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Author Topic: Recommended Reading for Those New to Orthodoxy  (Read 17376 times) Average Rating: 5
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« on: April 22, 2008, 07:20:10 PM »

Since we've had several requests for books explaining Orthodoxy, let's start a thread here for that.  Please list the title, author, and a brief synopsis of the book.  Thank you!

To start:

The Orthodox Church by Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware.  Includes a section on the history of the Orthodox Church and a section giving an overview of doctrines of the Church.

The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware.  More on the doctrines of the Church, but more in depth than what is found in TOC.
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2008, 07:54:17 PM »

The Mountain of Silence by Kyriacos Markides is a book that helped me a lot. It's about the Athonite tradition of Christian spirituality and prayer of the heart.

The only thing to be aware of is that sometimes the author expresses views that don't quite agree with "orthodox" Orthodoxy, but it's fairly easy to tell when he is giving his own interpretation instead of the interpretation of the Church. He is an academically trained sociologist, which at least partially accounts for some of his non-traditional interpretations of things. But on the whole it is a good book.
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2008, 02:51:31 PM »

Introducing the Orthodox Church by Fr Anthony Coniaris.    
The Illumined Heart by Frederica Matthews-Green        
Let Us Attend! A Journey through the Orthodox Liturgy  by Fr Lawrence Farley
Christ in the Psalms by Fr Patrick Henry Reardon    
Early Christian Writings  ed. by A. Louth (Penguin)      
ditto on  His Grace Kallistos Ware's books.
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2008, 12:51:29 PM »

These are not exactly books explaining Orthodoxy, but I do not trust most of them.  They often seem so careless:  some sacrifice the faith in the groves of Academe, while others prettify revelation with religion.  The list which follows was called EASILY OVERLOOKED ORTHODOX GIANTS OF THE 20TH CENTURY, but could also be dubbed

BOOKS I WISH I HAD READ AT THE CUSP
 
In the last few decades there has been a fair explosion of Orthodox literature.  Here as elsewhere circumstances indifferent to merit have arbitrarily awarded some worthy giants with plenty of exposure (one thinks in music of Beethoven or Wagner) and others with silence or footnotes (one thinks of Spohr or Field).  This list merely mentions giants who are not as widely read as many other deserving ones.
 
1.  Fr. Schmemann wrote a good number of books on most if not all essential aspects of the faith.  However, his journals (_The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann_, Juliana Schmemann, trans.) are possibly more precious, revealing the heart from which all his academic work originated.  His observations on church, church politics and life are invaluable correctives on the main directions in which most Christians are inclined to veer:  academics, by which the faith is reduced cynically to mere opinion; politics, by which the faith is simply lost from sight in the daily struggle for domination; and pietism, by which the accidents obtain a decisive victory over essence.  In the bargain, the reader is introduced to the finest example of humanism this century may have to offer.
 
2.-5. Mother Gavrilia (_Ascetic Of Love: Mother Gavrilia_, by Nun Gavrilia [a spiritual daughter]) and Elder Porphyrios (_Elder Porphyrios:  A Spiritual Child Remembers_, by Klitos Joannidis & _Elder Porphyrios: Testimonies and Experiences_, by Constantine Yiannitsiotis) offer the reader the lives and wisdom of two souls who loved Christ with all their hearts.  It is difficult to express in words what it means to see this love in action.  Another book has come out on Elder Porphyrios (_Elder Porphyrios:  Wounded by Love_, ed. by the Sisters of the Holy Convent of Chrysopis), which will gratify deeply the fans of Elder Porphyrios.  What Mr. Gavrilia and Elder Porphyrios offer the world is astounding.

6.  Mother Maria died in the Nazi Holocaust.  Her essays on Orthodoxy (Mother Maria Skobtsova: _Essential Writings_, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2003) rank among the most incisive critiques of Orthodoxy.  However, she does not satirize or lampoon; all her criticism comes directly from a positive vision, one which brought her to an early death.  

DanM
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2008, 01:55:57 PM »

When discussing books about the Orthodox faith, it's important to note that there are several different categories of books each dealing with different aspects of the Orthodox Christian life.  Below is a list that includes several books in a few categories for those in various stages of 'newness'.  I add this list to the great list of books already mentioned.

1. The Orthodox Study Bible.  

2. On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius.  Remains as the definitive exposition of Orthodox Trinitarianism.  Every Christian library should have this book.  I've given an online link to it, but do yourself a favor and purchase it so you can highlight it and go back to it over and over.

3. The Ancestral Sin by Fr. John Romanides. A comparative study of the sin of our ancestors Adam and Eve according to 1) the paradigms and doctrines of the first-and second-century Church and 2) the Augustinian formulation of original sin.  

4. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church by Vladimir Lossky.  In this classic study of Orthodox theology, Lossky states that "in a certain sense all theology is mystical, inasmuch as it shows forth the divine mystery: the datat of revelation...the eastern tradtion has never made a sharp distinction between mysticism and theology, between personal experience of the divine myteries and the dogma affirmed by the Church." The term "mystical theology" denotes the realm of human experience, that which is accessible yet inaccessible; those things understood yet surpassing all knowledge.

5. Beginning to Pray by Archbishop Anthony Bloom.  A wonderful little (but spiritually giant) book which deals with prayer.  Archbishop Anthony was a medical surgeon turned monastic.  

6. The Heart by Archimandrite Spyridon Logothetis.  From the back cover- ""Every man has two hearts.  One is the body's heart.  The other is the soul's heart.  The good or bad condition of both of our hearts is very important.  If something happens to either one, then we have heart problems and our life is in danger, whether it is the life of our body or the life of our sould.  Unfortunately, many Christians, both clergy and laity still don't understnd this.  And although they take great care to appear externally good, decent, honest, consistent, religious and loyal people, unfortunately they care very little, if at all, or almost at all, about having a clean, good and holy heart."  "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

7. Return: Repentance and Confession- Return to God and to His Church by Archimandrite Nektarios Antonopoulos.  Most of us take the Mystery of Repentance (Confession) for granted.  This little gem guides us back to the original attitude and to a correct approach to Confession in a gentle and loving manner.  

8. The Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint John Klimakos (Climacus).  Not enough can be said about this giant of a book.  Traditionally read during Great Lent, it's wisdom is timeless and should be read throughout the year.

9. Any book that deals with, and explains, the Divine Liturgy.  It is incumbent upon all Orthodox Christians to not just participate when they can, but to understand the rubrics and prayers of the Divine Liturgy.  It's difficult to fully appreciate something if you don't adequately understand it.

10. The Great Lives of the Saints

In Christ,

Gabriel



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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2008, 02:13:00 PM »

These are not exactly books explaining Orthodoxy, but I do not trust most of them.  They often seem so careless:  some sacrifice the faith in the groves of Academe, while others prettify revelation with religion. 

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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2008, 02:33:53 PM »

Unsubstantiated subjectivity.

Is "unsubstantiated" meant to be a pleonasm?
I do believe that a great deal of research really is what we often despise popularization for being--substantiated opinion.
Therefore, I cannot totally disagree with your charge.
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« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2009, 03:52:18 AM »

I am new to Orthodoxy. I was baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church on June 15, 2008. I came to the Church from Protestantism. Although I am Non-Chalcedonian (or Oriental Orthodox), Kallistos Ware's book, The Orthodox Church, has been very helpful.

For those like myself who are coming to Orthodoxy from a Protestant background, I also highly recommend Daniel B. Clendenin's book Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective

But for those who are seriously interested in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, please make sure to read Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq'sbook The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church: An Integrally African Church

The Ethiopian Synaxarium: Lives of the Saints has also been extremely edifying. You can read this and download it at "Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Books Online."

