With great joy, and a little bit of pride, I want to share with you the results of a project in which I played a little role.
More than two years ago I found out for the first time in a discussion with my friend Fr. Dragos Bahrim, the Director of the orthodox seminary in Iasi, (after all, I am not a Patristic scholar, but he is), that St. Maximus the Confessor live his last days in Georgia. He also told me that the Georgian bishop of the place where St. Maximus was buried has already organised two theological conferences, exploring the later life and work of this Eastern Father. However, the proceeds of these academic events have never been published and they are ignored by the theological world at large. A third one was planned for this fall, but the world economic crisis made it impossible and it will probably take place next year.
Equipped with this information, I have done some research during my next trip in Georgia (one of the now 14 countries where I work). The time I had at my disposal did not allow me to meet the bishop (that I do not know personally until now), but I explored together with my colleague Dr. Nana Danelia, who teaches at Tbilisi University, if it would be possible to gather the proceeds of the two theological symposia and to publish the most important ones in a book in the English language, so that they can be used by the international theological community.
Tamila Mgaloblishvili, an Orthodox scholar of international standing, (see presentation below) and Lela Khoperia, accepted to be the editors of this work. Bennett & Bloom, a British publisher specialised in writings about the Caucasus cultures have agreed to produce the book at a very low cost and thus the project was launched.
Anybody who has edited a book with many authors is aware of the travail involved. This one was no exception. We agonised over many issues for over a year. Then the economic crisis hit us hard and slowed down our work even more. We were tempted by despair a number of times and were afraid it will never be finished.
Yet, by God’s grace, through the hard work of the editors, the support of the publisher and the perseverance of my colleague, but also by the gracious financial support provided by World Vision, the book is finally available. It is called Maximus the Confessor and Georgia and is the third volume in a series of this publishing house.
I have not been able yet to hold this volume in my hands. I can hardly wait. And, yes, I will have a few extra copies for my friends who are specialised in Patristics.
We hope this will be a contribution to a better understanding of Georgian Orthodoxy in the overall theological world and will reduce a little bit the international isolation of the Georgian Orthodox Church, caused by certain unhappy circumstances.
Here is a presentation of this volume, as we can find it on the website of the publisher:
The name of Maximus the Confessor is closely linked with Georgia: after the church father was exiled from Byzantium in 662 with two of his disciples, he spent his last days in Lazica, Western Georgia, and died there. Despite the abundant scholarly literature in Georgian about Maximus, international scholarly circles have been largely unaware of the Old Georgian translations of his works, made during the tenth-twelfth centuries, and local ethnographic and folklore materials. These form a rich source for the study of Maximus’ literary heritage and life, particularly the final period of his life after his deportation, as well as shedding light on the links between Georgia and Byzantium.
This volume gathers the results of decades of research, most of which appears for the first time in English translation. The articles concentrate on the Georgian sources that deal with Maximus’ life and literary legacy, creating a collection that will be of value not only for those studying Maximus’ life and works but also for those who are interested in Georgian culture and history in general.
For those interested, I add below the table of contents of the book:
MAXIMUS THE CONFESSOR AND GEORGIA (IBERICA CAUCASIA VOLUME THREE)
1. Introduction: Georgia in the Times of St Maximus the Confessor – Tamila Mgaloblishvili
2. Maximus the Confessor: Life and Works in the Georgian Tradition – Lela Khoperia
3. Euthymius the Athonite’s Translation of Maximus the Confessor’s Quaestiones ad Thalassium – Ani Chantladze
4. Understanding Some Terms in Maximus the Confessor’s Expositio Orationis Dominicae and Its Gelati Translation – Nino Sakvarelidze
5. Maximus the Confessor’s Ambigua ad Iohannem within the Georgian Translation Tradition – Thamar Othkhmezouri
6. A Fragment of Maximus the Confessor’s Quaestiones ad Thalassium in Old Georgian Manuscripts – Maia Rapava
7. The Principles of Term Formation of the Gelati Theological School and the Gelati Translator of the Works of Maximus the Confessor – Damana Melikishvili
8. The Georgian Version of the Scholia on Corpus Dionysiacum: Commentaries Known under the Name of ‘Maximus’ – Lela Aleksidze
9. The Interrelation of the Theological Concepts of Divine Love, Beauty and Contemplation in the Writings of Maximus the Confessor and Shota Rustaveli – Ketevan Bezarashvili
10. David Qipshidze and His Research on the Life and Works of Maximus the Confessor – Eter Kavtaradze
11. Maximus the Confessor in Georgian Legends from the Seventh and Eighth Centuries – Mikheil Chikovani
12. The Folklorization of Maximus the Confessor – Geoffrey Carr-Harris
13. Maximus the Confessor in Georgian Traditional Culture – Irakli Surguladze
14. St Maximus the Confessor as Monk and Hierarch: Some Remarks on His Georgian Iconography – Brigitta Schrade
Key Dates in the Life of Maximus the Confessor
Maps: Georgia in the Seventh Century, The Region of Lechkhumi Byzantium in the Seventh Century
* * *
Tamila Mgaloblishvili – a short presentation
Tamila Mgaloblishvili, editor of Georgians in the Holy Land (Bennett & Bloom 2007), is a specialist in the Christian East and Georgian Medieval culture. She is author of two books, The Klarjeti Polycephalon and The Chronicle of Alexander of Cyprus (both in Georgian), editor of the Iberica-Caucasus Volume I, entitled Ancient Christianity in the Caucasus, along with more than 100 scholarly articles in the field of ancient Georgian literature and history of culture as well as the cultural relations of Georgia and the Christian East during the Middle Ages. She is head of the Centre for Exploration of Georgian Antiquities, head of the Expedition of Georgian Scholars to the Holy Land and a member of many international scholarly institutions, such as the International Association of Patristic Studies, Centre for Early Christian Studies of Australian Catholic University and a visiting fellow of the British Academy.
* * *
I was very please to receive yesterday a message from Fr. Andrew Louth, the foremost world specialist in the theology of St. Maximus. He writes:
Also, today I had the great joy of getting a number of copies of the book and see with great pleasure the good result of this collective effort ( have scanned the cover are replaced it at the top of this text). I am very glad and humbled and I hope that this will serve the cause of the Church and the God we worship.
* * *
Yesterday, 5 January, I had the great pleasure of receiving a personal message from Dr. Tamila Mgaloblishvili, the main editorof the book, which I share with you here, with her permission:
First of all we would like to wish you a happy New year and a Merry Christmas. May this year be peaceful and prosperous, may it brings you and your family lot of happiness, good health and joy.
We would also like to congratulate you on appearing (finally) of the book “Maximus the Confessor and Georgia”. Let us assure you that your part in it is very significant – without support of the World Vision and yours (and Nana’s) personally, this would never happen. We are happy you have finally received the books and you liked it. Nana has sent us the link to your blog. Thank you very much for the kind words about the book and for all you assistance during its preparation. This was a complicated process – it coincided with the war, bombing and refugees, economic crisis and many other troubles for our country and still it has been published.
We also consider this is a good and important book, it will contribute to better understanding of life and works of Maximus the Confessor, and will demonstrate once more the significance of Georgian sources for the study of Christian culture in general.
So, we hope this book will lay the foundation for our future fruitful collaboration.
With many thanks once again and all the best wishes.