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178 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, Comprehensible and Outstanding Introduction
This is the best single-volume introduction to Eastern Christianity currently available. Bishop Ware's approach covers virtually all aspects of the Eastern Church -- history, theology, sacramentality, church organization, and the Orthodox diaspora with a special emphasis on rendering Orthodoxy comprehensible to Western Christian readers. Ware's approach is very...
Published on May 14, 1998 by Kelli

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Orthodox Church has a long way to go in producing usefull English material.
In the middle of reading and it is difficult to follow. It seems to jump back and forth when giving the historical development of the orthodox churches. Would help if there were some time lines in there with major events noted. History section does not seem to flow in a logical manner. Surely could have given a summary list of people/dates and rolls they played along...
Published 10 months ago by Dalian


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178 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, Comprehensible and Outstanding Introduction, May 14, 1998
This review is from: The Orthodox Church: New Edition (Paperback)
This is the best single-volume introduction to Eastern Christianity currently available. Bishop Ware's approach covers virtually all aspects of the Eastern Church -- history, theology, sacramentality, church organization, and the Orthodox diaspora with a special emphasis on rendering Orthodoxy comprehensible to Western Christian readers. Ware's approach is very ecumenical, and he frankly and even-handedly addresses the issues that unite and divide the Christian East and West. Because of his own dual background as a Westerner (he teaches at Oxford) who chose to become Orthodox, Ware is particularly well-situated to explain the wondrous and beautiful mysteries of Eastern Christianity to Westerners. While the book is in the nature of a broad overview, it actually covers the issues addressed in an impressive level of depth. The bibliography is also a great starting point for further reading and research, broken down helpfully by topic. This book is a must-read for anyone wishing to acqaint themselves with the riches of the Eastern Christian tradition.
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81 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Number ONE book on Eastern Orthodoxy, January 31, 2004
By 
Volkert Volkersz (Snohomish County, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Orthodox Church: New Edition (Paperback)
"The Orthodox Church," by Timothy (Bishop Kallistos) Ware, is (and has been for decades) the number one book in the English language on the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith. It appears on virtually all recommended reading lists and bibliographies. (Not surprisingly, the number two book is "The Orthodox Way," by the same author.)
The cover states that this title is "a clear, detailed introduction to the Orthodox Church written for the non-Orthodox as well as for Orthodox Christians who wish to know more about their own tradition." I couldn't have said it better myself.
This volume is divided into two sections. Part one covers the history of the Church from the beginnings at Pentecost through Byzantium (the Seven Councils and the Great Schism), then the conversion of the Slavs, the Church under Islam, the Russian Church, and on into the twentieth century. Especially sobering is the author's summary of events surrounding the eastern European Orthodox Churches under communism. Coverage of the growth of the Orthodox Church in North America helps explain the current state of things.
Part two discusses faith and worship and covers such important topics as: Holy Tradition, God and humankind, the theology and structure of the Church, and detailed explanations of various components of Orthodox worship (including sacraments, feasts, fasts and private prayer). The final chapter, entitled "The Orthodox Church and the Reunion of Christians," explains various views within the Church concerning the ecumenical movement and the World Council of Churches, and highlights dialogues with various church bodies including Roman Catholics, Old Catholics, Anglicans, and other Eastern Christian bodies such as the Coptic Church and the Armenian Orthodox Church.
An extensive, annotated list of further reading, organized by topics, such as "The Early Church and Byzantium," "Orthodox Theology," and "Liturgical Worship," will be extremely helpful for those who wish to dig more deeply into specific areas of interest.
While this may indeed be the definitive introductory book on Eastern Orthodoxy, it would certainly be more accessible to readers with some background in the Bible, Church history, or with some experience in liturgical churches. As the author suggests at one point, there is no better introduction to Orthodoxy than to actually attend an Orthodox Divine Liturgy. Those who have attended Orthodox services (or who have been members of the Church for a while) are likely to be those who are most drawn to this excellent book.
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86 of 93 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Magnificent Intro to the Orthodox Faith", February 8, 2001
By 
Johannes Platonicus (South Bend, Indiana) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Orthodox Church: New Edition (Paperback)
As a Non-Orthodox Christian, I found Timothy Ware's edition of the "Orthodox Church" very helpful in coming to glimpse with the historical and doctrinal aspects of the church.
Part One of this book displays a well-defined and compact discourse concerning the Early Church, the Church of the Seven Councils, and the struggling Church in a state of siege and persecution.
Part Two makes evident the faith and worship of the Orthodox Church. In this section, Timothy Ware discusses the principles behind Orthodox Liturgy, the Sacraments, and God's relations with the individuals that constitute the invisible body of the Church. As a reader I discovered the the little things that engendered big friction between the East and the West. Also I found valuable information about the rise of communist Russia, the internal and external dissent between Orthodox Churches during this period, and the prevalence of a faith that has remained nearly unchanged throughout the ups and downs of its long history.
