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The Ascent of Christian Law: Patristic and Byzantine Formulations of a New Civilization
The Ascent of Christian Law: Patristic and Byzantine Formulations of a New Civilization
by John Anthony McGuckin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.34

5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a detailed study of the development of the Canons., 10 Dec 2013
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Regardless of the recent influx of books on the development of Orthodox Tradition becoming available in English, the topic of the Canon Tradition remains an area which is sparcely covered in great detail. Most introductions to Orthodox Christianity will cover the Oecumenical Councils and definition of Canon but will not go much further in covering the vast history of the topic.

McGuckin has stepped in to fill this void and has done so in a manner suiting the complexity of the subject matter. The Ascent of Christian Law is a must for any student of Canonology or reader of the subject. The book is very readable, regardless of the depth of your understanding, and covers both East and West in great detail, starting with the scriptural foundations of the Canons. It then proceeds to pass through various phases in the development of the Canons before reaching its conclusion at the later Byzantine Canonists and their input to the Canon Tradition of the later Byzantine Empire.

The level of historical research put into the text also makes this book worth reading, as it puts the councils and Synods of the first millenium into the context of the tradition as a whole. This allows the reader to see why the council was needed and how it impacted the development of the Orthodox Tradition, rather than simply giving us details on the event itself.

One flaw I can see with this book is McGuckin's need to state his opinion in his footnotes, which can take away from the academic nature of the text itself. Some readers may be able to understand the innocent manner in which this is played out, but for others it can be offputting to see a footnote in academic text referring to those who hold a certain viewpoint as 'dummies.' Regardless of this slight hitch, the contents of the book in itself are beautifully covered in a way rarely seen in a book on this subject.

Overall, McGuckin has filled in a black hole which has plagued the world of Modern Orthodox Academics for decades. He has covered the vast and complex topic of the Canons in a way which makes it easy to understand and relevant to the reader. This in itself is an accomplishment which few have achieved and makes the book a highly recommended piece of reading for anybody interested in the topic.


Sweeter Than Honey: Orthodox Thinking on Dogma and Truth (Foundation Series)
Sweeter Than Honey: Orthodox Thinking on Dogma and Truth (Foundation Series)
by Peter Bouteneff
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accessable, Educational and Academic, 5 Sep 2013
Sweeter than Honey: Orthodox Thinking on Dogma and Truth

By Dr. Peter Bouteneff

ISBN: 978-0881413076

Price 6.58 (Amazon Kindle Store)

As a book which I picked up purely as a timepass during a recent trip to Trivandrum, Bouteneff's most commonly known work turned out to be a worthwhile investment and one which I finished before the plane even took off. I am a fan of Bouteneff's academically honest writings and accessable writing style, but this book can easily be read and respected by Theology readers across the spectrum.

The book comprises of two sections, one which deals with the Philosophical complexities of defining truth, the other with how the Church forms Tradition around this truth. Both sections are close to 100 pages long and comprise of readable bitesize sections amid longer chapters. This allows the book to be read at a steady pace and entire sections easily found for rereading and academic quoting without sifting through paragraph after paragraph.

The content of the first section, as previously mentioned, is centered around the question "what is truth" and tackles this from a Theological viewpoint, questioning the role of Revelation and scripture in the process of defining truth. This is a good place to start, since it adds to the experience by giving the reader the benefit of understanding what Bouteneff means by truth before entering into the discussion of the Dogmatic side of the book.

The second section is where Bouteneff gets into the real study of Orthodox Dogmatics, looking at the importance of Dogma and the study of theology. This section studies the reason for studying theology, and Church's motives in the development of the Canons and Doctrine. This is further split up into sections explaining why and how certain factors and contributors to the development of Orthodox Dogmatics emerged, making compelling arguments for everything from the Orthodox Exegetical approach to the veneration of the fathers and their works. He also make a compelling case for the polemical language used by the fathers, which demonstrates a fair and academic approach which allows the reader to understand the complexities of reading the fathers.

As key factors in the understanding of the vitality of Tradition and Dogma to the Orthodox faith, the reasons for their development of the various areas of Orthodox Doctrine and key questions surrounding the, are covered well by Bouteneff and in a way which is extremely inviting and readable. Altogether, I could not recommend this book enough. Not only is Bouteneff's writing style one which invites the reader to continue and learn, but the way in which he tackles a topic which can be immensely dry with a vitality which can only be found in a writer who triely values the Traditions of the Orthodox Faith.


Coptic Identity and Ayyubid Politics in Egypt 1218-1250
Coptic Identity and Ayyubid Politics in Egypt 1218-1250
by Kurt Werthmuller
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 26.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Good resource, 6 Aug 2013
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Considering the very small amount of academic material available in english, we are lucky to have writers like Kurt Werthmuller.

