Title

The Christ and the tempter : Christ's temptation by the Devil in the thought of St. Maximus the Confessor and St. Thomas Aquinas

Date of Award

2015

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Theology

Department

Department of Religious Studies

Advisor/Chair

Advisor: Matthew Levering

Abstract

This dissertation considers two trajectories of Christian thought about human temptation after the first sin of Adam and Eve and about Christ's confrontation with the devil in his own temptation, focusing on the embodiment of these trajectories in the thought of Maximus the Confessor and Thomas Aquinas. The first of these trajectories sees fallen human temptation in the framework of an ascetic confrontation with the devil on the battlefield of the human mind, in thoughts and desires. The second of these trajectories see this temptation in the framework of a purely internal division between the flesh and the spirit, expressed as disordered concupiscence (desire") or the fomes peccati (the "tinder of sin"). Structurally, the work is divided into two sets of three chapters with an introduction and a conclusion. The introduction reviews modern denials of the devil's role in Christian theology, defends the place of the devil in Christian theology, considers recent work that relates to the dissertation's subject matter, and provides a detailed outline of the following chapters. Each set of three chapters (first on Maximus, then on Thomas) is organized according to: (1) sources for the central figure; (2) the anthropological framework for temptation in the thought of the figure; and (3) the Christological application of this framework. The author shows that both Maximus and Thomas conceive of Christ in his temptation as an empowering exemplar who takes on something of the punishment for Adam's sin in his own temptation by the devil.Though certain disjunctions appear between these thinkers in the course of the study, the conclusion offers constructive suggestions about ways in which the two trajectories might still be compatible. The conclusion also outlines areas for future historical and systematic research concerning Christian traditions of temptation and recommends a retrieval of the earlier trajectory of which Maximus forms a part."

Keywords

Jesus Christ Temptation, Maximus, Confessor, Saint, approximately 580-662, Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274, Devil Christianity, Divinity, Ethics, Middle Ages, Psychology, Religion, Theology, Christology, imitatio Christi, theological anthropology, concupiscence, fomes peccati, Thomas Aquinas, Maximus the Confessor, development of doctrine, temptation, devil, demons, Christian demonology, ecumenical theology

Rights Statement

Copyright 2015, author

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