KU Department of Religious Studies lecturer Joshua Lollar has recently published a monograph with the Brepols series Monothéismes et Philosophie, a monograph series dedicated to studies of ancient philosophical monotheism. Joshua's study, entitled To See into the Life of Things: The Contemplation of Nature in Maximus the Confessor and his Predecessors (Turnhout: Brepols, 2013) is a study of the religious philosophy of Maximus the Confessor (580-662), who is one of the most important figures in the formation of Byzantine religious and philosophical culture. Maximus' Ambigua to John, which creatively weave together many strands from the earlier Greek patristic tradition, are constitute his most speculative and challenging work, but they had not received a synthetic treatment until now. To See into the Life of Things (a reference to Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey") gives a synthetic reading of this collection of texts and shows that Maximus’ thinking in the Ambigua to John circles around the concept of the contemplation of nature (θεωρία φυσική), the aspect of religious philosophy that occupied a mediating position between ethical praxis and mystical theology in the Greek patristic tradition. Part I of the book examines Greek philosophical and patristic philosophies of nature, with particular reference to how Maximus’ predecessors understood the contemplation of the cosmos in relation to discourse and praxis. Part II focuses on the contemplation of nature in Maximus' Ambigua and analyzes Maximus' account of human pathos, or affectivity, in the world, his account of praxis and contemplation as a response to this affectivity, his understanding of the relation between the Divine and the world, and his unification of these various aspects of philosophy in the Christian economy of salvation, which Maximus understands as the renewal of nature and its contemplation.
Joshua Lollar received his PhD in Theology from the University of Notre in 2011 and has been a lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at KU since Spring 2012. He is a scholar of Greek patristics with specialization in the thought of Maximus the Confessor and is currently preparing a critical translation of Maximus' Ambigua to John for publication with Corpus Christianorum. He is also an ordained priest in the Eastern Orthodox Church.