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Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity Paperback – March 15, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Adam A. J. DeVille is tenured associate professor of theology at the University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, Indiana; and the editor of Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press; 1st Edition edition (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0268026076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0268026073
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,619,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Edward M. Freeman on October 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Adam A.J. DeVille sets a goal to identify a common river of Patriarchal ecclesiology that flowed through both eastern and western Church(es). This common river has remained intact despite points of confusion and confluence with varied understandings of the Roman papacy by East and West during the second Christian millennium. DeVille is a recent graduate of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute [MASI] of Eastern Christian Studies at St. Paul University, Ottawa (Canada).

The book before us is a readable version of his doctoral dissertation from MASI, which is a principal crossroads of Byzantine/Roman Catholic and Orthodox studies in North America. Footnotes have been collated at the end of the book [164-235], and the bibliography is superb [236-64]. DeVille acknowledges Ukrainian Catholic protopresbyter as his chief promoter, along with Professors Catherine Clifford [Roman Catholic], Professor-Archpriest John Jillions [OCA], and Professor-Priest Thomas Fitzgerald [GOAA] as members of his dissertation jury [vii].

Despite a shared river of ecclesiology running through East and West, this river had already divided into respective East-West tributaries even prior to the Great Schism in 1054. Historical tributaries is a fact that receives adequate discussion in this text so that standard objections from "radical conservatives" [5] among Roman papacy defenders, and "radical rejectionists" [5-6] among Orthodox anti-ecumenists get a run for their money.

The author's task in this book is to recover both an ancient shared understanding of the Patriarchal institution in the East and West as well as explore divergences from the same. Of course, divergences increased and became magnified after the Great Schism.
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A really stimulating treatment of the continuing Great Schism. I will read this again at some point because I sort of raced through it due to upcoming tight spots in the personal time continuum. But there are a few things that stuck out, and I should point out that I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian.

First of all, the treatment regarding "what is a patriarchate" was really fascinating and presented in a way that was probably overdue. The Orthodox Churches have understood patriarchates in a pretty dualist way: we all know that there are patriarchates, we all know that "Moscow does this" while "Bucharest does that" while being content not to rise to the challenge of a definition. Thus, it's been unfair to call Rome "back" to something that is really as many somethings as there are patriarchates.

Secondly, the author detects what appears to be a "sliding scale" polity in the Armenian Church, and shows that the Armenian Church, on the one hand, has maintained its Orthodox faith assiduously but has, on the other hand, done so while making some rather dramatic adjustments due to its numerous (and often uncomfortable) historical realities. In short, the Armenians have learned to maintain and adapt almost simultaneously. Nonetheless, the "democratic" nature of their polity seems all bound up with being Armenian: its doubtful that such a construction could work if it were tried in the highly individualistic, multi-cultural milieu of American or Western Europe.

Third, DeVille suggests a jurisdictional re-tooling by Rome to include numerous Latin Patriarchates.
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Upon the purchase of this book, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I was really overwhelmed by the organization, precision and insight in a book that at first appears merely to be "a hypothetical" about a new way to approach the papacy. My review will try to connect this fine and laudably modest work (163 pages) to historical realities of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches as well.

(1.) The author is in the unfortunate position to try to speak with the voice of both Orthodoxy (often unable to speak for itself) and Catholicism (often incapable of allowing others to speak). He uses Pope John Paul II's unreciprocated ecumenical encyclical "Ut Unum Sint" as his point of departure.

(2.) Then, in irenic fashion (with no attempt to conflate traditionally irreconcilable positions), the author summarizes the official and popular (if unofficial) voices of modern and contemporary Orthodoxy on the question of primacy (i.e. its definition, its positive features, its relevance). DeVille's work is purposively current and therefore extremely relevant for providing a context (by avoiding nostalgia or adoption of an ecclesiological position to develop it through his work). This a posteriori approach may not allow for a full "Orthodox" exposition of primacy (since they are struggling themselves with a pan-Orthodox definition), but it completely avoids caricature and provides a meaningful basis for subsequent discussion.

(3.) Deville absolutely nails down the best possible explanation for the elimination of the title "Patriarch of the West." Though I would be more cautious to strike it (due to my sensitivities towards Orthodox), the removal of this term is placed in justifiable and positive terms (from the perspective of Ratzinger).
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