"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, October 31, 2018

Antoine Arjakovsky on Orthodoxy and its Genealogy

I have been a great fan of the work of the Russian Orthodox scholar Antoine Arjakovsky for some time, having previously interviewed him here about this book discussed here. Slowly more and more of his works are making their way into English translation through several North American publishers. One such publisher, Angelico Press, contacted me this past summer asking me to read and provide a blurb for an Arjakovsky book they were about to publish. And now it is here: What is Orthodoxy? A Genealogy of Christian Understanding (Angelico, 2018), 412pp.

About this book the publisher tells us this:
In this remarkably original work, Antoine Arjakovsky brings us to a discovery of Orthodoxy within the dynamics of history—including the profound crisis that the Christian churches, with their too often congealed identities, are passing through today. Faced with internal tensions and the millennium-old fragmentation of Christendom, the path to a common Christian identity has been rendered all but impossible. Undaunted, Arjakovsky points to the emergence of a new concept of Orthodoxy as “right knowing,” a knowing that unifies what is believed with what is lived, wherever this might be. He is an acute reader of the tensions between the piously political and the truly spiritual in the troubled history of Christendom—East as well as West. The book’s contributions to studies in the history of Christianity, ecumenism, and sophiology offer Christian readers renewed hope in an ecumenical project uninhibited by tired tropes of division and over-rehearsed acrimony. It is a most timely work.
And don't just take my word for the importance of reading Arjakovsky. It comes with a foreword from John Milbank, and then the publisher provides a slew of vastly more impressive "blurbers" than I:

 “Antoine Arjakovsky’s theological, geographic, and diachronic breadth is matched by largeness of heart and deep reflection guided by lived experience and eschatological hope.”—BISHOP BORYS GUDZIAK, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

“Antoine Arjakovsky has written a sweeping scholarly account of how the very concept of ‘orthodoxy’ has been approached historically, philosophically, and theologically over the last two millennia. In this rich exploration beyond the closed spheres of confessionalism, heterodoxy versus orthodoxy, and our ‘epistemic ghettos,’ Arjakovsky sees the possibility of ‘a common shared consciousness’ that could open ‘a new ecumenical history of the Church and a new history of philosophy.’”—FR. JOHN A. JILLIONS, Chancellor, Orthodox Church in America

“In this remarkable book, Antoine Arjakovsky shows why a theological Church History is crucial for theological understanding. Orthodoxy is not such, if it is only about right belief. It is, rather, about the participation of human existence and history in the divine and angelic wisdom which is itself a metahistorical drama.”—CATHERINE PICKSTOCK, University of Cambridge

“This volume is no mere historical overview of Orthodox Christianity, but an extraordinary multidimensional exploration of what Orthodoxy has tried to confess and enact of Christ’s Gospel. An exciting, provocative, and most important contribution to theology and church history.”—THE V. REV. MICHAEL PLEKON, Professor Emeritus, City University of New York

“Antoine Arjakovsky’s historical scholarship opens onto an astonishing array of sources, ancient and modern, offering us a vitally important exploration of Orthodoxy that is both theologically faithful and historiographically self-critical.”—A.A.J. DEVILLE, University of Saint Francis

“Antoine Arjakovsky offers a provocation to orthodoxy that is rooted in genuine metanoia, and thus irreducible to the triumphalism of ecclesial bureaucracy and confessional boundaries. An important and highly-recommended work.”—AARON RICHES, Seminario Mayor San Cecilio, Granada, Spain

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