Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Religious Studies

First Advisor

Johnson, Mark

Second Advisor

Plested, Marcus

Third Advisor

Saint-Laurent, Jeanne-Nicole Mellon


In two generations of Western Patrology, St. Maximus the Confessor’s Christology has grown from a fringe novelty to a mainline topic. Inspired by the Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar’s 1941 Kosmische Liturgie, more recent Western scholars have compared the thought of the Confessor with that of St. Thomas Aquinas. Most, however, neglect Balthasar’s pan-ecclesial reading of Maximus by assuming that Maximian Christology is exclusively Eastern. Its Leonine foundation, original triumph alongside Pope St. Martin I in Rome, and rehabilitation in Latin Scholasticism with Aquinas’s Greek Patristic turn have been overlooked. “Maximus the Confessor in Aquinas’s Christology,” a reception history, places Maximus’s Christology in the Latin milieu in which it first flourished, and it traces the paths taken by Maximus’s writings that enabled Aquinas to restore Maximus’s Christology for the entire subsequent Roman Catholic tradition. The dissertation opens by placing Maximus’s Christology inside its hybrid Eastern-Western context (Introduction and Chapter 1). Since St. John Damascene’s De fide orthodoxa was the principle transmitter of Maximus’s words to the Latin Scholastics (in Burgundio of Pisa’s Latin translation), it continues with an argument in favor of the Damascene’s fidelity to the texts of Maximus that he quoted extensively (Chapter 2). To ensure the reception history’s comprehensiveness, a variety of translations and florilegia by which Maximus’s writings entered the Latin West are also assessed (Chapter 3, which includes special attention to Burgundio’s translation of the Damascene De fide orthodoxa, and Chapter 4), as are the readings of Maximus by Thomas’s greatest conversation partners, Saints Bonaventure and Albert the Great (Chapter 5). Next, the role of the Christological writings of Maximus in Thomas’s corpus is explored (Chapter 6). Finally, the historical theological narrative is summarized before receiving suggested import for modern Catholic theology, especially the cause for Catholic and Orthodox re-communion (Conclusion). Reading the Greek Fathers, including Maximus and John of Damascus, with the pervasive respect that Thomas gave to them is one way that modern Catholic theologians may work to end the Great Schism.



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