maximus and deification

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  • 7/30/2019 Maximus and Deification



    Df E Fulfll Slv

    Ag S. Mx C

    by Hieromonk Artemije Radosavljevi(now Bishop o Raka and Prizren)

    t can be said that the word deication () expresses thesublimest meaning o the word salvation. t is the sublimest, be-cause the word salvation signies, in some sense, the entire patho mans ascent to his archetype, God, and especially his deliver-ance rom the bondage o Satan, sin, and death, while the word de-

    ication signals the end o this path, that is, mans complete unionwith God, in which man becomes by participation what God isin essence.

    Deication, as union and communion with God, was establishedas the goal o man and o all creation even beore they were created;more precisely, all things were created with the purpose that God

    should become all in all:

    Source: Hieromonk rtemije Radosavljevi, [Te mystery o salvation according to St.Maximos the onessor] (thens: 1), pp. 10-1.

    See Centuries on Love, III.2, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 102BC.

    Why Did God Become Man?

    The Unconditionality of the Divine Incarnation

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    For to this end did He make us says St. Maximos, thatwe should become partakers o the Divine nature [II St. Pe-ter 1:] and sharers o His Eternity; and that through dei-cation, which proceeds rom Grace, we might prove like

    unto Him. t is or the sake o deication that all exist-ing things are constituted and abide, and all non-existingthings are brought into being and come into being.

    Ordained by the preternal Divine counsel as the purpose o allcreation, deication had as its sole precondition the ncarnation oGod,4 through which all o human nature was deied in its hypos-

    tatic union with the Divine nature, in the Person o God the Word,Who revealed Himsel to us as Our ord Jesus hrist.Te deication o each man is accomplished on the basis o the

    human nature deied in hrist, but never by orce, or it is madepossible only in reedom and love.5 ll o creation, rom its very or-mation, has been directed towards this goal. Tus, deication was,and remains, the axis around which the entire history o the world

    revolves, rom its creation until the close o the age, precisely becausedeication will assume its eschatological dimensions in the lie tocome, when all o creation will be changed,

    receiving ever-moving rest, the unlimited enjoymento Divine things, and stable motion, the insatiable ap-

    Epistle XXIV, o onstantine, the hancellor o the Exchequer, Patrologia Gr-ca, ol. XCI, col. 0C. Te simultaneous creation by God o the entire cosmosbecomes meaningul only when all o reality is viewed in relation to, and in uni-ty with, the communion o the rinity (ikolaos Matsoukas, [Ecclesiology rom the standpoint o thedoctrine o the rinity], in - (Tessalonica: 12), p. 12.

    4 See Responses to Talassios, LXIII, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. A. (Tis work,traditionally reerred to by its rather inaccurate atin title Qustiones ad Talassi-um, actually consists o responses by St. Maximos to questions submitted to himby Talassios, its ull title beingo Talassios, the Most Venerable Presbyter and Ab-bot, Concerning Various Difculties in Divine Scripturerans.)

    5 Cf. [Protopresbyter] Georges Florovsky, Te Byzantine Fathers of the Sixth to EighthCentury, ol. IX in Te Collected Works o Georges Florovsky(aduz: chervertrie-bsanstalt, 1), p. 2.

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    petite or such [i.e., the decad, which is a symbol ocompleteness].6

    Furthermore, deication is the axis o all o Gods Providence

    and conomy in the world, the Providence o the Holy rinityand the conomy o the Son o God, rom His ncarnation untilHis scension into Heaven and the sending o the Holy Spirit romthence into the world; or hrist

    becomes man in very truth or this reason, that He mightmake us gods by Grace.7

    n connection with this, ladimir ossky correctly observes thatDeication is the central idea o the spirituality o St. Maximus... thesupreme end o the human will, which determines all the rest.8

    Te Incarnation as the Foundation o Deifcation

    From what we have said above it becomes clear, thereore, that

    the mystery o the divinization o man is ounded and built en-tirely upon the suprarational mystery o the ncarnation and enfesh-ment o God. n order to understand the interdependence o thesetwo mysteries, to wit, the mystery o the ncarnation o God and themystery o the deication o man, we must turn our attention to avery undamental theme in St. Maximos theology: that o the rela-tionship between the Fall o man and the ncarnation o God, or, in

    other words, o the unconditionality or conditionality o the ncar-

    6 Responses to Talassios, LXV, note , Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 1C.7 Ibid., XL, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 01A.8 ladimir ossky, Te Vision o God, trans. sheleigh Moorhouse, 2nd ed. (rest-

    wood, NY: St. ladimirs Seminary Press, 13), p. 132. ConcerningboththeconceptofdeicationinthehistoryofChristian(and

    pre-hristian) thought and all o the aspects o deication (i.e., in hrist andin each man), see the work o ndreas Teodorou, - -

    [Te teaching o the Greek athers o the hurch down to John o Damas-cus concerning deication] (thens: 1), and also that o Elias D. Moutsoulas, -

    [Te ncarnation o the Word and the deication oman according to the teaching o Gregory o yssa] (thens: 1).

