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1. Encountering the Mystery: Understanding
2. Eastern Orthodox Christianity:
3. Orthodox Prayer Life: The Interior
4. Surprised by Christ: My Journey
5. The Orthodox Study Bible: Ancient
6. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox
7. Strangers and Neighbors: What
8. The Orthodox Way
9. The Orthodox Church: New Edition
10. The Spiritual Wisdom and Practices
11. Sweeter Than Honey: Orthodox Thinking
12. The Transfigured Cosmos: Four
13. The Orthodox Church: An Introduction
14. Churchly Joy: Orthodox Devotions
15. Committed to Christianity: Eastern
16. Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity
17. The Orthodox Churches In A Pluralistic
18. Understanding the Greek Orthodox
19. The Way: What Every Protestant
20. Simple Guides The Orthodox Church

1. Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today
Hardcover: 304 Pages (2008-03-18)
list price: US$22.95 -- used & new: US$7.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B00394DGZU
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
As Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I is the symbol of unity for the self-governing national and ethnic Orthodox Christian churches throughout the world. He is well known for his commitment to protecting the environment, and for opening communications with other Christians (especially the Roman Catholic Church) as well as with Muslims and other religious groups.

Written with personal warmth and great erudition, ENCOUNTERING THE MYSTERY illuminates the rich culture and soul of Orthodox Christianity. Bartholomew I traces the roots of Orthodox Christianity to its founding 2000 years ago, explores its spirituality and doctrine, and explains its liturgy and art. More especially, in a unique and unprecedented way, he relates Orthodox Christianity to contemporary issues, such as freedom and human rights, social justice and globalization, as well as nationalism and war.

With a recent rebirth of Orthodox Christian churches (particularly in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe), there has been great interest in understanding this important branch of Christianity with its close ties to the traditions of the early Church. As USA TODAY recently reported, Orthodox Christian churches throughout the country are drawing converts attracted by the beauty of its liturgy and inspired by its enduring theology and teachings. But for the general seeker, whatever their background, ENCOUNTERING THE MYSTERY is a rich spiritual source that draws upon the wisdom of millennia. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book was very helpful to this "newbee" to Orthodoxy
I read this book from cover to cover, and I found it extremely helpful in explaining many aspects of my newly chosen faith, Orthodox Christianity. I feel the book is very well written, and is easily understandable by the average person. I'm glad it's not written in a "academic" fashion or in a tone that suggests insularity...as if to say "that's for me to know and you to find out.Far too many Christian books are written like that, and it can really put people off rather than bring them closer to knowledge...and to God.

The parts of the book I appreciated most were the sections on why Orthodox Christians fast. In fact, I wish I had read that specific chapter BEFORE going into my very first fasting period ever, this past Apostles Fast June 2010!I also liked the chapter on monasticism and marriage. The chapters on the environment were very illuminating as well.

I can see how some people would get angry and get the impresion that somehow the Patriarch was speaking as if he were an apologeticist for other religions outside of Orthodoxy. Yes, the Patriarch was taking a big risk in talking about Islam in a way to suggest that Christians should approach them with love and respect rather than as the "other." However, what he speaks is exactly what Christ told years in the Scriptures! We're to love our neighbor as ourselves...and that love is supposed to be without conditions or quid pro quos.There are some who want to continue to interpret Christianity as some extreme right-wing fanatical effort to push conservative ideals and materialism, but those things have nothing to do with true Christianity whether in or out of the Eastern Orthodox church! I felt it took a lot of courage for a Patriarch who is very beleagured to speak the truth about how we should all be peacemakers rather than warmongers. What he says about prosyltism makes perfect sense. There is a big difference between sharing one's faith and imposing it upon others. If one is secure in their faith, they do not need to "sell" it.That one of the reasons I was attracted to Orthodoxy. People didn't go falling on me and pushing me to make a commitment right off the bat. In fact, they were more about "slow down" and make sure this is what you true hearts desire is.That's what I see the Patriarach is saying, just like what my own parish archpriest said to me when I approached him about being received into the faith.

Anyway, I would recommend this book to people who are considering the Orthodox church, as well as the books by Kallistos Ware and Frederica Mathewes-Green. Each of them have something of value to say.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good book with very good insights
I am impressed in reading this book, and although I am not Orthodox (I'm Roman Catholic), I appreciate the spiritual and social insights that the Patriarch offers.It calms me and gives me hope in many ways when I read this book.

It is amazing to witness some of the "hate" spewed by some Orthodox reviewers toward their own spiritual leader...but then I guess you always get that kind of stuff when dealing with human beings, no matter where you go.

As for me, I would recommend this book to anyone, Orthodox or not, Christian or not.The world needs more people like Patriarch Bartholomew.

4-0 out of 5 stars Satisfactory Book
Very good presentation of the Orthodox faith and its mysteries.
Recomended to anyone wishing to have an insight into Orthodox Christianity.

3-0 out of 5 stars Rather disappointing
While it was of course refreshing to see the Ecumenical Patriarch offer a popular introductory volume about the Orthodox Church and its faith, to be honest this book is bogged down by far too much space spent describing the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, on the one hand, and interesting side issues, like environmentalism -- rather than the core of the Orthodox Church and its faith.Much of the first few parts of the book are either overly detailed with respect to the day to day workings of the Patriarchate, or extremely biased with respect to jurisdictional claims which are hardly universally recognized in the Orthodox Church.Of course the Ecumenical Patriarch is more than entitled to express his views on such matters, but to include so much material about this in an introductory volume such as this one is quite jarring and disappointing.As a result, this is not really a general popular introduction to the Orthodox Church, but rather a more quixotic introduction to the views of the Ecumenical Patriarchate -- it works well as the latter (hence three stars) but not terribly well as the former.

For a general introduction, Metr. Kallistos's two volumes "The Orthodox Church" and "The Orthodox Way" remain the best choices -- quite a bit better than this volume.

4-0 out of 5 stars When Patriarch Meets Adult Christian Learners
The parish where I call home entertained this text by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, in English translation, as part of its Lenten-Paschal adult education cycle in 2008. Parish members reacted favorably to their "encounter" with "the Mystery." Approachable in style and presentation, the text appealed to cradle-Orthodox with marginal language skills as well as other readers, who were adept in themes explored from across Orthodox and non-Orthodox Christian traditions. The journey toward a common center did not reduce either pole of reading comprehension to mediocrity. Rather, the text united and refined themes for discussion around a core of the living Church, which remains a real and present Mystery. ... Read more

2. Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective
by Daniel B. Clendenin
Paperback: 192 Pages (2003-10-01)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$3.69
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0801026520
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
In this reliable and engaging survey, Daniel Clendenin introduces Protestants to Eastern Orthodox history and theology with the hope that the two groups will come to see their traditions as complementary and learn to approach one another with a "hermeneutic of love" that fosters "mutual respect, toleration, and even support." This revised edition includes a new preface, a new chapter, and an updated bibliography. In addition to updated demographic information, Clendenin examines at length a particular aspect of Orthodoxy's intersection with Protestantism-its growing exchange with evangelicalism. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction to Orthodoxy for the Non-Orthodox
This is a very good book to begin to understand the Ancient, Orthodox Church.I had been a Protestant for over 20 years and knew absolutely nothing about the Orthodox Church and this was a good place to start since it is written from a Western perspective by a Protestant.This was the first book that helped me towards my journey to the Ancient Christian Faith - the Orthodox Church.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good but not great
I picked up this book for cheap and had a free weekend so I figured I would give it a read.I think the author doesa good job of finding common ground and explaining some of the theology of the Orthodox church.Which in all fairness was his goal . . . But he sticks with the things that we can easily share common ground on and makes it look like the divisions are simply semantics.I thought it convenient that he left out all he other stuff that makes peoples heads spin.I mean when you get to the end of the book you are kinda thinking well why don't we all just hold hands and sing a chorus or two.Thats not even close to the reality of things I am afraid.

So while I wasn't so impressed it was an OK read.His perspective was interesting.And it provides a good book for me to give to my in-laws when trying to explain to them that I really haven't gone off the deep end by joining the Orthodox church"See mom . . we really are just the same . . . .just different decorations . . . " and that I am thankful for.it helps that it is written by a protestant.However if you want real church history and a real overview of the church and her theology I am going to have to concur with everyone else that "The Orthodox Church" by T.K. Wareis far and away a much better source.

4-0 out of 5 stars Useful
I am very grateful for Clendenin for assembling his collection of essays by prominent Orthodox theologians and historians, since many are out of print in their original publications. See here for that useful collection: Eastern Orthodox Theology: A Contemporary Reader.

However, this book I found to be rather curious and misleading at the end. It is always tricky to critique someone else's religious tradition (although I attempt it all the time), and I am not sure that the author has been completely successful in representing the views of eastern Christianity with accuracy, which then leads to me to wonder which version of Orthodoxy he rejects.

He leaves aside discussions of the saints, Mary and the sacraments (mysteries) as the subject of discussion after one has already examined the nature of tradition, scripture, deification, icons and negative theology (Apophaticism). This makes some sense since they are the distinctive doctrines that most Protestants, especially Evangelicals, have very little exposure to via their Roman Catholic friends (or, more likely, based upon the wild Romaphobic stereotypes adrift in the evangelical subculture). On the whole he is presents a very sympathetic view of Orthodoxy, agreeing that a sense of wonder and mystery should accompany the more analytical, logical theological structure of his own tradition. On the whole I think he is fair.

My only questions would surround the following point. He mentions that the dividing difference between Orthodox and Evangelicals is ecclesiological, but, unless I missed it, he never goes into that point in the previous chapters, leaving me a little lost to the point. If it is so important, why was it overlooked? Perhaps he means that since Orthodox reject the branch theory of Church history (what I would see as "Bride of Frankenstein" ecclesiology, with everyone have a body part of the bride), Orthodox somehow deny the work of God in the lives of non-Orthodox Christians, Catholic or Protestant. But Orthodoxy does not teach that. It surprises me that he would make such a claim, especially since he was the editor of the above-mentioned collection of essays. I would assume he actually read the authors to make the editorial decisions involved. So while Orthodox indeed claim to be the only and true Bride of Christ, it does not follow that the Holy Spirit is limited to the boundaries of that Church. The Spirit blows where it will. Or, as Bishop Kallistos Ware has said, "We are bound by the sacraments. God is not bound by them."

Buy this book, but also take the time to read other works on the subject, including these helpful resources: Common Ground: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian, The Orthodox Way, How Are We Saved?: The Understanding of Salvation in the Orthodox Tradition, Discovering the Rich Heritage of Orthodoxy.

Regarding his statement that the quality of Muslim treatment toward Orthodox is "a matter of some debate" is more than off the wall. Please refer to The Dhimmi: Jews & Christians Under Islam.

My other review often are about ecumenical topics, so they also may be useful.

May all be one.

4-0 out of 5 stars America's "fourth major religion" introduced
Orthodox Christianity is little known to mainstream Americans, be they Christian or otherwise.It seems an exotic import from Russia, Greece, and the Balkans, and as foreign to American Protestantism or even American Roman Catholicism as Tibetan Buddhism.Moreover, there's a great deal of skepticism and even outright rancor directed at Orthodoxy by many Protestants and Roman Catholics.The former see it as unbiblical (whatever that charge means) and the latter see it as a challenge.Finally, too many Orthodox in this country take such an exclusivistic position when it comes to salvation (only the Orthodox Church is the one true church) that they only encourage wariness or dislike by non-Orthodox.(Each of these positions is reflected, by the way, in earlier amazon.com reviews of this book.)

