The Unity of Christ (Beeley)

THE GREAT MASTER: ORIGEN

Alexandria Egypt was the crossroads of the world (Dio Chrysostom).  Alexandrian Christianity had rather diverse beginnings.

First Principles: “Origen’s presentation of his doctrinal system here is arguably the most influential single theological project in all of Christian tradition outside of the canonical Scriptures” (Beeley 11).

Christ and Cosmology

words of Christ include “the whole of Scripture” (13).  

“Origen encourages readers to move beyond the human Christ.”

  • dualist view of the cosmos: the physical and sensible world seen as radically impermanent compared to the intellectual sphere. God and the saints inhabit a spiritual world in contrast to the physical world (15).  

Origen’s dualist cosmology came at a certain cost:  it determined how he spoke about Christ.

  • he notes that Christ has two natures, but places these two natures within a Platonic, dualist cosmology.

Divinity and Distinctness

  • our source of knowledge: epinoiai; conceptions.  
  • For Origen a hypostasis is a distinctly existing thing; a concrete entity or being (Cm. John. 10.212).  
  • On the Son’s being:  ousia meant something different for Origen than it did for Nicea.  For Origen this suggested a diminution from the Father’s being.  “Being” suggests the actual existence of a thing, so for two things to share the same being is to be the same thing.

The Image of God

  • The Son has many epinoiai in contrast with the Father’s simplicity.  The Father cannot be directly describable because of his simplicity. Only the Christ, who becomes many things, can image the Father’s simplicity.  The Son is mediator between God and creation, not as an intermediary of being, but in the Son’s way of being divine.

Incarnation: Image Revealed

  • The human soul of Jesus bridges the gap between God’s divinity and Christ’s humanity. In fact, Origen must hold to trichotomy as the only way to bridge the gap. 

FOURTH CENTURY AUTHORITIES

Eusebius of Caesarea

Origen was regarded by some as an accurate transmitter of the rule of faith (51).  ++

Economia

  • God’s ordered dealings with creation, which culminate in the Incarnation.
    • Eus. wants to maintain that Christ is “divine” and older than creation.  Therefore, the Christian faith is really ancient.
  • “theology:” confession of the divinity of Christ.  It is the interpretation of economia (64).
    • Christ’s manner of existence is two-fold
      • He is known to be God by those who believe.
      • Yet he put on human existence capable of suffering.
    • Beeley maintains that Eus. does not see Christ’s generation in any temporal sense (67).  
      • Christ is divine not as an independent deity (one god among others), but as the direct result of his specific relatinship with God the Father.

Does Eusebius hold to a hierarchy of being ala Middle Platonism?

  • To be sure he does say the Son is the bond between creation and God.  But this may be an overly literal reading of his texts. 

Is Eusebius a Semi-Arian??

  • Beeley argues that Eusebius uses temporal prepositions devoid of temporal meaning (91).  He is concerned to use “biblical, rather than philosophical” terms to stress the Son’s transcendence over creation.
  • Eusebius uses a sequential language to underscore our theological epistemology:  we must remember the “causal ordering of the divine generation…Eusebius’s language preserves the economic basis of theological knowing with respect to the inner structure of the Trinity, resisting the leap to an artififical, abstract conceptuality of pure eternity” (92).  

Christology:  Martyrdom leads to political triumph.

  • Eusebius’s understanding of matyrdom “is far from an abstract concern.  It is initially tied up with the surrounding Greco-Roman society in wys that call on Christians to witness to Christ with their bodies as much as with their minds” (96).

NICEA AND ATHANASIUS

Both Arius and Alexander departed from Origen:

  • Arius in denying the Son’s consubstantiality
  • Alexander in denying that the Son was generated from the Father’s will (116).

