Making the Word Flesh: Natural Law and Exegesis in Maximus the Confessor

Throughout his oeuvre, Maximus the Confessor creatively appropriates and redeploys the classical expression “natural law” (ὁ κατὰ φύσιν νόμος) and variations thereof, a concept that traces its origin back to the early Stoics. Though making a rather prominent appearance in his Quaestiones ad Thalassium, the Confessor’s frequent of mention of natural law and its role in his exegesis has received minimal attention, a notable exception being Paul Blowers’s seminal work Exegesis and Spiritual Pedagogy in Maximus the Confessor: An Investigation of the Quaestiones ad Thalassium. In an effort to draw greater attention to this feature of Maximus’ method, this paper shall seek to highlight and explain his Christocentric purpose in using “natural law” in the interpretation of the Scriptural difficulties in the Ad Thalassium. The paper shall focus in particular upon the analogous relationship Maximus establishes between the sensible world of nature and the words of Scripture as well as their cooperative role in the revelation of the Incarnate Logos. In the Confessor’s view, this nomic junction discloses, among other things, a two-way hermeneutical connection between the natural law and what he terms the “written law.”