|Maximus Confessor’s Interpretation of Abraham’s Hospitality in Genesis 18 and the Preceding Orthodox Tradition|
|Title in the language of publication:||Толкование Максимом Исповедником «гостеприимства Авраама» в Быт. 18 и предшествующая православная традиция|
PhD in cultural studies, assistant professor at the Russian Christian Academy for the Humanities.
Address: 15 Fontanka emb., Saint-Petersburg 191011, Russia.
|Document type:||Research Article|
In Orthodox exegesis, there are two main interpretations of God’s theophany to Abraham in Gen 18: the three ‘men’ were either the pre-incarnate Christ and two angels, or, later, they were a type of the Trinity. This article deals with Maximus the Confessor’s exegesis of this passage. His interpretations are treated in the context of his teaching on love, his philosophical ideas and his mystical teaching. It shows that Maximus’ exegesis can be understood as a creative synthesis of the preceding Orthodox tradition’s two interpretations. According to Maximus, receiving three men as identical with him in nature, Abraham acknowledged, in them and through them, God as the Good Father and Creator of all human beings. Maximus’ statement that Abraham knew “all as one and one as all” (Max. Ep. 2), does not mean that all human beings were exactly alike for Abraham, that is totally identical. It means that for Abraham each human being was God’s own, and Abraham’s love for humankind (φιλανθρωπία) in relation to any human being, was God’s love for humanity. It is that very God’s love for humankind that God perfectly revealed by becoming man in Christ.
Maximus’s God is certainly the god of philosophers, since he was very close to the One and Good of the Neoplatonists. At the same time, He is also the God of Abraham, seen from the Christian perspective. He actively interferes with the human sphere, for example, revealing Himself as it happened with Abraham. This revelation, however, was possible, according to Maximus, thanks to Abraham’s philosophical virtues. Such virtues were Abraham’s love for humankind and contemplation of the human nature’s logos or the overcoming of the matter-form duality and his unity with the One (Max. Thal. 28).
Orthodox exegesis, Maximus the Confessor, theophany, Old Testament, gnomic will, virtues, love.
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© Gregory Benevitch, 2019