Catholicity and Individuality in the Christology of Saint Maximus the Confessor: Existential Implications


Dionysios Skliris

Резюме:

In this paper, I shall treat the question of the individuality and catholicity of Christ’s humanity under two complementary aspects. In the first place, I will treat ἄτομον, πρόσωπον, ὑπόστασις and other terms as metaphysical and logical concepts. I will then try to observe the notions which are more related to Maximus’ soteriological vision. My position is that even though the terms ἄτομον, ὑπόστασις and πρόσωπον can be conceived of as synonymous, since they can coincide in the same human subject, they are not identical, since they consider it under three different aspects. The term ἄτομον denotes a subsumption in a logical hierarchy proceeding from the most general genus to genera, species and the most specific species. The term ὑπόστασις means the possibility to exist as an independent being with ontological coherence. The hypostasis thus has two aspects: On the one hand it means the possibility of independence in relation to the environment and a sort of self-subsistence. On the other hand, it denotes the possibility to integrate heterogeneous realities in the same existence. The term person answers the question “who?” that is a question of personal identity. It is referring to hypostases that are gifted with intellect and with a participation in their own movement (νοερόν, αὐτεξούσιον), and that bear a name answering the question “who?” My position is that Christ is a person and a hypostasis, but He is not an individual, for reasons explained in the article. After a thorough examination of various terms denoting particularity, I am making a shift towards the modern theological discussion. I remark that in the Byzantine era the term ἄτομον is rather a logical and metaphysical term. The term which poses the existential depth of the question of individuality in its modern sense is rather the term γνώμη. The modern individual, which was arguably initiated by the interiority of Augustine of Hippo, but was later developed with the Cartesian cogito, subjective idealism etc. has characteristics such as inwardness, self-referentiality, self-reflectivity, self-consciousness as an interior center of spiritual life, a break from the surrounding nature and History etc. All these characteristics are much closer to the Maximian notion of γνώμη than to the term ἄτομον which does not have these connotations. I therefore examine briefly why the gnomic will is excluded from Christ. But I equally examine the importance of the gnomic will in anthropology and whether there is an eschatological future for γνώμη after its surrender to God (ἐκχώρησις γνωμική) and in what sense.

Ключови думи:

St Maximus the Confessor, christology individuality, catholicity, person, hypostasis

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