- Paperback: 474 pages
- Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (December 13, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1444337319
- ISBN-13: 978-1444337310
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.9 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #716,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture 1st Edition
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"As a handbook for what would be considered the traditional Orthodox position on matters of Christian belief, thought, and praxis, it is reliable, with relatively few omissions, and well written." (CHURCH HISTORY, June 2009)
“The volume's detailed, comprehensive treatment will require and repay a careful reading. Summing Up: Essential.” (Choice, April 2009)
Throughout he writes with passion, deep sensitivity, and a wonderful evocative clarity.” (Logos, May 2009)
"[The book] will help the Orthodox to a deeper understanding of the riches of their faith and will introduce the non-Orthodox to fresh ways of thinking about their faith, and both to a renewed engagement with the life of the church." (Ecclesiastical History, April 2009)
"McGuckin's hope that his book may contribute to the dialogue between East and West deserves to be realised." (Church Times, October 2008)
From the Back Cover
A comprehensive study of Eastern Orthodoxy – its historical development and theology – The Orthodox Church is also an engaging assessment of Orthodoxy’s political role in today’s secularized Western world. By tracing Orthodoxy’s roots in Christian antiquity, and the formation of its biblical, doctrinal, and spiritual culture, the book explores and explains the riches of Eastern Christian traditions. Scholarly, timely, and always thought-provoking, The Orthodox Church provides Orthodoxy with the long-awaited voice to engage in a meaningful dialogue with contemporary Western culture.
Written by one of the leading Orthodox theologians in the English-speaking world, The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture will unlock the deep mysteries of Eastern Christianity to Westerners.
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This book is written in a very British style of English. Thus, it relies on a lot of rhetoric and imagery to enhance his points, and thus states in three pages what an American text might say in a paragraph or two. The points and facts are there, and you can learn a lot from the Orthodox church, but if you were looking to a solid, direct, and concise introduction to Orthodoxy, this might not be for you.
On the positive, it does cover a wide range of topics, and he approaches Orthodoxy from a modern perspective. This is probably due to his own conversion from Anglicanism to Orthodoxy.
As an endnote, don't take this review to be a complete criticism. I like the book and it's quite quotable. It's definitely something I'd recommend for someone interested in Orthodoxy. My personal preference is simply for something more direct and less "flowery."
Rather than review each section, which would read like a summary of Orthodox theology, I will highlight several sections that show his uniquness/insight. The section on the Church and the Orthodox view of non-Orthodox was a sane and welcome balance to much current thinking. Ware bases his discussion primarily around--not Cyprian--but St Basil's Letter to Amphiliocus. Basil notes (repeatedly, I might add, in his letters, though McGuckin only highlights one of them) that the dividing line is not between "Orthodox vs. non-Orthodox," but "Orthodox compared with multiple Christian communities who are not equal in terms of division."
McGuckin has a nice section defending the concept of our Holy Beloved Emperor. Given that modernity has been one violent negation of monarchy, this is a bold move on McGuckin's part(literally). McGuckin does not naively wish for the return of a Russian Tsar, but he does not that almost all modern options in politics have failed miserably; thus so, positing monarchism as an epistemological critique and pointer towards renewal has many promising dividends for Christians.
Other chapters end on these similar notes: McGuckin presents the Orthodox position firmly and without compromise, but he isn't a jerk about it and leaves room for the reader to calmly disagree (as I do on a few topics). Is it worth getting? Not really. The price, like all academic literature, is prohibitive to the common mortal and truth be told, you really aren't getting any new information, only the same information better-presented.