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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2009, 05:18:43 AM »

9. Any book that deals with, and explains, the Divine Liturgy.  It is incumbent upon all Orthodox Christians to not just participate when they can, but to understand the rubrics and prayers of the Divine Liturgy.  It's difficult to fully appreciate something if you don't adequately understand it.


One of the classic little books on the Liturgy is Nikolai Gogol's "Meditations on the Divine Liturgy."

Not overly scholarly or historical but an inspirational treasure of a book which people come back to again and again.  
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2009, 08:47:52 AM »

I recall that during my short catechumenate (January - early February 2007) I was particularly impressed by "Journals" of Fr. Alexander Schmemann. My priest gave me a list of books, including Lossky and Metr. Kallistos, but back then, these books did not impress or influence me to the extent Fr. Alexander's daily sketches of life and faith did. Honestly, I found Lossky incredibly thick and boring, and Metr. Kallistos "prettifying" things in a very "propagandistic" way. Since that time my perception of both L. and M.K. changed, however.
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2009, 02:26:38 PM »

Hmmm, if brain food alone constitutes what it means to become Orthodox, perhaps these books will function.  They may break down certain pillars of anti-Orthodox apologetical objections and subsequently re-enforce the intellect's wall of defense and desire to protect itself from an intellectual fear of drowning in a storm of philosophical reasoning whereby the unstable mind is tossed 'to and fro', but there is certainly no certainty that the mind will indeed become Orthodox by reading them.  

I became Orthodox because therein I experienced and witnessed a Holiness which I have not seen elsewhere.  My intitial and subsequent approach to Orthodoxy followed the intellectual route which is common to many converts from the ephod of Protestantism.  

God is with us, understand O' ye nations, and submit yourselves, for God is with us.

First and foremost are the Holy Scriptures, but some might reason that is a given; while others seem to feel and/or reason that the Scriptures are far to cryptic and foreign for modern Orthodox experience.  

Seconly, and essential to developing an Orthodox approach to reading the Scriptures is On the Divine Images.  In my opinion this book should be a primer and frequently read.  In it St. John of Damascus establishes the principles whereby the Orthodox Church is in continuity with the Mosaic Law and the Prophets.  Within its pages can be found the pattern of Orthodox  usage of the Psalms both in her services and in the daily life cycle of the Orthodox Church; whether gathered or dispersed.  This book dwarfs all subsequent attempts to construct a "Biblical Theology" out of the Old and New Testaments upon which most of Protestantism depends.

Thirdly, My Life in Christ, by St. John of Kronstadt.  This book, IMO, provides a modern existential theological exposition of what it means to purify the heart.  If our Orthodoxy is manifest only by a correct adherance to the Orthodox apologetic it will not engage us in humility. It seems to me that  very few can actually maintain apologetical correctness without seperating ourselves from those who are in need of a Physician if they are not actively engaged in purifying their hearts and seeking to establish Holiness in the inward parts.

Fourthly, On Marriage and Family Life, by St. John Chrysostom.  Orthodox Theology is not experienced in the Ivory Tower of intellectual debate, but in the struggle to "have this mind in you that was in Christ Jesus."   "The Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone..."  We Westerners a afflicted with a hyper-sensation of our individualism.  This book, IMO, should be a primer frequently read for its practical theological exposition of "...as Christ loved the Church."  Love, the Apostle defined as the perfect bond of peace, but love is frequently sensualized and when the senses grow cold their love grows cold.  Orthodoxy is very much about maintaining a bond of peace and unity in likemindedness.  This is not achieved by mearly confessing the Creed/Symbol of our Faith; it is not even achieved by partaking of the same Cup and Bread, but through living in community and enduring with one another in patience and humility allowing the workings of the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself in orderliness and submissiveness.  This ideally should take place in the home, but Western home and Family has been under attack from individualism from the beginning: "So the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise...".



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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2009, 02:56:24 PM »

Thirdly, My Life in Christ, by St. John of Kronstadt.  This book, IMO, provides a modern existential theological exposition of what it means to purify the heart.  If our Orthodoxy is manifest only by a correct adherance to the Orthodox apologetic it will not engage us in humility. It seems to me that  very few can actually maintain apologetical correctness without seperating ourselves from those who are in need of a Physician if they are not actively engaged in purifying their hearts and seeking to establish Holiness in the inward parts.

I am very suspicious of that person, in all honesty. If I recall correctly, he bragged that he and his wife never had marital relationships (which, to me, qualifies him as a total nutcase - not that he never had sex with his wife, but that he bragged about uit). Also, this source: http://www.hrono.info/biograf/bio_ch/cherno100.html says that Ivan Ilyich Sergiev a.k.a. John of Kronshtadt belonged to the infamous "Black Hundred" (Чeрная Cотня), a Judeophobic organization that stood behind numerous Jewish "pogroms."

Now, it may be that a nutcase writes a masterpiece in theology... possibly... but I am not sure.

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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2009, 04:26:24 PM »

On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius

Is there a solid collection of important writings like this that are collected into a single, and preferably hardcover, edition?  I just didn't want to get this alone if I can get it with other Orthodox classics.
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« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2009, 05:31:25 PM »

the biography of Fr. Seraphim Rose, by Fr. Damascene
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« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2009, 06:02:39 PM »

the biography of Fr. Seraphim Rose, by Fr. Damascene

I second this recommendation. This is a very inspirational especially for the American Convert.
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« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2009, 11:02:29 PM »

The readings I would highly recommend anyone new to Orthodoxy is the writings by H.H. Pope Shenouda III:

http://www.copticpope.org/modules.php?name=Web_Links
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« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2009, 08:44:18 AM »

I love The Way of the Pilgrim, by an unknown Russian pilgrim. It's beautifully written, and it always inspires me to say The Jesus Prayer more often. And, more than that, reading it helps my faith grow. Sometimes it's hard for me to do even some of the littlest things asked of me, like saying daily prayers and fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays. Then I read how this man gave everything he had to grow closer to God, and suddenly my life seems all that much easier. And life in general seems that much more beautiful.

I also love Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells, by Matthew Gallatin. I don't know that I'd give it to a new convert so much as someone who was considering converting, but it's still a lovely talk about his journey through a variety of sects into Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2009, 01:51:56 AM »

I love The Way of the Pilgrim, by an unknown Russian pilgrim. It's beautifully written, and it always inspires me to say The Jesus Prayer more often. And, more than that, reading it helps my faith grow. Sometimes it's hard for me to do even some of the littlest things asked of me, like saying daily prayers and fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays. Then I read how this man gave everything he had to grow closer to God, and suddenly my life seems all that much easier. And life in general seems that much more beautiful.

I also love Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells, by Matthew Gallatin. I don't know that I'd give it to a new convert so much as someone who was considering converting, but it's still a lovely talk about his journey through a variety of sects into Orthodoxy.

The Way of a Pilgrim is truly a classic. A good recommendation for new converts because of it brevity and depth.

Thanks for mentioning this other book by Matthew Gallatin. I'm not familiar with it, but the title alone makes me think it must be worth reading.

Selam  
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« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2009, 02:20:27 PM »

Has anybody read this book?



