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Communion and Otherness: Further Studies in Personhood and the Church Paperback – January 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"All who have benefitted from the influential insights of Being as Communion will be eager to read this new sequel, addressing the critical issue of the balance between relationality and difference in ontological thought."
(Rev. John Polkinghorne)

"Metropolitan John Zizioulas is generally recognised as the most brilliant and creative theologian in the Orthodox Church today. The publication of a new book from his pen, supplementing his earlier master-work Being as Communion, is a major event, of the greatest interest to Western Christians as well as Orthodox. By exploring the theme of 'Otherness', he has developed in an original and illuminating way what he said in his earlier writings about Communion as the basis for personhood and church life. Here is a voice that greatly needs to be heard."


'On page after page of this outstanding book, our assumptions are challenged and our minds led back to the most deeply significant aspects of Christian faith, and to the conceptual and practical map drawn not only in Scripture but in the Greek Fathers, including the fathers of the desert and their teaching on practice and prayer. Few will read this book without sensing that they have been invited to rediscover Christianity itself in its richest traditional form.'
(Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury)

'I'm now reading what I take to be the best book written by an Orthodox theologian in the last 20 years...John Zizioulas' Communion and Otherness is a masterpiece that is not only beautifully Eastern, but philosophically erudite and which engages meaningfully with Western theology. Herein Zizioulas further develops, refines, and defends his relational ontology of personhood that he first put forth in Being as Communion.'
Halden, Inhabitatio Dei Website Review
(Halden, Inhabitatio Dei Website Review)

'John Zizioulas is always a challenging, but rewarding read. His theology of personhood and the implications it has for the doctrine of the Trinity, the church, the human being are difficult to match and his theology will continue to be one that others find helpful. He has done us a great service in drawing Western theology back to the Cappadocian Fathers. Communion and Otherness will surely join Being as Communion as a much read and much quoted book.'
Andy Goodliff
(Andy Goodliff)

"John Zizioulas, one of the most prominent contemporary Orthodox theologians, continues to develop his understanding of the relation between personhood and communion in eight essays, three published here for the first time. His thesis is that perfect union does not destroy but rather affirms otherness in the triune God, in the relationship between God and human persons and among the members of the Church...A 'must have' for personal and institutional libraries, this book should be used primarily in graduate studies. Zizioulas demonstrates that he is among the first-ranked contemporary theologians and that Orthodox theology is at a time of development influenced by its return to biblical, patristic, and liturgical sources, in a constructive encounter with other Christian theologies, contemporary philosophy, and modern society." -Radu Bordeianu, Horizons, Vol. 34, No. 2, Fall 2007
(Radu Bordeianu)

'Communion and Otherness is the product of a lifetime's work, the synthesis of Metropolitan John's thought...a book long awaited - and I believe rightly so - from a theologian who some consider to be a contemporary Church Father.'
Liviu Barbu, King's College London, Heythrop Journal
(Heythrop Journal)

"...this is not an easy read, but very much worth the effort...What I love most about this book is its sense of existence as God's gift to us and to all of creation, a gift Zizioulas places firmly in a eucharistic context. Because existence is a gift, he argues, atheism can be seen as a form of ingratitude. Faith means being grateful to every other being and finally to God himself, the ultimate Other and 'the author of all otherness. This kind of faith offers no security of rational conviction. The only certainty it offers lies in the love of the Other. The only proof of God's existence is his love-demonstrated by our very being, in otherness and communion. We are loved, therefore he exists.'"—— John Garvey, Commonweal, April 11, 2008
(John Garvey)

"...This volume, along with Being as Communion, provides one of the most insightful, contemporary and accessible accounts of Orthodoxy available." — Thomas Finger, Christian Century, May 20, 2008 (Thomas Finger)

"This work is highly recommended for the upper level student, professor, and churchman or churchwoman seeking a deeper understanding of these important topics. Truly a challenging work." —Catholic Library World (Cecil R. White)