So I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in Church History, or for someone who simply wishes to look at the Orthodox Church from the pen of an Orthodox writter.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Other Christianity, June 11, 2003
By 
Labarum (Philadelphia, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Orthodox Church: New Edition (Paperback)
There has been a great surge of interest in Eastern Orthodoxy in recent years. Partly owing to the turn towards liturgical worship and historic Christianity by disenchanted Evangelicals, many have explored this great Christian tradition with a sizable number swelling its ranks. Almost without exception, one of the starting points on any such journey is The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware (now Bishop Kallistos Ware). Books listed as entry points for conversion are often polemical works but this is not the case here. Instead, Ware calmly states the position of Orthodoxy on issues facing the Church without any hint of rancor towards other Christian traditions. It is a mature understanding of the Faith of the Church that is Ware's greatest strength.
The irenic approach should not lead one to believe Ware is indifferent towards ecclesial affiliations. It is quite apparent he holds Orthodoxy as the one true Christian Faith. However, this does not lead him to wholesale condemnations of Christians in other traditions, but rather a clear contrast of the Orthodox position to those of the Western Churches.
Originally written when Orthodoxy had few converts in the West, Ware (who became Orthodox in 1958) gives an overview of Orthodox Christianity for those in the West who might find its beliefs and practices alien.
Intertwining theological and historical developments in the Church, Ware gives a highly readable analysis of the development of Orthodox doctrine and spirituality. The book is divided into two parts. The first of these presents an Orthodox view of Church history. Beginning with the early Church and working his way through the Ecumenical Councils, the spread of Christianity throughout Europe, the Islamic conquests, the Great Schism, the witness of the Russian Church, and the tumultuous events of the twentieth century, he presents an enlightening view of the development of doctrine and worship that is free from the vindictiveness that plagues many treatments.
The second part of the book is an overview of faith and worship in the Orthodox Church. Covering all the important aspects of the Orthodox faith, Ware gives clear expositions of Orthodox doctrine and points out the contrasts with Western Christianity - both Protestant and Roman Catholic. Included are such controversial topics as the role of tradition, salvation, and ecumenism. Ware never displays any animosity towards other Christians but insists that any union must be based upon truth and he believes this is held in its fullness by Orthodoxy.
One criticism leveled at this book is Ware's supposedly superficial treatment of Orthodoxy. However, this charge is quite unfair considering the intended audience. The Orthodox Church was written for a Western audience with no prior historical connection to the Orthodox faith. Yes, there are works with more depth (including some by Ware himself), but these are likely to confuse Western Christians. This book may thus be considered as a prologomena for future studies in Orthodoxy. Coming from a Western Christian upbringing and now an Orthodox bishop, Ware has a firm grasp of how to communicate the Orthodox faith to a Western audience. The fact that so many prominent converts cite The Orthodox Church as a turning point in their spiritual journey is evidence to its effectiveness. As an introduction to the riches of Orthodoxy, Ware's The Orthodox Church is unsurpassed.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic introduction to Orthodoxy, December 11, 1999
By 
M.S. Brown (San Francisco CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Orthodox Church: New Edition (Paperback)
If you are interested in a foundational understanding of the Orthodox Christian faith, start here. Father Ware does an excellent job in tracing the history of the Orthodox religion from the beginning days to the post-Berlin wall times. While some of the history is difficult to follow, it establishes an underpinning of why the Orthodox religion has endured virtually unchanged from the days of Acts.
While the first half of the book deals with history, the second the the real meal here: Father Ware discusses the major tenants of what it means to be Orthodox. While his book didn't touch me as personally as Frederica Matthewes-Green's, it convinced me that there's much more to the Orthodox faith than I ever imagined.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Solid Primer On Orthodoxy, September 3, 2001
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This review is from: The Orthodox Church: New Edition (Paperback)
Bishop Ware has written an excellent text on the Orthodox Church. It is a solid primer as he deals with the history and the faith and worship of the church.
The historical setting is solid and for the most part entertaining and interesting. He touches on the major highlights without overburdening the laity or reader who many are probably reading about this subject for the first time. After all, that seems to be the audience he is targeting.
The second part, on faith and worship, is concise and simple. He throws in the major doctines of Orthodox beliefs in which they have in common with the rest of Christianity as well as some of the beliefs particular for this Eastern expression of the religion:i.e. essence and energies, apopthatic (negative theology), image and likeness. Further, he shows that this is not a monolithic movement in areas such as what makes up the Church.
