"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 23, 2015

Barth Among the Russians

Perhaps it was the Anglican snobbery of my upbringing, which regarded continental theologians as really lower-class distant cousins of the reformers of the 16th century who failed to maintain sufficient continuity with the Catholic past of the West--as Anglicanism ostensibly did, for a limited time and not without controversy as John Shelton Reid's fascinating book Glorious Battle: The Cultural Politics of Victorian Anglo-Catholicism made clear--but I never developed any interest at all in Barth. On the rare occasions where I tried to read him, I found him utterly tedious.

Happily, however, not all share my ignorance and boredom. At least one Eastern Christian author, in a forthcoming book, has done some of the genealogical and dialogical work of engaging two very distinct theological cultures: A.J. Moyse et al, eds., Correlating Sobornost: Conversations Between Karl Barth and the Russian Orthodox Tradition (Fortress, February 2016),272pp.

About this book we are told:
The diaspora of scholars exiled from Russian in 1922 offered something vital for both Russian Orthodoxy and for ecumenical dialogue. Liberated from scholastic academic discourse, and living and writing in new languages, the scholars set out to reinterpret their traditions and to introduce Russian Orthodoxy to the West. Yet, relatively few have considered the works of these exiles, particularly insofar as they act as critical and constructive conversation partners. This project expands upon the relatively limited conversation between such thinkers with the most significant Protestant theologian of the last century, Karl Barth. Through the topic and in the spirit of sobornost, this project charters such conversation. The body of Russian theological scholarship guided by sobornost challenges Barth, helping us to draw out necessary criticism while leading us toward unexpected insight, and vice versa. This collection will not only illuminate but also stimulate interesting and important discussions for those engaged in the study of Karl Barth's corpus, in the Orthodox tradition, and in the ecumenical discourse between East and West.

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