"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Though her scholarship has attracted important and considerable criticism for being partial, polemical, and in some cases tendentious, even some of her critics, such as Sidney Griffith, have acknowledged that at the very least we owe a debt to Bat Ye'or (a nom de plume) for making the concept of dhimmitude more widely known to such an extent that it can no longer be ignored by those studying the encounter between Eastern Christians and Islam. As I have noted on here several times, other scholars have now come out with other, serious books from major publishers deepening our understanding of dhimmitude, that second-class status affixed to many Jews and Christians under various Islamic governments up to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Ye'or herself has recently published another book, Understanding Dhimmitude (RVP Publishers, 2013), 242pp.

About this book we are told:

Understanding Dhimmitude brings together for the first time twenty-one talks and lectures in which Bat Ye’or explains in layman’s terms the essential concepts from her studies, the fruit of over four decades of groundbreaking research.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Monasticism in the East

Ines Murzaku of Seton Hall University e-mailed me the other day to say she has a new book coming out next year with Peeters, part of their Eastern Christian Studies series, whose other titles you may read here.The publisher lists it as still in production, so there is no Amazon link yet, but the book is entitled Monastic Tradition in Eastern Christianity and the Outside World: a Call for Dialogue. Here is the description from them:

This volume's focus is threefold, thus corresponding to its tri-partite topical division: to analyze Eastern monasticism's unique place in the life transforming journey to theosis; Eastern monasticism's hospitality and mutual encounters with culture; and Eastern and Western monasticism's hospitality to Christian and non-Christian religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam (even though Islam does not have any monastic institution, its adherents have been historically in dialogue with Christian monastics and have the potential to achieve a spiritual affinity with monks of other religious traditions). The three parts of the volume share one unifying argument: monasticism's special call to spiritually symbiotic relationship or impact on the very socio-politic-historic structures of reality. The topics are explored from historical, theological, and literary standpoints. The volume's overall intention is to help make monastic ecumenical engagement or its potential for inter-faith dialogue better known, appreciated, and relevant within inter-religious dialogue.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

He Came That We May Have Life

As we get ready to celebrate the nativity of Christ, we are reminded that God did not send an idea into the world or a philosophical system or series of propositions, still less a mere moral code for achieving virtue. He sent, of course, a person, and that person calls other persons not to a "religion" or an "institution" directly, but to a relationship (one that is, of course, ecclesially and sacramentally mediated). For this reason, and long before I had ever begun to read the controversial Greek Orthodox polemicist Christos Yannaras, I have always found myself resistant to describing Christianity as a "religion," a term that I still avoid whenever possible because of its hugely problematic connotations--to say nothing of the fact that sociologists, philosophers, and other scholars find it notoriously difficult to define with any coherence. In many of his earlier works, Yannaras hints at problems with this term, but in his new book he attacks it directly and fully: Against Religion: the Alienation of the Ecclesial Event, trans. Norman Russell (Holy Cross, 2013), 217pp.

About this book (which I'm reviewing for the newly founded Catholic Review of Books) we are told:
What is religion? In this book Christos Yannaras argues that it is a human construct, the product of our instincts of self-preservation and self-perpetuation, which bolsters our sense of securty as individuals, promising us eternal happiness. Against this, Yannaras sets the commitment of faith, defining it as an act of trust, self-offering and self-transcendence. For a Christian, faith is lived within the ecclesial events, that is to say, within a mode of relations of communion embodied in Christ.
And with this, I shall sign off until after the feast. See you at the end of the month. Znamy boh! 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

For the Bibliophile on Your Christmas List

Though Amazon's recent musings about same-day delivery via drones has not of course come to pass, there is still time for you to order books for the Eastern Christian bibliophile in your family or among your friends--especially if you celebrate on the "old" calendar! I take the liberty of reposting from last month my look back at some notable publications of 2013.

Twice in as many years I've put together a list of books that interested readers may peruse when trying to find something to buy for the Eastern Christian bibliophile on their Christmas list, or otherwise seeking to enrich their own libraries. The 2011 list is here, and the 2012 list is here.

I've done that again for 2013, focusing for the most part on books published just this year--which, as you'll soon see, is a formidable list but even this list is just a sampling of what has emerged this year. I expect that 2014 will be at least as prolific in publications if not more so. Though most of the books noted below presuppose some intellectual formation and academic background on the part of readers--that is, they are for adults--I did note here some recent, vibrant publications for children that I commend to your attention.

One of the most fascinating large and hefty collections of academic articles on icons, Icons in Time, Persons in Eternity: Orthodox Theology and the Aesthetics of the Christian Imagewas noted here. Ashgate also brought out another scholarly collection on icons, which was noted here.

This new book, which I have read and continue to think about, and of which I hope to have a review posted in the coming weeks, also deserves attention by those interested not just in iconography, but especially in politically motivated forms of iconoclasm: The Politics of Iconoclasm: Religion, Violence and the Culture of Image-Breaking in Christianity and Islam. 

Also on the topic of iconoclasm is a new book by the leading scholar of it today in its Byzantine context, Leslie Brubaker, Inventing Byzantine Iconoclasm, some details of which are here, where I also note other recent books on the topic by Brubaker.

Finally, this past summer I discovered a new (to me) book on Romanian iconography, which I discussed here.


2013 was itself an anniversary year--the 1700th anniversary of the legalization of Christianity under Constantine, whose legacy, as I noted here, continues to be vigorously debated.

2013 is also, of course, the lead-up to the centenary of the Great War, about which we have already seen a steady stream of books in anticipation of the anniversary next year. I discussed a number of those books here and more recently here. That war, of course, brought down many empires, and one study of their collapse was noted here


The papacy was also, of course, the object of much comment this year, a good deal of it, however ironically, from me. See here, e.g. Or for a vastly more authoritative treatment, perhaps even bordering on infallible, see here.

From Orthodox scholars, see this very important book by an Orthodox theologian, of which I have a review forthcoming next year for the British journal, Reviews in Religion and Theology: George Demacopoulos, The Invention of Peter: Apostolic Discourse and Papal Authority in Late AntiquityAs I noted in my review, this book shows--as other recent studies have--that the history of the papacy, and of East-West relations, is considerably more complicated than either Western apologists for the papacy, or Eastern critics of it, have usually allowed.