Daniel Clendenin's _Eastern Orthodox Christianity_ has the great merit of introducing the "fourth major religion" to Americans in a reader-friendly and remarkably accurate (for an outsider) way.Other introductions to Orthodoxy are just as good (e.g., Timothy Ware's _The Orthodox Church_), but they're written by insiders.Clendenin is an evangelical Protestant who spent some years teaching in Moscow and absorbing the doctrines and liturgy of Orthodoxy.He writes with a great deal of sensitivity and sympathy.

Clendenin begins with a short history of the Eastern Orthodox Church and its break with the Western Latin Church.Then he focuses on its doctrine, dealing chapter-by-chapter with its understanding of God, the importance of icons and incarnationism, pneumatology, and theological anthropology.He concludes with a couple of chapters that spell out his reservations about Orthodoxy, and his reasons for remaining a Protestant, in spite of his agreement with many aspects of Orthodoxy.(An earlier reviewer who criticized Clendenin's "uncritical approach" apparently skipped these chapters.)

Clendenin is particularly good in his discussion of apophasis, and his analysis of Orthodoxy's skepticism of rational "worded" theology and its embrace and celebration of mystery.His chapter on anthropology, in which he focuses on theosis--a much neglected Christian fundamental here in the West--is also masterful.

The chapter on icons isn't as well thought-through.A Protestant confused about the significance of icons for Orthodox Christians isn't likely to get a great deal of clarification here.Clendenin also occasionally cites Patristic quotations already cited by secondary authors, rather than going to the original texts themselves, and this is a bit troubling.But it must also be pointed out that one of the remarkably refreshing features of his book is his generous quotations of early Greek Fathers who aren't often studied in the West.

All in all, Clendenin's book is an invaluable resource for outsiders interested in the "fourth major religion" in this country.Highly recommended, particularly when read along the accompanying anthology _Eastern Orthodox Theology:A Contemporary Reader_.

3-0 out of 5 stars Could have been better
I think the author did a lot of work on this book and it is helpful but it really reads like a book written by someone trying to convert Protestants to Orthodoxy. The mystery is why Clendenin is still Protestant.The book does not make, as I recall, one criticism of the theology or practice of Orthodoxy.For Protestants who would like to examine Orthodoxy biblically (e.g., evaluate the biblical underpinnings of icons, pro and con) this would not be a good choice.I would recommend "The Three Great Churches" (Rials) or "the Gospel According to Rome" (McCarthy). Even though the latter is about Catholicism, many of the issues are the same for Orthodoxy.All that said, this book and its companion (the reader) are very helpful and illuminating for those wanting to understand Orthodoxy from a theologian's perspective. The graphics are very good and it is very well documented. ... Read more

3. Orthodox Prayer Life: The Interior Way
by Matthew the Poor
Paperback: 292 Pages (2003-12-31)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$19.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0881412503
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Saints who experience the power of prayer say it gives them wings to fly: wings of elation from being in proximity with Jesus Christ and relief from the burden of a sinful conscience. Once engulfed in the grace of the Holy Spirit, the person in prayer experiences death to sin, resurrection in the Spirit, and mystical ascension to the Father. The visible touches the Invisible, and joy wells up in the human heart. This volume evolved experientially: the fruit of fifty-five years of solitude by a contemporary desert monk besieged by prayer. Father Matta's prayer life initially was formed under the direction of the sayings of the Russian Fathers, and later expanded under the direction of other Fathers, both Eastern and Western. He spent whole nights in prayer, reciting one or two passages from these luminaries and begging these saints to enlighten his understanding. Father Matta discloses: Whenever physical hunger turned cruel against me, I found my gratification in prayer. Whenever the biting cold of winter was unkind to me, I found my warmth in prayer. Whenever people were harsh to me (and their harshness was severe indeed) I found my comfort in prayer. In short, prayer became my food and my drink, my outfit and my armor, whether by night or by day. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Why the West needs the East
It's a shame that the Coptic Church is not visibly in union with Rome.As many reading this will know, they never were guilty of the Nestorian heresy. This "Eastern lung" as Pope John Paul II referred to the Eastern Church, is clearly much less 'smoke-filled' than so much of the 'Western Lung'.

The value of the deep spirituality of the Coptic (mystic) Monks is immeasurable and Matta El-Meskeen, who lived the life of the great desert fathers of the past, has so much to teach any Christian willing to take the time and read the 'pearls of wisdom' contained in the pages of this book.

It's not a book that can be read from from front to back.It requires reading a page at a time and sometime only a paragraph or phrase.One is called to reflect, pray and learn from this master.

Anyone who is serious about enhancing their prayer life would do well to acquire this and other writings of Abuna El-Meskeen.Check out his monastery's website ([...]).

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the Priceless Treasures by a True Loving profound Coptic Father
I have no more than saying that this is a very high and unique extremely profound style of Christian writing by an author who is commonly described as a Christian school for his many writings and oral teaching on different aspects of Christianity. The writer is a *Coptic monk who spent most of his life in prayers in the deserts of Egypt. You really need to read this book which was his first book three years after he had abandoned the world to dwell the desert for the rest of his life and after he had been a rich phrmacist. This book can be said to be a true masterpiece that I enjoyed reading it several times in Arabic before being translated into English with many other books by the same writer. This is published by (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press". Thanks to Amazon for making such treasures available for that reasonable price.

Wish you all the best.

*the Copts are currently the christians of Egypt (mostly Orthodox) and they are the descendants of the Ancient Egyptians - Different from the Arab of Egypt. the words Copt and Egypt are mainly derived from the Greek word 'Aiguptos' different from the current Arabic name of Egypt 'Misr' which means 'country' in Arabic

4-0 out of 5 stars A worthwhile read
Though I'm an Old Order Baptist, there are many insights within Matthew the Poor's writings. I appreciate the scriptural references which add in understanding his perspectives. It has the academic side along with the experiential. Thanks to the Lord and the Coptic Church.

5-0 out of 5 stars This is the real thing: God waits for us to approach Him through prayer
This is the most profound and life changing book I have encountered in my entire life with the sole exception of the Bible.Anyone with the slightest inclination to explore what prayer can reveal to us should read and cherish this book.It is profound in the extreme, insightful and precise. Matthew the Poor shows us that God is waiting for us and the route to Him is through prayer.The author shows what awaits those who are willing to throw their entire heart and soul into prayer - communion with God in an amazing and intimate way.This is the polar opposite of trite and formulaic approach to the spiritual touted by popular culture, this carries the pedigree of centuries of monastic life in the desert, this is real, this is eternal.

5-0 out of 5 stars My prayers have been answered on "how to pray"!
I've always sought to find someone to guide me in prayer proper, and I found it in this book. Assimilating the early Fathers the data provided has been tested, tasted and prooven for our benefit and for the Glory and expansion of God's Kingdom -a must have book for anyone serious about praying effectively to God. ... Read more

4. Surprised by Christ: My Journey from Judaism to Orthodox Christianity
by A. James Bernstein
Paperback: 337 Pages (2008-05-15)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$18.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1888212950
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Raised in Queens, New York by formerly Orthodox Jewish parents whose faith had been undermined by the Holocaust, Arnold Bernstein went on his own personal quest for spiritual meaning. He was ready to accept God in whatever form He chose to reveal Himself and that form turned out to be Christ. But Bernstein soon perceived discrepancies in the various forms of Protestant belief that surrounded him, and so his quest continued -- this time for the true Church. Surprised by Christ combines an engrossing memoir of one man s life in historic times and situations from the Six-Day War to the Civil Rights Movement to the Jesus Movement in Berkeley with an examination of the distinctives of Orthodox theology that make the Orthodox Church the true home not only for Christian Jews, but for all who seek to know God as fully as He may be known. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars great introduction to Orthodoxy
Surprised by Christ is more than an autobiography. It is a great introduction into the Orthodox Church. In fact I would wager that more of the book is doctrinal than biographical. However the doctrine is described anecdotally which I found to be an excellent aid in understanding. What I mean by anecdotal is that Fr. Bernstein introduces concepts as they related to his journey from Judaism to Christianity. So the book does not suffer from the dryness that a proper Orthodox introduction might. Also, the book does a good job in comparing Salvation doctrines of different Christian churches. Also, the fullfilment Old Testament prophecy is described succintly.

Another plus, is that Fr. Bernstein is not overly critical and hostile of Protestants and Catholics. In fact he admits that some non-Orthodox friends of his are spiritually and morally ahead of him. He does however compare doctrines and makes a Biblical and historical case for the Orthodox viewpoint. In this sense, I think this is a good first book for non-Orthodox Christians to read.

Overall, a good read. Also, the writing style is very simple, clear, and succint. The reading is easy and therefore fast.

4-0 out of 5 stars This wonderful Testimonial Biography is Enlightening and Inspiring.

"The story of Fr James' journey is fascinating. It reminds us again of the sovereignty of God, and his desire to reach every one of his beloved children, no matter where they are." Frederica Mathewes-Green

Mashiach & Messianic Hope:
Where does the Jewish concept of Messiah come from? Messiah is an English rendering of the Hebrew word "Mashiach", which means the anointed one. The title refers to a person initiated into God's service by being anointed with oil. Since every King and High Priest was anointed with oil, each may be referred to as a Mashiach or Messiah, a descendant of King David who will rule Israel during a utopic age. A central themes in Biblical prophecy is a promise of a future age of universal peace and devotion to God. The concept of the Messiah became rooted in Jewish inspiration, between the testaments. The first Christians were mostly Jewish, especially in the great Patriarchate of Antioch and Alexandria. They slowly moved from post Templar Rabbinic Judaism, without sacrifice, nor priesthood, to Messianic Judaism, which developed into Judeo-Christianity after worship separation which started in Antioch.
"Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in the hollow of the hand? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is the person's name? And what is the name of His son? Surely you know!"Proverbs 30:3-5

Book Themes:
Surprised by Christ comprises memoirs of one man's life in times and historic events, that ransince the Six-Day War from the Civil Rights Movement, to the Berkeley Jesus Movement. Such rich events, deeply felt, promoted the examination of the autonomy of Orthodox faith and tradition with Biblical that reveiled the Orthodox Church as the authentic home for Christian Jews within all who sincerely seek to experience the all loving Lord as fully as He may be humanly known. Surprised by Christ is a genuine story of searching for truth, refusing to rest until it appears. Raised in Queens, New York by Orthodox Jewish parents whose faith had been tested by the Holocaust, Arnold Bernstein went on his own personal quest for the Lord he earnestly sought, instinctively feeling He was really there. Ready to accept the Holy Lord without precondition, He chose to reveal Himself in His icon that turned out to be the Christ.
Encountering discrepancies in the various theological doctrines of Protestant belief that he encountered, his quest was to continue for the true Church. sticking with his Jewish heritage as a rock foundation, he searched the Bible, and eventually came to the conclusion that the faith of his forefathers was fully honored and brought to completion only in the belief of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church.

