"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).

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Studies of Ukraine

As the flashpoint of the encounter between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic worlds, Ukraine--so the popular impression often runs--very often lives up to its very name of "borderland," that is, to a place of never-ending conflict. But several new and forthcoming studies challenge this perception from a variety of angles. The first and most wide-ranging of these is a collection edited by Giovanna Brogi Bercoff, Marko Pavlyshyn, and Serhii Plokhy: Ukraine and Europe: Cultural Encounters and Negotiations (University of Toronto Press, 2017), 496pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Ukraine and Europe challenges the popular perception of Ukraine as a country torn between Europe and the east. Twenty-two scholars from Europe, North America, and Australia explore the complexities of Ukraine’s relationship with Europe and its role the continent’s historical and cultural development.
Encompassing literary studies, history, linguistics, and art history, the essays in this volume illuminate the interethnic, interlingual, intercultural, and international relationships that Ukraine has participated in. The volume is divided chronologically into three parts: the early modern era, the 19th and 20th century, and the Soviet/post-Soviet period. Ukraine in Europe offers new and innovative interpretations of historical and cultural moments while establishing a historical perspective for the pro-European sentiments that have arisen in Ukraine following the Euromaidan protests.
The second, just released this month, is a collection that reminds us of the deep if messy roots of a very particular encounter: that between Christians and Jews in Ukraine, which has often been controverted though there is considerable evidence that it was also much better in parts of Ukraine than in other parts of Europe from the 19th century through to the First World War. A just-released study, from the widely respected historian Paul Robert Magocsi (author of many studies of the "Carpathian peoples," as it were--Rusyns, Ukrainians, and Galicians) together with Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern, sheds fresh light on the complexities of these relations: Jews and Ukrainians: A Millennium of Co-Existence (University of Toronto Press, 2016), 320pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
There is much that ordinary Ukrainians do not know about Jews and that ordinary Jews do not know about Ukrainians. As a result, those Jews and Ukrainians who may care about their respective ancestral heritages usually view each other through distorted stereotypes, misperceptions, and biases. This book sheds new light on highly controversial moments of Ukrainian-Jewish relations and argues that the historical experience in Ukraine not only divided ethnic Ukrainians and Jews but also brought them together.
The story of Jews and Ukrainians is presented in an impartial manner through twelve thematic chapters. Among the themes discussed are geography, history, economic life, traditional culture, religion, language and publications, literature and theater, architecture and art, music, the diaspora, and contemporary Ukraine. The book’s easy-to-read narrative is enhanced by 335 full-color illustrations, 29 maps, and several text inserts that explain specific phenomena or address controversial issues. Jews and Ukrainians provides a wealth of information for anyone interested in learning more about the fascinating land of Ukraine and two of its most historically significant peoples.
The University of Toronto Press, the largest academic press in Canada, maintains a lively list of books devoted to Ukrainian studies in part because the Ukrainian immigration into Canada over the last dozen decades or more has been very large indeed, and there are a number of endowed chairs in Ukrainian history and culture at several Canadian universities. So the U of T Press is also issuing, in addition to the above, four other new studies, including Rhonda Hinther's study, Perogies and Politics: Canada's Ukrainian Left 1891-1991 (U of T Press, 2017), 304pp.

In this continued centenary period of the First World War (I write this on the 100th anniversary of the death of the Habsburg Emperor Franz Josef), a forthcoming study looks at Ukraine's role in the conclusion of that conflict: Borislav Chernev, Twilight of Empire: The Brest-Litovsk Conference and the Remaking of East-Central Europe, 1917–1918 (U of T Press, 2017), 304pp.
Twilight of Empire is the first book in English to examine the Brest-Litovsk Peace Conference during the later stages of World War I with the use of extensive archival sources. Two separate peace treaties were signed at Brest-Litovsk – the first between the Central Powers and Ukraine and the second between the Central Powers and Bolshevik Russia.
Borislav Chernev, through an insightful and in-depth analysis of primary sources and archival material, argues that although its duration was short lived, the Brest-Litovsk settlement significantly affected the post-Imperial transformation of East Central Europe. The conference became a focal point for the interrelated processes of peacemaking, revolution, imperial collapse, and nation-state creation in the multi-ethnic, entangled spaces of East Central Europe. Chernev’s analysis expands beyond the traditional focus on the German-Russian relationship, paying special attention to the policies of Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Ukraine. The transformations initiated by the Brest-Litovsk conferences ushered in the twilight of empire as the Habsburg, Hohenzollern, and Ottoman Empires all shared the fate of their Romanov counterpart at the end of World War I.
Finally, two further forthcoming studies both look at the aftermath of the Great War and the rise of the Soviet Union: first, Zbigniew Wojnowski, The Near Abroad: Socialist Eastern Europe and Soviet Patriotism in Ukraine, 1956-1985 (U of T Press, 2017), 304pp.

And second: Beau Monde on Empire’s Edge: State and Stage in Soviet Ukraine 1st Edition by Mayhill Fowler (U of T, 2017), 264pp.

The East Roman Collapse and Islamic Conquest

As I have noted many times, including in a recent discussion about new books on Muslims and Christians in Syria, the history of those initial encounters remains quite complex, as does the process by which, gradually and haltingly, each began to define itself vis-á-vis the other. There is still much about this history and those encounters that we are learning, and a recent study sheds further light here: Olof Heilo, Eastern Rome and the Rise of Islam: History and Prophecy (Routledge, 2015), 162pp.

