By Bronwen Neil
Australian EJournal of Theology, Issue 2 (2004)
Abstract: This article investigates Maximus the Confessor’s attitude towards the passions of the soul. Maximus’ understanding of the passions is rooted in the Byzantine inheritance of neo-Platonism, and owes a great deal to Evagrius of Pontus (d. 399). However, Maximus developed an original understanding of the passions and their workings on the will of fallen humankind. In particular we will find that he emphasised the potential for transformation of the passions into instruments for bringing the Christian closer to God. The role of the passions in each of the three stages of the Christian’s path to God will be examined: namely, the ascetic struggle, meditation and divine contemplation. In his appreciation of the importance of community in the Christian life, Maximus’ teaching on the passions has something valuable to offer modern theories of spiritual development.