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PhilokaliaThe Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts: Selections Annotated & Explained (SkyLight Illuminations) Paperback – August 1, 2006
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"Filled with centuries of wisdom.... Wonderfully explains and simplifies this difficult [text]."
―Religious Book Club
"An invaluable treasury of wisdom…. Offers a simple guide to the way (through one's heart) and means (through prayer) of arriving from the spiritual starting-point (of repentance in the heart) to the wonderful destination (of stillness and salvation) found in the love of divine beauty."
―John Chryssavgis, author of Light through Darkness: The Orthodox Tradition
“Successfully acquaints the reader with [the Philokalia's] origins, context, import and influence.”
“Fully accessible to professional theologians, lay Christians and spiritualists alike. An invaluable addition to spirituality and Christian literature shelves.”
―Midwest Book Review
“Like water in the desert … invites us not only to go deeper into the life of prayer but takes us off the treadmill of endless self-invention. A clearly and beautifully annotated text that will make the Philokalia accessible to a new generation of readers. A gift for our time.”
―Fr. Alan Jones, dean, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco; author of Soul Making and The Soul’s Journey
“[An] authoritative resource…. Will go far toward making one of the great treasures of Eastern Christian spirituality accessible to followers of Christ in the West.”
―Frederica Mathewes-Green, author of The Illumined Heart and Facing East
“Eastern Orthodox Christian teachings on prayer, watchfulness and stillness have much to say to the Quaker tradition.”
About the Author
Allyne Smith is an Orthodox priest who writes and lectures on Orthodox theology, ethics, liturgy and spirituality, both in the U.S. and abroad. He teaches theology at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
G. E. H. Palmer also translated Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart.
Philip Sherrard was a poet, translator, literary scholar, theologian and interpreter of the Orthodox tradition.
Bishop Kallistos Ware is a renowned Orthodox theologian, author and translator of the Philokalia.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
So I found this book a wonderful way of approaching the Philokalia. It has brief snippets from the texts -- usually two to four sentences at a time -- that express a single idea of the original author. On the facing page, the editor provides annotations that help you understand the context and intent of the passage. Reading a page or two of the selections can serve as a daily devotional that exposes you to the more mystical Eastern Orthodox flavor of Christianity.
You can't really say that you've read the Philokalia if all you read is this annotated selection, but you may well be able to say that you have been enriched by Eastern Orthodox thought.
When I saw this volume, Philokalia: The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts - Selections Annotated & Explained, in a bookstore a few years ago, I thought this was what I needed. I figured with the format of short quotes on the right page, and annotated commentaries on the facing page, I could zip through this book in a few days. Wrong. Even in small doses, this is strong medicine. So I ended up reading a page or two a day, every once in a while over the course of several months.
The seven sections in this book cover repentance, the heart, prayer, the Jesus Prayer, the passions, stillness and theosis. Every quote is a gem and worth the price of the book. Anyone who wants to get to the heart of Orthodoxy, theology in the sense of "knowing God," this is an excellent way to go.
I have minor quibbles with the book, one is the language in places is very archaic. One can usually figure out what the translators mean, but they come up with some interesting words. The other is the use of the word "intellect" for "nous." I'd prefer to use the word "nous," which is what most other Orthodox writers do these days.
Other than that, I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to go deeper in their Christian walk. It's for all Christians, not just Orthodox. And by all means, take it slowly.
The most immediate link from the Philokalia to The Way of the Pilgrim is the hesychia, or the stillness, created by perpetual prayer. In this case it is the Jesus Prayer. This prayer's focus is repentance as the way back to communion with God. The Greek infinitive `hesychazo' i.e., to be still (quiet). Noumina does not like jitter and buzz, all a waste of energy. To glow with transcendent light (knowledge), the heart must be open. To be open the heart must be still.
As so often in Greek classical philosophy (look, another philo), the key is intellectual, in this case the key to repentance. For these thinkers, sin and repentance fall largely in the domain of the intellect, of reason. The Greek connection to the spiritual is numinous, not so much the emotional:
There is within us, on the noetic plane, a warfare tougher than that on the plane of the senses. -- Philotheos
Even the mystical is indeed performatively reasonable, even in the repetitious hesychasm. Sin, therefore, is not effectively the emotional and hysterical subject so many seem to enjoy it to be.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is annotated with side notes thankfully. My spiritual Father protested that I wasn't ready for this but after seeing it is a learning version of the Philokalia he said its... Read morePublished 6 months ago by mike
This is a wonderful book full of historical information about the Orthodox church. I'm sure that it would be of interest to any person who is seeking knowledge about the Orthodox... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jay
A hefty tome that is more than the simple reading it appears to be on the outside. This book lends itself well to taking it slowly, reading bits at a time, and following through... Read morePublished 11 months ago by hmn
One of the comments by a reader was each sentence is a gem, but the overall effect is that it is unreadable. It's just too dense for the likes of me ...". Read morePublished on January 8, 2014 by Frosted Seagull
Although centuries old the inspired words of the Philokalia speak to us today, feeding and refreshing our spirits as they have for pilgrims since they were first penned. Read morePublished on June 21, 2013 by David French
This book arrived promptly and in new condition even though it was used! This is a great read for any follower of Jesus regardless of their background--protestant, catholic or... Read morePublished on January 6, 2013 by Susanne Herfurth
This book in a perfect companion to "The Way of the Pilgrim & the Pilgrim Continues His Way". It may be the best introduction to the five volume Philokalia available. Read morePublished on January 6, 2013 by AAALibrarian