Much discussion in the last six weeks or so has focused on Pope Francis and his plans for reforms in the structure of the Catholic Church and his calling of a so-called synod of bishops in Rome. That misnamed institution was recently studied here.

The Ethiopian Church, the largest Orthodox church in Africa, is starting to garner more scholarly attention. One recent study of Ethiopian ecclesiology was noted here.

Finally, papal primacy is treated in a new book by an Orthodox theologian which I read in mss. form and am happy to see in print. It deserves careful reading from Catholic and Orthodox Christians alike.


Just recently Eerdmans published an English translation of a book written a number of years ago in German by Thomas Bremer:
Cross and Kremlin: A Brief History of the Orthodox Church in Russiasome details here.

The role of the YMCA in 20th-century Russian Christianity, and Russian relations with Western Christians, was treated in a fascinating new book which our reviewer praised. That book was was noted here.

A new book on post-Soviet religious life, which has been treated in at least a dozen books in English alone in the last decade, was noted here. The rise and role of "secularism" in Russia and Ukraine was discussed here.

A big new book, which I'm told is in the mail to me this week, treats one of the most important Russian theological journals of the past century: Antoine Arjakovsky (whom I will interview in the new year about his book),  The Way: Religious Thinkers of the Russian Emigration in Paris and Their Journal, 1925-1940. Details about the book are here.

Russia has long been a "front" for action by, and conflicts with and between, her native Orthodox Church and various Western churches and para-church institutions. One recent book treats a fascinating episode of that: Russian Bible Wars: Modern Scriptural Translation and Cultural Authority, which was noted here.


As we know, over the last quarter-century or so, there have been considerable numbers of Christians raised in a Western tradition who have headed East. (Some of them, alas, then begin ranting about the "pan-heresy" of ecumenism, an absurd notion discussed here.) Several recent books treat their stories, including converts to Orthodoxy who are philosophers of one sort or another (for more on philosophy in a Byzantine context, see here.) At the beginning of the year I noted a book on converts in general here. Then at the end of the year we had, as I noted a few weeks ago, what promises to be a fascinating and serious scholarly study whose author I hope to interview in the new year. That book, by the Orthodox priest and historian Oliver Herbel, was noted here.

Social Issues: 

I've followed a number of on-line discussions this year about the problems of "bourgeois Christianity." The entanglements of economics, class, and faith in North America remains a question I hope to write more about in the coming year.

At the beginning of this year I interviewed an author about her fascinating new book, They Who Give from Evil: The Response of the Eastern Church to Moneylending in the Early Christian Era

Western Phantasmagoria:

I've spent more time than I liked this year on the uses and abuses of history, not least by Orthodox Christians against the West. Most happily indeed, we had two first-rate studies this year from Orthodox theologians and historians taking on some of the grossest and most absurd of the caricatures. The first of these was from Marcus Plested on Orthodox Readings of Aquinas. I interviewed Plested here. His book was reviewed this year in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies, and the review was entirely laudatory.  

The other collection that was supposed to be out in the summer was just released last month under the editorial direction of Fordham's two outstanding Orthodox theologians: Orthodox Constructions of the West. This highly welcome and overdue collection was noted in some detail here. I will continue to discuss it in the weeks ahead. If you could only buy one book this year, I'd give this one the most serious consideration.

Middle East:
For more than a decade now we have watched a steady stampede of Eastern Christians out of the Middle East. For the last three years, those who remained, especially in places like Egypt and Syria, were said by some early and hopeful commentators to be living through a so-called Arab "spring" but today we more correctly speak of the lack thereof, as noted here.

But the Arab world is not dead intellectually, and so I noted a new book on Trinitarian theology in an Arabic context here. And it was a very welcome event in May to have published The Bible in Arabic: The Scriptures of the 'People of the Book' in the Language of Islam, authored by one of the world's leading scholars on the encounter between Islam and Eastern Christians.

The role of Coptic Christians in the ongoing political struggles of Egypt came in for scrutiny in a new book noted here

One of the great Byzantinists of our time treated the world on the eve of Islamic conquest in her new collection, Late Antiquity on the Eve of Islam.

Muslim-Christian Relations:

Continuing the theme of Muslim-Christian relations more widely, I noted a new Routledge Reader on this topic here.

Ayse Ozil's fascinating new book, which I hope to read over the Christmas break, was released only in late October: Orthodox Christians in the Late Ottoman Empire: A Study of Communal Relations in Anatolia.

Here I noted another book on the endlessly debated Crusaders and Ottomans. 

Finally, I spent some time commenting on this very careful and deeply fascinating study from Nicholas Doumanis: Before the Nation: Muslim-Christian Coexistence and its Destruction in Late-Ottoman Anatolia, which I discussed here. It is a very welcome study and deserves a place on every bibliography devoted to Muslim-Christian relations. Similar studies include one on Jews and Christians under Islam, noted here, and a recent study on, surprisingly, dhimmis in the West, noted here.


A short little introductory handbook to the Byzantine liturgy was noted here, while here I noted the reprinting of one of the standard scholarly works in the field, Hugh Wybrew's The Orthodox Liturgy: The Development of the Eucharistic Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite.

For the specialists among us, this collection of Byzantine liturgical manuscripts may be of interest.

Finally, for sacred architecture in Byzantium, see here

The death, just two weeks ago, of the well known and Orthodox composer John Tavener put me in mind of several of his beautiful and deeply haunting pieces. For those see these two CDs (inter alia): Tavener: Sacred Music and Best of John Tavener.

Developments in Byzantine chant were noted in this new book.


In teaching a new class this year, I turned to one of the classics in the field, The Way of a Pilgrim: The Jesus Prayer Journey— Annotated & Explained, which was discussed here.

Holy Trinity Jordanville recently published a series of small little book on the spiritual life, several of which I noted here.

The role of asceticism was discussed here, where I noted a welcome new book, that draws extensively on the East, by David Fagerberg: On Liturgical Asceticism

The Rule of St. Basil the Great was again available in English after a long hiatus as I noted here.


In addition, of course, to Aristotle Papanikolaou's new book (which actually came out at the end of last year), The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical OrthodoxyI also noted a new book on Orthodoxy and human rights here.

Author Interviews:

The lovely Edith Humphrey, Orthodox biblical scholar and theologian and author of Scripture and Tradition: What the Bible Really Says, was interviewed here. (My 2011 interview with her is here.)

