Desiring the Beautiful studies the concept of deification, theosis, in two of the most influential early Christian philosopher-theologians, who might be considered as theoretical consolidators of the idea of theosis, and argues that the proper understanding of their central soteriological concept must take into account its dimension of love and beauty.
The core of the book consists of six chapters, each dedicated to the three central concepts in two thinkers, and while they can be considered as distinct studies, they are, however, elements which lead to the synoptic vision of the erotic-aesthetic dimension of deification. The three themes have been treated systematically, followed by a synthesis and comparison of convergence and divergence between Dionysus and Maximus. The core of the task stands, of course, in the texts and their interpretation, so the method employed was unavoidably hermeneutical as well.
While Dionysius and Maximus are among the most studied Church fathers, the context in which love, beauty and deification relate has not been thoroughly examined so far, and thus Desiring the Beautiful complements existing studies by emphasizing this important aspect of deification as understood by its two chief advocates. Primarily intended for scholars of patristics and Byzantine philosophy, the book can serve as a substantial introduction to the overall thought of Dionysius and Maximus, so it will be of use also to readers interested in late antique and Byzantine studies, early Christian theology, and the relationship between Greek philosophy and Christianity.
"Ivanovic's masterful delineation of the theological 'heart' of the Dionysian and Maximian writings - love, beauty, deification - shows a deef affinity with and well excercised theological instinct for the overall ethos of Byzantine theology."~Bogdan G. Bucur, Duquesne University
"In his carefully thought out and clearly expounded text Filip Ivanovic offers distinguished, judicious, and astonishing perspectives, bridging late antiquity and late modernity. Desiring the Beautiful, with its excellent scholarship, can also serve as a reliable and enjoyable introduction for those who have not yet mined the rich depths of Eastern patristic theology."~Sigurd Bergmann, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
"Filip Ivanovic adds an important voice to the conversation on the intuitive and aesthetical dimensions of the theological enterprises of Maximus and of Dionysius the Areopagite. Erôs, in all its depth and richness as an expression of the creature’s deep desire for transcendence and transformation, is certainly crucial to understanding the overall projects of both writers with respect to contemplation, asceticism, liturgical devotion, ethics, and other aspects of their work. Ivanovic offers fresh insight and helps bring the erotic and the aesthetic to the very forefront of the investigation of these two luminaries of early Byzantine theology."~Paul M. Blowers, Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan College
"In this fine study, Filip Ivanovic explores central themes in two of the great Christian Neoplatonic thinkers of late antiquity, Dionysius the Areopagite and Maximus the Confessor. Both have a rich and complex vision of the way in which, through love of the beautiful, humankind is drawn into union with God, deification. Ivanovic makes clear, too, their differences, drawing out a fundamental ascetic dimension in Maximus’s thought, present only implicitly and inchoately in Dionysius. Ivanovic establishes himself as one of the stars in what appears to be a brilliant constellation of young scholars of early Christian philosophy"~Andrew Louth, Durham University
"Based on a doctoral dissertation supervised by Sigurd Bergmann and Torstein Theodor Tollefsen, it is a clear and helpful exposition of the thinking on deification in Dionysius and Maximus… It deserves to be widely read."~Heythrop Journal
"Ivanovic offers a crisp, erudite, and eloquent synoptic overview of large and interrelated themes in two great Neoplatonic Christian thinkers of late antiquity. While the work is intended for scholars of patristic thought, it would serve readers well who are looking for a broad introduction to the theologies of Pseudo‐Dionysius and Maximus or the interaction between Greek philosophy and early Christian thought."~Reviews in Religion and Theology