By Hans Urs von Balthasar

From his book, Cosmic Liturgy, The Universe according to Maximus the Confessor. Translated by Brian E. Daley, S.J., Ed. A Communio Book Ignatius Press, San Francisco


Chapter 1: The Dark Radiance

a. The Dialectic of Transcendence

"A ray of darkness" (σκότους ἀκτὶς): this image sums up Pseudo-Dionysius' conception of God and also that of Maximus. It is a conception of God that brings to a conclusion an almost boundless tradition of Hellenistic, Jewish, and Christian thinkers, all of whom celebrated God's transcendence. The summit of all being, in the view of Plato and Aristotle, was enthroned in radiant but inaccessible light. Soon, however, Eastern mists began to gather around this Olympian peak, and it began to loom more and more steep and distant, until it disappeared altogether in complete incomprehensibility. The ever-more-transcendent God of Jewish apocalyptic, where some features of the biblical revelation [of God] exceeded their own limits; the God of Philo, exalted above the divine "powers", above the principles of intelligibility (logoi) and the angels, above domination and providence and goodness itself; the unrecognizable "abyss" of the Gnostics; the "superessential Father" of Origen; Plotinus' Good-beyond-all-being; Gregory of Nyssa's God, eternally beyond the reach of love and beyond the grasp of vision: all of these were steps toward the "mystical theology" of the Areopagite, who imparted to the idea of a transcendent being the final and most adequate level of expression.

But this idea of transcendence only came to be grasped effectively because the parallel notion of God's complete immanence had come to be recognized, conditioning and paving the way for his transcendence. The Stoics, and before them Heraclitus and Parmenides, had laid the groundwork for this theology of immanence. But while for these two classically opposed Presocratics transcendence and immanence came down, in the end, to the same thing—for Heraclitus the world swallows God up, for Parmenides God dissolves the world in himself—and while for the Stoics the Logos that dwells in the world could no longer gather itself together as an absolute, transcendent divine principle, Philo and (even more) the Christian Apologists began to develop a genuine sense of the dialectic between transcendence and immanence. Earlier Greek theology rested on a presumption of contradiction, which either (as in Plato) conceived the world simply as the decadent shadow of a genuinely transcendent ideal realm or else (as in Aristotle and the Stoics) saw the ideal as little more than a way of defining the borders of an absolutely real, inherently divine world; Gnostic theology could only see God and the world as engaged in a tragic, radical antipathy, even though the Gnostics tried without success to temper this opposition by generating countless intermediate beings. But the insight began to dawn, at the beginning of the Christian era, that transcendence and immanence in fact only complement one another. Even God, who is in no sense a part of the world, who is absolutely unrivaled in his power and fullness of being, must for that very reason dwell within every entity that claims, in one way or another, the name of Being. It is finally in biblical revelation that this sublime realization, that God's absoluteness and the finitude and relativity of the world do not mutually exclude each other, comes to its maturity. This sense of unity was foreshadowed in Philo's thought, a synthesis of Platonism and Stoicism against the background of the Bible, although it still threatened there to slide off in one direction or the other. But once the idea had been grasped, even the intermediaries of the Gnostic systems could take on a new, positive role: they no longer needed to be simply bridges between contradictory, hostile poles but could actually represent the ways God is near to the world and present within it—as "powers", as radiant means of involving himself in a "history of salvation". And when Wisdom, the focal point of this divine involvement in the world, finally shone forth for Christian faith as the personal Word, the human Christ, all doubts about the possibility of reconciliation between God and the world disappeared.

The old patterns of thought, of course, did not simply disappear. They still haunt Clement's excerpts from Gnostic literature and his own theology of creation; they claim undeserved attention in the works of Origen, who sees the Divine Persons arranged in hierarchical order like emanations and who misinterprets the corporeal realm, again in Gnostic fashion, as a decline from transcendence. There are echoes of them in the spiritualizing ascetical and mystical theology of the early monks, and even the mysticism of the great Cappadocians is not wholly free of them. The fact that peace had finally been made between God and the world, however, despite these occasional stirrings of disquiet, is proved by Plotinus' vast vision of Being—only understandable in its fullness against the background of Christianity—which expressly and polemically turns against the Gnostic practice of downgrading the world. And although evil, for Plotinus, was still inextricably tied up with the material realm, Pseudo-Dionysius was able to take the further step of proclaiming peace with God even there. He brought to completion the final reconciliation between Platonism and the Stoics, between the human sense of a reality that is simply beyond the world and the vision of a world reaching out to be a perfectly ordered universe (kosmos) precisely in its variety, its nonidentity, its internal oppositions and relativity. Because God is endlessly distant from all things, he is near, internal to every one of his creatures—he protects, preserves, satisfies the needs of each creature in its very otherness, its difference from him. This great anonymous thinker's decisive achievement, then, was not simply negative theology—although he clearly developed it, with consummate consistency, to a point unknown before; he also recognized, with impeccable honesty, that such sytematically negative assertions about God can only stand if it is supported by a positive theology that has been thought through with equal consistency and thoroughness: that is why his God, who is nameless, possesses all the names of his works. Even greater than a God who defines himself only by his absolute otherness from the world, this God proves his very otherness in the fact that he can give positive Being to what is not himself, that he can assure it its autonomy, and for that very reason —beyond the gaping chasm that remains between them—assure it a genuine likeness to himself.

Was there still a step to take, even beyond Pseudo-Dionysius? Yes, and it was reserved for Maximus. Origen had developed a system of "intermediate beings" that went beyond Gnosticism by speaking of the forms the divine Logos has taken in the world in the course of salvation history and of the ranks of created spirits corresponding to the degree of their fall away from God; and Plotinus had added to the structure, building it into a graduated system of emanations from an original One. Pseudo-Dionysius appropriated this system in two important ways. First, he borrowed the idea of potentialities for being, which possess a kind of existence halfway between God and the world, as the basic structures of created reality: "being in itself", "life in itself", "mind in itself", and so on. As he attempts to explain them, these potentialities are, when considered as a point of origin, God himself, insofar as God's being can be shared; when considered as modes of participation, they are aspects of the world, insofar as it shares God's being. Secondly, he borrowed the idea of a hierarchy of creatures, a huge ladder—such as Philo had once described it—reaching down in unbroken continuity from the highest seraph, who stands directly before God, to the lowest worm and rock; in tune with ever-fainter echoes of the divine music, all the creatures on the ladder bow low and reach upward in an eternal game of loving condescension and yearning ascent, joined to each other by insatiable desire.