My dear friend Bill Mills was interviewed here about the Festschrift he recently published about our mutual friend Michael Plekon, Church and World: Essays in Honor of Michael Plekon.

The blogger Rod Dreher was interviewed here about his book The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life..

As noted above, Brenda  Llwellyn I hssen was intereviewed here about  They Who Give from Evil: The Response of the Eastern Church to Moneylending in the Early Christian Era.

Augustine Casiday was interviewed here about his big new collection The Orthodox Christian World. In 2014, I hope to interview him about his even more recent book on Evagrius.

Finally, just last weekend I interviewed Sarah Hinlicky Wilson about her book on Elisabeth Behr-Sigel.

Finally, though it has been out for several years, I only got around to seeing Ostrov (The Island), this year with my students. My thoughts on it are here. If you've not seen it, do yourself a favor over Christmas and watch it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Antoine Arjakovsky Leads the Way

A couple of weeks ago, the University of Notre Dame Press sent me the translation of Antoine Arjakovsky's book, The Way: Religious Thinkers of the Russian Emigration in Paris and Their Journal, 1925-1940, which I've previously noted on here. The publisher tells us the following about the book:

The journal Put', or The Way, was one of the major vehicles for philosophical and religious discussion among Russian émigrés in Paris from 1925 until the beginning of World War II. The Russian language journal, edited by Nicholas Berdyaev among others, has been called one of the most erudite in all Russian intellectual history; however, it remained little known in France and the USSR until the early 1990s.
This is the first sustained study of the Russian émigré theologians and other intellectuals in Paris who were associated with The Way and of their writings in the journal. Although there have been studies of individual members of that group, this book places the entire generation in a broad historical and intellectual context. Antoine Arjakovsky provides assessments of leading religious figures such as Berdyaev, Bulgakov, Florovsky, Nicholas and Vladimir Lossky, Mother Maria Skobtsova, and Afanasiev, and compares and contrasts their philosophical agreements and conflicts in the pages of The Way. He examines their intense commitment to freedom, their often contentious struggles to bring the Christian tradition as experienced in the Eastern Church into conversation with Christians of the West, and their distinctive contributions to Western theology and ecumenism from the perspective of their Russian Orthodox experience. He also traces the influence of these extraordinary intellectuals in present-day Russia, Western Europe, and the United States.
I've been reading Arjakovsky and corresponding with him off-and-on for several years now. I have long been an admirer of his scholarship for its gracefulness, its openness, and its refusal to reduce Orthodoxy to an ideology with which to club those who differ--something I see too much of. Arjakovsky is an admirable figure not only as a scholar, but also for his work as founding director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. Those who are aware of post-1991 relations between Russian Orthodox (which is Arjakovsky's tradition) Christians and Ukrainian Catholic Christians will know how remarkable a thing that is. Having left there recently, he currently teaches and works at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris.

My debts to Antoine are considerable. In fact, one of the very first things I posted on this blog when I started in 2010 was a discussion of his book Church, Culture, and Identity. Then, just over two years ago, I had a long discussion about his book on the much-promised "great and holy council" of Orthodoxy. Now at last we have in English his book The Way: Religious Thinkers of the Russian Emigration in Paris and Their Journal, 1925-1940, which tells a crucial chapter in Russian religious history, and so I was glad to have the chance to interview him about this latest book--which began many years ago as his doctoral dissertation. We conducted the interview in French. Perhaps if time allows over the holidays I might work on a translation.

AD: Parlez-nous de votre parcours.

AA: Le fait que mes grands-parents aient fréquenté de près les grandes figures de l’Ecole de Paris a déterminé non seulement mon identité franco-russe et chrétienne orthodoxe mais aussi mon questionnement historique. Ma grand-mère était l’assistante de Nicolas Berdiaev le directeur des éditions YMCA Press à Paris, et mon grand-père était un élève du père Serge Boulgakov à l’Institut saint Serge. J’ai su très jeune que le renouveau philosophique et théologique de l’Ecole de Paris ne concernait pas uniquement l’Eglise Orthodoxe, il s’adresse encore aujourd’hui à tous les intellectuels de bonne volonté. En effet la philosophie personnaliste de Berdiaev n’a pas été entendue en son temps et le renouveau sophiologique de la théologie dogmatique a subi des attaques violentes des courants pro-communistes et pro-monarchistes. Ma découverte que les intellectuels chrétiens orthodoxes mais aussi occidentaux étaient passé à côté de cet héritage, ainsi que ma propre expérience de la Russie et de l’Ukraine où j’ai travaillé entre 1989 et 1998 (comme directeur du Collège universitaire Français de Moscou notamment) et de l’Ukraine entre 1998 et 2011 (comme directeur de l’Institut d’études œcuméniques de Lviv à partir de 2004), m’ont convaincu qu’il fallait présenter de façon compréhensible aujourd’hui les principales caractéristiques de la génération des penseurs religieux de l’émigration russe. J’ai donc soutenu à l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales une thèse de doctorat sur le thème de la revue La Voie (Pout’), principal organe entre 1925 et 1940 de cette Ecole de Paris. Après avoir publié mon livre en russe et en français je suis heureux que ma recherche paraisse enfin en anglais grâce à Notre Dame University Press, au travail éditorial extraordinaire de Michael Plekon et de John Jillions, et de l’excellente traduction de Jerry Ryan. La préface de Mgr Rowan Williams représente pour moi un très grand honneur.

AD: Pourquoi avez-vous écrit ce livre?

Il fallait répondre à plusieurs séries de questions. Pourquoi la mémoire collective a retenu la notion d’Ecole de Paris, alors qu’on trouve tellement de courants différents en son sein? Qu’est-ce qui les unissait au-delà de leurs divergences ? Y-a-t-il une solution de continuité entre la tradition chrétienne orthodoxe et les innovations philosophiques, dogmatiques ou encore historiques apparues dans l’entre-deux guerres ? Peut-on comprendre la crise actuelle de la conciliarité orthodoxe à partir des ruptures théologico-politiques apparues dans l’Eglise russe en 1921 et en 1930 ? Et encore, pourquoi leur pensée a-t-elle si peu été entendue aujourd’hui par les intellectuels européens ? Cela fut-il toujours le cas ? En quoi consiste la rencontre conflictuelle entre la pensée chrétienne orthodoxe et la modernité ?

