"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, May 15, 2019

A.E. Siecienski on Orthodox Christianity

Some of the best books in Eastern Christian history are written by A.E. Siecienski, whom I've been delighted to interview on here in the past about his book on the papacy, which is an outstanding work I've often returned to. He and I were on a panel together in Romania in January at the inaugural IOTA conference. We were both talking about papal primacy, albeit from very different angles.

So I sat up and paid special notice when Oxford UP recently sent me their catalogue of forthcoming works later this summer and fall, and included in it is Orthodox Christianity: A Very Short Introduction by A. Edward Siecienski (OUP, 2019), 144pp.

My own introductory course on Eastern Christianity is due for a bit of an overhaul, and I rather suspect that after I've had a chance to read this book, I'll be adopting it for my classes. We'll see.

In the meantime, here is what the press tells us about this book:
To many in the West, Orthodoxy remains shrouded in mystery, an exotic and foreign religion that survived in the East following the Great Schism of 1054 that split the Christian world into two camps--Catholic and Orthodox. However, as the second largest Christian denomination, Orthodox Christianity is anything but foreign to the nearly 300 million worshippers who practice it. For them, Orthodoxy is a living, breathing reality; a way of being Christian ultimately rooted in the person of Jesus and the experience of the early Church. Whether they are Greek, Russian, or American, Orthodox Christians are united by a common tradition and faith that binds them together despite differences in culture. True, the road has not always been smooth -- Orthodox history is littered with tales of schisms and divisions, of persecutions and martyrdom, from the Sack of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire and seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch, to the experience of the Russian Orthodox Church under the Soviet Union. Still, today Orthodoxy remains a vibrant part of the religious landscape, not only in those lands where it has made its historic home (Greece, Russia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe), but also increasingly in the West. Orthodox Christianity: A Very Short Introduction explores the enduring role of this religion, and the history, beliefs, and practices that have shaped it.

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