This "golden chain of being" is certainly a captivating picture: its upper end rests in God's fingers, and it hangs down unbroken to the border of nothingness, a shaft of light, spreading gradually outward and downward from the heart of its source, from pure intensity, into realms of increased shading and color but also of darkness, until in the end it disappears. Yet this conception of Being also risks the final loss of what had been achieved. It risks postponing once again the unity of a transcendence beyond all Being and an immanence within all Being, in order to make room for a struggle between Being and Nothingness (or matter), light and darkness. Of course, the themes of emanation and the hierarchy of beings, in Pseudo-Dionysius, are always subordinate to the more basic dialectic of positive and negative theology and, for that reason, are never developed to the fullest extent possible. But it is Maximus who banishes even the hidden contradictory influences of these themes and who finally reconciles the idea of a hierarchy of Being with the assumption of a structural analogy between God and the world. In fact, the emanation of "being in itself", "life in itself", and so on, disappears in his works, and they are replaced by univocal, inner-worldly universal principles, which he calls "generalities" (καθόλα). Later on, we will discuss the meaning and implications of this change in greater detail. With Maximus, too, the Pseudo-Dionysian hierarchies of the "thrice three heavenly choirs", with their liturgy, disappear, as does the ecclesial hierarchy and liturgy, arranged in a corresponding order. In their place, Maximus gives primary emphasis to the tension within the world between the intellectual and phenomenal realms, the world of thought and the world of sense. Rather than gazing upward along the straight ladder of being at choirs of increasingly heavenly spirits, to search for the Divine Reality above the highest movements of the dance, Maximus' eyes look for God in both realms of the world, in sense and intellect, earth and heaven, and meet their limit in both. Only the closure of the two, the growing reciprocity that forms the world as a whole, becomes for him the place where the Transcendent appears, visible precisely in this burgeoning immanence as the One who is wholly other.

This approach to immanence and transcendence is, of course, not without its limits in Maximus' works; that will be clear from what we said in the introductory chapter, since Origen, even more than Pseudo-Dionysius, left his mark on the underlying features of his thought. In this respect, Maximus remained a child of his time, a disciple of his master. But the fact that he was able to develop his own basic insight, in spite of such influences, makes him one of the greatest thinkers in Christian intellectual history. Ferdinand Christian Baur put his finger on the decisive point when he wrote, "Just as [Maximus] attempted to preserve the balance between Christ's two natures in the Monothelite controversy, so, too, it belonged to his style of thought to insist on the autonomy of man; this was in contrast to Platonism, which otherwise—as the Areopagite reveals—stands in a close relationship to Monophysitism"(1). For "man", here, we can simply read "world". It is also true that Maximus thus became the decisive connecting link to Erigena, in whose work the theology of Pseudo-Dionysius takes on a much more cosmological character. But while in Erigena this inclusion of the world in the divine process begins to lend an almost pantheistic tone which threatens to overshadow the positive Christian tradition, theology remains for Maximus completely dominated by the Christian spirit of discernment between God and the world. It is not "heavenly liturgy", as it is for Pseudo-Dionysius, or "cosmic gnosticism", as it is for Erigena; theology, for Maximus, is Cosmic Liturgy.


b. The Dialectic of Analogy

The theme, then, that will be with us throughout this study is the reciprocal relationship of God's transcendence and God's immanence; from this relationship it follows that God is so completely identical with himself that he is able to form all the things that participate in him both into integral units marked off from each other by mutual dissimilarity and into a whole built out of the mutual similarity of the parts.

In that he always remains unchanged, by his own nature, and admits of no alienation from himself through change—neither a more nor a less —yet he still is all things to all, through the boundless abundance of his goodness: lowly with lowly creatures, exalted with the exalted, and the substance of Divinity for those whom he makes divine (2).

He is like a gentle wind, which stirs through all things, imperceptible in himself yet perceived in each different creature. Elijah felt him as a light breeze, "for all feel the wind's breath: it goes through all things and is not hindered or captured by any of them"(3).

For who could really understand or explain how God is completely in all things as a whole and is particularly in each individual thing yet neither has parts nor can be divided; how he is not multiplied in a variety of ways through the countless differences of things that exist and which he dwells in as the source of their being; how he is not made uniform through the special character of the unity that exists in things; how he offers no obstacle to the differences in created essences through the one, unifying totality of them all but truly is all in all things, without ever abandoning his own undivided simplicity(4)?

This, surely, was the inconceivable mystery of the divine peace that Dionysius had celebrated and that Maximus now outlined in a sharper, more philosophical way. It is the mystery of a supreme, self-contained simplicity, fully coexisting with the twofold, incomprehensible, and irreversible self-opening of this unity to both the world as a whole and the world in all its particulars. Whenever they seem about to fall on each other in open hostility, the opposing forces of the world always return, in the end, to the form of unity: the individual to the totality, and vice versa (5). But the unity of God cannot be fully grasped, either in the pole of a particularizing individualism or in that of a faceless totalitarianism that melts all particularity down. Within the world, unity is only visible as the "fluidity of love", as the inconclusive, incomprehensible convergence of opposites. This is the way Pseudo-Dionysius had described our longing desire for God: as the melting of the individual to a fluid state and, at the same time, as the solidification of what, in that individual, is irreplaceable and particular. In the world, there is always a polarity between "participators and the participated, but that is not so in God"(6). Yet this polarity that binds active and passive together and forces both of them into a reciprocal giving and taking, this inner movement, is the underlying rhythm of being in the world and is therefore also the precise place where God is present, "where his incomparable otherness appears. All created being "moves completely or else is moved, causes or is caused, contemplates or is contemplated, speaks or is spoken, . . . acts or is acted upon"(7). In this state of their being formed for each other, in their relatedness (σχέσις), Maximus sees the basic characteristic of all the things that exist in the world (8).It is not as if passivity were produced in some way by a principle opposed to God, as ancient Greek and Gnostic thought imagined—not as if it flowed out of nothingness, out of some kind of original matter that formed the underlying stuff of the world; it is also not as if beings in the world come closer to God to the degree that they lay this passivity aside and are taken up into the pure act which God is. Rather, the very passivity of creatures comes from God, is inseparably tied to their createdness, and is not pure imperfection because even being different from God is a way of imitating him. So to the degree that the creature comes closer to its own perfection, its passivity is also made perfect; and its perfection is the pure state of "undergoing God" (παθεῖν αὐτόν —that is, τὸν Θεόν) (9), a state in which, as we will see, its "activity" is also perfected.

So God reveals himself as equally superior to the more "passive" material world and the more "active" intellectual world, regardless of the fact that the mind reflects him more brightly than does matter. His being is "absolutely inaccessible, equally so (κατὰ τὸ ἴσον) to visible and to invisible creation"(10). The "difference between uncreated and created nature is infinite (ἄπειρον)"(11) and grows ever greater and less controllable. This is reflected in the fact that the perfection of the creature can only be expressed in the paradox of its complete "disappearance" before God (as the stars disappear before the sun) (12), a process that implies at the same time its full establishment as a creature and even its "co-appearance with God"(13).