Orthodox Spirituality, A Brief Introduction
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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2010, 04:35:01 PM »

The readings I would highly recommend anyone new to Orthodoxy is the writings by H.H. Pope Shenouda III:

http://www.copticpope.org/modules.php?name=Web_Links

I just read some of these and they are amazing!  Very (deceptively) simple in writing technique, but profound!  Today is Saturday and I'm at work; I downloaded a few of the texts he's written and plan on spending tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon, reading them.  THANK YOU FOR SUGGESTING THEM TO US.
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« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2010, 12:39:08 AM »

The books that I recommend for new Orthodox Christians or people considering Orthodoxy are:

1. Introducing the Orthodox Church: Its Faith and Life http://amzn.to/1oAEr36

2. The Orthodox Faith Series http://tinyurl.com/yz3ovxu

3. Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith http://amzn.to/1E0VDIU

here are some other books that I can recommend... the first one is a really simple and gives the nuts & bolts of Orthodoxy... Same with the Orthodox Faith Series... very simple and can be read online.
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« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2010, 01:24:13 AM »

I love The Way of the Pilgrim, by an unknown Russian pilgrim. It's beautifully written, and it always inspires me to say The Jesus Prayer more often. And, more than that, reading it helps my faith grow. Sometimes it's hard for me to do even some of the littlest things asked of me, like saying daily prayers and fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays. Then I read how this man gave everything he had to grow closer to God, and suddenly my life seems all that much easier. And life in general seems that much more beautiful.

I also love Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells, by Matthew Gallatin. I don't know that I'd give it to a new convert so much as someone who was considering converting, but it's still a lovely talk about his journey through a variety of sects into Orthodoxy.

The Way of a Pilgrim is truly a classic. A good recommendation for new converts because of it brevity and depth.

Thanks for mentioning this other book by Matthew Gallatin. I'm not familiar with it, but the title alone makes me think it must be worth reading.

Selam 


I have since read Matthew Gallatin's book, and I highly recommend it. Very readable.

Selam
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« Reply #22 on: April 22, 2010, 04:41:23 AM »

Some books I'd recommend to those new to Orthodoxy...

How Are We Saved? The Understanding of Salvation in the Orthodox Tradition, by Met. Kallistos (Ware)
Deification in Christ: Orthodox Perspectives on the Nature of the Human Person, by Panayiotis Nellas
Sayings of the Desert Fathers, tr. by Benedicta Ward
Women and Men in the Early Church: The Full Views of St. John Chrysostom, by David Ford
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« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2010, 04:01:33 AM »

If I had to choose a single introductory book to recommend to a potential convert, or even a new convert, it would probably Arch. Meletios Webber's Bread and Water, Wine and Oil.
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« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2010, 11:00:50 AM »

Thirdly, My Life in Christ, by St. John of Kronstadt.  This book, IMO, provides a modern existential theological exposition of what it means to purify the heart.  If our Orthodoxy is manifest only by a correct adherance to the Orthodox apologetic it will not engage us in humility. It seems to me that  very few can actually maintain apologetical correctness without seperating ourselves from those who are in need of a Physician if they are not actively engaged in purifying their hearts and seeking to establish Holiness in the inward parts.

I am very suspicious of that person, in all honesty. If I recall correctly, he bragged that he and his wife never had marital relationships (which, to me, qualifies him as a total nutcase - not that he never had sex with his wife, but that he bragged about uit). Also, this source: http://www.hrono.info/biograf/bio_ch/cherno100.html says that Ivan Ilyich Sergiev a.k.a. John of Kronshtadt belonged to the infamous "Black Hundred" (Чeрная Cотня), a Judeophobic organization that stood behind numerous Jewish "pogroms."

Now, it may be that a nutcase writes a masterpiece in theology... possibly... but I am not sure.



I believe the Wiki entry that says Saint John did belong to the "Sojuz Russkogo Naroda (Alliance of the Russian people) but did not commit himself politically." (my emphasis). He was indeed greatly bothered by the rapid breakdown of the Russian society early in the 20th Century; probably exemplifieed by the year 1905 when the Alliance of the Russian People was formed, the Russians lost the war with Japan, and experienced the Revolution of 1905.

According a ROCOR site dedicated to Saint John, "...towards the end of his life, his conservatism, authoritative and outspoken, on matters of principle, both theological and political, aroused the bitter enmity of the liberal pseudo-intellectuals who were zealously preparing the way for the overthrow of both church and monarchy, and with them of every public and private virtue, and the establishment of an ungodly and inhuman tyranny. They could not but hate one who saw them for what they were, who preached Christianity so powerfully and persuasively, and whose own life was an example of it far more persuasive than any preaching.

For his part, Father John during his last years constantly predicted the approach of terrible events in Russia, and openly denounced those who with increasing success were leading people astray, above all those in positions of authority. In all his sermons of 1907 he spoke of the terrible judgment of God, and urged the need of repentance and a return to common sense, declaring that if Russia ceased to be Holy Russia, she would become nothing more than a mere horde of tribal savages, intent upon destroying each other."
http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/johnkr_e.htm

I must say that the Alliance was indeed a bad lot (one of the several black-hundredist organizations) and was partially responsible for many genocidal programs (physical against the Jews and cultural against Ukrainians, among others). Nonetheless, what we encounter here is a holy man with a blemish on his record (surprise! surprise!) I honestly believe that this holy man, who had tirelessly served the people, did not have time to truly be involved in the doings of the Alliance. His membership in the Alliance was indeed that one blemish, that exception to the rule, that proves his sainthood.

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« Reply #25 on: June 28, 2011, 10:46:24 PM »

The Orthodox Church by Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware.  Includes a section on the history of the Orthodox Church and a section giving an overview of doctrines of the Church.

The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware.  More on the doctrines of the Church, but more in depth than what is found in TOC.

How good or valuable are these books compared to Thomas Hopko's "Orthodox Faith" Rainbow Series?
http://www.oca.org/OCorthfaith.asp

I was just reading most of volume 1 online and it was very interesting. But which of these is most preferred? Kallistos' 2 books or Hopko's 4 books?

Thanks in advance,

- GTA
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« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2011, 04:58:48 PM »

I would most definitely NOT recommend many of the modernist-renovationist writings suggested so far in this thread, by authors of dubious Orthodoxy---to put it politely.  There have been a few useful suggestions posted, however.

Here is a seemingly novel concept: how about suggesting more writings by actual saints, rather than by modernists, schismatics, renovationists, and ecumenists?  Why does everything recommended have to be so new?

St. Vincent of Lerins:

"All possible care must be taken that we hold that Faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all....What if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be the Christian's care to cleave to antiquity, which to this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty."

This is the age that we live in: one of great apostasy, where novel contagions have infected not merely insignificant portions of the Church, but the whole.  What does the saint implore us to do?  Cleave to antiquity!   The ancient writings of the saints have been spread everywhere throughout the four corners of the globe, in many different languages, and through process of time have been fully vetted and accepted by the Church by countless generations of Orthodox believers.  As the saint explains, these teachings cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.

So, given this, it is only fitting that I would recommend people start with time-tested pearls of beauty:  St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lectures, and St. John Damascene's Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.  Of course, anything and everything by Chrysostom is a given; there is enough Chrysostom translated into English to keep one occupied for YEARS.  Literally hundreds and hundreds of sermons and treatises, and they are all quite edifying.
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« Reply #27 on: October 17, 2011, 01:39:52 PM »

I would most definitely NOT recommend many of the modernist-renovationist writings suggested so far in this thread, by authors of dubious Orthodoxy---to put it politely.  There have been a few useful suggestions posted, however.
What is that?
Can you substantiate your criticism, please?
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« Reply #28 on: October 17, 2011, 01:52:11 PM »

St. Vincent of Lerins:

One of my favorite western writers. His words are completely abused by people such as yourself, of course, but he's still great.

Quote
St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lectures,

Always found them to be sort of meh.

Quote
and St. John Damascene's Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.

