This collection of six volumes is a masterful and invaluable introduction to the history, theology, piety, and worship of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Rev. John Mason Neale, himself sympathetic to the Oxford movement, does a wonderful job of not only introducing the Orthodox Church to the English-speaking world (at a time when it was little more than a mystery of the East), but also going deeper into the mystical theology, worship, and peculiarities of the Eastern Church as compared with the West.
The first four volumes provide an overview of Orthodox theology and history, as well as a more detailed look at the histories of the Patriarchates of both Alexandria and Antioch. Volume five provides more introductions to the theology of the Eastern Church, with a particular emphasis on its worship, liturgy, vestments, and ceremonies. The final volume is a collection of unique English translations of a number of Eastern hymns and canons that provide an even deeper insight into the theology and mystery of the Eastern Orthodox perspective. A must-have collection for anyone interested in either the history of the Oxford Movement (and its influence on the English churches) or the history and theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The Logos edition adds a lot of value to this collection. Every word is indexed for near-instant search results. The works are all tagged for easy cross-reference with other resources. Scripture references appear on mouseover, and a click takes you to the passage in context.
John Mason Neale (1818–1866) was a translator, scholar, hymn-writer, and priest in the Church of England. Born in London to an Anglican minister, Neale became fond of the Oxford Movement later in life and, as a result, found opposition from both his diocesan bishop and his congregation. Forced to resign, he spent most of his life working on translations of ancient hymns and liturgies, especially of the Eastern Orthodox tradition, as well as co-founding the Society of Saint Margaret and the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association. He was responsible for translating and introducing a number of ancient and Eastern hymns and liturgies to the English-speaking world. He was also, notably, a contributor to the Christmas hymn “Good Christian Men, Rejoice,” as well as the Boxing Day carol of “Good King Wenceslas.” His most popular historical works include History of the Holy Eastern Church and History of the so-called Jansenist Church of Holland. He is commemorated by both the Anglican churches (August 7) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (July 1).