Book Reviews:
"In sharing his 'surprise' with us, Fr. James Bernstein shows that he is a Hebrew prophet in the definition of prophecy provided by that other 'Hebrew born of Hebrews' who knew the same 'surprise.'..., Fr James 'speaks to people for their edification and encouragement and comfort.' (1 Cor 14.3)" Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus, St. Vladimir OTS

Fr. James Bernstein:
The Rev. James Bernstein who helped founding the Jews for Jesus ministry in San Francisco, was a staff member of the Christian World Liberation Front in Berkeley. A chapter president of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship at Queens College. Father James is the author of the booklets Orthodoxy: Jewish and Christian, 1990; Which Came First: The Church or the New Testament, 1994; and Communion: A Family Affair, 1999. He was a contributor to the Orthodox Study Bible: New Testament and Psalms, 1993.

5-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down...
I read this in one weekend and it's 300 and something pages. Hearing stories of people's spiritual journeys has always fascinated me.

I loved the way he approaches drawing near to God. He puts that first and let's God take him where He may. Unlike most religion where people blindly follow what they're told and basque in the glow of their pride.

I like the part where he goes to a Pentecostal church and gets told that unless he speaks in tongues he's not a full on Christian.

Also when he goes to Israel for his Christian deprogramming and ends up visiting right when the 6 day war starts.

He made the Orthodox church sound so good that I must confess I went to visit one on Sunday. I had no idea that the Orthodox Christian church didn't teach burning in hell forever. That was news to me and I wanted to hear more.

God's love really pours out through this book.

There's something different about Jewish Christians and the way they approach God.

Very inspiring and thought provoking book.

5-0 out of 5 stars wonderful introduction to Orthodoxy
I won't write a long review, as others have already done so.I just wanted to emphasize what a wonderful introduction to Orthodoxy this book is, especially for those of us coming from Protestant backgrounds.Many of our particularly Protestant questions about liturgy and Church history and tradition are answered very thoroughly and with great sensitivity and understanding.
I have read many good and some not-so-good books about Orthodoxy in the last couple of years, but this one is outstanding.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Theological Autobiography from the Heart
"Surprised By Christ," by Fr. James Bernstein, is best described as a theological autobiography. It is the long-awaited companion volume to the best-selling "Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith," by Peter E. Gillquist, which tells the story of approximately 2,000 Evangelicals who, in the 1970s and 80s, went on a search for the New Testament Church and found themselves being received into the Orthodox Christian Church 1987.

While most of that group was led by former staff members of Campus Crusade for Christ, Fr. James, then known as Arnold, joined forces with them after being raised as a devout Jew in Queens, and becoming a Christian while secretly reading a Jehovah's Witness translation of the New Testament under his bedcovers at night. He became active in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in New York before being selected by Moishe Rosen to help start Jews for Jesus in San Francisco.

While in the Bay area, Arnold (now Fr. James) became involved with the Christian World Liberation Front in Berkeley, which was led by Jack Sparks, a former Crusade staffer, and he became part of their quest for the New Testament Church while participating in evangelistic street theater.

I like to say that "Surprised by Christ" was written in three speeds, or rhythms. The autobiographical portions of this book, his childhood in Queens, his days in college, his year in Israel during the time of the "Six Day War," and in street ministry, are all a fascinating quick read, and are memorable reflections of those turbulent times.

Then Fr. James slows this journey down to reflect on his theological struggles, and the insights he gains as he compares his Jewish upbringing with his exposure to Evangelical Christianity, and his eventual discovery of more ancient Orthodox Christian teachings.

These alternating sections are written in Fr. James' own voice, and he is meticulous in spelling out the theological issues that brought him along the journey.

The third "speed" is even slower, because Fr. James supports his theological understandings with numerous, and sometimes lengthy, quotes from the Ancient Church Fathers, as well as the Scriptures. Some of these are in a very different language from Fr. James' own voice, but they are essential in supporting points he wishes to make.

I read this book over the course of about six weeks, because I needed to put it down and think about it many times. But I'm quite certain I'll pick it up and read it again very soon, because there is something refreshing in the way Fr. James approaches the Orthodox faith.

Most convert books are written by former Protestants and are very heady. This one, even though it is theological, comes from the heart. I know this to be true, because Fr. James is the one who brought me into the Orthodox Christian faith, after a two-and-a-half year inquiry, and he's been my priest for most of the past decade (I spent a few years in another parish).

This book is true to the man I've come to know and love. I recommend this book to Orthodox Christians who want to broaden their understanding of their faith, to individuals who are exploring the Orthodox faith, regardless of background, and to Evangelicals and Roman Catholics who would like to compare the differences between their understanding of the Christian faith with someone from a solidly Jewish background who now feels most at home in the Orthodox Christian Church. ... Read more

5. The Orthodox Study Bible: Ancient Christianity Speaks to Today's World
by Thomas Nelson
Hardcover: 1824 Pages (2008-06-17)
list price: US$49.99 -- used & new: US$26.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0718003594
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

The FIRST EVER Orthodox Study Bible presents the Bible of the early church and the church of the early Bible.

Orthodox Christianity is the face of ancient Christianity to the modern world and embraces the second largest body of Christians in the world. In this first-of-its-kind study Bible, the Bible is presented with commentary from the ancient Christian perspective that speaks to those Christians who seek a deeper experience of the roots of their faith.

Features Include:

  • Old Testament newly translated from the Greek text of the Septuagint, including the Deuterocanon
  • New Testament from the New King James Version
  • Commentary drawn from the early Church Christians
  • Easy-to-Locate liturgical readings
  • Book Introductions and Outlines
  • Subject Index
  • Full-color Icons
  • Full-color Maps

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Customer Reviews (81)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Bible
If you are Orthodox, you will appreciate this Bible.It has beautiful icons in it and the print is a great size. Someone mentioned that it ran into the binding, mine doesn't so I am not sure what they were talking about. I would recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kindle Edition Features and Review
The Orthodox Study Bible (OSB) Kindle edition is an extremely well done electronic version of this Bible.All of the printed OSB features, including the footnotes, articles, iconography, glossary, and lectionary are found in the Kindle edition.Moreover, the table of contents, lectionary, and any cross references are hyperlinked making this a very easy electronic Bible to navigate.

Unlike the "New English Translation of the Septuagint" or NETS which also has a Kindle version, the OSB publishers took the time to plan a Kindle version that took advantage of the platforms strengths and worked around its limitations.For example, the OSB allows you to navigate directly to specific chapter and verse without having to page thru several pages.The NETS not only lacks verse and chapter navigation, but when you jump to the beginning of each book in the Bible, you must page thru dozens of pages of introduction, which makes it incredibly difficult to use if you are not wanting to read the NETS from beginning to end.Also unique to the OSB is its hyperlinked lectionary that allows you to easily to look up and navigate directly to the day's scripture reading.

Though I also own the printed leather-bound version of the OSB and purchased the Kindle edition for travel purposes, I find it makes a great complimentary Bible and at times replacement, especially when my eyes are tired at the end of the day and are unable to focus on the small font found in the printed version.It's also makes keeping up with the Church's lectionary much easier.

I hope all Bibles published for Kindle in the future are as well produced as the OSB.

2-0 out of 5 stars Sorely Disapointed
I admit, I almost forced myself to give it five stars simply because it is an Orthodox study Bible. In the end, I could not, because there are simply too many things missing that would have made it a truly effective and useful Orthodox study Bible. The things that it needs, in my opinion, are more than just Orthodox commentary. Commentary does not make a Bible a study Bible.

To be an effective study Bible, in general, I feel it should at least contain a reference column, so that not only can we study the related verses that exist throughout the Bible more effectively, but also so that we can use this study Bible rather than constantly switching back and forth between this and other non-Orthodox study Bibles.

Also, it has an incredibly shallow concordance, which for some reason they call an index.

Further, to be a truly good Orthodox study Bible, it should at least contain the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. In my opinion this is a glaring omission. Not only should it have (at least) this standard Liturgy, but it should also contain commentary on the Liturgy as well as Bible references throughout.

A minor issue is that the icons, though beautiful, mildly interfere with searching through the Bible. A solution to this would be to collect the icons either at the front, the back, or perhaps isolated to between the Old and New Testaments. And though the selection seems meaningful, it seemed they could have perhaps included a slightly more instructive selection which included the liturgical year's 12 major feasts - as well as an essay on the same.

Finally, though the Orthodox Study Bible contains a lectionary and also Morning/Evening Prayers, it would also have benefited from the full cycle of prayers, a weekly full Psalm reading, some Akathist Hymns, a Canon or two, the confession for Communion, as well a number of things that take up little space and yet are important aspects of Orthodoxy. Basically, it needs to absorb an Orthodox prayer book into its contents.

To close, these glaring omissions make this Bible almost useless as a study Bible in general and disappointing in particular as an Orthodox study Bible. I really hope that the publishers will absolutely insist on correcting these issues - as well as the very valid criticisms as made by other reviewers - if they are considering a revised and updated version. Until then I suggest the potential reader to wait until that day arrives.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Content, Just OK Production Quality
I love the contents, the Septuagint based Old Testament, the fresh translation of the Apocrypha, and the New King James Version of the New Testament.

My favorite New Testament translation is the King James Bible due to the underlying Greek Text (Textus Receptus, and no, I'm not interested in arguing about it) and the NKJV is the only modern translation that uses that Greek Text -- and it also points out where it differs from the Majority Text and the Nestle-Aland/United Bible Society Text, which I believe is helpful to know.

There are wonderful yearly reading lists for this particular Bible which can be downloaded from the internet which are very useful (I can't figure out why they are not just printed in the Bible itself!)

My main gripes about this Study Bible concern production quality, and are summed up in the photos I uploaded here. I must retract one of those gripes, however. After using this Bible for a month I can honestly say that the narrow inner margin (the gutter) did not affect my reading at all. I never noticed it, so it wasn't an issue.

However, the thin paper which shows the print from the other side, and even the next page proved to be very distracting as I read every day in various states of alertness and tiredness. The introductions in a lighter typeface were practically unreadable. The main text was very difficult to discern on some pages. It became such a problem that I almost shelved this Bible. Then I discovered an amazing solution (or perhaps everyone already knew this but me). I took a sheet of black paper and slipped it under the page I was reading, and the "ghost" images vanished! The text was nice and clear and readable as if it were very opaque paper. If you buy this Bible make sure you get yourself a sheet of black paper, and it will be a perfect experience.

BTW I enjoy reading the Orthodox Study Bible every day, but I'm not a member of the Orthodox Church. If I lived in America where they seem to be a bit more visitor friendly, I might be, but that's another story...

5-0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars for the Septuagint OT 4 Stars for the NKJV NT
I liked the Bible because of the following reasons:

- This Bible is the greatest thing ever to give to a person who wants to learn about Eastern Orthodoxy.

- The Bible has the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament Text which makes it a traditional Eastern Orthodox Bible.

- The Septuagint Bible is the most accurate which can be found today. (The Hebrew is not, because what Christ and the Apostles quoted was the Septuagint and not the Protestant OT).

- The Church Fathers notes' are a good help in explaining some of the texts.

