This book is a collection of scholarly chapters that introduces the history, theology and spiritual practices of the Philokalia—a collection of monastic texts of the Eastern Orthodox Church written between the fourth and fifteenth centuries. Next to the Bible, the Philokalia is the most widely read book in the Orthodox world today by monks and laypeople alike. It is rapidly gaining popularity among Roman Catholics and Protestants. Bishop Kallistos Ware aptly summarizes its place in the modern world: “The work as a whole is to be seen as a spiritual ‘time bomb,’ whose chief influence has come, not at the moment of its first publication towards the end of the eighteenth century, but two hundred years later.”
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“In the words of St. Basil the Great (c.330–79), ‘I am a creature that has received the command to become god” (Page 31)
“On the one hand, they remind us that Christians are to embrace all that is good and holy within our physical world and we are to contribute toward its social progress. They were not so heavenly minded that they were of no earthly good. At the same time, however, they saw the Christian life as one of countercultural engagement. They saw themselves, and all Christians, on the front lines of spiritual warfare where the heart is to be purified, the passions conquered, sin destroyed, and humanity, along with all of creation, renewed.” (Page 5)
“Nikodimos maintains that St. Paul’s injunction, ‘Pray without ceasing’ (1 Thess. 5:17), is addressed not merely to hermits in caves and on mountain-tops but to married Christians with responsibilities for a family, to farmers, merchants, and lawyers, even to ‘kings and courtiers living in palaces.’9 Unceasing prayer of the heart is a universal vocation. The best is for everyone.” (Page 12)
“Orthodox spirituality is above all else a gospel spirituality that is centered on Jesus Christ in his trinitarian relations.” (Page 3)
“the active life (praktiki), the contemplation of nature (physiki), and the contemplation of God (theologia)” (Page 29)
This is a fascinating and illuminating volume which will be welcomed by scholars and general readers alike.
—Journal of Theological Studies
It is not just that this volume on the history, sources, contents, and relevance of the Philokalia is much needed and long overdue, but that the range, breadth, and erudition of the contributions in it are breathtaking. At a time in which the term ‘spirituality’ has become a dodge from substantial religious conviction and serious religious practice, the Philokalia instructs in a way of prayer and spiritual discipline that has muscle and commands attention. This volume will stand for some time as the definitive introduction to the Philokalia and by way of this, also, to the Orthodox theological tradition.
—Vigen Guroian, professor of religious studies, University of Virginia
Brock Bingaman is assistant professor of religious studies and the director of the religious studies program at Wesleyan College.
Bradley Nassif is professor of biblical and theological studies at North Park University.