Alexander’s modifications:

  • Son always exists from the Father..  The Greek term aei denotes nonsequentiality (116);  

Athanasius I

  • Christ’s identity as the eternal Word of God. 
    • Logos idea: Word is truly of or from the Father (128).  
    • Principle of existence or means of God’s providence (C. Gent. 29, 42, 46). 
  • Salvation Through Incarnation
    • Our need to overcome death and mortality (Inc. 10).  Overcome this by participating in the Word (Inc. 4-5, 11).  
    • Our natural state is “corruption towards non-being” (Inc. 4, 7).  
    • Christ’s death reverses all of this
  • The Word versus its Flesh
    • highly dualist conception of Christ (Beeley 133).   Distingishes between the human body and the Word. 
    • Divine word did not suffer at all when it was born/died (Inc. 17).  
    • The Word used the body as an instrument (Inc. 20).  
  • Dualist Cosmology and Anthropology
    • strong distinction between intelligible and sensible realms (C. Gent 10).  
    • Radical division between being and nonbeing. 
    • God is known by works, but we can’t know his essence.  This raises a tension:  how can the Word reveal itself through his bodily acts yet deny any knowledge of God’s essence (136)?  
  • Conclusions:
    • Logos Christology is dualist.
    • Absolute impassibility of the Word.

Athanasius II: The Orations Against the Arians

Per Marcellus of Ancyra, the human Christ will eventually cease to be in the eternal kingdom; this is probably why the Creed says “His kingdom will have no end” (144).  

  • Rhetorical strategy:  mean
  • The Image of God
    • This is a new development in his works.  
    • Christ is the image and form of divinity.
      • He reveals the divinity of the Father, the brightness of the Father’s light.
      • The Father sees himself in this image (Prov. 8:30; C. Ar. 1.20; 2.82).
    • If Image, then fully divine
    • Language of mediation:  
      • denies the “Word” is a mediator of divinity to creatures, except in Incarnate form (C. Ar. 1.59: 2.31).  
      • If God requires a mediator, then wouldn’t the mediator require a mediator, and so on ad infinitum? (C. Ar. 2.26). 
    • Is God’s will distinct from his being?
      • C. Ar. 1.29; 3.62
  • The Incarnation
    • Christ’s human experiences were not the experiences of the WOrd, but of his human flesh alone (C. Ar. 1.41).  
    • Beeley argues Athanasius’s debt to Marcellus (154). 
    • The communicatio idiomatum is strictly verbal (155; cf. C. Ar. 3.32; 41).
    • It is hard for Athanasius to say that Jesus developed (Luke 2:52).  
  • Technical terminology
    • emphasis on strict oneness between Word and Father (follows Origen).  
    • metaphysics:  real problem with Arian term “originate” is that it means the Word was created in time and ex nihilo (Decr. 16).  
    • homousion as generic: relationship b/t father and son–common nature shared by derivation; relationship b/t all humans of one class (Ep. Serap. 2.8-9).

Athanasius III: The Late WOrks 

CAPPADOCIANS

  • Homoian debate
  • Apollinarius
    • Despite his problems in truncating Jesus’s soul, he raises a valid point: what is Christ’s “acting principle?”  Traditional ontology and psychology would have said “the soul.”  If Jesus had two souls, per Apollinarius, then which one is the “acting” one?
  • Gregory of Nazianzus
    • Views Christ’s identity in dynamic, narrative terms (Beeley 185)
    • the very nature of human existence is a dynamic movement towards God rooted in our creation and oriented towards consummation (185).  By anchoring theosis in the goodness of human creation, Gregory avoids most of the pitfalls associated with this doctrine.
      • Christ is the means of our restoration.
      • Xp effects our divinization in and through himself.
      • He uses language of “mixture” (mixis), “union” (henosis), and “blending” (krasis). in regards to the divinity and humanity in Christ.  
        • Not a crass mixture, though.  Gregory isn’t too clear on this point.
    • Biblical interpretation:  Gregory’s understanding of perichoresis is to emphasize the difference b/t intra-Trinitarian relations and the union of God with humanity (Beeley 189, cf. Ep. 101.20-21).  
      • communicatio is true at the level of Christ’s being.  Christ did not merely operate (energein) by grace, but was and is joined together with human existence in his being (Ep. 101.22).  Here is a huge advance over Athanasius’s dualism. 
      • His method preserves the unity of Christ and, pace Athanasius, does not see the humanity as a separate existence.
    • The suffering of God.  incorporation of human suffering into the divine life (not simply divine being;  he is not abandoning impassibility, but seeing God’s being as life).  
    • Through the knowledge of Christ as “God made visible,” Christians are divinized and elevated through faith (Beeley 194; cf. Or. 29.18-19).
  • Gregory of Nyssa
    • he embraced Greek philosophy more than did Basil or Nazianzus.
    • Against Eunomius
      • Nyssa focuses on the language of creation.
      • For the most part Gregory does not represent an advance on the Nazianzen.   Per the communicatio he repeats both Ath. and Naz., “the lowly statements apply to the Servant; the honors to the master’ (Beeley 208; cf. C. Eun. 3.3.65-66).  
        • the divinity participated in Christ’s passion by serving as the active principle against the passivity of the flesh (210).  
    • Against Apollinaris
      • Here Gregory’s dualist Christology almost comes apart (see his references to a drop of wine in the sea; Christ not coming again bodily, but in the Father’s glory–Antirrh. 230).

