Mapping Reality within the Experience of Holiness

  1. Lemma
  2. Mapping Reality within the Experience of Holiness
  3. English
  4. Tampakis, Kostas
  5. Cosmology- Anthropic principle - Patristic studies
  6. 2015
  7. Mapping Reality within the Experience of Holiness
  8. The Oxford Handbook of Maximus the Confessor
  9. Maximus the Confessor - Ambigua ad Iohannem - Epistulae - Mystagogia - Quaestiones ad Thallasium - Plato
    1. The prologue of Ambigua ad Iohannem (Amb) outlines what the author has described in a 2011 article as Maximus the Confessor’s theory of everything. The prologue, drawing on the mystical tradition of the saints, depicts five divisions and unions of reality. The author endeavors to make sense of the puzzling and often ignored by scholarship prologue by revisiting Ambigua 41 and Quaestiones ad Thallasium (QaT) 48, and parallel passages from the early 630s. He proposes that, even when Maximus outlined his cosmological theory, the Confessor was primarily interested in mapping the content of holy life. Furthermore, the paper proposes that his worldview was conditioned by the experience of holiness, which he must have beheld in the contemporary ascetics and to which he himself was no stranger. In tandem with the above assertions, the author addresses aspects so far ignored about the Maximian theory of everything. The first part of the article deals with the Five Divisions, as described in PG91.1304D-1305B. The author notes that the texts of Amb. and QaT mirror each other and moves on to show that the passage enunciates the five polarities concisely. However, none of the divisions and tensions are caused by the Fall. Rather, the first, and more crucial, polarity is caused by the natural incommensurability of the principles of the created and uncreated. In general, the whole construct can be read as centered on the human inhabitants of the cosmic house, similar to Gregory of Nyssa’s interpretation of Genesis 1 as describing the palace where the king was meant to live. This, the paper shows that Maximus manages to both follow the scriptural tradition and incorporate cosmological concepts of its time. The article then moves to the Five Syntheses describing how the microcosm, signifying the natural capability of the human being as mediator, must be activated by adopting a theocentric lifestyle. It then described what the five syntheses mean in that context, ending with the note that, for Maximus, the project of unification was not accomplished by humankind, but by Christ who, through his Incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension, achieved the five syntheses. The next part of the paper deals with exactly this theme, of Christ and the five syntheses. It describes the relevant parts QaT and Amb, as an attempt by Maximus to contemplate Christ’s salvific journey as a narrative of everything. The paper also shows how Christ’s activity and the scriptures signify the experiences of the saints. Finally, it underscores Christ’s unifying project as a journey through reality and as a transformation of Creation. The paper ends by summarizing the theory in QaT48 and Amb41, concluding that the significance of the Maximian multi-level worldview and its implications, such as the anthropic conditioning of the divine unifying project and the anthropomorphic future of creation, cannot be discussed outside the frame of reference of holiness.