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    nation o God the Word. Tis undamental problem is resolved, ac-cording to St. Maximos, only in the light o the deication o man,understood as a hypostatic union o human nature with the Di-vine nature in the person o hrist, as we shall see below.

    lthough the Saint customarily speaks (as, moreover, do all othe other Fathers o the hurch) about a conditional ncarnation oGod, accepting, that is, that

    the ncarnation came about or the salvation o nature,9

    or, as he writes elsewhere:

    God becomes man in order to save man, who isperishing,

    or, again, elsewhere:

    We recall that the sole basis and purpose o His wondrousvisitation to us in the fesh is our salvation,

    and also in another passage:

    or He had this as the sole cause o His birth in the fesh:the salvation o nature, etc.,

    there are nonetheless in his works not a ew passages which clearlyspeak about an unconditional ncarnation o God the Word.

    n other words, the Holy Father says that the Divine enfeshmentand ncarnation o God the Word constitutes the primordial will oGod or man and the world, and that it was conceived and decidedupon by God beore all creation as the nal destiny and goal (end)o the whole creation.

    Te most important o these passages o St. Maximos is ound inhis workResponses to Talassios. n this passage, St. Maximos identi-

    9 Responses to Talassios, LXIII, note 3, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 2B. Ambigua,Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, col. 130. Epistle XI, o an bbess, Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, col. C. Ambigua,Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, col. 100B. Responses to Talassios, LX, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, cols. 20B-2.

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    es in principle the Mystery o hrist with hrist Himsel, Whois the ineable and incomprehensible hypostatic union o both Di-vinity and humanity. Or, as he says a little urther on, hrist is acomposite hypostasis o both (natures) (without any diminution or

    change in the two natures).n the next section o this text, the Holy Father says, in an ex-

    ceedingly dense excerpt, that this mystery o the composite hyposta-sis o hrist, that is, o hrist quaGod-Man, constitutes the greatand hidden mystery, which the mighty counsel o God conceivedand decided upon beore all the ages:

    Tis is the blessed end or which all things were created.Tis is the oreordained Divine purpose o the origin oexisting things, dening which we call it the oreordainedend, or the sake o which all things exist, though it itselexists or the sake o nothing else. With this end in view,God created the essences o existing things; this, proper-ly, is the consummation o Providence and o what is ore-

    ordained, whereby the things created by God are recapit-ulated in Him.

    Tis mystery o the preternal counsel o God, the Saint says ur-ther on, is now revealed by the Word o God become man, as an

    ngel,4 maniesting thereby the innermost depth o the Fathersgoodness (that is, everything that God the Father was going to give

    to man) and disclosingin Himsel the end or which created things clearly receivedthe beginning o their existence. or it was or the sake ohrist, or the Mystery o hrist, that all o the ages and thebeings in those ages received the beginning and the end otheir existence in hrist.

    n developing his idea o the mystery o hrist, the Holy atherobserves:

    For the union o nitude and innitude, o measure andimmeasurability, o end and endlessness, o reator and

    4 saiah :.

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    creation, o rest and motion, which has come to pass inhrist made maniest in the last times, was ordained [byGod in His preternal counsel] beore the ages, in itselbringing to ulllment the oreknowledge o God,

    and constituting the ruition o the entire providence and the entiredestiny established by the Holy rinity or man, which destiny con-sists in preternatural deication.

    Tis is precisely because the deication o man and creation, asunion with God, is the primal and ultimate purpose and aim o theentire reation, Providence, and conomy o God or the world.

    Hence, the Saint adds:For it was in truth necessary that He Who is by nature thereator o the essence o existing things should also becomeby Grace the uthor o the deication o those whom Hehad created, in order that the Giver o being might showHimsel also to be the estower o eternal well-being,

    and that in this way the consummation o the ages and the rest othose in motion might be wrought in God the Word (Who, as re-ator o all things rom nothing set creatures in motion). ote 1 onthis passage is apposite and complementary:

    reation is the actualization o things brought into beingrom non-being. Te hypostatic union o these with Him

    rom Whom they came into being was oreordained ac-cording to His Providence.5

    side rom this very important passage, there are also other pas-sages in St. Maximos which speak equally about the unconditionali-ty o the ncarnation o God the Word. n one o these (again, romthe Responses to Talassios6), the Saint says that God, ater creating

    [or, more precisely, establishing the beginning orans.] all ocreation beore all the ages

    5 Responses to Talassios, LX, note 1, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 2C.6 Ibid., XXII, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, cols. 31B-321C.