THE CONSTRUCTION OF ORTHODOXY

Augustine and the West

  • Hilary of Poitiers
    • Transition point between East and West.
    • “carries forward a revitalized Eusebian tradition…Origen” (226).  
    • “The Trinity”
      • The Son’s generation is closely tied with role as unique revealer of the Father.
      • Distinction between Father-Son relationship and Creator-creature relationship.
      • The Son is image of the Father’s substance; distinct but not dissimilar.
      • One God because one principle (Trin. 5.10; 7.32).
    • Hilary’s weak points:
      • Jesus did not have the same kind of humanity as us (10.23), 
      • Did not believe Jesus possessed a corruptible human substance.
      • This “froze his Christology in a particular dualist position” (Beeley 230).
  • Ambrose of Milan
    • He indirectly corrected Hilary’s project.
    • echoes Nazianzus that Christ’s divine identity need not conflict with his human.
    • The Word died a human death, not a divine one (Inc. 5.36).
    • Divine mediation:  not only reconciles us to God but positively convey’s divine nature to us (Inc. 4.23).
  • Augustine’s early Christology
    • Consciously adopted the “one persona, duabas naturas” (concept).
    • Strongly unitive Christology
    • Christ is the crucial link between the divine love and the love we show others.
    • Totus Christus
    • Augustine’s use of “two personae” is not meant to be dualist: “he uses the term to mean something like a literary persona or voice” (Beeley 240).
  • Augustine’s Mature Christology
    • Christ’s humanity is humanity of the divine Son; he is divinely human.
    • Augustine’s project, while deficient in many respects, does constitute an advance in one key area:  he ties in the juridical aspect. (Trin. 4.19).
  • Augustine’s Late Christology
    • Christ’s introduces “healing into the death of the flesh” by the hidden and mysterious power of the divine decree.
    • Christ’s mediation is his divine-human identity.  
      • The nature of divine mediation is not to wield absolute power but to extend oneself in love and justice (Civ Dei. 9.16-17).

CYRIL, LEO, and CHALCEDON

  • Cyril of Alexandria
    • His major influence, argues Beeley (258), was not Athanasius but Gregory Nazianzen.
      • His use of “Hypostatic union” at this point is not strictly technical.
      • The Word is united with human flesh as a single hypostasis.  Union is “the concurrence into one reality (en) of the things united” (Un. Chr. 3.62/ Ep. Eulog. 64).  
      • “The one nature”
  • Leo of Rome
    • we see the language of “both natures acting.”  This is a very definite–though often unnoticed–move away from Cyril.   Natures do not act.  Persons do.
    • Beeley openly states that “Leo’s position is essentially the same as Nestorius” (Beeley 276).
    • Chalcedon bypasses the earlier narrative dynamics of Gregory and Cyril (economy of salvation) and moves into technical language (282).

