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."