"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).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dictionaries of Orthodoxy

Reference works about Eastern Christianity have increasingly appeared in the last decade. In 2001 we had the very useful Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity. Then last year we saw the appearance of The A to Z of the Orthodox Church (The A to Z Guide Series)
This is, as I noted in my review in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies, a useful volume, but it is simply a  reprinted and re-titled version of The Historical Dictionary of the Orthodox Church  first published in 1996. It is no.175 in the ongoing series of rather useful “A to  Z Guides” that  Scarecrow Press has been bringing out, including the recent A to Z of the Coptic Church.

The usefulness of this book, however, will be limited by the fact – obvious from reading various entries, as well as the introductory chronology – that most of this book was written in the very early 1990s as the Soviet Union was collapsing. The ecclesiological and ecumenical consequences of  that collapse, and its many subsequent developments, are not covered in this book, which also appeared just before an explosion of  new  publications  in Eastern Christian studies.  This book’s eighty-eight-page bibliography,   therefore, would now require considerable updating.

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