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    had an inexpressibly and supremely good counsel or those[that He had created]. Tis plan was or Him [God the

    Word] to mingle with human nature, without change onHis part, through true hypostatic union, to unite human

    nature with Himsel while remaining immutable, in orderthat He might become man, as He Himsel knows, andmake man God by union with Himsel.

    urther on in this text the Holy ather adds that

    Our Lord Jesus hrist is the beginning, middle, and endo all the ages, past, present, and uture,

    and concludes the passage in question with the doctrine o the dei-cation o man in hrist.

    Here, too, the ensuing notes 1 and 3 are very much to the point.7Tey state that the ineable purpose o the creative Divine counselwas the hypostatic union o the Word with the fesh, in order thatthe fesh (man) might become hypostatically Divine, which is pre-

    cisely the ultimate meaning o deication.or this reason, note 3 adds that

    the ncarnation o God is a sure pledge or human natureo its hoped-or deication, or it makes man God to thesame extent that He became man.

    o these notes we should add note 18 o the ty-ourth responseto Talassios, which says, on this subject:

    Te doctrine o the Divine ncarnation comprehends boththe beginning o the ages and o things in any given ageand the extension to innity, by Grace, o the lie o exist-ing things beyond the ages.8

    o the aorementioned passages we should add also certain others,such as the text o St. Maximos celebrated interpretation o the ora-

    7 Ibid., notes 1, 3, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 321C.8 Ibid., LIV, note 1, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 32AB.

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    tion by St. Gregory the Teologian oncerning ove or the Poor,9and in particular o the ollowing phrase in this oration: We are apart o God.

    n his highly theological interpretation o this passage, St. Max-

    imos likewise expounds the unconditionality o the Mystery ohrist, to wit, o His perect ncarnation (hypostatic) and ourrecapitulation in Him as members o His ody, which mysteryis the preternal purpose hidden in God the ather. Te mysteryo the hypostatic union o human and Divine nature in hrist, theSaint goes on to say

    shows that we were created or this [end] and reveals Godsall-good purpose or us beore the ages, which, not ad-mitting any innovation in its own inner principle [],came to ulllment through the introduction o another,newer mode [].

    Te Holy ather concludes with this striking phrase:

    t is, indeed, quite evident to all that the mystery eectedin hrist at the end o the age is indubitably the demon-stration and ulllment o that which was set orth in ouroreather at the beginning o the age.

    Yet other texts o St. Maximos could be adduced here, but wethink that those heretoore cited clearly attest to the unconditional-

    ity o the ncarnation o God the Word. Tis theological idea o St.Maximos was addressed by Father Georges Florovsky, who express-es the view, with regard to the oregoing passages, that the ogosbecame fesh not merely or redemption, since the mystery o thencarnation, according to St. Maximos, is the mystery o the God-Man, the mystery o Divine love, which is wider and deeper thanredemptive mercy.

    9 St. Gregory the Teologian, Oration XIV, 7, Patrologia Grca, ol. XXXV, col.B.

    Ambigua,Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, col. 10A. lorovsky, Te Byzantine Fathers o the Sixth to Eighth Century, p. 22.

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    n one o his articles, ather lorovsky repeats and develops hisopinion on the subject in question:

    [St. Maximos] stated plainly that the ncarnation should

    be regarded as an absolute and primary purpose of God inthe act of Creation. Te nature o the ncarnation, o thisunion o the Divine majesty with human railty, is indeedan unathomable mystery, but we can at least grasp thereason and the purpose o this supreme mystery, its logosand skopos. nd this original reason, or the ultimate pur-pose, was, in the opinion o St. Maximus, precisely the n-carnation itsel and then our own incorporation into theody o the ncarnate One. Te phrasing o St. Maximusis straight and clear.

    Te same interpretation was proposed much earlier than atherFlorovsky by S.L. Epianovich, a remarkable student o St. Maxi-mos.

    Tis issue has not received special attention or scrutiny on the

    part o other, more recent students o the theology o St. Maximos.One o these students, Hans Urs von althasar, advocates the viewthat the Saint was in avor o the unconditional ncarnation o God.He says that in a discussion with the Scholastics on this issue, Maxi-mos would have taken the side o Duns Scotus, but would not haveaccepted the presuppositions o the hypothetical theology o the

    Idem, Cur Deus Homo?Te Motive o the ncarnation, in Creation and Redemp-tion, ol. III in Te Collected Works o Georges Florovsky(elmont, A: ordlandPublishing ompany, 17), p. 1; see also

    Inthisarticle,FatherFlorovskymentionsbrieythosewho,fromtheMid-dle ges down to the present day, have dealt with the issue o the conditionalityor otherwise o the Divine ncarnation. We reer those interested in the relevantbibliography to this article (and also to the article on the ncarnation in the Dic-tionnaire de Tologie Catholique, ol. VII).