About this book we are told:
The emergence of Islam in the seventh century AD still polarises scholars who seek to separate religious truth from the historical reality with which it is associated. However, history and prophecy are not solely defined by positive evidence or apocalyptic truth, but by human subjects, who consider them to convey distinct messages and in turn make these messages meaningful to others. These messages are mutually interdependent, and analysed together provide new insights into history.
It is by way of this concept that Olof Heilo presents the decline of the Eastern Roman Empire as a key to understanding the rise of Islam; two historical processes often perceived as distinct from one another. Eastern Rome and the Rise of Islam highlights significant convergences between Early Islam and the Late Ancient world. It suggests that Islam’s rise is a feature of a common process during which tensions between imperial ambitions and apocalyptic beliefs in Europe and the Middle East cut straight across today’s theological and political definitions. The conquests of Islam, the emergence of the caliphate, and the transformation of the Roman and Christian world are approached from both prophetic anticipations in the Ancient and Late Ancient world, and from the Medieval and Modern receptions of history. In the shadow of their narratives it becomes possible to trace the outline of a shared history of Christianity and Islam. The "Dark Ages" thus emerge not merely as a tale of sound and fury, but as an era of openness, diversity and unexpected possibilities.
Approaching the rise of Islam as a historical phenomenon, this book opens new perspectives in the study of early religion and philosophy, as well as providing a valuable resource for students and scholars of Islamic Studies.

Friday, November 25, 2016

2016: A Look Back, With Christmas Recommendations

As I've done on here for previous years, so let me now offer a look back at some of the significant books of 2016 in case you are looking for Christmas gift ideas for the bibliophile in either your own soul or your family and friends. My list from 2015 is here, the one for 2014 here, and the one for 2013, with links to years before that, is here.

None of these lists, it should go without saying, is anything like exhaustive. The rate at which new publications pour forth each year is little short of diluvial, and this blog is just a small canal containing and trying to observe, and sometimes comment on, only some of that enormous outflow. You are welcome to paddle around here until your heart's content, navigating via the tags and labels on the side, reviewing past years' lists, or whatever method suits your fancy.

Let us begin with a study of Christmas itself, and our sometimes complicated relationship to this season, reactions to which among Christians and others vary from robust rejoicing to puritanical sloganeering about "Jesus is the reason for the season": Christmas as Religion: the Relationship between Sacred and Secular by Christopher Deacy (Oxford UP, 2016), 256pp.

Ecclesiology and Ecumenism:

Let's start with everybody's favourite topic in the Orthodox world--ecclesiology and ecumenism. (All together now: "Ecumenism is the pan-heresy!") 2016 was, of course, the year of the long-expected "Great and Holy Council," which finally met in Crete in June.

A new collection, looking at some of the past councils considered ecumenical, was released just before Crete. That was noted here, along with an interview of its editor.

I had begun the year looking at whether Crete would be held, and noting some other books on past councils I often recommend to my students. See some of those recommendations here.

In preparation for Crete, I was asked to contribute a chapter to a book edited by a man singularly involved in Crete, John Chryssavgis. That two-volume collection was published this year by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press as Primacy in the Church. I gave the details of it here.

Evangelical and Orthodox missionary co-operation came in for study in a new book noted here.

A rarely attempted philosophical engagement with the Christology of the ecumenical councils was noted here.

My dear friend, the Orthodox theologian Will Cohen, published his important and very learned study, The Concept of ""Sister Churches"" in Catholic-Orthodox Relations since Vatican II. If you go here, you can read my interview with him about his fascinating life and new book.

In the Catholic world recently, discussions of synodal and papal authority have really been "hotted up" in the aftermath of the two synods on the family and the resulting post-synodal exhortation published by the pope of Rome. That document, in turn, has spawned renewed interest in questions of papal authority and infallibility, which I treated here with a very long discussion of many books from Catholic and Orthodox authors alike.

Inspired by re-reading Adrian Fortescue's bracing polemics on the papacy, and drawing on such as Sergius Bulgakov, I noted some thoughts here on the vexed question of why Pope Pius IX felt entitled to go ahead with a unilateral dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception.

I also noted here some early thoughts on the forthcoming publication of what is sure to be a landmark work by A. Edward Siecienski, The Papacy and the Orthodox (Oxford UP, 2017), 528pp. Though official publication is listed as early February, you can order an advance copy now on Amazon.

On the Remembering and Forgetting of (Crusades and Other) History:

2016 will go down as the year in which the widely respected doyen of Crusades scholars, Jonathan Riley-Smith of the University of Cambridge, died. I posted a partial necrology here, discussing some of his many influential books and articles, any and all of which are more than worth your time and should be required reading by everyone before ever again opening a discussion about these most controverted of events.

For a recent study on Arab views of the Crusades, see this book.

For a note on the 25th anniversary edition of a landmark book that has done much to shape discussions of the uses and abuses of the past, go here to read more about David Lowenthal's The Past is a Foreign Country.

For more than a year now, I have been working on the historiographical problem of the Crusades, especially as it appears in ISIS propaganda. I noted a new collection here that treats these issues somewhat. Edited by Megan Cassidy-Welch, Remembering the Crusades and Crusading (Routledge, 2016) is one of several such recent studies to focus on the complex problems of historical "memory."

Much of what I am especially interested in when it comes to the Crusades is the nakedly political and highly tendentious process by which we "remember" but also and especially the untapped potential of deliberate "forgetting."  On this latter topic, 2016 has been an especially rich year, and I discussed many studies on here, beginning with David Rieff's very valuable essay, In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and Its Ironies. This provocative and stimulating study occasioned a series of reflections, beginning here.

Another book of similar size, thrust, and importance is Manuel Cruz, On the Difficulty of Living Together: Memory, Politics, and History. I discussed it here in some detail, and then used it as the basis elsewhere for an essay reflecting on the Cretan council and Orthodoxy's problems with history.

