|Title:||Divine Contingency: Theologies of Divine Embodiment in Maximos the Confessor and Tsong kha pa|
|Series:||Gorgias Eastern Christian Studies 7|
|By Thomas Cattoi|
|Format:||Hardback, Black, 6 x 9 in|
This work explores the points of contact, as well as the differences, between the distinct notions of divine embodiment developed by Maximos the Confessor (580-662), one of the greatest Greek Fathers, and Tsong kha pa (1357-1419), perhaps the most important thinker in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Both authors developed a spiritual theology where natural contemplation and the practice of the virtues are invested with a transformative value and are construed as a response to a cosmic intelligence, which sustains the universe, but also becomes manifest in history. The Christocentric vision of Maximos, which refines and completes the Chalcedonian paradigm, and the Buddhological reflection of Tsong kha pa, which compounds centuries of Mahayana speculation on the Buddha bodies, share an appreciation for the propedeutic value of the created order, in all its variety and difference. At the same time, the two systems rest on divergent presuppositions as to the ontological nature of the cosmos and the ultimate value of individual identity.
This work outlines how Maximos and Tsong kha pa developed their respective positions in response to the Origenist school and the tradition of rDzogs chen, whose understanding of the spiritual life they considered problematic. Finally, it explores how a comparison between Maximos’ participatory ontology and Tsong kha pa’s construal of Buddhahood illumines the Chalcedonian understanding of incarnation, and helps us articulate a Christocentric theology of religions that appreciates the value of religious difference.
Thomas Cattoi is Assistant Professor of Christology and Cultures at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, which is part of the Graduate Theological Union. He holds degrees in Economics and Philosophy from Oxford and London Universities, as well as a PhD in Systematic Theology from Boston College. His main interests are in the fields of Greek Patristics and Tibetan Buddhism.