The Harvard-trained historian Boris Gudziak, author of the extremely important volume Crisis and Reform: The Kyivan Metropolitanate, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Genesis of the Union of Brest (Harvard Series in Ukrainian Studies, 1999),
wrote an interesting article in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies (vol. 41-42 [2000-01]), "Towards an Analysis of the Neo-Patristic Synthesis of Georges Florovsky." It provided an excellent overview of Florovsky's life and work and the influences on and trajectories of the same. Gudziak ended by noting three problems with Florovsky's approach: the questions of inculturation, interpretation (of the fathers in a new age), and ideology. Gudziak concluded his study by arguing that "on a methodological level, many of the questions avoided by Florovsky remain unanswered by his followers. It remains for the future to show whether a 'neo-patristic synthesis' in the form advocated by Florovsky or along modified categories will provide Orthodoxy with a comprehensive and integrated vision of divine-human reality."
Florovsky's notion of a neo-patristic synthesis continues to be discussed and debated. One such discussion takes place in a book that was originally published in 2008 in hardback, and is this month just released in paperback: Alexi Nesteruk, The Universe as Communion: Towards a Neo-Patristic Synthesis of Theology and Science (T&T Clark, 2012), 300pp.
About this book, one of several recently released (as I have been noting) to treat the science-religion debate, the publisher tells us:
In this book a new and distinctive approach to the science-religion debate emerges from a synthesis of the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition with phenomenological thought. Developing ideas of Greek Patristics the author treats faith, with its sense of the Divine presence, and knowledge of the universe, as two modes of communion which constitute the human condition. The modern opposition between science and theology (which is historically paralleled with the Church’s split between East and West, and monasticism and Christianity in the world), is treated as the split between two intentionalities of the overall human subjectivity. The human person, as a centre of their reconciliation, becomes the major theme of the dialogue between science and theology.
It is argued that the reconciliation of science and theology is not simply an academic exercise; it requires an existential change, a change of mind (metanoia), which cannot be effected without ecclesial involvement. Then the person who effectuates the mediation between science and theology is raised to the level of “cosmic priesthood” while the mediation acquires the features of a “cosmic Eucharist” in which all divisions and tensions in creation and humanity are removed. It is through this existential change accompanied by phenomenological analysis that scientific theories can be subjected to a certain “vision” through which the hidden ultimate goal (telos) of scientific research (as the explication of the human condition) shows its kinship to the saving telos advocated by Christian faith. The opposition between theology and science is thus being para-eucharistically overcome.
The publisher also helpfully provides us with the table of contents:
Introduction: The Delimiters of the Dialogue Between Theology and Science
Chapter 1: A Neo-Patristic Ethos in the Dialogue between Theology and ScienceChapter 2: Neo-Patristic Synthesis and Existential Phenomenology: The Lines of Convergence
Chapter 3: Theology and Phenomenological Attitude: the Human Condition, Existential Faith and TranscendenceChapter 4: The Dialogue between Theology and Science: Human-Centered as opposed to Nature-CentredChapter 5: The Universe as Communion: from Cosmology to Personhood and Teleology of ReasonConclusion