AD: Parlez-nous de la méthodologie unique dans votre livre

Pour tenter de répondre à toutes ces questions il fallait adopter une méthode historique sérieuse. Ayant suivi le séminaire de Pierre Nora à l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales j’ai choisi de m’appuyer sur l’approche des « lieux de mémoire ». Celle-ci consiste à marier le rapport symbolique qu’entretient la mémoire d’une génération sur elle-même avec son inscription historique dans le temps déterminée par un cadre très précis, à savoir en l’occurrence les 61 numéros de la revue La Voie. Cette méthode, associée également à la micro-histoire, m’a permis de mettre à jour les spécificités de la pensée et de la vie de chaque auteur de la revue tout en saisissant l’unité dynamique d’une génération intellectuelle à travers trois grandes périodes : le moment moderniste entre 1925 et 1930, le moment non-conformiste entre 1930 et 1935, enfin le moment spirituel entre 1935 et 1940.

AD: Expliquer l'importance de la mémoire dans votre méthode historique. 

On a tendance à confondre la mémoire et l’histoire. C’est ce sur quoi insiste Pierre Nora qui fut l’éditeur et l’ami de Michel Foucault. La mémoire se prend en général pour l’histoire car rares sont ceux qui disposent d’une vision du passé qui soit à la fois critique et pleinement conciliaire. Mais l’histoire a tendance de son côté à ignorer les mémoires particulières en faisant prévaloir systématiquement la causalité conceptuelle sur le chaos des jours et les récits particuliers. L’avantage de l’historiographie symboliste et générationnelle c’est qu’elle permet un équilibre entre l’histoire et la mémoire. Je consacre une bonne partie de mon introduction à enraciner ma recherche dans la continuité d’une tradition historiographique critique. Mais je ne suis pas naïf par rapport à elle. C’est la raison pour laquelle je consacre une bonne partie de ma conclusion et de ma postface à l’édition anglaise en situant ma recherche à la croisée de plusieurs traditions mémorielles non objectivées. L’histoire qui s’écrit peut rejoindre l’histoire qui se fait à cette seule condition de distinguer sans séparer la mémoire sapientielle de l’histoire logique. J’aime beaucoup la fresque de la chapelle Sixtine qui montre Dieu le Père créant l’histoire en se tournant vers la figure de la Sagesse.

AD: Parlez-nous des membres de « l'Ecole de Paris » et de leur importance.

Pour moi ils sont tous importants et insuffisamment connus. Car ce que j’ai découvert révèle l’émergence d’un « moment trinitaire » dans la pensée russe, d’où cette conviction qui nous reste en la mémoire que cette génération doit être saisie dans son ensemble comme Ecole de Paris. Chaque jugement, nous disent les penseurs russes depuis Florensky, est composé d’un sujet, d’un verbe, et d’un complément. Pour moi les penseurs personnalistes (comme Berdiaev, mais aussi mère Marie Skobtsoff ou plus tard Olivier Clément) insistent sur le sujet dans une filiation kantienne. Mais ils insistent tout autant sur la dimension inobjectivable du sujet, que sur sa définition possible comme personne créatrice. En effet en étant créé à l’image et à la ressemblance de Dieu l’homme dispose d’une liberté à la fois incréée (l’elevtheria, qui lui provient de son image céleste) et créée (antexousion, qui lui permet de tendre ou non vers son créateur). Les sophiologues sont ceux qui insistent sur la dimension ontologique de tout jugement, et donc sur le verbe. Le génie de Boulgakov (mais aussi de Paul Evdokimov ou plus tard John Milbank) est d’avoir repris la tradition patristique de la double nature de la Sagesse de Dieu créée et incréée. Mais il a posé les rapports entre l’une et l’autre ni sur le mode néo-platonicien de l’anima mundi, ni sur le seul mode apophatique de la tradition palamite, mais sur le mode scripturaire de la relation anthropo-cosmique entre la création et son Créateur. Enfin ceux que j’appelle les théocentristes privilégient dans leur pensée religieuse le troisième moment du jugement, la conscience de soi. C’est pourquoi ils insistent sur l’une des trois hypostases trinitaires, qu’il s’agisse de la figure du Père (Mgr Cassien Bezobrasoff, aujourd’hui le père Boris Bobrinskoy), du Fils (Georges Florovsky, aujourd’hui Mgr Jean Zizioulas) ou de l’Esprit Saint (Georges Fedotov, aujourd’hui Mgr Georges Khodr). Bien entendu la théologie après guerre s’est faite plus trinitaire qu’elle ne l’avait été dans les années 1930 mais elle garde toujours sa caractéristique commune qui est l’apophatisme, l’interdiction absolue d’objectivation de la vie trinitaire. Ces trois courants ont chacun leur importance et ils se complètent pour moi de façon remarquable. Le drame fut dans les années trente que les acteurs de ce renouveau intellectuel n’aient pas eu conscience de cette complémentarité. Comme je ne suis pas sûr que les penseurs orthodoxes l’ait bien intégrée aujourd’hui je fais le récit dans ce livre de sa lente émergence au XXe et au XXIe siècles.

AD: Expliquez brièvement l'importance de la revue Pout’

La revue Pout’, - ce n’est pas moi qui le dit mais les principaux historiens et slavistes du XXe siècle, de Marc Raeff à Alexandre Soljénytsine, et de Olivier Clément à Georges Nivat -, est la principale revue de la pensée russe au XXe siècle mais aussi de la pensée chrétienne orthodoxe. Elle a bénéficié d’une atmosphère de liberté unique dans l’histoire de la pensée russe jusqu’en 1989 puisque pour la première fois depuis la création de l’imprimerie celle-ci a pu s’exprimer sans la censure tsariste, ecclésiale ou soviétique. Elle a bénéficié aussi de ce fait extraordinaire de l’émigration russe qui a concentré dans le Quartier Latin à Paris la plus grande concentration de personnalités aussi exceptionnelles telles que Léon Chestov, Vladimir Lossky ou le père Nicolas Afanassiev. Mais la revue a su constituer un réseau mondial avec des intellectuels vivant aux Etats-Unis (S. Cavert), en Chine (T. Ku), en Allemagne (F. Lieb), et même en URSS (I. Setnitsky). Certains de ses auteurs sont devenus des saints tels que Ivan Lagovsky ou mère Marie Skobtsoff.  Ses lecteurs sont devenus également très célèbres comme Jean Meyendorff, Elisabeth Behr Sigel ou Alexandre Schmemann. Enfin pour la première fois depuis le concile de Florence cette revue a permis un dialogue en profondeur entre intellectuels d’Orient, tels que Nicolas Lossky, Vladmir Iljine, Serge Troubetskoi, Léon Zander, et d’Occident, tels que Jacques Maritain, Léon Gillet, Paul Tillich ou encore Paul Anderson.