POST-CHALCEDONIAN CHRISTOLOGY

  • Leontius of Byzantium
    • all natures are hypostasized but need not have multiple hypostases. 
    • the hypostatic characteristic of every nature is not the same as the nature itself.
      • a nature is a general category; hypostasis a specific one. A hypostasis exists in itself, whereas a nature can only exist in a hypostasis.
      • The problem is that this leads to a generic definition of the Trinity
      • The hypostasis is seen as a principle of individuation.  
      • His connection of the two natures suggest they exist within a kind of netrual space, rather than in the Son of God (291). 
  • Constantinople II
  • Maximus the Confessor
    • Did he misunderstand Gregory?  Gregory sees the Trinity as a monad moving to a dyad and ending in a triad (Or. 23.8).  Maximus resists this meaning and says Gregory is speaking of creation (Quaest. 105; Ambig. 1).
    • Places himself in a narrative understanding of Christology.
    • The wills work together in this way: The divine Son wills all that Christ does.  He is the ultimate subject of all of Christ’s works.   But Jesus also had a natural human will–whether or not to follow and obey the divine will.
    • Jesus’s will is not gnomic (300ff). It does not wander or subject itself to wavering human condition.
  • John of Damascus
    • He differs with Maximus’s approach in several respects:  he does not begin with Nazianzen but as a committed Chalcedonian he filters the fathers through that standpoint.
    • He relies heavily on Leontius.
    • Even though Jesus’s humanity is divinized, Damascene emphasizes that it was God who became man, not man becoming God.

Observations

Beeley shows how the old Antiochene/Alexandrian divide breaks down at key moments (272).

Maximus the Confessor: 200 Chapters on theology

So the question of the hour is “How does this work compare to Maximus’s other treatment in Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ? Cosmic Mystery deals primarily with Maximus’s anti-Origenist polemic and his treatment of the two wills of Christ. This work certainly touches on those issues, but not directly. Luis Sales does a fine intro to this rather advanced work on theology. In doing so,

200 chapters

Sales clarifies key Maximian terms and suggests a unifying theme: the two ages. Tantum…quantum (hoson…tosouton). The two ages refer to a single, unifying movement of divine condescension. Human and divine experiences interweave the fabrics of space/time (Sales 26).  Maximus’s Two Ages: one age leads to Incarnation; the other to human deification. Yet they aren’t meant to stay apart. They interweave into one movement.

This work also deals more heavily with the doctrine of God proper. God is beyond substance, potentiality, and actuality (Maximus I.2). God isn’t substance. He causes substance. Further, it touches on the relation of God to thought: Since All thought contains plurality, “since there is a mediating relationship between the two specific extremes” (1.82)., and God is simple, then God is beyond thought (2.2).

The book ends with a beautiful section on the consummation of the Ages. Origen is wrong because we can’t fall into another age once we reach stasis with God because God is beyond, indeed even “preceding” those ages. Origen posits stasis, kinesis, genesis. Maximus says this won’t hold because it assumes that God is incapable of satisfying every desire, thus a fall. Therefore, we have instead Becoming, Movement, Rest.

Should you get this work? Yes, but perhaps not right away. You should definitely read St Gregory and Pseudo-Dionysius beforehand, or much of Maximus will be lost on you. This is theology at the highest level. Also, this contains the Greek text.

Vipers of Venice: The Topological Metaphor

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This is sort of a sequel to Babylon’s Banksters.  It’s mostly excellent, though he does get into his anti-Yahweh speculation at times.  I don’t think that is necessary to his thesis and it somewhat detracts from the book. On the other hand, his comments on the nature of mind, soul, and the Topological Metaphor are outstanding.

1 = 3

Imagine an undifferentiated “No-Thing.”  This isn’t “nothing” in the sense of non-existence.  It’s rather like an empty hyper-set. Designate it with Φ.   Imagine an empty rectangle:

Image result for rectangle

Strictly speaking, this rectangle, or empty set, doesn’t have any edges.  It is an infinitely extended no-thing. Now, we cleave this space:

Image result for rectangle with circles inside

So now we have two spaces, “all that inside the circle, and all outside it” (Farrell 126). All of the space outside the circle will be the interior of space 1, designated as a topological “o” superscript above the Φ.  But since the rectangle goes on forever, what we really have is this:

Related image

(1) Φ⁰

The space inside the circle is another interior, (2) Φ⁰.