- The Bible explains everything about Eastern Orthodox Christianity as plain as the day... Its true to the tradition.

- The Bible Has nice and large print.

- The Bible has special whole-page notes on the Eastern Orthodox practices and Sacraments... This is great.

- The Bible gives you a pretty extensive commentary on a lot of the passages.

- The Bible is well worth the purchase.

What I did not like about the Bible are the following:

- The Bible does not use enough interpretations from the Holy Fathers on a lot of the passages. But it rather uses interpretations which come from the Bible making teams' own intellects - they may know much more than the average Orthodox but they certainly will never outdo the Wisdom of the Church Fathers. (team of some 20+ Clergy).The Wisdom books had the most.

- The most disappointing (but bearable) problem with the book is their decision to use the New King James Translation rather than translating a new Septuagint version from the Greek 1912 text from the Church of Greece...A Translation which has been done.
Even though the KJV is a Greek text, it is still insufficient for reliability.
Its a outstanding text, don't get me wrong (the most accurate text ever to exist besides the new Septuagint Orthodox New Testaments)

This is the Septuagint New Testament for Eastern Orthodox, and for anyone who wants the correct translation of the Word of God:


Along with another Bible named the EOB - i.e the Eastern Orthodox Bible (Google it download it for free)... these are the best translations of the New Testament ever to exist.

(2 Corinthians 13:14)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.


... Read more

6. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity
Hardcover: 896 Pages (2011-02-15)
list price: US$350.00 -- used & new: US$280.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1405185392
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With a combination of essay-length and short entries written by a team of leading religious experts, the two-volume Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodoxy offers the most comprehensive guide to the cultural and intellectual world of Eastern Orthodox Christianity available in English today.

  • An outstanding reference work providing the first English language multi-volume account of the key historical, liturgical, doctrinal features of Eastern Orthodoxy, including the Non-Chalcedonian churches
  • Explores of the major traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy in detail, including the Armenian, Byzantine, Coptic, Ethiopic, Slavic, Romanian, Syriac churches
  • Uniquely comprehensive, it is edited by one of the leading scholars in the field and provides authoritative but accessible articles by a range of top international academics and Orthodox figures
  • Spans the period from Late Antiquity to the present, encompassing subjects including history, theology, liturgy, monasticism, sacramentology, canon law, philosophy, folk culture, architecture, archaeology, martyrology, hagiography, all alongside a large and generously detailed prosopography
  • Structured alphabetically and topically cross-indexed, with entries ranging from 100 to 6,000 words
... Read more

7. Strangers and Neighbors: What I Have Learned About Christianity by Living Among Orthodox Jews
by Maria Poggi Johnson
Paperback: 160 Pages (2006-11-07)
list price: US$13.99 -- used & new: US$1.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0849911516
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The compelling, insightful, and challenging memoir of a Christian woman's exploration of her faith while living in community with strictly Orthodox Jews. As Maria Johnson explains: "I knew that Christianity is rooted deep in Judaism, but living in daily contact with a vital and vibrant Jewish life has been fascinating and transforming. I am and will remain a Christian, but I am a rather different Christian than I was before."

... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

3-0 out of 5 stars ARRIVED A MONTH AFTER ORDER
The book is awesome I read it a while back. However the time it took for me to receive it was poor.

5-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Informative
This book is great for anyone interested in learning about Orthodox Judaism. I especially loved how the author discusses the Old and New Testaments, and learned a lot from her explanations. It's a quick and englightening read that I highly recommend!

5-0 out of 5 stars So Near, So Far
Modern talk pro and con about such things as "multiculturalism" and "diversity" is so much vanity and blowing in the wind. Not because what these rhetorically unsatisfactory words represent is unimportant but because it is too important. The subtleties of getting along with people different then oneself cannot be constrained in mere political slogans.

Jews and Christians are both near and far. Their relationship is like that of two climbers on opposite sides of a crevasse that is thirty feet wide butten-thousand feet deep. Between them is a rope bridge. For each to cross is a balancing act, between bigotry on the one hand and compromising ones integrity on the other. It is more then a mere tribal feud(though it is that too). It is a quarrel about what is considered the most important thing of all. In some ways made worse by the very closeness. Jews and Christians are close enough to argue: Moslems and Hindus can only fight. But when all arguements are done the gap remains and any attempt to bridge it with mere theory sounds awkward. The gap may be thin but it is uncrossable. At least one of us must be wrong about the Most Important Question of All.

Strangers and Neighbors is an attempt to bridge the gap. Not by theory but by the day to day act of living and learning. It shows what it is like for a Christian to live side by side with Jews in mutual respect and day to day kindness. It shows some of the awkward parts like having to be the "kosher police" when one's neighbor's children come to visit(to let them eat ice cream that is kept in the same freezer as sandwich meat would be a breech of trust). The book also goes to great lengths telling about how the author learned much about her own faith.

"Why can't we all just get along", is a cheap tautology, because it patronizes the very real obstacles that prevent "getting along". Mrs Johnson, in her delightful book shows just how one can go about getting along without compromiseing honesty about and loyalty towards one's beliefs for the sake of superficial niceness. All it takes is love. Which really means that it takes a lot of work. But it can be done and Mrs Johnson gives an idea how. And in so doing she shows how to learn. Love, neighborliness, and courtesy are easy to talk about. They are not so easy to live.

5-0 out of 5 stars Should change title of book
Like the others who have written glowing reviews, I too want to add my praise to this well written, delightful and informative book. However as someone who is part of the Conservative Jewish movement, I was dismayed at her failure to mention that her neighbors are at the extreme end of observance within the Jewish population. They are not Orthodox Jews, they are Ultra Orthodox Jews. As such, they would not accept me asJew nor anyone who is not living within the fortress of their type of Jewish practices. They would reject totally the notion that Jewish women can read from the Torah at a Shabbat service and consider those who accept a woman as Rabbi as total heretics. And certainly would not eat in my home, although I keep kosher anymore than thay would eat in Dr. Johnson's kitchen because I would not be kosher enough for them. But I suppose this is no different than my writing about Pentacostal Christians and using them as a living example of what it is like to be Christian in the twenty first century.

5-0 out of 5 stars delightful and fascinating
for anyone interested in the life of pious christians and jews in america, and the reality of living Judaism, this is a find. ... Read more

8. The Orthodox Way
by Kallistos Ware
Paperback: 164 Pages (1995-09-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$10.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0913836583
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book is a general account of the doctrine, worship and life of Orthodox Christians by the author of the now classic The Orthodox Church. It raises the basic issues of theology: God is hidden yet revealed; the problem with evil; the nature of salvation; the meaning of faith; prayer; death and what lies beyond. In so doing, it helps to fill the need for modern Orthodox catechism. Yet this book is not a mere manual, a dry-as-dust repository of information. Throughout the book, Bishop Kallistos Ware shows the meaning of Orthodox doctrine for the life of the individual Christian. Doctrinal issues are seen not as abstract propositions for theological debate but as affecting the whole of life. A wealth of texts drawn from theologians and spiritual writers of all ages accompanies Bishop Kallistos' presentation. They, too, reveal Orthodoxy not just as a system of beliefs, practices and customs but indeed as the Way. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (34)

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to Orthodoxy
This book is one of two commonly read books on the Eastern Orthodox Church. While the other, The Orthodox Church: New Edition, deals with more of the historical development of and life within the Church, The Orthodox Way focuses instead on the doctrine and theology of the Church itself.

It is a weightier read then The Orthodox Church: New Edition, and contains frequent quotations from Scripture, Church Fathers, and even pseudepigraphal writings and non-Orthodox theologians such as C.S. Lewis on occasion. In particular, Met. Kallistos ends each chapter with a short section containing longer quotations from various Orthodox Church Fathers that deal with the subject of the preceding chapter that were too large to be quoted in the main body of the chapter, which I found extremely valuable.

The chapters themselves are broken down very simply, each chapter dealing with the theology of the Orthodox Church regarding a different aspect of God. This is one defining point of the book, in that it is organized around God, explaining its theology in relation to him. Thus, the chapters are entitled, "God as Mystery", "God as Trinity", "God as Creator", and so on. Each chapter it meant to build on the other, but it is entirely possible to read one alone from the rest, they do not rely on one another for context, which makes reading a chapter on its own possible. And Met. Kallistos does an excellent job of building to and proving his conclusion in each chapter. The progression of each chapter is concise and easy to follow, not bogged down by tangents or poor writing.

The construction of the book itself is also very pleasant. It is a paperback, but it seems a step above the average grocery store cheaply printed volume. The binding (glue) feels unusually solid, the cover is glossy, the paper is good and the printing is extremely clear and without errors. I am impressed with the quality of the publisher, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, when I am usually quite indifferent.

In short, I highly recommend this work. It is a relatively short, well-made and well-written introduction to the doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Church, without any negativity against other denominations, and it could serve as a valuable reference for anyone with an interest in theology due to its excellent topical chapters which have a clear internal progression.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Orthodox Way
Though the perspectives of Eastern Orthodox peoples have rarely received much attention in the West, there is (perhaps because of the Iron Curtain's collapse) a growing interest in The Orthodox Way as Bishop Kallistos Ware titles his fine introduction to the subject (Crestwood, NY:St. Vladimir's seminary Press, 1993).
First published in 1979, this book provides an accurate and accessible entree to the riches of Orthodoxy.Yoked with his classic The Orthodox Church, Ware's scholarly works give us the best introductions to his church.
He begins by insisting that the only way to know truth about the Way is to "step out upon this path, commit ourselves to this way of life," to discover it through a "living experience" of its reality (p. 8).Christian Faith, to the Orthodox, is less a rational system of belief than a life-giving relationship with the Holy Spirit.
This insistence grows out of the Orthodox insistence that God is fundamentally Mystery.As St Gregory of Nyssa said, "'God's name is not known; it is wondered at'" (p. 16).We know little more about God than a new baby knows of the world.This is not to say we know nothing, however.We can never know God in His essence, but we can know him as we discern his energies, as He works in His world.According to St Maximus the Confessor, our knowledge of God comes "'from the grandeur of his creation and from his providential care for all creatures.For by this means, as if using a mirror, we attain insight into his infinite goodness, wisdom and power'" (p. 31).While alone in the desert, St Anthony was asked how he could find truth.In response, he said, "'My book, philosopher, is the nature of created things, and whenever I wish I can read in it the works of God'" (p. 54).
What we cannot fathom concerning God's essence, such as His trinitarian nature, He must supernaturally reveal to us.The first seven Ecumenical Councils, which Orthodoxy considers doctrinally definitive, defined God as three persons in one essence.Easterners have always insisted on keeping the three persons--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--distinct, a community within the godhead.God the Son became man.Christ's Incarnation marked a new day for humanity.In His perfection we envision our potentiality."The Incarnation," Ware says, "is not simply a way of undoing the effects of original sin, but it is an essential stage upon man's journey from the divine image to the divine likeness" (p. 93).Conversion, repentance, faith, are not a one-time crises but continuing steps along the Way.That journey involves an increased sharing, a participation in the very nature of God.
This "participation" means, to the Orthodox, "deification," a term which abrasively grates on Western ears.It closely resembles what we Wesleyans call "sanctification."As Ware explains it, "To be deified is . . . to be 'christified':the divine likeness that we are called to attain is the likeness of Christ.It is through Jesus the God-man that we men are 'ingodded', 'divinized', made 'sharers in the divine nature' (2 Pet. 1:4).By assuming our humanity, Christ who is Son of God by nature has made us sons of God by grace.In him we are 'adopted' by God the Father, becoming sons-in-the-son" (p. 98).
Such participation assumes man's free will.Created in God's image, we are free.By its very nature, love requires freedom.A loving God is free.To love God we must be free as well.Unlike many Western theologians, who have often slipped into an Augustinian-Calvinistic determinism, the Orthodox (from St Irenaeus of Lyons onward) have resolutely stressed the necessary human role in salvation."We are to hold in balance two complementary truths:without God's grace we can do nothing; but without our voluntary co-operation God will do nothing" (p. 149). Human freedom derives from the real and active presence of the Holy Spirit.Where the Spirit is, there is freedom!"The whole aim of the Christian life," says Ware, "is to be a Spirit-bearer, to live in the Spirit of God, to breathe the Spirit of God" (p. 119).Thus, "If the aim of the Incarnation is the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost, the aim of Pentecost is the continuation of Christ's Incarnation within the life of the Church" (p. 124).
The reality and power of the Holy Spirit have generally been emphasized more in the East than the West.Christ's crucifixion has often been the focus of Western theology; his resurrection has generally remained central to Easterners.As St Athanasius said, "'The Logos took flesh, that we might receive the Spirit'" (p. 124).This stress on the Holy Spirit at work within us explains the interest Wesleyans (including Wesley) have taken in Orthodox thought.To understand its basic teachings, Ware's treatise gives us solid guidance.