AD: Vous écrivez à propos de l'engagement œcuménique de l'école de Paris. Certaines églises orthodoxes ont-elles perdu cet engagement aujourd'hui? Quels sont les spiritualités contradictoires vous discutez?

L’engagement œcuménique de l’Eglise Orthodoxe, qui a été affirmé en 1986 à Chambésy à l’occasion de l’une des conférences pré-conciliaires, trouve son origine dans les débats de la revue La Voie. En effet Serge Boulgakov fut l’un des membres fondateurs de Foi et Constitution. Georges Florovsky fut l’un des membres fondateurs du Conseil Œcuménique des Eglises. Léon Zander et Nicolas Zernov furent membres fondateurs du Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius. Nicolas Berdiaev fut l’un des premiers conférenciers du World Student Christian Federation et un ami proche de John Mott, président du YMCA. Le père Nicolas Afanassiev fut le seul auteur non catholique a être cité dans les documents préparatoires au concile Vatican II. Paul Evdokimov, qui était le secrétaire de l’Académie de philosophie religieuse fut le premier président en 1953 de Syndesmos, la fédération mondiale de la jeunesse orthodoxe, qui adopta dès son origine une orientation pro-oecuménique. On pourrait encore allonger la liste. Je discute dans l’ouvrage que j’ai publié en 2011, En attendant le concile de l’Eglise Orthodoxe (Paris, Cerf) de l’histoire de cet engagement œcuménique. Je montre en particulier que ce courant œcuménique au sein de l’Eglise Orthodoxe n’a pas suffisamment pris en compte depuis 60 ans les quatre courants principaux de la spiritualité orthodoxe : les zélotes, les prosélytes, les spirituels et les contestataires. L’avenir du mouvement œcuménique tient pour une bonne part dans la prise de conscience intra-confessionnelle que le travail d’unité consiste avant tout à réconcilier les quatre représentations de l’Eglise portées par chacun de ces types spirituels.

AD: Y a-t-il des successeurs de l'école de Paris aujourd'hui?

Oui bien sûr, surtout si on s’accorde avec ce que j’ai pu expliciter par la suite dans mon livre Le père Serge Boulgakov, philosophe et théologien chrétien (Parole et Silence, 2007). Si se confirme ma thèse que la pensée chrétienne dans son ensemble vit aujourd’hui un moment de réconciliation entre la foi et la raison, entre son Orient et son Occident, entre ses trois courants personnaliste, sophiologique et théocentriste, alors on peut citer certaines personnalités de premier plan qui émergent aux quatre coins du monde chrétien orthodoxe. Je pense à John Jillions et à Michael Plekon aux Etats-Unis, à Olga Sédakova en Russie, à Constantin Sigov en Ukraine, à Petros Vassiliadis et à Eleni Kasselouri en Grèce, au métropolite Joseph Pop pour la Roumanie, à Bertrand Vergely en France, mais il y aurait tant d’autres noms à citer…Et surtout tant d’autres noms à ajouter au-delà des frontières confessionnelles de l’orthodoxie. Je pense à Rowan Williams ou au pape François, à Peter Galadza ou à Bernard Sesboüé.

AD: Travaillez-vous sur un autre livre maintenant?

Je viens de terminer un livre sur lequel j’ai travaillé pendant plus de dix ans. Il s’appelle Qu’est-ce que l’orthodoxie ? Il a été publié chez Gallimard cette année. Ce livre a été traduit en langue anglaise par J. Ryan mais n’a toujours pas trouvé d’éditeur aux Etats-Unis…...Si mon travail sur la revue La Voie représentait comme le remboursement d’une dette par rapport à tout ce que j’ai reçu, ce nouveau livre est plus personnel. Il s’agit d’une redécouverte de la richesse sémantique de la foi-pensée orthodoxe. A partir des principaux historiens de l’Eglise, des évangélistes à Eusèbe de Césarée, de Cyrille de Jérusalem à Vassili Bolotov, je montre que « l’ortho-doxie » de la foi chrétienne est un lieu particulier de la pensée rationnelle, distinct de l’épistémologie, qui articule quatre pôles majeurs : la louange et la mémoire, la loi et la justice. Mais ici encore les acteurs historiques n’ont pas toujours eu conscience de la complémentarité de ces quatre pôles en tension. C’est la raison pour laquelle l’orthodoxie a été pensée successivement de façon paradigmatique comme « juste glorification » (entre le Ier et le IVe siècle), « vérité droite » (entre le IVe et le XVe siècle), et « mémoire fidèle » (du XVIe siècle à nos jours). Depuis 1945 émerge sous nos yeux le sens de « la connaissance juste », du « fair knowledge » qui unit à nouveau de façon indissociable pratiques et savoirs, et qui a toutes les chances de devenir paradigmatique à l’heure de la globalisation et de la montée en puissance des dialogues inter-religieux. Il s’agit donc d’une histoire post-confessionnelle de la foi orthodoxe qui bouleverse bien des idées reçues et ouvre de nouveaux horizons. A bien des égards cette vision rejoint je crois le travail que vous réalisez dans la revue Logos et sur votre blog, ce pour quoi je vous félicite !

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Muslims and Christians Worshiping Together?

I am always on the lookout for texts to help my students appreciate the messiness of the encounters between Muslims and Eastern Christians. Sometimes, of course, these encounters have been horrifically bloody and entailed enormous suffering for some Eastern Christians. At other times, however, the two traditions have been able to live alongside one another in relative peace for periods of varying length and for various reasons, even interacting liturgically and spiritually at each other's festivals and shrines. A recent book helps us appreciate some of these latter examples: Margaret Cormack, Muslims and Others in Sacred Space (Oxford University Press, 2012), 256pp.