I have noted numerous other studies on forgetting, including those discussed here; another, arising out of a post-revolutionary French context, here; and then discussed still others here and here.

On the temptation to "invent" and "imagine" a useful liturgical past, see this important collection.

Byzantine History:

Though often derided as having produced little that is culturally useful, you should go here for a recent book on the intellectual methods and influences of 12th-century Byzantium across Europe.

On the transformations of Egypt from a Byzantine to Islamic nature, see here.

For other similar transformations across the rest of North Africa, see this study.

For the always-shifting line between sanity and sanctity, as in the holy fools of Byzantium, see here. For the holy fools in cinema, see here.

For mosaics in Middle Byzantium, go here.
For a Byzantine monastic office, see the new book noted here.

Ottoman History:

I noted the changing role of the Sultan in the late Ottoman period here.

For an answer to the ISIS-inspired questions Which Caliph? Whose Caliphate, see here.

For a new study of a little-known genocide committed at the very end of the Ottoman Empire, that against Assyrian Christians, see here.

For a new study of the attempted recovery of Armenia after the 1915 genocide against them by the Ottoman Empire, see this new study.

See my review here of Eugene Rogan's splendid and deeply fascinating book The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East.

The fate of converts and apostates in the late Ottoman period was examined in this new study.

Greek Orthodox musical culture in late Ottoman Istanbul was studied in a book noted here.

The Ottomans, of course, were not the only empire to fall as a result of the Great War. So too did the Habsburgs, whose history has been told in a new study noted here.


Though Christians, both East and West, have for a long time been not entirely unjustly wary of certain strands of psychoanalytic thought, there is much within this broad tradition worthy of respect and engagement. For several reasons, this was the year that I returned to a re-engagement with psychoanalytic thought, which I had studied in the 1990s as an undergraduate psychology student who came very close to undertaking analytic training himself.

So this year I began a multi-part series this year "The Mind of Christ and a Psychoanalytic Mind," noting several books along the way, including this one by Peter Tyler, one of several recent studies attempting to reconsider the sometimes fraught relationship between theology and psychoanalysis.

But my multi-part series was really inspired by Fred Busch's fascinating and deeply suggestive book, Creating a Psychoanalytic Mind: A Psychoanalytic Method and Theory. I spent some time suggesting ways in which this approach might be useful to spiritual directors.

Another, rather less successful, collection of essays on theology and psychoanalysis was reviewed here.

The late Donald Spence wrote a disturbing study on the relationship, and often antagonism, between what he called historical truth and narrative truth. I briefly discussed it here.

I spent a little bit of time here discussing a new book examining the healing power of ritual, which Christians have of course long known, but psychotherapists have too little recognized--until now.

For more on the uses of psychoanalytic categories for treating fundamentalism, apocalypticism, and religiously inspired violence, as with ISIS (discussed above), see this recent collection here, noting especially the fascinating work of Vamik Volkan, including his Bloodlines: From Ethnic Pride To Ethnic Terrorism

I am going to continue to read more of Volkam in 2017, and use him in a new class I am teaching this spring. In particular, his pioneering work on the ideas of "chosen trauma" and "chosen glory" goes a long ways to helping understand parts of Eastern Christian history (e.g., Serbian relations with Islam after the infamous Battle of Kosovo) as well as contemporary ISIS uses and abuses of "Crusades" history.

There are, I am finding, certain books one perhaps rather insouciantly picks up, not expecting much, only to find that they stay with one a very long time, weaving in and out of one's thinking in a variety of ways and on a variety of topics. One such book for me this year was the deeply fascinating and provocative book by the English literary scholar and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived LifeI very much warmly commend this book to you; it has wisdom for us all.

I attempted to suggest, in an Evagrian spirit, that much of what Philips advocates could easily be understood in apophatic categories common to Evagrius, Ps-Dionysius, and much of the Eastern tradition as a whole.  This book has continued to haunt me this year, and I fully expect to be drawing on it in a variety of ways, and towards a variety of ends, in the years ahead--much as I have done with Erich Fromm (see below), whom I first read in the 1990s.
Door to Freud's Office
(author's photo)

For further thoughts on the widespread influence of psychoanalysis, see some thoughts here based on reading I did in preparation for a trip I took to Vienna, which included a pilgrimage to the famous Bergasse 19, home of our father among the saints Prof. Dr. S. Freud.

For a new autobiographical memoir by Julia Kristeva on her marriage, go here. Early in the year I wrote a rather diffuse essay on Kristeva, the European refugee crisis, Orthodox nationalism, and psychoanalysis. You can check that out here.

On the value of returning to books one read in one's 20s, see here for some brief thoughts on returning to the hugely influential Erich Fromm, including a new biography about him.


On biographers, biographies, and the challenges faced by the former in writing the latter, I noted some overarching thoughts here.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh has been studied in a new biography, which I noted here along with some comments on earlier studies of the man.

Alexander Men has been studied in a new biography noted here.

2016 was the 50th anniversary of the death of the greatest Catholic novelist of the last century, Evelyn Waugh. I discussed his biography, and his life's work, in several places, including here and with greater detail here. See here for some reflections on his mocking of certain Eastern Christian pieties around the emperor Constantine in his hilarious novel Helena

John Chryssavgis, mentioned above in reference to the Cretan council, is the author of an authorized biography of the Ecumenical Patriarch, noted here.

Going as I was in the spring to Vienna, I determined to read more about some of its most illustrious erstwhile residents, and so I noted here the lovely, lyrical, accessible biography of Mozart written by the great historian Peter Gay.

