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.

Review: Maximus the Confessor: Selected Writings

Maximus the Confessor: Selected Writings
Maximus the Confessor: Selected Writings by George C. Berthold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book contains several works by one of the greatest theologians in the history of Christianity. St. Maximus’s approach to theology, in which he married the mystical and doctrinal, has been a major influence on the subsequent development of Christian thought. This book is an edifying pleasure to read and to contemplate throughout. I recommend it to anyone interested in matters of theology.

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The life of beasts and the life of men

Those who live as beasts on the level of sense alone make the Word flesh in a way dangerous to themselves. They misuse God’s creatures for the service of the passions and do not contemplate the reason of wisdom which is manifest in all things to know and glorify God from his works, as well as to perceive whence and what and why and where we are going from the things which are seen. Rather we go groping through the present life in darkness, feeling with both hands nothing but ignorance about God.

St. Maximus the Confessor, Chapters on Knowledge, Second Century, 41