"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).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Vatican II and Ecumenical Advances

In October of this year many Christians will start commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. We have already seen a number of books, and can expect still others. Two of note just released with chapters by Orthodox theologians or bearing on Orthodox theology are: James Heft, ed. with John O'Malley, After Vatican II: Trajectories and Hermeneutics (Eerdmans, 2012),208pp. About this book the publisher tells us:

Since the closing of Vatican II (1962-1965) nearly fifty years ago, several multi-volume studies have detailed how the bishops at the council debated successive drafts and finally approved the sixteen documents published as the proceedings of the council. However, the meaning of those documents, their proper interpretations, and the ongoing developments they set in motion have been hotly debated.
In a word, Vatican II continues to be very much a topic of discussion and debate in the Roman Catholic Church and beyond. The council was an extraordinarily complex reality. It is no wonder, therefore, that opinions vary, sometimes sharply, as to its significance. This volume explores these major flashpoints.
All the chapters look interesting, but one especially, from the Eastern Christian specialist at Notre Dame, Robin Darling Young: "A Soldier of the Great War: Henri de Lubac and the Patristic Sources for a Postmodern Theology."

The second book  is edited by John Radano with a foreword by Walter Cardinal Kasper, Celebrating a Century of Ecumenism: Exploring the Achievements of International Dialogue (Eerdmans, 2012), 356pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Modern ecumenism traces its roots back to the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh. Celebrating a Century of Ecumenism brings readers up to date on one hundred years of global dialogue between many different church traditions, including Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Orthodox, Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Oriental Orthodox, and more. Eighteen essays by authors representing a wide spectrum of denominational interests outline the achievements of this movement toward unity.

The first part of the book focuses on multilateral dialogue that involved a variety of churches attempting to delineate common ground, with considerable progress reported. The second part describes bilateral discussions between two churches or groups of churches. Celebrating a Century of Ecumenism is one small marker along the way to the unity that many Christians desire, and the report it provides will encourage those involved in ecumenical discussions.
Among the many contributors of note, one finds the Orthodox theologian and professor at St. Vladimir's Seminary Peter Bouteneff and the Eastern Christian specialist and Paulist priest Ronald G. Roberson, author of the invaluable (and regularly updated) The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey, now in its seventh or eighth edition at least. Others in this volumes include such well-known figures as Jeffrey Gros, Margaret O'Gara, Mary Tanner, Geoffrey Wainwright, and Susan K. Wood.

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