The Christian thinker of our time who has arguably done more than anybody to shape discussion about Christianity in the public square, especially an American public square, is the late priest Richard John Neuhaus, who has found a worthy biographer indeed in the splendid Randy Boyagoda, Richard John Neuhaus: A Life in the Public SquareI posted a long review of the book here.

Islamic Encounters with Eastern Christians:

Arabic conquests of historically Christian lands were noted here.

Two important new books on Syriac Christian encounters with Islam were noted here.


These remain a topic of perennial interest and fascination on the part of many, not just Eastern Christians. I noted two new books this year here and here.

I also noted a new interdisciplinary study here on images of deification.

And the theme of deification/divinization/theosis came up in an interview with Carl Olson, one of the editors of a wholly welcome and important new collection on this theme in a Catholic context, where it has sat uneasily for far too long. For that interview go here.

Author Interviews:

In addition to the interviews noted above, I would also draw your attention to three others I was happily able to do this year, beginning with my dear friend Michael Plekon, discussing his new book Uncommon Prayer: Prayer in Everyday Experience. You may read the interview here.

I was also very happy to be able to interview my prolific friend Nick Denysenko about his latest book on Orthodoxy and liturgical reforms. That interview is here.

Finally, Amir Azarvan put together a collection entitled Re-Introducing Christianity: An Eastern Apologia for a Western Audience. I interviewed him here about that.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Papal Infallibility and Authority (Updated)

More than four years ago, on a now-defunct blog, I was asked for some recommendations on books about papal infallibility, a topic so often grossly misunderstood even (perhaps especially) by Catholics themselves--most hilariously in the oafish character Rex Mottram in Brideshead Revisited. (Brideshead is, of course, the best-known novel of Evelyn Waugh, but here and here I discuss his other works in considerable detail.)

More recently, within the past few months, I have been repeatedly approached on Facebook and elsewhere by people asking for books about these matters. These requests are occurring in the context of heated discussions getting recently hotter over papal authority and the magisterial status of Amoris Laetitia, and the notion being bandied about rather carelessly of an errant pope being publicly corrected by some cardinals for what they regard as errors in that document. In such a context, it seems opportune to revisit some thoughts first posted on here in 2011, but with updates. Now is the time, perhaps more than ever before in Catholic history, to be extremely clear about the limits of papal authority, as I argued just over a year ago. (For more general thoughts on synodal authority, see here and here.) Now is the time, moreover, to be equally clear about appeals to "history" and to questions of historical "development," whether of doctrine or pastoral practice.

Just before getting into that, however, let me, as a footnote as it were, offer here a notice of a book I read almost 20 years ago, and found enormously valuable: The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning, by the philosophers Albert R. Jonsen and Stephen Toulmin. Some have suggested that what is happening in, and as a result of, Amoris Laetitia may be something of a revival of casuistry in Catholic moral theology, which Jonsen and Toulmin suggested was often unfairly criticized and unhelpfully thrown out by the twentieth century. In rubbishing casuistry, they suggest (and Stanley Hauerwas has echoed this), Catholic tradition lost some valuable tools for dealing with complex issues in, e.g., modern bioethics.

To the task at hand: A book that offers very sobering judgments in all three areas--historiography, development, and papal authority--is Francis Oakley's deeply disturbing The Conciliarist Tradition: Constitutionalism in the Catholic Church 1300-1870 (Oxford, 2008). This was the last time of open, and multiple, schisms in the Western Church over papal authority, and this massive crisis was resolved only by the controverted Council of Constance asserting itself over the three rival claimants to the papal throne and ultimately not just "correcting" them but in fact dismissing them all and proceeding with someone new, viz., Martin V.

In Oakley's judgment, which I share, Catholic tradition has never adequately dealt with this, and papal historiography especially so. The too-tidy narrative, and chronological list of popes one finds in, e.g., the Annuario Pontificio, conveniently trace all modern popes to Martin V, and rubbish the others as "anti-popes," which is bad enough, but it is the shameful way that Constance is treated, with its infamous decree Haec Sancta being so selectively treated, that must give one pause, as I argued here at some length.

Part of what Oakley shows is that the theories of papal infallibility and authority which triumphed at Vatican I were not the only ones on offer. Though often misunderstood, papal infallibility, as Vatican I claimed, is actually a very simple, very narrowly defined, "negative" charism not nearly so opposed to other Christian traditions, especially in the East, as some may think. See, e.g., the book by the Greek Orthodox hierarch and theologian, Stylianos Harkianakis, The Infallibility of the Church in Orthodox Theology (St. Andrew's Orthodox Press) (ATF Press, 2008). I reviewed the book for an academic journal in Europe (the newly revived One in Christ) and there remarked that this was a strange book whose publication more than a half-century after it first appeared in Greek as a doctoral dissertation was not explained. The author's foreword acknowledges this question, but offers an unconvincing rationale for ignoring decades of far-reaching scholarship: “the theme as such would not allow any serious alterations, at least in terms of Orthodox Ecclesiology.”

I grant the author’s point that not much recent work on Orthodox understandings of infallibility has been done; but so much work has been done on Orthodox ecclesiology (not least by the author’s compatriot, John Zizioulas—to say nothing of Christos Yannaras, and many, many others, some of whom are discussed here) that readers should know that this section of Harkianakis’s book is very outdated. The twentieth century was widely recognized as the "century of the Church" or the "century of ecclesiology," and this was true in Orthodox, Protestant, and Catholic circles so that to ignore fifty and more years of ecclesiological development is a massive omission.

