Academic journal article Theological Studies

God as Love: The Concept and Spiritual Aspect of Agape in Modern Russian Religious Thought

Academic journal article Theological Studies

God as Love: The Concept and Spiritual Aspect of Agape in Modern Russian Religious Thought

Article excerpt

God as Love: The Concept and Spiritual Aspect of Agape in Modern Russian Religious Thought. By Johannes Miroslav Oravecz. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014. Pp. xvii + 518. $40.

Oravecz is impressively faithful to his stated task, "to individuate, contextualize, and emphasize the concept and spiritual aspects that best represent 'God as Love'" over the last two centuries of Russian religious thought (6). 0. opens with a survey of Russia's turbulent intellectual history whose ferment was indelibly stamped by longstanding sparring over the strained relationship among the church, state, and culture. Twenty-five religious thinkers are placed in this context and their texts on divine love examined. The historical and textual proximity of lesser and well-known thinkers highlights the diversity and dynamism of Russian religious discourse. O. skillfully weaves in parallel European trends, making evident the influence of German romanticism and the awareness of broader Catholic and Protestant debates. These Russians were no stranger to continental conversations.

Divine love is indeed explored, made evident in the theologically tenacious threads of divine-human communion as both the source and goal of growth into love; the essential fact and risk, from creation itself, of human freedom to love; and the broadly creative fruitfulness of love. Delightfully evident is the insistence that theological reasoning springs from a sensual and emotional experience of God's love, evidenced in the theological manuals of lesser-known thinkers, such as Bishop Silv'str Malevanskii (1828-1908) and Nikolai Malinovskii (1861-1917), to the poetic theosophy of Vladimir Solv'ev (1853-1900) and Viacheslev Ivanov (1866-1949). …

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