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Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church (Contemporary Greek Theologians Series, No 4) Paperback – March 1, 1997
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It works on several levels, bringing together what are oftentimes considered disparate strands of thought - philosophical, theological and pastoral - into a thickly weaved narrative that shows why an Orthodox understanding of the Trinity as the communion of the three persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is...necessary. For Zizioulas, this communion of the Trinity is the model to be embodied not only by the Church as the communion of all churches, but by the very person as well: we only are who we are when we are in communion with God and one another.
The title of the book is no mistake; Zizioulas puts himself in dialogue with some of the great philosophers of the 20th century (such as Heidegger and Levinas, the latter of whom he praises, particularly his work Totality and Inifinity). The fundamental point that Zizioulas raises about Being is that in the eucharist - in the act of communion itself! - the essential and the temporal become fused into a living harmony. Such was - and is - Christ, and such also is to be the Church and the Christian, participating in the eternal life of God while in the here and now. Being is not static, but in time and in relation.Read more ›
"This interpretation represents a misinterpretation of the Patristic theology of the Trinity. Among the Greek Fathers the unity of God, the one God, and the ontological 'principle' or 'cause' of the being and life of God does not consist in the one substance of God but in the hypostasis, that is, the person of the Father. The one God is not the one substance but the Father, who is the cause both of the generation of the Son and the procession of the Spirit. Consequesntly, the ontological 'principle' of God is traced back, once again, to the person." (page40-41)
This line of thought runs thru the whole text, linking personhood with being in the ontological sense. Moreover, he draws various ecclesiological conclusions about he role of the bishop in the church catholic. He builds a eucharistic ecclesiology around some of his reading of the Greek Patristic tradition that fits well with much of modern Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic thought.
This book has had a very wide influence among theologians.Read more ›
But it is one of the few that I still remember pretty well, years later.
I'm in no position to say how well Zizioulas represents "orthodox" Orthodoxy, but I can say that in my opinion this is the best presentation I've ever read of Trinitarian theology, ecclesiology, and theological anthropology. Those are some massive areas, and it's remarkable that one book covered them so well.
I'd also recommend Lars Thunberg's study of Maximus the Confessor in "Microcosm and Mediator," as another one of those books that has stuck with me for a very long time. It touches on a lot of these same issues among others, showing that at the very least, Zizioulas is not "out of line."
However, both of these books are quite hard for most people (me included) to read. For a simpler introduction to modern Orthodox ecclesiology, I'd direct you to Khomiakov's essay "On the Western Confessions of Faith," available in a book edited by Schmemann, "Ultimate Questions." Of course, Bishop Kallistos (Timothy Ware) writes very clearly about all this and more in, for instance, "The Orthodox Way." A deeper, yet still crystal clear and refreshing spring is Olivier Clement's "The Roots of Christian Mysticism."
(Mea Culpa / Caveat Lector: I am not Orthodox.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book. Thanks.Published 20 months ago by Awesome! 5 stars. This game gets the gray matter pumping. Very enjoyable. lithelilith
It's an Orthodox classic with a great take on the concept of "person", both divine and human.Published 24 months ago by Dallas Michael Wolf
This book is perhaps the best that I've seen or even heard of as far as attempting to explain the Orthodox ethos and "philosophy" in a way that is accessible to western... Read morePublished on March 20, 2013 by Nathan Simmons
I read this book last year in our Orthodox Book Club and it still sticks with me. The phrase "in all my relations" comes to mind-Mitakuye Oyasin in Lakota Sioux tongue. Read morePublished on May 27, 2011 by Dan E. Nicholas
While not strictly a book on the Trinity, but on Ecclesiology, it contains arguably one of the most important conceptual developments on the Trinity written in the 20th century... Read morePublished on April 3, 2009 by Derrick A. Peterson
This is a fine piece of systematic theology. Zizioulas builds his reflections on personhood, the church and the ministry on the basis of communion. Read morePublished on February 16, 2008 by ecclesial hypostasis
This is an excellent book. Well thought out, and solid theologically. It was literally a paradigm shifting book for me. Read morePublished on April 3, 2006 by Amazon Customer