"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
mattress,/
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Paul Evdokimov on Women

Paul Evdokimov remains one of the most interesting figures to come out of postwar Orthodoxy in France--a rich time with many rich thinkers, as I noted before. His book on marriage, The Sacrament of Love, remains to my mind the most theologically satisfying of any work in contemporary theology. But his theological anthropology, as those who have read Woman and the Salvation of the World know, remains problematic. According to at least three scholars I know who have studied and written about Evdokimov, he did not want this last book of his published, fearing it was unfinished and still needing work; but it was published posthumously anyway. 

We have, then, for some time needed a critical appreciation and evaluation of Evdokimov on these questions, and now it seems we have it in a new book from a Romanian scholar: Simona Sabou, Trading Silence for Words of Praise: The Status of Woman in Eastern Orthodoxy as Reflected in the Works of Paul Evdokimov (Lambert Academic, 2012), 224pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
This work offers an analysis of Russian theologian Paul Evdokimov's view in regard to the position of woman in Orthodox theology. He starts from the doctrine of imago Dei, which requires a discussion of Evdokimov's view of God, emphasizing the importance given to personhood within Orthodox theology, and arguing that the concept of the monarchy of the Father on the one hand undermines our understanding of personhood itself, and on the other hand leaves room for hierarchical and subordinationist structures. On marriage, he distinguishes between monasticism and marriage, and while he presupposes monasticism to be a threat to the status of marriage and that a low status of marriage, in turn, is a threat to the status of woman, he fails to address either of these. Ultimately, it is argued that Evdokimov's particular attempts to both praise woman and deny any inferiority when compared with man are undermined by his wider Orthodox tradition, where personhood is not fully established, where monasticism has a higher status than marriage, where woman is to be mother without any parallel requirement for man, and where woman is not allowed an equal ministerial status with man.

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