The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity

The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity

The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity

The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity

Synopsis

Now available in paperback, this Companion offers an unparalleled survey of the history, theology, doctrine, worship, art, culture and politics that make up the churches of Eastern Christianity.
  • Covers both Byzantine traditions (such as the Greek, Russian and Georgian churches) and Oriental traditions (such as the Armenian, Coptic and Syrian churches)
  • Brings together an international team of experts to offer the first book of its kind on the subject of Eastern Christianity
  • Contributes to our understanding of recent political events in the Middle East and Eastern Europe by providing much needed background information
  • May be used alongside The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity (1999) for a complete student resource

Excerpt

The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity provides readers with an opportunity to gain an overview of the different traditions that make up the vast but somewhat neglected field of Eastern Christian Studies. The chapters in this volume offer a wide range of material relating to the histories, theologies, and cultural expressions of Christian communities still largely unknown to those outside them. It offers a chance to compare and contrast the variety of traditions that constitute what are commonly known as the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches. Perhaps for the first time it is possible to trace within the covers of a single book the various strands that make up the rich tapestry of Eastern Christianity. For it is only by seeing these strands in their historical context that we can begin to comprehend and appreciate what unites the eastern churches as well as what divides them. It is my hope that this Companion will contribute to a new and fuller understanding of the Christian East.

The physical wall between East and West may have been demolished, but the psychological wall between them is still firmly in place, and some on both sides of it are more than keen to see that it remains that way. The old views of a despotic and corrupt East versus a pragmatic and progressive West die hard. The ghost of the eighteenthcentury historian Edward Gibbon, who characterized Byzantium as a debased form of classical culture and who saw only decline where once there had been glory, still haunts the western mind. Unfortunately ignorance of the religious history of Eastern Europe and the Middle East has been only too apparent in western reactions to recent events. Samuel Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilizations’ perpetuates an outmoded and inaccurate perception of European history that values divisiveness and difference above compatibility and interdependence, and sees only black and white where grey predominates. There is an alternative model that needs to be pressed into service and it is one in which eastern Christians play a prominent role.

The West has only just begun to appreciate the spiritual and cultural treasures of the Christian East, and the initiatives that I have been involved with, such as The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity (1999) and this Companion, are intended to promote informed discussion and better understanding. There is much we can learn from the East which is applicable to our own situation, but which requires openness . . .

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