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Author Topic: Questions about some books  (Read 2282 times) Average Rating: 0
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Shankar
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« on: October 22, 2005, 09:11:39 PM »

I wasn't completely sure if this is the right forum for these questions, but since I have a few questions related to various books, I put them in this forum.ÂÂ  I am putting several questions in one topic, rather than in individual topics.ÂÂ  I hope that is not a problem.


I have for a couple years now, been reading about first Christianity in general, and then Orthodox Christianity in particular.ÂÂ  I ams still not sure that I fully believe and should convert, but have had a strong feeling for some time now, that I will be Orthodox one day.

I am a very historically minded person, (I am majoring in history at college), and so understanding Christian history has been very important to me in my process of inquiry.ÂÂ  I was originally interested in Christian history before I became interested in Christian faith, and historical reading is still a big part of reading about the Orthodox Faith.

Recently, I have been trying to gain a (still very minor) understanding of the Christological contraversies of the fourth and successive centuries.ÂÂ  I would like to know if anybody has read any of the following histories of that period, and if anybody has any comments on them:

Saint Cyril of Alexandria: the Christological Controversy, by John A. McGuckin, I read the main text of this book, but did not read the translated texts in the back because of time issues.ÂÂ  I had borrowed the book from my school library, and did not renew it.

The following books are ones I found based on the citations in McGuckin's book, which I was able to find in my university library:

The Defense of Chalcedon in the East (451-553), by Patrick T. R. Gray
Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions, by John Meyendorff
The Rise of the Monophysite Movement: Chapters in the History of the Church in the Fifth and Sixth Centuries, by W. H. C. Frend

Of those three, I have read half of Gray's book, but not the others yet.ÂÂ  I was wondering if anybody here had read any of them and could comment.ÂÂ  Meyendorff's book, especially, looked promising when I skimmed it over.ÂÂ  I was a little surprised at the widespread use of the term Monophysite to describe the OO churches in the historiography, since I had understood that to be incorrect, but I assume that it was the common usage when the books were written.



Now, my other questions aren't really related to that one.ÂÂ  Recently, my university library acquired a copy of John Romanides' The Ancestral Sin.ÂÂ  I was very excited because Fr. Romanides' writings on the website www.romanity.org have been fundamental in directing me towards Orthodoxy.ÂÂ  So I have started reading this book.ÂÂ  I was wondering if there was anything I should know about the book, while reading it, and also, how Orthodox in general felt about the work of Fr. Romanides.


Now my last question: A lot of things I have seen directed toward potential converts seem to be primarilly directed to people of Catholic or Protestant background.ÂÂ  I come from a Hindu family, not a very observant one in some regards, but still my main religious background.ÂÂ  I was wondering if there was anything written about Orthodox Christianity aimed at people of this background, or any similar background.


Thank you all in advance for considering these questions.ÂÂ  If this is the wrong forum to post this, or if I should have broken up my questions into seperate posts, then I am sorry.


« Last Edit: October 22, 2005, 10:10:50 PM by Shankar » Logged
Athanasius A.
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« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2005, 09:59:10 PM »

Quote
The Defense of Chalcedon in the East (451-553), by Patrick T. R. Gray
Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions, by John Meyendorff
The Rise of the Monophysite Movement: Chapters in the History of the Church in the Fifth and Sixth Centuries, by W. H. C. Frend

Sounds like a very biased selection you have there. I’d advise that you balance that out with the following:

Chalcedon Re-examined by Fr. V.C. Samuel (This is a MUST read, especially if you consider yourself “historically minded”!)
The Council of Chalcedon and the Armenian Church by Karekin Sarkissian
Christology After Chalcedon by Iain Torrance

Be sure to check out the following online articles written from the Oriental Orthodox perspective:

The Humanity of Christ by Subdeacon Peter Theodore Farrington:
http://coptichymns.net/index.php?module=pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=1&pid=394

After Chalcedon - Orthodoxy in the 5th/6th Centuries by Subdeacon Peter Theodore Farrington:
http://coptichymns.net/index.php?module=pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=1&pid=380

The Orthodox Christology of St Severus of Antioch by Subdeacon Peter Theodore Farrington:
http://coptichymns.net/index.php?module=pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=1&pid=393

Saint Timothy Aelurus of Alexandria by Subdeacon Peter Theodore Farrington:
http://coptichymns.net/index.php?module=pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=1&pid=384

Monophysitism Reconsidered by Fr. Matthias Wahba:
http://coptichymns.net/index.php?module=pagesetter&func=viewpub&tid=1&pid=271

