2022 St Andrew's Patristic Symposium

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St Andrew's 9th Patristic Symposium


With the blessing of our College Dean, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, the Ninth Patristic Symposium will take place at St Andrew's in 2022. The theme of the Symposium is 'Saint Maximus the Confessor: 7th Century Christianity: Theology and History'.

This year’s patristic symposium will therefore honour the life, times and works of this great Father of the Church, both for this unwavering commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ and for his contributions to theology, which were utilised by the Sixth Ecumenical Council (AD 680-81) and elaborated upon by later Church Fathers including Saints Symeon the New Theologian and Gregory Palamas. Thus, standing within patristic tradition, St Maximus remains one of its greatest interpreters.

The symposium will showcase presentations from the different disciplines of Christian theology interested in further reflecting on this central figure of the early Church, irrespective of their field of expertise, academic affiliation or denominational background. Indeed, it is hoped that this cross-disciplinary approach (whether this be, systematic theology, patristics, ethics, biblical studies, church history, liturgics etc.) will contribute by casting further light—indeed a more enriching and holistic perspective—on this most prominent father of the early Church.

Convenors: Professor Jim Harrison and  Associate Professor Philip Kariatlis






St Maximus The Confessor: Interpreter of Tradition

St Maximus the Confessor is one of the most significant Byzantine saints in the Orthodox Christian tradition. In scholarly circles the ‘ressourcement’—the ‘return to the sources’ of Christian tradition, namely the patristic ones—spearheaded by scholars such as Hans Urs von Balthasar and Lars Thunburg in the mid-to-late 20th century, witnessed a retrieval of Maximus’ comprehensive theological ouvré that saw his renown and reception skyrocket both in the academy and in ecclesial milieus.

In tradition, the saint is acknowledged as an interpreter of tradition: he not only managed a unique synthesis of Platonic and Aristotelian categories within a comprehensive Christ-centred worldview, but he engaged and clarified difficult sayings in the writings of St Gregory the Theologian, expanded upon the thought of St Gregory of Nyssa, and wrote extensively on the nature of the Church, asceticism, and self-sacrificial love in Christ and the life of holiness.

It was the latter that he embodied as he humbly witnessed to the duality of Christ’s wills, both divine and human—i.e. dyothelitism—when the Byzantine empire lapsed into the heresy of monothelitism, the belief that Christ has only one, divine will. St Maximus’ response to this heresy was a logical extension of the formulations of previous Fathers and ecumenical councils who affirmed the belief in one Christ in two natures, and the salvific implications of this for all Christians. For this response he was terribly persecuted and mutilated, dying as a confessor in AD 662, yet—like the martyrs—becoming an immediate participant in and intercessor to our Lord Jesus Christ.

This year’s patristic symposium will therefore honour the life and works of this great Father of the Church, both for this unwavering commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ and for his contributions to theology, which were utilised by the sixth ecumenical council and elaborated upon by later Church Fathers including saints Symeon the New Theologian and Gregory Palamas. Thus, standing within patristic tradition, St Maximus remains one of its greatest interpreters.


St Maximus left many writings (some of which are collected in the Philokalia) that are still widely read today; some are doctrinal, but many more describe the contemplative life and offer spiritual advice. He also wrote widely on liturgical and exegetical subjects. His theological work was later continued by St. Symeon the New Theologian and by St. Gregory Palamas.

His writings include:

  • Quaestiones ad Thalassium—65 questions and answers on difficult passages of Holy Scripture
  • Ambigua—an exegetical work on St. Gregory the Theologian
  • Paraphrases of the works of Dionysius the Areopagite (though many of the works that have come down under Maximus' name are now held to be the work of John of Scythopolis, who wrote in the first half of the 6th century, some 100 years before Maximus)
  • Several dogmatic treatises against the Monothelites
  • Liber Asceticus
  • Capita de Caritate
  • Mystagogia—a mystical interpretation of the Divine Liturgy







'From St Gregory of Nyssa to St Maximus the Confessor; The Background for Ambiguum 41'

Abstract: Although the Ambigua of St Maximus the Confessor are devoted to expounding passages from St Gregory of Nazianzus, the background for Ambig. 41 lies instead, as has often been noted, in St Gregory of Nyssa.  Building on my new edition and translation of St Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Human Image of God (previously known as On the Making of Man), this lecture will examine the play in St Maximus’s text between being human, on the one hand, and existence as male and female on the other, and offer new insights into the best way to translate this difficult text and into the mystery of being human.