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction
This book is clearly written, specific and to-the-point on introductory Orthodox theology. Ware's style is scholarly but not haughty or unattainable. Those who come from a Western Christian background, whether Catholic or Protestant, will be able to grasp an elementary understanding of the important elements of Eastern Orthodoxy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Summary of Orthodox Christian Theology
"The Orthodox Way" is an outstanding introduction to the theology of the Orthodox Church and for Christianity overall.The topics are the basic stuff of Christianity:God, the Trinity, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, our lives in Christ.The author, Kallistos Ware, is a bishop and in the (Eastern) Orthodox Church.He explains the basic and advanced points of Orthodox Christian beliefs; and he does so in language that everyone can understand, without watering down beliefs.

In doing so, he also illustrates the Orthodox mindset.It is a Christian tradition that is apostolic, spiritual, and apophatic.(Apophaticism is an attitude of being content to let some mysteries about God to remain mysteries.)In brief, this book summarizes the understanding that is behind Orthodox Christian spirituality, which is called theosis.

If there is one criticism, the book fails to adequately discuss the suffering that is part of the Christian life.There should have been a chapter on "God in Suffering" because suffering is required to practice Orthodox Christianity.There is the suffering that comes as part of life.And, there is the self-imposed suffering of Christian self-discipline:(1) prayer and going to Church services, (2) fasting, and (3) almsgiving in time and talents and treasure.There is also the suffering of seeing scandals, phariseeism, religious nationalism, institutional inertia, and corruption in the Church: yes, including in the Orthodox Church.

Hence, this book represents the best in Christianity.However, if you aren't aware of the rest, you are likely to be disappointed or disillusioned with the complete reality of Christianity.Truly, the Church is a spiritual hospital; and all its earthly members are in need of spiritual therapy by Christ our God.If you can take the bad with the good--because the good is infinite and thus it far outweighs the bad--then you have a decent chance, with God's grace, to be a good Christian.And then this book can help you understand how.

(I revised this review on 4 December 2008.-- John)

5-0 out of 5 stars Helped me learn about Orthodoxy
This book by Bishop KALLISTOS was instrumental in bringing me to the Orthodox faith. He explains, in a clear, very C.S. Lewis-like way, who God is and what it means to know and love God. He explains what it means to be an Orthodox Christian. His love for God and the church is infectious and resonates on every page. His gentleness is apparent. Anyone who wants to know God should read this book. Anyone who wants to be a Christian the way Jesus intended should read this book, for it is true to the ancient faith and the church started by Jesus, and continued by the Apostles, in the book of Acts. (The ancient church is preserved in Eastern Orthodoxy.) I highly recommend this book and KALLISTOS' "The Orthodox Church." These two books together will change your life and your faith. ... Read more

9. The Orthodox Church: New Edition
by Timothy Ware
Paperback: 368 Pages (1993-06-01)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$9.58
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140146563
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Since its first publication thirty years ago, Timothy Ware's book has become established throughout the English-speaking world as the standard introduction to the Orthodox Church. Orthodoxy continues to be a subject of enormous interest among Western Christians, and the author believes that an understanding of its standpoint is necessary before the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches can be reunited. He explains the Orthodox views on such widely ranging matters as ecumenical councils, sacraments, free will, purgatory, the papacy and the relation between the different Orthodox churches. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (77)

5-0 out of 5 stars Read this book!
This is an absolute must read for any person either interested or already Orthodox and wanting more information.This is the book which helped me decide I wanted to become Orthodox.I was looking for the original church built by the Apostles on Christ and this revealed to me the Orthodox Church was what I had been looking for.It is well written and explains many things in a way Protestants can easily understand.Even if you are not interested in becoming an Orthodox Christian, this is a great over view of the church in a historical sense.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent for Christian Investigators not of Orthodox Heritage
This title provides a captivating look at the Orthodox Church, past, present, and future. While not written as such, the first few chapters indeed present themselves quite excitingly. One can tell that the early and Byzantine churchwas a period of which the author is very proud.

However, when relating the history of the church in the early 20th century, the author tends to become a bit confusing, which is somewhat understandable considering the times in which the book was written.

Most of the text is still relevant, but as the Iron Curtain fell, the position of the church in former Soviet republics changed.For historians of Eastern Europe during the Cold War Era, this presents a captivating viewpoint of a theologian struggling to advocate for a faith tradition that is long, proud, and storied, but for general readers this section may indeed be useless, because much of that information is now anachronistic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent overall introduction esp for those new to Orthodoxy
Clearly written, balanced, factual explanation of the history and practices of the Orthodox Church. Arguably the best book for those new to Orthodoxy as well as for those of us who have practiced for years but may not have completely understood the who's, why's, and what's of the faith.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good on History
Overall this is a good book. As far as teaching about what the church believes, I would recommend others instead. If you are interested in the history of the church though, I have yet to find one that explains it better.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Orthodox Church
A beautifully written book about the history of this ancient church.It is honestly written and honestly portrayed.

I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone wanting to further their knowledge and interest in the early Christian Church. ... Read more

10. The Spiritual Wisdom and Practices of Early Christianity
by Alphonse, Goettmann, Rachel, Goettmann
Paperback: 120 Pages (2006-09-20)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$8.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 193327509X
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In this book, we will consider the fundamental practices of the Christian experience. They are backed by two thousand years of history and a sea of witnesses who, down through the ages, have journeyed on this path that has led them to the summits of wisdom and holiness. The difficulty in the presentation of these "methods" is their inevitable and artificial juxtaposition when they only find their internal and organic coherence in the living Tradition. They are all held together as in a living organism; each element comes at a particular stage in a life that gravitates around its axis: the Christ. That is why we will use a method which will make it possible for thereader not to remain on the exterior as a spectator: the repetition of keyideas. This is a teaching in the form of a spiral, an "eating of the word" where, as in liturgical chants and the experiential method of Scripture, we become that which we "eat" continually, we "are" what we have just read ratherthan merely "knowing" it. Each chapter is a new approach to the unique Reality. Rather than addressing the intellect, it speaks to the heart. ... Read more

11. Sweeter Than Honey: Orthodox Thinking on Dogma And Truth (Foundations Series, Bk. 3)
by Peter C. Bouteneff
Paperback: 213 Pages (2006-06-30)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$14.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0881413070
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This book begins with a deeply thoughtful reflection on the nature of truth in the face of relativism, absolutism, and fanaticism showing Jesus Christ as the logic and love that undergirds and unites the universe. Part 2 is a journey through the landscape of Orthodox teaching, with a solid explanation of how it comes down to us today. Sweeter than Honey provides indispensable insight into Orthodox Christian thinking. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Overview
This is simply the best theological introduction to the Orthodox faith available today.It's comprehensive, critically reliable and easy to read.I highly recommend it for theology classrooms, Orthodox catechism classes, and personal knowledge of the ABC's of the Orthodox faith.

5-0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, philosophical with good info throughout
This book requires turning the TV off. In return for your focused attention you learn what Orthodox dogma is, and why it is wholeheartedly embraced by devout believers like the author. Orthodox dogma says God is unknowable and that God is one entity (as opposed to three). God created man in His image, Mary was a virgin, and Bible stories hold value as stories. No person is sinless. Jesus is truth, and anything true contains Jesus. Orthodox dogma says the old Testament should be read with reference to the New. And that certain additional texts, though not bound in the Bible, are to be regarded as true as Scripture. Orthodox dogma hails from no single document or place, but from various churches, traditions, documents, councils and experiences. And importantly, Orthodox embrace their dogma because they believe their dogma to be the truth. Much of the above was new information to me, and I found it fascinating.

I also became certain by the end that author Dr. Peter Bouteneff is neither cultish nor angry. He modestly walks his talk, has a good relationship with the truth, knows the ins and outs of his and his faith's beliefs, and has studied opposing views.

As a busy, curious, non-Orthodox, admitted skim-a-holic, personally I would have liked to have been spoon-fed the basic tenets of the Orthodox faith at some point, like in Chapter 1. The book's title could have been more accurately Orthodox Thinking on Orthodox Dogma or more appealingly The Joy of Orthodox Dogma. I will say this though. Despite the unintriguing title with matching bland subtitle and cover art, the book does have a Chicken Soup factor, a sort of academic friendliness about it. Overall it was a pleasure to sit and read. Sweeter than Honey didn't cause me to change my beliefs (and its author didn't ask me to thankfully), but I'm glad I read it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Readable, with solid content
As a Protestant (Lutheran) who has been reading for several years and trying to get a handle on an Orthodox way of "doing theology," I must say that I very much appreciate this book. It was very readable and reader-friendly -- the author is a professor of dogmatic theology at an Orthodox seminary, and he came across as a teacher who clearly both knows his subject matter and how to communicate it.

The chapter on Historicity and Story was worth the price of the book, and set the tone for a good discussion in the Bible's place in theology (over against the "God says it; I believe it; that settles it" line of argumentation sometimes found elsewhere). I also found the chapter on relativism a very insightful a critique on the (post)modern world.

The "How do you read?" chapter clearly shows the broad foundation of truth-bearing witnesses in Orthodoxy and opens the door for a full discussion of the place of liturgical and sacramental tradition in the discussion of Truth.

One of my reasons for doing so much reading in Orthodoxy over past few years is to explore hermeneutic tradition of the Fathers and Councils of the catholic church over against my own Reformation heritage. This book was a clear, easy-to-read, and informative overview of that tradition and how it plays our in the modern Orthodox church.

(I also recommend some of the essays in Scripture in Tradition: The Bible and Its Interpretation in the Orthodox Church by John Breck as further reading in the subject.)

