ideas through which the essences of such beings are instituted by the creative act (71).
      2. Dialectic as tearing apart. The fall represents an opposite movement, where man no longer moves in accordance with the logos of his being.
    2. Expansion and Contraction
      1. Expansion roughly corresponds with the Neoplatonic procession, but for Maximus it is God’s distributing the essence from highest (genera) to lowest (species).
      2. “The one logos in creative act should not be considerd an empty name for a sum of logoi….It seems rather that the One Logos holds the logoi together” (79).
      3. Principles of being: the means by which the Logos of God extends to the end of the world of creatures (sort of like the radii to the periphery of hte circle).
  3. The Logoi as Principles of a Porphyrian Tree
    1. Division of Being (Amb. 41).  The “subject” in question refers to particular beings of which accidents are predicates.  Somewhat equivalent to Aristotle’s substance.
    2. Maximus’s division of beings is in accordance with the divine logoi.  “The logoi are principles that are institutive of the essences of creatures” (85).
    3. God’s eternal wisdom is identical with the sum total of the logoi (87).
      1. What God has defined eternally and what he wills at the moment of creation is conceived in the logoi as a system of essence with internal differentiations (87).
      2. However, the logoi cannot be seen as a reservoir of Ideas or Forms.
    4. Universals: the logoi aren’t really universals in themselves, but are rather principles of immanent universal arrangements (91).
      1. The divine Logos manifests from Himself a logos of being as universal category, logoi of genera and species, logoi of individuals (91).
  4. The Ordering of Essential Being–Expansion and Contraction
    1. Maximus’ basic category is essence/ousia (93).
    2. There are two aspects of Maximus’ view of essence: common nature and particular nature.
      1. Common nature: location in particular beings; collects particulars into wholes.
        1. For Maximus created beings are comprised by their logoi.
        2. Essence and nature are said to be common and universal (Amb. 14).
      2. Difference: it is the effect of a logos of creation (98).
        1. The divide the genus but function constitutively  on the level of species.
        2. These are dynamic relations in the real world.
      3. Particular nature:
    3. Universals: the universals consist of particulars. If a particular perishes, the universal perishes.  Yet, the logoi cannot perish.
        1. For Maximus essence contracts and expands (Amb. 10). It is moved from the generic to the specific.
        2. It’s movement is the process of expansion.
    4. The movement of expansion is the ontological constitution of the cosmos (108).
      1. This moves from most genus (ousia) to most specific species, yet this isn’t an ontological scale with non-being at the bottom, for:
      2. God has no opposite (De Char. 3.28).
    5. The contractive movement is what unites the beings.
  5. Ontological Constitution of Created Beings
    1. Triad of origin –Middle — End
      Triad of essence — potentiality (power) — activity (actuality)
      Logos of being–logos of well-being–logos of eternal well-being
    2. These triads are constitutive of all created beings.
    3. An essence has in itself a limit (horos).  This limit is essential determination.
      1. This limit is due to the presence of a logos.
      2. The preconditioning essence makes present a potentiality which is to be actualized (119).
    4. What is a person?
      1. Greek philosophers: an individual is a collection of properties and this “bundle” cannot be contemplated in another.
      2. Fathers: a hypostasis is an essence with properties.
      3. A hypostasis does not exist separate from nature, but is always present
      4. The being of a hypostasis is in tension between the logos of nature and the mode of existence.
        1. A nature must always have a hypostasis, but not necessarily a hypostasis of its own kind.
        2. This is why Christ doesn’t have a human hypostasis.
      5. In the tropos (en men to tropo) the changeability of persons is know in in their activity, in the logos in the inalterability of natural operation (Th. Pol. 10).
      6. The mode of fallen man is dialectical, pulling in two different directions, since it doesn’t orient itself to the logos of its being.

The Divine Activity

Thesis: Maximus presupposes a distinction between essence, energy, logoi, and created beings.

