By John Meyendorff
For over one thousand years, japanese Christendom had as its middle the second one capital of the Roman Empire-Constantinople, the recent Rome, or Byzantium. The geographical department among the jap and Western church buildings used to be just one manifestation of deeper rifts, characterised through a protracted heritage of conflicts, suspicions, and misunderstandings. even though the artwork, monasticism, and spirituality of Byzantium have emerge as famous as inspirational and influential within the shaping of jap eu civilization, and of the center a while and the Renaissance besides, the West has been in most cases blind to the historic evolution and the doctrinal value of Byzantine theology. right here, for the 1st time in English, is gifted a synthesis of Byzantine Christian suggestion. The reader is guided via its complexities to an knowing of Byzantium: its view of guy and his future of deification; its skill to go beyond the Western captivity; its survival lower than fairly opposed old conditions. after all, he might locate himself receptive to the fundamental positions of Byzantine proposal, that have attained, during this time of desire for the reintegration of Christianity itself, a stunning, modern relevance.
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In the Page 8 Byzantine liturgical rite, which was dependent upon Syria and Palestine, Revelation is the only book of the New Testament which is never used for liturgical reading. The position of the School of Alexandria, however, expressed in particular by Athanasius and followed, in the eighth century, by John of Damascus, was finally endorsed by the Byzantine Church. After the sixth century, no one expressed any doubt about the canonicity of Revelation. The written form of the apostolic message was always understood by the Byzantines in the framework of "apostolic tradition"the wider, living, and uninterrupted continuity of the apostolic Church.
7 Therefore, Tresmontant's and Florovsky's conclusions appear to be fundamentally correct, and the usual slogans and clichés which too often serve to characterize patristic and Byzantine thought as exalted "Christian Hellenism," or as the "Hellenization of Christianity," or as Eastern "Platonism" as opposed to Western "Aristotelianism" should be avoided.
He is firmly convinced that it is both possible and necessary to study Byzantium and Byzantine theol- Page viii ogy, not only as carriers of religious orthodoxy, but also as historical phenomena of mixed cultural content. Theological orthodoxy itself cannot be fully defined and conceptually expressed without careful and critical historical research, which serves to overthrow idols and to avoid misconceptions. On the other hand, this same research, if it is really objective, shows the existence of a remarkable and theologically consistent tradition, which includes the Greek Fathers of the fourth century, the christology of Cyril of Alexandria, and the synthesis of Maximus the Confessor and of Gregory Palamas.