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"It's great merit lies in its mastery and systematic exposition of the Eastern Church." The Guardian "The whole range of theology is passed under review in this little book in a masterly way." --The Expository Times
Far from dry theology, Lossky interacts with the Orthodox tradition with expertise knowledge and a genuine faith in the reality of the Father's activity in this world through His Son and Spirit, in the context of the Church. The book is worth buying just for the introduction, which outlines the meaning of theology in the Orthodox Church. Is Christian theology just neo-Platonism? Is God transcendant just because we are limited in our understanding? Is grace created or uncreated? Is deification (theosis) a hellenic leftover or the meaning of union in Christ? Why was Christ incarnate and what does the Holy Spirit do? What do we say about how God is in Himself and how God is in relation to creation? Lossky tackles these and other pertinent subjects in this masterpiece. You will not read this book and remain unchanged, not because Lossky is such an original and innovative thinker (he is that), but becasue Lossky faithfully interprets the Tradition. The rest of this review is taken from the jacket of the book itself. "Vladimir Lossky established himself as one of the most brilliant of Orthodox scholars in the years between his departure from Russia in 1923 and his death in 1958. His uncompromising faithfulness to Scriptural and patristic tradition, coupled with his constant concern for an articulate Orthodox witness in the West, make his works indispensable for an understanding of the theology of the Eastern Church today. In this classic study of Orthodox theology, Lossky states that 'in a certain sense all theology is mystical, in as much as it shows forth the divine mystery: the data of revelation...Read more ›
As my first encounter with theology in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, I was very surprised to be informed of its substantive divergence from the Roman Catholic tradition. Vladimir Lossky, an Orthodox theologian, notes that many individuals in the Orthodox and Catholic traditions--I would include myself here--roseately assume that the differences between the churches are few, minor, and even easily surmounted. Yet as he so wisely points out, the doctrinal differences between the churches are not superficial and, indeed, penetrate to the core of individual spirituality. This duality is deeply expressed by the Dominican Yves Congar, whom Lossky quotes in the introduction: "We have become different men." Mystical theology in the Catholic Church has developed along very different lines. In the Latin tradition, Eastern mysticism is interpreted in the context of the overall development of Western mysticism, so that mysticism in the Greek Church is conceived as the necessary foundation for the flowering of mysticism in the Latin Church. In addition, the Latin tradition has two distinctive traits. First, Western mysticism is notably individualistic, understood to be perfected in the rarefied experiences of figures such as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena, or St. John of the Cross. Second, the emergence of Aquinas' grand Aristotelian synthesis approximates the time of separation between the Western and Eastern Churches, so that mystical theology in the Catholic Church uses the vocabulary of Scholasticism, which almost never appears in the Greek tradition. In the Greek tradition, on the other hand, the mysticism of the first centuries is not seen as the seed but rather as the fruit.Read more ›
Vladimir Lossky's "Mystical Theology' is one of the most profound books ever written about Christianity. It is a superb volume for armchair theologians, clerics of every stripe, those seeking a greater understanding of God in Trinity and human nature, and those wishing a lucid explanation of the differences between the Holy Orthodox Church and more occidental, rational, and secular forms of Christianity.
Mystical Theology revolves around several themes such as God's Love, the centrality and inexplicability of Mystery, the importance of the early Church fathers (and mothers), and man's relation to the Godhead.
Lossky was one of the great apologists for Orthodoxy in the west from 1923-1958 and his scholarship is peerless. Reading Mystical Theology is profound and profoundly rewarding, but it takes effort. No; the book is NOT poorly written- it is clear. But the concepts presented cause one to go slow, to stop, to ponder, and to pray, sometimes for days.
Are you ready to think about the difference between Eastern and Western notions of Grace, about the three hypostases of the Trinity and how the Son is begotten of the Father while the Spirit proceeds from Him? Are you interested in St. Gregory of Nyssa's intriguing view of Hell and how that relates to the concepts of uncreated energy described by St. Gregory Palamas?
If so, you will just love this volume. It might even be life-changing for you! Man can never comprehend the Godhead, as Lossky himself points out, but this book will allow us to understand more than we otherwise ever would!