Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Paul Blowers: Modern Recontextualizations of Maximus the Confessor

The renaissance in scholarly study of Maximus the Confessor that began in the 1940s and 50s (through the work of P. Sherwood, H. Urs von Balthasar, et al.), coupled with the growing culture of patristic "retrieval" in contemporary theology East and West, has nurtured a number of important theological recontextualizations of Maximus. Stimulated by the "neo-patristic synthesis" pioneered by Georges Florovsky, Vladimir Lossky, Dimitru Staniloae, and others, contemporary Orthodox theology has generated several recontextualized profiles of Maximus: as ecumenical christologian; as theological cosmologist (and ecologist); as Eucharistic ecclesiologian; etc. In the West, Hans Urs von Balthasar, who did much to reintroduce Maximus to contemporary Roman Catholic theology, developed his "theo-dramatic" paradigm of constructive theology very heavily (I will argue) on a Maximian foundation. More recently, Jean-Luc Marion's phenomenological interest in Dionysian apophaticism has had clear ramifications for reinterpretation of Maximus. Maximus has also become a crucial resource in contemporary virtue ethics, and in the work ecological theologians such as Celia Deane-Drummond, Christopher Southgate, and Willis Jenkins. He has even been engaged in the recent Evangelical retrieval of patristic sources. My paper will provide a comparative and critical analysis of this broad array of profiles.

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