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The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture Paperback – 26 Nov 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; Reprint edition (26 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444337319
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444337310
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 2.3 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 488,813 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

“This is an unparalleled introduction to the Orthodox Church. Comprehensive in its scope, surveying the history and present state of the Church, it is also bold and fresh in its presentation of Orthodox theology and yet, or rather thus, truly traditional. Fr. John McGuckin’s inspired and challenging vision of Orthodoxy reveals a Church entering upon a ‘new spring,’ ready to address the concerns of the modern world, intellectually, politically, and socially, grounded in God’s philanthropy for all his creation.”
John Behr, St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

“Fr. John McGuckin has succeeded here in an almost impossible task: to offer us a concise, evocative, sympathetic, yet historically sophisticated portrait of the history, faith, and practice of the Orthodox Churches in one highly readable, constantly informative volume. Poet and scholar as he is, McGuckin writes gracefully and engagingly, yet with a theological and spiritual depth that invites all of us to reflect more deeply on what is most fundamental to the Christian faith. The book seems bound to become a classic.” 
Brian E. Daley, SJ, University of Notre Dame


“This volume will be the classical introduction to Orthodoxy at least for most of this century. McGuckin is, in an ascending and unifying order, scholar and poet, convert and Romanian Orthodox priest. The book’s content is clearly set in a twenty–first century context, while being deeply scriptural, patristic and byzantine. The aroma of Orthodoxy wafts through its pages. It serves as the gateway to this Christian community for outsiders and insiders alike, because it is faithful and insight–filled while also ancient and up to date.” 
Frederick W. Norris, Emmanuel School of Religion

--This text refers to the Digital Download edition.

About the Author

Father John Anthony McGuckin is a Stavrofor Priest of the Romanian Orthodox Church. He is the Nielsen Professor of Early Christian and Byzantine Church History at Union Theological Seminary, and Professor of Byzantine Christianity at New York’s Columbia University. Professor McGuckin has published more than twenty books on religious and historical themes and is considered one of the most articulate spokespersons of the early Christian and Eastern Orthodox tradition writing in English today.

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Format: Kindle Edition
The content of the book may be very good, but the Kindle version is a disaster. Each chapter has endnotes (sometimes over 200) and many of the notes are not simply references, but contain significant discussion of points raised in the text. There is no easy way to move between body text and notes - there is no hyperlinking so unless you are able to remember several location numbers simultaneously in order to jump back and forth the Kindle text is useless for serious study. Buy the book, by all means, and profit from it, but don't waste money on the Kindle version. Shame on the publishers who released this, and shame on Amazon for retailing such a shoddy piece of work.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I agree with the person who reviewed the Kindle version of the book. Although I do not have a Kindle, the footnotes to the book are important and not just ancillary or scholarly. You need to read them and if the Kindle version is not good, then you have a problem with this book.
The book itself is an excellent introduction to Orthodox Christianity. When I received it, I devoured it. In some respects it surpasses the Kallistos Ware book on Orthodoxy not because it is better in overall content but, because it is very full and directed towards the ordinary Christian reader in, perhaps, a more straightforward way. It suffers at time from a certain bad-temperedness when Fr. McGuckin feels strongly about something. Kallistos Ware's introduction is rather more temperate, and frankly more English in its evenness of tone, but this is more a matter of taste than anything else.
The one problem, however, facing most apologists of Orthodox Christianity is to explain why Orthodox Christianity is supposed to be better than Western Christianity, especially in the aftermath of the Enlightenment in the West. Most Orthodox apologists say that Orthodoxy is less polluted, so the speak, by the Enlightenment and, therefore, is an more original version of Christianity. This is undoubtedly true viewed from an historical and theological point of view but it does not explain why Orthodoxy is a more convincing version of Christianity. One is left with the suspicion that Orthodoxy has, not, in fact, dealt with the challenges of the Enlightenment. One hates to say it but this may give rise to suspicions that Orthodoxy is just native to parts of Europe that have not been affected so much by modern thinking (Eastern Europe, Russia etc.
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Format: Paperback
This is a book for the Orthodox and non Orthodox alike.

Professor McGuckin, himself an Orthodox Priest, explains with great clarity the structure and history of the Church; the importance of the seven early councils and the writings of the Church Fathers. The division of the Eastern and Western Churches are set out with the Orthodox Church having a collegiate structure as opposed to the Roman model of a supreme Pontiff. This conflict over authority in ecclesiastical jurisdiction was as much a cause of the Great Schism of 1054 as the disagreement over the Western insertion of the Filioque clause to the Nicene Creed.

He reveals the doctrines, sacraments and liturgies while pointing a way forward for Orthodoxy in the modern world while retaining its Holy Tradition.

This book will inspire and refresh all those searching for a greater and loving spirituality in our increasingly material and secular world.
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