And the common surface between the two, designated with an alpha

ɑΦ₁₂

Now let’s look at what just happened.  Remember we still have our empty hyperset (Φ).  We now have three derivatives: the space outside the circle, the space inside the circle, and the common surface between the two.  Thus,

Φ = (1) Φ⁰, (2) Φ⁰, and ɑΦ₁₂

Therefore, 1 = 3.  I’m going to take this model in a radically different direction than does Farrell. He thinks this model represents an earlier way of thinking about the cosmos that predated Yahwist traditions. I’m skeptical of that claim, as some of Farrell’s positions have come under attack.

But the model itself is quite powerful, and it explains a way of looking at some difficult sayings by St Maximus the Confessor.

“According to St. Maximus, God is “identically a monad and a triad.” Capita theologica et oeconomica2, 13; P.G. 90, col. 1125A.He is not merely one and three; he is 1=3 and 3=1. That is to say, here we are not concerned with number as signifying quantity: absolute diversities cannot be made the subjects of sums of addition; they have not even opposition in common. If, as we have said, a personal God cannot be a monad — if he must be more than a single person — neither can he be a dyad. The dyad is always an opposition of two terms, and, in that sense, it cannot signify an absolute diversity. When we say that God is Trinity we are emerging from the series of countable or calculable numbers. St. Basil appears to express this idea well: “For we do not count by way of addition, gradually making increase from unity to plurality, saying ‘one, two, three’ or ‘first, second, third.’ ‘I am the first and I am the last,’ says God (Isaiah 44:6). And we have never, even unto our own days, heard of a second God. For in worshipping ‘God of God’ we both confess the distinction of persons and abide by the Monarchy.” De spiritu sancto18; P.G. 32, col. 149B. The procession of the Holy Spirit is an infinite passage beyond the dyad, which consecrates the absolute (as opposed to relative) diversity of the persons. This passage beyond the dyad is not an infinite series of persons but the infinity of the procession of the Third Person: the Triad suffices to denote the Living God of revelation. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Or. 23 (De pace 3), 10; P.G. 35, col. 1161. Or. 45 (In sanctum pascha); P.G. 36, col. 628C.If God is a monad equal to a triad, there is no place in him for a dyad. Thus the seemingly necessary opposition between the Father and the Son, which gives rise to a dyad, is purely artificial, the result of an illicit abstraction. Where the Trinity is concerned, we are in the presence of the One or of the Three, but never of two.

When we speak of the Personal God, who cannot be a monad, and when, bearing in mind the celebrated Plotinian passage in the works of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, we say that the Trinity is a passage beyond the dyad and beyond its pair of opposed terms, “The monad is set in motion on account of its richness; the dyad is surpassed, because Divinity is beyond matter and form; perfection is reached in the triad, the first to surpass the composite quality of the dyad, so that the Divinity neither remains constrained nor expands to infinity.” St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Or. 23 (De pace3), 8; P.G. 35, col. 1160C. See also Or. 29 (Theologica3), 2; P.G. 36, col. 76B.  (Lossky, “The Procession of the Holy Spirit in Orthodox Theology”)

But back to Farrell’s argument.  Because the above model is written in quasi-mathematical terms, and because it couldn’t exist without a conscious observer (or Mind), this means we have an information-creating system.  This is a system that doesn’t reduce to a closed cosmos (and thus Aristotle is false).

Farrell says the hermetic occultist Giordano Bruno was advocating something like that.  Maybe. The problem is that Bruno couched all of it in what we call New Age terminology, and that’s partly why he got burned at the stake.  There might have been another reason why he got burned: he advocated a way of approaching the world, and particularly finance, that attacked the Aristotelian and (ironically) usurious system of the Venetians.  Bruno thought he could tap into the primordial medium.

Excursus:  Is it possible to tap into this medium?

Let’s say some sort of “zero-point” medium exists.  Is it possible to tap into it and should we? I think it is possible, but I think it is very dangerous to do so.  This might explain the phenomena behind remote viewing. The mind is a non-local entity (and that’s good Christian doctrine).  Therefore, it is somehow connected with this Medium, or at least it has access to it.

I think it is kind of like looking through the Palantir in Lord of the Rings.  Other entities are also using it and you could accidentally open a gateway.

