Orthodox Constructions of the West

Orthodox Constructions of the West

George E. Demacopoulos
Aristotle Papanikolaou
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Orthodox Constructions of the West
    Book Description:

    The category of the "West" has played a particularly significant role in the modern Eastern Orthodox imagination. It has functioned as an absolute marker of difference from what is considered to be the essence of Orthodoxy, and, thus, ironically, has become a constitutive aspect of the modern Orthodox self. The essays collected in this volume examines the many factors that contributed to the "Eastern" construction of the "West" in order to understand why the "West" is so important to the Eastern Christian's sense of self.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5206-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Orthodox Naming of the Other: A Postcolonial Approach
    (pp. 1-22)
    George E. Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou

    Who is Western? Who is Eastern? Am I “Eastern” if I commune in an Eastern Orthodox parish in Toledo, Ohio? Am I “Western” if I commune at an Eastern-Rite Catholic parish in Kiev? What if I was baptized into the Eastern Orthodox faith as a child, but I’ve never learned an Eastern language or traveled outside of the United States—am I Eastern or Western? What if I am a convert to an Eastern or Western faith? In short, what is the link between religious confession and location, and how do the considerations of confession and location impact the construction...

  5. Perceptions and Realities in Orthodox-Catholic Relations Today: Reflections on the Past, Prospects for the Future
    (pp. 23-44)
    Robert F. Taft

    On the feast of St. Andrew, November 30, 2000, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said after Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of St. George in the Phanar: “Revisiting the past and examining human faults must continue in all directions … because whoever consents to the misdeeds of another or tolerates them by his silence, shares the responsibility of their author.”¹ In the same vein, in an extraordinary assembly on December 8–10, 1993, the Serbian Orthodox hierarchy formulated the following principle: “On this earth there is not nor can there be any true peace among men and nations without...

  6. Byzantines, Armenians, and Latins: Unleavened Bread and Heresy in the Tenth Century
    (pp. 45-57)
    Tia Kolbaba

    The study of how Byzantine Orthodox Christians in the Middle Ages define themselves in relation to the many faiths, ethnic groups, friends, and enemies who surround and live within the Byzantine Empire is as fascinating as the history of any group’s self-definition and its ramifications, with some added twists.¹ Greek-speaking Christians who lived in Constantinople and called themselves Romans necessarily challenge such multivalent concepts as “the West” and “medieval Christendom.” Textbooks on “Western civilization” tend to begin with the heritage of classical Greek philosophy, Roman law and government, and Christian faith, and then survey only the western and northwestern European...

  7. “Light from the West”: Byzantine Readings of Aquinas
    (pp. 58-70)
    Marcus Plested

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that East and West possess fundamentally opposing theological bases, presuppositions, and methodologies. But the assumption that East and West are meaningful and clearly delineated theological categories is of relatively recent provenance. It is the burden of this paper to demonstrate that this assumption of opposition was by no means prevalent in the last century of the Roman (or Byzantine) Empire. I propose to make this point through an examination of a range of Byzantine responses to the work of Thomas Aquinas.

    The title of this essay, “Light from the West,” deliberately invokes and reverses...

  8. From the “Shield of Orthodoxy” to the “Tome of Joy”: The Anti-Western Stance of Dositheos II of Jerusalem (1641–1707)
    (pp. 71-82)
    Norman Russell

    The ambivalence of Orthodoxy’s attitude to the West is reflected in the contrasting approaches of contemporary Orthodox thinkers. For some, Western culture embodies spiritual values that have the potentiality to enrich Orthodoxy.¹ For others, the West represents an alien ideology dominated by individualism and consumerism that threatens to overwhelm the Orthodox understanding of life as relational.² The latter perspective is based on the conviction that the West is the home of a distorted version of Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant, characterized by a preoccupation with authority and the exercise of power. The origins of this perspective may be traced back,...

  9. The Burdens of Tradition: Orthodox Constructions of the West in Russia (late 19th–early 20th cc.)
    (pp. 83-101)
    Vera Shevzov

    The nineteenth century was pivotal in the history of both Russian intellectual and modern Orthodox thought. In the first half of the century, following Russia’s defeat of Napoleon in 1814 and the Decembrist uprising in 1825, many of Russia’s educated elite, who later would be identified as the first generation of Slavophiles and Westernizers, fervently debated the future of Russia vis-à-vis the West.¹ Passionately addressing what would eventually be called “the Russian idea”—the idea of Russia’s distinctiveness with respect to Europe—these debates had long-lasting consequences not only for Russian self-identity, but also for Orthodox conceptualizations of the West....

  10. Florovsky’s Neopatristic Synthesis and the Future Ways of Orthodox Theology
    (pp. 102-124)
    Paul L. Gavrilyuk

    Archpriest Georgii Vasil’evich Florovsky (1893–1979) is commonly credited with initiating a return to the Fathers in twentieth-century Orthodox theology. For Florovsky, Christian Hellenism was the norm by which all modern theological proposals were to be judged. He believed that Western influences upon modern Russian theology led to dangerous distortions and to the “Babylonian captivity” of Orthodox life and thought. Consequently, he offered his neopatristic synthesis as a reform program for Russian émigré theology. In his writings, the neopatristic synthesis emerged as an inspired vision intended to chart the only authentic direction of Orthodox theology.

    Though neopatristic synthesis was the...

