"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).


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Florovsky and the Russian Religious Renaissance

It's hard to believe it was a full year ago since I was in Brookline for the annual meeting of the Orthodox Theological Society of America, where I was an invited panelist and respondent to Paul Gavrilyuk's excellent book, Georges Florovsky and the Russian Religious Renaissance. (I posted my response here.)

Now we are told that in December, a more affordable paperback version of the book is to be published so you really do have no excuse for not getting a copy!

This is a major study of the man widely regarded as the most influential Russian theologian of the 20th century. It raises acute issues not only about Florovsky but about many other matters--historiography, Russian culture, Orthodox identity and engagement with both Western and "Eurasian" culture, etc.

As the publisher told us about this book when it first appeared:
Georges Florovsky is the mastermind of a "return to the Church Fathers" in twentieth-century Orthodox theology. His theological vision--the neopatristic synthesis--became the main paradigm of Orthodox theology and the golden standard of Eastern Orthodox identity in the West. Focusing on Florovsky's European period (1920-1948), this study analyzes how Florovsky's evolving interpretation of Russian religious thought, particularly Vladimir Solovyov and Sergius Bulgakov, informed his approach to patristic sources. Paul Gavrilyuk offers a new reading of Florovsky's neopatristic theology, by closely considering its ontological, epistemological, and ecclesiological foundations.
It is common to contrast Florovsky's neopatristic theology with the "modernist" religious philosophies of Pavel Florensky, Sergius Bulgakov, and other representatives of the Russian Religious Renaissance. Gavrilyuk argues that the standard narrative of twentieth-century Orthodox theology, based on this polarization, must be reconsidered. The author demonstrates Florovsky's critical appropriation of the main themes of the Russian Religious Renaissance, including theological antinomies, the meaning of history, and the nature of personhood. The distinctive features of Florovsky's neopatristic theology--Christological focus, "ecclesial experience," personalism, and "Christian Hellenism"--are best understood against the background of the main problematic of the Renaissance. Specifically, it is shown that Bulgakov's sophiology provided a polemical subtext for Florovsky's theology of creation. It is argued that the use of the patristic norm in application to modern Russian theology represents Florovsky's theological signature.
Drawing on unpublished archival material and correspondence, this study sheds new light on such aspects of Florovsky's career as his family background, his participation in the Eurasian movement, his dissertation on Alexander Herzen, his lectures on Vladimir Solovyov, and his involvement in Bulgakov's Brotherhood of St Sophia.

1 comment:

Anonymous comments are never approved. Use your real name and say something intelligent.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...