Select Bibliography

  • John the Theologian and His Paschal Gospel (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)
  • Origen On First Principles, Oxford Early Christian Texts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018)
  • Irenaeus of Lyons: Identifying Christianity, Christian Theology in Context (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • Becoming Human: Meditations on Christian Anthropology in Word and Image (Crestwood, NY, SVS Press, 2013)
  • St Athanasius: On the Incarnation, translation and introduction, Popular Patristics Series (Crestwood, NY, SVS Press, 2011)
  • The Case Against Diodore and Theodore: Texts and Their Contexts, Oxford Early Christian Texts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 526pp.
  • The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death (Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 2006). 186 pp.
  • The Nicene Faith,vol. 2 of The Formation of Christian Theology (Crestwood, NY: SVS Press, 2004). 2 vols in paper; single hardcover volume 580 pp.
  • The Way to Nicaea, vol. 1 of The Formation of Christian Theology (Crestwood: SVS Press, 2001). 261 pp.
  • Asceticism and Anthropology in Irenaeus and Clement (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). 261 pp.
  • St Irenaeus of Lyons: On the Apostolic Preaching (Crestwood: SVS Press, 1997). 121 pp.



'Comparing Maximus the Confessor and Augustine of Hippo on the Mystery of the Love of God'

Abstract: There are a number of compelling reasons for comparing Augustine of Hippo and Maximus the Confessor on the grand mystery of the love of God. On purely historical grounds, we know that Maximus spent a considerable segment of his middle career in a monastery in Byzantine-occupied North Africa, precisely in a region where, two centuries earlier, Augustine had virtually dominated the ecclesiastical and theological landscape. Scholars have invariably explored whether Maximus had firsthand or secondhand knowledge of Augustine’s legacy (it is inconceivable that he was totally ignorant of it). In the larger perspective of ecumenical Christian thought, moreover, it seems imperative to juxtapose and analytically compare the work of these two figures, who so profoundly shaped the patterns of Christian thinking in their respective domains West and East. Augustine has long enjoyed the epithets doctor caritatis and doctor amoris, magisterial expert on divine love in all its dimensions. But Maximus too envisioned on a grand scale the divine love seamlessly communicated in creation and the economy of salvation. This lecture will compare and contrast the unique approaches of Augustine and Maximus on the mystery of love as grounded within the Trinity, conveyed in creation, perfected in Christ and the Spirit, and supremely formative of the life of the Christian. I hope especially to highlight the important points of convergence between these two extraordinary sages.


 Select Bibliography

  • Salvation’s Folly: Visions and Faces of the Tragic in Early Christian Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020) (forthcoming)
  • The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Biblical Interpretation, co-editor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)
  • Moral Formation and the Virtuous Life (Philadelphia: Fortress, Press, 2019)
  • Maximus the Confessor: Jesus Christ and the Transfiguration of the World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)
  • Drama of the Divine Economy: Creator and Creation in Early Christian Theology and Piety (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)
  • Exegesis and Spiritual Pedagogy in Maximus the Confessor (Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991).
  • On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ: Selected Writings of St. Maximus the Confessor (Crestwood, N.Y.: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003).





  • Fifteen speakers will present their research papers. We are overjoyed by the diversity and richness of the respective presentations and the variety of topics in St Maximus explored. Select papers from this Symposium are scheduled to be published as peer reviewed articles in St Andrew's Academic Journal Phronema in the second semester of 2023.

Listed below are the symposium presenters with their respective topics:


Sr Margaret Beirne

Christoph Schönborn on
Pleasure and Pain, according to

Questiones ad Thalassium



Dr Cullan Joyce

What can historical contemplative traditions contribute to Contemplative Research? Modelling Maximus the Confessor’s Contemplative Practice.


Dr Vasilis Adrahtas

St Maximus the Confessor at the Intersection of Hellenic Philosophy, Jewish Mysticism and Early Islamic Thought



Revd A/Prof. Bassam Nassif

Divine Beauty of Humanity:
Saint Maximus’ Perspective of Gender
and the Experience of Saints



Dr Nikolaos Zarotiadis

Learning to love: Approaching the teaching of St. Cyprian and
St. Maximus the Confessor



Very Reverend Professor John Behr

From St Gregory of Nyssa
to St Maximus the Confessor; The
background for Ambiguum 41



A/Prof. Adam Cooper

Maximus and the Symbolism of Numbers



Professor Aristotle Papanikolaou

St Maximus, the virtues, and the architecture of the soul



Professor David Bradshaw

St Maximus vs Mononergism: The Natural Energies



A/Prof. Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides, Kyeongyoon Woo

The Bacchic State of Mind and Maximus’ Christian Citizenship



Revd Dr Joe Mock

To what extent did the Christology of Bullinger mirror the Christology of Maximus the Confessor?



Professor Paul Blowers

Comparing Maximus the Confessor and Augustine of Hippo on the Mystery of the Love of God



Dr Andrew Mellas

“The Silence Abounding in Song”:
Eschatology and Emotion in
St Maximus the Confessor’s Mystagogia



James Rutherford

The Use of the Divine-Human Analogy
in the Niceno-Chalcedonian Tradition
and Maximus the Confessor



Michael Ibrahim

A Saint and a Physicist Walk into a Bar:
St Maximus the Confessor
and David Bohm in Dialogue









 - Registrations are open to all -

- We welcome those from all faiths and backgrounds to "come and see" -

- Please mail your registration to St Andrew's, or simply email the document to [email protected] -


- We welcome any enquiries to [email protected] -

- We look forward to seeing you there -





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