    S.. Epianovich, Prepodobnii Maksim Ispovednik i vizantiiskoe bogoslovie[St. Max-imos the onessor and yzantine theology] (Kiev: 11), p. .
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    Scholastics.4 mong the other students, Polycarp Sherwood5 andrene-Henri Dalmais,6 although they deal only in passing with theaorementioned issue, put orward the same view. t is noteworthythat ikos issiotes, too, although not concerned specically with

    St. Maximos (or with the present topic), accepts that the ultimatepurpose o creation is the communion o love, in the fesh, o manwith God,7 to wit, the unconditional ncarnation o God.

    Tere are, however, students o the theology o St. Maximos whomaintain the opposite view. Tus, or example, ladimir Lossky,speaking about the goal o uniting the dierent spheres (the ve di-

    visions) o the cosmos in God, says: these unions or successive syntheses that surmount thenatural divisions are brought about by hrist, it is because

    dam ailed in his vocation. hrist achieves them succes-sively by ollowing the order which was assigned to the rst


    Pro. ndreas Teodorou, who has written recently about St.Maximos, is o the same opinion. n his detailed study o the issueat hand,9 Pro. Teodorou cites a great many passages rom the textso the Holy Father, dividing them into those that support the uncon-ditionality o the ncarnation and those that support the condition-

    4 Han Urs von althasar, Cosmic Liturgy: Te Universe According to Maximus theConessor, trans. rian E. Daley, S.J. (San rancisco: gnatius Press, 2003), p. 22.5 ntroduction to St. Maximus the Conessor: Te Ascetic Lie, Te Four Centuries

    on Charity, trans. Polycarp Sherwood, O.S.., ol. XXI inAncient Christian Writ-ers(ew ork and Ramsey, J: ewman Press, 1), esp. pp. 1-2.

    6 rene-Henri Dalmais, ntroduction to Saint Maxime le Confesseur[St. Maxi-mos the onessor] (amur: es ditions du Soleil evant, 1).

    7 ikos issiotes, [Prolegom-ena to Orthodox Gnoseology] [thens: 1], p. .

    8 ladimir ossky, Te Mystical Teology o the Eastern Church (restwood, NY: St.ladimirs Seminary Press, 1), p. 13.

    9 ndreas Teodorou, Cur Deus Homo? - ; [Cur Deus Homo?Was the ncarnation o God the

    Word Unconditional or onditional?], in (thens: 12), pp. 2-30.

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    ality thereo, and commenting at length on each o them. t the endo his study, Pro. Teodorou comes to the ollowing conclusion:

    n the passage cited rom his response to Talassios

    (Response LX, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, cols. 20-21), St.Maximos accepts the unconditionality o the ncarnation.t is characteristic that he does so in a reply to a questionpertaining to that passage in Scripture (I St. Peter 1:1-20;olossians 1:2) which clearly attests to the iblical back-ground o his idea. Nowhere in Scripture, however, is thereany evidence or the notion o an unconditional ncarna-tion. t is obvious that St. Maximos absolutizes iblicalideas in this regard, using certain orms o theological dis-course in a hyperbolic manner. Tis absolutization magni-es the uniqueness o the Divine ncarnation or the dei-cation o man and creation.

    Maximos expresses this idea only once, making no ur-ther reerence to itat least, not explicitly. Te remainingexamples o his thinking that we cited quite clearly point

    towards the conditionality o the ncarnation. t is impos-sible or one to dissociate, in the thought o Maximos, theidea o the ncarnation rom the idea o redemption andsalvation.... n our opinion, the unconditional ncarnation,even as a mere theological concept and theory, is absentrom the theological thought o this Holy Father. We havenothing more to say on the matter.

    t is evident that the disagreement on this subject among stu-dents o the theology o St. Maximos shows that there really is aproblem here, and all the more so in that even according to thosewho do not accept the concept o an unconditional ncarnation inthe uvre o St. Maximos there exists at least one text in which his

    teaching concerning an absolute and unconditional ncarnation is

    clearly taught.t the same time, however, there are, as we have seen, many other

    passages which leave no doubt that the ncarnation o God the Word

    Ibid., pp. 33-30. Ibid., p. 301. Tis text is Responses to Talassios, LX, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, cols.


