Nicholas Loudovikos, "Possession or Wholeness? St. Maximus the Confessor and John Zizioulas on Person, Nature, and Will," Participatio 4, "T. F. Torrance and Eastern Orthodoxy" (2013): 258-286
Loudovikos, Nicholas. "Possession or Wholeness? St. Maximus the Confessor and John Zizioulas on Person, Nature, and Will." Participatio 4, "T. F. Torrance and Eastern Orthodoxy" (2013): 258-286
The past few years have seen the awakening of a serious attempt to re-evaluate the personalist/subjectivist hermeneutic and its influence on contemporary theology. One of the foremost representatives of theological personalism is Metropolitan John Zizioulas, a theologian and ecclesiastical writer whose thought has influenced many scholars from his own generation as well as the one following. The endeavour to examine the legitimacy of the supposed patristic foundation of Zizioulas and his fellow personalists’ presuppositions has spawned both fruitful scholarship and acrimonious debate. At the recent International Symposium on St. Maximus the Confessor in Belgrade, Serbia, the Metropolitan set out to clarify his views and reaffirm his presuppositions as being patristic in origin, using the texts of St. Maximus as proofs of his position. This essay aspires to contribute to the ongoing debate by critically evaluating the Metropolitan’s views in light of a close reading of some of Maximus’ texts, especially those which Zizioulas considers to provide evidence of his own views. The focus of our critique will be the dichotomy of person versus nature in Zizioulas' thought -- a question first posed to Zizioulas by T. F. Torrance in the 1970’s and raised again since by a number of other commentators, and now extended further to include the issue of will in its relationship to nature. Our essay seeks to challenge Zizioulas’ claim that we can find support for the priority of person over nature in the writings of Maximus, and further confronts certain general problems posed by the projection of existentialist/subjectivist criteria onto the patristic tradition.