Where the book is truly outdated is from the fourth chapter onward, but leaving that aside, let me stress that the first three chapters are still very valuable, offering as they do a lucid understanding of Orthodox understandings of the infallibility of the Church, defined thus: “that attribute of the Church which, by the power of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, safeguards the faith entrusted to it from all error, and at the same time rightly teaches the word of truth.” In his extensive reflections on infallibility, Harkianakis presents very little if anything that a Catholic, properly understanding what Pastor Aeternus says and means, could or should object to. 

Harkianakis's argues that infallibility “refers only to matters of faith and morality” (as Catholics would unhesitatingly agree), it only “covers these articles of teaching in themselves…but not the concrete form in which they appear” (as Catholics would agree), and it is “first and foremost understood negatively” (as Catholics would again readily agree), merely keeping doctrinal pronouncements free from error.

Where Catholics and Orthodox differ is in the manner in which infallibility is demonstrated or invoked. Harkianakis argues that it needs to be more clearly seen as an ecclesiological and pneumatological exercise of the episcopate as a whole and not the prerogative of one man. That is precisely the point that I made in my Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity.

It is at this point that Harkianakis argues forcefully that “if at any time the Church were to reject from its life, even for a moment, the idea of the synodical system, it would cease automatically to be a Church.” The synod, according to the author, “constitutes the instrument by which the voice of the Church is declared and is accordingly the instrument of infallibility of the Church.”

This emphasis on the centrality of synodality for the life of the Church has been made repeatedly and with greater force by Zizioulas, especially in his two essays delivered at symposia in Rome in 1997 and 2003 on the papacy. Those essays may be found in James Puglisi, ed., Petrine Ministry and the Unity of the Church and in Walter Kasper, ed., The Petrine Ministry: Catholics and Orthodox in Dialogue.

Synodality, as the Catholic world has been discovering for two years now, is messy. But councils are also messy, and what is condemned or accepted at one period may fall into desuetude in another or may come to be more widely accepted. All the panic in parts of the Catholic world just now over last year's synod, and this year's resulting document, seems to me at least partly misplaced, and continued harping on it can serve nobody well, least of all those who regard the exhortation as mistaken. The trick to papal history is, in part, to quietly ignore things and soon enough they will disappear.

Turning to more general studies, for those who are interested: Jean-M. Roger Tillard, The Bishop of Rome remains very influential. Tillard (on whom a recent study has been published: Communion, Diversity and Salvation: The Contribution of Jean-Marie Tillard to Systematic Ecclesiology,) in this book and in others, as well as numerous scholarly articles, stressed that part of the problem with Vatican I is that an inoffensive doctrinal declaration has often been given an offensive interpretation leading to still more offensive practice. As he put it, Pastor Aeternus has often been given an extreme ultramontane interpretation that the fathers of the council themselves clearly rejected. This has led to all kinds of problems, not least for Catholics themselves.

Other studies of note include the attempt by Peter Chirico to see if infallibility can be understood via the categories of modern philosophy: Infallibility: The Crossroads of Doctrine; and Richard Costigan, The Consensus Of The Church And Papal Infallibility: A Study In The Background Of Vatican I.

Francis Sullivan has written several important books treating magisterial authority and infallibility. These are good accessible introductions, including The Magisterium: Teaching Authority in the Catholic Church. See also his Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting Documents of the Magisterium.

Other general overviews may be found in the work of Richard Gaillardetz, including By What Authority?: A Primer on Scripture, the Magisterium, and the Sense of the Faithful. See also his Teaching With Authority: A Theology of the Magisterium in the Church.

For the historical context of Vatican I, which is crucial to understanding not merely the doctrine but also the council and Pope Pius IX, there are several European historians whose work one must read. Not surprisingly, at least two of them are German Jesuits continuing in their long and venerable history of Dogmengeschichte: Klaus Schatz, Papal Primacy; and Hermann Pottmeyer, Towards a Papacy in Communion: Perspectives from Vatican Councils I & II (Ut Unim Sint); and his Le rôle de la papauté au IIIe millénaire.

The Belgian Gustave Thils' work remains important: Primauté et infaillibilité du pontife romain à Vatican I, et autres études d'ecclésiologie (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium).

Dom Cuthbert Butler's The Vatican Council, 1869-1870. Based on Bishop Ullathorne's Letters is a helpful little book, and reminds one that any serious attempt to understand the council must also attend to biographies and other studies of such hugely important figures and movements as Cardinal Manning, Joseph Ignaz von Döllinger, Cardinal Newman, Bishop Ullathorne, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Lord Acton, W.E. Gladstone, Otto von Bismarck, the Oxford Movement, the Kulturkampf, the fall of the Second French Empire and advent of the Third French Republic, the movement for Italian unification, and not least the Franco-Prussian War whose outbreak caused Vatican I technically to be suspended sine die and never re-convened.

Much of the work of Yves Congar is extremely important, starting in this instance with Eglise et papaute: Regards historiques (Cogitatio fidei).

For an English view from a leading scholar, Owen Chadwick's A History of the Popes 1830-1914 remains utterly invaluable--a dense history lucidly and compellingly written, which I have very often recommended most warmly. (I paid wider tribute to both Chadwick brothers here.)

For a longer and much more critical historical view, see Brian Tierney, Origins of Papal Infallibility, 1150-1350: A Study on the Concepts of Infallibility, Sovereignty and Tradition in the Middle Ages. Tierney is a major medievalist and his work here and elsewhere is very important--along with that of Francis Oakley, as I have mentioned previously, and Kenneth Pennington.

There are other works that could be mentioned, but this should be enough to get anyone started. Finally, it would be very helpful I think to have further reflection on infallibility picking up the point that the late Tomas Spidlik made in referencing a conversation he had with Romania's greatest theologian of the twentieth century, Dumitru Staniloae:

I went to see a dear Romanian friend of mine, the great Orthodox theologian Staniloe, shortly before his death. He told me he could not understand the infallibility of the Pope.

