Rome Constantinople Moscow Historical and Theological


Rome Constantinople Moscow Historical and Theological Studies This is a compilation of essays on various historical and theological issues which discuss aspects of the estrangement between the two halves of the Christian world and present an evaluation of several attempts at healing the schism It incluudes studies of various historical and theological issues which have arisen between East and West and discusses the problems related to the Fall of Byzantium and the rise of Russia as a major centre of Orthodox mission and thought A wonderfully stimulating assortment of historical and theological essays by the late John Meyendorff Several themes pervade these pieces such as the discussion of caesaropapism in the Byzantine Empire papal power and the legitimacy of the concept of Moscow as the Third Rome Eastern Orthodoxy remains a mystery to many Western Christians especially Protestants and I learned or was reminded of many interesting details of Orthodoxy• Meyendorff points out that just as Western Europe was recovering the insights of Aristotle and integrating it into theology through scholasticism Eastern Orthodoxy was rejecting such philosophy; Paradoxically in the Middle Ages the East was becoming less 'Greek' than the West• Related to a rejection of scholasticism was the tendency for dynamic Eastern theology to be conducted by those in monastic vocations such as Maximus the Confessor In analyzing the rise of the universities in Western Europe and the professionalization of theology Meyendorff notes that theology became a science p 75 This would have conseuences; when Byzantine theologians met their Latin counterparts who were graduates of Western universities they encountered not only professionalism and argumentative skills unprecedented in Christendom but also a sense of academic and cultural self sufficiency which often bewildered them making them even defensive in their attitude towards Latin Christendomp 77 78 Still Byzantine theology was able to produce a sophisticated tradition brimming with beauty both intellectually and materially that greatly impressed Russians p 121• In chronicling the estrangement that occurred between the Latin West and Greek East Meyendorff nicely summarizes that With the Gregorian reformation the Crusades the 'imperial papacy' of Innocent III the rise of Scholasticism and the universities and in the fourteenth century the various intellectual trends that culminated in conciliarism and the Great Schism of the West Latin Christendom considered itself to be a self sufficient model of unity The East meanwhile remained uite allergic to the institutional developments of the West particularly to the centralized papacy whereas the monastic theology triumphant in Byzantium in the fourteenth century emphasized the experiential mystical and eschatological elements of the Christian faith rather than the legal and the rational principles that dominated the ecclesial institutions of the west p 46 47• It was only with the Second Vatican Council that there was an affirmation by the Roman Catholic Church towards the vernacular at the expense of Latin Eastern Orthodoxy was like Protestantism in that it had no ualms about translation; indeed the early missionary efforts of the brothers Cyril and Methodius bear witness to this• Russian Orthodoxy generally avoided the importation of classical culture that was eagerly grafted into Latin Christianity Western intellectual currents only really arrived in Russia during the Enlightenment p 121 Meyendorff asserts that a Latin medieval scholar who knew Latin would not only read Christian scriptures but also Cicero Augustine and eventually Aristotlea Russian knizhnik scribe would only have at his disposal works translated from the Greek and channeled through the Church ie liturgical hagiographic canonical and some historical materials p 119 120 Meyendorff further comments that although Eastern Orthodoxy acknowledged the genuine insights of Hellenic civilization its believers still saw a profound incompatibility between Athens and Jerusalem and adopted only a transfigured Platonism which had abandoned some of the basic principles upon which Platonism was built p 120• Meyendorff contrasts the Latin papacy with the classical concept of pentarchy in which the five sees of Rome Alexandria Antioch Constantinople and Jerusalem would reach conciliar agreements Interestingly as Russia rose and Latin West and Greek East drifted further apart there was floated the idea that Moscow could replace Rome as the fifth see of the pentarchy p 138• As mentioned earlier caesaropaism is a freuent topic in these essays Empire and ecclesia are often deemed to rivals with one another for power Meyendorff draws upon christology to understand the Eastern Orthodox perspective writing In Christ the two natures are united without separation or confusion into one single hypostasis or person who is the uniue source of their united though distinct existence The adoption of this christological model as a pattern for the organization of society illustrates uite well the contrast between the legally minded West and the eschatologically oriented East p 175Reading Rome Constantinople Moscow Historical and Theological Studies will provide readers with important and intriguing insights into Eastern Orthodoxy during the time of Byzantium and the rise of Orthodoxy in Russia

  • Paperback
  • 201 pages
  • Rome Constantinople Moscow Historical and Theological Studies
  • John Meyendorff
  • English
  • 10 February 2014
  • 9780881411348

About the Author: John Meyendorff

Fr John Meyendorff 1926 1992 was a Professor of Church History and Patristics at St Vladimir s Orthodox Theological Seminary and a professor of History at Fordham University NY He was a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities 1976 77 and a Guggenheim Fellow He held honorary doctorates from the University of Notre Dame and General Theological Seminary was a Corresponding Fello


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