So the question of the hour is “How does this work compare to Maximus’s other treatment in Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ? Cosmic Mystery deals primarily with Maximus’s anti-Origenist polemic and his treatment of the two wills of Christ. This work certainly touches on those issues, but not directly. Luis Sales does a fine intro to this rather advanced work on theology. In doing so,
Sales clarifies key Maximian terms and suggests a unifying theme: the two ages. Tantum…quantum (hoson…tosouton). The two ages refer to a single, unifying movement of divine condescension. Human and divine experiences interweave the fabrics of space/time (Sales 26). Maximus’s Two Ages: one age leads to Incarnation; the other to human deification. Yet they aren’t meant to stay apart. They interweave into one movement.
This work also deals more heavily with the doctrine of God proper. God is beyond substance, potentiality, and actuality (Maximus I.2). God isn’t substance. He causes substance. Further, it touches on the relation of God to thought: Since All thought contains plurality, “since there is a mediating relationship between the two specific extremes” (1.82)., and God is simple, then God is beyond thought (2.2).
The book ends with a beautiful section on the consummation of the Ages. Origen is wrong because we can’t fall into another age once we reach stasis with God because God is beyond, indeed even “preceding” those ages. Origen posits stasis, kinesis, genesis. Maximus says this won’t hold because it assumes that God is incapable of satisfying every desire, thus a fall. Therefore, we have instead Becoming, Movement, Rest.
Should you get this work? Yes, but perhaps not right away. You should definitely read St Gregory and Pseudo-Dionysius beforehand, or much of Maximus will be lost on you. This is theology at the highest level. Also, this contains the Greek text.