God's immanent name, then, is the name Being; his transcendent name is the name Not-being, in that he is not any of those things we can speak of as being. The second of these names is more proper to him, since such negation means a reference to God as he is in himself, while an affirmation only refers to him in his activity outside of himself. This is not contradicted by the fact that Maximus, along with the tradition reaching from Philo to Gregory of Nyssa, says we can only know God's existence—know that he is (14)—not his essence, or what he is (15). For this "being" of God has not, in itself, any conceptual content; it lacks even the notion of concrete immediacy implied by "existence" in the created sense (16). Thus affirmation and denial do not contradict each other here:

Negation and affirmation, which stand in opposition to each other, are happily blended when it comes to God and come to each other's aid. The negative statements that indicate that the Divine is not "something" —or better, that tell us which "something" is not God—unite with the affirmative statements whose purpose is to say what this Being, which is not what has been indicated, really is. On the other hand, the affirmative statements only indicate that the Divine is, not what it is, and so are closely tied with the negative statements whose purpose is to say what this Being is not. So long as they are simply taken in relation to each other, then, they show the opposition we call antithesis (ἐξ ἀντιθέσεως); but when they are referred to God, they show their intrinsic interdependence in the fact that these two poles mutually condition each other (τῷ εἰς ἄλληλα τῶν ἄκρων κατὰ περίπτωσιν τρόπῳ τὴν οἰκειότητα)(17).

This linguistic shell game reveals, in fact, that our words only describe our creaturely efforts to speak of God and so cannot bring the One who is utterly other into our field of vision. Even negative language, which in itself—without the anchoring of affirmation—only points into the void, does not directly lead toward the transcendent God. He lies far beyond both modes of knowing.

He who is and who will be all things to all—and who exercises this role precisely through the things that are and that will come to be— is in himself no part of the realm of things that are and come to be, in any way, at any time, nor shall he become so, because he can never be categorized as part of any natural order of beings. As a consequence of his existence beyond being, he is more properly spoken of in terms of not-being. For since it is indispensable for us to recognize the difference, in truth, between God and creatures, the affirmation of what is above being must be the negation of all in the realm of things that are, just as the affirmation of existing things must be a negation of what is above being. Both of these ways of speaking must, in their proper sense, be applicable to him, yet on the other hand neither of them—being or not being—can be applicable in a proper sense. Both are applicable in their own way, in that the one statement affirms God's being as the cause of the being of things, while the other denies it because it lies, as cause, so infinitely beyond all caused being; on the other hand, neither is properly applicable, because neither way of speaking presents us with the real identity of what we are looking for, in its essence and nature. For if something cannot be identified as either being or not being in terms of its natural origin, it clearly cannot be connected either with what is, and what is therefore the subject of language, or with what is not, and what is therefore not the subject of language. Such a reality has a simple and unknown mode of existence, inaccessible to all minds and unsearchable in every way, exalted beyond all affirmation and denial (18).

The point of all this dialectic is first and foremost to make clear that no neutral, common "concept" of Being can span the realities of both God and creature; the analogy of an ever-greater dissimilarity stands in the way, preventing all conceptualization of the fact and the way they are. So the "not" cannot be bracketed away from "being" for the briefest instant of our reflection: if one were to try and hide it even for a moment when considering the essence of the creature, it would immediately appear, with commanding force, on the side of God. Of course, this dialectic of being and not-being preserves its life and color only as long as we are reflecting on the relationship of God to the world—relationships of nearness and distance, of immanence and transcendence. As soon as the thinker tries to detach himself from these relationships and to project himself into the realm of the Absolute, everything becomes gray, every tangible shape melts away.

Dialectical movement does not grasp God. It must simply limit itself to the statement of opposites: in one and the same moment, God "goes forth out of himself and remains within himself". And even this is simply a statement about the relation of the world to God, for God only "goes forth" and "moves" in that he causes motion, God "remains in himself" only in that he causes stable identity (19).

God is the one who scatters the seeds of agape (charity) and eros (yearning), for he has brought these things that were within him outside himself in the act of creation. That is why we read, "God is love", and in the Song of Songs he is called agape, and also "sweetness" and "desire", which are what eros means. For he is the one who is truly loveable and desirable. Because this loving desire has flowed out of him, he— its creator—is said to be himself in love; but insofar as he is himself the one who is truly loveable and desirable, he moves everything that looks toward him and that possesses, in its own way, the power of yearning (20).

Insofar as it is both eros and agape, the divine mystery is in motion; insofar as it is loved and longed for, it moves all that is capable of eros and agape toward itself. To put it more clearly, the divine mystery is in motion insofar as it endows beings capable of longing and love with an inner share in its own life; on the other hand, it moves other beings insofar as it stimulates the longing of what is moved toward it, by means of its very nature. Or again: God moves and is moved, thirsting that others may thirst for him, longing to be longed for, loving to be loved (21).

This dialectic of motion and rest teaches us no more than the dialectic of being and not-being. It simply brings us, once again, back to the focal point of this polarity within creaturely existence, where the creature's precise difference from God and his precise similarity with God stand inseparably linked. For in the path of historical existence lie both the creature's powerlessness and his vitality. This is the ultimate reason why there is, in Maximus' ontology, no absolute affirmation or negation and why the "superessential light" remains a "dark radiance".


Chapter 2: Divine Unknowing

Evagrius left us a saying that summarizes classical Greek teaching on mystical knowledge, from Philo to Maximus: "God cannot be grasped by the mind; for if he is grasped, he is surely not God"(22)! Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine say similar things, as does Maximus: "Whoever has seen God and has understood what he saw has seen nothing"(23)!

Even the saints never saw God's face (24). God is rightly called 'sunlight' and not 'the sun' itself. For just as we cannot look directly into the sun, but at best at its rays, so we can neither think of God nor comprehend him"(25). Only by recalling to our minds the great attributes of creatures in the world does God give us hints of himself: "In himself, God is not known; insofar, however, as he is origin and end of all things, he is the simplicity of the simple, the life of the living, the superessential essence of essences, and finally the fulfillment of all that is good"(26). So Maximus repeats the advice of Gregory of Nyssa: μὴ πολυπραγμόνει, "Do not search like a busybody into what the essence of God might be"(27)!

Even our knowledge of creatures is simply a movement from subject to object, or from the process of thought to the thinker who sustains it and who is never identical with the act of thinking (28)livepage.apple.com; so it is a kind of suspension between poles that never come together in simple identity. "To comprehend accurately even the least of creatures is beyond the power of our reason"; we understand only general qualities, never the unique, existent subject that lies beneath these qualities (29). In an emotional excursus, Maximus repeats the long warnings of Basil and Gregory of Nyssa against the childish rationalism of the Eunomians;

he praises the unknowability of the world and the miracles, far exceeding all comprehension, that lies hidden in the unfathomable depths of the least of its parts. Only such a sense of reverence can be the true presupposition for knowing the far more unknowable God.

