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Eastern Orthodoxy through Western Eyes Paperback – October 31, 2002
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Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Despite that underlying presupposition, I found the book quite helpful in understanding and admiring the Orthodox position. I like how the author identified some key paradigms in thinking that differ between east and west and then building on those to identify the effects of those differences. More often than not, the differences are in matters of emphasis - for instance, is truth an abstract concept found by the individual or is it the person of Jesus and his work in the community of his people? Mr. Fairbairn has done a great service in identifying and expounding on these key differences that have developed over the centuries since Constantine. I think this book is helpful for anyone of either persuasion to find understanding and challenge in their own Christian life as well.
Overall, I liked Fairbairn's book. It was informative, and was willing to do some very fair comparative work between Eastern and Western approaches (while admitting the entire time that such is, in fact, an over simplification to a great degree). However, I fear that his intended audience and the level of theological understanding required to read the book may be somewhat at odds. The book appears (though in all fairness does not claim) to be a lay person's introduction to Orthodox theology. This, however, is not the case at all. One must already be somewhat informed about Western theology's terminology and approach for this book to make much sense, as Fairbairn does not shy away from using theological jargon rather freely throughout. So, if you are not already familiar with theological vocabulary, this is probably a book left set aside for now. That said, if you are familiar with theological terminology, then this is a great book for understanding, from a fair comparative standpoint, the major differences between Eastern and Western theological thought and spirituality.
In short, if you're looking for a good (though largely academic) comparison between Eastern and Western theology and an evaluation of what each can learn from the other, then this is a good choice. If you're looking for an exposition of Eastern Orthodoxy that a Western, theologically-uninformed layman can understand, you should look elsewhere.
It was good, but it isn't light reading. This book is for those who really want to a good introduction to Orthodoxy, but comes with an enlightening and challenging ending for what we do once we've learned that information.
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