Christological Disputations during the 4th and 5th Centuries  by His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy:
http://metroplit-bishoy.org/files/Christology/Christological%20Controversies.doc

Saint Severus: His Life and Christology by His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy:
http://metroplit-bishoy.org/files/Christology/siteseverus.doc

Interpretation of the Christological Official Agreements between  the Orthodox Church
and the Oriental Orthodox Churches by His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy:
http://metroplit-bishoy.org/files/Dialogues/Byzantine/CHRSTAGR.doc
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Shankar
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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2005, 10:15:59 PM »

Athanasius A.,

Thank you very much for those suggestions.ÂÂ  The bias in the selection of books I listed was not intententional, and I am very grateful for your advice.ÂÂ  I have not yet learned very much about the OO Church, and am eager to learn.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2005, 10:16:20 PM by Shankar » Logged
Justin Kissel
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2005, 10:22:21 PM »

Shankar,

Quote
Recently, my university library acquired a copy of John Romanides' The Ancestral Sin.  I was very excited because Fr. Romanides' writings on the website www.romanity.org have been fundamental in directing me towards Orthodoxy.  So I have started reading this book.  I was wondering if there was anything I should know about the book, while reading it, and also, how Orthodox in general felt about the work of Fr. Romanides.

I have not read The Ancestral Sin, but have read most of the works by Romanides put up on the romanity website. From what I gather, the theological work of Mr. Romanides is respected by most Orthodox Christians, across a wide range of viewpoints. I would generally agree with that. However, I do find him to be a little hyper-apologetic at times. That is to say, I think he tends to turn small issues into large ones, which is fine if your aim is simply to bring the issue out into the light, but can be dangerous if everyone follows that tendency and makes it into the norm. His writings on Saint Augustine and his theology I personally find to be exaggerated, and his thoughts on usage of terms like Byzantine I think are more harmful than helpful, mostly because he makes such a fuss over such an unimportant issue. On the other hand, some of his writings on other issues, like attributing to the Photian and Palamite councils an Ecumenical Council status, I consider very thought provoking.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2005, 10:24:10 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

Problem: John finds a spider under his bed. John eats the spider. John gets sick to his stomach.

Question: Why did John get sick?
Shankar
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« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2005, 10:32:47 PM »

Asteriktos,

Thanks!  I will keep in mind what you have said, concerning St. Augustine and the other things.  I will note that I am sympathetic to his opinions on the term "Byzantine" though, since I have generally found that term bothersome.  But I understand what you mean; I guess its a question of emphasis.
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Athanasius A.
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« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2005, 11:18:00 PM »

The bias in the selection of books I listed was not intententional

Oh I never meant to imply that it was! Forgive me if I came across like that.


 This username was created by an individual who is already registered here at OC.net.  Individuals are only permitted one username as stated in the forum rules.
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Shankar
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2005, 12:25:04 AM »

Athanasius A,

No, it wasn't your fault; I just wanted to make sure I was being clear.  That's all.
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norespite
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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2005, 12:38:06 PM »

Shankar

There is a very interesting article in the Spring 2005 issue of Road to Emmaus about a convert from Jainism.  Here is the description from the webpage: http://www.roadtoemmaus.net
From Jainism to Orthodoxy: An Indian Passage
Radha Jagat (Elesa) Dalal speaks of her girlhood in India, her country’s recent history, and her upbringing as a pacifist Jain. With colorful detail and fascinating insight into daily Indian life, Elesa and her husband Symeon Branson contemplate Jain belief and her conversion to Orthodox Christianity.
I will try and scan it or something for you.

As for Fr. John I highly respect his writings but I agree with Asteriktos on his critiques. (Check out as well Metropolitan Hierotheos' writings while you're at Romanity.)

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...when the attacks of the demons are particularly strong, the intellect does not have a moment's respite.  This is because it is weakened by the passions to which is has succumbed in the past.  But if it goes on searching, it will find; and if it knocks, the door will be opened.
Shankar
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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2005, 01:56:49 PM »

Norespite,

Thank you very much for the article!ÂÂ  

And I will be sure to read Met. Hierotheos' writings too.ÂÂ  Once again, thanks.


