"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Saint Maximus the Confessor

There has been a veritable explosion in studies on Maximus the Confessor over the last fifteen years or so. In 1994, Aidan Nichols published a "bibliographical" book about scholarship on Maximus right before nearly a dozen new books, in English alone, appeared.  In 1995 we had a book on his anthropology. In 1996 we had Andrew Louth's important contribution to the acclaimed, highly welcome, and still ongoing Routledge series on the Fathers. In 2003 we had three significant publications: SVS Press brought out another in their series "Popular Patristics" on Maximus. Also that year we had, at long last, a suitable English translation (by Notre Dame's renowned patrologist and historian Brian Daley, SJ) of a signal work on Maximus by the late Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar: Cosmic Liturgy: the Universe According to Maximus the Confessor. Finally in that year we had a collection of important documents shedding new light on Maximus precisely as "confessor" of the faith exiled for refusing--as we might say today--to go along to get along. In 2005, we had Demetrios Bathrellos's excellent The Byzantine Christ on Maximus's Christology. We also had in that year an important and fascinating study on the role of the body in Maximus by the Australian scholar Adam Cooper. In 2007 we had a study on the ideas of union and distinction in Maximus. In 2008 we had, also in the excellent Oxford Early Christian Studies Series, a book on Maximus's cosmology.

Now two more books have recently appeared on the horizon:

Despina Prassas, trans. St. Maximus the Confessor's Questions and Doubts (Northern Illinois U Press, 2009), 234pp.

As I have noted before, Northern Illinois Press has started a new, and highly welcome, imprint on Eastern Christian studies, and this is one of the first books to appear.

In addition to the above, we have, published just last month, the latest study on Maximus with the mouthful of a title:

Nikolaos Loudovikos, A Eucharistic Ontology: Maximus the Confessor's Estachological Ontology of Being as Dialogical Reciprocity, trans. Elizabeth Theokritoff (Holy Cross Press, 2010), 266pp.

Maximus is notoriously difficult to translate and understand, but the above book, notwithstanding its having a title only an academic could love, has been praised by Louth for making Maximus accessible to us again today in a Western context whose philosophical currents the author engages, ending by saying that for Maximus as for all of us the telos of our life consists in eucharistic communion with God.

These two most recent studies on Maximus will be reviewed in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies in 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Also deserving of mention is Cyril Hovorun's, Will, Action and Freedom: Christological Controversies in the Seventh Century, Brill (2008)


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