About this book we are told:
This collection of seven essays offers wide-ranging and in-depth studies of locations sacred to Muslims, of the histories of these sites (real or imagined), and of the ways in which Muslims and members of other religions have interacted peaceably in sacred times and spaces. 
The volume begins with a discussion by David Damrel of the official, hostile, Muslim attitude toward practices at shrines in South Asia. Lance Laird then presents a case study of a shrine holy to Palestinian Christians, who identify its patron as St. George, as well as to Palestinian Muslims, who believe that its patron is al Khadr. Ethel Sara Wolper illustrates how al Khadr's patronage was used also to show Muslim connections to Christian sites in Anatolia, and JoAnn Gross's essay explores oral and written traditions linking shrines in Tajikistan to traditional Muslim locations and figures. A chapter by the late Thomas Sizgorich examines how Christian and Muslim authors used monastic settings to reimagine the relationship between the two religions, and Alexandra Cuffel offers a study of attitudes towards the mixing of religious groups in religious festivals in eleventh- to sixteenth-century Egypt. Finally, Eric Ross shows how the Layenne Sufi order incorporates a singular combination of Christian and Muslim figures and festivals in its history and practices. 
Muslims and Others in Sacred Space will be an invaluable resource to anyone interested in the complex meanings of sacred sites in Muslim history.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dostoevsky and the Affirmation of Life

Set for release in March of next year is a paperback version of a book first published in hardcover in 2012: Predrag Cicovacki, Dostoevsky and the Affirmation of Life (Transaction, 2014), 366pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Dostoevsky’s philosophy of life is unfolded in this searching analysis of his five greatest works: Notes from the Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed, and The Brothers Karamazov. Predrag Cicovacki deals with a fundamental issue in Dostoevsky’s opus neglected by all of his commentators: How can we affirm life and preserve a healthy optimism in the face of an increasingly troublesome reality? This work displays the vital significance of Dostoevsky’s philosophy for understanding the human condition in the twenty-first century.
The main task of this insightful effort is to reconstruct and examine Dostoevsky’s "aesthetically" motivated affirmation of life, based on cycles of transgression and restoration. If life has no meaning, as his central figures claim, it is absurd to affirm life and pointless to live. Since Dostoevsky’s doubts concerning the meaning of life resonate so deeply in our own age of pessimism and relativism, the central question of this book, whether Dostoevsky can overcome the skepticism of his most brilliant creation, is innately relevant.
This volume includes a thorough literary analysis of Dostoevsky’s texts, yet even those who have not read all of these novels will find Cicovacki’s analysis interesting and enthralling. The reader will easily extrapolate Cicovacki’s own philosophical interpretation of Dostoevsky’s literary heritage.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Constantinopolitan and Byzantine Architecture

The Orthodox liturgist Nicholas Denysenko of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles is at work on a project concerning Orthodox architecture, and this book, set for release in January, is one he will be reviewing for us in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies: Vasileios Marinis, Architecture and Ritual in the Churches of Constantinople: Ninth to Fifteenth Centuries (Cambridge University Press, 2014), 295pp.

About this book we are told:
This book examines the interchange of architecture and ritual in the Middle and Late Byzantine churches of Constantinople (ninth to fifteenth centuries). It employs archaeological and archival data, hagiographic and historical sources, liturgical texts and commentaries, and monastic typika and testaments to integrate the architecture of the medieval churches of Constantinople with liturgical and extra-liturgical practices and their continuously evolving social and cultural context. The book argues against the approach that has dominated Byzantine studies: that of functional determinism, the view that architectural form always follows liturgical function. Instead, proceeding chapter by chapter through the spaces of the Byzantine church, it investigates how architecture responded to the exigencies of the rituals, and how church spaces eventually acquired new uses. The church building is described in the context of the culture and people whose needs it was continually adapted to serve. Rather than viewing churches as frozen in time (usually the time when the last brick was laid), this study argues that they were social constructs and so were never finished, but continually evolving.

And then, in February, another book along similar lines: Nicholas Patricios, The Sacred Architecture of Byzantium: Art, Liturgy and Symbolism in Early Christian Churches (I.B. Tauris, 2014), 384pp.

About this latter book we are told:
The churches of the Byzantine era were built to represent heaven on earth. Architecture, art and liturgy were intertwined in them to a degree that has never been replicated elsewhere, and the symbolism of this relationship had deep and profound meanings. Sacred buildings and their spiritual art underpinned the Eastern liturgical rites, which in turn influenced architectural design and the decoration which accompanied it. Nicholas N. Patricios here offers a comprehensive survey, from the age of Constantine to the fall of Constantinople, of the nexus between buildings, worship and art. His identification of seven distinct Byzantine church types, based on a close analysis of 370 church building plans, will have considerable appeal to Byzantinists, lay and scholarly. Beyond categorizing and describing the churches themselves, which are richly illustrated with photographs, plans and diagrams, the author interprets the sacred liturgy that took place within these holy buildings, tracing the development of the worship in conjunction with architectural advances made up to the 15th century. Focusing on buildings located in twenty-two different locations, this sumptuous book is an essential guide to individual features such as the synthronon, templon and ambo and also to the wider significance of Byzantine art and architecture.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Just and Holy Wars?

I'm told that a new book, edited by Perry Hamalis and titled Orthodox Perspectives on War, was supposed to be published this fall by the University of Notre Dame Press. While searching for signs of this, none of which were forthcoming, I came across a recent related text that treats Eastern Christian realities in such places as Syria, the Byzantine Empire, and later the Ottoman Empire: Sohail H. Hashmi, ed., Just Wars, Holy Wars, and Jihads: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Encounters and Exchanges (Oxford UP, 2012), 456pp.

About this book we are told:
Just Wars, Holy Wars, and Jihads explores the development of ideas of morally justified or legitimate war in Western and Islamic civilizations. Historically, these ideas have been grouped under three labels: just war, holy war, and jihad. A large body of literature exists exploring the development of just war and holy war concepts in the West and of jihad in Islam. Yet, to date, no book has investigated in depth the historical interaction between Western notions of just or holy war and Muslim definitions of jihad. This book is a major contribution to the comparative study of the ethics of war and peace in the West and Islam. Its twenty chapters explore two broad questions:

1. What historical evidence exists that Christian and Jewish writers on just war and holy war and Muslim writers on jihad knew of the other tradition?