For the divine mystery is utterly without parts, because completely without quantity, ... without characteristics, ... completely simple ... and without distance from us, ... without limits, because completely free of movement, ...and without relatedness. That is why it is, in every respect, ineffable and mysterious and why it remains, for all who stir themselves toward it with a seemly reverence, the ultimate limit of knowledge, possessing really only one characteristic we can know with certainty: that we do not know it as it is (30).

This lack of knowledge is not an empty indifference, not a lack of interest. It is an encounter with the inconceivable, an encounter that lies above all conceptual knowing and becomes all the more intense, the closer this inconceivable mystery comes. "The Divine is inimitable, without comparison; for to the very degree that one makes progress in imitating and comparing oneself to God, one experiences how impossible imitation and comparison are"(31). This constant balancing of "however much" and "to that degree" (ὅσον-τοσοῦτον) reflects the basic relationship, on the level of ideas, of God and the world. Distance grows with increasing nearness. Fear, hesitation, and adoration grow with love. Silence increases with the progress of revelation—"that great, echoing voice of the dark, inconceivable, polyphonic silence of God", which man begins to perceive "through that other, buzzing, noisy silence" of his own knowledge (32). Once one penetrates "into the innermost noiselessness of God"(33), the silence that lies above the inarticulateness of concepts becomes the only appropriate form of praise (34), "pure wonder, which alone describes the indescribable majesty"(35).

And yet there is a genuine way into this mystery. The play of affirmation and negation not only engages God and the world but even within the world engages its various levels of being. So Paul, perhaps, was initiated into the positive qualities [of the heavenly spirits] through the negation of insight on his part, and through the ecstatic loss of his own natural condition he was able to imitate theirs. For every intellectual nature, in ways that befit its rank and capacities, is initiated into the intelligible condition and positive characteristics of the rank and essence above it, through the loss and the stripping away of itself; in this way, it comes to imitate the higher being. The affirmation of the knowledge of what is ranked above is a negation of the knowledge of what is ranked below, just as the negation of the knowledge of what is below implies the affirmation of what is above. The ultimate goal is to move on through a step-by-step process of negation to the nature and rank that, as the highest of all, is incomparably superior to all others, until one receives that reality as gift, after all the steps and powers have been left behind, in a negation of knowledge that directly involves God himself. This negation cannot be affirmed in a positive sense by any other being, since now there is no further limit or definition that such a negation can once again absorb. 

So the knower mounts from level to level, "but he comes to rest (λήγει) ultimately in the ineffable, in the unthinkable, and in the absolutely impenetrable"(36). The only word that remains for this encounter is "unity", since it is no longer "thought": the soul has nothing left to think about, after it has thought through everything that is naturally thinkable. Beyond mind and reflection and knowledge, it comes to be without thought, without knowledge, without words, and it simply rushes forward to throw itself into the embrace (προσβολή) of God and to be one with him. It thinks no more, it imagines God no more. For God is not an object of knowledge, whom the soul can objectify by some pattern of behavior; rather, it knows him through simple union, without comparisons and beyond thought—in a way that cannot be uttered or explained, and which only he knows who shares this unspeakable gift with his chosen ones: God himself (37).

Maximus tells us no more about this "divine unknowing". But what he says is enough to let us see which of the two ways of conceiving the divine transcendence—that of Evagrius or that of Dionysius—he prefers. One must, of course, resist seeing the two as sharply opposed to each other; both are Christian thinkers and men of prayer and neither can be accused of pantheism, despite their Neoplatonic tendencies. But Evagrius finds his way to God by prescinding from all sensible and intelligible forms: a way that leads to its goal only through committed asceticism and the consistent practice of contemplation; and that goal is to allow the mind to emerge into the infinite, divine light of the Trinity "free from both matter and form". The knowledge of God is for him no longer objective consciousness; rather, the light of God can be nothing else but what simply enfolds one, beyond all distinction of subject and object. In its own light, the purified mind directly perceives the radiance of the light of God. Hence, the notion of the soul as a "divine spark" is not far from Evagrius' thought: this pantheistic image from Stoicism becomes here a way of expressing a Christian truth.

Pseudo-Dionysius, on the other hand, emphasizes first of all the transcendence, the total otherness of God. He emphasizes it so strongly that all the forms and realms of creation seem to be posited and explained from the point of view of this boundless elevation of the Divine; the highest degree of insistence that God is beyond the world becomes the highest degree of affirmation of the world, the strongest stress on God's immanence. Here Dionysius can clearly be seen as expressing the final form of all Christian Platonism, while Evagrius represents something more preliminary.

If this is true, then one can understand how Maximus can make his intellectual home basically with Pseudo-Dionysius yet, from this home, can draw the whole Evagrian system to himself and bring it to a fulfillment that exceeds its own capabilities. One would be wrong, then, simply to oppose these two approaches to mysticism to each other as if they were mutually exclusive. Even if Maximus uses the Evagrian term ἐκδημία, "migration" from the world and from all created reality toward God(38), it is not entirely clear—pace Viller and Hausherr (39)— that he is not using it in the Pseudo-Dionysian sense of ἔκστασις, of "being transported beyond" all creation into the inconceivable reality of God. Basically, Pseudo-Dionysius' dialectical language and level of philosophical reflection is simply more fully developed, more refined than that of Evagrius; his message is the same, as long as one agrees that Evagrius, too, may not be presumed a pantheist, even though the "knowledge" (gnosis) of God (theologia) [in his system] may not be taken in an objectifying sense.

Maximus' first concern is to preserve God's transcendence. Accordingly, he stands at first, especially in his major works, completely by the side of Pseudo-Dionysius. At the end of the passage we quoted just above, he expresses the concern not to identify with God that "infinity, into which the whole movement of the world and the mind finally empties itself, where thought breathes itself away and the water we swim in drains away. For infinity is surely something that comes from God, but not God himself, who is beyond even it to an incomparable degree"(40). If Maximus emphasizes, perhaps more strongly than Pseudo-Dionysius, the ascending line from sensation to mind, from stage to stage, it is because he is more strongly influenced by the Alexandrian theology of the Logos and its sense of a transforming upward movement [toward the divine mystery]. Still, he is aware that at the end of this ascent, of these progressive revelations, the divine mystery will not be revealed—as in Evagrius' system—as the naked core of Being; rather, the bottomless abyss of divine freedom and sovereignty, and the corresponding lowliness of all that God has created, will first of all yawn before us as an unbridgeable chasm.

