"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).

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Church of Smyrna

On my bedside table for bedtime reading is a book I have started but not yet finished: Marjorie Housepian Dobkin, Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City. It is a fascinating if deeply depressing book documenting the destruction not only in the post-war period but also as the Greco-Turkish wars wound down and the Ottoman Empire gave way to the rise of modern Turkey.

Along comes a more recent book to look at Smyrna, but in the ancient period: The Church of Smyrna: History and Theology of a Primitive Christian Community (Peter Lang, 2015), 402pp.

Part of Lang's Patrologia series, this book, the publisher tells us,
deals with the theology of the Church of Smyrna from its foundation up to the Council of Nicaea in 325. The author provides a critical historical evaluation of the documentary sources and certain aspects particularly deserving of discussion. He makes a meticulous study of the history of the city, its gods and institutions, the set-up of the Jewish and Christian communities and the response of the latter to the imperial cult. Finally, he undertakes a detailed analysis both of the reception of the Hebrew Scriptures and the apostolic traditions, as well as examining the gradual historical process of the shaping of orthodoxy and the identity of the community in the light of the organisation of its ecclesial ministries, its sacramental life and the cult of its martyrs.

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