  11. Eastern “Mystical Theology” or Western “Nouvelle Théologie”?: On the Comparative Reception of Dionysius the Areopagite in Lossky and de Lubac
    (pp. 125-141)
    Sarah Coakley

    This volume is devoted to the intriguing topic of Orthodox constructions of the West. The very term “construction,” of course, suggests a certain hermeneutics of suspicion: What Orthodoxy “constructs” could turn out, on inspection, seriously to mislead. But caution must be exercised, equally, in not overreacting into an opposite danger: that of presuming all Eastern characterizations of the Latin tradition to be straightforwardly one-way, stereotypical projections. Perhaps especially in the modern period, mutual and complex interactions and dependencies between so-called Eastern and Western authors have been more common than is generally allowed, even as supposedly unbridgeable disjunctions have been rhetorically...

  12. The Image of the West in Contemporary Greek Theology
    (pp. 142-160)
    Pantelis Kalaitzidis

    The relationship between Greek theology¹ and the West has nearly always been one of ambivalence: On the one hand, the Greek side has shown a pronounced rejection and a radical critique of its Western counterpart, which has lately been justified in the name of authenticity and faithfulness to Orthodoxy, and is usually accompanied by an attitude of triumphalism against Western heresies; on the other hand, Greek theology is fairly replete with observable and tangible influences and borrowings from the West, which sometimes border on a secret admiration for the accomplishments, dynamism, and high scholarly and academic standards of Western theology....

  13. Christos Yannaras and the Idea of “Dysis”
    (pp. 161-180)
    Basilio Petrà

    I do not intend in this to deal with every aspect of the idea ofDysisin the thinking of Christos Yannaras, for in Yannaras’s vast oeuvre the theme of the West comes up in many different contexts and plays a variety of roles.¹ I shall look at his thinkingstatu nascenti, or in the early years of his reflection—that is to say, from 1964 to 1967, from his leaving the Zoe Brotherhood to the publication of his first theologico-philosophical work,On the Absence and Unknowability of God.

    The distance that Yannaras covered in these years may be described...

  14. Religion in the Greek Public Sphere: Debating Europe’s Influence
    (pp. 181-192)
    Effie Fokas

    In 1999, Peter Berger, renowned sociologist of religion, did something scholars rarely do. A leading figure in the development of the theory of secularization—the theory that predicted that modernization would necessarily lead to the decline of religion—Berger professed that he had been wrong: “The world today,” he wrote, “is massively religious, isanything butthe secularized world that had been predicted (whether joyfully or despondently) by so many analysts of modernity.”¹ Berger’s revised position reflected a series of events taking place globally that significantly challenged the theory of secularization, including the Iranian Revolution in 1979; the rise of...

  15. Shaking the Comfortable Conceits of Otherness: Political Science and the Study of “Orthodox Constructions of the West”
    (pp. 193-210)
    Elizabeth H. Prodromou

    The invitation to contribute to the conference that eventuated in this volume afforded a much-welcome opportunity to engage in cross-disciplinary inquiry into the subject of Orthodox constructions of the West. As a political scientist, I am especially enthusiastic about the possibility for such cross-disciplinary excavation of an intellectually complex and practically urgent problematic, given the renewed salience of the binary/antinomy “Orthodoxy-and-West” in the disciplinary sub-fields of international relations and comparative politics. Two events have generated a renewed, intense interest in and deployment of Orthodoxy and West as putative, mutually exclusive, “Others” in political science—the eastern and southern enlargement of...

  16. Eastern Orthodox Constructions of “the West” in the Post-Communist Political Discourse: The Cases of the Romanian and Russian Orthodox Churches
    (pp. 211-228)
    Lucian Turcescu

    Romania and Russia began the process of transformation from communism to capitalism within two years of each other. The glasnost and perestroika (openness and restructuring)—the political, social, and economic reforms—implemented by the Soviet secretary of the Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev, revealed the major cracks in the communist system and led to its unintended demise throughout Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991. Romania was the last of the Soviet satellite countries to shed its communist regime in the final days of December of that momentous year of 1989. The process combined a bloody coup...

  17. Primacy and Ecclesiology: The State of the Question
    (pp. 229-239)
    John Panteleimon Manoussakis

    The phenomenon of antipapism, understood as the denial of aprimusfor the Universal Church and the elevation of such denial to a trait that allegedly identifies the whole Orthodox Church, is, properly speaking, heretical. In saying this, I am returning the favor, so to speak, to all those who have taken upon themselves the onerous task of defending Orthodoxy against all kinds of heresy. And heresy is all they see. Any difference, not only in matters of dogma, but also in liturgy, in language, in vestments, in appearance, is immediately and solemnly denounced as heresy, as every form of...

  18. (In)Voluntary Ecumenism: Dumitru Staniloae’s Interaction with the West as Open Sobornicity
    (pp. 240-254)
    Radu Bordeianu

    Orthodox theology suffered an unhealthy influence during its “Western captivity.”¹ Specifically, the overly intellectual bent of neo-Scholasticism divorced Orthodox theology from its tradition of spirituality. In line with several notable predecessors, Eastern and Western alike, Georges Florovsky called for theological education to break from the manual tradition of neo-Scholasticism. He proposed a “neopatristic synthesis”; more than a mere repetition of earlier thought, Florovsky’sad mentem Patrumis preachable, has spiritual benefits, and represents the key to Christian unity.² In a creative interaction with the West, Florovsky called for writing in the patristic spirit (“the mind of the Fathers”³) and for...

  19. Notes
    (pp. 255-356)
  20. List of Contributors
    (pp. 357-360)
  21. Index
    (pp. 361-366)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 367-368)