Another problem with Bruno’s interpretation of the Medium is that he saw the descending forms as mutable gods.  There are two legitimate ways to respond to Bruno: say that Plato’s forms aren’t gods but rather pockets of mathematical information.  That is what the physicist Werner Heisenberg argued. We could also say that yes, indeed, they are gods. They are the fallen beney elohim.  That also does an end-run around Farrell’s use of Babylonian entities in the Cosmic War and Giza Death Star Destroyed.

 

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.

Microcosm and Mediator (Lars Thunberg)

Key terms in St Maximus

Diaphora: it is the difference that safeguards the variations and unity within creation

Diairesis: division; Diaphora does not necessarily imply diairesis.  Christ has diaphora, but not diairesis. Diaresis is never constitutive of creation.  Man as mediator is called to annihilate the divisions on the moral level but never the diaphora on the ontological level.

Diastasis/Diastema: distance and separation.  Maximus uses diastema in a spatial sense.  Since all created entities are moved, they have diastema.  Diasteme is with motion.

  • Diastasis means that since God has established history, he has marked out a distance to himself.
  • Diastasis stands in a particular relationship to stasis, rest.

Diastole: expansion, distinction.  All of created ousia moves, because movement is endemic to creation.  The movement of diastole goes from the most general to the more differentiated species. The movement of sustole goes in the opposite direction.  

  • In both cases movement comes to a limit.
  • Universals and particulars:  there is nothing more particular than that which is made particular by God; there is nothing more universal than the fact that all is created.
  • Diastole is the movement of God’s condescension in creation.
  • Sustole is very close to deification.  

Creation because of God’s Will

The Logoi

  • the principles of differentiated creation, pre-existent in God.
  • the logoi manifest a general law:  always and in all God’s Word and God wills to effect the mystery of his embodiment (Thunberg 65; [=Amb. 7, 1084CD])

The concept of Providence

  •  Five modes of contemplation
    • substance
    • motion
      • the natural movements, positive self-determination of each being.
    • difference
    • mixture
    • position

Creation by the Word

The Logoi of Creation

  • logos tou eu einai: the principle of motion for each being (Thunberg 74 [=Amb 7, 1084B].
  • logoi gegonoton/ontown/phuseos: not only define essence, but the coming into existence of a thing
  • The logoi preexist in God, who keeps them all together.

The Logoi are held together by the Logos

Creation and Motion

  • Maximus’s triad of genesis/kinesis/stasis rebuts the Origenist problem of a pre-eternal fall. There cannot be a motion to fall before creation (genesis) because genesis introduces motion.
  • Thus, Maximus breaks the back of Hellenism.  There is no longer any idea of successive falls  and endless generations (Thunberg 81 n217).

Maximus on substance

    • substance: ousia.  Maximus can speak of ousia as a generic category of created being or something closer to “nature.”
      • category of creation; hence, God is above being.
      • characterized by limitations, so it has a contrary (non-being)

 

  • ousia and einai are not quite identical, the latter seems to connote existence
  • ousia needs to be realized in self-fulfilment.

 

  • The concept of nature: reduced to the sphere of universals.
    • connected with the idea of “motion” and defined by its dynamic element (88).

Maximus’s Anthropology in General

Constitution and Position of Man

In order to combat Origenism, Maximus holds to the indispensable unity of body and soul.  He is not saying, pace modern Christian materialists, that the soul cannot exist without the body, but that the soul cannot pre-exist without the body.

For Gregory of Nyssa, a fall into the material world would not purify the soul, but would lead to successive falls leading to the soul’s destruction.  Maximus agrees but takes it a step further: the pre-existence of souls gives the body a negative and punitive function. God is forced to create because of evil.

Human Trichotomy

For Gregory of Nyssa, man’s nous is an aspect of the soul (108). It is the higher capacity of the soul.

Image and Likeness

Image is to likeness as potency is to act.  They ultimately refer to the same reality.

Microcosm and Mediator

Man is the natural link between creation and this will allow him to reintegrate the fallen aspects of creation.

