Book Review: Man and the Cosmos: The Vision of St. Maximus the Confessor

Man and the Cosmos: The Vision of St. Maximus the Confessor

Lars Thunberg explains and explores St. Maximus the Confessor’s vision of man as a microcosm. Along the way, he explores the various correlations made by St. Maximus, such as that between Scripture and man, between the architecture of the temple and man, and between the structure of the liturgy and the movement of the cosmos. What is uncovered is St. Maximus’s uniquely sacramental and liturgical view of human nature and of the cosmos as a whole.

St. Maximus drew upon the Christological definition of the Council of Chalcedon to construct a way of viewing the world which saw all that is in it as a reflection of its Creator. Man, as the touching point between the uncreated and uncreated order, as the bearer of the flesh taken up and dwelt in by God himself in the Incarnation, occupies a special place in this worldview. For Maximus, God’s movement to man in the Incarnation finds its correlate in man’s movement to God in deification.

Thurnberg does an outstanding job of making St. Maximus’s often difficult wording quite understandable. Thurnberg also presents Maximus in a wonderfully fitting way as a touching point between East and West in the ongoing ecumenical dialogue between churches. I recommend this book to anyone interested in patristic theology.

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