A bit better than St. Cyril. I guess. St. John was a great collator. But most people don't really want to read through page after page of what he says about Jesus, the Trinity, etc., especially when he spends so much time talking about the subjects and then describes God as ineffable. "You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means." Besides, his Orthodoxy is not the Orthodoxy most people think of today (e.g. he was a Protestant who ripped some of the books out of the Bible)

Quote
Of course, anything and everything by Chrysostom is a given

No one's a given, though if I had to put anyone forward for most recommended it'd be St. Gregory the Theologian. Except his five theological orations, which you can skip without missing much.

Quote
there is enough Chrysostom translated into English to keep one occupied for YEARS. 

I'm a fairly slow reader, but I'm pretty sure I could get through the works of Chrysostom in English in a few months.

Quote
Literally hundreds and hundreds of sermons and treatises, and they are all quite edifying.

I think he stretches things a bit. And he's confusing. And if you're willing to be confused then why not someone a bit more intelligent, such as Pseudo-Dionysius or St. Maximos?
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« Reply #29 on: October 17, 2011, 01:53:07 PM »

At the risk of vanity and shameless self-promotion, I do hope that there is much in this book that will be helpful to those who are interested in learning about Orthodoxy:

http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/Products/SKU-000365534/MYSTERY-and-MEANING.aspx

Pray that it will be fruitful and glorify God.


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« Reply #30 on: June 10, 2012, 04:11:23 PM »

Has anyone read My Life In Christ (St. John of Kronstadt)?  It was gifted to me recently.
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« Reply #31 on: June 22, 2012, 04:57:39 PM »

I really recommend:

Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, Compiled By St. Demetrius, Bishop of Rostov (1651-1709)

I think it is the best of what is in English.

and this is good as well: "The paradise or gardens of the holy Fathers being histories of the anchorites, recluses, monks, coenobites and ascetic fathers of the deserts of Egypt between A.D. 250 and A.D. 400 compiled by Athanasius Archbishop of Alexandria, Palladius Bishop of Helenopolis, Saint Jerome and others."
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« Reply #32 on: June 22, 2012, 10:11:59 PM »

Has anyone read My Life In Christ (St. John of Kronstadt)?  It was gifted to me recently.

It's long. I've been plodding my way through it for several months. Like the Philokalia, I find it's helpful to read only a page or two in one sitting.
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« Reply #33 on: June 23, 2012, 06:00:09 AM »

St. Vincent of Lerins:

One of my favorite western writers. His words are completely abused by people such as yourself, of course, but he's still great.

In what way St. Vincent's words are abused?

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« Reply #34 on: June 24, 2012, 09:20:17 AM »

I think the Domostroi ("Foundation of a Home") lays a good foundation. I think reading the Domostroi along sides the books I already mentioned would be quite profitable .

http://amzn.to/1v6DinC
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« Reply #35 on: June 24, 2012, 10:11:30 AM »

Why would a book from a particular time and cultural situation be necessarily applicable in all ways to the present?  I have read the Domostroi and have a copy on my shelves and much of what is in it (wedding customs, advice on food preparation, disciplining of servants and family and so forth) aren't germane now.
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« Reply #36 on: June 24, 2012, 10:16:37 AM »

Why would a book from a particular time and cultural situation be necessarily applicable in all ways to the present?  I have read the Domostroi and have a copy on my shelves and much of what is in it (wedding customs, advice on food preparation, disciplining of servants and family and so forth) aren't germane now.
It has good introduction material about how to pray, and, how to honor ikons etc. All of the information about wedding customs, and food preparation (like praying at meals) is useful as well, because, it provides valuable insight.

Also its good to look on a culture known for its piety, rather then conform to a culture, I believe is rather known for its lack of piety. This book is a good example (and product) of Orthodox Culture.

This book has been read by beginners since it was first published and is still highly valued today. It has not fell out of use.
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« Reply #37 on: June 26, 2012, 04:49:27 PM »

Has anyone read My Life In Christ (St. John of Kronstadt)?  It was gifted to me recently.

It's long. I've been plodding my way through it for several months. Like the Philokalia, I find it's helpful to read only a page or two in one sitting.

Thank you for the advice.  It does appear to be rather long.  I may stretch out of few more pages at a time, but I think pacing myself will work well.
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« Reply #38 on: August 26, 2012, 06:38:44 AM »

To add:

Way of the Ascetics, by Tito Colliander
Man and God-Man, by St. Justin Popovich
Counsels on the Spiritual Life, by St. Mark the Monk
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« Reply #39 on: November 15, 2012, 03:09:00 PM »

Has anybody read this book?



Orthodox Spirituality, A Brief Introduction


Do you mean the book by Met. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos? If you do, that is actually the book I popped in here to mention.

I just read it yesterday. As far as a short primer goes, it is the best I have read so far: only 100 pages, relatively easy to read, but with plenty of theory and doctrine.

If you compare it to "Orthodox Spirituality" by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae, which I've also been reading lately, the Met. Hierotheos book is much mroe approachable and easy to handle for the newcomer. I have gotten about halfway through the Fr. Dumitru book and really hit a wall. I don't think I am ready for it yet.

So, for me, if I had to recommend three books to anyone who was looking into becoming Orthodox, it would be "The Orthodox Church" by Met. Kallistos, "Orthodox Spirituality" by Met. Hierotheos, and then one of the many conversion memoirs floating around.
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« Reply #40 on: November 15, 2012, 03:34:59 PM »

The Saving Work of Christ by St. Gregory Palamas (14th c.), about 130 pp of several sermons of timeless clarity. This should be a most undisputed gem, even according to "tradtionalists" & most layperson friendly. I understand there are some rather deep writings of St. Gregory (the Triads I beleive?) but this collection is substantive, basic, & inspiring with homilies on the Nativity, Transfiguration etc. see:  http://amzn.to/1qWkQKg
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« Reply #41 on: November 15, 2012, 05:24:25 PM »

Any suggestions for normalish people (read: not philosophy/theology/religious studies nerds) exploring from a non-Christian, non-religious background? 

Something simple and succinct would be the best.  Tall order, I'm guessing.
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« Reply #42 on: November 15, 2012, 06:17:46 PM »

I would particularly value any suggestions of books suitable for enquirers from a totally on-Christian background: we have one person from China doing her Master's degree and another from Iran completing his PhD.

They have no knowledge of the Bible or of the life of Christ, or what it might mean to believe in and love God in Trinity. And yet they are drawn to worship with us.

The only books that are that basic seem to be written for children, so their tone is completely inappropriate for people with their level of education. And most of the books suggested above are written for people who come from a Christian background other than Orthodoxy and presume too much prior knowledge, and may be too concerned with emphasizing the ways in which Orthodoxy is different.
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« Reply #43 on: November 16, 2012, 07:02:41 AM »

I would particularly value any suggestions of books suitable for enquirers from a totally on-Christian background: we have one person from China doing her Master's degree and another from Iran completing his PhD.

They have no knowledge of the Bible or of the life of Christ, or what it might mean to believe in and love God in Trinity. And yet they are drawn to worship with us.

The only books that are that basic seem to be written for children, so their tone is completely inappropriate for people with their level of education. And most of the books suggested above are written for people who come from a Christian background other than Orthodoxy and presume too much prior knowledge, and may be too concerned with emphasizing the ways in which Orthodoxy is different.

When I first started the catechumenate, the first book I was told to read, before anything Orthodox, was 'Mere Christianity' by C.S. Lewis. I wasn't coming from a non-Christian background but the priest wanted to make sure of the basics first (which is probably a good thing). Maybe that might be a good introduction to Christianity in general, which is I guess what you're after. The specifically Orthodox books might then make more sense afterwards - perhaps suggest following that with Metropolitan Kallistos' books.

James
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« Reply #44 on: November 17, 2012, 06:07:05 AM »

Thank you for your suggestion. I've ordered a cheap secondhand copy of 'Mere Christianity' to have a look at it myself first.

