Imitation, Knowledge, and the Task of Christology in Maximus the Confessor

By Luke Steven

An exposition of the theme of imitation as the key to knowledge in Maximus the Confessor’s Christology.

ISBN: 9780227177525


Maximus the Confessor (580-662) was a monk and theologian whose combustive historical era, committed doctrinal reflection, and loud and influential voice took him on a turbulent career of traveling and writing around the Mediterranean. Maximus was a spiritual teacher, an ascetic and a contemplative, but he was also a polemicist, a crafter of dogma, an embattled Christologian, a premeditating rhetorician.

In this study, Luke Steven binds together these two disparate sides of the man and his writings by showing that throughout his oeuvre the Confessor positions imitation as the key to knowledge. This lasting epistemology characterizes his earlier ascetic and spiritual works, and in his later works it prominently defines his dogmatic Christological method – that is, the means by which he communicates and persuades and brings people to understand and encounter Jesus Christ, the one with two natures, divine and human. This multifaceted study offers a deep assessment of Maximus’s forebears, new insight on the animating assumptions of his thought, and an unprecedented focus on the rhetoric and method of his christological writings.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 231

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Luke Steven is an ordinand in the Church of England at St Mellitus College, London. He previously gained his PhD in the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of a number of articles on topics relating to early Christianity and patristics.



1. Knowing-by-likeness: Some origins of a patristic epistemology
2. Knowing-by-likeness in Maximus the Confessor
3. Deification, Christ’s incarnation in the believer, and knowing-by-likeness
4. Praise and persuasion: The rhetorical rationale of Maximus’ letters
5. Descending, ascending, and doing Christology by likeness
6. Imitation, desire, and discerning dyothelite Christology

Conclusion: “Christology from within”

Index of Names
Index of Authors
Index of Subjects


Endorsements and Reviews

Inside the world of Maximus the Confessor’s thought beckons a richly sophisticated and cosmically expansive vision of reality illuminated by divine life. All who seek to enter this world of thought now have an invaluable guide: Steven’s profound grasp of the most crucial elements in Maximus makes his approach not only enormously helpful but also aff ords a signifi cant leap forward in our understanding of Maximus.
Mark A. McIntosh, Endowed Chair in Christian Spirituality, Loyola University Chicago

Th is brilliant and beautifully written study traces underappreciated contours in Maximus’s epistemology, showing how the Confessor transposes classical cognitive schemes into a sophisticated theological account of knowing. Steven’s book is a major and creative contribution – it will be essential reading for students of Maximus, a valuable resource for historians of late antique philosophy, and a profound stimulus for all who are interested in the relation between cognition, theological doctrine, and spiritual practice.
Nathan Lyons, Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Notre Dame Australia