Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of History
In the late sixth and early seventh centuries, asceticism continued as a frequent expression of Christian devotion. Despite communications between the Eastern and Western Churches and a common patristic foundation, theology in the East and West during this time diverged on the results of asceticism. This paper explores this divergence by examining two theologians, Gregory the Great and Maximus the Confessor. Current scholarship has examined Gregory the Great and Maximus the Confessor on their own, yet the dialogue between each tradition and its implications remains understudied. Thus, this study contextualizes Gregory the Great’s On the Song of Songs and Maximus the Confessor’s Letter 2: On Love. Though both agreed on asceticism’s importance, they described its outcome differently. Gregory viewed asceticism’s result as a fuller, but imperfect, knowledge of God, while Maximus saw human deification as its result. While both authors used similar theological traditions, certain theologians, like Pseudo-Dionysus and Augustine, were only used by one author or the other. Because of Maximus’ doctrine of deification, holy men could be revered in the East. Yet, Gregory saw man as imperfect until after death; thus, it was more acceptable to revere relics in the West. Ultimately, grasping this divergence helps explain the Holy Man in the East and West.
Zuiderveen, Caleb N., "After Faith, Hope, and Love: the Unique Divergence of Asceticism by Gregory the Great and Maximus the Confessor" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 1024.