Of course, Maximus also encounters, in this unapproachable midpoint of being—more consciously than does Pseudo-Dionysius—the simple, original idea of the world, divested of all its robes of multiplicity: the Logos, the "dawning realization" (cognitio matutina) of all things. In this respect the Neoplatonic image of the center of a circle receives, in his thought, a slight twist in the Alexandrian direction. "As in the center of a circle we see the indivisible point of origin for the straight lines that go out from it, so the one who is worthy to be found in God comes to know in him all the preexistent ideas of the things that have come to be, in a simple and indivisible act of knowing"(41). In this respect, too, Maximus comes closer than Pseudo-Dionysius to Hegel's principle, "The mystical is the speculative"(42).

But even if this convergence in God of the ideas of the world does, in the end, also open up the possibility of a scientific and "systematic" theology (and not just a theology of images and likenesses, as in Pseudo-Dionysius); even if thought, for Maximus, always takes the form of a quest that sweeps through all the world's realms in search of self-forgetting union in God; even if his style of thought is thus, necessarily, one of a progressive synthesizing of poles, tensions, limited differences, all of which—when thrown into the melting pot of the Logos— are meant to rise from his fire as complete, simple wisdom: still he realizes, with utter clarity and certainty, not only that this unity can never be the result of our own laborious ascent, but also that God always remains something infinitely other than the unifying idea of the world. Only this certainty explains the tendency of Maximus' thought, in contrast to the oversimplifications of Origen and Evagrius, to conceive of the particularity and mutual nonidentity of things as something final and positive—his horror of "mixing, as the pagans do, what ought not be confused"(43), Note how far into the realm of mystical speculation the echoes of the Chalcedonian formula have penetrated! The highest union with God is not realized "in spite of" our lasting difference from him, but rather "in" and "through" it. Unity is not the abolition of God's distance from us, and so of his incomprehensibility; it is its highest revelation.

This is also clear in the way Maximus describes the Incarnation of the Logos. Far from taking away our ignorance of God, the Incarnation increases it, in that the Unknowable One has here revealed himself as he is. It is true, certainly, that "otherwise creatures would never have conceived of the Creator, whose nature is infinite and inconceivable"(44). But it is still more true that he was not subjected to nature or made a slave by becoming human; rather, he has elevated nature to himself, by transforming it into a second mystery, while he himself remains completely inconceivable and has revealed his own becoming flesh as something beyond all intelligible being, more inconceivable than any other mystery. He became comprehensible in [human] nature to the very same degree as he has been revealed more fully, through this nature, as the incomprehensible One. "He remained the hidden God, even after this epiphany," says the Teacher [Gregory of Nazianzen], "or, to put it in a more theological way, even in this epiphany. ..." Even when uttered he remains unspoken, even when seen he remains unknown (45).

In the revealing of the mystery, then, and in the experience of union, the liturgy of adoration comes to its full celebration.

Chapter 3: A Thrice-Praised Unity

a. The Blighted Image

Pseudo-Dionysius had wrapped God in "holy veils" so impenetrable that the mystery of his rich inner life was almost entirely inaccessible to theological insight, however much he spoke of that mystery in liturgical terms, with a reverence that did not look for conceptual knowledge. He did this in full self-awareness, all the more so because his method of thought—inspired by Proclus—found triads everywhere, which powerfully invited the speculative mind to interpret them as traces, images, expressions of a triple mode of being at the heart of God. In contrast to the Western Christian Neoplatonism of Victorinus and Augustine, Greek thought found that the productive inner life of the three Persons withdrew more and more completely, not only from the human attempt to contemplate God in the things of the world, but also from mystical experience. While the West, trusting in the inferential ability of the created mind, dared to find the impress and the shadow of trinitarian life in all realms of the world, and later developed these traces in the rich orchestration of the Victorines' trinitarian mysticism, Eastern thought sank deeper and deeper into reverent silence before God as ultimate mystery.

Earlier, in the works of Origen and in pre-Nicene theology in general, the processions of the Divine Persons were conceived as an opening up, a condescension of God to the world: the Son, as the totality of ideas, contained in himself the possibility of multiple being; the Spirit, as "grace", could bring the world to fulfillment. Thus the great categories of being within the world—"existence", "life and rationality", "holiness"—could be interpreted as a directly perceptible reflection of the supreme Trinity. After the Council of Nicaea, which canonized the unity of God and the equality in rank of the Persons, this "way of interpretation was much more difficult to walk. The Cappadocians developed their thought on the Trinity only in polemical works directed against Arianism; here, too, the concern was more for protecting the orthodox formulation of faith than for commenting on its theological or mystical importance. The important thing was to avoid all appearance of self-contradiction; the dogmatic language of tradition was like a precious vessel that must not be shattered, because it contained an unknown jewel. One looks in vain in the spiritual works of the two Gregories for a genuinely trinitarian mysticism (46). What happened in their thinking was that the Son and the Spirit were elevated to the level of the superessential simplicity of the Father's primordial being; the door of that being opened for an instant, to let them both in, and immediately shut again to guard the unsearchable mystery.

Evagrius fought passionately to keep the unity of the divine essence and the trinity of the Persons from being understood in a numerical sense: the three in God has nothing in common with the worldly number three. So he can again attribute to God the old name that Origen had reserved for the Father: "monad" and "henad", utter simplicity. This remains the approach of Pseudo-Dionysius. He knows that the inner life of God is one of eternal, virginal productivity, but he has not the slightest thought of peering curiously into the abyss. If faith did not know of it, nothing in the orderly structure of his hierarchies or in the structure of created spirit would betray, in his view, the traces of this mystery.

Here as everywhere, Maximus is heir to his past. He is heir to the Cappadocians, to Evagrius, to Pseudo-Dionysius; reaching back on his own beyond them all, he is heir also to Origen. A love for a theology that celebrates the inscrutable mystery liturgically is just as noticeable in his thought as in that of Pseudo-Dionysius, so it is not surprising to find in his work traces of the same tendency to remove the triune life of God from any sort of rational speculation. He quotes, in fact, Pseudo-Dionysius directly: "Even if the Godhead, which is exalted above all things, is spoken of in the liturgy as monad and triad, neither we nor any other being knows it as monad or triad; but in order that we might celebrate what is supremely one and what is divinely productive in it, in a way corresponding to the truth, we name that which is above every name with these titles"(47).

The clearest expression of this tendency is the fact that Maximus assigns the Trinity to negative theology, while he assumes that positive theology deals with the God of "salvation history", the God who rules the world by providence and judgment. In giving an allegorical interpretation of the Lord's Transfiguration on Tabor, he calls the radiance of his face a metaphor for apophatic theology, while that of his robes—along with the appearance of Moses (as "providence") and Elijah (as "judgment")—represents cataphatic theology. Referring to the first of these, he writes:

The radiance of the Lord's face [is an image] ... of negative, mystical theology; according to this approach, the blessed and holy Godhead is essentially and supremely ineffable, unknowable, elevated an infinite number of times beyond all infinity. It does not provide the beings below it with the least trace (ἴχνος: lit., footprint), with the cloudiest conception of itself, nor does it offer any being at all a notion—even a dark hint— of how it can be at once unity and trinity. For it is not for the creature to grasp the uncreated, nor for limited beings to embrace the unlimited in their thought (48).

