"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, July 4, 2022

On Maximus the Confessor

I do apologize for the silence on here the last few weeks. I was busy running my annual iconography camp and that is an exhausting period in late June. As ever for those interested in such things, I always recommend Jeana Visel's book, copies of which I give to my students every year. 

But if, in my absence, you were parched for news of forthcoming Eastern Christian publications, then you may more than slake your thirst now with the imminent advent of the first book by one of the most gifted, profound, and promising theological scholars of his generation: Jordan Daniel Wood, The Whole Mystery of Christ: Creation as Incarnation in Maximus Confessor (University of Notre Dame Press, October 2022), 390pp. 

About this book the publisher tells us this:

A thoroughgoing examination of Maximus Confessor’s singular theological vision through the prism of Christ’s cosmic and historical Incarnation.

Jordan Daniel Wood changes the trajectory of patristic scholarship with this comprehensive historical and systematic study of one of the most creative and profound thinkers of the patristic era: Maximus Confessor (560–662 CE). His panoramic vantage on Maximus’s thought emulates the theological depth of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Cosmic Liturgy while also serving as a corrective to that classic text.

Maximus's theological vision may be summed up in his enigmatic assertion that “[t]he Word of God, very God, wills always and in all things to actualize the mystery of his Incarnation.” The Whole Mystery of Christ sets out to explicate this claim. Attentive to the various contexts in which Maximus thought and wrote―including the wisdom of earlier church fathers, conciliar developments in Christological and Trinitarian doctrine, monastic and ascetic ways of life, and prominent contemporary philosophical traditions―the book explores the relations between God’s act of creation and the Word’s historical Incarnation, between the analogy of being and Christology, and between history and the Fall, in addition to treating such topics as grace, deification, theological predication, and the ontology of nature versus personhood. Perhaps uniquely among Christian thinkers, Wood argues, Maximus envisions creatio ex nihilo as creatio ex Deo in the event of the Word’s kenosis: the mystery of Christ is the revealed identity of the Word’s historical and cosmic Incarnation. This book will be of interest to scholars and students of patristics, historical theology, systematic theology, and Byzantine studies.

I have known Jordan somewhat in a personal capacity, and when the book is published in the fall, I fondly look forward to discussing it with him in an interview on here. 

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