Someone I asked mentioned an Orthodox book they had seen on the Creed. They thought it was by a layman, but the only one I've found is by Fr A. Coniaris, called The Nicene Creed for Young People'. A pity about the title, as the material might have been a good beginning. Does anyone know of another Orthodox book approaching an introduction to Christianity via the Creed?
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« Reply #45 on: November 18, 2012, 02:19:20 AM »

Does anyone know of another Orthodox book approaching an introduction to Christianity via the Creed?

Another great idea.  Hopefully someone will know of a good one.

I'm disappointed that there aren't better Intro to Xtianity books, from an Orthodox perspective.  Wouldn't this benefit evangelization efforts to non-Christians to have these?

Mere Christianity seems to be a good suggestion for those looking for a basic intro that's easily digestible. Are there other suggestions, perhaps from other portions of Christianity (since we apparently don't have any/many).

Additionally, any podcasts that would accomplish similar goals of introduction to the Christian faith in a basic but meaningful and accurate fashion?  
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« Reply #46 on: November 18, 2012, 02:53:37 AM »

While it is Coptic Orthodox, not Byzantine, Ibn Kabar's 14th century treatise "The Lamp that Lights the Darkness In Clarifying the Service" has an entire chapter that goes through the Creed line by line. I only have this text in a partial translation, with the first four chapters only (of 24 total), but it is still quite fascinating.
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« Reply #47 on: November 18, 2012, 03:10:16 AM »

While it is Coptic Orthodox, not Byzantine, Ibn Kabar's 14th century treatise "The Lamp that Lights the Darkness In Clarifying the Service" has an entire chapter that goes through the Creed line by line. I only have this text in a partial translation, with the first four chapters only (of 24 total), but it is still quite fascinating.

Do you think this would serve well for a person with little background knowledge on Christianity?  Sounds great to me, but do you think it would be accessible and easy to comprehend (remember, you are a linguist with an affinity for theology and arcane and archaic documents)?  If so, what's the best way to get ahold of it?
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« Reply #48 on: November 18, 2012, 03:53:28 AM »

While it is Coptic Orthodox, not Byzantine, Ibn Kabar's 14th century treatise "The Lamp that Lights the Darkness In Clarifying the Service" has an entire chapter that goes through the Creed line by line. I only have this text in a partial translation, with the first four chapters only (of 24 total), but it is still quite fascinating.

Do you think this would serve well for a person with little background knowledge on Christianity?  Sounds great to me, but do you think it would be accessible and easy to comprehend (remember, you are a linguist with an affinity for theology and arcane and archaic documents)?  If so, what's the best way to get ahold of it?

It might not be the first thing I would reach for, but if other options are exhausted, I don't see why it couldn't augment other books. I forgot to mention it, but it also includes a summary of Bishop Severus Ibn al-Muqaffaa's (a.k.a. Severus of Al-Ashmunein; d. 987) similar line-by-line exposition of the Creed, which goes into a bit more depth. I mainly mentioned this book because the poster had asked for such a line-by-line analysis, and in this work there are two. The text is not terribly difficult in itself (in terms of theological vocabulary used, which is not complicated), though the pdf I have is marked as a preliminary translation, and as such is somewhat rough. Much better than if I were to try to read it in Arabic, though! Unfortunately I don't remember exactly where I got it, but searching for Ibn Kabar and/or the title should bring it up. I'm sure it's available on Coptic sites.

A sample (from ch. 2 "The Orthodox Creed", pg. 47):

Quote
Our Saying: Begotten not made, Consubstantial with the Father:

Here the fathers (of the Church) showed the error of Arios in his saying: “The word of
God is created, newly made, and had a lord?” And he also claimed that the it is not
comprehensible that the word was born of the father unless he had to suffer the pain and
symptoms associated with (human) birth. John Chrysostom said in his book the explanation of
the creation: We do not deny- even if we knew with clear evidence and prior knowledge- that the
Word of God is born of the essence of the Father. He is not created. for this we do not question
how He was born of the Father, as we do not question how the creator created the creation.” But
the fathers did emphasize (that He is of the same essence as the Father) by their saying:
“Consubstantial with the Father” (of the same essence) since Arios states (differently) that the
creator is of three different essences, an old essence that is the Father, and two newer ones, that
is the Son and the Holy Spirit. The learned ones told us that: the Son is equal (one) with the
Father in His essence.” He is equivalent to Him in Essence,” and that: “Through Him all creation
was made,” as the Prophet David, said: “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy
faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.” (Psalms
119:89-90). The holy gospel said: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any
thing made that was made.” (John 1:3). And the Apostle said: “For by him were all things
created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or
dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is
before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who
is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;” (Colossians 1:16-19). And this is
the response to Onamios and his followers who agrees with Arios and his corrupt sayings.
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« Reply #49 on: November 18, 2012, 04:32:59 AM »

Thanks for the response and information, dzheremi.
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« Reply #50 on: November 18, 2012, 04:33:48 AM »

Does anyone know of another Orthodox book approaching an introduction to Christianity via the Creed?

Another great idea.  Hopefully someone will know of a good one.

I'm disappointed that there aren't better Intro to Xtianity books, from an Orthodox perspective.  Wouldn't this benefit evangelization efforts to non-Christians to have these?

Mere Christianity seems to be a good suggestion for those looking for a basic intro that's easily digestible. Are there other suggestions, perhaps from other portions of Christianity (since we apparently don't have any/many).

Additionally, any podcasts that would accomplish similar goals of introduction to the Christian faith in a basic but meaningful and accurate fashion?  

For sure evangelization would benefit from better books and resources. I hope we can do more. Ancient Faith Radio, for example, is a very effective tool. Speaking of which, podcast-wise, you might check out Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick's Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy lecture series on AFR. There is a fair amount of terminology, but in one of the first podcasts in the series, he tries to define some of the key terms and ideas. Then, if you are dealing with people from religious backgrounds of a non-Christian type, he does treat the world's major faith traditions. If the person is entirely faithless or atheist, that would probably be the greatest shortcoming. It is a great series, though. He is a talented lecturer.

I must say, I am right now halfway through this book called "The Faith: Understanding Orthodox Christianity, An Orthodox Catechism" by Clark Carlton. It is great! I think it could be a good resource even for the total newcomer. I was worried it would be super complex since it is a catechism, but it is actually very readable. Each chapter treats a major topic concisely, then has a paragraph or two of patristic writings on that topic, then drills down with some sort of topical application, and is followed by review questions. Carlton walks through fundamental teachings like the Incarnation in ways that are interesting to me as someone familiar with them but I think would also be approachable for the uninitiated.

Lastly, if you want to go beyond Orthodoxy, the single best conversion memoir I've ever read is "The Seven Storey Mountain" by Thomas Merton. It was that book that shook me awake from the most faithless, debauched year of my life--indeed, maybe it even saved my life. It is not really an introduction to Christianity doctrinally, but I would call it an introduction to Christian life and conversion.
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« Reply #51 on: November 19, 2012, 04:17:50 PM »

For sure evangelization would benefit from better books and resources. I hope we can do more. Ancient Faith Radio, for example, is a very effective tool. Speaking of which, podcast-wise, you might check out Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick's Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy lecture series on AFR. There is a fair amount of terminology, but in one of the first podcasts in the series, he tries to define some of the key terms and ideas. Then, if you are dealing with people from religious backgrounds of a non-Christian type, he does treat the world's major faith traditions. If the person is entirely faithless or atheist, that would probably be the greatest shortcoming. It is a great series, though. He is a talented lecturer.

