- File Size: 2016 KB
- Print Length: 194 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0801026520
- Publisher: Baker Academic; 2 edition (October 1, 2003)
- Publication Date: October 1, 2003
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B007P49XYS
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #907,231 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective Kindle Edition
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Daniel Clendenin's _Eastern Orthodox Christianity_ has the great merit of introducing the "fourth major religion" to Americans in a reader-friendly and remarkably accurate (for an outsider) way. Other introductions to Orthodoxy are just as good (e.g., Timothy Ware's _The Orthodox Church_), but they're written by insiders. Clendenin is an evangelical Protestant who spent some years teaching in Moscow and absorbing the doctrines and liturgy of Orthodoxy. He writes with a great deal of sensitivity and sympathy.
Clendenin begins with a short history of the Eastern Orthodox Church and its break with the Western Latin Church. Then he focuses on its doctrine, dealing chapter-by-chapter with its understanding of God, the importance of icons and incarnationism, pneumatology, and theological anthropology. He concludes with a couple of chapters that spell out his reservations about Orthodoxy, and his reasons for remaining a Protestant, in spite of his agreement with many aspects of Orthodoxy. (An earlier reviewer who criticized Clendenin's "uncritical approach" apparently skipped these chapters.)
Clendenin is particularly good in his discussion of apophasis, and his analysis of Orthodoxy's skepticism of rational "worded" theology and its embrace and celebration of mystery. His chapter on anthropology, in which he focuses on theosis--a much neglected Christian fundamental here in the West--is also masterful.
The chapter on icons isn't as well thought-through. A Protestant confused about the significance of icons for Orthodox Christians isn't likely to get a great deal of clarification here. Clendenin also occasionally cites Patristic quotations already cited by secondary authors, rather than going to the original texts themselves, and this is a bit troubling. But it must also be pointed out that one of the remarkably refreshing features of his book is his generous quotations of early Greek Fathers who aren't often studied in the West.
All in all, Clendenin's book is an invaluable resource for outsiders interested in the "fourth major religion" in this country. Highly recommended, particularly when read along the accompanying anthology _Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader_.
Considering that Clendenin has been and still is a Presbyterian, it is very assuring to read this book and realize how non-polemical and theologically un-biased it is. A great companion for this read is Clendenin's other book "Eastern Orthodox Theology - A Contemporary Reader."
This book is written from a Protestant and Western perspective. Basically Clendenin tries to explain Eastern Orthodoxy to the average Western man and woman or your average Protestant churchgoer. A lot of this introduction has to do with the cultural and mystery/mystic-driven aspect of Orthodoxy.
He starts the book with two chapters on church history, a great foundation necessary to understand the early development, isolation, and ethos of Orthodoxy.
The following four chapters are discussions and explanations of four important aspects of the Orthodox faith and theology:
3) Apophatic theology and the mystery of God,
4) Christ's image and the use and meaning of icons in Orthodoxy,
5) On the authority of Scripture and Christian Tradition, and
6) Theosis - a very Orthodox term and concept.
The last chapter (#7 - "Hermeneutics of Love") presents balanced analysis and questions challenging the Orthodox believer as well as the Protestant Christian. This chapter is the one where I had the most to learn from.
As a result of reading this book and the companion I have a much better understanding of Orthodoxy (as a Protestant Christian) and have things to talk about with my Orthodox fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Other books I would recommend on the topic of Orthodoxy are Timothy (or Kallistos) Ware - "Orthodox Church" and especially "Orthodox Way."
Compared to most Portestants who examine the Orthodox faith, Clendenin seems to "get it." He is respectful, if not appreciative of the Orthodox liturgical expierence.He is aptly able to inform others on how the Orthodox Church understands scripture and tradition as the "witness of teh Spirit." His chapter on theosis is very good and his last chapter tries to evaluate the Orthodox perspective.
Like another reviewer, I ended up converting to the faith a few months later. If a Protetsant wants to get an idea of Orthodoxy, but does not want to read works by Orthodox Christians, then this is a good place to start.