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Microcosm and Mediator: The Theological Anthropology of Maximus the Confessor [Paperback]

By Lars Thunberg (Author), A. M. Allchin (Foreword by) & Lars Thunberg (Preface by)
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Item description for Microcosm and Mediator: The Theological Anthropology of Maximus the Confessor by Lars Thunberg & A. M. Allchin...

This text focuses on Maximus's anthropology, and his developed general reflections on human nature. It examines his psychology, his Christological presuppositions and the general concept of man as microcosm in Antiquity.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Open Court Publishing Company
Pages   512
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6" Height: 1.4"
Weight:   1.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 1995
Publisher   Open Court Publishing Company
ISBN  081269211X  
ISBN13  9780812692112  

Availability  145 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 27, 2016 10:46.
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More About Lars Thunberg & A. M. Allchin

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Thunberg was born in Stockholm and studied in Uppsala, Geneva, Paris and Oxford. He has been Secretary of the Swedish Ecumenical Council, Director of the Nordic Ecumenical Institute, Assistant Professor of Dogmatics.

Lars Thunberg was born in 1928.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Saints
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Microcosm and Mediator: The Theological Anthropology of Maximus the Confessor?

Maximus studies  Mar 26, 2004
It was the late Benedictine scholar Polycarp Sherwood, of St. Meinrad's abbey in rural southern Indiana, who broke wide open the historical and theological study of Maximus the Confessor's writings in the 1950s. But it was the Swedish scholar Lars Thunberg, in the first edition of Microcosm and Mediator (1965), who took Maximian research to a new level of critical analysis. This second edition of Thunberg's work, the major revisions of which appear mainly in the updated introduction, notes, and bibliography, has as its organizing principle the theological anthropology of Maximus; but this book is rich in insights into his christology, cosmology, soteriology, eschatology, asceticism, and ethics as well. In fact the only major dimension of Maximus's thought not substantially treated here is his trinitarian theology, although the book includes a brilliant short treatment of the function of apophatic theology in the Confessor's work.

Thunberg's basic judgments concerning the overall structure of Maximus's thought are still as valid now as when Microcosm and Mediator first appeared three decades ago. He asserts succinctly "that Maximus' anthropology holds the key to his theology as a whole, and that this anthropology, in its turn, is a fruit of the Confessor's personal reflection on the Christological convictions of the Council of Chalcedon, as they were further demonstrated and explained through the Council of Constantinople in 553" (19). Thunberg's achievement has been to demonstrate how the Neo-Chalcedonian perspective of a "theandric" communion of natures, negotiated hypostatically and perichoretically in Jesus Christ, frames Maximus's entire vision of the partnership between Creator and cosmos (on the macrocosmic level), and more specifically between God and the human microcosm. The properly polemical (viz., anti-Origenist) character of Maximus's thought--his thorough rehabilitation of cosmic unity-in-diversity; his profoundly incarnational christocentrism--is rightly highlighted. Where Thunberg's study excels, however, is in detailing how Maximus' anthropology is, in the truest sense, constructively theological anthropology and the fruit of his integrative synthesis.

Thunberg begins with Maximus's construal of the primary structures of human nature, that nature which is a microcosm of the purposeful unity-in-diversity in the created order. Maximus does envision a "natural" state of humanity, at least in terms of the antecedent principle (logos) which assures the basic integrity of human nature and volition over and beyond the disastrous consequences of the fall. But the "natural state" of humanity, as it were, is less a static or ideal condition than a created vocation set before collective humankind, as created in the image of God, freely and "rationally" to mediate for all of creation, to perform the "cosmic liturgy" through theandric communion with the Creator. Meanwhile, as a realist about human history and about the reality of the fall, Maximus spends little time on Adam's pristine or natural state, stipulating that he abused his freedom "at the instant of his creation" (Ambiguum 61), thereby implicating his human posterity and tragically frustrating the natural destiny of humankind.

As Thunberg reveals, human nature (ontologically) and human asceticism (existentially) together constitute the theater, or microcosm, in which the drama of redemption from the fall and, simultaneously, the vindication of humanity's cosmic vocation, leading to deification, unfolds. Within this scheme of things, the practice of virtue (including the cosmic virtue of love) in the imitation of Christ serves to reintegrate human nature and thus reestablish the microcosm. The disintegration brought about by manifold passions is reversed, such that the differentiated passible faculties (epithymia and thymia) are once more reoriented to their intended goal. Within the spiritual life properly speaking (bios praktikos and bios theôrêtikos), Maximus envisions humanity embracing and actively performing the various "mediations" to which it is called, and thus participating with Christ in bridging the chasm between male and female, between paradise and the inhabited world, between heaven and earth, between sensible and intelligible creation, and, finally, between God and his creation (Ambiguum 41). Human deification is, in the end, the capstone of this process--a process not of "recovery" but of genuine advance and renovation in the life of the creation. For Maximus, therefore, human deification and cosmic transfiguration are inseparable hopes, and are together grounded in the reality of the Incarnation.

Thunberg retells and interprets Maximus's version of this cosmic story with grace and elegance. An added virtue is that, along the way, his monograph provides a superb general treatment of the Confessor's critical interaction with the philosophical idioms of his time, and the best general survey of his constructive engagement with earlier patristic sources: Origen, Nemesius, the Cappadocians, Evagrius, Cyril of Alexandria, Pseudo-Dionysius, inter alios. Maximus's achievement is thus displayed in its broadest contexts, all of which are important to understanding his contribution to ecumenical theology.

In short, Microcosm and Mediator remains, over thirty years after its original publication, the most comprehensive and useful secondary study of Maximus the Confessor's thought.

Paul M. Blowers

Foundational Reading on Maximus  Aug 10, 2003
Unlike the other reviewer, I found this book worthy of the full five stars. While the author is a Lutheran, he has a deep appreciation of this most beloved Eastern Orthodox saint and theologian, presenting Maximus' ideas clearly, sympathetically, and in a VERY detailed manner.

It is silly for the other reviewer to discount the work because it has no large paortions of Maximus' work translated. It doesn't advertise itself as such and, to answer his other objection, those works are available in English and other modern languages by authors such as Andrew Louth.

One shouldn't be upset if it is scholarly. It is of no use to approach a figure as complicated as Maximus and expect simple reading. I should say that the other reviewer would be more confused by reading the translations of Maximus than by Thunberg's analysis!

THis is a really good book with lots of great info, making it the milemarker for studies on Maximus. I would also suggest reading "The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church" by Vladimir Lossky to understand the theological context into which St. Maximus fits.


For academics only  May 28, 2003
The book is about St. Maximous and his writings. However there is no translation of St. Maximous works to be found here, rather a interpretation of his works by Prof. Thunberg.

Its a long and tedious read at best and unless the reader knows the early church fathers and thinkers like Evagrius of Pontus, a lot of what is written will be 'greek' to the reader.

As such it should appeal to religous scholars interested in St. Maximous's theology. Others should steer clear of it.

Its sad that such a fine intellect like St. Maximous still lacks a decent translator. So far the only accessible translation of some of his works is the Philokalia Vol 2.

The reason I'm only giving it two stars is that Lungberg did not include a translation of St. Maximous and being a excessive tedious and dry read.


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