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byzantine_theology J. Meyendorf

byzantine_theology J. Meyendorf

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Published by Serafino Liuzzi

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Serafino Liuzzi on Dec 19, 2010
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04/22/2015

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The historical outline found in the first nine chapters of this book was an attempt to cover the
theological controversies, the distinctive tendencies, and the basic sources of the theological
thought in Byzantium. We now turn to a more systematic picture of Byzantine theology. The
East was less prone than the West to conceptualize. It preferred to maintain its faithfulness to the
“mind of Christ” through the liturgy of the Church, through the tradition of holiness, through a
living gnosis of the Truth. In any systematic presentation of Byzantine theology, there is there-
fore a danger of forcing it into the mold of rational categories foreign to its very nature. This is
precisely what occurred in many textbooks of dogmatic theology, which appeared in the Ortho-
dox East after the eighteenth century, which claimed to remain faithful to the theology of the
Byzantine Fathers. They have been ably characterized by Georges Florovsky as expressions of a
“Western captivity” of the Orthodox mind, for it is not enough to quote an abundance of proof-
texts from patristic or Byzantine authors: true consistency requires a unity of method and conge-
niality of approach.

I have attempted to achieve this by adopting in the following chapters a plan of exposition
which conforms to the content of the Christian experience itself: man, created and fallen, meets
Christ, accepts the action of the Spirit, and is thus introduced into communion with the Triune
God. The reader judges for himself whether this plan is or is not more adequate than the other to
the subject matter itself.

77

Inevitably, a systematic exposition of doctrinal themes in Byzantine theology requires fre-
quent reference to writings, which sometimes fall outside the chronological limits defined in the
Introduction. It is impossible, for example, to speak of either anthropology or Trinitarian theol-
ogy in Byzantium without referring to Origen and to the doctrines of the great Fathers of the
fourth century, whom the Byzantines recognizes as their teachers par excellence.
It was also inevitable, on the other hand, that my treatment of the Byzantine authors be in-
fluenced by the fact that, as an Orthodox theologian, I personally see the great tradition of the
undivided Church as continuing in Byzantium and through it carrying its message to modern
times as well.

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