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Bogdan Neacsiu
PA 204
Difficulty 41
The work of Saint Maximus the Confessor had a decisive role in the shaping of Eastern
Orthodoxy. For his meditorial role, St Maximus is considered to be one of the few genuinely
ecumenical theologians of the patristic era.
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Saint Maximus the Confessors is considered to be a cosmic theologian. For him, the
world is a broad and complex theater in which Gods incarnational mission is playing itself to a
full completion. Both the cosmos and the Bible tell the story of the Logos who, in his historical
Incarnation, discloses through the logoi, the providential principles of creation and Scripture,
the magnificent intricacy and beauty of the transfigured cosmos
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. His theological achievement
has been described by scholars like Georges Florovsky or Cyril ORegan as a grand symphony
of experience.
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At the beginning of the 7
th
century (aprox. 624 A.D.), after he renounced his high
political office as First Secretary of the Emperor Heraclius, and after visiting a monastery in
Chrysopolis, Saint Maximus transferred to another monastery, where, in conversation with a
Bishop John, he conceived his most important theological work, the Ambigua, an unsystematic

1
St. Maximus the Confessor, On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimirs Seminary
Press, 2003), 16
2
St. Maximus the Confessor, On the Cosmic Mystery, 17
3
St. Maximus the Confessor, On the Cosmic Mystery, 16
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explanation of difficult texts of Gregory of Nazianzus and pseudo-Dionysius.
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This work is one
of the reasons why he may be regarded as the real Father of Byzantine theology.
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Another concern of St Maximus cosmic theology refers to the notion of the divisions of
being. Regarding this theological aspect, he draws together a metaphysical analysis of being that
places the human person in a central crossing-place in his understanding of reality, and relates to
that the renewal of nature through the Incarnation, and the celebration and the recapitulation of
that renewal in the Eucharist liturgy
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. In this regard, it seems that Saint Maximus has inspired his
way of though from Saint Gregory of Nysas theology and some writings ascribed to Dionysius
the Areopagite
7
. Other scholars consider that the source for Saint Maximus cosmological
theology is Saint Gregory of Nazianzus Oration 38 (the natures renew and God becomes
man)
8
.
The main point of Saint Maximuss theology regarding the divisions of being is that
beings can be divided into uncreated beings and created beings. Created beings can be further
subdivided into intelligible beings and sensible beings. Each of these classes can be further
subdivided: intelligible beings into celestial beings (angels) and terrestrial beings (human
beings); and sensible beings into living beings and lifeless beings. Living beings can be divided
into sentient and non-sentient beings; sentient beings into rational beings (human beings) and

4
St Maximus the Confessor, The Church the Liturgy the Soul of Man (Still River, Massachusetts: St. Bedes
Publications, 1982), 5-6
5
John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology (New York: Fordham University Press, 1983), 37
6
Andrew Louth, Maximus the Confessor (New York: Routhledge, 1996), 72
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Andrew Louth, Maximus, 72
8
Doru Costache, Seeking out the Antecedends of the Maximian Theory of Everything, In Phronema 26 (2011), 36
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irrational beings (animals). These successive divisions converge on the human being who
embraces all the divisions to be found in created reality
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.
Difficulty 41 is built up around this notion of the divisions of beings. Saint Maximus
states that according to the saints, there are five divisions of being. The first divides uncreated
nature from that which is created. The second divides created being into that perceived by the
mind and that perceived by the senses. The sensible world is divided into heaven and earth, earth
into paradise and the inhabited world. Human beings who live in the inhabited world are divided
by sex into male and female. Furthermore, human beings are found on both sides of each
division: they belong in paradise but inhabit the inhabited world; they are earthly but destined to
heaven; they have both mind and senses, and though created, they are destined to share in the
uncreated nature by deification. All the divisions of the cosmos are reflected in the human being,
so the human being is a microcosm
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. As microcosm, the human being is able to mediate
between the extremes of the cosmos
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. The first step is to transcend sexual division, which is not
original or primordial. In this regard, Saint Maximus believes in a double creation of mankind:
an original creation that transcends sexuality and a second creation which embraces sexual
division and which was introduced not because of the Fall, but with a view of the Fall.
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Furthermore, Saint Maximus affirms that by a way of life proper to the Saints, by imitating by
virtue the life of the angels, the human person unites heaven and earth. Then, by being able to
perceive the logoi of the created order, the distinction between created and uncreated nature is
surpassed through love. But the human person has directed his power of movement towards

9
Andrew Louth, Maximus, 72
10
Andrew Louth, Maximus, 73
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Parinti si Scriitori Bisericesti vol 80, (Bucuresti: Editura Institutului Biblic si de Misiune al Bisericii Ortodoe
Romane, 1983), 260
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Andrew Louth, Maximus, 73
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lower creatures instead of moving the unmoved
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.Thus the human being is not only helpless in
uniting what is divided, but he is the very cause of separation of what is united. Thus the only
solution is the Incarnation which enables human beings to reorientate themselves. It is in the
Incarnation that now overcomes the five divisions.
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Only through the Incarnation it is possible
for human beings to fulfill their role as bond of creation and microcosm.

13
Parinti si Scriitori Bisericesti, 264
14
Andrew Louth, Maximus, 74