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Toward the Endless Day: The Life of Elisabeth Behr-Sigel Hardcover – March 15, 2010
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"This remarkable woman, Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, is still barely known in the United States, but in Europe it's another story. Everybody knows of her; and it seems she knew everybody who was anybody. Draw up a list of the great Orthodox theologians of the 20th century; she knew them all--Sergius Bulgakov, Vladimir Lossky, Georges Florovsky, John Meyendorff, Olivier Clement, Kallistos Ware (to name just a few!). . . . Olga Lossky . . . gives us a compelling portrait of this surprising theologian. Simply as a story of a Christian living through the tumultuous 20th century, it is fascinating reading, for Westerners as much as those in the Christian East." --Books and Culture, May/June 2010
"Elisabeth Behr-Sigel was one of the most challenging--often controversial--Orthodox theologians of the last century. For decades, until her death in 2005, she was a key participant in building up an Orthodox presence in France in a process that integrated both refugees from Eastern Europe and converts from the West. . . . During the last year of her life, she met weekly with Olga Lossky, discussing her life and providing access to her journals and letters, thus giving this biography a climate of intimacy." --In Communion, August 2010
"This well-written and inspiring book narrates Elisabeth's personal and religious biography, and serves as an accessible introduction to the personalities, ecclesial history, and spirituality of Western Orthodoxy. . . . Toward the Endless Dayis an intelligent and skillfully executed biography of both a woman and the complex religious community she lived in and served. . . . This impressive work of scholarship, suffused by affection and tenderness, is a worthy and compelling narrative of this remarkable woman." --The Catholic Worker, August/September 2010
About the Author
Olga Lossky is the author of a novel Requiem pour un Clou, many articles, and a play Lourmel, 26 octobre 1936. She is the great-granddaughter of the Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky.
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Born in 1907 in Alsace, France, to a Protestant father and a Jewish mother, she received a master's degree in theology from the Protestant Faculty of Theology at Strasbourg and began a pastoral ministry, but it lasted only one year. Attracted by the beauty of the Orthodox liturgy as well as its spirituality and theology, at age 24 she embraced the Orthodox faith.
Her many friends and mentors included Sergius Bulgakov, Mother Maria Skobtsova (St. Maria of Paris), Vladimir Lossky, Georges Florovsky, Lev Gillet, John Meyendorff, Olivier Clément, and Kallistos Ware.
During most of World War II, with her husband André Behr and their children, she lived in Nancy, France, where she taught in public schools. Living under military occupation was her apprenticeship in ecumenism, when people of different Christian traditions came together in the Behr-Sigel home for religious dialogue, at the same time finding the inner strength to oppose Nazism, hide Jews, and provide escape routes.
The book includes many extracts from the prophetic letters Elisabeth wrote during a year spent in Berlin shortly before Hitler came to power. No less remarkable is the diary she kept during the war. In the midst of falling bombs, the Jesus Prayer became vitally important to her - "a cry of the heart, a cry of despair and of hope, an irresistible and never-ending need to call upon Christ to help us in our powerlessness."
After the war she studied at St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, later joining the school's illustrious faculty.
She wrote and published essays and books on Orthodox theology, spirituality, and the role of women in the Church.
When at last the role of the deaconate of women is restored in the Church, it will be in part thanks to the labors of Elisabeth Behr-Sigel.
During the last year of her life, she met weekly with Olga Lossky, discussing her life and providing access to her journals and letters, thus giving this biography a climate of intimacy.