Friday, May 14, 2021

37 - Book Review: "Patristic and Scholastic Theology and Their Environment" by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Πατερική και Σχολαστική Θεολογία και το Περιβάλλον τους: 
Με βάση τις προφορικές παραδόσεις του π. Ιωάννου Ρωμανίδη

Patristic and Scholastic Theology and Their Environment: 
Based on the Oral Traditions of Fr. John Romanides

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Published by Monastery of the Nativity of the Theotokos (Pelagia), 2021, pp. 672.
(Currently only available in Greek.)

Book Reviewed by:
Petros Pitsiakkas
Philologist - M.Ed. - Director of the 2nd Lyceum of Nafpaktos

Translated by John Sanidopoulos

The new book of His Eminence the Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou Mr. Hierotheos, Patristic and Scholastic Theology and Their Environment with the subtitle "Based on the Oral Traditions of Fr. John Romanides", offers an analysis of the meeting of Orthodox theology with modern religious and ideological movements. It is a book that presents, on the one hand, patristic theology, which is empirical and is based on the revelation of God to the Prophets, Apostles and Fathers, which highlights the great value of Orthodox theology and, on the other hand, the scholastic theology of the west, which deviates from prophetic, apostolic and patristic theology by relying on philosophy and tries to understand God by reason.

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.

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.