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    came about or the salvation o man and that, consequently, the n-carnation has as its precondition and motive the Fall o man andhis resultant need o redemption and salvation. What are we to sayabout this disagreement in texts by the same Holy ather? s there

    really an essential disagreement and confict between them? Or doesthe problem perhaps reside in how we interpret this disagreemento texts within the broader context o the theological thought o thisgreat ather o the hurch?

    o begin with, it must be said, and emphatically underscored,that St. Maximos is preminently a soteriological theologianas,

    moreover, are all o the other athers o the Orthodox hurch. Tesalvation o man is, or him, the central message o the Gospel o thehurch o hrist the Savior, and or this reason the ncarnate Wordo God, the ord Jesus hrist, is rst and oremost the Savior. t hasbeen said by many students o Patristic theology that St. Maximos isa hristological theologianpar excellence, but it is a act that or him,and also or all o the other hristological Fathers o the East, hris-

    tology itsel is always conceived in soteriological terms.Tis is the case very simply because the God-Man Jesus hrist

    was given to us and was maniested in the history o the allen worldand in the hurch as Savior and Redeemer, as is demonstrated, ur-thermore, by His personal name Jesus (=Savior; see cts 13:23).For this reason, it is inconceivable that St. Maximos would have putorward hypotheses like those o the medival Scholastics, or such

    would betoken an estrangement rom the iblical and Patristic the-ology o the hurch, which is a theology o acts, that is, o theacts o the sacred history o the revelation o the riune God to the

    world, or the salvation o allen man. For this reason, von althasaris correct when he writes:

    [O] course the presupposition o that scholastic controver-sy, which begins with an order o beinga world ree romsinthat is only possible, never historically real, is ar romMaximus thought. or him, the preexistent will o Godis identical with the realm both o ideas and o possibili-

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    ties; the order o essence and the order o act, at this high-est point, converge into one.

    onsequently, special emphasis should be placed on the act

    that in none o his texts does St. Maximos express any hypotheticalthought or idea in connection with the unconditionality or condi-tionality o the ncarnation, but on the contrary, speaks equally posi-tively both about the act that the Word o God became incarnate orthe redemption and salvation o allen dam and about the act thatthe Divine ncarnation o the Word is the blessed end or which allthings were created and the oreordained end, or the sake o which

    all things exist, though it itsel exists or the sake o nothing else.n our opinion, the theological key to the resolution o this

    problem in St. Maximos is precisely his central theological idea: de-ication. rom his entire theological vision it becomes clear that allthings are oriented towards, and explained by their end.

    n seeking his end, thereore, man encounters his begin-

    ning, which exists essentially in his end.4Tus, the entire plan o God, which is contained in the preternal

    Divine counsel or the creation o man and the world, and or theprovidence, salvation, and recapitulation o all things in Him (God),is ully disclosed and exclusively explained only in the ultimate dei-cation o human nature and all creation.

    ut what does deication mean or St. Maximos? Does it meansimply a moral deication or even a deication only according toGrace?

    t is evident rom the entire theological witness o St. Maximosthat the deication o man is inconceivable without the ncarnationo God the Word, or in the end, complete deication, according tohim, is the hypostatic union o human nature with God. Tere arevery many passages that attest to the identication by the Saint othe deication o human nature with its hypostatic union with God

    on althasar, Cosmic Liturgy, p. 23. Responses to Talassios, LX, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 21A.4 Ibid., LIX, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 13.

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    the Word. nd it is very striking that none o the students o the Di-vine Father who denies the unconditionality o the ncarnation dealswith this basic point o Maximian theology, to wit, deication quahypostatic union, whereas it is precisely the texts which speak about

    the unconditionality o the ncarnation that emphasize this concept.nd not only does deication in St. Maximos coincide with hypos-tatic unionwhich, needless to say, is possible only in the ncarnate

    Word o Godbut also recapitulation (or completion [-]), in his view, has the same meaning, as does the word salva-tion, at least in certain passages o his works (salvation=deication

    =hypostatic union).5On this point, the aorementioned response to Talassios is plain:the Mystery o hrist is the hypostatic union o Divinity andhumanity,6 and this is the preternatural deication7 that occursthrough the ncarnation o God the Word, Who, being the reatoro the essence o existing things showed Himsel to be also the u-thor o the deication o those whom He had created.8

    Likewise, the passage rom St. Maximos on the Ambigua(di-cult texts) o St. Gregory the Teologian9 that we cited at the be-

    5 Cf.Centuries on Teology, I.7, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 110B: Te salva-tion o the saved is by Grace, not by nature.

    6 Responses to Talassios, LX, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 20C.7 Ibid.,Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 21.8 Ibid.,Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 2. Suchatotaldeication,therefore,quahypostatic union, was decided upon

    beorehand in the preternal counsel o the Holy rinity, as is correctly stated inthe rst note on this passage (Ibid., note 1, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 2C),and also in the interpretation o the Our ather (Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col.3C) and chapters 23 and 2 o the second entury on Teology (PatrologiaGrca, ol. XC, col. 113AC). Tis point is made even more clearly in the twenty-second response to Talassios (Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 31BC), which we cit-

    ed at the beginning, and also in notes 1 and 3 thereon (Patrologia Grca, ol. XC,col. 321C). ote 3 plainly states that deication is impossible without the ncar-nation o God the Word, insoar as the ncarnation o God is a sure pledge orhuman nature o its hoped-or deication (Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 321).

