Maximus the Confessor

J. P. Williams

in Denying Divinity

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780198269991
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191683855 | DOI:
Maximus the Confessor

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This chapter presents a reading of Maximus the Confessor's apophatic theology based on a broad spectrum of his writings. It focuses on three texts that offer slightly different versions of a distinction between two ways of approaching the divine. First, in a celebrated passage from the tenth of the Ambigua, Maximus divides theology into two ‘universal modes’: one that ‘goes first, is simple, and does not refer to the divine as cause’ , and another that is ‘secondary and composite, gleaning a faint indication of the divine from its effects’. Several Dionysian themes are reprised: the uncertain tension between apophasis and silence, and the connection between kataphasis and the divine as Cause. In the paradoxical suggestion that, while affirmations about the divine drawn from its effects may have some value, the ‘true’ affirmations are derived from apophasis, one is reminded of the obverse link made by Dionysius in the fourth Letter: that ‘every affirmation regarding Jesus’ love for humanity has the force of a negation pointing towards transcendence’.

Keywords: Maximus the Confessor; apophasis; apophatic theology; divine; silence; kataphasis; affirmation; negation; Dionysius; transcendence

Chapter.  12851 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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