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Orthodox Readings of Augustine Paperback – October 1, 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St Vladimirs Seminary Pr (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881413275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881413274
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The title of this book should read *Augustinian Readings of Orthodoxy.* The set up of this book was weird. It was published by an Orthodox Seminary, yet most of the authors were Roman Catholics and Augustinian Anglicans, I think. Most of the authors were quite critical of many Orthodox distinctives. I wonder if the editors/publisher thought all of these things through. While I don't want to dwell on this point too long, a few things bear mentioning. While published by an Orthodox seminary, the overall tone of the work is radically pro-Latin/Roman. The editors go out of their way to distance themselves from hard, recognizable Orthodox distinctives. For instance, they snub the work of Fr John Romanides, Vlad Lossky, and Florovsky to a lesser extent--noting how we have moved beyond "those neo-Palamites." Okay, if they are so wrong, refuting them should have been so easy. Where's the refutation? Anyway, I felt I had to say that.

Contents of the book:
Notwithstanding, most of the essays were good. Demacopolas gives an interesting survey of Augustinian studies in the past few centuries. He gives particular notice to the neo-Palamites, noting that they have done the most in framing the Augustinian debate as a fierce East vs. West battle. Interestingly, almost all of the authors in the book, even the pro-Orthodoxy ones, will critique this move of neo-Palamism. However, none of the essayists actually *refute* the neo-palamist arguments.

Some of the essays are just weird. Flogaus argues that Palamas was influenced by Augustine. While that's shocking, Flogaus certainly cites his sources and is fairly convincing. Except Flogaus doesn't seem to think that he is actually convincing? It's like "Yeah, Palamas borrowed from St Augustine, but not really." I am not kidding.
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Format: Paperback
The past century has seen a trend in Eastern Orthodox theologians who have attempted to distance their own theology from that of the west with historical revisionism that questions St. Augustine as part of the authentic Christian tradition. For a good detailed study of this trend see, The Revival of Political Hesychasm in Contemporary Orthodox Thought: The Political Hesychasm of John Romanides and Christos Yannaras. But is Augustine's work truly a divergence from that sacred tradition or are his detractors too quick to dismiss his influence on the east? This is the question asked at the Orthodox Readings of Augustine conference held in 2007. The intent of the conference was ecumenical in that it sought to find the common Augustinian ground between east and west. It is encouraging that an Eastern Orthodox publisher has taken up this collection but it is unfortunate that most of the essay authors are from the western tradition.

Still, the case for Augustinian influence in the east that directly challenges the assertions of those Father Payne referred to as "political hesychasts" is thorough, scholarly, and convincing. The articles range somewhat in depth with many that are difficult to follow without a good background in the ancient languages as well as philosophy. Other articles are more conversational and easier to follow; professor Carol Harrison's article, "De Profundis: Augustine's Reading of Orthodoxy" is such an article, not only as a good play on the book title but as a refreshing understanding of sacred tradition as a living tradition.
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Not sure if I just wasn't in the mood, or if these were too theological for simple me. There are some interesting essays, and the topics covered seem comprehensive, but I found it too difficult a slog as a read for interest. Perhaps better suited to academic use and those with more knowledge and education than myself.
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