"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, November 21, 2011

Radu Bordeianu on Dumitru Staniloae

In a variety of journals over the past several years, I have reviewed well over a dozen recent books in ecclesiology, all but one or two of them deeply dissatisfying. But now I have just finished a tremendously rewarding book: Radu Bordeianu has written what is easily the most intellectually stimulating and theologically satisfying book in ecclesiology written so far this century: Dumitru Staniloae: An Ecumenical Ecclesiology (T&T Clark, 2011), 240pp. I only wish this book had been released a few months ago because then I could have had my graduate students read it this semester.

Part of the T&T Clark's "Ecumenical Investigations" series, to which I drew attention earlier, this book began as Bordeianu's doctoral dissertation under the Jesuit theologian Michael Fahey when he was still at Marquette. But unlike many dissertations that make the transition to book, this one is not a plodding Teutonic treatise but a very cogently written book that moves smartly along making a wonderfully lucid case for seeing Staniloae an extremely important, if hitherto generally unknown, voice in the debates over ecclesiology in which the "positions" of Nicholas Afanasiev and John Zizioulas have thus far dominated Orthodox debate, and heavily influenced other Christians as well.

Divided into three sections and eight chapters, this book begins by making the case for an "ecumenical ecclesiology" in the first two chapters, and for seeing Staniloae in those terms. In the second section (chapters 3-5), Bordeianu argues that for the Church to be "Filled With the Trinity" (as the section is titled), it has to understand its relationship to each Person of the Trinity. Especially in chapter 3, "Adoptive Children of the Father: the Relationship between the Father and the Church," the author argues that Staniloae, more than almost any other ecclesiologist of our time, asks the question about the Father's role in the Church's self-understanding. Much ecclesiology either focuses on Christ or the Spirit: it is extremely rare for ecclesiological reflection to focus on the Father, making this chapter all the more welcome. The third and final part, "Communion Ecclesiology," contains some practical outworkings of the deeply Trinitarian ecclesiology from part two, the heart of the book. In this third and final section, we find reflection on the role of the priesthood, the relationship between the local and universal Church, and several suggestions for ways toward full eucharistic communion between Catholics and Orthodox.

There is so much richness in Dumitru Staniloae: An Ecumenical Ecclesiology to return to again and again that I am continuing to mull it over for some time before putting together a long, coherent review. But in the meantime, I wanted to draw your attention to this volume and insist that that if you are at all interested in ecclesiology (to say nothing of Dumitru Staniloae) then you simply must buy this book.

1 comment:

  1. I knew Fr. Radu when he lived in NC. I'd definitely be interested in his book, especially if I didn't have to take out a loan in order to afford it! :)


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