Synchronicity at Work

Saturday afternoon, I was reading this in Zizioulas Being and Communion (footnote 46 pg 52) on St. Maximus the Confessor:

… Those who attribute this view of Maximus to a monsastic or ascetic bias ignore the fact that he is not an ordinary thinker but perhaps one of the greatest and most creative geniuses in history, …

Then, Saturday night at Vespers, we sing a hymn (troparia) to St. Maximus and the sermon from Father is about the life of St. Maximus. Now, it is true that the calendar sets this Sunday (and hence Saturday night’s vespers) as one honoring St. Maximus … but I didn’t know that, plan for it, or consciously prime myself for this day. It just happened.

The footnote, noted above, is on an interesting passage, which has a slightly different take on mortality than I’ve seen from the West. It has often been written (elsewhere) that our mortality is a result of our “fallen” state, harking back to Genesis 2/3 and the 2nd creation story, specifically, Eve, Adam, the Serpent and the fruit. Everything from mortality, to St. Augustine’s “happy fall” have been ascribed to that story. As I noted some months ago (here) some of the results of a more modern philosophical reading of this story. However, Maximus links mortality to the biological nature of the human hypostasis. Hypostasis began in Greek thought as the idea of “essence”, but by this time hypostasis had been linked to being (a loaded word in the shadow of Sartre as I am now). So Maximus is noting that our unique identity (being or hypostasis) is mortal because it is tied to our biological being not on account of the events of the Garden story.

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  1. jpe says:

    That sounds pretty cool; could you expand on it a bit? Is Maximus saying that we are mortal, not because of historical accident, but because we are human only inasmuch as we are embodied? In other words, thinkers like Augustine are dualist: we have a body on the one hand, and a mind on the other, and the challenge is to explain why the latter expires with the former. Whereas it sounds like you’re saying that Maximus is denying that duality: we’re not a body and a mind, but an em/bodied person. Is that a right reading?

  2. Mark says:

    I’ll endeavor to expand on that tonight.