Nonetheless, the Christian knows about God's triune being from divine revelation; it is not simply revealed as a "fact" to be believed, but it is revealed already in the "facts" that the incarnate Christ is the revelation of his Father and that the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from them both (49), is given to those who believe as the spirit who makes them holy and adopts them as children. The Christian, armed with those traditional trinitarian formulas that had been gained at such a price— "three Persons (hypostases, concrete individuals) in one essence", "a triple mode of existence (τρόπος τῆς ὑπάρξεως) in one being"—does not simply stand before a riddle that surpasses the "world's understanding or before what is simply that mystery's "way of appearing" in the world; rather, because the history of the triune God in the world, a history of salvation and sanctification, is the real restoration of the creature to the Father through the Son and the Spirit, the Christian finds himself truly "in" the Trinity. The Trinity "moves in the spirit that can make it its own, "whether angel or human—the spirit that searches through it and in it for what it really is "(50). And if this searching mind should attain to God, then it "shares not only in a unity with the holiness of the Trinity, but even in the unity that belongs to the Trinity in itself"(51).

It would be an anachronism, in dealing with a thinker like Maximus (or with any patristic or early scholastic writer), to try to make a distinction between philosophy and theology "when the subject is a thoughtful interpretation of God and the "world and their relationship to each other, as if to suggest that trinitarian issues are not connected to the purely philosophical problem of positive and negative theology (52). The fact that Maximus grounds both the natural law and the positive moral teaching of the Old Covenant in Jesus Christ, as Word-to-be-made-flesh (53), excludes such an approach, as does the way he always considers all the "philosophical" problems of the emergence and return of the world exclusively within the concrete, supernaturally grounded order of sin and redemption. In such a unified view of things, it would not be at all odd or inconsistent to expect to see traces and images of the Trinity in creatures, as part of the cataphatic stage of considering God's appearance, even if such affirmations should be retracted and denied later on, in the apophatic stage. Nevertheless, Maximus must have continued to be impressed by the intellectual restraint Pseudo-Dionysius had imposed upon himself. Other than a traditional and hasty reference to a triad in the structure of the soul (54), Maximus never speaks of any "vestiges of the Trinity" in other created beings at all. Just as hastily and incidentally, another traditional motif is mentioned in only one place (55): the conception, dear to Gregory Nazianzen, of the historical unfolding of our knowledge of the Trinity as a divinely planned pedagogical scheme (56). This notion, too, plays no real role in Maximus' unhistorical style of thought.

To understand correctly the other texts of Maximus we have to consider, one must always keep before one's eyes Pseudo-Dionysius' dialectic of affirmation and negation, but never an opposition between natural and supernatural knowledge of God. The God who "grants to those who love him to be, through grace, what he himself is by nature" does so "that he may be fully known, yet even in that knowledge remain the fully inconceivable one" (57); this assertion is confirmed by the Dionysian way of speaking of ecstatic knowledge of God, which —like that of Maximus here—does not refer to "philosophical", but to Christian knowledge. This formulation, however, stands in the way of any systematic explanation of the processions "within God (such as Western theology knows them, but which must not be implicitly projected onto Eastern theology, even as an unconscious presupposition). It is precisely the lack of a conceptual scheme for inner-trinitarian life —however much such a scheme may be, in the end, derived from the structure of created being—which prevents theological thought from following creaturely "images" any farther back than God's action in history: in other words, one is led from them to the God of revelation, but precisely not to God as he is in himself.

Only with this in mind can one make proper sense of statements such as that on Romans 1:18f, where Maximus interprets the "hidden reality of God", which is "seen by reason" in creation, first of all in terms of the eternal ideas that are "mysteriously hinted at" in creatures, then also (as Paul does) in terms of the qualities or attributes of God, "his eternal power and divinity". "In the being (existence) of things, we recognize, through faith, the true being of God"; in the articulation of essences and in their preservation, the divine wisdom; in their natural movement, his vitality. This Dionysian triad of being, wisdom, and life allows us, in Maximus' view, to gain a distant view of the triune God: not in such a way that Being would be allotted to the Father, Wisdom to the Son, or Life to the Spirit, but rather in a way that concentrates us on the Pauline concepts of the "eternal power and divinity" of God. It is, in fact, a marginal note in a strange hand that first brings to closure what Maximus doubtless intended to leave open, by connecting these concepts with the triad life-power-spirit (zoe, dynamis, pneuma) (58).

In the course of a great reduction of the five ways from the world to God (essence, motion, distinction, connection, affirmation) to three, then two, then one, the Dionysian triad of being, knowledge, and life once again makes a hurried appearance; it is suggested as a symbol of the Trinity (59) but then immediately disappears in favor of an increasingly strict emphasis on unity, where the person rapt in contemplation mirrors God's unity "like air communicating light". In the Mystagogia (chap. 5), where God's unity is presented as a goal to be approached through five syntheses or "syzygies", unity can be reached in one case under the revealing sign of the second Person and in another case under that of the third Person. One kind of unity is conformity to Christ through grace: the process by which man comes to be himself in the "place" of the hypostatic union—the coming-to-be, from the starting point of the Church, of the Jesus who already exists eternally in himself—and then the return, in Christ, of the image to its original, who is God (60). Another kind of unity is reached through syntheses on the "practical" side of the soul, in its perfection through the Holy Spirit and in the strenuous efforts that come to fulfillment in his grace (61) (corresponding to the christological way to unity mentioned above), in which, once again, everything ends in "divinization", and so in a unity that lies beyond intelligible being (62).

b. Hidden Fruitfulness

This God, of course, is the Christian God, not some empty and abstract, speculative unity; his mystery is pregnant with a life of ineffable fruitfulness.

In the first (mystical) encounter, God teaches the mind, in the embrace of unity, the reality of his own monadic existence, so that no separation from the first cause may be introduced; but God spurs it on to be receptive to his divine, hidden fruitfulness, as well, by whispering quietly and mysteriously to the mind that this Good can never be thought of without the fruit of the Logos and of Wisdom, the power that makes creatures holy—both of which share in his essence and abide personally in him (63).

