"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).

Monday, September 24, 2012

Extra, Extra! World Scoop on New Orthodox Books!

I have returned from the annual meeting of the Orthodox Theological Society of America (OTSA). It was a chance to meet some thoroughly lovely people and listen to their edifying and enjoyable papers, re-connect with some friends, and hit up Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, New York's real little Italy for all the gustatory delights unavailable in the Mid-West.

Speaking of delights, you will doubtless be pleased to read here for the first time of books that OTSA members are working on, or shortly to publish. Here is the scoop:

Paul Gavrilyuk, author of such well-received studies as The Suffering of the Impassible God: The Dialectics of Patristic Thought (Oxford Early Christian Studies), and co-editor of the recent collection I discussed here, has a forthcoming book also from Oxford, Georges Florovsky and the Russian Religious Renaissance. Watch for more details as they are forthcoming.

The lovely Edith Humphrey, whom I interviewed here, has a forthcoming book out from Baker Academic in the spring of 2013: Scripture and Tradition: What the Bible Really Says. About this book the publisher says:

In some of the church's history, Scripture has been pitted against tradition and vice versa. Prominent New Testament scholar Edith Humphrey, who understands the issue from both Protestant and Catholic/Orthodox perspectives, revisits this perennial point of tension. She demonstrates that the Bible itself reveals the importance of tradition, exploring how the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles show Jesus and the apostles claiming the authority of tradition as God's Word, both written and spoken. Arguing that Scripture and tradition are not in opposition but are necessarily and inextricably intertwined, Humphrey defends tradition as God's gift to the church. She also works to dismantle rigid views of sola scriptura while holding a high view of Scripture's authority.
Fordham's Aristotle Papanikolaou, author of Being With God: Trinity, Apophaticism, and Divine-Human Communion, and co-editor of such important works as Orthodox Readings of Augustine and Thinking Through Faith: New Perspectives from Orthodox Christian Scholars, has a new book just released:  The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012), 232pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Theosis, or the principle of divine-human communion, sparks the theological imagination of Orthodox Christians and has been historically important to questions of political theology. In The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy, Aristotle Papanikolaou argues that a political theology grounded in the principle of divine-human communion must be one that unequivocally endorses a political community that is democratic in a way that structures itself around the modern liberal principles of freedom of religion, the protection of human rights, and church-state separation.
Papanikolaou hopes to forge a non-radical Orthodox political theology that extends beyond a reflexive opposition to the West and a nostalgic return to a Byzantine-like unified political-religious culture. His exploration is prompted by two trends: the fall of communism in traditionally Orthodox countries has revealed an unpreparedness on the part of Orthodox Christianity to address the question of political theology in a way that is consistent with its core axiom of theosis; and recent Christian political theology, some of it evoking the notion of “deification,” has been critical of liberal democracy, implying a mutual incompatibility between a Christian worldview and that of modern liberal democracy.
The first comprehensive treatment from an Orthodox theological perspective of the issue of the compatibility between Orthodoxy and liberal democracy, Papanikolaou’s is an affirmation that Orthodox support for liberal forms of democracy is justified within the framework of Orthodox understandings of God and the human person. His overtly theological approach shows that the basic principles of liberal democracy are not tied exclusively to the language and categories of Enlightenment philosophy and, so, are not inherently secular.
Nicholas Denysenko, whose book on the blessing of waters on Theophany was just released, is next turning his attention to Chrismation in a work he is preparing for Liturgical Press. More details as they are forthcoming--and also an interview with him about the Theophany book in the coming weeks.

John Behr, author and translator of many studies in the Fathers (especially Irenaeus), including most recently, The Case Against Diodore and Theodore (Oxford Early Christian Texts), has two works forthcoming: another book on Irenaeus with Oxford, and a book with St. Vladimir's Seminary Press on theological anthropology. More details as they are known.

Pantelis Kalaitzidis, the director of the prestigious Volos Academy for Theological Studies in Greece, has just released a book Orthodoxy and Political Theology.

About this book the publisher tells us:
A trenchant critique, a hopeful vision - Features: * The first sustained treatment of political theology in Orthodox settings * A critique of traditional and contemporary practices of the churches - and of theologians * A vision for engaged Christians Why have the Orthodox churches not developed a full-throated political theological voice? While known for their robust ecclesiology and rich doctrinal and liturgical identity, the Orthodox churches have not strongly advanced political theology. Yet, for our time of momentous change and tumult, maintains Pantelis Kalaitzidis, such a vision is crucial. For the first time, here is a careful analytical assessment, well informed by historical insights, of the theological stance and public witness of the Orthodox churches in the political arena. Key to developing a distinctive political theology and public witness, Kalaitzidis maintains, is eucharistic community and renewed eschatology - that is, a deep faith in and expectation of God's active re-creation of individual, social, and even cosmic possibilities. A faith grounded in the risen Lord, he says, can offer a powerful religious vision, distinctively Orthodox in its deepest roots, not reducible to a nostalgic idealization of a theocratic past nor to a simple modern programme of social betterment.
I will have more details about some of these as they are forthcoming, as well as reviews in due course and, where possible, interviews with their authors. The bottom line is that Orthodox thought in the anglophone world is really flourishing, and new publications are appearing at a healthy clip. These are all greatly cheering events greatly to be encouraged. 

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