Man mediates among the five divisions:

  1. Created and Uncreated Nature
  2. Intelligible and Sensible
  3. Heaven and Earth
  4. Paradise and the world (both under the sphere of earth)
  5. Man and Woman

 

 

A Patristic Linkstorm

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This is a database (or will be) of my references to the church fathers.  People ask me, “So what should I read?”  This might help.

Getting the Trinity Right

Barrett, Matthew.  Simply Trinity.  The best book on the Trinity.

Erickson, Millard.  Who’s Tampering with the Trinity.

Giles, Kevin. The Rise and Fall of the Complementarian Doctrine of the Trinity.

Torrance, Thomas. One Being: Three Persons

Torrance, Thomas.  The Trinitarian Faith

Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers Set

Ephrem the Syrian.  Lyrically beautiful but hard to read without some understanding of the Syriac mindset.

Irenaeus, Against Heresies.  Bailey links to this edition. I understand that AH is hard to read through, but books III-V are just too important to condense.  However, it is very difficult to find an accessible edition, so I will go with that version.

Athanasius, Contra Arianos.  Everyone links to On the Incarnation.  I admit it is important, but it’s not that important and it is nowhere near as good as CA.  Unfortunately, you have to go to the Schaff edition to find an accessible version.

Origen.  On First Principles.  Yes, you have to be careful reading Origen, but he is just too important to dismiss.  I am aware of the 5th Council’s anathemas, but they aren’t part of the council itself (and are morally and historically suspect).  Furthermore, it’s hard to imagine a Gregory or a Maximus without an Origen.

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity.  A so-called “Western” take on the Trinity before the Augustinian revolution.  This volume is expensive, but you can find the Schaff edition online somewhere.

John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith.

Popular Patristics Paperbacks

Gregory of Nazianzus.  On God and Christ. Read this before anything else.

Gregory of Nazianzus.  Festal Orations.

Gregory of Nazianzus.  On God and Man.

Irenaeus, On the Apostolic Preaching.

Four Desert Fathers.

Hippolytus, On the Apostolic Tradition.

Cyril of Jerusalem, Lectures on the Sacraments

John Chrysostom, Six Books on the Priesthood.

Maximus the Confessor, The Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ.  Read this at least three times.  It is the most important book on this list.

Maximus the Confessor, Two Hundred Chapters of Theology.

Basil, On the Holy Spirit.

BasilOn Social Justice.

Basil, On Christian Doctrine and Practice.

Basil, on Fasting and Feasting.

Irenaeus, On the Apostolic Preaching of the Cross.

Theodore the Studite, On the Holy Icons.

John of Damascus, Three Treatises on Divine Images.

Melito of Sardis, On Pascha.

Ancient Christian Texts

Severian and Bede on Genesis 1-3.

Andrew of Caesarea on Revelation.

Ancient Christian Doctrines

We Believe in One God, ed. Bray.

And in One Lord Jesus Christ, ed. McGuckin.

Athanasius

Anatolios, Khaled.  Athanasius: The Coherence of his Thought.  Probably the best text on working out the God-world relationship in Athanasius.  He tries to rescue Athanasius from the charge of of “instrumentalizing Christ’s humanity,” but I am not sure he succeeds.

Williams, Rowan.  Arius: Heresy and Tradition.  Kind of limited and scope and Williams tends to see Barth and Bonhoeffer as the Athanasiuses of our day, but his handling of ancient philosophy is masterful.

Gwynn, David.  The Eusebians: The Polemic of Athanasius of Alexandria and the Construction of the ‘Arian Controversy.’

Augustine

Ayres, Lewis.  Augustine.   Good read.  I think he downplays any neo-platonic elements, but certainly will be a standard text.

Nicea

Ayres, Lewis.  Nicea and its Legacy. Ayres has a tendency to use “simplicity” (aplosis) as a univocal term among the fathers, when it clearly isn’t.  Notwithstanding, this will end up being the standard work in the field.

Beeley, Christopher.  The Unity of Christ: Continuity and Conflict in the Patristic Tradition.  Tries to rehabilitate Origen somewhat; a fantastic read.  Limited in scope, though.  Origen and the immediate aftermath get a lot of attention.

