Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Review: Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology

Fr. Andrew Louth’s new book entitled Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology is what it says, i.e. an introduction to many different theological themes to be found within the Orthodox Tradition. Fr. Andrew looks into Scripture, the Fathers, he explains the beliefs of the Orthodox Church through the liturgical life and prayers of the Church, he introduces the difficult doctrinal themes, i.e. the Trinity, the doctrine of creation, sin, death and repentance, being human and through that the image of God, the sacraments, the icons, pointing out the importance of these themes through symbolism, time and liturgy, which are perceived differently in respect to the secular time we all use in our daily lives. Fr. Andrew finishes the book by looking into eschatological issues and problems.

These chapters were originally used for lectures, therefore an oral character is maintained; nevertheless, the author does keep a high academic level of explaining these topics, similar to the language found in other books on Orthodoxy. At points he does compare Orthodoxy with the Roman Catholic church and the Protestant churches, as do most if not all the authors who endeavour to write a book on the Orthodox Church. However, the author focuses mainly on the Orthodox Church and Tradition.
John Behr, Dean and Professor of Patristic, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, New York, when commenting on this book explains: “This is an exceptional introduction to Orthodoxy. Instead of presenting a summary of church history, teachings and practices, Andrew Louth grounds his account of the Church and her theology in the encounter with God in liturgy and prayer, expounding historical controversies and theological themes as they arise out of that encounter. The result is both personal and profound, inviting readers to explore and experience for themselves the mystery of God in Christ”. 

For those who do not know Fr. Andrew Louth, he is Professor Emeritus of Patristic and Byzantine Studies at Durham University and also Visiting Professor of Eastern Orthodox Theology at the Amsterdam Centre of Eastern Orthodox Theology (ACEOT), in the faculty of Theology, the Free University, Amsterdam. He is a priest of the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese of Sourozh (Moscow Patriarchate), serving the parish in Durham. He studied at the University of Cambridge (MA), University of Edinburgh (M.Th.), and the University of Oxford (DD). Before teaching at Durham, he taught at the University of Oxford and at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the author of many books, including The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: Plato to Denys, Denys the Aeropagite, Maximus the Confessor and many more, including numerous articles. 

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