  1. In earlier philosophy:
    1. Aristotle: distinction between potentiality and actuality is what explains change.
      1. An energeia is an action which includes the end (Metaph. Theta, 3.1047a30ff.).
  2. God’s essence and activities according to St Gregory Palamas.
    1. If man is to be deified by participation in God, and if the essence of God is imparticipable, then man must be deified by some other ‘aspect’ of God than His essence (140).
    2. The activity/energy is contemplated in God but God is not a matter for composition.
      1. When we say ‘God’ we do not mean the trihypostatic essence separately, but the essence with the activity.
      2. The energy is not separated from the essence because it is always from it (ex ekeines ousan)
    3. God’s energies are not an accident (Palamas Capita 127 and 135:
      1. Accidents come into being and pass away, which does not apply to God.
    4. The primary sense of energy is activity.
      1. It is the essential motion of nature (Capita 150, 143).
      2. The capacity of activity belongs to the nature from which it proceeds.
      3. The activities are certain powers which are deifying, life-giving, causing being, granting wisdom (quoted in Dionysius DN 2.7).
    5. The energies aren’t hypostases.
      1. They are natural manifestations and processions of the Spirit.
      2. They are proper to God’s essence before God relates himself to anything ‘other’ through them (144).
    6. The divine essence is One but the activities are plural; hence, they are distinguished from the essence.
      1. The divine will is the principle of distribution (similar to Maximus’s logoi).
      2. An energy is never a quasi-hypostasis that is a go-between the essence and the creature.
      3. It does not follow the essence in an external fashion.
    7. Dionysius
      1. Through the processions God is the cause of being, life, wisdom, etc.
      2. The divine names are divine activities (Goodness, Being, Life, Wisdom).
  3. Essence and Activity according to St Maximus.
    1. Two kinds of divine works: that which he began to create, and that which he did not begin to create (Cap. Gnost. 1.48).
    2. If something participates in a certain quality, then it participates in hierarchical order in more and more inclusive qualities (162).
  4. The Energies and the Logoi
    1. The logoi are God’s intention through which all creatures receive their generic, specific, and individual essences.  The logoi are acts of will instituting essence.
      1. They are the principles by which creatures participate in God (174). Cf. De Char. 3.23-25.
      2. By his logos of being man is constituted a essence which joins in the triadic structure of essence–potentiality–activity.
      3. Essence is the origin of potentiality.
    2. The divine energy is the manifestation of God’s power as Being, Goodness, etc.

Concept of Participation

  1. Basic idea
    1. God transcends every relation.
    2. As the cause of creatures God is immanent.
    3. Incarnation is the ontological condition of participation.
  2. The problem of participation.
    1. How do the many participate in the One without the One being divided up (since God is simple)?
    2. Plotinus: procession is the activity out of the essence
  3. The Logic of Participation
    1. When different hypostases have the same essence, there is a unity according to essence.
    2. For Aristotle, separateness is characteristic of ousia (Metaphysics M, 9.1058b34ff).  This means separate entities will exist independently of each other.  This is fatal to the hypostatic union.

Metaphysics of Symbol

Hans urs von Balthasar suggested that Letter is to be transformed into Spirit.  This isn’t necessarily a spirit-matter dualism (which I don’t think existed before the fall), though that is certainly true post-fall.  Man before the Fall saw the connection between the forms to the universal Form, or Logos.

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St Maximus said that the one LOGOS is the many LOGOI (I am summarizing key parts from his Ambiguum 7). Collectively, the Forms are LOGOI, which is LOGOS, which is the Second Person of the Trinity. The Logos is revealed and multiplied in the Forms (logoi) which are then recapitulated back into the Logos (Ephesians 1:10). The Logos is the interconnecting cause that holds the Forms together. The Logoi, therefore, pre-exist in God.

The Logoi is the content of the manifestation of the Logos.  That manifestation is the Holy Spirit.