EDIT:
I just went to the website, and realized that the article is not posted online.  Do you know where I could get a print copy of the magazine?  Would I need to order it online, or would I be able to find one in a store or something?
« Last Edit: October 26, 2005, 02:01:44 PM by Shankar » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2005, 05:23:02 PM »

Shankar

Road to Emmaus isn't carried by very many people, you may see it in a Church bookstore every once in a while. You can order it online though. I will try to scan it tonight and can send it to you.
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...when the attacks of the demons are particularly strong, the intellect does not have a moment's respite.  This is because it is weakened by the passions to which is has succumbed in the past.  But if it goes on searching, it will find; and if it knocks, the door will be opened.
Shankar
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« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2005, 08:00:31 PM »

That's very kind of you!  Also, which of Metropolitan Hierotheos' writings would you suggest I start with?
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« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2005, 08:24:15 PM »

I've only read "The Illness and the cure of the soul..." and "A Night in the Desert..." actually but I've looked through others and he covers a lot of the same things.  So I'm guessing that if you got "Orthodox Spirituality" it would be a very good introduction.  I bought the Visual Catechism for a friend of mine and she really liked it-if I remember correctly it went through the Church year explaining the different feasts.  What I really like about his writings is the approach in which he writes which in the above that I've read is a dialogue-especially in "The Illness..." he explains the differences between Orthodox spirituality and various other attempts at "curing the soul".

ps. I'm still at school so that's why I haven't been able to get the Road to Emmaus article for you, and I don't have internet at home so I will get it to you tomorrow.
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...when the attacks of the demons are particularly strong, the intellect does not have a moment's respite.  This is because it is weakened by the passions to which is has succumbed in the past.  But if it goes on searching, it will find; and if it knocks, the door will be opened.
Shankar
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« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2005, 08:41:03 PM »

Thanks again, I'll look through the Metropolitan's website, and I'll probably try to buy at least one of his books when I have the spare money. 

And no need to rush with article.  You are doing me a favor, and I don't want to cause you any trouble.  Take as much time as you need!
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« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2005, 08:22:15 PM »

Now my last question: A lot of things I have seen directed toward potential converts seem to be primarilly directed to people of Catholic or Protestant background.ÂÂ  I come from a Hindu family, not a very observant one in some regards, but still my main religious background.ÂÂ  I was wondering if there was anything written about Orthodox Christianity aimed at people of this background, or any similar background.



Shankar,

You may appreciate writing or talking with Fr. Seraphim Majmudar, an Orthodox priest who was raised as a Hindu (http://www.slocc.com/contact/profs/frseraphim.shtml). His email is frseraphim@slocc.com
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« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2005, 10:11:44 PM »

Dear Shankar,


Welcome !

If you are interested in reading Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos' books, I would kindly suggest that you start with "The Illness and Cure of the Soul in the Orthodox Tradition."  It cogently and concisely states his main point, namely, that the human soul can only be cured through theosis.

His book "Orthodox Psychotherapy" discusses the same idea but with much greater thoroughness and many references to the Church's Fathers.  It may be too much to start with.

Thus, it might be better to start with "The Illness and Cure of the Soul in the Orthodox Tradition."  There is a lot there, in very concentrated form.  Perhaps let that sink in first and then, later, proceed to "Orthodox Spirituality."

Also, I would kindly suggest reading "The Mountain of Silence" by Kyriacos C. Markides.  It too is written in the form of a dialogue (mostly), and it too discusses theosis.  It differs from the other books (above) by exploring the spirituality of theosis for the seeker. 

These books can be obtained through www.light-n-life.com, which is a good source for Orthodox materials.

In closing, I am not a Hindu, but I did go through a period of exploring Hinduism before I returned to Christianity.  If you would like to chat, feel free to send me a private message.

May God bless you and guide you unto His very Self, starting now and foretasting forever, through Jesus Christ: His only Son, our Lord.
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Shankar
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« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2005, 02:53:59 PM »

Iustinos, thank you!ÂÂ  I read Fr Seraphim's biography that you linked to and it was a joy to read.ÂÂ  I may try to contact him in the future, if I have the chance.

Arjuna, thanks for the recommendations!ÂÂ  Also, I'll take your offer and pm you in the future if I have any specific questions on that subject.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2005, 02:54:22 PM by Shankar » Logged
Shankar
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« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2005, 09:54:08 PM »

My university's library just obtained a copy of the book recommended earlier, The Council of Chalcedon Re-examined by Fr. V.C. Samuel.  I now have a chance to read the book, and am quite pleased with my success in recommending books to the university library for purchase  Grin

The biography printed in this edition of the book describes Father Samuel as a very prolific writer.  Is there anything else written by him that is relatively easily accessible?
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