    Cf. lement o lexandria, Te Instructor, k. I, ch. 12 (Patrologia Grca, ol.VIII, cols. 3A-32A).

    9 Ambigua,Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, col. 10A.

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    ginning speaks with the same clarity about deication and recapit-ulation (or our adaptation and incorporation into the ody ohrist) as the hypostatic union o our nature in hrist withoutdivision and without conusion.4

    Tis text goes on to say that this was Gods all-good purpose orus beore the ages, the realization o which, without any doubt, isensured and brought to ulllment only by the ncarnation o Godthe Word.4

    However, at the end o the passage in question, a basic questionis raised on this subject, or the Saint says that the mystery eected

    in hrist at the end o the age is... a demonstration and ulllmento the mystery that was set orth in our oreather dam at thebeginning o the age.4

    What was the mystery set orth in dam?t was, o course, the deication o human nature and the union

    therein o all creation with God. For deication, as we have seen, wasthe ultimate purpose o man oreordained by God.

    Yet, the question that arises here is as ollows: Would the rst-ormed dam have been able to attain to his purpose, that is, his de-ication?

    urther on in the text, St. Maximos puts orth an extremely in-teresting interpretation, according to which the rst man, dam, hadhe lived rightly, in conormity with the capacity or this given tohim by nature rom the beginning, being moved towards God ac-cording to nature, he would have been able gradually to unite inhimsel and through himsel the ve divisions existing in the worldand thereby attain to his own deication and that o creation, thatis, to his union with the uncreated God.4

    What would this union have been?

    4 Ibid.,Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, col. 10B.4 Cf.Responses to Talassios, LXIII, note 3, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 2B: [Te]

    Providence [o God] is revealed in the hypostatic union o the Word with thefesh.

    4 Ambigua,Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, col. 10.4 Ibid.,Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, cols. 130-130C.

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    ccording to this text o St. Maximos, it would have been theunion through love o the created nature with the uncreated na-ture, which man would have achieved

    by coinhering in his entirety wholly in the whole o Godand becoming everything that God is, save or identity oessence, receiving the whole o God in place o himsel,and gaining God Himsel alone as the prize or his ascentto God.44

    Tis text o the Holy Father serves to explain that the deica-tion o dam, as his union with God, would have been attainable i

    dam had not sinned.However, in spite o this, we are justied in raising yet another

    question at this point on the basis o all o the theological ideas o St.Maximos: s deication, as Grace beyond nature, attainable or anycreated nature whatsoever, even a nature assisted by Divine power?

    or St. Maximos, deication beyond nature is a reality

    to which absolutely no inner principle [] accordingto the nature o existing things will be able to attain.45

    Or, as he says elsewhere, man can achieve the virtues, but not hisdeication, since in the age to come (the age o deication)

    we shall terminate our proper aculties together with those

    limited by nature, becoming that which can in no way beaccomplished by our natural power [being deied], sincenature is incapable o grasping that which transcends na-ture [such as deication]. For no created thing is capableo achieving deication by nature, since it cannot compre-hend God.46

    Likewise, in note on the same passage, he adds the ollowing

    striking observations:

    44 Ibid.,Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, col. 130B.45 Responses to Talassios, LXIII, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. A.46 Ibid., XXII, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 321A.

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    We experience deication passively as something beyondnature according to Grace, but do not achieve it by our-selves. or we do not have any natural capacity to receivedeication.47

    Deication, thereore, as complete hypostatic union with God,is unattainable or created human nature in and o itsel (accordingto the principle o its nature), even or the prelapsarian nature othe rst dam. For this reason, the Holy Father will proclaim un-equivocally that only the mystery o the ncarnation o God the

    Word is capable o bringing about preternatural deication:

    Tus, the [olive tree] on the right is the mystery o theprovidential ncarnation o God the Word, which eectsthe preternatural deication o the saved that was oreor-dained by Grace beore the ages.48

    St. Maximos will say the same thing when, in theAmbiguao St.Gregory the Teologian, he admits that

    the whole man is deied, being divinized by the Grace oGod ncarnate.49

    We can say, thereore, on the basis o the this last passage, thati dam had not sinned, he would most certainly have been deied,though not simply by Divine Grace, but precisely in being divin-

    ized by the Grace o God ncarnate, since deication necessarily pre-

    47 Ibid., note , Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 32A.48 See note . ImpartingtherightFaithtothecatechumenate,withregardtothecriterion

    o deication, St. Gregory the Teologian writes as ollows: elieve that the Sono God... [has become] man or your sake as much as you are to become God orHis sake (Oration 0, On Holy aptism, , Patrologia Grca, ol. XXXVI,

    col. 2B). C. the opinion o St. Maximos, who says that God the Word become incar-

    nate in order to deiy us by Grace as much as He, in His conomy, has becomeman by nature (Responses to Talassios, LXIV, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 2C).. Responses to Talassios, XXII, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 320A; Response toTeopemptos,Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 100.

