This work provides a synthetic treatment of Maximus the Confessor’s Ambigua to John, a collection of texts uniquely expressive of the speculative contours of his thought.
Maximus the Confessor (580-662) is one of the great minds of the Christian tradition and his Ambigua to John are a collection of texts uniquely expressive of the speculative contours of his thought. They have not, however, received a synthetic treatment until now. This work provides such a synthetic treatment and argues that Maximus’ central concern in the Ambigua to John is to articulate the nature of philosophy and, more precisely, the scope of the contemplation of nature (θεωρία φυσική) within the philosophical life, where "philosophy," the love of wisdom, is nothing less than the love of the Divine. Part I of this study provides a thorough background in Greek philosophical and patristic philosophies of nature, showing how Maximus’ predecessors understood knowledge of the world in relation to philosophical life, discourse, and praxis. Part II studies the contemplation of nature in the Ambigua and analyzes Maximus’ account of human affectivity in the world, his account of the coherence of philosophical life (praxis and contemplation) as a response to this affectivity, his understanding of the relation between God and the world, and his reconciliation of these various aspects of philosophy in the Christian economy of salvation, which he understands as the renewal of nature and its contemplation.