"As with most creative theological proposals, readers likely will find much with which to disagree. Yet, if one takes the time to engage and not simply dismiss, this volume will pay handsome dividends...Those interested in ecclesial theology will find in this volume much worth contemplating and an able dialogue partner."
Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology


"All who have benefitted from the influential insights of Being as Communion will be eager to read this new sequel, addressing the critical issue of the balance between relationality and difference in ontological thought."
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Metropolitan John Zizioulas is generally recognised as the most brilliant and creative theologian in the Orthodox Church today. The publication of a new book from his pen, supplementing his earlier master-work Being as Communion, is a major event, of the greatest interest to Western Christians as well as Orthodox. By exploring the theme of 'Otherness’, he has developed in an original and illuminating way what he said in his earlier writings about Communion as the basis for personhood and church life. Here is a voice that greatly needs to be heard."


'On page after page of this outstanding book, our assumptions are challenged and our minds led back to the most deeply significant aspects of Christian faith, and to the conceptual and practical map drawn not only in Scripture but in the Greek Fathers, including the fathers of the desert and their teaching on practice and prayer. Few will read this book without sensing that they have been invited to rediscover Christianity itself in its richest traditional form.'
(Sanford Lakoff)

'I’m now reading what I take to be the best book written by an Orthodox theologian in the last 20 years…John Zizioulas’ Communion and Otherness is a masterpiece that is not only beautifully Eastern, but philosophically erudite and which engages meaningfully with Western theology. Herein Zizioulas further develops, refines, and defends his relational ontology of personhood that he first put forth in Being as Communion.'
Halden, Inhabitatio Dei Website Review
(Sanford Lakoff)

'John Zizioulas is always a challenging, but rewarding read. His theology of personhood and the implications it has for the doctrine of the Trinity, the church, the human being are difficult to match and his theology will continue to be one that others find helpful. He has done us a great service in drawing Western theology back to the Cappadocian Fathers. Communion and Otherness will surely join Being as Communion as a much read and much quoted book.'
Andy Goodliff
(Sanford Lakoff)

"John Zizioulas, one of the most prominent contemporary Orthodox theologians, continues to develop his understanding of the relation between personhood and communion in eight essays, three published here for the first time. His thesis is that perfect union does not destroy but rather affirms otherness in the triune God, in the relationship between God and human persons and among the members of the Church...A 'must have' for personal and institutional libraries, this book should be used primarily in graduate studies. Zizioulas demonstrates that he is among the first-ranked contemporary theologians and that Orthodox theology is at a time of development influenced by its return to biblical, patristic, and liturgical sources, in a constructive encounter with other Christian theologies, contemporary philosophy, and modern society." -Radu Bordeianu, Horizons, Vol. 34, No. 2, Fall 2007
(Sanford Lakoff)

"…this is not an easy read, but very much worth the effort…What I love most about this book is its sense of existence as God's gift to us and to all of creation, a gift Zizioulas places firmly in a eucharistic context. Because existence is a gift, he argues, atheism can be seen as a form of ingratitude. Faith means being grateful to every other being and finally to God himself, the ultimate Other and 'the author of all otherness. This kind of faith offers no security of rational conviction. The only certainty it offers lies in the love of the Other. The only proof of God's existence is his love-demonstrated by our very being, in otherness and communion. We are loved, therefore he exists.’"—— John Garvey, Commonweal, April 11, 2008
(Sanford Lakoff)

“…This volume, along with Being as Communion, provides one of the most insightful, contemporary and accessible accounts of Orthodoxy available.” — Thomas Finger, Christian Century, May 20, 2008 (Sanford Lakoff)

“This work is highly recommended for the upper level student, professor, and churchman or churchwoman seeking a deeper understanding of these important topics. Truly a challenging work.” –Catholic Library World (Sanford Lakoff)

"As with most creative theological proposals, readers likely will find much with which to disagree. Yet, if one takes the time to engage and not simply dismiss, this volume will pay handsome dividends…Those interested in ecclesial theology will find in this volume much worth contemplating and an able dialogue partner."
Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology

About the Author

John D.Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamon, was previously Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Glasgow and Visiting Professor at King's College, London. He is the author of Communion and Otherness (2006), and has been a major Orthodox contributor to modern ecumenical discussion.
Paul McPartlan is Carl J. Peter Professor of Systematic Theology and Ecumenism at the Catholic University of America.