I then replied: You and I are also infallible. He was amazed at my answer, so I explained: When I say during the Mass: "This is my body ..., this is my blood ..." or when I say: "I absolve you from your sins," these are infallible words and this is also the Pope's infallibility, nothing else.

Then Staniloe said: If infallibility is understood in this way, then it is easier to comprehend. Not only is the Pope infallible when he speaks in the name of the Church, but so is the Mother when she tries to speak of God to her child. The priest is infallible in the sacraments and the Pope is also infallible when he speaks in the name of the great sacrament, of the whole Church.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Schools of Antioch

Though today scarcely even a shell of its former self, the city of Antioch in Christian antiquity was once a great and prominent centre, an intellectual rival to Alexandria, and a "Petrine" rival to Rome. Even in its "pagan" days, its leading scholars trained some of the most prominent Church fathers in the rhetorical arts, as a recent study illustrates.

First published in hardback in 2007, and again this year in paperback, is Raffaella Cribiore's The School of Libanius in Late Antique Antioch (Princeton UP, 2016), 376pp.

About this book we are told:
This book is a study of the fourth-century sophist Libanius, a major intellectual figure who ran one of the most prestigious schools of rhetoric in the later Roman Empire. He was a tenacious adherent of pagan religion and a friend of the emperor Julian, but also taught leaders of the early Christian church like St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great. Raffaella Cribiore examines Libanius's training and personality, showing him to be a vibrant educator, though somewhat gloomy and anxious by nature. She traces how he cultivated a wide network of friends and former pupils and courted powerful officials to recruit top students. Cribiore describes his school in Antioch--how students applied, how they were evaluated and trained, and how Libanius reported progress to their families. She details the professional opportunities that a thorough training in rhetoric opened up for young men of the day. Also included here are translations of 200 of Libanius's most important letters on education, almost none of which have appeared in English before.
Cribiore casts into striking relief the importance of rhetoric in late antiquity and its influence not only on pagan intellectuals but also on prominent Christian figures. She gives a balanced view of Libanius and his circle against the far-flung panorama of the Greek East.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Papacy and the Orthodox

I suppose, as is fashionable today, I ought to offer "full disclosure" over this book, though it does not seem exactly relevant. Nonetheless, I can say that I was asked to review this book in mss form, and again after it was completed, when I was asked by the publisher for a "blurb."

These were very happy tasks for me because this is a very splendid book by an author whose other works I have noted on here in years past as being similarly superlative. So it is with great anticipation that we can all look forward to seeing, early next year, A. Edward Siecienski's  The Papacy and the Orthodox (Oxford UP, 2017), 528pp.

When I was writing my own Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy more than five years ago, I consciously chose to focus only on 20th-century sources, leaving the earlier historical work for another time. I am glad indeed that an historian of Siecienski's calibre has been able to write that book focusing, inter alia, on earlier Orthodox theologies of, and interactions with, popes and the concept of papal primacy.

This book, the publisher tells us, 
examines the centuries-long debate over the primacy and authority of the Bishop of Rome, especially in relation to the Christian East, and offers a comprehensive history of the debate and its underlying theological issues.
Edward Siecienski begins by looking at the sources of the debate, objectively analyzing the history and texts that have long divided the Catholic and Orthodox world. Starting with the historical Apostle Peter and the role he played in the early church, the book turns to the biblical and patristic evidence long used in arguments for and against the Roman primacy. Siecienski details the 2000-year history of the papacy's reception--and rejection--among the Orthodox, beginning with the question that continues to bedevil ecumenists: what was the role of the Bishop of Rome during the time of the undivided church? As Rome's prestige and power grew, so too did debates over the pope's authority, its source, and its extent. The controversy became acute following the eleventh-century Gregorian Reforms and then the Fourth Crusade in the thirteenth century. Roman demands for obedience increasingly met with strident refusals from the East, where the pope's universalist claims were seen as overturning the Church's synodal structure. By the time of the First Vatican Council (1870), which defined the pope's infallibility and universal jurisdiction-doctrines the Orthodox vehemently rejected-it was already clear that the papacy, long seen by Catholics as the ministry of unity, had become the chief obstacle to it.
The final chapters cover the Second Vatican Council, recent attempts at dialogue on the issue of the primacy, and the hope that the dynamic could still shift. This book will be an invaluable resource as both Catholics and Orthodox continue to reexamine the sources and history of the debate in a new light.
When it is finally in print early next year, you can be sure I shall again draw it to your attention, offer extended reflections on it, and arrange for an interview with the author. This will be a book not to be missed!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Remembering the Crusades

I just received in the mail a new and fascinating collection edited by Megan Cassidy-Welch, Remembering the Crusades and Crusading (Routledge, 2016), 266pp. I am greatly looking forward to reading this, coming as it does in a period of increased thought on the uses and abuses of historical memory of the Crusades, as noted in many posts on here over the past 18 months.

This book, the publisher tells us,

examines the diverse contexts in which crusading was memorialised and commemorated in the medieval world and beyond. The collection not only shows how the crusades were commemorated in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but also considers the longer-term remembrance of the crusades into the modern era.

This collection is divided into three sections, the first of which deals with the textual, material and visual sources used to remember. Each contributor introduces a particular body of source material and presents case studies using those sources in their own research. The second section contains four chapters examining specific communities active in commemorating the crusades, including religious communities, family groups and royal courts. Finally, the third section examines the cultural memory of crusading in the Byzantine, Iberian and Baltic regions beyond the early years, as well as the trajectory of crusading memory in the Muslim Middle East.