5-0 out of 5 stars Orthodox Teaching from an Inviting Perspective
Sweeter than Honey is a precise and clearly written treatise on the Orthodox (Eastern Christianity) way of thinking about "dogma and truth."The expected audience is deemed by the author to be laypeople, students, and scholars of the Orthodox faith, however, it is written in a way that is inviting to Christians of all faiths.Dr. Bouteneff presents a nuanced argument for the legitimacy of dogma as truth over and against the postliberal/postmodern view that truth is necessarily and always contextual.While stating unequivocally that "the central moment of the history of the world [is] the passion and cross of Christ," Dr. Bouteneff also strongly affirms that "we are supposed to use our minds, to think, to reason about both divine and created things."Sweeter than Honey directly addresses several issues that historically have been problematic (divisive) within Christendom, and explains how Orthodox dogma treats these matters.Some of these issues, to name a few, are; how is the Incarnation possible, how is the Trinity possible ("three who are divine, yet we worship one God"), "what is truth?" "which texts and doctrines are true?" "who decides what is truly in unison with the Church?" and "why do theology [when] it seems to divide Christians more than unite them?"In short, Dr. Bouteneff answers the last question by stating that "We believe our theology [read: dogma] to be the truth, [and] that salvation is bound up with knowledge of the truth."He explains that although Jesus is esteemed as the "Universal Truth," there are other "types of truths" which make no claims of being "exhaustive."Sweeter than Honey effectively appropriates Scripture, reason, mystery, history, pneumatology, and icons to render dogma as a legitimate signifier of truth and presents the Orthodox faith as an intelligible interpretation of Christianity that goes far in bringing together faith and reason.One specific drawback worthy of note is that the book does not contain an index.Nevertheless, I highly recommend Sweeter than Honey to all who are interested in how Christianity, dogma, and truth are related.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not just answers - also the important questions
Calling a book popular can signal many things, some good and some not.What the label "popular" often means is that the book provides more answers than questions.To make a complicated subject accessible to lay people, the popular book often papers over the vexing questions that experts debate, and simply provides easily digestible answers to those complex questions.Bouteneff's book is different.It is indeed popular in the sense that it is accessible to the non-specialist.B. avoids needless jargon, and explains well whatever technical terms he uses.Likewise, the book's warm, dialogical style is regularly punctuated by questions like "Now, what does this mean?" which create the sense of informal conversation.So, it is indeed accessible.But it is not popular in the sense described above.It is the antithesis of those popular books that provide easy answers and ignore difficult questions. The central point of the book is, in fact, to confront precisely those difficult questions that accompany professing Orthodox faith in contemporary America.How can we assert that Jesus Christ is the only Truth, and the absolute Truth, in an environment that relativizes all truths to personal preferences, so that I have my truth and you have your truth, and we are both right?In addressing these core questions, B. rejects both the knee-jerk relativism of contemporary culture, as well as the triumphalism of an unthinking absolutism.In the end, the reader is given an expression of traditional Orthodox teaching on how Jesus Christ is the Truth, and the only Truth, and how the Orthodox Church is the bearer of that Truth, but always with an eye to responding to the particular questions of the present age.There are discussions of creeds, of Scripture, of saints, of church hierarchs and of icons, but all of them geared toward the core question of how the Orthodox Church defends the Truth of the Gospel.And, because of B.'s approach, the treatment of standard topics seems new, especially in the sections on Scripture and Church leadership.There is an urgent need for just such a book, especially one aimed at the non-professional.For these are not questions only asked by students and professors of theology. These are questions that confront people each time they walk out their front doors or, more and more, pass through the virtual front doors of their computers.This is an excellent introduction to the Orthodox faith, written in a unique fashion, and with a view toward contemporary debates.It can be read with profit by beginners and more advanced readers alike. ... Read more

12. The Transfigured Cosmos: Four Essays in Eastern Orthodox Christianity
by John Gregerson
Paperback: 132 Pages (2007-12-06)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$15.25
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Asin: 1597312525
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which is the spiritual tradition of nearly 200 million people, including many millions in the former Soviet Union, differs widely from that of the West both in form and spirit. These four essays, readable and clearly developed, introduce the reader to the mystical world experienced by the Orthodox Church. The first sections highlight among other subjects the spirit of Orthodoxy, the richness of Orthodox worship and the significance of icons, together with the place of holy fools, pilgrimage, holy men, and asceticism in Russian religious life.In the last sections, the reader will find a concise presentation of hesychasm, the mystical tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy which involves awakening to the Uncreated Light - the Presence of God which 'overshadows' and envelops the entire cosmos within Itself. For the Orthodox mystic, the way of liberation and deification in God lies in contemplation, in quieting the constant stream of thoughts, phantasies, and passions which make man blind to the splendor and mystery of the Divine Presence. The vehicle of liberation is the Sacred Name of Jesus, invoked constantly by the devotee, the significance of which is dealt with in the last essay.Author Jon Gregerson has written and lectured in the field of religion. A graduate of the University of California, he has done research in Russian culture at the University of Chicago. His own spiritual quest has led him from the Christianity of the West to Russian Orthodoxy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Understanding Eastern and Western Christian Differences
This book is an antidote to the vacuousness of postmodernism and its acceptance of "your truth" and "my truth" no matter what contradictions there are.The differences of east and west are clearly laid out by introducing us to the writings of Zernov.

"In the West body and spirit are clearly distinguished, and there is a tendency to set them in opposition to each other;in the Christian East they are treated as interdependent parts of the same creation...In the West the individual always occupies the center of attention; in the East he is always seen as a member of a community...In the West mankind is the main object of redemption; in the East the whole cosmos is brought within its scope... The West likes clear, precise formulae; it is logical and analytic...The East treats religion more as a life than a doctrine; it mistrusts overelaborate definitions...It believes that the Church and its sacraments are divine mysteries...that they will always evade analysis by logical reasoning.""The Western mind is analytic; it likes to scrutinize, to dissect, to classify; in its dealings with religion it tends to be logical and even legalistic.Eastern Christians, on the contrary are more interested in synthesis...They look upon the world as one great organism;they approach the diverse manifestations of life as an expression of the same ultimate reality....""The East does not think about salvation in terms of the individual soul returning to its Maker; it is visualized rather as a gradual process of transfiguration of the whole cosmos, culminating in theosis...Man is saved, not from the world but with the world." pp. 9-10

These differences are rather differences of emphasis more than differences in Doctrines which are largely shared.There are real differences in understanding however.In a non-transparent desire to just get along, modern Orthodox publications tend to count the number of Ecumenical Councils as 7, however there are actually two more which, although condemned in the West, are not negotiable by the Eastern Orthodox, which cut to the core of Orthodox spirituality: hesychasm.

Instead of understanding the Fall as resulting in some kind of inherited guilt for the sins of our predecessors, the orthodox have a different conception of sin.Sin is not seen as an evil to be avoided at all costs moving one from a state of grace to a condemned state like a light switch.Before Vatican II, Catholics in the state of grace who read any book on the Index without permission suddenly became destined for hell.After Vatican II it seems not so.So when was the [Catholic] Church in error, before or after Vatican II? Or did the Council [Pope] change the mind of God?To over-define ought to be embarrassing.So how does the Orthodox concept of sin differ?The Orthodox conception is more about "missing the mark."

"To the Russian, good and evil are, here on earth, inextricably bound up together.This is, to us, the great mystery of life on earth... "Evil must not be shunned, but first participated in and understood through participation and then through understanding transfigured." p.41

To me, the eastern view of life seems so much more in tune with modern life as it really is.Instead of actually having choices between good and evil acts so we can always choose the good and avoid evil, we actually live in a world of prelest.Prelest is a word that has a root similar to the word planet.We are wandering stars.Prelest is "the corruption of human nature through the acceptance by man of mirages mistaken for truth;we are all in prelest" p.58

The great divide between Judaism and Christianity is not the false charge of killing Christ.If the Jews did actually kill Christ then Christ would not have died because of our sins and we would still be hopelessly lost! While the Law is our model, Christians are saved not by merely following the law but by a living faith in Jesus Christ our God.When we want to do something, we do not look up everything in Holy Scriptures to see if it is Ok or not.We have models of perfection similar to "ideal gas models."Real physical gasses only approach the ideal model.We must all confess our falling short of the mark.Killing is wrong and it is always soul deadening.When a murderer is torturing and killing your family and you "justifiably" kill him to stop the carnage, that act remains "soul deadening" and needs healing.The killing doesn't suddenly become a virtue.

How should modern man understand the violent toppling of governments in the 20th century, often subverting democratic administrations and installing brutal dictatorships and killing many innocent non-combattants?Government administrations always claimed to be doing good, but how often afterward did the people seek to really "understand through participation and then through understanding transfigure...our mind within the heart?" p.58

When we Americans experienced the phrase "Shock and Awe" did we afterward seek to understand how that meant terror, screaming, blood and carnage of innocent noncombatants in Bagdad?What about the previous deaths from the 10 year embargo.Am I imagining all this?Did this not all happen?

"Prelest is the resulting state of man's wandering from Absolute Truth and it has its basis in his fallen or egocentric nature, which through sundering his inner wholeness causes 'forgetfulness of God'; obscures the plendorous Divine Presence, and creates a multitude of illusions which infect his very perception of the cosmos.""Enchanted and captivated by 'the shadows of prelest,' man becomes blind to God the Divine Center, to the true nature of all creation, and to his true or real self." pp. 58-59

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have.The author of "The Transfigured Cosmos" is Jon Gregerson.For some reason his name is being misspelled as John.
George Battelle, Axios-San Francisco rep.

The Transfigured Cosmos: Four Essays in Eastern Orthodox Christianity ... Read more

13. The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture
by John Anthony McGuckin
Hardcover: 480 Pages (2008-06-10)
list price: US$162.95 -- used & new: US$130.36
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Asin: 1405150661
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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  • This important work offers the most comprehensive and up-to-date account of the Orthodox Church available, providing a detailed account of its historical development, as well as exploring Orthodox theology and culture
  • Written by one of the leading Orthodox historians and theologians in the English-speaking world
  • Offers an in-depth engagement with the issues surrounding Orthodoxy's relationship to the modern world, including political, cultural and ethical debates
  • Considers the belief tradition, spirituality, liturgical diversity, and Biblical heritage of the Eastern Churches; their endurance of oppressions and totalitarianisms; and their contemporary need to rediscover their voice and confidence in a new world-order
  • Recipient of a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2009 award
... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars A strong contender for the title of best introduction to the fullness of the Orthodox faith
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH is an introduction to the history, doctrine, and culture of this ancient Christian tradition by Father John Anthony McGuckin, a priest and professor, and a convert to Orthodoxy himself. There is what you would expect in such a book, such as a presentation of the Orthodox bodies worldwide, the use of icons, and the notion of Holy Tradition against the papal rule known in Roman Catholicism or the Sola Scriptura tendencies of Protestants.

But Father McGuckin goes beyond these most basic topics to give a rigorous presentation of Orthodox theology, including the difficult Christological controversies of the early Church, the relationship between Emperor and Patriarch in Byzantium (still informative for us today), and some of the underappreciated masterpieces of liturgical writing. Father McGuckin's sermons must be really something to listen to, for his prose here is rich and passionate, deftly wielding classical rhetorical skills.

