"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).

Friday, May 20, 2016

Seven Ecumenical Councils

We are of course fast coming up to the much-promised and much-delayed great and holy council of the Orthodox Churches, set to meet in Crete next month during the Pentecost octave. How fitting, then, that Gorgias Press--on whose singular, manifold, and utterly invaluable contributions to Eastern Christian (especially Syriac) scholarship I have had many happy occasions to comment--should be bringing out a collection devoted to a review of past councils in anticipation of the present one:

Sergey Trostyanskiy, ed., Seven Icons of Christ: an Introduction to the Oikumenical Councils (Gorgias Press, 2016), 426pp.

About this collection the publisher tells us:
The Mystery of Christ has been a major focus, and a source of contention, for Christian theological discourse since the very beginning. It remains so even to this day. The very notion of mystery directs our thoughts to that which lies just beyond the range of discourse. Indeed, the truth of Christian faith consists in the confession that the mystery of Christ cannot be exhausted by processes of discursive reasoning. Even so, discursive reason facilitates the ascent to faith in the Incarnate Christ. In other words, discourse relates to faith as an icon to its paradigm. The chief thesis of this book is that the Seven Great Councils represent such integral discursive icons of high intellectual and historical moment in Christian thought. Such events, therefore, stand as milestones in the Christian epistemic assent to the mystery of God the Word Incarnate.
The critical essays in this book, prepared by advanced scholars of the Early Church, set out an exposition of the proceedings of the Seven Oikocumenical Councils; a review of the chief works of the major protagonists associated with the councils; the immediate intellectual aftermath; as well as a considered reflection or commentary on the theological ekthesis (theological profession) of each council. The end result is a book whose critical value should make it required reading by specialists, but also will allow it to serve as a solid and scholarly introduction to the subject for both undergraduate and graduate level students.

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