Tuesday, January 12, 2021

31 - Book Review: "The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church" by Vladimir Lossky

The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church

Published by James Clark & Co., London, 1957, 252 pages.

By Vladimir Lossky

Reviewed by Georges Florovsky
The Journal of Religion, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Jul., 1958), pp. 207-208.

The author of this book died recently in Paris. One reads the book as a theological testament of the author. In fact, it is not a new book. It was first published in French in 1944 (Essai sur la thdologie mystique de l'eglise d'Orient [Paris: Aubier]) and at that time was reviewed and discussed. Yet it kept its urgency and freshness. It is a provocative and stimulating book. In a sense, it is an essay in what can be described as a "neo-patristic synthesis." The author expounds the thoughts of the Greek Fathers and wants to be faithful to their spirit, but he does it as a "modern man," who has passed through the school of modern philosophy and is well acquainted with the challenge of the "modern mind." He confines himself strictly to the Eastern tradition and probably exaggerates the tension between the East and the West even in the Patristic period. A "tension" there obviously existed, as there were "tensions" inside the "Eastern tradition" itself, e.g., between Alexandria and Antioch. But the author seems to assume that the tension between the East and the West, e.g., between the Trinitarian theology of the Cappadocians and that of Augustine, was of such a sharp and radical character as to exclude any kind of "reconciliation" and overarching synthesis. It would be more accurate to say that such a synthesis has never been accomplished or even has not been thoroughly attempted. Even if we admit, as we certainly must, that the Trinitarian theology of Augustine was not well known in the East, up to the late Middle Ages, Augustine's authority had never been seriously questioned in Byzantium even in the times of Patriarch Photius. It is therefore unsafe to exclude his contribution from the Patristic heritage of the "Undivided Church." One should be "ecumenical" rather than simply "oriental" in the field of Patristic studies. One has to take into account the whole wealth of the Patristic tradition and wrestle impartially with its intrinsic variety and tensions.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

30 - Book Review: "The Eastern Schism: A Study of the Papacy and the Eastern Churches During the XIth and XIIth Centuries" by Steven Runciman

The Eastern Schism:
A Study of the Papacy and the Eastern Churches During the XIth and XIIth Centuries

Published by Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1955, 190 pages.

By Steven Runciman

Reviewed by Georges Florovsky
Church History, Volume 26, Issue 2, June 1957, pp. 181-182.

The break between Byzantium and Rome was probably the major tragedy in the history of Christendom. It is inaccurate and misleading to speak of the Eastern Schism. The term suggests that there was "One Church," from which the East broke away, at a certain date, or rather was breaking away gradually and persistently. It is precisely what the West finally came to believe. It is natural that the East finally took the opposite view and came to believe that there was actually a "Western Schism." Strangely enough, both views are accurate and correct, from the historical point of view. What actually happened was the disruption of Unity, and both "separated" parts of Christendom are, in a certain sense, "schisms." In any case, it is so from the purely historical point of view. In spite of all tensions and divergences, conspicuous and provocative as they might have been, the Christian world in the XIth century was still "one world," and people both in the West and in the East, did firmly believe in this "unity." There was still "one universe of discourse," much as its scope and character might have been already obscured on both sides. Paradoxically, it was precisely this presupposition of "unity" that precipitated the "schism." The Western "Drang nach Osten," of which the Crusades were the most spectacular expression, was inspired precisely by this basic conviction that the "Christian World" was one, and consequently had to be "united" and "unified."

Thursday, October 22, 2020

29 - Book Review: "Supernatural Horror in Literature" by H.P. Lovecraft


The Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature

Published by Hippocampus Press, New York, 2000, 172 pages.

By H.P. Lovecraft
Edited with Introduction and Commentary by S.T. Joshi
H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), the most important American supernaturalist since Poe, has had an incalculable influence on all the horror-story writing of recent decades. Although his supernatural fiction has of late been enjoying an unprecedented fame, it is still not widely known that he wrote a critical history of supernatural horror in literature that has yet to be superseded as the finest historical discussion of the genre, titled Supernatural Horror in Literature. This extraordinary work is presented in this volume in its final, revised text, annotated with a helpful Introduction and Commentary and Bibliography.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

28 - Book Review: "Christian Apology" by St. Athanasios Parios


Ἀπολογία Χριστιανική (Christian Apology)

Published by Γρηγόρη, Athens, 2015, 312 pages.

By Saint Athanasios Parios

Reviewed by John Sanidopoulos
First published in 1798, the Christian Apology of St. Athanasios Parios (+ 1813) is published with this translation for the first time in Modern Greek (which will hopefully be soon translated into English), with a helpful Introduction by the late Protopresbyter Fr. George Metallinos.

St. Athanasios was one of the leaders of the Kollyvades Movement, which originated on Mount Athos in the 18th century as an effort to restore traditional Orthodox practices and opposed unwarranted innovations. His books are mostly a patristic approach written to answer specific needs and challenges of his time, for the benefit and education of the Orthodox flock.

Monday, July 6, 2020

27 - Book Review: "Columbus & Cortez, Conquerors for Christ"

Columbus & Cortez, Conquerors for Christ

New Leaf Press, 1992, 304 pages.

By John Eidsmoe

Reviewed by John Sanidopoulos

Did Christopher Columbus exploit the people of America – or did he evangelize them? Did Hernando Cortez subjugate the people of Mexico – or did he liberate them?

These are two of the questions posed by John Eidsmoe, a U.S. Reserve Air Force Lt. Colonel, who serves as a law professor at Faulkner University. Columbus & Cortez, Conquerors for Christ counters what Eidsmoe terms “the assault on Western culture” by media elites and liberal scholars on American university campuses. Eidsmoe surmises that this attack on culture is in actuality an attack on values – the biblical values upon which our nation was founded.