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An Attempt at Clarifying Maximus the Confessor’s Remarks on (the Fate of) Sexual Difference in Ambiguum 41

Mitralexis, S; (2021) An Attempt at Clarifying Maximus the Confessor’s Remarks on (the Fate of) Sexual Difference in Ambiguum 41. Filozofija i društvo / Philosophy and Society , 32 (2) pp. 194-203. 10.2298/FID2102194M. Green open access

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Abstract

Maximus the Confessor’s Ambiguum 41 contains some rather atypical observations concerning the distinction of sexes in the human person. There is a certain ambiguity as to whether the distinction of the sexes was intended by God and is ‘by nature’ (as found in Genesis and asserted by most Church Fathers) or a product of the Fall. Namely, Christ is described three times as “shaking out of nature the distinctive characteristics of male and female”, “driving out of nature the difference and division of male and female” and “removing the difference between male and female”. Different readings of those passages engender important implications that can be drawn out from the Confessor’s thought, both eschatological implications and otherwise. The subject has been picked up by Cameron Partridge, Doru Costache and Karolina Kochanczyk–Boninska, among others, but is by no means settled, as they draw quite different conclusions. The noteworthy and far-reaching implications of Maximus’ theological stance and problems are not the object of this paper. In a 2017 paper I attempted to demonstrate what Maximus exactly says in these peculiar and oft-commented passages through a close reading, in order to avoid a two-edged Maximian misunderstanding: to either draw overly radical implications from those passages, projecting decidedly non-Maximian visions on the historical Maximus, or none at all, as if those passages represented standard Patristic positions. Here, I am revisiting this argument, given that the interest in what the Confessor has to say on the subject seems to be increasing.

Type: Article
Title: An Attempt at Clarifying Maximus the Confessor’s Remarks on (the Fate of) Sexual Difference in Ambiguum 41
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.2298/FID2102194M
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.2298/FID2102194M
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Articles published in Philosophy and Society are open-access in accordance with the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 License.
Keywords: Maximus the Confessor, gender, body, male, female, sexual difference, nature
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10168583
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