My only major complaint about the book is that it is written wholly from the perspective of a Western writer who has obviously spent a long time in the rounds of liberal academic discourse, and this is often incongruent with the general spirit of Orthodoxy worldwide. In speaking of the need to give women a more prominent role in the modern church, McGuckin calls for the restoration of the order of diaconess. However, he doesn't mention the very understandable fear among a number of churches that this may only be the camel's nose on the way to feminists calling for female priestly ordination. Father McGuckin also praises with no questions asked the current Ecumenical Patriarch's interest in green causes, but this is controversial and there have been complaints that the Ecumenical Patriarch is neglecting actual Christian missionary work as his flock dwindles.

Though it will appeal mostly to intellectuals and people already involved to some extent in Orthodoxy because of its tone and level of detail, this is a fine introduction and provides good competition for the old standard, Kallistos Ware's The Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, Blackwell has priced this out of reach of all except university libraries (and from this publisher even a paperback will not be affordable) and it doesn't seem like it will get the attention it deserves. ... Read more

14. Churchly Joy: Orthodox Devotions for the Church Year
by Sergius Bulgakov
Paperback: 149 Pages (2008-03-18)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$9.00
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Asin: 0802848346
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This distinctive book contains spiritual orations and edifying discourses rooted in the Orthodox tradition. In Churchly Joy Sergius Bulgakov takes readers through the joyous mysteries of the church year as reflected in the Orthodox Church's major feasts, including celebrations of the Annunciation, the Birth of Christ, the Epiphany, the Transfiguration, the Triumphal Entry, Easter, and more.

One of the very few works of Orthodox spirituality and devotional theology that are available in English, Churchly Joy reflects Bulgakov's transcendent vision for the church and will provide spiritual growth and edification for all Christians. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring devotional meditations
Sergius Bulgakov is best known for producing a series of controversial volumes on Trinitarian theology. These are characterised by both an elaborate deployment of speculative theological formulations and intense spiritual passion. In this volume of orations he writes in a more straightforward manner, but still with his trademark 'mystical lyricism', as one commenter has described his style.

Churchly Joy is a collection of sermons delivered by Bulgakov on key Orthodox feast days, during his time as Dean of the St Sergius Theological Institute in Paris. He dwells largely on the existential themes of each festival, evoking the inner response of the believer. This is complemented by reflections on the depth of theological meaning found in the works of Christ and the Holy Spirit. At times he deploys simple symbolic explanations, at others technical Trinitarian expositions. The orations are tied together by Bulgakov's profound vision of the transfiguration of creation by the Triune God, as proclaimed and lived by the Church.

This would be a helpful book for preachers looking for inspiration for their sermons on special days of the church calendar, or for anyone who desires a deeper devotional understanding of the inner meaning of the New Testament narrative. ... Read more

15. Committed to Christianity: Eastern Orthodox Community (Faith & Commitment)
by Sylvia Sutcliffe, Barry Sutcliffe
 Paperback: 48 Pages (1995-01-01)
-- used & new: US$22.09
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Asin: 1851750290
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16. Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity
by Otto F. A. Meinardus
Paperback: 368 Pages (2010-10-15)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$16.98
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Asin: 9774247574
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Christianity arrived early in Egypt, brought -- according to tradition -- by Saint Mark the Evangelist, who became the first patriarch of Alexandria. The Coptic Orthodox Church has flourished ever since, with millions of adherents both in Egypt and in Coptic communities around the world. Since it split from the Byzantine Church in 451, the Coptic Church has maintained its early traditions, and influence from the outside has been minimal: the liturgy is still sung to unique rhythms in Coptic, a late stage of the same ancient Egyptian language that is inscribed in hieroglyphs on temple walls and papyri.

Dr. Otto Meinardus, an authority on the history of the Coptic Church, has revised, updated and combined his studies, "Christian Egypt, Ancient and Modern" (AUC Press 1965 and 1977) and "Christian Egypt, Faith and Life" (AUC Press, 1970) into a new, definitive, one-volume history for the Millennium, surveying the 20 centuries of existence of one of the oldest churches in the world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Modern Classic on Coptic Orthodoxy
This book, though small in size, is enormous in the breadth of information on the Coptic Orthodox Church it offers. I would not recommend this book as a final step in anyone's journey to knowledge of the ancient Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt, but it is an excellent beginning or median reference work that is sure to fill in missing gaps and tie concepts together. I do, however, agree with those who fault the binding for being weak; if you use this book frequently, prepare to have it rebound.

3-0 out of 5 stars Catalog of facts about Coptic churches around the world
This book is very good if you're looking for a collection of information about particular churches, where they are, who leads them and what goes on at each locale. It is not so much a story as a compilation of details; it's been called an encyclopedia, and I agree with that assessment. So, I think it would appeal more to someone looking for a reference guide than a biographical account. There are other books by this author which fit that description. This may not be the first book by Meniardus I'd put on my shelf, but it's still worth reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity
The book was very interesting and well written. What Christians believed about pass events certainly does vary.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must for All Church Scholars
As the other reviewers said, this is absolutely a foundational compendium, worth much for its charts and appendices, alone, and for the fact that it's rather up to date (originally published in '99 and updated in '02).

A word of warning -- the binding is very poorly done on this trade paperback and every page falls out as you turn it, so the book will have to be rebound, probably spiral, for the repeated reference use that it will get.

5-0 out of 5 stars Encyclopedic Review of Two Millenia of Faith
"This fine new compendium of Coptic history and life, from the greatly admired scholar Professor Otto Meinardus, will immediately take its place as the one essential Coptic Orthodox desktop reference book in English." Dr. J. Watson, Coptic Church Review, vol. 21, no. 2, summer 2000

Coptic Christianity:
In the second century Christianity began to spread to the rural areas, from Alexandria. The Gospel translations into Sahidic, and Buhairic Coptic, the major two local dialects, enhanced the spread of Christianity in mainland Egypt. The monastic desert movement, started in the 3rd century, during Roman persecutions, by St. Anthony in the North and St. Pachomius in upper Egypt in early 4th century, that was carried by John Cassian to the Gaul, from where monasticism spread throughout the Christian world.
The Church of Alexandria, known later as the Coptic (Egyptian) Church lead the Christians and defended Orthodoxy in theological dispute about the nature of Christ in the 4th & 5th centuries.Coptic Christians, lay and monastic, were joined by miaphysite Syrians against the decisions of the council of Chalcedon.

Author, Otto Meinardus:
Professor Meinardus is a well known member of the German Archaeological Society, and a Coptic expert. He spent over forty years in Egypt, taught at the American University in Cairo, and wrote more than ten books on various Coptic issues (hard and software). The Coptic Church Review, American Patristic Quarterly introduced him as; "The Revd. Dr. Otto Meinardus, who has contributed frequently to this journal, is an internationally known Coptologist who has written extensively on the Coptic and Oriental Churches." He was described by the eminent Coptologist John Watson (Among the Copts) as; "probably the greatest individual European contributor to Coptic studies in the last century".

Two Millenia of Faith:
In a systematic exposition, the expert author after a concise introduction elaborates on 'Coptic Software,' The Coptic church: Its history, Tradition, Theology, and Structure. He tackles Coptic traditions about the Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, St. Mark and founding of the Church in Egypt, The Theological contribution of Alexandria, the Canons of the Coptic Church, History of Coptic theology, after Chalcedon, The Copts from 7th to 20th century. He masterfully describes 'Folk Coptic Religion,' Mulid ( Popular Festival), healing and Mystics. He end this part with the Coptic Diaspora, and African mission.

Coptic Churches and Monasteries:
Dr. Meinardus unparalleled expertise is evident in this second part, about which he wrote several books. He starts from early Christianity in Alxandria and utilizes 130 pages to take you in an amazing tour in space and time with plates of 24 photos.

Wonderful Appendices:
A. Marks of identification: Tattoos and Names
B. Patriarchs of the Coptic Church & Rulers of Egypt
C. Language, architecture, and Calendar
D. Feasts & Relics of the Coptic Saints ... Read more

17. The Orthodox Churches In A Pluralistic World: An Ecumenical Conversation
Paperback: 224 Pages (2004-08-15)
list price: US$11.90 -- used & new: US$11.63
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Asin: 2825413976
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Churches seek to supply their people with pastoral support and theological insight, even when the community's self-understanding is evolving in the midst of a pluralistic environment. This anthology explores various ways in which churches of the Orthodox tradition are meeting the challenges of a post-modern world.The authors' presentations identify contemporary opportunities for Christian witness, promoting ministries of healing and renewal within a diverse society. The discussion includes these topics: cultural identity and ethnic conflict, globalisation and human rights, violence, forgiveness and reconciliation, world mission and spirituality. ... Read more

18. Understanding the Greek Orthodox Church: 4th edition
by Demetrios J. Constantelos
Paperback: 364 Pages (2005-03-28)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$16.99
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Asin: 0917653505
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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An excellent introduction and overview of OrthodoxChristianity, with an emphasis on the Greek Orthodox Tradition.Thework covers basic themes of history, doctrine, spirituality, andliturgy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Many reasons to respect Greek Orthodox thought
Contantelos makes a clear presentation of Greek Orthodox tradition, giving basic insight into the values, rites and spiritual practices of the oldest living church. Concerning marriage for the clergy for example, he explains why most of the common priests remain married. Even the bishops were often married until the council of Trullo in 691, when the Greek Church decreed that a bishops role required undivided commitment, without the distraction of family life. For the rest of the clergy, marriage remained the standard. As Constantelos explains, "The fact that the [Greek Orthodox] Church has not made an official pronouncement placing celibacy above marriage indicates that the conscience of the Church has accepted marriage as a more courageous state of being". (p. 73.)

I came away from the book with greater respect for the depth of thought behind Greek Orthodox traditions.

-author of Correcting Jesus

5-0 out of 5 stars Good introductory text on the Greek Orthodox Church
I was very pleased with this book.I had previously used the third edition, but the fourth edition is even better. It is a good introduction to the history, doctrine and culture of the Orthodox Church.It also devotes suffient space to outlining the history of Orthodoxy in the United States (Chapter 5).

Chapters 2 and 4 are superb chapters on some of the core beliefs and practices of Orthodoxy, and are very easy to understand.A major regret is that the author doesn't go sufficiently (in my opinion) into the Orthodox calendar, though he certainly does touch upon it.A list and subsequent explanation of Orthodox holy days, such as Lazarus Saturday or the Sunday of Orthodoxy, would be useful, since sacred time is very important to the Orthodox Church.Perhaps in future editions this will be included.

The history chapter (Chapter 3) is good, but I would suggest that future editions include more information on the filioque clause, due to its importance, (it only gets one page), and might recommend explanding the conciliar history and development of Greek Orthodox theology.I would also like to see more on the development of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (including the role of St. Andrew).Ultimately, I think that the history chapter needs a major overhaul (in a fifth edition???) perhaps dividing into two chapters due to its significance.For example, one chapter on general Orthodox history, the other on the development of doctrine and relations with Western Christianity.The latter would include, among other things, a one or two-page list of the Seven Ecumencial Councils and what each did.

