"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, February 16, 2015

Maximus in Your Handbag

As I have noted before, we live in a happy time when studies continue to pour forth on Eastern figures and topics, especially the Fathers. Thus we have seen a long parade of books about Maximus the Confessor over the last decade and more, as I have noted several times on here.

Now in May we will be treated to a rich collection, in the ongoing series of Oxford Handbooks: Pauline Allen and Bronwen Neil, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Maximus the Confessor (Oxford, 2015),624pp.

The merits of this book, according to the publisher, include:

  • Integration for the first time Maximus' of works and thought into the history of his life in the politically troubled times of seventh-century Byzantium.
  • Contributions from thirty of the foremost scholars in the field.
  • An interdisciplinary work covering one of the most discussed figures in contemporary studies of Byzantine theology, philosophy, and the history of the seventh century.
  • Includes updated date list of Maximus' works, allowing the reader to see his full oeuvre at a glance and in chronological order.
The publisher further describes the book for us thus:
Maximus the Confessor (c.580-662) has become one of the most discussed figures in contemporary patristic studies. This is partly due to the relatively recent discovery and critical edition of his works in various genres, including On the Ascetic Life, Four Centuries on Charity, Two Centuries on Theology and the Incarnation, On the 'Our Father', two separate Books of Difficulties, addressed to John and to Thomas, Questions and Doubts, Questions to Thalassius, Mystagogy and the Short Theological and Polemical Works.
The impact of these works reached far beyond the Greek East, with his involvement in the western resistance to imperial heresy, notably at the Lateran Synod in 649. Together with Pope Martin I (649-53 CE), Maximus the Confessor and his circle were the most vocal opponents of Constantinople's introduction of the doctrine of monothelitism. This dispute over the number of wills in Christ became a contest between the imperial government and church of Constantinople on the one hand, and the bishop of Rome in concert with eastern monks such as Maximus, John Moschus, and Sophronius, on the other, over the right to define orthodoxy. An understanding of the difficult relations between church and state in this troubled period at the close of Late Antiquity is necessary for a full appreciation of Maximus' contribution to this controversy.
The editors of this volume provide the political and historical background to Maximus' activities, as well as a summary of his achievements in the spheres of theology and philosophy, especially neo-Platonism and Aristotelianism.
The table of contents:

Part One. Historical Setting
1. Life and Times of Maximus the Confessor, Pauline Allen
2. An Updated Date-List of the Works of Maximus the Confessor, Marek Jankowiak and Phil Booth
3. Byzantium in the Seventh Century, Walter E. Kaegi
4. Maximus, a Cautious Chalcedonian, Cyril Hovorun
Part Two. Theological and Philosophical Influences
5. Classical Philosophical Influences: Aristotle and Platonism, Marius Portaru
6. The Foundation of Origenist Metaphysics, Pascal Mueller-Jourdan
7. Theological and Philosophical Influences: The Ascetic Tradition, Marcus Plested
8. Dionysius Areopagite and Maximus the Confessor, Ysabel De Andia
9. Mindset (γνώμη) in John Chrysostom, Raymond J. Laird
10. Augustine on the Will, Johannes Borjesson
11. Divine Providence and the Gnomic Will before Maximus, Bronwen Neil
Part Three. Works and Thought
12. Exegesis of Scripture, Paul M. Blowers
13. Maximus the Confessor's Use of Literary Genres, Peter Van Deun
14. Passions, Ascesis, and the Virtues, Demetrios Bathrellos
15. Christocentric Cosmology, Torstein T. Tollefsen
16. Eschatology in Maximus the Confessor, Andreas Andreopoulos
17. The Mode of Deification, Jean-Claude Larchet
18. Spiritual Anthropology in Ambiguum 7, Adam Cooper
19. Mapping Reality within the Experience of Holiness, Doru Costache
20. Christian Life and Praxis: The Centuries on Love, George Berthold
21. Liturgy as Cosmic Transformation, Thomas Cattoi
Part Four. Reception
22. The Georgian Tradition on Maximus the Confessor, Lela Khoperia
23. Maximus' Heritage in Russia and Ukraine, Grigory Benevich
24. The Impact of Maximus the Confessor on John Scottus Eriugena, Catherine Kavanagh
25. Maximus the Confessor's Influence and Reception in Byzantine and Modern Orthodoxy, Andrew Louth
26. The Theology of the Will, Ian A. McFarland
27. Maximus and Modern Psychology, Michael Bakker
28. Maximus the Confessor and Ecumenism, Edward Siecienski
29. Reception of Maximian Thought in the Modern Era, Joshua Lollar

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