Remembering the Crusades and Crusading draws together and extends the current debates in the history of the crusades and the history of memory and in so doing offers a fresh synthesis of material in both fields. It will be essential reading for students of the crusades and memory.
Routledge also gives us the table of contents: 

1. Remembering in the time of the crusades
Megan Cassidy-Welch

Sources of memory
2. Preaching and crusade memory
Jessalynn Bird
3. The liturgical memory of 15 July 1099: between history, memory and eschatology
M. Cecilia Gaposchkin
4. Crusades, Memory and Visual Culture: Representations of the Miracle of Intervention of Saints in Battle
Elizabeth Lapina
5. Remembrance of Things Past: Memory and Material Objects in the Time of the Crusades, 1095-1291
Anne E. Lester
6. Historical writing
Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński
7. "Perpetuel Memorye": Remembering History in the Crusading Romance
Lee Manion

Communities of memory
8. Monastic memories of the early crusading movement
Katherine Allen Smith
9. Royal memory
James Naus and Vincent Ryan
10. Jewish Memory and the Crusades: The Hebrew Crusade Chronicles and Protection from Christian violence
Rebecca Rist
11. Family memory and the crusades
Nicholas Paul and Jochen Schenk

Cultural memory
12. ‘A blow sent by God’: Changing Byzantine memories of the Crusades
Jonathan Harris
13. Living and remembering the crusades and the Reconquista: Iberia, 11th-13th Centuries
Ana Rodriguez
14. The Muslim Memory of the Crusades
Alex Mallett
15. Appropriating history: Remembering the crusades in Latvia and Estonia
Carsten Selch Jensen

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Byzantine Arguments

The more contemporary history of Byzantium moves on from the puerile sneering and sloganeering of Gibbon and later defamers, the more we realize the riches present in the complexities of the Eastern Roman Empire. A new book brings to our attention some of those intellectual riches. The esteemed Oxford Byzantinst Averil Cameron has recently authored Arguing It Out: Discussion in Twelfth-Century Byzantium (Central European University Press, 2016), 256pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
In this book the author contends-and this is not a very widely held view-that Byzantium deserves to be considered an influential part of the broader development of Europe, even though its borders also reached out to the vast territories of Anatolia and the Caucasus, and to the eastern Mediterranean. The long twelfth century, from the seizure of the throne by Alexius I Comnenus in 1081, to the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, is a period recognized as fostering the most brilliant cultural development in Byzantine history, especially its literary production. It was a time of intense creativity as well as of rising tensions, and one for which literary approaches are a lively area in current scholarship. The study focuses on the prose dialogues in Greek from this period-of very varying kinds-and on what they can tell us about the society and culture of the era when western Europe was itself developing a new culture of schools, universities, and scholars. Yet it was also the period in which Byzantium felt the fateful impact of the Crusades, which ended with the momentous sack of Constantinople in 1204. Despite revisionist attempts to play down the extent of this disaster, it was a blow from which, arguably, the Byzantines never fully recovered.

Monday, November 14, 2016

If a Sultan Falls in an Ottoman Forest, Does Anybody Hear It?

This summer, I discussed a recent and quite splendid study of the sunset of the Ottoman Empire in the context of and as a result of the First World War. That book, by Eugene Rogan, has already achieved a number of honours and accolades, and rightly so.

In a similar vein, another study by Ryan Gingeras, released in May, renews our focus on this period of imperial collapse and the loss of the sultanate. Published by Oxford University Press, and coming in at 288pp., this study, Fall of the Sultanate: The Great War and the End of the Ottoman Empire, 1908-1922, looks fascinating indeed.

About it, the publisher tells us:
The collapse of the Ottoman Empire was by no means a singular event. After six hundred years of ruling over the peoples of North Africa, the Balkans and Middle East, the death throes of sultanate encompassed a series of wars, insurrections, and revolutions spanning the early twentieth century. This volume encompasses a full accounting of the political, economic, social, and international forces that brought about the passing of the Ottoman state. In surveying the many tragedies that transpired in the years between 1908 and 1922, Fall of the Sultanate explores the causes that eventually led so many to view the legacy of the Ottomans with loathing and resentment.
The volume provides a retelling of this critical history as seen through the eyes of those who lived through the Ottoman collapse. Drawing upon a large gamut of sources in multiple languages, Ryan Gingeras strikes a critical balance in presenting and interpreting the most impactful experiences that shaped the lives of the empire's last generation. The story presented here takes into account the perspectives of the empire's diverse population as well as the leaders who piloted the state to its end. In surveying the personal, communal, and national struggles that defined Italy's invasion of Libya, the Balkan War, the Great War, and the Turkish War of Independence, Fall of the Sultanate presents readers with a fresh and comprehensive exposition of how and why Ottoman imperial rule ended in bloodshed and disillusionment.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Early Modern Theology

Though the vast majority of chapters in this recent collection treat Western themes, there are at least two chapters in The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, 1600-1800 (Oxford UP, 2016), 688pp. explicitly treating Eastern Christian themes.

