Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes

By John Meyendorff | Go to book overview

ogy, not only as carriers of religious orthodoxy, but also as historical phenomena of mixed cultural content. Theological orthodoxy itself cannot be fully defined and conceptually expressed without careful and critical historical research, which serves to overthrow idols and to avoid misconceptions. On the other hand, this same research, if it is really objective, shows the existence of a remarkable and theologically consistent tradition, which includes the Greek Fathers of the fourth century, the christology of Cyril of Alexandria, and the synthesis of Maximus the Confessor and of Gregory Palamas. In the author's opinion, this consistent tradition represents the mainstream of theological thought in Byzantium and coincides with the very content of Orthodox religious experience.

I fully realize that the existence of the "mainstream" is challenged by some historians. Some would claim, for example, that the group of anti-Palamite theologians of the fourteenth century were, in fact, the true representatives of the earlier patristic thought, which was being betrayed by Palamas. The debate on this point was started earlier in this century by Martin Jugie and was recently resumed by several authors, including particularly Gerhard Podskalsky. The issue has a number of historical, philosophical, and, certainly, confessional implications; it must be pursued further.

The debate itself shows that Byzantine theology involved crucial issues of Christian thinking and experience, which continue to be at the center of theological thinking today. Thus, a purely historical approach inevitably leads to a debate on substance.

The author would like to repeat here his acknowledgments from the original edition of this work. He is particularly indebted to the late Edwin A. Quain, S.J., formerly Editorial Associate of Fordham Uni­ versity Press, who was not sparing of his time, energy, and extraordinary competence in improving the text, and also to the Rev. Walter J. Burghardt, S.J., Editor of Theological Studies, for reading the manuscript and making several useful suggestions. He also owes thanks to Professor Jaroslav Pelikan, Dean of the Graduate School, Yale University, for allowing him pre-publication access to and use of his monumental The Christian Tradition.

J. M.

-viii-

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Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION vii
  • Bibliography 229
  • Index 239
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