The Dyothelite Christology Of Saint Maximus the Confessor

Demetrios Bathrellos

in The Byzantine Christ

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780199258642
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602795 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

The Dyothelite Christology Of Saint Maximus the Confessor

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Examines the dyothelite Christology of Saint Maximus. First, it is clarified what Maximus means by the terms person/hypostasis and nature/essence and how he uses them in his Christology. It is shown that Maximus follows the tradition of ‘neo-Chalcedonism’ in its most ‘extreme’, yet absolutely orthodox form, while he is able to incorporate symmetrical elements in his Christology. Then the notion of will and its meaning in Maximus is presented, as well as the arguments that Maximus uses in order to support the existence of two (divine and human) natural wills in Christ (this includes a section on the interpretation of Christ’s prayer to the Father in Gethsemane from the 4th up to the 7th century). It is further explained what Maximus means by gnomic and proairetic will and it is made clear that he excludes them from Christ not because his human will was not particularized in acts of willing, but because the attribution of a gnomic or proairetic will to Christ would imply that he was a sinner. Maximus believes that Christ willed the same thing with his two wills, without any opposition between them. This chapter suggests that the relationship between the divine and the human wills of Christ will be better understood if seen from the point of view of the person of the incarnate Logos, who wills as God and (obeys) as man. Finally, it is concluded that Maximus’ dyothelite Christology makes better sense than that of the monothelites, brings together many healthy elements of symmetrical and asymmetrical Christologies, is carefully balanced, profoundly orthodox, and succeeds in expanding Chalcedon’s achievement on the level of Christ’s wills.

Keywords: Gethsemane prayer; gnomic will; natural will; essence; nature; person; hypostasis; proairetic will

Chapter.  37907 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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