This intrinsically fruitful God is not only the God of the highest goodness, as Plato conceived him, but the God of Christian love. Here erotic love and selfless charity rejoin each other at the highest level, as they do in Pseudo-Dionysius, and the generally indifferent but benevolent providence of ancient philosophy is transformed, almost automatically, to the divine love of the Sermon on the Mount, a love that shows its perfection in being directed toward good and bad alike. It is precisely this love (64) which draws no distinctions but loves all its fellowmen equally—the distinctively Christian form of love (agape), then, here distinctively understood as a sublimation of philosophical and contemplative desire—that is, for Maximus, the purest reflection of God, as he has revealed himself in his incarnate Son and in his Holy Spirit. So the unity that the Church realizes on earth is the first and most exalted image of God in the world, precisely as a unity of love (65). Only this makes it understandable why Maximus sees such a distance between the "narrow, imperfect, and almost insubstantial" Jewish image of God, which, in its emptiness, "approaches atheism", and the Christian God, who for the first time lets his fullness shine forth (66).

Salvation history is the appearance in time of a loving, triune God; that is why the Father and the Spirit both have a personal role in the Incarnation, even though only the Son has become human. The role of the Father is his "good pleasure", that of the Spirit his "cooperation", while the role of the Son is to "act in his own name". Nevertheless, Maximus immediately emphasizes that the Father as a whole was essentially present in the whole Son, as the Son worked the mystery of our redemption by becoming flesh; the Father did not himself become flesh but gave his approval to the Son's becoming flesh. And the Holy Spirit, as a whole, dwelt essentially in the whole Son, not becoming flesh himself but bringing about the mysterious Incarnation along with the Son (67).

The triune love appears in Christ; as the love of the God who is beyond intelligible being, however, it is not accessible to our thought in any other way than through the Dionysian dialectic.

In the Christian understanding of God, too, the Trinity cannot properly be the object of "scientific knowledge" (in the classical sense of Plato's ἐπιστήμη). For to be concerned with this mystery "is not [to seek] knowledge through explanations (αἰτιολογία) that begin with the superessential cause of all things so much as it is the presentation of the reasons we have in our imagination (δόξα) for praising that cause"(68). Doxa here is the Platonic opposite to causal explanation, since causality in God can never be obvious or accessible to our minds. Maximus knows and expressly states that "faith is true knowledge (γνῶσις ἀληθής) based on unprovable principles, because it is the testimony to things that lie beyond both theoretical and practical reason"(69). Nevertheless—in fact, for this reason—he refuses to distinguish between an "absolute" and a "relative" order in God, even though he knows that the Persons are distinct from one another. "The three are, in truth, one: for this is their being. And the one is, in truth, three: for this is their existence. For the one divine Mystery 'is' in a unitary way and 'subsists' in a threefold way"(70).

"This is hard for our understanding", Hegel says, for the basic principle of intelligibility—the abstract unity of number—is here denied. "One applies one's finite categories, counts one, two, three, mingles with one's ideas the unfortunate form of number. Yet number is not the point here"(71). Maximus speaks in the same vein: "Whether the Godhead, which is exalted above all things, is praised as Trinity or as Unity, it is still neither three nor one as we know those numbers in our experience "(72)."For the threeness is not in the oneness as an accident is in a substance", and "the oneness is not conceptually distinguished from the particular individuals contained within it as a universal or a genus’’. ‘’That which is completely identical with itself and without causal dependency is not mediated through relationship, like that of an effect to its cause"; "nor does the Three proceed out of the One, for the Trinity is unproduced and is revelatory of itself"(73). It is no less unacceptable, on the other hand, to think of God's unity as a "synthesis" of threeness (74). In this way, Maximus' trinitarian theology unfolds in long, seemingly dry, and unyielding formulas, which are really dogmatic litanies inspired by the spirit of liturgy; most of them are intended, in negative terms, to prevent misunderstanding, and in positive terms they simply repeat the complete identity of One and Three, as well as the complete integrity of the three divine individuals (hypostases) within the one divine nature (75). His preference is to emphasize the unity of the Persons in nature and activity and to say no more (76).

 Even in the dogmatic tracts of his middle period, when the theology of the Incarnation kept forcing Maximus to turn to the mystery of God's threeness as a way of clarifying and delineating the mystery of Christ, he says no more. He does not go beyond what Gregory Nazianzen said; rather, he constantly ducks and parries, constantly draws a ring of silence around the bottomless depths of God. The only exception is when the Trisagion, the "Holy, holy, holy" of the liturgy on earth, compels him to allow himself a peek into heaven:

The threefold cry of "Holy!", sung by the whole faithful people in praise of God, hints in a mysterious way at the union that is to come, our equality with the bodiless intellectual powers; as a result of that union, the single race of men, joined with the powers above in the identity of eternal, tranquil movement around God, will spend its energies blessing and celebrating the threefold face of the single divine mystery, in a threefold canticle of praise (77).


1. Die christliche Lehre von der Dreieinigkeit und Menschiverdung Gottes (Tübingen, 1842), 268.

2. Ambigua; PG 91, 1256Β.

3. Scholion on The Divine Names i; PG 4, 2O8C.

4. Ambigua; PG 91, 1257Β.

5. See the bizarre but pointed comparison used by John of Scythopolis in the scholia to Pseudo-Dionysius: In De Div. Nom. 4; PG 4, 2690.6.- In De Div. Nom. 4; PG 4, 252C.

6. Ambigua; PG 91, 1296A.

7. So Centuries on Knowledge I, 7; PG 90, 1085Β; Ambigua; PG 91, 1153Β.

8. Ambigua; PG 91, 1296D.

9. Ibid.; PG 91, 1288B.

10. Ibid.; PG 91, 1077A.

11. ibid.

12. Centuries on Knowledge 1, 79; PG 90, 1113 B.

13. [In German: "nur das Da-Sein oder Dass-Sein".]

14. Ambigua; PG 91, 1216B; cf. 1129A; 1288B.

15. [German: "Denn dieses 'Sein' ist selbst kein begrifflicher Inhalt, es fehlt ihm alles Inhaltliche, das noch im weltlichen Sinn von 'Da' enthalten ist."Balthasar is playing here upon the implications of the "Da" in "Dasein", which in Heideggerian terminology is used to denote the concrete, historical existence of an individual being].