    49 Ambigua,Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, col. 10C.

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    supposes the hypostatic union o human nature with that o God theWord Who divinizes. n other words, the deication (divinization) oman presupposes and requires the ncarnation o God.

    Tus, in order or man to become God (deication), it is neces-

    sary, as a precondition, that God rst become man (ncarnation).Tat is, the precondition o our deication is the ncarnation o

    God the Word, which in and o itsel has no precondition. o besure, as we have seen, St. Maximos mentions, in one o the passag-es cited previously, that i the rst dam had progressed, he wouldhave recapitulated creation in himsel and would himsel ultimate-

    ly have been unitedthrough love with the uncreated God, since love is thepower that elevates man to God on account o his love orGod.5

    evertheless, the power o true love, according to St. Maximos,does not consist only in thislet us sayunilateral movement rom

    man to God, since love, as the Holy ather says, always carries withit also a good inversion (rom God to man),

    making man God through the divinization o man andGod man through the hominization o God. For the Wordo God and God wills always and in all things to accom-plish the mystery o His embodiment.5

    onsequently, we can now say with certainty that, according tothe Saint, the mystery set orth in our oreather at the beginningo the age, o which the Mystery o hrist constitutes the demon-stration and ulllment, would not have been accomplished savethrough the ncarnation o God the Word, or the simple reason thatdeication cannot be attained by any created nature in and o itsel,

    and that ull and true deication entails the hypostatic union o hu-man nature with God. Tis is eected and ullled only by the n-carnation o God as its rstruits, continuation, and perection. Tisis precisely why, in His preternal counsel, the riune God, Who

    5 Ibid.,Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, col. 10C.5 Ibid.

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    loves mankind, appointed the deication in hrist o man and cre-ation, that is, the hypostatic union o human nature with God the

    Word. t was precisely or this purpose or end that man and theworld were created, or in this way the innermost depth o the a-

    thers goodness5 is revealed.ut how is this theological vision o St. Maximos to be harmo-

    nized with the Fall o man and also with the ncarnation o God theWord or the redemption and salvation o allen dam? Here, we re-turn to the aorementioned soteriological character o the Saints en-tire theology.

    ow, the question arises: s this soteriological character not im-paired and dislocated by the theological opinion o St. Maximos con-cerning the unconditionality o the Divine ncarnation?

    We have already said that the Holy Father does not propoundany hypothesis concerning what would have happened i damhad not allen, etc.

    , however, we were to seek to nd in the works o St. Maximos

    a positive answer to this question that he did not pose, but whichcould be posed, then we would nd the passages cited below, inwhich it is clearly evident that the enfeshment and ncarnation othe Word would have taken place independently o the all o man,and this because the primordial and ultimate all-good purpose oman and creation appointed by God was that o the ncarnation othe Word and o our deication (as St. John o Damascus wouldsay).5 Tis purpose would be realized, not admitting any innova-tion in its own principle.54 Tus, the maniestation o sin, which

    was not unoreseen and which caused alienation rom God, didnot compel God to alter His original plan, in accordance with Hisinner principle.

    5 Responses to Talassios, LX, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 21B.5 St. John o Damascus, Oration on the Nativity o the Teotokos, in -

    : [Te Teotokos: Four homilies onthe Mother o God] (thens: Evages Hidryma Hosios oannes ho Damaskenos,10), p. 0 (see also p. 2, n. 1).

    54 Ambigua,Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, col. 10C.

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    His oreseeing, through oreknowledge, o dams sin simplybrought about the introduction o another (newer) mode o re-alizing the Divine plan,55 the conomic mode o hrists ncarna-tion and suering on the ross, initially or the redemption and sal-

    vation o allen man, but subsequentlyor, more precisely, simulta-neouslyalso or his ultimate deication. Tis new mode o thepreternal design o the Divine counsel, irrevocable and immutable

    according to its own principle, is clearly evident in the ollowingpassage o the Holy Father, in which he distinguishes between theprovidence and judgment o God. He applies providence (the broad-

    er concept) to the ncarnation, as the mystery that eects and con-stitutes preternatural deication, while he applies judgment theretoas the mystery o the suering o the ord or the redemption andsalvation o dams allen nature.