2. What is the evidence in treatises, chronicles, speeches, ballads, and other historical records, or in practice, that either tradition influenced the other?

The book surveys the period from the rise of Islam in the early seventh century to the present day. Part One surveys the impact of the early Islamic conquests upon Byzantine, Syriac, and Muslim thinking on justified war. Part Two probes developments during the Crusades. Part Three focuses on the early modern period in Europe and the Ottoman Empire, followed by analysis of the era of European imperialism in Part Four. Part Five brings the discussion into the present period, with chapters analyzing the impact of international law and terrorism on conceptions of just war and jihad.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Georges Florovsky and the Problems of History

Given, as I've argued on here several times, that too much of the East-West divide seems to turn on bad history, I am greatly looking forward to seeing in print next spring this book by the Orthodox theologian Paul Gavrilyuk: Georges Florovsky and the Russian Religious Renaissance (Oxford University Press, 2014), 336pp.

This book, the publisher tells us, does several things. Inter alia, it:
  • Offers an accessible introduction to the thought of Georges Florovsky 
  • Presents a new interpretation of twentieth-century Orthodox theology that revises the standard narrative of Russian émigré theology 
  • Contextualizes Florovsky's neopatristic theology through analysis of different currents of the Paris school of Orthodox theology 
  • Discusses little known aspects of Florovsky's biography Draws on unpublished works and correspondence 

Moreover, the publisher says:
Georges Florovsky is the mastermind of a 'return to the Church Fathers' in twentieth-century Orthodox theology. His theological vision-the neopatristic synthesis-became the main paradigm of Orthodox theology and the golden standard of Eastern Orthodox identity in the West. Focusing on Florovsky's European period (1920-1948), this study analyses how Florovsky's evolving interpretation of Russian religious thought, particularly Vladimir Solovyov and Sergius Bulgakov, informed his approach to patristic sources. Paul Gavrilyuk offers a new reading of Florovsky's neopatristic theology, by closely considering its ontological, epistemological and ecclesiological foundations. It is common to contrast Florovsky's neopatristic theology with the 'modernist' religious philosophies of Pavel Florensky, Sergius Bulgakov, and other representatives of the Russian Religious Renaissance. Gavrilyuk argues that the standard narrative of twentieth-century Orthodox theology, based on this polarization, must be reconsidered. The author demonstrates Florovsky's critical appropriation of the main themes of the Russian Religious Renaissance, including theological antinomies, the meaning of history, and the nature of personhood. The distinctive features of Florovsky's neopatristic theology—Christological focus, 'ecclesial experience', personalism, and 'Christian Hellenism'—are best understood against the background of the main problematic of the Renaissance. Specifically, it is shown that Bulgakov's sophiology provided a polemical subtext for Florovsky's theology of creation. It is argued that the use of the patristic norm in application to modern Russian theology represents Florovsky's theological signature. Drawing on unpublished archival material and correspondence, this study sheds new light on such aspects of Florovsky's career as his family background, his participation in the Eurasian movement, his dissertation on Alexander Herzen, his lectures on Vladimir Solovyov, and his involvement in Bulgakov's Brotherhood of St Sophia.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Symeon the Theologian's Vita

Dumbarton Oaks continues to publish some of the most impressive scholarship in the diverse fields of Byzantine studies, including theology. A recent offering is actually a new translation of a very old vita:  Niketas Stethatos, The Life of Saint Symeon the New Theologian (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library), R.P. H.Greenfield, trans. (Harvard University Press, 2013), 448pp.

About this book we are told:
The Byzantine mystic, writer, and monastic leader Symeon the New Theologian is considered a saint by the Orthodox Church. The Life was written more than 30 years after his death by Symeon’s disciple and apologist Niketas Stethatos. This translation, based on an authoritative Greek edition, makes it accessible to English readers for the first time.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Concise Encyclopedia of Orthodox Christianity

Almost three years ago when it first emerged, I spent considerable time reviewing the two-volume hardcover version of the Encyclopedia of Orthodox Christianity edited by John McGuckin, whom I interviewed here. I noted that this was a major reference work that deserved a place in serious research libraries. Those of you who may rightly have wanted a copy for your own personal library may have understandably found the price a bit steep. Well, happily, in January the publisher is bringing out a very affordable paperback version, so now there really is no excuse for you not to get a copy of The Concise Encyclopedia of Orthodox Christianity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014), 592pp.

About this book we are told that it is:
Based on the acclaimed two-volume Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity (Wiley Blackwell, 2011), and now  available for students, faculty, and clergy in a concise single-volume format
  • An outstanding reference work providing an accessible English language account of the key historical, liturgical, doctrinal features of Eastern Orthodoxy, including the Non-Chalcedonian churches
  • Explores the major traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy in detail, including the Armenian, Byzantine, Coptic, Ethiopic, Slavic, Romanian, Syriac churches
  • Uniquely comprehensive, it is edited by one of the leading scholars in the field and provides authoritative articles by a team of leading international academics and Orthodox figures
  • Spans the period from Late Antiquity to the present, encompassing subjects including history, theology, liturgy, monasticism, sacramentology, canon law, philosophy, folk culture, architecture, archaeology, martyrology, and hagiography
  • Structured alphabetically and is topically cross-indexed, with entries ranging from 100 to 6,000 words

Monday, December 9, 2013

Children and Grandchildren of the Armenian Genocide and Other Atrocities

Transactions Publishers recently sent me their 2014 catalogue and in there we find several books of interest for release next year beginning, in February, with Samuel Totten, ed., Plight and Fate of Children During and Following Genocide (Transaction, 2014), 225pp. Totten is the author of numerous other studies on genocide. This particular book looks at several genocides, including the Armenian, as the publisher notes in this blurb:

Plight and Fate of Children During and Following Genocide examines why and how children were mistreated during genocides in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Among the cases examined are the Australian Aboriginals, the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, the Mayans in Guatemala, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, and the genocide in Darfur. Two additional chapters examine the issues of sexual and gender-based violence against children and the phenomenon of child soldiers.
Following an introduction by Samuel Totten, the essays include: "Australia’s Aboriginal Children"; "Hell is for Children"; "Children: The Most Vulnerable Victims of the Armenian Genocide"; "Children and the Holocaust"; "The Fate of Mentally and Physically Disabled Children in Nazi Germany"; "The Plight and Fate of Children vis-à-vis the Guatemalan Genocide"; "The Plight of Children During and Following the 1994 Rwandan Genocide"; "Darfur Genocide"; "Sexual and Gender-Based Violence against Children during Genocide"; and, "Child Soldiers." Contributors include: Colin Tatz, Henry C. Theriault, Asya Darbinyan, Rubina Peroomian, Jeffrey Blutinger, Amanda Grzyb, Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, Sara Demir, Hannibal Travis, and Samuel Totten.
The editor and several of the contributors have personally investigated and witnessed the aftermath of genocidal campaigns.
And then, next summer, on a similar but more tightly focused theme we have a book co-authored by two Turkey-based scholars, Ayşe Gül Altınay and Fethiye  Çetin, The Grandchildren: The Hidden Legacy of 'Lost' Armenians in Turkey,trans. Maureen Freely  (Transaction, July 2014), 215pp.