With these rather minor exceptions, I strongly recommend this book to people interested in beginning a study of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Mr. Constantelos has done a Major service to Christianity in general and Orthodoxy in particular in presenting this book.He clearly explains in a language that is easy to understand such sujects as 1) The divinity in history 2)The Holy Spirit 3)Life in the Church 4)The Relevance of the Church today 5)The Patristic and Monastic Aspects of the Church.The book is well ballanced and very informative. ... Read more

19. The Way: What Every Protestant Should Know About the Orthodox Church (Faith Catechism)
by Clark Carlton
Paperback: 222 Pages (2007-07-27)
list price: US$22.95 -- used & new: US$14.31
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Asin: 0964914123
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Outlines the fundamental differences between Orthodoxy and Protestantism.Written with a broad vision of the historic church; includes instruction to help believers to embrace the fullness of the Christian faith. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

4-0 out of 5 stars Pretty good book so far
I am only thru chapter 4 of this book. Interestingly, I am already a Catechumen and this book actually had nothing to do with me making that decision. Some background, I have been studying in a fairly dedicated manner, Reformed Theology and Calvinism for a couple years. I had gone through the Theology courses at www.bible.org and listened to R.C. Sproul almost everyday. Add to that the fact I am a musician, and was in a Christian Metal band in HS, and have ALWAYS played guitar in the worship band of whatever Church was serving MY needs at the time. I thought I had it figured out, that the Bible was almost like this Holy Item that just fell out of the sky and it was the ONLY thing you needed to live your life as true Christian. Don't get me wrong, it is a great start, but a lot of people forget that the Bible was created by the CHURCH, and ecumenical councils, not the other way around. I was born into a protestant family, raised protestant, went to protestant Church ranging from a home church size, Charismatic, Traditional, Mega Churches that rival Disneyland, and even went to protestant private school. Last summer, I met a new friend who is Greek and we started talking, she did not preach or anything, but I was already feeling something very wrong about the Churches I had been attending. It wasn't so much that one did something way worse than another, or one had too much music, and one had too little, that was surface stuff I used to bounced from Church to Church. It was more the attitude it seemed to encourage in myself, and most of the others attendees I observed. The problem was when I noticed that the over all goals all of the protestant churches were trying to achieve, was to be "relevant" to the modern world. This manifested itself in everything; multiple venues of music like at churches like Saddleback. Starbucks coffee in the lobbies, etc.... I am sure you know what I mean. Don't get me wrong, its a great place to bring agnostics, and they will think its "cool". Unfortunately, what initially I thought were the coolest things about the Protestant churches, the music, the resources, the endless classes, the home groups, the video games for the kids, jamming in the worship band, didn't seem to amount to a hill of beans when I started thinking in terms of a Holy All Knowing creator of the Universe. Of all the Protestant Theologians, I think RC Sproul comes darn close in his Holiness of God series. I had an epiphany one day when I realized that ALL of this was designed to satisfy the individual need. "Honey, lets try that other Church, I liked the music better there. I liked that pastors sermons better. I like the fact they don't make us stand so much. I I I I I ..... unfortunately, this is the inevitable result of the course many (not all) but many, of these Churches have taken. So not being a Baptist, I cant relate so much specifically to that, but boy, I felt at times I was reading my own experience. So, this book was given to me by a Deacon at my Parish as part of the Catechumen class. I like it so far, it is very simple, and short enough to give to family members who can't fathom why you would not want to be protestant anymore. I am hoping to get into more Orthodox Theology books in the future. A couple of quotes to end this review turned diatribe; from a Priest and Deacon at our Parish. "Luther just traded one Pope for many", and "It is not what Protestants HAVE that is the problem, it is what they are lacking". Now when I go to Church, I go not to hear a great Worship band and check out how good the guitar player is, or cute singer girls. I don't go to GET SOMETHING from the sermon. Lord knows there is plenty of Christian radio if I want to listen to that.... I don't go for the coffee. I go to give Worship in the same manner as the Christians in the 1st Century Church did. And guess what! I was SEEKING, but a seeker friendly Church is not where God guided me. Imagine that.... So, this is a great book to start with, but don't end it there. There is also a good workbook style book called Dance of Isaiah, that is more a direct line by line comparison of Protestant, Orthodox and Roman Catholic beliefs and practices. Keep in mind Orthodox are Catholic, because they believe in one Holy and Apostolic Church. However, Orthodox are NOT Roman Catholic. Catholic means, Universal. The Church of Rome split away from Holy Orthodoxy during the great Schism. The Eastern Orthodox Church (old calendar), has remained, for the most part, unchanged. Anyway, Cheers!

5-0 out of 5 stars Insightful, rings true to this ex-evangelical protestant.
As someone who left evangelical/fundamentalist protestantism over ten years ago, and then explored the christian tradition as far as Catholicism while still remaining unsatisfied, I found this book inspiring me to take yet another look into the christian tradition for truth and community.I regret now that at that time I didn't know enough to look at the Orthodox Church (or the Coptic Church, for that matter) before giving up on the christian tradition.

And having grown up attending both baptist churches and other protestant churches with strong similarities to the baptist denominations, it seems clear to me that Carlton writes with profound and clear insider insight.The readily predictable reactions of a number of baptist reviewers here certainly don't surprise me, but they strike me as being rooted in the process of psychological denial more than in a truly candid and truth-seeking evaluation of Carlton's prophetic message to their churches.To put it simply; Carlton seems to understand protestant doctrine and practice more clearly than your average baptist.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
I think this is a very valuable book - well written and easy to read - for anyone interested in digging deep into the strong roots of the Christian faith, especially thosewho claim to be Protestants or Biblical Christians.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint of heart
About a year and a half ago, I was happily Protestant, and then someone had the nerve to introduce me to the Orthodox Church. This strange church intrigued me. It definitely seemed to have been around a long time--much longer than my Protestant church. I felt the need to judge between the Orthodox Church and the Protestant churches to find out which was legitimate. This book gives an excellent comparison of the two and does so using many witnesses (i.e., Church Fathers) down through the Church's 2,000 year history.

If you are Protestant, this book is a great one to read. I suggest following it with The Faith and then The Life. These help you to better understand Orthodox theology.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Book for Those Who Searches "The WaY".
Clark Carlton's book is very needed these days when there is so much confusion in the world, in the USA, regarding what actually Christianity is.Protestantism in the USA, that politically allied itself with Republicans, has turned many to-be Christians away from Christianity. The book will help manypeople to come to the realization of the fallacy of Protestantism as Christianity, especially offundamentalists, who have"adopted an 'ends justifies the means' mentality with regard to political tactics".
Clark Carlton's book presents a deep insight intothe history of different Protestant doctrines that claim to be Christian. He successfully manages to prove the reality of the New Testament Church in the Orthodox Church which was miraculously preserved as original Apostolic Church through two thousand years of its life.Clark Carlton writes "In the early Church, the doctrine, worship, and structure of the Church were so interwoven that one one could not be separated from the other. Our Lord Jesus Christ founded one church, not a multitude of denominations. That CHURCH is nothing less than His Body, His continuing presencein the world. That Church is Orthodox Church"
The book clearly proves that neither of the Apostles or Jesus Christ himself bequeathed Reformation which was done by human inspiration through human reasoning.Numerous times Bible tells us about Church which is the Body of Christ, and about how Church should be understood, which is the Living Body of Christ where Christians live in Communion with God,which is the essence of Christianity. Clark Carlton explains the fallacy of Protestantsin a very precise way: for Protestants"The Bible became an idol - an idol that" they themselves "controlled. An infallible book is only useful if you have an infallible interpreter, the sole arbiterof what the Bible did and did mot mean. The Reformation did not do away with medieval Papacy and all of its pretensions, it merely democratized it and made everyone Pope."That explains why Protestants empirically tryto reason God or Bible,which is opposite to Orthodox Christians whojust have strong Faith, and entrust themselves to God. This isFaith without empirical reasoning.
Clark Carlton brilliantly explains the essence of the Church created by Jesus Christ, which is the Body of Christ. And the Church is the Body of Christ for Orthodox Christians. The scriptures provide the guidance, but not His body, of His flesh, and his bones (Eph.5:30) Likewise Christ Himself said, "He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him (John 6:56).
Being exposed to Protestantism, but being now an Orthodox Christian, I found the book very convincing for those who want to find "the Way". ... Read more

20. Simple Guides The Orthodox Church
by Katherine Clark
Paperback: 144 Pages (2009-05-05)
list price: US$10.95 -- used & new: US$6.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1857334876
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

• to appreciate the depth and beauty of the dominant form of Christianity in Greece, Russia and much of Eastern Europe

• to understand the tenets, nature and holy days of Orthodox belief

• to recognize the physical features of an Orthodox church, and the spiritual significance of icons

• to know what to expect and how to conduct yourself during Orthodox services and ceremonies

Orthodoxy is the dominant form of Christianity in Greece, Russia, parts of Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Its practices are largely unfamiliar in the West, and have remained essentially unchanged since the earliest days of the faith. This lucid introduction outlines the tenets, nature and holy days of Orthodox belief with the Western reader in mind. It describes the physical church, especially icons, services, and common practices, and offers advice to visitors on how to conduct themselves so that they are accepted and feel comfortable.

Several chapters concern the life of Jesus and the beginnings of Christianity; others trace the origins and history of the Church, with particular attention to its great champion, Constantine the Great. The present structure of the Church is described in brief, and the split between the Eastern and the Western Churches is related with differences clearly explained.

The great antiquity and beauty of its liturgy, its essentially minimal hierarchy and its mystical yet pragmatic approach make the Orthodox religion a powerful medium for its profound and universal message. This deceptively simple volume takes the reader on a journey to the heart of the Christian tradition.


Simple Guides: Religion is a series of concise, accessible introductions to the world’s major religions. Written by experts in the field, they offer an engaging and sympathetic description of the key concepts, beliefs and practices of different faiths.

Ideal for spiritual seekers and travellers alike, Simple Guides aims to open the doors of perception. Together the books provide a reliable compass to the world’s great spiritual traditions, and a point of reference for further exploration and discovery. By offering essential insights into the core values, customs and beliefs of different
societies, they also enable visitors to be aware of the cultural sensibilities of their hosts, and to behave in a way that fosters mutual respect and understanding. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Orthodox Church: Short, Sweet and Clear
Religions - all of them - often do not put forth their best face to strangers, in that they can seem fusty and exclusive.In "The Orthodox Church," Katherine Clark has realized that simple explanations can make this ancient religion seem rich, persuasive, and full of beauty - whether you are a believer or not. Because the Orthodox church avoids dogma, is resistant to change, and is always welcoming without being evangelical, it can provide a window into the past as well as offer insight into contemporary problems. If you read it, your next visit to an Orthodox church will seem more comprehensible and full of beautiful ancient forms. Although I spend much time in Greece, this book has made me aware of much that I was missing.Most visitors to Orthodox countries sense that the churches and chapels are inviting, and now they'll know why.

--Jeffrey Carson

5-0 out of 5 stars the orthodox church
i have read this book and ordered it for my children to read--- they do not know greek and read only english -- this is an excellent book for the greek orthodox who wants to know his faith -- our previous wriiten and spoken religious books are in greek and i cannot understand them as well as this book... ... Read more

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