16. Ambigua; PG 91, 1288C.

17. Mystagogia; PG 91, 664AC; cf. Moscow Centuries on Knowledge 1 (ed. Epifanovich, 33).

18. See John of Scythopolis, In De Div. Nom. 5; PG 4, 333CD.

19. Ibid., 4; PG 4, 265CD.

20. Ambigua; PG 91, 1260C.

21. Ambigua; PG 91, 1260C.

22. PG 40, 1275C.

23. In Epistula Dionysii i; PG 4, 529A.

24. In Coel. Hier. 4; PG 4, 56BC; ibid., 13; PG 4, 96C.

25. In De Div. Nom. i; PG 4, 188A.

26. Ibid.; PG 4, 193B.

27. Ibid.; PG 4, 192B.

28. Centuries on Knowledge 2, 2-3; PG 90, 1125CD.

29. Ambigua; PG 91, 1224D-1229A.

30. Ibid.; 1232BC

31. In Epistula Dionysii 2; PG 4, 529D~532A.

32. Mystagogia, chap. 4; PG 91, 672C.

33. Quaestiones ad Thalassium, prooemium; CCG 7, 21, 75f.; PG 90, 248B.

34. In De Div. Nom., i; PG 4, 192C.

35. Ambigua; PG 91, 1244A.

36. Ibid.; 1240C-1241A.

37. Ibid.; 1220BC; see also Moscow Centuries on Knowledge 72 and 92 (ed. Epifanovich, 48, 53).

38. Centuries on Love 2, 28; 3, 20. On this term, see Sherwood's introduction to his translation of the Centuries: The Ascetic Life: The Four Centuries on Charity, Ancient Christian Writers, 21 (Westminster, Md.: Newman Press, 1955), 89.

39. See M. Viller, "Aux sources de la spiritualité de s. Maxime: Les Oeuvres d'Evagre le Pontique", Revue de l'ascetique et de la mystique II(1930): 156-84, 239-68; I. Hausherr, "Ignorance infinie", Orientalia Christiana periodica 2 (1936): 351-62.

40. Ambigua; PG 91, 122OC.

 41. Centuries on Knowledge 2, 4: PG 90, 1125D-1128A.

42. Philosophic der Religion, ed. G. Lasson (Leipzig, 1927), 2:235, n.

43. Ambigua; PG 91, 1244C.

44. In Psalm 59; CCG 23, 16, 242-17, 244; PG 90, 868AB.

1. Ambigua; PG 91, 1048D-1049A.

46. The arguments of Hubert Merki, O.S.B. (Ὁμοίωσις Θεῷ [Rome, 1952], 172) have convinced me to abandon my earlier contention that the homily on Genesis 1:26 (PG 44, 1327-46) is a genuine work of Gregory of Nyssa: see my Présence et pensée (Paris, 1942), 139; (English translation, Presence and Thought [San Francisco, 1995], 169). The homily speaks of an "image of the Trinity" (τυπικὴ τριάς) in the three parts of the soul (sensual, emotional, rational), as well as in the soul's role as psyche, nous, and logos (1337A). But Merki remarks correctly, "Such an interpretation and application of the image-motif to the Trinity is not to be found anywhere, even by intimation, in all the genuine works of Gregory, even though he has many opportunities to do so" (175). The whole human person is image and likeness of the triune God—an image that had been darkened by sin and that is restored to its original brilliance when it is cleansed by the redemption. This motif is developed in a thoroughly Plotinian way, in that the unity of the created mind remains the leading theme. Cf. Roger Leys, S.J., L'Image de Dieu chez saint Grégoire de Nysse (Brussels, 1951).

47. DeDiv. Nom. 13, 3 (PG 3, 980D-981A), quoted by Maximus at Ambigua; PG 91, 188A.

48. Ambigua•, PG 91, 1168A.

49. Maximus uses and expressly defends the idea behind the Latin Filioque: Opuscula; PG 91, 136AB.

50. Ambigua; PG 91, 1260.

51. Ambigua; PG 91, 1196B.

52. This is how Sherwood tries to solve the problem: Maximus, Ascetic Life, and introduction 34, 37.

53. Quaestiones ad Thalassium 19; CCG 7, 119; PG 90, 308BC.

54. In the homily of Pseudo-Gregory of Nyssa we have already mentioned (above, n. 46), this structure is expressed as psyche, nous,and pneuma (PG 44, I337A); in Maximus (Ambigua; PG 91, 1196A) it is nous, logos,and pneuma, conceived as an "image of the archetype", to which, as far as possible, the creature should "conform itself". As a connecting link, Sherwood (Maximus, Ascetic Life, introduction, n. 170) mentions Pseudo-Eulogius of Alexandria (or Epiphanius II of Cyprus; see Theologische Quartalschrift 78 [1896]: 364). One should notice, also, that this mention of the triadic structure of the soul is made, not in the context of the development of this structure to its full realization, but in that of its rootedness in the unity of the Trinity; this is usually the case, when one is speaking of the creature's being made in the image of the triune God.

55. Ambigua; PG 91, 1261A.

56. Oral. 31, 25-27; PG 35, 160-64; Orat. 45, 12-13; (PG 35, 639); cf. Gregory of Nyssa (PG 46, 696-97); Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat. 16, 24; PG 33, 953.

57. Opuscula; PG 91, 33D.

58. Quaestiones ad Thalassium 13; CCG 7, 97, 1-6; PG 90, 296CD.

59. Ambigua; PG 91, 1136BC.

60. Mystagogia 5; PG 91, 676BC.

61. Ibid.; PG 91, 677C.

62. Ibid.; PG 91, 680A-681B.

63. Ambigua; PG 91, 1260D.

64. Sherwood emphasizes this important point (Maximus, Ascetic Life, 29f.) Maximus is implacable in making this demand; in this respect he distinguishes himself from Evagrius, who expressly chooses a different direction (Praktikos; PG 40, 1252B).

65. Mystagogia I; PG 91, 664D-668B.

66. Exposition of the Lord's Prayer; CCG 23, 51, 414-54, 468; PG 90, 892A-893A.

67. Quaestiones ad Thalassium 60; CCG 22, 79, 100-105; PG 90, 624BC; cf. ibid. 63; CCG 22, 155, 167-157, 182; PG 90, 672C; also Exposition of the Lord's Prayer, CCG 23, 31, 87-32, 95; PG 90, 876CD.

68. Ambigua; PG 91, 10366; cf. 1364ΒC. John of Scythopolis takes note of the ambiguity in Pseudo-Dionysius over whether theology is or is not to be considered ἐπιστήμη: In De Div. Nom. 2; PG 4, 2I3CD.

69. Centuries on Knowledge 1, 9; PG 90, 1085CD; cf. Ambigua; PG 91, 1053; "undemonstrable knowledge" (ἀναπόδεικτος γνῶσις).

70. Ambigua; PG 91, 1036C.

71. Philosophie der Religion (1840), 2:234.

72. In De Div. Nom. 13; PG 4, 4I2C; Ambigua; PG 91, 1185C; 1188AB.

73. Exposition of the Lord's Prayer, CCG 23, 53, 446-54, 460; PG 90, 892CD.

74. Mystagogia, chap. 23; PG 91, 701A; cf. In De Div. Nom. 2; PG 4, 220C. 

75. Centuries on Knowledge 2,1; PG 90, 1124D-1125C; Mystagogia 23; PG 91, 700C-701B; Exposition of the Lord's Prayer; CCG 23, 53, 446-54, 460; PG 90, 892CD.

76. Ambigua; PG 91, 1261B-1264B. 

77. Mystagogia 19; PG 91, 696BC.