The Rt. Hon. and Most Reverend Rowan Williams is Archbishop of Canterbury. He was formerly Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford and Archbishop of Wales.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury T&T Clark; 1 edition (January 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0567031489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0567031488
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,210,265 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By ecclesial hypostasis on June 25, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Communion and Otherness is the follow-up volume to Zizoulas' earlier work Being as Communion. BAC argued for the basis of genuine unity between God, people and in the church on the basis of a personalist ontology where unity is not in the 'substance' of God or shared beliefs but in the seeking of a unique person to make their personhood real by communion in love. In CAO, he takes on the task of describing how that unity is balanced by a genuine 'otherness' in relationships, that only a true person can allow for 'difference' and 'distance' from another without 'division'. This also has implications for our relation to the environment, as an 'other' for whom we must care. Zizioulas is strongly invested in a Cappadocian formulation of the Father as the monarch and cause of the Trinity, which I am still not sure that I accept, but he does make a convincing case for the need for a personal basis to all reality, both within and without the Trinity. He also takes time to rebut criticisms that his theological framework is really existentialism in Orthodox dress. I believe that Zizioulas has the best response that I have seen to the challenge of modern atheism. A thoroughly practical and illuminating work of theological reflection, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Aquinas on October 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Metropolitan John Zizioulas is an important person in the Orthodox world, heading up at the moment the Orthodox delegation meeting with the Roman delegation in Cyprus to discuss the role of the Pope in the first millennium of Christianity. Prior to this book, he was known for his magnum opus: "Being and Communion". This work is a complementary volume emphasising the difference between the persons that exists right at the heart of the Trinity. I think what is most fascinating about this book is that it brings home to us the extraordinary wisdom of the Fathers, in this case, the Cappadocian Fathers. In he West, brought up on Newman's development of doctrine, we are inclined to assume sometimes that our understanding of the Truth has been enhanced by the passing of time. If anything, this book shows that this may in some cases be simply untrue. Thus, one comes away with a degree of astonishment of the Cappadocian Fathers' grasp of the hidden mystery of the Trinity.

Father as Monarchia

I was particularly taken by the discussion on the Father as Monarchia of the Trinity, a concept which Zizioulas argues hard for. He takes the view that in the West since Augustine, the One "substance"of God has been given two important a place, as if the "substance" somehow precedes the persons of the Trinity. My knowledge is insufficient to agree or to disagree with him on this point.

Communion generating otherness

Whereas, "Being as Communion" was all about not surprising God as communion, here we have a difference take, namely: the absoluteness of otherness: "The Father, Son and the Spirit are absolutely different" and "Communion does not threaten otherness: it generates it".
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I've heard a lot of Zizoulas prior to choosing this book. Endorsed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who is a hero to me,
"Communion and Otherness" is a profound theology that addresses our difficulty in fully seeing the "other" as worthy. The book was part of a major discussion and discernment entered into by a council of Islamic clerics, Anglican, and I believe Eastern Orthodox church leaders. I freely admit the author's style is very dense and requires a complete concentration for those of us who do not have
at least a Masters of Divinity degree. However, it has made waves in our churches who see we have a place in the ancient tradition and historic church. Its a slow read for me, but already I'm seeing its a beautiful theology and I will take my time to ponder over the words.
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By Steven J Rhudy on July 3, 2015
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