Thanks for your kind words.  Regarding your last comment about atheism, it's worth noting that I put an appendix on atheism and agnosticism in the book version of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, which is considerably revised and expanded in comparison to the podcast.  It can be purchased in both paperback and as an e-book at the following sites:

http://www.conciliarpress.com/products/Orthodoxy-and-Heterodoxy.html
http://amzn.to/1ue5SFx
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/orthodoxy-and-heterodoxy-fr-andrew-damick/1113639532?ean=2940013515208
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« Reply #52 on: November 19, 2012, 04:29:41 PM »

For sure evangelization would benefit from better books and resources. I hope we can do more. Ancient Faith Radio, for example, is a very effective tool. Speaking of which, podcast-wise, you might check out Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick's Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy lecture series on AFR. There is a fair amount of terminology, but in one of the first podcasts in the series, he tries to define some of the key terms and ideas. Then, if you are dealing with people from religious backgrounds of a non-Christian type, he does treat the world's major faith traditions. If the person is entirely faithless or atheist, that would probably be the greatest shortcoming. It is a great series, though. He is a talented lecturer.

Thanks for your kind words.  Regarding your last comment about atheism, it's worth noting that I put an appendix on atheism and agnosticism in the book version of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, which is considerably revised and expanded in comparison to the podcast.  It can be purchased in both paperback and as an e-book at the following sites:

http://www.conciliarpress.com/products/Orthodoxy-and-Heterodoxy.html
http://www.amazon.com/Orthodoxy-Heterodoxy-Andrew-Stephen-Damick/dp/1936270137
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/orthodoxy-and-heterodoxy-fr-andrew-damick/1113639532?ean=2940013515208

I just want to say I love your work, Father.
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« Reply #53 on: November 19, 2012, 04:43:58 PM »

For sure evangelization would benefit from better books and resources. I hope we can do more. Ancient Faith Radio, for example, is a very effective tool. Speaking of which, podcast-wise, you might check out Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick's Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy lecture series on AFR. There is a fair amount of terminology, but in one of the first podcasts in the series, he tries to define some of the key terms and ideas. Then, if you are dealing with people from religious backgrounds of a non-Christian type, he does treat the world's major faith traditions. If the person is entirely faithless or atheist, that would probably be the greatest shortcoming. It is a great series, though. He is a talented lecturer.

Thanks for your kind words.  Regarding your last comment about atheism, it's worth noting that I put an appendix on atheism and agnosticism in the book version of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, which is considerably revised and expanded in comparison to the podcast.  It can be purchased in both paperback and as an e-book at the following sites:

http://www.conciliarpress.com/products/Orthodoxy-and-Heterodoxy.html
http://www.amazon.com/Orthodoxy-Heterodoxy-Andrew-Stephen-Damick/dp/1936270137
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/orthodoxy-and-heterodoxy-fr-andrew-damick/1113639532?ean=2940013515208

Wow, this reminds me of the first time a comedian tweeted back at me on Twitter! Father, I'd heard rumors you posted here. I am glad to see them confirmed. I got through your lecture series faster than any podcast archive I've yet to encounter--Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy is whatever the audio equivalent of a pageturner would be. I have a big stack of Orthodox books to get through at the moment, but I intend to include your book in the next batch I order. Thank you for your hard work!
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« Reply #54 on: November 19, 2012, 05:04:51 PM »

Wow, this reminds me of the first time a comedian tweeted back at me on Twitter! Father, I'd heard rumors you posted here. I am glad to see them confirmed. I got through your lecture series faster than any podcast archive I've yet to encounter--Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy is whatever the audio equivalent of a pageturner would be. I have a big stack of Orthodox books to get through at the moment, but I intend to include your book in the next batch I order. Thank you for your hard work!

You're welcome!  Thanks for listening and reading!
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« Reply #55 on: November 19, 2012, 05:40:30 PM »

Fr. Vassilios Papavassiliou - Journey to the Kingdom
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« Reply #56 on: November 19, 2012, 06:39:35 PM »

Apologies for not returning here earlier. Many thanks to all for your suggestions.

I'm reluctant to recommend podcasts because I don't listen to any myself (I have a hearing problem). I prefer to offer a book that I have personally read and can, if appropriate, suggest sections to start on or to skip.

I especially like the sound of Fr Papavassiliou's book (and have ordered a copy; thank you Orthodox 11). Both these enquirers are already coming to our Sunday services; we are a small mission church with a monastic pattern of weekday and Sunday services, with Liturgy only once a month. I would not call them atheists or even agnostics: they simply have no knowledge of Christianity. This makes most of the books that explain Orthodoxy to the heterodox inappropriate. Yet it is wonderful (and a great responsibility) that in the new country to which they have come, they have been introduced to Orthodoxy first.
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« Reply #57 on: February 25, 2013, 09:43:24 PM »

"The Faith of the Saints: A Catechism of the Eastern Orthodox Church" St. Nikolaj Velimirovic. It is a very easy introductory book about Orthodox Christianity

Free sample of the book available online
http://www.scribd.com/doc/41594495/St-Nikolaj-Velimirovic-The-Origin-and-the-Source-of-the-Orthodox-Church-the-Faith-of-the-Holy



Enjoy!  Wink
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« Reply #58 on: April 06, 2013, 03:24:44 PM »

The Mountain of Silence by Kyriacos Markides is a book that helped me a lot. It's about the Athonite tradition of Christian spirituality and prayer of the heart.

The only thing to be aware of is that sometimes the author expresses views that don't quite agree with "orthodox" Orthodoxy, but it's fairly easy to tell when he is giving his own interpretation instead of the interpretation of the Church. He is an academically trained sociologist, which at least partially accounts for some of his non-traditional interpretations of things. But on the whole it is a good book.

Our priest read page 85 to us catechumens and it was AWESOME. Gave us true insight into suffering and the meaning of, why, etc.
Praise God.
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« Reply #59 on: May 08, 2013, 02:45:02 PM »

Does anyone know of another Orthodox book approaching an introduction to Christianity via the Creed?

The Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church by St. Peter Mogila.
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« Reply #60 on: September 06, 2013, 12:05:29 AM »

Great suggestions in this thread.  Right now, I'm reading "The Orthodox Church" by Timothy Ware.  I decided to start with this book first, because I think I need to get a better foundation of the history of the church before I start getting into some theological details.  

I have to say it's seriously one of the best books I've ever read.  It's hard to put down.  He packs a ton of history in just about 327 pages, and it's accommodating to people coming from a Latin/Western perspective, which is a good thing.  I think everyone understands how off-putting it can be to read something about another denomination, or religion, only to find the author is abrasive, or inflammatory against your own church, or beliefs.

Anyway, after I finish this book, which should be soon, I'll be looking to find a book that covers some of the differences between Catholicism, and Orthodoxy.  
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« Reply #61 on: September 06, 2013, 12:29:01 AM »

Does anyone know of another Orthodox book approaching an introduction to Christianity via the Creed?

The Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church by St. Peter Mogila.

The Longer Catechism of The Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church by St. Philaret of Moscow
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« Reply #62 on: September 06, 2013, 03:01:11 AM »

Anyway, after I finish this book, which should be soon, I'll be looking to find a book that covers some of the differences between Catholicism, and Orthodoxy.