A florilegium of Maximus

Just some of my favorite quotes from Maximus the Confessor:

“The Confessor reworks the categories of time, extension, and aeonic existence in an effort to describe an indescribable state. This moving rest presupposes a kind of extension (diastema) that is beyond time (kronos), and yet short of God’s own utter timelessness: a temporal timelessness or aeon, a moving motionlessness. On this plane the creature enjoys “eternally moving repose” as a finite being open toward the infinite, and yet also knows an “immobile eternal movement” since the end of the finite being is infinite and unattainable  Thus the final stasis is thus a ‘dialectic vibration between time and timelessness, between creature and Creator.”  (Blowers, Maximus the Confessor, Gregory of Nyssa and the Notion of Perpetual Progress)

HT to Jay Dyer on that one.  Actually, thanks to Jay on all these quotes.  Sure, I had read them before, since I’ve read almost everything Maximus has written that has been translated into English, but Jay did the hard work in getting the quotes online.

“The soul’s salvation is the consummation of faith. This consummation is the revelation of what has been believed. Revelation is the inexpressible interpénétration (τιεριχώρησις) of the believer with (or toward, προς) the object of belief and takes place according to each believer’s degree of faith. Through that interpénétration the believer finally returns to his origin. The return is the fulfillment of desire.

Fulfillment of desire is ever-active repose in the object of desire. Such repose is eternal uninterrupted enjoyment of this object. Enjoyment of this kind entails participation in supranatural divine realities. This participation consists in the participant becoming like that in which he participates. Such likeness involves, so far as this is possible, an identity with respect to energy between the participant and that in which he participates by virtue of the likeness. This identity with respect to energy constitutes the deification of the saints.”

-Cap. D. 4.19, PG 90.1312A-B = Ad Thal. 59, PG 90.608C-609B; G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware, eds., and trans., The Philokalia. The Complete Text, 5 vols. (London, 1979-), 2:239-240.

Ambiguum 7

If by wisdom and a person has come to understand that what exists was brought out of non-being into being by God, he intelligently directs the soul’s imagination to the infinite differences and variety of things as they exist by nature and turns his questing eye with understanding towards the intelligible model (logos) according to which things have been made, would he now know that the one Logos is many logoi? This is evident in the many incomparable differences among created things. For each is unmistakably unique in itself and its identity remains distinct in relation to other things. He will also know that the many logoi are the one Logos to whom all things are related and who exists in himself without confusion, the essential and individually distinctive God, the Logos of God the Father. He is the beginning and cause of all things in whom all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities–all things were created from him and through him and for him(Col. 1:15-17, Rom. 11:36). Because he held together in himself the logoi before they came to be, by his gracious will he created things visible and invisible out of non-being. By his word and his wisdom he made all things (Wisdom 9:1-2) and is making all things, universals as well as particulars, at the proper time.

For we believe that a logos of angels preceded their creation, a logos preceded the creation of each of the beings and powers that fill the upper world, a logos preceded the creation of human beings, a logos preceded the creation of everything that proceeded from God, and so on. It is not necessary to mention them all. The Logos whose excellence is incomparable, ineffable and inconceivable in himself is exalted beyond all creation and even beyond the idea of difference and distinction. This same Logos whose goodness is revealed and multiplied in all the things that have their origin in him, with the degree of beauty appropriate to each being, recapitulates all things in himself(Eph. 1:10). Through his Logos there came to be both being and continuing to be, for from him the things that were made came to be in a certain way and for a certain reason, and by continuing to be and moving, they participate in God. For all things, in that they came to be from God, participate proportionally in God. For all things, whether by intellect, by reason, by sense-perception, by vital motion, or by some habitual fitness, as the great inspired Dionysius the Areopagite taught. Consequently, each of the intellectual and rational beings, whether angels or human beings, through the very Logos according to which each were created, who is in God and is with God (John 1:1), is called and indeed is a “portion of God,” through the Logos that preexisted in God as I already argued.