Gregory of Nazianzus

Beeley, Christopher.  Gregory of Nazianzus on the Trinity and the Knowledge of God: In Your Light We Shall See Light .  Hit or miss.  But outstanding discussio on Gregory’s usage of “cause” and “monarchia.”  In fact, the best treatment on that in the English language, period.  I have his essay on this if you want it.

McGuckin, John.  St. Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography.

Gregory of Nyssa

Boersma, Hans.  Embodiment and Virtue in Gregory of Nyssa.

Radde-Galwitz, Andrew.  Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity.  The best patristic book on divine simplicity.

Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius.

Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Moses.

Barnes, Michel. The Power of God: Dynamis in Gregory of Nyssa.

Von Balthasar, Hans urs. Presence and Thought.

Origen

de Lubac, Henri.  History and Spirit.

Cyril

McGuckin, John.  Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy.  One of the best texts on Cyril.  Period.

Gavrilyuk, Paul. Suffering of the Impassible God: Dialectics of the Patristic Tradition.  Excellent discussions.  His goal is to close the gap between Cyril and modern critics of Cyril..  Not sure he succeeds.

Maximus the Confessor

Cooper, Adam.  The Body in St. Maximus the Confessor: Holy Flesh, Wholly Deified.  Great discussion of Maximus’s “Five Divisions” and their subsequent unities.

Bathrellos, Demetrios.  The Byzantine Christ.  The best discussion on Maximus the Confessor.

von Balthasar, Hans urs.  Cosmic Liturgy: Maximus.   Great section dealing with terms like hypostasis.  He tries to make Maximus a hard-line neo-Chalcedonian.  Other scholars have thoroughly attacked Balthasar on this point.

von Balthasar, Hans urs.  Presence and Thought.

Thunberg, Lars.  Microcosm and Mediator.   Encyclopedic work on Maximus.  No original ideas here, but an outstanding summary of the Nyssa-Maximus tradition.

Loudonikos, Nikolaos.  A Eucharistic Ontology.  My favorite work on Maximus.

Barnes, Michel.  Dunamis in the thought of Gregory of Nyssa. The best discussion on what Gregory means by energy and power.

Tollefsen, Torstein.  The Christocentric Cosmology of Maximus the Confessor.

Torononen, Melchisidec. Union and Distinction in Maximus the Confessor.

Survey Texts

McGuckin, John.  A History of Christianity.

Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity.

Hellenism as Dialectic

Earlier models of theology did theology “by century,” or a list of pithy sayings on a topic.  I doubt I will get to a hundred, but it is a good guideline.  When I attack Hellenism, in this context I mean the matrix in which the church found itself.  I do not deny that the Fathers and NT used “substance” language.  I think it is good that they did.  I simply deny that reading the Greek philosophers as if they are the next best thing is a good idea. Unless I note otherwise, the following are theses that define dialectical Hellenism. D = Dialectic.

  1. Basil notes, contra Hellenism, that terms referring to the divine essence aren’t de facto conferring material limitations to it (McGuckin 2017: 318).
  2. D: The One and the Many are mutually correlative.
  3. D: Deity is defined by self-origination
  4. D: Distinction is opposition: two contrary attributes cannot coinhere in the same subject at the same time.  This rules out the Incarnation.  It also rules out dyotheletism.
  5. D: Definition = limit.
  6. Contra Hellenism, God has no opposite (St Maximus, Cap. Char. 3.28) . If he had an opposite, then that opposite would define him.
  7. D: Things are distinguished by their opposites (Plato, Phaedo103d; same logic is use in Thomist Trinitarianism).
  8. D: The “infinite” implies “boundary markers” (Barnes, Early Greek  Philosophy 216).
  9. St Paul said we are no longer under the stoichea of the age (Galatians 3-4).
  10. D: Democritus says it’s stupid to want children (Barnes 280) and sex is irrational.
  11. “When Socrates was seized by a problem, he remained immobile for an interminable period of time in deep thought; when Holy Scripture is read aloud the Hebrew moves his whole body ceaselessly in deep devotion and adoration.”
  12. The hero for the Greek was Hercules.  The hero for the Hebrew is David, who served the covenant people.

Outline of Maximus’ Cosmology

maximus

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.