    We read the ollowing:

    Tus, the [olive tree] on the right is the mystery o theprovidential ncarnation o God the Word, which eectsthe preternatural deication o the saved that was oreor-dained by Grace beore the ages, to which absolutely no in-ner principle according to the nature o existing things willbe able to attain. Te [olive tree] on the let is clearly themystery o the judgment displayed in the lie-giving pas-sion o God Who willed to suer in the fesh. [Te mysteryo the ncarnation] eects the complete destruction o all

    the traits and movements introduced into nature contraryto nature as a result o disobedience; it causes the unailingrestoration o all the traits and movements that were pre-viously in accordance with nature. n this restoration, noprinciple o existing things will be ound that is in any wayadulterated.56

    St. Maximos claries the oregoing passage in notes 3 and 3, inwhich he writes:

    55 Ibid.56 Responses to Talassios, LXIII, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. A.

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    Providence is revealed in the hypostatic union o the Wordwith the fesh; judgment is maniested in His acceptanceo suering in the fesh or our sake; through these, unionand suering, the salvation o all is established. Te incar-

    nation came about or the salvation o nature, the suer-ings or the redemption o those held ast by death on ac-count o sin.57

    n our opinion, this very important text o St. Maximos, togeth-er with the two notes thereon that we have cited, clearly presentsthe true dimensions o the theology o the Holy ather on the ma-

    jor topic o the ncarnation o God the Word as the oundation oour deication. Without putting orward hypotheses, the Saint re-veals the unconditionality o the Mystery o the ncarnation o Godthe Word and o the deication and incorporation in hrist o manand creation.

    onsequently, according to St. Maximos, dam (understood ei-ther in his prelapsarian or postlapsarian state) is not the hermeneu-

    tical key to everything, but the God-Man, the Word, hrist, andHe alone.58 Te ncarnation o the Word is not interpreted rom

    dam; rather, dam and all things are interpreted rom and in Godthe Word ncarnate. n Him, that is, hrist, the beginning (creation)and the end (deication) come together, as also does the conomyo salvation, which comes to pass in between them, with the result

    57 Ibid., notes 3-3, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 2B. Elsewhere,too,St.Maximosmakesacleardistinctionbetweenthemysteryof

    the redemption and restoration o human nature to its ancient beauty, which isaccomplished through the voluntary suerings o Jesus, and the mystery o deica-tion through the very ncarnation o the Word. Tus, according to him, the ord

    Jesus, granting our nature dispassion through His Passion, remission through Hissuerings, and eternal lie through His death, restored it, renewing the habitudeso human nature by His own deprivations in the fesh and through His very n-carnation bestowing on our nature the preternatural Grace o deication (Ibid.,LXI, Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 32A; c. Centuries o Various exts, IV.3, Patro-logia Grca, ol. XC, col. 132BC).

    58 C. rchimandrite Justin Popovi, Te Highest alue and ast riterion in Or-thodoxy, in Orthodox Faith and Lie in Christ, trans. [ather] sterios Geroster-gios et al. (elmont, A: nstitute or yzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1),pp. 3-.

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    that the ultimate Divine purpose o all things is disclosed and man-iested in the Risen One:

    Te mystery o the embodiment o the Word contains the

    meaning o all the arcane symbols and gures in the Scrip-tures, and also gives us knowledge o visible and intelligi-ble creatures. He who knows the mystery o the ross andburial knows the inner principles o created things, whilehe who is initiated into the inexpressible power o the Res-urrection knows the purpose or which God originally es-tablished all things.59

    Hence, we may conclude rom the oregoing that, according toSt. Maximos, the deication o man constitutes the second side oone and the same mystery, the rst side o which is the ncarnationo the Word. Just as, thereore, the Divinity o the ncarnate Worddoes not undergo any alteration or change in its union with human-ity, so also human nature, in its deication, is not transormed intothe Divine nature in a pantheistic way, nor does it undergo any al-teration in its essence:

    For just as He came down or our sake without changeand became man as we are, save without sin, undoing thelaws o nature in manner transcending nature, so also shallwe consequently ascend on high or His sake and becomegods as He is by the mystery o Grace, not undergoing any

    change whatsoever in our nature.60 59 Centuries on Teology, I., Patrologia Grca, ol. XC, col. 110AB.6 Ambigua,Patrologia Grca, ol. XCI, col. 120; c. ibid.,Patrologia Grca, ol.

    XCI, col. 120BC. TeFathersoftheChurchspokeopenlyaboutthedivinizationofman,and

    in elucidating this, taught that it is to be understood as coming about by adop-tion and according to Grace and participation, not as a transmutation into theDivine essence (asileios h. oannides, -

    [Te mysticism o the postle Paul] [thens: 1], p. 123). Likewise,accordingtoFatherFlorovsky,thelimitandgoalofcreaturelystriv-

    ing consists precisely in deication or divinization. ut even in this, the immu-table, unchangeable gap between natures will remain: any transubstantiation isexcluded (reation and reaturehood in Creation and Redemption p )