Thursday, 23 May 2019

Dionysios Skliris: On the individuality and universality of Christ's human nature according to Saint Maximus the Confessor (c.580-662)

I will examine the passages in which Saint Maximus touches upon the question of the individual properties (idiomata) of Christ’s human nature, i.e. the properties that distinguish Jesus of Nazareth from other human individuals. I shall observe how Maximus develops this very subtle question of the individuation of Christ’s human nature, but also its relation to the distinction of the Divine Person of the Logos from the Father and the Spirit due to the hypostatic properties. Is there a relation between the hypostatic properties of the Logos and the individuation of Christ’s human nature? This is a very subtle question which stands in need of some qualifications. I shall note that Maximus’ concern is a soteriological one, namely avoiding the danger of Docetism, i.e. a view of Christ’s human nature as too abstract and imaginary. On the other hand, one equally needs to point out that Saint Maximus stresses the fact that Christ is not a human individual, since that would lead to another soteriological heresy, namely that of Nestorianism. To sum up, Maximus’ position is the very subtle one that Christ does have an individual human nature, but without being a complete human individual. This complex formulation aims at a simultaneous overcoming of both Docetism and Nestorianism. Another issue is whether there is a soteriological importance in the lack of gnomic will in Christ. I shall thus try to observe how different soteriological demands lead to a balanced Christology that synthetizes between individuality and universality.

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