Friday, April 23, 2021

36 - Book Review: "The 'Model Kingdom' and the Great Idea: Aspects of the National Problem in Greece (1830-1880)"


Το "Πρότυπο Βασίλειο" και η Μεγάλη Ιδέα

The "Model Kingdom" and the Great Idea:
Aspects of the National Problem in Greece (1830-1880)

By Elli Skopetea

Published by Polytepo in Greece, 1988, pp. 456. 
(Currently only available in Greek.)

Book Reviewed by:
Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou 

Translated by John Sanidopoulos

With the title The "Model Kingdom" and the Great Idea and the subtitle Aspects of the National Problem in Greece (1830-1880), Elli Skopetea has written an amazing book, which is a mirror of the era after the liberation of Greece from the Turkish yoke.

This is the doctoral dissertation of the author, the purpose of which is "to record and, as far as possible, to codify the perceptions about the Greek nation and its 'destiny', as they were formed in Greece during the first decades of its independence" (p. 13). The author relied first on the press of the time, then on the periodical press and then on the eponymous major scholars "but with emphasis on those points that connect them to the minor ones, and not those that distinguish them" (p. 15).

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

35 - Book Review: "Eastern Christendom: A Study of the Origin and Development of the Eastern Orthodox Church" by Nicolas Zernov


Eastern Christendom: 
A Study of the Origin and Development of the Eastern Orthodox Church

Published by G.P. Putnam and Sons, New York, 1961, 326 pages.

By Nicolas Zernov

Reviewed by Georges Florovsky
Slavic Review, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Dec., 1965), p. 745-747.
Unless they are written by great masters, books of such wide scope and compass are seldom based on original research and scrutiny of primary sources. On  the other hand, authors of such comprehensive surveys in their dependence upon the critical assessment by others of source material must be well acquainted with the contemporary state of scholarship in the field. To write such a survey, especially for the ordinary reader, who is usually unable to check the reliability of what is presented to him, is a difficult and responsible task. The book of Dr. Zernov is no more than a compilation; nevertheless he often allows himself to pass judgment on controversial issues and to offer sweeping generalizations which call for resistance from scholars.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

34 - Three Scorching Reviews in One: Fr. George Florovsky Reviews Three Introductory Books on Orthodox Christianity

KONRAD ONASCH, Einfiihrung in die Konfessionskunde der orthodoxen Kirchen. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1962. Pages 291, 24.

GEORGE H. DEMETRAKOPOULOS, Dictionary of Orthodox Theology: A Summary of the Beliefs, Practices, and History of the Eastern Orthodox Church. With an introduction by John E. Rexine. New York: Philosophical Library, 1964. Pages xv, 187.

ALEXANDER SCHMEMANN, The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy. Translated by Lydia W. Kesich. New York, Chicago, and San Francisco: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963. Pages viii, 343.

All of these three books are intended for the ordinary reader seeking an introduction to a new and unfamiliar field. This is the most difficult kind of book to write. The exposition must be clear and well focused. One has to concentrate on the essentials and to delineate the distinctive features of the matter.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

33 - Book Review: "Nicholas Berdyaev: An Introduction to His Thought" by George Seaver

Nicholas Berdyaev: An Introduction to His Thought

Published by Harper & Bros., New York, 1951, 122 pages.

By George Seaver

Reviewed by Georges Florovsky
The Journal of Religion, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Apr., 1951), p. 152.
Mr. Seaver's enthusiasm for Berdyaev admirably qualified him for the task of interpreter. His presentation is vigorous and concise. He added but few comments of his own. Criticism did not belong to the scope of his work, nor had he probably much to say against Berdyaev, except on some minor points. "It was the mission of Berdyaev to rescue the religious consciousness of Christendom from this alienation of spirit from Spirit, by establishing the faith on the rock of personal experience and not on the sands of dogma" (p. 14). And this "mission" is traced back to the tradition of the Eastern church of Europe. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

32 - Book Review: "The Orthodox Church. Its Past and Its Role in the World Today" by John Meyendorff

The Orthodox Church. Its Past and Its Role in the World Today

Published by Pantheon Books, 1962, 244 pages.

By John Meyendorff
Translated from the French by John Chapi

Reviewed by Georges Florovsky
The Russian Review, Vol. 22, No. 3 (July, 1963), pp. 322-324.
This book was first published in French (Editions du Seuil, Paris, 1960) and was addressed to the French reader. The English translation is welcome. The book is well written, in a quiet and sober manner, with a competent knowledge of facts and a true grasp of problems. But to write a popular book is a difficult task and a most demanding art. It is impossible, indeed, to say much on a few pages, and for that reason it is imperative not only to say just the important things, but also to say all important things. Since the author is a Church historian by profession, it was quite natural that he chose the historical way of presentation. It is proper that he began his survey from the beginning, from Apostolic times. The basic emphasis of the Orthodox is precisely on the continuity with the Early Church. As brief as the survey inevitably is, it is fairly done. And yet, for the sake of that general reader for whom the book is primarily intended, one should voice certain cautions.