This is what you need. Shop around, though, because prices can vary widely.
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« Reply #63 on: October 26, 2013, 10:49:19 PM »

Hi to all and blessings;

-ORTHODOX STUDY BIBLE
-Becoming Orthodox-Fr Peter Guiliquist
-Anything by St.Theophan the recluse
-The Orthodox way-Kalistos Ware(or any by him)
-Elder Paisos
-Father George Calciu-Interviews & Homilies
-Homilies on Revelation-Athanasios Mitilinaos
-Anything by St John Chrysostom
-Orthodox Dogmatic Theology-"as a reference to Orthodoxy"
-Anything by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo-(particularly,"The Soul, The Body And Death)-Excellent work by him
-Eusebius-History of the church-
-In Search Of The Truth-Nicholas Mavromagoulos-(This book sheds light on the truth behind the Jehovas Witnesses doctrine and history)

To name a few, The Orthodox churches I've been to have had nice book stores with many titles Ideal for new members,just take your time,read the back cover first and understand exactly what it is first.
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« Reply #64 on: October 26, 2013, 11:05:49 PM »

-The Didache

-St. Ignatius of Antioch

-St. Irenaeus

-St. Hilary of Poitiers

-St. Vincent of Lerins

-St. Athanasius of Alexandria

That's what I used. I don't have the privilege of spending money on books.
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« Reply #65 on: October 29, 2013, 06:50:09 PM »

Anyway, after I finish this book, which should be soon, I'll be looking to find a book that covers some of the differences between Catholicism, and Orthodoxy.

This is what you need. Shop around, though, because prices can vary widely.

Thanks for the suggestion.  It seems to have gotten a few bad reviews on Amazon, but I don't know how seriously to take those.

I'm looking into renting The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture by John Anthony McGuckin.  At $42.03 for a new paperback copy, it's just too expensive to buy.
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« Reply #66 on: October 29, 2013, 08:12:32 PM »

The Orthodox Faith, Fr. Thomas Hopko

http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith
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« Reply #67 on: November 13, 2013, 11:42:35 PM »

Anyway, after I finish this book, which should be soon, I'll be looking to find a book that covers some of the differences between Catholicism, and Orthodoxy.

This is what you need. Shop around, though, because prices can vary widely.

Thanks for the suggestion.  It seems to have gotten a few bad reviews on Amazon, but I don't know how seriously to take those.

I'm looking into renting The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture by John Anthony McGuckin.  At $42.03 for a new paperback copy, it's just too expensive to buy.

Don't forget about your public library. If your local library doesn't have Orthodox books then ask them for inter-library loan forms sp you can request such books from different libraries free of charge.
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« Reply #68 on: November 18, 2013, 11:02:56 PM »

Books I'm reading right now:

-"Changing Churches: An Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran Theological Conversation" by Mickey L. Mattox & A.G. Roeber
-"His Broken Body: Understanding and Healing the Schism between the Roman Catholic: An Orthodox Perspective" by Laurent A Cleenewerck
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« Reply #69 on: December 26, 2013, 12:32:06 AM »

TO ANYONE who has trouble accepting God with an open heart, I would recommend  The Search for Truth on the Path of Reason , the book by Aleksey Osipov, a well known Russian Orthodox theologian, professor and lecturer ("Truth" being "Christ"). He understands that many of us have issues accepting "blind faith" as a compass in life. This is why he reasons with those, poisoned by materialistic education. It is his only book translated into English. First few Chapters are intellectually challenging but the language is clear and logic is superb. This book appeals to those who love to read and think.

My favorite part is available for reading online
http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/53476.htm

INTRODUCTION to the book

This book fills the order of a needed genre: Christian Apologetics for intellectual seekers and products of the Age of Reason. The author believes that, “It is natural for a Christian to know ‘the certainty of those things, wherein he has been instructed’ (cf. Lk. 1:4). But, as the Apostle Peter writes, you should be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1 Pet. 3:15).”

Prof. Osipov presents an overview of Western philosophy, the roots of religion and atheism, the relationship between religion and science, different forms of paganism, spiritual experience, and other related topics. He provides intelligent and clear arguments against atheism, and clearly delineates between all the various religious experiences, contrasting them with Orthodox experience and patristic teaching. This book has proved invaluable for seminary students and pastors in Russia as that country emerges from decades of religious persecution and a militant atheist regime. The Western philosophies and systems of thought described in this overview have left such a deep impressions on our society as well that we can scarcely see beyond their influence.

Osipov shows also the flip-side of Western rationalism, which is the various forms of mysticism and paganism that continually reproduce themselves in different guises. This book can help us to discern all of these trends, manifestations, and world views from an Orthodox, patristic perspective.

The book also includes a description of how Igumen Nikon (Vorobyev), who was Prof. Osipov’s spiritual guide and instructor from an early age, came to a sure and direct knowledge of God after desperate years of fruitless searching through science, philosophy, and psychology. He finally found the truth in his native Orthodox Christian religion; he then embarked upon the infinitely fulfilling study of the “science of sciences,” found in the unanimous experience of the fathers of our Church.
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« Reply #70 on: July 31, 2014, 02:44:48 PM »

My Elder Joseph the Hesychast is a wonderful book! Smiley  
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« Reply #71 on: October 01, 2014, 04:42:55 PM »

While it is Coptic Orthodox, not Byzantine, Ibn Kabar's 14th century treatise "The Lamp that Lights the Darkness In Clarifying the Service" has an entire chapter that goes through the Creed line by line. I only have this text in a partial translation, with the first four chapters only (of 24 total), but it is still quite fascinating.

Do you think this would serve well for a person with little background knowledge on Christianity?  Sounds great to me, but do you think it would be accessible and easy to comprehend (remember, you are a linguist with an affinity for theology and arcane and archaic documents)?  If so, what's the best way to get ahold of it?

Fr. Andrew's latest book, An Introduction to God is geared toward this.
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« Reply #72 on: October 01, 2014, 05:33:17 PM »

I'm familiar with most of the content published in Orthodox circles. Seems like most of it is geared towards educated thinkers
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« Reply #73 on: October 01, 2014, 06:02:13 PM »

A lot of the stuff on my blog is geared towards the average Joe. I am working on transforming some of it into books. Here are a few examples from the 178 articles I have posted so far:


The Holy Apostles in History
If Orthodoxy Is True, Why Have I Never Heard of It?

Pastoral Notes section, featuring bulletin messages that were educational and reflective
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« Reply #74 on: October 09, 2014, 11:22:46 PM »

Talking about “The Search for Truth on the Path of Reason” by Alexey Osipov... Professor Osipov uploaded this and his other books to his website:

http://www.alexey-osipov.ru/books-and-publications/

The uploaded books are mainly in Russian. However, some of them are in English, German, Spanish, Finnish, and even Chinese.

Here is an excerpt from professor Alexei Osipov's book "The Search for Truth on the Path of Reason":

There are several different points of view about the derivation of the word “religion” (from the Latin word religio, meaning conscientiousness, piety, reverence, religion, holiness, service to God). Thus, Cicero, the famous Roman orator, writer, and political activist of the first century B.C. considered that this word came from the Latin verb relegere (meaning, to gather again, to re-consider, to set aside for a particular use), with a connotative meaning of “showing reverence” or “relating to something with particular attention or respect.” Proceeding from this, Cicero sees the very existence of religion as reverence before the higher powers, before the Divinity. This thought of Cicero’s assuredly shows that piety is one of the most important elements of religion, without which religiosity becomes sanctimoniousness, hypocrisy, and empty ritual; and belief in God becomes no more than cold, lifeless doctrine. At the same time, we cannot agree with the statement that reverence toward something mysterious, even toward God, comprises the essence of religion. No matter how great and necessary piety is to religion, it is nevertheless only one of the feelings present in man’s religious relationship to God, and does not express its essence.

The famous Western Christian writer and orator Lactantious (†330) considered that the term “religion” comes from the Latin verb “religare,” which means “to bind, to join.” Therefore he defines religion as a union of piety between man and God. “With this condition,” he writes, “we are born in order to show a just and dutiful submission to the Lord Who has given us being; to know only Him, to follow only Him. Being bound by this union of piety, we find ourselves in union with God, from which religion has received its name. ‘Religion’ comes from the union of piety by which God has bound man with Himself….”