About this book we are told:
The Grandchildren is a collection of intimate, harrowing testimonies by grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Turkey’s "forgotten Armenians"—the orphans adopted and Islamized by Muslims after the Armenian genocide. Through them we learn of the tortuous routes by which they came to terms with the painful stories of their grandparents and their own identity. The postscript offers a historical overview of the silence about Islamized Armenians in most histories of the genocide.
When Fethiye Çetin first published her groundbreaking memoir in Turkey, My Grandmother, she spoke of her grandmother’s hidden Armenian identity. The book sparked a conversation among Turks about the fate of the Ottoman Armenians in Anatolia in 1915. This resulted in an explosion of debate on Islamized Armenians and their legacy in contemporary Muslim families.
The Grandchildren (translated from Turkish) is a follow-up to My Grandmother, and is an important contribution to understanding survival during atrocity. As witnesses to a dark chapter of history, the grandchildren of these survivors cast new light on the workings of memory in coming to terms with difficult pasts.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Orthodox Constructions of the West: II

When we last met, we heard from one of the contributors to the collection Orthodox Constructions of the West on the question of primacy in Orthodox ecclesiology. Let us now proceed back to the beginning of the book and the introduction and opening historical essays, all of which are, alone, worth the price of the book. As I noted in my first comments, this is an invaluable book that deserves the widest possible audience.

The editors provide the introduction, noting that it is not designed to be a comprehensive re-telling of the history of relations between East and West. Nevertheless, they do set forth an expansive and carefully considered narrative which goes some considerable distance toward "clearing the swamp" (Stanley Hauerwas) of received notions. (Many of the shibboleths people repeat in the dolorous narrative of East-West division are manifestly of recent vintage, and many issues we today commonly insist are paramount were of little concern to our forebears.) But more than that, the editors set forth the vision of this volume, and of the conference that preceded it, noting that "the categories of East and West are always fluid, always multiform, and almost always projections of an imagined difference" (2; my emphasis). This emphasis on an imagined difference is a leitmotif in many of the essays that follow.

Robert Taft's essay is vintage Taft. Much of it will, of course, be very familiar to those who read Taft. Parts of this paper, in fact, were used in another paper of his at the Orientale Lumen conference in 2011 when I was on a panel with him and others, including Sr. Vassa Larin of ROCOR; and Met. Kallistos Ware, the retired Greek Orthodox theologian from Oxford. Taft's opening is worth quoting in extenso because it sums up perfectly my own views of, approach towards, and love for the Orthodox Christian East:
I consider the Orthodox Churches the historic apostolic Christianity of the East and sister churches of the Catholic Church;...I recognize and rejoice in the fact that Orthodox peoples remain Orthodox; the Catholic Church should support and collaborate with the Orthodox Churches in every way, foster the most cordial relations with them, earnestly work to restore communion with them, recognize their legitimate interests especially on their home ground, avoid all proselytism among their flocks there or elsewhere, not seek in any way to undercut them, nor rejoice in or exploit their weaknesses, nor fish in their pond, nor seek to convert their faithful to the Catholic Church.
After this, Taft notes that it's important to begin with self-criticism, and so he goes into some detail about how his own Jesuit predecessors badly mangled relations with the Christian East in places such as India, Ethiopia, and Eastern Europe, especially, of course, what is today known as Ukraine. This latter brings to mind the controverted history of "Uniatism," about which Taft is as blunt and detailed here as in the rest of the essay.

Having criticized the Catholic Church in unsparing terms, Taft then lists a number of areas where we are still waiting for more honest self-criticism and -assessment from the Orthodox. By laying out the facts, Taft shows how, e.g., the idea that no Orthodox country ever used the power of the state to compel non-Orthodox to believe is revealed to be without foundation--both in the early Byzantine period (cf. the fate of the Copts or Armenians) and later as under, e.g., the Russian tsars. The idea that the residents of Constantinople in 1204 were as pure and innocent as the driven snow, and thus complete victims of the Fourth Crusade, conveniently overlooks the fact of a pogrom against the Latins in the city organized and murderously carried out by the Greeks in 1182. Orthodox treatment of Greek Catholics in Romania and Ukraine in the immediate post-war period of the 1940s is another area where frank admission is still wanting. The point of this list (and other many examples Taft provides) is not to engage in a tit-for-tat--what Taft memorably in 2011 called the "my hands are cleaner than yours" approach to history; but simply to show that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of our romanticized pasts.

Taft's essay is followed by two others, equally historically impressive in different ways though less widely focused. The historian Tia Kolbaba, author of such important studies (which I had expertly reviewed in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies) as Inventing Latin Heretics: Byzantines and the Filioque in the Ninth Century and The Byzantine Lists: ERRORS OF THE LATINS, draws on her historical expertise to treat relations between Byzantines, Armenians, and Latins on the question of whether to use yeast in the eucharistic bread, a controversy she traces to the tenth century. This is a fascinating essay in which she reveals that the common problem of the time was an inability to conceive of difference that was not seen as "heretical," a term which, she notes, still needs further historical elaboration and differentiation  in the Byzantine period.

Kolbaba's essay is followed by "Light from the West: Byzantine Readings of Aquinas" by Marcus Plested, who has, of course, recently published an entire book on Orthodoxy and Aquinas, which I discussed here while interviewing the author here. In the next installment, we'll look at what Plested unearths here, and a few of the other essays that follow. To be continued. 
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