If someone is moved according to the Logos, he will come to be in God, in whom the logos of his being preexists and is his beginning and case. Furthermore, if he is moved by desire and wants to attain nothing more than his own beginning, he does not move away from God. Rather, by constant straining toward God, he becomes God and is called a “portion of God” because he has become fit to participate in God…he ascends to to the Logos by whom he was created and in whom all things will ultimately be restored (apokatastasis)…The logoi of all things known by God before their creation are securely fixed in God. They are in him who is the truth of all things.

We are speechless before the sublime teaching about the Logos, for he cannot be expressed in words or conceived in thought. Although he is beyond being and nothing can participate in him in any way, nor is he any of the totality of things that can be known in relation to other things, nevertheless we affirm that the one Logos is many logoi and the many logoi are One. Because the One goes forth in goodness into individual being, creating and preserving them, the One is many. Moreover, the many are directed toward the One and are providentially guided in that direction. It is as though they were drawn to an all-powerful center that had built into it the beginnings of the lines that go out from it and that gathers them all together. In this way the many are one. Therefore we are called a portion of God because the logoi of our being pre-existed in God. Further, we are said to have slipped down from above because we do not move in accordance with the Logos (who pre-existed in God) through whom we came to be….

In such a person the apostolic word is fulfilled: In him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). For whoever does not violate the logosof his own existence that pre-existed in God is in God through diligence; and he movesin God according to the logos of his well-being that pre-existed in God when he lives virtuously; and he lives in God according to the logosof his eternal being that pre-existed in God. On the one hand, insofar as he is already irrevocably one with himself in his dispositions, he is free of unruly passions. But in the future age when graced with divinization, he will affectionately love and cleave to the logoi already mentioned that pre-existed in God, or rather, he will love God himself, in whom the logoi of beautiful things are securely grounded. In this way he becomes a “portion of God,” insofar as he exists through the logos of his being which is in God and insofar as he is good through the logos of his well-being which is in God; and insofar as he is God through the logos of his eternal being which is in God, he prizes the logoiand acts according to them. Through them he places himself wholly in God alone, wholly imprinting and forming God alone in himself, so that by grace he himself is God and is called God. By his gracious condescension God became man and is called man for the sake of man and by exchanging his condition for ours revealed the power that elevates man to God through his love for God and brings God down to man because of his love for man. By this blessed inversion, man is made God by divinization and God is made man by hominization. For the Word of God and God wills always and in all things to accomplish the mystery of his embodiment.

…The mystery hidden from the ages (Col 1:26) and from the nations is now revealed through the true and perfect incarnation of the Son and God. For he united our nature to himself in a single hypostasis, without division and without confusion, and joined us to himself as a kind of first fruits. This holy flesh with its intellectual and rational soul came from us and is ours. He deemed us worthy to be one and the same with himself according to his humanity. For we were predestined before the ages (cf Eph 1:11-12) to be in him as members of his body. He adapted us to himself and knitted us together in the Spirit as a soul to a body and brought us to the measure of spiritual maturity derived from his fullness. For this we were created; this was God’s good purpose for us before the ages. But this renewal did not come about through the normal course of things, it was only realized when a wholly new way of being human appeared. God had made us like himself and allowed us to participate in the very things that are most characteristic of his goodness. Before the ages he had intended that man’s end was to live in him, and to reach this blessed end he bestowed on us the good gift of our natural powers. But by misusing our natural powers we willingly rejected the way God had provided and we became estranged from God. For this reason another way was introduced, more marvelous and more befitting of God than the first, and as different from the former as what is above nature is different from what is according to nature. And this, as we all believe, is the mystery of the mystical sojourn of God with men. For if, says the divine apostle, the first covenant had been blameless, there would have been no occasion for a second (Heb 8:7). It is clear to all that the mystery accomplished in Christ at the end of the age (Heb 9:26) shows indisputably that the sin of our forefather Adam at the beginning of the age has run its course.

(in Paul M. Blowers and Robert Louis Wilken, trs., On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, pp 58, 59, 70-71).