Werthmuller's book given a concisely detailed analysis of the situation of the Coptic Church during the Papacy of Cyril Ibn laklak. It uses sources from the era and looks at the situation in the context of the wider Islamic rule of Egypt.

I would give the book 5* though find Werthmuller's coverage of some aspects of Cyril's Papacy to be lacking in academic support, though the sources he uses support his conclusion well.


An Interpretive Account of Belief and Practice: in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
An Interpretive Account of Belief and Practice: in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
by Abba Hailegebriel Girma PhD
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great overview, 17 July 2013
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It is rare to find a good, solid and patristically supported overview of the faith of the Tewahedo Orthodox tradition but this book does this very well.

It is spit into four sections looking at Church Structure, Beliefs and Practice, Sacraments and the Church in the Diaspora. This allows the short book to cover much ad give a nice level of detail for an overview. Each of the sections is well supported by quotes from both Scripture and the Church Fathers. This allows for smoother Orthodox reading with the broad range of support from Tradition.

I would recommend the book to anyone who wants a Theological and Ecclesiological overview of the Church, as it is written for people with a reasonable level of Theological Literacy. The book is not written as a 'get up and go' guide to the Tewahedo Orthodox tradition but to cover basic ideas and show their links to Patristic and Scriptural evidence.

The reason I have only given 4 stars as I feel that it could have been easily expanded to include the History of the Tewahedo Tradition and the Church Abroad section could have been a bit deeper, dealing with Canonical issues.

Either way, it is possibly the best guide to Tewahedo Orthodox teaching apart from primary sources, so certainly recommended to anyone who wishes to study this.


From Glory to Glory; Texts from Gregory of Nyssa's Mystical Writings
From Glory to Glory; Texts from Gregory of Nyssa's Mystical Writings
by Jean & Musurillo, Herbert eds) Gregory of Nyssa (Danielou
Edition: Hardcover

2.0 out of 5 stars Catalogue, not complete text., 21 April 2013
Though this is a valuable resource, it is important to point out that rather than being a complete text this is a blend of seperate quotes organised by topic.

Overall it is an OK selection but would be better with a more suitable form of organisation and more in the way of commentary to explain the significance of the texts chosen.


A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series, Vol. 14 (Classic Reprint)
A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Second Series, Vol. 14 (Classic Reprint)
by Philip Schaff
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading, 21 April 2013
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For anyone studying patristic Canonology or Orthodox Canon Law this book is a must have.

It contains the 7 Ecumenical Council Canons, Local Synodian Councils in the patristic period and also the Canons of the fathers. Along with these are the commentaries of Zonoras and later western commentaries, which shed light on their application.

Altogether, if you are studying the Canons without a copy of them such as this, you need to get the text. it is extremely useful!


Faith and Humor: Notes from Muscovy
Faith and Humor: Notes from Muscovy
by Maya Kucherskaya
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.16

4.0 out of 5 stars Funny but sometimes lost in translation, 21 April 2013
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This book is generally brilliant.

if you want something fun to read before bed or to share with others it is good, just be aware that the jokes and comedy can soemtimes be lost in translation in the english.


An Introduction to Philo Judaeus
An Introduction to Philo Judaeus
by Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough
Edition: Paperback
Price: 19.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Introduction - a must have., 21 April 2013
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Goodenough's introduction is still the prescribed text when studying Philo, and this is for good reason.

Most topics and areas of Philo's thought are explained here, from his political thought to the metaphysical analyses he made, and they are given ample reference from his text to allow a clear evidenced stance to be produced.

In summary, I would say this is a must have for anyone beginning study of Philo's Philosophy and Middle platonic interaction with Abrahamic Monotheism in general.


Presence and Thought: Essay on the Religious Philosophy of Gregory of Nyssa (Communio Book)
Presence and Thought: Essay on the Religious Philosophy of Gregory of Nyssa (Communio Book)
by Hans Urs von Balthasar
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.16

4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Analysis though dry in parts., 21 April 2013
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As someone with a love of patristic Theology this book was an outstanding piece of analysis. Vom Balthasar does not use the opportunity to promote any Pro-Latin agenda and gives an analysis which can be read across the board and is respected by those from across the Christian worls.

The reason I have given it a 4 rather than 5 is simply because there is no index page, which can cause a problem when using it to look at a specific part of Gregory's Theology. Otherwise the book is brilliant.


Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity: New Edition
Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity: New Edition
by Otto F. Meinardus
Edition: Paperback
Price: 18.95

4.0 out of 5 stars great for people who know about the subject, 21 April 2013
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This books is good as a research tool, covering a great deal of information about the Coptic Church, as well as its Theology and History.

I would recommend it for Academics rather than for everyone as the topics it covers are given a lot of detail which can come off as dry or boring, also it is best read when looking for a single section which is why it is more useful as a research tool than general reading.


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