Lactantious’ definition reveals the very essence of religion—a living union of man’s spirit with God, which takes place within the secret chambers of the human heart.

Blessed Augustine (†430) similarly understood the essence of religion, although he considered that the word “religion” comes from the verb “religare” meaning “to come together,” and that religion itself indicates a coming together, the renewal of a once lost union between man and God. “Seeking this,” he writes, “or rather, seeking out again (from which apparently it has received the name ‘religion’), we yearn towards Him with love, so that once we attain it, we will be at peace.”

Thus, the etymology of the world “religion” points to its two basic meanings: unity and reverence, which explain religion as a mystical spiritual union: a living, reverent unification of man with God."

Sergei Bulgakov (†1944), the great Russian thinker and later theologian, expressed this thought in the following words:

"Religion is [a process of] acquiring the knowledge of God, and the experience of a connection with God."

The book in PDF

http://www.alexey-osipov.ru/web-files/books/Bog/God_(by_Osipov_A).pdf

The book in MS Word

http://www.alexey-osipov.ru/web-files/books/Put_razuma_v_poiskakh_istiny/Pyt_razuma_english_(A_I_Osipov).doc     

Prof. Alexei Osipov on contradictions in Gospels (it’s an excerpt from his other book, "God"):

Are there are contradictions in Gospels?

This objection comes from unawareness that Gospel has two sides. One is where external circumstances of the earthly life of Jesus Christ are described. This is where the authors of the New Testament report about what they saw themselves or heard about from others. It is possible to find here some inaccuracy in the presentation of facts and contradictions in the narration of one and the same event by different authors (e.g. one or two possessed with devils who met Jesus Christ – Mt. 8:28 and Mk.5:1; or how many times cock crew when Apostle Peter denied knowing Christ – Mt.26:75 and Mk 14:72). Such discrepancy is usual when different people describe one event. Moreover, the existence of this kind of discrepancies confirm the authenticity of the witness of the authors of the Gospels and show the respectful attitude of all who copied these texts. It would have not been difficult to correlate the texts or even remove these contradictions.

The other side of the of the Gospel provides for the basis of the Christian confession and is its primary source. It comprises the teaching about God, about Christ, about commandments and about other truths of faith and life. This teaching contains no contradictions. For Christianity, this is Divine Revelation. The Gospel’s teaching cannot be looked upon as yet another religious philosophic system that can be discussed from the point of view of our logic and frame of mind. Our logic and assumptions are not applicable to that sphere of life. Christianity has a number of objective arguments witnessing to its Divine origin...

http://goo.gl/GI4hCJ

http://www.alexey-osipov.ru/web-files/books/Bog/God_(by_Osipov_A).pdf

PS Osipov is a well known Russian Orthodox theologian, professor and lecturer from Moscow Orthodox Theological Seminary.
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« Reply #75 on: October 09, 2014, 11:34:00 PM »

Since we've had several requests for books explaining Orthodoxy, let's start a thread here for that.  Please list the title, author, and a brief synopsis of the book.  Thank you!
Timothy Ware's books are excellent, as are John Meyendorff's and Alexander Schmemann's.  However, one who reads these excellent and inspired writers runs the risk of building in his head a naive and idealized picture of the Greco-Russian church.  I would recommend that such a one spend time on these boards.  He will become quickly disillusioned. Smiley

Another useful book is Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective by Daniel B. Clendenin:

http://www.amazon.com/Eastern-Orthodox-Christianity-Western-Perspective/dp/0801026520/&tag=orthodoxchr0a-20
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« Reply #76 on: October 17, 2014, 07:49:40 AM »

"These Truths We Hold". Compiled and edited by a monk of St. Tikhon's Monastery.

"The compilation of this book is an effort to gather from an on-going tradition of piety that which is traditional, for many, reinforceing the familiar - but equally beneficial, familiarizing many with an Orthodox continuity of things commonly observed. The style of themes, attitudes, expressions and images is popular in the sense that it has been the experience of Orthodox people in their own life and worship, representing how they were taught, what they have come to understand, and thus, have passed on to us.

It is uniquely Orthodox that theology is not solely the scholarly pursuit of a specialized class of clergy. We can, with much benefit, come in touch with what has been traditional for our people in Orthodox parishes for many generations as a theology of piety and practice. The necessary continuity for growth is to have some understanding of these truths commonly held by the Orthodox, and to be able to say, These Truths We Hold."

You can read it online:

http://www.sttikhonsmonastery.org/about_orthodoxy.html
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Brethren, let us also occupy yourselves with noetic prayer…, and seeking God’s mercy, cry out with a humble heart from morning till night and if possible all night long, saying constantly: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.” Saint John Chrysostom
Don Brigante
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« Reply #77 on: October 17, 2014, 11:09:32 AM »

These two are not books but lectures by prof. A.I. Osipov. It's two different lectures with the same title.

1 "Why Orthodoxy is the True Faith?"

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/7174.htm  (18 / 03 / 2004)

2 The lecture "Why Orthodoxy is the True Faith," delivered on September 13, 2000, at the Meeting of the Sretenskaya Lord's School in Moscow by A.I. Osipov, a professor of the Moscow Theological Academy.

http://www.stjohndc.org/Russian/homilies/HomiliesE/e_Osipov.htm

Prof. Osipov's Facebook
 
https://www.facebook.com/prof.alexeyosipov
 
Prof. Osipov's book "POSTHUMOUS LIFE. Deliberations of a contemporary theologian." Free download:
 
http://www.aosipov.ru/texts/POSTHUMOUS.doc
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Brethren, let us also occupy yourselves with noetic prayer…, and seeking God’s mercy, cry out with a humble heart from morning till night and if possible all night long, saying constantly: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.” Saint John Chrysostom
Don Brigante
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« Reply #78 on: October 26, 2014, 11:58:52 PM »

Lately, I have found this small book “Letters from a convert: Missionary letters from an Orthodox convert to her Protestant parents” by Marianna Friesel (1982). It’s a very small book, but it’s comprehensive enough to explain the basics of the Orthodox faith (the Bible, the Church, the Holy Tradition, salvation, ect) in plain English. Wish they republished the book!

“From its origin as a letter from one convert to the Orthodox Church to the frightened protestant parents of another (occasioned by the daughter's entry into a convent), the book grew as a collective effort between the letter's writer (who expanded it to three), her parish priest and members of the parish, and several participants in a "circulation list", including her bishop and several monks at Holy Trinity Monastery.”

http://www.amazon.com/Letters-convert-Missionary-Orthodox-Protestant/dp/0912927011

In Russian:

http://fatheralexander.org/booklets/russian/pisjma_protestantki.htm
« Last Edit: October 26, 2014, 11:59:21 PM by Don Brigante » Logged

Brethren, let us also occupy yourselves with noetic prayer…, and seeking God’s mercy, cry out with a humble heart from morning till night and if possible all night long, saying constantly: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.” Saint John Chrysostom
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« Reply #79 on: October 27, 2014, 12:05:03 AM »


I would definitely recommend this to inquirers and new converts, but with the following caveat: Fr. Seraphim lived an exceptional life. He was brilliant in many ways and progressed spiritually much more expediently than the typical convert. His example should be something we aspire to reach throughout our lives, not immediately after we emerge from the water and before the chrism even has a chance to dry.

He had zeal, holy zeal. Too often, we fill ourselves with the zeal of man and burn out as a result.

As always, discuss your spiritual readings with your spiritual father. Smiley
« Last Edit: October 27, 2014, 12:05:25 AM by lovesupreme » Logged

I am prone to bouts of sarcasm. Please forgive me if my posts have offended you.
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