The Eastern Orthodox Church: A New History

John Anthony McGuckin. Yale Univ., $32.50 (376p) ISBN 978-0-300-21876-3
McGuckin (The Book of Mystical Chapters), an emeritus professor of early Christianity and Byzantine studies, traces the history of the Eastern Orthodox Church from its founding to the present in this lucid if sometimes tough-going introduction. McGuckin’s opening explanation of Orthodox theology often veers into the abstract while breaking down “apostolic traditions,” but it serves as useful grounding for the rest of the book by shedding light on historical events such as the split between the Western Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions. With the majority of the book rushing over 2,000 years of history—the Ecumenical councils of the first millennia CE, the 11th century Great Schism—McGuckin’s telling is engrossing but often overwhelming, and most readers with little knowledge of the material would benefit from more explanation of how the various branches of the church relate to one another. The closing chapters are more accessible, introducing notable 20th-century Orthodox figures and discussing what to expect when visiting an Orthodox church, from respect for icons to standing during prayer services. McGuckin’s thorough history will appeal to readers with a deep interest in non-Western forms of Christianity. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/16/2019
Release date: 03/01/2020
Genre: Religion
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