The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, 200-1000 AD

Feast of Nicodemus the Righteous of Mount Athos
The Rise of Western Christendom: Triumph and Diversity, 200-1000 AD by Peter Brown; 3rd edition

Brown_Christendom_Square.jpegPETER BROWN tackles an enormous topic in a short space in this tenth anniversary, revised edition of the 1997 original. In an important new 47-page preface, Brown sums up recent arguments in the field of Late Antiquity and points the reader to a “short selection” of... Continue Reading

A Guide to Living in the Truth: St Benedict's Teaching on Humility

Feast of St Kyriake the Great Martyr
A Guide to Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey

807398_5.jpgON THE understanding of written texts, philosopher and classicist Allan Bloom remarks, “The hardest thing of all is the simplest to formulate: every word must be understood. It is hard because the eye tends to skip over just those things which are most shocking or call into... Continue Reading

Defending Constantine

Feast of Peter and Paul, the Holy Apostles
Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom by Peter J. Leithart

Defending_Constantine_Square.jpgAND THE search for the historical Constantine continues. Reexamining the major primary sources on Constantine and the emperor’s own recorded words, the ever-engaging Peter Leithart paints a very different picture from the one promoted by Constantine’s pagan enemies, and ultimately transmitted to us by Gibbon... Continue Reading

Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives

Feast of St Kalliope the Martyr
Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives by Peter C. Bouteneff

Bouteneff__Beginnings.jpgTHE DEBATE about human origins has all but overtaken discussions of “faith issues” in mainstream media. Each side wishes to present the other as a laughable absurdity, and we are led to believe that historic Christianity is singularly proved or undone by the amassing of scientific research. In this scenario,... Continue Reading

The Arena: An Offering to Contemporary Monasticism

Feast of Sts Carpos and Alphaeus, Apostles of the 70
The Arena: An Offering to Contemporary Monasticism by St. Ignatius Brianchaninov; translated by Archimandrite Lazarus

Brianchaninov__The_Arena_book_Square.jpegBISHOP IGNATIUS Brianchaninov (1807-1867, glorified 1988) composed this manual in two parts, the first on the inner life, the second on outer conduct, of a monk. It is rooted firmly in Scripture, the Fathers (especially John Climacus and Isaac the Syrian) and the author’s... Continue Reading

Orthodox Spirituality

Feast of St Euphrasia the Martyr of Nicea and Stephen I, Patriarch of Constantinople
Orthodox Spirituality: A Practical Guide for the Faithful and a Definitive Manual for the Scholar by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae

Staniloae__Orthodox_Spirituality_Cover.jpgSOMETIMES it is best to stand aside and let the author speak for himself: “Orthodox spirituality has as its goal the deification of man and his union with God, without being merged with Him. It has... Continue Reading

Maximus the Confessor

Feast of St Hilary the Wonderworker
Maximus the Confessor (Routledge Early Church Fathers) by Andrew Louth

Louth_Maximus_square.jpegST MAXIMUS was a seventh-century Byzantine aristocrat—he was at one time Secretary to the Emperor—who became a monk and one of the most celebrated Byzantine theologians. A prolific writer, he was famous for, among other things, his important contributions to the Christological debate (he opposed Monothelitism) that led up to the decisions of... Continue Reading

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses

Feast of St Mark, Bishop of Arethusa
Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels As Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham

Christ_Teaching_Square.jpegTHE ROLE of eyewitnesses in transmitting true information about Jesus and his ministry is affirmed in many crucial passages of the New Testament, epitomized in the First Epistle of John: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have... Continue Reading

The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks

Feast of St. Patrick
The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks translated by Benedicta Ward

Ward_desert_frs_square.jpgTHIS TRANSLATION of the Vitae Patrum has it all: comical stories, thwarted demons, sagacious aphorisms, and hard truths. Open the book at random and you’ll find a pearl some fourth century monk sold all for and spent a lifetime seeking. Take Bessarion, who on his deathbed said, “A monk ought to be... Continue Reading

The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse

Feast of St Procopius the Confessor and St Raphael of Brooklyn
The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse by Steven D. Smith

Disenchantment_of_Secular_Discourse_Square.jpegTHOSE WHO bemoan (or tune out) that American tower of Babel known as “public discourse” should certainly tune in to these reflections on why such conversations are either deplorably shallow, degraded, or at best inconclusive. Smith dismisses the usual suspects (technology, education, religion in the public square) to focus... Continue Reading