What does it mean to “think Orthodox”? What are the unspoken and unexplored premises and presumptions underlying what Christians believe? Orthodox Christianity is based on preserving the mind of the early Church, its phronema. Dr. Jeannie Constantinou brings her more than forty years’ experience as a professor, Bible teacher, and speaker to bear in explaining what the Orthodox phronema is, how it can be acquired, and how that phronema is expressed in true Orthodox theology—as practiced by those who are properly qualified by both training and a deep relationship with Christ.
Thinking Orthodox: Understanding and Acquiring the Orthodox Christian Mind
- Item Weight : 1lb. 9oz. ounces
- Paperback : 380 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-1-944967-70-3
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Ancient Faith Publishing
- Language: : English
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- JKM5.0 out of 5 starsReviewed in the United States on November 28, 2020"I couldn’t put this book down. I highly recommend this book to all: cradle Orthodox and converts; Catholics who want to understand about the Eastern lung of their church; to Protestants who want to live like Christians in Apostolic and Patristic times. It is one of the most important and impactful books that I have every read and wish I could have read it 40 years ago. I learned about history such as why and how the Orthodox mind differs from the Western mind, both Catholic and Protestant. I learned about theology and how the Fathers viewed and taught the faith the way Dr. Constantinou does so well. I learned apologetics which, coincidently, helped me address questions my Godson called to ask me while I was reading this book. Most importantly for me the book was both catechetical and prophetic: catechetical in that it showed me how lacking my mind and practice was from the Church’s Apostolic and Patristic phronema (mind of the Church); it was prophetic in how I was able to see my sin so that I can repent and cry out like blind Bartimaeus – LORD Jesus, Christ, have mercy on me! “To God be the glory.”Alex from Southern California "_______________________________________
Archpriest John A. McGuckin. PhD. D.D. DLitt.
"Dr. Constantinou has written a marvellously timely book that is an education in itself as well as being a delight to read. Her long professional background as an eminent professor, and her years as a speaker on Ancient Faith Radio, has given her the gift of being able to communicate deep truths with great clarity and force. Her lifetime of pastoral and spiritual immersion in the Orthodox church also makes her a teacher whose touch is light and unfailingly gracious.
The work sets out to do something quite complex and difficult, but the reader would hardly know this from the fluent lucidity with which she writes. The book sets out to present the whole Ethos of the Orthodox church, through the lens of what it means to be a theologian. An ethos is a very difficult thing to pin down. Many people in the world today, where every other person seems to have a keyboard and an internet uploader ready to hand, try to speak for the Orthodox experience. Many of them come across as rigid, antiquarian, closed off and, basically, unpleasantly narrow. This is disheartening because the true experience of the Eastern Orthodox ethos is one of liberating spirituality and mystical joy – the experience, at root, of finding the grace of the Risen Christ. That some voices present the Church as a joyless cell comprised of forbidding rules and patriarchal grandiosity, serves to draw a false Icon of the Christ whom Orthodoxy knows. I once knew of a monastery where a young novice asked a blessing to paint an icon of Christ. When he finished it he brought it to his abbot. The figure of the Lord looked rather pained and constrained: the whole icon was hunched and severe. The abbot looked at it for a while and said to the young monk: ‘You have a lot you must still understand about the love of the Lord. Don’t paint anymore for a long time.’
Dr. Constantinou has certainly understood the pathways of the life of the Orthodox church, and truly entered into its spirit and culture. Having encountered many narrowly bigoted guides on modern media, who claim to be speaking for the whole church, she makes a fine response – like the abbot I mentioned. Beginning with the witness of St. Gregory the Theologian who, in his First Theological Discourse (Oration 27) warned against those who rashly undertake the task of speaking about theology, and set out the kinds of characteristics that invariably accompany the genuine theologian, Dr. Constantinou begins a patient and thorough account of what it is to inhabit the spiritual, theological, and sacramental world of Eastern Orthodoxy.
By the time she ends her study she has taken us on a ‘Grand Tour’ through patristics and spirituality, through the Orthodox church’s customs, and feasts: and above all that ‘inner mind’ that grows on one, and in one, as a person accommodates him or herself to the growing culture of Orthodoxy which being in the Church nurtures and fosters within a person. This is what St. Paul called ‘that mindset which was in Christ Jesus’, the phronema Christou (Phil. 2.5). How this grows in us, and what it entails for those who wish to develop it, is the key subject of this book.
The study opens with an extended study of what an Orthodox mindset is, and how it often is at such an angle of diffraction to the presumptions of western forms of Christianity (Roman catholic and Protestant alike) that people are usually unaware that they are foisting onto Orthodoxy their own presumptions and thinking they have it sewn up when all along they have very little knowledge or empathy for a Church that is often more hidden than revealed. It places the experience of paradox at the heart of Orthodoxy’s confession: at once ambivalent and sure; perfectly eloquent while being mysteriously quiet and open-ended; yet proven as true in the remarkable consonance it demonstrates across the centuries and across living generations of men and women who have adopted it into their hearts and souls, and thus demonstrate the self-same signs of the possession of the grace of the Risen Lord in their day to day lives.
I would like to imagine that anyone who considers opening up an internet blog-site purporting to speak for Orthodoxy, would ‘have to’ study this book as a pre-requisite, and pass a basic comprehension exam on its basis. That is a forlorn hope: but I can dream what I dream. But with a more realistic hope, I would also like to see this placed into the hands of every seminarian (of any Church) who was going on towards possible ordination and the office of teaching other Christians. It contains all the most important material that rarely gets mentioned in a graduate theology course: the kind of things that ought to be the preliminary foundation. Priests would find here much to share. I loved the little aside that a rambling priest with nothing to say in a sermon fools nobody: least of all himself. Even when the sting lands home, it is all done with kindly graciousness. Illustrating her thesis, all the way through the book, with patristic and historical examples, the study becomes a veritable little library of patristics: deep and useful, and always engaging the interest.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book as essential reading and I hope and pray it will have a wide dissemination, for it pulls our public Orthodox discourse back onto true and solid ground. In that, it is like the vesperal bell sounding over the fields as evening falls, reminding us of the Joyful Light we have because of the glory that God has given us as Orthodox: but also that duty we may well not have thought about enough, as yet; which is to communicate the grace of the Lord as best we can by offering to others those shining treasures we have in our most beautiful church.
Archpriest John A. McGuckin. PhD. D.D. DLitt.
Professor of Early Christian Thought, Theology Faculty, Oxford University.
Fellow of the British Royal Historical Society."