All the churches are mentioned and briefly discussed. Many saints are also mentioned and one comes away with a great appreciation of this historic Body of Christ.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!!!, June 12, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Orthodox Church: New Edition (Paperback)
In his book, Bishop Ware offers not only a historical look at the Eastern Orthodox Church (singular), but a spiritual one as well. As a Melkite Greek Catholic I must confess a certain penchant for Orthodox writings (as most uniates do), and regard his grace as the foremost authority on the Orthodox Church living today. For any one who still may be confused in their association with the Eastern Church as nothing more than a relic of the past, I would recommend that they read this book. I would pass that admonition on to any lay Orthodox Christian who wants to supplement their knowledge of their church; as well as to any Roman Catholic who assumes that after Christ's Ascension, there was the papcy. There was, in fact, a pentarchy. An ecclesial fraternity of bishops existed. Such books are a wonderful reminder that our religion needs to be not only a witness to our theology--but to history as well.
Read this book!!!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable resource for understanding historical Orthodoxy, May 25, 2001
This review is from: The Orthodox Church: New Edition (Paperback)
Timothy (now Bishop Kallistos) Ware's book, The Orthodox Church, is a comprehensive, detailed, yet easy-to-read analysis of the history of Christianity, and in particular of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Having read the book more than 5 years ago for the first time, it was instrumental in my understanding of Christianity from its roots and in my eventual entrance into the Orthodox Church. But more than that, I find it an invaluable resource for use in Christian education (Sunday school and adult catechetical classes). Of particular interest is the thematic approach which anlayzes the periods of persecution faced by the Church throughout history, from ancient Rome to the Ottoman Empire to Soviet Russia. The book is balanced in its treatment of many of the historical issues between the churches of East and West, and in general presents the reader with a robust fact base and insightful historical analysis from which to draw his/her own conclusions about the relationship between the various churches in modern Christendom. A highly recommendable book for anyone looking for a serious yet not too heavy journey through the history of the Church, whether Orthodox or heterodox.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Start to Understanding the Subject, September 13, 2001
By 
Thomas F. Ogara (Jacksonville, FL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Orthodox Church: New Edition (Paperback)
When Bishop Ware first wrote this book, which was around 1970, it was truly a useful introduction to the Orthodox Church for those who know nothing about the subject. Since then, it suffers the sad fate of familiarity. Most educated Orthodox that I have met have read it, including probably almost all Orthodox clergy that are literate in English, and it has been criticized considerably in some quarters since then, particularly the sections on Orthodox eschatology, the sacraments and ecumenism. Sometimes these complaints are unfortunately and unfairly leveled based on the fact that Bishop Ware is an Anglican convert.
Given that Orthodoxy, by its nature, has no infallible living authority on what it teaches, there is going to be dispute over what is "correct." I believe that Bishop Ware wrote this book mainly to explain his faith to other Christians, and it should be appreciated on that basis; it was meant to be a starting point, not a definitive explanation of Orthodoxy. It is a good place to start on the subject, rather than with the spate of books on Orthodox spirituality that have been in vogue in the last ten years or so. If that's what you want, I highly recommend it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to the Orthodox Church, April 17, 2003
By 
Seth Aaron Lowry (Olean, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Orthodox Church: New Edition (Paperback)
In most Christian circles, the Orthodox Church is known as the forgotten church because many Christians do not even know of it's existence. Coming from an evangelical background I was in the same situation, until I attended college and was able to learn about this mysterious Church. Because of this sparked interest, I decided to pick up Bishop Ware's book and read it to discover more about the history and beliefs of the Orthodox Church.
Basically, this book is a beginner's guide to the Orthodox Church. Ware begins by discussing the history and and events surrounding this 2,000 year old Christian institution. I believe that Ware's appraisal and handling of history was fair and accurate. When it came to discussing the various schisms that erupted between East and West he was, I believe, very fair and accurate. When discussing the root and causes of the permanent schism of 1054, he did not try to blame the Pope as some do, but instead showed that it was a tragic misunderstanding and lack of thorough communication that led to these events.
In the second part of the book, Ware discussed Orthodox theology and beliefs. Everything from the nature of the Trinity, the Saints and Mary, the Sacraments, the Word of God, and spiritual life are examined. I liked how he handled the whole filioque controversy because it really shows that the Orthodox Church believes that dual procession is not the correct view. I never really understood on what basis they formulated their objections until I read this book. Also, Ware's discussion of sin and the fall was intriguing because I never knew the East avoided the Augustinian/Pelagian controversy.
Finally, in the last part Ware attempts to show how the Orthodox Church views the other church bodies around her. Without a doubt, the church the Orthodox share the closest heritage with is the Catholic Church. Ware states that the East is willing to grant the Pope the position of primacy and honor that he deserves, but they are not willing to sacrifice the integrity of the other great Patriarchal sees at the expense of Roman jurisdictional claims. Also, Ware shows that the Orthodox Church has much in common with Anglicans, Lutherans, and other Protestant groups. Although there are many barriers which separate them, there is also hope for healing and reunification.
All in all, an excellent introduction to the Orthodox Church. The only downside is that this book leaves you desiring more, but I guess that's why Bishop Ware has written other books which examine Orthodoxy on a deeper level.
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The Orthodox Church: New Edition
The Orthodox Church: New Edition by Timothy Ware (Paperback - June 1, 1993)
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