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Forum Philosophicum

Volume 19, Issue 1, Spring 2014

Marcin Podbielski
Pages 107-144
DOI: 10.5840/forphil201419115

The Face of the Soul, the Face of God

This paper offers a comprehensive examination of the language of “prosōpon” in Maximus the Confessor. It emerges that “prosōpon” almost never has an autonomous meaning in Maximus’ Christology and anthropology. While “person” is either a synonym for “hypostasis” or a term expressing heretical Christological doctrines, it may be used in its own right when Maximus emphasizes the fact that human actions make each of us recognizable as a unique individual. This usage cannot be separated from the colloquial meanings of “face” and “character,” or from instances of “prosōpon” in Maximian Biblical exegesis. “The face of the intellect,” identified with “the face of Christ” within us and reflected in our actions as “the face of the soul,” is the perfect image of the eternal Divine logoi of virtues, impressed by grace in the intellect of saints and reflected in their actions. Possessing one’s own “persona” or “face,” and building one’s uniqueness through one’s own decisions, is of less interest to Maximus than assimilation of oneself to Christ.