Edited by Ulrich L. Lehner, Richard A. Muller, and A.G. Roeber, this hefty collection was just officially released at the beginning of this month. About it the publisher tells us the following:

The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, 1600-1800 will offer a comprehensive and reliable introduction to Christian theological literature originating in Western Europe from, roughly, the end of the French Wars of Religion (1598) to the Congress of Vienna (1815).
Using a variety of approaches, the contributors examine theology spanning from Bossuet to Jonathan Edwards. They review the major forms of early modern theology, such as Cartesian scholasticism, Enlightenment, and early Romanticism; sketch the teachings of major theological concepts, along with important historical developments; introduce the principal practitioners of each kind of theology and delineate their particular theological contributions and stresses; and depict the engagement by early modern theologians with other religions or churches, such Judaism, Islam, and the eastern Church. 
Combining contributions from top scholars in the field, this will be an invaluable resource for understanding a complex and varied body of research.
We are also given the table of contents:

Introduction - Ulrich L. Lehner

Part I: Theology-Context and Form
1) Theological Developments in the Non-European World 1500-1800 - R. Po-chia Hsia
2) Sources, Methods, and Forms of Early Modern Theology - Ulrich G. Leinsle
3) Theology and the Development of the European Confessional State - Paul Shore

Part II: Theological Topics
4) Mysticism and Reform in Catholic Theology between 1600 and 1800 - Ulrich L. Lehner and William P. O'Brien, SJ
5) The History of Catholic Exegesis, 1600-1800 - Marius Reiser
6) Providence, Predestination, and Grace in Early Modern Catholic Theology - Thomas Marschler
7) Baroque Catholic Theologies of Christ and Mary - Trent Pomplun
8) Catholic Moral Theology, 1550-1800 - Jean-Louis Quantin
9) Catholic Sacramental Theology in the Baroque Age - Trent Pomplun
10) Ecclesiology/Church-State Relationship in Early Modern Catholicism - Stefania Tutino

Reformed Theologies
11) Reformed Theology between 1600 and 1800 - Richard Muller
12) Scripture and Exegesis in Early Modern Reformed Theology - Carl Trueman
13) God, Creation, and Providence in Post-Reformation Reformed Theology - Andreas J. Beck
14) Christ, Predestination, and Covenant in Post-Reformation Reformed Theology - Willem J. van Asselt
15) Sin, Grace and Free Choice in Post-Reformation Reformed Theology - Stephen Hampton
16) Church and Church/State Relations in the Post-Reformation Reformed Tradition - Ian Hazlett
17) Early Modern Reformed Eschatology - Crawford Gribben

Lutheran Theologies
18) Early Modern Lutheranism - A.G. Roeber
19) Scripture and Exegesis in Early Modern Lutheranism - Benjamin T. G. Mayes
20) God, Creation, and Providence in Early Modern Lutheranism - Robert Kolb
21) Forensic Justification and Mysticism in Early Modern Lutheranism - Risto Saarinen
22) Early Modern Lutheran Ecclesiology - Ola Tjørhom
23) Sacraments in Lutheranism, 1600-1800 - John R. Stephenson

Other Christian Theologies and Awakening Movements
24) Early Modern Socinianism and Unitarianism - Sarah Mortimer
25) Early Modern Anabaptist Theologies - Jeff Bach
26) Arminian, Remonstrant, and Early Methodist Theologies - Keith D. Stanglin
27) Early Modern Pietism - Jonathan Strom and Hartmut Lehmann
28) Early Modern Jansenism - Ephraim Radner
29) Early Modern Moravianism - Craig Atwood

Part III: Theology and the Others

Western Christian Theologies and Other Religions or Churches
30) Western Theologies and Judaism in the Early Modern World - Stephen G. Burnett
31) Western Theologies and Islam in the Early Modern World - Emanuele Colombo
32) The Churches of the East and the Enlightenment - Dimitrios Moschos
33) Orthodox Influences on Early Modern Western Theologies - A.G. Roeber

Westerm Christian Theologies and Philosophies
34) Descartes, Cartesianism, and Early Modern Theology - Aza Goudriaan
35) Leibniz, Wolff, and Early Modern Theology - Ursula Goldenbaum
36) The Challenges of Empirical Understanding in Early Modern Theology - Stephen Gaukroger
37) Spinoza and Early Modern Theology - Jonathan I. Israel
38) The Anti-Theological Theology of Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Carolina Armenteros
39) Kant's Philosophical and Theological Commitments - Peter Yong and Eric Watkins
40) Early Modern Theology and Science - John Henry
41) The Rise of Natural Law in the Early Modern Period - Robert von Friedeburg
42) Eighteenth-Century Neology - Eric Carlsson

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Spiritual Affections

In 2014, we had a collection edited by the Orthodox theologian Paul Gavrilyuk and the Anglican scholar Sarah Coakley, The Spiritual Senses: Perceiving God in Western Christianity which, pace its title, did focus on some "Eastern" figures such as Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Maximus the Confessor.

This year, we have just had released a similar collection edited by Dale Coulter and Amos Yong, The Spirit, the Affections, and the Christian Tradition (UND Press, 2016), 344pp.

About this book the press tells us:
This book explores the role of emotions and affections in the Christian tradition from historical and theological perspectives, especially related to the work of the Holy Spirit. Although historians and scholars from a range of traditions—including Wesleyan, Pentecostal, and Pietist—have engaged these issues, there has yet to be a sustained examination of the role of emotions and affectivity across the Christian tradition. By retrieving the complex discussion about affectivity in Christian tradition and bringing its many voices into dialogue within a contemporary ecumenical context, the contributors also point toward a number of new research trajectories.
The essays underscore the need to understand the shift in Western views of emotion that began in the late eighteenth century. They also explore in detail the vocabulary of affectivity as it has developed in the Christian tradition. As part of this development, the contributors reveal the importance of pneumatology in Western as well as Eastern Christianity, calling into question the idea of a pneumatological deficit advanced by some constructive theologians and addressing the relationship between affectivity and the pedagogical strategies that enable persons to cooperate with the work of grace in the soul. Finally, several essays explore the relationship between the erotic, the ecstatic, and affectivity in religious belief. This volume will interest scholars and students of historical theology, of emotions in theology, and of Christian renewal or charismatic movements.
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